Confusionist Judith Curry goes 'wicked' and mangles the work of Martin WeitzmanOne way humans make decisions, when there's insufficient data, is by looking at the behavior of those who hold different positions. When I look at this kind of behavior - which isn't designed to engage, advance human knowledge, or do anything except drive a heretic out into the darkness, it really doesn't do a lot to improve my confidence in the people who are engaging in that kind of behavior.
November 17, 2010
Climate change can be categorized as a "wicked problem."[Note] Wicked problems are difficult or impossible to solve, there is no opportunity to devise an overall solution by trial and error, and there is no real test of the efficacy of a solution to the wicked problem. Efforts to solve the wicked problem may reveal or create other problems....
Xu, Crittenden et al. [Note] argue that "gigaton problems require gigaton solutions." The wickedness of the climate problem precludes a gigaton solution (either technological or political).
Judith Curry abandoned science this year. She asserted I was "directly involved in Climategate"; James Annan explained "(S)He who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense"; William Connolley eviscerated a recent paper on Antarctic sea ice (here), which notes, "The main problem with the paper is the uncritical use of invalid data"; and Bart Verheggen explained, "Her unfounded allegations are insulting for the whole profession.
1) Climate Change. I am hyper-conservative ecologically (meaning super-Green). My position on the climate is to avoid releasing pollutants in the atmosphere, on the basis of ignorance, regardless of current expert opinion (climate experts, like banking risk managers, have failed us in the past in foreseeing long term damages and I cannot accept certainty in a certain class of nonlinear models). This is an extension of my general idea that one does not need rationalization with the use of complicated models (by fallible experts) to the edict: "do not disturb a complex system" since we do not know the consequences of our actions owing to complicated causal webs. (Incidentally, this ideas also makes me anti-war). I explicitly explained the need to "leave the planet the way we got it"I agree both when he says "climate experts, like banking risk managers, have failed us in the past in foreseeing long term damages and I cannot accept certainty in a certain class of nonlinear models" and that it's a good idea to "leave the planet the way we got it."
. Instead, I was presented as a "climate-change denier" (Lucy Mangan), and my environmental views summarized by "Climate change is not man-made" (Nicholas Watts). A minimum of homework on the part of your staff would have revealed that I am one of the authors of the recent King of Sweden's Bonham declaration on attitude to climate change.
Ms. Jackson settled on a three-pronged strategy. Invoking the notion of thrift, she set out to persuade towns to compete with one another to become more energy-efficient. She worked with civic leaders to embrace green jobs as a way of shoring up or rescuing their communities. And she spoke with local ministers about "creation care," the obligation of Christians to act as stewards of the world that God gave them, even creating a sermon bank with talking points they could download.
"I don't recall us being recruited under a climate change label at all," said Stacy Huff, an executive for the Coronado Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, which was enlisted to help the project. Mr. Huff describes himself as "somewhat skeptical" about global warming.You don't need to believe in, or even care about, climate change to agree that we need to change our patterns of energy use.
Mr. Huff said the project workers emphasized conservation for future generations when they recruited his group. The message resonated, and the scouts went door to door in low-income neighborhoods to deliver and install weatherization kits.
"It is in our DNA to leave a place better than we found it," he said.
From my point of view, there are three reasons energy is worth some serious investment:This program is a great example of what I talked about in that post - "The 3% Solution" to our energy issues.
1. Slow the rate of carbon emissions, in the off chance that they will have an impact on global warming.
2. Slow the rate of investment in jihad by the oil-rich Arab states, who have been the principal financiers of the spread of the core religious ideology that - when combined with alienation and anomie - leads to recruits who blow themselves and others up.
3. Shelter our domestic energy infrastructure from disruption - whether through embargo, terrorism, or system disruption caused by error or chance.
But beyond the headlines, Ioannidis was shocked at the range and reach of the reversals he was seeing in everyday medical research. "Randomized controlled trials," which compare how one group responds to a treatment against how an identical group fares without the treatment, had long been considered nearly unshakable evidence, but they, too, ended up being wrong some of the time. "I realized even our gold-standard research had a lot of problems," he says. Baffled, he started looking for the specific ways in which studies were going wrong. And before long he discovered that the range of errors being committed was astonishing: from what questions researchers posed, to how they set up the studies, to which patients they recruited for the studies, to which measurements they took, to how they analyzed the data, to how they presented their results, to how particular studies came to be published in medical journals.
This array suggested a bigger, underlying dysfunction, and Ioannidis thought he knew what it was. "The studies were biased," he says. "Sometimes they were overtly biased. Sometimes it was difficult to see the bias, but it was there." Researchers headed into their studies wanting certain results - and, lo and behold, they were getting them. We think of the scientific process as being objective, rigorous, and even ruthless in separating out what is true from what we merely wish to be true, but in fact it's easy to manipulate results, even unintentionally or unconsciously. "At every step in the process, there is room to distort results, a way to make a stronger claim or to select what is going to be concluded," says Ioannidis. "There is an intellectual conflict of interest that pressures researchers to find whatever it is that is most likely to get them funded."Thomas Kuhn talked about this: when he talked about "normal science" and said that ""No part of the aim of normal science is to call forth new sorts of phenomenon; indeed those that will not fit the box are often not seen at all."
