Public intellectuals in the climate space

by Judith Curry

Wanted: disruptive ideas on climate change.

Academics are being increasingly encouraged by our universities and the funding agencies to communicate: to make our research accessible and understandable, and help build public support for research. I have no quarrel with this (I obviously spend a lot of my time engaging with the public), but this emphasis on ‘communication’ is missing something important, particularly in the context of scientific issues of relevance to the great public debates of the day, e.g. climate change.

I’m not talking about advocacy/partisanship (plenty of that going around); rather I am talking about something else, that might be defined in the context of the ‘public intellectual.’

This post is motivated by a recent paper:

Matt Nisbet: Disruptive ideas: public intellectuals and their arguments for action on climate change

Some other articles referenced in this post:

What is meant by ‘public intellectual’ and why do we need them?

I don’t really like the term ‘public intellectual’; it seems pretentious. The term brings to my mind people like Bertrand Russell, Norman Mailer, Susan Sontag, Noam Chomsky, Mary McCarthy, John Updike, Edward Said, Gore Vidal. Some scientists would arguably also make the list: Albert Einstein, Stephen Jay Gould, Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, James Watson. In the environmental world, we have Rachel Carson and James Lovelock.

A useful categorization is provided by Lightman, whereby the individuals mentioned above are Level III:

Let me now define what I mean by the public intellectual today. Such a person is often a trained in a particular discipline, such as linguistics, biology, history, economics, literary criticism, and who is on the faculty of a college or university. When such a person decides to write and speak to a larger audience than their professional colleagues, he or she becomes a “public intellectual.”

  • Level I: Speaking and writing for the public exclusively about your discipline. This kind of discourse is extremely important, and it involves good, clear, simplified explanations of the national debt, how cancer genes work, or whatever your subject is.
  • Level II: Speaking and writing about your discipline and how it relates to the social, cultural, and political world around it.
  • Level III: By invitation only. A Level III intellectual is asked to write and speak about a large range of public issues, not necessarily directly connected to their original field of expertise at all.

Level I is what I would call ‘science communicators’. Level II is the one that is of particular relevance to the issues I want to address.

What is actually meant by a public intellectual? Here are some responses, of relevance to Level II:

Prospect: What such people offer is exactly what the public conversation needs: ideas, perspectives, criticism and commentary. What anyone who offers them should expect in return is robust examination of what they offer. Whether ideas come to be accepted or rejected, everyone gains by having them discussed. Can one give a catch-all definition of what it is to be a “public intellectual”? They have very little in common other than intelligence and engagement, and the fact that they speak out. Those three things, accordingly, might be taken to capture the essence.

Christopher Hitchens: However, we probably do need a term that expresses a difference between true intellectuals and the rival callings of “opinion maker” or “pundit.” I personally hope the word never quite loses this association with the subversive. There ought to be a word for those men and women who do their own thinking; who care for language above all and guess its subtle relationship to truth; and who are willing and able to nail a lie.

Matt Nisbet provides these reflections:

Instead of straight reporting of events or translation of expert knowledge, they specialize in the synthesis of complex, interdisciplinary areas of research, engaging in deductive analysis across cases and events, ‘working from the top down’, drawing connections, making inferences, and offering judgments

By focusing on synthesis, analysis, and criticism and by writing for popular outlets rather than academic forums, public intellectuals are generally less constrained by the need to maintain access to those in power, or by conventional thought within academe. This trait provides more freedom to challenge prevailing assumptions and conventions, developing in the process a distinctive voice. Public intellectuals also depend on maintaining a reputation for gathering evidence, citing authoritative sources, and appearing flexible enough to change their opinions in the face of contradictory evidence.

Political leaders and news organizations typically avoid challenging widely shared beliefs about a social problem. They instead rely on public intellectuals to lead the way, ‘disturbing the canonical peace’ and ‘defamiliarizing the obvious’ by identifying the flaws in conventional wisdom and by offering alternative renderings of a problem.

In the absence of public intellectuals challenging assumptions, those working on social problems may ‘be lacking in reality testing, be slower in adapting [their] policies and viewpoints to external as well as domestic changes, and be more ‘ideological’.’

AAUP: Given our training in intellectual rigor and openness, we should revel in and capitalize on the generative opportunities that result from the blurring of boundaries, exercising our disciplinary knowledge to focus the nation on a politics of problem solving, emphasize intellectual inquiry rather than partisanship, and conceptualize social challenges as dynamically interrelated. Additionally, we need to model and teach habits of mind for engaged citizenship—creativity, civic mindedness, the ability to mediate among competing viewpoints and interests.

The take home points for me, in terms of what the climate debate needs, are:

  • ideas, perspectives, criticism and commentary.
  • emphasize intellectual inquiry rather than partisanship,
  • association with the subversive; men and women who do their own thinking
  • identifying flaws in conventional wisdom and offering alternative renderings of a problem.
  • ability to mediate among competing viewpoints and interests.

Disincentives from the academy

So, why aren’t more academics engaged in being public intelletuals, shooting for Level II?

Some insights from Lightman: For many years, it was considered a taboo, a professional stigma, for scientists to spend any time at all in writing for the general public. Such an activity was considered a waste of precious time, a soft activity, even a feminine activity. The proper job of a scientist was to penetrate the secrets of the physical world. Anything else was a waste of time, it was dumbing down.

Nicholas Kristof writes: Some of the smartest thinkers on problems at home and around the world are university professors, but most of them just don’t matter in today’s great debates. A basic challenge is that Ph.D. programs have fostered a culture that glorifies arcane unintelligibility while disdaining impact and audience. This culture of exclusivity is then transmitted to the next generation through the publish-or-perish tenure process. Rebels are too often crushed or driven away.

From Harpers: But all shared a commitment to civic debate, which in conformist, consensus-driven America automatically poses dangers to what might otherwise be an orderly and comfortable career. Everyone on my list, whether left wing, right wing, or in between, got in trouble for taking positions that in an argumentative country such as France would be considered necessary and proper. Why is there now a dearth of well-known public intellectuals taking public positions? I suspect it’s partly because of the rise of politically oriented think tanks, whose “fellows” and “scholars” generally have ideological agendas that conflict with genuine scholarship and independent thinking. Many of these people are superficial pseudoscholars awaiting their next government job or TV talk-show appearance.

AAUP writes: Although the civic engagement movement has grown considerably over the past thirty years, institutional interest in funding and rewarding this movement has waned and faculty members remain entrenched in their disciplines.

Public intellectuals in the climate space

There is a substantial number of climate scientists active as ‘Level I’ science communicators: the list compiled by Kirk Englehardt in his interviews works as a starting point. Relevant individuals include: Kevin Trenberth, Gavin Schmidt, Kim Cobb, Marshall Shepherd, John Nielsen-Gammon.  Katherine Hayhoe seems to be branching out into Level II issues. I would categorize Scott Mandia and John Abraham more as ‘pundits’, and Michael Mann as an ‘opinion enforcer’.

Matt Nisbet’s article examines individuals that I regard as Level II public intellectuals who are arguing for action on climate change, his list includes: Bill McKibben, Clive Hamilton, George Monbiot, David Suzuki, Paul Kingsnorth, Naomi Klein, Al Gore, Tom Friedman, Nicholas Stern, Jeffrey Sachs, Amory Lovins, Stewart Brand, Mike Hulme, Roger Pielke Jr, Steve Rayner, Ted Nordhaus Michael Shellenberger, Andrew Revkin, Anthony Giddens, Naomi Oreskes, and James Hansen.

Well, Nisbet’s list above focuses on public intellectuals on the ‘convinced’ side of the debate. What about public intellectuals on the ‘less convinced’ or ‘unconvinced’ sides of this?

In terms of ‘Level 1’ science communicators, some names are Pat Michaels, John Christy, Richard Lindzen. I would argue that Roy Spencer is venturing towards Level II with his books. Pundits include Marc Morano and Anthony Watts. In terms of Level II, examples include Bjorn Lomborg, Matt Ridley, Richard Tol, Eija-Ritta Korhola. These are just examples; by no means an exhaustive list.  Some individuals with a lower public profile but nevertheless contributing in the spirit of Level II with their writings (mainly books) include Andrew Montford and Rud Istvan.

JC reflections

We clearly need more people in this space, from pundits to science communicators, but especially full-fledged (Level II) public intellectuals.  Given the colossal import of the topic of climate change, why are there so few public intellectuals operating in this space?  The disincentives at universities are pretty substantial.  But the real issue is the ‘consensus enforcement’, which has resulted in the degeneration of discourse on both sides to mere partisanship, not to mention vehement attacks against opponents.  We DON’T need any more partisan advocates; we already have plenty of those.

I think the root of the problem is mistaking climate change for a tame problem, and that a ‘speaking consensus to power’ approach would work. It hasn’t, and it won’t.  We are dealing with a wicked mess.  To break out of this rut, we need disruptive ideas, subversive ideas even, and alternative renderings/framing of the climate problem and its solutions.

I was struck by this statement from Harpers: “that in an argumentative country such as France would be considered necessary and proper.”  Where is the provocative and politically ‘incorrect’ spirit of Charlie Hebdo in the climate debate?  I am trying to think of French scholars active in the climate debate; I am only coming up with Claude Allegre and Jean Jouzel. Well we need some of the French ‘argumentative spirit’ here.

One issue that concerns me is that there are very few climate scientists operating at Level II public intellectuals.  Jim Hansen is the primary example, with a few others flirting around the edges of Level II.  One challenge is the need for interdisciplinary expertise.  Jim Hansen, as an example, has developed considerable knowledge about renewable energy technologies.

The blogosphere has opened up a venue for scientists to develop a voice on the public-analytical side of the climate debate.  However, the disincentives from the consensus enforcers remain profound, making it very uncomfortable for academics who are potentially interested in discussing alternative renderings of the climate problem and its solutions.  This leaves think tanks (which tend to be partisan), or something for emeritus (retired) professors or otherwise independently wealthy individuals.

It occurred to me that I should say something about where I fit in all this.  Beyond climate science, I am exploring the philosophy and sociology of climate science and the science-policy interface. I am trying to change the culture so climate scientists and others are motivated to think outside of the ‘consensus’ box about the wicked mess that is the climate change problem.  Mostly, I appreciate doing what I find interesting and important, without worrying about how it is categorized.


444 responses to “Public intellectuals in the climate space

  1. Thomas Sowell strikes me as an important public intellectual who’s branched out from his economics base. He recently came out with some thoughts on the climate scene but his deeper insights are on intellectuals themselves and two visions of the world that govern them.

    • Even a cursory reading of Sowell’s article shows that
      1) he doesnt’ understand the science
      2) is merely repeating the same old bull he’s heard on denier sites around the Internet that make the same old wrong claims.

      Thomas Sowell never struck he as a thinker. He’s a useful cog in the machine. Don’t confuse the two.

      • nottawa rafter


        I assume you have read his book “Intellectuals and Society”. The book puts the whole concept into perspective and allows me to judge the relevance of what individuals have to offer.

      • Hi David. nottawa’s right to point to “Intellectuals and Society”, which mercilessly exaamines the perverse incentives in this area, in a way I find highly relevant to the climate scene. I’d also recommend “A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles”, “The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy”, “Conquests And Cultures: An International History”, and its sequels, and “The Quest for Cosmic Justice”. I wouldn’t have thought anyone could tackle any of these books without coming to realise that this black ex-Marxist is an original thinker, a genuine scholar and a superb communicator. But that’s your prerogative.

        Meanwhile I’m sure, despite your low opinion of him, you wouldn’t call Sowell a nigger just because you disagreed with him. That’s how denier sounds to me and how helpful I feel it is to furthering reasoned climate debate. The last climate scientist I made that point to on Twitter vowed he’d stop using the term. Eventually. More on that story here, if you wish to debate it. But a page on public intellectuals and the climate space could do with washing its mouth out when it has this disgraceful epithet in the second comment, not least as an example to first-named Dr Trenberth and friends, who’ve led the way so abysmally in this area.

      • Otter, assuming you are referring to Appell, I second the motion.

      • The sum came up ablunder out of certainty in the way.

      • One bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch, but it can turn the discourse toward a food fight, just for the, you know, for the lulz

      • The First Rule of Food Fights is ‘Don’t Start ’til Everybody’s Full’.

      • JCH: No he doesn’t. That’s the title given to the blog piece you point to at the Election Law Center. It points in turn to Sowell’s piece Voter Fraud and Voter I.D. which has no denier or denial mentioned at all.

        I’d say nice try but it really isn’t.

      • At least with voter fraud the science backs Dr Sowell all the way.

      • As for the “science” of voter ID, Obama and Holder paid an expert witness in the NC case to testify that blacks were too stupid to figure out where they were supposed to vote, too stupid to understand the issues and too stupid to figure out who to vote for. And this “science” from a Democrat expert supposedly proves that Republicans are racist.

        Note — lefties argue about global warming using the same tactics and same logic they use on Voter ID — slander and “science” made to order.

      • Matthew R Marler

        kim: The sum came up ablunder out of certainty in the way.

        You are always a delight. That one is way above average.

      • Thanks, Matt. I gotta H/t Thomas Sowell, muse for that one. His prose is thundering, even deafening.

      • Richard according to the fifth assessment report of the IPCC the Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity is likely in the range from 1.5°C to 4.5°C. personally I think that 1.5°C is reasonable and so there will never be cAGW. Such a belief means that Appell calls me a denier.

      • So Appell goes straight to ad hominem. Dismisses the individual without even considering the arguments. Classic.

      • Oh? And you do?
        Here’s a summary of the non-controversial data:
        The observation acknowledged by the experts is this:
        1 During the last century, the earth warmed slightly (less than 1°C).
        2 The earth has generally cooled over the last 12,000 years. We are currently at the cold end of the Holocene (the period since the end of the last Ice Age. See the Greenland and Vostok ice records.
        3 The earth has generally warmed since the depths of the Little Ice Age around 1650, at a rate somewhere around a half a degree Celsius per century. See Akasufo, the Central England Temperature (CET), and the Armagh records.
        4 The largest warming in any instrumental record occurred around 1680 – 1730. See the CET and Armagh records.
        5 The earth was either stable or cooled slightly from about 1945 to 1975.
        6 The earth warmed slightly from about 1975 to 1998.
        7 There has been no statistically significant warming from 1995 to the present (Feb. 2010).
        The experts include Phil Jones.

        Antarctic ice has been growing steadily for the last 30 years. Is it surprising that pieces are going to fall off the periphery?

        1/ Is global warming happening?
        2/ Is it a bad thing?
        3/ Are we causing it?
        4/ Is there anything we can do about it?
        Answers seem to be:
        1/ A little bit
        2/ Not necessarily – there are benefits as well as potential problems.
        3/ Doesn’t seem so – CO2 is not a major factor, and even if it is, mankind is a very small contributor to CO2.
        4/ Because we are a tiny contributor to CO2, which is a very teeny contributor to GW, then our actions to reduce this will have virtually no effect.

        Water vapor is responsible for 95 per cent of the greenhouse effect, an effect which is vital to keep the world warm (15C instead of -18C)
        The other greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen dioxide, and various others including CFCs, contribute only five per cent of the effect, carbon dioxide being by far the greatest contributor at 3.6 per cent.
        Carbon dioxide as a result of man’s activities is only 3.2 per cent of that, hence only 0.12 per cent of the greenhouse gases in total.
        By far the greatest source of manmade CO2 is cement manufacture, and by far the greatest contributor is China.

        The only factors that control the effect of CO2 on climate are the amount of thermal radiation from the Earth in the 13.5 to 15 micron band and the saturation of this band at the concentration levels of CO2.
        At our current concentration of 385ppmv the band is 85% – 90% saturated. At 770ppmv it will be about 88% – 92% saturated.
        A doubling of CO2 from our current level of 385ppmv to 770ppmv will only increase the global temperature by something less than 0.3°C not the 3°C of the climate models that use a relationship based on 100ppmv increase from preindustrial 280 to 380ppmv resulting in the entire 0.6°C of warming in the IPCC 2001 report.
        If nothing else, since the MBH98 temperature proxy was discredited, the IPCC can no longer use the 0.6°C value but have to reduce this by the observed natural warming that occurred since the little ice age of 0.5°C/century.
        This leaves only 0.1°C of warming possibly due to CO2 and when this is factored in the IPCC models will yield results of no more than 0.5°C for a doubling of CO2.

        Roger Pielke, PhD says:
        In regard to CO2, examine the evidence and find that:
        1) Human contributions will never add enough CO2 to come even remotely close to historic levels of CO2. We would run out of hydrocarbons to burn long before we ever came close.
        2) Historically, 8,000ppm (give or take) did not cause a climate catastrophe.
        3) The last time the planet was as cold as it has been for the last 5 million years was during the Ordovician Ice Age (460 million years ago). At that time, CO2 was about 4,500ppm (give or take).
        4) So, when the IPCC suggests a worst case scenario of less than 800ppm by 2100, I can’t get too excited.
        5) It is (MAYBE) theoretically possible that volcanoes could reverse a 600 million year trend and add enough CO2 to create a risk (at least in the eyes of OSHA) to human health. But even OSHA says anything under 5,000ppm is safe.

        Klaus-Ekart Puls, physicist and meteorologist was interviewed by the Swiss magazine “factum”:
        factum: In your view, melting Antarctic sea ice and the fracture of a huge iceberg 3 years ago are nothing to worry about?
        Puls: To the contrary, the Antarctic ice cap has grown both in area and volume over the last 30 years, and temperature has declined. This 30-year trend is clear to see. The Amundsen Scott Station of the USA shows that temperature has been declining there since 1957. 90% of the Earth’s ice is stored in Antarctica, which is one and half times larger than Europe.

        factum: Then why do we always read it is getting warmer down there?
        Puls: Here they are only talking about the West Antarctic peninsula, which is where the big chunk of ice broke off in 2008 – from the Wilkins-Shelf. This area is hardly 1% of the entire area of Antarctica, but it is exposed to Southern Hemisphere west wind drift and some of the strongest storms on the planet.

        factum: So we don’t need to do anything against climate change?
        Puls: There’s nothing we can do to stop it. Scientifically it is sheer absurdity to think we can get a nice climate by turning a CO2 adjustment knob. Many confuse environmental protection with climate protection. It’s impossible to protect the climate, but we can protect the environment and our drinking water. On the debate concerning alternative energies, which is sensible, it is often driven by the irrational climate debate. One has nothing to do with the other.

      • @ stan

        “Note — lefties argue about global warming using the same tactics and same logic they use on Voter ID — slander and “science” made to order.”

        As you point out: The patron saint of Climate Science is Saul Alinsky, not Karl Popper.

    • +3 for Dr. Sowell and his thoughtful article. Someone should bring this to the attention of Willis E. — I like Sowell’s common-sense approach, that reality trumps theory, every time. Nice echoes of Feynman, another public scientist in his time, and a master at puncturing scientists’ theoretical pretensions.

    • Thanks for referencing Sowell’s article. As usual, he is spot on with his comments. I love the guy.

    • Sowell: “Unfortunately, we are not likely to hear any similar apologies from those who have been promoting “global warming” hysteria for years, in defiance of data that fail to fit their climate models…”

      Really? I look at the graphs at the bottom of this page – – and the average surface temperature prediction (hindcast) from the ‘Anthropogenic plus Natural Forcings’ ensemble looks pretty accurate. Perhaps more significantly, it looks much more accurate that the prediction from the ‘Natural Forcings Only’ ensemble. No need to apologize for being right.

      (See for additional info.)

