Team B

Since Last November, Georgia Tech climate researcher Judith Curry has criticized the groupthink tendencies of a subset of the climate science community. So I’m not surprised to see her echo this sentiment by William Happer, a professor of physics at Princeton University, in his recent congressional testimony:

We need to establish a Team B of competent scientists, charged with questioning the party line. The DoD and the CIA do this, there was a devil’s advocate (promoter fidei) for sainthood, why not the same for climate change?

However, in her comment over at this thread, Curry didn’t include Happer’s sentence preceding his Team B suggestion:

Global-warming alarmists have tried to silence any who question the party line of impending climate apocalypse.

Now this may be a subtle distinction on my part, but I see political advocates as the leading front of global warming alarmism, not climate scientists. I’m not so sure there is a “party line” of imminent climate doom that climate scientists have bought into, notwithstanding the likes of James Hansen. (Also, it’s really more the political advocates who attempt to silence anti-alarmists.) You could argue that climate scientists enable the political alarmism by not forcefully challenging the advocates on their claims. But if I read Curry’s endorsement of Happer’s suggestion correctly, she’s essentially saying that this Team B would serve as a check on the groupthink within the climate science community:

Well arguably the closest thing we have to a “Team B” is the Heartland Climate Conference on Climate Changewhich was held last week in Chicago. The conference received almost no coverage by the MSM.

On that last note, it bears mentioning that previous Heartland assemblages have been covered by the MSM. One of the hallmarks of these prior conferences was political agitprop. So I think the press this time around just assumed it was going to be another annual bashing of climate scientists and Al Gore. In that sense, I think the lack of coverage this year is more a reflection of the perspective journalists have of those prior Heartland gatherings.

Lastly, I want to point out that Happer’s House testimony differs little from what he said last year to the Senate, of which Bill Chameides wrote this effective rebuttal.

Still, however wrong Happer may be on his other points, that doesn’t make the Team B concept illegitimate. Of course, judging by those non-existent WMD’s, there’s no guarantee that a Team B (which existed in the CIA and DoD in the runnup to the Iraq War), can counteract groupthink and bad decisionmaking.

UPDATE: Bart Verheggen has a very useful take on why there is so much resistance to the Heartland group.

56 Responses to “Team B”

  1. I think the nomination of a Team B by the Heartland Instute makes exactly as much sense as the nomination of a Team 2 by Greenpeace and for exactly the same reasons. If the two teams were comparably funded, I would not oppose it. Who knows but that one or the other of them might stumble onto something useful.
    The only constraint I would put on this proposal is this: I would insist that they be comparably funded and get comparable attention. This would place IPCC firmly where it belongs, in the center of the debate, and not at a fringe.

  2. Keith:
    When Arctic sea ice is once again hitting record meltdown this month, not to mention weather records being broken every week offering clear u-can-see it evidence of CC why would you waste time with a team b?
    And you should also know that IPCC is not a closed shop – plenty of deniers call themselves IPCC contributors, authors and reviewers when it suits them.
    And aren’t you skeptical of folks claiming their ‘truth’ is being suppressed by the evil overlords?

  3. Keith Kloor says:


    I think you’re misreading my post–and remember, this is a blog post, not an article I spent hours/days reporting on. So I don’t consider it a waste of my time.

    Now I’m not nominating the Heartland as some Team B, but I found the actual Team B idea intriguing–and if you read my post carefully, you’ll see I like it not necessarily as a check on the science (though I think that’s just as legitimate) but more as a check on climate alarmism.

    Sorry, Stephen, trumpeting yet another broken weather record or ice meltdown isn’t going to advance the policy ball. People have been doing that for years and it’s not gotten them anywhere. Neither has disaster fetishizing.

    So just to reiterate, I find the Team B idea most compelling as a check on the climate doom crowd. Just curious: is there a Team B in the advocate arena, when it comes to this, because the scientists (as a whole) sure stay mute on it?

  4. Keith Kloor says:


    Just so it’s clear as to what I’m referring to, check out this post by Romm, and this attitude (which is dominant)  by one of his  readers.

    Here’s that mindset, summed up by another regular Romm reader:

    I agree with Joe that political action can only occur if the more frightening plausible scenarios are communicated to our leadership and to the general public.

    So fear pretty much amounts to the motivational strategy by climate advocates. (Romm is fear central.) Where’s the Team B to offer an alternative for public debate? I submit it’s these guys.

  5. oneuniverse says:

    Keith, the rebuttal by Bill Chameides cites 2 papers on water vapour, while ignoring a larger set of contemporary papers the results of which support Happer’s statement. His Huffington Post article is not an effective rebuttal.

  6. Judith Curry says:

    Last year, I also listened to the Heartland presentations, and found the ones i listened to to be  joke.  Even Lindzen spent his air time slagging off on his colleagues at MIT, Kerry Emanuel and Carl Wunsch rather than on substance.
    This year, the presentations (note I only listened to the science presentations, plus Monckton) were much better.  I’m also sensing a departure from the “house of cards” paradigm, where they think they can take down AGW by finding some small mistake somewhere.  They are more in the mode of the “jigsaw puzzle” paradigm, where they are going after specific pieces of the puzzle.
    The overall objective seems more about taking the “C” out of “CAGW”, and evaluating various policy options in context of libertarian ideology, rather than “denialism.”
    So i think this year’s conference had some interesting stuff, but their “brand” has lost credibility owing to the rants of years past.

  7. Steve Bloom says:

    Judy, they may be better by some standard, but if you want them taken at all seriously you’ll have to get them to be self-policing whern it comes to out-and-out fraud such as Idso’s.  Good luck with that.

  8. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #5:  “… a larger set of contemporary papers the results of which support Happer’s statement.”  Let’s see the cites.

  9. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #3/4:  Stephen, I think this site is best understood as a vanity blog for the Breakthrough Boys.

    FYI, Keith, there is a substantial body of social science research holding that “frightening plausible scenarios” are a necessary motivator for society.  If such scenarios and the related discussion of extreme events are consistent with the science, what’s your problem?

  10. afeman says:

    In what sense would you say Romm is in a position to “silence” anybody?

  11. dhogaza says:

    Well, he’s not Team B, but he’s not as over the top as Joe Romm.   Dr. Jeff Masters blogged about the Nashville event, saying this, among other things:
    “The record rains were accompanied by a surge of very warm air that set record high temperature marks at 21 major airports across the Eastern U.S. on Saturday; 19 more records were set on Sunday. This is not surprising, since more moisture can evaporate into warmer air, making record-setting rainfall events more likely when record high temperatures are present.”
    As we see warmer temperatures in that part of the country the probability of extreme rainfall events of this sort will also rise.
    On the other hand, you’re right when you state that:
    “Sorry, Stephen, trumpeting yet another broken weather record or ice meltdown isn’t going to advance the policy ball. People have been doing that for years and it’s not gotten them anywhere. Neither has disaster fetishizing.”
    A fairly large percentage of society is impervious to reality.
    What’s your suggestion?  Be silent about reality?

  12. Keith Kloor says:

    Steve (9):

    I welcome you to expound on how this is a “vanity blog” for the Breakthrough Institute.

    You’re in the habit of asking others for citations. So how about just one or two from that “substantial body” of literature–something that refers to distant scenarios, too, since that’s what we’re talking here.

    dhogaza (11)

    They’re impervious to reality because it’s not visceral right now. People historically haven’t even dealt realistically with droughts. So why should distant  AGW be any different?

    All I’m suggesting ist that maybe a fear-based strategy isn’t the best one. At least not until half of Manhattan slides into the Hudson river. We are a reactive species. Why anyone would think that society would respond to potentially catastrophic global warming 50 to 100 years from now is a puzzler to me.

  13. Eli Rabett says:

    Keith thanks again for a wonderful example of why journalism is a rotting carcass.  As Eli and GFW said, and as Bill Happer surely knows, Team B exercises have a reputation, gained honestly, of being totally dishonest.
    Keith and Judy, you may be young or naive enough not to know about the outcome of <a href=””>Team B exercises</a>, but Happer is not.  In the early 1970,  the intelligence community (mostly the CIA) had come up with an evaluation of the Soviet Union’s military capabilities which was not scary enough for the hawks.  They demanded appointment of a “Team B” which was hand picked by the CIA director George Bush to ensure that it came to a scary set of conclusions so that US defense spending would explode.  The Team B report drove much of the wasteful and fanciful defense spending of the Reagan administration.
    In the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union it was discovered that Team B was wrong about everything.  We don’t need another Team B exercise.
    As GFW points out, the entire WMD farago before the Iraq war was an extra special Team B exercise.

  14. oneuniverse says:

    @8, Steve Bloom :
    Wielicki et al. 2002, “Evidence for large decadal variability in the tropical mean radiative energy budget. Science”
    Chen et al. 2002, “Evidence for strengthening of the tropical general circulation in the 1990s”
    Trenberth’s response to the Wielicki et al. & Chen et al. paper, and their reply
    Pierce et al. 2006, “Three-dimensional tropospheric water vapor in coupled climate models compared with observations from the AIRS satellite system”
    Gettleman et al. 2006, “Climatology of Upper-Tropospheric Relative Humidity from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder and Implications for Climate”
    John and Soden 2007, “Temperature and humidity biases in global climate models and their impact on climate feedbacks”

    Wang et al. 2008, “Towards a robust test on North America warming trend and precipitable water content increase”

    Paltridge, Arking & Pook, “Trends in middle- and upper-level tropospheric humidity from NCEP reanalysis data”, Theoretical and Applied Climatology, Feb. 2009
    Spencer et al. 2007, “Cloud and radiation budget changes associated with tropical intraseasonal oscillations”
    Spencer and Braswell 2008, “Potential Biases in Feedback Diagnosis from Observational Data: A Simple
    Model Demonstration”

  15. oneuniverse says:

    The first two links above are wrong, correct version below (hopefully) :
    Wielicki et al. 2002, “Evidence for large decadal variability in the tropical mean radiative energy budget. Science”

    Chen et al. 2002, “Evidence for strengthening of the tropical general circulation in the 1990s”

  16. oneuniverse says:

    Interestingly, Spencer et al. 2007 find evidence for Richard Lindzen’s “iris” hypothesis on weekly timescales. They note that “[w]hile the time scales addressed here are short and not necessarily indicative of climate time scales, it must be remembered that all moist convective adjustment occurs on short time scales.”
    This is a significant find. Climate models don’t exhibit the observed behaviour of cirrus clouds during the large warming and cooling oscillations studied by the authors. Their measured sensitivity to total cloud radiative forcing was -6.1 W/m2/K.

  17. Keith Kloor says:

    You’re assuming Judith and myself  are thinking (referencing) the same Team B as you.

  18. Steve Bloom says:

    This paper is a good entry point to that literature, Keith.

    I said “vanity blog” because of the way you feature their views so extensively while avoiding even the most obvious criticisms of them, much as Watts does with RP Sr.

  19. oneuniverse says:

    Correction to final sentence of 16 : “[..] sensitivity to total cloud radiative forcing [..]” should be “[..] measured sensitivity of total cloud radiative forcing to tropospheric temperature [..]”

  20. Keith Kloor says:

    Steve (18):
    This is from the abstract of the paper you cite: “The time-delayed, abstract, and often statistical nature of the risks of global warming does not evoke strong visceral reactions. These results suggest that we should find ways to evoke visceral reactions towards the risk of global warming, perhaps by simulations of its concrete future consequences for people’s home or other regions they visit or value.”
    And right after that it caution not to overdo it, lest the scary scenarios have a paralyzing effect.
    At any rate, the operative word in the paper is “suggest.” On what basis does this suggstion rest? Can you or anyone point to one example in history where society acted to forestall a distant threat that had not yet begun to manifest itself?

  21. Steve Bloom says:

    I wa hoping you’d take more than just a few minutes to look at that material, Keith.  There are a lot more papers (use Google Scholar).

    As for past examples, there can’t really be a strict parallel, can there?  Even so I think we can find a few instructive ones, e.g. the Tokugawa Shogunate’s forest policy as described by Jared Diamond in Collapse

    IMHO the way forward is to make use of the increasing frequency of extremes, although that means scientists will need to agree on a suitable vocabulary.  

  22. Keith Kloor says:


    The paper you link to is well worth reading. I encourage everyone to have a look. I just don’t think it supports what you think it does. For example, here is one passage:

    “The concretization of future events and moving them closer in time and space seem to hold promise as interventions that will raise visceral concern.”

    I believe this is something that Romm has taken to heart at his blog.

    Finally, if some of the authors suggestions don’t work, they note, rather mordantly, that the problem will be self-correcting:

    “Increasing personal evidence of global warming and its potentially devastating consequences can be counted on to be an extremely effective teacher and motivator. Unfortunately,
    such lessons may arrive too late for corrective action.”

  23. Steve Bloom says:

    It’s not at all clear to me what contradiction you’re seeing, Keith.

  24. afeman says:

    The paper that Steve cites, at least in its abstract, appears to support Romm’s approach.  Except for silencing people, of course.

  25. JamesG says:

    Steve B, if you want skeptics to stop talking about fraud you should do the same. Whatever the Idso’s arguments were, bear in mind that Mann took one Idso paper about trees that did not even represent their local temperature and gave it the major weighting in a hockey-stick reconstruction. As long as you guys support bad science like that then you can’t be taken seriously either.
    But now that Copenhagen and subsequent events have proved that the Bric-based ‘Business as usual but research alternative energies and adapt’ plan is the reality of climate policy,  can we now move beyond the tribalism and criticize the assumption-led science that forms the bulk of the IPCC report just as diligently as those heartland presentations. And let’s drop the pretense that journal peer-review even means anything any more: It’s clearly an old boys club where politically correctness is far more important than real correctness.
    I’d agree with Michael Tobin that the IPCC should be at the centre. It started out that way but it was ignored. They then used the hockey-stick to propel themselves into the spotlight but that same stick later also beat them thanks to the rank bad science in it’s construction and and bias in it’s promotion. But even Mann has moved on – well almost – and Trenberth seems prepared to discuss the difficulties of the science in actual scientific terms rather than the vague hand-waves of yesteryear. A win-win scenario, as espoused by RP Snr, is still possible! A lot of people on the skeptic side are happy that energy planning is now taken seriously. That may or may not be due to the carbon scare (I think not) but it’s the next step. The IPCC is now irrelevant.

  26. GFW says:

    Keith said: “You’re assuming Judith and myself are thinking (referencing) the same Team B as you.”

    Would you like to tell us which Team B you are referencing? Eli and I were merely pointing out that the two most famous Team B exercises (one of which gave rise to the term) commissioned by the US Government had the following characteristics:
    1. Their creation was motivated by politically powerful people not expert in the subject area disbelieving the conventional analysis.
    2. They delivered exactly what their political masters asked for.
    3. They were dead wrong.
    4. Later reexamination showed they were subject to far, far greater group-think than the conventional analyses they were challenging.

    So, please, tell us what Team B success story you want to model a climatological Team B upon, and how that will avoid the fate (particularly the four characteristics listed above) of the two most famous Team B examples.

  27. afeman says:

    Huh.  The wikipedia article on Team B indicates that Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld were prominent in it.  It’s what Alanis Morrisette would call ironic.

  28. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #25:  No, JamesG, I want your crowd to keep talking about fraud.  I’d even like you to start holding hockey stick-waving rallies.  Thus will you move down the path from irrelevant to irrelevant and forgotten. 

  29. Keith Kloor says:

    GFW (26): I was not referring to any particular Team B, least of all one apparently synonymous with the Team B that Eli is referencing.

    I knew vaguely about that group in the wiki article but didn’t know (until now) they were called Team B. I’m much more aware of the independent shop in the DoD that Rumsfeld set up to circumvent the CIA assessment of “Curveball’s “unreliablility and its take on the WMD’s.

    So just for the record, neither of these Team B incarnations is what I had in mind when I suggested that a Team B for climate policy (not climate science) was a good idea.

  30. Keith (4) I’m unsure of what you mean by ‘climate advocates’ but I can report that climate scientists have said: The prospect of a four-degree Celsius rise in global average temperatures in 50 years is alarming ““ but not alarmist, climate scientists now believe.
    And you made multiple references to climate scientists and Team B at the outset.  It was unclear to me you were are talking about policy. Who the hell is Team A on policy? Not the IPCC as you suggested in the opening – they don’t do policy.

  31. oneuniverse says:

    The concretization of future events and moving them closer in time and space seem to hold promise as interventions that will raise visceral concern.”
    The paper is recommending misrepresenting the scientific research – lying in order to transmit the true risk of climate change through the flawed public cognition of the threat, seems to be the justification.
    Romm may be following the lead of the IPCC AR4 report, which has at least three viscerally emotive apparent potential  ecocatastrophes resulting from climate change :
    – the likely possibility of melted Himalayan glaciers by 2035 .
    – the threat of up to 50% reduction in rain-fed crop yield in north Africa by 2020
    – the vulnerability of the Amazon which “could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation”, based not on peer-reviewed literature but a report from an enviromental group WWF – the rainforest is actually more robust than that.
    – the likely possibility that most of the  Himalayan glaciers will have melted by 2035, with catastrophic eco-consequences for tens or hundreds of millions. Official queries, including two by the government of Japan, were essentially ignored. Dr. Pachauri dimissed concerns that were voiced to him personally.
    Threats to coral reefs were based on articles by Greenpeace. The publication of the increasing threat of mosquito-borne malaria resulted in the resignation of Dr. Reiter at protest at the unscientific treatment of the material.  Further research shows that the threat has not expanded.
    Dr. Tol, a lead author in AR3 and a contributing author in AR4, and Dr. Watson , chairman of the IPCC from 1997-2002, have voiced critical concern about bias in the IPCC reports. They’ve respectively recommended a strong independent chair, and an investigation.
    Keith, is your investigative instinct not drawn to the bias and exaggeration in the IPCC reports, as noted by the IPCC’s own past chairman, who’s called for an investigation?
    It’s not appropriate to distort what’s supposed to be the state-of-the-art review of climate science in order to “raise visceral concern”. And now that we know we were being spun a tale, shouldn’t we be a little alarmed by the thinking behind such a strategy? Aren’t governments potentially going to act on a threat that’s forecast for 2035, even though it wouldn’t actually be apparent for centuries, if at all? That’s could result in a catastrophic misallocation of resources.
    Effective management of resources require transparent access to all the data. It’s very unwise to allow misinformation into a system for use in making policy decisions affecting hundreds of millions, particularly for per-capita resource-restricted countries such as India, just to get an “emotional sell”.
    Is there a manual somewhere which lets policy makers know the real numbers, so that they don’t act on the misinformation, which was only directed at the public?

  32. GFW says:

    Keith (29),
    I don’t know how to blockquote on this site, so I’ll improvise. You wrote:
    I knew vaguely about that group in the wiki article but didn’t know (until now) they were called Team B. I’m much more aware of the independent shop in the DoD that Rumsfeld set up to circumvent the CIA assessment of “Curveball’s “unreliablility and its take on the WMD’s.

    So just for the record, neither of these Team B incarnations is what I had in mind when I suggested that a Team B for climate policy (not climate science) was a good idea.

    Ok, I can accept that you weren’t aware of the origin of the term, and we can blame Will Happer for using it. Note however, that Will very much does know the origin and implications of the term, as he specifically mentioned the DoD and CIA in his congressional testimony:

    “We need to establish a Team B of competent scientists, charged with questioning the party line. The DoD and the CIA do this, there was a devil’s advocate (promoter fidei) for sainthood, why not the same for climate change?”

    It thus makes one strongly wonder if Will Happer is looking to do exactly what those Team B exercises did – produce a pre-determined politically motivated result. I would repeat my question to you, Keith: given the bad history of Team B exercises by the US government how would a climatological Team B be organized to avoid the abject failures I described in comment 26? Can you point to a successful model to follow?

    An additional important point, when you said “climate policy (not climate science)” in the excerpt above, I felt like the goalposts had just been moved. When Judith Curry endorsed Will Happer’s idea, she suggested the Heartland Conference presenters as such a Team B. She then laid out quick synopses of those presentations. Assuming she did them justice (she was there, I was not) they’re overwhelmingly about challenging the science. Also, Will said “competent scientists”, not “competent policy experts”. With that clarification in mind, do you still endorse the idea? Or are proposing something quite different from the Happer/Curry Team B?

  33. oneuniverse says:

    GFW: “Note however, that Will very much does know the origin and implications of the term [..]”
    Slight correction : we know Happer knew the origins, but we don’t know if he knew the implications.

  34. coby says:

    I’m also curious as to what exactly this “Team B” idea is.  Is about research, or research assessments…?
    Regardless, I can’t find any merit in the notion on my own, some explanation would be helpful…

  35. oneuniverse says:

    Keith, I was curious as to why you seem to show no curiousity about the revelations of bias in the IPCC report.
    I now see, from reading your post back in January when these stories were breaking, that your concern was more your about placating your “climate advocate” readers :
    “Let me be the first to point out the common denominator: the UK press is responsible for all the takedowns, some of them inadvertent. So climate advocates, please don’t take your frustrations out on the spindly U.S. media. ”
    At that point, you seem to be pleading with your readers that at least it wasn’t the U.S. media that was reporting on a topic of public interest (I see Steve Bloom turned up in the comments to insult you anyway). Do you really think it was somehow better not to report on flaws and apparent bias in the report ?
    Why not do a Q&A with Richard Tol ? He’s a prominent author ofthe IPCC reports, and not a skeptic of the science in the WG1 (although not his area of expertise), yet he’s stated that “[o]ver the years, the IPCC has become “a political institution that pretends to be scientific”, and that “Working Groups 2 and 3 of the AR4 violated all IPCC procedures. “.
    Isn’t it worth checking out his story? He’s an insider to the process. The biasing flaws in the report that have come to light so far were spectacular, and Dr. Tol certainly isn’t the first to raise concerns.
    My question for Dr. Tol would be “if you know the WG2, 3 and 4 are biased and scientifically compromised, what makes you remain confident about the work carried out for WG1, given that it’s not your area of expertise?”.

  36. oneuniverse says:

    You list on your site scientific organisations  which have endorsed the findings the IPCC reports, but there doesn’t seem to have been much independent assement – they cite documents like the IPPC reports and the Stern report, and base their conclusions upon these reports.
    They cannot have carried out (competent) independent reviews, as any such review would have immediately picked up on such obvious flawed elements of the report concerning the Himalayan glaciers, the crop yeild reduction in north Africa by 2020, and 40% of the Amazon at risk from slight precipitation changes – none of these are supported by the scientific literature, and were based on articles by environmental pressure groups.
    These issues were know to many, they were raised and ignored during the IPCC review process, and your teams B-Z+ all failed to spot them.

  37. In #29 Keith says he wants a “B Team” on climate policy, not on climate science. I don’t think that was what Happer was proposing. Heartland wants to debate WG I science endlessly, and argue that no policy can be put in place until the science is, in one of their favorite words, “settled”.
    Judith is happy to debate WG I science endlessly, because after all that is her intellectual interest. I would have no problem with it myself, except in that uncertainty is being abused as a proxy for ignorance and an excuse for inaction. The balance of evidence shows that a policy response is long overdue.
    The idea that there is a consensus on policy that would require a “B team”, which Keith is proposing, seems very implausible to me. If only. I’m happy to be convinced otherwise if Keith wants to make a case. Keith should understand, though, that this is a very different idea than the one Happer is proposing and as I understand it Curry is endorsing.

  38. Keith Kloor says:

    Michael (37):

    In the same PLoS Biology essay I just posted on, here is Paul Ehrlich (emphasis added):

    The urgent need for this call to action is clear when you consider that efforts to address even the most publicized of environmental problems””climate disruption””have fallen far short. Fifteen international conferences have effected no significant change in the accumulation of greenhouse gases and no enforceable agreement yet to reverse the trend. How much failure is enough?

    Re: The Hartwell Paper I’ve been posting on, this is the first sentence from their Executive Summary:

    Climate policy, as it has been understood and practised by many governments of the world under the Kyoto Protocol approach, has failed to produce any discernable real world reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases in fifteen years.

    Are we on board so far? Here’s the following two sentences in that Hartwell Exec Summary (emphasis added):

    The underlying reason for this is that the UNFCCC/Kyoto model was structurally flawed and doomed to fail because it systematically misunderstood the nature of climate change as a policy issue between 1985 and 2009. However, the currently dominant approach has acquired immense political momentum because of the quantities of political capital sunk into it.

    Though the Hartwell folks would probably reject the Team B moniker (esp given its past association, which Eli usefully commented on), I’ve made it clear in several places now that Hartwell’s  alternative policy approach reflects the kind of “Team B” idea I had in mind. After all, their essay fundamentally rejects the dominant policy approach employed.

    Now, just to give you an idea what the mindset is with respect to Hartwell, two climate advocates and frequent commenters at this site have approvingly linked to this Policy Lass post, which shows nothing but contempt for the Hartwell essay. The Lass post doesn’t even bother to make a good faith effort to engage with the Hartwell paper.

    Given Hank’s and Steve’s approving citation of it, I think you can see the environment we operate in with respect to any criticism of the “currently dominant approach” to climate policy.

    Meanwhile, to quote Paul Ehrlich, “How much failure is enough?”

  39. Ron Broberg says:

    I smell a funding proposal.

  40. Keith Kloor says:

    Oneuniverse (35):

    If I used this blog to follow up on everything that piqued my curiosity, I’d be homeless and starving.


  41. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #38:  That seemed intentionally obtuse, Keith.  The critique of the HP really can be summed up in just a word, as she does:  “capitulation.”  But since you don’t get it, let me explain briefly:

    We have a problem so large in its consequences that it must be solved.  Simply giving up on it, either directly or as the HG does by advocating addressing it around the edges because it’s too hard to take it on directly, is a mistake, the former for obvious reasons and the latter because edge “solutions” won’t add up to anything like enough.

    All of that said, there’s some good funding to be had talking about such things.


  42. oneuniverse says:

    Keith, thanks (40). I’d say the accusations from IPCC authors, and the plentiful examples that have come to light, of bias & distortion in the IPCC’s scientific reviews are pertinent to the discussion of team B, and policy decisions.
    Team A failed because they created a flawed and biased review of the science (and people eventually noticed), not because they didn’t present it in the right way.

  43. Wow, have we lost our way here.  Heartland Institute as a Team B?  Why are we engaging this notion?  Perhaps we should ask Ken Cuccinelli or Sen James Inhofe to debate policy?  If in fact Heartland is “better” than last year, so what?  Intelligent Design is better than Creationism and yet evolutionary biologists would not consider them to be Team B.  ID is smarter and prettier every year but it is still the same ugly duckling at heart(land).

    Here is a post by an 18 year old Canadian high school student that you should all read:

    A Well-Documented Strategy

    If an 18 year old student gets it…..

    Scott A. Mandia, Professor of Physical Sciences
    Selden, NY
    My Global Warming Blog
    Twitter: AGW_Prof
    Global Warming Fact of the Day Facebook Group

  44. oneuniverse says:

    Scott, that’s a strawman argument from the student – the criticism of AGW climate science is neither verified nor disproved by the quality of the tobacco industries’ attempts to discredit the research into the health risks of smoking.
    Apart from the logical vacuity of the student’s argument, I suppose it should be pointed out that the anti-smoking lobby never needed to fake their scientific reports, unlike the IPCC, since their science was sound, and that the number of ‘tobacco skeptics’ fell over time, whereas the number of those unconvinced by the case for dangerous AGW has been increasing, as new information is learnt about the mechanisms of the climate, and about the biased nature of the IPCC’s reports.

  45. “whereas the number of those unconvinced by the case for dangerous AGW has been increasing”

    That may be true for the lay person, especially here in the US, but fewer and fewer in the scientific community agree with that statement.  Are you suggesting that the person on the street knows more about climate science than those doing the research in the field?

    The Scientific Consensus

  46. Nils says:

    If I’m not mistaken, with regards to climate the “Team B” notion  was introduced in 2009 by the Heartland Institute’s NIPCC report (see pp. iii + v). Heartland tried to bring itself more into the game by advocating itself as a necessary correcting factor to the IPCC. Now Judy Curry takes this up, ignoring that we already have teams A through Z, bringing to mind a famous catchphrase from an old tv series soon to be a major motion picture, which might also be in the heads of the Heartland guys right now: “I love it when a plan comes together!”
    Anyway, I do share Judith’s belief that there can be valuable signal in between all the noise, which frankly is all the Background to the ICCC consists of. But one has to prepare for some deep digging in order to find good research questions out of all the presentations held there.

  47. dhogaza says:

    “Team A failed because they created a flawed and biased review of the science (and people eventually noticed), not because they didn’t present it in the right way.”
    I’m sorry, but this is a load of c**p.

  48. dhogaza says:

    “They cannot have carried out (competent) independent reviews, as any such review would have immediately picked up on such obvious flawed elements of the report concerning the Himalayan glaciers, the crop yeild reduction in north Africa by 2020, and 40% of the Amazon at risk from slight precipitation changes ““ none of these are supported by the scientific literature”

    One out of three isn’t bad … in baseball.  When discussing science, not so much.

  49. […] a “˜Team B’, to analyze climate science was proposed by by William Happer of the Marshall Institute, it was […]

  50. Did you hear about the postmodernist mobster?
    He’s the one who makes you an offer you can’t understand.

  51. GFW says:

    I think this thread has gone off-topic. If Keith ever comes back to it, I would suggest that there has been no advancement since he did not respond to comment 32.

    As for the off-topic stuff, while analogies are not *formal* logical arguments, they can still be useful. The connection between tobacco anti-science, asbestos anti-science and AGW anti-science is somewhat more than an analogy though. It’s a lot of the *same* people driving it. Not the rank and file blog commenters, I mean the organizations like Heartland, CEI, etc.

    BTW, yesterday I realized that organizations like CEI have been purposefully misnamed. They aren’t “think tanks”. They’re “justify tanks”. The policies they support have been predetermined by ideology. They then spend all their effort on justifying them.

  52. Keith Kloor says:

    GFW (51):

    I’ve reiterated several times that I have been referring to climate policy. I laid it out again in # 38. I’d just be repeating myself at this point, so I’m not sure what else you want me to answer.

    And if you read my post carefully, you’d see that I deliberately and transparently moved the goalposts–to play off the team b concept with respect to climate policy.

    But nobody wants to talk about that here. It’s much easier to be dismissive and disparaging (e.g Bloom at #41). If nobody here wants to discuss any alternative approaches to climate policy, then what’s to debate?

  53. Steve Bloom says:

    Keith, I will admit that I think the HG is wrong.  Up in #41 I said why, albeit in highly summary fashion.  I would have gone into it at greater length, and indeed I think it would be an informative discussion, but you’ve given every indication that you think it would be more fun to discuss the HP without first examining its premises to see if the whole edifice has an adequate foundation.  IMHO that’s an illogical approach.  Let me know if and when you decide to change it.   

  54. GFW says:

    Keith, I’m very glad to hear that you do not endorse a Team B on climate science. The original post was (IMO) less clear on that point than you appear to think it is.

    Presumably the paragraph beginning “Now this may be a subtle distinction on my part…” is where you intended that shift, but the paragraph ends with “climate science community”. Had you said “climate policy community” *your* intent would have been much more clear, but you couldn’t, because that would have mischaracterized J. Curry’s position (because she nominated the Heartland presenters, whose presentations were almost entirely about (questioning) the science.)

    (If there’s anyone else still reading this thread, do you see this as a failure of reading comprehension by me, or a failure of logical construction by Keith?)

    I agree fully with the desire you express in (54) to have a productive discussion about various approaches to climate policy. But sensible policy depends on reasonably accurate science. If mainstream climate science says the Charney sensitivity is between 2C and 4.5C with 3C most likely, but half the policy-makers are listening to Heartland’s favorite scientists whose alternative science claims a much lower sensitivity, then there will not be a meaningful discussion of response policies.

  55. GFW says:

    Erratum – “desire you express in (54)” should be “desire you express in (52)”

  56. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #54:  I think Keith’s position evolved.

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