A walk on the supply side

 “…we tend to assume that the public are confused because they have a deficit of scientific knowledge, education and cognitive skills. That is to say that they’re scientifically illiterate.”

In these words science historian Naomi Oreskes, speaking with others at a symposium at the recent American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting, depicts the reaction of most scientists to the puzzling gap between scientific knowledge and public perception of climate change. I might add that although I’m no scientist I share the assumption she describes, since it was reading climate science (at the lay level) which made me aware of  the reality of the crisis.

 

She goes on to critique the response of the scientific community:

“So if the problem is a deficit, then the remedy for it is a surfeit. So it seems to me that the scientific community has succumbed to or fallen into or pursued what I would call a supply side response… we try to supply good information with public outreach efforts…And there are many examples of this, but since we’re here at AAAS, one of my favourites is our AAAS Press Room… If you actually read this web page you find it’s filled with fantastic information, but how many people are going to take the time, how many people in the public even know that we have a AAAS Press Room?”

The supply side model has failed.

“…our message has not gotten through to the American people. In fact a completely different message has gotten through which is that scientists are arguing, that there is still a lot of scientific uncertainty, that more research is needed, and that a lot of what we’re seeing can be explained by natural variability.”

She has tried to understand how this message of uncertainty and doubt is the one that has got through to the public and has found that for the past 30 years the American people have been subject to a very organised and systematic campaign to spread that alternative message.  Her forthcoming book, co-authored with Erik Conway, will document the campaign. (The book will be reviewed on Hot Topic.) But in the meantime she offered the symposium an example which the book doesn’t cover.

After the first President Bush signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Western Fuels, a consortium of coal producers, launched one of many campaigns to challenge the scientific evidence. They did this by hiring a PR firm, a group known as Bracy Williams & Co, and a set of market researchers, Cambridge Reports, to specifically plan a strategy, to test that strategy, and if it were successful, to implement it. The main point of this strategy was to reposition global warming as theory, not fact.

They began with a series of print ads. Oreskes sums up the message of those ads as follows:

“’Who told you the Earth was warming?’ Chicken Little, so there’s your alarmism argument. ‘Some say the Earth is warming, some also said the Earth was flat.’ So scientists are now cast as the opposite, as the anti-science. And ‘How much are you willing to pay for a problem that may not exist?’ That’s an argument that we’ve seen repeatedly over the last 20 years.”

Then they organised public relations tours in combination with this ad campaign

“and a big part of this public relations tour was to get scientists who could appear on TV, so arrange television appearances by sceptical scientists, usually not climate scientists, but people who had what appeared to be relevant credentials.”

Next step was to analyse the results through focus groups, which showed that yes, you could market attitude change. But it worked best if the evidence was presented as facts by technical spokespeople, that is to say people who were scientists or who appeared to be scientists. Therefore that it was essential to recruit scientists to deliver the message.

The scientists were duly found and incorporated into step two of the campaign, the production of a video called The Greening of Planet Earth.  Most of them weren’t climate scientists, but mostly actually agronomists from the US Department of Agriculture making the claim that we know for a fact that carbon dioxide increases agricultural productivity, and in fact not just agricultural productivity but productivity of all plants.

“So it’s a very, very positive message, it’s all good, the scientists are all very kindly-looking, they’re very nice, they’re very calm, and they just tell this good news message over and over again.”

In a weird way, Oreskes comments, the opponents of scientific information have been more scientific than the science community. They studied and tested and built on the evidence they gathered from the testing. More scientific, more organised, more aggressive  The scientific community meanwhile has relied on peer reviewed journals and websites which are too technical for the general public.

People are not confused, she argues, because they are ignorant of the science. They are confused because people have tried to confuse them. Successfully. The misinformation campaigns get reported in the mass media.  The scientists’ responses are made in peer reviewed journals.

What’s to be done? Oreskes raises PR possibilities, but recognises they may not enhance scientific credibility. But at least, she says, since what the scientific community has been doing in the past has clearly not been effective, it might be worth considering some alternatives. Yes indeed, but what?

Oreskes is doing an excellent job of revealing the enormity of what the science has been up against over the past two decades. It certainly isn’t scientific scepticism. But I don’t see any possibility of science matching the kind of organised campaigns that Western Fuels mounted and others have continued. They are highly unethical.  They are cynical and manipulative.  They have no scientific basis.  Those and many other considerations make it impossible for the scientific community to even think of doing battle on that ground.  Science is the only weapon the scientists have.  Not that they have to confine themselves to peer reviewed papers.  These are critical times and it would be good to see more of them entering into the public arena, seeking out journalists, expressing their fears, writing op-eds, badgering editors, publishing books.  But when all is said and done it is only the dawning realisation of the seriousness of the science that will tell against the false assurances of the deniers. It seems to me we’re stuck with that.

