When attributing an extreme weather event to human-induced climate change, most climate scientists know better than to attempt a categorical statement of causation. The best that can be supported in the current state of understanding is a probabilistic attribution such as a Fraction of Attributable Risk (FAR) or a Risk Ratio (RR).[1] The stock statement issued by journalists, until recently, had been along the lines of:

“Experts say climate change is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves. However, linking any single event to global warming is complicated.”

Complicated indeed, because the problem is that these extreme weather events are regional, and whilst the effects of anthropogenic heating on global thermodynamics are claimed to be understood, the effects on regional atmospheric dynamics are still subject to deep uncertainty. Such uncertainty has been something of an impediment to progress, and so it should not come as a surprise to the sceptical to see the IPCC declaring in its assertive Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) that it has finally slain the monster. But has it?

The nature of the beast

AR6, WGI has this to say about deep uncertainty:

“A situation of deep uncertainty exists when experts or stakeholders do not know or cannot agree on: (1) appropriate conceptual models that describe relationships among key driving forces in a system; (2) the probability distributions used to represent uncertainty about key variables and parameters; and/or (3) how to weigh and value desirable alternative outcomes (Abram et al., 2019).” [2]

I find little to disagree with there, though the succinct way I would prefer to put it is that deep uncertainty is a second order uncertainty in which one cannot be certain just how uncertain one is.  Either way, the report goes on to explain that deep uncertainty is a particular issue when dealing with low likelihood, high impact (LLHI) events. According to AR6, the same goes for projections of sea level rise and ‘processes related to Marine Ice Sheet Instability and Marine Ice Cliff Instability’.

The fact that deep uncertainty exists at the heart of the science of climate change is something that most activists don’t like to talk about very much, and those that do seek to turn the problem into an opportunity by invoking the idea of uncertainty being ‘actionable knowledge’.[3] However, the authors of AR6 appear to believe that they have finally discovered an effective solution to the problem of deep uncertainty; which would be fantastic news for them since that would enable them to speak much more confidently about the LLHI end of the risk spectrum — the end within which extreme weather events ply their destructive trade. The wonderful new idea is referred to as the ‘storylines’ or ‘narrative’ approach to climate change risk assessment, and its addition to the risk assessment toolbox is deemed by AR6 to exorcise the ghost of deep uncertainty, by building:

“…a cohesive overall picture of potential climate change pathways that moves beyond the presentation of data and figures.” [4]

Who could resist a method that moves beyond data and figures? And the hype doesn’t stop there, since we are told that storylines:

“…can also help in assessing risks associated with [Low Likelihood High Impact] LLHI events (Weitzman, 2011; Sutton, 2018), because they consider the ‘physically self-consistent unfolding of past events, or of plausible future events or pathways’ (Shepherd et al., 2018b), which would be masked in a probabilistic approach.”

Better still, given that story-telling plays a starring role in AR6, you should be confident that it is an idea that receives the full backing of the climate change community, since the IPCC reassures everyone that the ‘openness’ and ‘transparency’ of their world-beating review process ensures that controversial and ill-supported approaches are rejected.

I’d love to believe that, but there are a couple of reasons not to. Firstly, the storyline approach does not constitute a risk assessment, let alone one that addresses deep uncertainty. Secondly, just about everyone in the field of Detection & Attribution (D&A) would tell you so.

So how come the storylines approach has become the cause célèbre of AR6? And how, even whilst the infighting is still raging behind the scenes, does a fringe idea of contested merit come to effect such a loudly announced change of direction for the IPCC? These are important questions, so before explaining what the storylines approach is, and outlining its strengths and weaknesses, I will need to dwell upon the elephant poo in the room.