      • ChrisG,

        Please help me with this.
        First, the graphs end +/- 2005, so exclude much of the current pause (and no reference so I can check myself) vs. models to see if they got the pause right.
        2nd, there is a bit of a miss +/- 1940 that is not addressed even in hindcast with presumably better data than a “predictive” model would provide in forecasting and involve appox. .4C.
        So with those two tidbits, and the difference between the missed peak +/- 1940 why would I assume the .5C difference +/- 1980 to +/-2000 is soley anthro CO2 vs. a second missed natural? Correlation to CO2 is all I could guess, but that’s still a guess. What did I miss?

      • @chris g

        Hey Chris. I can do ‘hindcasts’ too!

        I can tell you with 100% certainty what last week’s UK football results were. And the week before that. And the one before……

        Impressed? You shouldn’t be. There is nothing at all clever about looking backwards. Reading yesterdays newspaper is not much of an intellectual achievement.

        But forecasting *next* weeks results would be a skill worth having.

        Let’s see how the models do at that:

        Oh dear. 97% of them are consistently ‘running hot’.

        That speaks to me of a systemic failure of understanding and/or realisation.

        And wilful blindness to this fundamental observation – that Mother Nature ain’t doing what the models predict – does nothing to enhance the status of climatology or climatologists
        in my eyes.

        As Feynman so succinctly put it

        ‘If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong’.

        The models are badly wrong.

    • Reading Thomas Sowell, Intellectuals and Society now. Much more interesting and enlightening than temperature adjustments.

  2. Judy, please keep up this discussion. It is sorely needed to clear the fog. Most of all, the issues around climate and human efforts to change it, is the most wicked of all with respect to human interaction with the total environment. Only humans reacting to humans loom larger.

  3. We need another category, which I would propose to call Level Zero. This would be for pseudo intellectuals who don’t actually know anything about a topic, but who nevertheless proceed to spout off about it anyway (and to criticize any who disagree with them). The warmunistas especially seem to be made up of many of these.

    • nottawa rafter

      Level 0 would include nearly all celebrities, save a few, who use their access to a fawning media for their pet topics.

    • That would include also all those sociologists and psychologists who research and write about the “phenomenon” of science denial (a.k.a. climate science denial).
      They have absolutely zero expertise or understanding in climate science or physics in general.

  4. So … are these guys saying Bill Clinton and Al Gore are “Level III” public intellectuals? If so, you’re better off stopping at Level II anyways.

  5. Where does someone like Nye fit into this scheme?
    From the article:

    Words are everything, even in the global warming debate. TV personality Bill Nye the “Science Guy” told MSNBC’s Joy Reid to use the phrase climate change, not global warming, when it’s so cold out.

    “Let’s not confuse or interchange climate change with global warming,” Nye told Reid on Monday. “Global warming – The world is getting warmer. There is more carbon [dioxide] holding in more heat.”

    • pundit, who sells himself as an ‘expert’

      • Of course he’s an expert, he wears a bow tie.

      • Planning Engineer

        In my opinion, good call on Bill Nye. I was sorry to see his transition from science popularizer to pseudo-expert.

        But how do we distinguish intellectuals from pseudo-intellectuals or experts from pseudo-experts/pundits? On the one hand I think some who public intellectuals have a demonstrated propensity for critical thinking, hard logic, rigor, honesty and integrity when they comment across areas. Others perceived as public intellectuals, I think of as careless advocates, speaking in the language of science but prone to cheerleading and repeating unsupported, unsubstantiated, popular nonsense.

        I think the term intellectual is deserved when someone can say things that challenge and violate the public wisdom, and especially my own, in ways that reflect knowledge, reason and engaging with the facts whether supportive or not (Russelll, Hitchens, Chomsky) . Post hoc,applying scientific knowledge and concepts to support popular causes, seems like a disqualifier to me (Micho Kako, Bill Nye and maybe but hope not Neil DeGrasse Tyson).

        In the long run, maybe intellectuals are recognized, but in the short term and evaluating the dialogues today it seems that mostly people (and I’m sure I’m guilty of it to an extent) find those who largely agree with them as worthwhile intellectuals and those who don’t as not. What are the checks to this?

      • good point, i think it was the AAUP article that said something like ‘or at least can play one on TV’. Being able to write lucidly as a public intellectual is one thing, being able to ‘perform’ effectively on TV or in public debates is another.

      • These days I think he’s closer to putz than pundit.

      • How do you keep from being snide on Bill Nye, after you’ve been to Our Mr. Sun with Hemo the Magnificent? Yes, I remember his name.

    • He is in the catagory of climate-fail-files:

      He’s a traveling showman peddling his wares:

    • Jim 2 that is a lie. Bill Nye did not tell… “MSNBC’s Joy Reid to use the phrase climate change, not global warming, when it’s so cold out.”

      In fact he pleads for the Media to raise the possibility that extreme weather events are due to CLIMATE CHANGE.

      Here’s Mediaite’s transcript.

      “Why should we care that it is cold in the winter?” MSNBC’s Joy Reid said Monday after a report on freezing weather hitting a large portion of the country this week. “Well, for one thing the unusual nature of some of the temperatures does raise, or should raise questions about climate change.”

      Joining her, Nye warned, “Let’s not confuse or interchange climate change with global warming,” noting that when the climate changes, “some places get colder.”

      “What I would hope for, my dream, Joy, is that you all, you in the news business would say the words ‘climate change,’” Nye continued. “Just like, ‘It could be climate change,’ ‘It’s a possible connection to climate change,’ ‘Is it possible evidence of climate change?’ Can you just toss that in now and then?”

      I note that the Daily Caller did not even post the clip or provide a verbatim transcript. But then it is the DC.

      Then @ordvic goes on to call Nye a con artist based on no evidence. I can only assume Judith you you agree with ordvic because you allowed that defamatory statement to stand.

      • I was calling him a con artist due to his phoney CO2 experiment I linked to.

      • PG,

        If you have any interest in integrity then seeing comments like Nye’s should raise a red flag. The shift in terminology from global warming to climate change was purposeful and based on concerns about public perception, not any shift in scientific understanding of the issue. Comments such as Bill Nye’s to Joy Reid are a deliberate and dishonest attempt to con people. They are smart enough to figure out few citizens are likely to listen to anyone decrying the threat of global warming when ass deep in snow.

      • I saw that on WUWT. It’s not only pitiful that they never tested it themselves, but as I sure everybody knows here the theory only applies to the interface with a vacuum, like the TOA. You would think that even Nye would know the true physics.

    • You mean the Bill Nye who doesn’t know the difference between Arctic and Antarctic?

      He probably regrets this particular public aspect of his intellect.

  6. This thought/proposal exposes one of the major problems with climate “science.” If you think you need three levels of climate science “communicators” or PR flacks, you don’t understand your communication problems.

    Problem 1. Climate science communications have for decades gone for hyperbole: there is always some imminent crisis, with a tipping point around the corner and the world will end if we don’t take drastic action now. I first came into this “science” with Erhlich/Holdren pronouncements of the next ice age, impending global wars over diminishing resources, mass starvations, etc. All this was going to be happening by the early 1980’s. Heck, I had an expert climate scientist explain the next ice age on the 3rd floor of Withers Hall, NCSU, about 1973. He told me that the North American ice pack advance would be faster than I could walk. As a simple minded chemist, I couldn’t come up with just how that was going to happen. I’ve since watched decades of expert climate scientists drumming up the skeer with one impending crisis after another, none of which happens.

    Solution to Problem 1. Be honest with your projections even if it hurts your funding.

    Problem 2. Climate scientists believe in models that have very poor predictive values. In the real world, models have to work. Try the poor predictive ability found for climate models in a chemical plant and if you are really lucky you won’t kill people.
    Solution to problem 2: Be very honest in communicating the uncertainties of your models. Averaging 100 models that don’t predict to get an answer isn’t science.
    Problem 3. Climate scientist would have the public believe they can control the climate. Just have the common folk make the appropriate sacrifices and we will save the planet. We’ve been making sacrifices to appease the gods for most of human evolution. They haven’t worked yet.
    Problem 4. Climate science is communicated with no real doubts. Climate scientists are presented as members of a holy order who communicate directly with the climate gods.
    Problem 5. Faux statistics on consensus. Climate scientists tend to accept very badly done, biased studies that say there is a 97% consensus.
    Problem 6. Try using real statistics when you present your studies. Most of the reports look like the standard deviations are 0 because you don’t use them.

    I became a climate skeptic years ago because I kept hearing really over the top pronouncements from expert climate scientists that tried to keep up the skeer and, for the life of me, it seemed that the Eureka alerts and press conferences were timed so as not to overlap. My BS detector went up.

    If you want to a PR communication, then create a new level of climate communicators. If you want to really communicate climate science, then do it simply so the layman can understand it, but be honest about what you know and what you don’t really know. If a prediction fails, don’t do a tap dance and try to deny you blew it.

    • If you really want to communicate climate science, enter into debate. Refusing to debate, as the mainstream have done consistently, won’t persuade anyone who can think.

    • John Smith (it's my real name)

      NCSU 1973
      I was there
      Withers, that’s not the round one is it?
      took me 2 years to figure out floor was color coded
      Lou Holtz almost ran over me a couple of times

    • +1000. Excellent post, Bob.

      It’s not extra intellectuals or communicators that ‘climate science’ needs.

      It’s extra science.

    • Good comments, but how do you communicate truth when one side in the debate controls both the media and the government?

    • Bob: Chapter 9 of the IPCC Working Group I Assessment Report 5 (WG1AR5) doesn’t meet your criteria for honest disclosure of uncertainty?

      Link =

      • Quite a bit to read, but it is more qualitative in uncertainty in climate models. Models are not data. Do they put estimates of uncertainty with climate models? Do they really do uncertainty with actual measurements? On model projections they give qualitative uncertainty/error estimates. On measurement data, dig really deep. Anyone who claims 2014 was the hottest year evah on an anomaly subtraction resulting in 0.02° and doesn’t talk about measurement uncertainty upfront is communicating absolute BS. It was hidden in the press announcement. Remember, that’s when Schmidt said he was 38% certain, but that meant 60%. Honest communication is not really something in the climate science DNA when they can get away with BS like that with immunity.

      • @ Bob Greene

        A great succession of posts.

        “Anyone who claims 2014 was the hottest year evah on an anomaly subtraction resulting in 0.02° and doesn’t talk about measurement uncertainty upfront is communicating absolute BS.”

        From the official NASA web site:

        “The year 2014 ranks as Earth’s warmest since 1880, according to two separate analyses by NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists.”

        Is there anyone on this forum who believes that ANYONE knows the Annual Temperature of the Earth for each year since 1880 so that they can be placed in rank order according to the annual temperature, and that the annual temperatures are known with enough precision to justify the official announcement that 2014 was the hottest–by 0.02 degrees?

      • Bobs (Greene and Ludwick) good points. I, for one, do not believe “that ANYONE knows the Annual Temperature of the Earth for each year since 1880 so that they can be placed in rank order according to the annual temperature, and that the annual temperatures are known with enough precision to justify the official announcement that 2014 was the hottest–by 0.02 degrees?”

        The focus on measuring GST is bizarre. The usual suspects have hijacked the “week in review” comments to rehash the adjustments debate for the umpteenth time. Lots of discussion about people fr-udulently adjusting the data. The fr-ud or hoax is in the way the alarmist organizations and politicians try to misuse and distort the data to foment fear and concern on behalf of the public and policy makers.

      • This is laughable nonsense.

        2014 is the warmest year. It was also the warmest 12-month span, but it lost that title 31 days later. And the king of the heap is about to lose it a mere 28 days later.

      • JCH –

        Where do you get your month on month data?

  7. “We clearly need more people in this space, from pundits to science communicators, but especially full-fledged (Level II) public intellectuals.”

    The last thing we need are more “intellectuals”, public or otherwise, in this or any political debate.

    The concept that the universities of this country are the repository of some hidden army of free thinkers is nothing short of ridiculous. There is no area of western society more conformist, more riddled with speech and thought codes, than the academy.

    Not to mention that polls uniformly show the overwhelmingly progressive outlook of the vast majority of the “intellectuals”, with minor deviation in engineering and a few other disciplines.

    What precisely is missing from the “climate debate”? What great insights into the arguments for and against decarbonization of the global energy economy aer we not hearing?

    We are having a raucous, open (despite the best efforts of the progressives) debate on one of the more important policy issues of our time – the degree of control we will allow our present crop of government “intellectuals” to have over the economy.

    I’m sorry, I just don’t see it. More pontificating, by more people who consider themselves intellectuals, on an issue that has been bloviated to death already?

    CAGW is a a political debate. It is being decided, as it should be, by voters who have access to all sides of the debate at a level never before experienced by mankind. (Which is one of the reasons progressives are trying so hard to limit their access to information – from the MSM filtering out any inconvenient facts, to politicians passing speech codes and trying to regulate the internet,)

    Any “intellectual” who wants to can join the debate, even literary critics (really, literary critics?). But the suggestion that they will somehow de-politicize the politics of a political issue is not just impossible by definition, it is wrong headed.

    • ‘The concept…the academy’. 100% spot on!

    • > … progressives are trying so hard to limit their access to information – from the MSM filtering out any inconvenient facts, to politicians passing speech codes and trying to regulate the internet

      This includes the refrains: “We do not debate in public” and “It’s all in the peer-reviewed literature” (inaccessible to most people)

    • It isn’t that intellectuals, as critical thinkers, haven’t made,
      and will continue to make, contributions to human civilization.
      But we need to be wary of swallowing their wares hook, line
      and sinker.

      Cautionary reminders:

      Philip Tetlock’s study of political and economic experts
      error rates many times greater than the experts own error
      estimates, no difference in results whether you had a PHD
      or only had an undergraduate degree. (Taleb.’The Black

      Take into account the rarified air of ivy-walled academia.
      The homogeneity of schools. The projections without skin
      in the game, without Hammurabi real-world accountability.
      Think Ehrlich, Lewandowski, Gergis et al, Joseph Stiglitz …

      Remember those Utopian top down designs for a brave new
      world, their blindness to human nature and processes of
      messy innovation that creates the wealth of nations.

      Consider the intellectual hubris of too-confident modelling
      of complex systems and reluctance to do the Feynmann

      Jest sayin’.

    • + 100 to GaryM and Bob Greene, who identify elements of the real “wicked mess,” rather than CAGW which is a total mess.

      • I agree Faustino. I always read GaryM’s posts and Bob Greene will be another one that I will follow. I was interested to read that John Smith, another one of our thoughtful and civilised commenters here, was a fellow student of Bob Greene at NCSU in the early 1970’s.

      • Peter, Denizens II was fascinating, great company to keep.

      • Heh, she deleted my credentials. As time goes by, I continue much grateful for the wise editing.

      • kim, did i delete something of yours from denizens II (i thought i just deleted a few general replies to other entries). If so, pls repost

      • Perfectly wonderful, you thought my comment was in error. Here was my contribution:


        As is often demonstrated, I am in error.

    • Excellent post, GaryM as always. Along the same vein, Curry’s quote from Nick Kristoff was important because it didn’t take the next step. The quote was:
      “A basic challenge is that Ph.D. programs have fostered a culture that glorifies arcane unintelligibility while disdaining impact and audience. ”

      And why is that? Because, frankly, too many university programs have adopted a political agenda so discredited that they need to obscure the truth in order to advance it.
      Academia is becoming irrelevant because everyone knows exactly what any academic is going to say about their chosen topic and, more importantly, we know evidence will have absolutely no impact on that opinion. You do not turn to academia for ideas, you turn to it for activists.
      Paul Ehrlich is a public intellectual beloved by academia and the press and many politicians. He runs population studies at Stanford, an allegedly premier university that charges $14,000 per quarter for undergrads. Yet any government that actually listened to him and followed his advice would be a disaster. If you want to know what he thinks about things, just read The Population Bomb – he argues it’s held up very well, massive amounts of evidence to the contrary is irrelevant. Who would look to Stanford for reliable information on population questions?

  8. Here’s an article published today about public intellectuals from an Economist in NZ that you might be interested it:

    • good article, thx

      • I think a more complete discussion of this subject and some of your parameters is in order.

        To talk about public intellectuals in the U.S. today without discussing in greater detail the homogenization of acceptable political thought in academia might be missing one of the largest explanatory factors.

        Similarly, to talk about a dearth of public intellectuals in the U.S. is really a matter of using a restrictive definition to limit the universe under inspection.

        If you think about people like Fareed Zakaria (whom I like), Thomas Friedman (whom I don’t), Naomi Klein, Bill Gates, Bjorn Lomborg and many, many more, we have people with varying degrees of academic qualifications speaking and writing publicly on a wide array of issues of public importance. Many have acquired sector expertise during the course of their progression towards acceptance as contributors in at least one, but often many fields. I think you should recognize the possibility that on-the-job training, even if it occurs in the public eye,can lead to a public intellectual. Certainly Bertrand Russell evolved in his public statements over the course of his very long stay in the public eye.

        I’m surprised you don’t include people like Nate Silver, Paul Krugman, Mark Kleiman, Tyler Cowen and more from your list. It seems as if you are excluding the blogosphere from the realm of public discussion.

        The recently retired Andrew Sullivan is at the very least a pundit, as are Kevin Drumm (especially on the subject of crime and levels of lead in the bloodstream) and other high traffic bloggers.

        The venue of public discourse should not be a determining factor–it is the reality of public discussion with a large number of participants that should be a pre-qualification.

        Finally, just as science has fragmented over the last century, with sub-specialties becoming necessary to deal with the vast increase in knowledge and information, so too has public discussion become more siloed, with people focusing on issues key to them. That’s one of the key problems with the climate debate of course, with participants and followers identifying someone they trust on issue A and believing that confers credibility on climate change. But it is equally true across the broad spectrum of issues inspiring public debate.

        Bertrand Russell, again, due primarily to the overwhelming advantage of living a very long time in a period where his specialties covered a spectrum of scientific thought that covered a lot of high-end knowledge, actually was in a position to speak about many issues of importance in the public sphere. To a lesser extent, so were scientists like Stephen Jay Gould. However, although I have developed a lot of trust in Judith Curry on climate issues (and related subjects like the evolution of thought in science and things like uncertainty, wicked problems and more), if you started making pronouncements on biotechnology and GMOs I wouldn’t necessarily give those pronouncements the same automatic credibility that I give you on most climate issues.

        But the internet means I don’t really have to. There are niche writers on those issues that I can turn to–I just have to qualify them in the same way I qualified you.

      • It seems to me that Naomi Klein is more of an intellectual hack who engages in yellow journalism. This is reason enough to exclude her from the class of “public intellectuals.” Personally, I think Paul Krugman belongs there also.

      • Andrew Sullivan’s obsession with Sarah Palin’s womb and his refusal to acknowledge the error of his wholly unfounded delusions about her child’s true parentage disqualifies him from just about everything related to published opinion, much less being considered an intellectual.

      • A low, smutty fellow, that Sullivan.

  9. I suppose there is value in people like Thomas Sowell, who brings everything back to commonsense, or David Goldman (aka Spengler) who can be wrong headed as anybody but never loses touch with his role as prying challenger/questioner from history.

    Too many public intellectuals are mailing automated responses to the choir and calling it “speaking truth to power”. Heroic atheists are the worst: a dreary mainstream in search of the last surviving creationists to shock.

    What we most need for climate understanding is someone who can, for example, explain either why the Earth being a hot ball does not matter to the skinny crust on its outside, or why it does matter and why, therefore, we should shut up about climate till we do know.

    We don’t need to merge the cult of the climate scientist and the cult of the public intellectual to swell the climatariat even more. How many sandwiches will be needed at how many climate conferences till we say “enough!”.

    We need people of scientific bent who know stuff because they’ve noticed stuff. Semmelweis and so on. They won’t be popular. Semmelweiss and so on.

