Climate craziness of the week: “ethics requires” linking tornadoes to climate change

Professor Donald A. Brown

Since this essay by Penn State’s Associate Professor Donald A. Brown is placed on a publicly funded university web server,  I’m repeating this in entirety here for discussion. Be sure to see what I found at the end.

Why Ethics Requires Acknowledging Links Between Tornadoes and Climate Change Despite Scientific Uncertainty.

I. Identifying Links Between Climate Change and Tornadoes?

The outbreak of recent killer weather events including US tornadoes hitting Joplin, Missouri and Tuscaloosa, Alabama has everyone asking whether there is a link between tornadoes and human-induced climate change. In this writer’s experience when US TV or radio weathermen are asked about the cause of recent strong tornadoes, they most always ignore climate change as a potential cause and point to a cyclical ocean circulation event known as La Niña as the cause of recent tornadoes if they comment on causation at all. Rarely is human-induced climate change mentioned as a cause or contributing factor in the recent outbreak of sever tornadoes although questions about causation are becoming more frequent on TV and newspapers in this writer’s experience.

This post argues that ethics requires acknowledging the links between tornadoes and climate change despite scientific uncertainties about increased frequency and intensity of tornadoes in a warming world.

As we shall see there are certain aspects of atmospheric conditions necessary to produce violent tornadoes that climate change is enhancing while there are other atmospheric conditions necessary to form tornadoes about which scientists are uncertain exactly how a warming world will affect them. To figure out whether climate change will cause more intense and frequent tornadoes requires asking lots of smaller questions about the atmospheric conditions necessary to produce tornadoes and to determine how climate change will affect each of these various atmospheric conditions that combine to propagate tornadoes.

Before discussing tornadoes, it is important to note that it is scientifically uncontroversial to conclude that climate change is causing more violent weather particularly in the form of: (a) more damaging thunder storms, (b) the kind of devastating flooding we have seen this year in Australia, Pakistan, Brazil, Columbia, Venezuela, along the Mississippi and the Tennessee valleys, and (c) more severe droughts such as those experienced this year in China, Brazil, and Texas. Similarly more intense hurricanes have been linked to climate change although it is still uncertain whether global warming will increase hurricane frequency. (Emanuel, 2005)

Most climate scientists agree that future weather will be characterized by far more chaotic weather causing greater damage to human life, health and ecological systems and so tornadoes are not the only intense weather events that could be enhanced by climate change and that will likely cause increased damage and suffering. .

It also can be said that in one way climate change is already changing all global weather including tornadoes. This is so because climate change has already caused changes to the global climate system such as raising ocean temperatures and increasing the amount of water in the atmosphere. Increased ocean temperatures and the water content of air have an effect on the amount and timing of precipitation that is being experienced in any one location. And so a strong claim can be made that climate change is now at least partially responsible for all global weather although the part played by climate change could be small for any individual climate event relative to other causes such as normal ocean circulation patterns. Yet, no tornado or hurricane experienced recently would likely be the same without some contribution from climate change. That is no tornado would appear at the same place, the same time, with the same wind speed without changes to the climate system that have been caused by human impacts on climate And so every tornado is very likely affected somewhat by climate change. That is although strong tornadoes have occurred before recent human-induced climate change, no recent tornado is likely to have happened in the same way at the same place in the absence of global warming.

This is not to say, however, that the intensity and frequency of tornadoes will surely increase in the years ahead.. Yet, although it is not clear that climate change will be responsible for more tornado caused damages, other kinds of storm damages are virtually certain to increase.

This post, however, looks at links between tornado intensity and frequency and climate change and what ethics requires when discussing these links. That is, this post does not examine other links between climate change and damaging weather.

II. The Scientific Links

A. The Earth Is Warming Because of Human Activities

We know with high levels of confidence that the Earth is warming and that most of the warming is attributable to human activities despite the natural variability of thee Earth’s climate. Earlier this month, the United States Academy of Science issued its most recent report on the science of climate change that once again concluded that human-induced climate change was a very serious threat to humans and ecological systems around the world and that the Earth is getting warmer as predicted by mainstream climate change science. . This Report was entitled “America’s Climate Choices 2011″ (US Academy, 2011) Among other conclusions, this report found:

Climate change is occurring, is very likely caused primarily by the emission of greenhouse gases from human activities, and poses significant risks for a range of human and natural systems. Emissions continue to increase, which will result in further change and greater risks. In the judgment of this report’s authoring committee, the environmental, economic, and humanitarian risks posed by climate change indicate a pressing need for substantial action to limit the magnitude of climate change and to prepare for adapting to its impacts. (US Academy, 2011)

That the Earth is warming is based upon many robust lines of independent evidence including temperature measurements of many different types of land, ocean, and atmosphere, diminishing sea ice, retreating glaciers, the timing of the formation and melting of river ice, the timing and aerial extent of snow cover, and the migration of plants and animals among other things.

There are also multiple robust lines of evidence of human causation of this undeniable warming that the Earth is experiencing that include multiple attribution studies, fingerprint studies based upon how the Earth would warm if greenhouse gases are causing the warming compared to how it would warm is climate change is caused by the sun, volcanic activity or ocean cycles, carbon isotope analyses that have demonstrated that carbon compounds appearing the atmosphere can be traced to fossil fuel burning, and model results that achieve the best fit between prediction and observation when both natural climate forcing and greenhouse gas climate forcing are combined. (Forcing means changes in heat energy from a baseline year.)

B. There Will Be More Intense Droughts, Floods, and Destructive Storms As the Earth Warms.

As the Earth warms, more water continues to be transported into the atmosphere under the forces of evapotranspiration. The global water cycle is believed to be at least 4% wetter from recent warming. As a rule of thumb, every 1 degree F in temperature will result in 4% more water in the air.

Basic physics predicts that increased warming and atmospheric water content will lead to increased droughts, floods, and intense storms. More droughts will be experienced despite more water in the atmosphere because the atmosphere will become more turbulent creating a propensity to discharge the water in stronger storms. Also as the Earth warms it will also more quickly deplete soil moisture in some areas therefore further intensifying drought conditions. And so, some places will get wetter and some drier and some places may cycle between drought and floods. The precipitation increases due to more water in the atmosphere under some conditions will include both more snow and rain. As a result, recent heavy snows are predicted by climate change theory despite somewhat counter intuitive notions that snow should decrease in a warming world. Of course, as temperatures continue to arise eventually snow will decrease in some areas.

C. Atmospheric Winds and Global Temperatures Will Be Affected and Weather Will Become More Violent As Oceans Warm.

Winds are caused by uneven heat causing differences in high and low pressures and pressure differences are caused by differences in temperature. Cold air is denser and exerts more pressure than worm air. Therefore increased warming changes global wind patterns. As one observer sums this up in regard to ocean temperature:

Heat exchange between the ocean and atmosphere drive atmospheric circulation over the entire planet and modifies temperatures and atmospheric wind patterns. Ocean surface currents play an important role by redistributing some of the heat the ocean absorbs and affect local weather patterns around the world. Understanding this complex relationship between surface ocean currents and weather is important to understanding global climate patterns and the changes that they are undergoing due to global warming. . .. The ocean-atmosphere system is a delicate balance between incoming and outgoing energy. If this balance is upset, even slightly, global climate can undergo a series of complicated changes. (Missouri, 2011)

Both an increase in water vapor and a rise in temperature will boost a metric that meteorologists use to forecast severe thunderstorms, known as Convective Available Potential Energy, or “CAPE.” A higher CAPE value indicates that there is more potential energy in the atmosphere to fuel thunderstorm development, should some trigger come along and set them off.

D. Weather Is Becoming More Chaotic As Predicted.

Not only is more chaotic weather predicted by climate change, it is actually happening. There is strong scientific evidence that “indeed the weather has become more extreme, as expected, and that it is extremely likely that humans are a contributing cause.” (Romm, 2011)

We also know that oceans are warming due to human activities and that warmer oceans both lead to higher levels of moisture in the atmosphere and more energy in the climate system. (Romm, 2011) Romm, quoting Dr. Kevin Trenberth, Senior Scientists with the Climate Analysis Section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research describes the evidence of how recent temperatures rise in the oceans has affected storms.

:The SSTs (Sea Surface Temperatures) in the Gulf have been running perhaps 2 deg F above pre 1970 values. Warm waters also extend across the tropical Atlantic north of the equator in the region favored for hurricanes, and hence the recent NOAA forecast for an above average hurricane season (although the La Nina is fading and will likely be over by August, so there may be more competition from the Pacific).

Of those 2 def F, 1 can be assigned to human influence. With 1F increase in SST there is 4% increase in water holding capacity over the oceans and hence in this case the plentiful supply of moisture means there is likely to have been 8% increase in moisture flowing in the southerlies into the warm sector, thereby acting as fuel for the thunderstorms, and thus increasing the likelihood they would become super cells, with the attendant risk of tornadoes. And of course heavy rains. In spring the westerly jet stream aloft and southerlies at the surface create a wind shear environment that is favorable for tornadoes as the wind shear can be turned into rotation. This part of the situation is largely in the realm of weather. The climate part is the warmth and moistness of the air flowing out of the Gulf and the resulting very unstable atmosphere. So while a big part of that is natural variability, a substantial part was anthropogenic global warming.

These changes are making the weather more violent . In fact a believed contributor to the recent severe weather is an unusually warm Gulf of Mexico, where sea surface temperatures are running 1 to 2.5 degrees Celsius above average. (Freedman, 2011) The Gulf is the main moisture source for storm systems as they move east from the Rockies, and the additional moisture is helping to fuel thunderstorm development.

E. Tornadoes are Caused By A Combination of A Certain Type of Atmospheric Instability and Wind Shear

Tornadoes are caused when certain atmospheric temperature conditions exist along with certain wind conditions.

Tornadoes form in unusually violent thunderstorms when there is sufficient (1) instability and (2) wind shear present in the lower atmosphere. Instability refers to unusually warm and humid conditions in the lower atmosphere, and possibly cooler than usual conditions in the upper atmosphere. Wind shear in this case refers to the wind direction changing, and the wind speed increasing, with height. An example would be a southerly wind of 15 mph at the surface, changing to a southwesterly or westerly wind of 50 mph at 5,000 feet altitude.

This kind of wind shear and instability usually exists only ahead of a cold front and low pressure system. The intense spinning of a tornado is partly the result of the updrafts and downdrafts in the thunderstorm (caused by the unstable air) interacting with the wind shear, causing a tilting of the wind shear to form an upright tornado vortex. Helping the process along, cyclonically flowing air around the cyclone, already slowly spinning in a counter-clockwise direction (in the Northern Hemisphere), converges inward toward the thunderstorm, causing it to spin faster. This is the same process that causes an ice skater to spin faster when she pulls her arms in toward her body.

(Weather Questions 2011)

And so tornadoes form when warm moist air collides with cold air that is moving at a different direction and speed under certain conditions. For this reason, the two main ingredients for tornado formation most often quoted are atmospheric instability and wind shear.

F. There Is A Likely Connection Between El Niño and La Niña and Tornadoes.

El Niño and La Niña are extreme phases of a naturally occurring ocean climate cycles referred to as El Niño/Southern Oscillation. Both terms refer to large-scale changes in sea-surface temperature across the eastern tropical Pacific. (Weather Almanac, 2011) Usually, sea-surface readings off South America’s west coast range from the 60s to 70s°F, while they exceed 80°F in the “warm pool” located in the central and western Pacific. Weather Almanac, 2011) This warm pool expands to cover the tropics during El Niño, but during La Niña, the easterly trade winds strengthen and cold upwelling along the equator and the west coast of South America intensifies. (Weather Almanac, 2011) Sea-surface temperatures along the equator can fall as low as 7°F below normal during La Niña. Both La Niña and El Niño impact global weather patterns. (Weather Almanac, 2011)

The scientific community has identified at least a weak correlation between El Niño and La Niña ocean circulation patterns and the frequency of tornadoes. As the US National Weather Service has recently concluded:

Since a strong jet stream is an important ingredient for severe weather, the position of the jet stream helps to determine the regions more likely to experience tornadoes. Contrasting El Niño and La Niña winters, the jet stream over the United States is considerably different. During El Niño the jet stream is oriented from west to east across the southern portion of the United States. Thus, this region becomes more susceptible to severe weather outbreaks during La Niña. During La Niña the jet stream and severe weather is likely to be farther north.

(Weather Almanac, 2011)

G. Evidence Exists That Climate Change Is Affecting the Intensity and Frequency of El Niño and La Niña Events.

Although the jury is still out over how climate change is affecting El Niño and La Niña events there is increasing evidence that climate change is already affecting the frequency and intensity of these ocean circulation cycles. According to Kevin Trenberth, a senior climate scientist with the National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR):

There have been changes in the El Niño-La Niña cycle since the 1970s. It’s a complex cycle but the associated droughts, flooding and other manifestations have been stronger over the last 30 to 40 years……It would be surprising if there wasn’t an effect [between climate change and the strength of El Niño-La Niña cycles] .

(Leahy, 2011, quoting Trenberth)

Since climate change has fundamentally altered the global climate system, trapping more heat and about four percent more water vapor in the atmosphere, it is reasonable to conclude it is affecting the has affected the El Niño and La Niña cycle. For these reasons climate scientists believe a warming world may be increasing the intensity and frequency of these ocean cycles. If La Nina’s are increasing from climate change, it is reasonable to conclude tornado propagation will be affected.

III. Not All Atmospheric Conditions Required For Tornado Generation Will Necessarily Increase In A Warming World.

In order for tornadoes to form, several factors have to combine in just the right way. (Freedman, 2011) These ingredients include a warm and humid atmosphere, strong jet stream winds, and atmospheric wind shear (winds that vary with speed and/or direction with height), as well as a mechanism to ignite this volatile mixture of ingredients – such as a cold front. (Freedman, 2011). Neither trend data on tornado propagation nor our understanding of future atmospheric conditions as the Earth continues to warm allow strong predictions on the number and intensity of future tornadoes in a warming world. Some of the reasons for this uncertainty is as follows:

A. There is No Trend Data Supporting Greater Tornado Production Over A Long Enough Time To Draw Conclusions About Future Tornado.

