Climate Science Glossary

Term Lookup

Enter a term in the search box to find its definition.


Use the controls in the far right panel to increase or decrease the number of terms automatically displayed (or to completely turn that feature off).

Term Lookup


All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

Home Arguments Software Resources Comments The Consensus Project Translations About Support

Bluesky Facebook LinkedIn Mastodon MeWe

Twitter YouTube RSS Posts RSS Comments Email Subscribe

Climate's changed before
It's the sun
It's not bad
There is no consensus
It's cooling
Models are unreliable
Temp record is unreliable
Animals and plants can adapt
It hasn't warmed since 1998
Antarctica is gaining ice
View All Arguments...

New? Register here
Forgot your password?

Latest Posts


We’ll keep tweeting (for now) but have also started tooting.

Posted on 14 December 2022 by SkS-Team

“Déjà vu all over again.” Another run of ethical calculus. Not so very long ago and on the heels of one or another specially offensive transgression, Skeptical Science had to  search our hearts: Is there a compelling reason to help Facebook with its business plan, by maintaining a presence on the platform? Now we're asking the same question about Twitter. If you'd like to cut directly to "there's a better way" we have a section for you right here about Mastodon, what might be termed a "post-legacy," improved social networking service.

Recent events at Twitter are causing us to again ask familiar questions, but with a twist. For reasons we've previously explored we continue to maintain a presence on Facebook. Facebook goes through the motions of window dressing ruthless commercial practices for the purpose of making money. Expedient cosmetics set (admittedly loose) brackets on what’s acceptable to say on Facebook. On the other hand,  Elon Musk’s recent acquisition was launched with the explicit intent of normalizing hate speech, promoting the worst of human nature. Fertilizing and cultivating ugly human nature at its worst is how Musk’s sophomoric philosophy on “free speech” unpacks, as a practical matter. 

Skeptical Science engages with folks via Twitter. What's our responsibilty in all this, in the big and small pictures? What should we do? Leave? Stay? Prepare to leave but acknowledge the complications and trade-offs inherent in that decision? At a minimum, we should think it through.

There are many reasons to be offended by developments at Twitter. A lot of Twitter employees suffered direct material harm as a result of being let go from their posts. The idea of an entire culture invested with the spirit, energy and relationships of real people being sold as chattel and then brutally reshaped by a tyrant is disturbingly anachronistic, feudal. Worst of all, folks who have made Twitter part of their daily lives are being emotionally harmed by others feeling permission granted to injure.

A healthy instinct in the face of "that's disgusting" is to be repelled by Twitter, to back away. Not least, self-respect is closest to home: “why am I participating in this horror?” After that, “what culpability am I taking on, by participating?”  To feed Twitter with time, energy and attention without an urgent purpose is arguably a serious mistake. At minimum it's a decision dominated by dilemma.

Is leaving Twitter a simple choice, and what if not? As with Facebook the very same personal investments that make the platform viable are powerfully binding, for many people. Social circles have limited portability. “Just” move to another platform isn’t necessarily easy or a practicably reasonable demand; we’re social animals, self-exile is a frightening thing— in a social circle, who’s going to jump first? In reality some proportion of users will find this very challenging. It’s safe to say that a lot of people will stick with Twitter, only with increased vulnerability to a variety of malignities. We can already see this as a matter of plain facts. Here, "a lot" likely means millions.

For Skeptical Science we’re left on the horns of a sadly familiar dilemma. The half-baked purpose of Musk’s acquisition is guaranteed to mean that our corrective services in the face of misinformation and cultivated synthetic ignorance will be more urgently necessary on Twitter. More than guaranteed: added requirement is  already delivered.  Yet staying “feeds the beast,” to some extent. We need to assess: do we cause less net harm by retreating from Twitter, or more?

Per prior history there’s a “civilian” population at Twitter that isn’t going to evacuate in a hurry and is in need of protection, at least for some period of time. We need look no farther than Facebook for evidence of that. As with Facebook, we can hope that normal people leave Twitter, but we can’t plan on hope. Checking Facebook's user statistics, we can see that "just leave" just doesn't work. Hope alone doesn't work.

Skeptical Science’s entire purpose is to combat bunk about climate science. The climate science communications community already does a lousy job of penetrating spaces where it’s most needed. Here’s “most needed” staring us in the face. How does abandoning the field in a war involving a civilian population in harm’s way provide an identifiable net benefit? 

Symbolism is important, has purpose and weight, but symbolism can be outweighed. For most people– particularly those there with no particular purpose other than self-promotion etc.--  the symbolism of leaving Twitter vs Mastodon users, 217 million versus 5.6 millionTwitter will (should?) be the most massive component of a decision. Our assessment is that for Skeptical Science, symbolism doesn't outweigh mission. We have specific, urgent needs to fulfill on Twitter, and our symbolic departure will leave a growing, measurable amount of harm. 

Thinking about all of these factors and weighing: we’re sorry to say that we’ll be pinching our noses and staying on Twitter, for the time being. Readers are welcome to suggest how we might establish a threshold of “Twitter is dead enough” below which we can conscionably fold our Twitter tent. But unfortunately, “just” leave isn’t an option right now.

So, that’s all fairly depressing. But now– good news. 

"And now for something completely different"

Mastodon artworkSome time ago a brilliant person created a thing called “Mastodon,” a social networking (not social media per se!) platform specifically designed to be what social networking as most of us came to know it should have been in the first place: a public service, run by the public, for the benefit and good of the public. It sounds head-smackingly obviously better than what we’re more familiar with. But Mastodon arrived long after first-movers seized the internet social space, leaving social media/networking ironically as the victim of the network effect and its lockin outcome, stuck in a state of objectives conflicted with the public good– and awful mediocrity. 

The shock effect of Elon Musk’s trampling of Twitter is causing a reassessment of old habits for many Twitter users, producing an inadvertent benefit of openings for substantial improvements.

Leaving a rearguard at Twitter, Skeptical Science has joined what can fairly be called a stampede to Mastodon, where we can be found on the “instance” (server) as As the instance handle implies, scicomm is mostly but not all about science, and communicating science. There are many other Mastodon instances, covering an overlapping array of special-to-general interests; for us scicomm was the cultural concentration best suited. Scicomm is one of many individual "states" in the Mastodon federation, each with local culture but open borders of communications.

Overall– even for die-hard skeptics of what we accidentally came to know as social media– Mastodon and its galaxy of interconnected instances and cultures is pretty delightful, worth a look. Mentally clicking on the concept feels a bit like understanding the world wide web for the first time.  

A good introduction and how-to for Mastodon is here. Our immediate advice for current social networking users: as always, don’t let neophobia block better enjoyment, more happiness. And if you can, move to a nicer neigbhorhood. 

0 0

Printable Version  |  Link to this page


Prev  1  2  

Comments 51 to 95 out of 95:

  1. HI Rob,

    Yes, you can tell folks to leave or stay at your home or business. You can't go out in the street and tell them what to say or not. Online is out in the street. Thats the tolerance part. I thought we were stasis on this. Thx D

    0 0
  2. peppers

    What you fail to understand is, that we can make rules for what can be posted as comments on our website, it's called the comments policy and when you and others registered you agreed to abide by it. One of the rules states:

    No sloganeering. Comments consisting of simple assertion of a myth already debunked by one of the main articles, and which contain no relevant counter argument or evidence from the peer reviewed literature constitutes trolling rather than genuine discussion. As such they will be deleted.

    So, we expect commenters to make sure that they are not simply repeating already and long-debunked myths about human-caused global warming before posting a comment. If they still do and we delete the comment, it's not censoring by any stretch of the imagination and it's also not an infringement on the commenter's right to free speech as others have already pointed out. Our website, our rules. Nobody is forcing you to post comments here after all.

    As a general aside: We also have a rule for "All comments must be on topic." and I'm not really sure how many of the comments posted in this thread are actually on topic as far as our Twitter & Mastodon involvement go. How about calling it quits instead of running - or posting - in circles?

    1 0
  3. BaerbelW

    That was not the angle of the topic. In your sense, yes you can. There was a prior post about harm and retraining folks not agreeing, etc.

    The only thing I would add would be about being welcoming to new posters. Its frustrating to hear the same ole, over again. But generally newly in's will bring those. And it will feel like work to repeat it all, but you may convert more. This is a small point.

    And I have just said its best to close. There is a lot of disagreement around free speech Im surprised to find. Maybe there isnt as broad a right to speak anymore. 

    We recently heard about some peoples calling something foreign disinformation, censoring it and falsely advancing their group. I thought that was cheating and they were acting badly. They quelled free speech. Maybe this is just ok now and thats the new baseline. I hope to always hear the truth here.

    Merry Christmas, D

    0 0
  4. @53 Peppers  ~ you are under a severe misapprehension.

