Understanding conservative religious resistance to climate science

This post is a Q&A with Dr. David Gushee, who is Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University, his personal web site is here and Wikipedia bio is here.

Dr. Gushee is an internationally recognized Holocaust scholar and ethicist. His current research interests focus on issues emerging at the intersection between Christian faith, ethics and public policy. He has written or edited 12 books, including:


Dr. Gushee has engaged as an activist and public intellectual on a number of controversial issues. Of particular relevance here, Dr. Gushee was the principal drafter of the 2006 Evangelical Climate Initiative and remains deeply involved in efforts to address climate change and other environmental issues. During the 2008 presidential campaign, he was contacted by candidate Barack Obama and he spoke at the 2008 Democratic Convention.

There is an interesting story behind how I met Dr. Gushee.  In December 2006,  the Center for Health and Global Environment at Harvard Medical School and the National Association of Evangelicals  held a first-of-its-kind retreat to unite 30 faith leaders and scientists on issues of climate change and global warming.  Among the scientists attending were E.O. Wilson, Jim Hansen, and Gus Spaeth.  The retreat was held at an old plantation in Malvern, GA, and I was privileged to attend.  Not knowing much about evangelicals, I had no idea what to expect of this meeting.  One thing that I did not expect was to encounter such a deep and profound thinker as Dr. David Gushee.  When Dr. Gushee moved to to Mercer University (in Atlanta), we reconnected and we have participated in events at each other’s institution.

One thing that I learned from this retreat was that many evangelicals view their religion as being consistent with evolution, and one of the participants, Reverend Ken Wilson, send me the book by Francis Collins entitled The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.

Without further ado, lets hear from Dr. Gushee.

JC: Can you characterize evangelicalism, and give us some demographics (both in the U.S. and if relevant world wide)

DG: Evangelicalism is a term generally used to describe theologically conservative Protestant Christians. There are a variety of more technical definitions of the characteristics of evangelicalism. In my book, The Future of Faith in American Politics (http://tinyurl.com/29tm6gj), I name three possible approaches for defining evangelicals: one is by denominations (ex. Southern Baptists), one is by the specific content of religious beliefs (ex: high view of the authority of the Bible, belief that Christ died for the salvation of all), and one is by self-definition (ex: when asked what they believe, the person says that they are “evangelical”). Combining these measures and various surveys, it is estimated that some 25% of the US population is evangelical. Ninety percent of these evangelicals are white, but there are also a very large number of black and Hispanic evangelicals. Globally, it is estimated that there are 420,000,000 evangelicals, over half of them non-white. Evangelicalism, especially the highly emotive and Spirit-oriented version of evnagelicalism known as Pentecostalism, is the fastest growing form of Christianity in the world by far. Evangelicalism should not be confused with fundamentalism, which is a rigidly conservative version of religion that surfaces in every religious tradition, including Protestantism.

JC:  Give us some history on the involvement of evangelicals in the climate change debate (and politics).

DG: Evangelicals are politically divided even if one can broadly describe a shared religious paradigm. In the popular mind, most associate American evangelicalism with conservative politics, and this has been largely the case since the emergence of the Christian Right in the 1970s. But even during the headiest days of the Christian Right, there were always alternative and dissenting voices. This is a reminder that evangelical theology doesn’t have to mean conservative politics; indeed, there is quite a ferocious debate within evangelicalism over what kind of politics is best read off of the witness of the Bible whose authority we all believe in.

In my book on faith and politics, I suggest that as of 2008 roughly half of white evangelicals remained politically conservative, perhaps 15% liberal, and 35% centrist. Recent conservative gains would probably shrink the center category in favor of the conservative. I think it is predictable that no matter who runs in the 2012 presidential election against Barack Obama, around 70% of white evangelicals will vote for the Republican. Latino evangelicals are more fluid in their voting patterns at this stage and black voters are more liberal in their voting even while theologically conservative.

So a strong majority of white evangelicals in the United States (every term there is significant–this is a white, US pattern) tend to vote Republican and to hold to a politically conservative ideology. Therefore it is not a surprise (sadly) that going back to the emergence of environmentalism in the 1960s-1970s, most white evangelicals were either disinterested or opposed to environmentalism. Sometimes this was due to (in my view, spurious) religious reasons, such as the fear that environmentalism as a whole was characterized by non-Christian or anti-Christian eligious beliefs or presuppositions. Other times it was clearly related to a generalized anti-“left” politics, with environmentalism being treated as a cause of the left.

The climate change debate didn’t really surface in evangelicalism until the early part of the 21st century. Few American evangelicals knew much about the ongoing development of climate science and the growing consensus that the climate was changing primarily due to human activity. Few of us had even heard of the IPCC and a UN process to study the climate and to trigger policy responses as the science solidified.

The climate issue was brought to my attention through the work of the Evangelical Environmental Network, led by Rev. Jim Ball. This small evangelical group had been around since the early ’90s and was indeed paying attention to climate science. EEN played a convening role in 2004 in getting some leading evangelicals together to listen to the findings of climate scientists like the evangelical Briton Sir John Houghton, who played a key role in the IPCC. Many of us found Dr. Houghton and others quite convincing. We agreed together to try to mobilize the evangelical community from what was, at the time, mainly a stance of apathy and disinterest.

JC:  Tell us about your own involvement in the climate change debate

DG: The 2004 creation care conference that I just mentioned was followed by an effort to draft a simple but significant statement on climate change. It came to be known as the Evangelical Climate Initiative, and I was the principal drafter of the statement. See http://christiansandclimate.org/. The statement, which was released in 2006, basically says: 1) human-induced climate change is real, 2) the consequences of climate change will be significant, and will hit the poor the hardest, 3) Christian moral convictions demand our response to the climate change problem, and 4) We need to act now–governments, businesses, churches, and individuals all have a role to play. It should be noted that the IPCC was treated as foundational for the claims of this document, though the statements of the various national scientific academies were also cited.

About six dozen key evangelical leaders signed the original statement, and it made a major media splash. But then the pushback came, and it was fierce. A newly organized group, eventually known as the Cornwall Alliance (http://www.cornwallalliance.org/), offered a counter-statement and now exists as a counter-voice to the Evangelical Environmental Network. This group questions mainstream climate science, questions the seriousness of the impact of climate change, expresses worry that the major policy responses under consideration will actually hurt the poor, and is especially negative about government regulation of business activity in the name of climate. I read them as being motivated  by a strongly libertarian, laissez-faire economic ideology and a strongly Calvinist theology which leads them to doubt that God would permit human beings to have any serious impact on the climate.

It seems to me that the general turn toward climate skepticism in the US setting over the last couple of years has been influenced by the efforts of this group and others like it. The economic downturn has everyone concerned about doing anything that might negatively affect business and prosperity, and American evangelicalism has tended to revert toward its instinctive political conservatism. For now at least, the ECI looks to have been a high water mark of evangelical environmental activism as it relates to climate change.

JC:  What are the ingredients of evangelical climate skepticism?   How does creationism play into this?

DG:  I have suggested in some public lectures that there are several ingredients of evangelical climate skepticism:

1) Disdain for the environmental movement
2) Distrust of mainstream science in general (evolution vs. creationism is indeed a factor here for some)
3) Distrust of the mainstream media (nicely captured by Sarah Palin’s derisive term “lamestream media”)
4) Loyalty to the Republican Party
5) Libertarian economics as God’s will–God is opposed to government regulation or taxation
6) Misunderstandings of divine sovereignty–God won’t let us ruin creation
7) Unreconstructed Dominion theology–Genesis 1–God calls human beings to subdue and rule creation

To summarize, then: God is sovereign over creation and therefore humans can do no permanent damage. God entrusted the earth to human dominion and we should not be afraid of economic development or other uses of human creativity. God established government for very limited purposes such as providing for the common defense–government should not intervene much in the workings of a free market economy. The Republican Party has taken a skeptical posture toward climate and we support that posture and that party. The media is overplaying climate change worries, at the behest of scientists who cannot be trusted anyway; it may all be a conspiracy to limit our personal and business freedoms and tax us even more. The environmental movement is secular/pagan and has always been a threat to American liberties and has always been anti-business and exaggerated environmental problems.

Nice worldview, huh? I disagree with just about every word of it.

JC:  Tell us about Creation Care and the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good.

DG:  My one-year-old activist organization, the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good (www.nepcg.org ) includes commitment to care of God’s creation as one of its core planks. We never thought that climate change was the only environmental concern worth caring about but we do believe that climate remains at risk and that the broad patterns identified by the IPCC and others are indisputable. We are looking for creative ways to reach the hearts and minds of evangelicals in a time when many remain highly skeptical of the entire climate issue.

Can I say one thing for the scientists who read this? Laypeople like us (in terms of science) need good science from your side. We depend on the accuracy and credibility of your findings. To the extent, for example, that ECI’s claims were based on IPCC, and to the extent that IPCC got a little sloppy or a little carried away with advocacy, our own efforts to work within our community have been damaged.

I am the son of an MIT-trained chemical engineer who did environmental policy analysis for the Congressional Research Service. I am among those evangelicals who can handle the push and pull, ebb and flow, and constantly unfinished nature of real scientific research. I trust this kind of science and need to be able to trust it to do good teaching and advocacy. So let’s agree on a division of labor in which climatologists and other scientists offer the unvarnished truth about where your research stands at any given moment, what is both known and unknown, and we can craft our advocacy claims realistically based on what you are finding. I fear that in the white-hot spotlight of climate science sometimes this care has been lost on all sides. It has to some extent set back progress toward the shared human task of environmental stewardship and responsibility. But I remain at least tentatively confident that human beings will get their act together on climate change before it is too late.

Moderation note: moderation on this thread will be strictly enforced for relevance and civility.

851 responses to “Understanding conservative religious resistance to climate science

  1. Nice article. I had been previously familiar with the “evolution-creation” debates but I never had much perspective on Christian (mainstream or not) thoughts on climate change. It was surprising to me to hear a few months ago the argument that climate change wouldn’t be a big deal on the grounds that God would not allow it. I had assumed that this was not a typical Christian view, and this seems to confirm that.

    It’s always interesting to me to see scientific beliefs formulate directly from religious beliefs. I have never thought the two overlap very well but it’s always interesting to observe various beliefs and thoughts out there.

    • You speak of religious beliefs originating scientific beliefs as a “novelty”, but surely this is a false dychotomy. For a believer, a “belief” about the world we inhabit is a belief on a proposition. There is no separation between a “scientific” belief or a “religious” belief. There are no “facts” that are so and so in a given building, and then exactly the opposite in another.

      If people believe that the world is created by god, maintained by god, and that we humans are to rule it, then of course this will paint every other fact, theory or proposition in general that they hear about. If they see a contradicting proposition, such as the the one which claims that the Earth is a fragile ecossystem and thus we should tame our “ruling” over the Earth, they have two choices here. Either they reject the new proposition, or the old. Rejecting the old means losing many things, your theology, your social church friends, a big dent on your metaphysical beliefs, etc. Rejecting the new is thus quite easy, specially if you expiate it as “communism in disguise”.

      This is of course dangerous to the extreme. But there is a counter-point to this, when people on “the other side” aren’t even aware that much of their “scientific certainties” are also tainted or painted with their own worldview prejudices, their own subtle ideologies. It’s all too human.

    • Humans are a VERY curious lot, indeed. What they do not know (the hard facts of life, the accepted “science” of the day) is such an overwhelming percentage of their lives, that they have a natural inclination to fill in the blanks (the vast expanse of their universe) with dark matter, dark energy, a zillion shades of grey, dark faith, and bright faith, “revelations”, old wive’s tales, visions, strange voices, and ex catheda edicts, sacred scriptures, and the “infalible” pronouncements of others. There are about 6.5 billion people on this planet in the deep, dark, scary, middle of nowhere. They are all of them divided into like minded groups of disparet size. The biggest problem is discerning the actual properties of the “rose” colored glasses each group has developed to view the vast unknown.

  2. A very interesting interview. Remarkable that instead of blaming “deniers” or “merchants of doubt”, his gripes are with those who failed to keep rigor within scientific institutions. This is the kind of backslash that is healthy.

  3. ” but we do believe that climate remains at risk and that the broad patterns identified by the IPCC and others are indisputable.”
    “to the extent that IPCC got a little sloppy or a little carried away with advocacy, our own efforts to work within our community have been damaged.”
    These quotes from Dr. Gushee are telling: on the one hand he believes that the IPCC is an indisputable authority, but on the other hand IPCC’s sloppiness interferes with his work. Although it is not clear what “broad patterns” of climate identified by IPCC are accepted as indisputable by Dr Gushee, he intends to be an advocate for something stemming from the IPCC. The question is: What.
    Until this is known I must reserve judgment on Dr. Gushee’s wisdom and stance.

    • “Indisputable” is a ridiculously strong word to use in the context of a deep scientific debate. What we have here is a religious ideology built on a political ideology. It is a bad combination.

    • Morley,
      you misquoted the article… he did not characterize the IPCC as an “indisputable authority”; the word ‘indisputable’ was used to characterize the ‘broad patterns’ identified by the “IPCC and others”.

      He didn’t even, for that matter, claim that any conclusions are ‘indisputable’; only that the ‘broad patterns’ are indisputable… and I would suggest that even most skeptics (although not all) would agree, and so his statement might be a good point to start from, for both ‘sides’ of the debate.

      • John,

        even that statement is not reasonable. The IPCC reports do include some good science. It is mostly on the amount of warming to be expected. We then have to look at the rest 0f the report to see why this amount of warming would be a problem and there we run into the garbage. The attribution is weak and the consequences are lacking in quality work. Even if we agreed on the 4c/century number I would STILL be completely against CO2 mitigation. Most studies I have seen clearly show a healthier biosphere with elevated temps and CO2.

        The only thing I might agree to is that there was an unexceptional warming in the last 30 years. The records we have simply do not support anything else.

      • “Most studies I have seen clearly show a healthier biosphere with elevated temps and CO2.”

        “Healthier” means what? Can you conceive that a biosphere with lots more (say) weeds (which we cannot exploit for food) might be considered “healthier” but much worse for us?

      • If weeds will grow better so will wheat, corn, soy, whatever. I believe they “do” classify as food. :-)

      • There’s no necessity that if weeds grow better, our feed grains will too. It may be the case that feed grains grow X% better – but if weeds grow 5X% better, we got a big problem.

      • But if it were to be the other way round??

      • We’ve got a lot of big “if’s” there.

        Like, pigs could fly if they had big enough wings – so we just assume the latter and take the former for granted – end of argument

      • The limit on agricultural productivity doesn’t seem to be CO2 – there are a great many other factors involved. It may be comforting to believe that we can simply move our grain belts poleward as the climate system warms, but that’s wishful thinking.

      • Derech064,

        I notice you are waving your arms pretty hard there. Mind telling us where you have studies that show this large differential??

        While you are thinking about that, yes, I can imagine a bioshpere where there is a differential. I can also imagine a world where human technology adjusts to it!! I can also imagine where food plants outcompete the weeds!! Whether I can imagine something or not is not the issue. The issue is what experiments have shown.

      • There’s a whole field of literature out there on agricultural productivity and anthropogenic climate change; it’s not my speciality.

        However, handwaving about “warmer and more CO2 -> more food for all” is far too simplistic and ignores a lot of details.

      • Some time in the distant future we might even be able to genetically manipulate plants imagine that!!

      • Then how about a few hundred scientific studies?
        See “Growth Response…”

      • “co2science” is right up there with SPPI as a credible source.

      • Derech064,

        so all those peer reviewed papers that CO2Science features are just so much waste paper??

        Funny, that’s what I think of a lot of the “Climate Science” that is used to support the IPCC delusion.

      • A “credible source” to a Warmist is one that has a hard and fast policy of publishing only confirmations of the AGW hypothesis.

      • Yes Derech064, I agree that there IS a whole field of literature that supports your point of view. The real issue, as usual, is how much of it is from activists who are continually being refuted by actual scientists and how much of it is NOT peer reviewed.

        Remember y’all always told us deniers, and sceptics, if it didn’t make it through peer review it was worthless?? Well…

        Since you haven’t actually linked to any of the papers I guess we don’t know though do we??

      • Weeds already grow 5X% better – always have, always will. We seem to have suivived. Not much of a farmer, are you?

        You’re arguing by assertion again. Every study that I’m aware of indicates large gains in productivity with higher temps and higher CO2 levels. But then I haven’t been on that (NASA) mailing list for the last 5 years. So.. whatcha got that says differently? I’d be interested.

      • Question is, will the needed inputs required to get rid of those more-aggressive weeds be available and economical?

        The “so far everything has been OK” attitude is not a lot different than someone who’s jumped off the 90th floor and is passing the 10th…

      • Always look on the bright side of life !!

      • And your utterly baseless chicken-little assertions are a complete waste of good screen space.

      • And why would you imagine that they wouldn’t be available? Other than the objections from the environmentalists, of course. (ala DDT)

      • Derech064,

        What I am getting from you is that anything humans might do will be a problem so we should all die as quietly and with as little disruption of the climate as possible??


        You first!!

      • Wow. The possibility that AGW will make agricultural productivity growth (as needed for more billions and more wealthy billions) more difficult is merely dismissed out of hand as “chicken little”, ignorance, and a suggestion I kill myself. Nice.

        Put it this way – suppose precip patterns change, so that those areas we now use for our main agricultural activity become either drier or wetter. Or that there’s a battle between agriculture and other uses for ever-scarcer more-expensive hydrocarbons. And noting that the more-northerly soils are often of much poorer quality.

        But, none of those issues matter to the hardcore “skeptics”. Just being nasty is.

      • Derecho,

        If you dropped the attitude and stopped with all the unsubstantiated assertions, etc, we’d all get along much better.
        I’m sure that if you really wanted to find the answers to some of these questions you ask, there are much better places than this blog to find them.
        But at the moment it seems that you’re just here to get one over on everyone else.

      • That’s right Derech064, you totally ignore the FACT that our agricultural growth has improved as the alledged warming and CO2 increase have progressed, yet, you claim it will get WORSE if we allow this to continue and scoff at the KNOWN reduction in output if we somehow roll back the temp and CO2 without destroying our society.

        Since you are so afraid of unknowns, let me give you another one? Your continued existence allows an infinitesimal possibility of a virus to mutate in you body that will destroy either the human race or all plant life. What will you do about this?? You could be responsible for ending the world as we know it!!!!

        But enough of making fun, where are the peer reviewed papers that give you reason to give this idea any plausibility. Where are the paleo studies that show the biosphere was primarily weeds back when dinosaurs like Warmers roamed the earth!!

        You have shown nothing and waste time with imagination.

      • We do have something of a natural experiment for this question. Let’s imagine we take a journey from the North Pole to the Equator. How are the plants doing as a function of latitude?

      • The question isn’t whether or not plants will survive.

        The question is whether or not our agricultural infrastructure can adapt to AGW. That’s nowhere near as clear.

      • Simply asking such a question betrays a woeful ignorance of things agricultural.

      • I don’t know. That’s a lot of walking. I would just look at a soils map to see what potential changes might mean where it counts.

        Grew up dry-land farming in an area that had severe winters.

      • You see the glass as half empty. Where’s all the extra water vapor going to end up? You remember, the extra water vapor that makes global warming produce more snow.

  4. Is the predominantly left-wing enthusiasm for catastrophic climate change predictions and the: “we must change our evil consumptive ways for a more virtuous path” meme, also perhaps a new form of pseudo religious “evangelism”?
    Infact, I would suggest it fits the definition of “evangelism” as I know it far more accurately: In the UK, where I grew up, evangelical christians were those who felt compelled to “bear witness” to any of their friends who weren’t believers.
    My point here is not to insult any particular group: I just wonder if, in the absence of a huge world war against some evil empire (heaven forbid!), societies need to have something larger than themselves to believe in. Given the gradual erosion of Christian belief in the western world and the collapse of communism as a working government model, it seems strangely apt that the world catastrophe of human-induced disasters linked to our lifestyles should become predominantly the preserve of those in favour of “Big Government” ie: the left.
    IMHO I think both extremes – “climate change is a left wing hoax perpetrated to take over world governance” and “we must abandon our evil consumerism and embrace the hair shirt and the green lifestyle for the good of Gaia and mankind” – are as ridiculous as each other.

    The problem here is surely one of ignorance and intolerance – a kind of reversion to our tribal ancestry. Perhaps it’s in our DNA, part of our natural instincts. Perhaps religions – Christian, environmental or otherwise – are some kind of “comfort food” for our own mortality, a need to feel “bigger” than we actually are. My own feeling is that, at least where discussions about science and rational pubic policy are concerned, all faith based belief systems – and political ideologies for that matter- should be checked at the door.

    • In answer to your first question:
      Religious imagery dominates the writings of many AGW opinion leaders.

    • Regarding you last sentence – can’t be done. Even in the purest environment people will be people as long as there is more than one of them in the same room. I’m not saying that the “people” are guilty of anything, I’m saying that the limitations placed on them by their very nature prevent uncontaminated communication. And, the more of them there are in that room, the more impossible it becomes. The word “political” is often used as shorthand for this fact of life. People can’t be non-political, they are not capable of it. It’s something they can imagine, it’s something they yern for, but it’s beyond their grasp.

      • Agreed – but I do think that if people could at least approach the debate with that aim in mind, the discussion is far more likely to be a little less partisan. That would surely be a good thing.

  5. Dr. Curry, this is fascinating. I appreciate your bringing in strong people like this from far flung disciplines to comment here. This is fascinating.
    While Dr. Gushee strikes me as stereotypical liberal in his views, he makes one good point, if I understand him clearly: That climate scientists should stop trying to sell their work., and instead communicate it as frankly and plainly as possible. It will be a pleasant and meaningful change.
    My question for Dr. Gushee would be this:
    How can one possibly characterize what has been going in the past year in climate science as ‘a little sloppy’ or a ‘little carried away’ in the context of ethics and credibility and without casting doubt on the apocalypticism of so many in the climate science community?

    • hunter,

      A genuine question – if scientists did try to communicate their work as frankly and plainly as possible what would that look like, as opposed to what they are doing now?

      • For example, would Hansen be writing ‘Storms of My Grandchildren’ and testifying in deliberately over-heated hearing rooms?
        Would most scientists have sat quietly when Gore claimed to be using good science to show Manhattan flooding?
        Would the entire chains of e-mails about destorying evidence and hiding declines have taken place?
        Would Mann’s hs still be defeneded?
        I look forward to your answers.

      • OK, to answer your questions

        For example, would Hansen be writing ‘Storms of My Grandchildren’ and testifying in deliberately over-heated hearing rooms?

        To be perfectly honest I don’t know enough about “Storms of My Grandchildren” to be able to debate its merits, but as long as the arguments it contains can be justified by the science I have no problem with him writing it. Do you?

        Would most scientists have sat quietly when Gore claimed to be using good science to show Manhattan flooding?

        I’ve seen criticism from climate scientists about some aspects of AIT, particularly the way it oversimplifies the case and lacks neccessary caveats, and the SLR argument would certainly be a case in point. Maybe scientists could have used the public interest aroused by AIT as an opportunity to get out there and engage with the public more. But that was in the past – I’m interested in what you think they could be doing now.

        Would the entire chains of e-mails about destorying evidence and hiding declines have taken place?

        I’m not sure what relevance this has to this argument. The “hide the decline” comment refers to a single graphic in a WMO document ten years ago which I would guess very few members of the public have seen.

        Would Mann’s hs still be defended?

        Yes. I think most scientists accept that there were certain flaws in Mann’s original paper but I think very few accept the more serious accusations made by the skeptics. Communicating plainly and frankly doesn’t mean they are going to say what you want them to say.

      • Andrew,

        I have not read it either, but, from the reviews it would appear to be in line with his promoting civil disobedience and criminal behavior and accusing people with the Coal Trains of Death crap. No, I wouldn’t think a reasonable person should be writing that kind of propaganda and would have received a lot of peer pressure against it in a reasonable personal/professional environment.

        As to Mann’s original Hockeystick, we can ALMOST say it was a reasonable mistake. The continued coverup, demonisation of those trying to figure out whether he actually had the basis for overturning over a hundred years of accepted science, and creation of even MORE bad science to try and cover the first in conjunction with other collaborators even after the detractors had shown what was wrong does not give you or other apologists room to brush it off so lightly. Remember, it isn’t the initial crime that is such a big deal, it is the refusal to admit culpability and the coverup in conjunction with others that then becomes a conspiracy. Unless of course you would like to state that his collaborators were ALL too ignorant of proper scientific procedures, paleo science, and statistics to see what he was selling??

      • ‘Its probably getting a little bit warmer, but we still don’t really have much of a clue about why. Thanks for the pay cheques and the jollies. Goodbye’

    • David L. Hagen

      Regarding “a little sloppy” and a “little carried away”, see the New federal guidelines intended to secure scientific integrity

      See the Holdren Memo: Scientific Integrity December 17, 2010

      I. Foundations of Scientific Integrity in Government
      . . it is important that policymakers involve science and technology experts where appropriate and that the scientific and technological information and processes relied upon in policymaking be of the highest integrity. . . .
      1. Ensure a culture of scientific integrity. . . .

      2. Strengthen the actual and perceived credibility of Government research. . .

      “3. Facilitate the free flow of scientific and technological information, . . .
      expand and promote access to scientific and technological information by making it available online in open formats . . .
      include data and models underlying regulatory proposals and policy decisions.

      4. Establish principles for conveying scientific and technological information . . .
      including a clear explication of underlying assumptions; accurate contextualization of uncertainties; and a description of the probabilities associated with both optimistic and pessimistic projections, including best-case and worst-case scenarios where appropriate.

      Could citing this official federal policy help address climate concerns and policies?



  6. One of the things left out of his discussion is the reaction by religious individuals to those who have made environmentalism a new religion (maybe part of the reason for his #1 item). While people assert it is about the science, most of the extreme climate catastrophe advocates were claiming catastrophe on other issues and prior to the current climate mania. Many of the tenets of extreme environmentalism, such as recycling, vegetarianism, placing nature as a central compass for ethics, etc., have nothing to do with climate change (or are spun as if they were, when they date back to the 1960s or so). As noted on Climate Resistance (http://www.climate-resistance.org/) the politics here is PRIOR to the science, in this case about 40 years prior. Religious people have reason to be nervous about this new religion because it has a rigid orthodoxy, sacraments, rules, symbolic sacrifice, sacriledge, apostasy (just ask Judith about that one), us vs them groupings, and all the trappings to keep people satisfied that they are chosen, but without involving God at all. In this new religion, MAN is to be sacrificed to save nature, which is a higher good than the corrupt human society. Nature is the true standard of goodness, even though nature is really amoral and cares not a whit for outcomes (…can’t care of course). If you save nature it will not say thank you.

    • BlueIce2HotSea

      Nice comments, however I believe your history is incorect. Extreme environmentalisn, vegetarianism, organic food (bio-dynamics), elevation of animal rights to that of humans, etc. were fundamental tenets to a great many adherents of a cetain fanatical political movement that grew in power in Germany in the 1920’s.

      • Which makes Dr. Gushee’s position and words somewhat problematical.

      • True, but only if taken as a matter of “faith”. His “faith” as he has expressed it. When people accept the “faith” of others, it’s like taking medicine wihtout thinking or, and this is a true extreme, looking at clouds and only seeing what someone else sees. There’s a good deal of “faith” in the world because too few of us do our own thinking about everything there is to think about. Really, there’s just too much to think about. So I guess “faith” in others is our only option many times;-)

    • I’m shocked that anyone can think that recycling is a tenet of ‘extreme environmentalism’. In the household that I grew up in, reusing things for purposes other than their original was part of daily life and was called ‘not wasting’ stuff.

      • Agreed. My parents grew up when there wasn’t much of anything because of WW2 and the U boats, and had an abhorrence of wasting anything that could be reused.

        Meant that they sometimes collected a lot of junk, but it juts seems part of ‘good husbandry’ to me.

        But that’s not at all the same as fining people or putting spy cameras in people’s bins as some loony environmental Green councils in UK have tried to do to make sure that we are all recycling enough to appease Gaia. And will be made to suffer if we don’t.

        Failure to recycle your plastic bags is pretty low down the list of crimes against humanity IMO.

      • Alexander Harvey


        It was in part “make do and mend” but I think that once stuff loses its value or its further use is hampered by regulation it becomes rubbish.

        Up until sometime in the late 50s early 60s most stuff had suffiecint residual value that someone would be around at some point to collect it, buy it, or repair it. In some areas this has not entirely died out. I could put sad but still useful household goods outside with a note to say “I still work” and expect them to be gone in the morning.

        However tinkers and rag-and-bone carts do seem to be a thing of the past.


      • ‘hampered by regulation’

        Surely a tautology? Have there ever been regulations that didn’t?

      • Alexander Harvey

        Yes, and I did pause or the phrase but perhaps not to any good effect.

        I was actually thinking of putting stuff in the pig bins that were collected to be cooked up for swill. I think that may have become illegal but not before the mid 70s. It would give one pause when it came to the disposal of bacon rinds.


      • Alexander Harvey


        The introduction of the plastic “non-returnable” bottle was met with some confusion among adults and with dismay by children used to the refunding of the deposit on each glass one.


      • Irn Bru once again comes in a returnable glass bottle.But 30p not 3d!

      • Alexander Harvey

        Thanks for the information.

        30p sounds a lot. I wonder if they are hoping never to see them again. To be honest I have precious idea of the value of things anymore.


      • When I was a kid, those $.02 deposits were the only way to make some money. Go down to the corner store, put them up on the counter, get a nickle or a dime, and buy some penny candy. Kids today don’t know how to blow their own nose. Guess it’s our fault too.

      • randomengineer

        You should have a look at the Penn and Teller TV series (on Showtime premium channel) called “bullshit!” which does a lot of sacred cow slaying. They have an episode devoted to recycling that’s interesting.

        Recycling for some/many is a belief system, and the actual real world accounting shows that many if not most recycling efforts take more (end to end) energy and CO2 emission etc than simply tossing the item into a landfill and making new from raw materials.

        Perhaps Dr Loehle had this in mind.

        I certainly would. Most “green” tenets are utter nonsense.

      • Louise,

        thank you for pointing this out. Originally efficient use of resources was a necessity for resource limited people. The current FAD of recycling is neither efficient or useful in most areas where it is done. It is a REQUIREMENT to be allowed to live unhindered by government in many areas. IF it were done in a manner that was energy and time efficient it would be more similar to what you think of and good for the environment.