    First catch your climate scientist!

    • “Too many public intellectuals are mailing automated responses to the choir and calling it ‘speaking truth to power’”

      Isn’t it just precious that the government, its apparatchiks, and sycophantic supporters, all speaking on behalf of the drive for ever more power for an already massive government, claim to be speaking truth to power?

      What’s even funnier is that they believe their own schtick.

      • I suppose guys like Sowell and Goldman would be in my 3% of worth-reading.

        Of the 97% (I did a survey of me and came up with 97), the most dismal would be the “communicators”. I’d rather spend time wrestling live eels in an oil bath than seizing and untwisting the communications of professional communicators.

      • “Speak truth to power” has been transformed into self-parody as blinkered consensus-enforcers decry dissent and demand servile subjection to power.

        “Speak truth to power” = OBEY us, or else….

  10. “So when the climate changes, some places get colder,” Nye added. “And the thing that’s really consistent with climate change models is this variance where it’s cold, it’s warm, it’s cold, it’s warm… So what I would hope for, my dream, Joy, is that you all, you and the news business would just say the word climate change.”

    Yes. Well. A flash of genius, perhaps? If the climate never changes, then things stay as they are? Who could possibly have worked this out, in the absence of the fine mind of a Warmist?

    I wonder what this pundit would make of the changing seasons – cold, warm, cold . . ., or of floods, droughts, volcanoes, the erratic three dimensional dance of the Earth’s crust!

    Ah! It’s obvious – there’s more carbon holding in more heat – never to be released, of course, otherwise it would cool down like everything else. So the missing heat will be released in the future by the High Priests of Warmism, and we will all fry, unless we bow down and prostrate ourselves at the feet of the Warmist Experts and Pundits.

    Of course, keeping the money flowing will buy indulgences. You can buy repentance for a small fee, and be saved from the aweful effects of the Hidden Heat.

    Do I hear a faint echo from history? I wonder where I have heard a similar story before!

    Let us all share Bill Nye’s hopes and dreams – may the climate continue to change. Let us all realise that climate is the average of weather. If the weather ever stops changing, it’s a reasonable supposition that we have all died and gone to Heaven.

    Live well and prosper,

    Mike Flynn.

  11. I’d love for Nassim Taleb to get involved in the climate debate and apply the same rigour of analysis that he did to the economics and finance systems. So far his contribution has been identifying climate change as a potential black swan, and leaving it at that, instead of examining the predictions of climate scientists with a critical eye.

  12. Dr.Curry, I miss the “Great Explainer” Richard Feynman in your list. I can’t stop wondering where he would be in the AGW discussion today. His voice could be decisive for either side, although the usual suspects might spin his love for the bongo’s away from his academic wisdom.

    • A physicist frequenting strip clubs would be viewed as even more repellant than an astronomer wearing a shirt with scantily-clad women on it. The mob would attack in force.

  13. It’s going to take more than “intellectuals” (whatever they may be) to convince the public of the existence of a clearly non-existent threat.

    Most people have remarkably effective filters, basically, you don’t need to be a cowboy to recognise the smell of bullsh!t when it’s thrust under your nose, no matter how many “intellectuals” you recruit to tell them you it smells of roses.

    The increase in atmospheric CO2 continues, but no evident warming, no more – in fact, less – hurricanes, no melting ice caps, no major change in just about anything in the 30-odd years that we have been told desperate stories of doom and gloom. In fact, global sea ice cover increases year on year, crops yields increase year on year, and it seems even the deserts are greening.

    Of course, the sad fact that everybody over the age of 50 or so has heard it all before time and time again doesn’t help the Warmist’s case.

    Sorry Warmists, it’s over

    You AGW evangelists are the deniers now, live with it..

  14. Thanks for this post, Professor Curry.

    Disruptive ideas are eliminated by anonymous reviews of research papers and proposals.

    That is the way “consensus science” was molded into Standard Models.

  15. The truth is that the math for AGW doesn’t work. Without the math, nothing they say matters. (The cornerstone of AGW is the retained heat. There shouldn’t be any doubt that it is warmer, everywhere. The heat retained over the last 18 years isn’t marginal, it’s massive. It didn’t happen). That makes the theory invalid. What is that these people are trying to prove? A rule by mob, we just know it’s the co2. Actual science, AGW is dead.
    It’s a last ditch effort to convince people of AGW, that’s all that is. Meanwhile, I think that the people AGW are counting on has decided something else.

    • Except that politicians and their appointees make policy and to the best of my knowledge, they rarely display any skill in math.

  16. The only type of climate change that is a concern to the mainstream is rising temperature. All the mainstream literature refers to it and quantifies it (0.2 deg C / decade, etc). At no point is the mainstream concerned about non-rising temperature, except to deny that it is happening. At no point whatsoever is the mainstream concerned about global cooling, as it is completely ruled out by the models.

    So the issue is explicitly global warming.

  17. Judith, really:

    “Given the colossal import of the topic of climate change…………….”

    You are sounding like Obama, Kerry, Gore, Ban Ki Moon, Bill Nye etc. Characterizing climate change this way just adds fuel to the alarmist BS meme. And it just ain’t true except maybe to those who make their living off the climate change teat.

    I read this blog every day along with lots of other stuff. Climate change is interesting and challenging and fun but in the grand scheme of things that we need to be worrying about it just doesn’t cut it.

    Try this especially with links worth reading: This is colossally important stuff. BEST’s futzing with temperature data is lively sport but hardly colossally important. Nic Lewis’ takedown of Marotzke etc. was great entertainment, very enlightening and an easier read than the American Interest article I have linked.

    • For the record, I was turned on to The American Interest by Dr. Curry.

    • Mark, in spite of any vodka, you are making sense here. So much climate theory and so many climate solutions ignore geopolitical reality. There is always something you can do about the Middle East, Venezuela, Nigerian tribesmen, Russia, the chewing-gummed-together caliphate etc and that something is called energy independence/diversity.

      And – who knows? – maybe saving a war or two might save some carbon emissions. They do tend to emit, those wars.

      Instead of war or acquiescence, let’s try making that big stick bigger, even as we speak more softly. Russia, and its western branch, the Netherlands, might not like the coal we dig in Australia or the gas you frack in the US. Which is a reason to dig and frack. As for finding an oil exec or sheik of Araby who likes nukes…

      We need to make like Poland, recognise where we really are (it’s called the world) and use our domestic resources as a priority. Unless the Ukraine option appeals.

      And if the head of Exxon and Vlad don’t like it, they can always find some green organisations or public intellectuals to point to the Bambi-unfriendly aspects of coal and nukes. The Guardian and NYT will happily quote them, alongside pics of belching smokestacks or bothered penguins.

      • Twas Armagnac last night.

      • Armagnac:

        What the French keep while exporting Cognoc to the rest of the world.

      • I once stayed the night in an armagnac “chai” where they make or store the product called “aygo ardento”, burning water, in the old language. It was in Gascony, near where the musketeer, D’Artagnan, hailed from. (He existed.)

        I shouldn’t say this in front of Mark, but armagnac is now struggling in the French market and there are good bargains to be had.

    • Judith, really:

      “Given the colossal import of the topic of climate change…………….”

      You are sounding like Obama, Kerry, Gore, Ban Ki Moon, Bill Nye etc. Characterizing climate change this way just adds fuel to the alarmist BS meme

      You’d be correct if she’d omitted the modifying words, “of the topic.” It would mean that she’d accepted manmade global warming as real. But that modifier means that the “colossal import” could come from half-baked, very costly measures to combat climate change.

  18. Ha. Me. Commenting on who’s an intellectual and who should be considered as a source.

    Just watched someone who is hard working, but perceived as misguided run thru the ringer on BEST’s methods. The feedback becomes addresed to the person and not to the information. Defensiveness sets in and what’s the result?
    Although I admire his approach that one should put out their work (all of it) and stand beside it by signing their name, I disagree with Willis E. What AGW’er would be willing to consider the work with the name Willis E. in the forefront?
    When Al Gore, James Hansen, Michael Mann, Judith Curry, Roger Pielke (Jr.Sr) etc. put out work that work is “predisposed” by the consumer.
    When I read “Denizens” I find some skip feedback due to the originator. (The very definition of being closed minded—sorry folks)
    I, being relatively new, frankly could care less. I’m no intellectual and have little fear of being embarrassed by my postings. Frankly, it’s a bit of a badge of honor to explain an intent to learn (and has led to amazingly positive response).(But I suggest no one try that at RC or WUWT if thin skinned.) In the “blogosphere” it’s important to know who the players are but find that knowing who the players are really doesn’t matter as it’s the information that does. But “preaching to the choir” is often what occurs (with rare execption, props to JimD right or wrong he’s consistent and persistent).

    So I have a contrary proposition. No labels. Names are labels.
    Put out the work, remove all labels, and analyze the methods, content and results. I get that this removes the “fame” of scientific publication, but it’s the AGW side that says “It’s humanity that matters”. Well prove it. And from the skeptical side, is it infamy or is it truth? Good modding, and maybe we’re on to something. Even playing field, academics, intellectuals, and non-credentialed as well. I’m non credentialed and I approve this message.

    • John Smith (it's my real name)

      just wanna say I enjoy reading your comments
      you’ve been picking up technical stuff way faster than me and I am impressed and a bit jealous
      It is informative to watch someone go through the learning process and a testament to the Judith and the incredibly knowledge people here that they are so generous with us
      please take contrary positions
      no one is less impressed with credentials than the credentialed
      the smart one’s anyway

      • John Smith,

        Thank you. Sheer luck. 3 long days on, but 4 days off (for 3 more months). And still behind on my reading. And I’m sure you know exactly what I mean.
        Promise you’ll let me know if I’m talking too much.

  19. Although the mundane workings of nature generally go unnoticed they sometimes transcend the usual, becoming inconvenient and occasionally threatening to life and property and even culturally memorable. Weather and climate have played major roles in human affairs throughout history –e.g., the migration of civilizations due to unrelenting drought or Napoleon losing 90% of his army to the Russian winter.

    As artists, global warming alarmists create new ways of thinking about ordinary daily events. But, popular art changes with the times. An absence of any significant global warming going on 2 decades – the long hiatus – severely tests a willing suspension of disbelief among the gullible concerning warmstopper’s artful stories of post-apocalyptic life on Earth. And, Western academia may come to believe climate scientist would do well to learn enough introductory statistics to begin painting with a brush and not just buckets of red paint.

  20. Yes, we need more provocative stuff……but under no circumstances are you to say ‘denier’.!

    • Oohh Michael,you’re so … controlled, so coolly witty

      Now don’t you deny it

    • Michael,

      You wrote –

      “Yes, we need more provocative stuff……but under no circumstances are you to say ‘denier’.!”

      Why do you say that?

      I don’t believe that each and every Warmist is absolutely barking mad. Some are merely mistaken, some suffering from intellectual deficit, some mentally afflicted to the detriment of their perception of reality.

      Because I deny that all Warmists share the same mental defects, that makes me a denier. Or do you mean something different, as is the usual Warmist ploy, to divert attention away from the fact that the globe doesn’t appear to be Warming?

      Where’s AFOMD when you need him?

      The world wonders, indeed!

      Live well and prosper,

      Mike Flynn.

      • Fascinating to see Judith call for ‘subversion’ while she remain stuck in the intellectually vacuous rut of both sides-ism.


      • Michael,

        You wrote –

        “Fascinating to see Judith call for ‘subversion’ while she remain stuck in the intellectually vacuous rut of both sides-ism.


        I can only assume you were responding to me, but your response seems entirely content free. What are you trying to say? What has anything you said got to do with the word denier?

        Are you completely confused, or just pretending to be so for some bizarre Warmist reason? You’ve certainly confused me, and no doubt several others. I await your next blinding flash of intellectual brilliance with bated breath! Only joking, of course!

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn.

      • She can see all hands now, and closely examines the cards.

    • “denier” is a favorite word of dogmatic consensus oriented opinion-enforcers…..

      the fact that Michael thinks it belongs in this discussion, in any context except as an example of malicious dogma, displays the Mind-of-Michael as incapable of even glimpsing the meaning and ramifications of a term such as “disruptive”

      then there is FOMT’s routine devotion to a charlatan like Oreskes, who cannot even attain Level I because she has no intelligible discipline to represent and interpret……

      whatever Level I intellecuals may be, they need to start with competence in an intelligible discipline even to be considered Level I

    • Michael–What is a “denier” in your view?

      Is it someone who denies the basic physics?

      Is it someone who denies that your suggested actions make sense?

    • Michael,
      Intended to respond to your 2/18 at 1:14am.
      Your comment: “Fascinating to see Judith call for ‘subversion’ while she remain stuck in the intellectually vacuous rut of both sides-ism.

      Did you read all the words that were written?
      “association with the subversive; men and women who do their own thinking”

      What is the problem with men and women who do their own thinking?
      Seems if one has a challenge with the terminology, one might ask for clarification. Assuming you’re okay with men and women who do their own thinking (and please correct me if you’re not) then shouldn’t you ask what the intent was behind the word subversive? I wondered that, but as I’m self described as being in the “rut of both side-ism” myself, I’d appreciate knowing how you intended the term ” vacuous” as I may see it differently. Pre-disposition? Do you KNOW what she thinks, or what I think?

      • Danny,

        I assume by “subversion” and “disruption” Judith is advocating and striving for a substantive and transformative critique, yet she remains stuck in the rut of simplistic and superficial ‘both sides’-ism.

        To quote James Anna, Judith produces “vacuous blather”.

      • Michael,

        Vs. some of the nonsense even I can see through, maybe she’s mindless in her response as that’s all the effort it warrents?

      • You wear your hearts up your sleeve.

    • Stepping in the poo you randomly drop can have that effect.

  21. Level II is somewhat vague as defined here. I interpreted Level II as climate scientists venturing into policy and advocacy. I would not consider politicians, economists, statisticians venturing into climate science, Level II, which ends up leaving almost no skeptic Level II’s. Lindzen has gone to Level II with some of his “nothing to worry about” quotes. None of the skeptical scientists have gone as far as to say 600-700 ppm is OK, which I would take as a Level II statement. Another Level II statement would be that we will stop short of 600 ppm even without a policy. Instead almost everyone, skeptical or not, has emphasized caution either due to not knowing what will happen or due to some ideas of consequences. So, I don’t think you will find such clear-cut sides at Level II, when considering the scientists. In summary, you just won’t find competing sides among scientists for a debate on whether 700 ppm is OK, or better than 400 ppm.

    • There’s nothing worrisome about a doubling of the current amount of CO2. That should not be news. Just as the government has been beating on the danger of eating cholesterol the last 40 years and is finally backing off, worrying about a few 100 ppm of increased atmospheric CO2 like worrying about drowning in the bathtub from a dripping faucet–e.g., your chances of getting nailed by a golf ball is possible too — anything is possible — but, who really worries about it?

    • Jim, Are you saying you would like to see more public skeptics like Lord Monckton? I think he says the more the better CO2. Kim and I would like to keep it conserved in case we need it to fight the coming re-glaciation.

      Do you think the CMIP5 are on target?

      • They would need to be a scientist too, otherwise they are not truly Level II, more like Level 0 as someone mentioned above. If a scientist has said doubled CO2 is better, I have not heard it, and you may begin to wonder why.

      • I agree Monckton is not my kind of scientist even if I agree with his premise that there is bias in climate science. I am new and curious; did you post on Denizens II? Or what brought you here, Jim?

      • No, but I see that most (97%?) of the Denizens 2 have a somewhat opposite view to me.

      • By the way, look up Monckton’s recent youtubes with Greg Hunter. Those are two conspiracy theorists who just bring it out of each other to the extreme. It is entertaining stuff, if nothing else.

      • Like how strong are your feelings? Do you think people need to wake up and stop buying gas cars now? Do you think we have time now if we switch to alternative energy. I mean what do you think should be the right level of urgency in policy? And, which direction?

      • I have given my views here several times, and I think reductions in global emissions at a rate of 10%-20% per decade would keep us in the area of 500 ppm, which is the best rate that is practicably possible in terms of switching to better energy generation and use. It is doable, and globally many nations are aligning their goals in that direction. It won’t be automatic. Incentives are needed to spur the right kinds of industries. On the subject of this thread, many Level III public intellectuals are leaders in industry that have taken various parts of the climate change problem seriously enough to act. It is forward thinking that is needed more than ever, and a lot can be done in just decades given the need to decarbonize our energy that most now see. Having said that, it is not clear how much 500 ppm saves in sea-level rise. Greenland is a problem, judging by how it was last time we had 500 ppm. These are the big-picture things to keep in mind.

      • Jim D,

        Given that you like the slow and gradual approach to lowering fossil fuel emissions – I take it you are delighted with the reductions we have made due to fracking and increased natural gas usage?

      • Jim, I know it’s hard to believe we could get off fossil fuel quickly but I am not so pessimistic. Man’s imagination usually fails to see future innovation correctly. When I was a kid a personal computer was something only Bruce Wayne could have, and it could only spit out fortune cookie riddles. The internet came out of nowhere in a historical blink after that. If nuclear fusion can be harnessed, and it would already if we spent the equivalent of what we spent to get the bomb, or to the moon, then we would not need to be having this discussion.

        Don’t invest all you money in making everyone switch to 8-track tapes when the market can do better. If there is no market the govs can make one. I would not be against carbon tax if they eliminated another tax.

      • Actually, I am optimistic that human ingenuity will continue, and that a 10-20% rate of reduction per decade is realistic to expect given the incentive of future climate uncertainty. The no-brainers such as replacing coal with anything else are easy to do immediately, and the more technological non-fossil solutions can follow later, and, yes, that includes a safe version of nuclear in the mix.

      • JimD,

        Any thoughts on compensation for those who are the investors in coal? Owners/stockholders?

      • If they were wise, they would have got out by now. The writing has been on the wall for a decade or two already.

      • Jim, I 100% agree with what you are saying. We just need to be careful that we do not allow politicians to become uncanny investors. A certain politician’s wife made a 2000% profit in 1 year in cattle futures. She’s now likely going to be our president.

      • R Graf, they don’t have to be politicians when they can just buy them.

      • True, eliminate the temptation by taking politics out the game. If politicians can’t be constantly tinkering with the rules they can be impartial refs, not ones betting on the game.

      • A corporation ruled society. What could possibly go wrong? We are half way there already in the US at least. There are some more sensible ways to run a democracy without letting the richest decide the votes.

      • There are some more sensible ways to run a democracy without letting the richest decide the votes.

        The loudest? Those with the biggest fists?

  22. Scientists tend to split into two varieties: Chemists and Physicists. The two varieties tend to have different training and experience. Chemists tend to ignore neutrons because they have no electric charge and are therefore unlikely to affect chemical reactions, while physicists know that neutrons affect the IR heat absorption properties of gases and are therefore important in climate. Chemists seem to be the majority.

    Draw your own conclusions.

    • Geoff Sherrington

      Alexander Biggs,
      Silly generalisation and wrong in science. Neutrons, in the eyes of chemists, have SFA to do with gaseous ir absorption. There is extensive overlap between physics and chemistry. What is yor point wrt the topic here?

      • Thank you , Sherrington for your reply. Neutrons are heavy particles so they add vibration modes to molecules of gases which absorb more heat as vibration energy. This is important in climate theory and models and adds to the kinetic theory of gases.

  23. More boxes. That’s just great.

  24. Well, I’ve now read Nisbett’s entire piece. And I am far from impressed.

    Anyone who would deem the likes of McKibben, Suzuki, Revkin or Oreskes (amongst others on his list) to be “intellectuals” – of any kind – must be working from a completely different definition than any of which I am aware.

