Gavin Schmidt talk at URI

WUWT reader Gary writes in with this:

Gavin Schmidt gave a lecture at my University yesterday and I thought you might like to see it. He starts at 21 minutes into the clip. The Metcalf Institute seeks to communicate science to the public.

It was a pedestrian talk for an educated public audience and used cherry-picked supporting data, but actually was fair about *some* of the weaknesses in the GCMs.

FWIW, Schmidt was rather charming and not at all like Micheal Mann with condescending slaps at critics or smugly misleading points like Naomi Oreskes, both of whom I’ve heard in person.

See it at http://www.metcalfinstitute.org/programs/lectures.htm (click the link “What are climate models good for?”)

(Note to readers: the link http://amms.oshean.org/content/uri/nbc-ci/metcalf060412/ brings up the video, which is rendered in Microsoft “Silverlight” which you have to download, but is a PITA. Any reader that can convert that to YouTube will have my thanks – Anthony)

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36 thoughts on “Gavin Schmidt talk at URI

  1. At about 22:30 I think he says that climate models are almost never mentioned in the media. It seems to me they are almost always mentioned, as if they somehow give credibility to wild projections.

  2. Schmidt is one of the more likeable characters on the other side. Not sure how much that means but still.

  3. If he’s truly honest he’d repudiate the super-alarmist ‘projections’ of 2-5 deg C by 2100, with at least a meter of sea level rise.

    He’d acknowledge that
    – there has been no measurable change, since satellites started observing, in Earth’s IR-emission spectrum, rising CO2 notwithstanding,
    – that neither sea level nor Greenland glaciers are accelerating,
    – that most of the temperature stations in this country are wrongly cited,
    – that the Team’s temperature adjustments are bogus, and
    – that giga-dollar climate models are far too simplified to use for prediction.

    He’d acknowledge that
    rising CO2 is causing deserts to shrink and global vegetation to increase,
    – that land-albedo and black soot are far more potent ‘forcings’ than CO2, and
    – that current climatic fluctuations are entirely within historic norms.

    He’d acknowledge the billions squandered on the Green follies of ethanol and windmills, the Green scourges of food and fuel poverty,
    and finally join us.

    Good luck with that.

  4. I’ve debated with Gavin a couple of times at RC. While we didn’t agree on the reliability of climate model projections (specifically related to Greenland Ice Sheet melting), I do have a great deal of respect for him. He’s very well read on the current state of climate science, he sticks to facts and cites research to support his arguments, he acknowledges weaknesses and gaps in understanding, and is generally polite and civil.

    Decent bloke.

  5. Durr says:
    June 5, 2012 at 8:23 am

    Schmidt is one of the more likeable characters on the other side. Not sure how much that means but still.
    Durr.
    Most Ponzi schemes are lead by the most charming, persuasive people, that have the ability and Gaul to sell ice to an Eskimo. Some like Micheal Mann have adapted a more Jack booted method.
    History is full of both kinds of people and body’s, the results are all ways an unmitigated disaster for the ordinary people ,economy’s and nations. Witness the reckless goings on Europe and the USA amongst others. Climate issues are just one of the many gigantic scams. Which one of these many crime/crooked/ripoff laden issues will break the Camels back?
    I think the readership here at WUWT have a better Idea than most of just how dangerous a time we are in, the dam is about to break unless a genuine leader/fixer can come along and start the ball rolling. I think that Energy like Nat gas, Clean coal and Oil could turn the USA around in short order if allowed and have a sobering effect on the lemming effect taking place in the rest of the world!

  6. Yes, but it should be recalled that wrt Climategate he has a somewhat ever-changing story. And there’s certain substantiating data (that would make an amazing hockey-stick if it existed) that – for some reason, perhaps best known only to himself – to the best of my knowledge he has never presented.

  7. Steven Mosher says:
    June 5, 2012 at 8:39 am

    If you need surgery, do you wish your surgeon to be likeable, or competent?

  8. With modern technology there is no need to turn your back on your audience, hold a long pole, and point at a projected image**. Even a mathematician can learn the basics of public presentations.

    ——–
    **A hanging screen, when touched by the stick, can sway for many seconds just as your audience is trying to see the detail you just pointed out. Combined with complex charts and/or small print – such presentations are sure to infuriate those in the back few rows of the lecture room. Years ago a person combined all the distracting aspects into one talk just to show the rest of us how not to do things. Maybe Gavin was there and misinterpreted the activity. [One can either learn to be a better presenter or pass out full-color copies of all the charts.]

