"…somebody had to say it"

Dr. Judith Curry writes about the UCAR meeting she attended:

Some insight into the dynamics that resulted in a substantial change in emphasis in climate research is provided by a meeting that I attended earlier this week in Boulder:  the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) Annual Members Meeting.  An overview of UCAR is provided at Wikipedia

The nutshell of Crow’s presentation is this:

A + B = C

  • A:  scientific and disciplinary knowledge
  • B:  impacts of A, communication of A and impacts, and translation A for policy makers
  • C:  policy

Crow argued that the emphasis needs to be on B, which requires an entirely new structure for universities.

Whereas I had suffered silently through all this, after the panel discussion, I had to make a statement.  Here is my general recollection of what I said:

A plus B most emphatically does NOT equal C.   A+B=C represents the linear, “truth to power” model of decision making that has been known for decades NOT to work for complex environmental problems.

Decision making associated with the issues of climate and global change can be characterized as decision making under deep uncertainty.  The deep uncertainty is associated with our reliance on projections from climate models, which are loaded with uncertainties and do not adequately treat natural climate variability.  Further substantial areas of ignorance remain in our basic understanding of some of the relevant phyiscal, chemical and dynamical processes.

If we as scientists are not humble about the uncertainties and areas of ignorance, we have an enormous capacity to mislead decision makers and point them in the direction of poor policies.  Uncertainty is essential information for decision makers.

Climate scientists have this very naive understanding of the policy process, which is aptly described by the A+B=C model in the context of the precautionary principle.  This naive understanding is reflected in the palpable frustration of many climate scientists at the failure of the “truth” as they “know” it to influence global and national energy and climate policy.  This frustration has degenerated into using to word “denier” to refer to anyone who disagrees with them on either the science or the policy solution.

The path that we seem to be on, whereby the science is settled and all we need is better communication and translation of the science to policy makers, not only has the potential to seriously mislead decision makers, but also to destroy atmospheric and climate science in the process.

There was applause.  Not a standing ovation, but applause from a substantial segment of the 200+ audience.

There were several other interesting comments in the discussion.  One person brought up the point that the U.S. land grant universities had a long tradition of working with decision makers in the context of agricultural extension, etc. Another person put up a new equation, something like this:

C = A + B + X(AB)**n + f(C)

which, to the extent an equation like this is useful, much better reflects the actual decision making process than A+B=C.

At the break, close to 20 people came up to me to thank me for what I said, “somebody had to say it,”  and few others who liked what I said but seemed to be hearing this kind of an idea for the first time (I of course steered them to judithcurry.com)

More here  h/t to Dr. Roger Pielke Sr.

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91 thoughts on “"…somebody had to say it"

  1. I’m so naive that several years ago when the UCAR contract came up for Federal renewal, I thought there would be a new contractor.
    In dreams.
    ======

  2. “Uncertainty is essential information for decision makers.”

    It is the only essential such information. Everything else is just noise.

  3. It also needs to be mentioned at every turn that the policy side is just as uncertain as the science side. We’ve seen habitat destruction of endangered species for biofuels, the slaughter of innocent people for carbon credits, the raising of food prices worldwide for ethanol, etc ad nauseum.
    The Law of Unintended Effect reigns supreme.

  4. Here’s the comment I left on the thread at judithcurry.com:
    Dr. Curry, I’ve excerpted some of your commentary at WUWT. I’ll try to keep in with your comment policy.
    Being in the news business for years, I find the constant focus on “B” in the vein of “if we just keep pushing the message, maybe in a different way” to be an indicator of the myopic viewpoint held by many in the climate science and climate activism community.
    The public is burned out on the message, because the message being pushed today offers no hope nor workable solutions,
    I think George Monbiot summed up the communications failure pretty well back in May: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/05/04/monbiot-smacks-head-first-into-reality/

    I hope that by laying out the problem I can encourage us to address it more logically, to abandon magical thinking and to recognise the contradictions we confront.

    It is a campaign not for abundance but for austerity. It is a campaign not for more freedom but for less. Strangest of all, it is a campaign not just against other people, but against ourselves.

