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In search of large ice floes

In search of large ice floes.

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  1. Jeff Shifrin
    September 23, 2012 at 10:04 PM


    This is not a comment on large ice floes. In fact, after reading it, I suggest you delete it, rather than posting it here where it would be inappropriate. It is a personal message to you which I sending to you via your own blog as I have absolutely no wish to publicly embarrass you (by commenting about you on a widely read blog). I have read your comments on a number of blogs over the years, and believe you deserve congratulations for having already made a significant contribution to the climate debate. You are obviously a very intelligent man who hopefully will continue to make a contribution. Keep my positive thoughts about you in mind as I offer the following criticism. Lately, your comments have been coming across as increasingly arrogant. This turns people off, and the result will be that they will start tuning you out. I was particularly shocked by your comment on “Climate Etc.” yesterday when you said:

    “Lets be clear.

    lukewarmer means.

    1. radiative physics is correct. co2 warms the planet
    2. a doubling of co2 causes 3.7 watts of additional forcing
    3. 3.7 watts of forcing causes a warming of no lesss than 1.2c
    4. the probability that the warming will be less than 3c is greater than

    last time i talked to anthony i think he thought sensitivity was less than

    My reaction (in spite of my general positive impression of you) was “What is it with this arrogant SOB? Did I miss the press release appointing him God? Not only does he think that he has the authority to define the word lukewarmer for everyone, but he pompously starts off with ‘Let’s be clear’ as if his definition isn’t even open for debate.”

    First of all, many intelligent, well informed people have somewhat different definitions of “lukewarmer”. Personally, I think that a general definition that most people who declare themselves lukewarmers would accept is that a lukewarmer is someone who accepts that man is (through the production of carbon dioxide) contributing to the warming of the earth, but does not accept that this contribution will produce catastrophic results. By this definition, you, Judy Curry, Steve McIntyre, Anthony Watts, and many others are all lukewarmers (as I am too). To put exact figures (such as 1.2 degrees) in your definition is not only (in my mind) exhibiting arrogance, it is exhibiting foolishness. The enormous question mark in the climate debate (as I’m sure you well know) is whether the feedbacks are positive (as the IPCC blindly accepts), or are negative (which I personally believe is true, but acknowledge cannot be proven at this time). You, of course, don’t have a verifiable answer to this enormous question either, but by making the statement you did, you gave the impression that you thought that not only did you have all the answers, but that they were perfectly “clear” to anyone who wasn’t an idiot. For your own sake, try to introduce at least a hint of humility into your future comments.



    • Steven Mosher
      September 23, 2012 at 10:08 PM


      If you were around for the past 5 years as those of us who defined the term “Lukewarmer” were I think you would understand.

      1. You are the one who blindly believes the feedbacks are negative
      2. all the evidence points to positive feedbacks ( net positive)

      Suggest you read more science and less of me

  2. Jeff Shifrin
    September 24, 2012 at 7:31 AM


    Your response saddens me. You didn’t need to reply. In fact, in the first line of my comment I suggested that you delete my comment after reading it, because the only reason I was writing you was to advise you (in a kind, friendly way) that your comments were becoming very arrogant, and as a result, people who would otherwise seriously consider your valid arguments were getting offended, and were ignoring you. A polite response might have been to say “Thank you for your concern.” If you were unable or unwilling to see how arrogant your comments have become lately, you could have said “Thanks, but no thanks. I’m perfectly happy with the way I comment, and if people are offended by what they consider my arrogance, that’s no concern of mine!” Instead, however, you chose to send someone who was only trying to help you (no matter how unnecessary you may think that help is) a reply that is even more arrogant than your comment on Climate Etc. was.

    I made no attempt to criticize your views on climate, and was not trying to convince you of anything (other than the fact that your arrogance was self-defeating). However, since you have made several outrageous statements, I think it’s appropriate for me to respond to them. Not only have I been around for the last 5 years closely following many climate blogs, I suspect that my interest in climate pre-dates your birth. The manner in which you and some others may or may not have defined Lukewarmers five years ago is totally irrelevant. Today, most people use the name in the manner I described. As I indicated, to insist that everyone else is wrong, and should defer to your “original definition” is both arrogant and foolish. When I was growing up, every dictionary (bar none) described the word “gay” as light-hearted, or happy, or something similar. Does that mean that today I should insist on referring to my jolly heterosexual friends as gay? The meanings of words change with the times. They always have, and they always will. Get used to it!