Trouble at t’mill

Each time the IPCC produces an Assessment Report, a different tone and direction can be discerned. Ostensibly, this reflects developments in the science and the extent to which policy has been revised as a result of greater understanding. However, it is equally true that every report is compiled by a different team to the previous one – or, at least, the same people adopting a different hierarchy. Consequently, changes in tone and direction are also influenced by the personal views of those who were the most successful in grabbing the keyboard and those who attained editorial control. The result, nevertheless, is always presented as the outcome of the IPCC’s unimpeachable review process, intended to ensure that any shift in focus legitimately represents a shifting consensus within the relevant expert community. This time around, the new pitch is introduced with:

“The AR6 has adopted a unified framework of climate risk, supported by an increased focus in WGI on low-likelihood, high-impact events.” [5]

Under which one is informed:

“AR6 also makes use of the ‘storylines’ approach, which contributes to building a robust and comprehensive picture of climate information, allows a more flexible consideration and communication of risk, and can explicitly address low-likelihood, high-impact events.”

There is no hint of any internal dissent there. There is no statement to the effect that the storylines approach remains controversial or is criticised by the majority of the D&A community for contributing little to a ‘robust and comprehensive picture’. And yet, not that long ago, Naomi Oreskes, that most famous of eminent climate scientists and vocal advocate of the storylines approach,[6] had observed:

“…the majority of D&A scientists reacting in a very negative and even personal manner.”

Such was the adverse reaction from the mainstream D&A community that a certain Professor Eric Winsberg teamed up with Oreskes to write a paper[7] intended to defend the storylines approach and put the D&A crew back in its box. There was clearly no love to be found in the room, and certainly nothing to suggest that the storylines approach had been universally accepted as the best way forward. This situation prompted Dr Judith Curry to remark at the time:

“In any event, using such storylines, and claiming (even implicitly) that they are part of the AGW ‘consensus’ is scientifically dishonest.” [8]

And yet that is precisely the scientific dishonesty we now see in AR6 WGI. So has there been a change of heart? Has the D&A community seen the error of its ways and rolled over? One would not have thought so, given the nature of their concerns. For example, in dismissing Winsberg’s accusation that the debate boiled down to a question of ethics and the D&A community’s rejection of Bayesianism, Stott, Karoly and Zwiers wrote:

“The question of ethics and its relation to the question about how to formulate the null hypothesis for testing is not fundamentally a question of a choice between Bayesian and frequentist approaches. Instead, whether posed in a Bayesian or frequentist manner, we return to the point that the event attribution problem is an estimation problem. Given that changes locally can be very different to global expectations, as a result for example of dynamically induced changes over-coming thermodynamically induced ones, great care must be taken in using prior expectations derived from global considerations. In some cases, the inappropriate use of such prior information could reach too liberal conclusions. In other cases, the neglect of relevant prior information could lead to overly conservative conclusions.” [9]

There have been no recent developments in climate science that render the above statement invalid. Presumably, therefore, the objections must still stand. Basically, the D&A community distrusts the storyline approach, not because it is a wrong approach, but because claims that it deals with deep uncertainties do not stand up to close scrutiny. The uncertainties are just swept under the carpet by using dodgy priors.

The real problem with D&A

When appraising the value of the storylines approach to climate change risk assessment, it is only fair that one first looks at the strengths and weaknesses of the approach favoured by the D&A community. So let us start by looking at what the advocates of the storyline approach say regarding the limitations of probabilistic event attribution. If it isn’t a problem regrading ethics and rejection of Bayesianism, then what could it be?

Actually, Theodore G. Shepherd, a much-cited advocate of storylines, puts the case for distrusting the probabilistic approach very well. It is all down to an issue that I have been trying to explain on this website for three years now.[10] Whilst contrasting with the legitimate use of probabilistic techniques for dealing with aleatory uncertainty (i.e. physical variability), Shepherd says:

“The uncertainty in the climate response to forcing is conceptually very different. It is not a property of the physical climate system; rather, it is a property of a state of knowledge, or degree of belief, and it can be reduced as knowledge improves. In contrast with aleatoric uncertainty, which is objective, such epistemic uncertainty is subjective [26]. Therefore, treating epistemic uncertainty as if it were aleatoric, with a focus on the multi-model mean as a best estimate, has no epistemological justification. This has been recognized for some time [21,27,28], but the practice continues to be normative (e.g. as in figure 1). It is interesting to consider why this is so, since, in most areas of science, the essential distinction between systematic and random sources of uncertainty is well recognized.” [11]