    Throughout human history, positive change has come to pass by improving the human situation, not by stifling it. IMHO until we have a better solution for our broad 24/7 energy needs (not just when the wind blows and the sun shines, Thorium power comes to mind), the best we can do is improve efficiency, make what we do now cleaner, and adapt (as we always have) as the climate changes from the wide non-linear variety of effects and feedbacks.

  5. I note on JC’s site there are those who say with the uncertainty, the probability of underestimating CAGW and impacts equals the probability of overestimating. This is just not so. When the CAGW institutions and individual power drivers of CAGW essentially run the show, you can be 100% certain (or almost) that they have exaggerated the worst possible scenarios as far as can be done in good conscience with the limited knowledge available (especially when conscience has been anesthetized somewhat). An example: a pro olympics group might estimate that the cost of putting on the show is 600million whereas a fanatical hater of such things would estimate perhaps 2 billion. The bill comes in at somewhere around 1billion (BC Olympics). The probabilities in CAGW have been heavily stacked – cooking data, hiding data, hiding the decline, cheering at the death of a critic, fantasizing about punching out a critic with a good argument, erasing the MWP, Little Ice Age and all the other extremes that occurred without the help of CO2, having journals blackballed, editors fired……. These things allow you to use up a lot of probability on the high side for CAGW. Hey there is even a remaining significant probability that we could go the other way and freeze to death.

  6. Not too many months ago you might have been “grumbled down ” a la English Parliament, no?
    I take this as hope that this thing hasn’t gone to far to be reversed.

  7. Dr. Curry,
    In my opinion, UCAR/NCAR is more the “Belly of the Beast” than NOAA. Thank you for standing up and saying what you believe, knowing that hostility was probable. You are my hero of the day! If there is some way I can provide help/support, please let your needs be known.

  8. I invited Richard Betts (Hadley Centre, IPCC Lead author) to join in via twittter, and he made an excellent comment.. that I think is worth repeating here.
    ————————–
    http://judithcurry.com/2011/10/08/usgcrp-draft-strategic-plan/#comment-119695
    Judith
    I agree with your comments that A+B does not equal C and that there are great dangers in focussing more on B than A.
    My team at the Met Office Hadley Centre in the UK have started to provide consultancy services on climate risks (NB this includes natural variability not just AGW) and when we first started, the surprising thing was that most clients were convinced we had climate forecasts sitting on the shelf (eg: the IPCC AR4 projections) which merely had to be interpreted to their particular industry questions. So the first stage is re-educating the client so they realise that no, we don’t have the answer, but we can give them some advice on a range of possibilities which they can then use to inform their decision making – and, most importantly, while this advice will be based on the best current understanding, this understanding is evolving all the time so they need to be prepared for the fact that if they come back in 2 years’ time they may get different answers! Hence their decision-making must be resilient to large uncertainty and to changes in the science. So the reason we have started to do this consultancy stuff (your B) is *not* to replace A but to make sure that A is correctly communicated (because if we leave B to others then they will do it wrong because they don’t understand A!)
    Similarly, your B includes “impacts” and I would argue that much of the impacts stuff is actually part of the physical science in A. eg: hydrological impacts. There is a worrying tendency for meteorological outputs of GCMs to be used to drive hydrological models in a handle-turning way, often using techniques to adjust for biases in the GCMs etc, without really investigating the processes involved in a scientific way. Many hydrological impacts projections, for example, violate conservation of water by using a separate hydrological model which gives a completely different representation of evaporation to that used within the original GCM. Hence the final hydrological impact projection *must* be wrong because either (a) the GCM is right and the hydrological model is wrong, or (b) the hydrological model is right and the GCM is wrong, in which case the inputs to the hydrological model are wrong.
    There are similar difficulties with many agricultural impacts studies too. So a lot of the impacts work needs to become more scientific, rather than product-based.
    The thing that concerns me is that the simplistic messaging which has become prevalent in order to inform mitigation (with the sub-text that the details don’t matter as long as people are convinced that emissions cuts are needed) leads to the risk of mis-informing adaptation. If the risk of rapid sea level rise or drought is overblown, major decision-makers like governments or development banks etc could invest billions in new infrastructure well before it is actually needed (or indeed the wrong infrastructure altogether). There are too many people out there who think they can just re-package the AR4 projections into something that is useful for informing adaptation – they are wrong!
    In any case, many decision-makers focussing on adaptation/resilience/vulnerability actually need information on timescales of the next few years not several decades. They have become aware of their potential exposure to climate risks because of the high-profile of AGW, but in actual fact it is more natural variability that they need to know about. Much more science is needed there if this is to be forecast usefully, especially at regional scales.
    So I agree with you that A should not be eroded by increased focus on B, but I would also add that those doing A should make sure B is done correctly. (I think this may be the other person meant by C = A + B + X(AB)**n + f(C) , where f(C) includes an examination of how the decision-makers have misunderstood A through miscommunication in B?)
    ———————————————-
    Professor Judith Curry, said she had been called a ‘climate Heretic’ for voicing the similar opinions.. I think some commentators forget, that not all ‘climate science’ is the Hansen, Mann, version. that the media and politicians lap up..but that there are very many just getting on with the job.