There is no clear indication that severe thunderstorms and tornadoes have become more common due to climate change, in part because of major limitations in relying on the historical record of severe weather reports. (Freedman, 2011) While the number of tornadoes recorded in the U.S. has just about doubled during the past 50 years, the number of strong tornadoes (EF2 and above) has actually been decreasing. (Freedman, 2011) It may be the case that more tornadoes are being noticed today, given a network of trained storm spotters and a national Doppler radar network, both of which didn’t exist as recently as the early 1980s. (Freedman, 2011)

The Joplin tornado is the deadliest since modern record keeping began in 1950 and is ranked 8th among the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history. (NOAA, 2011) Preliminary estimate is that there have been approximately 1,314 tornadoes so far this year. (NOAA, 2011). The previous yearly record number of tornadoes was set in 2004 with 1,817. (NOAA, 2011). The overall yearly average number of tornadoes for the past decade is 1,274. (NOAA, 2011) The preliminary estimated number of tornado fatalities so far this year is 512. (NOAA, 2011). There were 365 tornado fatalities before the Joplin event. There were 132 fatalities from the Joplin tornado. (NOAA, 2011) An additional 18 fatalities were reported for a tornado outbreak on May 24, 2011 (NOAA, 2011). 2011 is preliminarily ranked 7th among the deadliest tornado years in U.S. history. (NOAA, 2011)

And so trend data is inconclusive in regard to how climate change may be affecting tornado propagation. There appear to be more tornadoes recently but not necessarily stronger or more deadly tornadoes. Most likely it will be decades before sufficient trend data will emerge that allow scientists to what extent a warming world is affecting tornadoes in frequency and intensity. A warming world could increase frequency but not intensity or increase intensity but not frequency or have little affect on tornado propagation.

B. The Relative Strength Of Cold Fronts Could Be Reduced in A Warming World.

Because cold fronts colliding with warm moist air masses are optimal for tornado production, it is not clear what happens to tornado production as differences between artic and tropic temperatures decrease in a warming world. A warming world could actually reduce differences betweem Earth’s cold spots compared to warmest parts of our planet. Because tornadoes are propagated when warm moist air collides with cold air, future frequency of tornadoes are in question despite a warming world.

C. As the Planet Heats Up, Wind Shear May Not Increase.

Some modeling studies indicate that a warmer world may also have less wind shear, which is necessary in order to transform ordinary thundershowers into organized squall lines and supercells, capable of dropping large hailstones, producing damaging straight line winds, and spawning tornadoes. (Freedman, 2011) And so, if a warming world produces less wind sheer, tornado intensity and frequency may actually decrease as the world experiences other increased weather caused damages. It will take years if not decades before models can predict wind sheer. As one commentator has noted:

It will take years or even decades to build the scientific models that would allow us to actually attribute individual weather events to manmade global warming. This will be even tougher with tornadoes, where the historical records are less well understood than other extreme weather events. (Walsh, 2011)

And so it is possible that average frequency and intensity of tornadoes decrease in warming world. Only time will tell.

IV. The Ethical Obligation To Discuss Tornado/Climate Change Links Despite Scientific Uncertainty.

And so, as we have seen, there are scientifically sound reasons to conclude that as the world heats in response to human activities tornadoes will increase in intensity and/or frequency. That is there are both scientifically sound theoretical basis for linking increased warming with more frequent and intense tornadoes and empirical evidence supporting the theory. Yet there are some theoretical reasons for being doubtful that tornado activity will increase in frequency and intensity in a warming world and insufficient trend data to draw conclusions at this time. Yet, it is very likely that storm damage will increase in a warming world because of human activities but it is not clear that this increase in damages will be caused by increased tornado activity.

Because of the complexity of the climate system and the need to predict atmospheric conditions at specific locations to be able to predict future tornado activity, it is unlikely that strong proof about the causal connection will emerge in the near future. Compelling proof would require a much better understanding of how the timing and magnitude of local atmospheric conditions will change than our current modeling capability allows or decades of experience with tornado formation to be able to establish credible trend data.

And so, in summary, when it comes to tornadoes and climate change there is reason to believe that tornado caused destruction will increase due to human induced climate change and also reason for doubt.

Many commenting on the connection between climate change and destructive tornado equate the lack of proof with the lack of any scientific evidence. In so doing they are implicitly claiming only absolute proof counties as evidence. Yet, as we have seen, it would be untruthful to conclude there is no scientific basis for connecting climate change to more damaging tornadoes. Climate change will clearly enhance certain atmospheric conditions that should lead to more intense and frequent tornadoes while possibly diminishing others. Evidence of a connection exists despite lack of conclusive proof.

We also know, that any tornado that greatly harms people in a specific place and at a specific time would not likely have happened at that place and time without climate change because climate change has already changed aspects of the climate system so as to influence where and when tornadoes will form and with what intensity. That is although killer tornadoes may have formed in May of 2011 somewhere in the United States without climate change, the tornadoes experienced in Joplin and Tuscaloosa would not likely have formed at the same exact time and place in the absence of climate change because climate change has already transformed the initial conditions which trigger tornadoes. When and where a tornado is generated is dependent upon initial conditions and climate change has changed initial conditions around the world.

As Bill McKibben has stated there is now no place on Earth that is now unaffected by climate change and human activities. (McKibben, 1989). As a result all tornadoes have been affected somewhat by global climate change although tornado frequency and intensity need not have increased.

In a warming world it is possible that for some time periods tornado activity may increase while decreasing in other periods. Yet is not truthful to claim there is no connection between climate change and tornadoes because all weather events are being affected by climate change and some of the atmospheric conditions needed to propagate tornadoes have been enhanced by climate change . Yet it is not proven that tornadoes will in general increase in intensity and frequency.

It would appear that many weatherman and the media claim that there is no connection between climate change and tornadoes because of the absence of proof of increases in tornado frequency and intensity from climate change. Yet it is simply not true that there is no scientific basis for being concerned that tornado damage may increase as human activities warm the planet. And so it is untruthful to say that there is no evidence of a connection although truthful to claim there is no proof of increased intensity and frequency of tornadoes.. That is, it is truthful to claim that there is no absolute proof that climate change is causing more intense and frequent tornadoes. Yet it is not true to claim that there is no evidence of scientific links between climate change and tornado damage.

Given this, a strong case can be made that when talking about the connection between climate change and tornadoes there is a duty to warn people of the possible connection even in the absence of absolute proof once it is established scientifically that behavior causing climate change is increasing the risk of harm from tornadoes. This is particularly true in cases when waiting for the proof will make it too late to avoid the harm from risky behavior.

To fully understand this it is helpful to understand why climate change is essentially an ethical problem. Climate change is an ethical problem because: (a) Some people in some parts of the world are putting others at risk, (b) The harms to those at risk could be catastrophic, and (c) Most of the victims of climate change can do little to avoid harm, they must rely on a sense of justice will motivate those who are putting others at risk to reduce their climate changing causing behavior.

For this reason, since we now know that it is scientifically plausible that tornado frequency and intensity will increase as the world warms and climate change is already affecting timing, location, and intensity of tornadoes that will form, it is not ethically acceptable to assert there is no link because such a claim implies that there is no scientifically valid basis for concern or risk. To understand why this it is ethically problematic to deny evidence. it is necessary to review the ethics of dangerous behavior.

From a proposition that a problem like global warming creates a particular threat or risk, one cannot, however, deduce whether that threat is acceptable without first deciding on certain criteria for acceptability. The criteria of acceptability must be understood as an ethical rather than a scientific question. For instance, although science may conclude that a certain increased exposure to solar radiation may increase the risk of skin cancer by one new cancer in every hundred people, science cannot say whether this additional risk is acceptable because science describes facts and cannot generate prescriptive guidance by itself. The scientific understanding of the nature of the threat, of course, is not irrelevant to the ethical question of whether the risk is ethically acceptable, but science alone cannot tell society what it should do about various threats. In environmental controversies such as global warming where there is legitimate concern, important ethical questions arise when scientific uncertainty prevents unambiguous predictions of human health and environmental consequences. This is so because decision-makers or those engaged in risky behavior cannot duck ethical questions such as how conservative “should” scientific assumptions be in the face of uncertainty or who “should” bear the burden of proof about harm. To ignore these questions is to decide to expose human health and the environment to real risk before changing the risky behavior, that is, a decision to not act on a serious environmental threat has serious potential consequences. Science alone cannot tell us what assumptions or concerns should be considered in making a judgment about what to do about potentially dangerous behavior. This is an ethical question. And so from the standpoint of ethics, potential risks are relevant to what should be done.

For this reason, environmental decisions in the face of scientific uncertainty must be understood to raise a mixture of ethical and scientific questions. Yet, the scientific skeptics on global warming or those denying connections between tornadoes and climate change often speak as if it is irrational to talk about duties to reduce greenhouse gases until science is capable of proving with high levels of certainty what actual damages will be.

That only proven facts should count about dangerous behavior can be shown to be ethically problematic by looking at how societies often deal with other kinds of unsafe behavior. For instance, many societies make dangerous behavior criminal such as dangerous driving, irresponsible use of hazardous substances, and negligently setting fire to a forest. Many social norms about dangerous behavior can be found in various cultures that recognize that burdens of proof and quantity of proof should shift depending upon what is at stake, who has been harmed, whether society can wait until the uncertainties are resolved, whether those harmed by the decision have consented to be put at risk. In other words, when the burden of proof should shift to those proposing to do something dangerous or how much proof should satisfy the burden of proof are ethical questions that need to take into consideration many different factors. Because these are ethical questions, they cannot be answered by an algorithm or a “value-neutral” scientific calculation. That is, there is no escaping asking the question what is the right thing to do given the uncertainty about links between tornadoes and climate change.

Because scientists are expected to produce scientific knowledge that can be applied to public policy questions, they must be able to describe threats that are not fully proven. From the standpoint of public policy, therefore, scientists should not deny that climate change creates risks of increased damage from tornadoes. A claim that there is no link between climate change and tornadoes is misleading. If someone is concerned about whether to adopt policies reducing the threat of climate change they need to know whether climate change creates risks of damage from tornadoes even if there are open questions about what happens to tornado frequency and intensity in a warming world.

In other words, when science is applied to public policy where there is reasonable basis that some human activity is dangerous, science has an important role in communicating any scientifically plausible dangerous risks-not just proven facts.

As long as anyone is asking the question of whether there is a link between climate change and tornado damage because they want to know whether there is reason to limit greenhouse gas emissions, it is therefore ethically problematic to say there is no link

However, it is also ethically required to acknowledge that increased tornado damage and frequency are not yet proven. However, if this said, it is also ethically important to acknowledge that increased damage from other kinds of storms is virtually certain as the planet warms. Furthermore, it is ethically important to acknowledge that tornadoes will appear in places that they would not likely occur in the absence of global warming even if tornado frequency and intensity decrease because a changing climate is already affecting tornado propagation.


V. References

Emanuel, K. 2005. Increasing Destructiveness Of Tropical Cyclones Over The Past 30 Years. Nature 436:686-688.

Freedman, Andrew, 2011, Are La Nina and Global Warming Behind the Extreme Tornado Activity?, Washington Post,

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/post/are-la-nina-and-global-warming-behind-the-extreme-tornado-activity/2011/04/25/AFHoAiiE_blog.html

Leahy. Stephen, 2011, Climate Change Could Be Worsening Effects of El Niño, La Niña, http://stephenleahy.net/2011/01/12/climate-change-could-be-worsening-effects-of-el-nino-la-nina/

McKibben, Bill, 1989, The End Of Nature, Random House

Missouri Department Of Natural Resources, (Missouri) 2011, Global Climate Change: Oceans’ Effect on Climate, http://www.dnr.mo.gov/energy/cc/cc4.htm

NOAA. 2011, 2011 Tornado Information, http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/2011_tornado_information.html

Romm, Joe, 2011 Joplin Disaster Spurs Media Whirlwind On Link Between Climate Change, Extreme Weather, And Tornadoes, Climate Progress, http://climateprogress.org/2011/05/24/joplin-media-link-between-climate-change-extreme-weather-and-tornadoes/

US National Weather Service, 2011. Frequently Asked Questions About El Niño and La Niña , http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ensostuff/ensofaq.shtml#HURRICANES

US Academy of Sciences, 2011, America’s Climate Choices (2011), http://dels.nas.edu/Report/Americas-Climate-Choices/12781

Walsh, Bryan, 2011, Why the Argument Over Climate and Tornadoes Is Pointless, Time Magazine, http://ecocentric.blogs.time.com/2011/05/26/why-the-argument-over-climate-and-tornadoes-is-pointless/

Weather Almanac, 2011, El Niño & La Niña, http://www.weatherexplained.com/Vol-1/El-Ni-o-La-Ni-a.html

White, Robert, 1978, Oceans and Climate -Introduction, Oceanus, 21:2-3

Weather Questions, 2011, What Causes A Tornado, http://www.weatherquestions.com/What_causes_tornadoes.htm

By:

Donald A. Brown
Associate Professor, Environmental Ethics, Science, and Law,
Penn State Univesity
Dab57@psu.edu

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To comment on Dr. Brown’s blog, follow this link

One might ask after reading this entry from Penn State’s Dr. Donald Brown, if he thinks it is ethical to lie in the context of “the end justifies the means”.  Of course when you look at his citations, you see Bill McKibben and Joe Romm listed, so I’m assuming the answer from him would be “yes”.

As a counterpoint to this article, see my essay:

The folly of linking tornado outbreaks to “climate change”

and this from NOAA:

NOAA CSI: no attribution of climate change to tornado outbreak

And finally, from Dr. Roger Pielke’s blog: Donald Boudreaux: I’ll Take That Bet

Pielke Jr. puts up $10,000:

Writing in the WSJ last week economist Donald Boudreaux of George Mason University offers to make a bet in order to make a point about human-caused climate change in response to Bill McKibben’s silly essay from earlier in the week in the Washington Post:

I’ll bet $10,000 that the average annual number of Americans killed by tornadoes, floods and hurricanes will fall over the next 20 years. Specifically, I’ll bet that the average annual number of Americans killed by these violent weather events from 2011 through 2030 will be lower than it was from 1991 through 2010.

I am willing to take this bet in order to raise awareness of the fact that both sides of the debate over climate change debate can’t see the forest for the trees.  The factors that will drive loss of human life due to weather extremes in coming decades will be increasing vulnerability and exposure.

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OK alarmists, time to put up or shut up related to tornadoes and climate change.

It seems Dr. Brown has forgotten what he wrote in this essay, where he suggests we are all part of a criminal enterprise: A New Kind of Crime Against Humanity?: The Fossil Fuel Industry’s Disinformation Campaign On Climate Change

Then:

Skepticism in science is not bad, but skeptics must play by the rules of science including publishing their conclusions in peer-reviewed scientific journals and not make claims that are not substantiated by the peer-reviewed literature.

Now:

This post argues that ethics requires acknowledging the links between tornadoes and climate change despite scientific uncertainties about increased frequency and intensity of tornadoes in a warming world.

I call bullshit on you, Dr. Brown.

UPDATE: Commenter “pull my finger” points out that Dr. Brown’s Rock Ethics Institute is apparently funded by (gasp!) an oil baron.

