Public criticism of climate science - pros and cons

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Leeuwenhoek
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Public criticism of climate science - pros and cons

Post by Leeuwenhoek » Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:26 pm

Mod note:
This thread is split from page 3 of the Climate science and statistics - omnibus thread, starting with Leeuwenhoek's reply to this post viewtopic.php?f=9&t=104&start=40#p2028 by Pseudobabble.
My own response (third post in this new thread) took the conversation even further from climate science per se, so ...

:namaste:
Kim


Pseudobabble,

You are correct about the argument from authority. On the other hand we all eventually do rely a lot on the work of others at some point. My tap water is too much like the ocean rather than the somewhat acidic pH that my veggies like. Or rather, the pH that authorities say my veggies like. But even when I'm measuring the pH of the water for my veggie garden I wonder about about the accuracy of the electronic meter I use for convenience. So I cross check it against the results from a reagent ... and trust that both tests aren't simultaneously off too much

This sentence taken as written "Because the math is good, the physics is good" suggests an over reliance on the authority of math. The math for my perpetual motion theory is more than good, it's perfect! :toast: Physics seems to disagree.

A further challenge with fields as diverse as weather, climate and human nutrition is that understanding of some basic physics and chemistry only gets you so far. The interactions of different forces -- not all of which are even understood -- can be so complex as to overwhelm our understanding and the available computational power of our super computers.

The moral is don't confuse the map with the terrain, weather forecasts with actual weather, climate models with measured climate, or global averages with the impacts on your region of the world.

Some would unwisely and unskillfully label this kind of realism as denial. I am skeptically concerned so I support a number of policy measures such as a source neutral carbon tax. That seems to me to be the right/appropriate middle path.

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Re: Climate science and statistics - omnibus thread

Post by Pseudobabble » Tue Jul 17, 2018 11:35 am

Leeuwenhoek wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:26 pm

This sentence taken as written "Because the math is good, the physics is good" suggests an over reliance on the authority of math. The math for my perpetual motion theory is more than good, it's perfect! :toast: Physics seems to disagree.

A further challenge with fields as diverse as weather, climate and human nutrition is that understanding of some basic physics and chemistry only gets you so far. The interactions of different forces -- not all of which are even understood -- can be so complex as to overwhelm our understanding and the available computational power of our super computers.

The moral is don't confuse the map with the terrain, weather forecasts with actual weather, climate models with measured climate, or global averages with the impacts on your region of the world.

Some would unwisely and unskillfully label this kind of realism as denial. I am skeptically concerned so I support a number of policy measures such as a source neutral carbon tax. That seems to me to be the right/appropriate middle path.
[My emphasis added]

:goodpost: I most certainly agree.

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Re: Climate science and statistics - omnibus thread

Post by Kim O'Hara » Tue Jul 17, 2018 11:49 am

All I've got time to say right now to the pair of you is that your statements may be logically impeccable but their consequences in the real world are overwhelmingly negative.
Whether you know it or not, whether you want them to or not, statements like this make you Merchants of Doubt.

:reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merchants_of_Doubt
:reading: https://www.resilience.org/stories/2010 ... nts-doubt/

:namaste:
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Re: Climate science and statistics - omnibus thread

Post by Leeuwenhoek » Thu Jul 19, 2018 12:13 am

This post and a couple of previous related posts belong more appropriately belongs in a thread about the sociology, philosophy and politics of climate change.
Kim O'Hara wrote:
Tue Jul 17, 2018 11:49 am
All I've got time to say right now to the pair of you is that your statements may be logically impeccable but their consequences in the real world are overwhelmingly negative.
Whether you know it or not, whether you want them to or not, statements like this make you Merchants of Doubt.
I regard attacking the reasonable statements quoted from Robert Muller with ad hominem attacks and complaints about Muller's personal reactions to the issue to have quite negative consequences in the real world. Especially as Muller was reflecting mainstream science, backed up the IPCC reports and more recent surveys of the objective evidence.

Clinging to, and the promotion of, convenient untruths, has IMO unfortunate consequences on the possibility of constructive response to climate change. Clear thinking advocates take a strong step forward towards progress when they separate themselves from those that push popular, but objectively unfounded, narratives about climate change and extreme weather. The negative impact of so-called engaged Buddhists engaging the the furtherance of illusion should not need to be explained.

To the quote above I say, no. You have got the arrow pointed in the wrong direction.
Second, there are a number of "bad actors" on both 'sides' of the question. What is problematic in this account is a scheme which points to bias but sees it only as a problem for one side of the debate.
Third, we probably hold different assumptions about the consequences of illusion and the value of a honest and clear vision of the issue. For instance, I advocate a climate tax, increased funding for science and for energy R&D. I've written quite a bit about achieving a zero or low carbon electrical system worldwide.

