08 November 2009

Open Invitation

UPDATE: Day 6 -- This post has been up for about a week, and as you can see there has been some interesting and thoughtful discussion. Some of the discussion has been extremely useful for me to sort out how best to present my arguments to others, particularly on the (admittedly ill-formed on my part) question of whether current technology is sufficient to meet the challenge of decarbonizing the economy. Thanks to all who have replied thus far.

Of the people that I called out, William Connolley is the only person to respond, and he did so in a thoughtful way. He indicated that at least on the points that I raise here, there is little in the way of substantive disagreement. So thanks William. Tim Lambert showed up in the comments wanting to play "he said/he said" but beyond that, he refused to engage the substantive issues. Joe Romm, the Real Climate guys and other loud critics are no shows.

What do I take from this? Well, what else to conclude other than that my strongest critics would prefer not to debate me directly on substantive issues? The invitation remains open and will remain so. On a few of the 10 points I will probably offer up a revised perspective in a separate thread in recognition of the conversations so far. When I see criticism of me focused on trivial issues or based on a misrepresentation of my views, I'll point people to this thread and invite them to engage on more important questions.

So when you hear that I am a "denier" or the "most debunked person on the internet" you might ask why it is that those making such claims refuse a perfectly good opportunity to show the world that this is so. Calling names and mobbing/bullying on the internet is easy. But engaging in substantive discussions is easy too. The choice will remain theirs.

Here is an open invitation to my loudest critics. I'd like to invite Joe Romm, Tim Lambert, the guys at Real Climate, William Connolley and anyone else (apologies to critics not mentioned, no slight intended;-) to engage in a substantive debate on the following 10 conclusions that I've reached about the climate issue, based on the fact that the human influence on climate is real, serious and deserving of significant policy attention:

1. There is no greenhouse gas signal in the economic or human toll record of disasters.
2. The IPCC has dramatically underestimated the scale of the stabilization challenge.
3. Geoengineering via stratospheric injection or marine cloud whitening is a bad idea.
4. Air capture research is a very good idea.
5. Adaptation is very important and not a trade off with mitigation.
6. Current mitigation policies, at national and international levels, are inevitably doomed to fail.
7. An alternative approach to mitigation from that of the FCCC has better prospects for success.
8. Current technologies are not sufficient to reach mitigation goals.
9. In their political enthusiasm, some leading scientists have behaved badly.
10. Leading scientific assessments have botched major issues (like disasters).

Here is my guarantee:

Your comments will be allowed here in full, they will not be deleted or snipped. I will delete comments that are off topic much more rigorously than I usually do to keep a clear focus. Anyone can participate, but I will require respectful, substantive discussion at all times. If there is enough interest, I will be happy to spin off unique threads for any of the 10 topics that people want to challenge or debate.

OK guys here is your chance to step up and show the world where I am wrong based on a substantive discussion of issues that really matter. What do you say? All are welcome.

104 comments:

Andrew said...

"Adaptation is very important and not a trade off with mitigation."

Surely if we have limited resources to invest, we would suffer opportunity loss to adapt if we spent money on "mitigation".

Or are you operating under the ludicrous assumption that either a. There is enough money to do however much of both is "needed" or b. that mitigation schemes actually "create" wealth (rather than destroying it as they in fact do)?

Jeff said...

Pretty tough to argue with that.

W.E. Heasley, CLU, LUTCF said...

Mr. Pielke:

Your idea has merit. Seems like a very nice invitation.

However, they may well decline or dismiss the invitation as they will in fact be “challenged“ if they accept. If memory serves: “The debate is over”. That is to say, they don’t want challenged. They want an insulated one sided debate. Its along the lines of Dr. Spash’s paper being suppressed.

Vegas odds are that the kind invitation and probably yourself will immediately be vilified.

Len Ornstein said...

Roger:

Although I don't rate as one of your loudest critics – on the issue of your number 8., I ask you to explain why "CURRENT TECHNOLOGIES are not sufficient to reach the mitigation goals" by the kind of routes outlined on your father's October 26th blog:

Guest Weblog By Len Ornstein “How To Quickly Lower Climate Risks, At ‘Tolerable’ Costs?”

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-1-Andrew

In response to point #5 . . .

Adaptation is a trade-off with mitigation just as mitigation is a trade off with military spending. So yes there is a finite amount of resources, but adaptation and mitigation are not narrow trade-offs, like say investing in more nuclear subs is a trade off with more battleships.

My point is simply that we can and will do both, and doing more of one does not imply doing less of the other.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-4-Len

In response to point #8

I have seen your papers, and they are interesting, but I do not think that they qualify as "current technologies" in the same way that chemical air capture is not a "current technology." Sure all the parts are there, but they have never been implemented at scale.

Right now they are interesting proposals worth further examination.

Marlowe Johnson said...

Roger,

My earlier comment appears to have been gobbled. By air capture do you mean chemical sequestration methods only, or are you referring to sequestration more generally (e.g. biochar, ccs, etc.)? I suspect you'll find little disagreement if it's the latter.

I'd echo Len's request on #8. What do you mean by sufficient? We have the technologies to solve the problem. We don't have the political will to deploy them. The reasons for this are numerous and complicated and I think your readers would benefit from your thoughts on this.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-7-Marlowe Johnson

Sorry, didn't ever see that earlier comment.

In response to #8 ...

Air capture has chemical, biological and geological techniques. I've been strongly criticized for suggesting more work be done on air capture, so I'd expect some disagreement;-)

As far as the other point, I think that it is best addressed quantitatively. Lets start with the EIA projection of world energy consumption in 2030, which is 678 Quads, which already includes a wide range of assumptions of rates of spontaneous decarbonization, including a 60% increase in nuclear + renewable energy.

How will the remaining 564 quads of energy be provided in a manner consistent with a low stabilization target? It may be useful to know that 1 quad equals about 11 GW, or about 15 nuclear power plants, for a total of 8160 plants. The magnitude of this task is there are about 7300 days until 2030, meaning that you'll need a new plant coming online every several days from now until then (depending on your target).

I use nuclear plants as a "level of effort" metric, you can substitute whatever other variable you'd like. The point will be the same.

So yes, we have nuclear technology (for example) but I don't find it "sufficient" for the task before us.

EIA data:
http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/ieo/excel/figure_14data.xls

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

I should add, that this thread is not the place to debate topics other than the 10 assertions listed above. This is not the place for a general discussion of climate science. Sorry;-)

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

Also, since I am not welcome to post at some of the sites listed above, I would appreciate it if one of you readers here could add a link to this post in the relevant comments of relevant blogs.

I added links in the post so each should see the trackbacks, but just to be sure . . .

Len Ornstein said...

Roger:

I beg to differ ;-)

Large numbers of ALREADY 'STANDARD"' RO desalination plants, aqueduct systems and irrigation systems, are QUITE DIFFERENT from large numbers of enormous CCS plants, not one of which has ever yet been built! And harvesting fallen trees in old-growth tropical forests involves no R & D.

Scaling from even a few ALREADY OPERATING examples of efficient technologies – to many more examples, is usually considered using "current technologies".

That's quite different from scaling to many examples of PROPOSED, but not yet built or tested CCS designs and designing vast networks of potential dangerous high pressure pipelines that will course through our neighborhoods.

That's not to say that my proposals are slam dunk. But they differ from ALL other proposals (geoengineering, CCS and otherwise) in providing an almost complete solution to the increasing CO2 problem (they could 'forever' deliver about 8 to 13 GtC/yr in new bio-sequestration) – and differ in not REQUIRING the invention and development of new technologies.

8. seems to imply that you believe that only NEW technologies (yet to be developed – or even proposed?) can possibly reach mitigation goals!

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-11-Len

#8

No. To be clear, I am not implying that we need "new" or "un-thought-of" technologies. The technologies that we need are certainly variants of the technologies that we have now, only better.

Similarly, if I wrote in 1904 that we did not have the technology to fly across the ocean, someone might ask what about the airplane? I'd reply that we could not fly across the ocean with current technologies. That is what I mean. Make sense?

See the CATF/CSPO report that I recently linked to for more discussion along these lines.

Andrew said...

Okay, that makes more sense.

RWP said...

A very basic point on carbon chemical sequestration from the atmosphere; my back-of-the-envelope quick-and-dirty calculations show the minimal thermodynamic free energy needed to take carbon dioxide at 300 ppm in air and compress and purify it to pure gas at 70 bar (where it will liquify at RT) is about 30 kJ/mol. Burning carbon gives about 400 kJ/mol of heat, but an efficient US power plant typically converts only 40% of that to electrical energy (mostly because of thermodynamics), so you only get about 160 kJ/mol from that. So the absolute best you can do on atmospheric sequestration is to capture about 5 moles of CO2 for every mole you generate. Of course, nobody knows how to do sequestration at nearly that efficiency, and if we ever got to 2 moles CO2 captured per mole generated, I'd be astonished. Two steps forward for every one step back, if you're lucky. I'm sure someone has done these estimates before, though.

