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« Arctic ice on the up | Main | Poker Betts - Josh 288 »

Inspirational Betts - Josh 289

I am sure Richard does believe in models really, but seemingly not for anything useful. Maybe more like a comforting thought.

Cartoons by Josh

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Reader Comments (35)

Not for anything policy-changing at least. A confession worth having.

Aug 30, 2014 at 6:13 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Is Richard truly on the road to Damascus? (in the biblical sense)

Aug 30, 2014 at 6:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Singleton

The real irony, of course, is that the output from the models is virtually the ONLY justification they have for their climate policies. (Think of the children!!).

There is nothing happening in the real world to suggest that anything unusual is occurring when you put the current climate into the proper context of the last 10,000 years of inter-glacial warmth.

Aug 30, 2014 at 7:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnything is possible

Richard is intelligent, very far from the end of his career and, one can reasonably assume, ambitious.

It's clear that the CAGW scam is coming to an end. It is anybody's guess whether it will simply fade away or whether it will come to an abrupt end, when the politicians become aware (maybe after power blackouts) that it's a vote loser.

Anybody hoping to continue to climb the promotions ladder in the post-CAGW, post-Julia Met Office, will be taking steps to distance themselves from the CAGW hysteria well before the tipping point arrives.

Aug 30, 2014 at 7:26 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Peak Fear is past, Richard. You and yours are just going to look more and more ridiculous with the scare tactics.

Time to drop it, like the excellent communicator that you are.

Aug 30, 2014 at 7:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Is Richard truly on the road to Damascus? (in the biblical sense)

Aug 30, 2014 at 6:52 PM | Unregistered Commenter Mike Singleton

NO ! He is looking for a get out. Models are fundamental to his employ.

Aug 30, 2014 at 7:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

If, a la South Africa, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission is held, will these people fess up to joining in with Global Warming scaremongering for professional reasons? "To have publicly questioned AGW would have ended my career, Milud."

Or maybe, once blackouts become a regular event, and UK foreign policy is coloured by a need to keep in Putin's good books, formal charges should be brought against those whose advice resulted in the loss of Britain's energy security."You, a public servant, paid to advise government on the truth or otherwise of Global Warming, stated that it was true. With the result that strategic assets - many power stations - were destroyed. Do you confess, sir??" (sobs) "Yes, I did it. But it was more a case of groupthink than of treason."

Aug 30, 2014 at 8:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

Aug 30, 2014 at 7:26 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Taking about careers, I always assumed Tamsin was aiming for a job in the media with a lot of her postings. I've just looked and seen she now has a permanent job with the OU now so congratulations are due from moving on from her temporary post from Bristol. (She worked for my supervisor from my research times at Readin Uni). As you say, Martin, Richard is definitely very intelligent and also worked for my supervisor too.... who is an incredibly smart guy (maybe couldn't put a single comment in thousands of lines of Fortran, but......)

Aug 30, 2014 at 8:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Time to resurrect a twitter thread perhaps? These forecasts (meaning long range weather forecasts, but it applies equally well to climate models) "should not be relied on for any purpose whatsoever".

As Martin A indicates, the smarter climate scientists must be starting to realise by now that the lukewarmers might have had a point all along, and that hedging one's bets a little might be a smart move at this stage. Expect lots of pronouncements that could be interpreted either way depending on what eventually pans out.

Aug 30, 2014 at 9:29 PM | Registered CommenterJonathan Jones

Vicar of Bray?

Aug 30, 2014 at 9:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Go tell the boss.

Aug 30, 2014 at 9:44 PM | Unregistered Commentermartyn

As Fiona Bruce announced

Aug 30, 2014 at 10:11 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Don't forget that uncertainty works both ways - AGW could be worse than the models project…… after all, they don't include some key feedbacks like thawing permafrost and wildfires….

Aug 30, 2014 at 11:43 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts

....but aren't those key feedbacks already operating and contributing in the real world?...
Or is that something else we aren't certain exists? ...

Aug 31, 2014 at 1:10 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Richard Betts

" Don't forget that uncertainty works both ways"

Thanks Richard, such possibilities have always been within the scope of the "reasonable" , however the mantra from the authorities/media, of which you are certainly one, has until now been all one way traffic.

With a few more steps we may be able to welcome you to the world of the "reasonable"? A simple word, with a strong meaning - "able to reason"

PS re feedbacks, ever considered there might be Clouds in your coffee?

Aug 31, 2014 at 1:30 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Betting on uncertainty, thus reversing the technogical advances of the last 250 years, and undermining economic growth which has clearly advanced the welfare of mankind is certainly not a version of science that I recognise.