  9. Might the CAGW beast now turn their attention to Dr. Curry? Will the demonization and war of words escalate to the point she will be drummed out of the Georgia Institute of Technology
    for being a denier?

  10. I fully support Dr Curry’s intervention in this debate. The nuance is entirely correct – that those who claim that future course of climate is fully known and the only problem is public communication are seriously deluded.

  11. A + B = C
    Let A = 0
    Then B = C
    Hence policy can be determined entirely by ‘experts’ opinion without the need for any scientific knowledge at all.
    Would I be cynical if I thought that this was the ultimate aim?
    Why let facts get in the way of making the ‘right’ decision?

  12. Joe Romm – Telling Richard Betts – UK Met Office Hadley Centre- Head Of Impacts & IPCC lead author) where Richard is wrong 😉 !!
    http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2010/01/12/205331/sciencerichard-betts-andy-revkin-dramatic-decline-in-arctic-sea-ice-in-2007-was-not-reversed-in-2008-2009-recovery/
    No wonder most scientists have kept their heads down, in the USA..
    And Richard Betts saying sensible things post climategate/copenhagen:
    BBC – Science must end the confusion
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8451756.stm
    “It’s easy to blame the media and I don’t intend to make generalisations here, but I have quite literally had journalists phone me up during an unusually warm spell of weather and ask “is this a result of global warming?”
    When I say “no, not really, it is just weather”, they’ve thanked me very much and then phoned somebody else, and kept trying until they got someone to say yes it was.”
    ———–
    The somebodyelse scientits have been getting all the media/lobbyist/political attention.
    ————
    Another interesting extract – Richard Betts – BBC article
    “Climate “sceptics” accuse climate scientists of exaggerating the evidence for human-caused climate change in order to secure their own funding; but actually I think that any vested interests in talking up the problem lie elsewhere.
    Individual natural disasters are not evidence of climate change
    The focus on climate change is now so huge that everybody seems to need to have some link to climate change if they are to attract attention and funding.
    Hence the increasing tendency to link everything to climate change – whether scientifically proven or not. ”
    ——————–
    Someone refer that statement to Al Gore please, and a few other US scientists..
    Remember – Richard Betts is an IPCC lead author – and Head of Climate Impacts (includes NATURAL) at the UK Met Office Hadley Centre.
    The question is: do climate scientists do enough to counter this? Or are we guilty of turning a blind eye to these things because we think they are on “our side” against the climate sceptics?
    —————-
    So please would some ( afew commentators) stop saying that it’s all a hoax and climate scientists are all part of it, etc,etc.

  13. “A + B = C
    ■A: scientific and disciplinary knowledge
    ■B: impacts of A, communication of A and impacts, and translation A for policy makers
    ■C: policy”
    I really like that. Will try to use something like that the next time I need to do a presentation. Wonder whether somebody notices I’m talking rubbish. My audience are usually engineers and programmers, so it’ll be a tough sell.

