New normal or post-normal?

Posted February 8th, 2011 by Sylvia S Tognetti and filed in Living in Post-Normal Times

After explaining what a normal climate is, Heidi Cullen asks whether there actually is a normal climate at all, given that each of the past three decades has been hotter than the previous one, with 2000-2009 being the hottest on record. But nevertheless, she goes on to refer to the “new normals”, defined as a region’s weather averaged over 30 years, which are updated at the end of each decade. These show that “on average, conditions were about 3.6 F warmer from 2001-2010 than from 1971-1980.” As it will likely take a long time before we actually reach a new normal, it seems like it is time for a new term to characterize this interim period.

Again, Welcome to Post-Normal Times! And note that I am no longer the only one using the term. Since Zia Sardar published his article in the journal Futures, characterizing it as a time of Chaos, Contradictions and Complexity, several others have written rejoinders that generally accept and elaborate on the premise, and on what might be necessary to achieve a new normal.

In a somewhat different context, even Joe Romm says that “these are Post Normal Times” and that we are now in a Post Normal Climate. His post was in response to Cuccinelli’s fishing expedition – i.e., a Civil Investigative Demand from the Attorney General of Virginia, which suggests that Michael Mann might have committed fraud for not disclosing the Post-Normal nature of climate science in a grant application, and conceding to operating in an environment of uncertainty. As if there ever were certainty in anything other than death and taxes, let alone science, and demonstrating that Cuccinelli has either unrealistic expectations of science and/or does not have a clue as to what he is talking about. Nevermind his attempt to criminalize the normal practice of science now pending in a circuit court.

Cuccinelli is not alone is spreading confusion around the concept of Post-Normal Science, at least as I understood the concept when I embraced it. However, I chose Post-Normal Times as the theme for this blog so as to shift the focus from a wonky discussion of science philosophy to the policy context.

This blog has been MIA as controversy has swirled around the concept of Post-Normal Science, beginning with Jerry’s posts last year at WUWT, which gave me a bad case of writer’s block, Judith Curry’s engagement of climate deniers as an extension of the peer review process, and continuing with the recent Lisbon Workshop on Reconciliation in the Climate Change Debate. The latter has the Policy Lass wondering if PNS is tailor-made for the denialist crowd, and has Deep Climate wondering if the PNS concept has been hijacked altogether. Full-time work over the past two years took the oxygen out of this blog, just as climate deniers are paralyzing the policy process and sucking the oxygen away from finding solutions. I’m still here but comments on PNS and Lisbon etc are going to have to be a separate post, coming next.

53 Responses to “New normal or post-normal?”

  1. Sylvia,

    Could I humbly suggest that your following posts would likely be more productive if you were to discontinue use of the denier and denialist labels?

    I attended the Lisbon Conference and was pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere of civility between all the people present, no matter which ‘side’ of the debate they were on.

    My own ‘eco’ lifestyle is not in any contradiction to my scepticism regarding the AGW hypothesis, and I have found my own reconciliation through my actions.

    If you see any value in people listening to each other instead of talking past each other, maybe the time is right to think of them as individuals with personal histories, knowledge and motivations, and move beyond the labeling of anonymous amorphous groupings which are really a figment of our own minds.

  2. Sylvia S Tognetti says:

    Gladly, if you can demonstrate a defensible basis for skepticism about AGW, i.e., one that has not been credibly refuted. I may do so anyway, if only because those in denial of AGW, are also in denial of being in denial so any attempt at communication would be a waste of time.

  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by arthursmith, Planet3.0. Planet3.0 said: New normal or post-normal? http://goo.gl/3hlN1 [...]

  4. Sylvia,

    those of us who have a rational basis for our scepticism are not in denial, others who do not have the capacity to fully understand the science but *feel* that they are being sold a dubious product because of the actions and demeanour of the salesmen have a valid position too.

    I will not try to give a full demonstration of the rational basis of my scepticism in one short comment here, but I will offer one point which may give you pause for thought.