Well, maybe not for ‘most areas of science’, but certainly most engineering and risk management professionals could tell you what is wrong with the climate scientists’ handling of uncertainty. Even so, coming from the guy who helped give AR6 its latest big idea, that’s quite a damning indictment. Elsewhere, Shepherd puts it even more bluntly:

“Since epistemic uncertainty is deterministic and inherently subjective, it follows that there is no objective basis for a probabilistic approach, and no such thing as objective climate information.” [12]

What Shepherd actually meant here was that there is no basis for an objective probabilistic approach — epistemic uncertainty can still be dealt with probabilistically but by using Bayesian techniques.[13] The real sin committed by climate science is not in trying to treat epistemic uncertainty probabilistically, but in failing to separately propagate the two types of uncertainty in order that each may be individually addressed using the appropriate branch of probability theory (i.e. frequentist or Bayesian). It’s this that leads to epistemic uncertainty being mistreated as though aleatory. Even so, Shepherd puts a mighty fine case for distrusting the conventional approach to D&A, and hence distrusting the confident attributions made by its practitioners.[14]

A shallow solution to a deep problem?

It’s all very well criticizing the ‘probabilistic’ approach, but what has AR6 got to say about storylines and how they reach the parts that so-called probabilistic techniques cannot? This is how they are described:

“In the broader IPCC context, the term ‘scenario storyline’ refers to a narrative description of one or more scenarios, highlighting their main characteristics, relationships between key driving forces and the dynamics of their evolution…WGI is mainly concerned with ‘physical climate storylines. These are self-consistent and [a] possible unfolding of a physical trajectory of the climate system or a weather or climate event on timescales of hours to multiple decades.” [15]

You will note that probability and uncertainty are not an issue here. All that is required to legitimize a storyline is that it should be self-consistent and deemed possible. As described above, a storyline is not an estimate. Instead, storylines are designed to answer the following type of question: ‘Since this event has happened, what do we know regarding the physical processes involved that leads us to suspect that anthropogenic global warming could have been a factor?’ As such, storylines are akin to an accident investigation. They are ‘just so’ stories that determine what may have been the sequence of events that led to an outcome.

Safety analysts have been employing such narrative techniques for years, so it has to be said that there is nothing particularly novel about the idea (heaven knows why climatologists thought they needed to invent a new term).[16] The difference is that nobody within the safety community has ever deluded themselves that these techniques address deep uncertainty or are preferential to probabilistic assessment.[17] They are good at identifying hazards and their possible causes, but they have nothing to say regarding assessment of risk. For that one needs a quantification of scale, and to do that probabilistic techniques, or their equivalent, are unavoidable. As Stott et al. said, attribution is an estimation problem.

And yet, AR6 has this to say regarding storylines:

“Since AR5, ‘storylines’ or ‘narratives’ approaches have been used to better inform risk assessment and decision making, to assist understanding of regional processes, and represent and communicate climate projection uncertainties more clearly.” [18]

Well, maybe to ‘better inform risk assessment’ but certainly not to obviate. As for representing and communicating uncertainty more clearly, it suffices to say that storylines do neither. Furthermore, there is nothing in this statement to reveal that the advocates of storylines actually consider them to be superior to the D&A community’s probabilistic approach and, as it happens, that the D&A community strongly disagrees.

So why is AR6 pushing a technique that is deemed by its proponents as being preferable to the D&A community’s probabilistic approaches even though that community says nay? And why is it leading the reader to believe that storylines address deep uncertainty when, at best, they fudge the issue or, at worst, avoid the subject altogether? To answer that, we need to understand what values the IPCC deems important.

