….and does Professor Judith Curry read Winds??
Over at Climate Progress, Professor Judith Curry, Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech, is getting slagged because she won’t tow the line.
Now there are about five different arguments that are made in this piece, and as I note below I’m just giving up on dealing with this issue any more.
But note this; my biggest problem with the warmists has been and continues to be three things:
1) they take a potentially (possibly even probably) real problem and act like it’s an absolute truth;
2) they generate that claim of absolute truth is ways that I find conceptually unsound;
3) at a root level, where there should be open discourse and what I believe ‘true scientific process’ to be, they act like cranks.
Let’s talk about 3) for a moment and then about 2).
Here’s someone (Curry) with pretty robust credentials in the discipline.
She steps off the reservation a year ago with her eminently reasonable “Manifesto” – published at Climate Progress. And now here’s Climate Progress talking about her yesterday:
Confusionist Judith Curry goes ‘wicked’ and mangles the work of Martin Weitzman
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.
One 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.
In otherwards, warmists need to start acting more like Galileo and less like Urban VIII.
Finally, there’s my discomfort conceptually with the ways that they are attempting to drive “certainty” into climate arguments. Complex modeling tools are very useful in Mediocrestan, but – as the folks who brought us the recent financial Troubles have shown – not all that useful outside of it.
Things that happen inside “bounded reality” can be readily modeled and duplicated in a lab setting. Things outside simply can’t.
That’s the essence of Rittel and Webber’s claim, and that’s the perfect definition of a “wicked problem”. We’ve been saying AGW is a ‘wicked problem’ here for a long time.
Now because the models are weak, the problem is wicked, and the warmists are jerks, does that mean we just shrug? No, I think certainly not.
I can think of a bunch of sound reasons to minimize your emissions and to make that an area of emphasis – reduced dependence on ME oil, more secure infrastructure, local air pollution, etc. etc. Even just plain saving money.
Here’s Taleb on the issue:
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”
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.
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.”
I’m going to resolve to stop kicking at the anthill that makes up the Warmist controversy and start focusing on interesting policy and technology options.
Meanwhile, I’ll suggest that others do what we’ve managed to do with some success – buy a NGV car if your commute permits it, and get PV solar for your house; with light subsidies it a break-even today, and as I think energy costs are headed up, it’ll be very valuable later on.