      • Recycling in the “original” form of the word is and has been about making do and clever resource management. We all recycle routinely. “Hand me downs” is an example; giving used clothing to the local shelter for the needy is another. Everyone recycles.

        Today however this word has become ugly as it has been bastardised and corrupted by greens (AGW advocates and leftists in the US) who associate recycling with polar bears and rainforests in a quasi-religious fervor that make Michael Crichton’s “global warming is religion” point. People scarcely notice that giving clothing to the poor is recycling; the entire concept has morphed to the mental image of polar bears.

        Of course recycling is now “extreme environmentalism.” It’s a bought and paid for concept now wholly owned by greenpeace and its ilk. That Louise doesn’t notice this indicates that she’s either so young as to not remember when recycling wasn’t political, or her political slant prevents her from seeing it.

  7. This was a very good article, but I believe some of the points need comment:

    1) Disdain for the environmental movement
    I know a number of evangelicals who consider themselves old time “conservationists,” but do have a distain for the “environmental movement” as it exists in 2010. They believe in conserving and being good stewards of God’s creation but they dislike/distrust the confluence of the “environmental movement” and liberal politics.

    2) Distrust of mainstream science in general (evolution vs. creationism is indeed a factor here for some)
    I believe this point is the most far off base, at least in terms of the evangelicals I know. There are a number of people who conflate “creationism” with the believe that God created the universe versus “the universe is 6,000 years old.” The number of people who believe the latter is very small, the number believing the former is quite large. Yet, even among the people who believe the former, most of them (again, among the ones I know, still take their kids for vaccinations, etc.). They have no problem with modern science. I have never run across one of the people he is speaking of. They may exist but I believe it is mostly a stereotype.

    3) Distrust of the mainstream media (nicely captured by Sarah Palin’s derisive term “lamestream media”)
    I’d say this is a sign of discernment, especially when the MSM is turning out articles like this: http://apnews.myway.com/article/20101219/D9K734E81.html

    4) Loyalty to the Republican Party
    I’d restate this as loyalty to “conservatism.” Most of them would not trust Mitt Romney/John McCain.

    Hope this is helpful.

    • So to counter a person who has direct experience with all of these groups, you offer your own personal anedoctes? I’m sorry I find that somewhat lacking.

      • I have direct experience with a number of evangelicals, including one of my best friends.

        Sorry you find it lacking.

      • It’s not that it is unimportant, it’s just that the scale of your personal acquaintances is very, very tiny. And I think that a person whose job is to deal with all of these groups has probably a better vision overall of all of the christian groups out there.

      • Ah, with Mike’s tiny scales he seems to weigh useful concepts. Your argument, Luis, is to authority, and fails to address Mike’s accurate points.

      • Luis, you’re far too quick to dismiss Mike Smith. I’ve no idea as to the scope or scale of your personal acquaintanceships. However, speaking as a Christian (technically speaking, not evangelical because I’m RC) who also knows *many* evangelicals and shares with them the defining Christian belief that salvation depends on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I have to confess to major distaste for the stereotyping of Christians or indeed any people of any background or faith.

        Christianity does not come with a specific political credo or agenda attached to it. It’s founder, Jesus, made this abundantly clear saying, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’ He was then crucified because the establishment of the time wouldn’t take him at his word.

        Of course, Christians are people and Christian institutions are made up of people and wherever you find people, so too will you find politics. However, the surprising thing about Christians of just about every denominational stripe is in the sheer variety of political beliefs and attachments you will encounter. Dr Gushee himself acknowledges that only half of Evangelicals in the USA as of 2008 would be politically conservative, 35% centrist, and 15% liberal.

        Frankly, terms such as ‘conservative,’ liberal,’ ‘left wing,’ and ‘right wing’ are meaningless boxes which are a convenient way of avoiding engagement with people. Many people, whether Christian or otherwise, hold a range of views with a ‘conservative’ take on some issues, a ‘liberal’ take on others, and ‘neutrality’ elsewhere.

        It’s a bit like dividing the world up into ‘alarmists’ or ‘warmists’ and ‘sceptics’ or ‘denialists.’ Having found a convenient label, you can avoid engaging folks and walk away feeling superior to them. Sometimes, however, a ‘conservative’ might have a piece of wisdom a ‘liberal’ might find enlightening and vice versa. Much the same would go for ‘warmists’ and ‘sceptics’ – isn’t this the raison d’etre of this blog?

        In the end, we are all flawed and fallible human beings permeated by pride and lack of charity towards those around us. Recognising our flawed nature lies at the heart of Christianity. Of course, many Christians pay only lip service to this. Hypocrisy too is part and parcel of our human nature. It was always thus, as the authors of the so-called New Testament pointed out as they documented the beginnings of Christianity.

        Even a cursory reading of the Gospels suggests that Jesus and his followers believed that world history would be fraught with bitter trouble until the very end of time. Catastrophic global warming would readily fall within this vision. So too might a new ice age (I put that one in for balance :) )

      • Christ also enjoined his followers to “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and unto God, that which is God’s” – further scriptural support for the view that Christians are better off not mixing their faith with their politics, beyond the confines of their own souls. No sooner had he formed his organisation, Dr Gushee tells us, than a counter-organisation was formed – well, who woulda thought it? It is of course a matter entirely for Dr Gushee whether he feels his faith is best followed by sowing discord within it where none previously existed.

      • Do you consider an Ambassador to a foreign Governments knowlegable in the customs, beliefs and experiences of the government officials he will be dealing with or the peasants of the country??

      • Do you find it as lacking as a liberal scholar using stereotypes to pigeonhole a large group of people by one name and thereby dismiss them?

  8. The minimizing of the sins of the IPCC as “a little sloppy and a little carried away with advocacy” makes me wonder: how robust will his “belief” in its fundamental tenets be if it is demonstrated that the proper phrasing is “grossly sloppy and entirely carried away”?

    Would he have the courage/honesty Keynes claimed: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” ?

  9. randomengineer

    Climate change non-acceptance from the right isn’t an evangelical problem, it’s a conservative one. These aren’t fungible. Most conservatives believe in god but that’s not the same as seeing them as evangelical, which as I understand translates better to “fundamentalist” or “literalist” as opposed to simple “believer.”

    It’s the conservatives (many of whom are tea party types and proud of it) who reckon AGW to be a leftist hoax, and these are people who seem to profess far stronger beliefs re the proper role of government than they do about their religion. They prefer a society with religious values informing personal lives and a near-secular government, and they go to pains to discuss this distinction.

    The title of your post seems to indicate some confusion on this.

    I’m sure hunter can fill in where I’m incorrect.

  10. If the real point of this post is “Understanding conservative religious resistance to climate science,” wouldn’t it have been helpful to ask, you know, a conservative religious person? The writer concludes his exposition of the positions of conservative evangelicals with “Nice worldview, huh? I disagree with just about every word of it.” Gee, maybe for the next post someone could ask Michael Mann what Steve McIntyre thinks about statistics applications in paleo-climate reconstructions.

    Not to mention, I know lots of conservative Christians who are resistant to climate advocacy, and few who are adverse to science, climate or otherwise.

    I could have sworn there was a post on this blog discussing this article (http://www.slate.com/id/2277104/), but I can’t find it anymore. But I posted this quote from that article on a previous open thread:

    “… could it be that disagreements over climate change are essentially political—and that science is just carried along for the ride? For 20 years, evidence about global warming has been directly and explicitly linked to a set of policy responses demanding international governance regimes, large-scale social engineering, and the redistribution of wealth. These are the sort of things that most Democrats welcome, and most Republicans hate. No wonder the Republicans are suspicious of the science.”

    That seems a much fairer depiction of why conservatives, including most conservative Christians, are skeptical of climate activism.

    • Thank you. When you look at the separation in the Christian community it breaks on very similar lines!!!

  11. I would prefer to hear Dr. Gushee explain his beliefs, rather than to hear him explain the beliefs of those he opposes. As a general rule people do not do well explaining their adversaries, for obvious reasons. That is certainly the case here. The title and the topic are both misplaced if we are trying to have a reasoned discussion.

    • Re Dr. Gushee’s personal beliefs, see the website for The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good

      • Sorry, but I was not asking for Dr, Gushee’s personal beliefs, rather I was objecting to his explication of mine and others. For example, his #1 Disdain for Environmentalism, is far too weak. I consider Enviro to be a major force for evil. It is to our age what Communism was to the last century. But while Communism sought to communize the means of production, Environmentalism seeks to limit or end production all together. This is simply anti-human, including the Stewardship Doctrine, which places God’s material creation on a par with his human creation.

      • I detect, in this comment, hints of points 6 and 7 of Gushee’s “nice worldview huh”:

        6) Misunderstandings of divine sovereignty–God won’t let us ruin creation
        7) Unreconstructed Dominion theology–Genesis 1–God calls human beings to subdue and rule creation

        There’s a more powerful belief that underpins this: the belief that human beings are a separate class of creation from the rest of ‘nature’.

        The consequences of this position are profound as regards how we exercise our free will (propensity to sin); and I’d like to have you (or others) flesh out the evangelical/conservative religious view of man’s mandate as it applies to such issues as are relevant here. Some suggested questions (but please pose and answer your own, since these just might reflect my personal bias):

        Are we ‘soiling our own nest’? Is CO2 pollution part of that? Is it a sin to do so?

        Is the “end time” near enough that we don’t need to worry about AGW regardless?

        Since we were kicked out of Eden, God has inflicted great punishment on humans, and those included the world-wide flood. Following it, He declared a covenant that proscribes another such world catastorphe. Does that translate to an assurance that God will intervene to prevent any global environmental consequences of human behavior?

      • 6) Misunderstandings of divine sovereignty–God won’t let us ruin creation
        7) Unreconstructed Dominion theology–Genesis 1–God calls human beings to subdue and rule creation

        These are the views of a VERY small minority of fundamentalist creationists. Assigning them to the larger conservative Christian community is unfairly and erroneously painting with a very large brush.

        Environmentalism is a different proposition. I’m a Christian envronmentalist with a very large problem with the environmental movement as it’s practised today. The following quotes were presented yesterday on another thread on this blog –

        “Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.” — Prof Paul Ehrlich, Stanford

        My three main goals would be to reduce human population to about 100 million worldwide, destroy the industrial infrastructure and see wilderness, with its full complement of species, returning throughout the world.” — Dave Foreman, co-founder of Earth First!

        “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?” — Maurice Strong, founder of the UN Environment Programme

        “The Earth has cancer and the cancer is Man.” — Club of Rome, Mankind at the Turning Point

        The only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another United States. We can’t let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization, we have in the US. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are.” — Michael Oppenheimer, Environmental Defense Fund

        “I root for hurricanes. When, courtesy of the Weather Channel, I see one forming in the ocean off the coast of Africa, I find myself longing for it to become big and strong—Mother Nature’s fist of fury, Gaia’s stern rebuke. Considering the havoc mankind has wreaked upon nature with deforesting, strip mining, and the destruction of animal habitat, it only seems fair that nature get some of its own back and teach us that there are forces greater than our own.” — James Wolcott, Vanity Fair Contributing Editor

        I have others as well that reveal the anti-human, anti-science, anti-development agendas of most of today’s environmental movement that show no concern whatever for the poor of the world. How does this attitude fit with Christianity?

      • Let me throw out another such thought:

        Enviro-activists have big concerns about invasive species damaging ecosystems. Yet arguably Homo sapiens is by far the most pervasive and pernicious invasive species. So … put us all back in Africa, fence us in, and restore the rest of the world to its natural state.

        On the other hand, those who believe in the special nature of human creation relative to the rest of nature may believe we have a mandate from God to tame and control all that is wild. Our role as invasive species is an ordained mission.

        Now, I suspect that you fall somewhere in between these two positions. I’d love to understand your position in more detail, and to learn how you arrived at it.

      • We migrated around the world, like many other animals.
        Should we backtrack them to some ancestral homeland and fence them as well?
        There seems to be an underlying current of misanthropy in your comment. Is that a false impression?

      • Should we fence animals in? Rabbits in Australia didn’t get there on their own. To what extent are we part of nature? Or are we divinely ordained to dominate over the ‘lesser creatures’? One’s choice of action probably depends on their answers to these questions.

        “Misanthropy” is a generalization. I would prefer to judge each human action (whether collective or individual) on its own merits.

        My aim is this thread’s aim – a neutral one by intent – to understand the position of others. As for my personal position, I can’t find any misanthropy in it.

      • Actually, doesn’t the bible give mankind progressive control of the environment? Mankind is initially limited to fruits and vegtabels, then specific meats, then all meats. Just as religion matures, maybe we are inteneded to mature to strike a balance between our needs and our resources.

      • Indeed it is obviously true that “human beings are a separate class of creation from the rest of ‘nature’.” Both law and morality make this abundantly clear. Have you not noticed?

      • Respectfully, David, it’s not a matter of noticing, it’s a matter of interpreting what you notice.

        Now, what I really hope to get from you, is an understanding of how your worldview informs your position on AGW.

      • I do not understand your question. What do you mean by my “worldview”? My position on AGW (and CAGW) is based on 18 years of study, during 14 of which I made my living covering the issue.

      • I’ll try again.

        Your position on the whys and hows of AGW are based on your eighteen years of study.

        Your position on what we should do about AGW (and other potential human impacts on the planet) is likely to be informed by a broader set of considerations rooted in your priorities and moral precepts; and perhaps some of these are rooted in your religious beliefs. This is the area that I seek to better understand.

      • So what do you want to understand? My position as to what we should do about the hypothesis of AGW is stop funding it. I see no potential impact on the planet. As to other supposed potential impacts on the planet, I am mostly interested in impacts on people, not planets. The planet per se is absolutely impervious to our impacts.

      • Stop funding AGW research?

        Quick review of impacts on the planet: Ground water, world wide distinctive sediment layer full of nuclear fallout, heavy metals, etc. , innumerable biosphere changes … and the CO2 increase.

        AGW research is a response to the CO2 increase; and there’s sufficient reason to want to look for potential impacts of this soiling of our nest. It seems prudent not to ignore the question.

        By saying you see no potential impacts you could be merely stating the null hypothesis, or you could be making an unsupportable statement that no impacts are possible. Which?

        What else do I want to understand? (I asked these questions way up above and nobody has yet answered them – NB that some here claim that not answering direct questions is cause for doubting the credibility of one’s position.)

        1. Are we, in your opinion, ‘soiling our own nest’? Is CO2 pollution part of that? Is it a sin to do so or is it justified by some greater good that is specifically part of God’s plan for humanity?

        2. Is the “end time” near enough that we don’t need to worry about AGW regardless?

        3. New question: You speak of rule of law. Is that law imposed by divine authority or man’s? If the former, what does that law have to say about man’s responsibilities to future generations and to other living things?

      • I am not ignoring the problem, quite the opposite. We humans have spent about $60 billion on AGW research over the last 20 years and my conclusion is that there is no threat, no problem. CO2 is not pollution, it is the global food supply. If anything more is better. So we are not “soiling our nest” with CO2, to use your silly expression. It is time to refocus our research efforts on to real problems, human problems. It would be nice, for example, to understand natural climate change.

      • David, you say:

        We humans have spent about $60 billion on AGW research over the last 20 years […]

        Do you have a reference for that figure?

      • Derech064,

        How about $79 Billion by the US alone:

      • Thank you, David for taking a stab at at least a partial answer.

        Yes CO2 is fertilizer. But it is also pollution, IMHO.

        I agree with your call for understanding natural climate change – and that is a significant part of the process of understanding AGW – funding is spent there.

        I also believe there are many socioeconomic issues of more importance than AGW – and of more urgency.

      • The SPPI, IMNSHO, is about as credible as Greenpeace.

        Only by lumping in programs and activities that are only very peripherally related to “AGW research” (which is quite narrow) can SPPI inflate the number to “$79 billion”. Does the entire cost of a new GOES satellite count as “AGW research”?

      • Derech064, just knock off a few of those satellites that are only partially Climate related and you’ll be down to your $60 billion!!


      • Dr. Wetzel,

        your opinion is that it is warming and that AGW IS the priority. I can understand that statement so, let me tell you a bedtime story.

        Once upon a time the scientists noticed a huge hole in the ozone over the Antarctica. After much money was spent in monitoring and research they decided the hole was being caused by CFC’s that were destroying ozone at a much higher rate than the natural sun processes. They convinced everyone they should DO SOMETHING BEFORE A DISASTER STRUCK!!

        This year the ozone hole is STILL cycling up and down even though those nasty CFC’s have been banned at large financial cost to society(and benefit to a certain company) and are much reduced.

        This year NASA published new findings that the main chemical reaction thought to cause the CFC ozone destruction actually happened one tenth as fast as thought. This effectively proves that the CFC’s were NOT causing the hole leaving it as probably a NATURAL effect as a number of DENIERS claimed!!!

        Is anything sinking in yet??

      • “Your position on what we should do about AGW ……is likely to be informed by a broader set of considerations rooted in your priorities and moral precepts; and perhaps some of these are rooted in your religious beliefs.”

        Peter, and if I say no, it isn’t, where next? Isn’t this a sterile argument?

      • Where next? How do you decide what to do about problems in daily life? Why is this particular problem exempt from the same process?

      • I asked “where next?” – you don’t seem to have taken us very far, or in any particular direction.

        My suggestion is that you stop trying to second-guess my reasons for believing CAGW is hogwash, and deserves no more of our attention or resources than the vexed problem of congenital hip-displasia in over-bred gundogs, and start providing me with some evidence. If you do, I’ll do a deal with you – I won’t try to second guess your reasons for believing we’re all gonna fry. Can’t say fairer than that, can I? Now, the evidence? Dot, dot, dot.

      • The public record is awash with the evidence. See the discussion farther down this thread.

        If you don’t want me to second guess your reasoning then present it. To repeat, how do you resolve day to day problems, and how is your approach to resolving the AGW issue similar or different?

        I don’t believe “we’re all gonna fry.”

      • Peter, since he’s obviously started elsewhere, and since I’m not scientifically fit to shine his boots, I’ll leave Nullius to enlighten you as to the science, and will content myself with reminding you that it was not my “reasoning”, but my “reasons” for believing CAGW is 21st century druidism, and your impertinent interest in them, to which I was referring. Given the title of this thread it beggars belief that you thought otherwise. Switch-and-bait is occasionally tried here, Peter, and it never works, beyond revealing the naive deceitfulness of those who attempt it.

      • Indeed, Peter, my position on AGW is informed by everything I know and believe. This is called reasoning, based on understanding. I am not suggesting that AGW is somehow “exempt,” that is your strange idea. On the contrary, I have dedicated the better part of the last two decades to understanding and reasoning about AGW. My conclusion is that the hypothesis is false.

      • David, I respect your conclusion, but disagree with it.

        Tom – I’ve put in 40 years as a climate scientist. I can’t speak for NiV’s qualifications, though he/she does seem a lucid thinker and well informed. Thank you for your commentary. I’m not a druid. It would be fun if your druids came here and explained themselves. Finally, I was asking about AGW, not Catastrophic effects. That seems a switch and bait of your own.

      • Peter, if all you wish to persuade me of is the capacity of man’s activities to alter the climate in no particularly objectionable way, consider it done. And if that is indeed as far as you go, with no demands for “action”, no demands for research funding, no demands that I change my way of life one iota to diminish human influence on climate, then you have no reason to consider yourself included among the 21st Century druids I abhor.

        You say you have spent 40 years studying climate “science”, yet the meaning of the null hypothesis eludes you – why am I not surprised? You join Bart Verheggen, who believes that the consensus “becomes the new null hypothesis”, and perhaps Michael Tobis, who believes it may be disregarded because you don’t get a lot of citations by reporting it. Disregard for the null hypothesis is a founding principle of climate “science”.

        Peter the null hypothesis is not something that can be confirmed. It is the starting position, the proper state of the enquiring mind, the only proper hypothesis to hold, at the outset of a scientific experiment. If you need to see confirmation of it before accepting it, you have never conducted a proper experiment in your life. Of course if we all BELIEVED the null hypothesis, no scientific advances would be made. But science isn’t about belief, as I’m sure you’d agree. Science requires that its practitioners hold two mutually hostile states of mind – nullity (that there is nothing coherent going on in the system under study) and conjecture (that there IS something coherent going on in the system under study), and devise suitable experiments to decide between them. This kind of intellectual exercise isn’t something we’re all capable of, which is why, erm, we’re not all scientists.

        And the null hypothesis prevails until the experimental evidence reveals something other than nullity. And should remain at the scientist’s side all through the experimental process, nagging him to look for disconfirmatory evidence for his theories, goading him to try to fault his own work.

        No doubt this all sounds insane to you. But then, as a climate “scientist”, it would.

      • Good summary, Tom, Thank you.

        You said Peter, if all you wish to persuade me of is the capacity of man’s activities to alter the climate in no particularly objectionable way, consider it done. And if that is indeed as far as you go, with no demands for “action”, no demands for research funding, no demands that I change my way of life one iota to diminish human influence on climate, then you have no reason to consider yourself included among the 21st Century druids I abhor.

        We’re fairly close to a meeting of minds. I’m not trying to persuade anybody of anything, though. I’m merely presenting my point of view. It is that man has the capacity to, and is, altering the climate. The question of what is objectionable is one of personal interpretation and judgment. I believe some of what we’ve done is objectionable, but I won’t get bogged down here by discussing that. I’m here to see how others define ‘objectionable’. So if you find nothing man has done objectionable, I’d very much love to hear your reasoning. It could be a lively discussion if held with a respectful tone.

        I’m not in a position to make demands on you, though I might propose some common sense practices that you’re probably doing anyhow.

        If I were to call for ‘action’ it would probably first and foremost be in other areas of socio-economic policy. There’s so much to be concerned about as our global population hurtles toward unsustainable levels at the same time that resources are being squandered.

        My personal focus is on trying to open people’s minds to what the world will be like for our seventh generation of descendents and far beyond. It’s a pretty fluid and uncertain pursuit. I’m looking for *really* big picture trends, and it’s necessarily very speculative. Anyhow, it’s good having this exchange with you.

      • Exactly what in their nature utterly separates humans from not-humans?

      • Number 42

      • There are many essential differences. For example, humans are subject to the rule of law while non-humans are not.

      • The “rule of law” is an essential part of the nature of humans? Really? That’s a relatively recent invention in the entire history of humanity, and sketchily followed even today – ask the folks suffering under any number of dictators and autocrats.

        What I’m interested in finding out is what you *really* mean by:

        Indeed it is obviously true that “human beings are a separate class of creation from the rest of ‘nature’.”

        It’s not at all “obvious” to me!

      • Perhaps it is because we choose to place ourselves within a legal framework. I think the only ‘human right’ we have is to breathe as long as it takes something to eat us. This is the glory of the Constitution to me – we voluntarily agree among ourselves to abide by certain principles and recognize the several rights of individuals. And fundamental to that, of course, is language. I think the organizational strengths of language set us apart from other creatures, but I do not see us as not being creatures. The latter is an idea I see as poisonous and leading to the ‘humans as unnatural and cancer-like’ meme that appears in some environmental circles.

      • You’re aware that a number of primates have been taught sign language. Also, what of whale songs? Is that not a kind of language?

      • I used to think that the difference between humans and the rest of creation was our capacity for self-awareness – but then I read one of your comments….

      • Was there a point in your snark, Tom?

      • yes, D, there was.

      • Humans have forenames and surnames?

      • randomengineer

        Sentience, for one.

        And what is that? Used to be toolmaking was a usable definition until Jane Goodall proved otherwise.

        On the other hand a second level of abstraction may work: use of tools designed solely to make tools with.

        Of course this fails to address dolphins.

      • His comments ignore this:

        Gen 2:15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

        Trying to pick and choose scripture to prove a point is really pointless if you do not study the WHOLE thing to understand the context and what is being said. This includes my snippet.

        Now, since the NATURAL cycle is for animals and plants to expand to the maximum of their ability or until resources run out and causes them to die back, don’t you think there just MIGHT be a place for INTELLIGENT grooming of the earth? The natural cycle of forests to grow underbrush until fire cleans it out killing animals and plants but adding minerals and carbon to the soil isn’t necessarily the most efficient way for it to operate.

      • I am all for forest management, but for human benefit. Hurting people just to help trees is not acceptable.

        I have no use for scriptural argument. The role of scripture is to promote understanding and inspiration, not to settle arguments.

      • Suppose “helping” trees, while “hurting” some people, is to the benefit of all of us? Is that acceptable?

      • No, you obviously have not looked into the alternatives very well if your only options are to to hurt humans to help trees.

        I would point out that producing more CO2 helps ALL trees!! 8>)

        (qualification, criminal activity not included)

      • Are we ‘soiling our own nest’? Is CO2 pollution part of that? Is it a sin to do so?

        Are you having an affair with your wife?

        I’m not sure what sort of a question that is. Is there a mechanism where I can roll out my wheelie bin to deep space?
        By definition, any and ALL living things soil their nest if you take the nest to mean the whole planet.

        But funnily enough, due to millions of years of evolution, ‘soil’ from one species is life giving sustanance for another.

        A plant dying then decaying, by your definition is ‘soiling’ it’s nest.
        I don’t buy that at all, it’s too silly a question.

        CO2 pollution? Just because some people labelled CO2 as pollution doesn’t make it so.
        Assuming zero pollution is a good thing, then are you advocating zero CO2? If not, at what level does CO2 become pollution? Who decided? What’s the evidence that backs that decision?

        A better question. Name some living organisms that don’t thrive when food is abundant.
        Is CO2 a food in the very first link of the food chain? If so, what evidence is there that organisms living along that chain, all the way to the top, will not benefit from abundance of food at the base of that chain?

        “Is it a sin to do so?” IMHO, it’s a sin to limit food, especially at the base of the food chain. But that’s just my opinion.

      • It is extremely difficult for anyone, even a scientist, to discuss anything and not be personal. We have come to “know” you via your blog and earlier comments on other blogs. We have come to know something of Dr Gushee via his comments above. The facts of life can be stated briefly, it is when we expand on those facts, when we explain them for the sake of clarity or example for others to “better understand” that we tred on eggshells and open ourselves up for others to see our insides. Dr Gushee has “opened” himself as well as his facts. I know you know this all too well. Truth be told, humans seem to have it in their nature to strike for advantage when and where they see an opening.

  12. I say this from a non-religious view point. We can dig up every ounce of coal in the ground and burn it and in 1,000 years the Earth will be no worse off for it. The holes would fill in and be overgrown. Weathering in the longer term will continue its toil to reshape the landscape. Mountains will continue to build. Such an act might or might not lead to massive and catastrophic warming, but the Earth is an inanimate object. It isn’t capable of caring. Sometimes I think we take ourselves too seriously.

    • We have talked a lot about climate models and I have to say I’m not persuaded they are worth the bits of which they are composed. I follow Joe Bastardi who compares past conditions/data with present ones to make a forecast. Compare his predictions with those of the Met Office. He beats them hands down. Now if we look at solar data and try to fit it to past data, it looks like we are in for a mini-ice age. If you think the poor take it on the chin with warming, they get their head handed to them with cooling. Once their grazing animals die off due to lack of grasses, they won’t be far behind due to lack of dung to burn of just simply a lack of food to eat. The poor will be last in line for food, shelter, and coal/oil to burn for heat. Maybe we should meditate on that for a while.

    • You’re statements fit well with Christian Gerondeau’s view – his words are “We WILL dig up every ounce of coal in the ground and burn it “. And he is not a sceptic re: CO2, just a realist. Also somwehat pessimistic in some respects. His book is “Climate: The Great Delusion”.

  13. “5) Libertarian economics as God’s will–God is opposed to government regulation or taxation”

    How about conservative economics as common sense!! I always laugh at the pseudo-intellectual liberals who imagine conservatives as slow witted anti-science fools. God’s will vs regulation!! how about common sense and well proven capitalism vs corrupt politicians with different goals!

    I’m just going to snip the rest before I say what I really think of this genius.

    • But Jeff, those are not contradictory. You can have both people that see conservatism as a good ideology per se, and people that think conservative follows “god’s rules”. I think that this post is about the latter, not the former. So I don’t understand your problem here.

      • In the U.S., this is the Reagan coalition: libertarian/conservatives and the religious right. in the 2008 U.S. election, there was a split in the group that was previously regarded as the religious right, with many voting for Obama.

        There are different rationales for libertarianism: John Locke and Adam Smith, vs a religious rationale.

      • randomengineer

        There are some things so, ummm, “interesting” that only academics can believe them.




        …shows that the key was the Reagan Democrats, NOT the religious right.

        Your christian post stuff is interesting. Look at the right wing sites and you’ll see some bloodletting; the GOP moderate majority is essentially fighting off a charge from the smaller but more vocal religious conservatives who are pushing for party “purity” in that they believe that as per the christianpost assertions that they are the base *and* a majority. Be aware that these assertions are self-serving; there’s been a movement afoot for some time.

        Meanwhile note the following:


        This shows that most democrats view themselves as moderate to conservative (i.e. Reagan Democrat faction.)

        Then there’s this:


        …which essentially shows that religious belief isn’t concentrated in the right wing.

        It would be interesting to discuss the rejection of climate change by many conservatives but is the religion bit necessary?

      • In 1984, Reagan won 58.8% of the total vote, to 40.6% for Mondale. This included 54% of self described independents and 48% of self described moderates. This was after four years of his avowedly conservative first term.

        That was the last time voters had an actual conservative to vote for in the presidential general election. The Reagan coalition included a lot of people who thought they were liberal until they saw what conservatism really is. By the way, Reagan was conservative on economic, foreign policy and (horror of horrors) social issues, and still won the independent/moderate vote.

      • randomengineer

        If you want to see bonafide anti-climate conservatives in their native habitat:


        Note the general lack of religious referencing.

        This is a place where Marc Morano and Chris Horner from CEI post, whipping up the rabble.

      • randomengineer

        Well, dang.

        “anti-climate change” was intended.

      • As a libertarian conservative, I’m simply ticked off by much of the lack of rationale assigned to those who also believe in Christianity. Compared to what? Muslim! or perhaps Hindu? They are belief systems entirely separable from conservatism and small government.

        I’ve been quite deep in the business world myself being at the top of mid-size business for a number of years. It is very very hard to find a liberal in my world. We know and understand what it takes to make business run. We know the damage ineffective and random AGW policy will do. We know it is based on leftist policy more than well grasped science. We are conservatives and we are not stupid or slow witted and have not let religion take over our logic centers as much of this post implies.