Sequestration from richer CO2 sources, such as smokestack gas, is easier, and might even be feasible (there's a pilot plant going on line right at the moment; we shall see).

As for other schemes, such as bio-based sequestration; it's sobering to calculate exactly how much plant material you need to grow to capture half the CO2 from the atmosphere.

I'm not one of your invited commenters, but I think 4 is very optimistic.

eric144 said...

I am not qualified to comment on technical issues. However numbers 6 to 9 are the way to go to pull the feet from those pretending to be scientists but are really playing politcs.

Carbon trading was inserted into the Kyoto Protocol and there is an incredibly high probability that it will be part of Copenhagen. In my view, that is virtually the complete story of AGW. The science follows that lead with the carrot of funding.

Number 9 is too polite by a long way.

Len Ornstein said...

Roger:

Not to flog a dead horse;

To your: "Similarly, if I wrote in 1904 that we did not have the technology to fly across the ocean, someone might ask what about the airplane? I'd reply that we could not fly across the ocean with current technologies. That is what I mean. Make sense?",

the answer is , NO!

The Wright brothers' plane couldn't cross the ocean. And adding a number of them together wouldn't do the job. So a new kind of airplane had to be designed and built – and some 22 years intervened.

One current typical desalination plant (and its power source) provides enough water for x trees. If we need xy trees to absorb all the CO2, we can build y desalination plants and power sources of the current variety to support the required irrigated forests – etc. That also may take quite a few years – but largely, for other reasons.

That's the difference.

DeWitt said...

RWP #14,

It gets worse. All you have in your calculation is a volume of liquid CO2 in a pressure vessel at the collection site. Now what are you going to do with it? You can't just drill a hole in the ground anywhere and pump it in. So add the energy to pump it through pipelines that don't currently exist to get to some stable geologic formation like a salt dome. That will be a fun environmental impact statement to write. Nuclear waste disposal is trivial and safe as houses by comparison.

David Stern said...

Comments on some of these:

1. Even if the disasters were trending up it would be hard to test this because other anthoropogenic effects like wetland removal are likely to be highly correlated with greenhouse gases too. It's need some sophisticated statistics to tease out.

2. I think costs are likely higher than standard computable general equilibrium models show. They probably overestimate the degree to which consumers can substitute away from fossil fuel intensive goods.

3. Agree.

4. Agree.

5. Agree.

6. Don't agree. We need agreement or coordination between the big three players - US, China, and EU and they are certainly beginning to coordinate their actions but slowly and going forward they might mitigate but not fast enough.

7. Well, what is it?

8. Not true I think. But cutting emissions as much as needed with current technology would likely be immensely costly but it's possible, in a way that flying across the Atlantic in 1904 wasn't.

No opinion really on 9 and 10.

Malcolm said...

I would add;

11. Professional journalism and environmental activism are mutually exclusive.

TokyoTom said...

Roger, in any I suspect that not all of those whom you`ve invited see an upside to their participation sufficient to justify their time, but I imagine that they might be turned off by the implicit premise that your invitees have been behaving badly.

On the other hand, might you actually pique their curiosity if you included in your premise the possibility that, in their political enthusiasm, not only some scientists but some political scientists may have behaved badly?

Xinghua said...

#16,

I understand your objection.

By 1910 (if not earlier) you could have found people who claimed to be able to build an airplane that could cross the Atlantic [If somebody wold just give them the money they needed to make it happen].

Perhaps some of them could have. But in retrospect, it seems likely that they would have encountered unexpected difficulties.

Similarly, while you may believe that your proposals merely scale existing technology, working against you is the fact that many people will look at your proposal and conclude that the challenges go beyond funding and scale, and require additional innovations.

I can practically hear a 1910 aviation pioneer talking just like Len ("One current typical desalination plant (and its power source) provides enough water for x trees. If we need xy trees to absorb all the CO2, we can build y desalination plants and power sources of the current variety to support the required irrigated forests") about a nonstop transatlantic flight.

In your defense, you have a much firmer grasp on the science than they had. But it seems a very good analogy to me.

Not only didn't the 1910 guy claiming he just needed to build a bigger wing, engine, and fuel tank understand why he was wrong, he probably didn't meet anyone at cocktail parties who could tell him exactly why he was wrong.

But the well educated people he talked to would most certainly have understood that attempting to do something on a dramatically different scale is seldom a simple undertaking.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-20-Tokyo Tom

Sure. I use the term "scientists" here as I define it in The Honest Broker, that is to say, plenty broad enough to include experts from all disciplines, including social, biological, physical sciences as well as the humanities.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-18-David Stern

Thanks.

On #8, I'll suggest the same exercise to you that I provided in #8 above. Show me.

Otherwise, lots of agreement ;-)

Sully said...

Dr. Pielke,
Your argument at 8 seems specious based on the fact that if the energy needed/generation capacity for 2030 is correct, and if it can be met, the world will somehow indeed produce how ever many generation plants are necessary to supply that need. Hard as it is to imagine building a nuclear plant every few days, the assumption of that final energy consumption total carries with it the assumption that some sort of plant can indeed be built every few days.

It's similarly hard to imagaine that the world currently extracts, moves and refines 82 million barrels of oil per day plus how ever many megatons of coal per day.

If the price incentives are there for the world to do a thing, and if that thing is humanly possible, the world will do that thing, no matter how unimaginable the details of the scale are.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-24-Sully

If you'd like a bit more technical analysis, please see this paper:

Pielke, Jr., R. A., Wigley, T., and Green, C., 2008. Dangerous assumptions. Nature, Vol. 452, No. 3, pp. 531-532.
http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/admin/publication_files/resource-2593-2008.08.pdf

You've confused the EIA BAU scenario with one that is massively decarbonized.

NoEtoh said...

Roger,
Your challenge is based on a faulty premise. Romm et al do NOT want a debate over the issues. Just the opposite. Their efforts are aimed at preventing discussion of the issues.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-26-NoEtoh

Perhaps this is true, but since Romm has alleged that I am the "most debunked person on the internet" (or something like that) he is making a judgment about the quality of my arguments. He could have said that I was ugly or smelly, but he has chosen to invoke my arguments as the basis for disagreement. The others as well.

So to be perfectly fair I am giving these guys a chance to engage on substance. I am perfectly willing to give them all the time they need to respond.

Should they continue to choose not to engage on substance, that will provide a pretty strong message itself. But, before jumping to that conclusion, lets give them a chance to engage.

RWP said...

Let me just add that while I think you're over-optimistic on 4, I don't have much disagreement on any of the other points; and I've been reading this blog recently because it's one of the very few places where climate change is discussed in a reasonably dispassionate and thoughtful way.

I hope that's neither over-ingratiating nor too off topic. :-)

Dean said...

Regarding #9 - the issue is very heated. While responding calmly to criticism is a good skill, it is also a rare one. And one not generaly considered a requirement for publishing in journals.

If everybody had the coolness under fire of somebody like Obama, it might help improve behavior. But very few people have that.

I'd also add that IMO your postings are not exempt from #9.

Sully said...

Dr. Pielke,
The paper you sent me to makes the same argument in expanded but lesser form, namely that the world will find it exceeding hard or perhaps impossible to achieve decarbonization under expected incentives. It doesn't address the fact that economies have always found ways to satisfy their energy needs even though the scale on which they do that is fantastic. Few, for example, would have predicted the dramatic expansion of the Chinese economy and the pace with which China has built and is building power plants and infrastructure.

The whole premise that CO2 control is possible is founded on changing incentives. I personally think it would be better to change those incentives explicitly and predictably, with a gradual and difficult to politically change rise in taxes on CO2 output. If something like that can't change the actual build of power plants and the actual increase in efficiency of use of energy that will occur over the next how ever many years, then nothing can do so; in which case we may as well just stick our heads in the sand.

To me complex and politically manipulable things like cap and trade are just inefficient and corrupting ways of sticking them in the sand. witness the insanity of massive German investment in solar in a cloudy northern climate and Dutch investment in wind without storage. If people were building solar in the Sahara and windmills near large hydro plants I'd have a lot more confidence that politicians can direct cures.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-29-Dean

Fair enough. I'm always looking to improve, so what you are referring to specifically would be helpful.

Saint said...

Roger: Re #8. The discussion about technology often misses the point that you can meet any emissions reduction goal with technology of any vintage. It boils down to a question of how much economic harm the public is willing to endure. Advanced technologies are not necessary to cut emissions appreciably--you can always shut down your economy. But they are necessary to cut emissions at a cost that is politically and economically acceptable and in a way that allows the functioning of a robust industrial economy with a large and growing energy appetite and population. So as a practical matter, you are correct that existing technologies are not up to the task (unless the task is a small one).

SBVOR said...

-29-Dean describes:

“the coolness under fire of somebody like Obama”

HELP! I’ve fallen on the floor laughing and I can’t get up!

Are you freaking KIDDING ME? Obama is the most (dangerously) thin-skinned, petulant and petty President EVER!

Marlowe Johnson said...

