Why Cliff Mass Is a Very Dangerous Weatherperson

Comments

1
Looks like we've reached CRITICAL MASS.
2
Cue cliff mass' protest post in 3...2...1...
3
Charles is a thinker. I love it.
4
Don't worry Charles, he'll convert into the most fervent believer in climate-change-caused extreme weather as soon as it costs him money. Until then, his denials will cause him to have to have less and less credibility within the scientific community.
5
I'm reading Mass as saying that no causation can be demonstrated (per usual), but correlation is possible - and in the case of the warming over the arctic, probable?

"Human Forcing" is a new one for me.
6
If you numbskulls would actually check out the evidence, you'll see that Dr. Mass is actually correct on this one. Warming in the locality of those wildfires has been fairly modest; while larger-scale warming may contribute to drought and hence wildfires by disrupting weather patterns, the contribution to this particular event (as is the case with most individual events) is relatively small.
The argument isn't "I'm a scientist and you're not". It's "I know what I'm talking about and you don't".

Do you think you're giving political liberalism any better credibility on this issue? Climate-denying conservatives think that every snowstorm is proof of no warming. Are we to take every unusually severe wildfire as proof that warming is fucking our shit up right now, regardless of how the facts line up? Let's not stoop to the other side's obscene allegiance to confirmation bias. We have the facts on our side here; let us not adulterate them with lies and exaggerations.
7
As someone who read Cliff Mass regularly, I've seen many of these posts from him. He does have a justification for them. He believes that when you accurately inform the public about the problem it leads to more trust between us and the media that reports it. How many climate deniers use some of these false or incredibly misleading articles on climate change to build up their arguments for why you can't trust the media, and so on? We already know oil companies have invested in spreading a false narrative, pushing the very few climate change denying scientists' opinions around. As we see over and over, corporations will go at any length to spread propaganda, lie or cheat for their bottom line.

Is Cliff's narrative really dangerous? Is it rational to accept a false narrative - the ends justify the means? At what point does it just build another narrative, that you're being lied to and you can't trust your own media? It just seems too simplistic to say Cliff is dangerous.

As far as action is concerned, I'm not convinced we will ever get on the right path with neo-liberal solutions, and although I admire the people of Seattle or any city for trying to get themselves on track, this problem is not going to be solved one city at a time. If you want to see real change we need big movements and centralized power willing to exert its power. We'll never make any progress with the mess of a country we have now. We need a massive governmental project to actively work towards fighting climate change like the Manhattan Project or something. We need to stop being afraid of big government projects, because I'm convinced we'll be flailing around like idiots until we're all dead otherwise.

But in any case, we can all freak out about any specific disaster, but that is not the way to get to a calm and meaningful SOLUTION. Solutions devised from a panicked public could just as easily be terrible solutions as they could be good ones. So no, I don't think we need to stop freaking out, and think carefully about what we need to get done, and then push a project that's well planned, thought out. Not whatever half assed, fragmented solution we have now or some investment in private companies to develop future tech or some nonsense.
9
@6) I really recommend re-reading my post. you missed its crucual point and the structure of its thinking.
10
Cliff Mass is deeply committed to be as pedantic as possible about climate science, no matter what the outcome. It's a deeply principled stand for a cause he believes in: semantic quibbling.
11
Mass thinks it's fine for him to tell oceanographers how to do their jobs, so why can't anyone else tell Mass how to do his job?
12
Charles, thank you for another reminder why I slog through Slog. Thanks for sharing these thoughts; it's so obvious now, what I felt about Cliff Mass, but had never taken the time to examine.
13
@10 +1
14
@6, er, they set a high of 90 the other day (previous record high 82). The Arctic is setting heat records every day. This winter was an all-time low ice extent.

I admit this isn't my area of expertise, but that all seems relevant.
15
Charles, thanks for demonstrating to all of us why you're a political agitator, not a scientist. Dr. Mass lets the data lead him to conclusions; you start with a conclusion and then go about life thinking that every rustle of leaves supports your concept.

The man rides his bicycle to work down the BG almost every day. Good luck accusing him of being a shill for Big Oil.

@6 venomlash, excellent post.
16
I'm glad you wrote this Charles because I've been upset with Mass for a while on this subject. His climate change equivocating is morally equivalent to a trusted health expert in 1965 announcing again and again that the cancer in a smoker's lungs can't be proven to be caused by their smoking.

We don't have the means to prove the cause of _individual_ cancers or whether climate change is responsible for _individual_ weather events, but dwelling on that fact is a dangerous distraction from the greater, potentially deadly truths that smoking does cause cancer and that climate change is here now and causing mayhem. With more on the way. What is the point of doing that except to seed doubt and delay action? He's an intelligent man; he surely understands the consequences of his actions.

Disgusting.
17
Cliff Mass will be the first to tell you that the number one issue with Climate Change denialism is ... wait for it ... environmentalists. See, if environmentalists weren't so pushy about their messages of upcoming global catastrophe, then maybe people would just agree to move forward with carbon emission reduction strategies.

You think I'm joking or exaggerating, but I'm not. Cliff Mass has constantly and repeatedly drawn no distinction between environmentalists and shills for the planet-destroying fossil fuel and coal industries. He has repeatedly said that environmentalists stand to blame equally as much for climate inaction as the fossil fuel industry.

Furthermore, his chief concern is not with the science, but instead with public perception of the science. He constantly and obsessively bothers himself with how "media reports" portray things. Mind you, NOT on the scientific merits of those reports, but instead on the "tone" they have with the general public.

