Engaging the public on the climate change issue

by Judith Curry

The anniversary of Climategate has engendered much reflection on the climate change issue, specifically with regard to communicating and engaging with the public.

The CRU emails revealed a mode of communicating climate science, whereby consensus and peer review  and  the media were used in an attempt to stifle what they viewed as misinformation being purveyed by merchants of doubt.

In the movie “An Inconvenient Truth,” Al Gore used Naomi Oreskes’ results concerning the number of pro-AGW papers vs skeptical papers published in Nature and Science to sweep aside climate change skepticism.  This sent a message not recognize any sort of “debate” about global warming, which was evidenced by mainstream climate scientists and other advocates refusing to debate skeptics.

After the release of the CRU emails, these strategies resulted in what Fred Pearce has referred to as the “anatomy of a public relations disaster.”

So what has the recent response been of climate scientists that are concerned about the dangerous impacts of anthropogenic global warming?

A group of scientists has formed the “climate rapid response team”  which is described  by the Guardian article:

The website by the new rapid response team of climate scientists promises to connect reporters and editors with a team of experts. In the build-up to today’s launch the three scientists behind the project – John Abraham, Scott Mandia, and Ray Weymann – have come off almost as climate science super heroes, which in a sense they are.

In the 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. We are taking the fight to them because we are … tired of taking the hits. The notion that truth will prevail is not working. The truth has been out there for the past two decades, and nothing has changed.

Here’s Mandia’s explanation for his activism (via dotearth):

The science of climate change and even the scientists themselves are under attack from a well-orchestrated and well-oiled misinformation campaign.  The best defense against this anti-science offensive is to make sure that the correct message reaches a wide audience.  Chris Mooney & Sheril Kirshenbaum in their book Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens our Future explain that scientists have failed to get their message across for a variety of reasons but mostly because we are not engaging the public on their turf.  After reading that book, I became a climate change evangelist with my Global Warming: Man or Myth? Website, this blog, and more recently a Facebook Fan Group called Global Warming Fact of the Day.  I have two small children and I do not like the future that I see for them or for their children in a human-driven warmer world.

Whereas the willingness of the rapid response team to engage with skeptics is a big step up from the previous strategies, is this really going to make any kind of difference?  Is this kind of activism going to backfire?

In recent weeks, I have encountered  very interesting analyses from Matt Nesbitt and Bill Hooke of the overall issue of communication and engagement on the subject of climate change.

Matt Nisbet’s perspective

From Matt Nisbet’s essay on “Climate scientists at crossroads: muddling the difference between public engagement and deficit-model activism”

Using language that echoes popular blogs and books, and that offers a deficit-model view of science policy and public understanding, the small group of rapid-response scientists appears to view the climate change issue via the prism of a partisan-fueled “war,” one that pits science versus “anti-science.”  The antidote is to get the “correct scientific message” across to the public.

Individual climate scientists have a right as citizens to engage in partisan activism, and some have argued that they even have a moral duty to be advocates. . . Yet scientists should also be effective advocates, avoiding strategies that are only likely to sow further polarization and discord. As I wrote at Slate magazine earlier this year, climate scientists are likely to be more effective as community-based diplomats than MSNBC-style culture warriors.

In contrast to individuals serving as advocates, national science organizations, universities, and other expert institutions have a duty instead to avoid partisan advocacy and to sponsor efforts at civic education and public engagement. These efforts should seek to not only improve technical understanding of climate science, but also understanding of the social, political, and ethical dimensions of the issue. These efforts are not designed to argue in favor of any one policy or political party, but should rather provide the motivation and opportunities for citizens to connect, plan, learn, and voice their preferences on climate change.

The difference between deficit-model activism and public engagement, unfortunately, is too often confused by how science communication is discussed at popular blogs, books, in talks, in reports, and in commentary articles.

Nisbet also writes about “The need for diplomacy in the climate wars”

As Congress continues to struggle its way toward new energy legislation, climate scientists are getting a little hot.  . .  This time, members of the prestigious National Academies complained to one another about the “neo-McCarthyism” of the climate skeptics and lamented that “science is getting creamed with no effective response.” One researcher called for “a relentless rain of science and scientific dialog on the incredible, destructive demagoguery.” Another participant urged an “aggressively partisan approach.”

But urgent calls to escalate the war against climate skeptics may lead scientists and their organizations into a dangerous trap, fueling further political disagreement while risking public trust in science. A major transformation is needed in how scientists and their organizations engage the public and policymakers. The new direction is not to become more political and confrontational on the national stage, but to seek opportunities for greater public interaction, dialogue, and partnerships in communities across the country.

And finally, excerpts from Nisbet’s essay on “Eye on 2012: A Post-Partisan Plan to Engage the Public on Climate Change”

On one side, there will be loud challenges to climate science from Tea Party-backed Congressional members and familiar conservative voices such as James Inhofe.  On the other side, there will be renewed claims of a war on science, a circling of the wagons among greens and liberals, and name calling strategies such as labeling conservatives “deniers.” The claims from both sides will be repeated and amplified at cable news, in the narratives told by many political journalists, and across the blogosphere.

The result will be further disengagement and inattention from the 2/3 of Americans who fall in between the tail-end segments of climate alarmists and climate dismissives. The likely hyper-partisan rhetoric also threatens to obscure the need for substantive discussion and re-evaluation of policy solutions to climate change, solutions that can gain support from both parties and that offer clear benefits to Americans. Overlooked will also be the need to focus on regionally tailored actions related to mitigation, adaptation, and sustainable economic growth.

As an antidote to this new era of hyper-partisanship on climate change, a coalition of expert organizations needs to step forward to promote serious discussion of policy alternatives and to provide the civic education opportunities that enable a diversity of Americans to learn, plan, connect, and voice their preferences on climate and energy policy.

The goal should not be to defend the science of climate change or to boost climate literacy, since science is not what is at issue in the policy debate, and science is not what shapes public judgment or preferences.  Nor should the goal be to lobby for a particular set of policies or align with partisans on the issue.

Instead, the goals should be to promote relevant areas of knowledge beyond just technical understanding of climate science that include understanding of the social, institutional, ethical, and economic dimensions of the debate along with familiarity with the costs and benefits of a range of policy proposals.  To achieve these outcomes, civic education investments necessitate promoting affective outcomes such as increased feelings of trust and efficacy; creating a new communication infrastructure and participatory culture; and recruiting citizens who can help their peers learn, connect, and plan.

Civic education and communication should be viewed as a two-way process where elected officials and the sponsoring expert organizations learn about and respond to public preferences, needs, insights, and ideas relative to climate change solutions and policy options.  This is especially important for elected officials.  Part of the challenge in creating the incentives for policymakers to take action on climate change and to address the issue in a serious way is to accurately communicate about the nature of public opinion.

Bill Hooke’s perspective

Excerpts from Bill Hooke’s essay on “Getting out the science message”

However, when scientists attempt to engage a larger public to share their mounting concern, they frequently see the broader announcements of their findings either truncated, or squelched, or lost in the shuffle, or manipulated, distorted, and exploited for political gain or financial self-interest by elected officials, private sector groups and NGO’s.

This is vexing. In response, scientists are tempted to try to (a) amp up the volume, (b) exert greater control over the framing and content of the message, (c) prescribe a policy, and (d) complain about their treatment.

It’s not clear that this is at all effective.

Amp up the volume? Making the case more loudly, more stridently, more emphatically – will work for you, if at all, only if you happen to be the one who has the biggest megaphone. . . Scientists should know that someone will always be able to outshout them short term, and probably long-term. Why put ourselves and our arguments at the mercy of those with superior numbers, more money, and greater power?

Exert greater control over the framing and content of the message? . . . Worse yet, rightly or wrongly, our society has decided that any attempt to coordinate a message is a sign that something reprehensible is afoot. If scientists are meeting to coordinate a message, it can only mean that we’re trying to distort the truth for some nefarious end. The public has built up antibodies to this approach, from whatever quarter. It will do us no good to swear that our motives are pure.

Prescribe a policy? Who put us in charge? This is off-putting for virtually every hearer. . . Particularly when, truth be told, however good we are at our science, we’re rather naive when it comes to seeing the unanticipated consequences of policy formulation.

Complain about our treatment? Treatment of scientists by the media has at times, maybe even more often than not, been patently unfair. . . But by and large, pollsters find that scientists still enjoy a high public regard relative to other professions. Scientists are still well-paid. And so on. Usually people who are among the world’s favored few do not receive a warm reception when they complain.

Whew!  Pretty depressing. Well, if these strategies are truly counterproductive, perhaps it would be worthwhile to contemplate their exact opposites. Remarkably, these look like they might be more effective.

Lower the volume. We’ve all seen this work at a personal level. In the middle of a shouting match someone will start speaking very quietly, and bring a hush over the crowd. Why does this work? Well, it doesn’t, at least not always. But it does work when the speaker has something to say that’s generally acknowledged to be especially pertinent, and/or the speaker enjoys a special reputation within the group. Scientists hold both these trump cards. We have a high reputation, and at least some of our number have some very important things to say. Nobody wants to miss them.

Leave any framing and content of the message to others. . . [W]hat I am suggesting is that we throttle back any desire to convince others of the truth of what we’re saying, or the facts of our findings, or manipulate our readers or hearers into taking actions we feel necessary. Instead, we should focus first and foremost on doing a good job of disciplining our own thought process; and then secondarily on expressing what we’ve learned with clarity, and distinguishing (following Darwin) very precisely between “facts” and “views.” We should emphasize listening over speaking. We should seek to understand before seeking to be understood. If we maintain this focus, then over time (and really relatively quickly) people will start listening to us.

Hold up all the policy options to consideration. . . [T]hose who are skilled at coming up with not one but several options, and who are able to envision the consequences furthest into the future, are held in the highest regard. . .  Those who can think more flexibly, nimbly, adaptively – those who can think more – are those who are and will be valued most.

JC’s comment: There is much that individual climate scientists and the climate establishment can learn from what Nisbet and Hooke have to say.

585 responses to “Engaging the public on the climate change issue

  1. So, in short, the message to climate scientists is “shut up”. This is just a continuation of the delay, delay, delay tactic that has been so successful to date.

    If we maintain this focus, then over time (and really relatively quickly) people will start listening to us.

    There’s not evidence for this. Maintaining the focus has created the impression of ivory tower academics who refuse to engage.

    • We are seeing plenty of academics posting here. Most of the are defensive, circular in their reasoning and arrogant, unfortunately.
      I would suggest that Mann, Hansen, Schmidt and many others have in fact engaged vigorously and have only underscored the impression that they are not really as connected to the issue as they claim.

    • There’s no “shut up” in Hooke’s or Nisbet’s piece. There is, however, a very commonsense caution (particularly in Hooke’s): people realize when they’re being “handled”. They recognize spin and they tend to react negatively to it, particularly if their interests/biases prejudice them against the message. The factual approach may be slow, but it is the only one that will work.

    • So, in short, the message to climate scientists is “shut up”. This is just a continuation of the delay, delay, delay tactic that has been so successful to date.

      Panang: Well, to those of us on the other side of the aisle, it has been “hurry, hurry up, hurry up, the time for discussion is over” for years now.

      What do you think should be happening and how do you propose handling those of us who disagree?

  2. There is much that individual climate scientists and the climate establishment can learn from what Nesbitt and Hooke have to say.

    like how to spell Nisbet? ;)

  3. ” Is this kind of activism going to backfire?”

    The kind of ‘activism’ I see in the initiative of a climate science rapid response team is to improve the communication of scientific understanding via the media to the public. A laudable goal to ‘actively’ work towards I think, though I have a feeling you mean something else by ‘activism’?

    In the words of the CSRRT itself:
    “We are advocates for science education.”

    (http://profmandia.wordpress.com/2010/11/22/official-launch-of-the-climate-science-rapid-response-team/ )

    Now of course “skeptics” are going to claim that this is an effort at mass indoctrination and an attempt to force their dogma/ideology/hoax/communist world government onto society. Such is the polarized nature of the debate nowadays. Whether it will backfire crucially depends on whether the public and the media develop an ability to distinguish scientifically sound information from misleading statements.

    • I see in the initiative of a climate science rapid response team is to improve the communication of scientific understanding via the media to the public.

      No it’s not. It’s going to be an attempt to squash any criticisms/questioning of their “science”. Judith talked before about this being a war between the skeptics and the climate scientists. We skepitcs didn’t start this war, the climate scientists did when they got their backs up against the wall with the questions and challenges. We just wanted to get answers, do normal science and be skeptical of the AGW claims. They started this war, and this “rapid response team” is nothing more than their own “deltaforce” to fight this war.

      This war will not be over until the evidence is clear, and we will never get clear evidence as long as the Generals of the AGW faction are the gatekeepers.

      • You’re too funny!

      • That would make you like someone laughing at the serious part of the movie when normal people think it is not funny.

      • but correct. But then I wouldn’t expect a “scientist” who deems the consensus view at any particular time to be the “new null hypothesis”, as you have argued here in the past, to understand.

        Bart, you stand as the very epitome of a field which bears much the same resemblance to true science as Disneyland does to the real world. You are the living embodiment of all that is wrong with climate science – condescending, arrogant, bereft of logical grasp, and plain wrong.

        Every single time you post you display your field at its very best. But there’s a height restriction on those rides, Bart. Sooner or later, you will have to grow up and learn the sort of science the grownups have been practising while you and your mates were off on your little ride. The sooner you “button it”, find a good book on The Scientific Method and try and read it, the better.

        Then come back and condescend to jrwakefield (and me, too) to your heart’s content. Until then, every single thing you write deepens the hole you are digging.

      • Ouch. That is going to leave a mark.

      • Someone had to.

    • Scott Mandia’s statements that i cited clearly smack of activism, and of something much more than improving scientific understanding.

      “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. We are taking the fight to them because we are … tired of taking the hits. The notion that truth will prevail is not working. The truth has been out there for the past two decades, and nothing has changed.”

      “After reading that book, I became a climate change evangelist with my Global Warming: Man or Myth? Website, this blog, and more recently a Facebook Fan Group called Global Warming Fact of the Day. I have two small children and I do not like the future that I see for them or for their children in a human-driven warmer world.”

      • “This group feels strongly that science and politics can’t be divorced…”

        I’m sure that Scott Mandia sees this as his raison d’etre for his group throwing themselves into the political battle. I would think, however, that he is missing an important point: if they cannot be divorced, so justifying scientists attempting to influence the political debate, then there would be no reason for the politicians to not influence the science, most likely through funding. I can think of no worse outcome for science in general – Lysenko comes to mind. Hopefully most scientists follow some different path of reasoning…

      • Judith

        In defence of Scott Mandia, I have corresponded personally with him as well as in the blogosphere and invariably find him courteous and well informed. However we agree to disagree about the ‘facts’ as we each see them.

        I certainly would not have described him as any sort of activist as I tend to think that epithet applies to those ill informed zealots we see roaming the streets trying to get us to sign up to some sort of petition or other to wreck western economies by cutting carbon to unrealistic (at present) levels


      • I read a lot of news articles and wow, the world is so freaky.

        And then once in a while I am a participant or witness to some event and see how it is reported. And then I wonder if any news article is every close to touching on reality.

        So I am prepared to believe that Mandia would be appalled at how he’s been quoted, however, given how he’s been quoted, if that is at all accurate, than sheesh, I see no reason for him to act that way and for politicians not to start investigating research and budgets and everything else that politicians legitimately fund and investigate.

    • I think Hooke is onto something here – there is a real danger (in terms of the success of the strategy) in any obviously organized effort to shape the message, no matter what the intent. The response team can say whatever it wants about its goals, but there is only so much control they will have over how their efforts are perceived. Now granted, many of those who will see this as a nefarious activist agenda would never have listened to them in the first place, but there is definitely a risk of alienating some of those in the middle – especially since I think journalists will continue to seek other views for balance or context.

    • Bart says:
      The kind of ‘activism’ I see in the initiative of a climate science rapid response team is to improve the communication of scientific understanding via the media to the public.

      … and you somehow think that the “don’t look at the man behind the curtain” approach is going to work in traditional media after failing utterly in the internet media ? If anything, I think this approach will fail even more spectacularly when you have fewer means to derail questions that are inconvenient to answer.

    • The science of climate change and even the scientists themselves are under attack from a well-orchestrated and well-oiled misinformation campaign. The best defense against this anti-science offensive is to make sure that the correct message reaches a wide audience.

      — Prof. Mandia

      Bart V: I have little confidence in any scientist or group of scientists who imagines that they are up against “a well-orchestrated and well-oiled misinformation campaign” when said campaign is actually composed of a hodgepodge of retirees, bloggers, commenters, and maverick scientists, and depends to no small degree on top climate scientists behaving like a combination of Orwell’s Ministry of Truth and the Keystone Kops.

      If climate scientists are so blind to social and political reality, I must say I wonder how far their biases extend into their science.

  4. “Treatment of scientists by the media has at times, maybe even more often than not, been patently unfair. . . But by and large, pollsters find that scientists still enjoy a high public regard relative to other professions. Scientists are still well-paid. And so on. Usually people who are among the world’s favored few do not receive a warm reception when they complain.”

    Do you plan to act on this criticism yourself Dr Curry? You’ve complained quite a bit about the Scientific American article about you and used it to justify your “dogma” rhetoric in relation to the IPCC. Will this now come to an end?

    • I haven’t complained about the Scientific American article or my treatment by the media (well, not since 2005/2006, i complained plenty then). I’ve certainly received more “air time” by the media than I rationally deserve, and there have been no misquotes in the past year. I responded to the Scientific American article, the authors justification for writing it, the silly survey, and the extensive blogospheric discussion about the article. And I like the photograph :)

  5. I am sorry. This is not the science I learned all those many years ago at Cavendish Labs. Cambridge. Shame on all those who have brought science to such a low level. One can be an advocate; or one can be an analyst. One cannot be both at the same time. Whoever brought advocacy into any discussion of science deserves the utmost censure.

    • Does this include Clair Patterson?

      • I would say yes it does include Dr Patterson. He would have made a much greater impact in a much shorter time if he had not crossed the line into policy activism.

        Science informs policy it does not determine policy which also involves values. A scientist can say if X then Y, but has no more credibility than many others to say Y is unacceptable.

      • Thanks for your reply, Arthur. My opinion on the matter differs from yours, based on the powerful opposition he faced from the Ethyl Corporation.

    • Amen, Jim! Objectivity is always diminished by advocacy.

  6. Anyone who makes the claim, “We’re always right” — explicitly or implicitly — had better be sure that they and their allies are always right, or close to it.

    This is difficult, for most of us, most of the time, lay people and scientists alike.

    This stance practically invites the dilemma posed by a well-informed doubter: “When I look at case X, it appears that your allies are in error. What’s your stance?”

    Under normal circumstances, a scientist can say, “Yeah, it does look like they (we) made a mistake; they (we) should correct it. But let’s not lose sight of the overall picture.”

    But having laid claim to “We’re always right,” the temptation is to defend, lest the urgency of the overall message be diluted or compromised.

    The claim of Science isn’t that its practitioners are “always right” (or nearly so). It is that the scientific method includes strong protocols for error-detection and error-correction. This is one of the factors that drives “consensus” perspectives towards closer approximations to physical reality, over time.

    Focusing on defending rather than correcting (where warranted) is a sign that error-correction isn’t working well.

    In my opinion, it is this issue that has done the most damage to climate science — irrespective of whether Oreskes’ “Merchants of Doubt” narrative accounts for 20% or 80% of the skepticism towards the pro-AGW Consensus.

    The “At war with Knaves and Fools” stance hasn’t served the science of climatology, or public perception of climatology, or public policy.

    The writeups of the new “rapid response team” give no sign that pro-AGW Consensus climatologists have given much thought to this issue. This team seems to ignore voices like Nesbitt and Hooke. Results are likely to follow the script.

    • The huge risk they’re advocating taking is that the underlying “science” they believe in will hold up. With the chokehold that’s been applied to research, funding, and reporting etc. to date, that’s a very dubious proposition.

      My own opinion, and I’m sure it’s shared by most skeptics and fellow Deniers like Lindzen, is that the science case doesn’t hold up. So the “softly softly” approach recommended above is actually ultra-dangerous for the alarmists and AGW / AGCC /AGCD proponents.

      Bring it on!

  7. Unfortunately most of these quotes, if not all, seem to be based on the idea that there is a climate change problem requiring action. But whether there even is such a problem is what the debate is about, so everything said comes off as partisan. If engaging the public means getting around the skeptics good luck with that. If it means something else it is not clear what. The issue is politically dead for now so everyone should look at how second tier issues are handled.

    • I read them as saying that there is a risk that needs to be considered. Consider the risk and do nothing is an option (the one that seems currently in play in the U.S. anyways). Policy options for energy and reducing vulnerability to extreme weather events should arguably still be on the table whether or not AGW remains as a political issue. Engaging the public means securing the common interest through understanding the risks and the vulnerabilities. The issue of “getting around the skeptics” is explicitly what Nisbet says we shouldn’t waste our time on.

      • The prudent position to take here is one where everything is a win, and “reducing vulnerability” isn’t on that list.

        Without even THINKING about CO2 —

        1. If we replace coal plants with nukes, we create a lot of jobs and we have a lot of relatively inexpensive energy. Energy creates wealth. Coal can be used for a lot of things. Burning it unless you have to isn’t sane. Ditto with oil to a degree; it’s to valuable to simply burn. We don’t have electric (or other alternate tech) vehicles than can take a family from Iowa to Disney World nonstop, so gas power is fine for the time being. One day though, perhaps 10 years, 30, whatever, this problem will be solved, and it will be solved by people who will make a boatload of money doing it. It’s not as if there isn’t motivation, and the government needn’t be involved.

        2. If we embark on a process to solve the engineering issues underlying Spaceborne Solar Power within 15-30 years, one thing we will achieve is cheap access to space, which will open up yet another amazing US dominated high tech job market. This will make silicon valley’s already well known contributions seem second rate in comparison.


        Essentially, solving the longer term energy problem — i.e. let’s quit relying on buying fossil fuels from places that don’t like us and extort money — also solves any CO2 emission problem (if it exists) by default, meaning that climate change is a secondary beneficiary and not a primary reason to do any of these things.

        In short: solve energy, and climate change — if it’s a problem — gets solved for free. I see no reason to attempt solve an issue that >50% of the public doesn’t see as a problem. It’s not productive. Solving that which the public agrees is a problem IS productive.

      • In short: solve energy, and climate change — if it’s a problem — gets solved for free.

        G.L. Alston: Yes! This is ultimately why I don’t take the alarums about climate change all that seriously. If it’s too late, as James Lovelock says, it’s too late. If it’s not, the real solution is to move to nuclear and solar.

        Draconian measures to force nations and people into carbon abstinence is going to waste much time and is unlikely to work.

      • Regarding extreme events, I worked my way through grad school in philosophy as an engineer in the US flood control program. NEPA nearly shut us down in 1968 when we were declared “public enemy number one” by justice Douglas. But the US still has a large, multi-agency program to deal with extreme weather events. It is not clear that anything new is needed, but you alluded to it in your recent congressional testimony. What do you have in mind?

        As for energy, policy options that are not based on climate issues are not related to climate issues, so how are they relevant here?

      • Regarding Nisbet and getting around skeptics, his closing line is “Part of the challenge in creating the incentives for policymakers to take action on climate change and to address the issue in a serious way is to accurately communicate about the nature of public opinion.”

        If he thinks the challenge is “for policymakers to take action on climate change” then he is indeed talking about getting around the skeptics. That is unless his “taking action” includes deciding that no action is needed, beyond research that is.

      • Prezakly. However hard the cAGW alarmists try to talk objectively, their fundamental assumption and demand is that inevitable catastrophic climate warming/change/disruption is on the books unless the Powers That Be take a hand and Fix Things.


    • Unfortunately most of these quotes, if not all, seem to be based on the idea that there is a climate change problem requiring action.

      And worse, the other underlying theme is the common complaint of the right wing about the left’s mantra — “if only you were educated then you would agree with me.” Generally speaking the left presumes we’re all equal and the great divider is education, whereas the right presumes we’re equal only to the extent of legal protection and we choose to believe or not (the notion of equality as viewed by the left and right isn’t always the same thing.) The left’s approach of course implies ignorance (willful or otherwise) and stupidity on the part of those “requiring” education, and superiority on the part of those who presume to educate by definition. Moreover, it also presumes the existence of ONE possible answer, which conveniently is the one they assume it is. Certainly this is the entire raison d’etre of the climate rapid response team advocacy group, and the predictable result will be a resounding “F*** You” from the American public, and rightfully so. “We’re smarter than you, and we will educate you.” Oh?

      The “if only you were educated then you would agree with me” theme is and has been repeated countless times, and it NEVER works: it’s inconceivable to the arguer that the erstwhile subject in need of said education knows the subject and has reached a different conclusion. It’s inconceivable that there could be more than one correct answer or that the answer du jour isn’t correct.

      Overall the rapid response team is precisely what climate science does NOT need. The public is bombarded daily with “science” (usually medical or nutritional) that is utter rubbish, and this is compounded by scares of varying hobgoblins (lipid theory, mad cow disease, bird flu, etc.) Vapid journalists exacerbate the problem by breathlessly reporting on impending doom (AGW will bring malaria northward. Run for the hills.) See numberwatch.co.uk for a list.

      If only we were educated, we’d all realise the importance of the hobgoblin du jour!

      And this natural tendency of the public to resist pronouncements from on high is of course is compounded by a lack of openness. Dr Mann says “here’s a graph… as you can see we’re doomed.” The public, whether McIntyre or otherwise, says OK, show the work. Let’s see how you arrive at this. “No.” Dr Mann is then surprised that the public reckons he’s lying, fudging data, or otherwise being disingenuous. Wow, it must be the vast denial machine funded by evil energy corporations and flogged by idiotic politicians (Inhofe) for their own gain. Ummm…. NO.

      The proper course is ridiculously simple:

      1. Here’s what we think, which doesn’t include greenpeace advocacy masquerading as science, which doesn’t include opinion masquerading as fact, which doesn’t include pictures of polar bears. NO ADVOCACY*.
      2. Here’s every study, here’s how it was done.
      3. Here’s every bit of data and source code.
      4. Here’s the downside (alternate views) and here’s what the downside has right.
      5. As per Dr Curry here’s the uncertainty which spells out what we DO NOT know.

      *ADVOCACY is always subject to Newton’s Third Law, therefore counterproductive by definition.

      Do this, and the denier camp has no valid argument. The skeptical camp, meanwhile, isn’t going to assume it’s being talked down to. Win-win.

      I apologise for the long-windedness.

      • Nice rant.

        Can I urge you to read Kesten Green’s structured analysis of (I paraphrase) Big Scary Predictions That Have Yet To Come True?


