Lewandowsky says we must fear uncertainty, and act on it, because, science

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Photo: Martin Koser of Denmark

Photo: Martin Koser of Denmark

Stephan Lewandowsky (of retracted Recursive Fury fame ) has just released a paper supporting the “precautionary principle” (h/t JoNova). According to Lewandowsky, the more uncertain you are about risk, the more you should spend to contain the risk.

Lewandowsky of course applies this principle to climate sensitivity – he suggests uncertainty increases the high end risk.

But now that Lewandosky has opened our eyes, let’s try applying his principle to other issues.

Witch burning. Just as there has never been a clear anthropogenic climate signal, so there has never been a clear demonstration of supernatural power. Yet can we be absolutely certain? Lewandowsky teaches us that the less you know about something, the more worried you should be. So for the sake of the children, we had better dust off those old witch finding books.

Flying saucers. There has never been a verified case of human contact with aliens. But there have been plenty of anecdotal accounts of alien encounters, many of which sound rather unpleasant. Lewandowsky teaches us that uncertainty is risk – can we be absolutely certain Earth is not being observed by malevolent alien beings? Better step up efforts to keep us all safe from the unknown.

I’m sure readers can think of other examples – chemtrails, rains of frogs, strange wart like pimples… it’s a long list.

Thank you Lewandowsky, for opening our eyes to what is really important.

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248 Responses to Lewandowsky says we must fear uncertainty, and act on it, because, science

  1. davideisenstadt says:

    spontaneous human combustion

  2. Chris B says:

    What about the uncertainty around an unprecedented Sharknado attack.

  3. pochas says:

    “According to Lewandowsky, the more uncertain you are about risk, the more you should spend to contain the risk.”

    The Aztec insurance policy.

  4. Pamela Gray says:

    To be exact we should be wirried about only the anthropogenic portion of atmospheric CO2 which has failed in a head to head match with climate variability at all levels. If this were a prediction of stock market futures no one would take it seriously excet those who wished to lose their shirts. Apparently Obama wishes to lose a country, let alone his shirt.

  5. Pamela Gray says:

    I hate typing on a phone screen.

  6. soarergtl says:

    The Precautionary Principle is surely best stated ‘First, Do No Harm’.

    On that basis, and with the examples of Ethanol pushing up food prices, windfarms costing millions and killing rare birds and bats, Drax creating more pollution by burning wood pellets imported from the USA to the UK instead of coal, 29,000 excess deaths in the UK winter (compared to summer) etc. etc. it is the Greens (you cannot, in all conscience, call them ‘Environmentalists’) who should be observing that principle a little more carefully.

    As usual, Lew has discharged both barrels into his own feet.

  7. “Lewandowsky says we must fear uncertainty, and act on it”

    As aliens have been mentioned, this chap not one of Darth Sidious’ lesser known Padawans by chance?

  8. Ian W says:

    Does the converse hold true?

    You are CERTAIN about a particular risk that will lead to a real life threatening occurrence, therefore spend less on it than something that you only have suspicion about but very little information?

    No I thought not.

    But it does explain why we are repeatedly told to worry about our grandchildren by multimillion dollar grant seeking academics like Lewandowsky, while there is a child dying every 5 seconds from hunger and one dollar could save their lives.

  9. TerryS says:

    If the more uncertain you are about a risk the more you should spend to contain then the opposite must also be true.

    Therefore the more certain you are about a risk the less you should spend to contain it. So once we become certain about climate change risks we can stop spending any money on it.

  10. JohnWho says:

    Uh, it sounds like Lewandowsky is applying the “I’m scared of the dark” principle.

    He’s uncertain about what is out there in the dark so now we should do whatever is possible to prevent night time.

    Oh, and don’t forget those monsters under the bed.

    And the alligators in the sewer.

    :)

  11. john robertson says:

    Impalement by unicorn.
    Suffocation in Lew Paper.

    What a moron, be very very frightened, man the barricades and hide in the bunker cause we do not know what tomorrow will bring.
    The projection by this fellow is most revealing.
    He is a genuine government expert.
    I have no doubt of this observation.
    A classic social parasite.
    Too thick to see his own stupidity, he insists upon imposing his help on all others.
    It is the likes of Lew and his ilk who will overcome the general publics restraint and resistance to rioting.
    Help like this is a precursor to violence.
    As I know of no sane method of driving such loons away from your private space, they are relentless is their stupidity.The 5 laws of human stupidity describe the Lew’s as occupying the lower lefthand quadrant, at the extreme corner.
    More evidence CAGW is an intelligence test.
    One that is revealing our bureaucracies to be in very sorry shape, Filled with fools and bandits..and then there are the Lews.

  12. vuurklip says:

    Beware of werewolves & vampires

  13. JohnWho says:

    Wait, if we must act if we are uncertain, then is the reverse true:

    The more certain one is, the less one must act.

    So, since Lew is certain we are causing “climate change”, he is implying we should do nothing!

    Works for me.

    :)

  14. PaulH says:

    Borg attack and subsequent assimilation. I’ve seen it on TV and it looks pretty scary. We better get ready, or else it’ll be worse than we think…
    /snark

  15. wws says:

    I think Bigfoot snuck into my house and hid my car keys last night.

    I want us to fund an anti-BIgfoot home invasion force, STAT!

  16. dfbaskwill says:

    He must be terrified by Zombies. And cooties. And that thing under his bed. It’s hard not to feel very sorry for him. We take care of our mentally-challenged here in the States.

  17. hunter says:

    It is uncertain if Dr. Lewandowsky is suffering from schizophrenia, so treatment must started, asap.
    First a round of Haldol and Clozaril. And since there is still uncertainty, electroconvulsive therapy is called for. And for good measure, since lobotomy was the scientific consensus for the treatment of mental disorders, and since uncertainty may still persist, a srgeon should be found who is willing to perform this consensus apporved procedure, stat.
    This paper of the Dr. Lewandwosky’s really remarkable. It is an academic version of Captain Queeg’s testimony:

  18. Bernd Palmer says:

    john robertson says:
    April 8, 2014 at 7:17 am
    Suffocation in Lew Paper.
    ======
    Typo? Loo paper!

  19. Brian says:

    Fear the unknown? Yes, let’s prey on society’s most basic fears.

  20. Joe Born says:

    How uncertain are we about whether suppressing CO2 enrichment of the atmosphere will adversely affect crop yields and cause more hunger? Let’s impose a tax on CO2-enrichment suppression.. (Tax time makes me stoop to shooting fish in a barrel.)

  21. I saw this the other day. I thought for sure it was a joke.

  22. Rud Istvan says:

    When this first came to notice, I assumed it was an elaborate April Fools joke. Turns out it was just fools in April.

  23. Scott says:

    Hey that’s the same argument Nick Fury mistakenly had in the latest Captain America movie.

    Hail Hydra.

  24. stewgreen says:

    Funny that ..alarmists shout “you can’t speak you are not a climate scientist !”
    ..and this paper is purely about Lew’s speciality of psychology ? ..or is he excluded lfrom that rule ? (just like geneticist Steve Jones)

  25. Speed says:

    1. This information is so important that we are required to pay $39.95 / €34.95 / £29.95 (plus VAT where applicable) for part one and another $39.95 / €34.95 / £29.95 (plus VAT where applicable) for part two to get the inside scoop.

    2. In the published promotional materials the word “cost” does not appear … as in the cost to avoid/mitigate the looming disaster is projected to be $XX.XX / €YY.YY / £ ZZ.ZZ (plus VAT where applicable). If the cost of buying insurance is great relative to the risk, insurance is not bought.

    3. I await part three where the authors will project the costs of avoidance/mitigation. I’m sure it will cost another $39.95 / €34.95 / £29.95 (plus VAT where applicable).

  26. wws says:

    From Lewandowsky’s page, an obvious piece of illogic right up front:

    “Co-author, Dr James Risbey of Australia’s CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, said: “Some point to uncertainty as a way to minimize the climate change problem, when in fact it means that the problem is more likely to be worse than expected in the absence of that uncertainty. This result is robust to a range of assumptions and shows that uncertainty does not excuse inaction.”

    In terms of logic, the uncertainty makes it just as likely that the problem is likely to be much less than expected in the absence of the uncertainty which is our entire point. But that rather simple thought seems to have never occurred to these geniuses.

    And an entire response paper could be written on the opportunity cost aspects of the situation, another thought that seems to have never occurred to them. Wikipedia actually has a fairly decent explanation of the concept, to quote a single line: “The notion of opportunity cost plays a crucial part in ensuring that scarce resources are used efficiently.”

    Ignoring opportunity cost is only valid if resources are infinite, which means of course it can only be ignored in academia.

  27. richard says:

    oh and how the Holywood than thou elite are acting,

    1st class travel and hotels around the world.

    When the agw scientists run out of make believe scenarios send in the actors to make up.

  28. oldspanky says:

    The so-called “precautionary principle” is just another version of the fallacy better known as Pascal’s Wager. It has no basis in science, philosophy, logic nor even plain common sense. Giving claptrap a spuriously technical-sounding name doesn’t make up for it being claptrap.

  29. Alan Robertson says:

    Lucky me. The sky might fall, but I have a hard hat.

  30. morganovich says:

    what about fear of the precautionary principle? after all, we have no conclusive evidence that it is true, meaning that it, itself, is highly uncertain (pretty much by definition) so should we not also take extreme precautions in applying the precautionary principle?

    of course, one must also take extreme precautions about taking extreme precautions about taking extreme precautions about the uncertainty principle.

    that way madness lies.

  31. pokerguy says:

    Of course Lew’s hypothesis is ludicrous. However, I don’t like the way this post attempts to show it.
    There is after all, solid physics behind the notion that Co2 will warm the climate.The parallels drawn between witchcraft and UFO’s, and something that does in fact have a scientific basis is imvho, off the mark.

    There are an abundance of good, solid arguments against climate change alarmism. We only weaken our position with this kind of stuff, no matter how entertaining.

  32. lokenbr says:

    Pascal’s wager anyone? The parallels between religion and AGW dogma are uncanny.

  33. Jeff Alberts says:

    Just as there has never been a clear anthropogenic climate signal, so there has never been a clear demonstration of supernatural power.

    Correction, there has never been a demonstration of supernatural power, period. There’s been plenty of sleight of hand, and outright flim-flammery, but no supernatural powers at all.

  34. Roy Spencer says:

    the logical absurdity of the Precautionary Principle (PP) is apparently lost on the educated class. As I believe I said in my book Climate Confusion, the PP is doo-doo…flush it and forget it.

  35. philjourdan says:

    The less you know, the more you should fear. That is a giant step backwards into the Medieval days! The burning witches analogy is spot on!

    But then that is what some alarmists have already advocated.

  36. omnologos says:

    The Iraqi War of 2003 was launched on the basis of the Precautionary Principle and it shows.

  37. Wyguy says:

    Pamela Gray says:

    April 8, 2014 at 7:09 am

    I hate typing on a phone screen.
    Oh how I agree.

  38. Frank Cook says:

    I expect that Dr. Lewandowsky will eagerly join me in supporting the “let’s forcibly transplant the entire population of the US east coast to somewhere west of the Allegheny Mountains in order to protect them from the unknown risk of a future asteroid impact in the Atlantic Ocean causing mass devastation” effort.

  39. Gary Hladik says:

    It’s absolutely certain that the Earth will be hit by another asteroid some time in the future, so we should spend absolutely no money finding such potential planet killers and planning how to divert them.

    Tsunamis are inevitable, so we should spend no more money on early warning; we should build our nuclear power plants and hotels as close to the water’s edge as possible.

    Another earthquake on the San Andreas Fault is certain, so we should stop spending extra money on earthquake-resistant buildings and early warning research.

    Hurricanes…tornadoes…locusts…politicians…but I repeat myself.

  40. Frank Davis says:

    “I’m sure readers can think of other examples – chemtrails, rains of frogs, strange wart like pimples… it’s a long list.”

    Secondhand smoke.

  41. It is interesting to note that the lead author is a psychologist. :-P

    I’ve been reeling ever since I saw this. The guy is clearly a complete crank. How or why such a thing past peer-review is unfathomable.

  42. Rob Ricket says:

    The abstract from part II:
    “In public debate surrounding climate change, scientific uncertainty is often cited in connection with arguments against mitigative action. This article examines the role of uncertainty about future climate change in determining the likely success or failure of mitigative action. We show by Monte Carlo simulation that greater uncertainty translates into a greater likelihood that mitigation efforts will fail to limit global warming to a target (e.g., 2 °C). The effect of uncertainty can be reduced by limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Taken together with the fact that greater uncertainty also increases the potential damages arising from unabated emissions (Lewandowsky et al. 2014), any appeal to uncertainty implies a stronger, rather than weaker, need to cut greenhouse gas emissions than in the absence of uncertainty”
    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-014-1083-6.

    This is speculative circuitous logic at best. If sensitivity is the issue (as mentioned in part I abstract) reduction of CO2 emissions does absolutely nothing to address other potential causes of climate variation. Additionally, mitigation does not solve the sensitivity riddle.

    Both papers are pay-walled, but it is axiomatic (however inconvenient) that the probability of monetary waste increases in proportion to expenditures in mitigation strategies that fail to assign probability ranges to climate sensitivity. This is a crude attempt to skirt the sensitivity question.

  43. thomam says:

    Apparently I was sleeping during Risk Management training. Apparently now you don’t need to worry about quantifying the likelihood of a risk occurring, the impact of it occurring, the costs if it does occur, potential mitigating actions, cost of those mitigating actions,the residual risk remaining after mitigation and all that dull stuff.

    You just need to identify a vague unmeasurable risk, then spend an unquantified and unlimited amount of money on “mitigations” – that may or not actually address the risk, may or may not cost more than the impact of the risk if it happened or, even, may have worse consequences than the original risk. Nice.

    I also have a vague recollection of a general principle along the lines of “IF (cost to mitigate) > (quantified cost of risk) THEN (forget about it and bugger off to the pub)”.