69 thoughts on “A walk on the supply side”

  1. How very interesting, Bryan, I look forward to the book review.

    Reading through I was reminded of the agronomists – Idso et al and Arizona as a sort of center to benigh CO2 thinking.. (perhaps thinking could use replacement with promotion or persuasion).

    Also to mind was thought from a film script to The International. Short for the film’s International Bank of Business and Credit, this in turn suggestive the core data arising from the onetime fifth largest bank BCCI of specious if not criminal specie. In the film the guy who top execs this is portrayed as a good father, family man etc, dedicated to his role as a banker. In one shoot we see him in teleconference with his associates, and at the same time playing a board game with his son by the fireside.

    They – the biz and associates – have a problem. The bet is big time and backing out is not an option. He asks his son for the solution. And the boy says..” can’t get out.. so you go further in.”

    My sense is that in broadening upcoming public debate via American politicians back then the Bush administration, family and afiliations used its position/s not only ahead of the public trust but in deliberate attempts to frustrate opposition to the enormous corporate coup firmly underway since Eisenhower.

    Precursor if you will to ‘too big to fail’ design. Add that much of the american public is ably anti-science because of so-called religious conviction/s and conflict/s and, as E.G. Marshall so amply put it: With money on your side, selling sin is easy.

    We should not overlook the logic of a youthful “further in”. Which IMHO has been perpetrated upon the world by the foregoing.

      1. Yes, conspiracy. The western fuels campaign was just the beginning.

        Check out this document which outlined a similar campaign in 1998… This one was organised by the American Petroleum Institute (of which Western Fuels was a member), ExxonMobil and the Southern Company, along with a handful of the think tanks they funded (and still fund).

        the milestones:

        "Victory will be achieved when
        * Average citizens understand (recognise) uncertainties in climate science;
        * recognition of uncertainties becomes part of the ‘conventional wisdom’
        *Media ‘understands’ (recognises) uncertainties in climate science
        *Those promoting the Kyoto treaty on the basis of extant science appear to be out of touch with reality."

  2. Judith Curry wrote this recently in Discover Magazine.
    It would suggest a different story to that portrayed by Ms Oreskes.

    Quote:

    Where do you come down on the whole subject of uncertainty in the climate science?
    I’m very concerned about the way uncertainty is being treated. The IPCC [the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] took a shortcut on the actual scientific uncertainty analysis on a lot of the issues, particularly the temperature records.

    ….

    1. I found J udith Curry's recent essay puzzling and naive. She takes the denialist reading of the UEA emails as pretty well a given. She expresses respect for Watts and McIntyre as useful watchdogs. She seems to think that climate scientists can find middle ground with deniers by being patient and understanding with them, and sees that as a necessary step towards rebuilding the trust which she says climate science has lost through the IPCC and the UEA scientists. ____The Discover Magazine <a href="http://discovermagazine.com/2010/apr/10-it.s-gettin-hot-in-here-big-battle-over-climate-science/article_view?searchterm=michael+mann&b_start:int=0">article you refer to carries sepparate interviews with both her and Michael Mann, of whom she is critical. Mann responds to some of what she has to say when asked.

    2. I found J udith Curry's recent essay puzzling and naive. She takes the denialist reading of the UEA emails as pretty well a given. She expresses respect for Watts and McIntyre as useful watchdogs. She seems to think that climate scientists can find middle ground with deniers by being patient and understanding with them, and sees that as a necessary step towards rebuilding the trust which she says climate science has lost through the IPCC and the UEA scientists. ____The Discover Magazine <a href="http://discovermagazine.com/2010/apr/10-it.s-gettin-hot-in-here-big-battle-over-climate-science/article_view?searchterm=michael+mann&b_start:int=0">article you refer to carries sepparate interviews with both her and Michael Mann, of whom she is critical. Mann responds to some of what she has to say when asked.

  3. Is this a case of politics getting in the way of science?
    No. It’s sloppiness. It’s just how our field has evolved. One of the things that McIntyre and McKitrick pointed out was that a lot of the statistical methods used in our field are sloppy. We have trends for which we don’t even give a confidence interval. The IPCC concluded that most of the warming of the latter 20th century was very likely caused by humans. Well, as far as I know, that conclusion was mostly a negotiation, in terms of calling it “likely” or “very likely.”

    Are you saying that the scientific community, through the IPCC, is asking the world to restructure its entire mode of producing and consuming energy and yet hasn’t done a scientific uncertainty analysis?
    Yes.

