No ideologues: Part III

by Judith Curry

Some very constructive dialogue on the previous two threads.  The use of the word “heretic” in the Scientific American article just begged for the word “dogma” to be used.  Given its range of connotations, it seems that dogma or even dogmatism doesn’t really convey what I am intending to for many people.

So lets try ideology and see how it works, this is motivated by a post from Nick Darby:

I have for many years been a student of the corrosive effects of ideology on science. This was prompted originally by works of Jacob Bronowski, Primo Levi, Charles Mackay, and an abiding interest in the history of I G Farben. As a guide, primarily for myself, I developed a set of characteristics of ideologues, to better recognize and interpret their behavior. (These are based in part on some ideas of John Ralston Saul in his “Unconscious Civilization”). Perhaps they can help discussion on this thread, by allowing avoidance of the emotive term “dogma”.

There are five attributes of ideologues:
1. Absence of doubt
2. Intolerance of debate
3. Appeal to authority
4. A desire to convince others of the ideological “truth”
5. A willingness to punish those that don’t concur

Note that each of these characteristics is anathema to science.

For reference, Wikipedia’s take on ideology is here, and also descriptions of two relevant ideologies: Green ideology and libertarian ideology.

So what might IPCC/UNFCCC “ideology” look like?

UNFCCC/IPCC “ideology”

Now there is nothing prima facie wrong with ideology.  Wikipedia has this to say on ideology:

An ideology is a set of ideas that constitutes one’s goals, expectations, and actions.  An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things . . . or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society. The main purpose behind an ideology is to offer change in society . . . Ideologies are systems of abstract thought applied to public matters and thus make this concept central to politics.

There does seem to be an IPCC/UNFCCC ideology, let me try to lay it out here. I am using quotes from Michael Mann’s recent interview in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which I find to be a lucid statement of some elements of this.

1.  Anthropogenic climate change is real: “there is a very consistent story told by surface, sub-surface, ocean, atmospheric, and ice observations that Earth’s surface is warming, and in a way that is only consistent with human-caused increases in greenhouse gas concentrations.” (Mann)

2.  Anthropogenic climate change is dangerous and we need to something about it: “I believe it’s not too late to take the steps that are necessary to mitigate truly dangerous future climate change. There is still time to take action to stabilize greenhouse gases to a point where they don’t become a dangerous threat to humanity.” (Mann)

3.  The fossil fuel industry is trying to convince people that climate change is a hoax: “[P]owerful special interests in the fossil fuel industry . . . have invested millions of dollars in well-honed disinformation campaigns to convince the public and policy makers that human-caused climate change is either a hoax, or not nearly the threat that the scientific community has established it to be.”

4. Deniers are attacking climate science and scientists: “I’ve been the subject of attacks by climate-change deniers for more than a decade now, because of the prominent role that the “hockey stick” temperature reconstruction has played in the public discourse on climate change.”

5.  Action is needed to prevent dangerous climate change: “There are various episodes in our not-so-distant past when we were threatened by global environmental catastrophe and took action.”  (Mann)

6.  Deniers and fossil fuel industry are delaying UNFCCC mitigatory policies. “[Powerful special interests] have delayed any policy actions by at least a decade, perhaps more. The potential opportunity cost of that delay to humanity is impossible to estimate, but it is certainly staggering.” (Mann)

This is a political ideology.  #1 is about science.  #4 is in principle about science and scientists, except there is the automatic assumption that a bonafide scientific criticism is a political attack.  The rest of it is politics.  This whole thing (politics included), with the adherence to this of the ideologue, is what I originally meant by “religious adherence to dogma.”

It is fine for people (and scientists) have political ideologies.  The problem comes in when you use politics to defend your science, and you use science to demand policies.  This whole thing seems to me to boil down to the traditional clash of values between the greens and the libertarians.

So does this make more sense?  I think a fairly large number of scientists will sign up to believing this ideology, but few will want to be regarded as ideologues.  Are we getting closer her to clarifying this?  I think so (hope so).

380 responses to “No ideologues: Part III

  1. No. Sorry but I think you are wrong about this. AGW is forced with a religious zeal and edict against circumspection that is clearly dogmatic.

    • You are exactly right.

      Dogmatic religion is internally consistent.
      Dogmatic science is internally inconsistent.

      With kind regards,
      Oliver K. Manuel
      Former NASA Principal
      Investigator for Apollo

    • In general, true. Now there are many seperate groups that subscribe to AGW, and for various reasons, in order to “achieve” a goal or goals –unique or not. If we consider any group not involved in the science of AGW as a mere straphanger, it does make it easier to focus.

      Given the above, what is it that makes AGW an idology of choice for the scientist, individually or as groups, within the various professions of science?

      Mann, and a few others, would seem to have been bitten by the bug of “Selfrightousness” and be smitten with the flu of Meadiaitis Fameous and Fortuneous.

      • Given the above, what is it that makes AGW an idology of choice for the scientist, individually or as groups, within the various professions of science?

        It’s a religious substitute for those who aren’t supposed to be religious.

        /tips hat at Oliver/

  2. Malcolm Miller

    Your definition of ideoplogy as a motivation for climate alarmism is good, but surely it’s simpler to describe climate madness as the dogma of a new religion, which has powerful prophets rather like the lesser ones who persude their followers to give them all their money, and allow them unlimited sex, but with far greater resources.

    • Malcolm seems to go a little into the realm of fantasy.

      There is a strong current of misanthropy in our present day society. From stranger danger to global catastrophe there appears to be little good in the actions of our fellow human beings, it’s unfortunately the prevailing zeitgeist. In many ways climate science is no different to the way different stands of research into infants, development, neuroscience etc. are used in the debate around state intervention in family life, you could think of many more examples were the experts are wheeled out. Fear politics have replaced any sense of a progressive political future or even old fashioned ideas like common sense and gut feeling.

      Climate science and the political role it plays has to been seen in that broarder political context otherwise you end up focusing unnecessarily on the individuals. In that sense the solution won’t necessarily come from within climate science but Judith is right open dialog can’t harm things.

  3. ego – Belief in one’s own PR, propelled onto a world stage at a young age – no way to back down –

  4. “The rest of it is politics”

    I completely disagree, you’re putting far too many things under the category of “politics”.

    #3 is not a political position. It’s perfectly fair and reasonable for a scientist to point out that research that looks nominally scientific has been funded by special interests purely to reach a satisfactory answer. This is not something imaginary that lives in Dr Mann’s head, it’s real.

    #2 is also not politics but neither is it strictly science, it’s simply Dr Mann’s opinion and he prefaces it as such with “I believe…”

    #5 and #6 are comments on politics but a comment on politics isn’t necessary political. Also I don’t see how the quote used in #5 actually supports the header for it.

    I’m not arguing that scientists never get involved in politics but you apparently not only want scientists to not get involved in it but to not even comment on it or acknowledge that it exists. I also don’t see how climate scientists can ignore the actions of special interests that try to set themselves up as alternatives to the scientific process but with the answers already decided.

    “This whole thing seems to me to boil down to the traditional clash of values between the greens and the libertarians.”

    As per my comment on your other posts this is certainly an element of the debate however I generally find “the greens” to be somewhat absent at least online. Libertarians are busy walling themselves off from reality on many more topics than climate science so I find they’re generally not all that persuasive to people who aren’t already libertarians.

    An important note is that it’s possibly to have an ideology without being an ideologue. I don’t think using it in conjunction with the IPCC is really much more helpful than “dogma” because it implies the organisation exists for the purposes you’ve stated and then goes looking for supporting evidence rather than those positions can be assigned to it because that’s where the current evidence points (even if you don’t think it’s the place for its members to be stating some of the types of conclusions you state).

    I think the use of language is important in a debate such as this. For example even though I agree the word “denier” is accurate in some instances I don’t use it myself nor think anyone should use it because it’s a loaded term which communicates the wrong things to many people. The same goes for “dogma” and “ideology” as applied to the IPCC, you may feel the terms are accurate under a certain light but you cannot ignore how statements with those terms will be interpreted.

    • You may say #3 isn’t political, but it certainly isn’t science. “I believe” in #2 doesn’t sound like science. Not much of it is science, is it? Is Mann a scientist or “not a politician” in your view?

      • Jim,

        Scientists are scientists when they’re following the scientific method which typically when they’re researching and publishing in their area of expertise. It’s not very notable to say that scientists make statements which fall outside those bounds.

        Dr Mann is unquestionably a scientist. I also think it would be very hard to say he’s a politician so “not a politician” is what I’d pick.

        I believe the issue is whether scientists act as particular political or policy advocates or even activists not whether they hold or even express political or policy opinions.

      • So, by scientific method, you mean the climate scientists form a hypothesis, then test it via experiment? Models are not experiments, BTW.

      • “Models are not experiments.”

        What the!?

        Jim, can you name a single experiment in all of the history of science that is not a model?

        Throwing cannonballs off the tower of Pisa is a model for the behavior of bodies under the influence of gravity, not all bodies under the influence of gravity.

        By definition an experiment is an attempt to model.

        Computer simulation models in many cases are better thought out and better reflect the general case than many experiments. It’s true this can’t be said of all computer simulation models any more than it can be said of all ’empirical’ experiments that they are well-thought through and well reflect the general case.

        One of the favorite pastimes of scientists is knocking holes in the applicability of one anothers’ models.

        This argument you present is like a matrioshka doll of straw men, one nested within the other.

        Are you saying in particular that Dr. Mann is not a scientist, or are you saying that anyone who disagrees with your point of view is not one?

        Is your statement anything other than something contradictory-sounding that doesn’t really contain any meaning at all, other than as a purely political attack?

      • You say “can you name a single experiment in all of the history of science that is not a model?”
        I will agree that every single experiment needs a model to be interpreted or a model was required to ask for the experiment.

        BUT not every model is an experiment, and not every model is a theory.
        A model is within the scientific method when it is falsifiable.

        Models that predict unfalsifiable consequences are video games.

        It is necessary to have modeling tools to interpret the world around us within the scientific method, but it is not sufficient. Having a model does not mean that reality is interpreted correctly just because there is a model.

        I have found in these weather/climate blogs that people are not familiar with the “necessary and sufficient” basic logical premises for proving things in math and science in general.

      • anna v

        “BUT not every model is an experiment, and not every model is a theory.”

        A very true statement which in no way speaks to my statements. Please allow me to clarify.

        “A model is within the scientific method when it is falsifiable.”

        If we’re taking a model to be defined as an abstraction containing a representation of a real world object, event or dynamic, and the falsifiable part of the elements of the subset of models we call ‘experiments’ is the hypothesis, absolutely the experiment sounds like it meets the criteria of the scientific method.

        Having agreed on the scientific method, cherry picking which experiments we interpret, or prejudicing our intepretation on any unscientific basis is an irrational act.

        I’m with you, often “people are not familiar with the ‘necessary and sufficient’ basic logical premises for proving things in math and science in general.”

        A computer simulation model can meet all of the necessary logical premises for a proof.

        This can be readily demonstrated for example by computer simulations in Queue Theory, where meaningful experiments have been conducted by the scientific method on computer for decades.

        Some computer simulation models might not be fit for experiments.

        Some experiments might be fit to prove far less than the interpreters’ bias dictates.

        However, it is too broad a statement, lacking credible foundation and refuted by counterexample, to claim all computer simulation models are somehow inferior to the uses of the scientific method.

      • “If we’re taking a model to be defined as an abstraction containing a representation of a real world object, event or dynamic, and the falsifiable part of the elements of the subset of models we call ‘experiments’ is the hypothesis…”

        What utter gobbledegook. Sure, any traditional experiment can be described as a “model”. But a COMPUTER model cannot be described as an experiment. Here’s what the Oxburgh committee’s Michael Kelly has to say on the matter:

        “I take real exception to having simulation runs described as experiments (without at least the qualification of computer’ experiments). It does a disservice to centuries of real experimentation and allows simulations output to be considered as real data. This last is a very serious matter, as it can lead to the idea that real ‘real data’ might be wrong simply because it disagrees with the models! That is turning centuries of science on its head.”

        He concludes with

        “My overall sympathy is with Ernest Rutherford: “If your experiment needs statistics, you
        ought to have done a better experiment.””

        I leave it to readers to reconcile the Oxburgh Report as published with Kelly’s contribution to it as best they can.

      • TomFP

        Dictionary definition. Gobbledegook. Po-tay-to. Po-tah-to.

        Michael Kelly’s idolatrous worship of centuries of ancestral practices no more moves me than religious zealots preoccupied with ritual scarification of their own offspring.

        Why ought analog computers such as timepieces, rulers and mercury thermometers enjoy some divine grace above digital processors? This is arguing a slide rule is morally superior to an abacus, or a flask must trump a beaker on ethics.

        It is flummery to imagine Ernest Rutherford firing alpha particles at gold foil is somehow ‘all atoms’, not an abstracted analog device for revealing the nature of atoms. Foucalt’s Pendulum is an analog computer to model the Earth’s rotation about its axis.

        It is as specious to argue against computer simulations on the grounds that misinterpretation might lead to the conclusion that ‘real’ data is wrong as it is to argue that ‘real’ data is always right and unquestionable.

        It betrays willingness to ignore the history of experimental science, containing untold generations of conflicting ‘real’ experimental results butting heads and new understandings evolving in the outcome.

      • That’s just silly Bart. Dropping a cannon ball off a roof and MEASRURING the rate of speed or acceleration is a physical act and a physical MEASUREMENT, not a model. The equations that result from such observations are the model. This is something some climate scientists don’t understand. You could say they are dogmatic about models being an actual representation of reality and that the running of them represents an experiment.

      • Excellently put.

        Jeez, if such basic stuff as this has to be spelt out, there really is no hope for the field of climatology or for any climatologist to call themselves a scientist.

        A model is only any good if the observable world out there behaves the way that the model predicts. If you don’t do the experiments to verify or otherwise, your model has precisely no value at all.

        Einstein predicted, using his model of relativity, the astronomical effects that could be observed near a solar eclipse. Eddington went to South America to photograph the event and came back with the correctness of Einstein’s model demonstrated (in this particular circumstance). You can read about it here

        from the TES, not wiki.

        The idea that a model should agree with experiment, not the other way round is absolutely fundamental to science. And the lack of understanding of this basic point is one of the many failings in AGW theory that make me a sceptic.

        And I do ‘deny’ that an untested model can make predictions of any value at all. To believe otherwise is to believe in fairies and pixiedust.

      • Latimer Adler

        Basic stuff must be spelled out, or links to the basics provided in a way that obviously supports claims. That’s not the weakness of climate science, but a strength in any science.

        Otherwise we end up with ambiguously irrefutable nonsense parading around as authoritative opinion.

        We end up with people switching two digits so 2310 becomes 2130 in reports about glaciers.

        We end up with angry retirees running FOI fatwa campaigns so they can see what scientists refuse to spell out.

        We end up with people of all backgrounds who struggle to make sense of the world stumped, stymied and frustrated by the inaccessibility of things that matter to them.

        I don’t really need to be reminded again of Albert Einstein’s genius, it having cost me great difficulties, though it still tickles me every time I am reminded, so I thank you for the link.

        I know we are using ‘model’ in two different ways, and it antagonizes many with a particular background to see both meanings applied in the same thread. I regret my word choice earlier, and ought have couched my opinion in more amenable terminology.

        However, I’ve heard very many claims of failings of computer simulation models in a broad handwavy sense, but except for two specific and narrow cases the models I’ve looked at lacked the characteristics of the failings described. Perhaps if you could point to three such cases and explain how they meet your criteria for failure?

        Also, I’d been cautioned from my earliest schooling in science, to never confuse a theory with any experiment.

        Why do you conflate AGW theory with AGW experiment?

      • Latimer Alder

        Hi Bart

        There is much in your post that we can agree on. I thank you for providing a sensible reply. You are right…my opening remark was somewhat testy, and if we had an edit facility I would have changed it.

        But I confess to still being baffled as to the two different meanings of ‘models’ that you seem to believe exist.

        Let me give you a bit of personal history and you can tell me where, in your opinion, I am missing your point.

        Way back when as part of my MSc I worked on computer modelling of the kinetics of some particular processes in physical chemistry. We thought we had a good theoretical understanding from first principles (including quantum effects) of these processes and were reasonably confident that we could produce testable predictions. Working alongside me (literally at the same bench) was a colleague who was setting up the experimental apparatus to do the test and compare the theory with the practice. We each invested about 6 months work in our efforts.

        But when we came to run the experiment, the reality did not match my predictions. Not even close. The world did not work according to our theory. It was not a case of a bit of tweaking here and a few parameter adjustments there. It was outright and plain wrong.

        So like good scientists we scrapped the theory and went back to the drawing board. I got my MSc (for effort rather than success) and went off to do something else for 30 years.

        So that is my definition of a ‘model’. Something that can make useful and testable predictions. That demonstrates its utility by verification.

        As far as I can tell, climate models do not do this. They (either wilfully or by omission) do not make easily testable predictions. But always fairly vague generalisations about what may happen well beyond the lifetimes of any current participants. They do not put their balls on the block.

        To my mind, such models are in exactly the same state as mine was before Joe turned on his pesky experiment. Soundly based in theory, programmed with style and panache…and just needing a few moments of experimental confirmation to show how wonderful they are.

        There is a great and deeply regrettable tendency in ‘climate science’ to rely exclusively on models and to ignore or avoid experiment. If the best argument for CO2 producing warming is that we can’t think of anything else and our models say it must be true, then I fear that the evidence is weak in the extreme.

        So – there is my understanding of the role and limitations of modelling. Please tell me where yours differs. Cheers

      • Latimer Alder


        My understanding of the role and limitations of modelling is, if anything, narrower and more strict than yours.

        Whenever anyone discusses experimental models, if they are making specific claims about applicability, I prefer to hear an enumerated list explaining that set of claims.

        While saying generally models can or might do something is nonspecific, saying models NEVER do something (outside of the definition of models) is specific to every model.

        Here’s a specific example based on your experiment:

        Disproof is one role of computer simulation models. While no simulation may ever prove that the world works in one way and one way only even by a successful run (though it might give a pretty compelling picture), the failure of a simulation to produce results within valid parameters pretty conclusively shows that at least the behavior the simulation proposes is not the way things work. A well-designed failure might eliminate not just one, but whole ranges of proposed mechanisms.

        If the best argument for CO2 producing warming rested only in computer simulation models, you might be right; that computer simulation models don’t disprove in specific ways the otherwise already well-founded claim of CO2 warming collapses many of the corollary specific contrary claims however, and that is of use.

        The scientific inquiry can be narrowed and focused into productive avenues as a result. It sheds light where there had been darkness. That’s got to be useful.

      • Jim

        Any model used as part of an experiment where actual “MEASRURING” took place might be valid, then?

        Sounds pretty much like what I’ve heard about climate simulations; that they’re based on real “MEASRURING”. That the figures input are selected to match real world climate measurements, and the results calibrated against real world results from initial conditions. Not perfect weather predictions, but valid climate abstractions.

        I’ve yet to encounter in the literature of climate science any claim that the computer simulation models were in fact reality. I’ve encountered Dr. Curry’s very useful clarification that some models are run in a perpetual January condition which might invalidate a great deal of the usefulness of the model. That seems to be a much better objection, as it offers insight into interpretation and limitations of models, than “but the Matrix isn’t real!”

        And really, I’ve seen some crummy ’empirical’ experiments, ‘proving’ everything from phloegiston to spontaneous creation of life. A good experiment is a good experiment, until superceded by a better one.

        It’s my understanding that the best argument against an experiment is to supercede it.

        So, where’s your improvement on computer simulations?

      • Bart. An scientific experiment consists of the manipulation of the REAL WORLD in a prescribed manner, devised to obtain measurements that will be compared to the predictions of a hypothesis. Dropping the cannon balls and measuring when they hit the ground is the experiment. The concept is that there exists a force that pulls objects toward the Earth, we will call it gravity. The (simple) model is F = mg. Running models in computer memory and processor do not constitute a scientific experiment. Climate scientists need to make some measurements, these would be the experiments, on the real world to confirm the models (these would be the code and computer).

      • Jim

        We’re going around in a loop here.

        You’ve restated your position without addressing the points you are replying to.

        Just and only running simulations in computer memory sometimes does not constitute a scientific experiment. Saying it never does is a claim falsifiable by a single counterexample; I have an entire field of science cited as Queue Theory to prove your claim simply false.

        Disprove Queue Theory, or explain how your claim accommodates it.

        And it sounds to me ludicrous for anyone to claim, with the controversy over thousands of weather stations and their decades of data, of satellites and balloons and sunspot counting that they haven’t heard of climate scientists making some measurements.

        Your arguments as they stand are built on sand. On the illusion of sand. On false statements that do not bear the least scrutiny.

      • Bart. You certainly have a talent for confounding the facts. Queue Theory is a mathematical construct. In fact, it is used to model certain phenomena. So, in a way, you have proved my point. Mathematical equations, either alone or as part of a computer program, are used at times as models for various physical phenomena. When you run a model, it is termed correctly as a model run, not an experiment. It has been pointed out that climate models are “trained” on measurements. Since the computer models can’t reproduce climate a priori, this means that not only are the computer models only models; they are incomplete models on top of that. Your contention that running a computer model is EVER a physics experiment is ridiculous.

      • Jim. You certainly have a talent for missing the point. Newtonian Mechanics, General Relativity and String Theory are mathematical constructs. In fact, they are used to model certain phenomena. So, in that way, you have missed my point. Mathematical equations, either alone or as part of a computer program, are used at times as models for various physical phenomena in one narrow sense of the word model. When you run a model in this narrow sense, it is termed correctly as a model run, not the whole experiment. It has been pointed out that climate models are “trained” on measurements, as were equations pertaining to Millikan’s oil drops, de Broglie’s diffraction slits and Cavendish’s torsion bar. Since weighted balls on a bar are not planets, this means that not only are the ’empirical’ models only models; they are incomplete models on top of that. Your contention that running a computer model is NEVER valid within a physics experiment is ridiculous.

      • Bart. You are completely hopeless. Bye.

    • Steven Mosher

      1. Anthropogenic climate change is real:
      This a scientific position that can be tested by observation

      2. Anthropogenic climate change is dangerous and we need to something about it:
      This is a prediction that cannot be verified or falsified although we have
      good reason (models) to take notice of it. It is also a moral statement about
      our transgenerational obligations which is not scientific

      3. The fossil fuel industry is trying to convince people that climate change is a hoax:
      This is a generalization that may have been true in the past. With their funding of certain climate change centers it is not entirely true. The other point is that this is OBE, McIntyre and Watts have more influence than the fossil fuel industry ( with the public) and the bad example set my Mann is far more powerful than they are.

      4. Deniers are attacking climate science and scientists:
      Gross generalization. Yes some do. Some attacks are deserved; other attacks are not.

      5. Action is needed to prevent dangerous climate change:
      See number two.

      6. Deniers and fossil fuel industry are delaying UNFCCC mitigatory policies.
      hard to see this as being scientific. I’d blame the people who set up policies that could not be enacted.

      I believe in AGW. That would be number 1.

      The issue is this. If anyone who agrees with number 1 tries to QUALIFY or MODIFY or bring precision to 2-6, then the michael mann’s of the world try call us anti scientific, deniers, shills, etc etc. THAT is the point that Judith is slouching toward. There is no room for disagreement on 2-6, and 2-6 is where all the uncertainty and nuance and politics and personality and morality is. It’s the quashing of free debate within the group of people who believe #1 that is most trouble.

      Mann’s logic ( from the mails) is this. I’m under attack from giant forces, so we all need to hang together and speak with one voice and hold the thin green line.

      • Steve, in light of the invalidation of Mann’s hockey stick by McIntyre and now that McIntyre is beginning to unravel the land temps, why are you such an ardent supporter of AGW?

      • fundamental physics. GHGs warm the planet they do not cool it.

        The Land record, while not high quality, is supported by the SST record and the satellite records. It’s not wildly off.

        HS. the hockey stick merely overstates our confidence in past temps. Mc has said nothing more than this. Done right you just have bigger error bars.

        #1 is solid science. You don’t need to fight it. It’s the strongest part of the AGW case. Argue the parts that need improvement. That would make for a much better dialogue. Cause #1 really isn’t up for cogent debate. Unless you have physics that would:
        A) predict cooling instead of warming from increased GHGs
        B) explain a huge number of geological and contempory observations
        that contradict the theory you just proposed in A ( see C02 is a control knob…)

      • “Solid” seems more accurate than “settled.”

      • fundamental physics. GHGs warm the planet they do not cool it.

        It is also GHG by definition (tautological)

        #1 is solid science. You don’t need to fight it. It’s the strongest part of the AGW case. Argue the parts that need improvement. That would make for a much better dialogue. …

        Yeah but it doesn’t necessarily mean anything either.

        a) Warming could mean insignificantly small.
        b) Demonstrate a mechanism for GHG cooling? That is too easy. I don’t wish to refute AGW because I simply don’t know what the future holds. Nevertheless, there is a gaping flaw of unknown consequence in AGW argument.

        Flaw: Hysteresis effect

        What happens at present or in the near future is one thing. To presuppose that the trend persists in a monotonic manner assumes ceteris paribus .

        I trust what we do know.
        I lack confidence in what we don’t know.

        I don’t trust that the situation will remain ceteris paribus .

      • I keep seeing on some of the warmist blogs where the writer is still fighting the battle that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and that water vaport is a feed back, etc, etc. I believe all that already. So, instead of all that, why don’t you explain all you don’t know about the effects of the clouds that cover 70% of the planet?

      • Steve,
        While (from what I have learned) I agree with you that more CO2 will lead to warming (purely from a physics standpoint, with nothing else being varied), the question in my mind is do other ‘natural variations’ override increasing CO2 from 280ppm to 400, or 500, or whatever. That is where I see the uncertainty.

        The solar (sunspot) cycles, and ocean cycles (and maybe the the ocean cycles have some relation to solar cycles) , the effect from clouds (could be negative even with more moisture evaporating per Dr. Roy Spencer) it appears to me could easily outweight any temp increase from CO2, even at 560 ppm.

        Is some of the latter 20th century increase from CO2? It is possible. Is it going to be ‘catastrophic’? It doesn’t seem that way to me (from all I have tried to learn about the issue). YET, should there be more done to move away from ‘fossil fuels’? YES, but not at extraordinary costs.