What people don't seem to get is that Cliff Mass is a very nice, lovely local weatherman, but not a great climate scientist. You might think that he fancies himself as a climate scientist, but he doesn't. He considers himself a climate science discussion moderator, and he believes he is the only one who has the authority and expertise to set the tone and language of any climate debate.

Cliff Mass is the Goldilocks of public climate science debate. Nobody can be TOO right, so everybody has to just be lukewarm and eat the sobering researcher's porridge bowl. The greatest sin in all climate discussion, to Cliff, is being an alarmist. He truly and honestly believes nothing could possibly be more catastrophic to climate discussions than being too alarmist about climate change.
18
@5 "Human Forcing" was new to me as well. I found it used as early as 2010 in regards to climate change. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.10…
19
@17:
Goldilocks my ass. Mass's logic about the relationship between weather systems and climate change only goes one direction: denial. Because it only can go in that direction. We don't have anywhere near the modeling sophistication to prove that individual weather events are directly caused by climatic trends. But weather trends can be demonstrated statistically. Just ask, you know, a climatologist.
20
Atmospheric science is a much broader field than the expert use of technology to characterize and predict weather phenomena. Although Cliff Mass is highly skilled and very entertaining meterologist, to be an actual practicing atmospheric scientist, he would have to engage in some form of systematic research aimed at gaining a more comprehensive understanding of nature. If he has ever did engage in such inquiry, he stopped doing so a long time ago. For many years, in the face of mounting and incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, Dr. Mass seems to enjoy asserting his opinion every chance he gets that climate change is not happening.

Dr. Mass has plenty of company. For example, the people who administer FEMA nationwide don't take climate change into consideration when mapping our nation's floodplains. Rumor has it that local FEMA did hire consultants to prepare a secret map that is unavailable to the public that depicts what FEMA calls the "worst case scenario floodplain" in Tukwila, Kent and Auburn that may take into account the possibility of future superstorms that could exceed the capacity of Howard Hanson Dam to protect these cities from catastrohpic flooding. The staff of the Seattle Branch of the Army Corps of Engineers consider Howard Hanson Dam to be an adequate flood storage facility, because, after all, it has a 140 year flood storage capacity, based on the past hydrologic period of record. Whether a more forward looking consideration of climate change should be taken into account when determining the adequacy of the dam and the flood control structures on the lower Green River that will be approved by FEMA and the Corps isn't something local Corps engineers can determine, because such decisions are made by very high ranking officers at the Corps' headquarters in Washington, DC. Because Dr. Mass is such a highly respected local expert, I would bet money both FEMA and the Corps invite to speak to their staff from time to time about the weather.
21
@17- OK, that's what Cliff Mass believes...Is he right?

No, he's terribly, terribly wrong. Telling people climate change will only be definitively a problem in a generation or two (though the problem is being caused by our action now) leads most listeners to saying "huh, not a problem." It also makes him very easy to selectively edit to sound like a denier. "This isn't evidence of climate change." make better soundbite (or two sentence quote in the newspaper) than "Here's a very long and detailed explanation of why climate change is real and human caused and how events like these are things that will happen more and more as climate change occurs but no single one of them counts as climate change."

His pedantic precision is counter-productive.
22
On The New Yorker site right now: Elizabeth Kolbert on Fort McMurray and climate change --
http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comm…
23
Cliff is a self-important asshole who cares more about being as pedantic as possible than actual science and truth. He lost a lot of credibility in the meteorological community last summer with his whole "we're not really in drought" routine that turned out to be completely wrong. You'll never hear him admit that he made any kind of error, ever, of course.
24
So the prevailing view on Slog is to go along with Mudede and buy into Pascal's Wager -- possibly the daftest Proof of God ever concocted?

And to reject Mass's simple observation that the recent temperature anomaly (local to the fire zone) is an order of magnitude larger than the warming trend (also local to the fire zone), even assuminh 100% of that warming trend is due to anthropogenic climate change ("human forcing").
25

It might be useful to consider how else these fires and other events can be better expressed in relation to climate change. We should call out Mass for dangerously misinforming a trusting public, but we're still stuck in the frames he uses unless we find alternatives.

Mass is consistently wrong because he limits his analysis to linear causality: since the recent Alberta temperatures are higher than the measured anthropogenic warming, he argues, the difference must negate any connection with climate change. But linearity can't begin to capture how human forcing is changing the Earth's climate. Climate systems are continuous relations between dynamics that are both abiotic (heat, evaporation, elevation, slope, wind, ocean currents, clouds, etc.) and biotic (forests, grasslands, insect outbreaks, soil bacteria, photosynthesis, etc.). These relations are complicated: anthropogenic warming changes not just these abiotic and biotic actors but every one of their inter-relations, as well. I'm partial to Gregory Bateson's description of this sort of nonlinear system: "if you kick a stone, the stone will proceed on the basis of the energy provided by the kick. But if you kick a dog..." Mass doesn't seem to understand that the Earth's climate system is far more like a dog than a stone -- and our anthropogenic forcing has been one helluva kick!

Climatologists also speak in probabilities and likelihoods. James Hansen describes anthropogenic warming as "loading the climate dice" (see http://www.pnas.org/content/109/37/E2415… ). Enormous fires so early in the warm season can be understood as "a consequence of global warming because their likelihood in the absence of global warming [is] exceedingly small." And so, again, Mass misses the climate forest for the meteorological trees.

I see no evidence that Mass' intent is agnotologic, unlike ExxonMobil or other heavily vested carbon interests. Dedicated pedanticism (@10) and a meteorologist's limited understanding of climate science (@17 and @20) seem sufficient to explain his consistent climate change denials. But thank you Charles for making public this discussion of his dangerous rhetoric!
26
Lots of great comments here. Mass is right, we can't prove that this particular fire wouldn't have happened without climate change (yes, I'm a climate scientist). Mass provides information to inform the political discussion, to be considered with other information.