        He studies unfulfilled scares like Eugenics, Y2K BSE and DDT (since shown to be far less toxic than claimed, and certainly not such as to justify the immense loss of African life that its withdrawal – effectively forced, by Al Gore among others – entailed). He even includes a delightfully quaint and long-forgotten mid 19th century panic that the world was running out of shipping timbers. All were perverse extensions of uncontroversial, or “settled” science. All turn out, on examination, to rest on one breach or another of scientific Method. All were attended by strident appeals to the Precautionary Principle. More importantly for any scientist with ambitions to influence public policy, Green systematically charts the results of legislative efforts to forfend the calamity “du jour”. It’s not encouraging. The result tends to be that worthless and costly legislation festers on the statute books, because although nobody believes the scare any more, indeed it has been largely forgotten, yet so many bought the scare during its currency that too many faces would have egg on them for repeal to be mooted. This, I’m afraid, is why so many of us want to see Jones et al pilloried – it’s not mere schadenfreude, but also the sense that if the rod is spared the child will be spoiled. Think of the children….!

  8. I don’t think this is going to end in a pretty fashion. It seems to me that they are simply attempting to do in pre-internet media what RealClimate and other such voices did within the internet, and I claim they are going to have exactly the same effect on the general population (only more slowly due to the nature of that media).

    Since the roots of my skepticism were given form by RealClimate how can this possibly be a good thing for them ? The clue that they seem to be utterly missing is that you have to answer the questions actually ask. Petulantly stomping one’s foot and telling someone that they shouldn’t be asking (or even thinking) a specific question is a recipe for failure. Putting new faces out their with exactly the same strategy will yield the same results.

  9. The problem is the myopic focus on just CO2 and GHG concentrations as the total answer to the understanding of weather and climate forecasting.

    Until the rest of natural climate variability is understood and incorporated into the process of understanding how the weather works, and the climate is affected by the rest of the solar system, and its interactions with the rest of the galaxy, the background senseless chatter will fall on deaf ears.

    Those “CAGW Experts” have a long uphill battle ahead as long as they cannot forecast the weather as well as “the Farmers Almanac” and the many old farmers that have spent most of their lives outside, working toward feeding the population.

    Spouting sources of satistics, and results of model runs that have no basis in reality, will not be helpfull to spreading “the Truth as seen by the mainstream”.

    The production of a viable forecast with longer lead times, that can be relied on for those who need to know what is going on in the future to support the growing world population, would be the place to start IMHO.

  10. If only climate predictions were as easy as making predictions of the “skeptic” response.

  11. I’d like to humbly suggest that stuff like the following published at RC does not represent a productive voice of reason. Will they distance themselves from this kind of over-heated rhetoric? We’ll see, but I doubt it. More likely they’ll raise their glasses and shout “Well said, fellow traveler!”

    Thomas Lee Elifritz says:
    24 November 2010 at 10:49 AM
    “Every over-excited alarmist makes our task harder.”

    Who’s ‘our’ as in ‘we’ or ‘us’. Let me explain to you who ‘i’ am, the sop called over-excited ‘alarmist’, who is simply reciting verifiable results to ‘you’. I am someone who understands what science is and how it works, someone who has a basic world class university education in the hard sciences, someone who has participated in the space, computer and software revolutions in our society, someone who has read extensively up on hard science subjects since before the computer and software revolutions, someone who figured out how to type keywords in the search bar after the software revolution, and thus, someone who has extensively read up on the hard science subjects at hand after the software revolution, and thus someone who is intimately familiar with the many and evolving scientific methods at the disposal of anyone who cares to read up on the subject, and also someone who has at my fingertips all of the current results available.

    Now let me tell you what this ‘alarmist’ has to say to you. You and your children will be royally screwed on this planet if you don’t get up off your butts and do something about the PROBLEMS that confront you real soon.

    Take it or leave it. It’s in print. From a fiscal point of view, it’s happening now, in real time. From a weather point of view, you’re talking years. From a climate point of view, you have a decade, or two, at most.

  12. “….Whether it will backfire crucially depends on whether the public and the media develop an ability to distinguish scientifically sound information from misleading statements….”

    The Public does have the ability. One only has to look at the poll numbers that show public belief in CAGW dropping like a rock to see this.

    And as temps cool as projected over the next several decades, the rate of change in the poll numbers will accelerate.

  13. Dr. Curry,
    That climate scientists keep thinking that they are just not selling their message properly means that your community is not getting the message.
    Skeptics are not anti-science. We are not ‘deniers’. We have asked some specific questions and we get treated to unending bs and dissembling.
    We have quoted climate scientists, in context, planning and carrying out fraud only to be ignored and derided by….climate scientsts and their friends.
    skeptics point out the ridiculous nature of the apocalyptic predictions of climate and we are either ignored or we are told no one ever made them. We quote the scientists who said them and are ignored.
    We point out problems with the data and are told we are schills of some consopiracy that exists only in true believer fever dreams.
    Frankly your science will need to go through something like the reformation of Soviet science after Lysenko was finally discredited before the message- whatever it really is- will be found credible.
    As long as the response of climate scientists is to act like tobacco companies getting caught out on lung cancer- with flying squads of marketing and sales experts- they are wasting their time.

    • “Skeptics are not anti-science. “

      They simply think that science has utterly failed to produce the correct answer on everything from basic thermodynamics to analysis of temperature station data, that scientists chase research grant money by producing answers useful for the expansion of government power, that every single mechanism intended to prevent corruption and fraud has failed and of course that scientists are individually and collectively involved in a conscious effort to lie to the public.

      Other than those minor quibbles you’re fine with science though.

      • Few skeptics are dismissing thermodynamics.
        The money issue is a bit tougher, since cliamte scientists resist strongly any efforts to look at what they are diong with the money.
        But if you referring to peer review as a means of quality control, the documentation of its subversion by cliamte scientists is well documented, unfortunately.
        Most skeptics do not think all cliamte scientists are involvedin an overt conspiracy. well demontrated failures of science inthe past had to do with bias confirmation, group thinking, but unfortunately does include political pressure and direct pressure on publishers and others by defenders of consensus.
        But good try at dismissing all of this pesky stuff.

      • “But good try at dismissing all of this pesky stuff.”

        I’m not dismissing any pesky stuff.

        You can’t claim to be “for science” when you also believe science has produced outrageously incorrect answers and engaged in a criminal conspiracy to boot.

        You believe science doesn’t work. It doesn’t produce the right answers. It doesn’t detect fraud. It’s not a firm basis on which to make policy decisions.

        You might as well own your opinion rather than pretending you’re a supporter of science when what you’re actually a supporter of is a completely different field of enquiry which will produce answers on climate you’ve already predetermined.

      • We skeptics love science, and may of us are scientists or engineers (applied scientists). But we believe that one specific science has been captured by a political movement, and we can offer lots of evidence for this belief. There is nothing anti-science about this, if anything we are trying to save science. I and others have been warning for many years that science was going to take a hit from this politicization, now the hit is here. Don’t blame us for the public outrage.

      • “But we believe that one specific science has been captured by a political movement”

        Well the problem with that is that many of arguments put forth by skeptics (e.g. the greenhouse effect is thermodynamically impossible) requires the collusion of many many scientists outside of climate science.

        Other arguments such as fraud in the surface station record also involves the associated organisations in each country that collects the data.

        And naturally many skeptics also consider things like the o-zone layer hole to also be fraudulent which again requires more scientists to be in on it all.

      • Sharperoo:
        “You can’t claim to be “for science” when you also believe science has produced outrageously incorrect answers and engaged in a criminal conspiracy to boot.”

        Science didn’t produce outrageously incorrect answers. Micheal Mann and Phil Jones and cohort did that. And it’s already established that they were engaged in a criminal conspiracy, as confirmed by their emails and the UK Freedom of Information Commissioner. The fact that they managed to prevaricate for long enough to get past a ridiculously short statute of limitations doesn’t alter this fact.

        Do you not read the news or something?

      • criminal conspiracy?
        hmmm…….I am not aware of that one.
        I am aware of AGW apologists claiming that skeptics are bought and paid for by Exxon and the Koch family and should be treid as war criminals.
        I believe scientists are as capable of errors as anyone else. I believe scientists are as capable as participating socially driven mistakes as anyone else.
        I would suggest that the evidence shows clearly the AGW community and climate scientists are engaged in a social mania similar to eugenics (which involved the leading scientists of the day).
        So putting words in my mouth and using straw men like criminal conspiracy only makes you look….stereotypical.

      • Here’s an interesting study on the matter:


      • interesting paper

      • Indeed. And note the date: 1977!

        So this disconfirmatory logic call has hardly been heeded in over 30 years. Has its time come? Maybe this global credibility crisis will finally do the trick.

      • The topic of subjective experience is rudimentary. Our lack of understanding has been dead in the water for 1,000s of years.

        Definition of Subjectivity: The opinion held by another.

        The AGW debate stumbles about making endless blunders concerning subjective viewpoint.

        Our lack of cognizance regarding subjectivity gives all indication of persevering into the future as it has persisted in the past. … That being if it’s not my opinion then I don’t care. Moreover it’s probably wrong, stupid and irrelevant anyhow. That’s subjective opinion for you. It’s the other person’s viewpoint.

        Please continue to be disinclined and/or disinterested in recognizing the strong connection between subjective experience and the distinction between autistic/NT perspectives.

        Obviously, for you and others the deep meaning and implication of …

        subjective VERSUS objective

        Starts and ends with …

        subjective = garbage
        objective =rational & science & “me”

        ‘Objectivity’ is the only game in town.
        The autistic perspective is the only perspective

        … not important. No worries.

        There is no elephant.

      • However it is quite rational to be skeptical of claims that contradict one’s beliefs, otherwise one could not have beliefs. Beliefs require stability. This is part of Kuhn’s model of science, where paradigms are protected, not tested. They are protected so that they can be mined for their results.

        I use the metaphor of the prospector and the miners. The scientific revolutionary finds the gold but it is the host of miners that dig it out during normal science. Few scientists can be prospectors or we would never get any gold out of the ground.

      • Neither yourself, nor Zajko have commented upon the fundamental role that the autistic perspective plays in ‘philosophy’.

        I can appreciate that if a person is an autistic style of person, it is very hard to see or know beyond the autistic universe.

        The problem with that is the autistic universe of philosophy is the only game in town.

        Beliefs require stability. This is part of Kuhn’s model of science, where paradigms are protected, not tested. They are protected so that they can be mined for their results.

        Your (Kuhn’s) statement is partly correct. Unfortunately the ‘reality’ being described is firmly rooted in the autistic paradigm.

        The non autistic (NT) does not require a stable ‘belief’. The belief and it’s contextual periphery can alter with each revisiting of the belief.

        An autistic person would consider such a labile belief to be a delusion, irrational, crudely formed, heuristic …

        An NT person inherently treats the belief as a momentary isolated-from-context experience that co-exists in a universe many localized limited and evolving beliefs and experience.

        The NT type person does NOT primarily reach out to grasp and embrace the universal timeless entirety before moving on to secondary considerations.

        The NT person works with beliefs that are stable and emphasized in limit to the here and now. Extension of such belief/experience to universal and timeless application is a secondary assumption. The assumption is inherently presumed to be weak imprecise and context-dependent.

      • Raving, give it a rest. Your attempts at every opportunity to insert and promote your “autistic thinking” meme is not getting any responses — because people aren’t buying in, and are too polite and otherwise occupied to deal with the irritation. You’re getting the same treatment as another prominent poster who incessantly tries to highjack threads to his “iron sun” belief system.

        You both may be right, at least to some degree, but you’re not gaining any “converts” by trying to turn every conversation and posting into a forum for your ideas.

        I repeat, give it a rest.

      • It is a rational, objective universe and nothing else is relevant.

        That is what the autistic meme happens to be.

        That is what I am claiming

        Give it a rest and ignore the possible existence of alternatives?

        There is only logic.
        There is only objectivity.

        It’s a dense perfect, ideal, timeless reality. Suite yourself and don’t forget to laugh at my irrationality.

        There will be no more from me here.

      • It can be said with strong confidence that MOST autistic people are very much better than MOST non autistic people in the area of logical/rational/objective reasoning.

        You wish to discuss objectivity, the scientific method, uncertainty, and the source of mistrust for the component of climate research that embraces strong objective scientific methodology.

        Nevertheless, you claim that attaching the ‘autism’ word to formal philosophy and/or strong scientific methodology is spurious and frivolous. Let’s say that the group has decided it to be so.

        At least you had the gumption to respond to me regarding the possibility of a hypothetical, frivolous and irrelevant autistic perspective which probably does not play a role in all this.

        That is more than others have done. Thus, I will keep my word and leave.

        You are welcome to your ignorance.

      • Please.
        High level autistics may be able to do certain things well, but they are still deeply handicapped.
        I believe you are better off not pursuing autistic issues on a climate blog.
        Stay or leave, but take this as sincere and positive advice.

      • However it is quite rational to be skeptical of claims that contradict one’s beliefs, otherwise one could not have beliefs. Beliefs require stability. (Not required)

        Nice paradox (perceptual confusion)

        A belief is necessarily disagreeable. (Is this the right room for an argument?) It requires plausible skeptical claims to challenge and bolster it’s existence.

        Example: If everyone ceases to disagree with fundies will their belief in creationism vanish?

        Beliefs can be diminished by deliberate disregard.

        Beliefs can be bolstered from within and without through confirmation bias.

        Beliefs can be bolstered from without by argumentation and claims of disbelief. (Arguing with a person is a great way of bolstering that person’s belief in what they are defending) Argument stops. Belief evaporates.

        I agree with you David. (Withdrawal of skepticism. Seeds of doubt are sewn.)

        [This is how an irrational NT perceives the subjective experience. Raving does it by searching context for strong unstated assumption.)

        My examples are weighted in the direction of … a timely exposure to a subjective experience.

        The autistic type thinker would probably consider this in a timeless context.

        (Beliefs require stability.) – Not in my universe!

        Beliefs are dynamic things that develop, transform and often disappear. Earlier forgotten beliefs can be discovered anew or rediscovered in alternate contexts. This is precisely what makes the ‘discontinuous’ NT perspective a very different type of universe.

      • I’m deeply skeptical about the urgent need for state intervention to address whatever warming/climate change may be taking place.

        How does that make me a anti-science?

        Is the science intimately tied to the policy and politicalagendas being promoted? If they are, then I suppose it’s fair to label me anti-science.

      • “You can’t claim to be “for science” when you also believe science has produced outrageously incorrect answers and engaged in a criminal conspiracy to boot.”

        The argument is wrong.

        Science is not just science, just as apples are not just apples. The quality varies greatly and it is seen that something that claim to science is not science, or that the data does not support the conclusions. Science varies in quality and hence in degree of how scientific it is.


  14. I dunno about how best to communicate.

    I read this guest post by Andy Lacis- over at Pielke Sr’s place, if Pielke Sr says something is worth reading then I generally do.

    I found it quite informative and convinced until the last 3 paragraphs. I felt as though I was reading ‘unbiased science’.

    Then he ended with this
    “We currently seem to be operating under the ‘no regrets’ climate policy first formulated under the first Bush administration, which basically states that if anything undesirable should happen because of global climate change, we will then deal with that problem after the fact.”

    I don’t have time to dissect every paragraph of every paper. If even a single sentence of a paper is agitprop, then the entire thing is agitprop.

    Mann has an axe to grind with oil companies(they provide fuel for my car), Hansen has an axe to grind with coal companies(they provide fuel for the electric plant that powers my house and office), Lacis has an axe to grind with Bush Sr(He been out of office for 18 years)

    People with axes to grind are not a good source of ‘unbiased’ information.

    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      So you were convinced by the science until you read about policy recommendations. If policy had not been supplied by Lacis, what policy route would you recommend?
      Essentially you’ve documented your own fallacious reasoning. If one sentence (policy in this case) is agitprop ‘then the entire thing is agitprop’.
      What was that about grinding axes?

      • You post nothing but agitprop. You are “scroll-by”.

      • “scroll-by” is good. Haven’t read an AEG post in a month of Sundays. Don’t need to, because I can learn all I need to about the grotesque furniture of his mind by reading the replies of those who have.

  15. In a few years the data will either support CAGW or it will have been falsified. The sun is having a weak cycle. The ocean oscillations will be lined up for the cool phase. To worry about the way the message is framed when all the primary factors are coming together for a more convincing attribution seems like a waste of time to me. To rush into a major reconstruction of our energy base seems like foolishness when we will have to wait such a short amount of time to have a more definitive answer. Certainly there will be those that will continue to argue one way or the other regardless of what the data shows, but the vast majority of us will let the data have the final word.

  16. Whereas the willingness of the rapid response team to engage with skeptics is a big step up from the previous strategies, is this really going to make any kind of difference? Is this kind of activism going to backfire?

    Is the ‘rapid response team’ really going to engage with skeptics? Or is it mainly intended as a one-stop source of pro-AGW/ACC info (and rebuttals of skeptic arguments) for reporters and other media types?

    Is the ‘engage skeptics’ bit a part of some kind of official mission or charter?

    • You make the point very clear.
      This so-called response team is nothing more than an organized attempt to squash those pesky denialist scum and to defend by any means available AGW promoters.
      Their goal is not communication but control and suppression of communication they do not approve of.

      • Translated:
        There goal is to refute denialist lies and propaganda.

        A worthy goal.

      • If they follow the actual full suite of scientific inquiry, it is indeed a worthy goal. So far, no signs of willingness to do so, though.

      • Doug McGee,
        Calling me a denier is no different from calling me a ‘ni**er’ and only shows how empty your argument is.

    • I suspect that I am like many others: as soon as pronouncements on the science get mixed up with advocacy on the necessary policy response I smell a rat and tend to switch off. That’s why this ‘rapid response’ initiative will fail especially in view of the current febrile debate. People just don’t like having politics rammed down their throat even by those who profess superior technical knowledge.

    • “Vapid Response Team” would be more apt.

  17. Their sted there.

  18. The science of climate change and even the scientists themselves are under attack from a well-orchestrated and well-oiled misinformation campaign.

    What surprised me in this statement (and the rest of it), or perhaps doesn’t really surprise me, is that the authors continually beg the question. That is to say that the first step towards evangelism (unfortunate use of the word, given its religious overtones) is the act of belief. When asking the question about the validity of the science, they assert the science is valid petitio principii. Many of the arguments articulated above are pure Sophistry.

    Many of these people assume being anti-paradigm in this particular little area of Human scientific effort is anti-science, whereas many of us are sceptics because we are pro-science. We don’t like to see science perverted to suit a sinister, anti-technocratic, anti-libertarian political agenda.

    • I also don’t like seeing science perverted to suit a sinister pro-corporate pro-profit anti-rights political agenda. I recommend Oreseke’s “Merchants of Doubt” for a litany of the abuses of science in these ways.

    • And I’m still waiting for my big oil payoff for being part of the ‘well-oiled misinformation campaign’.

      Not so long ago, I was part of a ‘vast right-wing conspiracy’ though I’d never been contacted by or otherwise communicated with any right-wingers (and in fact my politics could hardly be called ‘right wing’, and I don’t care for ‘conservative’ politics and politicians). I simply disagreed with statist agendas and policy proposals.

      It’s so very easy to smear people by slapping a label on them. It’s the lazy man’s way of scoring points. That goes for both sides of any issue.

      • I’m favorable to a fair number of libertarian ideas myself – but I also recognize the shortcomings of a relentless adherence to the myths that governments always make everything worse, and that an unfettered free market will always be right and good.

        In any case, I don’t let my distaste for “statist agendas” override my appreciation of reality. And the reality is that we are changing the climate system – but recognizing that doesn’t automagically make me a commie. I’d like to see a revenue-neutral carbon tax, and then let the market react.

  19. The issue is pretty simple but the solution is sadly out of scope.

    The issue is, Climate Science created an Ivory Tower and simply doesn’t play well in the “sandbox” –> created a lack of Trust.

    Example: The idea of allowing John Abraham to be a spokesperson for a reasoned attempt to mitigate the issues is tragic casting. He freely demonstrates a slanted view that has been unprofessional in past attempts to engage alternative viewpoints. Its not to say he can’t change but clearly indicates a lack of acumen and genuine interest in fixing the situation.

    If the Climate Science community as a whole would simply agree to its failures, use proper candor in discussing the current state of the Science, and open a true dialogue to establish a new foundation with all disciplines, a foundation would emerge that could restore credibility and will instill Trust over time.

    ClimateGate is a symptom of a much bigger problem. Until the true cause of the problem is addressed, there isn’t much hope for Climate Science credibility.

  20. To me, the message in all this is that the Internet has enabled truly free speech and free association for people in many countries. I think it is the greatest thing ever and we need to fight to preserve it. No longer does the government, business, special political interests, proponents of a particular political leaning (I’m thinking of the US TV networks of old here), or any other major power in society control of communications. These guys are trying to cope with this freedom communications. I’m betting they or some of the other major powers would love to shut it down if only they could. It is something for which we need to stay alert.

  21. Here is their link if anyone has a query for them. It seems they are only interested in communicating with the media, so you may not get a responsive answer.

    How is that aggressively engaging the denialists and politicians who attack climate science and its scientists? Filtering their information through the media isn’t anything new or aggressive. Just more of the same.

    If they engaged their critics in public debates that would be something that would qualify as aggressive. Alas, I think that is unlikely to happen if they are going to act like these two.

    • What does a public debate accomplish, anyway? It’s never been clear to me why Singer and the others always insist on such things.

      • This is simple. The warmers insist that the science is settled, hence not debatable. Pubic debate quickly reveals that the science is highly debatable, so the warmers tend to lose. So the warmers (1) don’t debate and (2) explain why there is so much apparent debate as being due to ignorance and evil.

      • Really? What of the *science* is “highly debatable”? The CO2 and other GHGs are opaque to IR? That CO2 is increasing? That we’re increasing the CO2 concentration? Who debates those science questions?

        Now, if you’re talking *policy*, that is indeed highly debatable. But policy isn’t the science.

      • If you do not understand the scientific debate I can’t help you. Perhaps you should review the last 14,700+ comments here for scientific disagreements. There are t least 100 distinct arguments, maybe 1000. I can’t possibly summarize all of them here. But if we had a one on one public debate I would be happy to try. In other words, you are an example of my point.

      • We’re all entitled to our own opinions, but we’re not entitled to our own facts. Which of the 3 facts I listed are “debatable”, and how can they be? Explain.

      • Well, none of them in your absurdly simplistic mental model of Earth’s climate.

      • Actually, there are folks, blog denizens mostly, who dispute all three. There’s probably a few here.

      • I am confused. You admit that all three of your claims (not facts) are disputed. But you ask me to explain how they can be debatable? If they are disputed then they are debatable. That is what debatable means; the dispute is the debate. Or do you have a private meaning for “debatable”? If you are speaking a private language you cannot expect us to understand you.

      • To refresh, the three facts I mentioned are:

        1) CO2 and other GHGs are opaque to IR.
        2) CO2 is increasing.
        3) We’re increasing the CO2 concentration.

        There are some who argue against one, two, or all three of the above. Visit “ScienceofDoom” for examples. Or read Holle just below. He says they’re not disputed, but “too small to measure”. Apparently he’s never heard of Charles Keeling, for one thing.

      • ” read Holle just below. He says they’re not disputed, but “too small to measure”. Apparently he’s never heard of Charles Keeling, for one thing.”

        Holle said the effects are too small to measure. Which Trenberth agrees with.

      • I do not dispute any of the three items you mention, it is just that the effects are too small to measure. CAGW is a non-problem over hyped, that is wasting grant monies and assets to study what is really going on as far as climate drivers. The proposed answers to this non- problem are much worse than the BS CAGW stories.

        The reality is that increased CO2 will probably raise temperatures less than they have already been artificially “Adjusted and Modified”, with the net results being a more benign environment with increased food production, more stable weather, and increased rainfall from a more rapid hydrological cycle.

        I know enough about what drives the weather and climate, that I CAN forecast the weather longer term than the “Experts” with their numerology generators.

      • Those 3 facts aren’t the ‘issue for debate’. The issue for debate as I see it (fyi I am not a climate scientist, I am a mechanical/aeronautical engineer who is interested in this issue) is the claim that the increasing CO2 will cause warming sufficient to cause all the ‘catastrophies’ of increased droughts, floods in other areas. None of these are going towards the ‘catastrophic side’ from the data that I have found.

      • Indeed, these three claims (not facts) are seldom disputed by most skeptics. The primary debate lies elsewhere, namely as you say in whether the supposedly human induced CO2 increase matters? But I m a cataloger of issues and in fact each of these three claims is disputed by some scientists.

      • If you do not understand the scientific debate I can’t help you. Perhaps you should review the last 14,700+ comments here for scientific disagreements.

        You do realize that there is a huge unstated assumption in all this that mostly gets a free ride unchallenged.

        It is assumed that we must care about AGW and do whatever we can to avoid. We can also accept the outcome and get on with life.

        Regardless the economic, social, and physical reality will have changed drastically and be unrecognizably different considerably BEFORE the doom &gloom arrives in full force.

        AGW is not a primary problem. There are a group of people who are deliberately stirring the pot to manufacture and sustain an attitude of emotional hysteria.

      • “There are a group of people who are deliberately stirring the pot to manufacture and sustain an attitude of emotional hysteria.”

        Which people are those?

      • You, for a start.

      • How so? What have I written that could fairly be called “hysteria”?

      • “There are t least 100 distinct arguments, maybe 1000. ”

        Here are 3 of them, taken from another thread.
        Ken: “I accept that CO2 resonates with IR photons and couples energy to its neighboring molecules in the atmosphere. However, I think most of the heat of your typical CO2 molecule comes from colliding with warmer O2 and N2 molecules…molecules that got their heat from conduction from warmer things like sea surface and land and then convected around the world. I don’t think IR-stimulated CO2 does anything measurable to our atmosphere.”

        Hunter: “It has always been a social movement promoting mankind’s redemption by way of an apocalypse myth.”

        BrianH “It’s momentous, all right, but it’s not a discovery of fact. It’s a discovery of a super-powerful lever to flip the planet into a state of total bureaucratic control. Which is what controlling the modes and quantities of energy generation and use is, make no mistake”

        Are these arguments debatable? Can they be verified/falsified? Are they statements of fact or statements of opinion?

      • “Are they statements of fact or statements of opinion?”

        They look like summary opinions of people who have put forward more detailed arguments elsewhere on this blog to me.

      • Can AGW be falsified?
        AGW causes cool summers, cold winters, hot summers and warm winters, droughts, rain, flood, sun burnt whales, more snow, less snow, more ice, less ice, disruptions in ocean currents, and much much more.

