Climate science communication: Newton and Bacon versus Lewandowsky and Nuccitelli

“The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should,we must also be alert to the… danger that public  policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Farewell Address, 1961

Science AD 2013 

In recent decades, changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans.

Impacts are due to observed climate change, irrespective of its cause, indicating the sensitivity of natural and human systems to changing climate.

Changes in many extreme weather and climate events have been observed since about 1950.

Some of these changes have been linked to human influences,

including a decrease in cold temperature extremes,

an increase in warm temperature extremes,

an increase in extreme high sea levels and

an increase in the number of heavy precipitation events in a number of regions.”

From IPCCs Synthesis Report

Religion AD 100

17And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.

18 And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.

19 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.

20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.

21 And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.

Revelation 16, 17-21

From the IPCC 2013

  • Overall, the most robust global changes in climate extremes are seen in measures of daily temperature, including to some extent, heat waves. Precipitation extremes also appear to be increasing, but there is large spatial variability”

  • “There is limited evidence of changes in extremes associated with other climate variables since the mid-20th century”

  • Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century … No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin”

  • In summary, there continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale”

  • In summary, there is low confidence in observed trends in small-scale severe weather phenomena such as hail and thunderstorms because of historical data inhomogeneities and inadequacies in monitoring systems”

  • In summary, the current assessment concludes that there is not enough evidence at present to suggest more than low confidence in a global-scale observed trend in drought or dryness (lack of rainfall) since the middle of the 20th century due to lack of direct observations, geographical inconsistencies in the trends, and dependencies of inferred trends on the index choice. Based on updated studies, AR4 conclusions regarding global increasing trends in drought since the 1970s were probably overstated. However, it is likely that the frequency and intensity of drought has increased in the Mediterranean and West Africa and decreased in central North America and north-west Australia since 1950” 

  • In summary, confidence in large scale changes in the intensity of extreme extratropical cyclones since 1900 is low”

Seepage: Climate change denial and its effect on the scientific community

Global Environmental Change

Volume 33, July 2015, Pages 1–13

Stephan Lewandowsky, Naomi Oreskesc, James S. Risbeyd, Ben R. Newelle, Michael Smithsonf

An analogue might be for climate scientists to consider the fact that they use the same scientific method as any other scientist—and that scientists are by and large the most trusted segment of society.”

Any appearance of expert disagreement in public debate is therefore likely to undermine people’s perception of the underlying science, even if an issue is considered consensual

within the scientific community.”

Given that science operates in a societal context, there are strong a priori grounds to assume that

relentless denial may find some degree of reflection in the scientific community. We refer to this potential phenomenon as‘‘seepage’’—defined as the infiltration and influence of what are essentially non-scientific claims into scientific work and discourse. Our second aim is to present specific instances of such seepage on scientific thinking. We focus on one suggestive case and argue that it has been to the public’s detriment because of the reinforcement and amplification of the prevailing tendency of scientists towards reticence and erring on the side of least drama.”

Sir Isaac Newton relating to “seepage on scientific thinking” and “scientific method” and “expert disagreement”

4th rule of reasoning from Principia Mathematica

In experimental philosophy, propositions gathered from phenomena by induction should be considered either exactly or very nearly true notwithstanding any contrary hypotheses, until yet other phenomena make such propositions either more exact or liable to exceptions.»

«This rule should be followed so that arguments based on induction may not be nullified [tollatur] by hypotheses»

For if arguments from hypotheses would be admitted against inductions, inductive arguments, on which the whole of experimental philosophy is based, could always be overturned by contrary hypotheses. If a certain proposition collected by induction should be not sufficiently accurate, it ought be corrected, not by hypotheses but by phenomena of nature that are to be more widely and accurately observed.”

Fake news tries to blame human-caused global warming on El Niño

Dana Nuccitelli, Guardian, Monday 5 December 2016

Real science journalists have also taken the biased conservative pieces to task(ref Lewandowski et al 2015 above) (I define real science journalists as those whose primary goal is to accurately inform readers about science, as opposed to fake science journalists whose primary goal is to distort science in order to advance an agenda). For example, see the Guardian, New York Times, Washington Post, Slate, Carbon Brief, and climate science bloggers”

Sadly, we live in a post-truth world dominated by fake news in which people increasingly seek information that confirms their ideological beliefs, rather than information that’s factually accurate from reliable sources. Because people have become incredibly polarized on the subject of climate change, those with a conservative worldview who prefer maintaining the status quo to the steps we need to take to prevent a climate catastrophe often seek out climate science-denying stories.”

Francis Bacon disagrees with Dana Nuccitelli. Everybody is subject to predetermination.

The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion draws all things

else to support and agree with it. And though there be a greater number and weight

of instances to be found on the other side, yet these it either neglects and despises,

or else by some distinction sets aside and rejects, in order that by this great and

pernicious predetermination the authority of its former conclusion may remain

inviolate.” Bacon, Francis (1620), The New Organon and Related Writings.