Hobbes on climate change

Via HT I find Kerry Emanuel saying:

I think debate is good but we should be debating points that are actually debatable

and who could disagree with that? But the problem is who gets to say what is debatable. You and I know, of course. But the wackoes don't [What is the Plural of "wacko"? Is it -oes or -os? And what about "Bozoes" - that looks wrong]. Or rather, it is impossible to distinguish from outside their heads the difference between "this is debatable" and "I'm going to force you to debate this if I can, either because it plays well or in order to avoid debating real issues" (compare For if a man pretend to me that God hath spoken to him supernaturally, and immediately, and I make doubt of it, I cannot easily perceive what argument he can produce to oblige me to believe it).

The connection to Hobbes is that he argues, for example, that if you let someone "independent" interpret your laws, then that person or group is effectively sovereign; and therefore argues for all judges to be effectively the person of the sovereign, delegated (as I believe was the theory in England, but no more). With no-one wielding the civil sword to decide questions such as "what is debatable" there is no law in this area, no compact, and thus effectively a state of war. Which is exactly what we see.

[Updated: to include sea ice pic and link to Neven.]


* Calvin and

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I tried to use "wackaloons" at Keith Kloor's once, he censored it. I was actually talking about pretty much this exact question. And there's a perfect example (with friends Pielke Jr. and Revkin) of somebody setting themselves up as judge of decorous debate with no or highly variable standards of rationality.

[I stopped commenting at KK's because he refused to redact gratuitous incivility directed at me. I'm surprised he redacts stuff directed against others; I thought he was at least consistent / honest. Keith? -W]

By Arthur Smith (not verified) on 07 Aug 2012 #permalink

I'm not sure that Hobbes is a good exemplar of a philosopher suitable for today's belief in independent thought. If you wish to invoke a consensus, stabilizing social mandate, one in which the harmony of the group is more important than truth or justice, go with Hobbes.

The better philosopher is William James, the American pragmatist. He would argue that all truth is temporary, that we can approach truth but never reach it, that usefulness is the key aspect of a truth.

James would say that skepticism is where all should be, even those who have taken a position. But only as long as on-going observation maintains the validity of the truth.

Which is not happening vis-a-vis the temperature rise vs the predictions, or that of sea-level or other ideas. The proof of the pudding is still undetermined, as the tasting, so far, hasn't been deep enough.

By Doug Proctor (not verified) on 07 Aug 2012 #permalink

re: " But the problem is who gets to say what is debatable. You and I know, of course. But the wackoes don’t"

i.e. only high priests of the faith can decide since you believe yourselves infallible and don't grasp that perhaps someone may have spotted an error in your thinking that you don't think is debatable. Heretics should be silent and go away and not dare question you. I came to a site labelled a "science blog" and see instead childish rants from true believers that anyone dare question them.

[Oh darling, have I offended you and your fake email address? Do feel free to say something of substance, if you have anything to say. but attacking strawmen is pointless -W]

w(h)acko: w(h)acko(e)s
bozo: bozos

Since a w(h)acko is mad/eccentric and bozo is stupid, despised or insignificant [SOED], IMHO you should be calling the septics bozos.

Any particular views on the sea ice? This cyclone does suggest a different class of feedback from those I've thought about before. I was already conscious of "open water => more waves => better mixing => warmer water => faster melt", but this is more than that, something like "open water => warmer air => cyclonic winds => bigger waves => ...". Presumably one could easily devise or steal a measure for arctic cyclonic intensity and then look for trends?

[I think you can argue that thinner ice and open water leads to more mixing and hence less ice, which is a feedback, but may not be a strong one. I don't know how this storm will play out -W]

By Nick Barnes (not verified) on 07 Aug 2012 #permalink

Whackos, unless so gonzo as to elevate themselves to whackoi

I think whackii has a nice ring to it, and has the further attractiveness of being obviously incorrect.

By American Idiot (not verified) on 07 Aug 2012 #permalink

"Which is not happening vis-a-vis the temperature rise vs the predictions..." Yep, we've seen nothing but declining temperatures.

By Brian Dodge (not verified) on 07 Aug 2012 #permalink

"i.e. only high priests of the faith...."

Ah, another fine example of the Dunning - Kreuger effect, wherein a "True Believer" thinks that science is just another failed faith, like all the others that aren't his. Or that global warming is just as fictitious as the Free Market, since, as Karl Rove put it, "... when we act, we create our own reality."

By Brian Dodge (not verified) on 07 Aug 2012 #permalink

thinner ice and open water leads to more mixing and hence less ice, which is a feedback, but may not be a strong one.

Saw a neat comment the other day that this kind of severe storm churning bringing up warmer, saltier water to the surface with higher waves crashing over the ice is a bit like dumping salt on icy, snowy roads. The ice isn't usually subjected to that because the non-stormy, churned-up state is for the water surrounding the ice to be **less** salty than the ocean generally.

Could lead to more rapid ice melt. But we only need a few more days to see just how much damage such a storm can do at this stage of the season.

The easy way to think about the cyclone is the same way as about heat waves, while there may be some additional forcing in that direction, it is sufficient that the ice pack was in a bad way to start with, so dice throwing insures that sooner or later something very bad will happen.

By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 08 Aug 2012 #permalink

Dr. Connolley,
While simulating low sea ice with a climate model, do you recall seeing a similar storm in the runs?

[No, but I wouldn't have. Firstly because the grid re in HadXM3 was about 300 km in the atmosphere, but mostly because I only ever looked at the climatology, never the day-to-day behaviour -W]

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 08 Aug 2012 #permalink

Wacki (m,p) I believe for the masculine form

IJIS has been the most reluctant of 4 or 5 extent measures to show 2012 as the lowest on record. Our bets were using NSIDC
but the first one arranged on Neven's terms was I think IJIS. You had already got a graph of IJIS in the post and as the most reluctant that didn't seem to give a full impression of situation. Also area still looks better than extent for estimating extent minimums though that will change over the next few weeks. So it seemed worth adding a different graph to the one in the post to show what was going on.