    There has never been a human society with a broad "right to speak" (in the sense you mean: of unrestricted broad freedom).  You are imagining a Golden Age which never actually existed.

    Not even in the micro-society of your own household is there an unrestricted freedom to be abusive/ insulting/ threatening/ demeaning, etcetera.  Or if your household does indulge in such behavior, then I confidently predict an early demise of the household.

    No "broad right" in the time of Socrates or Cyrus, or in any century before or since.   Not even in the time of Jefferson or Lincoln, Eisenhower or Bush snr.   Every functioning society has restrictions  ~ restrictions applied through good laws and/or bad repressive laws, through politeness or customary etiquette, or through plain old common sense and decency.

    Peppers, you are out of touch with human reality.  Please come down to Earth, and have a major re-think of your opinions.

    Twitter and free-speech/censorship are very much the topic of this thread.  The Original Post said it well, though narrowly.   IMO it is the right decision for Twitterati to stay on Twitter and continue to fight the good fight . . . preferably without investing a debilitating amount of effort.   Conceivably, the pendulum will eventually swing in a healthier direction sometime in the future.   [Post-Musk!]    Mastodon deserves to thrive, but may not be able to achieve the more universal usefulness of Twitter.

    1 0
  5. Here's a footnote for the problem of unrestrained "communication." Trolling now consumes much time with the outright repeating of the same untruths.  Trolls are spamming the Internet, and it makes communicating to learn difficult, time-consuming.

    0 0
  6. Peppers @51... "You can't go out in the street and tell them what to say or not. Online is out in the street."

    No one is doing that. What seems to be the issue for those complaining of "woke" and "cancel" culture is that people are criticizing your opinions. Thus, what I'm saying is, this isn't about free speech, per se. It's that some people want the "freedom" to say awful things without criticism. And that's not how free speech works.

    Free speech is a double edged sword. If you want the freedom to speak how you wish, you have to accept others speaking as they wish in response.

    0 0
  7. Peppers @53... "Maybe there isnt as broad a right to speak anymore."

    The right to speak hasn't changed. You are still fully in your right to say anything you like, but likewise, people are free to criticize what you say. And if you say something people find offensive or damaging on their property or in their online forums, they are free to have you removed.

    The only thing that has changed in recent times is that people using hateful language and conveying gross misinformation believe they should be immune from criticism. And that's just not how it works.

    0 0
  8. Peppers @ 51: "Online is out in the street."

    To begin, this is clearly wrong on several fronts.

    • The Internet is not publicly-operated. People pay their ISP to get access, or get it for "free" from commercial establishments that build the cost into the products they sell.
    • Most web sites, social media platforms, etc. are not publicly-operated. Each business or private entity that chooses to place information or a discussion forum on-line gets to choose what sort of open discussion they are willing to allow. They may choose to not allow any public commenting at all. They may choose varying moderation policies, such as "all comments will be moderated before being made visible". People may or may not have to register. SkS chooses a system where users must register, comments go live immediately, but are subject to moderation after the fact, as outlined in the Comments Policy.
    • No "online" resource is forced to allow anyone to say anything they want, whenever they want. It's closer to "freedom of the press" - a freedom granted to anyone that has the money to own a press. Try walking into your local paper with your manifesto and demanding that they print it for you in tomorrow's paper. Please take a video of them laughing their heads off and post it to Youtube where we can all get a laugh.

    Even if "online" was like "out on the street", nobody has the freedom to walk around saying anything they like to anyone they like wherever they like. I"ve previously mentioned libel and slander laws. I will now mention "public nuisance" laws. If your behaviour (even just spoken word) significantly affects the enjoyment of public spaces by others, you will be subject to legal restrictions.

    I live in Canada. The relevant statue is in the Criminal Code, Causing disturbance, indecent exhibition, loitering, etc. Quoting in part:

    Every one who

    • (a) not being in a dwelling-house, causes a disturbance in or near a public place,
      • (i) by fighting, screaming, shouting, swearing, singing or using insulting or obscene language,
      • (ii) by being drunk, or
      • (iii) by impeding or molesting other persons,
    • (b) openly exposes or exhibits an indecent exhibition in a public place,
    • (c) loiters in a public place and in any way obstructs persons who are in that place, or
    • (d) disturbs the peace and quiet of the occupants of a dwelling-house by discharging firearms or by other disorderly conduct in a public place or who, not being an occupant of a dwelling-house comprised in a particular building or structure, disturbs the peace and quiet of the occupants of a dwelling-house comprised in the building or structure by discharging firearms or by other disorderly conduct in any part of a building or structure to which, at the time of such conduct, the occupants of two or more dwelling-houses comprised in the building or structure have access as of right or by invitation, express or implied,

    is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

    If Peppers truly believes that "free speech" gives people absolute freedom to speak, how would he react if he and his family went to a public park to have a picnic, and someone came up with a megaphone, started hurling insults and obscene taunts at him and his family, drowning out their attempts to have a nice family conversation, then followed them to the parking area as they tried to leave, followed them home, continued to hurl insults at them from public space in the street. etc?

    To try to get back on-topic, the original post is about SkS considering its options with respect to participating in Twitter or not. Elon Musk paid $44B so that he could get to make the rules for his on-line social media site. Elon Musk has made claims about wanting a forum where "free speech" is allowed. What things has Elon done to make this so?

    It certainly sounds like Elon wants "free speech" for some, but not "free speech" for all. Well, it's his company, his rules. But Apple is not infringing on Elon's "free speech" rights if they decide they do not want to do business with him.

    And it is perfectly reasonable for SkS to question whether they want to be part of Twitter.

    0 0
  9. Guys, I agree with you on most things, but you might be misinterpreting what Peppers is saying on free speech. The trouble is his stuff is a bit opaque. Just have a closer read and read between the lines.

    I believe hes saying he is strongly in favour of free speech in the public domain but he does accept some limitations / censoring, such as laws against inciting criminal activity, defamation law, and moderation policy forbidding name calling, off topic and spamming. He is pretty obviously saying keep limitations very minimal, and dont censor peoples opinions even if they are crazy or a bit unpleasant. I dont want to have to speak for others like this, but it needs something to stop things going off the rails. Although all individual comments are interesting to me.

    I'm inclined to agree Peppers on the free speech issue (but not much else). Free speech seems very fundamental and having too many limitations on free speech is a big problem. Facebook and Twitter have tried to eliminate misinformation and so called hate speech, and they mean well but it needs an army of people and could easily be abused to delete content they simply disagree with. George Orwells novel 1984 sums up the problem perfectly.

    Its better to have the nonsense largely out in the public domain where it can be debunked. Maybe with a few exceptions that are life threatening (promoting that "covid is harmless"). I can accept censoring that sort of thing  if experts are saying it and so could be taken seriously.

    And nobody has to host sub groups like 8chan devoted to obvious and blatant  denigration of minority groups that is bordering on inciting violence. A bit of commonsense does come into it. 

    This websites moderation policy seems pretty good and sophisticated, and its limits on speech are fairly minimal and appropriate. People are also given plenty of warnings.

    Quite willing to change my view if anyone can convince me with sensible reasoning.


    0 0
  10. Nigelj , please look back through Peppers's earlier comments.  Yes, there is a lot of muddled thinking ~ but he is simply not producing an intellectual argument, he is producing an emotional argument.  # Absolutes.  No gradations.   Nuffing Wot Affects Me & Mine.   Culture wars.  Identity politics.  Perfection is impossible, so don't even try for Good.  Because Wokism.  Because Whatever.

    Nigelj, he just hasn't thought it through, and does not wish to.

    0 0
  11. nigelj:

    The problem with reading between the lines in Peppers posts is that you can find bits that show him sort of agreeing with those reasonable controls, but then he posts additional stuff that sounds like it comes from a point of "everything is fair game" viewpoint. Add in a few bits that look like "everyone's opinion is as good as any other, and there is no right answer" and it looks like an apologist's perspective on defending the behaviour you think he (Peppers) agrees is wrong.

    There is a tremendous inconsistency in Peppers' stated positions. He uses "free speech", "censorship", "woke movement", "cancel culture", and similar terms in exactly the sort of pejorative dog-whistle style that is toxic for reasonable discussion. I am willing to entertain the possibility that he does not realize he is doing this - but he really needs to sit back and think about his position(s) and how to choose to communicate them.

    0 0
  12. Clarification to my commet @59. By "public domain" I meant the street and also websites, twitter, facebook and the like as opposed to peoples private homes. I'm just using the popular definition of "public domain" here, as opposed to the technical definition. Obviously websites are privately owned.

    0 0
  13. Eclectic @60, I largely agree with you, but my comment was restricted to peppers views on censoring of free speech, and he clearly does accept some limits. So its not black and white for him. 

