Stuck in the Middle with Them

Andy Revkin must feel like a  wind dummy  everyone’s punching bag. Last week, he had the temerity to say that “climategate” 2, like the 2009 episode, couldn’t be easily dismissed. So of course he got slapped around by all sorts of people in the climate concerned community, including some prominent scientists:

You are claiming that the emails ‘raise questions’ and that they are ‘disturbing’. This is not journalism, Andy, it’s tabloid journalism. It’s equivalent to the kind of thing the mainstream media did in the 1950s around communism, the kind of thing many outlets are doing now around muslims (remember how quickly everyone jumped on the assumption that it was some muslim or other, not Tim McVeigh, in Oklahoma?).

I’m disappointed and sad, and once again you should be ashamed.

This week he’s taking hits from frothy climate skeptics and conservative bloggers, who have charged him with being biased (against them), based on their reading of the new batch of emails, some of which contain communications between Revkin and climate scientists. One blogger at Commentary, now retrospectively assessing Revkin’s coverage of climategate 1 (when he was on NYT staff as a reporter) somehow concludes that he “ended up doing all he could to snuff it [the controversy] out.” Really? This must have been a funny way to go about it.

Well, Revkin has ended up doing an interesting Q & A with that Commentary blogger, which is posted here at Dot Earth.

At this point, given the charged emotions and politicization associated with climate change, any mainstream media reporter or blogger writing about this latest “climategate” flare-up should expect to be put through the paces. Or, in Revkin’s case, a buzzsaw. And given his special talent for displeasing the polar ends of the climate spectrum, perhaps this song is appropriate.

61 Responses to “Stuck in the Middle with Them”

  1. Anon says:

    Somehow I suspect Andy Revkin will sleep soundly tonight, indifferent to the attempted shaming by Eric Steig.

  2. You know what made me smile. When I found that mail where Mann says you cant trust Revkin. At that instant I knew my trust in Andrew was well placed. 

  3. sharper00 says:

    I’m sure that his Journo-sense is tingling in delight at being criticised by both sides.

  4. Every once in a while I’m able to visualize climate coverage as if it were any other scientific issue. I think about all the times sources were more or less telling me that scientists on the opposite end of a particular debate were misinformed or worse — maliciously spreading false information, even. I think about the times that sources requested changes in quotes they gave me, for reasons other than accuracy. Then I think about all the times that sources have told me what they would and wouldn’t like to see in an article, for more or less political reasons.

    In other words, there is a tremendous amount of heat and light in this debate that is about the process of journalism, communication and truth-finding itself — not the science of climate change. 

  5. Alexander Harvey says:

    These emails tell us something about pressures, tensions and disputes going on largely within a small bubble of climate scientists. It may not inform us as to whether such tensions and pressures are typical.
     
    There has been some commentary to the effect of suggesting “that is how science is, get over it”. Which could lead one to suspect that all of it looks much as is portrayed in those emails. I must wonder if that is both true and a good thing. A number of people might be pleased to suggest that the science is all like that.
     
    I’ve been going over the original sceptical challenges from the late 1980s and they seem to cluster around questioning whether Global Warming and the Greenhouse Effect are “real, causal and exceptional”. At that time, the theory was somewhat ahead of the evidence, as it should be. The temperature records were new and disputed, sea level rise was ambiquous and contested, the warming pattern, largely in the early 20th Century, didn’t match the increase in GHG concentrations, largely the latter part of the 20th Century at that date, little was known regarding the extent and rapidity of previous warming periods.
     
    Much has happened since then, particularly in addressing the questions “real and causal”, largely due to better instrumentation and simply more time. Satellite produced global atmospheric temperature records and altimetry being notable.
     
    Did we arrive at a point where the question of exceptionality became perceived as the “weak link” in the argument?
     
    If it is the case that a head of pressure was built up to resolve the question of the warming being exceptional then that could have led to the perception of exceptional tensions and pressures by those who could shed light on such issues, in particular the trend and natural variability since the last glacial retreat?
     
    It seems to be a difficult nut to crack, evidence as to the natural variability of the global temperature record prior to thermometers is weak and the question as to whether the current temperatures are exceptional with respect to the last one or two thousand years currently turns on a few tenths of a degree. Much depends on the statistical analysis of what can and cannot be inferred from various proxy data.
     
    From the emails we may get some feel about the internal dynamics of a group of people who may be able to answer such a question and of their perception of the influence of outsiders who challenged their analysis. If they felt under pressure, would that be generated internally or from the needs and influence of other players, perhaps the IPCC, government agencies, other climate disiplines, assessment report deadlines, etc..
     