      • My way of putting things in perspective comes from Earth’s energy budget, which is, after all, the bottom line, and even skeptics accept the forcing number for CO2.
        Doubling CO2 has a forcing of 3.7 W/m2
        Millennial variability in solar forcing such as the Maunder Minimum: up to 0.5 W/m2
        Solar 11-year cycle: min to max 0.05 W/m2
        Changing earth’s albedo by 1% (currently it is 30%): 3.4 W/m2

        Natural variability is more on a par with the Maunder Minimum than with CO2 doubling, which has seven times stronger forcing. It is also interesting that without feedback the Maunder Minimum could only have contributed about 0.1-0.15 degrees C cooling, so it seems to be evidence of significant positive feedback that more cooling nearer 0.5 degrees was noticed in these solar episodes, similarly the 11-year cycle seems stronger than would be expected without significant positive feedback. Since CO2 surface warming is more nearer the Arctic regions, it might get some positive albedo feedback regardless of what the H2O or global clouds do.

      • ****
        Since CO2 surface warming is more nearer the Arctic regions, it might get some positive albedo feedback regardless of what the H2O or global clouds do.
        Is this due to radiative physics or more due to the fact that a Hadley cell terminates on the pole in a downward motion and also sometimes the seawater at the pole warms it?

      • CO2 has its strongest surface radiative effect in the polar regions where there is less H2O vapor to get in the way. In the tropics, the primary effect is at high levels, and the surface downward IR flux is only slightly affected by CO2 changes, because so much of it is due to H2O where the column has ten times more water vapor than at high latitudes.

      • Ahhh, so you are looking at the relatvive effect of CO2. Gotcha. You are isolating the effect of CO2 from insolation variations; incoming, non-radiative heat from the atmosphere; and heat from the oceans. You are not saying the CO2 warming at the poles overwhelms the other sources heating. Right?

      • I was saying it has more overall forcing, but the way this forcing manifests itself may be distributed differently from changes in direct solar forcing. It is certainly a first-order effect on forcing in the current climate, and is only increasing.

      • “fundamental physics. GHGs warm the planet they do not cool it.”

        er, what about the role of clouds et al?? You’ve added an assumption that there isn’t any negative feedback in the system. Didn’t realise the science was that advanced yet.

      • Steve, while I do not doubt the greenhouse properties of CO2, I’ve also seen a wealth of argument to the effect that the warming to be expected from increases (to be expected) to today’s level of CO2 is negligible. Being only partly scientifically literate, I don’t claim to understand all the arguments, so I can only apply the test available to anyone with my level of education, and say that they appear to be grounded in repeatable experiment, presented in falsifiable form, and not to have been successfully refuted. Moreover attempts to refute them have almost always included, and sometimes been confined entirely to, the usual cataract of ad hom, ad pop, ad everything-else that seems to characterise warmist debate. It’s fair to infer either that these are their best arguments, or that their forensic skills are so poor that they can’t distinguish between opinion and science. As a result their conclusions look even shakier than if they had remained silent.

        So for my money #1 is true, but only to a negligible extent. From a public policy/research-priority/funding point of view, the remaining questions are therefore nugatory.

      • steve mosher | November 7, 2010 at 8:57 pm
        ” the hockey stick merely overstates our confidence in past temps. Mc has said nothing more than this. Done right you just have bigger error bars. “

        Didn’t Steve have anything to say about tacking the thermometer record on the end to “hide the decline” and create the hockey stick blade?

        You do surprise me.

      • Don’t worry, tallbloke. Steve Mosher is just busy with some tactical diversions.

      • “#1 is solid science. You don’t need to fight it. It’s the strongest part of the AGW case.”

        Lol. Rubbish. LW has no mechnism by which it can heat the oceans.

      • The greenhouse effect from CO2 is not linear. It falls off asymptotically at levels above 300ppm. This needs to be front and center in any discussion of warming from GHGs.

      • So if all we needed to establish that AGW was a problem, was fundamental physics – the IR absorption spectrum of CO2 – how come we needed a huge research program in order to decide that action was needed? How come also, that AGW was not taken seriously many years earlier, when the global temperature was actually diminishing!

        Do you deny that the procedure used to extract the hockey stick graph will also work on low-pass filtered white noise (so-called red noise) – if so, what possible use can it be!

        The recording of land temperature data seems to be a scandal in itself – the loss of so many recording stations, with data replaced by interpolations, and temperature ‘adjustments’ that seem to supply most, if not all of the warming!

      • Craig Goodrich

        #1 is solid science. You don’t need to fight it. It’s the strongest part of the AGW case.


        It’s not the strongest part of the AGW case, it’s the only part of the case. And, where the overwhelming proportion of the greenhouse effect is from water vapor, with CO2 absorbing significantly only in the 15 micron band, when according to many atmospheric physicists’ calculations that band was very close to saturation at a much lower concentration of CO2 than the current one, and where not only the magnitude but even the sign of net feedback (mostly hydrological) is in serious question, it’s an extremely weak case.

      • The HS question is not just an issue about larger error bars its about estimating the level of natural variability in the system. It’s one of the lines of evidence that leads to the “most of the late 20th centurt warming…..” statement.

        We also have a transgenerational obligation to leave a more productive world. Nobody will thank us if we cripple the energy supply for a growing population. In this discussion of uncertainty this seems like one certainty that some are unwilling to discuss honestly. I don’t want to save society for my children by cutting off its arms and legs.

      • I’ve long become convinced that AWG is real and related to CO2. I have very little time for the ‘CO2 is plant food’ meme. However, my uncertainty as to the likelihood of catastrophic outcomes, the role of negative forcings & feedbacks, and perceptions (hopes?) regarding adaptation/ mitigation as viable strategies leave me labelled a ‘sceptic.’ I’m happy enough to wear and own the label though I find it irritating when it short-circuits any further discussion.

        It would be interesting to know Judith how you view this aspect of the issue given your original prominence in the field of hurricane research. The sceptical blogosphere seems to have spent a fair bit of time minimising predictions emanating from your own speciality.

        Inevitably, some of your work would be subject to oversimplification.
        Does this leave you feeling as though your contribution to the science (not the the policy debate) has been devalued? Or do you think the more thoughtful end of the sceptical spectrum has responded intelligently?
        I appreciate the question might be a touch ‘nosy’ but I don’t intend it as an intrusion. However, it would be one measure for gauging whether you’ve succeeded in engaging the well-intentioned end of the sceptical community albeit at the cost of hostility from colleagues.

      • Latimer Alder

        Replying to Chris


        CO2 is Plant food meme? Try growing a plant in a CO2 free atmosphere. I guarantee you will not succeed. And you might like to ponder why hard-headed commercial growers spend hard-earned money on adding CO2 to their greenhouses. Its not just to abuse Mother Gaia.

      • Actually AGW – typo – sorry :-(

        I do realise plants won’t grow without CO2. Similarly, you and I can’t breathe in an O2 free environment. When you have surgery and a general anaesthetic, the anaesthetist will give you pure oxygen.However, living in a 100% O2 environment long-term will do serious damage to your lungs. Too much of anything for too long doesn’t do you good.

        Similarly, more C O2 might work well in a greenhouse, which is a highly specific environment. On the other hand, subjecting an entire planet to higher CO2 might have some consequences. Or maybe it won’t – I’d be happy if it didn’t. But I’d like to know so that we as a society can make informed as opposed to reflexive choices.

        As I see it, Judith has embarked on this venture in an attempt to help us work through this issue in a more informed and rational way.

      • Roddy Campbell

        “The issue is this. If anyone who agrees with number 1 tries to QUALIFY or MODIFY or bring precision to 2-6, then the michael mann’s of the world try call us anti scientific, deniers, shills, etc etc. THAT is the point that Judith is slouching toward.”

        That’s correct in terms of the ‘ideology’ discussion. It’s also what people get wrong in general, for example the #97% of scientists’ meme – yes of course 97% believe in ghg effect. Do 97% believe in cap and trade, or the possible effects on human life loss in Bangladesh 2050-2100 due to ghgs? No, of course not, they have no idea.

        My stock answer is:

      • “This is a prediction that cannot be verified or falsified although we have good reason (models) to take notice of it. It is also a moral statement about our transgenerational obligations which is not scientific”

        I don’t believe the science is good enough to say authoritively that climate change is dangerous for many regions however it is a verifiable/scientific statement. I don’t think it would be reasonable to say “Smoking is dangerous to your health” can’t be verified because it’s a moral statement. There is going to be room for disagreement whether a change is “dangerous” or not in some regions but in others it will be hard to disagree.

        “hard to see this as being scientific. “

        I agree it isn’t scientific but I don’t think it’s a binary choice between scientific/political.

        ” If anyone who agrees with number 1 tries to QUALIFY or MODIFY or bring precision to 2-6, then the michael mann’s of the world try call us anti scientific, deniers, shills, etc etc.”

        I can’t say this never happens because I’m sure it does sometimes but I think the “deniers etc” rhetoric is aimed generally at people who try to argue against fairly straightforward scientific conclusions like the greenhouse effect or who use the well worn contradictory arguments like “There is no warming and anyway the warming is natural”.

        On the recent realclimate discussion about opening up the code for GCMs a commenter there (not one of the scientists as far as I know) accused me of engaging in hysterics and banging my drum because I think opening up the code increases the credibility of scientific work. That’s obviously a pretty extreme and unreasonable viewpoint but I don’t think it’s enough to simply lambast the originator for being unreasonable anymore than it is to hurl “Denier!” at people who use arguments of the type above.

        “Mann’s logic ( from the mails) is this. I’m under attack from giant forces, so we all need to hang together and speak with one voice and hold the thin green line.”

        I don’t support that type of thinking at all but the task at hand is how to convince at least some scientists to come out of the bunker just as we have to convince others to step away from the artillery launcher. Terminology like “Denier”, “Dogma”, “High priest” etc simply prolongs the conflict rather than helps disarm it. References to congressional hearings and subpoenas is the equivalent of introducing nuclear weapons into the conflict.

      • Steve, perhaps I did not ask the question as clearly as I should. You emphatically state that AGW, not GW, is real. My point is that given all of the shenanigans of Mann, Jones, Wang, Hansen, etc., why are you so confident that anthropogenic forces are at play? You are quite aware of all the potential sources of CO2. Given the sloppiness of their maths and the low quality of their data collection, I still question to certainty of AGW.

      • Overlooking the comments about modern data collection, you must realise that it ain’t just MM who’s produced the graphs you are concerned about.

      • Bob,

        “Given the sloppiness of their maths and the low quality of their data collection, I still question to certainty of AGW.”

        You can throw out the work of Mann, Hansen etc entirely and you’re still left with the 30 year satellite record showing warming.

      • and you would tie that to c02 how…. or do you think 30 years of temp data is sufficient to give a decent indication of how the climate works….

      • “and you would tie that to c02 how”

        By showing that the increase was consistent with the known greenhouse properties of C02 and that other factors (e.g. solar variation, orbital shifts) were not sufficient to explain the increase.

        The various inconsistent arguments attempting to explain the increase without C02 are far from satisfactory.

        “or do you think 30 years of temp data is sufficient to give a decent indication of how the climate works….”

        I think 30 years of data is good enough to show it’s been warming for 30 years. Apparently though the Earth just happened to start warming and the arctic ice just happened to start declining at the time we launched satellites to measure them, or so the argument goes.

      • “By showing that the increase was consistent with the known greenhouse properties of C02 and that other factors (e.g. solar variation, orbital shifts) were not sufficient to explain the increase.”

        Has that been done comprehensively? Hasn’t there been recent work that perhaps shows that the suns role has been downplayed? Are there maybe other factors at work that we don’t understand or that the ‘consensus’ ignore?

        To shamelessly steal a link provided by someone else in this thread (apologies i forget whom)

        This alone would present a compelling argument for natural variation- how would you comprehensively show that this was not the case?

        “The various inconsistent arguments attempting to explain the increase without C02 are far from satisfactory.”

        Natural variation, including combinations of the MANY cycles that affect the planet, both internal and external would seem a good place to start. Infact given the vostock data you’d have to supply a bloody good reason to show it WAS co2 (note- not arguing the IR capabilities and basic ‘physics’ one iota. But as we ALL know, this is not the whole story in a highly complex system such as the earths climate).

        “I think 30 years of data is good enough to show it’s been warming for 30 years. Apparently though the Earth just happened to start warming and the arctic ice just happened to start declining at the time we launched satellites to measure them, or so the argument goes.”

        True (about the warming)- but that doesn’t ACTUALLY tell you anything, except that it’s been warming. Anything else is a logical leap unsupported by anything except your positional belief.

        As for 30 years giving us enough information to state anything with any certainty; What’s the average length of the PDO, or the AMO? What about the shifts in the earths orbit? How long do those take? Why are they discounted? what’s the rational? Do you even know??

        Finally- do not fall into the logical fallacy of using symptom to prove cause. Melting ice proves nothing exceopt that the planet is warming. You can not use it to prove co2/man is the cause (regardless of whether he is or not)

      • “Hasn’t there been recent work that perhaps shows that the suns role has been downplayed?”

        No there hasn’t. There’s been recent research which over a very short time period indicated the sun contributed to a warming trend when it was expected to show cooling. The implications of this (if any are to be drawn and the scientists who performed it say more work is needed first) is that solar variability explains less of climate variability not more.

        “Are there maybe other factors at work that we don’t understand or that the ‘consensus’ ignore?”

        You can play that game all day long. Skeptics rely both on C02 not working the way it’s currently understood and on some completely unknown factor (although they’re sure it’s definitely outside our control, whatever it is) having approximately the same effect.

        “Natural variation”

        Sorry but “natural variation” is not an explanation despite what skeptics of AGW seem to think. You’re simply moving the explanation to what should be another measurable process and if skeptics want an alternative to overtake AGW they need to identify that process explicitly.

        ” What’s the average length of the PDO, or the AMO? What about the shifts in the earths orbit? How long do those take? Why are they discounted? what’s the rational? Do you even know??”

        What makes you think they are discounted? I read claims all the time that somehow climate scientists attribute change to only one factor (C02) and discount the rest yet when I read what climate scientists say (or the IPCC reports) I find this isn’t true.

        “Melting ice proves nothing exceopt that the planet is warming.”

        So it’s therefore reasonable to invoke it when people claim the temperature data is corrupt or unreliable. I don’t believe the arctic ice extent is aware of any “adjustments” made to temperature records by climate scientists.

      • “There’s been recent research which over a very short time period indicated the sun contributed to a warming trend when it was expected to show cooling.”

        Which show’s we don’t fully understand the suns role in climate. My ONLY point here.

        “You can play that game all day long. Skeptics rely both on C02 not working the way it’s currently understood and on some completely unknown factor (although they’re sure it’s definitely outside our control, whatever it is) having approximately the same effect. ”

        Zero idea what you’re trying to say here, especially as i haven’t said anything of the sort. Be specific in your critiques.

        “What makes you think they are discounted?”
        The fact that the IPCC have concluded that internal forcings cannot possibly explain the recent temperature change…. I thought that was obvious?

        “So it’s therefore reasonable to invoke it when people claim the temperature data is corrupt or unreliable. ”

        Not at all. These are two very seperate issues:

        -the first, using symptom to prove cause is a logical falalcy often used in this debate. If you cannot see the issue here, then we have problems.

        -the second is about the data integrity of one of the main variables for which the ‘theory’ is based upon.
        If we cannot say accuratley how much the planet has warmed then we cannot say accuratley what co2’s effect is (if any). We can then not say accuratley that man is the cause.

        “I don’t believe the arctic ice extent is aware of any “adjustments” made to temperature records by climate scientists.”

        An interesting attempt to discredit by arguing a losing point. As i’ve shown the ice melting (or not) is irrelevant wrt the data integrity.

        There are very clear distinctions here, if you can identify them then we can move the ‘debate’ on.

      • “Which show’s we don’t fully understand the suns role in climate. My ONLY point here.”

        If that’s your only point then it’s pretty obvious and well known. It’s also well known that “fully understand” is not something that applies to many spheres of knowledge, if any.

        In 100 years time we likely won’t “fully understand” the sun’s role in climate.

        “An interesting attempt to discredit by arguing a losing point. As i’ve shown the ice melting (or not) is irrelevant wrt the data integrity.”

        The problem (for skeptics) is that the real world is consistent with itself. Skeptics argue that “warming” isn’t happening and it’s a mere product of adjustment by corrupt scientists yet we can see the effects of warming elsewhere.

        So even if you throw out the entire surface temperature record, even if you throw out all the paleoclimate reconstructions (not just the ones by Mann), even if you go ahead and say 30 years of satellite data isn’t enough the effects of warming is real and measurable in places like the arctic.

        From my perspective that makes the likelihood of warming being real extremely high with “But what if Hansen…” type questions being something of a distraction.

      • Well, we can at least eliminate the sun as an explanation for recent warming. The simple comparison for GHG versus solar warming runs like this. The data shows
        – more warming at night than during the day
        – more warming at the poles than the tropics
        -warming troposphere with cooling stratosphere.

        The first 2 are obvious, if it were the sun the data would show more warming in the more sun exposed areas/times. The stratosphere shows that something is going on between the surface, the troposphere and the TOA – much better explained by heat being absorbed rather than directly transmitted from lower to higher levels.

      • Sharperoo- no skeptic is claiming that it hasn’t warmed. Seriously man, play the ball NOT the man.

        My points here are on the uncertainties (if we can’t even define the suns role how can we define mans) and the data collection- i.e. if we can’t even tell accuratley HOW much it has warmed (and it has, until recently- before you go off on one again), then how on earth can you attribute cause.

      • Crispin in Waterloo

        This is basically a repetition of the, “If we don’t know what the cause really is, 100%, then it has to be what I support as my favourite explanation” meme. This is a completely valid approach, as speculation/opinion. It is not anything even approaching ‘proof’ or deduction. Each time I read this oft-repeated mantra I wonder who the speaker thinks is listening.

        Dawkins uses exactly this argument to disprove the existence of God, or rather he flies it as a method of deciding how (he thinks) people came (erroneously) to the belief that there is a God: that there is no other explanation for some or other event like the existence of reality so ‘God musta dun it’.

        To claim that there are no other candidates for an explanation of heating and cooling is mendacious. There are many and they are all poorly understood in my view. To pick one in ignorance and especially /because/ of our ignorance is silly. To shut down debate about a subject that is admittedly poorly understood because doing otherwise ‘sends the wrong message’ shows how weakly supported the claims actually are. It shows opinion straying into ideology.

      • archiesteel

        Labmunkey said: “Sharperoo- no skeptic is claiming that it hasn’t warmed.”

        Actually, *many* skeptics are claiming it isn’t warming. Many claim it hasn’t warming in the past 10 years, or 15 years, or between 1995-2010.

        Many argue that the hockey stick is wrong, i.e. that there hasn’t been a sharp rise in temps during the past decades.

        Claiming that “no skeptic is disputing the warming” is not only patently false, it is easily disproved every time some skeptic points to record snowfalls and cold temperatures as proof against AGW.

        You should take that statement back.

    • “I completely disagree” Of course you do, Sharper, of course you do.

    • Mann’s first statement:

      Anthropogenic climate change is real: “there is a very consistent story told by surface, sub-surface, ocean, atmospheric, and ice observations that Earth’s surface is warming, and in a way that is only consistent with human-caused increases in greenhouse gas concentrations.”

      is a gross simplification for at least two reasons.

      First, there are many other important anthropogenic forcings other than CO2. The environmental community ends up arguing that the world is warming, ergo we have to reduce CO2. The recent article in Nature by Penner et al., however, found that methane, black carbon, and tropospheric ozone augment CO2 forcing by 65%. (In addition, reduction of sulfates also causes warming.)

      If Penner et al. are correct, then two conclusions follow: (1) CO2 forcing by itself might be considerably less than thought, and (2) we have a path to reduce warming that is far less expensive and can produce almost immediate results.

      Secondly, the issue isn’t whether the world is warming (everyone agrees), and it isn’t whether a doubling of CO2 would cause warming (everyone agrees). The question is, “how much?” What is the climate sensitivity to GHGs?

      By making this simplistic statement, Mann is essentially saying, ” Are you for science or against it?”

      But I’m for science, but against Mann’s construction of the issue. We need to know climate sensitivity, and we need to know our full range of options. If as many suspect climate sensitivity is on the low side, and if we can have substantial beneficial reductions in warming rates by attacking methane, ozone, black carbon, and overly large sulfate reductions, then that leads to one set of policy prescriptions that aren’t very economically harmful.

      But Mann’s simplification leaves no room for such analysis.

  5. Judith,

    I liked the Darby post on ‘ideologues’ too. But the term doesn’t come without baggage, viz. “I have a ‘philosophy of life’ but all you have is an ‘ideology'”.

    No matter, I think it is probably an improvement, at least for discussion, and the way you set out the Mann stuff seems plausible to me.

    An advantage of the religion metaphor, however, is that there is a word for those who insist on telling you about the truth: ‘evangelists’. And there are notable ‘scientist-evangelists’ in the AGW domain. With all respect to Nick Darby, I don’t think that that spreading the message is a necessary trait of ‘ideologues’. Mann’s happiness to get into print with the same message each time is a sign that he is an evangelist. There are quite a few here, too, and they always seem unwilling to debate or discuss. Rather, they preach, and expect a silent and respectful congregation.

    So let’s go with ideology, in its Mannheim version (which is that put forward by Wikipedia), and see what happens.

  6. Dr. Curry: I like No Idealogues because it is neutral and doesn’t carry and emotional bagage that stimulates a closed mind to your bridge building that the present in common meanings that dogma or dogmatism carry. An idealology can be positive or negative. Using the criteria above to measure an polical group’s ideology to determine whether they are idealogues or not would be more fruitful.

  7. history of I G Farben
    Godwin in one move. Congratulations. Of all possible introductions to ideology you pick one that references the Nazis.

    • Nazi is short for the “National Socialist Party.”

    • Steven Mosher

      I thought he was talking about Gravity’s rainbow

      • Should it really be so little known in the US that IG Farben was the large chemical industry conglomerate that closely collaborated with the NS regime, profiting from Aryanization of other companies and supplying synthetic gasoline and Zyclon B?

      • It really is so little known.

        Same could be said of a dozen famous brand names more familiar to Americans.

    • Craig Goodrich

      Godwin’s law does not apply in climate discussions: It ceased to be operative the moment we realists were called “deniers”.

  8. Dr C
    You must be aware that ‘anathema’ is a word with an origin with religious connotations and a specific meaning in Christian orthodoxy.


  9. Dr. Curry,
    Your valiant effort in trying to find an “acceptable” word, IMO, is perhaps doomed. The lines are so sharply drawn between the two sides, that any attempt that will convince either side to come along will rile the other as dilutive. Perhaps all labeling should be like the Yin/Yang symbol, two contradictory terms conjoined l – dogmatic scientists, skeptic deniers etc.

    • I think you are on to something DEEBEE, the polarization of dualist complementary opposite camps of pro and con any subject is a sure way of ensuring endless debate that obscures the underlying unity of said subject.

      The Tao that can be described (by yin and yang) is not the Eternal Tao. – Lao Tzu

      In other words, REALITY itself is always on the other side of the concepts, theories, models, etc., that are put forward to represent or describe IT.

    • Back in the hayday beginnings of psychotherapy there were a number of ‘schools of thought’ (Freud was only one). Mann and the mediahounds of Climatology are no different than the Freud of yesteryear. Science will align with some worthy proponent and recognize such as the father/mother of “Whatever” (I doubt they’ll call it “Climatology” in 50 years.)

  10. AnyColourYouLike


    This kind of thing would seem to be a good example of Nick Darby’s #5.

    Final para:
    “We may not have a word for this type of crime yet, but the international community should find a way of classifying extraordinarily irresponsible scientific claims that could lead to mass suffering as some type of crime against humanity.”

    We’ve heard stuff like this sporadically for a few years now. Donna’s site has more examples. Some “well meaning” AGW proponents apparently miss the Orwellian undertones of there own rather scary rhetoric.

    • “Climate change and flooding is already affecting countries such as Bangladesh.”

      Crimes against humanity huh?

      We had better get The Guardian hauled up on charges for sanctioning overpopulation whilst whining about industrialization.

      • Re: (undefined NaN NaN:NaN),
        And the assertion is hooey. No countries ar flooding; B-desh is actually gaining territory: it’s a river delta, and the coastline is in constant flux. Currently growing.
        Same for the Maldives Scam-regime. The islands are coral, outgrowing the minuscule sea rises quite handily thank you. Etc.

        Rampant rent-seekers.

  11. AnyColourYouLike

    Above “there” should be “their”.

    Link to Donna’s article.

  12. Somebody once described political correctness as the belief that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end. Judith, as I said earlier, I doubt if seeking reconciliation through changing the terms will work. Ironically, Nick Darby attempts to do so, by rejecting dogma ifo ideology. Fine, but he then goes on, correctly, to describe the key features of ideology as “anathema” to science. Since “anathema” cannot be understood except in terms of the dogma it confutes, we’re back to square one. I don’t want to go OT, or to offend Americans, but it has been a hallmark of American society of the last 30 years to try to forfend bigotry by relanguaging it. I don’t think it has worked – all that has happened is that the English language has been tortured near to death. As Mr Miller (who obviously has had better things to do over the past couple of days than read this blog) helpfully illustrates, those who understand what you are saying will refer to IPCC “dogma” whether you, MT, BartvH or their moronic retinue of trolls, like it or not.

    • “Somebody once described political correctness as the belief that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.”

      And if you point out that there is no clean end, you are labelled “negative” :)

    • I like the way you think.

      Disagree with where it gets you, but the scenery is at least colorful.

  13. AnyColourYouLike

    Oops, getting the Politics out of Climate may not be so easy.

    With thanks to EdeF over at CA.

    From today’s LA Times.

    “”This group feels strongly that science and politics can’t be divorced and that we need to take bold measures to not only communicate science but also to aggressively engage the denialists and politicians who attack climate science and its scientists,” said Scott Mandia, professor of physical sciences at Suffolk County Community College in New York.”,0,545056.story

  14. Judith,

    I believe the categoriziing is so difficult as you are not dealing with a single individual. A group could have all of those categories ingrained.
    The difficulty is that many do not want to be involved or heard in case they are the next people on the chopping block if they have made a mistake.

    Science needs to be fully open for both criticism of the science of praise if it is really good. Allowing members of the same mindset has set science into putting bad science on top, not to be criticised and expanded upon for generations.

    Do you want your children growing with bad science? We have already created a great deal of damage in the mindset of past generations.

