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#95- What You Need To Know About Climate Change A Conversation with Joseph Romm

 
archipaul
 
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archipaul
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25 September 2017 04:32
 
GAD - 24 September 2017 11:41 PM

There is nothing wrong with forums like this, it’s a matter of perspective. You can view them as people meeting at a pub and talking about their views and opinions over a beer or like being in court where everything is formal, PC and perceptions are as important as much as facts. You’ll have a lot more fun going with the former.

 

Fair enough. You and I are not looking to engage in the same way. I completely take your pub analogy and that makes a lot of sense. I have never been a lot of fun at bars, as you can imagine from my last post. smile

If you’ll permit me a couple of last words though - just to correct the record - I’ll leave you to drink in peace.

GAD - 24 September 2017 11:41 PM

The trouble here is you have an agenda and opinions that you want to sell that are difficult to sell and so you are trying to be sophisticated with your views. If you could sort every post here (and most forums I suspect) the top theme would be people telling other people that if they only thought/debated/argued correctly then they would see that they were right. The problem is that Pub people (like me, and most of the world) really don’t care enough to be convinced by much other then the brute force of facts, and even then only if we get something out of it.

The “brute force of facts” is a nice idea, but as topics get more complex and outside of each of our areas of expertise, that standard becomes more and more unworkable. The more complex and specialized a subject, the easier it is to be fooled by experts. The only thing I’m trying to sell (for free) is the idea that we can make a lot more progress sorting out our disagreements by being a bit methodical about it. I get that this idea will not appeal to everyone, and would especially bomb on the pub circuit, but for those that find themselves going around in the same circles over and over with one another who really care to make an effort to sort it out, I think I have some useful ideas about how to do that.

About me having an agenda and opinions that I want to sell - I’m assuming you are referring to my thoughts on the world’s poor and it being cruel to in any way limit their access to fossil fuel energy - that’s not an agenda. That’s a conclusion that seems almost obvious on its face to me. I’ve said I’m open to counter arguments - very much so in fact. But I find it incredibly annoying when people accuse each other of having agendas. My agenda is to figure this shit out. Period. Even around a bar table, acting as if can see through someone to their inner motivations is just bad manners. You don’t know me.

GAD - 24 September 2017 11:41 PM

You made a big claim about how much you care about the moral crime of denying people fossil fuels causing their starvation and mass death. When called on this you didn’t provide a single fact about these people, who they are, what and how they were denied or by whom. You simply rephrased it away as matter of improper debate

Again, bad pub manners here, or just maybe less than careful phrasing, but I’ll assume you’re not on your first beer and ignore that. What I did was clarify my position and express a willingness to defend it, simply asking you to do the same before I bothered. Pick a question and I’m more than happy to start putting the facts on the table (it’s not hard - try googling “energy poverty”).

Okay, I’ve said my piece. I’m fine agreeing that you and I are here for different things and leaving it at that. I object to you saying that you won’t debate me while also saying I have nothing to debate. I was simply saying “before we argue, let’s agree on what we’re going to argue about”. Hell, that might even work at a pub. Somehow, you seem to be interpreting that as a dodge.

From my perspective I squared up and said “Great, let’s do this! State a position, sir!”

And you said “Gee, it’s getting late….”

 

 

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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Jan_CAN
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25 September 2017 15:48
 

archipaul,

I also thought your video was well done.

I don’t have enough knowledge about this topic to participate, but would encourage you not to give up here at the SH Forum as you seem to me to be sincere and looking for constructive conversation and debate.

Jan

 
 
NorrisM
 
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25 September 2017 23:57
 

archipaul

Here it is 11:30 pm.  I had to finish your video.  Thank you for your incredible effort in putting this together.  Although we have heard that Sam does not read these threads because it would be so time consuming, I do hope that he would appreciate that anyone who spends that amount of time should be listened to.

