Bjorn again: Lomborg’s convenient change of heart

Climate protestors at AberdeenBjorn Lomborg is in the news again. He’s changed his tune, says a Guardian headline, announcing the forthcoming publication of a new book edited by him, Smart Solutions to Climate Change: Comparing Costs and Benefits. That was a pretty quick change, I thought, recalling what I heard him say on a panel at the PEN World Voices Festival, back in May. He followed the famed Norwegian novelist Jostein Gaarder and the leading climatologist James Hansen. I wrote about it on Hot Topic at the time. Neither the passion of Gaarder nor the scientific logic of Hansen was for him. He admittedly presented himself as an advocate for tackling global warming, but without a shred of scientific reference he spoke of the need for “balanced information” and a move from the end-of-world kind of story.  “Apocalyptic information” turns people off, he said, and is part of the reason why there has been a decline in public concern about global warming over the past year. That, plus problems in the IPCC report such as those relating to the Himalayan glaciers. In other words, it’s the scientists who point to the great danger we are in who are to blame for the lack of public concern. The relentless denialist campaign seemingly has nothing to do with it. As I listened I simply thought you obviously haven’t bothered to follow the science. You’ve sniffed out a strategic political position, safely positioned between science and denial. Perhaps that was unfair of me. But I’d reviewed Howard Friel’s painstaking book The Lomborg Deceptiona few weeks previously, and what Lomborg was saying fitted Friel’s analysis.


Then just last month he produced an article (accessible from here) claiming that we have the capacity to readily adapt to even a 6 metre sea level rise. Only 400 million people would be affected, about 6% of the world’s population, and most of them live in cities where they could be protected relatively easily.

“94% of the population would not be inundated. And most of those who do live in the flood areas would never even get their feet wet. […] The point isn’t that we can or should ignore global warming. The point is that we should be wary of hyperbolic predictions. More often than not, what sound like horrific changes in climate and geography actually turn out to be manageable – and in some cases even benign.”

This hardly presaged a change of tune. I haven’t seen a copy of the new book, nor will I be seeking to. But books take time to publish and the things that an author is saying and writing in the months preceding release are unlikely to be at variance with what the forthcoming book will have to say.

Joe Romm, who is deeply unimpressed by the news of the book, quotes from its penultimate paragraph:

“It is unfortunate that so many policy makers and campaigners have become fixated on cutting carbon in the near term as the chief response to global warming.”

“Seriously” is Romm’s one-word response.

It’s not that Lomborg thinks we can avoid responding to global warming. It’s rather that he has a better way than cutting emissions. His final paragraph:

“If we care about the environment and about leaving this planet and its inhabitants with the best possible future, we actually have only one option: we all need to start seriously focusing, right now, on the most effective ways to fix global warming.”

That involves using money raised by a carbon tax (a small one of $7 a ton, in case that alarms anyone).

“Investing $100bn annually would mean that we could essentially resolve the climate change problem by the end of this century.”

Sounds like good news. And in some ways it is. The areas that Lomborg and his fellow writers propose spending money on include research and development of clean energy options, planting more trees, reducing soot and methane, and investigating geo-engineering projects such as “cloud whitening”. There’s little to argue with there, and presumably that’s how he managed to get a commendation of the book from Rajendra Pachauri, who welcomed Lomborg’s statement that we have ‘long moved on from any mainstream disagreements about the science of climate change’.

So it looks like a change of emphasis from Lomborg, though he maintains he has never denied anthropogenic global warming. He even acknowledged to the Guardian reporter that there could be “something really bad lurking around the corner”. But it’s hardly change enough. Cutting carbon emissions is our only hope of avoiding really serious multiple consequences from global warming. That is the clear message of the science. The notion that we can get by without seriously addressing that need is not founded on science. Lomborg’s message is welcomed by fossil fuel vested interests because it suggests we can carry on doing what we are at the same time as covering any damage we may be laying up for the future. Gerry Brownlee’s draft NZ Energy Strategy fits very nicely into that delusion.

I’ll give Howard Friel, writing in the Guardian, the last word.

“Lomborg still argues in this book, as he did in the others, that cost-benefit economics analysis shows that it is prohibitively expensive for the world to sharply reduce CO2 emissions to the extent required by the scientific evidence.

“…what will happen to the earth and human civilisation when atmospheric CO2 concentrations rise – essentially unchecked, if we followed Lomborg’s recommendations – to 450 parts per million, 550ppm, 700ppm, 800ppm; and when the average global temperature rises by 2C, 3C, and 4C to 7C?

“Climate scientists have set 350ppm and a 2C average temperature rise (from 1750 to 2100) as the upper range targets to prevent a global climate disaster. Since we are already at 390ppm and since a 2C plus rise is a near certainty, how does Lomborg’s appeal to forgo sharp reductions in CO2 emissions reflect climate science? He argues that there are ‘smarter solutions to climate change’ than a focus on reducing CO2. This is hardly smart: it’s insanity.

