How I Learned To Love Climate Modeling

I’m annoyed by the New York Times hire of Bret Stephens, more annoyed by the defense that Times editors are mounting on Twitter. I’m annoyed that this has to be said again, but here we are, as Times editors tell us that any criticism is merely trying to silence a conservative voice. My objections have nothing to do with Stephens’s political views, except that it is clear that those views drive his views of climate change.

I was once a climate skeptic, with a great deal more basis than Stephens’s sense that life is uncertain and therefore we should eat dessert first. My skepticism arose BECAUSE I knew something about the climate models.

The nuclear weapons labs have contributed a lot to climate modeling. Climate models have a lot in common with nuclear weapons models. The models divide things up into little boxes and track the flow of matter and energy between the boxes. There are complications like phase changes and chemical reactions. The model is a mass of partial differential equations that the computer solves.

Before that project, I had been working on reaction mechanisms. A reaction like combustion, in which fuel combines with air to produce water and carbon dioxide, is made up of a great many reactions in which only one atom or molecule changes; those reactions are called elementary reactions and all together they make up the reaction mechanism. A co-worker developed an elementary reaction mechanism of 150 elementary reactions for our project, which was a specialized form of combustion. We were proud of that reaction.

We went to the modelers to help design additional experiments. They had branched out from nuclear weapons to automobile engines. Automobile companies were beginning to use their models. Our system had some differences, but not a lot. It was actually simpler in some ways.

The modelers proposed how they would handle our system. They collected our 150 elementary reactions into six. That was all they could work with, given computer capacity. I was dubious.

But I knew that much simpler models work well in chemical industry. That they allowed the building of refineries and the design of reaction vessels. There are many ways to approximate systems, and what the modelers proposed was a great deal more detailed than those rough and ready engineering models.

That got me thinking about climate models. So much was not known about climate processes. The calculational boxes were enormous – many kilometers on a side. Much, much harder than our cylindrical few-liter reaction vessel. They would have to make an enormous number of simplifications, far more than our 150 reactions down to six.

Climate modeling, in my opinion, was a fool’s errand.

More immediately, we needed to model the experiments we were planning. I still didn’t feel good about those six reactions. My objection was like that of some of the climate critics: You could change a few parameters and get the results you wanted. I said that to the modelers. They were patient and willing to show me how it worked.

I gave them inputs that I thought would fix the outputs. I fiddled with individual input parameters to see how they affected the results. (That is called sensitivity analysis.) And something very interesting happened.

Modeling, of course, was not the whole story. We had experimental results and could design experiments to get more. The model input had to coincide with our starting conditions, and the output had to agree with the results. That’s the case for climate modeling, too. It uses historical climate records, along with measurements derived from calcium carbonate deposits in caves, from coral reefs, from glaciers and atmospheric movements, and many others.

So I twiddled the knobs of the model, as they say. I could make particular results come out the way I wanted, but then other results were wildly off. A faster reaction might yield the wrong products, for example. The inputs had to approximate reality in order to get realistic results.

I never found a way to fix the results convincingly. I think it is because there are so many moving parts that messing with one is like pushing down on a bump in the rug. It shows up in an unrealistic result somewhere else.

I gained a new respect for climate models.

There are many kinds of climate models. Some encompass the earth and others concentrate on smaller pieces. They set up their calculations in different ways. Their results need to agree with each other and with the measurements. Those constraints I observed in my much smaller model operate even more strongly.

The IPCC process compares models and inputs. Comparing the models shows where problems need to be solved. Clouds, for example, have been a problem for some time. But, as for my 150 reactions down to six, there are ways to work around those problems until there is a better answer.

Bret Stephens and his editors clearly understand none of this. Uncertainties in electoral polling have nothing to do with uncertainties in climate modeling. That’s sophistry, not an argument worth having.

 

My photo at top.

Cross-posted at Nuclear Diner.

194 replies
  1. 1
    TenguPhule says:

    Fuck the Fucking New York Times.

    Or what Village said.

  2. 2
    Tim C. says:

    @TenguPhule: Funny how the Times had no problems with climate modeling the clouds that hung over Clinton’s campaign. The fact-free clouds I mean.

  3. 3
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Shame on NYT for even mounting such a defense in regard to Stephens. Why don’t they have David Duke or some other extreme Conservative writing for them then? It’s not as if Stephens’ lies are any better or worse than those told by Duke and his ilk. They should just be honest and say that they’ve hired Stephens because controversy = clicks and more ad revenue.

  4. 4

    […] Cross-posted at Balloon Juice. […]

  5. 5
    Jerzy Russian says:

    In addition to the models, the data show that the temperatures are rising, the polar ice caps are getting smaller, etc.

  6. 6
    joel hanes says:

    Climate models are not even really necessary to the argument.

    The correlation between CO2 levels in earth’s history and the global temperature is strong enough that we should be alarmed by the rise in CO2. Earth scientists have been able to make a good case for many decades.

  7. 7
    Roger Moore says:

    @Patricia Kayden:

    They should just be honest and say that they’ve hired Stephens because controversy = clicks and more ad revenue.

    I think there’s more to it than that. At its core, this is all about proving their willingness to take conservatives and conservatism seriously. They’re so afraid of losing conservative mindshare that they’re willing to give hacks like Stephens (and Douthat, Brooks, et. al.) free rein to write whatever they feel like, regardless of its factual accuracy.

  8. 8
    Hoodie says:

    As a former systems engineer, I can relate. What sleazy con artists like Stephens obscure is that modern modeling is amazingly accurate. For example, meteorological models are quite good. In effect, this nihilism promoted by the NYT and others is undermining decades of hard work by thousands of brilliant and dedicated people who, unlike lazy shits like Stephens, are generally not in it just for the money or power.

  9. 9
    Spanky says:

    A typo, I think:

    Modeling, of course, was not the whole story. We had experimental results and could design experiments to get more. The model input had to coincide with out our starting conditions,

    In other Trump-deprecated science news, here comes the next Big One:

    (CNN)An unexplained illness has claimed the lives of 12 people in Liberia since April 23, the World Health Organization reported Monday. Twenty-one people have fallen ill, including an unknown number of children, and three remain hospitalized at Francis Grant Hospital in Sinoe County.
    Symptoms of the illness include headache, diarrhea, vomiting and confusion, according to Fadela Chaib, a spokeswoman for the WHO. Health officials immediately tested the victims for Ebola, yellow fever and Lassa fever, but they were all ruled out.

    One of these days it’s gonna get real, real quick.

  10. 10
    The Golux says:

    Ah, yes, partial differential equations. When I was pursuing my BS in math, it was the one course from which I emerged with only a vague understanding of the subject. I don’t remember how we were graded, but I don’t think there were any tests. I can’t imagine how you’d design a test for it, anyway.

  11. 11
    sharl says:

    This is a lovely post, Cheryl. Thank you.

  12. 12
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    @Jerzy Russian: @joel hanes:
    Good points. I should have included more about the observations. But I would argue that the observations, concerning as they are, need the models to explain them.

    @Spanky: Thanks – fixed.

  13. 13
    liberal says:

    @Patricia Kayden:

    Why don’t they have David Duke or some other extreme Conservative writing for them then?

    Yeah, I’m waiting for them to give an op-ed perch to a member of the KKK or American Nazi Party.

  14. 14
    Ohio Mom says:

    I was an art major so perhaps this question is naive, but don’t we already have enough proof just looking at historical data?

    We know the world’s climate is changing, we know some of the things we can do to slow that change down, and we are actually doing some of those some things.

    Are more accurate predictions really going to change our approach that much? I can’t believe that more dire predictions would inspire more action because we seem pretty immune to all sorts of warnings (e.g., evidence that lack of gun control leads to dead children has not moved that needle).

    This isn’t to say that I don’t cheer science and think that the effort to develop more accurate modeling isn’t a worthy effort.

  15. 15

    Not all opinions deserve a platform.

  16. 16
    divF says:

    The models divide things up into little boxes and track the flow of matter and energy between the boxes. There are complications like phase changes and chemical reactions. The model is a mass of partial differential equations that the computer solves.

    Hey, watch it – some of us do this for a living :-).