    We have some record of their thoughts and feelings regarding imminent or day to day issues facing this group of scientists, but perhaps little of the overall context that motivated them.
     
    I think it must be true to say that the evidence of exceptionality as portrayed in the “Hockey Stick” was siezed upon by the UN, the campaigning groups, politians, and the media, with little apparent regard to the complexities, difficulties and the oppurtunities for challenge, inherent in its construction and interpretation. Perhaps the caveats like possibly and probably got converted to incontravertably by those with the tendency to do such things. Rightly or wrongly a lot of people were deeply mistrustful of their results. I thought was always going to be a hard sell with ample opportunity to play badly. Did an overselling of the results lead to additional pressure on those responsible?
     
    It is my prejudice not to put much trust in the “scientists behave like this, nothing unusual in this” message. I doubt it is true. I think that there was something exceptional in all this, for instance I doubt many disciplines have attracted so much ongoing attention from as many outsiders. If that is the case they may be seen as more sympathetic characters. If there are emails that shed light on the interaction between the scientists and their paymasters or taskmasters perhaps those would round out the picture. Perhaps the journalists could try to find that and other context to allow us to understand more fully why this came to pass.
     
    Alex

  6. laursaurus says:

    All I have time to say:
    Bravo, Alex!
    This is the most nuanced and insightful comment I’ve read regarding CG2.
    I’ve been on hiatus from the climate change blogosphere, recently returning upon the new wave of emails. This great blog seems to have been invaded by a lot flame-throwers. It’s refreshing to see the quality of dialogue (which Keith has worked hard to foster) that first attracked me to C-a-S. 

  7. laursaurus says:

    Honorable mention to Steve Mosher, too!
    Have you re-thought your decision to avoid digging through the “dumpster” like you did the first time?
    It looks like no one else is stepping up to the plate this time either. 

  8. stan says:

    Everyone thought that an Iraqi or middle eastern man was involved in the Ok City bombing because witnesses said that McVeigh was accompanied by one in the days before the attack, was with one when he rented the van used in the bombing, the FBI put out an alert to be on the lookout for one, and the bombers had close contacts with them going back to the Philippines.

    People didn’t jump on an assumption.  They were relying on a number of witness accounts and an FBI alert.

  9. OPatrick says:

    Alex Harvey:

    “I think it must be true to say that the evidence of exceptionality as portrayed in the “Hockey Stick” was siezed upon by the UN, the campaigning groups, politians, and the media, with little apparent regard to the complexities, difficulties and the oppurtunities for challenge, inherent in its construction and interpretation.”

    I’m sure you do think it’s true to say this, but does the evidence bear you out? You use some strong words – “seized upon” “little apparent regard to the complexities” (apparently this is nuanced and insightful!) – and I don’t think there is justification for that language. Had you said something like “the UN, campaigning groups, politicians and the media used the hockey stick with too much confidence and may not have emphasised the uncertainty as strong as they should” your point might be more credible, but then it wouldn’t have had the same rhetorical impact, would it?

  10. Mary says:

    @Christopher Mims: that’s an interesting comment, because I was just saying to a genetics researcher how sad it was that on your Slate piece how starkly the get-yur-gubmit-regulation-out-of-my-companies attitude was rallying FDA-haters and conservatives to action on that topic. And I was sad that the discussion was breaking down that way because it was going to become exactly like all the other debates now–with much more heat than light.
     

  11. Alexander Harvey says:

    Keith:
     
    Completely off topic:
     
    Lucia (The Blackboard) has received a “Getty Letter”. From what I can gather it is in respect of an “hot link” posted by a visitor which produced an image of a bird on her website. The letter contains a demand for payment with respect of a breach of copyright. I have no idea if Getty can enforce such a demand but it is a worry. They are a several billion $ business and bloggers are not. The devil may be in the details. If I have understood the situation, the image “hot link” was not to the original image but to a thrid party’s copy of the image. It sounds like they are trying it on but I guess their lawyers have looked into things.
     
    Alex

  12. Anteros says:

    Interesting Post.
     
    I would have thought that as a rule of thumb, in a contentious, important, and politicised debate a journalist attracting the ire of both sides is necessarily doing something right. When I find myself getting seriously irked by Andy Revkin [or yourself, Keith] it should tell me much more about myself then journalist.
     
    A perfect example of this is the comment from Eric Steig that you linked above. He states categorically that the only issue of CG1 was whether Phil Jones manipulated data to make the warming look worse than it actually was. Seriously? I’m almost lost for words……
     
    Journalists who don’t have at least some semblance of objectivity can be very useful if we want to discover something of our own confirmation biases. We can compare our reactions to their articles with the reactions of those we disagree with. It takes a bit of effort, of course, but the opportunity is there if we want it.


