Motives for communicating climate science

by Judith Curry

In discussing the Kahan et al. paper online with a group of science bloggers, Dave Ropeik made a statement that I found very striking, about the motives for communicating science.

Keith Kloor was also struck by this comment, and he has reproduced it on this thread at Collide-a-Scape.

What’s the goal of risk communication about climate change? To get people to ‘believe’? To see the issue the way the communicator wants them to? To get people to do what the communicator wants them to do? Or is it just to impart information so people can make up their own minds…which, frankly, sounds wonderfully moral and democratic and all, but…let’s be honest here…is less than what the people concerned about climate change really want. A lot of this conversation is about finding ways to get people to believe in climate change, and care about it enough to help promote change and progress and solutions. To the extent THAT is the goal, there are two HUGE hurdles. First, as I’ve written, because of its affective/emotional characteristics, even among those who believe in climate change, the issue just doesn’t worry people enough to get them to act.  Second, risk communication that feels manipulative usually fails. People resist being manipulated. We are more willing to change than BE changed. So the risk communication challenge, even using mental models, is, to not only inform, but do so in a way that accounts for how the issue feels to folks, AND which doesn’t make people feel like they are being encouraged/pushed/manipulated to reach a particular conclusion.

Communicating climate science has been an enduring theme at Climate Etc. Whenever I do a post on this topic, hard core skeptics invariably object, implying the goal of better communication about climate science is to “con” the public into supporting the preferred policy options of the climate establishment.  That is not my personal goal in communicating climate, but I have to admit that it is the goal of many, and certainly of Al Gore.  As I’ve interpreted it, the UNFCCC/IPCC ideology regards the physical basis of climate science as part and parcel of climate change being dangerous and the need for mitigatory action.

If climate science and its public communication was separated from the objective of encouraging/pushing/manipulating people to support specific solutions, I suspect that we could have an honest scientific debate about climate change.  The value-ladenness and prescriptive nature of much communication about climate change results in a backlash by people who don’t want to be manipulated into policy choices.  Wishful thinking, but I think Ropeik articulates the issue very well.

304 responses to “Motives for communicating climate science

  1. Story from Australia today. Not really spot on topic but related to the impacts of communication about Climate Science.

    “Australian children are being terrified by climate change lessons

    PRIMARY school children are being terrified by lessons claiming climate change will bring “death, injury and destruction” to the world unless they take action.

    On the eve of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s carbon tax package announcement, psychologists and scientists said the lessons were alarmist, created unneeded anxiety among school children and endangered their mental health.

    Climate change as a “Doomsday scenario” is being taught in classrooms across Australia.

    Resource material produced by the Gillard government for primary school teachers and students states climate change will cause “devastating disasters”.

    Australian National University’s Centre for the Public Awareness of Science director Dr Sue Stocklmayer said climate change had been portrayed as “Doomsday scenarios with no way out”.

    Dr Stocklmayer said she was not a climate-change sceptic but worried that “too much time was spent presenting scary scenarios, especially to young people”.

    “(Children) feel incredibly despondent and helpless in the face of all this negative information,” she said. “To put all of this before our children … is one of the most appalling things we can do to (them).

    Child psychologist Kimberley O’Brien also said the language of climate change should be “toned down”.

    “(Educators) should stick to the facts,” she said.

    “They should be aware that kids do have nightmares.”

    Psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg called on educators to be “more circumspect and present both sides (of the climate-change debate)”.

    • If the messengers were really concerned about the welfare of their audience, they would try to convey the risks – as they see them – and also try to convey the uncertainties in those risks – as honestly as possible.

      When the objective is encouraging/pushing/manipulating people to support specific courses of action (promoting propaganda), there is no room for an honest scientific debate about climate change.

      Unfortunately, AGW has been and continues ti be a propaganda campaign.

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

    • Steven Schuman

      I belong to a Quaker church. Needles to say, climate change is a big issue there. Being a sceptic among the convinced, I generally hold my tongue. However, when it was decided to show “An Inconvenient Truth” to the young children of our Meeting, I felt they were crossing a line. Instilling fear in children to promote an agenda is an abdication of parental responsibility.

    • John Vetterling

      They seem to be taking a page out of the smoking cessation efforts of the 60s. I, and most of my age group, were shown truly horrific films of operations on lungs and hearts in the hope of scaring us to never smoke.

      It didn’t work then – I doubt this will work now.
      Kids have short memories. After a few years of being told about catastrophic warming with no result they will quickly grow dismissive.

    • As a teacher myself, I can confirm (at least at the middle school level) that children are frightened by the information they are presented, some very much so. But it is NOT just climate change. They are frightened by a lot of the health journalism/advertising they hear. I do my best to fight the good fight from the standpoint of math, but the breakthrough came this year when they found out the high school science teacher doesn’t accept AGW either. Now they are relieved and I don’t have to deal with apocalyptic scenarios so much anymore (they are still a bit worried about 2012, but who cares if the Mayans ran out of calandar and what’s a year anyway from the standpoint of the earth or the universe?).
      I believe kids are targted precisely becasue they accept the argument from authority – after all, that’s their life. If I’m not mistaken the Goreacle himself said as much and called for pitching the message to kids because their parents were a lost cause. This subject is something I get really angry about because I see its effect on a near daily basis.

      • Steve Reynolds

        While having children frightened is unfortunate, it probably can have a beneficial learning effect eventually. They hopefully will find propaganda from authorities is even less reliable than the advertising they have been learning to ignore on a daily basis. Learning to think for themselves may be the most important lesson.

    • That reminds me very much about the time in the early 1980s, when ‘nuclear winter’ was pushed.
      Children were indeed frightened and scared of a nuclear bomb goig off within the next month.

      However, some sociologists, looking at this and the related issue of how to address adults about nuclear war, found that messages inducing fear made people to turn away, and reject the messages when they came repeatedly.
      IAW, scare stories turned out to be counter-productive.

      However, I think that making children fearful with scare stories, e.g. about climate, is worse because children see that there is nothing they can actually do about it.
      (No, making your parents recycle or buy energy saving lightbulbs does not count as ‘solution’!).
      There is no end to the scare story, no proper finish – and that is what children want, that is what they know from fairie- and other tales.

    • This is not a new issue. My children are all every bright and score strongly on all the criteria sought by employers. My son attended Brisbane Grammar, generally regarded as Queensland’s best school from 1996-2000 (on a full scholarship). The “geography” department was invested by rabid greens, who convinced my son and others that they faced a bleak future in which jobs would be very hard to find, to the extent that he proposed to switch from following subjects which absorbed and inspired him to those with the best employment prospects in this uncertain world. It was a struggle to persuade him otherwise. This “future negativity” has been common in the school system for years, it goes back to the mid-70s when communist union leader Laurie Carmichael (a lovely chap, I had tea with him a couple of times, but an ideologue), Joan Kirner (Victorian education minister and later Premier, who I found unpoleasant) et al decided that there was no way they could get majority support for their ideas thgyrough democratic processes, they needed a long-term plan involving indoctrination in the classroom from an early age. There seems to have been significant success in Australia since the mid-70s in having left-wing ideas conveyed to school-children.

  2. As “hard core skeptics” and other critics of the “consensus” have said for a long time, the first corrective step is to stop the political process of establishing “climate policy”, worldwide. Take the politics out. The second step is to confront the overwhelming evidence against CAGW, and admit that all of our scientific institutions and the media have been suborned by an incompetent “consensus”, a fairy tale. This will require an independent audit and re-thinking of climate science by non-climate scientists, including physicists, practicing engineers and meteorologists, individuals in each of these fields having already stepped forward to confront the false science of climate, and provided definitive evidence against it.

    • Mr. Harry Dale Huffman, You stated the current situation very clearly & any rational person would understand your reasoning. If ‘science’ were to do as you suggest, just think what would happen to the worlds current depression. If people have to take responsibility for their actions and were then to have to take the consequences?.. Next stop; Follow-the-Money, D.C., The FED?… Who knows? It might be ‘The End’ of progress as we know it, but a brighter day for all, I am sure.

    • That was a very exact post, one I very much agree with. Well said!

    • Exactly!

    • A hopelessly idealistic scenario. The AGWistas know perfectly well that it would be fatal to their cause, and stop the Pachauri RailRoad in its tracks, or even derail it for good.

      Expect only superficial and token agreement with the “separation” plan. The political pressurizing is increasing as we speak, from Ban to Gore to Mann to Gillard to Huhne (notwithstanding his back-down on nuclear). Whether it’s a last desperate push or a continuation of a putsch, it’s necessary for those who have gone too far to turn back.

  3. Latimer Alder

    ‘The whole aim of practical climatology is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.’ (H.L. Mencken….sort of)

  4. Latimer Alder

    And one of the main things that made me very very suspicious of climatology was that its main and vocal adherents were so obviously communicating AT me, rather than WITH me.

    For them, as for True Believers in any dodgy cult, the purpose of communication is for them to tell me what ‘The Answer’ is. I am expected to be nothing other than a passive and grateful recipient of ‘The Message’. My opinion is immaterial..I must just hear The Word and obey.

    Since it is incomprehensible that anyone can fail to believe in The Truth, their only further discussion possible is to dismiss any non-Believer as mad or and suffering from suspect motives ‘Well-funded Big Oil Deniers’ ‘Contrarian running dogs and shills of The Tea Party and creationism’

    Or the best of all ‘Nobody without a PhD in Radiative Physics is entitled to have an opinion about CAGW’ (Steve Easterbrook writing at Climate Etc)

    So there – you grubby, nasty, trivial, little non-Climatology people….one of the Great Gurus has told you what he thinks about your opinions. Don’t bother having one unless it agrees with his.

  5. The value-ladenness and prescriptive nature of much communication about climate change results in a backlash by people who don’t want to be manipulated into policy choices.

    Agreed. Particularly eggregious are those that have a tinge of panic to them (eg Craven’s talk of scientists creating disaster bunkers because things have already gone too far). That is doubly ineffective in that the speaker comes across as both manipulative and totally divorced from reality.

    • Not to mention like a blathering idiot. The kind of person to whom one says, pointlessly, “Just listen to yourself!”

  6. J Storrs Hall

    Good luck with that — the catch-22 of the situation is that for climatology to be de-politicized, all of the participants in the debate have to agree that it isn’t important to policy. I think that to some extent this is the point of view that Pielke Jr has been pushing.

    If you want to see what a science looks like after a century of politicization, look at economics.

  7. Living in Europe the situation appears different. The basic views of UNFCCC and IPCC are the starting point for existing European policies. Failure of the Copenhagen COP in November 2009 was a failure of Europeans and those scientists that support the approach to get others to join.

    Personally I cannot see much conscious attempt to mislead. I do believe that people who push for strong climate policies do that in good faith. They do think that the risk of climate change is severe and that its worthwhile to make major sacrifices to counter it. Certainly there are also greens and environmentalists, who see here an opportunity to gain support for their goals, which may not be directly linked to climate change but could be promoted by climate change related arguments. Certainly there are also producers of renewable energy solutions, who see here a business opportunity to promote, but the basic support originates from sincere beliefs and fears related to climate change.

    The problems of communicating about climate change are due to the complexity of the issue. In particular the precautionary principle is a valid principle, but that combined with very large uncertainties leads to a situation, where all kind of conclusions are equally logical and proving any of them right or wrong may be impossible. We are left in a situation, where people do sincerely believe that the views of the opposing side are not only wrong, but catastrophically wrong.

    • Latimer Alder


      ‘Living in Europe the situation appears different’

      H’mm …not from UK it doesn’t. The ‘Establishment’ has been fairly well infiltrated by AGW/CAGW ideology and for some years the disastrous and pointless Climate Change Act, 2008) our policy makers have been seduced or scared into pursuing the alarmists goals. We can see this most particularly in the disastrous Climate Change Act, 2008 which imposes unilateral and self-damaging targets for carbon reduction with no concomitant benefit whatosever.

      Thankfully, the Green influence in government and the press is slowly waning. Nobody gives much of a t..s about their great*n garndhcildren;s climate when their electricity bill has gone up 50% to pay a rich landowner for erecting a useless windmill. But much damage has already been done,

      You make great play that the believers in CAGW are sincere in their beliefs. I won’t invite Godwin’s Law, but merely point out that sincerity does not mean correctness, and it is a big mistake to necessarily equate depth of belief with rightness of argument.

      The failed futurologist Harold Camping is a living example. As is Hansen. They were both very sincere. And very wrong.

      Think through your ‘sincerity’ argument again.

      • @ Latimer, the distinction is that the position is ‘relatively’ sincere in the UK (and I venture to say Europe more generally) with regards to politics, whereas in the US it is polarized by it. I do not see the left and right ‘wingness’ in the debate. I think our politicos are sincere in their desire to act responsibly and are simply moved by the advice they receive. By contrast, it seems to me that the positions taken on the debate in the US are often related to the political consensus of whichever party represents your general political views.

        So in the UK, the establishment has been ‘infiltrated’ in so much as they are simply responding to the advice of advocates.

        @ Pekka, while there may not be a conscious attempt to mislead, even by many of the advocates, I think they have convinced themselves that threat of global warming is real enough to justify exaggerating the case in order to ensure that there is action. For a long time I sympathized with this position. It’s very hard to get people to change their habits at the best of times, and this seemed like a case where it was imperative they do so by whatever means.

        I now reject this line of reasoning. Ultimately the truth has a habit of eroding will like a bad headache. If you attempt something so radical as the restructuring of the world economy on a flawed premise, it is doomed to failure. Even though your goal might be to do things that are good and sensible anyway, the premise leads you logically to do things that are not – that are dangerous at worst, or futile at best.

        And this is why I also now reject the precautionary principle. I am persuaded by the argument that in acting to mitigate something that may or may not happen in the future, you miss opportunities to do things that are absolutely necessary right now. You ask us to invest heavily in something that probably won’t work, to fix something that probably won’t happen, and if it did may well be a good thing anyway. While those resources are not available, we allow 1 billion people to suffer poverty, poor health, bad sanitation, unclean water. I think perhaps the priorities are not what they should be.

      • In agreement, I would like to point out that the first Precautionary Principle is “First, do no harm” or “abstain from doing harm” from Hippocrates.

      • Your argument pretends those issues your raise are being successfully dealt with, which they are not, and never have been. You have set up a false dichotomy of fix now OR fix climate. By eschewing the precautionary principle, you are encouraging band-aids instead of changing lifestyle and business practices to avoid illness in the first place. it is incredibly wasteful to treat illness as opposed to avoiding illness, and this is true as an analogy for climate and energy issues.

        Continuing as we have, nothing will change. The 20/80 – now moving ever closer to 10/90 or worse – principle essentially assures nothing will change over the great expanses of time and sustainability will never be attained. The only solution is a system that is sustainable over millennia and beyond. You cannot get there from here using the logic you are applying. This system cannot avoid its own failings.

        Rather than your false dichotomy, the choices are Fix Now and Fail OR Change the system and fix now AND the future,

      • Incoherent and misdirecting. The alternative to trying to strong-arm the climate (mitigation) is enhanced adaptation and flexible capability to respond to whatever comes.

        It is known that the former will fail, and the latter will succeed. It’s no choice at all, really; only whether we blow vast resources out the window before the necessity to adapt hits is still to be decided.

        When the unexpected coolth strikes, we’ll need every scrap of those resources. So ‘No, you can’t have all our money to spend pointlessly!’ is the only rational response to the Precautionary Principle Pushers.

      • Killian,
        You are the poster boy of false dichotomies with you phony rubric.
        Address the idiocratic choices you outlined regarding climate decision making, and then we can talk about other issues.

      • @Killian

        I used to think exactly this line of reasoning but have been persuaded from it. The argument that the “climate must be fixed” is where I now have a problem. Firstly, you are assuming that there is anything wrong with the climate, and secondly that there is anything we can reasonably do to alter it.

        Firstly, if you read this blog with an open mind, you will see that there is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding climate sensitivity to CO2, and whether the warming we have seen recently was of anthropogenic origin, in part or whole. You will notice too that there are other competing hypotheses as to where the warming came from and what the climate will do in the future. Within this is the possibility that global cooling may dominate our climate. I know this is uncertain, but science has moved on since AR4 and there is plenty to suggest that AR4 exaggerated it’s case somewhat, and latest developments not accounted for at the time suggest a likelihood of a different climate outcome.