        In my opinion, those who are religious Christians are often of the work for what you get variety. So are many of the industry leaders. This is a lesson too many in the left and in cushy government and unfortunately university jobs have no clue of.

        I’ve also had the pleasure of working in a university for a number of years, and your jobs are very, very easy compared to our own. I’m not saying it’s easy, but compared to what a business owner deals with, it ain’t nuthin! IMO, this is the primary reason for the difference in opinion between conservatives, religious or otherwise and those liberals who live in the sheltered halls of government, unions, the elite university staff, hollyworld and overpaid MSM.

        So with that said, IMO the dude doesn’t have a clue. In my day, the profs were mostly liberals, the conservatives felt threatened enough to keep their mouths shut. Perhaps by random accident, the conservatives did more, worked harder, and IMO were far more intelligent and productive than the others but I do have a bias.

        In finishing this fully snippable post (feel free), ask yourselves how come so many of the biggest business CEO’s are democrats. If you can answer that, it may change your votes.

    • I agree with you Jeff – to me the whole policy thing must be a matter of common sense and not predicated on any kind of overarching ideology.

      The cure – if one is necessary at all – has to be better than the disease, pure and simple.

  14. Judith, Judith, Judith. I can imagine the left-leaning, soft-spoken evangelical minister whispering sweet-nothings in your ear, imagining himself the antidote to the rigid, stoic, stereotypical anti-science republicans. I must confess I am somewhat surprised that you found Dr. Gushee’s point of view intellectually poignant. Dr. Gushee’s only major despair was the slight sloppiness of the IPCC! Judith, please explain to your faithful how this conversation has altered, or not, your point of view.

  15. I asked these specific questions of Dr. Gushee since they encompassed the material that was presented in two talks at Georgia Tech.

    For background on the motivation for the questions that I asked, see these articles:




    Specifically, the first one documents that white U.S. evangelicals are the most skeptical on climate change among U.S. religious groups.

    When people talk about “deniers,” this is a very large percentage of the overall “denier” population, and it is arguably the most “anti-science” segment of the so-called “denier” population.

    It is important to understand this group, in terms of the politics of the climate change issue and also in terms of how scientists can communicate with this group. Dr. Gushee is a Ph.D. scholar who studies this subject and writes books on it.

    • Judith, I perused the links you provided above. Perhaps it is just my own inadequacies, but I don’t find his thinking compelling. His views are predetermined, his major problem is his life of communicating has been complicated by the “slight sloppiness” of the IPCC. I would put him in the extreme precautionary camp, since he is apparently unwilling to allow the science to progress before imbibing the IPCC liquor.

    • Judith, with respect, as a Christian, I thought the first link to be evidence that the Southern Baptist pastors were venturing into territory in which they were utterly unqualified. More the pity. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread (with all respect to my Southern Baptist brethren).

      The third link seems to be trading off Roy Spencer’s evangelical affiliations but I think we all agree he is a serious scientist who holds an outlier position for reasons that seem to have very little to do with his evangelical beliefs.

      However, the second link needs to read in full. The second half deals at some length with physician assisted suicide, an issue which causes enormous angst in Christian circles. Basically, many Southern Baptists, no matter what their reservations about John McCain (I’m an Aussie so thank God I didn’t have to choose between the two candidates), would baulk at voting for a candidate (Obama) who perhaps was thought to be sympathetic to physician assisted suicide (he certainly voted for partial birth abortion as a Senator – another issue which causes great anguish and not just in ‘conservative’ religious circles).

      Incidentally, the medical profession itself is also deeply divided and anguished around the issue of physician assisted suicide. To discuss the underlying ethical debate would take us way off topic away from climate science. Suffice it to say that the ethical dimensions go way beyond questions of specific religious affiliation and many who have no faith and ‘non-conservative’ political affiliations would be enormously concerned by the availability of physician assisted suicide. I know many folk who strongly believe in AGW who shudder at the thought of physician assisted suicide. For my part, I’d be disappointed if the Southern Baptists took any other stance on the issue.

      Basically, when the Church under whatever guise takes a stance on a moral issue such as physician assisted suicide, it acts entirely within its remit as a body obliged to take a stance on a moral issue. AGW by contrast is a scientific and not a moral question (though the scientific findings may have eventual moral implications).

      I notice your comment a couple of lines down that 40% of Americans are young earth creationists. Then again, the same applies to well over 20% of Germans if the Wikipedia article on the ‘History of creationism’ is to be believed (and we all know how much more sophisticated Europeans are than Americans :) ). I couldn’t find any figures for Australia. However, I think this would be a distinctly minority position in most Christian circles in Australia – most Aussies think of their trans-Pacific cousins as eccentrics with minimal awareness of a world beyond their borders :) . Interestingly, one of Australia’s most prominent climate sceptics, Ian Plimer, in an earlier incarnation launched a scorching attack on creation science (a position to which he still adheres). Then again, isn’t everything upside down in the Antipodes? :)

      Incidentally, ‘young earth’ creationism is a relatively recent phenomenon in the history of Christianity. St Augustine writing in the 5th century took a very nuanced view and readily accepted the possibility that significant components of the Genesis creation narrative might have an allegorical rather than a literal interpretation.

      In short, I think we’re seeing a lot of stereotyping coupled with artificial conflation of unrelated issues.

    • But does Dr. Gushee do more than create nice little boxes that other liberals like and put those pesky fundie creationist denialists in them?
      It sounds like this is the sort of thought process the AGU used in thinking that Mooney was going to help in communications to the same unwashed.

    • Craig Goodrich

      With all due respect, Dr. C, some of us who have a very deep concern for science are much more horrified and disgusted by the damage the IPCC has done to its good name than by anything some small group of creationists might accomplish.

      As you have already discussed, for example, the major section of AR4 (WG I, Ch. 9) is a dense farrago of tendentious doubletalk which, after twenty years and countless billions in research, still provides not a scintilla of actual evidence that the two decades of recent warming (mid-70s to mid-90s) was due to CO2 — and Dr. Jones in 2009 can only echo Hansen in 1988: “Well, if it’s not CO2, I can’t think what else it might be.”

      I spent many years in academia, on both sides of the classroom desk, and I have to say that the apparent attachment of many academics to the whole notion that they are bravely manning the ramparts against attacks by anti-intellectual religious know-nothings is not a meme which is serving them well, and the currently-fashionable harping on the need of scientists to “communicate” better and endless smug seminars examining the “psychology of denial” are utterly unproductive when there is no evidence to communicate, and when the “psychology of denial” is simply rationality.

    • …”It is important to understand this group, in terms of the politics of the climate change issue and also in terms of how scientists can communicate with this group. Dr. Gushee is a Ph.D. scholar who studies this subject and writes books on it.”..

      Commendable intention in the first sentence, but it is a rather extravigant undertaking for anyone, especially scientists. Dr Gushee may be the greatest scholar on the subject on the planet today, but his life’s work will hold little importance to 99.9999999% of the humans inhabiting this planet.

      Humans will believe what they beleive. The importance of information is its immediate significance to the individual. Climatologists or scientists who want to save the world from itself, need to make, discover, invent newer, better, cheaper things that people want to buy for themselves and their family and friends. Humans can be very down to earth people, especially about money, especially their own.

      Too many Climatologists are 23rd Century people in a 21st Century world. Another way of putting that, which seems to image better in my mind — too many Climatologists are 21st Century people in a 19th Century world. It’s not about G_d or faith or political party. You create, change, reinvent civilization from the bottom up, not the top down.

  16. I just spotted this on Huffington Post. A new Gallup Poll says 40% of Americans still believe in creationism

    • Yikes!

    • Seeing as we are descended from pond cruft it doesn’t surprise me. As darwin said “the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind. Or in a twisted fashion, evolution cares nothing about providing man with a truth detection machine between his ears. It cares about the four Fs.

      ( there’s a funny philosophical argument in here that Calvinists will get, no need to go there )

    • Judith, I would describe myself as agnostic, that is – One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God, and – One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism. From that position I do not have a problem with creationism vs. evolution as I believe they can easily co-exist, the problem as I see it is just about time frames. “One day is as a thousand (billion?) Years”, etc.

    • There is a huge confusion here, which one needs to be very careful of. These people only doubt that evolution theory can explain the origin of the human mind. They are not denying the evolutionary origin of species in general. That is an entirely different, and extreme, form of creationism. And since we do not understand the origin of the human mind it is easy to be skeptical. Moreover nothing practical turns on this origin-of-mind skepticism so it is free, as it were. It is the very opposite of climate skepticism.

      • randomengineer

        Correct. The polling sucks because the pollsters are looking for simple categories. It’s a perspective issue. To someone who is an assured atheist there probably seems to be little difference beetween the notions of creating of the earth in 6 literal days and acceptance of evolution with the caveat of the human mind being a received gift. Meanwhile, to many with “deep” faith the perception is that atheism is a religion unto itself, as if the same mechanisms are operating but oppositely.

        A more accurately created poll would likely find that it’s a distinct, tiny minority who buy into the earth being 10,000 years old.

      • Wrong. Many of us KNOW that evolution as taught in our schools and explicated by the believers is a fantasy unsupported by physical evidence, unless you actually believe in Punctuated Equilibrium??

    • I think this is just another survey designed to make secularists feel smug.
      My friend and physician, who is a very good MD and well thought of, has a strong faith, believes in God’s ability to influence and control events as He pleases and will pray with patients if asked. He believes God created the universe, believes life evolved and practices the latest in medicine.
      I point this out as an example of the issue being much deeper than a Gallup smugness poll is able to show.
      Dr. Curry,
      I urge you to read Dr. Elaine Ecklund when you want a deeper perspective on the topic of science, religion and academia.

    • Judith –
      There is no inherent dichotomy between creationism and evolution – only that which comes from misinterpretation by those who imagine that only one of the two can be correct. Until the early 20th century the process of evolution was accepted by all Christian denominations. The only questions were about the mechanism.

      It was the Biblical misinterpretations American fundamentalism that created the controversy. It was Augustine in the 3rd century who maintained that if ones interpretation of Scripture failed to match the reality of the world we live in, then that interpretation was incorrect and must be modified. That wisdom seems to have been lost by some denominations.

      • Theistic evolution is not in conflict with scientific evolution. Young earth creationism (earth is ~6000 yrs old) is in definitely conflict with evolution. So there are different versions of creationism.

      • But that nuance is lost among many, unfortunately.

      • Yes. Young Earth creationism is a product of faulty Scriptural interpretation and the assumptions of an Irish Bishop who, IIRC, later repudiated his own numbers. There are at least four other major branches of creationism that reject the Young Earth hypothesis. Not to mention a gaggle of minor branches and a spectrum of beliefs in each of the major branches. I was raised as a creationist, went on to become an agnostic, then a Buddhist and then circled back to Christianity. I also believe that evolution is the most probable reality wrt human origins. I also recognize that there are problems with the theory. Funny thing is that the evolutionary “true believers” won’t admit to those problems. None of that means the theory is “wrong”, just that it may need some modification along the way – or new/better evidence. Just like climate science in some respects – or particle physics – or cosmology – or archaeology or…….any other science. :-)

    • As a conservative Christian who believes that God is the ultimate creator of life and the universe, I have a few comments and a question. Please don’t confuse global warming skepticism and disdain for the radical environmental movement as “anti-science”. This is a huge generalization. Most of my evangelical friends and acquaintances call themselves “conservationists” in an attempt to define themselves as being good stewards of the earth. They support clean water, clean air, recycling, and using natural resources in a common sense sustainability. They very much appreciate and support all the amazing contributions and knowledge Science brings to the table. However, they fight strongly against the hard left political policies of the environmental movement.

      “Creationist” is a very general term that includes a wide variety of beliefs about the process God used to create. It simply means a belief that there is a God who created life. Science and belief in a creator God are not mutually exclusive. Science tends to promote itself as purely objective with no room for assumptions based on faith. It also tends to imply that it can comprehensively explain all parts of existence from climate to altruistic love; a monopoly on Truth if you will. Most any philosopher of science will be happy to list all the types of assumptions (faith) that form the framework for various scientific theories.

      Dr. Curry, do you believe in a God or are you an atheist or agnostic? I think this information would help clarify the context you are coming from. I feel that the harsher atheist evangelists of Science believe that they must stamp out all belief in a higher power (e.g. Richard Dawkins). This crusade does great harm to the relationship of science to those of us who are believers in God (which includes a huge super majority of Americans). For the record Dr. Curry, you are always gracious and gentle with your presentation and I appreciate this a lot. You seem like a bridge builder, honestly open and curious to various viewpoints that you may not agree with.

      • Zdoc, I am not religious, nor am I an atheist or agnostic; religion just isn’t something that I pay much attention to (I was baptized RC, but drifted away in my teens). I’ve become interested it in the last few years in the context of the questions that I asked of Dr. Gushee. I have no problem at all with the version of creationism that is characterized by theistic evolution. The young earth creationists seem to ignore science, I don’t see how this is reconciled in any way with science. Faith and its various varieties are a personal choice, and don’t need to be in conflict with science (with the exception of the young earth creationists). In my engagement with the evangelicals starting in 2006, and particularly with Dr. Gushee, I have participated in several conferences/workshops explaining science and climate to evangelicals, particularly at Mercer University. I’ve had students in the audience ask me questions about topics such as judgment day. So I have been working to build bridges with the evangelicals, particularly of the “centrist” variety (represented by Gushee, Richard Cizik, Joel Hunter).

        I will also add that I have raised the issue of faith at Georgia Tech, which is pretty much a leave your religion at the door kind of place. David Gushee has given two seminars at Georgia Tech. Also, in my graduate Climate Seminar in Spring 2007, we devoted a class period to discussing my experiences with the evangelicals. Most of the U.S. students in the audience were evangelical, and felt conflicted about science vs religion. In fact, one african american female said her family gave her a lot of grief for studying science. None of the students in the class that were evangelicals had heard of theistic evolution, they were all exposed to the young earth variety, they were all very relieved to hear about theistic evolution and Francis Collins. The evangelical students said that this was the first time they had had any kind of a discussion about religion in any of their classes.

        This was followed up by presentations from international students from china and indonesia, discussing the natural relationship between Buddhism and Islam and respect for nature.

      • Here is another resource you might use to get a feel for Christians and especially Young Earthers. Please read his bio and then, if you have time, his online book. I do not expect it to change any minds but it should give you an idea of how someone who believes in the rationality of science may not believe in every totem hoisted by its practitioners.


        Further, similar to warmers, he has explicitly gone looking for those things that would support his hypothesis with apparently little time spent on attempts to disprove it. As I am also a Young Earther I appreciate his effort in finding POSSIBILITIES to explain a literal interpretation of Genesis while I do not necessarily believe any of it. The really interesting part is that he made a couple of predictions that have been verified that were unexpected to say the least. The discovery of large bodies of water deep underground recently by seismologists was quite amazing!! Doesn’t PROVE anything, but, he has better prediction confirmation than warmers!! 8>)

  17. Agreeing with the comment by David Wojick, I note that the “ingredients of evangelical climate skepticism” mentioned by Dr. Gushee do not include the possibility that other evangelicals have made a sincere effort to understand the scientific claims made by the IPCC and have found those claims to be lacking. I find this omission by Dr. Gushee to be uncharitable, and therefore contrary to the tenets of Christianity as I understand it.

    • Undoubtedly there are skeptical evangelicals that are taking a serious look at the science. But there is a very large group that are not. I will relate a persona experience. I was on a flight from Greenville, SC to Chicago, and found myself seated next to a student at Bob Jones University. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Jones_University. As per the Wikipedia:

      The BJU science department, which supports young-earth creationism, offers majors in biology, chemistry, and physics and also offers courses in astronomy. In 2008 no member of the BJU science faculty held a degree in geology, and the university offered only one introductory course in the subject. Although ten of the sixteen members of the science faculty have undergraduate degrees from BJU, all earned their doctorates from accredited, non-religious institutions of higher learning

      In my conversation with the BJU student, he described to me his course on “Creation Science”, he was particularly taken by the fact that you could see Noah’s flood in the sedimentary strata.
      He thought he was learning science.

      • Also, two noted evangelicals in the climate science community are Sir John Houghton and Roy Spencer.

      • I haven’t read everything Dr. Spencer has written, but what I have had to do with science, not creationism. And I say that as one who isn’t notably religious. I’ve also paid more to oil/coal companies than they have to me, even after working in the oil field for a time. I’m also not stupid. I just a conservative skeptic who believe there is much good in the principles of the Rule of Law, individual liberty, and small government.

      • So does that leave Dr. Spencer unable to practice science?

      • More than half a lifetime ago – no, wait, I’m still alive :-) – I knew a woman who reconciled the Bible with evolution using a hypothesis that Adam and Eve cheated on each with apes. She said, “We know that people are great sinners, so this makes more sense than anything else.”

      • Correction: That should be “cheated on each other with apes.”

      • works for me!

      • My personal favorite is that an alien astronaut crash landed and cheated with the apes.

        Obviously a being capable of interstellar travel would most certainly be considered to be an ‘omnipotent being’.

      • I think you will find that young-earth creationism is a relatively small community. However, back when I taught philosophy of science two of my best students were young earth creationists. They were highly motivated to study the technical details of geology and expose the assumptions, of which there were many. One became an expert on carbon dating. The point is that having a false scientific belief does not make one unscientific. Moreover skepticism, however motivated, is useful in science.

        By the same token it tends to be the climate skeptics who study the science most closely.

      • See the results of the recent Gallup poll. 40% of Americans believe God created humans as-is about 10,000 years ago.

        40% of 310 million is not a “small community”.

      • D64, You have misread me as usual. The small community I mentioned is of those who believe the entire earth is only a few thousand years old, not the human mind. Dr. Curry introduced this young-earth issue. Did you somehow miss the whole thread?

        As for the Gallup poll I suspect it is mistaken in its details, no doubt by not understanding the issue. It is likely that 40% of Americans believe that the human mind arose by other means than selected mutation. That is a well known poll number. But I doubt that most think it was just 10,000 years ago. I have never heard that number before.

      • Read the Gallup article yourself.

      • Thanks for your blog, which I’m following on RSS, and for your reply to my comment. You say, “Undoubtedly there are skeptical evangelicals that are taking a serious look at the science. But there is a very large group that are not.” Couldn’t we replace the word “evangelical” with any other moniker (except perhaps “climate scientists”) and make exactly the same statement? That aside, the difference between your statement and what Dr. Gushee has been saying (in public appearances, which seems to amplify the trespass) is that you acknowledge that some of the skeptical evangelicals are looking at the science. Until Dr. Gushee modifies his public statements to reflect the viewpoint you express here (and probably until he puts away the whole “Nice worldview, huh?” tone of voice) his argument will continue to fail on both scientific grounds (being inaccurate) and on religious grounds (being uncharitable).

      • Now Dr. Curry, I think I understand what you mean when you imply that these students from BJU aren’t learning science. You mean they aren’t learning scientific evolutionary theory. I hope you could at least agree that they are learning some parts of science. At least he is learning about strata and sediments. I’m sure he learned the different types of rocks , various geological terminology and about fossils. I bet you he would at least get a passing grade on a standardized geology test, which is probably better than many other university students who don’t study geology at all. So you’ve got to admit he’s at least learning parts of science, even if the focus is on creation. Isn’t this better than no science at all?

      • The rocks are only allowed to be less than 6000 years old, that causes a problem for any scientific analysis of geology

  18. “….The statement, which was released in 2006, basically says: 1) human-induced climate change is real, 2) the consequences of climate change will be significant, and will hit the poor the hardest, 3) Christian moral convictions demand our response to the climate change problem, and 4) We need to act now…”

    And if you disagree with these statments? I under stand the “denier” tag that gets thrown about, and the “anti-science” tag, but now I am “anti-God” also?

  19. David L. Hagen

    All my professional career as a scientist and engineer, I have been concerned for the poor and the environment. My research strongly includes care for the environment. I have been involved in developing game changer power combustion systems that achieve emissions below California standards without catalysts. I am working to make solar fuels cheaper than petroleum.

    I strongly support Gushee’s call to: “offer the unvarnished truth about where your research stands at any given moment.” I support Gushee’s observation: “to the extent that IPCC got a little sloppy or a little carried away with advocacy, our own efforts to work within our community have been damaged.”

    To complement Francis Collins’ book, I recommend chemist Henry “Fritz” Schaeffer III’s book:
    Science and Christianity: Conflict or Coherence? 2008 Apollos Trust ISBN 097429750X

    “In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines.” Proverbs 18:17 NIV. Gushee sounds reasonable – until your look at the other side.

    Cornwall Alliance
    I strongly encourage readers to read the actual statements by the Cornwall Alliance: Cornwall Stewardship Agenda (2000)
    Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming
    <a href=”http://www.cornwallalliance.org/docs/the-cornwall-declaration-on-environmental-stewardship.pdf Cornwall Statement on Environmental stewardship

    Government tyranny:
    A major issue Gushee overlooked is the ultra liberal push to establish global government under United Nations Control with universal taxation power. This underlies the effort to impose mandatory mitigation / Cap and Trade measures rather than encouraging adaptation. The is epitomized by Christopher Lord Monckton’s St. Paul lecture extract: Is Obama Poised to Cede US Sovereignty? exposing the Copenhagen documents that were to establish global government with universal taxation in guise of a carbon tax. See also Monckton’s full lecture with slides.
    Most conservatives I know are very concerned over increasing government, let alone giving government absolute dictatorial powers. See Revelation 13:16-18 for the basis for limiting such powers.
    Most have forgotten that on passing the 13th Amendment, Congress established income tax rates starting at 1 percent and rising to 7 percent for those with incomes of over $500,000.
    See: U.S. Tax System History 1900 to the End of WWII: How the 16th Amendment Created a Permanent Income Tax Program Now the USA has the highest corporate income tax rate among the 34 wealthy OECD nations. Furthermore, climate alarmists are trying to massively increase that rate to “save the planet”.

    Gushee holds: “1) human-induced climate change is real,”
    Most scientists and evangelicals recognize that humans impact climate. Cooking with firewood will impact climate. Anyone who has seen the thick haze from cook fires and the associated deforestation, or converting forests to farms recognizes “human-induced climate change is real.”

    The problem with that statement is its slight of hand change from the IPCC’s claim “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.[12]” (> 90%). There is a world of difference between stating that humans have some impact vs a > 90% probability that humans cause > 50% of the global warming in the 20th century. Since “global warming” became politically incorrect, it was deceitfully changed to “climate change”. Now anyone who objects is accused of being a Luddard who does not acknowledge that climate can change!

    Impacts on the poor
    “2) the consequences of climate change will be significant, and will hit the poor the hardest,”
    The Copenhagen Consensus (2008) evaluated the benefits/costs for the 30 major global humanitarian projects. Mitigating global warming came in dead last. Why should we bury enormous funds in holes in the ground for negligible impact? Furthermore, that effort would rob the meager funds from caring for the poor through the much more effective 29 higher projects.

    3 billion people live on less than $2/day. Until solar fuel and energy is brought down below the price of coal, denying the poor coal for fuel and electricity would severely withhold what little opportunity they have for development. Gushee does not recognize the extreme inelasticity of fuel. OPEC’s 5% decrease in fuel supply caused fuel prices to increase 400% in 1973. The major objection to “Cap and Trade” is that it would force fuel prices to skyrocket. That would have a devastating impact on the poor.

    The Cornwell Alliance states:

    “Therefore, environmental policies should harness human creative potential by expanding political and economic freedom, instead of imposing draconian restrictions or seeking to reduce the “human burden” on the natural world. . . .When addressing environmental problems, we should respond first to firmly established risks in ways that are cost-effective and have proven benefit.

    The use of inexpensive energy is been the primary basis for development transforming economies. In Exponential growth, energetic Hubbert cycles, and the advancement of technology” Archives of Mining Sciences of the Polish Academy of Sciences, May 3, 2008, Tad Patzek shows world crude oil use increased 6.6%/year for 80 years. From 1880 to 1940, US oil use increased 9%/year. China is now rapidly growing at that 9%/year and India is not far behind. On what basis is the affluent West to say that China and India cannot develop like the US and the OECD?

    “Indisputable” science
    Gushee has been led to believe that the: “broad patterns identified by the IPCC and others are indisputable.”
    Hardly anything in physics is “indisputable”. Even gravity and general relativity are continuing to be checked. It appears Gushee has not read widely on serious concerns skeptical scientists have over the IPCC process as shown by the wide range of issues expressed here in Climate Etc., or at Watts Up With That, Climate Audit etc.
    For a review of published science ignored by the IPCC, or published since, see:
    Climate Change Reconsidered, the 880 page 2009 report by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change.

    Distrust of science
    Gushee claims: “2) Distrust of mainstream science in general (evolution vs. creationism is indeed a factor here for some)”
    It appears Gushee is unfamiliar with the underlying science and with Intelligent Design. He fails to recognize legitimate concerns that there are no mathematically possible purely materialistic ways for the abiogenic “origin of life” by purely naturalistic means. Nor are there for “evolution” to form new macro forms, within the known universe, given known chemical processes and probabilities. E.g. See evolutionist Hubert P. Yockey, Information Theory, Evolution, and The Origin of Life , or evolutionist Fred Hoyle, Mathematics of Evolution. For engineers and scientists, “handwaving” doesn’t cut it. See Michael Behe, The Edge of Evolution. In his recent peer reviewed paper, Experimental Evolution, Loss-of-Function Mutations, and ‘The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution,, Behe shows that by far the most dominant rule of mutation is the loss of function. With any realistic parameters for mutation, Mendel’s Accountant quantifies the steady increase of mutations. How can organisms overcome such “natural selection” to actually create new functions? Hand waving arguments against sound mathematics do not engender trust.

    Government & Taxation
    “5) Libertarian economics as God’s will–God is opposed to government regulation or taxation”
    Gushee claiming conservatives believe that “God is opposed to taxation” is a strawman, and contrary to fact. (Could Gushee have failed to recognize the abuse of the American Colonists’ constitutional rights under the Magna Carta (1215) by King George and Parliament?)
    All Christians that I know would cite Jesus command regarding taxes:
    “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Matthew 22:21 NIV.
    So too Paul’s command:

    6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

    Romans 13:6-8.

    Divine will
    Gushee claims conservatives hold
    “6) Misunderstandings of divine sovereignty–God won’t let us ruin creation”.
    Gushee’s statement is very strange. On what basis does Gushee claim to know God’s mind on this? All conservative Christians I know hold that God already let man ruin creation – by the Fall. If creation was perfect, there would be no need for:
    ““Cursed is the ground because of you” Genesis 3:17 NIV
    “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth.” Isaiah 65:17a. NIV
    “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.” Revelation 21:2 NIV

    Anyone familiar with the Prophets would clearly hold to the contrary. Besides man’s destruction, God himself is described as laying waste the land. E.g. Search for “waste” in http://www.biblegateway.com

    Gushee claims conservatives:
    “doubt that God would permit human beings to have any serious impact on the climate.”
    I don’t think “permit” has much to do with it. Man started with a major mess, and has continued making a fine mess of things for millennia. It is more being scientifically skeptical that anthropogenic influences are really that significant, compared to major natural fluctuations in climate.

    PS The title “conservative religious resistance to climate science” is a caricature. It is equivalent to saying “climate science” is an expression of the liberal Democrat advocacy position or that “Republicans are illiterate”. The primary objection of most conservative Christians is NOT to “climate science” per se, but to the policies of liberal activism pushing “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming”.

    Thanks for the post. Keep up the debate.

  20. Since Dr. Gushee was the principal drafter of the 2006 Evangelical Climate Initiative, maybe he would explain the inclusion of the following claim attributed to the IPCC in the first bullet-point of the ECI statement.

    “It has documented the steady rise in global temperatures over the last fifty years, …”

    That seems to be an extremely strong statement. Yet that 50 year period started with about 20 years of no significant change in temperature. Additionally there is some British fellow who said earlier this year there has been no significant change since 1995.

    If the IPCC actually made that claim, was it ethical of them to do so? If they didn’t make that claim, was it ethical to attribute that claim to them? Is it some definition of “steady rise” unknown to me?

  21. Willis Eschenbach

    Dr. Gushee, thank you for your comments. Inter alia you say:

    DG: I have suggested in some public lectures that there are several ingredients of evangelical climate skepticism:

    1) Disdain for the environmental movement
    2) Distrust of mainstream science in general (evolution vs. creationism is indeed a factor here for some)
    3) Distrust of the mainstream media (nicely captured by Sarah Palin’s derisive term “lamestream media”)
    4) Loyalty to the Republican Party
    5) Libertarian economics as God’s will–God is opposed to government regulation or taxation
    6) Misunderstandings of divine sovereignty–God won’t let us ruin creation
    7) Unreconstructed Dominion theology–Genesis 1–God calls human beings to subdue and rule creation

    I was greatly curious why you left out the #1 reason why people I have spoken to (of all stripes) say they don’t believe the climate scientists — because much of the “scientific work” that the “scientists” have done is garbage, and the scientists have lied to the public about that. I don’t hear much about “Distrust of mainstream science in general”, but boy, there are lots of people out there who really, really distrust mainstreamclimate science.

    I mean, surely that should have made it into the list before # 7, “Unrestricted Dominion Theology”. How many folks even know what that means?

    I find it surprising that folks keep proposing all of these obscure reasons for what is a simple phenomenon — people hate being conned. They would rather be robbed than conned. And they have long memories for being conned, as Lincoln explained:

    If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem.

    And they feel (rightly or wrongly) that when people hide their work, and refuse to archive their data after repeated requests, the overwhelmingly likely reason is because, you know … they have something to hide. They believe that scientists trying to influence the review process is a bad thing. They think that when scientists successfully subvert the IPCC process, that probably the IPCC can’t be trusted. And when they see a number of climate scientists doing those things, they come to the conclusion that all climate scientists are either crooks, or they are people who are unwilling to publicly say that their colleagues are crooks. And as a result, folks throw the whole field of climate science into the trashcan.

    Crazy, huh? Who could possibly think that the American public would disbelieve scientists that either lie, cheat, and steal, or don’t say a single word when their co-workers lie cheat and steal? I mean, what’s not to trust with folks like that?

    So since the general malfeasance of far too many climate scientists is not on your list of reasons, you say it must be that they are doing it because of “libertarian economics”, or “misunderstandings of divine sovereignty” … you’ll pardon me if I don’t believe that.

