"Memo to deniers, delayers, and disinformers: When I propose a sucker bet, the only conclusion you can draw is that I’m looking for suckers."
Our story so far:
On September 22, I debunked the global cooling myth for the umpteenth time (see “NYT‘s Revkin pushes global cooling myth (again!) and repeats outright misinformation“). To see whether the status quo media and the professional Deniers, Delayers, and Disinformers believe the cooling crap they are pushing, I proposed what should be seen as a generous bet (from their unscientific perspective):
that the 2010s will be the hottest decade in the temperature record, more than 0.15°C hotter than the hottest decade so far using the NASA GISS dataset.
Led by Triple D All Star Chip Knappenberger (“Is Joe Romm a ‘Global Lukewarmer’?”) my attempt to call out suckers deniers who insist we are entering a long-term cooling, was somehow turned into a statement of my belief as to what the science says is going to happen on our current emissions path. What is especially bizarre about that is I have written about 2 million words on the subject, so my views are no mystery at all (see, for instance, “Intro to global warming impacts“).
What is especially laughable is that the deniers, led by Knappenberger, who should know better (well, I guess that’s a contradiction in terms), then ascribe their ignorance of the science to my statement and with an anti-scientific linear extrapolation for what I am supposedly predicting the warming will be this entire century. That is to say, because I supposedly believe we will only warm 0.15°C next decade (which I don’t), that means I am also asserting we will only warm only on the low-range this century, perhaps only 1.5°C.
That represents such a staggering lack of understanding of the basic science of climate change that it should immediately disqualify anyone who advances it from the debate — including Thomas Fuller, who took my bet! In fact, as everyone who understands the science knows, the warming is projected to be quite nonlinear, in part because the climate system has feedbacks, and the major ones all appear to be positive (see here). Also, aerosols (human and volcanic) have “dimmed” or muted the full impact of the anthropogenic greenhouse gases we would have seen so far (to a remarkable degree, see here).
Anyone who bothered to look at the IPCC report, which you would think is the minimum required of someone claiming to be interested in an “intelligent conversation” about the science, would see that. As the Figure above shows, in the high-end scenarios, like A2, the warming is much slower in the early decades of this century than in the later ones.
Fuller took my bet (see his comment here), but it wasn’t until I saw this inane headline on the Swift Boat smearer’s website (complete with my photo) that I realized just what Fuller did:
The funny thing about my wager with Romm is that I believe temperatures will rise by 2 degrees Celsius over this century. If it happens evenly each decade, I lose. What’s even funnier is that Romm believes that temperatures will rise by (I think he has said this) 7 to 9 degrees this century, but he’s only willing to bet on 1.5 degrees. Talk about the courage of your convictions.
[Pause to bang one's head against the wall repeatedly in a futile hope your eyes are deceiving you.]
Do I criticize Fuller for what “I think he has said” rather than actually taking a few seconds to check his column to see what he actually said? No, Fuller, as I have written many, many, many times, the latest science projects that on our current emissions path, we’ll probably warm about 5°C this century, though the recent Hadley “plausible worst-case scenario” is much higher and can’t be ruled out. That said, despite the best efforts of your fellow DDD’ers, it looks like a domestic and international climate deal is within reach, so I think we are increasingly likely to avoid 5C this century.
And again, Fuller, it is beyond the pale to claim I’m “only willing to bet on 1.5 degrees.” Don’t impose you’re misunderstanding of — or refusal to accept — the basic science on me. The bet was for one decade — who the heck would make a bet for the entire century anyway, Methuselah? I was trying to find a sucker DDD’er to take my 0.15 C bet for next decade — that’s the only conclusion anyone can draw from my offer.
Query to self: Should you mock Fuller for not actually understanding the very clear terms of the bet that were laid out, which one of his commenters had to explain to him? Nah.
But I should and will mock Fuller for posting on my blog and his this:
What I’d like to do is use the bet as a base for starting some kind of intelligenct [sic] conversation–perhaps even with Romm–about getting away from science fiction movies and back to real science. I’m not going to hold my breath, but I will make an honest effort. In fact, I have just issued him this challenge on his weblog:
“Okay, Mr. Romm,
Now that that’s out of the way, I’d like to challenge you to a comments debate, where we agree on a set of questions and post them to your blog and my editorial space on Examiner.com. Then we answer the questions and continue the discussion in the comments section. If we let our audiences participate we can metaphorically recreate a sense of the running of the bulls in Pamplona. My core proposition is that we each believe that the other is harming chances for effective policy to combat global warming.”
Query to self: Should you mock Fuller for his ironic typo? Under no circumstances — you yourself make typos all the time that others mock you for and how does that make you feel?
Seriously, Mr. Fuller — and you can call me Dr. Romm — if you are interested in intelligent conversation, you wouldn’t be critiquing me based on a guess as to what you “think” I said, and you wouldn’t have grossly misrepresented what I believe and what my bet means. This is just a bet, it doesn’t mean I am going to waste time engaging in “debate” with someone whose idea of a debate is to make up stuff about what someone else believes in order to attack it.
IS THIS A SUCKER BET?
If one understands the science, then one understands that there is a very high probability that the next decade will warm more than 0.15 C. Is that a sure thing? No. We could have a super-Pinatubo volcano. The sun, now in “the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century,” could theoretically hit a 500-year minimum. We could, I suppose, have multiple major La Ni±as. But I do expect the next decade will warm 0.25°C compared to the hottest decade on record (i.e. this one), barring one or more really big volcanos.
This certainly isn’t as much of a sucker bet as my big hydrogen bet:
Greg Blencoe wins if hydrogen fuel cell vehicles hit 1% of new sales of the typically-defined car and light truck market in the U.S. during 2015 or any year before. Joseph Romm wins if it is 2016 or any year after.
At least the hydrogen folks don’t go around saying, “Joe Romm believes hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will nearly reach 1% of new sales in 2015.” Just for the record, though, I don’t. That is a sucker bet. It’s questionable whether there will even be a single commercial FCV offered by 2015. By the way, if Blencoe wants to concede defeat now, I’ll let him cast out for just $800!
Then again, this isn’t my “Of Ice and Men” bet that the Arctic will be 90% ice free by the end of 2020. I like my chances, obviously, but I think it’s only about 2-to-1.
The 0.15 C is at least 3-to-1. Sucker bet? You decide. Unlike Fuller, I have no desire to “lay off part of my bet” to anyone — though I will donate the money to charity, Orphans International.