But Mudede asks the crucial and correct question "what's the loss if either side is wrong? ". Even recognizing Mass's contribution, taking action to reduce emissions is clearly the win.
27
You're not a scientist, you're not an urban planner. You are a poor journalist.
29
@8 - "Cliff Mass says we can't be sure that any given weather event is global warming. Fair enough. But then he goes on to say that because we can't be sure, therefore it isn't."

In a nutshell, that's basically it. Because there's no evidence at the present time that a given extreme event is global-warming related, or (worse yet) because a model somewhere that's predicting how the planet will warm says the warming will happen in a different way, Mass concludes that therefore the extreme event *was not* caused by global warming. When the scientifically correct conclusion is that we simply don't know yet.

And so far as the predictive models go, they could very well be all wet. All we *really* know with high certainty is that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and that releasing it will tend to make the planet get warmer overall. How exactly that will happen is much harder to say (and largely irrelevant when it comes to the need to take action to minimize disruptive climate change).

30
I make the analogy to Alex Rodriguez. Can we attribute any particular home run he hit to steroids? No, the guy hit lots of em before steroids. But we surely can attribute his 57 homers in (whatever) year to steroids. Asking about particular homers is useless, and Mass is properly skeptical. But he gives an incomplete answer.
31
I don't have the time to go read all of Cliff's articles, so I guess I'm not seeing all the stuff you folks are saying he says -- but I did read THIS article, and he doesn't say "because we can't be sure, therefore it isn't [due to climate change]". Given Charles's apparent ignorance of how science works, I can see how he'd misread it: as others have pointed out, he begins from his conclusion and works backwards to what he wishes to be true. But Cliff points out that there's been a ton of anthropogenic warming in the Arctic and Antarctic, the effects of which are thus far attenuated the further one goes from the Poles. This is manifestly true. He makes exactly zero claim for future trends, at least in this article. In other articles about, for instance, hurricanes and other large-scale cyclonic storms, he has pointed out that warming oceans contribute higher energy levels to already energetic storms.

I guess my question is, what would you have him do? He is, as you point out, a meteorologist, not a climate modeler. Isn't it enough to point out (as he has) that warming will produce more, and more energetic, storms? More and more extreme weather in general? I believe that climate change is an existential threat to humanity, but I'm not slamming Cliff Mass for failing to wear sackcloth and ashes and froth and the mouth about it. He's a scientist, not an advocate. You want to advocate? Go advocate. Don't be pissy because he won't do it for you, and the claim that he's some sort of climate change denialist is idiotic. You're smarter than this, Charles. Do better.
32
We know that we have a position on climate change (defer to the experts) and Republicans have a position on climate change (“nya, nya, I can’t hear you!”). We like to believe that our position is drawn from the data at hand and in deference to the scientific consensus, while the deniers’ position is the opposite — starting from a conclusion and working backwards. This is generally correct, although sometimes I wonder about how closely some on the Left hew to this notion (anti-vaxers, fluoride conspiracists, and GMO alarmists being three glaring examples where emotions often prevail over reason). I don’t foresee some new information dramatically altering the position of climate change affirmers (“Turns out, Dubya just has been leaving his outdoor grill on for the last eight years, and that’s why they’ve been the hottest on record!”), and I don’t see anything altering the deniers’ position, either. They will go to their newly-expanded, watery graves believing it’s all a big swindle. As with many Regressives, you have to wait them out. This is unfortunate, because we likely don’t have the luxury.

But what about people who haven’t made their minds up? As with Presidential elections, they will likely decide our destiny. Which sucks. Polling varies here, but you can imagine that there is significant overlap between Democrats and acceptance, as well as Republicans and denial (heh), so the two essentially cancel each other out. We have to win over the people who remain, and a Boy-Who-Cries-Wolf approach is the wrong one to take. Deniers love to run with practical arguments like this and twist them to portray us as the liars and charlatans. They thrive on ignorance, and they are louder, meaner, and have something more tangible than our future’s sake to drive their position: money. And because so many of the Undecideds do not believe they are personally affected by climate change, they tend to listen more to the louder, more emotional viewpoint, because it’s easier and that’s how humans are wired. We need to win them over. We do that by building trust, not diminishing it.

Remember the bad ol’ days of George Dubya, “Real Americans,” and when Palin was a heartbeat away from the Presidency? The anti-elitism went hand-in-hand with anti-intellectualism. We were “Latte Liberals” out of touch with Joe the Plumber, who was the only American who mattered. Then Obama got elected, and The Crazy became more potent, more distilled, but blessedly smaller. Hell, http://www.businessinsider.com/congress-…">even Congress voted to acknowledge that climate change exists. But The Crazy is still here, festering, ready to slide the knife into any progress we might hope to make in swaying the Undecideds. It’s self-defeating to point toward the scientific consensus all the livelong day, but snipe at experts who almost certainly agree with us in principle, but not in one specific case. When you do this, you are engendering the anti-elitism spirit. You are the real-life Colbert, terrified that since it’s night, the sun must have been http://www.cc.com/video-clips/br6hwk/the…">destroyed. All this snow disproves Al Gore... but in reverse. This is something that the Left is way better at than the Right. You must be Pure, or you are no better than the enemy. Echoes of Dubya indeed.