    The American public has simply seen into the reality of climate science, and noticed that they have been sold a bill of goods by a bunch of cheap hucksters, and they have found climate science wanting. Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin, you know …

    I find your, and other peoples, reluctance to admit that reality quite amazing. The lengths that folks go to in order to avoid discussing the corruption, scientific malfeasance, “pal review”, and shoddy work done in climate science are breathtaking. Somebody won’t buy into a con job, and you tell us it is because of party loyalty … somehow, I don’t think so.

    Perhaps you would be willing to comment about that.

    In the spirit of full disclosure I must warn you, however, that just reading my questions has already made Dr. Lacis disappear entirely, so I can understand if you might want to just jump over this post and not read it at all.


    • This is the typical WUWT-esque conspiracy drivel you’d expect, and it’s pure delusion. How do you actually get by in daily activities as paranoid as you are? It’s also very ironic in the face that it’s actually people like you (and the WUWT ilk) who lead people astray by promoting pseudo-science and intentionally conveying wrong information.

      Do you people actually understand the vast collobration and setup that would need to exist between graduate students (even upper-level undergrads), scientists of hundreds of independent groups/universities, across a broad range of disciplines, etc to accomplish the sort of notorious acts you are suggesting? By “climate scientists” it’s a community of physicists, climatologists, geologists, oceanographers, carbon cycle specialists, paleoclimate experts, etc who are in on this “lie” and are all producing garbage.

      Do you also realize how competitive scientists are to come up with new and groundbreaking results? There’s no motivation to lie in the way you are baselessly suggesting. In the real world, such baseless accusations would cause you to be essentially exiled from the community you are engaged with, and lose any support from your collegaues. Luckily though, you’re allowed to make them since you don’t actually do scientific work and can hide beyond blogs to poke jabs at people who do for profession.

      In the off-chance you are actually being honest or serious, you should also entertain the possibly that you just don’t understand the literature you feel is “garbage” or that people like Dr. Lacis have better things to do than entertain conspiracies and logical fallacies at the level of third-graders attempting calculus.

      I also don’t understand why Judith moderates attacks on individuals but allows for vague and baseless attacks on the whole community, many of which are her collegaues, my professors (or friends, collegaues), and presumably this trickle down conspiracy even goes to students, my collegues, etc….although in studying atmospheric science I have never got the “hush! keep quiet” secret waiver you had to sign to get into the field. Maybe I have to wait for a phD for that.

      • Chris, you are perhaps aware of the actual evidence that at the very least SUGGESTs that some very influencial climate scientists have lied, perverted the peer review process and further have been proven to have subverted FOI requests in the UK (i.e. they have broken tha law).

        I don’t think Willis is suggesting any grand conspiracy as you seem to want to suggest (in an attempt to malign no doubt), but more a group think issue- something that has happened before and will happen again (in all fields).

        The issue is credibility, and climate scientists at present, have little. This is by no means the end of this matter and there is definitley a way back from this by them; they just need to show that they’ve learnt from their mistakes.

        However for you to try to dismiss the concerns- however phrased, as conspiracy bunkum, when there IS evidence of malpractice is counter productive and suggests a different agenda.

      • But there’s no evidence of this at all. To the extent there is it is at the individual level, it is not even at the “group” level, or specifically at any level large enough to constitute a collaboration of climate scientists. It IS a conspiracy theory. To the extent that it has created public distrust, it is not because the climate scientists have done anything wrong. It is because the so-called ‘merchants of doubt’ have succeeded in creating doubt by distorting and misinforming. It’s an interesting social and psychological question to ask how or if they have been so successful, but I struggle to see how educated individuals who spend a fair amount of time (maybe two days) looking into the matters would buy into it.

        No matter what, the conspiracy will live on in people’s imaginations. If 5 independent investigation find no evidence of scientific malpractice than those investigation crews will become part of the conspiracy. It’s a no win situation for reason, logic, and free thought…precisely the goal of these individuals.

      • chris.

        please, stop beating the drum for a second. The indipendant inquiries didn’t look at the data, the emails and only looked at 3 unrelated cases for their ‘investigation’.

        This is all fully documented, the parlimentary inquiry even went so far to say that their report wash rushed due to political pressure and that it did not go into sufficient depth.

        As for your ‘no evidence of this at all’ remark- i’m sorry but there is. I have little interest in trying to debunk the theory by attacking the person- i for the record do not subscribe to the conspiracy theories and really preffer to stick to the science. But even i think that there is ample evidence of malpractice.

        They have been PROVEN to have broken the UK FOI law. They only escaped prosecution on a technicality.

        The emails instructing people to delete data/correspondence would be enough, in my field, to land me in VERY serious trouble and probably prison.

        You simply cannot defend the position you are trying to. HOWEVER, that alone does not mean that the theory is wrong- so please don’t think that is what i am trying to say/imply.

      • Labmunkey,

        I don’t find it particularly enlightening to go through the details of what the climategate emails actually meant and the nature of the investigations. I am also interested more in the science. Still, having read the actual emails, any educated individual should be able to tell that no notorious plot was revealed– perhaps bad judgment. There’s also an undeniable effort to harass scientists by those unqualified to actually examine the data. Of course, one could likely go through the emails of the astrophysics community, the plant ecology community, the cell biology community, etc and find language that is sufficiently easy to mangle. Perhaps the creationists should take a lesson in how to be more effective! As far as I’m aware there is no evolution-gate equivalent yet, but if they tried hard enough, they’d get what they wanted.

        When you look hard enough, it’s easy to snipe an entire discipline for the misconduct of an individual. It’s easy to snipe the discipline even on a misjudgment of an individual, or even an innocent error. One difference between educated and ignorant people is recognizing whether those claims actually translate into anything meaningful. Even some creationists still use Piltdown Man to convince people that evolution isn’t real. I suppose for some, that’s a good selling point. That’s my final word on that matter.

        That said, Willis made very broad claims, and he didn’t make them on an individual or even “a half dozen people mentioned in these emails that did this” basis. He specifically emphasized “much of the “scientific work”” and “the scientists”, “the reality of climate science,” etc…vague enough descriptions to fall back on whatever sub-portion of the community he wants to, but certainly interpretable as a massive conspiracy. The difference between Willis’s sniping and ‘skepticism’ is easy to distinguish.

        I don’t know how many people are out there studying the climate. There are thousands upon thousands of physicists, paleoclimate experts, modelers, observational specialists, carbon cycle experts, etc. and thousands of papers in a broad range of journals which Willis claims is mostly garbage. Much of this work is on stuff you probably don’t even know existed. Much of it is on very focused goals, for example a professor of mine working on carbon budgets for Lake Superior. At my university alone, there are 14 floors in the Atmospheric Science building. There’s also a geology building next door with various people interested in past climates. The school here is more generally known for satellite meteorology and applications of radiative transfer to remote sensing, but there’s at least a whole floor dedicated to climate research and scattered individuals across the building working on climate issues, along with people in other departments interested in climate. The number of people at this university alone working on just climate (let alone atmospheric science in general) far exceeds the people that are persecuted in the climategate emails, which supposedly represent the the communities misdoings, let alone the evolution of climate understanding over the past century.

        So I don’t want to hear about “the climate science community” unless people actually want to grow the cahoney’s to back up their statements with something more productive than “these two guys denied McIntyre some data!”

      • Chris,
        I am of course speaking for Willis here and i may be well off the bat, but i would have thought when reffering to ‘climate scientists’ he is reffering to the core group (responsible for collating and presenting the data for the theory) rather than all the individuals in the seperate fields and as such i don’t think he was trying to paint in a broad brush here- perhaps a semantics issue.

        Unfortunatley “these two guys denied McIntyre some data!”” was illegal. They deliberatley BROKE THE LAW. there is no interpretation here.

        As for your protestations that this kind of behaviour is endemic to all research; if that is the case then science is in a sorry state. What they were doing was on ‘work’ email and at the very minimum demanded a level of proffesional integrity and they showed nothing of the sort- i repeat, this behaviour in my field would result in dismissal and probably prosecution- why are they exempt?

      • Labmunkey,

        I think you are misinterpreting the UK FoI Act. It is not a criminal offence to refuse or fail to respond to a legitimate FoI request – in this case the person requesting the information has the right to complain to the Office of the Information Commissioner who can make a ruling accordingly. If the ruling is in favour of the requestor and the information is still refused then legal action may possibly follow, but that point was never reached in the case of CRU.
        What is an offence under the act is to deliberately destroy material in order to avoid a FoI request, although the penalty is at worst a fine, not prison. Of course due to the time limit no formal investigation was carried out and it has not been established that any data subject to the FoI requests was actually deleted, so to say that is has been proven that they broke the law is simply untrue.
        I would certainly agree, as did the enquiries, that the FoI requests were not properly handled properly by Jones on a personal level and that CRU itself did not have porper mechanisms in place to manage such requests. I’m rather hawkish on FoI issues myself so I do think these are serious and legitimate criticisms, there is no need to indulge in unfounded accusations of deliberate criminal activity.

      • Nullius in Verba

        FOIA (2000) 77.1
        “any person to whom this subsection applies is guilty of an offence if he alters, defaces, blocks, erases, destroys or conceals any record held by the public authority, with the intention of preventing the disclosure by that authority of all, or any part, of the information to the communication of which the applicant would have been entitled.”

      • I don’t think that Jones’s actions come under that category.

      • Nullius in Verba

        In what way?

      • ISTM that the purpose of the above clause is to prevent people from either simply denying the existence of data or taking steps to physicaly prevent the data from being made available even if the institution was minded to do so.
        My understanding is that when the FoI requests were made they were refused on the grounds of the confidentiality agreements which were in place. This may not have been a valid basis for refusal, which is why there is rightly an appeal process, but it not what is described above.

      • Nullius in Verba

        Ah. You’re thinking of one particular FOI. There were several – the one the information commissioner said appeared to have been illegal was to do with the back-channel IPCC correspondence requested by David Holland, that they said they didn’t have any longer, but some of which turned up more than a year later in the Climategate archive.

        You’re thinking of the CRUTEM3 station list and data, which is a complicated story. The confidentiality agreement story wasn’t their first reason for rejecting the request, didn’t stop them sharing the data with other researchers, and it turned out they only had four such agreements, none of which had the exclusions in them Jones said they did.

        It’s a long and convoluted story, which I can recount for you if you like, although there are people here who know it far better than I.

      • TBH, I had forgotten about the David Holland request. If they said they didn’t have the information when they knew ths to be untrue then I would agree that this would be grounds for an investigation, but we can’t pre-judge what the outcome would have been.
        Re the station list and data I agree it’s more complicated. Certainly they handled it badly but the kind of obfuscation they employed is sadly quite common amongst public bodies in the UK when responding to FoI requests. Generally it can be resolved by an appeal to the Infromation Commissioner, AFAIK these things very rarely, if ever, lead to criminal procedings. Personally I’m in favour of the FoI Act having much more teeth.

      • Nullius in Verba

        As you say, there’s no point in re-hashing Climategate all over again. The sceptics have read scientists complaining that sceptical papers in peer review are going to be really hard to dismiss because they appear to be right, journals are being put under pressure for publishing scepticism, evidence of serious statistical problems with reconstructions is being shared privately with warnings not to pass it on in case sceptics get their hands on this “dirty laundry”, blatant discussion of how to circumvent/break the law on FOI, one scientist asserting that allegations of fraud appeared to be correct, published results that turn out to be not replicable, unknown/undocumented methods that output published results described as “meaningless”, scientists being scolded for falsely representing personal opinion and political advocacy as the conclusions sober science, and so on. The defenders have declared that none of this exists, and there’s nothing more here than a few snarky emails and a misinterpretation of the word “trick”. (Or as you say, that somebody wouldn’t share their data with McIntyre.) There is no way that either side is going to get the other to back down. No point in trying.

        But on your point about the rest of the community that are not mentioned in the Climategate archive – the two biggest complaints are first, that the rest of the climate science community didn’t catch it, and second, that even after it has been exposed, hardly any of them are willing to condemn it.

        You might very well have been innocently minding your own business in a lab somewhere and have nothing to do with it, but a major scandal has just erupted in your science and you ought to be outraged. Why didn’t peer review catch it? How did it get so far without being detected? Why has the scientific community not cleaned shop? Where are the major multi-disciplinary investigations and re-assessments of what is now put in question and what is still well-supported? Where are the statements from leaders and professional bodies defending good science, and distancing themselves from such malpractice?


        Well, OK, we’ve got Judith here, and a handful of others. Some, I’m sure, simply are not aware – not having taken the trouble to find out. Some have no wish to attract attention in this hostile political battleground. Some, I’m sure, would fear for their jobs if they were to be branded a ‘denier’. Some, unfortunately, seem to think the ends justify the means, and are trying to avoid “handing ammunition to climate sceptics” or some such.

        Whatever their reasons, the problem with the scientific community extends a lot further than just those mentioned in the emails.

      • Brilliantly put.

        The silence from the ‘climate establishment’ is deafening. And overwhelms the sound of their tattered credibility collapsing even further.

        That Colose and his cohorts seem genuinely incapable of understanding this shows just how buried within the climatologist bubble they have become.

        Like cultists everywhere they have lost their calibration with reality in favour of their gang’s errant Worldview.

      • Chris,
        Your efforts to engage with provocative comments such as those made here by Willis are much appreciated. Thank you for running this gauntlet. As an outsider I too would like to see more of Willis’s work run the gauntlet of submission to peer-reviewed journals; it is all too easy to throw some pertinent observations and good ideas together and upload onto the net.
        However it might be wise to give serious consideration to Willis’s point that “…people…of all stripes…say they don’t believe the climate scientists…” . The recent (admittedly poorly designed, but still noteworthy) Sci Am poll seems to support Willis’ claim. The next step might be to ask oneself, as Willis does, why is there such distrust? Of course it’s not the thousands of relatively obscure people working in labs doing ‘normal’ (in the Kuhnian sense) climate-related science who are primarily to blame, even if they (mostly) don’t blow any whistles. They just go along with the show. It’s the big names that are responsible for this loss of credibility. One can trace this tendency back at least to 1996, when Santer et al (1996) published their seminal paper “A Search For Human Influences On The Thermal Structure Of The Atmosphere” in Nature (382, 39–45). Ben Santer’s co-authors included Tom Wigley, Phil Jones, John Mitchell, Abraham Oort and Venkat Ramaswamy, all well known people in the field. Somehow it didn’t bother any of these distinguished climate scientists that leaving out the first 5 years and the last 5 years of a time series of tropospheric sonde measurements turned the slope of their data from practically flat (or slightly declining) to a clear warming trend; they just went ahead and left out the awkward 10 years regardless. It’s possible that the omission was inadvertent (but didn’t any of them check?), and later the same year Nature, to its credit, published a correction by Michaels and Knappenberger. But to have so many top names associated with such sloppy work cannot confidence on the part of outsiders, whether other scientists or the general public, including adherents of any religion.
        Unfortunately that was by no means the last such example of shaky work by the climate science establishment, as we have more recently seen with the prominent paper by Steig et al (2009, Nature 457, 459-462) on warming in western Antarctica. Steig et al’s paper has now been given a pummeling by non-establishment critics.
        Chris, you’re a capable scientist. Don’t you see that if they are to recover any of their still dwindling credibility some of your esteemed colleagues need to change their attitudes? A bit less advocacy and a bit more rigour might help.

      • hr, your facts are not right. The reasons the Santer paper “stopped” when it did was due to the nature of the data itself, and when it was extended it strengthened rather than weakened their original conclusions. See their response to M&K. As for the demolishing of Steig et al, by a paper which itself has hardly been out long enough to be examined thoroughly, even one of the authors said

        //”The results in the paper are generally similar to the in-process analysis that was posted at CA and here prior to the submission. Overall, we find that the Steig reconstruction overestimated the continental trends and underestimated the Peninsula – though our analysis found that the trend in West Antarctica was, indeed, statistically significant. I would hope that our paper is not seen as a repudiation of Steig’s results, but rather as an improvement.

        In my opinion, the Steig reconstruction was quite clever, and the general concept was sound. A few of the choices made during implementation were incorrect; a few were suboptimal. Importantly, if those are corrected, some of the results change. Also importantly, some do not. Hopefully some of the cautions outlined in our paper are incorporated into other, future work. Time will tell!”//

        Much contrary to the typical WUWT-esque spin on things, and in fact many results in Steig et al are reproduced in the O’Donnell paper. An improvement on previous work is what we like to call “science” here where I come from. Once again, others call it conspiracy. Ho hum.

        I think this is a good lesson in the type of “notorious acts” by climate scientists which get spun up enough by the disinformation campaign which turn out not to be so, and yet they are still believed, much like the point I made in my previous posts. It’s also why I’m done responding to the nonsensical criticisms by Willis and others here (and the climategate misrepresentations), and will only respond to actual scientific dialogue that displays a clue of what is going on in the field.

      • You are right to agree with Santer or he will get you at playtime!!

      • erm, chris.

        you are aware that the paper also showed large areas of antartica that showed warming had actually cooled?

        Yes they found that the peninsular had warmed (as too had other outlying areas- but this is to do with the water they’re sat in and the local air currents. The fact that the central areas once thought to be warming quickly are not, means that although this paper only refines the work of steig, it effectively removes it as evidence for cAGW.

      • I’m pretty sure Chris is smart enough to work this out too, which means his given interpretation is pure spin.

      • The reasons the Santer paper “stopped” when it did was due to the nature of the data itself, and when it was extended it strengthened rather than weakened their original conclusions.

        Hope I get the links right, here is the Santer graph


        here is the graph with the full complement of data


        You need to backup your claim Chris

      • I doubt if you have read the e-mails at all, Chris.
        If you had, you would not be able to honestly say what you do.

      • Hunter,

        I believe Cris has read the e-mails AND understood them. I believe that he is technically competent and understands the Santer paper, the Hockeystick and many other papers much better than either of us.

        That is why people like Cris disgust me so much. They understand, yet, they still go down that road of DENIAL for whatever their reasons are.

      • Correct. Chris is deliberately trying to mislead people.
        Nothing Chris writes can be trusted. You always need to go back and check whether what he claims is true.
        when it was extended it strengthened rather than weakened their original conclusions.
        This is a blatant falsehood, as pointed out by Baa Humbug. If you look at the Santer et al response, it admits that the updated R(t) does decrease after 1988. They then go on to make the usual pathetic climate scientist argument that it is still “consistent with” AGW.
        Amazingly, Santer et al tried the same cherry-picking trick in their 2008 paper, using data only up to 1999.

        I suppose Chris will never learn, because people like Willis have told him so many times and he still doesn’t listen, but here is one more go:
        The reason people are becoming increasingly skeptical is nothing to do with politics or religion. It is because Chris Colose, Ben Santer, Phil Jones, Mike Mann et al repeatedly twist the truth to exaggerate AGW.

      • Chris
        I’m sure Willis will be along to reply, but in the meantime I draw your attention to the following passage…

        “They believe that scientists trying to influence the review process is a bad thing. They think that when scientists successfully subvert the IPCC process, that probably the IPCC can’t be trusted. And when they see a number of climate scientists doing those things, they come to the conclusion that all climate scientists are either crooks, or they are people who are unwilling to publicly say that their colleagues are crooks. And as a result, folks throw the whole field of climate science into the trashcan.”

        I really think you should consider re-reading Willises post.

      • Since when was Willis appointed to speak on behalf of the American public?

      • Since when was Willis not allowed to put forward his opinion?

      • He can put his opinion forward whenever he likes. What I object to is people projecting their own opinions onto the wider public at large.

      • His opinion is that the sceptical public at large agree with his opinion.

        If you believe his opinion is wrong, lets hear your opinion.

      • Chris,
        Your reactionary ignorant response works at RC, I am sure.
        But where people get to actually respond, not so well.

      • I really do have a feeling that we would be able “communicate” if we had a better medium. One day hopefully we’ll evolve to have ESP and MindReading and ThoughtTalk. Bet that’ll be the end of the Web. Wonder how the Gov’ment will control that? Oh well.

      • randomengineer


        It might be useful to ponder the number of people skeptical of electromagnetism. AGW advocates and scientists (you) have a tendency to pigeonhole detractors and/or critics as anti-scientific, and if follows that if true then these same people ought to be doubtful of any and all scientific endeavour.

        Willis is pointing out that people aren’t critical of science in the aggregate, just CLIMATE science.

      • Oohhh, how about the number of people who believe that electromagnetic energy is *dangerous* in all forms? I propose a “wheatgrass index” which might be high for those plus CAGW adherents and many others with a set of irrational fears based on pseudo-science. Just my engineering bias showing through.

      • If you drew a Venn diagram of the ’em is dangerous crowd’ and a Venn of the true believers would have very large overlap, I bet.

      • BlueIce2HotSea


        It is futile for you to demand that deniers stop their broad paranoia toward main-stream-climate-science because it is also accompanied by demands to be selectively gullible to a daily blizzard of disingenuous alarmist BS.

        For example, how are we supposed to react when US Sec. of Energy Chu claims that North Slope oil and Arctic fossils got there via continental drift? This does not seem to be the view of geologists and paleontologists. One tract about an Arctic island fossil find explicitly put the island within the Arctic circle for the entirety of its existence. Yet when the media reported the find, this was strangely changed to read it moved there from a warmer area. No mention was made that the warmer area was within five degrees of the north pole during a warmer era.

        I am deeply concerned over the potential for catastrophic climate change and I want the science to IMPROVE!!! This cannot happen if flawed, iconic symbols of warming are enshrined and zealously defended. Criticism must be acknowledged in a way that is channeled toward improving the science!

      • blueice2hotsea,
        Everytime you write ‘denier’ in reference to this issue, I read it as your being no different from some racist hick calling poeple he does not like ‘ni**er’.
        The AGW social moevement, from blowing up kids as belief motivation, to Craven’s melt down, to Hansen’s calls for criminal and terroristic imposition of his policy desires, seems filled with unreasonable, brutish and unhinged people. If you would like to be seen as different, start with what you call skeptics.

      • So “denier” is akin to “ni**er” but “brutish and unhinged people” is ok?

      • Is ‘brutish and unhinged’ the general adjective for a supporter of AGW? No.
        Are there links between ‘denier’ and a nazi holocaust deniers or the equivalent? No.
        So please peddle your strawman elsewhere.

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        Your vulgar projections reveal much about yourself and nothing about me.

        As a former angry denier and now cynical lukewarmer, I come here to learn how to be a civil agnostic lukewarmer. I am completely serious when I say I enjoy your posts, but then again I would also miss D64 if he/she went away entirely.

        BTW Lindzen says he prefers to be called a denier and I have a geat deal of admiration for him.

      • Chris –
        The first and foremost reason I became a sceptic about GW/CC/whatever-you-want-to-call-it is because I immediately saw the lie in the hockey stick. I’m not that stupid or uneducated or gullible that it didn’t register that the Hockey stick was a negation of at least a century of research and knowledge in at least a score of fields. It took another few years before M&M provided the proof and then Wegman backed them up.

        Anyone who can read the CA accounts of the hide-the-data games that were played with McIntyre & Co. or read the Wegman and North reports (and the accompanying Congressional testimony) or read the CA article about the peer review process for the McKitrick & Nierenberg paper (http://climateaudit.org/2010/12/15/mckitrick-and-nierenberg-2010-rebuts-another-team-article/) or read the climategate emails – and say that those actions (and the hundreds, if not thousands, of similar incidents) are normal science or that they have any ethical or moral basis or that they’re even socially acceptable is operating out of either blind religious fervor or blind self interest (whether financial or otherwise) or simply has the morals and manners of an alley cat. I don’t know where you stand nor do I care. But attacking Willis for telling the truth isn’t a place I think you want to be. It’s like throwing rocks at the neighborhood kids while standing in front of your own glass house.

        Now, you said:

        Do you people actually understand the vast collobration and setup that would need to exist between graduate students (even upper-level undergrads), scientists of hundreds of independent groups/universities, across a broad range of disciplines, etc to accomplish the sort of notorious acts you are suggesting? By “climate scientists” it’s a community of physicists, climatologists, geologists, oceanographers, carbon cycle specialists, paleoclimate experts, etc who are in on this “lie” and are all producing garbage.

        And unfortunately, I actually do understand that what you claim does NOT happen – DOES happen. I worked at Goddard for most of 42 years – with the atmospheric scientists. And I talked to them. One talks about a lot of different subjects while waiting through a spacecraft thermal-vac test or waiting for a spaceraft science data dump or working through science instrument schedules or problems or waiting for a design meeting to start or over lunch at a conference. And one of those subjects was global warming. And the opinion of nearly all of those atmospheric scientists was that the theory was flawed and the data did not support it to any great degree. But they dared not express those opinions officially or publish anything of the sort if they wanted to keep their jobs and careers. “Grand conspiracy”? No – just “sit down and shut up and don’t rock the boat or we’ll throw you out to drown on your own”.

        How about all those scientists who publish papers and write books that provide evidence against CAGW – and then write conclusions that support it? Are they stupid? Biased? Dishonest? Or do they just understand that if they want to get published, they MUST satisfy the gatekeepers that they are “reliable”? Oh … you say that doesn’t happen? Horse puckey. It certainly does happen – if I can see it, why can’t you?

        And then there are all those “new and groundbreaking results” – where are they? I’m hearing the same lines of thought, the same general theorisations, many of the same problems that I was hearing 10 years ago. Where are the solutions, the new ideas, the results that over $70 Bn in research money was supposed to have bought us? The feedback/sensivity are still not nailed down, the models still are not giving results at the level of fidelity that the investment in time and money were supposed to have provided, there’s been 10- 12 years of catastrophic warnings about nearly everything in sight (few, if any, of which have materialized) and now there’s a growing public mistrust of what has come out of climate science – only in part because of climategate. The press has abandoned you, the politicians are belatedly catching on, and those of the public who bother to look at what’s happening see exactly what Willis expounded on above. And the fact that there were 5 (count’em 0 FIVE) investigations of Mann and the climategate principals that were obvious and blatant whitewashes simply paints the entire climate community with the same brush. As Willis said – Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin.

        The bright spot in this whole thing is the rare and valuable people like Judith Curry and Mike Hulme and those like the Pielkes, Spencer, Lindzen and the others who have maintained their integrity and enough of their scientific curiousity to not dismiss sceptics out-of -hand. And there are too few of them.

        Think about it – just recently there was a paper by “non-scientists” that “corrected” the Stieg Antartctic paper that was a crown jewel of the “consensus” less than two years ago. Where did tha come from? And what kind of gauntlet did they have to run to get it published? Could “you” have run that kind of gauntlet? Would you have?

        And yet you diss people like them. They are the product of the sceptic community and even though I know none of them personally, I’m proud of them. Watch out ’cause there’s more of them coming and you wouldn’t want to get run over in the process. .

      • Jim, you describe perfectly the conspiracy that HAS taken place since climate “science” was coined – a conspiracy of silence. Of course we will never be able to PROVE the existence of such a conspiracy to Chris’ satisfaction, but that is merely because he will see to it that the standard of proof he demands is one that a conspiracy of silence cannot meet, not because the evidence for it, as you show, is not abundant.

        So much for grand conspiracies. That leaves the petty conspiracies Willis mentions, which you will never be able to PROVE to Chris, not because he will put them beyond proof, but because, by his own admission, he declines to look at the evidence.

        Pathetic, really.

      • Bravo Jim Owen!!

      • All you have to do is ask yourself what would happen to the careers of scientists who were sceptics.

        Ask yourself, if in your PhD, you came to the conclusion, no matter how well founded, that AGW doesn’t exist, what would happen? It would be binned, and you would be ridiculed.

        Many grant applications in the UK start by saying that the recipient will show the effect of AGW on x, y, z. What happens to the application that says the opposite?

        Add to that the fact that AGW probably doesn’t enter into the everyday lives of most scientists, and so can be ignored for most of the time, if you were a sceptic, would you speak up?

        I’ve seen posts by people who wanted to become climatologists, but were sceptics, so changed their career paths, because running the gauntlet would be too livelihood threatening and hassling.

        Try a thought experiment. Become a sceptic and see how that changes your grades, your life, your career prospects …

        I am reminded of a fabulous book I have by a Romanian comparative religion scholar, “Shamanism”, which is an in depth study. At the end of it (after Dionysos, Mithra, Caucasian practices etc) he moves on to discuss aspects of Christianity. It’s very obvious that the Easter parts of Christianity contain aspects of shamanism (mutilation, psychopomp etc). However he can’t say that in his cultural context (the sixties), he’s actually already taking a risk just discussing it, so he hand waves. I’d love to know what he’d say today.

  22. Dr Curry,
    I’m confused. This may just be due to my background, but i fail to see the significance, or even relevance of asking a religious practitioner his position on a scientific subject or his opinion of those on the ‘opposite’ side of said subject.

    With kindness, this seems to be (to my simple mind) a non-article and at best nothing but a distraction.


    • Perhaps the truly fascinating direction this thread could take is to establish what constitutes religious belief as opposed to scientific hypotheses.

      One clear distinction is falsifiability, something which many “Urgent Climate mitigation” advocates have a problem with, I believe.

      Instead of the four “tenets” set out by Dr Gushee, would it be an idea to develop a short list of things which would essentially act as compelling evidence that no urgent mitigative action is needed in respect of AGW.

      Also perhaps a short list of things which would necessitate urgent mitigative action.

      By these means we can perhapshelp to differentiate between sound science and religious belief.

      • It would be fascination i agree, but a distraction.

        I already fear that this site is veering too far into conjecture and analysis of fringe matters (or discussion on matters that implicitly assume the theory to be sound) so would hope that this didn’t happen.

      • Think of all this as a straight line in a curved universe where everything is connected. If people (in some form) and the universe last another 14 billion years, we still won’t know it all and will still be ascribing some inexplicable thing or process to G_d. Who knows, maybe we’ll be right.

      • what an interesting metaphor (straight line curved universe), i like it.

    • I’m confused. This may just be due to my background, but i fail to see the significance, or even relevance of asking a religious practitioner his position on a scientific subject or his opinion of those on the ‘opposite’ side of said subject.

      The thread title is interesting, and it seems like the perfect analogy of how thinking in the climate science community goes these days.

      First, there’s a presumption that the religious conservatives comprise enough of the skeptic community to be noticed, which needs to be “understood.” Second, the presumption seems to be premised on the implied assertion that religious belief is informing skepticism of science.

      Much like climate science, we go straight from the assumption to grasping for the answer (or attempting to prove it) rather than asking a simpler and more useful question: why are skeptics skeptical? The answer to the useful question would show that religious belief isn’t informing skepticism in the first place. So much for the implied assertion.