    But speaking of awareness …

    Setting aside Nisbett’s glaring failure to even mention the work of Lindzen, Michaels, Spencer, Curry, Montford, McKitrick, Essex or McIntyre – amongst others …

    I wonder if Nisbett is aware of – and/or familiar with – a paper written almost three years ago, in which the authors observed (as I had noted in a post about a month ago):

    In recent years, study after study has found that a college education no longer does what it should do and once did.1 Whether these studies look directly at the capabilities of graduates, or instead at what employers find their capabilities to be, the result is the same: far too many college graduates have not learned to write effectively, they can not read and comprehend any reasonably complex book, they have not learned to reason, and their basic knowledge of the history and institutions of the society in which they live is lamentably poor. […] [emphasis added -hro]

    Source – A Crisis of Competence: The Corrupting Effect of Political Activism in the University of California (pdf)

    • I must weigh in briefly, anecdotally, in support of Andy Revkin’s curiosity and intellectual integrity.

  25. There is a report today that New York could see 6 feet of sea-level rise this century.
    This is the kind of thing that most public intellectuals can’t really say much about because it comes from people who have studied this more than they have, but increasingly this is the kind of information the intellectuals will have to educate themselves on if they are going to go against such reports, otherwise they will become irrelevant to the actual local debates that are being had on the effects of climate change.

    • I thought the experts were at the IPCC. This prediction is outside of the IPCC prediction.

      I go to the ocean every 5 to 10 years and it is always right where I remember it was.

      • A lot of people criticized the IPCC for not accounting for any accelerated deglaciation which they did deliberately because they didn’t know how much it would accelerate.

      • Most public
        go fer top down.
        But here in
        climate space
        its bottoms up,
        fergit sun ‘n
        it’s us!

      • ….because they didn’t know if it would accelerate or decelerate or stay the same. There, fixed it for you.

      • Curious George

        Ah, the famous New York City Panel on Climate Change! People who have studied this more than anybody else!

        They have very nice maps showing areas flooded should the sea level obey their predictions. Jim D, if you live there, move!!

    • Jim D, it is not possible to actually be an intellectual in the defined sense of the word and to also believe the idea that we are going to see a six foot sea level rise this century.

    • I couldn’t find any paywalled articles, only open access report chapters. And any qualified “Public Intellectual” ought to be able to discover that the 6-foot rise is the extreme low-probability tail of the PDF.

      Should anybody be allowed to be a “Public Intellectual” if they don’t understand, and can’t explain what a PDF is?

      • Potential increase in sea level rise is the #1 issue that leads to potential harms to humans.

        Unfortunately for those claiming that there is a “problem” requiring immediate action the rate of rise has not been supporting the believed fears.

      • nottawa rafter

        The NOAA graph for NYC Battery goes back to 1850 and the trend line shows no uptick.

        It makes one wonder if they even care about the data.

        I really do a good faith search for data that challenges my skepticism, but I keep coming up short.

      • A rising tide floats all public intellectuals.

      • Which buoys up the old question: How can they be both the scum and the dregs at the same time?

      • No matter how bad they are, they float to the top.

        “Hardly are those words out when a vast image…troubles my sight…A shape with lion body and the head of …” Al Gore


      • Floatin’ towards Bethlehem ter be born.

      • A rising public tide floats all intellectuals … out to sea…

      • Will Janoschkas

        nottawa rafter | February 18, 2015 at 11:10 am | Reply

        “On another post I would like to ask you about infrared satellite global maps on the website Intellicast. Greenland has unusual depictions again showing up only this February as it did only last February.”

        Please read the rest of my denizens II at | February 17, 2015 at 8:51 pm
        I am convinced that Intellicast. has no idea of what their maps may indicate.
        Intellicast. seems only interested in selling product.

      • nottawa rafter

        Will, thanks. :)

        Actually my question related to their description of what the colors meant, ie red was warm clouds or something like that but the colored blob just sat over Greenland for weeks without moving while the rest of the clouds ? moved in circulation patterns that made sense.

        I’m not sure how I came upon the website but you are saying it is not of much value anyway. Thanks for replying.

      • Climate change is a gradual, impersonal thing, it always seems to live in the future. But if climate threatened these puppies, wouldn’t you pay more attention?

        ~Tony Thomas (‘You Couldn’t Make This Stuff Up,’ Quadrant,/em>)

      • Climate change is the institutionalized religion of the day, so of course heresy dooms one to the flames.

      • > I really do a good faith search for data that challenges my skepticism, but I keep coming up short

        Yes. I’ve been trying for over 20 years now with similar results

        Empirical evidence vs hypothesis over many time scales – an impossible Gordian knot, it seems

        And then we add the “what to do, what to do” dimension. This prevents the Gordian from being sliced through as in the fable

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        nottawa rafter posts [with correction by FOMD] “The NOAA graph for NYC Battery goes back to 1850 and the trend line shows no uptick curve-fit shows sea-level rise acceleration of +0.0056 mm/yr^2.”

        Bluff by nottawa rafter, data analysis by FOMD!

        Do you ever analyze the data yourself, nottawa rafter?

        Conclusion  The reality of sea-level rise-rate acceleration is affirmed.

        \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      • nottawa rafter

        Significant drop since 2010. You lose.

      • Matthew R Marler

        a fan of *MORE* discourse: curve-fit shows sea-level rise acceleration of +0.0056 mm/yr^2.”

        Intriguing curves. Usually the derivative of a polynomial is a lower order polynomial, but here the derivative is higher order. The derivative curve seems to lag the temperature curve a bit.

      • Portable Document Format? ;)

      • That was in response to AK’s comment of 18Feb at 7.59am

    • Jim D,
      Not sure if you viewed this. It was posted in the latest Denizens:

      I found this of particular interest from within:””According to recent calculations by the Environmental Protection Agency, the sea level around much of the United States will climb by one foot over the next 30 to 40 years ”

      For the life of me, I can’t understand why this wouldn’t give one “pause”.

      • thanks Danny, that’s the link I was just gonna go looking for!

      • Danny did you forget this part?

        Other estimates are somewhat lower but still worrisome. A 1983 report by the National Academy of Sciences, for example, predicted a global rise in sea level of about two and one-third feet by 2080, not including the effects of land movements.


      • Joseph,

        Two points.
        1) The evidence contradicts that which was professed. One foot of sea level increase in 30-40 years. It’s been +/-30 years since that was offered.
        2) I sent the entirety which included that which you put forth so no attempt to hold back any information.

        The point is that “the science” was inaccurate in the first point so what should lead me to trust further projections especially if that which you selected presumabley included the first foot of rise that hasn’t occurred and both were based on the same methodology?

        So the short answer to your question is no, I didn’t forget.

        As a further point of reference, and I realize that they are seperate discussions, “science” told me to expect a near linear increase in temperatures in relation to increasing CO2 levels. Presuming we agree that CO2 levels have increased and in fact the rate of increase has increased while temperatures have not followed that trend, this is an indication of a lack of understanding of the complexity of the system.

        So a follow question for you would be why would one be expected to have faith in the extended projections, since the near term ones were obviously inaccurate based on observable evidence? Therin lies the heart of my level of “skepticism”. Warming, sure………..alarm, not so much.

      • Danny

        The link references the temperature increase in central park since 1900 .

        I wrote about this here in tracing temperatures back to 1850

        The weather station in central park is not a good advertisement for accuracy.


      • TonyB,

        First. Now I want a blueberry muffin.
        UHI effect seems to be a pretty easily addressed issue. Here, I’ve created this algorithm…………………..(bet I’m gonna pay for that one).

      • Danny the point is we should look at the totality of the reports not just one. I am not even sure why the EPA would be the best place to do a study sea level rise. And finally our understanding of sea level rise is better than it was 30 years ago.

      • Joseph,
        Please don’t misunderstand. I see warming. I see a bit of sea level increase. I see no alarm.

        The EPA used to be the “go to” when it came to this kind of projection. That has been replaced by NOAA/NASA et al. But the “science” THEN told us to expect a one foot rise in 30-40 years. +/- 30 years in we’re talking about how much? So I ask again, why would one be expected to have faith in future projections after such a “miss” as this one?
        From the first paragraph:”MANY scientists are so sure that the sea level will rise visibly in the coming decades that they are advising planners to adopt new strategies now. A predicted rise in sea level of one foot within the next 30 to 40 years will drive much of the Atlantic and Gulf shoreline inward by a hundred feet and some of it by more than a thousand feet, according to marine geologists. The environmental and economic consequences will be felt much farther inland.” (Replace “Many” with 97% consensus).
        Had we based our decisons on this projection what value would have been returned from our investment?
        What do the “totality of the reports” tell you from 1986 to present? They tell me we missed it. So how is my lack of faith in projections towards the future misplaced?
        From Noaa:
        What am I missing?
        What have been the “environmental and economic consequenses”?
        I’m really trying to look at this discussion critically, but when I do I find that based on the observable past performance, reliance on future projections may not be the best course of action and should be moderated. If you have verifiable evidence to the contrary I’d appreciate it. I dont’ know for certain that I’m not suffering from confirmational bias, but I do know that what I’ve been told would occur, did not. Please tell me why your expectation is that the future would be more accurate than the past so I can modify my impressions based on a solid foundation. Right now, I can’t see it.

    • nottawa rafter

      Jim D

      Please don’t say they need to educate themselves on the sea level at NYC. It doesn’t require an education to take 3 seconds to look at the NOAA graph back to 1850 showing a trend of 2.8 mm/yr.

      The trend shows no acceleration. To accept the 6 ft projection, you need faith. There is no data supporting an increase in rate of rise. Just look at the NOAA graph.

      It is certainly your right to have faith in the future but I will wait on the data.

      • Your right to have faith in the future ends at the tip of my nose, or at the creep of the carbon tax.

    • Mayor of Venus

      I saw a similar map on a TV spot of San Francisco bay, but it only speculated on a maximum 2 feet rise by the end of the century. Sea level rise is happening world-wide, about 2 millimeters/year currently (about 9 inches/century). How do you propose sea-level will rise in the New York City area several times more than the world-wide average? Perhaps it’s subsidence of the land, but that would have nothing to do with global warming.

    • Jim D,

      It isn’t hard to commision a panel of clowns (excuse me, experts) and get them to issue reports and studies which support the agenda of the people who commissioned them. Did you bother to check what actual tidal gauge data is for NYC? Or what percentage of it is due to subsidence?

      It is exactly reporting such as this that sparked my interest in the subject. It isn’t science. It is gadfly journalism masquarding as science. When someone makes a claim like the 6 ft increase in sea level, you should automatically know they haven’t a clue or have an agenda. You don’t get to 6 ft using the available data. The only way you get there is picking a model and “projecting” a number. That ain’t science.

    • in the 1890;s they were predicting that horse manure would reach the bottom of third floor Manhattan windows.

      • Yeah, conveyances that go to the toilet in the middle of the road. You won’t catch a Landcruiser behaving like that.

        It’s good to reflect on all the things we no longer need animals for thanks to fossil fuels and the attached synthetics industries.

        I think of the desperation for fur and the two million koalas killed in one year in the 1920s for their exportable pelts. Of course, nothing beats the fauna devastation of Hudson Bay and Siberia in such a short period.

        As a conservationist, I do everything I can to support the synthetic fibre industry, though I don’t boycott “natural” fibres, since I’m not the divesting/boycotting type. (Even to turn my bamboo into fabric you need heavy duty solvents, but I do like the odd pair of moso undies. And I leave a little room for superfine wool, of course.)

    • Here is a more recent study.
      It is interesting that they find that the sea-level rise rate in the last 20 years is more than twice the average rate in 1900-1990. This is an acceleration rate that should be of concern, especially for those involved with coastal planning. A sensible person would not ignore this when making projections.

      • JimD,

        “And soon, they realized historic readings from tide gauges might have distorted the big picture.”

        “Tide gauges had suggested that ocean levels were climbing 1.6 to 1.9 millimeters (0.063 to 0.075 inch) per year between 1901 and 1990. But calculations from glacial melt and thermal expansion suggested that throughout those same nine decades, seas rose a mere 1.2 millimeters per year.”

        “What’s more, most of those gauges sat along coastlines. And that’s a problem because the ocean isn’t flat and static. Waves and tides affect the sea’s height. Water can pile up in one place and dip in another. Ocean currents also have an effect. And those currents can change, depending on how close they are to land. So sea levels near coasts can be quite different from those in the open ocean. Previous research assumed sea levels in both places would roughly match. ”

        “A computer using Hay’s algorithm calculated that sea-level rise from 1901 to 1990 was about 1.2 millimeters. That brought tide gauge estimates in line with those from melting glaciers and thermal expansion. Mystery solved.”

        “90 years of tide gauges changed by an algorithm which reduced historic from 1.9mm/yr. to 1.2 mm/yr and therefore found the more recent changes where “larger than before”.”

        Math/algorithms changes 90 years of history and suddenly the current “data” indicates things may be worse.

        Come on. You’ve taught me better than that.

      • Danny, you have to examine your own automatic disbelief of anything that doesn’t concur with your worldview. It took five seconds for you to say this must be wrong, and then look for keywords to back it up. Ooh, computer, bad. Easy to say, right? This is a common modus operandi around here, and you have learned it well.

      • JimD,

        What was wrong with the analysis? Leaving out your perceptions of the individual involved. 90 years of consistent information wiped out by the push of a computer button in milliseconds and one isn’t expected to question the change? You know that I’m with you on warming, but I question the cause and most certainly question the associated alarmism associated with projections with a questionable track record with modeling based projections. So seriously, did you just accept the modified 90 year history as it fits a theme, or did you question the results? What is wrong with wondering if the 90 year consistent set of data is wrong, or if the “adjustments” to the same data is wrong? I value your perceptions, but think you mugged it this time.

      • Danny, you don’t look like someone who is just “wondering”. You seem to have convinced yourself it is wrong. Next will be the retraction call.

      • JimD,

        Have to ask again. What was wrong with the analysis and associated conclusion.
        Went looking as a result of your concern and found this on Noaa:
        What should lead me to alarm and fear? (only to 1995)
        Then this to 2013: (see page 4)
        One study changes all this?
        If you have an alternative, I’d be happy to evaluate, but I’m sorry but I don’t share the concern associated with anthro. It’s been trending since 1850.
        I’m in no position to ask for retraction, but I am in a position to question the methods and conclusions.

      • It would interesting to get Simon Holgate’s take on this.

      • nottawa rafter

        Jim D
        I hope the Students didn’t spend much public money doing this student study because if they did they wasted the their parents money. Just like the NOAA site for NYC, all they needed to do was to take 3 seconds to look the CU graph for their satellite reading of 3.2 mm/yr for global sea level. Mystery solved.
        There was nothing new about this study. If you were paying attention you would have known these numbers years ago.

      • copy of the study

        Holgate is meticulous, but his conclusions never made a lick of sense.

        Danny – say we decide to rapidly (one week) melt enough land-based ice on Greenland to raise mean sea level by 6 inches. What would the tide gauges of the 20th century tell you?

      • JCH,

        Ah. Test question. I’d say they’d say what they say right now. What happens in the future will have no impact on the past. But what has happened in the past should not be modified based on anything that happens in the future either. Did I miss something?

      • The rate of sea-level rise has more than doubled in recent decades over the average of the last century. I am not sure what you intend to show with your data points, but they seem beside the point which is the acceleration rate.

      • JimD,

        My concern was with the changes made to the historical record as detailed in the study which you provided. That study took 90 years of consistent information, indicated that history was modified not based on observation but instead based on a computer algorithem which lowered the historic sea level increase (range was 1.6-1.9mm/yr then changed to 1.2mm/yr). Then, that study concluded that due to those modifications (not observation), the rate of sea level increased had increased. (In fact, the study discussed the coastal change vs. sea levels more out to sea). Had that modification not been performed, what would the increase in sea level have been?

        I showed a NOAA chart that as I understood it (I didn’t modify the NOAA data) showed a consistent trend of sea level increase dating from 1850. I conclude that if one changes (lowers) the historic sea level increase then of course the more recent time would show an increasing rate of change depending on when that change was implemented. How is my thinking inaccurate?

        In other words, how would you receive it if there was a study that used an algorithem to raise sea levels from a 90 year time frame of observable consistent evidence which changed a trend from rising sea levels to maintaining or even dropping. Would you accept that w/o question?

        Here to learn, but not without challenging a modification to history. Please tell me how my thinking misses the mark.

      • nottawa rafter

        Here is the point JCH, The CU data for the last 20+ years show no acceleration above the 3.2 mm/yr rate. This study added nothing to the previous dozens and dozens of studies covering the same period. The important thing is what do the satellite data show. No acceleration in over 20 years. Get back to us with the important stuff when and if the 3.2 accelerates.

      • Focusing on just the last 20 years misses the point of the study I linked. They compare the rise rate of the last 20 years with that from 1900-1990 and find it has more than doubled. In 17 years it rose half as much as in all of the previous 90 years.

      • JimD,
        But they did so only after modifying the 90 year history from a range of 1.6-1.9mm/yr down to 1.2mm/yr. unless I misread. So of course the rate of increase would change even if the “current” rate was 1.9mm/yr.

      • Sea Level Rise

        I can’t find it now, but I think there used to be one that showed it even lower.

      • Danny, they said that they have now reconciled two independent estimates, and the one from tide gauges was high due to poor sampling that they only know now because there are more tide gauges including at non-coastal locations. They give their reasoning why the previous result was wrong and was inconsistent with the independent estimate based on glacier melt and warming. Now, you may prefer to go back to the old undersampled tide gauges as your truth, but that is up to you. They told you why they prefer not to do this.

      • Jim D,

        From where did the water come going back 90 years?

        Increasing SLR from +/- 2005, sure. Going back from 2005 to 1900?

        That study changed over 90 years of history. I might be persuaded to buy in from say 1950. But not from 1900. Who’s truth is accurate? I won’t bank on mine but will question you banking on theirs especially once they used a computer algorithm to change a consistent 1.6-1.9mm/yr dating back to 1900. Again, I’m not arguing an increase in SLR (modest) but what observational evidence proves their modifications are an “improvement” over data which existed since 1900? Even if the accuracy was off with the tide gauges, the algorithm changed the trend, did it not?
        Until something comes along that substantiates back to 1900 I remain skeptical. Had they chosen 1950, I might be okay with some modification as the charts indicate a lessening of arctic ice from that time. Please build a case, seperate from the computer modification, and I’d be happy to evaluate. When I look at the historic graphs and see effectively zero change in arctic ice from 1900-1950 it sets off my radar. Got anything that would provide the source for that amount of additional water from 1900-1950?

        From the article:”Hay says her study shows it’s important to question scientific assumptions. “

      • JimD,
        Whom do I believe? NOAA with a trend since 1850 which shows this?

        Or a study which changes history via an algorithm?
        Please tell me which you chose and why.

      • I think the block ice that when instantly melted would be capable of raising MSL by 6 inches would produce a lot more than 6 inches of SLR.

      • Yes, so it’s a good thing that it doesn’t instantly melt then

      • nottawa rafter

        Jim D
        I understood the point of their study.

        Here are 2 points of my point. First, they are playing one up manship. In essence they are saying, “Yes, yes, we know all the work has been done by competent scientists with vast experience, but we deem ourselves to be superior intellects and to prove it here are our numbers, which by the way, shows, (and here is the motivation behind the study) IT IS WORSE THAN WE THOUGHT!
        The second point of my point is that the Satellite record of over 20 years shows NO acceleration in the rate.

        I have read dozens of these sea level studies and they all profess to have superior knowledge to preceding ones about the historical records. In a couple of years, this study will be trashed by a team seeking another feather in their cap.