  44. Eric Worrall says:

    My wife, after reading these comments, said something about worrying Bigfoot would take the car keys to the Aztec kingdom and hook up with Dora the Explorer. Perhaps I should worry… :-)

  45. Taphonomic says:

    “…the researchers investigated the mathematics of uncertainty in the climate system and showed that increased scientific uncertainty necessitates even greater action to mitigate climate change.”

    Okay! What actions has Lew taken to reduce his carbon footprint? When Lew and Gore and all the AGW advocates reduce their footprints to less than that of the average human inhabitant of Earth, I’ll start listening to them.

  46. Generic Geologist says:

    Manbearpig. Definitely. Oh wait, Manbearpig already was paid $200 million. This proves Lew’s thesis. Carry on.

  47. It’s as if he thinks uncertainty is just a buzz word fed to the media and has no real meaning. Like noise simply doesn’t exist! Data is all crystal clear, and only “pretend” noise and uncertainty are fed to the media to … keep them on their toes or something?

  48. shadrach says:

    Isn’t this just a reiteration of the post normal science approach that only enjoys any credence in the most desperate reaches of climate prediction as it is?

  49. Gary Hladik says:

    I just realized that Lew has been watching too many commercials:

  50. Mike M says:

    Cooking your meat kills potentially harmful bacteria but there’s always a risk that – you didn’t kill them ALL. Lewandowsky’s solution to deal with this pesky uncertainty – http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_nAmQLWq7QRI/SH56xEluFUI/AAAAAAAABuw/-uqalmisU2c/s400/burnt.jpg

  51. Bill Illis says:

    How much will it cost?

    We are already spending/wasting 0.5% of world GDP each year on green energy/climate change. This has had no impact on the trendline for CO2 growth.

    So waste 0.5% of world economic growth each year for Zero impact.

    And a 0.5% here or there could make a huge difference to unemployment rates and overall standard of living (check out the unemployment rates in Europe for example). Its the difference between stagnation and slowly rising employment. Generally, 2.0% growth in GDP would be considered a healthy rate but would more-or-less lead to a stable standard of living, the bare minimum. 2.5% to 3.0% would be increasing prosperity and increasing employment.

    Okay, do we raise the green energy/climate change waste to 2.0% of GDP and then have some influence in the CO2 growth rate. To get to the numbers the warmers want – zero or declining CO2 growth – we might need to go up to 3.0% to 4.0% wastage.

    Basically, stop economic growth all together and/or accept slowly declining economic prosperity.

    They do not know that is what they are implying (but they don’t understand economics in any event).

  52. I believe there is a typo that paper’s webpage. The date should read: April 1, 2014.

  53. Mike M says:

    Frank Davis says: April 8, 2014 at 7:48 am “Secondhand smoke.”

    That’s actually not a good example because at least one study shows that it’s a benefit, statistically significant-wise: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9776409?dopt=Abstract

    “ETS exposure during childhood was not associated with an increased risk of lung cancer (odds ratio [OR] for ever exposure = 0.78; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.64-0.96).”

  54. Alan Robertson says:

    ZombieSymmetry says:
    April 8, 2014 at 7:48 am

    It is interesting to note that the lead author is a psychologist. :-P

    I’ve been reeling ever since I saw this. The guy is clearly a complete crank. How or why such a thing past peer-review is unfathomable.
    _________________________
    I’ve noticed on other sites (which concern themselves at least bit with science,) that the more ridiculous Lewandowsky becomes, the more that paid propagandists are deployed to defend him.
    He is the Golden Child du jour of the warmist/statists.

  55. Dave says:

    I’m sure that Lew Doo is somewhat uncertain about the idiotic point he tried to make.

    He’ll probably get a grant to research the subject.

  56. Daniel G. says:

    Doesn’t this imply we must create the International Panel of Cryptoecological Change (IPCC), to deal with the possibility of Lava Dragons attacking the surface, and spend hundreds of billions of dollars in Cryptoecological Models, creating projections of Lava Dragon populations, which might be attracted by Carbon Pollution™? Just because of the uncertainty involved.

  57. Bob Shapiro says:

    Earth will be hit by another huge asteroid, but the timing is fully uncertain. We must act NOW to build a worldwide trapeze net to bounce this demon back into space. (Let the other worlds in the line of fire/bounce handle their own danger.)

  58. Cold in Wisconsin says:

    Apparently the scientists are unaware that all of this has been thoroughly vetted in other disciplines such as business, insurance, law, gambling, etc. The PP is quantified in what is known as “Expected Value” of a risky business proposition. You should be willing to spend only the amount that would be the expected loss of a given risk:

    Percentage risk * Potential Cost = Expected Value of Loss

    Greater uncertainty does not warrant greater expenditures. However, their gambit is to drive up the potential cost while also attempting to make the percentage risk seem higher (we are 95% certain, correct?) while also minimizing the offsetting or known benefits that offset the costs. Therefore, we should all be willing to spend more money, right? It is in quantifying the risk, the potential cost, and the offsets that the argument wins or fails.

    The way that the PP is stated above leads me to believe that Mr. Lew and associates are spending their salaries on lottery tickets and asking the public to buy a very expensive “scratch off.”

  59. Nancy C says:

    “‘What would the consequences be if uncertainty is even greater than we think it is?'”

    “Greater uncertainty also increases the likelihood of exceeding ‘safe’ temperature limits”

    “”We can understand the implications of uncertainty, and in the case of the climate system, it is very clear that greater uncertainty will make things even worse.”

    “”Some point to uncertainty as a way to minimize the climate change problem, when in fact it means that the problem is more likely to be worse than expected in the absence of that uncertainty. This result is robust to a range of assumptions and shows that uncertainty does not excuse inaction.”

    Their theory flies in the face of possibly the largest sample empirical study that’s ever been conducted. Everyday babies are born. Those babies are 100% uncertain about what will happen with the weather tomorrow. They have so little experience predicting the weather, and in fact have so little understanding of how the weather even works, that as far as they know it could be 1000 degrees outside tomorrow, or 2 degrees or negative 40 trillion gazillion, or even infinity. Now, from Stephy Lew’s point of view, because of uncertainty, each of those temperatures takes on a real probability. The probability is very small, but because the range is very big, it becomes more and more likely that the outcome will be unfavorable to humanity. In fact, the idea that in all those infinity of possible temperatures, the outcome would happen to be one that’s favorable to human life is minute. But the actual experiment shows that no matter how many uncertain babies are born, on average, every day is about the same temperature as the day before. To me, this experiment, performed billions and billions of times, over tens of thousands of years, proves that as human uncertainty about the weather increases, the chances that it will be much different from yesterday decreases. Thanks, no applause necessary.

  60. William R. says:

    Aside from the fallacious nature of the precautionary principle that others have pointed out, the alarmists also neglect the fact that the climate change Armageddon they fear will not be an instantaneous event. Rather, IF it happens (which likely will not), it would happen slowly over decades or centuries. Therefore, the precautionary principle is not applicable, as action can also be taken at a later date if/when better information is available.

  61. Mike M says:

    We should resume sacrificing a young virgin female on December ~20 to satisfy the sun god the way we used to. The sun god is probably very angry that we stopped; think of the risk of being plunging into perpetual winter for eschewing human sacrifice? It’s not all that bad a precaution to take, only one life per year.

  62. tim maguire says:

    I absolutely agree that the best way to develop public policy is to give the win to the people who conjure up the scariest parade of horribles.

  63. Curious George says:

    Let’s apply Big Lewandowsky’s insight to a practical world. Surely the biggest uncertainty – or a lack of precise knowledge – leads to a greatest urgency of an immediate action. In this light, I wonder how much Greenpeace and similar organizations know.

  64. Peter Miller says:

    Our ancestors used to have heated arguments on how many angels could dance on the end of a pin.

    This must be the type of uncertainty Lew is talking about.

    Anyhow, I think our ancestors were wiser than Lew as there is no record of them throwing too much much money at this non-problem. They were certainly a lot wiser than us, when you look at the amount of money we are throwing at the non-problem (because it does not exist!) of CAGW.

  65. Dan Toppins says:

    What rational person(s) employs such an irrational man?

  66. Tom O says:

    “Ian W says:
    April 8, 2014 at 7:14 am
    Does the converse hold true?

    You are CERTAIN about a particular risk that will lead to a real life threatening occurrence, therefore spend less on it than something that you only have suspicion about but very little information?

    No I thought not.

    But it does explain why we are repeatedly told to worry about our grandchildren by multimillion dollar grant seeking academics like Lewandowsky, while there is a child dying every 5 seconds from hunger and one dollar could save their lives.”

    Sadly, you have wrapped up the problems with humanity is so few words. I could add only that our current way of living is – Forget about the past, to hell with the present, be concerned only with the future. But the lives we waste now ARE every bit as important as those as yet not born. Why can’t we understand that?

  67. Leo Geiger says:

    Most people are not gifted with the “absolute certainty” of the typical WUWT blog reader/contributor that (a) green house gas emissions are not a problem and (b) steps to reduce them will destroy the economy. Nor can they as easily overcome the contradiction of simultaneously arguing that “the science isn’t settled” and “we have nothing to worry about”.

    That’s why people do things like buy fire insurance, spend money on fire extinguishers and smoke detectors, and pay taxes for fire stations. They haven’t dismissed the possibility (not the certainty) of a fire in their house and assign value to those actions.

  68. JEM says:

    More specifically, this puts Lewandowsky right in line with the anti-vaxers and anti-GMO crowd, not to mention the anti-frackers and basically the anti-everything people.

    Rather than informed risk-assessment, what we have here is risk-avoidance verging on the pathological.

  69. Uncertainty?

    I thought the science was settled.

  70. TomR,Worc,MA,USA says:

    Please, please, please stop writing about this guy. You absolutely know he is reading and delighting in each word written about him here. He is a nobody, and we are giving him exactly what he wants.

    One mans opinion.

  71. SanityP says:

    I am getting really uncertain about Lewandowsky. Maybe it’s time to contain him just to make sure he’s safe?

  72. Yet he still uses electricity.

  73. We are almost certainly facing another ice age at some point in the future. Therefore, we should, in addition to spending trillions to combat global warming, spend trillions to combat global cooling. and at the same time, because the risk is just too great. /sarc And that’s okay because it’s not about the temperature, it’s about the money. /snark

  74. EternalOptimist says:

    my wife runs a team that cares for severely handicapped children in the community. When she gets a new referral, she has to produce a risk assessment and at every step of the way she has to perform a cost benefit analysis. I often proof read all this checking for typos and jargon and it is impressive stuff. Childrens live and well-being depend upon it.
    I told her about this paper and she laughed. She laughed real tears.

    She managed to say something about a cornocupia, unlimited budget, economy the size of a small country per child still not enough. Then she had to leave for work. A real job , not a lew job. A job with hard and real choices and decisions, with real lives depending.

  75. Leo Geiger:

    “That’s why people do things like buy fire insurance, spend money on fire extinguishers and smoke detectors, and pay taxes for fire stations. They haven’t dismissed the possibility (not the certainty) of a fire in their house and assign value to those actions.”

    That’s a valid argument. But when you buy fire insurance, spend money on extinguishers, etc., you are spending your own money. Others can do the same, or opt to live dangerously. In the case of climate change, I think it behooves those who believe that impending doom is around the corner to demonstrate that as such – to make a convincing argument. Instead, they just put their hand up and scream “THE DEBATE IS OVER, DENIER!”

    If you want to spend MY money on a perceived apocalypse, you’ll either have to convince me that the apocalypse is indeed coming, or you’ll have to resort to violence.

  76. Leo Geiger says:

    Tom O says:You are CERTAIN about a particular risk that will lead to a real life threatening occurrence, therefore spend less on it than something that you only have suspicion about but very little information?

    The point that appears to be lost in comments like these: when increased certainty reduces the range of possible outcomes to exclude the most serious, you can get away with spending less on avoiding the consequences. Being able to exclude a life threatening occurrence is what gives you the ability to spend less on it.

    It isn’t only the size of the uncertainty that matters, it is the combination of that uncertainty with the range of consequences.

    This is hardly controversial or illogical. It is the principal underpinning the operation of the entire insurance industry.

  77. Rob Ricket says:

    Leo,
    Your analogy won’t wash. CO2 mitigation, Unlike Insurance (which is based on historical probabilities) is based on a SWAG. you’ll also note that insurance customers are careful about shopping for a bargain.

    You can’t disguise the smell of a skunk by holding it next to a rose.

  78. chris y says:

    Bill Illis says-

    “Basically, stop economic growth all together and/or accept slowly declining economic prosperity.
    They do not know that is what they are implying (but they don’t understand economics in any event).”

    Sadly, they have already made unequivocal statements to that effect-

    “The only way that a 2015 agreement can achieve a 2-degree goal is to shut down the whole global economy.”
    Yvo de Boer, UNFCCC former executive secretary, November 2013

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-04/kyoto-veterans-say-global-warming-goal-slipping-away.html

    The really sad part is that global temperatures are actually tracking Hansen’s 1988 prediction that assumed the carbon-powered global economy shut down in 2000.

  79. JimS says:

    Lewandowsky is displaying the exact same irrational, cloudy thinking that I have found with other AGWers with whom I have had discussions. For some reason, having a post-graduate degree in science does not necessarily mean that one is a logical, good-reasoning person… just having plain horse sense.

  80. mkelly says:

    “According to Lewandowsky, the more uncertain you are about risk, the more you should spend to contain the risk.”

    I thought ignorance was bliss.

    If PP was valid per Lewandowsky then he needs to become a devote Christian immediately. I am sure there is uncertainly surrounding the existence of God. Eternity is a very long time.

  81. Showtime new series is called “the years of living dangerously”.
    Who saw this title and thought it was about “global warming”?

  82. Mike Ozanne says:

    Well here’s a logical dilemma, how do you use reductio ad absurdam when it’s absurd beyond belief before you start…

  83. wws says:

    From the Urban Dictionary, “Concern Troll” –
    “A person who posts on a blog thread, in the guise of “concern,” to disrupt dialogue or undermine morale by pointing out that posters and/or the site may be getting themselves in trouble, usually with an authority or power. They point out problems that don’t really exist. The intent is to derail, stifle, control, the dialogue. It is viewed as insincere and condescending.”