    The AGW hypothesis (and it is only a hypothesis, not a proven theory), rests on the increase in the diameter of the troposphere caused by additional absorption of energy by extra co2 in the atmosphere. Best estimate is that the increase in co2 from pre-industrial levels has caused the height of the top of the troposphere to increase by around 150-200 meters. But this cannot be measured, so we rely on the measurement we make of the TOA energy balance. Due to the technical difficulty of doing this, the uncertainty in measurement is around 5W/m^2. But the claimed signal from co2 plus water vapour feedback and the minor extra GHG’s is only 1.7W/m^2. This means there is a large (very large) uncertainty, and this is why Kevin Trenberth has a problem with ‘missing heat’.

    Kevin Trenberth said ‘The data are surely wrong’, but a good experimental scientist will always revisit his hypothesis when the empirical results tell him there is a mismatch between theoretical prediction and measured reality.

    My reply and a possible answer to his problem is posted on my blog. May I provide a link to the relevant article here? remove it if you wish:
    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/working-out-where-the-energy-goes-part-2-peter-berenyi/

    There is much more to explain, but I don’t want to bore you. Ask me questions about this and I will try to answer.

  5. J Bowers says:

    TB — “The AGW hypothesis (and it is only a hypothesis, not a proven theory),”

    How about: AGW is a consequence of theories which can be confirmed against empirical observations?

    * Empirically observed fingerprints of anthropogenic global warming
    * Troposphere is warming too, decades of data show

  6. Majorajam says:

    Rog, perhaps you could assist us in debunking your silliness here by elaborating on what Trenberth meant in the duplicitously misrepresentative paraphrase of him you’ve got there. That just may do it of it’s own volition, and one heck of a lot more quickly than painstaking point by point debunking of all the nonsense you lot can dump on a threader/throw against the wall second per second.

  7. Sylvia S Tognetti says:

    TB: re: “the AGW hypothesis rests on the… diameter of the troposphere”. I thought it rested on the hockey stick! (Just kidding) I could not make much sense out of your argument (tip: spell out and explain acronyms when you first use them) and even if I could, I would not be qualified to make a judgment on this particular matter so it will just have to wait until it gets into a legitimate peer reviewed journal. Sorry, but the role of science is also to validate knowledge and therefore be a gatekeeper. Extension of the peer-review process, as called for in PNS was never meant to imply that those with no expertise should be reviewing technical matters.

    However, I did look at the Trenberth paper that is referenced. It seems to me he identifies an important area of uncertainty with respect to the distribution of energy in the earth system which is important for understanding and anticipating effects of climate change. And he seems more than willing to revisit hypotheses having to do with this particular matter. Given the multiple lines of evidence that all point in the direction of increased warming, it hardly seems like grounds for questioning AGW as a whole. IMHO

  8. willard says:

    Sylvia,

    In my humble opinion, “contrarian” would do you just fine.

    It saves energy and might even fit well into the PNS scheme of things.

    Awaiting your conceptual analysis,

    Best,

    w

  9. Sylvia:
    “spell out and explain acronyms when you first use them”

    My apologies. TOA stands for Top of Atmosphere.

    “…the role of science is also to validate knowledge and therefore be a gatekeeper”.

    ‘Science’ is a blanket term for an area of human endeavour. In climate science, some of the personnel entrusted with that gatekeeping responsibility haven’t been performing the role with sufficient integrity. The blogosphere is littered with well documented examples. The ‘self correcting’ aspect of the scientific method has been derailed. Nature for example didn’t publish a solar paper for five years between 2005 and 2010. Nature gave the role of peer reviewer to the author of the paper being rebutted in the current Antarctica warming case. This is indefensible.

    “PNS was never meant to imply that those with no expertise should be reviewing technical matters.”

    I am IENG with a degree in the history and philosophy of science, and I have no problem understanding and evaluating technical matters.

    “[Trenberth] identifies an important area of uncertainty with respect to the distribution of energy in the earth system.”

    How well do you think that uncertainty, which was well understood years ago, was communicated in the Summary for Policymakers in IPCC AR4?

    Marjoram:
    your silliness
    duplicitously misrepresentative
    nonsense

    I don’t attempt to debate technical matters with people who use this kind of rhetoric. J Bowers links to a website which leaves mistakes in the quantities on the y-axes of graphs uncorrected even after the blog owner is made aware of them by me.

    Sylvia said she’d gladly drop the ‘denier’ handle if I could

    “demonstrate a defensible basis for skepticism about AGW”.