        Even if it were the case that we have warmed the climate, that may not be a bad thing, especially in the light of recent developments wrt solar activity and multi-decadal oceanic oscillations. It may help offset potential cooling which is generally a bad thing for mankind. And if the cooling does not occur, further warming would bring us up to medieval warming levels, which do not appear to have been harmful to mankind. There is a presumption of guilt wrt warming that need not be.

        Secondly, proposals to mitigate have the air of Canute and his apochraphal waves. I think attempts to do this are futile and ultimately counter-productive, limiting our capacity to really deal with climate change. Adaptation seems more reasonable to me, because within that possible cooling is accounted for as well.

        I certainly think that the world should look to encourage development in alternative energy, but not on the grounds of a scientific conclusion which is so uncertain. We do not have to make up a reason to wean ourselves off fossil fuels – there are plenty of good ones anyway.

      • Agnostic;
        Good, if somewhat squishy, summary. A couple of quibbles:
        –Canute was a Royal Skeptic; his little demo was to shut up the sycophants who were on and on about his unlimited wonderfulness and power;
        –The “off fossil fuels” meme is bogus. In fact, frak gas has already driven NG prices down precipitously and even early discoveries will keep it flowing for centuries.

        A little more study and enlightenment, and you’ll join me in chanting, “2,100 by 2100!”

      • re: Canute, I think I did actually know this, hence the word ‘apochraphal’. I watch QI too…. :-)
        re: fossile fuels – a subject for another discussion, but there are many reasons why a gradual and orderly (unpanicked by paranoia) move from them is desirable.

    • ferd berple

      “Personally I cannot see much conscious attempt to mislead. I do believe that people who push for strong climate policies do that in good faith.”

      The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Some of the greatest atrocities in history have been committed in this way, because the people leading the charge believed they were in the right and thus their actions can only lead to a good result.

      The Law of Unintended Consequences tells us otherwise. History is full of examples of people acting in the highest of motives leading us to disaster. High moral purpose is to be greatly feared by the common person, because the person action out of high moral purpose is not thinking rationally. They are driven by their purpose. They have no doubts. To them there is no uncertainty. The future is written and we must act to save ourselves.

      Look at of the mad men throughout history that rose to positions of power. They were 100% convinced they were acting out of high moral purpose. Consider Hitler. He was 100% convinced his was a high moral purpose, to save Germany and the Aryan race, thus all actions he ordered were justified.

      Now we have a new breed of Europeans just as certain that they are acting out of high moral purpose to save the human race. If you live long enough, history will repeat itself.

      • fred, giving the EU’s AGW pushers the benefit of the doubt is a mistake. Klaus has called them on it, loudly and clearly.

        Remember the Grifter’s Guideline: “Once you can fake sincerity, everything else is easy!”

      • As evidence I note the rapid implosion of much of the carbon credit market as a result of swift exploitation by indigenous scammers, up to a guesstimated 80% of trading volume. The problem is inherent, since the “underlying assets” for the credits are generally unverifiable claims of not doing something(s) that probably weren’t going to be done anyway.

        And any one who has any confidence in the “sincerity” and morality of the CRU-Krew after Climategate is no longer capable of rational or honest thought.

    • The Climategate Emails blow your sincerity argument out of the sky. Perhaps foot soldiers in the battle to transform civilization might be sincere overwhelmed by the propaganda. But the generals doing the research, sitting on IPCC, see this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gain money, power, and prestige.

      Follow the Money.

      Even the Precautionary Principle is brought up to justify short-circuiting the scientific method because, “We cannot wait for all the data to come in — it will be too late”. This then justifies unjustifiable actions to take the peoples’ freedom (via regulations) and money to redirect to the politically favored.

      As draconian as the GW solutions are, they do not fix the problem. Move a trillion dollars in to wind and SV generation and the CO2 continues to increase with a barely perceptible reduction in growth rate. The Generals know this. That is why they are frantic to install their solutions before nature begins to cool naturally (as it has been doing for millions of years.).

      But it will certainly change our lifestyle. Are you looking forward to the day when a primary function of newspapers will be to list the times of rolling blackouts by zipcode?

    • @pekka
      I do believe that people who push for strong climate policies do that in good faith. They do think that the risk of climate change is severe and that its worthwhile to make major sacrifices to counter it.
      You could say the same thing about the Americans who tried to keep American out of the European theater in WWII. I think many of them acted in good faith, but they were wrong but if they had prevailed, the harm would have been great.
      Same thing now, all the money being poured in climate policies is doing harm to Europe and it will get much, much worse if they have their way. Europe will become second world countries like South America if the Greens have their way.

    • I’m not going to answer specifically any of the above comments. I add to my previous post only that it was rather a description of the situation and difficulties in resolving the problems than a proposal of what should be done.

      For me this whole thread has gone all too much to the direction, where people tell that others have failed to perform correctly until they agree on everything with the commenter and apologize that they have once had different views.

  8. Another aspect of the communication of climate science is the tediousness with which we are bombarded by the propaganda. National Geographic rarely goes an issue without some feature about declining polar bear populations or such. Science News, Science and Nature all lambast us monthly or bi-monthly with global warming scare stories. Popular Science and even the Skeptical Enquirer consider the science settled. AOPA magazine, APOD, every newspaper and TV newscast, it is like some despicable advertising campaign gone horribly wrong. I have two magazines that I cherish because they seem to stay away from the monotonous, sycophantic drumbeat of global warming, they are Sport Pilot, Garden and Gun. Ah, a few minutes where I can relax and enjoy myself in the literature of today’s views and personalities.

    • And don’t forget that it seems every paper published that seems to counter AGW orthodoxy invariably contains at least one sentence/paragraph about how the results of the paper do nothing to diminish the need to take action on AGW.

  9. Regarding this statement: “If climate science and its public communication was separated from the objective of encouraging/pushing/manipulating people to support specific solutions, I suspect that we could have an honest scientific debate about climate change.”

    Actually, beneath the hype, hysteria and propaganda (from all sides) we are having an honest scientific debate about climate change. The basic scientific issues are well known and widely discussed. There is not a lot of research aimed at resolving them but that is a different issue, a science policy issue. Public engagement with science has never been greater.

    • Latimer Alder

      It’s hard to reconcile this with your recent remarks on another thread pleading for a lack of public engagement on important issues….that they should be raised without publicity to save embarrassment for any ‘scientist’ found to be in error.

      But if we have persuaded you that open and public debate is the best way forward, welcome!

      • You clearly have no idea what I was trying to say before.

      • Latimer Alder

        Maybe not.

        But since we are discussing communication it is the communicator’s responsibility to make their communication clear, not the recipient’s to decode it according to the writer’s intentions.

    • Until every member of the AGW community personally repudiates Mann and the Hockey Stick by signing an open letter for all to read (with a big apology for lying), all that is happening is that AGW propagandists make stuff up and skeptics try to point it out.

      • Buzz Fledderjohn

        Why would anyone do that? Would you sign an open letter stating that Anthony Watts (McIntyre, Carter, Lindzen, Spencer, et al) intentionally distorts climate science on a daily basis? (And, yes they do.)

        You guys are just astounding. You start from a politically motivated position, decide that the science is wrong based on preconceived notions and then believe you somehow have claimed the high road. It’s utterly pathetic.

      • I’ll tell you who is easy to pigeonhole, and that is ignorant true believers.

      • Latimer Alder


        You claim that Messrs Watts, Carter, Lindzen Spencer et al

        ‘intentionally distort climate science on a daily basis’.

        Would you care to provide some examinable evidence to support your view?

        Note that to prove your case you will not only have to show that they are wrong, You will have to show that they know they are wrong and act despite having such knowledge. A mere difference of opinion will not suffice.

        And you will need to show that they have done this not just a few times but consistently each and every day for an extended period.

        You need to present separate cases for each of the four of them. And another one for Et Al.

        Good luck in that endeavour. Look forward to seeing your case.

      • I knew a true believer would defend the indefensible.

    • Phil Howerton

      I disagree with you that “we are having an ‘honest’ debate. I ahve been reading these blogs for six years now an have just finished reading Steve McIntyre’s post on contaminated data and sleight of hand statistics in another of Mann’s PNAS papers. Steve has been trying to have an honest debate with these guys for many years and has been consistently, rudely and contemptuously shut out with the “concensus” communoty. I am beginning to believe that the concensus community…witness realclimate…, for whatever reason, do not want an honest, open debate. That is, however, the sine qua non of a scientifically and morally appropriate communication strategy regarding climate; as it is, indeed, any straightforward communication strategy…with the exception, perhaps, inside the courtroom.

      • John Hewitt


        Very well said! Once you realise the bad faith [and worse] of Mann and his cohorts it becomes very difficult to accept any evidence of AGW, from whatever source. If SM one day says he thinks its real then I will sit up and take notice!

    • I was going to repeat the same quote and make the same point, but you beat me to it.

      How much research is “a lot”? It seems to me that the research can only resolve the issues over the next two decades, and the amount of research being carried out will accomplish the task. I think that “too much, too soon” may harm the long-term effort.

      The hardest concept to live with for any length of time is “maybe”. that’s the concept that the current evidence most strongly supports: CO2 induced global warming may be benign; CO2 induced global warming may be disastrous. Some sincere people think that the possibility of a disaster is sufficiently great that they can not in good conscience remain silent or inactive while the holocaust develops. Some sincere people believe that such dire warnings constitute self-aggrandizement or hucksterism (and Al Gore, whom I think honest, has found a way to make a substantial fortune by issuing well-packaged dire warnings.)

      What policy follows from “maybe”? Pretty much what we have: inconsistent govt policies, dithering, starting and stopping, “rent-seeking”. That’s basically what I support, what others might call a “mishegas”, or “unholy mess”. So that, over the course of the next few decades, as the accumulating evidence becomes more conclusive, true commitments of the public will be easier to enlist, and no possibility will have been missed due to premature decisions in other directions.

      • I think that “too much, too soon” may harm the long-term effort.

        This is a profound point that about the science that it’s very nice to see articulated.

        What policy follows from “maybe”? Pretty much what we have: inconsistent govt policies, dithering, starting and stopping, “rent-seeking”. That’s basically what I support, what others might call a “mishegas”, or “unholy mess”.

        I have a lot of time for this view too. But we have to be very careful how our ‘dithering’ affects the efforts of developing countries to get the next billion onto the electricity grid. That’s a matter of life and death, every day of delay.

        The western ‘consensus’ about DDT is for me the same. Every leader in Africa feels quite differently about it, as they battle with malaria. DDT isn’t banned – but there are myriads of ways in which the western countries make it difficult to use, to the great detriment of the very poorest.

        Some readers may well feel that we’re right about DDT and may be quite unaware of the views of men like Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the subject (as I was until very recently): that this is a terrible example of a new kind of imperialism.

        My fear is that in our ‘dithering’ about CAGW we likewise make it much more difficult for Africa to use its plenteous coal for cheap electricity. And we won’t even notice the drastic negative effects – just as today we are being asked for donations to help those suffering drought in the horn of Africa but nobody mentions the prior impact of biofuel subsidies on world food prices that has contributed so much to this. Let alone takes responsibility for it.

      • MattStat, Richard,

        Your comments are representative of what we should reach in the discussion and analysis of climate policies. The uncertainties are real and will remain real for years to come. Many of the proposed policies would result in something totally different from their stated goals, and that might mean either that they are almost worthless in reaching their primary goal or that they have costs and side effects that exceed their benefits by a large margin.

        Acting as that would not be true is counterproductive, but it’s equally unjustified to conclude that these problems are a good enough reason for putting the whole issue aside and continuing as if the whole climate change is not a potentially large risk or that it could be easily handled, when the information is certain.

        The state of knowledge on climate improves so slowly and the general picture remains close to the present long enough to make it necessary to shift a major part of the discussion to the issue of policy choice under that kind of major uncertainty that we have at present.

        Judith has stated repeatedly that we need robust policies. That has been also my theme in many comments, but what does that really mean? My answer is that it must take long term considerations into account through qualitative and semiquantitative analysis of scenarios and persistent constraints, but the concrete policies must be finally formulate having shorter term efficiency has the dominant quantitative basis.

        Some longer term benefits may perhaps be included as real options, whose values are estimated using dynamic optimization or some related tools to calculate a reasonable option value, but it must be accepted that any calculation of the net present values of policies over 100 or 200 years are totally without real basis. The are as hopeless as similar calculations would have been 100 years ago for estimating the value of policy decisions of that time for the well-being of this century. The long term issues must be considered using some other approaches.

      • You fail to address what is most lacking from CAGW proponents, what is the best temperature! CAGW proponents invariably argue from a standpoint that the current temperature and CO2 levels are what is best for the earth and the human race. Focusing entirely on the bad things, points to manipulation, not good policy making. This is an assumption that I never see questioned and very little data about. It is what makes me a skeptic.

        If a temperature rise of 2C or 4C would postpone the next glacial by years, centuries, or millennia it would certainly be a good thing for all life on the planet. Why is so little research being done on the good things a temperature rise would cause? Don’t tell me that the GCM’s won’t forecast regionally, one only needs to assume regional increases to develop effects.

        There is one thing known for certain, there will be another glacial period in our future. If you’re worried about the suffering it will bring, maybe the “precautionary principle” needs to be delved into more deeply. Is some suffering with rising temperatures worth it if the next glacial is postponed?

  10. The best solution is to make our societies prepared for climate change, whichever direction that change might take. This pragmatic policy would defuse the politics of climate change, and enable scientists to regain objectivity with respect to the data and its uncertainties.

    A good start would be to build up some food stocks. The Pharaoh’s of ancient Egypt understood this necessity. Insulation for homes and a robust energy supply system should be at the top of the agenda too.

  11. “Communicating climate science” and “risk communication about climate change” are two very different things.

  12. None of the AGW promotion is going to stop as long as it is lucrative.
    And it is very lucrative.

    • hunter, your point is fundamental. Dr. Curry cannot make serious comment on the motivations of AGW promotion without mentioning this. I wonder why she chose to ignore it.


      • I guess we’re supposed to think that AGW promotion is based on volunteerism. I doubt that it is.


      • There’s a difference between not mentioning something and ignoring it. Possible reasons for not mentioning it would be
        1. keeping the discussion within reasonable bounds
        2. not having enough quantitative information on the subject
        3. not wanting to be thought a mad conspiracist.
        These might not deter all of us but they might reasonably give pause for thought for some of us!

      • Richard, recognizing that money is a motivating factor is not the result of conspiratorial thinking, but simple observation.


      • Of course. But such lines of thinking are often mocked as mad conspiracism. Sometimes it’s simpler not to go there. I was suggesting pragmatism as a possible motive for our host.

      • Simpler is doing what your opponents want you to. Smarter is something else altogether.

    • Where do I pick up my check, then?

      I know of one prominent climate communicator who basically bowed out once he had had his first child and is now an unassuming software engineer, because he needed the money.

      It seems to me that advocacy against taking AGW seriously supports many more people than advocacy in favor of taking it seriously, and pays better. Also, it seems that funding for climate science is far less secure than it would have been if it were uncontroversial, in which case it would have remained (as it should be) a keystone of NASA.

      This claim of “lucrative” does apply to some alternative energy sectors, and I think it is a mistake for advocates to dismiss the scale of the adaptation operation and the potential for abuse, but there is nothing “lucrative” about climate science per se, nor about trying to communicate it and its implications. I wish it were a bit easier to make a decent living doing it.

      • Bad Andrew

        “Tens of thousands of interested persons benefit directly from the global warming scare—at the expense of the ordinary consumer. Environmental organizations globally, such as Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and the Environmental Defense Fund, have raked in billions of dollars. Multi-billion-dollar government subsidies for useless mitigation schemes are large and growing. Emission trading programs will soon reach the $100 billion a year level, with large fees paid to brokers and those who operate the scams,” Singer explained on June 30, 2007.”

        MT, evidently you need to keep looking around for better paying job opportunities. ;)


      • What about climate scientists? Well, university lecturers and professors earn an average of $49.88 an hour over a 1,600-hour work year, for a total salary of about $80,000. In the public sector, “atmospheric, earth, marine, and space sciences teachers, postsecondary” earn considerably more than the average university teacher ($70.61 per hour). They also work much less (1,471 hours each year), and despite their lower workload, they pull down about $104,000 a year. Climate scientists’ hourly pay ranks them higher than business-school teachers at public universities, who earn $63.35 an hour, but not public-sector law-school professors, who earn over $100 an hour.

        So climate scientists are very well compensated, out-earning all other faculty outside of law in hourly-wage terms. What about the rest of the public sector? Astonishingly, only one other public-sector profession — psychiatrist — pays better than climate science, at just over $73 an hour. In other words, climate scientists have the third-highest-paid public-sector job, ranking above judges.

