Saturday, April 18, 2015

On "An Ecomodernist Manifesto", Mannsplaining and irony blindness in climate science

A very interesting document, An Ecomodernist Manifesto, came out this week. For those of you not familiar with the Manifesto, it represents an attempt by a number of pragmatic environmental scientists, economists and policy experts ( to put the planet’s current ecological prospects into perspective and charts an alternative course to address some serious global problems. I would recommend that anyone interested in the field read the Manifesto. While I have a lot to say about the Manifesto (most, but not all, positive) that is not the point of this post. Rather my interest, in this post, is how activists have attacked the Manifesto. More specifically, this post is intended to address the irony blindness of some of the most militant “protectors” of the “consensus” on climate change.

As I have written before, my interest in this blog is to investigate evidence-based decision making. In the course of my writings I have written more than a few posts on the topic of climate change. Irrespective of the level of detail I have presented in my posts, or the amount of supporting documentation I have included, the most common and loudest complaints have been that “you have no role in this debate as you are not a climate scientist”. I have been informed, on more than one occasion, that the field of climate research is far too complicated for non-specialists to understand and that we mere mortals should stick to our knitting rather than comment on a field about which we “clearly lack any applicable expertise”.

To explain the whole irony blindness thing recognize that in the field of climate change there are some people who make tremendous use of social media; in that group one of the most prominent is Dr. Michael Mann. As many of you know, I was blocked by Dr. Mann on his Twitter feed for the temerity of asking him to stop conflating “lukewarmers” and “deniers”.

Apparently I am not the only person to have been blocked for the transgression of asking Dr. Mann a question, but given this condition I do not get to see all of Dr. Mann’s most recent tweets. However, before I was blocked I had the opportunity to read many hundreds of them and a sufficient number of his current tweets are retweeted to allow me to determine that his methods do not appear to have changed substantially in the last several months. One thing I have noticed is that Dr. Mann has a lot to say about people with whom he disagrees. Unlike many of his peers, more often than not his negative comments center around personalities and issues of policy rather than the underlying science of which he is an acknowledged expert. I cannot count the number of times he has used the word “denier” in a tweet and his opinions about people like Dr. Judith Curry and many of her peers are legendary. Besides the area of policy, where he might have some limited expertise, he also appears willing to expound on areas where his expertise would appear to be lacking. An example of this happened yesterday when Dr. Mann made the following tweet:

Now there is a pretty robust literature in the fields of Conservation Ecology and Environmental Econometrics and more than a few books have been written on the topics. Areas of research include the Environmental Kuznet Curve hypothesis, the IPAT identity (and its many sister/daughter variants) and many others. While I am certainly not an expert in those fields, my original training (prior to chemistry) was in population and conservation ecology and I have experience working in the field of ecosystem restoration. In my studies I was taught about a few simple premises that underlie human and societal development:
  • as societies become more affluent, their birth rates tend to decrease
  • as societies become more affluent, populations tend to become more urban as specialization and improved  technologies allow for a reduction in need for human labour in food production and increased per hectare crop yields
  • as societies become more affluent, their willingness to devote more resources for environmental protection increases as does their desires for improved environmental health outcomes.
I will not pretend to do this topic justice but I will point out that there is a very strong consensus in the field regarding these topics. Moreover, I am pretty sure that the authors of the Manifesto, who represent a pretty reasonable group of experts in the field, are more familiar with the intricacies of the academic literature in their fields than Dr. Mann. This is where the irony blindness comes in. As I discussed earlier, in the field of climate change non-specialists in the field are continually lectured about their lack of applicable academic credentials. However, as in the case above, these same individuals do not hesitate to step outside their areas of expertise to lecture us in fields in which they would appear to lack any applicable expertise.

In the last several years, a new term has entered the vernacular “Mansplaining”. Mansplaining has been defined as “explaining without regard to the fact that the explainee knows more than the explainer, often done by a man to a woman” (ref). Based on what I have observed in the field of climate change science I would like to propose a variation on this term: “Mannsplaining”. Mannsplaining can be used to describe situations where climate scientists, who brook no outside comment on their field, subsequently feel free to lecture other experts without regard to the fact that the explainee knows more than the explainer about the field under discussion.


  1. "Mannsplaining". Huge thumbs up. Might be room to coin the term "Manntrolling", as well.

