In the Eye of the Storm

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James Hanley

James Hanley is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.

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  1. As someone who’s not skilled enough or knowledgeable enough to read such reports, I thank you for distilling them. What you say in this OP, by the way, seems reasonable enough to me.Report

  2. Hectic day today, so much as I would like to follow the comments, I’m out doing the other stuff. My initial thought is that this is a “preponderance of evidence” situation. Many authors and models have made many predictions about the consequences of an average warming of the atmosphere. It may be that tropical cyclone intensity has not increased to the degree that the models predict. OTOH, trends in Hadley cell widening, sea ice extent, and glacier/ice cap melt in the northern hemisphere are proceeding more rapidly than the models predict.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Michael Cain says:

      Michael,
      Storm swell goes up based on the net surface area increase caused by the “sea level rise.” (Go up a foot of water (that will occur, based on the melting we’re seeing now, just a matter of time), and you get a colossal lot more area flooding via storm swell).

      There are already plans on the books to evacuate Miami permanently. (Thank you NOAA!).Report

  3. Avatar Guy says:

    A few brief quibbles with this otherwise very good article:

    “[P]rojections are uncertain” about whether AGW will increase relative sea surface temperatures. Sea surface temperatures affect cyclone formation and strength, so if we have uncertainty in our projections of the effect of AGW on sea surface temperatures

    You’re eliding the difference between relative SSTs and average/total SSTs here. The gist of your argument is true, but the report section you quote before this claims a correlation between the PDI and both relative SSTs and average (tropical) SSTs. The uncertainty is mostly with the relative SSTs. Since average SSTs seem to be pretty uncontorversially rising (unless I’m horribly misreading something), I would conclude that the report indicates a general rise in destructivness with the degree uncertain. Pielke is probably right in that most of the increase in losses is due to the increase in value of property destroyed, but the claim that tropical storms are increasing in intensity due to AGW is not so easily dismissed.

    Additionally, the report notes (in a section you quote further down) the existence of an “observed increase in tropical cyclone activity since the 1970s”. This leads me to question the “and not” part of Pielke’s argument, as you sumarize it. It would probably be better to say that the increase in damages is due *primarily* to increased value of property, and that increased strength/frequency has a relatively small role.

    Abraham’s note that the panel has set a high bar for itself seems quite reasonable; all he’s saying is that just because the IPCC is not willing to say that increased strength/frequency of tropical storms due to AGW has caused an increase in damages does not mean that it hasn’t, or that it won’t. The data is not there in either direction, and given that it hasn’t been ruled out (but is plausible), ignoring the possibility is not a good idea.Report

    • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Guy says:

      @guy

      Considering your last paragraph, I had similar thoughts, too. I do think James was commenting more on some of the question-begging, knee-jerking aspects of Pielke’s critics. But yes, I do think the “high bar” statement does not necessarily speak to the appropriate response.

      By the way, I don’t know if you’re a new commenter around here, but if so, welcome aboard and feel free to stick around!Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to Guy says:

      “Abraham’s note that the panel has set a high bar for itself seems quite reasonable; all he’s saying is that just because the IPCC is not willing to say that increased strength/frequency of tropical storms due to AGW has caused an increase in damages does not mean that it hasn’t, or that it won’t. The data is not there in either direction, and given that it hasn’t been ruled out (but is plausible), ignoring the possibility is not a good idea.”

      BTW, the scientific history (in many related fields) is that in general, things are assumed to not change significantly until proven to do so. For example, 30 years ago the assumption was that the deep movements of glaciers would take a long time to respond to global warming, because it’d take a long time for the increased heat to get down below a mile of ice. IIRC, they’re already seeing far more motion than they thought, and with greater measurement accuracy, they’ve found that glaciers vary their motion more.Report

  4. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    “[P]rojections are uncertain” about whether AGW will increase relative sea surface temperatures. Sea surface temperatures affect cyclone formation and strength, so if we have uncertainty in our projections of the effect of AGW on sea surface temperatures, then we have uncertainty in our projections about what effect AGW will have on cyclones. This is a matter of formal logic

    P1. A might not cause B
    P2. B causes C
    C. A might not cause C

    doesn’t follow logically. There’s a missing premise

    P3. The only mechanism by which A could cause C is via B.

    Which might be true, but if you’re going to appeal to formal logic it should be stated.Report

    • I’m not too well versed (or versed at all) in formal logic. But if someone is using “might,” I don’t see how if P1 and P2 then C doesn’t logically follow. (Again, I realize formal logic is a thing, and I also realize I have no training in it.)Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

        P1. Cyanide might not cause asphyxiation.
        P2. Asphyxiation causes death.
        C. Cyanide might not cause death.

        A false conclusion, because cyanide does cause death (and very effectively), but using a different mechanism.Report

      • Avatar Guy in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

        The “might”s confuse things a bit, and I think they perhaps aren’t even be appropriate. I would formulate the argument as:

        P1: A causes B or A does not cause B
        P2: B causes C
        C: A causes C or A does not cause C.

        This is logically sound, but also pretty meaningless. We already knew that A causes or does not cause C; this exhausts the possibilities. Long story short, just because we don’t know A causes C doesn’t mean it doesn’t cause C.Report

      • Avatar Guy in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

        To be more clear, we can reformulate the premises of the whole argument as:

        P1 If A causes B, A causes C.
        P2 A’s causation of B is uncertain.

        From these premises, we can draw no conclusion about A’s causal relation to C. If A were known not to cause C, we would know it did not cause B, but that’s it. Mike’s example also works from a different angle.Report

      • @mike-schilling

        Pretty much what Guy said. But I’ll add, if we’ve just heard of this thing called cyanide and all we know about it is that it doesn’t cause asphyxiation. The conclusion “cyanide might not cause death” is still plausible. For me, the “might” is the key to what you seem to be saying. Take out the “might,” as Guy does, then we have a different ballgame. If we’re talking “might’s,” then much more is on the table.

        And frankly, I read James’s point not so much as an attempt to prove or disprove causation, as an attempt 1) to critique the way many (most?) people tend not to discuss AGW from a non-dogmatic stance and 2) to demonstrate that on some issues, there is not yet a consensus.

        Now, I don’t understand what James meant by “formal logic,” and if he is dealing in formal logic, then I have to confess (again) that I don’t know enough about formal logic to critique his use of it here. I still find your argument a bit hard to swallow because of the “might.”Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Your formulation of the logic is wrong, @mike-schilling. Nothing in what I wrote implied an A’s causality of C. It’s quite clear, though, that if we don’t know variable A’s effect on intervening variable B, then even if we know B causes C, we don’t know what ultimate state of C will be caused by a change in A.

      1. A change in B has a known effect on C.
      2. The effect on B of a change in A is unknown.
      3. The effect on C of a change in A is unknown.

      It’s not hard if you don’t misstate the premises.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to James Hanley says:

        You’re still assuming tacitly that A affects C only via B, which was my point.Report

      • I don’t think he is making that assumption, @mike-schilling . He’s saying A’s effect on C is unknown.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        Even if we knew of another way in which A affected C, by not knowing A’s effect on B means we’d be uncertain about A’s full affect on C.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

        GC,

        I agree that’s what he’s saying, but it doesn’t follow from the formal structure of the logic. Mike’s cyanide counterexample makes that point pretty clearly, it seems to me. The only way the conclusion follows formally is by including an additional premise: that B is the only cause of C. Only then will uncertainty about A’s relation to B entail uncertainty about A’s relation to C.Report

      • @stillwater

        I still don’t see it. If we’re using “might,” then we’re still talking about unknowns. Again and as I stated in response to the cyanide example: if all we knew about cyanide was that it didn’t cause asphyxiation, then we can truthfully say that cyanide might not cause death, which is another way of saying that whether cyanide causes death is unknown. What is the error in formal logic that I am making?

        To be clear, if we were to jump from “cyanide might not cause death” to, say, “it’s safe to eat cyanide,” then yes, we are inserting another premise and we do so at our own risk. But otherwise, I don’t see the error.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

        Maybe this will help:

        The premise in question is B causes C. That’s not strong enough for the claim of a formal entailment to be sound. For that to be the case, the premise needs to be stated as C only if B. (Or in other words, if C then B rather than if B then C). And from there we work our way backwords: B is a necessary condition on C, so if it’s possible that A and not-B, then it’s possible that A and not-C.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

        I still don’t see it. If we’re using “might,” then we’re still talking about unknowns.

        Not in the world of formal logic. When you and I say the word “might” or “maybe” we’re expressing the possibility of a certain state of affairs being the case given our ignorance of all the facts. Eg. Maybe Obama wants to impose Sharia Law in the US, I dunno. (OK, maybe that’s a bad example….))

        Formally, tho, the word “might” means not necessarily, which in turn just means possibly. Think of formal logic as a series of sentence types that are all logically connected, some of which follow necessarily from others and some of which don’t. Formal logic is interested in determining the set of sentence-type groups where conclusions follow necessarily. Necessarily, like, in the highest sense of that word.Report

      • I’m not sure I fully understand, but I think I’m getting closer. And forgive me if I’m sounding obtuse, but I’m still a little confused, especially about this:

        for the claim of a formal entailment to be sound….the premise needs to be stated as C only if B.

        Here’s what I don’t understand. First, I don’t know what “formal entailment” means. Does it mean that an argument, by its form alone, necessarily leads to the conclusion? If so (and I don’t know if that’s what it means), then does that mean a “might” argument can never be one of “formal logic”? I guess I could see that, but then the criticism would be of James’s use of the term “formal logic” and not of his argument, because….

        ….Second, what is the obligation here to say “C only if B”? Why can’t one argue that B causes C but that other things, too, can cause C? Perhaps, as in the cyanide example, we don’t learn a heckuva lot by demonstrating cyanide doesn’t cause asphixiation.* But it’s still correct to say, given what we know, it might not cause death because we know it doesn’t cause one of the causes of death.

        *For the record, I know cyanide kills but don’t know how. Does it, as a poison, create an process like asphixiation?Report

      • @stillwater

        You wrote your second comment while I was writing mine. So I think you answered it. If so, then maybe James shouldn’t have used the word “formal logic” (although I’m still not sure of this), but I don’t think otherwise Mike’s example was a good critique of James’s position.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to James Hanley says:

        Even if we knew of another way in which A affected C, by not knowing A’s effect on B means we’d be uncertain about A’s full affect on C.

        Agreed. But that might not matter. E.g. in the cyanide example, we don’t care whether it might cause death in other ways: one is sufficient. In the AGW example, if it increased the frequency of tropical storms via mechanism D, we’d know it’s a concern whether that’s augmented via B or not, though of course we’d like to know about B to gauge how large a concern.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

        I think Mike’s point stands as a matter of logic, actually (formal or otherwise). Uncertainty about A’s relation to B entails uncertainty about A’s relation to C only if B is necessary for C. As yet, no one (on this thread anyway) has argued that it is. So the argument leading to the conclusion isn’t valid. Which is Mike’s point. That doesn’t mean that the conclusion isn’t correct, I should add.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        Your cyanide example was misrepresentative of what I wrote.Report

      • If that’s all Mike is saying, I guess I don’t necessarily disagree with him, although I still see it as an attack on James’s use of a specific term and not on the overall point he (James) was arguing. Nothing necessarily wrong with that, but it’s not a fatal objection to the point James is making.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

        Nothing necessarily wrong with that, but it’s not a fatal objection to the point James is making.

        No, not at all. There’s undoubtedly a way to present a different argument supporting the intended conclusion and we all intuitively realize that. So in that sense we’re quibbling over some minor details which are unrelated to the point and purpose of the post.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        OK, I’ll back off on the formal logic claim. Or perhaps I should add in the other premise, since to the best of my knowledge there is no other mechanism for A to affect C.

        @gabriel-conroy–it’s a blog; picking at that kind of thing is to be expected. If I complained about that, I’d have to quit doing it myself. 😉

        I will say, though, given his comments on the other thread where I’m arguing with, I find Schilling’s concern for logic here coldly amusing.Report

      • Yeah, I’m as nitpicky as the next guy. My formula is usually a bit different: “I agree with everything you said, but what about this one tangential thing you didn’t even talk about? Oh….and scientism!”Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        Mike may be a bit peeved at me right now. With any luck he’s so irritated at being called out that he can’t even enjoy the Giants’ second inning lead over the Dodgers.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to James Hanley says:

        I’m not angry with you at all. In fact, I considered not saying anything to avoid pissing you off in two different places at the same time, but pedantry vincit omnia.

        I wish you hadn’t felt it necessary to jinx the Giants, though.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        @mike-schilling

        I accept your argument here. It took me a few rounds to get it, but I get it.

        But you really need to stop pretending a dead guy and two 70 year old+ men are the complete descriptor of libertarianism. It’s a case of a smart guy being intellectually lazy.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to James Hanley says:

        But the real problem is that A’s change on D (sea level rise) is really predictable. And D’s effect on C is already modeled to be devastating.Report

    • Avatar dljvjbsl in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      What is going on is not an exercise in formal logic but in Bayesian reasoning. That is the conditional probability of C given A. Bayesian reasoning is a measure our state of knowledge not of a absolute state in the world. So the question posed above would resolve to given A what can we say that we know about C. Bayesian reasoning results in a measure of the likelihood of an event given our current state of knowledge.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Mike,
      oh, so true. Sea level rise WILL increase damages from oceanic storms. It’s a pretty big multiplier.Report

    • Avatar veronica dire in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      By the way, folks, what Mike is talking about is Modal Logic:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modal_logic

      Which is, shall we say, rather complex, and can get bogged down in semantics. (What does the word “might” actually mean when we say “A might not cause B”?)

      Anyway, that is one of the better Wikipedia articles on a had subject, so enjoy.Report

  5. The passage that Guy quotes about an increase since the 1970s is a double cherrypick by the IPCC. First the start date and second the region (North Atlantic). If you look at the IPCC’s own graph, you can see that overall there has been no increase.Report

  6. Avatar clawback says:

    Next up: Pielke announces there is insufficient evidence to suggest climate change makes people less happy. Then we’ll be scolded for pointing out that such a standard is not useful for determining the effects of climate change.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to clawback says:

      Thanks for taking the time to read….oh, wait.Report

      • Avatar clawback in reply to James Hanley says:

        I read the part where you quote Abraham writing, “[d]etecting climate signals in normalized economic losses remains deeply contested, but trends in extreme weather itself can be studied directly, a field around which there is much consensus.”

        Then I read the part where you scolded him: “it is odd for a scientist to critique the setting of a high bar for evidence, or to imply that really we ought to accept a lower bar.”

