The Brushback

How interesting: I turn my site into a reader-friendly forum where all sides of the climate debate can meet and have a constructive and civil discussion, and suddenly my name is being dragged through the bloggy mud. Have we hit a nerve somewhere?

The latest spate of notoriety is sufficiently negative to warrant a response. I’ll try to be brief.

To start, let me say that I don’t regard this post by Michael Tobis as anything more than a reasonable rebuttal. I actually like Michael and respect him very much, even though we keep having these dust-ups. I can imagine us laughing about it over beers one day if I ever make it to Austin, Texas (or he comes to NYC).

I don’t think that would ever be the case with Eli Rabett, who left a few droppings in this post. Or Arthur Smith, who appears to have wasted too much of his time parsing a handful of my posts from the last year and half. Same with Tim Lambert, who is only too happy to publicize Arthur’s handiwork. It seems to be personal with these three guys. I sense their intent is to harm my reputation, and since I work as both a freelance journalist and part-time journalism professor, I feel compelled to respond.

Because Arthur did expend so much energy on my behalf, he does deserve a lengthier response than what I gave at his place. The problem is that he uses this Rommian style that ends up sucking the life out of you before you’re even finished with the post. Arthur, please, have some mercy next time and leave out all the minutia.

Anyway, there’s no way I’m going to do a point by point rebuttal. That would eat up the rest of August. Instead, here’s how this will go. I’ll give brief answers to each of Arthur’s five “strikes” that he accuses me of. Interested readers who want to follow along should open up a new tab with his post and read us side by side. Here we go.

1) The charge: I am unfairly critical of Joe Romm.

Answer: It is strange to me that Arthur feels compelled to defend “America’s fiercest climate blogger” (a tag Romm proudly advertises on his site), a guy who often uses brass knuckles to regularly slam reporters whose stories don’t meet Romm’s satisfaction. It is also odd to me that Arthur failed to mention the stink bomb Joe dropped on me last year (see, Romm is more than up to the task to defend himself), or the thorough deconstruction of this bomb by Stoat (in an in-line commentary). Nuff said when it comes to Romm.

2) The charge: The first time I supposedly quote-mined something Michael Tobis said.

Answer: I stand by what I wrote back then in this post. Michael and I had several long exchanges on this in subsequent posts at his blog and mine and we just disagree on the meaning of his language. I firmly reject the charge of quote mining.

3) The charge: I misrepresented (in this post) the thrust of David Brin’s article on climate skeptics.

Answer: It’s bizarre to me that Arthur ignores Brin’s own acknowledgment (here and here) that I got his article generally right. In any event, if I had badly mischaracterized his piece, and Brin (who has multiple forums) only realized it later on, wouldn’t he have mentioned it? Not a peep.

4) The charge: That I took a quote from climate scientist Gavin Schmidt out of context, making it sound conciliatory, and highlighted it in a post.

Answer: This is quite a skewed reading of the quote on Arthur’s part. At any rate, Arthur should know that I’m fairly diligent about checking all quoted material with sources that I have interviewed or communicated with, including single quotes or passages I might want to highlight in my blog. So prior to the post that Arthur takes offense to, I emailed Gavin and told him what I wanted to do. I explained my intent, gave him the quote of his that I wanted to use (which appeared in a comment thread of an existing post) and the context it would appear in. He replied, “feel free.”

5. The charge: That I distorted a comment from Michael Tobis in one of my threads and used it as ammunition in a separate post where I called him hypocritical.

Answer: I’m going to cop to this charge–but not the assertion that I did it willfully. I’ve thought about this a lot since that post appeared and have concluded that I should have been more careful in my choice of words. I happen to think that there are worse things than being called hypocritical (such as evil or deceptive), but I’m now inclined to agree that I treated Michael unfairly in that post. I made a poorly constructed argument for hypocrisy and in doing so made some leaps I shouldn’t have, and for that I apologize to Michael.

There you have it: Arthur hurls four knuckleballs wide and outside. One curveball for a strike. I suppose now I’ll have to keep my eyes out for spitballs too.

183 Responses to “The Brushback”

  1. RickA says:

    I read you everyday and I think you are doing a great job!
    Keep up the good work.

  2. Barry Woods says:

    C a S is an excellent intellectuall honest blog

  3. Pascvaks says:

    Consider the source and rest assured.  It’s the old ‘stick ‘n stones’ thing, besides we all have bad hair months, it has something to do with the moon. (I’m told)

  4. SimonH says:

    I’m not entirely sure what you were expecting by entertaining open, reasoned and un-skewed discussion of matters relating to climate. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who’s frequently wondered how it is that you’ve escaped these kinds of tirades for deviating from the party line for so long.
    I’d expect more of this to come, Keith. You’re an environmental journalist and it is demanded that the net result of what you do will reinforce the “consensus”. If you’re not 100% with them, you’re 100% against them and must be eliminated. They can’t shoot you, so they’ll do what Arthur is doing.. blitzing you with exhausting innuendo, circular argument and twisted logic until you surrender, brow-beaten and exhausted.
    This is how it starts. More to follow. It doesn’t matter to them who is right or what is true, it only matters to them which tribe wins.

  5. allen says:

    A neutral site, constructive and civil discussion! no wonder you attracted the ire of the critters that inhabit the bottom of the pond

  6. Keith,

    Good for you to apologize to Michael. I think you misinterpreted what he meant, as I also commented on in that thread.
    Overall, I think you’re doing a commendable job in getting interesting discussions started between people who disagree on some things, and work towards areas of agreement.

    As in other areas of life, sometimes it’s wisest to not give in to the urge of passing judgement. Unless it crosses a certain boundary of course.

  7. AMac says:

    There is a tendency on both sides of the Climate Wars to make things personal.  This may be inevitable:  AGW is itself the source of passion, and the issue also serves as a proxy (heh) for other beliefs, which usually go unstated.
    Blogging is also a very personal medium.
    When people (even smart people) write quickly and with emotion, they are going to make mistakes.  Even someone who bats 900 is going to accumulate a lot of errors, if they write a lot.  Which many climate-bloggers and commenters do.
    It’s an unpleasant experience to have to say, “I was wrong.”  Worse, when my error involved slamming an opponent.  I know s/he is still wrong overall, and it’s galling to contemplate giving away some of my credibility, for the sake of some hypothetical notion of fair play.  Thus the temptation to ignore the record and move along.  Or to double down, validating the prior criticism with new ones.
    It would be helpful if all parties could move away from the “Knaves or Fools” view of The Opposition.  Amazing and improbable though it seems, there are skeptics/warmists/denialists/alarmists/your-favorite-term-here-ists who are people of good faith, with reasonable perspectives.  At least in my experience in reading climate blogs over the past 9 months.
    Maybe the discussion could focus more upon issues:  technical, policy, normative.  Some of us don’t subscribe to the Warrior Model of saving the world from ( …).  Even those who do might benefit from reflecting on the likely effectiveness of the tactics that they are most comfortable in employing.

  8. Barry Woods says:

    I have climate scientist friends, and they are anything but knaves or fools..

    That said, they don’t seem to get, that their silence on the catastrophic CAGW annoucements, not supported by any evidence (artic ice death spiral, 20 foot se level rise, anything to do with Al Gore 😉 of some lobby groups, activists and politicians, effectively endorses these pronouncements, especially as far as the media is concerned.

  9. Barry Woods says:

    Jo Abbess is quite the activist:

    I think Keith Kloor, will get more name dragging into the mud, if this reply to my comment is anything to go by.. last paragraph, particulary.

    (caps are her own)


    Full reply and context here…

  10. Alex Harvey says:

    Dear Keith,
    Yours has become my favourite in a long list of blogs I follow from both sides of the climate change science debate. Yours is the only one I know of presently where the moderator is truly neutral and interested in just listening to what people have to say. Of course you’ll be attacked, and from both sides no doubt, but for those frustrated AGW debate followers amongst us who genuinely just want the facts and the truth, you’re doing the world a great service.
    Best, Alex

  11. Steve Fitzpatrick says:

    You are certainly right that Michael Tobis frames most of climate science (technical, emissions reductions, adaptation) in moral terms.  He simply says anyone who disagrees with his positions is implicitly immoral.  He will not accept that any informed person can hold a principled view on GW which differs from his.  His positions on GW are comparable to religious zealotry.
    This makes it very easy to become frustrated and upset with Micheal.  He has no capacity to acknowledge the legitimacy of differing viewpoints, and has no capacity to consider the kinds of political compromises that are inevitable if any meaningful public response to GW is going to be implemented.  I think discourse with Michael is non-productive, and so a waste of time;  it is simpler to just ignore him.

  12. laursaurus says:

    Wow, 5 separate climate bloggers dedicating entire thread to criticize c-a-s in detail? When reading between the lines, these complaints reveal a lot of sour grapes. I’ve personally discovered quite a few of the feeds I subscribe to from this manner of publicity.
    Notice there was not one accusation of unfair moderation practices. I wonder if openly vowing to never participate or read this blog, has the effect they are hoping for. The amount of self-importance is amusing.

  13. isaacschumann says:

    I have to disagree strongly with Steve Fitzpatrick; he is criticizing Michael Tobis for supposedly denying the legitimacy of other peoples opinions… and proposes we essentially do the same to Michael. I have greatly appreciated hearing Michaels thoughts in the last few threads and encourage him to continue his engagement.
    Joe Romm and Eli Rabbit, IMO, are guilty of what Steve describes, but I don’t support doing the same to them; that is… hypocritical.
    Having been to Eli’s blog for the first time, talking in the third person gets really annoying really fast. Use your real name and talk in the first person, pu pu pu pleeez.

  14. Keith, thanks for the apology.
    I have been a little worried about your efforts to provide neutral ground failing on account of the usual reason: the committed but wrong people outnumber the informed and have more time. By moderating lightly you risk becoming another Watts site, perhaps more policy oriented than science oriented, but still a haven for half baked and ill-informed speculation and bar broom bluster posing as reasoned discourse.
    And that’s the reason I came close to giving up on c-a-s a couple of weeks ago. Your rounding Gavin up saved you, bringing more informed people back. It will be a struggle to keep that up because of the strategic asymmetry. I disagree with Arthur’s boycott. Even though I am often exasperated and occasionally angry with you, I see useful things happening in these discussions that don’t seem to happen elsewhere.
    I look forward to the beer session.

  15. bar broom?
    bar room

  16. laursaurus says:

    I forgot to add:
    Keith’s willingness to immediately admit when he’s been mistaken, increases his credibility, IMHO. When people react stubbornly by getting defensive, it tends to escalate minor issues out of proportion. I’ve learned from RL experience to just apologize when I’m mistaken. In the end, accountability effectively diffuses the situation. It makes life so much easier.

  17. Barry Woods says:

    MT decides who is ‘wrong’ vs informed, it is almost religous…

  18. Keith Kloor says:

    Steve Fitzpatrick (12):

    I echo what isaacschumann (14) says. While Michael does exasperate me with his moral framing, I find him sincere, guileless, and open to wide engagement.

    Michael (15)

    I think you ought to judge the threads on an invidual basis. Not all are going to provide scintilliating exchanges. I disagree with your overall assessment of the quality of the discussion that has appeared here in recent weeks and months–with or without Gavin.

    As for what the future holds, one one can tell, but if I start to see a pattern of diminishing returns, where it appears that we’re just spinning our wheels in the threads, I’d probably precede you out the door.

  19. laursaurus says:

    MT, you are a very important voice on c-a-s and I admire your willingness to participate. If you’re worried about whether or not progress is made, you are. I’ve discovered that the skeptical side is also guilty of stereo-typing policy activists. Without your active input, I probably wouldn’t have recognized my own bias, much less challenge it.
    For one thing, I don’t recall you ever using the pejorative insults. That’s huge to me. I’ve even visited OIFTG many times. It might feel a little lonely to you here, but don’t let that keep you away. I truly value your sincerity and perspective.

  20. isaacschumann says:

    (Keith, this is this only insulting post I will ever write, so feel free to snip it but please don’t ban me, won’t happen again)
    While I essentially agree with people like Romm and Eli’s interpretation of climate science and what needs to be done, I dislike there writing nonetheless. There is nothing specific that I disagree with, so I think I can best relate my complex feelings with a dialogue from the 1998 film The Big Lebowski; where I will be playing the part of  Jeff Bridges character ‘the Dude’ and Romm/Eli will play the part of John Goodman’s character, Walter Sobchak:
    Walter Sobchak: Am I Wrong?
    The Dude: …you’re not wrong Walter, you’re just an asshole.

  21. Judith Curry says:

    Keith, I have to say that your site is just flat out fun, a salon of the blogosphere.  I justify spending so much time here because it also produces some serendipitous insights that are feeding my thoughts for future research that interfaces with the social sciences and journalism.

  22. Keith Kloor says:

    That is good to hear, Judith, cause sometimes I wonder…

    And thanks to you all for your kind words, and to isaacschuman  (21) for cracking me up (but don’t anyone else get any ideas…), for I am also a Big Lebowski fan. (who isn’t?)

  23. JimR says:

    As others have said C-a-S has become my favorite blog to read. You stimulate discussion on this topic, discussion that is very welcome to some and not so welcome to others. And those others who don’t want this type of discussion are going to take it personally and attack you. It’s the nature of the beast. You have witnessed the venom directed towards anyone who didn’t fully agree with the AGW tribe, from McIntyre to Curry to Wegman, from Revkin to Fred Pearce it’s not even that you have to disagree with them. If you don’t support them fully it becomes personal.
    Early on you asked who on the skeptic side would come out as Judith Curry did. I’ve repeatedly come back to this point since it has been obvious the ones trying to thwart any attempt at bridge building were not those of a skeptical nature but those in the AGW tribe. Don’t take it personally, it’s just you have opened a dialogue that some people have fiercely and nastily tried to squelch over the years.

  24. Hank Roberts says:

    > Brin … wouldn’t he have mentioned it? Not a peep.
    Brin hasn’t even deleted accumulating spam from his long-abandoned thread about you, not for weeks.
    Signaling agreement with you by ignoring you?  We-e-e-ellll …. Could be, I suppose.  If you asked him, do you think he’d say?

  25. Judith Curry says:

    isaacshuman is onto something, really.  How much of this conflict is about personalities?  Mann vs McIntyre, Santer vs Michaels, Romm vs Watts, etc.  The perceived asshole factor is a big one in all this, distracting from substantive differences that may not actually be so large.  Amplify this by the media and esp the blogosphere, and look what we get.

  26. Steve Fitzpatrick says:

    #14, isaacschumann

    I think you miss my point.  I believe Michael’s views are absolutely honest and legitimate…. for Micheal.   That does not mean that engaging Micheal is going to be a productive enterprise.  There is clear evidence that the reasoned and considered opinions of  thoughtful people (like Roger Pielke Jr, Lucia, Keith, and others) are 100% discounted by Michael.
    If you are looking for a means to advance the debate and reach some consensus, then engaging Michael seems to me to be simply futile.

  27. laursaurus says:

    Don’t forget Al Gore vs. Lord Monckton!
    Wait, they’re not scientists…….never mind.

  28. Tom Fuller says:

    Two things that I’ve noticed about the critics of your site, long before they turned their sights on you–first, they tend to coordinate their media pushes, or at least are very quick to take inspiration from each other, so it’s not a surprise that this came in battalions, not as single soldiers.
    Second, their obsessive search for details at the expense of the overall picture is evidence that you are broadly on the right track.
    Anyone who looks at Romm’s site can see he is pretty much as you described him (although he seems to have toned it down recently, and his site is still worth visiting for green energy updates). If anything, you were too kind to him.
    Michael Tobis in comments here expresses the fear that this will become a WUWT type of site. I doubt it very much, and his presence here is one reason why I doubt it. Haven’t seen his name too frequently in comments over there. I think he’s working the ref here…
    This still is the premiere weblog as far as a safe place to discuss things with members of opposing camps. That’s valuable to me, as both the Consensus Team and diehard skeptics are in camps I oppose.  Monckton’s effects are just as pernicious as Romm’s, after all–he just isn’t as ‘in your face’ about it–perhaps because the English are more polite, on average.

  29. Keith Kloor says:

    C’mon Hank (25), you’re reaching. Not satisfied with Brin’s own comments? How about if I tell you that I personally emailed him and Michael Shermer, the editor of Skeptic magazine to let them know about that post. Both emailed back to thank me for the post and for generating such a spirited dialogue on the story.

    Somehow, I have to think that they would have let me know  if I egregiously distored Brin’s article, as Arthur Smith contends.

    That particular “strike” from Arthur is as farcical as the claim that I distorted Gavin’s quote. Jeez, isn’t this as plain as day for you?

