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Subject: Statistics in Science: Climate Change as an Example (why I still have some doubts) rss

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Many conclusions in modern science are based on conclusions drawn from various types of statistical inference. While their on some fields that are able to capitalize on controlled experiments (agriculture, medicine, etc.) that can eschew many statistical techniques in favor of replicability, that approach is not an option with regard to most observational data. As the ability to control the experimental design decreases, more of a premium must be put on the appropriate implementation of statistical procedures.

In our other thread, David indicated that the layperson is unable to evaluate the quality of global warming research because
Quote:

I think you couldn't solve a partial differential equation to save your life. Or perform a basic test for statistical significance. Or answer the simplest questions about atmospheric chemistry. Yet you've got fervent opinions about what scientific conclusions are justified. How can you possibly explain that?


Perhaps I am a little more cynical than David, but I don't think we can trust the results of the climatologists who are analyzing data in the absence of a trained statistician (more on this below with comments of a review panel of statisticans). All of the results hinge on the results of the model, if the process of obtaining the results is poorly implemented, then the results themselves cannot be trusted.

Anecdotally, when conducting statistical consulting, it is not uncommon for many top researcher's knowledge about statistical techniques to end when the obtained their dissertation. This is not a criticism because when you become specialized in a certain area, there is not time or incentive to stay abreast in developments of other areas. However, when dealing with complex problems (such as climate change), statistical models are usually (or at least should be) developed specifically for the problem at hand. This is completely different than using a pre-existing procedure (i.e., canned) for the analysis.

Now a few reasons for my skepticism:

IPCC
On December 13th, 2007, more than 100 scientists signed a letter to the UN questioning the IPCC report. Some of the notable names that makes a person (me at least) think there might be a valid criticism are


- Reid A. Bryson, PhD, DSc, DEngr, UNE P. Global 500 Laureate; Senior Scientist, Center for Climatic Research; Emeritus Professor of Meteorology, of Geography, and of Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin
- Freeman J. Dyson, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, N.J.
- Don J. Easterbrook, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Geology, Western Washington University
-Christopher Essex, PhD, Professor of Applied Mathematics and Associate Director of the Program in Theoretical Physics, University of Western Ontario
-Lee C. Gerhard, PhD, Senior Scientist Emeritus, University of Kansas; former director and state geologist, Kansas Geological Survey
-Gerhard Gerlich, Professor for Mathematical and Theoretical Physics, Institut für Mathematische Physik der TU Braunschweig, Germany
-William M. Gray, Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University and Head of the Tropical Meteorology Project
-Marcel Leroux, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Climatology, University of Lyon, France; former director of Laboratory of Climatology, Risks and Environment, CNRS
-Richard S. Lindzen, PhD, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology, Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
-James J. O'Brien, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Meteorology and Oceanography, Florida State University
-Cliff Ollier, PhD, Professor Emeritus (Geology), Research Fellow, University of Western Australia
-Garth W. Paltridge, PhD, atmospheric physicist, Emeritus Professor and former Director of the Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies, University of Tasmania, Australia
-Edward J. Wegman, PhD, Department of Computational and Data Sciences, George Mason University, Virginia


Most of the signatores of the letter are advanced in their career, and it is not too much of a leap of the imagination that more, younger professors would have signed if they didn't fear some type of retribution for their support of a politically unpopular stance.

The main points of the letter were

-While we understand the evidence that has led them to view CO2 emissions as harmful, the IPCC's conclusions are quite inadequate as justification for implementing policies that will markedly diminish future prosperity. In particular, it is not established that it is possible to significantly alter global climate through cuts in human greenhouse gas emissions. On top of which, because attempts to cut emissions will slow development, the current UN approach of CO2 reduction is likely to increase human suffering from future climate change rather than to decrease it.

-Recent observations of phenomena such as glacial retreats, sea- level rise and the migration of temperature-sensitive species are not evidence for abnormal climate change, for none of these changes has been shown to lie outside the bounds of known natural variability

-The average rate of warming of 0.1 to 0. 2 degrees Celsius per decade recorded by satellites during the late 20th century falls within known natural rates of warming and cooling over the last 10,000 years.

-Leading scientists, including some senior IPCC representatives, acknowledge that today's computer models cannot predict climate. Consistent with this, and despite computer projections of temperature rises, there has been no net global warming since 1998. That the current temperature plateau follows a late 20th-century period of warming is consistent with the continuation today of natural multi-decadal or millennial climate cycling.

-In stark contrast to the often repeated assertion that the science of climate change is "settled," significant new peer-reviewed research has cast even more doubt on the hypothesis of dangerous human-caused global warming. But because IPCC working groups were generally instructed (see http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/docs/ wg1_timetable_2006-08-14.pdf) to consider work published only through May, 2005, these important findings are not included in their reports; i.e., the IPCC assessment reports are already materially outdated.

-Attempts to prevent global climate change from occurring are ultimately futile, and constitute a tragic misallocation of resources that would be better spent on humanity's real and pressing problems.

Statistical Review Panel

This originally was established to evaluate the "Hockey Stick" finding by Mann. The panel authors were: Edward J. Wegman [(Chair) Bernard J. Dunn professor of statistics at George Mason University; also editor of Computational Statistics and Data Analysis), David W. Scott (Noah Harding professor of statistics at Rice University), Yasmin H. Said (Lecturer, Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics, The Johns Hopkins University). Their conclusions were

-they found the Mann's paper to be quite lacking in statistical rigor, with the misapplication of some statistical methodology

while making the following recommendations

-Federally funded work including code should be made available to other researchers upon reasonable request.

- Climate research relevant to policy decisions should undergo a mandatory "evaluation phase" by statisticians.

-Funding should focus on interdisciplinary teams and avoid narrowly focused discipline research.

These findings were all-reviewed and approved by the following nine reviewers who had no knowledge of paleoclimatology (which is the ideal situation when trying to just evaluate the statistical methodology)

--Enders Robinson; Professor (emeritus) of geophysics at Columbia University
--Grace Wahba; IJ Schoenberg-Hilldale Professor of statistics at the University of Wisconsin
--Noel Cressie; Professor of spatial statistics at Ohio State University
--David Banks; Professor of the practice of statistics at Duke University
--William Wieczorek; Professor of geography and planning at Buffalo State, State University of New York
--Amy Braverman; Senior scientist remote sensing, data mining, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (CalTech)
--Fritz Scheuren; Dr. of statistics, National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago
--Anonymous #1 Fear of "potential negative consequences"
--Anonymous #2 Fear of "potential negative consequences"


A separate National Research Council composed of 11 experts on climate, geography, and geology (and one statistician)

-"the need to include statisticians on every team that engages in climate research (which in my view is a particularly unrealistic and unnecessary recommendation)"

even though, they also concluded

-Dr. Wegman’s criticisms of the statistical methodology in the papers by Mann et al were consistent with our findings.

and, at least the discredited the following often bandied about claim

-"1990s was the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year" in a millennium. The quality of the data is not sufficient to make such a specific claim.

The including of statisticians is really not improving, either. The American Meteorological Association's 2006 Conference on Probability and Statistics in the Atmospheric Sciences, where only eight presenters out of 62 were members of the American Statistical Association. That's right, a conference on probability and statistics where only one out of eight participants would be recognized as active statisticians.

although the studies may have been peer reviewed, the reviewers were often unqualified in statistics. Past studies, they believe, should be reassessed by competent statisticians and in future, the climate science world should do better at incorporating statistical know-how.

One place to start is with the American Meteorological Society, which has a committee on probability and statistics. As an example of the statistical barrenness of the climate-change world, the critics cite the American Meteorological Association's 2006 Conference on Probability and Statistics in the Atmospheric Sciences, where only eight presenters out of 62 were members of the American Statistical Association.

Personal Observations
In the other thread, I mentioned some comments by Dr. Richard Lindzen

--the margin of error used in the IPCC report is much smaller, a 60 percent confidence level, than traditionally used by scientists, who generally report results at the 95 or even 99 percent confidence level. The IPCC is thus publicizing results much less likely to be correct than scientific research is generally expected to be.

This is ridiculous. A 60% confidence interval. In almost all peer-reviewed research, the confidence level is usually 95% (social sciences) or 99% (physical sciences). Remember that a 50% confidence interval is basically like saying "It could be this or that".

--Clouds and water vapor in clouds, for example, are badly misrepresented in the models. The physics are all wrong, he said. Those things the models do well are irrelevant to the all-important feedback effects. The treatment of water vapor in clouds is crucial to models producing a lot of warming. Without them [positive feedbacks], no model would produce much warming. The effect observed is sufficient such that if current models are absolutely correct, except for missing this, models that predict between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees warming go down to about .4 to 1.2 degrees warming.

