Manufacturing(?) consensus

by Judith Curry

The consensus on anthropogenic climate change provided by the IPCC is the source of much controversy.  Central to the controversy is the meaning and implications of “consensus,” in both scientific and sociological contexts.

Some important insights on this issue are provided by this paper on The authority of the IPCC and the manufacture of consensus by Jean Goodwin at Iowa State University.  Some excerpts are provided below:

Through a series of (up to now) four reports starting in 1990, the IPCC has managed to establish as a political “given” that the earth is warming, and that human activity is a significant cause. The fourth report was the occasion for the Bush II administration’s shift from statements like this:

We do not know how much effect natural fluctuations in climate may have had on warming. We do not know how much our climate could, or will change in the future. We do not know how fast change will occur, or even how some of our actions could impact it.

in 2001, with it’s typical assertions of “uncertainty” as a reason for inaction, to statements like

[The IPCC report] reflects the sizeable and robust body of knowledge regarding the physical science of climate change, including the finding that the Earth is warming and that human activities have very likely caused most of the warming of the last 50 years.

in 2007. How did the IPCC manage this feat? In opposition to those who would create an appearance of doubt, the IPCC has made evident a broad and deep agreement among scientists—they have “manufactured consensus.”

As far as I can tell, the word “consensus” is absent in the WGI section of the FAR–in particular, it is absent from the initial “Policymakers’ Summary” Where it first turns up is in the earliest representation of the FAR: a statement defining for public audiences what the FAR is and how it should be taken. John Houghton, the UK’s Chief Meteorologist and chair of WGI, wrote the following in his “Foreword” to the report:

“In preparation of the main Assessment most of the active scientists working in the field have been involved. One hundred and seventy scientists from 25 countries have contributed to it, either through participation in the twelve international workshops organised specially for the purpose or through written contributions. A further 200 scientists have been involved in the peer review of the draft report. Although, as in any developing scientific topic, there is a minority of opinions which we have not been able to accommodate, the peer review has helped to ensure a high degree of consensus among authors and reviewers regarding the results presented.”

JC comment:  It appears from this argument that John Houghton was responsible for the initial decision to use consensus as key element of the IPCC’s rhetoric, in the context of selling the FAR to the public.

What is being done by this complex of features?—this rhetorical form, which I will call a “consensus claim”? One place to begin is by realizing its oddity. After all, we teach our students to recognize and reject ad populum or “bandwagon” appeals. I suspect that it would be hard to find scientists claiming to each other that such & such ought to be believed, because a “consensus of scientists” thus quantified backed it. In fact, the WGI report itself did not frame its statements “socially,” with information about how many scientists of what type and nationality were speaking. Instead, it framed its statements “epistemically,” presenting in the Summary for Policymakers what “we are certain of…calculate with confidence…predict” as well as what “uncertainties” remain, and detailing in a series of chapters some of the evidence backing these claims. If scientists tend to offer each other epistemic as opposed to social grounds, it is no surprise that there seem to be no mechanisms within science for establishing that a scientific consensus exists.

JC comment:  The wikipedia article on scientific consensus is worth reading. It states “Scientific consensus is not by itself a scientific argument, and it is not part of the scientific method.”  It is “intended to communicate a summary of the science from the “inside” to the “outside” of the scientific community.

The consensus claim thus seems to be primarily aimed at non-scientists, and in particular (I assert, somewhat speculatively) constitutes an appeal to authority. In this representation of the FAR, audiences are being invited to credit the assessment not because of its epistemic grounding, but because of the social fact of who wrote it. . . Whereas non-experts almost by definition are unable to assess an expert’s reasoning, they may be well capable of judging social facts, such as whether some procedures were inclusive. To adapt a phrase of Collins & Pinch, where we might find it impossible to assess scientists on scientific grounds, we can instead assess them on the same everyday, pragmatic grounds we trust plumbers.

JC comment:  Climategate was about the social aspects of the consensus.  Whereas scientists rightly claimed that climategate changed nothing epistemically with regards to climate science, the public saw substantial problems with the procedures upon which the consensus was built.

The consensus claim, furthermore, appears to be an elaboration of the appeal to authority specifically designed to heighten its force. “Credit what I say, because I say so” is the minimalist version of the appeal to authority. I have argued elsewhere that the force of this appeal is based in a kind of “blackmail”: it puts the audience in a position such that they will appear imprudent if they conspicuously go against the view of someone who obviously knows more. The minimalist appeal, however, is relatively easy for audiences to evade. For example, the audience can shop around for a second opinion, and then excuse their non-compliance with the appeal on the grounds that the experts themselves seem to be divided. If, however, all the experts say the same thing, the layperson’s “plausible excusability” is restricted.

JC comment:  this strategy is clearly reflected in the arguments of Oreskes and Anderegg et al.

To make a consensus claim is thus to do as the Foreword says: to make an “authoritative statement.” It’s worth noting that there is some evidence that some participants in the IPCC process aimed it to achieve just such authority. Bert Bolin, the overall chairman of the IPCC itself, recalls that he “repeatedly pointed out to the working groups that the goal was not necessarily always to reach an agreement, but rather to point out different views when necessary and to clarify the reasons for disagreements when possible.” He goes on: “But this was still seldom tried”. In line with this, Houghton himself was quoted as saying (upon the establishment of the IPCC in 1988), “we must arrive at a general consensus”.

JC comment:  is this aiming that makes this a manufactured consensus.  It is illuminating to see that the idea of a consensus was pushed for by Hougton, with some resistance by Bolin.

Scientists involved in the first IPCC assessment process represented the final report as the result of a “consensus of scientists”; as far as I can tell, however, this was not the official position of the IPCC itself. This situation changed, however, in the course of the later IPCC process. Whatever its beginnings the consensus claim seems to have become one of the ways the IPCC represented itself to its audiences. For example, a flyer for the Third Assessment Report represented it as “an authoritative, international consensus of scientific opinion”.

The emphasis on consensus also became codified in the IPCC’s internal procedures, as they became increasingly settled after the first (and quite rushed) assessment process. As early as 1991, a rule was adopted stating that “in taking decisions, drawing conclusions, and adopting reports, the IPCC Plenary and Working Groups shall use all best endeavours to reach consensus”.

Meanwhile, however, the IPCC endured close to twenty years where its authority was undermined by objections which were legitimate under its own announced standards. By committing the IPCC to quantitative inclusiveness, those representing its work as a “consensus” created grounds for controversy.

JC comment:  I agree that the claim of consensus is ultimate source of controversy surrounding the IPCC.  As I’ve argued in my previous post no consensus on consensus, a consensus on this topic is neither necessary or desirable.

The IPCC and its defenders therefore were obliged to undertake a second task: the “boundary work” necessary to distinguish those qualified to contribute to a scientific consensus on global climate change, from those who were not. This work is evident in some of the press reporting above, where the “minority” was characterized not only as quantitatively small, but as “extreme” and “scientifically suspect.” Unfortunately, the need for boundary work also likely created temptations to make illegitimate attacks on the scientific credibility of opponents whose views did not fit with the consensus. Even when successful and legitimate, boundary-drawing created additional problems. If indeed every scientist within the consensus agreed that policy action was urgent, and every scientist outside thought otherwise, a strong appearance of politicization was created—i.e., that the boundary between “insiders” and “outsiders” was based on political views, not scientific relevance.

JC comment:  This is an astute insight, on how the scientists have become politicized on this issue.

Finally, the consensus claim created opportunities for opponents to object that the IPCC’s emphasis on consensus was distorting the science itself. Once the consensus claim was made, scientists involved in the ongoing IPCC process had reasons not just to consider the scientific evidence, but to consider the possible effect of their statements on their ability to defend the consensus claim.

JC comments: I have argued previously that the IPCC is torquing (and even corrupting) climate science, and this article clarifies that the source of this corruption is the consensus building process.

“Consensus” is a strong claim, and it opens a wide argument space; that is what I have been trying to suggest in the above sketch. By representing their work as a “consensus,” the scientists of the IPCC essentially legitimated the objections of those commonly labeled as “denialists,” and committed themselves to a twenty year process of replying to them.

Let me close this section with a call that “more research is needed!” into the report as a rhetorical strategy—a subject that, as far as I can tell, has been almost entirely unexplored. It could be that we would find that the “report strategy” does not aim to construct an appeal to expert authority enforcing its conclusions, but attempts to seriously engage a lay audience with the modes of expert reasoning used to reach those conclusions. In the terms I suggested above, a “report strategy” would be taking an “epistemic,” as opposed to “social,” approach to communicating science. . . And it seems likely that pursuing a “report strategy” would require from its authors commitments different from, and much less than, the strategy of making a consensus claim.

JC comment:  Goodwin hits the nail on the head in terms of the need to seriously engage the lay audience with the modes of expert reasoning used to reach those conclusions.   In the absence of transparency on the IPCC’s reasoning and uncertainty assessments, I suspect that there is a substantial amount of fallacious reasoning (particularly circular reasoning) that underlies many of the IPCC’s conclusions and likelihood statements.

JC conclusion:  Lets return for a moment to the previous post on agnoiology and this statement by Lehrer:

We shall argue that consensus among a reference group of experts thus concerned is relevant only if agreement is not sought.  If a consensus arises unsought in the search for truth and the avoidance of error, such consensus provides grounds which, though they may be overridden, suffice for concluding that conformity is reasonable and dissent is not.  If, however, consensus is aimed at by the members of the reference group and arrived at by intent, it becomes conspiratorial and irrelevant to our intellectual concern.

Goodwin makes a strong argument that the IPCC is a manufactured consensus that has been reached by intent.  As such, Lehrer argued in 1975 that such a consensus is conspiratorial and irrelevant to our intellectual concern.

The IPCC needs to lose the emphasis on consensus and pay far more attention to  understanding uncertainty and  to actual reasoning.  I’ll close with this statement by Oppenheimer et al. (2007)

The establishment of consensus by the IPCC is no longer as important to governments as a full exploration of uncertainty.

635 responses to “Manufacturing(?) consensus

  1. Honesty is STILL the best policy!

    • Yes.

      But “manufactured consensus” science and news was the policy adopted in 1972 to save the world and all living forms – including the most important ones (politicians) – from certain annihilation in a full scale nuclear exchange.

      Since 1972 world leaders have been “shadow boxing” to the applause of fools like me who foolishly believed the:

      1972 Glorious news of an end to the USA/China conflict

      http://www.chizeng.com/nixon/

      1974 Time Magazine story, “Another Ice Age,” coming:

      http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,944914,00.html

      1983 News report, “The demise of established dogmas on the formation of the Solar System” [Nature 303 (1983) 286-286]:

      http://tallbloke.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/swart-1983.pdf

      1987 News of President Ronald Reagan’s brave demand:

      ”Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall !”

      1989 TV and newspapers report opening of the Berlin Wall.

      1990 TV and newspapers report Reagan’s hammer swings at the Berlin Wall, the “End of an Evil Empire,” and victorious praise from other world leaders (NY Times, 16 Sept 1990):

      http://www.nytimes.com/1990/09/16/weekinreview/headliners-reagan-hailed-for-taking-the-evil-out-of-the-empire.html

      The rest of this sad tale is recorded in

      a.) The Climategate Timeline:

      http://jonova.s3.amazonaws.com/climategate/history/climategate_timeline_banner.pdf

      b.) The 1972-2011 Corruption of Space Science:

      http://arxiv.org/pdf/1102.1499v1

      c.) The 1945-2011 Corruption and Economic Collapse

      http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10640850/Economic%20Collapse.pdf

      If the last link won’t open, e-mail omatumr@yahoo.com for a pdf file of the 2.5 page document.

      With kind regards,
      Oliver K. Manuel
      Former NASA Principal
      Investigator for Apollo
      Former Supporter of
      Greenpeace & Obama

      • Unfortunately, most leaders of the news media and of key scientific organizations (BBC, PBS, New York Times, etc) will also have to be replaced before we begin the difficult task of replacing current world leaders with ones that grasp the basic principles of democracy:

        “. . . whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

        http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/

      • Brilliant!

      • A good friend and fellow critic has privately taken me to task for suggesting:

        “When all of the present world leaders are gone, we must still unite nations, end the threat of mutual nuclear annihilation, and establish a truly DEMOCRATIC world government – controlled by the people.”

        I did not mean to suggest that the UN should be in control of world government despite its documented record of deceit.

        The problem: Continued nationalism and a full scale exchange of nuclear weapons will probably destroy all life on Earth.

        The solution: Eliminate national boundaries? Keep national boundaries and eliminate nationalism? Establish a one-world democratic government? Other?

        I don’t have the answers, but I suspect that Truman, Kissinger, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, Obama, etc. seriously believed that they were saving the world, . . . totally unaware that they were about to establish a totalitarian world government like that described in George Orwell’s book, “1984”.

        http://www.online-literature.com/orwell/1984/

    • Jim2,

      You got it right. It’s also the easiest. You just say it like it is.

      But most of the time, it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than to tell it like it is.

  2. This is a compelling and powerful paper. IMO, the manufacture of the so-called IPCC consensus was a pre-emptive strike against skeptics (scientific and political). It was created in anticipation of any doubts, and originates from the same school of thouht that created the term ‘deniar’. It is designed to marginalize any objections. As Judith highlights, it is also a significant weakness as it boxes people into corners and perpetuates the climate wars.

    • Mike Jackson

      And the fact that it was “created in anticipation of any doubts” points up the weakness in its case as anyone with even an elementary grasp of psychology would tell you.
      If your argument is strong enough you don’t need to manufacture a consensus. What the IPCC were saying from the beginning was “this is where we want to go; we know there a lot of people who disagree; let’s spin a story about a ‘consensus'”.
      The aim, as you say, is to marginalise disagreement. It is in fact the very reason why so many sceptics are as sceptical as they are. The IPCC’s position has become assertive rather than evidence-based with the inevitable consequence that rigour has been sacrificed and sloppy reporting has followed. Witness several instances in AR4 (whether minor or not is unimportant) and recent papers which have been easy to pick holes in whether their conclusions are correct or otherwise.

  3. Indeed, the statement by Oppenheimer et al. (2007), would be more correct if it had said “The IPCC is no longer important, indeed it has become irrelevant –if not harmful– to scientific investigation of global climate change. Governments should always support the broadest exploration of uncertainty across the full spectrum of scientific inquiry. The IPCC was, and remains, a spectacular and costly political mistake. Science must always be challanged, not managed via consensus or dictate by any entity.”

  4. There’s certainly enough legitimate concern about AGW that governments have to have some policy on it. They can’t just ignore it.

    So how can they acquire knowledge to make a decision? They have to ask a whole lot of scientists. There’s no other way.

    They will never get unanimity. But they have to form a policy. So how?

    There’s no other way than to get what seems like a substantial majority of scientists to write out an agreed view of the facts. What else could they do?

    That sounds a lot like the IPCC, and a consensus. It seems to me that the railing against a consensus is just a way of trying to make it impossible for decisions to be made.

    • “There’s certainly enough legitimate concern about AGW that governments have to have some policy on it.”

      Not necessarily. Governments don’t have to have policies based on “concerns”. If that were true, government might have to have policies on virtually everything.

      Oh, wait…

      Andrew

    • The sensible thing for governments to do is to do a risk management exercise. The methodology is well understood. Risk mitigation includes assessment of multiple options.

      Really, I think it would be cheaper to paint all the roads and roofs white. That would change the albedo of the cities, change the radiative thermal equilibrium temperature, and result in measurable cooling. Those Greeks really were way ahead of their time.

    • Governments rely on numerous forms of input. Always have and always will. Who they believe is a crapshoot. Depending on the intelligence of the Head Mucky-Muck-In-Chief, it could be brilliant or appaling. Usually it’s hoohum, middle of the road, no great shakes, no major problems, a Big Nada. Science will never replace political stupidity or brilliance. To think the IPCC, or anything like it, is the greatest thing since sliced bread and the answer to all mankind’s problems –be it climate change (hot OR cold), nuclear weapons proliferation, space junk, or types of plastic floating in the ocean– is to believe in Tooth Fairies and Easter Bunnies. Sorry, life will never be so easy that all we have to do is ask all the experts in the field for a consensus of opinion. Governments and People don’t work that way. They’ll never buy it. (And neither should you.)

      The “problem” with AGW is people, and it will be so in any such undertaking for consensus.

    • Governments should only do what the voters demand that they do and are willing to pay for. The bureaucrats of the government should not have wills of their own. Enough of the damned dictates, I’m sick of them.

    • If in fact a majority of scientists involved in the field of climate change do share a common belief regarding it, I see no reason that this should not be communicated to the outside world.

      There are several problems, however. The first is that this invites a response from those who do not agree, and the exercise quickly devolves into comparison of numbers and qualifications. We have seen that this becomes an area for further disagreement, rather than lessening of it.

      More importantly, to secure legitimate agreement, statements need to be made more anodyne–more to fit the lowest common denominator that will secure signatures from the largest number. You could probably secure assent from James Inhofe and Viscount Monckton that the globe has warmed, but their signatures to that statement would not resolve any political battles. But the statements once signed tend to get ‘reinvigorated’ by proponents and what is communicated may differ from what has been signed.

      Finally, because there is a political struggle occurring in rough parallel to the scientific debate, there have been repeated attempts to classify those taking a discrete position on one side as ‘deniers’ or tobacco-style lobbyists, which makes it easy for skeptics to claim that their side is in fact under-represented, which I doubt is what Naomi Oreskis or Anderegg et al had in mind when they dashed off their papers. No pressure, though.

      I have no doubt that there is a consensus on elements of the subject of climate change. But if it were broken into a list of numbered statements, perhaps the first few (I don’t know how many) would get sign-off by an overwhelming majority of scientists, including many labeled skeptics. But that consensus would dwindle rapidly, far more quickly than consensus preachers would have us believe.

      I think it would be a useful exercise, at any rate.

      • Before doing such a survey of “climate scientists”, we would first need to cull the incompetent and those with an established track record of dishonesty, gross bias, and improper conflicts of interest. I say this only half in jest.

        Perhaps it would be better to limit the science to only:

        a) that data that has been taken from properly sited, properly calibrated instruments.
        b) studies and databases for which all data, code and methodology are totally transparent and which have actually been replicated (or at least audited)
        c) those models which have been verified and validated.

        The public is entitled to know that the “science” has at least met some minimum level of quality control.

      • Tom,
        Your points are on point, but I’d simplify your argument by pointing out a very often times overlooked quality of AGW….The hypothesis was crafted in such a way as to be virtually untestable…thus leading to the cesspool that the quasi-science/political debate has morphed into.

    • Nick I find your post very reasonable. But there IS a way to get a more reliable assessment of the facts on which to base policy. Below I reproduce a letter my father wrote in response to an email from Julia Gillard. I would love to reproduce the whole thing but in the interests of being succinct and on topic, I have just copied the most pertinent:

      Before using the state of knowledge as it is currently known in order to make far reaching policy decisions, you need to carry out Due Diligence studies in order to verify that what you are being told is correct. The level of detail required to execute proper Due Diligence for something as complex as the dynamics of climate change is truly enormous. Peer review is not due diligence. Neither are the IPCC reports. Certainly not the Garnaut reports.

      Peer review of published papers is in general a coarse filter to ensure that if the evidence which the paper examines is valid and if the writers have done their sums correctly and if the results appear to make sense and add to the body of human knowledge then it’s OK to publish. Peer reviewers are unpaid experts in the same field as the writers of the paper. They seldom see all the basic data, the computer codes, the corrections, deletions and adjustments, the instrument calibration details, full details of all assumptions, etc, and their judgements are often coloured by their personal prejudices. Also they don’t get to see the experimental equipment and test environments or the actual samples that form the basis for the paper being reviewed. Usually none of this matters because scientific progress is self correcting. If a rocket scientist gets it wrong the rocket may crash or wander off course or fail in some other way. Oh dear, what a shame. Well, we’ll get it right next time round.

      Predicting climate change is not rocket science. It’s much, much more difficult. And the consequences of getting it wrong may be much, much more costly. So what do you do, given that there may be something happening that could cause humanity immense harm unless we change something? You conduct proper Due Diligence studies – engineering quality, not academician quality.

      You need to get the protagonists – those who claim we have a severe, looming problem – to assemble their best arguments and evidence to support their case. They should only offer papers which have been published with full public disclosure of all the data and computer codes so that the claims made within the paper can be reproduced by others. Then you appoint a Due Diligence Team (DDT) and give it a proper briefing (a Scope of Work). In the commercial world DDTs are usually independent disinterested contractors. They will need to see all of the things that peer reviewers usually don’t see as described above. In fact for proposals which will cost the community billions, the DDT will want to see a lot more. For example, many academic papers cite other previously published papers. These citations may have to be examined too. They will want to see the ‘bad’ data as well as the ‘good’. Also, published papers and other evidence may be invited for positions purporting to be contrary to the protagonists case. There is plenty of evidence which appears to throw doubt on many aspects of the IPCC case for climate change (the politically acceptable expression for AGW) and this will need to be subjected to DDT examination too.

      Unlike the authors of the IPCC reports who are nearly all climate scientists, the DDT should comprise physicists, economists, engineers, mathematicians (especially statisticians), geologists, biologists and climate scientists. But no more than 25% of the team should be climate scientists. It’s doubtful if the DDT will ever be able to achieve certainty on any matter but they should be able to come much closer to the truth than has the IPCC.

      It seems to me to be reasonable that if public policy that is potentially so “far reaching” and expensive is to be first implemented, an engineering level assessment is required.

      • Very sensible stuff Agnostic. Please if you are able can you put the rest of the letter somewhere on the net. I would have thought it would be subject to the usual government non-disclosure agreement.

      • Let me guess … Gillard did NOT reply in substance :)

      • Obviously Gillard has learnt the lesson from the former PM.

      • Latimer Alder

        @agnostic

        Just a stylistic point. A busy exec (like a PM) is not going to read much beyond the first page of double spaced A4 unless he/she is grabbed by the content early on. Early on means in the first para, Preferably the first sentence.

        Your first para is this

        ‘Before using the state of knowledge as it is currently known in order to make far reaching policy decisions, you need to carry out Due Diligence studies in order to verify that what you are being told is correct. The level of detail required to execute proper Due Diligence for something as complex as the dynamics of climate change is truly enormous. Peer review is not due diligence. Neither are the IPCC reports. Certainly not the Garnaut reports’

        I am asleep already! It may be packed full of good stuff, thoroughly well-researched, written with great wisdom and knowledge…but it is an academic-style treatise. It will not get read by its intended audience. They will probably have a zillion things to think about and a very limited attention span. Tough but true,

        When we were selling big expensive things to corporate customers, we worked with an idea called ‘The Elevator Pitch’. The basic idea is that you get stuck in an elevator with the Chief Exec of the customer and have 30 seconds maximum to make your most convincing case.

        Suggest that you try the same for your letter. Boil it down to the top three points you want to make and put them upfront in the first para. Execs like doing things a lot more than just talking about them. So you need to tell her right up front what you want her to do…and why. Give her an incentive to read on..or to get her staff to do more work by reading it for her. If you can find short snappy phrases that stick in the memory ..even better.

        Then cut out all passive verbs for active and all weak qualifiers and you might have a chance of getting to first base.

        Here’s a template

        ‘Dear Mrs Gillard

        There are serious problems with the work on Climate Change

        1. Proper due diligence has not been done.
        2. Short sentence number 2
        3. Short sentence number 3

        I believe that you must take the following actions:

        1. Action 1. Do ABC
        2. Action 2. Do DEF
        3. Action 3. Do xyz

        The rest of this letter (as an appendix) goes into more detail on each of these points

        (Note..you then arrange the rest of the letter under the same heading as your actions/problems for easy reference)

        Thank you for your attention

        A Gnostic’

        It may not work, but at least you are removing the constraint whereby the presentation almost guarantees immediate filing in the bin.

      • Good advice, Latimer. I took a year out of government to work with a small economic consultancy, much of the work being papers for the Queensland government on National Competition Policy reviews. My boss said the Executive Summary had to be written “for Queensland grandmothers, who don’t read newspapers.” This was the one-pager aimed at department heads and ministers. We knew that they wouldn’t read more – I wrote a high proportion of Cabinet briefs for the Premier or Treasurer, as well as briefs for heads of department, and even on the most complex issues there was a one-page limit.

        In the consultancy, the one-pager tended to be followed by a brief paper aimed at non-economist policy officers, then an appendix of a quality to pass professional scrutiny (I suspect, read by very few).

        The problem, of course, is that few of the politicians who make decisions on CAGW will have any serious grasp of the science or the issues, and I know from sad experience that few of their advisers will be driven by truth, integrity and the public interest. Ultimately, what will change policy will be switches in voter opinions, the Australian government’s anti-emissions policies seem to be a costly suicide note as the public have turned off.

      • Hi latimer,

        That’s great advice, but I was merely reposting an email my father sent in response to an email from Gillard. I don’t think he seriously thought it was going to heeded, as he has written a lot of environmental specs and reports to government in his role as a project engineer over the years, and is currently doing volunteer work to steer reforms to the mental health service in WA, which entails a lot of reporting to politicians I gather.

        @blouis79

        The whole letter including the one from Julia Gillard is here:
        http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/07/13/give-this-lady-an-order-of-australia-medal/#comment-699787

    • There’s no other way than to get what seems like a substantial majority of scientists to write out an agreed view of the facts. What else could they do?

      This is a good question.
      Historically it interesting to note that the decison to write a report preceded the notion that there was a majority of scientists who agreed about certain facts. Leaving that aside, The assumption here is that there is no other way than to get this majority to write a report. Well, certainly something must be written, but the question is rather how should this thing be written and who should write it. I think every issue I’ve had with the IPCC reports basically come down to process issues. Who writes it, what policies are used, who reviews it, how are minority positions on key issues handled. Without exception I think the policies and proceedures have not guarded against the problem of manufacturing consensus and papering over key uncertainties. The process has not been Open enough, transparent enough, and has not highlighted key uncertainties. There are certain places where one definately wants to see a pro/con type approach. And obviously there are places where there are no credible “con” voices ( unless you think sky dragons are credible)

    • Robert of Ottawa

      No governments don’t have to have a policy on climate change.

    • Nick,

      While I disagree on many levels about the need for an IPCC-like entity, the most basic level is probably the most important. There is an unspoken premise adopted by some that the role of government is to deal with issues of “concern” or more generally “prevent bad things from happening”. This leads to the “Thar oughtta be a law” knee-jerk reflex whenever something “bad” appears on the horizon. The reason the premise remains unspoken is once you articulate it and follow it to logical conclusions one realizes that it’s fools errand on a slippery slope. Where does one draw the line between a government’s duty to prevent bad things from happening to me and my responsibility to prevent bad things from happening to me?

      It may come as a surprise to some but there are many citizens who do not agree that this is a legitimate role of government in the first place. I do not want or expect my government to attempt to “fix” things that may be going wrong or prevent problems. I do not even want government to protect me from harm. I just want the government to protect my rights. Protecting my rights may also protect me from some forms of harm (ie getting murdered) but in my view should not extend to all, or even most, forms of perceived harm (ie losing my job, taking the wrong medications or global warming).

    • As time has elapsed and the science of climate change has expanded, the imperative for action has become less, not more. This divergence from earlier IPCC pronouncements reflects the growing public awareness of the science’s uncertainties and that there is a legitimate basis for a slower and measured response. The upcoming fifth Assessment Report would require a separate minority report. Policy can then reflect diverse views “the sausage of deal making.”

    • Nick — not feeling well. This is thin gruel in comparison to the brilliant word-smithing we usually see when doing your hockey schtick defense

    • “There’s certainly enough legitimate concern about AGW that governments have to have some policy on it. They can’t just ignore it.

      So how can they acquire knowledge to make a decision? They have to ask a whole lot of scientists. There’s no other way.”

      “Ask[ing] a whole lot of scientists about it” is of course just the start of the issue.A wee bit more than that has to be taken into consideration when devising tax and regulatory policy affecting billions of people than what James Hansen and Gavin Schmidt have to say on climate science.

      Not to mention, when policy makers ask that whole lot of scientists, wouldn’t it be prudent to at least have dissenting views represented? Like taking out a few dire predictions like disappearing glaciers and adding a couple of the dissents that were screened out in the AR process?

      The IPCC is a political organization, using political means, to achieve a political goal. Suggesting it is just “a whole lot of scientists” trying to objectively disseminate information is meant as a joke, right?

    • Theo Goodwin

      Nick Stokes | July 16, 2011 at 9:46 am | Reply
      “There’s certainly enough legitimate concern about AGW that governments have to have some policy on it. They can’t just ignore it.”

      This is a classic Circular Argument. Classic. Classic. Classic. Your premiss, your first statement, is your conclusion.

    • ferd berple

      Risk analysis and decision trees lead to correct decisions without the need for consensus. All that is required is an understanding off all the alternatives and the associated costs, benefits and probabilities.

      What the IPCC has tried to do is to shortcut the process, buy making the decision for governments as to which course of action they should take – reduce CO2 – and providing no alternatives. In that fashion the IPCC has tried to exceed its authority and override national governments and their decision making role.

      The IPCC would have played a much more useful role simply to present all the science and the risks and uncertainties and allowed national governments to do their own cost benefit analysis as required to build national and international consensus.

    • And there it is, naked. The real focus of the IPCC and Climate Science is prep of bureaucratic justifications for government policy. Which somehow always turns out to be “more government is needed.”

    • jorgekafkazar

      But a substantial majority of WHAT scientists? Certainly not an incestuous clique of non-independent, financially-interested, politically-motivated, coreligious climatasters. If the use of bad logic is necessary to facilitate a decision, it follows that the decision will be bad ab origine.

    • A beautifully written expression of my own thoughts on the matter. I’m waaay too aware of this tactic of pretending that democracy entails voting expertise which MUST be respected.

      If you’re so set, Judith, on testing everything to the limits, would those limits just happen to be financial limits?

      Congressional hacks, but expert crowd sociologists, they love your work. It quotes so well against the impossible (by your extreme criteria) consensus. So we’ll diddle and dawdle and be shocked, shocked! at the rise of the tides, the food riots, the border wars, the emigrant massacres.

      People are hard to teach, and your continuous blurts make an impossible teaching situation.

      You’re a purist in a fuzzy world.

    • “So how can they acquire knowledge to make a decision? They have to ask a whole lot of scientists. There’s no other way.”

      People acquire knowledge to make decisions every day without asking “a whole lot of scientists”. Judith has already posted extensively on the topic, so I won’t repeat the shopping list of possibilities. In fact, the process used by the IPCC in conducting it’s unusual charge is highly unusual outside of the political realm. I’ve never been to a technical or scientific conference where consensus was even a point of discussion.

      I think it’s legitimate to ask whether forced consensus adds value to the understanding of any particular area (science or otherwise). There is evidence validating that carefully choosing experts and having some very strict rules on how consensus is achieved can be beneficial. There have been no studies validating the IPCC approach as adding value / improving outcomes.

      If you invite a bunch of cowboys to come in and save the day, the only thing you can count on is a lot of horse manure to be cleaned up.