    But then denies my legitimacy to do so.

    Impasse.

  10. Hasis says:

    J Bowers links to a website which leaves mistakes in the quantities on the y-axes of graphs uncorrected even after the blog owner is made aware of them by me.

    That just reminds me of Monckton stating that the whole IPCC SPM was wrong because he* ‘reported’ a decimal point in the wrong place on the SLR graph.

    And as for I don’t attempt to debate technical matters with people who use this kind of rhetoric

    Hysterical, you’ll need to do better than that Rog.

    *as though it hadn’t been spotted already

  11. Sylvia S Tognetti says:

    TB: re:

    others who do not have the capacity to fully understand the science but *feel* that they are being sold a dubious product because of the actions and demeanour of the salesmen have a valid position too

    They should be asking themselves who it is that is selling the dubious product. As for lack of integrity, you will have to be more specific.

    And to rephrase Majorajam’s question,perhaps you could provide some context for Trenberth’s remark and explain what he meant by it. (For anyone interested in further deconstruction of the argument made by TB, see the comment thread at Skeptical Science,linked to the top of the post TB links to).

    Nobody ever said science and peer review are perfect – I can point to a crappy paper that was a cover story in Nature on the value of ecosystem services. But such things do come out eventually, and it is a lot better than believing 10 impossible things before breakfast.

    My next post will comment further – it may be tomorrow or the weekend before I finish it.

  12. Sylvia,

    The objections to Peter Berenyi’s work on the post you link were addressed in the repost and continued discussion on my blog linked above.

    The context of the Trenberth quote is provided here:
    http://eastangliaemails.com/emails.php?eid=1048&filename=1255352257.txt

    I’ll await your next post with interest. Thanks for the discourse.

  13. J Bowers says:

    J Bowers links to a website which leaves mistakes in the quantities on the y-axes of graphs uncorrected even after the blog owner is made aware of them by me.

    Cop a load of this then: NOAA State of the Climate 2009 report
    http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20100728_stateoftheclimate.html

    Call NOAA. Convince them you know better. While you’re at it, go through all eleven volumes of EPA Response to Comments (thousands of them):

    Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act
    http://epa.gov/climatechange/endangerment.html#comments

  14. peterd says:

    Rog Tallbloke: “The AGW hypothesis (and it is only a hypothesis, not a proven theory), rests on the increase in the diameter of the troposphere caused by additional absorption of energy by extra co2 in the atmosphere. Best estimate is that the increase in co2 from pre-industrial levels has caused the height of the top of the troposphere to increase by around 150-200 meters. But this cannot be measured, so we rely on the measurement we make of the TOA energy balance.”
    Some comments of my own.
    (1) The term “AGW hypothesis” appears to be one of those contrarian terms that, by labelling “AGW” as hypothesis, undermines the science in the eyes of those who do not understand that there is, in fact, a good deal of evidence in support of the underlying theory. It is not “just a hypothesis”, Roger.
    (2) It was my understanding that changes in the height of the tropopause had been established, in part, from radiosonde measurements, and established independently of satellite measurements.
    (3) I assume that TB refers to ERBE when he claims a 5% uncertainty in “TOA energy balance”. But we do not need to refer to ERBE to know that greenhouse gases have caused a change in the outgoing longwave radiation, as measured by difference spectra between IRIS (ca.1970) and IMG (1997). These spectra point clearly to a difference caused by increased greenhouse gases. See, for example, the work of Harries’ group, beginning with their 2001 Nature paper. This is direct obswervational evidence for AGW.
    By all means, TB, have a “rational basis of [your] scepticism”, but you should try to represent the science accurately.
    Cheers

  15. “But we do not need to refer to ERBE to know that greenhouse gases have caused a change in the outgoing longwave radiation, as measured by difference spectra between IRIS (ca.1970) and IMG (1997). These spectra point clearly to a difference caused by increased greenhouse gases.”