        For me, on my belief:
        Catastrophic global is the movement that claims the Earth is headed to, or already in, a global climate crisis caused by increasing CO2 in the atmosphere.
        I see AGW as little different from eugenics in its day:
        A belief that supports the prejudices of the believer by deciding who is superior and inferior and claiming the justification to impose its beliefs in law. The apocalyptic ‘tipping points’ AGW uses to help sell the tenets of its belief are interesting as well.
        Not much time for more right now.
        So I have asked question I believe more relevant than complaining about the many points skeptics make or try to make:
        Can AGW be falsified?
        And I have clarified and provided a well documented example of where consensus science and politics interacted in a very negative but then popular way in the past.

      • The part of the science in question is how high will the warming per century be? 2,3,6,10 C? Even if the warming is, say, 6; then the debate is over policy. A high degree of warming does not automatically mean we take draconian measures to cut back fossil fuel use. There are other elements in play than just carbon.

      • The positions taken by the adversaries can be directly attributed to them.

        Neither side can claim to have been misrepresented or misunderstood by filtering of their remarks through some intermediary. Such as journalist, editor, others wishing to add spin or embellishment.

      • It breaks the choke-hold the AGWers successfully applied to scientific inquiry “by the book”, using classic gatekeeping and purse-keeping techniques.

        Sorry for your loss!

      • What does a public debate accomplish, anyway? It’s never been clear to me why Singer and the others always insist on such things.

        Derecho64: In a democracy public debate is one of the ways that the public reaches decisions about policy — like it or not.

        As David Wojick points out, climate change advocates tend to lose the debates, consequently their tack these days is to flee from public debate and complain that debates are unfair or don’t prove anything.

        The debates are not about CO2 as a GHG etc, but about the degrees of risk and uncertainty in the climate change arguments.

        The climate change advocates tend to lose because they overreach and are ill-prepared for strong opposition. Here are a couple of debates that the CC folks lost:


      • I wouldn’t rely on Monckton for anything. If I were a “skeptic”, I’d be embarrassed to have him spouting his nonsense.

        The irony of public debates to decide matters of science is that while yes, democracies work best when debates are public, issues of science aren’t democratic. Even if the public vote on whether the earth is flat is unanimous in favor, it’s irrelevant. The other issue with holding science questions to democratic decision-making is that presumes some degree of knowledge of the issue. Lastly, public debates are more friendly to those with showmanship, rather than the facts. Witness the famous debates between Kennedy and Nixon – those who watched on TV declared Kennedy the winner, those who listened on radio said Nixon won.

      • Derecho64: But you are not a skeptic and I’ve seen little in your posts that impresses me, so your opinion of Monckton makes no difference to me.

        However, public debates are not to decide science but to debate publicly because climate change has implications for policy. This is something climate change advocates seem not to understand or pretend not to.

        If climate change scientists want policies enacted based on climate change science, they need public support. Pointing to stacks of peer-reviewed papers is not going to win that support, especially after Climategate and the 2010 elections.

        Sure, debates aren’t perfect but I have to ask, if the case for climate change is so strong, why can’t its advocates do better in public debates?

        I’m not demanding that CC advocates debate, but if they don’t and if they will only engage in forums like RealClimate or ClimateSight or peer-reviewed papers where they are pulling wires behind the scenes, it fosters the impression that CC advocates really can’t seal the deal.

      • Why should climate scientists engage in debates on policy?

        Don’t we have a whole group of people, namely, *politicians*, whose job is to make policy decisions after debate?

        We hear time and again that scientists ought to stick strictly to science, but now you’re saying that they need to engage in public debates to discuss policy. It’s a Catch-22 for them.

      • But Scott Mandia, by saying that “science and politics can’t be divorced”, seems to be saying they should engage at the political level. Perhaps he, at least, should debate?

      • So go ask him.

      • Nice dismissal. Too bad, I was hoping for an answer. But maybe I phrased myself badly, so I’ll try again.

        Do you think that scientists who enter themselves into the policy debate should be expected to debate with their opposition?

        To me there is no catch-22. If scientists wish to stick with science, by all means stick to the scientific method, but if they wish to enter the realm of policy they should be prepared to debate their opponents, as that’s the political method.

        It strikes me that some scientists are using their status as scientists to to proclaim the rightness of their policy ideas. To me that’s just as wrong as a politician using his status as a policy maker to proclaim the rightness of his scientific ideas.

      • I can’t speak for Mandias. Don’t presume that I can or should.

      • Derecho64 –

        You’re ducking the question – I think it’s fairly clear that I’m asking about a general case, not about Mandia in particular. I’m asking because there should be concern about the general bad impression left with the public when anyone stands on their authority, however derived, to pronounce on policy in the public arena without being open to debate. It doesn’t work for the pope, it didn’t work for health care and it won’t work for scientists. It comes off as arrogance, not confidence.

        I’m not trying to play gotcha here. I’m genuinely interested to see if you recognize what seems to me as so obvious: that there are two separate debates around AGW, conducted by different methods; and that crossing from one to the other requires a change of method. Also, of course, if you don’t see it that way, why not?

      • Derecho64: Oh, come on. Where do you think politicians come from? Voters, i.e. the public, elect them.

        Barack Obama and the Democratic leadership backed climate change to the hilt but without public support. Notice how far it got them and the Waxman-Markey bill.

        Now we’ve had a big reversal in Congress and it does not favor climate change legislation because the voters do not favor climate change.

        If CC folks want to change that, they either seek for authoritarian powers (as Lovelock and Friedman wish) or persuade the voters.

        The usual way to persuade voters is public debate. If scientists don’t have the courage or the competence for that, they will just have to live with what we’ve got.

      • Did you see my Catch-22 comment?

        You’re saying that climate scientists need to get out there and communicate. There are others here who claim that doing so is advocacy, and advocacy is evil and wrong.

        Either scientists communicate (and are damned) or they stick just to their science (and are damned).

      • Derecho64: Pay attention — I’m not everyone else here and they are not me. Also I said “I’m not demanding that CC advocates debate.”

        I don’t care if scientists debate or advocate or don’t do either as long as they conduct themselves honestly.

        I am also saying that if scientists want public support to deal with climate change, it makes sense for them to go to the public somehow — regardless of whether some people think they should or should not. If you see a more effective way, speak up. If scientists wants to bow out, that’s fine. If scientists want to gesture to their peer-reviewed publications and appeal to their own authority, that’s fine but naive.

        You can argue with any of this or not, but complaining that some people say one thing and some people say another and the poor scientists can’t catch a break is evading the point and silly.

      • It’s not evasive and not silly.

        Susan Solomon was asked repeatedly at the release of the IPCC AR4 to provide policy prescriptions, and she always demurred. That would make some here happy. It would make you unhappy.

        This is the “double bind” that Schneider referred to. You may want to dismiss it as “silly”, but it’s very real.

      • Climate scientists are dismissed because when people actually hear what they are saying they know they are being sold snake oil.
        After 22 years of nothing but supportive media and many tens of billions of dollars of public money, the climate crisis climate science declared in 1988 is still at the bottom of the priority list.

      • Lastly, public debates are more friendly to those with showmanship…

        Derecho64: James Cameron, one of the most powerful directors in the history of Hollywood and a fervent advocate of climate change, challenged three skeptics to public debate…then backed down at the last minute.

        Musta been because James Cameron doesn’t know much about showmanship — unlike those slick, well-oiled skeptics.

      • Who cares about James Cameron? C’mon, that’s really reaching.

      • Derecho64a: Hardly. Are you really arguing in good faith here?

        Name one public skeptic with James Cameron’s stature and showmanship experience. Cameron is also a very bright, articulate man who has consulted with NASA.

        If Cameron can’t carry the ball for climate change in public debate, who can?

      • I would avoid public discussion of climate science if I were a believer as well- any public forum where the problems of cliamte science are discussed leads to people realizing how shabby and non-credible it is.
        So of course you do not want a public forum to debate it.

      • I would avoid distinguishing between the discussion of climate scientists and the discussion of climate science if I wanted to make it sound shabby and non-credible without being able to actually demonstrating it, by using maths for instance.

        So of course I would prefer to keep my constructive import to keep mind framing over and over again with things like “the science is shabby and non-credible,” instead of arguing for it. I would even go as far as demanding we have a debate, a debate in which I have no interest to demonstrate or argue anything.

        I should avoid seeming like I am talking about myself where I really am talking about another commenter, because that looks like I am probing my own motivations, where I am probing another commenter’s mind. I wanted to make a point.

  22. I’m not sure I understand this, because here on planet Earth the climate alarmists and activists have had a free run in the MSM for the last 20 years or more. Their every doomladen word has appeared in the British press, amplified by journalists, the BBC has ruined its reputation for fairness by coompletely banning anything that doesn’t support catastrophic global warming from the airwaves and the government has joined in with the indoctrination of our children by making them watch the execrable ICT.

    Yet with this clear playing field no progress has been made on the political front so the scientists think that the rag-tag army of unfunded sceptics has held them at bay. Could I suggest to them that the politicians, while agreeing with their theories are worldy wise enough to know that if they carried out the plans put forward they would empoverish their own electorate, and that is what is stopping political progress. That, and their being no viable technologies to replace energy generation from burning fossil fuels.

    • It is quite true that the scientific debate is presently just a sideshow and the real deadlock is in the political arena. Watch Cancun or Congress for details. But the science can change.

      • It is quite true that the scientific debate is presently just a sideshow and the real deadlock is in the political arena.

        The political arena is a grand old game of ‘Silly Buggers’ done up with a P.R. twist.

        The science is just cannon fodder for the political opportunists and the protagonists.

        The protagonists do their forcing by relentlessly cranking and injecting emotion into the public consciousness. The protagonists prey on people’s sympathy, empathy and sense of belonging.

        People are being emotionally cranked and cranked and cranked as never before. It’s worked in the past. Still works today.

        Want me to embed the videos of drowning dogs or exploding children or dancing sad polar bears?

  23. Sorry ICT should read AIT

  24. Yes, the AGW propopents have had such a rough go of getting their message heard in the mainstream media. If only a prominent climate scientist, let’s say Michael Mann or someone like that could get an open invitation to write opinion pieces in a national newspaper, like say the Washington Post. Of course that’s just wishful thinking what with the omnipotent tourniquet of doubt implemented by evil interests.

    What I find truly interesting is that a group of obviously highly intelligent people could be so mystified that there’s pushback or skepticism of a theory that merely requests people fundamentally change their entire lifestyle/economy. You can’t make claims of imminent catastrophe and expect to be taken at your word, no matter what your credentials are.

    I think the average person lumps climate scientists along with economists, political scientists, etc. into a category called “experts” and unfortunately “experts” have a terrible track record of predicting the future.

    Hope everyone is having a good day.

  25. Imagine that taking advice from people who actually understand communication rather than taking advice from Mann. If folks read through the mails and ask the question “was Mann a good director of communications?” I think they will come away with the impression that Mann’s way has been ‘falsified’ to use a favorite word of skeptics.

    Thanks for the links Judith

  26. Two years ago on a sunny Saturday afternoon I stood at the base of a commercial wind turbine to listen to the owner describe the origins and economics of wind energy in that region. He described spending the bulk of his time lobbying lawmakers saying to us, the necessity of more regulations. At that time coal was at 2.5 cents/Kw hr.; nuclear at 3.5 cents; wind at 11.5 cents and solar 42 cents. This last summer, at the base of the same wind turbine and the same owner the numbers were 4 cents/Kw hr. for coal; 4 cents for nuclear; 17.5 cents for wind and 56 cents for solar. He stated that the public would have to “bite the bullet” for renewable energy and pay $ 1700 more over what they pay today for home energy.
    I have not seen economics discussed this thread, yet, I believe the public is not blind nor ignorant of such economics, just the amount of those increased costs. I personally do not believe the public is science “ignorant” nor incapable of understanding climate science. What the public has experienced on a day to day basis is that ” everybody talks about the weather and nobody can do anything about it”. Climate science, perceived as an amalgamation of weather information, is saddled with the same public gestalt, and probably rightly so. Prove that you can predict (don’t confuse with project) the future, and then the message will then become self-evident. Since the future for climate change is some time “in the future”, in the mean time, cool your jets. You don’t need to say a word.

    • “He stated that the public would have to “bite the bullet” for renewable energy and pay $ 1700 more over what they pay today for home energy.”

      This is exactly what’s happening in Ontario right now:

      • “Biting” and “bullet” seem to be inappropriate metaphors here. More suitable ones would include “sucking”, and …..

    • One of the problems with those costs is that those for fossil fuels are artificially set too low, as the negative externalities associated with them aren’t priced in, as they should be.

      • The negative externalities you speak of (post-modernist-speak is a kind-of infection in my view) are contingent propositions, neither necessarily true under all circumstances or necessarily false under all circumstances.

        The interesting thing from my point of view is that many positive externalities undoubtedly exist, but nobody is bothering to research them because they do not engender fear.

      • Negative externalities do exist – any decent economics course covers them.

        Next time you’re in an area that saw extensive mining activity in the 19th century, the negative externalities will be staring you in the face. That’s another thing markets don’t handle well, besides environmental problems that span political boundaries and national legal systems – problems that exist over an extended period of time. It’s not easy to sue (say) the mine owner for compensation for the toxic leachate coming from his mine into your water supply when the owner has been dead for the better part of a century.

      • On the face of it that is a fair point. But like a lot of anti-technocratic philosophy (I’m thinking particularly about the kind promoted by people such as Konrad Lorenz and yourself in the post above), it doesn’t weigh any of the advantages the mine brought to the community in the balance, over the 50 or so years it was in operation.

        But even so there is a value judgement here. Do you value economic prosperity, longer life span and conveniences of modern life over and above the rural idyll you’re tangentially promoting? And what has your mine analogy got to do with CO2, which is obviously not a pollutant?

      • Who said the mine brought benefits for 50 years? Perhaps it was a dud and closed within a year, but has managed to leach toxins for more than a century.

        I’m no Luddite – what is it about fossil fuels that some people find so alluring that they cannot imagine a future without them? You’re speaking just like an addict – as a former president, no friend of climate science he, admitted than we have.

        I simply don’t understand the mentality that says that without oil and coal and natural gas, we’ll end up looking at Neanderthals as gods. Why is that?

      • I simply don’t understand the mentality that says that without oil and coal and natural gas, we’ll end up looking at Neanderthals as gods. Why is that?

        Because you’re engaging in another fallacy (Straw Man). The fallacy is that I’m defending use of fossil fuels. I assert only that in the absence of economically viable alternatives, they are necessary. My position in general is that Man-made CO2 is not causing or going to cause catastrophic climate change.

      • And here we circle back to the economic value of fossil fuels, the negatives of which aren’t part of the price. Therefore they seem artificially cheap. The real irony, of course, is that they’re quite finite, and we’ll have to quit using them in any case.

        It’s never been clear to me what “skeptics” mean by the “C” they prepend to “AGW” – what would be “catastrophic”?

      • the negatives of which aren’t part of the price

        Economic viability is not simply that other forms of power generation are less expensive, it is that they are more affordable. They are not artificially cheap. They are what they cost to produce + taxation. What you are suggesting is making them artificially expensive. But they will become more expensive as they become more scarce, so unless you have some compelling reason to stop people using them other than the fact they are finite, interfering with the price does you not good whatsoever.

      • Oil (or coal, for that matter) isn’t priced at “what they cost to produce + taxation” – that ignores a great many costs. I imagine you can think of quite a few.

      • Derecho64 – I would be interested to hear what costs are on your list that aren’t accounted for.

      • First off – air pollution, acid rain, climate change, wars in the Middle East and political entanglements with nice regimes like Saudi Arabia, just off the top of my head.

      • And windmill power, per unit if power, is many times more costly in terms of negative costs.

      • D64, if you propose replacing every coal-fired power plant in the USA with a nuclear reactor, then I’m with you 100%. Lets get busy.

      • Nuclear has a stopgap role to play to give us the time to get solar more economic and practical. It is not *the* answer.

      • Oh, and I forgot to mention – no subsidies for nukes in the form of liability caps or other corporate giveaways.

      • Why not? We’re massively subsidizing wind, solar and tidal at present to the profit of corporations. Should we stop that? Wouldn’t it help get us off fossil fuels that much faster?

      • We should stop subsidizing fossil fuels first, then go from there.

      • I have to agree with Derecho64 on this one, don’t subsidize ANY form of energy. I do think a liability cap for nuclear is OK, since we need that energy for survival.

      • Jim – I was trying to point out the inconsistency in Derecho64’s position: that subsidies already exist for the energy sources he (presumably) likes and yet he does not want them for another low carbon source that he (presumably) does not like. Why is this acceptable? I notice that he didn’t answer that.

        And yes, I agree that there should be NO public subsidies on any form of energy. This includes both liability caps and some sort of accounting for what he terms negative externalities (if there is any way to translate a subjective position to an objective policy).

      • I’d like to ask some questions: In your view,

        What are the negative externalities?
        What price should be placed on them?
        How is that price determined?
        Who receives the benefit of that price?
        Who determines all of this?

        I’m interested because I live in a province where the energy source of choice has always been coal (we mine it here) and wind or tidal seem to be too expensive.

      • The negative externalities are all those things/outcomes that impose real costs on others. Things like ruined air/water/soil and so on.

        I’d like to see a carbon tax emplaced on carbon-based fuels, proportional to their carbon content, and let the market figure out the genuinely cheap energy sources. Oh, and the tax would go into a fund that’s disbursed on a per-capita basis once per year.

      • Would that not require either a global imposition of such a tax (how?) or national import tariffs based on energy used in production (insanely complex)? Otherwise it looks to me like another quick way to export manufacturing and farming to other nations that did not follow such a scheme.

        It also looks to me to be revenue neutral (at best) and therefore has no incentive for the average citizen to actually reduce consumption. Am I wrong? If so, how?

        Also, would a tax based only on carbon not badly skew the price away from coal in favour of oil, at least in the short term? I say this because of the greater negatives associated with coal – and it would definitely impact jobs in my home province.

        And again I ask, who determines all of this?

      • Such a tax wouldn’t have to be globally imposed – it’s no different than the myriad of other taxes we pay that address market failures. Likewise, we can impose the tax at the wellhead, or via import surcharge.

        The less carbon-based fuel you use, the less you pay in carbon tax. If others don’t reduce their usage, the more you net when the tax is distributed back on a per-capita basis.

        Your fellow citizens who depend on coal for their livelihood will have to learn to do something else. Perhaps some of the tax moneys can be used for retraining and educational and job-placement assistance. Sorry.

        The government will have to determine this, because the market cannot.

      • Every tax that has been levied in the past has been spent on what ever the politicians want to spend it on, even the gas based road repair taxes collected, have been abused for other things. The hidden cost of the bureaucracy to manage the taxes you suggest will grow to consume the total taxes received, and only special interests will profit in the end.

      • So get into government yourself and fix it. You live in a democracy (presumably), so it’s your fault if your government is that bad.

      • The problem with this externality concept is that there is no way to price it, because the actual costs and benefits of the activity cannot be known. The taxes become political income streams. For example, how do you factor in the fact that atmospheric CO2 is the global food supply? What role did the CO2 increase have in the green revolution? What affect would reducing CO2 levels to preindustrial levels have on global plant productivity? The short answer is we have no idea. Then too since we have no idea whether or not AGW is true we have no adverse impact basis for setting the tax.

        Pricing externalities is a Utopian dream with no basis in fact. The externalities may exist but the pricing mechanism does not. How much should the 19th century mine owner have paid, given that th future was unknown? The concept is operationally absurd. If you want to regulate something then try to do so, but don’t try to price its unknown future. It can’t be done.

      • Thanks for pointing out the one of the biggest flaw in markets. If X cannot be assigned a price, then the market acts as if X does not exist. Things like clean water, clear air, fertile soil, flood protection via wetlands, and so on, are definite goods, but since market mechanisms cannot price them, we trash them, to our detriment.

        Oh, and it’s not the case that plants are starving for CO2.

      • You have a flair for dodging the point (and I am an expert on this game, seeing it not doing it). You said you wanted a tax to rectify externalities, but I pointed out that the fair price could not be set so you would have to settle for regulation (which is how we presently handle externalities). You switched back to market failure, which does not disagree with what I said, thereby ignoring my point entirely. Nice dodge, but how about my point?

        As for the contribution of the CO2 increase to the food production increases of the last century there is a scientific literature on this so your attempt at dismissal is no good. It is well established that changing CO2 levels changes growth.

        But this is just part of the unanswered (ducked) question as to how you would determine the fair tax to take care of the supposed externalities? Especially given that the science is controversial?

      • Setting the value of the tax would have to be an iterative process, most likely. I’ll defer to economists and others who have more expertise on the subject as to its precise numerical value.

        That said, one doesn’t need climate science at all to see the negative externalities associated with the use of fossil fuels.

        Agricultural productivity is dependent on many things, not just CO2. It’s not easy to determine how much the increase in ag productivity over the last several decades is due to the increase in CO2. That said, CO2 is nondiscriminatory in that not only do the plants we want tend to grow better, so do the plants we don’t want – one thing that’s overlooked when folks believe that more CO2 == more ag crops. We get more weeds, too.

      • Given my long-term concerns about pollution in general, in principle I’d say that a method of adjusting the cost of energy/fuel to reflect their negative externalities would be a good thing – but only if it were to at least attempt to deal with all of them. Picking one, like carbon, could easily skew the overall negatives in favour of a single one. How would we know that we have gotten the most important?

        Also, I can’t see any way of making such a scheme global, leaving us to fall back on import tariffs – which would have to be on both raw fuels/energy and on manufactured goods (including food). Possible I suppose, though it looks to me more like the base of a whole new bureaucracy and yet another set of trade barriers.

        I shudder to think of any government being asked to take the power to arbitrarily play around with energy prices in this fashion. Here in Canada we’ve seen the downside of that. I guess I don’t trust governments to be so altruistic.

        In general, I don’t think it’s as simple as you make it sound and so I remain unconvinced.

        On another note, you seem to be using this type of taxation to address only the carbon issue. That strikes me as disingenuous – if this taxation scheme is worth doing, it would be worth doing overall.

      • Governments already play with energy prices, you know.

        What would the price of Persian Gulf oil be if the costs of the various political adventures, entanglements, and wars there to maintain access to it were put into it?

        I never said implementation would be easy – but a carbon tax is the least odious means to properly account for our use of fossil fuels. Can you think of another scheme? Or have we long since abandoned science with this stuff?

      • “Governments already play with energy prices, you know.”

        Generally to the benefit of their careers and detriment of the economy. Doesn’t make me confident of their ability in this regard.

        “What would the price of Persian Gulf oil be if the costs of the various political adventures, entanglements, and wars there to maintain access to it were put into it?”

        I have no idea, and I’d bet no one else does either. I can easily see arguments for both higher and lower prices – but arguing historical what-ifs is a waste of time.

        “Can you think of another scheme?”

        Another scheme? How about develop the economy, create wealth, and be prepared for adaptation if AGW does turn out to be CAGW?

        “Or have we long since abandoned science with this stuff?”

        What part of this conversation was about science? I thought we were having a quick discussion on the negative externalities of fossil fuels and their public policy implications. For which I thank you – definitely food for thought.

      • We have three ways to deal with AGW – mitigation, adaptation, and suffering. The more mitigation we do, the less of the others we’ll have to do.

        Given that a big part of the reason for AGW is the economic-growth-damn-the-costs mantra, hoping that more and more growth will magically create a bullet that solves the problem is Utopian.

      • “We have three ways to deal with AGW – mitigation, adaptation, and suffering. The more mitigation we do, the less of the others we’ll have to do.”

        Agreed – if we have identified the causes and problems sufficiently, and if we have identified the proper solutions. But it seems that many scientists aren’t sure that science has settled the former which makes it way too early to nail down the latter. In which case adaptation may well be our best plan of action – which is far easier to do with wealth to use.

        Probably less Utopian than assuming that co2 controls will solve all our problems, or that governments are really interested in the greater good.

      • What if adaptation later ends up costing us more in the net than mitigation now? Would later generations be happy about that?

        It’s a strawman to claim that controls on CO2 will solve “all our problems” (who says that they will?) and believing that governments are irredeemably evil is much much too cynical.

      • No more of a strawman than your “hoping that more and more growth will magically create a bullet that solves the problem” (who said that?).

        In the end I think the point is that neither one of us can say just what the ultimate result of our policy prescriptions would be – we just don’t have enough information about the future. As I don’t accept the Precautionary Principle, my favoured option is to wait for more information.

      • kch, are you a smoker? Why or why not?

      • I would characterize those as risks. Some of them MAY happen, some may happen with or without fossil fuels. Some are fairly easy to mitigate. The benefits of fossil fuels far outweigh those risks.

      • No, because I have never liked the taste or smell. As well, the tobacco/cancer linkage seems to be well established – to the point at which I think the Precautionary Principle is rendered moot.

        In return, are you a faithful churchgoer? Why or why not?

      • You have not demonstrated that mitigation is the “cheapest” route. You have to consider more than just CO2 when it comes to expensive. A loss of individual freedom is a very great expense in my opinion. Loss of a robust economy is a great expense, because with a robust economy we can afford more options than with out. Our security and safety depend on a strong military and that in turn depends on a strong economy. Mitigation isn’t in the bag as the best response, especially when the range of predicted warming temperatures is so great.

      • Not a churchgoer – and if you think the evidence for (even) “CAGW” is weak, then the evidence for hell is far weaker.

        Do you have insurance against fire for your house?

      • When are we going to lose economic and personal freedom? When we can start the transition from fossil fuels now, when we have the luxury of some time, or when we realize that it’s about to hit the fan and we are forced into a panic-driven shift?

        The military, which takes things that make their job difficult quite seriously, is taking climate change very seriously. Is that wrong for them to do?

      • Derecho64 –

        Ah, but if you look at Pascal’s full argument, he points out that the payoff is infinite, thus balancing out the weak evidence of hell.

        House insurance? Of course – the insurance companies have figured out the probabilities pretty well, again taking it out of the realm of the PP.

        So do you drive? Fly? Rock climb? Scuba dive? These are all dangerous, yes?

        We could go at this forever, but I don’t think I’m going to change your mind and you won’t be changing mine. So I suggest we call it a day. Maybe if JC has a thread on the PP we can explore it further, but it’s really been pretty OT for this thread. Thanks again for the civility.

      • Thanks for the chat, kch.

      • Derecho64 – This is a small thing, I want to emphasize that, but it probably is a small step to big losses of freedom if we in the US are not careful. A small thing – but I am no longer able to buy the light bulb of my choosing, if it is a non-specialty tungsten bulb. This change will make close to a zero difference to the environment or energy use, but nevertheless there it is.

      • Jim, it’s also a small thing that you can’t dump used motor oil in the gutter.

        Multiply small things by millions, and they aren’t so small. Besides, CFLs save you money. Isn’t that important?