    Seriously, the IPCC is a serious, careful and conservative (in a good sense) application of scientific reasoning as you will find, given that we can only run one experiment. The climate change deniers are unwilling to engage at that level of care and rigor.

  17. 17
    Ian G. says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    Amen. I’m waiting for the fuck the fucking New York Times to give a platform to a 9/11 “skeptic” or a vaccination “skeptic”.

  18. 18
    Patricia Kayden says:

    White Supremacist who roughed up Black protester at Trump rally finally faces charges. When will Trump be charged by the police for encouraging the assaults in the first place?

  19. 19
    liberal says:

    @Hoodie:

    What sleazy con artists like Stephens obscure is that modern modeling is amazingly accurate.

    Well, it really depends on the domain and the practitioners. Take economics, for example.

  20. 20

    This is at least the 3rd FP post on NYT. Mission accomplished. More clicks for Vichy Times. Success.

  21. 21
    JimV says:

    I was looking forward to seeing the movie “Hidden Figures”: a) there are so few movies or TV Shows about engineering (“LA Engineer” never got off the ground); b) my first boss at GE, Doris Clarke, had been a “computer” back in the day too. The over-simplified to outright phony math in the movie ruined it for me.

    People who don’t know what they’re talking or writing about shouldn’t.

    As for climate models, they weren’t the reason we know we have a problem. We have a problem because we have measured a large, steady increase in green-house gases in the atmosphere; we know GHG’s cause temperatures to increase; and we have measured increases in temperature. Climate models are just our best way of predicting future effects. It’s like saying, our telescopes aren’t very good so why bother to watch for the enemies we know are coming; maybe they won’t come since our telescopes are so bad. Or something like that.

  22. 22
    randy khan says:

    I constantly wonder at the impulse that makes newspapers and news channels think that they need to add people to provide perspective from the right, but almost never from the left. The consequence, of course, is that lousy conservative voices keep getting heard, while you have to be exceptionally good to be hired from the left.

    I mean, really, where’s the love for mediocre leftists? They’re at least as mediocre as the mediocre conservatives!

  23. 23
    randy khan says:

    @JimV:

    An expert never should watch a movie about his or her field, or anything close. The demands of storytelling generally get in the way of accuracy.

    (Sort of relatedly, it was hard to get my dad to go to see any movies, because he was a producer for TV commercials and as a consequence noticed nearly any detail in the set or continuity that was wrong, and it bothered him enough to make the movie less enjoyable.)

  24. 24
    Roger Moore says:

    @Ohio Mom:

    I was an art major so perhaps this question is naive, but don’t we already have enough proof just looking at historical data?

    The historical data proves that temperatures are getting warmer, but you really need the modeling to show that it’s because of CO2 and the CO2 is a result of human activity. The models are also necessary to be able to predict the size of future climate effects- and how those effects will vary depending on our actions- which is vital for any kind of sensible policy.

  25. 25
    TenguPhule says:

    @randy khan: Common sense is boring. Insane conservative ideas are sexy and exciting.

  26. 26
    MattF says:

    Well, we knew about Stephens. But remember, Brooks and Douthat aren’t so great either.

  27. 27
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:

    @randy khan:

    I mean, really, where’s the love for mediocre leftists? They’re at least as mediocre as the mediocre conservatives!

    I give you Bernie Sanders….

  28. 28
    A Ghost to Most says:

    @schrodingers_cat: agree. FTFCDNYT.

  29. 29
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    @Ohio Mom and others: What we are observing is indeed frightening. And the measurements of carbon dioxide correlate with rising temperatures and other things we observe. But that’s only part of science. The correlation that seems obvious might not be real. We need to look behind the measurements and see how it all adds up.

    That gives an idea of how to predict things, yes, but it also saves us from a shouting match in which one side points out that the Arctic is melting, and the other side points out that some parts of the Antarctic are gaining ice.

    Oh wait.

  30. 30
    🌷 Martin says:

    @Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes:

    The nice folks from the MoT gazed down upon their prone figures, put on the heaviest Doc Marten boots they could find, and are now kicking each one of those stupid motherfuckers in the head by sending out this email release, initially to travel professionals.

    Or, what the absence of regulatory capture looks like.

  31. 31
    chopper says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    clicks? there isn’t even a link to click on. given the commentariat’s disdain for the FTFNYT, i wouldn’t worry.

  32. 32
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:

    @Patricia Kayden:

    That part of Southern Indiana is the gateway to serious Klan country. Paoli is a shithole.

  33. 33
    A Ghost to Most says:

    @JimV:
    Did 20 years at GE Info Systems, until GE sold it.

  34. 34
    TEL says:

    Excellent post and explanation!

    I worked for a time on various projects attempting to predict metal mineralization mechanisms in the environment, and with groundwater and surface water – involved processes. The first thing I learned (as someone with a bench science background, not a modeling background) was that not only is modeling incredibly complex, but in the environment, it’s completely dependent on knowing the rate-limiting processes or constraints of the system, which sounds simple but was an ongoing problem the entire time I was working on those projects.

    I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts. I’m also going to check out Nuclear Diner.

  35. 35
    namekarB says:

    George Carlin said it best so to paraphrase: The people who own this country also own the NY Times. They do not want us to know the truth.

    Pretty much explains everything

  36. 36
    Roger Moore says:

    @randy khan:

    An expert never should watch a movie about his or her field, or anything close. The demands of storytelling generally get in the way of accuracy.

    Some experts are able to put that aside and just enjoy the show. That said, I think any show about experts in some field should at least have consultants to avoid unnecessary inaccuracies. As a scientist, I’m willing to let it slide when the writers fiddle with the science to make the plot work. I’m much less forgiving when they make up unimportant stuff and get it horribly wrong, especially when a good consultant could help them get it right. Hollywood has gotten better about that kind of thing- ISTR that a number of science-related shows have serious consultants who help to make sure that, e.g. equations on blackboards are real and relevant to the story- but they still get it wrong a lot.

  37. 37
    Kelly says:

    A map is a model of the world. I use them to forecast how about long it will take me to get somewhere. I suppose these deniers never use maps and only make plans based on territory they’ve traveled before.

  38. 38
    Brachiator says:

    Bret Stephens and his editors clearly understand none of this.

    The Times editors can defend their hire of Stephens. I don’t care about that.

    Where are the scientists who can defend Stephens’ so-called position on climate change? This part is not political or philosophical.

  39. 39
    mr_gravity says:

    @randy khan: Are you talking about Susan Sarandon?

  40. 40
    Boussinesque says:

    As an oceanographer, I went through much the same process of slightly-skeptical-to-great-respect with the ocean models my advisor’s research group used. The widely scattered (in time, space, and type) observations that had to be used as boundary conditions necessitated some very clever data assimilation packages. It’s beyond infuriating that these ideologues with no idea (or interest in learning) about how models actual work are given platforms to bloviate and impugn the integrity of the entire field.

  41. 41
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:

    @🌷 Martin:

    Good one.

    I stayed at that Sandals. It is small – a former Four Seasons. Airport is small, but adequate for existing cargo and pax reqs. That includes the biggest event of the year – the Georgetown Regatta (which was also occurring at the same time). Ironically the douchebros requested that the Regatta, a 60 year old event, be rescheduled so their fine festival could happen without resource competition – the Bahamians eventually stopped laughing long enough to say “fuck no”.

    The sharks there ARE benign – blacktips. You’re only likely to get bitten if you’re holding a fish while the blacktip eats it.

  42. 42
    Yarrow says:

    @Hoodie:

    For example, meteorological models are quite good.

    This is true. Hurricane modeling has improved tremendously in the last few years. Some of them can fairly accurately predict large storms and where they’ll go when there’s almost nothing to see. They’re not perfect and sometimes they get it wrong, but they’re so much more accurate than even a decade ago.

  43. 43
    Kelly says:

    I have a spreadsheet with my retirement investments. It’s a model of my financial world. I use it to decide how much I should spend this year whilst leaving enough money to support us for another 30 years or so. Every year I update with current results and refigure. I guess that means it’s uselessly inaccurate. I suppose these deniers never use spreadsheets to figure out their finances.

  44. 44
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Roger Moore: Your last sentence is what is so terrifying about what the NYT is doing. They’re allowing their reputable forum to be used to promote lies during a time when we have a Liar in the White House.