    Sound familiar, pokerguy?

  84. markstoval says:

    There is a chance that Stephan Lewandowsky is Satan and must be destroyed. I am very uncertain on that issue. Shall we act on it?

    /snarc

  85. So Bush was right to invade Iraq on the chance that they might have had weapons o’ mass destruction?

  86. Eric Worrall says:

    Leo Geiger
    Most people are not gifted with the “absolute certainty” of the typical WUWT blog reader/contributor that (a) green house gas emissions are not a problem and (b) steps to reduce them will destroy the economy. … That’s why people do things like buy fire insurance…

    Don’t forget, we are talking about the anthropogenic effect on climate – something which has never been observed. Nothing about current climatic conditions is in any way abnormal.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/03/22/occams-razor-and-climate-change/

    If Lewandowsky is right, and we need to take such hypothetical uncertainties seriously, then we need to pay equal attention to other highly uncertain but potentially devastating risks, such as the risk of being abducted by aliens.

  87. Merrick says:

    Is Lewandowsky agnostic? Because if he is he should be spending way more time in church than believers – because it’s the uncertainty that increases the risk!

  88. Mark and two Cats: “So Bush was right to invade Iraq on the chance that they might have had weapons o’ mass destruction?”

    It would seem so! Damn good analogy.

  89. David A says:

    Mr. Lew is not certain about his latest paper. Not knowing the risks of such uncertainty, he has applied for additional funds to study his theory, because it is such an unknown and uncertain hypothesis.

  90. pottereaton says:

    Presumably, Lewandowsky believes that because we’ve put a little extra CO2 into the atmosphere the climate is conspiring to kill us.

  91. RACookPE1978 says:

    Leo Geiger says:
    April 8, 2014 at 8:34 am (Replying to Tom O)

    The point that appears to be lost in comments like these: when increased certainty reduces the range of possible outcomes to exclude the most serious, you can get away with spending less on avoiding the consequences. Being able to exclude a life threatening occurrence is what gives you the ability to spend less on it.

    It isn’t only the size of the uncertainty that matters, it is the combination of that uncertainty with the range of consequences.

    This is hardly controversial or illogical. It is the principal underpinning the operation of the entire insurance industry.

    Hmmmmn.

    OK. The old “Uncertainty Principle” – or, phrased differently as the CAGW religion requires it, the “Precautionary Principle”, right?

    Except, the CAGW religion REQUIRES that the government DEMAND from me 100 years of very expensive, absolutely catastrophic-inducing “insurance” against a “possible” problem of unknown amount of unknown benefits and unknown potential problems affecting unknown numbers of people in unknown ways.

    That “insurance” they DEMAND under a dictatorship straining to condemn billions of people topoverty and squalor, forcing millions of people to an early death from poverty, starvation, illness, bad water, little food, no jobs, no advancement and poor food, clothing, and shelter
    IS 100 years of a “solution” THAT WILL NOT STOP THE PROBLEM (of assumed continued global warming) nor will it STOP THE SUPPOSED CAUSE (increased global CO2)!

    Thus, your comparison with “insurance” shows EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of what you think it does! You are demanding the the rest of the world cut off its hands and feet NOW to avoid a the “potential” problems of being overweight by 10 pounds 100 years by “perhaps” 10 pounds.

    You are NOT demanding insurance against a statistical probability of a future failure. You are DEMANDING that I pay 50,000.00 per year in flood insurance to the government for 100 years so that my $150,000.00 dollar home that is 150 feet above the local creek bed “might” be replaced with a government-designed shack – but only if a lightening storm knocks down a tree causing a power failure during a blizzard in July after a 7.1 earthquake.

    But, if my water heater breaks and floods the basement, your government-required flood insurance won’t pay a thing.
    If a fire breaks out, your government-mandated flood insurance won’t pay a thing.
    If the heater breaks down, your government-mandated flood insurance won’t pay a thing.
    If a water pipe wears through because I can’t afford a plumber, your government-required flood insurance won’t pay a thing.
    If the sink faucet leaks, your government-mandated flood insurance won’t pay a thing.
    If that tree falls through the roof NOT during a power outage after an earthquake, your government-mandated flood insurance won’t pay a thing.
    If I contaminate my food because your government-mandated water supply gets contaminated by government waste and no chemicals because they cause “environmental damage” to the waterways, your government-mandated flood insurance won’t pay a thing towards the hospital bill.

    But YOU will feel better because YOU have written a requirement that I have flood insurance!

  92. Rob Ricket says:

    Hear, hear RACook!

  93. Brad says:

    john robertson says:
    April 8, 2014 at 7:17 am
    Impalement by unicorn.
    Suffocation in Lew Paper.

    John, thanks for making the reference, hadn’t heard of the 5 laws before…

    The Five Basic Laws of Human Stupidity (H/T to http://marcfbellemare.com/wordpress/2013/01/the-five-basic-laws-of-human-stupidity/)

    1.Always and inevitably, everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.
    2.The probability that a certain person is stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.
    3.The Golden Law of Human Stupidity: A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain, and even possibly incurring losses.
    4.Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake.
    5.A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person. Corollary: A stupid person is more dangerous than a bandit.

    If the Law 5 corollary is valid, can we put them in jail?

  94. Steve C says:

    A true scientist (think Feynman, as he mentioned it specifically) doesn’t fear uncertainty. He positively relishes it, because it means there’s something to discover. Only a psychologist would make such a basic mistake.

  95. Robert_G says:

    My personal favorite (mentioned elsewhere before). Bearded, wild-haired, barefoot modern-day “prophet” with sandwich board proclaiming: REPENT! THE WORLD WILL END TOMORROW!
    Hey, the entire world is at risk

  96. Abbott says:

    I assume Lew’s “paper” is not for scientific purposes, but political and activist purposes. It’s simply dressed up as science to look like a purse instead of a sow’s ear. Somehow or other it will be used to refute the blatantly obvious lack of data in support of AGW in order to keep the money and headlines flowing.

  97. Bob Weber says:

    The “world” has certainly come a long way since a famous politician once said, “There’s nothing to fear but fear itself.” Now, the famous politicians and scientific stooges have nothing to offer but fear itself. Ironical. Diabolical. Shameful. We would be ignoring them if it weren’t for their constant threatening posture. An even-handed climate outlook would include risk assessments for a ‘cold Sun’ and cooling world scenario – where are they? Further, the largest risk is one that they won’t discuss – the very real risk and very likely outcome of them being completely wrong.

    The egos involved are so huge that all of mankind must be brought into slavish subjection to the faulty CO2 paradigm so those few cracking the whip can save face in spite of their utter failure to produce convincing evidence or predictions. The fear-mongers are the aggressors, and usually in conflict, the aggressor sets the rules. These “rulers” are aggressive fear-mongers hell-bent on creating and enforcing universal capitulation and subservience to their “great work” of remolding the world for their further dominance.

    The”world” is far more skeptical and resistant to their fear-mongering BS, and far more adaptive and resilient than is assumed by the warmists. Most people of common sense know there are risks everyday, and most of those fears are imaginary phantoms in our minds that never materialize, such as the falsely attributed CAGW and CAGW-caused extreme weather events. The real risk to humanity would be in following the lead of these opportunistic power-mad fear-mongers.

    What we should all do is keep saying “prove it” every single time a pompous ass politician like John Kerry or scientist like John Holdren opens his big mouth and proclaims that fossil fuel users are responsible for tragic natural disasters like Typhoon Haiyan, or a flood, or a drought, or a heat wave, and says we are responsible for paying for the damages. If John Kerry can’t back up his sorry statements, which he can’t possibly do, nor his supporting cast of shoddy scientists like John Holdren, then it’s long past time for him and fellow travelers to admit they have no idea what they’re talking about.

    John Kerry has baited the peoples who suffered from storms like Haiyan and Sandy with promises of money based on flatout lies. That is buying votes outright. No wonder there’s a contigent at the UN with hands out, pleading for money – it’s because they’re encouraged to do so by this administration, with implicit promises of money in return for their votes on the next climate treaty. That’s the reality. Everyone everywhere is being badgered, buffaloed, and bought off into submission to and by this band of psychopaths. The real risk is that humanity’s freedom will be lost forever to the big lie of CAGW.

    Humanity does not deserve that fate. Humanity deserves leadership that understands its limits. People deserve to understand that it’s not our fault – the Sun did it. Earth’s space environment dominated by the Sun is responsible for weather and climate, not humanity via CO2.

    If the CAGW risk doomsayers want to be seen as even-handed, then they can apply their precious precautionary principle to themselves and their big risky plans first.

  98. Ex-expat Colin says:

    We can build very long/large Safety Cases about high risk and especially uncertainty. The latter is the full door stopper type with added computer blocking modeling software. That software makes an awful lot of money quickly and is highly recommended to start up software companies. Its like computer games – lots of fantasy and screwing up the web by playing across countries/continents.

    Or we can issue a safety statement that says…be careful. And thats where a self duty of care appears, which usually requires a little training. Aka Adaption.

    God help us…..and thats another big risk with major uncertainty!

  99. Jimbo says:

    But now that Lewandosky has opened our eyes, let’s try applying his principle to other issues. Witch burning.

    During the Little Ice Age crop failures and climate uncertainty lead to extensive witch killings.

    They are asking me to take out a premium costing 2/3 of the cos of my house as a precaution. Would you remove 1/3 of your brain because you might get a brain tumor? No thanks! Though some people do say I already have 1/3 missing. Narf, narf.

  100. David A says:

    Mark and two Cats: “So Bush was right to invade Iraq on the chance that they might have had weapons o’ mass destruction?”

    Very different I think. The list of Iraq’s crimes,… known attempts to develop WMDs, chemical, biological, and nuclear, past use of such on his own people, invasions of neighboring nations, plans to take the Northern Saudi oil fields, insane view of himself as the one to unite the Arab world, the incarnated Nebacanezer, sponsor of terrorist events in many parts of the world, and much more, led to the invasion of Iraq.

    On the other hand all the supposed terrors of additional man made CO2, increased hurricanes storms, droughts, floods, rising seas, increased wildfires, lowered crop yields, you name it, NONE of these have materialized.

    (By the way, I studied and read both sides of the Iraq issue. The pro invasion ideas were strong and logical, but I was against this invasion because, and unlike Lew here, the “precautionary principle” was sound here. We had many reasons to know we did not know the outcome of such a war, and the realistic (unlike CAGW) negative senarios were large.

  101. Merrick says:

    Captain Queeg. Brilliant!
    I was thinking Monsters are Due on Maple Street.

    But, ironically, there really was a conspiracy against Queeg (because he was exactly that person ranting on the stand and his crew couldn’t stand for it any more) and there were monsters on Maple Street.

  102. Brad says:

    Follow-on to the above comment:
    Found this at the Guardian by Mark Abrahams: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2012/apr/09/improbable-research-human-stupidity
    They only list the first 4 laws but reference the 5th in text?

    There is also a reference to this earlier piece by the same writer. http://www.theguardian.com/education/2004/may/04/research.highereducation?guni=Article:in%20body%20link

  103. Joel O'Bryan says:

    CAGW zombies are real though.

  104. eyesonu says:

    Should all women immediately have their breasts removed to reduce the chance of breast cancer? That would be the precautionary principle but would likely cause other problems within society. But then I have a disposition to address issues as they arise and think Loo is a nutcase.

  105. JohnB says:

    If you’re gonna burn a witch – make certain she weighs less than a duck

  106. Jimbo says:

    Increasing uncertainty in the climate system compels a greater urgency for climate change mitigation, according to new research. Scientists have shown that as uncertainty in the temperature increase expected with a doubling of carbon dioxide from pre-industrial levels rises, so do the economic damages of increased climate change. Greater uncertainty also increases the likelihood of exceeding ‘safe’ temperature limits and the probability of failing to reach mitigation targets.

    But they are certain they know what is going on and what the main cause is. If they are so uncertain about something else then is it just possible that they are WRONG about their projections. Bear in mind the failures since AR1, fail, fail, fail. That is certain is likely warming in 2100 will be much less than we previously thought. This is how I think about ‘risks’ and taking them.

    IPCC Summary for Policy Makers
    Climate models have improved since the AR4. Models reproduce observed continental-scale
    surface temperature patterns and trends over many decades, including the more rapid
    warming since the mid-20th century and the cooling immediately following large volcanic
    eruptions (very high confidence).

  107. Rick K says:

    Isn’t there a chance, even a small one, that Lew is a total nut case?

    So, shouldn’t he be locked up away from society? I mean… he could hurt himself… or others. I don’t think we can afford to take that chance…

  108. Jimbo says:

    Correction:
    What is certain is likely warming in 2100 will…….

  109. Aphan says:

    I cannot believe that courses in Critical Thinking and Logic are NOT required for all students, but especially for Science majors!

  110. Leo Geiger says:

    Paul Homewood says: “Uncertainty? I thought the science was settled.”

    If a scientist happens to say something that sounds like “the science is settled”, it is clumsy shorthand for “we know enough”. There is not an absolute certainty, but sufficient probability to form a basis for action.

    When a pseudoskeptic uses the phrase “the science is settled” (and they do far more often than anyone else), it is to discredit scientists by suggesting the scientists are foolishly claiming absolute certainty. They are not.

    The irony always seems to go unnoticed when this is followed by assertions that climate scientists are absolutely wrong, the economic cost of action is absolutely ruinous, and we can safely do absolutely nothing.

  111. Jimbo says:

    We took action on diets even though we WHERE CERTAIN!!! Where did that get us?

