Over at the blog Making Science Public, Brigitte Nerlich is trying to figure out who Lukewarmers are, what we actually think and how we’re different from skeptics and warmists. After a lot of discussion it turns out that we agree with the science, that there is an A in AGW, but that we also think sensitivity is lower than warmists. Not much of a revelation there.
One of the commenters on the thread is one of my favorite humans, Lucia Liljegren of The Blackboard. She pursues the topic in greater depth here, referring to Tamsin Edward’s post in The Guardian and is kind enough to mention me.
With all of that as background I would like to offer some thoughts on why there is a sudden flare-up of interest in Lukewarmers.
From the point of view of the consensus, it seems clear that a combination of the pause that may no longer be mentioned and observational studies showing the likelihood of a lower value for atmospheric sensitivity are pushing them to consider that Lukewarmers may well be correct.
As for the parallel universe inhabited by the Konsensus, those who exaggerate what the consensus says for political gain, these efforts by the better-educated and better-mannered consensus holders are galling. They are making a concerted effort to counter the more reasonable explorations of the Lukewarm ideas with their own propaganda.
Dana Nuccitelli at the Guardian is leading the charge to imprint the label of denier on Lukewarmers, making up stuff like “This group believes that the climate is relatively insensitive to the increasing greenhouse effect, and hence that climate change will proceed slowly enough as to not be a serious concern in the near future.” Not that he allows his article to be sullied by any conversation with Lukewarmers–not even a quote from things we’ve written in the past. Nuccitelli ends up calling us Stage 3 Denialists–I don’t know if that’s better than Stage 2 or Stage 4…
When Nuccitelli writes “For the Luckwarmer case to be true, first the climate sensitivity must be close to the lowest end of possible values” he writes something that is untrue. The IPCC provides a range of possible values for sensitivity. Lukewarmers almost by definition believe that sensitivity is within the range provided by the IPCC. We just think it’s at the lower end. My personal SWAG is about 2.1C.
Not to be outdone, Evil Eli Rabett has taken on the responsibility of popularizing the label ‘luckwarmer’ and taping it to our foreheads. He says we’re all from the far right and as delusional as he believe skeptics to be. Does that mean I can get a refund for 30 years of campaign contributions to Democratic candidates?
(Why do I call Eli Evil? Because he’s a trasher. Because Tamsin Edwards did not condemn us in her article, Eli wrote “Tamsin Edwards is Roger Pielke Jr. in training with a couple of good papers to her name. She is a careerist just like Roger, just a bit younger.” Anyone who reads Tamsin’s article will see immediately that this is not true. But Eli does this to everyone who doesn’t fall into lockstep with his rigid worldview.)
We could go case by case refuting the untruths written about Lukewarmers–and it might end up with a pretty good definition. As we don’t have a manifesto or anything like that, the definition of Lukewarmer has been pretty ad hoc.
But the fact that people are starting to write about us means that if we don’t come up with a definition someone else will do it for us. And the odds are pretty good that the someone will be as unprincipled and as careless about the truth as Dana Nuccitelli or Eli Rabett.
So let’s look at what Lucia Liljegren, one of the Lukewarm pioneers, has to say.
Lukewarmers are different from skeptics:
“Lukewarmer disagree with those who:
1) Believe CO2 has no net warming effect.
2) Believe the warming effect is so small that any observed rise in measured global temperature is 100% due to natural causes.
3) Believe the measured global temperature rise purely or mostly a result of “fiddling”.
4) Believe the world is more likely to cool over the next 100 years than warm.”
As for what we actually do believe, Lucia writes
“To expand, the list of things lukewarmers believe include:
* lukewarmers believe ECS is on the lower end of the IPCC AR4 range (note the AR5 range did move down). However, they believe it is inside that range. That is, they don’t think it has the optical properties of something like Nitrogen.
* lukewarmers recognize the magnitude of the temperature change matters as does the rate of change. So the magnitude of ECS matters. (If lower, the consequence of a set emissions level is lower than if it is higher.)
* lukewarmers think it’s important for the estimates of ECS used in economic models that are used to guide policy to not be biased by things like using inapproriate priors in statistical results or models that appear to be over-predicting the level of warming. In contrast, your comment specifically omitted this in your list of what is important.
* lukewarmers disagree with the rhetoric that suggests that we must all focus on the high end of ECS especially when the rhetoric seems to suggest this focus means we are to pay less attention to other features like the central estimates ( mean, median). In other words: they think we should use the full range out comes just as we normally do for things like life insurance car insurance and so on. We don’t base decisions only on the worst possible outcome. (This rhetoric that the high end is central exists exists– as ATTP’s site and in his comments indicate. Some may tap-dance carefully when implying this but its evident in the tone and sometimes directly stated.)”
That’s good enough for a starting point. But I’d appreciate your thoughts on this.