I find this highly concerning, but a problem with all computational modeling. If the input is poor, then no amount of statistical analysis can fix it. Dr. Dyson also states this as a large deficiency of current conclusions, indicating that current models cannot even predict El Nino, which is anticipated to play a vital role in the effects of climate change.

--IPCC's emphasis, however, isn't on getting qualified scientists, but on getting representatives from over 100 countries. The truth is only a handful of countries do quality climate research. Most of the so-called experts served merely to pad the numbers.

For this research, I want the best of the best if we are going to drastically change the way business is done in the world. So before people cite the oft-spoken 99:1 consensus, what are the specific qualifications. I would like to see a debate between the highest-achieving, most well-respected people in the field on each side of the issue.

Conclusion
It is obvious to state that using trained statisticians in studies reliant on statistics. However, the "scientists form a consensus group" often says some of the methodology may be wrong, many experts now acknowledge, but they assert that he nevertheless came to the right conclusion. Although the studies may have been peer reviewed, the reviewers are likely to unqualified as statisticians -- thus, they can evaluate the logic of the process, but not the procedures used to obtain the conclusions.

To which I, and I am sure others who would like rigorous scienctific approaches, shake our heads in disbelief. The claim that incorrect method doesn't matter because the answer is correct is ridiculous. With bad science (i.e., analytical techniques), only true believers can assert that they nevertheless obtained the right answer -- so for me, the jury is still out until more interdisciplinary studies are conducted.


EDIT: Spelling





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William Boykin
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On the other thread on Carbon Trading, I mention a study by William Nordhaus and Joseph Boyer who argue that if the IPCC model is correct, and we'll see a 2.5 Celsius to 6.5 Celsius increase, the most that the planetary GDP would be impact would be from 1% decline to a 7% decline.

http://www.econ.yale.edu/~nordhaus/homepage/web%20chap%204%2...

I'm just a layman- have you heard of any other studies that seem to corroborate their findings?

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How dare you argue with our models! Our computer models are amazing and fabulous! After all, look at what they've done for the financial sector!
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For the record, I regularly solve systems of partial differential equations-- often non-linear-- involving components of non-trivial spin-tensors in curved field-space which form fiber bundles on the spacetime manifold. My research is as much in mathematics as it is in physics frankly.

None of that matters in an internet discussion. I can on-line scream "*I* am the authority here!" all I want and nitpick every word anyone else posts on every subject while twisting every post to mean something bizarre as frankly our self-appointed resident expert on mathematics and everything else regularly does.Sadly RSP has of late become like a high school debatign class more than adults having a conversation.

Now, have I in detail examined climatologists' data and methods of analysis? No. Yet I feel qualified to take them with a grain of salt. Why? Simple. Our best climate models apply hydrodynamics to the atmosphere and so one encounters the problems of hydrodynamics. 1. The error in the models is difficult to quantity. 2. measurements are limited especially when viewed on the scale of atmospheric perturbations. 3. We're usually approximating non-linear systems with linear or quasi-linear models. The atmosphere is one of the things held up as a chaotic system, i.e., a system in which initial conditions dominate over general classes of solutions.

That's just why I personally am skeptical. Yet without a great deal of effort one could find numerous prominent physicists who question anthropogenic global warming etc etc The letters to the editor section of Physics Today for the last year has been a good place to see this.

So,I'm qualified to question the analysis and I am not alone in doing so.The issue is not statistics but lack of data. Atmospheric perturbations are very localized phenomena and yet we do not have data which is comparable to the scale involved.
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whac3 wrote:
The issue is not statistics but lack of data.


Spoken like a true physicist

I agree. It is a lack of data combined with a misapplication of statistics to the data we do have.
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I have a lot I want to comment on here..........but not enough time to do it properly. So I'll come back to it in a day or two........
 
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Steinly! You sir, are a heretic! You shall be cast upon the fires of Hell and bur--- Whups! Sorry. Wrong cult. You shall be flung upon the rising tide of ignorance as Mother Gaia brings forth her waters to the 5th floor of your inland apartment building and sucks you down to have your bones picked apart by cute little fishies.

Sinner!
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Could you link us to climatedeniers.org or wherever you get these things from, so we can just read them in the original instead of you copying them here?
 
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Could you link us to climatedeniers.org or wherever you get these things from, so we can just read them in the original instead of you copying them here?