    Guardian – 23 March 2014
    Why almost everything you’ve been told about unhealthy foods is wrong
    Eggs and red meat have both been on the nutritional hit list – but after a major study last week dismissed a link between fats and heart disease, is it time for a complete rethink?
    ……..
    Last week it fell to a floundering professor, Jeremy Pearson, from the British Heart Foundation to explain why it still adheres to the nutrition establishment’s anti-saturated fat doctrine when evidence is stacking up to refute it. After examining 72 academic studies involving more than 600,000 participants, the study, funded by the foundation, found that saturated fat consumption was not associated with coronary disease risk. This assessment echoed a review in 2010 that concluded “there is no convincing evidence that saturated fat causes heart disease”……
    http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/mar/23/everything-you-know-about-unhealthy-foods-is-wrong

    We took action on the Ozone decades ago and in December of last year NASA said “two new studies show that signs of recovery are not yet present, and that temperature and winds are still driving any annual changes in ozone hole size.”
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/12/11/at-agu-nasa-says-cfc-reduction-is-not-shrinking-the-ozone-hole-yet/

    In the 1970s we were looking at ways to protect ourselves against global cooling. In the 1920 to 1940 people fretted about global warming. When are these idiots going to realise that it’s just the climate changing and things we observe today might always have been there.

    Global warming scare follows cooling scare, follows warming scare and so on.
    http://www.mrc.org/node/30586

  112. Robert W Turner says:

    I’m really afraid of snakes on a plane. I demand every flight within the U.S. be retrofitted with a pack of wild mongooses in order to alleviate my fears. There is no other way, think of the children!

  113. jim south london says:

    So Lewandowsky is concerned about risk

    Does he smoke and drink alcohol and eat red meat ?

  114. Bruce Cobb says:

    He’s essentially going down the same idiotic route as Greg Craven.
    “What’s the worst that could happen” is the question they ask. The consequences for unnecessarily spending $trillions on climate mitigation are weighed against worst-case climate castasrophe scenarios as the two extremes. Since climate catsrophe is far, far worse, the “obvious” choice is to spend the $trillions, and not to delay, either, because that ramps up the costs considerably.
    You can’t fix stupid.

  115. Skiphil says:

    I am no astrophysicist but aren’t there possible but extremely unlikely (and uncertain) scenarios which pose such dire risk to the survival of humanity that they require unlimited funding to try to avoid, according to the Lewandowsky Principle (i.e., a gigantic meteor undetected to date which is headed for collision with planet earth, or changes in our sun which will make the earth uninhabitable, etc.) ???

    We must devote ALL of our resources, NOW, to preparing to send at least a few human survivors beyond our solar system in the face of the uncertain, highly unlikely risk that humanity will be exterminated.

  116. Rob Ricket says:

    While deer hunting the object is to kill deer. The less you know about the location of the deer and your hunting buddies; the greater the chance you will come home empty-handed. According to these clowns, this means you should shoot at anything that moves.

  117. Specter says:

    no….you all misread Lew’s meaning here.

    His uncertainty is that the theory of CAGW might be exposed as the lie it is….that uncertainty (I would say it is more certain than he believes) would upset his gravy train. His plea for more $$$ is to get the bucks now, rather than lose out on them later. That would mitigate his loss.

    ;-)

  118. Leo Geiger says:

    Eric Worrall says: “Don’t forget, we are talking about the anthropogenic effect on climate…other highly uncertain but potentially devastating risks, such as the risk of being abducted by aliens.”

    Equating main stream science with alien abduction is just a round about way of saying you are absolutely certain there is no risk. Either that, or you believe there is a realistic probability of being abducted by aliens.

    Most people do not share that kind of absolute certainty.

  119. jauntycyclist says:

    “the more uncertain you are about risk, the more you should spend to contain the risk.”

    Nope.

    Response to risk was worked out in the middle ages by merchants sending their goods by sea. Often the ships would sink [due to extreme weather, pirates and whatnot]. The method that worked and still brought huge profits was to diversify. Each ship would carry only part of each cargo ie all the ships had a little bit of everything. So if 1 out of 3 ships sank the ones that made it would have enough to over the cost of the others.

    So the greater the risk the more the diversification. The idea you can spend yourself out of risk is something the retail financial brokers would love a newbie punter on the stock market to say and hope they would continue to say until they blew up their account.

    This principle of diversification is used from finance to retail to the military who face unknown risks. A toolbox with only 1 tool in it no matter how expensive is not equal to a box full of cheap tools if you are not sure what the job will be till it comes.

    The ‘spending more’ bit sounds like a tin opener to get to the public finances and to move the narrative into the ‘lock in solutions’ to their cry wolf science rather than any understanding of risk.

  120. Jimbo says:

    Never, ever go mountain climbing because you might fall and die. We must act now on climbing mountains. Never buy stocks in companies because of uncertainty. Don’t go outside today because you might get killed by a car. Don’t stay indoors either because there might be a gas explosion.

  121. Rob Ricket says:

    Skiphil,
    You’re absolutely right, but you forgot one caveat…ensure the selected doomsday scenario lines your pockets with public funds.

  122. Jimbo says:

    I really do have a reasonably good chance of getting malaria if I go out this evening (rampant mosquito & malaria environment) for an evening meal in the outdoors. That does not keep me from going for an evening meal. There is no such thing as a risk free life. Live with it!

  123. richard says:

    Jimbo says:
    April 8, 2014 at 9:37 am
    Never, ever go mountain climbing because you might fall and die. We must act now on climbing mountains. Never buy stocks in companies because of uncertainty. Don’t go outside today because you might get killed by a car. Don’t stay indoors either because there might be a gas explosion.

    ——————————-

    Jimbo, the safest thing to do is stay in the weather.

    Cause of death No. of deaths Percent of total deaths
    I. Communicable Diseases 18,324,000 32.13%
    Tuberculosis 1,566,000 2.75%
    HIV/AIDS 2,777,000 4.87%
    Diarrhoeal diseases 1,798,000 3.15%
    Malaria 1,272,000 2.23%
    Other tropical diseases 129,000 0.23%
    Other infectious & parasitic diseases 3,362000 5.90%
    Subtotal – Infectious and parasitic diseases 10,904,000 19.12%
    Respiratory infections 3,963,000 6.95%
    Nutritional deficiencies 485,000 0.85%
    Maternal and perinatal conditions 2,972,000 5.21%
    II. Non-communicable Conditions 33,537,000 58.81%
    Malignant neoplasms 7,121,000 12.49%
    Cardiovascular diseases 16,733,000 29.34%
    Respiratory diseases 3,702,000 6.49%
    Other non-communicable conditions 5,981,000 10.49%
    III. Injuries 5,168,000 9.06%
    Road traffic accidents 1,192,000 2.09%
    Violence 559,000 0.98%
    War 172,000 0.30%
    Extreme weather events 19,868 0.03%
    All other injuries 3,225,600 5.66%
    Sources: WHO (2004), EM-DAT (2007)

  124. richard says:

    Extreme weather events 19,868 0.03%

  125. EternalOptimist says:

    Mr and Mrs Bumwad are at home having breakfast in Bristol

    Mr Bumwad -‘Must dash dear, time for work’
    Mrs Bumwad -‘Busy day dear ?’
    Mr Bumwad -‘Yes sirree. I got some big ideations to do this morning, and fifty five surveys to fill in this afternnoon’
    Mrs Bumwad – ‘Umbrella dear?’
    Mr Bumwad – ‘No, I dont thinks so’
    Mrs Bumwad -‘But on the radio they said there was a slight chance of drizzle’

    Mr Bumwad stops half way to the kitchen door. He looks thunderstruck.and worried. his wife wrings her hands, something is wrong.

    Mr Bumwad – ‘Exactly what chance did they say ? what type of drizzle, did they secify ?’
    Mrs Bumwad – ‘Just a slight chance of drizzle’ Umbrella dear ?’
    Mr Bumwad shakes his head – ‘No. order me a speedboat , call the coastguard and get my rubber armbands out of the loft. Ring your mother, tell her to leave the city. NOW’

  126. Tom in Florida says:

    Merrick says:
    April 8, 2014 at 9:04 am
    “I was thinking Monsters are Due on Maple Street”

    For those who do not know, this was a Twilight Zone episode where the people living on Maple Street (anytown USA) get spooked because their electrical devices start to act strangely. A lynch mob mentality ensures with accusations and finger pointing. Eventually an innocent man is killed by one of his.neighbors because he was walking towards them in the dark and they thought he might be a monster. In the end…. well, I won’t spoil it for you.

  127. Given that the earth is more likely to be cooling rather than warming for the next several hundred years and that the uncertainty lies in the timing and amount of the coming cooling-following Lewandowsky’s mad logic we should simultaneously be taking action to mitigate both being fried and frozen. To people of normal intelligence this is obviously batty and Lewandowsky and co should be gently led away by people in white coats to some quiet spot where they can babble away at each other in peace.
    However we should note that this seeming lunatic policy is already the actual policy of the UK government which is subsidizing windmills to theoretically reduce CO2 while at the same time giving favoured industries energy cost rebates to enable them to produce more CO2.
    For 20 years or so the inmates have been in charge of the asylum and the British people in general seem not to notice or care.
    For an estimate of the timing and extent of the coming cooling using the 60 and 1000 year quasi- periodicities in the temperature data and the neutron count and 10Be data as the best proxy for solar “activity” see
    http://climatesense-norpag.blogspot.com

  128. Non Nomen says:

    “According to Lewandowsky, the more uncertain you are about risk, the more you should spend to contain the risk.”
    When crossing the Sahara be sure to carry an ark with you. Not really cheap, but there is always a risk…

  129. Bruce Cobb says:

    Even if you believe in ManBearPig like Leo Geiger seems to, the economics are resoundingly (50-to-1, at minimum) in favor of adaptation, rather than mitigation.

  130. John Shade says:

    I like Aaron Wildavksy’s insights on the precautionary principle in his book ‘But Is It True? (A citizen’s guide to environmental health and safety issues)’. For example this passage in the final chapter:

    ‘The precautionary principle is a marvellous piece of rhetoric. It places the speaker on the side of the citizen – I am acting for your health – and portrays opponents of the contemplated ban or regulation as indifferent or hostile to the public’s health. The rhetoric works in part because it assumes what actually should be proved, namely, that the health actions in view will be superior to the alternative’

    He notes later how stultifying this principle is, and how it can give a free hand to government while imposing severe constraints on citizens. A key point he makes is that this can be and has been, very damaging to society. His book is full of well-studied examples.

  131. Leo Geiger:
    “Equating main stream science with alien abduction is just a round about way of saying you are absolutely certain there is no risk. Either that, or you believe there is a realistic probability of being abducted by aliens.

    Most people do not share that kind of absolute certainty.”

    Personally, I would put climate change on the bottom of the list of things I have to be worried about. Furthermore, given how chaotic climate is in general, I have no reason do believe that taking human influence out of the system makes in any more safe. Regardless of man’s activites, there are still storm, floods, hot days, cold days, ice ages, etc., etc.. Of course there are people who want to spin that differently these days, but it’s still just spin.

  132. DirkH says:

    pokerguy says:
    April 8, 2014 at 7:39 am
    “There are an abundance of good, solid arguments against climate change alarmism. We only weaken our position with this kind of stuff, no matter how entertaining.”

    Ridiculing Lewandowsky has nothing to do with CO2AGW. His paper was not about CO2AGW. It was about psychology.

    Why do you think Lewandowsky has anything to say about CO2AGW, pokerguy?

  133. MattS says:

    The problem with the precautionary principle is that it gets applied to A but ignores the fact that not A can carry as much or even greater risk than A.

  134. DirkH says:

    As we are not uncertain about The Big Lewandowsky’s mental state, we don’t have to do anything about it.

  135. Wespiers says:

    Waste no effort analysing the content of Lew’s publications. Nobody, including Lewandowsky, could possibly believe this nonsense. He is not, as some think, stupid or crazy – he’s simply gaming the system for fame and money, and having some fun along the way laughing at the reactions of the sceptics.

  136. Curious George says:

    Jimbo – right on: “Would you remove 1/3 of your brain because you might get a brain tumor?” It seems to be a standard procedure in some circles. Example: How does IPCC determine a “high confidence”? By a popular vote, I suspect.

  137. KNR says:

    But surely given how important AGW is , the most important thing ever we are told , then what matters is doing the RIGHT THING not ANY THING especially as we told there is ‘no time to lose’
    So should we not first know what the problem really is so that we pick the right solution , or is that approach endangering to Lew and friends ‘plans and ego’s ‘ for by finding out what the problem really is we may find out there is not one in the first place ?

  138. Alan McIntire says:

    “ZombieSymmetry says:
    April 8, 2014 at 7:48 am
    It is interesting to note that the lead author is a psychologist. :-P”

    And, you might add, psychologists may well be crazier than the average person

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200909/why-shrinks-have-problems

    “Mental health professionals are, in general, a fairly crazy lot…..
    Here’s a theory that’s not so crazy: Maybe people enter the mental health field because they have a history of psychological difficulties. Perhaps they’re trying to understand or overcome their own problems, which would give us a pool of therapists who are a hit unusual to begin with. That alone could account for the image of the Crazy Shrink.”

  139. iw says:

    to restate the precautionary principal: the less likely it is your decision will be intelligent, the more important it is to make said decision immediately.

  140. Louis Hooffstetter says:

    The Science Daily article is titled “Scientists unmask the climate uncertainty monster”.
    How did they confuse Lewandowsky, et al. with scientists?

  141. pokerguy says:

    “Ridiculing Lewandowsky has nothing to do with CO2AGW. His paper was not about CO2AGW. It was about psychology.Why do you think Lewandowsky has anything to say about CO2AGW, pokerguy?”

    Before spouting off about what a paper is or is not about, usually better to you know, check it out. Here’s the summary of the work:

    “Increasing uncertainty in the climate system compels a greater urgency for climate change mitigation, according to new research. Scientists have shown that as uncertainty in the temperature increase expected with a doubling of carbon dioxide from pre-industrial levels rises, so do the economic damages of increased climate change. Greater uncertainty also increases the likelihood of exceeding ‘safe’ temperature limits and the probability of failing to reach mitigation targets. The authors highlight this with the case of future sea level, as larger uncertainty in sea level rise requires greater precautionary action to manage flood risk.”