  45. 45
    Kelly says:

    @Hoodie: As an enthusiastic outdoorsman for my entire 60 years I agree. The models that drive the weather forecast are very good these days.

  46. 46

    @Patricia Kayden: They helped put him there, with their all emails all the time coverage.

  47. 47
    Mart says:

    I do not know anything about climate modeling. I do know in Missouri we get crazy ass storms about every six months to two years, instead of every twenty or thirty years. This knowledge is from the gut, absolutely no research, so it has to be fact! (Actually I do know that Missouri averages three to seven tornadoes per 10,000 square miles annually; depending on where you live in the state. Where I live – it is seven/year/10,000 sq mi.) The gut also says it hurts like hell to stand up after helping a neighbor clear gutters (on aluminum ladder with lightning!); and digging channels to funnel water away from his home, where the foundation wall had failed and water was pouring into the basement. Another neighbor wanted me to help sandbag his nearby hometown. Told him I am too broken down to help.

  48. 48
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Ian G.: Or a Holocaust denier. Why not if the goal is to promote Conservative voices at the expense of truth?

  49. 49
    Mike J says:

    The short form of the NYT argument is, “if we don’t know everything, we don’t know anything.”

  50. 50
    Brachiator says:

    @JimV:

    I was looking forward to seeing the movie “Hidden Figures”: a) there are so few movies or TV Shows about engineering

    “Hidden Figures” was not about engineering. It was about people.

    @randy khan:

    (Sort of relatedly, it was hard to get my dad to go to see any movies, because he was a producer for TV commercials and as a consequence noticed nearly any detail in the set or continuity that was wrong, and it bothered him enough to make the movie less enjoyable.)

    A co-worker knew tons about horses and horsemanship. She could not stand to watch almost any movie with horses. She would notice that the wrong kinds of horses were used in scenes with carriages, etc., that a person riding a horse in a Western was “obviously” not a good … whatever you call it. Totally taken out of the movie. Another friend got outraged that a film set in one country was actually filmed in another country that she knew very well. After a while, you have to laugh this stuff off.

  51. 51
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    @Mart: Gut feelings are important too, even as they need to be combined with book larnin’ for outlets like the New York Times. Pictures of glaciers receding and the giant chunks of ice breaking off Antarctica are what has done it for me so far. BTW, there is another system of cracks developing there that could kick out a piece of ice the size of Manhattan.

  52. 52
    🌷 Martin says:

    I employ models on top of models in my work. For some things I have multiple, independent models using different variables (imagine Cheryls 150 variables distilled down into several 6 variable models) and what we look for is convergence of models. Any one variable can go haywire on you for reasons you can’t control let alone measure in a way to see its about to go haywire. My models involve people and their perceptions and some change, such as the election of a dipshit racist can cause students to say ‘hey, maybe we shouldn’t study in the US’ even though there is no actual policy you can look at to gauge who would be affected.

    When things are going well, the models converge and you can give pretty accurate predictions with good confidence. When things aren’t going well, or when a new model is being developed, they diverge and then you give your best guess and warn of a low confidence level, and where to look for early warning signs and how to pre-plan for contingencies.

    What’s most impressive with the climate models is how many of them there are, measuring different variables, and how many of them are convergent and that have good track records of measurements actually matching predictions. This differers from many other scientific fields in that the climate is non-deterministic. You can develop an overarching theory of cell division or relativity or reaction kinetics or whatever and have that single theory hold up. Climate is a different kind of animal due to its complexity – it’s dozens of theories that are complimentary but not overarching. But because there’s no canonical climate theory it looks arbitrary, when in fact it’s a whole pile of parallel, narrow theories that build on each other and all point to the same outcome. In that respect from the outside it looks more like a social science than a physical one, but that’s only because it’s so complex.

  53. 53
    Roger Moore says:

    @Mike J:
    But you notice they don’t use the same standard when they’re the ones proposing we do something new. Then, we just need some evidence that it might work and we’re good to go. The example I like to use is Dick Cheney’s 1% doctrine, where a claimed 1% chance that Iraq had WMDs had to be treated as certainty and thus grounds for invading. But a 1% chance that climate change might be real- and honestly, the worst case scenarios for climate change are a lot scarier than Iraq with WMDs- certainly isn’t enough to justify doing anything. Even a 97% chance that climate change is real isn’t enough. For a conservative, any indication that they might possibly be right is grounds for doing what they want.

  54. 54
    chris says:

    @Brachiator:

    Where are the scientists who can defend Stephens’ so-called position on climate change?

    Oh, they’re out there but he can’t quote them! Even FTNYT couldn’t defend that.

  55. 55
    Kelly says:

    @randy khan: As a retired software guy I find the scenes where the hacker character plugs a macbook into some random system (sometimes it’s space aliens!) and takes it over a bit jarring. But I always manage to get back into the story flow.

  56. 56
    Roger Moore says:

    @Brachiator:
    It can be very disconcerting when a movie is filmed on location in a place you know well. It can really take you out of the action to see places that are far apart treated as if they’re close together or vice versa. Or to see some of the really obvious ways they dress a location to make it look like something it isn’t. I remember seeing one movie with a scene shot at my (then) workplace where they literally draped a sheet over a doorway to hide it. If you didn’t know the location, you probably wouldn’t notice, but having worked there for a couple of years it was really glaring.

  57. 57
    SgrAstar says:

    @Patricia Kayden: Even more infuriating is the seemingly irrefutable connection they insist on making between “conservatism” and climate science. This drives me absolutely crazy! There is nothing inherently political about climate science. The RW has succeeded in politicizing a scientific undertaking which represents the best and ONLY chance we have to mitigate the effects of an onrushing global catastrophe. Coastal residents have a ringside seat for this…we see the effects already, from Miami to San Francisco. Geez.

  58. 58
    KithKanan says:

    @Roger Moore: On the other hand, if the movie is bad to begin with spotting things like that can be part of the fun. One movie used in the new season of MST3K was shot in several locations near Mono Lake that I visited on a vacation back in the fall, so figuring out where they were gave me great amusement.

    I also find it interesting and a little bit disconcerting watching the original Dirty Harry because it was filmed in a San Francisco with a Bank of America building but no Transamerica Pyramid — a skyline that only existed for a couple years.

  59. 59
    Kelly says:

    @Roger Moore: Yes this a thousand times this. Cheney’s 1% perception of danger in Iraq means the most extreme right wing nut job policies must be implemented immediately. But a 97% of billions dieing or being dislocated and impoverished means nothing.

  60. 60
    divF says:

    @Roger Moore:
    A classic example from this is in The Graduate. For years it was traditional for Berkeley movie audiences to shout “you’re going the wrong way!” during the shot showing Dustin Hoffman driving over the upper deck of the Bay Bridge to get to Berkeley.

  61. 61
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @SgrAstar: And let’s be honest. The only reason Conservatives hate climate science is because it may cost industrialists money to address climate change. That’s about it. Whatever hurts their precious 1% must be opposed tooth and nail even if you have to lie about the science.

    @schrodingers_cat: Yep and that’s why I’m surprised that so many liberals/progressives support the NYT.

  62. 62
    ArchTeryx says:

    @Spanky: And people will be wailing about the lack of virologists and medical researchers, when a huge “reserve army of the unemployed” bioscience PhDs sit idle or doing things like secretarial work, instead of what we trained to do.

    Best thing could ever happen for my career is for a viral pandemic to arrive and kill 20% of the total world population. Dark and bleak, but there it is: Either I’d survive the pandemic and never worry about money another day of my life, or get killed by it. Either way, my problems would be over.

  63. 63
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Brachiator:

    “Hidden Figures” was not about engineering. It was about people.

    And its focus is not the math but the people who overcame the racism and sexism that was endemic to their culture and society and did great things. How many viewers give a damn about whether or not the mathematical formulas in the movie are accurate? LOL.

  64. 64
    Kelly says:

    @divF: I watched some John Wayne movie that used the scenic cliffs of Oregon’s Smith Rocks State Park interleaved with some random forest. “Oh, there’s Smith Rocks, no wait there’s no forest like that around there”. I had a similar moment for a movie that filmed a couple scenes on Oregon’s Rogue river and the rest in Montana.

  65. 65
    ArchTeryx says:

    @Patricia Kayden: The equations weren’t bad, actually. The filmmakers did a great job generally of carrying the idea that a new kind of mathematics was being invented: Orbital dynamics. These women weren’t the only ones developing that system, but without their help it would not have been done in time to beat the Russians to the moon. And the most math-smart of them could run those equations off the cuff – a trick few people outside of Einstein, Hawking, and a few others could do.

    And they did it surrounded by a culture not far removed from considering them nothing more then human chattel. I was cheering when the NASA Director more or less said “fuck this shit” and tore down the segregated bathrooms so the work could bloody get done. It may have given a lot of Southern politicians the vapors, but it facilitated the work. Competence should be the only judge.

  66. 66
    Mart says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I had long been on-board with climate change trouble is coming; but the 2012 documentary “Chasing Ice” terrified me. Miles and miles of glaciers disappear in a geologic blink of an eye. Believe available on Netflix.

  67. 67
    Jack the Second says:

    @Kelly: I honestly wonder if the “weathermen are bad at their jobs” cliche would still exist if it weren’t for climate change deniers wanting to score some cheap points with a joke.

  68. 68
    efgoldman says:

    @randy khan:

    I constantly wonder at the impulse that makes newspapers and news channels think that they need to add people to provide perspective from the right, but almost never from the left.

    The NYT’s job (every commercial mediums’ job) is to provide the maximum number of eyeballs to the advertisers, Circulation/click numbers are just a way of counting. Eyeballs are their commodity, the same way gasoline is Exxon’s or jeans are Levi’s.
    Apparently they have some kind of marketing research (or a guess) that more people read dipshits than read Krugman; just as something tells them that more people like their bullshit news coverage than want it straight.

  69. 69
    Kelly says:

    @SgrAstar:

    Even more infuriating is the seemingly irrefutable connection they insist on making between “conservatism” and climate science.

    I grew used to that sort of thing way a back in the evolution/creationism fights. Teach the controversy!

  70. 70
    Brachiator says:

    @Roger Moore:

    It can be very disconcerting when a movie is filmed on location in a place you know well. It can really take you out of the action to see places that are far apart treated as if they’re close together or vice versa. Or to see some of the really obvious ways they dress a location to make it look like something it isn’t.

    This stuff just doesn’t phase me. I live in Southern California. I’ve seen crews dress an LA location on Main Street to look like New York. I’ve seen so much of this stuff that I just let it roll over me when a location is fudged.

    I sat back and relaxed as the recent “LA LA Land” created a version of Los Angeles that does not exist in reality out of pieces of LA, Hermosa Beach, Pasadena, North Hollywood and other locations. And I think recently won a Location related award.

    For some reason, I vividly recall a scene in the movie “Marathon Man” that was supposed to be Manhattan, but was actually filmed at the ARCO Towers in downtown Los Angeles. It immediately stood out for me, but did not affect how I viewed what was happening in the scene.

    To each his or her own, I suppose, when it comes to what you notice and what you let pass.

    OTOH, there are some location scenes in the old movie “I Know Where I’m Going” that are just lit and shot so wonderfully that documentary footage of the same area looks drab by comparison.

  71. 71
    Yarrow says:

    @Kelly: I’ve been watching a lot of TCM lately and saw some film that was supposed to be set in somewhere like Ohio. The characters were walking down the street and the houses had palm trees in the yards. Exactly how I picture Ohio!

  72. 72
    Kelly says:

    @Jack the Second: Probably a bit of that. I figure the main thing is the improvements have been to gradual to notice unless the weather really matters to you.

  73. 73
    Millard Filmore says:

    @Roger Moore:

    It can really take you out of the action to see places that are far apart treated as if they’re close together or vice versa.

    I always liked the old Perry Mason TV show where a character could drive from downtown LA to Santa Monica and back on his lunch break.

  74. 74
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    @Roger Moore: LOL. In “The Milagro Beanfield War,” the bulldozer is trundling across the plain up by Taos, and then, suddenly, toppling over a cliff by Los Alamos. I missed part of the next scene because my brain wouldn’t let go of W.T.F.?

  75. 75
    BBA says:

    I’m a climate skeptic of a different type. I accept that we’re on track for the oceans to boil and life as we know it to end, etc., I’m just skeptical that anything can be done to stop it. Even if everyone on Earth agrees to stop burning hydrocarbons immediately and return to a pre-industrial lifestyle, it’s not going to help much.

  76. 76
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    @Mart: Glacier shrinkage has long impressed me as irrefutable proof of climate change, although as a scientist I insist on the modeling. “Chasing Ice” is excellent.

  77. 77
    Roger Moore says:

    @Patricia Kayden:

    The only reason Conservatives hate climate science is because it may cost industrialists money to address climate change.

    I think there’s a bit more to it than that. Climate change looks exactly like what a conservative would imagine a liberal hoax would look like. Scientists are predicting a terrible catastrophe that will strike a long time in the future but which we need to start dealing with right now. The depends on a bunch of wacky, abstruse modeling that nobody except the scientists involved can understand, and the supposed evidence is either equally abstruse or involves claims that ordinary weather events are somehow a sign that the whole climate is out of whack. The proposed solution involves doing a whole bunch of stuff with energy conservation and renewable energy that liberals have been demanding since the Carter administration. If you were going to create something that would be as easy as possible to sell to conservatives as a liberal hoax, it would look a lot like climate change.

  78. 78
    Brachiator says:

    @Patricia Kayden:

    Yep and that’s why I’m surprised that so many liberals/progressives support the NYT.

    It has generally been better than the alternatives over its 165 year existence.

  79. 79
    JGabriel says:

    Bookmarking this one to share with some climate skeptic friends. Thanks for putting this out there, Cheryl.

  80. 80
    Roger Moore says:

    @Jack the Second:

    I honestly wonder if the “weathermen are bad at their jobs” cliche would still exist if it weren’t for climate change deniers wanting to score some cheap points with a joke.

    It would. Weather forecasting is awful. When the forecasters get it right, nobody notices; when they get it wrong, everyone remembers. And everyone’s standards have gotten much higher as the forecasters have improved, so that people now complain when predicted weather comes half a day earlier or later than was predicted a week earlier.

  81. 81
    Roger Moore says:

    @Millard Filmore:

    I always liked the old Perry Mason TV show where a character could drive from downtown LA to Santa Monica and back on his lunch break.

    That used to be possible. Santa Monica is only about 15 miles from downtown, and lunch breaks used to be longer.

  82. 82
    low-tech cyclist says:

    The whole notion that criticism of Bret Stephens is an assault on freedom of speech is such bullshit.

    Bret Stephens can say whatever he wants, whenever he wants. But the NYT giving him a prestigious platform to speak from, with its huge built-in audience, is not Bret Stephens’ speech, but the New York Times’ speech.

    Apparently what the NYT wants to say is that people need to hear more climate change denial arguments. That’s a weird thing to be saying at this point in history, and they deserve to be slammed for it. Good and hard.

  83. 83
    trollhattan says:

    @divF:

    A classic example from this is in The Graduate. For years it was traditional for Berkeley movie audiences to shout “you’re going the wrong way!” during the shot showing Dustin Hoffman driving a bullet-tail Alfa Duetto Spyder over the upper deck of the Bay Bridge to get to Berkeley.

    Embiggened for the important stuff.

    Staying in the Bay Area, as I endured (and endured) the endless, loud, mindless “The Rock” I finally had my fill when the VX agent, sloshing around in those so-delicate glass spheres, was screaming neon green. “Not so” I yelled at the teevee, “I have the MSDS* for VX and it says it’s ‘clear or straw-colored’.” Take THAT, Michael Bay.

    * True, job-related.

  84. 84
    Kelly says:

    @Roger Moore:

    If you were going to create something that would be as easy as possible to sell to conservatives as a liberal hoax, it would look a lot like climate change.

    Hmm, I hadn’t thought of it that way but yes it would. However underlying that somewhere is a tendency amongst right wingers to see anything that doesn’t fit their worldview as a hoax. Most the right wingers I know think bigotry of all sorts is way overblown.

