New Approaches to Climate Change

Too often the ugly, conflict-ridden side of the climate debate is what dominates the blogosphere and news coverage. To a great extent, that’s an expression of human predilection, which the media mirrors. So it’s refreshing when I can hang out with a group of super-smart people who are at the forefront of new approaches to climate and sustainability issues. This week, I’ve been attending the annual Climate, Mind, and Behavior (CMB) symposium in Garrison, New York. I’m particularly interested in the social science work being done on the climate front, and that’s a lot of what the CMB project is about. I was at last year’s conference, which I wrote about here. For a taste of this year’s event, check out my post at the Yale Forum on Climate Change & the Media. I’ll have a more in-depth follow up early next week.

31 Responses to “New Approaches to Climate Change”

  1. Jarmo says:

    Additionally, for most of us, more pressing concerns grab our attention, like car payments, school loans, an ailing child, and health insurance. Those crowd-out space for future threats. Cognitive scientists have referred here to the “finite pool of worry.” In other words, our brains can handle only so many problems at a time.

    Zolpidem Buy Online Australia  Now why should I be more concerned with my children’s health rather than global warming? My priorities are all screwed up…

  2. hunter says: Yet history also shows that the human brain loves to confabulate local problems and challenges into global or even cosmic apocalypses. The Noah flood myths come to mind. The other thing the human brain is hard wired to deal with that often backfires is pattern impostion on non-patterned events. Think of deciding a drought is due to some trivial action or chant. And another hard wired brain funciton is to link cause and effect, even when there is none. Since the future crisis the ‘climate concerned’ are obsessed with falls much more into the realm of magical thinking/pattern imposition, I would suggest a more useful conference would seek to critique the assumptions of the climate concerned, rather than to once again seek to pathologize skeptics.

  3. kdk33 says: Yes, therre is an academic cottage industry in acquiring government funds to study the publics failure to accept more government.  Motivated, of course, by government funded academic studies in the first place. On the one hand: it’s discouraging. On the other hand: good for the public.

  4. Anteros says:

    hunter –
    Well said.
    My first observation of the constituents of the conference was that they all appeared to be believers. So, even having the word ‘science’ lurking somewhere in the vicinity seems rather anachronistic. The presence of ‘cognitive researchers’ also seems incongruous if there isn’t the faintest interest in asking why people have the fearful beliefs that they evidently do.
    It is as if specialists are devoting their lives to finding out why people aren’t making more sacrifices to Thor, instead of asking why they themselves are so fearful of Thor’s wrath.
    Again, the the word ‘science’ in this context is an anachronism.
    I suppose if their pre-suppositions are so strong that there can be a defined aim of –
     “[discussing] ways of effecting wholesale changes in people’s energy consumption to rein in greenhouse gas emissions and help stave off climate change.”
     – then open-mindedness isn’t exactly on the agenda.
    I just love this mission to “stave off climate change”. I suppose like with a lot of things, these people genuinely believe that is what they’re involved in – staving off climate change!

  5. Tom Scharf says: Try to get the conservative view of the social sciences perspective, that is if you can find any conservative social scientists.  ha ha. Seriously, ask your contacts there why there is near zero support for the values of what “the other half of the country” believes.  Do they believe they might lean toward the liberal viewpoint?  Credibility of these studies is hard to swallow when group think is such a possibility. And from my perspective, more studies on what causes conservative brain damage is a waste of taxpayer money.  I think we have had our fill of studies that begin with the assumption that the skeptics viewpoint is invalid and the reason for this invalid thinking must be studied.

    Can You Buy Zolpidem In Mexico I would be curious to see what the social scientists actually believe the skeptics viewpoint is. Do they believe most skeptics: Believe the world has warmed since 1850?
    That CO2 is a greenhouse gas?
    That humans are partially responsible for global warming?
    And ask them some harder questions: Do they believe that human emissions have been proven to be primarily responsible for post 1980 warming?

    Buy Zolpidem Sleeping Tablets Uk Have the climate models performance to date been better than expected?  What does this say about their long term reliability? Do they believe recent extreme weather events has been successfully shown to be attributed to climate change?  What data do  they point to to support this thesis?

