Steven Koonin: A ‘Red Team’ exercise would strengthen climate science 

Posted: April 21, 2017 by oldbrew in climate, Critique, opinion, Uncertainty


Put the ‘consensus’ to a test, and improve public understanding, through an open, adversarial process, says Steven Koonin in the Wall Street Journal.
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Tomorrow’s March for Science will draw many thousands in support of evidence-based policy making and against the politicization of science.

A concrete step toward those worthy goals would be to convene a “Red Team/Blue Team” process for climate science, one of the most important and contentious issues of our age.

The national-security community pioneered the “Red Team” methodology to test assumptions and analyses, identify risks, and reduce—or at least understand—uncertainties.

The process is now considered a best practice in high-consequence situations such as intelligence assessments, spacecraft design and major industrial operations. It is very different and more rigorous than traditional peer review, which is usually confidential and always adjudicated, rather than public and moderated.

The public is largely unaware of the intense debates within climate science. At a recent national laboratory meeting, I observed more than 100 active government and university researchers challenge one another as they strove to separate human impacts from the climate’s natural variability.

At issue were not nuances but fundamental aspects of our understanding, such as the apparent—and unexpected—slowing of global sea-level rise over the past two decades. Summaries of scientific assessments meant to inform decision makers, such as the United Nations’ Summary for Policymakers, largely fail to capture this vibrant and developing science.

Consensus statements necessarily conceal judgment calls and debates and so feed the “settled,” “hoax” and “don’t know” memes that plague the political dialogue around climate change.

We scientists must better portray not only our certainties but also our uncertainties, and even things we may never know. Not doing so is an advisory malpractice that usurps society’s right to make choices fully informed by risk, economics and values.

Moving from oracular consensus statements to an open adversarial process would shine much-needed light on the scientific debates.

Comtinued here.

  1. oldbrew says:

    JC reflections: ‘Well, I think of this as sort of a red team exercise.’

  2. dscott says:

    Sounds good but in the end, it’s the public’s perception that matters. Late snows in Poland, 90% apple crop loss across Europe, etc sways public opinion and in turn signals to politicians that the scam is unsustainable in electoral terms. IF Brexit has shown anything, it demonstrates to politicians that ignoring the voter’s perception is a losing deal.

    Websites like this one, and others like which aggregates weather articles from all over the world blows up the AGW argument with a constant stream of anecdotal data which is where the average reader is. Anecdotal data is demonstrable, while scientific data is ethereal. Remember, the success of the AGW movement has been strictly on misrepresenting data and making false assertions using weather event anomalies. Two can play at that game. Hence weather is not climate meme by AGW cultists who promptly use weather events to support their specious claims. Perception and fact doesn’t always run a parallel path.

    Scientists would do better to use weather events to force AGW cultists to explain away their existence thus neutralizing the main element of deception by the cultists, the use of anecdotal data or weather events. It’s called making someone intellectually walk the plank, then sawing it off when they get to the absurd end. e.g. warm weather causes increased snow fall. You saw off the plank by pointing out that it takes COLD air of 32 F or less to make snow. COLD air is NOT warming. I use this particular example to great effect when someone spouts this trope, then end the conversation with the word “moron”. It immediately destroys their perception of how smart they are by having repeated a talking point that is revealed as stupid.

    IF one is insistent on a scientific data approach, then at least point out that the Latent Heat of Fusion is the AGW cultist weak spot where it comes to the polar regions. It takes 1/2 btu/# to raise the temperature of ice one degree F; it takes 144 btu/#/F to MELT ice to water; after that it takes 1 btu/# to raise water one degree F. It takes a little less than 1/2 btu/# to change the temperature of air. In other words in order to melt the ice caps it would take 144 times the energy absorption, i.e. AGW to cause the polar caps to melt. The energy involved to cause this situation is far outside the realm of what they even purport.

    The same is true of the Latent Heat of Vaporization, it takes 970 btu/# to evaporate one pound of water into water vapor. This creates a strong cooling effect that limits any temperature increase of the planet. We use this principle in cooling towers for air conditioning. E.g. as a general rule of thumb a cooling tower can lower water temperature approx. 15 F below ambient air conditions. When you evaporate water, heat is taken from the whole body of water and transferred in a concentrated amount in water vapor, which causes that remaining body of water to cool because it provided heat for some water to change it’s physical state to vapor.

    BTW – now you should understand why the oceans are colder in progressively lower layers. The top layers are warm due to conduction and convection of air, radiant energy of the sun and water density effects of warming water but heat is drawn from the whole of the body of water to supply heat to allow evaporation locally on the surface. The ocean depths are cold because of evaporation on the surface. The ocean is a heat engine. One pound of water evaporated causes 970 pounds of water to DECREASE one degree F.