    2nd paragraph :

    “In two companion papers, published today in Climatic Change, the researchers investigated the mathematics of uncertainty in the climate system and showed that increased scientific uncertainty necessitates even greater action to mitigate climate change.”

    Not seeing much about psychology. I see science, economics, and mathematics. What makes you think the paper is about psychology, DirkH

  142. RH says:

    The abstract from part II:
    “This article examines the role of uncertainty about future climate change in determining the likely success or failure of mitigative action. ”

    The more uncertain one is, the more likely “mitigative action” will appear to be successful. It is the foundation for all superstition: Salt over the shoulder, black cats, broken mirrors, walking under ladders, and on and on.

  143. Lurker says:

    Dr. Page is right, the biggest climate risk is of a new ice age; those fearful of it and devoted to taking precautions to mitigate it by adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere should get tax reductions to do so. Of course, those who fear warming should also get tax reduction incentives to fight their fear. Tax reduction for everyone!

  144. Tom G(ologist) says:

    The consequences of NOT following the precautionary principle were lampooned (by self) at:
    http://suspectterrane.blogspot.com/2012/10/you-are-going-to-die.html
    if you would care to take a look at a real life example of post-modernistic thinking gone very, very wrong.

  145. justsayin999 says:

    In 1973, The SCOTUS permitted abortion while professing itself uncertain as to the individual human status of the unborn. I would be delighted to see Lewandosky follow his precautionary principle and argue that it implies abortion should be prohibited as the taking of innocent human life.

    But maybe he’s one of the ecofascists who regard humans as a blight to be extirpated?

  146. Dave Worley says:

    My neighbor is telling me that the sounds coming from my attic must be ghosts. He says I should hire ghostbusters.

    I told asked him to consider the possibility that the ghosts are friendly and are bringing me good luck. He has been divorced three times and I have not. I offered to loan him my ghosts but he declined citing the precautionary principle.

  147. Bruce Cobb says:

    I would posit that the ideas of alien abduction and global warming of the human kind are quite similar; they are both the result of active imaginations.

  148. ItsStillTooColdInCanada says:

    When I read about this paper at Jo Nova’s blog my reaction was this seems so absurd it has to be a belated April Fools Day joke. But after many North Americans endured the coldest winter in decades (not that that has anything to do with climate… nobody needs to remind me), I guess desperate times call for desperate measures.
    Well, in the spirit of the apparently pro-gambling CAGW religion that SL has adopted, I see his Hail Mary and raise him one Pascal’s Wager.

  149. JJ says:

    From the press release quoted over at JoNova’s:

    In two companion papers, published today in Climatic Change, the researchers investigated the mathematics of uncertainty in the climate system and showed that increased scientific uncertainty necessitates even greater action to mitigate climate change.

    The mathematics of uncertainty in the climate system? Since when is Lewandowsky a mathematician? Or a climate scientist? WTF is a psychobabbler doing on these papers? Well, other than advising how to twist the message to arrive at maximum propaganda value…

    Lewandowsky should stick to submitting factually incorrect and unethically produced Op Eds for ultimate retraction by the witchdoctor journals.

  150. crosspatch says:

    What the “uncertainty” principle has done is to turn logic in its head so that what amounts to an international cabal can dictate policy. It is impossible to prove a negative. You can not prove something can NOT happen. You can only PROVE what HAS happened. So if you dig through the Rio declaration documents and Agenda 21 of that document you will see language where it says that uncertainty is not a valid reason for not acting. If something COULD happen, that requires nations to mitigate against the possibility. Well, a meteor COULD slam right into my lap right this minute. How much should I spend in mitigating that possibility?

    What these people have done through the language of their various documents is to place the onus on proving something can not happen or has not happened. That is a logical impossibility. All you can prove is that you don’t believe something can happen and have so far found no evidence of it happening. This means you lose. Those allows any fabrication of the imagination to be used to force billions of dollars of spending so long as you can find some credentialed so-and-so that will state that “it could happen”. All the logic in the world at that point showing that there is no actual evidence that it actually HAS happened or even WILL happen is moot.

    These people have quite literally gone insane.

  151. talldave2 says:

    [snip -let's not go there -mod]

  152. Mickey Reno says:

    Maybe they’re not as worried about Lewandowsky, specifically as they are about retractions, generally.

  153. Andrew says:

    I’m unsure about the economic damage caused by spending $A 1tr on importing carbon credits from Nigeria (apparently, such experts at developing their clean energy technology that they will not only reduce their emissions by 80% but also have loads spare to sell us).

    I do know that Oz has seen 120,000 people added to the dole queues since the CEF legislation.

    Precautionary principle says if there is any risk of a Great Depression, we must repeal the legislation.

  154. Reed Coray says:

    According to Heisenberg, nature is inherently uncertain. Does that mean there is no limit to the funds we should send to Loopy Lewie? Or does it mean we shouldn’t send him any funds because no amount of funding will remove all uncertainty? I can’t do nothing, because that would be to choose the second option. Woe is me.

  155. Generic Geologist says:

    Leo Geiger says:

    Most people are not gifted with the “absolute certainty” of the typical WUWT blog reader/contributor that (a) green house gas emissions are not a problem and (b) steps to reduce them will destroy the economy. … That’s why people do things like buy fire insurance…

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    A more apt analogy would be: I conducted an experiment to see if my house would indeed burn. I tried 230 times and it would not catch fire. The conclusion? There is something wrong with the matches. Therefore I need fire insurance just to be safe anyway.

  156. John says:

    Lewandowsky sounds insanely paranoid.

  157. Malc says:

    It’s possible that Vogon poetry is actually very good. The uncertainty is enormous. Therefore we must prepare diligently now by stocking the world’s libraries with as much of it as is available

  158. Chip Javert says:

    I’m “uncertain” exactly how the Medieval period started (Rome collapsing didn’t help), but good ole’ human stupidity and superstition were a big part of the mess. This swamp of human misery continued for about 1000 years, until, among otter things, the newly developed scientific method could reliably separate voodoo fiction from fact.

    Lewandowsky and his crowd now propose going back to the dark ages because of “uncertainty”. These fools have zero common sense and their antics make witch doctors and voodoo priests look positively scientific.

    The failure of academia to clean up its Augean stables and shun these fools is stinking up the place…

  159. John in L du B says:

    Morganovich, are you saying it’s precaution all the way down? I thought it was turtles.

  160. ggoodknight says:

    As has been noted, the “Precautionary Principle” is nothing new, having been among Pascal’s thoughts published posthumously and generally referred to as Pascal’s Wager. In short, the bet on God existing has the best expected payoff (and if I may add, if you’re living in a time or place where not believing can get you killed, I’d tend to agree).

    He also left the following for unbelievers struggling with their lack of faith:
    “But at least learn your inability to believe, since reason brings you to this, and yet you cannot believe. Endeavour then to convince yourself, not by increase of proofs of God, but by the abatement of your passions. You would like to attain faith, and do not know the way; you would like to cure yourself of unbelief, and ask the remedy for it. Learn of those who have been bound like you, and who now stake all their possessions. These are people who know the way which you would follow, and who are cured of an ill of which you would be cured. Follow the way by which they began; by acting as if they believed, taking the holy water, having masses said, etc. Even this will naturally make you believe, and deaden your acuteness.”

    The Precautionary Principle, like the earlier version, is religion, not science.

  161. ggoodknight says:

    “I’m “uncertain” exactly how the Medieval period started (Rome collapsing didn’t help), but good ole’ human stupidity and superstition were a big part of the mess. This swamp of human misery continued for about 1000 years, until, among otter things, the newly developed scientific method could reliably separate voodoo fiction from fact”

    Sorry, no, you’re thinking of Hollywood caricatures. The medieval period in Europe was a fairly vibrant period that saw advances in usable technology and increased living standards. You may not think heavy wheeled plows, horse collars, stirrups or waterwheels to be particularly earth shattering, but they were. Try reading “Medieval Technology and Social Change” by UCLA’s Lynn White (1962). It was the abundance created by medieval advances that enabled the Renaissance to flower.

  162. Taking into account the precautionary principle, why do we allow people to move around unprotected on the surface of the Earth? This is, after all, simply an open invitation to get yourself into all sorts of trouble, such as car, bus, and train accidents. And that does not even take into account the chances of being hit by lightning, encountering tornadoes or hurricanes or even being vaporized by mentor strikes. Obviously, a clear-headed understanding of the precautionary principle demands that we all move into the deepest coal mine in West Virginia or perhaps the deepest gold mine in South Africa (for those who insist on absolute safety) and don’t get me started talking about the dangers of jogging, running, walking or swimming!

  163. Interested Observer says:

    In my world, Aerospace, this is a risk management problem. We plot risk/consequences on a 5×5 matrix. Risk being defined as an event that has a probability of driving you off your program baseline in a negative way. The risk is normally stated as an if-then statement: If (risk A) occurs the (Consequence B) will happen. The probability of the risk is ranked 1 to 5 (low to high). The consequence is ranked 1-5 (minor to high). We concentrate on the upper right hand corner for spending money to mitigate risk (high probability/major consequences). We tend not to spend money on low probability risks regardless of consequences because there are so many and the mitigation actions are so expensive. For example, a major earthquake in California would be very disruptive; but, eliminating that risk is impracticable and unaffordable. In our parlance it is a ‘narrow, deep hole.’

    The precautionary principle asks us to consider only the consequences – not the probability of occurrence. That way leads to bankruptcy. Under that logic, think of the major programs vying for funding: asteroid collision with earth, earthquake mitigation, avoidance of emerging diseases, etc

    The climate debate, as I understand it, is founded in a major way on the probability of Global Warming/Climate Disruption caused by CO2 happening and in a minor way on the consequences if it does. The risk probability (will it happen) is a major debate as to whether we (collectively) understand the climate processes well enough to predict the end state at any future point. The consequences debate ranges from ‘catastrophic’ to ‘a little bit of warming is good’ to ‘it is self regulating so don’t worry’ to ‘what is the climate baseline – if one exists.’ The last (what is the baseline?) is intriguing since without a baseline, you can not define the risk.

  164. RobRoy says:

    soarergtl says:
    April 8, 2014 at 7:11 am
    As usual, Lew has discharged both barrels into his own feet.

    By doing so he has eliminated his risk for corns, bunyons, ingrown, toenails, foot odor etc..
    But most importantly, he has saved from any unforeseen foot malady.
    His logic is flawless.

  165. DirkH says:

    pokerguy says:
    April 8, 2014 at 10:32 am
    “Not seeing much about psychology. I see science, economics, and mathematics. What makes you think the paper is about psychology, DirkH”

    Oh. My bad. I thought he’s a psychologist or sociologist. So you’re saying he’s now an expert on science, economics, and mathematics? You’re kidding me, right?

  166. oakwood says:

    The UK’s Guardian newspaper covered this. While this newspaper is routinely scoffed at as ‘leftist nonsense’, I must declare that I am a ‘natural’ Guardian reader. I grew up with this paper – being from an English poltically left-of-centre family – and my parents (close to 80 years old) still read it daily. I continue to sympathise with its general political position, but despair at its complete loss of any sense of reality when it comes to AGW. Thus, I routinely post rational AGW-sceptic comments on its online edition. I am ‘pre-moderated’, and regularly censored by its no-doubt youthful and naive moderators as a ‘troll’. I have often stated to them as such – that I am a life-long Guardian reader/supporter and have every right to declare my position. Anyway, my comments below the Lewandowsky article was as follows, having recieved one of the higher number of votes.
    *****
    “in the case of the climate system, it is very clear that greater uncertainty will make things even worse’
    Climate science is interesting. It seems that whichever way you look at it, its worse than we thought.
    Now, let me see if I can grasp this risk issue. If I leave my house today, I have a risk of being run down by a bus. If I stay at home I don’t. I’d better stay at home then. But if I do that, I have a risk of falling down my stairs. So I’d better leave the house then. Maybe, I’ll just sit on the doorstep.
    ******
    The link:
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2014/apr/04/climate-change-uncertainty-stronger-tackling-case#comment-33981483

  167. DirkH says:

    While trying to find out more about The Big Lewandowsky, I found he and a guy named John Cook are also experts on Science Communication, especially Debunking.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debunker#Backfire_effects
    So much so that the two experts have written a handbook on debunking.
    Science, economics, mathematics, CO2AGW, psychology, science communication, AND debunking; no wonder he is called the BIG Lewandowsky.

  168. DirkH:
    While trying to find out more about The Big Lewandowsky, I found he and a guy named John Cook are also experts on Science Communication, especially Debunking.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debunker#Backfire_effects

    LOL! I see listed with the Notable Debunkers on that Wiki page Penn & Teller!

    http://youtu.be/4v4Q9Wv10Ho hahahahaha!

  169. Tom O says:

    Leo Geiger says:
    April 8, 2014 at 8:34 am
    Tom O says:You are CERTAIN about a particular risk that will lead to a real life threatening occurrence, therefore spend less on it than something that you only have suspicion about but very little information?

    Leo, when you quote me, quote me, don’t cut what YOU want to say out of a post. What you attribute to ME is thepost by the person I was quoting. Either pull your head out of your you know what and read what is said or don’t bother to comment. With regards your OWN comment, I perceive the possibility that the Moon may be hit by an asteroid and parts of it will fall to Earth. The perception of a possibility does not make it a reality, but only a fool would say that raising the cost of living by, say 30 or 40% won’t affect the economic welfare of everyone alive today and into the future. The ONLY way you could “insure” the environment that you believe should exist is to eliminate about 80% of the human population. Understandably, YOU would not, of course, be one of those eliminated because of your eco-conscience.

  170. NikFromNYC says:

    Since the widely accepted threat of sudden and extreme global cooling is even more uncertain, they claim, a massive synthetic greenhouse gas R&D effort should now commence with the Royal Society at the helm. The certainty of furthering a recession that degrades funding for all other sciences is to be obviously disreguarded, for the rise of deadly antibiotic resistance as chemists and biologists go unemployed, that’s too certain to be neurotic about when climate hypochondria is especially warranted now that climate models have worryingly failed.

    The more skeptics popularize alarmist arguments like this, oddly enough the less they want to censor us, eh?