  5. Asking a whole lot of scientists and getting a lot of scientists to write out their agreed view are two very different things. Government is supposed to collect and consider the existing range of opinions, not organize those who have just one of those opinions. It is called assessment, something the IPCC does not do. The IPCC does advocacy.

    • At this point it would be easy for an outfit like RAND or MITRE to take the IPCC report and the NIPCC report and combine them into an actual assessment. But the government will not do this because CAGW is official policy and has been since 1992.

    • Policies are based on some sort of consensus among some substantial group of people. There isn’t any other way, except autocracy. In responding to AGW, the consensus involves an assessment of scientific facts. Would you rather that was done by scientists? Or bureaucrats? Or politicians?

      • Latimer Alder

        Point of order. If they were indeed ‘scientific facts’, there wouldn’t be a need for ‘assessment’. It is because they are not ‘facts’, but only theories, hypotheses interpretations and speculations rather than experimentally verifiable facts that the whole argument arises.

        I note that there is no body called ‘The Intergovernmental Panel On Gravity or Thermodynamics or Mathematics. Only climate change is so speculative and lacking in hard evidence of anything at all to require a consensus to ‘guide government policy’.

      • It is because they are not ‘facts’, but only theories, hypotheses interpretations and speculations rather than experimentally verifiable facts that the whole argument arises.”

        Well, not really.

        Harries (2001)
        Philipona (2004)
        Evans (2006), which even concludes…

        “This experimental data should effectively end the argument by skeptics that no experimental evidence exists for the connection between greenhouse gas increases in the atmosphere and global warming.”

        Glad to help.

      • Doesn’t mean their models are right. And thanks for agreeing that there is no evidence to support the weak conjecture you are so in love with.

      • All models are wrong. All of them. Not one model is 100% right. A scientific theory is a model.

      • Theo Goodwin

        The claim that a scientific theory is a model is ridiculous. You can create a model for a scientific theory and use it for analytic purposes, but it cannot do the work of the theory.

        Let me make this clear. A scientific theory specifies an infinity of observations. It does so by implying them. The specified observations constitute the empirical evidence for a theory.

        A model specifies no evidence whatsoever. A model is computer code and it implies nothing but itself. You can run a model and get from it a simulation. A simulation is a set of numbers which can be interpreted as representing observable facts in the environment. Once interpreted, a simulation can be compared to actually observed phenomena in the environment and the simulation can be appraised as agreeing well or poorly with what was actually observed. However, the model does not imply the simulation. In fact, a model will produce an indefinitely large number of conflicting simulations as indefinitely large numbers of distinct sets of “initial conditions” are substituted for variables in the code. Work with these simulations however you want, but their logical relationship to the model, none, and their logical relationship to observed facts, a matter of interpretation, and their observed relationships to one another, indefinitely large number of conflicts, should convince anyone that there is nothing in models that resembles the logical relationship that holds between physical hypotheses and the observable facts that they imply. It is only this logical relationship that observable fact to serve as evidence for physical hypotheses. Models cannot substitute for physical hypotheses and there is no evidence for models.

      • I saw only more observations. No experiments in any of those.

        Perhaps the people so in love with Tyndalls gas effect should actually read Tyndall’s papers. Tyndall did real experiments to demonstrate that heat was not transmitted completely through long thin tubes of apparently transparent gases. But Tyndall did not measure absorption nor scattering. And Tyndall experimented on concentrations of gases like CO2 2-3 orders of magnitude higher than the 0.04% CO2 in atmosphere.

      • Sorry, Iain Stewarts experiment demonstrates exactly the same as Tyndall’s, vis “failure of transmission”. This experiment does not measure the net warming of the CO2, only that the IR was not transmitted. A proportion of the IR not transmitted will be absorbed. A portion of that absorbed will result in temperature rise. A portion will result in reemission in random directions (scattering). I would like to see the temperature rise attributable to the 0.04% CO2.

      • Ah, it’s the heat fairies what’s doing it.

      • Latimer Alder

        Interesting.

        Especially Evans’s paper which seems to not have been published anywhere other than at a conference, nor been peer-reviewed. I know that you are a stickler for peer review to give a first level of ‘scientific legitimacy’

        I also note that the conclusion you quote is not actually in the paper itself. Merely in the advertisement for the author’s session in the conference programme. Which is not quite the same thing.

        So it is in fact ‘not a conclusion in a paper that has not been published nor peer-reviewed’. Which, I fear, is not really conclusive proof.

        Have these results been verified by other work? Though I have nor reason to doubt the abilities of the authors, one swallow does not a summer make, and since this work was done in 2005, I would have expected the literature to be teeming by now with papers agreeing with them..and possibly casting new light from different angles as well.

      • …cough…

        Harries (2001)
        Philipona (2004)

      • Also from Goodwin’s article:

        “Instead of insisting on scientific proof, or scientific consensus, as the necessary “foundation” or “basis” or “grounding” for policy, perhaps scientists and citizens alike would do better to recognize that policy-making must proceed even with no “foundation” or “basis” or “grounding in science at all (Pielke The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics; Sarewitz). This, after all, is the traditional posture of rhetoric: an approach to civic deliberation that views contingency (“probability”) as the terrain where policy always gets made. From citizens, this might require a willingness to proceed even in the face of uncertainties; from scientists, a more prudent management of their rhetorical commitments; and from both, an increased resistance against the temptation to look for authority from science.”

      • I do not understand Goodwin’s use of the terms “rhetoric” and “rhetorical commitments” here, so cannot understand what he is saying. The concept of rhetoric itself is somewhat confused, as it can range from good reasoning to exaggerated emotional delivery. I consider the consensus claims to be rhetorical devices in the sense of exaggerated claims, and that is perhaps the defining quality of a climate change skeptic.

      • check out Goodwin’s cv and list of pubs,
        http://goodwin.public.iastate.edu/
        http://goodwin.public.iastate.edu/pubs/pubs.html

        her main areas of expertise are argumentation theory and rhetoric. I intend to do another post on her work later this week

      • Many interesting papers. One example, “The Authority of Wikipedia” from the end:

        “The pragmatic approach would make a difference in the pointers we offer students in our informal logic, critical thinking, argumentation or debate courses. From the pragmatic perspective, we should encourage students to be less concerned about figuring out who the “real” expert is, for example on climate change, and to pay more attention to the assurances that the competing experts are offering us. Critical questions for testing an appeal to expert authority might include:
        Why is this person offering you their view?
        Can you verify her intentions?
        What does she have to lose if it she turns out to be wrong?
        Are there reliable enforcement mechanisms to ensure she will endure these penalties?

        I consult Wikipedia, and I’m a reasonable person. In particular, the account I have defended in this paper suggests that I may be a person of “practical wisdom” or prudence. This is nothing special: as far as I can tell, prudence is widely distributed, or at least, it’s not the province of any particular social class or group. So though we may lack expertise ourselves, still many of us are equipped to figure out when to trust what ordinary folk, experts, and Wikipedia tell us.”

        Wikipedia is based on consensus. You can see the history of the argument and it has clearly defined rules which are worth a good read as well regarding consensus.

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        “Wikipedia is based on consensus”

        This CBS News story disagrees: Wikipropaganda On Global Warming.

      • It’s not a perfect system but over time that sort of problems gets fixed.

        It’s actually very interesting the process at Wikipedia.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Consensus

      • Of course. A math major who ends up studying english.
        hehe. where have I seen that before?
        Those of us with training in both tend toward studying rhetoric: the formula of language and thought.
        Interesting piece of work

      • Gee, I claim to have discovered the hidden structure of all issues, in fact of all expressed thought, which I call the issue tree. Might this be of interest? See http://www.stemed.info/reports/Wojick_Issue_Analysis_txt.pdf
        http://www.stemed.info/Repo_Tree.pdf and
        http://www.stemed.info/engineer_tackles_confusion.html
        I would love to do an issue tree of the climate debate.

        My problem with the rhetoric community is that they mix logic and concept analysis with psychology.

      • Long time ago in teaching rhetoric i did something similar. Basically the skeptical tropes. For any move in an argument there are set responses, study enough philosophy and rhetoric and you pretty much learn the bag of tricks/moves/attacks.

      • She also has some really interesting posts on her blog:

        http://scientistscitizens.wordpress.com/

      • The classical Greeks (Plato, Aristotle, etc.) will tell you — if you read them a while — that rhetoric is the art of persuasive argument (although that meaning is only fourth in the list of meanings given in my 4-inch thick Webster’s dictionary). Aristotle, for example, was really just a master of rhetoric, and his arguments kept a true physics at bay for 2,000 years. This problem was endemic to Greek (and modern) philosophy, for even back then it was known that focusing on the art of rhetoric typically produced only sophistry (which means empty but plausible argumentation). The climate consensus, for example, is sophistry. I sense that, in this discussion as in so many of today’s debates, too many (like the author of the paper being discussed) think they can, and must, “reinvent the wheel” that the ancient peoples already knew well; so I will end by encouraging everyone to remember the ancient wisdom, rather than laud the latest “interesting paper” that only mimics such wisdom. “Who knows only his own generation, remains always a child,” and the world is in the hands — and the rhetorical reasoning — of children now. Childish consensus means nothing, when the truth is finally admitted into the mind.

      • Goodwin’s paper has done a good job in assembling critiques of “statements of the obvious”, but her conclusions are simply thin piety

      • Judith;
        I feel you are now homing in on the real core issues that have been driving the whole debate. Kudos for sticking to the trail.

        A problem is the wanting of opposed goals or results and refusing to choose. In this case, clean reliable science, and science “gainfully employed” to guide political decisions — which inevitably becomes a tool in the hands of politicians, hence no longer clean and reliable.

        Framed this way, it is clear that “science as policy tool” is self-demolishing. The IPCC is just a particularly bloated and metastasized instance.

        Since politics will continue without end, and information will be generated and used without end, there is no final solution. Probably the best that can be done is to loudly point out and excoriate and resist “science pimping” every time it occurs, and aim the fire at both pols and researchers involved in it.

      • Nick, significant government policies are seldom, if ever, based on consensus. Policies are set by legislation which is based on voting. The core meaning of “consensus” is what everyone in a committee or other small group can agree on. It must be unanimous. (This is just how the UN uses the the term by the way.) There are no significant policies that I know of that are unanimously supported, so none is based on consensus. They are based on democratic process, which is a very different concept from consensus.

        Nor is there any consensus regarding AGW or especially dangerous AGW within the scientific community. Note that it is only dangerous AGW that is policy relevant.

      • John Carpenter

        David,

        I think you hit an important aspect of consensus… voting. ‘Consensus’ has been used by the IPCC to imply that the views of all the science community were considered as though a vote was taken by all participants and that all voted equally and a majority voted similarly to form a ‘consensus’. Of course no such vote was taken. If different topics of the climate debate were actually ‘voted’ on by the community… I wonder how much real ‘consensus’ there would be?

      • Would you rather that was done by scientists? Or bureaucrats? Or politicians?

        So the “I” in IPCC no longer stands for Intergovernmental?

      • I really wonder what your answer is.

      • Policies are based on some sort of consensus among some substantial group of people. There isn’t any other way, except autocracy.

        Thats a very good description of whats wrong with the EU from where emanates a great number of legally binding directives in respect of CO2 for us here in europe.

        By the by the basis of consensus that you describe isn’t served by picking only the people you want on the basis that they agree with a political direction you already have in mind.

      • “Would you rather that was done by scientists? Or bureaucrats? Or politicians?”

        Politicians, hands down. It’s called representative democracy. You want to see autocracy? Let policy decisions be made by a group of scientists (or butchers or candle stick makers) who don’t answer to the voters.

      • Nick:
        This paper is arguing that the scientific “consensus” might be predetermined by political advocacy (i.e., politicians). It is a strong argument that you have not addressed in your responses thus far.

      • Indeed.
        Was there ever a possibility that the “consensus” would turn out to be:
        “Directing climate is a fool’s errand; anticipating and planning for adaptation to the widest range of likely outcomes is the best idea. For this, the maximum variety of initiatives and proposals should be pursued and kept open at all times” ??

        And yet that is the actual state of play and only sane response.

      • Nick Stokes | July 16, 2011 at 10:16 am |
        In responding to AGW, the consensus involves an assessment of scientific facts.

        Nick, don’t you think scientists should be assessing the validity of the AGW hypothesis itself before forming a consensus about how it should be responded to?

      • TB,
        I’m not saying that scientists should form a consensus on how AGW should be responded to. I’m saying that governments need to make that decision. They will look to scientists for a consensus on the science. And they need to find a group that can offer that, with sufficient credibility. How do you think they should make such decisions?

        As to the AGW “hypothesis” that GHG’s block IR and cause warming, well, it’s been around since Arrhenius. There really is a consensus on that.

      • Hi nick,
        The governments got the consensus they paid for. Consensus by exclusion is manufactured certainty. The decision was already taken before the money was pumped into atmospheric science while solar science starved. You can’t tax sunshine.

        “the AGW “hypothesis” that GHG’s block IR and cause warming, well, it’s been around since Arrhenius.”

        Arrhenius and Tyndall’s work has the status of theory, but there’s a long chain of other stuff to be determined before you get from Arrhenius to AGW. AGW is still hypothesis, not least because it has not yet made successful predictions. Also because there are big lacunae in the modeling, and big measurement errors in vital stats such as TOA energy balance. And according to Spencer’s newly accepted paper, big misinterpretations of the signals.

      • TB can you please provide a link here to Spencer’s recent paper? I would be very interested to read it.
        Thanks

      • For understandable reasons he’s playing cards close to his chest at the moment. Blog post here:
        http://www.drroyspencer.com/2011/07/our-refutation-of-dessler-2010-is-accepted-for-publication/

      • Policies are the result of consensus among politicians. In fact, there may not even be consensus, just enough chum in the water to get them to bite.

        On a broader note, your post is indicative of one of the problems – the blurring of politics and science.

      • Yes, for better or worse our governments are headed by politicians. But to govern well, they need to be informed about science. Issues arise that depend on it. And (hopefully) they will get their information from scientists.

        So yes, there is the blurring of politics and science. How should it be avoided? By politicians not asking? By scientists not telling? Would that help?

      • “But to govern well, they need to be informed about science. Issues arise that depend on it. And (hopefully) they will get their information from scientists.”

        I think you use the the best known approach for the task at hand. Being a scientist isn’t the same thing as being an analyst with a known track record. A UN chartered committee isn’t the same thing as an analytic team. Politicians don’t need to understand science to govern well, they need the analysis of the science.

        In particular, the question at hand mainly centers around how statistically certain / uncertain various results are. I’ve faced this question many many times, and I never ever asked a scientist to answer it. I ALWAYS ask a statistician. There are additional limitations which add uncertainty to the results which are inherent to the scientific approaches. I usually have a group review to make uncover ones which were missed or not disclosed by the original researcher(s).

        You put too much faith in scientists, instead of constructing reliable processes for providing the needed analysis.

  6. 7/16/11, Manufacturing(?) consensus

    We don’t have to resort to the anonymous musings in Wikipedia to understand the relation between consensus and science. A thought experiment suffices.

    Black Box A predicts earthquakes. It has knobs for latitude, longitude, radius, and intensity on the Richter scale. From time to time the inventor predicts earthquakes of magnitude 9 and up in time, place, and intensity around the world. He reports that he had predicted the last two magnitude 9s within one week and 100 miles. People flock to him by the thousands to receive a special reading for their own area of interest. The publicity competes with major sports competitions. Governments fund him to make predictions and to improve his black box. No magnitude 9s have occurred since he went public with his black box.

    Black Box B is similar to A in all respects, but this inventor has not made it public. You, in fact, are the first person other to whom the invention has been disclosed. Setting it to magnitude 6, the two of you have together watched it predict 80% of the magnitude 6 quakes over three years with an accuracy of one week and within a radius of 100 miles.

    Which black box is science? If you said A, you get no points. If you said B, you get one point on the science literacy/objectivity test. Box A had a great consensus, but no predictions. Box B had no consensus, but made predictions much better than a random number generator. In science, validated predictions always trump consensus, or patents, or publications, or honors, or anything else. A model is valid if and only if it makes nontrivial predictions better than chance.

    The alleged AGW consensus doesn’t exist because it has never been measured. But if it did exist, its scientific relevance would be limited to whether some small subset of all scientists choose to honor the inventor of either Black Box with a dinner and a prize, or attach is name to his box.

  7. Looks like the IPCC and it’s followers have entrenched the apparently defensible position that climate science is settled and there no possibility of exploring the physics of the atmosphere by experiment, because the experiment can’t be the same as the real atmosphere.

    It is only a matter of time that the purveyors of this position will be found wanting by a scientific community dedicated to skepticism, observation, hypothesis and experiment.

    • “there no possibility of exploring the physics of the atmosphere by experiment, because the experiment can’t be the same as the real atmosphere”

      Proposals to do experiments on a large scale on the earth (not in the lab) have been made. The last one I followed was deemed too dangerous – since predictability of climate response models is uncertain, it might put us into a cooling phase – we just don’t know.

  8. BTW, nobody so far has expressed any interest in helping design any physical laboratory experiments to demonstrate and quantify the physical mechanism of “greenhouse” by backradiation, insulation or IR absorption.

    Is IPCC “climate science” very far removed from magic???

  9. Latimer Alder

    Seems to me that the need to declare a ‘consensus’ is actually a recognition of the weakness of the AGW case. If that case were strong, it wold be self-evidently obvious and there would be no space for the fevered debate that is raging over its very existence,

    As it is, after 30 years of ‘professional’ climatology, costing zillions of dollars and millions of man hours we are no nearer to getting an accurate answer to even the most basic question about the supposed effect of carbon dioxide…’what temperature change can we expect from an increase in CO2 in the atmosphere?’ Without that essential figure we cannot even begin to answer the question about ‘climate change’…will it be a Good Thing, a Bad Thing or a NoThing? Unless we are deeply conservative and believe that any change at all is necessarily a Bad Thing.

    This is a pretty poor record for all that work. Resources invested: Lots. Results achieved : Almost nothing.

    So to hide the cracks – surely obvious to all concerned..or at least to anyone who has professional experience outside climatology – a consensus was needed, To my mind this is more like a public recitation of a religious creed than a genuine expression of scientific judgement. An oath of loyalty to the clan of other ‘scientists’ rather than the product of deep research into, for example, the details of paleoclimatology or sea level studies. And religious creeds are there not only to affirm what one believes, but often to show that one doesn’t believe. As was said above, they are to differentiate the True Believers from the rest. Protestants and Catholics, Sunnis and Shias, Jews from Gentiles, Celtic from Rangers etc etc.The parallel with warmists and sceptics are obvious.

    Are there any other examples in scientific history where such a consensus has been so publicly trumpeted? It is such an unscientific argument that I can’t think of any off the top of my head. But if there were, was the consensus view ever shown to be the correct one in the light of history.

    Good solid science does not need consensus to proclaim its virtues. Theories that rely in consensus for support are unconvincing and weak.

    • Charles Hart

      well said

    • “Seems to me that the need to declare a ‘consensus’ is actually a recognition of the weakness of the AGW case.”

      I’m not sure I’d agree with this exact conclusion. The IPCC UN charter was designed to demonstrate that the rising oceans was due to man made greenhouse gasses. The political backdrop was a lot of small islands / countries saw the possibility of getting money from the US as compensation for loss of their land, way of life, etc. It turns out that a lot of this problem was the land was subsiding, so the political case fell apart due to the science. But all these other money opportunities cropped up with the new climate disaster scenarios.

      In the end, what the UN needed was a consensus among the economically stronger nations’ politicians to limit their economic activity, transfer monies to other countries, etc. You can view the IPCC as either providing the science to force a political consensus through reasoned argument, or as cover for the politicians in question to do what they already want to do. I don’t view it as scientific weakness, per se, but weakness of the political case for acting against one’s country’s own self interest.

  10. The consensus isn’t about how much temperature to expect or the effects.

    The consensus is that man is changing the climate.

    • Latimer Alder

      @lolwot

      ‘The consensus is that man is changing the climate’

      Sure. So are the elephants and the plankton and the orbit of the Moon and sunspots and just about everything on Earth in some way or other. Merely saying that ‘man is changing the climate’ does not rise very far above stating the bleeding obvious.

      I doubt there has ever been such a thing as a ‘static climate’ even if we were able to define what characteristics such a thing would have.

      But having agreed with this mind-numbingly trivial assertion, where do you take the discussion from here that will pass the ‘So What’ test?

      • Man is changing the climate in a significant way. A doubling of CO2 has a significant forcing, higher than any other known potential forcing, including the factors you mention.

        A 2% increase in solar output is equivalent, but nothing like that is remotely going to happen.

        The consensus is that human’s are having a signfiicant warming effect on the planet. The myth the deniers want to push is that global temperatures simply follow natural factors such as the Sun. The consensus is that is false.

      • “Man is changing the climate in a significant way.”

        Just qualify your trivial statement with meaningless subjective adjectives. It’s all good.

        Andrew

      • Significant means non-negliable. It means if you don’t factor in human activities you won’t explain recent or future climate change.

      • “Significant means non-negliable.”

        Back to trivial.

        Andrew

      • No not trivial. Like I said if you don’t factor it in you won’t be able to explain recent or future climate change.

      • lolwot,

        I can certainly explain it without factoring in a triviality. It’s all natural variation, past, present and future.

        Andrew

      • lolwat, unlike Bad Andrew I think you have specified your climate hypothesis well enough, namely that (it is known that) humans are having a significant impact. The point is that there is no consensus that this is true. Hence your claim that there is a consensus that it is true is scientifically false (the science in question being the demographics of belief).

      • simon abingdon

        I don’t know what non-negliable means. Please explain.

      • Your thinking is as foolish as your spelling. “Negligible” is a reference to some unspecified standard. And even then, the “consensus” is purely a PR claim. There is no difficulty whatsoever in finding all sorts of competent counter-claims to it. So the statement is an unvarnished (or maybe a varnished) falsehood.

      • Latimer Alder

        Wow

        Please can you make your mind up what the consensus actually is?

        At 10:31 you said it was ‘man is changing the climate’.

        Fifteen minutes later you have ‘The consensus is that human’s are having a signfiicant warming effect on the planet’…which is a very different beast,

        I’m going to watch a bit of cricket (rain permitting) and will be back in an hour or so, Perhaps by then you will be able to have decided (with some written evidence) of exactly what the consensus of scientists actually is, For a ‘consensus’ where the participants cannot agree what they are actually agreeing on is no consensus at all.

      • It’s the same thing. Man is changing the climate by significantly warming the Earth through greenhouse gases.

      • NO, it is not the same.
        At all.

      • Warming the planet is a change in climate, directly at the global level but ultimately at the local level too.

      • Latimer Alder

        The significance of this trite observation has escaped me,……

      • What exactly is the global climate?

      • Warming, if it results in no significant changes, is a meaningless event.
        The question is the climate changing in dangerous ways as claimed by the AGW community?
        It is not.

      • In what way is the climate changing? In the UK we seem to be going back to the freezing winters and cool, wet summers which I remember from my youth, and which is precisely the opposite to what we’ve been told to expect by the AGW crowd.

      • you are talking about local climate, that will be impacted by global changes. but I am specifically talking about global temperature and how human activity has a strong warming effect on it. Ties in with the subject of this article because that’s what the consensus of experts think.

        Important to convey this to a public who might think the question of whether humans are significantly warming the planet is in doubt.

      • What exactly is the effect of a small increase in average global temperature?

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘a strong warming effect’

        Make your mind up. First it was ‘changing’ , then ‘significant warming’, now ‘ a strong warming effect’. But only an hour ago (10:31) you wrote

        ‘The consensus isn’t about how much temperature to expect or the effects’.

        Please explain how you can reconcile that remark with ‘a strong warming effect’. Is ‘a strong warming effect’ not part of the consensus? Or is ‘strong’ a deliberately vague term used to give you wiggle room while sounding serious? Perhaps the concept of intellectual consistency is foreign to you?

      • There is no consensus over the precise temperature rise to expect. But there is a consensus that the rise will be a strong/significant amount.

        Consider the 20th century – 0.8C warming. Even if we assume just 0.8C warming per doubling of CO2, that’s as much warming from human CO2 emissions as occured over the entire 20th century.

        Meaning CO2 is an important driver of global temperature, if not the dominating driver even assuming low climate sensitivity. Also of course humans will probably more than double CO2.

        Yet despite this “skeptics” keep on loudly insisting CO2 is irrelevant and the Sun drives the climate.

      • Latimer Alder

        Where are all these sceptics that you carry on shouting so loud and long about that say both that CO2 is irrelevant and that the Sun drives teh climate?. Name names. You are clearly obsessed with your mental demons about them, so their identities must be at the forefront of your mind.

        And if sensitivity is only 0.8C per doubling, the whole argument doesn’t pass the So What? test. Who cares?

      • I gave you two below but here’s a new one:

        Bad Andrew | July 16, 2011 at 11:29 am |

      • My question was what effect it would have on local climate – specifically UK climate. You replied that it would have an impact on local climate, but stopped short of stating what the impact would be.

      • There is no consensus over the impact on UK climate.

      • Latimer Alder

        That’s good, since today’s washed out cricket is hardly tribute to global warming in what should be the height of summer. Cool, windy and very wet ;-(

      • Is there any consensus on the impact on ANY climate?
        In fact, is there consensus on anything at all except for perhaps the meaningless global average temperature?

      • Remarkable how all the significant warming is in the regions where there are the fewest humans (and a scarcity of climate data stations).
        Certainly would explain why some people don’t “get it”, there is no warming where people might notice.

      • What about all the warming in urban areas, which is well documented??
        eg Urban warming in Japanese cities and its relation to climate change monitoring – Fujibe – 2010 – International Journal of Climatology – Wiley Online Library
        http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/joc.2142/abstract

        “An analysis using data from the dense Automated Meteorological Data Acquisition System network has shown that an urban bias in recent temperature trends is detectable not only in densely inhabited areas but also at slightly urbanized sites with 100–300 people km−2, indicating the need for careful assessment of the background climate change.”

      • K Scott Denison

        lolwot:

        Please define for us “global temperature”, how it is measured, with what accuracy, and what, if any, other “global” metrics are important when measuring climate change.

        Then, please define for us what steps we should take to impact climate change, how much they will cost, andmhow successful they will be in changing the “global” metrics you describe above. That will allow us to do a cost-benefit analysis of you proposed actions.

        We’ll be waiting.

      • Pooh, Dixie

        lolwot: Consider looking at Spencer’s posts on clouds. Mechanism(s)? See Svensmark as well.
        From your post I guess that you are thinking of TSI (or SSI). TSI is a direct solar forcing. Point taken, considering Svalgaard’s work on a solar “floor”.
        However, what folks are looking at are indirect solar forcings.

      • Unfortunately, we don’t know whether 2XCO2 or a 2% increase in solar output would produce a 4.5 degC temp rise (hellacious), 3 degC (catastrophic), 2 degC (serious), or perhaps even smaller.

    • No. Stop the cognitive dissonance! It’s not helpful.

      The consensus is that humans are emitting tons of CO2 and that it’s warming the planet.

      • But of course there is no such consensus. That is why we are here today. It is a matter of deep debate, the very opposite of consensus. Moreover, the policy issue is whether it is dangerous, not whether it is happening.

      • Well, I mean the manufactured, phony consensus.

      • Do not forget that the point of the consensus is that we are warming the planet by way of CO2 in dangerous ways.
        When Trenberth and others lower the bar to the level of ‘any impact’, and then reverse the null, they are simply manipulating the issue so as to shut down critical reviews of their work.
        The AGW believer community desperately needs to keep the issue on ‘climate change’, not ‘global warming’. The climate always changes, so they can always claim CO2 did it. CO2, like land use, vegetation, changes in water flow, carbon black, aerosols, etc. are all climate forcings.
        The question is one of impact: Are we experiencing, as Trenberth and others claim, dangerous climate changes now? Only if we let them redefine danger and climate change. Any reasonable definition leads to a ‘no’.
        Are we likely to be experiencing dangerous climate change from CO2?
        Again, if we use data not massaged by those are promoting the idea, the answer is ‘no’.
        The AGW believer movement has done heroic efforts in defining the issue so that the lack of climate crisis is no hinderance to achieving their desire of imposing AGW desired policies. Dismantling that effort means looking closely at every assumption they rely on to shore up their beliefs. Most do not withstand critical review at all.

  11. Bob Carter explores these issues on political “consensus” vs scientific method in:
    Climate: The Counter-Consensus – A Palaeoclimatologist Speaks Stacey International; 1st ed edition (July 15, 2010) ISBN-13: 978-1906768294
    Climate Realists notes:

    The counter-consensus to quasi-scientific hype and induced panic on climate change is at last assembling. The argument is not in the first place as to whether or not climate change has been taking place, but whether any recent warming of the planet is appreciably due to human activity and how harmful it will prove.

    Tom Stacey, in his eloquent and provocative introduction, investigates our tendency to ascribe this and other perceived planetary crises to some inherent fault in ourselves, be it original sin or a basic moral failing. Climate: the Counter Consensus goes on to examine, with thoroughness and impartial expertise, the so-called facts of global warming that are churned out and unquestioningly accepted, while the scientific and media establishments stifle or deride any legitimate expression of an opposing view. In doing so, the book typifies the mission of Independent Minds to replace political correctness and received wisdom with common sense and rational analysis.

    Carter gave the breakfast keynote at ICCC 6 July 3, 2011. exploring the 7 “black swans.”


    Hal Lewis exposed “climate science’s” corruption of the scientific method.

    See News on Lewis

    The NIPCC reviewed the substantial science ignored or since IPCC’s report.“The Counter Consensus” lives!

    • “the argument is not in the first place as to whether or not climate change has been taking place, but whether any recent warming of the planet is appreciably due to human activity and how harmful it will prove.”

      The consensus is that a significant amount of recent warming of the planet is due to human activity. That Bob Carter even proposes recent warming might not have a human component at all just goes to show how extremist his position is.

      • Once again, there is no consensus of the form you claim. Carter, and me for that matter, plus many other skeptics, is enough to falsify the consensus claim, since consensus requires unanimity. That is, if say 80% of scientists accept this hypothesis then there is no consensus. Consensus if very different from majority view.

        And also once again, the only policy relevant issue is dangerous change, not change per se. This post is about policy.

      • Consensus doesn’t require unanimity, otherwise the age of the Earth being older than 6000 years wouldn’t have scientific consensus

      • Pooh, Dixie

        Unanimity? Agreed. But a Japanese version of “consensus” holds that the people that do not agree with the decision do agree that disagreements were heard and the decision was fairly reached.
        Did the IPCC meet that standard?

      • what if there’s no consensus over what a consensus is

      • Indeed there is none at this scale of abstraction, because the term consensus refers to committees or other small groups, where it means what everyone can agree on. Look it up. Talking about consensus in science is like talking about consensus in the general population. The concept is too vague to be meaningful.

      • Lolwot said: “That Bob Carter even proposes recent warming might not have a human component at all just goes to show how extremist his position is.”

        But Carter didn’t say “not … at all.” He implied “not appreciably.” There’s a difference. Here are his words:

        ““the argument is … whether any recent warming of the planet is appreciably due to human activity.”