  9. John F Hultquist – the laser pointer was too weak and the pointer was at hand. Not the fault of the speaker.

  10. Babsy says:
    June 5, 2012 at 9:19 am (Edit)

    Steven Mosher says:
    June 5, 2012 at 8:39 am

    If you need surgery, do you wish your surgeon to be likeable, or competent?

    false choice.

    Gavin is both.

    Rhetorical questions rarely are an effective way to make a point.

  11. I’ve seen both sides of Gavin, at one point in a discussion where I had expressed my doubts over the climate being chaotic he actually responded to a criticism with basically it’s still an open question among climate scientists. I thought that was pretty gracious.

    On the other hand he seems to wield moderation power to stifle any serious criticisms of “The Cause” and to protect some of the favored posters. Just read through the BoreHole sometime.

    For example, Ray Ladbury goes into a rant about how we’re all so stupid for not listening to the experts and finishes up with it’s a war over whether we’ll realize the need to perceive reality accurately:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/05/real-video/comment-page-2/#comment-236631

    Comment #70: Ray Ladbury says:

    “Let me be clear. This is not simply a war about climate science–nor about evolution or vaccinations. This is a war about whether humans will realize the need to perceive reality accurately.”

    Comment # 71: John West says:

    “Reality according to who? Experts? Physicists?”
    “Heavier than air flying machines are impossible.”
    – Lord Kelvin, 1895.

    [Response: Kelvin undoubtedly had more faith in his opinions than was warranted by actual evidence, but the quote you use is unsourced (as far as I can tell). He did have a lot to say about the difficulty of aerial navigation, but he was aware at least by 1902 that heavier-than-air flight was possible. on the larger point, we have stressed numerous times that opinions of indivuals ate no where near as important as assessments for guiding policy – precisely for the reason you allude to. – gavin]

    Comment # 75: Ray Ladbury says:

    “John West, the fact that you seem to think that reality is subjective speaks volumes. Good luck with that. Let us know if you want to refult the laws of graviation and we’ll film it for Fail Blog.”

    My reply is boreholed: #925

    http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=6013

    Your apparent lack of understanding that reality changes as technology changes and our perception of reality changes as our understanding changes also speaks volumes.
    Example 1)
    Reality in 1800: It takes months to go from NY to LA.
    Reality in 2000: It takes hours to go from NY to LA.
    Example 2)
    Perception of reality in 1900: Time is constant.
    Perception of reality in 2000: Time is relative.
    Comment by John West — 1 Jun 2012 @ 12:32 PM

    How is it that the dynamic nature of reality is not “sensible conversation” suddenly just as I’m replying to Ray with specific examples of changes in both reality and scientific perception (including any “assessments” had any been done to Gavin’s point) of reality instead of when Ray accuses me of being some sort of reality or science denier?

    Could it be that dangerous to admit there are shades of grey, that scientific reality is not static? Oh yea, that might mean sensitivity isn’t 3 degrees Celsius, that sea level rise isn’t going to suddenly take Manhattan, that just maybe we’re not doomed, or maybe even that CO2 isn’t pollution.

    Or is it just that he protects his buddy Ray (possibly the most pessimistic person on Earth)?

    Or am I way off base and deserved to be boreholed?

    Why couldn’t scientific perception of reality in 2015 be that natural climate forces dominate over anthropogenic influence? Has any event, natural law, or recently discovered evidence precluded this from possible? I don’t think so.

    Using Gavin’s own words: I think history will remember him as one who “undoubtedly had more faith in his opinions than was warranted by actual evidence”.

    Personally, I’m not sure RC is any more reliable than SkS.

  12. Steven Mosher says:
    June 5, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Surgeons are licensed by the state in which they practice. If a patient complains, the complaint is investigated and the surgeon may face disciplinary action. Schmidt is subject to no such licensing. He can say or publish whatever he wants with impunity other than the remote possibility of losing his funding. A good coat of paint hides a multitude of sins.

  13. Re: Chris B

    At about 22:30 I think he says that climate models are almost never mentioned in the media.

    A google search finds 1340 occurrences of the exact phrase “climate model” on the BBC web site.
    He is right. The media hardly mentions climate models at all. Mind you, I think the BBC is more of a propaganda site than a media site

  14. atheok says:
    June 5, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Actions speak louder than words. Judge him by his actions.
    __________________________________
    AMEN! The nastiest murderer/conman/drug dealer/thief I knew was quite a charming person and very good at setting you up to steal you blind. And yes SHE was all of the above.