  30. Pascvaks says:

    “That is good to hear, Judith, cause sometimes I wonder”¦”

    Rest assured, you left your detractors in the dust sometime ago.  They only want to slow you down and pull you back.  There’s nothing wrong with Cas, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with what you’re doing.

    When was the last time you took a break? (I’m new here and haven’t a clue;-)

  31. Shub says:

    The problem with you [r situation] is you are spending too much time fraternizing with all the rabble and riff-raff, not rising up to the grand challenge, creating discussions out of nothing and re-opening long -debunked zombie arguments. This could have been a place where the more-informed cognescenti could have rubbed shoulders and the debate could have been taken forward.

    As a result, no-good, know-nothing commoners are comingling with the more measured, knowledgeable moderate voices in the climate change debate and dragging the quality of the whole process down. Deniers end up asking questions as though their ideas carried any weight or credibility at all, and end up creating an impression as though their questions mattered.

    I think it is time you got the “big cut off” and be let to wander in the wildnerness, withering away into oblivion and disrepute.


  32. Steve Fitzpatrick says:

    Judith Curry #26,
    You are right, there is altogether too much personal hostility (too much asshole factor, as you say).  But I fear this is a result of the medium of communications… faceless and often anonymous electronic word transmissions.  People simply do not often interact this way in face-to-face conversation; if they did, it would often lead to physical confrontations.  In real life, people usually restrain their worst impulses.
    Most people who comment on blogs like this, (and many others) are obviously intelligent, honest, and well intentioned, so it is almost bizarre that there is so much personal hostility.  It is a big problem, but I don’t know how to solve it.

  33. isaacschumann says:

    While I might agree that Michael may say things that make him appear to be intolerant, I chalk this up to the heat of the moment. In practice he is very engaging and open minded; and it wouldn’t be much of a debate if everyone agreed with Keith, so I especially value his engagement in these discussions. On this issue we’ll have to agree to disagree:)
    I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Keith, Judith, Michael, Gavin and all for their participation. It is a rare opportunity for a yob like myself to have access to up to date discussions of research like Judith’s and opinions from such thoughtful and well informed experts. This has really been a positive and informative experience, thanks again and please continue.

  34. Keith's Wife says:

    Pascvaks, #21:  “When was the last time you took a break? (I’m new here and haven’t a clue;-)”

    Funny you should bring this up as I just called Keith earlier this morning to advise him to post to the wires that he is on an “official” break next week as enforced by moi. Other pursuits with profits are calling from the wild……

  35. Steve Fitzpatrick says:

    You are clearly guilty as charged.
    You allow people to comment on honest disagreements about all manner of GW issues.  Guilty, of course, because some just don’t believe voice should ever be given to certain points of view on GW.
    By the way, C-a-S is a great blog.  I hope you don’t give up on it. 

  36. Keith Kloor says:

    Ah, my darling (35): I’m going to do something that I can’t do (and never would) anywhere else: I’m putting you in moderation. 🙂

    Seriously, folks, I have to finish up some gainfully employed work next week, and I can’t keep from being distracted by this blog. So I have to force myself to turn away on Monday. (But I still might sneak in a post or two after she enters the first REM stage at night.)

  37. Tom Fuller says:

    KK, why don’t you give Judith admin rights and let her guest post? She’s been thinking about getting a blog anyways, IIRC. Chance for her to get her feet wet without buying the pool…

  38. Steve Fitzpatrick says:

    Tom, #38
    I second.

  39. Keith Kloor says:

    You all have been reading my mind–about getting a guest host for one or two weeks this summer. Honestly, Judith is pretty busy, so it never occurred to me that she might even be interested, and besides, I think she’s in the process of getting her own blog up and running.

    Anyway, I have some ideas along these lines…stay tuned.

  40. GaryM says:

    The problem the more political climate activists have with this site is – its moderator’s stated purpose.  The recent exchanges between Judith Curry and Gavin Smith being the best case in point.
    To them, Judith Curry, Steve McIntyre et al. have to be marginalized.  This is done at the activist sites by comments and moderation.  They deal with Climate Audit and Wattsupwiththat by demonizing them and convincing their faithful to ignore them.  Thus, there is no (in their mind) credible forum for skeptical heresy.
    Then along comes this blog and provides a forum for actual civil debate, culminating in a polite, professional discussion between Gavin and Judith on genuine issues of dispute.
    The problem with this? It suggests that there is actually something still to debate.  C-a-S provides a forum for the blasphemy of skeptics, which is bad enough, but it also has active participation by well known members of the consensus.  That participation lends credence to the belief that the science is not “settled,” in the way the activists believe.  This just cannot be allowed.
    You add that to the impending doom of their larger agenda politically, and you get the rage that you see now.  If the next election trends the way it appears to be headed, expect the rhetoric to get even worse.
    As a conservative, I must confess to a bit of guilty pleasure in watching this internecine warfare (“You’re stupid and evil because you disagree with me”), among people who share the same tactics in discussing others with whom they jointly disagree politically.  Tribalism is alive and well on the climate blogs, and the sub-tribes are just as combative as their larger counterparts.

  41. Eli Rabett says:

    Eli is no where as rotund as John Goodman, although Ms. Rabett still complains, however, Keith, benot be self centered, the paper by Hale and Dilling is an important comment on geoengineering.
    or a direct link

  42. Keith Kloor says:

    Eli (42),

    I have no truck with the paper by Ben Hale you discuss (and I am a fan of Ben’s). I singled you out because in that same post you link to, you say that I was “behaving unethically…aka lying.”

    That’s a strong charge in my book. You’re entitled to your opinion of course, but I’m entitled to challenge you on it. Anyway, I’ve said my piece related to this in the post above.

    As for being self-centered, how odd of me, since I’m trying in every way to make this a reader-centric blog. BTW, you’re always welcome, of course, provided you keep those bunny claws to yourself.

  43. Steve Koch says:

    “I turn my site into a reader-friendly forum where all sides of the climate debate can meet and have a constructive and civil discussion, and suddenly my name is being dragged through the bloggy mud. Have we hit a nerve somewhere?”
    I previously predicted that you soon would be the target of the more extreme CAGWers and it has happened.  It was inevitable. You violated CAGW solidarity.  Self criticism is verboten by the more militant CAGW proponents.

    Establishing a salon where people of different viewpoints can discuss things in a calm, civilized way is threatening to those who want to impose groupthink.

    I hope you persevere.  I disagree with you re: CAGW but I really admire what you are accomplishing with this web site.  It is pathetic that such a civilized approach is so rare in climate science blogging.

  44. Steven Sullivan says:

    barry :
    “MT decides who is “˜wrong’ vs informed, it is almost religous”¦”
    The blogosphere is rife with commenters who have decided that *they* are well-informed enough about climate science to tell the conventionally trained experts that they are ‘doin it all rong’.    So?  People tend to believe (to over-believe, actually) that they are right in all walks of life.  Surely believing you’re right isn’t sufficient to make it true.   Are *you* well-informed enough to make a judgment call about what constitutes ‘well-informed’?  If you think so, how do you know you are?  What authority do you appeal to, in the end?

  45. Steven Sullivan says:

    Steve Fitzpatrick:
    “There is clear evidence that the reasoned and considered opinions of  thoughtful people (like Roger Pielke Jr, Lucia, Keith, and others) are 100% discounted by Michael.”
    100%?  Really? That looks like ‘catastrophic’ rhetoric to me.

  46. Shub says:

    Our dear friend El, in advancing the Dilling paper lets a small secret out – he does not agree with Hale and Dilling on one crucial point.

    “IEHO* permission from governments representative of a majority of people on the planet could legitimately take such action. In that manner, such a decision even though not unanimous, could be properly taken”.

    By the above, Eli is informing us that even mitigation, (like ocean fertilization or CO2 capture) , stuff that he doesn’t support , if not undertaken, should not be for the reason that permission from the citizenry cannot be obtained.

    Sounds familiar to me, now, where have we heard something like this before?

    “Decisions about top-down versus bottom-up approaches for climate change policy go to the heart of our beliefs about the boundaries of public and private, the limits of state control, and the rational behavior of individuals…At the extreme, this could be characterized as a case of democracy versus benign dictatorship””…There is then nothing undemocratic about regulating people’s behavior…In either extreme of more deliberative or liberal democratic theory, there is no a priori reason that regulations aimed at engaging people in low carbon behavior could not constitute legitimate products of democratic decision making.”

    Ockwell et al. Reorienting Climate change communication for effective Engagement? Mitigation: Forcing People to be Green or Fostering Grass-Roots. Science Communication 2009; 30; 305

    Anyone wanting to poke their eyes out.

    Moral: If you stand in the way of CO2 regulation (defined as policy “success”) , you are to be taken down.

  47. John Whitman says:

    Steve Koch (44)
    Judith Curry (22)
    Steve & Judith, your references to a salon (or café ) bring to my mind those of turn of the century Vienna or Paris. Those present one with a good mental picture of what a blog seeking a polite intellectual venue could be.  : )

    Keith, maybe you should go for the café image because salons were overseen by matrons of society. : )
    Also, Keith, do not be discouraged by attacks against your blogs by parties on either extreme of the argument on climate science.  It is like a Gaussian distribution, 99% are between those extremes.  Including the 99%, and including the extremes into the discussion . . . . . and keeping it polite . . .  many will support you in that endeavor.  Keep truckin.

    Have a great week off.


  48. SimonH says:

    Shub, perhaps oddly one of the things that first got me riled up after Climategate was the “RulesOfTheGame.pdf” document in the zip. An instruction manual on manipulation and coercion that truly raised my hackles. Some excerpts:
    Don’t create fear without agency
    Fear can create apathy if individuals have no “˜agency’ to act upon the threat. Use fear with great caution.

    Use transmitters and social learning
    People learn through social interaction, and some people are better teachers and trendsetters than others. Targeting these people will ensure that messages seem more trustworthy and are transmitted more effectively.”

    Use emotions and visuals
    Another classic marketing rule: changing behaviour by disseminating information doesn’t always work, but emotions and visuals usually do.”

    Message sponsored by Defra, Carbon Trust, DTI, the Environment Agency, Energy Savings Trust and UK Climate Impacts Programme.
    No, I don’t like manipulation or coercion.

  49. Hank Roberts says:

    > Brin … wouldn’t he have mentioned it?
    He says today he’s ” …  just returned (exhausted) from shepherding three teens through Paris and … Rome in August.”) — ‘Contrary Brin’ blog.
    I imagine it’ll be a while before he’ll catch up.

  50. Barry Woods says:


    I would like to appeal to evidence not any  ‘authority’…

    in a lot of areas, I think it is safe to say, we just don’t know, lots of questions, or some assumptions are beung proved incorrect, etc…

    In the blogs it gets way to personal… because I guess of the nature of the medium.  Put all these people in a room, give them drinks and canapes, and you/I might be surprised how much ‘most’ of the  people have in common..

    Post the guardian climategate meeting, it was a bit like that..

    Tommorow,  a very well respected IPCC climate scientist, is helping me ‘manage’ 😉 my son’s 7th bithday party. She probably has a far better, closer understanding of the Hockey Stick’ IPCC process debate, than Judith Curry,  we totally disagree about, CAGW/AGW  politics.. yet we are good friends since our boy’s were babies..  How is that, just normal human civilised interaction.

    Which is missing in blog land, when the dominant, 100% convinced – who want action/policy NOW, shout down potentially the middle ground (ie not CAGW, but AGW, or aGW?)

    A few certain elements want 100% consensus, as anything else instills doubt, and they lose control of the political advocacy process that certain small groups have had..

    In the UK, ALL political parties (and the EU) have signed up fully to the CAGW science is settled position. Today, I have tried several times just to get a comment, into the Guardians website, to say, you let Bob Ward attack – ‘The Hockey Stick Illusion’ (bishop Hill) – Judith suggested people read it to understand where Steven Mcintyre is coming from. 

    YET, the Guardian will not allow even a coment on their website, suggesting a link to Andrew Montford, defending himself. Andrew being blocked from commenting as well..

    This is a national newspaper that had the ear of government on CAGW policy, and was pushing them harder for the past 13 years.

    The general public, polls show are ‘sceptical’ of the alarmism, so much so that the old favourite ‘poster child’, wwf, greenpeace, Gore, etc, scares, are no longer working.  (polar bears, 9 metre sea level rises, tipping points, artic ice death spirals, etc,etc)

  51. Paul Kelly says:

    I’m here because of a visit to Bart’s. Thread hogs and henpeckers are the price of blogging. Up to a point they can make things lively.  If they boycott, what’s the damage?

  52. Oh yeah, Simon, there’s lots more, from where it came from. Climate scientists should be ashamed and outraged at all the propaganda that is being done, in their name.

  53. Adam R. says:

    Alas, here in the generally civilized halls of  C-a-S, we see the  victories of the fossil FUD campaigns.  We see the false balance fallacy and the fake scientific controversy meme in vibrant good health, while carbon emission control legislation sickens and dies in Washington, DC.

  54. Pascvaks says:

    I seem to be detecting the wildeyed feeling among some (the two ends of the Bell Curve?) that someone has abandoned them for the other side, and on the part of others on the other side that he has joined them.  I’m so sorry, I know I was gone for a few hours, could someone show be where that happened?  Who are we talking about?

  55. Gaythia says:

    A little break could be just the thing to cause all of us to appreciate what a wonderful forum this can be.  Time off may allow some contemplation that will  recharge and renew the debate.  It is not about propaganda and agendas, it is about an exchange of ideas and a search for and exploration of underlying truths.
    I side with your wife.  Put yourself into moderation along side her and go have a great couple of weeks!

  56. Nosmo says:

    Re: charge #2:  quote mining MT
    Actually Arthur Smith does not accuse you of quote mining. He accuses you of twisting MT “words around to mean essentially the opposite of what  Tobis’ blog post actually says”.   Which is not at all the same thing.
    I wouldn’t put it nearly that harshly but I do think you are guilty of poor reading comprehension in this case.
    And in the same post calling Tobis  “one of the most relentless and over-the-top critic of Revkin and Pielke Jr” is just ridiculous.  (He is not even close to the same league as Eli or Romm).
    Anyway I do think you are honest (although often wrong) which is why I’ve started reading this blog.

  57. Eli Rabett says:

    Keith, Eli suggests you look up what “having no truck with” means before you wander off in high dudgeon.  You feel quite free to slime other folks, but you object to being called out on it.
    Also,  Shub, old fellow, go look up what representative government means.  Decisions do not have to be unanimous.
    Cripes. where is that damn dictionary when you need it

  58. Pascvaks says:

    Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
    And remember what peace there may be in silence.
    As far as possible without surrender
    be on good terms with all persons.
    Speak your truth quietly & clearly;
    and listen to others,
    even the dull & ignorant;
    they too have their story.
    Avoid loud & aggressive persons,
    they are vexations to the spirit.
    If you compare yourself with others,
    you may become vain & bitter;
    for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
    Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
    Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
    it is a real possession in the changing future of time.
    Exercise caution in your business affairs;
    for the world is full of trickery.
    But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
    many persons strive for high ideals;
    and everywhere life is full of heroism.

    Be yourself.
    Especially, do not feign affection.
    Neither be cynical about love;
    for in the face of all aridity & disenchantment
    it is perennial as the grass.
    Take kindly the counsel of the years,
    gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
    Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
    But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
    Many fears are born of fatigue & loneliness.
    Beyond wholesome discipline,
    be gentle with yourself.
    You are a child of the universe,
    no less than the trees & the stars;
    you have a right to be here.
    And whether or not it is clear to you,
    no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
    Therefore be at peace with God,
    whatever you conceive Him to be,
    and whatever your labours & aspirations,
    in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
    With all its sham, drudgery & broken dreams,
    it is still a beautiful world.
    Be cheerful.
    Strive to be happy.

  59. “representative government” – I am pretty sure that includes totalitarian communism and bleeding heart benign dictatorships who do what they do because they “represent the will of the people”.
    Parliamentary democracy means, above all – “due process” and “checks and balances”; not exactly the sentiments expressed by someone saying all that needs to be done is capture the seats of power. And “due process” implies employing the vehicle of the free press to strive for a reasonable consensus, if not perfect unanimity, rather than dismiss all notions that any agreement is possible.
    It is one thing to say that ‘hard decisions’ need to be taken sometimes by those in power, and quite the other when you find folks who clamor to get into power in order to take those hard decisions.
    It is quite clear on which side Eli’s arguments fall. Maybe the dictionaries got trampled up, in the mad dash to Copenhagen.