“Doug [Rock] is a 1968 psychology graduate of Penn State. For more than 20 years, he served as president, chief executive officer, and chairman of Smith International, a global provider of oil and natural gas exploration and development products and services”  So is it ethical to take $10 million form a person who led a company that contributed mightily to Global Warming?  HELL YEAH!  Ethics become quite trivial when you get to seven zeroes.
http://live.psu.edu/story/52124

$10 million gift endows dean’s chair, ethics institute director

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210 thoughts on “Climate craziness of the week: “ethics requires” linking tornadoes to climate change

  1. It is not a philosophical debate. It’s science. And it should be left to real scientists (or at least people with a scientific mind) and not neo-scientists.

  2. Is it ethical that anyone should be expected to pay anything to this person, for such a convoluted and evasive set of contradictary words?

    If this is what climate science now relies on at the cutting edge, the fat lady of time has started singing on this scam. It’s over

  3. This is so typical of the nonsense spewed by academics today. Nothing but agenda driven guilt pointing.
    I have a degree in Philosophy. This would rate an A in first year ethics, an F in advanced. By then you would have finished your logic series.

  4. Advocating a return to the pre-scientific Middle Ages:

    The laws of nature operate according to how I believe they operate.

  5. “Not only is more chaotic weather predicted by climate change, it is actually happening. There is strong scientific evidence that ‘indeed the weather has become more extreme, as expected, and that it is extremely likely that humans are a contributing cause.’ (Romm, 2011)

    Romm, Joe, 2011 Joplin Disaster Spurs Media Whirlwind On Link Between Climate Change, Extreme Weather, And Tornadoes, Climate Progress, http://climateprogress.org/2011/05/24/joplin-media-link-between-climate-change-extreme-weather-and-tornadoes/

    That’s really all I need to know about this essay.

  6. The worrying thing is that person is paid for using public money. If Obama wants to save money start with Penn State University!

  7. From this wackjob:

    “And so it is possible that average frequency and intensity of tornadoes [will] decrease in [a] warming world…. so, as we have seen, there are scientifically sound reasons to conclude that as the world heats in response to human activities tornadoes will increase in intensity and/or frequency.”

    Got all the bases covered there. Tornadoes will either increase or decrease.

  8. My first degree is also in philosophy.

    Dr Brown keeps on using the word ‘ethics’, but I do not think he knows what it means.

  9. His article is chock-a-block with misstatements. Most are prefaced by the notorious appeals to authority: “Most scientists agree”, and so on. That the Gulf is cooler than usual, and that the proximate cause of the tornadoes (as always) is an incursion by cold air into warmer southern portions of the atmosphere, is apparently of no interest to him (and his ilk).

    Also as usual, the utter and intractable fallacies underlying the AGW thesis mean that every premise and conclusion in his argument is fatally flawed or in outright disagreement with observation.

    Worse, at the core his and the AGW thesis are deeply unethical, exploiting shibboleths and omissions to manipulate the planet’s populations. So the appeal to ethics is one more demonstration of the adage that one should never trust anyone who loudly claims to be honest.

  10. Do we really need to delve again into the nonsense about “Evidence Exists That Climate Change Is Affecting the Intensity and Frequency of El Niño and La Niña Events”?

  11. Brown is not a climate scientist. Rather an Associate Professor of law and/or ethics or something. Note that he links to Joe Romm as a reference! No credibility.

  12. This guy spouts off nonsense like this all the time. Please not he IS NOT a scientist, only involved with PSU as a staff member the Rock Ethics Institute, essentially a think tank. I don’t think he teaches any classes.
    Note his “credentials”. If The Hockey Team dismisses Physists, Engineers, Statisticians, and even mere Meteorologists from opining on Climate, they should laught this guy out of the building.

    “He has a bachelor of science from Drexel University in Commerce and Engineering Sciences, a JD from Seton Hall University School of Law, and a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies with a major in philosophy and art.”

  13. If this is representative of the best that climate science has to offer, I think the fat lady of time must be warming up her vocal chords on this scam. It’s over.

  14. This type of thinking that asserts ethics (or morality, virtue, justice, decency, or rectitude) should dictate a societal response before the scientific facts are in is a hallmark of Post Normal Science.

  15. “We know with high levels of confidence that the Earth is warming and that most of the warming is attributable to human activities despite the natural variability of thee Earth’s climate.”

    Do we? Nobody told me, also since when has it been “ethical” to claim something that is unproven as fact just because it suits the current PC worldview.

  16. Who else do we know that work at Penn State and regards facts to ‘adjustable ‘ to personal viewpoint?

  17. I find I am unable to make any comment about the above essay.
    I just feel a sense of impending doom. The problem is not the climate but my fellow man.

  18. Ah what about the apparent increase in Torandic activity and COLD air. Bastardi and
    others predicted this due to the colder northern US and Canada.
    Oh and look at 1975- not a warm year….
    Seems to be in-Cycles…

  19. Just a bit of research would show that tornadoes have weakened in recent “warming” decades, not strengthened, based on the number of F5s/EF5s and those in the “strong” 3-5 range overall.

  20. His statement that it is not “controversial” to say that there are more violent storms etc. resultant from climate change is, unfortunately, true. Just as it was not controversial to say, when Virginia (I think) voted to secede from the Union in 1861, the governor said that blacks were inferior to whites. Non-controversial is not “true”, however.

    The man studies ethics but should study philosophy, logic and the importance of certainty and uncertainty in formulating both theory and public policy. He conflates consensus, or non-controversy in the MSM and public domain, with scientific levels of certainty outside the limited bounds required of the Precautionary Principle for non-reversible situations.

    There is a linear series of statements and positions between measurements of temperatures and the shutting-down of fossil fuel economies that men and women such as this learned on fail to grasp in its significance. Incremental errors multiple. Not all of the statements etc. have a 95% confidence. The resultant confidence is probably closer to 40% than it is to even 70% if you gave error estimates to each of the parameters between the recent past and their predictions of the moderate future.

    Which would be an interesting exercise ….
    1. Projected CO2 growth. 2. Initial temp rise attributed to AGW (i.e. when the effect started). 3. Feedback from water vapour. 4. Feedback from clouds. 5. Contribution to temperatures by changes in insolation. 6. Contribution to temperatures by changes in cosmic rays. 6. Contribution to temperature record by inappropriate manual and statistical adjustment of temperature record, selection of and homogenizing of data. 7. Contribution to temperature record by “normal” and continued recovery from the LIA.

    Without revealing my preferences, my calculation is 0.30 for certainty of CAGW outcome. Enough for the Principle, I suppose, but not enough for certainty of a scientific basis. Nor enough to invoke the Principle as the Principle itself will have a non-reversible effect on several generations on this planet.

  21. So historical data is fine where it fits the narrative but suspect otherwise.

    More warmer is colder, drier is wetter, taller is shorter desperation from people running a little low on supporting measurements from the real world.

    I make the prediction that there will be considerably less money around for this sort of crap in 2030 than there was in 2010.

  22. Please, PLEASE, note the bitter irony of where the endowment for the Rock Ethics Institute came from.
    “Doug [Rock] is a 1968 psychology graduate of Penn State. For more than 20 years, he served as president, chief executive officer, and chairman of Smith International, a global provider of oil and natural gas exploration and development products and services” So is it ethical to take $10 million form a person who led a company that contributed mightily to Global Warming? HELL YEAH! Ethics become quite trivial when you get to seven zeroes.

    http://live.psu.edu/story/52124

  23. No doubt, its also ethical for him to pay damages when theory diverges from fact.

    Think, all that money diverted, and the result is people are damaged.

  24. Go add your .02 if you want……

    From NPR:

    Science Deniers: Hand Over Your Cellphones!

    This situation with climate science bears a scary similarity to battles over evolution. Evolution, they claim, is “just a theory;” it can be rejected. But general relativity (GR) is “just a theory” too and yet the evolution deniers don’t mind having their airliners guided by GPS systems dependent on GR.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2011/05/31/136817357/science-deniers-hand-over-your-cellphones

  25. This is just the precautionary principle on morality steroids. By this argument it was unethical for anyone to argue against the 2003 invasion of Iraq on ethical grounds because Saddam just might have been harbouring WMDs.

    We should turn the precautionary principle on the lefties and see how they react. It will be all sound and fury is my bet.

  26. Dr. Brown’s article is a useful compendium of the various junk science claims and theories behind the CAGW scare.

    Dr Brown: “D. Weather Is Becoming More Chaotic As Predicted.”
    Maybe someone with a background in chaos theory can explain this to me… Is chaos predictable? Is a change in chaos predictable? I don’t know, I’m just asking. ;-)

  27. The crucial passage is this one:

    “Many commenting on the connection between climate change and destructive tornado equate the lack of proof with the lack of any scientific evidence. In so doing they are implicitly claiming only absolute proof counties as evidence. Yet, as we have seen, it would be untruthful to conclude there is no scientific basis for connecting climate change to more damaging tornadoes.”

    If, as Dr. Brown writes, it were true that sceptics accepted only absolute proof as evidence then he would have discovered a genuine worry for ethics. However, his claim is manifestly false. There is not a shred of evidence for it. Sceptics have never asked for absolute scientific evidence; to the contrary, sceptics have asked for some evidence. None has been produced. Dr. Brown supports my claim by his silence on the evidence. You can rest assured that if he had empirical evidence about the behavior of tornadoes, and it supported his Warmista presuppositions, he would certainly publish it in spades. But he has none.

    In addition to empirical evidence, being well-versed in scientific method, sceptics have asked for the physical hypotheses that could be used to explain and predict something useful about the behavior of tornadoes or tornado “environments.” Warmista have none, nada, zilch, zero. You can be sure that if they had them they would be running on the electronic ticker tape in Times Square.

    Meteorologists, such as Piers Corbyn, Anthony Watts, and others, who monitor La Nina patterns forecast a violent tornado season like the one in 1974. Please notice that I wrote “like the one in 1974.” This year’s tornado season in the USA was not exceptional by any means. The work of Watts and others is as good as it gets at this time in the history of science. But they are forecasting, not predicting.

    Science requires prediction. This point is really easy to prove. Suppose some Warmista “predicted” the violent tornado season of 2011 but nothing happened. What belief would the Warmista give up. No Warmista can answer that question. Why? Because their hunches about tornadoes have not undergone the rigorous formulation as physical hypotheses which would permit rejection of one or more hypotheses on the basis of false predictions.

    Brown adds:
    “Climate change will clearly enhance certain atmospheric conditions that should lead to more intense and frequent tornadoes while possibly diminishing others. Evidence of a connection exists despite lack of conclusive proof.”

    Sir, evidence of a connection is not a connection. And you have to have the connection and have it formulated as a physical hypothesis before you can assess the evidence for it. Sir, your words are pure nonsense.

    Sceptics ask of climate scientists what everyone has asked of scientists since Galileo created and explicated scientific method: What are your physical hypotheses, what observations do they imply, and what is their record of confirmation? Until an author can answer these questions, his work has not attained the level of science.

    Finally, Dr. Brown, I would be careful about quoting Trenberth. He belongs to the modeling crowd. That crowd is dominated by Schmidt and similar folk who do not believe that La Nina, or similar phenomena, is a physical process. Sir, La Nina is not represented in the climate models used by Warmista but is treated as statistical noise. To find someone who takes La Nina seriously, as you do, you have to visit the sceptics, those of us who have some respect for empirical reality.

  28. Ethics requires putting first things first, like not wasting money and computing resources on failed models and climate science to promote schemes that even the proponents admit gain nothing. The cure is worse than the disease. Being a moral person requires one to admit that fact. Money for power programs (fossil fuel based) for third world nations is more beneficial and ethical to all.

    Further, this year is not remarkable. The cycle is up, and the storms have shifted east, but that was expected. I live here. I know the OKC 03 May 2001 tornado was the worst ever. It was the biggest and meanest twister ever seen. I just drove through Joplin. If the twister hadn’t hit the main part of town, it would have been a footnote on the season. The round two days later across Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas was much worse, but we were much more fortunate with the locations of the several major tornadoes.

    Humans have short memories. Those of you who do not live in tornado alley forget. We live this every year. Every year! It has been this way for as long as anyone knows. The Kansas natives had beliefs and superstitions about the tornadoes when Europeans first started moving into the Topeka area. The fable is the capitol building location was suggested by the local tribal elder who said the burial mound would be honored by the tornadoes and not cross toward the capitol. (Fable I was told as a boy when I visited.) My point is, the monster tornadoes are nothing new. They come every year. The cold mountain or northern air is there every spring, and the Gulf of Mexico provides warm moist air every spring, and every spring we get tornadoes. Nothing new. And, as Anthony has posted, the data show no TREND!

  29. Ethical? I call it desperate. I can smell the desperation from here emanating from every sentence. May/if/could/might based on computer models with a lavish helping of wishful thinking. make wild claims and wilder guesses and come reckless conclusions and hope fingers crossed that nobody calls you out on it. Look at the evidence, the real actual evidence and it is saying something very different.

    It is what it looks like, a last gasp desperate grasping at straws. More moisture in the atmosphere will lead to more droughts will it? I think not. A warming world? Not for the last decade though, computer says no(English joke). Flying in the face of traditional CAGW theology, do these people actually remember what they are on record as having claimed, or is it say anything to fill the growing void?

    Having just spent precious minutes reading through it, time I will never get back, what on earth is the point of it? It takes thousands of words to say in effect ‘I have no idea what I am talking about but I must cover this ignorance with a snow job’. If this work is for a friendly audience then it says a great deal about the authors opinion of his followers.

  30. Anthony,

    Who’s this Donald A. Brown ? He seems to have been on the edge of a lot of IPCC
    “Team” activities…

    http://www.schreyerinstitute.psu.edu/NatlSpeakers/#DBrown

    Donald A. Brown is an associate professor of environmental ethics, science, and law in the Science, Technology, and Society Program at Penn State University Park. He is director of the Collaborative Program on Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change in the Rock Ethics Institute.

    Dr. Brown served as senior [legal] counsel for Sustainable Development for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. During the Clinton Administration, he was program manager for United Nations organizations at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Office of International Environmental Policy, where he served as the lead on sustainability. Currently, Dr. Brown is director of the Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium, an organization of fifty-six Pennsylvania universities that advocates sustainability on campuses.

    However, if you check out this other Penn State (Rock Ethics Institute) link:

    http://php.scripts.psu.edu/dept/rockethics/bios/brown_d.shtml

    You might get the impression that the good Dr. Brown has borrowed his essay
    from either his latest book, “ American Heat: Ethical Problems with the U.S.
    Response to Global Warming.
    with a few new bad weather updates tossed in
    for currency, or from one of his recent colloquium presentations.

    Whatever. He’s a lawyer and an ethics professor.