I truly think you have it right that Sam Harris really has not spent a lot of time on this subject because he is only one person and can only spread himself so far.  As a result he has relied on others just as I did. When Neil DeGrassie Tyson says it is real, then how could it be otherwise?  Surely he would not lead us down the wrong path.

My real worry is that Sam has taken on so many controversial issues, such as the two “Murrays”, both Charles and Douglas, I worry that he just could not stand the firestorm if he were even to bring someone on the podcast to provide some balance.  I suspect that he too will be cowed by the Berkeley “type” crowd.  How dare he question the 97% consensus and give the “other side” even an opportunity to raise questions.  I obviously 100% agree with your comments on the “97% consensus” which, by the way, is only an analysis of papers on the subject and not a survey of specific climate scientists.  Various assumptions are made about what each paper really says.

As to this issue, I have in some respects resigned myself to just waiting (and hoping) that Scott Priutt, the new head of the EPA goes ahead with his plan of conducting a Red Team Blue Team analysis (televised?) of either the 2013 IPCC Group 1 Assessment (or the new National Climate Assessment close to completion) similar to what Steve Koonin conducted at the American Physical Society.  See my discussions above with mapadofu (sp?) on the APS panel review of their Climate Policy Statement which took place in 2014.  In my mind, that was the only time when both sides went “head to head”.  I have still not heard from mapadofu since I referenced to him some damning testimony in that panel review.  I only say “damning” only because when the IPCC climate scientists had their chance, they “dropped the ball”.  This Red Team Blue Team would give them the chance to convince the American public on the issues you have raised.  Take a look at the June 2016 Pew Research study of Americans on what they believe as to climate change.  Only about 30% of Americans who hold moderate political views (both liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats) believe that climate scientists understand the reasons for climate change.

On the ability of wind and solar power to replace fossil fuels, in 2015 Jacobson published a paper which supposedly laid out a plan for the US to convert fully to wind and power by 2050 (with hydro backup).  I remember reading a very detailed report in National Geographic supporting this study.  In June of this year, Clack (of the NOAA) and 22 other recognized climate economists published a paper (see Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences for a free copy) which is so critical of the assumptions made by Jacobson and miscalculations (I think overestimating backup hydro by about 10 times) that anyone now citing this Jacobson report would be laughed at.  Having said this, skepticalscience.com has not shown any desire to qualify their strong support of this Jacobson study notwithstanding my request that they do so.  Silence is golden.

In any event, as you have stated, the jury is out but it does make you wonder when the “consensus” side refuses to debate the issue.  They surely know that the only two public debates that I have heard about (in New York and Toronto) had the result that a significant portion of the audience had changed their mind by the end of the debate finding in favour of the skeptics.

 
GAD
 
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26 September 2017 01:32
 
archipaul - 25 September 2017 04:32 AM

[
The “brute force of facts” is a nice idea, but as topics get more complex and outside of each of our areas of expertise, that standard becomes more and more unworkable. The more complex and specialized a subject, the easier it is to be fooled by experts.

Interesting. So we should turn to amateurs on the internet instead… 

Pick a question and I’m more than happy to start putting the facts on the table (it’s not hard - try googling “energy poverty”).

I did, you still haven’t. And no I won’t do your research for you, I’m far to lazy for that, and besides I’d just be fooled by the experts anyways.

Lets go back to this.

archipaul - 24 September 2017 05:51 AM

I care about this topic a lot because I think people do really seem to overlook the cost side of this issue. I encourage anyone to volunteer to live on wind and solar for few months and really come to grips with the state of those technologies. This is what we are asking the poorest people in the world to do. We are asking people to keep starving, struggling, and dying in mass numbers today as part of the solution to this problem. Even if the words “solution” and “problem” in my previous sentence are incredibly well substantiated, that is a major moral issue. If those words are not well substantiated, this is a major moral crime. With stakes that high, I will not accept any derogatory label for insisting on a rational exploration of reasonable skeptical arguments. This is the idea behind the title of Alex Epstein’s book, “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels”.  The ability to present not just the scientific case but also the moral case in full light and understanding of the skeptical arguments, is why I think Epstein, Bjorn Lomborg, Matt Ridley, or Patrick Moore would be excellent first guests for Sam on this subject.