It’s all about IPCC’s values

One of the points that the likes of Oreskes and Winsberg have been quite keen to make is that probabilistic event attributions are supposedly prone to underestimate the risk, whilst the storyline approach is prone to heighten risk perception. This they deemed to be very much to the credit of the storylines approach, since an overestimation of risk is ethically preferable (i.e. better safe than sorry). The germ of this argument can be seen in AR6 when it says:

“Recent work also recognizes that choices made throughout the research process can affect the relative likelihood of false alarms (overestimating the probability and/or magnitude of hazards) or missed warnings (underestimating the probability and/or magnitude of hazards), known respectively as Type I and Type II errors. Researchers may choose different methods depending on which type of error they view as most important to avoid, a choice that may reflect social values (Douglas, 2009; Knutti, 2018; Lloyd and Oreskes, 54 2018).” [19]

However, nowhere does AR6 WGI reveal that this was a main argument used to attack the so-called probabilistic approach towards event attribution – the argument being that the probabilistic approach reflects the wrong social values by favouring Type II errors. I happen to think that was a bogus argument, but that is immaterial. The point is that AR6, quite predictably, has turned its focus towards a method that prides itself in biasing towards Type I errors. That is why storylines are being pushed, not because a consensus has been established in their favour, but because they are perceived as being politically correct as far as the IPCC is concerned. The IPCC, a long-time advocate of exploiting the availability heuristic to increase the perception of risk,[20] had decided that probabilistic event attributions were not doing a good enough job of it. An alternative was required that placed availability bias at the heart of the methodology. Or, as Shepherd puts it:

“…the conventional approach to climate change risk is semantic (e.g., what is a 1 in 1000 year event?), whereas storyline approaches are episodic (e.g. have we seen this before; and if so, what might the next event be like?). Behavioural psychology shows that humans have difficulty responding rationally to risks from events that are outside their experience…we act as though the probability of a bad outcome is less than it really is if an event of that type has not happened to us recently (or ever), and more probable than it really is if it has. This asymmetrical response is known as the ‘availability bias’ (Kahneman 2011). Essentially, we—even those with quantitative scientific training—are more likely to respond to episodic than to semantic information.” [21]

In other words, the storyline approach invokes episodic memory, which is seen as a good thing because the resulting availability bias is more likely to provoke the desired response. You see the accident – you cut your speed. You see the extreme weather event – you cut your carbon dioxide output. One does not have to come up with probabilities to achieve this. All that is needed is a real event and a self-consistent story that is physically possible. Once again, the IPCC has chosen to promote techniques not because they have merit (which in fact they do) but because it suits their agenda of framing risk in a way that raises concern. The deep uncertainty has not gone away, but a technique has been found that neatly sidesteps it and points towards action.


I should make it clear that I do not seek to take sides here in the debate between the probabilistic event attribution and storylines approaches – they both have strengths and weaknesses and neither covers the whole territory.  I only wish to point out that it is disingenuous for the IPCC not to have drawn attention in AR6 to the controversy that reigns, and I suggest that their motives for promoting storylines is value-driven rather than because the approach enjoys consensus support. The fact is that there currently isn’t an ideal means of dealing with the deep uncertainty associated with regional atmospheric dynamics, and storylines do not so much address the problem of predictive attribution as avoid it altogether by focusing upon a different class of question. It’s a valid class, and there is much merit in the way that Shepherd, in particular, has gone about dealing with it,[22] but that doesn’t alter the fact that the IPCC’s primary objective is simply to avoid Type II errors and go for overestimation of risk as a matter of principle. Despite whatever else they say, that I believe is the true motive and that is what lies behind their new preoccupation with storylines.


[1] Under conditions of exogeneity and monotonicity, the FAR can be shown to be equivalent to the probability of necessity (PN), as per causal analysis. For reasons that should be apparent after reading footnote 22, this has a broader relevance to the risk assessment approach advocated by AR6.

[2] AR6, WGI, section, para 7.

[3] ‘Actionable knowledge’ is Stephan Lewandowsky’s idea for re-framing ignorance as if it were knowledge. See ‘Uncertainty as knowledge’ from the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. To see what I think about it, take a look at ‘No-one Does Wrong Quite Like Lewandowsky’

[4] Ibid, section, para 1.

[5] Ibid, Executive Summary, para 8.