        As a bonus here is another point. You referenced the sea level rise at NYC. You saw the trend since 1850. Where is the signal of a higher rate? I have seen no evidence of isostatic rebound on Manhattan.

        Sorry, but Hays et al doesn’t impress. Someday it will be no more relevant than, well, Rutherford B. sans the e.

      • nottawa rafter

        To Danny

        Keep up with the reliance on the data. That will give them the heebie jeebies every time. Those little buggars are hard to shake.

        I do agree with Hays et al, that the long term tidal gauge records need to be reconciled with the altimetry records. I just am not sure it is possible.

        There are some things the human mind cannot overcome despite the immense hubris in trying to prove otherwise.

        Climate science seems to be over represented with both the hubris and the effort.

        I enjoy your junkyard dog doggedness. Keep it up.

      • Nottawa Rafter,

        Would you mind commentary on the analysis and where I might have been off track? Couldn’t seem to get specifics and it would help in my understanding. Know it’s a long thread, and off topic but since it happened that way might as well make use of it.
        Looking back I wonder why they chose to stop the algorithm at 1900. And I guess I should have seperated Greenland Ice information.

      • JimD,
        The last sentence seems pertinent. Who do I believe and why?

        “It is important to point out that even if a 60-year oscillation is occurring in GMSL, it is still a small fluctuation about a highly significant rate of rise. Modeling a 60-year oscillation does not change the estimated trend in any reconstruction time-series of GMSL by more than 0.1 mm yr−1 (Table 1), which is lower than the uncertainty. Thus, it does not change the overall conclusion that sea level has been rising on average by 1.7 mm yr−1over the last 110 years. The 60-year oscillation will, however, change our interpretation of the trends when estimated over periods less than 1-cycle of the oscillation. Although several studies have suggested the recent change in trends of global [e.g.,Merrifield et al., 2009] or regional [e.g., Sallenger et al., 2012] sea level rise reflects an acceleration, this must be re-examined in light of a possible 60-year fluctuation. While technically correct that the sea level is accelerating in the sense that recent rates are higher than the long-term rate, there have been previous periods were the rate was decelerating, and the rates along the Northeast U.S. coast have what appears to be a 60-year period [Sallenger et al., 2012, Figure 4], which is consistent with our observations of sea level variability at New York City and Baltimore. Until we understand whether the multi decadal variations in sea level reflect distinct inflexion points or a 60-year oscillation and whether there is a GMSL signature, one should be cautious about computations of acceleration in sea level records unless they are longer than two cycles of the oscillation or at least account for the possibility of a 60-year oscillation in their model. This especially applies to interpretation of acceleration in GMSL using only the 20-year record of from satellite altimetry and to evaluations of short records of mean sea level from individual gauges.

      • Matthew R Marler

        JCH: copy of the study

        Thank you for the link.

  26. Dr. Curry wrote;

    “Wanted: disruptive ideas on climate change.”

    Ok, for what’s it worth I will throw this out here (again) just for the heck of it;

    Perhaps Arrhenius’s original hypothesis (Yes, it is still just a hypothesis after a hundred some years) that “Greenhouse Gases” have a remarkable ability to “trap heat” (and thereby cause an increase in the “average” temperature of the Earth) is in fact incorrect ?

    Nothing could be more “disruptive” to the perceived “wisdom” regarding climate change would it?

    Perhaps the effects of “greenhouse gases” merely act to delay the flow of energy through the complex Sun/Earth/Atmosphere/Universe system and perhaps this delay is so miniscule that nobody can find any evidence of it in the historical temperature records…

    No engineer worth their paycheck ever seriously discusses “trapping heat”, we know from training and experience that “trapping heat” is impossible (study the laws of thermodynamics, which were derived by engineers not scientists).

    As we have learned in engineering all heat flow calculations are simply a “matter of time”, more insulation simply delays the inevitable time when things will become “cooler”. There are no engineering examples where anybody has managed to “trap heat”, it cannot be done (well more correctly stated; nobody has demonstrated it YET).

    Of course the climate science community would swear to their ability to prevent the “trapping of heat” if only we give them complete control of everything to solve this alleged “wicked problem”. I suggest that this “wicked problem” does not in fact even exist… Perhaps you could save us unwashed masses from dragons with an abundance of “intellectuals” of all classes (I, II, III, IV, V and perhaps the ultimate intellectuals the DECA-Intellectual (aka the “X-Man, or the “X-Woman”).

    Heck, there are a bunch of unemployed folks all over the place, folks are chopping off heads and burning folks in cages and folks are shoveling snow in the Eastern US to “beat the band” and the climate science community is “wonking on” about how to classify intellectuals….

    Really, take a short walk outside the ivory tower for —–‘s sake.

    Cheers, KevinK.

    • Hi Keven, I’m Ron. I take it you are not a warmer. Do you fear that if the pause continues or temp falls that academics and politicians around the world will just say never mind, sorry, like they did for low fat? Or, is that impossible now?

      I ask anyone’s opinion on this.

      • Ron, in summary “Arrhenius was erroneous”, there is no significant “greenhouse effect” caused by the trivial thermal capacity of gases in the atmosphere of the Earth.

        Of course some folks (with understandable good intentions) did not do their homework to reduce this hypothesis to fact before running off screaming the “sky is falling”.

        The sky is not falling, all of the observed “weather events” are well within the observed normals.

        Cheers, KevinK

      • R Graf,
        I was sort of hoping the great anointed ones would reflect on the social history of eugenics and just quietly drop the whole thing while they are not too far behind.

      • nottawa rafter

        No pause is long enough for the true believers to give me up. It is psychologically embedded so deeply, that every heat wave, every mm of sea level rise, every flood, every blizzard, every thunderstorm, every . 04 C per decade rise in temperature will confirm their belief system.

        It is part of their DNA to do good in this world and to support government interventionism. If it wasn’t CAGW, they would be on some other mission.

      • The peak oilers and “population bomb” followers are good examples of where this is likely going.
        First are the dire, detailed warnings that completely fail, second comes “revised projections” that put falsification beyond the lifetime of anyone still listening, third is the argument that we should adopt their policies regardless of whether they are right, and fourth is the lapse into total obscurity by die-hards muttering to themselves that they were right especially when they were wrong.
        Peak oil is in stage four. AGW is in stage three.

      • That’s right. Jimmy Carter estimated the world had 20 years of oil as he was installing his solar panels in the rose garden in 1979. National Geo had the “end of cheap oil” 2008 cover being within a year.

        I surprised you know about eugenics. The Eugenics Records Office in Cold Spring Harbor, NY, funded by the Carnegie Foundation began a science of measuring features to see how highly evolved one was, whether one were good stock. The British scientific community embraced it before the pre- WWII Germans scientists. You can guess what happened there if you don’t already know.

        Amazingly, the Ice Age alarmists of 1972-3 had more historical evidence than AGW. I’m not saying GHE is wrong just not proven. The more I learn the more I am humbled by a system that, as you know, makes understanding rocket motors seem like child’s play.

      • R Graf,

        Aw heck. Now do I gotta learn rocket science? I’m never gonna catch up.

      • Every science can be understood by lay people if the scientist is humble enough to explain it lay terms. But it is true that a Shledon from the big bang theory is not the right type. Perhaps there is an important society niche for the Carl Sagan(s) and Michio Koku(s).

      • Ron, this is from a piece in today’s American Interest by Peter Berger:

        Ideas that have become an ideology do not admit falsification. Global warming has become an ideology, mostly but not exclusively concentrated in the progressive portion of the political spectrum. Its three central propositions have become axiomatic among progressives: that significant global warming is in fact occurring (“the science is in”); that its consequences will be dire; and that its major cause is industrial pollution (especially by evil American capitalism—never mind the fog of pollution hanging over the cities of India and China). Deeply committed progressives are as eager to sign petitions to stop this or that “carbon footprint” as petitions to pull American troops out of Afghanistan or to boycott Israeli products. The only (rather ambiguous) concession to the notion that, just maybe, all the science is not in, has been a shift in language from “global warming” to “climate change”. Critics of the ideology are pelted with pejorative labels—political reactionaries, uneducated ignoramuses (comparable to creatonists or flat-earth theorists), or agents of the petroleum industry.

        I think that Berger qualifies as a Type II Intellectual.

      • Mark,
        I would say I agree with everything you say. But I don’t think you’re inferring if that if the GMT were on the same linear track as in the 90s warming would not still be the term, are you?

        Science not being in was the progressive’s motive in the first place, as you outline, the bias priming come, in my opinion, from the moral issue, the man-caused part. I think it’s obvious to most here, if there were no connection to a plausible theory of pollution or CO2 causing climate change, in either direction, there would be near zero concern. The tell in this is the 1973 ice-age alarm. If the 80s and 90s had been a linear down trend this would now be the pause on the road to the next ice age. They would see the record that we were precariously near the end of this interglacial, and man, through his menacing, multiplying, oblivious, hedonistic path to eventual recompense, was pushing us prematurely off the edge. Models would have aerosols with 4 times their actual forcing and of course CO2 and methane wouldn’t be considered.

        All this said, by no means do I believe cosmic force is watching out for us or that we don’t have serious obligations and heavy lifting to do ahead. There are several reasons to have a concerted push for new energy technology. I think we need to put our focus there to protect the planet from us by giving us better tools for self- sustainment. But more for another day…

    • Yes, Kevin, can’t say I care how many intellectuals, and of what sort, can dance on the head of a pin.

      Wouldn’t mind if Suzuki (especially) sat on said pin.

    • Mayor of Venus

      I “trap heat” every night I go to bed and get under the blankets (they serve as insulation). Indeed, green-house gases act as insulation, and can raise the SURFACE temperature, but not the earth’s EFFECTIVE temperature. The effective temperature is defined as the earth’s average temperature that balances the radiation absorbed from visible and near-infrared sunlight with the earth’s radiation to space in the thermal infrared

  27. Pingback: Public intellectuals in the climate space | Climate Etc. | john namnik

  28. myrightpenguin

    The academic aspect of climate science is overbloated as it is with too many third raters ending up in this multidisciplinary field (to paraphrase Prof. Lindzen). This is what all should admit really if they put their egos to the side for once (I’m an onlooker working in another scientific area). Funding should be going to far more important science & technology fields.

    We’re talking about a non-problem if everyone accepts common sense that nuclear and natural gas would reduce CO2 emissions in the best way possible no matter how small or large climate sensitivity is. That’s not to say scientific advancement has no value, just that it is not as important for climate science as some think it is. This field has become a circus full of clown cars. Prof. Curry is one of few who has genuinely added value (along with Prof. Lindzen and a few select others), although I have to say there’s some stuff with BEST and failure to acknowledge UHI (common sense) that has been a bit disappointing.

    • ” Funding should be going to far more important science & technology fields.”

      But, but, but…the Leader of the Free World said climate change aka global warming WAS THE most important problem by far. More serious than energy independence, more serious than ISIS, more serious than an economy that won’t go, more serious than a nuclear Iran, more serious than the Pope. This man was elected TWICE so don’t we have to take him seriously? And he does have the ‘best’ scientific minds advising him. Just ask Lawrence M. Krauss.

  29. Anyone can be an intellectual. Public intellectuals might work for the public yet choose not to engage the public, or, they might be doubly public by choosing to do so. Public intellectuals might be privately or personally funded yet choose to engage the public, or not, thereby being doubly private.

    There are plenty of privately and personally funded researchers with a far deeper understanding of climate issues than those routinely publishing in the likes of SCIENCE or NATURE.

  30. We need some proponents for the “Bring It On” position: Warming and CO2 have an unbroken historical record of being beneficial to life and humanity, separately or together.

    • Mayor of Venus

      That organization exists: Minnesotans FOR global warming. They dream of growing palm trees along their 10,000 lakes.

  31. Only one journal qualifies as the intellectual center of gravity of Judy’s side in the Climate Wars.

    The problem is less that The American Thinker has never published a word by Bertrand Russell, Norman Mailer, Susan Sontag, Noam Chomsky, Mary McCarthy, John Updike, Edward Said, Gore Vidal. Albert Einstein, Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Dawkins or James Watson than that its utterly parchial content providers are never seen to read , let alone write in protest to the intellectual journals and book reviews that have for generations served as the nation;s centers of public contoversy.

    It isn’t the stupidity of the rejection of climate science that burns – its the inanity.

  32. It’s hard to take seriously an article by someone (Nisbet) who describes as a public intellectual the failed economist and left-wing anti-rational ratbag Clive Hamilton. It stretches credence to label Hamilton an intellectual.

    • I started reading Lisbet’s article, saw the reference to Hamilton and thought the same, but I think Nisbet’s is actually quite good – he just needs to add a fourth category.

      He’s got:
      Ecological Activists (CAGW, we’re past the point of no return)
      Smart Growth Reformers (CAGW, we’re at the tipping point but there’s still time)
      EcoModernists (AGW, it will be CAGW if we do nothing at all)

      I think the fourth category should be:
      EcoRationalists (AGW is considerably less of a problem than we’ve been told).

      • Nisbet says that he analyzes “three distinct groups of prominent public intellectuals arguing for action on climate change.” I suspect that he would not agree that an EcoRationalist was an intellectual, but I haven’t read the article, didn’t strike me as interesting enough.

  33. Fascinating post.

    From Prospect:
    “What [public intellectuals] offer is exactly what the public conversation needs: ideas, perspectives, criticism and commentary. ”

    You’ve selected this as your first take home point ProfCurry and I share your view.

    But the immediately following sentence from Prospect is another take-home point – should be number two on your bullet point list imho:
    “What anyone who offers them should expect in return is robust examination of what they offer.”

    Seems to me there’s never been, and there still isn’t, any expectation of ‘robust examination of what they offer’ on the part of CAGW communicators, whether in the climate science tent like Mann, Schmidt et al, or just pundits outside like Revkin and Gore.

    Instead there’s been indignance.

    How else to explain their (mis)characterisation of skeptics as ‘deniers’? Or their persistent rejections of requests for access to data and FOIs by skeptics? Or their lunatic accusations that anyone questioning CAGW orthodoxy is part of a vast right-wing conspiracy funded by Big Oil? Or their remarkable intolerance and the snippy abuse they mete out to any challengers on platforms like Twitter and in comments at skeptical blogs?

    How else to explain their pretty much universal incomprehension at being mocked, and their (mis)characterisation of mockery as malice? Here in Australia we’ve had public intellectuals in the climate science field assert they’ve received death threats when they haven’t!

    How else to explain their ‘we cannot let this stand’ rapid response to any skeptical publications that seem to be attracting positive commentary?

    I think the expectation of the folks who would fall into the CAGW-believing public intellectuals, levels 1 2 and 3, has always been and remains that their pronouncements should be accepted WITHOUT ANY examination.

    And that’s because they’re not suitable to be acknowledged as public intellectuals of any level. Their behaviour is the behaviour of clerics.

    • Yep. I characterise it as the soapbox (*) or pulpit approach to ‘communication’

      ‘Listen Up, Shut Up and Obey, Ye Proles. No Questions, Denierscum!’

      which is summed up so well in the thinking behind the strapline: ‘Real Climate – Climate Science from Climate Scientists’.

      There is no ‘deficit’ in climate communication. The general public understand perfectly well what the communicators are saying. They’ve had 30 years of free and largely unchallenged access to every medium to ram their points home.

      But even those without a formal scientific training use their eyes and ears and senses to observe that nothing much has happened climate-wise over the last twenty years. 2015 is much the same as 1995. And that the doomslinger’s predictions of imminent Thermageddon..or a new Noyes Fludde…or the death of the oceans..or 150 million climate refugees or the inundation of Manhattan or the end of snow as we know it, Jim, or whatever the scare story du jour might have been have not actually come to pass. Nor anything even remotely approaching these catastrophes.

      The last thing we need is another bunch of self-satisfied smug academics (whether officially anointed by their equally smug ‘peers’ as level 1, 2 or 3 intellectuals or not) standing on an even bigger soapbox and explaining to us all what bad people we are unless we change our evil ways.

      It’s been tried. It failed bigtime.

    • nottawa rafter

      The response from my friends to the left over a beer is always the same whether it is the economy, Illegal immigration, education, federal budget, betterment of the poor, race, gay marriage or global warming- an assertion
      or implication that I am a r+cist, homophobe, xenophobe or I get all my thoughts from Fox News. I have to remind them that I was also a Liberal 50 years ago and have been evaluating empirical evidence ever since noting the unintended consequences and moved on with one foot in reality.

      Their self image, as explained by Sowell, is one of an intellectual. Except every rant exposes them as anything but.

  34. The lack of critical self-reflection apparent in this latest attempt to sell the climate catastrophe is a great example of why so-called public intellectuals are in decline and disrepute.
    The disruption that is desperately needed regarding the public discussion of cliamte science is a new paradigm that rejects the catastrophic bs of the consensus.

  35. Hayek’s 1949 essay linked to by an earlier poster is highly relevant 66 years later:

    • I couldn’t help but think of Krugman when I read parts of it.

    • Funnily enough, I was thinking of Krugman in connection with Clive Hamilton, who when I first met him, ca 1986, had totally misunderstood Krugman’s excellent work on Strategic Trade Theory, and was trying to promote it on the basis of that misunderstanding. Krugman is a sad case, a once excellent economist gone to the dogs.

  36. Judith says, “Mostly, I appreciate doing what I find interesting and important, without worrying about how it is categorized.”
    I would expect, although, not being an intellectual myself, I could easily be mistaken, that most intellectuals would think the same way as our host does. It follows that those, unlike her, not currently engaged, will only do so when they see something interesting or challenging to comment on.
    Are they likely to do that, when the governing paradigm is that climate science is equivalent to particle physics, the 97% agreement being equated to the five ‘9’s, evidence given by Cern as proof-positive of the Higgs Boson.
    Nowhere, in Nisbet’s article, does he discuss the possibility that none of the three intellectual streams i.e. Ecological Activists, Smart Growth Reformers, and Ecomodernists, is correct. So, surely, the critical question is what would make an intellectual take the critical leap, find the subject interesting and dare to look foolish in the face of inevitable criticism.
    I would ask Judith to examine, in detail, what was the critical moment, the catalyst, that made her cross over from mainstream to opposition. Does an answer lie there?

    • Ian & Dr. Curry,
      (Assuming this is the appropriate framing)
      I would so appreciate this perspective also: “I would ask Judith to examine, in detail, what was the critical moment, the catalyst, that made her cross over from mainstream to opposition.”

    • I would say I was bit by the uncertainty monster. I had long been worried about how uncertainty was understood, characterized and communicated by the IPCC and broader climate community. Climategate revealed too much uncertainty hiding and simplification, which made me dig deeper, where I found vast areas not just of uncertainty but ignorance.

      • Hockey Stickey mounted the wall,
        Hockey Stickey fell on the flaw.
        All Kevin’s Hoarses, and all Michael’s Menn
        Couldn’t force Stickey on climate again.

      • I had long been worried about how uncertainty was understood

        It is also important on how well uncertainty is propagated,for example on misunderstanding where a simple epigram imparts sufficient information in Levy- Leblond’s About misunderstandings,about misunderstandings.

        The chief cause of poverty in science is imaginary wealth. The chief aim of science is not to open a door to infinite wisdom, but to set a limit to infinite error

        – Bertolt Brecht, Life of Galileo

  37. Why are there so few ( if any) staunch believers in CAGW contributing to this debate ( whatever category of Intellectual they might be)?

    • Because to debate is to admit the science may not be settled. Undermines consensus enforcement.

    • David Whitehead,
      Re:”Why are there so few ( if any) staunch believers in CAGW contributing to this debate ( whatever category of Intellectual they might be)?”

      If you mean in the totality, who says they’re not. If you mean in this local discussion, I’d posit it’s due to the location.