  15. Both “dogma” and “ideologue” have weaknesses, but they emphasize slightly different things. I don’t like ideologue because of its closeness to ideology, suggesting that it’s the possession of ideology which is the problem, which I don’t believe. In the 1930s Mannheim pointed out the difficulty of having a science free from ideology (what today might be a paradigm), but ideologue means something different – the partisan or zealous defense of an ideology by a person. In this way it’s similar to dogma, in that both are less about what sorts of beliefs are held, and more about how those beliefs are enforced upon others. Anyways, both of these terms are pretty loaded, and I’m not sure if they’re worth fussing about.

  16. AnyColourYouLike

    Actually reading that LA Times article these sematic nuances around “dogma” and “idealogue” are beginning to look like fiddling whilst Rome burns.

    A whole load of American-based “climate scientists” are ready to start what sounds like an aggressive propaganda campaign.
    “John Abraham of St. Thomas University in Minnesota, who last May wrote a widely disseminated response to climate-change skeptics, is pulling together a “Climate Rapid Response Team,” which so far has more than three dozen leading scientists to defend the consensus on global warming in the scientific community. Some are also pulling together a handbook on the human causes of climate change, which they plan to start sending to U.S. high schools as early as this fall.”

  17. AnyColourYouLike

    “Semantic” not “sematic”. Apologies.

  18. In a timely manner, WUWT has a post on mitigation vs. adapatation that fits #2, #3, and #6. It certainly fits in with the dogma/ideology angle.

    This reflects the conventional wisdom per most warmists that mitigation-to-the-extent-possible should be the policy response of first resort. If and only if that’s insufficient, should we turn to adaptation. But this is based on fundamentally flawed reasoning. First, consider if climate were to change but have zero impacts, then there would be no need for any climate change policies. Similarly, if the impacts of climate change were all positive, we would not be concerned about mitigation (i.e., reducing climate change) either, although we ought to try to make the most of the opportunities that climate change might provide. But the latter requires adaptation. That is, if all impacts are positive, we would be concerned with adaptation but not mitigation. What this tells us that the objective of climate change policies should be to reduce the net negative impacts (or net damages) from climate change by reducing its damages, taking advantage of its benefits, or a combination of the two. But there are two methods of reducing damages — specifically, through mitigation or through increased resilience (a form of adaptation) — and one method of taking advantage of opportunities, namely, adaptation. Thus, as a general matter we have to resort to both mitigation and adaptation, and we cannot a priori favor one over the other.

  19. The insistence that deniers are funded by a well-oiled (pun intended) disinformation campaign is hilarious. Greenpeace and NRDC and WWF etc etc outspend sceptics about 100 to 1, and get full media amplification of their press releases and “news” items, as well the government agencies come out with alarming reports. Climate Audit and WUWT are self-funded. It is alarmists who have gotten huge $ prizes. The attempt to paint alarmists as the persecuted underdog just doesn’t fly and no one believes it anymore. It is an excuse to explain away failure.
    The claim that there is risk and therefore we MUST jump straight to policy is again an attempt to short-circuit debate. How alarming? How much risk? How much uncertainty? What will it cost to mitigate? What about the benefits of warming? What will be the opportunity costs? What is the risk of economic collapse if we push too hard on the brakes? Asking these questions is forbidden. One is expected to obey.

    • It’s a pity you have to state such obvious points at this stage of the game. I just wonder how long the warmists will persist in those memes.

      • If you can really make predictions that are borne out, or make devices that work, you don’t need no stinkin’ memes…

    • archiesteel

      “The insistence that deniers are funded by a well-oiled (pun intended) disinformation campaign is hilarious. Greenpeace and NRDC and WWF etc etc outspend sceptics about 100 to 1”

      Ignoring the Koch Brother’s funding of climate change denial groups doesn’t make this statement particularly credible – and as we’re seeing these days in Wisconsin, the Kochs really put their money where their mouth is.

      As for WUWT and Climate Audit being “self-funded”, only an actual audit of their income would prove this.

  20. A Redeeming Gift from Climategate:
    A Chance to End Prostitution of Science!

    Selfishness, self-centeredness! That is at the root the Climate scandal.

    Future generations will reap enormous benefits if we avoid that trap.

    Thanks to Climategate, we now know that our governments used science as a tool of propaganda and distorted experimental observations on:

    1. The Sun’s origin.
    2. The Sun’s composition.
    3. The Sun’s source of energy.
    4. The Sun’s influence on Earth’s climate.

    Worse yet, young scientists were forced to choose between scientific integrity and government support for their research.

    We will cheat ourselves and future generations of benefits from the climate scandal if we waste time and talents on semantics, criticizing those who took public funds and distorted experimental observations. They are not at fault.

    Let’s find a way to change the flawed system that has prostituted science and made slaves of young scientists. We may never have this opportunity again.

    If Eisenhower was right, the supreme goals of our free society are at stake.

    President Eisenhower warned in 1961 that the domination of science by the power of government money is ever present, “that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite and threaten the supreme goals of our free society.

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

  21. It is curious that alarmists do not recognize that Steve McIntyre is not a climate change denier. He is a person who is appalled by sloppy science and unethical behavior. He is a detail person who believes that you can’t get the “right” answer by fiddling with the data, you should only do good science and what you get is what you get. I think this has contributed to his standing, because he doesn’t even have a dog(ma) in the race. So when he points out that an R^2 of .15 is meaningless and is as a result visciously attacked, people stand up and defend him because it is not about politics.

    • Funny,

      When I first met steve in person he turned out to be a liberal of all things. I almost left dinner. Same with Tom. we shared a common interest in getting the numbers right or living with the uncertainty

    • Craig,
      Steve doe not even know if we are facing a small or serious problem. He is clueless. You should know that Steve’s position is very political, despite him trying to (desperately) frame it otherwise.

      And he has in fact fiddled data himself…at least by omission– you failing to recognize that is telling of your support of the ‘skeptical’ dogma .

      I’m assuming that you think the SPC and NHC are alarmist too…:)

      How has McIntyre been viciously attacked? More so than he (Stephen McIntyre) has viciously attacked Mann or Briffa or others?

      • Craig,
        Steve doe not even know if we are facing a small or serious problem. He is clueless.

        ‘Clueless’ is he? Stupidity/naivete is the cardinal failing that every scientist can indulge in with impunity.

        You OTOH are too clever for that sort of foolishness …

      • viciously attacked?

        viciously? you must be an academic.

        Steve engages in some snark and sarcasm against Mann. irreverant. He does so in public. I would think that Mann’s private attacks and public “attacks”on McIntyre are on the whole much more unbalanced and unfair.
        ( that, ineffective and childish was what I meant to say)
        Whether it is talking to journalists or other scientists who will be peer reviewing paper’s that steve would submit, or scientists who might invite him to speak at their university. We could make a list I suppose and print all the things Mann wrote, and ask people to judge. Oh, that’s been done. How’s the McIntyre is mean meme working for you? How many hits do you have on the really funny videos you’ve done about Mac?

        Sad fact for you. Mann isnt funny. Steve is. Mann isnt sharp witting. Steve is. Mann cannot finesse anything. Steve is clever. most reasonable people reading the two characters side by side will like Steve and recoil at Mann. You might not like that. you might not agree with that. But you’d just be in denial.

        But the bigger issue is how Mann treats his own. They didnt much care for his histrionics. I trust them over anonymous you.

      • “How has McIntyre been viciously attacked?”
        Do you know nothing of the history?
        McIntyre was attacked by Mann in a number of RealClimate posts in 2004.
        (eg “False Claims by McIntyre and McKitrick regarding the Mann et al. (1998) reconstruction. A number of spurious criticisms regarding the Mann et al (1998) proxy-based temperature reconstruction have been made by two individuals McIntyre and McKitrick … “)
        The result was – McIntyre started Climate Audit! So Mann’s attacks backfired badly. Another feature of ideologues is that they lack insight and do not learn from their errors – so Mann’s current rantings are doing him no favours.

    • “He is a person who is appalled by sloppy science and unethical behavior”

      I can’t remember him criticizing or the NIPCC report.

  22. There are five attributes of ideologues:

    So, how do your five criteria apply to climate science?

    1. Absence of doubt

    Climate scientists have shown an appropriate level of confidence for the level of evidence and data supporting the claims. There is doubt about details: sensitivities, feedbacks, etc. But there is not lack of doubt on the order of free market libertarians, or of climate deniers.  The is a strong network of evidence supporting AGW, and contrary claims have not stood up to scrutiny.

    2. Intolerance of debate

    Climate scientists have repeatedly debated; it is this level of engagement that you are criticizing them for.  Anyone with claims against AGW will receive acclaim and praise if their theories stand up to scrutiny.  But, of course, they don’t stand up to scrutiny.

    Judith, once again you play both sides: you complain about engagement of scientists in public debate, while simultaneously claiming that they are intolerant of debate. You’re being disingenuous.  

    3. Appeal to authority

    You show no evidence of this. Climate scientists don’t say that AGW is true because Mann says so. They point to data and a broad network of interconnected evidence indicating AGW.  

    4. A desire to convince others of the ideological “truth”

    Now you’re begging your own point. If the truth isn’t idealogical, then this doesn’t apply. And, here, the truth is evidence based, not idealogical.

    5. A willingness to punish those that don’t concur

    Again, you’ve shown no evidence of this. Despite the claims to the contrary, dissenting papers are still published, careers aren’t ruined by dissent, and it’s all remaining quite civil.  And somehow you and Lindzen still have jobs.

    The only punishment being doled out is upon the people of Moscow via fire and the people of Pakistan and Atlanta via flood.

    Seriously, Judith, your case is so weak as to be nonexistent.

    • David L. Hagen

      You appear to be ignorant of the history of AGW alarmism.

      1. Absence of doubt
      Point 1 is obvious to most scientists –
      the question is whether anthropogenic contribution is 10% or 90%. We don’t know. The sign and magnitude of cloud feedbacks alone guarantee that we do not know this value.
      Yet See Mann’s statement under Point 2:

      I believe it’s not too late to take the steps that are necessary to mitigate truly dangerous future climate change.

      He firmly believes A) IPCC’s 90% anthropogenic impact,
      B) that it will have catastrophic consequences, and
      C) that massive mitigation effort is the only option.
      All three of those are ideologue statements, not scientific ones.

      2. Intolerance of Debate
      Al Gore repeatedly refused to debate Lord Monckton
      Cameron challenged Morano et al, then ducked.
      Hide the Debate: Cameron ducks Climate Debate with Breitbart, Morano, & McElhinney Monday, August 23, 2010By Marc Morano – Climate Depot

      3. Appeal to authority
      You will find repeated appeal to the 2500 scientists who contributed to IPCC’s AR4 as reason it is right – not that the models fit the data etc.

      4. See
      AGU forming a “Climate rapid response team”

      5. Punishing objectors.
      See climategate emails – gatekeeping of working to prevent papers being published etc.
      Check out the real world.

      • 1. Mann’s statement is compatible with all your points. Uncertainty doesn’t preclude cause for mitigation.

        2. Public debates are not scientific. That clearly isn’t what is meant by debate. Richard Dawkins won’t debate creationists for example because debating them would lend them credibility they a) don’t deserve and b) would exploit for propaganda.

        3. Appeal to authority is fine and proper. Knowing how many experts accept an idea is important for laypeople. It lets them make a quick assessment of an ideas credibility.

        4. That’s good. It would be nice if climate scientists hammered some of the rubbish skeptics publish on the internet.

        5. Was exaggerated and bogus

    • Panang: “Climate scientists have repeatedly debated; it is this level of engagement that you are criticizing them for.”

      With the greatest respect, the current debate would not still be so energised if Climate Scientists – especially the cabal at the heart of the IPCC papers – had been willing to openly share their work and debate their conclusions with others who have sound reasons of their own to disagree. It is their very abject reticence to debate anything that has caused the current lack of public confidence in their conclusions. I think Doctor Curry may have found the correct word when she proposes “idealogue”.

      I read with some delight Mr Abraham’s desire to enter the public forums with his coterie of supporters. I sincerely hope he can provide some much needed clarity to the “confidence” issue that is at the heart of the matter and genuinely debate the issues. I fear however that his real intention is to conduct a propaganda exercise via press release….if you’re right Panang – and I really hope you are – then perhaps we are about to get the public debate that this whole matter has been desperately needing for so long.

    • Panang, David L. Hagen & Saaad

      Thank you for the mainly cogent and mostly thoughtful analyses of what was actually blogged by our host. It was refreshing to read.

      The points you picked up were exactly the ones that caught my eye, too, though my issues are more simplistic matters of degree:

      1. Absence of doubt

      Easy to confuse with extreme enthusiasm for one’s proposition. Scientists in the past have been well known for staking their entire careers on one theory, and then with appropriate evidence taking up new ideas just as effusively. It happened a century ago in Physics, and more recently in Genetics.

      The test of absence of doubt is not the question, “What do you believe,” but, “What evidence would change your mind?”

      2. Intolerance of debate

      Also known as funding worries, fear of public speaking, and discomfort with non-scientific dialogue.

      The CRU emails, when read in any sort of detail, show both that debate is welcome and appreciated, and that some debate sends some correspondents into a rabid lather. That’s panic, not intolerance. It’s a human trait, and evidence only that humans in situations out of their comfort zone behave against their better nature.

      3. Appeal to authority

      And the second I hear anyone say anything equivalent to, “God is punishing us with climate disruption for our evil emissions,” I’ll buy this about that.

      It improves a discourse if there are references to prior known statements (as opposed to using them as appeals to authority), for the sake of providing a common foundation for discourse, shortening the overall time taken to reach the same point with new participants, and avoiding iterative argument (you already said that, I already said this; let’s agree to not repeat ourselves except as part of a new statement built on prior work).

      4. A desire to convince others of the ideological “truth”

      Erm. Desire to convince others of truth.. when did that get to be bad?

      Certainly, there’s systems of ethics posited on, “To the outsider, only lies,” but it’s not exactly a trait of systems of positive ethics.

      5. A willingness to punish those that don’t concur

      Which is difficult to materially distinguish from survival instinct to protect the discourse from those that don’t contribute.

      Is balking FOI requests from one party who doesn’t concur while freely sharing (without the need for FOI) with other parties who are in competition and also do not concur not more of a sign something else was going on?

      While I think Nick Darby may be going somewhere in his analysis, I’m not sure this particular general analysis fits well the specific case of climate science.

      Be great if it did.

      Then we’d have no doubt who was wrong, wouldn’t need to debate it, could use the natural authority of being the sole holders of the truth to punish those who don’t concur.

      Or something something..

  23. AnyColourYouLike | November 7, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    Actually reading that LA Times article these sematic nuances around “dogma” and “idealogue” are beginning to look like fiddling whilst Rome burns.

    To me, this whole issue (ie the argument over whether AGW is dangerous or not, whether we should be implementing a carbon price etc etc) is fiddling whilst Rome burns. The future trajectory of carbon emissions is almost completely in the hands of the Chinese and Indians, who show no sign that they are paying any attention to the debate whatever.

    Maybe we should all just move on and start talking about adaptation.

    • Re: (undefined NaN NaN:NaN),
      Considering that there’s likely to be some moderate cooling in the near term (harming agriculture) and some really gawd-awful nasty cooling in the medium to long term (end of the interglacial), practice in adaptation sounds like a really good idea!

    • Alex Heyworth

      Do you know, does WordPress have an option for writing in Chinese?

      I really need to see something like that so I can tell whether posters speaking of China have the least first-hand knowledge, or are merely reporting from unsourced opinion.

      • Alex Heyworth

        Sorry, don’t know anything about Chinese in WordPress.

        My statement about the Chinese and Indians is based on the actions of their governments, not on the beliefs of their people. I suspect that a majority in both countries have not heard of climate change.

      • Chinese characters in WordPress? Yes, try –

        I don’t know if the Chinese Government has lifted its block onWordpress blogs.

        Some information from a friend, recently returned from latest China visit (speaks and reads in several Chinese languages plus reads Classical Chinese), says people only speak of climate change in that the seasons there seem to be changing. Lots of interest though in 2012 being the end of the world.

      • E O’Connor

        Now that’s handy!

        I’m going to have to redouble my efforts, though, to learn the language before the end of the world.

  24. David L. Hagen

    Please fix #5, the grammatical tenses are wrong – OR you need a quote regarding a future catastrophe that needs to be prevented by action now.

    5. Action is needed to prevent dangerous climate change:
    “There are various episodes in our not-so-distant past when we were threatened by global environmental catastrophe and took action.” (Mann)

  25. I agree with David here, but for different reasons. (Never never raise the schoolmarm in me on grammar etc in essay writing, it’s not pretty.) Because the header is about climate but that’s not what MM is referring to.

    Perhaps restating it as “It is possible to take global action to deal with anticipated dangerous world-wide changes.” (Omit world-wide if you like.)
    Then MM’s comment follows naturally and automatically raises the earlier issues of acid rain and ozone hole/ CFC action.

  26. Judith et al,

    Doing on my BB, so apologize in advance for sentence structure, grammar & spelling. : )

    Using ideology in these discussions opens more avenues to the discussion of underlying ideas; the fundamental concepts; the premises that show the starting point of the logic that builds an ideology that can distort climate science … critical analysis and reason can be applied to evaluate an ideology.

    Using dogma in these discussions, although useful to highlight anti-scientific behavior of IPCC support climate scientist & climate scientists, I find it locks us into the theological context which is self-limiting. That leads to a cognitive dead end where the supernatural authority is appealed to..

    I applaud Judith’s efforts to delve into the ideas that are the sources of IPCC problematic ‘science’ assessments.


  27. Dr Mann creates skeptics. He’s not alone.

    I’m politcally centrist, yet whenever I hear the nonsense about BigOil Corp funding skeptics, my BS detector doesn’t merely ding — it goes into full on siren mode. That corporations are bad etc is a given for the left wingers out there. Right wingers, not so much. When a right winger hears the anti-corporate stuff, they’re thinking the speaker is a leftist, someone who isn’t playing for the home team. 50% of the elecorate DOES NOT think that it’s a given that corporations are inherently evil, so while invoking the “inherently evil” meme may work for the left wingers, it makes enemies of the right. Note that most of the most vocal deniers are right wing. This isn’t an accident. And it’s not because they’re inbred, stupid, anti-science hicks. It’s because Dr Mann lost them at “Hello.”

    The primary problem with politics in this case is that Dr Mann et al are so insulated from the public that they have no idea this is true. It’s a great deal like the NYT editor who (infamously) exclaimed that she was unable to understand how Nixon was elected; after all, nobody she knew voted for him. Similarly, Dr Mann expresses what I imagine is genuine surprise at the reaction by the denier camp. In his view, he’s *not* political; it’s simply a given that corporations are inherently evil, and so on. To the right, that’s evidence enough that he’s the enemy.

    Charles Murray (Bell Curve fame) just had a short WSJ article regarding eltism where the theme was that the elites had no idea whatsoever what it was like to be an ordinary citizen working a physical job with sore feet and so on. To me Dr Mann’s statements smack of the same problem.

  28. …The use of the word “heretic” in the Scientific American article just begged for the word “dogma” to be used.

    Not unlike those who accuse sceptics of attacking “science” itself – including, recently, a certain very prominent IPCC man shown in Climategate to be throwing sand in the cogs of science by hiding his data for years.

  29. that’s just silly. most of those points are nothing to do with the ipcc, they’re a consequence of the political arguments occurring in the usa (and a few other places). #1, and #2 are really all that the ipcc says (#5 = #2) – roughly in its science and impacts sections respectively. so while one can assume that almost all scientists involved “sign up” to #1, and a majority go along with #2, the rest of these points are either simple commentary or news stories.

  30. I think that this needs to be stated again – the word “heretic” was in the headline of an article written by a journalist, where the word or even the suggestion was completely absent from the body of the story. Possibly inserted by an editor or sub-editor to spice up an otherwise unremarkable ‘controversy’ story.

    Jumping from this, to IPCC “dogma” was a massive and ill-judged leap.

    Though there is an interesting synergy at work here – journalists have been increasing guilty of framing stories through simple conflict, and now we have a scientist who is also pushing a conflict narrative. See how JC was almost wearing it as a badge of honour. It’s a ‘perfect’ match. One that will most likely further reduce science reporting in favour of reporting on science that will be about this ‘conflict’.

  31. 1. Anthropogenic climate change is real: “there is a very consistent story told by surface, sub-surface, ocean, atmospheric, and ice observations that Earth’s surface is warming, and in a way that is only consistent with human-caused increases in greenhouse gas concentrations.” (Mann)

    Mann is no oceanographer. Longwave radiation doesn’t penetrate the ocean, and there is no mechanism by which a tiny amount of additional downwelling LW from the atmosphere is going to heat the bulk of the ocean to any significnt degree.

    Any increase in energy in the oceans is due to the sun being at a higher than average level of activity for most of the C20th. Solar shortwave energy penetrates tens of metres into the ocean.

    If you check the literature, there is a lack of any evidence for the warmer ocean being heated by the cooler atmosphere.

    Mann is wrong.

    • The political trick in Mann’s statement (and those of the Dogmatic Elite of AGW) is that it doesn’t matter if a statement is true or not, if you say it often enough the odds are Joe the College Junior and Jane the High School Freshman will believe you.

  32. 5. Action is needed to prevent dangerous climate change: “There are various episodes in our not-so-distant past when we were threatened by global environmental catastrophe and took action.” (Mann)

    I think Judith has the wrong summary title for this quote. It should be:
    Action is needed and is viable

    Firstly, I would guess Mann is alluding to the banning of CFC’s in various applications to reduce the ‘ozone hole’. The jury is still out on whether that ban has made any difference at all to ozone levels. More recent research seems to show that processes involving solar UV are the main regulator of ozone production, and many orders of magnitude more powerful than the effect of human contribution. Given that the sun was at it’s most active for 8000 years during the latter part of the C20th according to Sami Solanki, chief solar physicist at the Max Planck Institute, it may well be that ozone depletion and regeneration is a wholly natural affair, unaffected to any significant degree by human activity.

    Secondly, Mann seems to be trying to bull up the viability of mitigation strategies for co2. The IPCC are hoisted on their own petard in this respect. They cannot claim tht co2 has a ‘residence time’ in the atmosphere of many decades, and simultaneaously claim that mitigation strategies are going to make any difference in the next hundred years, the timespan of their ‘projections’.

    Mann is wrong again.

    • tallbloke

      It’s probable Dr. Mann is also referring to episodes such as Acid Rain, mercury poisoning, various Great Lakes initiatives, various nuclear disarmament treaties, the worldwide response to Chernobyl where technologists from some 20 countries assisted in the clean-up, and a list too long to otherwise recall.

      Picking your weakest defender is simply a straw man.

      Your previous post is similarly making up stuff that Dr. Mann doesn’t mean and didn’t say so you can attack him on it.

      Seriously, hasn’t he said enough actually appalling things that we need to read fabrications?

      • “Picking your weakest defender is simply a straw man.”

        Ozone is the one which has most relevance to the type of threat Mann claims co2 poses.

        From my point of view, the claims made about co2 and the evidence for them are as uncertain as the ozone issue, whereas the environmental cleanups you mention didn’t have that kind of uncertainty about them.

      • I had a schoolteacher who arranged her students by hair color. Didn’t make it relevant, except to her. Especially, didn’t make me most like the blonde behind me.

        At the time or just prior, uncertainties abounded in all of the issues I named.

        It makes sense to argue from the general to the specific.

        From one specific to another specific with weak relevance and a particularly weak position is strategic, is straw man, and is whether conscious decision or unconscious error of reasoning, simple falsehood.

      • “Your previous post is similarly making up stuff that Dr. Mann doesn’t mean and didn’t say so you can attack him on it.”

        “there is a very consistent story told by surface, sub-surface, ocean, atmospheric, and ice observations that Earth’s surface is warming”

        Thi seems unambiguous enough to me. He is trying to get people to think co2 has warmed the ocean, when he knows full well there is nothing in the literature to support that assertion. Or if he doesn’t he shouldn’t be saying anything about the ocean, since he’s a paleodendroclimatologist (and an appalingly bad one at that), not an oceanographer.

        It’s propaganda designed to scare the public. Not science.

      • Dr. Mann doesn’t say there is warming in each of these named areas of study, but that there is a “very consistent story.” He’s arguing to consilience, not temperature, in this statement.

        You know more than you say of what he means to find Dr. Mann’s statement unambiguous, or you have created another straw man by substituting “warming” for “a very consistent story.”

        It may be propaganda (which is a word with variable definitions). It may be designed to scare the public. (There’s far scarier things one could say, and far scarier ways to say them, so this would imply a poor design if it were true.) As for “not science,” the assertions do not alone contain sufficient weight of evidence to support that conclusion.

      • “Dr. Mann doesn’t say there is warming in each of these named areas of study, but that there is a “very consistent story.” He’s arguing to consilience, not temperature, in this statement.”

        He’s wrong. It isn’t a consistent story. Since the oceans have warmed, and we know it can’t be an increase in LW which has warmed them. Therefore it was some other climate forcing. The one that climatologists think was responsible for changes in Earth’s temperature before the increase in co2.

        The Sun has more to do with the 1975-2003 warming episode than climatologists try to tell us.

        The solar effect on climate can’t be measured by a simple consideration of varition in TSI, since it’s activity levels also affect atmospheric humidity levels, and water vapour is a much stronger ‘greenhouse gas’ than co2. Have a look at the correlation I have discovered for yourself:

        The IPCC and the funding agencies have neglected solar research. The ‘Nature’ journal completely stopped publishing solar papers.

        Why is that?

      • tallbloke


        That’s a terrible cough you have. Persistent. You should see someone about that. Makes it hard to understand anything you say.

        If you have a theory, could you point me to the textbooks you used to give yourself a grounding in the field so I could avail myself of them to catch up with your work?

        I hate deadware with a passion, but because you seem so enthused, if the list is compellingly interesting, I’ll bend on my rule against reading more in a day than my own mass.

        Alternatively, journal articles, methodological outlines, treatises, computer programs, or the glossies put out by corporate marketing departments?

        See, I’ve tried to follow what you’ve said, and it appears to have gaps my comprehension cannot vault, so I know I need more preparation.

    • Tallbloke ” They cannot claim tht co2 has a ‘residence time’ in the atmosphere of many decades, and simultaneaously claim that mitigation strategies are going to make any difference in the next hundred years, the timespan of their ‘projections’.”

      If you read what they say really really carefully, you’ll find that they’re trying to avoid scaring the horses too much. They =say= they’ve not run the models effectively beyond 2100, They =say= things will be a lot worse if CO2 isn’t reduced quickly – on the entirely logical basis that early reductions have bigger payoffs than later (just like mortgages really). There is talk of the rate of sea level rise getting faster and the eventual heights being far-too-many metres to contemplate.

      What do you think they say privately? ‘

      My guess is that they’re scared witless – I know I am.

      • I downloaded the sea level data a plotted it with two regressions. One for the 1993-2003 period when the sun was well above average activity levels, and one for the 2003-2010 period when the sun has been very quiet.

        here is the result:

        As you can see, the rate of sea level rise has fallen by around 33% since the sun went quiet. I’m a lot more inclined to base my judgemnets on this kind of empirical data than on model projections which don’t have the correct parameters for important climate variables (By the modelers own admission of uncertainty about cloud albedo).

      • Sorry I wasn’t clear. SLR is an easy one for people to visualise so I used that.

        The harder, nastier one is crop failures, it’s also harder to visualise unless you want to go the whole hog and look at food riots and famines. We’ve seen this year’s simultaneous damage to large producing countries from fire and flood, and there’s evidence starting to come in about yield reductions in rice and wheat because of higher nighttime minimum temperatures.

        That’s the one that really gets to me. I come from a drought prone part of the world so I suppose I have a bit of an interest here.

      • I think you’ll have a hard time trying to correlate food riots with global warming. Historically, food riots have followed harsh winters and harsh taxation and export policies.

        It seems that poor old co2 is going to get blamed for dought, flood, famine, pestilence, global heating, global cooling, and even global averageness.

        This is what makes co2 driven climate theory unfalsifiable. Theories which are unfalsifiable are pseudoscience.

      • Really?
        The food riots I recall seem to arise when prices rise as governments withdraw or reduce subsidies on certain foods – for whatever reason, often World Bank type obligations.

      • I’m talking historical here, like the food riots in the cold years immediately prior to the French Revolution in 1789.

      • Wasn’t there something called the Dust Bowl in the US caused by severe drought. Oh yeah, that was due to CO2 … or was it? Let’s see, that was in the ’30s, so no, it couldn’t have been CO2 since CO2 was still at a low level. Wait! If the A-CO2 hypothesis is correct and we all know the higher man-made CO2 will cause more droughts, there should have been NO drought in the ’30s!! There was very little A-CO2!! Doesn’t this contradict the CO2 AWG hypothesis?? Can you have it both ways?

      • Did you see this item on sea level rise?
        Some of those references are interesting.

      • None of the original studies factor in the one third drop in the rate of sea level rise since 2003. This is because they predicate their estimates on an assumed linear link between the rise in co2 level in the atmosphere and sea level rise. However, the is no evidence in the literature for a mechanism whereby additional co2 heats the ocean, and indeed since the sun went quiet in 2003, the ocean heat content of the upper 700m of the ocean hs been falling.

        Air temperatures and melting rates will lag behind this fall, since the ocean drives the air temperature, and there is ongoing warmig of the atmosphere as the ocean belches out the heat it has been ccumulating from a more than averagely active sun since 1935, but along with the one third drop in rise rate, that indicates to me that their have overblown their estimates.

  33. Well, let’s take a look:

    1. Absence of doubt

    Well, I see many ‘skeptics’ even posting here who appear to have no doubt whatsoever that AGW is wrong, or vastly overstated, even given that they have no coherent alternative position.

    2. Intolerance of debate

    ‘Skeptics’ in the climate debate have a strong dislike of scientific debate. By scientific debate, I mean things like taking scientific positions (such as ‘The sun is causing the observed temperature changes’) and being able to make a reasoned scientific argument for them, subject to later correction. No, ‘skeptics’ only like debate where fact-checking is minimal and the ability to argue by assertion and soundbite is unchallenged. How much effort has Mr McIntyre or Mr Watts put into publishing papers?

    3. Appeal to authority

    Bellamy. Pilmer. Hal Lewis. Petition projects. ‘Nuff said.

    4. A desire to convince others of the ideological “truth”

    I’m yet to find an Internet messageboard on which any topic even tangentially relating to global warming, weather, climate, or geology does not get hijacked by the resident AGW-denial troll, with the usual canards about AGW being used to justify taxation, it all being a big commie conspiracy, and of course, it’s not happening but if it is it’s the Sun.

    5. A willingness to punish those that don’t concur

    • Latimer Alder

      @ Andrew Dodds

      ‘How much effort has Mr McIntyre or Mr Watts put into publishing papers?’

      Mr McInytre has put enormous effort into researching many of the current controversies in climate science. You can read his conclusions at his blog. Should you do so, you will find that he is explicitly clear about his methods and that anyone with a reasonable degree of mathematical and statistical knowledge can follow the argument, try to reproduce it if they can and to make immediate commentary to move the debate along.

      Steve has a pretty broad moderation policy as long as the contributions stay generally on topic and remain within the bounds of civilised discourse in terms of language And when he shown to be wrong, he is content to admit his error and learn from it. Please join in his discussions to verify my assertions from your own experience.

      I will be charitable and say that the space restrictions of the conventional academic publishing environment do not allow such full disclosure of data and methods. And the long delay between submission and publication does not allow for the rapid and near real-time debate and refinement that the blog environment embraces. The peer-review system, so lauded by academics seems to have been revealed by Climategate to be little more than a mutual backscratching and information control mechanism. To my mind, in ‘climate science’ at least, its credibility is in increasing doubt. And the lack of transparency and disclosure of data and methods casts a long shadow of mistrust.

      Mr Watts makes no claim to be an academic. His entire career in the public eye has been as a communicator. Like Revkin. Pearce, Monbiot, Montford or Ward (none of whom have published any papers AFAIK) , his role is to bridge the gap between academe and the educated public. And with WUWT he has succeeded spectacularly well. He brings a wide range of perspectives and guest contributors to the public’s attention. The discussions are equally wide ranging and, unlike more restrictive fora, will accept a kaleidoscope of views.

      So I find your criticisms of both these individuals ill-founded and petty. I fear that, like the medieval scribes faced with the works of Gutenberg and Caxton, you stare uncomprehending yet terrified at the march of internet technology. Though there will still be a place for conventional scientific papers, they are no longer the sole mechanism for discourse. And the advantages of immediacy and a broadly based critique will bring the real action more and more into the blogosphere.

      • Hmmm. One part of being an ideologue is a refusal to accept any criticism, direct of implied, of the leaders of your ideology.. but in any case..

        Actually, I’ve been to Climate Audit.

        I find that Steve McIntyre’s posts are generally in desperate need of an editor’s attention, full of obscure political references (who is ‘the Team’?), and biased towards an assumption of wrongdoing. As such I’m not particularly inclined to comment, and I find his willingness to grub through other people’s inboxes pretty offputting as well.

        In any case, if he has does a good deal of high quality research then by refusing to publish it he is doing science a disservice.

        There is a reason why the peer-reviewed literature may seem restrictive (although quite frankly such restrictiveness is overstated); it’s called quality control. Blogs do not have quality control.

      • Andrew Dodds, you could not be more wrong. It is the mainstream climate scientists who refuse to debate. They will not attend any skeptic meetings, and if Steve Mc or Bob Carter is invited to a meeting, they will bully the organisers into withdrawing his invitation.
        As for Bellamy Plimer and and Lewis being ‘authority’, is that supposed to be joke?
        And regarding his ‘refusing to publish’, I assume you are not aware of his recently published paper in Atmospheric Science Letters showing that the models do not fit the observations.

      • Hi,

        By ‘debate’ I mean in a scientific sense. That means primarily through the literature. It means putting together coherent, politics-free arguments.

        Not sure why 2 or 3 papers in a decade makes me wrong in this respect. And the names I mention certainly HAVE been banded around as authorities with respect to global warming. I’m glad you agree with me that they are not particularly qualified to talk on the subject and we should best ignore them.

        I’d also refer you to the side:

        As a classic ideologue site – entirely focused on attacking a ‘heretic’ position with no attempt to build up a stronger counter position. Much as a creationist ideologue will happily collect vast lists of perceived flaws in evolution and never bother with his or her own theory.

      • I’m a sceptic and have been blogging on these matters for some time. Until you drew it to my attention, I had never heard of the site you mention. And as its anonymous, I wouldn’t give it too much credence.

        Real debate takes place at Bishop Hill, WUWT, Lucia, here, CA and others.

      • Try clinking on PaulM’s name. That’s the site I linked to.

        I haven’t looked at Lucia or Bishop hill much, but from a scientific standpoint I can say that no debate worth of the name takers place at WUWT or CA (or here or Real Climate for that matter). Meaningful debate can only happen when people are prepared to agree on a set of facts, put aside personal or political preaching and actually admit when they are wrong; these are not exactly distinguishing features of the skeptic blogosphere.

      • Meaningful debate can only happen when people are prepared to agree on a set of facts

        Those ‘facts’ would seem to be elusive, implicit, assumed, contextual ….

        Those facts are insinuated
        (I carefully avoid using the word ‘inferred’ as that usage here misleads)

        Skeptics reach back and grope about in unstated context.

        Rational scientists are very effective at arguing conclusion

        There is uncertainty and confusion regarding the premises (facts) on *both* sides.

      • Latimer Alder

        I’m so sorry that you have decreed that no real debate happens in the blogosphere. This will come as a great sadness to those – from all perspectives – who find it a useful place to discuss and trade ideas.

        But being resilient people, we will just have to swallow our disappointment and soldier on without you. A great loss.

      • Much as a creationist ideologue will happily collect vast lists of perceived flaws in evolution and never bother with his or her own theory.


        Also … Nick Darby | November 9, 2010 at 12:42 am | ” I do it on the basis of the fallacies they rely on, not the conclusions they draw.” Nullius has said something quite important here. … Much of the climate brouhaha arises from arguing conclusions rather than examining – and debating – premises.

        Different aspects of the same theme

        That theme being to a) reach back, b) rummage around in various premises c) use such arguments to erode the AGW conclusion

      • For someone who is not an academic McIntyre has published a fair bit. There are several articles and comments with McKitrick including the 2005 paper in Geophysical Research Letters and two replies to critics and two substantial papers in Energy and Environment, not to mention the recent Atmospheric Science Letters article. What climategate also showed us was the fierce gatekeeping of the Team; getting published is more difficult for some than others. In the circumstances McIntyre has a pretty good publication record. And on the subject of debate, Mann has never deigned to respond in the peer reviewed literature, he just set up Real Climate instead.

      • Oh dear. Climategate 101.

        ‘The Team’ is the term used in the e-mails by the cabal of Mann. Jones, Ternbeth, Schmidt, Briffa et al to refer to themselves. It is believed to come from their self-congratulation as the ‘Hockey Team’ when Mann’s once famous, now notorious ‘hockey stick’ graph temporarily gained worldwide acclaim.

        I don’t think it is a valid criticism of McIntyre that he also uses expressions in wide currency that were coined and used by others to describe themselves. If you were to call yourself ‘Fred’. would it be somehow wrong for others to refer to you as such? Of course not.

        You may be right that Steve could use a bit of occasional editing. But I;m sure that you’d agree with me that, compared with the dense and deliberate obfuscation of Mann, his style is a model of clarity.

        As to the publication of his research, you need to stick with CA. That is where it is published. And criticised and debated. Look in the archives where hos work appears. If you don’t happen to agree with something he says, you can act as a peer-reviewer and point out the errors there and then. Quality control in real time by many voices not just by the chosen gatekeepers.

        I fear that I can only conclude that your criticisms are based on very limited factual knowledge, and a misunderstanding of what the blogosphere is all about. Dive in and try the water…you’ll find its fine!

      • Oh come on now. The hockey “team” does not, repeat not, refer to people – and it’s obvious from the context.
        It refers to the fact that there are many, many paleo studies of all manner of things which _all_ come up with the familiar shape.

      • Nullius in Verba

        And many which don’t. Published ones include Loehle and Ljungqvist. Unpublished ones include Mann’s own ‘backto-1400_censored’ directory, MBH98/99 if you remove bristlecones and Gaspe, many other series if you remove bristlecones, substitute Yamal for a nearby equivalent, don’t put some of the series in upside-down, don’t chop the last 40 years off, etc.

        The fact that they “all” come up with the same shape is really peculiar, given how sensitive they are to the selection of proxies.

      • Latimer Alder

        I cannot share your view. How else is the word ‘team’ to be interpreted. It is simply not possible within the English langauge to have a ‘team’ of abstract concepts. The entire purpose of a team is that it is composed of individuals working together toward a common goal.

        Hence a team of cricketers wanting to win a game , a team of nurses helping a particular community of patients, a team of horses pulling a plough.

        It is a nonsense to write of a team of graphs or of of books or papers…there are other perfectly adequate words to describe them…collection, library, edition…that do not have the sense of individual action.

        The use of the Hockey Team as a description is in common parlance in the blogosphere and its meaning is entirely clear. Much like in a soccer context I can refer to The Blades without spelling out each and very time that the official title is Sheffield United Football Club Ltd.

      • Latimer Alder

        Updated remarks.

        I think you are commenting about Mann’s latest remarks about a Hockey *League*.

        The earlier discussion here has been about the *Team*, whose meaning is well understood and widely accepted. They are different things, which explains my bafflement at your pedantic contribution.

      • Well, I’ve never seen references to ‘The Team’ outside of CA, to be honest, although I regard going through other people’s emails with distaste (It’s called ‘common decency’ where I come from).

        As far as ‘blog science’ goes, I cannot agree. You depend entirely on the blog owner not to censor comments that raise valid criticisms; and even if they are allowed through they may not lead to changes. And, of course, the nature of the blogosphere frequently means that a critic will face unplesant personal attacks or worse. Even were this not the case, you cannot base science on trust in this manner; confirmation bias alone means your conclusions will be unreliable even if your motives are perfectly pure.

        Oh, and I thought I’d have a look again at CA, but I can’t find a post in the last month that has anything to do with science..

    • Andrew Dodds (Nov 8 at 3:46 am) —

      I see two basic approaches to evaluating skeptics’ stances from a Pro-AGW Consensus perspective.

      The first would be to cast a wide net. Read through the popular press (the blogosphere, in this case), and get a sense of what constitutes typical skeptical positions. Then, determine the strengths and weaknesses of these “average” arguments.

      The second would be to think, “most people aren’t literate in any scientific specialty, much less scientifically-literate and numerate. To discover the best arguments put forward by those who are skeptical of aspects of the Pro-AGW Consensus, I must therefore do the following. (1) Define “best”. (2) Figure out a way to identify those arguments that qualify. (3) Evaluate them by my criteria.

      Which approach did you follow to arrive at the conclusions you present?

      • I’m not sure how that relates to the post above in any meaningful way.

      • Andrew Dodds @ 11:45am

        > I’m not sure how that relates to the post above in any meaningful way.

        Thanks for pointing out the communication difficulty.

        For any controversial subject, it seems easy to seek out commentary that meets both these criteria: (1) I disagree with the writer, and (2) The intellectual caliber of the commentary is deficient — bad facts, sloppy logic, etc.

        If all of the commentary on a particular subject which meets (1) also meets (2), then I can generalize that “those who disagree with me don’t have much to add to the discussion.” This appears to be your message, above at 3:46am.

        On the other hand, Richard Feynman thought the scientist’s duty extended to searching out the best and most compelling of contrary arguments, and considering them.

        We can stipulate that many and even most “skeptics” fall into the category of “Someone on the Internet is wrong!” (A lot of Pro-AGW Consensus advocates do as well, FWIW.) But this is a trivial observation. More interestingly, are there any arguments that take issue with aspects of the Pro-AGW Consensus that merit serious consideration? If so, what are they?

        Your 3:46am comment suggests that you don’t think that any such arguments exist–they are all equivalent to creationist apologias. This stance seems to be held my many advocates of the Pro-AGW Consensus.

        I hope that clarifies my 9:40am comment.

      • My personal preference on this consider the arguments approach would have to be Skeptical Science. They’re now at almost 130 arguments – there’s now a team of volunteers reviewing many of these to come up with differing levels of explanation. Basic, Intermediate, Advanced. (Sod’s Law often applies when I go looking – the one I want doesn’t have all three – but it’s a very, very good resource regardless.)

        Of the 100+ arguments, some are obviously stronger or weaker than others. But they all get good detailed attention with about references to literature and data – and the comments often have a wealth of information.

      • Adelady @ 3:48pm — I checked three entries whose subjects I have some familiarity with. ISTM that SkepticalScience provides a good first look at climate issues, from a “the science is settled” perspective. I would not rely on it to gain an understanding of the controversies that roil this general area. This opinion would hold for #18 ‘Hockey stick is broken’, #56 ‘Medieval Warm Period was warmer’, and #107 ‘Tree-rings diverge from temperature after 1960’. Other entries may paint a fuller picture of criticisms of scientifically-literate “skeptics.”

      • Ok..

        Well, if you’d spent as long looking at Creationist arguments as I have, you’d probably have realized that some of them can take considerable investigation or specialist knowledge to ‘refute’. But with that in mind, I would say that the similarity of argument style between global warming ‘skeptics’ and creationists is very strong; for example:

        – Both Creationists and global warming skeptics spend the vast bulk of their efforts attacking their perceived opponents, as opposed to building a different and superior framework to account for known observations.
        – Both groups are very quick to dismiss the entire ‘enemy’ theory on the basis of a relatively minor discrepancy (For example, the tropical lapse rate, or a revision to the date of the start of the Cambrian.)
        – Both groups prefer debate in forums where fact checking is hard and superior rhetoric can ‘win the day’. Neither is keen of the peer reviewed literature.
        – Both groups will focus with obsession on individuals over science; think of the attacks on Al Gore or Michael Mann in the same vein as those on Richard Dawkins.
        – Neither group (and this is a really critical issue) is capable of dispassionately describing the theory that they claim is false. I have *never* managed to get a clear description of what global warming is out of a person who claims to be skeptical of global warming, just as I have never managed to get a clear description of the basics of evolution from a creationist. If you cannot dispassionately describe a theory then you cannot claim to understand it; and if you do not understand it then you cannot be rationally skeptical of it.

        In regard to the thread, then, I would say that the entire idea of having ‘good arguments against AGW’ is in itself flawed in that this is not how science works, and that even disregarding this I am yet to see any argument that rises above minor statistical nit-picking.

      • Andrew Dodds (Nov 9 at 3:30am) —

        Since it is too difficult to distinguish the better skeptical arguments from the worse ones, what is your motivation for reading a blog like this, and writing comments? For a person who subscribes to the Pro-AGW Consensus, it would seem closer to an exercise in confirming your already-held views, rather than one based in intellectual curiosity. It doesn’t sound like much fun.

        >I have *never* managed to get a clear description of what global warming is out of a person who claims to be skeptical of global warming.

        “There is broad consensus among climate scientists that multiple lines of evidence confirm the following narrative. The Earth that has warmed significantly in the past half-century. While natural causes play a large role in year-to-year and decade-to-decade changes in climate, the best explanation for this recent history is that man-made factors are the main contributors to the warming. This observation is supported by evidence that the past two decades have been, overall, the warmest periods of the last one or two millenia. In particular, “greenhouse gasses” are playing a large role. The concentration of CO2 in the air is rising slowly and steadily as a result of fossil fuel combustion. The physical properties of CO2 mean that increased CO2 causes Earth to shift to a warmer state than would otherwise be the case; doubling of CO2 will likely cause a rise of 1 C to 1.5 C. Most worrisome is that indirect effects of rising GHG levels will likely lead to positive feedbacks, causing an amplification of this GHG “forcing”. The net effects of these human-caused effects are likely to lead to a much warmer and still-warming Earth by the end of this century — a climate regime that is less-hospitable to humans and disruptive to ecosystems throughout the world.”

        Written without reference to any sources, so I could have gotten some things a bit wrong.

      • Written without reference to any sources, so I could have gotten some things a bit wrong.

        Yes, the generally accepted range for CO2 doubling is 2.5-4K, not 1-1.5. This does include water vapour feedback, but there again so does absolutely every other proposed mechanism for changing the climate.

        And you are missing a lower level explanation of exactly how the effect works – which may seem like overdoing it, but I would emphasize; if you want to be a skeptic of something you have to first know what that thing is. There is no royal road, as it were.

      • Andrew Dodds (Nov 11 at 4:40am) —

        Thanks for catching my belated comment, and responding. I figured I was shouting into the wind.

        Re: effects of CO2 doubling, I see that I only implied that I was referring to its direct effects being 1 C to 1.5 C. I believe (but without checking) that that range is about right, with the proviso made explicit.

        Re: “missing a lower level explanation ” — recall that my Nov. 10 at 6:22pm comment was a response to your challenge (Nov. 9 at 3:30am), beginning “I have *never* managed…” Without goalpost-moving, that mini-essay either is or isn’t “a clear description of what global warming is.” (On a rewrite, I would add a sentence about the importance of the predictions of GCMs for 21st-century climate).

        At his blog, pro-AGW-Consensus climatologist Chris Colose and I have been exchanging views. That has helped me succinctly state my major “lukewarmer” concern, which is not that “AGW is wrong.” It is:

        “Mainstream climatologists are prone to accepting weak arguments and faulty arguments, if and only if they support the Pro-AGW Consensus.”

  34. Judith, it’s what you’re saying that they hate, not the way you are saying it.

  35. Judith,

    In reply to your question: Yes, this makes a lot more sense than your previous “dogma” posts, and sounds a lot less adversarial. Thank you.

    I’m not sure if it clarifies your major critique, which I am wondering to what extent it would be better described as the (in your perception) overly defensive attitude of many mainstream scientists and perhaps the community as a whole (which is also what I read in e.g. Mosher’s comment )

    Your headings give a certain twist to Mann’s words though. Upon reading them, I notice your criticism/description of him voicing a political ideology is more apt for your headings than for his writing (e.g. numbers 2 and 5). Which may give the appearance of wanting to put his words in a certain light. (perhaps for ideological reasons? – just kidding)

    E.g. #2 would be better characterized with “can” instead of “need”. # 5 has a large disconnect between your heading (action is needed) and Mann’s retelling of historical environmental threats.

    You are right though that overall, also Mann’s words here are not purely in realm of science, nor are they intended to I think. It would be helpful if scientists are more clear as to when they’re talking about science and when they’re talking about something else (the public debate, politics, ethics, etc). Hansen and the late Schneider are good examples of that IMO. Some may reply to that though that those differences are very obvious already: Why spell them out. Which has (more than) a nucleus of truth as well of course.

    I wrote about distinguishing these kinds of issues in a conversation I had with Tom Fuller while ago: ( )

    “Let’s distinguish the following main issues:
    – To what extent is climate change occurring, and to what extent is it man-made?
    – To what extent is that (going to be) a problem?
    – What can or should we do about it?

    The first questions are strictly scientific; the middle has a judgment value to it (besides being also based on the forever tentative answer to the first question), and the latter is primarily a political/moral judgement (and has more to do with technology and policymaking than with climate science).

    We have made much more progress in addressing the first question than in addressing the last one. The limiting factor in addressing the issues relating to climate change is IMO not a lack of knowledge about the exact nature of the changes; rather, it is the unwillingness of society to deal with (the consequences of) this knowledge. Even if, within realistic boundaries of the uncertainty, climate change is less bad than currently expected, we need to dramatically step up our policy response.”

    Needless to say, that last sentence is a value laden statement, based on my understanding of the science combined with my value system, risk perception and risk aversion. Or perhaps that is not needless to say? (that’s not a rhetorical question btw).

    • Alex Heyworth

      Bart, you say “Even if, within realistic boundaries of the uncertainty, climate change is less bad than currently expected, we need to dramatically step up our policy response.”

      Who is “we”? As I point out upthread, the path of future emission levels is almost entirely in the hands of the Chinese and Indians. And whoever “we” is, it doesn’t seem to include them, given their public statements on the issue.

      So why should “we” be so concerned about something we cannot influence?

      • Well, Bart could mean Netherlanders, but I bet he means people when he writes “we”.

        Excellent comment, Bart. Your voice is always one worth listening to.

      • Re: (undefined NaN NaN:NaN),
        He may well mean to speak on behalf of all “people”, but as J. points out, the circumstances don’t permit. The Chinese and Indians are NOT going to go on any kind of energy diet; nor are any third-world countries that have any control over their own fate. Unless they are paid and over-paid for their “restraint”. By guess who.

        So CO2 reduction globally is a dead letter.

    • Bart, the issue is when people make a strong statement about what we should do about it that then is used to stifle scientific dissent. That is the problem I have with this. The ideology or whatever we are calling it, typified by Mann’s recent interview, is fine, people can believe what they want. The attempts to use this to stifle dissent and scientific debate is where I have the problem, and I am concerned that this is becoming institutionalized.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        ‘The attempt to use this to stifle dissent and scientific debate is where I have the problem, and I am concerned that this is becoming institutionalized”.

        I think anyone concerned with having to create policy on carbon emissions would say, lets continue with the ‘debate’ but let’s also be honest about the stakes here. Shall we hold off on carbon emission controls until resolution is completed within the scientific community? How long will that take? Shall we formulate a ‘no regrets’ emissions policy now with the realization that carbon does not simply disappear immediately upon release? If the planet is warming ‘naturally’ is it still prudent to control C emissions since that could exacerbate the warming?

        The luxury of time within climate science policy making does not exist!

      • Whch then removes any pretence of it being backed by science.

        If you’re invoking the Precautionary principle because of lack of evidence than fine- just be specific and honest about it.

        It’s interesting however, that the degree of alarmist claims does indeed seem related to the prevelance of the precautionary principle invocation- the true feedback loop of this story perhaps? After all, the more alarmist the claims, the more the precautionary principle can be used and the less the dissent has to be examined- for all our sakes….

      • Judith,

        Thanks for your reply.

        The dissent from the mainstream scientific view takes a lot of different forms. E.g. there are the arguments such as voiced by Bob above
        ( ) that AGW is bunk because of the hockeystick and land temp issues (my paraphrasing). I hope you’ll excuse me for not taking such criticism all that serious, where a minor detail is blown up as if it falsifies a whole theory, not unlike claiming that gravity doesn’t exist because that bird in the sky disproves it (argumentum ad absurdum; I’m aware that gravity is a better established (though also still not 100% known) topic than climate change).

        See also

        These kinds of arguments are very common, whereby the conclusion (AGW is wrong) is miles and miles apart from the reasoning that supposedly led the writer to that conclusion. Which leads me to think that maybe, just maybe, they may have been really arguing in the other direction: from their desired conclusion to a narrative that fits with it. Because in the direction as the argument is stated it doesn’t make sense.