Finally, the judgement above is made on the vaguest, unspoken grounds. What statements and what it is about those statements are "overwhelmingly negative"?

In my mind to deny realistic uncertainty is harmful to society and engaged Buddhism and to obstruct constructive collective progress towards a goal. The Buddha dharma as I practice it is an embrace of inconvenient truths and uncertainty. Lying or misleading in support of a "good cause" won't work because the untruth is quickly and easily uncovered and refuted. Playing the role of the "boy who cried wolf too often" is not an act of compassion.

It makes sense to me to advocate, for instance, for a simple as possible, source neutral carbon tax on the one hand and to call out common illusions about climate science on the other. That is a practice of metta regarding climate change IMO.

Climate advocates point quickly to "denial" by others but are often systemically blind to their own acts of denial and distortion. This begins with the "denial" (to call it that) of what the IPCC AR5, The Royal Society update, as well as Richard Muller and others have summarized for us about extreme weather. To give a balanced, middle way account of extreme weather would be a positive step towards less suffering.

https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/ ... e-updates/

--------------------------------------
I may respond more to the polemical, black-hat/white-hat story telling of the book Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming at another time.

But as an example of the first author's polemical leanings, Oreskes charged that:
James Hansen, the former NASA chief scientist; Kerry Emanuel, a professor of meteorology at M.I.T.; Tom Wigley, perhaps the most distinguished climate scientist in Australia; and Ken Caldeira, of the Carnegie Institution ... had adopted a new form of “denialism.”
-- https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-co ... ate-change

A well informed review of the book.
-- https://www.academia.edu/4754580/Debunk ... s_of_Doubt

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Re: Public criticism of climate science - pros and cons

Post by Kim O'Hara » Fri Jul 20, 2018 12:24 am

Leeuwenhoek wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 12:13 am
This post and a couple of previous related posts belong more appropriately belongs in a thread about the sociology, philosophy and politics of climate change.
Kim O'Hara wrote:
Tue Jul 17, 2018 11:49 am
All I've got time to say right now to the pair of you is that your statements may be logically impeccable but their consequences in the real world are overwhelmingly negative.
Whether you know it or not, whether you want them to or not, statements like this make you Merchants of Doubt.
I regard attacking the reasonable statements quoted from Robert Muller with ad hominem attacks and complaints about Muller's personal reactions to the issue to have quite negative consequences in the real world. Especially as Muller was reflecting mainstream science, backed up the IPCC reports and more recent surveys of the objective evidence. ...
Setting aside Muller and Oreskes for a moment (or longer), the point I wanted to raise a few days ago is that there is a legitimate moral/ethical argument for holding back from public criticism of details of climate science.
It goes like this:
Mainstream climate science, like mainstream medical science, astronomy and every other science, has a large body of knowledge which is very well established and a large body of "known unknowns" which it is investigating; occasionally that investigation throws up "unknown unknowns", which are then investigated too. That's how science works.
The politics of climate science has been polarised, largely because of its large financial implications, and corrupted (as shown by Oreskes and others) by deliberate misinformation campaigns.
These campaigns often involve the unreasonable amplification of doubt about the skill or integrity of the whole of climate science. They often take a small finding of new research and blow it up to attack the whole field.
That has, as they planned, undermined public faith in the science and, consequently, political will to address the very real problems arising from AGW.
(So far, so uncontroversial here, I imagine.)

What happens when people like us, non-scientists talking to non-scientific audiences in forums like this or in our local pub, say "scientist X got it wrong"? It feeds straight into that manufactured doubt. That's why I said, "statements like this make you Merchants of Doubt." It would have been fairer to say "statements like this align you with the Merchants of Doubt," but ... it was late. (sorry)
And can we really contribute to the (legitimate, necessary) debate within the scientific community by talking here or in the pub? Of course not.
So it's better for the world if we keep to the larger picture of the science. It's all we really need, anyway.
"We're cooking the planet and we need to stop" is all we really need.

:namaste:
Kim

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Re: Public criticism of climate science - pros and cons

Post by Kim O'Hara » Fri Jul 20, 2018 6:16 am

Here's a cautionary tale from climate scientists showing just how hard it is to avoid being misrepresented for contrarian purposes:
Science is slow. It rests on painstaking research with accumulating evidence. This makes for an inherently uneasy relationship with the modern media age, especially once issues are politicised. The interaction between politics and media can be toxic for science, and climate change is a prominent example.

Take the recent “deep freeze” along the US east coast. To scientists, it was one more piece of a larger jigsaw of climate change disrupting weather systems and circulation patterns. This includes dramatic changes seen in Arctic sea ice and the knock-on effect on temperatures elsewhere in northern latitudes – both warming and relative cooling. To President Donald Trump the cold snap was a chance to mock climate change, and some sceptics suddenly talked about an impending ice age.