116 thoughts on “Bjorn again: Lomborg’s convenient change of heart”

  1. So Bjorn`s got all the answers. May I suggest we take up a collection to send him, Gerry Brownlee and a delegation from Fuddleheaded Farmers to Pakistan to educate the 20 odd million displaced persons how to `ADAPT` to their new environment. After all when the waters recede and they can count the bodies there will only be a million or two dead and they breed like flys anyway.
    By the way the Russians are now shipping fuels through the northern passage to China for the first time. Great that will mean greater volumes of fuel getting to China faster and more economically accelerating CO2 emissions and ultimately melting the polar cap faster. Yeah, everyone wins. NOT

      1. Well, I don’t know how many will die, but I would suggest that most of those that have already will have died from drowning or accidents. Now, in a poor country with overstretched resources and massive refugee efforts, how many do you think will die from disease? Additionally crops and livestock have been wiped out, and planting, (it is the season), cannot be done. How many will die of starvation or malnutrition?

        Btw, I don’t expand hidden comments. There is a reason that people vote that way.

    1. I think people should stop pointing their fingers at climate change and start pointing them at themselves. Bjorn Lomberg is not causing climate change. Nor is he seeking to worsen it. He is seeking to do the most good for the most amount of people. The reason why so many people in developing countries will find it so difficult to adapt to climate change is the result of an unbalanced world system which locks them into poverty and disempowerment. Instead of wasting our time and money on ineffective climate change strategies we could do a lot more good for a lot more people in by assisting with medical treatment, trade and political stability. Then people like those in Pakistan are better able to help themselves just like you or me, should our town or city flood. Ingoring the reasons behind why people are in such dyre situations and pointing the blame at climate change is just plain ignorance and avoidence of the real problem.

      1. Jayme, Lomborg sets up a false dichotomy. Economist Nicholas Stern, who is prominent in urging measures to mitigate of climate change has been concerned with poverty reduction for a long time. I quote from my review of his book The Global Deal:

        “He makes it clear from the start that combating climate change is inextricably linked with poverty reduction as the two greatest challenges of the century and that we shall succeed or fail on them together – to tackle only one is to undermine the other. This theme is frequently sounded in the book, and is an indication of the humanity which he brings to his task, as well as the realism.”

        To Nicholas Stern I would add another economist Jeffrey Sachs, who has been deeply involved in measures to tackle poverty in developing countries but also urges measures to reduce the threat of climate change. His book Common Wealth addresses both questions.

  2. I may be misinterpreting what you are saying Gosman,but if you are suggesting that Lomborg is attacked because he has slightly strayed from the “mainstream view” of those who take climate science seriously, then I think you are understating his position. He has consistently accused scientists of exaggerating the effects of climate change, with absolutely no reference to any science of substance to support that accusation. His view that we cannot sensibly afford to cut carbon emissions may make sense to some economic philosophies but it contradicts the science which indicates that if we don’t drastically cut emissions we’re headed for disaster. Economists like Nicholas Stern and Jeffrey Sachs and Paul Krugman take the science seriously before they engage with the economics. Lomborg has yet to show that he does.

    1. I don’t think taking a position that people might be exaggerating the effects of climate change is an extremist position.

      The trouble with predictions, especially with a system as complex as the Earth’s climate, is that they are notoriously unreliable and become more unreliable the further out the predictions are made. From a statistical point of view you have to widen the choice of possible outcomes to keep within a specified tolerance (e.g. 90% probability).

      The scientists involved in climate change are understandably need to provide worse case scenarios at the moment because Policy makers need to be aware of and be prepared to deal with the worst cases. However just because they are the worst case scenarios doesn’t make them the LIKELY outcome. It would be like claiming that there is a 90% likelyhood of a devastating storm hitting NZ in the next 10 years so therefore we MUST prepare for it NOW.

      As far as I can tell Lomborg has been railing against the use of policy decision being made for worst case scenarios and has been suggesting the likely outcome is not as bad as certain people make out. He hasn’t claimed that there won’t be ANY negative impact of climate change or that we shouldn’t take ANY mitigating decisions. He has also suggested that talk of an impending Global meltdown doesn’t help get people onside. In this he shares a view similar to the former Scientific adviser to Tony Blair, who stated people respond more positively to positive visions of the future than to negative ones.

      I don’t see this as being too far from the mainstream position on AGW and certainly doesn’t deserve the sort of opprobrium hard core environmentalists have subjected him to. I’d suggest it pays to create as broad a base coalition of people as possible rather than attempting to browbeat people into accepting a particular apocolyptic vision of the outcome of AGW. If you want to waste your time doing this then fair enough. I don’t see how this advances the cause much.