    In contrast, an adversarial ‘debate’ will usually teach us nothing. For example I have had some exchanges with OPatrick about WUWT and Tamino. My actual experience is that WUWT is a little nutty, somewhat uneducated, quite fun, mostly optimistic, and doesn’t cause me the slightest offence – even though some of the commenters are, er, a bit paranoid. My experience of Tamino is of repellent, dogmatic and unpleasant people with a mentality of fundamentalism discussing ‘evil’ deniers. After the shock of OPatrick saying it’s not only the other way round but it is inconceivable that the two can be compared, I notice that it is a struggle for me to envisage the opposite of what I actually experience – probably because the experience is emotional in nature, not merely an intellectual observation.


    Even with quite a lot of effort, there seems to be a bridge that is difficult to cross. Somehow seeing both my own and somebody else’s reaction to a third party automatically informs me in a way that would never happen with merely the ‘me’ and ‘them’ polarisation. This may be only when journalism is at its best, but it can serve to hold a mirror up in front of us all.


    For that to be a possibility, I guess articles have to have the appearance of being of the ‘other side’ to both parties. which means necessarily antagonising everyone and the possession of a thick skin.



     

  13. Anteros says:

    Damn typos…
     
    Para 1 ‘….than the journalist’
     
    para 3 ‘ journalists who have…’

  14. Anteros says:

    Alex @10 –
     
    I’m not a lawyer, but I think in the UK they’d be laughed all the way to not-getting-anywhere-near-court. Seriously – the error was clearly inadvertent, not for any kind of profit, and removed immediately Lucia was alerted to it. If I’m wrong, I’ll put up her bail money 🙂

  15. OPatrick says:

    Anteros, Steig actually said “the most important ‘legitimate question raised’ was whether he had manipulated data” – was “only” a typo too? 

  16. Anteros says:

    OPatrick –
     
    No – laziness. I ended up ‘exaggerating-to-emphasise’, as I paraphrased from memory.
     
    Apologies if I mis-represented Steig.
     
    I certainly didn’t have that question myself and I don’t know anybody who did, so it still seems like a perfect example of a straw man argument. There were dozens of ‘legitimate’ questions raised – a great number to do with ‘hiding the decline’ and the undue unwarrented six-time representation of the hockey stick graph in TAR. You might think it acceptable – I see it as appalling and reprehensible.
     
    And no, it doesn’t change much of the ‘science’

  17. Alexander Harvey says:

    Anteros #13,
     
    I hope it is a non-issue, but lawyers letters with demands for payment are upsetting enough for most people. I like people to get paid for their original work (long arguments with amater, semi-pro musicians/DJs over performing rights returns and mechanical rights payments but not people playing tapes in the park).
     
    Do you, or others think that there is something inherently polarising about the blog format. As opposed to message boards, and all communities where there is a “start new topic” button?
     
    The blog has the proprietor’s theme or more of the day and it is a question of post something on or off that topic or move on. Moving on to other blogs on the same theme, e.g. climate, and one may find just the same topics.
     
    Are there any active participatory climate sites that are not blogs?
     
    I don’t like blogs and it might mine and others lives more cheery if I went elsewhere.
     
    Alex

  18. Dean says:

    Keith – If you want to be balanced about Steig’s comment, then you should not have clipped your excerpt to avoid this:
     
    “Now, two years later, I am very glad to see you trying to emphasize the context more, and emphasizing that this is all a distraction to the reality of climate change.”
     
    Makes it look like you’re the one missing balance.

  19. Alexander Harvey says:

    OPatrick #8,
     
    You are quite right, I had stepped it up from, “I must say …” which is a clear indication of opinion, to “I think it must be true to say …” which is too close to the definitive. My error, and your rewrite is better anyway, and perhaps more persuasive. In a difficult balance between hedging every phrase and bombast that one was regretable.
     
    Obliged Alex

  20. Anteros says:

    Alex @ 16 –
     
    You are absolutely right. If I’d thought about it a little longer I’d have remembered that such letters [especially with lawyer-speak] can be very disturbing to the recipient. Easy to say “it’s all b*oll*ocks” when it concerns someone else. My comment would have been better placed at Lucia’s blog.
     
    I don’t think it is necessarily blogs that are polarising, but the ‘anonymousness’ of the internet is surely a big influence.
     
    I have some sympathy with you. For myself, I only get dragged into unedifying partisan exchanges because of the way I am – sometimes. I’m also something of a tyro in this world. Usually, and especially if I am in an engaging mood, I find myself learning and discussing and enjoying myself in the climate blogosphere – at Climate Etc, here, or Lucia’s [not too many un-partisan sites..]
     