        Am I stifling scientific dissent by saying this? I would hope you agree with me that I’m not. I’m arguing against a (to me) nonsensical critique of the science, which IMO isn’t actually a scientific critique at all (though it’s dressed up to look like it). I.e. I’m not stifling and the dissent I’m primarily arguing against is hardly scientific (or charitably only partly scientific).

        I venture that most mainstream scientists would also argue that what they get so worked up about are these nonsensical critiques on the science and the amount of traction they seem to have gotten.

        If you have examples of where *scientific* dissent and debate is being *stifled* (no emails please), I’d like to hear about it.

        As I stated before, I agree with you that in this highly polarized environment scientists have sometimes gotten too defensive in their reaction to the various critiques, because of course, some of them do make sense, and even if the conclusion doesn’t, perhaps the premise purportedly leading up to the conclusion contains some grains of truth. It doesn’t hurt acknowledging that.

      • Bart,

        Hello, haven’t interacted with you much since the VS days in March this year at your blog. : )

        I think that discussing ideologies wrt interfering with climate science is perhaps the most fruitful approach; I did not warm to the allusions to religion/dogma(tism).

        Judith, at the end of her current post, suggested two potential ideologies that might be operative in climate science diversion. She said, “This whole thing seems to me to boil down to the traditional clash of values between the greens and the libertarians.”

        I suggest the need to identify the essence of those (and I think other) ideologies. Which ideologies share the same premises/fundamental concepts as those of a free, open and objective climate science; which are inimical to it? Then we can proceed to extract those inimical ideologies from climate science and enhance those ideologies that are at the root of a free, open and objective climate science.

        Can we agree to proceed along those lines? What I suggest is the critical discussion of the premises and fundamental concepts of some ideologies that might determine the impact of those ideologies on climate science. Compare them to the premises and fundament concepts at the root of the philosophy of science in Western Civilization. Resolution is solved by the process itself.

        Let me know your support in engaging in this task.

        Note: to me the word ‘ideologies’ is not the best descriptor of systems of thought or world views, but it can be used as a temporary operative designator.


      • Bart, where we might disagree is that I don’t see the hockey stick and Phil Jones/Wang land temps issues as minor hiccups. Your analogy of Bernoulli’s principle as an example of defying gravity strikes me as somewhat infantile. The hockey stick and high quality land and sea temps are central to the discussion of AGW vs GW.

      • Bob,

        If you think Jones/Wang are a problem for the overall land surface record, you may need to re-examine the scope of the issue a bit. Jones/Wang looked at a subset of stations to try and demonstrate the magnitude of urban warming vis-a-vis rural warming. If you throw out all those stations (or even all current urban stations), or all stations in China for that matter, the resulting global temp anomalies only change marginally. Thats not to mention the fact that we can validate land temp readings against the satellite record for China over the last 30 years or so…

        On hockey sticks, if you toss out Mann and go with some other reconstruction, it really doesn’t make much of a differences. There may be wide uncertainty bands, but the best information we have to date suggests that the last few decades are warmer than the MWP, and the next century almost certainly will be. Similarly, recent paleo reconstructions really don’t play that much of a role in defining things like climate sensativity; older stuff (glacial periods in particular) as well as physics-based models are the primary inputs to sensitivity analysis. See for example.

      • Zeke @ 11:04am —

        > If you throw out… all stations in China for that matter, the resulting global temp anomalies only change marginally.

        You should mention that you’re one of the people doing these sorts of analyses with the instrumental temperature record. This lends a great deal of credence to this assertion, IMO.

        > On hockey sticks, if you toss out Mann and go with some other reconstruction, it really doesn’t make much of a difference.

        This is a plausible position, but it remains to be seen, IMO. Most alternative reconstructions don’t live up to promises of independence (from Mann et al’s datasets and methods) or robustness. Things should become clearer in the next short while as new approaches enter the literature, see e.g. discussion of RL Smith’s recon at Ron Broberg’s Whiteboard.

        > recent paleo reconstructions really don’t play that much of a role in defining things like climate sensativity…

        There doesn’t seem to be consensus on this point, within the Pro-AGW Consensus. Some claim multicentury reconstructions are very relevant (presumably the reason for IPCC AR4 Ch. 6.6 and the PAGES/CLIVAR project); others say not. Just so long as the debater holds to a consistent position, rather than trimming the argument to suit the situation. (I am not claiming that Zeke does this — he does not. While I can’t link to examples, I do wonder.)

        The problem I have with the multicentury reconstructions is that some of them have glaring errors. But somehow, the expected scientific back-and-forth doesn’t happen. Instead, I see a mix of Silence and Rally-Round-The-Flag. This speaks poorly of climate science, from a process point of view.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Zeke, I have to disagree with you. The primary problem is you say, “[I]f you toss out Mann and go with some other reconstruction….” The problem is many of issues which make Mann’s work incorrect are also present in those other reconstructions. Replacing one bad source with another bad source doesn’t advance anything.

        In its current state, climatology cannot fairly say current temperatures are higher than those of the Medieval Warm Period.

        On the other hand, if you toss out paleoclimatology as a whole, nothing really changes. The science of global warming doesn’t hinge on it. The only thing which might hinge on it is PR.

      • Most alternative reconstructions don’t live up to promises of independence (from Mann et al’s datasets and methods) or robustness.

        many of issues which make Mann’s work incorrect are also present in those other reconstructions.

        Sources for these statements would be helpful in understanding the counterargument.

      • PDA, fair question.

        I recall a simple chart listing the data sources and methods used by prominent recons of the past few years. I thought I’d bookmarked it; I will have to look (does any other reader have a cite?). It wasn’t at ClimateAudit — though this is a staple of McI’s commentary on the subject, and I am unaware of persuasive rebuttals on this point (whatever you may think of CA or SMcI overall). Meanwhile, as far as “issues,” my comment at the Whiteboard post I mentioned discusses some concerns about proxy selection. Jeff Id has done numerous pseudoproxy posts at his blog, which are also relevant.

      • Nullius in Verba

        You may be thinking of the table of proxies in the Wegman report.

      • Craig Goodrich

        Mmmpf. Craig Loehle has an extensive reconstruction without trees of any sort. Studies confirming the Medieval Climate Optimum and the Little Ice Age have been done in Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, and the Andes (so much for its being a “North Atlantic phenomenon”). And note how desperate and angry the Climategate crew were made by publication of the Soon & Baliunas paper.

        Paleoclimatology is crucial to the AGW case because if the planet has been substantially warmer in the recent past with no trace of CO2 causation, and if no “tipping point” was reached in spite of the (presumably identical) feedbacks, and if the half-a-degree warming over the last century can be attributed simply to a statistical recovery from an unusually cold period, then the whole AGW alarmist case collapses. Which of course it has.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        PDA, I can’t say I know of any source which covers all the various papers we could be discussing. Mostly, I have seen papers covered individually, so I’m not sure how I could provide a source for you. With that said, if you have any specific papers in mind, I could easily provide information on those.

        As it happens though, I was looking up something a little while ago, and one page I visited is somewhat relevant. It’s a page on ClimateAudit from a few years ago which discusses the data used in three “independent” studies from that year. It doesn’t show what you are asking about, but it does show an immense amount of overlap in data in those studies. If nothing else, it should at least be mildly interesting:

      • You’re heart might be in the right place on this topic but you’re actions only exacerbate and assist the likes of Michael Mann and the true believers. You assist in their agenda.

        One can say; “The NY Times suffers from bias that impacts their reporting”. (More or less your styling)

        It’s a million miles from the truth most understand. More accurate;

        ” The NY Times has a strong partisan left-wing political culture that impacts their reporting.”

        Far closer to the truth. It’s important that Micahel Mann, the Team, and followers be identified correctly. AGW leadership is of eco-green, left-wing politics for the most part. They have a high belief in state authority on almost any topic if it were discussed or revealed, there are great efforts to obfuscate this from the public debate. You are a participant in this process. You are offering shelter to the “Consensus” by a middling and generic approach with words like “ideology”. Why must we speak in such politically correct code? Why not talk honestly about who it what and why?

  36. Tomas Milanovic


    The primary problem with politics in this case is that Dr Mann et al are so insulated from the public that they have no idea this is true. It’s a great deal like the NYT editor who (infamously) exclaimed that she was unable to understand how Nixon was elected; after all, nobody she knew voted for him.

    Yes that is for me the core of the issue.
    And you can even generalize because you should notice that most discussions on this blog concern purely internal US matters that are sometimes not even understood by those few of us who are not American.
    It has always been my favourit remark – while a handful of Americans is arguing about whether CO2 is a problem or not, the rest of the world is going on and doesn’t care.
    China is growing at 9% and getting increasingly prosperous.
    Russia is putting its house in order.
    Brazil and India are catching up.
    Poland and Czech republic are using their coal wealth to improve the situation of their populations.

    I am saying that because your infamous NYT editor would certainly exclaim that she can’t understand that billions of people don’t care the least bit about AGW and CO2.

    I don’t know who this person is but I see very precisely what kind of person that is.
    We have some specimens of this kind of people on this blog too.
    People who think that they know everything and that everybody who doesn’t think like they do must be somewhat corrupted , criminal or terminally stupid.
    People who are convinced that there is a non formulated natural law according to which everybody must join their positions sooner or later, free or constrained.
    Who is not with us is against us.

    I have seen many years ago how this kind of people behave when they get power.
    It gets ugly very fast.
    Of course, all of this is not just about science even if science often gives a helping hand.

    The science has got a chance and huge amounts of money to tell us something interesting during 30 years.
    All that came out was:
    “We don’t really know but the average temperature may increase by 1.5 to 4°C in a century. Well it is not really sure if it is exactly a century either.
    And not everybody agrees.

    So now after the science has spoken, it’s time for politicians to come and say:

    That will be enough. What you found is neither interesting nor accurate. So we cut the funding to what it was 40 years ago and will use the money for more important things. Sorry for all those who will loose their job, they’ll have to adapt. Of course our voters also think that we have been loosing too much time on this CO2 nonsense instead of spending it on problems of vital interest like jobs, growth and industry. Thanks and see you.”

    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      So the ‘science has spoken’, is that right? Wouldn’t you care to hear what Dr Curry’s science says?
      I’m not terribly convinced that this ‘CO2 nonsense’ is off of HER policy table. I think Curry understands that politicians need to make decisions on climate change based on the most credible science available. Does this sound like someone who parrots you on carbon policy?:

      “Carbon dioxide, all things being equal, will contribute to a warming planet”
      ~~J Curry

      Perhaps we need her to clarify HER policy on the issue of carbon emissions before too many posting here believe they’ve found a sympathetic denier in Judith.

      • It isn’t about finding a “sympathetic denier” in anyone, it is about reasserting the Scientific Method as the sole route by which scientific discovery is made, and it is about distinguishing ideological advocacy from science in order to ensure that policy is underwritten by science of integrity and not usurped by the un-mandated ideologies of prominent figures misrepresenting their personal politics as scientific fact.

        And this goes for ALL sides of the debate.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        Your statement presumes the science and the scientific method has failed in climate science research related to climate change. Example? Your statement also indicts ‘prominent figures’ in climate science? Who are they?

      • “Your statement presumes the science and the scientific method has failed in climate science research related to climate change. Example?”

        i can have a pop at this… I’ll give you three:

        -refusal to share work (proven FOI avoidance)
        -evidence of data misrepresentation/deletion
        -exceptionally sub-standard data quality control

        seems a reasonable level of scienticfic method ‘fail’ there.

      • Latimer Alder

        I don;t think that Dr Curry’s personal position on AGW is of any relevance to this particular discussion. By framing your question in the way it did, you demonstrate exactly the tribalist mentality that she is trying to avoid. You also give the warmists reason to believe that sceptics have closed minds and refuse to engage with them. A characteristic that I find is not broadly true, but in some cases still exists.

        As a fellow sceptic I regret that. A sceptic by definition should be open to debate all viewpoints, but beholden to none.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        Curry’s position on AGW is based on science. THAT’S what is important to me and what any self-proclaimed sceptic would want to know about.
        ‘Tribalism’ has always been part of the history of science (continental drift for example) and she can wish for it to go away all she wants.
        Show me the published science citations instead. In good time the debate over man-made global climate change will be over. The concern I have is that we will have severe regrets about our policy decisions, or lack thereof.

    • …”So now after the science has spoken, it’s time for politicians to come and say: ‘”That will be enough. What you found is neither interesting nor accurate….'””

      Those who speak first, The People, are saying the exact same thing and the politicians are only mimicing the voters. (The sometimes do that.)

      1. The voters are turned off. The Game is Over.
      2. The Chinese and Indians are doing nothing.
      3. The issue is is mute, dead, over, kaput, upso, fini.
      4. Scientists (in general) should use this opportunity to analize what happend in the past 30 years and get their house(s) in order. Politics seems to have infiltrated the sanctum sanctorum.

  37. Alexander Harvey


    “The use of the word “heretic” in the Scientific American article just begged for the word “dogma” to be used.”

    Having created such a fuss about the use of the word dogma in its narrow sense e.g. where no other word would do. I am going to use it in that strict sense where it refers to core truths. Please note that truths in this sense don’t have to relate to reality they just need to be held as true.

    I think that the heretic issue will not go away. I am suspicious that there is a grouping of the like minded that has the notion of membership. That you are either with them or against them. Worst of all is to be with them and fail at a test of dogma, protest that one of the core truths is not undeniable.

    I keep coming back to Hansen being deemed to have failed the test on the CO2 dogma. That is that he could not express an opinion for once that did not put CO2 centre stage and everything else in the wings.

    The property of being multiply chastised for a core indiscretion smacks of there being a grouping that holds to a dogma of some sort. That there are lines that must not be crossed no matter how essential you are to the group.

    I think that there is a CO2 dogma that states something along the lines of “The only true solution is CO2 mitigation” other dogma may be “Buying time is evil”, and “Uncertainty is blasphemy”. Now this doesn’t come out of the IPCC reports; which such a group would surely have to see as compromised.

    My point is that I have a suspicion, just a hunch, that there is a grouping that percieves the IPCC process as feeble, watered down, corrupted.

    If there is such a group, club, society, or cabal, who would likely be its members? I would suggest that there would be a core group of climate scientists but a much larger grouping from scientific federations, the environmentalist groups and the media. Also extending to people who are in the group by default based on reputation, or by press ganging.

    This is of course a conspiracy theory, spun out of little more than air and that scientists, even ever so true believers, find themselves suddenly turned upon.

    To put it more prosaically there is a gang, and it has a creed.

    If I be right, there out to be certain signs, such as trying to influence the IPCC process towards more certainty, more warming, more emphasis on CO2 mitigation, and perhaps more emphasis on the exceptionality of current temperatures. Also some irrational behaviour might be indicated, such as paranoia. These would indeed be serious issues and I have not one jot of proof, just some suspicious events, and a vauge unease.

    If there is a gang and it has a creed or dogma, it would act punitively on transgressors among its membership, real or perceived. Its existence might also go some way towards explaining the observed behavioural traits such as arrogance and dogmatic behavour in general. Such traits would be directed towards non members but also perhaps towards waverers along with bullying.

    I am emphasising that transgressors against dogma would be those most harshly punished and that might catch some surprising characters. As you indicate only a dogma can engender heresies and cast out heretics.

    I see ideology as much more of a individual affair, whereas one can share an ideology, like mindedness does not imply concerted action or group membership in the way I have reserved for behaviour based on dogma. Whereas ideologies may give rise to fellow travellers the notion of heretic would not make sense but perhaps turncoat would.

    Now ideologue seems to imply something slightly darker than just someone with an ideology or even an ideologist. It has the aura of dogmatism around it. I presume that is the sense that gives rise to Nick Darby’s 5 characteristics. For most people form an ideology yet may fail to express it. I have one but I would not impose it or even bore someone with it.


    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      What is ‘CO2 dogma’?
      Can you explain in scientific terms how elevating levels of atmospheric carbon pose no threat to a planet with a GH effect?
      Can you use your science to claim with complete certainty that a doubling of current atmospheric C levels will have no impact on future generations and the planet’s ecosystems?
      If you could, please explain why marine scientists are concerned with ocean acidification.

      • @anthropocene

        ‘If you could, please explain why marine scientists are concerned with ocean acidification’

        Deep Throat said it all in All The President’s Men

        ‘Follow the Money’

      • “Deep Throat said it all in All The President’s Men

        ‘Follow the Money’”

        Indeed who needs science, evidence or any argument at all when everything and anything can be rebutted with “Well they would say that wouldn’t they?”.

        Why do climate scientists claim C02 is warming the Earth? Well for grant money of course!

        Why do marine scientists claim ocean acidification is a threat? Why for grant money of course!

        Why do doctors claim homeopathy is an effective form of treatment? Why for grant money of course! (plus some of that extra phramacutical money on the side)

        Why do biologists claim evolution is the best explanation for the diversity of life on Earth? Grant money! Plus they’re just following the dogma of their atheistic religion (sound familiar?)

      • When you create a system where all the available resources (eg grants) are only awarded to projects that investigate AGW or ‘ocean acidification’, you generate a lot of apparent interest in those topics..whether well founded or not.

        In UK a few years ago the government decreed that lotteyr money could only be distributed to projects that had suitable ‘community’ (undefined) involvement. Lo and behold..within a year every project application had at least half a dozen references to ‘community’ in its abstract. It is my direct personal experience that an application that was earlier rejected was passed and money awarded once we had added the magic word a sufficient number of times.

        So when ‘ocean acidification’ becomes the buzzword of choice in grant applications, it will find itself applied to a huge variety of circumstances..many of them with tenuous or non-existent links.

        Hence my shorthand link to ‘follow the money. Or to the robber who was asked ‘Tex, why do you keep robbing banks?’ and the obvious reply ‘Because that’s where the money is’.

        As to doctors recommending homeopathy, I suspect that they are very few and far between. At least in UK it is an increasingly derided field.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        You’re describing a conspiracy, again. Do you ever read the science on this subject?
        Why bother.

      • Latimer Alder

        No conspiracy suggested. Conspiracy involves people acting in concert. I believe in cockup and unintended consequences as the most likely causes of most bad things. Conspiracies are too difficult to keep quiet. Just two days ago we remembered exactly that point in UK when the Gunpowder Plot was betrayed. Good excuse to do a bit of AGW with some great fireworks.

        I pointed out that if you pay people to do thing A and not to do thing B, you find that over time, more of thing A gets done,and less of thing B. If you reversed the payment terms, you would reverse the conaequences. If you have difficulty grasping this point, I suggest that you get out more or live a little in the real world.

        Regarding the science. As a physical chemist, I really cannot get my arse agitated about a supposed change in average pH from 8.2 to 8.1. (alkaline to very slightly less alkaline). Especially in a system where the natural variation within the oceans is far greater form place to place…and no dreadful or unusual consequences have been observed. It seems to me like a non-problem. And with all the other problems we have, it is a waste of resources to spend them on trivia.

        And as a taxpayer likely to be stung one way or another for the money, I see absolutely no reason to pay 15 billion for a monitoring system for a non-problem.

        The language of ‘ocean acidifictaion’ also makes me deeply suspicious. A truer title would be ‘ocean getting very very slightly less basic’, but the ‘acidification’ is used to frighten the horses. The general public know that acids are ‘bad and nasty’ things (and indeed they can be), but know nothing of ‘bases’. So it is easy to conclude that all ‘acidification’ must be bad. Meanwhile, they, like me, continue to drink strongly acidic solutions of CO2 in the products of Messrs Coca and Pepsi Cola and others.

        In a world of complete academic purity and unlimited self-generated resources I’d be quite happy for you to bore yourself stupid investigating ‘oceans becoming slightly less basic’. But that is not the world we live in.

      • Latimer – “Conspiracies are too difficult to keep quiet” – Conspiracies of silence, which is what we are dealing with here, are axiomatically very easy to keep quiet, since that is their natural condition, but difficult to expose, which is what you and I are trying to do!

        pip, pip!

      • Alexander Harvey

        I neither wrote anything about the items you list for me to comment on, nor know anything about why you should think that I should so comment.

        I really do not know how you managed to get hold of that end of the stick. I think you are seeing things.

        The CO2 dogma, in reference to Hansen, is that he once produced a paper outlining a mitigation strategy that did not address the CO2 issue and got flack for it. Suggesting that some of his critics might hold that insistence that one focus on CO2 as dogma.


  38. Roddy Campbell

    Bart – ‘It would be helpful if scientists are more clear as to when they’re talking about science and when they’re talking about something else (the public debate, politics, ethics, etc). ……’ – yup.

    It would be more than helpful if everyone was a bit more precise. Bart, your WG1/2/3 division is a good one, conventional but a standard first step of clarity. There is so much room for sceptical intelligent debate on impacts and policy response that I don’t understand how ANYONE can use the word denier for someone who wants to have that conversation?

    The conversation sometimes goes like this:
    1 I don’t agree with Kyoto/Copenhagen because they will have no effect, and are unachievable
    2 But do you believe in AGW?
    3 Yes, let’s not go over that again
    4 Then what do you think we should do about it?
    5 I don’t think in reality there is much we can do about it at the moment except build nuclear power stations, it’s kinda up to the Chinese and Indians anyway going forward, and it was clear from Copenhagen their priorities lie elsewhere at the moment
    6 That’s a totally immoral position
    7 It’s immoral for Indians to have electricity?
    8 No, it’s immoral for you to say you don’t think there’s much we can do about it anyway
    9 Why? What do you think we can do about it?
    10 Lots of things – wind, solar, helping emerging countries with green clean power
    11 please check the numbers on all of that, see if it moves the CO2 needle, and come back to me.
    12 You’re an unethical obstructionist, just protecting your way of life, we in the West have emitted all the CO2 in the past, it’s our duty to set a lead
    13 How did you get to there? I thought we were talking science and policy, now we’re into morality, ethics, historic climate crimes, and ad homs? And how will the UK Climate Change Act (80% cuts, that’s what I call setting a lead, even though we have no possibility of implementing any of it) in any way save the planet or affect the Chinese, in reality?

    There’s ideology and beliefs throughout. Bart has a belief that “Even if, within realistic boundaries of the uncertainty, climate change is less bad than currently expected, we need to dramatically step up our policy response.” Correctly he cautions that
    “…. that last sentence is a value laden statement, based on my understanding of the science combined with my value system, risk perception and risk aversion.”

    Which makes it pretty meaningless unless we know what his value system is, as we do not know how he values ten Indians with electricity now against one drowned Bangladeshi maybe in 50 years time – it’s not easy stuff, any of it, and I certainly don’t want the confusion of listening to Michael Mann’s value system, eg “[Powerful special interests] have delayed any policy actions by at least a decade, perhaps more. The potential opportunity cost of that delay to humanity is impossible to estimate, but it is certainly staggering.”

    I am so glad that someone has a mind so powerful that they can go clickety-click and work out all the winners and losers, pros and cons, counterfactuals, unintended consequences, the whole caboodle, and say either “We need to dramatically step up our policy response” or ‘The potential opportunity cost is certainly staggering.’ when talking about a century ahead. Maybe they should be in the investment business.

    More simply, if we assume that the science in WG1 is more or less ‘in’, no sceptics allowed, where does that get you? Straight to WG2 where the science is not ‘in’, in any sense, and values, ethics, cost/benefits are very hard.

    • Alex Heyworth

      Good post, Roddy. This says to me, forget about a century from now, there are too many unknowns. Focus on some small steps now. Make them almost pain free, therefore politically acceptable. Preferably, they should also be focused on the biggest return for the smallest outlay.

      Instead of which we have visited on us the lunacy of “cash for clunkers” schemes, or domestic solar PV installations that abate CO2 at a cost of $5-600 a ton. If there is one thing that climate scientists with a concern for the future could usefully do, it is to point out to politicians the madness of such schemes. I’m not holding my breath.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        “This says to me forget about a century from now now, there are too many unknowns.”
        Here’s a certainty: you will be dead.
        There’s a good chance there will be more humans on the planet.
        There’s also a really good chance atmospheric carbon levels will be much higher.
        You say we should do nothing.
        Did you mention something about madness?

      • You should add to your list:
        there is a good chance that in the next 10 or 1000 years the next ice age will plunge us into miles of ice.
        This is much better established than the CO2 scare. Only the time has a wide error. Note on the left how we are already on a downslope, and the previous ice age fell much sharper from the optimum .

        Is anybody doing anything other than chasing their tails with the CO2 panic? Maybe we should burn away to keep up the optimum. (tongue in cheek)
        Did you mention something about madness?

        On a more pragmatic scale I would like an unbiased study of the starvation and disasters in the third world that might happen if CO2 doubles, even with large uncertainties, versus the real hardships and deaths that will happen if the third world does not improve its level of living and consequently its energy consumption=fossil fuels.

        Then one could talk about mitigation versus adaptation, weighing the number of people affected by each choice. The world governments should not be stampeded like lemmings by apocalyptic prophecies.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        Yes, anytime now (10-1000 years) we’re plunging into an ice age, and this is ‘well established’. Citations?
        Why bother?

      • I gave a link to data.You cannot follow links? There are citations there.

        Data trumps hypotheses and models.

      • I said “Focus on some small steps now. Make them almost pain free, therefore politically acceptable. Preferably, they should also be focused on the biggest return for the smallest outlay.”

        AnthropoceneEndGame replied “You say we should do nothing.”

        Anybody else see something odd here?

  39. The attempts to use this to stifle dissent and scientific debate is where I have the problem
    Judith I agree with you that this is indeed the key to the current problem, as it was with Lysenkoism and as has been mentioned elsewhere the belief that stomach ulcers were caused by acidification.

    The IPCC process has become dominated by those who truly believe that CAGW is the most serious threat that the planet faces and that in order for the planet to be saved action must be taken ASAP. In order to make this happen, nothing can be permitted that in any way undermines the “narrative”. The consequence is the attempt to stifle dissent by any means possible.

    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      Multiple lines of scientific evidence demonstrate that the planet is warming. If rapidly increasing atmospheric carbon is a potent GHG on a planet with a greenhouse effect, shouldn’t some carbon policy considerations be on the table? How long will carbon remain in the atmosphere?Will ocean acidification increase? Isn’t a no regrets policy on carbon emissions policy rational given what the science tells us at this point in time while the ‘narrative’ continues?

      • Yes, the planet is warming, but the average global temperature has been in stasis for about 12 years now (despite the ever increasing levels of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere).

        To answer your questions: Since the GCMs haven’t been able to create a scenario consistent with today’s observations, then that means tome that the science still isn’t settled as to whether CO2 (not carbon) is a “potent GHG on a planet” and therefore, we should hold off on considering any “carbon” (CO2) policies.

