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Denial Denial

The counterfactual is here. Can we measure it?
  [vote for,

Woke up this morning to the sounds of song birds in the trees and found myself thinking: as we are doing so little driving this spring, are we prepared for the coming explosion in possum and deer populations? No doubt the coming baby boom is already being factored into actuarial equations.

But it seems a very important, and useful side effect of this shit show is the large scale economic stop and the corresponding massive drop in pollution, as illustrated by various smog maps over China, the US and the rest of the world.

That being the case, and remembering that Pinatubo's explosion, as a for instance, reportedly slowed warming down meaningfully in the previous 20 years, someone out there out to be able to do a conclusive scientific study over the impact on climate. Not that shut down is even remotely a realistic option -- but this kind of prolonged tampdown of human economic activity -- you better be able to show it in the data.

theircompetitor, Mar 28 2020

Huaynaputina https://en.wikipedi...g/wiki/Huaynaputina
A big volcano you've never heard of. [8th of 7, Mar 28 2020]

Relevant http://www.realclim...rite-denial-tricks/
[RayfordSteele, Mar 28 2020]


       If anyone could get outside or go to the lab to take measurements, that is.   

       During the flight shutdown after 9/11 they did mention how the skies got noticeably clearer for a bit, so yes, I hope for a large environmental silver lining.
RayfordSteele, Mar 28 2020

       oh pollution is obviously better -- I want to see impact on climate models
theircompetitor, Mar 28 2020

       // Pinatubo's explosion, as a for instance, reportedly slowed warming down meaningfully in the previous 20 years, //   

       Huaynaputina released more CO2 and SO2 in ten days than has been saved by all the Kyoto reductions. Hands up who's heard of Huaynaputina ?   


       No-one knows why the last couple of ice ages started or ended. No-one's quantified the CO2 released from the deep mid-ocean seeps, only that it's gigantic, dwarfing human activity, and could cause a Lake Nios type "overturn" event on an oceanic scale ...   

       "Nobody knows ... "?   

       <Proffers application form for lavish research grant/>
8th of 7, Mar 28 2020

       // // Huayawhatzit? //   

       Pre-cisely ...   

       Tambora was geologically very different. A Plinian eruption throws up more ash particulates; but it's the sulphur aerosols that cause the longer term cooling. Krakatau is another good case.   

       A longer, smaller eruption can emit less magmatic material but more gas - that has bigger climatic consequences.
8th of 7, Mar 28 2020

       Volcanoes are gigantic releases.   

       But they are infrequent. Humanity is the leaky toilet that runs up the water bill.
RayfordSteele, Mar 28 2020

       I have never seen evidence for climate change denial. Sure, there are some celebrities and journalists who claim that climate change deniers are a real thing, but those celebs and journos have no credibility in mainstream media outlets. I think that the possibility of there existing humans who deny climate change is being talked up by people and institutions who stand to make money either from the existence of climate change denial, or who hope to profit from fighting against climate change denial.   

       There is no such thing as climate change denial! You are being conned if you think there is!
pocmloc, Mar 28 2020

       There is no basis for denying climate change, because climate is a huge, chaotic*, weakly-bounded dynamic system where change is inherent, on micro and macro levels.   


       The question "To what extent are currently observed climate dynamics influenced by human behavior" is unanswered. There is no predictive model. The essential for a proof of a hypothesis is a predictive model.   

       There are excellent predictive models for gravitation, electromagnetic phenomena, and particulate radiation. Some are necessarily statistical but for a sufficiently large sample they are a good fit and of practical value.   

       "Climate change" models are based on a very small direct (< 200 years) data set, patchy and of poor quality. Few Antarctic observations before 1900, for example. Older data has to be inferred from secondary sources - ice cores, dendrochronology, sediments - with all the potential errors that implies.   

       We're still waiting for an answer to "Why did the last ice age start and end ?"   