[6] I jest. Oreskes is a professor of history and philosophy and has no expert authority when it comes to climate science or uncertainty analysis. It seems innappropriate that she and her cronies should be cited so much by AR6.

[7] See Severe Weather Event Attribution: Why values won’t go away. To see what I thought about it at the time, take a look at ‘When Philosophers Attack’.

[8] See ‘Extremes’, posted on Climate Etc., June 13, 2019

[9] See Stott, Karoly and Zwiers, 2017.

[10] See, for example, Gleick: What’s Not to Like?

[11] See ‘Storyline approach to the construction of regional climate change information’, T.G. Shepherd, 2019. Emphasis is mine.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Although I should point out that there is such a thing as Objective Bayesianism. But I digress.

[14] I do wish that when sceptics, such as I, say these things there would be someone out there taking note. Greta says we must all listen to the climate scientists rather than the likes of me. Have you ever listened to Professor Theodore G. Shepherd, Greta? I thought not.

[15] AR6, WGI, section, para 2.

[16] There are several existing techniques that share features with the climate science ‘storylines’ approach. These include Fault Tree Analysis (FTA), Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) and event trees, all from safety engineering, and event histories from the social sciences – in fact, any technique based upon a cause-effect history.

[17] There again, only in climate science is probabilistic assessment mishandled so badly by so many.

[18] Ibid, section, para 1.

[19] Ibid, section, para 5.

[20] See my series of articles on the IPCC’s treatment of risk in AR5 WG3.

[21] See Storylines: an alternative approach to representing uncertainty in physical aspects of climate change, T. G. Shepherd, 2018. Emphasis is mine.

[22] I am particularly encouraged to see Shepherd advocate the use of causal networks in order to quantify the storylines approach. These networks enable the calculation of probability of necessity (PN), which is the equivalent of the FAR, as calculated using the D&A approach. Depressingly, it is rare to see climate scientists embrace the latest developments in causal analysis.


  1. John, I return the compliment you paid me when commenting on 20,000 Volts Under the Sea:

    Why are we having to rely on a bunch of amateur journalists to do all of the heavy lifting here? Why couldn’t someone who is getting paid have done John’s job for him?

    The answer, I suspect, is because your average journalist, including all those climate change “experts” at the Guardian and the BBC, don’t understand it. That, and the fact that they have absolutely no interest in contemplating whether the narrative is justified.


  2. Secondly, just about everyone in the field of Detection & Attribution (D&A) would tell you so.

    I don’t know what this means. Tell you what?


  3. Mark, as a journo myself, I’d say not one journo in a thousand is maths trained. Most struggle to get the zeros right on large numbers. They are arty /humanities types Journos think their job is to go to experts and interview them. This is a problem when experts disagree so journos go for the safest route which is to the orthodox


  4. Tony,

    They would tell you that the storylines approach does not constitute a risk assessment.


  5. Tony. I recall an instance at the University of Toronto in the mid 1990s where there was a bursary and training from a prominent newspaper seeking to gain a qualified science correspondent. There were no takers from the science graduates that year.

    Clearly in the U.K. there is no need for this sort of overture, as arts graduates mysteriously gain an sciency veneer (especially at the BBC).

    I know there was one student at the School of Environmental Science who got a job in journalism, but she dropped out before graduating. She was one of the very few students who did not graduate that I felt sympathy for. She had the drive to learn, but not the smarts. Most leavers have the reverse – plenty of smarts (sometimes too much) but no drive. I believe the student I remember did well, but I soon lost contact.


