Climate Debate Reboot!

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Hurricane / Climate Scientist Judith Curry wonders what it would be like if the two camps in the climate science debate, the skeptics and the warmists, would stop yelling at each other and find some common ground. Note that her post does not cover those who simply do not believe that either there is any warming at all, or that the science is a fraud. This distinction is important because many scientists and layman who agree with some (most) of the principle conclusions of greenhouse gas theory but don’t have confidence in some of the certainty – what is often labeled as the “consensus” – are often labeled as deniers.

Here is Judy Curry’s post in its entirety:

On Lucia Liljegren’s Blackboard (commonly categorized as a “lukewarmer” site), Zeke has a post titled “Agreeing.” Zeke’s motivation for this is:

My personal pet peeve in the climate debate is how much time is wasted on arguments that are largely spurious, while more substantive and interesting subjects receive short shrift. While I’m sure a number of folks will disagree with me on what is spurious vs. substantive, I think it would be useful to outline which parts of the debate I feel are relatively certain, are somewhat uncertain, and quite uncertain.

I attempted something similar on an earlier thread “What we know with confidence,” which was based on the conclusions of the IPCC FAR, which have been out there long enough to have stood the test of time (or not). I also attempted to put to rest debate about whether or not the greenhouse effect exists, on the Slaying the Sky Dragon threads.

Zeke puts forth a list that is pretty consistent with the IPCC AR4, and he doesn’t get much push back from the comments (which are well worth reading). A very different response from the earlier confidence thread here.

So lets try this again, with Zeke’s statements, and i will append my own comments, as a spring board for discussion.

Zeke’s assessment

What is extremely likely [>95% probability]

  1. The greenhouse effect is real, albeit poorly named. While reams of comments have been written on this subject (witness the whole Sky Dragon debacle over at Judy’s blog, or Science of Doom’s heroic efforts to explain every facet of the issue), I’d hope that readers here won’t argue with this one. JC: OK
  2. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. JC: OK
  3. Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are increasing. Folks like Beck notwithstanding, there is no serious challenge to Keeling’s measurements, especially as they have been verified by hundreds of additional methods in the subsequent decades. JC: OK
  4. Anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide are increasing. We have reasonably good data on the consumption of carbon-heavy fossil fuels over the past few centuries. JC: OK
  5. The majority of the increase in carbon dioxide concentrations since pre-industrial times is due to anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide. This is confirmed both by the isotopic signature of the carbon and the fact that concentrations rise proportionate to emissions. JC: OK

What I think is very likely [>90% probability]

  1. A doubling of carbon dioxide, holding everything else equal, would lead to a global average surface temperature increase of about 1 C. This follows from a basic derivation of forcing from changes to absorption bands, though it is complicated by the inherent difficulty of defining what exactly a no-feedback system is. JC: I have a problem with the way this is formulated, but agree that more CO2 will warm the surface.
  2. Stocks of atmospheric carbon have a relatively long lifetime. While any individual molecule of atmospheric carbon remains in the atmosphere for only a few years on average, the growth limitations of sinks means that the stock will not decline quickly should emissions stop increasing. As a corollary, arguments that 95 percent of annual CO2 emissions are natural rather miss the point. JC comment: the lifetime of CO2 in the atmosphere is debated, so as a qualitative statement this is ok.
  3. Water vapor primarily acts as a feedback rather than a forcing in the climate system due to its short atmospheric residence time and the limitation to absolute humidity at a given temperature for saturated air. Science of Doomcovers this rather well. Pointing out that water vapor is Earth’s dominant greenhouse gas does not minimize the climate’s sensitivity to carbon dioxide. JC: OK
  4. As a corollary to 3., a warmer world will have an atmosphere with more water vapor. This will tend to enhance the greenhouse effect, though the situation is complicated by the difficulty in both projecting changes in cloud formation and determining the radiative forcing effect of clouds. JC: the coupled water vapor and cloud feedbacks are uncertain, doesnt belong in very likely IMO.
  5. Direct solar forcing has played a relatively minor role in the last four decades, as TSI has been flat-to-modestly-decreasing during that period. JC: this is still being debated, in terms of calibrations of the satellites, etc. I would bump this down to likely.