  14. When I hear climate scientist say that they need to “improve how they communicate the science to the public”, I assume that they intend to: (1) further exaggerate claims of catastrophe (2) further hide the uncertainty and (3) more aggressively stifle dissenting voices. I suppose its unfair for me to jump to this conclusion; but there is a lot of evidence that this is exactly what they mean. The fact that Michael Mann is taking a sabbatical to work on this “communication” project only strengthen my view that we can expect ‘hide the decline’ to be a central tenant of this new communications strategy. The thinking goes: since the public dismissed claims that there will be 50 million climate refugees by 2010, we now should say that there will be *100 million* climate refugees by 2020!! — surely that should get someone’s attention.
    How pathetically misguided.
    What the climate scientists seem to miss is that the general public is a lot smarter and better informed than the climate scientist recognize. People aren’t stupid just because they don’t have a PhD. A 1960’s style, Saul Alinsky communications strategy simply doesn’t work in the internet age. Instead, scientists need to be more open and transparent and drop all this gibberish about the science being settled. If climate scientists want to regain credibility (and it might be too late), they might start by reading the cluetrain manifesto http://www.cluetrain.com/book/95-theses.html – and try applying those ideas to their world.

  15. The fact that much money has been wasted on AGW solutions of little or no value may be the minor issue. The fact that the wasted money can not be used to help with minimizing the potential minimum which in the past have caused significant loss of human life. The current lack of sunspots indicates that the possibility of a new minimum is now more likely.

  16. Here is another equation with almost universal utility-
    N = R*f(p)*n(e)*f(l)*f(i)*f(c)*L
    where
    N= number of climate predictions that turn out to be ‘correct’
    R= annual rate of creation of specific climate predictions
    f(p) = fraction of climate predictions that are not catastrophic
    n(e) = number of standard deviations allowed for each non-catastrophic prediction
    f(l) = fraction of climate predictions that assume negative cloud feedback
    f(i) = fraction of climate predictions that incorporate natural climate cycles
    f(c) = fraction of climate predictions that are not included in any IPCC report
    L = inverse of how far in the future the prediction applies, in years^-1

  17. One big problem is: Governments and politicians firmly believe scientists can provide them with answers to their questions.
    A much BIGGER problem arises when scientists believe they CAN provide those answers.

  18. I must seriously ask:
    Why would UCAR (as described) be involved in policy except in the most abstract and general way?
    Rule #1 is to keep the scientists and engineers AWAY from policy! Isn’t it??

  19. Apparently extremely common mistake among educated people: the word is ‘TENET’: “A principle or belief, esp. one of the main principles of a religion or philosophy.”, not ‘TENANT’: “A person who occupies land or property rented from a landlord.”

  20. RobWansbeck wrote (October 8, 2011 at 1:39 pm):

    A + B = C
    Let A = 0
    Then B = C
    Hence policy can be determined entirely by ‘experts’ opinion without the need for any scientific knowledge at all.
    Would I be cynical if I thought that this was the ultimate aim?
    Why let facts get in the way of making the ‘right’ decision?

    My main irritation with Dr. Curry has been her use of the term “uncertainty” where the term “ignorance” applies; however, take a look at her best blog article to date:
    Can we make good decisions under ignorance?
    http://judithcurry.com/2011/08/22/can-we-make-good-decisions-under-ignorance/

    Perhaps “uncertainty” is a collegially diplomatic euphemism for ignorance.

  21. Brava!!
    Quoting J. Curry: “…There was applause. Not a standing ovation, but applause from a substantial segment of the 200+ audience….”
    Nonetheless, Vavilov would have been proud of you!
    pokerguy says: “Curry for President.”
    We could do worse, lots worse. Heck, have done lots worse! I like the idea!
    Anthony says: …George Monbiot summed up the communications failure pretty well back in May…
    Brilliant use of Monbiot’s input. Kudos to both of you.
    RobWansbeck says: A + B = C Let A = 0 Then B = C
    Good point. Properly done, the “equation” is A * B = C A does = 0 Thus C = 0.
    The “equation,” of course, is sophomoric twaddle, similar to the infamous Drake equation, only worse.