      • Partway through Hagen’s post, I said Lolwot will have no option here but an ad hominem.

        And there you are, as predicted. My hypothesis that you have no defense against actual demonstration that the consensus is smoke and mirrors is validated.

      • lolwot
        By your ad hominem attacks you are the poster-child of what is wrong with “anthropogenic global warming catastrophism” consensus.

        Bob Carter presented “7 black swans” as evidence that there is no “consensus” that “most” (>90%) of late 20th century global warming was anthropogenic – each of which needs to be scientifically addressed.

        Your links below are thin on addressing these 7.
        Try addressing the science instead of denigrating rhetoric.

        Even if 50% of the warming was due to anthropogenic causes – that is still far from any “consensus of > “90%” caused by anthropogenic.

        The uncertainty bars are so high that the 90% is ludicrous to anyone knowing the scientific method. See Lewis’ comments.

        The uncertainty in clouds alone is so high that that could well e the primary driver – not CO2. See Lucia at the Blackboard and try to understand the uncertainties on temperature trends – and that actual evidence is well below the IPCC projections. That’s hard evidence, that needs to be addressed, not swept under the carpet.

      • Lolwot:
        Since when was the consensus : ‘that a significant amount of recent warming of the planet is due to human activity.’

        We’re having forced on us by our government in Australia a whole rejigging of our economy that the warmist scientists here describe as ‘a similar transformation to that of the industrial revolution’—-that’s no small deal—- and the ‘consensus’ they’re citing is the IPCC consensus—that we are facing dangerous climate change induced by CO2.

        That’s what our climate scientists are whispering in the Leftist government’s ear, and that’s what they’re hitting us with day after day—that we’ve got to get rid of CO2—massive upheaval.

        The watering down of the terminology that you and other warmists partake of is designed to deceive the less-informed and more gullible into thinking that ”human activity’ is CO2 alone, so that we’ll take the drastic and economy-destroying actions that mitigation of CO2 demands—so that we’ll give up sovereignty to global governance by the UN COPS as per the Copenhagen framework.

        You’d like them to forget all the other human impacts—the addition over the time frame, of billions of extra people, with the deforestation, land use changes, transportation increase, concrete, urban development etc that accompanies such population increase —and read ‘CO2′ when you say ‘human activity’.

        Even though you cite ‘human activity’, you’d like people to just ignore that fact that 50% of the Arctic melt , the melting of the glaciers and of the permafrost is caused by black carbon[soot]—not CO2—and that melting ice contributes ~ 70 times more to sea level rise than does thermal expansion of the oceans.

        That’s soot from burning of wood and other biomass in China, India, Indonesia and Brazil —will you focus primarily on that ?

        From Drew Shindell of NASA:
        [ "We will have very little leverage over climate in the next couple of decades if we're just looking at carbon dioxide," Shindell said. "If we want to try to stop the Arctic summer sea ice from melting completely over the next few decades, we're much better off looking at aerosols and ozone."]

        http://www.igsd.org/documents/PR_JacobsonBCstudy_29July2010_000.pdf

        We’re having forced on us policy that will destroy our economy and standard of living for no result at all , because people like you design and redesign your pronouncements to suck in the gullible and the fearful.

      • metro70,
        The common actions of AGW believers to deny what they said in the past and to water down their claims when confronted is widespread and telling.
        Good luck forcing out your out of control government.
        We have an Administration here that is at least as irresponsible and has similar backing from an allegedly independent media as yours does with state sponsored.

    • Climate experts don’t take guys like Bob Carter, Hal Lewis, David Evans, etc seriously. These guys run are play experts who run the political circuit pandering to the tea party activists who seem to make up a large part of the “skeptic” movement.

      • Latimer Alder

        Should be pretty easy for you to disprove his ideas then. Here’s the opportunity,……

        Merely slagging him off isn’t very convincing. Casts doubt upon whether you actually have any proper arguments against him.

      • I should have also included Lord Monckton on the list of course

        As for disproving their ideas, I am not sure they have any. Are strawmen ideas?

      • Latimer Alder

        Your diversion away from discussing their arguments into vulgar abuse says nothing about the rightness or wrongness of their case…but a great deal about you. Sadly it is not to your credit,

      • My points must be strong or else you wouldn’t bother responding. You just don’t like the fact that I am speaking the truth. Carter, Evan’s et al are just talking to the choir (tea party). Whereas the actual experts on climate are saying human activity is significantly warming the earth.

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘My points must be strong or else you wouldn’t bother responding’

        You both delude and flatter yourself mightily,

      • and yet here you are again
        Here’s some dirt on Bob Carter’s “methods”:
        http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/07/bob_carters_trend_lines.php

      • Latimer Alder

        Thanks lolwot,

        I was hoping for something along the lines of a serious rebuttal of his ideas. But if the best that you can do is to provide some ‘dirt’, then, once again, it says much more about you than about Bob Carter. Perhaps you work for News International?

      • deltoid and skepticalscience says it all.

        It will be (surreal)climate(regress) soon. I can smell it.

        Dogma. Entrenched and smelling of trench-foot. Recidivist and receding in vision. Mostly muttering dressed up as lambasting.

        The more I see the more I despair. The light at the end of the tunnel is looking like a mob with torches to me.

      • Not strong, just entertaining.

      • What points? All I’ve seen of your opinion so far is “There’s a consensus on something climate-like” and “the humans did it”.

      • lolwot
        Try some serious comparisons showing probability bounds.
        Carter shows Lucia’s statistical analysis on The Blackboard. e.g. See
        NOAA/ NCDC: April Warmer than March. 18 May 2011

        If one accepts 2001 as a reasonable start year for analysis, and one is only considering NOAA/NCDC data, based on information in this graph only we would conclude that:

        The forced trend for the current period falls in the range of about -0.11 C/dec to 0.12 C/dec. (Knowing longer term trends are positive, I would bet on the upper range.)
        During the periods of projections, the multi-model mean of projections exceeds the observed temperatures reported by NOAA/NCDC and by an amount that is not consistent with observation based estimates of the stochastic variability of earth global mean surface temperature.

        Stockwell applies detailed analyses to the full temperature range. See:
        Stockwell asks: Is the Atmosphere Still Warming?

      • Now we are seeing the underlying assumption of the consensus claim, which is that only true believers count. That there is a consensus among those who believe is trivially true, but calling that a scientific consensus is a gross misrepresentation of the facts.

      • HMM wonder what these guys would have been doing before the Tea Party (2008). At least the creationsists give the earth 6000 years.

      • So are skeptics paid by big oil, or are they tea party activists, or are they fundie bible thumpers?
        It is hard to keep up with the AGW believer taxonomical analysis of skeptics.
        The one thing skeptics actually are, that believers seem unable to comprehend, is that we are not what you think we are.
        You seem almost in….denial about this.

      • lolwot
        They should take them seriously if they are to be true scientists.

        See Falsifiability

        Albert Einstein is reported to have said: No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right;,b> a single experiment can prove me wrong. (paraphrased)[19][20][21]
        The criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability. — Karl Popper, (Popper, CR, 36)

        Claiming “consensus” does not deal with Carter’s 7 black swans, each of which could be the “swan song” for “global warming consensus”!

      • It’s very useful for you and other warmists to pretend that about those scientists and others who question the dogma, lolwot, so you can excuse yourself from answering their challenges—and thereby continue to claim your bogus ‘consensus’.

        In the absence of a ‘Tea Party’ in Australia to blame for absolutely everything, our climate ‘scientists’ here , are dodging challenge and scrutiny , and any questioning, by proclaiming ‘the science is finished’—‘the science has been over for decades’—some claiming it’s been ‘over’ so long that it must have ended right after the late Stephen Schneider was warning the world of the coming ice age, back in the 70s.

        Anyone who doesn’t accept the mad proposition that at some point in the last decade or even earlier—- all that needed to be known about the science of the earth’s climate was already known—the science was settled—-over—done and dusted—-that no alternative research or views were needed, welcome or to be tolerated—-is labelled a flat-earther —a fringe-dweller—a zombie—or whatever invective they can think of.

        But you’ll be glad to know that despite their overwhelming opposition to the carbon tax our Leftist government is forcing on us without a mandate, many Australians have been sucked in by the propaganda of your fellow AGW proponents—– and our children are bombarded with it in the schools as a matter of course.—-and many traumatized.

  12. Scientific Consensus is an oxymoron. Consensus is a majority of opinion and Science seeks to eliminate opinion. Science renders Consensus moot.

    JC got it half right with Consensus being Sociological. Consensus is not any attempt at fact finding, it is an attempt to herd which is quite easy with ‘activists’ since they have a strong desire to be a part of something.

    The biggest issue with “Scientific Consensus” IMO, is that the consensus becomes the proof. How many times have Skeptics asked for repeatable Methods only to be given the results of a poll that recorded a bunch of people’s beliefs?

    Ever hear of Consensus Building? Consensus has to be manufactured otherwise a majority can never be claimed. Opinions are like a-holes, everybody’s got one. Consensus rarely, if ever, occurs naturally and if so is not likely opinion but fact.

    • Consensus means unanimous opinion, usually of a committee, not majority opinion. However, consensus does play a central role in science viewed as a social activity, which it most certainly is. For example, funding a new research program typically requires an endorsement by a review committee.

      The confusion arises when this core concept of committee consensus for a specific decision is stretched into an argument about what “science” thinks. The claim become absurd, a mere rhetorical device, similar to the political expression “what the people want…”

      • simon abingdon

        “Consensus means unanimous opinion” The OED says it means “a general agreement”.

      • The concept of consensus is actually both complex and vague. It typically means, or requires, that no one blocks the decision. See for example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consensus_decision-making to get a feel for the complexity.

        When you add in the fact that we are not even talking about formal decision making, but just the range of opinions about a poorly defined belief, across a poorly defined scientific community, the term is hopelessly vague. This is precisely why it is so widely used by AGW proponents. It has the studied vagueness of a political slogan.

      • I didn’t see your post before I had sent mine about the same thing. Also, Wikipedia has very recently add a rating system.

    • simon abingdon

      “Science renders Consensus moot.” No, Science renders Consensus irrelevant.

      • Yes, thanks. “Moot” is a fine old A-S word meaning (more or less) deferred for later authoritative discussion by elders of the community. I.e., not resolvable at this time.

  13. It is absolutely valid scientifically that there might be no broad agreement on a comprehensive understanding of weather/climate and the influence of CO2 thereon, especially for a field that is so complex and for which our understanding is in its infancy and arguably rudimentary at best.
    However the whole purpose of the IPCC is to produce a document that can be referred to as “consensus”. The deemed “consensus” is then used as an appeal to authority to advance political goals.
    That the IPCC would never even consider reporting that there may be “no consensus”, should alert us immediately that the IPCC is a political process, not as it is commonly portrayed, a scientific one.

    “The Consensus Process”
    http://tinyurl.com/6j8ttc2

    The Consensus Process — often called “collaborative decision-making” — is a process that begins with a predetermined outcome.
    Snip
    Despite the careful selection of the participants, the facilitator may encounter an individual who does disagree with the questions. The facilitator is trained to marginalize such an individual by making him or her look silly by asking another, even more extreme question, such as: “Surely you are not telling this group that you feel no responsibility to your grandchildren, are you?” With such tactics, one who objects or disagrees very often is quickly labeled as a troublemaker and is either ignored or excluded from the group.
    http://tinyurl.com/ncg3z7

  14. I can certainly see why ignoring what most experts on the subject think is convenient.

    • Is historical illiteracy requirement for AGW belief?
      It seems so.

    • K Scott Denison

      lolwot:

      Do you seriously not see the error in your appeal to authority?

      Think about history… For example the period of time when most of the experts believed the earth was flat. Can you honestly not see the parallel? Can you not believe there is a chance that, like so many times in the past, that “most of the experts” might be wrong again this time?

      As the saying goes: “None is so blind as he who will not see”.

  15. One aspect not touched on in the manufacturing of consensus is the amount of extrapolation being used. A consensus that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and all things being equal, will warm the earth as concentrations increase does not equal a scientific consensus for a particular policy (cap and trade, carbon tax, etc).

  16. I don’t disagree with the apparent general thrust of the paper, i.e.,apro-CAGW consensus was manufactured. However, I do believe that this sociological level of analysis overlooks the actions and motives of particular actors at particular points in time. It assumes that groups – pro-AGW scientists – are acting as if they were individuals and individuals as if they embodied a group as opposed to individuals with particular agendas, objectives and motives coordinating their actions. The climategate emails provide, IMO, clear evidence that the manufacturing of consensus was due in part to the inappropriate and highly questionable actions of particular individuals. The marginalizing and ignoring of particular authors and particular reviewers were the results of what individuals like Jones and Mann actually did. Suggesting that these actions are part of some larger sociological process diminishes the responsibility of the individuals concerned. The vitriol that shows up on various blogs is simply the ongoing manifestation of this personal animus. Gavin Schmidt’s very recent gratuitous comments of Steve McIntyre’s three year old assessment of the impact SST temperature adjustments are not the outcome of a sociological process, but the deliberate choices of a particular individual. All this is not new in the field of Science. I strongly urge folks to take a look at Newton’s Tyranny: The Suppressed Scientific Discoveries of Stephen Gray and John Flamsteed by David H. Clark and Stephen H. P. Clark.

    • The whole 1934 vs 1998 kerfuffle proved beyond doubt that skeptics are the dishonest party here. The reason scientists got so paranoid is that skeptics were fishing for stuff to blow out of proportion and spin.

      • Latimer Alder

        Thanks for the admission that the scientists suffer from paranoia.

      • Which skeptics specifically were dishonest? Who in particular was fishing? Was the paranoia the result of the motives of those seeking data or the fears of those who had processed the data. “Proof beyond doubt” is a pretty demanding standard – how can you be that certain? Besides given the uncertainties and error embedded in the surface temperature record are you that certain that 1998 was in fact warmer than 1934?

      • That’s precisely the point Bernie. 1934 and 1998 had a statistically insignificant difference and the adjustment was irrelevant, but “skeptics” abused the situation and exagerated the significance so that they had a story to sell joe public, so they could claim there was some big correction and give the impression something important had changed. They knew full well what average joe would think when they were told that 1998 was no longer the warmest year but 1934 was .

      • Latimer Alder

        You claimed ‘dishonesty’. You have not shown ‘dishonesty’ in your remarks above. Just a generalised whinge about generalised sceptics and generic joe public.

        Do you want a second go? Name names and show that their actions were dishonest. Otherwise you are no more convincing than a saloon bar bore at closing time

      • I am pointing out the dishonesty of the skeptic movement as a whole. The whole issue was fabricated and dishonest. All the skeptic blogs were complicit in pushing it as some kind of news story.

        It simply had all the right ingredients for them.

        Bashing of gistemp. Check
        Bashing of james hansen. Check
        Might make people think the science was substantially wrong. Check

      • Latimer Alder

        So no actual evidence then? Good old broad brush unverifiable assertions with no facts. Great stuff…..pretty much par for the alarmist course,

      • google is your friend. I am referring to historical fact

      • Well actually you are referring to a generic class of people’s actions and motivations. How is your friend in google going to help you in providing evidence for your case?

      • Pooh, Dixie

        Line by line of code. Introduction and index:
        Smith, E. Michael. GIStemp. Analysis. Musings from the Chiefio. http://chiefio.wordpress.com/gistemp/

      • The dishonesty of the sceptics!

        Who was it fudged the graph to pretend that tree rings continued to be reliable proxies for temperature after 1960, when in fact they showed a decline —a divergence from the temperature rise?

        Who is it who tries to dodge and squash dissent by smear , name-calling and character-assassination—even calling for sceptics to be sacked or jailed in some cases?
        Who tries to shut down the science to anyone who is not a true believer—and in my country, shut down democracy by suppressing information [ eg climategate] and replacing it with warmist propaganda ?

        Who tried to prevent others from replicating their science by denying access to raw data.

        Who was it who corrupted the peer review process, and spelt it out—-yet still taunted dissenting scientists because they couldn’t make it through the gauntlet set up to keep them out?

        Who hides behind sham inquiries run by committed warmists with a vested interest, and designed to find in favour of the inner circle no matter what?

      • They knew full well what average joe would think when they were told that 1998 was no longer the warmest year but 1934 was

        So the AGW crowd didn’t likewise know full well what the average joe would think when they were told that 1998 was the warmest year then?
        Pot…Kettle…Black!

      • Except the AGW crowd were correctly talking about global temperature

      • But you yourself said just a few posts back that the difference between the two years was statistically insignificant.

      • you know I would explain it to you but I can’t be bothered.

      • lolwot –

        you know I would explain it to you but I can’t be bothered.

        You mean you can’t.

      • Pooh, Dixie

        The importance lay in use of the word “unprecedented”.

      • So skeptics changed the data to make things look the way the believers wanted?
        You are a very good contortionist- but belief in AGW offers a lot of opportunity to practice.

  17. Scientific Consensus is an oxymoron. Consensus is a majority of opinion and Science seeks to eliminate opinion. Science renders Consensus moot.

    JC got it half right with Consensus being Sociological. Consensus is not any attempt at fact finding, it is an attempt to herd which is quite easy with ‘activists’ since they have a strong desire to be a part of something.

    The biggest issue with “Scientific Consensus”, from my observations, is that the consensus becomes the proof. How many times have Skeptics asked for repeatable Methods only to be given the results of a poll that recorded a bunch of people’s beliefs? Not to say that Skeptics have not also engaged in this sort of activity.

    Ever hear of Consensus Building? Consensus has to be manufactured otherwise a majority can never be claimed. Opinions are like a-holes, everybody’s got one. Consensus rarely, if ever, occurs naturally and if so is not likely opinion but fact.

  18. What nonsense that there is such a thing as a scientific consensus. As someone else pointed out, it is an oxymoron; it does not exist.

    Eventually we will get the hard, measured, independently replicated data that proves that CAGW is just plain wrong. It may take several years, but since there is never going to be any sort of political decision on a world wide basis not to use fossil fuels, we have as long as it takes. The world is going to use ever last barrel of oil, every last cubic foot of natural gas, every last ton of coal, etc.

    All this talk about a consensus on CAGW is irrelevant nonsense.

    • Pretending consensus doesn’t exist doesn’t make it so. Decision makers want to know what experts think about the matter. It just so happens that there is a consensus among experts that man is warming the planet.

      • And pretending that it matters doesn’t make it so.

      • “Man is warming the planet” is as wishy-washy useless statement as “Man is bad” or “Man is good”. You could also say “Plants are warming the planet” or “Insects are warming the planet”. Its what you say next that is going to not have consenus.

      • Given that many “skeptics” deny man is, or can, warm the planet it’s pretty damn inconvenient that the experts say otherwise isn’t it?

      • Latimer Alder

        I’ve never read anybody saying that man cannot warm the planet. And yet you claim that there are many of them.

        Where would I find these people? Who are they? Please name names.

      • Here are two examples from today

        “The truth is that CO2 is a beneficial trace gas that exists in such small quantities in our atmosphere, that the idea of it playing any significant role in determining our climate is simply silly”
        http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/07/the_global_warming_hoax_how_soon_we_forget.html

        “With the exception of some minor warming from the radioactive core of the Earth, the Sun is the ONLY source of energy available to drive climate – or climate change. Everything else is dependent on that. Yes, lolwot, – it IS the Sun.”
        http://judithcurry.com/2011/07/14/time-varying-trend-in-global-mean-surface-temperature/#comment-86629

      • lolwot,
        Please tell us why the sun is not our sole source of energy for the climate.

      • Latimer Alder

        You know an energy source other than the Sun to drive climate or climate change? Whatever magical properties CO2 may or may not have, it does not spontaneously create energy from nothing. It may or may not affect the distribution of that energy via the greenhouse effect, but it does not create the energy in the first place,

        So your second citation fails.

        As to Sewmson’s article, I note that he accepts comments there. If you disagree with him suggest that you raise your concerns directly there rather than harranguing us with tirades about the supposed beliefs of others who do not present themselves here. If I wished to complain about the service on American Airlines from O’Hare, shouting at the desk clerk for Delta at DFW would be a pretty dumb way to go about it, You are doing much the same.

      • Both you and hunter and “skeptics” on the other thread tried this trick of feigning poor interpretation skills. Sorry I don’t buy it. Noone is that dumb.

        The “it’s the Sun, stupid” comment I quoted is arguing the recent warming is obviously due to the Sun, and not CO2.

        Your nonsensical interpretation that “it’s the Sun, stupid” includes human CO2 emissions goes to show the lengths skeptics will go to keep nonsense arguments alive.

        I did leave a comment on the Swemson article. It was a long long list of mistakes. No surprise it didn’t get through.

      • lolwot –
        The “it’s the Sun, stupid” comment I quoted is arguing the recent warming is obviously due to the Sun, and not CO2.

        Since that was “my” line, I think I might know what was meant – and your interpretation is utterly stupid. You, like others of your religious bent, keep on confirming my hypothesis that progressive liberalism confers a severe reading comprehension problem.

        Learn to read – it’s not that hard if you have tow brain cells that connect.

      • lolwot,
        And you believers, besides being unable to engage in civil discussion, are really rather dim bulbs when one cuts through the bluster you depend on.
        – The recent warming is nothing outside of the margin imprecision and error and historical variability. There is no crisis of climate occurring now or likely to occur in the future. There is no great change coming that will swamp our very successful tools and methods of adaptation.
        You believers are really rather neurotic about this.
        Your climate obsession is potentially entertaining, like UFO or creationist belief, but the latter two are not getting laws and taxes passed that are hurtful.
        You all, in your obsession want to make me pay for your lack of psychotherapy, and that is annoying.

      • you guys are sophists switching between understanding and ignorance as it pleases you.

        In ignorance mode you push out false little quips of foolery like “it’s the sun, stupid” berating those scientists who consider CO2 has a role in it global warming because big ol’ yeller in the sky is so big and yeller. It’s obvious to a simpleton that it must be the Sun.

        When I expose the statement for being false you can’t deny it, but try to escape on technicalities.

        The technicalities are quite revealing because in doing so you abandon the simpleton persona the “it’s the sun stupid” foolery relied upon. All along you knew it was false.

        Now for the excuses. One particular excuse is that “it’s the sun, stupid” was just referring to all energy comes from the Sun. Yeah as if. Pull the other one. What a ridiculous excuse that doesn’t even make sense. You were just saying “All energy comes from the Sun, stupid”.

        The argument “it’s the sun, stupid” was a put down on CO2 playing a role. Ie if it’s the Sun, it aint man. The intended “stupid” were the people pushing manmade global warming.

        What’s also interesting is how you try to all play the victim as part of the excuses. Apparently I am just misinterpreting your words. Nah I don’t think so. People who say “it’s the sun, stupid” (and there was more context than that) are clearly pushing the aforementioned argument.

        My reading comprehension is fine.

        So is yours, even if you pretend otherwise.

      • lolwot –
        This is really prime, man. Haven’t seen this much dumb in one place in a long time.

        You’re the one who claimed that sceptics were dogmatic about the Sun being the only factor involved in GW. So I pointed out that, AS YOU HAVE ADMITTED, the Sun is the sole major source of energy that drives GW/CC – and everything else. I also stated that without the Sun, there would be no GW/CC because there would be no atmosphere. I made no other claims.

        YOU then brought up cloud and ice cover – which I agreed have an effect on GW/CC – IF and only if, the Sun is still providing the energy to drive the system. In fact, I told you that cloud cover/effects were investigated more than 30 years ago. What I did not state was that that work was and is still being ignored by “climate science”. Perhaps you’d like to tell me why that is?

        And then you started lying – apparently believing that I said the ONLY the Sun had any effect on GW/CC. Which I did NOT, at any point, say.

        And now you say this –
        You were just saying “All energy comes from the Sun, stupid”.

        Yes – precisely. I stated that multiple times in multiple ways – and you failed to understand what was written.

        The argument “it’s the sun, stupid” was a put down on CO2 playing a role.

        No – it was a put down on YOU for claiming that sceptics dogmatically believe that only the Sun has any effect on GW/CC. That’s a stupid assertion. Unless , of couse, you can back it up – which you haven’t – and I doubt that you can. Especially since neither I nor anyone I know actually believes it.

        Ie if it’s the Sun, it aint man. The intended “stupid” were the people pushing manmade global warming.

        No. The intended “stupid” would be anyone who believed your assertion that sceptics would (dogmatically) believe anything that stupid.

        What’s also interesting is how you try to all play the victim as part of the excuses.

        Really? At no point in my life have I ever “played the victim”. I’m not a victim type – as I told someone recently, I don’t fear the wolves of GW, I kill them.

        Apparently I am just misinterpreting your words. Nah I don’t think so.

        Well, apparently you are. Probably because you don’t take those stinkin’ deniers seriously. And that’s not smart.

        People who say “it’s the sun, stupid” (and there was more context than that) are clearly pushing the aforementioned argument.

        What “more context” ? The context was simple. I told you something you didn’t want to believe and so you repeatedly failed to understand it. For your benefit, I’ll repeat it – No Sun, no climate, no climate change. But as long as there IS a Sun, it IS the only major source of energy driving climate and climate change. IIRC, nobody said ANYTHING about CO2 – and only YOU bothered to mention cloud and ice cover. I had no reason to do so because the point of the discussion was ONLY that without the Sun there would be no energy to drive climate change.

        If you failed to believe what I said – then it was YOUR failure, not mine. And since you’ve now agreed with my point, your weaseling is becoming tiresome – and even dumber than your original contention.

      • You weren’t even the one to make the “it’s the sun, stupid” comment. That was wagathon. You just defended it badly.

        Read his post. It’s obvious he was arguing against manmade global warming as if we are supposed to just think global warming is due to the Sun.

        So obvious that your interpretation is a little unbelievable. As if he was only claiming all energy comes from the Sun!

      • lolwot –
        I said what I meant and I meant what I said.

        If you failed to believe what I said – then it was YOUR failure, not mine. And since you’ve now agreed with my point, your weaseling is becoming tiresome – and even dumber than your original contention.

      • lolwot,

        Do you understand the difference between:

        Man can(not) warm the planet.
        Man is(not) warming the planet.

        It seems you don’t. It’s simple.

      • Do you deny the statements that ‘man is good’ or ‘man is bad’ or ‘plants are warming the planet’ or ‘insects are warming the planet’?

      • They certainly don’t have a consensus. Rising CO2 being a driver of global warming does.

      • So?
        Eugenics had a great consensus for far longer.
        Lysenko had a powerful consensus for many years.
        Certainly you can make an argument that is deeper than ‘consensus’?
        Show us the predictions coming true- the increased storms, the changing in plants, the increased extreme weather events, any changes outside the bounds of error, natural variability or history. Give it a shot.

      • The evidence is strong that unchecked greenhouse gas emissions will warm the planet beyond millions of year highs. You know what this evidence is. I know what it is.

        As for the effects of this, there is no consensus. No idea what we are dealing with. Extreme weather events and changes in plants are the mere tip of the iceberg of things that will be affected. There is no consensus over precisely how they will be affected. You have to be pretty lucky though for thousands of impactable things to do just fine when confronted with massive change.

      • What will the ‘massive change’ be? Just answer the question.

      • global temperature

      • And what will global temperature do?

      • That’s what the point of the article is – there is no real consensus. It’s been manufactured.

      • I think there is a real consensus that humans are driving global warming

      • and lolwot is driving the GW hoax.

      • So you have gone from “man is warming the planet” to the consensus is “Rising CO2 being a driver of global warming”. You see how this is creeping into other statements.

      • I am being more specific because some commenters seemed to require it

      • Kermie, sweetness

        Don;t bother.

        It is clear that lolwot has no real idea what he believes nor how to discuss it in a logical manner. He is like a primitive speaking computer which latches onto a phrase and spouts the standard party line until asked a question or invited to expand. He then veers away from that topic until given the opportunity to spout about something else.

        Don’t waste your time with him when there are better things you could be doing with your loving porcine chum x x x

    • Our problem remains that we can not rely on “climate science”, or the purveyors of same, to provide such data. It would be suicide.

      The money they have squandered could have done so much good in other areas as soon as they invested the smallest fraction on providing raw data to lend weight to their hypotheses. Didn’t happen. I don’t expect it to now.

      • One of the greatest costs of the AGW movement has been the opportunity cost of what the obsession over CO2 has prevented us from doing. Think of the goodwill that was wasted in Bali, Rio, Kyoto, Copenhagen, Cancun, (to name a few) that could have written a treaty to globally lower carbon black, or make clean water more accessible, or remediate polluted lands, or, or …….

  19. I am just one of these “non scientists” that the “consensus” is trying to persuade that AGW is real and dangerous. This statement kind of have put me in the “sceptics” box since Climategate: “Although, as in any developing scientific topic, there is a minority of opinions which we have not been able to accommodate, the peer review has helped to ensure a high degree of consensus among authors and reviewers regarding the results presented.”
    How can a socalled “scientific report” omit the “minority of opinions”????? And what about the Climategate characterisation of the socalled Peer Review process?? Pall review???
    Lolwot just reinforces my sceptic views. I am sick of reading about the “denier” word being used by the consensus believers. A sceptic is not a denier. There may be deniers, but people like Dr. Roy Spencer and Professor Lindzen are not deniers. As I understand their position they believe that as a forcing, the doubling of CO2 may lead to a global temperature increase of 1C before feedbacks are taken into consideration. What effect do feedbacks have? That is the question. Are they positive (IPCC) or negative (sceptic view). So a sceptic – like me – may agree that CO2 has an effect. The question is how much effect 390ppm (or going from 280 to 390ppm) can have in the overall picture. I would like a more urbane discussion between “believers” and “sceptics” over the real effect of CO2 increases when feedback and natural forcings are taken into consideration. Shouting will not solve this essential problem.

    • Richard Lindzen and Roy Spencer don’t deny human activity is causing warming. Neither do they dogmatically claim “It’s the sun”. In contrast the “skeptic” movement are political ideologues driven by a tea party ideology that has nothing to do with science.

      • Which of the frequent commenters on this site are part of your “skeptic” movement? I seriously doubt that there are any. If you cannot identify any then I fail to see the relevance of your comment. Perhaps Prof. Goodwin could make room for you in one of her introductory classes.

      • I am not going to name names. A widely held misconception is that the skeptic movement is somehow controlled or funded by big oil. In fact the typical skeptic is not motivated by money, but by political ideology.

      • The typical believer is as well.
        Do you have a point hidden in your strawman someplace?

      • Actually I don’t think so. I think most “believers” are more interested in the climate than the politics.

      • rotf& lmao.
        It is the AGW community demanding huge policy changes, not the skeptics.
        It is members of the AGW community write offal like like
        “Time’s Up” and making movies about apocalypse.
        If you are so self-absorbed you can only see noble motives on your side and only wicked motives in skeptics, you have lost long before this exchange.

      • Latimer Alder

        ”In fact the typical skeptic is not motivated by money, but by political ideology’

        And your evidence for this assertion is exactly what?

      • look around you

      • Latimer Alder

        I see a study. Lots of rain. Picture of my Mum. Telephone. Pot plants.