  60. GaryM says:

    Methinks Eli doth snark too much.  In the post he cited to on his own blog, he wrote ” IEHO permission from governments representative of a majority of people on the planet could legitimately take such action.”  arguably, the meaning of “representative” used as an adjective in this context could go either way.  But that doesn’t help, it is still a coercive prescription no matter how you look at it.
    Let’s assume that the intended meaning was “representative government” in the sense of democratic representation (and not a Friedmanesque pining for dictatorship).   Given that only roughly 46% of the world’s people live in liberal (in the classical sense) democracies, I wonder how we would go about getting a majority of the “representative governments” to impose their will on the non-representative governments (and their people)?
    This is a larger question I have long had about the anti-carbon movement in western democracies.  Even if we assume that politicians in the U.S. will become willing to commit political suicide and implement zero carbon policies in the near future, how do you get the non-free countries to go along in the real world?
    The Chinese Communist Party is not engaging in its own perestroika experiment because of its love for its subjects.  It is trying to avoid a repeat of Russia in the 90s, or more probably the fate of Ceaucescu in Romania.   The Chinese dictators (and increasingly Putin) already have all the power over their people that western greens can only dream of, but they are not willing to commit personal (or national) suicide by adopting economy killing “reforms” like zero carbon.
    Does anybody really think that the PR tactics used in the west will have any impact on the Chinese and Russians?  Send them extra copies of the AR4 and An Inconvenient Truth?  A billion hockey sticks?  How do you convince voters in the U.S. to commit economic harakiri when the rulers of the majority of the world’s population are telling you to take a hike?
    Does anybody on the climate activist side have an actual idea of how to go about what they recommend?  Or is it just trash the U.S. economy on principle, and hope for the best?

  61. harrywr2 says:

    Michael Tobis Says:
    August 20th, 2010 at 11:13 am Keith, thanks for the apology.

    “I have been a little worried about your efforts to provide neutral ground failing on account of the usual reason: the committed but wrong people outnumber the informed and have more time.”
    Since when, in the history of humanity, have wrong people not had a substantial voice?  How many times in the history of humanity has ‘right’ turned out to be horribly wrong?

  62. Bernie says:

    Good luck with the other stuff.  I applaud your efforts to bring together different viewpoints.  I deplore those who seek to silence critics or those who give critics voice.

  63. Deech56 says:

    Keith, if you are going to use the knuckleball analogy, you should know that the idea isn’t necessarily to hit the strike zone, but to have the batter swing at a ball that drops out of the strike zone. Accuracy and all that.
    Adam R @54 makes a couple of very good points.

  64. Jay Currie says:

    Having spent a few years on the climate blogs the fact is that there are two positions: the CAGW supporters and the rest.
    Realistically, if you believe in CAGW the situation admits of no ambiguities, no uncertainties, no pauses until the science is in – such talk denies the “fundamentals” and leads to whichever version of CAGW megadeath you prefer. And, if, for a moment, you suggest there may be uncertainty, another side, a different interpretation of the data, then you are enabling the deniers. You, personally are damning the rest of mankind to heat death.
    Over on the skeptics’ side the discourse is, by definition, more moderate and nuanced. After all, if the skeptics are right we have nothing to worry about. If they are half right there is very little to worry about and, if they are entirely wrong in the particulars but close in the effects CAGW will be unlikely. They can afford to relax because they perceive the stakes entirely differently.
    The fragility of the CAGW position lies in the fact that the advocates of that position are also, by and large, advocates of the radical revision of the entire economic model upon which the world has been operating for centuries. Cap and Trade, Carbon Tax, rapid deindustrialization – all these require that we have nearly complete certainty about highly complex and contested matters of science and economics. If a single breach is made in the dam of CAGW certainty it matters a lot because policy makers will revert to their normal pattern of inertia.
    For the skeptics, the gradual destruction of the CAGW model and the science which underlies it, is not at all urgent. The political inertia is already in place. Doing nothing is, politically, almost always more attractive than doing something unless a bunch of hysterics are able to hijack the middle class agenda. For a year or two, barely, that hysteria swept the West, now it is abating.
    And now the CAGW proponents are realizing that the momentum has left their side. They will be shriller. And they will hate people who note the science rather than the agenda even more.
    Because they are losing and they know it. They are losing scientifically and politically.
    Expect more incoming but recognize that all the shots are desperate duds.

  65. Lady in Red says:

    Hear, hear, Jay Currie! (#65)
    I wish I believed “it ain’t necessarily so.”  Every day I do something intellectually naive (like ask a climate scientist to join this fray) only to be greeted with prolonged stony silence followed by a lame excuse such as “I don’t do blogs.”
    Pls read my compare/contrast CAGW/Islam below.  There are some interesting parallels and some interesting fresh poop America seems committed to stepping into.  ….Lady in Red

  66. Lady in Red want us to to read something that purports to ‘compare/contrast CAGW/Islam’
    I see no link, but I predict it’s to fresh poop indeed.
    Btw, I notice only denialist tribals employ the acronym “CAGW”.   I don’t recall ever seeing it in scientific literature so far, or the IPCC summaries.   What’s going on here?Another coverup?

  67. Tom Fuller says:

    Mr. Sullivan, I’ve never seen anyone ask what CAGW meant…

  68. willard says:

    I did ask a few times, here an on other blogs where Tom Fuller participates.  I can ask again:
    Is the “C” in CAGW scientifically defined?

  69. Tom Fuller says:

    Willard, I do think I gave my opinion a while back–I do not believe it is scientifically defined, at least no more than ‘denier’.

  70. willard says:

    Tom Fuller,
    Fair enough.  Now, is AGW scientifically defined?

  71. Lady in Red says:

    <!– @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } A:link { so-language: zxx } –>
    As Dorothy Parker put it, “”This wasn’t just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it.” You know, like CAGW….? A quick stopover at ClimateProgress netted me these references to big problems, from Joe Romm:
    On 22 August:
    Fueled by the warmer world, catastrophic rainfall is rising,
    On 21 August:
    A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency analysis finds that passing a climate bill will result in fewer emissions and lower the risk of catastrophic climate change.
    On 19 August:

    “Microscopic life crucial to the marine food chain is dying out. The consequences could be catastrophic.”

    On 17 August:
    High emissions levels + positive feedbacks = climate catastrophe
    My earlier was a reference to Keith’s previous idea thread, “The Climate Monoliths,” not important now. I simply seem to be seeing fractals everywhere. “¦..Lady in Red

  72. GaryM says:

    CAGW is a term climate activists dislike because it eases communication about their position.  “Global warming” was changed to “climate change” because the original term was not having the desired effect.  (Kind of like how “liberal” became an insult in American politics, so everybody wants to be called progressive now.)  I would be willing to wager that the term has been poll tested at length.  Moreover, “CAGW” reminds people that both the warming, and the catastrophe, have been lacking for about a decade.   No wonder they want to get rid of it.
    The term itself is accurate as a description of the activist’s position though.  They apparently have no problem with the A and G.  It is the C and W that bother them.   But is it “change” that will melt the glaciers, turn the Amazon to savannah, melt the Arctic and Greenland, make the oceans rise, increase the number and severity of hurricanes, etc., etc., etc, or is it warming?  And if the predicted effects are not going to be catastrophes (or in Michael Tobis’ words, “megacatastrophe[s]”), who will agree to the massive economic changes the activists propose?
    He who controls the terms of the debate has already won.  The terms “hockey team” and “auditor” (coined by the activists) have already been turned against them.  CAGW is just effective shorthand for their own position.  It is certainly not as offensive as “denier” and “climate septic,” to name two other additions to the climate lexicon from the activists.  I see no reason to allow the activists to define the terms of the debate more than they already have.
    The little boy didn’t cry “animal population change.”  He cried “WOLF!!!”

  73. Tom Fuller says:

    Willard, does it need to be? We emit CO2–that’s the anthropogenic. The CO2 mixes in the atmosphere and diffuses all over the world. That’s the global. CO2 acts as a greenhouse gas, tending to push temperatures up. That’s the warming.
    What terms need to be defined? (Now, quantities, effects, timescales… another story…)

  74. willard says:

    Tom Fuller,
    Your definition seems good enough for me.  It suffices to show that AGW refers to a scientific hypothesis.  I’d like to see how the C could refer to a scientific hypothesis.
    The adjunction of the C to a scientific hypothesis is both troublesome and useful.  It is troublesome as CAGW might not be a scientific hypothesis anymore.  It is useful as we can try to question the scientific basis of CAGW, whereas it’s not really a scientific hypothesis anymore.  How catastrophic is “catastrophic” when it’s not scientific?
    Speaking of “denial”, we can see that it is somehow well-defined psychological term:
    (Please note the relationship between the catastrophism meme and the process of minimisation.)
    We can disagree on the scientific basis of “denial”, but not because it’s undefined.  We know that denial is not a river in egypt, after all.
    Somehow, “denialism” is not so well received:

    While I disapprove of both, a cursory reading of these two pages and the references therein should suffice to dismantles a usual argument relating denialism with historical revisionism.
    That said, we should bear in mind some important things here:
    First, replying “but denier too” commits an obvious tu quoque.  That people use “denier” does not justify the use of “CAGW”.
    Second, we’re talking about terms that are losing their edge as they are entering into common usage.  “Drinking Kool Aid” is now part Internet slang, whence it was once upon a time quite offensive.   The Internet was first the land of people that were even ruder that today.
    Third, it’s easy to turn neutral epithets into slurs.  Notice to that effect the use of “activists” in GaryM’s last comment.
    It’s easy to tag a bunch of people.  It’s even easier to tag a bunch of hypothetical people. Relying on tagging can only be useful to frame minds, or to “define the terms”, as GaryM aptly describe.
    Trying to win a rational argument without the due dilligence to identify precisely what one is talking about is not that easy.

  75. Barry Woods says:

    CAGW is just short hand for a debate..

    Allowing me to believe in AGW, or aGW…..

    Just that I’m sceptical, and want some evidence of CAGW, ie tipping points, 6-12C temp rises, due to unpriven feedbacks in computer models, or 20 sea level rises in 90 years, etc or whatever the latest ‘scare’ stoey is, with no more science behind it than idle speculation.

  76. Tom Fuller says:

    Willard, you seem to have forgotten how the term denier came into usage in the climate wars. Do you really need your memory refreshed? CAGW supporters (sorry–I’m working with that term until something better comes along, like hysterics, maybe) equated skeptics with those who denied the Holocaust killed 6 million Jews, gypsies and homosexuals.
    The name stuck. And spread. Then people started trying to justify it by equating it with the psychological phenomenon.
    But it was first used and expressly designed to equate skeptics with those who denied the WWII Holocaust occurred.
    And I don’t think skeptics will ever forget. Heck, I’m not a skeptic and I won’t forget.

  77. Barry Woods says:

    Looking around the various blogs, Tom seems to get more ‘abuse’ than i do, and he is NOT a sceptic.  just someone who mihght be called a lukewarmer. as Judith Curry, suggested she was in the comments here a while back…

    for the hard core CAGW believers, who will not have anything but 100% consensus, moderate, non sceptics like Judith Curry, Tom, pielke jr, etc. seem to be more of a worry to the CAGW advocates, than ‘sceptics’

  78. Barry Woods says:

    George Monbiot writes about Green Madness:

    “As a result, each of us exists in our own world of meaning, constantly at risk of being shattered by inconvenient facts. If we acknowledge them, they can destroy our sense of self. So, to ensure that we won’t be “overwhelmed by the uncertainty inherent in living in a world we can never truly know”, we shut them out by lying to ourselves”

    exapnd it a bit, and this is why the CAGW delusion is so strong, ie the Gore, Greenpeace, wwf version of AGW (catastrophy)

    Imagine what the usual suspect would say if a sceptic wrote this:

    “But it pains me to report that I find myself at odds with other greens almost as often as I find myself fighting our common enemies. I’ve had bruising battles over a long series of miracle solutions supported by friends: liquid biofuels, hydrogen cars and planes, biochar plantations, solar electricity in the UK, scrappage payments, feed-in tariffs. But no green delusion is as crazy as the one I am about to explain. The idea itself might not interest you. But the insight it gives into the filtering techniques humans use is fascinating. So please bear with me while I spell out the latest madness.”

    Full article and context in thge link above…

    What is interesting, since the Guardain Climategate debate, George has not even written about the event he Chaired, and has been rather quieter, less strident(biodiversity, etc) this later article, especially.

  79. GaryM says:

    CAGW is an acronym by the way, not a term, scientific or otherwise.  Again, it is just a good shorthand way of communicating the “consensus” climate position.
    The AG and W of CAGW can be found here in the IPCC AR4:  “All models assessed here, for all the non-mitigation scenarios considered, project increases in global mean surface air temperature (SAT) continuing over the 21st century, driven mainly by increases in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations, with the warming proportional to the associated radiative forcing.)   Or see Real Climate here.: “The earth is getting warmerPeople are causing this….”
    The C can be found here, “Approximately 20-30% of plant and animal species assessed so far are likely to be at increased risk of extinction if increases in global average temperature exceed 1.5-2.5°C;” here, “Many millions more people are projected to be flooded every year due to sea-level rise by the 2080s;”  here, “increased deaths, disease and injury due to heatwaves, floods, storms, fires and droughts;”  here, “Endemic morbidity and mortality due to diarrhoeal disease primarily associated with floods and droughts are expected to rise in East, South and South-East Asia due to projected changes in the hydrological cycle associated with global warming” (notice the GW here as well)…and, well, you get the idea.   You can also find the C expressly stated in this book, Field Notes from a Catastrophe (“The world must unite as one in order to slow down this catastrophe”), given a rave review from Real Climate here.
    Here’s a test:  If you do not believe that: 1) there will be additional warming in the near future; 2) on a global scale; 3) caused by man; 4) that will likely have catastrophic results…raise your hand.   You are not a CAGW proponent.  If you do not openly favor extensive remediation efforts in the near future, such as setting zero carbon goals and/or cap and trade, due to the above, then you are not a CAGW activist.  But if you believe in 1 through 4, and actively support the drastic remediation efforts that have been suggested, then the term CAGW activist fits.

  80. Willard
    To be in denial, or to to deny, requires that one see clear-cut evidence all around, but yet not accept it.
    Right now, those in ‘denial’ are the ones who see clear-cut evidence, in the pages of the IPCC reports and blogs, and cannot understand the rest need a higher standard of proof.
    This situation is very well know in environmental circles – when scientific measurements detect an effect but cannot convince legislators and policymakers, let alone the general public, of its veracity because the ill-effect is so small and attribution is very shaky. The longest people have dealt with this problem is in the public health field – attribution can take decades to be done successfully sometimes. And sorry, whether everyone should run scared like headless chicken whenever they hear the word “health risk” is a matter of opinion still and life would become unbearable if it were otherwise.
    In global warming debates, this effect was named the ‘Giddens Paradox’, by (who else) Anthony Giddens. So pretty much a good number of people know the existence of this problem – whether AGW/GW/CAGW will follow a trajectory of one of the success stories (wherein the general population has finally become mindlessly afraid of the purported risk) is a different thing altogether. Whether it deserves to follow a success trajectory is another separate thing as well. We are not talking about these, let us remember, but about ‘denial’ being an expected, acceptable (in scientific terms) social-scale response.
    But apparently the global warming community wont somehow come to terms with it – as your position shows. I don’t know about you, but if you examine the mountains of voluminous crap that has appeared in the peer-reviewed psychology and social sciences literature, psychologizing away the issue and de-legitimizing its subjects instead of studying them – it is very clear who among the two camps, is in ‘denial’.

  81. willard says:

    Tom Fuller,
    You said that CAGW was no more defined than “˜denier’.   This is true, for the word “denial” is still used in science, as can show the more than 400 000 hits, even when we remove “denial-of-service”.  See for yourself.
    That we should never use the word “denier” because it means “Holocaust denier” needs more than flummoxed outrage.  Ask a linguist to tell you why.  That people will try to use another word than that has nothing to do with the fact that this reason is right.  For instance, I do it as a simple matter of courtesy.
    That said, you must acknowledge that this question has nothing to do with a definition of CAGW.  So this is a tu quoque.  Notice how this argument shifts the topic of discussion.
    To see how bad this argument really is, if we accept it, we could use it to justify any tagging whatsoever.  Here is the trick.  A person, call him P*, dubs a label L.  This label is found to be very offensive by those who consider to be the target of it.  P* justifies L by saying: but look at the word “denier”, recalls the Holocaust, and P* ends up in gusto that he will never forget.
    This argument is so powerful as to become dubious.  Incidentally, this argument has the same form as “yes, but Climategate” and “yes, but RC moderation”.
    Showing outrage is easy.  Here is an example.  The word “skeptic” has been expressly designed to equate denial with a philosophical brand as old as philosophy.  I don’t think true adherents to skepticism will ever forget. Heck, I’m not a philosophical skeptic and I won’t forget.
    The same outrage could be used for the word “Holocaust”, which as a biblical meaning that might be quite different that the historical event.
    Show outrage about “skepticism” and “Holocaust” would be a bit foolish.
    Somehow, even the Wikipedia page can distinguish between the two usages of the word.  (Link not provided to pass moderation.)
    It’s easy to distinguish two usages of a word.  Still, if one couples it with the “yes but denier” argument to dismiss this linguistical fact, one might still win the argument.  That is, if one can find an audience that is a gullible with a tu quoque pronounced with zest and gusto.
    Notice the difference with the CAGW term.  It’s not that offensive.  But it’s not that well defined either.  We simply don’t know what this is about.  If you want to argue that some position amounts to catastrophism and that people are hysterical, then identify these position and people.  If you don’t do that, it’s tough to know what someone who talks about catastrophism is talking about.
    If you don’t do that, you’re simply trying to start what we call a “food fight”, in Climate Blogs parlance.  I apologize to all the kids who enjoy food fights.

