Not Neutral, Not In The Middle

Everybody’s tired of the climate wars.

But not tired enough to quit fighting. This weblog is an attempt to differentiate some of us involved in the discussion from people at the extremes, those who hold either unwarrantedly skeptical views of what really is basic science or those who have let their imaginations run wild with apocalyptic visions of a future that the science does not predict.

We are Lukewarmers. We’re not organized. There is no motto, no creed, no manifesto. We don’t meet, we converse infrequently and we don’t have a secret handshake.

What we seem (so far) to have in common is an understanding that the basic underpinnings of climate science are understandable, well-grounded and not controversial, plus the growing realization that one of the key components of an extended theory of climate change has been pushed too far.

That component is the sensitivity of our atmosphere to a doubling of the concentrations of CO2. The activists who have tried to dominate the discussion of climate change for more than twenty years have insisted that this sensitivity is high, and will amplify the warming caused by CO2 by 3, 4 or even 10 times the 1C of warming provided by a doubling of CO2 alone.

Lukwarmers, for  a variety of reasons, think it’s lower.

There’s a lot more to it. That’s what the blog is about.

Let the games begin.

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37 responses to “Not Neutral, Not In The Middle

  1. I think that this is just what we need. My New Year’s resolution is to make frequent posts and to keep the tone positive. In a way, you could call me a lukewarmer, but I prefer P.E.A.C.E. (Progressive Environmentalist Against Climate Extremism).
    I believe that the globe is warming and a component can be attributed to the greenhouse effect of co2, but it is small, around 0.5C/century. It is dwarfed by natural variation, both solar and volcanic. It is about the same magnitude as other man made changes in climate.
    CO2 is not our most pressing environmental problem and may not even be the most serious human impact on climate. But reducing use of fossil fuels should be a long term goal for many reasons.

    May you all have a Merry Christmas and a productive New Year.

  2. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, too, Marty. And any time you wish to expand your thinking on P.E.A.C.E., you have a forum here, either in comments or as a guest post.

  3. Tom, Commenting on what you have already posted will take me most of 2013. I will just start throwing out comments and see what attracts interest. Then maybe we will try some guest logs.
    1. The current consensus in climate science has sparked widespread skepticism from a wide variety of scientists.. Is climate science unique in this respect. I think that the real difference is that there are trillions at stake here. The big bang, relativity, quantum chromodynamics, Copenhagen quantum mechanics, and plate tectonics all have their distractors, but they are all still well funded and it is impossible to get tenure if you criticize any of them.
    2. It might be useful to explore how climate science got into this mess. I have an oral history to tell and I am interested in hearing others. I have found no evidence of a Marxist conspiracy or fossil fuel funding of skeptics.

  4. Hiya Marty

    When you want to start telling your history, this place is open.

  5. Marty,
    “distractors” is a pretty good term, but it might suggest a bit less respect for the doubters, a term I favor.

  6. Hi Tom,
    It might be good to consider what might happen here that isn’t happening at Bishop’s, Judith’s or CA.

    I would much prefer to read at a place where i will not be frequently confronted by political conspiracy theory, Agenda 21, groups focused on the deconstructing modern civilization, and so forth. I think McIntyre’s proscription of allegations of motivation is a good one.

    In any case, I find the discussions of that area at Ben Pile’s to be interesting and for the most part plausible – Geoff Chambers’ as well.

    But my concern is whether much can be understood of this subject without comprehending the math and statistical analyses.

    My late father-in-law, MIT ’34 was convinced that you could not really comprehend complex processes if you couldn’t follow the numbers. What if he was right about this?

    At the same time, some of the papers we see summarized, for example the one describing the filling-in, correcting, and extrapolation of significance to covering a continent of a single poor abandoned sensor at an abandoned antarctic base seems to fail at the junior high school level.

    That paper is clearly the work of authors who will find themselves off Richard Muller’s reading list.

    So the simple question is, if we avoid discussions of motivation, cannot follow the numbers, proscribe discussions of conspiracies, what will be left – surely not feeding off the blogs where these things are discussed – and for numbers I would mean Lucia’s?

    E.M. Smith seems to hit a fairly good middle ground as does Verity. When WUWT posts a technical piece, there seems to be worthy technical commenting, but you have to wade through a lot of nonsense to get to it.

    Tom, I do think that the folks who believe that you cannot grasp a process without the numbers may not be adept with language.

    You certainly are, but …

    • Hi J,

      At one point I thought understanding the equations was the key. But I quickly learned that solving for x isn’t as important as knowing the correct inputs to the equations. And for that we have to trust scientists. Not all scientists, but it really comes down to them.

  7. That’s good stuff, there, Marty,
    keep going.

  8. “It would also appease a faction that thought nuclearizing europe’s energy sector would provide huge geopolitical advantages, especially in the middle east.”