  31. JOhn says:
    June 1, 2011 at 9:55 am

    JOhn quotes From NPR:

    “This situation with climate science bears a scary similarity to battles over evolution. Evolution, they claim, is “just a theory;” it can be rejected. But general relativity (GR) is “just a theory” too and yet the evolution deniers don’t mind having their airliners guided by GPS systems dependent on GR.”

    Oh My God Have Mercy On Creation. Einstein’s work amounts to the most highly ramified cosmology ever created. Its true predictions are infinite. By contrast, Darwin could make no predictions about the evolution of any particular species. Please do not confuse Darwin with Mendel or Watson and Crick. The sciences developed by Mendel and Crick and Watson also have infinite true predictions.

    NPR has become nothing but Alinskyite propaganda, and a knee-jerk version at that.

  32. “human-induced climate change”

    That line right up near the top set off my balderdash alarm.
    Abrupt climate change happens.
    But if the current climate changes aren’t anthropogenic, then the powers that be have to acknowledge that they are completely at a loss to explain what’s going on with the climate. And equally powerless to do anything about it.
    And what do you think the odds are of any politician acknowledging that, for all the taxes they take from us there isn’t a damn thing any government can do about the climate? And since they can’t really predict with any confidence which direction the climate is going, they are also completely powerless to come up with any mitigation strategies.
    If the stratigraphic record, and ocean cores, tell us anything, it makes it abundantly clear that the inter-stadial that “recorded history” happened in is not normal climate. The past 300,000 years have seen abrupt climate changes far more severe than anything humans have seen in the “historical” record. And we weren’t the cause of those climate changes either. We were the hapless victims just like all the other flora, and fauna on this planet.
    Ever since Charles Lyell published ‘Principles of Geology’, back in 1830, the unquestioned assumption expressed in the slogan “The present is the key to the past” has been the foundation postulate of the Earth sciences.
    And it just ain’t so.

  33. Yesterday’s West Coast infusion of extremely cold air is now over the four corners and heading east. No rest for the wicked and the innocents nearby. And behind that, a cold upper low now striking Norcal with the direct hit. It’s like -27C at 500MB. Yikes! I’m even worried about twisters here at the coast today.

  34. “Furthermore, it is ethically important to acknowledge that tornadoes will appear in places that they would not likely occur in the absence of global warming even if tornado frequency and intensity decrease because a changing climate is already affecting tornado propagation.”

    Imagine in the future we successfully control greenhouse emissions and thereby reduce global warming by some amount. Would it not follow that tornadoes will appear in places that they would not likely occur if global warming had continued unabated? In such a future, would it be correct to blame any tornado that hits a populous area on the successful efforts to control greenhouse emissions?

  35. “This is so because climate change has already caused changes to the global climate system such as raising ocean temperatures and increasing the amount of water in the atmosphere.”

    Another fool using the words “climate change” with the implication that it is man made.

    Without that incorrect assumption, the quoted phrase (and in fact the entire article)” may be abbreviated to read “Climate Change causes Climate Change”. How ignorant does that sound?

    No, climate change cannot be denied, and yes it is happening now.

    Only fools who read more into that statement than it contains would advocate “immediate action”.

  36. Climate science and AGW has produced a swarm of ta funded unethical people who now are approaching the offensive level of an eco terrorist.

    Their deliberate defrauding of science and observations must meet with some severe consequences sooner rather than later.

  37. This obscures the real issue with tornado damage: how many of the victims in recent decades have been in mobile homes?

  38. Such words spring to mind unbidden-like;

    And, is it really true?
    There’re elephants and lions too,
    At Picadilly Circus?
    – I. Anderson, “Mother Goose”

    “Wot? Ti-guuhs? In Africah?”
    – Monty Python

  39. Does this guy have a PhD? Unbelievable! Whoever sold this guy his degrees needs to be reported to the Better Business Bureau.

  40. Personally, I think they should also investigate the connection with garden gnomes. You can’t be too careful you know. God might be irritated at these eyesores.

  41. I couldn’t help myself and posted a rant after his article. I’ve posted it here as I think it won’t make it through moderation over there. Feel free to give me grief, but i just feel so frustrated that articles like his can be put forward and taken seriously enough that they need to be discussed!

    It feels like you are stretching for tenure and trying to curry favor with other Penn State faculty. If so, then that by itself is unethical.

    That said, is it ethical to stretch the very fabric of what is known about the coupled earth-ocean-atmosphere system to hype your position? One key element in your diatribe is part I G, for which you only present the opinion of one individual, an individual constantly embroiled in controversy because of extreme statements. This is weak, even for argument from Authority. It used to be that “the frequency and intensity of El Nino events would increase” with a warming world and La Nina events would become rare. However, with the turning cold of the PDO, La Nina is now “predicted” to increase also. Curious, isn’t it. In addition, in several places you state that atmospheric water vapor should increase in a warming world. In fact, in part I G you stick the number 4% on it. Measurements do not show this. The number you gave is simply a modeling projection and GCMs are worse at modeling water vapor and precipitation than they are at temperature.

    Is it ethical to tout the hypothetical consequences of “human generated global warming” while ignoring the real consequences of efforts to stop it? That IMHO is the height of unethical behavior.

  42. Is it ethical for a scientist to promote political views and then still claim to be a scientist? Especially when he is not even a scientist in the first place!

    Also is it ethical for a real scientist not to investigate views that counter their own because those views are somehow not seen to be mainstream. Even though they are held by hundreds of equally well qualified scientists.

    When scientists start claiming an ethical high ground it makes me question their every motive.

  43. “I don’t need electricity for my life. I would be complained even when I watched my TV lighted by candles.”
    This has been said by Ľubica Trubiniová, a director of Slovakian branch of Greenpeace and a leader of a campaign For Nuclear-Free Slovakia.
    She has made headlines in press with the declaration, of course. Look at one of them:

  44. This article is just further evidence that Warmism isn’t about the science, but rather, it is a mordern version of the Luddites. The entire field of Warmism should be removed from science and placed in some quiet corner of Philosophical Oddities.

  45. This is why I publicly broke with PSU, over what what this person says. His implications in questioning the ethics of people that disagree with his ideas on AGW is Stalinist in nature, pure and simple.

    I remain a fan of the great parts of PSU meteorology. In addition I welcome his contrary opinion on global warming in this matter, the actual facts over the next
    20 years as the PDO and AMO shift will prove him wrong on that. But his attacks on the ethics and values of people that disagree with him reeks of regimes that sought control of people and their freedom, and is an affront to any free thinking person of good will .

    I am shocked that a university, which is supposed to encourage free exchange of ideas
    would want such things associated with them. And I want it clear to all people in meteorology or graduates of my university, that my objection is not to honest debate about the driving forces of weather and climate, but those who put themselves in the role of judge, jury, and God in determining what is and is not “right”

  46. Reading this made me weary. I had intended walking to the bar for a couple of beers this afternoon, but now I can’t find the energy so I must drive my car, which obligates pointing out to all that ethically, according to Professor Brown’s tedious and overlongish logic, he has thus caused humans to die with his wordy essay.

    What’s next, ripping wings from butterflys? (The turbulence, don’t you know!)

    Cheers,
    Big Dave

  47. I’m still trying to unravel this masterpiece of scientific prose:

    “Yet, no tornado or hurricane experienced recently would likely be the same without some contribution from climate change. That is no tornado would appear at the same place, the same time, with the same wind speed without changes to the climate system that have been caused by human impacts on climate And so every tornado is very likely affected somewhat by climate change. That is although strong tornadoes have occurred before recent human-induced climate change, no recent tornado is likely to have happened in the same way at the same place in the absence of global warming.”

    Uhhh….Errr….Ummmm….What???

    (And, please, resist the urge to laugh out loud lest you disturb your neighbors…).

  48. Surprise! A lawyer and liberal political/environmental activists says we should de-industrialize to “save the world”. This is the problem in the world, we have people for whom the solution to all problems is one-world socialism. Never mind that anywhere socialism has been tried, the environment has been trashed. These people never learn!

  49. That professor wrote:
    “And so, in summary, when it comes to tornadoes and climate change there is reason to believe that tornado caused destruction will increase due to human induced climate change and also reason for doubt.”

    And so, in summary, when it comes to climate change we don’t need no science, we just need to believe … especially since this time it’s us humans who induce climate change … but – what do we see?
    There’s also reason for doubt??
    What???
    Is this the ‘get-out-of-jail-card’ for sceptics, or what!

  50. This post argues that ethics requires acknowledging the links between tornadoes and climate change despite scientific uncertainties about increased frequency and intensity of tornadoes in a warming world.

    Actually, Dr. Brown’s immediate and total retreat to “ethics” as a justification for accepting the reality of a state of affairs invalidates his idea that we “should” do it – and relieves me of any obligation to read the rest, which I didn’t – by admitting that the science has not been sufficient to establish what he wants us to believe and then proceed upon in the real world.

    So just how “ethical” is that, Dr. Brown? And, logically, why “should” your subjective view be any better than that of anyone else? Oh well, since real science is not necessary, who needs logic either? Moreover, why did Brown even continue writing beyond the above statement? Perhaps because he can’t yet simply force us to do his will?

  51. Increasing evidence, quoting somebody quoting somebody else:
    “It would be surprising if there wasn’t an effect [between climate change and the strength of El Niño-La Niña cycles”

    BAM! It must be true!

  52. “In other words, when science is applied to public policy where there is reasonable basis that some human activity is dangerous, science has an important role in communicating any scientifically plausible dangerous risks-not just proven facts.”

    We see this type of ‘reasoning’ becoming more pandemic – hence the recent cellphones-cause-cancer scare. The best way to fight such insane paranoia is to throw out more chaff – just make up a bunch of malignant connections to different benign human activities – the msm won’t know the difference and activist scientists won’t care. Hopefully the wolf-wolf overload will eventually cause the general public to ignore these prophets of doom. BTW did you know that internet packets cause mental constipation?

  53. Pull My Finger says:
    June 1, 2011 at 9:47 am
    Worse yet, he looks like Les Nessman.

    A great laugh. The turkey episode.

    Perhaps the good doctor would tells us why Cuba has so few tornadoes and the southern US so many if it is a higher temperature issue.

    But maybe the problem is climate change in that as it turns colder and the temperature gradient gets sharper more and possibly stronger tornadoes will happen.

  54. Water vapour levels are controlled by the ENSO. We have heard a few people talking recently about a 4.0% increase in column water vapour levels according to Trenberth (and this was repeated in the IPCC AR4 report). This trend starts from the biggest La Nina on record 1988-89 and ends in 2004 during an El Nino. Cherrypick pure and simple and “unethical” to use without the full time period available.

    Water Vapour levels from 1948 to April 2011.

    Controlled by the ENSO.

    And temperatures fell by 0.5C over the past year and water vapour levels fell by 4.0%. So why was there more tornados this spring when that is actually opposite to Dr. Brown’s proposed mechanism?

  55. This is as post-normal as it gets.

    It also reminds me of the final bastion many of the alarmists I meet IRL will retreat to in arguments: that the ‘Big Lie’ is acceptable if the end is sufficiently desirable…..

    Speaking as a current Philosophy and Computing PhD student I have to say his piece also makes me very uncomfortable. He’s certainly no scientist, as others have noted, with such an appalling position, however he’s no philosopher either:

    His entire “ethical” argument is question begging. His is no utilitarian position, nor is it Kantian (duty based) (the author invokes “duty”, when what he means is actually some kind of precautionary principle), nor is it Aristotelian (character, virtue based). I’m left with assessing it as some kind of bald assertion of ‘Big Lie’ justification.

    AFAIK Plato originated the idea of the ‘Big Lie’ and it is a common point of criticism of his political philosophy. The idea was resurrected by the Neo-Cons’ favourite philosopher, Leo Strauss and has proven itself just as dangerous now as it was in Plato’s time and indeed as it was during WWII.

  56. The Englishman’s English term for people like this is plonker. Used in many guises including ‘you must be trying to pull my plonker’.

  57. What on Earth is this supposed to do?

    It makes no sense beyond a religious requirement that we all believe this odd chain of links he has knitted. It is in the form of a butterfly wing beat cascading into climatic catastrophe. Each bit of maybe builds on other bits and now we are supposed to act before everything changes.

    If that is what American Tertiary Education produces then it is just as well you are closing down your space program or else people will get hurt.

    Good grief, Monty Python you say, more like One flew over the cuckoos nest .

    If this man is typical of those “team players” then it is a matter of astonishment to me that these alarmists are still without the tar and feathers they deserve.

  58. This “document” is sure to be referenced in the next IPCC assessment report.

    Maybe it was generated by a random thought generator. He manages to negate most of what he says, and uses other opinions as a major source of information. And he gets paid for this? Was it ghost written by his eight year old son?

    It smacks of desperation. He tried to find a thread of logic to cling to, and missed.

  59. Professor Donald A. Brown presents a succinct summary of a subset of the extreme AGW arguments and methodology. The following is an expanded list.

    1) Start with your conclusion. Make up logical reasons why all current observations support your conclusion. Cold weather, hot weather, drought, high rainfall, in fact all weather events supports the extreme AGW position.

    2) Quote other people who agree with your point of view.

    3) Change the past and current temperature data to support your conclusions.

    4) Ignore scientific data and analysis in published papers that fundamentally changes the extreme AGW position. Alternatively or in addition label the researcher who publishes papers that does not support the mission, a “denier”.

    5) Repeat the mantra “the science is settled”. Organize a ban of discussion of the science at neutral scientific blogs. (Very important as the new data and papers does not support your position.)

    6) Set up our own blog, “Real Climate”. Block any individual who attempts to present scientific papers on Real Climate that contradicts the foundation of the extreme AGW position. (Feedbacks and the formation of clouds. Explanation of why there is a net reduction in low level cloud 1997 to 2006. Papers concerning electroscavenging and the change in 20th century cloud cover. Papers that challenge the sea level rise prediction in the IPCC reports.)

    7) Support the warm leaches who will profit from billions of dollars spent on “green energy” boondoggles.

    8) Ignore the basic scientific research that shows increased atmospheric CO2 is beneficial to the biosphere as a whole (Plants eat CO2. Atmospheric CO2 is at its lowest level in 400 million years.). The biosphere has in the past expanded when the planet was warmer and contracted when it is colder. Most of the increase in temperature in the past when the planet was warmer was at higher latitudes. (See for example the article in the most recent Scientific America that discussion region climate change over the last 5 million years.)

