The headline was prompted by JF's tribalism: Frankie, anyone? Incidentally, translations of the cryptic references are available on request, if you find them too cryptic.

To understand this (if you really want to) you need to read http://climatesci.atmos.colostate.edu/?p=36#comments by RP; and JF's post ref'd above. Note, BTW, that RP has removed some of the comments from his blog (even James Annan gets rubbed out, along with the wackos), which explains why the comments refer to comments that don't exist and why the numbering is all wrong. Argh!

So: JF complains that I'm being too tribal in being interested in an answer to the question do you think most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities?. It seems a fair enough question to me. And presumably to RP too, since he answered it "I do". I asked it because I thought his previous answers were ambiguous (and in the end the question turns out to be ambiguous too: see lower down). And other people thought so too, because several people commented on his blog (sadly those comments now seem to have been deleted) that the question I asked was unreasonable; or that RP had said the answer was no (I wish the comments were there so I could quote them rather than rely on memory). Those comments weere of course proved quite wrong, when RP *did* answer the question. And I'm reminded of a wise comment by James Annan, with ref to a post where RP Jr made it quite obvious that he accepts the IPCC consensus, that its very amusing to see the pain ond outrage on the part of the septic ditto-heads when they see such unambiguous statements, because they really thought that RP Jr was on their side. Now that simply isn't possible without some dense and/or ambiguous language (the septics are dumb, yes, but not totally so).

Now for myself, I'm quite happy to accept the IPCC consensus position (slightly updated with post-TAR research, e.g. the most recent MSU stuff) and don't feel any need to have my own position. RP Sr *does* have his own position, and... well, read his blog to find out what it is: thats part of what its for. Starting here perhaps... I got a bit lost in the maze of responses to Andy Revkin. RPs Sr's position is in fact at variance with the IPCC one, because although he agrees on the human influence (see above) he doesn't agree on the cause: which shows that far from questioning too much, I stopped too soon: because Is most of the observed warming over the last 50 years likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations gets a far more nuanced response from him. Since I agree with the IPCC response, I disagree with RP Sr's nuances, and would simply answer the question with "yes".


James Annan said...

I have a full set of comments (from my cache). I'm tempted to post the original page somewhere - it might be a bit rude, but so is arbitrarily censoring stuff that you are embarassed by. "Constructive science comments on this blog are welcome", but apparently he won't allow any attempt to clarify his ducking, weaving and ambiguity.

Anonymous said...

James, please do keep the comments on record. It was a real treat to see those septics ("At last, a real scientist to give us aid and comfort!") get their comeuppance.

I thought that remaining comment of mine was one of the more artful Bahner rejoinders of recent times, but with Bahner's comment deep-sixed it'll just leave any fresh readers scratching their heads. Also now I've got to deal with survivor guilt. :)

Regarding RP Sr.'s approach to the IPCC consensus, it seems like he's making the perfect the enemy of the good. Sure it would be nice to incorporate a complete understanding of land use impacts into the models, and yes they would then be more accurate, but is there anything to indicate that this would change fundamental conclusions about the leading role of GHGs? His other emphasis on wanting the models to fully reflect regional trends seems even worse in that it could be decades before these trends can be nailed down very well.

William M. Connolley said...

Due to the generosity of an just and anonymous donor (who we could call JA for short, I suppose...), the comments are now at http://www.wmconnolley.org.uk/20050831.txt.

William M. Connolley said...

Re SB's comment: "the perfect the enemy of the good" is a good phrase, and I agree with that. In science terms, there is no problem at all in saying what he says about attribution. But pushing those views forward in the way that he expresses them in public is not so helpful, because they will inevitably be misinterpreted.

I also don't understand/agree with his views, along the lines again of what SB has said. What he appears to be saying is "yes GHGs are important, but then so are other things like land use change". The problem with that is not only that it gets "misreported" (RP Sr says climate change isn't mostly due to GHGs!) but also that its very hard to see where he gets to that position from the state of the science. As I understand it (and I wrote a little-noticed review of his "Human impacts on weather and climate" for Weather years back) he thinks land use changes are important, but difficult to quantify. So I see no basis for saying that they are likely to be comparable in magnitude to GHG forcing. The current (TAR, and nothing much new beyond) state seems to be that we can account for global T change over the past century fairly well with GHGs, aerosols, volcanoes and a bit of solar. If land use changes *were* important, then some of that would have to be wrong. Its possible, of course, but I don't see any good basis for pushing a poorly quantified effect when better quantified effects explain the obs.

In fact the main reason appears to be that its his research area, and he thinks that the nuances involved aren't getting enough attention. Everyone likes to push their own research forward of course, but its perfectly clear that the nuances of what he is trying to say are far too nuanced for public debate, which is where he is putting his stuff.

Dano said...

You have to understand that JF supports RP's pushing the envelope and that pushing is a good thing (I'm a JF fan). I think if you upset both sides you are probably doing something correct, but I too think RP is too assiduous in his bobbing and weaving, FWIW.


Anonymous said...

Another entry in the RP Sr. "mysteries of climate science" category is his project of photographing the instrument stations. Apparently he thinks that factors like proximity to other structures might be creating a heretofore-unquantified bias. Given the manner in which the UHI hypothesis was euthanized, I really don't see this leading to anything meaningful. The land use stuff is at least real.

William M. Connolley said...

I would say that photographing the instrument stations is a good idea (does he do this? where?) as a general principle, though ideally you'd want a long term photo record not just starting from now.

But the UHI does seem to be somewhat dead at the moment, with Peterson and Parker published and (AFAIK) no-one caring to argue back at them.

Anonymous said...

What everyone is missing is that RPSr is a state climatologist in the US as is Pat Michaels. As a group they are not very friendly to climate modeling and very oriented towards record keeping.

Eli Rabett

Anonymous said...

Hey, Eli, *I* knew that. And yeah, they are a stodgy crowd. Alabama's is John Christy! The have a website donated by NOAA: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/aasc.html . The linked statement on global warming, which is kind of dated, is more or less what you might expect from a collaboration between Michaels, Christy and RP Sr.

The photos: It's not just pictures, it's a whole paper that throws the entire surface reord into question!!! Read it and weep: http://ccc.atmos.colostate.edu/pdfs/BAMS_Davey&Pielke_Apr05.pdf . I have to say I really hadn't realized until now what an unattractive place Eastern Colorado is.

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