Colleagues and I experienced similar frustrations in late 2017, after we published a paper in the scientific journal Nature Geoscience, in which we concluded that there was more headroom than many had assumed before we breach the goals of the Paris Agreement. We found ourselves not only on the front page of the main British newspapers, but globally, as far-right website Breitbart ran with a story that a small band of buccaneering scientists had finally admitted that the models were all wrong – a fiction rapidly picked up by the more rabid elements in the media. ...

We emphatically did not show that climate change was “less bad” or “happening slower” than previously thought. Our work built on the many previous scientific studies that had looked at the risks of unchecked emissions and the prospects for limiting warming to 2℃ above pre-industrial levels. ...

Some of the earlier estimates seemed to imply a “headroom to 1.5℃” of less than a decade of current emissions – clearly unachievable given the long timespans and huge inertia. We estimated about 20 years – equivalent to global CO₂ emissions falling steadily from now until hitting zero in around 40 years – and made it plain that it still looks, to put it mildly, a formidable ambition. Other studies have since come to similar conclusions.

A (non-)story of revolution

The more detailed reporting by those correspondents who attended the scientific briefing was accurate enough (even if some of their headlines and lead-ins weren’t), but that was soon lost in the misrepresentations that followed. ...
:reading: https://theconversation.com/were-climat ... news-89999

This is only one, recent, account of what has happened time after time. :thinking:

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Re: Public criticism of climate science - pros and cons

Post by Kim O'Hara » Fri Jul 20, 2018 6:23 am

Early last year, RealClimate published a whole collection of stories similar to the one in my previous post, at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/ar ... cientists/, and followed it with two key questions (for us as well as their primary readership, other scientists) and their advice:
What is not helpful

Ignoring the danger. The problem won’t go away by ignoring it. Propaganda and conspiracy theories are increasing dramatically, as the Guardian shows with a number of examples and statistics. In the social networks, the most popular climate change item of the past six months was not a carefully researched article by a science journalist but the #fakenews “Tens of Thousands of Scientists Declare Climate Change a Hoax”.

Normalizing nonsense. It is not helpful when some media keep citing nonsense spread by dubious anti-climate-science lobby groups as if this were a part of a normal “scientific debate”. Lobby groups that systematically spread disinformation, defamation, or hatred should be named as such and not be cited as if they were just normal discussion contributors.

Going into hiding. One should not duck away out of fear or opportunism, when the open society (and that includes science) is being attacked.

False balance. When the propaganda film “The Great Global Warming Swindle” was broadcast in the UK Channel 4 with its misleading graphics, false statements, fabricated data , etc., the station justified this thus: “This is a controversial film but we feel that it is important that all sides of the debate are aired.” This is only true if there is actually a serious “other side of the debate” that puts forth honest arguments. Or is there in reporting about AIDS always someone for the sake of balance, who claims AIDS is not caused by the HIV virus? The well-known problem of “false balance” in the media has resulted in only a small minority of the public understanding that there is an overwhelming consensus in the scientific community. A majority of people falsely believes that climate researchers are split into two roughly equal camps about the causes of global warming.

What we should do

Check sources! To avoid becoming a gullible victim of fake news, one needs to critically check the sources of news. Is a piece of news originating from the Washington Post, or from some fringe website? A serious newspaper with professional journalistic standards and a reputation to defend is a priori much more credible – but not a guarantee either. Even some mainstream media repeat falsehoods from climate deniers and (probably) consider this critical science journalism. I don’t need to mention specific examples here; our readers know plenty anyway. Checking sources also means: are cited experts really as prestigious as claimed? Today, thanks to scientific publication databases, you can easily verify that. Is a media report about some scientific finding based on a study in a peer reviewed journal? What do those media say whose core competence is science (e.g. Scientific American)?

Gather the views of independent experts. A very useful initiative in this regard is Climate Feedback, which solicits and publishes comments from a whole range of scientists about media articles on climate.

Enlighten. The best antidote against false news is true information with well-documented facts. One advantage of the Internet: everything I write in an article I can support with links, so everyone can verify the evidence. In case of statements on science, the ultimate evidence is usually studies in the peer-reviewed literature. Anyone who makes strong claims to laypeople, but does not publish them for discussion by professionals in relevant specialist journals, may well be more interested in propaganda than in science. False claims should be rebutted by those who understand the subject (but without giving the false claims more prominence).

Illuminate the background. Instead of citing lobby groups like a normal voice in a scientific discussion, one should illuminate their background and funding sources. Useful resources for checking the background of climate skeptics are e.g. the Realclimate Wiki and DeSmogBlog (here their background on David Rose).