        What about the private sector? That’s led by airline pilots, who earn about $112 an hour, but work for only 1,100 hours a year, followed by company CEOs at an average of $91 an hour. Physicians and surgeons earn almost as much as CEOs, at $89.51 an hour. Private-sector law-school professors, interestingly enough, earn far less than their public-school counterparts, at $82 an hour. After that come professor-level jobs in engineering, at $76.11, and dentists, at $73.19. These are the only private-sector professions that pay more than climate science. Taking the public and private sectors together, by my reckoning, climate scientist is the tenth-highest-paid profession in the nation.

        Bear in mind that these averages are statistical means, and are therefore inflated by extremely high salaries at the top end, particularly in the case of CEOs and physicians. If we look at median earnings — what the earner right in the middle of the pack gets — we see that climate scientists get $75.29 an hour, compared with private-sector CEOs at $75.48 and physicians at $81.73.

      • The Bureau of Labor Statistics 90th percentile hourly wage for environmental scientists and geoscientists is $49.26 – much less than the figure quoted above for teachers grouped together for a variety of disciplines that sciences.

        The figure for plumbers and pipefitters is 41.10. They are probably worth at least as much, but how about the CEO’s at $91? Is one CEO worth two plumbers or two geoscientists? Or is it the other way around?

        I won’t try to answer that question, but I wonder why the National Review neglected to give the figure for geoscientists and environmental scientists but then claimed that climate science was a lucrative profession.

        In the Bureau’s listing, I didn’t see a line for National Review editor.

      • Fred,
        But plumbers and pipefitters do a useful job.

      • You’re not the only one who thinks so. My wife often tells me she should have married a plumber.

      • Michael,
        Please do not propose seriously that promoting AGW fear has not been a very lucrative industry.

      • Yes, the competition amongst current and wannabe rent-seekers is intense, isn’t it? Their supply will always exceed demand.

  13. Theo Goodwin

    I agree with Professor Curry’s statement. I would add one thing. People who are scientists and advocate for CAGW are putting science at risk. In the USA, science has an incredibly good name. That name has been put at risk by people who use their reputations as scientists to directly advocate for CAGW and by people who make a loan of their reputation to the Al Gores. The public is learning that it is no longer true that scientists do science. One of the things scientists do today is make false claims to the effect that there is a consensus of scientists that manmade CO2 is the driver for dangerous global warming. The institution of science in the USA will pay for that mistake.

    In the worst case, there are a few scientists who have gone “post-modern” on us and who argue that, in principle and in fact, there is no distinction between being a working scientist and advocating for particular policy proposals. In effect, they are teaching the public that it was naive to believe that old saw about scientific objectivity. It is not possible to do greater harm to the public’s trust of science.

    Finally, would the CAGW people please stop scaring the children? That is inexcusable moral harm.

  14. Scientists should care about the proper application of the scientific method even if all politicians do not and even if the facts conflict with the religious beliefs of the consensus. The null hypothesis of AGW theory has never been rejected. Everything else is dogma.

  15. I’ll go with Instapundit:

    “I’ll believe it’s a crisis when the people who tell me it’s a crisis start acting like it’s a crisis. Until they start foregoing private jets and beachside mansions, it’s going to be hard for me to take their calls for sacrifice on my part seriously.”

  16. Whenever I do a post on this topic, hard core skeptics invariably object, implying the goal of better communication about climate science is to “con” the public into supporting the preferred policy options of the climate establishment.

    In my honest opinion, AGW has not reached the policy stage.

    AGW would be proven if the global mean temperature pattern continues its 30-years pattern shown below.

    AGW would be disproved if the global mean temperature pattern continues its 130-years pattern shown below.

    Before validating AGW, to take any policy will be harmful because the policy would not be based on validated science.

    In Australia, they have succeeded in calling CO2 a pollutant, and the parliament is going to pass a CO2 tax.

    AGW is a very sad story for science.

    CO2 + H2O + Sunlight + Soil => Plant food

    CO2 is the gas that we all exhale.

    Fire and volcanoes naturally release CO2.

    How can a foundation of life be a pollutant?

  17. No matter who writes about this, they always end up saying the same thing: the objective of communication is to persuade people to support action. That’s not communication, that’s prosthelytizing.

    This writer seems to can come to that conclusion, but is afraid to come out and say it in those words.

  18. So many damn words in self-consciously over professional tones have been wasted on a huge argument about the weather. Seaskeptics show little interest in speaking up in the comments sections of the daily dose of alarmist news articles, so

  19. Western civilization is falling but it can still be a nice place to live for a while. What is going on from Greece to California is just a soft boot to the system. The hard boot comes when the third world and developing countries no longer feel the need to translate lies from English to Chinese and Hindi.

    • Wagathon, you say: “Western civilization is falling but it can still be a nice place to live for a while. What is going on from Greece to California is just a soft boot to the system. The hard boot comes when the third world and developing countries no longer feel the need to translate lies from English to Chinese and Hindi.”
      I for one, would like to read your reasons and analysis of the approaching decline, with great interest. What caused the coming ‘fiscal demise’ of the worlds democracies? I want to know what to tell my great grandchildren.
      And I am unable, to speak either Chinese or Hindi.

  20. ferd berple

    How can a foundation of life be a pollutant?

    Water and oxygen are both deadly as concentrations rise. H2O is the by far the largest greenhouse gas. Breathing out humans emit both CO2 and H2O, and the H2O is by far the larger greenhouse gas. We should tax all human sources of evaporation. Irrigation for example. And swimming pools. Watering the lawn. If we are going to tax CO2, why not H2O?

    • It’s a spoof but no warmists have yet to go down this road;

      or this

      There is of course what the establishment does in ignoring water vapour as a ghg. The doe/epa doesn’t even score it because it dwarfs all the other gases they wish to regulate. It’s a total sham of course to magnify lesser inputs. More junk science reasoning which is worse than the science itself. Nothing upsets alarmist more than discussing the quantity of inputs between nature and humans. The veins in the neck protrude and the invectives start. That’s how we get the anti-science “compounding” of “human” co2 over centuries to obfuscate man’s relative small input despite a poor understanding of the co2 sink.

      Targeting co2 was carefully thought out politically since the oil and gas industries are so “hated” in broad parts of the leftist masses. Going after water would never have have had the same appeal. Getting water out of the ghg conversation as a constant was and is a key part of the alarmist scam.

      • It makes sense once you embrace CO2 as a “forcing” and water vapor as a “feedback”. Just don’t ask for the lab test results that prove this cause-effect relationship.

    • Sorry to throw science in here, but the answer is Clausius-Clapeyron. Temperature determines atmospheric water vapor, not the other way around. If we somehow injected extra water vapor into the atmosphere it would just condense and rain out, because the amount that can be held by the atmosphere depends on temperature. CO2, on the other hand doesn’t condense at atmospheric temperatures, requiring something less than -140 C, and relative to saturation it is at a fraction of a percent at normal partial pressures and temperatures. These are very different gases.

      • “If we somehow injected extra water vapor into the atmosphere it would just condense and rain out,”

        But lets say we inject the water into the atmosphere close to the ground … like from a sprinkler head in the 59 million acres of irrigated farmland in the USA … or on every lawn on a warm summers day.

        Would that not cause local warming if GHG’s actually cause warming?

        And would that not warm every thermometer nearby?

        And thereby make it seem like its warming more than it is.

      • There have been studies on that, and it is carried downstream and some of it contributes to extra rain there. How much stays in the atmosphere would be minimal compared to what the oceans put in daily, and the global radiation budget is determined mostly by the ocean areas where there is already a lot of water vapor. If you can raise all the land to those humidity levels, you might have an effect.

      • Nice try Jim.

        I’m not talking about the stratosphere.

        The effect I am talking about is on nearby thermometers.

        Either water vapor is a GHG or it isn’t … right?

        “This study has established that there are significant differences in temperature trends
        between weather stations sited at urban, agricultural, and low impact locations. In addition, it has been shown that urban stations exhibit significantly higher trends, which are created by numerous urban factors that are not related to global CO2 levels. Evidence has also been provided that agricultural locations experience a warming trend related to increases in humidity.

      • Don’t you think the evaporation effect would far outweigh any radiative effect when you spray water into the air? You can stand in a field of sprinklers and see if it cools down or warms up. I think it cools down.

      • The paper says otherwise.

        And this one:

        “The University of Alabama at Huntsville issued the following news release:

        The same irrigation that turned California’s Central Valley from desert into productive farmland is probably also to blame for summer nights there getting noticeably warmer.

        Irrigation has turned much of the San Joaquin Valley’s dry, light-colored soil dark and damp, says Dr. John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). While the valley’s light, dry desert ground couldn’t absorb or hold much heat energy, the dark, damp irrigated fields “can absorb heat like a sponge in the day and then, at night, release that heat into the atmosphere.””

      • You are confusing infra red effects with albedo. This is not the way the greenhouse effect works.

      • Temperature determines CO2 too, not the other way around.

      • Funny, thanks.

      • You’re welcome. Your point about water vapor being condensing gas is of course correct.

        Don’t you agree that temperature determines CO2?

      • Do you mean by absorption/release by oceans?

      • Yes.

        But I mean generally, without applying any explanation, that it can be observed that temperature determines CO2. I don’t even have to know what cause this relationship, for a start.

      • Your statement was that CO2 can’t change temperature, which is, of course, denying the greenhouse effect (and I view as a funny viewpoint). The point, which I should have made clearer is that while water vapor contributes a lot to the greenhouse effect, it is not easy to just increase it like we can with CO2.

      • As far as I know everybody agrees that there is no atmospheric greenhouse effect. The issue is radiative warming effect of CO2. The evidence shows that it either does not exist or it’s insignificant.

        And the fact that temperature does determine CO2, makes it very hard for CO2 to have a warming effect on temperature. It’s theoretically possible, but VERY VERY strong negative feedbacks are necessary.

      • You can complain about the accepted term ‘greenhouse effect’, but to actually say CO2 has no significant radiative effect is not a scientifically supportable view. The fields of spectroscopy and quantum physics have established this well before climate science used it.

      • Jim,

        That’s what I call simpleton science. For example:

        If you eat more fat, your body will store it and you will gain weight. In the real world it almost never works. In fact, eating more fat seems to make people loose weight.

      • You can call quantum physics and spectroscopy simpleton science, but I call it basic science.

      • Mr. Jim D, Just some of my own observations of greenhouses…I have never seen a tornado in a greenhouse. I have never seen a cyclone in a greenhouse. I have never seen a hurricane in a greenhouse. I have never seen a dust storm in a greenhouse. I have never seen a snowstorm in a greenhouse. I have never seen a rain squall in a greenhouse… just where is your:”Green-House”?

      • Jim,

        No. The LEAP from radiative properties of CO2 to atmospheric CO2 warming effect is simpleton science.

      • Tom, a “greenhouse effect” in its common usage now occurs anywhere where sunlight can get in but heat can not escape easily whether by convection or radiation leading to an accumulation of heat relative to where it can escape more easily.

      • Edim, first you say CO2 has no significant radiative effect, which is against what physics proves, and you need to make that argument against physics before applying your argument to the atmosphere which is just where the physics is observed to take place.

      • Jim,

        The burden of proof is not on me. I am just trying to falsify. My belief in the ignorance of experts is “robust”.

      • Jim, I understand that it has been put forward and placed into common use by the stakeholders, but you have to admit that the term is an obvious falsehood if used to describe the reality of our planets weather engine. It is, night & day.

      • Tom, I have heard it called an insulating effect, which is less controversial, but doesn’t convey that light gets through basically unaffected, and then the energy is trapped more than it would be without the effect.

      • and <600 ppm is very very small as is an increase of <1% each year.

        He may be correct, and more life may requires more CO2 or more warmth.

      • ferd berple

        “If we somehow injected extra water vapor into the atmosphere it would just condense and rain out, because the amount that can be held by the atmosphere depends on temperature. ”

        And as H2O condenses it releases heat into the atmosphere. So, the more water vapor, the more you heat the atmosphere, the more H2O the atmosphere can hold.

        This is the argument put forward for positive feedback from CO2. That it isn’t the CO2 that is the problem greater the feedback effect on H2O.

        However, this same argument applies to H2O itself. As you add H2O it will warm the atmosphere and if the small amount of warming from Co2 is a problem, then the fantastically huge warming created by extra H2O will dwarf CO2 in comparison.

        Of course the observed decrease in actual H2O observed over the past 30 years should have been proof positive that CAGW is false, that there is no positive feedback, thus no cause for alarm, but of course this evidence is ignored as it doesn’t fit the belief system.

    • Water is certainly a pollutant in Minot right now.

      • On the other hand, maybe Minot is a pollutant in the water?

      • But only because environmentalists caused the Corps of Engineers’ priorities to be shifted away from flood control. But for environmentalists and their political machinations, Minot would not have a problem with water.

  21. I’ve written this before on Keith Kloor’s blog to little avail but o me the problem is not the way the ideas are being communicated but the fact that people steadfastly deny that this debate is political. Each side tries to pretend that the debate is scientific and that their side has conclusive scientific proof. The goal of this is to enforce their preferred political outcomes by insisting that these outcomes are compelled by scientific certainty and necessity.

    Their is nothing shameful about politics. it is the way our society chooses the way forward. However there is much wrong when people deny the reality of politics and try to present it as something else. Judith Curry writes about the value-ladenness and prescriptive nature of communication about AGW. naturally it is this way. it is political rhetoric. If we accept that politics is the way that societal choices must be made then perhaps then we can have an honest debate about climate change. Perhaps then the important political issues (consumption, individualism, social justice, redistribution …) that are hidden by this pretense of a scientific debate can be brought to the surface and resolved.

    Politics is not a shameful secret unless it is made secret.

    • I have quoted this before.

      ‘Although it has failed to produce its intended impact nevertheless the Kyoto Protocol has performed an important role. That role has been allegorical. Kyoto has permitted different groups to tell different stories about themselves to themselves and to others, often in superficially scientific language. But, as we are increasingly coming to understand, it is often not questions about science that are at stake in these discussions. The culturally potent idiom of the dispassionate scientific narrative is being employed to fight culture wars over competing social and ethical values. Nor is that to be seen as a defect. Of course choices between competing values are not made by relying upon scientific knowledge alone. What is wrong is to pretend that they are.’

      The Wrong Trousers: Radically Rethinking Climate Policy
      Gwyn Prins & Steve Rayner

      • Thanks for the quotation. However, as evidenced by the responses to this posting, the culture war carries on. It would not matter very much of this as confined to commenters on blogs. However when scientists do it, it becomes very dangerous for the world.

        Scientists are naive politicians and naive politicians are very dangerous

  22. You might be interested in this article, about motives in ‘climate communication’:

    Why are natural disasters linked to climate change? Answers from a public relations convention

  23. Sounds like psychologist mumbo jumbo to me. Real evidence and honesty will convince people not probability models and long term predictions.

    • gcapologist

      Big problem is, it’s quite common for agenda pushers to play fast and loose with honesty, iow there is a lot of dishonesty out there.

  24. I would suggest that communication needs to address the issue of honesty, and also a few unanswered questions.

    If more CO2 will lead to a catastrophic tipping point (e.g. at 400 ppm), why did the climate not tip over many times already in earth’s history when CO2 concentrations were much higher than that? Has that ever been addressed?

    Knowledgeable skeptics know that in recent history, e.g. the Medieval Warm period, earth was warmer than now from natural factors; are we willing to hogtie our economy before we know to what extent natural factors are at work right now? Will “better communication” make us wonder about this a bit less? I don’t think so.

    W/respect to honesty, where is the take-back for that Hockey Stick graph? Most who follow the discussion understand that heavy manipulation of a tiny subset of data was needed to get that shape, which was published in the face of all scientific and historical knowledge of the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period, which the Hockey Stick cheerfully erased.

    There will need to be a few forgiven mea culpas and a great deal less stonewalling and data-hiding before any improvements to “communication” will have any effect at all.

    Why did it take Climategate to expose the publicly-funded publicly-financed publicly-owned source code and data used to make multi-billion dollar public policy decisions?

    Without answers to questions like these and many others, every communication is going to be automatically suspect no matter how well it played to the test-marketing groups.

    • After thinking about this, I believe the communication issue could be solved for many of us in a single blog post:

      Describe what percent of the greenhouse effect is water vapor, what percent is CO2.