Aug 31, 2014 at 4:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterMalcolm Swinbanks

@ Richard Betts Has the Met Office informed the Government that uncertainty works both ways and that we could be heading for another Little Ice Age (or worse)? How is the Government doing in its preparations for a LIA? Is it building new despatchable power stations and going all out for fracking to ensure we have plenty of cheap energy? Or is it following Met Office advice and closing power stations and throwing our money after useless renewables?

Aug 31, 2014 at 7:50 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

The gigantic investment being thrown at useless renewables as a consequence of "scientific" advice has a historical parallel in Mao's China. Mao figured that centralised steel production was a bad idea and that a large number of small producers better. Result: an estimated 600,000 backyard furnaces producing utterly useless lumps of contaminated metal. The cost was stupendous, with agricultural workers redeployed to this folly, and trees and furniture used as fuel.

John Etherington's book 'The Windfarm Scam' should be required reading at the DECC. It sets out in detail how wind power is counterproductive: not only on grounds of cost and increased CO2 but crucially in its disruptive effect on the management of the national grid. The Tesco slogan "every little helps" does NOT apply to infrastructure; every extra windmill does the exact opposite of helping.

Aug 31, 2014 at 8:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

Brent: Prof David MacKay (ex-chief scientific advisor to DECC) stated in his book 'Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air' that when it comes to energy " every little does not help"; for energy it is every big that helps. Unfortunately as advisor he disregarded his own conclusions concerning the futility and uselessness of renewables and carried on supporting useless wind power, solar power and all the other crap green energy.

Aug 31, 2014 at 8:37 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Phillip Bratby

The Met Office has never advised the government to close power stations. On the contrary, the Met Office advises energy companies on keeping power stations resilient to a changing climate.

Aug 31, 2014 at 10:11 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts

The unremitting advice from the Met. Office on the inevitability of Global Warming/Climate Change/Extreme weather events resulting from the release of CO2, has provided the justification for Governments to push ahead with a high-cost energy policy with impunity. Whether the Met. Office provided direct advice to the Govt. on its mix of generating capacity is something of a red herring.
In your capacity of providing advice to Gen. Cos. on resilience to a changing climate, did this include the advice that we don't actually know the effect of increasing atmospheric CO2 on climate temperature (see your post of a few days ago) and with this uncertainty, temperatures may actually fall over the next 20 or so years?

Aug 31, 2014 at 10:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterRonaldo

Aug 31, 2014 at 10:11 AM | Richard Betts

Here is a clip from the Met Office advice to the power stations a couple of years ago (10 May 2012):

"Using our climate models to assess future temperature increases, we looked at how this could effect all aspects of the energy industry. ........"

No mention of falling temperatures.

Another clip from the document:

"Following our report, the then Energy and Climate Change Minister, Mike O'Brien, said: "Energy infrastructure is costly and can have a life span of 40 or more years, so it's a smart move for the energy industry to seek the expert advice of the Met Office Hadley Centre. ....."

Thus a Government Minister again took "modelled rising temperatures" as a given from the Met Office.

The CCA 2009 was put on the books to head-off Met Office "modelled rising temperatures" by curtailing or, better, eliminating coal, oil and gas fired power stations because they were a source of polluting CO2, the cause of the "modelled rising temperatures".

As Milipede crowed in 2009 "No more coal without CCS!"

On 24 July 2014 in India, Ed Davey crowed that the UK was supporting CCS.

I do not think that you have much wriggle room here.

Better to stop digging now and fess up.

Aug 31, 2014 at 11:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

The cartoon makes me feel rather uncomfortable. I am not sure that if I were in Richard Betts shoes, that I could keep on turning up here to be interrogated and be expected to answer all the questions and challenges which are directed at him for want of any of the CAGW brigade ever being willing to enter the debate. He must have a very thick skin.

Aug 31, 2014 at 11:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnthony Hanwell

Anthony, you raise a good point. Richard is one of the rare public servants in the field prepared to engage directly with the unwashed public and, yes, he does get brickbatted. Wouldn't it be nice if Slingo were to turn up and defend the decommissioning of power stations and to meet head on the counterevidence to Global Warming tm - e.g., polecaps not playing ball, no warming this century etc.

Aug 31, 2014 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

Having finally got thoroughly bored with all the climate crap, I confess that I have not attended the Bish's sermons as often as I used to, only occasionally popping across to skim the headlines.

But what's this I see today about our climate catastrophe outreach communicator, Richard Betts??

He's gone from "We're all going to DIE, stop CO2 NOW!"

to "Hey, we MIGHT still all die, who knows? I mean, it COULD, happen, right? But we never said anything about closing no coal or gas-fired power stations. Oh no, sirree. Not us." **innocent face**

Interesting how things change. Like the weather, really.