    I've expalined my views on free speech in my previous comment, and that limits should be fairly minimal in public doman places like websites. Would be interested in your feedback on that even if you violently disagree. If you have a spare moment.  I'm wrestling a bit with the issue because free speech is important, but the internet has turbo charged the spread of misinformation and this is very bad news. Reconciling the two is not looking easy.

    Bob Loblaw @61

    Yes. Like I said his views are rather opaque!


    0 0
  14. nigelj @ 63.

    ...but web sites are not "public spaces". Web sites are more like publications, such as newspapers. Publicly visible for reading, but not necessarily publicly accessible for writing.

    Newspapers usually invite Letters to the Editor, but very few are actually published. They may accept unsolicited opinion pieces, but few of those will make it into print. Newspapers with online material may or may not allow comments, and these may or may not be moderated. It's up to them.

    "Free speech" means that someone can set up their own web page. It does not mean that any web page needs to allow any material from anyone. "Free speech" does not mean that anyone has to listen to you or pay attention to you.

    Shouting "my free speech was censored/suppressed/violated" if a web service refuses to allow it is not my idea of "free speech".

    Shouting "my free speech was censored/suppressed/violated" when someone else says something against what you said is also not my idea of "free speech".

    Far too often, it seems that the people shouting "my free speech was censored/suppressed/violated" are really wanting to speak unopposed - they want their "free speech", but they don't want others to have the same right (whatever that "right" is). Do as I say, not as I do.

    You can argue whether Twitter is a service that must accept all and everything - I raised the issue of a "common carrier" in comment #11. Web services need to be careful with what they allow and support, as they may become legally liable for material they publish. I'm not sure Alex Jones is the "free speech" model we want to follow.

    0 0
  15. Bob Loblow @64, 

    "Shouting "my free speech was censored/suppressed/violated" if a web service refuses to allow it is not my idea of "free speech"."

    I agree with you if you mean the website is refusing to allow people to post any comments at all, or refusing to allow abusive, or off topic comments. Websites are as you say privately owned and totally entitled to do that,  and it doesnt suppress opinion which is the essence of what matters.

    But what about the website refusing to allow comments or opinions that they just dont like,  for example climate denialist comments, warmist comments, comments that promote creationism or that criticise evolution, or that express hatred,  or are are factually innacurate, (eg the world is flat or covid has only killed 20,000 people globally) ?  They are entitled to do that if they want, but to me that is suppressing free speech. Its intruding a long way into what opinions are allowed, and is censorship that goes right against the liberal world view. Although I might make an exception for the covid claim on grounds that blatant lies like that can fool some gullable people and end up killing lots of people.

    I'm trying to get some sense of where you think the line in the sand should be drawn on moderation of what people post. I confess I'm having some trouble deciding just how far websites should go with that form of moderation, although I did try to express what I think above thread and it leans towards minimal moderation. Yes its their business if they are privately owned, but to me that is not the point. 

    "Shouting "my free speech was censored/suppressed/violated" when someone else says something against what you said is also not my idea of "free speech"."

    Agree totally. See this all the time, unfortunately. I constantly challenge these people and point out they are confusing things and their claim is illogical.

    0 0
  16. Nigelj @63 ,

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year !  . . . or should I more wokely say "Happy Holidays" ?

    Judging by his earlier comments, "he" is clearly very much opposed to any limitations/restrictions in the public sphere [includes privately-owned media platforms].    In trying to untangle later comments of his, it still seems to me that he is emotionally attached to the idea "Four Legs Good; Censorship Bad".   Outright.  And, he completely steered away from debating any of my instances of the desirability of censorshipping.

    Putting all that aside, I return to the ideas that:

    (A)  since censorship is essential in a functioning society, the real question is where the (fuzzy?)  line is drawn.    A difficult matter.   IMO, the practical criterion/standard must be common sense.   Of which there is not enough in the world.   Yet a sort of committee of respectable Google employees is an example of a good start [Musk-free].   Not perfect ~ but like "democracy" it is perhaps the best we can do.   ~And disagreements should be devolved to the Lowest Common Denominator level (so to speak).

    and (B)  there is a strong reason for censorship in the public sphere (and it is reinforced by the range and flash-fire speed of modern electronic communications).   It is not that our delicate ears may be offended by statements which are unsuited to genteel Drawing Room conversations.   But it is that multiplier effect which I mentioned earlier.  The madness of crowds, the amplification of the more evil tendencies in human nature. 

    ~ Whether by open statements, or by dog-whistles : the Overton Window of thoughts & actions can shift rapidly in an evil direction.   (Witness recent hate crimes and recent political events.)

    In other words, there should not be vastly different censorship thresholds in the various large & small social settings (public or private).    Sadly, it is human nature ~ but minimal censorship produces minimal health in society.   Mr Alex Jones is just one tip of a nasty & dangerous iceberg.

    0 0
  17. Eclectic @66

    The woke label annoys me as well, however these days Im quite happy to be labelled woke and I tend to respond that yes Im woke because I dont like bigotry and racism. Whats wrong with that? They grind their teeth about that.

    I promoted the normally accepted minimal constraints on free speech, and Peppers did agree, but one gets the suspicion its with reluctance and a certain lack of commitment.

    Thanks for your clear statements on the censorship issue. I have contemplated the same approach to things and I tend to agree it comes down to commonsense. However I just dont know if I trust some team at google or whatever organisation to use much commonsense. There is enormous possibility of over moderation, and of shutting down discussion and sending it onto the dark web to fester, or non moderated websites, and thus reinforcing tribalism and group think and  of further alienating the conservative leaning section of society by shutting down their views. And you have people like Musk who clearly lean towards very free speech.

    Our government has actually made racist speech illegal. This all well intended and I loathe racist views, but as a result some of our websites wont allow the public to post comments on articles discussing racial issues, and also issues connected to gender, presumably because they are afraid of transgressing the law  by letting a bad comment slip through their moderation, or getting a lot of complaints. This is a serious unintended consequence of censorship. Some racial issues should be discussed and debated, sensitively of course.

    So yeah I totally get where you are coming from, but censorship needs a light touch and a lot of commonsense.

    Existing long standing laws against inciting criminal activity can be used to shut down the worst of the hate speech. Sometimes we already have the tools, and generally accepted tools but just dont use them well enough.

    0 0
  18. Nigelj @67 :

    Agreed.  Woke is nowadays an ugly term.   AFAICT it started as a somewhat light-hearted label, and then was seized by the non-woke and used as an all-purpose bludgeon in the identity-politics game.   The word has now become almost meaningless, other than distinguishing "them" from "us the good people".

    Sad when any meaningful word loses its meaning.  For example, in the USA the word "socialist" has no actual meaning for 90% of the population.  It is just a bludgeon used by many politicians.   Impossible to have a genuine discussion using that word, because the hearer automatically short-circuits his brain into "evil enemy ... evil enemy ... Spawn of Satan ... etc."   [Shades of "1984" language-shaping, eh!]    And yet the same hearer is happy to accept his farm subsidy or his Social Security cheque or his Medicare-ized hospital treatment, etcetera.

    Possibly, in time, the term Woke can be rehabilitated into something light-hearted and useful . . . by overusing the word and applying it to everything in sight (and especially to right-wing attitudes & activities).   By making it so greasy that it can't be grasped as a weapon.


    Back on topic ~ for Twitter etcetera I would prefer to be over-censored than under-censored.   Much less harm done, that way.   Those who wish to have an intelligent public conversation, can find indirect ways & allusions to discuss issues (by treading a tad carefully).   And the truly anti-social citizens will always continue to use their echochambers & dark spaces  ~  but they won't get condoned or "normalized" in the public gaze.

    To some extent, laws follow public sentiment.  But the converse also applies  ~ and George Bernard Shaw points out how laws can shape public sentiment, over time.   Useful, to start with good laws.  (Think: the Anti-Slavery laws).

    0 0
  19. I hope that Skeptical Science does not leave Twitter. I'm a mature, educated adult, an English Professor and am world travelled. I can tell the difference between types of speech and am not uncomfortable having to sift through such material to get to where I would like to go. I do have a neighborhood family that chooses to live in a home surrounded by "refuse" and the whiff of marijuana, but I can navigate around that without analyzing who's being "harmful" or "hateful" or "pompous" or "full of rhetoric"...and I'm hopeful all of you can navigate around your definitions of "odious" as well. 

    0 0
  20. I'm usually the perennial optimist, but when it comes to Twitter I genuinely believe it's a lost cause. The fundamental business model is predicated on the need for revenues, by way of the fact it is a centralized business with investors and a large base of employee/engineers. The way they generate revenue is to code algorithms so that interations between users generate maximum activity to generate the most revenue possible. That maximum activity is primarily going to be a function of users attacking each other. But the company has to keep a lid on the exchanges in order to maintain advertisers for revenue.

    I think Twitter was (prior to Musk) doing it's best to thread that needle, and that meant no one was ever really happy with the situation. Elon Musk's version of the business model was merely to come in and take one side on all arguments without fully understanding what he was doing. 

    My personal opinion is that Twitter is a total loss. I think it will be out of business in the next 12 to 18 months.

    0 0
  21. I have been with Skeptical Science for about 6 months. I joined on a recommendation of a colleague of mine, a climate science associate who is a peer review committeeperson serving as Editor for the authors of a new study to be published in spring. I'm struck by the plethora of social science commentary on this site, contrasted to my expectation to be exposed to peer-reviewed hard science. I wanted to see commentary on the progress of climate science, instead it seems like the comments belong in a compendium of social science...which I have a full library of, behind my desk in English 301. I do appreciate the expansive listing of peer-reviewed studies precedent to the "comments" rhetoric, but I was hoping to see commentary about the studies, not so much about political science, ethics, or philosophy.

    0 0
  22. Slumgullionridge @71 : 

    Fair enough.   SkepticalScience was set up as an educational resource.   With its long list of Most Used Climate Myths , it provides you (or anyone) a reasonably quick & efficient way to gain scientific knowledge about climate.   You can wade through the Myths one after the other, in turn.   Or if you already have moderately good background knowledge, then you can pick out those Myths which fill the gaps (and read the discussions of the peer-reviewed studies, to be found in the comments columns there).    I must confess I have not found a better website for that educational purpose.

    The problem then becomes: what do you do when you have achieved a high passing grade in the comprehension of climate science?   I do not mean by that, the achievement of mastery & expertise in all the minutiae & technicalities,   I mean, enough knowledge to see that the mainstream climate science is correct  ~ and the skeptics/contrarians haven't a leg to stand on (despite their repetitious assertions).

    I guess you then consider retiring to your cabin by the lake, and dismissing the climate problem from your mind.   Or you consider spending some time on the subsequent aspect  ~ what to actually do, in terms of political science, ethics, and so on.   Plenty of room there for hot-headed conversations . . . most of which crop up in the ephemeral/daily topic threads (such as the one where you are now posting).

    Some amount of rhetoric & pomposity is almost inescapable in discussing political matters.    ~ Just the nature of the beast.

    0 0
  23. Slumgullionridge @71:

    Note that Skeptical Science is a volunteer-operated group. Resources are limited. Even our stock of "Myth Rebuttals" is hard to keep up-to-date.

    We do publish a weekly "New Research" summary, but much of that content is automatically generated. As Eclectic notes, our strength is in our stock of rebuttals.

    Comments are driven by whoever decides to comment, and yes it is often difficult to see detailed scientific discussion. Too often it is the same old, tired, uniformed myths being repeated by people that are not willing to read the material they are posting under (or the comments they get back).

    0 0
  24. nigelj @ 64 asks "But what about the website refusing to allow comments or opinions that they just dont like?"

    SkS is often accused of that, but deletion of portions or entire comments usually starts after someone has posted the same thing several times and is not listening to answers.

    ...but in the web writ large, so what? Web sites can filter their material any way they want. Free speech suppressed? No. There are lots of other web sites someone can post to, and they can start their own web site if they want. "Free speech" does not entitle someone to force an unwilling audience to hear them.

    News organizations are quite capable of being extremely selective in what they publish. Is Fox News "fair and balanced"?  Is Tucker Carlson interested in presenting a balance discussion of topics? There are lot of examples of major "news" organizations with terrible bias on many issues.

    Forty years ago, I worked overseas for several months, and I used shortwave radio to get news. Three sources were easy to pick up (strong signals), and I categorized them this way:

    1. Voice of America, with a message that communists were all going to rot in hell.
    2. Radio Moscow, with a message that capitalists were all going to rot in hell.
    3. Evangelical Christian stations, with a message that nearly everyone was going to rot in hell.

    Bias in information sources on the Internet is a serious problem, but it is not new, and it is not a "Free Speech" issue.

    All these commercial sources are selling something. Bums in the seats/eyes on the screen - grist for the advertisers.

    Twitter will survive in some form as long as advertisers want to associate their products with the material that brings in readers that will buy products. As discussed in the OP, SkS needs to decide the pros and cons of continuing to participate in Twitter.

    Limits to "Free Speech" come in when governments enact legislation to regulate content. As we have discussed, there have always been limits to "Free Speech" - libel and slander laws, creating a public disturbance, hate speech, etc. The Internet is a new beast - in part because it is international, in part because of its speed of spreading information, in part because individual users do not risk facing their "opponents" in the flesh world. If some people's behaviour in the real world matched their online behaviour, riots would ensue and people would end up in jail.

    Not an easy problem.

    0 0
  25. Rob and all,

    Each have a proper point and Rob is close to my premise. And Rob, I love your 'rot in hell' story!

    I was relating to truth. This also means scientific truth, and explains why the scientific process never closes to new input, angles or ideas.

    I perfectly understand that SS is hampered with a repeat of the same 3-4 dozen premises which are not bringing new in, AND that area comes under abuse by ill intending visitors.

    Folks can limit speech, but at the cost of new input and at the cost of working ever further and less forward toward truth. Staying open minded is a bother, a torment even, and thats where being tolerant comes in play.

    The educated minds here may like this Einsteinian favorite of mine. 2 boys, one on a train slowing moving and one on the ground. The train boy throws a ball straight out. The boy on the train sees it travel straight out and down. The boy on the ground sees the ball fall in a great barabolic curve overhead. The key to this universal example is that the experience of each boy, as different as they each were, are both perfectly, defendably and repeatably true. Each can argue til the end of days, but it was the same one event for both, and both are right.

    I believe that I want input. I did not bring the topic up of death threats and obvious 'Imminent crime" exceptions to free speech, and those who have brought that up ( correctly but) have missed my point.

    Bob, my wife adds that folks do not act in person like online. Maybe some form of liability online may be coming, to inhibit people from acting badly. The ability to sue or something. Then they hide their identity... Not an easy problem.

    Best all. D

    0 0
  26. What is my "rot in hell" story, Peppers?

    0 0
  27. Peppers @75... "Staying open minded is a bother, a torment even, and thats where being tolerant comes in play."

    As the saying goes, "It's good to keep an open mind, but not so much that your brain falls out."

    In other words, an open mind is far from "a bother." It's fundamental to the scientific process. Here at SkS, what is expected is that you bring substantive points to the table and be able to defend your position with the backing of published research. Making up your own theories on the spot doesn't fly. Repeating unsubstantiated theories doesn't fly. You need to do your homework, do your research, and thoroughly think through what you're saying.

    0 0
  28. This new NPR item "Why Republican elites backed Trump: power, belonging ... and voter pressure" is about one person's experience and personal learning journey through the harmful changes of the Republican Party, changes that predated Trump becoming the leader of the GOP.

    There appear to be parallels to the SkS Twitter dilemma. To be helpful requires figuring out how to continue to be helpful when an organization you have developed an identity within drifts towards increased harmful misunderstanding, is pulled away from the pursuit of learning/teaching to be less harmful and more helpful to Others.

    Ultimately, the harmful devolution of an organization may get to the point where efforts to help reduce harmful misunderstanding among the members becomes a waste of time. It is helpful to build a presence in alternative organizations. Those alternatives are then ready to be more fully moved to should the harmfully devolving organization and its members become increasingly resistant to Bayesian Learning.

    0 0
  29. Bob Loblaw at 74

    Thanks for the comments. I get where you are coming from.

    One clarification. I didnt mean that this website specifically deletes comments and I wasn't being critical of them for doing that. I was just speaking generally.

    This websites moderation policy actually seems generally quite well considered to me. Comments are deleted if they ramble off topic, make wild claims without reference to scientific literature or that just get repetitive.  People only have to obey a few simple rules to get their opinion published. Some people just resist this then get all agitated. They are either arrogant or just not very bright.

    The point is this website doesnt delete opinions just because it doesnt agree with them. People get a generally fair go. So the level of 'censorship' on this website  is acceptable,  but I would say its right at the upper limit of whats appropriate.

    Yes Fox News is absolutely selective and biased. However this is not an excuse for us to do ever do the same. We should always strive to be objective. If there is a bias or adherence to some ideology it should be advertised: The does this nicely in its mission statement but I cant find thething now to copy and paste. It was something along the lines that they lean centre right economically and towards free trade  but are not adverse to governments having some involvement in the economy. And that they lean liberal socially. So readers know their philosophical leaning

    Yes we all get that there have to be some limits on free speech. Its entirely about where one draws the line in the sand. Governments impose some limits on free speech. I have no problem with that in principle and generally they are fairly minimal in western countries and that is to my preference.

    The NZ governmnet goes slightly beyond some countries because it has laws against racist speech and this makes sense to me for reasons stated up thread. Its been considering hate speech law but has given up for now, because its so difficult to define hate speech and there has been a lot of push back against potentially suppressing discussion because almost anything could be labelled hate. This seems like a valid concern to me.

