Wednesday, September 24, 2014

American Physical Society journal Physics Today: "Physicist Steve Koonin impeaches scientists’ climate consensus"

This could be a watershed moment, when the bad boys of climate science finally get their comeuppance from the hardest of the hard scientists - the physicists. Thanks to a hard-hitting and high-visibility Wall Street Journal article by well-respected physicist Dr. Steven Koonin, in which "the veteran technoscience leader declares the science not settled," the American Physical Society journal Physics Today has just published a complementary article basically endorsing the fact that APS "Physicist Steve Koonin impeaches scientists’ climate consensus."

Perhaps the hard physical scientists will now gleen from these watershed articles that the climate propaganda scientists have been lying all along about their fictitious non-statistical "95% certainty" and fictitious "97% consensus." Let's hope. If so, it could mark the beginning of the end of the grand Mann-made climate scam. 

The article notes,

"Steven E. Koonin welcomed participants to the Climate Change Statement Review Workshop that he was chairing for the American Physical Society, he made a point of acknowledging “experts who credibly take significant issue with several aspects of the consensus picture.” Participating, and fitting that description, were climate scientists Judith Curry, Richard Lindzen, and John Christy."

The forthcoming revision of the APS Climate Change Statement will likely reflect Chairman Koonin's skeptical views, which has some rabid warmists very worried that "the APS has been arrogantly negligent in its handling of the coming Climate Change position statement," that Chairman Dr. Koonin has "hit the fan," and "this sucks."

The same warmist propagandists are getting even more nervous today about this APS article, saying "The American Physical Society has thrown down" the gauntlet, and propagandists "Ben Santer, Isaac Held and William Collins have now been officially declared chopped liver."


Coincidentally, in the same issue of Physics Today is the recommended article "Neil deGrasse Tyson accused of “the science of smug condescension,” which is also very apropos to Tyson's smug climate alarm and condescension towards climate realists and skeptics of CAGW. More on Tyson's smug condescension regarding climate alarm.



Physicist Steve Koonin impeaches scientists’ climate consensus

In a long Wall Street Journal commentary, the veteran technoscience leader declares the science not settled

By Steven T. Corneliussen

Neil deGrasse Tyson accused of “the science of smug condescension”

In January, when Steven E. Koonin welcomed participants to the Climate Change Statement Review Workshop that he was chairing for the American Physical Society, he made a point of acknowledging “experts who credibly take significant issue with several aspects of the consensus picture.” Participating, and fitting that description, were climate scientists Judith Curry, Richard Lindzen, and John Christy. Now Koonin has published a high-visibility commentary in the Wall Street Journal under the headline “Climate science is not settled.” In the paper version, the editors italicized the word not.

The WSJ identifies Koonin as

* President Obama’s former Energy Department undersecretary for science,

* director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University,

* a past professor of theoretical physics and provost at Caltech, and

* a past chief scientist for BP, “where his work focused on renewable and low-carbon energy technologies.”

It can be added that Koonin has a long past in investigating and pronouncing on physics questions of special public importance. A quarter century ago, the New York Times article “Physicists debunk claim of a new kind of fusion” included this: “Dr. Steven E. Koonin of Caltech called the Utah report a result of ‘the incompetence and delusion of Pons and Fleischmann.’ The audience of scientists sat in stunned silence for a moment before bursting into applause.”

Koonin’s 2000-word WSJ commentary dominates the front page of the Saturday Review section, with a jump to an interior page. The editors signposted it in several ways. The subhead says, “Climate change is real and affected by human activity, writes a former top science official of the Obama administration. But we are very far from having the knowledge needed to make good policy.” A call-out line in boldface on the front page says, “Our best climate models still fail to explain the actual climate data.” Another, after the jump to p. C2, says, “The discussion should not be about ‘denying’ or ‘believing’ the science.” A photo caption on the jump page says, in part, “Today’s best estimate of climate sensitivity is no more certain than it was 30 years ago.” A caption on the front page says, “While Arctic ice has been shrinking, Antarctic sea ice is at a record high.” (Although that photo plainly shows only the extraction of an ice-core sample, the caption adds, “Above, scientists measure the sea level in Antarctica.”)