  171. Leo Geiger says:

    Bruce Cobb says: Even if you believe in ManBearPig like Leo Geiger seems to, the economics are resoundingly (50-to-1, at minimum) in favor of adaptation, rather than mitigation.

    Unless you have a time machine, deciding to go that route is effectively another all-in bet that this turns out to be true. The rationale for doing absolutely nothing is near certainty there is no risk, and any avoidance costs will be prohibitive.

    Welcome to settled science *and* settled economics.

  172. Leo Geiger:
    “The rationale for doing absolutely nothing is near certainty there is no risk, and any avoidance costs will be prohibitive.”

    Not at all! The rational for doing absolutely nothing, in my view, is that the signal is not there. That there is too much noise in the data to base action of any kind on, and it’s completely up in the air whether any action taken would have a positive or negative effect.

    There is ALWAYS risk, whether action is taken or not.

  173. Leo Geiger says:

    Tom O says: “What you attribute to ME is thepost by the person I was quoting. Either pull your head out of your you know what and read what is said or don’t bother to comment.”

    Sorry Tom. I copied the first text and then went back up to your (wrong) post for the name. Many people uses italics when quoting others. It helps makes things clearer.

  174. Chip Javert says:

    ggoodknight says:
    April 8, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Sorry, no, you’re thinking of Hollywood caricatures. The medieval period in Europe was a fairly vibrant period that saw advances in usable technology and increased living standards. You may not think heavy wheeled plows, horse collars, stirrups or waterwheels to be particularly earth shattering, but they were. Try reading “Medieval Technology and Social Change” by UCLA’s Lynn White (1962). It was the abundance created by medieval advances that enabled the Renaissance to flower.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Apparently I stand corrected.

    I’m really not arguing your articulated virtues of the medieval period – the point was about the scientific method’s ability to substantially reduce “uncertainty”. While not a silver bullet for all mankind’s ills, Lewandowsky’s willingness to throw this overboard takes us right back to voodoo, magic and witch doctors…and all their consequences.

    After all, what’s a little Black Death among 75-200 million (dead) friends. Constant invasions, Crusades, civil wars, etc were probably a charming way to meet foreign people. Famines ensured highways weren’t overcrowded, and who wouldn’t want to be a surf?

    Granted, if you were in with the “in crowd”, it was probably a great time to be alive…but for the other 99% of the population, well, it was probably highly “uncertain”.

  175. chemman says:

    Leo Geiger
    Most people are not gifted with the “absolute certainty” of the typical WUWT blog reader/contributor that (a) green house gas emissions are not a problem and (b) steps to reduce them will destroy the economy.

    _____________________________________________________________________________
    For the sake of argument I’ll assume that the amount of Human Caused CO2 in the atmosphere is a problem. In order to solve that problem you must reduce the source of that CO2. Since the source is tied up intimately with our economy then removing the source, fossil fuels, will have an absolute deleterious affect on the economy. There is no way around it as this time.

  176. pokerguy says:

    “Oh. My bad. I thought he’s a psychologist or sociologist. So you’re saying he’s now an expert on science, economics, and mathematics? You’re kidding me, right?”

    When in a hole, quit digging. Nowhere in my comments did I say…or by any stretch imply that he was an expert in anything. You argued that the paper was about psychology, which had you paid the slightest attention you’d have realized was incorrect. Now you’re playing the old switcheroo by claiming your argument was about whether or not he’s an expert. You’d make an excellent warmist. Make wildly incorrect statements in an arrogant way, then when you get caught try to wiggle out by changing the terms. Exactly what they do.

  177. Richard says:

    In short Lewd Donsky is a perfect ass.

  178. Lewis P Buckingham says:

    pokerguy says:
    April 8, 2014 at 10:32 am

    2nd paragraph :

    “In two companion papers, published today in Climatic Change, the researchers investigated the mathematics of uncertainty in the climate system and showed that increased scientific uncertainty necessitates even greater action to mitigate climate change.”

    “Not seeing much about psychology. I see science, economics, and mathematics. What makes you think the paper is about psychology, DirkH”
    In the analysis of the written word it is useful to look at the attitude of the writer to his subject as well as his reader.
    In this the psychologist is clearly worried about the consequences of catastrophic change and expects his readers to feel the same and to act as he would act to mitigate the outcome of such predicted change,predicted by the IPCC presumably.

    He clearly is overdue for a holiday.

  179. TheLastDemocrat says:

    The more uncertain we are, the more we should act.
    This is the process of the phobias, OCD, and agoraphobia.
    A little avoidance of fear is rewarded by the behavior. Eventually, you retreat ever-farther from your fear, and end up house-bound, or unable to drive over a bridge at any cost to you.
    Maybe Lew has bridged this psychology observation to the climate.

  180. pokerguy says:

    In this the psychologist is clearly worried about the consequences of catastrophic change and expects his readers to feel the same and to act as he would act to mitigate the outcome of such predicted change,predicted by the IPCC presumably.

    He clearly is overdue for a holiday.
    ***
    Hey Lewis,

    Personally, I think he’s in need of medication :-) Otherwise, I think you’re reaching a bit if you’re trying to argue the paper is “about” psychology. Presumably anyone with an alarmist mindset is by definition worried about catastrophic climate change, and wants his readers to feel the same way. Doesn’t need to be a psychologist to fit that description, and as far as I can make out they’re using mathematics to come to their conclusions concerning risk.

  181. Chip Javert says:

    Leo Geiger says:
    April 8, 2014 at 8:22 am
    Most people are not gifted with the “absolute certainty” of the typical WUWT blog reader/contributor that (a) green house gas emissions are not a problem and (b) steps to reduce them will destroy the economy…

    That’s why people do things like buy fire insurance, spend money on fire extinguishers and smoke detectors, and pay taxes for fire stations. They haven’t dismissed the possibility (not the certainty) of a fire in their house and assign value to those actions.
    ==============================================================

    Good grief.

    There are uncountable numbers of “possible” disasters. Limited resources should be spent mitigating ones considered “probable” (not just “possible”).

    People DO NOT buy fire insurance because it is a “possible” risk – they buy it because they’ve seen someone’s house burn down (i.e. it’s judged to be a “probable” risk). Likewise (at least in the USA), people are highly reluctant to buy elephant stampede insurance.

    This is where science academics are supposed to help, and, at least to date, have miserably failed. Give me a call if you want some elephant stampede insurance.

  182. omegapaladin says:

    I do not see how this paper’s argument could possibly work without crippling assumptions. I’d really like to see the argument on this, because it goes against normal logic to assume that increased uncertainty specifically increases risk. The usual assumption is that the actual value is somewhere in a range, with a probability based on the normal distribution. What is his argument for skewing the distribution high? He would be requiring the confidence interval to go from say +/- 5, to +9 / -1 instead.

    Now, the lazy way out would be to ignore the cost of taking action. If there is no cost to acting on a false alarm, then there is no reason not to take action. This is Pascal’s Wager, in essence – belief in God is an action without cost, so even the slightest chance of Hell is enough to warrant conversion. Now, it is blatantly false to claim that this applies to climate change. There is clearly a cost to measures designed to reduce GHG in the atmosphere, and I would say the fact that they have not been implemented completely is the best evidence of that – if it is a cost-free decision, why not do so? People aren’t supervillains out to destroy the world.

    With that in mind, the paper becomes very hard to understand. False alarms will become more probable as there is more uncertainty, along with black swan catastrophes. If the risk bottoms out at the bottom of the range, the costs of false alarm should skyrocket. Can anyone that has actually red the paper tell me more?

  183. Bruce Cobb says:

    Leo Geiger says:
    April 8, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Unless you have a time machine, deciding to go that route is effectively another all-in bet that this turns out to be true. The rationale for doing absolutely nothing is near certainty there is no risk, and any avoidance costs will be prohibitive.

    Welcome to settled science *and* settled economics.

    Wrong again. The burden of proof is on the doomsayers. The first inconvenient fact for Warmists is that nothing out of the ordinary is happening, climate-wise. The second one is that no connection between manmade CO2 and the slight warmup during the 80’s and 90’s has ever been made. Warmists don’t have a leg to stand on, thus there is no rationale for doing anything. Spending $trillions to “prevent climate change” would have no effect on climate whatsoever. But mankind would be considerably worse off for it.

  184. clipe says:

    Recursive amusement: Comedic ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on taxpayer-funded-fraud.

  185. Oscar Bajner says:

    So your model ensemble gives you a range of temp increases for a doubling of CO2, say
    1 – 4 deg C.
    But hey, we are “uncertain” re the exact parameters, so range could be 1 – 6 deg C.
    But hey, hey, we are absolutely certain the “uncertainty” is restricted to upside, not downside,
    so range can go up, but never down, like a rev counter that starts at 1 and goes to infinity.

    Hey hey hey, Lew and Dowsky do the math and presto, look everybody, see how if the number
    can only go up, the number is likely to go up.
    The climate science TM constellation is a brilliant one!

    Uncertainty principle says that given an action which may be harmful, AND no scientific consensus regarding the action’s harm, then the burden of proof is inverted so that those
    who wish to undertake the action must prove it non-harmful.

    Whenever I come across people who want to invert (Hey mikey, here’s looking at Tiljander kid)
    things for no good reason, then I know there’s a pig in that poke.

    Upside Down Mann (Homo Inverterus)

  186. Third PArty says:

    How is Lewandowsky different from a political party push pollster (other than being called perfesser)?

    All he seems to do is run small sample polls of dubious design and then torture his data to get a result that he likes.

  187. Pedro Oliveira says:

    The worst possible outcome is that we spend billions preventing CAGW for nothing. As seems increasingly likely.

  188. anengineer says:

    If Stephan Lewandowsky is correct that “the more uncertain you are about risk, the more you should spend to contain the risk” then the proper course of action to totally mitigate the global warming / climate change / climate variation is an 80% reduction is anthropomorphic emissions. Since it is increasing apparent that technological approaches are incapable of achieving the required reduction in per capita, then a compensating reduction of the population to required level of approximately 1 billion should be immediately implemented. I am sure Lewandowsky would approve.

  189. Skiphil says:

    Not only does the Lewandowsky et al. approach to “uncertainty” give them carte blanche to spend trillions of dollars in re-shaping the world to their preferences, but they have previously announced that they aim at …. “Shaping” …. “Tomorrow’s” …. “World” ….

    So what skeptic could possibly be sufficiently grandiose in “conspiracy ideation” to deal with people who have already announced their explicit intentions to (re-)shape the entire world??

    [the following is cross-posted with Climate Audit]:

    A general point that I have not seen emphasized (I may have missed it): Lewandowsky et al. interfered massively and pervasively in the materials of their “research” by first founding a blog with the grandiose title “Shaping Tomorrow’s World”…. They announce that they intend to shape (re-shape) the world, then pretending that they had not provoked the very critical responses they pretend to “study”….

    Merely that title, never mind the many vitriolic and alarm-oriented screeds which they published there before and during their so-called research, propounds their comprehensive goal of…..

    “shaping” …… “tomorrow’s” ……. “WORLD”

    So first Lewandowsky, Cook, Skeptical Science moderators, et al. issue declarations of their intent to “shape” the very “world” in which we all live.

    Then they attempt a study which is supposed to be scientific analyzing critical responses to their own grandiose pomposity.

    Talk about injecting themselves and their ideas into their own subject of study, and then pretending to “research” the critical responses.

  190. Lil Fella from OZ says:

    Fear and doubt, two factors man does not cope well with. So Lewandowsky plays on it! How pathetic!

  191. Gunga Din says:

    I think it’s obvious that we need to devote all of our resources into perfecting a second-hand-smoking gun to repel the aliens in the UFOs that are causing space-weather climate change to bring Planet X into a collision course with Earth so they can mine the fragments to make the Illudium Q-36 explosive space modulator which they will require to conquer Venus from Mars.
    Of course, I might be wrong but all the more reason to do it.
    We might even all get really neat second-hand-smoking jackets out it! But I can’t be certain.
    (Do i need a sarc tag? I’m not sure.)

  192. dbstealey says:

    anengineer:

    No doubt Lew would be one of the first voulunteers to be ‘implemented’…

    [/sarc. <-- just in case]

  193. Gunga Din says:

    I’m pretty sure the aliens like boiling oceans.
    (DANG! There goes my theory!)

  194. Eric Worrall says:

    Leo Geiger
    Equating main stream science with alien abduction is just a round about way of saying you are absolutely certain there is no risk. Either that, or you believe there is a realistic probability of being abducted by aliens.

    Most people do not share that kind of absolute certainty.

    I am not saying there is zero chance Climate Change might be an issue.

    What I am saying is I prefer to worry about problems for which there is supporting evidence.

    For example, it is possible to construct convincing models which “prove” that Earth might be closely monitored by potentially hostile aliens.

    Consider the current science of nanotechnology. It is not unreasonable to extrapolate current technology by a few decades into the future, and postulate that it will shortly become possible to build useful space probes the size of a grain of sand, or smaller. Space probes that small could be accelerated to near light speed for a fraction of the cost of a full size probe, using something which resembles a giant nuclear accelerator, or other technology such as light sails.

    We even know how such probes could be steered and even slowed down when they reached their destination, using the galactic magnetic field. Within a century at most, we will be able to send sand grain size probes to every one of the galaxy’s 100 million stars, at trivial economic cost, and have them arrive at all of their destinations over the next 200,000 years or so.

    So if there is just one alien species in the galaxy, which reached our level of technology at least 200,000 years ago, they are already here.

    So why don’t I lose sleep about my compelling hypothetical model of alien invasion? The reason is that my alien invasion model, however scary, is not backed by any evidence.

    Just like models of dangerous anthropogenic climate change are not backed by any evidence, that the hypothesised dangerous changes are actually occurring.

  195. A.D. Everard says:

    Next it’s going to be Lew is right because he is uncertain. Then they’ll all get on the bandwagon. Uncertainty will become the new proof. 97% of his pals will be certain of it… ooops!

    Hey, maybe they will begin the 97% are uncertain, because up is down and it pays to be sure.