Charles is doing damage to our cause because he is helping to erode public trust in the data-gatherers and deciders. Luckily for us, the damage is limited because Charles’ audience is almost certainly people who either agree with us or trolls who disagree but won’t change their minds no matter what. In other words, the intersection of the set of Charles’s audience and the set of Undecideds is likely to be vanishingly small. But if we all start making similar claims, we run the risk of sending the Undecideds straight into the waiting arms of the ignorance-peddlers.

Pascal’s Wager sounds persuasive but fails to deliver because it ignores all context and subtlety. It’s bad for Christian apologists and it’s bad for climate change affirmers. I have no doubt that Charles’s intentions are noble in trying to adapt it to this debate. But there are better arguments to be made, more fitting implements in our toolbox. We have recent, demonstrable instances of actual climate change bringing about catastrophic loss. Lead with that. Build trust and leave the tactic of dismissing the impure to the deniers.
33
This article is a real embarrassment for the Stranger. The author thinks Cliff Mass is DANGEROUS because he does not agree with him, but doesn't tell why. I read Cliff Mass's blog. He provides facts and graphs supporting his analysis. The Stranger's author (Author) provides no facts, no concrete rebutals, nothing. There is a lot of name calling, but no analysis with facts. No analysis of the scientific literature. This is extremely poor journalism. You disagree with Cliff Mass. Fine. But calling him names is no way to educate the public.
34
@33,

For starters, it's not an article; it's a blog post. Learn the difference, dipshit.
35
Charles,
George Bush got the US into a terrible war by telling folks to act on faith, not facts. OF COURSE, there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. We might not have real proof, but it had to be true. Besides if we were wrong, what was the harm? We would be getting rid of a dictator. I would argue that you are following his approach. Society and decision makers need to have the facts about global warming--the best science and the best data. Not hype to ensure folks "do the right thing." Providing the best information is my job as a weather and climate scientist (and for those who think I just do weather, they are wrong...much of my work has dealt with climate). It is disturbing that you call a scientist providing such information dangerous. Dangerous to what? You preconceived notions, few of them informed by the real science? I understand the dangers of climate, probably far better than you. It will profoundly effect the world. I am a strong supporter of I732, the carbon tax initiative, and and worked to stop the coal trains. Society must prepare for climate change, but they need the truth. The infrastructure changes that are needed (e.g., enhanced reservoirs, flood protection) can not be based on hype but the best science. Is this dangerous? I think not. Media folks, politicians, and others that are hyping the immediate impacts to push folks to do the "right thing" are profoundly hurting the efforts of folks such as myself that are trying to warn and guide society regarding the threat of global warming. Your exaggeration and hype plays into the hands of those denying climate change...cliff mass
37
I've been stewing about this since last night, and I think what bugs me the most is one particular fundamental misunderstanding about science. Science, when applied to complex systems (like the global surface conditions) is about patterns, not specific events. Let's say that climate change makes it more like that people will get struck by lightning - so your chances go from one in a million to, let's say, one in a hundred thousand. Yikes! That's a ten-fold increase! Serious stuff!

Now, your buddy gets struck by lightning. Was that because of climate change? No. Is an increase in the number of people getting struck by lightning because of climate change? Yes. The TREND is related, the EVENT might be, might not be, there's no way to say.

Do trends worry me? Oh HELL yes. That's why I'm worried about climate change, because it will increase the frequency of high-energy large-scale storms (hurricanes and the like), because rising seas will inundate coastal areas (for sure), and so on. But trying to say a particular event IS BECAUSE OF climate change is just as stupid as waving a snowball around and saying that it proves there is no climate change. One can be left-wing and stupid or right-wing and stupid. I don't care about your wings: just don't be stupid.
38
Ok" the event is very unusual for the season" because of "climate variability".
It is a forest fire, trees burn and always have, it is nature. Could it be caused by climate change? Maybe! But most definitely by climate variability (nature) because that has been happening long before we were here and always will happen along with many other natural occurrences.
It is sad this fire happened where it did and caused this devastation but there have been larger fires than the Fort Mac fire in the past because as we all know forest fires are natural occurrences.

There have been larger in past history in the US and even larger fires in places with large expanses of wilderness like Canada or Russia. They happen because of "climate variability" and many other natural occurrences. To jump on the human caused climate change bandwagon alone is alarmist behaviour.
Even if we adjusted our habits to eliminate climate change there would still be fires like the Fort Mac fire and larger. The point is to not just jump on a climate change excuse for these types of fires but use science with facts to define truth. If it is human caused then ok, if not then accept that.
God, philosophy and emotion all have their place but even if these things kept you on your toes when would you stop and say, "ok everything is ok now". Probably never. But if you can define scientifically that something is human caused and then apply that information to eliminate the problem and then relax and deal with the next situation instead of creating paranoia, being alarmist and constantly "ON" all the time you would probably be more conducive to a rational approach to problems.
The whole post seemed like massive self promotion to me. But that is my opinion of a Charles post, there have been posts of his that are ok but mostly not.

There is the small list of large fires as far back as 1825 just for the US alone.
http://www.idahoforests.org/fires3.htm
39
The problem with this lovely thesis is that Cliff Mass does not have or express any doubt about the fact that human activity is warming the planet.

If you ask him, he'll say so. He is convinced, and will tell you, that glacial retreat and ocean acidification, among other measures, clearly show that the planet is heating up. And he will tell you that the only believable cause for that warming is human consumption of fossil fuels.

So your theory does not hold any water; it is only for people who pretend that Cliff Mass never says things that he does say, all the time, very clearly.

I mean, go ask him, already. You work for a newspaper, for heavens sake, you're allowed to call up people you haven't met and ask them questions.