    But its not only governments that can limit free speech. My main concern is what websites do and I lean towards fairly minimal moderation. You and Electic seem to lean towards quite strong censorship on websites. Six months ago my views were virtually identical to Electics on this. So similar its quite startling. Now I just wonder if strong censorship  might do more harm than good. I think the trigger was our governmnets attempts to bring in hate speech laws. It just doesnt seem possible to define adequately or practically viable and is too likely to suppress opinion, and just too Orwellian for me.

    I'm sure you and Eclectic would do a good fair minded job of moderation of such issues,  but its other people I worry about.

    So back to Twitter. It is not entirely clear what Musk is up to yet. However it appears he leans strongly towards libertarian values and free speech and against censorship, and it appears he is not going to be banning people or deleting comments unless they are inciting criminal activity or are just  being extremely verbally abusive and bullying. 

    One problem is there isnt another website offering a similar service to Twitter to my knowledge. Given I have my doubts about hate speech laws, and the lack of alternatives to Twitter,  I dont think this website should feel it has to abandon Twitter at this stage. FWIW.

    0 0
  30. Nigelj:

    My comment @ 74 about people accusing SkS of deleting comments it does not agree with was not directed at you. Such accusations often appear in the final stages of a commenter breaking the moderation rules - and are typically deleted (usually shortly before a commenter's posting privileges are revoked). Regular readers would not see them.

    My view of bias in web sites, news sources, etc. is more a case of "this is what it is" rather than support of the actions of those that do it. My father worked in the newspaper business for many years, and there was a time when all major news sources made a concerted effort to provide actual balance. Different papers had their leanings, but they also had principles and a conscience. Today, I see many "news" sources that just don't care whether what they print is true or not.

    The biggest problem is that so many people cannot recognize horse pucky for what it is. That is not solved by "more people speaking louder". The long, slow process of learning a subject is lost in the fire hose of short, wrong, "anything that sells" crap that snake oil salesmen know will trigger people's worst emotions and separate them from their hard-earned dollars. It's easier to convince them that everything they don't agree with is "fake news" - even though the person saying "fake news" is the fakest of the lot.

    Alex Jones may be learning a lesson on what is allowed. Or, it may be a case where he has already learned how to move his money to places where law suits can't reach it. Law suits only cover the most obscene cases, though. Canada has laws against "hate speech", but they are rarely used. The cases that hit the news are often associated with Holocaust denial. "Free Speech" is the usual defence (and usually fails).

    Elon Musks's "free speech" position does not seem to include letting people mention alternatives to Twitter. (Links in comment 58.) His moderation policy seems to be "in flux" (to put it mildly). I tend to not trust people that say one thing while they are doing another.

    0 0
  31. Rob, I mixed you w Bob again! So sorry. Thats two!


    If they open some ability for all to sue if false statements, liable or defamation is there, then the market will take care of this. That would be better than even more regs.

    This site and folks do fine, and this is a hard place to manage. I have spoken of tolerance but Im not sure how I would hold up here, every time I mean.

    I watch old Johnny Carson reruns and they were not allowed to say the name of a competing network if they needed to ID a show elsewhere. I am sure I will also evolve and there are more than several levels of censorship, some I agree with. Such as business competition. But not in other locates.

    Best again, D

    0 0
  32. Reviewing the comment string, I hope it will be helpful to present examples, specifically regarding questions about total global population and bike riding, that clarify that presenting reasons and evidence that something is a misunderstanding and explaining how the misunderstandings can produce harmful results is not ‘labelling something a harmful misunderstanding’ (I also hope to adequately relate this comment to the question of the value of SkS activity on Twitter).

    My comment @38 presents the reasons for the complete set of Climate Myths that are addressed by SkS under the ‘Arguments’ tab to be understood to be harmful misunderstandings that are more harmful the more they get repeated. And it includes the point that each person may consider their impacts to be small, but many harmful problems are due to everyone’s small harmful impacts adding up. And, in addition to a person’s actions contributing to harmful global warming and resulting climate change impacts, each person’s persistence in believing and sharing misunderstandings regarding climate science harmfully add up.

    That totalling up of impacts relates to the question about increasing global population raised in peppers comment @45. An increased awareness and improved understanding regarding the ‘population problem’ is presented in my comment @4 on the SkS item “New reports spell out climate urgency, shortfalls, needed actions”. The quote in that comment is repeated below:

    The "Emissions Gap Report 2022: The Closing Window – Climate Crisis Calls for Rapid Transformation of Societies by Juliane Berger et al." starts and ends part 2.3.2 "Consumption-based emissions are highly unequal between and within countries" with the following quotes (Bold is my emphasis):

    "When national fossil CO2 emissions are estimated on a consumption-basis (i.e. where the supply-chain emissions are allocated to consumers) rather than on the territorial-basis considered so far, emissions tend to be higher in high-income countries such as the United States of America and European Union (by 6 per cent and 14 per cent respectively; Friedlingstein et al. [2020]). Conversely, they are lower in countries such as India and China (by 9 per cent and 10 per cent respectively), which are net exporters of goods ..."

    "Consumption-based emissions also diverge starkly at a household level, in large part due to income and wealth disparities between and within countries (Capstick, Khosla and Wang 2020). When the emissions associated with both household consumption and public and private investments are allocated to households (see appendix A), and households are ranked by GHG emissions (excluding LULUCF), the bottom 50 per cent emit on average 1.6 tCO2e/capita and contribute 12 per cent of the global total, whereas the top 1 per cent emit on average 110 tCO2e/capita and contribute 17 per cent of the total (Chancel 2022; Chancel et al. 2022). Super-emitters in the top 0.1 per cent (average 467 tCO2e/capita) and the top 0.01 per cent (2,531 tCO2e/capita) have seen the fastest growth in personal carbon footprints since 1990. High-emitting households are present across all major economies, and large inequalities now exist both within and between countries (figure 2.3) (Chancel et al. 2022)."

    An improved understanding of the population growth question is that the problem is the excessive harmful impacts of the highest impacting portion of the population, not the small amount of electricity used by poor people to recharge cell phones. A related problem is the incorrect development by poor people of a desire for a personal automobile or other harmful consumption examples set by the most harmful portion of the population.

    Public transport or bike riding are less harmful ways to ‘travel’. And that leads to the example of peppers comment @40. Quoting peppers: “Im reminded of being in line at the beach for something and overhearing a bicyclist loudly lamenting and lambasting all these strollers and roller bladers and runners mucking up the brand new bike path the City just put in. Another bystander, a City worker, heard enough and promptly corrected the speaker that the mission statement for the path included walking, running, skate boarders, strollers and more, as well as bikes.”

    The ‘bike path case’ is an example of misunderstandings producing potentially harmful results. The public arguing due to misunderstanding could have become more than just words (harmful bike path rage – like harmful road rage). It is also an example of how the risk of harm can be reduced by information and education effort that correct and limit misunderstanding. The city could have learned from other municipalities about the importance of public awareness campaigns and posted signs to make sure that users of the new path understood its intended, and therefore properly understood, use. The city worker would have been able to point to the signs to help correct the misunderstanding.

    However, in the absence of signage regarding the proper use of the new path the path being referred to as a ‘new bike path’ raises the possibility that it was not to be used by strollers and walkers. Many cities are building new pathways and lanes for safer quicker commuting by bike or scooter. Walkers and strollers are not to be on these paths – for everyone’s safety. The point is that the city employee or the bike rider may have been correct. And the important thing is to have everyone, especially leadership, apply Bayes’ theorem to learn to minimize the harm that can be caused by misunderstandings.

    If Twitter becomes increasingly populated by people who resist learning, people who resist having to change their mind by evading being awakened by increased awareness and improve understanding of what is harmful misunderstanding, then there clearly would be less point or value in SkS putting effort into Twitter.

    0 0
  33. Regarding twitter. I think OPOF is right about twitter. If it was to devolve into a cess pool of mostly obnoxious people spreading hate or misinformation you would probably not want to be part of that. Even if you used twitter just to connect with sensible people, it may be a bad look to be part of the twitter system. 

    Regarding free speech and suing people. If people had the ability to sue other people in civil court just because they didnt like what someone said, or they felt it was misinformation or hateful speech, I fear this would have a destructive effect on discussion, because plenty of people  would no longer participate in discussions out of fear of being sued. So such a proposition would be anti free speech.

    I understand that Alex Jones was convicted for making false claims about a  school schooting, but that was under a fairly narrowly focused existing law and that seems entirely appropriate to me. Hopefully it gets through to the totally obnoxious man that his conspiracy theory  had no basis in fact and that he should reconsider his views. However sadly some people become stubbornly attached to their views and unable to move on. 