    9) Ignore the paleoclimatic record that shows all of the past interglacial periods ended abruptly and were all short (roughly 10,000 years. The current interglacial period “Holocene” is 11,900 years old. The last very large cyclic abrupt climate change event the Younger Dryas occurred 11,900 years ago. Do not discuss the cycle 100 k year glacial period or the cyclic abrupt climate events that punctuate both the interglacial period and the glacial period. Ignore the cyclic warming and cooling that correlates to changes in the relative magnitude and length of the solar magnetic cycle and number and strength of solar wind bursts.

    10) Ignore the fact that there is concurrent with all of the cyclic abrupt and gradual climate changes cosmogenic isotopes changes that are caused by an abrupt change in the solar magnetic cycle and cyclic changes to the solar magnetic cycle.

    11) Assume your position will somehow help humanity or protect the biosphere. (End justifies the means.) Do not get caught up in scientific discussion concerning climate science or practical engineering and commercial facts concerning management and changes of the energy system, as they are irrelevant and frustrating as logic and facts do not support your position.

  60. When a crazed climate communist hippie is trying to blow that much smoke, it usually mean that they’re smoking too much crap.

    Maybe he went for the cheap thistle weed?

  61. This makes me sooo ashamed to call myself a scientist. Never have I read such an arm-waving, political agenda driven load of BS. How in the name of science do these idiots attain their positions in anything other rubbish universities. Unbelievable !!

  62. Bill Illis says:
    June 1, 2011 at 11:33 am
    Water vapour levels are controlled by the ENSO. We have heard a few people talking recently about a 4.0% increase in column water vapour levels according to Trenberth (and this was repeated in the IPCC AR4 report). This trend starts from the biggest La Nina on record 1988-89 and ends in 2004 during an El Nino. Cherrypick pure and simple and “unethical” to use without the full time period available.

    Water Vapour levels from 1948 to April 2011.

    Controlled by the ENSO.

    And temperatures fell by 0.5C over the past year and water vapour levels fell by 4.0%. So why was there more tornados this spring when that is actually opposite to Dr. Brown’s proposed mechanism?
    ___________________________________________________

    Bill – can you provide the citation for this?

    Can someone explain why isn’t this data the nail in the coffin for positive water cycle feedback?

  63. Note also that Mr. Brown is continuing to drumbeat of “increased chaos” as a clear sign of AGW. I mean, the data shows it to be true! It is MUCH easier to say what happened in the past then what will happen in the future. Therefor chaos is increasing! :)

    It is simply a feint to cover the fact that their models are not “robust”.

  64. Global warming causes catastrophic weather and that is why there is catastrophic weather at the equator, 24/7.

  65. 1 Has Global warming occurred in the last few decades? Probably.

    2 If it did, was the warming caused by human activities?
    We don’t know. We don’t know what the climate would have been doing in the absence of human activities. What caused the Roman and Medieval warm periods and the little ice ages? We don’t know

    3 Has a link been established between intensity and frequency of tornadoes and global warming?
    No.

    4 Is it ethical to claim links where they haven’t been shown to exist?
    No.

    5 Is it ethical to keep referring to the “link” between two phenomena when such a link hasn’t been proved?
    No. Is it unethical to do so? Yes.

    6 Is it ethical to argue that an ethical obligation is placed upon us to act in a certain way because of a certain hypothesis?
    Possibly. But this author didn’t even try to do that, though he tried to slip it in by the back door in the final few lines.

    7 Was Mr Brown’s essay a waste of space and time?
    Not completely. Like many other such essays it gives us an insight into how the minds of some academics work. It also gives us cause to wonder how such people become academics when their capacity for logical thought is so faulty or their ethics are so suspect.

    8 No question. Fail.

  66. I just submitted the following to his site:
    ————————————————
    “Climate change is occurring, is very likely caused primarily by the emission of greenhouse gases…”

    It all comes down to the greenhouse effect. And…

    The planet Venus has 96.5% carbon dioxide (CO2) in its atmosphere, compared to Earth’s 0.04% CO2. Yet Venus’s atmosphere is not any warmer due to that much greater concentration of atmospheric CO2: it is only warmer (by a constant 17%, at any given pressure) due to its smaller distance from the Sun:

    Venus: No Greenhouse Effect

    So there is NO greenhouse effect (global warming due to increasing CO2). Truly a revolutionary finding. This is the easiest analysis you will find on the subject of basic climate science, and it should have been done nearly 20 years ago, and the greenhouse effect rejected by science then, when the detailed Venus data was obtained by the Magellan spacecraft (the above article has a link to the data, and any competent student of physics, much less professional scientist, can verify my simple analysis).

    I am an independent research physical scientist (meaning, I’m on my own). I submitted my Venus/Earth analysis in a letter to “Physics Today”, but they declined (after two and a half months of silence) to publish this all-important information concerning the non-existence of the greenhouse effect. That is nothing new, in my long experience; peer-review is a black hole in which submissions are sucked in and never seen again, for “outsiders” like me. Yet I am the competent one, and all who proclaim the climate “consensus” of the IPCC are incompetent, as the Venus/Earth data readily proves. It is the key to the self-correction of climate science, and I await the academic who is competent enough, and honest enough, to publically recognize that. Until that happens, you are all speaking nonsense, from out of a deep pit of false science into which you have fallen. And you are miseducating the world, and a whole new generation of students that the world will soon depend upon.

  67. He’s stuff the Senacot pill up the wrong orrifice. Someone should have told him that you put it in your mouth to make the other run not the other way round. Did he proof read this utter rubbish? Someone like this is a danger not only to us but also to himself. He should be locked up and the key thrown down a volcano. Utter, utter drivel.

  68. Weather Is Becoming More Chaotic As Predicted

    How can any system become more chaotic? When used in its proper mathematical sense isn’t “chaotic” and either/or thing? Weather is chaotic. Always has been and always be essentially unpredictable.

  69. I think what he said is that there won’t be more tornadoes and they won’t be stronger, but they might change where they happen and the path they take. Since those are pretty random now and I presume will be random in the future…. Just a different random.

    That makes for a real testable hypothesis. Kind of like I rolled a die and got a 3, then a 4, then a 6. Well, I rolled a die and got a 5, then a 3 and then a 4. See Climate change made the difference. It’s consistent with the theory.

  70. Using carefully crafted words to create an ethical justification for promoting a specific fear in a population about an acknowledged unknown….

    That is what every cult leader uses to gain followers. and what Donald Brown did above.

    “Yes, we don’t know for certain if fire and brimstone will fall from the sky tomorrow! Fear God!”

    You see the similarity? I’m talking to you, Mr Brown.

  71. Oh, while on the topic of climate chaos, I will provide Dr. Brown with a sure fire slogan that he can use to sell his snake oil:

    Climateology: All of our models are wrong… just as we predicted!

  72. Pull My Finger says:
    June 1, 2011 at 9:39 am

    “This guy spouts off nonsense like this all the time. Please not he IS NOT a scientist, only involved with PSU as a staff member the Rock Ethics Institute …”

    Rocks have ethics? Who knew?

    I think that if it were true that no one were looking at possible connections between climate change and tornadic activity, he might have a point. But, in fact, the issue has received lots of attention. And his presentation is so long, rambling, poorly organized, and dubiously researched (Joe Romm is an authority? Is this stand-up comedy?) that I can’t figure out what he is saying. Moreover after the first few paragraphs, I ceased to care.

  73. Using Professor Brown’s reasoning, I can prove conclusively that Elvis rides a Purple Unicorn, not a Pink one.

  74. What a load of drivel. I couldn’t believe that anyone could write such tosh and then have the temerity to publish it – [snip -over the top - Anthony]
    Douglas

  75. Smokey, great finding.
    So they may decrease in the real world, but ethics let us consider them increasing anyway. How smart.

  76. Joe Bastardi says:
    June 1, 2011 at 10:52 am
    “This is why I publicly broke with PSU, over what what this person says. His implications in questioning the ethics of people that disagree with his ideas on AGW is Stalinist in nature, pure and simple.”

    Thanks so much for speaking up. I know that speaking up is difficult for people with a large public following. Brown is Stalinist as filtered through Saul Alinsky and his many living minions.

  77. The upside of Climate Science professors seeking an increase in science ethics is that Michael Mann already has an algorithm for them to use on the resulting performance data.

  78. If I am repeating a previous comment, my apologies; I had time to read only halfway down.

    The crucial foundation for science is ethics: the commitment to (1) acknowledge to oneself what is true from one’s own observation, and (2) repeat only that truth to others. Absent this, the entire enterprise of science is impossible…as we have seen in the guise of “climate science,” which is more in league with Lysenkoism than actual science.

    Rationalizing “ethics” to justify the manipulation of the public is really no more than the behavior of a sociopath. Ted Bundy, meet thy soulmate.

  79. Ethics? Whose Ethics?
    All I see here is Henny Penny hortative.

    I strongly suspect, that should the Prof ever end up in a court, on trial for his life, he would inevitably insist on something close to “absolute proof” from the prosecution, and would reject evidence obtained by teleconnection as “unethical”.

  80. Physics Major says:
    June 1, 2011 at 12:14 pm
    Weather Is Becoming More Chaotic As Predicted
    “How can any system become more chaotic? When used in its proper mathematical sense isn’t “chaotic” and either/or thing? Weather is chaotic. Always has been and always be essentially unpredictable.”

    You are absolutely correct. However, the comment does suggest a game. “Mum, why is the weather so chaotic today?” “Are there more tipping points?” “Have we tipped a tipping point?” “Is the fall from tipping point greater?” “Has the butterfly flapped?”

  81. I do believe, that what we have here, is an example of begging the question.
    “When and where a tornado is generated is dependent upon initial conditions and climate change has changed initial conditions around the world.”

    I could say, “When and where a rainbow is generated is dependent upon initial conditions and gold price change has changed initial conditions around the world.” Now, come on, can anyone argue that rainbows have NOT been more intense lately? We’re seeing double rainbows and triple rainbows all across the sky! It’s so intense!

  82. Professor Brown states “Climate change is an ethical problem because: (a) Some people in some parts of the world are putting others at risk, (b) The harms to those at risk could be catastrophic, and (c) Most of the victims of climate change can do little to avoid harm, they must rely on a sense of justice will motivate those who are putting others at risk to reduce their climate changing causing behavior.”

    I ask then, out of his sense of justice, what has Professor Brown done to reduce his climate changing causing behavior (carbon footprint) to zero?

  83. Harry Duffman,

    Your ‘proof’ that there is no greenhouse effect on Venus, correctly incorporates the distance of Venus from the sun, but ignores the albedo effect entirely. There albedo of Venus is so much higher than the Earth’s, that actually LESS insolation should reach the planets surface not more.

    The pressure comparison is also suspect, because although it is true that temperatures of gases increase as they are compressed, once the change in pressure stops, the heat will radiate away until equilibrium is reached.

  84. Darn. I was just getting used to “denier” and now I’m unethical? What a step in the poo that is.

    So ethics now REQUIRE everyone to blindly accept all the assumptions in his article as proven truth? Bite me!

  85. And this is what our tax money produces? A bunch of cut and pasted opinions with a dash of 10th grade Earth Science thrown into the mix that really says nothing. As time progresses, science stands against the CAGW/Alarmist narrative.. Now all the Team has are PR hacks, spinmeisters, and policy wonks who clutter the airways and blogespheres with this stuff. Sad, really sad.

  86. If it is against “AGW Rule” for us to link the 3 last winters’ extremely cold weather in America, Europe, Mongol-Asia and maybe Antarctica too to “Global Cooling” then why should this guy think he is entitled to link high, but no higher than average, tornado activity in Alabama to “Global Warming?”

  87. Some people were astonished that someone would reference Joe Romm. I was really blown out by the reference to McKibben. Romm is a pillar of scientific wisdom compared to McKibben. After I saw McKibben’s name, I expected a reference to the tooth fairy. If people haven’t read his op-ed piece in the Washington Post, they really should. It breaks new ground.

  88. Question #1: Putting all the bloviating babble of this article aside, explain to me why with increasing CO2, the temperature of the world has been decreasing since 1998?

    Question #2: Regarding the GISP2 ice core temperature data, the temperatures now
    (supposedly caused by CO2 increases) are an underwhelming 0.4C higher than 200 years ago. So, how do you explain the more significant non-CO2 related warming temperatures during the Medieval Period being 1.4C higher, Roman Period 2.8C higher, and Minoan Period 3.4C higher than 200 years ago?

    Question #3: What is in the water at PSU? /sarc.

  89. Bangladesh Needs $25 Billion To Tap 14 Tcf Offshore Gas
    Dhaka (Reuters) – Bangladesh will require up to $25 billion in investment to tap an estimated 14 trillion cubic feet of natural gas that is possibly available in the country’s offshore but not yet discovered, a senior official of Australia’s Santos International said Monday.

    “Bangladesh has the potential to find at least 14 tcf gas from its offshore fields,” said John Chambers, president of Santos in Bangladesh. …

    Prediction: It gets drilled, Much of Bangladesh subsides by a meter or so as a result of lowered pore pressure at depth, and CO2 induced climate change/rising sea levels are blamed when millions die during a subsequent hurricane.

  90. Everyone should endeavor to remember the name Donald A. Brown. If he applies for a position – show him the back door. If your child is registered in his course – cancel it and demand a refund. If a book has his name on it – throw it out. If television interviews him – immediately change channels.

    It is the only moral thing to do! GK

  91. Did anyone notice, that when the words “yet” and “however” were removed from this article, that it became just one paragraph long?

    Mark H.

  92. I commented on the author’s blog that he obviously sees that it’s ethical to lie.
    I am truly staggered!

  93. Terrestrial and avian gigantism follow different sets of rules. The pteradons were some of the spindliest creatures that ever flew, but their wingspans reached 50 feet. They clearly did not evolve under turbulent skies, but we know they evolved under conditions warmer than the present. The existence of huge, flying reptiles for a hundred million years is a clear indication that warmer skies were calmer skies: less temperature variation, less wind shear, weaker storms. Else the flyers must have spent a lot of time hunkering down fasting–something which creatures of high metabolism–all flyers–don’t do much. –AGF

  94. At least this is one instance where my taxes are not paying for unadulterated garbage.

  95. The very same argument can be made that Ethics requires us to acknowledge the link between cell phones and brain cancer, even if the scientific evidence is not conclusive.

    Surely brain cancer is a more serious problem than Climate Change. What would you rather have personally? Brain cancer or climate change? How about for your kids? Brain cancer or climate change?

    Should we not according to the Precautionary Principle be looking to reduce our cell phone footprint? Should we not be looking to move to a cell phone free future? Should we not have a tax or cap and trade on cell phones?

    Why the hypocrisy over climate change if we don’t apply the same rules to much greater risks?

