My Interactions With Skeptical Science – A Failed Attempt (So Far) For Constructive Dialog

Update: September 18 2011 – see Response From Anthony Watts

For the last several days, I have sought to engage the weblog Skeptical Science on climate science issues in response to their post

One-Sided ‘Skepticism

with comments on their weblog.

I had earlier posted on their website in

My Response To The Skeptical Science Post “One-Sided ‘Skepticism”

which started with my post

Scientific Robustness Of The University Of Alabama At Huntsville MSU Data.

Despite my raising science issues in my first post, the moderators of Skeptical Science have persisted on focusing on the issue of ad homimem attacks that I discussed as part of my post. They assume I only am critical of “one side” of the debate.  However, anyone who uses derogatory name calling significantly weakens their presentation of whatever viewpoint they expouse. I agree that the topic “Al Gore is an idiot”  at Watts Up With That is a derogatory term and that section on the weblog should be relabeled.  Instead of moving on, however, the moderators and comments at Skeptical Science persist on focusing on this subject.

The following comments from the Skeptical Science illustrate their inability to move on to discuss science issues. I thought their weblog would provide a much needed opportunity to constructively debate these issues but this, unfortunately, has not occurred. They refer me to “other threads” but the topics have been introduced in this thread.

I repost below several my comments and several responses from Skeptical Science [readers are welcome to go to their weblog to see the full exchanges]. This evening (September 17th)  they crossed out some of my comments, although you can still read them.

pielkesr at 06:54 AM on 17 September, 2011

Badgersouth – The six points are

•climate change as market failure,
•as technological risk,
•as global injustice,
•as over consumption,
•as mostly natural,
•as planetary “tipping points”.

Except for the 5th one from the top, they are policy issues. My expertise is in the WG1 focus (climate science).

Mike Hulme writes that these are “broadly consistent with the scientific knowledge assessed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” but the other 5 (and perhaps the last one although this requirements a quantitification of vulnerabilties) are not science issues, although people are using “science” claims to advocate for particular policies (e.g. see http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2011/09/somebody-send-paul-nurse-copy-of-honest.html).

Let’s focus on the science questions themselves in our discussions.

Response:

[Daniel Bailey] Dr. Pielke, this thread is about your selective and one-sided skepticism and misplaced accusations of ad hominems towards SkS.  Now please begin to address those.

pielkesr at 06:57 AM on 17 September, 2011

Dikran Marsupial – In answer to your question

‘With all due respect, you have not answered the question I asked. Can you present a statistical analysis that shows reasonable statistical power over decadal trends, yes or no? Pick any climate metric you like.’

look at
http://rankexploits.com/musings/2011/gistemp-up-during-august/

and earlier posts.

Response:

[Daniel Bailey] Dr. Pielke, this thread is about your selective and one-sided skepticism and misplaced accusations of ad hominems towards SkS.  Now please begin to address those.  Sir.

Off-topic struck out

pielkesr at 07:08 AM on 17 September, 2011

We seem to be stuck in developing a discussion. KR in #76 has a constructive science comment. KR, however, misses that both of these papers highlight the importance of ocean heat content changes as the metric to diagnose global warming. This eliminates the need to focus on the so-called “climate sensitivity”. Nonetheless, this is a good start.

However, the other commenters are mostly missing the central science issues I have rasied. I will repeat my questions here:

1.Of the two hypotheses below, which one do you conclude is correct?

Hypothesis 2a: Although the natural causes of climate variations and changes are undoubtedly important, the human influences are significant and involve a diverse range of first-order climate forcings, including, but not limited to, the human input of carbon dioxide (CO2). Most, if not all, of these human influences on regional and global climate will continue to be of concern during the coming decades.

Hypothesis 2b: Although the natural causes of climate variations and changes are undoubtedly important, the human influences are significant and are dominated by the emissions into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases, the most important of which is CO2. The adverse impact of these gases on regional and global climate constitutes the primary climate issue for the coming decades.

2. Of the two perspectives below [from Mike Hulme], which one do you agree with?

i) “The overwhelming scientific evidence tells us that human greenhouse gas emissions are resulting in climate changes that cannot be explained by natural causes. Climate change is real, we are causing it, and it is happening right now.”

ii) “The overwhelming scientific evidence tells us that human greenhouse gas emissions, land use changes and aerosol pollution are all contributing to regional and global climate changes, which exacerbate the changes and variability in climates brought about by natural causes. Because humans are contributing to climate change, it is happening now and in the future for a much more complex set of reasons than in previous human history.”

As Mike Hulme writes

”….these two different provocations – two different framings of climate change – open up the possibility of very different forms of public and policy engagement with the issue. They shape the response.

The latter framing, for example, emphasises that human influences on climate are not just about greenhouse gas emissions (and hence that climate change is not just about fossil energy use), but also result from land use changes (emissions and albedo effects) and from aerosols (dust, sulphates and soot).

It emphasises that these human effects on climate are as much regional as they are global. And it emphasises that the interplay between human and natural effects on climate are complex and that this complexity is novel.”

What are your comments on Mike Hulme’s two perspectives with respect to climate policy?

3. What is your preferred diagnostic to monitor global warming?

The options include, for example, (i) the global annual average surface temperature anomaly in degrees Celsius; ii) the global annual average ocean heat anomaly in Joules; or iii) the global annual average radiative imbalance at the top-of-the atmosphere in Watts per meter squared.