For the record, I do believe that the earth is likely warming. My doubts center mainly on (a) how much of this is a natural process and (b) do we understand the mechanisms enough to be able to model it correctly.

Here is the link to the open letter to the IPCC

http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/repr...

Here is the link to the Wegman report:

http://climateaudit.org/pdf/others/07142006_Wegman_Report.pd...

The quotes by Lindzen and Dyson can easily be found in interviews -- I believe one of them was with the New York times.

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SpaceGhost wrote:
DaviddesJ wrote:
Could you link us to climatedeniers.org or wherever you get these things from, so we can just read them in the original instead of you copying them here?


Here is the link to the open letter to the IPCC

http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/repr...

I will try to get the rest here soon...most of the links are on my other comptuer.


You know Doug... I'm not sure why you're bothering to do the leg work for David. The guy made his fortune at Google for Chrissakes! So either he's just being a baby about this whole thing or his inability to use the product he was part of creating is somehow evidence that having a high IQ doesn't mean you can figure shit out.

David? Just highlight and Ctrl+C any passage in the material Doug quoted. Then, open Google in a browser and Ctrl+V into that empty space with the little blinking vertical line. You'll get the data on your own pc at home that way.
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My personal qualifications for evaluating the Wegman report

--I have published several papers relating different types of cluster analysis to various forms of principal components at mathematical level (all linear algebra proofs). So I understand the methodology in question quite well.

--Regarding the incestous relationship in the peer-review process among these groups of "agreeing studies", I am also have several publications in social network analysis

My questions are all really from a statistical point of view.

Also, I would think that if people really wanted to have the biggest impact, then they would include leading experts in the statistical methodology they are using.
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DWTripp wrote:
The guy made his fortune at Google for Chrissakes! So either he's just being a baby about this whole thing or his inability to use the product he was part of creating is somehow evidence that having a high IQ doesn't mean you can figure shit out.


No, I wanted to know what climate denial websites he's getting all this stuff he posts from. I got my answer, scienceandpublicpolicy.org and climateaudit.org. So I'm glad for his response.
 
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DaviddesJ wrote:
DWTripp wrote:
The guy made his fortune at Google for Chrissakes! So either he's just being a baby about this whole thing or his inability to use the product he was part of creating is somehow evidence that having a high IQ doesn't mean you can figure shit out.


No, I wanted to know what climate denial websites he's getting all this stuff he posts from. I got my answer, scienceandpublicpolicy.org and climateaudit.org. So I'm glad for his response.


Oh. Well then, my apologies. I forgot for a moment that anything you don't agree with is dismissed as denial.

Regretably, I took the time to read some of the stuff and it confused my po' little mind terribly. But a few cans of Coors Light fixed me right up.
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DaviddesJ wrote:
DWTripp wrote:
The guy made his fortune at Google for Chrissakes! So either he's just being a baby about this whole thing or his inability to use the product he was part of creating is somehow evidence that having a high IQ doesn't mean you can figure shit out.


No, I wanted to know what climate denial websites he's getting all this stuff he posts from. I got my answer, scienceandpublicpolicy.org and climateaudit.org. So I'm glad for his response.


How disingenuous of you. You asked for a link so you could read the documents instead of reading copied quotes.

For the record, I didn't originally get it from those sites. I received the original Wegman document from a fellow statistician and I read the IPCC letter when it was first issued. I googled the two and found two links that provided pdf documents that I thought would be compatible for everyone's browser of choice. I have never read anything else on either of those sites.

Everything not quoted is my own reasoning based on the arguments in the documents.
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SpaceGhost wrote:
How disingenuous of you. You asked for a link so you could read the documents instead of reading copied articles.


I'm sorry, perhaps I was unclear but I didn't mean to be disingenous. I didn't want to know where the letter came from, I wanted to know where the talking points about the letter came from.
 
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DWTripp wrote:
DaviddesJ wrote:
DWTripp wrote:
The guy made his fortune at Google for Chrissakes! So either he's just being a baby about this whole thing or his inability to use the product he was part of creating is somehow evidence that having a high IQ doesn't mean you can figure shit out.


No, I wanted to know what climate denial websites he's getting all this stuff he posts from. I got my answer, scienceandpublicpolicy.org and climateaudit.org. So I'm glad for his response.


Oh. Well then, my apologies. I forgot for a moment that anything you don't agree with is dismissed as denial.