  196. John Whitman says:

    From the paper ‘Scientific uncertainty and climate change (in two parts)’ by Lewandowsky et al (2014)

    “Summary,

    Increasing uncertainty in the climate system compels a greater urgency for climate change mitigation, according to new research. Scientists have shown that as uncertainty in the temperature increase expected with a doubling of carbon dioxide from pre-industrial levels rises, so do the economic damages of increased climate change. Greater uncertainty also increases the likelihood of exceeding ‘safe’ temperature limits and the probability of failing to reach mitigation targets. The authors highlight this with the case of future sea level, as larger uncertainty in sea level rise requires greater precautionary action to manage flood risk.”

    – – – – – – – – – –

    Lewandowsky is refuted by his own findings in the paper. Since he is certain of his conclusions then they are not considered (by his own findings in the paper) to be a high risk and therefore should not get any significant priority for government / cultural actions. Conversely , by the findings in his own paper, if he didn’t have certainty of his conclusions in those papers then they would be represent higher risk and would require highest priority for action by governments and culture.

    My CONCLUSION wrt the paper ‘Scientific uncertainty and climate change (in two parts)’ by Lewandowsky et al (2014): I think that Lewandowsky et al are perfectly irrational intellectuals of the variety caused by post-modern philosophy/science and also caused by post-normal science.

    Lewandowsky requests us to be intellectually irrational for the sake of our children and grand-children.

    John

  197. jones says:

    Richard, thank you for the Harrison Ford documentary.

    Would this be the same Harrison Ford who said this………………..?……………..”I’m so passionate about flying I often fly up the coast for a cheeseburger.”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1251762/Harrison-Ford-I-love-flying-planes-riding-bikes-Thats-Ive-got-of-nine.html

    http://blog.seattlepi.com/people/archives/195703.asp

  198. rogerknights says:

    Leo Geiger:

    “Equating main stream science with alien abduction is just a round about way of saying you are absolutely certain there is no risk. Either that, or you believe there is a realistic probability of being abducted by aliens.

    Most people do not share that kind of absolute certainty.”

    This line of thinking is moot, because unilateral action is futile and the developing world won’t reduce its ever-increasing emissions.

  199. Skiphil says:

    Another perspective on grandiose plans for “Shaping Tomorrow’s World” —

    a different example, related to my previous comment above:

    Karl Marx famously said, ““The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.”

    (from “Theses on Feuerbach”)

    These words are even inscribed on his gravestone.

    Now suppose that Marx or any of his followers had started railing against anyone who objected to their plan to “change” the world by publishing pseudo-scientific “research” in psychology journals etc. (well had such existed at that time…during most of the 19th century psychology was still treated pretty much as un-empirical philosophy)

    Suppose such Marxist psychologists had raged that anyone who objected to their grandiose plans to “change” the world must be in the grip of “conspiracist ideation” with delusions of “nefarious intent” … “unreflexive counterfactual thinking” …. “must be wrong” …. “nihilistic skepticism” …. “nothing by accident” …. etc.

    My oh my, such Marxian psychologists would have a field day giving pseudo-psychological explanations for every form of intellectual and scientific criticism of their plans.

  200. John craig says:

    Better leave the car at home. You might crash.

  201. Zeke says:

    Lewandowsky says, “Greater uncertainty also increases the likelihood of exceeding ‘safe’ temperature limits and the probability of failing to reach mitigation targets. The authors highlight this with the case of future sea level, as larger uncertainty in sea level rise requires greater precautionary action to manage flood risk.””

    What a coincidence: Green Noah

    Director Darren Aronofsky on Noah: “Noah is out saving the animals. He’s not out saving innocent babies. He’s saving the animals. He’s saving creation. In Genesis2:15, the first thing that God tells Adam to do is to tend and to keep the garden. It’s right there in Genesis. So it was very clear to us that there was an environmental message, and to pull that message out of it, we think, would have been more of an editing job than just presenting what was there.”
    Aronofsky also spoke of the dangers of climate change in the modern era, bringing up the U.N.’s recent report and telling Amanpour, “We are living the second chance that was given to Noah.”

  202. dbstealey says:

    Skiphil comments on Lew’s fixation on ‘shaping tomorrow’s world’.

    This is basically the idea that government knows best, and it is at the root of most of our problems.

    The gov’t is in reality just a clique of wannabe social engineers, who make decisions that they believe [maybe even sincerely] will improve society. But if so, they are hopelessly deluded.

    Consider that every person in this country [≈315 million] makes many thousands of decisions each day, from small to large; from swatting a mosquito to investing in a 401-K. These decisions are interactive with the decisions of others, and also with what each person learns through the media, through observation, etc.

    Further, these are not just computer binary decisions of 0 or 1. No, each decision is prioritized constantly by every individual, and each decision is constantly adjusted. Some people call this the economy, but it is far more than that.

    Think about that collective decision-making as a huge quantum supercomputer, with millions of qubits. There is no possible way that a limited entity like ‘government’ can make decisions anywhere near as good for society. Only society can make the best decisions. Government is not society; government gets in the way of the efficient working of society.

    That is the basic problem with allowing government to control the economy, or to get involved with pernicious laws, such as passing subsidies for ‘green’ energy, bailing out banks, etc. Government cannot possibly do it as well as society can. Government only gets in the way, and makes society sclerotic.

    Government is also composed primarily of self-serving individuals, who craft rules with one thought, and one priority in mind: how will this benefit me?

    That does not help society, it only helps the Lewandowskys of the world. They do not want the best supercomputer ever made to prioritize things and make them efficient, they simply want to be our dictators. When you find out what kind of a reprobate Lewandowsky is, ask yourself: Is this the guy I would want controlling my life??

  203. rogerknights says:

    Leo Geiger says:
    April 8, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Tom O says: “What you attribute to ME is thepost by the person I was quoting. Either pull your head out of your you know what and read what is said or don’t bother to comment.”

    Sorry Tom. I copied the first text and then went back up to your (wrong) post for the name. Many people uses italics when quoting others. It helps makes things clearer.

    Blockquote tags are even better.

  204. Skiphil says:

    dbstealy,

    Excellent comments, and in addition to the thousands of specific decisions made by each person daily, one cannot even estimate the vast number of non-decisions available to each person daily…. i.e., the numbers for all the possible actions which are not even consciously considered, but which still must factor into any comprehensive “decision tree” of all possible choices, reaches numbers that are truly ….. astronomical …. even for one individual. All the social engineers ala Lewandowsky simply have no conception of how vast the possibilities are once one tries to take account of all the millions (billions) of individuals who can potentially interact daily, weekly, annually etc. Ofc, to the Lewandowskys of the world more complexity or “uncertainty” is supposed to be a reason for MORE central control not less…..

  205. Bruce Cobb says:

    We do risk cooling, however. If we’re lucky, we’ll get off with a relatively painless drop, back, say to 70s-era, but it could be much worse. Fortunately, the best way to prepare for it is healthy, vibrant economies powered by cheap, reliable energy. Win-win.

  206. Goldie says:

    Not sure what he is doing in this topic area since he has not qualifications or expertise. Their logic is a little odd as far as I can see. Their basic premise seems to be that greater uncertainty increases the likelihood of higher impacts. Well that’s an “interesting” take on probability.

    Assuming, for the sake of sanity, that uncertainty can be described in terms of a broader spread of standard deviations around a projected mean this does not increase the likelihood of higher impacts only increases the magnitude of possible impacts. However, by the same token it also increases the spread of “impacts” below the mean so for example if mean climate sensitivity is (say) 3 with a standard deviation of 0.5 then two standard deviations either side of the mean suggests that climate sensitivity has a reasonable probability of being with 2 to 4. If we change the uncertainty to (say) 1 then the spread of 2 standard deviations changes to suggest that climate sensitivity would be between 1 and 5. I suppose, in the twisted corner of the world that is Lewandosky’s mind this increases the probability of higher impacts, however, it also increases the probability of lower impacts, but they wouldn’t want to mention that.

    Now consider the precautionary principle as coined in the Rio Declaration – The lack of full scientific certainty should not preclude taking actions to reduce impacts in the future. All well and good provided you don’t have fruit loops instead of neurons in your brain. Unfortunately, as you say, there are lots of potential disasters facing the Earth for which we lack certainty. I’d like to say that the authors of the Rio Declaration did not have this in mind, but I don’t think that is true. Unfortunately the World Governments had already been assimilated in the alien green movement know in Australia as “Earthians”.

  207. thingadonta says:

    The paper from Lewandonsky is one of the dumbest I have ever seen. But one should point out that the increase in uncertainty is in the direction of LOWER climate sensitivity and impacts, meaning his argument of increased risk and effects is a sleight of hand.

  208. David Riser says:

    I think the science is getting more certain not less. Its becoming very apparent that CO2 has limited impact on the climate as it (CO2) steadily climbs and the temp stays even. Its even more obvious that climate models have no skill at prediction at all and are in need of a complete rewrite. The climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 is certainly less than 1.5C. Finally a rise in temperature of upward of 2 degrees C would continue benefits we are already receiving due to Natural warming. These things are accepted by scientists looking at the best data we have available, which is better than what we understood 17 years ago.
    From a risk management perspective we have to look at all risks and take action on those risks that give the best return on investment. In order to do that you have to know that what your going to do is going to work and that you have the resources to perform it. If we were to try and prevent every risk and used the uncertainty principle in many cases we would have to guard against the possibility of opposite outcomes, for example CAGW causing extreme warming and or extreme cooling. Spending money on uncertain outcomes has to be the dumbest thing anyone could ever do. Fire extinguishers are not an example of this, the outcome of a fire is not uncertain. The likely hood of a fire is low on a per house basis but that has nothing to do with the outcome of a fire. A fire extinguisher properly used leads to a significant savings. The same cannot be said for unspecified, untested and uncertain “action” against CAGW.

  209. Bulldust says:

    I am starting to suspect Lewandowsky is perfoming an elaborate trolling spanning several years. Surely he will unveil his grand machivellian charade some day soon? Surely universities would not employ someone genuinely unhinged? It must be an illusion…

  210. Louis says:

    I am very uncertain of the risk Lewandosky poses to the world. That is because although I see no reason why anyone would give him credence, history tells me there are many in power who will believe him because they agree with his message. Therefore, due to this uncertain risk, much more should be spent to contain him. /sarc

  211. Eric Worrall says:

    Here’s a good one :-)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boltzmann_brain

    The Boltzmann paradox suggests that Boltzmann brains – bizarre alien entities which appear at random out of thermodynamic noise – should be far more common than organised universes full of stars, planets and people.

    Let me explain. Thermodynamics, the concept that entropy always increases, that hot objects heat cold objects, is actually a stochastic phenomenon. There is an incredibly tiny but nevertheless non zero chance that a cold object could heat a hot object.

    This concept is invoked to explain the existence of our universe. One theory of how our universe came to exist, is that it is the product of an incredibly unlikely reversal of entropy, a winding back of the thermodynamic clock, on a vast scale.

    The key to the concept of Boltzmann brains, is that such a large scale reversal of entropy, such as may have been the cause of the formation of our universe, is incredibly, unimaginably unlikely – so unlikely, that the probability of such a fluctuation creating a bizarre alien Boltzmann brain is actually significantly higher than the probability that such a fluctuation would create a large scale organised universe like the one we inhabit.

    So science tells us that for every universe like ours, there should be uncountable “mini” universes composed of unimaginably alien entities floating in featureless high entropy environments.

    The only way for such alien entities to survive, if they obey anything remotely resembling our laws of physics, would be for them to find a way to feed on lower entropy energy sources – such as our universe. So if there is any way for such an entity to reach out to our spacetime, to feed, then such entities should exist – and be accessible in some way.

    Stephen Hawking once summed this up in a talk he gave – “Cthulhu might really exist” (from memory, he mentioned it in “a brief history of time”). Some spoilsports have since done some theoretical work which suggests Hawking might have been wrong, but hey, it makes a good story.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21829184.400-string-theory-may-limit-space-brain-threat.html#.U0SdCq2SyWU

    Perhaps we should be worried – all that uncertainty :-)

  212. Jeef says:

    A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, I’ve heard. Lewandowsky is, by this criteria, very dangerous.

  213. Ray Boorman says:

    Lewandowski is an idiot, & there are lots of lovely comments above, but it seems none of you took the time to read the item at Jo Nova’s. There, you would have seen that at the bottom she mentioned that the article was tagged as “parody and/or satire”!!!

    You have been had, big time.

  214. Ray Boorman says:

    Jo let her readers, including me, in on the secret only after a bunch of people had commented. It seems we all should learn to check items at the source before we go off half-cocked. And at Jo’s site, we should take note of how she categorises each item she posts.

  215. clipe says:

    Ray Boorman says:
    April 8, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    Lewandowski is an idiot, & there are lots of lovely comments above, but it seems none of you took the time to read the item at Jo Nova’s. There, you would have seen that at the bottom she mentioned that the article was tagged as “parody and/or satire”!!!

    You have been had, big time.

    You are confusing JoNova with Scientists unmask the climate uncertainty monster

  216. Gerry says:

    .. and of course, some insecure atheist has to belch …

  217. Gary Pearse says:

    Disgraceful. What in world is a psychologist (of sorts) doing writing a paper on risk and uncertainty!!! Where are the climate scientists out there. I’ll tell you all what is wrong with the way the consensus herd communicates. Butchers, bakers, candlestick makers and psychologists put out their totally idiotic crap on global warming and we don’t get any response from the clisci warming proponents. If it supports the meme, it doesn’t seem to matter. Here’s a bulletin for all you fellows: it’s precisely this attitude and your silence in the face of all this and your acceptance of smears and thuggish threatening behavior by the fringe of supporters.