    You strike me as particularly un-cantankerous – are there not little pockets of calm amidst the noise and haste where you can interact with similarly disposed individuals? My observation is that people tend to find that which mirrors their behaviour. If you keep being so reasonable, you will by and large attract (mostly..) reasonable interaction.
     
     
     
     

  21. OPatrick says:

    Keith, it’s been said many times before but the problem with the ‘offending both sides’ position is that it actually suits one group far more than the other. Those who are only interested in fostering a sense of doubt are quite happy to be criticised sometimes so long as doubt is being cast on the opposition at others. They can therefore be supportive of your position and seem evenhanded, whilst getting exactly what they want from you.

  22. hunter says:

    Andy’s prpblem is simple: He is trying to ride two horses and its not working out.
    He is a cheer leader for AGW who became famous allowing the AGW hypesters to make unchallenged claims for years while he posed as a journalist. this delights AGW beleivers and annoys skeptics.
    Every once in awhile he seeks to remind people he whats to be thought of as a journalist, and so when he does, he annoys those whom he been cheerleading for and surprises skeptics that he can actually report the news.

    Then he gets slapped around by believers and puts his cheerleader uniform back on and things go back to their typical mode. Ths lapping around was revealed in C1 e-mails and of course int he gentle treatment of Joe Romm towards any cheer leader who gets out of line.

         

  23. Anteros says:

    OPatrick –
     
    I don’t think you quite see how you have exposed your thinking. Expressing doubt is indeed what many would like to do because ‘doubting’ exemplifies their position.
     
    For you to have your agenda advanced, you need to have the doubters silenced. In fact you don’t want any opposition at all. This is exactly why the ‘consensus’ has the some of the attributes of fundamentalism – you want to silence the opposition. Why should doubt not be cast upon your position? What is not even-handed about having your consensus view countered with a sceptical one ie that the consensus is wrong? I think the consensus is wrong – why should I not have my voice heard?
     
    It would be equally non-even-handed to find ways to silence the alarmists and only have sceptical views expressed – which would mean absolute silence.
     
    It really does sound like you don’t want a public conversation where all can have their views heard, you want a ‘controlled’ press that just suits your agenda. 
     
    ‘Even-handed’ means what it says.

  24. Alexander Harvey says:

    Dean & Keith:
     
    The full paragraph:
     
    Dean’s Quote:
    “Now, two years later, I am very glad to see you trying to emphasize the context more, and emphasizing that this is all a distraction to the reality of climate change.”
     
    Missing Bit:
    “Yet you are also still doing the same thing you were two years ago.”
     
    Keith’s Quote:
    “You are claiming that the emails ‘raise questions’ and that they are ‘disturbing’. This is not journalism, Andy, it’s tabloid journalism. It’s equivalent to the kind of thing the mainstream media did in the 1950s around communism, the kind of thing many outlets are doing now around muslims (remember how quickly everyone jumped on the assumption that it was some muslim or other, not Tim McVeigh, in Oklahoma?).

    I’m disappointed and sad, and once again you should be ashamed.”
     
    The first and third have very different tones, and could be said to balance
     
    The missing bit connects the flow and I can read the whole in two different ways. For me the whole more naturally makes the tone of the third part more forceful, yet I can see that others may judge differently.
     
    Alex

  25. EdG says:

    Re #2 “When I found that mail where Mann says you cant trust Revkin… I knew my trust in Andrew was well placed.”

    That certainly did raise Revkin’s standing in my eyes too. And I had the opposite reaction to anyone who Mann recommended or trusted.

    I was also impressed with Revkin’s Q & A blog. That took a lot of courage and is a step in the right, open direction.

    As to Revkin getting ‘slapped’ by both sides as Keith puts it, I see that as a sign of leadership in professional politicians and a sign that someone is getting closer to the ‘truth in the middle.’ That too takes great courage. For humans, as in nature, stepping out from the herd always presents some risk of ‘slapping.’ 

    But change is the only constant. Safer to move to the middle now. Just imagine if Revkin had been so brave two years ago.

  26. OPatrick says:

    Anteros

    “I don’t think you quite see how you have exposed your thinking. Expressing doubt is indeed what many would like to do because “˜doubting’ exemplifies their position.”

    No, it’s not expressing doubt that I have a concern with, it’s the attempt to create a sense of doubt irrespective of whether doubt is justified by reality. There are some who do not want to see any positive action taken to address anthropogenic climate change, for whatever reason. For this group creating a sense of doubt is good enough to achieve their aim. Doubt means that action won’t be taken.

    I have, of course, not said that your voice shouldn’t be heard. I’ve pointed out that ‘middle ground’ journalism suits one group more than it does the other.