Unfortunately there is no magic formula or panacea against the lobby activities of powerful interest groups who are deceiving the public by means of propaganda. Ultimately, only the citizens of the open society can defend themselves by making the effort to think and check rather than just being gullible. And by being willing to pay for quality journalism. If you’re not paying for the news you are reading, someone else is. And they might not have your best interest in mind.

As Immanuel Kant said:

Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity.

Self-imposed.
:namaste:
Kim

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Re: Public criticism of climate science - pros and cons

Post by Leeuwenhoek » Fri Jul 20, 2018 4:35 pm

FYI: Good call to split this topic off into it's own thread. It's a huge difference of perspectives that colors everything else but is rarely faced head on.
Kim O'Hara wrote:
Fri Jul 20, 2018 12:24 am
So it's better for the world if we keep to the larger picture of the science. It's all we really need, anyway.
"We're cooking the planet and we need to stop" is all we really need.
Assuming that all your premises were correct and complete (they are not) and if you held a decent working understanding of "the science" ( you haven't shown that you do in some areas) your conclusion might be one that wise and informed persons would agree with.

But I don't. And at the same time I am concerned about climate change, support a carbon tax and a number of other climate mitigation and adaption strategies.
I'm not all that usual in that middle way view. So explain that.
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I think the most salient question is not how much others distort, mislead or whatever but what we are going to do.

My recommended treatment, consistent as I see it with dharma and western science and culture, is high quality science advice which comes from honest brokering of science, information and policy options.

Believers in action on climate change pay too much attention to the specks in the opposition's eyes and to little about the logs in their own eyes. The stories about the struggles of virtuous climate scientists wearing absolutely clean "white hats" IMO are partly exercises in self-serving, one-sided cherry picking. Grounded more in ego inflation than on the actual dynamics of science. It's not that scientists work doesn't get distorted, it does, but it happens to all fields and to both sides. Further the charges of distortion etc often depend on a large element of judgement and/or is subject to the bias of one-sided perspectives.

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Calling it "cooking the planet" is a nice example of rhetoric and spin. But it's tremendously broad and potentially misleading and encourages a false sense of certainty. For many readings of what "cooking the planet" means climate science tells us that we may be cooking the planet. The fear of "Merchants of Doubt" shouldn't drive us to be manufacturers of false certainty, illusion or lies. Avoid it if only because the opposition will call you on it ... and they will be correct.

A good descriptive term for rhetoric such as "cooking the planet" is "climate porn". The kind of rhetoric designed to excite and stimulate that IMO the dharma warns us to avoid. In my reading the dharma, science and sound policy analysis discourages a false and inflated sense of certainty. (Historically the greater concern has been over too much certainty rather than too much uncertainty.)

Your 'larger picture" also ignores the possibility of climate adaption which, in so doing does a major disservice, to society. To speak to what "we really need" -- we need mitigation and adaption and a clear-eyed view.

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https://bigthink.com/age-of-engagement/ ... cy-options
A study released this week by the Institute for Public Policy Research, a left-leaning British think tank, criticizes the UK media for engaging in a dominant "alarmist" interpretation of global warming. This alarmist interpretation is characterized by an inflated sense of urgency and "cinematic tones" according to the study, which used discourse analysis of a sample of 600 news articles to reach its conclusions.

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Re: Public criticism of climate science - pros and cons

Post by Leeuwenhoek » Fri Jul 20, 2018 11:52 pm

Kim,
"There is a legitimate moral/ethical argument for holding back from public criticism of details of climate science."
You make that argument about as well as I can be made I think. But the argument depends on premises that in my judgement are problematical, weak, partial and/or rely on person judgement (read: open to personal interpretation/bias). Let me address some of them in this post.
Kim O'Hara wrote:
Fri Jul 20, 2018 12:24 am
there is a legitimate moral/ethical argument for holding back from public criticism of details of climate science.
It goes like this:
...
The politics of climate science has been polarised ... and corrupted ... by deliberate misinformation campaigns.
These campaigns often involve the unreasonable amplification of doubt about the skill or integrity of the whole of climate science. They often take a small finding of new research and blow it up to attack the whole field.
That has, as they planned, undermined public faith in the science and, consequently, political will to address the very real problems arising from AGW.
(So far, so uncontroversial here, I imagine.)
We face a similar challenge within Buddhism. If a beloved scholar and dharma teacher repeatedly makes strong but unskillful and controversial claims about the meaning of a sutta how may the rest of us respond? Or continues to make inappropriate sexual advances to students. It is possible to respond without threatening the skill or integrity of the whole of Buddhism?

The politics of climate science has been polarized. Yes, lots of interesting social science has been written on that. But in my judgement the climate science that you probably believe has also been polarized and corrupted. I emphasize "in my judgement" because validation of such statements depend on a degree of judgement. Thus the question on how and in what way climate science has been polarized is in itself, somewhat polarized. As this exchange illustrates.

But let me pose some rhetorical questions:
  • Who gets to decide on behalf of the public whether or not a expression of doubt is reasonable or unreasonable?
  • When is it acceptable in your ethical calculus to question another person's judgement on whether a critique is reasonable or unreasonable.
  • When is it acceptable in your ethical calculus to question the integrity of some part of science?
  • When is it acceptable to question the skill (a technical term in modeling) of a climate model?
  • What is the right amount of faith in climate science?
"These campaigns often involve the unreasonable amplification of doubt about the skill or integrity of the whole of climate science."
In my judgement that happens. At the same time other campaigns often involve the unreasonable amplification of certainty and/or distort or making misleading statements on the same topics.
More fundamentally the idea that a particular presentation is "unreasonable" deserves serious questioning. The very charge may exist more in the self-interested perceptions of the persons complaining.

(Example: The uptick at the end of the famous "Hockey Stick" was criticized by several investigation panels as misleading and poor practice. Richard Muller thought so and so he did his own re-analysis of climate data. For his pains the scientists whose work Muller re-evaluated carped and questioned Muller integrity -- and Kim O'Hara amplified those claims with, I'm guessing, the purpose of undermining public faith in Muller and his science. )

"They often take a small finding of new research and blow it up to attack the whole field."
That works both ways as well.

More fundamentally, the charge that someone is "attacking the whole field" is surely sometimes a matter about reasonable people can disagree.
In my judgement it's a cheap and too easy charge to make. The notion that something "attacks the whole field" rather than some aspect of it in my judgement often exists mostly in the perceptions of those who make such complaints.

A number of climate scientists have complained bitterly when asked to disclose their data or the computer code used to analyze the data. Such complaints have been put forth as an example of an "attack on science" or the scientists. This despite the fact that many journals and grants require or strongly encourage such disclosures. The notion of such transparency is widely considered to be norm of science.

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Re: Public criticism of climate science - pros and cons

Post by Leeuwenhoek » Sat Jul 21, 2018 12:27 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Fri Jul 20, 2018 12:24 am
Setting aside Muller and Oreskes for a moment (or longer), the point I wanted to raise a few days ago is that there is a legitimate moral/ethical argument for holding back from public criticism of details of climate science.
The situation described below, which is hardly uncommon, seems to be based on a disturbing variation of your moral/ethical argument.
The Science Police
On highly charged issues, such as climate change and endangered species, peer review literature and public discourse are aggressively patrolled by self-appointed sheriffs in the scientific community.

In 2013, Canadian ecologist Mark Vellend submitted a paper to the journal Nature that made the first peer reviewer uneasy. “I can appreciate counter-intuitive findings that are contrary to common assumption,” the comment began. But the “large policy implications” of the paper and how it might be interpreted in the media raised the bar for acceptance, the reviewer argued.

Vellend’s finding, drawn from a large meta-analysis, challenged a core tenet of conservation biology. ...
The peer reviewer did not hide his dismay:
Unfortunately, while the authors are careful to state that they are discussing biodiversity changes at local scales, and to explain why this is relevant to the scientific community, clearly media reporting on these results are going to skim right over that and report that biological diversity is not declining if this paper were to be published in Nature. I do not think this conclusion would be justified, and I think it is important not to pave the way for that conclusion to be reached by the public.
Nature rejected the paper.

Although it was published soon after by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences—without triggering media fanfare, much less public confusion—the episode unsettled Vellend, who is an ecology professor at the University of Sherbrooke, in Quebec. His uneasiness was reinforced when he presented the paper at an ecology conference and several colleagues voiced the same objections as the Nature reviewer.

Vellend discusses all this in an essay that is part of a collection titled Effective Conservation Science: Data Not Dogma, to be published by Oxford University Press in late 2017. His experiences have left him wondering if other ecology studies are being similarly judged on “how the results align with conventional wisdom or political priorities.”
The short answer appears to be yes.

... To a certain degree, the rift is also a power struggle ...

If conservation science is in service to an agenda, which it is regardless of the approach, then it seems inevitable that research would at times be viewed through a political or ideological prism. The Nature reviewer’s politically minded comments provide a case in point. When I talked to Vellend about this, he shared a haunting concern. “The thing that’s worrisome to me, as a scientist, is that here’s one person [the reviewer] who actually, to their credit, wrote down exactly what they were thinking,” he said. “So how many times has someone spun their reviews a little to the negative, with those sentiments exactly in mind, without actually stating it?”

To what extent unconscious or veiled bias influences scientific peer review is impossible to know, of course. But Vellend has reason to worry about his discipline. In 2012, the editor of the field’s flagship journal, Conservation Biology, was fired after she asked some authors to remove advocacy statements they had inserted into their papers. As Vellend reminded me: “People get into our field, in part, with a politically motivated goal in mind—to protect nature and a greater number of species.” That’s totally fine, even admirable, but it also goes to the heart of the conflict roiling conservation biology: how to reconcile its purpose-driven science with its values-driven mission.
-- http://issues.org/33-4/the-science-police/ [some emphasis mine]
People get into the field, in part, with a politically motivated goal in mind—to protect nature. That’s totally fine, even admirable, but it also goes to the heart of the conflict: how to reconcile its purpose-driven science with its values-driven mission.

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Re: Public criticism of climate science - pros and cons

Post by Pseudobabble » Sat Jul 21, 2018 10:20 am

The Science Police
On highly charged issues, such as climate change and endangered species, peer review literature and public discourse are aggressively patrolled by self-appointed sheriffs in the scientific community.

In 2013, Canadian ecologist Mark Vellend submitted a paper to the journal Nature that made the first peer reviewer uneasy. “I can appreciate counter-intuitive findings that are contrary to common assumption,” the comment began. But the “large policy implications” of the paper and how it might be interpreted in the media raised the bar for acceptance, the reviewer argued.

Vellend’s finding, drawn from a large meta-analysis, challenged a core tenet of conservation biology. ...
The peer reviewer did not hide his dismay:
Unfortunately, while the authors are careful to state that they are discussing biodiversity changes at local scales, and to explain why this is relevant to the scientific community, clearly media reporting on these results are going to skim right over that and report that biological diversity is not declining if this paper were to be published in Nature. I do not think this conclusion would be justified, and I think it is important not to pave the way for that conclusion to be reached by the public.
Nature rejected the paper.
This is a perfect example: the reviewer thinks that his personal assessment of the risks trumps his commitment to the integrity of the enterprise of knowledge discovery and dissemination (science).

The problem is that we know people are limited and biased creatures, and attempting to build virtuous behaviour on a personal, contingent, ideologically motivated outlook is guaranteed to fail.

Kim, I understand your worry, and I do think it is legitimate: nuanced truths are invariably simplified and distorted by the act of reporting them in the media, often for the worse. But I don't think the solution is for people to erode the integrity of our institutions.

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Re: Public criticism of climate science - pros and cons

Post by Leeuwenhoek » Sat Jul 21, 2018 1:08 pm

When social scientists and reporters talk to "deniers" and skeptics a pattern frequently emerges of an interest in the climate and the environment but a rejection of certain popular social agenda's that are put forth as "the answer" to climate change.
Kim O'Hara wrote:
Fri Jul 20, 2018 12:24 am
So it's better for the world if we keep to the larger picture of the science. It's all we really need, anyway.
"We're cooking the planet and we need to stop" is all we really need.
Kim, when I look at your resistance to acknowledging 'mainstream science' on observed extreme weather trends and your seeming active opposition to proven sources of zero-carbon electricity I begin to think that a bigger picture of what you believe might be more along the lines of:

"We're cooking the planet and we need to stop ... but we have to do it my way".

I accept that everyone has their limits as to what solutions we can accept. But we should consider what we accept vs what we prefer; what we can compromise on and what we can't. Those limits will have a impact on other people's ability to cooperate with us.

Now speaking of the impact of things said on society the "we have do it my way" part is an example of a major source of resistance to global warming action. You are not just asking people to cooperate on a climate policy ... you are asking them to go along with your favored policy including your ethics, your understanding of the issue and other agenda's which are not clearly climate related. To put it another way, it's an appropriation of climate change for ideological and/or personal purposes. Most people come equipped with an ability to smell out that rat with a fair degree of accuracy. Not much climate science literacy required for that.

Again my reading of some surveys, comments from other social scientists and what emerges from personal interviews is that many tend to conflate the idea of "climate change" with particular agenda's, approaches, ideologies and plans. That's a type of category error but it's an easy class of error to make. It's not so much a disagreement about the problem, it's a disagreement about viable and sustainable solutions.

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In addition, it doesn't take much time to read the IPCC's summary or The Royal Societies Recent summary on extreme weather to question whether they were being lied to or intentionally mislead by the things said by politicians and activists about extreme weather. This questionable narrative about measured extreme weather trends already occurring is a huge gift to those who oppose climate policy. In my opinion you Kim are standing at a counter handing out free "ammunition for the opposition" by the case. To worry about other people potentially being on the side of "manufacturers of doubt" seems like a misplaced priority when you are an eager volunteer worker for one of the major factories!