    As for feedbacks, I didn’t say you were wrong and I was right. I simply made the observation (which you have confirmed) that your view of the likely temperature increase was based on your opinion that the feedbacks would be positive. Again, there was no reason to respond (since my observation was correct), but since you obviously felt an uncontrollable urge to respond, you could have simply said “I think you’re mistaken about the feedbacks being negative.” However, in spite of the fact that I did not, in any way shape or form, say or imply that your opinion of positive feedbacks was a case of blind acceptance (unless you’ve changed your name from Mosher to Pachauri), and knowing absolutely nothing about me or what knowledge I may or may not have, you felt it necessary to claim that my view that the net feedbacks are negative was a case of blind acceptance. You then make the ludicrous (and once again arrogant) claim that ALL the evidence points to positive feedbacks. I would say that the fact that you and I, and about 7 billion other hominids are still around today after 1,700,000 years of extreme high and low temperatures, and extreme high and low levels of carbon dioxide would be at least one large piece of rather significant empirical evidence of negative feedbacks.

    As for your final suggestion, I’m not going to read less of you (since I still think you have much to contribute), but I will make you a deal. I’ll promise to continue to read more science if you’ll promise to look in the dictionary, and at least learn the meaning of the word “humility”.



    • Steven Mosher
      September 24, 2012 at 9:25 AM


      a number of us have spent the last few years coming up with a defensible position for Lukewarmers. If you followed the debate from Oct 3 2006 from when Bender first suggested the definition, through David Smith’s work later that year, through my work and Lucia’s work in 2008 through the present, I think you should understand.

      While people tried to credit me ( as opposed to Bender ) with coining the term, I’ve been consistent in giving credit to bender for his priority.
      Bender , in turn, has been kind enough to recognize my efforts.

      It is pretty simple. In 2006 Bender defined the term loosely as it came from a survey of CA.
      David smith picked the term up, but was somewhat vague. for a couple years the term was left to languish, used here and there by a few folks at CA ( David Smith, bender, jae, and myself )
      Later with Lucia’s help we decided on a definition as people were demanding one.
      Those are just facts. If my abrupt manner in speaking about facts bothers you, well then you are bothered.

  3. Jeff Shifrin
    September 24, 2012 at 9:54 AM


    First of all, thank you for your civil response. I don’t doubt (and never did doubt) your version of how the term Lukewarmer originated (although some folks might have thought that Bender had come up with it when he was doing his daily check of the temperature of your swimming pool). What I’m simply saying is that this is no longer the way most people on most blogs are using the term today.

    As for my being bothered by your “abrupt manner” (as you so nicely put it), that is not the problem. As I indicated, I will continue to read and seriously consider your comments, no matter how abrupt you may become. However, others who may be more sensitive to being talked down to, will start tuning you out which I think would be unfortunate for all concerned. Steve McIntyre is tremendously admired, not just because of his incredible mind (which would be sufficient reason), but because he never talks down to his audience (even though it’s likely that no one in his audience is as smart as he is), and because he is somehow able to remain civil, even in the face of outrageous accusations thrown his way.


    • Steven Mosher
      September 24, 2012 at 10:05 AM

      It very well may be the way people are mis using the term. We defined it the way we did for a reason. I fail to see how pointing that out is talking down to people. However, if they choose to feel that way, I’m not inclined or motivated to tell them how they should feel. I’m not particularly interested in having a blog audience or in managing other’s feelings and perceptions. Folks are going to think what they like and feel what they like. It’s frankly none of my business.

  4. Jeff Shifrin
    September 24, 2012 at 7:07 PM


  5. November 27, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    Steven Mosher’s blog is always so much fun to read. Full of knowledge, new & interesting topics plus beautiful language! Kudos to you!

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