    Any greenhouse gases in particular or water vapour in general? I understand the proponents of the AGW hypothesis claim a water vapour feedback to increasing temperature (not increasing co2 per se) But there seems to be a lot of water dropping out of the atmosphere since solar cycle 24 failed to take off, and this may be connected to the intriguing correlation I have discovered between the NCEP re-analysis of the radiosonde data and solar activity levels. In my opinion, this indicates that the radiosonde data is not as badly flawed as the climate mainstream makes out.
    http://tallbloke.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/shumidity-ssn96.png?w=614

  16. J Bowers says:

    Sylvia, a Google for your site has ‘This site may be compromised’ below the link. Thought you’d perhaps rather know than not.

    To protect the safety of our users, we show this warning message for search results that we believe may have been hacked or otherwise compromised.

    Tallbloke, do some science and publish in a proper journal.

    Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science
    http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/signs.html

    1. The discoverer pitches the claim directly to the media.
    2. The discoverer says that a powerful establishment is trying to suppress his or her work.
    3. The scientific effect involved is always at the very limit of detection.
    4. Evidence for a discovery is anecdotal.
    5. The discoverer says a belief is credible because it has endured for centuries.
    6. The discoverer has worked in isolation.
    7. The discoverer must propose new laws of nature to explain an observation.

  17. Sylvia S Tognetti says:

    JB: Regarding the google warning – I saw that recently and don’t know how to get rid of it. The offending words that appear in the search do not appear anywhere on this site. It seems that they appear in sites that link to particular pages (something I cannot prevent). Google says that when the bot finds no text on a page that is indicative of content, it picks up text from pages that link to it. I presume this is because the site and all the old links were redirected to a new directory when I switched to WordPress. I don’t know what to do except to stop the redirection and ask those who I know have links to the site to change their links. I want to do more homework on this before I do that. Advice welcome.

  18. Sylvia S Tognetti says:

    Rog – when I asked for a rational basis for your skepticism, I meant (as JB also suggests) that you do some actual science, i.e., provide references to published peer reviewed journal articles or assessments that cite peer-reviewed literature, or write a journal article yourself that puts the claim into context of the peer reviewed literature so that it can be properly evaluated. And spells out ALL the acronyms, and acknowledges those who supported the work. I could go and try to find the basis for claims you are making, or find where they have been responded to, but since you are making extraordinary claims, the burden is all yours.

    I’m not saying you are wrong. But my BS detector goes off when one claims such far-reaching conclusions and takes statements out of context, which you did not provide. The context for Trenberth’s statement (at the link you provided) being that we lack adequate observing systems, and well acknowledged uncertainties regarding the distribution of energy in the complex system that is our earth. This is not an engineering problem. I don’t have any specialized knowledge of this particular topic, but have staffed enough interdisciplinary scientific committees to understand the pitfalls in interdisciplinary work, the main one being the hubris of looking at everything through the framework of one’s own discipline. Engineers and physicists are well known for this.

  19. Sylvia:

    “The context for Trenberth’s statement (at the link you provided) being that we lack adequate observing systems, and well acknowledged uncertainties regarding the distribution of energy in the complex system that is our earth. This is not an engineering problem.”

    I agree it is only partly an engineering problem. Engineers have been hard at work attempting to reduce the problem so we can narrow the error band sufficiently to make more certain assessment.

    “the hubris of looking at everything through the framework of one’s own discipline. Engineers and physicists are well known for this.”

    Being a historian and philosopher of science as well as an engineer, I understand your statement. The Earth’s biosphere is largely responsible for our atmosphere being in the disequilibrium of negative entropy that it is. Lovelock’s first book should be compulsory reading for all climatologists. However, the enhanced greenhouse theory rests on models which take no account of the marine biosphere and this is just one of the many uncertainties our attempts to model our planet’s energy throughput faces. The effect of marine surface biota on cloud nucleation is a new field of study, as is the effect of solar UV (which varies far more than the sun’s output taken as a whole) on those biota.

    Climatology is a young discipline with the most enormous interdisciplinary task on hit’s hands. We should not expect sufficiently certain results from it so soon.

    My own work is in progress and is likewise not yet ready for engineering quality assessment work. If the atmospheric physicists and modelers can bring themselves to the realisation that they cannot complete the work at hand without building further interdisciplinary relationships there is a brighter future for the science of climatology.

    At the moment I fear it languishes in a cul de sac.

  20. J Bowers says:

    Tallbloke, are you pulling a Gish Gallop? Rumbled on Trenberth you switch to doubt based on the marine biosphere.