        As for “ocean acidification”, I see this as the latest morphing from Global Warming, to Global Climate Change, to Global Climate Disruption then to “ocean acidification”. Keep moving the goal posts and nothing will ever be settled.

        To answer your third question – NO. It isn’t rational to do anything when one doesn’t know what to do. I think we would be better off using global resources to fight issues which we know is harmful to humans (such as poverty).

      • here-here.

        Imagine what good ‘we’ could do if we poured all the cAGW money into eliminating starvation, AIDS research, Habitat protection etc.

        but no, lets keep going on the outside chance that something we can’t define or even measure accuratley may possibly happen in the future.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        12 years of stasis? Not according to NOAA. Are they lying about the last decade of warming? Would you care to provide a citation?
        Ocean acidification is not ‘morphing’ into anything accept in a mind filled with conspiracy theory. Do you ever even read the pubs on this topic?
        So you’re claiming here ocean acidification is a fabrication by marine scientists?

      • 12 years of stasis reference:

        Have a look at the most recent 12 years. Current temperatures have not exceeded 1998.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame


      • “ON RECORD” – hmmm Spencer’s satellite data compared to “ON RECORD”.

        Do you wish to define “ON RECORD” – are you possibly implying the Satellite data is incorrect or inaccurate ?

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        ‘On Record’–Since 1880.
        You can examine the GISS data yourself.
        Are you implying NOAA’s pronouncement is a lie?

      • In many places in the world including here in Australia that “On Record” claim is seriously questionable as many of our recording stations only go back to the 1950s & & many also have gaps..

        I’m saying you can only be confident in your statement for accurate & complete data.
        You can hardly call the non-Satellite data (NOAA?) reliable if it is incomplete & therefore it is difficult to base such assertions upon it.

      • We have to make the best of what we’ve got. Until we get a time machine and leap out of our Tardis 60 or 100 years ago and tell the amazed inhabitants to do it better, we make do with what they’ve given us.

        Perfection is a wonderful thing, but no human endeavour can be improved by sitting on our hands and worrying about not having materials of an impossibly high standard to work with. We can daydream about how much easier our work would be with perfect tools and perfect materials. But a daydream is all it is.

        Doctors do it, builders do it, astronomers do it. Climate science has to do it too.

      • The last decade of a warming trend is always going to be the hottest, but it says nothing about the cause of the warming.

        Temperature rose at the same rate three times in the last century and a half, and only the last time was CO2 also rising. Where’s the CO2 effect?

    • “The IPCC process has become dominated by those who truly believe that CAGW is the most serious threat that the planet faces and that in order for the planet to be saved action must be taken ASAP.”

      Pachauri was chosen specifically because he did NOT believe this. After involvement with IPCC, he changed his mind. This has happened to many people. It is argued by some that the IPCC process itself was designed to make it difficult to reach any conclusions. Even so, it has so far reached stronger conclusions with every iteration.

      So rather than IPCC being “captured by” people who believe AGW is a serious problem, and alternative hypothesis is that it is a serious problem and that when serious people consider it seriously enough for long enough, they are “captured by” the problem. That’s what I think.

      That’s not, apparently, what you think. This should be a testable hypothesis, but there’s a problem. It’s a complex process to investigate all of this, and oddly, most people who do investigate come to a position not far from IPCC’s!

      So, what you say is an “attempt to stifle dissent by any means possible” I say is near-unanimity among the informed. We are sort of stuck.

      • Pachauri was chosen specifically because he did NOT believe this. After involvement with IPCC, he changed his mind. This has happened to many people. It is argued by some that the IPCC process itself was designed to make it difficult to reach any conclusions. Even so, it has so far reached stronger conclusions with every iteration.

        I’m very easy to convince. A complete push-over … Then again my strength is to discover why I imagine things to be true.

        Chewing over an idea with other people has a habit of convincing and sticking. Yeah, I know that’s called group-think. I rather fancy calling it Mass hysteria. Notice that the Wiki article also refers to it as ‘collective obsessional behavior’ :-)

        How can one tell if the consensus is hard fact or a collective obsession? It’s a good question and deep deep down it can be incredibly confusing and unclear. Let’s suppose that the fast route for knowing it’s true is via consilience. My point being that convincing an aggregating pool of people that some jointly shared fact is true is a recurrent phenomena that doesn’t necessarily (or unnecessarily) hinge on it being true.

        Claiming that it’s true because all sorts of extremely clever, brilliantly rational people say it’s “true” doesn’t guarantee it being ‘so’ either. Many many things are rational and thus “true”. There is no guarantee that one has the suitably appropriate ‘rational truth’ to fit the postulated circumstances. That’s why I prefer the consilience test.

        Saying it’s so because a whole bunch of people say it’s so can lead or mislead. When charged with emotion, the veracity of the ‘wisdom of the masses’ proof becomes more suspect.

        Also the U.N. has an impressive reputation for achieving ‘consensus opinions’ to which all agree but which is also horribly inefficient. The NGOs wins all. The intended beneficiaries make do with the decimated residuals.

      • Raving,

        There is a difference between what you ar describing with many different phrases (mass hysteria, group think, consensus opinions, collective obsessional behavior, etc) and a consensus of, or disproportionate weight of evidence. The number of people convinced by the dangers of unnaturally releasing CO2 back into the carbon cycle happens quite easily with the latter reasoning. The most obvious reason many scientists support any theory is that the balance of evidence, even with uncertainties, also supports it. What you are describing is a phenomenon that takes place when the balance of evidence is lopsided, but the group-think forces other conclusions. This is not at the case in climate science. Understanding that something is very likely true, is not hysteria, when evidence is used to support it. It does not make it “definite” either, only very likely.

      • The most obvious reason many scientists support any theory is that the balance of evidence, even with uncertainties, also supports it.

        Yeah, well scientists are like sheep. They are suckers for a good argument By that I mean that they can be easily blinded by their fondness for the truth.

        Here is a silly perverse example:

        If walks like a duck,
        talks like a duck,
        looks like a duck,
        smells like a duck
        … Then it must be a duck huh?

        Yes, quite probably so.
        But it’s also a great opportunity for sly fox to dress up as a duck and fraudulently misrepresent himself.

        If experts say that the AGW is I’ll accept it.
        … Accepted. Now wasn’t that easy?

        It’s the truth given today’s climate and today’s reality.

        What I find incredulous is the presumption that a change in climate will preserve the current truth and the current reality. The belief that is so smacks 500% of classic navel gazing.

        Scientists and economists have spectacularly lousy track record in long term predictions. The blunder is to believe with strong scientific conviction that the trend will persist in it’s current state.

        I accept the science but only consider it valid for this immediate ‘present’ describing plausible outcomes in the near term future.

        Obviously the physics doesn’t change over time. Everything else however is up for grabs and an open question. This is all the more so in regard to humanity, societies and economies.

        I don’t trust an economist any more than I trust a fortune teller. I don’t trust the Santa Fe Complex Systems gnomes much more either. Just bigger risks and bigger screw ups.

        Heck, I don’t even trust myself!

  40. Alexander Harvey

    While we have the Mann comments in view:

    5) Goes on to state:

    “One can point to, for example, the Montreal Protocol, which addressed the problem of stratospheric ozone depletion, as a success story and a model for the possibility of dealing with climate change.”

    Now why is it that the Montreal Protocol seems never to be claimed as a first great step in climate change mitigation? Why? Is it absence of mind or is it an unwanted piece of the puzzle?

    This a bit of a sticking point for me. To mention it in a climate context, here and elsewhere and not to claim it smacks of an agenda. Particularly as, if carefully handled, it could have been a boon for CAGW.


    • The Montreal Protocol was only adopted AFTER technically and economically viable alternatives were found. This meant the only issue to resolve were timeframes and who would pay the cost. The same was true for acid rain.

      With CO2 there no technically and economically viable alternatives to fossil fuels and we have no idea when they might appear. This means the CFC or SO2 examples do nit support the case for a climate treaty. In fact, if we use them as a model we should not even be talking about a treaty until we have the technically and economically viable alternatives available.

      • Craig Goodrich

        Actually, the Montreal Protocol was only adopted when DuPont’s patent on freon was about to run out…

    • The Montreal Protocol did nothing to address non-existent ozone depletion. Ozone depletion was (and still is) not primarily due to CFC release.

      Oh, and neither was acid rain due to human activities. Please read the first National Acid Precipitation Assessment Report from 1990. Then read about what happened to one of the main researchers of acid rain at the time when his scientific findings didn’t match the expected political answer:

      Both are perfect examples of politics trumping science and leading to expensive, legislative solutions to non-problems.

      The acid rain case also shows quite clearly the influence that exists to scientists to come up with the “correct” answers. The result if you go along and provide the correct answers? Funding and prestige. If you don’t come up with the correct answers? Cuts to funding, limits on publication opportunities, and outright personal attacks.

      Does anyone really think those political pressures no longer exist???


  41. All of this discussion is interesting, but I’m really not sure of the actual point. What is being displayed vividly in this forum and in many of the others that discuss the issues of “global warming” is simply belief.

    Belief isn’t rational. It isn’t logical. It isn’t science. It isn’t something in which one can apply reason. It just is. And, it’s one of the most potent forces in the world. Doesn’t really matter if there are people who BELIEVE that human releases of CO2 are really bad and will result in the downfall of civilization or if there are people who BELIEVE that CO2 is simply plant food and not a big deal and efforts to stop use of carbon based energy will lead to the downfall of civilization.

    The reason the arguments tend to get so personal is because they are belief based. It’s not science. And, when people believe in something strongly, they apply all sorts of justifications to support their internal beliefs.

    Science is a method and process that helps to sort out beliefs from what is the best understanding of the state of things at a point in time. And, it’s clear that the best scientific ideals aren’t exactly what’s been applied in the entire climate science corpus.

    It is unfortunate that many of the most public figures in the “global warming” community have allowed their beliefs to guide or influence their science instead of engaging in actual science.

    And, the idea of having people with vastly different and diametrically opposed beliefs come together isn’t really important in science… doing good science is what is really important.


  42. The use of the word “heretic” in the Scientific American article just begged for the word “dogma” to be used.

    But the word “heretic” wasn’t used in the article, was it? It was used in the headline, which is not usually the responsibility of the person writing the article. That may seem like a trivial difference but actually it’s not. In any case it’s a lazy piece of journalese which you appear to have siezed on because it conveniently fits in with your view of how you have been treated.
    The fact is it is very easy for people who are voicing unpopular opinions to portray themselves as brave seekers of truth whose only reward is to be branded as heretics, sometimes it may even be true. But sometimes unpopular opinions are unpopular because they are just plain wrong. Ultimately the fact that your opinions have caused a great deal of controversy proves nothing apart from the fact that they are controversial, it says nothing about whether they are right or wrong. But the fact that many of your critics are extremely well qualified to discuss the issues in hand should at least give you pause for thought.

    • it’s a shame that these extremely well qualified critics have never heard of data quality control….

      • Latimer Alder

        They may have heard of data quality control as something in the textbooks, but have never attempted to practice it.

        After all, any errors will be corrected post-collection by CRU and the gang. Why bother with all that tacky stuff with experiments and going to horribly hot or chillingly cold places? No respectable scientist would ever be seen away from his lab..unless on an IPCC conference in Bali.

      • Latimer “No respectable scientist would ever be seen away from his lab..unless on an IPCC conference in Bali.”

        Now that’s really silly. Where do you think the glaciologists and other cryology people spend their time? – those cameras on the Arctic ice didn’t get there by magic. And agricultural scientists out in the heat and the dust and the bugs, and oceanographers collecting slimy things from shorelines? What about the really dangerous work of measuring ocean temperatures – just go down the page to the tribute to oceanographers and then have a look at comment #11.

        If you don’t respect scientists, do it on the basis of what they do, not what they don’t.

      • Sorry. I’d forgotten that it is a prereq of a climate scientist to abandon any sense of humour.

        Of course they do all sorts of extremely dangerous work. Pointlessly trekking across the Arctic ice cap awaiting rescue in a publicity stunt springs to mind. And of course those cameras were placed at the Pole by a solely human powered journey. No fossil fuels were burnt on the way. No aeroplanes, helicopters or satnavs used.

        I read the comment you referred to and reproduce it here

        ‘I happened to work for a few days on a oceanographic ship in the much warmer and calm mediterranean waters. We had a simple task, take an instrument left at the bottom (2000 m) back home. The operation plan was simple, distributed to all of us printed on paper it was about a single page.
        The weather was fine and the sea smooth, i thought it was going to be almost a couple of days out at sea on vacation. It turned out to be the hardest 36 hours of continuos work of my life.
        When the instrument was finally on board, we were so tired that no one could eat or take a shower. Still wearing our wet clothes we hung over the deck for a long while drinking coffee. I commented that everything went wrong but my colleagues laughed at me and said “welcome to oceanography!”‘

        But I find nothing especially remarkable or dangerous about this account. The sort of work described is commonplace in the oil industry and is really applied engineering….the connection with oceanographic research of that particular incident is tenuous. Still I’m glad he enjoyed his coffee.

        By contrast my late father was taught to sail by Percy Blackborow. He stowed away to join Shackleton’s expedition to the Antarctic in 1914 and suffered all the difficulties of that dreadful voyage. His life in the cold was truly dangerous. You can read his remarkable story here

        By comparison I fear your tale of a bit of hard work in the Mediterranean – with hot coffee available – leaves me completely unmoved.

      • Steve, that reply was intended to point out just how bad it must be for those who do that work in the Southern Oceans.

        (And we’ve all got fantastic forebears – my great-grandfather sailed in those wheat clippers that did the horror trips through the roaring 40s.)

      • Perhaps you should have chosen a more compelling example?
        And your subject presents himself as an oceanographer, not as a ‘climate scientist’.

        I don’t know of any documented cases where members of the Hockey Team submitting themselves to such indignities. Please correct me if I have misjudged them.

      • Steve, there are no “members” of a hockey team – except for the lines on graphs. (Actually that’s a great visualisation for a cartoon. A horde of wiggly lines trudging up a mountainside or swimming with all those coloured fish in a coral reef.)

      • ??

        Perhaps we have a misunderstanding. The Hockey Team is how those prominent climatologists Mann, Briffa, Jones et al described themselves once the infamous hockey stick graph had achieved such great prominence. They thought of themselves as members of that team (see Climategate e-mails).

      • Latimer Alder

        I do respect scientists. I trained as one to a reasonable standard (MSc). And practiced in the ancillary – but highly relevant to these discussions – field of IT for over thirty years. I am proud to have been taught by, worked with and enjoyed the company of some remarkably talented scientists over the years. I wish I could have met Feynman or Bronowski….who showed how true science should be done.

        I do not respect people who claim to be doing ‘science’ while actually doing something else. That they bring a bad name to themselves is their problem, but that the collateral damage they do is to bring mistrust to all scientists is unforgivable.

      • What, none of them?

      • Latimer Alder

        OK – this is a US based blog. Irony, sarcasm and ridicule are not understood. My bad. I will rephrase the sentence to ‘many..’ rather than ‘no…’ I hope this is now clear.

        But Monty Python whose humour is largely based on those three elements is still popular over there – or at least I am so led to believe. And M4GW go down well too. H’mmm

  43. Judith,
    Many scientists do not have the knowledge base to factor in a highly adaptable planet. This planet survived long before man with many episodes of water adaptation to change or the consequence would be no water.
    Whatever we do to this planet, it will adjust and change to the appropriate threat.
    The only thing man has done that nature has not thrown at it is the massive storage and change of the water eco-system. This only threatens our regions for the evaporation process is then hindered or totally changed.

    • Joe,

      There is no doubt at all in my mind that whatever we do to our planet it will adjust and survive. Whether mankind will do so is another question altogether.

  44. Bart, the issue is when people make a strong statement about what we should do about it that then is used to stifle scientific dissent.

    I see plenty of dissent, within the bounds of what you would call science. Gerlich and Tseuchner or the ever present “Iron Sun” of Manuel, would be good examples of what lies outside science.

    The other ‘dissent’ is that which seeks to be critical of science, while reserving the right to break all the rules of scientific discourse. Those rules are a vital part of the scientific method, they aren’t just there as window dressing. Dissent does not demonize individuals or their research, even if they are wrong. Dissent is demonstrated by publishing what is right.

    If you wonder why Mann is so prominent, I don’t thinks it’s necessarily because he seeks that prominence, but the ‘deniers’ made him so prominent with their very public attacks and vilification.

    Hanson was prominent because he was one of the pioneers of the early research. If dissent was so openly prevented, why is it that Hansen seems to think that a ‘Venus’ type climate is possible, while the majority of scientists don’t?

  45. Joe Lalonde | November 8, 2010 at 7:33 am | Reply

    Many scientists do not have the knowledge base to factor in a highly adaptable planet. This planet survived long before man with many episodes of water adaptation to change or the consequence would be no water.
    Whatever we do to this planet, it will adjust and change to the appropriate threat.

    The rocks will do fine. Nature will be also be fine, it will respond to rapid climate change with the usual mass extinction.

  46. OK, let’s look at your examples of IPCC “ideology”.

    1. Anthropogenic climate change is real.
    This could only be classed as ideology if it were not possible to back up this claim with scientific evidence. Clearly it is possible to make a strong scientific case, even if you may personally disagree with aspects of it.

    2. Anthropogenic climate change is dangerous and we need to something about it:
    There is plenty of research to suggest that the kind of changes to our climate which are envisaged will be extremely dangerous in some cases. Again you may disagree with aspects of it, but it is clearly a scientific not an idealogical argument. As for the “we need to do something about it” part, well I guess this could be perceived as ideological, but if one accepts the scientific argument mentioned then surely only sociopaths would deny the need to do something, even if arguments about exactly what to do might be influenced by ideology.

    3. The fossil fuel industry is trying to convince people that climate change is a hoax:
    The fact that this has happened is well documented. Of course it would be wrong to say that all skepticism of AGW is down to the efforts of the fossil fuel industry, and I always prefer arguments over science to arguments over funding, but it would be wrong to say it has had no effect whatsoever.

    4. Deniers are attacking climate science and scientists:
    This is plainly true – there are plenty of attacks being made on the integrity both of climate scientists and the science beind AGW itself. There are various conspiracy theories which don’t even pretend to deal with the science. The fact that you think some of these attacks are justified doesn’t make it any less true.

    5. Action is needed to prevent dangerous climate change:
    See point 2

    6. Deniers and fossil fuel industry are delaying UNFCCC mitigatory policies.
    I think that there are various reasons why stronger action hasn’t been taken so far, but opposition from the above has certainly played a part. Many people here will probably think this is a good thing, I’m not going to argue that point.

    So all of these points are defensible either through scientific evidence or observation of what is happening in the world around us. This doesn’t seem like “ideology” to me.

    • CMEs are a plausible scientific risk that could bring our hi tech society to its knees. Does that mean we should reduce our dependence on electricity to prevent future disasters?

      The decision on whether to do something or not based on scientific claims is purely a political decision that weighs the cost of acting vs. the likelyhood of an adverse outcome. It is perfectly reasonable to say the costs of limiting CO2 far outweigh the likely benefits.

      Describing people who disagree on the cost benefit analyses as sociapaths is pure ideology.

      • Describing people who disagree on the cost benefit analyses as sociopaths is pure ideology.

        And, at least to some observers, gives the appearance of trying to silence dissent.

    • Hi Andrew

      In response to your points:

      1. “Clearly it is possible to make a strong scientific case, even if you may personally disagree with aspects of it.”

      In so far as the case is built on climate models which don’t replicate complex natural processes and false claims of unprecedented temperatures, it is a very weak case which is undermined by contradictory evidence.

      2. Most of the alarmist claims of extreme weather consequences of global warming are wrong or exaggerated and again contradicted by scientific papers.

      3. It may be true that the fossil fuel industry funded opposition to AGW but this is now almost an irrelevance. The amounts of money pale into insignificance compared to the $billions being poured into proving and promoting the AGW agenda. There is now a multi-billion dollar carbon industry supported by oil companies, power suppliers, banks and many other organisations. Structural incentives to obscure the truth abound.

      4. Where there has been wrongdoing, the attacks may be justified but most of what I see is evidence contradicting AGW being brought to people’s attention through the blogosphere because there has been a blinkered, one sided approach from the media.

      5. There is no scientific basis to justify urgent action and many policies being adopted are wasteful, will lead to financial scandals while causing misery and hardship for many.

      The debate is often characterised in ideological terms of left v right. The reality is in one sense more simple: it is a debate between those with a vested interest in perpetuating the man-made global myth versus those seeking to expose the current state of climate science to public scrutiny, In other ways it is much more nuanced because many supporting the claim of AGW are motivated by a belief that they are “saving the planet” and they have a prior commitment to the theory. Adjusting one’s beliefs in the face of systematic suppression or distortion of contradictory evidence is a big ask.

  47. David Weisman

    In my opinion this in’t the core of the problem. If you look at the old debate about smoking and lung cancer,we might find scientists crossing all these lines between science and policy advocacy, and not be too upset about it. The problem arises when some scientist do wrong things with data for ideological reasons, and are given a pass by other scientists in the same discipline.

  48. Latimer Alder

    @david weisman

    ‘The problem arises when some scientist do wrong things with data for ideological reasons, and are given a pass by other scientists in the same discipline’

    ‘Climate science’ and ‘climate scientists’ glory in presenting themselves as a special breed of scientist. They assert that only accredited climate scientists are capable of having valid opinions about climate science. They restrict peer-review to a very limited number of insiders and seem to revel in their ‘apartness’ from other disciplines.

    It is also a very young field. There are few ‘elder statesmen’ with forty years experiemce. There is not even yet a standard undergraduate textbook on the topic AFAIK. In such circumstances the more experienced people will have a disproportionate influence … they will likely have nearly all the lever sof power under their control to make or break a young scientist’s career…grant money, patronage, journal gatekeeping…and the holy grail of the IPCC itself.

    So if the ‘elders’ set a bad example, then it is no wonder that others are bound to follow…Whether wilfully or not, if shoddy work and behaviour is seen as the norm in the field, that is what will be produced.

    But the illusion only holds while the external world is kept out. And this cannot last forever. Even the Berlin Wall eventually fell.

    I can see no evidence at all that there is anything special about climate science. A practitioner needs to understand a fair bit about the traditional science subjects of maths, chemistry and physics. Excellence in statistics is surely a prereq for any historical reconstructions. Knowledge of geology a plus in some areas. Programming and IT skills needed etc etc.

    But all of these are understood techniques in other fields. There is little that is unique to a study of the climate, however hard the occupants try to persuade us otherwise. The standard techniques of other sciences do apply.

    And every time we see an expert from one of the other fields look in detail at the work of the climatologists we see reports of poor quality work. Mann’s hockey stick uses a completely bizarre method. The collection of basic temperature data is laughably inept. The IT standards are amateur in the extreme. And so on and so on.

    I’ll be charitable and assume that the young climatologists who do not object to such poor quality do so only because they know no better. If you were stuck out in the sticks in CRU at Norwich in a university where other scientists were almost extinct and 100 miles from anywhere, then maybe your judgment of what is right becomes a little insular. It explains but does not excuse their behaviour.

    So let put it down – until other evidence arises – as a classic example of Groupthink, rather than of malice. Perhaps Judith’s excellent articles will help to provoke a change that will be to everyone’s benefit.

    • Let’s Call A Spade A Shovel

      Government science has been corrupted by government funds.

      The problem will not be solved by using only “pretty” words when talking about deceit, fraud, and manipulation of data to avoid exposing the truth.

      With kind regards,
      Oliver K. Manuel
      Former NASA Principal
      Investigator for Apollo

      • Oliver,
        If you go back in time, religion was a huge threat to any heretic that used their minds. Religion wants followers and not leaders.
        Corrupted science was not on purpose, it was more nieve of not having the knowledge base that is currently available.
        But that too generated followers to that doctorine of thought, right up to today.
        It generated traditional science that became LAWS that no one is to oppose(even though they are still theories).
        A coil spring defies ALL current LAWS of science as it can compress and store energy, change it’s density and release stored energy.
        On a rotational model, it is an excellent proxy to understanding this planet.

    • But there is no special “breed” of climate scientist. The fact that the blogosphere is tightly focused on the physics, the meteorology and the paleo doesn’t mean that the science is.

      I’d really like to see a much bigger emphasis on agriculture and other biology as well as oceans. One of my favourite hockey sticks is, after all, the dates of the cherry blossom festival in Japan.

      • Latimer Alder

        For once I agree with you entirely. There is no special breed of climate scientist.

        But the more hysterical among those who study climatology dismiss the mildest criticism of their work as invalid unless it comes exclusively from another cliamtologist. I remember one guy who was incensed that Steve McIntyre had the effrontery to criticise Mann’s heavily statistically based work because McI was ‘just a statistician’ and knew nothing climate science.

        Spectacular own goal.

  49. Some breaking news. The LA Times story on the AGU is in error, there is a corrected version up on the web site now. I sent the web link to someone in the AGU leadership council last nite, they were unaware of it. They have been flurrying to correct the story. At this point, the AGU is the professional organization that I have the greatest faith in (under its current leadership) to do the “right thing” in the midst of the climate wars.

    • Do you have the link? A search on the la times site doesn’t bring up the AGU.

    • Dr. Curry: What is the “right thing” for climate scientists to do in your estimation? Does this newspaper account sound like what you have in mind?

      I can hardly object to climate scientists speaking out, although the news story is somewhat vague on what forms that will take.

      However, I would like them to be explicit where their funding comes from when they do speak out.

      And if they are going to respond to skeptics, I would hope that they would do so in a forthright manner — as opposed to the sort of kangaroo courts that activist climate scientists often set up in their blogs and as evidenced in the Climategate emails.

      • a good topic for a post, pretty swamped tho, possibly next week.

      • here’s what i wrote for a reporter on this:

        Would you be willing to comment regarding your perspective on the efforts, as a scientist who is not involved?

        The efforts by John Abrahamson and the AGU are separate and very different, and should be considered separately. The effort led by John Abrahmson is to fight what they regard as climate change skepticism, by better educating the public and refuting skeptical critiques of climate science. I am certainly all in favor of debates between scientists that disagree. If they want to do spend their time doing this, that is fine. It seems less motivated by educating the public than it is to predispose them to support certain policies, but again, they are of course free to spend their time doing this if they feel motivated to do it or it is worthwhile. Personally, I think this is rather pointless. The major decision makers already understand that there is a risk that needs to be considered; what if anything they end up doing about it is another story (a political one).