Regretably, I took the time to read some of the stuff and it confused my po' little mind terribly. But a few cans of Coors Light fixed me right up.

Tripp;

Personally I prefer Scotch-- single malt-- or Irish whiskey but I do take beer as well now and again. Coors-- light or otherwise-- should ONLY be used to kill snails in the garden, for vaious amusing experiments in chemistry or to let some nice girl wash her hair in.

If we ever meet, we'd have to go out for a beer-- but I like it dark and bitter like myjokes.
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DaviddesJ wrote:
SpaceGhost wrote:
How disingenuous of you. You asked for a link so you could read the documents instead of reading copied articles.


I'm sorry, perhaps I was unclear but I didn't mean to be disingenous. I didn't want to know where the letter came from, I wanted to know where the talking points about the letter came from.


They came from me reading the letter and the Wegman report.

The IPCC talking points are all bulleted in the letter.

The Wegman recommendations are all laid out in the introductory sections; however, I have read it in full as well (including the appendix on PCA -- which is accurate).
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whac3 wrote:


If we ever meet, we'd have to go out for a beer-- but I like it dark and bitter like myjokes.


Or like my women.
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Quote:
Tripp;

Personally I prefer Scotch-- single malt-- or Irish whiskey but I do take beer as well now and again. Coors-- light or otherwise-- should ONLY be used to kill snails in the garden, for vaious amusing experiments in chemistry or to let some nice girl wash her hair in.

If we ever meet, we'd have to go out for a beer-- but I like it dark and bitter like myjokes.


I like your style Moshe... especially the hair washing part. Thanks for the tip. And I'll cheerfully buy you as many dark, nasty, bitter ales as you can drink. I also admit to having a soft spot for Irish Whiskey... but the beer in the hair thing? Now that's got me thinking about what to do on my next date with Trixy.
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SpaceGhost wrote:
The IPCC talking points are all bulleted in the letter.

The Wegman recommendations are all laid out in the introductory sections; however, I have read it in full as well (including the appendix on PCA -- which is accurate).


Thanks. I do understand what you posted now, the format of BGG can make it hard to understand what is quoted from whom, as different people quote in different ways. That's all I was asking.

P.S. The points from the letter are not all bullet points but I see that they are all verbatim quotes.
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I don't want to sounds like a broken record in these discussions, but my post to the Nathan Lewis lecture is even more relevant here than it was in the other thread. Here is again:
http://nsl.caltech.edu/energy.html
The most recent 2008 lecture is the less technical version, the 2007 is more technical, so you can take your pick. Either way, download the most recent slides (at the bottom of the page I linked) to follow along, since they are blurry on the video.

The reason the talk is so relevant here is that he works from the point of view that the climate models are not reliable, and that we have no idea what the effect of CO2 might be. So if your sticking point is whether the models are right, or whether there is anthropogenic global warming, this talk mostly sidesteps that issue to deal with the issues of energy demand and where the supply might come from.
 
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dakarp wrote:
I don't want to sounds like a broken record in these discussions, but my post to the Nathan Lewis lecture is even more relevant here than it was in the other thread. Here is again:
http://nsl.caltech.edu/energy.html
The most recent 2008 lecture is the less technical version, the 2007 is more technical, so you can take your pick. Either way, download the most recent slides (at the bottom of the page I linked) to follow along, since they are blurry on the video.

The reason the talk is so relevant here is that he works from the point of view that the climate models are not reliable, and that we have no idea what the effect of CO2 might be. So if your sticking point is whether the models are right, or whether there is anthropogenic global warming, this talk mostly sidesteps that issue to deal with the issues of energy demand and where the supply might come from.


I don't have time to watch this right now, but I think energy demand and finding alternative sources are a very smart thing to be working on and something I can fully support.

Most likely, alternative energy is going to be our way to competitively stay in front of many nations, both technologically and economically. But that discussion is completely different then a rush system to alter lifestyles that is supported through potential fearmongering (unless it turns out true, then it wouldn't be fearmongering). In any case, the ends do not justify the means.
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I wanted to let this thread develop a bit to see what the exchange looked like. If it turned into another "climate change is a religion" vs. "it's not," I was just going to pass. That largely hasn't happened, which is good.