    Climatology is a young discipline with the most enormous interdisciplinary task on hit’s hands. We should not expect sufficiently certain results from it so soon.

    Not.

    * Wiki – History of climate change science
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_climate_change_science
    * The Discovery of Global Warming – Spencer Weart
    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.htm
    * OSS – History of climate science
    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/climate-science-history

    How old is Relativity again?

    Some reading, in which Arrhenius estimates a figure of +4C for doubling of CO2 (not in the English version), down from his 1896 estimate:

    * Swedish original: Världarnas utveckling (1906)
    http://runeberg.org/utveckling/
    * German translation: Das Werden der Welten (1907)
    http://www.archive.org/details/daswerdenderwelt00arrhuoft
    * English translation: Worlds in the Making (1908)
    http://www.archive.org/details/worldsinmakingev00arrhrich

    Do Halley’s mapping of the trade winds in the 17th Century, and Jefferson’s studies of the Jet Stream in the 18th Century, count as examples of early climatology?

  21. “Do Halley’s mapping of the trade winds in the 17th Century, and Jefferson’s studies of the Jet Stream in the 18th Century, count as examples of early climatology?”

    Yes.

    We’ve only been able to measure the system as a whole for about 7 years since the ocean float system ARGO came on-stream though. Prior to 2004, ocean heat content measurement and interpretation is problematic. Without an accurate idea of ocean heat content, all estimates of top of atmosphere energy balance are doomed to wide error bands.

    Trenberth tells us all this anyway in so many unspoken words. Not his fault it turns out the hypothesis isn’t fitting the facts.
    Berenyi who I linked above has a good handle on how to make the best use of the available data.

    Before that, 30 years of satellite data, with various orbit performance and splicing issues. Just over half an ocean cycle. Radiosonde data back to 1948. Before that disparate datasets using disparate measuring devices.

    And proxies.

    None of it yields an accurate assessment of sensitivity, and clouds are an intractable problem for modelers. There’s a way to go yet, but it’s real interesting science to learn.

  22. J Bowers says:

    There’s a way to go yet, but it’s real interesting science to learn.

    And how many years do you imagine that could take? Take a shot.

  23. Sylvia S Tognetti says:

    Rog: even if you don’t believe that sea level and temperatures (over land and oceans and in the ocean) and humidity are rising, and that glaciers, sea ice and snow cover are decreasing, could we perhaps agree that the science needs to be funded and that it would be preferable to get electricity without blowing the tops off of mountains, and polluting the air and water? (to mention just one of the co-benefits of addressing climate change)

  24. Slyvia,
    please don’t misunderstand me. I am a nature lover and nothing would please me more than to see other people choosing to live as my partner and I do using an average of 6Kw hours of electricity a day in our home. I don’t talk about it, I just get on with growing vegetables, using a many times repaired 60 year old, fuel efficient motorcycle for transport and heating my home and food with naturally fallen wood. I conserve, filter and use rainwater. I love walking and camping in the mountains, and I need to be able to purify water from the streams so my pack isn’t too heavy to carry.

    So yes, I’d like to see more environmentally friendly forms of energy generation, and more efficient use of it. The danger I see for people like you and me who care about environment is in the green movement promoting concern about human caused global warming as the overarching issue. There are plenty of urgent issues which can and should be addressed now, without hitching the credibility of environmentalism to the highly uncertain science of climatology.

    Of course further science needs to be funded. My own proposal at the Lisbon conference was to make a positive choice to fund parallel lines of investigation into the causes of climate change. That way, uncertainty can be openly dealt with and reduced, and cross fertilisation and validation/elimination of ideas can take place. Putting all the effort and funding into atmospheric science and starving other relevant fields of study in order to promote the illusion of consensus is fooling no-one, as the opinion polls clearly show. My university is suffering crippling cutbacks as are all UK universities. The new majority in the U.S. is also minded to reduce funding. Research which will potentially reduce uncertainty about how our planet’s climate systems operate is in danger of being curtailed. We need to take a more rational approach to sharing the available funding for research. And we need to do that right now.