What Cliff Mass will not do is go along with anyone who insists that a specific, short-term weather event has been conjured up by evil humans.

That is not science, nor is it philosophy: that is simply belief in magic. It is stuff fit only for rural peoples, bumpkins who believe in faith-healing and witch-doctors and talismans and spells.
40
@30, 37: Good posts.
41
Mudede and his kind have the imperative the threaten scientists for not doing their political bidding. There is abundant evidence to throw serious doubt on the "settled science" of global warming,... I mean, 'climate change'... errrr, make that 'climate disruption.'

There is no evidence to suggest that humankind has the means to "reverse" warming, but onoy by motivating people by fear, herding them into activist mobs, identifying and prosecuting the questioners -- only THEN can you assert tyranny of confiscations, regulation, detainment.

It's a curiously Orwellian world you're creating for yourselves, Lefties.
42
@41: Don't get me started on you, fuckface. The science IS settled. The remaining debate is entirely about how strong the various feedback mechanisms are, what effect political controls will have on emissions, and the feasibility of various geoengineering proposals: essentially, how fucked we are.
Just not sure what you thought you were getting at. "Hey, this jerk is trying to skew the science to support his political opinion, so I'm going to do the exact same thing and act smug about it." Go take your doubt-merchantry elsewhere, you dumb cockholster.
43
@42

The questions of political controls or terraforming would be questions of engineering*, not science.

But the question of how fucked we are -- of how far and how fast human populations will decline, and how much of that die-off will be attributable to climate change (vs. e.g. depletion of fossil fuels, fertilizers, or other resources whose supply is not a function of global temperatures) -- that is properly a question of science.

Science, however, doesn't seem to want answers to that question any more than anyone else does.

-

* and perhaps only for fantasy engineering, be it political or atmospheric. Freezing the third world at its present standard of living while scaling back that of the developed world is a bit of what you might call "a tough sell." Or "kind of unfair," or "utterly divorced from reality," depending on your mood.
44
Yes, we can safely assume that this forest fire is a result of atmospheric Carbon Dioxide produced by the burning of fossil fuels. And this is not the only bad thing that happens in the world that is a direct result of using powered equipment like computers, cars, buildings and everything else built by Man. Here is a partial list: http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/warmlist.ht…
But there is no need to worry because the world got together in Paris and agreed to all the proposals at COP-21!
45
@35
hurting the efforts of folks such as myself that are trying to warn and guide society regarding the threat of global warming.


what results do you think your efforts amount to? do we need to explain how little (essentially nothing) has been done considering the stakes at hand? perhaps YOU should consider that what you call "guiding society" isn't doing anything positive toward addressing the threat of climate change to human societies given you have nothing to show for it?
46
"what is the consequence of this wager if it is wrong?"

How we react to climate change is a two sided argument between climate change believers and climate change deniers. Climate change deniers do not rely on science, they rely on emotion and tapping into people's gut feelings on issues. Those of us that believe in climate change must take a higher route. Our argument must be based firmly in real science. If we do not take this route our stance is no different from theirs, and they are free to point out every snow storm as evidence that climate change is not real.

Science is not dangerous, those who aim to suppress them are.
47
Last spring and summer as conditions worsened to the point where we experienced the worst wildfire season in the state's history, where was Cliff Mass? Belaboring the definition of "drought". Needless to say, I agree with the author's characterization.
So my question- is there a sharper writer on the local scene than Charles Mudede?
48
@42

"The science is settled"

In a presentation to the American Physical Society, William Collins of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and lead author of the modeling Chapter 9 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Report said "Now, I am hedging a bet because, to be honest with you, if the hiatus is still going on as of the sixth IPCC report, that report is going to have a large burden on its shoulders walking in the door, because recent literature has shown that the chances of having a hiatus of 20 years are vanishingly small."

Settled?

Defying ever single one of the models, and the very tenets and principles of "global warming", there has been a hiatus in average surface temperature warming for 19 years.

Inconvenient fact.

And Al Gore, poster child for the hysterical, has been fantastically wrong about this 'settled science.' After Katrina he and federally-funded science shook its collective finger and said sternly "climate disruption" (see, not heating-up) would threaten human lives with hurricanes of greater intensity and frequency.

In fact, we are now enjoying the longest interval in the modern record, eleven years and counting, without a major (Category 3) hurricane making landfall in the U.S.

There has been variation in surface temperature. It maps the volatility of the earth for hundreds of thousands of years. Development may contribute to that variability. The threat to humanity and environment is overblown, we can easily adapt. Until you have a plan to stop Africa and Asia from improving their lives, good luck slowing things down.

The primary observable meteorological phenomena of the Left is – pissing in the wind.
49
My problem with Cliff Mass is that if he indeed believes climate change is real then he needs to be speaking out about it. Fine for him to continue to be an honest scientist but not OK to do only that and not speak out about the other. Dr. James Hanson ( http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/ ) is an example of a climate scientist with integrity. I have my doubts about Mr. Mass.
51
@48: Way to copy and paste directly from the Wikipedia article. Too bad you didn't scroll down another few paragraphs to where it mentions that the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society, and the World Meteorological Organization all came to the conclusion that there hasn't actually been the 20-year hiatus that you guys like to claim. Warming has slowed but not stopped, and it's perfectly consistent with the theory as it stands.

Hurricane activity is actually UP of late; counting only the major storms that make landfall is an imbecilic proxy that has less to do with tropical warming and more to do with random chance.

And as for climate disruption (which follows directly from warming), we're already seeing unseasonable droughts around the world. What do you call that?