    1. All they have pointed out is that there is more room for sharing of raw data and perhaps open sharing of source code used to process it. And that such openness would shut up people like McIntyre before they waste everyone's time even more . That is all.

      You imply that the entire body of climate science has no uncertainty analysis. This position can only be held from a position completely removed from the actual body of science. I think I'd find it hard to find a paper which did not have such figures.

      Summaries – choice of language for policy makers – they are communicating science, not science itself.

  4. I like to think that I am reasonably well educated, I've got a BSc Hons. in electronic engineering, been a senior manager in companies dealing with disparate sources of information though which I have to sift, and come to a conclusion.

    But in terms of AGW i am but a babe in the woods. That's why i'm generally unimpressed by people who have a doctorate in one subject automatically pontificate on a completely unrelated matter. For example 32,000 scientists etc.

    I've been persuaded that AGW is true and that it is demonstrably so by the overwhelming information that is available, and that the deniers, can only seem to pick on the odd typo or error in a substantial volume of work.. Sure there are quibbles on some areas, and there are gaps, but these gaps are slowly being filled. I don't see that as a reason to dismiss the overwhelming consensus.

    I'm not normally one for 'consensus' thinking, I've seen some truly awful examples of group think. But as far as AGW goes, i've let my fear of consensus thinking go.

    The problem i have is that I lack the 'underpinnings' to firm up my developing views. AGW and all it's mysteries are complex, to me anyway, which is compounded by a new language in there that, at times, i find confusing. It takes a lot of time and effort to read the articles and try and get a grip on them. Time that most people, unless they are really interested in this subject, don't have.

    To me those on the denier side of the line are playing politics. Just look at Slater's response today, "blah blah blah I'll just mention two words "Himilayan Glaciers"" as if that refutes everything, which, of course it doesn't. They also seem to have a narrow parochial view that says if one thing is wrong then the whole ediface comes crumbling down

    I take the point of this thread on education. But to be brutal, i have absolutely no idea how anyone can go about educating the public on this matter. All it takes is for another 'fact' to come up from the denier camp, to lose any momentum. It takes time to research each attack, and then rebut it. Time as I said that most people don't have. My technique has been to wait a few days, then each of these new 'facts' are usually knocked over. There's a new one today on whaleoil.

    The thing is though, this 'education' has to be done. otherwise it'll all be lost.

    Let's try and keep up the good fight.

    It strikes me that the denier camp, conflate two issues. The first is, that there is/isn't AGW with the part of the equation that says, if there is, what do we do about it.

    1. Bill, I had a look at the new one today on whaleoil. It should be an embarrassment to the author. The part in climate change played by changes in the earth's orbital cycle is plain everyday stuff to climate science. It's discussed at great length in many of the books reviewed on Hot Topic. Whaleoil seems to think he's on to something everyone else has overlooked! It's just ignorant bluster.

      1. I agree, I enjoyed the Alley video, he described any solar forcing as fine tuning. So, it's negligible. It's also him clutching at any straws to keep him afloat. It'll be interesting to see any comments and replies.

  5. AlexB, you seem to have actually swallowed some of that disinformation Oreskes speaks about, and are regurgitating it here.

    Watts, McIntyre/McKitrick and their minions have produced very little to indicate sloppiness by authentic researchers and scientists, despite their accusations. They have engaged in a great deal of statistical"sloppiness" themselves, and their tactics are anything but disinterested and objective.

    There is a good deal of recent focused discussion around the work of these people on the scientifically informed blogs, and although very little in the way of published papers has emanated from their own efforts, there are some papers that address their theories. There seems to be a a lot of "sloppiness" in those headline denialists' presentations…..

    1. This blog is bizarre. There are at least 14 references to the "D" word in one post and the related comments.

      This statement leaves me worried:
      "The main point of this strategy was to reposition global warming as theory, not fact. "

      Global warming IS a theory, NOT a fact. If it is a fact, then let's disband the IPCC and the billions spent on climate research.

      There are many uncertainties in climate science Presenting it as a 100% certainty, is basically what one might call "spreading disinformation". In fact this is contradicting the IPCC view

      To then state that the public is "scientifically illiterate" is one good way to get the public to disengage from your argument.

      1. You're just illustrating how effective the campaign has been. Fifteen years of spinning uncertainty, and like a fish following a boat, you've taken the bait.

        What's certain is that adding more carbon to the atmosphere will cause more warming. The uncertainty lies in how bad it will be — and that sort of uncertainty doesn't work to our advantage. We need to buy the insurance that rapid emissions reductions will bring. The sooner the better. The sooner the cheaper the premium.