        But no evidence of your assertion. Have you any? Or is this another of those evidence-free opinions that you are a world leader in promulgating?

      • L.A. I think you meant potted plants :)

      • We are. You are obviously delusional.

      • tempterrain

        I’d say it would be a mixture of both. Its definitely not scientific curiosity though!

      • lolwot –
        Its definitely not scientific curiosity though!

        There are some for whom that’s true. But they either don’t show up here or they don’t last long.

        Now – whay are you and lolwot and Robert and Joshua and M. carey here? It’s certainly not scientific curiousity even though none of you are scientifically literate. And it’s not for money unless Soros is paying you to stir up the natives (possible but not probable). So that leaves ideology. What was that complaint about sceptics again? You do a LOT of projecting.

        Notice that I separated Fred and Andrew Adams and JimD and JCH and several others from your company. They’re reasonably scientifically literate and actually discuss the science – generally without descending into the middens.

      • tt – my apologies for using the wrong name on that comment. Bad dog, no cookie.

      • what’s this ‘tea party’ thing ;) There are people that live outside of America, believe it or not, some of them are also sceptical ?

      • Latimer Alder

        Hi Barry

        I had a very nice plate of scones with jam and clotted cream in Shanklin, IoW this week. They called it a ‘Cream Tea’. Maybe they don’t have the same delicacies in US which is why so many Americans want to join the cream tea party?

        Just shows how one nation’s politics do not translate well to other countries.

      • jorgekafkazar

        “the “skeptic” movement are political ideologues driven by a tea party ideology that has nothing to do with science.”

        Argumentem ad hominem, the first resort of the logically challenged climate propagandist.

      • tempterrain

        I’d say not an ad-hominem argument. Even some of your fellow conservatives say things like:

        http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100050792/why-conservatives-shouldnt-believe-in-man-made-climate-change/

  20. I forgot to add that I must congratulate Judith Curry for the subjects she chooses and the way she is running the blog. I really do feel that she is trying to open up the debate and bring the discussion up to an urbane and “civilised” level.

    • simon abingdon

      She should try to stop the unseemly squabble between Latimer Alder, lolwot and hunter which has reduced a serious blog into a candidate replacement for the News of the World.

      • simon,

        “the unseemly squabble” will wither and die naturally. No interuption required.

      • I notice the most warmers are control freaks. They want to control everything, even climate.

      • simon,
        What is unseemly about the discussion?
        One, it is interesting. Two, it is fun. Three, it is an open conversation. If you do not like something being said, join in. The water is fine.

  21. This is it, guys and gals. The IPCC is dead.

    Either that, or following Piero Manzoni’s example the bowel movements of scientists should be labelled “scientific stool”. That’s the end result of going the authoritative way, believing anything coming out of a scientist is necessarily scientific.

    Now, of course the death of the IPCC way means nothing regarding the reality of AGW, or of CAGW. We’ve wasted “only” 23 years, and countless more in the future whilst people keep trying to ride the dead IPCC horse.

    • You need to figure out a way for the governments to get off the dead horse after they had spent billions of dollars in riding the dead horse for decades. The governments have to be accountable for tax money they spent and they are tied to the AGWers.

  22. Dr. Curry,
    You seem to have struck a nerve.

  23. There was an extended exchange of views about consensus (among other things) at Watts Up With That (too many to list here, 259 results from a Google search).

    http://www.google.com/search?q=Ravetz+consensus+site%3Awattsupwiththat.com&hl=en&biw=831&bih=401&num=10&lr=&ft=i&cr=&safe=images&tbs=

  24. The consensus already involves UN and government bureaucrats, and politicians. The mainstream media, whether by design or not, also contributes the this “manufactured” consensus.

  25. The consensus view is Tibet should be part of China.

  26. “We shall argue that consensus among a reference group of experts thus concerned is relevant only if agreement is not sought. If a consensus arises unsought in the search for truth and the avoidance of error, such consensus provides grounds which, though they may be overridden, suffice for concluding that conformity is reasonable and dissent is not. If, however, consensus is aimed at by the members of the reference group and arrived at by intent, it becomes conspiratorial and irrelevant to our intellectual concern.”

    This statement is unmitigated bullshit. Or, to put it another way: buy it and you would have to reject the modern evolutionary synthesis, among other things within science. This was an attempt, and a concious one undertaken over a number of decades, to bind what was known about genetics and what was known about Natural Selection into a single coherent body of knowledge, which became and still is the current consensus within evolutionary biology.

    I hope Ms. Curry isn’t up for a bout of Darwin denying.

    The paper’s author seems to have no clue as t how the notion of consensus in employed within science–it is fairly ubiquitous. I am not talking about climate scientists: there are varous consensi within paleontogy and even mathematics. And they are referred to as such.

    • bigcitylib

      Read the referenced article again, very slowly.

      It is absurd to refer to the conclusion concerning “manufactured” consensus (i.e. “consensus reached by intent”) as BS.

      We have a basically corrupted IPCC process at work here, BCL. As a result, the “consensus” on the causes of and potential dangers from global climate change is “irrelevant to our intellectual concern” (as was stated.)

      The consensi in other field of research may or may not have a similar underlying problem, but that is irrelevant.

      Max

      • Not irrelevant at all. The argument is entirely general: if consensus is arrived at intentionally, then it is conspiracy. But scientists have strived for consensus for many different reasons in many different fields. So apparently they are all conspiring.

      • Naive minds would have thought that scientists should have always striven for a better understanding of the physical world, rather than for consensus (unless they’ve been invited to one of those silly Consensus Conferences in the medical and now climatological field, that is).

        In other words a scientist that puts consensus in front of the science is obviously not doing the work of a scientist. Is “consensualist” better or worse than “conspiratorial”?

      • Give a specific example.

    • “Or, to put it another way: buy it and you would have to reject the modern evolutionary synthesis, among other things within science.”

      I knew this was going to happen(again). The Appeal to Evolution. File this beside the Dreaded Doctor Analogy is one of the dumbest arguments for AGW ever offered, as one (“evolution”) has nothing to do with the other (“climate science”).

      Andrew

    • It’s a matter of playing the odds.
      If you have a large overlap of opinions arrived at independently, the chances are pretty good that it’s accurate.
      If the overlap follows from a program or concerted effort to persuade the sampled group, it turns out to have very poor odds of being accurate.
      Pick one.

  27. The article says correctly that scientists don’t come to their opinions by consensus, rather they look at the basis of the arguments and come to their own opinions independently. If a lot of independent opinions happen to have some agreements among them, they may be seen from outside as a consensus. So a consensus is an outsider’s view or poll of what scientists are independently concluding based on their own understanding.
    When we talk about manufactured(?) consensus, that would imply that someone is manipulating the consensus opinion. This is an impossibility, because the consensus is a collection of individual scientists’ views. How can anyone control the process that leads a scientist to come to their own view?

      • I think scientific opinions among the climate experts are much more robust than this implies. They would not be swayed easily from views based on well founded understanding of the effects of greenhouse gases that goes back a century that in turn imply the range of sensitivity given by the IPCC.

    • You mean manipulating, like stage managing a Senate hearing to make a deliberately hot room imply a future of high temperatures?
      Or manipulating, like fabricating a hockey stick?
      Or manipulating like pretending there is a massive consensus that supports the idea of a dangerous climate caused by CO?

      • This brings up an important point of misunderstanding. They are not manipulating the scientists’ opinions, which is therefore not manipulating consensus among them. Politician’s opinions, which you refer to, don’t count as part of this consensus we are talking about. It is a major distinction to make to be aware whose consensus we are talking about.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Jim D., how on earth is stage managing a Senate hearing or falsely manufacturing a “hockey stick” NOT manipulating consensus? Are you saying that around the world, not one scientist’s opinion was swayed by Hansen’s Senate hearing? Not one scientist was moved by the “hokey” stick?

        w.

      • No, scientists’ opinions that are worth listening to are only swayed by the scientific evidence, because they have enough background to understand it. I doubt any of them had formed their opinions around tree rings. That evidence was weak to start with.

      • Latimer Alder

        Equally , then, when you count the consensus of ‘climate scientists’ about climate sensitivity, you deliberately exclude tree ring guys or paleo girls or those who write about ocean neutralisation and coral because they are too far away from the actual work to have an informed opinion?…..

        Or do they count in your consensus?

      • That is why the IPCC is useful. Climate science needs a wide range of experts looking at relevant work to their own and critiquing it from the perspective of the IPCC questions. Each chapter of the IPCC report has different experts, but it does hold together well in terms of the big picture.

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘Each chapter of the IPCC report has different experts, but it does hold together well in terms of the big picture’

        Hold your horses a little there pardner! There are quite a few potential structural failings in that way of doing things.

        The most glaring one is who draws up the ‘big picture’ as you describe it? A panel of experts from the individual subject areas, or the Chairman himself..or the appointed government representatives? Or somebody else entirely.

        Having drawn up the ‘big picture’, how do the individual contributors get to signify their assent – or agreement with the consensus? Even ,more importantly how could they signify their disagreement with the consensus big picture?

        And if individual ‘experts’ only get to assess their own relatively small area of expertise, that area is very vulnerable to a gate-keeping mentality among contributors (we have seen evidence of this idea in Climategate).

        And especially to the disease of Groupthink. Confirmation among a tight-knit group that they are always right and that they can and should ignore evidence to the contrary, This is a self-reinforcing tendency and needs no malicious or dishonest intent to take root. The only cure is strong influence from outside…an idea that climatologists seem to have a pathological aversion to.

        Outside of academe, a structure like this one would be very soon rejected while still on the drawing board. It is too compartmentalised, too closed and relies far too much on the assertions of individual ‘experts’. And it is a supremely hierarchical approach to report on scientific endeavour…which surely should be the least hierarchical of human efforts.

        ‘Nullius in Verba’ is not just a cute motto to go over the doorway of the Royal Society, It was supposed to act as advice and guidance as well. Shame that climatology seems never to have taken it.to heart.

      • andrew adams

        Estimates of climate sensitivity are not based on tree rings, ocean acidification or coral. There are some estimates based on studies other paleo data such as ice cores but the IPCC estimate is derived from studies
        based on various different lines of enquiry.

      • So you’re implying that there are scientific opinions not worth listening to. Which ones would that be?

      • The so-called scientific opinions formed by commentators reading accounts of the science rather than from understanding the science itself. In other words, listen to the scientists, not the unqualified commentators if you want to learn anything. Don’t be fooled by pseudo-science either.

      • Actually, I got it a bit wrong when I said ‘scientific opinions’. You said ‘scientists’ opinions’, which precludes commentator’s opinions.

      • The argument this paper is making seems to have eluded you entirely. It appears the IPCC manufactured the “consensus”. Whether or not you think the IPPC has a political agenda is irrelevant. It certainly appears to have a policy agenda.

      • If you think the majority of scientists don’t sincerely believe the consensus view, you will have to prove it. I am really not sure what is being “manufactured” here. It is a clear majority opinion of the scientists, so it is a consensus. It is very obvious from their papers what they think, and how many of them think it. You don’t have to manufacture anything when the scientists speak so clearly for themselves.

      • Jim D,

        Perhaps you should apply your demand of proof to AGW claims. Just for balance.

        Andrew

      • The proof is in the published data. What else do you want?

      • Jim D,

        Perhaps you could be helpful and quote and link the “proof”.

        Andrew

      • It would be helpful if I knew your reading level. What is your favorite skeptical publication?

      • Jim D,

        Please quote and link whatever you think constitutes the “proof”. If you won’t/can’t just say so. I’ll not think less of you.

        Andrew

      • IPCC AR4 WG1 makes a good case for proof. Read that and maybe some papers it refers to, and see which specific parts you disagree with, then we can discuss.

      • Again, no quotes or links.

        Andrew

      • Google search IPCC AR4 and then look at the WG1 report on the main IPCC page. It is only 1000 pages, but you can read the summary for policy makers to get an overview.

      • On which page will I encounter the “proof”?

        Andrew

      • Have you heard of the term “weight of evidence”? It is 1000 pages of evidence. How much do you want?

      • Jim D,

        A report is not “evidence”.

        Andrew

      • Jim D is saying that whatever the weather in Moscow on Apr 26, 1957, all one has to do is read a copy of the “Pravda” newspaper for that day. If it said it was going to rain, then it was evidently going to rain.

        Nobody has ever heard of “Pravda” misrepresenting reality, after all.

      • If you think that, you are not familiar with it. It will challenge your pre-conceived opinions for sure, so it is worth it just as a learning aid, which will then allow observational evidence to mean more to you as a proof. I think a lot of skeptics are blind to the proof in observations, but only through misunderstanding their significance.

      • Have you looked at the Arctic sea ice lately? Maybe that is some evidence too, but you do need the big picture to understand these pieces. One part of the big picture consensus (I use this word just to stay on topic), is that CO2 should warm the Arctic more quickly.

      • Have you looked at the Antarctic sea ice lately? Whatever the extension of sea ice, larger, equal or smaller than average, that same extension will always be interpreted as a consequence of global warming. IOW it matters not a jot what the sea ice extentions are.

      • omnologos, you probably know why the Arctic should be more sensitive than the Antarctic.

      • The IPPC report is not science. We’ve been told this countless times. It’s a summary of papers written about science. it does not contain proofs. it is a summary of other papers that purport to offer evidence. Those papers in turn are not science. they advertise science. The science they advertise is in the code and data those papers report on.

        Just to be logical about it for a minute. the IPCC report does not offer proof. it summarizes papers. those papers are not proof, they report about calculations made. they are not the calculations.

      • I always say you can’t prove the future, but the future can prove you right. Hansen’s 1981 Science prediction for global warming was spot on for the first 30 years, but that doesn’t prove the rest of his forecast will be correct.

      • (a) If temperature are on the up, it’s a safe bet to claim they will continue going up. Nobody will remember 30 years hence the guys that made the wrong prediction.

        (b) After the fact, any phenomenon can be linked to global warming. That’s why people argue the Arctic is “more sensitive” than Antarctica. It’s called hindsight and it’s the one piece of wisdom shared by every human being on this planet. Of course it says nothing about what we understand about the evolution of the climate.

      • Anyone who takes the time to read the 1000 pages will actually find the evidence in black and white – how scientific uncertainty in the detailed reports has been massaged into certainty for policymakers.

        If one doubts what uncertainty exists, also read “The IPCC report: what the lead authors really think”
        http://environmentalresearchweb.org/cws/article/opinion/35820

        Then read the IAC review of the IPCC which describes in black and white how to fix all the problems in the IPCC processes which resulted in the biased “consensus” output.
        http://reviewipcc.interacademycouncil.net/

        There is no doubt and a load of evidence showing that consensus wa manufactured.

      • It appears the IPCC manufactured the “consensus”.

        That’s just an assertion. No evidence for it has been offered. Perhaps you’d like to supply some?

      • I would say that a consensus just “is”. It can’t be “manufactured”. On the other hand, skepticism is very manufactured, being a set of disparate views cobbled together into something considered to be a whole when Lindzen and Spencer, for example, have fundamental disagreements among themselves even.

      • Jim D,
        You are attempting to redefine consensus so as to avoid dealing with the realities of the historic and current attempts of the AGW community to get the desired answer.
        I choose to reject your attempt to do this.
        The reason I refer to an AGW community is that there is not simply a scientific discussion. There is a great social movement made up of many people pushing a general idea: that we are experiencing a climate crisis caused by CO2 and that this crisis will get much worse the next few years.
        Scientists, business people, politicians, journalists, and plain citizens all share in this movement.
        Dodging around and saying that someone’s manipulation does not count because they are not a PhD but a politician instead is not acceptable.
        Popular manias like this have many people playing many roles. It is like an eco-system of social mania, with many niches to fill.

    • It is really a majority opinion rather than consensus, but that majority is at least 95% of the experts for significant AGW.To be more specific, I won’t say all of the 95% agree with all of the statements in the IPCC AR4 WG1 SPM, but specific things like the 2-4.5 C per doubling sensitivity range should include nearly all of this 95%. You really need a poll of specific experts on specific questions to define this better,

      • Latimer Alder

        A coupl eof questions.

        How many are there (absolute number) within your sample size when you say that 95% agree?

        And of those how many (absolute number) are actually directly involved with calculating sensitivity?

        Even if somebody is very knowledgeable about say, tree rings, that does not give her extra powers to be able to determine climate sensitivity. My suspicion is that outside of their own very narrow fields ‘climate scientists’ are as susceptible to Groupthink and wanting to support their colleagues as anybody else.

      • This was the PNAS Anderegg (and Schneider) study including over 1300 climate scientists. It was unfortunately labelled as a “black list” because it dared to come up with a list of the relatively small number of published scientists who were on the unconvinced side. 98% of the top 200 by their objective ranking were convinced of anthropogenic climate change, which is the general concept by which they classified. I would like to know how many don’t think the 2-4.5 C range covers the uncertainty.

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘but specific things like the 2-4.5 C per doubling sensitivity range should include nearly all of this 95%’

        But as that particular question wasn’t asked, you don’t actually know this,

        You may hypothesise it. You may have some good arguments as to why you think it to be true, You may ask a few of your friends and discover that they all think that you are right, You may have consensus that you ‘should’ be right.

        But you don;t actually have the results to show that it is true. And until you actually do the work of asking, you will never know.

      • You mean Schneider, the guy who rationalized scientists lying in order to get the larger message out?
        Schneider, the guy who re-interpreted Malthus, incorrectly, as a career?

  28. John Whitman

    JC,

    Hi, haven’t been here much for a while. Looks like you are thriving

    It does not appear to be accurate for you to say that climategate revealed nothing epistemologically incorrect about the climate scientific methods of the so-called consensus (IPCC focused).

    It was revealed in the Climategate affair that the epistemological process was manipulated toward acceptance of the so-called consensus science and rejection/muting of so-called skeptic (non-consensus) science (authors, papers and data). You say that is not part of how science knows (epistemology)?

    How do you justify rejection of many parts of the CA blog and also Montford’s The Hockey Stick Illusion?

    John

    • John Whitman

      JC,

      My above comment was refering to the following quote from you,

      “”””JC comment: Climategate was about the social aspects of the consensus. Whereas scientists rightly claimed that climategate changed nothing epistemically with regards to climate science, the public saw substantial problems with the procedures upon which the consensus was built.””””

      John

      • JC comment: Climategate was about the social aspects of the consensus. Whereas scientists rightly claimed that climategate changed nothing epistemically with regards to climate science, the public saw substantial problems with the procedures upon which the consensus was built.

        That really is the lightest of touches, almost giving climategate six of the best with a feather – when what it merited was a hobnailed boot right in its face.

        I don’t for one accept that climategate changed nothing epistemically. Harry read me made sure of that.

      • I, too, was dumbfounded that JCurry wrote that.

        If climate scientists knew that the Mann Hockey Stick was garbage, why did it appear on the cover of an IPCC report?

      • …If climate scientists knew that the Mann Hockey Stick was garbage, why did it appear on the cover of an IPCC report?…

        To support their overriding objectives of course. Politically funded science naturally serves its paymaster.

  29. “… significant government policies are seldom, if ever, based on consensus. Policies are set by legislation which is based on voting.”

    And voting is to a depressing extent based on pleasing constituents in order to ensure reelection, as well as doing the bidding of lobbyists which almost always serves the congressperson’s self-interest in some depressingly transparent way. In the rare instance that a piece of legislation is actually aligned with the public interest, it’s generally nothing more than a happy accident.

  30. ‘Jackie’ Curry (what would you think if someone wrote an entire article on you, and couldn’t even get your name right?)

    She is Jean Goodwin, not Jane Goodwin.

    You are inattentive to her argument in this particular paper. She is not questioning that there is strong agreement among scientists (you must have skipped the opening paragraph and how she frames her argument). What she is doing is critically examining the choice to communicate this agreement authoritatively (IPCC) in light of denialist culture e.g. denial of AIDS, denial of Big Tobacco in the United States. At the end of her examination, she concludes that while it may have initially seemed like a reasonable strategy for communicating the actual strength of the science, she thinks it has backfired and resulted in a defensive posture that has delayed policymaking, and legitimation of false controversy about the strength of the science i.e., climate change denial.

    She is a scholar of science communication and principles of ethical communication. You are a research scientist, and Chair of a Department. When you post the work of colleagues, you very frequently don’t bother to get their names right, never mind their discussion of issues. I’m wondering what you think any intelligent person seriously concerned about the issues thinks of that?

    • Your tactics of engaging in the politics of personal destruction is proof that you have no better argument… anti Bush America capitalism business Jews Christians Conservatives skeptics Tibeten
      Monks Walmart hamburgers Inalienable Rights

    • Willis Eschenbach

      Martha, you attack Judith saying:

      You are inattentive to her argument in this particular paper. She is not questioning that there is strong agreement among scientists (you must have skipped the opening paragraph and how she frames her argument).

      It is you who are inattentive. The author agrees that there is a “consensus”, but says that it is a manufactured consensus.

      Also, you make a big deal out of Judith getting the author’s name wrong … yeah, that’s a strong scientific argument all right. I’m sure you’ve never make typos or gotten anyone’s name wrong.

      w.

      • simon abingdon

        No Willis. Getting someone’s name wrong is not a typo, it’s just bad manners, I’m afraid. (That apart, I admire Judith greatly).

      • martha like to drop a single burning turd on the doorstep and run away.
        dont mess your boots stomping it out

      • Here’s Goodwin’s first goal:

        > My first goal for this paper is to give an account of the long-term work of rhetorical strategy or design which resulted in the “manufacture of consensus.” My second goal is to critique it. Now, it may seem unwise to cast doubt on a strategy that managed against all odds to achieve a result that many of us agree with. Further, it has been proposed that it is just such a scientific consensus—and not unobtainable “proof”—that can provide the basis for sound public policy (Oreskes “Science and Public Policy: What’s Proof Got to Do with It?”). Nevertheless, I hope to sketch an account of the IPCC’s rhetorical design which suggests that its success came at a price—a price which included contributing to the decades of political controversy over anthropogenic warming which it finally (at least for now) put to rest.

        Goodwin is studying the rhetorical design of the consensus, not the scientific basis of the consensus per se. There is a difference there. So this claim:

        > The author agrees that there is a “consensus”, but says that it is a manufactured consensus.

        does not render justice to Goodwin’t argument and justifies why “it may be unwise to cast doubt on a strategy that managed against all odds to achieve a result that many of us agree with.” This last quoted sentence also shows that Goodwin does not doubt that there is a consensus: it is a result “many of us agree with.”

        Besides, it would be interesting to know Goodwin’s opinion on the rhetorical design of the contrarian opinion we hear, here and elsewhere. By considering this design, Goodwin might have another perspective on the contribution of the consensus rhetorical device to the decades of political controversy. This would also compensate a bit for the incapacity of rhetoric to propose historical or causal explanations of the phenomenon it studies.

      • willard,
        Upon closer reading of Dr. Goodman’s paper, it is clear that she has fallen into he fallacy of surrendering her academic standing in order to become a coach for AGW promoters.
        She is just, in effect, a fresh face on the Schneider strategy of rationalizing fibbing and spinning to sell AGW or whatever new manifestation of Malthusian delusion will come next.

      • Thank you for your diagnosis.

        So let me understand how you did proceed to get this diagnosis.

        Your read closer the article.

        You now see clearly that Goodman is studying the rhetoric of “consensus”, that she’s not saying that there are no consensus.

        So now you see clearly that she’s fallen into interested hands of the AGW promoters.

        Alternatively, you now see clearly that she’s the victim of some Mathusean delusion.

        Am this process describing well the way you reached your diagnosis?

        It would be interesting to read a quote or two that could show to the world how deluded Goodman is, so every reasonable reader could reach the same sober diagnosis as you.

    • Martha, you are right, my mild dyslexia with spelling names disqualifies everything I have to say. Note the article is not on Jane or Jean Goodwin, it is on the arguments presented in one of her papers. Personally I regard spelling my name correctly or incorrectly as an irrelevance. My last name is not infrequently spelled as “Currie” (occasionally even on this blog) and I have never complained or commented about it. Your statements are invariably about the person, and not about the argument. My posts are about arguments and (almost) never about the person (the two posts on Mark Lynas were an exception).

      • Here is Martha’s main paragraph:

        > You are inattentive to her argument in this particular paper. She is not questioning that there is strong agreement among scientists (you must have skipped the opening paragraph and how she frames her argument). What she is doing is critically examining the choice to communicate this agreement authoritatively (IPCC) in light of denialist culture e.g. denial of AIDS, denial of Big Tobacco in the United States. At the end of her examination, she concludes that while it may have initially seemed like a reasonable strategy for communicating the actual strength of the science, she thinks it has backfired and resulted in a defensive posture that has delayed policymaking, and legitimation of false controversy about the strength of the science i.e., climate change denial.

        This paragraph is not about spelling. So this reply:

        > [Y]ou are right, my mild dyslexia with spelling names disqualifies everything I have to say.

        is a rhetorical device that deserves due diligence.

      • You misrepresent author arguments. That is the point. I noted the article was on her arguments, and I am noting that you misrepresent those arguments.

        Regarding the name thing – it is not the point, but it is not completely irrelevant, either. The context is that this is at least the sixth time in 2 or 3 months that your main blog has initially stated the author’s name wrong, and I have corrected you. Another of Goodwin’s points is that citizens cannot plow through the science and must rely on pragmatic evaluations of who they should trust, so I am saying that you cannot constantly misrepresent arguments and be seen as trustworthy (or sincere or competent) – and also that it doesn’t help with trust when you frequently can’t get something as straightforward as someone’s name right. You should at least know whose views you are discussing and take time to read enough of their work to accurately understand their main points of argument.

        Ironically, Goodwin is talking about how scientists can communicate in a manner that elicits trust. I don’t think misrepresenting arguments or not knowing who you are talking about is part of it.

        p.s. Judith? Pointless jokes about dyslexia (which you do not have) do not build trust – for example, with students who have this learning disability.

      • seriously spelling someones name wrong is completely irrelevant I’ve never heard it’s rude before is this a new thing?

    • How frequently is very frequently. Marth as usual WTF

      • Mathra is right. Spelling somebody’s name incorrectly shows lack of respect. Sometimes, it’s a “lack of” that has been hardly earned.

    • “she concludes that while it may have initially seemed like a reasonable strategy for communicating the actual strength of the science, she thinks it has backfired and resulted in a defensive posture that has delayed policymaking, and legitimation of false controversy about the strength of the science i.e., climate change denial. ”

      She cant believe that. That would mean she agrees with the Lukewarmers

    • Mathra,
      You are clearly a genius we should have all been listening to long ago.
      How could we possibly have gotten by so long, Mathra, whilst ignoring your profundity?
      Mathra, your wise, mature and sane comments, always finding a way to squeeze out a pro-AGW conclusion no matter the actual text or data, is worthy of that of Mikel Man, or Trenbreath, or Jonz.
      Please do keep us all informed and up to date, dear Mathra.

      • simon abingdon

        Hunter, this post is appalling. It’s just relentlessly childish and ad hom. Were you to meet Martha I imagine you would be mortified at having said anything like this. Remember, our words are there for ever on the internet. (If the gallery finds you amusing it’s to their shame).

      • Simon,
        You are right.
        My family is out of town, and idle hands are the devil’s workshop….
        I am ashamed that I lowered myself to Martha’s low standards and pointed out.
        And when the internet civility act gets passed, I am sure there will be a place in a North Dakota gulag where I and many other denialist scum can properly educated as to our wickedness.
        Simon, I was playing. Rough, but playing. Who better to play against than a Martha?

      • Hunter, I believe you misspelled her name, which might cause both confusion and anguish.

        Now Mothra…

      • Pricky! You have the forest in front of you and don’t just focus on the tip of a leaf.

  31. Judith:

    Whereas scientists rightly claimed that climategate changed nothing epistemically with regards to climate science, the public saw substantial problems with the procedures upon which the consensus was built.

    How do you define “the public,” and how are you quantifying the statement that they “saw substantial problems…?” What does “substantial” mean here?

    Perhaps you are confused as to whether the “denizens” reflect a wider public perspective?

    Do you know what % of “the public” have any in-depth knowledge of climategate to begin with? What % of “the public” think that an invalid, over-reaction to climategate from the “skeptical un-convinced/denier” side of the climate wars is actually more “substantial” than the degree to which the emails revealed anything problematic about the behavior of certain climate scientists?

    It is always interesting when your focus on “uncertainty” surfaces and when it remains unexamined.

    • Just as a bit of follow-up.

      I recently saw a poll that some 75% of the American public trust climate scientists as the source of information on the issue of climate change.

      Yet, slightly under 50% are convinced that climate change is anthropogenically driven.

      One possibility for reconciling those numbers is that a substantial portion of the American public are not aware of how most climate scientists view the phenomenon of AGW. Another possibility is that statements of relatively uniformity among climate scientists in viewpoint (i.e. belief that climate change is likely anthropogenically driven) are not accurate.

      But what the numbers don’t seem to support is the notion that “the public” has “substantial” problems, as the result of climategate, with how the “consensus” was built.

      • Latimer Alder

        Simple to reconcile.

        The ‘scientists’ tell the public the truth as they see it. But a substantial minority of the public do not find their arguments convincing.

        There is a considerable difference between being a source of information and being the Fount of All Wisdom.

      • “The ‘scientists’ tell the public the truth as they see it. But a substantial minority of the public do not find their arguments convincing.”

        Which is also the case with HIV denialism, evolution denialism, moon landing denialism, etc.

        The existence of deluded people does not imply either a lack of consensus among scientists, or a problem with the evidence scientists are presenting, or a problem in science communication. Deluded people are deluded. So what?

      • Robert –
        The existence of deluded people does not imply either a lack of consensus among scientists, or a problem with the evidence scientists are presenting, or a problem in science communication.

        Nor does it imply that the consensus is NOT manufactured or that the evidence does NOT have problems or that there is NOT a problem in science communication.

        Deluded people are deluded.

        Yes, you are. What are you going to do about that?

      • Question: do you believe that the rhetoric of consensus works?
        Question: do you believe that positioning opponents as merchants of doubt is SMART positioning? And if you position your opponents as merchants of doubt, what does that force you to sell?

      • It’s hard to say how well it work compared to other possible strategies. Polls show that people trust scientists far more than politicians or just about any other profession, and deniers acknowledge this by pretending to be scientists and dressing up their rhetoric with pseudoscientific jargon. So consensus among scientists would seem to be a potentially strong message.

        Should deniers be portrayed as merchants of doubt? Totally different question. Certainly as long as they are threatening scientists with death, threatening to rape their children, calling scientists Nazis and socialists and so forth, they should be portrayed as violent, ignorant thugs and fanatics, and as well as frauds and liars.

        We should leave the burden of proof on the individual denier to demonstrate that they are better than the disturbed vanguard of their movement.

      • Robert:
        I may in the unique position of being able to help you. Jean Goodwin has some interesting observations on her blog about debating “Deniers” like myself. It may be helpful for you to peruse her offerings here:

        http://scientistscitizens.wordpress.com/tag/morano/

        These posts predate her publication, and offer some really good advice. Education is the best weapon to defeat ignorance.