      We know that atmospheric CO2 is approaching 400 parts per million (ppm).

      So that’s 400/1,000,000 = .0004, or 4/100 of 1%.

      Of that 4/100 of 1% of the atmosphere that is CO2, how much is naturally occurring, and what portion is contributed by mankind? 10%? 90%? I don’t know. It would be good to have that communicated.

      After that, a clear discussion, based on peer-reviewed publications (“science”), demonstrating the empirically-verified mechanism by which the human contribution of CO2 makes the difference between climate warming naturally and a climate that could be up to 6 degrees hotter in 89 years.

      That’s all the communication we need.

      • Can you link to a peer-reviewed paper that claims we will tip upon reaching 400 ppm?

        Can you link to a peer-reviewed paper that proves the earth was warmer during MWP than it is now, and that this warmer earth, during the Medieval Ages, was caused solely by nature?

  25. So many damn words in self-consciously professional tones have been wasted on a huge argument about the weather. Seasoned skeptics show little interest in speaking up in the comments sections of the daily dose of alarmist news articles that can be found via Google news or Tom Nelson’s WordPress blog, and basic data that falsifies alarmist claims is usually ignored by skeptics too. Hundreds of posts a day here and at WUWT represent an opportunity cost, a squandering of effectiveness, as few laypersons can delve straight into the often quite arcane mathematical arguments and few AGW enthusiasts show up any more on such sites who are any better than textbook trolls, so WUWT appears to laypeople to be an echo chamber sprinkled with extremely convoluted arguments, while the censorship tactics of alarmist blogs make it appear that skeptical voices are meager and trivially debunked. That leaves the daily news as an under utilized public platform to present basic arguments.

    The most profound argument I have found is hiding in plain light yellow site in Church & White’s latest sea level update. There is no trend change in a simple average of tide gauges going back 150 years! That this debate continues in spite of this blatant falsification of alarmist claims is due to the failure of skeptics to stay on topic and confront alarmists with such basic data. I have been a serious skeptic for several years and yet I hadn’t even run into this plot until quite recently. I’m not Superman and am running out of funds to allow me to spend time each day being the sole person presenting this plot to the public on news sites. The nastiness of AGW supporters takes its toll, like too many mosquitos on a camping trip, and biting flies too. I thought it would be so *simple* to convince people, based on proper presentation of basic anti-AGW data, yet I can’t even convince *skeptics* of the profundity of basic sea level and thermometer records.

    Strongly pointing out that it’s *not* O.K. to title a plot “sea level” when in fact it is a fantasy value based on strictly partisan “corrections” to actual sea level, would go a long way in ending a time and resource squandering debate. But it’s not being done.

    • Nik, it’s possible to improve your understanding of the science you are reading. Try:
      (Rahmstorf on Houston and Dean, 2011, and Church and White, 2011)

      • That’s propaganda.

      • Buzz Fledderjohn

        Ah, a very convenient deflector shield you have there. Science that you don’t want to believe is therefore propaganda.

      • It’s obviously propaganda. Or if you don’t like the word propaganda, how about protection of the paradigm? It’s surely no science according to the scientific method.

        However it is science as usual. I think Kuhn called it normal science. Business as usual. The science Feynman didn’t like and spoke so much against (fooling yourself). I don’t consider it science at all. It’s a dogma and an obstacle to progress in science.

      • “In summary, we find that the deceleration in sea-level rise
        reported by Houston and Dean either applies to a far-too-brief
        time interval (since 1993)…

        At least they agree that the deceleration is happening. I am curious how they will react when it starts to drop significantly.

  26. simon abingdon

    Maybe we would like to think that science was just the disinterested pursuit of understanding how the world works. (Rather like G H Hardy’s attitude to pure mathematics in a different context).

    But the Manhattan project was science in pursuit of a political objective. Supremo Leslie Groves was basically a reluctant skeptic. But he was wrong; Trinity happened and science in the US enjoyed decades of respect as a result (in addition to winning the War).

    Are the Hockey Team working on a Manhattan equivalent? The prospect of a Trinity for them (viz any startling and convincing evidence) seems remote and absurd. Perhaps they’re men of not quite the same calibre as Oppenheimer’s team. .

  27. Strange responses to this post – the usual memes about fraud and how “lucrative” climate science is. To all those folks, I ask: What are scientists supposed to do? Fund their own research from their (often) meagre salaries?

    As to the perception of risk and whether people are amenable to change – It seems to me that most people :”change” when (1) there appears to be something in it for them, or (2) when the change appears to be an easy fix that can be accomplished with little effort. As an example, at the grocery store check-out, some woman’s magazine was promising a “miracle” supplement that “literally melts fat cells”. That’s the same mentality that gave us myths like “cold fusion”, corn ethanol, and yes, the idea that renewables woudl save us from fossil fuel depletion.

    Bottom line, most people are unlikely to change using their own willpower. The diet industry dependson it, and our failure to form any sort of effective climate policy (either domesitcally or internationally) is testament to politicians knowing their public only too well.

    • Andy, if one reads scientific articles at places like Physorg, one immediately realizes a pattern whereby scientists tack on some stupidity (usually a couple of sentences) about how this paper relates to climate like change … kind of like reflexive genuflecting to a god or deity.

      Even when the paper’s real results actually undermine AGW, there is usually a sentence like “In no way does this paper undermine the climate change consensus” even when it does. I usually mentally translate those sentences into: “Please don’t take away my grant money for accidentally doing science.”

      Science is corrupted. If you don’t admit that, it is way too late to save science.

      “Bottom line, most people are unlikely to change using their own willpower.”

      Yeah … kind of like :

      “Use transfat margarine. It’s better for you than butter.”

      “Use CFL’s, and don’t worry about the mercury or them dying 1 year into the 6 year life claimed … its good for you”

      “Windmills are so environmentally friendly … and a good source for dead eagles to cook.”

      “Don’t whine when the windmills won’t produce any electricity in those calm cold days in December … my university has backup power”.

      Andy, nothing you say (or the people like you say) is believable.

      You’ve blown it.

    • “What are scientists supposed to do?”

      They can start off by not accepting/utilizing resources pre-ordained to produce Global Warming stories. Yes, that might take some fortitude on the scientists’ part, but that would be the event that would mark the beginning of making them actual scientists again.


    • If CAGW science got the the amount of money that went into the myth of Cold Fusion, I couldn’t be happier. It would have withered on the vine long ago.

      But corn ethanol is still going strong thanks to government regulations that mandate its use regardless of its relative cost or sense.

      • Stephen,

        It doesn’t matter if it’s $1.50 total. Dirty money is dirty money and should always be rejected.


    • “Bottom line, most people are unlikely to change using their own willpower. The diet industry dependson it, and our failure to form any sort of effective climate policy (either domesitcally or internationally) is testament to politicians knowing their public only too well.”

      Progressive politicians, lusting for the massive expansion of government power that Copenhagen would have given them, failed to sign the treaty they all wanted because their voters were beginning to realize what they were about to do and were revolting. And this is “testament to politicians knowing their public only too well?” Well I should hope so.

      Your comparison of democracy to the diet industry only shows your own contempt for the former.

      By the way, we have an effective climate policy. It is the very democratic form of government (and free market economic system) that you so disdain. It worked brilliantly in Copenhagen, and with any luck, it is poised to expand its ability to work wonders beginning November 6, 2012.

    • Andy Park,
      Scientists should be telling the truth and not shaping the message, or hiring the likes of Moon or Craven, and not setting out to mislead.
      Scientists should be demonstrating integrity of process, transparency of interests and integrity in their work.

  28. “but I have to admit that it is the goal of many, and certainly of Al Gore. As I’ve interpreted it, the UNFCCC/IPCC ideology regards the physical basis of climate science as part and parcel of climate change being dangerous and the need for mitigatory action.”

    To millions of followers of the consensus they would argue, gratuitously in most cases, that there is no eco-green, statist, alarmist ideology. Climate science has been a willing tool bought and paid for, so while I hear the regrets and distancing it’s a fools paradise talking about focusing on the “science” when in the real world the politics were so much more important and conclusive.

    If climate science wasn’t willing to be on the alarmist agenda there would no IPCC at all and billions in grants would never have paid. Cold stone facts shouldn’t be that hard to “admit” and if there is collective guilt about how educated people benefited from this contrived science for politics agenda the world deserves more than admitting the obvious.

  29. Great deal of the current communication from the both sides reminds me of two broken gramophones shrieking at each other
    AGW crowd : It’s CO2, it’s CO2, it’s CO2….
    Sceptics’ armada: It’s the Sun, it’s the Sun, it’s the Sun…
    Certainly there is a bit of each but not enough to justify the cantankerous attitudes of either side.

  30. The author’s email to Keith Kloor gives away the game from the start.

    “What’s the goal of risk communication about climate change? To get people to ‘believe’? To see the issue the way the communicator wants them to? To get people to do what the communicator wants them to do? Or is it just to impart information so people can make up their own minds…which, frankly, sounds wonderfully moral and democratic and all, but…let’s be honest here…is less than what the people concerned about climate change really want.”

    The question “what is the goal of risk communication about climate change” should be, what should be what is the goal of journalists (or scientists) in communicating information about risk? If you define yourself as a journalist, scientist, teacher, etc., then the comment “is it just to impart information so people can make up their own minds” might not be so easily dismissed. But if you are a “communicator of risk about climate change,” then you can more easily disregard the niceties of morality (honesty) and democracy (letting the voters decide).

    It used to be considered that the goal of journalism was exactly to “impart information so people can make up their own minds….” But that era died when Woodward and Bernstein got famous. Now everybody wants to have an “impact.” Who wants to give the public information so they can make up their own minds. It is so much more fun to slant the information, package it, reframe it, to get those stupid sheep to do what you, the journalist (scientist, blogger, whatever) know is best for them.

    “..which, frankly, sounds wonderfully moral and democratic and all, but….”

    Maybe if those trying to “communicate risk” regarding “climate change,” did not find “morality” and “democratic” to be such quaint, easily dismissed concepts, the debate might look just a wee bit different. Simply put, the answer to the question “is it just to impart information so people can make up their own minds,” is an unequivocal yes. The writer should have stopped there, and if he weren’t a “climate concerned,” “impact” journalist, he probably would have.

    • And “communicate risk” is weasel-wording, anyhow. Communication about the actual likelihood of warming, and then of untoward consequences thereof, would be fair ball. Harping on concocted dangers to motivate ceding of large diversions of public funds to deflect them, administered by the harpers, is not.

  31. There are a lot of academics who would be in jail right now if they were held to the same standards for scientists in the private sector.

  32. David L. Hagen

    Changing the language from
    “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming”
    “climate change”
    is an explicit example of such manipulation.

    Furthermore, “Do you believe in climate change”
    is an explicit equivocation used to deceive and distort the public debate.

  33. . Whenever I do a post on this topic, hard core skeptics invariably object, implying the goal of better communication about climate science is to “con” the public into supporting the preferred policy options of the climate establishment. That is not my personal goal in communicating climate, but I have to admit that it is the goal of many, and certainly of Al Gore.

    Why “certainly of Al Gore”? Al Gore certainly thinks he is justified in his concern and wants to persuade people to share that concern: that is only a “con” if he is not sincere in his concern (like Willie Soon, “skepticism”‘s million dollar baby) or deliberately deceptive (like Monckton, or Bob Carter, or Wegman, etc., etc.) then we could accuse Gore of emulating his lying, cheating, manipulative counterparts on the other side of the issue.

    But I don’t think you’ve made a case for that.

    • Al’s con was exposed in his movie. And continues to be revealed in his lifestyle.

      • Brian G Valentine

        His actions prove he doesn’t believe a word he says! If he doesn’t believe it, why should anybody else?

        Why should anybody in their right mind believe it?

    • Theo Goodwin

      Al Gore argues from the products of science, for example the Hockey Stick, but has no comprehension whatsoever of the science behind the Hockey Stick. That means he is lying. This is plain old common sense. If I sell you my company’s brand of widget and I explain in great detail that this widget has the same performance characteristics as the best selling widget but my widget does not have those characteristics then I was lying. It is no excuse to say that my employer told me it had the same characteristics. I offered an explanation that was totally smoke screen. It was smoke screen because I did not understand the claims I made. That was the lie. Al Gore lies every time he uses some scientific claim to support his CAGW agenda because the man has demonstrated time and again that in the arena of science he is clueless.

    • His shameless profiteering and refusal to debate (a politician afraid of debate!) sez otherwise. As does his buying green offsets from his own firms to justify his profligate lifestyle.

      If he meets your standards for probity and sincerity, then you’d have to stretch your arms upwards to the fingertips to touch a snake’s belly.

    • Richard Saumarez

      Was Wegman a deliberate con? I’ve read his report and it appears a model of objective analysis. However, I’ve probably missed something.

    • David L. Hagen

      “or deliberately deceptive (like ***)”
      Giving no evidence, lay off the ad hominem accusation of moral failure and address how to communicate science and policy.
      I find Carter clearly presents evidence and context that is commonly ignored.


    Mueller (3:24): And what do you say to politicians and media who tell us every day to be active for the climate?

    Prof. Malberg: My conclusion is one that is completely different: I say it is a basic human right to have clean air, clean water, uncontaminated soil and an ecological system that is intact. That means the highest priority is environmental protection. But humans do not have “a right to a stable climate”. That just does not exist. It never has existed. What is natural about the climate system is that it is not constant, it always changes. When people speak so often about species dying, then one has to address environmental protection, and not assign everything to climate protection, and to blame it all on a phantom.

    What a little transparency (climategate) and a little cooling can do. It makes the camel go through the eye of a needle easily!

  35. “But I don’t think you’ve made a case for that.”

    I think the case is made that global warming is nothing more than a political issue or it would not be left versus right issue.

  36. The merits of communicating climate change risk aside, I agree that it has been done to spur action to mitigate CO2 emissions. Regardless of whether it was justified, I believe that in furthering its own objectives, it has been a huge success, and in turn has provoked a huge backlash that has been a partial success. The public is more sympathetic than 30 years ago to the advocacy position that we are changing the climate in potentially damaging ways, and that we should act to forestall the harm. Enthusiasm for specific actions is less evident, particularly during an economic downturn, when people are more concerned with immediate threats than more distant ones. The backlash has increased resistance to any actions that require important changes in the way we live, even if some of the changes are not necessarily burdensome in an objective sense.

    For anyone interested in how this might dictate an overall climate change advocacy strategy from the vantage point of hindsight – one that is both morally defensible and effective – I suppose it might be the following: Publicize the risks as widely as possible, explaining why you think they are what they are – until the public begins to resist being pushed. Then change to an approach that more directly engages those who disagree, while continuing to explain why you hold your views, advocate measures that almost everyone can agree on (e.g., higher energy efficiency and national energy independence), and focus on political action at a more local or regional level… And during all of this, say nothing that you know to be untruthful or designed to create an impression you believe is false. When you are telling your side of story, make clear you are doing just that.

    Promoting a position without deliberately trying to create false impressions is a tightrope act (much harder than simply trying to avoid lying), but it’s possible. Usually it means explaining the basis for your conclusions while acknowledging that others can provide reasons for theirs.

    My overall impression is that in retrospect, climate change advocates who have promoted their position honestly should not have acted differently in the past, but have been slow to recognize the need to adapt to a changing political landscape. Dishonesty has never been acceptable, and while some degree of selectivity is inevitable in a debate, egregious cherry picking crosses the line.

    My own views of the science itself are described elsewhere – mainly in the technical threads.

    • The biggest aspect of dishonest communication has been from the scientists themselves. We expect Algore to be Algore. When he and Soros hire hundreds of political operatives to push for Congressional action, we expect them to act as political operatives. We expect Greenpeace and the rest of the NGOs to act as they always do. Politics is what they do. But we had a much different expectation of those who we trusted to do science. And as more and more of their perfidy has been exposed, trust has steadily evaporated.

      The wreck that happened to CAGW policy was that the public began to get wind that the science was not really settled. As more people found out that the hockey stick was broken and “worse than we thought” applied to the science not the climate, more of the public began to wonder just how badly they’d been suckered.

      Effective science communication would include an acknowledgement that science is no longer self-correcting. Where once grad students were trained by replicating important studies, the quest for funding today precludes such replication.

      Effective science communication would acknowledge that the instruments are faulty, the databases lack quality control, that scientists at places like CRU have admitted they can’t even replicate their own work, that the statistics have been butchered often, and the software is substandard.