      1. Gosman, the predictions to date are hardly proving unreliable, or where they are it is because they have been too cautious. Scientists do provide worst case scenarios among others, but there is little sign that policy makers are responding to those. Indeed at present they appear to be responding to none of them. Your analogy of a storm is hardly apposite. The damage to the climate from anthropogenic global warming is steady and may be irreversible. It also carries likelihood of positive feedbacks which can result in a sudden acceleration. Where does Lomborg (and perhaps you) find the confidence to dismiss this as exaggeration? It’s sober science, not a particular apocalyptic view. I have no wish to browbeat anyone into accepting anything. But I can’t make common cause with someone who treats the science of climate change lightly or who on economic grounds claims we can deal with the damage better when we have made ourselves richer.

        1. Actually, Bryan, Gosman gets his storm analogy exactly wrong. We plan infrastructure to take account of those sorts of odds all the time — river bridges are designed with severe floods in mind, stormwater drainage systems to cope with intense rain. All over NZ councils are (or should be) revising their standards for those sorts of things in the light of current expectations of climate change (which is why NIWA’s climate projections were done specifically for local government).

          1. Slightly different from saying infrastructure should be able to cope with those sorts of things to saying that we should start acting as if the threat is imminent. For example we don’t start evacuating people from an at risk area in a storm until it has been confirmed that it is absolutely necessary.

            I’d suggest to you that you can’t rely on worse case scenarios for immediate radical changes but you can take meassures to build in safety margins.

          1. For starters, increasing sea level rise, Arctic sea ice melt (more rapid than expected), worldwide glacier retreat, increase in extreme weather events, steadily rising global temperature, ocean acidification, and much more. But surely you know all this.

            1. So when were the predictions made about these and what did they state would happen(For example what did the predictions on Glacier retreat state the situation should be at this time?)

            2. Come off it. Do you really think scientists said that by 2010 such and such a glacier would have retreated by so many hundreds of metres? Glaciers are predicted to retreat. They are retreating – very fast in some places. That’s accurate enough for me.

            3. You stated that predictions made to date that have proved unreliable have been too cautious.

              So what are some examples of these predictions, when were they made, and what did they predict would be the case at this point in time?

              It certainly would help if there was a list of verifiable predictions that could be used to support the case for fighting AGW.

            4. The melting of arctic sea ice will add nothing to the eustatic sea level. You ought to know this!

            5. Roger, give me credit for some understanding. Of course I know that. I instanced the melting of the Arctic sea ice because of the flow-on effects from the diminished albedo, if you need it spelt out.

    2. Roy Spencer’s view, and his credentials are as good as any, you have got cause and effect back to front. As for Stern he admitted that he knew nothing about science. He still does not. The rubbish that he wrote indicates that he knows nothing of normal discounting practices either.

      1. Even economists who take a different view of discounting to Stern don’t describe his work as rubbish. It evidently takes a geologist to recognise it. Stern doesn’t pretend to be a scientist but he reads and talks with scientists and has sufficient intelligence to understand what they are warning us about. But of course they’re all wrong too in your book.

        1. He simply lowered the discount rate down to near zero to make his assessment appear reasonable. An auditor doing that would be kicked out of the profession.

          1. Roger, you speak of him as if he’s some kind of crook. He has a long and complex discussion of discounting in his book The Global Deal in which he sets out his reasons for action now. Disagree with him if you want, but don’t cast him as a deliberate deceiver. That sort of accusation seems to me to strike at the foundations of intellectual regard on which the functioning of society depends.

            1. He is expecting the taxpayer to invest in staving off AGW at an interest rate far below what the bank would pay. Would you lend money at that rate? If you would please lend me some. Whatever you have in your bank accounts will do. Just consider it your contribution to staving off AGW. Would any of your friends like to chip in too?

              Your last sentence is a bit ripe considering some of the comments about Bryan Leyland and others!

  3. “..the scientific logic of Hansen ”
    James “democracy isn’t working” Hansen?

    Tragically, too many “environmental” activists agree. Yesterday armed eco terrorist James lee took hostages in Maryland. Among his demands.
    “Find solutions so that people stop breeding as well as stopping using Oil in order to REVERSE Global warming and the destruction of the planet!”

    He said he had an ‘‘awakening” when he watched ‘‘An Inconvenient Truth.”

    The regrettably inevitable outcome of hysterical anti-fossil fuels propaganda, and a contempt for democratic processes that gives perpetrators a sense of self-justification for the Orwellianly-titled “direct action”.

  4. Bjorn Lomborg is a self-proclaimed expert that gets far too much media attention for no good reason. He can probably be best summed up as the Paris Hilton of resource managment and environmental issues.

  5. Mr Wrathall, what one wacko does has no bearing on the truth or otherwise of the matter and nor do their actions make all direct action illegitimate. You are just scapegoating those who raise real concerns about AGW.

    1. Possibly but there was a recent post here about direct action by individuals and groups to combat climate change and the view amongst many regular posters was this was okay. The question then becomes what is acceptable law breaking behaviour. You state that this person over stepped the mark. I’m sure there are many people who would disagree with that position.

      BTW Why does this site persist in the childish rating system? What is actually the point to it?

        1. I never stated that your post did make that linkage. However it was clear that some posters thought that the ends justifies the means such as this little gem.

