Monday, February 10, 2014

Climate Change National Forum… case in point

I stumbled on this website slash project this morning.  

Climate Change National Forum (CCNF) is a national platform, founded and led by scientists, to educate the American public on the science of climate change and its policy implications.  

I want to share the comment I posted over there.
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John Nielsen-Gammon  writes:  "Here’s the question you asked: “How many climate experts agree that the global warming we are witnessing is a direct consequence of the burning of fossil fuels by humans?”“Direct consequence” is very strong phrasing. To me, it means that the global warming has to be entirely caused by the burning of fossil fuels by humans. The IPCC doesn’t even believe that! Their best guess for the anthropogenic contribution is 100% plus or minus about 40%."

When I think about the implication of what John Nielsen-Gammon has written, it seems to imply that we can use weaknesses in measuring capability to imagine it might not be happening, or that perhaps society produced greenhouse gases don't behave like "naturally" produced greenhouse gases.   Further implying perhaps even the radiative physics of greenhouse gases is up for debate. 
A short interruption for a correction.
I received an email from a friend who took me to task for the way I approached this post.  Since I can see that he is correct in his assessment, I feel that I should share his comment along with my response:

"You attribute a lot of what JNG [John Nielsen-Gammon] says to CCNF, which isn't accurate (or fair). CCNF is a project with the aim of being a collection of contributing scientists.  Yet the quote in question is attributable only the JNG.  You can't bash CCNF like that for something JNG said, especially when he said it in a comment thread." 
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OK, fair enough, I was careless with my assumptions.   
Guess it's because I find the whole "skeptical" community's obsession with the SkS Consensus Study and whether it's 97% or 95%, or is it all manmade, or is it just mainly manmade... juvenile and a disingenuous distraction from the real issues we desperately need to be thinking about.   
This consensus study bashing is nothing more than another diversion to waste precious time - while the situation out in the real world begins to spiral out of our control.  Like obsessing over the dings in the paint job, while not giving a dang about the mechanical condition of the vehicle. 
But, I do stand corrected and I do apologize to CCNF and I will not repeat the error in future posts regarding John Nielsen-Gammon comments at the CCNF forum.
(con't)  And what's this he says: "... global warming has to be entirely caused by the burning of fossil fuels by humans."  This makes as much sense as saying that because there is climate variability, we can ignore what humans have done to supercharge that variability.  

If you begin losing control of your car, then slam on the accelerator rather than the brake and totally lose it and crash - it seems foolish to blame the crash on your initial cruising speed - - but that's pretty much what Nielsen-Gammon is doing here.

This hand wringing about the exact percentage of the scientific consensus is an abomination and misrepresentation of how science operates.  The "consensus" has no hard definition and it varies depending on the specific question.  "Consensus" is the "collective understanding" ! 

Can we please look at the substance of the evidence, rather than this absurd squandering of precious irreplaceable time?

This project makes as much sense as demanding that every single aspect of our global heat distribution engine, that is climate system, be absolutely accurately quantified before we can trust what we DO know.  

When will your community stop playing these childish games and allow all of us to focus on learning from what we DO know, not about focusing on what we don't know?

That's what science and human progress is about, connecting the dots best we can, then making reasonable choices in an uncertain world that waits for no fool.  

This thing CCNF is doing here is a disingenuous ploy - intent on distracting and reinforcing divisions and distrust.  At it's heart CCNF is engaged in another contrarian exercise intent on avoidance.


PL said...

I think you need to look closely at what John N-G writes, here and elsewhere. He is, after all, the originator of the now-famous graph showing that the warming trend is the same for El Nino, La Nina, and neutral conditions, so that the "pause" is simply a bias towards La Nina recently.

In this case he's stating that the entire climate warming climate trend is ~100% anthro, +/- 40%. His parsing of your question is just his being a scientist. He's stating that you can't just say "the warming trend is anthro", because that implies nothing else can be in play. (Solar, for example, is a cooling trend, maybe volcanoes and aerosols as well.)

Anonymous said...

Perhaps for John N-G the question -

“How many climate experts agree that the global warming we are witnessing is a direct consequence of the burning of fossil fuels by humans?”
could be rephrased as he finds, “Direct consequence” very strong phrasing, as -

“How many climate experts agree that the global warming we are witnessing is a is 100% plus or minus about 40% the consequence of the burning of fossil fuels by humans?”

I think the correct answer is ,
100% plus or minus about 3%.


And Then Theres Physics said...

izen, just to wind up "skeptics" I think someone should seriously suggest that the uncertainty in the consensus project means that more than 100% of climate scientists accept anthropogenic global warming :-)