      • No carbon tax is necessary. Carbon based fuels will get more expensive naturally.

      • The problem is that the rise in price of fossil fuels as they become more scarce may take too long.

      • Oil is already at $80/bbl and this is with the US still in a recession and Europe on the verge of economic collapse. What with the growth of China and India on tap and hopefully a recovery of the developed world, I don’t see that getting significantly lower for very long if ever, only higher. And, due to economics, there is already a shift under way to nat gas, the lowest carbon content of the fossil fuels, at least in the US. LNG infrastructure has been and is being developed, so it will be more fungible. Looks like things are going in the right direction if you believe CO2 will cause severe problems, which isn’t even in the bag yet.

      • Too long for what?

      • Fossil prices are “set too low”. By whom, and where. You are so blinded by your malignant socialism that you do not even contemplate the correct answer – supply and demand.

      • Can we keep the silly name-calling (“malignant socialism”) out of the discussion?

        Given that most of the world’s oil reserves (to use one example) are under control of governments, and OPEC has a pretty big lever to pull whichever way it wants to change the supply of oil, the notion that the price of a barrel of oil is set just by supply and demand is rather simplistic.

      • OPEC has been a failure at setting oil prices. They don’t even control most of the oil anyway. See the chart of producing countries. You have claimed this to be a fact more than once, it isn’t.

        Also, the identification of socialist tendencies is very important to our freedom, it is not “silly name-calling.” It is a very serious issue, unless of course you are for socialism.


      • I didn’t say OPEC controlled oil production or reserves. Governments control most oil reserves. OPEC can also manipulate the price of oil by changing (primarily) Saudi Arabia’s production, since they’re the biggest producer.

        And in “bob”‘s case, he was just engaging in hot-button silly name-calling, which you bit.

      • Any country with a lot of oil can manipulate the price. But if they try to manipulate it up, they lose money, so that doesn’t happen very often.

    • yet, I believe the public is not blind nor ignorant of such economics, just the amount of those increased costs

      I would definitely agree with the first and sort of agree with the second. I don’t think the public knows an exact figure, but I think it’s pretty well known that it’s in the ballpark of those you quoted and that is the death knell of wind and solar.

      It’s very easy to say that people must “bite the bullet”, harder to convince them – for a great many people that kind of extra expense would entail choosing between heat and food/medicine/other necessities.

  27. It is almost unbelievable.
    The climategate emails reveal the bias, exaggeration, activism and distortion of climate scientists, and their attempts to discredit, silence and denounce anyone who dares to question them.
    And the response from the likes of Scott Mandia? Carry on doing the same, but even more so.

  28. Too many of the major players in climate science/politics are guilty of having made highly damaging remarks that are then thrown back at them ad infinitum.

    Pachauri with his “Voodoo Science” comment
    John Houghton with his ‘diasasters’ comment
    Phil Jones: “Why should I make my data available to you when your only objective is to find something wrong with it?”

    These kinds of statements (and there are many more) coupled with apathy from democratically elected governments not wanting to commit electoral suicide and inactivity on emissions cuts fron China/India/Brazil means that the climate debate isn’t likely to develop beyond it’s current level regardless of attempts to regain public trust in the science.

    • Actually, Houghton’s “disasters” comment (“Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen.”) was never made by him.

      • Is your purpose here specifically for misinformation and misdirection, Derech064?

        Have a guess who said this?: “If we want a good environmental policy in the future we’ll have to have a disaster. It’s like safety on public transport. The only way humans will act is if there’s been an accident.”

        To me, that looks like a “disasters” comment, per Paul Jarvis above.

      • Darn, you beat me to it!


        I knew that Derecho64 wouldn’t be able to resist.

      • It’s not clear by Jarvis’ comment which of Houghton’s comments (real or otherwise) which have the word “disaster” in them (never mind the misspelling) to which Jarvis was referring.

      • And that, Derech064, is why your invention is so egregious in its misdirection. You quote a FAKE quote, and then state correctly that Houghton never said it. Your behaviour is insidious.

      • I took Jarvis’ one-word clue at its face value. My apologies.

        Houghton’s other “disaster” comment is valid nonetheless.

      • The real Houghton quote is no less morally dubious than the misquote based on it.

      • We humans have a long history of being bloodied by nature despite knowing full well that it’s a matter of “when”, not “if”. Do you disagree?

      • Astute readers understand the context of the ‘real’ quote, e.g. http://mind.ofdan.ca/?p=2873

        There doesn’t seem to be anything ‘morally dubious’ about it.

      • Pat, the view you link doesn’t add anything to the context of the real quote and instead compounds the issue with more finger-pointing.

        Houghton’s own clarification is better. Of course it is up to the individual to subjectively determine for themselves whether Houghton betrayed his true feeling in his original real quote or are willing to accept his clarification. Either way, it seems quite apparent that many climate scientists, not just sceptics, took his meaning to be in the way Houghton says his quote was not intended, and instead took it to parallel Schneider’s assertion: “On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, means getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. This “double ethical bind” we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.”

        The point being, of course, that climate sceptics will always assert that there should be no conflict, and that value judgements should not influence scientific expression. What is demonstrable in science is scientifically demonstrable. Concealing or downplaying uncertainty is dishonest and is not acceptable, neither is inflating the apparent veracity of results or the cutting, splicing and smoothing of disparate series to create an illusion of integrity.

        It is not enough to simply hope to be both effective and honest, a scientist has an absolute obligation to the scientifically honest truth, whether it be in support of or in the face of the scientist’s personal ideology. Any compromise at all is at the expense of scientific integrity.

      • Simon (below – can’t reply directly) –

        Point taken.

        And thanks for the link to Houghton’s letter, and for giving the full Schneider quote, rather than the usual excerpt.

      • I agree with Simon, especially his last comment:

        “It is not enough to simply hope to be both effective and honest, a scientist has an absolute obligation to the scientifically honest truth, whether it be in support of or in the face of the scientist’s personal ideology. Any compromise at all is at the expense of scientific integrity.”

        If only some of the “skeptic” scientists would take this guideline to heart. Singer, for example.

      • Pat.

        Here is an actual scan of the newspaper article in which Houghton stated:

        “If we want a good environmental policy in the future we’ll have to have a disaster.”


        This was in the print edition of the Sunday Telegraph on 10 September 1995.

        What you link to is utter rubbish.

      • Paul – See my response to Simon above, and the link he provides.

    • simon abingdon

      Seeing the possessive its with an apostrophe is a constant source of despair, not knowing when “if” takes the subjunctive (“If I had done this” not “If I would have done this” plain ignorant), but not spelling someone’s name correctly is not just careless, it’s bad manners. Time to sharpen up.

  29. Perhaps the most irritating statement in apologies for Climategate and elsewhere are the references to “scientists” as synonymous with acceptance of AGW. This leaves the impression that there are no “scientists” who question AGW; only us lunatics do. “Settled science” and “consensus” seems to have had the intended effect on the media at least.

    The media and the public need to know that climate scientists are not all of the same opinion and in fact there are more than just two opinions on what is going on with modern climate. It would seem then that the most important task is to get across the message that there is a big, valid scientific argument in addition to the political one.

    • Yes, it’s the structural and semantic similarity to “priests” that people pick up on and reject. Or laugh at, in my case.

  30. Willis Eschenbach

    Judith, you say:

    The anniversary of Climategate has engendered much reflection on the climate change issue, specifically with regard to communicating and engaging with the public.

    This is the problem. Instead of engendering much reflections among climate scientists regarding the shabby, slipshod nature of the scientific work being done in the field, you still seem to think that the problem is in “communicating and engaging with the public.”

    One of the people you quote approvingly says:

    The new direction is not to become more political and confrontational on the national stage, but to seek opportunities for greater public interaction, dialogue, and partnerships in communities across the country.

    His “new direction” is also, very obviously, don’t improve the science, just focus on the communication. And in response to this, Judith, you say:

    There is much that individual climate scientists and the climate establishment can learn from what Nisbet and Hooke have to say.

    Look, Judith, let me be very blunt. Much of what passes for climate science is unmitigated tripe. Look at the ludicrous claims about the Sunburnt Whales the other day. Published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, no less …

    And as long as mainstream AGM activists keep turning out that kind of garbage and none of the AGM establisment says a word, the public will keep holding their nose and turning away REGARDLESS OF HOW YOU PACKAGE IT!!!

    You guys don’t seem to get it. No matter how well you might communicate about it, no matter how well you package it, rotten garbage stinks. And the smell comes through despite all of their fancy packaging, and despite it being published by the oh-so-respectable Royal Society, and despite all of their communication skills.

    So go ahead, Judith, play your games about “engaging the public” all you want. The problem is not that the public is disengaged. The problem is that we still have our sense of smell, and unlike most AGW mainstream scientists, we’re not afraid to use our noses …

    So you can pretend, as does Bill Hooke, that the problem is that the message is bad, that communication is inadequate, that the story is being told too loudly, that the framing or the content is being presented incorrectly, or that you aren’t presenting all of the policy options.

    But that’s not the issue. The issue is that far too much of the AGW mainstream science stinks … and as long as folks have noses, I fear that your continuing fascination with the “message” will be fruitless and pointless. The options are simple. Fix the science, and the bad smell will go away. Keep talking about how to “engage the public”, and the smell will be there for a long, long time.

    Your choice …

    • Is there any climate science that passes your BS detector, Willis?

      • Not enough to be worth saving, since it’s all knotted together with shabby procedures and blood-thirsty advocacy.

      • Thanks for filling me in on your stance. Now let’s see what Willis says.

      • Do you think the study about sun burnt whales helps prove that CO2 is good science?

      • Proof reading is a great idea:
        Do you think the study claiming whales are getting sun burnt due to CO2 is an example of good science?

    • “And as long as mainstream AGM activists keep turning out that kind of garbage and none of the AGM establisment says a word, the public will keep holding their nose and turning away REGARDLESS OF HOW YOU PACKAGE IT!!!”

      Hit the Nail on the Head as usual Willis.

      ClimateGate is a symptom of the real problem and, until the true cause is openly addressed and fixed, there isn’t any logical way to fix the infant discipline Climate Science until it chooses grows up and fix itself.

      All this polarized dialogue avoids the true cause of the problem — Climate Science does not have, nor will it ever have, a solid foundation in the Sciences until it establishes one. IPCC in the face of this 101 mistake is a joke.

      • What does the IPCC have to do with climate science itself? It’s merely an assessment of the science – there are literally hundreds of papers that are used to create the IPCC assessments. Are you saying that every single one of those papers is garbage?

      • IPCC is an international test of the integrity of the discipline Climate Science. So far, its failed to establish the discipline and impart integrity, credibility, and trust. Why fund it if the discipline is a mess?

        Need I say more?

      • The IPCC isn’t where the science is, you know. Getting rid of the IPCC (never mind that its cost is negligible) won’t change the science.

      • The amazing IPCC putty is interesting. It ism when things are good for the AGW community, the best source of cliamte science and the state of the art of the coming calamity available. But when the IPCC is challenged, it is of course, according to the apologists, not where the science is.
        The mutable, morphing IPCC: unchallengeable and unquestionable.

      • What does the IPCC have to do with climate science itself? It’s merely an assessment of the science…[snip]

        No, it’s science + greenpeace and WWF advocacy as per some of the opinion papers quoted etc as if they were peer reviewed science. Science plus advocate’s opinions isn’t science, nor an assessment thereof. It’s advocacy tarted up pretending to be consensus.

      • You’re adding an interesting point but if Climate Science was capable of monitoring its “Science” would it have allowed the IPCC to gum-up the Science with junk from Greenpeace, WWF advocacy, and politics?

      • You’re speaking of the WG2 and WG3 reports. What of the science in WG1? Is it utter garbage too?

      • Be glad that the WWF has not reached into the WG1, although you got your hockey stick in there. So, there you go.

    • > The problem is not that the public is disengaged. The problem is that we still have our sense of smell

      Willis, you speak as if you are the mouthpiece of public opinion. Surrounding yourself with likeminded people will give that impression, but don’t mistake insular groupthink as being representative of the wider public.

      I am “the public” also, and I find most opinion expressed at eg. WUWT to be vacuous tripe.

      There is a large swathe of the public who, frankly, don’t give a toss, or have no particularly strong opinion. Anyone I’ve met in the flesh who expresses doubts in passing has done so on the basis of personal confusion over media reports and political campaigning they perceive as being at best 50/50, if not outright damning of AGW. Either that or having read Michale Crichton a few years back and not paying any attention to the subject since. I know there are militant anti-AGW campaigners out there because they’re clogging up the internet, but the reasonable people I meet on a daily basis bear absolutely no relation to your little rant against “the science”.

      Indeed, for people who are not directly engaging with science, any actual changes in the science itself are meaningless – it is all about the way the science is presented through mass media and political activism.

      If there has been any shift in public opinion away from acceptance of AGW, it has not been because an engaged “public” have trawled en masse through stolen emails that offended their sensibilities. Rather it has been in no small part because mass media representation has increasingly tended towards the controversial angle and thus influenced public opinion among the don’t cares and don’t knows. Such shifts in opinion are transient things and subject to the whims and fashions of reportage.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Dave H | November 24, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Reply


        The problem is not that the public is disengaged. The problem is that we still have our sense of smell

        Willis, you speak as if you are the mouthpiece of public opinion. Surrounding yourself with likeminded people will give that impression, but don’t mistake insular groupthink as being representative of the wider public.

        Gosh, Dave, how could I have missed that wider public support for AGW activists? I mean, there is such a visible public groundswell in favor of the climate scientists. And they and the IPCC are held in such high regard by the public. And the public thinks that climate change is absolutely the most important issue we have on our plates. And meanwhile, Judith is wearing out her fingers trying to fix the problem …

        You know, the problem? The problem that you say is not happening? The problem I’m not in touch with? You do remember that problem, the one that is the subject of this whole thread? The problem that the “wider public” still has a nose, and is offended by the stench of bad science?

        You should try using yours sometime, the results might surprise you …

        PS – I do not “surround myself with like-minded people”, that is a bizarre fantasy on your part. I get stacks of disagreement with every post, not to mention outright fantasies such as yours. I post on a variety of sites around the web, many of which are filled with a wide range of people, people who know more than I do and people who know less, people who think I’m wrong, people who think I’m right, and far too many folks who are apparently as relentlessly logical as yourself. How is that mix of folks “like minded” in any sense of the word?

        You really should get out more, Dave. Because at present, you are like a blind man describing a sunset … we know you have the requisite passion to do it, and the requisite heart to care about it … it’s the ability to use your senses that is in question.

      • Got that one right to : )

        “Indeed, for people who are not directly engaging with science, any actual changes in the science itself are meaningless – it is all about the way the science is presented through mass media and political activism.”

        Yours is based an assumption the “People” haven’t been awakened to the ignorance. Sorry to disappoint but the polls indicate the “People” agree something, related to the poorly stated “Science”, needs to be addressed but we “ARE NOT” willing to pay (get taxed) for the tragic “Science” and ignorant propositions.

        The resolution awakes a hero who simply doesn’t currently exist.

      • Bunk.
        AGW is in trouble because, as someone pointed out, the public may not understand physics, but they know the smell of bs.

  31. Continuing http://judithcurry.com/2010/11/24/engaging-the-public-on-the-climate-change-issue/#comment-14792

    Holle says the effects of the CO2 increase are too small to measure, not the increase itself, so Keeling is irrelevant. As far as Keeling is concerned the primary issue is not his work, but prior levels (although his work is questioned). AGW takes these from ice cores, which have known problems. Beck on the other hand cataloged 90,000 CO2 readings at much higher levels. Therein lies the dispute.

    Please don’t argue the specifics of the example because my point is simply that there is an argument. You need to show how there is no argument, if you can, given that the argument stands before us.

    • Beck’s readings were not well-controlled and were specific to a location and time. That infamous plot showing CO2 concentrations skewing in huge magnitudes all over the place prior to 1957 and then magically settling down to the Keeling curve beggars belief. For one thing, can the global climate system absorb and release carbon at the volumes necessary for Beck’s measurements to be accurate, and, what has happened to those mechanisms in the last few decades?

      The problems with ice cores (an oblique reference to Jaworowski?) pale in comparison to using Beck’s data as valid and correct.

      • Now you are arguing the example, which only proves that the science is debatable, which is my claim. Ice core uncertainties versus local sample uncertainties. This is a paradigm scientific debate, is it not?

        Perhaps you are claiming metaphorically that the science is not debatable, in the sense that the debate has been won by one side (yours). Is that what you mean? Because it is obvious that there is a debate. It is like saying that there is no contest when a strong team plays a weak one, but actually there is a contest.

        Or are you claiming that there is literally no debate, despite all these people debating? You are very good at not being clear.

      • There are certain facts that are not under debate. The nature of CO2 as a GHG for one. That CO2 has increased (despite Beck’s weird analysis to the contrary) is another, as is the fact that the burning of fossil fuels has been a very significant cause of said increase.

        Sure, you can find folks who dispute the above, but they range from the ignorant to utter cranks. That’s about it.

        There are other foundational facts of the science that also cannot be reasonably disputed. Those that do have the same issues as I just mentioned.

      • So?
        Increase in CO2 does not mean global climate disruption is a real threat.

      • I see. So you claim is that there is no “reasonable dispute” not that there is no dispute. And what is reasonable is apparently up to you. That does not work. The dispute is there to be seen. It is a scientific question how much there is.

      • You’re making the same mistake some journalists make – that all disputes are legitimate ones. Would you claim that Beck’s historical CO2 concentrations are reasonable? I’ve already pointed out at least one problem with them. What’s your answer to that problem?

      • I think the debate over Beck’s work is entirely reasonable, and I am an expert on complex reasoning. Beck’s data is real and that is sufficient to raise the issue and create the debate. But the mistake you make is claiming that the mere fact that you have a counter argument makes Beck’s claims somehow unreasonable (as opposed to making them false). I don’t have to answer the problem you raise to show that this is a genuine scientific dispute (but there is in fact a well known counter argument to yours). Your arguing with Beck is sufficient.

        Beck’s data (90,000 measurements) suggest that CO2 levels oscillate naturally, like all the other climate parameters. There is nothing unreasonable about this possibility. The ice core data suggest that they do not oscillate. There are well known arguments both ways, concerning how the data was taken, the reliability of the measurements on both sides, etc. Any objective person looking at this debate would say it is a genuine uncertainty, that is, a scientific debate. The fact that it would falsify AGW if it were true does not make it unreasonable.

        In short, AGW does not define the limits of rationality, which is what you are basically arguing. Having a counter argument does not make the debate go away, it just makes the debate real. RealClimate does this too, by the way. In fact I call it the RealClimate fallacy. They think that just because they have an argument they win the debate, so the debate is over and the science is settled. That is not how debate, or science, works.

      • Beck’s data may be real, but is his interpretation correct? I can take measurements of solar insolation starting at sunrise and ending at local noon, extrapolate it into the future, and then claim the earth will be melted in a short time. Is that the correct interpretation? The data is correct and accurate.

        There are many problems with assuming that Beck’s measurements are valid in the same way that Keeling’s are. I’ve already mentioned one.

  32. “After the release of the CRU emails, these strategies resulted in what Fred Pearce has referred to as the “anatomy of a public relations disaster.””

    Yes, ‘ClimateGate’ was just a cynical PR stunt.

    • Click your heels three times and say, ‘There is no climategate’.
      Blaming the skeptics for what the e-mails say is a pretty big stretch, even for the truest of believers.
      Pretending the ‘investigations’ exonerated anyone, or even seriously reviewed anything, is an even bigger stretch.
      Click those heels, close your eyes, and plug your ears.

  33. When climate scientists as a community demonstrate that they are incapable of acknowledging that work like Mann’s (and Rahmstorf’s pathetically egregious “worse than we thought!” joke) are bad science, the self-correction feature of science is fatally broken. When an area of science has been so infected by politics that the critical self-correcting feature doesn’t work, that area of science is in serious trouble. It has become rotten. Climate science has been suffering from this rot for a long time, so long in fact that some even demand that their conclusions be accepted on faith without possibility of replication or audit!

    Judy, if you want to reflect on how bad the rot is, contemplate for a moment the morality of those who say that their work requires billions of people to incur massive costs to their property and freedom, yet refuse to give those same people an opportunity to review said work. Hubris hardly suffices as a worthy description for such arrogance. We’ll need a new vocabulary for such people.

    That type of arrogance won’t be cured by a new PR strategy. And a science community that cannot acknowledge the incompetence within cannot produce science of a quality sufficient to move the world to action. Fix the science by eliminating the incompetent. Fix the abominable arrogance. Stop the slander of anyone who disagrees. Then, and only then, will climate science have any hope of moving forward.

  34. Judith,

    I think I’m with those who don’t think it is at heart a ‘communications’ problem. Unless the relatively stable pattern of the last decade or so shifts, and we return to steady warming increases, democratically elected governments will deal with the real problems they have. In most of the developed world, the problem for the near future is energy, indeed, basic grid power, and the demand on it.

    Our economies are critically dependent on reliable electric power, as is this Internet conversation. For a variety of reasons, some of them political, there has been little development of the basic grid in the last fifteen years. The UK is said to be close to the brown-out stage. Governments have to ensure that the supply is adequate, and that means building more plants. They will have to justify that in some way. Wind and solar can’t do it. It will have to be coal or gas. Nuclear is an obvious possibility, but it won’t produce anything quickly.

    Our governments will have to explain why they are building/approving new power stations, and they will change the terms of the debate. Our federal government is already talking about ‘energy efficiency’ and not ‘combatting climate change’. Indeed, the latter term is slipping off the radar here, I think. We seem to slated for a coolish wet summer in Oz because of the current la Nina, and if the weather stays cool it will be hard for the AGW orthodoxy to get much spin from the prevailing weather.

    To me the public debate about AGW, let lone CAGW, is simply diminishing in size and noise. I am a little surprised that the heat seems so much greater in the US. But it is some time since I lived and worked there.

  35. I agree with Don Aitkin’s summary above, at least for Aus

    Countless public opinion polls constantly tell us two things:

    1) a majority (perhaps a bare majority) of the public want this “climate thing” fixed – they have become tired of being scared


    2) they want someone else to pay for it

    This is why the policy area is such a mess – the contradiction noted here is destroying politician after politician. Advocates like D64, who want a “revenue-neutral” carbon tax (which in itself is an oxy-moron) do not grasp number 2) above

    • I completely understand the desire to foist the costs of social goods onto others besides oneself.

      • Then you think the AGW community should be defunded of all public money?

      • Yes, but the point is that this issue is the sticking point – you persistently refuse to recognise that

        Ho hum

  36. Stephen Pruett

    Sharperoo has missed a very important point, and this should not go unchallenged. Skeptics do not simply disregard or even disbelieve all publications in climate science, and if he doesn’t know that, he hasn’t been paying attention. They do feel free to dispute some of the findings and to dispute the “high confidence” (which is based on nothing but “expert opinion”) in which IPCC holds a number of questionable conclusions. On balance, it seems to me that the serious skeptics (and the lukewarmers) hold more closely with the Baconian ideal of objectivity in science than most climate scientists.

    I taught part of course on the philosophy and ethics of research, and initially I liked Kuhn’s characterization of science because much of it rang true in terms of my experiences. However, I am becoming more and more convinced that the ideal of objectivity and letting the data drive the work as put forward by Bacon would be better for science in the 21st century. Granted, true objectivity is not really possible, but heading back in that direction as an ideal would be a good idea.

  37. It seems to me both Nisbet and Hooke have taken the science-is-settled meme as basic premise in their comments on communication. Their concern is how to communicate the certainty, NOT uncertainty. A distinction ought to be drawn.

  38. Surely 2 questions……
    1) Engaging the public on climate change (is it an issue at all)?

    2) Engaging the public on the MAN MADE climate change issue?

    throughout human history 1) has been important.
    2) currently is just CO2, could be tenths of a degree, making the AGW theory true, but not the alarmism.. then we have possible very real man made issues (regional at least) black soot, deforestation (chopping them down), etc,etc

    Or are we still at the Daily Mail/GMTV level

    an Opinion Poll – Do you believe in ‘climate change’ – yes/no

    see1) and 2) for how stupid that question is.

  39. The problem with scientist/activists is that they start investing their personal prestige, their career and on an emotional level in one side of the debate, or in one particular view.

    This leaves them in a position where any contrary piece of evidence or any contrary piece of research becomes a personal threat, needed to be defended against, thus making them totally immune to any argument contrary to their own position.

    For an emerging scientific field, it is a disaster if this is allowed to become the norm within the “establishment”. It is an effective block towards a greater understanding, which is what science should be all about.

  40. The second I hear someone claim “science is being attacked”, they lose all credibility. Science is a process for drawing conclusions by making a hypothesis and testing it. The hypothesis is “accepted” OVER TIME into the consensus paradigm when SUFFICIENT evidence and SUFFICIENT testing have convinced all significant stakeholders that it is the only credible, non falsified solution to the question available AT THAT TIME. There are still proponents of continuous creation. No one claims they are attacking science. Why not? No one is threatened by them because the consensus paradigm for the big bang is well entrenched both culturally and scientifically. Science always wins because science is just the rational reflection of reality. A scientist can safely ignore “attacks” on his hypothesis because the truth always wins eventually. If you think Lindzen is wrong about clouds, you don’t have to claim he is attacking science, just wait him out. The problem is that it may not win on the time line of policy advocates. Because there are trillions of dollars potentially wasted and/or billions of lives potentially at risk, the scientists cross the line from scientist to advocate. They are attempting to enforce a consensus paradigm on dissenter scientists and other societal stakeholders. They only need to do so because their “consensus” isn’t truly complete. By claiming that they are defending “science” by attacking critics, they sow the seeds of distrust and defeat. Science doesn’t need defending, in the long run it is invincible. Policies involving affecting money, politics and resources do not have that same advantage. Every scientist I hear “pimping” science to promote a policy objective, sows this doubt: “If he/she can’t be honest about what they are defending (funding, status, policy) then why should I trust anything they say?”

    • “If he/she can’t be honest about what they are defending (funding, status, policy) then why should I trust anything they say?”

      JonMChe: That’s what I keep coming back to and it’s a point that climate change advocates won’t directly address. I can’t tell if they even notice.

      Instead they pretend that the abuses exposed by Climategate somehow didn’t happen or were part of the vast plot against climate science and then they become indignant, and I just have to shrug.

      Most of the wounds climate science has suffered have been self-inflicted.

      • “If he/she can’t be honest about what they are defending (funding, status, policy) then why should I trust anything they say?”

        JonMChe:That’s what I keep coming back to and it’s a point that climate change advocates won’t directly address. I can’t tell if they even notice.

        OK, I’ll address it. The point fails because the premise is wrong.