So perhaps it makes some sense to lay out what I understand to be true about climate change. There is no 100% proof that climate change is anthropogenic in nature. There is significant and growing evidence that it is. There are scientists that are skeptics of the conclusions presented by other scientists, particularly where those skeptics believe public policy is being guided by work that is not yet completely probative. I don't think that any of that is either particularly in question or controversial.

The concern that I see SpaceGhost expressing is that we have governments and international bodies making decisions based on data that is still being developed and based on confidence intervals that are insufficiently rigorous. That's fine, it's a worthwhile debate.

So approach it from a risk avoidance set of questions. If you were told there were a 60% chance you would die in one year unless you took steps to prevent it, would you not act? That your house would burn down? That you would be significantly harmed or crippled if you didn't take preventative measures? I don't know about the others who support action to reduce carbon emissions, but I can tell you that I think waiting for 100% proof is waiting too long when discussing a problem that has the potential for a very large, very damaging sets of consequences.

And a 60% confidence interval is still a significant risk. I'll help clients gauge risk for IT threats and end up working with risk levels that are dramatically smaller (often less than 1%) that still result in large expenditures (relatively speaking) because of the sensitivity of the information they're protecting. The expense typically represents a much larger percentage of the IT budget than the risk of a given threat occurring over the life of the equipment. And yet that's appropriate because if that institution fails to protect your credit information, SSN, health records, etc. the results to them can be positively disastrous.

So - a large group of well trained, well respected scientists have generated a set of models that demonstrate at least a 60% confidence interval that anthropogenic climate change is occurring and may have significant negative consequences globally. That's a serious enough set of conclusions that I think it time to act. Back to the house example, I suspect if you were told there were a 60% chance your home would burn down you'd take some actions to either prevent it or respond to it. Wouldn't you?

I don't mind that there are scientists that disagree. I'm actually glad to see it. It's a reminder to me that there's still work to be done and things to learn and that we don't actually know everything yet. I even recognize that many of the scientists that don't accept the conclusions of those that published the work or advocate a stronger response do have strong credentials (although there's at least as many that don't). Doesn't that demonstrate that the scientific process we know is working properly and the information should get better?

So my response is fairly simple:

1. There's a significant threat in place (60% is not insignificant).
2. The impact of that threat coming true has the potential to be very large/catastrophic and worth preventing.
3. The science in place indicates that a significant source of that threat is something that we can take steps to reduce, with an eventual reduction of the threat probability over time.
4. In the event that the threat never materializes, we stand to reap significant benefits from taking the steps anyway (reduced pollution, more secure energy sources, etc.).

So my question to you SpaceGhost is - do you disagree with any of the above conclusions and if so, why? If not, why is it not worth encouraging a reduction in emissions through taxes and other means?

The reason this becomes a religious war is because that's how the politics paint it. I don't see my particular approach to the issue as being anything other than pragmatic, but I'm happy to be convinced that I'm wrong.

Edited a few sentences for clarity.
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Dane Peacock
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perfalbion wrote:
And a 60% confidence interval is still a significant risk. I'll help clients gauge risk for IT threats and end up working with risk levels that are dramatically smaller (often less than 1%) that still result in large expenditures (relatively speaking) because of the sensitivity of the information they're protecting.


To be clear, are you really saying that you react to statistical data and base decisions and expenditures on problems with a CI of less than 1%?
 
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Ken
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Sky Knight X wrote:
To be clear, are you really saying that you react to statistical data and base decisions and expenditures on problems with a CI of less than 1%?


In IT scenarios? Absolutely. You base decisions not just on the probability of the occurrence but the impact of a given threat being exploited. When you're dealing with information that is protected by legislation, critical customer information, or proprietary intellectual property of great value, you react to very small percentage chances of occurring. When certain exposures occur, they put the entire organization's survival or competitiveness at risk.

A typical analysis involves arriving at an expected chance of a given vulnerability exploited in a fixed period of time and multiplying the cost of that exposure by the percentage to set a reasonable budget for that period of time. So if there's a .5% chance that your customer database might be exposed to the Internet and the information accessed, and having that occur has costs of $200 million dollars (lost revenue, fines, lawsuits, etc.), then spending $1 million dollars to prevent that threat is worthwhile. Since security systems often overlap and protect from multiple exposures, that investment is very likely to address other threats as well.

But yes - IT departments respond to threats of that nature regularly. If the total risk (in dollar figures) is deemed to be high enough by risk management, you'll positively act. Think about a bank and the protections they'll need to put in place to protect your account, your identity, their trading information, etc.
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