    Regarding hate speech. The New Zealand did consider hate speech law. The problem was the governmnet defining "hate" and defining which things should be included and gender, race, religion and disabled people were considered. There was a lot of public pushback that for example you would no longer be able to criticise religion or discuss gender issues even if done politely.  So while I intensely dislike bigotry and so forth  I lean towards free speech with just a few minimal and focused restrictions. Yes if you had strong censorship smart people can find a way of discussing whatever they want through careful language but I believe most people would just give up participating out of fear and this is to everyones detriment.

    We have to be able to discuss things, fairly easily and openly and without fearing that just about anything we say could get us sued, convicted, fined or thrown off websites or comments deleted,  so restrictions need to be fairly minimal.



    0 0
  34. Nigelj,

    I agree that legal penalties for spreading/repeating misunderstandings that could produce harmful results are not the best way to try to limit the harm done by the creation, promotion and sharing of misunderstanding. A better action is the preemptive education of everyone (like the inoculation approach promoted by SkS) to awaken everyone to the constantly improving understanding of what is harmful and how to be less harmful and more helpful ‘to Others’. The key part is the ‘to Others’ part.

    It is essential to clarify that ‘Others, using reasoning and evidence, determine a common understanding of what is harmful’. The person believing and doing something based on their belief does not get to claim they are correct or not very harmful. Everyone’s actions add up. People aiding and abetting share the blame. Harmful actions like the actions encouraged by Alex Jones cannot be excused by Alex Jones claiming he did not believe what he was doing was going to produce harmful results, or claiming that restricting his ability to promote the misunderstandings that he repeatedly shared would be ‘harmful to people like him by limiting their freedom of expression of beliefs’.

    Educating everyone to be more aware of harmful misunderstanding is also better than legal actions like suing, because legal consequences are ‘after the fact of harm done’. Legal systems have been built with systemic flaws that protect the interests of influential wealthy people. The example of what the GOP leadership has chosen to become (see my comment @78), and note that wealthy influential people also try to dominate the actions of the Democrat Party in the US, exposes that some among the ‘leadership class’, which includes all wealthy and influential people, appear to choose to develop interests that would motivate them to try to influence leadership and the legal system to protect their interests. It is very easy to severely penalize poorer and less influential people in the US (and many other nations), like the 3-strike nonsense in some US states where a person would be imprisoned 25 years for 3 cases like stealing a slice of pizza or being searched by police who discover a small amount of marijuana. And it is every difficult to prove the guilt of a wealthy influential person like Alex Jones and effectively penalize them.

    My understanding is that Alex Jones had to be proven to have understood that he was sharing misunderstandings about the school shooting and its victims. And Alex Jones had to be proven to have motivated the harmful actions of people who aggressively threatened innocent people as a result of being influenced by the misunderstandings powerfully promoted by the very influential Alex Jones. And, in spite of being found guilty (not certain to have been the result of the legal action) Alex Jones may evade significant jail time (he certainly is not going to jail for 25 years) and he may be able to keep a substantial amount of his wealth.

    That said, legal actions should be aggressively used as a last resort to limit the harmful influence of wealthy influential people. The ‘Leaders’, including all wealthy and influential people, are potentially the most helpful or most harmful members of the population. It is essential that that group be held responsible for/by peer-review that effectively limits the harmful influence of any members of the ‘Leadership class’.

    Note that, though Alex Jones is facing some consequence for his promotion of misunderstanding, there appears to have been no consequences for the “Merchants of Doubt” (direct reference to the excellent 2010 research report by Naomi Oreskes and ‎Erik M. Conway) for their far more harmful promotion of misunderstanding regarding climate science.

    0 0
  35. OPOF @84

    We actually tried the three strikes law in New Zealand for about 10 years  and I initially supported the idea ( but with some reservations). But after ten years there was no evidence that it caused crime to go down or discouraged offending, and it lead to absurdly disproportionate punishments. Judges complained. The law was abandoned recently. 

    Now the right leaning National Party wants to bring it back if elected, and in pretty much the same form, despite the fact there is no evidence that it achieved anything and despite the fact that the  reasons it failed have become apparent. Its the problem Bob mentioned about not being able to identify horse pucky. People need to remember the famous quote by Einstein: "Dont keep on doing the same thing and expect different results" 

    0 0
  36. One Planet, thanks for quoting me.

    An important part of my 8 billion comment goes past the division of consumption calcs, which I understood too; the case load on affecting Co2 is more in the developed nations. But all these new people are not static. They all want how others live as well, once they get past that days meals. 91% of the world having a smartphone just indicates, everyone wants one. And everyone wants to live as involved a life as they can achieve the lifestyle of. The causation is fossil fuels, the proliferation of them. But if it is the explosion of bodies from 1 to 8B, exactly matching the rise of Co2, is ID'd as the cause, then our solution would be re-thought as well. Corobaration of this would involve; has there been a rise in fossil burning vehicles and equipment, the movement of the secondary market of prior technology in to 3rd world areas, etc. As technology progresses to solve these emitters, as anything becomes cheaper and more prevalent, it will also increase in quantity of use as there is a horde of new people waiting to rise in comsumptive activity.  This cannot be a toss away factor. I am interested in this  800% population increase factor.

    Free speech is a nessesity in seeking truth. It may be inconvienient, but I would not want to be wrong because I wouldnt listen anymore.

    NIgelj, your Regarding Hate Speech in 83 nails it. It is deciding definitions that is the core of the concepts problem.

    One Planet, If you can decide your are so correct in defining that more input is deemed impossible to add anything, then you could move forward with the censoring and re-education plan. The world has seen that before however, and they are still reflecting, what were we thinking? There is no solice in numbers. Its an understandable impatience but a wrong conclusion (for me). 

    You have good input about my mention of sueing people who make false statements about someone/something. If categorized as regulating, I would not want more regs to even more regulate an area. Do we need more legal, etc.? To combat disinformation, maybe an action in to journalism, which starkly divides news from editorial. The news area would have to be heavily proved (or not stated there then) and all else can exist in editorial. Disinformation would be harder or not possible to pass as fact then?

    Thx all, D

    0 0
  37. I apologies all over myself for the poor spelling in 86. The button was hit before a re-read. Normally my socks go on before the shoes. Uuggh.

    0 0
  38. Peppers @86, regarding the population issue. Yes you are right that population growth means more consumers and more fossil fuel use, all other things being equal. And this will presumably apply in places like Africa. But its hardly a big revelation.

    The problem is theres not a lot we can practically do to make huge and short term changes to the rate of population growth. You cant line people up and shoot them and one child policies have huge problems, and you of all people would presumably oppose government having very activist or coercive population policies. Even if the global fertility rate did fall to literally zero tomorrow (which it obviously won't) this wouldn't stop warming getting above 2 degrees because we are left with 8 billion people and it would take several decades before enough died off to even begin to make a difference to warming trajectories. 

    Its expected that human population will peak at about 10 billion people towards the end of this century and then population will gradually fall slowly after that in absolute size and thats probably what will happen. This is based on the most likely fertility rates going forwards which are about 2.2 children family size. I doubt we can chnage that projection. Im going by memory a bit. Refer projections of population growth on wikipedia for the details.

    The point is we are not going to be able to fix the global warming problem with population policies. The best that they would to is soften the problem slightly over the long term, so we are very reliant on renewable energy, electric transport and negative emissions technology. This was apparent to me years ago, and it seems self evident and did not require much thought.

    1 0
  39. NIgelj, I have the very same conclusions for the 8B. It cannot be addressed, if it is relevant. I think there are ideas in the 'if' range of that observation. Nuclear would leap past its impact and most other worries. But its also so political. Thx D

    0 0
  40. Reviewing all of the comments helped me develop the following response to peppers @86. I hope it is helpful.

    The following questions hopefully establish a common understanding regarding the harm done by the proliferation of misunderstandings on a public-service system like Twitter.

    Note: The harmful results of efforts to delay or diminish the awakening of understanding of harm being done, including the attempts to over-power or threaten people who try to help others learn to be less harmful, is not restricted to climate science.

    Important questions for everyone:

    1. Do you understand how Bayes’ theorem explains the way (perhaps the only way) that humans ‘minimize conflict of interests by developing and improving common sense understanding’? Ideological indoctrination will make people resist following Bayes’ theorem and fail to develop common sense understanding. Problematic beliefs include:

    • cheaper and easier (or more profitable, or more desired) justifies/excuses harm done
    • richer and more powerful people are excused for being more harmful because they can afford to, and are able to, be more harmful
    • harm done (to Others) can be excused if benefits are obtained (by the In Group).

    Ideological beliefs can reduce conflicts within a group (or nation or group of nations). But the resulting group will increase their conflict with Others. Limiting the harm of global conflict requires everyone, or at least all leaders, to apply Bayes’ theorem in pursuit of improved awareness and understanding of what is harmful and how to be less harmful and more helpful to Others (that is the origin of important learning and presentations of understanding like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the IPCC, and the Sustainable Development Goals).

    2. Do you accept that all of the Climate Myths presented under the Arguments tab are misunderstandings that everyone can learn to better understand? If not, revisit the Arguments after understanding the next question.

    3. Do you accept that it is harmful to believe and propagate misunderstandings that would delay learning about the importance of rapidly ending fossil fuel use? Wouldn’t it be easier for everyone to learn to be less harmful and more helpful if there was less repetition of harmful misunderstandings, less temptation to excuse harmful actions? Wouldn’t it be better if there was a public gallery of misunderstandings with comprehensive, open to improvement, explanations everyone could learn from (like the SkS Arguments list)? Wouldn’t it be great if every posting that included a repetition of a misunderstanding directed viewers to the appropriate, already established, educational rebuttal?

    4. Do you accept that a high level Ethical/Moral Rule is “Be less harmful (when possible)”? I admit that being harmless is not possible. To live you have to harm other life. But sustainable living is possible. It requires distinguishing ‘Needs essential to living’ from ‘All other desires’. The harm done by meeting essential needs can only be limited to ‘pursuing the least harmful ways to ensure those essential needs are met – By/For Everyone’. Desires, however, are not necessary. Desires should be screened/governed/limited so that the only desires acted on would be sustainable (without accumulating harm) if everybody did the desired action to the same degree (relates to the problem of developing people being tempted to want to live like the harmfully over-developed who are perceived to be superior).

    That brings us to the population question raised by peppers. More people on the planet does result in more restrictions on ‘desired actions’. It also makes the provision of everyone’s essential needs more harmful. An understood solution is pursuing, and improving on, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Learning about the SDGs leads to understanding that pursuit of the goals would reduce the harmfulness of the developed and developing populations. And a recent research report in the Lancet “Fertility, mortality, migration, and population scenarios for 195 countries and territories from 2017 to 2100: a forecasting analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study” indicates that achieving the SDGs would also be expected to reduce the peak global population, primarily due to the birth-rate reductions expected to occur in societies with ‘more educated and freer women’.

    Also, the more harmful the climate change impacts are the harder it is to achieve the SDGs. Exceeding 1.0 C of impact has been identified as entering the realm of significant risk of harm. Refer to my comment regarding the Story of the Week “1.5 and 2°C: A Journey Through the Temperature Target That Haunts the World” in the “2022 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #50”

    With the above established, responses to specific statements made by Peppers @86 are as follows:

    Responding to the population question point that “The causation is fossil fuels, the proliferation of them. But if it is the explosion of bodies from 1 to 8B, exactly matching the rise of Co2, is ID'd as the cause, then our solution would be re-thought as well.”

    nigelj’s response @88 is great. But there is more.

    The problem is admitted to be fossil fuels. But there is no admission of the need to ‘end the harm of fossil fuel use’. Not mentioning the harmful unsustainability of the ways of living developed by the ‘supposedly more superior people that Others aspire to be like’ indicates a lack of understanding of the basics of the issue (refer to the questions above).

    Also, saying “An important part of my 8 billion comment goes past the division of consumption calcs, which I understood too...”, indicates more may be going on than a lack of understanding. Claiming that the comment regarding population “looks past” the fact that a small portion of the population has massive harmful impact is questionable. It is looking through, or looking around, or looking away from the understanding that more harmful people have to make more, and more rapid, corrections of how they live and that developing people should be helped to develop more sustainable lives with the least harmful transition through the fossil fuel use phase of development (waiting for technological developments that will be cheaper and more popular to end the harm done will fail without increased awareness and effective governing to limit misunderstanding and related harm done. Technological solutions, like nuclear, could be unsustainable and harmful like the problem they were believed to solve).

    The problem is made worse by people perceiving the more harmful people to be superior. That misunderstanding could cause people to want to develop to be ‘part of that group and live like they do’. Developing a sustainable solution requires all of the ‘perceived to be superior people (not just the ones who care to learn to be less harmful and more helpful to Others)’ leading the rapid transition/correction past (away from) fossil fuel use.

    Responding to the “One Planet, If you can decide your are so correct in defining that more input is deemed impossible to add anything, then you could move forward with the censoring and re-education plan. The world has seen that before however, and they are still reflecting, what were we thinking?”

    Common sense understanding of the pursuit of improved awareness and understanding of what is harmful and how to be less harmful and more helpful to Others is not ‘my decision or definition’. It is common sense ethics/morality.

    Claiming that limiting the influence of the proliferation of misunderstanding is ‘censorship’ is a misunderstanding.
    Using the term re-education rather than saying ‘learning to be less harmful and more helpful to Others’ is a misrepresentation because re-education has negative connotations that do not apply to learning to be less harmful and more helpful.

    What the world ‘has seen before’ is the result of harmful misunderstandings becoming popular and powerful. That results in ideological indoctrination of populations (with nationalism and other selfish interests). And that causes the resulting population to powerfully and harmfully conflict with Others. They collectively resist learning to be less harmful and more helpful to Others. People should reflect on ‘Seeing what happened’ (continues to happen) within many political groups in many nations. Many groups become increasingly resistant to learning about ‘the harmful results’ of fossil fuel use. People should also reflect on and how other harmful beliefs are embraced by those groups as they ‘wrap themselves in flags’ and pursue the ability to have more influence to be more harmful.

    0 0
  41. HI One Plant,


    I really appreciate discussing this w you. Much of this topic of population is to be based in common sense. The new input taking us from 1 to 8 billion now, it happened all across the world. America tripled, China tripled adding a billion. The starving areas represent about a billion, just under I hope, and once they get past finding food security, they too want to live as full a life as possible. So I think there is a narrowing as new tech makes more available, more will step up wanting it and being able to access it. Many examples of tech/competition working toward that. And as we get back on track to solve world hunger, there is another original billion, as the number we started with in 1900 again, ready to add thier consumerism, for a better life, for the same reasons we chose it as well.

    I think a larger solution needs considering, and atomic would fill that bill.

    The fossil fuel is why the co2 has increased, and mostly its manmade. But we cannot undo 8 billion, going to 10 they say.

    This is my opinion, and it is where all ideas begin, as opinions. I cannot censor others because I now want to call their opinion harmful misunderstandings. Thats the primary point I had. Its that you cannot say you are right and all others are wrong, because we cant do that. Its not aggresive or meant to down anywhere. But we have to keep thinking to work on anything, and freedom to think and express is very much desirable. If you say I am right and all else are harmful misunderstandings. Well.

    Mexico is a per capita rate of 3.58 for Co2, Venesuela 5.89. Yet we have let 11 million in to our 15.52 per capita USA. Political is against us. Natural thriving is against. This is only for me Forever, but an approach that can address this has me running in to all these factors, as I try and understand it to formula a solution.

    But this does not make me a harmful misunderstander.

    Thanks tons, D

    0 0
  42. Peppers @91,

    The population issue may be better understood by performing the mental exercise of considering a case where the global population did not increase above 800 million.

    If, by today, the 800 million developed to be as harmful ‘annually in total’ as the current most harmful 800 million are, then the magnitude of harm done so far, and rate of harm done, would be less than the current problem of the 8 billion today. More people being harmful, even if they are less harmful people, will produce harm more rapidly. But the continued increase of harm done at a lower rate would eventually produce a similar level of harmful results.

    Once the harm being done was recognized (understandable) as something that had to be ended and undone (in spite of harmful efforts to promote misunderstanding, and ask questionable questions that have understandable answers, to delay the awakening of that understanding – prolonging understandably harmful misunderstandings that delay the reduction of harm being done), if each of the 800 million had developed a reasonably comparable level of harmfulness then they would all have a comparable responsibility for reducing their harmfulness. However, if the distribution of harmfulness was similar to the current distribution (refer to my comment @82 - the top 10% of the 800 million being as harmful as the top 1% of 8 billion, and the top 1% being like the current top 0.1%) then the common sense would be that the more harmful people, all of them, would need to more rapidly and more dramatically lead the learning and correction of behaviour.

    The problem is the examples being set by the supposedly more advanced portion of the population, combined with the development of desires in more people to develop to live that way (as you say “they too want to live as full a life as possible” incorrectly believing that ‘desiring to be more harmful’ is ‘Living fuller’ or that ‘living fuller’ excuses the harm done). That harmful result is unjustified and relies on harmful misunderstandings like the following (refer to my comment @90 for an alternate presentation of the same point):

    • those who are first to develop more harmful ways of living get to be more harmful
    • harmfulness has to be accepted, because some people desire things that are understandably harmful

    My point, unaltered by anything you have presented, is that unless there is a systemic ideological change that establishes the common sense that it is unacceptable for ‘desires’ to be obtained harmfully then any ‘solutions’ will likely be harmful and ultimately unsustainable.