  22. I read this quote recently ,” The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance-it is the illusion of knowledge ” anybody know who made this quote ? …..peace

  23. Unfortunately the CAGW out put is just the beginning of the fraud and waste
    In the next even more expensive phase we have formulated an energy policy based on CAGW that seriously constrains the CO2 emissions from fossil fuels under the misguided (or intentially deceptive) energy policy that blatently deludes the public into believing that we can run our economy, our cars, and heat our homes with clean green renewable energy that will be abundant and affordable. Just look at the response of our leader to the gentlemen that discovered how to produce significant amount of energy from the Bakken oil fields

  24. I felt that science was the last bastion of objective thought in the universities. What UCAR has done is a travesty.

  25. “A + B = C
    A: scientific and disciplinary knowledge
    B: impacts of A, communication of A and impacts, and translation A for policy makers
    C: policy”
    I have no argument with Dr. Curry’s statement and I take my hat off to her for her statement at the meeting. However, she overlooks climate science’s real problem and, in doing so, is far too kind to climate science. The problem with climate science is that there is no A, except for the work of people like Pielke and and Spencer. Climate science is in its infancy. As soon as it comes up with some new, reasonably well-confirmed physical hypotheses then it will have moved into the arena of science. Then the childish computer models will be dropped like last year’s popular toys.
    So, everyone, please note that the fundamental criticism of climate science applies to the linear thinking. You do not have to go elsewhere to find the problems. But the problems that Dr. Curry identifies are real problems too; however, they will not need addressing until there is a genuine climate science.

  26. J Storrs Hall says:
    October 8, 2011 at 12:45 pm
    It also needs to be mentioned at every turn that the policy side is just as uncertain as the science side. …
    The Law of Unintended Effect reigns supreme.

    Thank you. Someone also needed to say this.

  27. A + B = C
    A: scientific and disciplinary knowledge
    B: impacts of A, communication of A and impacts, and translation A for policy makers
    C: policy
    Crow argued that the emphasis needs to be on B, which requires an entirely new structure for universities.

    Somebody help me here –
    it this “post normal math”?

  28. @Gary Pearse October 8, 2011 at 1:04 pm:
    Gary, your list is a a really good one, and your point about CAGW NOT being the approximate mean of what might happen – that is right on.
    I would point out one additional thing they do (which may or may not have been included in your list under “cooking the data”): All their adjustments are to the positive side of warming, which just can’t possibly be the case, not in a real world. So, in that vein, they seem to want to use CAGW as the mean in some cases, but when it comes to adjusting met station temps, they want to use raw data as the met stations’ minimums. (“minima” I believe is not quite correct here, as it normally applies in math to a horizontal slope after a downward curve – but please, everyone don’t get off on grammar here…)
    My point here is that they can’t have it both ways – minimums when it serves their message and means when THAT serves their purpose. The hypocrisy and self-serving-ness is just too blatant.

  29. @JohnWho October 8, 2011 at 3:59 pm:

    A + B = C
    A: scientific and disciplinary knowledge
    B: impacts of A, communication of A and impacts, and translation A for policy makers
    C: policy
    Crow argued that the emphasis needs to be on B, which requires an entirely new structure for universities.

    Somebody help me here –
    it this “post normal math”?