        1. For those that are interested, there is a series of podcasts from the Royal Society in the UK on "uncertainty in science" (haven't had a chance to listen yet – comments welcome)
          http://royalsociety.org/2010-Handling-uncertainty

          Climate related talks include:

          Uncertainty in weather and climate prediction
          Professor Julia Slingo OBE, Met Office, Exeter, UK and Professor Tim Palmer FRS, University of Oxford and European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, UK

          Uncertainties in predicting extremes of weather and climate
          Professor Peter Webster, Schools of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences & Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA

          Uncertainty, ambiguity and risk in forming climate policy
          Professor Leonard Smith, London School of Economics, UK

  6. How is it that the deniers have been so effective, and how can we counter them? My personal belief: they entertain. Climate denial ism is a genre of entertainment. They play up to be cheeky rebels, poking fun at authority while at the same time exploiting popular cultures obsession with conspiracy theories. ____They "punk" science and scientists by saying outrageous things and are cheered along by their constituents. See my point here:http://watchingthedeniers.wordpress.com/2010/04/0… we need is a Carl Sagan for climate science as well as a "Myth Busters" equivalent. The later wraps science and scepticism up in a great entertainment package that blows stuff up every week. ____Scientists need to work with people who understand how to communicate with the public more effectively. Another 400 page tomb won't cut it. Thoughts?____So, how do we do it?

    1. Good question WTD.

      blogs like Hot-Topic and your blog, as well as Deltoid, Real Climate, Climate Progress, etc… are good to counter the cherry-picking of science by the deniers

      As someone said to me the other day, real climate scientists have to have their research absolutely backed up, fully referenced and peer reviewed. They make it into the peer reviewed literature, which no member of the public read. All deniers have to do is sow doubt and dream up sexy soundbites.

      Michael Mann said in a recent interview:

      "We’re not PR experts like they are, we’re not lawyers and lobbyists like they are. We’re scientists, trained to do science. Classic example of asymmetric warfare.

      Keeping the media on the straight and narrow is one way of doing it..
      and pointing out the funding and the motivation of the majority of the deniers. Whether scientists need to become better trained at PR is a moot point. Personally, I'd rather they kept on being scientists, doing what they do best.

        1. I'd like to think that's true, WTD. It's certainly one of the things that keeps me blogging. If a lie is half way around the world before the truth has got its boots on, then I see my role as helping those boots get moving. And of course, on these days those boots are going to walk all over… the cranks.

        2. I'd like to think that's true, WTD. It's certainly one of the things that keeps me blogging. If a lie is half way around the world before the truth has got its boots on, then I see my role as helping those boots get moving. And of course, on these days those boots are going to walk all over… the cranks.

  7. This reminds me of a recent post on Talking Teaching (http://talkingteaching.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/how-good-are-we-at-teaching-the-nature-of-science/) which raised a similar concern re denialists in the light of anti-vaccine nonsense and framed in the context of teaching the nature of science at school.

    I replied that I thought part of the issue was teaching "bullshit detection". (I'm not going to repeat my full comment here.)

    Another part of the solution might be to train a decent science journalist/communicator/whatever workforce. I'm not sure most scientists realistically have the time to take on proper PR roles themselves, they're already wearing quite a few hats, but I'd like to see more people with "proper" science backgrounds in the science communication sphere (in all its forms), something I've written about on my blog.

    1. I think you can make a case for both teaching scientists to communicate effectively, and teaching communicators science. My science background is now so old and out of date that I would welcome refresher courses, but I would be very happy to talk/teach aspects of communication to scientists in exchange. I used to argue that if someone could write a decent sentence, then they could be trained to be a journalist. Not a great writer, perhaps, but communication is a craft that can be learned.

      Where I think there is a lack is in people of the stature (and commitment) of Dawkins in the evolution arena, taking on the climate problem. There's Flannery in Australia, and Hansen in the US, but no-one yet of truly international stature in both the science and communication skills.

      1. My thought exactly – I keep saying we the following… someone with the gravitas and brilliance of Carl Sagan and a team of guys like Myth Busters who can translate the science into a popular "infotainment" style program.

  8. Do we really have time for this discussion? Isnt it a diversion from some pretty obvious actions that we need to take immediately?

    My approach has been to do something personally dramatic (in my case stopping all flying) and drop it into the conversation where I can – and also to tell all taxi drivers I meet. Frankly it is a kind of personal testimony, evangelism if you like. But I have found that it works. Really well.

    People remember. You are 'the person who isnt flying anymore'. There is a curiosity factor. I regularly get asked, by some pretty serious people in suits 'hows it going with that?' When you put some skin in game, the debate changes.