    I was in the Middle East at the time(end of carters presidency) and had been briefed on the estimates of the devastation that would occur in Europe if the Middle East Oil spigot got turned off.(There was very little North Sea Oil then and expecting the Soviets to export to NATO was beyond unthinkable). Numbers like 50% unemployment within 90 days and 30,000 people freezing to death per month.

    Europe was seriously exposed to the possibility of energy supplies being turned off for geo-political reasons.(The US was also exposed, but less so since we had lots of coal) It still is, Vlad Putin currently seems content on exporting his natural gas and oil at exorbitant prices but that was not the case in 1979.

    An interview with Carter’s speech writer about Carter’s defend the Persian gulf as any cost speech
    http://www.jimmycarterlibrary.gov/library/exitInt/Hertzberg.pdf
    “We were saying what this speech had to say to the Russians was that if you go to the Persian Gulf we’ll stop you by any means necessary. And the only means we had were nuclear war that I know of. And we didn’t know–we just didn’t know.”

    I still can’t quite get my head around the timing of the release of the movie “The China Syndrome’ 12 days before the Three Mile Island accident complete with references to rendering an area the size of Pennsylvania uninhabitable.

    Was the UK Miners strike a ‘legitimate grievance’ or a message from the KGB that they could drop kick the UK economy at will?

  9. You are now added to my read list, and to my climate-change resource page (on a site where I am in the minority on climate, being a skeptic).

    Thanks for being there!

  10. I will respond to all comments after I am finished with the whole “memoir.” My only response for now, is that I may be remembering some things wrong, please correct me. But I will stand by the main story.
    PS Harry, I hated the “China Syndrome” when I saw it. I was still defending the nuke industry when 3 mile island happened. I also thought the coincidence was just too much. But I couldn’t imagine why anyone with access would do it. I think that the reference was based on calculations that were done because PA was the site of many aging plants.

    • Marty,

      Carter Presidential Directive #62 from the Carter Presidential Library

      http://www.jimmycarterlibrary.gov/documents/pddirectives/pd62.pdf

      “Given the danger that Soviet success in asserting influence over the oil producing status of the Persian Gulf region could undermine the viability of NATO and Japan…..”

      Even in the Carter White house there was a belief that the Soviet Union was actively attempting to undermine the energy security of the US,NATO and Japan.

      If that was the view in the Whitehouse…I would assume that would also be the view in Whitehall.

      Sometimes trying to ascertain motivations for why things happen is difficult if the motivations are sitting in a previously heavily classified document.

      Countries don’t generally publicly admit that they are ‘exposed’ or that their own or someone else’s clandestine operations are successful.

      Just sayin’

      • Harry, You got me wondering what you’re hinting at. Were Jane Fonda and the KGB in cahoots? Or are you saying that scaring the people into nuclearizing was justifiable? Or am I missing something?
        Someday, if anyone is interested, I’ll detail my 24 year transition from supporter of nuclear technology to critic of the nuclear industry.

      • Marty,

        The CIA and KGB played lots of games. Most of them of were of the ‘plausible deniability’ variety and even if you had ‘smoking gun proof’ no one would believe you anyway.

        All I can say for certain is that playing with the Wests ‘energy security’ was a favored KGB game,Putin still occasionally shows his ‘old ways’. It was our(especially europes) Achilles heal. That is the major point I was making.

        There would be nothing terribly hard about dropping a script outline for a movie depicting a nuclear meltdown on Hollywood. Disaster movies were quite popular in the 1970’s. Release dates of movies are publicly known months in advance.

        There would also be nothing terribly hard in getting a trained agent onto the premises of a nuclear power plant(with 1970’s security).

        I used to adjust walk thru 1970’s era metal detectors…we would roll dice to determine whether we would focus on ankle,waist or shoulders on a given day. Security was an illusion If you knew how the metal detector was set for the day you could walk anything thru them. All you had to see to know how they were set is whether people are taking off their shoes or belt and being sent back thru.

        There would also be nothing hard about arranging for a crippling coal strike in the UK. The coziness between the KGB and various UK labor unions is well documented.

        Motivation and Opportunity don’t make for a provable case.

        Obviously, sabotage of a US Nuclear Power plant by a foreign entity would pose many political problems.

        A) It would be admitting that we can’t protect our own citizens…we would have to close them all down for ‘security reasons’.
        B) It would almost certainly have to be retaliated against in a very public and deadly fashion.

        I do find plausible the possibility that someone would ‘embellish’ the risks of climate change in order to make a case that the ‘hippies’ would accept for the need for European Energy Security.

        Unfortunately…the 20 year effort has left Europe more exposed to whatever games the KGB/FSB might wish to play. Europe doesn’t need to concern itself with a loss of Middle East natural gas supplies anymore…they have to concern themselves with a loss of Russian natural gas supplies.

  11. Marty,
    I could understand how one might be a supporter of nuclear technology and a critic of the nuclear industry.