    What it really is is the simple-minded ones wanting to pretend that the world can be reduced to simple 3-term formulas. Evidently Einstein gave them the impression that E=mc^2 meant that the world is a Forrest Gump place, where even when you are wrong, events turn out in your favor, and the world is all hunky-dory.
    All I’ve seen is that scientists seem to want to pretend that using fudge factors is kosher, instead of devoting the necessary decades to working out what are the complex interrelationships in complex systems. They are too impatient to wait that long, so they bodge it all together in a simplistic form.
    That would be FINE, if all they were doing with it was using it as a temporary stepping stone to greater understanding, while letting everyone know that it is only the best they can do for now. But certainly not to push ultra-expensive governmental policies based on what they KNOW is only a stop-gap understanding.
    Where we are now (in many sciences): Some undefined point along the continuum from total ignorance at one end and total knowledge at the other end. With most sciences being only 100-300 years along that continuum, it follows that we are much closer to the ignorant end than the total knowledge end. (…and that their models don’t even properly portray the state of the science as it stands…)
    It would simply be nice if they would acknowledge where we are, if their egos could allow them to take such a step. Pretending (for the sake of grant moneys and momentary political pull) that they know things they don’t – what a crock of bull. They should be spending their time determining the real formulas that are now just fudge factors in their models.
    They do the world a disservice (a truly monumental disservice) by pretending to have an overall knowledge they know they do not possess. They need to know – as Dr Curry states – that this can only turn out badly for their science.
    That they keep on with the subterfuge can only be seen as a form of insanity. They have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar, and they are thinking that they can buffalo their way out of it by spinning a new PR campaign. What genuinely pompous asses they must be to think the world is that stupid.

  30. If people in the top office who accepted the science can’t accept that it is now wrong, what hope is there for science? Who are they trying to protect, themselves, ‘the science’, or both? It seems to be both, which is misguided. Blame the scientists, enough of this protectionism. When you stuff up, you deserve to be fired. Why are scientists covered in bubble wrap? When the apple fell on Newton’s head, he didn’t go and invent some new type of helmet. The time has come for the scientists to feel the pain once more, accept this time it will be monetary pain. Taking away the money is the most effective way to rid science of fraudsters and merchants of fear.
    People spend their whole lives trying to influence others, by moving up the bureaucratic ladder. And here lies the danger. The top priority in such a culture is survival, therefore science is used and abused. It’s understandable for politics and government to have such a culture so we need to cut some slack for the politicians, but what about the academic institutions?
    People always claim it’s the politicians who are the problem, on the contrary, it’s the academics. The academics have the worst culture of all, and they can ‘do what they like’, which is fine, but they can do it without the hard working tax payers’ money….
    In life the ultimate goal for many is to do something you enjoy which also pays well. As you can imagine it’s a very wide spectrum of self fulfilling prophecy. Taking away the money takes away the ‘meaning’ and ‘importance’, and the ‘expert opinion’.
    And then you are left with the science

  31. Dr. Curry is now at the very least apostate, probably now Heretic!
    Welcome to the deniers Judith.

  32. The problem comes in A + B = C when B is used to ‘sell’ A rather than just communicate it. That is when uncertainty is not mentioned only certainties that are claimed and exaggerated especially if they result in a C that is profitable to the generators of A and B. Once ‘success’ of a profitable C is achieved then A must be ‘settled’ or C is hazarded. And to ensure that remains the case B becomes far more strident to ensure that nobody raises any uncertainty on A.
    This is precisely what we are seeing. B and C are being treated as the most important – don’t even look at A it is settled.

  33. A + B = C is fine is you define A, B, and C correctly.
    A: incomplete and inconclusive scientific and disciplinary knowledge
    B: speculative and exaggerated impacts of A, communication of A and its dubious impacts, and biased translation of A for policy makers
    C: bogus policy

  34. polistra says:
    October 8, 2011 at 1:26 pm
    Both views are equally naive.
    Correct and complete equation: C = dP(s)/dT
    where C is policy and P(s) is Profit by Speculators.
    _____________________________________________________________
    WOW, Now there is the true formula!

  35. ~FR says:
    October 8, 2011 at 2:22 pm
    I must seriously ask:
    Why would UCAR (as described) be involved in policy except in the most abstract and general way?
    Rule #1 is to keep the scientists and engineers AWAY from policy! Isn’t it??
    Well FR. Writing from Australia where so many politicians are lawyers, many of whom understand little math science and no math (to speak of), perhaps I would have to disagree with your Rule#1!

  36. It seems to me our esteemed Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, has applied this mathematical axiom to Solyndra and its many cousins.

  37. polistra says:
    October 8, 2011 at 1:26 pm
    That brings up an interesting question: to what extent can cynicism, both political and moral, be taken into account in any of the equations thrown out here? That is why I don’t mathematicize any policy processes or debates. Anthony is right, there is no use for linear equations here.