       // Humanity is the leaky toilet that runs up the water bill. //   

       But is it ? There is evidence. Accumulation of evidence is not proof. Proof demands a predictive model.   

       To send a spacecraft to your moon demands an accurate predictive model. Since you have successfully sent numerous spacecraft to your moon, this gives a very high factor of confidence that the predictive model is acceptability accurate, otherwise the missions would have failed.   

       Where is the predictive model for climate ? Not a graph of observations; a model that will withstand peer review, challenge, and application.   


       *In the rigorous mathematical sense.
8th of 7, Mar 28 2020

       If the model is truly as doubtful as the insufferable denier community claims, there is insufficient time to develop a perfect model. That is the issue.   

       The scientists who study ice cores are well aware of tolerance banding, error bars, interpolation, and imperfections in modeling.   

       If I were one of them, I'd be bloody fucking annoyed with folk who second-guess them with moronic statements that imply they haven't considered the basics of data collection in their theses. Have you had your pointy hair sharpened lately? Because this behavior is very much like th PHB standing behind Dilbert telling him to move his mouse around.   

       Seeing some badly-replaced divots where the goalposts used to be.
RayfordSteele, Mar 28 2020

       // insufferable denier community //   

       Do you discriminate between "climate change denier" and "anthropogenic climate change skeptic" ?   

       Is it not a fundamental tenet of the scientific method to question everything and require reproducibility and consistency as fundamental conditions of acceptance ?   

       We do not deny climate change, quite the reverse. It is a provable fact, subject to the most rigorous tests available.   

       We ask that a rigorous proof, capable of withstanding intense scrutiny, be presented for anthropogenic climate change. Is that - within scientific methodology - in some way unreasonable ?   

       // there is insufficient time to develop a perfect model //   

       Aha !   

       Is there sufficient time and resource to develop a useful model ? How much or little is "insufficient time" ?   

       At the moment there is no published, available model that comes close to being able to predict behaviour based on the known facts.   

       Are you in favour of taking action without proof ? Isn't that "vigilante justice" or "lynch law" ?   

       Is there a climate model that could be accepted as evidence in a civil court ? That's only asking for the "balance of probabilites" test, not the "beyond reasonable doubt" standard of criminal law. That's a "standard of proof" that the majority of people can probably understand and accept. It's a standard in widespread use across the planet.   

       We're not criticising the standards of data collection. We're not criticising the methodology. What we're pointing out is that the direct data set is small, fragmentary, and of variable quality and the indirect data set, while much larger, has consequent error bounds; while you can definitively obtain temperature data for New York City for 12:00 on 23 May 1931, you can't do the same for New York City (or rather, its geographic location) for 12:00 on 23 May 1133. You can make an estimate for the northern hemisphere average Spring temperature for 1133; that's about it.   

       So you're going from 365 data points with known error bounds per location per year, down to one data point per hemisphere per year. Temperatures were probably recorded in 100 major cities across the planet are probably available, so that's 36,500 data points as opposed to ... one; with much bigger error bounds.   

       Is it coincidence that the start of the alleged upward trend in temperature coincides closely with the development of accurate and plentiful temperature measuring devices, and the keeping of records therefrom ? That's just a provocative wind-up by the way; Heisenbergian "observation affecting the thing observed" is almost invalid at the macro scale*. The development of accurate scientific instrumentation, available in quantity and at affordable prices, was of necessity concurrent with the development of energy technology. Steam engines and gas works cannot be run safely without thermometers and pressure gauges**.   

       Is the uptick in measured temperatures related to the heat-island effect of industrialised cities, because the majority of readings will no doubt come from major population centres ? (Of course it has; any researcher with an understanding of bias factors would apply a suitable correction. But some might not ask that question)   

       The point about "not enough time" is an excellent one, but if you once open the door to making public policy decisions with huge social and economic consequences in the absence of reliable proof, where do you stop ?   

       (Well, at the end of the war, probably.) .   