  82. willard says:

    This last comment of yours shows evidence of what you dub catastrophic.  All you need now is to identify the “catastrophism”.  It’s not impossible to do.
    In that case, I believe that Tom Fuller will have been proven wrong and hope that this discussion will have answered Steven Sullivan’s question which started it.
    I also note that instead of position, you ask people to raise hands.  Suppose that one person raises the hand.  Does that mean that this person will start to call him or herself a partisan of “catastrophism?”  (I’m simply pointing out the obvious: there are labels for oneself and labels for others.)
    As possible as it might be, you must somehow acknowledge that the C is derogatory.  Yes, but “denier” too, I know, I know.  Does that mean that you’re no better than those who use “denier”?

  83. RickA says:

    Willard and Tom:
    Some find the term denier offensive and some find the term CAGW offensive.
    Fine – I can understand that.  I won’t use the term CAGW – but instead just AGW.
    In addition to being offensive and  insulting, the term denier isn’t even accurate.
    Denier doesn’t even accurately describe the many who agree the globe is warming – but think that the science has not adequately separated out the natural variability from the man-made portion.
    In other words – I don’t deny warming has occurred.  I merely question how much of the warming is caused by man and how much is natural.
    Check back in 30 or 60 years – with better data gathered over the entire globe and over several 30 year cycles and we will probably have a better understanding of how much warming is caused by humans and how much by natural climate variability.
    But right now – we just don’t have a very good handle on it.
    And the longer the warming pauses – or even decreases, the more ambiguous the warming since 1975 becomes.
    So lets agree to cool it on the labeling and agree to be polite to each other.

  84. willard says:

    Your definition seems to miss an important nuance.  Denial requires that a person refuses to see what for people all around that person is clear-cut evidence.  It would be interesting to have some example of a person that refuses the clear-cut evidence, a clear-cut evidence that the person still believes.
    Distracting oneself with the weakest evidence possible, as if there was no clear-cut evidence available, is clinical denial.

  85. RickA says:

    Willard #83:
    I agree that the C is derogatory.
    What label would you prefer?

  86. SimonH says:

    This is something of a pointless re-hash of the same question raised, explored and pretty much put to bed long ago, all within the CaS house. While I do see much derision in the exploration of predictions of catastrophe, but those examinations stand or fall on their own merits.
    The word “catastrophe” (or “catastrophic”, or similar) exists in the climate change vernacular regarding predicted consequences of anthropogenic contributions to climate change, and is succinctly summed up in the acronym CAGW. I just don’t see any point in challenging it or complaining about it. Use it or don’t use it, but complaining is concern trolling.

  87. Lady in Red says:

    Where does one go from here, I ask. I thought that Steve McIntyre would be an epiphany for mainstream climate science: “Wow! Did we muck up, or what?!”
    I thought the same about the Climategate emails… Now, it’s McShane and Wyner… Hope springs eternal in the human heart….
    But, there is no movement whatsoever in the mainstream climate world. No one there is even suggesting that, maybe, climate science ain’s so hot with statistics, numbers.
    I have waited a long time to see “movement” within the mainstream community. When I think of the decade-long, saint-like, patient, persistence of Steve McIntyre and his sidekick Ross, my eyes get wide. (Sometimes, I just get a headache.)
    Where does that leave Keith’s blog, vis a vis this climate stuff? The usual suspects (Gavin Schmidt, Joe Romm, Jim Hansen, Dhogesa, Mr. Rabbit, Gavin’s Pussycat, DeepClimate, etc. etc. etc. Ah! I forgot William Connolley…) will go down in the rubble of Their Alamo never conceding so much as a comma, never mind the scam of Michael Mann’s hockey stick.
    (BTW, I don’t know if I’m a lone wolf in attempting to read William Connolley’s peer reviewed paper about how the preponderance of mainstream climate science always believed in warming. The fact that both Time and Newsweek had cover stories in the mid-1970’s about “The Coming Ice Age” was a function of media hysteria he explains, insufficiently snuffed by serious scientists. The paper includes a lot of arithmetic paper counting simple enough for me to follow and lots of bar graphs. But, he could be counting toothpicks for all the sense it makes. At least, he got it published.)
    Most of the world awaits honest science, if the NSF, NOAA, etc. ever decide to get off the political bandwagon, funding only mitigation and beating the “science is settled” drums themselves. But, then, are they really the Wizard of Oz behind Gavin et al?
    This is becoming repetitive. Trying to bring the “two sides” together is pointless: one side ain’t moving.
    The danger ahead for the world is the ability of government to continue to fund only CAGW research, to continue to force scientists to “cow down” to the lure of research funds ““ for the “correct” research. (It was not until after she retired from NASA that luminary Joanne Simpson was able to speak frankly about her skepticism about climate change, what we know and what we don’t. She mentioned that she was no longer afraid of losing funding. Wow!)
    Maybe the scientifically savvy but skeptical should secretly “adopt” young bright scientists in a quest for honest science: mentor their proposals; advise on their papers; expose irregularities. Keep the funding agencies honest. Dickering over mm in ice cores seems silly, in contrast. “¦.Lady in Red

  88. RickA says:

    SimonH #87:
    CAGW is a subset of AGW.
    In other words CAGW describes the set of predicted consequences of AGW where the outcome is catastrophic.
    Obviously there are many outcomes of AGW which can be predicted to not be catastrophic.  For example, the temperature only going up 1 degree C by 2100, instead of the 3 to 6 some predict.
    Some – like Williard – find the CAGW label offensive.
    I was merely acknowledging that.
    But I do agree that the entire debate over labels is off topic.

  89. SimonH says:

    RickA, I concur with regard to AGW and CAGW. While I subscribe to AGW, I don’t subscribe to CAGW. So, for me, the designation CAGW – distinct from AGW – is functional. I suspect I was an early adopter of the CAGW acronym; I don’t view it as derogatory, I view it as useful in precisely the same way as I find “climate change scepticism” a useful designation, except that CAGW is shorter and easier to type. I also find the word “consensus” useful, but note that while CAGW folk like to refer to it as affirmation of their position, I further note that non-CAGW folk like to use it as a term of derision. Again the inference is distinct from the term itself.
    There is an argument for getting rid of the acronym “CAGW”, in that it serves to blur the distinction between those – like me – who suspect that AGW is not necessarily catastrophic and those who are convinced that AGW is certain to have catastrophic results. But that’s a one-sided argument that does not serve the meta-discussion on climate well.
    The cynic in me screams that the purpose of ridding the debate of the acronym CAGW is not actually intended to benefit the debate, and that that’s actually the point of the movement to abolish it.

  90. SimonH says:

    Urgh.. I said “There is an argument for getting rid of the acronym “CAGW”, in that it serves to blur the distinction between [..]” I meant that ridding the term would serve to blur…
    Must.. drink.. more.. coffee…

  91. willard says:

    Speaking for myself, I’d rather have no labels at all.   But I try to stay realist about using labels 😉  So you’re question is an important one.  Here are personal strictures I employ.
    A first stricture would be to use labels proponents themselves use.  To that effect, “contrarian” fits the bill.  Steve uses it, so it’s good enough for me.
    A second stricture would be to always describe what one is talking about.  If I say that when I refer to realism, I am speaking about the belief in abstract objects, the readers may have a better idea as to what I have in mind.  This is a basic methodological point.
    A third stricture would be to minimize the use of these labels  Even properly identifying a thesis can lead readers astray if all the sentences contain a mouthful of predefined terms.  It’s really tough to follow discussions that throws around words like “realism”, “socialism”, and “activism”, even when they are well-defined in the context where they are used.
    A fourth stricture would be to use the objective form, not to get too personal.  It’s better to talk about realism, socialism and activism than realists, socialists, and activists.  Note the important difference between “denier” and “denial”.  So “catastrophism” is better than “catastrophists”.
    That said, But to I do not that labels are derogatory in themselves.  It is possible that catastrophism becomes accepted by catastrophists themselves, like Solomon did with his book **The Deniers**.  All really amounts to what is tolerated in the community.  A community that tolerates expressions like “tribalism”, “cargo-cult” and “drinking Kool-aid” might have a skin tough enough not to get all outraged by “denier”.
    My original point was only about the second stricture: identifying what one is talking about.  It was not about using labels as such.  I will excuse myself with the lame “Tom Fuller Made Me Do It”.
    ; – )

  92. Tom Fuller says:

    Er, Willard, what’d I say? Not that I haven’t provoked other people, but I honestly don’t see what I wrote that prompted this…

  93. “Denial requires that a person refuses to see what for people all around that person is clear-cut evidence”

    For the ‘man on the street’, who does not have (thankfully) access to the peer-reviewed literature – global warming exists in the pages of newspapers, magazines or websites he might read, and no more. This is a statement of fact. There is nothing to be judgemental about this, and it is not impacted by the fact that, some of his equals believe otherwise. Do you agree?

    If you agree, you accept the existance of the Giddens Paradox.

    Does that mean that this person will start to call him or herself a partisan of “catastrophism?” 

    Willard, it is a good and subtle point you make, and it would certainly be unfair to lump everyone in the CAGW camp as ‘partisans of catastrophism’ (ridiculous as it may sound). As skeptics , we do not claim our AGW brethren are mere doom-mongerers. The doom-mongering is always in service of the cause – that is the point we make.

    All AGW proponents are neither casual or cavalier about predictions of doom, although a good majority of the science Communicatorsâ„¢ are. But, for even those who are not – the game is about “keeping the possibility of catastrophism alive, within the limits of uncertainty”.

  94. willard says:

    I just read this review of the Giddens’ book:
    Here is the author’s description of the paradox:
    > Since the dangers posed by global warming are not immediate or visible to most people, they ignore them; but waiting for them to become visible and immediate before taking serious action will be, by definition, too late. This is a political and not a technocratic problem, he argues, and those in the climate-change lobby who get impatient with politics are wrong. Even the best technocratic scheme has little chance of success unless a way is found to achieve it through politics.
    I must admit that I am no Giddens’ fan.  (At least, I still believe his take on constitutive rules was wrongheaded, but anyway.)  But I surmise that Giddens might be bloody well right about this paradox, or at least his conclusion about the paradox.  Thinking a bit more about the notion of “clear-cut evidence” made me think about this other idea, which bears some relatioship to this paradox.
    Your previous characterization of denial made it look like it was a case of blindsightedness.  That is, the person that denies was looking at the evidence but could not recognize it as evidence.   The question of what counts as blindsight is a complicated matter: let’s just use that as an analogy for what I refer as “looking, but not seeing”.
    The notion of denial I had in mind looked more like an inferential mishap.  A person can look at all the pieces of evidence available, but still could not make up his mind as to the propre inference to make.  This describes well the denial of addicted persons, or persons unwilling to adopt a healtier lifestyle for their heart condition, or whatnot.  So I would contend that it’s better to say that denial is a case of “seeing, but not connecting dots”.
    I believe that describing the climate wars as inferential differences renders more justice to every position, than simply talk about “evidence”.  Evidence has a clear connotation of “being obvious to the eye”, at least etymologically.  In fact, if we were talking about inference, we could even take the idea of judiciary evidence.  Judging is more complicated than seeing: everyone can see the same facts without reaching the same conclusion about them.
    So, to me, the problem is not the evidence, it’s the judgement rendered, once the evidence is taken into account.  (There is also the case of the evidence themselves, but it’s always related to the inferential steps involved.  Anyway.)
    This idea also renders justice to what Giddens dubs a “paradox”.  Waiting to “see” before acting amounts to not acknowledging the fact that the judgement is never so obvious (another interesting visual concept) as being “seen”.  My only criticism, for now, would be that I fail to see this as a paradox.
    In any case, this Giddens idea might have interesting repercussions in a related philosophical debate, the one about akrasia.  This debate is too complicated to be recalled here.

  95. GaryM says:

    Willard (83),
    Sorry, I don’t feel the need to identify anything. The word “catastrophe” has the same meaning no matter what I think.  CAGW is just an acronym that is shorthand for the consensus view of climate activists.   Don’t ask me to define the words, they are in any decent dictionary.  My post above just showed that all the terms in the acronym come from the scientists and activists themselves.
    Even the C.  I have seen no disparaging of the title or contents of the book I cited above, that was favorably reviewed by Real Climate.  And here’s how the Guardian described an interview with James Hansen (an activist by anyone’s definition of the word), on the issue:  “They [pictures of his grandchildren] are reminders to the 67-year-old scientist of his duty to future generations, children whom he now believes are threatened by a global greenhouse catastrophe that is spiralling out of control because of soaring carbon dioxide emissions from industry and transport.”  (There are a lot more examples.)
    “Denier” on the other hand was expressly used to compare climate change skeptics to Holocaust deniers.  Some activists have even suggested trying skeptics as criminals, like, again,   James Hansen claiming that CEOs of fossil fuel companies should be tried for crimes against humanity for promulgating skeptical views.   There simply is no comparison.
    Labels are great time savers, if they are fair.   I am a conservative, a skeptic, a father, and an American.  Each of these “labels” tells you something about me with one word.  If “CAGW” or “activist” doesn’t apply to you, then why would you care if the term is used.  If it does on the other hand, I can see why you would like to make it more difficult to talk about it.
    You can argue semantics all you want.  CAGW is a descriptive acronym that fits the consensus argument better than the glove fit OJ.

  96. Tom Fuller says:

    What I think GaryM misses is the need for some in this game to affix labels on others rather than accepting our self-characterizations.
    I am a liberal ‘lukewarmer’ Yank, married, no kids. But not a day goes by that I don’t get called a denier, in the pay of Heartland/CEI/Koch Bros. et al, with no thought for the future.
    The problem is that the same people who call me a denier get upset (not referring to you Willard) at being called alarmist, and now at CAGW.
    I have asked them what they would like to be called, and the answer is usually precious enough to inspire nausea–something like ‘sane’ or ‘correct’ or even ‘human.’ After which they happily go back to calling me a denier–or worse, depending on how far gone they are.

  97. This describes well the denial of addicted persons, or persons unwilling to adopt a healtier lifestyle for their heart condition, or whatnot.  So I would contend that it’s better to say that denial is a case of “seeing, but not connecting dots”.

    It goes a bit beyond that. Examine all analogous examples cited frequently (slow-drip environmental issues, disease risk factors – especially for cardiovascular disease and cancer) – these events have multiple signs of physical evidence, which then translate to outcomes in much shorter timescales. Even those who ‘deny’ lung cancer risk from smoking, for example, experience firsthand its other ill-effects – from smoker’s morning cough to nicotine stained nails to loss of taste to chronic bronchitis and beyond. They know it is no good.

    What such opportunities are afforded by global warming to its observers?

    As far as I can tell, Giddens was universally panned for appropriating a ‘known’ ecologic/environmental concept and eponymising it under his name. (for example Google ‘Monbiot + shrinking violet’). What, however, a majority in the environmental field seems to have missed with this supposed paradox, is its sociologic applicability and meaningfulness. They take the whole of it (the paradox), bash Giddens for its lack of novelty and dismiss it. But they silently acknowledge the first half – over and over again – just look at any climate change psychology literature for this.

  98. GaryM says:

    Tom Fuller,
    I have no problem with self-characterizations, if they are accurate.   But the problem is not that CAGW activists object to a particular characterization, it is that they object to any characterization at all.  That is why you get the amorphous “sane,” “correct” or “human” in response to your question.  The purpose is to obscure their position.  There has been too much negative press lately about the admitted lack of warming recently, and bogus claims of catastrophic effects in particular.  CAGW just reminds the public of those inconvenient facts.
    You object to being insulted by false accusations.  To the contrary, what CAGW activists object to is being correctly labeled.   That is not the same thing at all.  CAGW is not a noun or an adjective, it is just shorthand for the consensus position, using their own choice of words.  It is neither insulting nor false.
    Anyone who objects to the term can easily say “I don’t expect  catastrophic results from AGW” (as, I believe, have Judith Curry, Keith Kloor and yourself); or I do not think the globe is warming; or I don’t think the warming is caused by man.  Any such person would be mislabeled if called a CAGW proponent.   Otherwise, the acronym fits.