  6. Thanks for digging into this and shedding light on this latest ploy. I ran into an example of a similar approach by a STEM professor concerned that students are reading textbooks that frame global warming/climate change claims as having uncertainty in the scientific community. Her experiment showed that even when students are preconditioned by social pressure to believe in climate crisis, the mention of uncertainty raises doubts in some minds, obviously not a good thing for activism.
    The study is here
    My synopsis:

    Editing Science Textbooks for Desired Public Opinion

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Ron,

    Thank you for taking the time to read my article. You are quite right to point out how the ‘correct’ framing of uncertainty has become an obsession on both sides of the argument. My article goes further than this by pointing out that, when it comes to risk assessment, values are driving the direction taken rather than the science. For the benefit of the many who do not feel they have the time or inclination to read my article in full, the synopsis is as follows:

    a) The article exposes the fact that the IPPC has presented a highly controversial idea as if it represents a new consensus. This demonstrates that the IPCC’s claims for its ‘open’ and ‘transparent’ review processes are a sham.

    b) The article shows that some climate scientists (at least) do understand that probabilistic extreme weather event attribution is based upon a false premise regarding how to handle uncertainty. The potential undermining of the validity of such attributions should be clear. And yet these attributions are what the world has been taking as its imperative for embarking upon a hugely risky transition.

    c) Irrespective of the recognition that the premise is false, this technical misunderstanding seems too entrenched within the world of climate science for anything to be done about it. This is in stark contrast to the outside world. The idea that the IPCC is an expert authority on such matters has no basis in fact.

    d) The IPCC is now promoting a methodology that its own proponents concede has the main benefit that it exaggerates the perception of risk. This is in keeping with the IPCC’s long-term agenda.

    And yet no one seems interested. Ho hum.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. John Oh we are definitely interested, but the problem is fairly obvious – the IPCC are considered by all and sundry (amongst the movers and shakers) as THE EXPERTS. They summarise the wealth of expertise that is available. The problem is what can we do? People like you are biased and contaminated. You worked for industry for goodness sake. You have nothing to interest us that can be considered free of bias. It’s like the touch of oil that afflicts me.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. ‘It’s all about IPCC’s values’

    Indeed, which are ultimately cultural values associated with emotive belief in certain global catastrophe and salvation. For its elite at any rate, if not all those more objectively contributing to the bottom end of the process. Any culture worth its salt is always going to steer away from logistical frameworks and towards narrative treatments. Ultimately because narrative is the vehicle of culture and allows its continued evolution, its propagation, plus the triggering via emotive memes of associated behaviours that police consensus, demonise out-groupers, sanction noble-cause corruption, etc. There is great danger for cultures in logistical frameworks, which can short-circuit the process by which they operate and shut down those behaviours. Consequently one would expect rafts of biases that all nudge away from such danger and towards safer narrative ground.

    “And yet no one seems interested.”

    The problem is that the cultural values are shared by the vast majority of authority sources on the planet. The inertia is on the side of the culture and it is huge. This must be battled by anyone objecting, and that battle is far from being just a technical one. The culture holds the moral high-ground; in the eyes of authority it is immoral to oppose that which promotes the values.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Andy, as always you point to the power of culture and employing stories appealing not to reason but to emotion. And as you say all the powers-that-be are onside with climate crisis, etc. It is also the case that ordinary people are addicted to their mobility and freedom of choices, and resentful of being told what to think and to do by their so-called “betters.” So it is a case of applying irresistible force (“give up your way of life to save the planet”) upon an immovable object (“don’t tell me what to do or how to live”).

    It is important to recognize that the culture of climate change is focused on changing us, and in ways that many will find unacceptable (“you will own nothing and be happy.”). This is in fact a revolutionary culture attempting to dismantle societies whose people want to conserve their values and prosperity. It is a power struggle between elites who fear losing their planetary playground because too many of the rest of us want to keep a high standard of living. Those of us who re resisting the changes at least have inertia on our side, but it is now clear that some kind of opposing force will be required just to maintain the best parts of the status quo.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Alan, Andy,

    My closing remark wasn’t just a petulant complaint regarding lack of interest here on Cliscep. WordPress, bless its heart, now warns everyone just how much time the reader has to be prepared to sacrifice, and I suspect 14 minutes of what was likely to be technical stuff was bound to limit my audience. In fact, my remark was more of a wistful reflection of the issues that both you and Andy have brought up. I can argue until I am blue in the face that the IPCC is not the expert authority it claims to be, but I would be doing so as one of those that the IPCC, in its expert authority, has denounced as failing to understand, i.e. that poor hapless lay person. Alan, you can add this irretrievably hopeless position to the long list of demises that you and I were bemoaning only yesterday. When you are in the outgroup, you are in the outgroup.