      Honest and effective science communication would acknowledge that climate science has never had a commitment to quality work, has often seen its most visible practitioners actively frustrate efforts to improve quality, and continues to this day to lack any of the quality processes that the general public expects for work of this importance.

      Finally, effective climate communication would acknowledge all the weaknesses of the climate models and make clear their failure to be verified and validated. It would acknowledge their centrality to the case for supposed catastrophe and their weaknesses on the key of issue of sensitivity and feedback.

      Of course, we will likely never see this type communication from the scientific establishment because it would expose a lot of people as either fools or frauds. And they won’t let that happen without a fight.

      • Very cogent points, Stan This post I will save for later reference.

      • Latimer Alder

        Ain’t that the truth, brother!

        They believed their own propaganda that the Science was Settled. And that anybody who didn’t believe it was either a fool, a charlatan or in the pay of dark forces, and hence could/should/must be treated with contempt and ridicule.

        And that fatal communication miscalculation is coming back to bite them. Under every stone we lift we find sharp practice of some description.

        It may even be that under it all there is a decent scientific case to believe in a modicum of AGW. But there will be very few new converts to that cause. Instead the steady hemorrhage of support will continue as more and more (like Judith here) wise up to their antics. And express their displeasure by no longer believing a word they say.

        Fool me once, shame on me,,but fool me twice.?? Daltrey, Townshend, Moon and Entwistle got it right. Live, not CSI’ed

      • Stan – You are frequently derisive in your broad accusations against current science in general and climate science in particular. As a long time professional scientist, my perceptions differ greatly from yours. I’m therefore curious to know where your perceptions about science come from. Are you a scientist? In what field? Have you published (citations please)? Are you a reviewer of scientific papers? Of grant applications? Are you on the editorial board of any scientific journals?

        This will help all of us evaluate the extent to which you have first hand knowledge of the transgressions you identify.

      • Latimer Alder

        Wow. Now I have really seen everything.

        Fred The Vague and Verbose accuses another correspondent of being ‘broad’ in his commentary!

        Fred – the day you actually cite a specific reference for any of your general and tediously expressed ‘points’ rather than just giving an idle wave towards what you claim as an extensive literature supporting your position, is the day that I will recommend that Stan responds positively to your post.

        Until them I am reminded of the parable; of the plank in one’s own eye compared with the plank in another’s. I fear I rarely read your posts any more since it takes a long time to get to the point where I can conclude that they are content-free. But almost inevitably they are .

      • Planks aside, I read Stan’s post and was hard put to find so much as a mote.

      • Fred, this post of yours shows precisely one of the aspects of this debate about AGW and Climate science which I find abhorrent.
        It is this put-down, from a great height, of someone whose opinion one doesn’t share, with questions about their scientific pedigree etc.
        (You missed asking if his publications were peer-reviewed, btw …)

        This insinuation, that nobody must be allowed to question the sacred AGW science unless they are accredited scientists, is at least snobbish, if not arrogant. People who are not scientists are notlike dumb peasants who must tug their forelocks and do and believe what their ‘betters’ tell them!
        And where is it written that climate scientists understand politics and economics better than ‘ordinary’ people? Climate science is driven by politics, it does not take place in an ivory tower.

      • Latimer Alder

        Just on case anyone is interested, Fred’s role as a scientist appears to be in Cancer Research, not in climate. I can only find one published article to his name ‘Suicide Genes for Cancer Therapy’ in the 1997 edition of ‘Science and Medicine’.

        S&M describes itself as ‘an illustrated review journal’ but does not specify whether its articles are peer-reviewed. ‘It is published in 6 highly illustrated, full-color issues per year, with each containing 4 to 6 expert review articles by involved and respected workers’, So this is not original research.

        But he also appears in public as ‘Senior Climate Fellow’ for PennFuture. Penn Future appears to be an environmental pressure group, substantially financed by The Pew Trust, The Heinz Foundation, The William Penn Foundation, The Keith Campbell Foundation and the Energy Foundation.

        Source for all the above info: Google.

      • Latimer- I’m just a songwriter trying to sell a few tunes via iTunes and other vendors (99 cents or less per song).

        As for my other credentials, I don’t bring them up, but since you did, I’ve published more than 50 papers in peer-reviewed journals, including Science and Nature. I’ve been a reviewer of submitted papers and a journal editorial board member, as well as a grant proposal reviewer and occasional chair of a grant review board. Your scholarship leaves something to be desired.

        But that’s just been my day job. If you want to buy any of my songs, go to my website for further guidance. You can also buy the entire CDs at very affordable prices.

      • Totally OT, but nice music Fred. You need to make the pause button a bit more obvious though, it took a bit of finding so that I could pause the main song and listen to other tracks

      • Thanks. I’ll see if I can fix that.

      • Latimer Alder

        Thanks Fred.

        Good post btw…short and speaks directly to the point at issue.

      • Oh, Fred. I really enjoyed this comment of yours, but probably not as much as I will enjoy putting together a response tomorrow when I have a moment to do so.


    • John Carpenter


      I thought this to be a curious thread on the heels of the two posts on climate sensitivity by Nicholas Lewis. That debate was strictly scientific on sensitivities and PDF’s etc… with a hint of ‘was it appropriate’ for the IPCC to do what Nicholas had ‘uncovered’. Piers Forster commented yesterday on the original thread:

      “I think the blog analysis is roughly correct, but I disagree completely with its interpretation. I disagree strongly that the IPCC authors were at fault for changing the priors and I disagree strongly that the uniform feedback prior is the best choice. Thirdly I disagree on the significance of all of this.”

      He then explains his positions. I was glad to see one of the authors show up and make a comment to help ‘clear the air’ on the appropriateness of the IPCC changing aspects of the original paper. He felt the changes were appropriate;

      “Rather than take our published numbers at face value, they looked very carefully at our paper and took the deliberative step, using their statistical and climate expertise, to modify our results to a uniform prior in sensitivity.”

      How this links into the current thread is interesting to me. Forester, in essence, argues there was no motive for the IPCC to alter the prior to sensitivity, he felt it appropriate. Skeptics have a very different take on this. Anything that is changed from an original result (non-model derived to boot) by the IPCC to increase the sensitivity and PDF to align with the ‘consensus’ becomes ‘suspect’ for motivation.

      I think Forster is completely sincere in his post and even acknowledged in a later reply to Ryan O that;

      “I would not use a uniform sensitivity prior today and agree with Nic, you and Annan that this skews results towards high sensitivities. But in 2006 when the ipcc report was being written I was not that concerned that my result was transformed. I believe it was done for good science reasons at the time.”

      So I doubt he is motivated to push a certain agenda as it were. But I am not so certain about the IPCC as a whole. What I hope researchers like Forster gain from reading this blog, maybe only briefly, is the battle they are up against in convincing educated, intelligent and ordinary folks (and some scientists like myself) who remain skeptical of the process that takes place in delivering the ‘right’ message. There is little wiggle room for not delivering a complete and open accounting of what we know and what we don’t know about how mankind may be altering the climate.

      • John – I agree with you. On the other hand, I’ve also urged “educated, intelligent and ordinary folks (and some scientists)” to make the effort to inform themselves from the scientific literature independent of the IPCC rather than rely primarily on blogs for their climate science knowledge. I have found that blog discussions can be very useful if one comes to them with an adequate background from texts, courses, and the literature. Conversely, in the absence of that background, the danger of acquiring a distorted perspective is very great – sometimes from outright lies but much more often due to cherry picking that leaves a false impression without stating outright falsehoods.

        The recent threads here do a better job than that, but they are atypical.

      • John Carpenter


        You are correct and consistent on being independent of the IPCC to form your own knowledge base on this issue, however, the IPCC is specifically set up to advise policymakers on the ‘science’ of climate change so they can make policies accordingly. Skeptical POV have a problem with this because there does seem to be a ‘correct’ narrative they are pushing. There is a real slippery slope that has to be navigated if they want to convince a larger portion of the populace. Energy and who and how it is made and controlled affects everything we do in the free world. Motives about who and how it might change as a result of new policies derived from the IPCC, as you know, are being scrutinized constantly, just as they should be in an open and free political environment.

      • Remember ‘Hamburger Hill’…

    • Fred,
      How do you confuse the efforts to create mitigation policies with success?
      Not one mitigation policy for CO2 exists, much less works.
      AGW mitigation promotion is indistinguishable from a con-job.

    • The “huge success” has resulted in no actual CO2 reductions, of course, except insofar as the hyper-regulation has depressed the economy further, as such depression is the only proven and plausible way to cut emissions.

  37. If climate science and its public communication was separated from the objective of encouraging/pushing/manipulating people to support specific solutions, I suspect that we could have an honest scientific debate about climate change.

    I suspect that if you were having more success in arguing your view of the science, you’d be more inclined to accept the debate as honest.

    As to separating science from advocacy, I’d say the peer-reviewed literature does that admirably. No language is ever free from all connotation, but I think scientists have done an admirable job of maintaining their dry, academic language and objective tone when writing papers.

    When they are not writing papers, some scientists try to translate what they are seeing in nature and in the work of other scientists for a broader audience, and talk about what they think it means and what they think we ought to do about it. I do not think we can or should take away their rights as citizens and as human beings to talk about what we ought to do.

    • Latimer Alder

      ‘I do not think we can or should take away their rights as citizens and as human beings to talk about what we ought to do.’

      Nor do I. But when the only reason that their views should be given any more weight than mine or yours or Joe Sixpack’s or the Sultan of Brunei’s or Yogi Berra’s comes down to ‘Trust Me, I’m a Climate Scientist’. then they should retain the objectivity that you think you see in their technical writing.

      The cannot have it both ways, And by trying to do so people start to distrust them in both roles – both as scientists and as advocates. However good your communication skills or however uplifiting your message, if your audience has stopped listening before you begin, you have lost the argument.

    • tempterrain

      Climate scientists are in a difficult position. Whichever way they turn they will attract criticism. Some choose to stay on the higher storeys of the ivory tower and say nothing much publicly. That’s surely wrong and Judith herself has had a few words of criticism for those choosing that option.

      The guys at Realclimate are criticised, Judith herself is criticised. The political implications of what is being said both in scientific journals and elsewhere make it all inevitable. There is a natural reluctance to accept bad news especially if it conflicts with long held and cherished political opinions. I think it just has to be case of choosing sides and slugging it out. Most scientists aren’t used to having to do that, but it’s going to be a job requirement for the foreseeable future, at least for climate scientists.

    • Robert,
      What sort of fiction are you working on?
      Absurdist? SF parody? Dystopian black humor?
      Nothing you say about peer review regarding climate science would fit into a non-fiction genre.
      Please clarify.

  38. What a beautiful sentence…

    The model originally concluded that a doubling of CO2 produces a temperature increase just under three degrees Celsius, an estimate that’s in pretty good agreement with other models.

  39. “A lot of this conversation is about finding ways to get people to believe in climate change, and care about it enough to help promote change and progress and solutions.”

    I must confess that it is statements like that which leave me nonplussed about what its author is thinking. “Climate change” is either a) a perfectly neutral denotation, or b) a thoroughly non-neutral connotation. Denotatively it refers to all possible changes in climate: warmer/wetter/windier, colder/drier/calmer, warmer/drier/calmer, colder/drier/windier and etc.,etc.etc. Connotatively it refers to only one change in climate: change for the worse. The author speaks of “finding ways to get people to … promote change and progress and solutions.” “Change” and “Progress” and “Solutions” are all thoroughly connotative and almost devoid of denotation for the simple reason that what will work as a “solution” for a climate change to colder/drier/windier weather is not likely to work as a solution for a climate change to warmer/wetter/calmer weather. Speaking more generally: unless a person specifies what sort of “Change” is to be made, and to what sort of destination it is we are to “Progress” I, at least, am not interested in climbing on the bandwagon. For me, what and how we should change depends upon the science, by which I mean the actual facts of the matter and, until we have good reason to know what they are, the rest of the political dialogue is premature at best and in service to ulterior motives at worst.

    • Agree.

      • Ditto. The Left turned English into a liars language.

      • It’s not the Left IMO. I am kinda left.

      • Then you’re seriously out of step with your soul-mates.

      • Yes I am. But all humans are my soul-mates after all. Also it seems that most of the people are out of step (touch) with their soul-mates.

        IMO, a real leftist would never fall for such a cheap trick like CO2AGW. I know it’s kind of ‘no true Scotsman’ fallacy, but that’s how I see it. Ultimately, all these political dichotomies are false, IMO.

        The real obstacles are hypocrisy and corruption. All popular political dichotomies are a distraction.

    • Theo Goodwin

      Semantic warfare has always been a preferred strategy of Marxists. Much of Saul Alinsky’s book consists of recommendation on semantic warfare. The Left has enjoyed an orgy of neologisms in the last forty years. Or would someone like to tell me the meaning of the word ‘marriage’. Forty years ago there would have been 99.99 percent agreement on its meaning among ordinary Americans. The same pattern is evident among the CAGW crowd.

      • Theo Goodwin

        One of Marxism’s ingenious creations is the word ‘homophobic’? It was introduced by academics who used it to screen prospective guests for those who might criticize some aspect of homosexuality. The cleverness was not apparent until it became popular. Then you could be asked whether you are homophobic in the faculty lounge. No one would say “Yes!” because that would imply that you have a phobia. Everyone would say “No” and thereby commit one’s self to approving (not disapproving) of all and anything homosexual. It is a trap for the unwary and it caught many an innocent. A really effective stealthy tool in the cultural wars.

        Of course, the word is totally unjustified in any use whatsoever. It is an example of the classic fallacy of Complex Question. Either answer to the question presumes an important truth about the one who answers.

  40. When an agency wishes to communicate, there is always an agenda: to either get someone to acquiesce to a painfull policy, ie taxes etc., or to commit to a course of action, ie war, rationing, or in this case change in behavior re one’s carbon footprint. To be successful, the message should be comparable with people’s experiences. When the message says renewables, and the natural world, ie, the world observable to people, says renewables don’t work, at least not yet, the message is dead.

  41. Brian G ValentineBrian G Valentine

    Ordinary people can see that they are getting communicated “at” about “climate science” to move somebody’s agenda.

    When people balk, the agenda is “reinforced” by citing “authority” and if that fails, questions about “intelligence” and “motives” and “sanity” are raised.

    It isn’t working. Ordinary people can see right through the sham.

  42. As someone mentioned, communicating risk, as talked about in the excerpt, and communicating science, as in the thread title, are very different things. You can’t even hope to communicate risk unless you have communicated the science first, at least for most people. The conversation about risk only makes sense among a community that has a shared view of the science, but that is not what we have here on this blog or in the real world, so I would argue that risk is a step beyond what can be sensibly discussed here, except within sub-sets of the community with their own shared science views.

    • Don’t you have to communicate benefits too?

      Which regions would do well 1C warmer? What are the benefits of CO2 to agriculture?

      Why do you insist science should only communicate risk to get people to agree with them?

      • tempterrain

        If you want 1 degC warmer, why not move South? The world has plenty of sub-climates to choose from. There is no need to change the overall climate.

      • And are those 1C warmer sub climates dangerous or harmful?
        The transparent stupidity that underpins AGW belief is amazing when self-exposed.
        Thanks for providing a nice example AGW belief.

      • In the last glacial period temperatures were around 6deg C lower than now and sea levels 120 metres lower. So, on that basis, each 1 deg of warming corresponds to 20 metres of sea level rise. Fortunately it doesn’t happen immediately.

        So yes, if you are living in a city like London or NY, then several degrees of warming is likely to be dangerous and harmful.

      • simon abingdon

        Why a linear relationship?

      • It is nonsense to talk about glacials. Whats more important is a comparison to the previous interglacial. We haven’t even matched the Eemian yet. The Eemian was warmer and sea level was 4m to 6m higher.

        “The warmest peak of the Eemian was around 125,000 years ago, when forests reached as far north as North Cape (which is now tundra) in northern Norway well above the Arctic Circle at 71°10′21″N 25°47′40″E. Hardwood trees like hazel and oak grew as far north as Oulu, Finland.

        At the peak of the Eemian, the northern hemisphere winters were generally warmer and wetter than now, though some areas were actually slightly cooler than today. The Hippopotamus was distributed as far north as the rivers Rhine and Thames.

        Trees grew as far north as southern Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago instead of only as far north as Kuujjuaq in northern Quebec, and the prairie-forest boundary in the Great Plains of the United States lay further west — near Lubbock, Texas, instead of near Dallas, Texas, where the boundary now exists.