  15. John West says:
    June 5, 2012 at 10:30 am
    ========================================================

    just an aside about Real Climate (which I don’t bother to look at with any frequency due to its biased heavy-handed moderation), I was surprised to see Jim Bouldin (one of the dozen or so on the RC team) say on Climate Audit recently that any of that group can “borehole” a comment, i.e., they all have moderation powers. So it was not necessarily Gavin’s call to borehole your (very reasonable and factual) response, it could have been Ray or any of that Team.

    Doesn’t lessen Gavin’s overall responsibility for accepting the type of heavy moderation that goes on there, but does suggest that he does not make every call. In fact I would not be surprised (but don’t know ofc) if a couple members of that Team, especially one with initials MM, were the worst offenders in implementing a biased moderation practice there. Why allow a challenge to exist if you can just bleep it (is the way some minds work).

    Gavin has impressed me as an almost reasonable person although at times quite snarky. He’s a better human than Michael Mann by a long shot, at least if public comments are any indication.

  16. John West says:”For example, Ray Ladbury goes into a rant about how we’re all so stupid for not listening to the experts and finishes up with it’s a war over whether we’ll realize the need to perceive reality accurately”

    It is certainly true that individuals would be best served perceiving the world as it actually is and how it actually works, rather than how they might wish that it would work. However, different situations imply different costs to having the wrong perception. I tend to think that people being wrong about evolution is unfortunate, but not really harmful (if anyone can show me a person’s life noticeably diminish from what it could be because he held views that I agree are wrong on evolution, I welcome it). People having the wrong perception of vaccines is indeed harmful. But the wrong perception about climate? Well, what perception is correct? Ladbury evidently believes that the unquestionable, objective reality of the situation is the climate alarmist line. I would argue that as far as the physical behavior of the climate, “lukewarmers” are probably largely correct, not alarmists. But, does believing the wrong thing about how sensitive the climate is cause significant harm? Well, Ladbury evidently thinks it does, based on the premise that people generally percieve climate change as less of a threat than it is “known objectively” to be, and thus will make the “wrong” decision and not react appropriately. Aside from the fact that we don’t objectively know the size of any threat, or even that it is non-zero (a different question from the sensitivity being non-zero!) whether we make the right decision what to do depends merely on whether our perception implies the same course of action as that implied by correctly weighing the costs and benefits of any particular measures to address the problem.

    More over, I see rampant denial of objective reality on the alarmist side: realities about economics, politics, and yes even science (constant claims that things like tornadoes are linked to AGW that are demonstrably not, etc) so to suggest that those favoring “doing something” have a monopoly on the grip on reality is laughable.

    Sorry, my inner Randian took extreme umbrage at the suggestion that my beliefs are subjectivist in any way.

    Depending on how self aware mister Ladbury is, I have a question for him:

    Who is John Galt?

  17. Do they have two Gavins? The realclimate Gavin is known to censor comments he doesn’t like and lecture skeptics about the fact that GCM’s work from “first principles” and are “pyhsics-based”. As if the ATTEMPT to do that somehow, magically gives them predictive skill.

    Or is he starting to feel embarassed about the ongoing temperature forgeries GISS commits. He’s a NICE guy? Oh, a NICE fr*ud, now that’s an entirely different thing, then.

  18. I have had some run ins with Gavin over at RealClimate. I have been terminated or edited without reason by Gavin. There was a slight slackening of moderation a few years ago and I managed a long dialog with Gavin. When I objected to his editing my comment (whilst cross-posting same at bishophill to show what I actually said) he did reinstate. By remaining firm and polite he continued to respond to my points. But he then later terminated the dialogue when I quoted back to him something he had said earlier in the debate next to something he said in his last reply. The juxtaposition of his two comments were clearly a contradiction. He didn’t like that and the exchange was terminated.

    I think Gavin is very smart and has a remarkable ability to throw out references to try and divert attention from undesirable comment (as opposed to just censoring them which he probably realised was historically a huge misjudgement on the part of RC). Many of the references are red herrings to pretend the point is refuted, by the time the contributor has checked, the point is lost.

    I think he is very smart and he has posted corrections where his results have been incorrect. That commands respect. Contrast that with Mann who to the best of my knowledge must approaching the scientific equivalent of sainthood as he never admitted any error.

    As a web persona, I don’t like Gavin but I respect his abilities and intelligence. In person, well it would be interesting to debate him in a pub where there can be no censoring or distraction through irrelevent references. I’d buy the first round.

  19. John West says:
    June 5, 2012 at 10:30 am
    “Comment #70: Ray Ladbury says:

    “Let me be clear. This is not simply a war about climate science–nor about evolution or vaccinations. This is a war about whether humans will realize the need to perceive reality accurately.” ”

    That comment by Ladbury is actually quite correct. Only that Ladbury thinks that his models are reality.