  99. Tom Fuller:

    “Willard, you seem to have forgotten how the term denier came into usage in the climate wars. Do you really need your memory refreshed? CAGW supporters (sorry”“I’m working with that term until something better comes along, like hysterics, maybe) equated skeptics with those who denied the Holocaust killed 6 million Jews, gypsies and homosexuals.”

    Fuller misinterprets history again.

    I believe we were trying to come up with a name for the peculiar phenomenon on sci.environment some time ago in the 90s. Somebody suggested “denier”; I don’t remember who. I assure you that if anybody had raised any possibility of a Godwin violation (a Nazi reference) I would have objected vehemently.

    It is also important to understand that “denier” has never referred to rational opposition but only to willful twisting of evidence toward a foregone conclusion.

  100. Tom Fuller says:

    Michael, it came into prominence about the time skeptics were equated with Nazi prison guards, etc. You can try and rewrite history all you want, but it just ain’t so.

  101. willard says:


    Steve Fitzpatrick knows now what you are referring to when talk about CAGW: it’s the consensus position.  This will have to do for now.  That this consensus position is unclear, as we don’t know exactly at which point and on what matter lie all the catastrophes you were citing.
    This question is not related to semantics, understood as “what is in the dictionary”, but as the reference of your expression, i.e. what it denotes in real life.  When pressed, you can identify what you are talking about: it’s the consensus position, as exemplified by a Hansen book and IPCC quotes.  So I disagree with you: you did try to identify what you are talking about, even if you claim having the need to do so. 

    Now we’d have to track back everything you said regarding the “consensus position” to verify it your editorials make sense.  They are none of my concerns right now.  You certainly are entitled to your editorials anyway.

    I’ll agree with you on another matter: I too have no problem with accurate self-characterizations.  They certainly are ok when they are ok.   Problems are how and when to tell that such and such instance is ok.
    For instance, I am not sure that saying that you are a “skeptic” is ok.  Skepticism is a scientific virtue: by using it to refer to the contrarian position you endorse, you are depriving it to the consensus position.  By characterizing your own position as “skeptic”, you are basically saying that the consensus position is not skeptical.  This amounts to say that they’re not scientific.  I don’t believe this epithet is as neutral as “father”, “conservative”, and “American”.  Nor do I believe it creates a clean wedge between the main climate opposition.

    Another reason to doubt (see, I can show skepticism too) the propriety of “skeptic” is that the epithet lacks a complement.  This complement is important to recognize what one’s doubts is really about.  One can be a skeptic about warming, global warming, anthropogenic global warming, catastrophicanthropogenic global warming, or a combination of these.  One can be a skeptic about multifarious details related to each or a combination of these. One can be a skeptic about this kind of skepticism, of course.
    In any case, it does not matter much, as “skeptic” is becoming vernacular, and this tops being proper.  If most people are ok about you telling you’re a skeptic, I am ok too, after all.


    Activists will say that AGW lead to a catastroph.  CAGW proponents are then activists. On the other hand, AGW is a scientific hypothesis.  The most influential proponents are then scientists.  The acronym CAGW conflates both roles, or better, the scientific hypothesis with a personal evaluation of its possible consequence.

    This might certainly portray AGW proponents as catastrophists.  This quite obviously appeals to spite to discredit AGW.  Instead of explaining why it is so, I will simply defer the reader to a general description of the argumentum ad odium:

    After this one can then ponder on this sentence of yours:

    > CAGW is a descriptive acronym that fits the consensus argument better than the glove fit OJ.

    “Consensus argument” compared to “OJ’s glove”: an interesting image, certainly not evoking anything…
    To be fair, we must also note that the “denier” epithet relies on the same kind of appeal.


    I will conclude this by noting the symmetry between denial and catastrophism.  Denial minimizes a phenomenon, a fact, or an habit, while catastrophism dramatizes it.  It’s easy to say that an opponent minimizes the consequence of such and such; it’s easy for that opponent to reply that its antagonist is dramatizing. 

    Interestingly, this symmetry holds only for rhetorical strategies.  As soon as we’re talking scientific hypothesis, it breaks down.  Let’s wonder why, without rationalizing too much.

  102. Brendan H says:

    Willard: “I will conclude this by noting the symmetry between denial and catastrophism.”
    And also the possibility that both feed off each other, especially if these sorts of labels are primarily rhetorical strategies with, nevertheless, some basis in reality.
    Not only that, but the positions often reverse, with AGW sceptics engaging in their own form of catastrophising about, for example, economic collapse and totalitarian one-world government, against which AGW believers exercise their own scepticism.
    “Interestingly, this symmetry holds only for rhetorical strategies.”
    Yes, and only for specific strategies. If AGW believers are also sceptics about some issues, and AGW sceptics are also believers about some issues, the labels “sceptic”, “denier”, “believer” etc are specific rather than general. If so, the terms are as much about jockeying for rhetorical advantage as they are about one’s opponent.
    Presumably, this is why we choose the label for ourselves that we think can provide the best leverage for our case, and the label for our enemies that will cause most damage to their case.

  103. Barry Woods says:

    Michael Tobis….

    Johann Hari, probably started it of (in the UK) (writer for the Independent, MSM newspaper – 2005)

    “they are nudging close to having the moral credibility of Holocaust deniers.”

    holocaust denial  ball picked up, by many, noteably including, George Monbiot (in 2006, writes for the Guardian, MSM newspaper UK):

    “Almost everywhere, climate change denial now looks as stupid and as unacceptable as Holocaust denial.”

    Of course the various actvists, lobby groups, ect ( Transition Towns, Greenpeace, wwf, etc) picked up this theme and ran with it…

    Fallen out of fashion of late, Bob Ward ( Grantham Institute) now using words like sceptics again, trying to link them with creatiuonists, tobbaco funding, deniars wasn’t working as well anymore, ie the AGW crowd admitting some unceratinities / questiuons, so denial, only works if no questions.

    Bob Ward at work in the Guardian: (slagging of – ‘The Hockey Stick Illusion’ – AJ Montford – aka – Bishop Hill

    Bishop Hill response:

    Andrew Montford appeared on BBC Newsnight last night.
    ie Is Climate Change responsible for flooding in Pakistan….

    Bob Ward, has a go in the comments section:
     Bob Ward wrote:
    I see that Andrew Montford is bragging on his Bishop Hill blog that he is an interviewee on this evening’s programme about the link between the floods in Pakistan. His only contribution to the climate change debate so far has been a controversial book about palaeoclimatology, so it is not clear what his expertise on climate change and extreme weather is meant to be. Or perhaps he will be representing Lord Lawson’s group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which now regularly provides the “˜balancing’ voice of dissent every time a scientist is interviewed about climate change on “˜Newsnight’. If so, this is presumably evidence of the commitment of “˜Newsnight’ to impartiality rather than accuracy? And can I look forward to further instances of this balance by for instance, by including comments from a creationist every time there is a story about evolution?”

    Someone replies, making Bob look a bit silly (with his obvious spin)

    “I’ve just been to his blog, by the way, and “bragging” is hardly a fair description of what he wrote:

    “I’ve been invited to appear on Newsnight tonight to talk about the Pakistani floods and climate change. Should be interesting.”

    Andrew Montford is a man who lets the facts speak for themselves, Mr Ward, as I’m sure you may now be aware.”

    So a few minutes with google, gave all those verifiable links/quotes..

    ie the denail thing seemed to start around 2005, in the UK.
    was rampant in the Gardian, post climategate they have realised, and said in print, stop using the denial word..

    Roger Harrabin  (BBC) does not use the denier word, and does not like it (he is good friends with George Monbiot) and Roger has said to me in person (after Guardian Climategate debate), that he has suggested to George in the past, before best not to use it…………

    Yet the Guardian are still at it, they have said they would not use denier any more(because of the recognised connotations) ?, maybe they think ok ,if just George uses it…

  104. willard says:

    Here is Johann Hari’s full quote:
    > The climate-change deniers are rapidly ending up with as much intellectual credibility as creationists and Flat Earthers. Indeed, given that 25,000 people died in Europe in the 2003 heat wave caused by anthropogenic climate change, given that the genocide unfolding in Darfur has been exacerbated by the stresses of climate change, given that Bangladesh may disappear beneath the rising seas in the next century, they are nudging close to having the moral credibility of Holocaust deniers.
    While admitting that this a perfect instance of an ad odium, one can notice the long conditional excluded from Barry Woods’ quote.  There is a difference between saying that “if you say stupid things you are a fool” and simply “you are a fool”.
    Also note the scientific statement that is being the subject of contestation:
    > Nobody denies the natural greenhouse effect and nobody denies that humans have massively increased carbon emissions since the Industrial Revolution,” says Jenkins, “so why does anybody dispute this unnatural greenhouse effect, especially with all the evidence of its effects?
    Notice that in this quote the word “deny” is being used.  Does that mean that climatologist Geoff Jenkins is dissing in spite?
    Denying the unnatural greenhouse effect is not the same as denying some climatologic property of tree rings.  Paying due dilligence to what is being talked about is always a good idea.
    After all that has been said, one still has to wonder if “deny” entails “denial”, if “denial” entails “denier”.  These are important questions, if “denier” connotes the Holocaust.

  105. GaryM says:

    All this sound and fury about a simple descriptive acronym.  Must have hit a nerve.  Oh, and the line about OJ’s glove was not a comparison of AGW to murder, I think Michael Tobis has made that anaology to CAGW skepticism.  It was a joke that  analogized your arguments not to the act of murder, but to the comic, obvious attempts to pretend the glove did not fit as proof of OJ’s innocence.  This analogy would put you in the place of Johnny Cochran, not OJ.  (Although some might object more to being “compared” in your words, to a lawyer more than to a murderer.)
    Willard, a simple question for you.  Do you believe that the globe is warming due to anthropogenic causes, that will likely have catastrophic consequences in the not too distant future?

  106. GaryM says:

    Here is the Michael Tobis quote I was referring to immediately above, I couldn’t find it at first.
    “As for the scope of the ethical risk, let us consider the possibility that the behavior of the Times and the Post this year increases the chance of an extreme event with a premature mortality of a billion people by a mere part per million, a per cent of a per cent of a per cent. The expected mortality from this is a thousand people. Is that morally equivalent to actually killing a thousand people? It’s not all that obvious to me that it isn’t. ”
    A genteel way of comparing denial (by the Times and Post no less) to murder.  Or maybe he only meant manslaughter?
    Oh, and I would plead guilty to being an alarmist about many of the “remedies” CAGW activists are seeking.  Zero carbon in the near future.  Massive energy tax incr3ases in the current economy.  Yes, I believe that they would very possibly have disasterous, one could say catastrophic, results on the economy on the scale being proposed.  So feel free to come up with an acronym.

  107. The catastrophists think they should be let off the hook because they hide their alarmism in the long folds of their sentences.

    Ok, they are not catastrophists then, they are cata-sophists.

    We all have to use some names. CAGW is a fine term that encapsulates a position, very accurately.

    It is a good sign that are splitting hairs over this.

  108. laursaurus says:

    Thanks for your reply to MT, Barry!
    Maybe it wasn’t Michael, but I remember all the work I went to post links confirming the deliberate allusion to the Holocaust previously on this blog.  Various MSM op-ed journalists intended to compare CAGW skeptics to Holocaust deniers.
    Here are some more links:
    The 2nd and 3rd were written in 2007, as a label not only to marginalize skeptics, but to impugn their moral character. Interesting that more than one example promoting the lingo can be found from the same news source.
    Now that this evidence has been presented, will MT discourage use of the term climate change denier? I don’t think I’ve seen him, personally use that term here, which I appreciate.

  109. Barry Woods says:


    As I said in my post, AND provided the full link for context.

    These journalists used it in the context, they described. and the various actvists, lobby groups, etc, took the ‘holocaust deniar ball’ and ran with it…

    Now that, the AGW crowd, have admitted unceratinties and the science is not completely settled..
    They have larger (ie Bob Warb in the Guardian) stopped using it, as obviously – counter productive..

    Please don’t imply anyithinng, I provided the full link for anybody to read the full context.  I just did not wish to clutter, the blog, with a whole article.

    Geroge Monbiot is still at it, though.. also labbeling all sceptics/deniars as rightwingers!

  110. Brendan H says:

    Barry Woods: “Yet the Guardian are still at it, they have said they would not use denier any more…”

    Perhaps it might help if climate sceptic blogs could make some moves towards reciprocation and drop the likes of “true believer” and “green-shirt thugs”.

    Interestingly, though, the use of Nazi allusions seems to have fallen away in recent weeks on sceptic blogs, so perhaps things are improving.

    The rhetorical war is a good deal more important than people are prepared to admit. Yes, they’re just labels, but labels can be visible evidence of an underlying reality, in this case the public struggle over the science.

  111. Barry Woods says:

    Bit of an asymetric war there…  a few climate blogs (obscure ones? ) Watts, Up, Climate audit, bishop hill, would not endorse that behaviour.. vs a MSM UK paper (Guardian for example), whose author of that piece happens to be president, of the Campaign Against Climate Change.
    only sceptics hall of shame:
    George Monbiot, even allowed to do the same in The Guardian, rersponsible MSM journalism and editorial?

    Blogs, with some idiots in the comments sections, that the vast majority of the ‘general public’ have not heard of, vs the journalists (not commentors) writing the articles in the MSM.

    MOST of the abuse (at least UK/Europe?) comes from the pro camp, MSM journalists included, as far as I have seen, I can’t speak for USA on that (different there?)

  112. willard says:

    Here are the claims that the Monbiot article written on Monday 23 August 2010, which aims to provide “more evidence that climate science divides people on political lines”, and in particular, that “denial has nothing to do with science and everything to do with politics.”

    In Australia:

    > Abbott is no longer an outright denier, though he still insists, in the teeth of the facts, that the world has cooled since 1997.

    > Senator Nick Minchin [same Australian party] maintains that “the whole climate change issue is a leftwing conspiracy to deindustrialise the western world”.

    > A recent poll suggests that 38% of politicians in Abbott’s coalition believe man-made global warming is taking place, in comparison with 89% of Labor’s people.


    > At a senatorial hustings in New Hampshire last week, all six Republican candidates denied that man-made climate change is taking place.

    > Václav Klaus, the ultra-neoliberal Czech president, asserts that “global warming is a false myth and every serious person and scientist says so”.

    > The hard-right UK Independence party may soon be led by Lord Monckton, the craziest man in British politics, who claims that action on climate change is a conspiracy to create a communist world government.

    We can see evidence that, for Monbiot, “deniers” refers to “rightwingers who claim climate change is a leftwing conspiracy”.  This expression refers, in this context, more to conspirationism than to historical negationnism.  And this expression more than connotes it: it tries to argue for it. 

    Monbiot might be “still at it”, whatever that means, it should be noted that the what he tries to show that there are elected officials who try to gain political points by proclaiming that action on climate change is a leftist conspiracy.  So to say that he’s
    > labbeling all sceptics/deniars as rightwingers!
    is simply false.

  113. Barry Woods says:

    Missed out the Headline:

    For deniers, politics beats the science. Handouts beat both
    From Australia to the US, the rightwingers who claim climate change is a leftwing conspiracy will grab green subsidies

    Strange how people see the same words, and see them differently…
    I see that as effectively linking/labelling people

  114. willard says:

    Barry Woods,
    Monbiot argues that rightwingers use denial as a political weapon.  Monbiot does not try to argue that all those who use denial are rightwingers.
    I am sure it’s possible to find leftists denying something.

  115. Lewis says:

    Dear  Keith, I’m commenting late on an old thread because I’m a bit shame faced about my contribution the other night.
    It seems to me that your blog has become quite ( British for very!) important but it has it’s dangers – some will try to cast it and you into ‘utter darkness’ and, therefore, marginalize your efforts. You will become, let us say, ‘one of them’. That’s not what you want – of course, this involves ‘diplomacy’ but don’t be thrust into anyone’s camp.  You seem to me pretty just and canny. You’ll balance it out. Meantime holiday!
    With respect

  116. I don’t use the D word much anymore, but its use among the usenet sci.environment crowd certainly predates the references noted above.
    Here is me discussing the word a dozen years ago.

  117. laursaurus says:

    However, I think it is extremely rude to attach a name to one’s
    opponents’ position, and is almost invariably counterproductive to reasoned
    discussion. Using a name to express contempt for one’s opponents just fuels
    the fire of mutual hostility. This tendency is itself far more dangerous
    than global climate change. It ultimately fuels war and/or fascism, which
    kill far more effectively and ruthlessly than storms and droughts.