        Roy Weiler

      • Roy,
        My take on Goodwin’s blog is that she is so involved with trying to sell her pov that she makes the rooky mistake of plainly saying what she believes.
        The AGW consensus is manufactured, and she is so blind she does not see any negative implications in this.
        That seems to be a common train in the believer community.

      • simon abingdon

        Did you look at the address Roy Weiler mentioned above? (The analysis of the Morano/Maslin debate).

      • Yes, that is what led me to write what I wrote.
        Goodwin is one of the players whose self-righteousness leaves no room for self examination, apparently.

      • Ah so you fail at rhetoric. Consensus is the last rhetorical appeal one would make when talking about science.

        WRT, the merchants of doubt, you do even worse.

        I suspect that people with your skills have been running the show since it’s inception.

      • Mr. Mosher:
        Have you perused Jean Goodwin’s thoughts on the rhetoric? I think you will find them interesting. See above link.

        Roy Weiler

      • I’ve read it, and I think she gets some things right, but doesnt go deeply enough into her critique of the consensus strategy. As she sees it the success of the rhetorical strategy is really it’s undoing because it opened a space for legitimate counter play.

        The basic strategy of switching from epistemic grounds to the social ground they selected, in my view gets you a tie on the epistemic grounds and a loss on the social grounds. This, of course depends entirely on the audience which is something goodwin seems to ignore. That is, she doesnt seem to have a very keen sense of how the different strategies played or didnt play with various kinds of audience. A rhetorical analysis that doesnt get very deep into the audience is probably missing something. That said, I think she’s done a fair job for a draft.

        On the epistemic front an appeal to consensus draws immediate fire from the audience that understands that the consensus is occasionally wrong. thus a set of counter examples are set into play and the conversation is derailed into discussions of Einstein etc etc. Then too there is the whole settled science path of that argument. The point being that certain audiences are going to be put off by any appeal to authority, especially in science where their hereos are the individuals who bucked the system. Appealing to consensus buys you a whole host of side issues on the epistemic side of things. Far better would to appeal to the best science. The other thing she gets right is the attention to boundary keeping. What I’ve called the thin green line. Once a consensus is defined, then defining and defending that boundary becomes very important. The tactics used in defense of that boundary have backfired. The view taken of those outside the boundary or even on the boundary created the whole climategate episode. They should have co-opted Mcintyre. Better to have him inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in.

        if you do decide to switch to social grounds, I’m not so sure they understood how appeals to experts would backfire with certain audiences. They didnt think through how people would react to “government” science or to academic science.

        However, It’s not an easy problem because some people refuse to be persuaded of anything. Looking back it’s easy to spot the flaws. Knowing the flaws now, it’s silly to move forward with the same game plan.

      • simon abingdon

        Roy, I’m a bit puzzled. The link you gave was to Jean Goodwin’s analysis of the Morano/Maslin debate. Thank you. I found it fascinating and informative (has to be read in reverse order of course). I don’t think Steve Mosher (below) is talking about the same thing..

      • Simon:
        The link I placed was for the Morano/Maslin debate, but I suspect he went to the home page of her blog and read several of her other entries. They are in a similar vein, and also interesting reads.

        Roy

      • simon abingdon

        above not below

      • John Carpenter

        Robert,

        “Certainly as long as they are threatening scientists with death, threatening to rape their children…”

        Are you kidding?

      • No, he is using a failed rhetorical strategy. he thinks it’s a good argument, but he has not considered his PURPOSE or his AUDIENCE.

        Then again his purpose could be to piss you off. I trust he hasnt succeeded at that either.

      • John Carpenter

        No Steven,

        His comments only add entertainment value and seldom anything else.

      • Robert –
        Certainly as long as they are threatening scientists with death, threatening to rape their children, calling scientists Nazis and socialists and so forth, they should be portrayed as violent, ignorant thugs and fanatics, and as well as frauds and liars.

        So, more to the point, what should we call believers who do those things?

      • Robert
        Those stories about death threats on scientists will circulate as long as gullible people like you believe them.

      • .do you believe that the rhetoric of consensus works?

        As a rhetorical tactic, I don’t think that it has proved particularly effective. As described in the linked article, such a technique is vulnerable to certain, easily-predictable counter-techniques.

        However, that in itself doesn’t invalidate claims as to whether a consensus exists.

        Further, it doesn’t validate claims that a consensus doesn’t exist. It doesn’t validate obviously bogus attempts to undermine the facts on whether or not a consensus exists.

        do you believe that positioning opponents as merchants of doubt is SMART positioning?

        Again – the intelligence of positioning or the wisdom/effectiveness of rhetorical devices is different than identification of facts. And just because someone identifies the existence of merchants of doubt does not mean that that same person has chosen to make such an identification on the basis of rhetorical effectiveness.

        To the extent that climate scientists or people who investigate merchants of doubt are deliberately pursuing rhetorical strategies in the climate debate context, it must be recognized that those strategies do not exist in a vacuum. Merchants of doubt and invalid claims about levels of scientific consensus have been part of “denier” strategy on a variety of issues for decades. It is nice to wish that climate scientists and those who see a “consensus” would pursue more nuanced strategies – but it is also unrealistic. The climate war has been played out in ways very similar to other wars that overlap with scientific analysis – as Robert pointed out in his comment.

        There certainly is room to debate what is the “best” rhetorical approach, but I think that the best guide is to try to be as accurate as possible. To the extent that the “consensus” has been oversold, I think it is clearly a mistake regardless of whether statements of consensus are effective rhetorically. Similarly, I would criticize invalid attacks on the existence of a “consensus” even if they might be very effective rhetorically.

        So back to my original point. I have seen deliberately distorted analysis intended towards the rhetorical goal of undermining the degree to which a “consensus” does exist. That is why I think that while some 75% of the public trust climate scientists as a source of information, only somewhat less than 50% of the public view AGW similarly to the significant majority of climate scientists.

        Further, I find it unfortunate that while Judith might justifiably question how views of a “consensus” were built by the IPCC or tribally-influence climate scientists, she seems unwilling to be similarly critical of rhetoric from the “skeptical un-convinced/denier” side of the debate – rhetoric which is not in any way intended to improve the state of the science, but which instead is obviously, tribally motivated.

      • John Carpenter

        Joshua,

        “The climate war has been played out in ways very similar to other wars that overlap with scientific analysis”

        Looking at the debate about climate science as a ‘war’ certainly doesn’t help the rhetoric either.

      • I used the term metaphorically, and I think that it clearly matches that description. I usually use the term battle.

        At any rate, it is viewed as a war by some players on both sides of the debate. Wishing it weren’t so does little to change that reality.

      • John Carpenter

        It’s only a reality to those who look at it that way (clearly many do). I would hazard to guess most scientists active in researching climate science would not refer to the debate in such terms, though I concede such metaphors are commonplace. However, it is this type of argument analogy/mentality that heightens the level of the rhetoric to a more emotional level instead of keeping it at a scientific level. This makes debating more difficult, as it tends to become personal instead of remaining subjective. Then people begin to say silly things that really don’t advance the science in any way. It’s displayed here frequently as you know.

      • OK. I agree.

      • John –

        Related to your comment above:

        “….Today we are engaged in a great Civil War of testing whether our nation, or any nation, conceived in liberty and individual freedom, can long endure the calls to “save the planet” through strong government and world government to better control the use of energy, land, and air by constraining the freedom of its subjects.”

        The entire articles is focused on analogizing the climate debate to battles and war.

        http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/07/16/climate-reality-is-al-gores-gettysburg/

      • John Carpenter

        IMO it doesn’t work on either side of the debate. Both sides play to the emotions of the other and to those on their side. For me, it is entertainment value, something to sift through and smirk about, but in the end I don’t find it an effective approach any more than scare tactics used to advance CAGW. It succeeds in polarizing the debate, but does nothing to advance any common ground. Like fundamentalists of any movement, there are those on both sides of the debate who are merely interested in the battle itself. If a common ground solution were to present itself, it would be assailed by those on both sides of the extreme arguments that it would not be ‘good’ for us. They are not interested in ‘solving a problem’ as much as they are trying to advertising it or trying to minimize it, take your pick of the extreme.

        I have approached the problem myself from the skeptical side. I still do not think CO2 is the main driver of our climate. I take this view, not because I am an expert in climate science. I profess no expertise in the field (though I do read a lot about it… ironically little to none from WUWT). I take this POV from my experience as a research scientist who has grappled with ‘simple’ chemical reactions that, in the end, wind up being far more complex than what we thought initially. I see the science I do as a microcosm of ‘climate science’. Not in content, but in process of discovery. The similarities are striking for me as there are ideas I once ‘believed in’ that today I know to be false or not as influential as I initially thought.

        How we view the world and its workings comes from our own personal experiences, not from what we are told, right?

      • epic fail.
        merchant of doubt is not a fact, it is a metaphor.
        consensus is not a fact either, I will leave you to puzzle why it is not.

        Further, you persist in trying to hold Curry to a standard of behavior that you yourself do not exhibit. Is it any wonder that your argument on that issue has zero traction? Do you see how it fails?

        The failure of rhetorical strategy is something that you should think more clearly about.

      • Well – I’m flattered that you think that my post reached epic proportions. Thank you.

        When I refer to merchants of doubt, I’m referring to people who are motivated by financial, ideological, or other reasons to attack the “consensus” viewpoint or the existence of a consensus without regard to scientific validity or accurate analysis. While the size of that group of people, and the extent of their influence is debatable, I think it is well-established that such a group exists and has been involved in the climate debate and similar issues for a long time.

        The exact degree of consensus is certainly debatable – either with respect to the #’s of scientists who hold various viewpoints or with respect to the degree of uniformity in the detailed beliefs of scientists who support the viewpoint that GW is A with a 90% probability. But the basic idea that there is widespread uniformity within a range (i.e., that some 90-95% of scientists with high levels of expertise in the field agree that GW is A with a high probability), I consider to be reasonably well-established as fact. Further, I have seen clearly bogus attempts to diminish the extent of that uniformity as I mentioned above.

        I don’t see why standards exhibited or not exhibited by me should be a basis on which to judge what standards Judith should uphold. I put “You’re a bigger one,” and “I know you are but what am I?,” in the same category as “Mommy, mommy, they did it firrrrssssttt.” (or “….they do it toooouuuuu”). Not bad for an elementary school argument, but hopefully seen as insufficient among adults.

        But thank you for the pointers on rhetoric. It always means so much to me to get pointers from experts on rhetoric like yourself who have mastered such complex rhetorical devices such as “That’s retarded,” and the nuanced use of all caps.to stress a point.

      • You’re fail was epic, not your post.
        Here too you fail. The issue I raised was the usefulness of the merchants of doubt metaphor. I think it fails on rhetorical grounds and factual grounds. Doubt is not their product. Confusion is. When they are positioned as selling doubt, then almost of necessity we are forced to sell a differentiated product: certainty. And that is problematic since we never have certainty. So the metaphor of the merchants of doubt is both rhetorically short sighted and factually inaccurate. They primarily sold confusion. And of course confusion results in doubt. on the issue of consensus. The problem of course is defining what the consensus is exactly. It’s not a fact. It’s a perception that has to constantly be managed and controlled. Hence the problem of boundaries.

        And you still dont get that people are going to expect you to live up to the standards you demand of other. That’s retarded. If your aim is to change Judith’s behavior, your approach wont work. if your aim is to convince those who like her to change their minds, that wont work either. Can you figure what my aim with you is? Are you even aware that it is working

      • Steve Mosher says:
        ” And of course confusion results in doubt. on the issue of consensus”

        Confusion is the natural state of a young science dealing with a currently intractable problem in measurement and interpretation of data.

        Consensus by exclusion is a device for creating the illusion of certainty.

      • andrew adams

        “Merchants of doubt” is a description of actual behavious by real people and organisations. People might disagree about the way the described behaviour has been characterised or the extent to which is has had an influence, but a “metaphor” it ain’t. Whether “doubt” or “confusion” is the more appropriate expression is just a question of semantics.

      • aa,
        You call them ‘merchants of doubt’. Informed reasonable people call them ‘people asking good questions.’

      • andrew adams

        hunter,

        No, the “Merchants of Doubt” and “people asking good questions” are entirely separate and distinct groups of people.

      • aa –
        Then why do you and your compatriots lump them together into one group?

      • Because, seemingly high-minded protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, to merchants of certainty like AA, there is no difference.

      • aa,
        Only from your pov. I think Lindzen, Spencer, and add in Watts tot he list, are doing much more service to the public than any number of Romm’s, Hansen’s, or Schmitz’s.
        I would suggest that historically merchants of doom, selling apocalyptic crap for a high price, are much more common.
        And your side owns that role.

      • andrew adams

        Jim,

        Personally I don’t lump them all together, in fact I rarely get involved in arguments about the “merchants of doubt” although I do object when people pretend it is not a real phenomenon. As for others, well I’m sure that sometimes over-generalisations are made but on the whole we really don’t think that skeptics are all in the pay of oil companies and right wing think tanks. Which is not to say they are all merely “people asking questions” either, there are different shades of opinion in between.

      • we really don’t think that skeptics are all in the pay of oil companies and right wing think tanks. .

        We do though know that that alarmist scientists are all in the pay of government.

      • andrew adams

        hunter,

        I think Lindzen and Spencer (and Cristie for that matter) are mistaken in some of the claims they make, especially WRT climate sensitvity, but they are working scientists making their arguments through the peer reviewed literature (notwithstanding some silly things Lindzen has said in the press) – I’m not sure I would include them with the “merchants of doubt”. Watts, I’m not so sure – I certainly don’t think he does what he does for financial gain, I’m not going to speculate as to his motives, but there is an awful lot of nonsense and misinformation on his site.

        I certainly have no problem with Schmidt or Hansen and I have some respect for both, especially Hansen. As for Romm, he needs to tone down the personal attacks sometimes but he is right on most things and covers a wide and interesting range of issues. Of course the skeptics don’t like him, they are not supposed to.

      • AA I certainly have no problem with Schmidt or Hansen and I have some respect for both, especially Hansen

        For his prediction that New York would be under water by 2008? First class CAGW truther, Hansem, merchant of utter unquestioning credulousness and general political correctness. No wonder you admire him.

  32. Robin Guenier

    Discussion about the value of consensus is interesting and arguably important. But, regarding climate change, the discussion is relevant only if there is a scientific consensus. And I believe there is not. We are commonly referred to the Doran and Anderegg studies. But both are flawed and valueless as measures of scientific opinion on the key issues: (a) whether mankind’s “greenhouse” gas emissions were the principle cause of the late twentieth century temperature increase and (b) whether, if so, the continuation of such emissions would be dangerous for mankind and the planet.

    The only evidence of any value would be that derived from a properly conducted survey of a representative (by size and geography) sample of scientists with directly relevant skills (i.e. not any “climate scientists”) that investigated their opinion on these two questions. But no such survey has been conducted.

    In any case, although such a survey would be interesting and possibly persuasive, it would not be authoritative. Science’s escape from the authority of the consensus was a major achievement of the Enlightenment. As Thomas Huxley said (in defending Darwin): “In science, as in art, and, as I believe, in every other sphere of human activity, there may be wisdom in a multitude of counsellors, but it is only in one or two of them.”

    The challenge is to identify those one or two.

    • Robin Guenier

      there may be wisdom in a multitude of counsellors, but it is only in one or two of them.”

      The challenge is to identify those one or two.

      How about Lindzen and Spencer?

      Max

  33. Latimer Alder

    ‘Jackie’ is not simple misprint for ‘Judith’. But Jane is an anagram of Jean.

    Your analogy fails.

  34. Pooh, Dixie

    Would that we devote more time and money to finding out what is really going on, and less to the marketing.

    BTW, John Peter’s post above (http://judithcurry.com/2011/07/16/manufacturing-consensus/#comment-86857) has it right. Let me add, the idea of this blog is brilliant. It collects diverse viewpoints and source references about a topic. Most are on point, with the exception of those from bears of little brain.

    — Pooh

  35. James Evans

    I’m not entirely convinced that the core problem here is how the consensus position came in to being. Or how many people agree with it.

    A consensus of expert opinion is only as good as the evidence that it is based on. I have come across strong consensus positions in other disciplines that are based on the flimsiest of evidence. Of course, this tends to happen when flimsy evidence is all you’ve got to go on. And I think that climate science falls in to that category.

    It seems to me that there tends to be an intuitive notion that the larger the number of people who agree with the consensus, the more certain we should be that the consensus opinion is correct. I haven’t found this notion to be entirely true. If it was, then “truth” would best be found by a democratic vote.

  36. http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/climate-change/science/international-climate-negotiations/history-of-climate-negotiations/
    January-May 2001: The IPCC releases its Third Assessment Report, which states “There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.” Seventeen national and regional academies of science state: “The work of the … IPCC represents the consensus of the international science community on climate change science. We recognize IPCC as the world’s most reliable source of information … and endorse its method of achieving this consensus.”

    So here we have a consensus of academies endorsing a consensus of scientists delivered by the IPCC’s method for achieving consensus.

    Consensus Cubed.

  37. edward getty

    “Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

    There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.”

    –Michael Crichton, The Caltech Michelin Lecture, 17 January 2003

    • Latimer Alder

      Ain’t that the Truth, Brother!

      Especially the bit about ‘results that are verifiable by reference to the real world’. This simple concept seems to have evaded notice by those self-described as ‘leading climatologists’.

      Perhaps they were off sick the day they did ‘the scientific method’ or ‘experiments’ in primary school and never got to catch up.

  38. This consensus doesnt seem to be all conquering – even to the generation that has been indoctrinated throughout its education:

    http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fembed%2FAybBEuIpy44&h=XAQATy29F

  39. While it is possible to achieve some consensus on issues that have come up time and again in the IPCC reports (however you feel about that as a measure of accuracy), where does consensus come from for the new questions the IPCC should be asking?

    An example would be ‘why hasn’t it warmed in the last 10 years even though we have seen a fifth of man made CO2 emitted?’ Would the consensus answer be ‘China’s aerosol emissions’ since that is the only paper I know that tries to explain the hiatus? Would it be a consensus of one? Do we have to see a rebuttal paper to remove that conclusion from the final report? Will there be a poll of scientists on the issue?

    Or will there be a new section in the IPCC where all questions are answered ‘the computer says…’

    • The extended solar minimum was also a big factor in that paper. Most would not argue against that, I suspect.

      • JimD

        Those who argue that the recent solar slowdown has been a cause of the observed recent lack of warming would logically also accept that a significant portion of the observed 20th century warming could be attributed to the unusually high level of solar activity (highest in several thousand years), a major portion of which occurred in the first half of the century.

        As you wrote, “Most would not argue against that, I suspect.”

        Max

      • Yes, I think it can account for the 0.2 degrees in the early 20th century that CO2 can’t account for. No argument there.

  40. Example of consensus ‘science': The global warming charlatans now believe we will continue to experience a ‘bizarre and unpredictable weather phenomenon known as ‘summer.'”

  41. Many people have written comments stating essentially that consensus has no place in science. My view is different as I believe that consensus has a central proper role in science. In some ways I do, however, agree also on their view. My apparently contradictory views are due to the fact that there are opportunities for good consensus as well as bad consensus. The title of this posting refers to manufacturing consensus and that’s always on the bad side, if true.

    The good consensus is not a part of the scientific method, but it’s a part of the scientific process as the science does not produce well established results trough any other mechanism than by reaching consensus. That consensus is good only, when it’s reached based on large number of independent judgments. There is never full certainty that such consensus will persist as new results can break it and perhaps lead to a new consensus in time. Even the good consensus does not imply that everyone must agree with it, but it does require that opposing views are rare and without strong arguments to support them.

    To me the biggest fundamental problem of IPCC is that it’s more or less guaranteed to break the normal process of formation of good consensus. With best effort a body that tries to reach a common view – a consensus – on the content of a report will influence the normal scientific processes. That will happen even when the wishes of Bert Bolin are followed and differing views of scientists are reported as any single document cannot represent all views on equal footing. There is always a need to choose from different alternative formulations and there’s always the need to decide which papers and views are included and how they are represented. Aiming at a consensus in the formulation of the report is already manufactured consensus even, when the agreed text tells that there are conflicting views among scientists.

    Declaring one report as the definitive description of the state of science is bad for science, however well it’s produced. I started by stating that there is good consensus and bad consensus. Having a body like IPCC makes it only more difficult to determine, whether an apparent consensus is good or bad. That is the fundamental problem of IPCC.

    The IPCC reports are on the other hand useful also for the scientists as they include an extensive list of publications with some comments on their content, but the advantages cannot cancel the disadvantages. A compilation of references could be much more impartial, when it would be less restrictive and the short descriptions of the papers would not be thought as evaluations of their scientific value. Using such a list would be more cumbersome, but it would not imply manufactured consensus.

    The other side of the problem is the need of decision makers to get information on the state of science. The perceived need for IPCC is easy to see from this side of the issue. The IPCC is, however, problematic from that point of view as well. Some issues are really understood well enough to warrant description as well established scientific “consensus” knowledge, having reached the state of “good consensus”. Such knowledge is, however, very limited in scope and far from sufficient to justify policy decisions by itself. Many people have concluded that the great certainty of that knowledge should be given very much weight in decision making when other factors are not as well known. That’s not a good argument. No piece of knowledge should have any more weight than the significance of its substance warrants, not even when it’s the only well known part of the arguments. The IPCC type of consensus has strengthened very much the pressure exercised by people, who think that their knowledge of climate science gives them also a knowledge of right policies.

    • We all stand on the shoulders of giants. Sorry its cannot grow without trust in the honor of other scientists. Government scientists of the global warming alarmist industry have to be used that trust.

    • Pekka

      You suggest that there is “good” consensus as well as “bad” consensus.

      I suppose that you agree with Judith (plus Goodwin and Lehrer) that a “manufactured” consensus “that has been reached by intent”, such as that, which we see being promoted by the IPCC process, is “conspiratorial” and, hence “bad” (in your opinion).

      Just to clear up this point.

      Max

      • Max,
        Read again the last sentence of my first paragraph.

      • Thanks, Pekka, I read it again.

        From it i take it we are in agreement that a “manufactured” consensus “that has been reached by intent”, such as that, which we see being promoted by the IPCC process, is “conspiratorial”and, hence “bad” (in your opinion).

        We agree!

        [Or do you believe that a “manufactured” consensus “that has been reached by intent”, such as that, which we see being promoted by the IPCC process, is NOT “conspiratorial”and, hence “good” (in your opinion)?]

        Max

      • The problems of consensus arise from the fact that the scientific process is not formalized. There are no written rules to be followed, making such rules is seen as damaging to the progress, because new important results can be created in so many different ways. The scientific process is maintained by the science community, which is again not formally defined, but easier to envision concretely than the scientific process. The science community is essentially the whole of people who work seriously to do science. Most of them work in academic institutions and research organizations that publish their results through scientific channels, but the community is not totally restricted to these people.

        The good consensus is reached, when almost all scientists with best knowledge on the particular issue agree on the conclusion based on their own judgment, which is not strongly influenced by the authority of a few individuals or by external pressure. The problem of IPCC is that it brings to the process an authoritarian element. IPCC is also a part in creation of external pressure on scientists. It may be argued, whether the IPCC itself creates pressure, but the main pressure comes from the use of IPCC reports by people making funding decisions and other decisions that affect scientists.

        When there are no formalized rules a strong player like IPCC has a position that makes it very difficult to judge, how much of the consensus has been reached as independently as is required for good consensus and how much by coercive processes. A wide consensus is still of some significance, but it’s not any more possible to tell, what is the level of good consensus. The contamination may be small, but it may also be large. That’s the problem of having an organization like IPCC.

        The role of intent in the problem that I see is not clear. My own judgment is that most of the problems are not due to clear intent, but rather created by the system. In some cases an intent can be identified, but only as an intermediary step in a process not created intentionally. This second alternative includes all cases where the actions originate from the judgments on results of climate science rather than from other goals or political views.

        The pure case of intent includes in my thinking those situations, where these other factors dominate. As on example that’s true for no-growth proponents, who have that ideology for non-climate reasons and, who try to use the climate issue as a tool in support of their other goals. The same applies to many green politicians as well as industry groups promoting renewable energy technologies. It’s natural that these groups tend also to accept the results of science that provide evidence for risks of climate change, but they react intentionally, because of the side benefits for their other goals.

        I have emphasized the fundamental problems that the existence of IPCC creates for science. There is on the other hand a need for something like IPCC. Thus I don’t say that IPCC should be totally dismantled. Rather my view is that a serious effort should be spent in finding the best compromise and perhaps a totally different organizational solution. The IAC assessment contained recommendations to the right direction, but in my view they were too superficial and didn’t go deeply enough to the heart of the problems. It should also be understood that a fundamental problem is not always serious in practice. That it’s fundamental means that it cannot be easily removed, but it’s actual influence may be rather small. One part of the dilemma is that it may be very difficult to judge, how serious the problem really is in practice. In case of IPCC my view is that the problem is very serious for some subject areas, but of little significance in some others.

  42. Thanks for finding and presenting this discussion, Judith.

  43. Judith Curry

    It appears to me that you have done an excellent job of summarizing the (ir)relevance of the “consensus” claim as it relates to climate science in your final statement:

    IPCC is a manufactured consensus that has been reached by intent. As such, Lehrer argued in 1975 that such a consensus is conspiratorial and irrelevant to our intellectual concern.
    The IPCC needs to lose the emphasis on consensus and pay far more attention to understanding uncertainty and to actual reasoning. I’ll close with this statement by Oppenheimer et al. (2007)

    “The establishment of consensus by the IPCC is no longer as important to governments as a full exploration of uncertainty”

    .

    Will IPCC back off of its “emphasis on consensus and pay far more attention to understanding uncertainty and to actual reasoning”?

    You may be more optimistic on this than I am, Judith, but I, personally, believe that this is unlikely, as long as the current IPCC management remains in place and the IPCC brief remains to study and report the potentially negative impacts of anthropogenic climate change on our society and environment, rather than to explore all the great uncertainty related to the natural as well as anthropogenic causes of changes in our planet’s climate and to present an unbiased picture of the results.

    Max

  44. To me, consensus seems to be the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies. So it is something in which no one believes and to which no one objects.

    ~ M.Thatcher

    • PS: Of course it’s utterly cynical that Maggie was one of the founding parents of the AGW craze…

    • Thatcher is often quoted out of context and without any regard for what was meant as saying “There is no such thing as society.” She said: “and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help look after our neighbour” and “If children have a problem, it is society that is at fault. There is no such thing as society. There is living tapestry of men and women and people and the beauty of that tapestry and the quality of our lives will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and each of us prepared to turn round and help by our own efforts those who are unfortunate.”

      In the CAGW context, there are individuals and groups who “cast their problems” on humanity as a whole from a very skewed perspective, and who need to claim expert consensus to overcome the innate commonsense of the masses. There are signs in Australia and elswhere that this hitherto successful approach is breaking down.

  45. As such, Lehrer argued in 1975 that such a consensus is conspiratorial and irrelevant to our intellectual concern.

    More accurately, Lehrer asserted that. No real argument for the position is given, nor any objective way of characterizing “good” vs “bad” consensus.

    But there is another interesting assumption in your statement — the idea that your readers have intellectual concerns. Given the lack of interest in understanding or even being able to describe scientific findings exhibited by many of your followers — TonyB comes to mine — I question whether such determined anti-intellectuals have “intellectual concerns.” I think the argument for that has not been made. They clearly have political concerns, but the rest remains to be demonstrated.

    And that presents another problem with the argument. One would think that if the attempt by real scientists to come to a broad agreement about the central facts of climate change is conspiratorial, then the effort by belligerent right-wing fanatics, conspiracy nuts, fossil fuel money, and fundamentalist libertarians to discover or invent some reason not to take action on climate climate would be considered conspiratorial, and hence irrelevant to the broader community’s intellectual concerns.

    • John Whitman

      Robert,

      What the IPCC has done and continues to do is widely claimed by the IPCC and its supporters to represent something that is a sufficiently universal/unimpeachable climate science consensus. Contrary to that, I think the simple point is now being made on a very broad basis by independent thinkers that the IPCC’s mere word ‘consensus’ is just an arbitrary marketing name brand of the IPCC used solely for selling its AGWist product; the so-called IPCC ‘consensus’ having virtually no voluntary scientific component and having no actual objective claim to scientific authority or even general agreement. The independent thinker’s view is predominant now and does represent the traditional pre-PNS view.

      On a different point, you disparage commenters as anti-intellectuals and mention intellectual also; seeming to infer your innate ability to sort out who is what. That does not seem intellectually fruitful, that is if by chance you style yourself as an intellectual’s intellectual. :^)

      John

    • John Carpenter

      Robert,

      An interesting analysis coming from someone who does not give any information about himself on his own blog… i.e. no ‘About’ tab to indicate who you are and what your background is or your education and/or degrees in what field(s) you may have earned or what you do for a living. Anonymity doesn’t work so well once you enter the public arena via your own climate blog… inquiring minds (with intellectuals if you will) will want to know the basis for your climate expertise. Can you share that info?

      Ironically, the bulk of your comments posted here mostly come across as political rants from the ‘other’ side of the debate no different than those you label as ‘anti-intellectuals’.

  46. Will IPCC back off of its “emphasis on consensus and pay far more attention to understanding uncertainty and to actual reasoning”?

    If they do, you won’t like it. Right now the IPCC moves at the speed of the slowest boat — findings are heavily qualified and estimates of impacts modest.

    Less emphasis on consensus means tougher talk about the speed and scale of climate change, because that’s where the data is. You have to remember that you are talking about actual scientists who reason from evidence, not the rationalization and cherry-picking that passes for reasoning in your tribe.

    • Robert

      If IPCC starts concentrating on clearing up uncertainty regarding natural as well as anthropogenic factors influencing our climate rather than myopically fixating on anthropogenic factors alone in order to sell its story of alarming AGW, I would be very happy.

      But, under the current management and with its current charter plus the corrupted IPCC process that is now in place, this is highly unlikely.to happen.

      Max

      • “If IPCC starts concentrating on clearing up uncertainty . . .”

        I think you are aping what you have heard better-educated people claim. Much as you might like the IPCC to stop looking at the evidence from the physical world, as scientists, that’s really their thing.

        If you think there’s something you know about uncertainty and how to deal with it that they don’t, write it up and drop me a line when it’s published. And remember, “Peer review or it didn’t happen.”

      • Sorry, Robert, you’re waffling again.

        The topic here is “bad” consensus (i.e. “consensus reached by intent”).

        Part and parcel of this is the IPCC tendency to understate uncertainty in order to support the “consensus” it intends to reach.

        IPCC is not “looking at the evidence from the physical world” (as you put it) but rather relying on model simulations based largely on theoretical deliberations backed by some rather subjective interpretations of dicey paleo-climate data from hand-selected past geological periods, in order to arrive at its (preconceived) “consensus” conclusions.that humanity is changing our climate in a primarily negative direction and at an alarming rate – all to support its agenda on carbon controls.