What I think is likely [>66% probability]

  1. Climate sensitivity is somewhere between 1.5 C and 4.5 C for a doubling of carbon dioxide, due to feedbacks (primarily water vapor) in the climate system. This is supported by multiple lines of evidence, including GCMs, paleoclimate evidence (including climate response to forcing during glacial periods as well as millennial proxies), the instrumental record, and the climate response to volcanic forcings among others. That said, this range is large enough that it could mean that climate change will be a moderate issue (1.5 C) or potentially quite dangerous (4.5 C). JC comment: I think we can bound this between 1 and 6C at a likely level, I don’t think we can justify narrowing this further.
  2. Land and ocean temperature measurements over the past century are largely accurate at a global level, though there are some regions that have limited data, especially toward the earlier part of the century. That said, factors like UHI, instrument change, siting issue, and other data quality issues could potentially change the global trend modestly. JC: I’m waiting to see the results of the Berkeley analysis (coming soon) before passing judgment. I have serious concerns about the ocean data.
  3. Indirect solar forcing is not particularly significant in recent decades. While the role of cosmic rays in cloud formation is interesting and deserving or more study, the lack of a trend and large uncertainty in modalities precludes it being a major player in modern warming. JC: even the IPCC AR4 did not have confidence on this one; it is at the knowledge frontier, border with ignorance.

What I think is more likely than not [>50% probability]

  1. Intrinsic (unforced) variability plays a relatively large role globally at an intra-decadal scale, but is relatively insignificant at multidecadal scales. In this view, the early 20th century warming was due primarily due to solar forcings and a volcanic lull. JC: I disagree with this one.
  2. Recent warming is unprecedented over the past millennium. While there are plenty of problems with paleoclimate reconstructions, enough corroborating work has been done to at least elevate this to more likely than not in my personal judgment. Were there reconstructions clearly showing MWP temperatures comparable with, say, the running 50-year mean of the instrumental record I would be less certain. JC: I don’t think we know; the white part of the Italian flag is very big on this one.

I would love nothing more than to see people stop yelling at each other over this, and just agree that some of the science isn’t so settled. Of course, it won’t happen, because there is pressure to craft policy based on this branch of sciene, and once you get politics involved… then things get a very wonky and nasty in a hurry. Add that curious quirk of human nature that compels us to have to be right….

Oh well… One can dream.

Meet The New Boss… UPDATE – AP Shows Its Liberal Bias!

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Republicans in Wisconsin pull a fast one to secure the votes for the Walker budget plan. This is being cheered by many Conservatives today.

“Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly took the first significant action on their plan to strip collective bargaining rights from most public workers, abruptly passing the measure early Friday morning before sleep-deprived Democrats realized what was happening.

The vote ended three straight days of punishing debate in the Assembly. But the political standoff over the bill — and the monumental protests at the state Capitol against it — appear far from over.

The Assembly’s vote sent the bill on to the Senate, but minority Democrats in that house have fled to Illinois to prevent a vote. No one knows when they will return from hiding. Republicans who control the chamber sent state troopers out looking for them at their homes on Thursday, but they turned up nothing.

“I applaud the Democrats in the Assembly for earnestly debating this bill and urge their counterparts in the state Senate to return to work and do the same,” Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, said in a statement issued moments after the vote.

The plan from Republican Gov. Scott Walker contains a number of provisions he says are designed to fill the state’s $137 million deficit and lay the groundwork for fixing a projected $3.6 billion shortfall in the upcoming 2011-13 budget.

Debate had gone on for 60 hours and 15 Democrats were still waiting to speak when the vote started around 1 a.m. Friday. Speaker Pro Tem Bill Kramer, R-Waukesha, opened the roll and closed it within seconds.

Democrats looked around, bewildered. Only 13 of the 38 Democratic members managed to vote in time.

Republicans immediately marched out of the chamber in single file. The Democrats rushed at them, pumping their fists and shouting “Shame!” and “Cowards!””

Republicans… Do you NOT remember complaining about how Pelosi took short-cuts like this to get votes????? Why do this? You had the majority and it would have passed anyway. You just gave fuel to your opponents…. Pathetic.

UPDATE – Well…. I should have known. This paragraph appeared in the earlier rendition of the article:

Democrats launched a filibuster, throwing out dozens of amendments and delivering rambling speeches. Each time Republicans tried to speed up the proceedings, Democrats rose from their seats and wailed that the GOP was stifling them.

Debate had gone on for 60 hours and 15 Democrats were still waiting to speak when the vote started around 1 a.m. Friday. Speaker Pro Tem Bill Kramer, R-Waukesha, opened the roll and closed it within seconds.

As I am so fond of noting when talking about news reporting, the devil is often in the details, which is why I recommend reading both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal – they include more details than the average news service. The AP altered this story to make the Republicans look bad. This kind of blatant manipulation of the news really pisses me off!

Hat Tip: Althouse

Headline Of The Day:

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Will our ‘Sputnik moment’ fizzle out?

Can someone please show me the actual “Sputnik” type thing we were all supposed to be excited about in the first place????

A Presidential Pirouette.

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So… After fighting challenges in court for two years, suddenly DOMA is now unconstitutional!!!!

So, why was it “constitutional” prior to today?????

Bruce at Gay Patriot asked in jest if President Obama could be impeached:

Should a President who both knowingly signs a law that is unconstitutional (Obamacare) AND who refuses to defend a law (DOMA) passed by Congress and signed by a President that he deems to be unconstitutional be charged with impeachment?

No. There is no sense that they (Obama, Pelosi, or Reid) thought Obamacare would possibly lose in the courts – they thought it was perfectly fine. One the second point – setting aside the proclamation that suddenly they’ve seen the light and now recognize DOMA as unconstitutional, there are examples of laws on the books that the DOJ has in the past simply chosen not to defend. Here is Law Prof Marty Lederman defending then DOJ attorney John Roberts (hmmm… why does that name sound familiar???) concerning a brief explaining why the DOJ will not defend a law:

As a general matter, the Department has traditionally adhered to a policy of defending the constitutionality of federal enactments whenever “reasonable” arguments can be made in support of such statutes — i.e., whenever the constitutionality of the law is not fairly precluded by clear constitutional language or governing Supreme Court case law. This practice has been predicated on the notion that because the political branches — the Congress that voted for the law and the President who signed it — have already concluded that the statute was constitutional, it would be inappropriate for DOJ lawyers to take it upon themselves to reject the constitutional judgment shared by the President and the legislature.

There are, however, historical exceptions to this general practice. Almost all of the exceptions fall into one of three categories. The first category is cases in which intervening Supreme Court decisions have rendered the defense of the statute untenable. This category isn’t really an “exception” to the “rule” as much as it is an illustration of how the rule operates in practice: The newly governing Supreme Court decision eliminates any reasonable argument that might have been made in the statute’s defense, other than asking the Court to overrule its governing precedent (a tactic that the SG very rarely employs, but that is not unheard of, as in the second flag-burning case (Eichman), and in Agostini v. Felton). The second category involves statutes that in DOJ’s view infringe the constitutional powers of the President himself (e.g., Chadha; Bowsher v. Synar). The third, and smallest, category involves statutes that the President has publicly condemned as unconstitutional. The most famous such case was probably U.S. v. Lovett, in 1946. More recently, after the first President Bush vetoed the “must-carry” provisions of a cable television bill on constitutional grounds and Congress overrode the veto, the Bush (41) Administration declined to defend the constitutionality of the must-carry provisions. (The Clinton Administration reversed this decision and subsequently prevailed in its defense of the law in the Supreme Court in the Turner Broadcasting litigation.)

Interestingly enough, the blog that I got that from was written in 2009, concerning the Obama administrations decision to defend DOMA in the courts. The bigger and more interesting question is – Why has he suddenly seen the light? What changed from yesterday to today to cause this judicial pirouette? Could it be the result of more than a little support drift from the usually reliable gay contingent, who are being courted by the younger / less religiously motivated Conservative crowd with some success?

Wisconsin Taxes – Can You Say Tax Revolt?

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Or, what the left isn’t telling you about taxes in Wisconsin.

They are upset about the Walker proposed tax cuts…. But, what they are not talking about are the tax increases they have passed in the last several years, and at least some the Walker proposed cuts are actually a roll-back of the democrat sponsored increases! Here is a list of the Wisconsin tax increases:

2007 – $15.2 Billion Tax Increase

2007 – Increases in cigarette taxes…. And again in 2009

2009 – Rental car tax increases by 73 percent.

2009 – The Beer Tax! (that probably didn’t go down well)

Here is a list of the 2009 tax hikes:

* Raising the individual income tax to 7.75% – $312 million
* Higher capital gains tax on savings and investment – $181 million
* A series of tax hikes on Wisconsin businesses – over $208 million
* A huge targeted tax hike on smokers – another $344 million
* A $272 million tax on oil companies that means higher energy prices and prices at the pump
* A $1.5 million fee increase on processing poultry and beef that means higher prices for groceries
* A new coverage mandate for auto insurance that means higher prices for drivers

2010 – Property Taxes.

Many Democrats have been saying that there was a budget surplus until Scott Walker came to town. As you can see, it wasn’t a true surplus at all, but one that was built by covering up the budget deficiencies through higher and higher taxes. Democrats here in California have been trying to do the same here in California, and though there have been a few tax hikes in recent years, there has been enough Republicans in the legislature to prevent the type of money grab that has occurred in Wisconsin. Taken in this light, Walkers “evil” tax cuts are more like tax rollbacks. Jeez, can you blame Wisconsin voters for turning out those Democrats on their ears and voting in tax cutting Republicans???

Jimbob Jones…

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You’re Now Famous!!!!

Defunding The IPCC – A View From A “Denier”.

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Atmospheric Scientist Dr Roy Spencer, who also maintains and administers one of the two official satellite gathered climate / temperature archives, has this to say about the recent Republican proposal to defund the U.S. obligation to the IPCC.

The climate change deniers have no one but themselves to blame for last night’s vote.

I’m talking about those who deny NATURAL climate change. Like Al Gore, John Holdren, and everyone else who thinks climate change was only invented since they were born.

Politicians formed the IPCC over 20 years ago with an endgame in mind: to regulate CO2 emissions. I know, because I witnessed some of the behind-the-scenes planning. It is not a scientific organization. It was organized to use the government-funded scientific research establishment to achieve policy goals.

Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But when they are portrayed as representing unbiased science, that IS a bad thing. If anthropogenic global warming – and ocean ‘acidification’ (now there’s a biased and totally incorrect term) — ends up being largely a false alarm, those who have run the IPCC are out of a job. More on that later. Read more »

Points To Ponder- Desertion… As A Weapon?

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Yes… Wisconsin again… And now, Indiana apparently.

If this trend grows, what should be done about the practice of using desertion as a political weapon.

I was thinking, should the Republicans pass a law making it illegal for legislators to skip town in order to avoid a vote? Think about it. Could such a law even be enforced? And what if the shoe was on the other foot? For Conservatives who are vilifying Democrats, if the Republicans found themselves in the same type of powerless minority, and the Dems were proposing huge tax increases, wouldn’t you support the Conservatives using the same action to try and forestall the action? Here in California, the Republicans have in years past had just enough power to deny the Democrats carte blanche power to do just that without fleeing the state. But I’m certain that if it came to that, those Conservatives who fled the state would, at lest here in the more conservative San Joaquin Valley, would be look upon as heroes.

You may not be able to pass a law to make it illegal, or enforce it, BUT there are examples of structural changes made to the government system to squash the ability of political factions from grinding the legislative process to a halt. One example for this is the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. As laid out in the original document, Senators were not chosen via popular vote, but were appointed to serve by the State Legislators. From the 1820’s to the turn of the next century, some states with politically divided legislatures had a hard time deciding and resolving Senatorial appointments in a timely fashion, resulting in vacancies in the U.S. Senate. At one point, Delaware, due to political squabbles, did not even have a seated Senator for four years! This made it difficult for the Senate to conduct business, and many state citizens did not appreciate having no representation in that body. Plus, Senators of the day tended to be chosen based on political patronage and were often corrupt – OK, more corrupt than we generally see in our present day candidates. Allowing the public to vote for their Senators was seen as a check to clean things up.

More 17th Amendment info here.

PS. Interestingly enough, as you see in the wiki on the 17th Amendment, Wisconsin played a large role in the impetus to pass the amendment. Also, there is a movement to repeal the 17th Amendment. Here is the argument for doing so.  The points made are interesting, but, in my opinion flawed. There is no evidence that we would not see a return of the same types of problems that created the impetus to amend the Constitution (not an easy thing to do), The author writes this:

…a U.S. Senate representing the state governments would likely mean the end of many of the federal mandates and programs that currently stifle policy innovation, mandate uniformity, and strangle budgets in states,

That might be the case. But, as we see over and over again, politicians tend not to care whether something is paid for or not, and isn’t one of the complains against Federal judges, EPA officials and the Obama Czars a concern that they are appointees to their position and NOT voted into office by their constituents?

…indirect elections generally result in well qualified candidates filling the positions in question. This is as true of U.S. Supreme Court justices chosen by the president as it was of U.S. senators chosen by state legislatures. It is no accident that the preeminent U.S. senators in our history – e.g., Randolph, Calhoun, Clay, Webster, etc. – all appeared prior to the 17th, while demagogues like Sen. Schumer and hollow men like Sens. Bayh and Frist have filled the Senate after its ratification.