  25. peterd says:

    RTB: Had you bothered to read the Harries et al. Nature (2001) paper to which I referred, you would have noted that the authors referred to changes in CO2, methane, ozone and CFCs as the main cause(s)of the spectral differences. You might also have understood that the authors noted that the difference spectra extracted showed the largest differences (expressed as differences in brightness temperature) in the spectral regions away from water, and the smallest differences in the region around 1200 wave-numbers, the region of water absorption.
    You appear to have avoided the issue of whether this is evidence that refutes your claim that AGW is merely “hypothesis”.
    I do not understand what you mean by “there seems to be a lot of water dropping out of the atmosphere since solar cycle 24 failed to take off”. Do you have a reference to the literature to support this statement?
    I feel I must align myself with JBowers in his assessment of your claim as to climatology being a “young discipline”. This is hard to believe, considering that Fourier identified the greenhouse effect neary two centuries ago.
    And as to your own on-going studies, I look forward to seeing them published in a reputable journal.
    Cheers

  26. J Bowers says:

    Putting all the effort and funding into atmospheric science and starving other relevant fields of study in order to promote the illusion of consensus is fooling no-one, as the opinion polls clearly show.

    I think you need to step out of the echo chamber once in a while.

    Jan. 31, 2011 – Public belief in climate change weathers storm, poll shows

    Events of past 18 months have little effect on Britons’ opinion, as 83% view climate change as a current or imminent threat
    [...]
    A large majority of people think that humanity is causing climate change, with 68% agreeing and 24% choosing to blame non-man-made factors,

    Sep. 8, 2010 – Large Majority of Americans Support Government Solutions to Address Global Warming

    Large majorities of the residents of Florida, Maine and Massachusetts believe the Earth has been getting warmer gradually over the last 100 years (81 percent, 78 percent and 84 percent, respectively), and large majorities favor government action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions…
    [...]
    Majority believe warming due to human activity

    Mirroring the national survey, the statewide research conducted in July shows that very large majorities think that if the world has been warming, it has been due primarily or at least partly to “things people do” – 72 percent in Florida, 76 percent in Maine and 80 percent in Massachusetts compared to 75 percent nationally.

  27. It’s a different story in the UK where belief in AGW fell from 41% TO 26% in the three months following the release of the CRU emails.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8500443.stm

    The ‘exoneration’ provided by the ‘inquiries’ has done little to improve the situation, because the public perceive them to have been whitewashes. There is plenty of evidence that they are right too.

    Public trust in the integrity of climate science is at a low point. This must be addressed properly.

  28. J Bowers says:

    TB, I believe the dates of my own links are more recent than your own. In fact, they are.

    The Populus poll you link to showed that 25% of those questioned did not think global warming was happening at all. The percentage of respondents who said climate change was a reality was 75%. If you look at the questions and responses at your link, then I think it’s safe to say that scepticism has declined in the past year, and acceptance of the science has increased.

    because the public perceive them to have been whitewashes.

    I suspect you’re projecting. Most of the public I’ve spoken to on the subject were barely aware of them.

  29. The percentage of respondents who said climate change was a reality was 75%.

    Yes, but this is very different from saying it was human that caused it. This conflation seems to be permanent difficulty in understanding.

  30. J Bowers says:

    But the percentage who accept the scientists’ version of what’s happening has increased. It’s there in the poll results; 68%. Your BBC poll says just over 40% a year ago IIRC. Or was the Feb 2010 Prosperus poll wrong now?

  31. I’d need to see all the poll questions before deciding whether it’s possible to make a valid comparison. The link at the bottom of the Guardian article ‘Examine the full Guardian/ICM poll data’, has been disabled. The link to ICM only shows one Guardian poll for January, which is not the same poll:
    http://www.icmresearch.co.uk/pdfs/2011_jan_guardian_poll.pdf

    Show me the data.

  32. J Bowers says:

    The link to the Guardian poll is at the start of the story:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/interactive/2011/jan/31/climate-change-poll

  33. Thanks. I think the response to Q5 is interesting. To me it indicates that the public has more sophistication in their thinking than some assume.

    61% said the cold snap would make no difference to their friends assessment of climate change. Seems the ‘weather is not climate’ meme has sunk in.

    The disagreement between the ICM and Populus polls is large. It would be interesting to get Populus to reconduct their poll now and see the difference between that and the ICM result.

