New warmist spin: IPCC deserves ‘credit for acknowledging uncertainty… means science is working the way it should’

Physicist Mark Buchanan writes at Bloomberg:

Scientists can’t say for sure that humans are the cause of global climate change. They’re still a little uncertain, and that’s a good thing. It means the science is working the way it should.

A well-educated friend of mine, a climate-change skeptic, once told me that he didn’t believe anything coming out of the big computer models that scientists use to reason about the complex nonlinear feedbacks driving the Earth’s climate system. He has a point: Researchers are doing the best they can in the midst of great complication and uncertainty.

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10 thoughts on “New warmist spin: IPCC deserves ‘credit for acknowledging uncertainty… means science is working the way it should’”

  1. What choice do they have? Things are falling apart. It’s best to acknowledge uncertainty, claim you always did and were misunderstood by the media and hope you can keep your day job. It’s not necessarily sincere, just the one hope of not losing your very lucrative job and looking like a fool.

  2. Being a bit of a paranoid myself, I need to do a reality check once in a while. Reminds me of the old saw, “never attribute to malice, what can be adequately explained by incompetence”.

    I think there is also an underlying mind set in the whole global warming movement. Many have been brought up with a world view that man is a destroyer of worlds, be it through population, warfare, or pollution. So when someone comes along with a man-made apocalypse scenario, it doesn’t take much persuading for them to buy in on the deal without prudent skepticism. A reinforcement of pre-existing but unacknowledged bias.

  3. I was raised by hardline conspiracy theorists, so I try to temper my paranoia. With regards to agenda, there are three undeniable facts that must be taken into consideration.

    1) All media is driven by ratings so the sensational will always trump the unremarkable.
    2) No politician has ever risen to power by saying “Everything is fine, and I won’t change a thing.”
    3) The bigger a mistake gets, the fewer people are willing to admit they made it. This is especially true if that admission means an end to financial gain, public notoriety, and professional respect.

    I don’t believe a group of powerful people got together in the seventies and said “This is how we’re going to conquer the world”. But I don’t doubt a lot of professional opportunists seized an opportunity simultaneously. It’s not a conspiracy, it’s a consensus.

  4. GH05T, you have addressed the problem we skeptics have with computer modeling. Climatologists always bristle when people point out that we can’t even predict local weather better than a coin toss more than 48 hours out, so how can you predict the climate for decades and centuries out? The pet response is “climate is not weather”. I have some argument with this statement per se, but I’ll let it stand for now.

    What the warming community glosses over is that both weather and climate modeling require complex equation matrices, with multiple variables, where weighting factors and feedback mechanisms are statistical estimates. The weather service has at it’s disposal some of the highest computing power in existence and over a century of research, yet they are wrong more often than not, trying to predict just three days out.

    Unfortunately, for the weathermen, their mistakes are borne out even in the shortest of attention spans. And fortunately for climatologists, no one is planning their outdoor reception for 2052, and even if they were, they’ll be retired before the hate mail rolls in.

    This has always been one of my biggest complaints about climatology and why I am certain that climatology is agenda, not science, driven. Educated people should understand the inherent uncertainty of complex phenomena. I don’t do research for a living, but I’ve been steeped in this tenet all my adult life, and accept it as a basic critereon. The fact that professional researchers try to hide or dismiss this uncertainty to the general population seems shady at least,.That researchers in other disciplines accept the uncertainty principle, while climatologists seemingly do not, should raise some flags. It’s not without reason that we skeptics believe that agenda trumps science in the climate community.

  5. “Researchers are doing the best they can in the midst of great complication and uncertainty.”

    No, researchers are waging a losing battle against the laws of nature. Climate is a chaotic system. Even if we did know all the variables and their precise impacts, even if we did have computers that were even close to capable of running that many calculations per second, our measurements will never be precise enough to perfectly match actual initial conditions. The model projection will quickly depart from actual conditions and by the time we’re looking at 100 years out, any similarity between the model and the real world would have more to do with luck than science.

    Easily predictable Newtonian determinism is extraordinarily rare in the real universe. Early success with astronomy (which still took hundreds of years of real world observations to iron out) gave physicists false hope of creating one grand unifying equation of everything. The question is whether climate science is really populated by hopeful fools who are unaware of the limitations of modern computers, measurement equipment, and even our current knowledge, or are they just banking on their audience being the fools?

  6. Any retreat from “the science is settled” and skeptics are “flat-earthers” is considerable success considering the concerted effort of the left, environmentalists, the government, the media, and ingenuous academics to stamp out all argument.

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