        The IPCC process was suspect from the very start, based on its political genesis, and it has become more corrupted as time has progressed, as has been evidenced by climategate and the many examples of IPCC falsehoods, exaggerations and omissions, which have emerged..

        To ignore all this is sticking one’s head in the sand in the silliest form of “denial”.

        Max

      • Robert,

        “Peer review or it didn’t happen.” Will you please direct me to some of your peer-reviewed work?

    • Latimer Alder

      Perhaps you’d like to go back a wee while to this unanswered question to you on another thread

      http://judithcurry.com/2011/07/12/historic-variations-in-sea-levels-part-1-from-the-holocene-to-romans/#comment-86159

      And maybe you will use the answers to show us all exactly how ‘the actual scientists who reason from evidence’ would answer it.

      As a reminder you had baldly stated that tonyb’s references showed the exact opposite of what he claimed. I asked you to provide three examples, to prove your assertion with for each:

      1. The actual reference
      2. Tonyb’s interpretation of that reference
      3. Your discussion of why the reference in fact shows the exact opposite,

      So far this request has gone unanswered after two days. I look forward to your masterclass in scientific reasoning.

      Over to you,

      • You are really grossly overestimating your importance in my life. I don’t know what’s sadder; that you think I comb this blog every day through the hundreds of comments for your questions, or that you think your silly question warrants double-posting.

        So what part of the quotes were unclear to you? Find the citations in tony’s post; they are all his sources.

        As for a “masterclass”; anytime after your check clears. Your prereqs will be waved. ;)

      • Latimer Alder

        So you cannot provide any evidence to back up your assertion then? We are to accept it as the word from Mount Olympus? A drive by remark without any substance.

        Clearly demonstrates your ability ‘as a scientist who reasons from evidence’..

        Thought so.

      • simon abingdon

        “I look forward to your masterclass in scientific reasoning”. Latimer, you don’t have to be so confrontational. I know you’re sure of your position but always be aware that perhaps you may have wrongly rejected other possibilities. Listen to contrary points of view with an open mind (like me you may be wrong on the whole global warming issue after all) . Sometimes when I go to realclimate I realize there are some very able guys there (despite a few hanger-on dimwits) that I could never hope to keep up with. Despite all the climategates etc they know more than we do. AGW will work its way through if only because time will tell. Be patient (difficult when you’re my age). Be humble (it’s hard I know).

      • Latimer Alder

        @Simon

        When a contributor presents evidence with their views and is prepared to defend it, I am happy to listen and learn.

        But not every contributor does so. And when no evidence is presented it is helpful to ask for it so that we can all assess the strength of that particular argument. Oft times we find that the most dogmatically assertive commentators have the least evidence, and it is worth making that very clear.

        I’m sorry if you consider such an approach to be confrontational. Barry Woods wrote elsewhere about a similar objection that

        ‘I perceive it as no more than in business a customer asking some tough questions of a supplier, with a multi-million dollar contract at stake’.

        which I think is a fair summary. You’ll not be surprised to learn that (like Barry) I spent a considerable amount of my time in business negotiating multi-million dollar contracts – both as a purchaser and as a supplier, Seems to me that direct robust question and answer is a good way of sorting the wheat form the chaff. And there is a lot of chaff around..

  47. Unfortunately, the need for boundary work also likely created temptations to make illegitimate attacks on the scientific credibility of opponents whose views did not fit with the consensus.

    But what if the vast majority of them had no scientific credibility to begin with? Problem solved, yes?

    What the article ignores (or at least the parts of it Dr. Curry is quoting) is how emphasis on the existing consensus inevitably became more prominent as pseudoskeptics used a variety of deceptive rhetorical techniques to try and create the impression of scientists in conflict, and great uncertainty and doubt. Fake experts were heavily sold to the public, people like Monckton and Watts and Bastardi, McIntyre and so on and so forth.

    Their actual resumes are illuminating. Scott Armstrong (who calls himself a “scientific forecaster” and claims to make “scientific predictions” in contrast to climate scientists — his degree is in marketing. Monckton, of course, has a degree in journalism. He likes to claim to have been a “science adviser” to Thatcher, but that of course is a lie. There’s a guy around here who calls himself a scientist, but a little work with Google reveals his degree is in philosophy. Lomborg, of course, is neither an environmentalism nor a skeptic nor a scientist nor an economist — he majored in business. Yet he is frequently introduced on national television as a scientist.

    So I think it behooves us to consider that the rhetoric of consensus is not the same thing as the enforcement or manufacture of consensus, and that an emphasis on the qualifications of the actual scientists and their broad areas of agreement is a natural and predictable response to the emergence of a group of people, very active in the media, who have misrepresented their qualifications and built an impression of scientific controversy in areas where there is no real controversy to speak of.

  48. The title of this posting refers to manufacturing consensus and that’s always on the bad side, if true.

    You could say that’s true as a tautology, but I doubt you can give a practical definition of “manufacturing consensus” that does not include elements of the work of science that everyone recognizes as good. Teaching students, for example, involves a “manufactured consensus” about many things — you have to learn and master information and techniques and theories, and “dissent” is punished with institutional sanctions. Yet you gotta learn the basic stuff, and chemistry class is not going to stop for the guy that thinks God made only four elements and the periodic table is a lie.

    And how are we going to rigorously distinguish between manufacturing consensus, and achieving consensus? An argument is always going to involve pressure on the opponent to change their mind. If we “manufacture consensus” with evidence that destroys the opposing view and makes it an embarrassment to those who hold it, presumably that’s not a bad thing. Still, social pressure is involved.

    I think it’s easier to think about other kinds of denial — HIV denial, moon landing denial, vaccine safety denial. The broader picture of the crazy things some people believe make it clear that we do need a way of distinguishing interesting but unpopular ideas from discredited nonsense. The distinction is necessary to science, and it is necessary to society, because deniers peddling pseudoscience inflict real harm.

    • I’ve never ‘denied’ HIV, moon landing nor vaccine safety – in fact I’ve argued for those positions.
      Yet, I’m called a denier for simply questioning some dodgy assertion made by some anonymous poster on a blog????

      Does nobody see anything wrong with that?

    • intrepid_wanders

      Looks like the “Red-Herring Trolls” are out. It is amazing how these trolls or zombies continue to indulge in Economic Fallacy time after time after time…
      http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=4114

      I admit to the the occasional dismissal of NGO reports out of hand, and thereby guilty as well, but WOW, the “moon-landing denial”, “vaccine denial”, “tobacco denial”, whatever denial… it is beyond tedious.

      I will exercise my economic fallacy of logic and discount these trolls out of hand.

    • Robert

      You wrote:

      I doubt you can give a practical definition of “manufacturing consensus” that does not include elements of the work of science that everyone recognizes as good.

      Here is one for you to think about, Robert.

      IPCC was created as a political body to investigate whether human-induced changes in out climate would bring detrimental results and, if so, to come up with suggestions for actions to mitigate against these.

      No “human-induced changes” = no need for IPCC to continue its existence.

      No “detrimental results” = no need for IPCC to continue its existence.

      Therefore, there needed to be “human-induced changes” leading to “detrimental results” for IPCC to continue to exist (and ALL bureaucratic committees want to continue to exist).

      This required “manufacturing” a “consensus” to support the premise that “human induced changes” would lead to “detrimental results” unless “actions to mitigate against these” (i.e. carbon controls and taxes) were implemented.

      So we have “agenda driven science” to support a “consensus, which has been reached by intent”, and is hence “conspiratorial”.

      The whole process is corrupt as has been demonstrated.

      Changing subjects to your point: Has there been a fallout from this manufactured consensus that includes “elements of the work of science that everyone recognizes as good”?

      Undoubtedly the answer to this question is “yes”. New scientific knowledge has emerged from this effort, which is not directly related to the “manufactured consensus” (or may even oppose it directly).

      The CERES and ERBE satellite observations are giving us new data on Earth’s energy balance and on the role of clouds, for example. Various solar studies have given us an alternate view of the importance of solar forcing in the past. Studies of oscillations in ocean currents, such as the recent study on the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation cited by Judith, have also provided new knowledge, which is undoubtedly “good”. The CLOUD experiment at CERN may give us new data on the impact of cosmic rays on cloud formation.

      The main point here is that “objective science” (in search of answers to questions regarding scientific uncertainties) is “good science”, while “agenda driven science” (to support a “manufactured consensus” position, as is being promoted by the IPCC process) is “bad science”.

      I think you are astute enough to be able to tell the difference, Robert, but only if you really want to.

      Max

      • Max – I believe the original point goes even beyond that. Even when the science is solid and the consensus is reached by independent thinking, the presentation of policy-relevant science to the outside world as a series of authoritative statements rather than the open and frank interplay of theory and evidence, is always a disservice to policymakers and the general public, because it inevitably leads to an overemphasis on the authority and an underemphasis on the science.

      • andrew adams

        No “human-induced changes” = no need for IPCC to continue its existence.

        No “detrimental results” = no need for IPCC to continue its existence.

        Therefore, there needed to be “human-induced changes” leading to “detrimental results” for IPCC to continue to exist (and ALL bureaucratic committees want to continue to exist).

        Not really – there doesn’t have to be absolute certainty in either case, just sufficient possibility to warrant further investigation. If it had been demonstrated that there have been no human-induced changes to our climate and/or that the changes will not be detrimental in the long run then there would obviously not be any further need for the IPCC, but that is not the case. As it is, the IPCC could make a much weaker claims than those in AR4 and still justify its existence.

      • Since the IPCC has an all-embracing vested interest in finding that there IS cause for concern, it is inherenly biased and unsuited to address the problem.
        Its view on climate should thus simply be ignored – exactly like the view of tobacco companies on the health issues surrounding smoking should simply be ignored.

  49. Can vs. Did

    I believe man can change prevailing weather conditions as much as I believe a tornado can make a functional jet airplane from random junkyard parts.

    Andrew

  50. Jimmy Haigh

    Consensus = Groupthink = Consensus = …

  51. simon abingdon

    Not quite following, but “functional jet airplanes ” are indeed made from (the equivalent of) “random junkyard parts. That’s how we manufacture things. Mindless tornados can’t do it, but mankind just might be able (one day) to change “prevailing weather conditions”. Perhaps.

  52. “functional jet airplanes ” are indeed made from (the equivalent of) “random junkyard partse

    Simon, I must admit I’d like to read a further explanation of this statement. I always understood that functional jet airplanes are designed and then assembled using specific manufactured parts. (not junkyard parts)

    Andrew

    • simon abingdon

      Not “junkyard parts” but (the equivalent of ) “junkyard parts. Don’t waste time arguing with me coz I’m on your side.

  53. 7/16/11, Manufacturing(?) consensus

    Re consensus forming, peer review, alternate energy, skeptics, and utopia.

    The vote was taken at once, and it was agreed by an overwhelming majority …

    I have little more to say. I merely repeat, remember always your duty of enmity towards Man and all his ways. … Even when you have conquered him, do not adopt his vices. No animal must ever live in a house, or sleep in a bed, or wear clothes, or drink alcohol, or smoke tobacco, or touch money, or engage in trade. All the habits of Man are evil. …

    And now, comrades, I will tell you about my dream of last night. I cannot describe that dream to you. It was a dream of the earth as it will be when Man has vanished. …

    The singing of this song threw the animals into the wildest excitement. Almost before Major had reached the end, they had begun singing it for themselves. Even the stupidest of them had already picked up the tune and a few of the words, and as for the clever ones, such as the pigs and dogs, they had the entire song by heart within a few minutes. And then, after a few preliminary tries, the whole farm burst out into Beasts of England in tremendous unison. The cows lowed it, the dogs whined it, the sheep bleated it, the horses whinnied it, the ducks quacked it. …

    As the summer wore on, and the windmill neared completion, the rumours of an impending treacherous attack grew stronger and stronger. …

    So far from being decorated, he had been censured for showing cowardice in the battle. …

    And when they thought of … the enormous difference that would be made in their lives when the sails were turning and the dynamos running –– when they thought of all this, their tiredness forsook them and they gambolled round and round the windmill, uttering cries of triumph. …

    Like all of Napoleon’s speeches, it was short and to the point. He too, he said, was happy that the period of misunderstanding was at an end. For a long time there had been rumours –– circulated, he had reason to think, by some malignant enemy –– that there was something subversive and even revolutionary in the outlook of himself and his colleagues.

    Orwell, G, Animal Farm, 1945.

  54. me being one of the few humans that have read AR4 WG-I, I can state without worry of being corrected that there’s been a lot of consensus mostly at the end of “broken telephone” lines, with the original text often frank about uncertainties and the various summaries and summaries of summaries progressively forgetting all those very same uncertainties.

    I think the best example is the handling of the Solar contribution(s) to Earth surface temperatures. One starts with a wide range for the 90% (or 95%) accuracy window and ends up with only the (potentially meaningless) average getting any consideration in the summaries.

  55. Manufacturing(?) consensus

    At an IPCC Lead Authors’ meeting in New Zealand, I well remember a conversation over lunch with three Europeans, unknown to me but who served as authors on other chapters. I sat at their table because it was convenient.

    After introducing myself, I sat in silence as their discussion continued, which boiled down to this: “We must write this report so strongly that it will convince the US to sign the Kyoto Protocol.”

    Politics, at least for a few of the Lead Authors, was very much part and parcel of the process.

    John Christy, Professor of Atmospheric Science, University of Alabama
    http://bbc.in/nEvW5o

  56. Manufacturing(?) consensus

    At an IPCC Lead Authors’ meeting in New Zealand, I well remember a conversation over lunch with three Europeans, unknown to me but who served as authors on other chapters. I sat at their table because it was convenient.

    After introducing myself, I sat in silence as their discussion continued, which boiled down to this: “We must write this report so strongly that it will convince the US to sign the Kyoto Protocol.”

    Politics, at least for a few of the Lead Authors, was very much part and parcel of the process.

    http://bbc.in/nEvW5o

  57. Manufacturing(?) consensus

    They are worried that this may present a slightly more conservative
    approach to the risks than they are hearing from CSIRO. In particular,
    they would like to see the section on variability and extreme events
    beefed up if possible.

    http://bit.ly/pwFzHa

  58. Manufacturing(?) consensus

    THE PRINCIPLES OF CLIMATE CHANGE COMMUNICATION

    Why were the principles created?

    The game is communicating climate change; the rules will help us win it.

    A. Blowing away myths

    Many of the oft-repeated communications methods and messages
    of sustainable development have been dismissed by mainstream
    communicators, behaviour change experts and psychologists.
    Before we go into what works, our principles make a ‘clean sweep’
    of what doesn’t:

    1. Challenging habits of climate change communication

    Don’t rely on concern about children’s future or human survival instincts:
    Recent surveys show that people without children may care more
    about climate change than those with children. “Fight or flight” human
    survival instincts have a time limit measured in minutes – they are of
    little use for a change in climate measured in years.

    Don’t create fear without agency:
    Fear can create apathy if individuals have no ‘agency’ to act upon
    the threat. Use fear with great caution.

    Don’t attack or criticise home or family:
    It is unproductive to attack that which people hold dear.

    2. Forget the climate change detractors
    Those who deny climate change science are irritating, but
    unimportant. The argument is not about if we should deal with climate
    change, but how we should deal with climate change.

    3. There is no ‘rational man’
    The evidence discredits the ‘rational man’ theory – we rarely weigh
    objectively the value of different decisions and then take the clear
    self-interested choice.

    4. Information can’t work alone
    Providing information is not wrong; relying on information alone to
    change attitudes is wrong. Remember also that messages about
    saving money are important, but not that important.

    B. A new way of thinking

    Once we’ve eliminated the myths, there is room for some new
    ideas. These principles relate to some of the key ideas emerging
    from behaviour change modelling for sustainable development:

    5. Climate change must be ‘front of mind’ before persuasion works
    Currently, telling the public to take notice of climate change is
    as successful as selling tampons to men. People don’t realise
    (or remember) that climate change relates to them.

    6. Use both peripheral and central processing
    Attracting direct attention to an issue can change attitudes, but
    peripheral messages can be just as effective: a tabloid snapshot
    of Gwyneth Paltrow at a bus stop can help change attitudes to
    public transport.

    7. Link climate change mitigation to positive desires/aspirations
    Traditional marketing associates products with the aspirations of
    their target audience. Linking climate change mitigation to home
    improvement, self-improvement, green spaces or national pride are
    all worth investigating.

    8. Use transmitters and social learning
    People learn through social interaction, and some people are
    better teachers and trendsetters than others. Targeting these
    people will ensure that messages seem more trustworthy and are
    transmitted more effectively.

    9. Beware the impacts of cognitive dissonance
    Confronting someone with the difference between their attitude and
    their actions on climate change will make them more likely to change
    their attitude than their actions.

    C. Linking policy and communications
    These principles clearly deserve a separate section. All the evidence
    is clear – sometimes aggressively so – that ‘communications in the
    absence of policy’ will precipitate the failure of any climate change
    communications campaign right from the start:

    10. Everyone must use a clear and consistent explanation of climate change
    The public knows that climate change is important, but is less clear
    on exactly what it is and how it works.

    11. Government policy and communications on climate
    change must be consistent

    Don’t ‘build in’ inconsistency and failure from the start.

    D. Audience Principles
    In contrast to the myths, this section suggests some principles that
    do work. These principles are likely to lead directly to a set of general
    messages, although each poses a significant implementation challenge:

    12. Create ‘agency’ for combating climate change
    Agency is created when people know what to do, decide for
    themselves to do it, have access to the infrastructure in which to act,
    and understand that their contribution is important.

    13. Make climate change a ‘home’ not ‘away’ issue
    Climate change is a global issue, but we will feel its impact at home –
    and we can act on it at home.

    14. Raise the status of climate change mitigation behaviours
    Research shows that energy efficiency behaviours can make you
    seem poor and unattractive. We must work to overcome these
    emotional assumptions.

    15. Target specific groups
    A classic marketing rule, and one not always followed by climate
    change communications from government and other sources.

    E. Style Principles
    These principles lend some guidance on the evidence of stylistic
    themes that have a high chance of success:

    16. Create a trusted, credible, recognised voice on climate change
    We need trusted organisations and individuals that the media can
    call upon to explain the implications of climate change to the
    UK public.

    17. Use emotions and visuals
    Another classic marketing rule: changing behaviour by
    disseminating information doesn’t always work, but emotions
    and visuals usually do.

    E. Effective Management
    These principles are drawn primarily from the experience of others,
    both in their successes and in the problems they faced:

    18. The context affects everything
    The prioritisation of these principles must be subject to ongoing
    assessments of the UK climate change situation.

    19. The communications must be sustained over time
    All the most successful public awareness campaigns have been
    sustained consistently over many years.

    20. Partnered delivery of messages will be more successful
    Experience shows that partnered delivery is often a key component
    for projects that are large, complex and have many stakeholders.

    http://bit.ly/owP83h
    ************************
    If you are inspired or sceptical,
    have questions or want to know
    more, then please contact:

    “First they ignore you; then they laugh
    at you; then they fight you; then you win.”
    Mahatma Gandhi

    sustainability communications
    020 7733 6363
    http://www.futerra.co.uk
    climate@futerra.co.uk
    *****************************

    How “Orwellian” is the above “manipulative social phenomenon”?
    http://bit.ly/pvGpvA

    • Well spotted. I thought it was a spoof until I followed the link.

    • Notice that ‘telling the truth’ is a very very minor part of what the AGW promoters do.
      If we do what they do, but add to it what we have done all along, we will win.
      We tell the truth.
      The AGW promoters do not.

  59. tempterrain

    Judith,

    As Jean Goodwin writes ” the audience can shop around for a second opinion, and then excuse their non-compliance with the appeal on the grounds that the experts themselves seem to be divided.”

    So, according to JG, and in a way she’s probably right, its easy for anyone, regardless of their level of expertise, to find a so-called expert who’ll agree with whatever version of the truth they prefer. Scientific truth, then, becomes just another commodity to be chosen like a packet of soap-powder from the supermarket shelf.

    Unless , of course, you set aside personal preferences, which are usually linked to some quasi-political or quasi-religious world view and do go along with the scientific consensus. For the political left this does mean taking a more scientific approach to such questions as nuclear power and genetic engineering. They aren’t immune from ‘truth choice’ either. But, of course, on the subject of this blog, the ‘truth choosers’ are the political right who don’t like the political implications of an acceptance of the mainstream scientific opinion on climate change.

    • tempterrain

      PS. Before anyone else makes the comment that the scientific consensus is not always correct, I’ll just agree that it isn’t. But, I’d also just make the point that its turned out to be right much more often than not, so I would argue that it is the best guide we have.

      PPS And neither am I saying that the the scientific consensus is unchallengable. But you either have to be a world expert and really know what you are talking about, or a complete idiot to do that.

      • tempterrain,
        You write: “And neither am I saying that the the scientific consensus is unchallengable. But you either have to be a world expert and really know what you are talking about, or a complete idiot to do that.”

        No. You just have to have the facts on your side.

      • tempterrain

        Ron Cram,

        I think you might mean think you “have the facts on your side”

        The people at Conservapedia think they “have the facts on their side too” on the issue of Relativity. According to them:

        ” It is heavily promoted by liberals who like its encouragement of relativism and its tendency to mislead people in how they view the world.”

        “Despite wasting millions of taxpayer dollars searching for gravity waves predicted by the theory, none has ever been found. Sounds like global warming?”

        No prizes for guessing which side of the argument Conservapedia take on the AGW issue.

      • tt –
        And specifically which part of the Conservapedia article is wrong?

      • tempterrain

        For starters how about “The action-at-a-distance by Jss, described in Jhn 4:46-54 and Matt. 27:51.” ?

        The Bbl has something to say about Relativity? Conservapedia obviously thinks it does. Maybe that’s where they found some evidence of flaws in the IPCC case too.

      • tempterrain

        So I guess you have, in a way, to make a choice. A Wikipedia view of the world (rationality, science, sclrism) or a Conservapedia (irrationality , rlgion, right wing politics) view.

        That’s pretty much the AGW debate in a nutshell.

        PS Apologies if multiple copies of this suddenly appear but Judith’s spam filter seems to have taken exception to this post. Have tried abbreviating some words to fool it.

      • lolwot –
        So I guess you have, in a way, to make a choice. A Wikipedia view of the world (rationality, science, sclrism) or a Conservapedia (irrationality , rlgion, right wing politics) view.

        That’s utter nonsense. I subscribe to neither of those because neither is science. Nor are either of them what you imagine them to be. Wikipedia, for example, is a tainted source and has been so for years. Conservapedia I know little about and care less.

        That’s pretty much the AGW debate in a nutshell.

        If you believe that you’re either unconscious or a fool. Either way, you ‘ve cerainly not paid attention to this blog.

      • lolwot –
        The Bbl has something to say about Relativity? Conservapedia obviously thinks it does. Maybe that’s where they found some evidence of flaws in the IPCC case too.

        I might not defend their view, but can you prove that they’re wrong? If not, then your argument is nothing but opinion.

        Your problem is apparently your lack of tolerance for any view but your own. Which makes you a brother to the Young Earth Creationists you so despise. Or if you prefer, the radical Islamic fundamentalists.

    • I’m not aware of the political left in Australia taking a “scientific approach” to nuclear energy; au contraire.

  60. I look forwards to a balancing article about “manufactroversy”, the art of creating controversy where none existed. It is a valid term you can Google, and is now being applied to the global warming issue among others, Sophistry is another good word to talk about.

    • I recommend my colleague Leah Ceccarelli’s just-out article, “Manufactured Scientific Controversy: Science, Rhetoric, and Public Debate.” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 14, no. 2 (2011): 195-228.

      • Jean Goodwin,
        You seem remarkably free from self-examination in this issue.
        Do you ever doubt about which side you have taken, and how it might shape your perceptions?

      • simon abingdon

        You take sides hunter, I suppose. But wouldn’t you rather be a disinterested observer standing aloof on the sidelines in rapt fascination at the unfolding drama? (Perhaps like so many you just can’t afford such luxury. Too young, I imagine).

      • simon,
        I know I am a partisan in this, but I try to see the AGW mania through a stems perspective.

      • simon abingdon

        Maybe that should be “a team’s perspective”. If not, it’s not a phrase with which I’m familiar.

      • tempterrain

        “Stems” ? Me neither – as regards familiarity.

        But maybe if Hunter gets rid of the the ‘stems’ he’ll see a clearer picture. How about a scientific perspective?

      • typo- should have been “systems”.

      • John Whitman

        jeangoodwin,

        I appreciate the reference to your colleague’s paper.

        Your article posted here by JC was very stimulating and is getting good coverage by independents. Stop by more often.

        John

      • Oh, I’m a long-time, if only lurking, fan of Prof. Curry. But thanks for the official welcome!

        Ceccarelli’s essay is an extended (and substantially revised) version of a piece in Science Progress:
        http://www.scienceprogress.org/2008/04/manufactroversy/

        She told me that the editors coined “manufactroversy” for her.

      • Jean, I just realized you have a blog, ScientistsCitizens.wordpress.com, I REALLY like it, will add it to my blog roll.

      • A call-out from Ceccarelli’s post:

        > Today’s sophists exploit a public misconception about what science is, portraying it as a structure of complete consensus built from the steady accumulation of unassailable data.

        Studying the manufacroversy of this “consensus” counter-meme deserves due diligence.

      • A study of the **manufactroversy** of this counter-meme deserves even more diligence.

      • Thanks for stopping by. Nice work.

      • The word is an abomination and should be dropped as soon as possible.
        Those who use it are not going to accomplish what they would like to accomplish.
        What is a bit annoying is the idea that many in the AGW community are grasping, that somehow skeptics are simply by their very existence not worthy of serious engagement.
        That is simply an extension of the corruption exposed in climategate and is not working out. well for the AGW community.
        Frankly I hope the AGW community stays with that and adopts the other made up words.
        But I and many others hope that AGW believers will someday be able to actually engage on the topic. But as long as that underlying condescension and arrogance about who is serious or not continues that engagement will not happen.

      • Is there a non paywalled location? It does look interesting. The cAGW crowd uses so many tricks. Its time they start to engage in more productive debate.

        Abstract:

        This article examines three cases that have been identified by scholars as “manufactured” scientific controversies, in which rhetors seek to promote or delay public policy by announcing that there is an ongoing scientific debate about a matter for which there is actually an overwhelming scientific consensus. The comparative study of argumentative dynamics in the cases of AIDS dissent, global warming skepticism, and intelligent design reveals the deployment of rhetorical traps that take advantage of balancing norms and appeals to democratic values. It also reveals the ineffectual counterarguments marshalled by defenders of mainstream science. By exploring the inventional possibilities available to those who would respond to manufactured scientific controversies, this article equips readers and their students to confute deceptive arguments about science and engage in a more productive public debate. In so doing, this article initiates an Isocratean orientation to the rhetoric of science as a field of study.

    • Its ironic that “manufactroversy” is a manufactured word.

      Was it Leah Ceccarelli from Jean G’s comment below who came up with that word?

  61. Michael Larkin

    But why manufacture consensus? Because of the way the institution of science has become constituted, probably most significant being how it is funded.

    What there is, is a competition for funds. It pays to belong to, to acquiesce to, or at least not cross, those who control the funding. And those who control the funding, not unnaturally, favour the investigation of some things and not others. Some of this is legitimate – no point funding investigations into perpetual motion machines.

    I don’t think the majority of scientists see themselves as gatekeepers of prevailing paradigms. But they do have some idea of what it is legitimate to study, and what not. And, being human, they have moral scruples about what money should be made available for, and what not. Hence there may be an underlying kernel of goodwill.

    CAGW is not the only scientific area where there are severe problems with consensus and the way it is interfering with scientific progress, and with how, wittingly or unwittingly, it is interfacing with government and the media. I have just emailed Dr. Curry about this, hoping she might see fit to raise a topic about a suggestion.

    Namely, that the problem might be greatly ameliorated if a fixed, small proportion (5-10%?) of funding right across the spectrum of scientific areas of interest were set aside exclusively for investigating minority (or more likely, disapproved-by-the-powerful) ideas. By that I do not mean perpetual motion machines; there would have to be some gatekeeping, but the main point would be that the controllers would have to be genuinely committed to the idea of these kinds of investigation.

    It can be argued that most, if not all, paradigm-shifting scientific ideas have always been resisted by the old guard. And it stands to reason that if consensus always ruled the day, we’d be centuries if not millennia behind where we are now. Why not formalise and recognise a place for the investigation of non-mainstream ideas? Such as for investigation of the null hypothesis in AGW, or possible causes of AIDS other than HIV, or alternatives to Big Bang cosmology, and so on?

    After all, what do members of a consensus have to fear if their views are as strongly supported by the evidence as they claim? And if they could not interfere with the publication of contrarian studies (which could have independent journals as well as independent funding), there would always be a place for well-qualified mavericks to investigate. The greatest and most well-remembered scientists do tend to have been mavericks, after all.

    • The Bush administration funded a lot of the AR4 research, but I don’t think their funding agencies were able to deter the IPCC from coming to its conclusions, even though they did succeed in muzzling the government scientists to some degree. This proves that the science was funding-source neutral, if anything.

  62. Judith – I wish you wouldn’t dance around issues. I wish you would call it as it is. If its ‘consensus’ it isn’t science. It’s as simple as that.

    Einstein (when rebutting a consensus view of 100 German scientists who had attempted to discredit his recent theory of relativity) : “If I was wrong, it would have only taken one”.

    And another quote by someone I can’t remember : “The claim of consensus is the last refuge of the scoundrel, who attempting to stifle further debate, claims the matter is already settled”.

    Take the gloves off – if it’s consensus, it isn’t science.

  63. Michael Larkin

    Nonesense. First, this could only apply in the USA. Second, it is revealing that a supporter of the so-called consensus could ever see it as the subject of persecution.

  64. I hadn’t realized until reading Goodwin’s paper just how far back this “consensus” meme actually goes. The Climategate emails certainly point to a manufacturing of a pre-Kyoto “consensus” [see: The Fog of Uncertainty and the Precautionary Principle]

    It is also worth remembering – in combination with Goodwin’s arguments – that more recently, Mike Hulme (who, ironically was one of the pre-Kyoto “manufacturers”) has written:

    “Claims such as ’2,500 of the world’s leading scientists have reached a consensus that human activities are having a significant influence on the climate’ are disingenuous.

    “That particular consensus judgement, as are many others in the IPCC reports, is reached by only a few dozen experts in the specific field of detection and attribution studies; other IPCC authors are experts in other fields.” [emphasis added -hro]

    Hulme’s subsequent attempt to deflect responsibility for the pervasiveness of this consensus meme away from the IPCC seems somewhat disingenuous in light of Goodwin’s presentation of this consensus in its longstanding historical context.

  65. Part (maybe most) of the problem with the manufactured IPCC consensus, and similar, is that it is not just a consequence of sociology and politics, it is a (nearly irresistible and ultimate) tool being used to justify and drive a massive allocation of authority and resources to a self-selected group.

    By their own (widely published and available words) this was the explicit intent of promoting the issue and tying it to a newly formulated ultimate moral standard, “loving and caring for the planet.” That is, it was to produce a global population willing and eager to be deprived and taxed to benefit “the Earth and future generations”.