      Perhaps an even simpler question would be to ask what skeptics are really skeptical OF, especially as the initial presumption seems concerned with Americans. Sure there’s a range, but there are common themes. On such is a uniquely American distrust that’s part of the American DNA. This was a country founded on the idea that government doesn’t dictate and we simply accept our fate. That’s what subjects do. Not citizens. But when AGW advocates speak, it’s always couched in terms of “the government will do this” and the natural response is… oh yeah? Sez who?

      In US politics yes it’s true that the “conservatives” tend to be the ones with most of that DNA intact. AGW advocates tend to be “liberals” with no such anti-top down government gene in evidence. On the US left, the notion that government by and large isn’t trustworthy and is supposed to be small for that reason simply doesn’t exist. The academic left has no more in common with the average American than it does camels. (And no this isn’t my original thought; this is a theme in Charles Murray’s — he of the Bell Curve fame — upcoming book.)

      Does this explain all skepticism? Of course not. But this would be a step in a direction that’s not assuming from the getgo that conservatives are somehow looking everything up in bibles.

      And thus we see climate science in microcosm: make an assumption based on incorrect assertions, then spend $50 billion on an effort to prove it. If anyone questions anything, point out that they don’t get science. Bonus points for anyone witholding data; claim the *subjects* aren’t qualified to view it anyway (I’m looking at YOU, Chris Colose; you made this statement on this very thread.)

  23. Bonafide Anti-Climate Conservative

    There are two things that anti-climate people and pro-climate people (thanks to randomengineer for the brilliant terminology-sarc) should be able to agree on. One, that we live in a god-haunted planet. Two, that we live in a climate-change haunted planet.

    By the first, I mean that you can name virtually any unusual phenomena that either has occurred or might occur in this world, and you can probably find articles written by believers giving a religious explanation for it.

    By the second, I mean that you can name virtually any unusual phenomena having to do with air or moisture or temperature, and you can probably find articles that seek to explain it with reference to human-caused climate change.

    Some reading this might be familiar with the Warmlist, “A complete list of things caused by global warming” at http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/warmlist.htm I don’t think it’s been updated regularly. Thus the number of dead html links probably equal the number of dead theory linkages.

    The mortality rate for claims relating current events to biblical prophecy is extremely high. And the internet is a vast graveyard of forgotten stories attaching global warming to virtually anything fearful minds have managed to conjure.

    I have some advice for “pro-climate” people and also for religious believers. If you take your beliefs seriously, you should be seriously offended if not outraged when spurious claims are made in support of them. And when claims are made that at first seem credible but are later shown to be false, you should reject them strongly and publicly.

    Call me a skeptic, but I find that most specific claims in support of religious theses just don’t hold up. Where they are not clearly wrong, they are highly dubious and invite nothing so much as further skeptical questioning. Likewise with claims about human caused dangerous warming. I find both arenas to be filled with superstition and resort to authorities, nontransparency, and dogmatism. That may good enough for some people, but it’s not good enough for me. Combining religious gullibility with scientific gullibility seems like a particularly unfortunate recipe.

    That said, I am neither an atheist nor an awarmist. And I wish my religious friends and my global warming believer friends all the best. It’s just that I’m unable to shake Kant’s exhortation:

    Sapere Aude! (“Have courage to use your own understanding!”)

  24. David Wolff 1236

    From the Christian side of things:
    God is not data.

    Many Christians have received a gift of faith that enables them to experience the presence of a supernatural God and a resurrected Jesus in their hearts. This faith cannot be shared as scientists can share physical evidence to prove their point. It is personal and inward, But it is real and confirms our worldview. Believing in God and Jesus despite evidence to the contrary is one of the great battles of faith for Christians. True Christians will never concede that the material world is all there is or that Jesus was just a man.

    • David L. Hagen

      David Wolf
      Re: “Believing . . .despite evidence to the contrary ”
      Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the strong supporting evidence for the case.
      e.g., See J. Barton Payne, The Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy, Baker Book House (June 1980) ISBN-13: 978-0801070518

      Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict, Thomas Nelson; Rev Upd edition (November 23, 1999) ISBN-13: 978-0785242192. etc. etc.
      Test the evidence!
      whether comparing the divinity of Jesus Christ vs Julius Caesar, or
      whether recent global warming (/cooling) has been predominantly due to nature or to man, or
      whether the observed 20th century global warming will lead to catastrophic consequences or improvements to agriculture.

  25. lots of evenagelic christians are climate scientists..

    Sir John Houghton, Rev, Wahl..(team member)
    Tim Mitchell, the missing Tim from the Harry-Read_me.txt file..

    Programming Hadcrut, responsible for CRU datasets.


    “Although I have yet to see any evidence that climate change is a sign of Christ’s imminent return, human pollution is clearly another of the birth pangs of creation, as it eagerly awaits being delivered from the bondage of corruption (Romans. 19-22).

    Tim Mitchell works at the Climactic Research Unit, UEA, Norwich, and is a member of South Park Evangelical Church.”

    Are they really looking for the null hypothesis, ie ath AGW may actually be very small effect, uncertainties, sensitivity unknown..

    People that went in environmental science, climate science in the last 20 years were a self selecting group who wanted to ‘save the planet’ for whatever reason, religious, secular, etc.

    • missed out the link.. Tim Mitchell (Harry_Read_me.txt fame) is now an evangelical priest (left climate science in 2004)

      written whilst he was doing his PHD at CRU.


      “Although I have yet to see any evidence that climate change is a sign of Christ’s imminent return, human pollution is clearly another of the birth pangs of creation, as it eagerly awaits being delivered from the bondage of corruption (Romans. 19-22).

      Tim Mitchell works at the Climactic Research Unit, UEA, Norwich, and is a member of South Park Evangelical Church.”

      • “Although I have yet to see any evidence that climate change is a sign of Christ’s imminent return, human pollution is clearly another of the birth pangs of creation, as it eagerly awaits being delivered from the bondage of corruption (Romans. 19-22).”
        Err – Barry, is this from the new, new, new translation? LOL.

      • Tim Mitchell quoted it not me….!!

        He is also the ‘climate scientist’ -who interstingly sent out the Pre-kyoto consensus email (and collated the responses on behalf of Mike Hulme Cru) the one where Tom Wrigley (former head of cru) that had some devasting things to say about…

        Hulme: “Reference: Statement of European Climate Scientists on Actions to ProtectGlobal Climate

        Dear Colleague,

        Attached at the end of this email is a Statement, the purpose of which is to bolster or increase governmental and public support for controls of emissions of greenhouse gases in European and other industrialised
        countries in the negotiations during the Kyoto Climate Conference in
        December 1997. The Statement was drafted by a number of prominent European scientists concerned with the climate issue, 11 of whom are listed after the Statement and who are acting as formal sponsors of the Statement…….
        ……………We realize that you are very busy, but this action may have a very positive influence on public discussions during the critical period leading up to Kyoto and during the Conference itself.

        With best wishes,

        Michael Hulme, Climatic Research Unit, UEA, Norwich
        Joseph Alcamo, University of Kassel, Germany

        Tom Wigley:
        “I was very disturbed by your recent letter, and your attempt to get
        others to endorse it. Not only do I disagree with the content of
        this letter, but I also believe that you have severely distorted the
        IPCC “view” when you say that “the latest IPCC assessment makes a
        convincing economic case for immediate control of emissions.” .

        “It is not IPCC’s role to make “convincing cases” for any particular policy option; nor does it. However, most IPCC readers would draw the conclusion that the balance of economic evidence favors the emissions trajectories given in the WRE paper. This is contrary to your statement.”

        “This is a complex issue, and your misrepresentation of it does you a
        dis-service. To someone like me, who knows the science, it is
        apparent that you are presenting a personal view, not an informed,
        balanced scientific assessment. What is unfortunate is that this will not be apparent to the vast majority of scientists you have contacted.

        In issues like this, scientists have an added responsibility to keep their
        personal views separate from the science, and to make it clear to others when they diverge from the objectivity they (hopefully) adhere to in their scientific research. I think you have failed to do this.

        People who endorse your letter will NOT have “carefully examined” the issue.

        When scientists color the science with their own PERSONAL views or make categorical statements without presenting the evidence for such
        statements, they have a clear responsibility to state that that is what
        they are doing. You have failed to do so. Indeed, what you are doing is, in my view, a form of dishonesty more subtle but no less egregious than the statements made by the greenhouse skeptics, Michaels, Singer et al. I find this extremely disturbing.

        Tom Wigley”

        There is a lot more criticism, see the full email

        search for: Statement of European Climate Scientists on Actions to Protect

        the climategate email, list all thos names it was sent out to… (13 years ago) some of these names below:

        Sir Professor John Houghton in there, Chair IPCC three reports
        Professor Nigel Arnell – now director Walker Institute fro Climate Change Research
        Professor Julia Slingo – Now chief scientis at the Met office.

      • Why can’t I stop laughing whenever I hear “reverend Tim of South Park”?

        Yes yes childish but soooo funny

      • ‘proof’ that the universe has a sense of humour – manbearpig where for art thou?

  26. As a european south of the protestant/catholic line, I am more familar with the catholic worldview than with the protestant one. I think that catholics are more supportive of the mainstream climate view, i.e. CAGW, but sometimes a little bit affraid of the green movement. My personal analysis is that they fit really well with CAGW: humans have sinned (consumerism), and CO2 induced warming is the way they will suffer for their sins. Even the solutions involving CO2 taxes ring a bell, it’s the indulgence again: pay for your sins, it will alleviate culpability and open the paradise gates if you pay enough….without having to really stop sinning :-)

    On the other hand, CAGW fit a little bit too well, and green movement is considered as a rival religion. Green party rise is almost coincident with the rapid drops in catholic faith , so it is understandable that the catholic authorities are a little bit affraid: it’s a modern competing religion they are against, one that ride the same guilt trip as the old catholic one, with some pagan-mother-gaia added. Catholicism mixed with feminist paganism is a formidable competitor to the old and tired classic catholicism of Rome :-)

    • kai,

      As an european north of the protestant / catholic line, I feel most of your personal analysis fits well with my observations around me.

      • Kai, Andre,

        True science has no religious boarders. It has no concern about a higher being or of mans evolution.
        It is about a planet evolving not errogant mans evolving, just the constant input/output changes.

      • This may be true of “true science”, but it is not true of “true humans”. One is an ideal, the other is the actual state of ‘climate’ within human ‘evolution’ at the present time. Therefore, science in the present does have religious borders. It is concerned about a higher being and of man’s evolution. It is not all about a planet evolving and is also about errogant mans evolving, and not just the constant input/output changes. I’m not saying this is the way it should be, I’m saying this is the way it is. The idea that humans are capable of ‘true science’ is probably true. The idea that we (the World) are doing true science in the 21st Century is a California pipe-dream. People aren’t there yet, and won’t be for a long time, there’s just too much we just don’t know.

  27. Sir John Houghton Chair IPCC ‘hockey stick report (AR3)

    Speaking at my local Church (audio and slideshow)

    John Houghton
    Wargrave Church
    17 June 2010

    Joseph, Pharoah and a Climate Crisis


    How to answer climate Sceptics


  28. The Rev Gene Wahl (prolific co athor with Michael Mann (team member)

    The Rev. Dr. Eugene Wahl is a climate scientist with the Paleoclimatology Branch of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). He is also Adjunct Professor of Environmental Ethics and Economics in the Earth Literacy Graduate Program at St.Mary-of-the-Woods College, Indiana. Gene is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church
    and has served parishes in the Dioceses of California, Minnesota, and Colorado



    My point is tryin to paint climate scepticism (or denial) as political or christian motives seem a bit silly.. Many of the senior sceintists involved in the IPCC canb be described as christian of the evangelical kind.. (hulme and others as well)

  29. Dr Gushee:
    So let’s agree on a division of labor in which climatologists and other scientists offer the unvarnished truth about where your research stands at any given moment, what is both known and unknown, and we can craft our advocacy claims realistically based on what you are finding. I fear that in the white-hot spotlight of climate science sometimes this care has been lost on all sides. …. But I remain at least tentatively confident that human beings will get their act together on climate change before it is too late.

    There seems to be an incongruous jump in his thinking at this point. He seems to implicitly recognise that we are not getting the “unvarnished truth” about climate science but still seems tied to us getting our “act together on climate change before it is too late.”

    Before we can have a “too late” we have to have an “unvarnished truth” to determine what we need to do and when.

    It is an a priori condition that get our act together on climate science before we can get our act together on climate change (or lack thereof).

    If the good doctor is the incisive intellectual you seem to see him as , it is a bit surprising that he makes such an illogical leap of reasoning.

    However, faith and logic are hardly build of the same stone. It seems his point of departure was based on FAITH in the IPCC. One, which as a secular scientist, I cannot share.

    His call for a division of labour is sound. The likes of Hansen et al need to decide it they want to work for the advancement of science or else they quit there jobs and start an advocacy group.

    This conflict of interest is not longer acceptable or credible.

  30. Who said the road to [Green?] Hell is paved with good intentions…

    Sir John Houghton (June 2010) (pg 8)

    “Haven’t we first to tackle World
    Poverty, then Climate Change?


    because unless
    we tackle Climate Change now,
    the plight of many of the poorest
    will be enormously worse”

    Sir John , no doubt sincerely believes that…
    I think he is wrong, and condemming the world poor, who are actually suffering now, from the benefits the west has.. by his belief in the CAGW delusion, formed over 20 years ago when their was very little evidence, followed by a warming period…

    His refusal to even contemplate that he is wrong, (ie sensivity low/negative) and the belief it is just big oil/coal denying things, is harmful to the worlds poor and some would consider his actions as having an ‘evil result’

    He also has not READ any of the emails…
    I have asked him those questions personally, thus he is either ignorant of the problems in ‘climate science (through belief) or choose to ignore them.

    Would he listen to this… (BBC Paul Hudson)

    “In my blog ‘could the sun cast a shadow on global temperatures’ I wrote about how Australian scientist David Archibald was convinced that prolonged weak solar activity could mean much colder winters in future. He wrote his paper in February 2009.

    Perhaps we all need to get used to colder winters across the UK in the next few years. “

  31. Judith,

    This is a fascinating area of society development and not greatly far apart in structure. Religion controlled by people of faith and science controlled by government who in most part are religious.
    I was very much religious in my younger years but found many interpretations of the bible up to the individual ministers.
    This brought up many suppressed questions that the bible could not answer.
    Science I found developed boundaries of individual areas of study that did not go together as a whole. Too many missing pieces that ordered anyone to stay within these boundaries.
    The evolutionism and creationism were for mans sake of understanding human evolution.
    Arrogance did not allow that the planet was/is evolving and not for mans sake. Water developed survival mechanism to try and stay as a mass on a pressurized planet. When water evolved, so did life as we currently know it.
    All due to planetary slowdown.

    Interesting is that ALL solar systems rotate and are two dimensional as not to collide into each othe if they we three dimensional when travelling through space a great speeds.

    Deep research generates an understanding of what this planet is trying to accomplish and what our future holds.

  32. Barry, intersting comment on the christian link of some of these key players.

    John Houghton was also head of the Met. Office in early 80s and charged by Thatcher with the job of setting up Hadley Centre and creating the temperature record in liaison with CRU.

    It would need more study to suggest whether there are a disproportionate number of fundamental christians capturing the limelight.

    I think it is like kai’s comment above that the younger generation, in a society where the citizen is feeling more and more powerless, have grasped ecology with the fervour of a religion and anyone who does not agree is viewed as a heretic.

    What could be a holier aim than “saving the planet”? Who could be against that?

    This whole movement is being pushed from above and has been used to divert the political energy of a generation. The vague aim with a target so far in the future we will not get to see if we succeed or not is an ideal diversion from the real politics of the dismantlement of democracy and moving towards unelected world government.

    Future generations will not hate us for the climate we leave them but for the politics that enchain them.

    • The planets does not need saving.
      It will evolve with us or without us. It makes no difference to the systems this planet generated.

      Our fallisy is with who we elect and what we buy.

    • I experience some of this displaced fervor when I speak with my children about critically reviewing their complicated views on environmental issues.
      So…..at this Christmas visit, we won’t. ;^)

    • I’m against ‘saving the planet”. It’s the wrong aim.

      Saving logic and reason is a higher priority for me. The rest will follow.

  33. /how about POST ON THE RISKS OF BEING WRONG? What if the temp is really dropping? What would that mean? If they have “faked” data and models to the point, al well meaning, that they are missing a change – what risks does that create?

    • WAR!
      Governments are greatly in debt and owe currency to other countries. These countries would not be kind to holding worthless currency.
      Closed boarders also ensures the current people cannot migrate like our past ancestry.

  34. A couple of messages from atmospheric physicist, evangelical lay preacher and former IPCC WG1 co-Chair Sir John Houghton:
    “God is Creator
    Science is God’s science”
    “Pharoah & Joseph had
    7 YEARS
    So have we

  35. Alexander Harvey

    Were I asked whether global warming be true. I could but reply “True to what?”

    True to my beliefs? True to a scientific theory?

    But were I asked if the scientific theory of global warming be true, I would be on firmer ground. For it can be true to nothing if not science. But what is scientific truth?

    When autumn fruit falls it is not Newton that is true but the apple.

    Now were you to disagree, I would say that it is nought but that my view is not true to your beliefs.

    English seems to lack a word for fact-i-ness, we use true to encompass. In a language so replete it would seem remiss were such a word needed.

    My comment hee fits on this thread through a commonality between truth and faith by their connection to fidelity. The act of being true.

    When young I could ponder my personal mortality in an abstract way. This was odd in that it expressed a belief in something of which I had no experience and I have not gained in that respect since. Truth in such matters seemed to rest in a notion of faith, for to what else could such matters be said true.

    Truth does not rest in science, a body of thought, that be just our gift to nature. We grant nature the facility for infidelity. It might be wise to hope for nothing in return. Truth rests on infidelity declined. In actions that need not happen but do. A burden of life is to be true when the truthful options are irreconcilable.

    Why nature should, or even could, be true to our science, our conception of the world. I cannot see how one might ponder this without raising the spectre of meaninfulness. Do actions mean something?

    All in all, it might be best to be lenient, tolerant not only in all matters of belief but also in all matters of truth except were it is clear what that matter needs be true to.

    It might say that creationism is unscientific, but to say it is untrue would be an action untrue to myself. I know people that are bewildered as to how a scientist might believe such things. They lack conception of the nature of faith that embraces belief in scientifically impossible things. The conflict of faith. I know of few such alienating questions as questions of faith. A debate over which so little empathy extends. Not just between antagonists; I know people internally so divided, between their two lives separated temporally by a transformative revelation.

    The search for truth is odyssean and perhaps similarly cursed. It can be persued in the writings of pure science and more rounded literature, in can be persued via acts of contemplation of the mundane and the divine.

    I have found life too long to spend in contemplation and have since rejoiced in serving irresolvable mysteries.


    • Alex,
      You are trapped in what “man created” mindset.
      Gods are a good controller of the masses to believe together in a common area where someone is in charge.
      Nature has no boundaries to mans laws.
      Water generated checks and balances for it’s survival, not mans survival.

      • Alexander Harvey


        I am sure that I do not understand your comment, so perhaps you are right.

        ‘You are trapped in what “man created” mindset.’

        You will have to explain.

        ‘Gods are a good controller of the masses to believe together in a common area where someone is in charge.’

        How does this relate to me or my comment?

        ‘Nature has no boundaries to mans laws.’

        Do you mean something similar to:

        ‘Nature need not respect the boundaries of mans laws.’

        which is akin to what I intended or

        ‘Nature puts no boundaries on mans laws.’

        which I didn’t intend, or did you mean somethng else entirely?

        ‘Water generated checks and balances for it’s survival, not mans survival’

        Not sure what you mean by ‘generated checks and balances’.


      • Alex,
        I have generated a great deal of information(unpublished) on atmospheric pressure build-up which is water related. H2O has a facinating history of bonding with chemicals and minerals that it has deposited off to change with the planet slowing down. Precipitation was not falling until a billion years ago due to needing the density to saty on the planet as centrifugal force would have “evaporated” it long ago.
        You have to understand ALL the energy players to find out our current science stinks and does not want to change.

      • Joe,

        I read that there is a mechanism that minimizes atmospheric loss. The particles in the thermosphere are ionized making an extremely thin plasma. This plasma is constrained by the magnetic field of the earth. Little loss actually happens from simple centrifugal action.

  36. It would be nice to read Dr. Gushee’s comments on the implications finding out that new Zealand temperature records were ‘adjusted’ to show warming that wasn’t:

    A question that comes to mind is at what point does a little sloppy or a little carried away become noble cause corruption?

  37. Judith,
    Do you really want to know the truthful creator to man?
    The evolution of water.

  38. Is Dr. Gushee going to grace us (sorry for the pun) with his replies?

  39. Perhaps we can now see someone who can figure out why liberals take to apocalyptic scary stories like CO2-causing-global-climate-disruption as ducks to water?

  40. The article may or may not be an accurate picture of some US evangelist Christians but it is not my experience of UK evangelism.

    I attend a mainstream protestant church in England whose vicar is an ardent socialist evangelist. He preaches (and the congregation mostly agree) that Christianity is socialism by another name.

    I have always found it odd that right wing Christians are able to reconcile the differences between these two beliefs.

    • Nullius in Verba

      That depends on whether you interpret “Socialism” to mean “concern for the poor” or “the state taking control of the means of production” which was first proposed as an intermediate step towards communism. (Note, “control” doesn’t necessarily mean ownership.)

      The right wing are concerned for the poor too. But they argue that it should be dealt with via voluntary charity, voluntary mutual insurance schemes, and by economic development so as to enable the poor to become rich through working for the common benefit of society. Much of the right wing are not generally in favour of the selfish abuses of power by big business, either. If you’re interested in a more sympathetic explanation of free market economics, I recommend Bastiat’s book ‘Sophisms of the Protectionists’ which is available free on the internet.

      • As a self-styled member of the “right wing,” I am concerned for the poor. As an advocate of small government, I would be for a welfare program based on net worth. Net worth would have to fall below a certain amount in order to be eligible. Welfare would allow one to subsist without living on the street, perhaps by living with others in the same boat in order to afford rent. So there would always be motivation for someone to move up and get a job. There are more details to this such as help for the disabled, but welfare would not enable a great lifestyle and shouldn’t IMO.

    • From some of your previous contributions I venture to guess he also preaches about climate change being mostly due to human activity. Is that correct?

      • tallbloke – I don’t think he has ever preached anything about man’s effect on the climate – he’s not a scientist, he’s a priest.

    • I find it odd that ‘socialist’ and ‘mainstream protestant’ can possibly fit together, except as either a con-job or result of force of physical threat.

      • Richard S Courtney


        You assert:
        “I find it odd that ‘socialist’ and ‘mainstream protestant’ can possibly fit together, except as either a con-job or result of force of physical threat.”

        Say what!?
        I am one of the very many socialists who are mainstream protestant. In my case I am a Methodist.

        In fact a group of Methodist lay preachers are honoured as being the very first socialists (Google for Tolpuddle Martyrs). And socialists from around the world parade in the village of Tolpuddle each year in honour of their memory.

        Marx described socialism long, long after Methodists had invented it.


      • Are you suggesting that Methodist preachers invented using the pulpit to push crazy politics?
        I would suggest that misusing the pulpit is a long practiced problem, stretching back centuries and crossing many religious frontiers.

      • Hunter, European socialism is far from “crazy politics.” What we call liberals or democrats in the USA are more properly called socialists in Europe. Many mainstream political parties include the term in their name. (Richard taught me this by the way.)

      • > What we call liberals or democrats in the USA are more properly called socialists in Europe.

        I wouldn’t call American liberals or democrats “socialists”. Most Americans are far to the right (if one insists on using a 1-D scale) to most Europeans. Look at the furore over Obamacare – most Europeans look askance at the lack of genuine state-provided health care in this country.

      • David,
        I was making (and probably failing) to make a more subtle point.

      • The body counts of various forms of European socialism would beg to differ.

      • Richard S Courtney


        It is clear that you have no idea what socialism is. I again suggest that you research Tolpuddle Martyrs and follow the development of socialism from that.


      • Actually, it began with the French revolution. Socialism is a governmental beast, not a religious one. It has to do with the rule of men by men, not men by God.

      • Jim,

        here is the Catholic Churches view:


        they point to Babeuf in 1794. Would seem to support your view.

      • Richard S Courtney


        Socialism is no more a “government beast” than any other philosophy. Most socialists are not in governments and have no desire to be.


      • If you are denying the existence of socialist governments, that is the most bizarre thing I have ever heard anyone say.

      • Richard S Courtney


        I did not deny the existence of socialist governments.

        If you need to distort what I said then I can only assume that you are not able to refute what I said.


      • There is less originality in Marx than many realize. It is the addaptation of ‘Christian Charity’ into the Communist method that Marx gets credit for. Today, as in the 19th Century, communists and their kissing cousins the anarchists only use ‘Charity’ as a means of gaining control. Much as they use Worldwide Global Warming and Bad, Bad Global Climate Change as a podium for gaining worldwide control. They ‘use’ people and they ‘use’ other people’s wants and fears to gain control. They very bad people!

      • Richard S Courtney


        Yes! Well said.


      • Hunter that may be because you are American and Louise is in Britain.

        One thing that has not been discussed here is the profound difference between the USA and the rest of the anglosphere in confessional matters. Far, far more Americans regularly worship than, say Brits or Australians. Far fewer describe themselves as agnostic or atheist. Dr Banshee’s analysis of the mindset of those with whom he disagrees is remarkable to non-Americans for its casual assumption that they will be believers, of some stripe or another, in God, and that their belief (however misguided) will necessarily inform their appraisal of the science. That’s sloppy, insulting thinking by any standards. But ignoring the secular mind as he does is the sort of mistake which no faith-inspired warmist outside the USA, however zealous and pharisaically convinced of his own virtue, would make.

        The English Enlightenment came on the heels of a century and a half of inter-confessional bloodshed and civil war, and was in part an exhausted retreat to the peace and quiet of the collective cerebellum. The latinisation of the vocabulary, and the elaboration of abstract and often circumlocutory forms of expression reveal a deep-seated fear of frank, unadorned controversy, especially about matters of faith. In officers’ messes of the British armed forces the discussion of “politics and religion” are explicitly forbidden, and a similar convention applies informally elsewhere in society. Australia, New Zealand and Canada were creatures of this mindset. The USA, I would argue, was not, and has retained, in essence, the frank, overt Elizabethan mindset of its early settlers, along with a far greater extent of faith than the remainder of the anglosphere.

        Having discovered that life could be better if they stopped bothering each other with their faith, the adherents of the “mainstream” Protestant denominations discovered in far greater numbers than their transatlantic counterparts that they seemed to be able to get along OK without any faith at all. The Church of England church, which as the “established” church of “The United Kingdom” has no direct counterpart in the USA, has attempted in recent years to stem the thinning of its ranks by trying to be more “relevant”, and generally cool, to the extent where it seems sometimes that a belief in God Himself is far from mandatory, while a whole raft of attitudes imported from the soft Left are “de rigeur”.

        Whether this will work or not, it has led to the situation where Anglicans in Texas are likely to have more in common, confessionally, with those in Lagos than in London.

        I hope this helps explain why an English “mainstream protestant” cleric can also be a “socialist”.

      • Bonafide Anti-Climate Conservative

        Outstanding comment, Tom. This historical perspective is quite valuable.

      • I’d add that since creationism is a vanishingly small faith in UK (in 50+ years I have never met one or heard such belief discussed), it is entirely counter-productive of the Alarmists to decry genuine questions or criticisms as ‘creationist memes’ to a British audience.

        It merely reinforces the idea – increasingly firmly held by the majority here – that the Alarmists have really lost touch with objective reality.

      • agreed – whenever I see this climate sceptic/creationist coupling touted by Believers I think, huh?

        On the other hand if one were, rather naughtily, to syllogise:

        creationism//millenarian, messianic fantasism//climate-catastrophism

        – one might be on firmer psychological ground.

    • The Pilgrims tried Socialism when they first landed and almost died. They tried individual ownership and responsibility and it worked for quite a while, but, we have forgotten that first year lesson!! The English never had that stark lesson to be reminded of or had forgotten it even earlier.

      • True when everything is considered 300+ years later, at the time it was a “solution” to a “problem” of great proportion to those involved. We tend to put little things in big holes as time goes by.

  41. Prof Curry and Colleagues,
    As a European centre left atheist scientist engineer with a career in measurement, analysis and modelling in both environmental and energy sectors I can recognise the rhetorical tricks of the trade used by both religious believers and social scientists. In recent years both climate scientists and economists have allowed their respective trades to be dominated by calls to a higher authority, shroud waving and accusations of heresy.
    Anthropogenic climate enquiry is the most difficult high stakes signal to noise separation challenge imaginable and all those who either pretend otherwise or who seek to gain advantage by selecting individual events or medium term trends to support their own particular agenda immediately remove themselves from the serious discourse currently taking place amongst the real thought leaders in society.
    Proper science is about data integrity, transparency and reproducibility and a culture of inviting criticism (technically called falsification). I’m afraid there appears to be a strong philosophical affinity between mainstream climate science and mainstream religious practice. This is not what I understand to be science. When my technical enquiry is met with accusations of being a selfish creationist sociopath, damage is done in so many different ways.
    The credit crunch revealed the lack of regulation and fragility of the financial markets. I fear the next few years will see a comparable event in the domain of climate change science and policy. As the future unfolds let’s try to be driven by real science and not science dressed up in ideological clothes.
    Seasonal greetings from a very cold UK.

  42. Central to any religion is a system of ethics. We have the 10 commandments, and exhortations to love one’s neighbor, to perform acts of charity, to turn the other cheek, etc. That is, it is about how to relate to others. In extreme environmentalism, everything is mediated by one’s acts toward nature. You are not supposed to harm animals or cut trees. If to protect a fish you put farmers out of work (Imperial Valley, CA), that is ok. So relations with nature take precedence, and there is actually no ethic about how to treat others. If religious individuals find this less than satisfying, and maybe empty, I think they have good reason.

  43. After reading Dr. Gushee’s web site, I wonder why anyone interested in understanding how conservatives think would turn towards a self-described leftist social activist?
    Would I turn towards someone from the Creation Science Network to understand how evolutionary biologists think?

  44. Am I the only one to notice that trading verses from the Iipcc (eg WG2 AR3 para 22) looks very like trading verses from the bible (eg Romans I 1-22).