        No, the only odd thing here is your deceptive framing. There’s nothing odd about a scientist preferring to look for direct, rather than indirect, effects.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        Clawback,

        Apparently you didn’t read the part where the IPCC report contradicts Abraham.Report

      • Avatar clawback in reply to James Hanley says:

        No, I read that part. I just didn’t comment on it. I commented on the part where you framed a scientific preference for looking for direct effects as “accept[ing] a lower bar.”Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        Then you misread that, clawback, because I did nothing of the kind. I did two separate things. I critiqued Abraham for complaining that the IPCC report set too high a bar. And I critiqued Abraham for seeming to imply that the IPCC report was relying on non-direct evidence. You’ve conflated those in a way that does not accurately reflect anything I said or intended to say.Report

      • Avatar clawback in reply to James Hanley says:

        No, I misread nothing. As you said, you did two separate things. I’m referring only to the first. Abraham complained that attempting to attribute increased economic costs to climate change sets too high a bar. He then made it clear that by this he meant that there is insufficient data to look for such an indirect effect.

        In response to his “too high a bar” complaint — which, as the context makes clear, refers to the search for indirect effects — you responded with a cheap shot about it being “odd for a scientist to critique the setting of a high bar for evidence.” In the context, there’s nothing else for your “odd” comment to refer to.

        As I said, there’s nothing odd about a preference for searching for direct effects.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        Abraham complained that attempting to attribute increased economic costs to climate change sets too high a bar.

        Clawback, you are being incoherent. Attributing increased economic costs to climate change is what people are doing, and when Pielke argued that we can’t (at least at present), Abraham critiqued him for saying we can’t.Report

      • Avatar clawback in reply to James Hanley says:

        No. He didn’t. Which part of

        Detecting climate signals in normalized economic losses remains deeply contested

        are you having trouble with? It’s right there in the paragraph you quoted!Report

      • Clawback, sets too high a bar for what? Or sets too high a bar to establish what?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        @clawback
        Here’s the quote:
        the panel, which is referring to an “absence of an attributable climate change signal,” has set a high scientific bar for itself. Detecting climate signals in normalized economic losses remains deeply contested,

        The part of the report that I was quoting, and to which Pielke was referring, does not talk about trying to detect climate signals through economic losses. OK? So even if trying to do so is in fact too high a bar, it’s not a bar the IPCC panel actually set itself.Report

      • Avatar clawback in reply to James Hanley says:

        Will, trying to establish an economic effect from climate change “set[s] a high scientific bar.” The context is all admirably included in the last blockquote in the article.Report

      • Avatar clawback in reply to James Hanley says:

        But … it is in fact too high a bar. And Abraham explicitly agreed it’s too high a bar. Then you cheap-shotted about this being “odd,” as if recognizing the limits of data makes a scientist somehow inferior. And Pielke got a lot of publicity for triumphantly telling us that climate scientists have failed to reach this bar. Which is too high. Which brings us right back to my original snark that it might also be difficult to establish that climate change makes us unhappy.Report

      • Clawback, the original piece talks about the bar that the IPCC set to demonstrate economic impact. Not the bar that demonstrating economic impact sets towards something else. Your comments come across to me as though you are suggesting that demonstrating economic impact is a high bar to set towards demonstrating something else. Like the existence of global warming or the effect of global warming on weather patterns. Is there a something else? Or are you, like Abraham (by my reading of him), talking about the bar that was set to demonstrate economic impact?

        I’m asking primarily because I am having difficulty following your half of the conversation.Report

      • Avatar clawback in reply to James Hanley says:

        Will, I’m not sure I understand your question, but my position is much like Abraham’s, which I would summarize as:

        1. A failure to establish a relationship between climate change and an economic impact is not the same as success in establishing no relationship. Pielke conflates these.

        2. It’s far more useful to look at direct effects. These effects are well established.Report

  7. Avatar Jason Thomas says:

    For the record:

    Statement on the U.S. Hurricane Problem
    July 25th 2006

    As the Atlantic hurricane season gets underway, the possible influence of climate change on hurricane activity is receiving renewed attention. While the debate on this issue is of considerable scientific and societal interest and concern, it should in no event detract from the main hurricane problem facing the United States: the ever-growing concentration of population and wealth in vulnerable coastal regions. These demographic trends are setting us up for rapidly increasing human and economic losses from hurricane disasters, especially in this era of heightened activity. Scores of scientists and engineers had warned of the threat to New Orleans long before climate change was seriously considered, and a Katrina-like storm or worse was (and is) inevitable even in a stable climate.

    Rapidly escalating hurricane damage in recent decades owes much to government policies that serve to subsidize risk. State regulation of insurance is captive to political pressures that hold down premiums in risky coastal areas at the expense of higher premiums in less risky places. Federal flood insurance programs likewise undercharge property owners in vulnerable areas. Federal disaster policies, while providing obvious humanitarian benefits, also serve to promote risky behavior in the long run.

    We are optimistic that continued research will eventually resolve much of the current controversy over the effect of climate change on hurricanes. But the more urgent problem of our lemming-like march to the sea requires immediate and sustained attention. We call upon leaders of government and industry to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of building practices, and insurance, land use, and disaster relief policies that currently serve to promote an ever-increasing vulnerability to hurricanes.

    Kerry Emanuel
    Richard Anthes
    Judith Curry
    James Elsner
    Greg Holland
    Phil Klotzbach
    Tom Knutson
    Chris Landsea
    Max Mayfield
    Peter WebsterReport

  8. Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

    One implication I see that hasn’t been mentioned: Even if we admit that greater storm damage is happening simply because we are getting wealthier, and not because of climate change, it does not follow that we should do nothing to mitigate the damage from storms.

    The wealthier we get, the more and more we’re going to want to engineer hurricane abatement systems, and deploy them to protect our wealth. We will likely also want to develop geoengineering more broadly, for exactly the same reasons.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

      Who’s wealth to protect; Bali? Bangledesh? Miami? NYC? To each his own?Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to zic says:

        To each his own has been the rule, yes.

        In practice, governments will perhaps increasingly be expected to protect their citizens against threatened hurricanes, once the technology matures. As to global warming abatement, I don’t know yet. It’s clearly a public good, but we have no government at the needed scale.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        @jason-kuznicki

        Externalities don’t really matter much after all.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to zic says:

        Funny. I thought I’d just conceded that they do matter.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        I’m guilty of reading between the lines; you say we have no government at the needed scale yet I have questions that either of us, you or I, would be comfortable with a government of that scale; so the default position is to fall back on the hopefully emerging technology that will abate local effects, and the likely deployment of that technology to protect the concentrations of wealth of that government’s citizens.

        In the US, there’s some interesting history here of having all people pay for the downstream effects of some actors. My river valley lived through this after the Clean Water Act passed; though there were a few large industries that created the bulk of the pollution that made the river one of the most polluted in the country, the small towns along the river had to install sewage treatment plants at their own expense; the paper industry offered to shoulder much of that burden, and were told no, all the communities have to help (I’m not sure how that decision was made.) We see a similar result in the recent scotus decision over downstream air quality. There is some level of discounting the externalities of specific actors in this reasoning; I’m not sure of my level of comfort with it.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to zic says:

        Jason,
        Far easier to just evacuate Miami. Pay people to leave if we must, but trying to save what’s not sustainable is just sending good money after bad.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

      @jason-kuznicki
      Didn’t you get the Daily Kos memo? Geo-engineering is the “3rd wave of Global Warming denialism.”Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

      Jason,
      If you know of ways to prevent the sea level from rising, I urge you start funding them posthaste. (if you need some suggestions, let me know).Report

  9. James Hanley,
    Nice post.

    It is true that there are some researchers who have been saying for more than a decade that we should be seeing unusual hurricanes/tropical cyclone activity due to man-made global warming (Mann, Trenberth, Holland, Emmanuel et al.). However, as Pielke, Landsea, Gray, Maue et al. have pointed out there are serious problems with the data, and once you take these problems into account, there doesn’t seem to be any actual empirical evidence for any unusual trends.

    I wrote an essay on this topic a while back, summarising what the data actually says, and reviewing the debate in the literature: http://globalwarmingsolved.com/2013/12/is-man-made-global-warming-causing-more-hurricanes/ Have you seen it?Report

  10. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    Attributing increased economic costs to climate change is what people are doing

    So goes the assumption in the Pielke piece. He provides three links trying to establish that this argument is prominent: the claim doesn’t appear in any of the links. The closest I can see is the title of the World Bank piece, whose main thrust is to argue for weather-damage resiliency investment: “Weather-Related Loss & Damage Rising as Climate Warms.” Obviously it’s a suggestive title, but the piece seems to studiously avoid making the claim, and outright says:

    A new report from the World Bank released today shares experiences such as those from India. Titled Building Resilience: Integrating Climate and Disaster Risk into Development, the report highlights good practices and innovative solutions for protecting lives and livelihoods, and for decreasing losses and damages to private property and critical infrastructure.

    It shows that weather-related financial losses are concentrated in fast-growing, middle-income countries because such countries have increasingly high-value assets that are also becoming more exposed. The average impact of disasters in such nations equaled 1 percent of gross domestic product between 2001 and 2006 – ten times higher than the average for high-income countries.

    The report also shows that weather-related disasters are most crippling for smaller and lower-income countries that are least able to cope.

    My sense is that people have largely argued from the past evidence for the direct effect of climate change on extreme weather frequency and left the notion that this will increase costs over time to one of extrapolation – even imagination. I don’t know that people have argued that the increase in costs so far seen are likely caused by climate change, if only precisely because of the effect that Pielke points to: it;s hard to disentangle increase costs from the underlying increase in wealth. It’s logical to think that increases in costs caused by climate change would be detectable only after the change has become quite pronounced. The whole premise of the climate change argument is that we’re only just now starting to see the direct weather effects. Detectable, disentanglable knock-on effects like changes in disaster costs are presumably quite a ways down the road at this point, if such disentangling is even ever a possibility.

    Pielke picked out an argument that was really easy to refute, because it’s really hard to make. So hard, in fact, he apparently had quite a hard time coming up with any samples of people who think seriously about climate change making it. (Which is not reason not to expect to see them saying things like, “If we do nothing to change the human impact on climate, it’s logical to think that over time the direct weather effects, which we have good evidence to give us reason to think are happening, will increase costs related to extreme weather events.”Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Michael Drew says:

      If your claim is correct, then why were people so outraged at Pielke for saying it? They said he was wrong in his conclusions, even ludicrous. Apparently they disagree with you that he chose “an argument that was really easy to refute” because they deny that he refuted it.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to James Hanley says:

        People were outraged at Pielke due to the frustration many people have at the stream of AGW denial that has prevented actually doing anything to even try to deal with it. They are frustrated and outraged at all the pro-denial side propaganda that gets pushed to the point where most of the R’s and conservatives in the country think AGW is a lizard people plot to enslave the country.. So when they saw this shiny new site have a guy make a rather small point that appears to downplay the seriousness of AGW they freaked. Did they go overboard or whatever? Probably. How does that relate to discussing AGW in general, not much.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        How does that relate to discussing AGW in general, not much.

        Then maybe the people who want to discuss AGW shouldn’t freak out about it so much.

        The thing is, Pielke’s point has important policy implications. And those implications are not about AGW, but about what we should do in response to increasing storm costs. But by people throwing a huge fit and yelling a lot about AGW, it’s pretty sure the practical policy implications of his argument won’t get heard.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to James Hanley says:

        James,
        Pielke’s retrospective doesn’t provide a good basis for extrapolation, based on current models and empirical data (Michael Cain, above, does a good job of stating where the models have been significantly undershooting the data).Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

      @james-hanley

      Well, as you point out, different people got outraged about it in different ways. But generally, maybe

      1) because, if my claim is correct, they took this as an indication his overall approach betrayed a desire to gain notoriety by being a climate contrarian in whatever way he could defensibly dream up, even if that meant trumpeting a fairly meaningless claim. As a general matter, this tends to heighten doubt about the climate change thesis at the relatively low-information margin, which is really where the political tipping point lies- and this in exchange for the advancement very little real intellectual value.

      2) because, for a piece nominally about uncited claims about existing cost effects, he actually does call into question the direct weather effects in the course of the piece to a surprising (and, as far as I can see, gratuitous from the perspective of the argument of the piece) degree, and, from what I rad, in a substantively irresponsible way:

      To identify changes in extreme weather, it’s best to look at the statistics of extreme weather. Fortunately, scientists have invested a lot of effort into looking at data on extreme weather events, and recently summarized their findings in a major United Nations climate report, the fifth in a series dating back to 1990. That report concluded that there’s little evidence of a spike in the frequency or intensity of floods, droughts, hurricanes and tornadoes. There have been more heat waves and intense precipitation, but these phenomena are not significant drivers of disaster costs. In fact, today’s climate models suggest that future changes in extremes that cause the most damage won’t be detectable in the statistics of weather (or damage) for many decades.

      >

      …and

      3) because of trolling like this: “All the apocalyptic “climate porn” in your Facebook feed is solely a function of perception.” Trolling works, unfortunately.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Michael Drew says:

        as you point out, different people got outraged about it in different ways.

        I did nothing of the sort.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Oh. Well, I took you to be saying that some of the blog-commenty types were a lot less reasonable than the critics in the scientific community, even if some of them weren’t perfectly calibrated either. But regardless, different people got outraged about it in different ways. Point being just that any answer to your question that doesn’t take each critic more or less individually in order to understand their motivations is going to suffer a bit for accuracy, but generally what I mentioned are roughly some of the major reasons. Obviously they’re all magnified by the fact that this was the guy brought on to write about climate for a new, high-profile, highly anticipated website. I assumed that was understood – Pielke has been saying roughly the same stuff for a while (I think?) but before he was brought on by 538 no one paid him much inordinate attention. I was trying to give the substantive reasons.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Pielke has been saying roughly the same stuff for a while (I think?) but before he was brought on by 538 no one paid him much inordinate attention.

        You’ve clearly not been following this issue. Pielke’s beem receiving “inordinate” attention for a long time.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Michael Drew says:

        IMHO, The scientists in question shouldn’t be getting so up in arms at Pielke. Either they have the evidence to dispassionately refute him or they don’t yet. If they have to get so up in arms, I have to start wondering if their objectivity in these matters is questionable.