Roger,

Most of your posts in the past on air capture have focused on the chemical variety, which is where you have found so much disagreement, so I think you're creating a bit of a faux controversy on that point if your position is to fund any promising form of sequestration R&D.

Like most others here I doubt you'll find much disagreement with the positions as you've laid them out.

I'd suggest that the main issue that your detractors would identify is not so much with the positions you've highlighted above. Rather it's the choices that you make in what issues to highlight on your blog and elsewhere and the way in which you cover them. As an example I would highlight you're coverage of the recent Levitt controversy. Rather than focus on any number of the obvious issues that arise (e.g. financial incentive to be contrarian vs reasonable reporting of science) you chose instead to focus on Romm's quote feeding behaviour, which while lamentable (and duly acknowlegded by Romm) was a far lesser offence than what Levitt and Dubner have done.

It's a shame really, because I think you do have interesting things to offer to the debate particularly given your science policy background. I understand that blogging is a bit of a bloodsport but you'd do well to ask yourself honestly why you get this kind of response from so many people. And please resist the temptation to simply chalk it to tribalism.

As an example of the kind of thing that I'd wish you'd spend more time discussing on your blog are articles such as this one:

"Demand subsidies versus R&D: Comparing the uncertain impacts of policy on a pre-commercial low-carbon energy technology"

http://www.lafollette.wisc.edu/publications/workingpapers/nemet2008-006.pdf

cheers,

markbahner said...

Hi Roger,

I agree with most of your points. I don't agree with #4: "Air capture research is a very good idea". I think it's a very bad idea, with the exception of ocean iron fertilization (which I assume you don't even include as "air capture").

Air capture will always be relatively expensive, and does not even address more worthwhile pollutants (e.g. particulate from coal-fired power plants, black carbon emissions from diesels, particulates from stoves in undeveloped countries).

It would make much more sense to spend precious research dollars on advanced energy technologies, such as liquid floride thorium reactors (LFTRs), advanced batteries, and techniques to reduce the cost of natural gas and improve the efficiency with which natural gas is converted into useful products (e.g., small-scale natural gas cogeneration systems).

Tim Lambert said...

Ok, I agree with #9 and welcome the invitation to discuss your bad behaviour. You ducked discussion of this before and I'm glad that you are prepared to discuss the substance now. With reference to this, I note:

1) After complaining that DeLong and Romm don't link to his words when criticising him, he doesn't link to my words. Probably because he can't on account of his charges against me being fabrications.

2) In the very same sentence that he makes an ad hominem attack on me he alleges that I make ad hominem attacks. Does Pielke think ad hominem attacks are OK or not?

3) In the sentence directly following his claim that I see it as my sole job to trash Pielke's reputation with "innuendo, fabrication and outright misrepresentation", Pielke attempts to trash me using innuendo, fabrication and outright misrepresentation.

3a) Far from "carpet-bombing" the internet with references to my post about Pielke's botched Google search, I have never once referred to it.

3b) Even those (not me) who have referred to that post are not insinuating that Pielke is evil, but rather that he is incompetent.

3c) I have never blogged anything about Pielke attacking Gore.

3d) I have never said that "Pielke is the Devil!!" I believe that readers of my posts about Pielke are capable of drawing their own conclusions about his character. See for example, this post and the first 50 comments there.

3e) I have engaged with the substance of Pielke's work. See, for example, my post about Pielke's critique of Hansen's emission scenarios.

3f) Pielke is a political scientist. I am a computer scientist. Seems to me we are equally qualified or unqualified to comment on Hansen's work. And can you imagine what Pielke would say if Michael Mann had said that Ross McKitrick was professionally unqualified to comment on his work?

Dean said...

-31-Roger

First of all, you seem to have decided that challenging those who believe in AGW but have made mistakes as you see them, and paticularly RC, is your mission. It is one thing when the issue is your specialty, but that isn't always the case. Inserting yourself into the so-called "plagiarism" issue was one case. I also thought that your criticism of Trenberth was below the belt since the chapter in question came to similar conslusions as yours. Just that he didn't cite your paper. You do seem to be out there calling them out every chance you can get, whether or not it involves your work or specialty.

More generally, for somebody who wrote a book called "The Honest Broker" you seem uninterested in challenging unscientific deniers. Maybe you think others do that enough, but it hardly fits the role of an honest broker.

And please don't take this to mean I think your posts are uniquely bad. Nobody is perfect and I have written other sites when I felt it justified. But I'm not going to criticize them here.

I would add this regarding the more general issue of the behavior. There is a culture clash between those who want to resolve valid scientific debates on blogs and those who want to use traditional journals. You're squarely in the middle here, calling on scientists to debate you in this thread, but also calling on McIntyre to publish his criticism regarding Yamal.

It seems to me that the issue of RC "censorship" really just boils down to them not wanting to resolve debates with serious critics on the blog. They may not be 100% consistent on when they do and don't do that, but that is the core issue - as it looks to me. Briffa has not followed this and has now responded to McIntyre online, though not on a blog. I'm sure many are watching to see if the exchange ends up being productive, and I'm also sure that some are worried that it will only reinforce a bad trend. We will see.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-34-Marlowe Johnson

Thanks. You raise issues of taste and tone. Are you suggesting that might critics agree with me substantively, but don't like my focus or tone? Perhaps, but that is not what they say. While I am happy to discuss this, the focus here is on areas of substantive disagreement.

I'll be happy to take a look at the paper that you link!

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-36-Tim

Thanks for replying.

Since you did not address 1-8 and 10, can I ask for your views on those?

I don't think my readers (or I) are much interested in furthering the he said-he said discussions.

Let me just stipulate that you feel aggrieved by some things that I wrote and I feel the same about you. We have different opinions about these things that are not going to change with further debate. So lets move on. Please.

Do you have any views whatsoever on 1-8 and 10?

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-37-Dean

I do occasionally challenge other scholars and academics. So what?

Did you read The Honest Broker? If so then you'll know why I don't think it fruitful to wage a political battle by challenging "deniers" on matters of science, in open or stealth fashion.

Any thoughts on the 10 assertions above?

Belette said...

You know where I live. If you want to talk to me, you should send me a mail or post an off-topic comment on my blog. Please don't rely on me finding stuff here.

As for your questions: I'm mostly interested in climate change science. I don't see that appearing on your list. My guess would be thats because you basically accept the IPCC 2007 WG I assessment. But it would be best to add it to your list as a point 0 - basic, easily forgotten, but shouldn't be.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-41-William Connolley

Thanks for dropping by. Do know that I don't often comment at your site due to your policy of snipping and annotating. It is your site to run as you please of course.

The reason for this post, as you can read, is to give my loudest critics a chance to have at me on issues of critical importance in the climate debate 9as opposed to the usual blog-debates that I and others are tiered of). I hope that you will choose to engage.

I understand that you are interested in climate science, given your background. My interest is in climate policy and the intersection of science and policy. Now that we have reintroduced ourselves, let me ask:

Do you disagree with any of 1-10? If so which ones and why?

I will follow your request and send this by email as well. I'll await your reply, which you can do at your site (and I'll link or here in the comments).

Thanks.

SBVOR said...

1) -41-Belette (William Connolley) offers essentially the same observation I made in my (unpublished) response to -9-Roger. My exact quote was:

“You predicate ALL 10 ’conclusions’ on what you (tellingly) assert to be the ‘fact’ that ‘the human influence on climate is… serious and deserving of significant policy attention’.

And yet, you (consistently) decline to offer any defense of the predicate.”

2) I remind you (again) that, on 7/31/09, you promised to “address it [your predicate] directly in an upcoming post.

More recently, you suggested I could find your explanation in your latest book.

Sorry, that does NOT meet the terms of your own promise to “address it [your predicate] directly in an upcoming post.

Dr. Pielke, if -- as I believe -- you are a man of your word, the time has come to keep your promise. And, despite your pronouncement to the contrary, THIS is the thread where you should do it.

Respectfully,
SBVOR

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-43-SBVOR

It will not be this thread. Sorry. No more of this sort on this thread, please. Thanks.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

David Appell comments on #9:

http://davidappell.blogspot.com/2009/11/r-pielke-jrs-open-invitation.html

He writes: "I don't see any "scientists" behaving badly."

I respond as follows at his blog:

Dear David- Many thanks for taking this up.

Do you have any response to the other statements?

Also, I hope that you'll appreciate that my conclusions about the behavior of some climate scientists "behaving badly" (imprecise I know, but I do have specifics) are based on more than 15 years of experience in this community, and in particular seeing my own work misrepresented and worse. I'd be happy to discuss.

It is good to hear that your experience has been different.

All best.

Steve Reynolds said...

Dean: “It seems to me that the issue of RC "censorship" really just boils down to them not wanting to resolve debates with serious critics on the blog. They may not be 100% consistent on when they do and don't do that, but that is the core issue…”

I don’t know if this is on topic as addressing #9, but that seems a perceptive comment, and if it was an explicitly stated policy, it would not be much of an issue. The problem is that RC leads people to believe that it is a place to ask serious questions, and appears to try to hide the fact from their readers that some valid questions will not be allowed.