  27. EdG says:

    #24 Alex,

    Just to clarify, what you describe as “Keith’s quote” is from Steig.

    And, according to his selective and convoluted logic, the investigation of Watergate must have been ‘tabloid journalism’ too.

    That said, given the ‘work’ of this “prominent scientists” on Antartica and for the Team, what he says is both predictable and irrelevant…. except for its irony. The rest of his quote seems to be describing his own methods.

  28. NewYorkJ says:

    Dean: Makes it look like you’re the one missing balance.

    In Keith’s fervent strive for a “balanced” narrative, he ends up appearing very unbalanced.  Funny how that works.

  29. BBD says:

    OPatrick @ 26
     
    No, it’s not expressing doubt that I have a concern with, it’s the attempt to create a sense of doubt irrespective of whether doubt is justified by reality. There are some who do not want to see any positive action taken to address anthropogenic climate change, for whatever reason. For this group creating a sense of doubt is good enough to achieve their aim. Doubt means that action won’t be taken.


    Very well put. Hence the need to hold the ‘sceptics’ to a higher standard of factual accuracy in their discourse.


    And never mind if it upsets people.

  30. Anteros says:

    OPatrick
     
    Fair point. I would agree that there are some who oppose taking action on AGW for some not very good reasons, or some very lousy political reasons. 
     
    I suppose the problem is that they aren’t saying anything very different from those of us who are saying ‘hang on, have you really got much evidence for that?’ etc. My guess is that those kind of people are much more powerful in the States – although I know you see them here, too.
     
    Isn’t it also true that a vast amount of noise is being made by those who have no very good reason to believe in CAGW, but whose agenda is suited by jumping on the bandwagon? Aren’t they the mirror of the politically-minded ‘sceptics’?
     
    It would make sense for you to not see them as a problem because they seem to agree with you – and you obviously believe in what you believe. But to me they are hyping up a danger which is not justified by reality – and they don’t care.
     
    So I still see a reason for ‘even-handedness’.

  31. BBD says:

    Anteros
     
    I think the consensus is wrong ““ why should I not have my voice heard?
     
     
    Because you don’t know what you are talking about.

  32. Alexander Harvey says:

    #27 EdG:
     
    Ok and thanks:
     
    #24 Alex:
     
    That should have read “The full paragraph from Steig”
     
    Do please get it right in future. 🙂

  33. Alexander Harvey says:

    #29 BBD:
     
    “Very well put. Hence the need to hold the “˜sceptics’ to a higher standard of factual accuracy in their discourse.

    And never mind if it upsets people.”


    You say people as opposed to them, is that an acceptance of collateral damage?
     
    Alex

  34. NewYorkJ says:

    What is not even-handed about having your consensus view countered with a sceptical one ie that the consensus is wrong?

    Even-handed is not countering an heliocentrist with a geocentrist or a biologist with a creationist, although this approach is preferred by climate contrarians for obvious reasons.  But that’s just politics and false balance journalism.  Even-handed would be accurately representing the views found within the scientific community and literature, which of course means the “debate” looks far different from what commonly appears in public spheres.  That isn’t entertaining enough I suppose.

    In Revkin’s case, he thinks uncritically reporting what the unassailable RPJ thinks about every other post is even-handed.

  35. BBD says:

    Alex
     
    In this case ‘people’ is synonymous with ‘sceptics’.
     
    Nobody else cares what they think.

  36. Anteros says:

    BBD-
     
    When I talk about ‘dogmatic fundamentalism’ you provide so many entertaining examples.
     
    Here is your most persuasive ‘discourse’ of the day – 
     
    ‘Because you don’t know what you are talking about.’


    Is that the best you can do? I suppose it is better than embarrassing yourself with fabrications and (demonstrably) false accusations, and wheedling around being abusive.


    Do you have recollections from the time you weren’t completely closed-minded? Before all you could do was argue from ‘authority’ [Hansen – I ask you!] And chant the same zombie-like phrases as every other ‘believer’.
     
    You’d make a wonderful case for a psycho-pathologist.
     
     

  37. OPatrick says:

    Anteros
    “Isn’t it also true that a vast amount of noise is being made by those who have no very good reason to believe in CAGW, but whose agenda is suited by jumping on the bandwagon? Aren’t they the mirror of the politically-minded “˜sceptics’?”

    There’s no-one who has “no very good reason to believe in” the theory of anthropogenic climate change (this CAGW is your own invention – I don’t know what you mean by it really, but if it’s just that there is a significant possibility of outcomes which would be catastrophic to humanity within the lifetimes of people living today then I would include it too).