        I know scientists have strong heated discussions over their work, but allowing those heated discussions to spill out into the public sphere is not always a good idea, especially when a lot of these scientists, while very good at their job, absolutely suck at image management.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Yet all the outrage you’re inquiring about happens to be in response to either what he wrote at 538 or news of his hiring there. You never brought him up before this; he wasn’t visible enough to rise to our attention here. You asked why the outrage; the outrage in question has happened since the hiring. Maybe to you the attention he received before was inordinate (to what? I’m saying it’s become inordinate since his hiring because he’s become something close to climate change public enemy number one, which is certainly not justified by his substantive views, and that’s clearly related to being hired at 538.), but I’m referring to the attention he’s received since his hiring. As are you, as evidenced by the fact that all the examples of the outrage you are interested in that you have provided are from since then as well.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist

        This is why I raised (and mistakenly tried to credit James with) the diversity-of-outrage point. It’s not clear to me what we’re defining as outrage, getting heated, taking a position, lodging criticism, etc. Do you have a sense of what kind of rhetoric it is scientists are engaging in that they should be abjuring?

        Also, are you sure you want to commit to the view that if a scientist displays some passion in arguing for what she sees as the conclusions the evidence supports, this should lead us (or you in any case) to start to question their objectivity? I certainly understand why you might be inclined to feel that way. Is it the right thing to do, though?Report

      • Michael Drew,

        Pielke has been saying roughly the same stuff for a while (I think?) but before he was brought on by 538 no one paid him much inordinate attention. I was trying to give the substantive reasons.

        Pielke has indeed “been saying roughly the same stuff” since the early 2000s. Even Pielke & Landsea, 1998 was already pointing out the problems of coastal population & wealth changes.

        But, I would disagree that “no one paid him much inordinate attention”. This subject has been heavily debated for more than a decade now, and has received a lot of attention, particularly during the mid-2000s (around the time of Hurricane Katrina).

        Among the hurricane/cyclone scientific community there seem to be two camps:

        1. Those claiming we should be seeing unusual activity (Mann, Trenberth, Emmanuel, Holland, etc.)
        2. Those claiming that there is no evidence of unusual hurricane/tropical cyclone, once you take into account the problems with the raw data (Landsea, Pielke, Knutson, Maue, etc.)

        Although Pielke has mostly focused on the economics side of the debate, he is a very prominent researcher in the second camp, and his papers on this topic have been widely cited by both camps.

        It is true that the researchers from the first camp don’t like his findings. But, there has been a grudging acceptance from some of those in the first camp that Pielke is making valid arguments.

        For instance, the Knutson et al., 2010 review which featured researchers from both camps, seems to agree with the basic arguments that Pielke has been making on normalized damage. The IPCC report’s statements on this topic seems to be strongly influenced by the Knutson et al. review.

        As another example, from reading her blog, I get the impression that Curry (who was sometimes dubbed the “high priestess” of the first camp) now agrees with a lot of Pielke’s arguments. [Although as far as I recall(?) her current position is somewhere in the middle of the two camps]

        In this post, James Hanley correctly identifies that all of the vitriolic criticism of Pielke’s 538 article was coming from those in the first camp. This created the false impression that Pielke’s work somehow contradicted the “scientific consensus”, and that the article was “anti-science”/”contrarian”.

        The reality is that Pielke’s work has considerable support from many in the hurricane/tropical cyclone community. From my review of the scientific literature on this topic, I would estimate that at least half of those actively publishing in the field would strongly agree with a lot of what he is saying.

        Have you read my review of this topic I wrote for my blog yet? http://globalwarmingsolved.com/2013/12/is-man-made-global-warming-causing-more-hurricanes/
        It’s quite a long essay for a blog, but if you don’t want to read the whole thing, just read Section 2 (The 2005 “hurricane wars” debate) where I focus on the debate between the two camps.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Michael Drew says:

        @michael-drew

        As far as I can tell, your complaint boils down to me not giving more background in the OP about the climate debates that involve Pielke. If so, that would be a fair critique, but could have been said a lot more directly. If your point is something else, you’ve lost me entirely.

        I’ve read your comment about 5 times. I have a feeling I’ve put a lot more thought into it than you did.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

        I don’t know which complaint you mean. If it’s the thing about not getting inordinate attention before, I really don’t think it’s that important. To me, going to 538 is what amped up the “outrage” to the point where we’d even be talking about him here. But as I say, that aspect wasn’t among the reasons I listed initially, because I took you to be asking about the substantive reasons for the reaction rather than the atmospheric/platform-related ones. I’m guessing that goes back to before he went to 538, but the reasons I give probably become less accurate, as those debates would be more related to other claims he may have, made, and here I’m just dealing with the examples you cite.

        Anyway, to me the change in reaction relating to the hiring is a relevant factor, though, because I think your question partly goes to what’s with the tone and tenor of the reaction in the examples you give, which all relate to what he’s said since the hiring or to the fact of his hiring.

        I can’t really speak to the tone and tenor nor substance of reaction to him before, but if it’s such a big part of your question it seems odd that it makes no appearance among the examples of outrage you’re concerned with in the OP. By your examples, you seem to be asking about the “outraged” reaction this piece, his other writing at 538, and his hiring there. So that’s what I was speaking to.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Michael Drew says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist

        My quick and dirty take on the Pielke issue is that he’s hated because he takes a measured approach on AGW. He thinks it’s happening, and he thinks it will have real effects, but he doesn’t agree with those who think it’s the greatest crisis ever and that we have to try to stop it now.

        And I’m with him on that. I think AGW will cause some massive disruptions, but a lot of those will be very regionally focused. From everything I’ve seen we’re unlikely to be able to actually stop it at this point (although I favor shifting away from carbon heavy fuels for other reasons anyway*).

        And as a good political scientist, Pielke recognizes what a lot of the climate scientists don’t, which is that responsible public policymaking requires that we consider comparative costs and benefits–that is, we need to look at the net benefits of making the changes that will actually reduce AGW and the net benefits of adaptation. Most likely, our best bet–both in terms of what’s achievable and in terms of what’s got the best benefit/cost ratio, is a combination of energy source-shifting and adaptation.

        Not to bash on scientists, but the nature of their education and training most often doesn’t teach them to think like economists and policy analysts. So their tends to be a misunderstanding on their part when they detect a problem–they tend to just see it as something that needs to be corrected by the policy process. They don’t recognize the extent to which we really have to consider the costs in policy-making, and they don’t–generally–see that even if correcting a problem is a net benefit, the costs involved will prevent some other policy from being enacted, which might have greater net benefits. E.g., I’m still inclined to think that lifting the third world out of poverty is a greater net benefit than preventing global warming.

        ________________________________
        * But there’s no way we can do sufficient energy source-shifting fast enough to prevent further atmospheric CO2 accumulation. Just in the U.S., to take up the current energy demands we’d have to be bringing multiple nuclear reactors on-line every year, and to take up the expected increase in demand each year we’d need to double that rate. Currently, after not having built any new reactors in decades we have, iirc, 3 new permits that have been issued, and 2 under construction. There are a number of permit seekers in-process, but only a few more that are getting near to final permitting, and legal challenges could hold those off for years.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

        …Also, if that is the question you’re concerned with, I don’t at all consider what I’ve said about that a complaint. It was really just a throwaway pointnthat I was making to say that, to me, it’s clear there was a big ramp-up in the reaction to him since the 538 hiring, and it seemed to me that reaction in that timeframe is what you were asking about. So I was just saying that I had neglected to even mention that because it seemed so obvious, and also not to be exactly what you were getting at with the question.

        If there’s a complaint here, it seems like it’s yours: taking issue with my suggestion that the attention he got might not have been that inordinate before. I didn’t mean for that to be controversial; if you say it was inordinate before, okay. I said it wasn’t that inordinate: it’s certainly more inordinate now. It remains the case that all the examples you’re concerned with in the OP related to what he wrote at 538 or to his hiring, so that was the reaction I concerned myself with.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Ronan,

        it’s not clear to me why the attention he received before would have been inordinate. Inordinate means out of proportion to its importance. I used the term intentionally. Why does the fact that his claims received attention mean that the amount they received was inordinate?

        I’m also not particularly struck by the level of vitriol I’m seeing against him in scientific quarters (granted, I don’t have access to their private communications). I grant that there’s plenty of vitriol in political blog comment sections. It just seems that the distinction between those venues seems pretty important to keep in mind.

        I would say that currently the level of attention he’s getting in inordinate because, due to his hiring at 538 and the general wave of attention to these new news/analysis start-ups, the controversy of his hiring went viral n social media etc. And there I’m sure there’s plenty of vitriol. The scientific discourse, though, seems to me to just be good, spirited, academic (if in the popular media, 538, Huffington Post, etc.) back and forth, even if the attention it’s receiving remains inordinate, again, because now the controversy has gone mainstream.

        Really any controversy that goes mainstream will almost by definition get inordinate attention, such is the power of viral media. That’s what I meant by “much inordinate attention.”Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

        …But if you say it was inordinate before, I’m happy to defer. It’s really not that important a point to me.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Excellent piece, James, and the above conversation with MRS is especially well written.

        Sadly, many scientists have been seduced into the realm of evangelists for a cause (toward either side of this debate). This is not constructive to the scientific method. Science always has factions and conflicting camps, but when these internal disputes get amplified by politics and drawn into the areas of economics (which many scientists are unfamiliar with) the result ain’t pretty.Report

      • Michael,

        I totally agree with you that we need to distinguish between scientific discourse & blog comments! 🙂 Certainly, in academia, the discourse tends to be a bit more nuanced and less vitriolic than on the blogs. Speaking of which, did you ever see this 1990s BBC comedy sketch? 😉

        However, while I can appreciate it might not have received as much attention as the 538 article controversy, the debate over hurricane trends did receive quite a lot of attention around the time of Hurricane Katrina and Al Gore’s film (which completely ignored the views of the second camp, by the way), both in the scientific literature and in the media.

        Have you read this 2010 interview with Judith Curry? It gives an interesting summary of her perspective of the vitriolic fighting that was occurring in the 2005/6 “hurricane wars”. It’s well worth the read, particularly if you were unfamiliar with the debate before 538.

        I agree with you that 538 was a high profile forum. Maybe you’re right that you wouldn’t have been talking about Pielke here otherwise… But, if so, that suggests at least two serious problems, as I see it:

        1. It suggests that many people wouldn’t have known of the substantial debate in the scientific community on hurricane trends, and been unaware of Pielke’s views on hurricanes trends and that his views are shared by many (if not all!) scientists active in the field.
        2. The fact that the criticism of Pielke’s 538 article only came from the first camp, and yet received so much coverage (even mentioned on the Daily Show) means that more people will be convinced that Pielke’s views are somehow “anti-science” and/or outside of the scientific mainstream.

        When a scientific topic becomes the focus of political discussion on policymaking, I think it is important that people are aware of all the views held by the scientific community, and how widespread they are. Do you agree?

        In that context, I think it is important that people are aware that on this particular topic:
        1. There are conflicting views in the scientific community. One camp claims AGW is leading to unusual cyclonic activity, but the other camp (e.g., Pielke) strongly disagrees.
        2. Pielke’s views are shared by many scientists
        3. The IPCC report’s discussion of this topic is broadly consistent with Pielke’s views
        4. Scientists from the first camp (e.g., Mann, Emmanuel, Trenberth) disagree with Pielke’s views

        Would that be useful for policymakers, do you think? I don’t know – I’m a scientist, not a policymaker, so that’s just my thoughts on the matter.

        Pielke’s 538 article made some attempt to highlight points 2 & 3. Personally, I would have preferred if points 1 & 4 were also highlighted. That’s what I tried to do in my essay.

        But, because the criticism of Pielke’s article was (a) exclusively from the first camp and (b) received so much attention, it seems to have back-fired and perpetuated this invalid notion that Pielke’s views are outside of the mainstream scientific opinion.

        I think James’ post might help undo some of that damage, if it is widely-read, which I think would be a good thing. What about you?Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Michael Drew says:

        @michael-drew

        Yes, there appears to be strong disagreement from a number of scientists/researchers. It is not to the level/degree of political pundits & other media talking heads, but it is a strong disagreement that is not happening in published journals, but on blogs, etc.

        The history of science is replete with epic ego fights between competing researchers & the “camps” of ideas/theories. I mean the kinds of word wars that make for some seriously entertaining reading! However, for the most part, such discussions have had a couple of things going for them. First, they were (at the time) relatively private affairs that took place via letters & peer reviewed work, & only occasionally in face to face discussions. Such disagreements rarely came to the attention of the general public until long after the matter had been settled. Second, because of the nature of the form of communication used, the letters & articles were not dashed off & put out there at the push of a button, but instead were carefully & thoughtfully put together. The resulting communiques were therefore much more rigorous in their detail, and quite a bit more epic (it always helps to take the extra time to sharpen your insults for future generations).

        Far too many scientists today, especially those at the visible forefront of the climate discussion, seem to have forgotten a cardinal rule of written discussion:

        Don’t dash off an angry letter.

        This is especially true of scientists, since it is a rare thing when we are trained in communication skills beyond presenting findings & writing grant proposals (those of us who are good at it either have some natural talent, or we have some training from somewhere outside of our required & recommended degree coursework, or both).

        So, to your questions:

        Do you have a sense of what kind of rhetoric it is scientists are engaging in that they should be abjuring?

        Yes. My advice, take a few days before putting out a blog post in response to something someone said you disagree with. Make sure your data is solid & not contested in a significant way, make sure you understand what the other guy is saying, and check to see if any more recent data exists that may run counter to the point you want to make.

        Also, are you sure you want to commit to the view that if a scientist displays some passion in arguing for what she sees as the conclusions the evidence supports, this should lead us (or you in any case) to start to question their objectivity?

        Yes! Listen, 99.9% of scientists are NOT brilliant. What they are is trained in a specific area, very detail oriented, & dedicated to exploring that area. However, to a layperson, they can sure seem brilliant, and we are just as susceptible to ego stroking as the next guy (especially academics, because of the environment they work in). If their ego runs away with them, and they start believing they are brilliant, rather than well trained and maybe a little clever, you get the old physicist, only a lot sooner.

        So should they argue passionately for what they support? Sure, once they follow my advice above about taking the time. If they hammer out angry letters for all the world to see because someone made a point that runs a bit counter to their narrative, yeah, I’m going to start wondering if they can remain objective in their own work, especially if their research starts to run counter to that narrative.

        Remember, Pielke wasn’t attacking temperature data, he was saying that the largest driver of increasing costs of storm damage so far is expensive things for storms to damage, not necessarily stronger storms. No one has any solid data to counter that, so this should not be a controversial point. But Pielke said it, and he annoys a lot of climate scientists, and it takes a bit of the wind out of the idea that stronger storms are an immediate concern (rather than not subsidizing coastal development, or not improving coastal building codes & techniques).Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist

        Do you have a sense of what kind of rhetoric it is scientists are engaging in that they should be abjuring?