       *There are real-world situations; one is a kiln where the act of opening the door to measure the temperature actually changes the temperature. The answer is to buy a slightly better kiln with an integral thermocouple.   

       **They can be run, but not for long.
8th of 7, Mar 28 2020

       //if you once open the door to making public policy decisions with huge social and economic consequences in the absence of reliable proof//   

       Wait a minute - when was that door ever closed? Haven't governments been doing precisely that for most of recorded history?
pertinax, Mar 29 2020

       Shut up, you're already on the "clever one, to be watched closely" list. Don't make it any worse for yourself.   

       Of course you're quite right. We're merely indulging in a little sparring with [Ray], in an unusually civilized and non-denigratory way. We're saving up the abuse, insults and ad-hominem arguments in case he shows signs of winning.
8th of 7, Mar 29 2020

       Here's another one ....   

       Arthur Conan-Doyle had Sherlock Holmes say "It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.".   


       What is known ?   

       1. Human activity is releasing carbon dioxide.
2. Planetary temperatures are rising.
3. The graphs for temperature rise and carbon release coincide.


       1. The temperature in a room is rising.
2. More people are entering the room.
3. The graphs for temperature rise and number of people coincide.

       What conclusions can be drawn ?   

       The obvious conclusion is "The people in the room are causing the rise in temperature".   

       Other than the coincidence of graphs, what proof is there of this hypothesis ?   

       Possible hypotheses are:   

       1. Heat emitted by the people is causing the temperature rise.
2. The first person entering the room turned the heating on.
3. The sun is shining through the window, heating the room
4. The temperature outside is very high; each person entering admits more hot air.

       In only one of these four cases is the temperature rise directly attributable to the people. Number 2 is indirect, and could be independent of the people if the heating is on a timer; Number 3 is entirely independent of the people; Number 4 is a consequence of the people entering, not of their presence.   

       No-one can deny the room is getting warmer. That is a fact. It is possible by further observation and analysis to show which mechanism (or a combination thereof, or some other undisclosed mechanism) is responsible.   

       Why should not such analysis be carried out before action is taken ?   

       What if you shoo all the people out and close the door, yet the temperature continues to rise ?   

       History is full of instances of humans making mistaken decisions on the basis of limited or incorrect data, and unjustifiable assumptions.
8th of 7, Mar 29 2020

       can we stick to the topic :) The bottom line is, we have such a shit show that human activity is drastically reduced and who knows probably will be for 6 months or more. I want a study to prove that this in fact had a noticeable effect on global temps.
theircompetitor, Mar 29 2020

       Undoubtedly there will be measureable changes. You are correct that a study to quantify them will be useful.   

       Whether that will fully answer the questions concerning the origins of long term temperature trends is a quite different issue, as the change is likely to be too small and short-term to be meaningful. While vehicle use has decreased somewhat, electricity generation will be less affected, indeed some areas of demand may rise.   

       Climate cycles operate over geologic timescales; trying to draw conclusions from the impact of a short term event which needs to be averaged into long term trends to be meaningful is not a statistically valid technique.   

       And there will still be no climate model capable of rigorous proof; only correlations.   

       A wearying repetition of a much asked yet still unanswered question: "Why did the last ice age start and end" ? There were proto-hominids alive at the time, it's not long ago ...
8th of 7, Mar 29 2020

       //a noticeable effect on global temps//   

       Surely, at best, such a study could only show an effect on the first derivative of global temps and, because of the jaggedness of the curve, even that would not be visible unless the shutdown lasted for, say, ten years, which is not going to happen.
pertinax, Mar 30 2020

       We said that in the second paragraph of our annotation. Please, do try to keep up.
8th of 7, Mar 30 2020

       Sp: someone out there "ought"
Skewed, Mar 30 2020

       Thousands of people are seriously ill, and you're pedantically quibbling about a spelling mistake ?   