    When true believers start quoting holy writ as evidence it’s time for rationalists to withdraw gracefully until reality breaks back in.

    • Withdraw from participating in the discussion or close your mind to the stated positions?

      This thread is about seeking to understand the mindset – worldview of those whose rationalism is underpinned by a faith-based first principle.

      “I have experienced God. That’s an ‘eyewitness’ account. No further proof is needed. … Now–God says ‘this’ about ‘that’.”

      People who approach decision making from this mindset are clearly not an insignificant minority. The hope is that climate scientists can learn to effectively engage them.

      • Nullius in Verba

        But it seems to be trying to do so from the outside, by asking somebody who isn’t a member of the group in question.

        If you want to know why a conservative evangelical Christian is sceptical, why not ask someone like Roy Spencer for a guest article? (I’m not even sure if Roy is a conservative or an evangelical, but you know what I mean.) Why ask someone who is apparently neither conservative nor a sceptic for an understanding of their reasons?

        As many have noted, the explanation offered does not appear to be very accurate – many are sceptical for overtly scientific, not religious or political reasons.

        However, there is a good reason if you see it as an exploration of the misunderstandings between left and right, believers and sceptics, and how each misunderstands the other. As a way of understanding conservative evangelical sceptics, it’s not much use. As a way of understanding why AGW believers have such difficulty communicating with conservative evangelical sceptics, it could well give an interesting insight. How did Dr Gushee come by his list of seven explanations? Did none of those he talked to ever mention the problems they saw with the scientific evidence, as Willis Eschenbach explained?

      • Is there no-one participating in this blog capable of representing the Christian right, fundamentalist, and/or evangelical position? Or none willing to speak up?

        I assume (or hope) there is.

      • Perhaps many have been, and perhaps conservative religious people do not see the problem of global climate catastrophe as one that requires a faith response, but is easily dealt with by use of critical thinking skills.
        I would probably meet your definition of a member of the ‘christian right’, for instance.
        Certainly I would Dr. Gushee’s: White, politically conservative, belief in God and disagreeing with Dr. Gushee and his political activism veneered with religious language.

      • A clear answer, yet very limited in scope. If I may paraphrase: “Predicted climate catastrophe scenarios are not supported by sufficient evidence. Critical thinking is adequate to arrive at that conclusion.”

        But … how many people respond to problems using critical thinking skills? How many prefer faith-based decision making instead? These are the folk this thread is trying to understand.

        And why limit the discussion to ‘catastrophic’ climate change? The intent of this thread is to explore a broader landscape of motivations for distrusting climate science. How does faith-based decision making lead to this distrust (or does it)?

      • Critical thinking seems to be a code term for left-wing thinking. I may be wrong about that, but typically liberals use this term. I prefer skeptical thinking instead.

      • Dr. W,
        I cannot aznswer that for anyone but me.
        I do not look to anything close to a literalist interpretation of the Bible to arrive at my views on science issues.
        From the Creation stories in Genesis to the first apocalyptic myth- Noah’s Ark- to the last barn nurner apocalypse, I think the Bible has a great deal to say about spiritual values and very little to say about how the universe came to be in a scientific sense, how we came to be biologically, or how the world will end physically.
        So I would ask this of people who are committed to the climate calmity that modern climate science presents:
        How much faith is applied to the acceptance of the idea human influence by way of CO2 is going to cause a climate catastrophe on Earth?
        From Craven to Gushee, to Hansen’s word choice, to Romm’s fire and brimstone it is clear to me the answer is ‘a lot.’

      • Being reared in the Bible Belt, I’ve known many fundamentalists. Unfortunately, even the fundamentalists vary in regards to AGW and the green movement. Some argue that g_d gave us the earth to do with as we please or need. Some argue that we are appointed caretakers of the earth and therefore must protect the environment. Personally, I think the whole issue is largely a red herring. The implication is that fundamentalists are red necked, in-bred morons for their unwillingness to accept evolution. As a lot of the blog data shows, sceptics vary widely amongst these labels; just look at some of the hosts – Pielke, Milloy, Watts, etc. – in general they are well educated people that just don’t buy into the warming mindset.
        I think there is a division among sceptics between those who distrust the science simply because it disrupts their world view and those who suspect the science because they aren’t satisfied that the field has not been thoroughly investigated. I suspect there is also a divide between the AGW proponents; I see Al Gore’s camp more as a political and philosophy driven school, while others actually focus on the science and math. And I believe there are those on both sides just looking to benefit from the issue. And thus I agree with vieras post – labels are just not productive.

      • As climate scientists have shown almost no ability to engage with anyone other than those already committed to their cause, I fear your hope is forlorn.

      • To how many climate scientists have you spoken? Met face-to-face?

      • It would be interesting for the true believers here to answer the same.
        For me, I have met four.
        And you?

      • Dozens.

      • Gavin Schmidt. John Houghton.

        A lot of guys whose names I didn’t catch at the Guardian’s climategate meeting in London last summer but including George Monbiot and Bob Watson (ex Chairman of the IPCC).

        But the crowning glory was when James Hansen called me a racist and a fascist denier on ‘Komment macht Frei’ for wanting to take a plane to see my elderly Mum at Christmas last year.

      • I don’t understand the reference to “‘Komment macht Frei’”. Care to be more specific?

        Given your history of smearing folks without proof or evidence, your claim that Hansen called you a “racist and fascist denier” is extremely doubtful.

      • Derecho64 | December 4, 2010 at 8:24 pm | Reply

        Curry’s blog is just flypaper to blogosphere-resident deniers. Its value is in the same range as WFTWT

        When did you see the light?

      • I skimmed through here right after Judy set it up. Nothing in my view has changed.

      • Ahhh,

        you are trapped by the flypaper!!


      • ‘Komment macht Frei’ is the sardonic way that sceptics refer to the comment blog laughingly entitled ‘Comment is Free’ at the Guardian newspaper. KmF (or CiF) pretends to be a ‘free’ forum but like in RC, contributions that are not suitable warmist/alarmist (since this is the grauniad’s avowed editorial stance) get ‘disappeared’ after publication without notice. If you transgress twice you are put on pre-moderation without charge, but after that your access isremoved without notice or reason.

        Quite a few who post here have certainly received such sanction. I will allow them to identify themselves, but you can read their stories at Bishop Hill.

        The term ‘Komment macht Frei’ is a very sardonic reference to the motto inscribed above the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz ‘Arbeit macht Frei’, and was first poplularised by the fine and witty commentator James Delingpole who has a large following at the Daily Telegraph. Interested readers can find his blog at


        I commend his wisdom to anyone with an interest in ‘global climate disruption’.

        Since I am banned from KmF I cannot easily check whether my exchange with Hansen is still there, but he had ranted on about how evil it was to want to travel. I blogged that I wanted to use a plane to see my Mum at Christmas and could see no harm in it. His retort was that I must be a climate change denier and that since members of the third world would be the first to die of climate change while I in my comfortable western lifestyle would be temporarily insulated from the effects – I was by taking a plane effectively committing an act of racism. He concluded by calling me a fascist.

        Not a very nice guy. I could use an even worse word, but I know you are very sensitive on such points.

      • And you know that the comment on some blog was from Hansen himself? How?

        The story sounds a little too good to be true.

      • It was in reply to a post he had written.

      • Do you have a URL?

      • Banned.

      • I had a snowball fight with one the other day, does that count ;)

        Actually a very good friend, who currently advices the DECC, and an IPCC editor, sledging and snowball fight with our children in 3-6 inches of ‘global warming, at some point when does 3, 4, 5 harsher winters become a trend.. cold records broen 2 years in a row.

  45. This article makes me cringe. One of the big problems in climate change discussions is labeling. “You’re a denier because you’re religious or conservative – so I don’t have to listen to the stupid things you say.” I’m afraid, that this just adds ammunition to those who want to put people in boxes.

    “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

    • Spot on!

    • Unfortunately, people live in boxes; and this is the silver lining I personnally hope you see in all this, people are people. They are many, different, occupy caves with likeminded fellows (sometimes), have a zillion issues that they have to deal with, have a limited amount of legal tender at their disposal, have bills and wants and needs and desires and crazy little ideas about what makes “the good life”, and -if possible- they associate with people who think the way they do whenever they can. This is the BIG issue. People.

      One tiny little subset is a group of them called “conservative religious” types. I don’t think they have been very well defined or characterized by Dr. David Gushee in his comments. We haven’t really scratched the surface of this lot and they are but a tiny fraction. They, as all of us, are very complicated and don’t fit in a single size and shape of peg hole. It is easier to talk about the miriad things that make ALL of us unique than to define the demensions of a single cloud (of humans) in the sky (so to speak) at any given moment.

      What’s one of the things more complicated than the weather? People.

  46. Michael Larkin

    I was brought up RC, but long ago lapsed because, IMO, religion often isn’t very spiritual. However, regardless of whether Jesus existed, or the New Testament is literally true (which isn’t that important to me), I hold one essential Christian message very dear: develop the capacity to love. It’s a difficult, but tremendously exciting, challenge.

    Gerard Manley Hopkins (Jesuit priest and poet) wrote a magnificent sonnet (“As Kingfishers catch fire”), steeped in the vibrancy of this message. I’ve learnt it by heart and often recite it to myself to refresh that vibrancy. It has a panentheistic colouration shared by other spiritual traditions – perhaps especially Islamic Sufism. Rumi, a very popular Sufi Poet in the West, is another who can connect with and awaken/improve our underdeveloped capacity for unconditional love: in light of the realisation that, all things being infused by the same One Source Of All, what’s not to love?

    “Religion” isn’t, I think, always a proper container for man’s spiritual needs and aspirations. Religious people may be spiritual, but is that despite rather than because of their faith? To me, spirituality is the sincere search for truth. An atheist scientist who sincerely seeks for truth in creation is in my book far more spiritual than a non-scientist theist who practises religion for ulterior motives: salvation, nirvana, whatever.

    It is spiritual to do something for its own sake, rigorously seeking truth, not reward, and that’s done ubiquitously: in parenting, craftsmanship, medicine, education, science, music, art, religion – many things. But equally ubiquitously, ulterior motives prevail and predominate. Forget the mistaken identification of “spirituality” exclusively with religion. I believe those who cultivate the skill of doing-for-its-own-sake in one area are more likely to apply it in others, and are more likely to have developed some degree of capacity to love that can be applied universally.

    IMO, Dr. Gushee has illustrated that religion isn’t primarily a question of spirituality/truth seeking. Not all adherents of various denominations are solely focussed on truth for its own sake, but on “truth” insofar as it agrees with or promotes the “Christian” desire for salvation; but I’d say “salvation” is the daughter, and not the mother, of truth. Some scientists are genuine truth-seekers (and hence spiritual in their practice), and some aren’t. When they aren’t, they may be perceived as dogmatists, and their practice disparagingly termed “religious”.

    This implies that religion has some special claim to insincerity. Not at all: insincerity applies universally. It is PC to use religion as a scapegoat, but the same internal structure can be found in any human collective – science, government, education, culture, you name it. The real divide is between what is spiritual, therefore conducive to truth-seeking, and what is non-spiritual and inimical to it. Rather than “spiritual/non-spiritual”, one may prefer truth/lies, humility/hubris, principled/unprincipled, or whatever. No matter; I think the main point is, the “truth/religion” antithesis is false.

    Hubris, etc. infect the climate debate on both sides, though I have to remark that the pro-AGW side created the issue, has long enjoyed the support of important allies, and bears the brunt of the responsibility to be scrupulous; a responsibility it has failed to discharge on quite a number of occasions, through action or inaction.

    Dr. Gushee seems like a sincere enough fellow, but I wonder if, perhaps out of naive trust in “experts”, he has adequately examined the science, and whether he should be all that surprised by the rapid materialisation of opposition. The tendency for some “respectable” authority to be accepted uncritically in one realm plays rather easily into the same tendency in another.

    Moreover, I think it’s a mistake to think of one side as being more conservative than the other. One characteristic of conservatism, I’d say, is the call to authority, be that scripture or scientific consensus. Spirituality (truth-seeking if you prefer) involves the seeking of individual objectivity, not collective subjectivity. In that sense, spirituality is scientific, and non-spirituality, anti-scientific.

  47. Dr. Gushee – How to you feel about extra starvation of people due to the push to use biofuels?

  48. Have you ever gone to the store, and noticed that when “scanners” make a mistake on price, the mistake is always in the store’s favor? Can this simply be chance? The errors in the IPCC follow the same pattern, which suggests they are not simply a matter of chance.

    One sided errors indicate a pattern of fraud. It need not be a case by case basis. For example, banks check for errors that would go against the bank, but to minimize costs don’t check for errors that go against the customer. As a result, most errors are biased against the customer, to the advantage of the banks. This isn’t “purposeful” fraud, but the banks know it makes them money that is not rightfully theirs. It is “moral” fraud. Allowed by law, but wrong in the absolute sense of right and wrong.

  49. From the Q and A it appears that Dr. Gushee practices strawman creationism and he is the Creator.

  50. I suggest some additions to Dr. Gushee’s list of ingredients for evangelical climate skepticism:

    8) Facts
    9) Logic
    10) Thermodynamic Physics
    11) Common sense

  51. The Catholic Church learned from the persecution of Galileo that orthodoxy coupled with the lack of intellectual curiosity can be counterproductive. Since then the Church has recognized that that beliefs about the origins of the universe and the existence of a divine creator can co-exist with research and sound science. Recently the Pope made this position clear in public pronouncements concerning the relationship between religion and science.
    Fundamentalism, that is belief systems based upon literal interpretations of scriptures and other religious writings, usually results in intolerance and orthodoxy. When applied to the origins of the universe and existence of God, conflicts between religion and science can occur. I am aware of many first rate scientists that are highly religious without compromising their ability to practice science without limitations.
    I fail to understand how a person’s political views and choice of political parties has any relevance to dealing with either science or religion. When these matters are intermingled, confusion is inevitable. Paraphrasing Jesus, “Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s,” religious coexistence should be applied to relationships with science as well as governance.

  52. I agree with Lenihan: formalized religion and science can and should be kept separate. We humans are very adept at compartmentalizing our thoughts and actions and although there are risks in that activity, it is essential for the doing of good science. It probably also is helpful to good government but I do not want to comment on that.

  53. “Understanding conservative religious resistance to climate science” is as difficult and productive as understanding liberal atheists support for climate science. It’s a waste of time. But, the way Congress and NAS have been passing out money, it will probably get a nice 6 or 7 figure grant for some progressive nobody to study for the next 4 years.

  54. I might point out that the Bible actively teaches scepticism, with verses like 1 Thes 5:21a “Test everything.”. Then there are the verses about wolves in sheeps’ clothing. When you are already trained to be sceptical of what people in authority are saying, and of their potential wolfish agendas, and are inclined to check out the facts, suddenly you read the data and find remarkably little support in it for the CAGW arguments. I think therefore some of the evangelical scepticism is actually due to the poor foundation of alarmist climate science at the data level, not necessarily an inherent bias against it.

  55. Yes, I am a self confessed conservative evangelical, and I always have problems finding myself within most descriptions of evangelicals.

    It is not without humor that I frequently find myself too liberal for the conservatives, and too fundamentalist for the liberals. Such is life.

    I think that many Christians love baby pandas and polar bears, but prioritize human need above them.

    Alleviation of human needs in the third world trumps the crass lifestyles of the Al Gores of this world.

    Christians are in the truth business, and we don’t swallow everything that comes down the pike without careful evaluation.

    Ted Cooper

  56. Willis Eschenbach

    Chris Colose | December 21, 2010 at 4:11 am | Reply

    This is the typical WUWT-esque conspiracy drivel you’d expect, and it’s pure delusion. How do you actually get by in daily activities as paranoid as you are? It’s also very ironic in the face that it’s actually people like you (and the WUWT ilk) who lead people astray by promoting pseudo-science and intentionally conveying wrong information.

    Do you people actually understand the vast collobration and setup that would need to exist between graduate students (even upper-level undergrads), scientists of hundreds of independent groups/universities, across a broad range of disciplines, etc to accomplish the sort of notorious acts you are suggesting? By “climate scientists” it’s a community of physicists, climatologists, geologists, oceanographers, carbon cycle specialists, paleoclimate experts, etc who are in on this “lie” and are all producing garbage.

    Chris, you seem to be laboring under the illusion that I said there was a conspiracy. There isn’t. The climate science crash is impelled by the usual human motives, a drive for power, a need for recognition, a wish to avoid admitting one’s mistakes, a desire to get big rewards without actually doing the hard work … plebian human stuff, no grand conspiracy.

    However, please go on with your conspiracy fantasies … it only hurts your side to persist in not seeing what the problem is. Actually, there was a conspiracy, but a small one, by Mike Mann, Phil Jones, and the unindicted co-conspirators, but generally, it’s just guys working on their own.

    However, you wouldn’t know about that quite interesting conspiracy. As you say:

    I don’t find it particularly enlightening to go through the details of what the climategate emails actually meant and the nature of the investigations.

    That goes a ways to explaining your lack of understanding of the situation, you don’t “find it enlightening” to see how things went bad. Hey, you want to avert your eyes, I don’t blame you, it was very ugly.

    But my question is, what in your state of voluntary ignorance qualifies you to talk about you are voluntarily ignorant of?

    Y’know how after an airline crash there’s an investigation so they can avoid crashing the same way next time? How would we avoid crashes if everyone did what you prefer — avert your eyes, pretend it never happened … and then having ignored it, then go on to lecture pilots on proper procedure and laugh at people who think there might be a problem. Yeah, Chris, that’s worked so well to date …

    You might consider that in the light of Climategate … and in the meantime, since by your own admission you obviously haven’t been following the story, you might cut back on the posting … just saying …

  57. Willis Eschenbach

    David Wojick | December 21, 2010 at 8:55 am | Reply

    Is Dr. Gushee going to grace us (sorry for the pun) with his replies?

    You know the “Gore Effect”, wherever Gore goes the hot weather goes away? I thing something very similar, but in reverse, has happened with Dr. Gushee … it got hot, and he went away.

    Judith, you need to find someone who is willing to stay around and answer questions. I know your intentions are to solve this issue of the lost trust in climate science, and I support you in that. However, bringing in people who give us their revealed wisdom and then run for the hills only makes things worse.

    Because if people didn’t trust climate science before, seeing Andrew Lacis disappear rather than answer some softball questions won’t help things, whether he is right or wrong.

    People think that they were conned, fooled by climate scientists. Then Dr. Lacis shows up, tells us all how wrong we are, and leaves without answering the interesting scientific questions posed to him … and you and Chris Colose seem to be in mystery and advancing lots of theories about what is a simple question — why don’t people trust climate scientists?

    Well, inter lots and lots of alia, it is because from the start many of the scientists simply haven’t answered and won’t answer scientific questions. RealClimate and Tamino’s site are among the worst offenders, they won’t entertain any serious questioning of their brilliant insights, but there’s lots of others. At least Gavin Schmidt will answer an occasional softball question (but nothing actually hard or interesting), but Gore takes no questions at all.

    So Dr. Lacis or Dr. Gushee show up on your site, Judith. and just like far too many of the mainstream climate scientists, they won’t answer questions either. What do you think people will conclude from that (rightly or wrongly)? Because I think they will conclude that Dr. Lacis and Dr. Gushee are blowing smoke. And I can hardly blame them.

    Which is why this thread is so unintentionally hilarious. It is supposed to be about Dr. Gushee’s insights on why people don’t believe climate scientists. But it has turned out to be a practical demonstration by Dr. Gushee of why people don’t believe climate scientists …

    You’d think that by now climate scientists would have realized that if you want to be a scientific activist, there’s a price to pay. If you want to study the mating-habits of bat-nosed frogs, nobody cares if you answer questions or not.

    But when you want to enter the political arena, and you start claiming that your studies of bat-nosed frogs indicate that we need to spend trillions of dollars and restructure the world economy to protect those frogs, by God you better be willing to answer some questions about what used to be your private data and personal ideas. When you cross that line and start advocating spending the public’s money, the public is owed some explanation of your science, your logic, and your beliefs.

    And most people aren’t dumb. They know that if a guy shows up to tell you your taxes have to be raised so the money can be sent to a corrupt third-world bureaucracy* with the ostensible aim of saving the bat-nose frog, and then the guy won’t answer questions about his bat-science, he’s probably conning you. Maybe not, maybe something else … but when it happens over and over, folks get justifiably suspicious.

    Best to all,


    * This is the latest brilliant plan, out of Cancun, which has been described as “taxing the poorest in the rich countries to line the pockets of the richest in the poor countries”. Anyone who thinks the Cancun Plan is even remotely related to the environment doesn’t understand where the money will end up.

    For example, most of the “Clean Development Mechanism” carbon money so far, raised in countries where environmentalists will not allow a dam to be built under any circumstances, has gone to build dams in China. And unlike the Cancun giveaway, that CDM money has some strings attached (not very many and not very firmly, but there are some). Cancun money seems (although not all the details are settled) to have none. Gonna be parties in the Presidential palaces in plenty countries … but action on carbon? Not likely. Think new Mercedeses for the bureaucrats and more diamonds for the Vice-President’s mistress and Swiss bank accounts for anyone lucky enough to touch the money, you’ll be closer to the mark … that’s the results of the scientific activism taking the place of actual science.

    The field of climate science is short of a number of things, but irony is not among them.

    • I’ve held off on this thread, basing this on the adage of staying quiet if nothing useful can be said

      This is a peculiarly US-centric thread. For those of us (billions, actually) who do not live in the US and who are *not* superstitious, it’s almost incomprehensible – we simply cannot understand how anyone who has professed belief in the insanities at the core of religions (any of them) can have a scientifically oriented view of any climate-related issue

      No post in this thread has trod this hallowed ground. Judith C gave one reference link above, but bluntly my life is already full enough of real issues to bother delving into this in any detail, especially when purchasing the book is a prerequisite. I suppose though, that the thread served a purpose, much like attempting to translate an old Mayan script

      • Sometimes the most interesting part of the discussion is not the subject or the subject group but the generalizations applicable, in this case, to the whole of humanity. And I agree with you, this is like attempting to translate an old Mayan script. We are all different. And, we are all the same. The differences are actually less significant than those things which we have in common, be we Mayan, American Religious Conservatives (of a rather strange specific type), Europeans, or English, etc. The kicker is this, you said it yourself, “but bluntly my life is already full enough of real issues to bother delving into this in any detail”, and so say most of the planet, be they Mayan, American Religious Conservatives (of a rather strange specific type), Europeans, or English, etc.

    • You GO girl!!!

    • Gushee’s website seems to be using religion to veneer over a strong left wing policital agenda. In all of the skeptical websites I have gone to while in the blogosphere for over five years, I can on the fingers of one hand the time someone said “AGW is not happening because God said X”. Those people were ignored. Yet Gushee is claiming that God is telling him to be a CO2 activist and that is OK.
      Gushee is the one pushing religion and AGW apocalypticism in this, as are his cohorts. Not skeptics.
      He is the one using comfortable stereotypes to belittle skeptics.
      AGW fails with no help from the Bible. It fails the same way eugneics failed.
      Gushee’s chances of using religion to sell CO2 activism are about the same as he experienced using religion to sell unilateral US nuclear disarmament: zero.
      His notable absence in responding to the many serious questions and observations about his beliefs and work only underscores the impression he is giving to many.

  58. Yes, Willis is right. The post starts out from the usual idiotic position that if you are sceptical about AGW, you must be ‘resisting climate science’. No, you are not, you are fine with science, and even with climate science, you just think some hypotheses are not proven.

    It is a bit like thinking that the political opposition in a country is opposing Parliament or Congress. They are not. They just want to see another party in power.

    What this post and thread have shown me is how deep the irrationality goes. Such a relatively reasonable person as Ms Curry really cannot see that there is a distinction between climate science and particular climate scientific hypotheses. It all comes down to the same thing in the end, the common view on the part of the AGW lobby that informed good faith skepticism is simply impossible. So we have to look for non-rational motives to explain dissent.

    It is the same basic point of view that led to Soviet dissenters being shut up in mental hospitals. It was obvious that the Soviet system was leading to ever improving living standards and huge economic growth, so only mental illness could explain why people could not see it.

    What climate scientists need to do is start publishing the raw data and the code, and answering the obvious objections to the AGW hypothesis. The more they carry on with this idiotic nonsense about how dissenters are in some way opposed to science or climate science, the more they will paint themselves as non-scientists in the grip of some weird ideological or religious dogma.

  59. I started on wondering about climate science a while back when I started to be conscious of slogans like ‘the debate is over’, ‘the science is settled’, ‘AGW is an established fact’…and all that malarkey. And when these ideas started to have a strong influence on mainstream politics in UK.

    So I went about looking for the evidence to back up these claims. And everywhere I looked I just kept on finding lots of climatologists telling me that there was tons of evidence, but they just couldn’t quite lay their hands on it at the moment. But they knew it was there, even if they couldn’t actually remember exactly what it is. And most of them accused me of being a ‘Big Oil funded creationist anti-science denier’ or some other such bogeyman nonsense as another reason not to answer the question ‘what is the evidence?’

    I’m proud to say I got banned from CiF at the Grauniad for asking for such evidence and none of my questionning posts at RC survived the clunking fist of Gavin the Smiling Enforcer.

    All of which made me very very suspicious about the Emperor’s attire.

    If I went to a nuclear physicist and said ‘please show me the evidence that atoms are composed of electrons and a nucleus’, he would probably show me the results of Marsden’s and Rutherford’s experiment and be happy to discuss it’s implicaations.

    I would be very surprised if he instead suggested that I was only asking because I was ‘anti-science’, that I was funded by Big Coal to undermine nuclear energy and that since I wasn’t a nuclear physicist I was both too stupid and too unqualified to even ask the question, let alone to expect an answer. And that grubby individuals like me should wait until the consensus of nps has arrived at their view and then accept it without question, since it would be (by definition) infallible.

    If that were to occur, my BS meter would probably go to 11+.

    But here we see many of the ‘great and the good’ of climatology exhibiting exactly that behaviour. They come to the blog, give forth of their views, answer a couple of pat-a-cake questions, then retreat back into their little world because the followups are

    * ‘hostile’,
    * ‘been answered before on another blog somewhere’
    * ‘had been mentioned by WUWT – boo hiss!!’,
    * ‘posed by somebody without a PhD in Radiative Physics hence invalid’ or * ‘just regurgitating the Climategate nonsense, which I haven’t read and don’t intend to because I know it’s all just denier nonsense’

    And so I keep on asking the simple question. ‘Show me the evidence’. And the more I look, the further away it, and the Climatologists, seem to drift.

    Other posters make the valid point that if they all run away when the going gets tough, with varying levels of playground excuse, their credibility – never high and still plummeting takes yet another dent.

    Evidence is everything. As Judith is very well aware by her forays to congress, you have to make a case on something better than pal-review, consensus and assertion. And better than argument by qualification.

    You have to be able to persuade. And avoiding the hard questions by ignoring them does not do that.

    • What’s the evidence.

      I’ll give you a straightforward ‘forest not the trees’ answer that satisfies me as a climate scientist of 40+ years who was a pure AGW skeptic until about 2002.

      The ocean and atmosphere are warming fast, on average over a century of multiple massive human impacts. The rate of warming is unprecedented and reverses trends that suggest we should be having long term orbital parameter-induced cooling since the Holocene optimum. Occam’s Razor points to human impacts on land surface and CO2 as the simplest, most supportable physical mechanisms that could cause it.

      This is a ‘weight of the evidence’ argument, in which I, as a working climate scientist immersed in the field, have assimilated vast amounts of published evidence that is on the public record. Read it all, understand it all at the level that climate scientists do, and you will (if you are in the vast majority) come to the same conclusion.

      • I am sorry you BELIEVE without verification.

        Most science simply disagrees with your characterization of the warming.

      • If you call it a ‘belief’, then it is a belief supported by the weight of the evidence. To repeat, the verification is readily available in the public record of scientific discourse.

      • I’m sorry, I have been studying Climate Science for over 5 years now and I haven’t run across your purported verification in the Public Record. Are you trying to claim a SUBSET of the Public Record as your verification or are you claiming only IPCC approved documents as your verification??

      • Did I miss something?

        Where is the evidence that ‘the rate of warming is unprecedented’?

        And how does Occam’s razor point to ‘human impacts on the land surface? I’m not even sure that I understand what you are trying to say here. Human impact like ploughing?

        Your argument really comes down to ‘we can’t think of anything else other than O2. So the ‘evidence’ you propose is not a positive demonstration that your theory is right, but only a negative one. And the less convincing because of it’

        You also say

        ‘Read it all, understand it all at the level *that climate scientists do*, and you will (if you are in the vast majority) come to the same conclusion’ (my emphasis)

        Please explain what it is about the level of understanding that climate scientists have that is not accessible to those (like me – a physical chemist originally) trained in other scientific fields. I hear this ‘you have to be a climatologist to understand’ idea so often, but I never hear the substance of why that is asserted to be true. What especial insight do you bring? How is climatology more than just bits of physics and chemistry and statistics and meteorology and geology and a few other things stuck together and given a fancy name?

      • The rate of warming is unprecedented relative to the available natural forcing mechanisms and their concomitant rate of change.

        The fact that you confess that you do not understand the array of human impacts on the land surface and how they affect the energy balance at the land surface points to the answer to your later question about the role of one’s depth of knowledge in informing one’s conclusions.

        My argument boils down to ‘there is no natural physical mechanism that is well studied and understood that does a better job of explaining the observed trends.”

        The bits of physics and chemistry involved are myriad and nuanced. The longer you study them, the more you appreciate that, and the wiser your conclusions will be. Climate scientists are immersed in these details because we are paid to be. Were I to come into your field of expertise and venture my analysis, I’d do it humbly and with caveats that I’m not an ‘expert’.

      • “My argument boils down to ‘there is no natural physical mechanism that is well studied and understood that does a better job of explaining the observed trends.”

        Only in climate science would ignorance of the system you are examining be used as proof of a theory.

      • proof? I’m stating an opinion.

      • Indeed, and it is (if you’ll forgive me) a weak one if that is it’s basis.

      • Nullius in Verba

        Actually, that’s a very good statement.

        Everybody is entitled to their opinion, I don’t regard belief in AGW as a likely option as unreasonable (I consider it plausible, but not likely), and just on general scientific grounds, we need people who believe to improve sceptical arguments, just as we need sceptics to improve believers arguments.

        The only thing that annoys me is when people tell me it’s more than just their opinion, it’s the conclusions of The Scientific Consensus, and one would have to be some sort of irrational anti-science fringe nutter to doubt it.