Here are excerpts from Koonin’s commentary:

* The idea that “Climate science is settled” runs through today’s popular and policy discussions. Unfortunately, that claim is misguided.

* The crucial scientific question for policy isn’t whether the climate is changing. That is a settled matter: The climate has always changed and always will. . . . Nor is the crucial question whether humans are influencing the climate. That is no hoax: There is little doubt in the scientific community that continually growing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, due largely to carbon-dioxide emissions from the conventional use of fossil fuels, are influencing the climate. There is also little doubt that the carbon dioxide will persist in the atmosphere for several centuries. The impact today of human activity appears to be comparable to the intrinsic, natural variability of the climate system itself. Rather, the crucial, unsettled scientific question for policy is, “How will the climate change over the next century under both natural and human influences?”

* Even though human influences could have serious consequences for the climate, they are physically small in relation to the climate system as a whole. . . . Since the climate system is highly variable on its own, that smallness sets a very high bar for confidently projecting the consequences of human influences.

* The oceans, which change over decades and centuries, hold most of the climate’s heat and strongly influence the atmosphere. Unfortunately, precise, comprehensive observations of the oceans are available only for the past few decades; the reliable record is still far too short to adequately understand how the oceans will change and how that will affect climate.

* We often hear that there is a “scientific consensus” about climate change. But as far as the computer models go, there isn’t a useful consensus at the level of detail relevant to assessing human influences.

* Work to resolve . . . shortcomings in climate models should be among the top priorities for climate research. Yet a public official reading only the IPCC’s “Summary for Policy Makers” would gain little sense of the extent or implications of these deficiencies.

* While the past two decades have seen progress in climate science, the field is not yet mature enough to usefully answer the difficult and important questions being asked of it.

* We can and should take steps to make climate projections more useful over time. . . . The science is urgent, since we could be caught flat-footed if our understanding does not improve more rapidly than the climate itself changes.

* Policy makers and the public may wish for the comfort of certainty in their climate science. But I fear that rigidly promulgating the idea that climate science is “settled” (or is a “hoax”) demeans and chills the scientific enterprise, retarding its progress in these important matters. Uncertainty is a prime mover and motivator of science and must be faced head-on.

* Individuals and countries can legitimately disagree about these matters, so the discussion should not be about “believing” or “denying” the science. Despite the statements of numerous scientific societies, the scientific community cannot claim any special expertise in addressing issues related to humanity’s deepest goals and values. The political and diplomatic spheres are best suited to debating and resolving such questions, and misrepresenting the current state of climate science does nothing to advance that effort.

Steven T. Corneliussen, a media analyst for the American Institute of Physics, monitors three national newspapers, the weeklies Nature and Science, and occasionally other publications. He has published op-eds in the Washington Post and other newspapers, has written for NASA's history program, and is a science writer at a particle-accelerator laboratory.

6 comments:

  1. Brilliant. Thanks again for posting this.

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  2. Check out the 2883+ comments on this great article at wsj.com

    http://online.wsj.com/articles/climate-science-is-not-settled-1411143565?mod=WSJ_article_EditorsPicks#livefyre-comment

    ReplyDelete
  3. The American Physical Society, with a membership of more than 50,000 physicists, is in the process of reviewing and likely altering their Climate Change Statement, as the Statement has not been updated since 2007. (See: http://www.aps.org/policy/statements/climate-review.cfm ) For the purposes of advancing the deliberative process, the APS Council has devised a framework of questions that largely proceeds from the conclusions reached by the latest IPCC report’s Physical Science Basis (AR5 WG1). Each question appears to assume a keenly skeptical stance with regard to the most current IPCC (2013) conclusions. This skepticism could portend a rather dramatic shift away from the high confidence with “consensus” climate science that was evident in the previous edition of the APS’s Climate Change Statement. A summary of some of these questions is below.
    --------------------------------
    http://www.aps.org/policy/statements/upload/climate-review-framing.pdf

    The 21st Century Pause (Stasis)

    •While the Global Mean Surface Termperature (GMST) rose strongly from 1980 – 1998, it has shown no significant rise for the past 15 years.