        The problem arises when an institution such as a professional society takes this kind of a public stance. The AGU is not taking a public stance on this issue, unlike the Royal Society and the APS, to name a few. What the AGU is doing is coordinating a group of experts to serve as resource persons for decision makers who would like either general information or specific information related to their decision issue. Now this kind of interaction is not about scientists to lobby decision makers to “vote” on some sort of policy or build public support for UNFCCC energy polices. Rather, it is to help decision makers such as water resource managers figure out how to grapple with the range of possibilities that might happen in their region in a changing climate. This is exactly how scientists should be engaging with decision makers, and the AGU is to be commended for facilitating this.

        In your view, is there a need for scientists to mobilize against climate skeptics in the US?

        Absolutely not. There is sufficient uncertainty in our understanding of the complex climate system that there is plenty of room for a spectrum of viewpoints on this that are not irrational. Scientific disagreement on a subject as complex as climate change is going to go on forever, and it should. Disagreement sparks scientific progress. Trying to quell scientific disagreement because you are concerned about diminishing the political will to act on your preferred policy is bad for both the science and the policy.

        I’d also be curious about your thoughts on whether scientists should get involved in climate policy debate, if not why, or if so to what extent?

        Well, this is a choice for the individual scientist. There is a need for science to inform policy, and for some scientists to engage with policy makers. Science doesn’t dictate policy; rather it is one piece of information that is weighed along with many others (e.g. economics, values) in the decision making process. Scientists don’t always realize this or like it. Some scientists choose to be advocates, and that is their choice. This isn’t a bad thing, but the scientist has to make it very clear what is science and what is politics. The late Steve Schneider did a better job at this than some of the other advocate scientists that are currently quite vocal.

      • > The major decision makers already understand that there is a risk that needs to be considered; what if anything they end up doing about it is another story (a political one).

        Abraham spent a not inconsiderable period of time painstakingly debunking a single presentation by Chris Monckton. For starters, this hardly falls under the heading of a “debate between scientists that disagree” – this is attempting to correct active and deliberate misinformation. More importantly however Monckton was called to advise the US Republican Party on climate change issues not so long ago. The same party whose ranks have now been swelled by new politicians who actively deny climate change, and believe they have a mandate to stop any measures that may otherwise be enacted. People like Monckton are essentially acting as enablers, providing an air of “scienciness” to justify preconceived idealogical positions regardless of any genuine science basis. Significant damage has been caused by widespread unchecked dissemination of such unsupported misrepresentations and fabrications to people in power.

        So I disagree with your assessment – some policy makers flatly deny there is a risk. As of last week, this number has grown more than ever, and in the nation whose voice on this issue matters pretty much more than anyone else’s.

      • Latimer Alder

        @dave h

        ‘Abraham spent a not inconsiderable period of time painstakingly debunking a single presentation by Chris Monckton’….

        …and got his ass whupped in return.

      • And it is this level of delusion that makes substantive correction to disinformation in the public sphere mostly pointless.

      • Latimer Alder

        Abraham didn’t get his ass whupped?

        Why then was he forced to withdraw his so carefully crafted work and substitute a watered down version? Over 00 ponts changed in his new attempt.

        If that isn’t ass whupping, then as a Brit, I clearly don’t understand how the phrase is to be used.

        Is Abraham going to be debating Monckton face to face in his new guise as Climate Rapid Response Superman? Or is it solely an arms length encounter that he has in mind.

      • Latimer Alder

        Apologies…should read ‘over 500 points’. Sorry for the typo. Getting late here.

      • > Abraham didn’t get his ass whupped?


      • Blame that on the ideologues, who insist on relating #1 to the whole rest of the political part of the ideology. The policy makers feel compelled politically to deny the risk since they think the scientists have “overegged the pudding” and are playing politics.

      • > Blame that on the ideologues

        I do blame the idealogues. Not the ones you mean though.

        In any event, lets say I am a politician – what grounds to I have for reaching the conclusion that scientists have “overegged the pudding”? As a politician I have no scientific background – I have neither the time nor the ability to wade through the hard research and verify the findings for myself. On what rationale do I evaluate something like the IPCC AR4 and determine it to be an unsound basis for forming policy? On what information do I form the belief that I can disregard the advice for policymakers because scientists are “playing politics”?

      • Scientists who buy into the whole ideology have overegged the pudding by making the whole ideology contingent on #1 (the science)

      • Dave H: I’m not a scientist or a politician, but it seems likely to me that scientists have overgged the pudding for several reasons:

        * Because they have done it several times before (DDT, Population Bomb, Nuclear Winter, Club of Rome and more).

        * It doesn’t help that climate change advocates (sometimes also scientists) frequently resort to terrifying propaganda (e.g. the 10:10 film) to further their cause.

        * Then there’s Climategate which raises the question that if the science behind climate change is so rock-solid persuasive why are some of its most prominent scientists disobeying laws, being sloppy with data, threatening to destroy data, and conspiring against skeptics in peer-reviewed journals and in their blogs?

        * Of course it doesn’t help that the IPCC gets caught making stupid, extreme claims that got through fact-checking.

        * Finally, there’s the odd fact that climate change scientists and advocates do poorly in public debates with skeptics. At this point they seem to be avoiding debate with skeptics altogether unless they control the debate.

        One can make arguments against and excuses for each of these, I know, but put them altogether and there’s a smell to climate change science that lingers and is quite off-putting.

      • Huxley,

        The thing that all of your points have in common is that – certainly in terms of public or political perception – none of them have much to do with science.

        * Your first point is straight out guilt-by-association and mistrust of scientific authority. The counter-examples far outweigh the empty scares – which (to the extent that your examples are accurate) are mostly a media/political construct anyway.

        * Your second point is about the media. I note you characterise the 10:10 video as terrifying propaganda, which I find to be quite a slanted and alarmist interpretation – it was obviously *supposed* to be funny, and indeed a *spoof* of the terrifying propaganda you are accusing them of producing. That it fell flat doesn’t mean it actually *was* terrifying propaganda.

        * Your third point is largely about media interpretation of events and commentary. None of this is at all relevant to whether the original scientific message is in any meaningful sense accurate. No peer reviewed work has been withdrawn as a result.

        * The IPCC makes mistakes. People make mistakes. The reports are huge. I have no doubt there are still dozens of errors that no-one has spotted. That you characterise the ones that *have* been found as extreme and stupid is going quite far – eg. we all know that the glacier one was correct in the report that mattered, should have been picked up during the process and the only reason it came to prominence was the actions of spokespersons and critics.

        * This is not an odd fact at all. Public debate is a horrible format for deciding matters of science. It takes an eloquent speaker like Chris Monckton with a receptive audience a matter of minutes to make more easily understood but incorrect statements than can be easily refuted in an hour – and those refutations will invariably rely on detail that goes way over the heads of the audience and convince almost no-one.

        So in light of all this – why would I mistrust anyone apart from politicians and the media? Are not the IPCC reports a paragon of reliability by comparison?

      • Dave H: As I said, one can argue against or find excuses for the reasons I have listed, and you have.

        My criticisms are not of science so much as the past 50 years of practice by environmental scientists. Consistently we find that these scientists overstate the dangers they are warning of. Consistently we find that these scientists are not policed by other scientists, so there is little risk for scientists taking extreme positions even when they are eventually found wrong.

        Now with Climategate we find scientists actively conspiring to rig peer review, play games with data, ignore FOI laws, and rig blog debates. And again, we find that, except for rare scientists like Dr Curry, other scientists are not willing to police such behavior.

        To me this looks like environmental science, as it is currently constituted, is biased to produce overly pessimistic results. That’s its record, and that’s why many non-scientists, such as myself, have come to mistrust the latest environmental crisis du jour.

        You probably won’t find this persuasive. I understand. That’s the nature of much debate about complex issues.

        Like it or not, there are millions of people like me who are not going to trust the IPCC until we see better from climate scientists and the climate change movement. That’s not a problem unless you want our votes and our cooperation.

      • Dr. Curry: Thanks. Sounds reasonable to me.

        I certainly have room in my philosophy for scientists to be advocates with your proviso of making it “very clear what is science and what is politics.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        “Scientific disagreement on a subject as complex as climate change is going to go on forever, and it should. Disagreement sparks scientific progress”.
        As insider I think Judith needs to clarify– for the sake of the laypeople reading this blog– precisely what is in disagreement within the climate research community when it comes to the science of GW. To make such a sweeping statement without evidence would be irresponsible. What are the top scientific (not policy) ‘debates’ that research climatologists are engaging in when it comes to the issue of global warming? PLEASE educate us.
        Also, what approach did S. Schneider take that is superior to what advocate scientists are doing now?

  50. The Scientific Method is an ideology.

    To be honest, the problem is that Climate Science (in its current IPCC state) is not a coherent system of ideas and thus lacks the necessary authority to be considered an ideology.

    Environmentalist Dogma is unfortunately dragging the Science down.

  51. The supporters of the IPCC-type view on this blog seem to be making the claim “the risk is high and the science robust enough to take action”. But the “action” is not specified. Hansen wants all power plants to shut down immediately. Is this the “action” you support? We could switch to nuclear–an option only slightly more expensive. Do you support that? All wind and solar? Forced population reduction as some advocate? why is mitigation not on the table? In my middle class neighborhood we ignore big snowfalls and 60mph winds, because we don’t live in shacks. Mitigation rocks! It is easy to say “action” without being specific, but all the specifics have a downside. No action is free.

    • Hansen wants all power plants to shut down immediately.

      Hansen favors a straight tax that goes from carbon based fuel purchases and is returned %100 evenly to each consumer. It is not a new idea, as others, including Gore’s are similar (except Gore would return a high percentage through a tax break). Hansen is also in favor replacing coal with 3rd generation nuclear and a big push for 4th generation nuclear, which is not available yet. There is much more to this, but those are the basics.

  52. “Hansen wants all power plants to shut down immediately.”

    Craig, please try to avoid sloppy untruths like this one.

    • Your’re right, I got him mixed up with some others. Hansen wants oil company execs arrested for “crimes against humanity” and calls coal cars “death cars”. Raising the cost of energy as Hansen suggests will have social consequences. Why is that better than adaptation?

      • Hansen said: “Special interests have blocked the transition to our renewable energy future. Instead of moving heavily into renewable energies, fossil fuel companies choose to spread doubt about global warming, just as tobacco companies discredited the link between smoking and cancer. Methods are sophisticated, including funding to help shape school textbook discussions of global warming.

        CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of the long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.”

        Hansen said: “As oil resources peak, coal will determine future CO2 levels. Recently, after giving a high school commencement talk in my hometown, Denison, Iowa, I drove from Denison to Dunlap, where my parents are buried. For most of 20 miles there were
        trains parked, engine to caboose, half of the cars being filled with coal. If we cannot stop the building of more coal-fired power plants, those coal trains will be death trains – no less gruesome than if they were boxcars headed to crematoria, loaded with uncountable irreplaceable species.” (my emphasis)

        Pummel away at Hansen if you want, but at least give context.

      • Pat Cassen,

        Hansen’s statement needs not be emphasized in any way to show its tactics. It is explicit orthodox ideological environmentalist code; for political advocacy via authoritarian interventionist control of the free market.

        These kinds of statements of crude authoritarianism mixed with childish apocalyptic pronouncements, in this case spoken by a mere astrophysicist cum climate scientist, are why the IPCC supporters have come to the edge of the precipice in their battle. The only people who believe people like Jim are people who do not question him; apparently the number of non-questioners is dwindling.


      • “…mere astrophysicist…” Whoa! Some of my best friends are astrophysicists :-)

      • Pat Cassen,

        Thanks for continuing this discussion.

        Yes, I debated including the word ‘mere’ in my comment above. Here is some of my thinking.

        Like you some of the people I admire most right now in science, as scientists, are astrophysicists or solar physicists. I admire them as such within their profession only. As they step outside their scientific profession then they can become ‘mere astrophysicists’ when crudely advocating ideology and using their scientific names as crutches for such advocacy. That is why I refer to Jim as a mere astrophysicist . . . . he merely stepped outside of his science by his advocacy to become just like everyone else . . . . . no priviledges. Merely.


      • I especially like how Hansen endorsed “Time’s Up”, the book calling for massive acts of terrorism and destruction of the tools of human survival in the name o fthe environment.
        And is it too much to point out that anyone with the least bit of judgement would realize that this destruction would do on a glbal scale waht Pol Pot accomplished in Cambodia?

  53. Ideology has a very political tone to it. Here in Canada the Liberal’s accuse the Conservative government of passing policy on “ideological grounds”. The meaning being “terrible!”. As if Liberals have no idelogical basis for their policies.

    If you are going to use ideology, which is very likely what is also going on as well as dogma, then you will be bring in the political motives behind AGW. And that leads to the movement to impose a one world communist government and the quest to end freedom, democracy and capitalism. Using idelology means you won’t be able to separate the politics from the science, which the AGW faithful will definitely try to prevent from happening. They don’t want to have the ulterior motive, the hidden agenda, exposed.

    • Best. Comment. Ever.

    • I wonder if conspiracy theorizing about world governments is a sign of a motivating ideology.

      • Craig Goodrich

        If one reads the early draft of a proposed Copenhagen treaty leaked just before the conference, the conclusion is inescapable that a great deal of national sovereignty (not to mention treasure) was to be ceded to the UN. Whether that counts as “world government” conspiracy I leave to the reader.

        But it has been obvious for more than three decades that the UN bureaucracy has been desperately looking for a source of funding independent of (basically voluntary) member contributions, very largely from the US.

      • Have a look at what George Soros and Maurice Strong are trying to do.

  54. David L. Hagen

    News/review re green ideology:
    What the Green Movement Got Wrong: Greens come to see the error of their ways Charles Moore, The Telegraph UK

  55. I don’t necessarily agree with this, but interesting:
    How science makes environmental controversies worse
    Daniel Sarewitz
    Environmental Science & Policy 7 (2004) 385–403
    I use the example of the 2000 US Presidential election to show that political controversies with technical underpinnings are not resolved
    by technical means. Then, drawing from examples such as climate change, genetically modified foods, and nuclear waste disposal, I explore
    the idea that scientific inquiry is inherently and unavoidably subject to becoming politicized in environmental controversies. I discuss three
    reasons for this. First, science supplies contesting parties with their own bodies of relevant, legitimated facts about nature, chosen in part
    because they help make sense of, and are made sensible by, particular interests and normative frameworks. Second, competing disciplinary
    approaches to understanding the scientific bases of an environmental controversy may be causally tied to competing value-based political
    or ethical positions. The necessity of looking at nature through a variety of disciplinary lenses brings with it a variety of normative lenses, as
    well. Third, it follows from the foregoing that scientific uncertainty, which so often occupies a central place in environmental controversies,
    can be understood not as a lack of scientific understanding but as the lack of coherence among competing scientific understandings,
    amplified by the various political, cultural, and institutional contexts within which science is carried out.
    In light of these observations, I briefly explore the problem of why some types of political controversies become “scientized” and others
    do not, and conclude that the value bases of disputes underlying environmental controversies must be fully articulated and adjudicated
    through political means before science can play an effective role in resolving environmental problems.
    © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Keywords: Values; Politics; Science policy; Environmental policy; Lomborg

  56. So let’s be practical:
    The market is done with arguing – the Chicago carbon exchange is dead. The EU version is lingering on a bit but is being choked by fraud, the state of the public finances and public opinion.
    The dearth of sunspots seems to be having an effect too.
    A thirty year temperature record seems a bit short on which to base such grandiloquent forecasts – especially when there appears to be two camps as to the historic record. Unless you count the unadjusted record as the third.
    The temperature appears to have been dropping over the past 8 years or so and the sea level seems almost static.
    So basically, the evidence does not seem to agree with the computer models.
    And just to make things more exciting, we are promised another dose of “Global Warming” next January.
    So forgive me if I continue to conserve energy (because of cost), to insulate my house (because of cost) and to do all the basic commonsense things which any prudent housewife would do. You can continue arguing – I shall adapt – and I rather hope it is to warm rather than cold.

  57. There is good evidence that the climate debate is almost entirely ideological, on both sides. This makes sense if the science is unsettled because ideology is how we make political decisions when science is unsettled, or absent. The evidence is the dramatic difference between the Democrats and Republicans on this issue. Something like 70-80% of Dems accept AGW while only 20-30% of Reps do. Ideological differences do not get any starker than this. Anyone who wants to claim this is merely a scientific dispute has to explain these numbers. Anyone who wants to claim that the science is settled has to do likewise. Not likely.

    Interestingly, it is also the case that among scientists Democrats outnumber Republicans about 3 or 4 to one. Thus the fact that the majority of scientists accept AGW can be explained solely on ideological grounds. I find this fascinating.

    Anyone wanting to claim that this is purely a scientific dispute, as opposed to an ideological one, must also explain why there are so many blogs devoted to it. Real scientific disputes, such as over flavors of string theory, or the existence of the Higgs boson, have few blogs that I know of.

    Recognizing that this dispute is intrinsically ideological explains many of its features. Alas, however, it does nothing to resolve the dispute. As with all ideological disputes, the resolution is in the ballot box.

    • There are lots of blogs about evolution too.

      Ideology is the right word. The strongest ideology involved in this issue is the anti-government, anti-tax, world-government, UN fearing ideology of political libertarianism. This is why there are so many skeptics throwing out duff arguments, it’s because a whole political swathe of alex jones listeners and tea partiers are predisposed to count AGW as just another political issue to take a biased side on to defend their ideology and core dogmas.

      Much like creationists are religious ideologues who oppose the science because it threatens a cherished religious dogma, libertarians are political ideologues who oppose the science because it threatens a cherished political dogma. There then follows an attempt find and spread scientific excuses to justify their denial.

      Liberals have no similar motivation to glue themselves to AGW. It doesn’t threaten their dogmas nor aid them particularly. Hence why there are far more right wing blogs about AGW than left wing. It’s a flashpoint for conservatives, but not so much for liberals.

      • I assume that everyone is equally rational so you have not explained the high percentage of liberal’s faith in AGW, just the low percentage of conservative faith. As for the number of blogs each way it looks pretty even to me. The fact that the issue is extremely important but the science is drawn explains all the demographics. You do not.

      • I see you have again missed the chance to stop demonzing people you disagree with.

    • David Wojick,

      I find people on this site have a difficult time separating the scientific component of global climate change from the politics/economics of climate change. It’s not very difficult to do, yet they are all important, and something being relevant to politics does not necessarily make it “bad” or ideological. Scientific work has guided policy before; for instance in the late 1940s and 50s it was common practice to test exploding nuclear devices high in the stratosphere, with the thought that the stratosphere is stably stratified and could not mix easily with the troposphere underneath. In fact, mixing of stratosphere and tropospheric air occurs all the time in daily weather events, and so recognition of this is a good motivator to tell policy makers to cut it out. Same with the ozone issue.

      This is why there are three working groups of the IPCC report, all of which require significantly different degrees of expertise to be involved with. Someone interested in radiative transfer may not be someone interested in cap and trade policy. The scientific basis (for the physical science) of climate change has roots well over 100 years old, and that CO2 is an important greenhouse gas that could cause global warming should have been well-known shortly after WW2. And yet, for whatever reason, there has been a substantial effort– no different than people denying evolution or smoking causing lung cancer– to cause substantial doubt on this basic reality.

      Every scientist has to be a trained skeptic, and there are certainly the good sort of scientific skeptics out there questioning things and working to improve our understanding, but this signal has been lost in the relentless ‘noise’ by people with absolutely no understanding of climate or hoping to mislead– people like Monckton, Pat Michaels, Watts, Soon and Baliunas, Inhofe, etc. Calling these people ‘deniers’ is not a sign of dogma, it’s precisely what they are doing. It’s what ICR is doing when they build museums and schools that teach young children that the fossil record points to a young Earth and ‘macroevolution’ cannot occur.

      While it is easy for a skeptic to say that we should ignore all these people and only focus on the “serious skeptics” it is becoming very difficult to find such examples. More to the point, there is no ‘IPCC camp’ vs. the skeptics with some wingnuts making noise on the sidelines. The IPCC camp, by very definition, is wherever the scientific community’s “balance of evidence” is heading in whatever topic is under consideration. The “IPCC camps” view on hurricanes or El Nino projections in the future, for example, is that we really don’t know a whole lot with high confidence. Yet there’s many hurricane researchers– Landsea, Emanuel, etc with varying views on the details. And they are all skeptical of each other’s work, because that’s what science does. And when the balance of evidence becomes overwhelming in a particular topic, it becomes widely accepted, but there’s probably still going to be details to fit in to complete the tiny jig-saw puzzle. You’re never going to get a whole community to agree on every last technical detail, and to a large degree it’s these details that drive more research and publication– not every new idea is a huge paradigm shift. The house of cards view of global warming, that one little new idea is going to kill everything, is just not correct.

      But the people who still say no warming exists, the greenhouse effect isn’t real, CO2 can’t warm because its lags temperature in the ice cores continue to work with ridiculous logical fallacies and undergrad-level errors which makes them easy to dismiss. Even more serious claims like of a low climate sensitivity have becomes extremely faith-based (Lindzen) with no evidence to support them. You can’t advance science like this.

      • Chris , Anthony Watts and Monckton both believe in radiative physics.
        Do you not read. They both believe that C02 warms the planet. So they do not deny the core tenet of AGW. What they do question is the results from models that indicate high sensitivities.

        Bottom line: there are no deniers, except for a smattering of vocal commenters and some fringe bloggers.

      • steve,

        Are you being serious? Have YOU not read their stuff? I’m not just talking about radiative physics. Have you seen Monckton’s presentation that Abraham ended up responding to? Making up temperature projection/CO2 data, lying about sea ice trends, cherry-picking data, and virtually everything else he engages in is just as much denialism as “denying radiative physics.” Even his justifications for a low sensitivity or misrepresentation of Pinker et al are fraught with countless misunderstandings which I refuse to believe are simply mistakes, particularly after being corrected numerous times. Did you actually look at his response to Abraham?

        You are being very silly.

      • WRT lindzen. Dick has requested that his theories be tested using GCMs.
        His requests were denied. Some folks are actually working on trying to get him the assets to do some of the tests he wants to do. I helped with the quotes, so I’d suggest that you might adjust your opinion of him.

        When I worked in modelling our biggest asset was control of the model. Somebody who wanted to disprove what we were busy proving had no chance. No CPU and no time to make the changes to the model they requested. They were left with trying to sort thrugh existing data to find problems. That’s part of the problem: Inquiry is narrowed to proving a particular case rather than discovery.

      • Very good points Steve. I hope Chris Colose comes back to answer them.

        Lindzen and Spencer are published climatologists. Spencers recent published journal article obviously goes well over Chris Colose’s head, otherwise he would not be so quick to write off the evidence for lower sensitivity.

  58. Over 200 comments? Mine will be lost, but here we go:

    I prefer the simpler definition I got from Hannah Arendt. Ideology is the logic of an idea. That is, the belief that a single idea explains the grand sweep of history. Anti-Semitism is an ideology. It explained why prices were high, or why men lost their jobs, or why their country lost a war. Marxism is an ideology. Class struggle explained why some were rich and some poor.

    There is an ideological element to the current AGW movement, but they are not identical. If you go back to pre-Hansen 1988, you can find identical language to that found in global warming apocalyptics. The same anti-capitalist, anti-corporate, small-is-beautiful language is used in both. Thus, the ideology was there before there was Global Warming. The ideology is Greenism – an offshoot of socialist criticism, married to romantic, misanthropic environmentalism.

    Dogmatism was better – it describes behavior. Ideology drives dogmatic beliefs and behavior. Once you believe you have learned The Secret, dogma is justified – ask the Vatican.

    • Your comment was most definitely NOT lost. Excellent!!!


    • MarkB,

      Your comment cannot be lost if it references Hannah Arendt! Thank you.

      I can agree with both you and Hannah Arendt.

      At the same time I am trying to steer Judith to discussions of why people endorse an ideology. I am trying to get to the discussion of the world view and conceptual basis for them to be ideologists. That is what my focus in on.


      • Some bad positive feedback loops, working on a new post now.

      • I wish I could find it again, lost when a drive failed years ago. But I did read a very interesting paper on line on the two distinct ideological positions people believe. This paper claimed it was engrained in us. Not sure about that. But the argument went something like this:

        Liberals and the Left are driven by emotional ideology about how the world should be. Their actions were all based on this belief of a utopia can be made for humanity if we can only act together. All emitionally based romanic socialism.

        Libertarians and the the Right believe in reality first.

        I’m doing it no justice, but that is the crux of the paper. Churchill once said as a young person if you have no compassion you have no heart. When you are older if you have no reasonning you have no brain, or something like that.

      • two distinct ideological positions people believe. ?

        That would be the autistic and non-autistic perspectives on reality.

        ‘Science’ = autistic perspective

  59. There are five attributes of ideologues:
    1. Absence of doubt

    Absence of doubt alone is no indicator of being an ideologues. Believing p=mv is not the sign of one being an ideologue. You have to specify what degree of certainty you have in something to round out this notion.

    2. Intolerance of debate

    Science has built up a formal debate method, the process of publishing papers. It works very well, as can be demonstrated quite easily. When informal debates are used, you end up with debates being won by creationists like Gish using the infamous ‘Gish Gallop’, something I have seen in action on this web site, or Monckton winning a debate using cheap theatrics.

    Science, including climate science, has a long history of debate, it has not been stifled.

    3. Appeal to authority

    The scientific method is one of a long history of ‘appealing to authority’. It is the publishing process that creates authority. A paper in a high impact journal has authority. It means that the journal has high standards and can be trusted to ensure the paper has been critically reviewed to it’s high standards. It can still be wrong, it can be countered by other papers, but it has authority, and rightly so.

    The simplistic line of ‘appeal to authority’ ignores the scientific process that is designed to be able to imbue documents with authority.

    4. A desire to convince others of the ideological “truth”

    Science is not about ideological ‘truth’, but gathering scientific evidence supporting or disproving an idea. Depending on the complexity of the subject being studied, it may not be possible to present one simple answer. McIntyre was once asking what the formula was for climate sensitivity. He had no idea what he was looking at or for.

    If there is a ‘truth’ about climate science, it is, for example, the greenhouse effect, and that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. This is because these have been studied and proven over many years. The case for climate sensitivity is much more complex, and there is an ongoing debate between scientists as to how much warming there is likely to be. To deny that is to deny a simple fact.

    5. A willingness to punish those that don’t concur

    Indeed. The blogosphere and press storms that are happening even now demonstrate who is being punished. It is not those who doubt or deny AGW, it is the scientists who research it.