        To have somebody willing to assert it as their “opinion” and to back it with their own personal reasons for believing is excellent. We shouldn’t criticise that.

      • Very well put, Labmunkey!!

        I have heard this statement, and variants of it (such as, “do you have a better explanation?”), that it shows me that few “climate scientists” tuly understand the scientific process.

        Human created CO2 as the cause of “global warming / climate change / climate disruption” is NOT the null hypothesis, yet the good Dr. trots it out as proof. Utterly amazing….

      • The null hypothesis is that humams have no influence on climate.

        That hypothesis has not been confirmed to date.

      • Bad assumption Dr. Wetzl. The null hypothesis is that CO2 has no effect. Few deniers I have read or talked to actually try to support the idea that Humans have absolutely no effect. There has been little work by the IPCC and associated groups on other than GHG’s so this simply does not make the cut.

        Making the null Human influence is to change what the IPCC and warmers have been hammering for decades. Why so much emphasis on controlling CO2 if it is just man’s influence generically. Roger Pielke Sr. is a perfect example of this. He actually claims CO2 has effect, just not the most important effect, yet, he is treated very poorly by the Religious warmists even though he has one of the most rational views on their side.

      • > There has been little work by the IPCC and associated groups on other than GHG’s so this simply does not make the cut.

        Really? Do you have any proof that the IPCC “and associated groups” have focused nearly solely on GHGs?

      • randomengineer

        Since the primary argument seems driven by radiative physics, he has a point. That is unless you have an alternate reason for so much concentration on radiative physics OTHER than GHGs.

      • I don’t get your point, randomengineer: “That is unless you have an alternate reason for so much concentration on radiative physics OTHER than GHGs.”

        kuhnkat’s original statement said “There has been little work by the IPCC and associated groups on other than GHG’s so this simply does not make the cut.”

        So climate scientists haven’t looked at past climate, solar variability, internal climate variability, land-use changes, natural forcings, etc.? That’s not true.

      • No problem Derech064. Please point me to the appropriate sections in the IPCC reports so I can waste some more time reading the “science” the IPCC has done that shows they believe other forcings are more important than CO2 and the mitigation schemes they proposed to deal with those other more imp0ortant than CO2 forcings.

        Yes it does become a semantics mine field doesn’t it??

        It is YOUR statement that implies I think they did NO research on those subjects. It is MY statement that they did not find other forcings more important than CO2 as one of my posts to Dr. Wetzl also suggests.

      • Here are the IPCC estimated forcings. Personally I think they missed it by a mile:


      • IVPO,

        thanks, but, they just prove my point. The error bars or variance or whatever you would like to call the uncertainty for the effects of the aerosol and clouds are very poor. What turns out to be very important items, clouds, are still being argued as to sign and magnitude. Dr. Spencer has some of the better work, but, it is not being accepted by the IPCC types. If they did they could close up shop and go home, which we know is not going to happen voluntarily.

      • “The null hypothesis is that CO2 has no effect.” That may be one null hypothesis – although I think it should correctly be stated “has no observable effect on climate” – but it isn’t the one at the heart of this issue. The null hypothesis is the ghostly twin of EVERY hypothesis, indeed of every hypothetical component of every theory.

      • Thank you Tom.

      • randomengineer

        That’s not the least bit true.

        It’s not exactly a revelation that 6 billion souls can’t but help to change the environment, which includes the climate to some degree.

        The null hypothesis is that whatever effect humans have, it isn’t catastrophic, that natural mechanisms are more powerful. The null hypothesis is anti-hubris (we just aren’t that awesome.)

      • Peter, you reveal here that you don’t even understand the concept of the null hypothesis. While that explains perfectly how you come to confuse opinion with science, it also means that you will never be able to have a productive conversation about climate, or any other branch of science, with people who do.

        Occasionally here, posters are advised to “stop digging”. That usually means that the poster’s argument has stopped being fun to demolish, and started to be slightly embarrassing. This is one of those moments.

      • Don’t bother Tom. He is Leafhopper and he lives in a different universe. Click on his name, see what I mean.

      • Tom, to fully understand the concept of null hypothesis, you must have an open mind. To fully formulate a null hypothesis, you must begin with an open mind. Writing null hypotheses after the fact (after data have been examined) is tricky and difficult, and the only useful new ones in the field of climate change are pretty subtle and detailed these days. The one I chose is one I presumed we came into at the dawn of the inquiry into this field. It’s not the only one that one could pose. The one about CO2 alone is also a valid one.

      • Null Hypothesis
        Open Mind
        Draining mind
        Empty mind

        “…the only useful new ones in the field of climate change are pretty subtle and detailed these days.”

        Which means they are pretty much useless for an honest evaluation. To argue this point you will need to provide actual examples we can discuss rather than your continuing arm waving.

      • “to fully understand the concept of null hypothesis, you must have an open mind”

        Peter, do try to stop condescending for a moment and stop impugning my mind. If your 40 years study is to start bearing fruit you really MUST come to a proper understanding of the null hypothesis. Why you think I am “writing null hypotheses after the fact” eludes me since I have written elsewhere that the null hypothesis is the “ghostly twin” of EVERY hypothesis. As such its “formulation” arises directly from the “alternative” hypothesis it attends. “Formulating” it is therefore no more “tricky and difficult” than formulating the alternative hypothesis – accomplish the latter, and you have the former.

        The null hypothesis cannot be “renewed”, as you and Bart Verheggen seem to think – it is eternal, immutable. If you continue to think of the null hypothesis as a separate logical construct to the alternative hypothesis, you will continue to mislead yourself and others.

        I don’t hold Wiki as an irreproachable source, but this

        “The null hypothesis typically proposes a GENERAL or DEFAULT position, such as that there is no relationship between two measured phenomena……… It is typically paired with a second hypothesis, the ALTERNATIVE hypothesis, which asserts a particular relationship between the phenomena.” (my caps)

        should assist you. Notice the logical priority given to the null hypothesis – as a climate “scientist” it will be new to you. In climate “science”, the null hypothesis has been put out to grass (as your own misunderstanding of it illustrates so well), and replaced by statistical probabilities – but it’s still there, and it’s time climate “science” reacquainted itself with it.

        Now starting, as the Scientific Method requires, insists, demands that we do, with the null hypothesis – that nothing out of the ordinary is happening to the climate – perhaps you would like to bend your 40 years study to the task of demonstrating otherwise, giving due regard, at every hypothetical step, to the null hypothesis?

      • Tom – I apologize if I appeared to be impugning you in particular. That was not my intent.

        It seems that we’re talking past one another. I *do hear you* when you complain about climate scientists abusing the scientific method. Computer modeling is as much about technology as it is experimentation. I’ve seen cases where model results cannot be reproduced because all the code tweaks were not carefully recorded.

        You lump me in with others apparently from your past dealings with climate scientists and then attribute to me things that I didn’t say and fail to assimilate what I did say. I entirely agree that the null hypothesis is immutable and sacrosanct, and have already said that.

        Your last paragraph above states the same generalized null hypothesis that I began with (Dec 22, 2:42PM) yet you state it as if I oppose it.

        I’ll repeat and elaborate: testing the null hypothesis that “nothing out of the ordinary is happening to climate” is the subject (broadly) of my 40 years of research. But a null hypothesis must be falsifiable if it is to be a valid one. So you need more specific metrics regarding what you mean by ‘ordinary’. My conclusion (always subject to revision in light of new results) is that this sacrosanct, untouchable null hypothesis *has not been confirmed*.

      • Dr. Wetzel says: “But a null hypothesis must be falsifiable if it is to be a valid one.”

        Say what???? THe null hypothesis is the default when you can’t prove the alternate hypotheses to be true. At least that is my understanding. So it doesn’t HAVE to be falsifiable.

      • Let me elaborate. If a hypothesis is not falsifiable, it is not amenable to scientific inquiry.

        It can, of course, still be the subject of debate.

      • Arguing the Null Hypothesis is pointless when the IPCC Climate Scientists decided to game the system by setting up a STRAWMAN with the Hockey Sticks. Why did they fight for this LIE so long even when we could see it overturned generations of Swell founded Science?? Because it was the Null Hypothesis that helped PROVE AGW!!!

        Now, would you like to present what you consider the current Null Hypothesis for discussion?

      • Wrong. A null hypothesis (H0) can NEVER be “confirmed”.
        I know it’s confusing but try hard to follow along:
        You can only get results which
        a) are inconsistent with the null hypothesis at some confidence level (about 5 sigma is preferred), or
        b) fail to be inconsistent with H0.

        Option ‘b’ doesn’t confirm the null hypothesis, but until ‘a’ occurs, it remains the default. H0 can never be confirmed, and does not need to be. That’s why it’s the “null”.


      • Brian,

        A null Hypothesis would be something like :

        The climate does not vary without human input.


      • We know that the climate changes without “human input”. Doesn’t mean that the climate *cannot* change with “human input”.

        Look at it this way – we know people die of natural causes. Doesn’t mean that murder doesn’t exist.

      • Peter, the original remark of yours which drew my attention was:

        “That [null] hypothesis has not been confirmed to date.”

        You then wrote “Writing null hypotheses after the fact (after data have been examined) is tricky and difficult” – I have tried to point out that “writing null hypotheses” is no more tricky or difficult (which may be “very”, meaning that you have to be particularly clever to be a groundbreaking researcher) than writing the alternative hypotheses which they attend, and from which they are inseparable. You seem to have ignored this element of my criticism. I might have added that the time to write the null hypothesis is emphatically not “AFTER the data have been examined”, and that any hypothesis so written CONNOT be a true null hypothesis. You insist on treating “the null hypothesis” as a separate logical construct from its alternative twin. Again, I have to doubt your grasp of the concept.

        “If your experiment requires statistics, you should have thought of a better experiment”. Perhaps Ernest Rutherford was wrong in his implication that there is a deterministic experiment for every phenomenon, if you’re smart enough to devise it. Perhaps there really are things that can only be demonstrated statistically. But in climate science the null hypothesis has entirely been eclipsed by the welter of probabilistic casuistry. It has been said that when a journalist errs, it’s not a mistake – it’s just another story. Likewise, in climate science, however weak the evidence, it’s never the null hypothesis, just a different statistical presentation of a probability. The hypothesis itself must never be allowed to fail.

        And now to Christmas barbeque – a cool day, not at all like the “bottlers” of my youth.

      • Thank you Brian H, I was beginning to think I was a lone voice! You have expressed what I was trying to say far more succinctly.

        In climate science, the devil lies, not so much in the detail, but in the “sigma”!

      • kuhnkat | December 27, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
        A null Hypothesis would be something like
        The climate does not vary without human input.

        I think that would only be appropriate if you were checking a dataset that suggested it did. Since that particular H0 reduces to “The climate never varied before humans appeared”, it is long since disproven.

        The current studies are up against the H0 that says “Human CO2 input does not significantly affect climate,” or “Climate changes attributable to human CO2 input are not significantly distinguishable from normal variations.”

        Hence the focus on natural trends and their variance. (“Error bars” is somewhat misleading terminology here, IMO. Variance around a mean is not “error” if it is a response to identifiable sources–or is “natural”, in this case. Error applies to uncertainty due to measurement inaccuracy, and is in addition to variance.)

      • Thank you Brian. I might be starting to understand what you are trying to tell us now.

      • Brian, thank you for providing the object example I now realise I should have attempted earlier!

        You may not have read my earlier attempt to make this point, but it was provoked by comments by Peter Wetzel, which I thought betrayed a misunderstanding of the null hypothesis – one I found astonishing in one who has, as he says he has, studied climate science for 40 years. I attempted – without, so far as I can see, succeeding – to persuade him that the null hypothesis is the “ghostly twin” of any properly formed alternative hypothesis, and is therefore no harder to frame than the alternative hypothesis itself. Frame the one properly, and you have the other. Performing an “experiment” without a properly-formed null hypothesis, as he seems to imply, is surely a nonsense?

        Do you agree?

        To the extent that the null hypothesis is considered at all in climate “science”, it seems to be treated as a separate logical construct to the alternative hypothesis, and to have been effectively replaced by varying degrees of probability.

      • Yes, I don’t see any honest or competent discussion of it.

        The H0 must assert that your alternative has nothing to do with the case, and you attempt to prove that. The harder and more often you try but fail, the more you are entitled to doubt the H0. But the attempts must be honest and intelligently designed.

        I see no effort whatsoever among the CRU-Team to even frame or propose such tests, much less carry them out. In fact, they keep attempting to demand others do their work, and accept AGW as the H0, or, perversely, to try to disprove the true H0 thesis that AGW is false for them — when it’s their scientific duty to do that. Their own studies studiously avoid proper H0 expression, since that would involve a specific clear statement of CO2’s irrelevance or insignificance — and they just can’t bring themselves to do it! ;)

      • So, Brian H, what do you consider to be the “null hypothesis”?

      • D64 “So, Brian H, what do you consider to be the “null hypothesis”?”

        To what alternative hypothesis?

      • If your H0 is

        “Human CO2 input does not significantly affect climate”

        it stands to reason that the ~40% increase in CO2 concentration since ~1850 (caused by human input) does not significantly affect climate, correct?

      • Not until Ho is disconfirmed by observation.

      • You’re familiar with the obs, Tom?

      • “You’re familiar with the obs, Tom?”

        Unfortunately, no, since all that is available to me are data that have been subjected to widely-discredited “homogenisation”.

        That leaves me, until that state of affairs is rectified (as the NIWA demarche suggests it eventually will be) with my own personal observations of the last 6 decades, and these provide no cause for alarm.

      • I didn’t mean just temperatures, Tom. What do you make of Arctic sea ice loss, earlier flowering dates, earlier ice break-up on rivers and lakes dates, shifts of ecosystems, and so on? There are many observations of climate change, not just GHCN and USHCN.

        Of course, I assume you’re aware of those…

      • Since this is about “global warming”, I DID and do mean “just the temperatures”.

        “What do you make of Arctic sea ice loss, earlier flowering dates, earlier ice break-up on rivers and lakes dates, shifts of ecosystems, and so on?”

        Unless you are suggesting that these phenomena are in themselves dangerous, these are just the proxies so beloved of Believers. Their use is unavoidable where there is no instrumental record. Since we do have an instrumental record, albeit temporarily obscured by Believer homogenising, I prefer to wait for it to emerge in its corrected form, and consider it then, rather than jump to conclusions based on inexact proxies handled by Believers.

        So H0 stands. Whew. Aren’t you relieved?

      • Any pretense you had of any kind of objectivity or reason is long gone, Tom. mt had you nailed.

        Amazing how these various aspects of the climate system, and ecosystems, are reacting to warming without being told by CRU, isn’t it? I wonder how many flowering plants understand homogenisation and so forth. Care to offer an explanation, Tom?

      • whatever

      • I’m glad you stepped in for Brian H, Tom – and made a complete hash of it. Good job!

      • Derech064,

        Just wondering if you could give us the dates on the papers you must have gotten the data from to tell you that all those perfectly normal things were happening in such dramatic ways?? Must not have been recent data included.

        Like the 3 severe northern hemisphere winters with anomalous cold spots in the southern hemisphere?? Or did you miss the amazon river fish die off and the people dying in the Andes due to exceptional cold for their area? I know a lot of people who are loving the extended skiing seasons.

      • “Like the 3 severe northern hemisphere winters”

        Where? Not here – and I’m in the NH, assuredly.

      • 1. Re ‘unprecedented’, m’learned friend NiV has written eloquently on this topic already.

        2. ‘The fact that you confess that you do not understand the array of human impacts on the land surface and how they affect the energy balance at the land surface’

        I made no such confession. I said that I did not understand what your original phrase ‘human impacts at the land surface’ was meant to convey. You have clarified that to ‘the array of human impacts on the land surface and how they affect the energy balance at the land surface’

        So ploughing is definitely in as I asked? As is some other stuff. Which you haven’t specified.

        3. And thanks for the idea that the bits of physics and chemistry are ‘myriad and nuanced’. Great. But not a surprise. Very few things I’ve ever studied – though bits of physics approach it – are simple. Studying upper atmosphere chemistry 35 years ago was myriad and nuanced…but I could still describe the outline of it to an educated layman.

        All you are really saying is ‘there’s a lot of it and I’m a climate scientist so I know about these things..so you’ll just have to believe me’

        If this is the best fare on offer for your case then you fall far short of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, however ludicrously smug the IPCC’s probability estimates of it’s own contributors work may be.

      • PS I am making no claims to come into your field of expertise as ‘an expert’. I’m not. But I am a very experienced problem solver and evidence gatherer…which skills are ‘field independent’.

        And you don;t need a first class degree in radiative physics to follow the logical links in the chain of AGW reasoning and find that they are unsupported by much tangible evidence. With great respect to your 40 years of study, if the best that you can come up with is the argument you presented above I’d venture that there is tall a great deal of work to be done.

        If anyone could be arsed to pay for it at all. And given the thin gruel of results that has come of twenty five years of intensive study of the area at huge cost, if I was a politician I’d be inclined to scrap the whole exercise now as just a waste of time and money.

      • There’s a big difference between explaining climate science to an educated layman and sitting down before a blank screen and creating a detailed model of a process such that it works in every detail.

        I was an AGW skeptic until I could no longer say my doubt was reasonable.

      • I’m sure that you are right….there is indeed a big difference. And I am not expecting you to explain every detail of all the failed models people have constructed.

        But you have spent 40 years attempting to understand all this stuff, and yet somehow believe that it is adequate to wave aside all criticism with the generalisations that:

        ‘The bits of physics and chemistry involved are myriad and nuanced. The longer you study them, the more you appreciate that, and the wiser your conclusions will be’.

        I’m sure you’ll not be surprised if I interpret that to mean

        ‘I haven’t really got much real evidence of all this stuff at all, but if I patronise this bloke enough perhaps he’ll never notice and will go away. I’ll make out that only my subtlety of thought is capable of understanding it at all’

        And you probably still wonder why climatologists get a bad press among educated and experienced ‘laymen’ for their arrogance and lack of self-awareness.

      • Given that you won’t do much of anything besides write on blogs, you’re really not in a position to be critical when others tire of your ignorance.

      • Whatever.

      • … Or the grad school motto: If you can’t dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle them with bs.

      • Have any of you clicked on the good doctors name?

      • Oh… my.

      • Oh…yes

      • Darn, I prefer discussing things based on what is presented rather than assumptions created by personal stuff!! It does seem just a little odd. Related to Pachauri or just a like minded soul?

      • He needs a house…….apparantly.
        And that explains you, me, life, universe and everything in it. (baby universe that is)

        We’ve all been sucked in.

        Amazing who NASA employs. Your taxes at work.

      • Latimer’s gunna really be pi$$ed lol

      • In the Uk we used to have places like NASA. Now its all Care in the Community.

      • @baa humbug

        ‘Latimer’s gunna really be pi$$ed lol’

        Not at all. Nothing, but nothing, in the bizarre world of climatology surprises me any more. Perhaps being familiar with the works of Lewis Carroll – esp Alice Through the Looking Glass, and Douglas Adams (H2G2) have innured me to the sheer bonkersness of parts of the field. But I sued to think of them as surrel fantasies, not as things that supposedly hard-nosed governments shelled out zillions of quid to actively promote.

        But I did follow Dr Weitzel’s name to his other writings. And in the very strange piece about hearing voices in ‘Dalle’s House’, I found this:

        ‘Could this be an isolated ‘moment of insanity?’’

        Reading the piece as a whole, the answer is ‘no’. It is clearly not isolated.

      • “I was an AGW skeptic until I could no longer say my doubt was reasonable.”

        I THINK you are saying that you became convinced of the plausibility of some of the alledged evidence for AGW. You have my sympathy but that makes not one whit of difference to me as you have not detailed one piece of the evidence that you claim swayed you.

      • The evidence is ‘myriad and nuanced’.

        And you have to study it for a long time before you achieve sufficient intellectual karma to understand it.

        Such a state of heightened awareness is only available to those who have truly been inducted into the Profession. What seems like a pile of evidential junk to laymen reveals its true nature as miraculous proof only to the Enlightened.


      • Your all wasting your time, the man has imaginary friends.

      • And he seriously hears voices. See his writings on ‘Dalle’s House’.

      • I appreciate that you’ve taken the time to visit my blog and actually read it. Thank you.

        If each one of you who made comments on it is an individual, rather than a ‘pack’, then it’s amazing how similar your ‘ad hominem attack’ theme appears. It feels like a feeding frenzy. Wow!

        Be that as it may, I have diverse interests, and the spiritual aspects reflected on my web site may indeed have relevance to the discussion on this thread. I’m far from the only scientist who delves into spirituality as a broader underpinning for choosing one’s path in life. I appreciate the opportunity to share my experiences.

      • randomengineer

        Well, I for one thought it was pretty cool. Reminds me of the musings of Stephen Baxter in his Manifold series. There was one from Orson Scott Card called Pastwatch that makes corollary points. It’s always intreresting to see and read where people think the nexus of faith and reason resides. And yeah there’s a nexus.

        Best of luck to your endeavours.

      • Dunno about the others, but I called it as I saw it independent of anyone else.

      • “The rate of warming is unprecedented relative to the available natural forcing mechanisms and their concomitant rate of change.”

        So you admit there is not enough evidence to come to a reasonable conclusion. Thank you.

      • Dr. W,
        You do not know fer sure that we are warming at anythign other than a rate indistinguishable from past rates of warming.
        I wish you in academia would qualify your opinions more.

      • It has warmed as fast in the past, but with causes – big ice sheet changes, sudden draining of pro-glacial lakes, NADW shut down, etc. Since the Younger-Dryas there haven’t been such forcings, nor have there been century scale temperature changes such as those in the 20th. The natural forcing in the 20th is quiescent, but the temperature has trended relative to that forcing.

        (This is not the thread to discuss these things. Back to religion, faith based decision making, etc.)

      • Again, you are simply wrong. We have had faster delta T’s going into and out of the little ice age and similar periods.

      • global – century scale.

      • Please tell me what numbers you have that would give a CENTRUY SCALE extreme increase in temp for the last 100 or 150 years??? I thought you were shooting for the almost noticeable about 1980-2000 period. You put it on century scale and it averages to a joke!! It also takes it out of anthropogenic forcing range according to the IPCC. Or are you now claiming the IPCC is not your basis for facts?

      • Quote Dr. Wetzel: “The rate of warming is unprecedented relative to the available natural forcing mechanisms and their concomitant rate of change.”

        Linky link???

        This core tenant of CAGW theory is not consistent with our available historical evidence. I must consider the possibility that it is simply a misinterpretation of the data. Here are few examples of previous warming rates that met or exceeded our current (1980-2010) rate without being driven by manmade CO2:



      • Not Greenland, not Alps, not Glacier Bay – *global*, century scale.

      • Greenland, Alps, and Alaska are scattered examples of NH warming that has exceeded our current rate of NH warming in the past. There are others. None are without complications but NH ice studies have far fewer complications than dendro or sediment studies. Together they provide a concise picture of NH warming through multiple lines of evidence and present a very different picture of paleoclimate than Mann 08. A climate over the last 2000 years with much wider variation and rapid cycles of warming and cooling than previously presented.

        According to Michael Mann, 7 out of 15 of his NH paleo studies were found to suffer from anthropogenic contamination and should not be considered reliable for the purpose of temperature reconstruction. (see Mann 08 notes)

        Regarding our current warming trend, it is primarily limited to the NH as well. Arctic ice has been receding rapidly over the last 30 years but when combined with Antarctic ice, which has been increasing over the same period, total polar ice has been remarkably stable in both extent and mass balance. This is also inconsistent with the concept of “unprecedented warming”.

        Did you find those links which support “unprecedented warming” Dr. Wetzel?

      • OK Doc. You have been arm waving for the whole thread. It is time for you to produce some papers or SOMETHING so we know what you want us to refute. I wouldn’t want you to wave your arms too hard and fly into a tree or something!!

      • An old boss of mine used to loudly opine that errant employees were ‘away with the f…g fairies’.

        I wonder why her wise words spring to mind as the image of Dr Wetzel flying into a tree came to me.

      • Don’t knock it mate, I hear there’s not only money to be made from these scams, but lots of young, impressionable, spiritually needy ‘free loving’ girls to be had.

        Have you seen the images of Dalle? She’s a doll, no wonder the good doctor fantasises ’bout her. She whispers sweet nothings in his ear. (nudge nudge wink wink say no more)

      • ahhh .. you want me to give you something to refute? Not something for you to consider with open mind?

        Challenge – present a global temperature trace – the best you got – for the past 10,000 years. You pick it. I won’t feed it to you.

        Alongside present traces of forcings, natural and otherwise – global ones, for the sames 10,000 years. All of them.

        Then we’ll discuss. But on another thread – where it’s appropriate. Ask Dr. Curry to start such a thread if there isn’t one.

        The information is there, in the public domain, for you to retrieve and interpret, applying your native skills of reason and the wisdom of your life experience. Defaming an individual ad hominem is unskillful.

      • No Doc. You have made several claims. Back them up or admit you have NOTHING to contribute.

      • Just asking you to support your statement of “unprecedented warming” if you are able. I suspect the scientific support for this is on pretty thin ice. Unprecedented warming is a fundamental tenant of CAGW theory so we must first lay a clear foundation based on science don’t you think?

      • Nullius in Verba

        It’s very good to have an answer to that question “why do you believe”. It makes it a lot easier to engage in discussion, and I applaud it. Sometimes it’s quite hard to tell if even the believer knows themselves why they believe…

        “The ocean and atmosphere are warming fast, on average over a century of multiple massive human impacts.”

        “Massive human impacts” is the question to be determined here, so it can’t be part of the evidence. I know what you mean, though.

        ” The rate of warming is unprecedented…”

        How do you know? And over what time scale?

        Locally, we know that there have been bigger and faster warmings – the Central English temperature series through the ups and downs of the LIA for example – so you must mean the global average temperature. But we don’t have global records far enough back to tell. The only truly global data we have, even today, is from satellites after the 1970s. Thermometers are few and scattered, and have to be heavily interpolated, even to get back as far as 1850-1900. Paleoclimate has even worse sampling, is subject to dating and other errors and is heavily processed and inhomogeneous. It’s also badly corrupted with the inclusion of Bristlecones, Yamal, and other problematic series. What makes you think we have the resolution and accuracy to tell?

        “…and reverses trends that suggest we should be having long term orbital parameter-induced cooling since the Holocene optimum.”

        Orbital parameters are not the only long-term natural influence on climate. What about the ocean oscillations, or the Bond interstadials?

        “Occam’s Razor points to human impacts on land surface and CO2 as the simplest, most supportable physical mechanisms that could cause it.”

        Is this not a case of ‘argument from ignorance’? Because we cannot think of any other explanation, there can be no other explanation?

        And is not the simpler hypothesis that nothing is going on, it’s simply the normal background variation that we’ve experienced before, and it is simply that we have never before had the instruments to observe it on a global scale?

      • Glad you understood my weakly worded ‘massive human impacts’ comment. I meant massive human impacts that are the obvious ones–change on land cover, increase in CO2, etc.

        The rates of warming are unprecedented in an era of quiescent natural forcing (no big ice sheet changes, etc.)

        Yes I’m talking about long term global trends in temperature. And again, I’m taking the overall weight of the evidence with all its flaws and issues taken into consideration.

        Orbital parameters are fairly well understood. The other things you mention are less well constrained.

        There is an element of ‘argument from ignorance’ that is ancillary to my Occam’s Razor argument. I reserve the right to change my conclusion upon receipt of further evidence. We can think of other arguments, but we don’t have evidence to conclude that they work. I pick the most straightforward arguments that also work the best. The argument that it’s normal background processes (ones that are known and studied – not speculative ones) just doesn’t so as good a job as ‘normal background plus human impacts’.

      • Nullius in Verba

        Again, how do you know that “The rates of warming are unprecedented in an era of quiescent natural forcing (no big ice sheet changes, etc.)”

        If we can get faster warming locally, and we have insufficient data to say it wasn’t global, how do we know that one couldn’t have got a lot of these local changes at many places at the same time in the past? How far back are you going – the Holocene Optimum? The start of the LIA?

        I appreciate your point about Occam’s razor, and being open to change given further evidence. In cases where we are confident that we know most of the background processes, speculative processes are always a possibility but not so much of an issue. But where we don’t have such confidence, where we know there’s a lot going on we don’t understand, it’s a lot harder to reject them (even temporarily pending evidence) as possible explanations.

        What do you see to make you confident that there is nothing going on in climate able to cause such a change that we don’t know about?

      • Could one of you folks along this thread please satisfy my ignorance and explain how human activity warms the oceans?

        Warms to what depth? How? How much energy does it take to warm an ocean to that depth? What happens to that warmth? How long does it stay there?

        How does this human warming of oceans compare with warming via direct sunlight?

        Do you own a swimming pool?

      • I was under the impression that we can’t significantly warm them (directly) due to the mASSIVE heat-sink capacity. The raising of global temperatures (whether natural of man made) wil contribute to their temp (or at least slow the cooling) but direct heating is only possible by the sun. Or chuck norris.

        What you may be reffering to is the temperature maps that shows the coastal area’s to be significantly warmer than other areas of the oceans.

        This is a data manipulation artifact caused by first deleting the nearby bouy data and then smoothing/interpolating the land data across into the seas. It is an issue that has been raised more than once (and of course summarily dismissed out of hand).

        I have a bath, does that count?

      • lol no a bath tub not quite big enough.

        Human activity (releasing GHGs) is supposed to be warming the oceans. How does LWR penetrate the oceans other than the minisucle amount mixed into the upper layers through wave action.
        If there is a mechanism that I am not aware of, and there is a good chance of that, I’d like to know what that mechanism is, how much warming it causes and how that compares to warming by direct sunlight which penetrates down to 100mtrs.

      • Nullius in Verba

        It depends on whether you consider LW back radiation to be the basic mechanism of the greenhouse effect. As you know from the earlier threads, there are different opinions on that. With a different mechanism, there’s no reason the oceans shouldn’t warm too.

        But the oceans do make an interesting case study in greenhouse physics, because they illustrate the limiting case of extreme optical thickness. Water acts as an extremely dense “greenhouse liquid”, absorbs and re-emits longwave IR, which is re-absorbed again within a few microns throughout the bulk of the water. (Molecules don’t know they’re in the middle of a liquid when they decide whether to radiate or not.) At the same time, sunlight penetrates to a far greater depth, adding heat throughout the top 10-100 m or so. A classic version of the usual greenhouse picture – just imagine the CO2 concentration being increased until it is as dense as water…

        A relatively simple pure-radiative calculation shows that the oceans will start to boil within a few metres of the surface, due to this greenhouse effect. What keeps them cool? How is this cooling affected by the strength of the ‘greenhouse’?

