Monday, February 17, 2014

Response to Prof John Nielsen-Gammon - 2/17/2014

Professor John Nielsen-Gammon left a comment at my post titled "Dear Dr. Nielsen-Gammon, re. statistical certainty vs geophysical realities" he sent it before I finished my review of his "Extreme Weather" article and I didn't see it until after I posted it.

His note provides me with an excellent vehicle to define my issues with JNG's, and many others, approach.  It gives me a chance to point out some glaring omissions and to ask a couple questions.  I have not changed or deleted any of Professor Nielsen-Gammon's words, I have underlined key ideas.

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John N-G (February 16, 2014 at 12:30 PMsaid...
Cross-posted in comments at ClimateChangeNationalForum: 
JNG:  "It’s as though I’ve carried on quite a conversation with you without actually participating in it! 
I want you to realize the trap you are setting for yourself.
You seem to be arguing that the urgency with which you perceive action to be necessary precludes or reduces the need for accuracy," 
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Actually it seems the scientific case for Anthropogenic Global Warming being the major threat to our society has been made many times over and over and over again!  

What degree of "proof" are you expecting?

What is lacking?

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JNG:  "and any fact that argues against the need for urgent action should be suppressed lest it distract people from the overall balance of evidence."
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The balance of evidence suggests AGW is a great threat!

What sort of evidence suggests that society can continue increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases without catastrophic consequences for the biosphere as we know it?

Please outline it.

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JNG:  "I believe that many have fallen into this same trap. It’s a trap because it requires the public to trust the judgment of the many, while at the same time allowing those opposed to directly undermine that trust by pointing out that the many are hiding evidence or not telling the whole story."

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Can you share examples of evidence actually being suppressed?  I know a lot is claimed within the "climate science skeptical" community, but closer examination has consistently shown their claims to be distorted misrepresentations of the actual facts.

Furthermore, I'm shocked that you make no mention of the strategic right-wing attack on science.  

You play right into their myth that supposedly scientists are hiding something - when anyone that's been paying attention knows that Earth scientists have a vigorous debate going on with each other.  It is an alive dynamic community of rational skeptics, as science is supposed to be.  Errors are not hidden, they are dug up, argued over, learned from and resolved.  

But, you seem to be imply that's not true.  Backed by what?  

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JNG:  "Those who think we should simply emphasize the need for urgent action should by now have noticed that it’s not working."

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Hmmm, and why is it not working?

Why haven't you mentioned the massive strategic conspiracy of misrepresentation, lies and dirty-tricks that has deliberately manufactured this public confusion and distrust?  

Doesn't that deserve to be a part of the CCNF's mission?  Where is Naomi Oreskes' contribution?

themonthlyvideo  |  Published on May 2, 2013
Part 1 | Part 2 In this public lecture at the Global Change Institute (UQ), 

What about the powerful Republican echo-chamber using the repetition of talking points that have been roundly exposed to be scientifically false?  

What about the malicious character attacks intended to distracts media headlines and the public's attention away from the actual issues we are supposed to be learning about and figuring out how to deal with?  

What about the curiously well timed manufactured high octane media scandals that have scuttled various efforts at international agreements and proactively addressing this self-created problem?

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JNG:  "I’m contributing to CCNF because it’s a public forum that allows the evidence to be presented and contested at a proper, scientific level. I’m not going to hide anything, and if I don’t think a complete version of the reliable evidence is being presented, I’ll try to fix that. I may even ask devil’s advocate questions, and if the evidence is robust it will survive such questioning."

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I'm doing this for the same reasons.  

I also hope you appreciate why I'm engaging and sharing that CCNF dialogue over here at my own modest website.  There are things I want to share that can only be done on my own turf.

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JNG:  "Also, note that my time is limited, and I’d like to write about much more than I am actually able to write about. Given that limitation, I try to focus my posts on things nobody else is saying."

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How did your Extreme Weather essay fit into that plan?

I'm curious, could you share a short bullet point list of what you believe nobody else is saying?  I've been trying to do the same thing, but it's tough.

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JNG:  "On a separate note, you said: 
CC:   “Continuing to look beyond the individual you, I suggest it boils down to two different perceptions of our planet and Earth sciences. 
“At the heart of one is an appreciation that our Earth is a living organism, one that has taken four and a half billion years, evolving one day at a time, to arrive at the beautiful cornucopia that awaited a restless inquisitive human species. 
“The other mindset sees our planet through the lens of ancient texts and tribal dogmas. To this group of humanity our life sustaining planet isn’t anymore “real” than the Hollywood movie on the other side of the screen. 
“Therein lies the tragedy of our time.” 
It’s my belief that the opposite is true, that the argument for action is much stronger if you view the planet through the lens of ancient text and tribal dogmas than if you view it as an evolving, quasi-living organism. But that will be a discussion for a separate post, probably after CCNF adds policy to its scope."