        Yes. My advice, take a few days before putting out a blog post in response to something someone said you disagree with. Make sure your data is solid & not contested in a significant way, make sure you understand what the other guy is saying, and check to see if any more recent data exists that may run counter to the point you want to make.

        That’s advice about what to do, not an answer to what’s been said that shouldn’t. The question was, do you have a sense of what’s been said that’s causing you to say this advice isn’t being followed? Meaning, quotations?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Michael Drew says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist

        Excellent comment. True in all its parts.

        I would just add that it’s not limited to scientists, but is true for a lot of academics in the social science as well, and probably for many in the humanities (although they are more likely to be uncomfortably aware of their technical limitations).

        I think the arrogance tends to be “bred” into academics through a lifetime of being told how smart they are, and often truly being the smartest kid in the class, always praised by teachers, told they need to go to college, then told they need to go to grad school, then given the official stamp of smartypantsness, the Ph.D.

        Then they enter a world where half or more of the people they interact with think their theories are full of shit (string theory? are you effin’ nuts? Or rational choice! constructivism!). It’s easy for them to become bitter and angry. They are after all, just human.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Michael Drew says:

        James,
        Which regions are those?Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist @james-hanley

        Just to be clear, I’m not saying that I accord some unlimited or even very high presumption of objectivity to scientists or academics. I agree with the general admonition in your comment not to accord such a strong presumption. I try to assess scientists’ objectivity on the merits like I do others, though often I feel I’m not qualified to do so. (I may give them a bit more benefit of the doubt, but not massively). I was just asking whether you wanted to commit to the notion that your assessment of objectivity falls when you see someone (or just an academic/scientist?) argue with passion. I don’t share that heuristic, but as I said I understand why you’re inclined toward it, and I was mostly just wondering if you were really committed to it.

        I note that you (MRS) haven’t answered my original question about what it is that scientists in this dispute have been saying that you think they shouldn’t – whether because it’s intemperate or the timestamps suggest the pieces were dashed off in haste, or for whatever reason. If you’d ever want to, I’d be interested to know what you’d refer to on that.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Michael Drew says:

        @michael-drew

        Sorry, long weekend that was heavily focused on making sure my kid had a fun 2nd birthday. I mean, I love you guys & all, but the Bug comes first.

        You understand, right?

        Now, I don’t have a ton of time to be quote mining or doing a lot of deep reading because I just learned I have to prepare for an interview next week (new hire) & I’ll be taking another week-long business trip next month that I have to get ready for. Gotta stop hinting to my boss when I’m bored…

        First off, keep in mind that colorful rhetoric is rare in science, even in angry letters.

        “Pielke’s piece is deeply misleading, confirming some of my worst fears that Nate Silver’s new venture may become yet another outlet for misinformation when it comes to the issue of human-caused climate change,”

        This is a very bold statement for Mann to make, basically accusing both Pielke scientific malpractice while also tarring Nate Silver, especially seeing as how he offers up little in the way of solid data to refute it. And as @james-hanley has already shown, it appears that is because there is little data out there. Other scientists use similar language, hammering on Pielke, who offers data, without offering up counter data. At best, they criticized a normalization method he used, but offered nothing substantive in return.

        So instead of turning around and producing data showing how Pielke is wrong, they played Round Robin while taking potshots at him.

        This is the rule in science. Party A puts out theory, methodology, & supporting data/results. Party B attempts to either replicate said results, or takes it apart in detail to show that it is wrong. Running around & saying “Liar Liar Pants on Fire!” while talking to the media or general public is not how it works. And the fact that these learned men have chosen to result to such antics is troubling. It speaks to their state of mind, to just how invested they are in maintaining the narrative status quo. It also implies that they have nothing with which to refute it, so nasty rhetoric is what they can employ.

        Remember the 2009 Climategate brouhaha? While hardcore skeptics were giddy over silly crap, only a few people seemed to pick up on the deeper issue, that scientists in Camp A were not only willing to talk about actively suppressing the results of research that questioned their own, but that they had made calls & sent letters to journals in an effort to prevent publication or get that research retracted. While I certainly support the right of scientists to talk freely among themselves, the very idea that such calm, rational minds would even entertain such a subversion of the method & process disturbs me greatly, and gives me pause to believe that they have lost their ability to be objective.

        Climate scientists should not disparage the work of fellow researchers like Pielke. Instead they should welcome it as a further opportunity to improve the science, if only because they can take it apart & show just how wrong it is.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Michael Drew says:

        MRS,
        The data that Pielke used for that 538 piece seems like cherrypicking to me. I mean, why else use Earthquakes to prove your point? No one is saying that Earthquakes are caused by global warming.
        (Note: if his sponsors specifically asked about earthquakes, that’s potentially not His Fault).Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Ronan,
        your null/alternate hypothesis combination appears to need some work. It’s quite possible that we’re reducing cyclonic activity due to global warming, isn’t it?Report

  11. Avatar Stillwater says:

    James,

    I’ve been thinking about this essay and some of the related issues quite a bit this morning and you’ve persuaded me: I think, as you’ve shown, that there’s a fundamental misunderstanding about what Pielke’s arguing on this topic, and that his arguments are actually quite modest (and defensible!).Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Stillwater says:

      Thanks. That helps offset the deep misery I’m feeling because a true denier chimed in to support me, and another one linked to me. It’s frustrating that so few people can see that there are choices between being either anti-Pielke or being a denier.Report

  12. Avatar Road Scholar says:

    @james-hanley , having just re-read the piece in 538.com, I think I understand where much of the criticism is coming from. First, you read his essay from the perspective of a political scientist, which is to say, carefully, perhaps with some background knowledge of his prior work, and thus more accurately sussing out what he’s saying from what he isn’t. That’s all to your credit and I thank you for sharing your analysis.

    I’m also a little disappointed however. If you read his piece in isolation, without the background knowledge of his position wrt AGW, and without background knowledge of the larger scientific debate wrt tropical storms (hurricane wars), it’s very easy to conclude a “soft” denialist position on his part. He doesn’t ever come out and actually say that AGW is bogus or unimportant. But he doesn’t actually state the opposite either. And that’s the real problem here: Pielke presents a (carefully calibrated?) essay that isn’t explicitly denialist, but yet manages to leave that impression on at least some readers.

    Assuming it’s what he actually believes, he could have, and I would argue should have, stated quite clearly (as in bold faced italics) that he accepts AGW as a real thing. He doesn’t do that, but he does make a point of referencing “disaster porn” on his Facebook feed.

    Given all that, is it really that unreasonable to read a statement like, “the rising toll of disaster related damages is due to increased wealth concentration in vulnerable areas and not increased storm activity” as at least vaguely denialist, even if technically correct? How much of this sturm un drang is a self-inflicted wound that could have been avoided with more careful wording?Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Road Scholar says:

      Good comment Rod. That’s a pretty good summary of where I’ve come to on this whole kerfluffle as well. Especially the part about Pielke opening himself up to accusations of soft denialism. Careful reading and a principle of charity can clear that all up, but it’s probably why lots of people reflexively discount his views.Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Stillwater says:

        The problem with the whole “charitable reading” thing is that you can charitably read him either direction depending on your own personal biases. In truth, his thesis in that article is fairly banal. All he’s really saying is that the observed trendline of increasing storm-related losses is better explained by increasing wealth in affected areas rather than increasing frequency and severity of storms..

        So is he saying that storm frequency and intensity aren’t increasing, or is he saying that they are or at least may be but that it isn’t the driver of costs? You can “charitably” read the article either way depending on what charitable means to you from your frame.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Stillwater says:

        @road-scholar
        In truth, his thesis in that article is fairly banal.

        Yes. It’s just not that wild a claim. So my question stands–why are people going so batshit crazy over it?

        The answer is not “science.”Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Stillwater says:

        Over the weekend, Jonathan Bernstein’s question for both liberals and conservatives was, “What, if anything, should we do about climate change?”

        Typically, his Conservative question gets barely an answer. This weekend, it got over 200 basically suggesting the whole thing’s make believe — just an excuse to tax things more. And it highlights the ‘problem’ that Piekle created — conservatives conflating the disagreement over details within the science to debunking the whole of the science in an ‘you’re looking good today, but your socks don’t match’ sort of way. Freakin’ ruins your whole day.

        http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-05-11/sunday-question-for-conservativesReport

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Stillwater says:

        @zic
        the ‘problem’ that Piekle created

        Wow. You’re blaming Pielke for creating that problem? Zic, that’s beyond ridiculous.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Stillwater says:

        @james-hanley I’m blaming him for writing tone deaf.

        You want to be a writer? That’s part of the gig.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Stillwater says:

        Well, Ms. Writer, you made it sound as though Pielke was responsible for the problem of conservatives dismissing all evidence for AGW.

        But as I noted elswhere where, no matter that Pielke repeatedly affirms his belief in the evidence for AGW, he gets called a denialist over and over. Sometimes it’s not the writer, but people lying in wait for him to speak so they can attack him with the same lies yet again.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Stillwater says:

        @james-hanley really?

        I said, and quoting from the comment above, conservatives conflating the disagreement over details within the science to debunking the whole of the science and provided a link with over 200 examples of conservatives doing just this very thing.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Stillwater says:

        the ‘problem’ that Piekle created — conservatives conflating the disagreement over details within the science to debunking the whole of the science

        Yes, really. That sentence says that Pielke created the problem of conservatives “conflating the disagreement….to debunk the whole…” I don’t see how that can be read as anything but him being the creator of the problem, as opposed to conservatives being the creator of the problem, and Pielke just being someone whose research they misuse. I really think it’s terrible to pinpoint him as the cause, as though that subset of conservatives wouldn’t be doing the same thing with or without him.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Stillwater says:

        @james-hanley I got it.

        The problem he contributed to. . . the problem with the reception of his piece. . . lacking context to place his disagreement within the overall science so contributing to. . .

        That better?

        Thank you for the correction.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Stillwater says:

        I am unclear as to why Pielke has any blame in this. And if he does, then he shares the blame equally with the most zealous believers in AGW. As a matter of fact, lots of people do use the worst case global warming scenario as an excuse to push all sorts of progressive and environmentalist policies that don’t have all that much to do with global warming. Look at the fight over the Keystone Pipeline. You should blame those people equally; although personally I don’t think either deserve much blame. People believe what they want to believe. It’s a writer’s responsibility to present facts and maybe a thesis, not necessarily to sway public opinion one way or the other.

        Also, from an epistemological standpoint, the people who maintain that AGW is a sham are on the exact same ground as the people who claim that AGW is the gravest existential threat that humanity has ever faced… DUH DUH DUHHH! Neither has any direct access to the future and both are simply defaulting to prior beliefs about whom to believe.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Stillwater says:

        jr,
        You seriously think that the United States Military is reverting to “Prior Beliefs”??

        I’m sorry, but our military is better than that.Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Stillwater says:

        @james-hanley , let me try one more time here because I think we’re talking past each other.

        The issue is context. Prior to this whole kerfuffle at 538 I was completely unaware of Roger Pielke, Jr. I may or may not have read his name before anywhere, I’m pretty sure I’ve never read anything he’s written, and the first I heard of the “Pielke Wars” was right here from you. In all that I’m pretty sure I’m a lot more like the typical reader at 538 than you are. He went from being an academic with a little blog getting into back-and-forths with other academics at little blogs to being a contributor at a relatively major site, one known for a certain brand of data-driven veritas. Gobs (millions? What kind of page-views do they get?) of people were reading him for the first time ever, and therefore, unlike you, forming a first impression. And I’m telling ya, for me that first impression was “soft” denier, the kind of guy that’s smart enough to know global warming is a real thing but doesn’t think it’s really a big or urgent thing and at the end of the day can never really get behind doing much about it.

        Basically, it’s too hard, it’s too expensive, it’s too late, and it probably won’t be too bad. So the proper course of action is… pretty much the same as ever but more of it, because economic growth fixes everything.

        Now, is that a fair assessment of his position? From the additional information you’ve supplied here, no, probably not. But from this article in isolation? Yeah, I think so. It’s a question of tone, a tone he set with the reference to disaster porn. A tone that wasn’t off-set at all elsewhere in the piece.

        I’m NOT saying Pielke or anyone else necessarily has to go bold and italics in affirming acceptance of AGW to be read properly. But in a case like this, a debut in a major new forum, yeah, proper introductions are in order.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Road Scholar says:

      I just don’t buy it, Rod. What you’re saying is that any article that has any reference to global warming has to avow that it’s really really happening and really really important before it can point out that it doesn’t seem to be doing this particular thing X.

      That’s an awful lot like a litmus test, imo.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        I should clarify a bit. First, I think it’s just wrong to impute denialism because a person says global warming isn’t causing *this particular effect.* That’s just an empirical statement that stands by itself, and shouldn’t be read more broadly than what it says. It’s ideology, not science, that causes people to read it more broadly.

        One could argue that given the way the AGW debate is going, that making such disclaimers would be a good public communication strategy, to help people not get confused. And that sounds persuasive, and I’d normally agree, but in Pielke’s case his repeated assertions that he does believe in AGW have done nothing to deter his critics from calling him a denier. As best I can tell, they do so because he critiques the “it’s the end of the world” line of thought. The “AGW camp” (for lack of a better term) seems to have decreed that you must treat the issue in all public statements as imminent doom to all life or you are a denier–they demand the strongest stance or condemn you.

        Given the past reactions to Pielke, I think there’s nothing he could have said in that article to stop people from damning him as a denialist.

        The problem is, it’s hard to even point this out without also being called a denier. And then the people who say nothing at all is happening start linking to you, and pretty soon it’s all very evident to everyone–except yourself–that you’re clearly in the denialist camp.Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to James Hanley says:

        Somehow I put my response in the wrong place. Let me add here that I think we’re also talking about different reactions by different people for different reasons.

        Bottom line for a lot of folks is that this particular piece, read in isolation, seems to be pushing a soft denialist line and it’s coming wrapped in the imprimatur of 538’s data-driven objectivity.

        You’re expecting everyone else to evaluate this article the same way you do, either being aware of his other work or taking the time to google it up and doing all the research. I can’t decide if it’s admirable that you think that highly of the average reader or if you’re being a bit of an academic elitist.

        Your complaints about the people who by your lights should know better may very well be on point, but elides the fact that the article can be accurate yet still misleading and damaging. Here’s why. Greenhouse gasses cause atmospheric warming. Some of that heat is transferred to the oceans increasing sea surface temperatures. Increasing SSTs increase the energy available to drive storms resulting in more frequent and or stronger storms. More/worse storms increase disaster related insurance losses.