    And isnt that, in a sense, what the deniers are up to? These contrarian evangelists – who the whole world seems to be against – will beat serious scientists and educators every time. People love the articulate underdog.

    If this approach sounds a bit out there and foolish, well, I concluded that politeness and fear of looking the fool might end up killing us all. And I also note that deniers never worry about looking the fool.

    Hell, why am I even here. My taxi is waiting and I have an overnight bus to catch.

    My recent post Travel industry imagines a world with far fewer flights

    1. We need to do both I think. I also speak to people at the individual level. At my place of work I had a discussion with someone who thought a) climate science was a conspiracy for scientists to get grants and b) based it Michael Crichton's novel State of Fear. Lastly they thought Crichton *was a scientists*. So I talked to them over a period of weeks and gave them Flannery's "Weather Makers" and invited them to come back and talk. Did I change there mind 100%, not quite, but now they think there is a much greater probability that climate change is happening. And they enjoyed Flannery's book. I'll send my blog to friends, family and people I know.

      But we need to discuss the *how* we can do all this, and more importantly discuss how as a community we can help each other. It's a cliche, but the web amplifies the network effect. What I've learnt from this site has helped more enormously. It's also brought traffic to my site, and people learn a bit more there (one hopes).

    2. Tom I've done some of the things we ought to do individually and immediately. I bought a bicycle four years ago and use it almost daily – and to the few who comment as they pass the bike stand I always make it clear that it's environmental anxiety that has put me on a bike (though I have to say I actually find it enjoyable). I use a bus in preference to a car, and our car itself we downsized to the most fuel-efficient we could find. And so on.

      But as I stand at the bus stop and watch the unending stream of vehicles I think with anger of the cap the present Minister of Transport has put on the government subsidy for public transport costs in favour of the expansion of the roading system. He bluntly argues that it’s motorists who provide the funds, and it’s motorists who should receive the benefit. And he’s building a wealthier economy. Simple really. No nonsense about externalities or hidden costs.

      I don’t doubt personal actions are worth taking, and I applaud yours. But they’ll count for very little so long as the machinery of government works in a different direction.

  9. So can I sum up the sentiment of this post and discussion?
    – People disagree with us
    – Both the ‘alarmists’ and the ‘deniers’ are engaging in aggressive marketing campaigns (come on, be honest, its not just the ‘denialists’ employing PR firms to spread ‘the message’)
    – There has been a shift in public opinion towards ‘denialism’
    – Therefore: The denialists must be better marketers

    This discussion again smacks of an attitude, “the public are too dumb to make their own minds up”. Does it occur to anyone that with so many people disagreeing with your opinion there is a slither of a possibility that they might in fact be right and you may in fact be wrong? Or are we all so pig headed as to never critically assess our opinions from another’s point of view and admit our belief is not 100% certain?

    (Before you accuse me of being a hypocrite: I am agnostic on climate change. The only thing I disagree with is blind faith in an unproven belief)
    (also: do not say “it is 100% certain CO2 is a greenhouse gas” (gareth post 16), that is not the debate, the debate is that warming will be marginal, medium, or large)
    (also: do not say, “do you have house insurrancse??” (gareth post 16), of course I own insurance, but only if the price is right. If someone sold me insurance against attack by yeti for $5000 a year I would not buy! Insurrance for house fire at $100 a year – maybe. The price and the risk matter!)

    1. The public are not dumb. Indeed in the times I've engaged "deniers" I've found most to be rational, or at least attempting to be, and keen to understand. It is not a question if intelligence. No side has the market on that cornered.

      However, public opinion does change, and responds to media and marketing campaigns. Take the approval of presidents, or the public's perception on the dangers of second hand smoke.

      Most people are busy, distracted with their lives and rightfully concerned about their immediate friends, family and jobs. Climate change, when it does comes to the attention

      Who do they trust? Where do they get there information? This is where the denial movement (and yes, pro-science advocates) are fighting. Yes, battling it out.

      Have a look at the Luntz memo to see exactly how the denial movement operates:http://watchingthedeniers.wordpress.com/the-damni

      To quote:

      "The scientific debate is closing [against us] but not yet closed. There is still a window of opportunity to challenge the science. Americans believe all the strange weather that was associated with El Nino had something to do with global warming, and there is little you can do convince them otherwise. However, only a handful of people believes the science of global warming is a closed question. Most Americans want more information so that they can make an informed decision. It is our job to provide that information…"

    2. hmmm.

      I wouldn't agree at all that debate is whether "warming will be marginal, medium or large" . Half the deniers are still arguing that there is warming at all and whether it's caused by human activity through pumping of C02 into the atmosphere. Some of them are arguing that it's caused by sunspots. Some are arguing that the global temperature is not rising. Some are stuck back in (obsessed with?) medieval times.