    If you don’t think it’s designed to do that, and being implemented successfully, talk to any school child about what is being taught and the source and nature of the learning materials used.

  66. jorgekafkazar

    Judith-san: Fascinating thread. Some comments (by others) seem to devolve about whether the deck chairs of Science should be placed on starboard deck or port. Given the iceberg dead ahead, they are probably less relevant in the greater context than this piece from exactly one hundred years ago:

    http://www.boot.com/quality.htm

  67. Read the following gem that matches the brainwashing in the USSR

    Climate change must be ‘front of mind’ before persuasion works. Currently, telling the public to take notice of climate change is
    as successful as selling tampons to men. People don’t realise
    (or remember) that climate change relates to them.

    http://bit.ly/owP83h

  68. Geoff Sherrington

    Much can be explained by Pavlov’s dog experiments (which were better done by a scientist named Sherrington in any case).
    Punishment and reward that are the operative words. What happens to those in climate work who perform very badly is not punished in any way I have seen – e.g. they are not now driving taxis in India. There is also a lack of reward for good work. Ever see a climate worker salivating? Because so much current work is academic work, the best than one can hope to gain from outstanding performance is faster promotion through the academic system. It’s far from enough reward.
    If climate change is so bloody important, give a million bucks to those who make real breakthroughs. Then see the consensus dissolve overnght, to be replaced by competition. And private enterprise participants set the pace.

    • Latimer Alder

      If you really, really thought that ‘the climate change challenge is one of the great human endeavours of all time’, would you construct the organisational edifice we have today to try to fix it?

      Would you rely on the basic work being done solely by a bunch of academics with no experience outside climatology. And use the academic reward system (publish or perish) as their incentives. Would you rely on the pathetic pal/peer review to be your only quality control mechanism? Would you subcontract fundamental data collection, curation and analysis to an organisation so inept as CRU (see Harry Read Me)?

      And would you then construct in top of this shaky academic structure the IPCC? And give it a remit to look only at ‘human-induced climate change’?
      Staff it with the very academics who do the gruntwork and ask them to objectively assess their own work? And then eventually to end up with a set of political horse-trading to come up with the summary for policy makers?

      Would this structure be the best that you can do? Does it represent the pinnacle of humanity’s abilities to organise ourselves? The epitome of all that we have learnt in a few thousand years of experimenting with structures?

      Or dos it represent a laughably inadequate way to tackle the problem? One that any organisational theorist would reject out of hand as being unfit for purpose and unlikely to succeed?

      Note to academics..the way organisations are put together really does make a difference to how successful that organisation becomes. It is not apparent that the conventional academic structure is good for much else than as a factory for churning out academic papers, Which sort of misses the point where climate change is required. The papers are not an end in themselves…we need some answers to the big questions. And academic discourse has been spectacularly bad at providing those. 30 years of effort still haven’t advanced our knowledge much beyond Arrhenius’s work in 1907. No new discoveries, no deep insights…..

  69. A paradigm in science is – in the view of Thomas Kuhn – not simply the current widely accepted theory but the zeitgeist – the world view of the scientist and all the attendant baggage. In such a young and complex field as climate – paradigms are fluid and partial. In the words of Tim Palmer – the head of the European Centre for Mid Range Forecasting – the data that we accumulate is uncertain, the models in which the data is used are uncertain and the trajectories of greenhouse gases in the environment are uncertain. We should therefore evaluate future climate as a probability of climate occupying at some time in the future a finite phase space – d(V)/dt.

    ‘When enough significant anomalies have accrued against a current paradigm, the scientific discipline is thrown into a state of crisis, according to Kuhn. During this crisis, new ideas, perhaps ones previously discarded, are tried. Eventually a new paradigm is formed, which gains its own new followers, and an intellectual “battle” takes place between the followers of the new paradigm and the hold-outs of the old paradigm. Again, for early 20th century physics, the transition between the Maxwellian electromagnetic worldview and the Einsteinian Relativistic worldview was neither instantaneous nor calm, and instead involved a protracted set of “attacks,” both with empirical data as well as rhetorical or philosophical arguments, by both sides, with the Einsteinian theory winning out in the long-run. Again, the weighing of evidence and importance of new data was fit through the human sieve: some scientists found the simplicity of Einstein’s equations to be most compelling, while some found them more complicated than the notion of Maxwell’s aether which they banished. Some found Eddington’s photographs of light bending around the sun to be compelling, some questioned their accuracy and meaning. Sometimes the convincing force is just time itself and the human toll it takes, Kuhn said, using a quote from Max Planck: “a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.’

    The evolution of climate science can be seen in the last thread – with decadal variability making up a large proportion of the 20th century surface temperature trajectory. It draws on a growing body of work dealing with decadal changes which itself draws on an established body of oceanographic science especially. But there is something more fundamental still. ‘The new paradigm of an abruptly changing climatic system has been well established by research over the last decade, but this new thinking is little known and scarcely appreciated in the wider community of natural and social scientists and policy-makers.

    Large, abrupt climate changes have repeatedly affected much or all of the earth, locally reaching as much as 10°C change in 10 years. Available evidence suggests that abrupt climate changes are not only possible but likely in the future, potentially with large impacts on ecosystems and societies.’ So we think there is a new paradigm of dynamical complexity in the terminology of chaos theory – or ‘phase space’ according to Tim Palmer – which will eventually prevail as the current generation turns up their toes.

    Consensus seems a different animal entirely. More of an idée fixe – ‘a preoccupation of mind held so firmly as to resist any attempt to modify it, a fixation.’ Manufactured consensus and unrealistic certainty are used to support social agendas based – primarily – on ideas of limits to growth. I have quoted before from ‘The Wrong Trousers: Radically Rethinking Climate Policy’ by Gwyn Prins & Steve Rayner. And if you are looking for real and pragmatic solutions – my forlorn hope – I would recommend the follow up Hartwell 2010 paper, the Copenhagen Consensus priorities and the Millennium Development Goals.

    ‘Although it has failed to produce its intended impact nevertheless the Kyoto Protocol has performed an important role. That role has been allegorical. Kyoto has permitted different groups to tell different stories about themselves to themselves and to others, often in superficially scientific language. But, as we are increasingly coming to understand, it is often not questions about science that are at stake in these discussions. The culturally potent idiom of the dispassionate scientific narrative is being employed to fight culture wars over competing social and ethical values. Nor is that to be seen as a defect. Of course choices between competing values are not made by relying upon scientific knowledge alone. What is wrong is to pretend that they are.’

    The discussions revolve around the same axes and come to rest in the same places – time and time again. This seems the nature of ordinary discourse in the climate wars. Make no mistake – it is not about science but is a global war against comfortable elites who have decided that there has been enough economic progress in the world.

    • Chief, Loved it all but the last half of the last sentence.

      The global war appears to be run by a combination of altruistic comfortable elite power brokers in advanced nations, who would prefer advancing economies elsewhere be stalled, and self-serving comfortable elite power brokers, who stand to make great personal wealth from trading in “bads” (which in an ordinary marketplace are worthless).

      And they are getting away with it by distancing the whole movement from true science by hypothesis generation and experimental testing.

    • tempterrain

      CH,

      “Again, for early 20th century physics, the transition between the Maxwellian electromagnetic worldview and the Einsteinian Relativistic worldview was neither instantaneous nor calm, and instead involved a protracted set of “attacks,” both with empirical data as well as rhetorical or philosophical arguments, by both sides, with the Einsteinian theory winning out in the long-run. “

      You’ve not got this right at all. There was no conflict, or winning out, between Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory and Einstein’s and Lorentzian Relativity. Maxwell wouldn’t have known it, but his equations are invariant under a Lorentzian transformation. Einstein saw the invariance of c , speed of light in Maxwell’s equations, and used them as his starting point for his later theory.

      See the heading “Maxwell’s equations and relativity” in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxwell's_equations

  70. At the beginning of the 21st century, the IPCC, the scientific community, the world governments, the media and environmentalists have accepted interpretation that global mean temperature data (local maximums) for 1880s, 1940s and 2000s that clearly lie on a single STRAIGHT LINE are accelerating!

    http://bit.ly/q8bZxt

    Note that global human emitted CO2 for 1880s was less than 3Gt, it was 111Gt for 1940s, and it was 975 Gt for 2000s.

    http://bit.ly/lEPc3P

    What a fraud?

    • tempterrain

      I’d just make two points:

      Warming is related to the total concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, not yearly emissions.

      The warming effect is also logarithmic in nature. So, if CO2 and other GHG emissions, and therefore also concentrations, increase approximately exponentially, then the warming is going to be approximately linear.

      So, no its not a fraud.

      • tt –
        Your logic needs some work.

        if CO2 and other GHG emissions, and therefore also concentrations, increase approximately exponentially

        The last part of that statement is nonsense. Think about it.

  71. A consensus means that everyone agrees to say collectively what no one believes individually.

    • Thank you.

      I wish I could be idealistic about science like I was in my university days.

      It has been a massive disappointment.

      • They need grant money from governments for a living, just human beings strife to survive in the 7 billions.

  72. John Q. Lurker

    It is legitimate to aim at consensus on what to do about something (or whether to do anything).

    It is not legitimate to aim at consensus on what is true of something.

    • No, actually is isn’t. A perpetual motion machine still won’t work, even if there’s a consensus that it’s what to do. Even policy has to bow to physical reality.

      • I think you might be in agreement here. If i may restate John Q Lurker. Consensus in policy formation is a good idea…consensus in determining the truth about something is a bad idea. Rather we should devote all our attention to things that are physically real (data) rather than to the person(s)- or their quantity- who saying it is true.

      • John Q. Lurker

        coniston: You pretty much understand my idea, but I can’t say that I’m in agreement with P.E. For all I know, he may believe that a policy consensus depends on a consensus on what is true. Of course, it does not. For example, we’re in a group of people searching for a lost treasure. Some of us think it’s in location A, and some of us think it’s in location B. If we can’t decide between them, we form a consensus around looking in both A and B in some manner.

      • John Q. Lurker

        P.E.: You misunderstand. When I speak of aiming at consensus on what to do about something, I am not speaking of aiming at consensus on some predetermined course of action, such as using a perpetual motion machine.

        In order to do something, it is necessary to seek consensus on what to do (unless there’s a dictator or the like), because nothing will be done without it. This does not require consensus on what is true.

        In order to know what is true, it is unnecessary and wrong to seek consensus, because the truth is not a result of compromise. Consensus either will or will not occur, depending on whether investigators agree on what is true. There is no use, nor even any good, in seeking to have them agree.

      • Your point is essential.

        That leaves the fact that one approach in searching for a consensus on what to do is to try to find out, whether there is something that might be called consensus on important issues that affect the decision. If there is an almost unanimous consensus of a large scientific community, whose members have studied the issue independently, we might conclude that the “consensus view” is very likely to be correct, and that observation should be taken into account in the decision on what to do.

        When the positive attributes:

        – almost unanimous consensus
        – large scientific community
        – views based on independent studies and judgment

        are not all true or are at best marginally true, the value of the majority view starts to decrease.

        It’s the responsibility of those who decide on, what to do, to determine, how they value the weaker majority view and how they take into account the views that differ from that of the majority.

      • John Q. Lurker

        Thanks, Pekka. As to trying to find out if there is a consensus, consensuses about things that very few people care about become known, so I have trouble believing that “trying to find out” is an important project.

    • tempterrain

      John Q Lurker,

      A consensus about what is true? Yes. That’s what science is all about. For instance Judith herself argues that the consensus on the GH effect which goes back over a hundred years is itself true.

      • tempterrain

        Judith herself argues that the consensus on the GH effect which goes back over a hundred years is itself true.

        The GHE is “true”

        It is “true” that CO2 is a GH gas.

        It is “true” that humans emit GH gases, notably CO2.

        But this does not mean that the premise is “true” a) that AGW, caused principally by human CO2 emissions, has been the cause of most of the warming since 1950 or b) that it, therefore, represents a serious threat to humanity or our environment.

        And that is what the whole debate is all about.

        Max

      • John Q. Lurker

        tempterrain: I’m talking about aiming at consensus. You’re ignoring the question of how the consensus comes about.

  73. OT but of interest.

    “There’s an interesting proposal being made at Anthony Watt’s site WUWT to fight the upcoming Al Gore Climate Reality Event scheduled for Sept. 14th 2011.”

    http://thepointman.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/the-al-gore-climate-reality-event-a-call-to-arms/

    Pointman

    • Here’s a quote you can add:
      “WUWT is predicting a recovery again this year, which we started mentioning as a prediction last fall.” – Anthony Watts and Steven Goddard, Spring 2010.

      Also of interest in coming years will be quotes from all those skeptics (bastardi, archibald, etc) who predicted cooling.

      The funny thing is there’s no need to even compile a list. Skeptics are effectively recording their own errors for prosperity in their blogs.

      Remember when skeptics were predicting cooling because the sunspots had gone? Followed by 2010 with it’s record tying warm year…

      All that’s on tap. Social scientists will have a ball in 20 years time analyzing the delusion of the skeptics.

      • lolwot –
        The funny thing is there’s no need to even compile a list. Skeptics are effectively recording their own errors for prosperity in their blogs.

        Prosperity??? Really????

        Remember when skeptics were predicting cooling because the sunspots had gone? Followed by 2010 with it’s record tying warm year…

        Record tying? Actually record breaking according to GISS – IIRC, by .001 degC with an uncertainty of .003 degC. Not very impressive. And evidence of a lack of warming for over a decade.

        It nailed down the no significant warming for xx years – which is a little hard for people like you to explain to Joe Average Bear without a whole lot of weasel words and outright lies.

      • I don’t think you’ve paid due consideration to the fact that 2010 tied with 1998 for warmest year on record despite 1998 having a stronger el nino, 2010 being in a very low solar minimum and 2010 being preceded by a negative PDO switch (I don’t buy that last one, but given skeptics do I think you must consider it)

        Of course maybe you think the low solar minimum and PDO switch didn’t have any cooling effect at all. I don’t think you can argue however that the weaker El Nino in 2010 had the same warming effect as the stronger El Nino in 1998.

      • lolwot –
        Of course maybe you think the low solar minimum and PDO switch didn’t have any cooling effect at all. I don’t think you can argue however that the weaker El Nino in 2010 had the same warming effect as the stronger El Nino in 1998.

        I made no claims at all – EXCEPT that the temps failed to increase as the “consensus” predicted. Remember Trenberth’s “it’s a tragedy” statement? Fact is that regardless of solar, el nino, PDO or any other consideration, CO2 increased, but temp didn’t. And I have yet to hear any explanation. Kauffman et al was just laughable and has been dismissed, apparently by both sides.

        However, I’ll give you this one to chew on – according the “theory” the night, Arctic and high country temps should be getting warmer. Not sure what’s happening where you are, but I do know that the high country temps have been getting colder for the last 4 years. And that the Rockies still have massive snowpack – a month after it should be gone – again for the last 4 years. You can bloviate all you want about “science” but on the ground (and, I believe – in the ocean) the expected warming is not happening.

      • tempterrain

        Jim Owen,
        You do seem fond of the verb “bloviate” !

        Is this brief and concise enough for you?

        Were the 80’s warmer than the 70’s Yes
        Were the 90’s warmer than the 80’s. Yes
        Were the 00’s warmer than the 90’s Yes

        Has it stopped warming? No it hasn’t.

      • tt –
        You do seem fond of the verb “bloviate” !

        Not particularly, but when it fits, I use it.

        Were the 00′s warmer than the 90′s

        Yes – so what? Do you deny that? Do you know anyone else who denies that?

        But that’s not the point. The point is more this (using your own numbers) –
        http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1990/to:2000/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2000/to:2009/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1990/to:2009

        — with the beginning and end points of the 00’s being essentially identical (check the raw data). Do you understand that?

        Has it stopped warming? No it hasn’t.

        Yes, for practical purposes, it has.

        For how long?

        Who knows – unlike the warmists (you), I’m not into either parapsychology or spiritualism in ths regard.

      • tempterrain

        No one disputes that the rate of warming over the course of the 1990s was greater rate than the cooling rate over the 2000s (HadCRUT), so that the 2000s were obviously warmer on average than the 1990s.

        What is more pertinent is that the late 20th century warming trend stopped and it cooled over the first decade of the new millennium (slight linear cooling of around 0.06 per decade).

        As a result the average temperature of the second half of the 2000s (2006-2010) was lower (0.414C) than that of the first half (2001-2005 = 0.444C), for a net difference between the two of 0.03C.

        So yes, indeed. It stopped warming and started cooling. That’s what the HadCRUT record shows, like it or not.

        Max

      • tempterrain

        Max,

        Yours is too short a time scale. I’d say the minimum temperature period, for comparison, would be one decade. That means comparing one decade with another not some cheery picked slope with one decade.

        If the 10’s are no warmer than the 00’s you may be able to say its not warming any more.

        Just 9 years to wait!

        PS I’d be interested to hear Judith’s opinion on this one. The idea of Climate etc is supposed to be about engaging with the public. At least she says it is. So I’d just ask her if she would agree or disagree with the above.

      • tt –
        Yours is too short a time scale. I’d say the minimum temperature period, for comparison, would be one decade.

        Who ever told you that a decade was a scientific unit of time? Why do you think the 90’s or the 00’s are actual useful measures wrt scientific fact or theory?

        Years, decades, centuries, millenia – are all nothing more than convenient but artificial tags to allow continuity of knowledge and record keeping. They have no direct relationship to what happens in the natural world, nor does the natural world respect them. They are a man made distinction.

        Bottom line – your division of climate into decades may be convenient for you, but it is still artifical and without logical basis because it does not match the natural cycle periods.

      • The funny thing is there’s no need to even compile a list. Skeptics are effectively recording their own errors for prosperity in their blogs.

        Ever notice Watts doesn’t really archive his posts? There’s a reason. If you patiently page back to the early years, when he was less cautious in his pronouncements, there are some howlers.

      • John. Whitman

        Robert,

        Hypothesis: you take as your premise intellectual superiority and a corresponding self-righteous moral high road attitude.

        Empirical observations supporting the hypothesis:
        Giggles from independents.

        John

      • Robert –
        Ever notice Watts doesn’t really archive his posts? There’s a reason. If you patiently page back to the early years,

        As ignorant as you are, I still gave you credit for being smarter than to be “paging back” through WUWT. If you find the section on the right margin that says “Posts by date” you can page beck by moth rather than one page at a time.

        Or you cnan use the search funtion if you have something particular you’re looking for.

        Archiving – is limited by the blog software, not by the choice of the blog operator. Which is why this blog doesn’t have an edit function.

        You make a lot of bad assumptions. ;-|

      • “As ignorant as you are,”

        Look who’s talking. Usual projection by Jimmy. Paging through eighty or ninety months because there is no way to jump to the year you want or even skip past a single month? Maybe Jimmy has nothing better to do, but defending that as incompetence as opposed to deception (the usual denier trick when caught out) strains belief.
        .

      • @Robert –
        defending that as incompetence as opposed to deception (the usual denier trick when caught out) strains belief.

        Yup – you’re still making bad assumptions based on fantasy.

      • Funnily enough once again skeptics come to the rescue. The “good” posts tend to get mirrored on other blogs. It makes it rather impossible to remove a lot of the stuff now.

      • I’m tempted to reply you’re talking out of your posterior but I’m sure such subtle word play would be wasted on an illiterate ignoramus.

        Pointman

  74. From the paper:
    “One place to begin is by realizing its oddity. After all, we teach our students to recognize and reject ad populum or “bandwagon” appeals. I suspect that it would be hard to find scientists claiming to each other that such & such ought to be believed, because a “consensus of scientists” thus quantified backed it.”

    This too is quite shockingly naive , and indicates a real lack of understandfing of scientific practice and scientific history. Just to give one recent example, it is the almost universal consensus among paleontologists that birds are dinosaurs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinosaur-bird_connection). And it is an argument often made in such circles that the last few holdouts are getting old and publishing long-ago refuted arguments in crummier and crummier journals.

    So whatever scientists might be telling their students, arguments from authority are ubiquitous in both science and everyday life. Hard to see how anyone could get by without them.

    • BigCityLib, the “bandwagon fallacy” is part of logic. They teach logic to students. Your reply makes no sense.

    • And it is an argument often made in such circles that the last few holdouts are getting old and publishing long-ago refuted arguments in crummier and crummier journals.

      Age discrimination might play well to a room full of twenty-something students, but I’d imagine that an adult audience would be doubly appalled – first at the moral bankruptcy and second at the intellectual bankruptcy of calling it an “argument”.

  75. Does anyone know why the servers those store the climategate emails are closing?

    Example: http://www.eastangliaemails.com

    • Kermit,

      No logically oriented account of science, Popper’s included, has ever come anywhere close to explaining the actual behaviour of scientists in their historical context. Successful scientists just don’t act as they should if they had read the logic books. Popper came to realize this at the end of his life. But when I come to places like Climate Etc. its as though I’m listening to people who got their Popper off the side of a cornflakes box.

  76. What is FAR? Fr@kking Acronym Re-da-da?

  77. sHx, I don’t see the reference above but in climate discussions it usually refers to the IPCC’s First Assessment Report from more than a decade ago.

  78. lolwot

    All that’s on tap. Social scientists will have a ball in 20 years time analyzing the delusion of the skeptics.

    Who is in delusion?

    1) http://bit.ly/cIeBz0

    2) http://bit.ly/iyscaK

    Billions of dollars just wasted!

    • Look at the dots, in particular the dots for 1998 and 2000 and how far they fell from the black line. Now look at the scenario projections. Something ENSOy is missing isn’t it?

  79. Tom, TFT (thanks for that).

    I have been following climate discussions for more than 2 years now and I am still bamboozled by the acronyms.

    I knew what TAR stood for (Third Assessment Report) but I wasn’t sure what FAR stood for, because I’d never heard of SAR.

    What are we gonna do now that the Fourth Assessment Report is upon us? FART?

    To my knowledge, the proper convention is to spell out what the acronym stands for at least once.

  80. A. C. Osbornr

    lolwot –
    The funny thing is there’s no need to even compile a list. Skeptics are effectively recording their own errors for prosperity in their blogs.

    Don’t you mean Posterity?
    As skeptics aren’t paid by the Government you know.

    Is lolwot m.carey in disguise?

  81. A recent paper by Jean Goodwin and M. F. Dahlstrom is also interesting:

    http://ams.confex.com/ams/91Annual/webprogram/Paper184847.html

    She makes the point that ‘presentation strategies’ are unlikely to persuade an audience that is personally engaged with an issue and who will scrutinize the message carefully. To earn the trust of such an audience, the scientist has to make him or herself vulnerable.

    To quote from the Abstract:

    “In order to make themselves vulnerable and thus earn trust, scientist-communicators will need to pursue two interlinked communication strategies. First, scientist-communicators will need strategies for assuring the public that scientists will in fact be held responsible and bear significant consequences, if it turns out that what they are saying is wrong. Second, because global climate change is not directly perceptible by ordinary means, scientist-communicators will need to develop and convey indicators which make future climate change visible to non-scientists in the same way that a car’s soundness or the local weather is visible. In sum, to earn the public’s trust in their risk communication, scientists must accept a risk themselves–the risk of being shown to be wrong.”

    • This is a quote I agree with. It goes along with a statement I have made before that scientists write their papers very carefully to say what they truly believe, because there is nothing worse for your career than to be proved wrong by the future. So political bias is something they would want to put aside when doing the science. The perception of being wrong because of such a bias never turns out well for your reputation, and scientists know it.

      • I would have to read the full article. First, this risk should be inherent already. The other problem is with more risk they would then just come up with vague statements. Also I don’t think a person is capable of telling if they have political bias.

      • Scientists should know when they are trying to fit square pegs into round holes. A lot of ideas of things they are interested in looking for may be politically driven, but if they don’t find it, they can’t publish it, because of the risk of being proved wrong. So what we see published is what they feel they can defend scientifically.

      • The problem is that even if the papers include the caveats and uncertainties, summaries such as the IPCC reports lose some of the nuances, and the Summary for Policymakers is simplified even further, let alone press releases, tv interviews and so on.

        The scientists can generally find some way in which to plausibly deny that their ‘predictions’ were wrong – by arguing that they were misquoted in the summaries, or were using words in an unusual way (e.g. “I think they are using “likely” figuratively here.” http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2011/7/12/beddingtons-baloney.html)

        Goodwin seems simply to be restating the principle of falsifiability, which really should have been part of the methods of climate science already.

      • This is the value of weight of evidence. No individual study will be certain enough, but many independent threads, each with different areas of uncertainty can make for a more certain summary than the individual pieces. The whole is more than the sum of the parts in a way.

      • “The problem is that even if the papers include the caveats and uncertainties, summaries such as the IPCC reports lose some of the nuances, and the Summary for Policymakers is simplified even further, let alone press releases, tv interviews and so on.”

        If the science contains the caveats and the uncertainties, then it is foolish to blame the scientists for having to simplify the descriptions of what they are doing for a lay audience. (And utterly incoherent to blame them for what journalist and university press departments chose to do with their research.) The research is right there if you want to look at it.

        What is striking about all these suggestions for “credibility” is that they are coming from a group with far less credibility among the public, a group which shows no interest in taking their own advice.

        Would Dr. Curry be more credible if she included on this site a caveat that said “Despite my concerns about the IPCC, climate change may be faster and much more destructive than I think it will be, and be listening to me a focusing on “no-regret” policies, it’s possible you will contribute to massive economic devastation, starvation, poverty and destruction that might have been avoided if you had listened to my more cautious colleagues.”

        .

      • If the science contains the caveats and the uncertainties, then it is foolish to blame the scientists for having to simplify the descriptions of what they are doing for a lay audience. (And utterly incoherent to blame them for what journalist and university press departments chose to do with their research.) The research is right there if you want to look at it.

        So the answer is “it’s in the fine print”? I wouldn’t get away with failing to present caveats to decision makers (finding a way to communicate those caveats to laymen is part of my job). Why should they?

        Would Dr. Curry be more credible if she included on this site a caveat that said…

        Would you support adding the same caveat to those who support actions more radical than “no regrets” policies? If not, why? Do you deny the possibility that those policies “will contribute to massive economic devastation, starvation, poverty and destruction”? I’ll even stipulate that you can remove “destruction” from the list.

      • If the science contains the caveats and the uncertainties, then it is foolish to blame the scientists for having to simplify the descriptions of what they are doing for a lay audience.

        Nonsense. It is incumbant on a scientist with integrity, to comment on any misinterpretaion of what they say. This is a similar criticism to the deafening silence produced by the bulk of the climate community, in response to blatant sabotaging of the science process by the Climategate crooks.

        What is striking about all these suggestions for “credibility” is that they are coming from a group with far less credibility among the public, a group which shows no interest in taking their own advice.

        Only in the opinion of those pretending that climate science as a whole isn’t politicised/rotten to the core.

    • Thx for pointing out this paper, I am planning a future post on this

  82. Second, because global climate change is not directly perceptible by ordinary means, scientist-communicators will need to develop and convey indicators which make future climate change visible to non-scientists in the same way that a car’s soundness or the local weather is visible.

    Or the way Edmund Halley made Newton’s laws of gravity ‘visible’ to the public imagination when he predicted a certain object to appear in the sky in a particular year.

    As a member of the public, I am still waiting for a sign that will make it visible for me the looming climate catastrophe that’s supposed to happen within the next, uhmm, hundred years.

  83. Theo Goodwin

    Professor Goodwin’s work offers some valuable points about the rhetorical dynamics of disputes about the IPCC. However, like all rhetoricians that I know, she overlooks the connections between science and rhetoric. Let me take one very famous example. She talks about manufacturing consensus yet she overlooks the fact that the old consensus had to be destroyed before the new one could be erected. The scientists who did this work were Michael Mann and The Team. They replaced the MWP with the Hockey Stick. Having overlooked this point about the science, Professor Goodwin overlooks an incredible point about the rhetoric. Everyone who embraced the IPCC consensus are logically committed to embracing Mann’s work. I humbly submit that embracing Mann’s work is akin to treating the ordinary work of an ordinary first year graduate student as a successfully defended dissertation. If Mann’s work were treated as wholly successful. all it does is show a correlation between two sets of numbers, tree rings and temperature readings. It cannot by any means be interpreted as showing causation. But his work was not successful as “hiding the decline” shows. Because she ignores absolutely essential connections between science and rhetoric, Professor Goodwin’s thesis fails.

  84. The mindset of those who continue to promote AGW theory and fascilitate global warming alarmism despite the facts, and evidence corruption and heedless of the exercise of reason and logic against it–is no different from those who celebrate their belief in a cause by firing a volley of bullets into the air from the middle of the town square heedless of where their missles may land or what harm they will cause.

  85. How about dropping the consensus concerns,and follow science research that can be validated and subject to further refinements?

    To me,going with the concept of a consensus is to build a political/administrative position.Then to consolidate control over it to further their own means.

    Better to keep science research free of such controls.To then allow true research independence to blossom.Then have the papers be checked by other scientists who have interests in it.

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  87. As a handyman’s guide and a view of science, science’s value lies in how useful it is to the particular task in which one is engaged. Does the past science inform the present experiment. If not, then it is the scientists task to identify why: the past science is not correct or sufficiently robust, or, one’s set of assumptions about the prevailing science may not be correct. In which ever case, prevailing science carries the implied consensus label. Consensus means that a group of scientists have found one specific idea works in their own circumstance. There usually are others who find that the consensus idea does not work for their experiments and publish their nuance of the established idea. However, consensus plays little role in the process of discovery and consensus becomes relevant only when the results are to be published. Who reviews, critiques, and ultimately agrees to publish the results can be swayed by the consensus opinion. Therein lies the power of consensus. Therein lies the task of reviewers and editors, to see that a consensus idea is indeed nuanced and not engraved in stone. Scientists cannot abrogate their role to the publishing of new perspectives. In time, the evolving science idea will prove it’s worth as it works better than the older version, or, the addition is superfluous or even incorrect. Science’s value is that it changes when it no longer works. For instance, when the science derived in a controlled environment may not work well when applied directly to a larger setting, the science is incomplete and requires modification. Consensus is immaterial.

  88. Once the consensus is manufactured and gained power, it has to be protected at any price:
    http://climateaudit.org/2011/07/14/covert-operations-by-east-anglias-cru/

  89. Larry Fields

    The obvious historical parallel with the IPCC’s consensus-manufacturing project is the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, which was a milepost in the process of standardizing the Christian ‘product’, in order to facilitate its mass-marketing.

    • Kent Draper

      Great point! At the council, they changed the common held belief in the “nature of God” to something (the trinity) that in their own words is “unknowable”. Reminds me a lot of CAGW :)………. UNKNOWABLE

  90. tempterrain

    Jim Owen,

    You ask “which part of the Conservapedia article is wrong”?

    For starters how about “The action-at-a-distance by Jesus, described in John 4:46-54 and Matthew 27:51.” ?

    The Bible has something to say about Relativity? Conservapedia obviously thinks it does. Maybe that’s where they found some evidence of flaws in the IPCC case too.