  85. 85
    Brachiator says:

    @Roger Moore: RE: I always liked the old Perry Mason TV show where a character could drive from downtown LA to Santa Monica and back on his lunch break.

    That used to be possible. Santa Monica is only about 15 miles from downtown, and lunch breaks used to be longer.

    I was watching an old episode of a detective show called “77 Sunset Strip.” The location for the detective’s headquarters was a studio back lot, but the episode actually had the stars drive out to a location in the San Fernando Valley.

  86. 86
    raven says:

    @Brachiator: And the end of “Love and Mercy” where Brian Wilson encounters the sweet lady on Melrose and takes her to his old house in Hawthorne (2 blocks from my sis’s house) in 5 minutes!

  87. 87
    lollipopguild says:

    @Kelly: Facts and reality are “attacking” right wing comfort zones, facts and reality must be destroyed or at least be made to go away.

  88. 88
    germy says:

    Christine Lusey‏
    @retrocampaigns

    Mo Brooks on #Trumpcare: people who “lead good lives” and do things “the right way” should pay less than those with pre-existing conditions.

    https://twitter.com/retrocampaigns/status/859153288389771265

  89. 89
    Brachiator says:

    @SgrAstar:

    Even more infuriating is the seemingly irrefutable connection they insist on making between “conservatism” and climate science. This drives me absolutely crazy! There is nothing inherently political about climate science.

    Agreed. And there is something especially pernicious about Trump’s pro-business model, as though the only thing that can “make America great again” is to throw off all restraints, rules and regulations. Climate change must be denied precisely because it suggests that other reasonable factors have to be taken into consideration.

  90. 90
    Kelly says:

    @lollipopguild: I’m getting grumpier and more caustic every year as my facts get hand waved away by right wingers that won’t do their homework. My crankiness doesn’t win them over but they quit messing with me. The local grassroots right wingers really believe all that stuff.

  91. 91
    different-church-lady says:

    CLIMATE ISN’T A FUCKING POLITICAL ISSUE! IT’S FUCKING SCIENCE!!!!!

    ETA: what they said.

  92. 92
    Roger Moore says:

    @SgrAstar:

    There is nothing inherently political about climate science.

    There’s nothing inherently political about climate science, or any other kind of science, for that matter. Climate policy, OTOH, is inherently political. The conservatives’ problem is that climate science is saying things that make their preferred climate policy of doing nothing look really awful. Their solution, as is usually the case with modern conservatives, is to attack the science so they can keep promoting their policy preference.

  93. 93
    Brachiator says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Also, I wanted to throw in that your explanation of models was wonderfully lucid. Thanks very much.

  94. 94
    Van Buren says:

    @Roger Moore: Spent Sunday with a bunch of trial lawyers who discussed TV/movies that got it all wrong. One had an entire litany going back to the 80s of questions that could not be asked in real life. It seemed to be her hobby.

  95. 95
    Unknown known says:

    In the 80’s flick Short Circuit 2, the robot at the end takes his oath of American citizenship in front of the Ontario Legislature in Toronto (albeit draped for the purpose in American flags). It’s not the kind of film that requires deep absorption, but I find it really funny every time I so much as think of it.

  96. 96
    Yarrow says:

    @germy: All those opioid addicts in Trump country will have to pay more. Or is “doing things the right way” code for being white?

  97. 97
    TenguPhule says:

    @germy:

    people who “lead good lives” and do things “the right way” should pay less than those with pre-existing conditions.

    Life is a pre-existing condition that leads to death. Apparently they have not realized this yet.

  98. 98
    Mary G says:

    I never found a way to fix the results convincingly. I think it is because there are so many moving parts that messing with one is like pushing down on a bump in the rug. It shows up in an unrealistic result somewhere else.

    That is such an elegant explanation of science. Thanks.

  99. 99
    Roger Moore says:

    @Yarrow:

    Or is “doing things the right way” code for being white?

    I assume it’s code for “being one of Us”. Of course the Us they’re talking about are the rich, but they’re perfectly fine with WWC assuming they mean whites.

  100. 100
    efgoldman says:

    @Unknown known:

    In the 80’s flick Short Circuit 2, the robot at the end takes his oath of American citizenship in front of the Ontario Legislature in Toronto

    And the classic in a Spenser for Hire TV episode where Spenser walks up the steps and opens a door to Boston’s Symphony Hall, and walks into the interior of New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall, up the street. (The Boston Symphony wouldn’t allow filming inside)

  101. 101
    dmsilev says:

    @germy:

    People who “lead good lives” and do things “the right way” should pay less than those with pre-existing conditions.

    I’d agree, just so long as we stipulate that “chose to run for office as a Republican” be treated as irrefutable evidence for failure to lead a good life.

  102. 102
    Tilda Swintons Bald Cap says:

    Wilbur Ross Calls Syria Attack Trump’s ‘Entertainment’ At Mar-A-Lago

  103. 103
    Davebo says:

    Outstanding post Cheryl!

    Can’t say how much I appreciate your efforts here to inform us degenerates!

  104. 104
    Emma says:

    @namekarB: My first PoliSci professor, back in the 1970s, told all his students that the New York Times was required reading in order to find out what the upper classes were thinking.Except he said rich bastards.

  105. 105
    stinger says:

    @Yarrow: There’s an episode in the original MacGyver TV series where the hero has flown into (or is about to fly out of) rural Iowa. In the background is a mountain. It coulda been filmed in my backyard (from whence I can also see Russia)!

  106. 106
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Roger Moore: Sahil Kapur‏Verified account @sahilkapur 12m12 minutes ago
    Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Long Island) says he’s leaning toward yes on revised AHCA.

    Rep. Peter King (R-NY) says he’s “leaning toward” yes on AHCA mainly to get it to the Senate. “I would hope it gets changed over there.”

    Reminds of Trent Lott’s greeting to Hyde after the House approved articles of impeachment for the Clenis, from memory: ‘You’re not just gonna dump this shit on my desk, Henry.’ Then Henry did.

  107. 107
    dmsilev says:

    @Tilda Swintons Bald Cap: Via TPM,

    “Just as dessert was being served, the President explained to Mr. Xi he had something he wanted to tell him, which was the launching of 59 missiles into Syria,” Ross said, as quoted by Variety. “It was in lieu of after-dinner entertainment.”

    The crowd laughed, according to the report, at which point Ross added: “The thing was, it didn’t cost the president anything to have that entertainment.”

    According to a report by MarketWatch, the U.S. military, on the other hand, likely paid around $1 million for each Tomahawk missile — 59 of which were used in the strike.

    Government of, by, and for sociopaths.

  108. 108

    Cheryl, allow me to recommend (if you do not know it already) Azimuth, the blog of John Baez. He is a mathematical physicist who came to climatology through his study of other complex, non-linear, self-interacting systems. He has a gift for explaining these kinds of things. Among his fascinating articles over the years, I particularly remember one on the Milankovic cycles.

  109. 109

    @stinger: Yeah and young James Kirk, from Iowa, drove a car into a huge canyon in the Star Trek reboot.

  110. 110
    Tilda Swintons Bald Cap says:

    @TopherSpiro
    This is a BOMBSHELL from @MattAFiedler: amendment would gut catastrophic protections FOR PEOPLE WITH EMPLOYER COVERAGE NATIONWIDE. RETWEET!

  111. 111
    stinger says:

    @Iowa Old Lady: Riverside, Iowa: Canyonland, USA.

  112. 112
    TenguPhule says:

    @Tilda Swintons Bald Cap: This is a feature, not a bug for the GOP.

  113. 113

    @raven:

    Brian Wilson encounters the sweet lady on Melrose and takes her to his old house in Hawthorne

    Which is now under the 105 freeway.

  114. 114
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    So I see that the WaPo‘s Ruth Marcus, after a few welcome weeks of sounding like a reasonable, rational, thoughtful human being, has reverted to type. Not linking — you can do that on your own if you wish — but she has a column commending the NYTimes for adding Bret Stephens to their op-ed roster. Sorry, Ruth, I hardly trust you to begin with and I certainly don’t need you to send me to the FTFNYT to read the humanity-killing views of a notorious climate change denialist.

  115. 115
    Yarrow says:

    @Tilda Swintons Bald Cap: Might as well blow up the whole thing if they’re going to blow up some of it.