    Have scientists been successful in separating the natural and human caused components of climate change? CAGW is based on a theory of positive feedback from CO2 based warming (climate sensitivity), with increasing CO2 levels, it has been expected that both temperature and sea levels would begin to rise in an accelerating manner if CO2 emissions continue to grow.  Do they believe the measured data since 1980 has shown this trend?  If not, why? This last question is a bit technical, but to me is a huge issue that is always hand waved away.  The measured data simply does not support the thesis, the trends are dropping, not rising (I’m talking the derivative of the trend here, the rate of increase).  

    I think it would be interesting to get responses on why this data is brushed under the table.  Willfully ignoring the evidence is a charge thrown against skeptics constantly, but in this case with arguably the most important measurement of all, there is silence.  Seems someone would be talking about it in a serious manner.

    Ambien Mexico Online I know we all know the score here, but a really interesting topic for social science would be how the consensus view and all the political baggage that goes with it is holding back the science.  Phil Jones was quoted as saying he would be castigated (or something to that effect) if he admitted that temperatures were not rising as expected.

    Ambien Sale Online This is irrational from a pure science perspective, the data is the data.  

    I’m guessing you won’t get much traction on this subject though, because the makeup of the investigators simply can’t accept this world view as even possibly valid.  

  6. Tom Scharf says: “…cognitive researchers, policy wonks, communication experts, climate activists, and environmental writers…”

    Here’s an idea.  Invite the people you are trying so very hard to understand to the conference.  

    Cheapest Ambien Generic There is an enormous amount of lip service paid to understanding the alternate viewpoint, but what it seems to be really all about is planning a way to psycholgical manipulate people to your own worldview for political purposes.  Hence the lack of success.

  7. BBD says:

    I hesitate to sound a contrarian note here, but this conference sounds interesting. We should be talking about cities as laboratories for energy efficiency (think about it: ‘energy efficient cities’ is very twenty-first century in a way we can all aspire to, surely?). 
    We should also be fully supportive of anyone attempting to:
    infuse a wave of fresh ideas and optimism into a normally stale and unproductive conversation.


  8. jeffn says: “…the larger goal of the annual CMB gatherings ‘is to discuss ways of effecting wholesale changes in people’s energy consumption to rein in greenhouse gas emissions and help stave off climate change.’ ”
    Social scientists cannot give any insight into why we are unable to  take “action” without defining “action.”
    Is Joshua’s hesitancy about nuclear power really due to his inability to set priorities for long-term threats? Or does he just have questions about nuclear power?
    For me- I’ve been watching this debate for a long time and the phrases “discuss ways…”  to “…effecting wholesale changes in… energy consumption” and “help stave off” are so vague they are nothing t it has no meaning at all other than to allow partisans to be partisans. Dave Roberts at Grist opposes anything other forced recession – something that won’t happen. Marlowe opposes nukes. BBD opposes attempting to affect a “wholesale change” with windmills and solar panels. I oppose slapping massive taxes on energy and expecting it to accomplish anything. 
    Each of us has an “action” we’d support, and several we’d oppose. Amazingly, thanks to the social scientists, we can all declare that everyone but pur own tribe “opposes action” and has a cognitive problem we need to address.
    How helpful.

  9. Fred says: One social psychological study worth doing in the “climate change” area is to follow warmist’s thought and behavioral patterns as it sinks into them that the AGW theory is mistaken. How they resolve the emerging dissonance between their beliefs and the truth on this topic is a fruitful area for research. Personality characteristics and situational predictors of continued adherence to the theory in the face of the mounting voluminous evidence against it would be interesting. How warmists rationalize public policies that harm their fellow countrymen for no countervailing benefits (i.e. restrictions on energy development lowering the standard of living, resources wasted on solar and wind energy projects, money squandered on “research”, etc.) would also be nice to learn about.

  10. Fred says: A social psychological study of why the American media is largely ignoring the devastating cold and snow in Europe and North Africa would be a fruitful study. Many humans and countless animals have perished. Might it be because of the cognitive dissonance it creates for those who believe in AGW? For some amazing pictures see:

  11. Joshua says:

    Cheap Ambien With Prescription – 8 – jeffn
    Nice post.
    But what is the best road to resolution without discussion to fill in the details for all involved? I think it is through discussion in the format of stakeholder dialog.
    The problem is that people are so invested in not discussing anything except with people that are in agreement. And for that, there are larger epistemological and psychological variables that make cross-group discussions difficult.
    I think one way out of the mess is a structured stakeholder discussion through a formal process that includes extensive resources devoted to education. I’ve seen that can work in urban planning, but the advantage there is a more localized focus and a (somewhat) clearer identification of vested interests.