  96. Roy Spencer shows that tornados increase in COOL years. See:
    Today’s Tornado Outlook: High Risk of Global Warming Hype May 24th, 2011 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

    there has been a downward trend in strong (F3) to violent (F5) tornadoes in the U.S. since statistics began in the 1950s. As seen in the top panel, this has also been a period of general warming. For those statistics buffs, the correlation coefficient is -0.31. Obviously, the conclusion should be that warming causes fewer strong tornadoes, not more.

    Then Note: The Tornado – Pacific Decadal Oscillation Connection May 25th, 2011 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

    It appears Brown is not familiar with the science – just the politics.

  97. “…science has an important role in communicating any scientifically plausible dangerous risks-not just proven facts.”

    If that’s the case then science should be communicating that any attempt to sharply limit CO2 emissions would so limit energy use as to risk mass starvation and very possibly send civilization back to the stone age. Why should one type of risk receive more attention than another equally plausible and potentially more dangerous risk?

  98. He says,

    “Before discussing tornadoes, it is important to note that it is scientifically uncontroversial to conclude that climate change is causing more violent weather particularly in the form of: (a) more damaging thunder storms, (b) the kind of devastating flooding we have seen this year in Australia, Pakistan, Brazil, Columbia, Venezuela, along the Mississippi and the Tennessee valleys, and (c) more severe droughts such as those experienced this year in China, Brazil, and Texas.”

    Scientifically uncontroversial……climate change is causing more violent weather……

    I’d accept “climate is causing violent weather” as it always has. Now there is more human infrastructure to be damaged by it, more tv news to report it, more mobile phones to film it, more internet to spread the films, more political and ecocommercial cargo cult motivation to exploit it and write crap like this article.

  99. Richard111 says:
    June 1, 2011 at 9:45 am
    I find I am unable to make any comment about the above essay.
    I just feel a sense of impending doom. The problem is not the climate but my fellow man.

    _ _ _ _ _

    I feel much the same. What a convoluted mess of contradictions, and guilt-inducing nonsense. It’s dangerous rubbish.

  100. In Canada, University of Calgary has an Institute promoting climate change alarmism inviting journalist-explorers to tell it all, funded by retired oilmen who feel they need to spend their millions in hiring a bunch of US academics who will whip them Dominatrix style…
    In Winnipeg, the building where a very well known poster, rabid defender of the guitar player, is -still- working at obtaining his PhD has been funded by a retired oilman… paramount of hypocrisy!
    As for Donald Brown, “environmental ethics” is another word for “political science funded by Big Green”. He belongs to that myriad of peddlers who, by self interest, career opportunism or desire to conform, gobble the AGW science and pretend in turn that they are experts on the question.
    Another related field is “environmental landscaping” where some smart cocky arborist can impress the local political Prius driving citizenry by recognizing the effects of climate change at the lack of snow on the North Shore mountains during the last winter Olympics! Sadly for this genius, this year I am told the slopes received over 5 m of the white stuff…
    Organ of the Thomson family, from Thomson Reuters fame, invested in Point Carbon through Woodbridge whose among trustees counts Sir Crispin Tickell, a IPCC/UNEP friend from the earlier time, The Globe and Mail national newspaper uses many of such types to dupe the readership with academic titles unrelated to the issue.
    For instance, Thomas Homer-Dixon, a political scientist and mouthpiece for James Overland’s “extreme cold a consequence of global warming” theory or Donald Tapscott, a world social media speaker, author of “Wikinomics” and heir apparent of Marshall McLuhan (by the maid), or Chantal Kreviazuk a folk singer expert in crying for polar bears -poor little beast, the bear that is!-, or Jeffrey Simpson, a political pundit who shares the same speaking engagement booking agent with Andrew Weaver, the best mathematical wizard of climate change modeling west of Saturna Island and east of the Empress Hotel tea room.
    Their outbursts are their sign of allegiance to the new Green, old Banking Power destined to feed the MSM with more ammunition against the heretics.
    They are at the forefront of saving the planet, especially when they keep silent and hold their breath.

  101. I don’t get it. He is asking people to acknowledge the effects of something uncertain in its effects?

    That’s insane.

  102. Nonsense!

    The science is readily available: http://www.weathermodification.com Look at a list of clients and programs currently underway RE: ‘Weather Modification’ (Man-Made, Of Course.)

    Human activity is certainly the cause of the increased severity of these storms, Humans Modifying The Weather.

    We have reported extensively and conclusively on this subject.

    The fact is; ‘The earth has been cooling for the past nine years’, resulting in a SIGNIFICANT increase in the mass of the Antarctic Ice.

    Just published a great article by contributing editor Philippe Leroux @ http://www.crisisjones.wordpress.com

    For the blind followers of Man-made Global Warming, I ask you this; ‘How would the storms that just killed those many people in Joplin have differed with the incessant aerial cloud seeding?’

    Answer – They would NOT have been as severe. (Or the flooding.)

  103. Nonsense!

    The science is readily available: …http://www.weathermodification.com Look at a list of clients and programs currently underway RE: ‘Weather Modification’ (Man-Made, Of Course.)

    Human activity is certainly the cause of the increased severity of these storms, Humans Modifying The Weather.

    We have reported extensively and conclusively on this subject.

    The fact is; ‘The earth has been cooling for the past nine years’, resulting in a SIGNIFICANT increase in the mass of the Antarctic Ice.

    Just published a great article by contributing editor Philippe Leroux @ …http://www.crisisjones.wordpress.com

    For the blind followers of Man-made Global Warming, I ask you this; ‘How would the storms that just killed those many people in Joplin have differed without the incessant aerial cloud seeding?’

    Answer – They would NOT have been as severe. (Or the flooding.)

  104. If we deliberately alter our lifestyles in an attempt to change the climate, then every climatic event would have to have some portion attributable to the human intervention.

    If this action increases the tornado incidences to levels not seen since 1974, that would surely raise some ethical issues.

  105. I, too, have just wasted many minutes of my life. I felt I ought to read it all in order to be fair to the man, but, dear Lord…………….

    I began to copy some of his more labyrinthine convolutions to use in this comment, but the whole was almost more than the sum of its parts, and I gave up, or rather, gave in in despair.

    The only positive I can take from this poor, deluded, benighted soul’s desperate ramblings is that they will only come back to haunt him.

    And then I read everyone else’s comments and cheered up!

  106. MikeP says:
    June 1, 2011 at 10:42 am

    I couldn’t help myself and posted a rant after his article.

    I did too. Mine won’t pass moderation either:

    I think it is scientifically plausible that you are as mad as a hatter.

    Is it my duty to warn people; assuming, of course, that I tell them you are not proven to be mad?

  107. Ethics requires us to link tornadoes with an angry god that can only be appeased by the sacrifice of a dozen virgins in the nearest volcano. Give me a break! Ethics doesn’t require us to link anything with ridiculous hypotheses no matter how juicy they sound!

  108. William -
    ima shorten your list, to wit:

    assert whatever you want as an axiom
    conclude that everything is as it is because of it, with the corollary that it would be different except for that.

    if you accept the axiom, the argument is hermetic…lol

    good ethics seems conspicuously absent on any level.

  109. Why didn’t Dr Brown just say

    ‘Climate change might cause more intense tornadoes or it might not, but the ethical position would seem to indicate the former even though I’m not at all sure about this. Meanwhile the weather will become more chaotic, possibly, though again I’m not too sure. Still I’ve taken an ethical stance perhaps.’

  110. What I find annoying is statements of the form “Climate change causes X”. Which appears to be a case of putting the cart before the horse. Shouldn’t it be more “X indicates that the climate is changing in such and such a way”. Anyway about the only possible way that Earth’s climate could not change would be if it didn’t have one…

  111. Joe Bastardi says:
    June 1, 2011 at 10:52 am
    This is why I publicly broke with PSU, over what what this person says. His implications in questioning the ethics of people that disagree with his ideas on AGW is Stalinist in nature, pure and simple.

    Wow Joe! My socks blew clear across the room!

    Shame on PSU for promoting this sort behavior. Its one thing to tolerate Brown’s kind of hate speech, its quite another to hitch your institution’s name and reputation to it.

  112. According to AGW theory we should have a polar amplification effect which effectively reduces the temperature differential between polar and tropical regions.

    So, in theory would it not be more appropriate to suggest that AGW should reduce tornado numers and intensity?

  113. It is part of the Marxist/Environmentalist standard operating procedure to advance their freedom destroying agenda by pitching change as a moral or ethical imperative.

  114. Most commenters can’t see the silver lining. The more AGW is mentioned as possible cause to whatever disaster however tenuous the link, the more the AGW message will get diluted and seriously cheapened. And that can only be a good thing.

  115. Malarkey!

    The meteorologists just gave an in depth analysis of the many tornadoes here last week and it was totally because of the jet stream hook and cold upper air. Period.

    Now, even though it’s muggy with huge cumulus clouds and possibility of local thunderstorms daily they have already announced no chance of tornadic activity for weeks to come with the jet stream now far out of the extended picture and no cold upper air. Cold air plus the shear are the only culprits.

    Nothing is worse than a publicly lying scientist claiming his knowledge but only showing his ignorance. Your normal person cannot tell the difference. Associate Professor Donald A. Brown, it is YOU who has no ethics.

  116. If only Professor Brown were smart enough and wise enough to realize the extent to which he has just exposed himself…
    “Appalling” is the first word that comes to mind.

  117. If this is what they’ve got, they’re running out;

    “It also can be said that in one way climate change is already changing all global weather including tornadoes. This is so because climate change has already caused changes to the global climate system such as raising ocean temperatures and increasing the amount of water in the atmosphere. ”

    Let me repeat that for clarity; ” . . . climate change has already caused changes to the global climate system . . .”.

    Stunning in it’s simplicity. Astounding that he cannot read his work and be sufficiently embarrassed to throw it in the wastepaper basket.

    So, if climate change hadn’t caused changes to the global climate system, would it really be climate change, or could we just call it
    weather?

    By this standard, every single butterfly in existence is guilty of climate change.

    The whole thing is amateurish and highly indicative of a liberal arts doctorate. Phd in “Environmental Ethics, Science and Law”, huh? Is there any actual scientific education in that Phd, then? Or possibly just a lot of time at the local coffee shop drinking lattes and smoking clove cigarettes with you birkenstock clad brethren.

    This kind of tripe should bring about a quick end to the CAGW cabal. Perhaps then real scientists can get to doing research and learning about the Earth’s climate, instead of just making up stories to scare people and justify their funding.

    Pathetic.

  118. Frank K. says:

    I’m still trying to unravel this masterpiece of scientific prose:

    “Yet, no tornado or hurricane experienced recently would likely be the same without some contribution from climate change. That is no tornado would appear at the same place, the same time, with the same wind speed without changes to the climate system that have been caused by human impacts on climate And so every tornado is very likely affected somewhat by climate change. That is although strong tornadoes have occurred before recent human-induced climate change, no recent tornado is likely to have happened in the same way at the same place in the absence of global warming.”

    If he were claiming that human activities involving changing the surface of the Earth, including farming, constructing buildings and roads, changing the course of rivers, cutting down and planting forests, etc could alter the paths of tornadoes then he might have a point :) But whatever effect humans may have dosn’t appear to be that great. Given that “Tornado Alley” in the same place for at least the last few hundred years.

  119. Well Professor Donald A. Brown, with respect to David Bowie the following makes a lot more sense:-

    This is major Tom to ground control, I’m stepping through the door
    And I’m floating in a most peculiar way
    And the stars look very different today
    Here am I floatin’ ’round my tin can far above the world
    Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do

    Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do

  120. Wasting my time reading this has altered to course of my life. Every bad thing that happens in the future is his fault. In addition, I want my hour back.

    J

  121. lol, I don’t think I can add to what’s already been stated.

    Anthony, you may be giving this person too much credit by printing his manifesto. Good for fodder though.

  122. I am disappointed that you have thought it necessary to give so much time and space to this nonsense. All we need to see is that he treats Romm as an authority.

  123. The only thing which is constant in the climate world is that climate change is always with us and always will be – a steady monotonous climate is an impossible state for our planet – something the average greenie, goofy politician and climate ‘scientists’ is completely unable to comprehend.

    The word ‘ethically’ is repeatedly used here in the context of: ‘how can I delude/confuse the reader’.

  124. If he believes it’s an ethical imperitive, and yet he contributes to CO2 emissions by driving cars and using plastics and electriciry, then can we conclude he’s unethical and a criminal against humanity?

  125. I sometimes wonder if people like Dr. Brown actually believe the crap they write, or if they are laughing hysterically at all the other people who DO believe the crap.

    “Many commenting on the connection between climate change and destructive tornado equate the lack of proof with the lack of any scientific evidence. In so doing they are implicitly claiming only absolute proof counties as evidence. Yet, as we have seen, it would be untruthful to conclude there is no scientific basis for connecting climate change to more damaging tornadoes. Climate change will clearly enhance certain atmospheric conditions that should lead to more intense and frequent tornadoes while possibly diminishing others. Evidence of a connection exists despite lack of conclusive proof.”

    “…that should lead…” is clearly all the absolute proof/scientific basis that I need.

  126. We know with high levels of confidence

    What levels of confidence, how were these levels quantified?

    That the Earth is warming is based upon many robust lines of independent evidence including temperature measurements of many different types of land, ocean, and atmosphere, diminishing sea ice, retreating glaciers, the timing of the formation and melting of river ice, the timing and aerial extent of snow cover, and the migration of plants and animals among other things.

    This is not proof of man made global warming; it is proof of variability – BTW isn’t snow cover actually increasing, sea temperatures have stopped rising, sea ice is not diminishing?

    I could go on throughout the article, but it is boring. The tendentious argument here is that evidence for climate change, that no-one denies, is evidence for man made global warming, which it isn’t. This man is the denier of natural climate change.

    Acknowledging facts is ethical; acknowledging a Lysenkoist conspiracry is un-ethical. This man is in need of an ethics councellor.

  127. There is only one test that we should demand of the Warmistas: Can you prove that these climate variations that you identify are NOT due to natural variability?

    I think this is refered to as the NULL hypothesis.

  128. So much disinformation in one post the mind reels, it is bad enough that the body of science has chosen to ignore the effects of the moon on the weather. But the truth is that the lunar declinational atmospheric tidal effects are driving the Rossby waves and jet streams in their continual wanderings, one of the off shoots of these repeating patterns of lunar tidal effects is the cyclic predictability of these tornadoes to with in days and a couple hundred miles of location of occurrence, based on the past patterns of occurrence.

    http://research.aerology.com/category/severe-weather/tornadoes/

    This post on my website shows the ability to forecast tornadoes and probable locations shown on the forecast maps for precipitation for this past spring outbreak. Maps can be found here and are searchable for the past three years and the next three years as well;

    http://www.aerology.com/national.aspx

    http://research.aerology.com/lunar-declinational-affects-on-tornado-production/

    Is a set of repeating pattern evaluations as a test of the most influential of the patterns found in the lunar declinational periods, that can be used to generate even better forecast of when and where tornadoes will form in the future.