  38. Academics encouraged to “communicate”. Read “spin”.

  39. Déjà vu by the old school paradigm. Of course, reinventing the wheel is intellectually stimulating and, new century, new paradigm. Where had I once traveled this same route? Perhaps

    or for the Cliff Notes generation:

    Has the Academy finally succumbed to Sophist-ication?

  40. “Where is the provocative and politically ‘incorrect’ spirit of Charlie Hebdo in the climate debate? ” – JC

    Well, here’s some below…..but I don’t think that is what Judith had in mind.

  41. Geoff Sherrington

    Interesting topic. Before retirement I was an employee in a largish Australian resource company. I started as Chief Geochemist and finished as Manager, Government Relations. You note that you operate at the science/policy interface, as did I, with you in academia and me in the corporate setting.
    In the final years, we were losing sub-billion dollar opportunities because of hostile left-leaning government regulationand legislation, much induced by UN agencies like World Heritage. To try to stem the bleed, we had some corporate discussions about being a ‘go-to’ company, so when ‘our’ special topic came in public view, media would come to us first for a pro or con statement, hopefully crafted with intellectual feel.
    You have framed this topic around people,with a mention of think tanks, so I am proposing another, the corporate intellectual group. As it was a newish concept, ca 1990, we had fairly open choice about ‘our’ chosen go-to topic. I pushed hard for property rights, having convened a prior by-invitation conference with several international type ii intellectuals like Richard Epstein from Chicago.
    In the event, we were taken over by a larger group and we could not put the idea to the test. We were ta-ken over because our scientific success had made us quite a wealthy company in 3 decades of very exciting successful science.
    There are currently some corporations that act in this public intellectual capacity, maybe somewhere between your ii and iii. Microsoft is one suggestion. I am not discussing corporations that go public on their everyday work – it is about those who talk more about general public goods and bads.
    Question is, do you want to exclude corporate intellectualism or allow it here. It adds a further dimension.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Geoff Sherrington Do you want to exclude corporate intellectualism or allow it here. It adds a further dimension.

      Per comment below, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has emerged as a strong science-respecting voice in the public climate-change debate. Craig Venter, Elon Musk, and Steven Chu too have plenty to say regarding climate-change.

      Good on `yah, Venter, Musk, and Chu!

      \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • Geoff, interesting idea, esp if corps can address topics beyond their own narrow self interest.

      • If corporate leadership are addressing topics beyond their long term self interest then they are doing a poor job of using investor’s resources.

  42. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Ed Wilson, Jane Goodall, Peter Singer, Barry Commoner, Amartya Sen, and Wendell Berry are academics/scientists who have been operating as high-visibility environmentally-oriented “Public Intellectuals” at a Level II — and even Level III — for quite awhile. Naomi Oreskes’ scholarship and career trajectory are carrying her toward this level too. Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis) too is an emerging voice as a science-respecting Public Intellectual (Bergoglio has a degree in chemistry). And surely, Bill and Melinda Gates deserves mention too!

    Our Big Bet for the Future

    It is fair to ask whether the progress we’re predicting will be stifled by climate change.

    The most dramatic problems caused by climate change are more than 15 years away, but the long-term threat is so serious that the world needs to move much more aggressively — right now — to develop energy sources that are cheaper, can deliver on demand, and emit zero carbon dioxide.

    The next 15 years are a pivotal time when these energy sources need to be developed so they’ll be ready to deploy before the effects of climate change become severe. Bill is investing time in this work personally (not through our foundation) and will continue to speak out about it.

    We’re excited to see how much better the world will be in 15 years.

    Common to all of these workers is an appreciation of the entanglement of climate-change with other ecological, economic, and moral issues.

    One measure of these workers’ expanding social and political influence is the abusive smears that ideologues hurl toward them personally … in lieu of reading their works, or grappling with the “wicked” issues that their works so capably raise!

    Good on `yah, Wilson / Goodall / SInger / Commoner / Sen / Berry / Oreskes / Bergoglio / Gates!

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    • Fan

      You have a short memory. 5000 days to save the planet issued by the ecologist magazine was written in 1990 with some 14 years supposed to elapse between us and some catastrophic future.

      That prediction passed in 2004. The continual claims that sea level will suddenly accelerate and create a metre or much more rise by 2100 really needs the seas to get a move on to stand any chance of being proven right.

      You don’t think you are walking with alarmist friends who look at the world through a distorted lens, perhaps by gazing at computer models too much?


      • You take out subsidence, erosion, glacial rebound etc and all factors which distort the issue, find a geographically stable place which has had long and conscientious record keeping. Stockholm and Juneau are out (dropping sea levels) as is east coast US (rising levels).

        The better location will tell you a bit about the centuries old phenomenon called sea level rise.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        mosomoso notes that “[tide-gauge data] will tell you a bit about the centuries old phenomenon called sea level rise.”

        Thank you for posting that tide-gauge data, mosomoso!

        Yes, the sea-level rise-rate acceleration, in the latter half of the 20th century relative to the first half (that even by eye, is so plainly evident in your cherry-picked data set) is affirmed by recent, larger analyses.

        Preliminary analysis of acceleration of sea level rise through the twentieth century using extended tide gauge data sets (August 2014)

        by Peter Hogarth

        This work explores the potential for extending tide gauge time series from the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL) using historical documents, PSMSL ancillary data, and by developing additional composite time series using near neighbor tide gauges.

        The aim was to increase the number, completeness, and geographical extent of records covering most or all of the twentieth century.

        The number of at least 75% complete century-scale time series have been approximately doubled over the original PSMSL data set. In total, over 4800 station years have been added, with 294 of these added to 10 long Southern Hemisphere records. Individual century-scale acceleration values derived from this new extended data set tend to converge on a value of 0.01 ± 0.008 mm/yr2.

        This result agrees closely with recent work [that affirms sea-level rise-rate acceleration]

        Conclusion  Data rules — ideology fools!

        That common-sense reality has long been evident to pretty much *EVERYONE* — professional city-planners especially! — eh Climate Etc readers?

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      • Er, cherry picked? Try geologically picked.

        Fan, if you look again at the graph you show, you’ll see that there was a (much discussed) slight dip from the 1930s to 1950s, interrupting a slight rise, which slight rise was resumed. If I was a cherry-picking coolist I could have just pointed to a graph showing sea level falling somewhere, sneakily omitting all mention of glacial rebound. (The way some clever scamps omit mention of subsidence.)

        Sea level rise is real but it is a dribble, starting (this time!) around the late 1700s and maybe going slightly faster before rather than after the 1860s. Very slight, of course, like the whole sea level beat-up. Of course, when I consider the massive rises (and substantial falls) in sea levels in quite recent millennia, I wouldn’t buy sea-level real estate as a millennial investment. A Bond Event cooling would leave me high and dry (and droughted), while a Roman Warming would have me paddling home.

        The only way to “tackle” this particular manifestation of climate change is to have a glaciation. Judging from the sooking over some slight cooling and ice increase in the 1970s, I wouldn’t suggest that.

      • And of course, those darned continents keep rising and falling and moving sideways. Is there nothing sacred?

        And of course, the jelly-like Earth reacts as it should. A pimple here has to be compensated by a dimple there.

        And of course, the water flows where it can – filling the depressions, no more no less. Very depressing indeed, to a Warmist.

        Measure the sea level rising and falling on a floating ship, or maybe a submarine. Time for a cup of tea and a good lie down, I think!

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      TonyB criticizes “[a bunch of cherry-picked lightweights who achieved little]”

      TonyB, that my comment positively affirmed heavyweights who contribute much, while your post cherry-picked lightweights who achieved little, aptly illustrates the difference between critical thinking and denialist cognition.

      Fortunately, SOME folks focus (responsibly) upon the strongest climate-science, rather than irresponsibly upon the weakest climate-science! …

      New York City Panel on Climate Change
      2015 Report Executive Summary

      The climate of the New York metropolitan region is changing—annual temperatures are hotter, heavy downpours are increasingly frequent, and the sea is rising.

      These trends, which are also occurring in many parts of the world, are projected to continue and even worsen in the coming decades due to higher concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere caused by burning of fossil fuels and clearing of forests for agriculture.

      Sea Level Rise  Sea level rise in New York City is a significant hazard, increasing the risks posed to coastal communities, infrastructure, and ecosystems.

      Projections for sea level rise in New York City are 11 to 21 inches by the 2050s, 18 to 39 inches by the 2080s, and could reach as high as 6 feet by 2100.

      For the 100-year flood, sea level rise by 2100 roughly doubles the affected area compared to the December 2013 FEMA Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs); for the 500-year flood, sea level rise by 2100 increases the affected area by 50% compared to the December 2013 FEMA FIRMs 500-year flood area.

      Queens is the borough with the most land area at risk of future coastal flooding due to sea level rise, followed by Brooklyn, Staten Island, the Bronx, and Manhattan.

      Good on `yah, public intellectuals of the New York Academy of Sciences!

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      • Fan

        Your comment about changes in sea level is an example if scientific dishonesty.
        You know that sea level is rising at very close to the same rate it has been for a very long time and the current rate will result in a rise of about a foot between 2000 and 2100. Changes greater (or lesser) than that amount are due to changes in the local land height.

        Try being honest–it makes life easier

      • Fan

        You are aware of Goldsmith et al and the Ecologist magazine aren’t you? Lightweights?

        Wrong yes, like many lightweight or heavyweight pundits.

      • Fan

        Here is the bio of ‘lightweight’ Goldsmith, the James Hansen of his day.


      • Please don’t forget Phil Jones… five years and it feels like only yesterday.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Rob Starkey accuses [without evidence] “Fan, your comment about changes in sea level is an example of scientific dishonesty. You know that sea level is rising at very close to the same rate it has been for a very long time.”

        No recent scientific analysis (known to me) supports your claim.

        Multiple recent scientific analyses assert the opposite.

        Request  Citations please, Robert Starkey!

        Alternative  Absent verifiable evidence for your assertions, Rob Starkey, you are well-advised to cease trusting your sources.

        *EVERYONE* appreciates *THAT* common-sense reality, eh Climate Etc readers?

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      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Tonyb characterizes [inexplicably] “[Edward “Teddy”] Goldsmith, the James Hansen of his day.”

        TonyB, your own bibliographic sketch establishes that:

        Edward Goldsmith  did not train as a scientist, did not publish as a scientist, and did not train students to be scientists.

        James Hansen  entirely opposite in all three respects.

        Conclusion  In regard to scientific achievements as a Level I foundation for Level II public advocacy, it is reasonable to regard Ed Wilson (present age 86) and Jane Goodall (age 81) as “the James Hansens (age 74) of their day.”

        Uhhh … except all three of these Level II scientists are getting on in years!

        Resolved  We should be saying Katherine Hayhoe is the James Hansen / Ed Wilson / Jane Goodall of the 21st century“!

        Can Climate Etc readers suggest other emerging Level II climate-scientists besides Katherine Hayhoe?

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      • Hey Fan! Why are you so trusting of authority?

        “Throughout human history, as our species has faced the frightening, terrorizing fact that we do not know who we are, or where we are going in this ocean of chaos, it has been the authorities — the political, the religious, the educational authorities — who attempted to comfort us by giving us order, rules, regulations, informing — forming in our minds — their view of reality. To think for yourself you must question authority and learn how to put yourself in a state of vulnerable open-mindedness, chaotic, confused vulnerability to inform yourself.”

        TIMOTHY LEARY, How to Operate Your Brain

      • Matthew R Marler

        A fan of *MORE* discourse: Fortunately, SOME folks focus (responsibly) upon the strongest climate-science, rather than irresponsibly upon the weakest climate-science! …

        What now is the strongest science? Sea level change? The sea level has risen at a fairly consistent rate for a long time. Projections for sea level rise in New York City are 11 to 21 inches by the 2050s, 18 to 39 inches by the 2080s, and could reach as high as 6 feet by 2100. Do you consider those projections to be “solid science”? Will they become weak science if they are not confirmed?

      • Matthew R Marler

        A fan of *MORE* discourse:


        You know better by now than to exaggerate short-term fluctuations in one locale. Every heavy-duty climate scientist has warned against exaggerating short-term fluctuations in single localities.

      • AFOMD,

        You wrote –

        “Fortunately, SOME folks focus (responsibly) upon the strongest climate-science, rather than irresponsibly upon the weakest climate-science!”

        Considering that climate is merely the average of weather, which any reasonable child can work out, your supposed climate science is a charade – or maybe a farce, in the finest tradition.

        It is the province of the gullible, fools, frauds, the easily led, and the weak minded. One cannot point to a single benefit to mankind – except as an example of a popular delusion embraced by seemingly rational people.

        Carnot believed in the caloric theory of heat, as did Lord Kelvin initially. Both managed impressive achievements in spite of their erroneous beliefs. And what great work, in similar vein, have the likes of Schmidt, Mann, Hansen, and all the others of similar limited intellect managed?

        Where is the Mann Cycle? The degree Hansen? The Schmidt Principle, perhaps?

        Stuff and nonsense! You have nothing but mindless appeals to quasi authoritative figures. Away with you! Relevant facts are appreciated, but predictions are often less useful than nothing at all.

        Live well and prosper,

        Mike Flynn.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Insurance  Rational measures against high-damage low-probability eventualities.

        More details on insuring against catastrophe from sea-level rise

        Geological perspective on potential future sea-level rise
        Scientific Reports (2013)

        During ice-age cycles, continental ice volume kept pace with slow, multi-millennial scale, changes in climate forcing. Today, rapid greenhouse gas (GHG) increases have outpaced ice-volume responses, likely committing us to > 9 m of long-term sea-level rise (SLR).

        We portray a context of naturally precedented SLR from geological evidence, for comparison with historical observations and future projections. This context supports SLR of up to 0.9 (1.8) m by 2100 and 2.7 (5.0) m by 2200, relative to 2000, at 68% (95%) probability.

        Historical SLR observations and glaciological assessments track the upper 68% limit. Hence, modern change is rapid by past interglacial standards but within the range of ‘normal’ processes.

        The upper 95% limit offers a useful low probability/high risk value. Exceedance would require conditions without natural interglacial precedents, such as catastrophic ice-sheet collapse, or activation of major East Antarctic mass loss at sustained CO2 levels above 1000 ppmv.

        Conclusion Coastal real estate == improvident long-term investment.

        That’s evident to *EVERYONE*, eh Climate Etc readers?

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      • Matthew R Marler

        Better sea level data here:

        There is also a map with regional trends:

      • It’s the same data. I sincerely doubt the scientists at the University of Colorado take immediate exception to the new paper from Harvard, which is where Mitovica teaches and does research.

      • nottawa rafter


        CU shouldn’t take exception since the study by Hays has current rate at 3.0 while CU is at 3.2. What’s not to like.

        Let’s see if CU stays at 3.2. That is the whole ballgame. Talking about the last 100 years is about as relevant a debate as the comparison of Ruth against Aaron. I am more interested who is getting the job done in the next 5 years.

      • FOMD

        So Kat Hayhoe is the next James earth-is-gonna-be-hot-like-Venus Hansen. From your wiki link, she is :

        1. An atmospheric scientist
        2. Professor of … Politics (??? !!!)
        3. An evangelical
        4. Married to a preacher

        You are correct! She is the perfect candidate for the CAWG mission! The climate rapture is coming! Repent! Turn out the lights, turn off the AC! Unplug the computer and the tv! Ride a bike, no, that is made in China, better to walk to work, if you have a job. Throw away your shoes and run barefoot in the clover and do away with Haber-B. nitrogen fertilizers!

        Btw, I love the cartoon of the beach house and the tsunami. I suppose beach property is dirt cheap, since everyone knows those beach houses are doomed. Here in Obamaville (80% in the Dem. tank), CA beach houses are $3 million and up, and they even have Obama stickers on their BMWs and Teslas! Wassup with that, eh?

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        JustinWonder affirms [with mocking intent] “Kat Hayhoe is the […] perfect candidate for the [climate-change science] mission.”

        JustinWonder, your mockery of Katherine Hayhoe inspires reflection …

        Yes, Katherine Hayhoe’s blending of respect-for-science with respect-for-religion

        carries forward — outstandingly! — the tradition of religion-respecting science of (for example) Jane Goodall and Ed Wilson …

        as compatible with the science-respecting religion of (for example) Wendell Berry and Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis).

        Conclusion  Thank you sincerely, JustinWonder, for helping Climate Etc readers to appreciate the accelerating 21st century union of science-respecting religion with religion-respecting science.

        Good on `yah JustinWonder, for inspiring deeper reading and mature reflection!

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    • Fan, you claim:
      “Yes, the sea-level rise-rate acceleration, in the latter half of the 20th century relative to the first half (that even by eye, is so plainly evident in your cherry-picked data set) is affirmed by recent, larger analyses.”

      Thanks to science, you don’t have to blindly trust your lying eyes.
      Twentieth-Century Global-Mean Sea Level Rise: Is the Whole Greater than the Sum of the Parts?

      Confidence in projections of global-mean sea level rise (GMSLR) depends on an ability to account for GMSLR during the twentieth century. There are contributions from ocean thermal expansion, mass loss from glaciers and ice sheets, groundwater extraction, and reservoir impoundment.

      Progress has been made toward solving the ‘‘enigma’’ of twentieth-century GMSLR, which is that the observed GMSLR has previously been found to exceed the sum of estimated contributions, especially for the earlier decades.

      The reconstructions account for the observation that the rate of GMSLR was not much larger during the last 50 years than during the twentieth century as a whole, despite the increasing anthropogenic forcing.

      Semiempirical methods for projecting GMSLR depend on the existence of a relationship between global climate change and the rate of GMSLR, but the implication of the authors’ closure of the budget is that such a relationship is weak or absent during the twentieth century.

      You also observe:
      “Fortunately, SOME folks focus (responsibly) upon the strongest climate-science, rather than irresponsibly upon the weakest climate-science!”

      I agree, and fortunately after more than a decade of declaring catastrophic future events based on weak (read preliminary) science; strong climate science is slowly getting back on track towards providing a much-needed context.

      Late Holocene sea level variability and Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (pdf available)

      Pre-twentieth century sea level (SL) variability remains poorly understood due to limits of tide gauge records, low temporal resolution of tidal marsh records, and regional anomalies caused by dynamic ocean processes, notably multidecadal changes in Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC).

      The multidecadal regional SL anomaly curve provides a unique long-term context for understanding the controversial acceleration in the rate of sea level rise during the past few decades.

      Rates of 2–4 mm yr1 punctuate the SST-derived SL curve; thus, the regional eastern U.S. rates observed during the last few decades are not necessarily unusual or representative of a long-time average. Regional rapid SLR rates of several cm/yr can occur over several decades, as expected from ocean dynamical and modeling studies.

      The hypothesis that late Holocene global SL has been stable [e.g., Bindoff et al. 2007] rests largely on local and regional tide gauge and tidal marsh records which have been corrected for GIA, but, importantly, not for variability related to AMOC, or they cannot resolve such variability.

      This hypothesis has recently been questioned and thus should be reevaluated using quantitative reconstructions of AMOC and records from higher latitudes.

      Conclusion Data rules — ideology fools!

  43. Judith writes–“We are dealing with a wicked mess. To break out of this rut, we need disruptive ideas, subversive ideas even, and alternative renderings/framing of the climate problem and its solutions.”

    Judith’s prior post describes why she views it as a wicked mess.

