Posted by: bmeverett | May 19, 2014

More on Carbon Reporting


On May 3, I posted an extensive comment I offered to a discussion paper prepared by the Carbon Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB). The comment prompted an email exchange with Dr. Jarlath Molloy, the Technical Manager of the CDSB. I’ve copied the exchange here for my readers. To me, Dr. Molloy’s commentary demonstrates the difficulty of having a constructive exchange of views on climate change, but you can make up your own mind.

May 6, 2014
To Bruce Everett
I note your recent comment on our proposals for reporting on Carbon Asset Stranding Risks. I have moderated the comment, given the nature of your post.
You specifically ask “What is the appropriate response for companies that reject these terms of reference?” You can simply say just that in a comment in the same section.
Regards,
Jarlath Molloy

May 6, 2014
Good morning, Jarlath-
Hope you are well. I’m not sure I understand your email. Are you saying that you would like to replace my extensive comment with the simple, one-line question “What is the appropriate response for companies that reject these terms of reference?”?
Regards,
Bruce Everett

May 7, 2014
Dear Bruce,
To clarify, we will review and consider your comment in the normal way once the consultation is complete. If you want to engage constructively and/or establish a discussion on the merits of the text, I suggest you keep your contribution concise and on-topic. Anything else will be moderated.
Regards,
Jarlath

May 7, 2014
Good morning, Jarlath-
Thanks for the clarification. I would certainly disagree that my comments were either off-topic or not constructive, but, under the circumstances, I withdraw my comment.
You have offered a 10,000-word discussion paper that makes comprehensive and highly debatable assertions. If you want to have a true discussion about these important issues, you need to allow your commenters the opportunity to make an equally comprehensive reply. You cannot have a debate in which one side gets 30 minutes to present and the other side gets 10 seconds to respond.
Best regards,
Bruce

May 7, 2014
Dear Bruce,
Perhaps you have misunderstood my previous email. If you believe that there are highly debatable assertions in the text, the consultation platform is specifically designed to allow users highlight, review and comment on these.
We welcome all comment and my earlier suggestion was that to get the most out of the process, you should avoid long comments dealing with multiple issues, as they are less likely to be considered by other users.
The consultation platform has worked very well for other organisations and we encourage you to look again and be a little more specific in your review.
Regards,
Jarlath.

May 7, 2014
Hi, Jarlath-
Climate change is a complex topic and doesn’t lend itself to a set of short, disjointed comments. For example, your discussion paper starts out with the assertions that there is a 2 degree C permissible temperature increase, that we know how much carbon would cause such an increase and that we therefore know what the allowable “carbon budget” is. Those statements determine how to evaluate CASRs and what fossil fuel companies should do in response. A comment such as “I disagree with this.” is not useful to the conversation.
The only useful response is to make a complete and interconnected argument, which is what I have attempted to do. I have offered a comment, which lays out the argument as I see it. I can’t see how my comment is either unconstructive or off-topic, but it’s up to you whether to accept it or not.
Regards,
Bruce

May 7, 2014
Hi Bruce,
To reconfirm, it is not the case that your comment was accepted/rejected. Like all comments, it will receive due consideration at the review stage. It did not fit the parameters of the consultation platform and what we are trying to achieve with it, so it is just no longer visible there. It will be made public in the same way as all others, at the end of the process.
Our experience with the recent GHGMI review of the ISO standards (using this consultation platform) was that users were quite able to review and comment on lengthy documents, adding supporting / dissenting opinions with appropriate justifications, as appropriate.
Regards,
Jarlath.

May 7, 2014
Hi, Jarlath-
Maybe we are just misunderstanding each other. Your initial email suggested that my comment was non-constructive and off-topic and would therefore be “moderated.” I have my own Blog, and I understand that “comment moderation” is a way of eliminating spam and inappropriate (hateful, profane, etc.) commentary. Nobody wants a serious discussion filled with “Buy cheap Canadian pharmaceuticals now!”. I interpreted your email as saying that I should either extensively rework my comment or it would be rejected. If that’s incorrect, what did you mean by “moderate”? Did you mean that you would edit my comment? Surely not.
I understand that many documents are worked in the way you prefer. It’s a useful technique to get from 90% agreement to 100% agreement, when all the basic terms of reference and key arguments are agreed among the participants. Although the Climate Community (and your discussion paper) claim that this is true for climate change, it is not. Hence the need for more extensive and comprehensive commentary.
I know you are very busy, and I don’t want to take up more of your time. I have offered you a comment, which I regard as relevant and constructive. Please use it as you wish.
Regards,
Bruce