Concerning Randolph, Calhoun, Clay, Webster, etc…. Each of those Senators were reviled by their opposition in their day. The reason why they are now revered today is because they were larger than life, and more importantly, took stands on vital issues of great concern – slavery, for one – that modern Senators just don’t have to deal with. Plus, maybe just as important, all of these revered Senators were great orators and could speak for hours on end. I can’t think of a single example of any Senator in the last 40 years who has shown the ability to do that. But that is more a product of the communication age than of the quality of the Senators, as TV and radio has reduced policy advocacy to mere sound bites, and issues are on the whole so much more complicated in our modern world, i doubt that even those great Senators would be able to shine under these circumstances.

Truth And Consequences.

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There are many details concerning the Wisconsin brew-ha-ha, many claims being thrown back and forth, that I have yet to examine. Thus, I have not taken sides. That said, here are the results, happening in real time, if we don’t get the school system budgets in order in quick fashion:

Michigan orders Detroit Public Schools to make huge cuts

Lansing— Swift and severe changes are coming to Detroit Public Schools.
State education officials have ordered Robert Bobb to immediately implement a financial restructuring plan that balances the district’s books by closing half of its schools, swelling high school class sizes to 60 students and consolidating operations.

This week, Bobb, the district’s emergency financial manager, said he is meeting with Detroit city officials and will set up a meeting with Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency to discuss consolidation opportunities in areas such as finance, public safety, transportation and other areas.

Bobb also is preparing a list of recommended school closures and Friday said layoff discussions are under way and would be announced closer to April, when notices would be issued. “We are moving forward with the plan,” he said “Right now my focus is on my transition plan and the DEP (deficit elimination plan).”

Having inside knowledge of school system structure and regulations, it’s my firm belief that the whole system needs to be blown up and rebuilt from scratch. Due to the top down structure of the education system, the propensity to sue first and ask questions later, stupid regulations brought about by political interference from unions and BOTH political parties, the school systems across the country are a unmitigated mess.

If we don’t sit down and really reform the system, you will see many more school districts suffer the fate of the DPS system.

Political Brainwashing Or Educating?

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University of Wisconsin Law Prof Ann Althouse is somewhat incensed over the behavior of educators in Madison. She responds to an article describing how teachers are handling the current political kerfuffle in the classroom.

Just before classes start at East High School, Jackson plans to march from the corner of First Street and East Mifflin Street to the East parking lot for a rally….

“We could have done a big rally in the gym, but we’ve got to get kids in the classroom,” [principal Mary Kelley said]….

But district policy says teachers can’t use their positions to “promote candidates or parties or activities,” including protests. [Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad] said principals will determine to what degree teachers will be allowed to discuss the matter in the classroom.

How about following the policy? Seriously. I don’t get it. You have a policy. Do the rules apply or don’t they? You’d better set the example you expect the kids to follow. You don’t accept their explanations for why the rules don’t apply to them.

Peggy Coyne, a Black Hawk Middle School reading specialist and president-elect of Madison Teachers Inc., said she plans to ask students to write journal entries Tuesday about what they did while classes were canceled the last four days.
Coyne said teachers might also incorporate recent events into lessons about Wisconsin labor history. Some elementary school teachers have been told not to discuss the political events with younger children, she added.

Ridiculous! Outrageous… and kind of intimidating. What grade does a kid get if he says he demonstrated in favor of Scott Walker? Or if he says he stayed home and played video games? If this isn’t deliberate spying on the students and their families it will still feel like it to many students.

“If (teachers are) going to be speaking about the rally and the protest, it really needs to be a planned lesson and it really needs to look at both sides,” [Don Johnson, superintendent of the Middleton-Cross Plains School District, said].

Look, the teachers should leave the children out of their political struggle. They’ve already deprived them of nearly a week of the teaching they signed on to deliver. The students should receive, immediately, substantive educational lessons of the completely normal kind. Leave the politics, indoctrination, ideology, and political discipline out of the classroom. Children are required to attend school. The teachers who hold these young bodies and minds captive owe them pure, rich education. It’s a disgusting violation of trust to do anything else.

I can’t believe people who are fighting to preserve their job benefits would even think to appropriate the children this way. It’s mind boggling.