    Well said, Michael!

  118. Alas, laursaurus, I am more worried about climate change than I was a dozen years ago.
    I had expected that once the evidence piled up that politicians and the general public could manage to be more reasonable. Since this hasn’t worked out, indeed, quite the opposite in some countries, I am at something of a loss as to what to do about it.

  119. paulfunnykelly says:

    When a door is closed, it’s time to look for an open window.  Expand your affinity group to include those who will never be convinced about climate.

  120. Brendan H says:

    Barry Woods: “Bit of an asymetric war there”¦ a few climate blogs (obscure ones? ) Watts, Up, Climate audit, bishop hill, would not endorse that behaviour…”

    The examples I gave were from Watts Up. From the same post: “socialist world government”, “cargo cult science”, “hoaxers and alarmists”, “astrologers”, “dictatorship”, “New World Order”, “The ILLUMINATI counterattack!”, “AGW religious believers”, “climate-change inquisitors”, “corrupted by money and fame”.

    The abuse directed against climate scientists and warmers on sceptic blogs and elsewhere is neither accidental nor incidental.

    “MOST of the abuse (at least UK/Europe?) comes from the pro camp, MSM journalists included…”

    You clearly don’t read the likes of Booker or Monckton. And a claim that most of the abuse comes from the warming camp is based on little more than a general impression.

  121. Keith Kloor says:

    Michael (119) writes “I am at something of a loss as to what to do about it.”

    Here’s another roadmap for you over at Dot Earth.


  122. Marlowe Johnson says:

    If we have to wait for alternatives to coal to be cheaper than alternatives (with no externalities priced in) then we’re pooched.
    there is simply no way that the gates approach will have any appreciable effect in the near term (which I suspect is what MT and many others are worried about).  The issue is not so much whether or not we need to substantially increase public R&D into alt energy.  Of course we do.  But to suggest that this alone is somehow sufficient by itself as a response to the threat of climate change is ridiculous.
    IMO he-who-must-not-be-named has it exactly right.  We need to deploy existing technologies now (wind, solar, etc.).  Economies of scale will bring the costs of many of these technologies down MUCH FASTER than the basic R&D that Gates et al seem to be pushing.  As a computer guy you would think that he would get this.

  123. Marlowe Johnson says:

    “But I’ve put money into Vinod Khosla’s venture fund. I’ve put money into Nathan Myhrvold [and his Intellectual Ventures Fund]. Nathan has this thing that invents ideas broadly, many of which are energy-related.”
    0 for 2.  doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

  124. Hank Roberts says:

    So when Gates says in that NYT interview
    “… the way capitalism works is that it systematically underfunds innovation …”
    Is he suggesting we need more of the innovation we see in wartime and during revolutions?  Or something not yet tried?

  125. Hank Roberts says:

    Message from those:  “a majority … said they would not want to work with the unselfish colleague again. They frequently said, “the person is making me look bad” or is breaking the rules. Occasionally, they would suspect the person had ulterior motives….”

  126. GaryM says:

    Bill Gates, like so many entrepreneurs who make it big, loses track of how he got there.  He starts out great in that interview:  “…you need independent inventors… You can’t just get a bunch of smart people together and know which path you should go off and pursue.”
    But then we get to:  “So I think it’s very important, both to give poor people cheap energy and to avoid hugely negative climate change, that the U.S. government and other governments fund basic research.”
    He gets the complexity of the problem right: ” It’s (changing the nature of the energy industry) not easy, and it’s bad for society if we think it is easy… .”
    But his own solution?  A “simple” 1 percent tax on energy to “fund innovation.”  I’m sorry, but the government funding “innovation,”  isn’t that exactly “get[ting] a bunch of smart people together and know which path you should go off and pursue….”  Or is he suggesting we hire dumb bureaucrats?
    It reminds me of T. Boone Pickens all of a sudden launching an ad campaign for government investment in wind technology, then finding out he has a massive investment in proposed wind farms.  When a rich guy starts talking about how easy it is to raise your taxes for the public good, check to make sure your wallet is still there.

  127. Barry Woods says:


    moncton is not abusive and just a journo, moncton is just moncton and a bit of a dstraction (he does seem to keep Deltoid, etc amused, so he is good for something 😉 )

    In the UK we had the Prime Minister (Copenhagen time) calling sceptics, ‘ flat earther’ deniars’ and ‘anti-science’

    The Minister of State for Climate and Energy, calling sceptics ‘climate sabatouers’ worringly close to terrorists.

    I think any abuse, rhetoric or positions of authority, etc are rather asymetric.  ie much more on the ro CAGW side..

  128. Barry Woods says:

    sea levels – 488 ft lower 10,00 years ago…  somehow sea levels went up without human intervention them..

    Have all these natural factors stopped>

    “Anthropologists from the National Automonous University of Mexico think that the body was placed in the cave in a funeral ceremony performed late in the Pleistocene epoch when the sea level was around 488 feet lower than it is today.”

    Read more:

  129. willard says:

    > In the UK we had the Prime Minister (Copenhagen time) calling sceptics, “˜ flat earther’ deniars’ and “˜anti-science’.
    This is a nice example to show how important it is to know what we’re talking about.  Let’s suppose that the source of this claim is this article from the Telegraph:

    We will suppose that the Telegraph is a good source to show the worse of what Brown can say and that this article is a good source for the worse that Brown said.
    Here is the actual Brown quote:
    > With only days to go before Copenhagen we mustn’t be distracted by the behind-the-times, anti-science, flat-earth climate sceptics. We know the science. We know what we must do.
    We don’t know exactly who the “climate sceptics” are and what is the topic of their dissent.  Here is the headline:
    > People who doubt that human activity contributes to global warming are “flat-earthers” and “anti-science”, Gordon Brown has said.
    If Brown said that, that means that, for him, the skeptics he’s talking about are those who dissent at least from the A in the AGW hypothesis.
    Let’s see how the Telegraph interprets what “skeptics” denotes:
    > Climate sceptics around the world are using the crisis to argue that man made global warming is not proven and therefore there is no need for a deal to curb greenhouse gas emissions or pay to help poor countries adapt.
    Notice the last part of the sentence: “pay to help poor countries adapt.”  But let’s forget this coatracking for the moment.
    The paragraph that follows is a rare thing of beauty:
    > In the US, the controversy has prompted leading global warming sceptics in the Republican Party to call for hearings in Congress, in a bid to thwart Barack Obama’s plans for energy reform.
    So here we go again: the “leading global warming sceptics” that are identified as actors on the political scene were to be found, at the time of the writing of the article, “in the Republican Party”.  Let’s wonder why.
    And so we can see that The Telegraph is saying something that is not quite different from what Monbiot is saying.  The flavour has changed dramatically, though.

  130. Barry Woods says:

    so you agree Brown said flat earth climate sceptics and anti science…. in exactly the context  said, as I can not interpret it any other way (from a man with a phd – in history)  Whilst remembering, at the tune, Brown was off to Copenhagen, with the words 50 days to save the planet……

    those word were reported in every major UK paper, and on the news, so why pretend the Telegraph is making them up, in some sort of context, other than his intention…..

    Closed down any debate, and get a deal at Copenhagen, and of course make Brown look good.
    minus how mnay days now 😉

  131. willard says:

    Brendan H,
    This list is interesting:
    > The examples I gave were from Watts Up. From the same post: “socialist world government”, “cargo cult science”, “hoaxers and alarmists”, “astrologers”, “dictatorship”, “New World Order”, “The ILLUMINATI counterattack!”, “AGW religious believers”, “climate-change inquisitors”, “corrupted by money and fame”.
    You might be interested in this search:

    Interestingly, if you try to search for “eco-fascist” using WTFIUT’s own search engine, you will not find any hit.
    In fact, if you do the same search as above but with adding “+monkton”, you find interesting quotes, which might puts into perspective Barry Woods’ claim that:
    > [M]oncton is not abusive.

  132. Keith Kloor says:

    Marlowe (123)

    The focus on the near term ignores the immense (and ever-growing)  demand for energy, which, best as I can tell, will not be met by even scaled up renewables. This the myth or the hope that he-who-shall-not be named likes to advance: that the existing technologies exist to get us where we need to go, if only the investment and political will was there to scale them up.

    I’ve read powerful counterarguments against this. (Don’t ask me for cites now…I’m just parachuting in and out…maybe next week.

    Anyway, I see no reason why there can’t be a dual approach, but to stop the true climate juggarnut (if that’s what you’re really worried about), Gates’ approach makes the most sense to me.

    And if there was true concern about the short term, how come I don’t hear more bleating from climate advocates about black coal? There’s some low-hanging fruit waiting to be plucked but nobody seems to want it.

  133. Keith Kloor says:

    Sorry, I meant to say, black carbon.

  134. Barry Woods says:

    Brendan H said Booker was abusive, I said not

    Nowhere did I claim that Monckton was not  (eloquently perhaps) I do think he is a distraction and an irrelevance.

    And he does not help anybody, if any serious issue comes up, the likes of Deltoid, RealClimatecan  ignore the real story/issue and run another ‘have a go at Monckton piece’, as a distraction.

  135. willard says:

    > so you agree Brown said flat earth climate sceptics and anti science”¦. in exactly the context  said, as I can not interpret it any other way
    The most important thing to note is that people do not “say” words, they use words to make statements.  So Brown did use the words “anti-science” and “flat-earthers”.  And Brown did said something like “those who are skeptics about the human impact on climate change are anti-science and flat-earthers”.
    Second, that I agree or not with the fact that Brown said such or such is irrelevant.  What is relevant is hat the Telegraph reported that Brown did qualify “skeptics” as “anti-science”, and “flat-earthers”.  About this Telegraph report, I agree.  The link I provided is a good proof to that claim.
    So I agree that, if the Telegraph’s report is true, Brown called those who deny the human impact on climate change as flat-earthers and anti-science.  What I would not agree about is  that Brown told that everyone who is labelled as “skeptic” is a flat-earther and anti-science.
    To say that:
    > In the UK we had the Prime Minister (Copenhagen time) calling sceptics, “˜ flat earther’ deniars’ and “˜anti-science’
    without specifying what “skeptics” Brown was referring might be seen as a way to claim that Brown was against anyone who labels himself as a skeptic.  Interestingly, the label “skeptic” in the context of this very thread has NOT always the same meaning as the one Brown did take the effort to specify.
    So we see an instance of the emotional effect that underspecifying a label can do in a discussion.
    We should finally note that we did not find the “deniers” word in the article.  So referring to Brown’s PhD is intriguing.
    > [S]o why pretend the Telegraph is making them up, in some sort of context, other than his intention”¦..
    I am not pretending that the Telegraph is making things up.  I am simply pointing at the fact that the Telegraph, in its role of representing rightwing’s dissenting voice, is a sound source to find the worse that Brown could say.  I did not say that it would be impossible to find worse, simply that I trusted the Telegraph to do its best to portray Browne in its worse light possible, possible by the law, of course.
    This methodological precaution was helpful to limit ourselves to the study of one article.

  136. GaryM says:

    The thing I like about that October ’09 Gordon Brown op ed is the way he uses the C word without reservation. “We must never lose sight of the catastrophe we face if present warming trends continue.”  He must not have gotten the memo.
    And please, pseudo-semantic statements like “people don’t ‘say’ words, they use words to make statements” give me a headache.    say = use words to make a (verbal) statement

  137. willard says:

    Here are two sentences from Barry Woods:
    > Nowhere did I claim that Monckton was not  (eloquently perhaps) I do think he is a distraction and an irrelevance.
    > moncton is not abusive and just a journo, moncton is just moncton and a bit of a dstraction (he does seem to keep Deltoid, etc amused, so he is good for something )
    It would be interesting to know how these two can be made compatible.

  138. willard says:

    >  say = use words to make a (verbal) statement
    Fair enough.  Now, tell me what is the verbal statement of:
    > so you agree Brown said flat earth climate sceptics and anti science”¦
    Sometimes, semantics can be useful.  Here, I think it’s important, as it clarifies the meanings that is the subject of discussion.
    Semantics is also helpful for this other instance: “October “˜09 Gordon Brown op ed”.  This “op-ed” is actually “an edited extract from a speech given by the Prime Minister to the Major Economies Forum in London”.  One could argue that to refer to this speech as an “op-ed” minimies what a Prime Minister does when he pronounce speeches.  This minimization does not have a mere semantical impact.

  139. GaryM says:

    OK, I find this kind of thing really a distraction but I will answer your question if you will answer the one I asked you above (106), which I will quote at the bottom of this comment.
    Here is the actual quote from Brown in the article you were discussing:  “”With only days to go before Copenhagen we mustn’t be distracted by the behind-the-times, anti-science, flat-earth climate sceptics. We know the science. We know what we must do.”   No qualification of the word “skeptics” there, and the full quote expressly references “what we must do,” implicitly including those who accept AGW but disagree on what we must do about it, within the meaning of skeptic.
    You wrote “So I agree that, if the Telegraph’s report is true, Brown called those who deny the human impact on climate change as flat-earthers and anti-science.”  This however is not a quote of what Brown actually said, but of the sub-headline of the article, which read “People who doubt that human activity contributes to global warming are ‘flat earthers’ and ‘anti-science’, Gordon Brown has said.”  But if you notice, only the individual terms are in quotation marks.
    So while I don’t much care about what he said, since you asked, I would say your interpretation was wrong.
    As to the Brown op ed, I called it that because it was published on the Independent’s “Commentators” page.  That is the word I see commonly used to describe opinion pieces submitted to newspapers that are not the product of the editorial board.  You go ahead and call it whatever you like.  I could not care less.
    So perhaps now you can answer the question I asked you earlier.
    Do you believe that the globe is warming due to anthropogenic causes, that will likely have catastrophic consequences in the not too distant future?
    Like Hannibal Lechter said:  “Quid pro quo, Clarice….”

  140. Brendan H says:

    Barry Woods: “moncton is not abusive and just a journo…”

    Here’s some quotes from a speech Monckton gave last year: “bed-wetting moaning Minnies…Greens too yellow to admit they’re really Reds?, “Stop telling lies.”, “Forces of Darkness”, “Dr. Strangelove of NASA”, “bed-wetting liars, hucksters, shysters, fraudsters, and racketeers”.


    I grant that some of these comments are mildly amusing if rather twee, but whatever their impact, they are designed to be abusive.

    “…moncton is just moncton…”

    And I am just me, and you are just you, and we are just altogether, but that misses the point. We’re not discussing Monckton’s identity, we’re discussing his behaviour.

  141. Brendan H says:

    Willard: “Interestingly, if you try to search for “eco-fascist” using WTFIUT’s own search engine, you will not find any hit.”

    Funny that. And yet the site is so open and welcoming to all points of view.

  142. willard says:


    /1. If we put together all the evidence put forward the Telegraph report, and if the reporting by the Telegraph is to be trusted, we have little choice but to believe that Brown did call those who deny the human impact on climate change as flat-earthers and anti-science.  Had the Telegraph misrepresented Brown’s words by the indirect quote of their sub-headline for such an important political matter, they might have had to correct it.  They did not correct it, so we must presume that Brown’s PR team were ok with it.  Maybe we should ask journalists to confirm that the subheadline is worded as to convey the meaning of Brown’s message, ceteris paribus.

    /2.  That we have problems interpreting a piece of text we have in front of our eyes shows how easy it is to disagree.  No wonder that we find dissent regarding an hypothesis so complicated that all its detailsand nuances get shovelled under a mere acronym.  Now imagine very old tree rings or temperature measures.

    /3.  As a bonus, and to prevent further misdirection: I never condemned the general use of acronyms or epithets.  What I condemned is the incapacity of those using it to identify what it’s really about, who holds it and in what kind of discourse we see it.  As far as I know, you’re the only one who did try to identify what CAGW is up and about, a try I do welcome and applaud.

    /4.  Quite frankly, I have no idea if there really is a warming, if the warming is really global, if this global warming really has some anthropogenic causes and if this will lead to catastrophe. You can say then that I am an climate agnostic.

    First, because we’re talking about something that is underspecified.  CAGW is relative to so many parameters that it makes no real sense to discuss as such.  For me, that would be like arguing if France is really hexagonal.  It simply makes no sense.  That it makes no sense can be useful, if what we want is a neverending audit.

    Second, because I am no scientist and have never played one on tv.  I know climate scientists and modellers, actually.   But I really am an agnostic regarding the hypothesis.  As a true skeptic should be.  If that’s the best explanation we have, that’s the best explanation we have, however awfully inadequate we try to portray it.