  3. TA says:

    I would like to see something like this happen. The more light shone on the subject, the better.

  4. Harry Passfield says:

    Well, perhaps the Red Team could sort out this conundrum: If the scientists tell us that (weather x 30 years) affects (becomes) the climate, how come the policy-makers want us to believe that the Climate is affecting the weather?

  5. oldbrew says:

    Harry – let’s state the obvious: the conundrum only exists for those who claim the only significant variables are internal to the Earth’s atmosphere.

  6. “…this vibrant and developing science”.

    Not until they all admit that there is no valid global climate science, and no competent climate scientists. Because it is divorced from real physics and even an honest and competent scientific method, and thus reality.

    There can be no public debate on climate science in the present tattered, and backward, intellectual atmosphere (a diseased atmosphere, from political abuse); the common experience of all of us, that I have seen and commented upon for the past 7 years, proves that.

    An incompetent generation of scientists, along with a criminal generation of politicians, have shown they cannot debate anything on its merits, in the interest of finding the truth.

  7. Paul Vaughan says:

    We already know from a full decade of observation that this red vs. blue team approach (which has been happening the whole time) isn’t working.

    It’s a panel of challenged perception and political spin vs. another panel of challenged perception and political spin. Worse than going nowhere it has always accelerated backwards.

    There exists no one qualified to serve with integrity. Literally no such person exists. In such a context, panels can only be facades.

    Formalizing the ongoing production of dark ignorance and/or deception (what red vs. blue is “accomplishing” in the hopelessly twisted climate context) is an unappetizing recipe for same old (decade old) stale and crusty.

    You don’t need an adversarial approach to do raw exploration.
    Exploration isn’t a fight. Rather it’s a delightful walk in the hills.

    It’s naturally superior to simply shine light.

  8. oldbrew says:

    But giving the IPCC a walkover isn’t the way to go.

  9. dscott says:

    A better response:

    Time to defund the weather-forecasting rent-seekers

    “The scientific evidence is now overwhelming: our planet is warming, largely due to emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities.”

    Yet it is these very same Collectivists who demand that we seek for “the scientific evidence” in the peer-reviewed learned journals. Four years ago a clutch of Collectivists so wedded to the totalitarian Party Line that their leader has been known to wear an SS-style uniform examined 11,944 reviewed papers published during the 21 years 1991-2011.

    They themselves, though they declared and still declare themselves to be supporters of the Party Line to the effect that recent warming was mostly manmade, were only able to record 64 out of the 11,944 papers as explicitly having stated that recent warming was mostly manmade.

    Legates et al. (2013), whose co-authors are other-worldly enough not to subscribe to any Party Line on scientific questions, decided to read the 64 papers and found that only 41 of them had actually stated that recent warming was mostly manmade. So the Collectivists’ statement is flat-out inaccurate. The overwhelming evidence from the peer-reviewed journals is to the effect that nearly all scientists do not know and, therefore, do not presume to say whether recent warming was mostly manmade…

    …“in 2016 a new record for global average temperature was set (approximately 1.1°C above the pre-industrial level)”.

    But it is the Collectivists themselves who are always telling us that one cannot take a single year out of context. So let us look at the temperature record since IPCC’s First Assessment Report in 1990 made a prediction (“We predict …”) that there would be 1 C° global warming by 2025, equivalent to 0.75 C° by now. In fact, taking the least-squares linear-regression trend on the mean of the global mean surface or lower-troposphere anomalies from two terrestrial and two satellite datasets, there has been just 0.4 C° warming since 1990, or little more than half IPCC’s central prediction, and below even its least prediction.

  10. dscott says:

    SURPRISED? More Lies Exposed from Obama Era: Climate Change & Droughts

    USA Today reported Thursday that the lowest percentage of U.S. land ever is currently suffering from drought conditions according to the U.S. Drought Monitor report. But how can this be the climate change hypothesis supporters say the earth is warming and causing droughts ???? So does former President Obama and much of the mainstream media. Could they have been wrong the whole time?

  11. jimenobaeznarvaez says:

    It’s a panel of challenged perception and political spin vs.

  12. maxlcrepeau says:

    Scientists would do better to use weather events to force AGW cultists to explain away their existence thus neutralizing the main element of deception by the cultists, the use of anecdotal data or weather events.

  13. Scientists would do better to use weather events to force AGW cultists to explain away their existence thus neutralizing the main element of deception by the cultists, the use of anecdotal data or weather events.