  34. J Bowers says:

    Guardian. Feb 2010 – Slide in climate change belief is a temporary glitch
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2010/mar/12/climate-change-belief-polls

    “An Ipsos-Mori poll in the UK released in February showed those thinking climate change is “definitely” happening had fallen from 44% to 31% in the year to the middle of January. A Populus poll for the BBC conducted on 3-4 February revealed that 25% of people didn’t think global warming was happening, up from 15% in November.

    Look at that the other way round and the Ipsos-Mori poll showed 91% of people accepted climate change was happening, and the Populus poll 75%. The difference is probably due to the former poll not including people over 65, who are significantly more sceptical, while the latter was conducted at the peak of negative news coverage about climate science. As ever with polls, the different phrasing of questions matters too.”

  35. dhogaza says:

    Sylvia, just so you understand the level of crankdom you’re dealing with in Tallbloke, check out his website. He essentially thinks all of physics of the last century or so is false, that the aether is real, and speaks favorably of a man who claims to have shown that pi=4 (only under some circumstances, mind you!), that the calculus of Leibnetz and Newton is wrong, etc etc.

    There’s really no point in trying to have a rational discussion of science with someone who’s this far off the mainstream view of reality.

  36. dhogaza says:

    Also, note that Tallbloke’s credentials:

    I am IENG with a degree in the history and philosophy of science

    Given that his IENG is, essentially, a vocational degree (similar to an Associates Degree given by a community college here in my part of the United States), and that the history and philosophy of science isn’t a technical degree, his claim that this shows that:

    I have no problem understanding and evaluating technical matters.

    Isn’t supported by his credentials, certainly not to the degree of claiming superiority to researchers with a PhD and history of doing and publishing science.

  37. “Sylvia, just so you understand the level of crankdom you’re dealing with in Tallbloke, check out his website.He essentially thinks all of physics of the last century or so is false, that the aether is real”

    This is incorrect. I think some of the inferences drawn from the experimental results are flawed, and that they do not provide a sufficient basis for sweeping some other experimental results under the carpet of history. But as a qualified historian and philosopher of science, I’m not alone in that.

    So on my blog you will find various posts about ‘anomalous’ results which merit discussion. Regarding ‘the aether’ results experimentally determined by Miller in 1926 and successfully replicated with modern equipment by Galaev in 2002 for example, I find more than one plausible explanation which is consistent with currently accepted ‘laws of physics’. By making a superficial survey, the troll mistakes my playfully provocative presentation as a statement of belief rather than the invitation to informative discussion that it actually is.

    Regarding the book review of the man (Miles Mathis) who wrote the Pi=4 essay. Some of Mile’s ideas are interesting and lead to results which potentially shed light on longstanding unsolved physics puzzles. Other ideas I don’t agree with on first reading, although I wouldn’t dismiss them and denigrate the author of them in an ‘a priori’ way.

    Next, the troll attacks my credentials, without bothering to tell us about his own. In fact, to attain IENG (Incorporated Engineer) status in the UK, I studied 20 subjects, including Maths, mechanical science, and fluid dynamics to University degree level, spending an extra year converting my HNC (Higher National Certificate) to HND (Diploma).

    So, will the troll now tell us about his own qualifications and scientific positions, or will he rest content with his attempts to slime and slur other people? From what I’ve seen of the other input to debate made by this person around the net, this seems to be mostly what he has to offer.

  38. Turboblocke says:

    There is a vast difference between a Chartered Engineer and an Incorporated Engineer in the UK.

    Chartered Engineer
    An accredited Bachelors degree with honours in engineering or technology, plus either an appropriate Masters degree accredited by a licensed professional engineering institution, or appropriate further learning to Masters level:
    or an accredited integrated MEng degree.

    Incorporated Engineer
    An accredited Bachelors or honours degree in engineering or technology
    or a Higher National Certificate or Diploma or a Foundation Degree in engineering or technology, plus appropriate further learning to degree level; or an NVQ4 or SVQ4 which has been approved for the purpose by a licensed professional engineering institution.