        That’s the theory. The thing is, the climate system has a great deal of inertia built into it. Enough that even if we quit emitting all carbon tomorrow we still have twenty or thirty years of warming/change in the pipeline. Furthermore, each step in that chain of causality from GHGs to insurance claims adds another layer of random variation noise to the signal. There aren’t a statistically large number of disaster events each year and that lowish number has high variability. Tough to tease a signal out of that much noise, particularly when the signal may not even exist yet.

        I’m left wondering precisely what Pielke believes he’s proven by not detecting a signal you likely wouldn’t expect to detect yet anyway. I suppose it has some value in dispelling popular gun-jumping conclusions (which could do with some dispelling), but if not stated very carefully can leave the impression of saying more than intended. Assuming of course that it was actually unintended. Which brings me back around to the tone of an article on global warming that starts out with a reference to disaster porn. Do you see?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to James Hanley says:

        Road,
        Pielke is being paid by underwriters/insurance companies [not a bad thing, unlike drug companies, they have a vested interest in getting the numbers right].Report

  13. Avatar Patrick says:

    I haven’t read enough of Pielke’s stuff to have a coherent thing to say about it specifically, but…

    … if you’re taking the tack of framing the question of “what is the economic cost of global warming” vs “what is the economic cost of massively reducing pollution” focusing on the economic cost of a disaster outcome (and whether or not that is increasing) is missing something kind of important.

    If we’re doing an actual cost-benefit analysis, what we’re looking at is:

    C1 (the cost of massively reducing greenhouse gas emissions) + C2 (current mitigation costs to reduce the cost of disasters)

    compared to

    C3 (the cost of the consequences of increased losses due to climate change) + C4 (the mitigation costs to reduce the cost of disasters plus increased cost of preventative steps taken to reduce the consequences of climate change)

    This is going to be very hard to suss out, because many locations very prone to hurricanes already don’t take mitigation efforts very seriously (this actually includes the U.S., which outside of our building code is quite frankly pretty terrible at preparing for large scale events when compared to the rest of the first world), instead focusing quite a bit on fixing the damage once it is done, while other areas (notably most of Europe and Japan) focus quite a bit more on preventing the damage in the first place, with attendant increases in capital costs and whatnot.

    It’s also arguably a terrible metric to use to talk about world policy unless you’re a first world country. The country of Palau has a population of 21,000 and a GDP of $164 million dollars. A cyclone could wipe Palau off the map entirely, killing everyone there, and the cost of that wouldn’t even register as a blip on the ledger when compared to Katrina’s $146 billion.

    “cost of a disaster” would need to be adjusted for impacted country’s overall wealth, I’d think. Maybe Pielke does this, I dunno.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Patrick says:

      I don’t think Pielke’s ever said AGW couldn’t produce an increase in hurricane frequency or strength. Rather, he’s saying that we can’t impute the last several decades’ increased storm costs as a consequence of AGW.

      As far as I know, Pielke would be happy to see reductions in use of fossil fuels, for both AGW and general pollution purposes. He’s an environmental policy guy, after all, and I’ve met damn few of those types that are gung ho about coal and oil.Report

  14. Avatar Francis says:

    There’s a fair bit of literature kicking around about Pielke in particular and the economic cost of AGW.

    Try here.

    and here

    and hereReport

    • Avatar Francis in reply to Francis says:

      and here

      and here

      and just for grins here’s a post on arctic sea ice decline:

      here

      The GDP of Bangladesh and Vietnam are very low. The ability of those states to mitigate for climate damage we are causing is zero. But because those state GDPs are very low, people like Pielke can, correctly, argue that climate change will have likely a minor impact over the next 30 years.

      (The fact that salt water intrusion into river deltas, changes in river flow patterns and increased number of very hot days will cause starvation and migration among very poor people around the world is elided when one focuses on GDP. Sure, in theory, the rich countries could compensate the poor. Under that same theory, rich Americans who benefit from free trade with China and India could compensate the Americans who lost their jobs. Effective compensation never quite shows up.)Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Francis says:

        As far as I can tell as an outsider to most of this debate, Pielke is arguing for two distinct claims. The first is that economic impact of storm activity isn’t a good metric by which to evaluate whether the AGW model is confirmed (or not) since total cost can be accounted for by other considerations than climate change. (I think this is a rather banal point once I understood it – if I’m thinking about it right, of course – given that storm frequency and cost of storm activity are conceptually distinct things.)

        The second is that there isn’t compelling evidence linking AGW to increases in sea temperature rises for the model to be confirmed according to that criterion. James cited the relevant sections from the IPCC for that claim to go thru irrespective of any other considerations.

        I don’t know about any of his other articles or what his general tone is when discussion AGW and climate science generally, but the arguments James is critiquing are pretty small potatoes given the scope of the issues being discussed.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Francis says:

      Francis,

      That’s not literature, that’s blogs. What ThinkProgress writes is pure politics and ideology. Maybe down the road I’ll put up a post showing how people misquote Pielke and misrepresent his data. The treatment he gets is pretty unprofessional a lot of times.

      And can I just say, ThinkProgress’s excitement over Pielke getting schooled by the president’s science adviser…well, for all I know John Holdren really knows his stuff. But ThinkProgress seems to take the fact that he’s the president’s science adviser! as evidence of the guy’s special qualifications. I’m not impressed by that kind of political naievete.Report

  15. Avatar Chris says:

    By the way, I thought Emanuel’s bear analogy was pretty good (in reference to some of the discussion about risk above):

    http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/mit-climate-scientist-responds-on-disaster-costs-and-climate-change/Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Chris says:

      @chris

      No, it’s a terrible analogy, because he’s falsely implying that Pielke’s suggesting that we take no extra precautions, which is hardly true. That kind of innuendo, nearly slander, is perfectly indicative of the way the debate is being conducted.

      Let me be very clear here. Emanuel’s bear analogy makes sense on its own terms, so it sounds very reasonable. But it attacks a strawman. So this scientist, who would have us believe he’s only making scientific arguments against Pielke’s position, is actually committing a logical fallacy in order to leave a false impression about the person he’s criticizing.

      I think that matters.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

        No, James, he’s implying that Pielke looked at the wrong data.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        That’s not what the bear analogy implies, Chris. It definitely implies that because Pielke is looking at (what Emanuel thinks) is the wrong data (and for the sake of argument, let’s assume for the moment that’s true), that therefore Pielke doesn’t think we need to take any action. The therefore is untrue, and doesn’t follow logically from the prior claim.

        Now back to the data issue. This is a scientific dispute, and as far as I can tell a legitimate one. Emanuel thinks Pielke’s got the wrong data. But you can’t just blindly accept Emanuel’s assertion as the correct one unless you’ve got a biased predisposition to do so. Pielke’s work is in a peer reviewed journal. Laurens Bower published similar findings in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, as did Fabian Barthel and Eric Neumayer in Climactic Change.

        So Emanuel’s claim actually runs up against a lot more than just Pielke’s assertions in a journalistic forum, and against just more than Pielke’s own research. And Emanuel is misleading in his reference to Barthel and Neumayer. He doesn’t misquote them, but because he uses them in making an argument that Pielke’s wrong about AGW effects not being evident in increasing storm costs, a reader would come away with the impression that Bartel and Neumayer support his position. But here’s what they actually say:

        The accumulation of wealth in disaster-prone areas is and will always remain by far the most important driver of future economic disaster damage…

        What the results tell us is that, based on very limited time-series data we have for most countries, there is no evidence so far for a statistically significant upward trend in normalized insured loss from extreme events outside the U.S. and West Germany. There could have been more frequent and/or more intensive weather-related natural disasters even in these other places, but our study could have simply been incapable of detecting them…

        By the same token, we warn against taking the findings for the US and Germany as conclusive evidence that climate change has already caused more frequent and/or more intensive natural disasters affecting this country…Our findings reported in this article could be down to natural climate variability that has nothing to do with anthropogenic climate change. Such natural climate variability may well explain our finding of a significant upward trend in insured losses from hurricanes in the US, for example.

        …As another potential contributing factor, there are some drivers of change on the insurance side that might have contributed to more expensive disasters and are hard to quantify. For instance, insured losses can also be influenced by changes in insurance coverage and claims handling procedures and the costs of these… There is also the moral hazard problem. It is well known that with the knowledge of being insured, individuals take less care to avoid and mitigate damage than in the absence of insurance. If such moral hazard problems became more prevalent over time (for which we have no evidence, but cannot exclude as a possibility, either), then this would lead to an increasing trend in normalized insurance damages over time, all other things being equal.

        Lastly, our findings could be driven by reporting bias if insured loss from early periods is systematically under-reported and thus under-represented in our analysis. However for the US and West Germany a significant reporting bias regarding the more substantial losses is much less likely than for other countries, given these are two of the biggest insurance markets in the world. In sum, therefore, before any firm conclusions can be drawn from our results, more research is needed to analyze which of these potential explanatory factors, of which anthropogenic climate change is but one possibility, or which combination of factors drive the observed upwards trend in normalized insurance disaster damage in the US and West Germany/

        That’s not actually supportive of Emanuel’s position. Also, they use the same normalizing procedure that Pielke uses, that Emanuel critiques. So Emanuel’s use of their article to support his critique of Pielke is very deceptive.

        I’ll also note that Emanuel is a meteorologist. Pielke’s a policy analyst. Barthel’s graduate degree is in human geography, with a background in business administration, and he’s worked for Deutsche Bank, Hamburg Institute of International Economics, the German Development Bank, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Are you really going to take the word of a meteorologist over theirs on what’s the best data for an economic analysis?

        I have no critique of Emanuel as a meteorologist. Lord knows I don’t have the qualifications to critique him on his speciality, and I take his numerous peer-reviewed pubs as prima facie evidence that he’s good at his field of study. But that doesn’t make him qualified to say what data is better for evaluating storm-damage costs. And it doesn’t excuse him for being deceptive in at least two ways in his critique of Pielke.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

        James, in his own work, and in his response at 538, Emanuel notes the importance of the accumulation of wealth in determining the cost of natural disasters. The bear analogy is meant to show that if we want to know what we should do, and whether the effect will in fact increase, we shouldn’t look at the really small number of current bear-human interactions, but the number of bears in the woods, and given what we know about the incidence of bear-human interactions relative to bears in the woods, extrapolate from there. Which is what he has done (in peer reviewed work). If Pielke Jr.’s point was simply that, to date, there’s not enough data to measure the cost of an increase in natural disasters, I suspect the response (from non-denialists) would have been something like, “Well, duh.”Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        If Pielke Jr.’s point was simply that, to date, there’s not enough data to measure the cost of an increase in natural disasters, I suspect the response (from non-denialists) would have been something like, “Well, duh.”

        Obviously you haven’t been following the Pielke Wars. Anyway, his point was that to date the evidence shows that increasing wealth–which has produced more, and more valuable, coastal development–is the main cause of increased monetary damages from storms.

        I suspect you’re assuming he must be saying something more, because otherwise the critiques don’t make sense. But, yeah, the critiques don’t make sense. Again, note Emanuel’s use of Bartel and Neuman. He gloms onto their work although it supports the point Pielke makes, and uses the methods that Emanuel critiqued when Pielke used them. Read the Bartel & Neuman article. Emanuel’s being very disingenuous.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

        Pielke’s point, which I’m pretty sure Emanuel recognizes, is that natural disasters are costing more, but not because of climate change. That’s the title of the article, even. Emanuel’s pointing out that the second claim, the one beginning with “but not,” is made without sufficient data.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        By the way, here’s the real takeaway from Pielke’s 538 piece.
        That’s just the property bill. There’s a human toll, too, and the data show an inverse relationship between lives lost and property damage: Modern disasters bring the greatest loss of life in places with the lowest property damage, and the most property damage where there’s the lowest loss of life. …
        a nation with a $2,000 per capita average GDP — about that of Honduras – should expect more than five times the number of disaster deaths as a country like Russia, with a $14,000 per capita average GDP.2 …

        In the 20th century, the human toll of disasters decreased dramatically, with a 92 percent reduction in deaths from the 1930s to the 2000s worldwide. Yet when the Boxing Day Tsunami struck Southeast Asia in 2004, more than 225,000 people died.

        So the frequency of disasters still matters, and especially in countries that are ill-prepared for them. After 41 people died in two volcanic eruptions in Indonesia last month, a government official explained the high stakes: “We have 100 million people living in places that are prone to disasters, including volcanoes, earthquakes and floods. It’s a big challenge for the local and central governments.”

        When you next hear someone tell you that worthy and useful efforts to mitigate climate change will lead to fewer natural disasters, remember these numbers and instead focus on what we can control. [emphasis added–JH] There is some good news to be found in the ever-mounting toll of disaster losses. As countries become richer, they are better able to deal with disasters — meaning more people are protected and fewer lose their lives. Increased property losses, it turns out, are a price worth paying

        This has to be understood in the context of the question about how we should respond to AGW. Pielke has a debate with John de Graaf who argues that we need to limit economic growth. Pielke’s pointing out that responding to AGW by limiting growth will extract a larger human toll from hurricanes than will AGW enhanced hurricane damage if we ensure these poorer countries grow economically. To the extent Emanuel is harping on methodological disagreement (and inconsistently so, since he favorably cites Bartel & Neuman), he misses this important point and–presumably inadvertently–distracts attention from it. But Emanuel’s not a policy analyst, so the things Pielke is talking about are not in his wheelhouse.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        Pielke’s point, which I’m pretty sure Emanuel recognizes, is that natural disasters are costing more, but not because of climate change. That’s the title of the article, even. Emanuel’s pointing out that the second claim, the one beginning with “but not,” is made without sufficient data.

        And I repeat, there are multiple peer-reviewed studies, and not just by Pielke, that don’t support Emanuel’s claim, and Emanuel the meteorologist is less of an expert in economic assessment than Pielke or Bartel.

        Emanuel could be right, but are you just accepting his out-of-specialty blogged assertion of that as sufficient evidence, to completely discount peer-reviewed pubs by people with greater methodological specialty? As an academic yourself, is that really what you’re doing? Or am I misreading you?Report

  16. Avatar Kim says:

    I just thought Pielke’s use of Earthquakes as one of his data points was probably kinda stupid. Of course Earthquakes aren’t exacerbated by global warming (no one’s claiming they are). And Of Course if you add them in, you get a weaker response to Global Warming.

    Pielke could have made far stronger points like: “Disaster storms are too infrequent for us to tell whether they’re trending up”.Report

  17. Avatar Kim says:

    comment in mod.Report

  18. Avatar Kim says:

    James,
    Finally found time to grab a better link:
    http://www.pnas.org/content/107/21/9552.short
    Yipe, that’s Considerably worse than I thought. If we’re really looking at 11 degrees Celsius warming…Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Kim says:

      Wow, it’s a red letter day. I think this is the first time in OT history that you’ve actually dredged up a citation that actually supports your position. And all it took was years of repeated heckling.