There is an ad campaign that uses the line: "friends don't let friends drive drunk". It's my judgement that responsible and informed Buddhists should speak up about these issues. I focus on the question of extreme weather because it's relatively easy to talk about and to point people to the scientific surveys/summarizes of the field. I believe that continuing support for a dubious, arguably false narrative will not end well for society, for engaged Buddhism and to a lesser degree to western Buddhism in general.

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Climate change mitigation and adaptation - omnibus thread

Post by Kim O'Hara » Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:09 am

Another step in the right direction -
... The green driver’s dream of a solar self-charging EV are set to be realised in Germany, with Munich-based start-up Sono Motors reaching the final stages of trialing a fully electric car with integrated PV panels.

Reuters reports the start-up company, founded in 2016, is using the northern summer to test the final development of the charging system of its Sion car, which can be charged via solar or from conventional charging points.

The solar component of the car is made up of 330 integrated PV cells covering the roof, both sides, the hood and the rear, which are in turn coated with “shatterproof” and weather resistant polycarbonate.

Sono says that with the right conditions, the solar cells can generate enough energy to cover 30km per day. The car has an overall range of 250km. ...
:reading: https://reneweconomy.com.au/solar-integ ... ide-95746/

:namaste:
Kim

Leeuwenhoek
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Re: Climate change mitigation and adaptation - omnibus thread

Post by Leeuwenhoek » Thu Aug 16, 2018 7:19 pm

fwiw wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 11:37 pm
If you live in California, the effects of climate change loom large this summer. In Southern California, where I live, back-to-back heat waves have enveloped suburbs in triple-digit temperatures for weeks now. In Northern California, a fire that has burned more than 100,000 acres and claimed the lives of several people in Shasta County has been declared the seventh worst in the state’s history.

If it was only the Golden State experiencing such extreme events, we might consider the deadly heat an anomaly. But across the world, thermometers are bursting in a global heat wave spanning from Japan to Algeria, to Greece, the U.K. and everywhere in between. This year is on pace to be among the four hottest years on record... etc.

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/our-c ... in-denial/
So climate change leads to higher temperatures and more drought - what is often called heatwaves - which makes it easier for wildfires to spread. I dont see how this might be unclear or be an instance of denial.
How is that unclear or an instance of what might be called 'denial'? Part of the answer is suggested by this tweet from a climate scientist:
Complex events in Earth system are almost always caused by confluence of multiple factors. In conversations regarding recent #heatwaves, #floods, & #wildfires, nuance is key: #ClimateChange unlikely to be singular "cause ...
See viewtopic.php?f=9&t=104&start=60#p2493
or by this one:
https://dharmawheel.org/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=104&start=60#p2439 wrote:In a steadily warming climate much of the destruction that we are currently seeing could actually have been avoided .
I've spent my entire career studying these Western landscapes and the science is pretty clear. If we don't change a few of our fire management habits we're gonna lose many more of our beloved forests some won't recover in our lifetime or my kids lifetime. It's time we confront some tough truths about wildfires and come to understand that we need to learn to better live with them ...
The complex interactions among climate change, land development, fire management practices, natural weather variabilities and changes in vegetation patterns, make it notoriously difficult to estimate their relative contributions.

See: It seems to me that the authors of the truthdig piece cited committed a variation of the "denial" that they complained about.

---------------
Other reports found since making the posts above:
http://www.lhc.ca.gov/report/fire-mount ... rra-nevada
Fire on the Mountain: Rethinking Forest Management in the Sierra Nevada Feb 2018
During its review, the Commission found that California’s forests suffer from neglect and mismanagement, resulting in overcrowding that leaves them susceptible to disease, insects and wildfire.

... [One of} the Commission’s nine recommendations ... calls upon the state to use more prescribed fire to reinvigorate forests, inhibit firestorms and help protect air and water quality. Central to these efforts must be a statewide public education campaign to help Californians understand why healthy forests matter to them, and elicit buy-in for the much-needed forest treatments.
https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060094015 Warming affects blazes, but not everywhere or every time
https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060094015 wrote:Although experts are confident climate change is a major influence, they also point out that wildfires are among the most complex natural disasters on the planet. That's because there are so many factors that affect them, from the type of vegetation on a landscape to the way humans have developed the land.