6_uEUHQVrNyV6thR_Sv6VkjZFIBe84E- said...

6. Current mitigation policies, at national and internation levels, are inevitably doomed to fail

In discussions of mitigation strategies, it would seem to me that there would have to be some agreement as to the costs, and the root cost in increasing CO2 is related to the degree of warming it causes.

What do you believe to be the value for climate sensitivity. How much warming should we expect for a doubling of CO2.

Without some agreement on a range for that value, I don't see how you can assess the cost of 'doing nothing.'

Belette said...

I would have liked to see this added explicitly to Roger's list, but failing that I'll add it to my reply, which is predictaed on the assumption that we all agree that the IPCC 2007 WG I assessment is essentially correct in all important particulars.

You phrase your kind invitation to a policy debate as "an open invitation to my loudest critics... William Connolley". But while I've heavily criticised your for science errors (http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2009/10/oh_dear_oh_dear_oh_dear_oh_dea.php, http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2008/05/losing_the_plot.php) I regard myself as largely in agreement with you on policy and disaster issues (e.g. http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2009/06/death_and_disaster.php), when I've bothered to pay attention. So I doubt I'll have anything interesting to say in response to your questions. But anyway:

1. There is no greenhouse gas signal in the economic or human toll record of disasters.

I think I can point you at http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2009/06/death_and_disaster.php for this one.

2. The IPCC has dramatically underestimated the scale of the stabilization challenge.

Off the top of my head, I'd say I dont know. You'd have to point me at some writing to try to convince me of this, if you wanted to.

3. Geoengineering via stratospheric injection or marine cloud whitening is a bad idea.

Starting to actually do it now is definnitely a bad idea. I wouldn't object to a limited research programme.

4. Air capture research is a very good idea.

The evidence I've seen so far suggests not. CCS appears more promising but is not currently economically viable.

5. Adaptation is very important and not a trade off with mitigation.

Not really my area of interest. If you really want to push me to comment you'll have to give me some text to work off.

6. Current mitigation policies, at national and international levels, are inevitably doomed to fail.

Do you mean Kyoto? It doesn't seem to be working well, unless your objective from it is to go to lots of expensive meetings in pleasant cities. I'd prefer a carbon tax (http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2009/09/france_unveils_carbon_tax.php; http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2009/02/post.php).

7. An alternative approach to mitigation from that of the FCCC has better prospects for success.

Seems a bit vague. If you mean, doing *anything* different, then no, obviously. Perhaps yyou have a specific proposal in mind?

8. Current technologies are not sufficient to reach mitigation goals.

No.

9. In their political enthusiasm, some leading scientists have behaved badly.

Looks like fishing; I'll pass. If you have specific examples, provide them. Oh wait no, I can give some of my own: Singer has behaved badly, for example, as has Michaels. Though you might not consider them "leading".

10. Leading scientific assessments have botched major issues (like disasters).

I refer you to #1.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-48-William Connolley

Yes, here as well let us stipulate that you and I have had some minor disagreements over issues like how to interpret observed temperature trends in the context of an ensemble of climate model projections, and issues associated with the Hockey Stick. You think I am wrong and I think you are wrong. We are probably not going to change each others minds. This is not the post to discuss these topics (there are others). Sorry.

I am happy to see you write, "I regard myself as largely in agreement with you on policy and disaster issues," when you've taken the time to learn what my views actually are.

I'd characterize your comments as saying that we've had some disagreements about minor issues, but you really have no serious quibbles with the bigger, more important questions as related to climate policy (but that you don't characterize yourself as an expert in that context anyway). Fair enough?

Belette said...

> "I regard myself as largely in agreement with you on policy and disaster issues," when you've taken the time to learn what my views actually are.

No, I'd have to disagree with that, since it implies me changing my mind. I pointed you at something from June; I could have found earlier stuff if I'd tried.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-50-William

You are now disagreeing with what you've written. The point of this post is to elicit where my most vocal critics actually disagree with my work. So if you now say that you disagree with the statement that you made earlier:

"I regard myself as largely in agreement with you on policy and disaster issues (e.g. http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2009/06/death_and_disaster.php), when I've bothered to pay attention."

Could you clarify for the record a perspective that you'd be happy to agree with yourself on? ;-)

If there are substantive points of disagreement, then by all means lets hear them.

Tim Lambert said...

Roger, I'm disappointed that you've changed your mind about discussing #9. Your behaviour has led to people rejecting everything you say on #1-8 and #10, so discussion there would probably help you.

As for my opinion on 1-9,10, since you reckon that I am "professionally unqualified to engage in the substance of most debates (certainly the case with respect to my own work)", I am afraid that I must conclude that you are not genuinely interested in my opinions on those matters.

jgdes said...

Roger
Can I ask you why you think air capture is a good idea? Most folk would say, like Stoat, that it makes more sense to capture it at source. The only reason to push air capture instead would be that the alleged long (though hugely imprecise) lifetime of CO2 makes real reductions of CO2 by CCS impossible. Is that why you push air capture?

Also would you go as far as to say that not just disasters but also extreme weather events do not have a greenhouse gas signal?

BTW, I think we can all interpret Stoat as saying that he has always agreed with you on policy and disaster issues, despite any appearances to the contrary. Maybe he could tell his new pal Brad DeLong that and Brad can then manfully apologize for somehow getting the wrong end of the stick.

Dean said...

Roger - I addressed #9 because I'm not a climate scientist, and on issues of genuine scientific debate of the science, I don't really feel qualified to choose sides. Sometimes I know enough science to understand what the different positions are - sometimes - but far-be-it for me to evaluate RCS and its variations when it comes to proxy reconstructions, or to choose whether the CO2 contribution to AGW is 20%, 30%, or 40%.

One thing I would add regarding what policy has the best chance of succeeding re AGW. In a post some time ago, you asked which inadequate policies that had passed in the past were then improved so that they actually could work. It seems that there are many such examples, from traditional pollution laws like the Clean Air Act, to control of the ozone hole. So while we can't be sure if one of the proposed laws now under consideration would be improved enough, it seems to me that the likelihood that the failure to pass anything would result in consideration of something much better very soon is even less likely.

Despite it's faults, I expect that the existing system is the best way we have to find and correct any mistakes that may exist in what is often called the consensus viewpoint, or what I also sometime call the establishment viewpoint on AGW.

I haven't read your book because it isn't available in my library, and I rarely buy books. If it is possible to say briefly, or better yet, provide a link, to why you think it is more effective or valuable to criticize RC than deniers, I would like to see it.

And since I think that a very large barrier is getting many countries, particularly rapidly industrializing ones to fully participate, showing a willingness to take serious action, even if inadequate, will have value for that purpose as well. I know some AGW activists who are working to defeat W-M. They say that then we can consider a carbon tax. Who? The Congress? Hah.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-52-

Tim, the invitation to hear your views is sincere, so please do share them.

As far as my being incorrect on one of the 10 issues meaning that my views on the other 9 can be rejected, that is an interesting perspective, and I'd guess there is a logical fallacy associated with that kind of thinking.

Anyway, please do share your views on the other topics.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-53-jgdes

Air capture and CCS are not either/or. I think that the challenge of decarbonization is so challenging that we should keep options open, so I have advocated air capture receive more research attention. Others have come to this conclusion as well. Right now air capture receives about $1.5 million (!) in research funding. I think that number could be expanded by a few orders of magnitude. See my paper in Environmental Science and Policy for a more in depth discussion.

"Extreme weather events" is a big category, and I'd encourage you to look at the summary in the IPCC for specific phenomena. Detection of changes has not been argued for many phenomena, and attribution for even fewer.

Finally, thanks for the re-interpretation of WC's comments, perhaps he'll clarify.

Sully said...

Evolution has been designing and refining CO2 air capture systems for a very long time. Hard to think that it wouldn't be more economical to expand and encourage peat bogs, to take one example, than to build mechanical devices to capture a dilute gas that then has to be compressed or reacted with a capture compound, etc.

But I agree with you that $1.5 Million is a preposterous figure. The coffee and danish budget at MIT probably tops that.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-54-Dean

In a nutshell, I think that bad behavior by the folks at Real Climate does more to hurt the cause for action than the political actions of the skeptics. Here is some background I wrote a while ago:

http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/more-on-real-climate-as-honest-broker-3457

"To be fair to Real Climate, I am focusing on them because (a) they are an important experiment at the interface of science and policy/public, their role invites STS-type analyses (b) we have an ongoing and I think unique conversation here on Prometheus with numerous Real Climate scientists on this subject and (c) Real Climate claims to be serving as an honest broker, in contrast to many other groups in the climate arena who clearly identify their role as issue advocates. We have at times taken a similar role in critiquing the IPCC. Also, it is worth repeating that our critique of Real Climate does not imply any affinity with those who critique Real Climate on the basis of the contrarian/mainstream science-cum-political debate on climate change."

ourchangingclimate said...

I'm perhaps not your loudest critic, though I have been critical; here're my comments.

