December 14, 2018

"You, Too, Are in Denial of Climate Change."

Writes David Wallace-Wells in New York Magazine.
Why can’t we see the threat right in front of us?... There is, to start with, anchoring, which explains how we build mental models around as few as one or two initial examples, no matter how unrepresentative — in the case of global warming, the world we know today, which is reassuringly temperate. There is the ambiguity effect, which suggests that most people are so uncomfortable contemplating uncertainty they will accept lesser outcomes in a bargain to avoid dealing with it. In theory, with climate, uncertainty should be an argument for action — much of the ambiguity arises from the range of possible human inputs, a quite concrete prompt we choose to process instead as a riddle, which discourages us. There is anthropocentric thinking, by which we build our view of the universe outward from our own experience, a reflexive tendency which some especially ruthless environmentalists have derided as “human supremacy,” and which surely shapes our ability to apprehend genuinely existential threats to the species — a shortcoming which many climate scientists have mocked. “The planet will survive,” they say, “it’s the humans that may not.”

These biases are just drawn from the “A” volume of the behavioral-economics literature — and are just a sampling of that volume. Among the most destructive effects that appear later in the library are these: the bystander effect, or our tendency to wait for others to act rather than acting ourselves; confirmation bias, by which we seek evidence for what we already understand to be true rather than endure the cognitive pain of reconceptualizing our world; the default effect, or tendency to choose the present option over alternatives, which is related to the status quo bias, or preference for things as they are, however bad that is; and the endowment effect, or instinct to demand more to give up something we have than we actually value it (or had paid to acquire or establish it). We have an illusion of control, the behavioral economists tell us, and also suffer from overconfidence. We can’t see anything but through cataracts of self-deception....


«Oldest   ‹Older   201 – 213 of 213
tim in vermont said...

I love stuff like this:

The explanation for the divergence problem is still unclear, but is likely to represent the impact of some other climatic variable that is important to modern northern hemisphere forests but not significant before the 1950s. Rosanne D'Arrigo, senior research scientist at the Tree Ring Lab at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, hypothesises that "beyond a certain threshold level of temperature the trees may become more stressed physiologically, especially if moisture availability does not increase at the same time."

It all goes away if you assume what you are trying to prove and there is never a need to examine your premises!

Of course another explanation that would be far more plausible is that “scientists” cherry-picked the data through backtest overfitting and as soon as the model leaves the training period, it falls apart. Naah!

The problem with ice core data is that as you go back in time, the resolution degrades so that individual warm and cool years are lost, so comparison with the modern era of precise measurements is very difficult.

When the satellites were first launched we were in an era of global cooling and vulcanic activity, Mt St Helens, etc. Global cooling was the scare at the time, so trends from there mean little.

Big Mike said...

@MadMan, refreshingly honest. As a rule simple models do a poor job of modeling complex systems, but complex models tend to develop unexpected computational interactions. U-Wisconsin is home to a top-notch applied mathematician you might profitably talk to. Carl de Boor is an emeritus professor now, but he’s won some very prestigious award

JAORE said...

A few quick points:
Computer models are valuable IF their outcome matches reality. Their accuracy, however, fades as the time span involves lengthens,as the number of variables increase, and the number of speculative inputs rise. Climate change models are failing the first part and exhibit the Uh-Oh factors in part two to an astounding degree.

The scientific method is (oversimplifying here) is:
Hey! Look at this!
Wow, how did that happen?
Well, I looked at these things, changed this and got THAT!
Let me try. Oh sorry, you must have.....

In climate change we have a different story. The basic inputs that mixed (tree rings, ice cores, etc.) serogates (at best)and that are, apparently both cherry picked and "adjusted". Well, OK says Honest Sciency Guy,let me look at what you picked and how you adjusted it. Nope, says Warming Man, you must be a denier, beside I really can't reconstruct my data.

Throw in a few things like a STATE funded University saying you can't see our records, use of the term Denier, efforts to criminalize skepticism, the ever changing Dater o' Doom and the rank hypocrisy of the faithful... feh.

Oh yeah, you can believe me, I have an engineering degree, just like Bill Nye.

Just call me Bill Deny, the Science Guy

JAORE said...

Sorry, " Dater O' Doom" should be Date O' Doom.

Dater O' Doom might be Laslo...

Original Mike said...