    Take a leaf from Anthony Watts’s notebook on dealing with those that violate the bounds ethical behavior, thuggish smears threats and ad hominems, palsie reviews of scientific articles… regardless of whether the perp is a CAGW proponent or a skeptic. To tolerate and worse, encourage and even support giving awards to fraud artists, thieves, collusionists, those who egregiously cherry pick from populations of data, gatekeepers and character assassins just because they are on the “same side as you” is what is wrong with your communicating to the public. If Trenberth, or Mann, or Wigley, or Jones or…. stepped forward and said this is unacceptable behavior, they would have made a huge stride in communications. The bad guys are diluting your message. The company you keep is its own communication to the public.

    Maybe even state that this skeptic or that has a point now and again, like the points about the importance of natural variations, quiet sun, El Ninos, PDO, AMO that you ungraciously purloined from skeptical scientists. That is perhaps expecting far too much, but what a high quality communication that would be. You don’t need communications consultants, you maybe just have to remember what your grandparents probably said about this kind of behavior. Start by straightening out Lewandowski he is not a friend of yours.

  218. Leo Geiger says:

    Eric Worrall says: “I am not saying there is zero chance Climate Change might be an issue….The reason is that my alien invasion model, however scary, is not backed by any evidence. Just like models of dangerous anthropogenic climate change are not backed by any evidence.

    You are saying, very clearly, that you believe there is no evidence that greenhouse gas emissions might be a problem. To the point where main stream science can be compared to alien invasions and all kinds of other things so completely improbable they can be ignored.

    In other words, the range of possible future temperature increases that might be caused by doubling atmospheric greenhouse gases (which we are well on our way to doing) excludes anything we need to worry about. It is not just saying that we don’t know if it might be an issue. Once you consciously decide to keep going down the road of increasing emissions, you are implicitly betting that it is not going to be an issue.

    This is a huge bet, and you are going ‘all in’. You do that when you are virtually certain, otherwise you’d hedge. You aren’t hedging. That is certainty. That is saying effectively zero chance it is an issue, zero chance main stream science might have some merit. ‘Alien invasion’ zero chance.

    Main stream science appears to be a little more circumspect, yielding possible temperature increases that range from potentially manageable at the low end to very likely unmanageable at the high end. Not certainty, but enough evidence and a wide enough range of potential consequences to suggest some risk management now would be wise.

  219. Eric Worrall says:

    Leo Geiger
    Eric Worrall says: “I am not saying there is zero chance Climate Change might be an issue….The reason is that my alien invasion model, however scary, is not backed by any evidence. Just like models of dangerous anthropogenic climate change are not backed by any evidence.”

    You are saying, very clearly, that you believe there is no evidence that greenhouse gas emissions might be a problem. To the point where main stream science can be compared to alien invasions and all kinds of other things so completely improbable they can be ignored.

    Why is an alien invasion any less probable than the possibility we are causing dangerous climate change? In both cases, it is possible to construct a compelling model which suggests that dangerous climate change, or alien invasion, might be happening, such as my nanotech probe extrapolation model, or the Boltzmann brain hypothesis.

    What is missing from all of these scenarios, climate change and alien invasion, is actual evidence that there is a problem.

    Compare that to say the probability we will be struck by a dangerous meteor – we have actual evidence that meteors may at some point in the future cause tremendous loss of life, possibly in our lifetimes, such as the half megaton meteor explosion which occurred recently over Russia – thankfully a near miss rather than a city busting disaster.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/02/14/large-meteor-in-russia-caught-on-tape/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chelyabinsk_meteor

    Yet meteor monitoring, let alone research into measures which might be useful to deflect a dangerous meteor before it hits, gets at most a few million dollars budget every year.

    On the scale of prioritisation of scarce resources, I suggest we start with threats we can actually measure.

  220. Ray Boorman says:

    Egg on my face it seems. I have just followed the links to Bristol University’s website, & unless Lewandowski is pulling a late April Fool’s joke on everybody, or has deliberately published a false paper as part of his “research” into “denier conspiracist ideation”, he actually believes the c**p he has written.

  221. Rob Ricket says:

    Leo,
    Why is it a huge bet when the IPCC admits they haven’t a clue if clouds are a positive or negative feedback mechanism?

    Why is Eric accused of being all in when you conveniently failed to mention the growing support for adaptation strategies over mitigation strategies?

    Why is Eric all in when, when historical reconstructions (before the crimes of Mann) clearly indicate a warmer planet a scant 1000 years ago?

    Why are you supporting a trash paper that basically says; the less we know the more we should act?

    Perhaps you’re projecting here Leo, but, it seems to me that you’re the one who is all in. All in for less, all in for death,

  222. lee says:

    My new CAGW insurance. For the nominal sum of $100/month I will insure you. On accepted proof of you suffering from a CAGW event, you will receive your money back. Trust me.
    Payable by direct deposit only to my Seychelles account.
    Problem solved. Uncertainty removed.

  223. clipe says:

    Ray Boorman says:
    April 8, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    Egg on my face it seems

    Yes. Click on Tags: Satire&Parody

    http://joannenova.com.au/2014/04/how-to-convert-me-to-your-new-religion-of-global-warming-in-14-easy-steps/

  224. Leo Geiger says:

    Eric Worrall says: “What is missing from all of these scenarios, climate change and alien invasion, is actual evidence that there is a problem.”

    What is missing is any uncertainty in your mind that *you* might be wrong about that complete lack of evidence for climate change. Not even a hint of doubt. Just an unwavering certainty that main stream science is so completely, utterly wrong, doubling GHG in the atmosphere is as safe as betting against an alien invasion.

  225. Eric Worrall says:

    Leo Geiger
    What is missing is any uncertainty in your mind that *you* might be wrong about that complete lack of evidence for climate change. Not even a hint of doubt. Just an unwavering certainty that main stream science is so completely, utterly wrong, doubling GHG in the atmosphere is as safe as betting against an alien invasion.

    Great – what is your evidence that dangerous climate change is occurring? And please don’t say something tiresome like “because everyone thinks it is” – I’m looking for an actual, measurable quantity.

  226. Eric Worrall says:

    lee
    My new CAGW insurance. For the nominal sum of $100/month I will insure you. On accepted proof of you suffering from a CAGW event, you will receive your money back. Trust me.
    Payable by direct deposit only to my Seychelles account.
    Problem solved. Uncertainty removed.

    Maybe I was wrong, I think I’m suffering a climate related disaster. It is yet another sunny hot day here in Hervey Bay, Australia. My wife is threatening to make me buy an air conditioner… :-)

  227. Colorado Wellington says:

    … can we be absolutely certain Earth is not being observed by malevolent alien beings?

    We know we are being observed by Lewandowsky.

  228. Eric Worrall says:

    Ray Boorman
    Egg on my face it seems. I have just followed the links to Bristol University’s website, & unless Lewandowski is pulling a late April Fool’s joke on everybody, or has deliberately published a false paper as part of his “research” into “denier conspiracist ideation”, he actually believes the c**p he has written.

    Don’t worry Ray, I had to check the source as well – even in these in my opinion scientifically degenerate times, I found it difficult to believe such a paper had been published.

  229. Bill Parsons says:

    There is nothing wrong with the precautionary principle, as long as it is applied reasonably to reasonable problems. But anticipating “reason” from Lewandowsky is like sniffing unwashed feet in expectation of eau de cologne. Is anybody really surprised?

  230. Colorado Wellington says:

    TerryS says:
    April 8, 2014 at 7:15 am

    If the more uncertain you are about a risk the more you should spend to contain then the opposite must also be true.

    Therefore the more certain you are about a risk the less you should spend to contain it. So once we become certain about climate change risks we can stop spending any money on it.

    You got it. That is Lewandowsky’s “Confession Trick”. He wants you to say:

    “OK, I’m certain we are causing a catastrophic climate change. Now, go way.”

    And he’ll shout: “Tricked you! Got you to confess! I’m not going away!”

    What a crafty little devil.

  231. Chad Wozniak says:

    There is NO uncertainty as to the harm that is done by global warming alarmism and policies driven by it, and we should damn well be afraid of that CERTAINTY and act on that fear, if we don’t want our livelihoods and our freedoms taken from us and civilization as we know it destroyed..

  232. bushbunny says:

    What unknown? Maybe unknown to him et al. So they can’t predict the weather anymore eh?
    One thing for sure when nature turns nasty, there is very little we can do other than run and hide.
    These alarmists sound like the same people who thought Hitler was an OK guy! Or some medieval mob mentality, that used witchcraft or alleged witchcraft to blame them for some natural catastrophe, and hanged them. There was one example in England, a wise woman helped cure a neighbor’s pigs from some disease. Instead of thanking her, they killed her for practicing witchcraft.

  233. bushbunny says:

    It is so annoying that so much time and money over the last decade has been put into trying to change the climate. And blaming humans for nasty weather events. What new weather event have we not experienced in the last 100 years. Storms,famines, floods, snow and ice, drought, bush fires, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and tsunamis. And disease and wars of course.
    Anyway Anthony you stick it to ‘em.

  234. DanMet'al says:

    Unfortunately, I think it’s worse than we thought!

    Psychologists, including Lewandowsky, throw around words like “uncertainty” without understanding their mathematical/statistical meaning or their relationship to the concept of risk. In engineering, , risk is a function of likelihood of an event and the magnitude of associated negative impacts/consequences of the event. Simplistically, R = P * I, where R = Risk, P = Probability of occurrence, and I = Impact. In this engineering approach, uncertainty has no role except to direct research to fill knowledge gaps (i.e., better define the scenario and better judge P and I. . . and therefore, Risk).

    Lewandowsky argues that lack of knowledge drives the need for action. No! Large impact of a potential adverse event drives action, but only when it has a reasonable probability of occurrence. And even then, sound policy (decision-making) requires that the event risk be judged against other potential competing scenarios.

    For climate change some of the competing negative might consequences include (1) Extreme CAGW doom related to improbably high climate sensitivity; (2) Economic & energy disruption due to CAWG mitigation policies etc. imposed on a climate with low sensitivity; or (3) nothing that can’t be handled via adaptation in the intermediate case. You can assign the probabilities for these three scenarios!

    Dan

  235. Soren F says:

    One of this morning’s news here in Denmark is how a sizable fraction of Americans can’t locate Ukraine on a world map, and that this same fraction favors NATO intervention there. Lewandowsky would seem to be with them.

  236. bushbunny says:

    Well we are uncertain about future climate and weather all the time. Radars can give us a few hours warning regarding an approaching cyclone or bad thunderstorm, flooding rivers. I don’t know where the Paroo river is, there is always warning about it flooding. Maybe they should erect a levy around it. But even with this uncertainty and a bad storm heading towards your region, they often bi pass at the last minute. But to take precautions before the event happens is totally illogical, when you don’t know what that event will be.

  237. Tom in Florida says:

    I suppose that we all should be taking daily doses of antibiotics. It is a fact that bacterial infections can cause us harm so why not take the precautionary stance to prevent these infections before they start.

  238. philjourdan says:

    @Tom in Florida – Re: Monsters on Maple Street.

    It starred Claude Akins if my memory has not failed me yet. A very good episode that had an impact on me even then.

  239. Bruce Cobb says:

    Clearly, what is missing from True Believers like Leo is the ability to think rationally.
    He just can’t grasp the concept that the burden of proof is entirely on the Alarmists, and they have failed miserably. Their models have failed, and nothing they have predicted has come true. Consequently, they need to continually invent “new-and-improved” models, and excuses for why the old ones didn’t work. The obvious reason is that they aren’t based on reality. They are fundamentall and fatally flawed.
    But, the Leo Geigers have a desperate, pathetic need to continue to Believe, desperately clutching at the straw that it “might” still be true. Because, giving up a Belief system is tough. It’s hard on the ego, accepting the idea that you’ve been played for a fool.

  240. MojoMojo says:

    The CAGW cry used to be “OMG its worse than we thought!”
    Now that temps have paused and the climate model predictions have proven to be worthless,
    its “OMG its worse than we DIDNT think!”

  241. Leo Geiger says:

    Eric Worrall:

    In short: You’re not sayin’, you’re just sayin’.

    You’re not saying the science is settled, that there is no uncertainty, that there is ‘zero chance’. You’re just saying that doubling GHG in the atmosphere is as safe as betting against an alien invasion…

    Great – what is your evidence that dangerous climate change is occurring? And please don’t say something tiresome like “because everyone thinks it is” – I’m looking for an actual, measurable quantity.

    Asking someone to prove climate science in the comments to a blog? When they decline to undertake that Sisyphean labour, don’t make the mistake of thinking “see, they can’t, because there is no evidence”.

    I think it is passed time we move on. Thank you for the discussion. The last word is yours, if you want it.

  242. chuckarama says:

    Mmm. Sounds like solid cognitive science, as it reads at sciencedaily.com anyways. There’s math and everything involved.

  243. David S says:

    It is indeed fortunate for all of us that 97% of scientists understand that global warming is real that its caused by co2 and we are all going to fry. With this level of certainty according to the Lewandowsky principal we don’t have to spend money on it . We only have to spend oodles on risks that are uncertain. I don’t know who is the bigger moron , the person who writes this stuff or the ones who publish it.

  244. Randy says:

    The fact he is taken seriously by anyone at all strikes me as orwellian.

  245. Eric Worrall says:

    Leo Geiger
    Eric Worrall:

    In short: You’re not sayin’, you’re just sayin’.

    You’re not saying the science is settled, that there is no uncertainty, that there is ‘zero chance’. You’re just saying that doubling GHG in the atmosphere is as safe as betting against an alien invasion…

    No, I am saying that in the absence of any observational evidence that either GHG or alien invasion is an issue, there is no reason to give greater credibility to the theory GHG is a serious threat, than to the theory that alien invasion is a threat.

    Compare the hypothesised risk of GHG to the very real risk that a meteor strike will at some point in the next few centuries cause a serious loss of life, and the difference should be obvious – unlike GHG scares, the meteor theory is backed by some serious observational evidence, such as the near miss at Chelyabinsk, which caused thousands of injuries, but thankfully not large scale loss of life.

  246. bushbunny says:

    Tom don’t that is only useful if you have a bacterial infection. LOL. But it is true, that living in a persistent cold temperature your body to maintain a good immune system you shouldn’t chill. Eat more fat and carbohydrates in winter. Anyway I have to go, and get some food.

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