      Is it that the denialists are better marketers? Well if using a snappy soundbite devoid of factual accuracy compared with publishing a peer reviewed paper in a scientific journal, then perhaps you are right – they are getting A message out there using whatever means possible. Is using Fox News and Rush Limbaugh to get your message out "better marketing"?

      In terms of public in the US, the think tanks, anthony watts and marc morano take advantage of an ill-informed middle America, whose attitude on many things is, to me, pretty sad.

      This fabulous piss-take in The Onion couldn't have summed it up better.

      1. I think I've mentioned this before, but climate change denial is an entertainment medium. Like Ghost Hunters, The Secret and Da Vinci code. It's a slick package that entertains and misinforms.

        I call it "punking science".

        They play up the part of rebels and underdogs, thumbing their nose at authority while pumping out fact-free blogs, sound bites and propaganda. Morono's blog is the example "par excellance". Think how Glenn Beck stands in front of the camera with his blackboard and diagrams.

        The deniers takes what the Onion does, but claims it is truth not parody or irony. The laugh, their constituents laugh and science is all the poorer. Humour is an effective tool.

        Punking science means making outrageous claims, but most of all look like your having fun at the expense at "stuffy scientists" and the establishment.

        The creationists did this with "Expelled Exposed". It's the premise behind the Creationist Museum in the US.

        1. I have some bad news for you guys.
          The world bank has gived the go-ahead for Eskom's 4.8GW coal-fired electricity plant in South Africa, This will add 1.5 billion tons of CO2 over its lifetime.

          India is planning six of these units. They will dwarf any attempts to cut emissions in the UK never mind NZ

          If you want to do something, then lobby the World Bank.

    3. Where does this slither of a possibility that the deniers are right reside? Only in the possibility that the whole body of climate science is wrong. It's not pig-headedness to stick with the science. I don't see any escape from the conclusion that science's basic reading of the situation is correct and the only uncertainty is about how bad the consequences will be. I don't know how you maintain your agnosticism as you term it, but it's no option for me.

      Incidentally who are these PR firms that the 'alarmists' are employing?

      1. OK, so you are 100% certain that the world will warm as predicted by the IPCC, adn that observed 20th century warming is man made. There is no point discussing the matter then, you are a preacher not debater.

        1. If you could produce hard and comprehensive science that could point to a convincing new understanding of the earth's climate and the changes that are apparent, then everybody would be delighted!

          But despite all the efforts and all the money thrown at climate change by the denialists, nothing that remotely resembles that has been offered. There is some very good, well-organised political propoganda, and PR that has caused confusion, as expressed in this post and thread, but that is it.

          Show us the evidence, otherwise there is indeed no point in discussing the kinds of nonsense that are repetitively trotted out by denialists, as seen elsewhere in this thread.

          1. “If you could produce hard and comprehensive science that could point to a convincing new understanding of the earth’s climate and the changes that are apparent, then everybody would be delighted!”

            So people not causing climate change would be a new understanding?

            My point is hard evidence has not been possible thus far on either side of the debate. I am happy to discuss the issues but if the people I am discussing the issue with take the position that there is 100% conclusive proof the climate has warmed due to people and that the observed warming will continue to accelerate while CO2 levels continue to accelerate, then I cannot constructively discuss.

            We all need to admit there is possibility of either outcome or we become preachers dogmatically adhering to one song sheet, unwilling to accept any criticism. And when these preachers condemn opposing views as heretical without critically assessing their own beliefs the debate degrades to what we see here in this post. A one side vs the other PR war, science and debate is left to rot in the entrails.

            1. "then I cannot constructively discuss"

              what are you trying to construct? a house of cards? a web of lies?

              you are not the droid we're looking for C3P0, move along.

        2. The IPCC is not 100% certain of its warming predictions, but so far they're turning out pretty well as expected. I haven't developed independent certainties – I go with the science. That much of the 20th century warming was manmade seems incontrovertible. Preachers (and it's true I was one once long ago, though I hope I didn't fit your stereotype) can also be debaters, but I'm not sure what it is you want to debate.

          1. So you used to be a religious preacher! Now you are a preacher of a different belief…..

            Perhaps you should try not to live your life only considering issues in absolute terms?

  10. Is it possible to be critical of the science and processes therein without being subjected to personal abuse? (i.e the "D" word)

    This letter appeared this week in the Financial Times. It has received a couple of follow-ups since.

    Sir, Your editorial “Cooler on warming” (April 5) rightly makes the point that the conduct of climate science is in question.