    “According to Horn, the defining characteristics of a social mess are:[20]
    1. No unique “correct” view of the problem;
    2. Different views of the problem and contradictory solutions;
    3. Most problems are connected to other problems;
    4. Data are often uncertain or missing;
    5. Multiple value conflicts;
    6. Ideological and cultural constraints;
    7. Political constraints;
    8. Economic constraints;
    9. Often a-logical or illogical or multi-valued thinking;
    10. Numerous possible intervention points;
    11. Consequences difficult to imagine;
    12. Considerable uncertainty, ambiguity;
    13. Great resistance to change; and,
    14. Problem solver(s) out of contact with the problems and potential solutions.”

    Judith- What I do not agree with is that I, you or anyone else can state that they “know” that there is a PROBLEM. There is an issue that some people think or believe is or may be a problem.

    There has been a great deal of publicity to try to convince the public there is a problem that requires immediate action, but the momentum to sustain this drive for action has greatly diminished as time has passed and the weather has not cooperated.

    Imo, there is a risk that people to close to the issue come to believe that it is a more important issue than it really is in truth. If the current trend of actions worldwide (however a reader views those actions as good or bad) continues for the next 25 years what will occur?

  44. nickels, it was fine before Fan came on with his embroidered posts, which have often been said to give WordPress a hissy fit. If so, maybe CE needs an extra rule.

  45. We clearly need more people in this space, from pundits to science communicators, but especially full-fledged (Level II) public intellectuals.

    Why do we need more scientists who are also “public intellectuals” in the climate science debate? What is wrong with simply communicating the science? And I am not sure why we need more “pundits” in the debate either. Pundits are for the most part are not experts in the field and usually come to the debate with a political slant or leave out a number of relevant facts to support their argument.

    Now if you are speaking about the policy implications of climate change then I agree we do need more knowledgeable public intellectuals who can speak about the issues. But that is a completely separate issue from the climate science debate.

  46. Disruptive?
    If there is anyone who hasn’t already heard this, I have taken a copy of NCDC’s GSoD data set and use that to calculate a daily thermal cycle, different than a 24 hour day, it’s the period of yesterday’s minimum temp to today’s minimum temp. It’s consists of yesterday’s minimum temp to yesterday’s maximum temp, and yesterday’s maximum temp to today’s minimum.


    All of the data and code can be found at the url in my name, this data is all in this zip


    • Mi Cro, you have such an ocean of data that even a relatively small jerk in analysis may lead to a tsunami of understanding. Stresses are rising along the fault line.

  47. David L. Hagen

    BP as A Level II Company with its annual Energy Outlook
    See BP Energy Outlook 2035 Feb 2015
    See Consumption by Fuel

    Note especially slide 18, showing GDP rising with slower but strong increases in energy and consequently CO2.

    Anyone trying to become a Level II communicator who does not incorporate these trends is but spitting into the population growth hurricane.

  48. Academia and popular culture have chosen divorce. It wasn’t always that way. As an example of a Type II academic outside the climate science world, consider Dr. Kay Redfield Jameson. Her books are outstanding and
    you can find many of her presentations on YouTube. Read one of her books or watch a presentation on YouTube just to see the possibilities.

    Getting back to the contentious divorce, the everyperson, in the days before television and, perhaps, radio, would pay to attend lectures given by intellectuals. See the following book, written by someone with a foot in both worlds.

  49. Sociology of climate science : nice models are Erving Goffman, Joseph Gusfield, and a PhD Thesis published as a book long ago “A Poetic for Sociology” by Richard Harvey Brown. All work by irony.

  50. Very thought provoking post. Three provoked thoughts.
    First, what does it mean to be a level two intellectual? I would have thought that means evident intelligence in whatever topic. Intelligence is more than mere expertise. It is applied expertise where even non-experts can follow and connect the dots. Larry Tribe is well known in legal circles as Harvard Law’s foremost constitutional law expert. He just wrote a personal amicus brief to the court handling the states v. EPA coal emissions litigatation. He says EPA proposed regulations are unconstitutional AND extrastatutory. Anyone can follow his reasoning. Courageous thing at Harvard. Tribe is a level two intellectual, just not very public.
    Naomi Oreskes is now a professor at Harvard. She has cultivated a very public profile. Her expertise is supposedly history of science. Her new book pretends to be the history of climate science written from the perspective of the future. It is pure warmunist drivel. Naomi thinks she is a level 2 public intellectual. I think not. History is about the past, not the future. And what history there is to ‘climate science’ suggests much of it is wrong using Popper’s and Feynmann’s definition and test.
    Second, what does it mean to be public? Certainly Krugman’s NYT column makes him public. But despite his Nobel in economics, is he truly an intellectual concerning many of his columns? Mere pundit. Is public just old, dying MSM exposure? I think not in the era of the internet. It means being in a position to offer meaningful intelligent input to public discourse, which shapes public understanding and ultimately votes. This blog, for instance. Judith made the enormous effort to become a true level 2 public intellectual.
    Third thought. Why so few? Many public academics aren’t intellectuals. They are just conformist experts in a now alarmingly PC environment. Not just Oreskes. Mann (who is not very expert either, as McIntrye has shown).. England in Australia. Schnellnhuber in Germany. Many true intellectuals haven’t the time, the energy, or the stomach for being public. The effort barrier is hopefully lowering a bit with new forms of lower cost/effort, easier access communication like internet blogs and ebooks. Even if one can find the time this still takes the stomach, which Bengstom did not have concerning the GWPF kerfuffle.

    • nottawa rafter

      If there ever was a Keynesian One Trick Pony, Krugman is it. There is nothing complex in his view of economics. Spend more money. Problem fixed. Tell that to Japan. And he is “advising” them. I guess he is their 4th arrow.

    • A bundle of shafts, fascened, without points or feathers. The arrows are Three Dimensional Printing on currency paper. See how far they fly.

  51. Dadgummit! Threading is busted! It’s the end of context as we know it!

  52. Question for Judith (or for anyone else for that matter)

    What is the specific potential change in conditions that is your largest concern today regarding AGW and when will the negative result be clearly demonstrated?
    If a person can’t clearly show that their potential concern is likely to result in a later problem, why is it communicated as a wicked problem? Is it only to gain support for a desired course of action?

    Judith, your views on the entire topic have evolved greatly over the past several years. Isn’t it time to communicate that we don’t even know that there is a potential problem?

    • wicked problem here: many dimensions and possible causes to the potential problem (and many different locales)

      • Your honor. I believe the witness is being evasive.
        (Note to Rob, isn’t an interrogator supposed to know the answer to a question before it’s posed?)

      • Danny- I was truely trying to gain information.

        Judith describes the issue of AGW as a wicked problem and imo does it inappropriately. I asked her to describe or list the primary potential problems that she thinks are reasonably valid issues.

        Is the climate in general a wicked problem?

        Is the climate with AGW a greater or lesser wicked problem? Why, where and when? What reliable data was used to reach the conclusion?

        I read a great many claims but little of substance to justify the belief of AGW being a problem.

        What are the most likely new problems that are going to develop?

        Where will these new problems occur?

        When will these change occur?

      • Rob,

        And I think it’s a great question. I sat back in my chair to think about my views when I read it and looked forward to Dr. Curry’s response. Methinks the witness be evasive. I see much “uncertainty” in her answer as it stands.

        My note to you (poorly done) was in wonder as to what your answer might be. Thinking back now, I could see you might wish to hear a response first. I’ve taken the liberty of passing your question on to two friends who are opposite sides of the same coin.

        I like your thinking as I see it. It’s not a question of AGW (or CAGW) vs. “denier” (apologies). It’s seemingly subsets of subsets of same.

      • google wicked problem climate change, and you will find many arguments for categorizing climate change as wicked. As to the impacts of climate change and whether they are a ‘problem’, that is an area of value judgment and polities, and people will disagree. All that doesn’t imply that climate change is not a wicked problem.

      • Judith,
        I would like to ask if you have considered what observational or experimental evidence would convince you to change your position on GW.

      • My position is that the issue of whether humans are dominating climate change is uncertain. If you read my uncertainty monster paper, it highlights the futility of uncertainty reduction, since new uncertainties keep popping up. The key uncertainties are what happened in the past, and its too late to fix past observational deficiencies

      • Level II, sweet…

        Their comments are all about huff’n & puff’n…
        That’s the way to go, Mr. Joe.

      • Question for Prof Curry:
        Lucia argues here that we should place less credence on your blog comments and more weight on what you have actually quantitatively published. Her statement is that Lewis/Curry implies that you think there is less uncertainty than before. I stated a different opinion there of your stance. Do you agree with Lucia’s characterization that your published remarks indicate less uncertainty on your part now with regards to climate sensitivity?

      • No, the issue is this. In the context of the paradigms under which the climate community has ben evaluating sensitivity, then uncertainty in climate sensitivity is less (as per Lewis/Curry, and failure of the warmest climate models to reproduce 21st century temps). That said, there is significant structural uncertainty in how we are approaching/framing the climate sensitivity problem. I have another post on this issue in the works, maybe i need to try to get to this next week.

      • Prof Curry: In the context of the paradigms under which the climate community has ben evaluating sensitivity, then uncertainty in climate sensitivity is less
        Thank you, that was my understanding of your position as well.

      • I’m intrigued by the wickedness that is not evil. The evil is mere paint on the lily, and conceals the beauty.

    • Rob, FWIW, I went looking for potential problems amongst all those claimed by CAGW. First, lets define a climate problem as something that needs global mitigation rather than adaptation as we go along. Artic amplification and sea level rise. Ice shelf tipping points. Agricultural impacts. Ocean acidification. Extinctions. What I found was either appallingly bad science or grossly overexaggerated hyped science, or both. Found no actual provable problems except if the precautionary principle is allowed to run amuk.

      Now define climate problems as those where some regions might struggle to adapt. (This is the island water arguement described in essay Carribean Water. It is the Sahel drought argument described in essay Carbon Pollution.) To the extent true at all (there has been much climate hype like Obama’s about California drought, essay False Alarms), it is inevitably because local population growth is pushing or exceeding local carrying capacity. That is at root NOT a climate problem. And why AR5 WG2, and in an increasingly open fashion UNFCC (Figueriora’s statements, the negotiation draft for COP21,…) feature things not as directly climate related, while still not addressing the elephants in the room discussed in Gaia’s Limits.

      • Rud
        I agree that there is much potential harm that could result from AGW. The two largest areas of concern are (or seem to be):
        1. Potential sea level rate increase, and
        2. Potential significant changes in rainfall patterns.

        In regards to sea level rise, I look at the long term data and see that current sea level is pretty near historical lows. It has been rising for somewhere near 1000 years at pretty close to the current rate. I simply see no evidence of any significant increase in the rate of rise that can be linked to AGW.

        The issue with changes in rainfall patterns is that we have no information to believe regarding what will happen as a function of higher CO2 levels. It could make conditions worse or better in different places. We just don’t know.

        Most of the other issues appear to be nonsense when you take the time to dig into the details. Ocean acidification seems nothing more than a scare tactic. The PH at any given point in the ocean varies more in a week naturally than it would change due to AGW in years. Life in the ocean will adapt just fine to gradual change of PH. There are many more serious things we (humans) are doing to damage the oceans.

      • Rob,

        In you response to Rud (forgive my further intrusion) I see no concern for “tipping points” w/r/t ice collapse and sea level increase which is what I perceive the alarmists indicate will occur. Now I’m not aware of more than indications and no evidence. Have you seen any modeling which might support that contention?

      • Danny
        I am not aware of any modeling of sea level rise associated with CO2 that seems any more accurate than looking at the trend data. Imo, the fact that there has not been a significant increase in the rate of rise during the last 100 years is interesting.

      • Rob,

        Thank you. I’ve not run across that yet either, but still playing catch up. Makes me wonder on what that attribution is based other than supposition. Maybe FOMD can assist.

      • Danny–there are models of sea level rise, but if you look at the error bars the margins are so large to make them kind of silly. If sea level is rising at 3.2mm per year and your model has a margin of error of 5mm per year –what good is it? I assume you look at

      • Rob,

        Been using NOAA, but up/down arrows are regional and after all I’m supposed to be learning about something “global”. And, they don’t have the same effect as the squiggly lines that some prefer. Will add this to my bookmarks. Thanks for that.

      • Danny, see essays Pseudo Precision for SLR, and essays By Land or by Sea and Tipping Points for the possibility of sudden change therein. Enough sources and footnotes to sort it all out for yourself.

    • Rob, if i may elaborate on your question:

      If figuring out the climate now is a wicked problem, isn’t the course of action 1000 times worse?

      Say we expend a massive effort to cut our CO2 output – say 30, 50 70% ASAP – (think WWII level effort):

      How much effect on the climate would that really have, in say 100 years? (considering humans are only a few percent of the carbon cycle)

      How would we ever know what effect it had had? (our great great grand kids could still be arguing about the models)

      and finally:
      What opportunity costs would we incurr by doing it? (what do we miss out doing that would really have been better)

  53. The most disruptive – and accurate- way to consider “climate change” is to compare how similar it is to the last great international science/social synthesis, eugenics.

  54. “But the real issue is the ‘consensus enforcement’, which has resulted in the degeneration of discourse on both sides to mere partisanship, not to mention vehement attacks against opponents.”

    Too right. There’s about as much appetite in the climate establishment for a fully fledged level II public intellectual who provides disruptive / alternate views, as there was in the wider establishment of 1850s for someone like Darwin to come along with a disruptive / alternate view of man’s origin. And for the same reason. The climate consensus is a core narrative of, and is vigorously enforced by, a culture. By definition any authoritative (a true public intellectual would be seen as credible) challenge that is disruptive would undermine that culture, and hence would be defended against, with great gusto. The public intellectual may get his head handed to him on a plate; I believe this was suggested recently as a means to neuter Matt Ridley’s challenges, for instance.

    Fortunately the culture of climate catastrophe is not so well entrenched as (creationist) Christianity was way back in Darwin’s time; there is some public appetite. But without establishment appetite it is hard to get platforms even in the Internet age. Plus who would be willing to run the gauntlet? There may be more establishment interest from notables who thought he/she must have two heads or devil’s horns, than for any of the delivered opinions.

    • pernicious destructive movements all impose self and group regulatory enforcement combined with demeaning those who actively disagree.

      • Evolution gaining acceptance at an evolutionary pace? Culture? Cosmology? Geology? Biology? …all brutal but steady to here. But to where hence? We can only ponder.

      • On we plod, as we ponder, lost in wonder, thus we plod.

    • Andy, nice analysis. But there is in CAGW a toxic mix that makes it harder IMO than in Darwin’s day. First toxin is the enormous amount of government money being poured into research, which inevitably biases results. No problem, no money to research it. A big problem for researchers. Eisenhower warned about this. Second toxin is the now massive renewables industry, directly incented to solve the ‘problem’. Third toxin is green lobby organizations, who use ‘problems” to solicit funding. WWF and Greenpeace are overt in their use of polar bears.
      Too many financial incentives to keep the meme going.

      • An exuberant bubble, an aggressive and unsustainable neoplasm, wrought with its own destructiveness.

      • Agree with Rud it was easier in Darwin’s day. At that time Adam Sedgwick was already pioneering modern geology – as a Anglican clergyman! There was a good deal of that kind of open, intelligent thinking around ready to evaluate Darwin ideas on their scientific merits. The conflict theory has been overblown. Trofim Lysenko had coercive state power backing him to a terrifying degree, Samuel Wilberforce did not. And that landmark debate was a very open and friendly affair compared to anything warmist public intellectuals [sic] would allow today.

      • Given that after ~160 years the theory of evolution still hasn’t completely won out, I hope to hell it is not harder this time around!

        While money follows culture more than culture follows money, bear in mind that Darwin not only faced the vast wealth and propaganda of the church (including the combined efforts of various denominations and the fact they controlled many of the schools), it’s also the case that state authority in many countries (even in the West) was closely bound with religious leadership and religious ideals, with almost all state officials also personally religious at that time. Hence the state itself plus all its wealth and instruments also positioned by default against the theory. Hard to imagine a harder hill to climb. Butler law preventing the teaching of evolution only repealed in US state law in 1967 – over 100 years after Darwin’s publication, and some schools still avoid teaching it now.

        The details of the cultural resistance are quite different these days, granted, because modern nations are very different. But the underlying social mechanisms are the same. And I doubt that Greenpeace and the WWF will be around in a 1000 years, yet the big religions today have lasted around twice that time already, and will likely outlive Greenpeace at the very least. Formidable cultural entities.

        I’m not saying it won’t be hard this time either, quite the opposite. I’m saying look how ridiculously damn hard it was last time, and if there’s even half that kind of cultural fortress to dismantle, then it’ll take decades at least! Meanwhile, the policy implications are far more severe for health and well-being than was the case for the evolution battle.

      • A Potemkin culture, erected for deceit, built to be temporary, but by Gaia, it towers to the skies.

      • You’re right RichardDrake – civility in discourse and disagreement is not an internet age concept as it was in Darwin’s day. The platforms for communication these days – proper blogs, Twitter, Facebook et al – don’t require any face-to-face contact, hence no deference needs to be shown if none is felt – there’s no consequence other than getting blocked or unfriended or a couple angry emails.

        You’re right Rud – there’s a highly entrenched CAGW orthodoxy with a vested interest in not letting any contra arguments get publicised/go unchallenged after being published.

        You’re right Andy, that in a culture of incivility and vested interests to protect, some might consider it’s not worth the grief to be the level 2 public intellectual who puts out ideas that are disruptive to the CAGW orthodoxy, given the hysterical reactions of the CAGW peddler who have no expectation of robust challenges to their pronouncements.

        But Matt Ridley actually proves you wrong Andy.

        Cos Ridley’s up for the fight. He knows when he presents disruptive ideas to the orthodoxy of CAGW he’ll inevitably get responses from the CAGW orthodoxy that include suggestions he should have his head handed to him. He has an expectation of robust challenge. So it doesn’t stop him. He simply calls out the nutters. It doesn’t stop Spencer, Lindzen, McIntyre or Prof Curry.

      • When I first entered the domain of internet discourse I noted that a great advantage the medium has over face to face conversation is that sharp disagreement doesn’t have to end in fisticuffs, or, worse yet, in agreement.

      • Kim, a great thought. +1

      • Gold, Kim.

        The ‘worse still, agreement’ is the secret fear of CAGW climate scientists. Perfect timely evidence, here’s a link to the Climate Dialogue final report of 17 Feb 2015.

        Sections 4.2 and 4.3 are pretty damning of mainstream climate scientists.

      • Planning Engineer

        The removal of potential fisticuffs from public discourse while providing advantages in many cases also iunfortuntely in other cases fosters increased noise, bile and venom from from those who are not otherwise restrained by a general allegiance to civility. There are some boards where decent people should not venture,

      • PE,
        I might add “on both sides”.

      • hidethedecline (@hidethedecline) | February 18, 2015 at 6:22 pm

        Heh, true, Matt Ridley and others do dare to wade against the tide, despite occasional engulfment (if that’s a word). But for now at least, it’s still a tide.

      • Rud,

        You are correct on all three points. I would add a 4th – the political donations that flow to politicians that maintain this corrupted status quo. Exhibit A for that is Oregon.

      • Planning Engineer

        Danny-I’d agree and maybe extend it to all across the spectrum of views.

  55. CO2 is the perfect chemical –e.g., there is no “bad” CO2. As far as all life on Earth is concerned, CO2 is “good” and yet fears about too much of it in the atmosphere persist. And with the fear about CO2 we get all of this high-minded thinking from our putative betters — the global warming alarmists — who know we’re all too stupid to understand — as they do — the gravity of the looming danger faced by all humanity of too much warming. Accordingly, these warmstoppers demand power over the rest of us to make us do as they wish.