  12. Vinny Burgoo says: Keith, which absent constituencies did George Marshall have in mind? From his past statements, I’d guess trade unions, human rights organizations (bizarrely) and (even more bizarrely) immigrants but he tailors his professed beliefs to fit his audience and it would be interesting to hear what he thought CMB wanted to hear.

  13. hunter says:

    “stave off climate change” sort of makes the entire enterprise a useless effort since climate is always changing.
    As to not discussing anything except with those whom they agree, this seems to be counterfactual since this blog and many others permits pretty much a free-for-all discussion of the issue.
     Now big media, with the exception of some of the blogs associated with them is a different matter entirely. But this conference that is the basis of this thread is not really any different from big media in that it is a group only, Joshua points out effectively, talking with those in agreement with themselves.  

  14. EdG says: Holy Non Sequitor Batman!

    Ambien Online Europe From your post Keith:

    “So it’s refreshing when I can hang out with a group of super-smart people who are at the forefront of new approaches to climate and sustainability issues.” From your Yale post:

    “A growing number of scholars has been arguing that the greatest impediment to action on climate change is not Big Oil, the Tea Party, libertarian/conservative think tanks, or climate skeptics. Rather, they say, it is the human brain.”

    No evidence of “super-smart” thinking at the “forefront” there.

    Ambien Cheapest Online More like back in the USSR.

    The “smart” thinking recognizes that the problem is the lack of evidence for the ’cause.’ All the rest is Lysenkoist spin.

  15. BBD says:

    Vinny Burgoo @ 12

    Keith, which absent constituencies did George Marshall have in mind?

    Where To Buy Zolpidem Tartrate Online A reasonable question for GM, at least. It seems as though everyone and his dog has had a say over the last fifteen years. I’m fairly sure I recall something or other from human rights organisations, but the trade unions are a notoriously self-serving bunch.

  16. jeffn says: 11 Joshua
    One point of serious disagreement between you and I is that I acknowledge that there has been a very serious- expensive even – dialogue of all stakeholders over the past 20 years. We need to learn from it, rather than deny it.
    What do I mean? Global warming got more – and more sychophantic – coverage than any other environmental issue in world history in the the early 2000s. That directly lead Europe into a naive but useful experiment in showing the power of renewables, taxes and “mandates” to solve global warming. We know how that turned out – which is why nobody, even Obama, is willing to pretend otherwise. It’s done, game over. The world is not going to pass a law prohibiting positive GNP or ordering crap. Not gonna happen. Finito, train left the station, you pick the metaphor.
    Which leaves us with the question of whether you think this is a serious enough issue to admit that 40 years of green/ liberal demagoging of nuclear power was… Say it… Wrong.
    Or go home and find another Malthusian vehicle. Your choice.

  17. jorge c. says:

    Buy Ambien Online Visa Mr.Kloor: Instead of “So it’s refreshing when I can hang out with a group of super-smart people who(…)”  I’d prefer to hang out with a group of  super-smart engineers showing new energy technologies/solutions…” 

  18. Joshua says: jeffn –
    What has taken place is not what I’m calling serious stakeholder dialog.
    For one thing, serious stakeholder dialog requires, well…. dialog.

  19. Joshua says:

    among stakeholders.

  20. harrywr2 says: jeffn Says: 

    Ambien 12.5 Mg Online Marlowe opposes nukes.
    I personally would place Marlowe in the “Undecided Column”, along with Joshua.
    Marlowe live in BC I think, they get 90% or so of their power from hydro so they aren’t looking to build any significant baseload for a while anyway.
    The nuke industry doesn’t do ‘public outreach’ and education in places where there is no realistic market for a 2,000MW baseload nuclear plant. At least they won’t until SMR’s are a lot closer to market. Sending speakers to various civic events with charts and graphs cost money.
    Personally I’m pro-nuke but I don’t see the orders beginning to flow until about 2014 in the US. Most news outlets and talking heads are working with the esimtated $14 billion for Voglte twin.
    The budget for SCANA’s 55% share of the VC Summer twin AP1000 is $5.6 billion.  So about $10 billion for the pair.
    Latest ‘actual’ financials for VC Summer here –
    At $10 billion for a twin AP1000 …nukes will be at price parity with wind without the ‘intermittancy’ and ‘transmission costs’.