    • Sorry, but have you actually READ the “climategate” emails??? Have you read anything about any of the “…gates” that erupted recently???

      The underlying publication process was intentionally rigged to quell dissent.

      Reasonable scientific questions were belittled and the scientists heavily involved in CAGW develeloped coordinated plans to stifle dissent.

      Contrary evidence was downplayed (in the cases where it actually saw the light of day), or was prohibited from ever getting published formally.

      What was documented in the emails and in the text and code of the “climategate” releases was clearly not best scientific practices. The refusal to release data and code is not an example of best scientific practices.


      • “The underlying publication process was intentionally rigged to quell dissent.”

        The publication process is supposed to be rigged. Not to quell dissent but to quell rubbish.

        Skeptics are more than happy to mistake latter as if it were the former.
        Creationists do the same thing.

      • Please stop going on about creationism and evolution. This has nothing to do with it. Your attempts to make this false analogy just show how weak your arguments are.

      • Latimer Alder

        Well I got about 1,800,0oo in 0.29 seconds when I tried it just now.

        Should we conclude that the rate of disbelief in creationism is exponentially decreasing..and probably unprecedented in human history? Or that Google’s hit number is not a very reliable indicator of the true situation and shouldn’t be used for anything?

        IMO a sceptic would think for a mimute and say ‘trash the number, its crap’. A warmist would give the problem to The Team who would labour mightily to bring forth a 5th dimensional proof using their own unique and ‘innovative’ statistical method to show that it is yet further ‘proof’ of CAGW.

      • Actually Google wasn’t my friend :'( Don’t understand what you and others mean by CAGW?

        Couldn’t bring myself to go beyond the first page of hits [About 83,400 results (0.10 seconds)]

        IMO a sceptic would think for a mimute and say ‘trash the number, its crap’

      • Latimer Alder

        CAGW is a pretty widely used acronym. I’m genuinely surprised that you haven’t heard of it.

        Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming.

        But then several other here didn’t understand what The Hockey Team was/is. Perhaps they are still finding their feet in the blogosphere….Welcome guys..enjoy the debates!


      • It never registered and/or I wouldn’t have thought of it Perhaps (Carbon)AGW but that seemed redundant.

        Thus AGW is the skeptic’s hypothesis whereas CAGW is the Law of Nature. (pun intended).

        As for what the Hockey Team(s) is/was …

        Al Gore?
        Steve McIntyre and MapleLeaf?
        A barbershop quartet of trained polar bears sponsored by Coke?

        Surely not the “Contreal Manadians” ? … :-)

      • Or maybe they understand what Orwell was talking about regarding the use of language in 1984.

        Still wondering what kind of event counts as ‘Catastrophic’; perhaps you can tick from this list:

        – Write-off of many popular Alpine skiing resorts?
        – Loss of Arctic sea ice causing extinctions and regional climate disruption?
        – Agricultural zones shifting faster than farmers can keep up?
        – Cities becoming uninhabitable due to loss of river flow?
        – 5 meters of sea level rise taking out most coastal cities and all ports?
        – Methane/Permafrost feedback loops causing double digit (K) temperature rises?
        – EAIS disintegration causing 100m of sea level rise wiping out >95% of human habitation, agriculture and infrastructure?

      • Nullius in Verba

        “The publication process is supposed to be rigged. Not to quell dissent but to quell rubbish.”

        But climate scientists say:
        “If published as is, this paper could really do some damage. It is also an ugly paper to review because it is rather mathematical, with a lot of Box-Jenkins stuff in it. It won’t be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically […]”

        So, explain to me why anyone would want to dismiss a paper in which no error can be found, and what would allowing such a paper to be published do “damage” to? Science? Is this judgement based on the methods, or the conclusions of the paper?

        Also, what sort of scientist complains because a paper is too “mathematical”?!

      • Also, what sort of scientist complains because a paper is too “mathematical”?!

        That would be the scientist who has to take it seriously and wants to be honest about it. :-)

      • The publication process is supposed to be rigged. Not to quell dissent but to quell rubbish.

        And the dogma returns.

      • Ah, yes. Back to AGW skeptcis are creationists working for big oil and tobacco.
        Ideologues are perfectly willing, as you demonstrate, to use utter bs to avoid any uncomfortable issue.

    • Exactly blogs like which are repeatedly inaccurate yet curiously well cited by skeptics never have the threat of suffering any hit to their reputation if they make errors. It’s completely asymmetric.

      Climate skeptics grossly overdo attacks on climate scientists but wave their own side through a free pass. We get nonsense like the whole hoohaa over GISTEMP 2000 bug correction and that month (october 2008?) that was updated incorrectly and skeptics play that irrelevant stuff to the hills, getting it into media print with all the slurs.

      Compare the IPCC report to the NIPCC report. The latter is not criticized by skeptics and is in fact well often cited as being superior to the IPCC report, which only demonstrates a complete bias in their analysis of science. Skeptics never “audit” their own.

      And that’s why I know “AGW skepticism” isn’t some “honest movement to restore credibility in the science”. That’s the wolfs clothing.

      That’s not to say all skeptics of AGW are this way, but the loudest and largest part of it is extremely anti-science.

      • Really? Mmm… so, intentionally blocking publication of data that doesn’t fit your pre-determined objective is acceptable because it’s just considered designed to quell rubbish. Interesting perspective.

        Intentionally flaunting journals protocols for posting data and code by refusing to do so is your definition of good science. Great!

        Having the leader of the IPCC calling obvious errors in the AR4, “voodoo science”, instead of honestly dealing with the issues is good science AND good policy… that OK by you???

        Having pal reviewers uncritically review their own work for publication while excoriating those whose views are different are examples of good scientific practices? Seems like a good practice to advance scientific understanding, doesn’t it???

        Your responses provide a terrific example of the dogma of climate science.

        I would bet that, based on your responses so far that you actually haven’t read any of the emails… just read the discussions about the emails but only from the pro-CAGW camp, correct? Or, if you read some of the emails, you didn’t actually read the material from places like Climate Audit that provide the background and perspective to actually demonstrate what was done, correct?

        Seems like you are solely interested in preserving the dogmatic approach that got the climate science community into this mess.

        Suggestion: explore both sides of the issues. Read the actual publications that go counter to what you believe. Test YOUR understanding against the best available literature (and in this case, the best available blog postings) that runs counter to your present understanding. I bet you would be quite surprised by what you discover.


      • You actually know nothing of what you speak.

  60. ok, so as I read through this blog, this post and the comments, intrigued by all the buzz about Prof.Curry’s new blog and all that, it all seems very confused and confusing at first but here I realize that strong words such as ‘dogma’ and now ‘ideology’ seem simply to apply to the points that 1) global warming under a BAU scenario is dangerous 2) something should be done about it; 2) it inevitably involves cutting carbon emissions.
    I have two comments:
    – Mrs Curry is probably aware that the use of such words on her part is immediately going to be refered to by skeptics as characterizing the science (i.e., point “0”: under a BAU scenario, a global warming of a few degres is very likely going to occur), not whether or not a political answer to global warming is necessary and which one. Skeptics commonly refer to the science synthetized by the IPCC as “dogma”, from which “dissent” is not tolerated, throwing in words like “religion” and “priests” (well, you can’t dispute the greenhouse effect, true). So using such terms in the present context seems at least like a poor choice of words, if the aim is to clarify the “debate”.
    – point 1) (“dangerous”) is not politics, it’s also science – although more uncertain. Then, you’re free to make the case that nothing should be done to prevent global warming from happening, or that it can’t be done without cutting GES emissions – but I can’t see how you can make that case convincingly. You state “the problem comes in when you use politics to defend your science, and you use science to demand policies”: I don’t see climate scientists using policy to defend their science, and I don’t think science is demanding policy. AFAIK, the IPCC is not recommending any particular politicy (such as cap and trade, subsidies, or carbon tax), it’s listing the options. But you seem to consider the first-order need to reduce GES emissions as a “policy” resulting from an “ideology”. That seems wrong to me.

    • ICE, i know this seems confusing, it is. We have been grappling with this for two weeks now. Your assumption that there is a first order need to to reduce emissions implies . . . exactly what? This need does not follow from the science. Needs do not follow from science. This is the problem, we are trying to break through this particular logjam.

      • ok, I’m glad your point is clearer: what we know about climate science, about greenhouse gases and global warming does not necessarily imply that we have to cut greenhouse gases emissions. We may collectively not want to try and avoid dangerous climate change.
        I guess that may be true.
        But somehow the point seems a little artificial to me. And if the “ideology” is about advocating what’s in our best interest, i’m not sure I’d call that ideology – common sense, maybe.

      • ICE: The idea may sound OK, but it’s usually presented without all of the implications that result from implementation of that OK sounding idea… that’s one of the issues with good sounding ideas. Once you get into the details, then things start to get tricky.

        When people suggest decarbonizing economies, and replacing current energy sources with alternative, carbon neutral energy, that SOUNDS acceptable… until you actually walk through the full implications of doing so… not only on the US economy, but also on the desired goal: decreasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations. On both counts, the data is very clear that:

        1. Decarbonizing will be hugely, massively expensive…so hard, the numbers actually don’t even seem real. But, so hugely and massively expensive that vast, vast numbers of people WILL suffer as a result of implementation of these policies.

        2. It won’t make a bit of difference in global temperatures because other countries will continue to emit CO2 from carbon based fuels, at least for the foreseeable future.

        And, for what? What’s the benefit to implementing these proposals?? Avoiding a possible, but extraordinarily unlikely set of bad outcomes based on very poor understanding of the best available science?

        That does NOT sound like common sense to me.


      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        This is an irrational response to the issue.
        1) ‘Decarbonizing’, even if you don’t agree with evidence for man-made global warming and ocean acidification, is going to be part of humanity’s future any way you look at it due to peak oil. PLEASE take a look at THE EMPTY TANK by the geologist Leggett (who worked for big oil in the 80’s). Imagine right now, with millions unemployed, if oil prices shot up to the point where gas doubles in cost. Did you say suffering? Since we know crude oil is going to continue to increase as supplies dwindle, future generations (especially if we now have structural unemployment) are going to suffer for our failures to implement alternative energy policies NOW.

        2) The US is at the top of the list when it comes to GHG emissions and to argue that cutting emissions would have no impact is irresponsible. You simply have no idea what a doubling of atmospheric carbon levels is going to do temps in the future, but you want to risk it? You’re completely discounting what climatologists researching GW are telling us, and for years . This includes Curry’s favorite advocate, Schneider.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        “Your assumption that there is a first order need to reduce emissions implies…exactly what? This need does not follow from the science”
        ~J. Curry

        ‘THE’ science? Do you mean climate science? This sounds like a neutered policy position, but I could be wrong. Are you saying that there’s no scientific evidence that would support a the policy for C reduction?

        If anything what I’m getting from your responses here is that you don’t have the courage to become a scientist advocate, but you want the luxury of criticizing those who don’t ‘measure’ up (to Schneider, for what ever reason) as advocates.
        You’re wrong about this debate lasting forever; there will come a time when those within the minority of the climate science community will have no choice but to squarely stare down the planetary evidence for AGW. That evidence is mounting and that’s why the AGU is acting.
        And unlike evolutionary theory or plate tectonics ‘debates’ of the past, the stakes are much higher.

      • I don’t have the interest in advocating for any kind of policy. And I’ve seen what a mess that has been made by those scientists who have advocated for energy policy. Such a mess that many of those seriously interested in energy policy regard climate science and climate scientists as a liability. Well done, climate science advocates.

      • This statement is strong. I hardly doubt anyone involved in making an energy policy to deal with human emissions would regard climate science as a liability, unless they were not serious about reducing emissions or sequestering emissions. I think you may have confused climate scientists” advising decarbonization” with “political ideology”, when that is not the case. It is expert advice based on the best of our current knowledge. It is more likely that most of the scientists aren’t actually ideological, they are just realistic in that the only option we have at the moment, according to mainstream science, is to reduce emissions in order to avoid future problems associated with an unnatural energy balance from CO2 in the atmosphere and acidifying, warming oceans. There are no real ways to sequester or bio-engineer mitigation strategies, etc, right now. So the only ethical option is to inform the public on the what they know. Whether or not policy makers invest resources in coming up with ideas to meet possible goals is another step. IMO, this is a much more likely scenario than the one you keep discussing as a “feedback loops” and “ideologues” and”cadres” and such.

      • Sorry, international energy policy is above my pay grade. All I can do is try to protect the integrity of climate science so that policy makers have the best possible information to work from.

      • That’s a fine stance to take, but, I don’t think saying something like, “based on our current understanding, emissions should be reduced or sequestered due to the problems caused by extra energy in the atmosphere and oceans” (simple statement) is outside the purvey of scientists or groups of scientists. In fact, this is exactly what we should expect to hear from the people trusted with expertise in such important matters, IMHO. Especially since policy makers actually ask the questions.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        Those policy makers you want to supply the best science to? If they’re at the Federal level you can bet the international energy cartels are attempting to protect THEIR interests by countering your science– just as you want to protect the integrity of climate science. That’s why they’re pumping millions into disinformation campaigns (and why the AGU is hitting the pavement). Economic ideology trumps science. Perhaps this is the reason some of those scientist/advocates have become ‘political’ in your opinion: it’s a losing battle against the energy mafia, and the polls demonstrate this (and don’t we know those policy makers have bosses watching the polls… as they fight to get re-elected…with the influence of big oil).

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        Yes, I understand you don’t want to advocate; you want to criticize the advocates as a part-time calling. It’s safe. It’s easier to punch at their alleged control of the science research process than analyze the power structure that control our dinosaur energy companies over at Jurassic Research Park ( like the API).
        If I’ve learned anything about energy policy in this country it’s that the global energy cartels usually dictate policy. No wonder climate researchers are seen as a liability by that sector. But they sure are loving you!

      • It is hard to follow a conversation on an issue such as AGW. Heck, it’s hard to follow most any conversation these days. But, really, it pays off in the end, it enlightens us all, if we try and try hard to follow the intent and issue of each article. You’re arguing about matters not in the current discussion. Pretend you’re in a used car lot, we’re talking about a ’53 Chevy. Not that ’39 Ford over there.

      • That is disgraceful. You are blaming scientists for not being good politicians. They aren’t good politicians, but they honestly saw a real problem and believed they were obliged to do something about it. This is something that has happened many times in history,.

      • > Needs do not follow from science. This is the problem, we are trying to break through this particular logjam.

        It is true that needs do not follow from science, but I don’t see why this is a particular stumbling block.

        Everything as I understand it is adequately couched in terms of “to the extent that [scenario] is [desirable/undesirable], [action(s)] are likely necessary to [encourage/avoid/mitigate] it.”

        For example, if a scientific case is made that there are risks to human society presented by the imbalance of increasing human emissions, and we accept that those risks outweigh the benefits of preserving the status quo, then actions should be taken.

        Having been informed by the scientific scenarios it is entirely reasonable to conclude that the consequences are undesirable and should be avoided. The “if” is no longer an issue because a conclusion has already been reached – based on a scientific case – that the outcome of inaction is undesirable.

        It seems that what you are saying is that because people are calling for action they are overstepping what science advises because “needs do not follow from science”. But if these people have already gone through the extra step of deciding that future scenarios are undesirable (which may even have been done implicitly, if the consequences of inaction seem so obviously harmful that avoidaance is taken as a given), where is the issue?

        Perhaps that would satisfy the complaints about “advocacy” and “dogma” – if all statements were prefaced with a big “if”?

        As in: if we want to ensure as high a standard living as possible for the largest number of people on the planet, we should avoid destabilising the climate through increasing emissions”. It seems your big complaint is that the first clause is missing, no?

      • stay tuned for decision making under uncertainty, parts II and III (hopefully will get back to that next week). there is no “if” (science) that produces a “then” (policy). this is the socalled linear model that just doesn’t work, not just for political reasons but lacks robustness in case your assumptions/predictions turn out to be substantially wrong.

      • there is no “if” (science) that produces a “then” (policy). this is the socalled linear model that just doesn’t work, not just for political reasons but lacks robustness in case your assumptions/predictions turn out to be substantially wrong.

        Does this principle apply to scientific discipline or specifically to climate science?

      • Sorry, should be
        “Does this principle apply to any scientific discipline or specifically to climate science?”

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        Yes, there is a “if”(science) that produces a “then” (policy)…and it works.
        If SO2 produces acid rain then we must lower emissions to stop biotic destruction. If CFCs destroy ozone we must cease CFC releases. If asbestos causes lung cancer we must employ industrial hygiene rules.
        If your assumptions turn out to be wrong you’ve erred on the side of caution. Apparently when it comes to carbon emissions for a planet with a GH effect, we need to calculate uncertainty until our ears bleed.

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        Suppose that the science gives us 100% certainty, that we must act to avoid a looming catastrophe and that adaptation is not an option. It still does not necessarily follow from the science that our mitigation plan ought to be one with the highest potential for causing a global economic catastrophe.

        For some, such an outcome has long been a prized political goal, irrespective of climate considerations. And for others, it’s yet another reason to more clearly delineate and dissasociate the political from the scientific.

  61. Ideology is not such an evil as one could conclude from numerous comments here. Ideology sets the rules and limits of behaviour be it political or scientific. Majorities usually embrace ideology since no ‘thinking effort’ is required, it is a ‘ready meal’ supermarket. Ideology maintains cohesion of society capitalist, socialist, communist etc.
    However the’ thinking’ minority (here gross majority) finds it offensive to human intellect, but without due consideration for challenges that ideology presents to the intellect and its creativity. Human creativity is at its best and sharpest when it is forced to confront and challenge an ideology. I should know what I am talking about, I was born and educated in a society permeated and ruled by socialist (or if you whish communist) ideology, it was ever present in the educational curriculum all the way up to university degree, and I was actually good at the Marxism-Leninism, but that did not stop me to se both bad and good aspects of that particular ideology; not that I was invited or offered to give opinions on both aspects. It is human mind’s adaptability to accept or preach ideology regardless of one’s own private views. I am certain that hundreds possibly thousands of scientists are not entirely blind to the obvious deficiencies of the AGW hypothesis, but they willingly accept that ideology, despite contrary understanding. It is all down to human adaptability to accept comfortable and protective membership of the group implementing it. The strongest proponents and leaders of an ideology are usually the one who best understand its shortcomings, but they take biggest advantage and benefits of what it offers. Others just follow, perfectly natural behaviour as exercised by flock of birds or shoal of fish; Darwinism in action.
    So Professor Curry, I do not need to ask a question I never asked of my professor of Marxism !

    • Nothing wrong at all with ideology. The problem is with ideologues. And when ideology involves science, it can have a bad effect on the science.

    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      What are the ‘obvious deficiencies of the AGW theory’? Can you cite sources?In other words, if ‘thousands of scientists’ are not blind to the deficiencies, they should have numerous pubs you can cite.

      • Here is one but it requires a bit of ‘thinking’ rather than ignoring. Fastest ever rise (acceleration) in AG CO2 was in period 1950-1980, and what happen to the temperatures, they recorded biggest fall since LIA (and not only in Greenland but elsewhere).
        You might say ‘but Greenland ice cores show past was different’.
        Greenland ice core records are in need of reassessing:
        But a blind follower of ideology would say, those are not peer reviewed papers.
        As a once involuntary student of Marxism I can assure you ‘Das Kapital’ was ‘peer reviewed’ and revered by thousands of scientists followers of the ideology, and they apparently never found anything wrong. Peer review requirement is as sure sign as you can get of an imposed ideology. So if you see something obvious as:
        abandon the ‘heard think’ and question ?
        But as everyone is entitled to a view and an opinion, right or wrong, so I am perfectly happy to be dismissed as wrong.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        No, a true ideologist would say, ‘don’t worry about these citations even though they’re not peer reviewed’. YOU don’t get to set the rules of science research. THAT’S ideology.
        Did Marx ever cite himself?

  62. Judith,

    Smiles and thinks of the next . . . .


  63. It is fine for people (and scientists) have political ideologies. The problem comes in when you use politics to defend your science, and you use science to demand policies.


    Thank you for saying that. I’ve been trying to come up with the words to express why I find the ‘warmist’ positions so repugnant. You summed it up nicely.

    By urging (demanding?) political action, you invite a political response, and that’s at least partly what’s going on right now.

    • Oops, I meant to say some ‘warmist’.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        There is nothing wrong in ‘using science to demand policies’. Skeptics have to interpret the science too, and they do. And if THEY get it wrong by demanding inaction, they are automatically engaging in politics too. The sword has two edges, no?

  64. If we’re looking for a plan to move forward then I have a suggestion.
    We do nothing until Judith has made up her mind ;)

    • It may be true that, having just returned from a choir rehearsal, after which I and a couple of my fellow basses paid our respects to Bacchus with the assistant conductor, I am rather drunk, but this is VERY funny.

      Judith, I just read Matt Ridley’s excellent riposte (actually about the best I have read. And I’ve read my share.)

      – to the “long and courteous letter from David MacKay” that he received in response to an account he wrote for The Times of his climate science apostasy. He takes the opportunity to describe clearly aspects of climate science he used to believe, and explains why he no longer does. Your blog would be enhanced immeasurably if you followed his example.

  65. Judith,

    It may be impossible to find a word that doesn’t offend one side or the other. If that’s the case, perhaps it might be more helpful to ask all sides to agree to this simple rule:

    No A**holes
    (self-censoring, to avoid possible spam filters)

  66. Snide wrote [re appeal to authority]:

    The scientific method is one of a long history of ‘appealing to authority’. It is the publishing process that creates authority. A paper in a high impact journal has authority. It means that the journal has high standards and can be trusted to ensure the paper has been critically reviewed to it’s high standards. It can still be wrong, it can be countered by other papers, but it has authority, and rightly so.

    I take it you are speaking of the “authority” bestowed by “peer review” (a crutch which Pachauri was wont to wave like a crucifix before vampires, although he has been known to change his tune … 3 times in less than 6 months).

    But there are some problems with “peer review”. Richard Horton, Editor of The Lancet, wrote the following in “Appendix 5: Peer Review” of the Muir Russell Review (all emphases mine -hro):

    [p. 131]:
    “Everyone – scientists, the public, policymakers, politicians – would like to believe that peer review is a firewall between truth and error (or dishonesty) (15). But as the editor of one leading specialist medical journal has rightly pointed out, ―There is no question that, when it comes to peer review, the reviewers themselves are the weakest (or strongest) links”

    [p. 132]:
    Unfortunately, there is evidence of a lack of evidence for peer review‘s efficacy

    [p. 139]:
    “The best one might hope for the future of peer review is to be able to foster an environment of continuous critique of research papers before and after publication. […]

    “This process of weeding out weak research from the scientific literature can be accelerated through more formal mechanisms, such as the systematic review. A systematic approach to selecting evidence focuses on the quality of scientific methods rather than the reputations of scientists and their institutions. This more rigorous approach to gathering, appraising, and summing up the totality of available evidence has been profoundly valuable to clinical medicine. There may be useful lessons here for the IPCC. Climate sceptics and climate scientists, along with their colleagues in other scientific disciplines, would likely welcome this greater rigour and scrutiny. It would certainly promote quality and strengthen accountability to a more critical public (and media) with higher expectations of science. More importantly, intensified post as well as pre publication review would put uncertainty – its extent and boundaries – at the centre of the peer review and publication process. This new emphasis on uncertainty would limit the rhetorical power of the scientific paper (53), and offer an opportunity to make continuous but constructive public criticism of research a new norm of science.

    Horton also wrote in the U.K. Guardian, pursuant to the release of Muir Russell’s report:

    “[S]cientists need to take peer review off its pedestal. As an editor, I know that rigorous peer review is indispensable. But I also know that it is widely misunderstood.
    “We need a more realistic understanding about what peer review can do and what it can’t. If we treat peer review as a sacred academic cow, we will continue to let the public down again and again.

    “Peer review is not the absolute or final arbiter of scientific quality. It does not test the validity of a piece of research. It does not guarantee truth.

  67. From reading this thread it appears there is still some use in my taxonomy of the AGW community.:
    – Promoters- opinion leaders who either write the papers or communicate the ideas of global climate disruption caused by CO2. Call it a CO2 obsession. This includes those who seek to turn the policy demands based on their interpretation of these claims into actions in society.
    -Believers- those who find fulfillment in placing themselves on the ‘right side’ of this belief system.
    True believers- ideologues who find it unacceptable that people doubt this global climate disruption and believe that doing so is not possible for those of good faith or morals or adequate intelligence. Those who claim to doubt the global climate disruption are cynical liars or stupid or both.
    Mixed in this are people who carry more than one role. Add to it the profiteers- those who have figured out how to make money off of this by getting government policy or willing donors to send in money to either offer a cure- think of windmill power subsidies or the WWF or Greenpeace.
    They have received billions but literally do nothing about the alleged problem. The issue of the conflict within big science is discussed by our hostess, and demonstrated by the true believers here better than I can ope to do.
    Whether one uses religiously tinted language or more secular, the end result is the same: A self correcting belief group resistant to counter data that frequently openly acknowledges the end is worth the means in the name of a CO2 obsession.

  68. …”Are we getting closer her to clarifying this? I think so (hope so).”


  69. Dogma or ideology?
    I would go with ideology.
    Dogma implies conviction of a big truth, but CAGW is much more opportunistic than that. There are all sorts of reasons to jump aboard, and none of the reasons are linked to the science. There is career, fame, attention, money, politics, etc – just like in any field of human endevour.

    It is an ideology comparable to any other political movement, it is a certain view of the world, shared by many, but for many different reasons.

  70. UnRegenerate

    Comment from WUWT:
    The Total Idiot says on January 8, 2011 at 8:37 am
    Far too oft[en], the political and emotional values of individuals outweigh s the data, and allows many people to alter the data to fit the theory, rather than altering the theory to fit the data.
    [S]cience is the pursuit of the truth

  71. UnRegenerate

    For ‘theory’, try substituting ‘ideology’.

  72. So based on Curry’s definition, it appears her own writings on this blog are almost entirely free of scientific content, and are almost entirely political, and intended to further her own anti-mitigation ideology.

    It may not tell us much about the science of global warming or the nature of the consensus about it — it’s too fallacy-ridden and ill-reasoned for that — but as a confession of her own approach and practices, it certainly has value.

  73. Says the Capt. of the S.S. Idiomonolog. Thank you for your ‘time’, Robert

  74. My spouse and i don’t comprehend what to declare with each other with the exception that i have appreciated studying your web website.

  75. Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell
    and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to
    go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!