          “The future wellbeing of my kids is under direct and serious threat. Under those circumstances, what father forgoes action simply because others who should have acted have not?”

          Regardless of what sort of action the poster actually means, (it isn’t clear anyway), the sentiment is certainly along the same path that many use to justify violence for the greater good.

          1. Rubbish. Non-violence is written deeply into the civil disobedience code. Quakers, Thoreau, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Greenpeace. It was absolutely clear that the comment on Hot Topic you reproduce above was made in such a context.

            1. Underneath the cloak of what I’m sure you’d like to imagine is ‘reasonableness’ you really are quite the zealot, aren’t you?

              I’d suggest that you have drawn a ridiculous conclusion – ‘contrived’ is actually a better word – and that in reality you have no idea what you’re talking about.

              I’d also suggest your ongoing fantasies about the nature of ‘the left’ and any ‘slippery slope into violence’ imaginings are simple projections.

      1. The rating system means that contributions from people who are boring the pants off other readers can be condensed and not visible to casual inspection. I happen to be one of those who usually checks these minimised entries, but I’m sure many others don’t.

      2. Peaceful civil disobedience is perfectly fine as far as I’m concerned.

        The “childish” system you dislike is in wide use: frogblog uses it, for one. It’s one way for HT commentariat to express opinion on views, and if that means some posts get hidden (not deleted, just hidden), such is life. The net effect is that you don’t have to wade through nonsense, unless you really want to. I note with interest that the NZ climate realists advocated coming here to vote for the likes of Fone and Dewhurst, but got nowhere.

        1. It is childish because it treats adults as if they can’t handle opposing viewpoints and must be protected from them.

          If you don’t like something don’t read it. If the owners of this blog think their blog is being filled up with irrelevance then either delete posts or ban people from posting.

          If you want to encourage debate on this topic then it would make sense to enable people to see and respond to the wide range of views on it. All you are doing by enabling this ‘feature’ is exposing the prejudices of your average reader.

          1. Imagine the uproar if I started banning people or deleting their opinions! I haven’t got the time or inclination to impose strict moderation on everyone. This system allows anyone to post, and for the majority to decide what stays visible. Simple and effective.

            1. Kiwiblog tried the same system and abandoned it due to it being a silly idea I believe. I can see why some sites like Frogblog have it. They are a political blog and don’t really want in depth discussion from all sides about most of their threads.

              If you want to encourage a wide as debate on the topics you and Bryan raise then having this sort of system is counter-productive. For example I’m the sort of person that is sympathetic to much of the scientific evidence put up on this site but aren’t happy with how much of the agenda of the anti-AGW campaign is being hijacked for idelogical purposes. I believe people should be building as broad a support base as possible.

              I think my view is typical of much of the mainstream in society yet on this site expressing this point of view seems to be frowned upon for some reason. I therefore tend to regard much of the people on this site as intolerant and can’t be bothered. Hence the site becomes exclusive rather than inclusive and you lose ground in trying to get consensus on tackling this issue.

              Now that is your choice obviously. If you are happy with this exclusivity and think you can change opinions following this approach good luck to you. I’d suggest when the campaign to tackle climate change is in the position it is at the moment it doesn’t pay to follow this path though.

  6. Agreed with Ken, but it underscores the very poor choice James Lee made and the negative impact it will have on a cause he professed to support. He was unstable and frankly that’s why I worry more about skeptic extremists resorting to violence as they find themselves more and more marginalized as the evidence becomes even more overwhelming for AGW.

    Wrathall conveniently also failed to mention all the nutters who send death threats and other nasty messages to climate scientists like Mann.

        1. Death threats are something anybody in the public eye with a controversial opinion has to deal with. I don’t think they are limited to one side of the debate or the other.

  7. Having a rating system and deciding to hide unpopular comments are two separate issues to me. I like the ratings as it enables me to give a view when I haven’t the time or inclination to do more. Actually hiding low rated comments is just anoying, as I always want to see what they are anyway. But so long as they are viewable at a single click, there’s no great reason to complain.

  8. What’s the point in the rating system? So you can see who is winning a debate? That is plainly bonkers as it just comes down to what perspective you come from rather than if someone has presented their ideas in a coherent and persuassive manner when you use a crude system as the one here.

    1. From time to time I post completely neutral comments or perhaps one that might be even expected to be favoured by the regulars of this forum. Nevertheless they generally get voted down quite quickly. May I be forgiven for thinking that it is the poster rather than the comment in the post that arouses the ire of so many?

        1. FWIW I never bother to tick a like or dislike icon. I am interested, no matter how daft or puerile some of the replies are, to read them all if i have the time.

      1. From time to time I post completely neutral comments or perhaps one that might be even expected to be favoured by the regulars of this forum. Nevertheless they generally get voted down quite quickly. May I be forgiven for thinking that it is the poster rather than the comment in the post that arouses the ire of so many?

        1/10 rather proves my point!!!!!!!!!

  9. I can see why some sites like Frogblog have it. They are a political blog and don’t really want in depth discussion from all sides about most of their threads.