1. I don’t know; your work in this area appears quite robust. The PDI (power dissipation index, a measure of hurricane power) has increased though, from what I’ve read. Overall, the jury is still out on the hurricane question it seems like.

2. I don’t know, but see also 8.

3. At this point in time, it definitely is a bad idea. But we may reach a point where the climate risks start to outweigh the geoengineering risks. So I think it prudent to investigate geoengineering schemes in case of climate catastrophies. I agree with Ken Caldeira: “I hope I never need a parachute, but if my plane is going down in flames, I sure hope I have a parachute handy. I hope we'll never need geoengineering schemes, but if a climate catastrophe occurs, I sure hope we will have thought through our options carefully.” I contributed to a small scale assessment of “other” climate reduction possibilities, for which I wrote chapter 6 on geo-engineering and air capture. In Section 6.4 I discuss the context and risks associated with both. I plan to write more about the topic on my blog in the near future.

4. Agreed (though it’s not a holy grail; it’s not even close to large scale implementation). I would perhaps single out biochar application as especially promising, since it appears to have numerous co-benefits. Global scale climate mitigation effects are limited though.

5. Both adaptation and mitigation are important, but I would emphasize the latter, since it dominates the long-term risk we expose future generations to (CO2 has a very long lifetime). Over-emphasizing the former risks de-emphasizing the latter, so it’s a tricky balance. The four basic response strategies (emission reduction – air capture – geoengineering – adaptation) are not mutually exclusive, but each of them lowers the (perceived) necessity for the other measures to be implemented (if the long lifetime of CO2 is ignored, that is, which politicians likely will).

6. It all comes down to what is being decided in the political process. I am however pessimistic about the politics coming up to speed with what is known scientifically and what is possible technologically (which is a lot more than what is on the political table, see also 8). Nothing is “doomed to fail”; we have the choice.

7. I don’t know. Depends what the proposed alternative is I guess.

8. Perhaps that is the case for the long term, but I think it bears stressing that current technologies are hopelessly underused. David Keith and others have pointed out that even with current technology we could decarbonize the entire electricity production for a few % of GDP. There’s clearly a lot more we can do with current technology and other (efficiency) measures than we are currently doing. That doesn’t negate the importance of R&D, which is still needed to make emission reductions cheaper, and to make bigger and faster reduction possible. But it shouldn’t be an excuse for not doing more with the possibilities we currently have.

9 (the hot potatoe) will follow.

Bart
Bart

ourchangingclimate said...

(cont'd)

9. Without specifics, this is impossible to answer, and is bound to lead to mutual misunderstanding. I could try reading your mind of course. You probably have some of your critics in mind, notably some RC scientists as well as Hansen, who you have criticized. I find this very problematic. In most instances that I followed (involving Gavin Schmidt, Michael Tobis, Eric Steig, Briffa at different occasions), I have found your and others criticisms off base, besides the point, largely irrelevant to the bigger picture and having the smell of a smear campaign (science-bashing). As I wrote to you regarding the latest McIntyre affair (your “hockeystick gets personal” thread, see my review here: http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2009/10/06/mcintyres-role-in-the-latest-teapot-tempest/): “A lot of scientists are getting understandably frustrated with self-proclaimed auditors of science (and their supporters) who cast doubt about a whole scientific field by blowing minor flaws out of proportion and insinuate accusations of scientific misconduct”. Against this backdrop of a lot of people ready to embrace any little nitpicked criticism as if it overthrows the whole scientific consensus, and ignore the mountain of evidence in favour of this consensus, I can perfectly well understand that a lot of scientists (and their supporters) are getting frustrated having to deal with this behavior and (mostly) fake arguments. In the grand scheme of things, the big problem as I see it is the contempt of science and its practitioners by a sizeable segment of the general public and some high profile bloggers; if a scientist responds to faux criticism in a frustrated tone, I find that a minor flaw in comparison. Granted, they (climate scientists) are your subject of study, so you naturally focus on their behaviour, but at the same time, please consider the context in which they operate, as well as the main message they are trying to convey. In light of this, your claim that "bad behavior by the folks at Real Climate does more to hurt the cause for action than the political actions of the skeptics" is preposterous. William brought up Fred Singer already.

10. I don’t know.

Guess the bottom line is that I don’t strongly disagree with you on most points, but that I find your choice of ‘problem areas’ to focus on peculiar in light of the much bigger problems (as I see them) just adjacent to them. Excluding that context risks giving a false impression of what’s going on, especially to those who are not in the loop and to those wishing to see their pre-conceived notions confirmed.

Regards,
Bart Verheggen

(cross posted at my blog)

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-59, 60-Bart

Thanks for the very thoughtful set of replies.

With respect to Kerry's PDI, please do have a look at this paper, which explains why an increasing PDI in the NATL is not inconsistent with lack of trend in damage, and as well you'll find another surprise;-)

http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/admin/publication_files/resource-2786-2009.47.pdf

As far as whether or not studying the role of scientists in society is a "peculiar" focus. Well, I guess guilty as charged. People in universities study many subjects other than climate change, and I suppose most are "smaller problems." There is a community of scholars who study science, for better or worse.

I laid out my case for why the politicization of science by scientists matters in a book (THB). You may choose disagree with the arguments in that book. I'd welcome such a discussion. But to call such work a "smear campaign" or "science bashing" is to dodge the arguments I actually make in a rather ironic fashion.

So I guess if you want to object to the study of scientists in society as illegitimate or unworthy, fine. But if you want to engage the arguments made in this area of scholarship, I'd ask that you engage the arguments on the terms that they are made. Fair enough?

Thanks.

http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/admin/publication_files/resource-2786-2009.47.pdf

ourchangingclimate said...

Roger, you wrote: “As far as whether or not studying the role of scientists in society is a “peculiar” focus.”

That was not my point. E.g. I think it is peculiar to call RealClimate’s behavior more damaging that that of “skeptics” (such as Fred Singer, Pat Michaels, etc. Also scientists, so also your subject of study, I guess?) I think it’s peculiar to blame scientists for correcting plain falsehoods with too strong words, and leave those falsehoods unchallenged.

Bart

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-62-Bart

What can I say other than sometimes research leads to counter-intuitive conclusions?

If someone says to you that they find the idea that humans can influence the giant Earth system, you'd point them to research that shows this is so. In my area as well, there is research.

The issue is not strong words, but waging a political battle through science. I'm happy to discuss.

Sharon F. said...

our changing climate:
It is with some hesitation I engage in this debate as I am a humble plant biologist by trade and science policy practitioner in a relatively unglamorous field;
I would take issue with your statement:

"In the grand scheme of things, the big problem as I see it is the contempt of science and its practitioners by a sizeable segment of the general public and some high profile bloggers; "

I think folks like Roger are only trying to hold scientists accountable for what we say:
scientific "knowledge claims" are special based on our unbiased, objective and to some extent reproducible results (many of our science fields require empirical evidence that our hypotheses are correct- climate science is problematic as that cannot occur in real time). He is calling us to be the best that we can be- to follow the ethics that our professional societies lay out with regard to science claims. I don't see him as in contempt of us scientists but rather honoring us by holding us to what we say.

In fact, I think that if you would read about "post-normal science" which is in science policy literature (Roger could provide a cite), you would discover that climate science is a great example. I would be interested in your take on this.. is it a post-normal science, and should climate scientists behave differently because of that in order to be more effective?

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

Thanks Sharon, PNS even has a Wikipedia page, with references:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-normal_science

My book (THB, left) is a exploration of PNS.

See also:

http://www.jerryravetz.co.uk/work.html

Sharon F. said...

having read the wikipedia cite, I would disagree with the statement:
"Few mainstream scientists advocate the approaches taken by post-normal science"
This makes it sound like scientists are generally aware of the work of science policy studies and the concept of post-normal science, which generally I have found that they are not.

In reality, there are a variety of practitioners at the science-policy interface who are testing these kinds of ideas and finding them useful.
One example:
http://www.hcn.org/blogs/grange/all-science-is-political
Perhaps climate scientists could learn something from scientists in the natural resource/conservation world who have been at this whole science policy thing a bit longer..
I particularly admire the Code of Ethics of the Oregon Chapter of the American Fisheries Society. Perhaps climate scientists could adopt a similar Code of Ethics?
http://www.orafs.org/pdfdocs/codeofethics.pdf

Steve Reynolds said...

I’ll apologize in advance if this sounds harsh; Bart has been cordial in discussion with me at his blog.

Bart: “…the big problem as I see it is the contempt of science and its practitioners by a sizeable segment of the general public and some high profile bloggers; if a scientist responds to faux criticism in a frustrated tone, I find that a minor flaw in comparison.”

A frustrated tone may be a minor flaw. What sounds like an arrogant attitude in the first sentence below quoting Bart from his blog might also be tolerable:

“Other scientists’ energy is much better spent trying to independently investigate the same research question rather than checking my arithmetic or doing the exact same thing. And if checking of details is needed, then many would be loathe to let it be done by someone who abuses it in for political/ideological purposes rather than for the prupose of advancing science.”