        Helping people understand the physics is a big part of gaining acceptance.

      • I haven’t considered anything in posing my question. Further up the thread a statement was made that “The ocean and atmosphere are warming fast, on average over a century of multiple massive human impacts.”

        So I asked how human activity warms the oceans.

        With a different mechanism, there’s no reason the oceans shouldn’t warm too.

        Such as?

      • The effect of downwelling LWIR on the ocean is something we’ve been covering on my blog. The net flux has a cooling effect of ~66W/m^2 on the ocean. The ocean loses heat mostly via convection of one sort or another. As thermals, and mostly as the latent heat of evaporation. Since downwelling LWIR from the atmosphere can’t penetrate more than it’s own wavelength nto water, it mainly heats the surface molecules, which evaporate fairly promptly.

        This raises the question of just how the warmists propose the atmosphere is going to transfer heat through a cooling top 700m ino the deep ocean. This seems to be the current favourite proposal for the hiding place of Trenberth’s ‘missing heat’.

        The latest post on my blog by Peter Berenyi casts much doubt on this idea.

      • Tallbloke,
        Gas displacement of CO2 with the surface gases has NOT been looked at or acknowledged.
        The heavier density of CO2 on the surface would not transfer energy as efficiently as the normal surface gases as the Co2 is also absorbing some of the heat insted of allowing the heat to penitrate the oceans.
        This in turn is pushing up normal surface gases into cooler regions and generating more pressure out on the atmosphere.
        You should study rotation man! Current planetary rotation HAS a ceiling that will only allow so much bleed off of gases.

      • co2 is 0.039% of the atmosphere. Can’t see a 30% change in that moving much of the rest of the atmosphere around.

      • i can only assume that they assume that the assumed generally higher temps raises the temp of the ocean slightly.

        But that’s only an assumption

      • Nah sorry Labby, not possible. There just isn’t enough energy in the atmosphere to heat the oceans.

      • my feelings too, twas being flippant. apologies.

      • Dr. W,
        With all due respect I believe you are forming your conclusion based on group think and confirmation bias, probably influenced by a few people practicing ‘noble cause corruption’. Reading the same conclusions on the same faulty process over and over in vast amounts is a daunting task, but is not necessarily productive.

      • The advance of understanding in a field comes in small steps. What may seem like papers with ‘the same conclusions’ reach them by unique methods, or they wouldn’t be published.

        Let us not go down this ‘group think’ avenue. I do not know why you sound like so many of the other AGW skeptics here, but I respect your ability to reach independent conclusions on your own.

      • So you BELIEVE that the Hockey Stick papers were all independent and unique? There have been several approaches to the Radiative Physics of atmospheric sensitivity??

        Again, you are off base.

  60. “But … how many people respond to problems using critical thinking skills? How many prefer faith-based decision making instead? These are the folk this thread is trying to understand.”

    A good and fair question. Maybe this thread would be less adversarial if this question was applied to lay people on both sides of the debate.

    • Ditto!
      Proposed Subject: Why do people disagree?
      Hummmm…. maybe that’s a little TOOOOOOOO big.

  61. There appears to be a diametrically opposed perspective in terms of which science and religion purport to view the world that we live in. Basically, science takes the more objective bottom-up approach in seeking a quantitative explanation and understanding of how the world that we live in works and operates. Religion, on the other hand, takes the subjective top-down approach in defining the formalized dogma that it wants its followers to believe and accept as some sort of compellingly divine inspiration.

    Thus, religion is basically rooted in the realm of belief, and does not really need a foundation that is based on factual reality. Likewise, objectivity is not something that is encouraged in religious thinking. It is the priest and pastor who “knows” what is required for the flock (a telling terminology) to do and believe to be “saved”, in order to lead a happy and fulfilling life here on Earth, and beyond.

    Religion does not need to explicitly exclude science from its dogma. But, because the religious dogma was formulated so much earlier before objective scientific knowledge became available, there is much that has been incorporated into the religious dogma that is simply at variance with science. It is a fact of life that religion does not have any control or influence over how the real world operates. It therefore behooves religious leaders to understand what science is telling them, and to inform their flocks accordingly.

    Since religion does not particularly encourage objective individual inquiry, it is not surprising that there is engrained skepticism on the part of a large segment of the population against believing what science is saying about the nature of global warming and global climate change. If they heard the same information coming from their religious leaders, they would be much more understanding. That is why it is important for religious leaders like Dr. Gushee to present the science aspects of global climate change in terms that those inclined to view the world from a religious perspective will find more readily understandable.

    My own point of view is that everyone has the guaranteed Constitutional right to believe whatever it is that they choose to believe (and whatever they may choose to believe, does not have to have any basis whatsoever in factual reality). So, if someone states that they believe that the Earth is flat, or that global warming is a hoax, that is fine by me. They are deluding no one else but themselves. If however they were to make the claim in the public forum that “Global warming is a hoax!”, then they are perpetrating a false statement, and need to be called out.

    I have been doing research work on atmospheric physics for a good many years. The nature of global warming and global climate change are among the topics that we have been studying. As in all scientific research, the basic results of our findings have been published in the scientific literature. From time to time, I post some comments on this blog and elsewhere. The main reason is probably more to clarify my own thoughts in my mind, and to practice basic writing skills. I have no illusions that I may be “teaching” anything to anybody – scientific research is my principal interest and job responsibility, not public education.

    I recall someone stating here that “It is impossible to educate anyone who does not want to learn.” To that I would also add that “It is impossible to keep someone from learning, if they really want to learn.”

    I have no idea why most of the people here spend time posting questions and comments. I tend to be skeptical that they are here because they really want to learn something about radiative transfer or global warming. I suspect that it is simply more that they want to advertise their beliefs and opinions. If anyone really has a pressing question on some topic, simply type that question in to Google, and you will be directed to dozens of sources that will provide you with possible answers, and more.

    • Thank you for explaining why I do not believe in the IPCC myth about the climate.

    • So, Andy, you got the climate sensitivity honed down to something other than a matter of faith?

    • Dr. Lacis,
      I would suggest that you in the climate science = truth = global climate disruption business need to get a better handle on controlling your historical archives better.
      When we bitter fundies clinging to our guns and bibles read this sort of stuff
      http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/2010/12/warmer-means-colder.html and see how easily frequently and shamelessly you flip-flop your positions we notice. And inspite of the arrogant presumption so many academics have towards conservatives religionists and Republicans, we do know ow to read for comprehension and do apply critical thinking skills.
      And when we read the sort of cold is warm is cold is warm bs your team is putting out, we are reminded too much of that cheap charlatan phony preacher who got run out of town for dipping into the collection plate and making off with our daughters and wives.
      Instead of worrying that we might think something you don’t like, look to your own first.
      Frankly if more of you climate scientists had some religious background that was actual education in the subject, instead of shallow training in infantile deconstruction, you might recognize how much of what you guys have been pushing as ‘scientific evidence’ looks just like circular non-falsifiable hype.
      We clingers may not have advanced calculus, but we have well developed noses for bs. And a great deal of what you have been pushing smells exactly like bs.

    • Andy Lacis: “It is impossible to educate anyone who does not want to learn.” and “It is impossible to keep someone from learning, if they really want to learn.” Agreed.

      When, towards the end of 2006, I started learning about climate science I was largely relying on the IPCC WG1 TAR report (2001) to educate myself. Later on I learnt that there were papers in the peer-reviewed scientific literature which presented interpretations quite different from those included in that IPCC report and which the authors of the relevant IPCC chapters had not mentioned. No discussion, no references. I searched. What could I conclude?
      That the papers had escaped the notice of the IPCC authors? Hm. Well, maybe. Reading all that literature must be a chore. But wasn’t that the job they took on?
      Or that they knew about the papers, but weren’t able to include discussion of them in the report on account of lack of space? In an 880 page report with several blank pages at the end? Hm.
      Or that the IPCC authors had read the dissident papers but disagreed with their findings so profoundly that they decided to disregard them anyway? But weren’t they supposed to be summarising all the relevant literature?
      Or maybe my search just missed the relevant references. Maybe.

      Anyway, if the IPCC was trying to stop me learning about climate science, and that did seem to me to be a possibility, it failed. I started reading more widely right across the scientific spectrum, and left the IPPC’s report to gather dust.

      So far this comment is somewhat o/t, apologies to Dr Curry for that, but both Dr Curry and Dr Gushee have mentioned Sir John Houghton, an evangelical Christian who was also Co-chair of the IPCC WG1 (and so jointly responsible for producing IPCC publications such as ‘Climate Change 2001 The Scientific Basis’ – the report which may have tried, but certainly failed to stop me learning about climate science).

      Sir John Houghton may be an excellent atmospheric physicist, and I’m happy to accept scienceofdoom’s judgment on that point. But there’s more to climate science than just physics, and there’s also more to Houghton than just science. Provocative and apocalyptic recent public statements** by Houghton such as “Science is God’s science” and “Pharoah & Joseph had 7 YEARS – So have we – 2016” worry me. The former long-term presence of this man in a central and influential role within the UN’s purpose-made and supposedly objective climate change panel does not increase my confidence in any of the IPCC’s much-acclaimed scientific conclusions and recommendations; indeed it goes some way to account for my disillusion with and rejection of the organisation and most of what it stands for. I expected better, and was disappointed.

      Would Dr Gushee care to respond?

      ** h/t Barry Woods

    • Your long statement reveals many strongly held “assumptions” and “generalizations” and you use them to reach the “proof” of your “beliefs”, all of which you hold to be your “own”. You are human after all! Say on!

      • Pascvaks,
        Why don’t you read the link before you go on in your well honed condescension?

      • Done. Still agree with you Find that I usually do. Perhaps my sarcasm was to quick and and deep and thin and you thought I was praising the good Doktor?

    • “My own point of view is that everyone has the guaranteed Constitutional right to believe whatever it is that they choose to believe (and whatever they may choose to believe, does not have to have any basis whatsoever in factual reality). So, if someone states that they believe that the Earth is flat, or that global warming is a hoax, that is fine by me. They are deluding no one else but themselves. If however they were to make the claim in the public forum that ‘Global warming is a hoax!’, then they are perpetrating a false statement, and need to be called out.”

      I agree. Andy, except in the converse.

      My father use to say, “My right to swing my fist through the air ends where your nose begins”. So, I would have NO problem with all the believers of (c)AGW if they just kept their handwaving away from my “nose”. Let them believe what they want to believe, despite the lack of scientific proof, just so long as they don’t want to disrupt my life. I would gladly disrupt my life if there was indeed scientific proof that human created CO2 will cause significant loss of life.

      So far, the evidence is that more people lose their lives due to cold climatic conditions than to warm climatic conditions. That says to me, bring on the warmth!

    • David L. Hagen

      A. Lacis
      Please test your beliefs that: “religion is basically rooted in the realm of belief, and does not really need a foundation that is based on factual reality”
      against the objective facts on which Christianity was founded. e.g. see references above to Payne & McDowell – post David L. Hagen | December 21, 2010 at 10:04 am

      Facts of climate science need to be distinguished from projections based on incomplete physics.
      Some objections to policy “recommendations” for mandatory cap and trade mitigation are that they require unnecessary dictatorial government control with severe loss of freedom and strong increases in taxes – with the focus on wealth redistribution.

  62. Judith,

    Is weather God’s will or god related?
    An Ice Age has no morals of value to any man or God. It is just an activity that is generated when the right factors have activated it.
    Massive precipitation and a slow cooling keep the Ice building. A massive freeze does not generate precipiation if the body of water is frozen over. So, it is a slow process.
    Current heavy cloud cover is reflecting even more solar radiation, so, this summer will be far cooler than normal.

  63. I’m sure it’s frustrating for the warmistas…they have a cohesive storyline…it hangs together well and the pieces fit together smoothly. However, that is insufficient. Creating story lines from random pieces of data is what we humans do well…hence conspiracy theories, constellations in the night sky and genitals in Rorschach ink blots. Just because a story sounds good and links many known datapoints does not make it true.
    Pay attention to any explanation to how CO2 causes global warming and you’ll clearly hear where the nonsensical handwaving begins. Just because a story line makes sense and is vigorously defended by progressive activists attracted to climate science (instead of a more rigorous field like engineering where they could make an honest living) does not make it true. Sorry, but that’s the way it is.

    • IKen,
      If you read GK Chesterson’s devestating book on Eugenics
      You will discover that eugenics was THE science of the day, embraced by the great foundations and intelligentsia around the world.
      The USSC even said forced sterilization was OK based on eugenics.
      The parallels between AGW/climate change/global climate disruption and eugenics are real, deep and disturbing.
      The arguments by supporters of both, and their social standing, are depressingly similar.
      We can only hope to defang AGW before its venom sacks fillup.

  64. This has indeed been fascinating. I wonder if other areas of scientific research elicit this much passion and vitriol? There is more going on here than science, that’s for sure. Some of you really dislike each other.
    I will not try to respond to every poke, jab, and comment. But I will say a few things.
    I believe that good stewardship of God’s creation is a basic human responsibility.
    I believe that religious leaders have the responsibility to try to help their congregations and faith communities discern what good stewardship requires. I am one of those leaders.
    We rely on scientists to help us read environmental realities so that we can do our best work at providing good religious leadership to our people.
    A group of us became convinced in 2005-2006 by people like John Houghton and massive documents like the IPCC studies that global warming was a major ecological threat. We were told that the science was very well-established, and that only a few outliers doubted it. The case was well made. We swung into action on the basis of the evidence presented and the moral responsibilities we have.
    I have little idea what to make of this mutual trashtalking that goes on now between competing sides in the climate wars.
    I do feel that the level of consensus once presented to me seems to have been somewhat misrepresented.
    But I also believe that the long term question of whether human civilizations as now constituted can live in a sustainable way in this not infinitely resilient creation remains of fundamental importance.
    Climate is only one aspect of that bigger question.

    • Dr. Gushee,
      Thank you for your reply.
      To answer your question about passions and science, I would suggest you read the book I referenced above by GK Chesterson:
      Every point you make about climate science and its credibility was made about eugenics. Major universities and foundations backed it.
      Good stewardship implies a responsibility to use good judgement and wisom in assesing what and how to steward. The consensus of AGW and the policy demands its propnents make do not hold up under scrutiny.
      As to your reinterpretations of conservatives, and who they are what motivates them, I can only hope that you will be able to leave your parochial insular view and get to know those whom you pigeonhole.
      You will be surprised.

    • I do feel that the level of consensus once presented to me seems to have been somewhat misrepresented.

      You have taken your first step to becoming a skeptic.

      This is the starting point of most skeptics, because the obvious question to ask is WHY it was misrepresented.

      Some people start with the presumption that this misrepresentation is accidental and they begin digging into the science, thinking that there’s some obvious something they didn’t quite grasp. The more they dig, the more skeptical they get.

      Others start from the presumption that this misrepresentation is purposeful, that advocates have an agenda. They reason that humans being humans, there’s money and power at stake, therefore the thing to look at is to see who gains from this.

      The skeptic positions you see exhibited herein are an admixture of these two concepts.

    • @david gushee

      Thanks for you honest appraisal of the discussion so far. You are right to observe that feeling scan run quite high and we are not all merrily united in the Climatology Brotherhood and Crusade to eliminate CO2.

      But you say

      ‘We swung into action on the basis of the evidence presented and the moral responsibilities we have………I do feel that the level of consensus once presented to me seems to have been somewhat misrepresented’

      I have to ask why you were so easily persuaded? A good salesman from a similar religious background (John Houghton) came and told you that it was all explained in a Big Black Book, that everybody agreed with it, and it was your moral destiny to save the world? And you just dropped everything and joined his crusade. With not a question about anything?

      As an atheist I find the idea that Big Black Books contain universal truths almost impossible to grasp, but even if you accept that premise surely you must have had some inkling that the editor of said BBB wasn’t going to be the most unbiased witness in the world? And just might have an axe to grind?

      But as GLA noted above, I’m glad that you too have taken the first step along the path to liberation from AGW dogma. Just remember to keep on asking for the evidence for all their assertions. Do not be satisfied with the standard refusals:

      There’s such a lot its difficult to pick one out
      You’re not a climatologist I can’t explain it to you.
      Read the BBB all the way through – its all explained in there (it isn’t)
      Everything we see is consistent with AGW theory. (Consistent with the existence of Giant Lizards ruling the world as well, but correlation is not the same as causation).
      Everything we see is predicted by AGW theory (It isn’t. The Alarmists are great at post-hoc predictions, but have never made a correct one *before* the event.
      It must be CO2 because we can’t think of anything else. Equally applies to any cause you can imagine.

      and so on. Keep on prodding until you get to the bottom of the blancmange. And you’ll find there’s almost nothing there.

    • The Catholic Church, to its discredit, also started Liberation Theology. You desire to continue the Church being involved in poor conceptualizations??

      I would also point out that Christian Theology in no way supports grouping together to FORCE others into believing or acting in specific ways. It is all about persuasion, not force. As soon as you move past the door of the church or the public arena and into government regulation and taxation you have moved from persuasion to force.

    • BlueIce2HotSea

      @david gushee

      You have fared well by not responding to every poke, jab and insult. In a cage with rabid dogs, one might also become rabid.

      Please don’t allow the passion and vitriol by some of us to alienate youself from skeptical thinking. The external noise is loudest at the center of the cage, but internally, it’s much quieter…

    • The interesting quote there is:

      ‘We were Told that the science was very well established’

      this sceptic merely asks that you check a few things out for yourself now..

      Also, yes there are OTHER long term questions, yet they are not the case in point – co2 – man made global warming..

      to often AGW is used a a trojan horse to force through other political and environmental issues.

      Sir John Houghton, is clearly convinced beyond even listening to any further debate..

      Have you read the emails, or listened to those that are implicated, or with ..vested interests. John Houghton has NOT, Bob Watson has NOT (even at a debate about climategate -an audience member shouted out – ‘Do you often forget to do your homework, I was there.)

      try the book ‘Climategate -the crutape letter’ Mosher/Fuller..
      it won’t hurt, without having read the the scseptical view, and just relying on third hand denouciation, you merely are in a position of ignorance.. Read Both sides for yourself, and take your own view.. Without at least looking at this, you xcould be accused of being ignorant (of both

      Try taking Judith Curry’s ‘The Hockey Stick Illusion’ challenge, don’t worry it is merely to read A W Montford’s book of that name (written in the main ,before climategate)

      Don’t rely on a review of it (sceptical OR Pro) read it for yourself..

      If you are interested inthe Bigger questions – That is fine..

      Lets’ sort out the little question of AGw – CO2, not confuse other issues with it

      forgive me for this critisicm, you sound less informed than many people, about the issues and questions, than many people here.. and rather too trusting.

    • Dr. Gushee,
      Just to add to the spectrum in diversity of persuasions associated with climate, stewardship and restoration ecology issues please allow me this subjectivity.
      There is no doubt among my associates that I would be considered a extreme fundamentalist in many areas of my Christian Faith. A sort of renegade Anabaptist as it were. That said, the better part of my adult life has been involved with sustainable stewardship. This is based on the premise that the earth belongs to YHVH and the fullness of it. I am not a young earth creationist but a creationist nonetheless. Climate, the impact of industrialization on ecological function and restoration ecology are keen areas of interest of mine. Our ranch is managed using sound best practices with an emphasis on organic and soft technologies. You would be hard pressed to convince me that there is a hard line drawn in the conservative Christian communities. It seems there is a bias against “greenness” by a dominant segment of conservative Christianity but nowhere near all conservatives are of the Watts caliber. But I feel it is because the issues has been co-opted and politicized. The most vocal segment of the communities seems to be the basis for defining the whole and that is a pity. I know many very conservative Christians who are also conservationists.

    • Dr. Gushee,

      please let me give you an example of why your interest is quite a narrow bit of the spectrum. At one time I was ready to join the Sierra Club. It seemed to be supporting many good and necessary endeavours in cleaning up the environment and promoting sustainable developmet and resource use.

      The Sierra Club has now morphed into a Political Organization that promotes illegal immigration as some sort of equality and fairness meme. In so doing they ruin the very issues they used to have primary, that is clean environment and SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND RESOURCE USE!!!

      This has happened in several of the groups where the original goals have taken a hard left turn from just the environment to hard left politics. When many people see this they aren’t even interested in the facts any more. They know that these organizations are no longer honest brokers and will doubt what is promoted by them. This is also seen by a number of the founders of these organizations quitting them after not being able to correct their course.

      We are told that it takes at least 30 years of data to establish a climate trend and to conclude what is happening in a reasonable manner. James Hansen made his presentation to Congress in 1988 where he had already concluded that CO2 (GHG’s) were the problem and we had to severely restrict their production. If you go back and look at the data available at the time there is NOTHING in the record like we see now from the ADJUSTED GISS record or even the satellite data. HOW WAS HE SO SURE WITH NO CLIMATE DATA TO BACK HIM UP!!!!! Many scientists were still looking at a dangerous cooling into the mid 70’s, and yet, James Hansen managed to determine that the temperature was going up at a dangerous rate due to CO2 within 13 years of this and only 9 years of minimal satellite data which couls have had issues!

      We currently haven’t had any statistically significant warming for 15 years according to Phil Jones. Why can I not determine that they are WRONG? Because they have models they have developed which includes parameters based on papers that are now outdated or proven wrong?? The clouds, precipitation, and aerosols are prime examples of this.

      There is no earned trust left in the system.

    • David L. Hagen

      David Gushee
      Thank you for your response:

      I believe that good stewardship of God’s creation is a basic human responsibility. . . .
      I do feel that the level of consensus once presented to me seems to have been somewhat misrepresented.

      With your concern for impacts on the poor, I strongly recommend exploring the much more immediate impact of “peak oil.” This will have far greater and sooner impact than global warming. The potential consequences of the impending decline of light oil exports are best reflected in the mid 1990s famine in North Korea, primarily due to the loss of petroleum imports. See:
      Marcus Noland, Famine and Reform in North Korea, July 2003, WP 03-5, Institute for International Economics.

      the tremendous trade shocks that hit the economy starting in 1990 as the Soviet Union disintegrated and the Eastern bloc collapsed. The Soviets had supplied North Korea with most of its coal and refined oil and one-third of its steel. . . .by 1993 imports from Russia were only 10 percent of their 1987–90 average (Eberstadt, Rubin, and Tretyakova 1995). . . .The North Korean industrial economy imploded, and deprived of industrial inputs, agricultural output plummeted. . . .in 1994 and 1995, a disillusioned China reduced its exports to North Korea. Catastrophic floods in July and August 1995 added to North Korea’s suffering.
      In 1987, . . . daily grain rations . . . been 600 to 700 grams for most urban dwellers . . . By 1997, the daily ration would fall to 128 grams. . . . The most recent and sophisticated attempts to measure excess deaths put them in a range of roughly 600,000 to 1 million, or approximately 3 to 5 percent of the precrisis population.”

      See also: Stephan Haggard, Marcus Noland, Amartya Sen, Famine in North Korea: Markets, Aid, and Reform, Columbia University Press, 2009

      For details on peak oil, See Robert L. Hirsch, The Impending World Energy Mess 2010

    • “This has indeed been fascinating. I wonder if other areas of scientific research elicit this much passion and vitriol? There is more going on here than science, that’s for sure. Some of you really dislike each other.”

      I’m surprised you find this “fascinating”. It causes me to think that you did not anticipate this reaction. I wonder that you “wonder if other areas of scientific research elicit this much passion and vitriol?”. Your observations that “There is more going on here than science” and “Some of you really dislike each other.” are also quite fascinating. These statements say much to me about you. Oh, and I’m not as surprised as you may think. Not at all. You are very much like the people here who have commented on your discussion with Dr. Curry. Very opinionated, very educated, very independent, and oh so very human. Perhaps the reactions here will help you see more clearly what you did not see before and help you in future.

    • dg, has it occurred to you that with more energy more life can be sustained?

  65. There is no need to invoke religious belief as grounds for AGW skepticism. In the 16th century, Protestantism was associated with a certain approach to business. The association was more complex. So it is now. People are skeptical about AGW for perfectly good scientific reasons. Some of them are religious, some not. Get used to the fact that you will convince no religious skeptic by attacking his or her scientific skepticism on the grounds that it is somehow in some way you can’t exactly explain, caused by religion.

    Its not. Looking for these kinds of explanations is part of your problem.

  66. Michael Larkin

    Dr. Gushee,

    “This has indeed been fascinating. I wonder if other areas of scientific research elicit this much passion and vitriol? “

    There are other areas – e.g. parapsychology and evolution vs creationism. But the stakes aren’t so high and fewer are involved.

    “There is more going on here than science, that’s for sure. Some of you really dislike each other.”

    Mostly, people don’t actually know one another. They might well get on like a house on fire except when it comes to this issue. You are certainly right that there’s more than science going on, and that applies to the orthodoxy, too.

    “I will not try to respond to every poke, jab, and comment. But I will say a few things.
    I believe that good stewardship of God’s creation is a basic human responsibility.
    I believe that religious leaders have the responsibility to try to help their congregations and faith communities discern what good stewardship requires. I am one of those leaders.
    We rely on scientists to help us read environmental realities so that we can do our best work at providing good religious leadership to our people.”

    It’s good not to respond to the jabs. I see good intentions in your aims and aspirations, but do please also exercise your responsibility to check out the science: and not just on one side. Exercise “good stewardship” based on the wrong information, and you could cause more harm than you seek to ameliorate.

    “A group of us became convinced in 2005-2006 by people like John Houghton and massive documents like the IPCC studies that global warming was a major ecological threat. We were told that the science was very well-established, and that only a few outliers doubted it. The case was well made. We swung into action on the basis of the evidence presented and the moral responsibilities we have.”

    You were presented with the one side, by advocates. It’s natural enough to think them not only authoritative, but correct. But the one doesn’t necessarily lead to the other.

    “I have little idea what to make of this mutual trashtalking that goes on now between competing sides in the climate wars.”

    Put it this way. Suppose government, the mainstream media, all the main scientific bodies, and millions of people the world over were attacking your Christian beliefs. When you tried to defend yourself and your faith, imagine a derogatory word was coined to describe you all. Imagine this word was parroted endlessly at you whenever you tried to explain your point of view; imagine talk of sanctions being taken against you, of allegations of stupidity against you. After a while, perhaps certainly after a couple of decades of it, you might get a bit frazzled around the edges.

    The analogy isn’t perfect because this isn’t an argument between faith and non-faith: at least nominally, it’s about science. I’m just trying to provide a means for you to key into the acrimony.

    “I do feel that the level of consensus once presented to me seems to have been somewhat misrepresented.”

    Good. Because that is an accurate perception. Now – don’t listen to anyone else, for or against; start researching the evidence either way and come to your own conclusions.

    “But I also believe that the long term question of whether human civilizations as now constituted can live in a sustainable way in this not infinitely resilient creation remains of fundamental importance.

    Climate is only one aspect of that bigger question.”

    Many on even the sceptic side agree with the general sentiment. But do consider this, and again, research it: to what extent, if claims about catastrophic climate change are incorrect, are the enormous resources pumped into it that could have been used in better ways, simply wasted? If that’s remotely true, what price good stewardship?

  67. If you want to understand conservative religious resistance to climate alarmism, why do you ask someone from the outside? As a skeptic I can summarize what’s wrong with all the idiots who believe in CAGW, but I doubt you’d consider me a credible voice for what they believe and why.

  68. Geir in Norway

    The title of your article is rather misleading. There is no resistance to climate science per se, but to the assumptions, not to say dogmas, arising from the political treatment of certain aspects of climate science.

    It is a pity that you use the word “science”. The German word is Wissenschaft, which is about what we “know”. In Norwegian it is Vitenskap. The oppsite of knowledge (viten) is assumptions (antagelser), that is, what we assume. In Norwegian the (excuse me) “science of assumptions” would be Antagelsesskap – Assumptionness, if such a word ever existed, as opposed to science – or Knowledgeness.

    Now climate science does not exist the way you all see it. There is no science in running mathematical models, it is assumptionness.

    When the Met office in the UK state that the probability of a severe winter like last year’s is 1/20, it is an assumption. It is not climate science. When it says it, it also says that the probability of three severe winters in a row is 1/8000. This is obviously trashy assumptionness, because it is obviously out of touch with realities.

    And that is why Christians refuse to listen to socalled climate science spokespersons who assume authority and present dogma.

  69. As a practicing Catholic, I can tell you that my faith is in my Lord, not in some silly speculations. Science is supposed to present facts, not new belief systems. Catastrophic projections aren’t facts. Reconstructions aren’t facts. So, do some better science and get back to us.

  70. A summary of many of the comments by conservatives here who have such contempt and mistrust for the environmental movement display a self-absorbed,infantile attitude of refusing to accept personal responsibility for our coleective actions and choices.

    Taking care of the ecology of the earth is by necessity a cooperative and collective enterprise.

    That really all that environmentalism is about,cleaning up our messes, respecting all of life and protecting that life( which includes us)

    It is you who make it into something evil or ideological. It’s simply about being a mature,responsible human being and caring for more than just yourself or your immediate family or relatives. There’s nothing complicated, subversive, anti-religious or evil about that.

    I would say that caring for the earth and it’s life(including humans)is a sign of a persom who has enlarged and elevated the concept of what it means to be human.

    • OK.

      Please provide some examples from this blog of the comments you claim to have ‘summarised’. With evidence that any such have been posted by ‘conservatives’.

    • All of what you say sounds reasonable enough, but when every action we take has some sort of impact on the world, it is necessary to make choices and weigh costs and benefits of one action vs another. What is bothersome to some people about the environmental movement is the strain of absolutism that insists on no nuclear power, or stopping all logging (and we will get wood from where?) or blowing up all dams to let the fish run. And it is also the shrillness–if the public is 95% in favor of something (let’s say they think air quality is good enough, perhaps, or that logging on national forests is ok) and a handful of activists don’t like it, they insist that their voice must be obeyed, and therefore sue. There is thus a gap between your stated idealism (which most would agree with) and what happens in the real world.

    • What does being skeptical of a huge industry of environmental organizations have to do with not caring for Earth and its life?
      What does agreeing with apocalyptic clap trap about CO2 causing a climate catastrophe have to do with caring about Earth and its life?