    What these scientists I know are saying makes sense to me.  So when we try to portray what they say as not making sense, my “crit-think” gut feeling tells me that something is wrong at the rhetorical level.  When the communicational problems we’re facing are merely semantical, they’re so blatant as not take the effort to spot and denounce them.

    And here is why all this distraction is happening.

  143. laursaurus says: is a misnomer for this site. The most popular blogs on that site are purely political(ultra Leftwing) or preaching the New Atheism by singling out Christianity with the most hate-filled, bile attacks imaginable. To be fair, many of the other blogs write about primarily science. But the religious and political rants are the most popular.
    As you can see, this blogger has copied a conversation from this blog and inserted his personal critique.
    What’s with these other blogs that they are sponging off the conversation here instead of creating their own content?

  144. laursaurus says:

    Forgot to state this was a link to another “brushback” calling for Keith to admit he was wrong regarding MT. It just posted today, so apparently he didn’t even bother to find out that the hatchet was burried 5 days ago.

  145. SimonH says:

    willard, with reference to Brown’s reported “anti-science” and “flat-earth” comment, this may prove helpful:

  146. GaryM says:

    “I have no idea if there really is a warming, if the warming is really global, if this global warming really has some anthropogenic causes and if this will lead to catastrophe.”
    “What these scientists I know are saying makes sense to me. So when we try to portray what they say as not making sense, my “crit-think” gut feeling tells me that something is wrong at the rhetorical level.”  (who exactly is we?)
    In other words, don’t label me, but I support the consensus?  What a courageous position.

  147. GaryM says:

    And “climate agnostic?”  You don’t know whether there is climate or not?

  148. willard says:

    > And “climate agnostic?”  You don’t know whether there is climate or not?
    Does that mean that a “climate skeptic” doubts there is a climate?

  149. willard says:

    > [D]on’t label me, but I support the consensus?  What a courageous position.
    Label me all you want, use all the ad hominems you want.  Maybe that’s all you have left?
    What does supporting the consensus mean, exactly?
    Even friends can point out when one is making a fool of oneself.

  150. willard says:

    With reference with emeritus professor Philip Stott’s condemnation of Brown, here is an interesting quote:
    > “˜Global warming’ has become the grand political narrative of the age, replacing Marxism as a dominant force for controlling liberty and human choices. In this blog, I hope to be able to deconstruct  the “˜myth’ in order to reveal its more dangerous and humorous foibles and follies. I shall focus as much on the politics as on the science.”
    On the same page, a bit lower, we could learn that Philip were speaking at the Tory Party Conference on October 2, 2007.   Too bad we cannot hear it still.  We might have to console ourselves by listening to his series of podcast, “with all the global warming news they don’t want you to hear”:

    His idea of **A Parliament of Thing**, based on Bruno Latour’s work, merits due dilligence:

    Blending conservatism and social constructivist provides an interesting gambit.

  151. GaryM says:

    I found this use of the term “climate agnostic,” which is simply incoherent.
    “People who say human-induced climate change is a fact that demands urgent action are described as ‘believers’ or ‘climate evangelists,’ while those who reject the concept are ‘deniers,’ ‘skeptics’ or ‘atheists.’ Those in the middle who say they are unconvinced either way are ‘agnostics.'”  (This seems to be the common usage.)
    How can you be unconvinced “either way” when one of the two “extremes” is defined by being unconvinced by the “consensus science”?  Skeptics are skeptics because they are unconvinced by various of the consensus data, models and arguments.
    So a climate agnostic is one who is unconvinced by the scientists making the arguments, and also unconvinced by those who are unconvinced by those arguments?  Huh?  Some terms sound really great, until we actually look at what they are supposed to mean.

  152. Barry Woods says:


    sorry for the confuson…

    I did say ‘moncton is a journo’…..

    (he is NOT a journo)
    I had intended to write, BOOKER is a journo, followed by monckton, is just monckton..

    As I was replying, to someone who had said Booker and monckton were abusive…. I hope you can see, I typed monckon twice by mistake, instead of Booker and then Monckton..

    Sorry for that, would we agree that Booker is not abusive, I don’t much like Moncton either,… as the other side has Gore, lets call it  a draw, and ignore both of these idiots, and remove them from the field of play…

  153. Keith Kloor says:

    Barry, glad you cleared that up, cause I sure was confused. But how about we refrain from calling anyone idiots. And while I know Gore is a lightening rod for clmate skeptics, in the same that Monckton is for the other side, there is just no putting them on the same field of play. That’s insulting to Gore (who also does not run around threatening to sue his critics). Monckton is no idiot; but his antics make him look ridiculous. Monbiot had a good takedown of him recently, if I recall. (Any word that Monckton plans to sue him?)

  154. willard says:

    I agree with you: some terms sound really great, until we actually look at what they are supposed to mean.  My analysis of “skeptic”, a bit earlier, leads me to conclude that “skeptic” is at best a misnomer.  As I said also earlier, this won’t stop anyone from using “skeptic”.  This word is part of the vernacular and it gets a meaning of its own in climate discussions.  Let’s not bother that it makes no sense.
    Your interpretation of agnostism seems to imply that being agnostic regarding the existence of God is incoherent.  I believe it’s possible to be an agnostic regarding questions related to the existence of God.  So I remain skeptical regarding your interpretation of agnosticism.
    Here is the basic idea.  Let’s take a proposition P.  This proposition can be anything, from “God exists” to “AGW” or “CAGW”.  Believing that P makes you a proponent; disbelieving that P makes you an opponent; neither believing nor disbelieving that P excludes you from the game.  In the God debate, a proponent is a theist; the opponent is an atheist and the non-player is the agnostic.
    If you don’t like formal stuff,  an agnostic simple “has no dog in the fight”.  I don’t believe that skeptics usually have no dogs in the fight.  Their skepticism leads them to doubt, not to refrain from judgement.  Skepticism presumes that, by default, people should disbelieve.  “Skeptics” also presume that scientific theories should work the same way.  I don’t know any epistemology where this idea of “skeptics” makes sense.
    Whatever I or any scientist believe, AGW is the hypothesis to beat.  If you think you can beat it, Science of Doom needs you:

    The fact that you inquire about my own beliefs makes the debate a personal matter.  This turns the debate like the religious one.  Here are an interesting quote from the article you cited:
    > Negative images just don’t work. You can’t keep telling people they are guilty. They stop listening, and that means nothing gets done. […] The church should know. We have been there. We have been utopian and then apocalyptic. We know that the way forward is calm and gentle argument and persuasion. I think you will see within the next two to three years that this violent environmental language will fade away and be replaced by something much more measured and moderate.
    I believe we both could agree with this quote.
    Finally, I will add this precision.  You can call me agnostic all you want.  My person is of no importance regarding this debate: I won’t call myself an agnostic, as I don’t see any point to dub myself much.  That might be the first and the last time I do that.  But feel free to use any epithet you like.  Go ahead, have a ball.
    You frame the AGW debate as if it was a about what I believe or not.  I believe this is untrue, and wrong.  It is untrue, as it miscontrues how scientific hypothesis work.  It is wrong, because questioning personal beliefs at best changes the subject and at worse leads to mccarthysm.
    All this started with the question of identifying the scope of our epithets.  You now seem to agree with my argument: some terms sound really great, until we actually look at what they are supposed to mean.   I now agree with you: we have a better idea now of the “C” is in “CAGW”.   We disagree about one thing: you think this last epithet look good, I think not.  I guess we have to leave it at that.

  155. Marlowe Johnson says:

    To be clear if I were king I would:
    1. implement a carbon tax or a cap.  the tax/cap would have two core features; start small but with long-term schedule attached that would gradually raise prices (so investors have some certainty about future prices).
    2. Engage likeminded nations at WTO to try and address leakage issues (border-tax adjustments being a last resort)
    3. Massively increase public R&D into clean energy technologies.
    4.  Massively increase development aid with a special focus on climate related opportunities  (e.g. clean cooking stoves to reduce black carbon, biochar, bio-gas systems, etc).
    5. Gradually scale back domestic subsidies on fossil fuels.
    6. Reform industrial agricultural policies.
    7. Dismantle the military industrial complex.
    8.  Institute a tobin tax.
    9. Make beer tax deductible.  🙂

  156. SimonH says:

    willard, I propose that an agnostic may be “hard” or “soft” (with, of course, infinite variety between). A “soft” agnostic might be regarded as apathetic to the question while a “hard” agnostic is likely to be insistent that nobody has a horse, or perhaps more likely, that there is no way to determine the existence of a racing event.
    Literally, of course, an agnostic is one who would assert that either “we do not know” or “it cannot be known”. In a religious frame, reasonably, “it cannot be known” fits the agnostic position best. In matters climate-related I think it fair to say that the position is closest to “we do not know”, whether that be because our ability to determine what has gone before in relation to where we are now is deficient or because an agnostic might doubt the veracity of the current record, current measurements, etc.
    The agnostic, IMO, fits best the current climate skeptic position, in opposition to both the gnostic CAGW and the atheistic denial movement.
    In the many comparison tests I can play through my mind, the sceptic position invariably defaults to traditional scientific method versus the CAGW position which defaults to precautionary principles and a postnormal approach to scientific endeavour. Meanwhile, the deniars/atheists are (by a perverse twist of political and socio-ideological logic) happy away with creationism and the the disregard of scientific evidence in any which way, no matter which way it points.
    Repeatedly, Willis Eschenbach, Anthony Watts, Steve McIntyre and even Judith Curry (at this time I would propose these are principally the pointy end of scientific climate scepticism), respond to gnostic assertions of scientific prophesy with calls to do the science better, reduce uncertainties, expose supporting data, put the cart back behind the horse and eradicate postnormalist scientific advocacy. Their assertions frequently boil down to “what you believe is true is irrelevant, show us the evidence.”  It’s pure, agnostic, scientific scepticism.

  157. willard says:

    I like your distinction between hard and soft, the way that agnosticism is construed, and its relationship between scientific skepticism.   If skepticism is a scientific virtue, only the self-righteous calls himself a skeptic.
    For now, I would point out two quibbles.
    The first that springs to mind is that the racing event is science itself.  As I see it, the scientific inquiry works more like a race than like a boxing match.  That AGW is the hypothesis to beat means not only that you are entitled to punch it, but you are forced to come with something as strong or even better.  You just can’t go around without any inference to the best explanation.  If we accept this, that spells doom to the falsificationist framework.  There are of course lots of things we could say about that, but I’ll stop now.
    The second is that my cut would stop at McIntyre and Curry.  Perhaps because I stopped paying attention to the first two.  What seems important to me is that the two names I am outlining represent to me persons that do some stylish work and communicate it in a way that does not outright contradict their objective.  They might be biased, they might have pet peeve, they might be obstinate, yet they relentlessly pursue some objectives that are worthy of attention.
    I am not sure how postnormal science, if that concept makes sense, will be eradicated.  I am afraid it’s here to stay, for better or for worse.  In fact, I am afraid that this was how science proceeded all along, for better or for worse: chances are that postnormal science predated the normal one anyway.
    Science might never be what it should.   That’s why it may very well be a race where the rules get updated while running, ideally without too much impeding the running to the finish line.  Here again, there are many things to say, so we better stop here.

  158. SimonH says:

    willis, I would certainly accept that McIntyre and Curry are, in the scenario I present, definitively the agnostics. The reason I name Watts and Eschenbach is that they are prolific. Eschenbach, I feel, prefaces his agnosticism with a premise of grave cynicism. Not necessarily a negative attribute, in my very personal opinion. If there are “hard” and “soft” agnostics, I think Willis could possibly define the “angry” agnostic. 🙂
    Regarding agnostics and the horse race: In religious matters, “hard” agnostics don’t advance the suggestion that there is no god. They appear to value the question of God’s existence. What they advance is the notion that God’s existence is un-knowable. Translating into the climate change question, the agnostic values scientific endeavour (the question), but propose that the answers (at this time) are unachieved. Common to religious agnostics and climate sceptics, is that continued pursuit of the question is encouraged. But when a CAGW proponent insists that the world is “ending”, the agnostic responds that “we don’t know that” and when a deniar proponent insists that mankind has no impact on the climate, the agnostic similarly replies that “we don’t know that either”.
    I agree that postnormalism may be here to stay. I also agree that a manifestation of what we now refer to as postnormalism pre-dates modern scientific method. But I propose that the advancement of the Scientific Method was an advancement in scientific endeavour, and accordingly that the recent proliferation of postnormalism is, accordingly, a regression in the scientific process.
    My principle concern is that much of the “consensus” supporting assertions on matters of climate science is based on a presumption within the “consensus” that the work performed is strictly pursuant to the scientific method. There appears, among scientists of other disciplines, to be broad ignorance of the prevalence of postnormalism in climate science. Similarly, the decline in credibility of climate scientists among the general public appears – at least to me – to be in roughly direct proportion to the popular discovery of postnormalist influence on climate research. Thus I conclude that there is a broad, popular rejection of the presence and prominence of postnormalism in sciences.

  159. SimonH says:

    willard, not willis. I do apologise!

  160. Judith Curry says:

    Willard and SimonH, just caught up on this discussion of agnosticism, very interesting.  Let me describe a key point of my agnosticism:  i think that natural inherent variability in nature (not to mention the navier stokes equations themselves) results in deep ontic uncertainty that further research simply isn’t going improve our ability to predict any of this.

  161. Barry Woods says:

    I don’t know if any of you outside of the UK will be able to get this BBC program on the internet.  It does sound interesting..

    Unfortuanetly I heard a trailer, saying many are sceptical of climate change.. (used interchangeably  to mean man made climate change) thus, confusing the public, thinking people are sceptical to natural climate change.  Any evidence of an actual AGW element in the weather/climate yet to be shown.

    ie most sceptics point out, PROVE, what is occuring, is anything other than natural variation and/or  long term natural trends.

    In a special Radio 4 series the BBC’s Environmental Analyst Roger Harrabin questions whether his own reporting – and that of others – has adequately told the whole story about global warming.
    Roger Harrabin has reported on the climate for almost thirty years off and on, but last November while working on the “Climategate” emails story, he was prompted to look again at the basics of climate science.
    He finds that the public under-estimate the degree of consensus among scientists that humans have already contributed towards the heating of the climate , and will almost certainly heat the climate more.
    But he also finds that politicians and the media often fail to convey the huge uncertainty over the extent of future climate change. Whilst the great majority of scientists fear that computer models suggest we are facing potentially catastrophic warming, some climate scientists think the warming will be restricted to a tolerable 1C or 1.5C.
    At this crucial moment in global climate policy making, Harrabin talks to seminal characters in the climate change debate including Tony Blair, Lord Lawson, Professor Bob Watson, former diplomat Sir Crispin Tickell and the influential blogger Steve McIntyre.  And he asks how political leaders make decisions on the basis of uncertain science.”

    (post the Guardian Climategate debate, where, the 2 highlighed above attended, it should be interseting)

  162. SimonH says:

    Judith, acceptance of ontological uncertainty would appear to shift my understanding of climate scepticism an inch or two further from “unknowing” towards the classic agnosticism of “un-knowable”. I hadn’t considered uncertainty in climate science to be anything other than notional, temporary and ultimately resolvable.
    Am I misunderstanding you?

  163. SimonH says:

    To clarify, I know that I’ve argued repeatedly that a GCM cannot make accurate long-term predictions because of the dramatic difference in scale of complexity between the climate entity and a model’s understanding of the climate’s entity – complexities that are insurmountably great. I guess I’ve always, mentally, prefaced my “GCMs cannot…” with “as yet..”, though. I have to let the idea of an ontic uncertainty soak in.

  164. SimonH says:

    Gah.. I hate this. It’s Friday night and I’m trying to get ready to hit the road until Sunday. I didn’t  mean to say “complexities that are insurmountably great”, I meant “complexities that have compounding significances over time, resulting in GCM challenges that are insurmountably great”. I promise, I’m falling silent now. I’m out until Sunday. 🙂

  165. Judith Curry says:

    Simon you interpret me correctly.  There is epistemic uncertainty that can be resolved with further research, but there is also ontic uncertainty associated with chaos, etc. that is just there, we can’t do anything about it other than try to bound it in some way.

  166. willard says:

    > [W]hen a CAGW proponent insists that the world is “ending”, the agnostic responds that “we don’t know that” and when a deniar proponent insists that mankind has no impact on the climate, the agnostic similarly replies that “we don’t know that either”. 

    Funny that.  The important word, to try to understand what the CAGW proponent is trying to convey, is the word “is”.  (H/T to Bill Clinton.)  There are lots of modalities that could attenuate the proposition that the world **is** ending.  The CAGW proponent might try to argue that to its end the world could, must, will, should, etc.  Moreover, we might add all the qualifications that might be needed, under what conditions the “consensus position” believe in CAGW, if there exists something like a consensus position regarding CAGW.