    The situation is not a mirror image, it’s not obvious that acceptance of anthropogenic climate changes leads to a particular political position, but it is the case that it threatens one position, which is that there should be minimal government intervention.

  38. Marlowe Johnson says:

    @21
    +2
    I’ve never thought about it in quite these terms, but you’ve nailed it IMHO.

    “Keith, it’s been said many times before but the problem with the “˜offending both sides’ position is that it actually suits one group far more than the other. Those who are only interested in fostering a sense of doubt are quite happy to be criticised sometimes so long as doubt is being cast on the opposition at others. They can therefore be supportive of your position and seem evenhanded, whilst getting exactly what they want from you.”
     

  39. BBD says:

    Anteros
     
    Our exchange about climate sensitivity revealed that you really do not know the first thing about the topic. You were not prepared to admit this. Nor were you remotely prepared to remedy your lack of knowledge by reading.
     
    Yet on and on you go, here and elsewhere. It is irresponsible and tiresome. I hope other knowledgeable commenters here will join me in giving you a hard time about it.



  40. OPatrick says:

    [Hansen – I ask you!]

    Well, since you ask

  41. OPatrick says:

    Marlowe – thanks. Perhaps it hasn’t been said so many times before then!

  42. EdG says:

    #35 – Oh BBD. You just don’t get what the ‘middle’ means when you state that “Nobody else cares what they [sceptics] think.”

    That is the ultimate in close-minded tribalism. Like sticking your fingers in your ears and screaming.

    But what is actually happening in the real world tells us that somebody must care about what they think and about the evidence (or lack of it) for why they think that.  Durban is not exactly shaping up as a victory parade for the AGW promoters.

  43. Anteros says:

    BBD –
     
    You still don’t want to risk the wager do you? £10 a bit steep?
     
    Your closed-mindedness obviously extends to anyone who isn’t a signed-up believer of the ’cause’. Perhaps if you don’t want to learn from me, you can learn from someone else who thought the Milikan Oildrop experiment had profound implications for the history of science – and would undoubtedly have seen the lessons applicable to estimates of climate sensitivity.
     
    His name was Richard Feynman. Perhaps you have heard of him. If you really can read, I recommend you have a look because it will obviously be less embarrassing than saying ‘I was too ignorant to realise Anteros was right all along’.
     
    Now, if you really want to work out how you got into this mess I can help you. You ended up fawning and squirming by saying that CS might be a little bit higher or a little bit lower than 3C, but that it isn’t worth arguing about‘ In a way, that is a total  admission that you should have kept quiet instead of shouting your mouth off without understanding what I had written – even though it was incredibly clear.
     
    Here we go – this is my contention, exactly as it was first stated, and because of which, you lost the plot, before ‘conceding’ that it wasn’t worth arguing about in the first place [then why did you start????} –
     
    “Here’s a prediction based solely but firmly on psychology and sociology ““ with Milikan’s oil experiment as an exemplar. The consensus estimate of net climate sensitivity will fall over time”


    I’m not sure if it is possible to misunderstand this piece of exemplary clarity but you may have possibly managed it. I’ll provide a little help in the way of emphasis –


    “Here’s a prediction based solely but firmly on psychology and sociology ““ with Milikan’s oil experiment as an exemplar. The consensus estimate of net climate sensitivity will fall over time”
     
     
    Now, don’t you think it would have been better, right at the beginning, when faced with something you didn’t understand, to have asked ‘excuse me, can you tell me why the example of Milikan’s Oildrop might lead people to think that the estimate is CS will fall? And by how much?’


    That is what an open-minded person would have done – unless they weren’t at all interested, which would also have been fine as well – it’s a little bit esoteric for many folk. If you didn’t think it was worth arguing about, then really, silence would have saved a great deal of nonsense and desperate fabrication [I do wonder – didn’t you feel a bit odd falsely claiming a quote came from more than a year ago when the evidence is clear for all to see? Did you not feel strange fabricating that I believed CS was between 1 and 2 C when everything I’ve ever said on the subject since 1989 proves that false? do you just make things up for fun??]
     
    There we go. You can learn how you embarrassed yourself, and if you wish, you can let Feynman teach you something about Milikan’s Oildrop. Up to you.
     
    A re-opened mind is a rare thing
     
     
     
     

  44. EdG says:

    #37 “The situation is not a mirror image, it’s not obvious that acceptance of anthropogenic climate changes leads to a particular political position, but it is the case that it threatens one position, which is that there should be minimal government intervention.”

    This is nonsensical. The AGW project implies, indeed depends on for its supposed solution, on more government intervention. So there is a mirror image. You only see one side. From the middle, or simply objectively, both extremes are clearly visible.