May 7, 2014
Hi Bruce,
Yes perhaps moderate was a poor choice of phrase. It might be more accurate to say my intention is to actively manage the process to ensure we make the most of the opportunity to establish a dialogue on the specifics in the text. This is entirely separate to longer submissions which we also welcome on/offline.
Your claim of a lack of consensus is not supported by the evidence; see Cook et al. 2013 and Oreskes 2004 for two journal articles which spring to mind. The discussion paper highlights just a small number of the many growing calls for this issue to be addressed, by leaders in the global financial and investment area. You are entitled to disagree with the international expert consensus on these issues, but I didn’t notice any evidence cited to the contrary in your comment.
I now regard this query as closed.
Regards,
Jarlath.

May 8, 2014
Hi, Jarlath-
As noted, I have made my comment, and you are free to use it or not as you wish.
Not so fast, however, on your second paragraph. First of all, scientific issues are not resolved by expert consensus. Science concerns the testing of hypotheses against empirical evidence, not asking scientists to express their opinions. The catastrophic climate scenarios, the 2 degree “limit” and the “carbon budget” are based on computer models that do not match the empirical evidence and have never been able to predict anything. As Nobel Physicist Richard Feynman once said “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.”
The two sources you cite don’t help your point. Naomi Oreskes’ essay is first of all 10 years old. Second, she reviewed papers to measure their conformity with “the scientific consensus” without being clear about what that meant. Was the consensus that some warming is anthropogenic? Most warming? All warming? Was the consensus that future warming will be catastrophic? Might be catastrophic?
Cook’s study did not meet even the minimal conditions for sound analysis. His team reviewed the abstracts of about 2,000 journal articles on climate. Without actually asking the authors, he deduced from the abstracts whether the authors agreed with the assertion that observed warming was primarily caused by human activity. He included in his 97% consensus (1) the articles which explicitly stated that humans are the primary cause of warming, (2) the articles that stated that human activity caused some warming without saying how much and (3) the articles that implied that human activity caused some warming without saying how much. It turns out that most of the articles in the 97% were in category (3). This of course does not even address the issue of whether future warming will be catastrophic, a conclusion that requires additional major and questionable assumptions.
I think your comment made the point that these issues cannot be addressed by short, pithy sentences.
Regards,
Bruce

May 8, 2014
Hi Bruce,
A quote from Upton Sinclair has been in my mind in recent days when reading your emails: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” I don’t expect that your views will change in response to anything I might say, even if I highlight the relevancy of the precautionary principle. However, I find the means by which you articulate those views as somewhat puerile. For one thing, generalising the entire “Climate Community” – and by this I take it you include all those working on climate science, impacts, adaptation, mitigation, as well as those focused on various related policy issues – is quite vacuous. Indeed, comparing the climate community to an ill-informed and misguided anti-vaccination campaign is illogical.
As entertaining as all this is, unfortunately it is not my day-job to critique your straw man arguments.
Regards,
Jarlath.

May 8, 2014
Hi, Jarlath-
I’m disappointed that you would turn an exchange of views into a personal attack. You do not know me and have no basis to question my motivations or my integrity.
In response to your points, I use the term “Climate Community” to denote people who believe that catastrophic climate change is likely without a major restructuring of the global economy. This term is not pejorative in any sense, and I use it only because most of the people I know who hold that view use that term to describe themselves. I avoid at all cost emotionally charged terms like “climate alarmists” or “climate extremists”, since I respect the people who disagree with me.
Second, I never compared the Climate Community to the anti-vaccine crowd. I was using an analogy to raise the question of how corporations should properly respond when asked to report on a risk that they do not regard as serious. It seems to me that this issue is critical to the discussion you are promoting.
Regards,
Bruce

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Dr. Everett,
    Is the comment you posed your previous post? If not, can you post it in its entirety? His quote from Upton Sinclair is probably more fitting from his line of reasoning but I digress.

    • Anthony-

      Yes, the May 3 post was the comment I submitted.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: