CAGW: a ‘snarl’ word?

The term ‘CAGW’  has both appropriate and inappropriate usage.

Introduction

Rational Wiki says: ‘CAGW”, for “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming”, is a snarl word (or snarl acronym) that global warming denialists use for the established science of climate change. A Google Scholar search indicates that the term is never used in the scientific literature on climate.’10

Where in turn the link for ‘snarl word’ says: ‘A snarl word is a derogatory label that can be attached to something (or even to people), in order to dismiss their importance or worth, without guilt. When used as snarl words, these words are essentially meaningless; most of them can be used with meaning, but that seldom happens.

So setting aside the snarl implications of the word ‘denialist’11 above, is all the usage of the ‘CAGW’ acronym meaningless, i.e. it is essentially a snarl word only? Or is there significant meaning associated with some usage, i.e. does it have legitimate, ‘non-snarl’ currency also, associated with real meaning?

In typical usage ‘CAGW’ may be followed by words such as narrative, message, story, line, debate, controversy, mantra, meme, myth, scare, hysteria, hoax, scam, religion, cult, cause, movement, believers, faithful, crowd, advocates, promoters, proponents, consensus, theory, hypothesis, premise, claim, case, conjecture and various others. Or it may appear in sentences without any direct descriptors such as those above, for example: ‘Proof positive that CAGW is about power, politics and greed is the fact that…’, ‘Without this strong feedback there is no real basis for CAGW since…’, ‘I have been waiting for someone, anyone, to enunciate a unique, broadly accepted goal for a program to “dodge” the CAGW “bullet”…’, ‘Cost / benefit analysis is apparently against the rules when it comes to CAGW…’, ‘The alarm is not about a warming of the globe, nor particularly AGW. It is about CAGW’.12

These demonstrate a much wider application than for just the ‘established science’, which I take to mean mainstream science, as expressed in the Working Group Chapters13 of the IPCC’s latest full report (AR5), so hereafter AR5WGC. Whether or not any such usages of ‘CAGW’ are justified, they are broadly categorized (albeit with overlaps, especially meme and consensus at the boundaries) as follows:

  1. expressing a communication aspect, applicable not only to climate scientists but to any parties communicating or exchanging on climate change, such as social authority sources, policy makers, NGOs, businesses, other scientists, whoever, and reflected by the words above starting narrative, message and similar.
  2. expressing a social phenomenon aspect, whether assumed to have deliberate causation or emergent causation, and reflected by the words starting, myth, scare and similar.
  3. expressing the aspect of adherents of the phenomena in b), as reflected by the words starting believers, faithful and similar, OR of subscribers to the science per d), OR both.
  4. expressing the science aspect, as reflected by the words starting theory, hypothesis and similar.
  5. expressing the aspect of actual physical climate change, sarcastically or not, as being potentially catastrophic (usually without extra descriptors in this context).

Usage without descriptors per the example sentences, are generally contextualized by one of these same categories.

The communication aspects

This is the most straightforward category to characterize. Within the public domain, there is manifestly a widespread narrative of certainty (absent deep emissions cuts) of near-term (decades) climate catastrophe. This has emanated from many of the most powerful and influential figures in the West throughout the twenty-first century, as exampled by the quotes listed a) to z) in footnote 1. While based only on English language reportage, this sample nevertheless includes leaders, ex-leaders and candidate leaders from 8 Western nations (with the US, Germany, UK and France being economically 4 of 7 and politically 4 of 6, top world powers9), along with high ministers, high UN officials, the Pope and UK royalty, over about the last 15 years. The narrative is also framed in a most urgent and emotive manner, which hugely increases its re-transmission capability14, is global in scope (‘the planet’), and unequivocally attributes the imminent catastrophe from global warming to humans (via ‘emissions’), i.e. the ‘C’ is due to AGW.

Rational Wiki is essentially correct regarding the literal usage of ‘CAGW’ in climate science literature (I found a few references on Google Scholar). Yet it’s right too in a more meaningful sense; i.e. nothing like this narrative of high certainty and imminent global catastrophe is represented within mainstream climate science, i.e. per the AR5WGC. A point that has been noted before on this and other climate blogs. Albeit ‘catastrophic’ (or similar) is actually used in AR5WGC, this is in reference to local / specific improbable scenarios only (e.g. the term used for maximal, yet very rare end of spectrum, episodic river flooding)15. No reasonable interpretation could produce the exampled narrative framing that has achieved such a high public profile over many years. So according to mainstream science, i.e. no skeptics required, this climate catastrophe narrative is flat wrong15a. Even at the best stretch it drags fuzzy possibilities plus probabilities from behind a hedge of caveats and limitations, then pushes them all front and centre, promoted to high certainty within an apparently well-mapped space15b. Nevertheless, this narrative / story / line / mantra exists, and at the highest authority level.

The sampled authority figures do not just speak for themselves. They represent their governments and parties and organizations, to some extent their nations. The power of this representation coupled with high emotive framing should be a very significant factor in the propagation of the catastrophic narrative across society, and especially down the pyramids of functionality spreading out from national / UN leaderships, so influencing policy (impending catastrophe is often cited as the main reason to act). However, other sources are transmitting in parallel, e.g. environmental NGOs, and total propagation will be due to the merged contributions of all. Penetration / propagation of the same catastrophe narrative is highly visible further out from primary leaderships, as exampled by the quotes listed a) to z) in footnote 2, which cover lesser-ranking / local politicians, leaders of less influential nations, NGOs, economists and influencers.

Emergent narratives typically spawn many variants, which are briefly analyzed in the companion post ‘The Catastrophe Narrative’, with further analysis in the (common) footnotes file.

There is nothing inappropriate about coining a name for the widely communicated narrative of certainty of imminent (decades) catastrophe as exampled by footnotes 1 and 2, which prior to the exception of the current US administration permeated Western / UN (and other) authorities high and low, and that falsely claims to be underwritten by ‘the’ science. ‘CAGW’ as a label for this narrative is suitable and has full meaning. Likewise for the narrative variant categories as exampled by footnotes 3 to 5; while as noted in the companion post, a few of such specimens or more emphatic localization may technically escape either full-on certainty or full-on global or maybe, depending especially upon ambiguous word-choices, full-on catastrophe, even this subset are highly emotive pitches of the same ilk that typically aren’t backed by mainstream climate science.

As climate scientist Mike Hulme noted a dozen years ago, this narrative created significant impact even back then: “It seems that mere ‘climate change’ was not going to be bad enough, and so now it must be ‘catastrophic’ to be worthy of attention. The increasing use of this pejorative term – and its bedfellow qualifiers ‘chaotic’, ‘irreversible’, ‘rapid’ – has altered the public discourse around climate change.” In 2010, Hans von Storch agreed16a.

The science aspects

Emphasizing the Rational Wiki quote above, Jacobs et al (in 2016 book) finds no merit in the claim ‘that catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is the mainstream scientific position’, i.e. mainstream science doesn’t support the concept of a high certainty (absent action) of imminent global catastrophe. So, although the IPCC integrates a range of scientific opinion and incorporates various outlier possibilities, within the scientific community there cannot be a widely accepted theory or hypothesis or premise or case for this. Hence directly tying mainstream climate science (including conventional AGW theory, no ‘C’) to this concept via ‘CAGW’ labeling, or implying that ‘CAGW theory’ is dominant (so perforce must cover the mainstream), is inappropriate. Some think no current science can claim the catastrophic15b, however…

This doesn’t imply an absence of scientific support for the principle. A minority of scientists, some very vocal, believe that ‘CAGW’ scenarios are more realistic. Footnotes 6 and 7 provide examples of about 50 climate scientists plus environmental and other scientists expressing their views of the catastrophic. To express a truly held belief is not to dissemble, so presumably these individuals have theories (probably not all the same) which lead them to this view, albeit not reflected by the mainstream / AR5WGC. Or at least they think such theories from other sources are highly credible. Their expressions typically ignore more balanced interpretations from their mainstream colleagues, or otherwise criticize the mainstream as being too conservative, often performing the same transformation / promotion as mentioned at the end of paragraph 2 section 2 above. Emotive phrasing is common, also featuring a large range of highly negative metaphors (e.g. hell or ballistic missiles or cars speeding towards cliffs), and / or the end of humans or civilization or the planet, with typically a sense of inevitability (unless major action). Hence using say ‘CAGW theory’ to label the claims of specific such scientists, is legitimate. But the much more typical sweeping references that imply ‘CAGW theory’ is the ‘official’ science, are illegitimate. In relation to the current mainstream, ‘CAGW theory’ is very much unofficial science.

Portraying scientists who propagate ‘CAGW’ notions as representative of the mainstream, via ‘CAGW’ labeling or any other means, is also inappropriate. However, this is a forgivable sin for the general public; how would they know that James Hansen, for instance17, occupies a minority fringe at odds with the main climate science community? And they aren’t the only ones subject to confusion about what is mainstream and where particular scientists might stand. Catastrophe narratives have infiltrated climate science and science communities generally. Their strong emotive content erodes objectivity17a and pressures scientists to reflect such narrative, hence especially within science communication.

In his book climate scientist Mike Hulme describes a step change towards the catastrophic in the ways that climate change risk was expressed in the public sphere, following an international climate change conference held in Exeter UK, in 2005. And to continue Hulme’s 2006 quote (via the BBC) from section 2: “This discourse is now characterized by phrases such as ‘climate change is worse than we thought’, that we are approaching ‘irreversible tipping in the Earth’s climate’, and that we are ‘at the point of no return’. I have found myself increasingly chastised by climate change campaigners when my public statements and lectures on climate change have not satisfied their thirst for environmental drama and exaggerated rhetoric. It seems that it is we, the professional climate scientists, who are now the (catastrophe) skeptics. How the wheel turns… …Why is it not just campaigners, but politicians and scientists too, who are openly confusing the language of fear, terror and disaster with the observable physical reality of climate change, actively ignoring the careful hedging which surrounds science’s predictions?” (bold mine). Yet in the face of continuing emotive pressure, even 12 years later a wider acknowledgement of this issue is still weak25.

So, in respect of the science aspects ‘CAGW’ has both appropriate and inappropriate usage. Without a proper survey it seems more typically the latter. Thus it’s likely regarding purely the science aspects that Rational wiki is mostly right, albeit only technically, in saying: ‘Despite the qualifier, denialists apply the term indiscriminately to anything approximating the mainstream scientific view on climate, regardless of whether or not “catastrophic” outcomes are implied’, and notwithstanding its own serious snarl word issue11. In practice, the deep entanglement of catastrophe narratives with climate science communication creates very understandable confusion, and an environment where serious misunderstanding is inevitable.

Given also that for many years the climate change narrative from highest authorities to the public is insistently catastrophic, Rational wiki’s claim that deployment of the acronym is a deliberate ploy of the desperate (‘an attempt to move the goalposts’), is one that ignores the big picture. A-list presidents and prime ministers plus the UN elite and other authorities too (along with some scientists), already moved the goalposts, and indeed repeatedly reinforce that the catastrophic is backed by mainstream science. This impressive and coordinated array of authorities are not generally referred to as ‘deniers’, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that very many folks believe their attribution. Hence such folks are confronted by a complete clash between the unequivocal authority expression that the catastrophic is indeed backed by science18, and affront from individual scientists or their supporters as expressed on side channels when they’re specifically associated with the catastrophic. This affront is very understandable18a. Yet so is the response of those who feel that somewhere within this clash they’ve been hoodwinked, and assume the enterprise of climate science must be the culprit (in fact, an emergent phenomenon is ultimate cause). It’s especially confusing that some actors have a foot in both camps (e.g. significant IPCC contributors who publicly express catastrophe narrative19).

Starting even before AR5 some scientists projecting more severe climate change consequences, including a subset clearly claiming catastrophic outcomes20, complain that mainstream science per the IPCC is way too conservative, even politically diluted. Whether their science is bunkum or has a basis in reality, they likely have significant support. Albeit that the important distinction between ‘severe’ and ‘catastrophic’ isn’t provided, 41% of 998 AGU+AMS members asked about ‘the likely effects of global climate change in the next 50 to 100 years’, replied ‘severe/catastrophic’ (2012, pay-walled, but some details at Wiki). In a more recent expression (Mar 2018) some climate scientists objected to oil companies presenting AR5 as evidence showing lack of serious harms, claiming it was outdated (published 2013/14), and later science predicts much worse consequences. Some scientists emphasizing much higher impacts are socially touted as having better understanding than the majority driving the ‘conservative’ consensus.

However, notwithstanding plenty of catastrophe narrative ballyhoo30 from usual voices regarding the new SR15, as the content itself indicates31 there seems little chance that the steady and incremental evolution of the IPCC reports will change to a dramatically different position for the full AR6, or indeed afterward. And ironically, if various outlier theories regarding the catastrophic did gain enough ground to cause a paradigm shift, becoming mainstream, most of the inappropriate usage of ‘CAGW’ would transform to legitimacy overnight. It’s likely that social pressure to converge upon (cultural, not scientific) narratives of the catastrophic, has contributed to such theories; emotive memes are a major component via which many large-scale social consensuses are formed, e.g. within religions. Such consensuses don’t relate to truth. Note: scientific probing of worst case scenarios is potentially useful, as long as such efforts don’t morph into emotive narratives that help panic the public and policy makers towards perceived ultra-urgency and radical solutions, or indeed towards any agenda. With its speculative nature preserved, such exploration doesn’t earn a ‘CAGW theory’ label. Yet wielding it as authority with sexed-up likelihoods and / or emotively overwhelmed conditionals in order to pressure and persuade (e.g. footnote example 7aa), certainly earns the label ‘CAGW narrative’.

The social phenomena and adherence aspects

Just as with the science section above, there is appropriate and inappropriate deployment of ‘CAGW’ to describe social phenomena in the climate domain. So for instance it’s appropriate to talk about a social consensus in catastrophe among certain groups, but not a scientific consensus within the IPCC, say. It’s appropriate to describe ardent members of a green NGO who are heavily involved in promoting climate catastrophe narratives, as ‘CAGW advocates’ say, yet certainly not to apply this term to ‘all Democrats’, for instance, even if statistically there is somewhat more catastrophe narrative promotion by members of that party. Such labelling even when appropriate, does not imply any wrong-doing or dysfunction on the part of those so labelled, although some level of ‘faith’ (to use another partner term that crops up) in the narrative that many world leaders have lavished on the public for many years, is both likely and eminently understandable. Partner terms like ‘hoax’ and ‘scam’ are generally inappropriate too, because they cannot be main causation for the CAGW phenomenon32.

It comes down to who is adding the catastrophic, or ‘C’, to the mix. Michael Barnard at Quora notes in his discussion of ‘CAGW’: ‘Emotive adjectives are intended to create an emotional response rather than an intellectual response. Catastrophic is an emotive adjective.’ Yes. For sure, over-emotive content tends to cloud judgment; in memetic terms more-emotive memes have a greater selection value than less-emotive ones in domains of high (or even perceived high) uncertainty, thus preferentially prospering. Which is exactly why the narrative of catastrophe abounds within authority statements about climate change, per footnotes 1 to 5, plus is so pervasive within the public domain generally. (However, an ‘intent’ can’t be assumed; regarding emergent narratives the great majority of people are propagating what they genuinely and passionately think is truth). The Quroa text continues: ‘Adding catastrophic to the neutral phrase “anthropogenic global warming” is making it needlessly emotive.’ So, if indeed the person deploying ‘CAGW’ is needlessly adding the ‘C’, then yes. But… if that ‘C’ merely reflects the catastrophic that already existed regarding the social phenomenon or group or followers being described (e.g. Greenpeace politically pressuring with a campaign based upon certain catastrophic climate change), or indeed per section 2 catastrophic narrative or section 3 *specific* science / scientists aligned to catastrophe, then the ‘C’ is a correct and proper description. Emotive persuasion was injected by that being described, not by the mere act of (correctly) describing it.

Michael’s valid points about emotive descriptors and neutrality miss the big picture. While emphasizing as I do that ‘CAGW’ misrepresents mainstream / AR5WGC climate science, he makes no mention that according to an array of the highest authority sources, so largely within the public understanding too, the catastrophic is backed by mainstream climate / AGW science. Not to mention missing that describing pre-existing highly emotive phenomena, requires a meaningful reference to the emotive content.

Summary and Discussion

According to majority / mainstream science and indeed minority skepticism too, the CAGW narrative is a major misrepresentation22. Yet according to a minority of scientists at the opposite fringe to skeptics, this narrative reflects a more realistic position. Whether future history proves notions of CAGW to be right or wrong, acronym usage like the last 2 instances is entirely meaningful; notions of the catastrophic (absent major emissions cuts) and a copious narrative about them, patently exist. Such narrative is widespread in the public domain, being emphatically promoted by highly influential Western authority (until the current US admin exception) plus a raft of other authorities too23, who frequently cite imminent catastrophe as the principal reason for action on emissions. Nor has it spread via demonstrable scientific confirmation (albeit such confirmation may conceivably occur one day), but merely via emotive persuasiveness.

Nevertheless A-list presidents, prime ministers and the UN elite (the latter contradicting their own IPCC) claim that CAGW is validated by mainstream science. It’s difficult to see how this false backing could ever be questioned in the public mind, unless the mainstream science community pushes back far more strongly against such assertions. Meanwhile the fringe camp, i.e. those scientists (general and climate disciplines) comfortable with catastrophic projections, are much less shy about pushing authority with their concerns.

Despite oft-used inflationary descriptors or terminal metaphors5g,7h, sometimes references to extreme weather, or even straight propositions like the ‘save the planet’ or absent action a collapse of civilization, catastrophe narrative as it appears in footnotes 1 to 5 has no consistent definition of what ‘catastrophe’ actually means, or indeed quite how this state is arrived at. From the PoV of narrative success this is a fantastic attribute, allowing the latitude for each person to interpret the worst in their own terms (hence over numerous propagations, a generic apocalypse canon eventually emerges). Perhaps such vagueness might be expected from non-scientists, yet the public propagation from exampled scientists6,7 is no less emotively descriptive and no more consistent regarding actual meaning. Arguably, it is more lurid and emotively penetrating, and less objective.

This fluidity allows the CAGW narrative to hi-jack any view that is not actively skeptical via highly emotive persuasion, also seize the perceived moral high ground, while simultaneously bypassing objective considerations about the real meaning, and by omission avoid culpability regarding any unsupported (by the mainstream) mechanisms of, and uncertainties regarding, global catastrophe, which are not actually detailed. (When quotes are from scientists some detail may appear in associated papers, typically falling short of the framing of high certainty of global catastrophe, yet the public and likely authority too, only sees the public quotes anyhow). In short, it has very high selective value. Its emotive potency even sets the bounds of what skepticism is perceived to be within the public domain, and thus enables authority sources to claim mainstream territory even though mainstream science doesn’t support the catastrophic via any reasonable interpretation of this collective narrative.

Along with appropriate usage, there is much inappropriate usage from engaged skeptics deploying the term ‘CAGW’. In complete contrast to the situation with A-listers and influencers above, whose linkage of the catastrophic with mainstream science isn’t challenged, indeed is often praised, similar associations from skeptics typically attract vociferous objection. Misuse increases polarization and impedes greater understanding; this blunder28 from skeptics shouldn’t be overlooked. However, it seems unlikely that the great majority of the public are even aware of the ‘CAGW’ acronym26, so the impact upon them of any misuse via this term must perforce be very modest indeed. Yet whether leaning skeptical or orthodox or indifferent regarding climate change, few of the public will be unaware of the narrative of certain (absent action) man-made catastrophe that perfectly reasonably earns the acronym ‘CAGW’.

The misdirection and bias plus instinctive kick-back invoked by such highly emotive misinformation, as propagated for years by the exampled A-listers / authorities / orgs, utterly dwarfs any above impact. This acronym may indeed be an invention of skeptics24, yet not the untamed narrative that it describes. The latter doesn’t injure only mainstream science, but all science, including even that work which may point towards more severe consequences, because its long and high profile in the public domain isn’t any result of science, and the emotive biases it amplifies leak back into science21.

So ‘CAGW’ can be used as a ‘snarl word’, and is, albeit misunderstanding is likely the main cause. It is also a perfectly reasonable and meaningful term for a long-lived narrative elephant (with consequent effects) in the public domain and from top authority sources, plus a presence in some science too, and an ethic behind some social responses. Thus, when describing these phenomena, CAGW is not at all the straw-man that some of the orthodox claim. When the naming of a valid concept is avoided, discussing that concept becomes difficult, with awkward / obscure phrases and dancing around the issue. Or still more comedic, like whispering about he-who-must-not-be-named in Harry Potter. Hence despite some acquired cultural aggressiveness, which often sticks to terms within conflicted domains, the appropriate use of ‘CAGW’ is meaningful and necessary. Without it, the domain would simply need a virtually identical replacement term27 to express the valid concept it accurately covers.

Andy West.

www.wearenarrative.wordpress.com

Link to footnotes [Footnotes]

282 responses to “CAGW: a ‘snarl’ word?

  1. And there was me thinking “global warming denialist” was a snarl world for people who don’t believe in CAGW. I would not take too much notice of Rational Wiki, they seem to have been hijacked by radical leftists.

    • Gareth, indeed I’m taking RationalWiki as read to show this wrong in its own terms. However, in the very same terms ‘denialist’ in this domain is for sure a serious snarl word, as noted in the post and backed by footnote 11.

      • Re: “Gareth, indeed I’m taking RationalWiki as read to show this wrong in its own terms. However, in the very same terms ‘denialist’ in this domain is for sure a serious snarl word, as noted in the post and backed by footnote 11.”

        Nope. To make that sort of claim, you’d need not to know what “denialism”, “denialist”, “denier”, etc. mean. You’d also have to be ignorant of what doctors, medical scientists, etc. mean by “AIDS denialists”. Or what evolutionary biologists mean by “evolution denialists”. Or what immunologists, doctors, etc. means by “vaccine denialist”. Or…

        Unlike “CAGW”, “denialist” is a term regularly used in the peer-reviewed literature. It has been clearly and repeatedly defined in mainstream sources. Denialist tactics have been clearly explained. And so on.

        This is just another example of you throwing about words, without knowing what they mean. Before you complain about how scientists and other professionals use terms (based on what you read on RationalWiki), I suggest you read some sources on what “denialism” is with respect to science. The following may be helpful to you:

        “A person who refuses to admit the truth of a concept or proposition that is supported by the majority of scientific or historical evidence.”
        https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/denialist

        “How the growth of denialism undermines public health”
        “Denialism: what is it and how should scientists respond?”
        “‘Nothing can be done until everything is done’: the use of complexity arguments by food, beverage, alcohol and gambling industries”
        “AIDS denialism and public health practice”

        Alexey Karetnikov’s “Commentary: Questioning the HIV-AIDS Hypothesis: 30 Years of Dissent”
        “HIV denial in the Internet era”
        “Errors in Celia Farber’s March 2006 article in Harper’s Magazine”
        “Still crazy after all these years: The challenge of AIDS denialism for science”
        “Commentary to: How to respond to vocal vaccine deniers in public”
        “Science denialism: Evolution and climate change”
        “The ethics of belief, cognition, and climate change pseudoskepticism: Implications for public discourse”
        “Science denial: a guide for scientists”
        “Countering evidence denial and the promotion of pseudoscience in autism spectrum disorder”
        “Science and the public: Debate, denial, and skepticism”
        “Manufactured scientific controversy: Science, rhetoric, and public debate”
        “Global warming: How skepticism became denial”
        “Dealing with climate science denialism: experiences from confrontations with other forms of pseudoscience”
        “Internet blogs, polar bears, and climate-change denial by proxy”
        “Science denial as a form of pseudoscience”
        “Science denial and the science classroom”
        “Debating global warming in media discussion forums: Strategies enacted by “persistent deniers” and implications for schooling”
        “Sceptics and deniers of climate change not to be confused”

      • Atomsk’s Sanakan:

        “To make that sort of claim, you’d need not to know what “denialism”, “denialist”, “denier”, etc. mean.”

        I do. And the literature backing the testing for, and understanding of, ‘denialism’ is deeply flawed. See:
        https://judithcurry.com/2016/04/21/the-denialism-frame/

        However, the comment is clear anyhow, as you quote: “in it’s own terms”.

      • Atomsk’s Sanakan: This is just another example of you throwing about words, without knowing what they mean.

        Andy West provided lots of examples of CAGW, hence a fairly clear and comprehensive demonstration of its meaning, an ostensive definition.

        You provide a “dictionary definition” of denier: “A person who refuses to admit the truth of a concept or proposition that is supported by the majority of scientific or historical evidence.”

        Without lots of examples, that is no more useful than a dictionary definition of N-rays or chaos.

        You listed a few usages in publications of climate change denier: “Debating global warming in media discussion forums: Strategies enacted by “persistent deniers” and implications for schooling”
        “Sceptics and deniers of climate change not to be confused”

        Are there any examples of “climate change denier”, or is it a concept without any exemplars, or with few exemplars? I have not read any accounts denying warming or climate change, only particular qualifications (e.g. “[a high school student graduating in 2016 has not experienced global warming]”, which I think was written independently by Mark Steyn and George Will; “the temperature record is perverted by the moving and siting of thermometers”; “Recent Arctic loss is within the range of natural variation”; “Not all of the temperature rise since 1880 is demonstrably due to CO2 without making other untested assumptions”.) It is hardly “climate change denial” to assert that James Hansen [insert alternative names like Al Gore] has made claims that go beyond what is supportable by scientific research.

        I don’t see how “climate denier” is better defined than “CAGW” just because they are defined by different people. On the whole it looks to me like CAGW is better defined. The fact that “climate denier” is used by scientists and scientific publications does not imply that it is well-defined.

      • Re: “I do. And the literature backing the testing for, and understanding of, ‘denialism’ is deeply flawed. See:”

        No, it isn’t, as shown by it being successfully used to identify denialism on a wide range of topics, including AIDS denialism. And no, your non-peer-reviewed blogpost does not show otherwise. If you can’t differentiate AIDS denialists from the evidence-based scientific consensus on HIV/AIDS, then that’s your problem, not a flaw of the term “denialism”.

      • Re: “Andy West provided lots of examples of CAGW”

        And it’s been repeatedly explained to you why “CAGW” is a straw man.

        Re: “Without lots of examples, that is no more useful than a dictionary definition of N-rays or chaos.”

        First, there’s an example given at the very dictionary link you were given. Second, it’s absurd for you to claim that a dictionary definition is not useful without lots of examples. The term’s meaning is clear from the definition. If you don’t understand that definition, then that’s more your issue, then a problem with the dictionary. Third, the rest of my comment gave examples (ex: AIDS denialism). You just conveniently side-stepped those to act as if they weren’t there, as per your usual practice of quote-mining.

        If your only hope at this point is to constantly move the goal-posts to the point of claiming that grade-school dictionary definitions are not clear enough for you, then that says a lot about your position.

        Re: “I have not read any accounts denying warming or climate change”

        Oh, give me a break.

        You are acting as if you can just read the meaning of the term “climate change denier” from word structure. That’s as ridiculous as thinking that “Republicans” and “Democrats” must be arguing over a republic vs. a democracy as a form of government. You cannot always read meaning from word structure.

      • Atomsk’s Sanakan:

        No. There is frequently, even mostly, culture and rhetoric upon both sides, yet their method has no theoretical underpinning and essentially relies on a trivial rhetoric analysis. As noted towards the end, even the authors later complained that the concept was being used by the ‘wrong’ side. Not surprising; it is so weak it allows anyone to call out any group as denialists. If you think that the critique is wrong, show your logic chain and specific points, with properly contexted quotes, as to exactly where and why.

      • Atomsk’s Sanakan.

        “And it’s been repeatedly explained to you why “CAGW” is a straw man”

        So now we have this post, which explains that, used *appropriately*, the acronym is not a straw man, but a valid label. Assuming you’ve fully read the post, and in the context of that appropriate usage (so *not* used to label mainstream / IPCC science), if you think that the post is wrong, please show your logic chain and specific arguments as to why, with appropriate in context quotes. Thanks.

      • Atomsk’s Sanakan: And it’s been repeatedly explained to you why “CAGW” is a straw man.

        No. You have repeatedly asserted without reasoning (though quoting other unreasoned assertions) that CAGW is a straw man. Andy West’s two essays document richly that CAGW is not a straw man.

      • Atomsk’s Sanakan: You are acting as if you can just read the meaning of the term “climate change denier” from word structure.

        That is absurd.

        You assert without examples (especially noteworthy in contrast to Andy West’s large collection of published examples), there there are prominent people who deny climate change, and climate change denier is well-defined? Possibly as something other than “denying climate change”.

      • Re: “No. There is frequently, even mostly, culture and rhetoric upon both sides, yet their method has no theoretical underpinning and essentially relies on a trivial rhetoric analysis. As noted towards the end, even the authors later complained that the concept was being used by the ‘wrong’ side. Not surprising; it is so weak it allows anyone to call out any group as denialists. If you think that the critique is wrong, show your logic chain and specific points, with properly contexted quotes, as to exactly where and why.”

        You’ve messed up in your interpretation of the paper, and the core of your argument is epistemic relativism/subjectivism about science (a tedious, common trope among some people who do sociology of science). I’ve read the paper, and the other relevant paper on this that was also published in BMJ:

        “How the growth of denialism undermines public health”
        “Denialism: what is it and how should scientists respond?”

        I’ll discuss them together, since they largely go together, have the same authors, and discuss similar issues.

        The paper lists characteristics of denialism. But the characteristics are more tactics that denialists use because of the predicament denialists are in. And what is that predicament? Getting around the weight of evidence against their position:

        “A person who refuses to admit the truth of a concept or proposition that is supported by the majority of scientific or historical evidence.”
        https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/denialist

        “How the growth of denialism undermines public health
        […]
        It is, however, important not to confuse denialism with genuine scepticism, which is essential for scientific progress. Sceptics are willing to change their minds when confronted with new evidence; deniers are not.”

        So we can define denialists in relation to the evidence. And we can use denialist tactics as an (imperfect) proxy for denialism. Your objection to that boils down to claiming this isn’t objective:

        https://judithcurry.com/2016/04/21/the-denialism-frame/

        Sorry, but I’m a scientific realist/objectivist, so I’m not falling for that. The fact that some people disagree on a topic does not change the fact that there are right and wrong answers on that topic, and that there can be clear methods of reasoning to see who is right and wrong.

        For instance, many people still don’t accept the scientific evidence on evolution. This disagreement is politically and religiously skewed (at least in the US), with political conservatives and very religious people being more likely to not accept the evidence on evolution. But this does stop us from knowing what the scientific evidence shows, and whose positions contradict the evidence.

        In science there are standard ways of inferring causation (ex: Bradford Hill criteria, Koch’s postulates), reasoning about evidence (ex: inference to the best explanation, using predictive power, explanatory power, predictive scope), etc. We use these methods to guide us in scientific reasoning, and they work from topic to topic. They enable us, as a group, to overcome our biases and evaluate evidence in ways that might lead to conclusions we dislike, that make us feel uncomfortable, etc.

        So when I encounter a scientific topics where there is ideologically-skewing of views (ex: creationism/evolution, HPV vaccination, anthropogenic climate change, the health risks of smoking and second-hand smoking, etc.), there are methods I can use to see what the evidence shows. And I know those methods likely aren’t skewed by ideological bias, since I also use them in topics in which ideological bias would not apply. I can vet them in those topics, and through philosophical/logical analysis. Heck, I can use the general form of the Bradford Hill criteria to argue that smoking causes cancer, HIV causes AIDS, vaccines cause autism, and increased CO2 caused most of the recent global warming. The following paper did something similar, by showing how one can recognize the silliness of denialists’ reasoning by applying it to other topics:

        “A blind expert test of contrarian claims about climate data”

        Thus the presence of disagreement in the non-expert public, ideological bias, etc. does not prevent us from clearly knowing what the evidence shows, and thus knowing who the denialists are. If you want to claim otherwise, then enjoy the epistemic relativism/subjectivism on science. Your sociology of science isn’t going to change the soundness of scientific reasoning and evidence. I’m familiar with how folks like Bruno Latour play that game.

        Re: “That is absurd. You assert without examples (especially noteworthy in contrast to Andy West’s large collection of published examples), there there are prominent people who deny climate change, and climate change denier is well-defined? Possibly as something other than “denying climate change”.”

        You haven’t shown that it’s absurd. And you really did act as if you could simply read semantics from word structure. Hence you acting as if “climate change denier” means someone who denies that climate changes:

        “Are there any examples of “climate change denier”, or is it a concept without any exemplars, or with few exemplars? I have not read any accounts denying warming or climate change”
        https://judithcurry.com/2018/11/26/cagw-a-snarl-word/#comment-884999

        That’s on par with claiming that “Republicans” and “Democrats” must be arguing about a republic vs. a democracy as a form of government. It’s as implausible as claiming that there are no “HIV/AIDS denialists”, since no one denies that AIDS or HIV exists. Sorry, but you often cannot read a term’s meaning off of word structure. So I suggest you stop doing that.

      • Atomsk’s Sanakan,

        “The paper lists characteristics of denialism.”

        No. The paper lists some very basic defensive biases and some simple rhetoric devices (of which there are many more and some known since antiquity) and also asserts that one can arbitrarily assess the (in)validity of sources, and claims that ticks in these boxes are essentially the essence of ‘denialism’. But the biases / rhetoric frequently occur on both sides in socially conflicted science topics, because these are endemic to culture and there is typically cultural support on both sides. And in complex competing networks sources are ultimately just proxies within the conflict and therefore subject to all the same biases / culture. So none of this can possibly tell us who is on the side that future history will declare the winner within a conflicted domain. And these are all surface effects too; they don’t know the underlying characteristics of ‘denialism’ that might be reliably testable, because they have made literally no attempt whatsoever to investigate what it actually is. So for instance the basic biases indeed look like ‘tactics’ if all is being executed consciously, an implicit assumption of D&M and a much more explicit assumption of Hoofnagle (aka ‘lying’, which D&M very wisely dropped) after which the paper is based, but they have in no way established this (and as it happens most cultural bias is subconscious).

        It’s also the case that the authors fail to point out that in looking for fulfilment of each item on the list, one should first establish that a perceived group actually is a group by some recognised criteria. Otherwise each item can be assigned to individuals who aren’t actually within a coherent group, but whom the tester simply decides arbitrarily to frame as one. So even if the list was actually measuring something more useful, this would result in a situation where practically any random set of people would satisfy the test conditions. And indeed within a large enough conflict always some individuals (representing any spectrum viewpoint) will be biased and also using at least some of the rhetoric devices, plus other devices not listed.

        “Your objection to that boils down to claiming this isn’t objective:”

        Well also per above that rhetoric / simple bias frequently occur on what future history will call the ‘right’ side too, either for the wrong reasons by those with lesser domain knowledge or because it has attracted heavy cultural support of its own, which attacks in its normal way and not via reference to evidence / reasoned argument, plus also via some unrepresentative individuals who just do this, but may still form enough to trigger the D&M test. The cultural support thing is explained in more detail in the post. And also that D&M haven’t even investigated the underlying causes of the effects they claim are reliably testable. However, these completely fundamental things aside, indeed objectivity is critical to any social test of this type. Otherwise, it no real value.

        “…there can be clear methods of reasoning to see who is right and wrong.”

        Regarding a *social* test for same, which is what the D&M test attempts to be (but fails), then if you think so, state them. I show that the test used by the paper is not only flawed, it has no underpinning theory at all. On science issues that are replicable, no social test for right or wrong is needed because the truth is manifest. On science issues that are not mature and especially with high social impact and socially conflicted, not only will these not be replicable yet but they will also feature defensive networks on both sides, which can impede maturation (especially where long timescale results also needed), and create culturally orientated ‘versions’ of the science, so to speak, which each feed their own side, making it impossible to formally prove (via science not social testing) who is right or even if there is a right yet. The sides can also became aligned to older cultural boundaries (say rep / cons versus dem / libs in the US), which tends to make the science a battleground and further undermines progress, plus promotes high profile public messaging (again typically on both sides), which has nothing to do with what science might hopefully still get done beneath the cultural radar, yet leaks back to bias same in strong cases. In such situations, if there was a magic wand that could tell us who was right or wrong, we wouldn’t need the scientific method, we’d just wave the social test wand. In practice while we can’t do that, and indeed there is no possible social test that can tell us who is right; there are some social tests that can in some cases tell us who is wrong (yet which gives us no information at all about what the right answer is), but for sure not this test.

        “… evolution. But this does stop us from knowing what the scientific evidence shows, and whose positions contradict the evidence.”

        Absolutely. This is because the domain is very mature, and it’s principles are highly replicable. No social test for wrong and right needed. Cultural inertia (which can sometimes be huge and last many generations), means that regarding creationism (in the US at least), there is still an enormous following despite the replicable status on evolution. This makes it a fantastic prototyping ground for social tests that can be used on areas where this is not the case; i.e. if a method can *objectively* (i.e. we literally have to pretend we don’t know the answer when running the test) tell us who is wrong in the creationism domain, it perhaps has value in domains that are far more nascent / murky.

        “In science there are standard ways of inferring causation…”

        Indeed. I have a science background and am a huge supporter of science, you’ve no need to sell me on it. I even think that science can explain all the cultural effects noted above, one day. However, you are not now talking social testing, but in-domain science testing. And unfortunately the enterprise of science and its methods are highly fragile to cultural invasion and have been tripped over many times, simply because we are human (and so innately cultural). And the times it is most fragile are the conditions per above. Of course betting on what amounts to the mainstream consensus every time (I guess only rarely it’s not clear which is mainstream), would mean you’re right most of the time, but you are not guaranteed to be right because this is not objective, and the mainstream does get overturned now and again. D&M after Hoofnagle have to use this as a backstop essentially, because their method is so poor it can’t really determine anything, so this is a means of weighting the odds, a sticking plaster essentially. But their test actually contributes nothing; even the authors claim denialism (in their sense) is being used by the ‘wrong side’ in a domain. Not a surprise. It’s worth reading footnote 11b from my Denialism Frame post, in which D&M are absolutely slated in the bluntest terms by folks from their home ETS domain for their offering of this non-test and the damage it would do. What struck me most is that some of the folks doing this were on the *same* side as D&M regarding ETS, not on the opposite side. D&M have also been accused of some of what their own paper says are denialist biases / rhetoric; does this mean we shouldn’t believe them on ETS? Well no, because their paper doesn’t actually have any ability to test whether they’re right or wrong anyhow, so we can’t use it on them or their biases just like we can’t use it on anyone else.

        “And I know those methods likely aren’t skewed by ideological bias…”

        ‘Likely’ is only betting the odds, related to the maturity of the domain. Unless the science is long mature and eminently replicable, no method is free from ideological bias, nor indeed is there often enough insight into whether the methods have been objectively applied, because all reporting of same is also subject to ideological bias. As Lewandowsky correctly notes within the executive summary of ‘Seepage’ (2015): “Nonetheless, being human, scientists’ operate with the same cognitive apparatus and limitations as every other person”.

        “I can use the general form of the Bradford Hill criteria to argue that…”

        No-one can, *always*. It will work for you where there is mature and replicable science (aids being a good case). Where there is not matured and not replicable (e.g. disputed statistics on both sides), and socially conflicted science (and scientists), it may not. You can’t be sure, because all methods that rely upon ‘in-domain’ sources / data are subject to the conflict therein, and therefore subject also to its competing biases. This is why social tests, which if done properly (not like D&M) are out-of-domain (don’t rely on the conflicted data / sources) are useful, but they can only tell us (sometimes) who is wrong, and not what is right. Essentially your method comes down to relying on the main consensus, because such a consensus will dominate the literature and data and methods that you are likely to encounter in your search for truth, and will likely suppress / overwhelm alternatives. Any methods based on in-domain sources cannot work if there’s crucial evidence you haven’t even seen, or you discount without looking because consensus authority declared it nonsense. Of course your method will mostly be right, but it is not guaranteed to be right. However, if you believe you have your own guaranteed test for right and wrong under the noted conditions, fantastic! But if you think it could even maybe possibly go wrong one day, it is useless, you’re just betting the odds. There is not usually a massive hint glued to the wrong side as with creationism (old religion = wrong, so science = right). Ruling out the mature replicable domains and notwithstanding some domains are pretty lop-sided, cumulatively you’re essentially saying you can do better than thousands of disputing scientists, and within their home domains too. Whatever your qualifications, if it was as easy as that why in the 21st century are there so many disputed areas? And even for ordinary group think rather than cultural conflict writ larger in some of these domains, would for instance your method have detected say the incorrect 50 year consensus on the saturated fats issue before this broke?

        Anyhow, your own potential infallibility on conflicted issues is off the path of D&Ms flawed paper on what denialism is and how to test for it, which approach is not at all useful because it hasn’t actually assessed what the phenomenon is or where it arises from, and hence derived tests that would be appropriate to such. You barely mention the paper methods or critique thereof anyhow, except to state essentially that it lists the characteristics of ‘denialism’, which is really just saying ‘the paper is correct’ in itself from the start. And to say that we must separate genuine scepticism from denialism *without* reference to the conflicted domain data / sources, in order to remain objective, says nothing about how these are socially expressed (e.g. there’s more than one kind of scepticism) and entangled (yes they’re entangled), such that tests can then be built atop this understanding.

        “Your sociology of science isn’t going to change the soundness of scientific reasoning and evidence.”

        Absolutely not; done properly it will considerably aid the triumph of sound scientific reasoning and evidence, by helping to free it from the constant undermining by cultural biases. Why would we not want to do that? I’ve not read Latour and know very little but some ridiculous (imo) notion from long ago of all science being merely a social construct (or some-such). My argument is not based on this or any kind of relativism, indeed could hardly be further from such. But rejecting this notion does not mean rejecting the obvious issue that science and culture are indeed frequently entangled, which is widely acknowledged (and from many cultural shadings, hence reasonable to rely on). We need to understand that entanglement before we can properly unravel it (via whatever means, including what D&M were attempting to do with social testing but absolutely failed to achieve). These entanglements exist because of Lewandowsky’s observation above, yet that doesn’t mean they can’t be challenged / minimised if we (scientifically!) understand them first. If such entanglements didn’t exist, there would essentially be no social conflicts related to science, and no consensuses established via the scientific community would never have been wrong, at least since the beginning of modern formal science as an enterprise (maybe ~3 centuries), and we would expect no more ever to be wrong going forward.

      • This is getting long and tedious. So I’ll address some of what you said, but I’ll start with one of the (if not the most) central issues here:

        On what grounds do you claim that the science of CO2-induced, anthropogenic climate change is immature, while the science on HIV causing AIDS, humans evolving from non-human animals, smoking causing cancer, etc. is mature?

        If you’re not claiming that science is immature, then by your own logic, your points here are inapplicable to it.

        If you mention “replicability” here again, then I address that farther down below. And I would remind you that there’s a reason I said the science of CO2-induced climate passes Bradford Hill considerations (“reproducibility” or “consistency” is one of the Bradford Hill considerations).

        Re: ““The paper lists characteristics of denialism.”
        No”

        Yes.

        “Denialism: what is it and how should scientists respond?
        […]
        Denialism is a process that employs some or all of five characteristic elements in a concerted way.”

        “How the growth of denialism undermines public health
        […]
        Characteristics of denialism”

        And congratulations on leaving out the rest of what I said:

        “The paper lists characteristics of denialism. But the characteristics are more tactics that denialists use because of the predicament denialists are in.”

        I then explained to you that the “predicament” is getting around the large amount of evidence against their position, as per the definition of what “denialism” is.

        Re: “But the biases / rhetoric frequently occur on both sides in socially conflicted science topics, because these are endemic to culture and there is typically cultural support on both sides”

        Telling me their cultural origin doesn’t change the fact that they are tactics denialists use to avoid scientific evidence and evidence-based scientific consensus. And no, they don’t appear equally on both sides. For example, I don’t see AGW scientists claiming that the bulk of mainstream climate scientists are involved in a conspiracy. They don’t need to, because there’s not a large amount of evidence they need to dodge. The fact that some non-denialists resort to these tactics is not pertinent, since these “characteristics of denialism” were not claimed to solely apply to denialists, just as some symptoms of a condition don’t only appear in people with that condition.

        Re: “And these are all surface effects too; they don’t know the underlying characteristics of ‘denialism’ that might be reliably testable, because they have made literally no attempt whatsoever to investigate what it actually is”

        You were already given the definition of “denialism” they were using, and shown a similar definition from the dictionary.

        Re: “On science issues that are replicable, no social test for right or wrong is needed because the truth is manifest. On science issues that are not mature and especially with high social impact and socially conflicted, not only will these not be replicable yet but they will also feature defensive networks on both sides, which can impede maturation”

        You’re simply resorting another sociological analysis of science, to get around the actual methods used in scientific reasoning. We already have replicability+reproducibility in climate science. For example, fingerprints of AGW (such as stratospheric cooling, mesospheric cooling, etc.) have been replicated by different research groups. If instead by “replicable”, you mean that we need to reproduce an entire event, than that’s ridiculous. I don’t need to reproduce all of human evolution, in order to know that humans evolved from non-human animals.

        There are set methods for reasoning in science (ex: Bradford Hill considerations for causal inference) that don’t require reproducing an entire event from the past multiple times. These methods help us see that the field is mature. For instance, climate science on CO2-induced climate change has a long history of making accurate predictions (longer than, for example, the history of HIV/AIDS science in making accurate predictions). You simply avoid this point via epistemic relativism/subjectivism (and appeals to infallibilism), which I discuss further below.

        Also, “high social impact and socially conflicted” is irrelevant to the evaluation of the scientific evidence and to the soundness of the scientific reasoning. To say otherwise is a fallacious appeal to consequences. Scientific reasoning is works and scientific evidence is what it is, regardless of whether it leads to conclusions/consequences some social groups find inconvenient.

        Re: “‘Likely’ is only betting the odds, related to the maturity of the domain. Unless the science is long mature and eminently replicable, no method is free from ideological bias, nor indeed is there often enough insight into whether the methods have been objectively applied, because all reporting of same is also subject to ideological bias”

        And the epistemic relativism/subject strikes again, by making the enemy the perfect of the good. Perfect humans who never have bias is not required for reliability. For example, I know medical doctors are not perfect. But they, as a community, are still more reliable on medicine than the average person, and still worth relying on. Similarly, please don’t act as if perfect freedom from bias is required for reliability on science.

        Re: “Anyhow, your own potential infallibility”

        And you did it again.

        [sarcasm]
        I might as well not think Earth is round then, because I’m not omniscient and infallible. Also, the evidence for it being round comes from so many “in-domain” experts. How can I ever cite it? The flat Earthers tell me it’s all biased, and since they object, I’m not allowed to cite that evidence. I wouldn’t be “objective” if I cited evidence they dispute.
        [/sarcasm]

        The fact that some socially-motivated non-experts contest something, is irrelevant to whether I can soundly evaluate it. The fact that evidence-based reasoning is provided by in-domain experts, does nothing to change the soundness of the evidence.

        Re: “Whatever your qualifications, if it was as easy as that why in the 21st century are there so many disputed areas? “

        Yes, why is it that some non-experts didn’t accept that smoking causes cancer, that HIV causes AIDS, that humans evolved from non-human animals, anthropogenic increases in CO2 caused most of the recent global warming, etc.?

        [Hint: It’s not about the science being flawed. It’s largely ideology, and referencing it does nothing to epistemically undermine justified acceptance of the science in those topics.]

      • Some points I forgot to address:

        Re: “Ruling out the mature replicable domains and notwithstanding some domains are pretty lop-sided, cumulatively you’re essentially saying you can do better than thousands of disputing scientists, and within their home domains too. Whatever your qualifications, if it was as easy as that why in the 21st century are there so many disputed areas?”

        First, you’ve failed to show the relevant science here is not mature. Second, I don’t need to do better than them, since there’s already an evidence-based scientific consensus on this topic, as there is on smoking causing cancer, HIV causing AIDS, humans evolving from non-human animals, and the science on other fields you claimed were “mature”. See, for instance:

        https://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/
        Table 1: “Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming”
        “Does it matter if the consensus on anthropogenic global warming is 97% or 99.99%?”
        “The consensus on anthropogenic global warming matters”

        Page 49 of: “Models, manifestation and attribution of climate change”

        Figures 88 (v043) and 2 (v007) of: “The Bray and von Storch 5th International Survey of Climate Scientists 2015/2016”
        https://www.hzg.de/imperia/md/content/hzg/zentrale_einrichtungen/bibliothek/berichte/hzg_reports_2016/hzg_report_2016_2.pdf

        Re: “And even for ordinary group think rather than cultural conflict writ larger in some of these domains, would for instance your method have detected say the incorrect 50 year consensus on the saturated fats issue before this broke?”

        Your above comment is great example of why I asked you how you evaluate science and how you know science on a topic is mature. You’re basically repeating some false, contrarian claims that are common in a number of politically-conservative circles, including the same sorts of circles that resort to contrarianism on anthropogenic climate change. I’ve addressed this before:

        I even specifically addressed your false claims on the topic:

        “The relationship between saturated fat and heart disease is well-established. For instance:
        […]
        It’s so well established that it’s still recommended that people limit saturated fat intake and eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible:
        […]
        And vegetarian diets that limit saturated fat intake also improve heart-disease-related metrics. See, for instance:
        […]”

        https://judithcurry.com/2018/11/14/the-catastrophe-narrative/#comment-884029
        http://archive.is/Lqp4V

        Yet here you are, repeating the same false claims anyway, without having addressed the evidence cited to you. What does that show about the way you approach science, especially science you consider “contested” by the ideological side you identify with? What does it say about your ability to evaluate the scientific evidence and to understand what domain experts say in the topic?

        So “would for instance your method have detected” (to borrow your language) that you were wrong on the science in this subject? My method would have, since I read the scientific evidence, am aware of the evidence-based scientific consensus on the topic, know better than to accept at face value the non-peer-reviewed claims of bloggers that a scientific consensus has been overturned, can apply methods of scientific reasoning (such as Bradford Hill considerations) to the topic, don’t fall for the sort of denialist tactics D&M discuss (ex: contrarians selectively citing outlier, rebutted papers), etc.

      • If you listen to the McGovern hearings, or read the transcript, it’s obvious there never was a consensus on saturated fats.

        McGovern openly admitted there was no consensus.

        Within a year the McGovern recommendations were sacked and replaced with recommendations authored by the food industry.

      • Atomsk’s Sanakan,

        “On what grounds…”

        Are you confusing me with someone else, I don’t recognise this quote? Or maybe bold didn’t mean a quote. However, let’s say we’ll start by ruling out anything from the sceptical camp. So this means the place to focus is the last full synthesis of the orthodox position, i.e. AR5. So in this there are uncertainties and integration issues all over the place, to the extent that the main output has to be quantified by expert judgement accords rather than proofs. And indeed the central question of sensitivity has not been much better bounded in decades, yet contains tails stretching from the benign to the highly damaging (if indeed one also adds on the possible range of damage functions). So if we were robots from Zog who know nothing about humans (or indeed Earth and its climate), but do know completely about scientific methodology and its application in a range of domains, we would observe that this is not a sign of maturity. We would then note that there are two groups of minority scientists outside of the mainstream position, i.e. they largely disagree with the IPCC / AR5. One such group think them way too conservative regarding likely outcomes / damage, and the other think them too OTT regarding likely outcomes / damage. Now robots from Zog know that a co-ordination of expert judgement, aka a consensus, while it may or may not be correct, is a is a social process not a scientific one, used when science can’t yet clinch a particular result, but which is almost always subject to criticism from those scientists who (potentially in various ways) don’t subscribe to the majority consensus. In this case, at least two notable minority camps. And in probing further (still as robots from Zog), we note that for sure at least a significant number of the scientists in each of these camps do work in directly involved fields and occupy (or occupied) positions considered by humans to be proper and appropriate to scientific work at recognised institutions for same. Such a range of scientifically supported breadth is not typical of a mature area in the context of considering the AR5 output as ‘the’ result (or not). Further, we robots from Zog note a widespread message from whole rafts of human authorities and influencers propagated over many years (per this post and the companion post a couple of weeks before) including a range of the highest authorities that exist on this planet, which message also claims support by mainstream science, yet is actually in straight contradiction with its position (and happens to align closer to one of the minority camps above). This by no means tell us robots that AR5 is wrong. Enormous cultural support for scientifically unsupported concepts is common in some species, including humans. However, we note further that the mainstream scientific community doesn’t push back against this message, and that leadership figures in the oversight / organising body which owns the synthesis process of AR5, also participates in propagation of this unsupported narrative. Robots know that this doesn’t speak well to pressure from above, upon the social process via which the judgement expertise was crystallised in the first place. However, they note also that the camp thinking the mainstream is too conservative are also claiming exactly the same problem of pressure (but in the opposite direction), which we robots don’t know exists or not, but could do. So the conclusion of the robots from Zog is that maybe the mainstream position is right after all, certainly they see vast effort has gone into it, but ultimately they have to reserve judgement because all of this speaks to immaturity, and, maybe the real result is somewhere else on the spectrum of possible outcomes. I think it useful to get as near to the distancing sight of such robots as we can, albeit its not possible to be fully distanced.

        “The paper lists characteristics of denialism. But the characteristics are more tactics that denialists use because of the predicament denialists are in.”

        The rest of what you said was addressed in my response. However, the defensive biases / rhetoric devices listed are features of cultural entanglement, and there is almost always culture on both sides. I.e. these are not features *only* of denialism (as they frame it), and to work backwards by attempting to define denialism by these features, runs into at least two problems. 1) across multiple different conflicted domains (which vary in size and character and entanglements), it would be very hard to make the case that all cultural entanglement on the side that future history will declare the loser, is denialism. But it’s impossible to make the case that cultural entanglement (and therefore related behaviours) on the side that future history will declare the winner, is denialism. 2) you can’t work backwards from simplistic behaviours of this kind to determine cause, while they inform, you have to do more fundamental work to see root cause, and then work forward to see if that’s consistent with behaviours. No test that isn’t based on the underlying reasons for the behaviour, is likely to be reliable, and this one certainly isn’t. And regarding just one aspect of that, as I mentioned regarding ‘tactics’, this is only a valid term if the behaviours are (mostly) consciously executed. D&M are extremely thin regarding underlying motives, as my post notes there is just an arbitrary and completely unsupported list, yet it manages to include elements that have conscious and subconscious behaviours. (Also as noted they wisely ditched the main motivation provided by Hoofnagle, from whom all the rest of their material comes, as this is unsupportable [and very explicitly conscious, aka ‘lying’]). So even in their own terms, the proposed criteria would not always be ‘tactics’.

        “And no, they don’t appear equally on both sides…”

        I didn’t say (always) equally (quantitatively), characteristics will vary with domain and cultural entanglement. But all the test tick boxes will typically occur in a sizeable conflicted domain. The ‘conflict’ is a cultural conflict, and the behaviours are culturally driven.

        “The fact that some non-denialists resort to these tactics is not pertinent, since these “characteristics of denialism” were not claimed to solely apply to denialists”

        Not pertinent?? D&M offered this as a definitive tick list to identify ‘denialism’. They say ‘it is important to recognize denialism when confronted with it’, recommending different responses when such detection is the case (i.e. why they provided the test!) And you’re saying it doesn’t matter that other random ‘non-denialist’ folks exhibit the same behaviours too? Yet this completely invalidates the test. As the list is not a characterisation of only ‘denialism’, the ‘deniers’ within the larger set cannot separated out / identified for the different response to be delivered, or alternatively unlucky folks get an entirely inappropriate response. This fundamental inability to distinguish is explained in much more detail in the post. And given the “characteristics of denialism” are indeed expressed by other folks who aren’t actually ‘denialists’, then what in D&M’s view are these folks? Such confusion is to be expected from their approach, and stems from the fact that they didn’t start by trying to examine the social psychology of what is going on and what the underlying causes are, but just skipped all that hard work to put together a crude list of rhetoric and defensive biases. Result = complete confusion, plus legitimising anyone to call anyone else a denialist. Some folks in their home domain of ETS (on both sides), have come to pretty much the same conclusion years ago.
        “You were already given the definition of “denialism” they were using, and shown a similar definition from the dictionary”

        And the response above is why (along with all the rest of my post) their definition is deeply flawed. Per above it appears that you too don’t really know what it means when we try to apply it to reality. Your dictionary definition merely refers to disagreement with the majority of evidence, and refers neither to behaviour lists or tests for same. But per the backstop of D&M after Hoofnagle, for conflicted cases this is merely a proxy for an appeal to a majority consensus (which will ensure maximum evidence presentation). In non-conflicted cases we presumably don’t need a definition anyway, because no-one is contesting the evidence (and I guess such cases would be overwhelmingly the majority). For the conflicted cases it would be most often right too, but not always. This is in no way whatever an argument for perfection. A *particular* consensus is either right or wrong, and history has shown some can be wrong; this in no way lessens the scientific method either, only sometimes the capability of its executors. But your dictionary definition only matches D&Ms approach if their supposed test for psychological behaviour doesn’t work, as then they indeed have to fall back on the appeal to majority consensus.

        “You’re simply resorting another sociological analysis of science, to get around the actual methods used in scientific reasoning”

        Not at all. To disentangle cultural bias from conflicted science, is to allow its methods and proper reasoning that we both support, to proceed unburdened by the former’s inappropriate influence. You are perfectly happy that D&M provided a sociological concept / test in order to defend science from inappropriate intrusion, mis-representation and resistance. It turned out to be flawed, though it is not really a ‘sociological analysis of science’ that is needed to fix it, but an analysis of how culture can both resist and undermine the enterprise of science (and science communication). This should lead to tools that might actually do the job that D&M (and Hoofnagle) set out to do in the first place, and would therefore help you in the purposes for which you are trying to deploy the currently flawed concept / test of denialism that they created.
        “I don’t need to reproduce all of human evolution, in order to know that humans evolved from non-human animals.”

        Indeed that’s ridiculous, I’ve never known of anyone taking the replicable condition so literally. The principles of evolution are eminently replicable in all sorts of perfectly executable ways. I assume creationists (unless there’s some weird sub-culture) don’t assume evolution happens generally while only the specific expression leading to humans does not. It’s all or nothing (or god-guided evolution for many of the non-creationist religious).
        “You simply avoid this point via epistemic relativism/subjectivism (and appeals to infallibilism)”

        For clarification I’m not in any way appealing to any of these. Not only that but within the bounds of science as opposed to other areas, they’ve always seemed to me to be incompatible with the methods of science (or at least I’ve never come across an argument that can justify them in this context). What I’m doing is pointing out that culture (from writ-small group-think to full on global culture such as a major religion) can and does undermine science (because we are all human and highly tractable to cultural modes), which it has done throughout history. In general, science will eventually correct its way around such within any particular domain, but this could take years or decades or generations or millennia. Meanwhile, the more we know about the entanglements of science and culture, the more we can avoid them.

        “Also, “high social impact and socially conflicted” is irrelevant to the evaluation of the scientific evidence and to the soundness of the scientific reasoning.”

        It would only be irrelevant if we were (perfect) Vulcans, but we are not. I re-iterate Lewandowsky’s point: “Nonetheless, being human, scientists’ operate with the same cognitive apparatus and limitations as every other person”. Part of that apparatus is a powerful tendency (from right down at brain architecture level) to operate in cultural modes, which must always be (and indeed is) fought, and a limitation that we do not always win when the context is as you note in the above quote.
        “Scientific reasoning is works and scientific evidence is what it is, regardless of whether it leads to conclusions/consequences some social groups find inconvenient.”

        It works perfectly well when there is no bias in the reasoning and no bias in what evidence to collect. It works pretty well anyhow even when there is modest bias over a particular domain (especially as a distribution of biases may to some extent cancel). When the biases are subconsciously co-ordinated by culture, it may not work so well, and indeed it may not work hardly at all. This is no fault of the scientific method and for sure the real world being investigated (and therefore available evidence regarding same) is exactly the same. So no appeals to relativism / subjectivism / infallibilism or whatever. Merely an acknowledgement that in some circumstances (which allow culture to invade), the humans doing the job are collectively blinkered / led astray.

        “And the epistemic relativism/subject strikes again, by making the enemy the perfect of the good.”

        Not at all. The ‘likely’ referred to you betting on the odds of a mainstream consensus always being right, not to some fundamental idealism thing, I can’t grasp where you’re getting the relativism / subjectivism / infallibilism stuff from. Nothing to do with any of my arguments and in my view these concepts have no place in science.

        “I might as well not think Earth is round then, because I’m not omniscient and infallible.”

        Okay, infallible too far, bad word choice, maybe this is what mis-cued you. But did you not say you can personally adjudicate all socially conflicted science areas and be confident of the right answer? If I have misunderstood this, can you further explain what you actually did mean?

      • Atomsk’s Sanakan,

        “First, you’ve failed to show the relevant science here is not mature.”

        D&M addresses multiple domains, and agreed no social test is needed on mature domains where there is replicability. But if you mean climate change, see above.

        Re sat fats, it’s still a somewhat a conflicted domain so you can still find a range of positions, but indeed also changing, and for sure a different mix to a few years ago. It does not serve science to say that the changes (while indeed beneficial AND the result of science), where not necessary or didn’t have resistance to them for many years, which represented a suppression of good science previously. As JCH notes the food industry had a hand in this, though my knowledge isn’t enough to know what the level of help from group-think on the inside was.

        (BTW, for clarity I’m neither a conservative or a US citizen).

        “My method would have, since I read the scientific evidence, am aware of the evidence-based scientific consensus on the topic, know better than to accept… etc”

        So are you indeed claiming that you can always determine the right side (i.e. the side that the ultimate arbiter, future history, reveals as correct) in any conflicted domain?

        JCH,

        Yes scientists opposed the dogma on sat fats at the McGovern hearings. But consensuses are often challenged so I don’t have the knowledge to know who was in the majority, then or after (I presume there have never been headcounts at any date anyway). If science (because obviously over decades there have been many scientists involved in the relevant area) can be hi-jacked en-masse by money and dogma that only had some very minority support (clearly there was some) within the enterprise, at least originally, this is possibly worse than group-think centred more within than without (which at least has more justification in the sense of apparent internal support, even if it turned out to be biased). At any rate the result to the public was the same, and the underwriting of the message was in the name of science.

      • Re: “And indeed the central question of sensitivity has not been much better bounded in decades, yet contains tails stretching from the benign to the highly damaging (if indeed one also adds on the possible range of damage functions). So if we were robots from Zog who know nothing about humans (or indeed Earth and its climate), but do know completely about scientific methodology and its application in a range of domains, we would observe that this is not a sign of maturity”

        This was my question:

        On what grounds do you claim that the science of CO2-induced, anthropogenic climate change is immature, while the science on HIV causing AIDS, humans evolving from non-human animals, smoking causing cancer, etc. is mature?

        If you’re not claiming that science is immature, then by your own logic, your points here are inapplicable to it.

        Your response fails for a number of reasons.

        For instance, one could use your same logic to claim that the science of HIV/AIDS is immature, since there is not an evidence-based consensus on the “central question[s]” of a cure for AIDS and a reliable vaccine for HIV, even those these questions cover a range of options from “stretching from the benign to the highly damaging”. One can pull for the same move for other branches of science, by picking out central questions that don’t yet have an evidence-based scientific consensus on them.

        The aforementioned examples reveal a problem in your reasoning, a problem you share with folks like John Christy: you cherry-pick issues on one topic, to try and illegitimately undermine a different another topic. Christy, for instance, does this when he claims that the science isn’t settled:

        https://judithcurry.com/2018/07/03/the-hansen-forecasts-30-years-later/

        Yet any thinking person should realize that the science can be settled on one aspect of the science, even if another aspect is unsettled.

        So, for instance, it can be settled science that HIV causes AIDS, without it being settled science that there’s a successful HIV vaccine ready for wide use in humans. Similarly, it can be settled science that humans caused most of the post-1950s global warming, without it being settled science that ECS is less than 2.5 or that James Hansen perfect predicts human greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, you’re wrong when you cherry-pick one topic (climate sensitivity) in a scientific field, in order to act as if the science is unsettled and the field is immature. The tactic you’re using is so common among (faux) skeptics, that climate scientists have repeatedly called it out. For example:

        “Feedbacks, climate sensitivity and the limits of linear models
        […]
        Thus, the fact that the range for climate sensitivity today is similar as was guessed by Charney over three decades ago based on sketchy evidence should not be interpreted as a lack of progress, and using the range of ECS as a measure of success for climate research fails to characterize the state of research.”

        “The equilibrium sensitivity of the Earth’s temperature to radiation changes
        […]
        Although uncertainties remain large, it would be presumptuous to say that science has made no progress, given the improvements in our ability to understand and simulate past climate variability and change […] as well as in our understanding of key feedbacks […]. Support for the current consensus range on S now comes from many different lines of evidence, the ranges of which are consistent within the uncertainties, relatively robust towards methodological assumptions (except for the assumed prior distributions; see below) and similar for different types and generations of models. The processes contributing to the uncertainty are now better understood.”

        “Implications of potentially lower climate sensitivity on climate projections and policy
        […]
        There are several climate policy implications that can be drawn from recent ECS estimates. The most important, however, is that they do not change the big picture if all available evidence is taken into account.
        […]
        Drawing upon the combined information of these multiple lines of evidence shows that there is no scientific support to diminish the urgency of emission reductions if warming is to be kept below 1.5 or 2°C, the two temperature limits currently being discussed within the United Nations (UNFCCC 2010). Even the lowest ECS estimate assumed in this study only results in a delay of less than a decade in the timing of when the 2°C threshold would be crossed when emission trends from the past 10 years are continued.”

        John Ioannidis, who’s work is often abused on this forum, makes a similar point. Ioannidis notes that the evidence (and level of certainty) on anthropogenic climate change is on par with the evidence (and level of certainty) that smoking kills people:

        17:17 to 18:22 of:
        “RS 174 – John Ioannidis on “What happened to Evidence-based medicine?””
        http://rationallyspeakingpodcast.org/show/rs-174-john-ioannidis-on-what-happened-to-evidence-based-med.html

        So Ioannidis made an apt comparison between the science on “smoking causing cancer” and the science on “humans causing climate change.” He made this comparison because he recognizes that scientific hypotheses become more reliable (and more likely to be true) as more and more research groups test the hypothesis using different lines of evidence, methodologies, etc., and keep finding that the hypothesis passes the tests. Ioannidis accepts this point, even though he thinks many published research findings are false. See, for example:

        “Why most published research findings are false”
        “Most published research findings are false—But a little replication goes a long way”
        “Why most published research findings are false: Problems in the analysis”
        “Why most published research findings are false: Author’s reply to Goodman and Greenland”

        And the National Academy of Science makes a similar point:

        “From a philosophical perspective, science never proves anything—in the manner that mathematics or other formal logical systems prove things—because science is fundamentally based on observations. Any scientific theory is thus, in principle, subject to being refined or overturned by new observations. In practical terms, however, scientific uncertainties are not all the same. Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested, and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found to be wrong is vanishingly small. Such conclusions and theories are then regarded as settled facts. This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities [pages 21 – 22].
        […]
        Most of the warming over the last several decades can be attributed to human activities that release carbon dioxide (CO2) and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere [chapter 2, page 28].”

        https://www.nap.edu/read/12782/chapter/4#21

        Your cherry-picking of climate sensitivity does nothing to change this.

        Re: “However, we note further that the mainstream scientific community doesn’t push back against this message, and that leadership figures in the oversight / organising body which owns the synthesis process of AR5, also participates in propagation of this unsupported narrative.”

        As I discuss in a subsequent response, you have a habit of making stuff up, without supporting evidence. You did that above again.

        Mainstream climate scientists often go out-of-their-way to correct exaggerations of climate science; don’t pretend otherwise. For example:

        https://climatefeedback.org/evaluation/scientists-explain-what-new-york-magazine-article-on-the-uninhabitable-earth-gets-wrong-david-wallace-wells/
        https://climatefeedback.org/claimreview/earth-is-not-at-risk-of-becoming-a-hothouse-like-venus-as-stephen-hawking-claimed-bbc/
        https://climatefeedback.org/evaluation/the-telegraph-dan-hyde-earth-heading-for-mini-ice-age-within-15-years/
        https://climatefeedback.org/evaluation/2017-track-among-hottest-year-recorded-scientists-not-surprised-thinkprogress-article-suggests-joe-romm/
        https://climatefeedback.org/evaluation/climate-change-emergency-jet-stream-shift-warning-global-warming-extreme-weather-gabriel-samuels-the-independent/
        https://climatefeedback.org/evaluation/alaskas-vicious-cycle-warming-tundra-spews-co2-speeding-up-warming-joe-romm-think-progress/
        https://climatefeedback.org/claimreview/worlds-coral-reefs-severely-threatened-climate-change-human-impacts-abc-story-notes/

        So from now on, if you say something empirical, please provide some evidence for it.

        Your flawed logic would also extend to HIV/AIDS, smoking causing cancer, human evolution, etc. if scientists in those fields did not go around constantly correcting every exaggerated claim people made on those subjects. But that makes no sense. The science on those topics is not immature just because scientists are often busy people who don’t have time to correct the innumerable amount of distortions people invent.

        Anyway, it’s now clear that you’ve failed to show that the science of CO2-induced, anthropogenic climate change is immature. Since doing that is crucial for your critique to carry any weight, your critique of D&M does not work.

      • Re: “Re sat fats, it’s still a somewhat a conflicted domain so you can still find a range of positions, but indeed also changing, and for sure a different mix to a few years ago. It does not serve science to say that the changes (while indeed beneficial AND the result of science), where not necessary or didn’t have resistance to them for many years, which represented a suppression of good science previously. As JCH notes the food industry had a hand in this, though my knowledge isn’t enough to know what the level of help from group-think on the inside was.”

        And here-in lies one of the problems with how you operate that I mentioned in my previous comment: you’re not very good at providing evidence for the claims you make or nor at evaluating evidence. You simply make false claims brazenly. And when you’re called on them, you make long philosophically-vacuous replies that don’t actually support the point you made nor address the evidence cited to you.

        So, once again, you said:

        “And even for ordinary group think rather than cultural conflict writ larger in some of these domains, would for instance your method have detected say the incorrect 50 year consensus on the saturated fats issue before this broke?”
        https://judithcurry.com/2018/11/26/cagw-a-snarl-word/#comment-885988

        “The collapse of the 50 year consensus on saturated fats being a recent case in point, which enacted through long government policy within many nations has likely damaged the health of hundreds of millions of people.”
        https://judithcurry.com/2018/11/14/the-catastrophe-narrative/#comment-883996

        “Saturated fats is one example, and hardly a mere voluntary diet thing for all those with heart issues who were under hospital and doctor regimes”
        https://judithcurry.com/2018/11/14/the-catastrophe-narrative/#comment-884000

        Please provide some evidence for those claims. If you can’t, then drop them. If you don’t know enough to justify them, then drop them. And please stop abusing the example of saturated fat to support the false narrative you’re trying to push on denialism and evidence-based scientific consensus.

        I’ve already cited evidence explaining why those claims of your’s are wrong. To re-iterate the evidence-based points I made:

        1) The relationship between saturated fat and heart disease is well-established, as reflected in the evidence-based scientific consensus on this topic.
        2) The relationship is so well-established that it’s still recommended that people limit saturated fat intake and eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible.
        3) Vegetarian diets that limit saturated fat intake improve heart-disease-related metrics and mortality.
        https://judithcurry.com/2018/11/14/the-catastrophe-narrative/#comment-884029

      • Atomsk’s Sanakan:

        “This was my question:”

        Indeed, which I answered regarding the immaturity of the climate change domain. But you didn’t actually address my answer, you appeared to address something completely different.

        “For instance, one could use your same logic to claim that the science of HIV/AIDS is immature.”

        No, of course one can’t. The link between HIV & AIDS is eminently replicable, and has been for a long time. That the harder journey of a search for a cure is at a more challenged stage, does not speak at all to the former issue or the resistance to the science which occurred.

        “One can pull for the same move for other branches of science.”

        One certainly can’t, unless by a similar sleight of hand, which helps no-one, and was in no way any line of argument that I put forth.

        “any thinking person should realize that the science can be settled on one aspect of the science, even if another aspect is unsettled.”

        Of course. Therefore it is entirely wrong of you to propose a nonsense substitute argument that the HIV / AIDS link is not scientifically replicable, simply because the further science to find a cure is still challenged.

        “So, for instance, it can be settled science that HIV causes AIDS, without it being settled science that there’s a successful HIV vaccine ready for wide use in humans.”

        Absolutely. Yet this is exactly where you were going, not I. Regarding HIV / AIDS or generally, I have made no such argument. I don’t know how anyone could possibly interpret the above answer in that manner. I have made no claim that immaturity regarding the end AR5 output, which in the end is what actually matters for humans and the environment, invalidates items which are more bounded or even perfectly settled deeper within (for example, that CO2 is a GHG).

        ‘…should not be interpreted as a lack of progress…’ : ‘Although uncertainties remain large, it would be presumptuous to say that science has made no progress’

        I didn’t say there was no progress. I said that this factor, along with the other points made above, speak to immaturity. Nor did I question specific conclusions / recommendations of the consensus, per your further quotes. I do point to the issue that AR5 is manifestly a consensus of expert judgement, and that there are at least two significant science camps outside of this consensus who challenge its preferred range of outcomes / recommendations, in opposite directions. These are not signs of maturity.

        Re Ioannidis, I’m not familiar with the podcast or its backup. All three of the camps listed above believe the principle of ‘humans causing climate change’. To say this speaks nothing to the maturity of that science which would tell us how much (and how much consequent damage as a related function), which is the essence of the disagreement that separates these camps and the essence too of the direction of effort in all three camps. Did Ioannidis address this effort, and specifically the scientific approaches / papers of the camp who think that the IPCC / AR5 consensus is way too conservative, plus the camp that thinks it is too OTT? The NAS goes further, your quote includes: ‘much of this warming is very likely due to human activities’. But two scientific camps oppose this (a 4th and also non-mainstream camp, the luke-warmers, at one end of their spectrum at least, might not be far from agreement to this), focusing mostly on lesser or greater than ‘much’. The last full synthesis judging that ‘much’ and all other detail is the AR5, which is challenged by the outside camps even though they are united in the principle of ‘humans causing climate change’.

        Re pushback. Accepted. I said in the post “It’s difficult to see how this false backing could ever be questioned in the public mind, unless the mainstream science community pushes back far more strongly against such assertions.” I should have reflected the same in my comment, i.e. there is *some* push-back. And yet clearly the unsupported catastrophe narrative from rafts of authorities and orgs and influencers, including many of our highest authorities (until the exception of the current US admin), is still a huge elephant in the domain and often cited as the main reason for action. Presidents and prime ministers and the UN elite et al would not be off the tracks if science and science communicators pushed back much more both in the past and now.

        “The science on those topics is not immature just because scientists are often busy people who don’t have time to correct the innumerable amount of distortions people invent.”

        Absolutely people distort (due generally to cultural bias). Yet scientists “don’t have time” to try and correct not just ‘people’, but rows of highly influential global / national leaderships?? Plenty of time seems to be allocated to trying to oppose skeptics, one would have thought rather more might be due to address a major error from (cumulatively) such huge influence, which one presumes dwarfs the combined influence of the skeptics. My point was not in any case that such distortions (even when widespread) necessarily demonstrate immaturity (of course not, otherwise the science of every conflicted domain could be said to be immature, which is patently not so). But these same distortions are even coming from the org to which the AR5 synthesis process belongs (the UN), and indeed sometimes from leadership of the specific synthesis arm, the IPCC, itself too. Such does not speak well regarding potential cultural pressure on the process of expert judgement consensus, which is a social process and so indeed vulnerable to same. And the camp thinking this IPCC consensus is far too conservative, who field various valid scientists within the appropriate areas (some noted in the post) claim inappropriate pressure of exactly the same kind, but in the opposite direction. Are they right? This tussle regarding cultural pressure upon expert judgement accords would not be an issue if the science (of AR5 output) was mature enough not to be so reliant upon judgement panels in the first place.

        “Anyway, it’s now clear that you’ve failed to show that the science of CO2-induced, anthropogenic climate change is immature.”

        You have not addressed my answer but substituted your own flawed logic, which of course will fail, and…

        “ Since doing that is crucial for your critique to carry any weight, your critique of D&M does not work.”

        …while my D&M critique references some example conflicts, it does not depend in any way upon the state of any of the conflicted domains, climate change or any other, which you would know if you’ve read it all, or indeed the points on this paper immediately above. So this is the issue for which you opened the thread, yet by this incorrect one-liner avoidance you continue to ignore the flaws in D&M while offering no workable defence for same. However, it isn’t just your own loss if you continue to try and defend science with this framing of ‘denialism’, it is the loss of the science you seek to defend, because such an erroneous approach, a flawed tool, can only fail in its task. And if you’re as confident in your ability to check at source for any socially conflicted science issue as you implied (unless I misinterpreted this?) why would you even need to defend or use this tool? Btw you forgot to answer my question of above; “..did you not say you can personally adjudicate all socially conflicted science areas and be confident of the right answer? If I have misunderstood this, can you further explain what you actually did mean?”

        Re sat fats: As we noted regarding creationism / religion, cultural inertia can be huge, especially when after a long time it has become heavily integrated with one or more of authority / financial / industry / social structures and norms. So…

        “It’s so well established that it’s still recommended that people limit saturated fat intake and eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible.”

        …becomes ‘it was thought to be so well established that [due to cultural inertia] it’s still recommended that people limit saturated fat intake and eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible’

        As JCH notes the food industry had a big hand in this, though my knowledge isn’t enough to know what the level of help from group-think on the inside was. For sure the dominant position has been sporadically challenged by scientists and others since at least the early seventies, yet it’s highly unlikely such dominance could be maintained without significant group-think / bias on the inside. I doubt there’s ever been headcounts of supporters and skeptics within science, but at any rate whatever the ratio, the dominance occurred and was sold under the name of science. The end effect on the public is the same. So start with this recent run-down: https://healthimpactnews.com/2014/time-magazine-we-were-wrong-about-saturated-fats/ . Incidentally, cholesterol is indeed still indicative of problems; how /why it gets there and what to do to best prevent that, are the issues.

      • P.S. don’t be miscued by source; it’s just a handy starter that links mainstream / other sources, multiple sources across a range should always be sampled of course.

    • No, it hasn’t been hijacked; the non-political capital-S Skeptics movement, of which it is part, has bowed down before its idealized source of authority, mainstream science.

    • ‘A snarl word is a derogatory label that can be attached to something (or even to people), in order to dismiss their importance or worth, without guilt.”
      Like Racist, Misogynist, Homophobe…and da,da,da,da FOX NEWS. The political left are master projectionists. They take their own stink and smear it on those that refuse to bow to their false gods.

    • Rational Wiki is supposed to be for strong atheists like me. A strong atheist would bet his life right now that there is no god. (But first let me delete my browser history.) I repudiate almost every position taken by Rat Wik. It is a political blog that attempts by every logical fallacy known to humanity, to enforce an orthodoxy. To the limits of my intellectual capacity, I will never again allow anyone else to do my thinking for me.l have allowed it in the past and I am bitterly ashamed of having done so. There are however great benefits in the existence of a codified version of “Rational” dogma. Nobody (apart from Thomas Sowell naturally) is infallibly right, so we need Rat Wik and their ilk as a bellwether of what is infallibly wrong.

  2. The recent National report / assessment by Hayhoe etc. presumably represents mainstream science, given its being published under the aegis of the government, and it is totally CAGW. Likewise the recent IPCC 1.5 / 15. Likewise the IPCC’s Summary for Policymakers. If the contributors to the WG1 report don’t agree with it, why don’t they pipe up? Their silence implies consent—or so the media and politicians properly take it. (Are the contributors just creating plausible deniablity for themselves in the event the temperature goes sideways or falls? It looks that way.)

    The authors of the WG2 “Impacts” section are mainstream, no? They, more than the “Attribution” group, more properly represnt mainstream science’s position on how dire or not our prospects are under BAU, no? Their forecasts are catasprophic (even if their tone is sedate), no ? So is, AFAIK, the position of most of the world’s scientific societies, who supposedly represnt mainstream science, no? So, if they are, on balance, catastrophists, why can’t we call them that?

    Another defensible “snarl” term is “alarmist,” which is properly applied tall o papers and authors that deal with some specific, limited impact, such as corals, or arctic ice, or polar bears, or storminess, when they are unbalanced in weighing the evidence, or the impacts, or the cost/benefit ratio. but I suspect it is or would be objected-to by warmists as much as “CAGW.”

    • For SR15, see footnotes 30 and 31 referenced in this sentence: ‘However, notwithstanding plenty of catastrophe narrative ballyhoo from usual voices regarding the new SR15, as the content itself indicates there seems little chance that the steady and incremental evolution of the IPCC reports will change to a dramatically different position for the full AR6, or indeed afterward’. Re the new US assessment, this is regional not global, though I’ve no idea whether it will be folded into AR6 at some point; the world points to the IPCC for its definition of mainstream. Nevertheless while I haven’t looked at the report, around which like for SR15 there is much hype, I notice that CNN relates a ‘worst case’ scenario of 10% reduction in US economy by 2100, i.e. in 82 years. This is also mentioned by Pielke and others. If this happened even within a single year, it would only be a severe recession, but that is very far indeed from a high certainty of imminent catastrophe (US or global). And indeed it would be negligible impact if they haven’t taken the +ve of 82 years of growth into account, which means massive expansion of the economy. This 10% figure itself comes from an outlier study included within the report (see tweets from Pielke Jr). I see elsewhere that the temperature extremes trends within the report itself are completely innocuous (sorry didn’t save source). I think this will happen more, i.e. the hype and the ‘summary’ parts of reports colliding more and more head-on with underlying work that, despite heavy bias, in no way points to a high certainty of imminent global catastrophe. For all of the AR5 Chapters, similarly I don’t believe they at all underwrite a high certainty of imminent global catastrophe, see footnote 15. If you haven’t read it I recommend Willis’ challenge to this position from the recent ‘Catastrophe Narrative’ companion post to this. We haven’t arrived at the same place, but the clearing of the scrub in-between will I think be very useful to folks. Last spasm in this exchange was from here: https://judithcurry.com/2018/11/14/the-catastrophe-narrative/#comment-883921

      • CAGW-ers are afraid of Bob Tisdale, very afraid. He provides data-driven analyses that defy gloom and doom.

        Yea, Bob!

  3. CAGW accurately describes the scenarios presented by climate alarmists. The most recent being the IPCC interim report and the US National Climate Assessment reports. Unless these reports straddle the edge of ‘catastrophe’ they have no purpose. Each report functions to short-circuit human rationality by highlighting the prospects for catastrophe. This is what happens when catastrophe scenarios become two-a-penny. Cost-benefit analysis flies out the window. NYT editorials exhort us to ‘do something’, do anything, “act to stop climate change”. None of these reports function to highlight actual changes in climate.

    Modeling is central to this enterprise. Catastrophe scenarios all happen in the modeled world. No catastrophe scenario will ever happen outside of models. These reports represent AGW modeling as ‘science’, something all climate scientists do. Climate modeling is routine and models represent, if not ‘reality’, then the alternative to reality: the climate model consensus.

    Rational Wiki can say whatever it wants about GAGW but nothing it says affects the political function of models and catastrophe scenarios. We can call it something else but as soon as we name it, the language police will be out thought-policing the Internet. So I’m happy to stick with the snarl word: CAGW. It will stop being a snarl word when catastrophe scenarios are no longer a core, routine, function of model building. The ball’s in the modelers’ court; not the skeptics’.

  4. PS: Andy, your name should be somewhere atop this article; I thought it was by Judy until I was halfway through.

  5. Judy,

    1. Rational wiki doesn ‘t define CAGW that way; *some bloke with zero lexicographical education who types things on rational wiki defines it that way.*

    2. as a general policy, “believers” decline to say what they’re believers in, or what we’re “deniers” of. (Which is rather innovantive approach for supposed advocates of “science,” given that historically, the proponents of a view have the courtesy to specify what that view is.) So it’s up to us to fill in the blanks. Catastrophic AGW is an unimpeachably objective term for what advocates of climate action universally believe in: warming of the globe for man-made reasons which will lead to catastrophe. I defy anyone to come up with a more honest label.

    Naturally and predictably, enforcers of the orthodoxy don’t like being pinned down to a physical, real-world commitment so they whine about “CAGW is a snarl word.”

    Boo freaking hoo.

    3. Remember kids, ‘denier’ isn’t a snarl word.

    But don’t you dare call a non-denier any of the following hateful terms:

    “b*liever”
    “w_rmist”
    “@lArm!$1”
    “C——W proponent”
    “snuggl*-wugglist”

    Such macroaggressive language can trigger such behaviors as offendedness, victimization, crying, running away and editing RationalWiki.

    • Brad, this post is yours truly, not Judith.

    • 1. I’m pointing out it is wrong on its own terms.
      2. ‘Catastrophic AGW is an unimpeachably objective term for what advocates of climate action universally believe in: warming of the globe for man-made reasons which will lead to catastrophe.’ I believe the post concurs with this.
      3. The post points out that ‘denier’ is a serious snarl word in RationalWiki’s own terms, backed by footnote 11.

      Thanks for dropping in, I can count on some lovely language now :)

      • Andy,

        oh, YOU WROTE IT. See, THIS is why I used to read stories backwards. I don’t know why I let them talk me out of it. Why do kindergarten teachers always seem to be frustrated fascists?

        I’m glad to know you correctly concur with me. On balance I think you’re right to do so, and I second that ageement.

        It sounds like an excellent post.

        I had to stop reading when I came across a slab of italic text, unfortunately. Judy doesn’t seem to believe me when I say it’s unreadable. Perhaps if every accredited typographic academy of national/international standing were to have the integrity to issue a statement in my support, people would finally take action.

        Sorry if the limits of my (and the average person’s) parietal-lobe and visual-cortex stamina resulted in my missing the point of opening the piece with the RationalWiki quote.

        I went to RW to annoy myself (mission accomplished) and noticed that they don’t even define ‘denial’—it simply redirects to the word denialism.

        So there we have it: if you don’t believe in something—anything—then you deny it, which constitutes denial, which constitutes denialism, which constitutes a “refusal to accept well-established theory, law, fact or evidence.[note 1] “Denialist” is pejorative. ”

        Do you accept the link between vaccines and autism? WHat’s that? You say there IS NO LINK? According to RationalWiki, denying it makes you guilty, by definition, of “refusal to accept well-established theory, law, fact or evidence.”

        What kind of idiots mistake RationalWiki for some kind of authority, or god forbid a substitute for a dictionary? (Never mind, I think we know.)

        If that’s “rational,” then I shudder to think how delusional the readers of IllogicalWiki must be.

      • Hi Brad, I am working on the italics issue, I took many out but a very light tough on a guest post

      • Thanks Judy. For far too long this otherwise-excellent website, or ‘bsite, has been marred by its slanted rhetoric. Let it be a beacon of uprightness. Too much “skeptical” commentary leans distinctly to the right these days.

      • Brad,

        “…THIS is why I used to read stories backwards”

        So *not* because you’re from down-under then at start at the bottom ;)

        “I had to stop reading when I came across a slab of italic text…”

        I’m completely mystified by your difficulty with italics. They don’t cause me even the slightest issue, but then again maybe this ability has caused me a serious flaw in some other critical skill 0:

        “According to RationalWiki…”

        Yep. Essentially the same logic (?) as the Hoofnagli plus D&M whom we were talking about a few days back, which essentially allows anyone to call anyone a denier with authoritative backup, or as you note what passes for authority.

      • P.S. in a post of which a lot is about terminology, it’s not always easy to highlight the terms from the discussion about them without italics (or bold, which comes across like shouting). Apostrophes can help, but fields of them would likely be worse than italics. It’s pretty standard to put short quotes from elsewhere in italics too, which doesn’t mean you will like it.

    • Andy,

      Italics slow the reader down (a multifactorial effect due to different kerning, overall widening, less contrast, less inter-serif linearity, yadda yadda), and this makes them ideal for stressing short words or phrases. A stressed syllable, after all, is one that takes longer to say.

      It’s also appropriate to put terminology in italics, since the word terminology means what? It means you’re talking about words, not using words t otalk about things, so those words don’t need to flow at the same velocity as the sentences that contain, define or describe them.

      For long runs of text, a sentence or more, don’t use italics. If you need to nest a quote use indentation. That’s better anyway because you can indent more than once to indicate quotes within quotes.

  6. The only accurate history of Global Ice Making and Ice Melting is the Vortek Ice core. This gives an accurate history of thr the past 400,000 years and shows it is controlled by the fact that radient heat is reflected by water and as the area of the Earth’s surface covered by water increases and that of land decreases is all that matters to nature. I have expkained this and how it shows that the new Ice Age began about 18,000 ago. 250 Meters of Ice with high CO2 on the top of the Antarctic proves this.

  7. After following the climate discussions for several years, I find that the term CAGW (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming) brings together the four issues that keep coming up.

    1. Is there warming around us?
    2. Is the warming global (everywhere)?
    3. Is warming caused by human activity?
    4. Is warming catastrophic now or likely to become so?

    Here’s my take of the state of the discussion:

    1. The instrumental records show a pattern of warming, with accelerating and decelerating phases. The amount of warming depends upon the time periods selected for comparisons. The measurements of warmings are in decimals of degrees, with error ranges of a size to significantly impact on the results. The records have been subjected to various adjustments for various reasons, and not all of these have been verified to prove the adjusted numbers are more reliable. Many people accept that we are in a modern warming period, though there are uncertainties with the measurements. No additional warming has occurred this century, and this lack of warming may signify future cooling.

    2. Global averages have been produced and they show a warming trend. These are averages of anomalies, since the actual temperatures vary greatly according to both place and time. Again the selection of the baseline (normal) for comparison affects the results. There is great diversity of warming and cooling patterns around the average; for example, at least 1/3 of US land surface stations showed cooling trends over the same period that the average was rising. Also, patterns in the mostly oceanic Southern Hemisphere (SH) are quite different and the average lower than the NH, where most of the land is. Often, two microclimates differ significantly even when a few KM apart, so that the selection of stations affects greatly the results. This issue is open to debate and is currently subject to extensive investigation.

    3. Human activity directly impacts the environment and climate through land and water use: the effects of urban settlements, forest clearing, water extraction, damming of rivers, etc. appear to cause changes and often warming the places where they occur. The major debate is over the claim that burning of fossil fuels causes global warming by the increasing presence of CO2 in the atmosphere. Many issues are involved: Does rising CO2 cause rising temperatures, or the other way around? How much do emissions from humans affect the atmosphere considering the much larger exchanges between natural CO2 sources and sinks? How much does the radiative effect of 400ppm CO2 affect the climate, considering the effects of convection, evapotranspiration, multi-decadal ocean heat oscillations, cloud patterns, among other factors?

    4. How dangerous is the present pattern of climate change, defined by IPCC as manmade global warming? The extent of human contribution to observed warming is uncertain. Even so, the modern warming period was preceded by the Medieval, the Roman, and the Minoan warming periods–each was cooler than the previous, and all of them warmer than the present. The last 1.5C of warming has been a boon to human agriculture and civilization, and the next 1.5C is likely to also be beneficial. Yet numerous studies are funded to examine any and all negative consequences that could result from increases in temperature. The funding monopoly dedicated to climate change ensures a steady drumbeat of warnings. The public’s concern is required for governments to impose carbon-pricing regimes as the proposed means of reducing CO2 emissions. Many doubt whether these regimes will reduce either CO2 or warming. Some believe that natural forces are already beginning to cool the climate, in spite of emissions. This is a battle for public opinion waged daily in the media and the blogosphere.

  8. If the skeptics want to use the term, the best course of action for alarmists who are debating them is to own it rather than try to deny it.
    In mathematics, catastrophe theory refers to a theory of tipping points. Catastrophes are irreversible losses that might occur as a result of climate change. There are tipping points related to Greenland, Antarctica, and Arctic sea ice, where ice may be irreversibly lost. Others relate to ocean circulations like the Gulf Stream that may be tipped to another mode. Other areas of loss relate to ecological systems, or agriculture, or coastal areas affected by sea-level rise.
    So climate change can lead to an irreversible set of events or even a cascade of tipping points affecting natural and human systems. It is understandable that many would apply the term catastrophic to one-way changes such as this.

    • Jim D:

      As noted, the term may be used appropriately, or inappropriately (referring to mainstream science that doesn’t support a high certainty of imminent global catastrophe). I recommend only appropriate usage above. For those such as yourself who object to the association of an ill-defined catastrophic with mainstream science by some skeptics, it would be good to own the same rule for all, and so *not* to give a free pass to all those presidents, prime ministers, high ministers, the UN elite, religious leaders, NGOs, many other orgs and businesses and other authorities, who propagate via the catastrophe narrative that mainstream science supports a high certainty of imminent global catastrophe, which is false and you agree it is false. Yet you nevertheless refuse to do this, and give all those listed authorities a free pass. I copy below the last comment each of our exchange on same at the companion post, ‘the catastrophe narrative’, which summarizes your responses so far regarding your free pass. For anyone who wants to delve earlier, please go there.

      Jim D | November 25, 2018 at 7:00 pm |
      I am not going to repeat everything I said. You say your opinion is irrelevant, but your whole premise is that these statements are false which IS your opinion and not that of those leaders or many scientists. This means your whole article is your own opinion and therefore irrelevant. This is why I have from the beginning stressed that “catastrophic” is a subjective term depending on what you care about and cannot be assigned as false when it is their assessment. These leaders read reports not just by the IPCC but by their own scientists that are more customized to their own interests and I am sure they talk to experts too. There is one report called 4C: Turn Down the Heat, by the World Bank, for example. You can read that and judge whether anything looks catastrophic to you, although again your opinion is just one of many and you have to expect people to differ while not denouncing other opinions as false.

      andywest2012 | November 26, 2018 at 4:56 am |
      Jim D:

      “…but your whole premise is that these statements are false which IS your opinion and not that of those leaders or many scientists”

      No. As stated innumerable times above the premise has nothing to do with my opinions regarding particular projections or ‘catastrophes’. It is about the fact that the many listed authority sources are stating a position which they claim is supported by mainstream science, but which isn’t supported by mainstream science. Hence it is the opinion and judgement of that science which matters. This position as propagated by presidents, prime ministers, high ministers, the UN elite, religious leaders, NGOs, many other orgs and businesses and other authorities, is that mainstream science supports a high certainty of imminent global catastrophe, which also they express in a most ill-defined and emotive manner, and you yourself agree that this is a false representation of mainstream science. Indeed you strongly object to the same associations of an ill-defined catastrophic when made by skeptics, albeit their typical expression by bolting C onto AGW is not so emotive as the scary narrative from the presidents, prime ministers, high ministers, the UN elite, religious leaders, NGOs, many other orgs and businesses and other authorities.

      “…I have from the beginning stressed that “catastrophic” is a subjective term depending on what you care about and cannot be assigned as false when it is their assessment.”

      And I have stressed repeatedly that when it is in the proper context of mainstream science, this term is fine. But the catastrophe narrative is not in the context of mainstream science, it is in the context of saying that mainstream science supports a high certainty of imminent global catastrophe, which is also expressed in an ill-defined and highly emotive manner, and this is false, and you agree this is false representation of mainstream science.

      “You can read that and judge whether anything looks catastrophic to you…”

      Once again, it is irrelevant what I think regarding this term within any specific usage. What all the world points to, what all the listed authorities point to, is the judgement of ‘the’ science, the mainstream, the considered and coordinated opinion of climate scientists world-wide, as represented by the IPCC reports (latest full being AR5). Hence this is the judgement that counts regarding the perceptions of the world and indeed of those leaders, not mine or yours. But this science does not support a high certainty of imminent global catastrophe, and you agree it does not, yet via the catastrophe narrative all the presidents, prime ministers, high ministers, the UN elite, religious leaders, NGOs, many other orgs and businesses and other authorities, say that it does.

      “This means your whole article is your own opinion and therefore irrelevant.”

      So having looped through you saying ‘I “give a free pass to the catastrophic narrative” because of free speech’ when this is not an issue of free speech, and veered away from noble cause as your reason for a free pass, despite also implying that you believe the falsity is acceptable ‘to be effective’ in creating what you think is the right urgency to meet the 2C target, i.e. you believe so strongly in the goals that presumably for you the noble intent overrules the need to maintain veracity, and throwing in the red herring of other narrative that is within the bounds of science whether or not it uses the word catastrophe or equivalent (once again, right here), then saying that you are giving a free pass to the catastrophe narrative simply because ‘it is wording in common use now’ and pointing to a newspaper report, you are now saying the whole issue as staked out in this post is ‘irrelevant’. So while continuing to give a free pass to all these highly influential authority sources who associate a high certainty of an ill-defined imminent global catastrophe with mainstream science, I presume meanwhile you’ll still be objecting to those skeptics who also associate mainstream science with the catastrophic. I think contradictions of this nature are highly relevant to domain understanding.

      • The point I am making here is that catastrophic is a valid term to use for irreversible losses and tipping points. Imminent catastrophe is your straw man as far as I can tell. If anyone uses those words together, it would be interesting to see the context, especially the meaning of imminent. The catastrophes unfold over time. Climate change is a slow-motion disaster.

      • Jim D:

        And as I noted above, usage of this term or equivalents in a sense which is properly within the bounds of mainstream science, is not catastrophe narrative notwithstanding skeptic challenges to such science, because the mainstream science to which it stayed faithful doesn’t support a high certainty of imminent (decades) global catastrophe, yet this is what the catastrophe narrative as propagated all those authority sources says.

        “Imminent catastrophe is your straw man as far as I can tell.”

        Did you read the post? The many footnote quotes are shared with the last post, which you claimed to have read. These quotes are all aligned to an emotive and ill-defined yet high certainty of imminent (decades) global catastrophe. As you note to skeptics who similarly associate the term to mainstream science, it is an ill-defined and not a scientific term, yet the global nature and imminence (absent action), are clear within the authority quotes. We’ve been through this before. You call out one group for it’s ill-defined association of the catastrophic with mainstream science, but give a free pass to the immeasurably more influential group who do the same. Your strong objection for one group means you do not believe it is a straw man. You agree this representation of mainstream science is false, so you should object just as strongly to both groups.

      • I would suggest to you that imminent catastrophe implies that it is already unstoppable. What may be imminent is crossing the 1.5 C threshold, but not catastrophes. Or what needs to be imminent is the start of significant emissions reductions, but talk of imminent catastrophe would be self-defeating in terms of calling for action, so I doubt anyone puts it in those exact terms.

      • Andy, don’t try to overthink incoherent partisan narratives, it just mainstreams radicalism if you take them seriously.
        Just keep in mind that if you say “catastrophic,” it’s because you are a dishonest “denier” and if you say “not catastrophic” it’s because you are a dishonest “denier.”
        Heads, you’re wrong. Tails, you’re incorrect.

      • Jim D:

        ‘I would suggest to you that imminent catastrophe implies that it is already unstoppable. ‘

        Check out the quotes, and links to the original sources plus especially climate communication discussion. There is a range of contexts regarding what perception is / should be drawn by imminence and ‘highly urgent’ etc. Some communicators are indeed worried that the stress on urgency / imminence messaging is now so out of control that this is resulting in some folks beginning to speculate that global catastrophe is effectively unstoppable, and so why should anyone try therefore (also subsidiary literature on increasing serious depression this is causing). A very small minority (I think at least a couple are represented) of authority sources outright say that we are already doomed and hence any action is irrelevant, barring survivalist preparations (yes, included too). Much more often though the urgency / imminence is coupled to the hope that the (unsupported, global) catastrophe can nevertheless still be avoided, or mostly avoided, yet increasingly emotively strengthens calls for dramatic action immediately in order to do so. However the narrative is emergent, and the imminence plus associated urgency have not really any more scientific definition within the catastrophe narrative than the global catastrophe that with high confidence it says is bearing down within this imminent (decades) time-frame. So it can pretty much mean anything to anyone.

      • Chris Kurowski

        I, personally, would prefer that the use of ‘tipping point’ be avoided – and it is certainly not a phrase that I would ever use when describing the possible phases of operation of an electronic system. The phrase ‘tipping point’ has, interestingly enough, seriously racist origins, for example: “Some white parents may reluctantly accept integration to the extent of 10 to 15 per cent…. Exactly when the “tipping point” of white acceptance will be reached will depend upon the attitude of the individual white parent and upon the general white community attitude.
        —Homer Bigart, The New York Times, 19, Apr. 1959″ I find this interesting because it is a reminder that while the media likes to portray itself as without moral flaw, history says otherwise, but I digress

        Waving around a phrase such a ‘tipping point’ is intellectually weak and to my mind a way of avoiding peer review. A system typically switches from one mode of operation to another because among the various feedback, and feed forward terms, one of the feedback terms has achieved a value that is positive and greater than unity. The system will then slew until it can slew no more or a new stable region of operation is achieved where the new set of feedback terms are all less than unity when their sign happens to be positive, and all feed forward terms have stabilized. There is no guarantee that the system will enter a fixed state as the new state may imply a defined oscillation. Anyone with any respect for themselves as a scientist, mathematician or engineer should be prepared to describe their arguments in formal system terms, and phrases like ‘tipping point’ should be left to the journalists and politicians and other rogues.

      • Jim D,

        “Climate change is a slow-motion disaster.”

        So you believe in DAGW?

        (Disaster not being an emotive word, of course.)

        You won’t be able to get non-skeptics to agree to that name for their hypothesis, though, for the same reason they can’t bring themselves to call it CAGW:

        it’s too strong, and therefore too falsifiable.

        Much easier to use your term (“climate change”), a truism whose deniers, implicitly, must be insane.

      • Brad, the term “climate change” is meaningless; only a religion would ascribe negative meaning to the term.

      • I know, Dave. But it’s fair enough to make a CLAIM about it. “Climate change is dangerous” or “climate change is purple” are [questionable] claims, not ascriptions of meaning.

      • If one states “climate change is dangerous,” isn’t one ascribing some [religious] meaning to the term?

      • not unless one is defining the term. which is not always obvious either way.

        If I say cats are quadrupedal mammals, i’m telling you something true, by definition.

        If I say cats are my 2-year-old’s favorite animal, I’m just making a contingent claim. that’s not what “cat” means.

        Most alarmists say “climate change is dangerous” as a contingent matter. I t wasn’t always dangerous, maybe if we all go back to the Bronze Age it will stop being dangerous, but right now (they think) it happens to be dangerous.

      • > … imminent catastrophe implies that it is already unstoppable.

        No it doesn’t. I could be in middle of a highway with cars approaching, but have to time to get out of the way.

    • P.S. regarding ‘alarmists’, assuming you mean scientists supporting a high certainty of imminent global catastrophe, they typically do own the term. See the examples of various scientists propagating the catastrophe narrative in footnotes 6 and 7, of which a subset are climate scientists. As noted within the main body of the post, this subset are typically opposed to the IPCC, because owning the catastrophic puts them seriously at odds with AR5 and prior reports.

      • As I note above, there are aspects of climate change that meet the definition of catastrophic. The Greenland tipping point is one of them.

      • See above at 9:44 am. As I have repeatedly noted to you, expression within the proper bounds of mainstream science is not catastrophe narrative, because notwithstanding skeptic challenges to such science, the mainstream science to which it stayed faithful doesn’t support a high certainty of imminent (decades) global catastrophe. Yet this is what the catastrophe narrative as propagated all those authority sources, says.

    • There is a difference between a catastrophe and a disaster. A disaster can be recovered from while a catastrophe is an irreversible change. Many aspects of climate change fall into the catastrophe class. Things change in ways that today’s state will not be returned to, and that is important to distinguish. We have weather disasters and recoveries, but when 500-year events turn into 10-year events, rebuilding makes no sense, and this becomes part of the ongoing irreversible effect of climate change.

  9. Maybe we should use CAGWP as a separate term for those who believe they know the future and absolutely know that it will all be bad.

    CAGW would remain for those who believe they know the present and absolutely know that it is now worse than at any time in the past ever.

    Just for clarity.

  10. WE need to stop thinking of the Climate Change agenda as if it were normative science, and analyze it as the Religion it always was and continues to be.
    Once in a while a headline is appropriate as per BoJo’s article below:

    We’ve lost our fear of hellfire, but put climate change in its place

    “Billions will die,” says Lovelock, who tells us that he is not normally a gloomy type. Human civilisation will be reduced to a “broken rabble ruled by brutal warlords”, and the plague-ridden remainder of the species will flee the cracked and broken earth to the Arctic, the last temperate spot, where a few breeding couples will survive.
    Snip
    Humanity has largely lost its fear of hellfire, and yet we still hunger for a structure, a point, an eschatology, a moral counterbalance to our growing prosperity. All that is brilliantly supplied by climate change. Like all the best religions, fear of climate change satisfies our need for guilt, and self-disgust, and that eternal human sense that technological progress must be punished by the gods.
    And the fear of climate change is like a religion in this vital sense, that it is veiled in mystery, and you can never tell whether your acts of propitiation or atonement have been in any way successful. One sect says we must build more windfarms, and these high priests will be displeased with what Lovelock has to say. Another priestly caste curses the Government’s obsession with nuclear power – a programme Lovelock has had the courage to support.
    http://tinyurl.com/y9su4bd

    The Gaian Prophet Lovelock was one of the primary proponents of the CAGW hysteria

    • brentns1:

      “WE need to stop thinking of the Climate Change agenda as if it were normative science…”

      This may be helpful if you haven’t read it:
      https://judithcurry.com/2015/11/20/climate-culture/

      The stark contradiction between the strong objections from the orthodox to ‘CAGW’ being associated with mainstream science per some skeptics, at the same time as a completely free pass for a highly emotive association of the catastrophic with mainstream science by all those hugely powerful / influential authority sources listed, is an insight that leads to the fact that that the high certainty of imminent (decades) global catastrophe is indeed a cultural consensus, and not a scientific one. i.e. not even backed by the AR5 Chapters, despite what biases they may be subject to; they don’t support a high certainty of imminent global catastrophe.

      • Andy, also worth noting unless you already have remarked on this:

        ““WE need to stop thinking of the Climate Change agenda as if it were normative science…””

        Non-normative science isn’t science. Science is normativeive, by definition. It’s a code of conduct underwritten by a particular logic.

    • But Lovelock is now an apostate re the threat of global warming—he now dismisses it.

  11. Al Gore’s Climate Leadership Training kept me riveted and inspired

    Al Gore is a mesmerizing speaker. As a participant of the Climate Reality Project, I saw how people like Gore use stories to build common ground with thousands of people and convince them to care about climate change.
    The importance of narrative
    The theme of the three days of climate leadership training was “narrative” – the stories we tell each other that create culture and bind us together. We all tell stories, and stories are what we remember and relate to
    http://www.vancouverobserver.com/blogs/earthmatters/al-gores-climate-leadership-training-kept-me-riveted-and-inspired

  12. Andy West, thank you for another good essay.

    So setting aside the snarl implications of the word ‘denialist’11 above,

    good call.

    I wonder if “faux skeptic” is a snarl word.

    • Thanks, Matthew :)

      Re ‘faux skeptic’, yes, because it implies the target is only pretending to have questions / issues instead of genuinely having questions. Notwithstanding that the polarisation on climate change aligns to older cultural oppositions in some countries (e.g. especially the US), whether culturally prompted or indeed via reasoning, questions will be genuine in the overwhelming majority of cases in the sense that they are *not* from any conscious intent to dissimulate, notwithstanding a few bad apples in every barrel.

      • “Faux skeptic” is not, in my experience, a term used to impugn my sincerity in doubting Teh Science, but to dispute my claim to have arrived at those doubts by skeptical inqury.

        I sympathise with this (to a limited extent).

        Just because a “skeptic” doubts or disbelieves doesn’t, in fact, make him a skeptic. It just so happens that I’m both a “skeptic” and a skeptic, as are most intelligent “skeptics.”

      • Modesty becomes a person.

      • I don’t think many of Them would say with a straight face, at this late point in the game, that any of Us are just *pretending* to disbelieve or doubt the science. After all, They think Teh Science is overwhelming, so a pseudo-disbeliever would have to be aware that the world is imminently and spectacularly going to vindicate Teh Science. Nobody aware of that would , in their right mind, bet the other way, for fear of pitchforks and torches when they’re proven wrong.

      • Since nothing much has happened in the 21st Century, the world is going to have to get off its ass soon if “… the world is imminently and spectacularly going to vindicate Teh Science.”

        IPCC climate model soothsaying won’t cut the mustard. IPCC AR5 had to adjust the models’ near term temperature projections down to accommodate the real world. I wonder how AR6 will finesse that inconvenient fact?

      • Andy –

        Re ‘faux skeptic’, yes, because it implies the target is only pretending to have questions / issues instead of genuinely having questions.

        In line with Brad’s comment above… I think that often the “faux” attribution does not imply a lack of real questions/issues, but skepticism as to whether the questions/issues really reflect skepticism (in contrast to, say, “motivation” or identity protective cognition).

      • Well maybe my choice of ‘pretending’ isn’t the best, however…

        “I don’t think many of Them would say with a straight face, at this late point in the game, that any of Us are just *pretending* to disbelieve or doubt the science.”

        …isn’t this the entire basis of one of the big memes in orthodoxy, ‘the merchants of doubt’ as propagated by your favourite climate Jesuit and many others, and the principle reason they claim skepticism still thrives in the public despite decades of earnest climate catastrophism? (albeit being utterly wrong, all cultures are polarising so there’s bound to be innate skeptics in all publics even without counting reasoning skeptics). There are some ‘merchants of doubt’ narrative variants in the example quotes in the footnotes file. Btw I recommend reading the lot, it is truly an education.

      • Dave,

        “Modesty becomes a person.”

        So? Even if this nu-science hypothesis is true, other things might also become one.

        A foetus becomes a person. That doesn’t mean I should exhibit any.

      • It appears you don’t, Brad.

      • Andy, yep, point taken, you’re right.

        In the believalists’ mental cinema there are, indeed, pseudo-disbelievers—not the rank and file, however. It’s not the Consumers of Doubt, like you and I and the other “faux skeptics” they’ve actually met online.

        Theyre’ just talking about the tight-knit cabal of Elders of ZionismDenialism. The ones who are playing us for (sincere) fools with their usurysuperhuman influence on history from behind the scenes.

      • J: ‘In line with Brad’s comment above… I think that often the “faux” attribution does not imply a lack of real questions/issues, but skepticism as to whether the questions/issues really reflect skepticism (in contrast to, say, “motivation” or identity protective cognition).’

        Possibly, I haven’t come across the use of the term much or thought about it. However, for the US public this would make the bulk of the orthodox as much ‘faux believers’ as the bulk of the skeptical ‘faux skeptics’, given per the IPC you refer to from Kahan, both sides are responding from the PoV of ‘who they are’ and not ‘what they know’ about climate change anyhow. Regarding the more knowledgeable, they are likely to be more polarised not less, yet with the same underlying motivation, again per Kahan. I doubt that most of those deploying the term know anything about this, or would be willing to use ‘faux believer’ for anyone on ‘their side’ anyhow. So I’d presumed per my reply to Brad that the usage was more in line with ‘the merchants of doubt’, but it was indeed a presumption and it could be this is not the case.

      • A popular, conservative six-term Republican incumbant was primaried out of office by Republican voters, largely because he commuted the sin of voicing support for mainstream science on climate change.

      • Andy, I tried to agree with you HOURS ago (memory hole/moderation?):
        “…isn’t this the entire basis of one of the big memes in orthodoxy, ‘the merchants of doubt’ as propagated by your favourite climate Jesuit and many others”

        Absolutely. Point taken. However, the Merchants of Doubt are a tiny cabal of superhumanly powerful People of A Certain Type of Surname.

        Nobody has met any of them, Oreskes didn’t even interview any of them, and they certainly don’t waste their time on blogs.

        “Faux skeptic” refers in 99.9% of cases to people like you and me, people who exist and can be interacted with and insulted, the rank-and-file dupes of the MODs, the Customers of Doubt.

        And I think the Other Side has come to accept by now that we’re dead serious.

      • Brad, I did see your reply at 7:51 pm, after sending my comment at 7:58 pm above. Was there another reply as well? I see what you mean re that the theoretical MoDs would be very small in number.

      • Andy, just to be extra clear, I didn’t mean to come across as impatient when I wrote “HOURS ago”—all I meant was “a few hours ago,” as a matter of fact related at a normal conversational volume.

        it was a spectacularly unlucky capitalization error, or capo on my part.

        Of all the words I could have accidentally capitalized, “HOURS” was the capo di tutti capi. D’oh!

    • I think there are faux skeptics among the Republican politicians. Many are only skeptics because their party demands it of them. There is no reason that skepticism should be 100% correlated with Republican politics, and it is not outside of the elected congress. This shows that it is forced on them.

      • “There is no reason that skepticism should be 100% correlated with Republican politics”

        It isn’t 100%. But in the US a skeptic position is strongly correlated with Rep / Cons and an orthodox position is strongly correlated with Dem / Libs. In some other countries too the cultural conflict on the issue is to a greater or lesser extent aligned with pre-existing political cultural divides, though not always with left / right on the same side (main climate orthodox party in Germany is right of centre). In other countries, publics are divided in similar proportions but not strongly correlated to prior political lines (e.g in the UK, where all main political parties support CC policies). To return to the US, this means the majority folks on *both* sides believe because of ‘who they are’, not ‘what they know’ about climate, as has claerly been shown by Dan Kahan’s work with similar survey questions that do / don’t challenge identity. This doesn’t make the skeptical side any more ‘faux skeptics’ than the orthodox side are ‘faux believers’, because neither are being at all dishonest; it is just part of ‘who they are’. And ‘who they are’ is not ‘forced’, for either side. Of course one can’t say anything about any particular individual from this, there are plenty of folks at the opposite end than the bulk figures, and so what the individual motives of politicians are, on both sides, cannot be known. But reasonably the default position is that like the public, it is about who they are not what they know; likely most of them know little detail on the issue anyhow.

      • This is why I single out Republican congressmen who have to be “skeptics” as part of their qualifications for the job, so 100% of them are, or claim to be, which is at odds with polls of Republicans.

      • JimD, I think the pressure to conform is just as strong for Democrats. What has happened in the US is that both sides have made this a hyper partisan issue. Considering the harsh diatribes of Democrats against “deniers” outside their party, you can imagine their dismay if one of their own dared to disagree. We have seen this already with moderates on the issue in the scientific community being called deniers.

        It suits generally the growing trend for political consensus enforcement by the left on a whole host of issues such as LGBT issues, abortion, immigration, etc. The racist, sexist, bigot, xenophobe meme has been mastered by hyper partisans as a tool to intimidate, get banned from social media, and drive out of public life if possible.

        The only way you would be unaware of this is if you have been hiding in a cave for the last 15 years.

      • Democrats conform more to what the scientists say, as it takes some extra effort or motivation not to.

      • Jim D, reread what you just posted.

      • Oh and I forgot, you need to wink at actual mob violence and attempted mass murder.

      • Jim D:

        My knowledge of US politics is not strong enough for this, but I seem to recall quite a number of Reps who supported climate change policies, albeit there are presumably less remaining in the Trump era. I should imagine ‘who you are’ plays even more strongly within politics on both sides of the house regarding the issue (because of signalling identity to their supporters), and so it’s highly unlikely that there wouldn’t be pressure to conform on the Dem side as well as the Rep side.

      • It’s easier to conform with the science than be against it.

      • Again, Jim D, reread what you posted.

      • You have to have some alternative motivation not to trust the scientific majority on actual science. What is that alternative motivation? Who knows? Dems just go with the experts.

      • Jim D:

        ‘Democrats conform more to what the scientists say, as it takes some extra effort or motivation not to.’

        For any socially conflicted science issues, all cultural groups (so including political parties) support the science that aligns to their values, and resist the science that challenges their values. This is universal.

      • If there’s any areas of science that Democrats resist, it would be interesting to know them.

      • Jim D:

        P.S. nor has ‘the science’ been the main message for many years from all the many authority sources listed, which includes the highest national and international authorities there are; it is instead the catastrophe narrative, which falsely claims that a high certainty of imminent (decades) global catastrophe is supported by mainstream science. This conditions attitudes on both sides to the detriment of whatever the science might actually say. Folks don’t get a chance to believe the science when it is obscured by endemic catastrophe messaging.

      • I think many are trying to work backwards to discredit the scientists themselves because they don’t believe the consensus view. This is a real thing that is going on.

      • Well, we can start with “gender is a social construct”. Guns is of course another one unsupported by science. London I guess just passed New York in its murder rate. The most pernicious is the insectionality idea, namely, that personal circumstances are completely determined by the “groups” you belong to and their position in the “power hierarchy’ and has nothing to do with individual initiative. Some of these are still not supported by all Democrats but the pressure to conform is growing stronger.

      • Odd things to call science. I mean science founded on physics principles.

      • JimD, Exactly who are these evildoers who are trying to discredit the scientists? You mean like the Center for American Progress that had a 2 year active campaign to drive Roger Pielke Jr. off of Silver’s site?

      • Terms like groupthink, suppression, in it for the money, dishonesty, come to mind. Inferences that the consensus don’t actually believe the consensus and are just politically motivated.

      • Jim D:

        There’s a bunch of studies on it but I don’t have links. It’s easy to google and there’s lots of articles, but for those need to take a spread of right to middle to left, because they all interpret results differently of course. Here is one that has a brief look at the issue: https://newrepublic.com/article/139700/democrats-party-science-not-really

      • Jim D:

        Well all the many authority sources listed, which includes the highest national and international authorities there are, who for many years via the catastrophe narrative have falsely claimed that a high certainty of imminent (decades) global catastrophe is supported by mainstream science, are not trying to discredit anyone. As we agreed, they are not lying. So they are saying what they truly believe, despite which this has been and remains an enormous public misdirection.

      • Actually, blanket association with the Republican/Democrat divide is a bit misleading.

        Evidence I’ve seen shows that mainstream Republicans are more aligned with independents on climate change than they are with more hardcore Republicans. I don’t know if there’s a similad pattern with Dems, but I doubt it.

        And its a little hard to imagine a Democratic equivalent of Bob Inglis, who was driven out of his party because he accepted mainstream science on climate change.

      • Andy, there is another point worth making and that is the overwhelming bias in many of the social and medical sciences that makes people skeptical and makes automatic faith in “the science” problematic. Particularly in psychology, there is a huge problem with replication.

        The best historical example of this is the huge failure of the scientific/government/industrial complex on dietary fat that began I believe in the 1960’s. This jihad based on obviously flawed science has probably harmed millions of people by convincing them to eat “low fat” foods which usually had carbohydrates added to make them “taste good.” We now know that high carbohydrate diets are much more dangerous to your health than high fat diets. Why did it take over 60 years for there to be any skepticism on this subject and why did the government not show any skepticism? Consensus enforcement anyone? Of course, many will point to smoking as a success story and it is, but its a much more isolated instance than most believe.

        A more effective way to understand this, I believe, is that the “elites” in academia, government, and industry tend to believe the science establishment. Since all 3 entities are now dominated by Democrats, that makes it no surprise that Democrats follow their thought leaders and align strongly with the science establishment, except on social issues I pointed out above where “morality” is allowed to trump science.

      • Jim, So you are not deceived, Ingris was defeated for re-election by Trey Goudy. Ingrid is still a Republican and runs a conservative think tank. Saying he was driven out of the party is wrong.

      • Nope, these Republicans who believe AGW do tend to get primaried because they lose election funding from the party or other sponsors of Republicans.

      • > I think there are faux skeptics among the Republican politicians. Many are only skeptics because their party demands it of them.

        And probably the entire Democrat party are faux truebelievers, for this bolsters their underlying ideology and drive for ever more taxes and state control freakery.

      • Yes, Dems just trust the experts. Who knows why, right?

      • Jim D

        “…alternative motivation…”?

        Really? Having doubts is the easiest thing in the world, if, ..if, you’ve taken the time to study the totality of evidence. There are many reasons to doubt the absolute certainty that some have. Not the AGW theory by itself. But rather the absolutism, sometimes about CAGW, totally committed all in mentality, that is pervasive in certain quarters. When I read quotes by supposedly knowledgeable observers, I wonder what are these people thinking.

        I’m not talking about the outsiders such as politicians and media, It’s clear they haven’t taken the time to do in-depth, independent research.( last night a prominent Democratic Senator said as justification for AGW , “look at the hurricanes” , oh God, my head hurts. That in her mind proves AGW, and maybe CAGW.) In that sphere ithe debate has been dumbed down to an absurdity. It rained hard.. ..AGW. There are droughts….AGW. A heat wave ….AGW. Forest fire…..AGW. On and on and on and on. Routine weather and events attributed to AGW.

        No, I’m talking about those in the science who should have a level of knowledge orders of magnitude greater than me. And yet they ignore all the factors that would cause a reasonable person to at least, for a minute, back up and reevaluate their position.

        It’s very easy to be a skeptic without any alternative motivation. If they have an open mind.

      • Open to what? Open to something else being the dominant forcing rather than GHGs? Open to the idea GHGs don’t do anything? Open to the idea that GHG increases are not from emissions? Open to warming not even happening? An open mind is usually an empty one with no idea of what’s going on let alone why.

      • “Yes, Dems just trust the experts. Who knows why, right?”

        Domestic oil and natural gas production in the United States more than doubled under President Obama.

        No nation on earth was going to cut its fossil fuel use while that was happening. No future president or congress is going to shut it all down and put on the unemployment line the workforce President Obama doubled. Frenchmen have no reason to suffer higher gas taxes after American liberals’ hero rapidly reduced them.

        The president’s pledge in Paris that some future president would undo everything he did was a remarkably cynical move that was only possible with an AGW movement that isn’t serious and a media that didn’t really care.

        The production numbers are now a fact on the ground that means AGW is a technological problem and the Democrats’ technological “solutions” are incoherent.

      • The CPP power transition, stopping pipelines of Canadian gunk, and fuel efficiency standards were and are being fought every step of the way. He had a lot of opposition that hamstrung his plans, but coal is making way to natural gas just as an economic measure, and some states and cities are serious about wind and solar.

      • The CPP gives states until 2022 or later to switch to natural gas.
        The arbitrary (and contrary to government regulators review) decision to halt the Canadian pipeline did nothing more than move Canadian gunk by rail instead of safer, cleaner pipeline.
        CAFE standards? Obama says “here’s $2 a gallon gas, but a future president won’t let you use it.” By the way, is there anything less scientifically sound than having congress arbitrarily set the efficiency of the ICE engine to “whatever will make Bill McKibben shut up”?

      • Other countries are setting those standards, so the US won’t be able to sell their cars if they don’t keep up. This also makes a big difference to emissions as would the phase-out of combustion engines in the next few decades which some manufacturers and countries are already planning for. I think the US will come back to its senses with a future administration.

      • “Other countries are setting those standards, so the US won’t be able to sell their cars if they don’t keep up.”

        That’s what the press releases say. Meanwhile Volvo sells a luxury vehicle in the US that gets 21 miles to the gallon. Mercedes sells one that gets 13 miles to the gallon.
        Europe seems to understand the world Obama has made better than the Democrats do.

      • They understand that the American customers can still get cheap gas so far.

      • Yes Jim, the Democrsts just trust the untrustworthy experts who share their vested ideological interest of trying to expand the state for its own sake, and who are unrepentant about sabotaging the scientific method to advance that cause.

      • This is typical of the conspiracy ideation we see on blogs about climate scientists. If you can’t agree with most of them and their publications, denigrate them instead.

      • As you keep trying to ignore with your silly conspiracy strawman deception, no conspiracy notion is needed or suggested since there is clear vested interest in play. The state is trying to advance its interests, just like everyone knows and does themselves. The only people invoking ‘conspiracy’ are desperate CAGWers seeking to deceive.

      • And by “denigrate” you of course mean refer to blatantly obvious systemic top-to-bottom corruption and bias such as the official Climategate coverups, about which the ‘profession’ remains unrepentantly silent.

        And in this specific “CAGW” topic, their further duplicitous silence in not countering the widespread notion that the Consensus message is not in fact about catastrophe, for fear this might endanger their status and grants.

      • You are either saying the majority of climate scientists are honest or not about the degree of AGW. Which is it?

      • Are they being honest in seeking the truth, looking at it from all angles ? I seriously doubt it, given the blessings the Climategate cr00ks were given by management for their malfeasance to promote alarmism. And the consitutional requirement of the IPCC to find man at fault.

        Andy’s point is that the mainstream in fact isn’t catastrophist, contrary to to almost universal belief. If so, and as Andy also says, the profession has resolutely done absolutely nothing to disabuse the overwhelmingly dominant view to the contrary, for to do so would put their positions and political grants at risk.

        I am mystified as to why you ask a question feigning ignorance of this.

      • OK, you doubt that the majority of mainstream scientists are being honest in their publications, or have you switched from the dangers of AGW to catastrophes proposed by CAGW? How do you distinguish dangers, risks, disasters and catastrophes? Is it just wordplay to avoid talking about the dangers and risks of climate change and the resulting need for action? Would you only act on catastrophes and not on dangers and risks of disasters? This is just a semantic sideshow to the real debate on risks and preventive actions. And the mainstream scientists do talk about risks at 2 or more degrees and the need for mitigation.

      • Oh dear, more complex obfuscation and feigining ignorance of my really simple point : like growing numbers of people, I do not confuse the mainstream vested-interest advocacy science precommitted to a conclusion, for the real thing.
        Do they posses a lot of scientific knowledge? Of course they do. But are they seeking truth ? Only truths consistent with the precomitted (alarmist) conclusion.

      • Precommitted? How so? Does this apply to Tyndall and Arrhenius? Precommitted to what their physics says, more like.

      • Tyndall wasn’t in an era of ever growing government. Didn’t hide data etc etc.

      • Science is only “precommitted” to science. Science informs. If the science tells you that certain actions lead to lots of warming that is information for you.

      • Jim D, peer pressure and “publish or perish” stimulates bias. A climate critical paper takes forever to struggle through peer review. An “unprecedented” paper sails through in a week.

      • Publishing something shoddy can seriously damage your career. Peer review serves as a protection from doing that. If a shoddy paper gets through, the editor takes the heat as well as the authors.

      • No Jim, peer review does not prevent publication of shoddy research if the results are in line with the view of the reviewers.

      • There are many journals to publish in. If it is any good it will be published, and sometimes even if it is not (see Monckton et al.).

  13. We are going to S P E N D our way out of CAGW.
    The real “term” to pay attention to is MAGA.

  14. The expert opinions changed over the years, should we really believe that corals don’t survive a 2 degree rise despite far higher temperatures in the geologic past?

  15. Sites such as rationalwiki are a joke and should be laughed off the internet by anyone who is, actually, rational.
    This is a great video explaining how the scam works. This one is for wikipedia, but it takes very little imagination to extrapolate to rationalwiki:

  16. Actually, Dr Curry, what the climate alarmists most generally are talking about – the media reporting about – is catastrophic climate change. And again, they seldom refer to any of it as anthropogenic (though it’s implied) – giving the audience the impression that all climate change (thus the proposed cause, GW, as AGW) is anthropogenic in nature. Nothing anymore by these alarmists is presented as naturally occurring – current, nor their future CACC predictions.

  17. Why do the denizens of Rational Wiki call CAGW a “snarl” word? My guess is that it’s because they’ve been caught out on what they’re trying to imply with their 97% meme. It’s the biggest “bait and switch” in politics!

    • Canman, note that even in their own terms, by which terms denier / denialist is also a (more serious) snarl word as noted (with more on this in footnote 11), it is *not* snarl currency to say ‘CAGW narrative’ for instance (and other appropriate usages per the post), in relation to all the listed quotes from the exampled authority sources and similar expressions, because this narrative as propagated by all the presidents and prime ministers and high ministers and UN elite and religions and NGOs and businesses and influencers claims support for a high certainty of imminent global catastrophe, which the AR5 chapters do *not* actually support (let alone anything skeptic). As the post notes, there is an insightful and very stark contradiction between the strong objections raised by orthodox folks to ‘catastrophe’ being associated with mainstream / IPCC science via the ‘CAGW’ acronym (by some relatively uninfluential skeptics on some blogs), and the completely free pass for a typically much more emotive association of the catastrophic with mainstream science by all those hugely powerful / influential authority sources listed, who indeed are driving global policy via that scary association. The orthodox who object to ‘CAGW’ when associated with mainstream science, should be objecting at least as strongly regarding the (unsupported) catastrophe narrative from all those authority sources, but they never do. This exposes the real nature of their relationship to catastrophe concepts, only okay if deployed in support of the cause, otherwise something to be squelched.

  18. Andy, You do a good job of highlighting the asymmetry of the position of the science community. They have been very strong in condemning and trying to delegitimize skeptical scientists. They have been mostly silent about the catastrophe mongering amoung the more extreme NGO’s, politicians, and some scientists. A more neutral position would have helped their cause more I think.

    I noticed your reference to the Australian open letter was signed mostly by non-climate scientists, largely from biological sciences.

    • Thanks :) Yes, environmental science / environmental biology, and also into medicine, seem to be particularly into the catastrophe narrative. Perhaps a combo of more care for people / environment, but no actual idea of what the underlying science actually says because it is not directly their area. Hence more vulnerable to emotive arguments via this combo.

      • @andywest2012

        “Perhaps a combo of more care for people / environment”

        More likely the very opposite. Care for people/environment involves care about matters of truth above all else. Where the latter is absent you can be absolutely certain that the former is also absent. The absence of the latter also explains the claim of care.

      • aporiac1960:

        Those who are emotively convinced, generally think passionately that truth is on their side. And the power of the catastrophe narrative is its ability to emotively convince. Correct me if I’m wrong but I think you are claiming that entire disciplines (and those most devoted to care), are knowingly acting untruthfully. This is highly unlikely to say the least. Notwithstanding a few bad apples in any barrel (and this barrel is large), these people are behaving honestly, but they happen to believe in a myth. We do not call all the world’s religious adherents untruthful for happening to believe in a myth. Same thing.

  19. A few comments. I think that CAGW is indeed often used as a label that is intended to dismiss the views of others; they’re catastrophists, ignore them. In terms of public discourse, this seems a pretty standard tactic. One problem, though, is that it typically doesn’t distinguish between those who are claiming that some kind of major catastrophe is unavoidable, and those who are highlighting a serious issue that we might want to think about doing something about. There is a vaste difference between those claiming that something catastrophic is now unavoidable, and those pointing out that if we don’t do something then we might be heading for something that we might end up describing as catastrophic.

    • ATTP “One problem, though, is that it typically doesn’t distinguish between those who are claiming that some kind of major catastrophe is unavoidable, and those who are highlighting a serious issue that we might want to think about doing something about.”

      Surely those who are arguing that “there is a serious issue that we might want to think doing something about” would be decrying the claims of the catastrosphssts (if your distinction is real). Personally, I can’t think of a single example (except for skeptics, that is).

      • aporiac1960 :

        look through the example quote lists from authority sources within the footnotes file. Via one narrative variant or another they all express a high certainty that absent action there will be an imminent (decades) global catastrophe (or using equivalent terms), and also that mainstream science underwrites this claim (which is not the case). Yet the great majority most certainly believe that something can still be done about it. I presume you are thinking along the lines that this narrative conforms to logic, but this is not the case; it is emergent and convinces emotively.

      • I agree with ATTP that there is a vast difference between those claiming that something catastrophic regardless of action, i.e. biblical prophesied Armageddon, versus a long-term human challenge.

        The reason that the climate change issue has more similarities with the classic doom prophecy then simple problem recognition is its political usage. Now I realize that a global problem is going to have some level of international winners and losers but an example of where we had a global problem that was not over-politicized was the ozone layer attach by CFCs. Though there was no way to absolutely prove that CFCs were harming the ozone, the lab science was sound enough, and the mitigation response reasonable enough, that consensus could be reached on action.

        Climate is a naturally chaotic feature that affects everyone’s life daily. Convincing people that heat waves are more extreme than remembered or that hurricanes are more powerful is just too easy. And to every drought, flood, tornado or freak weather event on one’s political enemies is just too convenient.

        ATTP, if people like yourself stood up to the political abuse of the issue you would have done more to help build a mitigation consensus than all the trash talking of “deniers” you could muster.

      • Ron G,

        if you look through the very many quotes from authority sources, you’ll see that while everyone is claiming catastrophe (or equivalent via different terms), only a very small number indeed are claiming nothing can be done about it (although there maybe 3 or 4 examples). Of course, in many cases the claimed solution is dramatic however. I couldn’t agree more on push-back though; as the post notes, mainstream science per AR5 does not support a high certainty of imminent (decades) catastrophe, yet the orthodox never push back on the catastrophe narrative that says exactly that this is the case, which narrative is propagated by all those immensely powerful / influential authority sources. But they are more than happy to push back on a few skeptics at blogs when they similarly associate mainstream science with the catastrophe, via the ‘CAGW’ term. All their objections not so mysteriously evaporate when it comes to objecting to the same association from world authorities who are pushing the cause.

      • Andy, my point was that humanity has the time and ability of likely success in addressing CO2 emissions through alternative energy and better storage. Telling exaggerations and vilifying debate will likely not accelerate political consensus for anything. It’s just gratuitous tribal jabber. Here is an example of a typical news article from the 90% liberal media on Trump’s lukewarm reaction to the USA’s national climate report:

        “”Trump has long said he distrusts the consensus by nearly all the world’s respected climate scientists on the link between human activity and rising temperatures, as well as other damaging climate change phenomena.”

        Wow. Where does one begin?

      • Ron G:

        I think I get what you’re saying. But what I’m saying is that the social phenomenon and the cultural behaviours it triggers (including tribalism, more in some countries than others, and with different alignments), dominate the application of science or reason on this issue. So we must acknowledge this. (And these behaviours are entangled with the science too). This will result, among many other effects, in all sorts of falsities and exaggerations, but most of which are *not* consciously produced – mostly instead by passionate belief or passionate rejection. Yet vilification soon follows in such an environment, although folks always think they’re justified by the perceived bad behaviour of the other side. This is an emergent phenomenon, no-one is in control and no-one is able to direct high motives to the right place; through iterative selection, emotive persuasion has a kind of agenda of its own. So for instance all the authority sources in the exampled quotes have for many years propagated the catastrophe narrative, which claims that mainstream science supports a high certainty of imminent (decades) global catastrophe, yet this is false. However, those authority sources are not lying, they wholly believe this. Where does one start indeed? Well perhaps push-back from mainstream science, as you imply, on this false narrative. But it never happens.

      • Andy, I agree with ever point you make. The bottom line is that excepting in time of war, when one needs to physically destroy one’s adversary rather than persuade them, honesty is the best policy. Any time one finds an omission in facts presented to them, whether by a car salesmen or an authority, trust is lost. Trustworthy is number one Boy Scout Law of the 12, and the other 11 are ways to support trustworthiness.

        I trust Dr. Curry and Nic Lewis’s honesty in their climate science investigations and I trust their reports. Although I feel Mann’s or Hansen’s reports are sincere I feel they’re responsibilities to their cause is a conflict to their responsibility to science. MBH98 is a travesty. But the National Academy’s conclusion, that although Mann’s methods were flawed his conclusion was correct, is an even larger travesty. We do not excuse baked analysis just because they conclude what we think we already know. My impression is that way too many scientists feel they are too important to be cautioned by Feynman’s famous words: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.”

        The USA National Climate Assessment has been in the news for 3 days and we have our first farmer yesterday to claim confirmation that Trump killed his crop: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/indiana-soybean-farmer-witnesses-effects-of-climate-change-in-ruined-crops/

      • Ron G: agreed. And very long ago I was a Scout :)

    • ATTP:

      Per the post, the term is appropriate in relation to the catastrophe narrative from all the exampled authority sources whatever they happen to say regarding potential avoidability, because their narrative claims a high certainty of imminent (decades) global catastrophe, and also that this is a judgement from mainstream science. The AR5 chapters do not support a high certainty of imminent global catastrophe, so the narrative is false and it does indeed earn the a ‘catastrophic’ characterisation (with or without the CAGW acronym). By dint of the same reasoning, it is inappropriate to use ‘CAGW’ purely in relation to mainstream science per AR5; this science doesn’t have a catastrophic judgement. Thus per paras / links in the post, those scientists who do propagate the catastrophe narrative, aka a high certainty of imminent (decades) global catastrophe, oppose the IPCC because it doesn’t support their views.

      • Thanks Andy, I was going to say much the same.

        Whether or not CAGWers claim a likely catastrophe within a reasonable planning window is contingent on their preferred policy is hardly a relevant point, given that their goal tends to be promotion of a strongly emotive rationale for that policy. They’re still making a prediction outside the bounds of mainstream science, and much of the mainstream tends to turn a blind eye because they have similar goals.

        Javier, by contrast, has certainly made some interesting but non-mainstream claims about future climate catastrophe, but generally projects low confidence and a window thousands of years in the future, and little to no dependence on a preferred policy.

    • The problem with “doing something about…” is that it invariably means sending men with guns out the door with clear orders to coerce those less than quick about showing obedience. The misanthropic disaster narrative also tracks Soviet predictions for the year 2017 set forth in a 1960 storyboard: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsc4Y5AXEo0 Some of us are more alarmed by armed coercion today than incoherent prophesies of future harm not discernible from the raw data.

  20. It is useless to argue with people who refuse an open discussion.

  21. I’ve been following Dr. Curry’s blog with interest and respect for several years. Not being a scientist, specifically a climate scientist, I have rarely commented here, as a retired oil/gas engineer with a (modest) MSME major in Thermodynamics. In my discussions with friends and relatives, many of them concerned if not terrified by the prospects of imminent Catastrophe save we “do something” I often refer them to the almost universally praised IPCC reports, well aware of Mark Twain’s: “Classic- a book which people praise and don’t read”.

    I am curious if some of the scientists (even Dr. Curry) contributors to this blog would find the time/inclination to reply on my views here (tall order).

    Here are some key excerpts very seldom even mentioned in the public domain; link below and quote:
    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/AR5_SYR_FINAL_SPM.pdf

    AR5 summary: “Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have increased since the pre-industrial era, driven largely by economic and population growth, and are now higher than ever”.

    Thus “to do something” would mean slowing down or even reversing economic and population growth when everybody knows or should know that that is just not doable?

    On the many laments about the impacts of AGW, quote:
    AR 5 WG Chap 10: ” For most economic sectors, the impact of climate change will be small relative to the impacts of other drivers (medium evidence, high agreement). Changes in population, age, income, technology, relative prices, lifestyle, regulation, governance, and many other aspects of socioeconomic development will have an impact on the supply and demand of economic goods and services that is large relative to the impact of climate change. {10.10}”

    This speaks volumes, are we looking at the wrong drivers? Or rather, based on first link, little can be done on population growth (soon an additional 2 billion all from underdeveloped countries will join us, VERY high confidence) and we should be paying attention to the “other drivers”?

    Further on the much touted SR15, link and quote:
    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/special-reports/sr15/sr15_spm_final.pdf
    “Human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 1.0°C of global warming5 above pre-industrial levels, with a likely range of 0.8°C to 1.2°C. Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate. (high confidence) (Figure SPM.1) {1.2}”

    As Dr. Curry simply noted that since the 1800’s were colder than today, “we’ve already blown thru 1.5deg” and…my note: what happened besides great economic/social/political advancements across the board? Nonetheless often accompanied by attributions of extreme weather events to AGW, without proper scientific investigation. Is that a valid argument I should be having with my friends?

    On the US Gov. 4th report on CC, with the 10% GDP loss warning if status quo continues, but really hedged (even by CNN0 as worst case).
    Here’s a very interesting link https://web.stanford.edu/~mburke/climate/map.php on impacts of unaddressed causes of AGW on specific countries. Hint: Canada and Russia are great beneficiaries, the rest of the countries are, to various degrees, losers.

    Final thoughts: I may be accused of cherry picking, but surely the IPCC authors would say like Pontius Pilate: “Quod scripsi, scripsi”. I tell my friends and family the following: that these reports are multi layered, evolutionary in nature and require patience to read and while no dissenting views are reported (as they should), the cited risks and uncertainties and verbal hedging are very telling, after all, most if not all “predictions” are models based and look how many models out there, all containing bands of uncertainty. Further, I surmise that climate scientists, just like us engineers and also say doctors feel obligated for various reasons, to present the worst case scenarios. Of course the politicians and others on both sides of the spectrum (catastrophist and deniers, I dislike both “slurs”) use these worst case scenarios to advance their agendas.

    On the “US (especially now) is not “doing enough” to curb, reverse, stop, etc. AGW, I refer everybody to our country’s successes in contrast to the rest of the world: 1.2%/yr GG reductions (thanks partially to fracked NatGas), no. 1 in Wind power generation, 1/3rd of electric power still coal based but dropping, most additional recent coal production increases going to exports. Even our population growth has levelled off, it would actually drop without immigration. Many States within US have already instituted additional GG reduction measures. Also, using the US Supreme Court MO, why not publish/encourage dissenting views on the US Gov. CC Reports?

    I am soliciting some replies, in the sense that above positions I take based on quotes from IPCC represent valid, solid arguments to placate the gloom and gloom pervasive among my social and professional circles. I have thick skin.

    • The late Dr. Carl Sagan believed the only way to slow and eventually stop world population growth was for all nations on earth to industrialize — recognizing full well the societal and environmental risks of moving towards full world industrialization.

      As I’ve said a number of times here and on other blogs, the only way to reduce the world’s carbon emissions faster than the eventual arrival of Peak Oil will do it is to first put a stiff price on carbon; and when that approach loses its effectiveness as it inevitably will, to use the heavy hand of government to enforce a mandatory program of aggressive energy conservation measures combined with direct rationing of all carbon fuels.

      If and when the day comes that people are faced with the prospect of making important personal and economic sacrifices in the name of fighting climate change, that’s when the public debate over the validity of today’s mainstream climate science will go critical mass. But not before.

    • Victor Adams,

      The premise that underlies the belief in CAGW is wrong. Global warming would benefit the world. It is not a threat. It’s beneficial. But it’s almost impossible to have a rational discussion about this.

  22. Talking points of pissant progressives and skeptical curmudgeons alike always miss the point altogether. It prompted me to revisit an old story.

    But both sides of the climate battle continue to insist on a certainty that is impossible – and continue a battle in which one side is heavily outgunned. The climate change battalion is all of the global scientific institutions, the liberal press, governments, major scientific journals, etc. Opposed is a ragtag collection of a few marginalized cheer leaders for curmudgeons with crude and eccentric theories they insist is the true science. The curmudgeons are remarkably persistent – and climate shifts may give them a strategic advantage as the planet doesn’t warm over the next decade or two. The battle is absurd and unwinnable – by either side.

    The rest of us are concerned that the real objectives of humanity are not lost sight of. It is simple in principle to take the initiative on the broad front of population, development, energy technology, multiple gases and aerosols across sectors, land use change, conservation and restoration of agricultural lands and ecosystems and building resilient communities. What we really want is much more clarity on effective policy responses – a focus on the real issues of global economic progress and environmental protection. Emissions of greenhouse gases or loss of biodiversity are far from intractable problems — but economic growth is the foundation of any practical measures. https://watertechbyrie.com/2015/06/08/attrition-in-the-climate-trenches/

  23. I wonder if it’s true that the catastrophe narrative isn’t part of mainstream science? Where I live it is; I have PhD (chemistry) relatives and MS engineer relatives who believe that catastrophe is the accurate term.

    When they say “catastrophe” these people mean right now, opposed to the main thread of the above essay which implies that the catastrophe is in the future. And this is where I think the misappropriation of causes has one of it’s greatest effects and is most misleading: now any climate-related disaster is proof that it’s not happening in the future but right now. Wildfires? Climate change happening right now. Hurricanes? Climate change happening right now. Coral bleaching? Climate change happening right now. Increasing ticks? You got it, climate change. The disaster is unfolding right before our eyes.

    Those of us who can’t “see” this are the deniers. Where I live, we have scientists promoting this sort of thinking.

    • Same where I live.

    • Don132:

      increased possibilities for ‘catastrophes’ of a local / specific nature (some you list), even lots of them, do not mean a high certainty of an imminent (decades) global catastrophe that will engulf the world, which mainstream *climate* science per AR5 (the IPCC reports are what the world points to for judgement on ‘the’ science) does not support. Nevertheless, all the authority figures in the many example quotes (in the footnotes file) propagate the catastrophe narrative that *does* claim a high certainty (absent action) of imminent global catastrophe. A narrative that therefore is false. So do many scientists, about 50 are listed in footnotes 6 and 7. But the majority of these are not climate scientists, and per the body of the post regarding those who are, those climate scientists who *do* believe in an imminent global catastrophe have to oppose the IPCC exactly because it doesn’t support this judgement of the catastrophic. Hence they’ve defined themselves outside of the de-facto mainstream. But scientists generally are no less subject to emotive persuasion regarding the catastrophe narrative, and in fact probably more so than the general public, because through a loyalty to ‘the fraternity of science’ they are more likely to (wrongly) believe that the catastrophic is the conclusion of their colleagues within other disciplines. Certain areas such as environmental science (which is adjacent to climate science), seem particularly to have taken onboard the catastrophe narrative. One of the biggest issues in this is that mainstream climate science appears never to push back on the catastrophe narrative, as the post notes.

      • Andy, you describe the different roles of climate vs. environmental scientists. This arises from the bundle of fundamental assertions making up the CAGW belief.
        https://rclutz.files.wordpress.com/2017/07/climate-stool.png?w=1000&h=716
        The climate scientists are expected to prove that humans are causing global warming by their burning of fossil fuels, and thus the future can only become warmer (hotter) as atmospheric CO2 rises. Meanwhile the environmentalists are focused on the second premise, namely that the warming is dangerous. Thus, anything from Acne to Zika virus will get worse with further warming, as expected from billions of research dollars devoted to such studies. Of course, the weakest assertion of all is that the catastrophe can be avoided by government insisting on 100% wind and solar power.

      • Ron C,

        Looking through the quotes (it’s a education, I recommend it) I’d say that a lot of the environmentalists seem to be utterly and passionately convinced regarding an imminence of global catastrophe, and work backwards from there. The level of emotion has to be seen to be believed. But this doesn’t mean they’re being dishonest, quite the reverse; for anyone who truly believes in the catastrophic, their highest duty would be to shout about it.

      • Ron C, sorry short reply dropped into moderation, hopefully out soon.

      • Andy,

        I agree that mainstream climate science doesn’t support imminent catastrophe from CO2. I also agree that, as you say, “mainstream climate science appears never to push back on the catastrophe narrative ….”

        So this is why we have, in particular, one climate scientist who goes around the state spouting the narrative that the catastrophe is happening right now, right here, and to prove it we have recent events like Tropical Storm Irene. There are “signs” everywhere: the dying polar bears, the melting arctic, the wildfires, rising sea level, and the ocean that is swallowing the heat and will later release it in a tipping-point catastrophe. It really is a global catastrophe unfolding before our eyes. Only a fool can’t see this.

        But as I’ve said many times, to a hammer everything looks like a nail.

        It’s a great card-trick, and Oreskes’ et. al. wonderful film of the “Merchants of Doubt”– the master narrative, really, that guides so many of my friends who believe in it– was one of the greatest tricks of all, a card trick pretending to expose a card trick while at the same time playing a more elaborate trick on the audience. Not bad.

        The good news is that I think (hope?) people are starting to get wise to all this. Maybe a good winter will help.

  24. blockquoteSo setting aside the snarl implications of the word ‘denialist’11 above

    We should not set aside that “denialist” is a snarl word, which is used widely by the climate alarmists. Much more should be done to expose and emphasise the hypocrisy of the CAGW alarmists than of labelling as “denialists” those who challenge the foundations of the CAGW alarmists’ beliefs.

    • I should probably have said ‘for the purposes of this exercise’, not setting aside more generally 0:

      • Thanks Andy. I hope you will write a post on “denialists” and related terms are snarl words. It is much more derogatory term than CAGW (which is an accurate abbreviation for what they believe and preach). “Denialists” and related terms are loaded with derogatory meaning, CAGW is not.

      • Peter, its rather tucked away, but footnote 11 in the footnotes file does say it is far worse. And also though it’s not really what you were after, you may recall a couple of years ago I posted here to point out that the entire basis from academia on the testing for and understanding of ‘denialism’, was in any case completely flawed. It allows anyone to call out any group as ‘deniers’: https://judithcurry.com/2016/04/21/the-denialism-frame/

      • Andy,

        the entire basis from academia on the testing for and understanding of ‘denialism’, was in any case completely flawed. It allows anyone to call out any group as ‘deniers’:

        In that case I call out all those who believe that global warming is a threat, or would be dangerous or catastrophic, as deniers of the relevant facts. Almost none of them can provide evidence or sound argument that it would be dangerous or catastrophic. They’d prefer to talk about temperature projections than debate the impacts of the projected temperature changes. They dodge the relevant facts like a plague. When they realise they are on shaky ground they resort to avoidance, dodging the issue, changin the subject, and ultimately to the derogatory responses, like denialist and denier.

        I did look at Note 11 before I wrote my first comment, but did not read right through it.

  25. Here AGAIN is Dr Rosling’s audit of Human progress from poor and sick to wealthy and healthy 1810 to 2010. This BBC video only takes 4 minutes of your time, but you may learn something. Boy the Industrial Rev and fossil fuels sure were terrible, NOT.

    OH and his research was THEN financed by the US State dept under the Obama admin. I know the extremists prefer their fantasies about their fantasy earth but this is the actual data since 1810. How many fools would really like to turn the clock back to the start or mid point or even 1950?

    And here AGAIN is Dr Rosling’s TED talk trying to dispel the ignorance about the modern world. The so called educated elite are no better than Chimps at the Zoo. Just watch the first 5 minutes to understand the problem. And he shows there has been a massive drop in extreme weather deaths over the last 100 years. Just look up the data. Who would really want to turn the clock back to say 1900?

  26. I understand that the fantasists also prefer their mitigation fantasies, but in the real world China now generates 66.7% of TOTAL primary energy from coal while the US generates just 17.1%. Here’s the data from the EU based IEA and please also note the generation from clueless Geo+ S&Wind energy.

    Little wonder that Dr Hansen called Paris COP 21 “just BS and fra-d”. So when will they wake up and start to live in the real world?

    Here’s China. https://www.iea.org/stats/WebGraphs/CHINA4.pdf

    Here’s the US. https://www.iea.org/stats/WebGraphs/USA4.pdf

  27. Some of the people in my circles, with airs of superiority, reg. 1.5 deg. C limit, invoke the Precautionary Principle buttressed by the inevitable tipping points as proof positive of systemic worldwide ruin soon and inevitable to be upon us. When I mention the wickedness of the CC problem (Hydra’s head), after assuring them that it is scientific term, that the solutions are at best clumsy, never the less they label those like me as science deniers, repeating the old mantra: science is settled. But like Nordhaus Jr. wrote: If The PP is invoked at 1.5 deg. C it should be valid at current 1.0 deg. C. And so it goes: if you have a problem with Apocalypse Now, you’re a retrograde denier.

  28. In typical usage ‘CAGW’ may be followed by words such as narrative, message, story, line, debate, controversy, mantra, meme, myth, scare, hysteria, hoax, scam, religion, cult, cause, movement, believers, faithful, crowd, advocates, promoters, proponents, consensus, theory, hypothesis, premise, claim, case, conjecture and various others.

    How about snarl logic other examples of Leftist insanity? For starters… what did Western teachers say when Al Gore compared Earth’s future to what we see on Venus if we persist in driving our own cars instead of taking a bus to work? Venus is the only planet that spins backward and one day there is 8 months here! We shouldn’t even hire global warming alarmists as teachers who are unable to make themselves aware of simple facts about Venus that show comparisons to Earth are ridiculous–e.g., the surface of Venus is like being atop a piston in a diesel engine at the top of the compression cycle!

    Leftist global warming dread is the bounty of capitalism and the endless opportunities of individual liberty. It is scarier to the Left that we’re just along for the ride with weather good or bad thanks to nature. They prefer to believe as Western school teachers now preach, that humanity has become the devil and is calamitously heating the globe and will destroy the Earth no matter what we do… except that, belief in Al Bore and Obama will stop the seas from rising.

    How much more Leftist-inspired global warming alarmist holy war against capitalism can we live with? Climate alarmists proclaimed our children would never see snow again by now! As an obliging media keeps the spotlight on them, climate-researchers continue on their suicide mission, despite the fact that we see observational evidence in the real world that simply does not support the data and the adjustments to the data and all of the variables and parameters used by climate scientists’ with their GCMs (General Circulation Models) to invent a pseudo-reality and alarmist forecasts.

    Western public-funded academics of a government education complex who wish to continue living the lifestyle that they blame on others for increases in human-caused CO2 now point to record N.E. cold as further evidence of global warming. Socialists have trouble admitting mistakes.

    The Western Academia/EU/UN/MSM Leftist alliance is a wedding of ideals grounded in opposition to the foundational principles of Americanism– respect for individual liberty and for personal responsibility guided by a Judeo-Christian heritage and the liberal philosophy of the founders.

    Fake science and news, phony solutions to phony problems, a phony 97% consensus of opinion about inevitable global warming doom Western academia says we all face as the EU hands out Nobel prizes for fabricating ever more alarming unverifiable mathematical models… it’s a racket.

  29. My practical experience. The term gets in the way of meaningful conversation. Same as denier.

    Yes yes we can construe arguments to justify the use of these terms.
    in the end, however, it’s how a term is used that matters.

    Neither term, dener nor CAGW advances the conversation. Not that anyone is actually interested in advancing understanding.

    Hey Great idea ! Lets talk about italics as opposed to block quotes!

    • Thanks, Steve

      In trying to think through that path myself, I came upon the problem that there are genuine catastrophe ‘things’ (technical term) hooked onto the concept of AGW, such as the manifest catastrophe narrative as exampled in the many footnote quotes. This is a big deal thing, which needs discussing. It’s not so much whether this happens via an acronym or via the expanded ‘C’ word, but the fact that without either the things can’t get discussed. They become taboo. However, it’s also the case that one should not use the acronym or the word catastrophic (which is typically applied in a generic and ill defined manner) to something which is not. The catastrophe narrative claims a high confidence of imminent (decades) global catastrophe, hence ‘C’ applies, but mainstream science per the AR5 chapters does not, hence ‘C’ doesn’t apply. I thought about the use of alternatives (see footnote 27), which have been proposed before, but ultimately this doesn’t solve the problem, and only creates a breathing space before the new term would likely pick up the same aggression (and it would have to be a similar term anyhow). If indeed we are interested in advancing (which indeed could be a minority pre-occupation), then the least worst answer is to use the term for that which it correctly describes and not for that which it doesn’t. However, such a usage cuts into assumptions on both sides of the divide, so it may indeed not pick up too many fans 0:

    • SM: My practical experience. The term gets in the way of meaningful conversation. Same as denier.

      Yes yes we can construe arguments to justify the use of these terms.
      in the end, however, it’s how a term is used that matters.

      CAGW and denier are not the same. One of them is a personal attack that invokes the religious bigotry and hatred associated with the Holocaust. The other is specific to climate science. Alarmist is not mentioned in the post, but even that is not equivalent to denier. The equivalent counter would be denialist.

      • Ron
        who said they were the same?
        not me.
        Go argue with someone who holds that view

      • Ron

        “SM: My practical experience. The term gets in the way of meaningful conversation. Same as denier.”

        Do you understand what this means.
        It means they have the same effect,
        not that they are the same in ALL respects.

        Bullets and poison have the same effect, they both will kill you. but they are not the same

  30. It is the people of the left that are anti-science. Examples: Opposition to genetically modified food. Opposition to gamma radiation to preserve food. Animal rightist against medical research. Genetic underpinnings of all human traits including race, intelligence, … . Denial that people have a sex determined by genes. Claims that human diversity in science research would bring about new science which is to say that science depends upon culture. DDT even in small amounts is bad — this has caused 100s of 1000 to die.
    I am getting tired, but if I had enough energy, I am sure that I could enlarge this list greatly.

  31. If indeed mainstream science does not preach catastrophe, have they done to disabuse the public of this mistaken notion ?
    Or are they happy for the attention and funding this alleged falsehood brings them ?

    • As noted in the post, mainstream climate science never pushes back against the exampled authority sources who are all propagating the catastrophe narrative, which falsely says that mainstream science supports a high certainty of imminent (decades) global catastrophe (absent major action). Yet they are typically affronted if a mere skeptic should associate them with the catastrophic; this affront evaporates when it comes to confronting the fact that much of the world’s leadership plus rafts of lesser authorities and influencers too, are doing the same thing. But this is for the cultural cause. Major bias in action.

    • Andy
      What evidence is there of even feeble* Consensus ‘affront’ at being mislabelled catastrophist ?

      * Your point taken though that so great is the feeblesness, it evaporates the instant their status and grants are thought to be threatened.

      • bfjcricklewood, climate blogs including this one as a start, and other media such as twitter, wherein the orthodox strongly object to any association of their position (or the position of mainstream science, generally these are claimed to be the same) being associated with the catastrophic by skeptics via the ‘CAGW’ label. There is affront that their position is misrepresented (and indeed AR5 mainstream science does not support a high certainty of imminent global catastrophe). This affront and their objections do indeed evaporate completely when it comes to confronting the many authority sources who are all making the very same association of the catastrophic (except more emotively!) when propagating the catastrophe narrative, per the example quote lists. These authority sources are all given a free pass, and the orthodox, whether scientists or just supporters, typically make no objection and never push back.

      • Andy
        I understand what you claim is. I’m asking if there are any actual examples of affront you can point to.

      • goodness, I’ve never bookmarked any of them. Objections to ‘CAGW’ labelling are not rare. (Jim D strongly objected to me using it right here at Climate Etc some time back, until I pointed out that my own usage was not a labelling of mainstream science, but of valid catastrophist phenomena).

  32. I want to celebrate ambitious Australian and US climate targets. The US target was a 46% reduction. Trump is right. Paris is a charade. You will do it by fracking and keeping all the gas for yourselves. And of course by reducing carbon intensity as rich economies having been doing for decades. And by innovation no doubt – I could you some interesting USDA data on soil carbon for instance.

    Australia will do it honestly by caring for country, reducing carbon intensity, vehicle efficiency. ozone and HFC reduction and technology innovation. We still have some left over from Kyoto if we need it.

  33. Andy, here’s how I employ CAGW: If it predicts a catastrophe by 2100 under BUA, I consider it an instance of CAGW. I consider “imminent” (say by 2040 or 2050) to be beyond CAGW, or “alarmist.” Climate scientists’ views span a spectrum, as the survey below documents. I consider the 41% of the alarmed by 2100 to be in the CAGW camp.

    This George Mason Univ. poll [run for them by the Harris polling organization in 2007] http://stats.org/stories/2008/global_warming_survey_apr23_08.html surveyed 489 randomly selected members of either the American Meteorological Society or the American Geophysical Union. It did not cherry pick the respondants who gave them the answer they wanted, and it asked more sophisticated questions [than the Doran and Anderegg surveys], below:

    Under its “Major Findings” are these paragraphs:

    “Ninety-seven percent of the climate scientists surveyed believe “global average temperatures have increased” during the past century.
    “Eighty-four percent say they personally believe human-induced warming is occurring, and 74% agree that “currently available scientific evidence” substantiates its occurrence. Only 5% believe that that human activity does not contribute to greenhouse warming; the rest [11%] are unsure.
    “Scientists still debate the dangers. A slight majority (54%) believe the warming measured over the last 100 years is NOT “within the range of natural temperature fluctuation.”

    “A slight majority (56%) see at least a 50-50 chance that global temperatures will rise two degrees Celsius or more during the next 50 to 100 years. (The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change cites this increase as the point beyond which additional warming would produce major environmental disruptions.)

    “Based on current trends, 41% of scientists believe global climate change will pose a very great danger to the earth in the next 50 to 100 years, compared to 13% who see relatively little danger. Another 44% rate climate change as moderately dangerous.”

    IOW, 59% doubt the “catastrophic” potential of AGW. I wonder if that number would be higher or lower now, after many flat years followed by a spike.

    • Thanks, Roger. Useful, albeit all the catastrophe narrative examples shown here (whether from authority sources or indeed scientists) are very general and mostly way over the top, so clearly in the catastrophist camp. That link didn’t work for me, it redirects to what looks like a stats home page for ‘senseaboutscienceusa.org’. The survey I Iink in the post is later in date but pay-walled, so only have highlights from wiki.

  34. Pingback: CAGW: a ‘snarl’ word? | Watts Up With That?

  35. Catastrophe will happen – as soon perhaps as next week – with major changes in climate in as little as a decade. Just why – anthropogencic or intrinsic – is a more difficult problem by orders of magnitude. Reducing anthropogenic risk – from changing the composition of the atmosphere with unknowable biological, hydrological and climate consequences for God’s sake – can be done in pragmatic ways.

    Australia outperformed its first target under the Kyoto Protocol. Our Direct Action Plan on climate change has us on track to meet our commitment to reduce emissions by five per cent below 2000 levels by 2020, which is equivalent to 13 per cent below 2005 levels.

    The task of meeting Australia’s 2020 target has fallen over time. In 2008 Australia’s abatement task was estimated at over 1.3 billion tonnes of emissions reductions. This has fallen to 236 million tonnes of emissions reductions.”

    Australia outperformed our Kyoto commitment – the grey bit in the graphic – in the land sector largely. Not quite caring for country in the sophisticated indigenous peoples way – but getting there.

    No amount of warming or greening is good matters a damn.

  36. The greenhouse effect was coined by Joseph Fourier “l’effet de serre”
    And with serre Fourier had the Serres d’Auteuil in mind:

    • Delightful as these greenhouses are, Fourier never lived to see them– they were built after the Eiffel Tower. Cast iron columns and glass were first combined into a high rise greenhouse 1840 in Syon Park’s orangery, prefiguring the Crystal Palace by a decade.

  37. Has Andy compared the relative frequency of incidence of the word ‘catastrophic’ in climate science journal articles to that of the usage ‘CAGW’ in posts and comments in blogs cited by Climate Depot , the GWPF, and WUWT ?

    We’ll all feel better when he does.

    • Hi Russel, may I ask did you read the post? It points out that mainstream / AR5 science is *not* ‘catastrophic’ and doesn’t earn this label, so I’m not sure where you’re going with that. I point to Jacobs et al which reinforces same for mainstream climate science generally. I recommend against inappropriate usage of the term. Can you make your point clearer please?

  38. That should read :

    Of course Andy – it raises a question of semantic agression versus the semantics of general usage :

    Did CAGW ever exist outside of anti-global warming polemics?
    It is a question incidence counting can solve, so please get to it.

    • Your question is answered in the text if you bothered to read it. Further just because you are interested in incidence counting doesn’t create an obligation on the part of the writer to share your interest.

    • Russell, as atandb notes, I don’t believe you’re raising anything about ‘CAGW’ that the post (and associated footnotes) doesn’t cover.

    • Russell
      Rightly or wrongly, in global warming polemics, close to everyone on the planet associates AGW with catastrophe. Crucial in cementing this misunderstanding, is the duplicitousness of the climate science profession in keeping silent on it, for fear any such honesty would damage their status and grants.
      So the ‘CAGW’ cap unquestionably fits. The only reason Consensus polemicists and apologists object to it, is that they didn’t think of it first. So now they snarl.

  39. The recent IPCC “1.5 degree” report from Seoul was absolutely catastrophist, through and through. Looming catastrophe in primary colours. How many “mainstream” climate scientists distanced themselves from this report?

    • From the post: ‘However, notwithstanding plenty of catastrophe narrative ballyhoo30 from usual voices regarding the new SR15, as the content itself indicates31 there seems little chance that the steady and incremental evolution of the IPCC reports will change to a dramatically different position for the full AR6, or indeed afterward. See 30 & 31 in the footnotes file.’

      ‘How many “mainstream” climate scientists distanced themselves from this report?’

      Probably none. From the post: ‘It’s difficult to see how this false backing could ever be questioned in the public mind, unless the mainstream science community pushes back far more strongly against such assertions. Meanwhile the fringe camp, i.e. those scientists (general and climate disciplines) comfortable with catastrophic projections, are much less shy about pushing authority with their concerns.’ The fact that mainstream science / AR5WGC doesn’t support a high certainty of imminent global catastrophe, doesn’t mean mainstream scientists push back on the false narrative. On the contrary, they typically give it a free pass.

  40. Andy, given this, you still maintain that CAGW (like formalized religion) is not a hoax (footnote 39 I believe).

    Would you settle for a “charade”?

    • Mark,

      ‘Would you settle for a “charade”?’

      I don’t think so, because the dictionary definitions mostly seem to imply deliberate / conscious sham / act / faking, although there’s a spread of meaning. Above all, this is an emergent social phenomenon that works by subconscious mechanisms, which mechanisms are shared for instance with religions, per my footnote you reference. For the great majority, the bias and self-policing via which orthodox adherents or indeed mainstream scientists fail to oppose the catastrophe narrative propagated by so many authority sources, is part of the subconscious behaviour that exists to define a group (which via gene-culture co-evolution, is supported right down at the level of brain architecture, we literally think differently regarding group cultural beliefs). We don’t think of those who have religious bias (and only ~150 years ago essentially all scientists were religious) as participating in a hoax or scam or deliberate charade. We just think of them as (potentially very) biased due to their beliefs (and even today there are far more religious believers on the planet than non-believers, albeit via different religions, and still including many scientists). It’s the same thing. And the many exampled authority sources who propagate the catastrophe narrative are not lying either, they believe what they say, but their connections to any reality that might challenge this belief are tenuous, especially considering that indeed mainstream science makes no attempt to correct their error! (Skeptical science can’t either of course, because the same group behaviours demonise this, but the irony is that you don’t even need skeptical science to see that the catastrophe narrative is wrong).

      It’s true there’s also a few bad apples in every barrel, plus a fringe of noble cause corruption, yet these are not the prime / causal effects.

      I will settle for catatsrophism (a high certainty of imminent global climate catastrophe, absent drastic action), being a ‘belief’.

      • Thanks Andy.

        I would put Obama, Kerry, Gore, Moon, Mann, Holdren, Macron etc. in the “fringe of noble cause corruption” if not “bad apples”. Do you really think that these people are not “the prime/causal effects”?

      • Mark, the many authority sources exampled, including those you list, are a very major aspect of the problem due to their combined sheer weight of influence. Some of them are the highest authorities we have. However, while social analysis doesn’t tell you anything about individual motivations (and a few will always be bucking the bulk effects), Obama, Macron and nearly all the other leaders and high politicians listed are not involved in the science anyhow. And it is overwhelmingly likely that they are doing nothing dishonest at all, i.e. even via the route of noble cause corruption. So they are merely (passionate) believers, not corrupted believers; hence symptom not cause, despite their amplifying role. For responsible leaders who are convinced of global climate catastrophe, it is their duty to speak out. The problem is that the convincing happened via emotive cultural mechanisms, and not reason. For those who are involved in core climate science, there is much more tension between the emotive catastrophe narrative and the knowledge that mainstream science doesn’t support its claims. Hence much more clash between biases and reality, so greater risk of a slip into noble cause corruption, which likely will happen to a few. But merely staying silent due to the strong blinds of bias, as the majority do, instead of objecting to the catastrophe narrative, is not dishonest however much we may dislike such. When once I finally got my point about the catastrophe narrative across to a climate scientist after many circles when he didn’t even grasp what I was saying, he quite literally waved his hands and said (I paraphrase), “oh, well that’s just a few politicians saying stuff. All politicians say stuff, so what?” You could tell from the surprise on his face he was being absolutely honest, and really didn’t see that the world’s leadership putting out the catastrophe narrative over many years was any kind of major problem. What’s much worse, is that he’d genuinely never even considered this aspect before our conversation! Strong cultural bias can so skew a person’s view of events, that you wouldn’t even know they were living in the same world. With such industrial grade bias involved, there’s no need to invoke dishonesty, which anyhow is a much weaker force, too weak to sustain a major global phenomenon. Not to mention you’d then have to invoke conspiracy as well, because all the many dishonesties would need to be closely coordinated to match what we see. This is not a conspiracy; the real explanation is not only much simpler, cultural behaviour of this kind has happened endlessly throughout history.

      • Mark, reply fell into moderation, hopefully out soon.

      • Andy, I really appreciate your replies.

        I just find this all very frustrating in that my ongoing tilting at windmills as I try to shed some light on this subject with relatives and friends is doomed to failure. All my hard work to understand and explain goes out the window when put in the context of big deal politicians, verbose biased media and the pontification by learned societies.

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  44. Andy,

    It is not surprising that CAGW does not appear in the scientific literature since, in the climate science context, ‘catastrophe’ does not have a scientific definition. It can, however, be precisely defined when viewed in its proper, risk management context, i.e. ‘catastrophe’ is the posited level of impact that justifies the investment of trillions of dollars to reduce the risk to acceptable levels, irrespective of the likelihood of said impact materialising. When I use the acronym ‘CAGW’ I am referring to the hypothesis that such a risk exists. To that extent, I believe I am referring to a mainstream, scientific view, i.e. the view that the impacts of concern cannot be ruled out. That said, agreeing a risk tolerance level is ultimately a political decision. Consequently, CAGW proponents are taking a political position as much as a scientific one, whether they choose to use the CAGW epithet or not.

    • John,

      Of course the acronym it isn’t scientifically defined. I’m still required to parity check the RationalWiki claim for this post, however. Nor do the many authority sources listed in footnotes use the acronym anyhow, as noted it is almost exclusively used by skeptics now (and not within main media). Likewise the high certainty of an imminent generic global catastrophe is not defined either, yet this *is* the main feature of the catastrophe narrative as put out by all the authority sources (trawl the quotes), which claim is hence unsupported by mainstream / AR5WGC (let alone skeptical) science. Where a proper risk management context occurs (e.g. per Chapters II / III of AR5), for specific and possibilistic scenarios with appropriate hedging and caveats, this indeed is not then ‘catastrophe narrative’, yet such context doesn’t occur with all the authority propagation (many example quotes given), nor is it implied by the typical usage of ‘CAGW’ (whether deployed appropriately or inappropriately). Did you read all of the post (and also companion post ‘the catastrophe narrative’)? Both the catastrophe narrative, and so also the appropriate labelling of ‘CAGW’ for this or its adherents, claim a high certainty of imminent global catastrophe (absent drastic action), *not* that only ‘a risk’ of same exists. The scientific hedging is all lost. Propagation of the catastrophe narrative is not primarily political (it aligns to different politics in different countries anyhow, where it aligns at all). It occurs due to emotive conviction; it’s a cultural belief, though often allied to different political wings in different places.

  45. Andy,

    “Likewise the high certainty of an imminent generic global catastrophe is not defined either, yet this *is* the main feature of the catastrophe narrative as put out by all the authority sources.”

    My comment wasn’t disputing the existence of a narrative premised upon “the high certainty of an imminent generic global catastrophe.” Instead, I was challenging the assumption that the nuanced position taken by the scientific community cannot, likewise, be interpreted as a “catastrophe narrative”, albeit of a less simplistic nature. Furthermore, I was making the point that the term ‘catastrophe’ is, in fact, definable. It just requires one to see the definition in terms of the level of risk management investment to which one is prepared to commit in order to reduce the risk to an acceptable level. In fact, any other basis for definition would lack the required societal salience.

    “Where a proper risk management context occurs (e.g. per Chapters II / III of AR5), for specific and possibilistic scenarios with appropriate hedging and caveats, this indeed is not then ‘catastrophe narrative’…”

    Except, I find plenty of ‘catastrophe narrative’ in Chapters II / III of AR5. One just has to drop the false assumption that catastrophe is only relevant when the likelihoods are high. A scientist that considers a high impact possibility to be of low likelihood is not necessarily saying that the risk is therefore low or, more to the point, at an acceptable level. This issue used to be a big talking point in the days when the precautionary principle was central to climate policy. We live in less sophisticated times nowadays, and the catastrophe narrative to which you refer tends to focus upon persuading the public that the likelihood of high impact scenarios is greater than it is and that the uncertainties undermining likelihood calculations are lower than they are. But this doesn’t alter the fact that CAGW is a reference to posited high impact, and so can be applied to both high and low likelihood scenarios.

    “Propagation of the catastrophe narrative is not primarily political…”

    When I referred to a political position, I was not referring to party or national politics. I was simply referring to any decision-making based upon policy (often informed by science). For example, risk management strategies are necessarily premised upon a policy that sets the threshold for acceptable levels of risk, policies regarding the acceptable options for risk transfer, policies regarding action under uncertainty, and so forth. At the end of the day, risk management is all about the formation of policy and its implementation. So I am not saying the ‘propagation of the catastrophe narrative’ is political; instead, I am saying that all risk management narratives are. That doesn’t exclude the possibility that they also have cultural and emotional dimensions, but it does mean that one should recognize that statements such as “the science has been settled” really mean that “the matters of policy have been settled to the extent that no further clarification of the science is required”.

    “Did you read all of the post (and also companion post ‘the catastrophe narrative’)?”

    Yes, I did read all of the post. Why would you suspect I hadn’t?

    No, I did not read the ‘companion post’. Why would you assume I had? It’s not as if your post wasn’t already clear enough.

    • John,

      “Instead, I was challenging the assumption that the nuanced position taken by the scientific community cannot, likewise, be interpreted as a “catastrophe narrative”, albeit of a less simplistic nature”

      I’m pretty sure I’ve made no such assumption. If you think so, can you point to it? Indeed I clearly say that the mainstream science (and so also science community) does *not* support the catastrophe narrative, and also footnote 15 emphasises that the proper context of ‘catastrophes’ within AR5WGC (i.e. where the term is in fact defined in various ways for various purposes within different sections, some of which are associated with risk management and some of which for instance are associated with ‘normal’ catastrophes like century scale episodic river flooding, plus various other uses), neither separately or cumulatively adds up to the claims of the ‘catastrophe narrative’ which is so heavily propagated in the name of ‘the’ science.

      As mentioned there is a minority of climate scientists, and rather more non-climate scientists (about 50 together listed in footnotes 6 and 7), who for sure propagate the catastrophe narrative (i.e. definitely in its high certainty / ill-defined / highly emotive etc manner). These are a minority typically opposed to the IPCC, so not part of the mainstream community, and nor are these expressions in the scientific contexts that would make this a proper definition of any kind.

      “Except, I find plenty of ‘catastrophe narrative’ in Chapters II / III of AR5.”

      As noted, either cumulatively or separately, none of these (or other language including abrupt / collapse) amount to a high certainty of imminent global catastrophe, which is what the catastrophe narrative *does* claim.

      “One just has to drop the false assumption that catastrophe is only relevant when the likelihoods are high.”

      But the whole point here is that this falsity essentially *is* the catastrophe narrative!! As propagated by all the authority sources exampled, and many more.

      “We live in less sophisticated times nowadays, and the catastrophe narrative to which you refer tends to focus upon persuading the public that the likelihood of high impact scenarios is greater than it is and that the uncertainties undermining likelihood calculations are lower than they are.”

      No. The catastrophe narrative as propagated by all the exampled sources have always claimed a high confidence of catastrophe (absent action). The examples cover almost all the 21st century, and the only reason I haven’t gone back further is that it gets harder because most stuff wasn’t on the Internet then.

      “…CAGW is a reference to posited high impact, and so can be applied to both high and low likelihood scenarios.”

      But the catastrophe narrative as propagated in public per all the example sources manifestly doesn’t cover low likelihoods; propagation is in the vernacular and typically drops all reference to scientific hedging. While some hedging could still occur in the vernacular too, where it does this is not catastrophe narrative by definition, it is (at least a basic, which may or may not give a proper impression) attempt to contextualise, per say a mainstream science position (and of course actually within the science, i.e. within AR5WGC, this happens all the time and with the proper bounding language). But as as climate scientist Mike Hulme puts it regarding generic expression (footnote 15b): “To state that climate change will be ‘catastrophic’ hides a cascade of value-laden assumptions which do not emerge from empirical or theoretical science.”

      An *appropriate* usage of ‘CAGW’ may reflect the catastrophe narrative or its adherents say. As emphasised all the way through an *inappropriate* usage of ‘CAGW’ would be to apply it to mainstream science, where proper definitions *exclude* its main claim of a high certainty of imminent global catastrophe. While ‘CAGW’ is used both appropriately and inappropriately, it is always regarding this sense of the catastrophic, and *not* to something properly bounded.

      “So I am not saying the ‘propagation of the catastrophe narrative’ is political; instead, I am saying that all risk management narratives are.”

      This is trivially true. But one assumes the norm for risk management narratives is that they nevertheless cleave to what science knows before applying their political dimension. In this case the mainstream science is challenged by minority sceptical science, but the catastrophe narrative which indeed drives policy (it is frequently propagated in the context of being the main and highly urgent reason to act), is *not* supported by mainstream science anyhow, let alone the sceptical challenge. And this is due to an emotive conviction, supported by a strong culture with all its attendant features.

      “Yes, I did read all of the post. Why would you suspect I hadn’t?”

      Because you seem to me to have got completely the wrong end of the stick with this post, and also make a challenge (at the top of this comment) that for the life of me I can’t recall being anywhere in my writing. I included mention of the companion post in case there was some context that needed both to understand, which maybe had been missed (they are meant to be independent despite referencing each other, but that doesn’t mean I wholly succeeded).

  46. Andy,

    I can’t help but feel that your response begs the question. Of course, low probability, high impact scenarios don’t feature in the catastrophe narrative if one chooses to define the narrative as excluding such scenarios. However, I am challenging the legitimacy of such an exclusion. It is all very well providing an impressive list of examples in which catastrophe has clearly been equated with certitude, but that doesn’t prove that catastrophe has to be equated with certitude in order to qualify as a catastrophe narrative. I thought I was making a constructive contribution when I pointed out that there is a fine tradition of eschatological thinking within the climate debate that isn’t even predicated upon known probabilities, let alone high ones. Take for example, the following statement issued by UNESCO’s Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge, back in 2005, regarding the various, existing formalisms of the Precautionary Principle, as applied in low certitude scenarios:

    “Application of the Precautionary Principle is limited to those hazards that are unacceptable; although several definitions are more specific: Possible effects that threaten the lives of future generations or other groups of people (for example inhabitants of other countries) should be explicitly considered. Some formulations refer to ‘damage or harmful effects’, some to ‘serious’ harm, others to ‘serious and irreversible damage’, and still others to ‘global, irreversible and trans-generational damage’. What these different clauses have in common is that they contain value-laden language and thus express a moral judgement about acceptability of the harm.”

    I think such statements qualify as a catastrophe narrative, i.e. they allude to a level of harm that is sufficiently plausible, and sufficiently serious, as to justify invocation of the Precautionary Principle. We may disagree upon how prominent such thinking has been, both past and present, and we may even choose to use the expression ‘catastrophe narrative’ differently, but I don’t think such disagreement warrants any theories on your part that assume a lack of intellectual attention on mine. If I had wanted that style of debate I would have gone to WUWT.

    In point of fact, I wonder if your interpretation of my position arises because you have assumed that anyone who debates your ‘catastrophe narrative’ thesis would have the good grace to debate it as defined (by you) when, in fact, it is the completeness of your definition that I am challenging. For the avoidance of further doubt: You appear to assume that ‘catastrophe narratives’ embody certitude, and I maintain that such embodiment is increasingly commonplace but does not have to be taken as definitive. Are you now saying that you never said that catastrophe narratives necessarily embody certitude in order to qualify?

  47. John,
    “However, I am challenging the legitimacy of such an exclusion”

    But I didn’t make the exclusion. The catastrophe narrative is emergent; the world made this narrative via emotive selection.

    “It is all very well providing an impressive list of examples in which catastrophe has clearly been equated with certitude,”

    Which list happens to include over many years, presidents, prime ministers, high ministers, the UN elite, religious leaders, NGOs, rafts of other authorities and orgs and influencers etc. Cumulatively, there is massive influence from their many years long propagation of a high certainty of imminent global catastrophe. It is not just ‘all very well’ to point this out, it is *the* critical feature of the domain.

    “…but that doesn’t prove that catastrophe has to be equated with certitude in order to qualify as a catastrophe narrative.”

    The propagation of the catastrophe narrative from all the above impressive A-listers and others in no way precludes all sorts of other narrative, which nevertheless in a two word summary is not ‘catastrophe narrative’ if its main principle isn’t one that we’re certainly doomed, absent drastic action. Some of these other narratives, whether still subject to some bias or not, will even have some influence. But the narrative elephant in the room is nevertheless the catastrophe narrative, and there is not a stronger influencer list that could possibly be assembled for its propagators; until the exception of the current US admin this includes most of the highest / most powerful authorities there are. And whole rafts of subsiduary authorities too.

    “I thought I was making a constructive contribution when I pointed out that there is a fine tradition of eschatological thinking…”

    Per above, I have never not acknowledged any such narratives, or indeed their (comparatively little) influence compared to the catastrophe narrative as propagated by the impressive authority list above. These just don’t happen to be particularly pertinent to the post or indeed the main domain drivers. If this is merely about semantics, it seems so, well we have to call the critical consensus narrative something, and its difficult to think of two better words.

    “I think such statements qualify as a catastrophe narrative…”

    This level of inclusiveness ultimately leads to promoting everything that happens to include any view of, or indeed any inclusion of the word catastrophe / catastrophic, or indeed any equivalent language, to the bucket of catastrophe narrative. So then we’d need a different term to describe the (emergent) massive influence narrative elephant that is propagated by the impressive A-list above, because this is the uniting cultural consensus narrative that is the most critical feature of the social phenomenon, and hence must be ID’d separately to the noise.

    “I don’t think such disagreement warrants any theories on your part that assume a lack of intellectual attention on mine.”

    I haven’t proposed any ‘theories’, or assumed any lack of intellectual attention on your part. I said you seem to have gotten the wrong end of the stick on this post, which happens frequently in complex domains due to all sorts of reasons but misunderstandings / mismatch of terms and positions is the most frequent, and indeed I pointed out that this may be due to my not having provided the appropriate / best context (why I pulled in mention of the other post that might supply more).

    I don’t really even know what you’re saying in your last para, however…
    “You appear to assume that ‘catastrophe narratives’ embody certitude…”

    There is manifestly a ‘catastrophe narrative’ from all the exampled authorities that does embody certitude. It is the linking narrative of the culture of catastrophism. This in no way rules out hosts of other narratives, which nevertheless are not the linking narrative of the culture of catastrophism, and happened not to be important to the post or a big key feature of the domain.

    “I maintain that such embodiment is increasingly commonplace but does not have to be taken as definitive.”

    As noted, the given examples with certitude cover the twenty first century, and there is more before; propagation by more authorities and more types of authorities, and with move diversity of variants (which always happens to evolving cultural narratives) is quantitative, not qualitative. Memes of imminent climate catastrophe have lurked within human society essentially forever, and take on the cloaks of current times / issues, including that of existing authority, be this science or religion. It is frequently noted that climate doom due to cooling not warming briefly achieved high propagation in the seventies, and indeed some of its proponents transitioned smoothly from cooling to warming as the latter gained more popularity.

    “Are you now saying that you never said that catastrophe narratives necessarily embody certitude in order to qualify?”

    No. I’m saying I never ruled out whole hosts of other narratives related to the domain or to the wider consideration of the concept of catastrophe, and I don’t believe there is anywhere in the posts that does this. I have even pointed out some of said concepts within AR5WGC. We have to name the high certainty of imminent global catastrophe something, because this is the critical narrative of the domain, and the ‘catastrophe narrative’, per the opening lines of the first post, is not only the most reasonable name, it is via ‘CAGW’ also the inherent meaning of the ‘C’ element that ties to catastrophe in the ‘catastrophe narrative’. ‘CAGW’, whether deployed appropriately or inappropriately does not refer to properly bounded and specific catastrophe scenarios or discussions (e.g. on risk management or much else). Skeptics use this to refer to the narrative elephant in the domain, aka certain doom without drastic action (and related phenomena such as ‘followers’). I hadn’t grasped until now that this seems to just be about semantics (if indeed my grasping is correct); if you want to call it ‘doom narrative’ or whatever instead to distinguish it from every other potential angle on catastrophe, then fine, but this neither ties to ‘CAGW’, or to the obvious fact that the most common word via which the catastrophe narrative (in the sense used in the post) is expressed in those many quotes, is ‘catastrophe’, so it may not catch on.

  48. Andy,

    “But I didn’t make the exclusion. The catastrophe narrative is emergent; the world made this narrative via emotive selection.”

    There you go again. You are treating ‘catastrophe narrative’ as an expression that is somehow self-defining. It isn’t. It is a phrase that you borrowed for the purposes of your post and you chose to define it in a way that helped you make your point – a valid point, I’ll grant you, but not the only point of interest. If you extend the definition, other interesting points emerge. For example, the point that, whilst the majority of climate scientists probably think the extreme scenarios are unlikely, they still might think them plausible enough to invoke the precautionary principle. Oh, but I am forgetting that this involves an extension of the definition of ‘catastrophe narrative’ to include what you believe to be nothing more than background ‘noise’. Maybe you should be telling that to UNESCO and the authors of the London Declaration, the Rio Declaration, the EU Communication on the PP, and the many mainstream scientists who do not buy into the catastrophe narrative, as you define it, and yet would still happily invoke the precautionary principle in order to rule out even the possibility of catastrophe.

    I’m sorry, but I refuse to continue this debate on the premise that you get to decide how words should be used. You are not Humpty-Dumpty. If you want an acronym that best matches the narrative to which you refer, try ‘CCAGW’ – Certain Catastrophic Anthropogenic Warming. In the meantime, I’m happy enough to continue using CAGW in the sense implied by its initials, i.e. with no assumption of certitude. It is a meaning that is at least consistent with your ‘elephant’ narrative, whilst also applying to the mouse narrative used by many mainstream scientists.

    • John,

      I’m not sure why you seem to see this as so important. It seems like a minor semantic issue to me, excepting the acronym usage (at end) which is already established and not likely to change.

      “If you extend the definition, other interesting points emerge.”

      Using the term catastrophe narrative, already aligned to ‘CAGW’, by no means rules out any of the other interesting (or indeed mundane) points within the debate, including that which you mentioned. And indeed I myself introduced some text on such regarding mainstream science usage. If you think I’ve ruled out any such points, quote the section of the post which does this. No post covers all aspects of the debate, especially in a limited word count, and there’s no reason why it should. Such points happen not to be germane to the post, except to note that indeed they aren’t ruled out, which footnote 15 exactly does in relation to all the main other catastrophe concepts within AR5WGC, which itself covers the bulk positioning of climate science (so inclusive also of related disciplines and concepts, for instance that ‘catastrophe loss’ is a common term in the insurance industry sucked into WG II / III), and of which none amount to a high certainty of imminent global catastrophe.

      “…the many mainstream scientists who do not buy into the catastrophe narrative…”

      I took great pains throughout to point out that mainstream science and scientists do *not* buy into the catastrophe narrative, even if it’s simultaneously the case that the majority do not actively object to its propagation by authority. And any amount of reasonable discussion about catastrophe possibilities is not propagation of a false meme about the certainty of catastrophe, which meme clearly requires a name. Narratives that explore various low-probability possibilities inclusive say of specific catastrophes (e.g. increased hurricane frequency or ice shelf loss) and / or policies regarding same or whatever, do not have ‘catastrophe’ as their principle defining feature. To call such ‘catastrophe narrative’, instead of say ‘precautionary principle’ narratives or ‘worst case probability’ narratives or ‘cascade’ narratives all related to climate, or similar naming, would unduly weight the emphasis on catastrophe anyhow (yet which weight is entirely appropriate for the actual catastrophe narrative). However, as long as the narrative elephant that is propagated by the whole authority list remains clearly and separately identifiable, given this is the principle feature of the social phenomenon of (indeed) CAGW, precise terminology wouldn’t matter excepting that the domain has already acquired some usages…

      “If you want an acronym that best matches the narrative to which you refer, try ‘CCAGW’ – Certain Catastrophic Anthropogenic Warming.”

      See footnotes 27 to 29 that note alternative proposed names and issues thereof, which I covered. But notwithstanding this coverage, regarding de-facto domain usage…

      “In the meantime, I’m happy enough to continue using CAGW in the sense implied by its initials, i.e. with no assumption of certitude.”

      By all means carry on. However, this is simply not the sense in which the vast majority of the domain (on either side) uses or perceives the term.

      • Andy, if scientist do not buy the castastrophic narrative, why was RCP 8.5 made up? And which scientists are stressing that we are “right on track” on the RCP 8.5 path, although the fundamental assumption of RCP 8.5 is impossible technological standstill ?

      • Hans, I am not defending (or attacking come to that) mainstream science at all, but within the AR5 Working Group Chapters, nothing points to a high certainty of imminent (decades) global catastrophe, which the catastrophe narrative as propagated by all the listed authority sources, does claim. Even regarding RCP8.5, which is *not* likely within AR5. Mainstream science with any scenario or output does not support the imminent global catastrophe that all the leaders and many others claim that it does support (absent drastic action). So the narrative fails even by its own terms, i.e. even without any skeptic challenges or legitimate questions such as yours regarding the viability of specific assumptions.

  49. Scientist have declared that two degees is the end of the corals, and its very likely that we will hit two degrees if we “do nothing”. IPCC has adopted this hypothesis as fact.
    Article: Frieler, K., Meinshausen, M., Golly, A., Mengel, M., Lebek, K., Donner, S., Hoegh-Guldberg, O. (2012): Limiting global warming to 2°C is unlikely to save most coral reefs. Nature Climate Change [DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE1674]

    • Hans, see footnote 31 regarding SR15, with note on corals.

      • And the “killing of coral catastrophe” is exactly the argument Dutch Greenpeace is now using in the Katowize conference to claim that 2 degrees is not sufficient.
        Why did IPCC adopt the 2 degree coral catastrophe? How did coral survive the PETM?

      • I don’t know the answers to your questions. But even a ‘coral catastrophe’ is not a high certainty of an imminent global catastrophe, or anything close to same.

      • Come on Andy if Limiting global warming to 2°C is unlikely to save most coral reefs is not a forecast for certain catastophe, what is?

      • Hans, I’m not defending the claims in any way. Merely pointing out that for AR5 (and indeed per the early indicators in the footnote, AR15 too), there is simply not support for an imminent global catastrophe as the listed authority sources have claimed for many years. In fact nothing like it. This is why the full-on catastrophist scientists have to break with the IPCC. The new SR15 indeed seems to specifically make a single more definitive exception, i.e. of high certainty of demise for coral; but even a certain catastrophe for coral is not a certain catastrophe for the entire world and everything living on it, which is what the narrative says. It could be an opening gambit to start with something small / specific, with the intent of then trying to go much further for the upcoming AR6. But as things stand right now, a certainty of imminent global catastrophe is not supported by the mainstream science.

      • Ok, point taken, agreed not a teotwawki.

        But then I really want to know where the scientific rebuttal to Frieler et al. is published because corals survived far hotter periods in the geological history of the earth.

      • Here is one for starters:
        Coles SL, Bahr KD, Rodgers KS, May SL, McGowan AE, Tsang A, Bumgarner J, Han JH. 2018. Evidence of acclimatization or adaptation in Hawaiian corals to higher ocean temperatures. PeerJ 6:e5347 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.5347

  50. Andy,

    Whilst your post acknowledges the existence of mainstream scientific proposals that focus upon impacts that may be, or have been, characterised as ‘catastrophic’ in nature, it does so with the purpose of emphasising that they cannot be said to form part of a legitimate ‘catastrophe narrative’; principally, either because they are considered to be insufficiently credible or the scale of the posited impacts is too mundane. Footnote 15, in particular, mentions several examples, but only to demonstrate how they fail, in accordance with your logic, to qualify as examples of a catastrophe narrative, as you define it. That is the exclusion to which I am referring.

    Why do I think it I am making an important point? Because it only requires the posited impact to have some plausibility for the precautionary principle to be applicable – there is nothing in the precautionary principle that allows for a posited serious impact to be dismissed simply because it is unlikely to materialise. For example, your footnote 15 points out that the mainstream scientific view is that there is little prospect of the AMOC collapsing in the 21st century. You claim, subsequently, that the lack of “a narrative of high confidence of global catastrophe” invalidates the use of the acronym CAGW when referring to the IPCC narrative on this subject. What you don’t acknowledge in your post, however, is that the application of the precautionary principle has, hitherto, been a mainstay of climate change politics and, in that respect, there is therefore no requirement for a narrative of high confidence, just a narrative of possibility (no matter how unlikely), in order for drastic action to be justified. There may be mainstream scientific confidence regarding the future of the AMOC but this does not preclude a catastrophe narrative premised upon the imperative of precaution. I see nothing wrong in using ‘CAGW’ when referring to such a narrative. It may not be ‘the’ narrative to which you refer, but it is ‘a’ catastrophe narrative that is hugely influential. It is the precautionary principle that “unduly weight[s] the emphasis on catastrophe”, not those of us who see it as the pertinent concept that it is.

    I don’t believe this is a trivial semantic quibble. There is a significant narrative within the politics of climate change, based around the avoidance of severe impacts (including the likes of ‘global, irreversible and trans-generational damage’) and yet requiring nothing like certitude to justify action. This narrative is long-established, enshrined in climate change legislation and widely accepted. However, if you thought your article was already too long to include mention of it, then fair enough. I’ll say nothing more.

    • John,

      “…but only to demonstrate how they fail, in accordance with your logic, to qualify as examples of a catastrophe narrative…”

      Yet thereby clearly also demonstrating by the very same logic, that these are all perfectly legitimate uses of the word ‘catastrophe’ (or equivalent wordage) within a science and its related concepts that all the way through I’m pointing to as the accepted mainstream.

      “…for the precautionary principle to be applicable,,,”

      Once again, nothing at all within my post rules out this principle, its history, or any other points within the debate. Once again, if you think something in my post does rule out such points, quote it.

      “You claim, subsequently, that the lack of “a narrative of high confidence of global catastrophe” invalidates the use of the acronym CAGW when referring to the IPCC…”

      Yes. Because, unlike your own usage which you say above you’re going to stick to, the domain overwhelmingly considers high certainty to be built into the ‘C’, and this is also the understanding on both sides of the divide. There have been several suggestions of alternatives to ‘CAGW’, and per my above a couple are covered within the footnotes. The offerings from the orthodox side have been (based on the assumption that skeptics will continue to use such acronyms to refer to mainstream / IPCC science among other things) ones that dilute this built-in certainty of catastrophe in terms of either probability or size, or both. Hence the exampled offerings such as P for potentially or E for expensive. The P does the opposite of your suggestion, because the orthodox and indeed skeptics too understand that the certainty is already built in. Expensive because this is less than catastrophic, but its implicit even in this alternative that the expensive is as certain as that which it replaces. Yet all such suggestions will not likely change what has already become well established anyhow. The frequent objections of the orthodox to skeptical deployment of ‘CAGW’ (which indeed is what prompted some of the suggestions of alternative acronyms) is because the former know that certain catastrophe is not the judgement of the mainstream science they follow, notwithstanding further issues have now arisen such as general cultural aggression associated with the term. There would never have been a basis for such objections had the domain interpreted ‘CAGW’ in the manner which you are doing.

      “What you don’t acknowledge in your post, however, is that the application of the precautionary principle has…”

      There are whole rafts of issues within the debate that my post neither explores nor mentions. In no way does this mean either implicit or explicit exclusion of same. Yet again, nothing at all within my post rules out this principle, its history, or any other points within the debate. Yet again, if you think something in my post does rule out such points, quote it. There is tons of narrative of all sorts concurrently with the catastrophe narrative. However, the catastrophe narrative as propagated by all those many authorities including the highest authorities that we have (hence collectively massive influence), falsely claims backing by mainstream science, and is frequently cited as the critical reason to act. The post points out this important issue as part of its remit, which the skeptic side typically miss through not realising that AR5 does not support the catastrophe narrative, while the orthodox side give a free pass to all these authorities at the same time as (in complete contradiction) strongly objecting to skeptics who make an identical association via ‘CAGW’ (and per above the basis of this objection is indeed the high certainty of catastrophe for which the acronym is long accepted domain currency). This contradiction generally goes unnoticed too. Pointing out this situation (and related issues) by no means excludes all sorts of other things happening or discussed within the domain. Such is not grounds for complaining that these thousand and one things are not addressed.

      “I see nothing wrong in using ‘CAGW’ when referring to such a narrative.”

      If you’d got to the term first, maybe, but you didn’t and I didn’t either. The domain uses CAGW inclusive of built-in certainty and this is what it is. I don’t think your attempt at swimming upstream will make any difference to that whatever. Yet neither does this established usage invalidate or exclude any of your discussive points on the precautionary principle, or anything else come to that, so I can’t see why you would even want to swim upstream.

      “I don’t believe this is a trivial semantic quibble.”

      Okay. But the only line of argument you’ve put forward to support your claim that this post excludes other interesting points in the debate, the long role of the precautionary principle included, is based upon semantics. And much of that in turn on saying that an overwhelming understanding of ‘CAGW’ on both sides of the divide, is illogical and should instead be interpreted in the very different manner that you personally use. Well it may be illogical, but not only is the domain highly unlikely to change regarding your suggestion, use of the domain standard is completely appropriate. If you have firmer grounds for your claim of exclusion, by all means present them.

  51. Andy,

    Although I think it is a poor method of argument, that is hindering rather than helping our discussion, I will succumb to using your own tactic of analysing responses piecemeal:

    “Yet thereby clearly also demonstrating by the very same logic, that these are all perfectly legitimate uses of the word ‘catastrophe’ (or equivalent wordage) within a science and its related concepts that all the way through I’m pointing to as the accepted mainstream.”

    So what? I am not arguing about the legitimate use of the word ‘catastrophe’ within the mainstream. I’m arguing that discussion of high impact, low probability scenarios can be legitimately referred to as a ‘catastrophe narrative’, whilst a main theme of your post is that the expression is (and should be?) restricted to discussions that assume certitude of high impact.

    “Once again, nothing at all within my post rules out this principle, its history, or any other points within the debate. Once again, if you think something in my post does rule out such points, quote it.”

    And yet there is nothing in your post that references or even alludes to the principle. If you think that you can write a properly balanced dissertation on the subject of catastrophe ideation within climate science without giving high prominence to the precautionary principle, then you are seriously mistaken. If you think something in your post does take sufficient cognizance of the precautionary principle, quote it.

    “There would never have been a basis for such objections had the domain interpreted ‘CAGW’ in the manner which you are doing.”

    On the contrary, it only requires some of the ‘domain’ not to interpret CAGW in the way that I do in order to provide a basis for objection. The only reason why some people think that there is a need for an alternative acronym, is because some people (too many) have now abandoned the original argument for climate action for a more simplistic argument that does not have to face up to the fact that the science is still full of uncertainties and speculations regarding remote possibilities. Since this simplistic argument is becoming increasingly prevalent, arguments against catastrophe narratives in general are necessarily becoming increasingly focused upon the simplistic version. But we should not lose sight of the fact that Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming means exactly what it says. Just because the term is now falsely assumed by many to imply certitude is not reason enough to abandon its correct meaning. I don’t deny the memetic potency of the existing misinterpretation, I just think it is worth resisting because it misses at least one important point.

    “Yet again, nothing at all within my post rules out this principle, its history, or any other points within the debate. Yet again, if you think something in my post does rule out such points, quote it.”

    Yet again, If you think something in your post goes anywhere near demonstrating appropriate cognizance of the precautionary principle, quote it. Don’t keep going on as if the principle is just one of many peripheral topics that could be safely de-emphasized. In fact, it should have been fully explored in your article so that its corruption by the certitude meme could then be evaluated in its correct context.

    “However, the catastrophe narrative as propagated by all those many authorities including the highest authorities that we have (hence collectively massive influence), falsely claims backing by mainstream science, and is frequently cited as the critical reason to act. The post points out this important issue as part of its remit, which the skeptic side typically miss through not realising that AR5 does not support the catastrophe narrative, while the orthodox side give a free pass to all these authorities at the same time…”

    Just to be clear, I agree with all of that, if by ‘catastrophe narrative’ you mean the ‘we are all going to fry’ version.

    “Such is not grounds for complaining that these thousand and one things are not addressed.”

    No, Andy. Not the thousand and one – just the one.

    “If you’d got to the term first, maybe, but you didn’t and I didn’t either. The domain uses CAGW inclusive of built-in certainty and this is what it is.”

    By the ‘domain’ do you mean ‘all’, ‘the majority’ or ‘an influential minority’ or something else? Your dissertation does a good job of cataloguing examples of a catastrophe narrative that is ‘inclusive of built-in certainty’ but I see nothing in the post detailing the genesis and promulgation of the usage of the CAGW acronym within the sceptical community (I say this without having gone back through all of the footnotes, so I apologize in advance if I have missed it). Instead, there just seems to be a plausible assertion that the latter arose in reaction to the former. However, given that the certitude meme and precautionary memes were both around at the time, I think you need to provide a much stronger argument to support your assertion. As for the current situation, the relative prevalence of narrative based upon certitude rather than precaution is not demonstrated by your post and may even be immaterial. It could be argued that the influence of the certitude meme is of limited importance when the precautionary meme has already been embodied in climate change legislation (see, for example, EU legislation).

    As an aside, may I point out that many of your footnote examples illustrate alarmism motivated by the supposedly certain existence of risk rather than the certainty of an outcome. The narrative that you have held up to be indicative of certitude, and hence justifying the ‘built-in certainty’ version of the CAGW acronym, embodies far more precautionary sentiment than some might think.

    “Okay. But the only line of argument you’ve put forward to support your claim that this post excludes other interesting points in the debate…”

    I actually found the whole tone of your closing paragraph to be arrogantly dismissive. I don’t think there is anything to be gained by my attempt to respond to rhetoric that is along the lines of ‘is that the best you can offer?” Our debate has been robust and driven by conviction on both sides, but I’d rather leave it here if continuing were to mean that we descend into unnecessary rancour.

    I respect you and your article but I am not in full agreement. I would prefer to leave it at that.

    • John:

      “I’m arguing that discussion of high impact, low probability scenarios can be legitimately referred to as a ‘catastrophe narrative…”

      As far as I can see from above, you claimed that I was excluding other interesting concepts relating to or including the term catastrophe, and specifically named the low probability stuff per above. Yet per my above I showed that I not only didn’t exclude such concepts, I actually noted the whole pile of these within mainstream science and related areas as perfectly legitimate. Plus as already noted, to claim that these concepts and similar *must* share the same name ‘catastrophe narrative’, when this doesn’t align to the domain linkage with ‘CAGW’, and indeed when this name would appear to overweight the concept of catastrophe for them anyhow (so precautionary principle narrative, worst case probability narrative, cascade narrative, etc seem generally much more suitable), seems like merely a semantic knot that is easily avoided. As long as the false meme / narrative elephant is clearly and separately defined from that which is not this false meme, I guess I wouldn’t really care too much if we were starting from scratch. Yet OTOH it seems a less than an ideal label for such concepts anyhow, plus the domain has long development too. I still have no idea why you think this semantic point is important; it has no effect on discussion of this principle anyhow.

      “If you think something in your post does take sufficient cognizance of the precautionary principle, quote it.”

      The post makes no attempt to address the precautionary principle, nor many other concepts within the domain too. To demand proof from the post for something it never attempted to address would not be a legitimate request if you know it didn’t attempt such; for future clarification, it didn’t. And inclusion of this concept, plus many others, is not any requirement to demonstrate the narrative of high certainty of imminent global catastrophe as propagated by the many authority sources, plus the use (and mal-use) of the ‘CAGW’ label particularly in relation to that false narrative. You appear to be arbitrarily redefining what the post is about; it wouldn’t be a surprise if it then failed to achieve. Given you are not using the ‘CAGW’ label in the same manner as the overwhelming majority of the domain, perhaps this leads to your PoV about what ought to be addressed (which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s valid). However, the domain usage is a given anyhow, no matter that you disagree with same, or indeed that it isn’t what either you I would likely have chosen regarding a better term. Once again, nothing at all within my post rules out the principle you reference, its history, or any other points within the debate. Once again, if you think something in my post does rule out such points, quote it.

      “Just because the term is now falsely assumed by many to imply certitude is not reason enough to abandon its correct meaning. I don’t deny the memetic potency of the existing misinterpretation, I just think it is worth resisting because it misses at least one important point.”

      No. The term has always included high certainty / probability. And your cause to want it changed is likely doomed. However, even if it should succeed in the future, to require that my post aligns to your desires for such a future is not reasonable.

      “Don’t keep going on as if the principle is just one of many peripheral topics that could be safely de-emphasized. In fact, it should have been fully explored in your article…”

      I have most certainly not de-emphasized it, safely or otherwise. It is simply not addressed by this post, and what the post does address, doesn’t predjudice your topic in any way. I haven’t addressed a thousand and one other things in the domain either, of which no doubt many folks have their favourites that they might have liked me to work into it in some way. Such desires are understandable, but no reason for inclusion.

      “No, Andy. Not the thousand and one – just the one.”

      Indeed, your one. As indeed others folks will have other ones. So… if you believe a critical trick is missed here by something that you think ought to have been ‘fully explored’, such that the main points that this post does address are badly let down in some way by this aspect that ‘should have been’ included, then lay out a full explanation / logic-chain, with examples / quotes from my post regarding the specific flaws and how these would be fixed by your inclusions, plus domain support / usage that aligns to your PoV for support. Maybe Judith would publish it. For sure I’d look forward to commenting on it.

      “Just to be clear, I agree with all of that, if by ‘catastrophe narrative’ you mean the ‘we are all going to fry’ version.”

      Okay.

      “By the ‘domain’ do you mean ‘all’, ‘the majority’ or ‘an influential minority’ or something else?”

      As mentioned a few times above, ‘the overwhelming majority’. No domain so large will be wholly uniform. Skeptical usage of the acronym is not in the mainstream public media, as analysis by others confirms (noted in the post or footnotes, I forget where). Hence you have to find usage spread across blogs, and as over the years I didn’t know as I was going to write this post, I have never saved links. However you can trawl here or WUWT or wherever, all usage I have seen is no way in a precautionary sense. More traffic occurs around deployment that straddles the divide when orthodox folks object to the association of catastrophe (i.e. with it’s high confidence inclusion) being associated with the science that they’re defending.

      “(see, for example, EU legislation).”

      All sorts of things are embodied in climate change legislation from the EU and in various national laws too. I am making no claim about any such within this post; it simply isn’t addressing that topic (and others). It points out that the catastrophe narrative is false, comes in spades from all the listed authority sources (including the highest we have) and many others, plus is correctly described by ‘CAGW’ in the context of what both sides of the domain understands regarding the meaning of this term. And that mainstream science doesn’t (as claimed) support it, which also means ‘CAGW’ is inapplicable within the same domain understanding.

      “As an aside…”

      Search emotively overwhelmed conditionals and morphed conditionals within the footnotes. Risk is generally mal-framed, occasionally starting as though it refers to scientific conditionals, but ending with being conditional only on our (usually very major) action, i.e. the certitude reappears and the meaning of the risks / caveats / conditionals has either been changed, or was emotively overwhelmed from the beginning by opposing certitude in the same text.

      “I actually found the whole tone of your closing paragraph to be arrogantly dismissive.”

      Then you’ve completely misunderstood it. I mean no rancour whatsoever. From my PoV I see nothing but the semantic line of argument as stated, which also in large part appears to rest upon an interpretation of ‘CAGW’ that is not the domain default. I fully accept that you don’t agree with the naming convention, but I don’t see a demonstration that this in any way excludes concepts such as the one you note, or damages the points that the post does make as you claim above (unless I have misunderstood this claim). Regarding the latter particularly, there is plenty to go at regarding setting out a case using my text as part of your logic chain.

  52. What am I Andy? An Andy West denialist? Someone who’s views are just contrarian, and yet I can’t even see how much in the minority I am? Am I part of the 3% that obstinately denies the clear and unequivocal evidence you place before the world? Am I understandably confused by the complexities of the subject? Am I, as you suggest, at liberty to continue holding to my naïve, flat earth outlook, whilst the world happily gets on with tackling reality?

    Honestly, Andy, there have been times during this debate when I have felt that I might as well be arguing with a CAGW advocate. You have written extensively in the past regarding the memetic principles that underpin belief systems, and how these may be discerned in the manner in which individuals engage in debate when their world model is challenged. And yet, when thus engaged, you prove to be the living embodiment of such principles. You’ve thrown everything in the book at me, so much so that I have regrettably come to the conclusion that there is no point in my persevering any further. In much the same way that I stopped trying to argue with those holding religious beliefs, I now see the futility of arguing with you.

    When you get to the point of arrogantly dismissing accusations of arrogant dismissal, you should be asking yourself whether you are in memetic thrall. And before you deign to deny this, just remember that my response could be, “Well you would, wouldn’t you”. But fear ye not. I have every intention of granting you the prerogative of having the final word.

    • John,

      “An Andy West denialist?”

      I have no idea what you’re talking about. Personalities are irrelevant. It is issues that matter.

      Far from requiring you to withhold your own views and stay in isolation, whatever these views are and whether future history should show them to be anywhere from off the mark to totally brilliant insights, I was inviting you to further substantiate the claims that you made regarding my post (and I’m at a loss to see why you’ve interpreted this as the opposite). Upon which post all critique is indeed welcome, but regarding which for substantial claims it is a reasonable expectation that these are then substantiated. These claims include an excluding of various pre-existing interesting concepts within the climate domain, with certain such named, and that the precautionary principle in particular ‘should have been’ included and ‘fully explored’, without which inclusion one must therefore assume, the purpose of the post and the points that it does make must be flawed / damaged / lacking in some significant sense.

      You claim arrogance upon my part, yet I have used no rude words, no rude phrases, and no mood words such as you have projected my way, for instance rancour and indeed arrogance, plus have remained focused upon the issues and questions thereof. Nor do I now or ever desire for debate to be closed down, as your latest implies; I have never said any such above. I get your issue regarding semantics, yet notwithstanding domain defaults, you have not shown how this leads to a validation of your claims above, for instance by demonstrating with quotes / post sections and how your inclusion of that which you believe is missing would fix the flaws / damage. Just in case I have misunderstood the particular claim regarding a deficit of subject material, I added the conditional immediately above ‘unless I have misunderstood this claim’, which gives you the ideal opportunity to correct me if I have misunderstood.

      “You’ve thrown everything in the book at me…”

      What on Earth are you talking about? What book? What throwing?

      Your last paragraphs seem to owe more to passion than to your normal balance, but I’ve no idea what in this exchange has led to such. There should preferably never be a last word, because as you note here an exchange of views is always better than travelling in isolation. And words spoken in passion typically cloud plus impede. There is as you note a large range of discussion on the precautionary principle within the climate domain, with its own proponents, concept spectrum, allies, oppositions, policy, projections, biases (or lack thereof), legalities etc, etc. To invoke such, automatically invokes some kind of reason framing (which for most people would at the very least be some loose rules based on the insurancing model), and such a framing (across the spectra of meaning) is not incorporated within the false meme of a certainty of imminent global catastrophe (per your we’re all gonna fry descriptor). It also tends to lead to other topics, for instance the real insurance industry and Pielke territory for understanding the insights this gives on damage function now and in the future, plus the topic of mitigation versus adaptation, because much insurance policy is and can be more of the latter. Yet notwithstanding that at the extreme small fringe end of the spectra of meaning covered by the discussion / offerings regarding this principle, there is Lewandowsky attempting to leverage it to literally turn the subject of climate uncertainty on its head, the topic is nevertheless not one significant to the points made in this post. There could no doubt be a highly interesting post on same, maybe including the sibling topics too, though I am for sure not the person to produce it. Maybe you could. But at any rate that post is not *this* post. And only if you can demonstrate, in direct relation to this post and its points and building upon your semantics view, why the lack of addressing the precautionary aspect is a significant problem here (along with your other claims), and using specific post references, would I or indeed any readers learn why it is that you so strongly believe this lack is damaging to what is communicated here. It is not arrogance to request this; it is an invitation.

  53. Andy,

    I’m sorely tempted to fully respond to your protests but I did promise you the last word. Even so, I think it is only right that I should summarise the situation as I see it.

    The catastrophe narrative did not start when people decided that the probabilities are high; it started when people started to ignore probability. I’ve tried in vain to convince you that this is not a peripheral issue but is, instead, of central importance to your thesis. You have rejected that view repeatedly, often justifying the rejection by arguments that I have suggested to you beg the question. But when I accuse you of rejecting the view, you simply reject the accusation then carry on regardless.

    I have not accused you of indulging in rancour or of being rude (as a careful re-reading of my comments will confirm). But when you say, “If you have firmer grounds for your claim of exclusion, by all means present them” and then respond to my umbrage at the dismissiveness this implies of my previous attempts, by saying of said statement, “Then you’ve completely misunderstood it”, you have to appreciate the impact that will have upon the target of your criticism. This is not about personalities, Andy, it is just about coming to a point of recognition that there is nothing to be gained by prolonging the debate. You may have an appetite for more but, quite frankly, I’m fed up.

    • John,

      “The catastrophe narrative did not start when people decided that the probabilities are high; it started when people started to ignore probability.”

      Okay; so I think you’ve agreed already that the catastrophe narrative as exampled is what it is from all those sources; essentially via one variant or another it’s the “we’re all gonna fry” thing. So definite certainty, and it essentially crosses the 21st century at least, and likely earlier. Nevertheless, for sure I don’t address here how it started. And while the ‘CAGW’ acronym has always included built-in certainty (I belatedly realised I have some evidence of same from at least 11 years ago in there), it’s also the case that this acronym arose a long way down the growth of the domain, and therefore a long way down the growth of discussion / evolution of various issues within it. Also as noted, this acronym is used almost exclusively on climate blogs, and except for a short time after its arisal, only by skeptics too, because the included certainty pissed off the orthodox helping lead to cultural aggression around the term. So this particular label is limited in both domain time and scope.

      “…of central importance to your thesis”

      Forgive me, but within this seeming confusion of meaning between us, I’m not sure what you think my ‘thesis’ actually is. And therefore whether you’re maybe trying to convince me about something that’s not a significant part of it, or indeed per your latest of something that seems to me somewhat different to before (yes, this could be my lack of prior perception). This post (and the companion post that is more about merely introducing the false meme of the catastrophe narrative and its variants), highlights the manifest existence and authority propagation of the catastrophe narrative (over at least the period of the given examples), and the falsity of it’s claim to be supported by mainstream science, plus the correct labelling and incorrect labelling of ‘CAGW’ in respect of these issues (yes in the sense of built-in certainty per usage on both sides). Yet I wasn’t aware that by citing the topic of the precautionary principle, which indeed we both agree is a wide topic in itself, you were essentially attempting to speak particularly only to origin. This is also an interesting topic, and while evidence to get a hard grip on it is hard to come by, likely involves various other elements as well as indeed the precautionary principle. Yet once the narrative has sufficient inertia, the emotive conviction and behavioural effects it prompts plus its spread and policing etc are independent of the starting conditions (same for any strong cultural narrative), and the starting conditions for this case are not explored here.

      “This is not about personalities…”

      Good. Yes, words can have impacts we don’t always appreciate. And tossing around terms like rancour and arrogance however quite they’re phrased, when I can assure you that I am engaging in good faith to the best of my ability, is high impact stuff. You may consider my abilities poor therefore and maybe you’d be right, but anyhow I think once again that there’s a distinct possibility we may still be talking at cross purposes, which inevitably is frustrating. I think don’t it’s unreasonable to ask, given that I still don’t know, for more about what or how the ‘central importance’ of my post is impacted by your suggestions. However, if you think you’ve already given, granted this will strike a wrong note. Which is why I thought working backwards from what you perceive the post to be about, might be a better start (it seems to me at any rate that somewhere our perceptions have muchly parted company 0: ) Yet if you wish to leave things as are, know that I respect your opinions and engagement, if not always what you say when frustration causes passion to briefly overtake you; robust implies no motive other than keenness.

  54. Andy,

    Now I’m feeling some lurv in the room, it might worth having one more go.

    There is an important distinction to be made between certitude and neglect of probability, as they reflect different mental states. However, they are equivalent in the respect that they can both lead to preoccupation with high impact possibilities. The former (certitude) leads to such preoccupation because the high impact possibilities are professed to be too likely for the risk to be tolerable. In fact, in its most extreme form, the outcome is deemed to be pre-ordained. The latter (probability neglect) leads to such preoccupation because there is no knowledge of, or interest in, the probabilities whereby one can form a basis for accepting or dismissing the high impact possibilities. As far as I am concerned these are distinct categories of catastrophe ideation even though the resulting rhetoric can sometimes be difficult to differentiate (I sometimes wonder if the catastrophists even have the self-awareness to know which of the two mental states they possess).

    However, (and this is a crucial point) whereas those who claim certitude are often being disingenuous regarding the mainstream climate science (or perhaps just being ignorant of it), those who neglect probability can still point to the mainstream science to justify their attitude. This is because the uncertainties in the mainstream science are actually their pretext to ignore the probabilities and focus entirely on the high impact possibilities. As expressed in the Rio Declaration (United Nations, 1992):

    “Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.”

    Another way of appreciating the distinction is to note that there are those who focus upon high impacts because they are risk averse, and there are those who focus upon them because they are uncertainty averse, but there are too many who claim to be risk averse when they are, in fact, uncertainty averse.

    With all due respect, I don’t think your dissertation makes enough of the distinction between the two patterns of catastrophe ideation. By lumping them together, one overlooks the opportunity to rightfully apply the CAGW acronym to those who do not profess certitude but, nevertheless, are guilty of the retreat from reason that probability neglect entails. And I think that probability neglect is more prevalent within the climate change rhetoric than you appear to be conceding. To be clear: the individual who neglects probability is not saying that they are certain something will happen; they are simply forming a view based entirely upon the nature of the impact and the fact that it cannot be ruled out.

    Changing the subject now: To re-iterate, I did not accuse you of rudeness or rancour, but I did say that the tone of one of your paragraphs was arrogantly dismissive. This, and my follow-up observation, regarding the similarity of your debating style to that of many CAGW advocates I have encountered, may have come across as an emotional outburst but I assure that, from my perspective, it felt as though I had been exercising the patience of a saint. If I had wanted to accuse you of rudeness, I think my opportunity had been at the outset when your opening gambit in the debate was to suggest that I had so completely missed the point of your thesis that it was reasonable to assume that I hadn’t even fully read it! No matter how sincerely you may have believed this, it was far from being a diplomatic opening. From that point onwards, most of your effort seemed to be aimed at vindicating your initial position and expressing growing frustration with my presupposed lack of understanding. As a result, continuing the debate became an increasingly unpleasant experience for me. If I, in any way, came across as belligerent in response, I now apologise.

    Be that as it may, I’m quite sure that my latest attempt to elucidate, regarding the use of the CAGW acronym, is the best I can manage. So if it still fails to move you from your current position, and you still think I am totally missing the point, the debate really will have to end here.

    • John,

      Your latest says to me that indeed we must be talking past each other. And far from your perception that I’m defending something to the hilt that you believe needs to be challenged, from my position (albeit maybe still not yours) you are not challenging anything that this post either requires or rests upon or addresses. So your view of apparent immovability regarding something that you’re trying to persuade me about, which after all in various ways you have said is central or important to this post, is in fact something that I’m completely open on (albeit there are other factors to those you mention too, so we’d need a very good audit trail for relative weights of each, see below), and at any rate something I’m not defending against at all. Hence I’ve been completely flummoxed by your repeated claims of intransigence in various ways. Cued by your tag of importance, what I’ve been trying to establish is not your specific view as reiterated immediately above (which via your precautionary principle angle I’ve pretty much already got, albeit iteratively and albeit I didn’t think this was the only thing, though indeed the above summary is useful), BUT… why you think this aspect / issue is key to what the post *is* intended to communicate.

      Possibly you are making some assumptions about what the post is saying and why, which your points would then address, when these are not in fact my assumptions, and indeed this would be understandable as the lack of position on same is not made explicit in any way. I think these assumptions would fall roughly into the categories of ‘sub-populations’, and ‘genesis’.

      Your certitude and neglect of probability groupings essentially represent two sub-populations within the whole culture, of which there are very likely quite a few more (depending on how we bound them). But I make no assumptions about the various sub-populations of adherents to the catastrophe narrative, who cumulatively form the social entity, the memeplex, for which the linking social consensus is this narrative. Just like the many sub-populations within a species, or closer to our case the many sub-divisions of a major religion, their (genetic or memetic) formulas are variations, sometimes subtle and sometimes quite wide, on a main theme that we understand as a kind of average. Within biology, evolution deliberately maintains different sub-populations (balanced polymorphism) because this lends certain advantages, not least an ability to pivot the species more easily to new pressures. But also more operational advantages (the famous one is maintaining a significant presence of normally deleterious sickle cell anaemia genes to protect against malaria). There’s no reason to think this is different for cultures, and indeed we can observe sub-populations (and sub-sub-populations), who to differing degrees and via differing ratios of emotive cocktails (with different distancings from reality), hence indeed different mental states as you note, will nevertheless be signed on to the main / umbrella narrative (yet thus in a range from passively to very actively).

      There all sorts of boundary buffers and entanglements both between sub-populations, and between all sub-populations and reality (in whatever form, including science, from which in the end false memes must be distanced, typically via layers, in order to survive and prosper), and some of these are more obvious than others. For instance see footnote 13 on Rossiter’s very basic model of this for the IPCC (but bear in mind that layers exist not just within the IPCC, and the centre of gravity of the catastrophe narrative, so to speak, is outside not inside this org). To some extent the two particular sub-populations you identify are aligned with such layers, because those layers nearer to reality cannot be credible (i.e. still survive) by following essentially your ‘pre-ordained’ path; being further under the banner of science they have to acknowledge its principles. Yet as you note they can then still hide behind high impact possibilities, which nevertheless outer layers can and typically do translate as support of not just ‘cost-effective’ measures, but ‘full-on measures immediately’ or we’re doomed. It is the existence of structure within memeplexes / cultural entities, inclusive of such layers, that allows such things to happen, and indeed there can be complete contradiction between the positions of different elements within this structure (in the end, to avoid reality some contradictions are generally necessary). Such structure is an artefact of our long gene / culture co-evolutionary path; cultures are much more than the individual beliefs within them, in the same manner that a species is much more than its individuals (so including balanced polymorphism and other group level features). So an interesting thing to note is that wide variants or indeed contradictory sub-narratives cannot exist (at least in the same forms / relationships) without the main umbrella narrative; without the latter the structure collapses, as would therefore all that it is enabling.

      So I’m not conceding or unconceding anything regarding the precise distribution of the various subpopulations (which typically with adherents in thousands never mind many millions are very messy and overlapping and extremely difficult to disentangle anyhow), these particular two or others. No memetic analysis of same has been undertaken, it would be a vast task and far beyond me to do this, not only requiring unprecedented access to all domain exchanges, but enormous narrative analysis via tools in their infancy and almost certainly not up to the job. While in theory the same methods of frequency analysis of gene variants within biological populations apply to memes in cultural sub-populations, just from a practical point of view we have far less grip on this. And you have to get part way down the analysis to see the rough frequency spikes, to be able to make a better judgement of the sensible bounds for sub-populations anyhow. Hence while your thoughts regarding these two sub-populations are eminently plausible, it’s not possible to be definitive about same or where these sit within what is a more complex total picture. In a (very!) primitive way, a scanning of the many variants of the catastrophe narrative gives some clue about populational distributions (I think you may have mentioned something along those lines above), because while they all conform in principle to the chief / umbrella narrative, they nevertheless reveal all sorts of different ways of doing so, which in turn speaks somewhat (albeit with creative interpretation) to the associated mental states (the context notes help a little), and also which per my above regarding morphed conditionals and emotively overwhelmed conditionals speaks to the caveats / risk aspect you mentioned somewhere above.

      I also include the ‘genesis’ aspect because you mentioned how things started out, specifically with reference to the precautionary principle. This is another very interesting area, yet is more difficult to analyse still, because as well as all the above which still applies, during genesis there is not a large audit trail, there is far more evolutionary flexibility / change, the engagement of social structures (and therefore a more mature / constrained, indeed fully policed, phase is not yet under way, although nascent policing via group-think will be arising), there are competitive threads that may not be equally visible, etc etc. And this all occurred before the internet got under full steam, unfortunately, limiting our visibility still further. There are lots of threads to get a partial view however, descriptions from the inside of early climate confs and such, some knowledge of base memes, such scientific exchanges as are still visible, but aside from leader biographies or such very little on the crucial authorities side and key relationships / contributions by NGOs (despite Patrick Moore’s view is helpful). No matter what culture is sparked from elite functions some grass roots support is needed for survival. I’ve probably missed much else. It seems perfectly plausible that the precautionary principle played a significant role in genesis, in fact I’d be willing to say that it’s likely a dead cert. But much else is involved too. I mention base memes because there is always a bunch of these circulating in the population at a low level, waiting for their opportunity so to speak, on climate catastrophe as well as much else. Whole societies have incorporated same as mainstays in the past. A general assumption is that they can seed newer shinier versions that are updated to contemporary issues / appetites, but this is often hard to prove. However, in the climate case we actually have some of the very same people moving smoothly from the scary cooling to scary warming narratives, making it easier to be firm about *some* contribution of base memes. Yet in truth we will likely never know the pattern of which memes had sex with which other memes and how each of these products or intermediate products interacted with aspects of real science or sciencyness, and inclusive of the precautionary principle role, to arrive at a more stable and spreading catastrophe narrative that all the authority sources listed have propagated, and an associated cultural following. And while this is all highly interesting, once the mature phase is reached, it makes no difference to the characteristics going forward precisely how the genesis occurred.

      So apart from categorizing the basic range of variants in the catastrophe narrative, this post is not a deep essay on narrative analysis or memetics and is communicating much more basic points. It makes no statements on population distributions within the cultural umbrella, the range of associated mental states, or indeed about hosts of other narratives that may straddle the boundaries of the culture (so bias but not full belief), etc. It demonstrates the main / umbrella narrative via copious examples, and from a range of authority sources whose cumulative influence has to be huge; it points out that the claim within this narrative that a high certainty of imminent global catastrophe is the judgement of mainstream science, is false, and it goes on to evaluate the issues of such regarding the appropriate and inappropriate usage of ‘CAGW’ (yes, in the sense that both sides use this with built-in certainty however illogical this may be, lack of logic also abounds in cultural conflicts).

      A made point that these straightforward messages don’t explore all sorts of interesting depth and complexity beneath, is absolutely fine. In 4000 words I’m not going there, and indeed the details of genesis and sub-population distribution are not needful to many other valid aspects of climate catastrophe culture as well as to this particular post. But a point that the existence of such complexity, or at least particular aspects of it, seriously impacts the points which are made, is what I’m struggling with. I’m not rejecting your freshly restated points, far from it. But I don’t see how they impact the points of the post per the summary a few lines above, i.e. makes these ‘wrong’. I have made no assumptions here regarding either genesis or sub-populations; but this isn’t explicitly stated anywhere so maybe this is what you’ve assumed?

    • John Ridgway: With all due respect, I don’t think your dissertation makes enough of the distinction between the two patterns of catastrophe ideation. By lumping them together, one overlooks the opportunity to rightfully apply the CAGW acronym to those who do not profess certitude but, nevertheless, are guilty of the retreat from reason that probability neglect entails.

      Your posts contain a number of interesting ideas that do not, in my opinion, detract from Andy West’s main contributions in his two essays. First, with a consistently used definition of “catastrophic” he demonstrated that the meme, or claims, of “CAGW” are widespread and found at all levels of authority. [Willis Eschenbach proposed a broader definition, according to which there are even more examples of “CAGW”]. Secondly, that “CAGW” might be used as a snarl word, but generally isn’t.

      In the quote, you propose [the start of] a taxonomy of kinds of catastrophe ideation. Maybe a good idea for a future essay; each group can be further subdivided, as with making a tree or unsupervised computational classifier. But it certainly does not contradict Andy West’s demonstration that CAGW is widespread and found at all levels of authority. Furthermore, and in contrast with Andy West’s essay, you provide no examples of the usefulness of the taxonomy that you propose; among those who consistently deny that CAGW has any definition at all, or among those who claim that CAGW is well-enough defined, who cares that the classification can be refined? Writers here like Jim D and Atomsk’s Sanakan?

      So, as I wrote, interesting ideas, but hardly disputing Andy West’s essays.

      • Mathew,

        I ask that you appreciate two things:

        Firstly, it was not my intention to ‘detract from Andy West’s main contributions in his two essays’ (I would have hoped that there was plenty in my comments that make this clear). My intention, instead, is to supplement his contribution with an appreciation that the ‘catastrophe narrative’, as evinced in formal declarations made by the United Nations and the EU (to name but two) does not consider catastrophe (i.e. serious, global, irreversible, trans-generational impact) as a predictable outcome of a particular course of action. Instead, focus is placed upon uncertainty and how this undermines the ability to calculate risks. This focus leads to an assumption that precaution is the rational approach to risk management

        My concern is that drawing attention to the increasingly common practice of treating catastrophe as a matter of destiny rather than nothing more than a plausible, remote possibility is all well and good, but one should not lose sight of the influential role that the precautionary meme still has in the climate change debate. When I apply the CAGW acronym to both versions of the catastrophe narrative (the precautionary and certitude versions), I am keeping alive the recognition that the precautionary meme is still out there, alive and kicking; it is even lurking in the footnotes of Andy’s post. Andy appears to deny that his post distracts attention away from the precautionary meme, but I don’t see how one can avoid doing so if one writes a post that claims dominance for its memetic competitor. Be that as it may, the more important point is that the rhetoric invariably focuses upon worse case scenarios, and this is what the precautionary meme will do for you, even without the false claims of certitude.

        Secondly, this is not a taxonomy that I am trying to get started. The distinction to be made between precaution-under-uncertainty and straightforward risk-based calculation is already notorious, and the primacy of the former is already enshrined in climate change legislation. I do not need to write an essay, citing references and examples, to make my point. The job has already been done for me by many others. I recommend, as an example, the COMEST dissertation, as cited in my comments to Andy:

        http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0013/001395/139578e.pdf

        In conclusion, if we sceptics are (as Andy asserts) almost universal in our understanding that CAGW invokes a concept of catastrophe that embodies certitude, simply because so much of the climate change polity currently employs such rhetoric, then all I can say is that we are a much more easily manipulated bunch than we like to think we are. However, Andy does not substantiate this claim, he just states it as a bold fact. Given how much of the commentary on sceptical blogs still revolves around a distaste for the application of the precautionary principle in climate science, I am happy to reserve judgment on Andy’s claim.

      • John,

        “My intention, instead, is to supplement his contribution…”

        All supplements are welcome. However, the above thread is in pursuit of what you have termed in various ways to be serious issues, which implies much more than a supplement but flaws of some kind. Serious challenges are welcome too, but there is an expectation of substantiation based in the proper context of the post. As frequently misunderstandings are cause of disagreement as much if not more than actual deeper disagreement, my last text was to cite a potential candidate for same.

        “…in formal declarations made by the United Nations and the EU…”

        Per above there can be wide variance and complete contradiction in narratives, the latter of which can and do exist even within the very same organisations. The post indeed notes the contradiction between exampled UN elite and its own body the IPCC (and further in footnotes, even between different layers of the IPCC). Similar contradictions exist both within other arms of the UN and also in other orgs / governments / etc. Other than the given notes, this post does not address / examine such contradictions based on your reference or any other, yet nor does it prejudice in any way what an examination of such may conclude.

        “I am keeping alive the recognition that the precautionary meme is still out there…”

        Sounds like a serious responsibility ;)

        “…it is even lurking in the footnotes of Andy’s post.”

        Glad to be of service :)

        “Andy appears to deny that his post distracts attention away from the precautionary meme…”

        So objective supplements are most welcome, but are you peer pressuring here to police what we are allowed to describe or how, in case such description should erode something else considered useful? What if others disagree with your aim, however noble it may be? And indeed what is considered useful and why? What if someone else thinks this post erodes something different? And who gets to judge? The very many (and many very high) authorities and orgs and influencers listed who propagate the certainty of imminent catastrophe, speak to their own cumulative influence. Characterising this narrative and exploring some directly related issues regarding its presence, as I’ve noted above, does not prejudice for or against other narratives ‘out there’, and to point to an example of one is in no way evidence of any prejudice. Your supplement regarding the issue is indeed most welcome, and anyone is free to add whatever balance and insights they think would similarly improve the post. But your assertion of serious issues and implication of bias regarding same, undermines the positive nature of this contribution.

        If your serious issues come down in the main to this ‘distraction’, I submit that this is just a value judgement. While the form of your post may be somewhat different, I think Matthew’s idea is a great one. If you could do a memetic analysis of the domain to show the relative influences of competitive memes, including at least the two of note here and maybe others, or even just more exposition on the changing competitive boundary if evidence for the former is too hard to get hold of, this would be a fantastic contribution that would at least bolster your value judgement. However, *whatever* this analysis would reveal, I do not make such an analysis here, whether of meme populations considered mainly to be under the main catastrophe narrative umbrella, those that are outside it, or those that straddle the boundaries (and which analysis must include relationships to reality that if strong, short-circuit emotive propagation). I have exercised the freedom to describe one thing without prejudice for or against anything else. The act of presenting / describing something is by no means a promotion, and as long as we aren’t in hate speech land or something where rather more care has to be taken (and even then, a social psychology description say of the inner workings of a particular fascist regime including its onerous propaganda, is not in any way a promotion of that regime or its propaganda), the freedom to do so must remain independent of whatever candidate a majority, or even minority, or just someone, wants to back in a related competition, be that candidate a meme or a party or a person.