As far as I am aware fossil fuels are at nearly record low prices and at record high production and refined fossil fuels are a top US export and anyone in the world who wants them, gets them, period. Yet you claim great moral crimes are being committed to keep people starving, struggling, and dying in mass numbers. who are these people, where are these people, who is committing these crimes, you never give an answer, it’s been all evasion and obfuscation.  Best I can tell you believe that anyone who supports clean energy technologies over fossil energy is a criminal. I’ve got some bad news for you, hero, the criminals are going to win because there is no future for fossil fuels.

 

 

 
 
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26 September 2017 05:24
 
GAD - 26 September 2017 01:32 AM

Interesting. So we should turn to amateurs on the internet instead…

No, we should listen to credible counter arguments from credible experts and use careful, methodical thinking to analyse where and how they disagree. And we should not tolerate one set of experts just yelling “We have a concensus here!” and thereby ignoring all the credible experts that disagree with them. Because that’s a red flag.

More on all that here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPbMdAeJSiU

<Me>: Pick a question and I’m more than happy to start putting the facts on the table….

<You>: I did, you still haven’t…

No, you really didn’t. You’ve now challenged me several times on a statement I did not make. You keep setting up a strawman. I originally said that we are asking people to keep struggling, starving and dying today as part of the solution to this problem. Let me break down what I meant by that (which I think was pretty clear in context).

1. There are a lot of very poor people in the world today
2. Those people struggle, starve, and die due to that poverty
3. Cheap, reliable energy is a necessity for those people to escape poverty (the cheaper and more reliable the better, obviously, given their situation)
4. Fossil fuels provide the cheapest most reliable energy available on the planet today
5. Therefore, any effort to reduce availability and/or raise costs of fossil fuels exerts pressure in the direction of keeping those poor in their current state (struggling, starving, dying)

So, in order to address a problem that is predicted in the future, we are pursuing solutions that would ask poor people to continue struggling, starving, and dying today.

If you want to challenge any of my points 1-4 above, I’m happy to engage with you on those. If you challenge that the conclusion (5) does not follow from those points, I’m not sure I can help, because I think that’s just straight logic.

What I don’t want to do is begin arguing before you yourself have been clear on exactly what you wish to argue about and have stated your own position on it. That’s just a matter of efficiency on my part. By the way, I’m pretty pleased with how effective that’s been so far here, as I’ve saved a lot of time and you’ve really helped me confirm the utility of that approach. But I’d be even more pleased if you would simply state a clear question and a clear position so that we can focus in and deal with it.

Instead you say things like this…

GAD - 26 September 2017 01:32 AM

...you claim great moral crimes are being committed to keep people starving, struggling, and dying in mass numbers.

No. Please see premises 1-4 and conclusion 5 above. Those represent what I actually believe to be true. They are entirely consistent with my original statement that started all this, as well as my other posts. You continue to misconstrue what I have actually said and ask me to address your misconstrual. Whether or not there is a “great moral crime” hinges, as I originally clearly stated, on whether the conventional wisdom on climate change is correct with respect to substantiating the problem and the solution. I stand by all of that. Here’s an idea. Why not just accept my actual words and decide whether or not you want to challenge me on what I actually said? That would be respectful and maybe even productive.

GAD - 26 September 2017 01:32 AM

I’ve got bad news for you, hero….

Hmmm. I suspect you might be sarcastic there. That hurts… but it does remind me of a great joke - I think from Dave Attell. Growing up, I used to think my dad was a hero. But then I came to realize that he was just an average guy….who likes to dress up in a cape.

 
 
archipaul
 
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26 September 2017 05:29
 
Jan_CAN - 25 September 2017 03:48 PM

archipaul,

I also thought your video was well done.