  38. J Storrs Hall says: (October 8, 2011 at 12:45 pm) “It also needs to be mentioned at every turn that the policy side is just as uncertain as the science side. We’ve seen habitat destruction of endangered species for biofuels, the slaughter of innocent people for carbon credits…
    Please say this over and over everywhere.

  39. Blah, blah, blah.
    The problem is not that A+B=C is wrong. The problem is, A is wrong.
    Pissing around looking for a better formula is nothing more than another pointless political shell game, if that formula has A in it.
    Judith Curry is a stalking horse for the warmists, and her primary objective appears to be the attainment of warmist policy goals without relying on the (now obviously failing) warmist fairy tale.

  40. The nutshell of Crow’s presentation is this:
    A + B = C
    ■A: scientific and disciplinary knowledge
    ■B: impacts of A, communication of A and impacts, and translation A for policy makers
    ■C: policy
    Crow argued that the emphasis needs to be on B, which requires an entirely new structure for universities.

    “QED”, he concluded triumphantly. But suddenly Crow’s recurrent wet dream of omniscience and omnipotence was interrupted by the much greater urgency of his hunger. And thus he found himself crying out without restraint to his mother for his bottle….”or else!”

  41. A mistake made is trying to apply any sort of equation to politics. Politicians work on several motivations reduced to a few common sayings:
    1. Without being in power, nothing else matters. Policies, motivations, intentions….nothing can be accomplished without first being in power.
    2. Never get between a politician and a bucket of money.
    3. A good politician doesn’t do what he/she thinks is right. Nor does a good politician do what the voters want. A good politician is effective at getting the voter to want what he/she wants.
    The pro-AGW movement has been effective because they’ve been pushing the argument with continued lobbying and they’ve infiltrated the IPCC. They’ve been able to control the message up to this time. Judith Curry is quite correct. The pro-AGW argument was going to make a mockery of the term “climatologist”.

  42. After changing the manner in which you communicate the message several times, one would think that at some point you would need to question the message itself, no?

  43. “”””” mpaul says:
    October 8, 2011 at 1:57 pm
    When I hear climate scientist say that they need to “improve how they communicate the science to the public”, I assume that they intend to: (1) further exaggerate claims of catastrophe (2) further hide the uncertainty and (3) more aggressively stifle dissenting voices. I suppose its unfair for me to jump to this conclusion; but there is a lot of evidence that this is exactly what they mean. The fact that Michael Mann is taking a sabbatical to work on this “communication” project only strengthen my view that we can expect ‘hide the decline’ to be a central tenant of this new communications strategy. The thinking goes: since the public dismissed claims that there will be 50 million climate refugees by 2010, we now should say that there will be *100 million* climate refugees by 2020!! — surely that should get someone’s attention.
    How pathetically misguided.
    What the climate scientists seem to miss is that the general public is a lot smarter and better informed than the climate scientist recognize. People aren’t stupid just because they don’t have a PhD. “””””
    ……………………
    People who don’t have a PhD are simply at a certain level of ignorance about whatever narrow specialty it is that they don’t have a PhD in. Those with the PhD simply lack the ignorance of that narrow specialty in which they have a PhD.

  44. mpaul says:
    October 8, 2011 at 1:57 pm
    … The thinking goes: since the public dismissed claims that there will be 50 million climate refugees by 2010, we now should say that there will be *100 million* climate refugees by 2020!! — surely that should get someone’s attention…

    Perhaps we should look at refugees who are victims of misguided policies. In the US, we are attempting to create 350 million thru regulation by turning off coal power plants and restricting energy use. We are turning food, corn and soybeans, into fuel for transportation. James Delingpole writes incessantly about the UK’s attempt to turn their population into refugees with windmills.
    It isn’t global warming that create refugees, it is the attempt to fight climate change at all costs that is creates refugees. This is completely man made…

  45. If one acceptable outcome of policy is to do nothing yet then these people have learned something. If the outcome is the notion that policy cannot allow doing nothing then the process has failed – restart.