  20. Thinking Scientist wrote:

    “I think Gavin is very smart and has a remarkable ability to throw out references to try and divert attention from undesirable comments…Many of the references are red herrings to pretend the point is refuted, by the time the contributor has checked, the point is lost.”

    Thanks, I was going to make exactly the same point. If the “voice of God” says there is a paper that makes your comment look silly and amateurish, everyone on the thread takes that as fact. Then you go to the paper (if it is not paywalled!) and start scratching your head as to how it refutes your comment. These sort of slapdash slap-downs don’t fit with the nice guy described above. Coupled with his downright vicious responses to most critical comments, I still need some convincing. As to Mosh’s point about person vs. pixel…well maybe he only tells you what he really thinks of you on RC!

  21. Many of the references are red herrings to pretend the point is refuted, by the time the contributor has checked, the point is lost.

    That was the reason I gave up on Real Climate. I got tired of checking references to see if they supported the point being made, after finding on several occasions the references given didn’t support the point.

    A pity really, because there is some interesting stuff there, but it is too wearing, to be constantly on the look out for deliberate deception.

  22. Given that RC has a very different mandate to WUWT, I feel the Gavin comes across as the most reasonable of the team. He once mis-read one of my postings and came out with a stream of invective. He then realised he was wrong and apologised. Would that other members of the team were as open.

  23. Ron, open to what? Censoring comments at will? Gavin admins the site, he is the one who designed it and he does the moderating. Did everyone here defending the indefensible censorship tactics at Real Climate just come into this debate yesterday? RC so notorious for it, websites have been set up just for this reason,

    http://rcrejects.wordpress.com/

  24. “He once mis-read one of my postings and came out with a stream of invective. He then realised he was wrong and apologised. ”

    That must qualify as the benchmark for the expressionn : “Damned with faint praise”!

  25. Steven Mosher:
    “If you need surgery, do you wish your surgeon to be likeable, or competent?”

    This is a false analogy. Would you pick a clearly insane surgeon who kills most of his patients? In medicine, as mad as it is, there is recourse and the drunks, addicts and incompetents are gradually weeded out. In climate science (which is an oxymoron), the wrong-headed manipulators are raised on a pedestal and worshiped by the doomsayers.

  26. ok I must admit that I’m still too new to the blog climate wars to have any comprehensive views of anything, but reviewing these threads linked below definitely lowers my opinion of Gavin Schmidt considerably (I highly recommend these two threads to anyone, like me, still trying to get an overview of what has gone on with Mannian “science”):

    Gavin embarrasses himself attacking Judith Curry

    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2010/7/22/tamino-on-the-hockey-stick-illusion.html“>BH thread on Real Climate thread re: The Hockey Stick Illusion

    I still think he seems like a welcome contrast to Michael Mann, in that one can at least attempt a rational discussion with him. However, he does not read/listen well and is simply pushing his own preconceived perspective. More propaganda than science, I’d say.

  27. TerryS says:
    June 5, 2012 at 11:13 am
    Re: Chris B

    At about 22:30 I think he says that climate models are almost never mentioned in the media.

    A google search finds 1340 occurrences of the exact phrase “climate model” on the BBC web site.
    __________________

    I wonder how many occurrences of “empirical evidence”a google search of the BBC web site would return?

  28. Ken Coffman says:
    June 6, 2012 at 6:02 am

    Mosher didn’t write that. I did. I’m in the healthcare business and I’ve seen plenty that were long on personality and short on skill. I cannot imagine it’s not the same in the other professions.

  29. Apparently some really do not understand the depth to the censorship that has gone on and continues to go on at RealClimate.org,

    http://climateaudit.org/2005/10/02/389/

    http://climateaudit.org/2005/10/29/is-gavin-schmidt-honest/

    http://cstpr.colorado.edu/prometheus/archives/climate_change/001180a_little_testy_at_re.html

    http://yourvoicematters.org/cru/mail/1139521913.txt

    “I wanted you guys to know that you’re free to use RC in any way you think would be helpful. Gavin and I are going to be careful about what comments we screen through, …We can hold comments up in the queue and contact you about whether or not you think they should be screened through or not, and if so, any comments you’d like us to include.

    Think of RC as a resource that is at your disposal… We’ll use our best discretion to make sure the skeptics don’t get to use the RC comments as a megaphone.”

    – Michael E. Mann

  30. Anybody who says Gavin is nice needs to go and read the RC posts on the Gergis et. al paper. Look at comments 36 and 37 to see what kind of a cheap unethical person that guy is. Mosher has no clue on how to judge people.

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