  45. Anteros says:

    OPatrick –
     
    Is it true that you think it isn’t possible to have a legitimate reason for disagreeing with your – and the consensus – view?

  46. Tom C says:

    Notice how Steig does not engage Revkin in the realm of ideas but relies exclusively on abuse, culminating with “I’m ashamed of you”.  Steig saw this work time and again for Mann and thought it would work for him as well.

    Maybe the one teensy weensy bit of spine displayed by Revkin represents a “tipping point”.

  47. OPatrick says:

    Anteros, no – that’s not what I said. I said “There’s no-one who has “no very good reason to believe in” the theory of anthropogenic climate change“. There may also be legitimate reasons for disagreeing with this view – and on balance coming down against it – but I think they are few and far between, to be honest. 

  48. BBD says:

    Anteros

    This is disingenuous if not flat-out dishonest – and I will show why:

    Now, if you really want to work out how you got into this mess I can help you. You ended up fawning and squirming by saying that CS might be a little bit higher or a little bit lower than 3C, but that it isn’t worth arguing about”˜ In a way, that is a total  admission that you should have kept quiet instead of shouting your mouth off without understanding what I had written ““ even though it was incredibly clear.

    And this is old hat that was irrelevant the first two times you trotted it out:

    Now, don’t you think it would have been better, right at the beginning, when faced with something you didn’t understand, to have asked ‘excuse me, can you tell me why the example of Milikan’s Oildrop might lead people to think that the estimate is CS will fall? And by how much?’

    Whatever you may think, Milikan has nothing to do with estimating CS.

    Now let’s look at the dishonesty. Remember how you left a previous discussion when you revealed your self-contradictory position on CS:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/2011/11/23/the-meaning-of-climategate-and-its-sequel/#comment-89362

    Yet again you are wrong to think that I need CS to be anything at all. It makes no difference to me. You mistake me for a fundamentalist like yourself.

    But everything you say is predicated on a belief that AGW is not a problem and the “˜orthodox alarmist priesthood’ aka mainstream climate science is mistaken.

    You sum this up:

    The exaggerating and doomsaying will be forgotten and the recollection will be how close we were to disaster.

    For your argument to maintain internal coherence, you do need CS to be low. That is, in the 1 – 2C range.
     
    Posing as an agnostic, or claiming that a bit either way doesn’t matter (‘It makes no difference to me’) is dishonest.
     
    Now we can see just how far you will go:
     
    Did you not feel strange fabricating that I believed CS was between 1 and 2 C when everything I’ve ever said on the subject since 1989 proves that false? do you just make things up for fun??

    And now everyone who missed it the first time can see what you are doing.

  49. Anteros says:

    OPatrick –
     
    You swiftly move from the ‘theory of anthropogenic climate change’ which obviously I and most sceptics believe in, and something that leads to catastrophe within the lifetimes of people now living. Suddenly I’m 100% sceptical and don’t agree with you at all – for many very legitimate reasons.
     
    But AGW doesn’t really say anything at all, does it? It doesn’t necessitate action, it doesn’t even make many claims about the future. That’s where the ‘C’ comes from – because you see catastrophe ahead if we don’t do something dramatic. It is a legitimate view, and I don’t have any problem with you and many other people expressing it.
     
    The problem comes when advocates get a conviction that leads to them believing that that their expectations are ‘the truth’. Hence the appropriate accusations of ‘certainty’ and ‘dogmatism’.
     
    I think that climate science can only talk in the language of uncertainty.

  50. OPatrick says:

    Anteros

    “You swiftly move from the “˜theory of anthropogenic climate change’ which obviously I and most sceptics believe in, and something that leads to catastrophe within the lifetimes of people now living.”

    No, I questioned what you meant by “CAGW”. But the theory of anthropogenic climate change very clearly does involve the possibility of outcomes which are potentially catastrophic to humanity within the medium (decades to centuries) timescale. You seem to want me to be asserting that such outcomes are inevitable.

    Can you give me any conclusive evidence that such outcomes aren’t a significant possibility? I assume you would accept that if the expected temperature rise from a doubling of CO2 is at the upper end of predicted ranges this would have potentially catastrophic consequences? 

  51. Dean says:

    Before somebody says whether they think catastrophe is inevitable, likely, possible, or not, it might help to define what constitutes a catastrophe, particularly since I frequently hear statements to the effect that we “survived” some such, so we will survive this.
     
    So I offer this range of impacts so that Anteros and whoever else can indicate which constitute a catastrophe for humanity. None of this should be taken to imply a prediction.
     