       Yes, of course, jolly good. Well done, carry on....
8th of 7, Mar 30 2020

       It's displacement activity, I really feel jolly bad about it all, honest [crosses fingers & glances at ceiling while whistling]
Skewed, Mar 30 2020

       I no longer discriminate between the anthropogenic climate change skeptic and the climate change denier. They bow to the same Mad Magazine character as god. Both are insufferable as far as I'm concerned because we've had this conversation a host of times and what comes up is a bunch of whataboutism that has no end when from my perspective we clearly have a deadline to meet.   

       Unless I'm very much mistaken it's all academic for you whether the world becomes unlivable in 40 years or 100-- you have no real skin in the game. I do. For me, the risk- reward scenario is rather extreme, and in seemingly all other cases given an 85% chance or so of it becoming an absolute nightmare, most people would choose the safer option. If I'm wrong we'll have spent a lot of money becoming more efficient. If I'm right, we're dragging our feet, and my children are quite fucked. So I don't really care if the I's are insufficiently dotted to satisfy the unsatisfiable.   

       How much time is insufficient to develop a useful model? I would suggest the narrowest timeframe of when a reasonably-vetted graphical model shows us to be largely screwed.   

       Extrapolation is a reasonable thing given enough data points marching in the same direction to show a strong correlation.   

       //There is no predictive model.//   

       Did you ask around lately? How are you so certain? Did they fail to register their predictive model into the official Borg Collective science database? Consider me skeptical that an alien computer scientist is up on the latest climate papers.   

       Ice core data errors are factored in I'm quite sure.   

       //why did the last ice age end//   

       Earth tilt variation. Someone sneezed and we wobbled a bit. I'd show you the camcorder video of when it happened but my battery died during that particular time-travel episode and there was no 120VAC plug yet for several thousand years.   

       //Is the uptick in measured temperatures related to the heat-island effect of industrialised cities, because the majority of readings will no doubt come from major population centres//   

       Your assumption, and one that's addressed on rudimentary discussion sites, even the Wikipedia entry on urban heat islands talks about it briefly.   

       Concerning the next 6 months or so:   

       Our activity level is a bit decreased, but I doubt it's as much as you think, [tc]. We're still consuming a fair bit of power and food, still producing concrete, and those 3 combined are a sizable portion of our global footprint.
RayfordSteele, Mar 30 2020

       // How are you so certain? Did they fail to register their predictive model into the official Borg Collective science database? Consider me skeptical that an alien computer scientist is up on the latest climate papers. //   

       Well, we are. All the stuff that comes out of NOAA, ESA, and a host of other reputable sources. We run automated searches and read the abstracts of papers, and if it's not behind a paywall we download the full document.   

       Our particular interest is volcanology, not directly global temperature, but there's a huge crossover, hence the interest in and knowledge of deep-ocean gas seeps.   

       You want to debate the 1250 event, the Laki fissure, Toba, ice cores, dendrochronology, the Bronze Age Collapse ? Got it all. Same data set.   

       Good point about axial tilt, which ties in with tectonics, but the Milankovitch cycles seem to be more significant.   

       We genuinely study this stuff. All the hard sums, with all proper decimal points and everything, even our own component vector models. Not as pretty as grid models because they don't automatically yield (false-colour) graphics, but you can run them a lot faster and more flexibily which means more goes per Teraflop; and the methodology is derived from hydrodynamic simulations of gadgets, so is well validated against real-world results.
8th of 7, Mar 30 2020

       Well what are you doing here? You should be publishing some grandiose paper throwing rocks at the established community for all of the errors you've found. Or...?
RayfordSteele, Mar 30 2020

       We've pointed out the issues privately. Amazingly, the researchers seem so enamoured of their pet theories that they don't seem keen on hearing criticism, and of course that's after their papers have popped up in peer-reviewed journals.   

       Did someone mention "confirmation bias" ?   