    That’s crap. frogblog moderates less than kiwiblog and hardly ever bans anyone. The discussion at the time there was how to maintain a civil debate and not desend into the cesspool kiwiblog often is. They are much more enabling of debate so long as it is on the issues and doesn’t get too personal. The rating system was put in place to help users moderate the debate. Like I said, I don’t like hiding comments, but debates rage on frogblog and I can’t see that this has hurt.

  10. Lomborg’s new story, copied by ‘news’papers around the world, is as usual misleading and full of errors:

    “Tokyo coped with 5 metre subsidence since the 1930s, so we can cope with sea level rise as well”. Forgets to mention that subsidence was stopped in 1975 ( What’s more: Tokyo is still 6+ metres above sea level, so what is this supposed to prove?

  11. Gosman, the reply facility seems to have hidden itself on your comment asking what predictions were too cautious, so I’ve returned to the main thread to respond. Once again you ask for a precision which is simply not part of the scientific projections. But it is widely recognised that the IPCC sea level rise projection is likely to be overtaken by ice flow in Greenland and West Antarctica for which they were able to make no allowance, though noting the possibility. Summer sea ice cover in the Arctic also gives every sign of diminishing at a considerably faster rate than even their high emission scenario envisaged. But you can have a look at the variety of the 2007 IPCC projections in chapter 10 of working group 1 here and work out for yourself what weight you want to give them.

    1. The IPCC projections in that document all seem to be further out than where we currently are. I do note that there are some projections though around thermal expansion in oceans etc that are projected from 2000 onwards. How are these tracking then?

      BTW I didn’t ask for the level of precision beyond which you stated had already been met. Remember it was you who claimed that the predictions previously made have been subsequently been proved to be too cautious by the reality. I simply asked you to produce the evidence to back this up.

      1. Gosman: An up to date summary of the evidence was prepared for last year’s Copenhagen conference. I covered it here. If you would care to read that post in full, I provide the full text of the exec summary which gives you what you need. The full report is available FOC, and documents the evidence.

    2. So much faith with so little to support it!

      “But the InterAcademy report matter-of-factly tells the world that an analysis of the IPCC’s third assessment report found only 84% of the source material cited by Working Group 1 was peer-reviewed, only 59% cited by Working Group 2 was, and only 36% cited by Working Group 3 met this standard. (An analysis of the IPCC’s fourth assessment report references, organized by yours truly, produced similar results.)

      Procedures regarding the use of non-peer-reviewed literature are in place, but the report says “it is clear that these procedures are not always followed.” The rules say non-peer-reviewed sources are supposed to be identified as such when listed among the IPCC’s references. Yet the InterAcademy report says it “found few instances of information flagged” in this manner. As in almost none. According to my colleague, Hilary Ostrov, only 6 of the 5,587 non-peer-reviewed references in the 2007 IPCC report were properly identified.”

  12. I’m buying Tony and adelady on the substantive point of this blog and in regard to a sideshow which gosman just now 3.27pm made clear for him —it’s about winning and losing!

    Sticking with the constructive my guess is how ‘friend’ Lomborg is lining himself up with the upcoming Tea Party movers and shakers meme for climate change. In a nutshell this appears to be not to deny global warming so as to claim it occurring by natural cycle/s. There is considerable wealth – like a couple of US oil industry billionaires – behind this development. Yes, and ostentatiously in the present, political development.

    For those interested in the backstory it’s a reasonable guess this thing started with Said(Wegman panel) where in 2007 a paper of hers came to light on the web – qv John Mashey or DC could spring the link from a search there. She does a dos and donts, the former being how the panel saw itself as in-between republicans and democrats etc..

    Likely story, yes I know, but a girl has to try look good even if she is light on boundary values. For Gosman’s benefit, that’s stats.

    Hopefully I’ll have a little time to blog some of these things over soon, along with dissuaded legal action in Virginia against Mann. In related matter. of course.

    1. This sort of conspiratorial nonsense is why much of the anti-AGW struggles to be taken seriously by many in the mainstream.

      There is little evidence that Lomborg is part of some shadowy movement which has connections to the Tea-Party movement in the US.

      As the blog I linked to points out, hardcore AGW skeptics don’t even regard Lomborg as being on the same side and never really have done.

      1. So Gosman, are you joining Joe Fone as a denier of the evidence of a coordinated campaign to reposition global warming as theory rather than fact? I suggest you read Climate Cover Up (linked in the popular posts sidebar), or perhaps this review of that and two other relevant works. When you’ve read those, come back and argue about “conspiratorial nonsense”.

        1. I never stated there wasn’t any organised oppososition to the theory of Climate Change, (although not as organised as possibly some would believe), however it is a long bow to stretch to try and link someone like Lomborg to it. Unless that is you have actual EVIDENCE rather than innuendo.

          1. Do some research, Gosman, before assuming that it’s not “as organised as some would believe”. You demand evidence of warming and its impacts. I demand you read the evidence for a coordinated campaign to delay action.