But the second sentence unfortunately demonstrates the real contempt for the scientific method. There can be no excuse for keeping climate data and methods secret. It is not science if you can choose who checks your work.

EliRabett said...

Eli is quite fond of #5

5. Adaptation is very important and not a trade off with mitigation.

IEHO, this is a non-sequitor. Adaptation without mitigation is playing with ourselves, fruitless, a point that Roger has agreed on (we can dig out the link but the bunny seems to recall it was on Inkstain).

However, dividing responses into adaptation OR/AND mitigation is not very useful. Asking the wrong question always gets you the wrong answer. Allow Eli to propose Rabett's Five Fold Way of Dealing with Climate Change

Adaptation
Amelioration
Conservation
Substitution
Mitigation

Need em all

EliRabett said...

Can't resist

Roger says:If someone says to you that they find the idea that humans can influence the giant Earth system, you'd point them to research that shows this is so."

Nope, Eli would tell them to get into an airplane and take a long trip on a clear day. Get a window seat.

David Stern said...

#23 Roger:

It depends on what you mean by possible with current technology. What's the timeframe to achieve the cuts and how much of a fall in GDP is allowed? I'm not putting any restriction on either when I say it is possible and am allowing for diffusion of the world's best practice technology across the globe.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-70-David

Yes, this is a fair comment. I had an exchange with a colleague about this and we concluded that, for example, there are enough cyanide pills to reduce the human presence on Earth such that emissions reach some low level. Of course, we decided this was absurd, but it did counter the idea that "current technologies are not sufficient."

So obviously there are criteria of political and social feasibility involved, and i would argue that the best way to discuss this in in the context of specific policies. So here is an example:

http://www.iop.org/EJ/abstract/1748-9326/4/2/024010

I've got a similar analysis in the works for Australia.

So perhaps the statement should be modified by a clause like, "based on political and social possibilities."

And let me say that I don't see a big hit on GDP as politically possible.

Sharon F. said...

Eli- many scientists and professionals of various stripes are doing and will be doing "adaptation" to climate, to preference changes, to economic situations, to disasters of various kinds, to changes of all kinds. We are health care workers, water providers, agronomists, etc. Every day we go to work and have to deal with whatever comes up, including climate change.

We are going to be doing it regardless of whether climate bloggers think of it as "fruitless". We are going to be doing it no matter how much or how little society chooses to mitigate.

Adaptation doesn't just deal with the "damage already done" , as you say on your link. It deals with how we can live on this planet now and in the future, considering climate change- as well as everything else.

ourchangingclimate said...

Sharon F, Roger,

Sharon F,
I don’t think climate scientists should be treated differently than other scientists. However, in practice they are: A sizeable segment of the public and some high profile bloggers are continuously searching for things that they possibly blow up in importance to bolster their silly claim that the science has it all wrong. Note that I don’t think of Roger here with this example; he has never made such claims afaik. He does however often come to the defence of those trying to play these games, and attack the scientist who’re trying to defend the science. That’s what I have a problem with, and I’m hardly alone. The fact that he’s a political scientist and studies climate scientists in the political context they operate is not a valid excuse for these (moral) choices.
I’d be curious to see the outrage if medical researchers were continuously taken to task for claiming the smoking increases the risk of cancer. Coming to the defense of those who claim that any such link is entirely absent, while attacking those that defend the overwhelming science that such a link is clearly established, is wrong in my book. Granted, Roger does more of the latter than of the former. If criticism of scientists were balanced by *at the same time* clearly defending the science itself against the unfounded attacks, it would be an entirely different story altogether.


Roger (5),

You wrote: “Adaptation is a trade-off with mitigation just as mitigation is a trade off with military spending.”

I think that a Euro spent on adaptation competes more strongly with spending it on mitigation that it competes with spending it on the military. If anything, adaptation and mitigation are decided upon by the same department, with one overall budget. The military budget is separate (unfortunately, I may add).

Bart

ourchangingclimate said...

Sharon F, Roger,

I don’t think climate scientists should be treated differently than other scientists. However, in practice they are: A sizeable segment of the public and some high profile bloggers are continuously searching for things that they could possibly blow up in importance to bolster their silly claim that the science has it all wrong. Note that I don’t think of Roger here with this example; he has never made such claims afaik. He does however often come to the defence of those trying to play these games, and attack the scientist who’re trying to defend the science. That’s what I have a problem with, and I’m hardly alone. The fact that he’s a political scientist and studies climate scientists in the political context they operate is not a valid excuse for these (moral) choices.

I’d be curious to see the outrage if medical researchers were continuously taken to task for claiming the smoking increases the risk of cancer. Coming to the defense of those who claim that any such link is entirely absent, while attacking those that defend the overwhelming science that such a link is clearly established, is wrong in my book. Granted, Roger does more of the latter than of the former. If fair criticism of scientists were balanced by *at the same time* clearly defending the science itself against the unfounded attacks, it would be an entirely different story altogether.


Roger (5),

You wrote: “Adaptation is a trade-off with mitigation just as mitigation is a trade off with military spending.”

I think that a Euro spent on adaptation competes more strongly with spending it on mitigation that it competes with spending it on the military. If anything, adaptation and mitigation are decided upon by the same department, with one overall budget. The military budget is separate (unfortunately, I may add).

Bart

Sully said...

"And let me say that I don't see a big hit on GDP as politically possible."

Faced with a sufficiently straightforward threat huge hits on GDP and lifestyles are politically possible; but they tend to become possible in the last ditch.

The adaptation-now argument is like the rearmament argument made by Winston Churchill in the 1930's. At some point fear of the threat will crystallize and the publics in the developed countries will reluctantly get behind whatever it takes.

Sharon F. said...

our changing climate:
Thanks for the post. This is really helpful to getting at the deeper issues.

I don't think that climate scientists are treated differently than other scientists, necessarily. I think whenever the political stakes are high any debate gets nastier.. remember a lot of people were against evolution being taught in schools. I think the blog climate leads to snarkiness and incivility that is detrimental both to scientific work and to public dialogue.
That said, let me tell you a story of two scientific disagreements. One was about the evolutionary history of two species. Papers were published disagreeing, but no one cared- hence no conflict resolution. Another had to do with how fast trees were growing in an areas where they were an important part of the economy. One group published one thing, and another group (funded by interests with an axe to grind (so to speak)) disagreed with the models, QA/QC protocols- I happened to be in the room and I felt at the end of the day, by the time the point counterpoint had been explored, the science was a lot better.

So I think 1) science disagreements exist, within and among disciplines
2) they should be explored with the idea of searching for truth
3) they should be conducted respectfully and not snarkily
4) and unlike Roger and like Freemuth whom I cited above, I think they should be explored publicly rather than through the pages of journals.

I bet medical people did take some heat over smoking, at least at the beginning. What is odd about this to me is that we spend a lot of time describing the disagreements about science and whether warming exists, when the real disagreement is about what policies should we use to deal with it.

As a policy person I would be asking the question "how can I find the sweet spot where people who believe that we must reduce carbon and people who aren't so sure can come to agreement on some policies?".. possibly starting with some of the ideas in the survey that Tom posted on this blog.

ourchangingclimate said...

Sharon F (75),

I agree with a lot of what you said. However, your story of how conflict can help the science may work in some cases, but not in others. E.g. I could hardly imagine in what way the science of evolution would be helped by bringing in some hard core creationists. It would be merely annoying (or entertaining, dependent on your sense of humor I guess) and a waste of time. I think the comparison with climate change is not very far off. Of course, scientific disagreements are useful and generally tend to advance the science. But they are generally on the details. (and take place at scientific conferences and in the scientific literature). A disagreement about a whole scientific field between scientists and religious (anti-evolution) or ideological (anti-AGW) fanatics is not beneficial to the science at all. (Note that I’m not claiming here that anyone who has anything critical to say about AGW is an ideological fanatic; However, those who claim that the entire scientific underpinning is absent or a fraud, who talk about the ‘AGW religion’ and hoax and such, I think in many cases they could reasonably be classified as such. For the record, I know that Roger is not one of them.)

I agree with your points 1-3, but not with 4, since it contributes to the problems I just described. Scientific disagreements are best solved by scientists at scientific fora.

You’re exactly right, in that the discussion we ought to be having is “about what policies we should use to deal with it”. I discussed that with Tom Fuller as well here and here.

Bart

jgdes said...

Bart
What if scientists are excluded from scientific fora? One recent example (from many) was a polar bear researcher who claims that polar bears are actually thriving. The trouble is, he is the one person who probably knows more than the rest yet he was told not to bother turning up at the latest conference. It is exactly this kind of lofty exclusion of dissent that leads to non-scientists getting involved.

As noted above there also seems to be very little regard for the scientific method, ie basic checking or sensitivity analyses that are standard practice in other disciplines, combined with a great deal of bullying to conform. If all that bad behavior didn't exist then outsiders wouldn't have cause to complain.