      • andrew adams: Did the emails not expose top climate scientists discussing and possibly deleting data and emails, evading FOI requests, and rigging peer review and blogging discussions?

        Are climate scientists not funded to the tune of $2 billion/year while complaining that Exxon threw $2 million/year to various groups, including Stanford, as though this proved a major conspiracy to suppress climate change, while ignoring their own funding — which exceeds that of physics and chemistry and depends on the alarmist implications of climate change?

        As I’ve said before, I used to defend climate change until I learned about Climategate and looked more deeply into how climate change scientists operate.

        Because of these things, I do not trust climate science as it is currently constituted. I am not alone in this. Aside from Judith Curry, I see no other scientists and few advocates addressing these matters.

        Of course, my tiny bit of distrust will not affect climate science directly, but as a citizen, voter and taxpayer I will oppose the climate change agenda, I will seek to have its funding reduced, and I support criminal investigation of climate scientists who take federal funding but do not comply with FOI requests and accountability for how those funds are spent.

      • Huxley,

        andrew adams: Did the emails not expose top climate scientists discussing and possibly deleting data and emails, evading FOI requests, and rigging peer review and blogging discussions?

        I don’t really care what people discussed in emails, I want evidence that they actually acted improperly before I condemn them. It certainly seems that they did not respond properly to FOI requests and should have been more open with their date (within the limits of the confidentiality agreements) but we don’t know that any emails deleted (although it was certainly improper for Jones to suggest it) and there is no evidence whatsoever that any data was deleted. Nor do we know that the peer review system or blogging discussion were “rigged” (apart from when “skeptics” rigged the peer review system at Climate Research of course) .

        Are climate scientists not funded to the tune of $2 billion/year while complaining that Exxon threw $2 million/year to various groups, including Stanford, as though this proved a major conspiracy to suppress climate change, while ignoring their own funding — which exceeds that of physics and chemistry and depends on the alarmist implications of climate change?

        Research into climate costs money, especially keeping those satellites in the sky. There is nothing even remotely suspicious about scientists being funded for doing neccessary research and they certainly don’t get rich from it. There is nothing wrong per se with oil companies funding research or information on climate change – it is an area in which they have a legitimate interest. It is when the results of their research turns out to be dodgy or they are funding misinformation that it becomes a problem. My view is that we should always consider people’s arguments first – if they are legitimate then it doesn’t matter how they are funded. If they are wrong and it turns out they are funded by those who have an economic or political interest then it is perfectly legitimate to point it out.

        As I’ve said before, I used to defend climate change until I learned about Climategate and looked more deeply into how climate change scientists operate.

        Being concerned by Climategate is one thing, sure there was stuff in there which looked bad at first glance. But unquestioningly accepting the worst possible interpretation of the emails is something else. And it only concerned a very small number of scientists, do have any evidence that misconduct is commonplace amongst climate scientists in general? And say you used to defend climate change then presumably you used to accept the scientific arguments for AGW. But those haven’t changed – the radiative properties of CO2 have not changed because what was said in an email. Look, I can understand how people might have their faith in scientists dented by Climategate, but going from defending AGW to portraying the whole of climate science as corrupt and dishonest? I just don’t buy it.

      • andrew adams: Perhaps an analogy may help.

        We have priests discussing having sex with parishioners. We have priests refusing to dispense the sacraments to people they don’t like. Furthermore these priests aren’t low-level types out in the hinterlands. These priests are cardinals in the Vatican.

        Now we don’t know if they actually had sex because there was no serious investigation. We do know that the sacrament were not dispensed in some cases.

        Apparently this doesn’t bother you much unless you see the videotapes of the sex parties or the cardinals convicted in court or something. That’s your call.

        For me, it’s enough that these cardinals even talk about these things seriously to disqualify them in my eyes as priests. That’s not how priests act and if they do, they had better apologize deeply and sincerely and accept demotion.

        If the other cardinals know about it and do nothing or make excuses, well that’s no good either. I’m leaving this church until they make amends and renew their commitments.

        I don’t condemn all climate science as corrupt and dishonest, but clearly they can’t police what corruption and dishonesty is plainly before them.

        I don’t trust them, and neither you nor anyone else here has given me reason to trust except to say it’s not quite that bad.

        It’s bad enough for me. That’s my call.

      • Ummm, scientists aren’t priests and if you think scientists deal with other only on the most urbane and utterly rational level, well, scientists in your universe must be Mr. Spock. In reality, they’re humans – and even humans who are jerks do good science. You should read up on how Newton treated Leibniz. Doesn’t mean Newton’s science was wrong because he was an ass. Steve Easterbrook has a nice essay:


      • H’mm. A few logical problems here.

        ‘Humans who are jerks do good science’

        All humans who are jerks do good science?
        Only humans who are jerks do good science?
        All good scientists are jerks?

        Still at least you admit that some scientists are jerks. The rest of the world worked this out on or about 20 November 1999.

      • Why did you leave out the word “even”, which your deletion entirely changes the statement I made?

        There’s no necessary connection between being nice and being a good scientist – as anyone who knows how science works will readily accept.

        And yes, some scientists are jerks – doesn’t mean their science is suspect as a result. If this is news to you, then you don’t know science at all.

      • Yes, it does, if their jerkiness relates to how they do research, handle and share data, and manipulate the old boy network to suppress dissent.

        Those kinds of jerks are hugely destructive to science, no matter how many articles their peer-pal friends have helped them publish.

      • andrew adams: As to funding, my point is that after climatologists started ringing alarm bells about global warming, the money floodgates opened and climatology went from being a slimly funded backwater of science to the most lavishly funded field in science.

        Again, that would not have happened without the alarms. I’m saying that there is a built-in bias in climate science to be alarming.

        As a software engineer who rode out the dotcom boom (and actually made some money from it) I will tell you that a huge influx of cash changes the people involved. They become arrogant and disconnected with reality. They certainly do not question the basics of their work that brought in the money.

        How many dotcom CEOs said, “I’m sorry but I don’t think we can justify our worth in the market?” The answer to that question is zero.

      • “Most lavishly funded”?

        Do you have proof of that?

      • Ummm, climate scientists aren’t funded at “$2 billion/year”. A huge chunk of that pays for satellites and satellite operations. They have uses other than climate science.

      • Derecho64: I got the $2 billion/year from “The Long Thaw” by David Archer. And it is for research, not running satellites. The closest web cite I can find is ‘Unprecedented’ 2-Year Decline for U.S. Science Funds .

        At this point I consider you a troll whom I will ignore unless you quote my words directly when you disagree and supply cites that support what you say.

      • You need to be more specific and definitive. You claimed “Are climate scientists not funded to the tune of $2 billion/year”. Provide proof.

        Show me the money.

      • Care to expand a little on that?

        There are quite a few of us here who disagree with you. Would you like to lay out your reasons for saying that ‘the premise is wrong?’. Like a good scientist would?

        Or are we just to understand that you have spoken on the matter and should all accept your word as gospel? Like any good scientist wouldn’t.

        Your call. Your credibility is all that is at stake.

    • The second I hear someone claim “science is being attacked”, they lose all credibility. Science is a process for drawing conclusions by making a hypothesis and testing it.

      That’s all very well except you should consider the following …

      [url=http://judithcurry.com/2010/11/24/engaging-the-public-on-the-climate-change-issue/#comment-14706]David Wojick[/url] wrote: However it is quite rational to be skeptical of claims that contradict one’s beliefs, otherwise one could not have beliefs.

      There is nothing quite like attacking another person’s “belief” to bolster their own viewpoint in their own eyes.

      Attacking the credibility of science because of ‘climategate’ has the psychological effect of bolstering the scientist’s opinion that their work and methods are correct.

      Criticizing science has the irrational consequence of encouraging scientists to be more confident in their original assertions than they might otherwise be.

      Scientists are expected to accommodate and overcome their inescapable subjective experience. Seems that many simply dug a deeper hole for hiding their heads.

      • Well said.
        The strategy of pretending climategate indicates nothing negative about climate science is losing more the more it is chosen.

      • Raving: I do not see how what you say follows from what I said, or is even related to it. I said that one should be skeptical of claims that contradict one’s beliefs (especially one’s presumed knowledge). This in no way implies that such claims should strengthen one’s beliefs. That would be irrational.

      • What a shocker eh …

        Most scientists are irrational
        Most scientists are just like most people…

        When attacked they dig in, embrace and defend their belief with renewed vigor and grit determination.

        Next, you will be suggesting that scientists lack ego and aren’t vain because being in such a frame of mind would be irrational.

        Need I remind you of this classic encounter? Both sides couldn’t be more dug in and digging deeper if they were using back hoes.

  41. CO2 didn’t begin to rise much until 100 years ago. If you look at these temperature reconstructions, you can see the temp began rising 50- 300 years before 1910 in many cases. This does not support CO2 as the only factor in recent warming and the trend of warming is pretty much linear in many cases from the beginning of the uptrend. So the temperature in many cases led the rise in CO2. This isn’t definitive, but is grounds for skepticism.


  42. When I see the rapid response team concept, all that comes to mind of scientific “Wack-a-Mole”. These people are coming at this as if they have all the correct answers. There are legitimate skeptical climate scientists that have a different interpretation of the data. These climate scientists need to be debating the “consensus” climate scientists in a moderated debate, perferably by someone very knowledgeable in the field. Roger Pielke Sr. has started this to a limted extent on his blog. Much more of this is needed and it should be done serially to deal with new lessons learned over time. If the “consensus” scientists win the debates on the technical issues, the public will follow. The only sure way to keep losing public support for the consensus climate science position is to keep refusing to debate as Ms. Oreskes did with Fred Singer just this past week.

    • S. Fred Singer is too corrupt and wrong to be worthy of a debate.

      He’s one (along with Monckton) I wouldn’t want on my side.

      • Yet Singer was one of the early climate scientists.

      • I know Fred well and have worked with him many times. He is a grand gentleman and quite honest. He is also right most of the time (since we are now doing argument by assertion I simply say this).

      • Any scientist who takes tobacco industry money and then states (as scientific fact) what that industry wants to hear isn’t a credible scientist any longer. Seeing as how Singer has done just that, his credibility is nil.

      • Your credibility after using this canard is minus several million. Off the scale in fact.

      • It’s not a canard. Singer took tobacco money and then made statements, claiming them as scientific, that protected tobacco corporate profits against the public health. I call that corrupt. What do you call it?

      • I call it honest work defending industrial clients from people like you. The tobacco issue was second hand smoke, which is still controversial. I myself have “taken money from,” that is done studies for, both coal and oil interests. I sought them out because I wanted to do the research necessary to protect them from the enviros, whom I have been fighting since 1968. It is all one long battle to me, and to Fred: stopping the green menace.

        There is nothing dishonest about it. I do not have my opinion because they pay me, rather they pay me because I have knowledge they need to defend themselves agaisnt people like you. Same for Fred. It is an adversarial system in which people, and firms, have to defend themselves. The environmental movement is a major threat to industry, an by extension to humanity. Happily I am winning at last.

      • Good grief

      • Thanks for letting us know where you’re coming from.

        No wonder you don’t see Singer taking money to protect profits at the cost of lives as a problem.

      • David – I am happy there exist people such as you because we are up against a government fund juggernaut that isn’t always very , or should I say seldom?,rational. The greens believe they hold the high ground because they are “saving the planet.” Well, they don’t and until the science is truly settled, the greens need to be contained.

      • Perhaps it’s the realization from industry that they can no longer treat the commons as a sewer is really what bothers them. Profits were so much easier when they could act like the aliens from “Independence Day” – swoop in, extract all that they value, and leave a wasteland behind that they don’t have to be bothered with. Some of these corporate interests would have been well-suited to being in the USSR.

      • The profits and jobs that go with those profits have propelled man from caves and tee pees to the highest standard of living of all time. Yep, those companies suck alright.

      • We’ve realized, none too soon, that you can’t just look at profits and jobs and declare the ledger well into the black.

        We’re back to the lack of recognition of negative externalities again.

      • The “negative externalities” frequently are not well defined and likely as not the government will want to impose some sort of tax. So, will the families of whatever fish were killed in the BP oil spill be compensated? No. The Gulf will recover, so those negative externalities really don’t much matter. Many of them are like that. Some aren’t, but you really have to examine them on a case by case basis. The good brought to mankind by profit-seeking far outweighs the external costs/risks. Look at just about any measure – life span, standard of living, you name it.

      • And of course, since the market cannot define negative externalities well, and since one means to address their very real nature is a government-imposed tax, it’s best to ignore them entirely, act as they don’t exist, and certainly avoid any taxes!

        The good brought to Europe by the post-1492 exploration and exploitation of the Americas was certainly high, but to claim that’s the entire story is missing more than a little.

      • It isn’t logical that the government should profit from negative externalities in every case. It’s a messy concept with no good solution. The more serious ones sometimes are handled in court. There there are negative externalities as a result of governments run amuck. Millions of people killed by murderous governments in Germany, China, and the Soviet Union. To my way of thinking, this is a far greater danger than a hodgepodge of ‘negative externalities.’ There are a lot worse things in the world than the NEs. I am suspicious that you latch onto them only as a means to extract money from your fellow citizens to apply to one of your favorite causes or another.

      • Your credibility would be higher if you’d leave out the “commies under every bed” nonsense and the suspicions about my motives. Sheesh.

      • Whatever you say. Just saying there are many things much worse in the world than the side effects of capitalism and individual freedom.

      • Your credibility would be higher if you’d leave out the “commies under every bed” nonsense

        Yeah but the Chicommies are still card carrying commies and they are big players in this AGW game.

        They might not be under your bed but they are probably in your T.V., your toaster and your fish & chips dinner. You can expect those Chicommies to start showing up in your new car, real soon as well.

        Communism is communism and also the essential cultural identity of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qin_Dynasty

      • Wasn’t the USSR and aren’t China responsible for some of the worst examples of industrial pollution ever? How can you claim that ‘greenies’ want to turn the rest of the world into replicas of these?

        You don’t have to be a commie to see that there are some problems with unrestricted fossil fuel use.

      • @Louise

        ‘Wasn’t the USSR and aren’t China responsible for some of the worst examples of industrial pollution ever? ‘

        Certainly they were. And I don’t disagree with you that completely unrestricted fossil fuel use might bring some problems in its wake.

        But the advocates propose that to fix these relatively minor problems we need t adopt a political and economic model that is very similar to the one used in the Soviet Empire and China when the pollution you mention was caused.

        Absolute adherence to a single viewpoint – that which teh Party decreed to be true. Stringent penalties for dissent. Absolute statist central control. Strong secret police and the Army to make sure the Party’s wishes were carried out. High taxes, low individual income. Restrictions on all sorts of freedoms. Freedom of movement, freedom of religion, freedom of thought.

        I could keep on going. Just tell me (in detail) were this differs from teh requirements of a strong global central body to regulate and control carbon emissions according to the desires of the ruling elite of that body. I’ll be interested to read. Cheers.

      • LA;
        it gets worse when you consider that there are few or no selection criteria for these wannabe global managers; the strong likelihood is that they will be self-chosen from the elite of international agencies and allied bodies. No method of monitoring or dismissing them if they mess up has even been suggested.

        That’s tyranny with bells on, globe-sized.

      • Have no fear. I’m sure the feelings are mutual.

  43. Who would you accept, John Christy, Richard Lindzen, Roy Spencer or even Professor Pielke himself? My point is if consensus scientists refuse to debate, they will continue to loose the public. Many see the refusal to debate as an admission they don’t feel they’ll win. I want to see debate amoung competent people and I want to see how they each deal with the others’s technical argument. It will take many debates on many of climate science’s issues but I firmly believe it’s the only want to turn around public opinion.

    • The question is, does the public understand when someone like Lindzen claims that climate sensitivity is 1C or less? Technical science issues aren’t easily distilled to the general audience.

      • Derecho64: Well then, the scientists will have to do their best, won’t they?

        Else what are we to do? Ordinary citizens have to make decisions based on less than expert understanding all the time — every time they vote and every time they serve on a jury. That’s the way our form of government works. It’ s not perfect but it works well enough.

        The only alternative I can see is an authoritarian state that enforces a top-down climate policy.

        Otherwise, we are back to climate change scientists and advocates taking their case to the public and giving it their best shot, if they want the public to take action.

        Again, I’m not saying they must do so, but if they want action, I don’t see that they have much choice — other than changing the government.

        Complaining that the public isn’t smart enough or that skeptics are too fanatical or that there is vast conspiracy against climate science or that the media won’t report climate science always in a favorable light is just complaining.

        Frankly, these complaints sound like excuses to me, suggesting that the CC folks lack faith that they can prevail in a public battle of ideas on terrain they don’t control.

      • And we’re back to the Catch-22, again.

        You seem to think that it’s a trivial exercise for a scientist to go on TV and talk about their science, straight up, and that will work just dandy. Schneider had a lot of experience in exactly that, and he noted that it’s not as easy as you claim. Now, with “skeptics” prepared to denounce anything any climate scientist says, it’s even more difficult.

        Oh, and the deference to experts is a concept that itself is under attack, as there are those who claim that expertise is a sham and is little more than an excuse to protect the grant gravy train. You’ve neglected to appreciate that some in America resent knowledge in and of itself.

      • You’ve neglected to appreciate that some in America resent knowledge in and of itself.

        What? Really? So other countries don’t have ignoramuses? Thanks for that!

      • You’ve neglected to appreciate that some in America resent knowledge in and of itself.

        What? Really? So other countries don’t have ignoramuses? Thanks for that!
        We tend not to elect them to government though

      • I guess that is why the EU and some member countries is/are on the verge of collapse. Yep, you guys have some brilliant leaders over there.

      • They ain’t ‘my’ leaders either.

      • Which country would that be?

      • Not to worry. Managed to answer my own question.

        The Chicoms.

      • Greece, Ireland, Portugal, to name some that are in deep trouble. The US is in much deeper trouble than it would have been if not for the poser Obama. He posed as a moderate but turned out to be something between a socialist and communist. The sorts of programs Obama likes may be desired by Europeans, but we in the US like to do things differently.

      • Derecho64: You don’t know what I think and you repeatedly ignore what I say.

        I didn’t say it was trivial. I said scientists would have to do their best.

        Life is hard for any functioning adult in our society. It’s not fair and there are double-binds galore. Scientists don’t get an exemption, but they still have to do their best and, guess what, it still might not work out. Just like it is for the rest of us.

        And btw — you never answer my questions. What is your solution for climate scientists gaining public support?

      • It would be helpful if the media didn’t portray AGW as having a 50/50 split, and didn’t play up disputes as being between two evenly-matched sides. You and I know that that is untrue. It would also help that folks knew that “uncertain” and “ignorant” are not synonyms.

        Lastly, claims that all climate scientists are “frauds”, “criminals”, “shysters” and so on are utterly wrong. Certainly Feynman didn’t have to deal with being called things like that every time he said something.

      • So, basically, climate scientists need do nothing to gain public support. The rest of the world needs to adjust itself for the proper reception of the climate scientists’ message.

        And we all know that climate skeptics are always portrayed fairly and favorably in the media.

        As to Feynman, he might have had a harder row to hoe if he had been caught playing games like the Climategate Gang.

        Climate scientists have earned much of their disrespect.

      • Climate scientists have done their science – it’s those who perceive their science as a threat to their interests that have aided, abetted, and supported a campaign against the science and the scientists.

      • I used the term shyster and I stand by that. Climatologists refrerenced in the Climategate e-mails, some of whom were ‘leaders’ of their profession, are shown in them to have acted like shysters.

        Feynman didn’t have to deal with such remarks because he did not behave like a shyster. I will happily withdraw my remark if and when Climatologists stop behaving that way. Until that occurs – and all I see is a continuance, not a reformation – I will continue to use it.

      • Yeah. Life’s tough.Being an advocate for an unpopular position is tough.

        But there ain’t no Coup de Ville hiding at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box. You don’t have a god-given right to be heard, nor for your views to be accepted by all.

        And Joe Public pays almost no attention to whingers. Especially in the USA. Moaning that life is so hard for well-fed, well-warmed, well-educated scientists will not go down well in the poorer quarters where ragged people go. And each of their votes is worth the same as yours.

        Get over it. Get smarter at it or get out of the game. Engage with the issues that Joe sees, or give up.

      • It seems that the general public has enough knowledge to vote republican on every open seat they could fill this last election, and will do the same in two more years to clean out the CAGW house of cards.

        2012 both houses of congress and the White House as well, sweep the EPA under the rug, investigate the whole grant funds machine and the peer review process, And the UN de-funded.

      • The better question is why do so few cliamte scientists understand LIndzen?

  44. Judith, I’m interested in what students and recent gradutes in and out of climate science think about all of this. I hope you can write a piece on that topic one day.
    A happy holiday to you.

    • I think Dr. Curry already has a famous letter to grad students, or some such. Maybe someone can find a link. They are rightfully concerned with the political fury that has enveloped the discipline.

      • I found Steve Easterbrook’s response to be interesting.

      • Indeed.

        1. Deniers make insane claims that climate science is a conspiracy by shady science hucksters and their leftist media dupes to defraud the public of wealth and freedom. Easterbrook is making the antipodal insane claim that evil corporate interest funded deniers and their (right wing?) media dupes are part of a conspiracy to rob scientists of the ability to work.

        In sum, it’s idiot conspiracy vs idiot conspiracy. Equal and opposite stupidity cancel each other out.

        (Note that *sane* commentary isn’t conspiracy oriented.)

        2. Easterbrook seems to have no concept of the idea of the employee and employer relationship.

        To wit: Steve McIntyre is not a pest. Those who work in climate science and who are paid with TAXPAYER MONEY work for… drum roll… wait for it… have you guessed it yet?… the taxpayers. The very idea that FOIA is required for a taxpayer to see what s/he is paying for is patently offensive. Taxpayer funded data — especially that which is subject to being used to decide policy — belongs in the full light of public view, period. It belongs to the public. The public doesn’t need no steenkin’ FOIA.

        As for Easterbrook, the entire “pesky McIntyre” problem wouldn’t have even existed had Mann et al simply handed over the data THAT WE ALL PAID FOR when he was asked nicely.

        Executive summary: when I pay the bill, I’m the employer, and as such, I get to see the code and the data. I don’t have to ask nicely. If Easterbrook doesn’t like the conditions, he can work elsewhere.

      • Bullshit. You didn’t pay for any of the data. It was collected and paid for by national meteorological services around the world. The reason it couldn’t be released is that many of those services rely on revenue from that data to fund their operations, and hence have commercial licence agreements with the scientists who want to do research on it.

        Your sense of entitlement is ridiculous.

      • Your point is well-taken, Steve. Unless Mr. Alston is paying taxes in every nation on the planet that has a weather service, that is. I rather doubt that.

        I could be snide and point out that my taxes, which fund the US military, thereby entitle me to an hour’s ride in an F-18, but I won’t.

      • You didn’t pay for any of the data.

        1. If NASA or any other US taxpayer funded agency or fed funded university grant or US government contribution was involved, I certainly DID pay for it. Seems to me that even Hadley or the CRU or somesuch received US taxpayer money. I’m sure we could look it up.

        2. National Meteorological Services aren’t private companies. They are funded by taxes paid for by citizens of their respective countries. The data belongs to the people who paid for it, period.

        3. MY sense of entitlement? Crackpipe much? Spin it any way you like, but your salary is paid for by citizens, not mine. It is YOUR sense of entitlement that is offensive.

      • Interesting that the onset of this commercial prudishness on the part of the Hockey Team coincided precisely with the arrival of requests from people they considered hostile. They seem to have been unaware of these constraints when dealing with Believers, since the CRU emails show them happily batting them around. Do you have a plausible explanation?

        But since we’re on the subject, Judith, we could add to the list:

        *Data which cannot be divulged for commercial purposes are not fit for public use. Find other data, or persuade its owners that their best interests are served by letting you use it under public conditions.

  45. David,

    As a student in Atmospheric sciences, maybe I can provide insight into your question, or the type of program we have. I’m not quite sure what you’re looking for.

    • Somehow I bet we can guess at what you think on this already.

    • Hi Chris

      Thanks for the polite and helpful reply.

      As David hasn’t answered, I’d sure be interested to know what teaching (if any) students of climate science get in the scientific method and scientific ethics…and how these lessons are reinforced in their lectures and practical and essay work.

      When I was an undergraduate in Chemistry a long while back we had a compulsory lecture series on ‘History and Philosophy of Science’ during our first term (semester). At the time it seemed a bit of an imposition and kept us away from ‘more interesting’ work. But in recent years the lessons there have come back to be very relevant to the current discussions.

      And if there is no formal training in this field, do you think there should be? Especially in the light of recent events.

      When I was an undergraduate

  46. This is too good not to pass on—from HLX Nov 10 comment on Climate Audit:
    “I remember an incident on a business trip abroad. A government official had shown us a tiny tiny forest in her country (hint: county domain is .ch). After the guided tour, on the subject of relations between the governmental forest management and land owners, she had an absolutely magnificent statement:
    “I see that we in the government have to learn, just as do the landowners. We have to learn to tell them the truth in a better way, and they have get better at accepting that we are right.””

    That is what I see happening here. The AGW “climate scientists” are so sure that they are right, and therefore, it must be a communication problem that demands that they tell the “truth” in a “better way” . What they cannot seem to see is that it is not a problem with educating the peasants. Many of those peasants are more scientifically literate than they are ( sure, some are ignorant rednecks, but some of the AGW climate scientists are mediocre hacks) Just why, for example, do Steve McIntyre, and Holland have such extraordinary trouble getting reports using the FOI act?

    • What I take out of GW’s story is that it is not the whole public that has to be persuaded by the science, it is just the decision-makers. Not that that is any easier, but at least it is fewer people.

    • GW’s story hits on a point that occurred to me while sparring with D64.

      Sure, climate scientists have a tough role to play, but they are so certain that they are right that they must rig the game so they can win. Nothing else is acceptable.

      Hence, refusing FOI requests, playing games with the hockey stick, rigging peer review and blog discussions, harrumphing that no one else has the qualifications to pass judgment on client science, and so forth.

  47. Cosmic rays linked to rapid mid-latitude cloud changes
    B. A. Laken1,2, D. R. Kniveton1, and M. R. Frogley1
    1Department of Geography, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, England, BN1 9QJ, UK
    2Instituto de Astrof´ısica de Canarias, 38205 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
    Received: 7 June 2010 – Published in Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss.: 2 August 2010
    Revised: 16 November 2010 – Accepted: 18 November 2010 – Published: 24 November 2010


    I don’t think changes in cloud albedo linked to solar activity variation have been accounted for in GCM’s yet have they? :-)

  48. tb;
    Yes, all cloud and solar wind effects have been parametrized with zero coefficients.