        Sea level at peak was probably 4 to 6m (13 to 20 feet) higher than today (references in Overpeck et al., 2006), ”

      • Bruce –
        IIRC, the interglacials have been progressively cooler so it would make sense for this one to be cooler than the last. That, of course, gives rise to a new “environmental threat” – that the planet will eventually cool into a permanent glacial state. Should I warn the grandchildren? :-)

      • tempterrain,
        We have warmed ~1oC over the last ~150 years.
        Sea levels are not doing anything unusual.
        So we can dismiss yet another of your fear mongering poses.
        So, like your ridiculous false plea to the future generations as an excuse to cooperate in your delusion, this too is just another empty call to fear.

      • Don’t you mean 1.0C, Hunter?

      • Ken,
        I typed in the o, not the 0, but it is difficult to easily tell the difference.
        Yes, I did mean 1.0 oC, not 10 oC. I apologize for anyconfiusion and appreciate your pointing out the confusion.

      • Ken,
        It is strange, but when I type the draft in the reply box, the difference between ‘o’ and ‘zero’ is very clear.
        When the comment publishes, the difference disappears.

      • “There is no need to change the overall climate.”

        We aren’t. We aren’t warmer than the MWP, we are cooler than the Roman/Minoan warmings and a lot colder than the Holocene Climactic Optimum.

        We haven’t come close to the Eemian sea level rise.

        All natural variability.

        When we get even close to the HCO, then we should consider whether it was AGW.

        Until then, let’s pray it stays this warm and next LIA isn’t heading for us like a runaway train.

      • You are probably aware that the Eemian and Holocene Optimum were periods when the northern polar regions were favored by peaks in the Milankovitch orbital factors, while currently these orbital factors are still going in the wrong direction since the Holocene Optimum.

      • The HCO doesn’t match up with the Milankovitch peak unless you postulate a 3000 – 5000 year lag.

        “According to the Milankovitch theory of global climatic change, maximum summer solar radiation at high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere occurred at 10,000 yr BP (refs 1, 2). In particular, it predicts summer solstice radiation greater by 9−10%. Preliminary climate simulation experiments with these increased values of radiation confirm that high-latitude land surfaces received maximal insolation at 10,000 yr (refs 3, 4). Paradoxically, however, the large volume of fossil pollen and other evidence from North America indicates a maximum of Holocene warmth at 7,000−6,000 yr (ref. 5), and a recent review of the evidence from New England suggests that the warming began at 9,000 and ended at 5,000 yr, but also stresses the difficulties of interpretation in terms of climate change6. We summarize here data from sites in the north-west corner of mainland Canada (Fig. 1) that directly support the Milankovitch hypothesis.”

      • Your references agree with mine, that the warming was from 9000 to 5000 years ago, and followed the max of the Milankovitch forcing at 9000 years ago.

      • We don’t agree at all. The lag is over 3000 years. So the HCO was not caused by Milankovitch.

        “maximum summer solar radiation at high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere occurred at 10,000 yr BP”

        “evidence from North America indicates a maximum of Holocene warmth at 7,000−6,000 yr”

        However … if for some reason there is a 3000 – 4000 year lag in the Holocene Climate. what happened 3,000 – 4,000 years ago to cause the small amount of warming after the LIA?

        And why was the Eemian 4C warmer than today despite lower Co2?

      • It is called optimum, because the maximum is determined by the recovery from the previous deep ice age and solar heating. The recovery delayed the maximum. As I said the Eemian had stronger solar forcing in the northern polar latitudes, which is why it is warmer than the Holocene. That was a northern hemisphere phenomenon, as those same orbital characteristics would have made the southern hemisphere colder than average, and it is not at all clear that the global average would have been much warmer than now. Since the LIA was a solar minimum, I don’t understand your other question.

      • The Milankovitch maximum was at 10,000. The HCO was 4,000 years later.

        What caused the HCO? Why was it so warmer than today? Whay was the MWP warmer? Why was the Roman Optimum warmer? Why was the Minoan Warming warmer?

      • It ended 4000 years later as the Milankovitch cycle declined.towards present-day values. It was defined from 9000 to 5000 years ago, just after the forcing maximum. For the other warm periods and MWP, it could be solar irradiance, as it was for LIA. This should not be excluded as a past mechanism, just because CO2 is more important today.

      • ““evidence from North America indicates a maximum of Holocene warmth at 7,000−6,000 yr””

        No. The peak was 3000-4000 years after the Milankovitch peak.

        Big difference.

        That implies some sort of magical 3-4000 year lag.

        The HCO was caused by something else.

      • Ask yourself what else would have such a large effect on only the northern hemisphere if it wasn’t the retreat of the previous ice age under orbital effects. Do you know how long it takes the subtle orbital effects to remove miles-deep glaciers several times the area of Greenland, which allows the albedo to lower so that the ocean can warm up?

      • And then there is:

        “The Older Peron transgression was one of a series of gradually diminishing marine transgressions during the middle Holocene. It was followed by the Younger Peron, Abrolhos, and Rottnest transgressions.

        During the Younger Peron transgression (c. 4000–3400 BCE), sea level peaked at 3 meters above the twentieth-century level; during the Abrolhos (c. 2600–2100 BCE), 1.5 meters; and during the Rottnest (c. 1600–1000 BCE), 1 meter.”

        What causes these 500-600 year warming events where the sea level is 1,1.5 or even 3m above current levels?

      • Could be the sun. To me that would be the most obvious explanation. We know the sun varies a little, and for a few meters sea level, it doesn’t take much temperature difference to do it.

      • I’ll go with unexplained. Could be the same thing causing minuscule warming in the 1990s.

      • CO2 more than explains the current warming.

      • It is interesting that about half the skeptics say it is not warming enough for AGW to be correct, and the other half say it is warming too much for AGW to be correct.

      • I can phrase that more precisely.
        It is interesting that about half the skeptics say it is not warming enough for CO2 to explain it, and the other half say it is warming too much for CO2 to explain it.

      • Jim D – you left out the half who think Mr. Natural explains it all.

      • Jim D,
        How about examples of skeptics who say it is warming too much for CO2 to be the cause?

      • hunter, those would be the low-sensitivity people who can’t explain how it warmed 0.5 C in the last 30 years.

      • JCH, yes, those would be the latter half. They say CO2 sensitivity is too low to explain how it warmed 0.5 C in 30 years, so something ‘natural’ must have done it.

      • Jim D , the re are many explanations for current warming.

        But Co2 isn’t an explanation for past warmings of greater magnitude.

        Co2 is not an explanation for the Bond Event Cycle, or the MWP or Roman Optimum or Minoan Warming.

        Change in bright sunshine hours is well documented and explains all warming and more importantly follows the up and down warming cycle.

      • Bruce, the Permian-Triassic event was a release of vast quantities of GHGs (mostly CO2, thousands of ppm) by volcanoes that brought earth out of the Permian cold conditions into the more tropical Mesozoic conditions, accompanied by a major extinction.

      • Jim D,
        How did it warm a similar amount in the first decades of the last century?
        The fallacies of your defense is that
        1- you do not understand the skeptics
        2-you misrepresent the skeptics
        3-you are projecting whatever it is you believers have that drives you to cling to apocalyptic crap instead of realizing the most likely conclusion:
        That nothing of importance has changed in the climate of the world in the past ~150 years.

      • hunter, I pointed out two classes of skeptic, and I understand their arguments only too well. Some skeptics even fall into both classes without realizing how they contradict themselves when they try to disprove the CO2 effect as being both too strong and too weak to explain observations depending how they have cherry-picked the period.

      • To answer the question, the last century’s warming between 1910 and 1940 was likely at least half solar, but that is only based on sunspot observations.

      • Jim D – Solar irradiance increases were certainly a more important component of early twentieth century warming than later warming, but CO2 and other anthropogenic greenhouse gases should not be neglected for both halves of Twentieth Century Warming..

      • Jim D: “the Permian-Triassic event was a release of vast quantities of GHGs (mostly CO2, thousands of ppm) by volcanoes”

        There are 3,000,000+ undersea volcanoes arbitrarily ruled out as a significant source for CO2. Not that CO2 is relevant, its always a follower. But still … blaming volcanoes while exonerating volcanoes … is quite brazen.

      • Jum D,
        The point being for the warming, that the beeliver community seems unabale or unwilling to deal with, is that the early 20th century warming, the late 20th century warming are both unimportant, whatever the cause.
        The AGW social movement has grabbed on to tiny changes in temperature and claims they are signs of impending doom.
        The bottom line skeptical position is that doom is not impending or even likely.
        The AGW community, instead of defending the doom prophecy, is busy trying to deconstruct skeptics.
        That tactic is failing.

  43. Theo Goodwin

    Robert writes:

    “I do not think we can or should take away their rights as citizens and as human beings to talk about what we ought to do.”

    When acting as a representative of an employer, one has no free speech rights regarding what your employer wants you to say or not say. If the employer does not like your expressed opinions, he has every right to can you. Any time you are on the company dime, you are representing your employer. So, NASA fully embraces the logorrhea of Hansen and Schmidt and will have earned whatever its associations with them bring.

  44. If it is not the Left that is pushing the climate porn, who is it? Are there that many ECO-CHONDRIACHS? Aren’t Gore, the UN, government workers and bureaucrats, dead and dying Old Europe, the Hollywood-types and all of the supporters of people like Castro and Chavez all united in their anti-American, anti-capitalist secular, socialist ideology

    • Bureaucracies, corporations, establishments, governments… In short the haves and have mores.

    • tempterrain


      Every Blog must have its “Wagathon” ! I just couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried!

      Realclimate should perhaps consider making an annual “Senator Inhofe” ward for the best denialist rant. You just need to add a few lines about the IPCC and world government and you could well be a contender

      • ian (not the ash)

        Hmmm…as much as I see things, relating to climate, differently from Mr Martin, the constant uninformed rambling by certain skeptics about the rise of the socialist cabal is really tiresome and very counterproductive.

      • Read their own literature. Please. You don’t know a tenth of it, much less a half of it.

        It is a chronic and capital error not to believe what wannbe tyrants tell you they are planning. At first they’re tentative about it, then as they see most take it as harmless hyperbole, they get bold and blatant. Then they (sometimes) actually gain the power to act on their plans. And proceed to do exactly what no one believed they really meant when they said it.

        The only known instances of human-inflicted megadeaths have been the result. For a small, recent example, read through the documented career of Pol Pot, hyper-environmentalist.

    • I think you dropped a final “?”.

      but — that’s a joke, right?

  45. David Suzuki explains exactly what the communication strategy has been in this clip.
    Note that Suzuki,( the one time scientist, but long since an activist) , in effect defers to Al Gore as his scientific mentor : (
    Suzuki asks Gore what he as a journalist can do to help the cause.
    Gore tells Suzuki to go out and preach the gospel of CAGW until the people demand action from the politicians

    Forecast Earth In Depth: David Suzuki, Part 2

    Suzuki’s other scientific mentor ?
    Why none other than Lucien Bouchard : (

    “I interviewed Lucien Bouchard two months after he was appointed, and I said, Mr. Minister, what is the most important issue we face? Right away, he said global warming. In 1988! I said, how serious is it? And he said it threatens the survival of our species.”

    So way back in 1988, those noted scientific luminaries (yes I’m being facetious) Gore and Bouchard already knew that CAGW was a deadly danger : (
    One wonders from what source this inspiration arose !

    • brent,
      This clip shows clearly taht our AGW apologists here are either sadly misinformed or just playing a game.
      Suzuki lies at every opportunity in this clip.

      • Even more interesting, here is a clip from Suzuki in 1972
        He explicitly warns about scientists becoming a new “priesthood”, warns about eco-freaks and some high priests of science of that time.
        Unfortunately David has succumbed and has become exactly what he then cautioned about.

        David Suzuki on science, elitism and the apocalypse
        Broadcast Date: June 28, 1972
        Suzuki talks about the politics of science and the science of politics.


        Political goal (Gore/ Bouchard etc ) plus blessing from new “scientific priesthood” (eg Suzuki etc) = Political Action

      • Suzuki became what he warned of. How tragic.

      • If it pays the bills…

    • Even worse:

      “David Suzuki has called for political leaders to be thrown in jail for ignoring the science behind climate change.

      At a Montreal conference last Thursday, the prominent scientist, broadcaster and Order of Canada recipient exhorted a packed house of 600 to hold politicians legally accountable for what he called an intergenerational crime. Though a spokesman said yesterday the call for imprisonment was not meant to be taken literally, Dr. Suzuki reportedly made similar remarks in an address at the University of Toronto last month.”

      Maybe Suzuki is a vindictive little &%#@ who wants revenge for having been incarcerated in a camp in WWII.

  46. tempterrain


    ” The value-ladenness and prescriptive nature of much communication about climate change results in a backlash by people who don’t want to be manipulated into policy choices”

    So, are you saying that because (some) people don’t want to face up to those policy choices the backlash is directed at all climate science? It must be wrong because the policy implications are unacceptable? Isn’t that called denialism?

    Sure, if the message from conventional science was something like “we think the continued uncontrolled emissions of CO2 is going to warm the planet by several degrees, but that’s a good thing because we all like warmer weather……” then of course we wouldn’t see much opposition at all.

    But you’ve got to tell it like it is.

  47. I find it interesting that some folks wanted to make a big deal out of the study that looked at correlations between scientific literacy/numeracy and doubts about the dangers of global warming – but still ignore the most significant findings of that study: Opinions about climate change are much more highly correlated with cultural (and I would presume political) orientation. The more information people have, the more likely they are to feel more strongly in line with what one would predict from their cultural/political orientation.

    • Which argues against the case for CAGW. It tells us that the so-called authority of scientists is more likely to be affected by their political bias.

      • No, stan.

        It would argue against both sides in the debate, not just one side. Both sides are more likely to be affected by their political bias.

        Classic, indeed, that you’d interpret it to mean that political bias only affects the one side.

      • Fine. Since both sides are likely to be biased and wrong, a pox on both their houses. Politicians should ignore them both.

        I take it you are agreed. Any policy proposals from either side should be ignored.

      • stan –
        Joshua’s right, but he’s wrong.

        He’s right in that nobody is entirely unbiased (including Joshua, regardless of his previous protestations wrt tribalism).

        He’s also wrong in that being bised doesn’t mean being wrong. Some of us, for example, are biased toward truth, beauty and reality. We’re also likely to be biased against lies, waspish incivility and rude behavior. And if you think about it, those things are part of what defines the political biases in question here. So being biased – even politically – is not always definitively wrong.

        Nor does being politically or otherwise biased mean one is wrong wrt technical or scientific matters. Joshua’s arguments have some minor points, but are a null factor wrt most of the subjects discussed on this blog. I believe the phrase would be “non sequitors”.

        But worst of all, Joshua ( and probably others) apparently fail to realize that if neither side of the dance floor is advising the politicians, then they’ll be left to their own devices and will have no valid input. Then they would have to make their own decisions. Do you have ANY idea how much of a disaster that would become? That’s far more scary than GW – or AGW – or CAGW.

  48. Judith,
    It is a real shame that you are unable to yourself be honest and logical about the wider issue of climate. To pretend that the issue was made political by the scientific community rather than instigated by the George C. Marshall institute is historically inaccurate. To stretch that to claim that when dangerous information is produced from research and should not be shared with the public is beyond bizarre.

    While the “skeptics” are virtually all funded by private, FF-derived money, the hardworking scientists producing climate data are funded by public money. To suggest the science rather than the denial is political is absurd, illogical and blatantly false. All verifiably so. The question then is, what caused you to make it political rather than scientific?

    Please name us one scientist who is politicizing climate based on anything other than their sincere belief the situation is urgent, even dire. FYI, stating a conviction publicly is not politics, it’s a responsibility.

    To get to the central question of the psychology of communicating climate and away from politicization of the issue, we face a number of hurdles. of course, the first is the damage done by persons like yourself who are intentionally misleading the public, then pointing your finger at scientists who are making an effort to educate the public about a massively dangerous situation. When unsupported, irrational doubt is loaded into a discussion, doubt becomes the dominant factor because we are naturally tuned to fight or flight, discounting the future, and to be driven by beliefs and ideology over reason and logic. These are all well-supported psychological concepts. This is why you have the audience you do.