As for what the science really tells us, you show on your own blog exactly why outsiders are suspicious of the science. You, like too many others, conflate subjective opinion with real evidence and state that science knows this, that or the next thing when the original papers mostly state a weak "this suggests". Somehow a poorly-justified suggestion very quickly transmogrifies into a "fact" that only a flat-earther or an industry-funded stooge would refute.

My own expertise is in modeling and i can see that most arguments made for the models are totally unjustifiable and some are even laughable (eg the "huge error-bars that give confidence in the models" argument of Annan, Schmidt, Santer et al.). I doubt that non-modelers can spot all the BS though and climate modelers take full advantage of that. As Heike pointed out to you, the Hadley with-without natural variation graph is an utterly fake argument backed up by a tuned model. Hadley have since even admitted they got natural variation wrong but it doesn't stop you using the graph. Nor does the fact that the original hockey-stick has been discredited and even superceded stop people from using it too (recently by both Schmidt and the IPCC). I vividly remember Trenberth, in Nat Geo of December 07 saying that the increase in extreme weather events of 2007 were predicted by the models. Yet, a) the models cannot do that, b) it was mostly cold weather events caused by a strong la niña. It's not the first time that scientists tell the rest of us not to confuse weather with climate then exploit a local weather event - Trenberth had also done it earlier in the year during a local flood. When Scientists are so readily dishonest and hypocritical then it doesn't build any trust. I actually quoted Trenberth's Nat Geo nonsense verbatim on Stoat's blog at the time and nobody came forward to defend him: Indefensible then even to those who argue up is down!

Sharon F. said...

Our changing climate-

I think you and I would agree that some discussions are a waste of time. We would never ask evolutionists and non to debate.. we have achieved some kind of equilibrium. It doesn't bother us evolutionists that some people don't believe. You can choose to let it annoy you or let it go. Maybe the rest of us don't really understand what about people not believing in AGW really bothers you?

EXCEPT you are saying we should do something about it and if people don't believe in it that would influence the policy. BUT then you have crossed from science to policy. And when you do that you can't hardwire your scientific conclusions into actions. You have to make your case to the rest of the polis, which includes scientists of a variety of disciplines, social and economic, as well as wonks, the public etc.
They are going to watch your behavior and figure out if they can trust you. Trust is necessary for post normal science.

I think Roger is saying that "climate scientists" would be better off in pursuing their agenda if they would work harder to appear open-minded, non-defensive and therefore more trustworthy.

Sort of "where there's smoke, there's fire". I think it sounds as if you are asking Roger not to notice the smoke. Does this help?

ourchangingclimate said...

jgdes,
I think you're confusing hundreds of papers with only one paper, and a lot of what say has the smell of conspiracy to it. Doesn't cut it for me.
Bart

G said...

It doesn't seem at all surprising to me (as a scientist) that climate researchers have a tough time. Climate science is different from most other sciences in that you can't do comparison experiments.

In physics or medicine, you can have your control group and your experimental group. You treat one one way, and the other another. You can replicate the experiment several times until you've understood it.

None of those things are easy (or universally possible) when you are doing climate. You have no control climate. You can replicate some experiments, but not the overall climate.

Personally, I think climate scientists should stop whinging about not being believed. The public is (somewhat reasonably) recognizing that this is not normal science. What you guys should be doing, instead, is to explain.

Not to communicate results. Everyone knows the results, more or less. The problem is trust, and that's partially a lack of understanding of two things:
1) The basic outlines of the problem and the basic mechanisms are not new science. The new science is in the detailed predictions.
2) Many parts of the global warming story are supported many ways. The support is broad. So, even if an experiment or two turns out to be wrong, the overall story will not change much.

EliRabett said...

Sharon, the question was adaptation and mitigation for dealing with climate change. Thank you for trying to move the cheese, but it was not about adaptation to any and everything.

Adaptation to something that is accelerating in the direction of worse is a no win situation dealt with succinctly by the aphorism that when you are in a hole the first thing to do is to stop digging. The characteristic of climate change is that the procrastination penalties grow exponentially.

EliRabett said...

G. astronomy also lacks do overs as do many other sciences

EliRabett said...

With all due respect a large part of the problem is that your questions are disjoint and vague.

If knowing the right question to ask is knowing 90% of the answer, your questions are not going to get you an A. Contrast this with the question Eli put to you some time ago

1. Do you agree or disagree that there has been an organized, well-financed effort to stop or delay action on AGW?

2. Do you believe that that action has been effective or do you claim that the same policy path would have been followed in any case.

3. Do you believe that any level of GHG CO2 equivalent mixing ratios would be so dangerous/ costly as to be avoided through serious mitigation. If so where?

4. What level of GHG mixing ratios can be dealt with through adaptation?

OTOH, it is likely many of the other commentators here would be surprised at your answers. Eli was quite fond of your answer to 4

"To answer your last question - at _no level_ is only adaptation sufficient. Clear enough?

Now go stalk a carrot for a while."

Carrot Eater sends love.

jgdes said...

Bart
Re. "smell of conspiracy": I trust you extend that sneer to the conspiracy theory of oil industry funded skepticism which is a clear FUD campaign being alleged by certain scientists, including Mann, Stoat (on Wikipedia), Eli (on his blog) and the Union of Concerned scientists to avoid dealing with, or sometimes even reading, the points made by skeptical scientists such as Lindzen. Now these scientists might actually believe what they say but it is still a very tawdry smear tactic.

Re: "one paper": I suggest you look again at any published paper you like and count up the weasel words and/or unjustified assumptions that the conclusion relies on. As far as I am aware the amount of natural variation in the system hasn't yet been properly quantified - It's hard to avoid noticing however that it has been assumed to be small when temperatures rise and large when they fall.

Anyway, in conciliation, I believe reasonable people would reach similar conclusions about the need for long-term energy efficiency and green tech (which I've always firmly believed in and have also been involved in) without relying on dubious short-term scare tactics. I'm not likely to convince you of that but I can at least explain where the more skeptical side is coming from. We've seen all this catastrophism before many times, in many forms and it never happens. In that respect, I'd agree wholeheartedly with Craig Bohren's more rational, published viewpoint here, which succinctly explains just how such a self-feeding, group-think arises:
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/columnist/aprilholladay/2006-08-07-global-warming-truth_x.htm?csp=34

ourchangingclimate said...

Sharon,

What bothers me is that no meaningful action to slow or halt climate change is being taken, and part of the reason why may be that many people don’t accept the science on the subject. But creationist talk actually bothers me as well (though not nearly as much); it pushes people into an anti-scientific direction, and as a scientist, I value scientific literacy. That’s a secondary reason that I’m bothered by people twisting or denying the science.

Science does not take place in a vacuum (I think that’s very much Roger’s line of thinking; it may even be a literal quote that I remembered). I think science should inform policy in those areas where the science is relevant. Health, environment and climate change are clear examples of such.

I’ve laid out in my long reply above why I think scientists have become defensive: It is a consequence of being attacked. How does one respond when faced with the same long debunked fake-arguments over and over again? At some point, you just dismiss them as irrelevant. Which is subsequently being spun as “not open minded”, but that’s by ignoring the context. That context is very important in judging the scientists' behavior.

I appreciate your thoughtful comments, and they do help to shed more light on where you (and perhaps also Roger) are coming from.

Bart

eric144 said...

This is the official mitigation strategy from global warming headquarters, Great Britain. I predicted this from day one.


***

Ed Miliband has said the UK cannot afford to "say no" to nuclear power as he prepares to announce plans to fast-track a new generation of (up to 11) reactors.

The energy secretary will give details of a list of sites judged suitable for new developments and say how planning reforms will speed up the process.

Nuclear is a safe, low-carbon option to help tackle climate change, he said.

The Conservatives warned people would not be consulted while pressure groups said nuclear was "not the answer".

In a series of statements on energy policy, Mr Miliband will outline proposed sites for new plants, the bulk of which are expected to be near to existing sites.

He will also explain how changes to planning laws will let the new Infrastructure Planning Commission - which will have the final say over where the plants are located - hurry through schemes which comply.



http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8349715.stm

Andrew said...

"What bothers me is that no meaningful action to slow or halt climate change is being taken"

Let me play you a little number on the world's smallest violin.

"no meaningful action to slow or halt climate change is being taken, and part of the reason why may be that many people don’t accept the science on the subject."

So what you are saying is that the science implies a need for "action". Really now, that's not very bright.

"I’ve laid out in my long reply above why I think scientists have become defensive: It is a consequence of being attacked."

"Scientists" (actually left wing activists) can do no wrong. Nothing is their own fault. They are defensive because big meanies are attacking them, not because they are being cornered on their poor justification for completely restructuring the world economy.

"How does one respond when faced with the same long debunked fake-arguments over and over again?"

What pray tell is "long debunked" and "fake"?

"That context is very important in judging the scientists' behavior."

Your moral relativism really grates on me. Their behavior is not excused by such nonsense.

Besides, you are totally and completely wrong. It is the activists which started everything and they reaped what they sowed.