  49. Now that Al Gore has admitted to causing untold human hunger and misery on a mistaken premise with his food to fuel conversion project, maybe he should be stripped of the Nobel Prize so it can be given to a real climate scientist such as Henrik Svensmark. After all, if Svensmark is correct, he will have saved the world from economic upheaval and countless pensioners from freezing to death under the fossil fuel ‘Green’ tariffs and taxes.

    That’s a novel climate story story the public would happily embrace.

  50. Judith Curry,

    In the movie “An Inconvenient Truth,” Al Gore used Naomi Oreskes’ results concerning the number of pro-AGW papers vs skeptical papers published in Nature and Science to sweep aside climate change skepticism. This sent a message not recognize any sort of “debate” about global warming, which was evidenced by mainstream climate scientists and other advocates refusing to debate skeptics.

    Are you saying that when an overwhelming majority of the published scientific literature relating to a particular issue points to the same conclusion then it is somehow improper to use this as evidence that this conclusion is correct?

    • Since it’s a logical fallacy called argumentum ad populam she probably is, yes.

      • I think ad populam is one part, but also there’s a mix of argumentum ad nauseum (the fallacy that repeating a claim enforces the claim), argumentum ad verecundiam (appeal to authority) and argumentum ad numeram (volume of support enhances veracity of the claim).

        The fallacies develop as a result of journal and academic ideological bias, as well as advocacy research funding, while refusal to debate protects and reinforces these established logical fallacies.

      • Citing published scientific literature in support of a scientific proposition is neither argumentum ad populam nor argumentum ad numeram, you can’t just reduce it to the status of an opinion poll.
        As for appeal to authority, well the wide body of literature has authority (although individual papers may be badly flawed), so although it would be wrong to say that because it supports AGW then AGW must be true it is still perfectly legitimate to present it as indicative of our current level of scientific understanding of the subject and evidence that the skeptical view is, rightly or wrongly, a minority one.

      • You conveniently skip over the cause of the establishment of these logical fallacies which is far better established through observation and deduction than the collective veracity of arguments advanced by flawed papers that you claim is authoritative.

        I would suggest that, as much as it is “perfectly legitimate to present [the body of AGW literature] as indicative of our current level of scientific understanding [..]”, it is also legitimate to present the same as indicative of our current lack of scientific understanding of the climate.

      • You conveniently skip over the cause of the establishment of these logical fallacies which is far better established through observation and deduction than the collective veracity of arguments advanced by flawed papers that you claim is authoritative.

        The literature is based on observation and deduction.

        it is also legitimate to present the same as indicative of our current lack of scientific understanding of the climate.

        If you can make a case to that effect backed up by the literature then it is perfectly legitimate to do so.

      • In the context of this discussion, andrew, I’m sorry but your argument is wholly dependent on circular reasoning.

      • Neither Gore nor Oreskes were citing scientific literature. You have changed the subject. Oreskes took a bad poll and Gore cited her, that is the subject.

      • 1. It’s been established that Oreskes’ contribution was framed by the keywords she used for citation search. Plenty of qualified job seekers fail to get past HR weenies due to failure to clairvoyantly know the “right” keywords.

        2. Ad Numeram is in fact at least somewhat applicable. When a source (e.g. CRU) uses raw data R to create data series D and 35 papers use D to conclude similar things (rather than R or unique data) then this ought not be surprising.

      • Since much of AGW promotion is self-referential, your claim does not really hold up.

    • Are you suggesting that Gore’s claims about Manhattan flooding were correct?

    • That is not what Oreskes’ study found. It was rather silly actually. She looked for papers refuting AGW and found none, but this is no surprise, because no single result can refute AGW and papers report single results. There are a host of papers that support skeptical arguments but she did not do that fine an analysis. Nor will she because she has become a rather fanatical AGW advocate.

      Also, of course, many studies assume AGW going in, probably the majority as AGW has become the paradigm for a large fraction of the community. These cannot be used as evidence for AGW. Skeptics have lots of support in the literature and they cite it frequently. The basic point is that the “science is settled” argument has failed. Now what?

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        Can you identify this body of ‘skeptical’ climate science that you keep mentioning? By now someone must have a concise reference that lists the key lit that demonstrates the science is not settled as of 2010. Can you point to this?

    • Andrew, you are making a classic error. It does not matter how MANY papers are published. What matters is the amount of the observed, measured data that there is in the papers that have been published. As long as the papers on CAGW are related mainly to the output of non-validated models, it does not matter how many of them there are.

  51. …… but the public were engaged on the climate change issue. We were told we were all going to hell on a handcart if we did not change our ways. That bout of scaremongering was shown to be wrong, and as a consequence the public are not prepared to listen anymore never mind act.

    When the eco-loons cry out that we are all going to burn, drown or boil in our own selfishness, the public now respond with a yawn.

  52. The public might be more prepared to have ‘climate science’ engaged at them if its leading practitioners demonstrated some qualities other than being arrogant, intolerant, preening and incompetent shysters.

    As there is no sign of that happening – despite the opportunity that Climategate gave for a fresh start with a new, more attractive attitude towards the Great Unwashed, then I fear that this is likely to remain a sterile debate.

    And public and political acceptance of AGW and all its manifestations in policy will continue to plummet,

    • Latimer, It is a pleasure reading this. You and I seem to have the same ideas when it comes to CAGW.

      • I just get incredibly frustrated at the way in which supposed ‘scientists’ act more like the Politburo in the old DDR (the Klimatburo??) than as genuine seekers after truth.

        No true scientist would answer an objection to his hypothesis (since AGW is still no more than that) by arguing that the questionner was a ‘denier’ and a ‘Big Oil Shill’, nor that somebody else who asked that same question was a ‘creationist’, and therefore it was beneath their dignity to deign to answer the question.

        And Joe Public sees this behaviour and compares it with his daily existence and notices that it is that of a shyster. Such an idea is reinforced when he discovers that the practitioners deliberately hide things from scrutiny – declines, data, programs, experiments (sorry – forgot- they don;t do those anyway).

        And Joe says – ‘here are some people behaving like shysters, arrogant in the extreme, covering up stuff they don’t want other people to find. And many of them are doing it on my dime’ . And he concludes that whatever it is they are selling, he wants none of it. If he’s American he might think back to Richard M Nixon declaring ‘the President is not a crook’, and the fate that befell him.

        The only slight consolation is to know that these supposedly ‘clever’ people have brought all the vituperation they deserve on themselves. Sad innit? ROTFL

    • …if its leading practitioners demonstrated some qualities other than being arrogant, intolerant, preening and incompetent shysters.

      Latimer: There’s that! And the unsurprising thing is how unaware they are of how unappealing they come off to people outside academia and the climate change community.

      They imagine they lose debates because the public can’t follow their deep complex arguments and because they lack the showmanship necessary in such a crass venue as a public debate. I think they lose in part because of the palpable arrogance they display.

      Here’s a global warming debate between from 2007. The debate took place while climate change was riding high on “An Inconvenient Truth” and before the bad PR of Climategate. The majority of the audience had been polled pre-debate as strongly being on the global warming side, but after the debate more opposed it than were for it.

      http://intelligencesquaredus.org/index.php/past-debates/global-warming-is-not-a-crisis/ (I recommend downloading the unedited audio and starting at the ten minute mark to skip the introductory material.)

      One can argue that arrogance does not invalidate the science and that’s true, but it is hardly a guarantee of good science either.

      In life arrogance is usually followed by comeuppance and that’s where the climate change folks are now, and so far — except for Dr. Curry and some others — they don’t seem to be learning from it. Which is not reassuring for the quality of the science either.

  53. Dr. Curry,
    Discussions about re-marketing AGW/CAGW/cliamte change/Global warming/global climate disruption are like efforts to improve the marketing of the Edsel.

    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      You, huxley, and adler post such tripe about personalities and arrogance and other assorted gossipy garbage that I imagine you 3 as the ‘clever’ judges on some future game show, let’s market it as ‘America’s Scientists Got Talent!’…
      Who gets to sign on as the iconic, arrogant Englishman?
      You’re good for unwashed amusement, at best.
      Happy Thanksgiving!

      • Who gets to sign on as the iconic, arrogant Englishman?

        You need to look no further than Real Climate for the answer to your question. I believe your role model hangs out there quite a lot. He may even be a primary contributor.

  54. Dr. Curry,

    It seems to me that some climate scientists have evolved into politicians, though not good ones. Climate science seems like a political movement where most are interested in just doing the science but where some self-appointed political officers are looking for heresy and giving PC guidelines, assuming they know the ultimate truth.

    Perhaps scientists should get together and agree on some rules on doing science and dealing with scepticism within and without, in public.

    • Bad politics plus ideology seems to have brought us to this mess. Scientists in leadership positions also seemed content to let Al Gore call the shots.

      • To be charitable, AGW has been US national policy since 1992, including science funding policy. Moreover, just as environmentalism has steadily increased its political power, it has cast its net over an increasingly wide circle of science. The IPCC was based directly on the massive report that fed into the Montreal Protocol. The acid rain scare had a large scientific chorus. The only reason an entire research community was entrained this time is because the scientific issue (global warming) is that big.

        When it comes to the politicization of science by the environmental movement, there is nothing new here except the grand scale, and the failure of course, which is quite new. The basic pattern dates back at least to the 1960’s.

      • That’s rational science for you.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        What do you mean by ‘acid rain scare’, David?

        Did demosblog get anything here?—demosblog.com/david-wojick

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        Sorry, that should be ‘anything wrong here’.

    • …some climate scientists have evolved into politicians, though not good ones.

      Jarmo: That’s exactly the problem and these scientists seem unaware of what a terrible demotion that is and how much it damages not just climate science but all science.

      The public is coming to think of scientists as just another political pressure group with a particular agenda that scientists push with all the intellectual honesty of any other pressure group — which is to say very little.

      I think this is a disaster.

  55. Dr. Curry: Congratulations on passing the 15,000 comment mark. Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it. David

    • 15,000 comments is pretty amazing! A very happy thanksgiving to those in the U.S. and elsewhere celebrating the holiday.

      • And for those not so fortunate as to get a ‘paid’ holiday or 4 day weekend …

        I think that’s a bit of a shame.

        A country such as the United States which prides itself on it’s ethics ought to be a bit generous and accommodating of it’s own citizens.

        I mean r’illy, if a country cannot see it’s way to that sort of social indulgence what business does it have with forcing climate change strictures on it’s own populace?

      • It just occurred to me … :-D

        When a country deliberately hides it’s own unemployed from it’s own unemployment statistics by classifying them as unwilling to work, it is more or less the same trick as hiding the decline.

        Nothing wrong therein. That’s just how Americans do it.

      • Happy Thanksgiving,
        Congratulations on the 15K ‘milestone’
        Long live imperial measures!

        And please learn to recognize a subjective viewpoint when you see one [*]

        (Yes, I know that you (Judith) do that sort of thing. I am using the inclusive ‘you’ here)

        [*] and appreciate that irrational subjectivity might also be appropriate and worthwhile. (Yes, I know you do that too. It’s indicated in an implicit manner)

  56. There is a simple answer to re-engaging the the public a name change, substitute ‘Banker’ for C02… “Banker Driven Climate Disruption” has a certain ring to it. Also substituting bonus level with C02 would not affect the results from the models as there is good correlation between them (Gavin can confirm this).

  57. Galactic cosmic rays and clouds linked. This may be the trickle before the flood for this topic. It could be a game changer for “climate change.”


    • On the other hand, Jim, Ben Laken, lead author, says:

      “Firstly, I would say (and I sure I speak for my co-authors Dom and Mick also here), this work does not comment on global warming and it should not be interpreted to cast doubt on recent anthropogenic warming.”

      • However, CO2, while it can warm, may, in the final analysis, not be the dominant player in climate. Clouds do hold the potential to moderate even large changes. It has not yet been demonstrated, but it has not yet been taken off the table either. We have the results of the CLOUD experiment to come in and other elucidations such as this one.

      • Thanks for the measured response, rather than what we read over at WUWT – loud proclamations that CO2-driven anthropogenic climate change is now a dead theory, based on this one paper. Just reinforces my view that WUWT isn’t a credible site, because of the above kinds of silliness Watts allows.

      • Good heavens. You don’t read that from Watts. You read that from *some* of the (denier type) comments. As far as I know Watts is fully aware of physics and Arrhenius etc re CO2 and from what I gather owns an electric vehicle. Watts doesn’t restrict commentary as per RC.

        Re silliness Watts allows pretty much all viewpoints which frankly is both responsible and valuable: as Jerry Pournelle says, a certain amount of funding ought to go to contrarian views, since a) this does no harm, and b) useful data may come from it.

        The real world analogue here is that the US Navy is funding development of the late Dr Bussard’s fusion device despite “mainstream” fusion efforts being entirely different. Frankly I find it heartening and refreshing that the US Navy, which is run by smart adults, doesn’t seem to share your tunnel vision view of what constitutes “credible.”

        Do you think you can dial back the sneering condescension?

      • Examples of Watts being something quite different than Alston’s beliefs about him:


      • Perhaps you’d care to elaborate on what exact point you were trying to make. I followed the link you gave, but it was not obvious to me.

        I imagine that my limited level of education doesn’t quite (only a Chemistry MSc, not in Climatology) prohibit you from lowering yourself to expound your view to me?

      • Watts can dish out the nasty, but call him on his errors, and he has a hissy fit and goes 100% personal. His unhealthy obsession with real names and IP addresses just shows that once he’s been revealed to be the pompous windbag he is, be prepared to be cyberstalked and banished.

        He’s a bully and a baby.

      • Exactly, Watts gives a platform so that people can have their say, just as pointed out re Dr Bussard and US Navy funding. I’m pretty sure guests have included our own host, Dr Curry. If guest posts like Goddard’s are wrong, then it comes out; Dr. Meier and others has/have corrected him at WUWT. Your link underscores my point… thanks.

        For the most part WUWT does a public service in that weaker (“denier?”) arguments get canned quickly. Is his a perfect site? No.

      • Goddard did get tossed under the bus once it was revealed he was so stupid he couldn’t even be wrong. But that’s a very low bar to hurdle.

      • >sigh< Watts, and most skeptics, are skeptical of the ridiculous idea that we are facing a climate catastrophe, not that CO2 is a ghg.

      • The paper also has this tidbit about one of the models:

        The GCM results successfully produced a pattern of
        SLAT increase comparable to observations (Fig. 5b), imply-
        ing a causal relationship between the observed cloud-SLAT
        changes. Between days −5 to +3 (after the first appear-
        ance of significant cloud changes) the observed correlation
        coefficient between SLAT and cloud cover was found to be
        R = −0.91. Over the same period, the GCM demonstrated
        a correlation coefficient of R = −0.93, indicating that the
        observed cloud-climate relationship was reproduced by the
        GCM. However, the magnitude of the SLAT changes was
        far smaller than that observed (by ∼75%) and the anomalies
        did not demonstrate any statistical significance. These dif-
        ferences may be attributed to the shortcomings of HadAm3
        Atmos. Chem. Phys., 10, 10941–10948, 2010
        cloud scheme, which has been shown to largely underesti-
        mate cloud cover over the globe (Webb et al., 2001; Zhang
        et al., 2005). Underestimation of cloud amount has the ef-
        fect of restricting the cloud amount which can be altered
        during the GCM experiment (i.e. cloud can only be reduced
        if it pre-exists within the GCM, as the model which under-
        produces cloud this may present a limiting factor upon the

      • Too bad Laken et.al. used a GCM at all – means their results are utter garbage, going by the view of GCMs that’s very prominent at WUWT.

        I expect to see accusations against Laken over there soon – that he’s too young and new to be able to stand up against the “CAGW” cabal and has been forced to kowtow to them. Already seen comments along the lines of the latter.

        Just when I think the inane commentary on WUWT can’t get any lower, it manages to do so.

      • You could always post your views that WUWT is garabage over there. Surely it would be more productive than griping over here.

        If I have a complaint with Tesco, there is little point in telling the manager of the local Sainsbury’s about it. It is not within his power ot fix.

        Or perhaps you are used to blogs like RC where only the truly annointed are allowed to post and to interact with the High Priests?

        Try it sometime.

      • Watts isn’t interested in anything I have to say – he just wants to cyberstalk folks that show him wrong. He gets all snippy when that happens, and it happens a lot. He only wants his fanboys to adore him. In that, he’s like McIntyre.

      • Watts himself may not be interested in your views. But the thousands who read his blog every day may be. And there are currently many days when he is away on other business.

        It is my experience that a far wider range of views are tolerated there than at Real Climate – which is moderated so heavily that no dissent is allowed.

  58. I’d like to throw out a positive image of scientist-as-advocate.

    If the choice is between scientists who stay in the background and stick to “Just the facts, ma’am,” and scientists who behave like the Climategate Gang, I’ll take the “Just the facts, ma’am” scientists every time.

    However, consider Richard Feynman, one of the top physicists in the second half of the 20th century. After the Challenger disaster, he was called on to serve on the official investigation and he did a very credible, sobering, and necessary job. It’s not something he wanted to do, but he did it and we are all the better for it.

    We could use some Richard Feynmans on both sides of this debate. I can see Richard Feynman standing up like Judith Curry has. I can’t see Richard Feynman in the Climategate emails or the HARRY_READ_ME.txt file.

    • I was just thinking about Feynman. Can you in your wildest dreams imagine him ever saying ‘you don’t agree with me, so I’m refusing to answer your question’?

      Or ‘You had a friend who was Jewish or Catholic or Sikh or Buddhist or Muslim or a Philatelist or an Atheist or a Jedi Knight’ therefore I am not going to answer your question’?

      Or ‘I’m not going to show you my work because you might find something wrong with it’

      Or ‘I think that you are being paid to ask that question so I refuse to answer it’?

      Can you truly imagine Albert Einstein doing the same? Or Jacob Bronowski? Or Carl Sagan?

      But I need not only imagine, everybody can see frequent repeated instances of exactly that behaviour among climatologists. And not one or two junior guys who might be bad apples in any barrel in any career. But leaders of the profession. Lead authors who write the IPCC reports. Guys who win Nobel Prizes. Directors of Research. Self-appointed ‘gurus’.

      Sagan, Bronowski, Feynman and Einstein all had scientific integrity. They didn’t mind (too much) being wrong..they wanted to find out the truth..wherever that led them. Whether this led to praise and glory was pretty much irrelevant to them.

      Now compare them with the Climatologists. Having taken a deep breath and held your nose, does anyone you wonder why they have lose the public’s trust and attention? If they can’t work it out for themselves, then they really are not as clever as they like to think they are.

      • Most scientists don’t mind being wrong. They do mind being called “frauds”, “criminals” and “shysters” – not because they make mistakes, but because some folks don’t like hearing the truth.

      • The day they stop behaving like shysters, I’ll stop calling them shysters.

        Its their choice.

      • Given your comments, you’ll never stop calling them “shysters”.

  59. Michael Larkin

    Regardless of the scientific merit of AGW, the means being adopted here are archetypically political. We in the UK and I’m sure elsewhere are very familiar with failing governments refusing to accept that their policies might be wrong, and circling the wagons to come up with some better way of putting the existing message across. The result is usually failure and rejection at the ballot box.

    I am mystified as to how the AGW, and particularly CAGW message, can be put across better. It’s had a twenty year run, most of which it’s been in the limelight with very little opposition, and more PR in times when it’s experiencing increasing popular challenge merely serves to highlight the desperation.

    A better approach would be to push for open debate in the media between practising scientists holding different opinions. I’m not talking about televised governmental enquiries and committees only accessible on unpopular channels, but prime time, popular channel debate, with impartial moderation and equal time for both sides.

    If the CAGW arguments are compelling, and if the evidence is sound, what would there be to fear? Well, the obvious answer is that the arguments might be defeated in the eyes of the public. But without taking the risk, how are the public to be convinced? By decades more of one-sided proselytisation of dumbed-down ideas as often as not by non-experts, with nary more than a token nod to a sceptical sound bite which can be leapt upon and disparaged by a majority of believers?

    The public will not accept pronouncements when the deck is clearly stacked. And they will ask themselves why it is stacked, being entirely familiar in political contexts with the idea that stacking is a symptom of the triumph of spin over substance.

    I’m not saying that there is no substance in the present case. But I am saying that adopting one-sided approaches trips a lot of people’s BS meters, and at a certain point, they switch off and become unreachable.

    It isn’t sufficient to “know” one is right and to assert that fact loud and clear. Those who know should welcome challenge, and be able to roundly demolish arguments from peers in face-to-face but civilised disputation.

    Seriously, where have we ever seen this? Forget the scientific literature, the peer review, all the arcane stuff that ordinary people have no hope of fathoming.

    A TV program I’d love to see: a civilised discussion between Richard Lindzen and whomever the CAGW side would care to field against him. I don’t know if Lindzen is right, but I do know that he is the best spokesman on the sceptical side. If the other side has any scientist capable of engaging with him, bring them on. I’d be open-eared and open-minded.

    • If you want a public debate, instead of one-on-one, let’s use the correct proportions of the views of climate scientists. Roughly 30-35 to one.

      • Michael Larkin

        By the same argument, why didn’t we have a debate between Barry Marshall and Robin Warren (of helicobacter fame) and, say, a couple of hundred scientists who denied stomach ulcers could be produced by a bacterium? That would have been a grand way to stamp out such nonesense possibilities, now wouldn’t it?

        Perhaps it would need 30-35 of the consensualist scientists to have a good chance of defeating Lindzen in disputation, but all it would actually take is one who is articulate and sufficiently knowledgeable.

        Numbers mean nothing. Except, perhaps, at the ballot box. I want to see arguments engaged, not numbers of proponents in the proportions you claim they exist. And besides, if those who dissent face opprobrium, we’re hardly likely to have an unbiased assessment of numbers, are we?

      • “Numbers mean nothing”. Remember that when someone trouts out that silly OISM “petition” – like Judith did.

        In any case, watch the Lindzen-Dessler debate. Does that satisfy?

      • Michael Larkin

        Judith may have done. The point is, I didn’t. I’m not the same gender, same nationality, same height, same intelligence, or of the same opinion. People are different, and their views variously nuanced.

        I will be looking at the debate, and as I said elsewhere, may comment on it later.

      • I saw it. The only point Dessler won on was accusing Lindzen of being a smoker. The entertainment value is high. Dessler’s content was pedestrian.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        Yeah, when Dessler pointed out the garbage science in Lindzen and Choi (2009), that was strictly ‘pedestrian’. And surely college educated Americans (Bus Ad, Psych, Educ) would concur with you. Pedestrian.
        Lindzen could’ve used a smoke break, to keep from falling asleep..since he’s repeated this crap for years. And at what price?

      • Derecho64,

        Would 30-35 debates between an AGW opponent and an AGW proponent be ok, if the proponent is always proposing a different pet alternative theory?

      • I meant the other way around:

        If we have a 30-1 ratio of proponents/opponents, we could have 30 different ways to question the proponents. That means 30 times more exposition for the proponents than the opponents’s pet theories.

        This would entail a big overhaul of the false balance we have right now.

      • Michael Larkin

        I’ve already read that, Louise. As I said, I am looking for civilised dialogue between experts, rather than partisan comments from web sites on one side or the other.

    • Michael –
      Try this:
      Dessler – Lindzen debate

      • Michael Larkin

        Thank you for this, Pat. I have never seen it before. I will listen to it attentively and may comment later.

    • Debates don’t work, even in the ideal situation of taking a random sample of climate scientist to be in the debate, which may turn out 1 skeptic in 10 at most. We’ve seen it many times that in a debate there is nothing to stop people making “facts” up on the spot. The public can’t distinguish what is made up from what is based on fact. For example, in the recent hearing I would have liked someone to ask Lindzen where he got is 2.5 C number from for removing all the atmospheric CO2, and maybe he could have provided a source, but all that could only be verified well after the debate was over.
      A debate could only work with real-time fact-checkers, and science is not amenable to instant verification.
      This blog type of forum is much more amenable to debates that can stretch over days with people going back and checking papers and facts between replies.

      • That was one thing I noticed in Lindzen’s testimony to Congress. To be charitable to his answer, he must have misheard the question. With no CO2 in the atmosphere, the temperature doesn’t change 2.5C – it’s more like 30+C. If Lindzen heard the question correctly, then he was incredibly wrong.

      • 30 C is almost the entire greenhouse effect. That CO2 provides 2.5C of this is a common estimate, with water providing by far the most. I think Gavin just came up with a much higher estimate of 7.5C for CO2 but that just shows how uncertain we are about even this basic fact.

      • I’d like to see even a single reference for this. I have looked far and wide for such a thing, and found nothing to support such a claim.

        You can’t just make up a number (as Lindzen did), point out it is different to what is commonly accepted and then claim that as evidence for great uncertainty.

        Please stop spinning just long enough to answer this simple question.

      • What do you believe the correct quantity to be Gavin?

      • You can come up with numbers like 7 C by seeing how much effect removing CO2 has on the outgoing radiation, which is 27 W/m2 for a standard sounding, equating to needing 7 degrees cooling to restore the balance. This assumes no H2O or other feedback, of course, which obviously has to happen in the real world.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        David, can you answer Gavin? It’s an issue of your credibility, isn’t it?

      • From the testimony:
        At 0h47 Lindzen says that a 2.5C temperature drop is all you would expect if all CO2 was removed from the atmosphere! [I believe Baird queried this?]
        At 0h48 Lindzen says there is no doubt that CO2 absorbs more heat than O2
        Agrees that Human activity has substantially increased CO2
        At 0h49 Lindzen, when responding to increasing max high temperature frequency, says that instrumentation changed dramatically during the [instrument record] period. Modern thermometer response times are infinitesimal compared to earlier in the record.
        Baird then says “unless you are suggesting that in the past the measuring devices were erroneous in one direction not another”
        Lindzen amazingly says “Absolutely”
        Baird ” If you’re suggesting that the thermometers of today are more sensitive to increases than cooling…”
        Lindzen “Oh, yuh!. Oh Yuh! that’s pretty much true”


      • Lindzen had much more to say, which Baird bullied him into not saying. At one point Baird was eliciting opinions from Heidi Cullen to counter Lindzen

        Your transcript is incomplete and misleading

      • I gave 2 sound bytes that struck me that no climate scientist worth his salt should have made – even under pressure.
        Of course it is not a full transcript.
        You are welcome to give a couple of the sound bites you find amazing.
        I was totally flabberghasted with the senator(?) name not remembered who was spouting about CO2 being such a tiny trace gas that it obviously can have no effect (been reading too much WUWT I suspect!)

      • You do not have to provide a full transcript. The little bit that you provided contains no record of how displeased Lindzen was in being prevented from giving a full reply. Baird used a pause to jump on Lindzen and shut him down, even as he tried to recruit the other panel members to join him in cowing down Lindzen.