    In this context, you note with good reason the contents of e-mails released in November from the Climatic Research Unit, and recent criticisms that have been made of the fourth and latest Assessment Report (AR4) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But the problems have long been known, and they are more wide-ranging and fundamental than you imply.

    In relation to climate change issues, the established official expert advisory process that governments have commissioned and relied on has shown itself, over many years, to be professionally not up to the mark.

    The situation is one of unwarranted trust. The main headings of unprofessional conduct within the process, all identified and fully documented well before the recent revelations, have been:

    ..//continues

    1. Alex: It's my policy here to discourage long cut and pastes of material from other sites, especially when they're off-topic or only marginally relevant.

      Please provide a link and a salient extract in future.

  11. WTD. Do I take it that you have no interest in the quality of work at the CRU?

    So, this is OK –

    (1) Sloppy code
    (2) Non-existent source control
    (3) Peer-review gate-keeping
    (4) Deleting emails
    (5) Losing data
    (6) Ignoring data that doens't fit your hypothesis?

    Would you accept this behaviour from a drugs company?

    One does not have to be a <Insert your favorite offensive term here /> to see that this is unacceptable.

    Just my 2 cents worth.

    1. So many straw men you must have a haystack in the garden. All six items straight out of the script written by the denial campaign, and all a travesty of the truth. But this is not a thread about CRU, it's about the organised campaign of disinformation that you seem keen to play along with.

  12. Alex B, How about you turn that same level of criticism and the same ethical standards on people like McIntyre and Co., and judge them accordingly?

    Do you have no interest in the ethics, and the standards of intellectual honesty of people like that? Start with the moral twistiness of unashamedly using hacked (=stolen) emails.

    There is not much of substance in your list, is there? What are your sources? How honest and accurate are those sources in general? Would you buy a used car from people like that?

    The so-called "scepticism" od the denailists is the biggest lie of all WTF, indeed!

  13. What exactly is there, AlexB? Your list of crimes above don't come from a selection of stolen emails, but from all the interpretation and spin appled to them.

    The first chapter of reponse to your list is here: http://hot-topic.co.nz/jones-and-cru-exonerated-b

    Perhaps you've read that report already yourself? If you haven't, it's linked in Garteh's post.

    There are 2 more inquiries to go. I'll confidently predict that not much will remain of your list by the time all reports are done.

    I'll also confidently predict that denialists will still repeat those accusations while labelling all 3 reports whitewashes. That's the nature of the beast.

    BTW, if you're curious about the submissions to the Independent Climate Change Email Review, you can read them here: http://www.cce-review.org/Evidence.php?page=1&amp

  14. It's not surprising that you are haqving problems persuading people when you ignore these glaring faults. Harry_Readme.txt anyone?

    The next 2 "independent" enquiries will be the same as the first.

    Oxburgh is a member of GLOBE and has multiple business interests in "green" technology.

    Prof Boulton is a well-known member of the alarmist industry.

    We have come to expect this. There is too much skin in the game.

    This will end in tears. The energy riots in Kyrgyzstan are probably a foretaste of where we are heading. (in case you don't know, a cabinet minister was beaten to death there)

    All I can suggest is, get some guns. You might need them.

    Have a nice weekend.

    1. Alex B, the more you post, the more you confirm expectations.

      Of course, denialists will want to get their spin in first, with the whitewash accusations. That is their acknowledgement that any independent and objective examination of the CRU beat up will show not very much at all.

      That's the case for everything in the denialist canon.

      Yes, it might well end in tears. That's what clear-eyed people who look at the evidence fear. Climate change will put pressure on the environments that many people live in around the world, on the production of food, on water resources, and we all understand how that might lead to social upheaval, political unrest and violence.

      I know you wouldn't consider the US Department of Defense a credible group, but in their Quadrennnial Defense Review, they state that climate change will “act as an accelerant of instability or conflict”

      "Climate change and energy are two key issues that will play a significant role in shaping the future security environment. Although they produce distinct types of challenges, climate change, energy security, and economic stability are inextricably linked. The actions that the Department takes now can prepare us to respond effectively to these challenges in the near term and in the future."
      http://climatesecurity.blogspot.com/2010/02/us-de

      1. Yes, I can't quite see where he was heading with that one. The jump from CRU inquiries to ending in tears in Kyrgyzstan, and us needing to arm ourselves is puzzling.

  15. I find this terribly depressing. The Americans have swamped the climate change and global warming sites with deniers and Fox news and Lord Monkton etc have convinced the world that its all a scam.In the meantime NASA record that Co2 levels have just gone over 389 PPM.

  16. thesailer

    Exactly right. Every email sent answering to deniers (including this email) is time wasted and we have much more important things to do.