IJIS is now using Windsat and is much more variable than when the bet was arranged i.e. it isn't the record we thought we were talking about when the bet was arranged. Is there merit in suggesting that if IJIS is the odd extent record out in saying whether there has been a new record or not, then we should go with the majority rather than IJIS?

Neven's Ice graphs page has extent graphs for NSIDC, IJIS, DMI, and Uni Bremen. (There is also Arctic Roos/NORSEX but that isn't currently updating.)

Heh, at least you can be somewhat more confident about our bet (£50 on September average extent to go below 2 million by end 2016).

By Peter Ellis (not verified) on 12 Aug 2012 #permalink

Neven isn't keen on that suggestion. Suggesting instead AMSR2 reanalysis (which isn't available yet) in addition to the NSIDC monthly average extent. That seems fair enough as long as we don't have to wait too long for it.

[Bets are recorded at http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2011/05/10/sea-ice-part-2/ Yours and mine are all multi-year ones, so there is no need to sort them out yet -W]

I believe William and I bet on NSIDC monthly minimum AND IJIS daily minimum (because only monthly minimum is boring) in either 2011, 2012 or 2013.

I learned this week via Bob Grumbine that the IJIS SIE thing will be reanalysed as soon as AMSR2 is done validating and calibrating. I would suggest we let those numbers decide the daily minimum, as AMSR2 is clearly a better product than WindSat.

How about it, WC?

[That was on IJIS I think, based on http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2011/05/10/sea-ice-part-2/ If there is an official product from them, then I think we use that. Hopefully they will do something sensible in time. If we can agree that they are doing something silly that affects the result, then, erm, we'll see -W]

OK, so we wait until IJIS based on WindSat stes the daily minimum.

Then we await the NSIDC September minimum.

After that we wait for the AMSR2 reanalysis, because AMSR2 will be similar to AMSR-E.

And then you pay me € 50,00.

Sounds like great fun! ;-)

[You can spin out the torture... -W]

Long term readers might remember that there was Arctic sea ice discussion under "Hobbes on climate change", and of course there are search engines. But perhaps this might be a good suggestion: Start a thread on this summer's sea ice.

[My excuse is that I really don't have anything new to say at this point. But I'll add the cat to this post -W]

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 12 Aug 2012 #permalink

William, did you ever bet with WUWT's Smokey about standard deviations or some such?

[No. I tried to interest them but they wouldn't put up (or shut up, of course) - W]

If you want us to spin out the torture, we could start copying Jim Petit's and others' similar post to this:

"With yesterday's drop in CT SIA of 111k km2, 2012 area has dropped to 2.986 million km2. Some stats:

•That's only the third time in the record area has been below 3 million km2 (2007 and 2011 were the others, of course).
•It only took 138 days this year for area to fall below 3 million from this year's maximum. 2011 accomplished that feat in 169 days--one month longer--while 2007 needed 178 days, nearly six weeks more. Perhaps more astonishing, that 138 days is less time than it took most years that fell below 5 million km2 to reach that point from their individual maximums.
•2012 SIA fell below 3 million km2 nine days ahead of 2007, and ten days ahead of 2011. 2012 area is currently 405k km2 ahead of 2011 on the same day, and 356k km2 ahead of 2007.
•As others have noted, an area record is just 81,585 km2 away. Even if area were to see an additional decrease this year equivalent to only the lowest post-6191 drop on record--1997's 194k--2012 would still end up with just 2.793 million km2. At the other end of the scale, 1984's post-6191 drop of 1.113 million km2 would render a very far-fetched 1.874 million km2.
•2012 SIA has now been in first place for the past 47 consecutive days--since June 30--and 63 out of the last 68.
•2012's SIA anomaly has been below -2 million km2 for 14 consecutive days. That's 20% of the 70 days on record with an anomaly greater than -2 million. (The greatest anomaly so far this year ranked #20 on that list of 70; the 19 largest negative anomalies were all in October of 2007.)"

Uni Bremen extent record looks to already be broken but generally extent measures seem further from record than CT area discussed above.

If you don't want us to spin out the torture, I could always give you a way out like you just need to accept you were wrong and settle up. Did our 4 bets total £367 or £400 (I forget what was increased to £100 each)? An early settlement discount might bring that down to £250 provided settlement means it isn't reopenable.

Hmm. if I offer a way out, does that mean it isn't torture and I am free to carry on with the spinning it out? ;o) (Only kidding copying such minor/irrelevant points does look OTT. I should probably keep it to reporting when records used in the bets actually fall, but spinning it out is just such fun as Neven pointed out.)

Off topic, but seeing what the IPCC rrpeot or the Copenhagen document actually say: this illustrates an unrelated point.In fifteen years, it will still be relatively easy to see the range and context of what scientists are saying now in any given area like sea ice; one can start with broad reviews like the IPCC rrpeot or review papers specific to a field; and if desired easily go to individual papers, and follow the citation trees to see how each paper was built on, adapted or ignored. But with so much of the sceptic corpus appearing in op/ed columns and a maze of blogs, it will be difficult to trace out what, if anything, is representative of sceptic opinions. It'll certainly be befuddling just how many of their ideas are mutually exclusive. It will be difficult to collect and assess any predictions sceptics have made. Will blog posts be preserved, archived and made searchable? Will comments be seen as being indicative of anything? We can tell which scientific publications are influential; how can we tell what blog posts are influential?Somebody should document and collect predictions made by sceptics, in one place. That, and instances like this where one month's data is taken badly out of context.