  46. Perhaps we should treat A, B, and C as complex numbers in that equation:
    A: (scientific and disciplinary knowledge) + i(imaginary scientific and disciplinary knowledge)
    B: ( impacts of A) + i(imaginary impacts of A)
    C: (policy) + i(dreams)

  47. I do find it ironic (but I’m not as cynical as some) that Judith Curry herself was not averse to using the term “Denier” to those who criticized AGW hysteria when she first introduced herself on Climate Audit.
    How times have changed.

  48. RobWansbeck wrote (October 8, 2011 at 1:39 pm):
    Let A = 0
    Then B = C
    Hence policy can be determined entirely by ‘experts’ opinion without the need for any scientific knowledge at all.
    It’s already been done. I can find several quotes from scientists and politicians saying (in effect): “It doesn’t matter whether we are right or wrong on the science; what matters is that we use it to carry on with our pet policies to [insert anti-human obsession of choice here].

  49. abc science show in aus this saturday just gone 8th oct2011 late in the show yet again R williams spends time denigrating anyone daring question HIS agw mandates..bloody annoying. and he sunk the boot into Lord M and the other lord who dares disagree. as well as anyone else he could think of. promoting Paul nurses new show.
    The man needs to be retired.before he causes more damage.

  50. A+B=C
    Shouldn’t there be a letter representing the change in grant amounts for research that supports the “right” answer? Or does that feedback from C?

  51. Scientists are supposed to conduct science, not perform advocacy. It’s one thing to advise when asked. It’s quite another to push for specific policies.

  52. The UCAR has such a vague mission- What the heck is climate and global change? The first term is pretty vague by itself. Global change like the Earth goes around the sun or spins on its axis or possible movements of the centre of the Earth. All bigger changes to the Earth than we do on this tiny bit of the Crust of the Earth.

  53. Bennett says:
    October 8, 2011 at 1:08 pm
    Not too many months ago you might have been “grumbled down ” a la English Parliament, no?
    ———————————————————————————————————————-
    There is NO English Parliament. Many English people want one, as currently we are often in the sway of Labour MPs from Scotland, a country with its own parliament. Example – were Scotland removed from our elections (as they have their own parliament, and have had their own legislature for years), then the Tories would have won the last election outright. Instead, England will – until the “West Lothian” question is answered, be in hock to a bunch of socialists from another country.
    Rather like the EU in miniature, one might say.

  54. Do policy makers really give a flying whatever what scientists think ?
    That concept flys in the face of reelection campaigns and periodic calls for term limits.
    If it smells like money and looks like money, both sides of the equation seems to be motivated towards it.

  55. A = assumed science aka consensus
    B = the Baloney fed to the public.
    C= Control, policies meant to control.
    The Alarmists’ problem is that in the “B”. They’ve already gone over-the-top with the doomsday rhetoric. Slowly the general public gets wise to that “the-end-is-near” stuff. If warmers were smart propagandists they would have held back on some of their New York City umderwater crap.

  56. Friends:
    The A+B=C equation displays an ignorance based on arrogance.
    Politicians do not adopt policies on the basis of “scientific information”: they use “science” as a source of information that can be used to justify policies.
    Science is never “settled” and, therefore, the desired information can always be obtained. Similarly, it is always possible to employ a lawyer or an economist who can provide information to bolster a policy.
    Richard

  57. Let A approach zero and B = C, in the presence of marginal growth of AMO approaching zero and turning negative and in the presence of PDO already negative and solar cycle declining rhythmically.
    The time constraint in maintaining the ether theory…er AGW is fast running out.

  58. It is not only the science and the communication that needs questioning, but also the precautionary principle as the justification for acting under uncertainty. People should be free to generate CO2 for their benefit until it is proven beyond a reasonable doubt that doing so is harmful to others – that is the approach that is consistent with individual rights. If we can restrict peoples’ behavior because something they do might be bad, we are inviting the shackles.

  59. Jane says:
    October 8, 2011 at 12:29 pm
    Assumption of a status quo weather wise is a very dangerous thing, I wonder why so many think that way?

    Actually, day after day, you do much better than 50% by saying, “Tomorrow will be like today”.

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