    There are many reasons for agnosticism.  For Judith, it has an ontic nature.  For SimonH, it has an epistemic nature.  Agnosticism can also be of pragmatic (practical) nature: one can argue that entertaining an unconditional and absolute belief regarding climate is unnecessary in this debate, among other things to take action.  Agnosticism can also be semantical: one can argue that to believe a proposition that is so general as to mean almost anything is not to believe much.

    The agnosticism I outlined above is mostly of the latter two kinds.  The semantical one could help attenuate the effect of the ontic uncertainty that Judith underlines.  If we could break down what the AGW hypothesis into clearer beliefs, disbeliefs or certainties, it would be more difficult to be a semantical agnostic.  If only we knew specifically what we are talking about when we talk about CAGW!

    Agnosticism does not prevent from endorsing an hypothesis as what it is: an hypothesis.  If that is right, it might be possible to construe the statements of all the scientists, even those from the “consensus position” as agnostic.  If a scientist tells that AGW is the hypothesis that provides the best explanation to date, and that if we are to believe what we know right now, this raises legitimate concerns regarding the stake of the planet, that does not entail that she’s a catastrophist, a sheep, a liberal or a bad scientist.  What these scientists believe as activist is another matter: let’s leave it aside for the moment.

    Agnosticism does not prevent from doing something.  We can act even if we don’t know.  People and nations do that all the time.  To think otherwise presumes a model of decision-making that is so wrong-headed that only classical economists take it seriously… That in the media it looks like people and nations know everything is a part of the reality of public relations more than anything else.

    The climate debate resembles the God debate, if only because for Earth inhabitants, climate is a God-like concept, i.e. all-encompassing, causing almost everything, and very complex yet simple at the same time.  There are differences, but somehow the idea that people’s political and climatologic beliefs are somewhat related tends to show that beliefs are the product of a certain attitudes regarding problem-solving, or at the very least of a certain style in the way the positions get fixated into discourse. 

    Moreover, the historian of philosophy-minded reader could almost reconstruct the opposition between hedonism, stoicism and cynicism.  He could also recall Pascal’s **Provincial letters**.  Sed nove, non nove, as would perhaps conclude the Baron von Monkhofen.

  167. Barry Woods says:

    When the likes of JP Morgan Chase manhatten bank are ‘selling’ Climatecare Carbon Offset certificates… please excue my CAGW cynicism..  They bought ClimateCare in 2008, presumably as a growth profitable place to be…

    I use that as an example, because the MD of climate care, was the person in the Oxford debate with Monckton..

    Mr. Mike Mason, founder and managing director of “Climate Care”, concluded for the opposition. He said that the proposition were peculiar people, and that Lord Monckton was more peculiar than most, in that he was not a real Lord. Lord Monckton, on a point of order, told Mr. Mason that the proposition had avoided personalities and that if Mr. Mason were unable to argue other than ad hominem he should “get out”. [cheers] Mr. Mason then said that we had to prepare for climate risks [yes, in both directions, towards cooler as well as warmer]; and that there was a “scientific consensus” [but he offered no evidence for the existence of any such consensus, still less for the notion that science is done by consensus].

    excuse my CAGW cynicism, and laughter at only fossil fuel companies supposedly have a vested interest.

  168. GaryM says:

    Willard can’t even seem to figure out what the term CAGW might refer to, except “What these scientists I know are saying makes sense to me,”  and “That AGW is the hypothesis to beat means not only that you are entitled to punch it, but you are forced to come with something as strong or even better.”
    But when if comes to the evil horrible skeptics:  “Skepticism presumes that, by default, people should disbelieve.  ‘Skeptics’ also presume that scientific theories should work the same way. I don’t know any epistemology where this idea of “skeptics” makes sense.
    Whatever I or any scientist believe, AGW is the hypothesis to beat. ”
    “If skepticism is a scientific virtue, only the self-righteous calls himself a skeptic.”
    Yeah, he’s an agnostic alright.  This isn’t semantics, it’s… well, I will stop there.

  169. “The climate debate resembles the God debate, if only because for Earth inhabitants, climate is a God-like concept, i.e. all-encompassing, causing almost everything, and very complex yet simple at the same time.”
    Willard, thanks for understanding.
    What the skeptics say, in continuity from where you leave off is: Modern alarmist climate science a la IPCC is a “product of a certain attitude” of problem solving as much as the the science itself represented within.

  170. willard says:

    Too bad you’re stopping where you were heading.  Whatever you and I think, AGW is the hypothesis to beat.  I am simply stating a fact.  Do you have a better hypothesis?  If so, Science of Doom needs you.
    Meanwhile, you’re simply appealing to spite.
    Thanks for the compliment.  That alarmism is a product of an attitude is quite obvious.  Not only that, but it also targets an attitude.   There are lots of things one can say about attitude.  The problem with criticizing an attitude is that it psychologizes the debate.
    Every discourse is the product of an attitude.  So this applies to what “skeptics” say too.  It would be tough to wonder if the two attitudes are very different, but this would be psychologizing the debate.
    There are other things that could be said about the God framework.  For instance, I would advise to read a bit on theology before letting go of the usual prejudices outbursts.  But I need to get going.

  171. GaryM says:

    I wasn’t “heading” anywhere.  And the CAGW crowd have been doing a fine job of beating themselves.  My “hypothesis” is nothing of the kind.  It is a simple fact that those arguing for massive changes in the economy, zero carbon, cap and trade, etc., have failed in convincing voters to give them what they want.  Including me.
    Enjoy your night.

  172. “That alarmism is a product of an attitude is quite obvious. The problem with criticizing an attitude is that it psychologizes the debate.”

    What about criticizing a certain psychology that brings the said attitude into the debate? If any camp has carried psychologizing its supposed opponents to the extreme – it is the CAGW camp. In reality, these things are unavoidable and inseparable.
    If CAGW proponents give up their alarmism, we could all get down to really figure out what this CO2 business really is. Otherwise the alarmists are going to be talking with each other, that is all.
    The first move is due, from the alarmists. They have the novel ideas – they need to sell – this much is accepted by everyone too. AGW is the hypothesis to beat – AGW is the hypothesis to sell too. AGW proponents cannot climb on their moral high horses and complain that no one listens – at the same time.
    As skeptics, we are certainly happy with the ‘no hypothesis situation’ anyway.
    “read a bit on theology etc etc”
    What did you try to convey? (I am trying to find out before doing a ‘prejudiced outburst’)

  173. GaryM says:

    This is off topic, probably belongs on the lead wheel weights thread, but I still find it hilarious.
    Under the headline
    “EPA rejects attempt to regulate lead in bullets after NRA threats”
    We get this:
    “EPA was not and is not considering taking action on whether the lead content in hunting ammunition poses an undue threat to wildlife….”
    Wouldn’t that depend on the accuracy of the hunter?

  174. willard says:

    You said:
    > This isn’t semantics, it’s”¦ well, I will stop there.
    Now you say that:
    > I wasn’t “heading” anywhere.
    Good night to you too.

  175. willard says:

    I’ll try to keep it short for tonight, it’s late:

    /1.  I’m not sure the attitude between the “skeptics” and “CAGW camp” is that different.   There may be differences, but I would certainly bet there are similarities.  The main difference is about roles: one is consensual, the other is contrarian.  That shows very well in the ways each communicate.  There is no need for psychology to see that.  In fact, I wonder what is there to gain from psychology exactly, except that it’s the best way to lose one of the condition to have a rational debate.  Arguments from  psychologizing are seldom valid.

    /2.  If CAGW proponents give up their alarmism, we would have no reason to have this “C” upfront the scientific hypothesis to beat.  So in a way I agree with you on that point.  But saying that we should give up alarmism is easier than done.   Alarmism and denial both escalate hand in hand, in a way that reminds an arms race.  And we should not forget that both tactics is actually used by the proponents of every positions.  See #173 above for an example of a skeptic armwaving economic alarmism.

    /3.  That the “skeptics” can claim their happiness about entertaining no hypothesis whatsoever shows that this is not a scientific position.  Climate theory is there to explain climate.  If a “skeptic” don’t even try to explain climate, this “skeptic” certainly does not doing any kind of science, as far as I can tell.  Maybe it’s a new science: between the applied and pure science, the “auditing” sciences?

    /4.  My advice about reading a bit about theology was simply an advice.  That we’re talking about God does not entail that the specialists in this field do not know how to debate.  On the contrary, I would say, considering their subject matter.  For what is worth, I might venture that a Jesuit might have many face palm moments, reading these threads.  Discussions about God can lead to very formal arguments.  Conversely, one can see many formal arguments using the existential proof as an example, for instance in knowledde theory and in epistemic logic.
    /5.  All being said for tonight, I will agree with you and GaryM.  “CAGW” proponents need to perfect their “selling” technique, at least for their own good.  However, it does not garantee that it will certainly convince anyone, as AGW is a matter of “connecting dots”, not “seeing”, as described earlier.  There might very well be an infinite path of resistance before convincing everyone of  connecting the dots.
    See for instance Barry Woods’ comment presuming there should be a PROOF.  Since it’s not logic, we might have to way a while before seeing a PROOF.
    Not that it matters much, really, as all it takes is a tipping point…

  176. Barry Woods says:

    Where I’m looking for proof, it is asking for evidence to back up alarmism, like 20 foot sea level rises, or artic ice death spirals… All I see is evidence of natural variation in the earth climate..  Hope that clarifies my call for ‘proof’

  177. Barry Woods says:

    Tipping point is of course just a ‘convenient’ theory.. 
    Any evidence?

    Or just an excuse, that because we are not observing the predicted ‘extreme’ effects yet, the ‘alarmists’ have to come up with some explantion it is because it is building, up to a tipping point… and it will suddenly change..

    Whilst 20 years ago, Hansen predictions have been shown to be all over the place,as have the rolling predictions of the various GCM’s

    Polar bears have been a poster child for a while, but the fact that they are in rude health is a bit of a problem..

    There was a while ago, a computer model, predicting polar bear populations, which conveniently said whilst  polar  bear populations may continue to increase (ie what has been observed) at some point the populations will hit a ‘tipping point’ .  Many pointed out that polar bears quite happily adapt, so any assumptions of behaviour, programmed in may produce the tipping point, whilst the polar bear like other bears will just change their behviour (AGW or not)..

    As there is plenty of evidence of polar bear adpation as a species whilst during much warmer periods.. 

    But, of course much like the weather (hot, AGW, now cold AGW… What is normal any more)

    BBC: Polar bears face ‘tipping point’ due to climate change

  178. SimonH says:

    willard, I feel that climate alarmism is, today, perceived very differently by sceptics AND the general public from how those proponents of the alarmism perceive it. Particularly in the wake of recent events, namely the Pakistan floods, South American chill and Russian heatwave, the enthusiasm with which these events have been embraced by some alarmist quarters as markers of impending doom is of concern to sceptics. But it’s important to note that it is the gusto of the alarmist message, not the message itself, which is raising eyebrows.
    I really feel that climate alarmists have drastically worn their platform down by their own hand. It is difficult, now, to regard climate alarmism – by whichever name it prefers to pass – as anything more than raw climatic hypochondria.
    You need to appreciate the extent of weariness with which new pronouncements of imminent “death”, on the basis of a hiccup or a sneeze, are received when the news giver has allowed himself – by a concerted campaign of his own making – to become regarded as a hypochondriac. And between the media and the climate scientist, working on concert, this is increasingly the popular perception. Copenhagen was over-sold. It was, for so many advocacy scientists, regarded as “make or beak” – many of them referred to it as as much at the time, in fact – and so it has come to pass.

  179. willard says:


    Sorry for the delay.  I agree with an important thing you say:

    > But it’s important to note that it is the gusto of the alarmist message, not the message itself, which is raising eyebrows.

    I welcome the distinction between the tone or the gusto of the message and its content.  Framing the debate (C) is important and distinct from the topic that is being discussed (AGW).

    Related to this subject, there is also a study by Maibach & al which argues that

    > Americans who tend to discount climate change or are ambivalent about its relevance react favorably when the issue is re-framed in the context of public health.

    For public engagement, the perspective of the health experts are most probably under-communicated and offer quite obvious benefits.  Framing the AGW debate as a public health issue can only be beneficial.

    You might agree with me that if the attention were to shift from the issues themselves, the AGW which might very well be a public health issue, to the discursive gusto it is being portrayed in media outlets of the , with words like “alarmist quarters”, “enthusiastically embraced doom”, “imminent death” and “raw climatic hypochondria”, the perception of AGW by the public opinion might change radically.

    We could argue that trying to undermine the message by shooting at its alarmist gusto would be very dubious and a bit dishonest.  So let’s assume for argument’s sake that this might not what is being done.  Let’s assume instead that this is a part of a constructive criticism, aimed at improving the communication of AGW.

    Nevertheless, framing the debate is not everything.  For instance, the science journalist Jay Ingram made the effort to show the obvious, i.e. that the confirmation bias is very strong among people in their choice of sources:

    AGW proponents believe studies pro AGW; skeptics believe skeptical studies.  For the general public, we might believe that it’s the same.

    There is no such thing as an objective source of information.  People get their information that appeals to them, even if it provokes fear.  In fact, one might argue that MSM’s main role is to maintain a constant feeling of fear, to gain attention and to entertain consumerism.  But let’s not digress.

    Since we’re talking about constructive criticism, here is one for skeptics.  Insisting on the C might also wear the skeptics’ platform, at least as far as the public perceives it.  It is important to acknoledge the possibility that the perception of the skeptics might very well be different from the perception of the general public.  Showing outrage and spite regarding catastrophism can possibly be PR strategy that is self-undoing .

    Alarmism cuts both ways.  Alarmism is everywhere.  Let’s wonder why there is so much alarmism in the media.

  180. SimonH says:

    willard, nice way of framing it, but I’m pretty sure that neither you nor I think sceptics are at all interested in helping sell AGW. Sceptics, as the general populous, are on the receiving end of the sales pitch from climate scientists and journalists. There’s an established pattern from climate science of actively attempting to prevent sceptical views from getting on the inside track, from RC, journals, all the way to the IPCC.
    Time and again I hear sceptics groan when climate science reviews conclude that what is needed is better PR. Hard-selling climate catastrophe won’t work. If the lead up to Copenhagen taught anybody anything, surely it must be this? Climate science has had MSM’s ear for a long time. For many this was a relationship made in heaven.. the scientists got their alarming advocacy message to a wide audience and the MSM got its attention-grabbing headlines handed to them without having to work. Free money.
    Do you remember how EMI, Sony, HMV and the other music industry heads enjoyed years and years of screwing people out of money? They charged £8, then £10, then £15 for a CD.. a CD which everyone knew cost less than vinyl to produce and distribute, and which in the main was even free of production-cost, as people upgraded their vinyl collections to digital media, re-purchasing the same music in a new format. Do you remember how the people cursed, but bought in anyway? And how the music industry laughed, as it raked in the money.. knowing that the only way to access the format was to pour money into their coffers.
    They didn’t see the internet coming. They didn’t see the compressed MP3 format coming, either, with its near-CD quality sound and its ease of distribution. Sure, music theft was a crime, but who cared? They’d been cheated out of money for years and they knew it. The music industry could swing. And, by and large, that’s just what it’s done.
    The Blogosphere is, to MSM, what  the illegal MP3 download was to the music industry. Climategate didn’t happen in MSM, it happened in the blogosphere. MSM tried to dismiss it for quite some time, but it didn’t stem the flow. MSM found it no longer held the gatekeeper’s key. This was a revelation to MSM – an information revolution, right under their noses, and they never saw it coming.
    What the sceptic blogosphere has, and which MSM and climate science has lost, is the trust of the people. Half of the noise in the reaction to Climategate in the first few weeks after the story broke in the blogosphere was about the relative silence of MSM. That silence howled. Meanwhile, if you wanted to know what had happened, if you wanted to know who had done and said what, you had to hit the sceptical blogosphere. And as time passed, and as Copenhagen loomed, and as MSM sang ever louder from the AGW hymn sheet, trust shifted.
    And today MSM still sings from that hymn sheet, even though hardly anyone believes in that god any more. But the blogosphere still disseminates the hymns and decimates the alarmist stories.. and it will continue to do so while ever MSM promotes them.
    If EMI, Sony et al had never over-charged their captive audience for their CDs, there is a school of thought that illegal MP3 downloading would never have taken off like it did. If the climate scientists had not abused their MSM ear, and if the MSM had not run with the scare-story headlines, Climategate might never have had the impact that it did. People always react negatively to a hard sell, and once you’ve lost trust it’s nigh impossible to win it back.

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