       What do you know of Alfred Wegener? No googling or Wikipedia allowed....
8th of 7, Mar 30 2020

       The two are actually interrelated, more closely than you might think.   

       Look at the links between glacial rebound and volcanism. Iceland is a particularly important example. Glacial rebound triggers eruptions; eruptions release S02 and C02 and ash. These cause cooling ...   

       As ice retreats, the crust flexes. The plate movement patterns are modified. Eruptivity is modified. Volcanic emissions affect ice - either by melting (ash at high latitudes increases absorbtion) or by deposition (SO2 aerosols in the stratosphere increase albedo, decreases temperature but likewise decreases precipitation).   

       Yes, we have drafted a paper as [Ray] suggests ...   

       If people are truly interested we will make a blog page and dump our bookmarks to it, but only if readers are prepared to put in the serious effort to slog through the references. Sorry, can't give you the source code for the vector models.
8th of 7, Mar 30 2020

       Wegener... let's see, German guy from somewhere yesteryear, camped out in Greenland before it was hip, invented the whole ice core sample science, put some meat to the Africa-South America North America puzzle piece brain teaser. That guy?   

       Good scientists handle criticism fairly well. What was their real response?
RayfordSteele, Mar 30 2020

       Genuine lollage at "anthropogenic climate change skeptic".
calum, Mar 30 2020

       Yes, that Herr Wegener. Sadly, failed to return from his last Greenland expedition, and his work was ignored for forty years until Wilson discovered the slip-strike faults and the mid-ocean rift spreading centres. And then the pole-reversal "zebra-stripes"   

       Subsequently proved to be spot on after decades of being mocked as a heretic.   

       Their genuine response is a polite you-can't-possibly-know -better-we've-been-in- this-field-for-decades -and-are-experts. Very much "Not invented here" and "plasma hydrodynamic methods can't possibly map to macroscopic long-timescale events". Squelch.   

       Now, go and read up on the coupling between glacial recession and crustal rebound, and the prevalence of shallow-focus intraplate earthquake swarms (New Madrid Seismic Zone). Then consider the potential for marine earthquake swarms to potentiate methane clathrate destabilization and the consequences of an oceanic scale overturn event, given that methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.   

       What happened after the Carboniferous? Where did all the carbon go ? MUF* ...   

       You will be asked questions later.   

       *MUF, not Moff. Peter Cushing has left the Death Star. MUF is "Material Unaccounted For", the civil nuclear equivalent of a Broken Arrow. The difference between what you seem to have, and what the paperwork says you have**. A surplus is mildly embarrassing, but manageable. It's ever so easy to mislay stuff, particularly in a secretive working environment where others don't Need To Know. Anything smaller than a reactor core can generally be put somewhere inconspicuous until it becomes Somebody Else's Problem. But a shortfall is always distressing....   

       ** In the event of any discrepancy between the paperwork and reality, the paperwork is always right. There's no military option of just blowing it up "accidentally" and then saying "Oooops... "
8th of 7, Mar 30 2020

       Yes, methane's contribution and cyclic model is understudied and underwater volcanic activity could release a lot of it. Is that what you want me to say? So doomsday is sooner yet?
RayfordSteele, Mar 30 2020

       At least we agree that not all carbon sources are unambiguously quantfied. Chemoautotrophc bacteria munch the methane for energy and there are lots of them. Lots and lots. There's a gigantic, anaerobic ecosystem down there, almost unknown.   

       It's not another doomsday scenario and Bruce Willis doesn't need to get his diving gear on yet. It's more that the existing climate change brigade are so convinced they're right that they are more than a bit blinkered about other non-obvious factors that have the potential to radically change the picture if properly understood.   