Yours is an embarrassing and simplistic assessment of the situation, undertaken apparently by a guy who doesn't know shit about earth science. Climatology may not make sense to you, but that's really more of a judgment on you than on the science.
53
@51 Yours is an embarrassingly gullible adoption of poli-science, which is conjured up from perverse incentives of scientific funding mechanisms, which has been proven riddled with unsubstantiated statements, wild-eyed assumptions and documented fraud, to portray apocalyptic conditions unless we (swoon!) give broader power to our wise authoritarian leaders.

We're seeing episodic droughts – as we have throughout history – which have greater consequence as people have moved into these areas, the diffusion of media which makes everyone a reporter, and the conformation bias of people looking for 'facts' that support their predisposed belief.

BTW – If the science is 'settled" - as you allege, then please do tell us why these science organizations vehemently disagree on the most basic fact: Measuring the average temperature?!

Keep panicking -- you simpleton.

54
What seems really strange to this reader is that issue has been taken with Cliff Mass writing at a level that treats his readers as adults. What he pointed out is that there was a persistent ridge that contributed to warming and drying, which are both favorable to forest fires. Attribution of particular events to climate change is not a straightforward exercise. He made no claims one way or the other about the relevance of climate change to the ridge.

Mudede appears to argue that wild weather events should be exploited to move policy in a particular direction. However, the only thing that a practicing scientist has to trade on is reputation and integrity. Those are qualities that come with long times. Think strategy. Sacrificing that in order to jump on the Chicken Little bandwagon is a losing strategy.

It's hard enough to move policy when one only makes accurate statements. If a scientist gets a reputation for jumping ahead of evidence, she will lose credibility and consequently have reduced influence.

Major fires happen due to a confluence of conditions. Land management and fire suppression play major roles. Weather and climate do as well. It's complicated. As pointed out by many in this stream, wild-eyed accusations about Mass's motivations are no better founded than Imhof holding up snowballs in the winter and claiming global warming is a myth.

55
@53: " Yours is an embarrassingly gullible adoption of poli-science, which is conjured up from perverse incentives of scientific funding mechanisms, which has been proven riddled with unsubstantiated statements, wild-eyed assumptions and documented fraud, to portray apocalyptic conditions unless we (swoon!) give broader power to our wise authoritarian leaders."
Did you have a point in all that word salad? Because it looks to me as though you're aping my (admittedly grandiloquent) style in an effort to sound smart. Protip: I'm wordy because I'm intelligent and well-read, not the other way around. Using big words won't get you anywhere unless you understand what you're saying.
Actually, let's talk about "documented fraud". If it's so well-documented, if climatologists are actually faking the evidence the way you claim they are, you should have no trouble showing me some of that documentation. And remember, if it's written in crayon, it's probably not actual documentation.

"BTW – If the science is 'settled' - as you allege, then please do tell us why these science organizations vehemently disagree on the most basic fact: Measuring the average temperature?!"
Do they now? Where's your evidence of that?
56
@54 is right - people are pissed that Cliff isn't an advocate about climate change. Well, no: he's a scientist. Scientists do science. Advocates do advocacy. A scientist who has an axe to grind is a crappy scientist because hir worldview will be biased whether intentionally or not.

I spent a decade working in academic research on two different politically-fraught topics (acid precipitation, and then salmon management on the Columbia/Snake River system), and I have first-hand observations to back this up. The best scientist is the one who doesn't care that the answer be yes, or no -- s/he just wants to know the answer. Once you start to care, to pull for one answer or another, your work becomes suspect.

And my wife is a VERY ENERGETIC advocate about climate change, and I support that (I have to work for a living, however), so I don't doubt for a second that increasing temperature, especially ocean water temperature, since that drives so much of global weather, is A Bad Thing and will produce some, as we scientists say, Seriously Weird Shit. Anyone who thinks this isn't true is a tool (I'm looking at you, @53) and I will happily ignore whatever bullshit you spew here. Have fun!
57
Many years ago I ran into an "environmental group" that was seeking funding to set up monitors in the Arctic tundra to detect melting of the permafrost. My thought was by the time you detected permafrost melting, it was way too late. It is not productive to argue with climate change deniers. Everything we could be doing to avoid climate change we should be doing anyway: energy conservation, leaving fossil fuels in the ground, promoting solar and wind energy.
58
The GHCN data sets are persistently "readjusted" by NASA and NOAA, inevitably to make the past look cooler. And, when it comes to surface weather stations, the bias is always to have broken thermometers averaged, then rounded UP (never down). When challenged about the integrity of legacy weather stations where development has encroached (adjacent to parking lots, etc.), the issues are ignored. And so the temps go up – without adjustments.

And see recently, see them de-selecting buoy readings that aren't sufficiently high, and raising (never lowering) average tolerances for shipboard measurements.

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/ea…

And when subpoenad by the House Science Subcommittee, NOAA has refused to provide data or testimony.

How naive of you to think an industry with millions of employees, billions in grants, egos everywhere and political tailwind .... would have ZERO fraud.

Appallingly naive.
59
Cliff Mass has his head handed to him on a platter when he tried to challenge real climatologists: https://tamino.wordpress.com/2015/07/07/…

Mass says AGW is real but his repeated claims that particular events such as the Alberta fire have no relationship to it evidence a huge ignorance of the science. He needs to stick to weather.
60
#59. You are mistaken on all counts. The you claim in a "real climatologist" is not one at all (he does not have a background in meteorology, climate, or atmospheric sciences). The guy is an advocate who think he is an exert. He did not understand what Dr. Mass is saying and if you read it carefully he makes very basic errors in the statistics of extreme weather. But you comment is helpful, it illustrates the dangers of folks who know little about statistics or climate attacked experts that are unhappy with, based on your political leanings. Folks like you got us into the Iraq war.
61
Some climate experts chose to say that the characteristics of these fires look precisely like what science tells us anthropogenic climate change is doing to fire magnitude and frequency, Cliff Mass would rather tell us (mostly based on simplistic hand waving) that these fires have little to do with climate change. Who do you honestly think is effectively guiding society toward understanding what climate change is doing and will do to us?
62
Sure is a lot of pouting and impotent rage here just because ONE guy does not agree with ONE aspect of an ideology.

