Pause… for Reflection on Climate Change

I get caught up in the routine confrontation with ridiculous claims about climate change and with bloggers with whom I disagree. Every now and then I need to stop and think about what I’ve learned and unlearned and to take stock of what I really think.

This seems as good a time as any. In November of 2015, my non-scientific assessment of the science hasn’t changed overmuch. My perceptions as a non-scientist are heavily colored by my assessment of the credibility of those communicating on either side.

This year has seen more in the way of massaging down likely ranges of atmospheric sensitivity, which has led to some trying to downplay its importance. This doesn’t help their credibility. It has also seen the sudden emergence of RCP 8.5 as a shining beacon of Business As Usual Which Will Lead Us To Doom, which is laughable, as it, like the other Representative Concentration Pathways, started with the end figure–those using it as a prediction or projection are displaying abysmal ignorance.

And I still trust what Freeman Dyson says more than James Hansen. I still trust Richard Lindzen more than Andrew Dessler. I still trust Steve Koonin more than Kevin Trenberth. I trust Andrew Revkin more than Dave Roberts, Judith Curry more than And Then There’s Physics, Steve McIntyre more than Gavin Schmidt. And I don’t trust Michael Mann at all.

The only Climate-involved people I have ever met are Steve Mosher, Anthony Watts and Richard Muller. Steve’s a friend, so is Anthony and Richard seems like a nice enough guy. None of them fit the descriptions of the villainous caricatures floating around the Internet. I suspect that is true of most of the people I haven’t met as well.

Since I moved my thinking from skeptic to lukewarmer six or seven years ago, I have seen little that would change my point of view. Certainly this year has been no exception. The profusion of panic stories leading up to COP 21 in Paris should be embarrassing to those on the side of the consensus. On the other side, those cheering Lamar Smith’s chasing emails of scientists should be every bit as embarrassed as those calling for RICO prosecutions of skeptics and Raul Grijalva’s investigations of skeptics as well.

Looking at 2015 from a climate lens, there is little for any of the three sides to be proud of.

Climate change still is very real to me. It is still something we should work to avoid or adapt to. But it also still pales for me in comparison to the problems facing those in the developing world and I still think our efforts should incline more to the second set of problems than the first.


10 responses to “Pause… for Reflection on Climate Change

  1. Among the people you trust, consider trusting Patrick Moore, a Greenpeace co-founder who changed from activist to lukewarmer/sceptic.

  2. “This year has seen more in the way of massaging down likely ranges of atmospheric sensitivity,…”

    Tom, have you seen this from David Evans?
    “There is no strong basis in the data for favoring any scenario in particular, but the A4, A5, A6, and B4 scenarios are the ones that best reflect the input data over longer periods. Hence we conclude that:

    “The ECS might be almost zero, is likely less than 0.25 °C, and most likely less than 0.5 °C.”

  3. “Hence we conclude that:”

    We, David Evans? 🙂

  4. “But it also still pales for me in comparison to the problems facing those in the developing world and I still think our efforts should incline more to the second set of problems than the first.”

    …… throw in the growing chaos of international relations and it becomes a no-brainer.

  5. Tom, we can agree to disagree on the point about Congress performing its Constitutional duty of oversight, but I do agree with your larger point: the hypesters have continued to disrupt and distort the public square. And the science supporting a climate crisis is not actually there, if one looks at data and evidence.

    • Well, I’ll see your Putin and raise you a bin Laden, convinced that climate change caused the Pakistani floods. How many skeptics were on the Zero Dark Thirty team? Hmm?

      • Tom,
        You uncovered the grand conspiracy!
        Bin Laden was taken out by a denialist hit team paid for by the Koch brothers. This was done so as to help insure that the pipeline which was the cause of the Afghan invasion could be built Uzbekistan and the Pakistani coast. The billions of tons of extra CO2 thereby released will target only the Muslim world, preventing the 12th Imam from returning to Earth due to the magic well staying because of climate change. With the Koch brothers leading the denialist KKKristian plot to enrich themselves and drink baby blood, the world will be safe for their profits and realization of the plan to destroy the Earth.

  6. I know you disagree with this, Tom, but Judith Curry backs Lamar Smith

    “Smith’s request has a very different context: concern about the quality of a specific data set of great policy relevance that was touted by NOAA in a big press release; and concern that Karl in particular has been playing politics with NOAA data.

    I’ve heard enough behind the scenes (including discussions with NOAA employees) that I am siding with Rep. Smith on this one.

    The politicization of climate science has gotten extreme. I don’t know where to start in trying to ameliorate this situation, but Congressional oversight and investigation into what is going on in government labs does not seem inappropriate under these circumstances.” – <a href=""Judith Curry

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