    •The IPCC text lists internal variability, forcing inadequacies, and model over-responsiveness as all possibly contributing to the stasis [warming pause], but without a quantitative resolution. To what would you attribute the stasis?

    •If non-anthropogenic influences are strong enough to counteract the expected effects of increased CO2, why wouldn’t they be strong enough to sometimes enhance warming trends, and in so doing lead to an over-estimate of CO2 influence?

    •What are the implications of this stasis for confidence in the models and their projections?

    IPCC suggests that the stasis can be attributed in part to “internal variability.” Yet climate models imply that a 15-year stasis is very rare and models cannot reproduce the observed GMST even with the observed radiative forcing.

    •What is the definition of “internal variability”? Is it poorly defined initial conditions in the models or an intrinsically chaotic nature of the climate system? If the latter, what features of the climate system are predictable?

    •How long must the stasis persist before there would be a firm declaration of a problem with the models? If that occurs, would the fix entail: A retuning of model parameters? A modification of ocean conditions? A re-examination of fundamental assumptions?

    Sea Ice

    •Please comment on the ability of the models to reproduce the Arctic [sea ice] trend, but not the Antarctic [sea ice] trend.

    •The [IPCC AR5] figure caption reads: “Only CMIP5 models [of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice] which simulated seasonal mean and magnitude of seasonal cycle in reasonable agreement with observations are included in the plot.” Only 6 (Antarctic) or 11 (Arctic) CMIP5 models were used, while there are some 40 models in the ensemble. One may therefore conclude that the bulk [58%] of the CMIP5 models do not reproduce reasonable seasonal mean and magnitude of the ice cycle. Is that the case? And if so, what are the implications for the confidence with which the ensemble can be used for other purposes?

    Sea Level Rise

    •The rate of [sea level] rise during 1930-1950 was comparable to, if not larger than, the value in recent years. Please explain that circumstance in light of the presumed monotonic increase from anthropogenic effects.

    •The IPCC-projected [sea level] rise of up to 1 m by the end of this century (depending upon the emissions scenario) would require an average rate of up to 12 mm/yr for the rest of this century, some four times the current rate, and an order of magnitude larger than implied by the 20th century acceleration of 0.01 mm/yr2 found in some studies [AR5 WG1 Report Section 3.7.4]. What drives the projected sea level rise? To what extent is it dependent upon a continued rise in GMST?

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  4. (Continued)

    Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity

    •A factor-of-three uncertainty [the difference between the low range estimate of 1.5 C and the high range estimate of 4.5 C] in the global surface temperature response to increased [doubling] atmospheric CO2 expressed by ECS has persisted through the last three decades of research despite the significant intellectual effort that has been devoted to climate science.

    •What gives rise to the large uncertainties in this fundamental parameter of the climate system?

    •How is the IPCC’s expression of increasing confidence in the detection/ attribution/ projection of anthropogenic influences consistent with this persistent uncertainty?

    Wouldn’t detection of an anthropogenic signal necessarily improve estimates of the response to anthropogenic perturbations?

    Ocean Heat Content

    •Some have suggested that the “missing heat” is going into the deep ocean.

    •Why would the heat sequestration have “turned on” at the turn of this century [AD 2000]?

    •What could make it “turn off” and when might that occur?

    •Is there any mechanism that would allow the added heat in the deep ocean to reappear in the atmosphere?

    •Reliable climate hindcasts and projections therefore require that the state of the oceans (current, temperature, salinity …) be known well on long timescales. Yet, as illustrated in WG1 AR5 Figure 3.A.2, good observational coverage has been available for less than a decade. With uncertainty in ocean data being ten times larger than the total magnitude of the warming attributed to anthropogenic sources, and combined with the IPCC’s conclusion than it has less than 10% confidence that it can separate long-term trends from regular variability, why is it reasonable to conclude that increases in GMST are attributable to [anthropogenic] radiative forcing rather than to ocean variability?