Are your egos so fragile and outsized that you can not handle ONE person disagreeing with you? Get a life.
63
@62 somebody who knew what they were talking about would surely know that Mass isn't ONE guy but he is one of the main go to man for local media when it comes to climate change. In other words, he has a lot of power and he appears to be misusing it. I think that is worthwhile mentioning.
64
Facts and truth matters folks.
#61 Who are the "climate experts" that are contradicting Cliff Mass? What expert is saying that the Alberta fires are the result of climate change? I just heard on NPR from a local expert (Dean of Forestry at UBC) that mismanagement of the forests are the key reason the blow up occurred during an El Nino year.
#62 What local media has quoted cliff about he fires? The Seattle Times? No KUOW, No. Seattle PI, NO. TV stations, No. You are saying something that has NO basis in truth.

There are so many comments of folks saying things that are simply opinion or are obviously untrue. Unfortunately, the author of this blog (Charles) is one of them.
65
@63: No one cares about Cliff Mass, or even knows who he is outside of the Washington area/academic community.

That you think he is some kind of huge mover when it comes to legislation and social awareness of climate change is really funny.

He is a college professor, climate scientist and blogger. Which of these three groups do you think vastly influences climate/environmental policies?
66
Given the weakening case for Global Warming,... errr Climate Change... ummm, wait, make that:

Climate Disruption!

..its adherents must be absolute in conditioning belief. No questioning is allowed. If you let Cliff Mass slide, without genuflecting in the climate church, others will question. Therefore Cliff Mass is dangerous.

While you're all very excitable about "anthropogenic warming" causing fires, there is abundant evidence that forest management practices, preventing fires and brushland grazing, are contributing to the fire intensity. And, development in forested lands, places like Fort Murray, lead to greater loss of property, and therefore greater newsiness.

But if you'd prefer to be hysterical about every issue not substantiated by data (wildfires, racist cops, sex trafficking!) have a great time in your Fun House of Lefty Angsts.
67
@39- The problem isn't science or philosophy, it's public relations. Cliff expresses in his post a belief that he's judiciously guiding people with accurate information. That shows a tremendous and misplaced belief in the political system and humanity in general.
68
@58: HA HA HA, OH WOW.
THAT is your much-vaunted "documented fraud"? THAT is your quote-unquote EVIDENCE that the overwhelming majority of climatologists are involved in a massive conspiracy? You're a colossal dimwit, and I shall elaborate as to why:

First, here is a full-text version of the abstract you linked to, which apparently you did not actually read.

"The GHCN data sets are persistently 'readjusted' by NASA and NOAA, inevitably to make the past look cooler."
I hear this one a lot. I also hear deniers whining about possible heat island bias whenever they're shown unadjusted data. Either the data are sacrosanct and must not be adjusted, or they're potentially biased and must be adjusted; you guys can't have it both ways! But adjustments that frequently ("inevitably" is outright false, as seen in Figure 2B of the paper you yourself cite) make the past cooler than the raw data would suggest are not in and of themselves evidence of fraud. It COULD be the result of data tampering. Or it COULD be that there was a bias towards higher temperatures implicit in the data collection methods of years past, and that bias has decreased over time as measurement protocols have improved; this is, in fact, the case. In actuality, by treating adjustments as valid if they decrease the apparent trend but fraudulent if they increase the apparent trend, you yourself are engaging in a sort of egregious data tampering/cherry-picking. How ironic.

"And, when it comes to surface weather stations, the bias is always to have broken thermometers averaged, then rounded UP (never down)."
No idea what your source is on this, but this wouldn't actually create a warming bias. So long as temperatures are consistently rounded in one direction, the trend won't be significantly altered. (The increase from 12.6 to 13.6 is the same as that from 13 to 14, and from 12 to 13.) Error will remain randomly distributed, and as any good statistician knows, error is perfectly fine; it's BIAS that is a big problem.

"When challenged about the integrity of legacy weather stations where development has encroached (adjacent to parking lots, etc.), the issues are ignored."
An outright falsehood perpetrated by Anthony Watts on his blog. Watts seems to believe that a warming trend, rather than persistently anomalously high readings compared to nearby stations, can be produced by suboptimal siting. Neither his hypothesis nor his methodology holds up to the most basic scrutiny.

If you READ the abstract of the Science paper you linked to, you'll actually see that the evidence the authors present suggests that NOAA has UNDERESTIMATED the warming trend, not overestimated it as you claim. Nor does the paper corroborate your wild claims about filtering of buoy measurements; its purpose is entirely to correct for measurement biases in the record. If you don't like their methodology, you can criticize that. But unfortunately, it doesn't appear that you even UNDERSTAND their methodology.

"And when subpoenad by the House Science Subcommittee, NOAA has refused to provide data or testimony."
The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, led by longstanding denier Lamar Smith (R-Texas), has demanded not just data and testimony, but also communications entirely unrelated to research. It goes against all precedent, and it's a blatant attempt to harass researchers by invading the privacy of those who deliver conclusions that go against the wishes of the legislators in charge. You think climatology has a "political tailwind"? Please; they're the subject of a perpetual Republican witch hunt undertaken by people who, bizarrely, think that by persecuting scientists they are speaking truth to power.