    It is not logical to insult Al Gore after he has worked long and hard on climate information, and did so long before the general public had a clue. i don’t claim to know all his motives, but I do know yours are less well founded. To diminish and insult persons responding to the scientific data because of the human failings listed above, when you are supposedly a climate scientist yourself boggles the imagination. That you don’t understand the simple risk analysis involved in responding to climate changes also boggles the mind. Then, again, risk assessment is a policy issue, not a scientific one, so your lack of background in this is not surprising. However, that you could run this blog and still be ignorant of basic risk analysis is strange, indeed.

    To wit, the climate risk issue is quite simple. the rows can be characterized as DO SOMETHING and DO NOTHING, the columns as AGW IS REAL, ANTHROPOGENIC and REAL, NON-ANTHROPOGENIC and NOT REAL. The long/fat tail risk is 6C+ rise in temps which is generally regarded as civilization-ending. The rubrik comes out like this:

    AGW IS REAL, ANTHROPOGENIC / DO SOMETHING = possibly avoid catastrophe


    REAL, NON-ANTHROPOGENIC / DO SOMETHING = possibly avoid catastrophe

    REAL, NON-ANTHROPOGENIC / DO NOTHING = Likely catastrophe

    NOT REAL / DO SOMETHING = improve sustainability.

    NOT REAL / DO NOTHING = Continued overshoot –> likely catastophe.

    Of course, those of you who deny or downplay anthropogenic climate change also tend to deny resource limits and the need for sustainability, so i don’t expect this very real risk assessment to impact you. It should, however, open your eyes to the great risk in your politicization and denial of climate science. You are on a fool’s errand.

    • This is like being a mosquito in a nudist colony – it’s a target-rich environment. But I’ll keep it short – three points –

      1) It is not logical to insult Al Gore after he has worked long and hard on climate information, and did so long before the general public had a clue.

      Al Gore is one of the worst enemies you have. He’s not a scientist, but rather a pretend-scientist who’s used the issue in a blatant political attempt at the Presidency of the US and then as a cash cow to enrich himself. Does he “believe” in what he talks about? Only he knows, but there’s insufficient evidence to prove his “belief” in a court of law. And certainly insufficient evidence to prove his belief to anyone with two brain cells that actually connect. Nor does your defense of Gore increase “your” credibility.

      2) Your 6 scenarios fail to impress me simply because there ARE 6 of them, each of which carries a “qualifier” (likely/possible) that is essentially meaningless.

      3) You apparently believe that climate change communication is, and should be, only one-way and that you have nothing to learn form skeptics. And you apparently have failed to understand that that is precisely why you are losing the communication “war”. And will continue to lose it.

    • Killian,
      Bunk on you.
      You have no fact based evidence at all that skeptics are funded by FF sources.
      You ignore the fact that NGO’s are not only funding AGW hype, but are directly influencing policy documents to increase the level of hype at the cost of scientific validity.
      As to your rubrik,
      You miss the most likely one- the one playing out today:
      Climate risk not significant/climate risk policies pushed by extremists like you cause massive problems for the rest of us.

    • Killian,

      You are making up your world, and that world is a very narrow view of the real world. Whichever of the views in the range of present scientific understanding is chosen for the view on the climate change, that view by itself does not define right policies. Choosing policies depends also on views on the effects of policy choices:

      – How efficient they are finally in reducing GHG emissions?
      – What are their direct costs?
      – How they affect the dynamics of economies of the own country and other parts of the world?
      – What other effects they have on the human well-being home and abroad?
      – How the policies relate to general political and societal views including economic freedom and political freedoms? I.e., can they be implemented without damage to other basic values?

      Anybody who chooses to be an activist is strongly influenced on her or his conscious and unconscious attitudes and views of the other related issues. Becoming an activist is an act of politicizing the issue. That’s everybody’s right as an individual, but failing to keep the dividing line between science and activism fully clear may be detrimental to science. It may be that independently of the sincereness of the person involved. Many scientists from other related fields are worried about the influence of the climate debate on the science more generally, and that problem is certainly to a very large extend due to the acts of activist scientists. These worries can be read from some statements of national science academies or comparable bodies. While some opponents do their best to enhance this effect, they are not the original source of the problem.

      If the picture in a distorted mirror is ugly, the mirror may still be only part of the problem.

    • David L. Hagen

      Recommend you apply to yourself: “you are unable to yourself be honest and logical about the wider issue of climate.”
      Converting forests to fields and returning fossil fuels to the atmosphere both affect climate. Assuming “likely catastrophe” is a non-sequitor. That depends on the relative magnitudes of “anthropogenic”, “solar” and “ocean oscillations”. e.g. Solar activity led to the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age. Together with a cool phase Pacific Decadal Oscillation, we could well be headed into a minor or major cooling period by 2030/40.
      Search “peak coal” and compare with IPCC projections etc. Why is Al Gore buying beach front property? It is a lot cheaper to relocate people over a foot or two rise in sea level than recover from the major economic decline caused by lack of preparation for peak oil.

      Look at and weigh both the data and arguments.

  49. May I point out that six out of six scenarios are negative? Even if we drop out the other issue of overall sustainability/overshoot, you still end up with 5/6 saying DO SOMETHING.

    We all buy home, car and health insurance with far less risk involved.

    • What about: AGW warms the earth by 1C and we get more crops and less people die in the cold?

      Why do you people always choose the doom and gloom scenarios and leave out the good ones?

    • Or how about AGW staves off the next ice age?

      Or how about: Coming solar minimum ruins global agriculture and the meny to save us was squandered on windmilss that don’t work when it is cold?

      Can’t you think any more scenarios? Lack of imagination?

    • ferd berple

      No one would buy insurance if it costs more than the car or the house. You buy insurance because it only costs a small fraction of what it costs to replace without insurance.

      Live insurance is the same. What is your life worth to you? How about your children? What would you be willing to accept in payment for the death of your children?

      Likely if you are a parent, you will say no amount will replace the child. However, my question then is this. How much have you insured you child’s life for?

      If you are like most parents, you carry no life insurance on your child. Or if you do, it is a token amount as part of a health care package. Probably the most valuable thing to each and every parent, and yet you don’t carry millions of dollars in life insurance on the child.

      Now explain this in terms of the Precautionary Principle. You cannot because the Precautionary Principle say you cannot let your child play sports, or ride a bike on the street, or drive a car, or go out on a date with someone they barely know.

      All these items are a much greater risk to my children and yours than climate change 100 years in the future. The oceans will rise a couple of feet. Big deal. Don’t buy waterfront. It is too expensive for most of our children to buy anyways unless they are very fortunate. There will be more flooding. Simple, don’t buy on a flood plain. Temperatures will increase. Buy property in cooler locations or install air conditioning. Energy prices will go up. Simple, buy coal. It will be cheap as more and more countries force their citizens to use alternative sources. Food prices will go up. Grow you own. The extra Co2 is free fertilizer.

      I could go on and one. The simple fact is that for every problem I’ve every read about global warming, their is a simple, low cost common sense solution. The people affected are not those living today. They are people yet to be born, who can make choices as to where the live and where they work to minimize the impact and costs.

      If that is not true, then explain why the Precautionary Principle does not work when applied to our children, the most precious asset for almost any parent on this planet. Why don’t we insure our children for tens of millions when they are born? Why do we let them engage in activities that we know are risky?

    • Killian, Do you actually think your scenarios do anything close to suming up the situation in a realistic fashion?
      If so, I have a secret pass key to Area 51 for sale I am certain you would find fascinating.

    • Killian your arguments are purely from the view point of ignorance.
      When people know enough of the unknown unknowns to be able to understand how weather works well enough to forecast it accurately for years in advance, then the problems and answers you fantasize about are not real, just a waste of time and resources.

      When real climate scientists understand the relevant strengths of the natural drivers of weather and climate, to the point they can forecast the weather as well as I can I will listen to their advice. The data and the real research of the causes and effects that are backed by empirical evidence, that are documented with open codes and source data that are repeatable, is the real science.

      Disinformation and fabricated lies that mislead the dupes that make up the flocks of sheep that work and pay taxes, never spending time to find out things for themselves, are what you are spreading. Your selections of the “choices we have” are totally created to hand you the reins of power over others.

      Real concern for the people of the earth expresses itself in increasing the understanding of natural processes that are responsible for changes in weather and climate, so that the resultant carrying capacity of the earth is increased.

      By this method every one becomes more liberated from government controls by virtue of becoming more independent from useless regulation passed just for the manipulative control of scarce assets, with out these senseless rules and regulations designed to control the masses, more time and effort can be applied to realistic answers to real problems, by the people who are aware of their most urgent needs for food stuffs, clean water, clean air, freely available energy, overcoming diseases, and ending corruption in science and governments.

  50. Brian G Valentine

    It is a real shame that you are unable to yourself be honest and logical about the wider issue of climate.

    It is a bigger shame to start your essay/diatribe questioning people’s integrity

  51. Steve Fitzpatrick


    It is indeed a very insightful comment. The key is I think here:

    “Or is it just to impart information so people can make up their own minds…which, frankly, sounds wonderfully moral and democratic and all, but…let’s be honest here…is less than what the people concerned about climate change really want”.

    What has complicated the scientific debate is the specific (loudly and endlessly promoted) policy goals of many well known climate scientists. That is the primary reason people do not trust climate scientists to give a balanced and reasoned analysis of “the science”. Climate scientists seem to me (on average) to hold political and philosophical views with are far left of the general public, at least in the United State, and the public is quite aware of this. I sure as heck don’t trust climate scientists to not tilt their analysis (consciously or otherwise) to support their policy goals. The simple solution is for climate scientists to stay completely out of the business of public policy advocacy and focus 100% of “the science” I think that is unlikely to happen, because they feel too strongly about the need to force the public to accept drastic changes in lifestyle, and indeed, a lower standard of living.

    Climate scientists can’t win this political argument, because it is a moral rather than technical argument, but the conflict can (and likely will) continue indefinitely, like Roe V Wade….endless, and with no possibility of resolution. When compromise is morally unacceptable, political progress is impossible.

    If climate scientists really want political progress, the first step is to stop trying to tell people what to do. The second step is stop trying to frighten people. The third step is accept that the policy goals you support may not be possible… now or ever. That’s life. Accept compromises, even when they are distasteful..

    • if climate scientists don’t voice their concerns people might be misled into thinking they weren’t concerned…

      • voicing concern and selling hype by way of distorted and false arguments are two different things.
        The climate science consensus is firmly in the second category.

  52. Kloor’s paper mentions “risk communication”. Risk Analysis is meaningless without Decision Analysis as its focus. We face an uncertain world out there. Climate Sensitivity might be (6,4,3,2,1). The Sun might be an insignificant contributor to Climate Change or it might be key and its behavior over the next 50 year might be (warmer, steady, Dalton). Global Change isn’t nearly as important as how the climate changes the living, economic, and growing conditions in and around specific localities. At each location and scenario, you have a set of probabilistic temp profiles, precipitation trends, drought, flood and growing seasons. With these and more scenarios you can build a probability tree. But it is still only an academic study until you mix in specific actions you plan to take (A: Wait/Do Nothing for another 5 years, B: Carbon-Tax $20/ton, C: Carbon Tax $40/ton, …. I: IPCC AR5 recommendations, ….Z: )

    My eyes glaze over at the inference diagrams, tree configurations and multiple probabilistic outcomes that would result from even the abbreviated list above. So CLEARLY there IS an issue about how to HONESTLY communicate the risks and costs associated with each possible decision and maintain the attention and understanding of your audience.

    Some people simplify the risk picture by eliminating the decisions (using only A – do nothing) and highlight only selected branches of the tree that would be scary to uncomfortable. Regardless of the probability of those highlighted branches, their message is that we must use precaution to do SOMETHING to mitigate and prevent these scenarios. But they still do not apply decisions (B, C, D…) to that very tree and show that the course of action materially affects the outcome of the same branches at an acceptable cost. It is this avoidance of being upfront with comparing the decisions with the probability and degree of change in outcome that has convinced me the game is afoot. As Kloor said in point two, Yes, I feel an attempt at manipulation and it hardens my opposition.

    To do this honestly and tractably, I would suggest setting up the probability tree of uncertainties, then examine each decision (B,C,D) against A. Then ask under which probabilistic scenario would I choose B over A, C over A, etc. The goal is to find under what scenarios I the cost and benefit of (B,C,D…) is better than A. Probabilities can be calculated, argued and recalculated later. Then, across the whole domain of scenarios, whether I would prefer A or the alternative. Later, pit the non-A winners against each other.

    Doing this subjectively by gut feel, I am skeptical that any decision will beat A. But I am open to risk (and decision) communication of this type to be debated in the open.

    • Brian G Valentine

      You take a “risk” getting out of bed in the morning. Might fall and break your back.

      If you do, and you’re still alive, you deal with it.

      That’s all people care about the “risk” of the whole thing.

      • Lets reduce CO2 emissions then. Lets take that risk.

      • Brian G Valentine

        Let’s not get out bed in the morning!

      • ian (not the ash)

        But who is actually taking the risk lolwot? I am assuming, by your access to the internet and your obvious English language skills, that you are not an exhausted poverty stricken citizen of the ‘developing’ world with a family of 8 to feed who would love nothing more than a bit of electricity to make his/her/their lives just a wee bit more comfortable. As this article from a prominant environmental thinktank points out:

        The number one barrier to renewable energy scale-up in the developing world is cost. Access to modern forms of electricity is crucial for both basic improvements in quality of life and for being able to develop a robust, modern economy. But most people in developing countries simply cannot afford the cost of electricity with increased renewables.

        Do you think that the 3 billion or so people who survive less than $2.50 per day ( ) are demanding that their governments abandon fossil fuels for renewable sources of energy? Even during a previous incarnation as an ‘Inconveniant Truth’ campaigner, I understood that AGW was, by-and-large, a western angst. Those who labor under horrendous conditions which most of us so gratefully have been so far spared, couldn’t give a rats arse about arguments about the earth’s energy budget. I’m not against the principle of adopting a greater percentage of renewable energy, what concerns me is that in a rush to implement ‘solutions’ it will be these very same who will pay for our supposed ‘risk taking’.

      • lolwot,
        You pay for that risk. I will watch and see how you do. If it works, I will think ab out joining in.
        Otherwise, leave me and the rest of us who actually understand this the heck alone.

      • That’s not a risk. That’s a dead certainty of deadly global economic depression extending as far as the eye can see. That is the ONLY proven and plausible way to cut CO2 emissions. All the others are “hide the pea” legerdemain.

      • There are costs in freedom and treasury associated with these decisions. You think most people do not care about these?

      • Brian G Valentine

        They care about it all right, as long as they’re controlling it. Take the control out of their hands, and all they care about is what has been taken away.

  53. –> “Suzuki asks Gore what he as a journalist can do to help the cause…”

    Suzuki says Canadians should demand a return to extreme cold weather. I guess the guy — like Al Gore — will say anything. Buyt with the cooling trend we have seen over the last decade, and seeing elderly in the UK burning books for warmth last winter, and given the predictions of 3 to 7 decades of continued global cooling — at least in the Northern Hemisphere — and, knowing that continuing to grow winter wheat in Canada may become impossible and that Canada may have to return to an economy based on the trapping of fur-bearing animals, shouldn’t Suzuki do whatever he can to have that clip removed from the web? It makes him look like an idiot supporting a hypocrite.

    • Brian G Valentine

      I dream about getting in front of a microphone, in front of a crowd of people, and telling Dave Suzuki and Gore just exactly what I think of them, right to their face. Fat chance that would ever happen or that such a thing would have one bit of influence. But it would make me feel a whole lot better.

      good night

      • You’ll need to have a look to Donna Laframboise and Vivian Krause for inspiration. Google last names and suzuki for leads.

  54. ferd berple

    “The IPCC process seems thorough, although not apparently designed to produce a quick response.”

    Judith, you are being polite. The correct analysis is:

    The IPCC process seems thorough, although apparently designed to produce a slow response.

    Voodoo science in action. The Chairman has told us so. Stall, delay, play for time.

    First we are told the IPCC report only contains science – peer reviewed science. Then we find out it contains gray material. Advocacy and propaganda posing as science.

    The IAC say grey material must be flagged. the IPCC say yes, or wait a minute no. they say No, they will not flag gray material because it is “too hard”. In other words the IPCC does not know which conclusions and recommendations in its own report as based on peer reviewed science, and which are based on opinion pieces.

    The we are told the IPCC simply reports the science – they never advocate. The IAC says the IPCC must implement conflict of interests guidelines to prevent advocacy (corruption). The IPCC say it won’t do this, because it would not be fair. After all, there are a lot of vested interest in place already and it would not be fair to ensure they are not simply advocates.