    People with employer based insurance think they’re safe. They aren’t. Let your friends and family know.

  116. 116
    lollipopguild says:

    @stinger: There is a scene in “Pearl Harbor” (yes, I know) where they are at an air field on Long Island and there are mountains in the background.

  117. 117
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    Can’t edit for some reason, but I would add that I’m thoroughly sick of the “Give’emachance” folks. “Give Trump a chance!” “Give Bret Stephens a chance!”

    Yeah, nope.

  118. 118
    Raven says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: Yup, my has sister lived on 120th since before it was built.

  119. 119
    lollipopguild says:

    @Yarrow: If the idiots actually pass this, I can see GOP politicians being attacked and killed.

  120. 120
    Raven says:

    @Yarrow: “Them” is set in Illinois and those mountains are in plain view.

  121. 121

    So it’s late in the day and stupid amendments are flying around for the healthcare bill? Good times. CNN last I saw an alert was framing it as “two [votes] away from another healthcare failure”.

  122. 122

    @SiubhanDuinne: “Give him a chance” implies wiping the slate clean from the horrible things they said and did until the day they got the new job. Who gets to do that? There are consequences! Or should be.

  123. 123
    efgoldman says:

    @Raven:

    “Them” is set in Illinois and those mountains are in plain view.

    You find gigundo ants where they are, not where you wish they were.

  124. 124

    @efgoldman: same with regular ants.

  125. 125
    dmsilev says:

    @Major Major Major Major: It’s impressive that every amendment offered so far has made the bill _worse_ in terms of impact on ordinary people. That level of consistency doesn’t happen by accident; it takes real devotion to group sociopathy to pull that off.

  126. 126
    Roger Moore says:

    @Major Major Major Major:
    Are they still committed to voting before CBO can score the thing?

  127. 127
    efgoldman says:

    @dmsilev:

    It’s impressive that every amendment offered so far has made the bill _worse_ in terms of impact on ordinary people.

    They’re nailing down the kkkrazy kkkaukus votes and hoping that enough of the moderates cowards don’t break ranks.
    Or maybe this has just returned to their greatest hits: a failure to repeal Obamacare for the 7396th time.

  128. 128
    dmsilev says:

    @Roger Moore: I don’t think anyone knows at this point. No timing on a vote has been announced that I’m aware of, but the bill keeps changing and there doesn’t seem to be any chance that it will stabilize for the few days that CBO would need for even a preliminary estimate.

    If they do manage to jam something through, presumably there will be a CBO report before the Senate takes action (since “fast-track” and US Senate are contradictory terms).

  129. 129

    @dmsilev: yeah, it’s pretty amazing.

    @Roger Moore: hell if I know, I don’t believe anything these people say about the legislative process.

  130. 130
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Iowa Old Lady:

    Exactly so. Going through an expected and normal learning curve is one thing — there’s never been a new POTUS (or a new anybody in any job, for that matter) who didn’t have some important things to learn. But the default assumption is, or should be, that (a) they’ve demonstrated readiness for learning the new stuff, and (b) that they are actually capable of absorbing new information and are not actively incurious and anti-intellectual.

  131. 131
    low-tech cyclist says:

    Off topic, but the other day, Politico reported that while the NRCC is throwing a couple million to tar Rob Quist in the race for the Montana House seat, the DCCC is holding its fire while they decide whether Quist can win.

    They don’t seem to understand that people will give them more money if they actually contest races like this. Those of us who are marching and calling our Congresspeople and getting involved with our local Democratic parties, we want to see the national party fight. We’re doing our part, but they’re not doing theirs.

    So if you share these sentiments, please call the DCCC at (202) 863-1500 and let them know what you think.

    I understand that next year, when there will be 435 House races, they can’t throw a lot of money at each one. But there’s only a handful of House races this year, and yes, they can afford to contest them all.

    Not only that, but this is the classic ‘spend money to make money’ situation. If they don’t contest races this year when they can contest them all, why should we give them any money for next year? But if they take the money they’ve got and use it to fight the good fight, then that gives us reason to believe it’s worth giving to them in 2018 as well.

  132. 132
    dm says:

    @Kelly: An additional problem that climate change presents to conservatives is that it’s a case of market-failure. Existing market mechanisms don’t deal with it well, so it looks like government action is required.

    Smart conservatives realize that what the government might do is create mechanims that fosters a market that solves the problem (e.g., carbon-trading, or perhaps taxing carbon emissions to foster a market in being clever and reducing those emissions). But that imposes costs on rich people who are currently getting something for free, so it’s something of a non-starter.

  133. 133
    A Ghost to Most says:

    Popular Fox News nighttime host Sean Hannity may leave the conservative news network as early as after this evening’s broadcast following Monday’s resignation of Fox News co-president Bill Shine, reports the Daily Beast.

    rawstory

  134. 134
    dm says:

    @Iowa Old Lady: …across the desert, though I suppose that bit was a post-climate-change Iowa of the 24th century.

    I thought the canyon was a construction site (in fact, I thought it was some sort of Starfleet drydock, but didn’t spend a lot of time trying to figure how that made sense).

  135. 135
    liberal says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: what did you expect from a centrist MSM moron?

  136. 136
    BBA says:

    @A Ghost to Most: why couldn’t this shit have hit the fan a year ago, when there was still hope for this country’s future? Though I guess now they can’t blame Obummer for shutting Fox down — OR CAN THEY?

  137. 137

    @BBA: they can blame obummer for anything, baby.

  138. 138
    Baud says:

    Trump ad on MSNBC. Fascinating.

  139. 139
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Baud: An ad? WTF?

  140. 140
    Baud says:

    @low-tech cyclist: I thought the DCCC was putting some money into the race.

  141. 141
    Baud says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Yep. Like a campaign commercial. About all his accomplishments.

  142. 142
    efgoldman says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    they can blame obummer for anything, baby.

    Fuck, they’re still blaming hippies for stuff.

  143. 143
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Baud: We are through the looking glass here.

  144. 144
    efgoldman says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    this is the classic ‘spend money to make money’ situation. If they don’t contest races this year when they can contest them all, why should we give them any money for next year?

    Hadn’t thought about it that way, but you’re exactly right.

  145. 145
    Sab says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Totally enjoying the annual springtime regular ant invasion of my kitchen. They are hauling away catfood from the counter. My experiment this year is to make it the cats’ problem. “Defend your turf, felines”.

  146. 146
    sharl says:

    Well, haterzz, someone from the NYT op-ed page is too blissful to care what y’all think:

    Amanda Hess‏ @amandahess

    Maureen Dowd grammed David Brooks’s wedding last night 🙌 https://www.instagram.com/nytimesdowd/

    Noah McCormack @noahmccormack

    Omg. Of course Rahm was there.
    _____________________________

    Kelsey D. Atherton‏ @AthertonKD

    he’s gonna happily cheerlead a war now, isn’t he?
    _____________________________

    Noah McCormack‏ @noahmccormack

    I don’t know maybe sexual satiation will distract him
    _____________________________

    Brandy Jensen‏ @BrandyLJensen

    I’m reporting this tweet

  147. 147
    Baud says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: The looking Glass is five exits in our rear view mirror.

  148. 148
    Another Scott says:

    @joel hanes: It’s kind of amazing how much of this was figured out in the late 1800s.

    NASA:

    Arrhenius argued that variations in trace constituents—namely carbon dioxide—of the atmosphere could greatly influence the heat budget of the Earth. Using the best data available to him (and making many assumptions and estimates that were necessary), he performed a series of calculations on the temperature effects of increasing and decreasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. His calculations showed that the “temperature of the Arctic regions would rise about 8 degrees or 9 degrees Celsius, if the carbonic acid increased 2.5 to 3 times its present value. In order to get the temperature of the ice age between the 40th and 50th parallels, the carbonic acid in the air should sink to 0.62 to 0.55 of present value (lowering the temperature 4 degrees to 5 degrees Celsius).”

    It was impossible for him to get the details exactly right, but the overall picture is correct.

    We really do stand on the shoulders of our ancestors, if we’re willing to do so (and stop rolling around in the mud). Cheryl’s excellent post is a great explanation of the fact that we really don’t need to have every I dotted and T crossed to have a really good idea of what’s happening. We do need good models and good data to know the best way to attack the problem though.