  2. I get patronized when I discuss climate policies. This is why I decided to use satire in my blog. My six readers seem to like me better that way.

  3. I like your recommendation for Mannsplaining.

    I am always interested when you explain things based on your background. In this post the premise that struck home particularly well was: as societies become more affluent, their willingness to devote more resources for environmental protection increases as does their desires for improved environmental health outcomes.

    In my opinion, when fossil fuels have been used for the society to become more affluent there was contemporary recognition that its use caused problems but that was accompanied by the realization that even so those problems were better than the problems before hand. Those positive benefits always seem to be neglected or ignored when fossil fuel externalities are calculated.

  4. The facts are very simple:

    CO2 is a “trace gas” in air, insignificant by definition. It absorbs 1/7th as much IR, heat energy, from sunlight as water vapor which has 188 times as many molecules capturing 1200 times as much heat making 99.8% of all "global warming." CO2 does only 0.2% of it. For this we should destroy our economy?

    There is no "greenhouse effect" in an atmosphere. A greenhouse has a solid, clear cover that traps heat. The atmosphere does not trap heat as gas molecules cannot form surfaces required for greenhouses. Molecules have to be in contact, as in liquids and solids like water and glass, to form surfaces.

    The Medieval Warming from 800 AD to 1300 AD Micheal Mann erased to make his "hockey stick" was several degrees warmer than anything "global warmers" fear. It was the longest period of peace and abundance for 500 years.

    Vostock Ice Core data analysis show CO2 increases follow temperature by 800 years 19 times in 450,000 years. That means temperature change is cause and CO2 change is effect; not the other way around. This alone refutes the anthropogenic global warming concept.

    Methane is called "a greenhouse gas 20 to 500 times more potent than CO2," depending on who is lying, but it is not per the absorption chart at the American Meteorological Society. It has an absorption profile very similar to nitrogen which is classified "transparent" to IR, heat waves and is only present to 18 ppm. "Green vegans" blame methane in cow flatulence for global warming in their war against eating meat.

    Carbon combustion generates 80% of our energy. Control and taxing of carbon would give the elected ruling class more power and money than anything since the Magna Carta of 1215 AD.

    Most scientists and science educators work for tax supported institutions. They are eager to help government raise more money for them and they love being seen as "saving the planet."

    Google "Two Minute Conservative" for clarity.

    1. Re: the Vostok (not "Vostock") ice core data: you're several years behind the science. This was a measurement error:

    2. Mik,
      I think the "correction" you are referring to is more commonly called "cooking the numbers".

  5. I can't imagine why any intelligent person would read ANYTHING Mann says.

    There is no empirical evidence, none, showing that the co2 level has ever had anything to do with the planet's temperature. Theco2 level has been much higher during most of our planet's existence. In fact, the only good correlation (tracking both up and down trends) shows that, over geologic periods, temperature variation occurs first and it is only hundreds (or more) years later that very similar variations show up in the co2 level - the reverse of what the alarmists are claiming. Not only is there no evidence, there's not even a correlation (which, if there were, does not imply causation.)

    The greenhouse gas theory is also on shakey grounds. There is no convection from within a greenhouse and satellites see heat escaping from our open atmosphere. Then there is the case that co2 impact (such as it is) on temperature diminishes as co2 level increases.

    How can such a hypothesis be considered "settled science"?

  6. As mainlame memesprongs are sung 'Mannsplaining''s spring was jinxed before it sprang from its coiner's larynx, and Two Minute Conservative's take on climate forcing amounts to 120 solid seconds of very low whiggery.

    1. Go ahead and define "climate forcing" to us, Russel, without appeal to petitio principii and demonstrate that it can actually be done.

    2. One recalls Yosemite Sam demanding an explanation of the so-called invisible force called ' gravity' while standing in the shade of a falling rock.

      CO2 absorbs thermal radiation as efficiently as carbon black absorbs visible light.Radiative forcing is what happens to the water thermometer when you add 400 parts per million of black india ink to a swimming pool at high noon on a sunny day. So is what happens when you add infrared opaque gases to largely transparent atmospheres.

    3. Now please show us your derivation of the opacity Km from the Eddiington luminosity :

      L Edd = 4πGM⋆c / Km ≈

      6.6×10 ^4 / 1+X M/M⊙ X L⊙,

      substituting the vibrational absorbtion spectra of CO2 for the opacity of a stellar envelope.