    Tornado and hurricane production is all determined by the harmonic oscillations of the solar lunar tidal effects and the strength of the solar wind and sun spot cycle activity, with new data showing that CME’s need to be considered as well. Forecasts that I, Piers Corbyn and I think Joe Bastardi as well are formulated on consideration of solar wind activity and lunar modulation patterns as well.

    http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/OH/OH2011.html#SE2011Jun01P

    This set of three eclipses in June 2011 marks the effect that the solar and lunar declination is the same at culmination of ~23.5 degrees causing the synergistic combination of the solar and lunar atmospheric tides to be in phase in mid summer and mid winter, giving rise to all of the huge swings in meridional flows that intensify the tornado production potential as well as Atlantic hurricane numbers going up the past two years and this one as well.

    Intensity is kind of controlled by the heliocentric conjunction timing of the outer gas planets, Saturn synod conjunction was back on the 3rd of April 2011 and it had some effects on the start and interruption of the early spring tornado outbreak and then as earth had passed on by the later heavy outbreaks formed in their usual way by their usual methods.

    This summer hurricane season will be uninterrupted by outer planet synod conjunctions until August 22 by Neptune, and a synod conjunction of Uranus on 25th of September, then Jupiter on the 13th of October, so I do expect to see lots of tiny Tims early on in the 2011 hurricane season with a bigger finish in late fall.

  129. So, El Niño and La Niña events will become more extreme? Didn’t Hansen predict (’97 or ’98) that because of global warming we would never again encounter a La Niña event?

  130. When I was a student at the University of Wisconsin – Madison (BS/MS 1980-86), there were pretend professor pudknockers there, just like this Dr. Brown. They would hold ‘teach ins’ on the grass slopes next to Bascom Hall, where they disseminated their taurus feces thesis, akin to Dr. Brown’s cognitive dissonance on ‘man made global warming ethics’. To the gullible or already confirmed believers, they sound intelligent. To most logic minded folks, exposure to 5 minutes of their specious ‘reasoning’ results in !!!! WUWT?”

    Dr. Brown asserts in closing “…when science is applied to public policy where there is reasonable basis that some human activity is dangerous, science has an important role in communicating any scientifically plausible dangerous risks-not just proven facts.”

    By his own reasoning, our governments should be far more concerned with the risks of a sizable meteor impacting Earth and focusing our energies into creating the infrastructure to detect them and redirect them! We know large meteors have struck the Earth repeatedly, with ‘climate changing impacts’, if you’ll pardon my double entendre. Failing to acknowledge and address the ‘clear and present danger’, while focusing huge amounts of human and financial capital on the chimera of ‘man made global warming’, is indeed dangerous human behavior! I feel ethically bound to ‘communicate this scientifically plausible dangerous risk’ to Dr. Brown!!!!!

    To the gentle readers of WUWT, please note: I’m not all that concerned about rogue meteors devastating earth…. but the hazard has greater substantiation and potential impact (Oops – did it again! };>) ) to earth dwellers than adding another 100ppm of CO2 to our atmosphere ever will! Earthquakes, tsunamii, volcanoes,… all are far greater, more immediate threats to us dirt dwellers on this dynamic and ever changing planet, than any of the vacuous claims of impending/potential/probable/maybe/could happen/any day now ‘disasters’ made up by the AGW believers! We desperately need to focus our limited resources on well documented real threats in our everyday world.

  131. PaulH @ June 1, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Chaos theory was developed to demonstrate how very minor variations in initial conditions, and other factors, can completely change the result of computer simulations. In real nature, the initial conditions are known perfectly and nature responds as expected.

    But, digitize those initial conditions, and introduce discrete time-steps and monte-carlo randomness, we often get contradictory outcomes in our computer simulations. Nature is continuous at the macro level, computer simulations aren’t.

  132. “I’ll bet $10,000 that the average annual number of Americans killed by tornadoes, floods and hurricanes will fall over the next 20 years.”

    Uh, North or South Americans? Central Americans? All three? What about ex-pats? What about polar bears? Can they use tree rings as proxies for fatalities?

  133. agree with most posters above, for anyone to put this garbage/nonsense against their name, must be loopy or to smart for me to figure out the smart bit.

    ps. sick & tired of ‘climate change’ being mixed with ‘global warming’ in these pieces, most here know the difference but Joe public can get confused.

  134. “As a result all tornadoes have been affected somewhat by global climate change although tornado frequency and intensity need not have increased.”

    So there aren’t more tornadoes and they aren’t any stronger either. But we know for certain they’ve been affected by climate change.

    Um, okay.

    Apparently they have been affected in some invisible way that doesn’t make any difference.

  135. I agree with Joe Bastardi’s reported reaction, and I also see Brown as the US clone of John Cook in that they both use or misuse science to suit whatever they can twist or spin to suit their agenda. We should be mightily concerned at the type of skewed ethics as it is so easy to slide into a form of compulsion and the tactics of inquisition.

    I wonder if he ever walks on the streets these days with that sort of ethics and connective ability. Could be rightly accused of all sorts of things ethically and convicted in a “kangaroo Court” and locked away on the remote possibility he might may be, possibly, commit a crime, even if we are unsure about the legalities, but best to lock him up anyway for the greater good!!

    Maybe he should think about that future also if his style of ethics catches on!!

  136. It is late in the UK, so I will leave you with Prof Brown’s latest reply on his blog, make of which as you may. It has sent me to my bed in the sure and certain knowledge that whilst my generaration tried very hard we have failed in our ability to educate our academics.

    Author Profile Page DONALD A BROWN replied to comment from Richard Pauli | June 1, 2011 2:32 PM | Reply

    “I am trying to say that we dont know that tornado intensity and frequency will increase in a warming world but there is reason to believe that this could happen and some of the reasons are based upon very sound science such as as the oceans warm water vapor will increase and atmospheric winds will be affected by more energy in the atmosphere. Both of these lead to more unstable weather which could increase the frequency and intensity of some tornado events. We do not, however, know that intensity and frequency of tornadoes will increase for reasons I set out in the article. Yet there is a substantial risk that in a warming world we will affect tornado propagation. Moreover, we will surely affect strong storm propagation even if we dont increase tornado propagation and any existing tornado is being propagated in a system that has already been affected by climate change.”

    Please will somebody keep Prof Brown and his ilk away from children.

  137. It’s kind of sad really, even if it’s very ironic and comical, but for years “skeptic scientists” has been questioned about who’s been paying their bills, when the question all along should have been: are the CAGW “scientists” and believers really of sound mind?

  138. “ethics requires acknowledging the links between tornadoes and climate change”. There are a lot of other possible motivations that come to mind as to how and why one might be compelled to make such a link. Somehow though, ethics doesn’t seem to be one of them.
    Unfortunately for Brown, Warmist Beliefs and ethics are polar opposites. Essentially, Warmism requires the use of untruths, but these untruths aren’t supposed to matter, because of a Greater Good, which is, of course, saving the planet for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

  139. In my opinion, the MAJOR question is…

    Would Prof. Brown’s essay still sound credible to his climate scientist friends and colleagues if we substituted “space aliens” for “climate change”? Let’s find out!

    “The outbreak of recent killer weather events including US tornadoes hitting Joplin, Missouri and Tuscaloosa, Alabama has everyone asking whether there is a link between tornadoes and space aliens. In this writer’s experience when US TV or radio weathermen are asked about the cause of recent strong tornadoes, they most always ignore space aliens as a potential cause and point to a cyclical ocean circulation event known as La Niña as the cause of recent tornadoes if they comment on causation at all. Rarely are space aliens mentioned as a cause or contributing factor in the recent outbreak of sever tornadoes although questions about causation are becoming more frequent on TV and newspapers in this writer’s experience.”

    [and so forth...]

    Works for me! It even improves the accuracy of his claims…[heh]

  140. Forget the subject matter of the essay: the writing and thinking exhibited would not
    win an essay contest in a good junior high school.

    The man cannot write. Worse, he cannot think.

    But, he has a PhD.

    Or, should it be: ergo, he has a PhD?
    (X years steeping in pseudo-science and pseudo-think times X dollars per credit
    hour and, voila! A PhD is hatched!)

    He obviously has no clue he has nothing but oatmeal between his ears. He actually
    considers himself an educated, thinking man. How very very very sad.
    …….Lady in Red

  141. I’m surprised at the number of commenters who appear to have read at least a significant part of Prof. Brown’s essay. After two or three of his paragraphs, I recognized enough absurdity to know that it wasn’t worth my time. You might as well be reading an ethical justification for homepathy or astrology.

  142. Not my first time reading this sort of thing, so I came equipped with high boots and a stout fork. My boots were overtopped early on, and my stout fork broke. I’ve got enough in my boots to fertilize a dozen rose bushes, but I made it all the way through! (He channels Ravetz at the end, for those who didn’t make it.)

    Apparently, four people were killed by tornados today in Massachusetts. (condolences!) In 1953, 90 were killed. It is not scientifically controversial that this drop in the death toll was caused by CO2 emitted since 1953. Obviously, the ethical thing is to emit more!

    Best,
    Frank

  143. In Burrito says:
    June 1, 2011 at 12:08 pm
    Bill Illis says:
    June 1, 2011 at 11:33 am
    Water vapour levels are controlled by the ENSO.
    ————–

    Bill – can you provide the citation for this?

    Can someone explain why isn’t this data the nail in the coffin for positive water cycle feedback?
    ———————–

    The data I showed is the NCEP Reanalysis dataset. Many climate scientists don’t like this dataset because it does not show what they want it to show.

    But … it is the only dataset we have going back far enough to do a proper analysis.

    And … it is virtually identical to the data Trenberth used, its just that he cherry-picked his timelines and it is virtually identical to the what is supposed to the best dataset in the world, Hadcruh. And it is virtually identical to the SMMI water vapour numbers (not surprising since this data is used in the NCEP Reanalysis project).

    It is not a nail in the coffin, but it should turn some heads among the climate science community and they should ask “are we wrong about this?”

    But that is something they NEVER seem to do. Ask that question.

  144. Aren’t you glad he’s not a member of our judicial system?

    He’d be arguing for the sentencing of anyone arrested, on “ethical” grounds.

  145. His rather bizarre form of logic has the marks of a disorder in it. As for the scientific content, it was very poorly presented.

  146. He’s nuts.

    A rich fellow called Rock left some money to Penn State, so they have two rooms in a building called the Rock Ethics Institute.

    This fellow – he and a secretary are the institute – completely oblivious to reality, tries to create a new age climate religion…

  147. Admittedly I have not read all posts, but enough.

    What hubris! This is, as was stated earlier, the precautionary principle on steroids. This person is an opportunist with amateur and simplistic language. With space and time, virtually every phrase of every sentence could be laid bare for the fallacy within.

    This person earns money from Climate Change grants at a University with a high general reputation.

    But, in reality, this person is degrading the standard of science, for the intent of increasing climate change “research” funding for the University, at the risk of degrading the overall reputation of the University. When will the boards of these institutions wise up, that this is a short term gig and they better prepare for the future?

    Its the University that will suffer, but right now they are growing fat and they like it.

  148. To quote from the above essay:
    ‘And so, if a warming world produces less wind sheer, tornado intensity and frequency may actually decrease as the world experiences other increased weather caused damages.’
    There are few tornadoes in summer ie when it is warmer. So if the climate gets warmer due to AGW, there should be less tornadoes (or they start and finish earlier in Spring and later in Autumn. Is that correct?
    So what’s the point of ‘doing anything’. We’ll have tornadoes regardless of the climate (as we did in 1925).

  149. So,

    I’ve read over these responses again. I have to believe that the originator has won some idiolotry based medals.

    Perhaps that is so, but what is equally clear is that this post is so irrelevant that it should not ever be considered for continued funding by its sources. Hiding behind a cloak of “ethics” when ethics were so blatantly ignored in the post is a joke of immense proportions.

    The Poster believes that the Precautionary Principle should prevail, when every public based institution says that it is a reach too far because of its costs and other inconsistencies with current relevant thought. Nice try. Please resubmit your million dollars+ research proposal.

  150. Just posted the following on the Ethics site;
    There is nothing ethical about the way ‘scientists’ have gone about denier-bashing. There is nothing ethical about 52 ‘scientists’ claiming worldwide consenus. There is nothing ethical about claiming that weather events of the past few years are worse than any previous events. There is nothing ethical about claiming continued warming when even Prof Jones admits no significant warming since 1998. There is nothing ethical about eliminating past warming periods or past rates of warming to show that the present is warmer than it has ever been or at least warming faster than it has ever been. There is nothing ethical about scaring the pants of a whole generation (perhaps more than one?) by preaching the unproven as catastrophic fact. There is nothing ethical about claiming correlation (even if it existed) as causation. There is nothing ethical about publishing ‘scientific’ research without it ever being tested. There is nothing ethical about using crops for fuel when the world’s poor people need the produce as food. There is nothing ethical about peer review within a cabal of politically motivated taxpayer funded academics. In short, ethics and current climate ‘research’ are poles apart and never the twain will meet.

  151. Ah, this guy is a lawyer! That pretty much explains everything, including his fuzzy logic. He is not arguing science or ethics. He is an ADVOCATE. Of a false, short-sighted, and dubious set of propositions.

    When they start using lawyers to defend themselves on the tornado question, you know the warmistas are in trouble.

    And I can lawyer-bash; I am one myself. I know how this works.

  152. Funny thing, but when I was a student ethice required telling the truth. There are so many stinky Brown lumps of falsehood in this pile of steaming BS that I’m surprised someone with a professorship dare put his name to it (or more accurately, would be surprised, were it not about that grand delusion de nos jours “climate change”).

  153. Penn state certainly seems to have the monopoly on spouting of BS.Mann and now Brown.sounds like a comedy double act… oh wait a minute!

    Should also be noted that as we enter the Hurricane season we should expect more drivel from the same suspects,then come mid summer and the sea ice levels takes a drop we will see the same nashing and wailing again from the same people. And come winter when a severe cold blast hits some where, up they will pop again and link AGW….Anyone see a trend here.

  154. Imagine yourself as a young student in your first semester having to sit through this kind of lecture. You go to uni in pursuit of understanding, which you earnestly believe will be predicated on logic and evidence, and suddenly you’re confronted by this kind of “thinking”!
    The brightest students will see the logical and ethical flaws and be sickened. The less intelligent will be confused, start to doubt themselves and either simply begin to memorise what they read and hear or give it all up . . . And it looks to me as if this disease is spreading. The future of science is under threat. The French post modernist philosophers put the boot in first, the new post modern scientists are tainting science with policy, and stage by stage good science gets marginalised. When good men do nothing . . . . .