    The fear about global warming becomes all too plausible to the warmstoppers when the supposed cause of it just what they thought it’d be: too much America and too much capitalism that together have led to this unsustainable modern life we live –i.e., we all live to well and it’s got to stop and no one else should emulate our example. The idea that increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 — put there my humanity burning fossil fuels for energy — has so permeated Left-thinking people that all Western academia, the government education complex and bureaucracy and the liberal media see no other truth.

    The real truth is that the Earth’s climate is unimaginably complex: far more complex than government scientists appreciate. Global warming and cooling is regulated by natural factors over which we have very little understanding and no control. Compared to natural variation, the minor increase CO2 plays a minor role in global warming.

  56. “Given the colossal import of the topic of climate change, why are there so few public intellectuals operating in this space?”

    Sweet Jeebus! You can’t come up with a satisfying answer because the given is wrong. There’s no colossal import except to a tiny group obsessed with the topic.

  57. Stephen Segrest

    For Environmental Regs in Developed countries — what if we started coupling things together in addressing uncertainty (i.e., the level of the Regs) on things like smog, mercury, dark soot, methane and CO2? (rather than looking at everything separately)

    For Developing countries what if the U.S. and E.U. gave international trade incentives to be more energy efficient (using Western technology) with their imports to the U.S. and E.U.? Low carbon standards and cleaner air.

    • Stephen Segrest,
      I’m not clear on what you’re suggesting. When you say incentive, do you suggest the US and EU offer to pay more for the same item than others might be willing to?

      • Stephen Segrest

        Danny — Per numerous news reports, Manufacturing Companies in China often don’t run their pollution control equipment on coal units. More and more, this pollution is drifting to the U.S. West coasts.

        If a Manufacturer in say, Vietnam installed a U.S. or E.U. best technology and efficient coal power plant — shouldn’t they be rewarded into U.S. and E.U. Markets over the Chinese?

      • Stephen Segrest,
        I follow what you propose, but there are issues. I, then, as a consumer, pay a higher cost for that which may (or may not) be the root cause of some amorphous thing known as AGW. If China continues business as usual, all I as a consumer have to do to aquire their product is go to Alibaba and bypass the “incentive’s” impact on my pocketbook. Plus, I’m then supporting a China based company over one based in the US (say Amazon).
        So while in theory I understand your desire to address “pollution”, in practice I don’t think it would function as hoped. Even if marketed as “carbon free” or the like, in the actual market place I’m not sure it would work. Evidence is that as many have indicated anecdotally, just ask one who professes we’re causing warming what they’ve done personally to address it. Usually, crickets.

      • Stephen Segrest

        Hi Danny — I would be talking about international trade agreements — incorporating some concept of low carbon standards in them. I am a Republican, and Jon Huntsman (who made his chops in international trade) was talking about this type of “concept” where we export what we are good at (technology) and then allow folks (like Vietnamese clothing manufactures in my above example) greater access into our markets.

      • Stephen,
        I mean no mal intent. Mr. Huntsman, from my review of a few years back seemed overlooked as a reasonable man. My nephew worked for his company and holds him in high regard. (I’m left socially, right fiscally, vote independently)
        I just have yet to see a concept that seems workable w/o REQUIRING others to pay. And I’m personally am willing to pay a bit more for a cleaner planet. But I also try to put my feet in the shoes of others. Some hurt, and some flop around.
        Here, I’ve asked for those most concerned to volunteer or allow same as a part of solution, and got shot down as not doing enough. Acutally got modest (but at least a couple showed up) support from skeptics. Then, Dr. Curry kindly pointed me to: This suits my thinking towards a reasonable approach. Reading what I have about the “super wicked” issues with CC it may be my confirmational bias showing but it makes sense. Take the low hanging fruit, entrench it, and build from there. Seems it addresses two of my concerns. First, to improve our approach for asthetic reasons (if nothing else) with side benefits of mitigation (just in case). Second, it creates a foundation for expansion should we find that in fact CO2/GHG is the real problem. If not, then over time our knowledge is expanded, we’ve made a prettier place to live, and we can focus on other issues w/o having misdirected our resources.
        (Enjoyed your work on biochar by the way and plan to learn more, but Rud, TonyB, and others are keeping me pretty occupied.)
        I’m not bucking you just for the sake of, I promise.

      • Hunh? I thought it was foam clamshells.

      • Stephen Segrest

        Danny Thomas — I did a speed read on the Hartwell paper. I very much agree with their perspective on Global Poverty. I disagree with a Carbon Tax — I just hate it.

        In the context of today’s blog topic by Dr. Curry — people usually get pegged as Pro or Con. Rarely to people try and find some common ground. I believe Fast Mitigation and International Trade Agreements can hopefully give us some common ground.

      • Dr. Ramanathan … Part of the IPCC since it’s inception…

    • None of those things are like the other. Why shouldn’t they be considered separately? I mean, are you going to allow more mercury pollution in return for reducing CO2 emissions? Mercury is a real pollutant, CO2 more than likely isn’t.

      • Stephen Segrest

        Hi Jim2 — In full disclosure, I will remind everyone that I’m a Fan of Fast Mitigation of GHGs (which Dr. Curry has written favorably about).

        Here is an example. EPA is considering reducing smog emissions. Should we keep it at current levels, reduce it to levels allowed in Canada, reduce it to E.U. Regs?

        Each level of smog reduction involves uncertainty — health claims vs. economic costs. But what if we coupled smog and GW/CC together in how we look at total uncertainty?

        As a stand alone, maybe we keep smog standards where they are. If we couple smog and GW/CC together as to total uncertainties, maybe we go to 60 parts per billion on smog.

      • @ Stephen Segrest

        Being a fan of fast mitigation you would seem to be the ‘go to guy’ to explain exactly how the temperature of the earth produced by the fast mitigation policies would differ, and be better, than the temperature of the earth resulting from ignoring ACO2 completely as a factor in choosing our energy sources.

        No one else seems to be able to do so.

      • Staphen – if you are a fan of fast mitigation you also should be a fan of fast neutrons.

      • Stephen Segrest

        Bob Ludwick — Google Dr. Ramanathan on Fast Mitigation. His argument is that we need to change the current trajectory of GHG emissions. Dr. Ramanathan states that Fast Mitigation (addressing short lived GHGs) can give us maybe and additional +20 years to better understand this wicked problem and for our engineers to come up with cost effective solutions.

      • @ Stephen Segrest

        ” His argument is that we need to change the current trajectory of GHG emissions. Dr. Ramanathan states that Fast Mitigation (addressing short lived GHGs) can give us maybe and additional +20 years to better understand this wicked problem and for our engineers to come up with cost effective solutions.”

        Which does nothing to answer my question as to exactly what measurable effect that the recommended fast mitigation efforts would have on the temperature of the Earth in the foreseeable future, since controlling the temperature of the Earth is the ostensible objective of the fast mitigation efforts.

        Lets see. You don’t know what the temperature of the Earth will be in the immediate future if we ignore ACO2. You don’t have any idea as to the measurable efficacy of the proposed fast mitigation effort. You don’t have a convincing argument that the unknown temperature resulting from the mitigation efforts will be in any way ‘better’ than the temperature expected, also unknown, if we ignore ACO2 completely. There is no empirical evidence of the EXISTENCE of an ACO2 problem demanding ‘solutions’.other than the ex cathedra attribution to ACO2 of an observed warming trend of about a degree over the last century and the equally ex cathedra proclamation of the Climate Experts that our straits are dire and only immediate government action, guided by those same experts can save us. There has been no public debate comparing the societal impact of immediately reducing or eliminating our use of fossil fuels vs the societal impact of an unknown increase in the temperature of the Earth, spread over an unknown time span. Yet you are convinced that ‘fast mitigation action’ to drastically reduce or eliminate our use of fossil fuels is warranted.


    • The light excites my mercury vapored mind.

  58. I am not an intellectual, I call myself a “well informed amateur astronomer”. In that context, atmospheres are interesting to me. I am working on a little page. Feedback is welcome. Thanks for you work Judith!

  59. John Smith (it's my real name)

    couple a stories ’bout my experiences in the hallowed halls

    as mentioned above
    NCSU early 70s (ok, not exactly the Mecca of the intellectual universe)
    but hey, we did win the NCAA round ball championship while I was there

    took a lit class form the guy who wrote the novel ‘The Flim Flam Man’
    assignment, half page on ‘Daisy Miller’
    being a slacker, I just parroted virtually the man’s own words back to him
    I skipped the next class where he read my paper out loud ’cause it was so good
    don’t get me wrong, I thought he was a great guy
    hated Hollywood as I remember

    Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 200
    one of the secret parallel university classes for jocks
    we called ’em ‘slide courses’
    no text book, no equations, attendance optional, open notebook exam
    I got an A

    intellectuals? matter of taste
    My favs
    Thucydides, Pete Townshend, Federico Fellini, Robert Rauschenberg,
    T.E. Lawrence, Camille Paglia, Gore Vidal, Jonathan Riley-Smith
    one or two who comment here I’m thinking about adding to my list

    academics, intellectuals, politicians, admirals, generals
    I gotta take ’em with a grain of salt
    I seen too many of ’em neked

    disclaimer: I am an unreliable witness to my own life

  60. From the article:
    Climate mitigation and intellectual property in tension
    If climate change is to be addressed effectively in the long run, nations of all descriptions must pursue mitigation and adaptation strategies. But poor countries face a potential hurdle when it comes to clean-energy technologies—most of the relevant intellectual property is held in the rich world. Many observers argue that it’s unfair and unrealistic to expect massive energy transformations in the developing world unless special allowances are made. Yet intellectual property rights are intended in part to spur the very innovation on which climate mitigation depends. Below, authors from Argentina, Egypt, and the United States debate this question: In developing countries, how great an impediment to the growth of low-carbon energy systems does the global intellectual property rights regime represent, and how could the burdens for poor countries be reduced?

  61. Out of the list Dr Curry provides:

    Bill McKibben, Clive Hamilton, George Monbiot, David Suzuki, Paul Kingsnorth, Naomi Klein, Al Gore, Tom Friedman, Nicholas Stern, Jeffrey Sachs, Amory Lovins, Stewart Brand, Mike Hulme, Roger Pielke Jr, Steve Rayner, Ted Nordhaus Michael Shellenberger, Andrew Revkin, Anthony Giddens, Naomi Oreskes, and James Hansen.

    I wouldn’t trust the opinions of Bill McKibben, David Suzuki, Al Gore, Jeffrey Sachs, Amory Lovins, and Naomi Oreskes on just about anything. I still don’t understand why Sachs has any credibility left. When was the last time he was correct on a subject? Why don’t people ask the Russians about the fabulous advice he provided them.

    On reflection, Lovins is a nutjob on a lot of things, but he also comes up with interesting ideas. And if the subject is how to fool people while making tons of money, Al Gore is on my list of poeple to consult. David Suzuki has also done well at the same game. I just don’t think he’s in Mr Gore’s league.

    • nottawa rafter

      I saw Sachs on TV shortly after Climategate broke. He was asked if there was anything of significance in the emails. He said no but I watched his body language closely and it told me he believed otherwise.

    • I knew Hamilton, who I would class as a third-rate loser, though he has amazingly acquired some go-to status and following from the vapid left, I spoke to Suzuki years ago, but he was exhausted, can’t assess him from the meeting but pretty unhappy with his later interventions.

      • ==> “I knew Hamilton, who I would class as a third-rate loser, ”

        The basic problem according to Buddhism, is that emotions like anger and hatred are based on projections and exaggeration, not on objectivity or wisdom, and thus basically incorrect.

    • @ timg56

      A list of names that includes Al Gore is NOT a list of intellectuals.

      The others are tarred by association. Justifiably.

  62. Andrew Montford’s wonderful book “The Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the Corruption of Science” had a seminal influence on me and served as an excellent primer on paleoclimatology.

    Michael Crichton’s “State of Fear” (with its extensive bibliography and Sources of Data for graphs) provided a good overview of climatology and sources of original data for this layman to commence his own independent examination of the subject.

  63. Matthew R Marler

    I didn’t think that the Matt Nisbett article was very informative or thought-provoking, perhaps because I believe that the diverse scientific issues require a couple more decades of dedicated research to resolve (such as how will the hydrological cycle change?), and because “we” already “know” that we need to construct more, improved, higher capacity flood control and irrigation systems whether CO2 causes warming or not. Nisbett’s article strikes me as a distraction.

  64. I find the public intellectual levels as defined above to be overly narrow and self serving and appear to exclude Abraham Lincoln, Bill Gates, and Scott Walker while extolling the world view of a professor Gruber–Americans are just too dumb to understand health care.

  65. John Smith (it's my real name)

    in times past, they were the holders of myths
    myths evolved into religion
    religion evolved in into science
    because we are uncomfortable with not knowing
    it is the nature our minds to fill in the gaps

    seems to me a true intellectual is the one who knows what is not known
    is comfortable with not knowing
    and refuses to fill in the gaps
    not enough of us have that much courage

  66. Freeman Dyson should certainly rate a mention, no? Or is there an age limit?

  67. Let’s do a history ‘what if?’

    What if the electronic computer hadn’t come along when it did. Assume for the moment that we didn’t have the ability to do the vast computations that we can today.

    If that were the case, would we still think there was a ‘climate problem’?

    Would we even have noticed that anything had changed much beyond the normal weather fluctuations that our forefathers have been used to throughout history?

    What would we have noticed? What would we be concerned about? Why?

    Now do the opposite.

    What if computers had existed around the little ice age …or the medieval warm period? What would the climatologists of those eras been writing and worrying about?

  68. Dr Curry, it is former member of European parlament, Dr Eija-Riitta Korhola. Double i, double t. Note the blogroll right has wrong spelling.



    So long as the intellectuals are communicating, I did ask a while ago about a simple block diagram demonstrating where and in what context the water vapour positive feedback phenomenon was occurring. Oddly not a soul seems able to manage this, yet in other fields which employ finite element analysis it is quite common to put together first order block diagrams showing feedforward and feedback points at least to an approximate degree of physical reality. The climate field seems to be the only field where what one gets is a mess of word smithing instead. How odd. Chris Kurowski

  70. JC SNIP theories of climate change are off topic for this thread

  71. A postcard on my office bulletin board, which I’ve had for about 20 years, from Steve Brill of Brill’s Content, a defunct but influential magazine, says a lot:
    Skepticism is a weapon. It deflects spin, propaganda, P.R., B.S., press agents, publicity seekers, hearsay, unnamed sources, and anyone with a hidden agenda.
    Skepticism is that little voice that tells you you’ll never be a millionaire with little or no money down.
    Skepticism is that sneaking suspicion that all aspirin are alike.
    Skepticism is a quality shared by truth seekers, freethinkers and realists.
    Skepticism demands that proof and facts be unsanitized, uncensored and unembellished.
    Skepticism make the world accountable.
    Skepticism is a virtue.

  72. One suggestion to encourage an improvement in the level of public discourse. Maybe Steve Mosher can get Richard Muller to have a formal public discussion with Steve Mcintyre or Freeman Dyson (if Dyson is still interested in climate issues) I would avoid making it a debate and call it a frank discussion of science and public policy. I think it might be useful and interesting and might encourage additional frank discussions and rational public discourse.


  73. Really disruptive would be:

    Disruptive ideas: public intellectuals and their arguments AGAINST action on climate change

    Like: eradicating world poverty has far higher priority than climate change (see e.g. Lombiorg)

  74. Public intellectuals in Australia tend to be public embarrassments but with the right inner-urban cheer squads. Collectivism, population control, eugenics (by sly indirection), social engineering, nature fetishism and general misanthropy – disguised or blatant – are their usual stock in trade. Climate bothering has been a perfect fit for them.

    Practical intelligence has a different and more glorious history in Oz, starting with Elizabeth Macarthur just after the nation came into being. The mental accomplishments, approaching genius, of the surveyor Goider and the cattleman Kidman leave one in awe.

    Clement Wragge and Sir Charles Todd are two more examples of practical intellectuals with enormous vision. And here is why, at least in the MSM, you are likely to hear less, rather than more, about these extraordinary 19th century Australians.

    • Goyder, not Goider.

      He was an example of what one can achieve by first observing, then, secondly, observing, and, subsequently, observing. After which, he observed.

      When impatient people like me would be claiming knowledge or pleading ignorance, George Goyder would be puzzling over specks of evidence in the land, sky or water around him.

      And when he came up with a theory about South Australia’s climate, impatient people would learn the hard way that Goyder’s theory was solid.

      Don’t call him a public intellectual. Just say he was massively intelligent to the massive benefit of the public.

      • This Australian lore is interesting. Probably, most of the time, anyone who claims to be an intellectual isn’t. Or, if someone it anointed by the media an intellectual, that person is actually a political hack.

    • It’s always Marcia, Marcia.

    • First we had ‘Global Warming,’ Yikes!

      Then we had ‘Climate Change.’ Ambiguity of
      the second kind.’

      And now ‘Climate Bothering.’ I prefer the third …
      as in ‘bothering’ / ‘ wouldn’t even harm a fly,’
      psycho connotations.

  75. The climate blog quality index upticked this week as Planet Gore ceased publication.

    Its underwhelming performance must vex all true Republicans, for the Pitcher of Warm Spit Principle adduced by the founding fathers dictates that any veep deserves far worse.

    • I case anyone was dying to know, the actual expression was that the vice-presidency is “not worth a bucket of warm piss” and it was not uttered by any of the Founding Fathers — it comes from FDR’s first VP, John Nance Gardner.

  76. Public intellectuals, while needing to satisfy their elite base by showing selective disdain for the public, nonetheless require a strong populist or contemporary pitch. They know their enemy and the enemy’s name is History. History must decrease, intellectualism must increase. As far as possible, we are to be New Men at Year Zero, and every fresh event is supposed to be a manifestation of life after Year Zero as interpreted by…guess who!

    “Narrative” is a fashionable and awful term we hear a lot lately. Intellectuals love their “narratives” because the freedom to edit is vast. This would be great if they were telling entertaining yarns, but their “narratives” are supposed to be reality perceived and expounded on a deeper level (and guess whose level that is!).

    This is very apparent where climate is concerned. Don’t count on a public intellectual to remind you today of cyclonic conditions in Queensland in 1899, or blizzard conditions in NE in 1717.

    In fact, count on him for the opposite.

  77. Steve Mosher

    Amusing as a Muller-Dyson debate might be, it would be far more edifying to see Freeman publically debate his daughter Esther,

    The very prospect must terrify PR hacks on both sides of the field, for both display a disconcerting habit almost unknown in blogdom: changing their minds.

  78. FWIW, I think we need less “intellectualising” and more proper experiments on the fundamental science in the climate space. That is where the real science should be but is not.

  79. I think the problem is that there are too many people with academic credentials in fields like Hydrology, Ecology, Plant Biology, etc. who speak as experts on climate when they don’t have the educational background to judge for themselves the credibility of the climate science. If we’re going to have public intellectuals, let’s make sure they have enough training in Atmospheric Science to be able to discern between good climate science and the majority of it which is complete rubbish.

    • Climatologists should only get to pick, only if we get to fire them.

    • Good point; most people from these fields are second-order consensus believers; they have not done primary research or even read the primary literature on detection and attribution of climate change. Instead, they believe the consensus because it has been put forward by an authoritative group.

      • Thought I’d share that in a critical thinking on line course with a module on CC the Prof. (AGW’er)(Phd, Plant Science) says to give credence to experts even if one disagrees (or doesn’t have a determination). Wonder if I linked a Soon paper if he’d still agree that that’s the best course of action.

  80. Pingback: Weekly climate and energy news roundup #169 | Watts Up With That?

  81. Interesting blog Judith, much better than this Week’s Chronicle of Higher Education on Public Intellectuals. As you explore “the philosophy and sociology of climate science and the science-policy interface,” please take a look at the history too. :-)