What really annoys climate academics about the public critique of their work.

The Guardian have some interesting comments from climate academics (I refuse to call people who don’t practice real skeptic science “scientists”). This really needs a detailed response to each one – something that is impossible on the Guardian, and something I don’t have time to do just now.
Unfortunately, the Guardian censor many comments from skeptics, so I don’t like commenting on the Guardian itself and therefore as many others may feel the same and wish to comment, here are the (more than likely heavily censored) statements.
(Please treat these as personal contributions, therefore no personal attacks or ad hominens “Climate academics are a load of crap” is acceptable “Prof McWorthy is a  crap” is not.

Professor Andrew Pitman, director of the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney

Many people who would not dream to claim they understand how antibiotics, microprocessors or immunisations work seem happy to wax lyrical on their views on climate change.
A politician or media identity who would be laughed out of office if they said “vaccines don’t work” or “I am certain the moon is made of cheese” happily speak equivalent rubbish on climate science, believing their views deserve credit.
I want engineers to build bridges; I want a trained surgeon to operate on hearts and I want some of our decision-makers and commentators to either shut up, or familiarise themselves with climate science well enough to talk sense.

Professor Michael Mann, director of Penn State Earth System Science Center, United States

If there’s one concept that is typically misrepresented in the public discourse on climate change, it is the concept of uncertainty.
There are uncertainties in model projections of future climate change. However, these uncertainties cut both ways, and in many cases it appears that model projections have underestimated the rate and magnitude of the climate changes resulting from our burning of fossil fuels and emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The rapid lost of Arctic sea ice is one such example.
Rather than being cause for inaction, uncertainty is a reason to act all the sooner.

Professor Michael Raupach, director of the Climate Change Institute, Australian National University, Canberra

The greatest cause for sorrow is the widespread inability of the public discussion to recognise the whole picture.
Much of the political discourse reduces the complexities of climate change to political football (“axe the tax”); much media reporting sees only the hook to today’s passing story; many interest groups want to use climate change to proselytise for their particular get-out-of-jail free card (nuclear power, carbon farming).
All of this misses or trivialises the real, systemic significance of climate change: that humankind is encountering the finitude of our planet, confronting the need to share and protect our endowment from nature, and realising that much will have to change to make this possible.

Professor Richard Betts, chair in Climate Impacts at the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, UK

The thing that bugs me most about the way climate change is talked about in the media is journalists citing scientific papers without providing a link to the original paper.
Readers often want to get more details or simply check sources, but this is very difficult (or sometimes impossible) if the source is not given. I’ve raised this a few times, and get lame excuses like ‘readers get frustrated when the journals are paywalled’ but that’s not good enough. Media should provide sources – end of.

Professor Steven Sherwood, director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, Sydney

Where to start?
These are things I don’t see (or don’t see enough).
First is still that, even though it is clear greenhouse gas emissions raise the temperature of the Earth, we’ve known this for 50+ years and no reputable atmospheric scientist in the world disputes this, most people think scientists disagree. They’ve been misled by the media, and I’ve been told repeatedly by reporters in the US and Australia that this is due to pressure from management.
Second is the fact that carbon dioxide emissions are effectively irreversible and will stay in the climate system for hundreds of generations is seldom noted. If we decide later that this was a huge mistake there is no going back (practically speaking).
On the political side, I wish the media would note the obvious parallels of the carbon debate with past ones over restricting pollutants (mercury, lead, asbestos, CFCs), where claims that restrictions would be economically catastrophic never came true.
These are things I do see that bug me.
One would be phrases like “action on climate change”. We should be talking about “action on carbon dioxide” — and climate is only one reason (albeit the biggest) that too much of it is dangerous. Nothing we do with respect to any other influence on climate will prevent global warming if CO2 keeps climbing.

Professor Stefan Rahmstorf, head of Earth System Analysis, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany

One of the phrases that makes me cringe is when I read in the media that a particular extreme weather event “is no evidence for climate change”. This is so bad it’s not even wrong, but it is quite misleading.
Climate change is a measured fact seen in rising temperatures, vanishing ice, rising sea levels etc. – it needs no further evidence. And a single extreme event cannot possibly provide such evidence, because climate change increases the number of certain extremes. Some, like heat waves, have already increased massively thanks to global warming.

Professor Roger Jones, research fellow at the Centre for Strategic and Economic Studies at Victoria University, Melbourne

Who am I?
I can be sued for calling a public individual fraudulent but not a whole scientific community or organisation – because climate scientists and the IPCC are fraudulent.
I can publish proven lies in my newspaper day after day with no penalty.
I can buy disaffected scientists to deny sound science with a plane fare to a bogus conference and a little publicity.
I can anonymously threaten researchers online, especially the female ones.
If anyone threatens me with facts, I can call them an antidemocratic, anti-jobs, McCarthyist, communist, anti-freedom, pagan environmentalist.
Everyone says there is no consensus.
I deny everything.