    Here is some simple math the proves climate change:


    • The process of keeping this false alarm alive by talking it to death ties up people and resources, that could be better applied to the advancement of real scientific methods of understanding the weather and climate puzzle.

      The IPCC has installed those who have conflicts of interest as a basic underlying connection for the power base expansion, that is the underlying purpose of the organization of the alarmists and their supporters. Through disinformation and empty “science” with no reproducibility to gain control over those who cannot think for themselves.

      The whole frame work of the assessment of “the problems and suggested answers” as it is, ends up as a mass manipulative confusion and disinformation campaign to expand control over others. Why would they want to rein in the corruption in the process, it is the end result they are striving for, extending the time spent on this make believe problem just gives them more time to affect this control over others.

      The subversive programing of the young children, and the dominion over women’s choices on reproduction, is what they “have to do” to compensate for the resultant loss of the general population’s ability to provide for them selves, saying that only a reduced population can be sustained. Only if we follow their advice! will we have these problems.

  55. For me, what and how we should change depends upon the science, by which I mean the actual facts of the matter and, until we have good reason to know what they are, the rest of the political dialogue is premature at best and in service to ulterior motives at worst.

    You raise a good point: people like yourself that admit they don’t understand the basic science of climate change should, indeed, remove themselves from the discussion until they understand it. Your ignorance, of course, should not delay any action those with a better grasp on the science can agree to be necessary.

  56. My motivation – forlorn as it is – is that the bloody planet is not warming for another decade or three as a result of unpredictable, dynamically complex Earth systems – but there remains risk in the great atmospheric experiment. No prediction – but an acknowledgement of the current state of the Pacific, the powerful impacts that these systems have on global temperature and hydrology and the durations typical of these phases. The AGW debate is lost in the public arena – simply because it is increasingly obvious to blind Freddy (an Australian colloquialism and not a reference to Fred) that it simply isn’t happening.

    Mathematically in a system with multiple control variables and multiple feedbacks there is a certainty of a risk of abrupt and nonlinear climate change that can be only expressed as a series of probabilities – from the benign to the catastrophic. There are biological issues as well. The observed decrease in plant stomatal size and density – with decreased plant respiration. There is the decrease in ocean pH – which can’t be observed but must occur from simple chemistry. From my perspective we have little prospect of making any robust predictions any time soon on any outcomes of the experiment that sees CO2 at the highest concentration in 10 to 15 million years – but there remain both observable change and potential risk. .

    There are, however, very troubling aspects to the solutions mooted from some quarters. Real practical and pragmatic solutions are possible – as in the Hartwell 2010 Paper, the Copenhagen Consensus priorities, the Millenium Development Goals, managing population through development, health and education, the Global Forest Initiative, restoring and conserving agricultural soils and ecosystems, energy R&D – all of which could and should be accelerated. But the essence of the policy that emerges from catastrophic climate scenarios is that of limits to growth.

    A sampling from the the Centre for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy

    ‘The mission of CASSE is to advance the steady state economy, with stabilized population and consumption, as a policy goal with widespread public support. We pursue this mission by:

    * educating citizens, organizations, and policy makers on the conflict between economic growth and (1) environmental protection, (2) ecological and economic sustainability, and (3) national security and international stability;
    * promoting the steady state economy as a desirable alternative to economic growth;
    * studying the means to establish a steady state economy.

    ‘Since continuous growth and sustainable scale are incompatible, growth cannot be relied upon to alleviate poverty, as has been done (ineffectively) in the past. If the pie isn’t getting any bigger, we need to cut and distribute the pieces in a fair way. In addition, poor people who have trouble meeting basic needs tend not to care about sustainability, and excessively rich people tend to consume unsustainable quantities of resources. Fair distribution of wealth, therefore, is a critical part of sustainability and the steady state economy.’

    It is a profoundly misguided philosophy to be resisted at every turn. Growth in food and energy at about 3%/year is absolutely necessary to sustain life and provide opportunities for all people this century. We can provide the conditions for stable economic growth – managed interest rates, prudential oversight, corporate regulation and open markets. Or we can intervene in markets for social and political purposes and achieve little but the disruption of lives and the destruction of capital. All in the name of climate science. It is little wonder then that the reaction to the overreach of the greens is so entrenched and virulent. I only ask that you don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.

    It there is to be a culture war based on ethical and political values – as Martha insists – let’s be at it. The views of these people are fringe and potentially dangerous – but wither when exposed to the light of public scrutiny.

    • I sincerely agree with your post here Chief. Very well said.

    • Well said, Chief.
      Good luck with your run away government.

      • 30% of the population support a carbon tax. The minority labor/green government is holding power with a few independents. With a 30% primary vote in the polls – the government and the tax will be history after the next election.

      • Are you confident that the climate extremists will not find a way to avoid an election?
        They have hinted at such a thing broadly for years, and openly talked of how criminal those who dare disagree are.

    • Yeah, I vote Chief onto the ‘dream team’ with Steve McIntyre in the IAC’s “three independent members who include individuals from outside of the climate community,” discussed in the next thread.

    • David L. Hagen

      Oh for more of such pragmatic common sense!

  57. ursus maritimus

    Step back from all this blogging for a second or two and wonder what a Russian / Chinese Indian / Brazilian / Arab / anyone else from the developing world thinks of this mad carry on in the ‘west’. Surely they must stand mouths agape or just fall about laughing at us. Does anyone think the developing world is going to slow its growth down? That is the really mad thing about the so called Carbon Tax just detailed a bit more today in Australia.

    Re the AGW zealots, I think they actually believe this doomsday tosh, its not a cynical try on. It is part of the eco-left tribal culture, it is part of the myth of who they are. If human intelligence is built upon the ability of pattern recognition, it is little wonder that humans can be guided in their attitudes by a pattern of repetition, once they are susceptible to the message. That said , being democratic peoples with plenty of experience watching and listening to advertising and political spin, most people start to see the snake oil message after a while.

    I wonder if the kid who called the emperor on his lack of attire was called a hate couture denier?

    • Wet Bear, I’ve long called this irrational fetish for CAGW a ‘precious conceit of the Western elite’, but both ‘precious’ and ‘conceit’ are used in a somewhat archaic fashion, so I’m commonly not understood.

      A year and a half before Copenhagen I read an article by an energy analyst in a Texas trade journal. For the following 18 months I predicted failure of Copenhagen on the basis of an unsuccessful shakedown by the BRICs of the Western economies and their populaces wallowing in guilt over success.

      What I failed to predict is the manner in which China could cover its chagrin over the failed shakedown by outrage over the Neo-Colonial maneuverings of one of the leaders of that successful West, who demonstrated more cynicism and greed than guilt.

      • What gobstruck me hardest about Copenhagen was the Standing O for Chavez’ insane anti-industrialized world rant. As though his new fiefdom had anything to sell for a living except huge amounts of low-quality heavy oil that can only be processed into usable form by certain specialized and dedicated refineries on the soil of his worst and favorite enemy.

      • The whole idea of the Democratic party controlling the weather is Ridiculous!

      • The bastions of freedom and humanities hope? Venezuela, China, Cuba, Iran, and Russia – it must be a horrible joke.

    • The kid who called the Emperor out was ignored by the Emperor:
      Here is a more timely rendition of the tale:

    • I don’t know if citizens in other countries are laughing as the west’s progressives lead it toward an economic cliff. They shouldn’t be. If they get their way and strangle the western energy market, everyone will suffer. Take away western markets and developing economies will collapse as well.

      Western elites play with the price of corn so they can feel good about putting ethanol in their cars, and people in Africa can’t afford to eat. U.S Democrats kill oil and coal exploration and extraction here, and the world wide price of fuel goes up. Progressives read a junk science, hysteria based book about DDT, and deaths from malaria enjoy a massive resurgence.

      Progressives are oh so concerned about potential “externalities” from emissions of a trace gas. But they couldn’t care less about the genuine, horrific impacts that result from their callous indifference to the unintended consequences of whatever their latest fad might be.

  58. Richard Saumarez

    What will happen depends on forcings and feedback. The feedback will be from an increasingly sceptical public who are now beginning to realise the consequences of AGW on their life. The forcing will be the actual evolution of the climate. The forcings and feedbacks will act on the inertia of our politicians, who as a rotating body will precess and, hopefully, adopt a stable position.

    • But unlike nature’s holistic process you are describing an unholy process right?

  59. It was after the collapse of cap and trade and Copenhagen that Andy Revkin started pushing ‘communicating’ climate change.’ Not reporting – communicating. He reported on meeting an international group of young people who wanted to learn how to communicate climate change. When I called him on the use of ‘communicate’ rather than report, he replied with a non-responsive answer. Obviously, for Revkin, communication means propaganda. Communication, in Revkin’s sense, is public relations, not journalism.

    Yes, the word communication can be neutral. In the world of global warming advocacy, we need to be realistic and understand actual practice. Around the same time Revkin started talking about ‘communicating’ climate change, he was writing about psychologists explaining why deniers deny. Context is everything.

  60. In Kloor’s extract at the top, is he saying, “How can we communicate risk of climate change in such a way to scare them into action and not make them feel manipulated at the same time?” I grant you this is a cynical interpretation of the excerpted passage, but I cannot discount it because I do not know Kloor’s backstory.

    Regardless, there are significant portions of the public, including some of the poster’s here, who seem to sincerely believe a) perceived risk should be reduced regardless of cost, and b) any climate-risk-reducing action is absent any additional risk or undesirable consequence. My view is that points a) and b) are pure fantasy, but these people have just as much right to vote as do I.

    If Kloor is looking for a more efficient way to scare people, sorry you are on your own. I won’t be a party to such fraud outside of campfire ghost story.

    If you are looking for a responsible way to improve risk communications then your message must include:
    a) What is the probability or likelihood of a set of bad events happening?
    b) What action is propose to mitigate that risk’
    c) What will that action cost in treasure, freedom, and lives.
    d) What is the reduction in risk of those bad events
    e) What new bad events become more likely.

    IF that is too much work, then take your risk communication stories back the nightly campfire spooky story time where they belong.

  61. The marketing aspect of CAGW has been around for a long time.

    Futurra. 2005. The Rules of the Game. PDF October 14 within

    Recommendations to the Climate Change Communications Working Group
    This document was found in the Climate Gate file. Junkscience was good enough to capture it, among others.

    Still available at as a dropdown under the sidebar entry for Climategate.

    • Pooh, Dixie

      Anonymous. 2006. New rules: new game. Futerra, October 12.

      “These short rules are communications techniques which pull together the most effective strategies for changing people’s behaviour. They are based on a huge body of international psychological, sociological and marketing studies, gathered and analysed by Futerra. We’ve taken great concepts with terrible titles like ‘psychological reactance’ and ‘symbolic self-completion’ and translated them into simple-to-use communications tools to motivate behaviour change.”

    • The marketing aspect of AGW goes back to the very beginning, the infamous phonied up stage managed Senate hearing for Hansen to announce his prophecy of doom.

  62. Pooh, Dixie

    Another candidate for auditor would be Alan Carlin (, who prepared an analysis of the IPCC report for the EPA. He was reprimanded and is now retired.

    Carlin, Alan, and NCEE/OPEI. 2009. Comments on Draft Technical Support Document for Endangerment Analysis for Greenhouse Gas Emissions under the Clean Air Act. August 8.

    We have become increasingly concerned that EPA has itself paid too little attention to the science of global warming. EPA and others have tended to accept the findings reached by outside groups, particularly the IPCC and the CCSP, as being correct without a careful and critical examination of their conclusions and documentation. If they should be found to be incorrect at a later date, however, and EPA is found not to have made a really careful independent review of them before reaching its decisions on endangerment, it appears likely that it is EPA rather than these other groups that may be blamed for any errors. Restricting the source of inputs into the process to these these two sources may make EPA’s current task easier but it may come with enormous costs later if they should result in policies that may not be scientifically supportable.

    We do not maintain that we or anyone else have all the answers needed to take action now. Some of the conclusions reached in these comments may well be shown to be incorrect by future research. Our conclusions do represent the best science in the sense of most closely corresponding to available observations that we currently know of, however, and are sufficiently at variance with those of the IPCC, CCSP, and the Draft TSD that we believe they support our increasing concern that EPA has not critically reviewed the findings by these other groups.

    As discussed in these comments, we believe our concerns and reservations are sufficiently important to warrant a serious review of the science by EPA before any attempt is made to reach conclusions on the subject of endangerment from GHGs. We believe that this review should start immediately and be a continuing effort as long as there is a serious possibility that EPA may be called upon to implement regulations designed to reduce global warming. The science has and undoubtedly will continue to change and EPA must have the capability to keep abreast of these changes if it is to successfully discharge its responsibilities. The Draft TSD suggests to us that we do not yet have that capability or that we have not used what we have.

    Based on TSD Draft of March 9, 2009

  63. Alexander Harvey

    The 1966 Academy Award for Best Picture went to “A Man for all Seasons” but of more interest here is the story of the film awarded the Oscar for “Best Documentary (Feature)”.

    It had some interesting characteristics.

    It was not a documentary but a work of fiction.
    It was made for TV and not intented for cinema release.
    It was largely supressed in its country of origin for a further 19 years.
    It dealt with the consequences of an (not to happen) event.
    It became a cause célèbre of risk communication.

    Peter Watkins’ 1965 TV drama “The War Game” was deemed unsuitable for public broadcast by the BBC after consultation with the UK Home Office and the Ministry of Defence.

    Forty Years on (2006) that Oscar would go to Davis Guggenheim’s:

    “An Inconvenient Truth”

    One of these two documentaries could be argued to be the most effective piece of risk communication.

    Kenneth Tynam, a leading critic meida critic at that time said of “The War Game”: “the most important film ever made” which for a film being suppressed was heady stuff. “The War Game” didn’t go quietly into the night. Although seen by few, its message was not lost on the many. The prospects must be so horrific that they don’t want you knowing about them.

    One of the strengths of the film was that it was fictional, but its analysis difficult to deny. Made as a docudrama, hitherto a mostly unknown genre, it confused news coverage, talking heads, narration and fiction in a disturbing way that audiences were not yet accustomed. Shot on location with no credited actors in black & white without expensive effects it was very cheaply made. I believe many the parts were played by the local populous.

    On a scale from 0 to 10 of self-inflicted harm, the limited nuclear engagement depicted in “The War Game” might rank a 9, if 10 was reserved for the real deal.

    Where on that scale is the threat of self-inflicted global warming?

    This is a major problem for the risk communicators. That and the fact that there is no authentic image of what catastrophic global warming looks like. The mushroom clouds were not CGIs. Ground zero Hiroshima, and Nagasaki were not scenarios. There really were flashoints in Indo-China and Berlin as feature in the film. A strong feeling that ones world might end in the next five minutes was not paranoid delusion.

    “The War Game” could get away with a highly fictionalised account because the threat was demonstrable and scary.

    Yet there may be some similarities between these two films. I say may be, as I have never watched “An Inconvenient Truth”.

    I think both are propaganda, both could be seen to be critical of government policy of the day, both highlight a perceived or actual ill-preparedness in the face of existential threat.

    One was almost unseen (which may have helped) and arguably highly effective. The other grossed well for a documentary yet seems to have turned counter-productive.

    No one can know for sure whether the judgment of the BBC, the UK government, and much of the UK media which led to “The War Game” being suppressed was an enlighten one. Had it been aired at that time in its destined peak viewing slot and amidst controversal circumstances on a day marked for rememberance it would likely have been watched by between a quarter to a third of the enitre UK population. Whether the government were more concerned with a collapse of public morale or violent anti-government protest is unclear. That it would have been a propaganda gift to the “Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament” is certain.

    Made for transmission on 6 August 1965, it leaves many questions unanswered but does ponder the likelihood of the depicted events taking place in the following 20 years. It was just these twenty years that passed before it was finally broadcast in the UK on 31 July 1985 just 6 days short of the 40th aniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.

    As best as I can recall “The War Game” did not preach another way, it featured establishment figures justifying war and a populous that gave some support for war. The obvious questions were left open.

    It neither introduced the concept of thermonuclear war nor dealt with the science of nuclear physics. It would have exposed just how ill-prepared the government and populous were for the consequences of even a limited nuclear exchange. That is probably why it was suppressed.

    The entire film is available on Google Video but it is very dated to the point of being almost unbearable in parts.


  64. John. Whitman

    I cannot understand the difficulty in science to simply say the science as it is. No compromise. To do otherwise is simply an intellectual integrity lapse.

    Talking around the simple issue does not inspire.