        “…then all I can say is that we are a much more easily manipulated bunch than we like to think we are.”

        For your future reference, I don’t believe climate skeptics are manipulated as a group (and in fact they have very little group coherence anyway); I don’t even think this of climate orthodox folks assuming you mean deliberate manipulation (the usual sense of this word). On the whole skeptics pragmatically express main effects in the domain, including the high certainty thing via ‘CAGW’, which the orthodox object to because of this inclusion, and indeed here in these very comments. While also many remain highly cognisant regarding all sorts of subtleties, which they are also perfectly capable of expressing, notwithstanding some others may roll some of these subtleties into more approximated buckets. In short they are people.

        “I am happy to reserve judgment on Andy’s claim.”

        Wise, shame the royal society abandoned that policy.

      • John Ridgway: My intention, instead, is to supplement his contribution with an appreciation that the ‘catastrophe narrative’,

        I am glad that you clarified that.

        You wrote: My comment wasn’t disputing the existence of a narrative premised upon “the high certainty of an imminent generic global catastrophe.” Instead, I was challenging the assumption that the nuanced position taken by the scientific community cannot, likewise, be interpreted as a “catastrophe narrative”, albeit of a less simplistic nature.

        That reads as more than a “supplement;” it seems as though the second statement overrides the first, rather than supplementing it.

        Note below that Atomsk’s Sanakan is still maintaining that no definition of “CAGW” has been given, precisely because [in my paraphrasing] no distinction is attempted between outcomes that are potentially worrisome and those that are “catastrophic”. In order to show that “CAGW” is meaningful, it is helpful that Andy West has demonstrated the existence of CAGW by relatively strict criteria; without a clear boundary to the concept, “CAGW” can become as meaningless as AS claims..

        I’d like to read your response to that comment by AS.

      • Mathew,

        I can understand, in this instance, why my claims of merely wishing to supplement an article may appear as a disingenuous attempt to deny detraction. The truth is, the two are not mutually exclusive; the very fact that I feel the article required a supplement is a claim that it required improvement. I can even understand Andy’s defensiveness since, after all, nobody likes to think their work is being undervalued. The problem I have here, is trying to applaud the fact that someone is doing a good job of drawing attention to the certitude meme, whilst simultaneously saying you can do too good a job of it. The fact is, if all of the merchants of certitude were to disappear overnight, the powers that be would still have all the legal mandate they require to pursue a course of action that might as well assume certitude. This mandate is written into the current climate change legislation.

        Rather than quibbling over the relative memetic traction of the two competing strategies for persuasion (certitude or precaution) I think the more interesting question is why so many authority figures, and figures of influence, felt the need to turn up the wick on the certitude lamp. If I were to write anything, it would be on that subject. ‘Manipulated’ might not be the best word to use here, but sceptics who respond to such rhetoric are like moths to a flame. By all means, we should draw attention to the growing rhetoric of certitude, but we must not forget the lurking presence of the precautionary principle. Certainly, Andy was not writing an article about the principle but, there again, I have every right to remind readers of its presence, and I certainly feel it was perfectly reasonable for me to suggest that Andy could have done so, lest readers be left with the impression that certitude is the only significant game in town. I do not feel any obligation to write a dissertation demonstrating a prevalence of precautionary thinking just because I choose to draw attention to it.

        As for Anton’s comment, I think it is a perfect example of the precautionary meme in action. Setting a threshold for the acceptance of risk is always hugely problematic and laden with value judgement. However, many of these difficulties are sidestepped if one focuses purely upon the impact, claiming that it justifies action irrespective of its likelihood (as good a definition of ‘catastrophe’ as any). Sceptics are not prepared to take such a simplistic view, but this then leaves them holding the threshold-setting baby. And by that, I mean thresholds for the acceptance of uncertainty, acceptance of risk, and acceptance of the costs for risk mitigation or avoidance. It’s so much easier just to say “we need to act on climate change”, without applying preconditions. As I’ve been trying to say all along, it is not the certainty of outcome that matters, it is the certainty that the threat justifies action. Here is the best way of achieving this: Posit a calamity in a data-poor subject area. Challenge others to prove the negative that calamity won’t happen. Then justify action upon the failure to prove the negative.

        Whilst I’m on here, can I also say that I take a rather literal view on the meaning of the CAGW acronym. As an acronym, it cannot have any inherent pejorative meaning; just an expansion. But if it is used to snarl at anyone, I wonder when it takes on such potency. There is Warming (W), Global Warming (GW), predominantly Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW), and predominantly Anthropogenic Global Warming that is presupposed to represent an existential threat (CAGW). There are sceptics for all of the above. I have seen sceptics snarl at W, let alone CAGW. Besides which, isn’t ‘snarl’ the real snarl word here?

      • My apologies to Atomsk’s Sanakan for using an incorrect reference in the above posting.

      • John,

        “I can even understand Andy’s defensiveness since, after all, nobody likes to think their work is being undervalued…”

        This is not the issue at all; let me recap here. So after a long thread it seems that your claims of serious issues are not based on some kind of mutual misunderstanding. It turns out instead that you have a domain-based cause, which you self-report thusly: “I am keeping alive the recognition that the precautionary meme is still out there…”, to which you add your concern that it’s losing out to its main ‘memetic competitor’, i.e. you regard this as a bad outcome should it go further / go to conclusion (and reiterate this concern in your last text). So your serious issues amount only to your belief that I should be supporting your cause, which also you think I should have ‘fully explored’. Both before and after knowing your cause, I point out that supplements regarding other relevant factors within the domain are most welcome, as indeed is yours, yet that the act of describing something does not prejudice for or against such other factors as are not actually addressed by the post. However, this is not explicit support for your cause, without which apparently bad things will happen due to my post and according to your concerns, albeit you are nevertheless not inclined to contribute more positive material of your own on the issue. You go on to say per these concerns: “Andy appears to deny that his post distracts attention away from the precautionary meme”, i.e. distracts from your cause. Well relative to the exampled A-listers and the many other authorities and influencers, I’m willing to bet that my own influence is the square root of diddly squat. Yet even if this were not the case, it is fundamental that examining how parts of the domain work should in no way be subject to conscious pressure or bias regarding favoured outcomes or candidates, be those candidates persons or parties or memes. It is hard enough to try and minimize subconscious bias. And it is perfectly fine to have another post exploring other relevant issues and their status, whatever these may be and whether you have a self-declared cause (which must be made clear) or instead are only identifying the relative criticality / role of the issue for the domain as a contribution to the knowledge of its whole workings. It is also fine to supplement any of same issues here, indeed you “have every right to remind readers” of an issue. It is not fine to declare serious issues just because a post doesn’t support your cause, and it is not defensiveness to point this out; you have provided no other justification or associated logic chain with post quotes / support. When folks with a cause say stuff is denied regarding nebulous bad things that may occur, a regular occurrence in this domain, it tends first to make me more curious about the adherence to and framing of the cause, rather than to start worrying about the apparent concerns. Whatever future history may say about the concerns, such expressions are not the path of objectivity.

        “I certainly feel it was perfectly reasonable for me to suggest that Andy could have done so, lest readers be left with the impression that certitude is the only significant game in town”

        But you didn’t *just* do this. You said there were serious issues, which is an entirely different thing.

        “…you can do too good a job of it. The fact is, if all of the merchants of certitude were to disappear overnight…”

        And this is why. It doesn’t matter that your cause is noble. It is a cause, and you defined lack of support for your cause as a serious issue.

      • John Ridgway: Besides which, isn’t ‘snarl’ the real snarl word here?

        It is not the only real snarl word here. Since you asked.

      • John Ridgway: As I’ve been trying to say all along, it is not the certainty of outcome that matters, it is the certainty that the threat justifies action.

        It would be helpful if you could list a bunch of exemplars. i.e. quotes from people at all levels of authority, where that distinction is clearly justified. I don’t think there are any.

      • Mathew,

        “It would be helpful if you could list a bunch of exemplars. i.e. quotes from people at all levels of authority, where that distinction is clearly justified. I don’t think there are any.”

        No it would not be helpful in the slightest. I am making the case for the following connection:

        Climate change legislation + Mainstream science uncertainties = Catastrophe narrative

        The level to which this narrative has been enunciated by ‘a bunch of exemplars’ does not bear upon the subject of CAGW usage by sceptics, since the sceptics are quite capable of making the connection themselves. I happen to think that a significantly large subset of sceptics have done so, and that is why sceptics are so vociferous in denouncing the application of the precautionary principle. I shall say this one final time: The existence of an increasingly strong narrative from exemplars, focusing unduly upon certitude, does not prove that the catastrophe narrative to which I am referring does not exist or, at the very least, that it is uninfluential. To prove so, you would have to demonstrate at least one of the following:

        • Climate change legislation doesn’t actually embody the precautionary principle
        • Mainstream science is certain in excluding the possibility of ‘catastrophic’ outcomes, i.e. serious, global, irreversible, trans-generational impact
        • The combination of legislation and mainstream science does not qualify as a narrative
        • Nobody actually cares what the legislation says

        To help you appreciate the logic behind my position I invited you to read the COMEST paper. You haven’t given me any feedback that indicates that you have done so (nor has Andy, for that matter). Would it be churlish of me to point out that the effort required to read it would be much less than that which you request from me to compile a catalogue of quotes, large and comprehensive enough for your satisfaction? But since you doubted that there are any such quotes, I will, at least, provide you with the following, single quote to remove that doubt:
        “An increase in uncertainty leads to an increase in the probability of ruin…hence scepticism of climate models should lead to more precautionary policies.”
        — Nassim Taleb, Rupert Read, Raphael Douady, Joseph Norman, Yaneer Bar-Yam

        The reason why I think drawing attention to the logic of precaution is a helpful supplement to Andy’s article is that it usefully reminds readers of the body of catastrophe narrative that lies outside of the certitude meme. The reason why this constitutes a serious criticism of Andy’s article, however, is because the rationale behind his argument that CAGW is used inappropriately (when it is referring to the mainstream scientific view) is plain wrong. Why? Because it is an argument that requires the non-existence of the precautionary principle. I’ve stated this argument ad nausea to Andy and all I get back is ‘make your argument’. There has to come a point when one gets fed up of repeating oneself, so here it is for one final time.

        You don’t need certitude for catastrophe narrative because:

        Climate change legislation + Mainstream science uncertainties = Catastrophe narrative

        And if you don’t need certitude for catastrophe narrative then you can’t claim that CAGW has in-built certitude, no matter how many ‘exemplars’ think so.

        That’s it. If it isn’t enough then I have to give up. If I do not respond to any further comments, you can assume that I have done so. At least let us all agree that this debate has already gone on far too long.

      • John,

        “The reason why I think drawing attention to the logic of precaution is a helpful supplement to Andy’s article is that…”

        As noted numerous times above, this is most welcome and informative.

        “You haven’t given me any feedback that indicates that you have done so (nor has Andy, for that matter)”

        I said that indeed there are “…other narratives ‘out there’, and to point to an example of one is in no way evidence of any prejudice.” The existence of the narrative has never been disputed. And indeed as you acknowledge ‘Andy was not writing an article about the principle’ contained therein.

        “…all I get back is ‘make your argument’”

        Per above clarification I got your line of argument a while back. I was seeking a) why you thought it was so important in relation to this post, and b) the assurance that no mutual misunderstanding which might have inadvertently inflated this importance, was getting in the way. Well per a couple of passes above both a) and b) are bottomed out now as far as I can see. So the great news is that you don’t need to present the line again, as indeed I now get your position, albeit you don’t not agree with my response. b) is not the case and regarding a) you have a self-declared cause, and you strongly linked your view of importance to this cause. Well I may have been slow to grasp your support for cause but indeed you have been perfectly transparent about it, so there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. However domain analysis, and support for (or opposition to) domain relevant causes, must be kept distinct. And nor does lack of support for your cause (in a post that nevertheless does not prejudice for or against same, and for which indeed ‘Andy was not writing an article about the principle’) constitute a serious issue.

        “…does not exist or, at the very least, that it is uninfluential”

        I have never here or anywhere questioned its existence. As to its relative influence this could only be determined via analysis; I have not spoken to same (on this or other memes). The many and many high authority sources propagating the narrative of high certainty of imminent catastrophe, as exampled, themselves cumulatively speak to an influence that can only be major. But this is nevertheless not measured against any other domain narratives. Any contribution you can make regarding the profile of competitive memes would be welcome. Coopetive aspects are also relevant. Taleb et al and indeed also the particular quote you provide, was featured in a post by Judith here at Climate Etc about 3 years back, with useful comment. While as you note above this fosters a competing precautionary narrative to the straight certainty catastrophe narrative (and indeed you expressed concern that it may be out-competed by the latter), there are also aspects that strongly suggest influence of the latter meme on formation of the former. This situation is not uncommon with memes, and the equivalent in financial systems that both cooperate and compete is termed coopetition. So for instance in Taleb et al: ‘We believe that the PP should be evoked only in extreme situations: when the potential harm is systemic (rather than localized) and the consequences can involve total irreversible ruin, such as the extinction of human beings or all life on the planet.’ Such statements reveal some catastrophe influence beyond mainstream science projections at *any* level of probability due to climate change. Mainstream science does not have any route for all life on the planet ending due to CC (i.e. even at very low / any probability), and while human extinction might be more in range, how this could happen is not actually framed either. Judith noted then that “global harm does not necessarily imply ‘ruin’” and indeed that “I’m not really seeing AGW as a ‘ruin’ problem, i.e. a ‘catastrophe’.” A precautionary principle against the impossible is not truly a precautionary principle. However, some subtleties / spectra of the precautionary narrative is secondary in that it certainly exists in this paper and elsewhere, i.e. it has some presence, but the point here is to show that in differing contexts within the domain (i.e. within different parts of the social structure that memeplexes support) it both competes and cooperates with the high certainty of imminent catastrophe.

        “The reason why this constitutes a serious criticism of Andy’s article, however, is because the rationale behind his argument that CAGW is used inappropriately (when it is referring to the mainstream scientific view) is plain wrong. Why? Because it is an argument that requires the non-existence of the precautionary principle.”

        This is a non-sequitur, the basis of which you found upon your interpretation that ‘CAGW’ is inclusive of precautionary principle narrative. But this is not the domain usage (on both side of the divide), as noted. The much larger territory for both memes is anyhow outside of venues where ‘CAGW’ is typically used. Within that territory and the further one moves away from possible reality groundings in science (and less so) policy / legislation, expressions in the vernacular, whether prompted originally by either meme or indeed others, tend to fuzz together in what typically amounts frequently to the catastrophe narrative, because emotively it tends to win out when the more subtle language of science or policy falls away. However notwithstanding this effect, narrative based upon the precautionary principle exists, as restated above and indeed several times before, and there is no incompatibility with this existence and that of the narrative of certainty of imminent catastrophe, or indeed with ‘CAGW’ usage.

        Per the main post the catastrophe narrative is not supported by mainstream science; the latter does not support a certainty of imminent global catastrophe. The narrative and the science clash. Likewise, the catastrophe narrative can also clash with (albeit to a lesser extent than with science, as science has more exacting language) legislation and policy, including cases where legislation includes the precautionary principle, because the latter does not cleave to certainty. The fact that these clash in no way invalidates the presence of either, or means that there is no interest in climate legislation. Of all the very many (and many high) authority quotes, none are legislative. While the catastrophe narrative, by virtue of long years of propagation from these cumulatively very influential authority sources, influences both science (e.g see the Rossiter layer model in footnotes) and policy formation along with those orgs in which these happen, I presume it is no more written into law (certainly such as I’ve seen anyhow), than it is written into the AR5 chapters. Apart from confirming still more the contradictions that surround cultural narratives, this changes nothing set out in the post.

        So say I wrote a 4000 word post on the filo viruses, their variant characteristics and main recent / historic outbreaks (plus major suspected historic but unproven outbreaks) and naming conventions, inclusive of ebola and marburg and cueva and subspecies, which conventions are tangled with outbreak locations. And some learned medical researcher comments to say hey, you missed that this other viral disease XYZ (with different cycle / symptoms), shares as part of its transmission modes a common entry portal vulnerability in humans, which is thus relevant here (while all diseases compete for human targets, this means that these two, and indeed a few others also, compete especially for the particular targets where this vulnerability is maximised). Great, I say, that’s a fine and interesting supplement to this post. But they come back with, “that your post hasn’t fully explored this this is a serious problem. This disease is a big deal too and I’m trying to keep awareness of it alive” (a self-declared cause). So I say, “well this post only features the filo viruses in 4000 words, not enough already and simply not addressing XYZ despite the shared portal, but your supplement was indeed welcome and maybe you could do a post on XYZ to expound for readers, with specific attention to overlap”. And a third party commenter then asks whether they could sketch out some example major outbreaks too. But the medical researcher replies that no post is required as the disease manifestly exists (which in fact was never challenged), and further that ‘no it would not be helpful in the slightest’ to provide some example major outbreak incidents. Yet despite thusly declining, at the same time still maintaining it’s a serious issue that the topic of XYZ was not covered in the original post. This is where we are, and Matthew’s request speaks to the latter issue; a response on some main examples wouldn’t be anything like a proper quantitative analysis in relation to other memes of course, but this is fine and it would nevertheless give readers a somewhat better feel for the history and authority profile of this meme in some comparative sense; at worst it would still increase awareness.

      • John Ridgway: No it would not be helpful in the slightest.

        I think that you asserted a distinction without a difference. There isn’t anybody exhibiting the one kind of certainty without the other kind of certainty.

      • Andy,

        Allow me, if you will, to summarise the argument as I see it (I am, of course, paraphrasing and I act as a biased historian; nevertheless, any misrepresentations are a sincere error):

        You say, “The catastrophe narrative is synonymous with certitude, therefore using the CAGW acronym with respect to the mainstream science is a blunder; there is no certitude in the mainstream science and hence no catastrophe narrative.”

        I say, “But there doesn’t need to be certitude in the mainstream science. In fact, climate change legislation is predicated upon the presence of uncertainty in the mainstream science. So, surely, there is a narrative of catastrophe to be found in the mainstream science, and surely it is therefore perfectly acceptable to use CAGW when referring to that narrative, as long as the precautionary principle is kept in mind.”

        You say, “Don’t you think I know all about the uncertainty narrative? I just don’t see its relevance. My post is not about the narrative based upon uncertainty, it is covering the narrative that is based upon certitude, and I demonstrate that it is dominant. What have you got to refute that claim? Nothing, as far as I can see.”

        I say, “I don’t actually need to refute anything regarding dominance of narratives. I’m not trying to make an argument for the accepted use of a term but the acceptable use of a term. You say that CAGW is unacceptable in a particular circumstance, and I say it is. I provide my logic, and you just dismiss it as being irrelevant to your point.”

        You say: “Your argument is a logical non sequitur because, as I have already said, the catastrophe narrative is synonymous with certitude.”

        I say, “Yes, but only in the sense of certitude having gained memetic dominance in the arena of public debate. And even this is a claim that you do not actually demonstrate. It is not for me to prove otherwise, I simply point out that you cannot substantiate your claim for narrative dominance by pointing only to that one narrative. I don’t think it is unreasonable for me to point this out. I think your article would have been a lot stronger if you had acknowledged the uncertainty narrative and explained why its presence does not alter your conclusions.”

        You say, “At the risk of repeating myself, this was NOT an article about the uncertainty narrative. It was about the catastrophe narrative. How the narrative is justified (by reference to certitude or incertitude) is irrelevant. At the end of the day, the certain catastrophe narrative is dominant and yet there is nothing in mainstream science that justifies it.”

        I say, “Well that is where we disagree. It is the catastrophe narrative that is dominant, and there is plenty in the mainstream science to justify it, as long as one remembers about the important role of the precautionary principle.”

        You say, “I get it already about the precautionary principle. But this isn’t about the precautionary principle.”

        I say, “We are going around in circles. Please, for pity sake, can we agree to leave it here?”

        You say, “Never! Not until you admit I am right.”

        Of course, I am having a sly dig at the end there. But the problem is, I simply don’t see this argument ever coming to an end unless one of us just refuses to respond to the other. That is what I will now do, irrespective of how dismissive you are of my attempt to summarise the argument. Have fun with your final onslaught but please do not interpret my resulting silence as either acceptance or rudeness. It is simply the tactic of someone who is now keen to get on with his life. In fact, feel free to refer to me in the third person, since I will no longer be your audience.

      • Mathew,

        “There isn’t anybody exhibiting the one kind of certainty without the other kind of certainty.”

        I’m not at all sure what you are saying here. I am not contrasting or comparing two kinds of certainty, unless you are referring to the certainty that catastrophe is inevitable as against the certainty that catastrophe cannot be ruled out. If that is what you meant, then I think it is only fair to point out that Nassim Taleb et al hold to the latter but obviously do not hold to the former.

        Whilst I have welcomed your input and, I hope you agree, have made a sincere effort at responding to it, you will note from my most recent response to Andy that I am now choosing to move on. So accept my apologies in advance for not responding to any further commentary on your part. No snub is intended.

      • John:

        “In fact, climate change legislation…”

        As noted, the presence of the precautionary principle, in legislation or elsewhere, has never been challenged.

        “…surely it is therefore perfectly acceptable to use CAGW when referring to that narrative…”

        As noted way back when, perhaps if you’d got to the term first, but you didn’t (and neither did I).

        “…and I demonstrate that it is dominant…”

        I did no such thing. I have exampled the very many authority sources, which cumulatively speak to their own very major influence. As repeatedly noted, I have done no quantitative analysis of competitive memes within the domain, and I invited you to contribute to same if you have any insights. Also as I noted above the domain has structure, and so even if dominance existed in some parts of this structure, it wouldn’t typically mean, in fact possibly couldn’t mean, the same for all parts. For instance nearer to the reality of science, per AR5WGC, it most certainly doesn’t dominate, and effectively doesn’t exist there.

        “You say… What have you got to refute that claim?”

        Paraphrasing is fine. But I have never made such a claim. If you think so, skip the paraphrasing on this and provide an exact quote. Per above I have invited you to share what you may know regarding this angle, which would be informative for everyone concerned.

        “I don’t actually need to refute anything regarding dominance of narratives…”

        Indeed, not least because I didn’t ask you to.

        “You say that CAGW is unacceptable in a particular circumstance, and I say it is.”

        I said this is not how the domain (on either side of the divide) uses it. You can use it however you like, but this is unlikely to achieve communication with a domain that’s already evolved to an established usage.

        “Yes, but only in the sense of certitude having gained memetic dominance in the arena of public debate.”

        Notwithstanding the lack of a quantitative analysis, it’s indeed very hard to argue that the influence hasn’t grown hugely in the public arena over the decades. But notwithstanding this a narrative of certainty of imminent global climate catastrophe has existed at least since the genesis phase, and via base catastrophe memes potentially even before (e.g. from cooling climate instead of warming). This fact does not say anything about what competitive (or indeed coopetive) memes existed and currently still exist in the domain.

        “And even this is a claim that you do not actually demonstrate. It is not for me to prove otherwise.”

        I have never made this claim and I have never asked you to disprove this claim that I have never made. As repeatedly noted, I have not done a quantitative analysis of meme populations in the domain, the populations thereof are also non-homogeneous and related to structure, and as noted what I have set out in this post does not prejudice for or against any other meme ‘out there’.

        “I think your article would have been a lot stronger if you had acknowledged the uncertainty narrative and explained why its presence does not alter your conclusions.”

        Your supplement of narrative based on the uncertainty principle is most welcome. However, you claimed that the absence of support for this narrative and your cause regarding same, which you said should be ‘fully explored’, was a serious issue. I have explained why in comments this is not so; the post does not address other memes, quantitative assessment, but neither does it prejudice for or against any of same. And it is very important to separate any analysis from in-domain causes, which per keeping the precautionary meme alive you have indeed made cause for. A post on said cause (as long as cause doesn’t bias analysis and they are kept separate), would help readers understand your PoV much better; but that is a completely different post and it is not this post.

        “At the end of the day, the certain catastrophe narrative is dominant.”

        I have not said this. As noted above the many authority sources speak themselves rather obviously to a very heavy influence, and it may well be dominant in some areas. But I haven’t augmented what the domain examples demonstrate themselves, and neither have I done an analysis that shows relative domain populations, which per above will also vary depending where in the structure of the memeplex (and its connections to constraining reality), the meme runs.

        “…as long as one remembers about the important role of the precautionary principle.”

        As noted from the very start, this is a semantic issue. If you label all descriptions containing the word catastrophe (or equivalent), as ‘catastrophe narrative’, despite their very wide meanings, then you will not be able to distinguish which are essentially emotive memes, which owe much more to reason and / or mundane usage (e.g. hurricanes as catastrophes), so losing the critical essence within each in their labels, which of many would include things like ‘worst case probability narratives’, ‘cascade narratives’, ‘catastrophe loss narratives’ (in the normal insurance industry sense), and indeed ‘precautionary principle’ narratives. Given the memetic competition between catastrophe narrative and precautionary principle narrative, which you note of the domain, it is considerably harder to express stuff about the same if they are given the same label.

        “But this isn’t about the precautionary principle.”

        This post is indeed not about the precautionary principle (and associated narrative). Your supplement regarding this is most welcome. While I can understand your declared cause regarding the precautionary principle, your assertion of serious issues because the post didn’t address same, has not been demonstrated.

        “Of course, I am having a sly dig at the end there.”

        Indeed, I have said no such thing.

        “…since I will no longer be your audience.”

        Your contribution of the precautionary principle angle was useful, thank you.

      • Andy,

        “Your contribution of the precautionary principle angle was useful, thank you.”

        Since you have chosen to end on a positive note, it would be churlish of me not to reciprocate. I have declared that I see no point in continuing to focus upon our disagreement, but that does not stop me from making an observation regarding the extent to which I think we agree.

        The catastrophe narrative, in whatever form, is a narrative that raises emotions to an extent that makes inaction appear to be immoral. References to certain catastrophe, whether disingenuous or borne of ignorance, are bound to influence those who are motivated by a will to avoid harm. However, neglect of probability, as implied by the precautionary principle, is no different in this respect. The certainty of catastrophe is simply replace by the certainty that action is required to avoid a possible catastrophe. At the end of the day, it still represents a retreat from rationality, and an embracement of heightened emotion and moral outrage. Can we at least agree that this is what sceptics of all persuasions have in mind when they refer to CAGW?

        Whether we have agreement on the above or not, I ask that your response focuses upon the following talking point. As I see it, Cliff Mass is a strong advocate of the precautionary version of the catastrophe narrative, and yet he stands accused of being a denier, or at least a friend of deniers. Do you believe that this is a perfect example of the growing demand for moral outrage? And what is it about the precautionary argument for action that fails to meet said demand? I ask these questions because it seems to me that the quasi-religious zealotry of some the advocates for action is beginning to make them look scarier than the catastrophes they are warning against. It isn’t the climate we should be fearing; it is those who think they have been placed on Earth to do its will.

      • John:

        “The catastrophe narrative, in whatever form, is a narrative that raises emotions to an extent that makes inaction appear to be immoral.”

        Agree. See ‘moral association’ variants particularly in the quote lists.

        “However, neglect of probability, as implied by the precautionary principle, is no different in this respect… …it still represents a retreat from rationality, and an embracement of heightened emotion and moral outrage.”

        Agreed, I have never said otherwise.

        “Can we at least agree that this is what sceptics of all persuasions have in mind when they refer to CAGW?”

        I agree its perceptions can include other aspects, and indeed often there is a sense of ‘impacts’ as it were in the deployment, which you refer to here, and indeed the end result regarding this is much the same for both cases. And if someone refers to ‘CAGW message’, or ‘CAGW advocate’ (say of a scientist who does disagree with the IPCC and supports some much more catastrophic vision), it may be academic whether the text of an actual message described, or an actual quote from that scientist, supported the ‘C’ via one route or the other. As noted above, stuff expressed in the vernacular (which may then be described later via the ‘CAGW’ label), can often fuzz different approaches together anyhow, albeit the typical end ‘feel’ is more certitude. So to the extent of when the difference doesn’t matter (there being differences and similarities and perhaps the former sometimes don’t), yes. But the domain has simply evolved an understanding of built in certitude, one reliable indicator of which is how much orthodox folks object to exactly this aspect. And notwithstanding a lack of an analysis, I think we have both agreed that the certitude thing does much outgun the precautionary thing in propagation, so there’s very likely to be some inappropriate eclipsing too. I see what you’re saying though, i.e. that the technical difference and the psychological impact are two different things, and essentially the former is not essentially different between the two, and the acronym does convey that impact. So yes… but I’d still recommend that outside of this limited aspect (where you’re essentially talking about the psychological impacts of both at once), if you deploy ‘CAGW’ but still want to speak to other aspects / detail of the precautionary fork, or even that there are forks, you’d have to carefully clarify this separate fork to folks first, because otherwise they will just travel down the de-facto one instead, causing misunderstandings.

        “…and yet he stands accused of being a denier, or at least a friend of deniers…”

        See my comment on the Cliff Mass thread. The current framing of denialism that academia helped birth, allows anyone to call anyone a denier with, essentially claiming that their opponent has a psychological condition, which state academia has backed.

        Moral outrage in the climate domain has existed for a long time; certainly it feels to be growing but it’s a hard thing to measure. Cultures are polarizing, so I think it’s likely growing even as opposition grows in parallel. For sure as hype for catastrophe increases there’s bound to be a corresponding reaction from emotively convinced adherents who feel not only that little is happening, but that folks are preventing it happening (e.g. by ‘watering down’ scares), with Cliff Mass just one of many who has slipped into that frame. I don’t think his precise views actually matter; lots of folks end up in this predicament for practically anything that isn’t ultra-orthodox (or even beyond orthodox, Oreskes called Hansen a denier for promoting nuclear!) Yes indeed, zealotry is very much to be feared. Whether ACO2 turns out to be good, bad, or indifferent, the powerful culture of the catastrophic is something future history will grimace about.

  55. Andy,

    I really like Jonah Goldberg’s take on climate change and hoaxism.

    “My own view of the climate change issue is that it is real. I do not think it is a hoax, though I do think there are plenty of people, institutions, and interests that use the tactics of hoaxers to hype the problem. I assume that the vast majority of them are what you might call “hoaxers in good faith”: They think the problem is grave enough that it is worth exaggerating the claims, hyping the threat, and hiding contrary evidence in an effort to rally public opinion. Others suffer from confirmation bias, immediately believing the worst-case scenarios from wildly complex — and historically unreliable — computer models without checking the math.”

    The entire column is worth a read:

    https://www.nationalreview.com/g-file/climate-change-frenzy-clouds-our-judgment/

    • Thanks, Mark. Interesting article. From a US conservative source it’s not exceptional to have a more sympathetic slant to skepticism. But I’ve never heard the phrase ‘hoaxers in good faith’ before, and I think that’s a very interesting phrase which is a good step away from just ‘hoax’ and towards the fact that emergent / sub-conscious factors are main drivers, plus what may be more consciously done in service to noble cause. I also thought his ‘second skepticism’ was a good observation, i.e. the public feeling that so much is being insisted upon in the name of the climate science, which insistence doesn’t actually merit the support anyhow. This chimes with my ‘innate skepticism’ post from about 18 months back here. But I’m never keen, albeit instinctively rather than following up with some detailed investigation / knowledge, on geo-engineering recommendations; whatever the state of the issue, these always seem to shout ‘unintended consequences’ at me.

  56. I guess I’m not the only person who sees the “CAGW” straw man for what it is, nor was I the first to point out the game contrarians play when they mention it:

    “28 – The consequences of climate change (in our lifetimes)”, from 13:41 to 15:42 :

    “Indeed, if you ask them to name the level of certainty they need or the type of evidence that would win them over, they’ll never do it. Although their argument is premised on the idea that more science could justify climate action, they can’t actually define a world where that’s true. Instead, they tend to oppose climate policy for ideological reasons—including an ideological commitment to exploiting fossil fuels—but they choose to fight policy in bad faith on scientific grounds.
    Similarly, many anti-climate action groups have evolved from outright climate denial to acknowledging that climate change is real and a problem but say they’re against “climate alarmism” and don’t believe in “catastrophic global warming.” But what do these terms mean? Again, they never say. If I think business as usual means the Earth is going to warm 4 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, am I an alarmist? How about 10 degrees?
    Their actual operating definition is that “catastrophic global warming” is the precise amount needed to justify policy action, and, by definition, we will always fall short of it. An alarmist, meanwhile, is anyone who says we need to act on climate change.”

    View story at Medium.com
    http://archive.is/GtWkp

    • Atomsk’s Sanakan:

      This aspect is fully covered in the post. There is indeed inappropriate as well as appropriate usage. For the latter, it is not those deploying the term who introduce the undefined and emotively malleable, but those items (narrative, authority sources, theories, whatever) which via the term they are correctly describing. Assuming you’ve fully read the post, and in the context of this appropriate usage (so for instance *not* used to label mainstream / IPCC science), if you think that the post is wrong, please show your logic chain and specific arguments as to why, with appropriate in context quotes. Thanks.

  57. Thought I’d chip in here as I was the Quoran who asked the question (and received a lot a personal criticism in the reply).

    I originally used the term CAGW in an earlier answer to a Quora question from a naive standpoint. I had read the term before somewhere and didn’t know it was pejorative. Apparently, it’s not when used as a noun as in “The coming AGW catastrophe” but it is a no-no if used as an adjective as I used it with “Catastrophic AGW”. Not appreciating these mores I got criticised totally unexpectedly, so I asked on Quora about it. JC’s thoughts are very thorough.

    That exchange was an eye-opener. I hadn’t really grasped before the rhetorical devices used when discussing climate science.

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