  155. Is it ethical that the head of the IPCC should currently be the scientific advisor to a risidual oil extraction technology company while raising alarm about fossil fuel caused global warming? I am talking about Dr. Pachauri and Glorioil.

    References:

    http://www.glorioil.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7&Itemid=10

    http://www.glorioil.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5&Itemid=8

    http://www.glorioil.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4&Itemid=7

  156. A Nigerian was interviewed a few days ago by the BBC and asked what the forthcoming elections could give him. He wanted’ Power’. The interviewer asked ‘Political power?’ ‘No’ he replied, ‘Electric power’.

    So to me the real ethical debate would be how quickly we can help the third world get the electricity they need to develop. It will not be by renewables I can tell you but fossil fueled power stations.

  157. You can’t make this [snip] up!

    Glorioil
    “The interaction of the customized microbes and nutrients generates metabolites that include: Surfactants, Polymers, Emulsifiers, Solvents, Acids and CO2. Glori Oil can design the treatment and pulsing protocol to emphasize independent or multiple metabolite generation at any given stage in the flood.”
    Dr. R.K. Pachauri
    Founder and Science Advisor

  158. There’s one in every country. A self-important career-academic specialising in ethics who has a far bigger opinion of themselves than anybody else does and who unequivocally believes they are an authority on all things globalwarmingclimatechangeclimatedisruption, and dismisses people who have differing views to them as inferior beings. In Australia he is known by the name of Clive Hamilton.

  159. Haha!

    Trying to take the moral high ground on a failing religion based on pseudo-”science” is a last gasp attempt at covering up the lack of EVIDENCE.

    It is well known now that man contributes CO2 to the atmosphere, has little influence over the amounts of CO2, CO2 itself has little influence on temperature and in fact lags behind, and in any case CO2 is beneficial for the environment.

    The data manipulation by the self-peer-reviewing warmists to get the results to support their worldview is like sqeezing toothpaste from a tube. Well guess what chumps: your days for free whitening pretty-paste refills are soon to expire as the the tar shines through!

  160. Jimbo,

    Don’t you see? The ‘work’ (spin, lies) the IPCC spew all serve to increase the price of fossil fuels on the earth (hiked up by a bad-for-AGW-premium if you will), making it more profitable to extract such fuels.
    In the meantime to supplement the income, all the ‘green’ technologies which should use less stuff and less costly to maintain are also priced at extortionate rates because we pay a holier-than-thou premium.

    The intentions are all about money (funding, profit, personal wealth) and not about the environment. Look at solar panels for example – they buck the product lifecycle trend, been around ages but unlike other technologies haven’t got cheaper and more developed over time.

  161. I left a comment last night on his blog… and funny… it didn’t make it to publication. I first suggested, following PJ O’Rourke, that he might want to take a basic physics course to learn some thermodynamics. I suspect that is why the comment didn’t make it. As others have pointed out, I went on to inform him of how thunderstorms are really heat engines and that temperature differences drive intensity. Combine that with a moving cold air mass colliding with a warm moist air mass on a rotating planet, and it’s not surprising we get tornadoes. A warmer planet decreases the delta T, and I would assume those large contrast cold fronts hitting the warm air in the great plains (and also the Northeast!) would decrease.

  162. One of the reasons I spend time here at WUWT is, I learn things, and sometimes, like with this post, I learn things I would rather not know.
    Fortunately, there was an upside in the comments:
    Robert of Ottawa: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/06/01/climate-craziness-of-the-week-ethics-requires-linking-tornadoes-to-climate-change/#comment-672047

    Thank you for making something I always found rather opaque, become crystal clear. I will no longer have to hold my breath when I see a butterfly flap it’s wings :-)

  163. It seems most of the comments at that site have vanished, however he is somewhat engaging critics. I think his assertions are ridiculous because there is no reason in the AGW hypothesis that storm frequency or intensity should increase. Perhaps drought should decrease, maybe, but, the proposed mechanism for the whole warming, starting with most of the warming occurring at the poles, would tend to produce the opposite result of what he is claiming. I am surprised no one is calling him on that. Perhaps someone did and those comments were removed.

  164. “That is although strong tornadoes have occurred before recent human-induced climate change, no recent tornado is likely to have happened in the same way at the same place in the absence of global warming.”

    He’s basically covering his ass with the butterfly effect. If my dog passes wind in Texas no subsequent tornado, no matter how distant in time and space, is likely to be exactly the same as it would be without the dog fart. This is how the butterfly effect works. The problem of course is that the system is far too complex to predict. The methane in the dog fart is just as likely to reduce the intensity of a tornado or steer it clear of a populated area as it to make it more intense or move over a populated area.

    The author is very well aware of this and his whole stupid article amounts to no more than hand-waving hysterics.

  165. The really asinine bit of this author’s rambling is a complete misunderstanding of what generates a “dry line” associated with the largest, most severe storm fronts. Violent thunderstorms, even tornadic, can spring up in isolation just from daytime heating. We get those all the time here in Texas like most other places. The massive storm fronts however are caused by large masses of cold air meeting large masses of warm air. The violent weather occurs at the meeting point. Here in Texas we know of that too because, as the saying goes, there ain’t nothing but barbed wire fences between the Gulf Coast and the Arctic circle. Cold air masses from the arctic meet warm air from the gulf somewhere in what’s known as “tornado alley”. Near Austin, TX I’m on the southernmost end of the alley while the other end is in North Dakota.

    http://www.tornadochaser.net/tornalley.html

    The point of this is that global warming works to reduce the violence of these cold/warm air mass clashes. Global warming you see, isn’t equally distrubuted across the globe. There’s more warming in the higher latitudes and less in the lower latitudes. Thus the temperature difference between tropics and arctic is reduced. A thunderstorm is work (physics definition) being performed. The amount of work that can be performed depends on the difference in entropy across a boundary. For our purposes the difference in entropy is the difference in temperature across the boundary between warm and cold air mass. The greater the difference the more work can be performed. Global warming absolutely, without question, reduces those temperature differentials because of the uneven way the warming is distributed between higher and lower latitudes.

    This author should have kept his stupid trap shut. He could have remained silent and just gave the appearance of being a science illiterate but instead of opened his mouth and removed all doubt.

  166. Are there any sort of ethical expectations for professors at PSU? Is there an ethics board? If so, he should be reported and censured. I am just amazed that he actually published this. It explains so much about the AGW crowd. It might be interesting to know how many people in the AGW crowd are already following this justification for lying.

  167. “As the Earth warms, more water continues to be transported into the atmosphere under the forces of evapotranspiration. The global water cycle is believed to be at least 4% wetter from recent warming. As a rule of thumb, every 1 degree F in temperature will result in 4% more water in the air.

    Basic physics predicts that increased warming and atmospheric water content will lead to increased droughts, floods, and intense storms. More droughts will be experienced despite more water in the atmosphere because the atmosphere will become more turbulent creating a propensity to discharge the water in stronger storms.”

    Piffle! More warming occurs in higher latitudes than lower. Thus the increase in water vapor content mostly occurs in higher latitudes. This reduces the potential energy difference between high latitude air masses meeting low latitude air masses. The largest most violent storm fronts are created by cold dry air from high latitudes meeting warm moist air masses from southern latitudes. Reduce the difference in either temperature or moisture content between the air masses and less violence occurs at the boundary. Global warming unequivocally reduces both temperature and moisture differential at the boundary because of the uneven distribution of the warming – more in higher latitudes and less in lower latitudes.

    The high tornadic activity is more aptly associated with the recent cessation of a 60-year long solar maximum. Whether we are entering a prolonged solar minimum is anyone’s guess but if we are and Svensmark’s theory holds true we should be seeing some global cooling real soon now. The global cooling will spawn more severe weather events as the higher latitudes will cool more than the lower which creates a greater potential energy difference when tropic air masses meet up with arctic air masses.

    Climate “disruption” is likely to some degree as the change in temperature diffential between high and low latitudes will tend to shift the average meeting point of the cold/warm air masses. In this case the temperate latitudes are seeing more tornadic activity than usual while sub-tropical latitudes (like where I’m at) are seeing far fewer than normal. I’d love to see something like the ACE index for supercells as I suspect the total energy across all regions is actually lower because of an extreme dearth of them in other regions. The pattern changed, in other words, which can be reasonably called “climate disruption” but the patterns don’t appear to be anything different than what’s happened in the past absent human influence. The weather patterns in North America today seem to be the same as it was in 1950 which, not coincidentally in my opinion, is when the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation was at the same point in its cycle as it is today. History appears to be repeating itself and human industry hasn’t effected it. Recent “global warming” is almost if not entirely a natural event that would have happened with or without human influence.

  168. RE: Gary Kerkin says:
    June 1, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    So, El Niño and La Niña events will become more extreme? Didn’t Hansen predict (’97 or ’98) that because of global warming we would never again encounter a La Niña event?

    ============================

    Dakota James predicted it back in ’83 – “Greenhouse: It WILL happen in 1997!”

    James’ predictions for 1997 (which was arguable a very warm year by Holocene standards):
    - Lake Michigan completely evaporated
    - Holiday resorts in Antarctica
    - New horse racing tracks developed along the shores of the Arctic
    - People having to wear only underwear in California
    - A global ban on air conditioning (since it heats the outside air)
    - Billions dead

    Now by extension, here in 2011 we’d be living in something like Dune.

    OK, now back to reality … another big cold wedge into North America yesterday, watch out back east, again! More ‘nados on the way for sure. What a trip, other than expected summer type stickiness in our Continential Subtropical climate zones, March / April weather in June for the rest of the continent.

  169. I couldn’t get past this line:

    “We know with high levels of confidence that the Earth is warming and that most of the warming is attributable to human activities despite the natural variability of thee Earth’s climate.”

    Where did he garner this information? I’ve not seen proven anywhere. Once I read that, I couldn’t continue reading the faulty logic of the article.

  170. Dave Springer says:
    June 2, 2011 at 8:44 am

    Piffle! More warming occurs in higher latitudes than lower. Thus the increase in water vapor content mostly occurs in higher latitudes. This reduces the potential energy difference between high latitude air masses meeting low latitude air masses. The largest most violent storm fronts are created by cold dry air from high latitudes meeting warm moist air masses from southern latitudes. Reduce the difference in either temperature or moisture content between the air masses and less violence occurs at the boundary. Global warming unequivocally reduces both temperature and moisture differential at the boundary because of the uneven distribution of the warming – more in higher latitudes and less in lower latitudes.

    ____________________________________________________

    I’m going out on a big limb here and I haven’t convinced myself of this yet, but:

    Going back to big black box macro-scale thermodynamics…as you add heat to a system the entropy increases…i.e. the system becomes more well-mixed. That means less temperature, humidity, etc. variability and hence less violent weather. A warming earth should produce less violent weather.

    Oversimplistic? Maybe, but think of all the designs of perpetual motion machines with elaborately detailed mechanisms (except for the one that they forgot about that blows up the whole principle of operation).

  171. Andrew Kerber says:
    June 2, 2011 at 8:19 am

    If you want the real “ethics guru” for the Left, which includes AGW, the man you want is Peter Singer at Princeton. I think it was forty years ago that he published the argument that each of us has the same duty to all other humans that we have to our family members. Yes, he’s serious. The example that I use in class is that I refuse my son his request for new track shoes because someone in Somalia needs them as badly as he does. No, I am not serious; rather, I am beginning a critique. But Singer’s views are gospel on the Left and are discussed in just about every ethics class in this country. Have you noticed that all these AGW folk take for granted that each and every one of us has duties to all of mankind; that is, they take it for granted when they bother to argue at all. The Left believes that the people crossing the Mexican border illegally have the right to do so. That includes Kagan and Sotomayor. They really do believe that, but do not question their patriotism.

  172. OK,

    What about the hot air contributed by the inane bloviating of pseudo scientists like this?

  173. My post on the good prof’s blog didn’t get published. Am I surprised? Nah, it is the way the warmist blogs work, isn’t it? All I did was point out some of the unethical practices of the warmist camp!

  174. It is time to stop referring to “climate scientists” as “scientists”! A review of present curricula for “climate scientists, pre- and post-graduate levels, at many supposed elite universities would shock most intelligent people.

  175. BTW, I commented on his blog but the cowardly Mr. Brown must have learned from Gavin and Tamino at RC to only post the comments that support his position.

  176. For a blunt expose see Luboš Motl
    Does ethics require us to believe in tornado witches?

    . . .It’s being repeated that even though we are not “certain” that tornadoes are caused by CO2, it is unethical not to “acknowledge” that the relationship exists. Wow.

    What I find unethical is to say untrue things even if one knows that they’re untrue – that’s what Mr Donald Brown has explicitly confessed to be doing and the people who are doing so are called “liars”. Mr Brown is not just a liar; he is a liar who is stealing lots of U.S. dollars from the U.S. taxpayer by saying these things that, as he knows, are lies. . . .
    “To fully understand this it is helpful to understand why climate change is essentially an ethical problem.”
    More precisely, it is a problem invented, fabricated, and aggressively promoted by ideologically driven irrational zealots and their companion who believe that they can make profit out of this movement. But it’s true that the “climate change problem” has nothing to do with science. . . .

    “(b) The harms to those at risk could be catastrophic,”
    Except that we know that it will not be catastrophic, and it’s highly questionable whether it will be measurable amid the contributions of other drivers – that may be confusingly classified as “noise” – at all. . . .

    “. . .it is not ethically acceptable to assert there is no link because such a claim implies that there is no scientifically valid basis for concern or risk.”
    It is an ethical duty for every scientist to loudly and clearly say that there is no link between the CO2 and the tornadoes because all the available scientific evidence shows that there is no link and it is an ethical duty for any scientist to use and say things that are dictated by the actual scientific evidence. . . .

    “. . .but science alone cannot tell society what it should do about various threats. ”
    Right. That’s why it shouldn’t be doing so. That’s why the IPCC or any other would-be scientific body should never try to do politics. . . .
    He has just repeated that he wants the ethical outcome to be XY but he has presented no evidence and no link with conventional definition of ethics whatsoever, except for the evidence that was relying on junk science as well so it can’t be viewed as an ethical dimension of the problem. . . .
    There is no tornado-CO2 link whether you ask because or X or because of Y. Or because of anything else. . . .
    Again, it’s a lie – warming, even if it were occurring, wouldn’t make some qualitatively impossible things suddenly possible – so it is unethical to say such things and it is even more unethical to agree with being paid a salary for spreading these lies.

  177. As with any religion, scientific evidence is unnecessary. Faith and the ethics dictated by the self-annointed leaders are all that is required.

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