        In the end Lindzen just ended up saying “No!”.

        Your transcript could have included just these details. Your sound byte has no legs to stand on.

  60. That seems a bit unfair 30 deniers onto 1 warmist

  61. must be a weak argument needing 30 to 1

  62. 35 to 1? Is this like the famous “2500” scientists producing the IPCC? It seems that of the 2500 only some 600 contributed to WG1 and counted among these were many papers self-cited by the authors of WG1.

  63. See http://tigger.uic.edu/~pdoran/012009_Doran_final.pdf

    Lovely graph on the first page

    • The Doran survey asked earth scientists nine questions. The responses to only two questions have ever been reported upon in an accessible online form. The two that were, appear somewhat banal, considering that particular surveyed community. Being a suspicious sceptical rogue, I am curious what the other seven questions were, their responses, and why they were omitted from this report, which on publication was widely circulated as popular climate change promotional material.

  64. Leaving aside the question of accuracy in web-based polls (not being a statistician or pollster), I will say that the graph is interesting but not surprising. I would not expect that people who have spent their careers examining a problem would be easily willing to say that it didn’t exist. As well, the question asked was general enough to be difficult to vote no on. It could be that they are in agreement on the general question, but will bitterly fight over the specifics. So yes, it’s a lovely graph, and suggestive, but no, I don’t think that it’s of overriding importance.

    On the other hand, it was interesting to delve into the polling data at the referenced Gallup site. That shows clearly that the general public lost confidence in AGW – both science and policy – over the period 2008 – 2010. I can only guess that that would be the result of general disgust at the overt political machinations of Copenhagen, the failure of doomsday to arrive on schedule, and possibly some reaction to climategate.

    This is the evidence that there needs to be a change in how the climate change issue – in particular the policy – is presented to the public: trying to stuff it down our throats without imput or debate is a losing proposition, no matter how many scientists sign on.

    • …trying to stuff it down our throats without imput or debate is a losing proposition, no matter how many scientists sign on.

      kch: That should seem obvious and I suspect it is. However, climate change advocates refuse to see it or admit it.

      In all the topics comments on this blog, I’ve not noticed any CC advocate who will address this directly aside from complaining about the skeptics, the media or the public.

      I was glad to read the articles Dr. Curry linked to, though, since they display some signs of movement.

      • So what should the public be debating? The essential facts of the science? Of course not – but there are those here who claim that even those facts are disputable.

        Policies? But of course – but then those can only be informed by the science.

        I see a lot of conflation between the two, and putting the cart of distaste for certain policies before the horse of the science.

      • First of all there are very few, if any, indisputable facts in the climate science debate. Indisputable means certain and we are certain of very little when it comes to AGW. No one is disputing that the sun shines or the rain falls but that is not what the debate is all about. You offered some so-called facts which turned out to be highly debatable.

        Second, who is this public you are speaking of, who should not be debating the science? Does it include the people who have posted 15,000+ comments here? Most of those are directed toward the science and many are quite intelligent. The public is debating the science. That is why the foolish claim that the science is settled is failing. The debate is out in the open at last.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        What are the indisputable facts?

      • So you dispute that CO2 is a GHG.

        You dispute that CO2 is increasing.

        You dispute that we’re the cause of the increase in CO2.

        Do you also dispute that the earth revolves around the sun and that it’s not flat?


      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        David never listed those indisputable facts. David?

      • I don’t dispute the three propositions that you make.

        But those are necessary, but not sufficient conditions for AGW theory to be true. There are a whole set of other steps along the way. Please make your next points. Which I suspect will be more controversial :-)

      • You may not dispute them, but Mr. Wojick certainly does:
        “First of all there are very few, if any, indisputable facts in the climate science debate.”

        He even holds out that climate science has *no* facts at all, which, by definition, would include the three I mentioned. Perhaps he’s a goner and deserves no more attention given that.

      • Derecho64 –

        As the D student in this room, I’ll say that I agree with you that the public, with its poor knowledge of the minutiae of a field like climatology, should restrain itself to the policy debate – but of course that discussion must start with the question of whether we even need a policy and go from there. The science debate needs to be held separately and used to inform – not dictate – the policy debate. That debate should properly be held within the science community.[Note I say science, not climatology. In a field as wide-ranging as climatology, non-climatologists can and do have useful input – for example, much as you seem to detest McIntyre and Wegman, they are certainly qualified to comment on statistical methodology and dismissing their concerns on any basis but statistics is poor science. ]

        This is the course I’ve been following, trying to get a feel for the state of the science (without attempting to contribute) so as to better inform my opinions on the policy debate (where I can properly contribute).

        Unfortunately this exploration into the science has left me with the impression that the ‘consensus’ is an artifact of media manipulation by the environmental left, and severely underestimates the legitimate scientific uncertainties that exist. My personal politics probably influence this opinion, but that should be noted for all participants in the policy debate.

        Those scientific uncertainties exist even with the acceptance of ‘indisputable’ facts, as scientists seem to interpret those facts differently based on competing theories and differing views of what are the most important facts. There also seem to be rather large error bars on much of what we are told we do know.

        So in my (currently) informed position, I will insist that it is way too soon to start the cart of policy rolling, as we have not yet gotten the horse of science in the traces. If you look at the study pointed to by TomFP (way up the thread) – http://kestencgreen.com/green%26armstrong-agw-analogies.pdf – you’ll see why I’m allergic to the idea of leaping into policy prescriptions too early.

        So if scientists want to convince me of the necessity of action asap, they have only one choice: hammer away at the uncertainties (not the skeptics) and nail down the science. Dictating to me, patronizing me, pretending everything is settled, massaging the message: none of this has worked so far, and it won’t work in the future.

      • (I’m not impressed much by Armstrong’s work. The tenor of his paper, the folks who reviewed it, and his choice of “alarm” events do not give me much reason to take him seriously. The whole thing strikes me as a bunch of goobledygook with a few numbers tossed in to make it seem sciencey.)

        Have you read some of the basic literature on the subject of AGW, designed for the layman? If not, I recommend you start with them. Weart’s “The Discovery of Global Warming” is a good one. You need to familiarize yourself with the real state of the science, not filtered through blogs, especially ones like this one, who have a preset agenda.

      • It really doesn’t matter if you’re impressed by Armstrong and Green – what’s more important here is that I find their reasoning plausible and accessible. I assumed, if only from their earlier associations with Willie Soon, that you would not agree with them. However, haughtily waving it away as ‘sciencey’ is another example of the patronizing approach to persuasion. By all means, tear their work down, but do so clearly and carefully. I assure you, I can follow the arguments.

        Over the last five years, I’ve read quite a bit about the basics of the subject of AGW, both on line and off, and both ‘skeptic’ and ‘alarmist’. I’ve gotten fairly good at identifying the agendas of both sides – and make no mistake, all writing, particularly blogs, have an agenda of some sort. Discounting that from the content is what is important – I try to start with ‘accept no truth on first reading’ and finish with ‘compare, contrast and think, think, always think’. It mostly works for me.

        Thank you for pointing me at Weart’s website. I’ve only read the intro/summary for now, but have bookmarked it for further reading. It looks interesting and well written, if slightly biased towards the ‘alarmist’ position. Still, though he seems to skim past non-GHG causes for AGW without much discussion, he has the honesty to at least mention them. I’ll definitely keep reading, more information is always better.

        As to this blogs agenda, Ive been operating under the assumption that Dr. Curry believes that the more open the discussion of, and the greater the information flow on, the issues of AGW (both science and policy), the closer we’ll all be to answers to the questions. Do you see her as having a different agenda?

      • The bigger issue I have with Armstrong’s argument is that he cherry-picked “alarm” predictions that turned out to be incorrect. What if he had picked “alarm” predictions that turned out to be right? For example, the connection between smoking and cancer. Governmental policy was instituted based on that science, and it’s working at saving lives. Wow. Like I said, it’s the tenor of the article – hardly dispassionate.

        When I discuss AGW with folks, I assume a basic familiarity with it – including works such as Weart’s. Edwards’ “A Vast Machine” is another good starting point. That so few people have even heard of either is not conducive to an informed discussion.

        As for Judith’s agenda, I think she’s making the mistake that “uncertainty” is synonymous with “ignorant” (i.e., that we don’t know everything means we know nothing) and that giving “skeptics” like McIntyre the same weight as genuine climate scientists, *a priori*, is wrong. The correct first thing to do is to audit McIntyre’s published work (paltry as it is) and then see if he’s due the respect Judith apparently has for him. Likewise, her view that blogs are at, or are rapidly approaching, the same level of value in determining the science as the peer-reviewed journal process. I find that dubious at best. Anyone can spout anything on a blog – as we see here – and sometimes it take a lot more effort to show it incorrect than the blog format is suitable for.

      • Looking over the list of analogies considered by Armstrong and Green, both rejected and accepted, and comparing them to the criteria used for acceptance, I am fairly certain that they did not cherry-pick. Two aspects of smoking and health were indeed looked at, and one was in fact used. The other was properly rejected (IMHO) as being outside of the parameters.I’m not asking you to go back and and read it more closely – we have different opinions on its value, and I’m OK with that. Just don’t assume that you can wave it away and have me accept that. As for the tone, that argument can be used to dismiss anything coming from Real Climate as well – I can’t imagine you would say they are dispassionate.

        I have yet to have found anything in Weart’s work that I did not already know, though I am finding it useful as a complete layout of the argument of AGW. So I think that you can accept that I have a basic familiarity with the subject even if I haven’t read what you consider necessary for an informed discussion. [Which, by the way, is a rather gnostic concept – something I always thought inimical to proper science.]

        “As for Judith’s agenda, I think she’s making the mistake that “uncertainty” is synonymous with “ignorant” (i.e., that we don’t know everything means we know nothing)”

        Hmm…I don’t get that impression at all – I think it’s more likely synonymous with ‘keeping in mind that we don’t know everything’. I could be wrong, though, and am willing to be corrected.

        As for McIntyre, I note that you think that the best approach is to see if he’s “due the respect”. Again, a patronizing dismissal from a position of authority. Wouldn’t it be better (for the science) to see if he’s right?

      • Let’s just agree to disagree about Armstrong. I’ve run across folks using him before and I find the arguments in his favor less than persuasive.

        Judith is not on to something new and amazing with her (as you state) ‘keeping in mind that we don’t know everything’ claim. Sheesh – why do you think the IPCC assessments are couched in terms such as “likely”, “very likely” and so on? It’s precisely because we don’t know *everything* that those terms are used. Uncertainty isn’t a new concept in climate science.

        If McIntyre didn’t have such a paltry publication record, it would be easier to critique his argument. Besides, the paper he made his name from for attacking, MBH98, is 12 years old now. There’s lots of work done since then, but it’s not clear to me that McIntyre has appreciated any of it. Sure, he can make up cute phrases like “The Team”, and enjoy the adulation of his fanboys, but in terms of his work truly impacting the science, I just don’t see it.

      • “Judith is not on to something new and amazing…”

        Who said she was? You said she was conflating ‘uncertainty’ with ‘ignorance’. I responded with my understanding of her position – which you point out is similar to the IPCC’s. Of course “uncertainty isn’t a new concept in climate science”. Dr. Curry seems to be much more willing than most to talk about it, though.

        “If McIntyre didn’t have such a paltry publication record, it would be easier to critique his argument.”

        Alright, now I’m puzzled. How could a publication record have any bearing on a math/statistical argument? If you reach an impasse on this sort of argument you call for another opinion, like, say, Wegman’s. You don’t decide to total up the publication lists. This smacks of argument from authority, not to mention ad hominem. Good way of treating a critic, bad way to treat science.

      • Ignorance is a component of uncertainty. For my views on uncertainty, see the uncertainty monster thread.

      • How is Judith “more willing”? All the caveats one could ever want are sprinkled throughout journal articles, assessments, and so on. Indeed – those caveats are ignorantly used to assert that the science *isn’t* “settled”. The “skeptics” get their debate points either way – which just goes to show that they don’t understand science at all.

        Scientists earn credibility by publishing peer-reviewed articles that over time are accepted and verified as correct. Since McIntyre has a paper-thin publication record, it’s hard to grant him credibility – unless you’re willing to overturn the publication metric and assert that blog posts are now on an equal footing with publications. I don’t think you want to go there.

        Oh, and Wegman has now been audited, and found *very* wanting.

      • Dr. Curry –

        Sorry, you are entirely correct. I was trying (poorly) to quickly get across the idea of ‘known unknowns’ and ‘unknown unknowns’, and that you did not believe that uncertainty was synonymous with ignornance. I should have just pointed Derecho64 to your post on the subject.

      • Derecho64 –

        We’ve probably beaten this discussion to death as well, but…

        Caveats are sprinkled everywhere? Maybe in the journals, possibly the assessments (though the IPCC might have been a little overeager to heighten the certainties, especially for the policy makers), but they certainly have not been presented to the public at any meaningful level. The skeptics would have fewer debating points and less public support if the case had been presented fully and honestly from the start. We might still be in the state we’re in, but we haven’t gotten very far as it is, have we?

        As for McIntyre and Wegman, again you attack the man, not the argument. I cannot see why you would defend dismissing their statistical work on grounds other than statistics. Hansen is a lawbreaking, exaggerating blowhard, but is an expert in his field and his arguments in that field will rightly always be looked at, not dismissed. In law, this tactic is used by the side that has no factual case, and so leaves the impression to the public that the case for AGW is fact-deficient.

        As for the publication metric, it is a useful tool for discussing and debating science, but my spouse and numerous friends in the academic world have left me with the impression that it is also very useful for maintaining positions, advancing towards tenure and gaining funding. It’s not the be all and end all of science itself, and is no substitute for the actual arguments.

  65. There is a really interesting new article in the Guardian, entitled
    “Opening up climate science can cut off the skeptics”


    • This is exactly right! Publish all data, meta-data, unused data, and all code!! I’m not so sure the public is as dumb as the climate scientists believe.

      • Sure, that’s fine by me – but there is already enough data out there for the “skeptics” to be getting on with for the time being. There have already been independent attempts to reconstruct the surface temperature recordss for example, whose results are… pretty much the same as those already published.

      • Could you provide a reference for one of those independent reconstructions, please?

      • Look up the “Clear Climate Code” project.

      • And it is not for the Climatologists to decide when ‘enough data has been released’. Climategate showed that they can’t be independently trusted with any data at all and that it must all be subject to outside, rigorous and detailed scrutiny. As is common in many other aspects of life where important matters are at stake.

        Bar none. No fully published data, no fully published code, no fully published and challengable methods = no nice papers = no nice kudos = no nice cushy academic career. Simples!

      • We’re not talking ONLY surface temperature reconstructions. All data and code including all models and model runs should be made public. Same for any temperature reconstructions of any kind, and any other paper that deals with climate science. Any area other than climate science that impacts government policy should be subject to these rules also.

      • Are you familiar with the CMIP3 archive at PCMDI?

      • No, but I appreciate you pointing it out. Thanks.

      • Various modeling groups also provide data portals for accessing the model output from their own research. Additionally, a number of climate models have made the source code readily accessible.

        Poke around a bit.

    • Judging by your Denizens thread, the sceptic community can boast a fairly strong scientific background, and have done considerable homework already themselves. Here’s a typical sceptic background ‘primer’. (It would be interesting to analyse it as a ‘sample’, but it could use more entries)

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        ‘Friends of Climate Science’ is being investigated as an energy industry front group. Anyone can research this for confirmation. These groups are a dime a dozen.

      • Gee, I used to be an “energy industry front group.” It doesn’t make them wrong. Hopefully they can afford good talent because, guess what, we need the energy industry. Not that the greens know that.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        We need a green energy industry. Not that the oil companies don’t know that.
        No David, it doesn’t make them wrong, it makes them biased for the buck. That’s the game you play here.
        YOU think Americans are stupid enough to believe otherwise.

      • We don’t need a “green” industry. We need reliable sources of energy. Solar and wind aren’t going to get us there. Nuclear can. In the meantime, we have no viable choices except nat gas, oil and coal.

      • As I have said before, I don’t have my beliefs because somebody pays me. They paid me because I had the knowledge they needed to defend themselves. I have been defending industry from the excesses of the greens for 40 years, because I saw this fiasco coming long ago. I think Americans are smart enough to understand the truth, so I present it as I see it, as clearly as possible, neither more nor less. As McCauley said “Every political movement ultimately expires from an excess of its own principles.”

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        Can you provide some examples of how you successfully fought against ‘green’ policies and defended the energy interests that hired you?
        Are you getting paid to post here? Elsewhere?

      • David L. Hagen

        Let us know when you have sworn off using electricity and transportation fuels. Until then, pray that the engineers are able to keep providing fuel and electricity. Otherwise retirement could be rather cold and drafty with little economy to support you.

      • The warmth of his conviction that he has saved Mother Gaia from destruction will warm him through his declining years.

        As will the heat from the funeral pyres of those condemned to die young to satisfy his ideological commitments.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        What kind of BS are you posting/belching here?

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        Let us know when oil and gas will be so expensive grandma can’t pay the bills and she freezes on her toilet. See how this stupid tat for tat plays? All day and night, if you want it.

      • The price of gas is collapsing, due to the huge reserves being opened up world-wide. It will remain low into the far foreseeable future.

        Grandma will be toasty warm.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        Not when my daughter is a grandma. We’re at peak oil. OPEC knows it. Exxon knows it. The API knows it. I don’t rely on predictions based on what ‘Brian H’ says about gas, who probably has his stocks to worry about. And if you don’t, others surely do.

      • Why the obsession with oil? Oil is not the only energy source. Coal, gas, nuclear are all good ways to heat people’s houses and to generate portable power.

      • That reminds me, My Delorian needs to recharge its flux capacitor before the drive home tonight!

      • Grandma will be long gone to her fate before that happens.

        It may be that she freezes to death because she cannot afford the energy taxes that governments impose to pay for their pipe dreams of reliance on expensive, inefficient and ineffective ‘renewable’ sources.

        But that is a different discussion.

      • Thanks for that argument against carbon taxes or cap and trade!

      • ‘Friends of Climate Science’ may or may not be being investigated as an industry front group. I note that you do not say by whom such an investigation may or may not be being carried out, what qualifications such investigators may or may not have, nor when and how they may or may not be planning to report on their investigation. So your statement is pretty close to meaningless – it certainly is content-free.

        It is also pretty much irrelevant, since the group being discussed above has the similar, but distinct, name of ‘Friends of Science’.

        No doubt you will assure us that they too may or may not be being investigated etc etc etc, until we are all bored witless…….

        But getting the names right would make the rest of your argument so much more compelling. We’d be much more inclined to think that you were paying the careful attention to detail that is a prereq to being a good scientist.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        Sure, energy industry front group are irrelevant. It doesn’t matter where the skeptics are blogging or who pays the bills, it’s all good, right? Right. Repeat.

      • Certainly East Anglia’s CRU would agree, given the level of funding they receive from the energy industry.

      • That was not my point. As we have previously established, advocacy groups on the Warmist side of the argument have spent a lot of money on their propaganda. And in your case at least it appears to have been a spectacularly good investment.

        My point was that your vague asssertions about something or other, without any evidence or backup, and especially about the wrong people, do not do your credibility on other more important topics (like climate change) any good at all.

        You were questioning elsewhere whether the Great Unwashed public were capable of understanding Climate Change. If you are a self-declared expert on the topic, then it doesn’t seem to be very hard and they should pass with flying colours.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        Take a another sip and be clearer here. You’re belching again.

      • As I don’t drink alcohol for medical reasons, I have no idea what you are talking about. Happy to say that my finest Italian coffee is smelling and tasting odd today. Keeps me warm as the UK suffers under the earliest spell of really cold weather (by our standards) for 17 years. Must be more of that global warming that you witter on about :-)

        But I begin to think that you are running out of argument and resorting to insult and unpleasantness in the hope that I won’t notice. That strategy is not getting you very far.

      • If you could just give me the names and addresses of these people who are willing to pay sceptics for blogging I’d be very grateful……

        And I’m gald to see that your recovery from the Dark Side is coming along so well. You forgot to use the ‘D’ word above. Keep it up!

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        I’ll pay you to go away. Do you take credit?

      • Thanks, but I’m having far too good a time here already – and all at my own expense.

        But as generous man, I’m sure you’d like to make a donation to my general upkeep fund. Just send me your bank account details, and I’ll arrange a direct debit for you.

      • I actually dangled that friends of science piece as a nice tasty bacon-rind on my crab line overnight- hoping for a bite or two..

      • It is very sad that many people stop their research at sites like this FOS one, where it has statements like planets and the moon are warming, so it is natural, and temperature precedes CO2 in the ice ages, so it can’t ever be the other way round, and countless other gross (though entertaining) errors in just the first few paragraphs. People need to be more skeptical of these sites. Go to them and criticize them on skeptic blogs, and the public science knowledge will get better as a result.

    • The Guardian has done more for encouraging ‘skepticism’ than any other newspaper.

      Equipping the public with the tools and knowledge to understand complex issues like global warming can help them avoid the rhetorical tricks of climate ‘skeptics’

      Yeah, real nice propaganda hack job.


      In my belief, this comes from the mistaken view that the scientific community need to agree on a single world view for a theory to have a solid grounding. After all, most people’s education of science is of established principles in a school textbook, which are then examined in
      a situation where there is usually a single correct answer. This, in turn, leaves those outside of the community to see even a small division of belief on controversial theories as evidence that the leading explanation does not hold up to scrutiny.

      Of course, this isn’t true: those in academia are constantly debating and modifying their ideas over time as new evidence comes to light, and those who hold minority viewpoints are valued for their opinion, but only when they can provide evidence for their stance, not for their ability to sign a petition.

      You honestly think this is interesting? Your field of research stinks of tripe bloated propaganda Prof. Curry.


      • ‘The Guardian has done more for encouraging ‘skepticism’ than any other newspaper’

        Spot on. Along with the sheer unpleasantness of the moderators at Real Climate and other alarmist blogs, the Guardian’s practice of summarily banning anyone who does not follow exactly the party line as laid down by the Klimatariat has driven more people to become sceptics than any deep study of the science ever has. Second only to Climategate I think.

        On the credit side, they did arrange the famous Climategate meeting in Lonodn last summer. Even Monbiot was able to remain reasonably balanced as chairman. It was attended by assorted loons and nutters (Bob Watson, Trevor Davies, Fiona Fox) as well as the voices of rationality (Steve McIntyre, Douglas J Keenan) and Fred Pearce. A good evening was had by all..in something approaching a constructive spirit.

        It is a shame that such an atmosphere is not carried on to their blogs.

  66. Jim,
    Climate scientists do not believe that the general public is dumb. That statement is pretty indicative of why climate scientists have avoided public engagement from time to time. Perhaps a few less accusations and a more open mind might enlighten you in this conversation.

    • Wow, Clearscience. If I have that much pull in the Climate Science community, I certainly retract that statement and say instead that I knew all along that climate scientists have a deep respect for the deep intellect of the public. There, now maybe we’ll see data, meta-data, unused data, and all computer made open to all the public when the paper is published, even if published behind a pay wall.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        Why do and others here keep insisting the public in the US has the ability to understand the science of climate change? What evidence can you point to that supports the argument that the US public has ‘deep’ intellectual understanding of the science involved? If you could, focus on this specific question, and don’t spin it, though I know that’s a difficult challenge.

      • AEG – Hint: See sarcasm.

      • For starters, the 15,000+ comments here were mostly written by the US public, and they reflect a good understanding of the science. The basic issues are painfully simple. In fact even the more ignorant comments on other blogs manage to do pretty well with the basic science. You don’t have to be a scientist to understand that climate models are unreliable, and that is the core issue. The threat of dangerous warming is solely in the models.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        Really? 15000 comments means something to you? Do you see 15000 people showing up to post? No.
        And your subjective opinion is that the science is understood? You don’t have to be a scientist to know what repeated propaganda is. You’re doing a fine job, but then look at your background.

      • Do you see me bothering to post in The Guardian? No.
        Do you see me bothering to publish papers? No.

        People don’t read papers but people do read comments in The Guardian.

        Regrettably both efforts don’t mean much. In the unlikely event that it does have significant influence, it usually works being for some rubbish frivolity.

        Much of science research is costly, time consuming, next-to-meaningless crap. A lot of stuff which gains wide readership and broad citation is political tagging.

        Meaningful, consequential, progressive research comes in sporadic dribbles.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        “People don’t read papers, but people do read comments in the The Guardian”.
        If you’re correct, and I believe you are, this does mean much and greatly influences how JQP views AGW. As I argue, that doesn’t mean they know squat about the sporadic, dribbling, science. Polls in the US confirm this view.

      • H’mmmm

        I think that by now the only people who read the comments in the Guardian are True Believers anyway.

        Their moderation policy has been so successful that most other commentators have either been barred or have drifted away elsewhere..having realised that the game there is rigged. Even George Monbiot hardly contributes on AGW any more and has moved on to other topics.

        For real blood and guts debate on AGW, you now need the Telegraph where the ‘robust’ Mr Delingpole wields his sword of ridicule with characteristic panache. And comments form all sides are pretty lightly moderated. Severe bad language is frowned upon, but otherwise anybody is free to contribute. An example below.


      • Losers are whiners.

      • Wow, you claim to understand the “basic issues”, but then go on to state “threat of dangerous warming is solely in the models”. One doesn’t need a climate model to determine climate sensitivity (Arrhenius and others managed to do so without climate models), one doesn’t need a model to measure CO2 and the other GHGs and their sources, and one doesn’t need a model to determine that a few degrees C increase leaves us with an ice-free planet with drowned cities. All those things were understood and known before there were any climate models at all.

        If you’re an exemplar of the “good understanding of the science” by the public, then you’ve got a lot of *misunderstanding* to undo.

      • But you do need some form of ‘model’ to take all those things and add an arbitrary positive feedback to make a gentle warming into something that can be spun as a grave danger.

        Even if it is only a simple physical model of how you believe this mechanism might work.

        Models do not have to be big and complex and run in computers. But they do need to be verified somehow. Otherwise they are as much use as a chocolate teapot.

      • Actually, you’re wrong. A climate model is wholly unnecessary to determine the basics of climate science, as the basics have been known since before there were climate models – like I’ve already said.

      • OK, Derecho64, would you care to share your equations? of the entire climate with us? Be sure to account fully for clouds and ocean currents.

      • You missed my point. David claimed that “[t]he threat of dangerous warming is solely in the models”, which I’ve shown to be incorrect. Here’s a little video from 1958 (long before anything resembling climate models existed) that shows what I mean:


        Now, if the reality is as David claims, how do you explain this state of knowledge in 1958?

      • Thank you for asserting so boldly that I am wrong.

        To assure me that you are indeed correct and that I am indeed wrong, please explain the feedback mechanism to me whereby a small change in temperature because of CO2 is amplified by other GHGs. And to make your pint you must do so without the use of some form of ‘model’ of the physics.