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Hmmm, consider history's story and the Abrahamic legacy, humanity is set above the natural world.  

In particular, it has instilled this attitude that our Earth, our biosphere, is here to serve us and supply us.  It is treated as fuel for our civilization and nothing more.  History provides plenty of proofs for that.

It doesn't matter to most how many landscapes and species we wipe off the Earth, the concept of nurturing our biosphere doesn't even exist in our business/political landscape.

In fact, these days a huge percentage of our population believes it's "God's Will" to destroy this planet, so they don't give a damn about our society destroying the foundations of our survival.  They are more than happy to believe transparent lies that lull them into believing all is well in the world, except for those lefties.  

Why isn't the malicious deliberate misrepresentation of science a part of the CCNF discussion?

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JNG: "*That's the end of the cross-post, but some comments are in order here regarding Jennifer Francis' work. At present, the experts are divided on whether she's right, and many are deeply skeptical. 
One problem is that climate models are quite capable of simulating Arctic Amplification and the resulting slowing down of the jet stream, yet nobody (including Francis) has found more stationary weather in the climate model simulations."

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Short comings in modeling ability don't mean it's not there in the real world. 

Why isn't close good enough?  To me your approach seems like grasping at straws and hoping we don't have a major problem on our hands?  {You share a list of papers published by Liz Barnes, but you don't present any coherent explanation why your perceived weaknesses justify continued inaction.}

On the other hand, we have an on-going actual geo-physical process being witnessed.  

Beginning with the Arctic Ocean morphing into a huge heat absorption medium.  Resulting in, among other cascading consequences, massive columns of evaporation and upwelling currents rising into the heights of the troposphere.  They have to interact with something.  

Add to that, just like warming the air in a balloon, the arctic troposphere is itself warming and inflating to higher elevations.

This in turn effects the gradient between the north pole and the equator's atmospheric masses.  This is linked to greater meandering of the polar jet stream. 

It sounds to me like the difference between us is that your demand to see the data showing exactly how that massive injection of warm moisture acts on the jet stream or you dismiss the concept.

For me the circumstantial evidence is plenty convincing - after all there is zero possibility that the rising columns of heat and moisture are dissipating into nothing and impacting nothing.  And understanding the exact mechanism doesn't make it any less destructive here on the physical planet.

Your line of reasoning makes me think of the old canard: "If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it still make a noise?" 

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JNG:  "There are also logical issues. For example, if a weakening jet stream leads to more severe cold waves, then in the limit of uniform temperatures and zero jet stream there ought to be the most severe cold waves possible, yet that doesn't make sense. For some other issues, check out the work of Liz Barnes."

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Wait a minute, that sounds very odd and not at all clear or logical.  

The jet stream is the boundary between arctic air masses and mid-latitude air masses.  A meandering jet stream drags frigid arctic air masses south and warmer mid-latitude air masses get dragged up north.  

The jet stream has nothing to do with "producing" the cold air masses - just like with ocean currents - all it can do is push heat around.  

I don't understand the point of your hypothetical, can you rephrase it?

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What has changed about our basic understanding of Anthropogenic Global Warming over the past two decades?  

Has there been anything of significance - besides ever greater coverage and higher resolution and increasing certainty that we are taking our planet out of the bounds its experienced for millions of years?

To me it seems all you're doing is hand wringing: "man oh man, we gotta get the DPI cranked up another few hundred PDI before the picture comes in HD sharp."

Works great for Evolution - but this "subject" is the health of the biosphere and the weather system that we depend on.  It's not just another interesting problem, it's a real future filled with hard consequences.

We are destroying the planet as we knew it not too long ago - you know, the biosphere that we depend on for everything.  What good is spending all our time and energy defining the crisis to exquisite certainty and forgetting to act to avert the crisis?


climatehawk1 said...

Thanks for posting. Minor constructive criticism: I think stronger to just say "Backed by what?" rather than "Backed by what--a couple of pissed-off e-mails?" Frees you from accusation of putting words in someone else's mouth.

citizenschallenge said...

tad too "earthy" ;- }

Good criticism though, fixed that.