Steve Reynolds said...

Bart: “He does however often come to the defence of those trying to play these games, and attack the scientist who’re trying to defend the science.”
“How does one respond when faced with the same long debunked fake-arguments over and over again?”

While I sympathize with the ‘same long debunked fake-arguments’ problem, it appears this is often used as an excuse to not address some invalidly claimed-to-be-debunked arguments and valid new questions. Maybe we could make a list and sort it into the two groups. What do you think goes into the ‘validly debunked fake-arguments’ list?

For example, I agree that a broken hockey stick does not disprove AGW, but that does not excuse the refusal to discuss problems with past climate proxies. Understanding past climate variation is very important in many ways, including how successful various adaption strategies may be.

Andrew said...

Here's a challenge a policy wonk such as yourself should relish Roger: A climate policy even a staunch Republican like myself would not object to-are you clever enough to come up with such a thing? It wouldn't be easy. ;)

The rules are simple, you may not do any of the following:

1. New/higher taxes
2. Subsidies
3. Regulations
4. Fake Commodities (“offsets” or “allowances”)
5. New or existing government Agencies apart from basic Executive and Legislative bodies i.e. the Congress and existing regular law enforcement bodies
6. All expenditures must come out of the existing budget AND NOT ADD TO IT
7. Raise energy prices
8. Restrict imports/exports
9. Create any extra-national body with any kind of extra-Federal authority (No “global government”)
10. No attempting to alter people’s behavior.
11. Nothing stupid that does not work (that is, which does not accomplish the task at hand)
12. Geoengineering-too risky and expensive

ourchangingclimate said...

Andrew (88),

Ever been to a scientific conference?

Andrew said...

Irrelevant. Now go back to your silly thinking as there is no fixing it.

jgdes said...

"I’m bothered by people twisting or denying the science. "
Aren't we all! - Particularly those who "twist" known GW into a speculative AGW or who "deny" the actual observations of radiosondes and satellites and so adjust said data to fit the theory, or those who pick and choose past climate proxies according to whether they show a hockey-stick shape or not. When you can clean up your own house then you can start criticizing the state of others'.

Can we even pinpoint an actual date that man's activities affected the planet - is it 1850, 1950 or 1980 or ever since we appeared on planet Earth; because in the last 5 years I've read peer-reviewed arguments for all of these. Trouble is the longer back you go in time, the flatter are the overall long term weather trends so it often appears that the planet can adapt by itself quite well. Scientists therefore seem to pick and choose their start point for man's influence according to the specific argument they want to make.

As to "meaningful action", it's time for scientists to stop using the meaningless "action" word and start dealing with the reality of just how to reduce CO2 output without doing more harm than good to the poorest in society that they purport to care about. If you don't actually want to discuss the likely good or bad effects of proposed policies then you should stop criticizing those, like Roger, who do.

itisi69 said...

I see the wabbit season is open again. Remember "mud" spelled backwards is "dum" even when posted in the 3rd person...

Jim Bouldin said...

Well I'm anyone important enough to make your list of invitees, but FWIW:

1. Why did you pick these topics?
2. Why did you reduce complex issues to such short, general questions? You don't think that leaves a lot of room for people arguing past each other, thus wasting everyone's time?
3. What is your goal in having this "debate"?

Jim Bouldin said...

That should have been "not anyone important enough to make your list..."

Anyway, I agree with Eli that your (too many) questions are ill posed. Not only are they too general, they show no cohesion or sense of driving at a coherent theme.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-96-Jim Bouldin

Well, if you want a coherent theme you'll have to wait for the book ;-)

Meantime, your meta-critique of the questions and their framing is fair enough. Care to comment on any of the substance of them?

Jim Bouldin said...

Well, if you want a coherent theme you'll have to wait for the book ;-)

Fine, but how about you give us the Reader's Digest version here?

On the substance (all given with the recognition that short answers require mucho elaboration for real conversation and understanding to occur):

1. Can't comment, absolutely no knowledge on the topic. I will say, however, that attribution across multiple links of a causal chain is difficult business, and so the lack of evidence does not mean evidence of lack.
2. Don't know, haven't read WG3 report.
3. Very strong agreement. Numerous unknowns, potentially very risky business. To be considered only as a very last resort, maybe not even then. Will not solve ocean acidification problem.
4. It's the best of a bunch of geoengineering proposals, none of which however should need to be resorted to, because we know full well how to draw down CO2 using alternative energy sources and land management changes.
5. The two are complementary, and although one liners are to be avoided, the phrase "mitigate what you can't adapt to, and adapt to what you can't mitigate" seems like a pretty good set of sidebars to me.
6. Strongly disagree. Everything's wide open at this point. Change is hard. People WILL be inconvenienced. Hard choices ahead.
7. Too general, need specifics.
8. Disagree. For example, nuclear power is fully developed and could change things radically (note however, that I favor other options, for some of which the the technology may not be "fully there yet").
9. Too general, but taken at face, I disagree. I do NOT believe that politics motivates the findings, or behavior, of most scientists.
10. Don't know. Humans certainly do "botch" things from time to time. The question is what were the causes of such, and how do you improve on it.

SBVOR said...

-98-Jim sez:

“Will not solve ocean acidification problem”

What problem? Is any sort of “change” -- even, net/net, a beneficial change -- ipso facto a ”problem” requiring government intervention?

Let me quote Dr. Luboš Motl:

“Recall that the oceans' pH was around 8.17 in 1800, now it is around 8.10. The figure is decreasing as we are adding carbon dioxide (or carbonic acid, if you allow me to combine it with water) to the system. It will stay above 7.8 at least until 2100.

The neutral value of pH is 7.0 and it is the average optimal pH for living creatures. While Coke has around 2.5 :-), fish tend to tolerate pH between 5.0 and 9.0. The readers with an aquarium know much more. Some of the fish prefer the lower values and some of them prefer the higher values. You should not be surprised that I think that 7.0 might be the optimal ‘democratic’ value of pH. We are helping the oceans to get closer to the optimal value but we are still extremely far from it.

However, the environmentalist conclusion is very different. The pH is changing and everything that is changing is always changing in the bad direction. By definition, a change is bad. That's the main reason why the tautology known as ‘climate change’ should also become a reason for concern, according to some people. But is the decrease of the pH a bad thing?”


Click here and read the rest.

Click here to read my commentary on this neurotic nanny state approach to anything which -- ever so ironically -- represents “change”.

Click here and get George Carlin’s take on it (not much different than mine).

P.S.) How many of today’s coral reefs do you think were there 20,000 years ago. Here’s a hint -- 20,000 years ago sea levels were about 400 feet lower than today. Coral reefs are going to do whatever they are going to do. Nothing the nanny state does (or does not do) with respect to CO2 will change the outcome one WHIT!

markbahner said...

"It's the best of a bunch of geoengineering proposals, none of which however should need to be resorted to, because we know full well how to draw down CO2 using alternative energy sources and land management changes."

We don't know "how to drawn down CO2," if by that you mean actually reduce--or even stabilize--CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.

Unless you're referring to "we know full well how" in a similar sense to "we know full well how to send a manned mission to Jupiter's moon, Ganymede."

Po said...

SBVOR,

You write,

"fish tend to tolerate pH between 5.0 and 9.0. The readers with an aquarium know much more"

You sir have never kept a reef tank. And reefs aren't just about fish, hard skeleton corals are notoriously difficult to maintain, the water chemistry problems are huge, and ph is central to many of them. Fresh water fish can handle what you suggest, but not as individuals, you ninny! Some species can handle 5.0 (say from the Amazon) and some can handle 9.0 (say from Lake Tanganyika) but you can't put a cichlid from Lake Tanganyika in a tank with a ph of 5 or 6 and expect happy results. A ph drop of the magnitude you suggest in a reef enviroment is a cataclysm. Salt water ecosystems evolved over time periods a scale significantly different than fresh water ecosystems. You are talking apples and oranges here.

Sully said...

Po,
Should we be doing frivolous energy and resource intensive things like keeping exotic fish for amusement while the environment is in a downward spiral?

Po said...

Nice snark Sully! Actually, if people are going to try to comment on ocean acidification, heck yeah, try a reef tank for some reality check. I gave up on them a long time ago. And, btw, if you are going to use energy for anything, it might as well be to learn something about ecology.

Sully said...

Thanks for the complement, Po. When I snark I try to do so humorously and intelligently. I do actually understand that research, etc. is necessary in tanks. I even understand the ecology educational purpose of the big entertainment aquariums and the zoos, for that matter. Such are also good beginner practice for what will eventually be necessary - keeping all wild life that is worth saving in captivity once our descendants cover over the entire earth like Trantor, which they will, if they survive.

I'm glad you enjoyed the poem on my blog. You might like my Ode to NASA's LCROSS Mission at
http://sullysside.blogspot.com/2009/10/with-apologies-to-samuel-taylor.html

That's what got me started playing with Coleridge's Xanadu and it's pretty good if I may say so myself. I suspect you might not like my poem Obamandias which you can also find on my blog.

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