      Now, assuming the worst case scenario and assuming humans actually have to spend all their time outdoors, instead of having this thing called “air conditioning,” yes, some regions could be totally uninhabitable.

      If that’s the kind of thing that keeps you awake at night, you’re living life the wrong way.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to James Hanley says:

        At 7 degrees Celsius warming (far from the worst case, but not a “in the next 20 years” probable scenario), we’re at “isolated pockets” — which is enough to render areas uninhabitable.

        And, yes, most Amazonian tribes don’t have air conditioning. I should have thought that went without saying.Report

      • As an aside, and this is probably a stupid aside but you never learn unless you speak up… aren’t there more places currently uninhabited due to excess cold than excess heat? Is there any potential help to be found there? Invade Russia? (Our acquisition of Alaska could prove helpful in hindsight, in worst-worst-worst case scenarios.)

        (I’m coming off some serious illness and dehydation, and lucidity is intermittent. So, again, I’m probably being stupid here.)Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to James Hanley says:

        You are channeling Dale Gribble.

        (That clip doesn’t have Hank’s response, which is something like “We live in Texas, and it’s 100 in the the shade, and if it gets one degree hotter I’m gonna kick your ass.”)Report

  19. James,
    This comment of yours is fascinating to me:

    James Hanley May 11, 2014 at 2:09 pm
    Thanks. That helps offset the deep misery I’m feeling because a true denier chimed in to support me, and another one linked to me. It’s frustrating that so few people can see that there are choices between being either anti-Pielke or being a denier

    As a scientist, I’ve always prefered to assess the validity of different arguments on how they compare to the data. But, from your comment it seems that a very important factor to you is who has made the argument, and who agrees with it.
    If a “true denier” agrees with you, does that mean your argument loses some of its validity? Why should it?
    I have to admit this seems bizarre to me. Perhaps this is just because I’m coming at this topic from a scientist’s perspective? Could that be it?

    In science, we are generally more interested in the argument itself & how it matches with the data, rather than who agrees with the argument.
    Is it different in politics? Or is it just with a politically charged topic, like climate change? Because, I notice from the About page of this blog, it says:

    Among other things, we pride ourselves on:
    The civility, inclusiveness, and intelligence of our commenting culture.
    The diversity of perspectives our contributors offer our readers.
    The eclectic mix of topics discussed on these pages.
    Liberals, libertarians, and conservatives may not come to agree with one another here, but we hope that if nothing else, they will at least come to understand one another. An assumption built in to much of our debate is that exploring disagreements is often a productive way for everyone to learn more, and a normal and healthy part of social discourse.

    Yet here, it seems that you are somehow ashamed and/or upset that people you disagree with on some things might agree with you on other points. Is that right? If so, why? Is it just because it’s climate science, or is it a more general concern?

    Apologies to all if this is all basic stuff for this forum. My interest in climate science comes from trying to understand the climate by carrying out experiments, studying the data and reviewing the scientific literature.

    So, I’m fairly new to the politics side of this subject and still don’t really understand the etiquette behind who you can and can’t agree with. If anyone can help out, I’d appreciate it!Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Ronan Connolly says:

      I looked at your blog. Your work doesn’t inspire confidence in me to trust you over people whose main job isn’t finding better methods of fish farming. I hope you’re successful with that, though. I think it’s important.Report

      • Ha! Well, we’re not looking for people to “trust” us on our research!
        We’ve carried out our research, presented our analysis, provided all our data/code, and showed how our findings relate to the rest of the scientific literature. As scientists, that’s about all we can do, don’t you think?

        But, that still doesn’t answer my questions. How is your argument weakened if somebody you disagree with on other things agrees with you on that? If anything, shouldn’t that make it more compelling?

        By the way, did you read our post on the different views on AGW among the scientific community. You were worried that people seem to be only allowed to be “anti-Pielke” or a “denier”. I totally agree with you on that. Sorry about agreeing with you again – I didn’t realise until now that agreeing with people could cause them offence, until now!!! 😉

        Anyway, we think it’s important for people to realise that there is a wide spectrum of views in the climate science community, rather than the simplistic “black/white” “anti-Pielke/denier” notions that you often here. Do you agree? [By the way, I don’t mind who agrees with me, so I won’t be upset if you do! 😉 ]

        P.S. Thanks for the support for our research into developing sustainable methods of fish farming. It is something we feel is important too.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to James Hanley says:

        My argument is not weakened by your agreement. But when I write about Pielke, “pro” AGW rush to criticize. E and “anti” AGW people praise me, and the casual reader ends up viewing me as a denialist. It’s wearisome.

        But as an enviro policy teacher, with some familiarity (although not true expertise) with fisheries issues, I am warmly with you on fish farming. Could you tell me how you deal with the nutrient stream? That seams to me the primary environmental issue of fish farming, and here in the states it’s a very big issue with concentrated animal feeding operations, most notably hogs and cattle.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to James Hanley says:

        Fish farming is important, because if we got beef the way we get most fish, then it would be done by cowboys riding around the plains trying to lasso wild buffalo.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to James Hanley says:

        @jim-heffman
        Many years ago I worked in a cafeteria in Yellowstone National Park, and we served trout that were ranch raised in Idaho. People always looked at me disbelievingly, so I’d start spinning a yarn about the cowboys riding out to herd the trout. After that they lost all confidence in the idea of a trout ranch.Report

      • @J@m3z Aitch @James Hanley

        My argument is not weakened by your agreement. But when I write about Pielke, “pro” AGW rush to criticize. E and “anti” AGW people praise me, and the casual reader ends up viewing me as a denialist. It’s wearisome.

        If you find that casual readers view you as somehow irrational based on whether or not you agree with Pielke, then this is a shame, and I can appreciate your frustration.

        I can relate to your frustration:

        For my assessment of the debate over hurricane trends that I linked earlier, I spent a long time carefully researching all the related literature I could find, and checking the data for myself. When I was writing my essay (late 2013), I put a lot of effort into explaining the basis for the arguments of both camps (Mann, Trenberth, Emmanuel, Holland et al. versus Pielke, Landsea, Chan, Knutson et al.). I tried to stress where the disagreements between these camps exist, how the debate has evolved over time, and how the data fits into the debate. I also tried to outline my own views on the subject and explain the basis for my conclusions.

        Yet when I posted a link to that essay here, and mentioned that I agreed with your assessment, you decide that I am a “true denier”, and imply that I am someone who came to their conclusions irrationally and/or by being selective in what I look at!

        Why? In Pielke’s 538 article, he outlined the basis for the views of those in his camp, and was dismissive of the views of the other camp. On the other hand, the critics of Pielke’s article were completely dismissive of the views from his camp, and claimed that their camp represented the “scientific consensus”. In my essay, I explicitly described the views of both camps, discussed the pros/cons of the arguments of them both, and also discussed what the data does and doesn’t tell us.

        In fact, if you have another look at the essays on our website, or read any of the papers we have submitted for open peer review, we take great care to highlight wherever our analysis and/or conclusions differ from others, and to point out wherever there is ongoing debate/discussion. I guess that’s something similar to what @Mad Rocket Scientist was recommending in his/her May 11 4.11pm comment?

        Our chief interest in climate science is in understanding what is actually going on, so we actively seek out all scientific views on whichever topic we are researching, and carefully check and evaluate the data, before we draw our own conclusions. We take Konrad Lorenz’s semi-joking advice to heart when he recommended that:

        “It is a good morning exercise for a research scientist to discard a pet hypothesis every day before breakfast: it keeps him young”

        How is this the approach of a “true denier”?

        P.S. Is J@m3z Aitch a separate handle for James Hanley, or are you two separate commenters?Report

      • @J@m3z Aitch @James Hanley

        Could you tell me how you deal with the nutrient stream? That seams to me the primary environmental issue of fish farming, and here in the states it’s a very big issue with concentrated animal feeding operations, most notably hogs and cattle.

        You’re right. Dealing with the nutrient stream is the main problem with the current approaches, and much of our R&D is devoted to dealing with this problem.

        For the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with the nutrient stream problem, a quick summary is as follows:
        If you are feeding fish, only about 20% of the food gets converted into body mass, and the rest goes into waste. In a closed water system, the remaining 80% then gets broken down by bacteria and other microorganisms releasing nutrients into the water. This process consumes a lot of oxygen, if available (“aerobic digestion”), and if there isn’t enough oxygen creates harmful (and usually smelly!) sideproducts (“anaerobic digestion”). These nutrients then lead to increases in algae production, which at night also consume even more oxygen (“eutrophication”). As a result, the oxygen levels rapidly fall overnight. If the oxygen levels fall too much, this can cause your fish to suffocate, and die overnight. Even if the fish survive the night, they can become very stressed (often “mouthing” at the surface for extra oxygen). Stressed fish are more likely to pick up infections/diseases, and this often leads to an outbreak, and many/all of the fish die over the next few days/weeks.

        [By the way, this is the same reason you have to be very careful not to overfeed pet fish – if you give a gold fish too much food for its tank/bowl, the ensuing reduction in oxygen will either kill the fish overnight, or put it under a lot of stress leading to disease]

        At the moment, there are two main approaches to fishfarming – “extensive” and “intensive”.

        In the extensive approach, you keep your stocking densities and feed rates very low, so that your lakes (or whatever) are able to naturally cope with the extra nutrients. Unfortunately, the growth rates with this approach are very low, and the size of the lakes/tanks you need are very large. So, the extensive approach isn’t very economical and isn’t suitable for producing large quantities of fish. [In Europe & North America, it is often used for stocking rivers and lakes for anglers, who then pay the farm for the use of the facilities. It is this which makes the farm viable, rather than the actual fish production.]

        In the intensive approach, fish are housed in cages which are then immersed in rivers [freshwater farms], or else out in the sea [marine farms]. That way, you can feed the fish as much as you like, and the fish won’t be affected by eutrophication because the waste is either (a) washed downstream or (b) diluted by the surrounding sea.

        However, while the fish are fine, the waste doesn’t disappear! For the freshwater, the water downstream from the farm becomes heavily polluted, while for the marine farms, the surrounding sea becomes polluted. For this reason, the “discharge rates” of intensive fish farms are usually heavily regulated, and the production capacity of these farms is severely restricted by how much waste they are allowed to discharge. It is also obviously very bad for the environment – some would argue it can actually lead to more ecological devastation than the overfishing it supposed to replace/supplement!

        We came up with a third approach (for which we obtained patents, although we let the patents expire a few years ago – partly because we have improved our technology further & partly because we want fishfarms to start using this approach).

        Rather than treating the extra algae growth as a “problem”, we realised that algae is “food” for zooplankton & other algae-eating organisms and that these can then act as additional “food” sources for the fish.

        In our system:
        You feed the fish => waste feeds bacteria/microorganisms => causes algae growth => feeds zooplankton/algae eating organisms => which then feed the fish!

        Basically, with our technology, you completely recycle the water. This gives us the high production levels of an intensive farm, with the low environmental impact of an extensive farm. Obviously, I’m simplifying things dramatically to fit this into a blog comment (!), but does that make sense & answer your question?

        P.S. Because our technology involves recycling of all the water, you don’t need to put your fish farm near rivers, lakes or oceans! Once you’ve set up the system with an initial source of water, you just keep recycling it.

        @Jim Heffman

        Fish farming is important, because if we got beef the way we get most fish, then it would be done by cowboys riding around the plains trying to lasso wild buffalo.

        You’ve reminded me of this funny ad! But, in seriousness, you do actually make a valid point.

        Fish/seafood is about the only major protein source that humans still collect mostly through “hunting” (i.e., fishing!), and it is a critically important food source. But, the world’s population is still increasing. So, if we want to reduce (or at least stop accelerating!) the devastation that overfishing is causing to the ocean ecosystems, we have to dramatically increase the amount of farmed fish.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        @ronan-connolly

        Thanks, that makes sense. May I ask a few more questions?

        1. Is this very energy intensive, or is it pretty low energy use?
        2. Have you made it cost-effective yet, or is it more in the proof-of-concept stage?
        3. Can this be done inside? (I live in an area with a lot of old and empty industrial buildings, so I’m always curious about ways they coukd be repurposed.)Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to Ronan Connolly says:

      “As a scientist, I’ve always prefered to assess the validity of different arguments on how they compare to the data. But, from your comment it seems that a very important factor to you is who has made the argument, and who agrees with it.”

      This is the sort of argument which ignores a massive amount of other data, analyses and predictions (fore- and hindcasts), done in a wide variety of fields by a wide variety of people and groups with a wide variety of methods.Report

      • Avatar Ronan Connolly in reply to Barry says:

        I didn’t say you should just look at the data, and ignore the work done by other researchers!

        As I mentioned above, I always try to actively seek out all scientific views on whichever topic I am researching. Then I carefully check and evaluate the data for myself. Then, I go back to the literature again, and see how my analysis compares with others. If my analysis seems to disagree with what others are saying, then I try to figure out the reasons why.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Barry says:

        Ronan,
        that’s why I’m curious about why you aren’t talking about global warming increasing the frequency of El NinosReport

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Ronan Connolly says:

      @ronan-connolly

      But, from your comment it seems that a very important factor to you is who has made the argument, and who agrees with it.

      I could care less who agrees with me. And around these parts, that’s a good thing (because I am not always agreed with). But I do care, somewhat, who makes an argument. In short, if a person has done something that makes me question their objectivity, I am going to give them less credibility when it comes to trusting their data & methodology.

      I think with the climate debate, their is too much “trust” in the data. Or perhaps there is not enough “trust” in those critical of the data.

      I am reminded of the recent dustup of research into heart disease & saturated sat (here & here).Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        MRS,
        I trust the guy who put together the ExxonSecrets dataset. This is not to say that there’s not substantial variation in what people are predicting.

        But the mass American evacuations are starting this year (Just Starting, Mind!). That’s data on the ground about exactly how bad this is going to be, and when it is going to hit your pocketbook [I, for one, am hoping to pocket some of the misery].Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/Climategate-CRU-emails-hacked.htm
        I’m not seeing anything other than a thorough investigation.
        I’ve seen more “foul play” involved in astronomy, and that was about finding a publisher (or possibly peer reviewer) willing to not force the scientist to extrapolate beyond the data (X thought this supported his conclusions, Y favored the steady state universe, Y was much more in favor of “just the facts”).Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        “I think with the climate debate, their is too much “trust” in the data. Or perhaps there is not enough “trust” in those critical of the data.”