    On a more interesting note, I have just finished a bottle of Black Rock Stout, produced by the Purple Moose Brewery. On the label, I am informed that my bibulous afternoon had been brought to me by, ‘the majestic moose – accept no large wooden badgers.’ Further advice includes the warning that, ‘Any suggestive poses for the moose suggested by this beer are entirely fictitious,” and that consumption of the Purple Moose’s product, ‘may lead to almost certain temptation and an inexplicable knowledge of the Swedish telephone system’.

    After reading AR6 WGI that almost makes sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ron, I largely agree, and indeed when an immovable object meets an irresistible force it’s hard to tell what the outcome will be, except that there must be accompanying trauma whatever the outcome.

    But I veer away from the implication of elites being causal (if that was the intent). They play an outsized part and indeed many have benefits aligned to the cultural values. But cultures are emergent and their main behaviours occur subconsciously; plus the elites who push cultural values would not exist without a much wider base that includes many millions of convinced grass-roots adherents (albeit they are still a modest minority of publics world-wide, despite the load voice of the culture). And still more who instinctively reject the culture, but are too apprehensive to speak against its authority and moral imperatives, are too afraid that they’ll be deemed socially unacceptable. But indeed like all strong cultures it seeks to remake everything in its image, and to do so must dismantle what already exists.


  13. John Ridgway,

    I am very much a layman, but I do read articles such as yours from time to time, and do my best to read them carefully and look for the logic. This article is easy to understand at my level, albeit without going into the depths of the arguments which I would not be able to follow.

    I do this because over the years I have been active in our community attempting to stop the proliferation fo wind farms in this part of Scotland. It is a very hard and seemingly interminable battle — no sooner is one seen off than the next comes forward. Dealing with the hype from the renewable industry led me into reading more, and so eventually arriving here. But articles such as yours give me the intellectual assurance that I am not simply being eccentric or stuborn.

    I noted the last few comments about the elites. I thought some of you might find this extract from a recent email to me from one of our MPs/MSPs relevant (i am being deliberately vague to add a little disguise as we have a reasonable relationship).

    “Thank you kindly for getting in touch with us regarding climate change.

    Thank you also for sending me Dr Curry’s lecture. I enjoyed reading through it.

    I was glad to see that Dr Curry agreed with the overwhelming consensus of international climate change scientists that climate change is happening. I note that her agreement with their consensus did not, however, cover the extent of the issue, nor how to address it.

    I understand that the issue of climate change is not a simple one. As such, it is important to consult a variety of experts and sources in order to reach any sort of conclusion on how to respond to it. While I appreciate that your current view may not necessarily align with that of the larger scientific community, the overwhelming consensus of international climate change scientists is that climate change is happening and that it is exacerbated by human activity. The fact that uncertainty exists in climate science, as it does in other fields, does not negate the value of current evidence, and the strong correlation between global warming and rising greenhouse gas concentrations from human activity since 1900.”

    Following on from this was justification of NET ZERO, and the reassurance the writer draws from the work of the CCC. I suspect that the whole thing could easily have been written centrally and circulated to many others to use with their constituents…

    Liked by 5 people

  14. Heriotjohn,

    Welcome to Cliscep and thank you for sharing your experiences fighting off the windfarm menace. The response you received is seemingly reasonable and is a view shared by many. Basically, the orthodox view is that uncertainty is always a part of science but , in the case of climate change and the question of whether the need for an urgent transition to net zero is justified, the science is sufficiently certain.