Perhaps only a minority of researchers were succumbing to this bias, but their distorted findings were having an outsize effect on published research. To get funding and tenured positions, and often merely to stay afloat, researchers have to get their work published in well-regarded journals, where rejection rates can climb above 90 percent. Not surprisingly, the studies that tend to make the grade are those with eye-catching findings. But while coming up with eye-catching theories is relatively easy, getting reality to bear them out is another matter. The great majority collapse under the weight of contradictory data when studied rigorously. Imagine, though, that five different research teams test an interesting theory that's making the rounds, and four of the groups correctly prove the idea false, while the one less cautious group incorrectly "proves" it true through some combination of error, fluke, and clever selection of data. Guess whose findings your doctor ends up reading about in the journal, and you end up hearing about on the evening news? Researchers can sometimes win attention by refuting a prominent finding, which can help to at least raise doubts about results, but in general it is far more rewarding to add a new insight or exciting-sounding twist to existing research than to retest its basic premises...after all, simply re-proving someone else's results is unlikely to get you published, and attempting to undermine the work of respected colleagues can have ugly professional repercussions.
The basic physics and chemistry of how carbon dioxide and other human-produced greenhouse gases trap heat in the lower atmosphere have been understood for nearly two centuries. Overloading the atmosphere with carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is heating the planet, shrinking the Arctic ice cap, melting glaciers and raising sea levels. It is leading to more widespread drought, more frequent heat waves and more powerful hurricanes. Even without my work, or that of the entire sub-field of studying past climates, scientists are in broad agreement on the reality of these changes and their near-certain link to human activity.
Burying our heads in the sand would leave future generations at the mercy of potentially dangerous changes in our climate. The only sure way to mitigate these threats is to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions dramatically over the next few decades. But even if we don't reduce emissions, the reality of adapting to climate change will require responses from government at all levels.At the climate skeptical Watt's Up With That blog, Professor of Physics Hal Lewis:
Challenges to policy proposals for how to deal with this problem should be welcome -- indeed, a good-faith debate is essential for wise public policymaking.
But the attacks against the science must stop. They are not good-faith questioning of scientific research. They are anti-science.
... a few of us tried to bring science into the act (that is, after all, the alleged and historic purpose of APS), and collected the necessary 200+ signatures to bring to the Council a proposal for a Topical Group on Climate Science, thinking that open discussion of the scientific issues, in the best tradition of physics, would be beneficial to all, and also a contribution to the nation. I might note that it was not easy to collect the signatures, since you denied us the use of the APS membership list. We conformed in every way with the requirements of the APS Constitution, and described in great detail what we had in mind...simply to bring the subject into the open.Here's where I struggle with the whole AGW issue. I think it's certainly possible - maybe even likely that AGW is real. I'd support, unforced, a bunch of low-cost, high-impact policy changes that would have an impact on atmospheric carbon and (incidentally) the domestic economy and national security.
5. To our amazement, Constitution be damned, you declined to accept our petition, but instead used your own control of the mailing list to run a poll on the members' interest in a TG on Climate and the Environment. You did ask the members if they would sign a petition to form a TG on your yet-to-be-defined subject, but provided no petition, and got lots of affirmative responses. (If you had asked about sex you would have gotten more expressions of interest.) There was of course no such petition or proposal, and you have now dropped the Environment part, so the whole matter is moot. (Any lawyer will tell you that you cannot collect signatures on a vague petition, and then fill in whatever you like.) The entire purpose of this exercise was to avoid your constitutional responsibility to take our petition to the Council.
At a meeting Monday of 150 climate scientists, representatives of Britain's weather office proposed that the world's climatologists start all over again and produce a new trove of global temperature data that is open to public scrutiny and "rigorous" peer review....what a great idea!!
In naming roustabout, lumberjack, ironworker, and dairy farmer America's "worst jobs," CareerCast.com omitted one whose awfulness is counterbalanced only by its public-spiritedness: fact-checking Bjørn Lomborg.
Erm, remember the green power potion of the stimulus, which was supposed to generate all those new American jobs? Uh, maybe not...
"The Workshop was the first to report last October that more than 80 percent of the first $1 billion in grants to wind energy companies went to foreign firms. Since then, the administration has stopped making announcements of new grants to wind, solar and geothermal companies, but has handed out another $1 billion, bringing the total given out to $2.1 billion and the total that went to companies based overseas to more than 79 percent.... The same day the Workshop's first reported on this story a consortium of American and Chinese companies announced a deal to build a $1.5 billion wind farm in Texas, using imported Chinese turbines. Company officials said they planned to collect $450 million in stimulus grants for the project. The deal would create dozens of jobs in the U.S. and thousands in China."
Even Chuck Schumer [D-NY] is annoyed. Repeat after me, kiddies:
"I pledge allegiance to America's debt, and to the Chinese government that lends us money. And to the interest we will pay, compoundable, with higher taxes, fewer services, and lower pay, until the day we die."
Aren't you glad it was all worth it, though? Yeah, me too.