I don’t have enough knowledge about this topic to participate, but would encourage you not to give up here at the SH Forum as you seem to me to be sincere and looking for constructive conversation and debate.

Jan

Thank you very, very, very… much. Sincerely. I wasn’t planning on giving up, but your encouragement is very much appreciated. smile

(Here’s that video Jan is talking about, in case anyone wonders: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPbMdAeJSiU)

 
 
archipaul
 
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26 September 2017 05:52
 
NorrisM - 25 September 2017 11:57 PM

archipaul

Here it is 11:30 pm.  I had to finish your video.  Thank you for your incredible effort in putting this together.  Although we have heard that Sam does not read these threads because it would be so time consuming, I do hope that he would appreciate that anyone who spends that amount of time should be listened to.

Thank you - I did put a lot of work into that and it’s very nice to hear this and other nice comments on it. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPbMdAeJSiU)

I completely agree with everything you said about Harris. It may be pie-in-the-sky to think he might turn his critical eye on to this subject in the way I wish he would. But at minimum, he should understand that echoing the 97% thing is just beneath him - which is why I did the video the way I did.  And who knows, once he goes down that path a little way, maybe he’ll be compelled to dive in. It truly is a fascinating topic.

As for any Trump-admin-inspired red team/blue team effort, I’m highly skeptical of anything good coming from that. It will be dismissed as political before anyone has ever had a chance to listen to it. Like the IPCC work, there will be a lot of detailed, interesting, low-level science, but in the end it will all be “summarized” for the public by political interests. Those interests will strawman each other, talk past each other, and never really engage the meat of the disagreements - because it’s almost always the case that one side or the other has a strong disincentive to do so.

The problems here from my perspective are complexity and bias, and red/blue doesn’t solve those. That’s what I’m trying to sort out with Project Archipelago - a methodical way to break down and analyze complex disagreements like these. I think we truly lack a workable forum for productive engagement on complex issues for a number of reasons. Conventional debate doesn’t work because there are too many logical threads going in too many directions. We need a way to allow each side to lay out their case in a structured way which forces each side to clearly define the questions and clearly state their positions up front, so that arguments can be focused properly.  And we need a scaffolding to structure the specific claims of each side - how they support or are supported by other claims, etc, so that interested people can follow the logic from claim to claim without being swamped by the complexity of the whole thing.

I think we’ve got a great start on this at Project Archipelago. I’m hoping some of you that are interested in arguing these issues at a deep level will check that out and give me your feedback.  http://www.projectarchi.com.

Thanks again, NorrisM!

 

 
 
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26 September 2017 06:57
 
archipaul - 24 September 2017 05:51 AM


Quick aside (just cause I haven’t noticed this discussed here yet). Did anyone else instantly question the idea that increasing the average global temperature must imply that the extremes move as well? Am I crazy in thinking you can subtly change the shape of a bell curve and get a different average without moving the ends at all? Or, for example, you could up the average temperature by attenuating the extremes on the cold end, while leaving the hot end completely alone? Is there some law of nature that forces a perfect normal distribution of temperature? The assumption that the curve of global temperature has to maintain it’s exact shape and just shift left or right is awfully simplistic, isn’t it? To see Harris just roll with that kind of thing in this podcast just kind of hurts, you know? Alright, aside aside.

 

What you propose is possible in principle but, to my knowledge, there are no strong indications that this kind of outcome, increased average temperature w/o significant increases at the high end, is going to occur.  What is a better representation than taking the curve of global temperature distribution and just shifting it to the right?

 
GAD
 
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26 September 2017 08:30
 
archipaul - 26 September 2017 05:24 AM

Hmmm. I suspect you might be sarcastic there. That hurts… but it does remind me of a great joke - I think from Dave Attell. Growing up, I used to think my dad was a hero. But then I came to realize that he was just an average guy….who likes to dress up in a cape.