As a result, making accurate predictions about future fire seasons is a big challenge. And narrowing down the way that fires are influenced by climate change is, too.
... A 2016 paper in PLOS ONE found that models of fire activity in California were more accurate when they accounted not only for climate and vegetation factors, but also for other human variables like nearby housing and population density.
"It was a pretty important study, because we've all been worried about climate change and trying to figure out how to do projections," said Max Moritz, a wildfire expert at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and one of the study's co-authors. "And we finally realized, 'Wait a second, wow, a huge part of this signal is actually human development.' And that means to do it right in the future, we've got to get human development patterns right in the future, too."
... A paper published last year in Science found that burned area globally has actually declined by about a quarter over the past 18 years, despite the influence of climate change. ... The study suggests that, worldwide, the amount of land being burned by wildfires is affected more strongly by human land practices than by the climate. That doesn't mean wildfires in individual regions aren't increasing in response to climate change. It just depends on the region.

... The complex interactions among climate change, land development and other influences, like fire management practices, natural weather variabilities and changes in vegetation patterns, make it notoriously complicated to project future fires.
Note: Human land practices, also called land use change is also a contributor to climate change and not just because of influences on CO2 or other greenhouse gases.
Last edited by Leeuwenhoek on Thu Aug 16, 2018 7:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Leeuwenhoek
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Re: Climate change mitigation and adaptation - omnibus thread

Post by Leeuwenhoek » Thu Aug 16, 2018 7:33 pm

Beyond Technology Tribalism: A Call for Humility and Comity in the Clean Tech Debates
A couple of excerpts:
https://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/voices/energetics/on-clean-energy-tribalism-and-tropes wrote:[There is] an argument that has raged between solar and nuclear advocates for years (if not decades), and I’d like to suggest that maybe it’s time for all of us to step away from the keyboard for a few moments and take a deep breath. Because the truth is, IEA, EIA, IPCC, DDPP, and Brookings actually have no idea what the transition to zero-carbon energy will cost. Noah Smith certainly doesn’t and neither do I.

Cost projections like the ones I quoted above get traded around all the time in arguments about energy and climate. There’s value to them. But they’re fundamentally a product of assumptions about rates of technological change, economic growth, costs of unknowable climate impacts, and other factors.

The upshot is that no one knows what low-carbon energy technologies will cost in the future. So it would be foolish to foreclose any zero-carbon energy technologies or decarbonization pathway. And it is essential to honestly confront the challenges faced by all low-carbon technologies without descending into tribalism and stereotyping.

This is the biggest problem with energy debates today. Efforts to promote one technology are automatically interpreted as opposition to another. Noting the limitations and challenges faced by anyone’s favored technology is considered an attack. Smith, ironically, complains about Breakthrough trolling solar while simultaneously trolling nuclear.
So how are we to differentiate good faith analysis from “trolling?” Here are two useful rules of thumb: First, are you willing to acknowledge the challenges associated with the technologies you advocate? The world’s heavy dependence upon fossil energy has not been a gigantic conspiracy against humanity. Fossil fuels dominate because they are cheaper and more reliable than low carbon alternatives. Were that not the case, solar, wind, and nuclear would not require sustained and continuing subsidies, deployment mandates, loan guarantees, and research support. For the record, Breakthrough has long recognized that scaling nuclear to levels necessary to mitigate climate change will require significant, sustained improvements to nuclear reactor technologies.

Second, do you advocate public support for other key low-carbon technologies? To be clear, that needs to extend beyond vague support for “research.” Supporting further research for technologies one does not support (as Smith does when he calls for more research into thorium reactors) while advocating deployment subsidies for those one does is really just stealth tribalism.

... we at Breakthrough have continued to support renewables deployment policies, and indeed have long advocated deployment policies that would more rapidly drive renewables innovation, even as we have gotten clearer about the limitations and challenges associated with significantly scaling solar and wind energy.

... it’s difficult not to descend into tribal politics and draw sharp lines between our favored technologies. I’ll admit to being guilty of it myself sometimes. I’m trying to do less of it. It’s also hard to be a generalist, because you have to depend on experts and given the wicked and polarized nature of present-day energy debates, that often ends up meaning depending upon experts who are intensely partisan themselves.
[emphasis mine]
That's a good reminder to me to stay on the path.

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fwiw
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Re: Climate change mitigation and adaptation - omnibus thread

Post by fwiw » Fri Aug 17, 2018 5:52 am

In much the same way scientific data shows it is not so clear that smoking leads to lung cancer. Just a media induced hype I guess.
... in my opinion

Pseudobabble
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Re: Climate change mitigation and adaptation - omnibus thread

Post by Pseudobabble » Fri Aug 17, 2018 7:04 am

fwiw wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 5:52 am
In much the same way scientific data shows it is not so clear that smoking leads to lung cancer. Just a media induced hype I guess.
There are good reasons to take action, even if the science is not conclusive, in both cases, smoking and climate change. Being motivated to mitigate risk does not require certainty, mere a certain degree of probability.

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