Dr Sophie Lewis, research fellow in the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne

I get annoyed when I hear yet another politician arguing that we can’t link extreme events to climate change. You know the spurious reasoning? Australia’s always had heatwaves/floods/fires, so this recent extreme is nothing to worry about. When I hear this, it’s time to turn off the TV.
Climate scientists don’t just guess at what contributed to recent extremes. We methodically calculate changes in the risk of extremes due to human factors, like greenhouse gases. I don’t just get irate out of principle.
Dismissing the link between climate change and extremes as hogwash leaves us vulnerable to a warmer climate.

Dr Andrew Glikson, visiting fellow at the School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Australian National University

I think the scale of the changes being seen now when compared to the Earth’s history is something the media and the public do not appreciate. Earth’s history is marked by a number of major mass extinctions of species, triggered by volcanic eruptions, asteroid impacts and release of methane from sediments.
Major shifts in the state of the climate were caused either by pulsations in solar radiation or by release of carbon from the Earth. In each of these events a marked rise occurred in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
As the level of energy and temperature of the atmosphere increased, irreversible tipping points were reached where the synergy of feedback processes – ice melt, warming water, released methane, droughts and fires – combined to shift the climate from one state to the next.
The current rise in energy of the atmosphere above that of pre-industrial times, by about 3 Watt per square meter, is about half that of the atmospheric energy rise during the last transition from glacial to interglacial state.
The current shift is threatening to bring about irreversible tipping points in the climate, with the most serious consequences, likely indicated by the increase over the last 20 years or so in the intensity of extreme weather events around the globe.
The current rise of atmospheric CO2 at a rate of near-three parts per million per year exceeds rates recorded in the history of the atmosphere for the last 55 million years, which retards the ability of species to adapt to environmental change in time.
A consequent shift from conditions, which have allowed agriculture to take place from about 8,000 years ago, would render large parts of the continents unsuitable for cultivation.

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13 Responses to What really annoys climate academics about the public critique of their work.

  1. I agree with Prof Betts about the approved media, even online, not providing links to what they claim to be quoting. This ability to provide links is one of the great advantages the net has over the “free press”. The worst online claimant can be asked to provide their evidence (the better already do) whereas the best traditional journalists can’t – and it shows. Which is why 1 assertion by the Register or Briebart is worth 10,000 in the Guardian. And why the refusal of any alarmist to name a single scientist, not paid by the government, promoting the scare, makes it statistically certain that those promoting the fraud and paid to are quacks rather than scientists.

  2. “Climate change is a measured fact seen in rising temperatures”
    What really annoys me about these academics is that they haven’t a clue about the huge cost of what they want everyone to do and they base their views on the flimsiest nuance of evidence.
    Their advice is so appallingly bad, that if any commercial consultant were to behave the same way they would regularly get their pants sued off them for their bad advice.
    But no! They have stepped out of the arena of academia where you don’t give specific advice, into the arena of specific policy measures and then, one of the subjects with the most appalling standards (as seen in climategate) then publish their opinions as “fact” that must be followed without question not even thinking that they will be sued like any other consultant for given bad advice.
    What annoys me about these arrogant people, is that they deny the world outside of their ivory towers is full of people who are just as capable of looking at the same publicly available data and forming their own views – indeed by statistical probability, there will be many many more outside academia who are far more intelligent with much wider experience to bring to bare.
    What annoys me about these people is that …. they will never admit they are wrong. They will never admit they failed to predict the pause, they will never admit there is no trend in extreme weather. They will never admit that CO2 is beneficial, they will never admit that winter cold kills thousands of people not only in the UK but also in places like India (more winter deaths than summer – according to a pro-warming researching!!).
    What annoys me is that that will dabble in all kinds of areas where they have no expertise (like Nurse and Walport both in medical science having the gall to say anything on climate). And then when Skeptics who have studied climate for years and who have relevant degrees dare to comment on an area where we have expertise … they call us deniers … just because we aren’t academics.

  3. Mann: “and in many cases it appears that model projections have underestimated the rate and magnitude of the climate changes” … I would have to break my own rule not to insult them to comment on that.

  4. TinyCO2 says:

    Professor Andrew Pitman “Many people who would not dream to claim they understand how antibiotics, microprocessors or immunisations work seem happy to wax lyrical on their views on climate change.” But some of us DO know how those things do or don’t work. Their success or failure is built upon far more than ‘the scientists say’. We knew from the start that climate was complicated and it was the over confident claims that got scientists into trouble.
    As an apparent newsflash for the professor – sometimes vaccines don’t work. Or they do work but the side effects are worse than the disease. Vaccines stop working all the time. Vaccines don’t work for every person. Vaccines are wonders of the modern world but no medical scientist would tell you that there are no issues with them. Vaccines have a long history of success… unlike climate science.