            Now do a bit of your own research. Look at the people who have promoted Lomborg. Look at the conferences he has spoken at. Some names will jump out at you if you’ve done your background reading…

        2. The only co-ordinated campaign is that of the hansenites trying to blame the oil industry for the sceptics’ questioning their quasi religious beliefs.

      2. I suggest you and your fellow deniers join the cranks over at the Australian Weatherzone – it’s highly hostile to science or logic, and with a good leavening of religious fundamentalists as well. You’re doomed here.

  13. Gosman, you say:

    I never stated that your post did make that linkage. However it was clear that some posters thought that the ends justifies the means such as this little gem.

    “The future wellbeing of my kids is under direct and serious threat. Under those circumstances, what father forgoes action simply because others who should have acted have not?”

    Regardless of what sort of action the poster actually means, (it isn’t clear anyway), the sentiment is certainly along the same path that many use to justify violence for the greater good.

    That’s my quote. Wow, talk about guilt by association. No evidence required apparently. Go here to see the action I took today based on that statement:


  14. asking for evidence, gosman, whats more capitalised evidence.. wow..

    one suggestion made to you above was to do some research, some actual research for yourself.. find, or not, the facts..

    my suggestion is for you to answer properly – or properly answer – what organised oppososition(sic) to the theory of Climate Change has done with the evidence thus far.? AND what, if anything in any way different to that, you would do with the evidence.?

    properly now…

    1. I don’t understand why you have a problem with the concept of opposition to the theory of climate change. Pretty much all major ideas in society have opposition. Some of this is incredibly well organised even though it goes against common Scientific concepts.

      I have been involved in many debates around supposed dangers of Vaccinations and linkages with Autism. Both sides of the debate are well organised and financed. The anti-vaacers, (especially in the United States), are very good at mobilising the media and getting their message out there. People like Jenny McCarthy have caused a massive amount of damage to those people who push the pro-science side of the discussion.

      Does this mean that they have to be lumped into some sort of ‘evil’ conspiracy against Science – Of course they aren’t. Making this sort of linkage is simplistic and unhelpful.

      Equally tying anyone who doesn’t support 100% your particular views on Climate change into the giant conspiracy against mainstream science, such as people seem to be doing with Lomborg, is also simplistic and unhelpful.

      Have a look at this blog posting from Stephen Franks You will note that he is broadly sympathetic to the basic principles of the AGW camp but is turned off by what he sees as extremists position of many. He regards Lomborg as someone who can help policy makers come to decisions on what approach we take in tackling this subject not as someone who is against taking ANY action on climate change.

      If the Climate debate was more inclusive of people with slightly differing views rather than, what is often on evidence here, being black and white about the subject I would suggest the policy making process will have progressed far more than where it currently stands.

      1. Gosman, Stephen Franks is entitled to remain largely ignorant of climate science, but he’s not entitled to fill that gap with assumptions that there must be a lot of exaggeration about. As for his preference for making ourselves richer so that we can better cope with climate change if and when the time comes, he completely overlooks the possibility that we are making ourselves richer by hastening a disaster of a magnitude which may dwarf our attempts to cope with it. It’s nice to be optimistic but foolish to let that inclination trump the growing evidence of danger. I don’t see how it is possible for those who take the science seriously to be inclusive of that degree of cheerful neglect.

  15. Gosman demonstrates an endemic problem in our society and that is a general reluctance to accept specialist knowledge. Why should we accept IPCC data, analysis and conclusions?

    When a skeptic/denialist goes to the dentist who then claims that he has identified decay that needs extraction, a skeptic would challenge such a conclusion, and would first of all want to know what evidence is there that bacteria cause decay. If the bacteria/decay link could be proven to them, they would then question whether the analytical methods used to identify decay were appropriate, after all how do we know that the decay was not some autoradiographical artifact? Even if the skeptic could now be convinced that the decay was real, then where is the evidence that the decay actually causes any harm, after all the skeptic experiences no pain from the decay. By now the skeptic starts to believe that the dentist is just scaremongering. On seeking a second opinion from another dentist he gets the same answer, so this is where the conspiracy theories start brewing, as we all now that dentists are all colluding together just to make money and rip off clients.

    The problem is that after all the effort to explain the evidence, nothing is achieved and the tooth eventually has to be pulled out. After considerable pain and agony the skeptic now has to consider the ignominy of the enormous bill for bridge work. But of course he challenges the dentist’s recommendation for a bridge because the skeptic has not seen any evidence that bridges actually work. But at the same time, the skeptic is reluctant at the suggestion of doing several years at dental school.

    We must be concerned that there are many Gosmans out there, and even if we managed to educate one Gosman every 24 hours, that is still not anywhere near a fast enough rate to turn the tide on climate change. I guess we need a system probably through the media, that enables educating several million Gosmans every 24 hours or the battle will be lost. We can tackle climate change now, but I suspect that it is a narrow window of opportunity before the tooth is a lost cause.