What is your best estimate of the observed trends in each of these metrics over the last 10 years and the last 20 years?

4. What do the models’ predict should be the current value of these metrics.

5. What are your preferred diagnostics to monitor climate change?

6. Is global warming (and cooling) a subset of climate change or does it dominate climate change?

If Skeptical Science is serious regarding a constructive debate, lets start with these on your weblog.

Response:

[Daniel Bailey] Actually, Dr. Pielke, it is you who continues to miss the point.  This thread is about your selective and one-sided skepticism and misplaced accusations of ad hominems towards SkS.  A continuation of your policy of avoiding the tough questions casts you in a very poor light.

pielkesr at 21:04 PM on 17 September, 2011

Glenn Tamblyn – Thank you for a response on the science.

On the ocean data (particularly the upper 700m) it is considered spatially well sampled and robust since 2003. It will replace the surface temperatures as the diagnostic to monitor global warming. Surface air temperatures will always be important, of course, (e.g. growing season length etc) but it is not a measure of heat by itself.

With respect to your comment “In the long run, CO2 levels unaddressed will become the dominant driver where as currently it is just first among many.” I agree; added CO2 will remain a major concern. However, land still has many locations that can be altered, and other climate forcings, such as nitrogren deposition is accelerating and will be accumulating on land and in the oceans. The length of time to “purge” the system of this excess nitogren is unclear. The human role in climate system is more complicated than just the added CO2 and a few other gases as we summarize in
Pielke Sr., R., K. Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D. Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E. Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell, W. Rossow, J. Schaake, J. Smith, S. Sorooshian, and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases. Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American Geophysical Union http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/r-354.pdf

Now on the moderator’s admonition

“[Daniel Bailey] Glenn, Dr. Pielke is exercising a ploy to divert this thread from its central focus: Dr. Pielke’s selective and one-sided skepticism and misplaced accusations of ad hominems towards SkS. Which he still fails to own and address.”

I thought Skeptical Science was about science issues, as Glenn has done. I have discussed on my weblog “the ad hominems towards” Spencer and Christy on SkS, since SKS is not accurately reporting on the quality of their science which they have posted in peer reviewed papers.

The comments keep bringing up Anthony Watt’s website. First, I have worked with Anthony and he is devoted to the highest level of scientific robustness. Second, he does not have boxes with derogatory labels on them identifying individual scientists. SkS does. Anthony even has a link to SkS on his weblog.

If you want to be taken more seriously by others outside of your view on the climate issue, you should be provide more balance.

Moderator Response: [Dikran Marsupial] We are very happy for you to discuss the science with us here at SkS, however please do so on the appropriate thread. SkS is organised this way in order to keep the discussion focussed. As we are unable to comment on the article on your blog it seems reasonable to have an article here devoted to the issue of your accusation of ad-hominems, so on this thread, please restrict your comments to that topic and that topic only. If our reporting of the science is incorrect then I strongly and sincerely encourage you to join the discussion on the relevant threads, your contribution will be greatly valued.

pielkesr at 04:37 AM on 18 September, 2011

Regarding the moderator comment -

“Moderator Response: [Dikran Marsupial] We are very happy for you to discuss the science with us here at SkS, however please do so on the appropriate thread. SkS is organised this way in order to keep the discussion focussed. As we are unable to comment on the article on your blog it seems reasonable to have an article here devoted to the issue of your accusation of ad-hominems, so on this thread, please restrict your comments to that topic and that topic only. If our reporting of the science is incorrect then I strongly and sincerely encourage you to join the discussion on the relevant threads, your contribution will be greatly valued.”

You post a “rogues’ gallery” on your website [“Christy Croks”; “Lindzen Illusions!”; “Monckton Myths”; and “Spencer Slipups” and are then surprised a number of my colleagues, as well as myself, consider this as degrogatory. I do not necessarily agree with all of their statements, but you are not going to broaden the appeal of your weblog unless you move away from this approach and just focus on the science. Such labeling of individuals is not constructive.

I raised the issue on my weblog that I view the SkS labeling as ad hominems because I have published with John Christy and have directly interacted with Roy Spencer. They do not deserve such labeling. If similar rouges’ gallerys were made of any other colleague who I have recently published with and/or closely worked with, I would also post on my website alerting the community who reads my blog of such a derogatory presentation.

This is the last statement I will be making on this thread, since, in response to the SkS request from Dikran Marsupial, the discussion of science issues on this thread, that some of your commenters have made in response to my questions, is discouraged.

I will defer from further involvement at SkS until (if SkS chooses) there is a separate post on the specific science issues I asked about earlier in this thread and on my weblog.

Please alert me when you do if you are interested in a scientific discourse with me. I do appreciate, that you did not exclude any of my comments in this thread.

Moderator Response: [Dikran Marsupial] The discussion of the science is only discouraged on this particular thread. I (and I suspect many others here) would be very happy to discuss the scientific issues with you on the relvant threads). Your further participation here is very much encouraged.

Response from SkS:

 DB] “Would I be right in saying that Dr Pielke failed to answer any of the questions and requests pertinent to this thread made of him by the SkS team?”

10-Roger on that.  The inescapable conclusion one is forced to draw is that Dr. Pielke under no circumstances will admit to having been wrong.  Thus, he cedes the Field of Truth to Skeptical Science.

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