        Huh?Report

      • @mad-rocket-scientist

        I think with the climate debate, their is too much “trust” in the data. Or perhaps there is not enough “trust” in those critical of the data.

        I think we are probably in agreement on this point! When I speak of looking at “the data”, I mean comparing theoretical predictions to the actual data, and/or trying to come up with alternative/better ways to explaining the data.

        Often, there are problems/biases/limitations to the available raw data, and part of the process of “explaining” the data involves accounting for those biases/problems/limitations. I would consider this to be part of “looking at the data”. Does that make sense?

        For instance, Pielke’s argument that the raw “landfall damage” hurricane data needs to be adjusted to take into account the changes in coastal populations & wealth seems reasonable to me, but this is a somewhat subjective task, and so the exact adjustments necessary should be studied carefully.

        As another example, we have looked in some detail at the “urbanization bias” problem with the current global temperature trend estimates. We have found that the various groups who have claimed that the problem has already been taken care of, made mistakes in their analysis. It seems that urbanization bias has introduced a substantial warming bias into the various “global warming” estimates, particularly since the 1950s. This has led to an underestimation of the 1950s-1970s “global cooling” and an overestimation of the 1980s-2000s “global warming”. This in turn has implications for the various “climate sensitivity” estimates.

        See here for one of our urbanization bias papers: http://oprj.net/articles/climate-science/28Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        @barry

        In science, there are two major credibility problems. The first is too much, in that a given theory or researcher is trusted so much that results are rarely questioned, and those that do question are discouraged from doing so. Thus the flip side where critical assessment &/or skepticism is disregarded*.

        We should encourage critical assessment & skepticism of all topics, because it is how the mistakes are found & cleared up. We should also discourage over-trusting**, since it can lead to blind spots that hides the flaw in the science & degrades its predictive value.

        *There is a huge difference between informed skepticism & disagreement between peers & the howlings of monkeys. Too many monkeys these days (one any side of an issue) think their howlings are somehow important to the debate. Which is why I was critical above of those taking cheap shots at Pielke, they are just playing for the monkeys behind their dugout.

        **To clarify, there is a point at which a given scientific theory has matured to the point that over-trust is no longer an issue. Sometimes we call these “Laws of Science” (motion, thermodynamics, etc.), or well established theories (evolution, gravity, etc.). Once this mature, claims that run counter to them fit the definition of an Extraordinary Claim, and thus must provide extraordinary evidence if they are to be taken seriously.

        In climate science, for example, the idea that rising CO2, methane, & water vapor will cause the atmosphere to retain heat is a mature idea (Chemistry & Thermodynamics), and those who claim otherwise without extraordinary evidence are not to be taken seriously. However, the climate sensitivity & feedback mechanisms of the Earth are still imperfectly understood, so pushback in this area should not only be expected, but welcomed.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        @ronan-connolly

        If I get time, I will look. Thank you.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        MRS,
        From what I understand, the exact mechanisms of evolution are still at the “debatable” state.

        But you’re right. When our models are routinely off (Michael Cain above states where we’re high), we ought to have them at the “any one of them could be truthful.”

        I’m extremely concerned that our models are too conservative, and that we may be undershooting on our predictions, based on the model-to-“near-term extrapolation” discrepancies we’re finding, and based on expert testimony that I’ve received in personal interviews.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        @kim

        The exact mechanism of gravity is still a heavily debated topic. Doesn’t mean gravity is any less functional.

        As for models, I disagree, I think they are being too pessimistic with their multipliers. I’m working on a large post for OU, to demonstrate why, but with my workload right now, it won’t be done until summer.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        MRS,
        as of eleven years ago, we still haven’t measured gravity at lengths smaller than can be seen by the human eye. There’s no reason for it to work differently at smaller lengths — but we really haven’t looked.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to Ronan Connolly says:

      “So, I’m fairly new to the politics side of this subject and still don’t really understand the etiquette behind who you can and can’t agree with. If anyone can help out, I’d appreciate it!”

      Lies the man running and AGW denialist website.Report

  20. Avatar Barry says:

    Jim, actually not. The equivalent might be closer to huge anti-gravity craft cruising in the sky, sending down force fields to sweep the surface bare of all life which is profitably processable.Report

  21. Avatar Barry says:

    Will Truman

    “As an aside, and this is probably a stupid aside but you never learn unless you speak up… aren’t there more places currently uninhabited due to excess cold than excess heat? Is there any potential help to be found there? Invade Russia? (Our acquisition of Alaska could prove helpful in hindsight, in worst-worst-worst case scenarios.)”

    There are several things:

    1) There is probably trillions of dollars of infrastructure in specific places, built for things which depend on a stable climate. Changes in climate will hurt much infrastructure, and hurt the activities which the infrastructure supports. Think of it as highly accelerated depreciation. Now, much of this is likely replaced over 75-100 years in normal usage, but if the same loss occurs due to climate change in 50 years, we’re taking a massive economic hit.

    2) This will alter the climate upon which agriculture depends far faster than human civilization is used to, and in many cases it will add variability. From what I’ve gathered, as the region gets smaller, our ability to predict what will happen gets worse. For farmers, this will probably have an overall negative effect. Warmer and wetter is quite different from warmer and dryer, and warmer with higher variability in rainfall from year to year is quite hard to cope with. And for the majority of the human population which is farming to survive, they don’t have the margin to cope with this.

    2) Global warming will cause massive population shifts. Right now, and for the forseeable future, this will cause massive to vast political turmoil (you know, with guns and such). It’s likely that a whole lot of people will die because they can’t migrate.

    3) This is ‘to the best of my knowledge’, but the northern lands opened up to agriculture are generally as not as good as what we’re using now.

    4) Some things are simply bad, full stop. Increased storm activity and greater yearly variation in weather will have bad effects.

    To sum it up, current human civilization was built on a very stable climate. In fact, there are some scholars who notice the moderation in climatic change coinciding with the development of agricultural civilization and draw a causal link.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Barry says:

      Barry,
      1) An understanding of the Global North versus the Global South, and what that has to do with technology might lead you to a more refined understanding here. If, as I posted above, we do see depopulation of entire biomes, we may actually see less depreciation.
      2)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agriculture Make that 1/3rd of the working population in agriculture. Give us 30 years, and we’ll have lab-made meat (without the vodka!). That’ll relieve a lot of pressures.
      3) Depends on the crop. Ones that like a lot of sun are generally happier in the north, with its longer days. Ones that need a lot of heat are generally happier in the south.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to Kim says:

        “Depends on the crop. Ones that like a lot of sun are generally happier in the north, with its longer days. Ones that need a lot of heat are generally happier in the south.”

        *And* the amount *and* the variability in rainfall *and* the nature of the soil.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to Kim says:

        “If, as I posted above, we do see depopulation of entire biomes, we may actually see less depreciation.”

        I’m trying to think about how that could be true, and failing.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Kim says:

        Barry,
        put simply, it’s a lot harder to maintain machinery outside the critical temperature/humidity band. (That’s roughly roughly 70 degrees and below 50% humidity). In the North, that’s keeping engines running through the winter because if you turn them off you can’t start them again. In the Tropics, it’s a lot of rust/weathering from humidity (plus the need for excessive cooling).

        Move people out of these zones (or kill ’em), and you need to do less maintenance. And we can roughly “know” that cold regions are going to be rarer in the future (Even if GB does wind up becoming more like Germany).Report

  22. Avatar Barry says:

    Kim: “Move people out of these zones (or kill ‘em), and you need to do less maintenance. And we can roughly “know” that cold regions are going to be rarer in the future (Even if GB does wind up becoming more like Germany).”

    (1) I’d prefer not to solve maintenance problems through extermination. I do understand that others may feel differently.

    (2) I specifically mentioned the likely nature of the ‘movement’ of people out of hard-hit areas.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Barry says:

      I don’t like genocide either, but it is the cheap route. And it’s on the books, planned out now. If we want to fix it, we need to do better electorally (no, this isn’t stateside).Report

  23. Avatar dljvjbsl says:

    There is one very important point that I think is missing from this discussion.

    The importance of the “consensus” in climate science cannot be overstated. It is the reason that climate science can be considered to be “settled science” and that deviation from the consensus is a form of denialism.

    So the claim that the scientific issue of extreme weather events is being debated by two opposing camps goes against the ideas of consensus and settled science. The claim itself is a form of denialism. Climate science is settled and so there can be no deviation from established facts. That was Pielke’s and 538’s errorReport

    • Avatar Wardsmith in reply to dljvjbsl says:

      @dljvjbsl Then you should enjoy reading this analysis of the “consensus” methodology.

      @ronan-connolly Thank you for coming here. I wish I would have seen your posts here years ago when arguing with many of the “Usual Suspects” on this site. I do believe I linked to your site in those debates however. I can’t search for them at the moment because I’m on an iPad and typing is painful enough on this.

      The fact is that my disdain for AGW as presented and politicized lines up squarely with @mad-rocket-scientist and for similar reasons. I too am a scientist, I work with well respected scientists from multiple disciplines and would be appalled if they acted the way I have observed the AGW “team” has acted. That isn’t science, that is enviro and political meddling on a global scale. But the crowd around this site (or more correctly the most active bloggers) skew heavily to the liberal and consider “denialism” as a mark of the dreaded “conservative”, something to be shunned and Alinsky’d to death. Techniques you will recognize used continually by the AGW team, so they have natural allies in the liberal camp.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to Wardsmith says:

        People should go to Realclimate.org

        Watt is notoriousReport

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Wardsmith says:

        Wardsmith,
        Do me a favor and burn your DVDs in a fire.
        Then go ahead and boycott Walmart.
        And Boeing, while you’re fucking at it.

        You are basically calling people I care a lot about, liars and worse.

        But fuck you. You didn’t do a damn thing while people died.
        The next time people die, you’re not going to do a damn thing either.
        I’ll throw my lot in with the folks who are busy trying to figure out how to fix this bleedin’ world.

        It’s okay for you, of course, if we lose most of our habitable land. You and your ilk will be just fucking fine. Don’t think I haven’t noticed the rich hedging with landgrabs in Cleveland. [um, that’s legally bought land, just to be clear. they’re just buying a damn lot of it.]
        You’re rich, relatively speaking.Report

      • Avatar Wardsmith in reply to Wardsmith says:

        @barry So you saw the website URL and refused to read a single word no? Because that might disturb your carefully constructed cognitive dissonance shield. I mean if you actually READ the thing you’d have seen this nugget: This work shows that carbon dioxide, which is a main contributor to the global warming effect, could be utilized as a selective oxidant in the oxidative dehydrogenation of ethylbenzene over alumina-supported vanadium oxide catalysts. The modification of the catalytically active vanadium oxide component with appropriate amounts of antimony oxide led to more stable catalytic performance along with a higher styrene yield (76%) at high styrene selectivity (>95%). The improved catalytic behavior was attributable to the enhanced redox properties of the active V-sites.

        That paper (you should read it too while you’re at it) goes into great depth on the topic at hand Which has Nothing to do with climate change! What the 97% consensus /should/ have been called was “in the opinion of rabid climate change believers making subjective /interpretations/ of thousands of abstracts the words climate change are mentioned 97% of the time usually to get the papers published”. So John Oliver is wrong, his “facts” are wrong but he does have a bigger soapbox to lead lemmings astray.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to Wardsmith says:

        @wardsmith

        Some of us really appreciate and value your comments.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Wardsmith says:

        Wardsmith is our resident denialist. He will tell you that you are biased, then parrot what he’s heard from other denialists. It’s like those people who call themselves non-conformists, while wearing the same thing all the other “non-conformists” wear.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to Wardsmith says:

        @kim

        But fuck you.

        You must like soap in your mouth. We have a commenting policy. You don’t get to speak to people that way. Don’t do it again.

        Step away from the internet and find something productive to do. Geez.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Wardsmith says:

        Dave,
        only if it’s peppermint flavored (Dr. Bronner’s makes okay toothpaste).
        I was out of line, and I’d like to apologize, to you if not to wardsmith.
        Were there an edit button, I might have edited it myself, twas indeed intemperate.Report

      • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Wardsmith says:

        @dave

        doesn’t this feel like deja vu all over again?
        @mad-rocket-scientist I can’t wait to read your OP on climate models. Maybe George Turner could give you a hand. He doesn’t seem to hang out here much anymore, perhaps he got sick of the Alinsky methods against his person and the direct attacks, but I could be wrong. He still posts on Judith Curry’s site among others that I’ve seen.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Wardsmith says:

        Link HTML fixed. Ward, don’t say I never did anything for you.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Wardsmith says:

        @wardsmith

        It won’t be on climate modeling per se, but rather on the complexity of modeling dynamic physical systems. I do general purpose fluid modeling , so everything from aerospace to zoo HVAC systems. I understand how climate models are put together, and where their uncertainty lies, but doing a post on them specifically is far enough outside my wheelhouse that I would not be comfortable writing a whole post without a lot of prior research I just don’t have time for.Report

  24. Avatar Barry says:

    veronica dire May 12, 2014 at 2:12 pm
    “Oh, plus (in addition to modality), this requires a formal model of causality. So, I suggest this book as a starting place:
    http://www.amazon.com/Causality-Reasoning-Inference-Judea-Pearl/dp/052189560X/

    Note that this is a *really* hard book. He’s got a couple of summary papers to start (meaning only 10 pages of probability).Report

  25. Avatar Barry says:

    James Hanley: “Climate change made Michigan habitable–it used to be under a mile thick sheet of ice, which makes the Wall of Westeros look like a mere bump in the ground.
    Kim, we all know you haven’t actually read any of that literature, and once again you gave a cite that doesn’t support your claim.”

    And that has what to do with what’s under discussion?Report

  26. Avatar Barry says:

    Here’s a good take at it, from John Oliver :

    Report

  27. Avatar Barry says:

    Wardsmith

    “So you saw the website URL and refused to read a single word no? Because that might disturb your carefully constructed cognitive dissonance shield. ”

    Watt has a history.

    To others, go to Real Climate.org and search for ‘Watt’ and ‘Pielke’. Also go to Deltoid, and search there.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to Barry says:

      Deltoid – http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/

      It’s largely inactive, but the archives are great. This guy’s trashed denialists and frauds in many fields.Report

    • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Barry says:

      @barry REALCLIMATE has a history! It is run by the very same /team/ that propagates (and benefits from) the religion called AGW and are the ones in the emails threatening dire actions if journals DARE to print anything by their opponents and otherwise suborning the peer review process. Furthermore between them, and you can test this yourself, if you make ANY legitimate post against the AGW orthodoxy at Realclimate your post will be removed and if you do it again you will be banned.