    1. I’m quoting it because it was part of the extract I chose from Friel’s article, and although I was aware of its inadequacies I saw no reason to exclude it. It’s not nonsense. It’s a lay person’s somewhat clumsy expression of what he understands from climate science. And it’s miles better than Lomborg’s bland assurances.

      “Climate scientists have set” would obviously be better expressed as “Some climate scientists consider”. 350ppm is the upper limit beyond which Hansen considers we should regard as dangerous. 2C temperature rise doesn’t strike me as a safe target, but it’s commonly accepted. “prevent a global disaster” may have been more cautiously expressed, but it’s not ridiculous.

      Lay people will sometimes express their climate concern in terms that don’t conform to the protocols of scientists’ discourse. But if you have deeper objections than this, by all means tell us what they are.

      1. I can’t a take a 350ppm target seriously. We have been above that for over two decades and the world hasn’t ended. I can’t see ‘a global climate disaster’ happening in the next ten years (Gareth’s quoted 30 year lag time)

        1. “I can’t take this ‘quit now’ stuff seriously. I’ve been smoking a pack a day for 2 decades and I’m still alive. And I can’t see myself dying of lung-cancer anytime in the next 10 years, either.”

          “I can’t take this wearing PPE stuff seriously. I’ve been spraying my crop without a mask or one of those stupid white bunny suits for 2 decades now, and I feel fine. Don’t reckon it’ll kill me anytime in the next decade, either.”

          I’ve known people who reasoned like that. How do you reckon their story ends?

    2. Gareth,

      It appears that many contributors to your blog know so little about the subject that they do not even know that Stoat Connolley is, or perhaps was, the Mann Gang’s insider in Wikipedia!

  16. Hey Roger, didn’t you say you were a geologist..? If so, you’d know what laterite is.. my dictionary doesn’t have it and.. well, would you mind telling or explaining this geo-substance..?

    1. No problem! Laterite is a mixture of iron and aluminium oxides commonly found in places like Western Australia. A common form is what is known as pisolitic laterite. This consists of pea sized ‘concretions’ of laterite. Typically it is yellow brown in colour. It also acquires unique magnetic polarization when hit by lightning! Your compass can go bonkers in metres!

      [Snipped the gratuitous harrrumphing: GR]

    1. OK but why? On further consideration it is usually more red brown than yellow brown. It is more common in the tropics than elsewhere. Long periods of weathering on a near flat terrain are necessary for its development. When unsealed roads are constructed on it it breaks down into a very fine powder, bulldust, which gets into everything. Bauxite is of similar origin but consists primarily of aluminium oxide. The two may grade into each other but I have not given much thought to that. Ground magnetometer surveys over pisolitic laterite in Western Australia are hopeless. The magnetism remaining after lightening strikes creates ‘noise’ that totally swamps the wanted signal.

        1. No. Laterite is not clay. It is a weathering product of which little but iron and some aluminium oxides remain. Clays are silicates, generally with a layer structure resembling that of the micas.

            1. Your source is wrong. Get a proper textbook. Dana’s Textbook of Mineralogy. See page 507. As I suspected it is related to bauxite. “In the tropics deposits consisting largely of aluminium and ferric hydroxides, with more or less free silica are found in the residual soils. They are known as laterites.” Bauxite and laterite are grouped among the oxides. Clays are silicates.

            2. If you still have a copy of Holmes’ “Principles of Physical Geology” (I think it was you who referred to Holmes earlier) – there is a continuim from laterite to clay – nice graphic illustrating this on pg 256 of the 3rd edition (section on chemical weathering). Wikipedia (yeah, I know, not the most robust of sources) and other websites also say that laterite is a clay. Clays are not solely silicates, eg. see

              My nearest source of science textbooks, other than the ones I own, is three hours away, so I have to rely on the internet for my information – but not blogs.
              Laterites are a common weathering product in tropical and sub-tropical latitudes. Most common source of bauxite, as you say. I find the power of water amazing.

  17. What a pathetic site, hiding comments that are not liked. Could this be because the truth hurts? or just that dissent from the sites popular view is censored. Grow up the lot of you.

  18. Bill,

    I love it how you vote down a quote from Mike Hulme, Professor of Climate change at UEA.

    This is really very insightful as to the mentality of the commenters on this blog.

    Also, I see you voted down “Stoat”

    I guess you really are in a league of your own now, Hot Topicers.

    Really OUT THERE

    1. Hardened fanatic that I am I openly admit that I may well have missed whatever point you were making. However, given that the link you provide brings us to this corker –

      From what Hulme has admitted, the climate change debate is not about truth and physical reality, but a way of making it the “mother of all issues” in order to achieve socialist and Marxist aims, including de-capitalizing the West, and bringing about global governance by an elite. Hulme is delighted to be in the vanguard, and it is paying him handsomely.

      – I suspect that in my blind, intuitive way my primitive reasoning may have taken me straight there!