  21. Jack Hughes says: Keith is this another parody?

  22. Fred says:

    Another point of contact of AGW with social science thinking is the study of mass hysteria. A classic on mass hysteria is Charles Mackay’s Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.
    An interesting recent piece describes AGW as an example of the phenomena Mackay wrote about. AGW is caleed “the most widespread mass hysteria in our species history.” Further on “Future generations will wonder how so many people could have believed something so suicidally ridiculous.” See:

    Yes, Keith, AGW certainly is a fruitful area for social science research. Mass hysteria, cognitive dissonance as the evidence piles up that the theory is mistaken, willingness to inflict painful conditions on others at the behest of authority figures (cf Zimbardo’s Stanford prison study and the Milgrim experiment) and more are all out there to be explored.

  23. hunter says:

    @ Fred 23,
    This article says better than me what I have been saying for years.
    Thanks for the link.

  24. Fred says:

    @ hunter 24,
    Thanks, and I have much enjoyed reading your thoughtful postings on this site.

  25. Keith Kloor says:

    This is a must-read dispatch from Dan Kahan. Dan’s presentation is one I’m going to cover in my follow-up post. I also had the pleasure of talking extensively with Dan at the conference. His work is essential for anyone who wants greater insight into the climate wars.

    Additionally, as should be clear from his blog post, Dan is a straight shooter.

  26. EdG says:

    Read your ‘must read’ link. Interesting.

    At first I gagged when I read this:

    “Marshall outlined a research protocol that is, in my view, just what’s needed because it focuses on fine grained matching of cultural meanings to the diverse information-processing dispositions that exist in the public. It uses empirical measurement at every stage — from development of materials, to lab testing, to follow-up work in field in collaboration with professional communicators.
    This is exactly the systematic approach that tends to be missing from climate change science communication…”

    That was what I expected from a meeting iof propagandists who seem to be in total denial about the real problems – which is that what is actually missing is evidence that their exaggerated concerns are real, compounded by the crumbling credibility of their project. 

    Then I got to the ‘straight shooter’ part:

    “I was also genuinely shocked & saddened by what struck (assaulted) me as the anti-science ethos shared by a large number of participants.”

    Indeed. Equally true for the anti-science ethos of the whole AGW project, as exemplified by the efforts to suppress debate, censor publication, and label skeptics as ‘deniers.’ It also reveals the ideologues who are just using a facade of ‘science’ are trying to sell their wares.

    So why does anyone still call these people ‘climate science communicators’?

    I think that ultra-mushy term the ‘climate concerned community’ describes them better. It has nothing to do with real science.

    I would expect that Dan will get some rather angry responses.

  27. Barry Woods says:

    Dan’s favourite was George Marshall..

    George who endorses ‘denier’ Halls of Shame for sceptics..

    Well that gives me some idea of Dan’s judgement on these matters…   

    Mark Lynas was until last week, listed as part of the above Advisory group.
    He said to me at Climate Etc when I asked him about it that Halls of Shame were, ‘shameful’ a while ago

    and he has resigned from the CaCC.. So isDan a straight shooter, maybe, but an unthinking one, perhaps..   As George Marshall has done a great del in the politicastion of the issue and turning ‘sceptics’ into deniers.

  28. Barry Woods says:

    Another George Marshall Hall of Shame… (Rising Tide)

    usual people Stott, Lomborg, Lindzen, Michaels, etc
    George Marshall IS the problem in the debate about climate communication, because he shows his intolerance, with his sort of ‘climate communication..  

  29. Fred says:

    From Kahan’s dispatch from the Garrison Institute conference Keith has linked to:
    “Multiple speakers disparaged science for being “materialistic” and for trying to “put a number on everything.” One, to approving nods of audience, reported that university science curricula had lost the power to inspire “wonder” in students because it was disconnected from “spiritual” (religious, essentially) sensibilities.”
    The intellectual level of many (the preponderance?) on the warmist side is even lower than I imagined. It is disgusting that such flakes have been given the power to shape public policy that is contributing to the economic decline of our country.
    Kahan does link to an article on the cognitively illiberal state which may have some interesting ideas in it.

  30. hunter says:

    What is at all new about this group or this meeting? Same ideas- AGW consensus is *the* truth, skeptics congenitally incapable of perceiving AGW enlightenment, how do we enlightened ones make those brutal philistines see that we are right?

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