      I was banned from Realclimate for asking whether the above ground nuclear tests (which produced massive and easily tracked quantities of radioactive CO2) would be a good indicator of the then unknown residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere. Seemed like an innocuous question at the time and there were multiple comment followups. Then the “moderator” decided he/she didn’t like the direction things were taking and deleted the entire subthread starting with my question. I thought there was a bug and notified the site along with rewording the original question. Bam, deleted immediately. Still suspecting a bug and not malfeasance I tried one more time to fix things and was banned. Unfortunately radioactive tagging of CO2 is a very SIMPLE method to determine residence time in the atmosphere and it isn’t the 200 years the IPCC (and Realclimate originally claimed) but rather 5 years. So they had to modify their narrative and now claim it isn’t the /actual/ CO2 that matters but the “lifetime” of CO2 (not to be confused with residence time, which is what they pushed previously until the overwhelming force of evidence against them buried that point of view).

      I’ve had direct discussions with scientists whose papers were being dissected at Realclimate and who have gone there to rebut the arguments and then THEY ARE BANNED! Then Gavin et al can claim, “Well now you have nothing to say do you?” to the person they’ve BANNED and pretend they’ve won the argument! Alinsky rules number 5 and 12. Rules I’m certain you approve of since you employ these snarky techniques yourself.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to wardsmith says:

        “…propagates (and benefits from) the religion called AGW and are the ones in the …”

        BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Report

      • Avatar wardsmith in reply to wardsmith says:

        @barry I’ll see your insipid BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and raise you $100 BillionReport

      • Avatar kenB in reply to wardsmith says:

        Picard provides my reaction to 95% of the comments re AGW, here and elsewhere.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to wardsmith says:

        Ward,
        Oh, really? While it’s fascinating to hear people talk conspiracy theories about the Green Movement, it still won’t convince me to visit Eugene.
        And it still won’t take prominent researchers (who you claim are biased, despite using their research consistently throughout your day to day life) off the Greenpeace hit list (as to why they got on there in the first place? F if even greenpeace remembers).Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to wardsmith says:

        “Unfortunately radioactive tagging of CO2 is a very SIMPLE method to determine residence time in the atmosphere and it isn’t the 200 years the IPCC (and Realclimate originally claimed) but rather 5 years. ”

        Cites?

        Please note that ratios of carbon-14 to carbon-12 have been used to examine this. IIRC, those ratios have been dropping, as more fossil CO2 has been added.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to wardsmith says:

        @barry

        I agree with your request that Ward give us cites. I find it odd, though, that you request it of him, then make counterclaims without offering any cites yourself. In fact you’ve made a lot of claims on this page without citing them. I think the same rules must apply whichever position you take here.

        As to climate change making Michigan habitable, it was a joke. It’s true, of course, but in context, it was just a joke. Lighten up.Report

      • Avatar wardsmith in reply to wardsmith says:

        @barry Cites? Well here ya go buckwheat:
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      • Avatar Kim in reply to wardsmith says:

        Ward,
        Now, it might just be me, but I’d expect you to be citing some more contemporary research. You haven’t cited a thing this century.
        Did Exxon’s money run out?

        http://web.archive.org/web/20090104033735/http://www.someareboojums.org/blog/?p=7
        Why you’re citing this guy, I’m not particularly sure. He’s quite out of his field in talking about climatology in the first place. And that’s saying something, when history majors can be in the climatology field (studying plenty of historical written evidence).Report

  28. Avatar Barry says:

    “As to climate change making Michigan habitable, it was a joke. It’s true, of course, but in context, it was just a joke. Lighten up.”

    Ah, the old ‘lighten up’.

    The reason I was asking is that people frequently try to play ‘climate changes all the time’ to obscure the issues.

    “I find it odd, though, that you request it of him, then make counterclaims without offering any cites yourself. In fact you’ve made a lot of claims on this page without citing them”

    Start with Realclimate.org – read the articles there, and follow the cites.

    An excellent book is ‘The discovery of Global Warming’.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Barry says:

      Start with Realclimate.org – read the articles there, and follow the cites.

      I’m not doing your homework for you. You claim specific knowledge, you provide specific sources. My default assumption for anyone who can’t is that they don’t really know the subject well.

      Do you read anything on the issue except realclimate? Did any of your teachers teach you never to rely on a single source? Do you engage in selection bias when reading, looking only at sources that agree with you?

      The reason I was asking is that people frequently try to play ‘climate changes all the time’ to obscure the issues.

      That’s one of the things I hate about this issue; people who assume that if you say something that’s not in the official AGW official script it means you’re in the denialist camp. Sometimes a cigar really is just a cigar; Freud said so himself.Report

    • Avatar Roger in reply to Barry says:

      On one side we have the denialists. On the other we have the catastrophists (Kim and Chris to name two).

      I pretty much go with the middle ground. Moderate global warming is real with a definite contribution by humans. In general moderate warming is vastly preferable to moderate cooling. Effects to date have been moderate and probably on net beneficial to humanity. After 2050 if models are correct (a huge fricken if), the accounting probably shifts to a moderate negative, roughly equivalent to a normal worldwide economic recession by the end of the century. If models understate warming, then this could be worse though, unless we happen to be entering a natural cold period….

      We should invest in more knowledge on climate, climate models and technological and institutional solutions. In all cases the benefits must outweigh the costs, including the opportunity costs. These costs include any drags on economic growth, and any negative externalities related to centralizing power to solve the problem.

      It is no coincidence that those wanting to centralize power and convert to a command economy have been early adopters of global climate hysteria.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Roger says:

        Because posting about problems 300 years out makes me a catastrophist?
        Or is it discussing the active mass migrations in america beginning this year?

        Seriously, I’m having trouble understanding you.

        I rather think you have a lot invested in the idea that there are wacky green-eyed freaks.

        My views on global warming are not “green-eyed freak” ideas. They’re backed with reasonable models, and an understanding of how to be conservative in a changing world.

        Harumph. Grosvenor Group agrees with me (in placing Pittsburgh as a great location for long term investment).

        [Because when people start telling you that Scientists are Wrong, start citing Businesses! teeehee. don’t take this parenthetical too seriously, i’m just being silly.]Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to Roger says:

        Kim,

        As someone responsible for growth and profit of property and casualty insurance I had to be well versed on catastrophes. I had access to the best short and long term catastrophe models available as one would expect given that we were entrusted with billions of dollars of other people’s money.

        We’ve all heard of futures markets where people put their money behind their beliefs. Well insurance companies basically are big futures markets on this topic.

        And yes, product managers, claims people and actuaries do tend to favor models showing that catastrophes were rising due to global warming. This helps them to justify higher rates (to regulators and internal forces pushing for lower rates such as salespeople) and justify more aggressive underwriting programs.

        My take is that global warming is real. On net probably a minor positive so far (despite rising catastrophe risks) but worth worrying about longer term. We should invest in more knowledge and science and stop the embarrassing climate porn.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Roger says:

        Roger,
        We’re starting to see the beginnings of massive migrations of people in America.

        In 20 years, there are plans on the books for genocide. Now, maybe you don’t think that’s likely. But those are the plans, on the books, for what to do if this gets bad (note: not America. First world, though).

        I don’t find that as catastrophist as you might think (it’s just what exists, now. if you feel like it, you can even backdate it to “probably 50 years in the future”). People die all the time, and damned if America bothers to give a damn. That we have a first world country that is willing to be the next Germany? Not surprising, is it?

        You can call me cynical, rather than catastrophist.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Roger says:

        “Roger,
        We’re starting to see the beginnings of massive migrations of people in America.”

        as compared to anytime in last 300 years?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Roger says:

        In 20 years, there are plans on the books for genocide. Now, maybe you don’t think that’s likely. But those are the plans, on the books, for what to do if this gets bad (note: not America. First world, though)

        @kim, you do know what I’m going to ask you for, right?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Roger says:

        K,
        Well, current migration seems to be something of a “reverse dustbowl” and it’s just starting. It may be as bad as the Dustbowl migrations were, or it might be worse.

        We’re also expecting waves of people retreating from the Eastern Seaboard (Boswash), but that’s not happening yet.

        Cali’s emigration waves are ahead of schedule, for what it’s worth. Drought’s taking its toll.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Roger says:

        “We’re also expecting waves of people retreating from the Eastern Seaboard (Boswash), but that’s not happening yet.”

        Why? It has the most collective wealth in the world, is topographically diverse, and has a climate nearly at the median in rainfall and temperature for areas of human habitation, such that it can absorb changes in either one in either direction more easily than most places in the world.

        In any scenario I can think of (including something fishing up the Gulf Stream) everyone will be clamoring to get into Eastern Megalopolis, not leaving it.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Roger says:

        K,
        1) We’re expecting more snow on the Eastern Seaboard.
        2) Sea level rise will make storm surge a lot more costly (it’s not linear with the sea level rise, but with the amount of area that the sea level rise covers…, due to wind’s ability to scoop up water.)
        3) “removal” of flood insurance (actually using the right maps, in other words) will make many places unaffordable for those with a mortgage.

        And it doesn’t take all that much of a migration (population wise) to be significant to a place like Pittsburgh.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Roger says:

        @kim
        California’s out-migration was about economics, not climate, and its economic problems were not climate-caused. Drought is a normal feature of California, and it produced more in-migration than out-migration because many people like endless sunny days. To blame out-migration now on drought requires us to overlook everything we know about California. As well, to blame any particular drought on global warming is specious, even if it’s certain to produce more, and more severe, droughts.

        The only way drought will cause serious out-migration is if water becomes unaccetably scarce. That has not happened yet, and despite possible future cutbacks in drawing from the Colorado River and reduced runoff from a diminished Sierra snowpack, California will continue to have sufficient water if they can manage to distribute it more efficiently, which is a political probem, not a climate one.

        And I’m still awaiting your cite for the planned genocides.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Roger says:

        James,
        I’m not going to be like quite a few climatologists and call California’s current drought a 100 year drought. But when was the last time you lost the entire almond crop? As in trees pulled out of the ground?

        Those are farmers destroying their livelihood (can they switch to another crop? mmmmaybe).

        “Water becomes unacceptably scarce” yeah, but that’s different for each person. A lot of people hate being under drought emergencies.

        (I’d maintain that Cali’s reputation for being sunny doesn’t change whether or not it’s in a drought…)

        [also, you might have noticed I said “we’re beginning to see emmigration from California” that qualifier is important.]Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Roger says:

        Let’s play the “current model” game!
        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/25/california-drought-global-warming_n_5207120.html

        NOAA’s got one model predicting:
        10 years worth of Polar Vortexes and horrid California Drought (they’re linked).

        Don’t treat this as fact — it’s just one model.

        (and I suspect folks are moving into the Sierra Nevadas to pan for gold. Too dangerous for my blood.)Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Roger says:

        “1) We’re expecting more snow on the Eastern Seaboard.”

        Which is the best way of receiving increased precipitation – less run off and more water table replenishment.

        “2) Sea level rise will make storm surge a lot more costly”

        yes, but that’s why I noted the near unparalleled wealth of Eastern Megalopolis – with 3 trillion annual GDP, it’s only exceeded by China, Japan, and Germany (and of course, the USA as a whole). If anyone can afford mitigation of ocean level rise, it’s the Bo-Wash corridor.

        “3) “removal” of flood insurance (actually using the right maps, in other words) will make many places unaffordable for those with a mortgage.”

        Those are, right now, in general, the low population parts of the corridor now (or the resort towns). Or they are brown fields. Or they’ve been reclaimed are are now high density (and above average income). In any case exclusion from potential flood plains or just straight up inundation if those exclusions are not made or not heeded will not substantially affect the bulk of the population of the Bo-Wash corridor. It’s not Florida. (or the Gulf coast or Ga – Carolina below the fall line)Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Barry says:

      In the last two days, I’ve been a centrist, a neoliberal, a tory, someone who leans libertarian, and a “catastrophist.” I wonder what I will be tomorrow!Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Chris says:

        I vote for “Blue, the ultimate force of destruction”
        (that was a really silly plotpoint in a surprisingly serious anime/videogame).Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Chris says:

        A Texan.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        OK, those other things I can handle, but “Texan” is going too far!Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to Chris says:

        Last time the topic came up,I believe your quote was “were fucked.” I will let people sort this accordingly.

        As to Texas, I lived there almost ten years and have now lived in Illinois for fifteen. I miss Texas, especially in the winter. San Antonio and Austin are awesome. And The Woodlands was by far the best community I ever lived in.

        My least favorite home, by far, was in Mississippi. Sorry, but that state sucks.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        We are, but it’s not because things are going to be catastrophically bad, but because we’re not going to do anything to prevent it from being pretty bad. And we’re not going to prevent it from being pretty bad because certain people decided, from the beginning, that it was a political issue, and doing anything about it had to be opposed by denying the science altogether. So we’ve never gotten to the point at which we can really even talk about doing anything.

        And Mississippi is a wonderful place, but I’m not planning on moving there anytime soon.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to Chris says:

        Trust me from experience brother. Mississippi is not a good place for people involved in interracial relationships. A normal experience is having every single person in the restaurant turn around when my wife and I entered, and the children pointed.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Chris says:

        @chris

        but because we’re not going to do anything to prevent it from being pretty bad. And we’re not going to prevent it from being pretty bad because certain people decided, from the beginning, that it was a political issue

        This!

        Had we started making an effort when it was clear it had the potential to be a problem, by doing things we should have been doing anyway, it would not be nearly so much of an issue & the cost would have been minimal, & quite possibly a net gain. Soon (20-30 years), we will be at a point where we will probably have to do expensive things we really don’t want to do & it is going to hurt.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Chris says:

        Chris,
        Certain people (including Exxon) decided it was a money issue, and that preventing climate change was much less of a priority than making money for the rich.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Chris says:

        MRS,
        Expensive things? Sure. Mass relocations, migrations (and genocides) are a bit expensive.

        What concerns me is that all the geoengineering stuff is risky.
        We’re talking “could destroy the world’s habitability” risky.
        [Okay, so there are ten other industries busy doing things that
        could destroy the world. This isn’t the Only Problem, duh.]Report

  29. Avatar Kim says:

    California drought versus human behavior:
    Citing global warming linked to california drought skeptic: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/17/science/some-scientists-disagree-with-presidents-linking-drought-to-warming.html?_r=0

    1976-1977 was a hard drought period.

    https://www.bluediamond.com/index.cfm?navId=394

    And 1979 was a banner year for almonds (not possible if most of the almond trees had been removed a few years earlier).

    So we’re seeing different patterns of behavior for agriculturalists.

    (Almonds make a decent bellwether as they’re somewhat water intensive…)Report

  30. Avatar Kim says:

    Okay, comment in mod.Report

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