      I will observe that I generally have limited tolerance of phrases like ‘recognises the socially contingent dimensions of a post-normal science’, no matter who they emanate from, as they seem to belong to ‘Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity.’ The old brain switches off, post-ironically enough.

      I might add, I particularly enjoy the response of commenter ‘David’ to the article at the link you provided –

      Having found your site, not only am I truly impressed with the depth of your scientific argument, but am absolutely terrified by your exposure of the systematic and deliberate misleading and scaring tactics by the ‘warming’ lobby. It is actually far worse than I thought. It amounts to an attempt to take over the world.
      I have taken the step of writing to the British Tory Party (Gordon Brown, the present Prime Minister, is FAR too brainwashed) advising them to ‘step away’ from the matter – and advising them to read your website. There is hope for us all if they take heed.

      Some might think that this piece was an attempt to use ivory-tower babble to put an academic gloss on what is nothing more than a banal, plebeian conspiracy theory, and that this commenter has simply confirmed it, but then they’d have to be as unsophisticated as me.

  19. Do you have an issue with Post Normal Science?

    It is well documented and in the literature.


    As for your “conspiracy theories”, since the global treaty/governance issue (whether it be legally binding carbon caps or whatever) is what most of the commenters on this blog DEMAND. I hardly see it as a conspiracy. The general political theory you espouse is Marxist, though you might give it another name.

    Am I missing something here?

    1. I have an issue with anything that resembles ‘theory‘ full stop – too many arguments with my po-mo academic mates over the years I suspect; I simply have no time for it. Plus all those years reading Orwell.

      We ‘demand’ (de-capped because I couldn’t be bothered with any potential auto- moderation) you say? We’re ‘Marxist’ you say? What was it that Ross Garnaut said when impeccably anti-Marxist Tony ‘Climate Change is Crap’ Abbott proposed massive ‘direct action’ (his words, and hence his irony) on climate change here in Australia rather than Garnaut’s proposed ETS? Roughly he’d ‘rather assumed we’d be using the market because he wasn’t aware we were becoming a Stalinist state’!?

      Give it a rest! You can, of course, inflate the word ‘Marxist’ into whatever state of perennial unmeaning you want – basically any market intervention becomes ‘Marxism’ (outside of the good-old military-industrial corporate welfare state, of course) – this has certainly happened in the US and a fat lot of good it’s done them!

      None of this will change the fact that the piece at your first link above was absurd, pseudo-intellectual tin-foil-hat raving fully worthy of the ‘Only God can regulate CO2’ fringe of Tea Party. I definitely have no time for it. We live in a veritable sea of information, I’m not obliged to wallow about in every dreary, shallow backwater…

      (As if the ‘From what Hulme has admitted’ quote I provided above wasn’t ding dong enough, the bloody piece only goes on to describe Genesis 3’s account of the Serpent’s temptation of Eve as

      an account of the very first post-normal science experiment, pitting against ultimate truth a lying agenda and narrative with an ‘extended peer community’ and ‘extended facts’ in the pursuit of power

      Can you really not see this is simply crazy?)

      And let me see if I’ve got this right; Post Normal Science exists because ‘it is well documented in the literature’? (getting back to Orwell I’m tempted to add ‘because it has been proven by science, Comrades, science!’) So, if you know PNS exists because it is ‘well documented’, does AGW, with its far more overwhelming documentation and far greater pedigree in the actual sciences, exist, then?

  20. Bill,
    Are you denying the existence of PNS and its role in climate science?

    If you believe that climate science is following some other scientific methodology, (e.g Popperian) then I am eager to hear about it.

    1. Unlike you and your soulmates in the CSC and similar groups, I’m not a parrot. You have already been adequately challenged here – they have been challenged to answer elementary questions after mounting their smear attacks on NIWA and reputable scientists in general, and have failed to do so – because said attacks have no foundation in science or logic. So far there’s no evidence that you have anything new or interesting to say.

        1. Plenty philosophically, judging by just a couple of sampled viewpoints. You appear to support de Freitas, the nonsense advisor to the CSC. Your position on oil supplies and usage appears to be exactly that of the familiar coalition which includes CSC amongst its propagandists. The onus is on you to prove any significant points of difference between your views and those of the CSC, Dewhurst, R2D2, tez, australis and the others from the congregation of “sceptics”.

          1. “The onus is on you to prove any significant points of difference between your views and those of the CSC”

            That’s certainly a very interesting take on things.
            I have never heard that before

  21. As for ignorance,
    I was trying to engage in a discussion of Post-Normal Science, which bill seems to deny the existence of.
    The “shallow dreary backwater” that he described (“Climate Change and the Death of Science”) is one of the most quoted articles on the topic. It was linked to by Delingpole recently, so I imagine the traffic went up quite a bit.
    Naturally, I expect the mere mention of the “D” word will bring you all out in a fit of giggles.

    If “bill” is not interested in “theory”, that’s too bad.

    BTW, the “Ph” in PhD is short for “Philosophy.

    If you don’t understand the scientific method, then you don’t understand science

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