       You're trying to understand gigantic, chaotic systems where tiny inputs and variations in starting conditions produce wildly different outcomes. There are too many glib assumptions made so that the models fit the current outcomes. With a crystal of HMX, you can control the starting conditions pretty tightly, yet the variations are still horrendous, and the entire system can be observed as it detonates. It's as big as a fist, and you need huge resources to map its behaviour. How well the hockey stick graph fits depends on the position of the shaft. The head is tiny compared to the length of the shaft, that means to make it line up neatly you need a very narrow range of starting conditions.   

       "Head" - 200 years deep. "Shaft" - 10000 years long (end of last Ice Age, climatic optimum). 50:1 ratio just back to the last inflexion point?   

       Set it up physically with a metre ruler, supported 20mm from one end. Then see how much you need to change the starting conditions for a tiny change in outcome.
8th of 7, Mar 30 2020

       They don't munch the CO2 though, noticeably. The ocean seems to achieve its new more acidic equilibrium with the atmosphere regardless, no?   

       And that's a whole nuther set of problems...   

       I would be curious as to ocean CO2 levels in 6 months.
RayfordSteele, Mar 30 2020

       Yes. But it's a Black Swan, a gap in knowledge of unknown significance. What are all the factors in oceanic acidity and CO2 load?   

       How many people died because physicians had a theory that draining off excess blood was good ? It was done for literally thousands of years, and these were, by the standards of their time, intelligent educated people, acting from benign motives, not malice. Unfortunately the theory was almost totally wrong.   

       Now you have another theory being proclaimed with almost messianic devotion in some quarters, and it's only a few decades old and the high priests are gabbling the liturgy as they go along.   

       What happened to reasonable doubt?   

       Do we agree on the following:   

       1. Planetary climate is a dynamic, chaotic system in a state of constant change.
2. Human actions affect the climate.
3. The significance of human actions on climat is not yet quantified.
4. The significance of natural processes on climate is not yet quantified.
5. Not all natural processes on climate may yet have been identified, let alone understood.
6. The extent and quality of the data set is much smaller than desireable.
8th of 7, Mar 30 2020

       Some say the world will end in fire
Some say in ice
The world, though, absolutely doesn’t give a fuck how
Or even if

       We are experiencing a real black swan, and a real crisis. Even if warming is a real crisis, and even if very poor planning will get us closer to the edge than we should, that curve is much much flatter that what is happening now. So there is in fact meaningful time.   

       Or does someone here care to enter a blatantly idiotic prediction that a cold virus would shut down the economy for six months to a year?
theircompetitor, Mar 31 2020

       You'd better post a link to "Blatantly Idiotic Predictions for 2Q 2020"....   

       And it's not a Black Swan, it's a Dragon King; a foreseeable but rare event with disproportionate consequences.   

       Black Swans are unforeseen - considered impossible - then rationalized in hindsight. Plate tectonics is a perfect example. Continents don't move... but then it turns out that actually yes, they do, and it explains (geologically) almost everything...
8th of 7, Mar 31 2020

       //Just let our healthcare system continue such as it is and a slightly more aggressive variant of a cold should do the trick. — RayfordSteele, Mar 24 2018 [delete] //   

       Wow, [Ray] -- in my Radical 2028 ideas annotation list...
theircompetitor, Mar 31 2020

       Poor old reality, always scampering after the halfbakery, trying to catch up...
8th of 7, Mar 31 2020

       What's more, I've had the misfortune of having been downsized or reorganized at least 16 times in my life, 14 of which the companies had very significant stock losses or even surprise financial collapses within roughly a quarter thereafter. 'Tis my lot in life to be a harbinger of doom I guess.   

       I don't agree with your item #3. We have zeroed in on the impact of human activity upon the climate to at least the level of order of magnitude.
RayfordSteele, Mar 31 2020

       //What happened to reasonable doubt? //   

       Reasonable doubt is the standard of proof in criminal trials.   

       I accept your 6 points. Nevertheless, on the balance of probabilities (the standard of proof in civil trials), continuing the roll-out of solar, wind, grid-scale storage, etc., seems like a prudent idea.
pertinax, Mar 31 2020


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