That is a good one and it applies to so many people, especially on the internet.

So to recap, the claim that people are “starving, struggling, and dying in mass numbers” was generic and mundane and there are no “major moral crimes” being perpetrated against them by evil clean energy advocates. It was all just good theater and drama to get people to think about the wonders of cheap dirty fossil fuels and how much they will miss the smell when they are gone. Hell you might as well throw in clean coal and all the new IC engine technology that keeps coming out get us to 40MPG, that costs billions to develop and raises prices, a moral crime! 6MPG V8’s and clouds of choking gagging exhaust over our cities in the 70’s and 80’s was living the dream!

 

 
 
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26 September 2017 09:00
 

GAD, that wins the Most Bizarre Recap Ever award in my book.

I explained my statement in terms that are as clear as I possibly can imagine.

Your last post brought in a bunch of new stuff.  It implies a lot of questions and it implies positions on my part and yours, without clearly stating any of those things.

I will say briefly, because I can’t help myself, that the poor people I’m talking about would trade places with our 70s and 80s selves, smog or no smog, in less than a heartbeat.  Yes, from the perspective of a family who must choose which child to give up for adoption because there’s no longer enough room in their hut where they must sleep with their livestock at night, or millions of others lacking clean water, adequate food, physical security, basic health care, etc, etc, all of which depend on cheap reliable energy… from those perspectives, we were indeed living the dream in the 70s and 80s.  Your comments make it clear that you have no sense of what real poverty, and real energy poverty, look like.

But all these areas of discussion are far too complicated to undertake in the style of communication you’re insisting on.  And for you to say that my concerns are mundane is simply insulting. I’ve given you the benefit of the doubt on multiple insults now. I’m done with that.

I’ll bow out of our discussion at this point, and leave it to the judgment of whatever readers we might have to determine which of us gave it an honest effort.


 
 
GAD
 
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26 September 2017 09:42
 
archipaul - 26 September 2017 09:00 AM

GAD, that wins the Most Bizarre Recap Ever award in my book.

I explained my statement in terms that are as clear as I possibly can imagine.

Your last post brought in a bunch of new stuff.  It implies a lot of questions and it implies positions on my part and yours, without clearly stating any of those things.

I will say briefly, because I can’t help myself, that the poor people I’m talking about would trade places with our 70s and 80s selves, smog or no smog, in less than a heartbeat.  Yes, from the perspective of a family who must choose which child to give up for adoption because there’s no longer enough room in their hut where they must sleep with their livestock at night, or millions of others lacking clean water, adequate food, physical security, basic health care, etc, etc, all of which depend on cheap reliable energy… from those perspectives, we were indeed living the dream in the 70s and 80s.  Your comments make it clear that you have no sense of what real poverty, and real energy poverty, look like.

But all these areas of discussion are far too complicated to undertake in the style of communication you’re insisting on.  And for you to say that my concerns are mundane is simply insulting. I’ve given you the benefit of the doubt on multiple insults now. I’m done with that.

I’ll bow out of our discussion at this point, and leave it to the judgment of whatever readers we might have to determine which of us gave it an honest effort.

Oh playing the victim now, a classic!

You haven’t shown anything, the pages and pages you wrote all about trying to get me to rephrase my wording to fit your narrative because that’s the show you worked on and anything outside of that you have no rehearsed answers for.

Here’s another opportunity for you to show you shit, show us these families who had choose which child to give up for adoption that you are trying to save because they were denied cheap dirty fossil fuels.   