    What made the scariness of CO2 click with me is the fact that the Earth as a whole is in a kind of equilibrium before people start messing with it. We’ve dumped billions of tons of CO2 that were locked up over millions of years back into the atmosphere in the span of decades. One doesn’t have to understand PDEs and finite element modeling and albedo and chemical reactions and all the rest to see that it is foolishness to think that we wouldn’t be changing the atmospheric system by doing so.

    Thanks, Cheryl. Well done.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  149. 149

    @efgoldman: a socialist friend of mine posted an interesting thing on FB the other day. A very interesting take on hippie-blaming.

    Richard Sennett’s opening to his book “The Culture of the New Capitalism” is pretty brutal:

    “Half a century ago, in the 1960s—that fabled era of free sex and free access to drugs— serious young radicals took aim at institutions, in particular big corporations and big government, whose size, complexity, and rigidity seemed to hold individuals in an iron grip. The Port Huron Statement, a founding document of the New Left in 1962, was equally hard on state socialism and multinational corporations; both regimes seemed bureaucratic prisons.

    History has partly granted the framers of the Port Huron Statement their wish. The socialist rule of five year plans, of centralized economic control, is gone. So is the capitalist corporation that provided employees jobs for life, that supplied the same products and services year after year. So also welfare institutions like health care and education have become less fixed in form and smaller in scale. The goal for rulers today, as for radicals fifty years ago, is to take apart rigid bureaucracy.

    Yet history has granted the New Left its wish in a perverse form. The insurgents of my youth believed that by dismantling institutions they could produce communities: face-to-face relations of trust and solidarity, relations constantly negotiated and renewed, a communal realm in which people became sensitive to one another’s needs. This certainly has not happened.”

  150. 150
    efgoldman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    We are through the looking glass here.

    Like a vibrating crystal, we are thru, out the other side, back thru again, faster than the eye can see.
    Lewis Carroll would have to find another metaphor.

  151. 151
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    But the default assumption is, or should be, that (a) they’ve demonstrated readiness for learning the new stuff, and (b) that they are actually capable of absorbing new information and are not actively incurious and anti-intellectual.

    W mortally wounded that assumption; trump pulled the plug.

  152. 152
    Baud says:

    @Major Major Major Major: So it is the hippies’ fault??!!

  153. 153
    debbie says:

    @A Ghost to Most:

    Where would Sean be taking his talents?

  154. 154

    @Baud: their problem was always a misinterpretation of human nature.

  155. 155
  156. 156
    Prometheus Shrugged says:

    @Boussinesque:

    It’s beyond infuriating that these ideologues with no idea (or interest in learning) about how models actual work are given platforms to bloviate and impugn the integrity of the entire field.

    As a working climate scientist, this is precisely how I feel about Stephens and the Times.

    On the other hand, most of the comments about the climate system in this thread are spot-on, even coming from those that claim they know nothing about climate science. Very encouraging that there are solid pockets of humanity immune to the bloviator’s demagoguery! And no wonder I’m a habitual BJ lurker….

  157. 157
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Baud:
    @Omnes Omnibus:

    An ad? WTF?

    @Baud:

    Yep. Like a campaign commercial.

    Not “like” a campaign commercial. An actual campaign commercial. Remember, he filed paperwork to run for re-election on January fucking 20th — Inauguration Day, FFS. His “rally” in Harrisburg the other night was paid for by his re-election campaign, and he can pull in vast sums of money because it’s for a political campaign. Watch for much more of this.

  158. 158
    efgoldman says:

    Adam, you out there? Here we go again with goaltender interference.
    Although this one looks almost clear.

  159. 159
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Steve in the ATL:

    W mortally wounded that assumption; trump pulled the plug.

    What a sad and sorrowful state of affairs it is that I find myself yearning for the golden days of the W administration.

  160. 160

    James Hansen, who has been right about climate change over and over, prefers studying paleoclimate data to modeling. And the paleoclimate data supports the case for climate change. So the historical data (I am not sure you can call it experimental, when the experiment happen eons ago) and the models agree. But Mr. Stephens (I checked, his degree is a masters in political science) waves all that away.

    There is, perhaps, an inherent problem in politicians and political theorists engaging physical science. In politics a kind of magic is possible; people can be persuaded. But no-one can persuade the sun and wind.

  161. 161

    @Baud: sorry, I ignore actual hippies so hard I sometimes forget they exist still.

  162. 162
    Chet Murthy says:

    @low-tech cyclist: ltc, I take your point, and will restate it: the DCCC don’t understand that these races are purely symbolic, and that’s why they’re important — to show the people that we can fight back and win, to show that our party’s not going to take this lying down, etc. B/c at the end of the day, the Rs will STILL have control of the HoR, even if we win all these. I mean, this is -politics-. It’s -all- about convincing people. If you can’t convince people, you can’t govern. It’s not hard.

    OK. So, that said, I wonder whether the DCCC is really just painting itself into irrelevancy. In the last cycle, I donated to (I think) 7 candidates for HoR and Senate, thru Sam Wang’s actblue list. I would have done it thru DailyKos (or this site) otherwise. In short, maybe the DCCC is just ….. obsolete?

    I don’t actually know, which is why I’m asking. I’m completely willing and ready to learn that it’s actually critical that it works well. But equally ready to find out that it just doesn’t matter anymore. Or won’t, soon.

  163. 163
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @efgoldman:

    Lewis Carroll would have to find another metaphor.

    Rabbit holes, Cheshire Cat grins, Caterpillar hookah smoke, slithey toves, dormice in teapots…..

  164. 164
    Goku says:

    @lollipopguild: Make it so, FSM! If it’s passed, that is

  165. 165
    efgoldman says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    I sometimes forget they exist still.

    Do they? Really?
    I haven’t seen any in the wild in a long time.

  166. 166
    Sab says:

    @Raven Onthill: Why does a degree in political “science” entitle anyone to comment on antyhing? Kind of like Robert Samuelson with his political science degree spouting economic gibberish for a generation. At least when I was I college in the seventies. I took a bunch of economic courses outside my major. But of course I was not aspiring to be a right wing pundit. I just wanted to understand my governmental environment.

  167. 167
    dm says:

    @efgoldman: “Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac”

  168. 168
    Another Scott says:

    @ArchTeryx: Somehow I don’t recall October 1999 as being paradise on Earth. YMMV.

    Hang in there.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  169. 169
    Dmbeaster says:

    @Roger Moore: A bizarre mislocation was The Deer Hunter with the hunting scenes supposedly in the Alleghenies but shot in the Cascades in Washington. As if all mountains are the same, but I guess I am just a cranky mountaineer.

  170. 170
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @efgoldman: even the pens haters in my FB feed (and why are there so many?!) are finding the officiating to be ridiculous

  171. 171

    @Patricia Kayden: “The only reason Conservatives hate climate science is because it may cost industrialists money to address climate change.”

    Much more than that; the oil and coal reserves have money value. Law that requires those reserves to be left in the ground would cause wealth to evaporate. It is, perhaps, analogous to the situation of wealth in the antebellum South; ending slavery would have impoverished the wealthy whites of the South.

  172. 172
    Ohio Mom says:

    @sharl: who’s the lucky young woman?

    Might have to google that.

    ETA: his research assistant Anne Synder, 23 years his junior. How unpredictable.

  173. 173
    sharl says:

    @Ohio Mom: I didn’t look for her name. Whoever she is, hopefully she’ll be a good influence on him, including the heretofore weaselly missives he sends from his safe perch at the NYT.

    ETA: his research assistant Anne Synder, 23 years his junior. How unpredictable.

    ETA: Hahaha, scratch my hopeful response.

  174. 174
    Ruckus says:

    @Mike J:

    “if we don’t know everything, we don’t know anything.”

    And now they try to prove it every issue.

  175. 175
    MomSense says:

    Go check out Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Science.

  176. 176
    Ruckus says:

    @🌷 Martin:
    Are you saying that we need “Climate Change for Dummies?”
    Telling them it’s complex only seems to make their brains glaze over.
    Also think of it from their direction, the earth is warming up and humans are causing it, so if they can have a policy that reduces the number of humans, problem solved. See it’s not that complex.