"The problem with ice core data is that as you go back in time, the resolution degrades so that individual warm and cool years are lost, so comparison with the modern era of precise measurements is very difficult."

Looking at Figure 8 in Henry's reference, all the proxies do that. 0 - 1000 AD is warm, with no structure, then there's the little ice age, and then modern warming. Except tree rings, which barely even shows the little ice age.

bagoh20 said...

Personally, I think the planet is too cold, and I live in Vegas. Looking back at very long term climate variation, it's never really been too hot for life. It expands toward the poles and generally increases in variety and expanse, but the ice ages have been devastating, sometime extending ice to the lower latitudes, and I think they represent a bigger threat, not to mention we are due for one.

bagoh20 said...

What would be worse for life, especially us: warmer temps and a higher sea level or the majority of land supporting human civilization under miles of ice?

tim in vermont said...

Tree rings confound multiple variables and should be dropped, there is no way to know that the same thing affecting tree growth today didn't affect it in other warm periods, but this one we imagine is different. Because reasons. Until they do a climbdown from tree rings, it's obvious that they are playing at politics, not science.

It would also be very interesting to see how the other proxies track this century. 20 years should be enough, but it's almost like they are hiding a decline, isn't it?

tim in vermont said...

Last paragraph of the paper on multiple proxies:

Finally, it should be noted that whereas these analyses are useful for quantifying some aspects of temperature sensitivity, they are poorly suited to determine the extent to which the records reflect long-term (centuries to millennia) changes in past temperature, or the stability of the modern relation back through time.

Which is true enough.

There is no word on why they stopped their study at 2000 either. Incuriousness about the divergence problem is the most likely cause. Nor do they explain why they stopped at the year zero, likely to remove the Roman Warm Period. Here is a reconstruction based on speliotherms. The main problem of which is that it is not alarming:

The data is collected from here: and represents speliotherm data from around the globe covering the current interglacial, which is kind of long in the tooth. And not as warm as the last interglacial, BTW, but you know, this is uncharted territory!

Henry has given me something to think about though, so that's interesting. However, nothing suggests that it isn't true that we were on a dive into a new ice age and if we did cause the "blade of the hockey stick" warming, we did a great thing for humanity.

Original Mike said...

"There is no word on why they stopped their study at 2000 either."

They probably couldn't be bothered. The science is settled, afterall.

tim in vermont said...

This is what I don't get:

They argue in their paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that natural climate forcings like volcanoes, El Niño, and changes in solar activity could not have been responsible for the cooling of the upper atmosphere and warming of the lower atmosphere, and they identify a clear human “fingerprint” to the warming seen over the last 30 years. While observational data from satellites show less warming than predicted by most models, Santer and his co-authors demonstrate that the observed warming is consistent with models including both human and natural forcings, but inconsistent with models using only natural forcings and variability.

All of the enhanced greenhouse effect is based on the idea of stratospheric cooling as the troposphere warms. Google it yourself and pick any source your trust. So if the cooling is less than the models say, thermodynamics says that either the troposphere is going to warm less than the models say, or some increase in incoming energy (solar variability?) is at play.

I do like that they confined themselves to the satellite records though, since inferring temp data from the old radiosondes involves a lot of hocus pocus and handwaving. Satellites are "lukewarmers" like myself.

tim in vermont said...

Like I've been saying all along:

Divergence results either because of some unique
environmental factor in recent decades, because trees reach an asymptotic maximum
growth rate at some temperature, or because higher temperatures reduce tree
growth. If trees show a nonlinear growth response, the result is to potentially truncate
any historical temperatures higher than those in the calibration period, as well as
to reduce the mean and range of reconstructed values compared to actual. This
produces the divergence effect. This creates a cold bias in the reconstructed record
and makes it impossible to make any statements about how warm recent decades
are compared to historical periods.

tim in vermont said...

This quote from Quilette by a former radical about radicals covers climate science pretty well.

"No worldview maps reality perfectly. But when a worldview encounters discordant knowledge, it can either evolve to accommodate it, or it can treat it as a threat to the worldview’s integrity. If a worldview treats all discordant knowledge as threat, then it is an ideology. Its adherents learn to see themselves as guardians rather than seekers of the truth. The practical consequences of such a worldview can be devastating.."

«Oldest ‹Older   201 – 213 of 213   Newer› Newest»