  39. Hank Roberts says:

    > coloradocollege
    Yep, encouraging, not surprising:

    “Climate change and global warming, on the other hand, rank below 11 other issues as an environmental problem facing their state. The latter is the most politicized issue tested in the survey, with attitudes about whether to take action on global warming varying dramatically along party lines.
    Voters are solidly in support of the EPA requiring reductions in carbon emissions from sources like power plants, cars and factories in an effort to reduce global warming. Our past research would lead us to conclude that voters see auxiliary benefits to addressing carbon emissions and a broader benefit to air quality from such a policy….”

  40. John Mashey says:

    I’m still hoping for “… but comments on PNS and Lisbon etc are going to have to be a separate post, coming next.”

  41. Sylvia S Tognetti says:

    John – and everyone else who has asked me to comment on Lisbon,
    Thank you for your patience. I won’t bore you with everything that has kept me from blogging but I will try to get back to it and finish up that next post this afternoon, before it turned into a full-blown research project. I have an outline that could easily become that. And questions for Jerry…

  42. John Mashey says:

    Thanks. No rush on my part, but I know how an idea to write something can get deferred, and I’m happy to know it is still somewhere in the pipeline.

  43. Eli Rabett says:

    More please.

    BTW this is what TB was babbling about

    If we increase the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere, the level at which energy can be radiated to space rises also because of increased absorption, but since this higher level is colder and the pressure and density are lower, the doorway becomes narrower, and the surface has to warm more in order to shove the same amount of energy out and restore the balance with the incoming energy carried by the sunlight.

  44. The issue that we can no more rely on the “normal” in the sense Heidi Cullen refers to is discussed by hydrologists as “non-stationarity” (of time series, a technical term in stochastic theories in applied mathematics). The phrase “Stationarity is dead” used by Chris Milly at USGS (also with NOAA GFDL) in 2007 (see list of his publication list http://water.usgs.gov/nrp/proj.bib/milly.htm ) became popular (popular within the community of a scientific discipline, I mean).

    But, scientists can be still “normal” in the Kuhnian sense when they work with hydrology in a non-stationary (or post-normal, in a sense) world. They continue publishing academic papers in Water Resources Research of AGU, for example.

    It seems really post-normal (in Kuhnian sense) to me that scientists are sometimes asked for what they cannot answer with confidence. Then, the society, including the scientists, must develop adequate combination of questions and answers. Perhaps we need a new type of semi-experts (interactional experts, in terms of Harry Collins and Robert Evans) to adjust questions considering both what society requests and what scientists can answer.

  45. Excuse me. The link to Chris Milly’s list of publication in my previous post should be as follows.
    http://water.usgs.gov/nrp/proj.bib/milly.html

  46. Sylvia S Tognetti says:

    Kooiti – good points. What seems to be often overlooked is that post-normal science does not replace normal science, i.e., publication in journals and peer review by those in the field remains necessary but not sufficient. PNS is more like an extension of NS that is complementary to it. And good suggestion regarding the need to adjust the questions to ones that science can answer – much of the problem lies in the public image of science and the expectation of definitive answers.

    (key points in my next post that I need to finish. Pressure is on…)

  47. I think that the IPCC guideline on description of uncertainties is an example of “adjusting questions” as I mentioned above. Stephen Schneider, who certainly contributed much to it, wrote what he meant in “Science as a Contact Sport”. People who engage in risk assessment want a range of outcomes with its probability. I think the guideline worked in some cases. But, as demonstrated in a few real failures (such as the outlook of Himalayan glaciers) among many purported failures of IPCC WG2, it sometimes did not work. Apparently some authors attached labels of the uncertainty scale without much thoughts. And, as the InterAcademy Council panel’s report says, sometimes a very broad range is mentioned with high likelihood, which statement is practically meaningless. So the IAC panel suggests using simpler schemes unless precise estimates of probability is available. Expression of uncertainty is still a difficult problem.

    I also want to notice that it is difficult to take the precautionary principle, or (not always equivalent) taking the worst scenario, as the principle, though it is a good as a hint. Our outlook about continuous variables does not usually have a well-defined “high end”. There is some possibility of a very high value to happen, but we cannot assign it a quantitative value of probability, except saying that the probability is very low. Then whether we should include such a scenerio depends on individual value judgements rather than scientific assessments. Perhaps we had better taking the high end of such outcomes that quantitative probability can be assigned, taking notice that we technically exclude rare possibilities.

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