  177. 177
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Another Scott:

    It’s kind of amazing how much of this was figured out in the late 1800s.

    This. That there is a forcing (currently roughly 3 watts/square meter) has been clear for a long time, and also that we will be stuck with it for a long while. (Prometheus Shrugged – I don’t know this stuff so please correct if wrong.)
    Another issue (besides excess heat retention) is oceanic acidification, with poorly modeled, almost certainly deleterious, effects on the ocean food chains (starting with phytoplankton). (Oceans supply a lot of humanity’s food.)
    Expecting that the turn of the American right’s canon (re climate change) will be from denial towards (Emergency! Big profits!) geoengineering, but that will have to include CO2 removal by some means, else (1) the oceans remain acidified and (2) warming spikes if e.g. civilization collapses and the insolation blocking mechanism(s) stops being maintained. (Assuming that sort of geoengineering.)

    Climate change deniers are quite literally threatening my blood relatives and descendants. From my point of view.

  178. 178
    jl says:

    There are enough good time series of different components of climate measurement and forcings now that you can do interesting things without climate models. Just statistics on the multiple time series.

    Disentangling greenhouse warming and aerosol cooling to reveal Earth’s climate sensitivity
    Storelvmo, Leirvik, Lohmann, Phillips and Wild
    Nature Geoscience 9, 286–289 (2016)
    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/jou.....o2670.html

  179. 179
    HinTN says:

    @JimV: The movie went for dramatic effect. Read the book! It’s about far more than just the narrow, and erroneous, focus of the flick.

  180. 180

    At the start of any disaster movie, they always ignored the scientists.

  181. 181

    @Roger Moore: Some key scenes in Avengers: Winter Soldier were shot literally outside of my door. I think its pretty fucking cool to walk by it every day, and think, that’s where they had this fight, or that’s where this blew up.

  182. 182
    Ruckus says:

    @Millard Filmore:
    In the Perry Mason days one could drive from downtown to Santa Monica on a lunch break. Now it almost takes an extended vacation.

  183. 183
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Ruckus: Don’t you have a helicopter? You must get one.

  184. 184
    momus says:

    Physical models summarize our understanding of various complex natural phenomena. The models are incomplete because our understanding is incomplete. There are many climate change models. Comparing their results provides a probability distribution of likely outcomes. Comparing model predictions with new results gives us a sense of how well the models are at predicting climate change. In contrast, the deniers don’t have a physical model. Their explanations have ranged from misrepresentations of the atom physics involved to what can be described as “just-so” stories from “its not our fault that cows fart” to “climate has always cycled” to “god wouldn’t allow this to happen.”

  185. 185
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @momus:

    god wouldn’t allow this to happen.

    They should go talk to Job.

  186. 186
    momus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I believe it was Congressman Shimkus (R-IL) that said that.

  187. 187
    J R in WV says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    You CLICKED on the NYT~!?!?!?!?!?!???? WHY!!!???

    Because I didn’t. And if I did, I have an Ad Blocker installed, so they shouldn’t have counted my clicks, as no ads were shown. But I didn’t go there at all.

  188. 188
    Rick O'Leary says:

    @Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes: Or Hillary Clinton.

  189. 189
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Rick O’Leary: Hmmm. New here. Russian troll late to the convo or fellow traveling idiot?

  190. 190
    Mart says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: @Rick O’Leary: I got me one of these bad boys to speed up my commute: http://money.cnn.com/2017/04/2.....lying-car/

  191. 191
    SomeDude says:

    I was a weather forecaster, and prior to that, a weather observer in the Air Force. The strides in accuracy I saw while working over fourteen years was exceptional. When I began my career, the accuracy of a forecast beyond three days was wishful thinking. I saw Doppler radar come into use, better computer modeling, and better communications technology enable us to greatly improve our forecasts, watches, and warnings.
    I’ve kept up with the continuous changes as technology and models improve. What we are getting are refinements and improvements to what we already have a good grasp of – but the devil is in the details. The more solid the starting point, the better you can predict what happens further out. Climate models are conservative in their outlook, since they’re still working on the details. Our problem is that the ‘worst case’ model from a few years ago is starting to look tame, as the models improve and receive more up to date data. I don’t know how we can change the conservative narrative, but I do know there will come a point at which even they will have to admit some thing should be done (but probably too late…).

  192. 192
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    @SomeDude: Yes. I love following the weather, but the forecasts have gotten so good that it’s almost boring. They’re not perfect, though, and what I see mostly criticized is the Weather Service practice of worst-case forecasting for storms. Although this weekend’s snow in Santa Fe fully lived up to that.

    Then there’s the “How can ya predict climate if you can’t predict weather hur hur hur,” which of course is a learned response rather than a criticism. I suppose it will go away when those idiots get washed away.

    The weather models are different from the climate models, but built on the same fundamentals.

  193. 193
    SomeDude says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Yes, the while ‘joke’ about predicting weather got to me, and I’d sometimes ask the person to explain a cloud. Kind of shut them up with that.
    The forecasts for worst case is a bit of a learned CYA, since if it were soft-peddled folks would take even fewer precautions. We have idiots who ignore the “don’t drive flooded road” signs, and either are rescued from their floating vehicles, or die. You’ve probably seen or read about ‘Hurricane Parties’, and the tragedies they turn into. There is something in the human psyche that just can’t fathom that “a little wind and rain” can kill.
    Heck, I busted my first official forecast when I discounted the effect of a ‘weak’ shortwave. I’d forecasted morning fog, late morning drizzle, clearing by noon. That shortwave turned the weather to light snow from 5am to almost noon. I learned my lesson, and fortunately, only my pride was hurt. A missed call with severe weather has consequences and a load of recrimination I’d never want to deal with.
    When I started, we had satellite photos printed out, and fanned them flip book style to see cloud movement. We colored paper charts, and traced previous charts weather features to judge the movement of systems at various levels. Today, you can loop clouds from around the globe on a screen, moving them forward and back as you wish. Computer screens graphically show the various levels of the atmosphere, and.are easily manipulated to show features I wish I could have analyzed back when I was forecasting. Doppler radar can slice and dice tornado features which were only theorized when I was at forecasting school. I’ll take the accuracy and hyping of storms over ‘the good old days’ anytime.

  194. 194
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @Chet Murthy:

    I wonder whether the DCCC is really just painting itself into irrelevancy. In the last cycle, I donated to (I think) 7 candidates for HoR and Senate, thru Sam Wang’s actblue list. I would have done it thru DailyKos (or this site) otherwise. In short, maybe the DCCC is just ….. obsolete?

    I don’t actually know, which is why I’m asking. I’m completely willing and ready to learn that it’s actually critical that it works well. But equally ready to find out that it just doesn’t matter anymore. Or won’t, soon.

    This is a good question, and I’m not sure I know the answer, but I should at least put my thoughts on the table.

    1) Yes, ActBlue has turned into a wonderful mechanism for people like us to contribute to races directly. In that sense, we can bypass the DNC, DCCC, and DSCC. Probably not so much the DLCC, which supports Dem candidates for state legislatures around the country.

    2) But even then, you’ve got to know enough to know who curates a good list of campaigns to give to. Ten or twelve years ago, DailyKos and MyDD were good sites to get info about such things. MyDD died long ago, and DKos became insufferable almost as long ago.

    Then I became a parent, and had no time to root around and find out who had a good list, let alone evaluate the candidates myself. I all but stopped contributing to campaigns for a few cycles because I didn’t know who was worth giving to. I had money, I wanted to give, but didn’t know where to put it. A trustworthy set of Dem campaign orgs would have solved that problem.

    3) But even a good list only takes care of the ‘which candidates already running do I give to?’ problem. Really only the Democratic party orgs can deal with the nitty-gritty of party-building – recruiting and supporting candidates for local and state legislature races, building the bench and the local orgs so that state legislatures in blue states aren’t dominated by Republicans, and so we’re active on the level where future Congressional candidates and candidates for statewide office are developing.

    So I guess my conclusion is that the party orgs are necessary in part, and replaceable in part. But I’m hardly an expert on any of this, so even that conclusion isn’t exactly hard and fast. I wish I had all the answers, but I don’t.

    But I still think leaning on the Dem organizations is worth doing.

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