    “Very High” Confidence?

    •The earth’s climate stems from a multi-component, driven, noisy, non-linear system that shows temporal variability from minutes to millennia. Instrumental observations of key physical climate variables have sufficient coverage and precision only over the past 150 years at best (and usually much less than that). Many different processes and phenomena will be relevant and each needs to be “gotten right” with high precision if the response to anthropogenic perturbations is to be attributed correctly and quantified accurately. Moreover, there are expected feedbacks (water vapor-temperature, ice-albedo, …) that would amplify the perturbative response by factors of several. How can one understand the IPCC’s expressed [95%] confidence in identifying and projecting the effects of such small anthropogenic perturbations in view of such difficult circumstances?

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  5. (Continued)

    Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity

    •A factor-of-three uncertainty [the difference between the low range estimate of 1.5 C and the high range estimate of 4.5 C] in the global surface temperature response to increased [doubling] atmospheric CO2 expressed by ECS has persisted through the last three decades of research despite the significant intellectual effort that has been devoted to climate science.

    •What gives rise to the large uncertainties in this fundamental parameter of the climate system?

    •How is the IPCC’s expression of increasing confidence in the detection/ attribution/ projection of anthropogenic influences consistent with this persistent uncertainty? Wouldn’t detection of an anthropogenic signal necessarily improve estimates of the response to anthropogenic perturbations?

    Ocean Heat Content

    •Some have suggested that the “missing heat” is going into the deep ocean.

    •Why would the heat sequestration have “turned on” at the turn of this century [AD 2000]?

    •What could make it “turn off” and when might that occur?

    •Is there any mechanism that would allow the added heat in the deep ocean to reappear in the atmosphere?

    •Reliable climate hindcasts and projections therefore require that the state of the oceans (current, temperature, salinity …) be known well on long timescales. Yet, as illustrated in WG1 AR5 Figure 3.A.2, good observational coverage has been available for less than a decade. With uncertainty in ocean data being ten times larger than the total magnitude of the warming attributed to anthropogenic sources, and combined with the IPCC’s conclusion than it has less than 10% confidence that it can separate long-term trends from regular variability, why is it reasonable to conclude that increases in GMST are attributable to [anthropogenic] radiative forcing rather than to ocean variability?

    “Very High” Confidence?

    •The earth’s climate stems from a multi-component, driven, noisy, non-linear system that shows temporal variability from minutes to millennia. Instrumental observations of key physical climate variables have sufficient coverage and precision only over the past 150 years at best (and usually much less than that). Many different processes and phenomena will be relevant and each needs to be “gotten right” with high precision if the response to anthropogenic perturbations is to be attributed correctly and quantified accurately. Moreover, there are expected feedbacks (water vapor-temperature, ice-albedo, …) that would amplify the perturbative response by factors of several. How can one understand the IPCC’s expressed confidence in identifying and projecting the effects of such small anthropogenic perturbations in view of such difficult circumstances?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm the author of the two Physics Today Online (PTOL) "Science and the Media" columns cited here--one on the Koonin WSJ piece and one on accusations against NdGT. Although I'm 14 months late in coming across your posting, it seems worth clarifying anyway that:
    * I certainly was not "basically endorsing" anything either way about the Koonin WSJ piece. When it appeared, I immediately recognized that PTOL readers would want to know about it. For context, I made a point of explaining who Koonin is.
    * My columns don't appear in the paper magazine. They appear in PTOL.So the two in question were not "in the same issue."
    * The American Physical Society has nothing to do with PT or PTOL. The publisher is actually the American Institute of Physics. It's easy to learn the difference between these closely allied organizations via Google.
    Thanks.
    Steve Corneliussen
    http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/magazine/physicstoday/news/science-and-the-media

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