    My response to that assertion is to ask, where did you get that idea from? That question cannot help but lead to further questions as to whether the uncertainties are being properly understood and communicated by people who have a firm grasp of the conceptual framework.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’ve just re-read the debate that I and others had with Dr Ken Rice when I first visited this subject on Cliscep:

    When Philosophers Attack

    Given the views expressed by Dr Rice at that time, I am slightly surprised that he has not taken the opportunity here to defend the IPCC and their recent promotion of storylines in AR6 WGI. I would have expected him to maintain that the storylines and conventional D&A probabilistic approaches are simply complementary and should both be pursued in order to gain a full understanding of the risks associated with extreme weather events. I am surprised that he is not arguing now that this is only what AR6 is saying. After all, Dr Rice has said previously:

    “It’s simply an argument in favour of an alternative that could be used in some circumstances. This seems completely unobjectionable to me and I find it slightly odd that some seem so worked up about it.”

    Presumably, Dr Rice remains silent because he believes that he has already made his point adequately enough, or maybe I flatter myself that he could be bothered to spend any of his valuable time dealing with ‘a bloke on the internet’. And yet here I am, still worked up about it and more than happy to resume the debate with anyone who has the time. Perhaps then we might be treated to more along the lines of:

    “I have to admit that I find it odd that you’re criticising my apparent lack of agreement with what some climate scientists have said given your association with a site that specialises in doing so.”


  16. John,

    It seems to be a little quiet overt at aTTP’s place these days, but he die write a short piece on the subject a little over 6 weeks ago:


    His delving into the arcana of AR6 WG1 seems to be considerably less deep than yours. I take these to be his two main paragraphs:

    “There also seem to be stronger statements about many of the changes, and the current state, being unprecedented over many centuries to, potentially, thousands of years. The report now specifically states that it is more likely than not that no multi-centennial period after the Last Interglacial (roughly 125,000 years ago) was warmer globally than the most recent decade.

    There’s plenty more that I could highlight, but overall it seems to be mostly strengthening the basic understanding that we’ve had for quite some time now. Maybe we’ll see less of the “climate change isn’t influence extreme events” narrative that some like to promote, but I wouldn’t bank on it.”

    I wouldn’t bank on a detailed debate about the storylines and conventional D&A probabilistic approaches if I were you.


  17. Mark,

    Yes, I too saw that ‘narrative that some like to promote’ remark. Who are these people who he thinks deny a link between climate change and extreme weather? Perhaps he could come on here and elucidate. But as you say, one should not wait for that with bated breath.


  18. “Climate change: UN emissions gap report a ‘thundering wake-up call'”


    “National plans to cut carbon fall far short of what’s needed to avert dangerous climate change, according to the UN Environment Programme.

    Their Emissions Gap report says country pledges will fail to keep the global temperature under 1.5C this century.

    The Unep analysis suggests the world is on course to warm around 2.7C with hugely destructive impacts.

    But there is hope that, if long term net-zero goals are met, temperatures can be significantly reined in.

    Just a few days before COP26 opens in Glasgow and another scientific report on climate change is “another thundering wake-up call”, according to the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres”

    “Jut a few days before COP26….”. Which no doubt explains the timing of its release. Of course, this is nothing new, just a re-hash of what they’ve already pushed at us, but it’s a great way to get another press release, and therefore yet more publicity from the compliant media organisations such as the BBC. The “new” report is here, if anyone is interested:


    The BBC has opened the article up to a “Have Your Say”. It’s not going well there. SOme of the highest-rated comments are things like:

    “Reality calling UN: China doesn’t care what you think”

    “Rich actress calls for rationing. Could not make it up.”

    “And David Attenborough – how much carbon has he produced flying all over the planet”

    “Don’t forget our PM with his (at least) 7 kids and taking jets from London to Cornwall going around telling other people how they’re the problem and should listen to him.”

    But I think this is my favourite:

    “Visiting the bbc website these days, often feels like reading a propaganda pamphlet from a narrow vision pressure group.
    This is the problem when an organisation such as the bbc allows itself to become a monoculture of opinion, thought and political posture.
    And it’s not what we should expect from a public service broadcaster.”

    This one is quite good too:

    “I love it. “- we remain without a commitment from the highest emitters.” They just can’t bring themselves to say “China” “India” “Indonesia.””

    Liked by 2 people

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