 

 
 
NorrisM
 
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26 September 2017 10:03
 

aha, mapadofu

You are still around.  Did you read those pages of the APS transcript?  Does Santer not agree that their models are too hot?  He does not specifically say that Christy’s graph is correct but he says its “old news”.  They disagree with the observations.  Not their models, it is a measurement problem.

archipaul,

One of the biggest problems even getting into this area is that no one seems to even agree on the facts, ie how much the average global temperature has actually risen (land temperatures versus atmosphere, land measurements versus satellite, with or without El Ninos) and even how much the ocean levels are rising.  Has the level now truly dropped in rise per year from 3 to 2 mm/yr meaning that in 2100, if it stayed constant, the ocean rise would be another 6.5”?  The oceans have supposedly been rising 2 mm/y for the last 150 years.  Read the National Climate Assessment.  Beyond 1 foot rise they are only “Very Confident”.  But when you look at page 10 of the Introduction to the Executive Summary, “Very Confident” is defined as “moderate evidence, medium consensus”.

 
Nsador
 
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27 September 2017 08:50
 

I like Sam Harris, but bringing a climate scientist that does not discuss the enormous contribution from factory farms and animal husbandry in general is disappointing. Listening to Joseph ramble for two hours, albeit quality discussion, was another climate scientist that avoided the biggest single contributor to climate change. Most of these animal agriculture dodgers have a hidden agenda. I would like to see a redone podcast that covers the whole topic of climate change. Not including our food production in a discussion of climate change is becoming outdated and keeps tangible solutions by the every day people out of reach.

 
archipaul
 
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27 September 2017 09:28
 
mapadofu - 26 September 2017 06:57 AM
archipaul - 24 September 2017 05:51 AM


Quick aside (just cause I haven’t noticed this discussed here yet). Did anyone else instantly question the idea that increasing the average global temperature must imply that the extremes move as well? Am I crazy in thinking you can subtly change the shape of a bell curve and get a different average without moving the ends at all? Or, for example, you could up the average temperature by attenuating the extremes on the cold end, while leaving the hot end completely alone? Is there some law of nature that forces a perfect normal distribution of temperature? The assumption that the curve of global temperature has to maintain it’s exact shape and just shift left or right is awfully simplistic, isn’t it? To see Harris just roll with that kind of thing in this podcast just kind of hurts, you know? Alright, aside aside.

 

What you propose is possible in principle but, to my knowledge, there are no strong indications that this kind of outcome, increased average temperature w/o significant increases at the high end, is going to occur.  What is a better representation than taking the curve of global temperature distribution and just shifting it to the right?

I’m not the guy to answer the “better representation” question. My comment is more that it seems like a huge oversimplification to assume that changes in average translate to changes at the extremes.

The section of podcast is around 32:50 in which Romm says: “The average temperature going up pushes the extremes up much faster”.  Then he goes on describe the shift of the bell curve.

So if I learn that the average adult height in my town has increased, that doesn’t mean to me that the number of super tall people is rising even faster than the overall average. It could be that a few families that were slightly shorter than the average have moved out of town, and there was no change in super tall people (nor super short people) whatsoever.

This just seems like the kind of thing that the Sam we all know and love might have interjected. “How do we know that the bell curve is keeping it’s shape as the average becomes warmer?”.

I’m vaguely aware that some skeptics say the nature of recent warming (or maybe it’s the type of warming we’d expect from CO2 theory) is more characterized by increases in the coldest times of year and in the coldest regions. I don’t know if there’s anything to that because I haven’t looked into those claims closely. But again, the main point is that Romm’s casual inference quoted above just seems like an incredibly simplistic thing to say about a single measurable (avg global temp) of a complex, dynamic, non-linear system (climate). I would have loved to hear it challenged, not because I know it’s wrong, just because it’s truth it not intuitively obvious to me.

 
 
Roger the Shrubber
 
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27 September 2017 09:44
 
Nsador - 27 September 2017 08:50 AM

Most of these animal agriculture dodgers have a hidden agenda..

What agenda is that? (A serious question)

Nsador - 27 September 2017 08:50 AM

Not including our food production in a discussion of climate change is becoming outdated and keeps tangible solutions by the every day people out of reach.

If you think most people are apathetic about the climate change issue now, start suggesting that their diets are to be centrally planned by the UN Panel on Climate Change.  That will get their attention.

 
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