    Denial isnt going to go away. In a few short months it will simply take on a new form. Probably geoengineering.

    There isnt going to be a magic 'aha' moment when everyone gets it, and deniers appear sobbing on TV and admitting their errors.

    Lets get on with things that are a step change in the debate and make deniers irrelevant. They only have traction now because they are the only ones that are prepared to state radical preferences in the debate.

    My idea is campaign to get all nonessential flights out the sky. Now.

    But how about a statement from all academics, churches, scientists, doctors, lawyers, public servants urging immediate action on climate change?

    Let me put it this way. If a group picketed and shut down the airport. Would the media ask deniers for a comment? No, they would ask academics whether the science justified such a stance. See, you move the debate.

    My recent post Travel industry imagines a world with far fewer flights

  17. thesailer

    Exactly right. Every email sent answering to deniers (including this email) is time wasted and we have much more important things to do.

    Denial isnt going to go away. In a few short months it will simply take on a new form. Probably geoengineering.

    There isnt going to be a magic 'aha' moment when everyone gets it, and deniers appear sobbing on TV and admitting their errors.

    Lets get on with things that are a step change in the debate and make deniers irrelevant. They only have traction now because they are the only ones that are prepared to state radical preferences in the debate.

    My idea is campaign to get all nonessential flights out the sky. Now.

    But how about a statement from all academics, churches, scientists, doctors, lawyers, public servants urging immediate action on climate change?

    Let me put it this way. If a group picketed and shut down the airport. Would the media ask deniers for a comment? No, they would ask academics whether the science justified such a stance. See, you move the debate.

    My recent post Travel industry imagines a world with far fewer flights

  18. I have just had the opportunity to scan this discussion.

    Very informative exercise to see how "Alex B" was flushed out.
    I initially read his posts carefully, but by the end it is obvious he is part of the "echo chamber", and quickly found myself discarding his contributions – he had lost his cred. and joined Cp3O in the electronic compost…

    Another thought was that "alarmists" are akin to people who seek to advocate for the "commons". As such it is very difficult to get significant funding for PR, marketing etc compare to those who are/will make a buck from the situation.

    Implies this is a problem, this is an opportunity… Perhaps it is the growing of a more resilient community, one not focused on money.

    Yes the personal sacrifice described by Tom and WTD resonates for me. I too have stopped flying – switched from Koru Gold to no flights and now Skype/WebEx or if really required drive or train. I have my collaborative office in the cloud. (I am deeply involved in nonfossil energy.)

    The size of the lawn decreases and the vegy patch grows. I am now getting ready to winter over about 200 native trees as we prepare for a spring planting to add to the 100s of thousands of trees we have already planted.

    Yes Garth, WTD and Co you are an inspiration to me, and like tomfarmer I wait to see your take on any thing related to the Climate discussion.

    Your time put into this is not wasted on me

    Sincere thanks

  19. Hey, it's great how I was "flushed out" eh? Those rotten "deniers" who don't agree with EVERYTHING you say.

    How do you know my opinions on AGW? As it happens, I do think we have a problem.

    My opinion on the "team" of Jones and Mann is that they are fourth rate scientists who don't stand up top scrutiny. But that's just my opinion based on what I have read over the years.

    It doesn't mean that I don't have a view on AGW or ETS. But, since your world is all about goodies and baddies, then I am obviously one of the latter. So call me a "denier" if it makes it easier to hate me.

    When you put your scientists on a pedestal and worship them, you are a religious cult.

    I am so glad that you have stopped flying/ started growing veggies, bought a bike or whatever. Just don't bore me about it .I did most of those things (except flying) years ago.

    No one came back ot me on the SA coal station story, also covered on Pielke's Jr s blog. This will obiliterate any savings NZ makes in WEEKS.

    I hope the brown shirts and armbands fit everyone.

    1. It didn't take long before those true colours showed , Alex B.

      There's hardly a thing you've posted that isn't right out of the denialist hymn book. We've heard them all before. I was going to ask where you got your information from, but the answers are obvious.

      If you were open-minded, and genuinely wanting to discuss the science, there might be some value to you in spending time on a site like this. If you just want to re-animate the zombie arguments, that's a waste of time for us, and a loss to you.

  20. What a rabid, vitriol loaded, diatribe – exactly on form.

    Supports my model of who you are – which may be wrong but the facts so far, what you spout forth, unfortunately don't help your case.

    How about I trump you and say I started decades ago – whatever…

    SA is not NZ – SA will have its own droughts, famines, flies, floods and fires to deal with.

    My point was that there are many things that people can and are doing at a personal level and that together that can achieve more than money, PR and marketing.

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