I promised myself I wouldn’t do it, that it wasn’t worth the grief and the nasty taste left in the mouth afterwards, but I did it – I commented over at ATTP on the post on severe weather attribution. I regret it of course, but regret is a two way thing. It turned personal of course, so I’m not going to resist the odd personal attack here, which it’s not in my nature to indulge in, but if you’re going to fling shit, you’ve got to expect some to bounce back off the fan.
John’s also got a post on this subject and I would recommend any person interested in the technical aspects of the two statistical methods involved to read it and comment there. This post is more me just sounding off and trying to explain the ideas I was trying to get across at ATTP and inviting those people who preferred to insult me (even in my absence) rather than engage substantively with my arguments to come here and do the same, where my responses won’t be deleted. Hence I am not anticipating a great number of comments. I expected the usual insults about contrarians and even though I engaged with Steven Mosher politely, it came as no surprise when he resorted to spite in the absence of being able to engage with my points. I didn’t expect this from Tom Fuller though:
Jaime’s argument seems (from the outside) cynical. All of us might reflect on the factors that may have induced his cynicism. The evil that men do, and all that. The behavior of some in the climate community has been bad and that has tainted the views of people like Jamie towards the community entire.
I am not as cynical about motives as is Jaime. But I certainly understand why he might adopt such a stance.
IIRC, it seems that the climate community eventually decided to label the behavior of those few who produced cynicism in those such as Jamie as ‘sub-optimal.’ The blogosphere is replete with the detection of such ‘sub-optimal’ behavior. Perhaps an attribution study on hardened and negative attitudes resulting from such behavior is in order.
What was he thinking? He knows me from this blog; he contributes articles at Cliscep. Arrogantly and condescendingly dismissing my arguments on another blog using the third person (in the wrong gender!) as just ‘hardened cynicism’ born of the bad behaviour of ‘sub optimal’ climate communicators, then suggesting (even sarcastically) that an attribution study be done to determine the extent to which such ‘hardened and negative attitudes’ are due to the failings of such ‘sub optimal’ actors was bound to elicit a response from me. Tom’s not stupid. I don’t think he’s senile. I’ll admit to being cynical, but I won’t be bulldozed into a pigeon-hole using the wrong gender third person by someone who doesn’t even bother to address my argument and should know me rather better than that, as a fellow contributor here.
So that said, what was my argument? I’ll quote it again here:
Ken, my point (which I thought I made fairly clearly) is that if we’re talking about attribution of specific extreme weather events, an analysis based on a ‘storyline’ constructed from a knowledge of how thermodynamics might be expected to influence specific events is no substitute for a more rigorous attribution study which looks at atmospheric dynamics, return times of extreme events compared to the instrumental record and thermodynamics. I fail to see how it might be complementary too. That is all.
But noone is suggesting that it should be a substitute for a study that can consider atmospheric dynamics and thermodynamics. The suggestion is that a storyline approach can complement the more formal D&A approach, not that it replaces it.”
Sorry but you havent addressed the fundamental issue that everyone here who actually does these types of analyses understands.
ya need to do both approaches because they each have a short coming and you want your decision maker to be fully informed of everything you know and everything you dont know.”
As everyone here apparently understands these fundamental issues, please demonstrate that an analysis of extreme weather based upon thermodynamic considerations only, with a large chunk of value judgement thrown into the mix, is complementary [i.e. mutually supplying each other’s lack] to a more rigorous scientific analysis which incorporates thermodynamics, atmospheric dynamics and an examination of past weather events – albeit far from perfectly. What does formal attribution lack which the new, complementary ‘storyline’ attribution brings to the table? Huh? As far as I can see, yes, both methods do have their shortcomings, but the one method does not make up for the shortcomings of the other, and vice versa.
Ken, Izen, have you ever considered the fact that these extreme events must be viewed in the context of past events going back hundreds of years (if possible) and that the prior knowledge incorporated via the Bayesian approach (assumed to be complementary to the frequentist approach) itself relies upon a formal detection and attribution of global warming to anthropogenic factors, which only yields a confident attribution since 1950? Is it not faulty logic and somewhat circular reasoning to claim legitimacy and independence (or complementarity) for a Bayesian approach which inherently relies upon the (time limited) frequentist approach for its prior knowledge?
“Instead, the idea is: take the extreme event as a given constraint and ask if thermodynamic factors are involved in such a way as to worsen it.”
It’s a false dichotomy. You can’t conveniently separate out atmospheric dynamics and thermodynamics and analyse an extreme weather event with reference to just thermodynamics, ignoring any possible impact of the dynamics. You can’t do a magnitude attribution in isolation from dynamics, because the dynamics affects the geography and frequency of the event in question, which in turn can influence its magnitude/severity/impacts. If you don’t know the dynamics, then you don’t know, it’s as simple as that, and consequently you have to pronounce low confidence upon attribution, not dream up a storyline which ignores the uncertainty and focuses instead upon conditional knowledge.
Oh I enjoy Jamie’s “contribution”. Frankly on forst reading Eric’s paper I wasnt a fan much of the storyline approach. Then I read Jamie’s nonsense and Judiths mischaracterization.
So that pushed me to got read the papers cited. Then it hit me.
Oh, I know this approach. Shit I even went and found the old AIAA paper where our team laid out a similar approach to understanding extreme events in war simulations.. basic forensics.
[Playing the ref, and no need to pile on. -W]
One last thing, Ken accused me basically of preferring the formal extreme weather attribution method because I’m not a fan of climate action! This is absurd. He’s spent enough time on this blog to know that I’m not a fan of formal extreme weather attribution either – in fact I would go so far as to say I think it’s largely pseudoscience! But, it’s a bit more robust and scientific than fiddling with storylines constructed via Bayesian priors, so naturally, being a fan of science in general and meteorology in particular, I’m going to defend one approach over the other.
Something to consider is that one of the points made in Winsberg et al. is that a preference for one method over the other involves some kind of value judgement, whether explicit, or not. It seems pretty clear (as evidence by the points you were making) that those who largely oppose climate action prefer the detection and attribution method. Those who are comfortable with climate action also seem comfortable with the storyline suggestion.