        AFAIK it is not derivable from any of the basic physical laws like thermodynamics, gravity etc. But I am prepared to be proven to be wrong and will openly acknowledge my error if you can demonstrate it.

        FYI I have an MSc in Atmospheric and Physical Chemistry. I may not be bright enough to understand Climatology, but once upon a while I could do Thermodynamics reasonably well. And kinetics. They were important things to us.

        It would be a kindness if you were able to derive the whole thing without reference to a lot of other papers. You obviously think it is a trivial task, so it shouldn’t need references. You could start with the Laws of Thermodynamics which I certainly have no quibble with.

        Fire away. I await your answer with great interest.

      • Whoa – nice goalpost moving there. The original claim was that without climate models, the concept of “dangerous warming” wouldn’t exist. I showed that to be incorrect, as that concept existed before climate models did.

        Now you want to throw out all models (regardless) – I hate to tell you this, but “F=ma” is a model. You’re asking questions about reality but insisting that I refrain from using any “model” at all – which includes human conceptual knowledge, which is itself a “model”. Sorry, no can do.

      • No goalposts moved at all. They remain exactly where they were, and have always been. I asserted that to explain the feedback process you need to use some kind of model. You disagreed. I challenged you to prove it. You declined.

        You have not been able to demonstrate, as challenged, that

        ‘A climate model is wholly unnecessary to determine the basics of climate science, as the basics have been known since before there were climate models’. You fail.

        And you then admit ‘even F=ma’ is some sort of a model (agreed). Finally you guide us to a video of an old film where a guy says ‘if the atmosphere warmed up a few degrees, its been calculated that the Polar ice caps would melt and……(half of the US would be under water).

        If that is not using a model of how atmospheric warming would affect the icecaps, and hence the physical geography, then I wonder how else you would describe it? If they had no physical model in ther heads when they did the calculations, what did they use…Teleconnections? Cocaine? Divine Inspiration from L. Ron Hubbard?

        Next time perhaps you might be more cautious in your condemnations of others as being wrong. Especially when you then go and prove their point for them.

        And you still have not touched upon the feedbacl process which was the subject of my original remarks.

        You now assert that even F=ma is some kind of model. I don’t disagree.

      • David claimed that ” The threat of dangerous warming is solely in the models”. I showed an example of a film that showed that AGW would be dangerous (unless you don’t consider a submerged Miami “dangerous”) from 1958, before there were climate models.

        Now you want to move the goalposts to indict “models” – and, as I pointed out, “F=ma” is a model. You seem to think that “models” are bad – but basically all of human knowledge is a model! How much of our knowledge do you want to trash because you have a suspicion of “models”?

      • In reply to various of your posts (we have got as far down the nesting as we can go).

        I do not have a problem with models per se. I used to write the b..y things in Atmospheric Chemistry. I am familiar (a bit) with their creation, and very familiar with their use.

        The point both David and I were trying to make is that a model that has not been verified is no good at all. Relying exclusively on model predictions which have no experimental backup tells us absolutely nothing.

        You then wandered off into your bizarre assertion that you could create all of climate science without using models of any sort. Upon being challenged to do so you then proved to yourself that which was already obvious to everyone else…that this assertion was total tosh. Somehow you brought in an interesting old video – where the guy had clearly used a ‘model’ to predict the effect of higher temperatures on sealevels.

        So – yes I agree with you. All of climate science relies on models. But we disagree because I believe that models must be rigorously verified before they are of any use to us. You seem to believe that as long as you start with the First Law of Thermodynamics, you should be able to derive the death of a polar bear in Canada. And all without lookign out of the window.

        I;m sure Mother Nature still has plenty of surprises up her sleeve. And you don’t get to see them all by looking at computer screens.

        PS – I spent 30 years in technical and managerial posts in IT. I am not a technophobe….but I do understand the limitations of what can be achieved. Number crunching is not a replacement for engaging with reality.. but it can be a useful adjunct.

      • I *never* said “You then wandered off into your bizarre assertion that you could create all of climate science without using models of any sort.” That’s a grave misstatement of what I said. If you can’t be honest enough to be accurate about what I claimed, then there’s no reason to continue the argument.

        Psst – an equation is a “model”. If you want to throw away all “models” because models are bad, then please, throw out all the sciences. Good luck!

      • Reply to Derech’s last post

        ‘One doesn’t need a climate model to determine climate sensitivity (Arrhenius and others managed to do so without climate models), one doesn’t need a model to measure CO2 and the other GHGs and their sources, and one doesn’t need a model to determine that a few degrees C increase leaves us with an ice-free planet with drowned cities. All those things were understood and known before there were any climate models at all’

        Your own words.

      • Really? How much before? Was it understood in the 70s when all the ‘sperts were solemnly intoning that “The Ice Age Cometh”, and that persons then alive might well see the ice sheets advancing across Europe and North America?

        Did general enlightenment strike when the temperatures turned upwards? Was this a benign effect of Cranial Warming?

        Do explificate, pleeze!

      • That’s a bit harsh, AEG. Obviously not everyone in this country could understand all of climate science. But in a country where 30% have college degrees, I would venture to guess that the problem is more lack of cogent, plain English explanations in accessible media channels coupled with lack of time and/or interest.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        So the scientists do science, and the media does…garbage. Agreed. Take a look at what most Americans (those 30%) major in . Is it still Bus Ad., Educ and Psych? I wonder.
        But not too much.

    • Climate scientists do not believe that the general public is dumb. That statement is pretty indicative of why climate scientists have avoided public engagement from time to time.

      Oh, hence the ‘No comment’ approach

    • You are suggesting that ‘No response’ is appropriate.

      1) That can be inferred as a tacit admission that an error has been made and is being investigated. A follow up statement will be forthcoming.

      2) That can be inferred as a supplementary assertion that the state of the science has been adequately communicated and no further statement is required at this time.

      3) ?

      Ok, so the public ain’t stupid. Accepted.

      Speaking for myself personally, I am sufficiently dumb that I am unable to decide upon what you infer by what you say.

      Please can you elaborate upon what you mean by ‘Silence is appropriate’?

  67. As a retired chemist with a career in a big corporation and some hands-on environmental science experience from my time in academia and industry, having some interesting first-hand experience on interplays of Government and Industry with environmental and health research, I was always following climate related discussions, at arm length. When I started looking into different blogs I was shocked by the aggressive, humiliating and selfish communication style of many so called ‘climate scientists’ using their time more for advocating ‘settled’ science and attacking ‘skeptics’, than for research. This turned me easily from a ‘skeptic believer’ into what hardcore ‘warmists’ may plainly define as a ‘skeptic’ or ‘denier’. Long before Climategate.
    As a consequence I then started to read more ‘skeptic’ science and some blogs, realizing that many ‘skeptic’ scientists are not ‘science deniers’ at all, on the contrary, they need to be taken seriously.
    I consider GW/GK(ooling) very difficult subject per se, and AGW makes it even more difficult. While I believe that we need to move forward searching for intelligent energy solutions to eventually substitute fossil fuels, despite new oil/gas/carbon discoveries that may give us 1000 years or more of time, I think that CO2 as control knob will not work. I also do not believe that controlling CO2 necessarily limits or stops GW, my feeling is that natural influences are actually eclipsing any CO2-induced effect. I have also some gut feeling, that a moderate GW has more positive effects than a moderate GK on our world and the humanity. Being a chemist, I consider ‘Ocean acidification by CO2’ a chemical no-go.
    I am open to change my mind on all issues if the science offers credible evidences for me. I no longer consider myself a ‘scientist’ (I was one long time ago), but I hope having kept some healthy ‘science skepticism’ and a feeling for honest and good ‘climate science’.
    All what I said above is to briefly inform on my background and my position on AGW, it was by no means written to start endless discussions about some of the controversial issues mentioned. You should have realized by now, that English is not my mother tongue.
    Now my comment to this Blog:
    I am a bit disappointed with the tenor of the Blog which is about strategies on how to best communicate ‘settled science’ and how ‘scientists’ should better deal with the ‘skeptics’ and with the media. It looks like presentations in a Sales/Marketing Convention set up to re-define strategies for reviving revenues of the aging cash cow- commodity called AGW, in view of the new customer profile (stubborn, dumb people, conservative politicians, science deniers, and the like out there).

    The weaker the product, the more marketing it needs to be sold.
    BTW, I agree with most of Willis’ comments, especially when it comes to the Science debate, which matters a lot. The Product needs improvements, not it’s marketing.

    May I now contribute with some ‘semi-skeptical’ advice and thoughts to the ‘sales agents’ attending this ‘Convention’?
    1. Give up the pontificating ‘Science is settled’ attitude, it comes through, regardless of the wording or communication startegy.
    a. ‘Science is settled’ is an oxymoron because science cannot be ‘settled’ unless it reaches a status of Natural Law, like the Law of Gravity, the Thermodynamic Laws, Relativity Theory, etc.
    b. The highly complex ‘climate science’ with its thousands of variables, big uncertainties and heavy focus on modeling will never fully capture the real climate development and will therefore remain incomplete and always highly debatable.
    c. Stop thus comparing artificially established AGW dogmas with natural laws; people with a minimum of science background know that this is ‘unscientific’.
    2. Define for yourself what it takes to reach the status of a ‘Climate Scientist’. Share your thoughts with your peers.
    3. Define for yourself what you think is needed to be a ‘Skeptic’, a ‘Heretic’ and a ‘Denier’. Share your thoughts with your peers.
    4. Stop creating two parties and stop labeling them as ‘climate scientists’ and ‘skeptics’.
    a. It gives the impression that the truth is only at one side (‘settled science’ – again).
    b. The fact is that both sides have excellent, very good, good and mediocre scientists.
    5. Give up the old and simplistic litany that ‘Big Oil’ and ‘Big Coal’ finance ‘skepticism’.
    a. Today’s reality is, that ‘Big Oil’ and ‘Big Coal’ support (and advocate for) whatever helps them secure and rise their long-term profitability and intrinsic equity value (including alternative energies) and whoever helps them building a ‘Good Citizen’ image (e.g. BP/Greenpeace). Remark: CO2 must be mentioned in Sustainability Reports, programs and Position Papers of every major Corporation worldwide, including Big Oil and Big Coal, otherwise they would get bad marks from rating agencies.
    b. Big Oil and Big Coal are not different from ‘Big Insurance’ (e.g. ‘prediction’ of more hurricanes as tool to increase insurance primes) and ‘Big Banking’ (huge investments with tax money, via Government). (That’s why also ‘Big Government’ pushes in the same direction).
    c. Conclusion: Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Insurance, Big Banking and other ‘Bigs’, they all support (often for greenwash though) the so called ‘consensus’ in one way or another because they smell easy money and/or political benefits.
    6. The scientists among you, start finally accepting offers for real debate with ‘skeptical’ scientists on scientific grounds
    a. (People like Judith, von Storch and a handful others are certainly open for this, although some may consider them ‘heretic’ or even ‘skeptic’ because of their openness or because they don’t declare every single bad weather event as proof of AGW).
    b. These debates shouldn’t allow ad hominem attacks and be restricted to scientific argumentation only.
    c. Bear in mind, that these ‘skeptic scientists’ are, believe it or not, generally highly qualified, not just dumb ‘science deniers’, either because they managed to survive the test of long ‘research funding drought’ and extreme hard scrutiny of their papers in the peer review process (as opposed to papers supporting ‘consensus’ compatible views, Naomi Oreskes may introduce a weighing factor in their paper count), or because they just cannot be ignored due to their high scientific merits/awards or because they are financing themselves, or because they are already retired or semi retired, now independent from funding.
    7. Be critical with some colleagues crossing the border to nonsense in their eagerness to sell AGW, e.g. like a famous professor trying to convince with a “peer”-reviewed paper that AGW may increase illegal Mexican immigration.

    A last comment:
    It is understandable, not new and natural that Politics and the Media spoil Science fields that have the potential of delivering results of high impact on politics and the society. Scientists tend to loose their independent mindset when placed in the strong magnetic fields of Politics and Media: They try to deliver what they are paid/funded for and will defend their privileges with all available means pushing themselves into advocacy or even activism. Science is then the big looser, regardless where the papers get published.

    • Thank you for that post. You speak with great conviction and sincerity.

    • Excellent post, throughout. Covers almost the gamut of important considerations and points. I will refer others to it.

      As far as your English goes, it is far better than average. Only 2½ errors caught my eye, and they are common among native speakers, too.
      1. “it’s” is not possessive. Here’s the template: His, hers, its; He’s, she’s, it’s. Pick the correct group, and you’ll never make this error.
      2½. You used “loose” instead of “lose”, and “looser” instead of “loser”. “Loose” sounds like “goose”, and means not-tight.

      Thanks again for your considerable thought and time in putting that comment together.

    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      RE 5c
      Why would Big Oil and Big Coal be pumping so much money into denier propaganda if they ‘smell money’, and for years? No, I’m not giving up the ‘simplistic litany’ that the energy mafia does not finance AGW skepticism. Evidence is to the contrary.

      When I read junk like this I immediately smell corporate ‘shill’. Call me a skeptic.

      • I think you’re application to join the Worshipful Company of Sceptics and Scientists is unlikely to succeed this time around.

        Just show me one speck of proof that Big Oil or other bodies paid Frederico or me or any of the others here or elsewhere money to write their blogs. An invoice, a cheque, a confession from a recipient, a confession from a perpetrator. Evidence that some bloggers are writing to order (eg by theme analysis). And some indication of what the pay rates are likely to be. How are the blogs approved? Do bloggers just get given a thousand dollars a week and told to go for it? How do they prove that they have done what they got paid for? How does Big Oil measure the effectiveness of such initiatives?

        What happens if a paid blogger gets pissed off with the pay and writes all about his experiences (with evidence) here? Would you suddenly decide to pay large sums to a blogger on the other side of the world who you are never likely to meet F2F and tell them to go represent your interests…no questions asked?

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        Let’s use Friends of Science as an example. Go to sourcewatch to see how it’s done.

      • I did.

        Please draw my attention to the extract where it discusses paying sceptical people to write on blogs. I saw a number of allegations, but could not track down that specific one. I’d really like to know how its done so that I can apply.

        Maybe I just missed it. Please guide me to it.

      • 48 hours later. No reply from AEG.

      • Pleas show us all of that money going into skeptical causes?
        And your use of ‘denier’ is simply a politically correct way for you to cal people ‘ni**er’, by the way.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        I think the term ‘denier’ is more PC than ‘fraud’. Would you prefer I use fraud instead?
        I’ll leave it up to the African-Americans reading here to determine if ‘denier’ is on par with ‘ni**er’.

      • Please give evidence of the fraud you believe has taken place.

        And just to make it easy for us, not just a vague pointer to a general area…but specific actual evidence of fraud. Thanks.

      • See John Mashey’s audit of the Wegman report.

      • I did.

        I did not see any accusations, nor evidence, of fraud.

        Please guide me to them. A simple reference to the relevant page number(s) will suffice.


      • Yawn….the record’s stuck again.

  68. > Being a chemist, I consider ‘Ocean acidification by CO2’ a chemical no-go.

    Would you care to elaborate?

    • Oceans contain about 50 times more CO2 than the atmosphere and are important regulators of the atmospheric CO2 concentration. They were uptaking, releasing and storing CO2 since billions of years, roughly: absorbing in cold waters, releasing in warm waters, storing in deep waters, consumed by phytoplankton and algae, and reacting with rocks and sediments. The buffering capacity of oceans is immense and ever recuperating. Phytoplankton consumes CO2, like terrestrial plants, and transfers this via zooplankton to marine organisms, hence indirectly promoting their growth.
      This is a good basic reading about:
      (Funny enough, at the end of the article, discussion is about possible alternatives using oceans as sinks to capture CO2 for lowering concentrations in the atmosphere).
      Some more basics: CO2 alone cannot lower the pH of pure water below about 5.5, at normal temperature. (pH in CO2-saturated table water, rainwater, etc.). This is because CO2 has a low solubility in water and the carbonic acid in solution is a weak acid (as opposed to hydrochloric or sulphuric acids which are ‘strong’ ones.

      • frederico –
        Your comments on the review article by Doney et al. would be appreciated.

      • Thank you for your reply.

        I notice that http://www.waterencyclopedia.com does not seem to have an About page. Do you know by any chance who is the editor of this site? It seems that the holder of the domain name is enom dot com.

        I also note that the references of the article stops at 2001. Do you know why?

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        If you’re going to post primers see also ‘Ocean Acidification’ at wikipedia, with 51 citations and recommended reading.

  69. Rod Montgomery

    Would not trying to reach second-order agreement — that is, agreement on what the argument is about — be more useful than smiting each other ever more vigorously with the jawbones of asses?


    The “prohibition against asking questions”, currently being practiced by proponents of “consensus” Climate Science, is a polemical device of modern gnostics — i.e. of those who preach Salvation through the acquisition of Hidden Knowledge, in the form of Systems constructed by the Enlightened Elite — as part of intellectual swindles in a variety of venues, all focused on obtaining political power. See Eric Voegelin, Science, Politics and Gnosticism.

    Contrast Richard Feynman’s characterization, in his address on “Cargo Cult Science”, of the attitude underlying science as he understood it:

    “Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be
    given, if you know them. You must do the best you can–if you know
    anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong–to explain it. If you
    make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then
    you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well
    as those that agree with it. … [T]he idea is to try to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the
    information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or


    • Extremely good question.
      One aspect of AGW I have come to notice clearly is the annoying and cowardly evasiveness of the social movement.

  70. Dressler vs Lindzen

    I needed some real time to listen and observe, but I’ve found some. Before long, Dressler having spoken first, I was conscious that I was becoming somewhat put off by Dressler’s style. Some of it isn’t his fault — his voice is a little high-pitched, and he has an emotional side to his teaching style. Lindzen was a relief, because he was measured, relatively unemotional, and polite. More to the point, he seemed better able to marshal an argument.

    Now I put it this way because I imagine that each of us will prefer the one who says what we would like to hear, rather than listen as absolutely open-minded people to two cases. And I was admitting my own bias.

    But I felt also that the AGW orthodoxy has the harder task in any such debate. As I see it, the spokesman for the orthodox needs to be able to show that the warming is real, large, unprecedented and dangerous. The spokesman for scepticism, or natural variability, needs only to ask questions. He (or she) does not have to have a rival theory at all, only to test all claims as they are put forward.

    It may be for this reason that the orthodox are reluctant to argue with an able antagonist like Lindzen. It’s a difficult job to do well, and it seemed to me that Lindzen was considerably the superior on the day.

    • He’s the superior on the week, month, year, decade, and century, too.


    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      You must’ve needed a smoke break like Lindzen, who could put babies to sleep. Why do I say this? Lindzen does not believe in ‘natural variability’. Were you asleep? He was arguing, miserably, about positive vs negatives feedback, and he was not simply ‘asking questions’. He did get upset when his paper (Lindzen and Choi, 2009) was publicly chewed to pieces.
      Nothing new here.

      • Michael Larkin

        AEG: Lindzen smokes. Well, I guess that means that to be a credible scientist, one musn’t smoke, eh? I guess they forgot to tell Einstein about that.

        Dessler pulled the same stunt in the talk, and mentioning it was really scraping the ad-hom barrel. The chain of inference the audience is supposed to take is that there’s some connection with Big Tobacco, and that just because Lindzen is prepared to take a risk with tobacco, it doesn’t mean we should take a risk with CO2.

        You see, this kind of thing is exactly what detracts from, rather than adds to, the impression that the orthodoxy wants to talk about the science. It’s endlessly repeated, and as soon as it occurs, it risks alienating even the uncommitted.

        Engaging with the public would need to incorporate a degree of reflection on the unintended negative impacts of playing the man rather than the ball. All ad-homs would need to be ruthlessly expunged so that, at the least, proponents could be seen to be adopting the ethical high ground. If they did that as a minimum, then people might listen a little more attentively.

    • Dressler is one of the best debaters of the AW promoters because he is also political, having worked with Gore to help sell AGW to politicians back when Gore was VP.
      His ability to pretend he found the missing hot spot in the face of no evidence, as well as to dismiss counter data he does not like, is well regarded in the AGW movement.

    • Michael Larkin

      Yes. I have now viewed this myself. I thought Dessler started off by covering some of the basics quite well, and was expecting him to go on to deal with some of the difficult issues competently. But at some point, he switched over into advocacy mode and hand-waving. I might as well have been reading comments on a pro-AGW blog.

      One “popular level” thing he said was that only a few degrees cooling could lead to an ice age, so it was a mistake to think a few degrees warming might not be a problem. The inference one was supposed to take, perhaps, was the equivalence between the effects of a few degrees cooling and a few degrees warming: so there would be something akin to the severity of an ice-age with a similar albeit opposite temperature change.

      However, when we look at actual periods in geological history when there were a few degrees warming, do we see calamity on the same scale? That can be directly linked to warming? I can’t help feeling that if we could say that, Dessler would have provided examples.

      He agreed from the get-go that Lindzen accepted CO2 was a GHG that is increasing due to anthropogenic activity, and that it would probably cause some warming. Which hardly anyone disagrees with, of course – though he seems to think that many do.

      His choosing to critique a version of Lindzen and Choi’s paper that they have actually subsequently corrected didn’t come across as very principled. Had Lindzen not actually been there to point that out, an audience would have been mislead.

      As for Lindzen’s presentation, I have seen him present something very similar before, using the same slides. I’m not saying that makes his points any the less effective, but I think he’s at his best when engaged on the hoof. The kind of debate I’d like to see would be more interactive in that sense.

      All in all, the orthodoxy need to field someone with more gravitas than Dessler if they are going to have a hope of making a dent in Lindzen. If such a dent can be made, so be it.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        You seem to be suggesting here that Lindzen didn’t advocate, is that correct? So Dressler fails because he enters into advocacy, but Lindzen advocates and you can handle that?

      • Michael Larkin

        No, I think Lindzen did engage in some advocacy, but he handwaved less. Literally as well as metaphorically.

  71. Raving: Attacking the credibility of science because of ‘climategate’ has the psychological effect of bolstering the scientist’s opinion that their work and methods are correct. Criticizing science has the irrational consequence of encouraging scientists to be more confident in their original assertions than they might otherwise be.

    The problem is that the scientists involved take the position that science is being attacked. It is not. The “attacks” on the consensus from the skeptical community are generally assaults on the ethics, objectivity and competency of scientists, not science. At least to me, claims of defending”science” appear to be nothing more than individual scientists claiming Papal infallibility with regard to “scientific truth”. Saying that a priest is guilty of pedophilia may cause the church problems, but it is not an attack on christianity. It is a bad policy to claim that the accusation of guilt is an attack on christianity because most people instinctively identify this as a defence by distraction and see it as a sign of a weak positition.
    Claiming that skeptics are attacking “science” or are “antiscience” is simply a way of offering an emotional attack on the skeptics. Most scientifically oriented people associate science with knowledge and truth. By saying skeptics are attacking science you are accusing them of attacking knowledge and truth. This is no different than a religious person calling an accuser a blasphemer.
    Most laypeople judge the credibility of an expert by nontechnical measures.
    Defensiveness, evasiveness, emotional appeals over rational discourse and debate, appeals to authority, exaggeration, browbeating and overconfidence are all signs that the public use to determine their trust in an expert.

    Think about it this way, if you had cancer and went to a onocolgist which speech would be more effective in getting you to do what that doctor recommended:
    Speech #1: “You don’t need a second opinion. You must trust me. I am the expert. You should have treatment A. Everyone agrees that Treatment A is the only way to treat your disease. There is no other treatment! Treatment B? Why are you bringing that up? Are you stupid? Treatment B is only used by quacks in the pay of the evil pharmaceutical companies” You shouldn’t be researching treatments, your not smart enough. It is time to stop questioning me and begin treatment A.

    Speech #2: I have 20 years experience in treating your disease. I believe treatment A is the best option. Treatment A would be the recommended choice of most physicians. A few physicians favor Treatment B. While there is some evidence supporting their position, the preponderance of evidence support Treatment A. I will make all data available to you and encourage you to seek other opinions. I am certain you will see that my recommended treatment is the logical choice.”

    • Doesn’t that rather depend on whether there really is a credible Treatment B? Some people may claim that homeopathy is a viable treatment for cancer but I would be amazed if any doctor suggested this as a potentially plausible alternative.

      • Point. Missed. Bigtime.

        End of stick. Grasped. Wrong!

        The difference was in the tone and presentation, not in the substance.

        If that point has really escaped you, there is no hope for you guys at all.

    • Yes I agree with your elaboration. Very good.

      For better or worse, when the attack is focused on the work of a specific scientist, the defensive posture and counter attack can be vicious and intensely subjective.

  72. And I can imagine the “skeptical” patient’s response –

    “Why should I trust your opinion anyway, you claim to be more qualified than me to decide what treatment is best but that’s just appeal to authority and I have a PhD myself you know, and you were a bit rude to me when I came in last time and I read that you were fiddling your taxes so how can I trust your professional judgement?
    And how can you warn me against trusting PR material from drug companies when you receive hundreds of thousands of pounds from the government to run your surgery? If doctors didn’t tell people they were ill then they wouldn’t get any funding so you are obviously acting out of self-interest, and your treatment will make my hair fall out – why should the rest of us go along with your agenda to create a world full of bald people? If you want to get your hands on my taxes and make me go bald then it’s up to you to persuade me that I really have cancer, otherwise I will refuse to believe you. Then you’ll be sorry. “

    • Show me climate science practicing anything close to modern medicine, please.
      Climate science is, unfortunately, practicing something closer to what Feynman calls Cargo cult science.
      “Please pick a more apt analogy. Perhaps: Climate scientists comes in and says:
      We saw a blue light in the field last night and your cow died. Therefor the blue light killed your cow. Therefor, give us a tax on your fields cows and home while we attack the blue light.”

    • Yes, the problem is that climate science is nowhere near as banged-out as modern medical science. In fact AGW is pretty much climate science’s first case with humanity as the patient.

      Leaving aside the misconduct of top climate scientists, the other problem facing climate scientists is that the past decade or so has shown a lull in global warming although the AGHGs continue to increase in total and in yearly rate.

      This is not what climate scientists predicted, and sure, they can hide behind “Weather is not climate” for a while longer or start blaming aerosols or some new factor X, while changing the name of the disease from global warming to climate change to global climate disruption, but it does not inspire confidence.

      Maybe climate scientists will be like Hugh Laurie in “House” and almost kill us several times before saving us … or maybe we die anyway and that’s just the way it is.

      • Show me where climate scientists say that as CO2 increases, temperatures increase in direct proportion and in lockstep with the CO2 increase. Just one quote, paper or other auditable reference, to prove your assertion correct.