    So I guess you have, in a way, to make a choice. A Wikipedia view of the world (rationality, science, secularism) or a Conservapedia (irrationality , religion, right wing politics) view.

    That’s pretty much the AGW debate in a nutshell.

  91. tempterrain

    As usual, you have a childish “black or white” view of the world:: your viewpoint = rationality, science, secularism, versus anyone who happens to disagree with your view = irrationality, religion, right wing politics.

    Grow up.

    That is not how the real world works, Peter.

    Max

    • Max,

      Well I’d suggest both Conservapedia and Wikipedia are part of the real 21st century digital world. They represent two quite distinct trends of thought, particularly in the US, which anyone who has any knowledge of that country will well know.

      This is Conservapedia on Climate change:
      “Ideologues insist that the world’s top scientists have reached a “consensus” that most of the warming which land-based weather stations have recorded in the last century is due to human activity.”
      “Ideologues use all sorts of tricks to convince the general public…”

      You’ll like that!
      http://conservapedia.com/Climate_change

      This is Conservapedia on Evolution
      The fossil record does not support the theory of evolution and is one of the flaws in the theory of evolution.
      http://conservapedia.com/Evolution

      I’ve already quoted Conservapedia on Einstein. There’s lots more rubbish, sorry content, on such topics as Economics, Religion and Politics.

      Even sports such as Soccer are considered socialist and Un-American.
      “The nature and rules of soccer very much resemble socialism in many ways….”
      http://conservapedia.com/Soccer

      • tempterrain

        Yeah..

        But I never refer to Conservapedia and seldom to Wiki for their rehashes of scientific info.

        My advice to you: look for the original source of the data, if you want to know what is really going on.

        Max

  92. BigCityLib,
    plenty of appeals to authority and consensus around, no question. And they don’t always come up with an incorrect answer. But they ARE always wrong.

    Don’t you think?

  93. In today’s New York Times Review of Books, Andrew Revkin makes the tired old claim that, “the overwhelming majority of scientists agree” that humans are affecting climate with potentially calamitous results.

    Or something quite close to that anyway. Talk about manufacturing a consensus. I honestly don’t get stuff like this. I mean Revkin’s a bright guy, well-informed, presumably honest. He has to know that this is an exaggeration.

    Can anyone explain this to me? Is it so important to him to be a member of the club? Is he rationalizing that since most scientists agree that CO2 does have an effect… though many believe it insignificant or nearly so…it’s ok to stick in the weasel word “potentially?”

    • In today’s New York Times Review of Books, Andrew Revkin makes the tired old claim that, “the overwhelming majority of scientists agree” that humans are affecting climate with potentially calamitous results.

      I guess the tired old truth is pretty frustrating to deniers selling lies!

      though many believe it insignificant or nearly so . . .

      If you believe that, then you have been suckered by deniers pretending to be scientists.

  94. Theo Goodwin

    Professor Curry writes:

    “JC comment: Climategate was about the social aspects of the consensus. Whereas scientists rightly claimed that climategate changed nothing epistemically with regards to climate science, the public saw substantial problems with the procedures upon which the consensus was built.”

    Saint Judith, as much as I admire you, I cannot let you get away with this, though I will make my criticism as brief as possible. Climategate revealed that tree ring evidence from 1960 to the late 1990s, almost forty years, no longer agreed with the temperature graph proposed by Mann and co-authors. In fact, what they had discovered is that tree ring data is not an acceptable proxy for temperature. They simply over-rode their empirical findings. To this day, none of The Team has cared to explore or explain the behavior of the proxy data from 1960 to the late 1990s. That performance by tenured scientists sets the all time record for “Lack of Scientific Instinct.” However, my complaint is not based on The Team’s behavior, but on the fact that it has now been discovered that tree rings, at least of the sort they used, are not always acceptable proxies for temperature. All tree ring data of that sort is now officially suspect.

  95. NPR in my town has divvied up into multiple stations, and one is for news-talk and PHC only.
    There was some journalist posing as an academic on today, rationalizing why it is good for the press to pick and choose who to ignore and patting himself and the ‘journalist’ interviewing him about how reality has a ‘liberal bias’.
    They used the climate issue as a great example of how journalists should just stop reporting the side is just plain wrong.
    It would have been funny except that my tax dollars helped pay for this audio excrement.
    The hubris at so many levels of their assumptions and rationalizations was amazing to hear from people allegedly professional educated and sober.

  96. Houghton: …peer review has helped to ensure a high degree of consensus among authors and reviewers regarding the results presented…

    His key word is “ensure”. The IPCC hasn’t discovered consensus, it’s enforced it.

    • Enforced it how? Where are its secret police? Where are its jails? Who has been fired or blackballed as a result of an IPCC campaign against them?

      Climate scientists have had to move, with their families, to secure housing protected by police, due to death threats by climate deniers. Can you show me an example of death threats by the IPCC? Because if you can’t, it would seem that the willingness of deniers to use violence, threats, lies, and slander to promote to “enforce” their views is a more significant problem than the use of the IPCC of massive amounts of evidence from the physical world to “enforce” the mainstream view.

      • I prefer to think of the coal “death trains” as “keeping grandma warm and alive” trains. If grandma freezes to death, who are the murderers?

      • @Robert –
        Enforced it how? Where are its secret police? Where are its jails? Who has been fired or blackballed as a result of an IPCC campaign against them?

        Don’t need jails or secret police or campaigns – they just quietly exclude the noncompliant from publication. Or haven’t you read the Climategate emails?

        Climate scientists have had to move, with their families, to secure housing protected by police, due to death threats by climate deniers.

        Where? When? The Australian article that you came up with was a lie. And the rest of your paragraph is pure conspiracy fantasy. This is the reality –
        http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=290513

        Or were you not reading Die Welt a year or so ago when the German Greens seriously proposed throwing deniers in jail?

      • Robert,
        You keep claiming about these wicked denialists threatening the scientists, but you have posted no evidence of this at all.
        Please either start posting real links suportin this or have your already low credibility drop even further.

      • Hunter –
        The first time he did that he provided a link. But the story was a lie intended to promote Gillard’s carbon tax. The real story is here –

        http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/national/carbon-death-threats-go-cold/story-e6freuzr-1226071996499

    • Enforced it how? Where are its secret police? Where are its jails? Who has been fired or blackballed as a result of an IPCC campaign against them?

      I’m sorry you got the impression I was speaking literally. I was of course actually referring to the unrepentant systmatic bias and fraud practiced he IPCC, well illustrated inter alia by Climategate. Motivated no doubt by their real mission – to promote more and world government, an inescapable consequence of their being part of the UN.

  97. …a strong appearance of politicization was created—i.e., that the boundary between “insiders” and “outsiders” was based on political views, not scientific relevance…

    Governments fund the alarmist “consensus” and, and are the ones that stand to gain so much from it, in terms of a rationale to increase taxes and state controls over society. This is surely no coincidence, and is what makes for the insider / outsider distinction.

    • That oft-repeated canard is utter drivel. Governments want an excuse to raise taxes? Governments HAVE an excuse to raise taxes; the western world is drowning in debt.

      Governments in democracies hate raising taxes, because it tends to be unpopular, with rich campaign contributors if not with the general public. Our government in the US is perilously tax adverse; taxes are the lowest they have been in sixty years, and as a result, the debt had exploded.

      We know why deniers deny: oil, gas, and coal money, paranoid hatred of government, etc. It seems like balance would be served by there were similar selfish, short-sighted, underhanded motives among those opposing them, but there is no evidence to suggest this is true. Deniers are driven by money and ideology; scientists are driven by facts and evidence. That’s why the public trusts scientists on climate change more than they trust anyone else; that’s why deniers impersonate scientists and not the other why around.

      • “other why” = “other way”

        Though I quite like “the other why around” and may find a use for it in the future.

      • What has exploded is the spending…government spending is the current financial bubble and it will have the same end as all bubbles. All those funded directly and indirectly from the public coffers have a tough few years ahead of them.

      • Robert, 7/18/11, 8:27 am, consensus

        You say, Governments HAVE an excuse to raise taxes; the western world is drowning in debt.

        To raise taxes is a leading candidate for drivel because it is ambiguous: fighting drivel with drivel.

        The income side of the debt problem is solved by raising tax revenues. That seems to be what the Republicans are trying to say, but can’t articulate.

        Raising tax rates might raise or lower revenues. Raising rates always satisfies the redistributionist tenet of the left: equality of income. The belief system on the left also includes that debt doesn’t matter. After all, it can always fall back on the socialist inevitabilities of price and wage controls, including setting interest rates. Equality of outcome is one aspect of populism, and that is what counts for the left, the “some” on the farm who are more equal than the others. The left doesn’t concern itself or the public with the reality that equality happens only when all the others have effectively nothing — minimum prosperity.

        Summary: Both sides want to raise taxes. Democrats want to raise tax rates. Republicans want to raise tax revenues.

        Whether rate hikes increase revenues depends on where the economy is on the curve Laffer popularized in the 80s, but attributed to an ancient scholar. The left despises the Laffer curve, so launched a relatively successful anti-Laffer curve campaign. The effects are still with us. But the curve is as sound as entropy, and might be an economic law but for the fact that it is too obvious. The right thinks we are on the right of the curve, the left acts as though we were on the left of it. That might be as good an explanation for the terms left and right as any.

      • @Robert –
        taxes are the lowest they have been in sixty years, and as a result, the debt had exploded.

        IIRC, the corporate tax rate is the highest in the world. And raising the personal (income) tax rate won’t help much because 40% don’t pay income tax at all.

        The exploding debt isn’t even vaguely related to taxes – only to spending. And most of that in the last two to three years. As the book says – ambition, greed and corruption. To which I would add – stupidity.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/29/books/review/book-review-reckless-endangerment-by-gretchen-morgenson-and-joshua-rosner.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

        http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304760604576423670655568418.html

    • It’s a canard that governments don’t want an apparently watertight excuse to raise taxes higher than they otherwise could?? What nonsense.

      And that their lackey scientists they pay are giving them exactly the ‘answer’ they want is no coincidence – he who funds and selects the scientist, calls the tune. And the tune is alarm.

  98. …a strong appearance of politicization was created—i.e., that the boundary between “insiders” and “outsiders” was based on political views, not scientific relevance…

    Governments fund the alarmist “consensus” and, and are the ones that stand to gain so much from it, in terms of a rationale to increase taxes and state controls over society. This is surely no coincidence, and is what makes for the politicized insider vs objective outsider distinction.

  99. tempterrain

    Judith,

    On the “slaying the skydragon” thread, you’ve stood up for 20th century Physics in its 100yr old , at least, explanation of the GH effect. You agree with the consensus on that one.

    You agree that CO2 is an important GH gas. You say that doubling it will ‘very likely’ produce an increase in temperatures of between 1 and 6 deg C. You write papers on such things as the effect of the warming Southern ocean and its effect on Antarctic ice.

    So, I’m just a bit puzzled how you can now say you disagree , or should I say give the impression, on this blog you are disagreeing, with the scientific consensus on AGW. It doesn’t make any sense at all.

    It’s like Richard Dawkins saying he still believes everything he ever wrote, but at the same time is questioning the validity of the scientific consensus on Evolutionary theory.

    • tempterrain, I would venture to say that your puzzlement on this cuts to the very heart of the difficulty you have with people who disagree with your position, at least on this blog.

      I have to say, Judith’s position makes complete sense to me. I think, perhaps it is a question of epistemology. Maybe if you can reconcile this (to you) apparent conundrum in your own mind ie figure out what she is on about, you would have a better feel why some of us have the objections to the “consensus” view on AGW.

      Perhaps i can offer this further clue, not all of us are as polarized on the matter as others.

  100. Positioning opponents as merchants of doubt, is necessary for people who are themselves merchants of credulity.

  101. Whether “doubt” or “confusion” is the more appropriate expression is just a question of semantics.

    Only to those set on creating confusion via credulity.

  102. Robert

    Deniers are driven by money and ideology; scientists are driven by facts and evidence.

    Here are the two most important results that compare climate models with observations.

    1) http://bit.ly/cIeBz0

    2) http://bit.ly/iyscaK

    Who is driven by “facts and evidence”?

  103. Robert: Deniers are driven by money and ideology; scientists are driven by facts and evidence.

    The alarmist ‘consensus’ is politically funded, comes up with conclusions that hugely benefit politics, and spend close to 100% of all money spent on climate science. And we saw in Climategate just how well they select which facts and evidence to rely on, and which to quietly ignore.
    The truth is that it is alarmism that is driven by both ideology and (our) money.

    • Robert’s posts are a great deomosntration of secular self-righteousness.
      He actually beleives that scientists (he agrees with) are all noble, high minded prisetly apostles of knowledge. No room for mere human emotions or drives.
      And skeptics (denialist scum in robert’s bigotry) are jsut money grubbing selfish philistine apostates or heretics bent on destorying the world.
      Robert is a great recruiter for skeptics and we should encourage him to stay the course and go to the logical outcome of his righteous faith.

    • tempterrain

      Yes I think Robert is pretty much right about this. Judith Curry hasn’t been averse to the term denier in the past but I would guess we would disagree with her exact categorisation.

      She feels the term denier should only be used in exceptional cases but not for those whose views are guided by their political opinions. I’d disagree with that.
      If you don’t understand climate science you can’t disagree with it – you can only deny it.

      • To correct TT : If you don’t understand climate science you can’t agree with it – you can only accept it. Which is what is behind the whole quasi-religion of CAGW belief.

      • tempterrain

        So what about Quantum Mechanics? Do you understand that too? Do you accept it? Is modern Physics, and just about all of 20th and 21st century science a quasi religion too?

        It is by your ‘reasoning’. If that’s the right word for it!

  104. Galileo Galilei
    We write to inform you
    The science is settled,
    Your trial starts tomorrow.
    By order,
    The Inquisition.

  105. It is interesting and brings a smile to my face when I hear that it is wrong to be a skeptic of the warmists view but it is not to be skeptical of the skeptics. The consensus is made up of far more non scientists than scientists. And since when can a non-scientist be more able to detect mistkes, fraud, and baldfaced lies than a scientist? The field of medicine and nutrition seem to change their ways and means every 10 years or so. But the “real scientists” in favor of the AGW theory can never change. That’s just not scientific. Now you know!

  106. But the “real scientists” in favor of the AGW theory can never change. That’s just not scientific. Now you know!

    Indeed, the ongoing deafening silence from the climate consensus in the wake of the Climategate-revealed science fraud perpetrated by their esteemed leaders, more than adequatey confirms your anaylysis.

    • tempterrain

      Would you say that Judith Curry was a real scientist? Would you say her opinion that climate sensitivity to CO2 was likely to be in the range of 1 -6 degC made her a ‘warmist’ too?

      I’d say, yes, she could change. I think she would like to and that’s not impossible, contrary to what you suggest, but the evidence would have to be there to support such a change of opinion. But, of course, the snag is that there isn’t any, at least not as far as anyone, including Judith, can see.

      I’ll say she’s really changed when she’s revised her estimated range to 0-1 degC.

      • tempterrain

        You ask:

        Would you say Judith Curry was a real scientist?

        I take it that this is a hypothetical question (or else an extremely foolish one).

        As regards her position on the impact of AGW and the rationale for urgently implementing forced CO2 reduction schemes, she can certainly speak best for herself, but she has gone on record before a US congressional committee last fall regarding these questions.
        http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/ChangePan

        Some excerpts from this testimony:

        Anthropogenic climate change is a theory whose basic mechanism is well understood, but whose magnitude is highly uncertain.

        The threat from global climate change does not seem to be an existential one on the time scale of the 21st century even in its most alarming incarnation.

        It seems more important that robust policy responses be formulated rather than to respond urgently with policies that may fail to address the problem and whose unintended consequences have not been adequately explored.

        This seems self-explanatory.

        And, to me, it seems like reasonable advice from a climate scientist to a political committee.

        Max

      • tempterrain

        I think you mean rhetorical rather than hypothetical. Well, if so, yes that’s right.

        Some comments on JC’s comments:

        “Anthropogenic climate change is a theory whose basic mechanism is well understood, but whose magnitude is highly uncertain
        Yes she has said herself between 1 and 6 degC. Is that a reason for doing nothing? As she has said herself:

        “Think of risk as the product of consequences and likelihood: what can happen and the odds of it happening. A 10-degree rise in global temperatures by 2100 is not likely; the panel gives it a 3 percent probability. Such low-probability, high-impact risks are routinely factored into any analysis and management strategy, whether on Wall Street or at the Pentagon”

        “The threat from global climate change does not seem to be an existential one on the time scale of the 21st century even in its most alarming incarnation.” A strawman argument. I’m not sure anyone is seriously saying it is. But what about later centuries?

        “It seems more important that robust policy responses be formulated rather than to respond urgently with policies that may fail to address the problem and whose unintended consequences have not been adequately explored.”
        Robust responses? Yes. I’m in favour of those. Are you?
        And , yet again, as JC herself says:
        “I have yet to see any option that is worse than ignoring the risk of global warming and doing nothing.”

      • tempterrain

        It appears from your last post that you have a problem either with reading the written word or of comprehension.

        Read again, real slowly. what our host here stated to the US congressional committee. (without trying to put other words into her mouth).

        It is quite clear. It is quite concise. And it makes very good sense.

        Max

      • tempterrain

        “Putting words into her mouth”. Not at all. All her own.
        Check them out if you like. If you can’t find them -let me know and I’ll send you the links.

      • The excerpt form the testimony describes good principles. Principles leave so much for interpretation that I don’t see any reason, why you could not both agree on that and still disagree strongly with each other.

        It’s only a little more specific than saying that wise solutions should be preferred over stupid ones.

  107. Tempterrain

    Please don’t ask JC to move to your position. She has raised uncertainty in the IPCC report. She has done a great job. You have to be grateful for her allowing us to freely discuss global warming, unlike RealClimate that has censored any debate on this issue. She deserves a huge thank you than any criticism.

    • tempterrain

      Please don’t ask JC to move to your position

      OK. But there is no need to. She’s already there scientifically – not just with me, and anyway I’m not qualified enough to matter, but generally with the whole scientific community.

      The consternation she’s caused among her fellow scientists is mainly over how she thinks what she thinks, has written what she has written, but still attacks the consensus, with her emphasis on increased levels of uncertainty, rather than any specific issue of scientific disagreement.

      And if you think I’m wrong in saying that, give me a specific example of where JC is at seriously at odds with that consensus.

  108. …give me a specific example of where JC is at seriously at odds with that consensus…

    The secrecy and science fraud on which it rests.

  109. Tempterrain

    Don’t forget the following wish of Richard Feynman

    So I have just one wish for you–the good luck to be somewhere
    where you are free to maintain the kind of integrity I have
    described, and where you do not feel forced by a need to maintain
    your position in the organization, or financial support, or so on,
    to lose your integrity. May you have that freedom.

    http://bit.ly/hiD0JD

    Because of the consensus in the academia, many who work there are not free.

    Don’t you remember the following statement of Dr Joanne Simpson?

    Since I am no longer affiliated with any organization nor receive any funding, I can speak quite frankly. … As a scientist I remain sceptical

    The fact is our bread comes first and the truth second.

    Please don’t forget that.

  110. The fact is our bread comes first and standing up for the truth at the cost of your bread second.

  111. The fact is our bread comes first and standing up for the truth at the cost of our bread second.

    • tempterrain

      Girma,

      You are suggesting that Judith Curry is being deliberately untruthful in her job , and presumably in what she writes in her scientific papers.

      That’s a serious accusation, which I would very much doubt to be true, and you have no evidence for saying that.

      Yes, I agree she gives a different impression on this blog, but she’s very careful to say very little, if anything, of actual substance which you can say is against the consensus. In fact, on some things, as has already been pointed out, she’s actually more ‘alarmist’ than the consensus.

    • … [Judith is] isvery careful to say very little, if anything, of actual substance which you can say is against the consensus

      Yes she is especially uncritical of their claimed levels of confidence.

  112. tempterrain

    You write that our host agrees with the IPCC “consensus” position and add:

    if you think I’m wrong in saying that, give me a specific example of where JC is at seriously at odds with that consensus.

    The “consensus”: We are quite certain that AGW has been the cause of most of the recent warming and thus represents a serious threat to society and our environment over the next several decades unless we act urgently to mitigate CO2 emissions.

    JC position (based on testimony before a US congressional committee):

    Anthropogenic climate change is a theory whose basic mechanism is well understood, but whose magnitude is highly uncertain.

    The threat from global climate change does not seem to be an existential one on the time scale of the 21st century even in its most alarming incarnation.

    It seems more important that robust policy responses be formulated rather than to respond urgently with policies that may fail to address the problem and whose unintended consequences have not been adequately explored.

    Is this “specific” enough for you, Peter?

    Max

    • tempterrain

      You’ve already quoted this passage and I’ve already explained why, with the exception of use of the adjective “highly”, it isn’t at all incompatible with the IPCC’s position.

  113. Tempterrain

    JC summary: The authors of this paper are members of the climate establishment, in terms of being involved with the WCRP CLIVAR Programme and also the IPCC. This paper arguably provides more fodder for skepticism of the AR4 conclusions than anything that I have seen from the climate establishment (the authors may not realize this). The issues surrounding natural internal decadal scale variability are a huge challenge for separating out natural from forced climate change. The same issues and challenges raised for future projections remain also for the warming in the last few decades of the 20th century. Sorting this out is the key challenge. No more unequivocals or very likelys in the AR5, please.

    http://bit.ly/ox9r8P

    What do you want JC to say more than the above?

    • tempterrain

      I’m not sure why JC has a problem with the term “very likely”

      This is what she said herself recently: I think we can bound this between 1 and 6C at a likely level, I don’t think we can justify narrowing this further.

      • Actually, somewhere I gave a very likely range between 0-10C.

      • Dr. Curry,
        Do you still think such a wide band of possible outcomes is called for?

      • hunter,

        Focus on “0” and not “10”.

      • Well, I would say we can maybe narrow it to 0.5 to 8C with 90% likelihood. I view the 90% likelihood as having no credible argument for anything outside the bounds, leaving 10% for the unknown unknowns.

      • Climate community is sweet, name any numbers!

      • From the information climate science has provided, we can see that it’s sometimes 0, because the line goes down. Heck, it might even be negative. That how good climate science is.

        Andrew

    • tempterrain

      “What do you want JC to say more than the above?

      How about removing words like “arguably”? Furthermore, its one thing to refer to the “Climate Establishment” . Yes, it probably exists. There is probably a “Darwinian Evolution” and a “Particle Physics Establishment” too.

      It doesn’t mean they are wrong though. If Judith Curry thinks that she should say so unequivocally.

      Changing the IPCC’s “very likely” range from 1.5 -4.5 degC to 1-6 deg C ( and these figures are scientifically what AGW is really all about ) just doesn’t provide any fodder at all for skepticism. Arguably. At least not that much, IMO.

      • maksimovich

        The affixation of cardinal numbers to subjective opinions ie the so called conditional probabilities, has no scientific status.A higher sensitivity also implies that climate is indeed random,eg Zaliapin and Ghil 2010

        We revisit a recent claim that the Earth’s climate system is characterized by sensitive dependence to parameters; in particular, that the system exhibits an asymmetric, large-amplitude response to normally distributed feedback forcing. Such a response would imply irreducible uncertainty in climate change predictions and thus have notable implications for climate science and climate-related policy making. We show that equilibrium climate sensitivity in all generality does not support such an intrinsic indeterminacy; the latter appears only in essentially linear systems. The main flaw in the analysis that led to this claim is inappropriate linearization of an intrinsically nonlinear model;
        there is no room for physical interpretations or policy conclusions
        based on this mathematical error. Sensitive dependence nonetheless does exist in the climate system, as well as in climate models – albeit in a very different sense from the one claimed in the linear work under scrutiny

        Secondly the inability to reduce uncertainty (read ignorance) for the so called climate sensitivity experiments suggest that irreducibility may indeed be a certainty with all its random consequences,The mathematical constraints are well documented eg McWilliams 2007,and the circular reasoning ie from each of IPCC reviews is indeed evident,that revision is required,

      • tempterrain

        You keep harping on our host here to get more specific.

        Open your eyes.

        Judith has just written

        Well, I would say we can maybe narrow it to 0.5 to 8C with 90% likelihood. I view the 90% likelihood as having no credible argument for anything outside the bounds, leaving 10% for the unknown unknowns.

        Is there any part of that statement you are having trouble understanding?

        This statement tells me that there is an overwhelming UNCERTAINTY regarding the potential impact of CO2 on our “global surface temperature” (all other things being equal).

        Over the past 10 years or so we have seen that “all other things are NOT equal”, i.e. other factors beside increasing CO2 levels have driven our global temperature.

        Over the past 160 years we see that temperature has warmed by 0,66C, while CO2 has increased from 290 to 390 ppmv, with IPCC telling us that natural forcing caused only 7% of this and the rest was caused by increased CO2.

        This figures out to a 2xCO2 impact of 1.4C, which lies within Judith’s 90% range.

        If we accept the findings of several solar scientists that natural forcing caused 50% (instead of 7%) of the long-term warming, then the 2xCO2 impact is 0.8C, which still lies within Judith’s 90% range.

        If you want to believe in a higher figure, great! The IPCC “consensus” figure for 2xCO2 equilibrium climate sensitivity is 2.0 to 4.5C (with an average of 3.2C), which also lies withing Judith’s range.

        Based on ERBE and CERES satellite observations, respectively, Lindzen and Spencer have estimated an ECS figure of around 0.6C, which also lies within Judith’s 90% range.

        So take your pick, Peter.

        But stop beating up on Judith to tell you what you want to hear.

        Max

  114. Polar bear expert barred by global warmists
    http://tgr.ph/oC1qh3

    This is one of a steady drizzle of events planned to stoke up alarm in the run-up to the UN’s major conference on climate change in Copenhagen next December. But one of the world’s leading experts on polar bears has been told to stay away from this week’s meeting, specifically because his views on global warming do not accord with those of the rest of the group.

    Dr Mitchell Taylor has been researching the status and management of polar bears in Canada and around the Arctic Circle for 30 years, as both an academic and a government employee. More than once since 2006 he has made headlines by insisting that polar bear numbers, far from decreasing, are much higher than they were 30 years ago. Of the 19 different bear populations, almost all are increasing or at optimum levels, only two have for local reasons modestly declined.

    Dr Taylor had obtained funding to attend this week’s meeting of the PBSG, but this was voted down by its members because of his views on global warming. The chairman, Dr Andy Derocher, a former university pupil of Dr Taylor’s, frankly explained in an email (which I was not sent by Dr Taylor) that his rejection had nothing to do with his undoubted expertise on polar bears: “it was the position you’ve taken on global warming that brought opposition”.
    ….
    So, as the great Copenhagen bandwagon rolls on, stand by this week for reports along the lines of “scientists say polar bears are threatened with extinction by vanishing Arctic ice”. But also check out Anthony Watt’s Watts Up With That website for the latest news of what is actually happening in the Arctic. The average temperature at midsummer is still below zero, the latest date that this has happened in 50 years of record-keeping. After last year’s recovery from its September 2007 low, this year’s ice melt is likely to be substantially less than for some time. The bears are doing fine.

  115. tempterrain

    Girma,

    “After last year’s recovery from its September 2007 low” ??

    And if this graph showed the value of your house, or the price of shares you owned, you’d be cracking open the champagne in celebration of a “recovery” would you?

    http://neven1.typepad.com/.a/6a0133f03a1e37970b0133f3f191ee970b-800wi

    PS. Just on a point of information: If the line on a graph is pointing downwards, then generally it indicates a decreasing parameter.

  116. Here’s an early reference to the ‘consensus’ on GHG’s, apparently achieved at a meeting at Vallach in Austria in 1985
    Screen shot:
    http://tallbloke.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/villach_consensus.jpg

    pdf URL
    http://www.princeton.edu/step/people/faculty/michael-oppenheimer/Villach-Bellagio-WMO-report.pdf

    Michael Oppenheimer, an integral part of the manufactured consensus and long-time EDF member is now the Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School and the Department of Geosciences at Princeton University. He is the Director of the Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy (STEP) at the Woodrow Wilson School and Faculty Associate of the Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences Program, Princeton Environmental Institute, and the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies.

  117. Climate crisis — a radical change needed by governments

    When it was cited as an emerging issue at the first global environmental Conference in Stockholm in 1972, the world was not listening.
    snip

    Energy is at the heart of this transition. Climate security and energy security are two sides of the same coin: one cannot be achieved without the other. Our profligate use of energy must be brought under control; the transition from the fossil fuels era must be accelerated and their emissions of greenhouse gases substantially reduced in the meantime. This is feasible, but, of course, it will not be easy.
    http://www.mauricestrong.net/20080619125/articles/articles/climate.html

    Maurice Strong: Our Man in Rio (and San Francisco, too)

    Do you think we’re reaching the peak of oil production? Do you foresee an abandonment of our oil-based energy economy, and if so, will we take that step because we’re “running out” of oil or because of global warming?

    It’s quite clear that the world’s oil reserves are not going to last forever. It’s also clear that the fossil-fuel era is far from over. So there’s no question that we’re going to continue to rely on fossil fuels for some time. But it’s also true that we may see a new era in which fossil fuels play a diminishing role. It’s not going to happen suddenly. But there’s still a lot of oil around, especially in the Athabasca tar sands of Canada, which has almost as much oil as the whole of Saudi Arabia, and the oil sands of Venezuela. So it’s too early to write off the petroleum economy. It is not too early to start to make the transition to an energy economy that relies less and less on oil and gas. And indeed coal is the main source of energy in China. It’s a big source in the U.S. and India and other big energy-consuming countries. But we can’t wait until fossil fuels run out. Coal is going to last for centuries. Because of the environmental constraints we have to move quite quickly and rapidly now to try to develop alternatives, and also to reduce the environmental impacts of using fossil fuels.
    http://www.emagazine.com/archive/2632

    Live & Learn: Maurice Strong

    I never aspired to be in business. I went into business because I only have a high-school education, and I couldn’t get jobs that required higher qualifications. I went into business quite reluctantly, because it was the only place I could get a job.
    http://www.canadianbusiness.com/article/15571–live-learn-maurice-strong

    Honours and Awards
    High School Graduate, FRS, FRSC etc, etc, etc, etc.. ad nauseam
    http://www.mauricestrong.net/2008070814/honours-awards.html

    Stockholm 1972
    http://tinyurl.com/2qkrp3

    A – Pollution Generally
    Recommendation 70

    It is recommended that Governments be mindful of activities in which there is an appreciable risk of effects on climate, and to this end:

    (a) Carefully evaluate the likelihood and magnitude of climatic effects and disseminate their findings to the maximum extent feasible before embarking on such activities;

    (b) Consult fully other interested States when activities carrying a risk of such effects are being contemplated or implemented.
    http://tinyurl.com/2xlo5j

    Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment
    http://tinyurl.com/2w2fg4
    Brief Summary of the General Debate
    http://tinyurl.com/yt53gh

  118. The proper scientific term for consensus: nonsensus.

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