  5. catweazle666 says:

    Nice collection of pause deniers you’ve dug up there.
    I see some of them, despite being apparently qualified climate scientists, are attempting to pretend that weather is climate.
    As the pause is about half way through the negative phase of the ~60 year cycle, it will be interesting to see what excuses they come up with in the next 5, 10 and 15 years.

  6. stewgreen says:

    …Climate Loonies at Climate Loony central (the Guardian) so don’t expect Reason, logic, fairness or proper validated science.
    Indeed just look at the title:
    “What really annoys scientists about the state of the climate change debate?”
    .. em what flippen debate is that ? These loonies don’t permit a debate.
    Skeptics have called for proper debate again and again, but those loinies quoted above just refuse to come to a debate and state their case
    Rule 1 is : “Never debate a skeptic, cos you might lose; but give the excuse you don’t wabt to give skeptics a platform”
    Ruke 2 is : “Do everything you can to keep the skeptics off the media”
    why the public believe some scientists ? cos they trust them.
    Why the public don’t believe green loonies ? cos thru experience they have leànt thàt you cannot trust thèm.

  7. Martin A says:

    Professor Andrew Pitman, director of the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney
    Many people who would not dream to claim they understand how antibiotics, microprocessors or immunisations work seem happy to wax lyrical on their views on climate change.

    Professor Andrew Pitman was born in Bristol and was awarded a Bachelor degree with honours in Physical Geography and a PhD in Atmospheric Science by the University of Liverpool, UK. “

    Professor Pitman’s comment typifies those that hold that only a “trained climate scientist” can have valid views on climate change. In fact “climate science” involves straightforward statistics and straightforward physics meaning that anybody with a physics degree or an engineering degree or a similare qualification in a hard science can pick up and understand in depth essentially any climate science paper they are willing to devote the time to.
    In contrast, I have the impression that many ‘climate scientists’ have very little understanding of physics at the fundamental level, having studied subjects such as geography for their first degree. Much of their study seems to have been devoted to rote learning (“CO2 traps heat”) and, asked to explain things from fundamentals they flounder.
    “…understand how antibiotics, microprocessors or immunisations work” Some of us have at least some understanding of one or more of those subjects which would at least enable us to have a conversation with a researcher about their current work. But above all, we all have direct, completely convincing, evidence that antibiotics, microprocessors and immunisations all work as they are claimed to. Something that simply cannot be said for climate science.

    • I’m really glad to hear someone else say that.
      The ones I find laughable are Nurse, Walport and Jones (BBC report) none of whom have any qualification relevant to climate physics who then liberally express their views on climate whilst hypocritically saying that only those qualified to speak on climate should be heard in the media.

      • mpcraig says:

        I’ve always maintained that there was no such thing as a “climate expert”. Not even a climate scientist. For example, if you run into a physicist she doesn’t know ALL aspects of physics. In fact, she probably only knows one narrow one really well and a few others better than most people.
        So who is qualified to speak on climate. Well, some are qualified to address certain specific aspects of climate. I submit therefore that nobody is qualified to speak on climate.

  8. Ben Vorlich says:

    I think that Professor Andrew Pitman would be shocked just how many people understand how antibiotics, microprocessors or immunisations work to a reasonable level..
    Professor Richard Betts didn’t mention that even if the links were posted there’d be a paywall, totally unacceptable for publicly funded research.
    Professor Stefan Rahmstorf seems unaware that temperatures haven’t gone up, ice isn’t disappearing, he’s probably wrong the etc, too.
    Most of these people will have spent their entire life since the age of 4 years in educational establishments talking to others of the intellectual elite.

    • I would be very interested to know how many of those on the list knew the direct affect of CO2 (about 1C). In my experience even very knowledgeable people assume that the whole predicted warming is entirely due to CO2. Few have any idea that the CO2 affect is less than 30% of the warming.

  9. mpcraig says:

    I was most amused by Michael Mann’s conclusion: The less we know, the more action we should take.

  10. people would have ”believed” more those ”scientist” IF they are willing to hear sometimes what the people know.
    Here are the proofs ”beyond any reasonable doubt” that: climate is in constant change – ”GLOBAL” warming is crap. People can damage the climate – people also can improve the climate; if it wasn’t constant misleading about the phony global warming.
    3] if I’m wrong and the scientist are correct; I undertake to give $10 000 Australian dollars donation to them, and never to say another word regarding the phony ”global” warming: http://globalwarmingdenier.wordpress.com/climate/
    I CHALLENGE EVERYBODY – read every sentence of those 3 posts; I’m a soft target – if I’m wrong and those scientist are correct = you will get $10 000 cash, tax free

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