Aug 31, 2014 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterAngusPangus

Richard Betts

On an earlier thread you said

Everyone** agrees that we can't predict the long-term response of the climate to ongoing CO2 rise with great accuracy. It could be large, it could be small. We don't know.

Is this still your view?

Aug 31, 2014 at 12:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterDolphinlegs

I don't think I need to add much more. I never inferred that the Met Office has advised the government to close power stations. It is the Met Office advice on the effects of CO2 that has led the government to close proper power stations and build useless renewables instead. Without bad advice, we might still have a resilient electricity system.

Having worked at a power station, I know the advice they were getting (not saying it was MO advice) was to prepare for risnng seal levels and rising sea temperatures. No mention of uncertainty meaning sea levels could fall and temperatures could fall.

Aug 31, 2014 at 12:14 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Rob, thanks for the congratulations! Science communication was one of the backup plans if I didn't make it as an academic... :) I've never actually worked for Paul Valdes - he's been the head of my department and research group, and we've co-written proposals, but we've never worked together. He's a great colleague and friend though.


Aug 31, 2014 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterTamsin Edwards

Aug 30, 2014 at 11:43 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts

Richard Betts says he thinks the problem is that models overlook some "feedbacks".

What is going back in a feedback?
It is time. An effect is feeding back, in time, so as to influence its cause.
That is not science.

Aug 31, 2014 at 12:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Clague

Richard, for those in the business of models and predictions, there are few sure ways of being on the right side.

One is to get it correct. But this is risky. This involves sinking bets into the actual field where laws of chance and constraints of priors operate. Now sceptics could hold climate researchers' and workers' to their claims the priors are benefited by physics and say these odds are not really odds but certainties. But it is easily seen things aren't that simple. Getting predictions right is hard.

The second way is to hedge. This is easily accomplished by making the predictions as dire as possible. For public servants, there is no penalty for warning about the worst: if correct, credit (and fame) accrues, if wrong the warnings can still held in abeyance ('there may be a pause but global warming could start any time now'). There are further safety valves. It can be claimed the wide error in predictions imply society's requirement for 'resilience', or reflective of 'tail risk', thereby distracting from failure of prediction. Sleight of hand can be employed: true values falling between 5-95% 'confidence bands' can be used to imply predictive success, or as a last resort the full envelope of individual models can be used.

There are no penalties for getting anything wrong in climate prediction. There are no competitive forces to get it right.

Aug 31, 2014 at 2:21 PM | Unregistered Commentershub

Aye, there's the shub. Public servants who serve the public property get pay and pensions; public servants who instead promote a vested interest get pay and pensions nonetheless. This is very different to the private sector where failure brings insolvency and job losses. Margaret Thatcher's famous quote about socialism working fine until it runs out of other people's money deserves a follow-up about public servants who steer the country towards danger. Energy security may not determine the next election but in the next-but-one there will be votes for parties who propose a cull of the green quangocracy with their crazed antidevelopment agenda.

Aug 31, 2014 at 2:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

Whoops - typo. Meant to write "serve the public properly".

Aug 31, 2014 at 2:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

Phillip Bratby

" It is the Met Office advice......."

Is it?

Is the advice actually from our much revered and respected, long established - 1854 - UK Meteorological Office? Or is it emanating from a much lesser known, not yet 25 yrs old climate research unit - The Hadley Centre?

I wonder how much credence is gained by utilising the MO's name to announce the initial conceptual thoughts from what is an area of research still at an embryonic stage of development?

Aug 31, 2014 at 4:33 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

The idea that uncertainty works both ways is just a false equivalence logical fallacy. We absolutely know from the underlying physics that an increasing sensitivity is decreasingly likely and the IPCC represents this as a skewed distribution with the mode (most probable value) nearer 1 degree than the canonical 3 degrees. Unfortunately too many people (Nic Lewis included) refer to the mean or median, which just ignores the most probable value and allows the disreputable and statistically inadequate to project the mean/median as the midpoint of a bell curve and hence set up this self-deceiving fallacy.

Sep 1, 2014 at 10:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

I saw another climate scientist making the same journey on Climateaudit around 2004. The scientist in question came onto the site and as as unfailingly polite as Richard is, communicatingthe "science" and the "robustness" of it to the denizens of that blog. . Over time uncertainties were revealed and Judith Curry set up her own blog, still at that time a believer, to disuss the uncertainties etc. And has overtime realized that colleagues whose work she had trusted was not all it as cracked up to be. Although Judith was tenured well up the academic ladder she now knows that the decision as enough to stop further progress in her career and that she'll receive no recommendations for academic awards, so it is a big step to take in light of the known vicious response to be expected from your one time colleagues. The only comfort is that she will be on the right side of history, but that won't pay your mortgage in the meantime.

Good luck Richard.

Sep 2, 2014 at 4:03 PM | Registered Commentergeronimo

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