  12. Update on your bet with Joe Romm,
    Looks like Giss is 53 for the year(more like 52.5)
    This is lower than 10 years ago, and puts you solidly ahead, by .20C, as temps are lower by .05 while your bet is .15 higher. 2010 and 2011 were .28 and .02 higher than 2000 and 2001.
    Even if you compare to the lowest temps of the previous decade, you are still leading by .06, with remaining temperatures of 50,56,57,57,58,59 and 63. Romm would need an average temp of 73 for the rest of the decade to win.

    • This 73 is compared to an original target of 68 for Romm to win the bet. As a warmist, he should be OK with a warming target of >.2C per decade, and still feel he is going to win. As a lukewarmer, you should be OK with a target of <.2C per decade, and feel you are going to win!

    • Well, if Romm wins, it’ll be with a last-minute burst. So I hope everyone is rooting for me–and the planet ;)

      • There is still the possibility that Giss does an update to their data just to screw you over. The most recent update shows all the numbers have gotten bigger, with 2012 as a 56 rather than 52.5. Doesn’t affect your bet much as 2000-2009 have gotten warmer as well.
        +26, +2 and -4 putting you even further ahead at 24 real vs 45.betline.
        Earlier I said remaining temperatures of 50,56,57,57,58,59 and 63
        these are now 52 59 59 59 60 62 65 and you are up 10. Target temperature is now 75. Baseline appears to be the same, so I’m not sure what changed in this update.

  13. I’m interested to see how this blog plays out. If the discussion stays sensible, it will at least be an interesting read. With luck it will make a contribution to the debate.

  14. A lukewarm welcome ;-)

  15. Glad to see this blog created and hope it live up to its potential!

  16. Just found your new(ish) blog. Congratulations. It fills a much needed vacuum between the two opposing extremist viewpoints.

    I share your centrist-pro viewpoint on Global warming, but I must admit I find the the general run of pro-AGW blogs (SkS et al) less tolerant of discussion and significantly more spitfeful than say Watts.

    I think we all need to be alarmed about the stupidity of the some of the insane (though highly lucrative) “fixes” that ride on the back of the pro-AGW hysteria (mainly wind turbines but others as well). The problem is that these schemes are so outrageously profligate and ineffective they bring into unfair disrepute even the basic science of global warming. The evangelists for these schemes are even more closed than the average pro-AGW blog. They also have a lot of political and financial support.

    Looking forward to reading challenging stuff from a reasoned viewpoint.
    Regards
    Billo

  17. It seems that you are taking an extreme position yourself. Might you be the Intelligent Design advocates of the global warming discussion?

    Do you, for example, use Anthony Watts, Chris Monckton and other such characters as sources?

    • But those who are not as believing as you would regard SS as an ‘extremist’ propaganda site, yet you cite from it. The quality of the articles posted on the Anthony Watts site is mixed. Not all of Monckton’s arguments make sense. On the other hand, advocates you cite quiet frequently don’t make much sense either, or at least, considerably distort or simplify complex issues.

      • Hiya Will, Hmm. First, I don’t consider myself perfect or Mosher the saint of righteous temperature evaluations either. And there are times that blogs can be an obstacle rather than an aid to communication and understanding. I certainly think that SkS is usually unhelpful–but sometimes they get things right. I really don’t like most of what Joe Romm wrote, back when he was writing instead of dictating to interns. But he had the best green tech updates anywhere. Go figure.

        Hope you stick around–I need people to tell me when I screw up.

      • Why would I consider SS an extremist site? It simply shows what the science says. It’s like Talk.Origins, only for climate research rather than the Theory of Evolution.

  18. Mosher has an interesting comment on what is a lukewarmer:

    Mosher on lukewarmers

  19. people at the extremes, those who hold either unwarrantedly skeptical views of what really is basic science

    The ‘basic science’, as I understand it, is to capture a CO2 molecule, hold it against its will in a bell jar and torture it with radiation. I’ve yet to see any ‘basic science’ which shows how CO2 interacts with, and affects, a fully dynamic atmosphere.

    You can label me as being at the extremes if you so choose, but serious questions are now being asked about the recent lack of warming… you know, the warming that the ‘basic science’ says has to happen in a world of rising CO2 levels.

    Being skeptical doesn’t mean we question the ‘basic science’, it means we question the assumptions which have been made based on the basic science. We question the validity of half-baked computer models. We question the recent lack of warming. It gives us reason to question the whole global warming theory.

    I would put it to you that questioning things that don’t seem right is wise, not extreme.

    Do let me know when the world starts warming again!

  20. The “Lukewarmer” position is a bit of a strawman.

    There are few people that think that the main mass of probability denisty of climaet sensitivity is outside the range 2 to 4C. Some may think there is a risk it is greater than 4, but so what?

    So why this distinction between “Lukewarmer” and whatever?

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