In summary: you don't know shit, but feel determined to talk as though you do. Your inability to understand the most basic concepts in statistics is not evidence of climatological fraud. Try again, homeslice.
69
Your confirmation bias is astounding. You seek allowances for the interpretation/adjustments in data, but only to suit a circumstance you are predisposed to believe anyway. Instead of letting the science discover what it discovers.

Curious that so much Lefty effort is spent branding people as "deniers." Faiths that seek to brand heretics among curious people, in defense of the prevailing institutional science, have a rather bad history.

But you have a defense for the condition of Shitcago too, so you'll likely explain-away anything that doesn't comport to the regressive ideology of modern day lefties.
70
Mudede's post is the climate change version of the so-called "Planned Parenthood" videos. Nothing but ignorance, lies and bullshit.

Either take a fucking science class so you can at least understand how science is done or shut the fuck up about a topic you know next to nothing about.
71
I mean seriously, why in the fuck won't you at least get a fucking comment from him to respond? Wasn't that taught in your remedial journalism class, or did you skip that as well?
72
I'm failing to understand what is it, exactly, that is so dangerous about our local and beloved "Weather-Enemy of the People"? Why is it he gets picked on for pointing out data-sets so our populace can try to think clearly and lucidly about the proximal cause of the terrible fire in Canada? Mudede seems to think in this instance that a measured and accurate consideration of data is dangerous rhetorical move, a kind of green-washing statistical spin that will confuse and befuddle an uncertain public; much like the legal defense used by the tobacco companies to obfuscate the relationship between smoking and lung cancer. This kind of rhetorical move is real and has been pulled by the oil industry and the Koch Brothers to promote confusion about the reality of global warming. But what Cliff Mass is doing is so very different - he is pointing out nuance, specificity, accuracy of the empirical data that is available and trying to teach the public how to understand it. He is a scientist and an educator. Proclaiming him "dangerous" seems to me more like getting mad at the flight attendant because you think he should have told you to put on your oxygen mask two minutes ago instead of one, when the terrifying reality is that the plane we are all on is crashing either way. So sure, be mad the flight attendant who told you in a measured tone how to use the safety equipment, and explained to you what a vacuum is and how to put on your oxygen mask. I think we all face a terrible feeling of alarm about a frightening increased pace of change (and beautifully illustrated in this graph: http://www.climate-lab-book.ac.uk/2016/s…) and want him to address it. But I'd reconsider labelling him "dangerous" for this omission. He disperses good information and honestly tries to help the public understand it.
And - we don't need Pascal's Wager. We have the data that climate change is real. There is no philosophical reason to shift to faith when prudence demands we act on the best evidence already at hand.
73
@69: Were you paying attention?
I'm in favor of adjusting data if there's a valid argument that it's necessary to correct some kind of sampling/collection bias. You'll notice that I actually spoke favorably of the Science paper DESPITE THE FACT THAT ITS PROPOSED ADJUSTMENTS LESSENED THE APPARENT WARMING TREND.
YOU are the one saying that adjustments that intensify the apparent trend must be fraudulent for that very reason. YOU are the only one here rejecting out-of-hand all lines of evidence that don't back up your worldview. Projecting much?

I call deniers exactly that because they deny all evidence that conflicts with their worldview. It's the same kind of ridicule that Creationists and flat-earthers merit as well, for exactly the same kinds of reasons. If I disagree with what you claim, I at least explain why in a semi-coherent fashion, while you rely mostly on argumentum ad lapidem. You accuse me of explaining things away? I repeat: YOUR INABILITY TO UNDERSTAND A CONCEPT IS NOT A DISPROOF OF SAID CONCEPT.
Still waiting on your "documented fraud" to materialize, btw.
74
Lets be honest here, Charles Mudede is the "All lives matter" of science related issues.
75
I had a much longer comment written, but Mudede seems to have read one quote and mostly ignored the rest of what Mass wrote, and context he provided. Reading Mass' post, he points out specifically that the Alberta region's warming trend has been modest compared to what natural variation from other sources can contribute.

The biggest risk for what CM (Cliff Mass) tends to say about the relationship between extreme weather events and global warming trends is people taking little quotes out of context to support denialism, since he generally acknowledges the possibility of contribution from human-caused warming. Ironically, this CM (Charles Mudede) proves it's a problem by taking the other CM out of context himself.

Mass seems to be correct that we don't have a definitive causal link to this one event in this one region at this one time. But it's entirely possible he's missing the bigger picture a little bit. Perhaps less so than people who (anecdotally) point to every extreme weather event as evidence of warming, which is about as well-founded as whichever Republican cited a snowball as evidence there wasn't warming.
76
Stupid stranger, really going for the yellow journalism click bait. I think this is a worthy conversation to have, but it shouldn't target cliff mass, and I'm not going to post an article titled "cliff mass is a very dangerous weather person." That's some stupid fucking shit.

He has a good, principled argument toward productive change this article whole heartedly ignores, which is that labeling every warm anomaly as global warming gives credit to labeling every cold anomaly as evidence to contradict it. That being true to the science builds trust AND understanding.

Americans are fucking stupid, but that doesn't mean we should make the STUPIDER by dumbing down the scientific conversation like PBS did in the last decade with it's flashy scientifically stupefied NOVA series.

Cliff mass' contribution elevates the conversation. Maybe we'd benefit if he talked a bit more about the consequences of inaction in addition to the state and limitations of the science, but he's fucking scientist. That's not his role, it's YOURS.