    1. Extinction of homo sapiens
     
    2. Who ever survives lives as a hunter-gatherer
     
    3. 10% global drop in human population
     
    4. No drop in global population, but 25% drop in the population of 3 counties who started with over 100 million people
     
    5. 5% drop in agricultural yields averaged globally (i.e. per hectare)
     
    6. 5% of GDP dedicated to infrastructure (whether due to extreme weather, sea-level increase or whatever)
     
    7. 10% increase in government share of GDP globally
     
    8.  5 Pacific islands home to hundreds of thousands become uninhabitable
     
    9.  Extinction of polar bears
     
    10. Lots of stinky people because they sweat more
     
    ==
     
    Please feel free to ignore my list and suggest any that you think defines the line between catastrophic and non-catastrophic.

  52. Ian says:

    For a start how about:

    2.2 million children will die from diarrhoea and related diseases this year. 
    http://rehydrate.org/diarrhoea/

    1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty
    http://www.livebelowtheline.com/about/what-is-extreme-poverty/  

    These things seem pretty catastrophic and require little in the way of forecasting events a hundred years hence. Catastrophe is generally in the eye of those that are in someway effected. The war raging in Afghanistan has no immediate catastrophic impact upon me but for the average Afghan, well, it’s f###ing hell.

  53. Matt B says:

    @22 Hunter – I agree that Revkin is now a man without a country. If he can consistently wear the journalist hat then he will be more interesting to follow but he will be mercilessly hounded by his former gang for traitorous behavior.
     
    It is funny that of all people Steig comes after him, after Revkin did his best to make Steig look presentable in the Ryan O dust-up. I would think this shows Andy that there will be no pleasing the Church of Consensus, no matter what he does…..so why bother trying to please either side? Freedom awaits, Andy!

  54. OPatrick says:

    Incidentally Keith, thank you for pointing to John Rennie, who I have somehow not come across before.

  55. OPatrick says:

    Dean, for me ‘catastrophe’ is most likely to be (please note – I am not saying this will inevitably happen) a drop in agricultural production, or even just a continued drop in the rate of increase in agricultural production below the level of population increase, leading to increased tensions and eventually increases in conflicts. I fear that this, combined with other stresses from climate change and wider sustainability and economic pressures, will lead to a deteriorating global situation which it will be difficult to escape from. 

    The horror of the suffering that would occur if this happens is almost beyond the scale of imagining, but in a way ultimately what I count as ‘catastrophe’ is not this but the collapse of the liberal intellectual society which sustains the ideas and values that represent me. 

  56. Lewis Deane says:

    I admire, with Steve Mosher and Andy Fuller ‘et al’, Andy Revkin, I admire his balance and good sense, his strong journalistic sagacity which propels him, despite his feelings and possible politics, to report and give hearing to both sides. He’s the best that we have and it was a great pity that he decided to stop being the NYT’s chief environment reporter but, o well! 

    I would only say that some might intimate from his thinking and comments a family failing – the family of what you Americans call ‘liberals’ but it is true with the Inhofes and Moranos, too – though more honestly so and, therefore more cynically! – of having the ‘typical’ NYT’s contempt for the ordinary Joe and Jane.

    That said, and despite his headline writer (!), I think we know Andy and Andy will, I hope, let this nonsense wash out. 

  57. Lewis Deane says:

    By the way, Keith, that’s my favourite song – how descriptive!

  58. Lewis Deane says:

    And then, of course, I went on to Baker Street, following your link – you don’t know, not having lived in London and at that time – what pull and tug on the heart it has! A San Fransico analogy works, I’m told! Gerry Rafferty, rest in peace!

  59. NewYorkJ says:

    Eric Steig: You are claiming that the emails “˜raise questions’ and that they are “˜disturbing’.

    Important point.  Steig is saying Revkin hasn’t learned enough from the episode 2 years ago.  Now that he has his own emails spun around by “frothy climate skeptics”, maybe he will learn not to jump the shark and make insinuations like so many journalists and bloggers are so eager and willing to do.  That’s a take-home message from the CRU hack, and Revkin’s living it now.

  60. Keith Kloor says:

    NYJ (59)

    That’s an interesting way to look it. I won’t speak for Andy, but I’m doubting he’ll see it the same way as you.

    The partisans in this debate have their own spin.Watts thinks he’s uncovering gems every 20 minutes. To Romm, warmed-over gruel.

    As I’ve said before, the problem with the discussion on these emails is that it’s framed by the two extreme ends of the spectrum. Andy just happens to be unlucky enough to get whacked by people inhabiting both of those ends.  

  61. OPatrick says:

    Watts and Romm aren’t equivalent. If your ‘journalistic integrity’ is telling you they are then you should be questioning your ‘journalistic integrity’.

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