    Fundamentally the developed common sense understanding includes:

    • the harmfulness of people continuing to ‘pursue desires (not needs)’ via harmful fossil fuel use is now undeniable because of climate science.
    • the development and proliferation of misunderstandings about climate science, including questionable questions related to the need for the most harmful people to most rapidly limit their harmfulness, is undeniably harmful because it delays the limiting of the harm done.
    • pursuing ‘solutions’ without acknowledging that only ‘meeting everyone’s basic needs’ is allowed to be harmful (with as little harm done as possible) will not produce sustainable solutions.

    The problem is not solved by the development of new technology or 'other solutions' in a system that does not recognize the need for ‘desires beyond the basic needs of living’ to be harmless. The desire for people to maintain and increase developed perceptions of ‘fuller’ living does not justify the added harm done while they try to delay the understanding of the growing urgency for their desired harmful actions to be more rapidly ended.

    Also, harmful climate change impacts due to fossil fuel use were the result of the pursuits of status through technology development competition in a system with success measured by popularity and profit. It is also common sense that some people harmfully resist learning about the harmful results of persistent and prolific presentations of misunderstandings regarding climate science. Even without the harmful delay of persistent misunderstanding, it is understandably unacceptable to ‘wait for the obviously harmfully inclined competition to end the harm it developed’. There is abundant evidence that limiting of harm done by activity related to fossil fuels (and other activities) has almost only ever happened through ‘regulation and restriction by Others who govern based on the pursuit of increased awareness and understanding of what is harmful’. Examples abound including: ending lead in gasoline, reduction of sulphur emissions, reduced particulate emissions, and improved fuel efficiency.

    As for your point “I cannot censor others because I now want to call their opinion harmful misunderstandings”. That is a version of an already pointed out misunderstanding/misrepresentation of my presented points. One more time, stated a different way:

    • the most serious population problem related to ‘climate science and understood to be harmful climate change impacts of human activity’ is the most harmful impacting portion of the population.
    • the harmful portion of the population is not excused by claiming that ‘others want to be like them’.
    • the small percentage who are most harmful are not excused by claiming that large numbers of other less harmful people are a bigger concern.
    • continuing harmful activity that is unnecessary for decent basic living is not excused by claiming that harmless ways to do the desired things ‘will be developed’. Maybe they won’t be developed. Maybe harmful replacements, only a little less climate change harmful or harmful in other ways, will be used. Note that stopping unnecessary harmful activity would limit the harm done ‘and’ motivate the development of harmless ways to meet those unnecessary desires.
    • it is harmful to maintain a misunderstanding that evades learning that fossil fuel use must be rapidly ended by the people who cause the most harm due to their harmfully over-developed ‘unnecessary’ fossil fuel use.
    • the real root of the problem is the development of desires for over-consumption including energy over-consumption.

    You say “Yet we have let 11 million (from lower per capita impact nations) in to our 15.52 per capita USA.” That is an argument against yourself. You have essentially stated that it is expected and OK for lower impact people to develop higher impact ways of living. Also, people moving to the USA would not be a problem if all of the USA, not just some portions of its population, were leading the awakening of the understanding of the need for a rapid transition away from the ideology that harmful ways of obtaining ‘desires’ are excusable.

    In conclusion, I believe it is important for SkS to continue to raise awareness (awaken people) regarding the climate science understanding that results in people learning to be less harmful, including voting for representatives who will be less harmful and more helpful leaders. That includes efforts on Twitter until it becomes clear that there is no longer a significant number of people remaining on Twitter who are interested in developing the common sense understanding of the need to rapidly end fossil fuel use and curtail other harmful ‘desired activity’.

    0 0
  43. HI One Planet,

    Some really good and deep drilling down, and I appreciate the basic quest of common sense. As some of this line of thinking is not greatly established with data. We are noodling this out.

    There is an urgent need to alter our dependence on fossil fuel. I am finding mere lifestyle change to be questionable though. That could slow or unlikely halt the co2 increase if we could apply ourselves. But a real knockout punch is nuclear. I hear even Gretha is talking nuclear.

    I looked in to why the population has rocketed up to our current 8 billion. 

    NUmber one is medicine and health advancments. To drill down, number one of that is infant mortality decreasing and also life expectancy increasing overall. Specifically, upon the introduction of pennicillin in the early 1950's; worldwide life expectancy we went from 48 years in 1950 to about 69 now, going up in to the 70's for life expectancy soon worldwide. The links below also shows fertility rates dropping slowly, and specifically in USA while greatly increasing in Africa. This will present a shift from high producing locates to the low locates for co2 production over time, all else considered.

    As a landlord, I am very aware of the utility and products use of children and infants. One initially thinks, they are smaller, they use less! Far be it! As in population increase causing the increasing use of fossil fuels, which are the producers of co2, the children cause the adults to consume very large additional amounts of energy to care for thier babies. Every form of increased waste and product use comes in to play, right up to selling the small sedan and buying an SUV, with no concern about much of anything except the best for caring for the babies. We do become a bit crazy, about babies.

    I think your premise of SkS's mission is correct, while we look to a solution the size of this sunami od human development. The increase of pressure of population is predicted to continue through this century, then abate. There is an overly simplified page from UCBerkeley about population increase:

    Using the second link above, there is a highly useful chart built, where one can sort in many important ways. China emits twice our output of co2, and they are villified for it. However, they are at 1/2 the per capita than the USA. So they are 4 times larger than the USA and we emit 1/2 their level, as the USA is at 15.52 per capita and they are at a pretty low 7.38. If we cut our use down by 1/2, to 7.38, we would reduce global emissions of co2 by 7% and that reduction would exactly match the 7% we are expected to increase in population of adding the next billion in 14 years. Again, population is expected to balance about the end of this century and stop increasing (I have not explored why).

    I do not know what would be the lifestyle change that can make emmisions drop by 50%. More gain would be possible with worldwide reductions. There are 15 countries higher emitting than the USA, including Canada and Australia (which must have pretty good PR depts as they sound like they are on cutting edge!). The higher emitters total about 1/3 our population so the USA is the earliest target for sure, where the largest gain could be seen. And if a true worldwide effort succeeded, there is a chance to slow, stop and also reduce.

    But nuclear and continue using electric which is only a delivery method and not an energy source would do it. Nuclear would allow us to stop another problem, which is the villian making which is happening among the people. People are not getting it. For whatever reason. Note the shift of sedan sales flipping to SUV's about 2015, and now pickup trucks and SUV's sell double low emitting sedans. And shaming, goading, hampering, I hear mocking and debasing and endless ways of fracturing the peace being presented from all sides on this important topic.

    If. If it is a formula of population growth, bought on by historic medical discovery and advances, this is not any persons fault. Continuing awareness is appropriate, but will not produce the goals desired without running in to political opposition ( kill babies, reduced family sizes, really dramatic lifestyle changes, etc). And there is damage to the global psyche when peoples feel attacked. I categories much of the inappropriate responses to the horror approach of this ( folks are not explaining the problem and then asking for cooperation, for instance), and one could find explainations of any one responding badly when cornered. But I dont think people caused this by wanton debauched lifestyles. They are growing a lot of babies, which use a huge new amount of energy.

    Nuclear would be a response about on the scale of pennicillin coming on the scene, and handle this in the shortest time, with the greatest impact and stop this shaming and blaming of peoples as a response. This is urgent and important. We could feed the world with the surplus value of the current plans.

    A large part of this treatise is just noodling. It helps me think about it to write as I go. I appreciate the chance to drop this here. This is just my opinion, forming. Thanks all, D

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [BL] This discussion is becoming increasingly off-topic. If the two of you wish to continue these discussions, please use the Search function to find a suitable place.

  44. Moderator,

    I agree that discussing population and nuclear is not on-topic here.

    The best location to discuss nuclear energy appears to be the following SkS Blog Post by scaddenp: Is Nuclear Energy the Answer?

    That post and comments provide a wealth of relevant information. My only comment regarding nuclear energy has already been stated: To be lasting improvements, solutions to the harmful unsustainable fossil fuel climate change impact problem need to 'not be harmful and unsustainable alternatives'.

    I did not find a 'population' discussion location in SkS. Maybe there isn't one. And there probably shouldn't be one.

    Discussion regarding global population and development is part of the bigger UN Development Programme. Climate science regarding human climate change impacts is a subset of that larger issue. There is lots of great information available from the UNDP, including the annual UNDP Human Development Reports (one of my favorites is the 2020 HDR). 

    0 0
  45. Thank you moderator. Understood, Best D

    0 0

Prev  1  2  

You need to be logged in to post a comment. Login via the left margin or if you're new, register here.

The Consensus Project Website


(free to republish)

© Copyright 2024 John Cook
Home | Translations | About Us | Privacy | Contact Us