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Climate Hustle

Are you a genuine skeptic or a climate denier?

Posted on 30 May 2011 by John Cook

The ABC Drum have just published my article Are you a genuine skeptic or a climate denier? Right now, there are no comments but I imagine the discussion will get fierce shortly so be sure to keep an eye on it (expect to see all the traits of denial I describe rear their ugly head in the comments and be quick to point them out). An excerpt:

In the charged discussions about climate, the words skeptic and denier are often thrown around. But what do these words mean?

Consider the following definitions. Genuine skeptics consider all the evidence in their search for the truth. Deniers, on the other hand, refuse to accept any evidence that conflicts with their pre-determined views.

So here's one way to tell if you're a genuine skeptic or a climate denier.

Read full article... Science and our book Climate Change Denial have been popping up elsewhere in the media over the last few weeks. My co-author Haydn and I appeared on Robyn William's Science Show a few weeks ago - you can listen to streaming audio or download the interview in mp3 format. The Science Show webpage also has a transcript of the whole interview.

On the morning of the Sydney book launch, I did an interview with John Stanley from the Sydney commercial radio station 2UE. You can listen to an mp3 of the interview here. Many thanks to 2UE for letting me republish the interview here on Skeptical Science and thanks to John just for having the interview - I wonder how many angry emails he received from 2UE listeners afterwards.

After our Sydney and Canberra book launches (more on that in a future post), Haydn and I returned to Sydney to record an interview with James Valentine at ABC 702. This interview gave us the opportunity to do something I've been looking forward to for a while - respond to talk-back callers. Sure enough, the first caller was a geologist enquiring about past climate change!

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Comments 301 to 350 out of 488:

  1. Camburn @296, you may never go to denier sites but I suspect you simply never notice how libellous and abusive is the language directed as pro-science participants in denier forums.

    With regard to the word denier, it does not have the associations you purport it has. I was aware of the use of the term to describe those irrationally opposed to taking action on climate change for at least six months prior to connecting it in anyway with the holocaust. That connection was only made because some deniers where insisting that it was the intended connection in its use, an accusation I find bizzare.

    For the record, in calling somebody a denier I no more wish to associate them with holocaust deniers than I wish to associate them with 911 deniers, moon landing deniers, birth certificate deniers, or evevolution deniers. I no more wish to suggest that AGW deniers secretly admire Hitler than I wish to suggest that they are sexually inadequate.

    The fact is that "denier" is a common word for people who hold rationally indefensible positions which are not kept open to refutation by contrary evidence. That it has famously been used of holocaust deniers does not change that meaning one iota; and suggesting that any use of the word is an attempt to create an association with nazism is an attempt at censorship. If there was anything in your charge at all then I would have to conclude that you have deliberately associated yourself with right wing, racist supporters of nazism by calling yourself a skeptic, for those righ wing racist nazi sympathizers call themselves holocaust skeptics.

    With regard to Hansen, I have defended Hansen at length already on this thread. So unless you wish to clearly state spreading disinformation that results in thousands of deaths in the full knowledge that it will probably result in thousands of deaths is not, and/or should not be a crime, I just have to chalk you up as another denier misrepresenting Hansen.

    Finally, you claim to be a skeptic, not a denier. Well the evidence I have seen makes me skeptical of that claim, but the proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating. If, indeed, you are a genuine skeptic it will not worry you that you are called a denier - you'll just get on and argue the science. After all, I have been called an irrational left wing radical who is only arguing for the consensus position because I am a paid Labor party troll and because I only want to fraudulently secure more funding for my fraudulent research, and because I secretly want to engineer the deaths of three quarters of the world population. But it is not that, but the lack of evidence from the deniers that concerns me.
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    [DB] Tom elquently has made the case that the resistance to the term denier by equating it with Holocaust denial/Nazism/fascism/NWO is a patently transparent attempt to reframe the struggles of those espousing science vs those espousing non-science as a "debate" wherein it is possible that both "sides" may be right.

    Since that is clearly not possible, can we all put an end to the references to Holocaust denial/Nazism/fascism/NWO?  If one wishes to forego what the science and logic tells us is happening in the physical, measurable world, that is their right.  But then the appellation "denier" sticks by default.

  2. This entire thread is skating on thin ice. You can deny it, but it is still so.
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  3. 227 - Eric (Sceptic)

    I'm sure there are odds and ends that can mitigate the effects in the rest of the world, but as I said, people ultimately have to be allowed, encourage and empowered to take responsibility for their well being.

    I saw this: Why Feed-in Tariffs are an Important Climate Solution: They ‘Empower People' and thought of you.

    pick up your Euro-Trotskyite T-shirt ar the reception desk.
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  4. I just want to underscore the raw power in reclaiming your own personal energy independence. When you can heat your home, power your devices, and travel without relying on a monopoly provider - life is definitely better.

    This is the end result of NOT being a skeptic/denier. Anyone who understand the science is (morally/ethically/financially/practically) compelled to take action. The most logical action is to harness the power of the sun directly on your own property (assuming you own property).

    There will eventually be issues with relying on the grid (yes, that evil monopoly I just mentioned can be perverted for good) - but we are far from that issue, and early adopters (sigh - still early adopters in 2011...) can benefit from their (relatively) quick action.

    And controlling your own heating/cooling doesn't require any grid at all - just the willingness to invest in your financial well-being, and the future of happy humans on earth.
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  5. 304 - thanks for underscoring the weird mess people get into when they try to use ideology to understand and solve practical problems.

    Personal power generation has its place as dose the grid and centralised power generation and management. No amount of lefty/right wind politics, libertarian, socialist etc. etc. political deliberations will allow anyone to find out the right mix.
    Same as understanding the impacts of CO2 etc. on the climate... liking or not liking big energy companies, the UN, federal government etc. etc. don't change the facts - however much such feelings might incline people to be, lets say, selective.
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  6. [DB]
    ......... can we all put an end to the references to Holocaust denial/Nazism/fascism/NWO? If one wishes to forego what the science and logic tells us is happening in the physical, measurable world, that is their right. But then the appellation "denier" sticks by default.

    Is the term denier used in any other forum apart from the holocaust or climate science? If not it’s a bit disingenuous to deny the word is used in such a way to condemn individuals with it’s subtle links and inference, and then say no-one can note this link . This paradoxically could be seen as denial of a real issue and to be brushing certain facts under the carpet. Something we accuse many people of doing in the first place with regards to climate science. Good debate should never be reduced to name calling however passionate we feel about an issue.
    Words have power to convince, but also to drive away, and if people are insulted by using such terms as Denialist or Zealot, it just pushes people further into their own corner and builds more barriers.
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    [DB] The point is, those who deny that our climate is changing, that our way of life is helping cause that change, that doing nothing about it will make things worse are the ones shifting the focus of the conversation away from the science and are attempting to reframe it as a debate where both "sides" may have equal validity.  Their viewing things first through the lens of labels is empty rhetoric and spin only.

    Since they have no science to support their "do nothing" approach they attempt to dissemble and prevaricate and obfuscate and deny.  A spade is a spade; a rose, a rose.  To call them by labels other than what they are is also denial.

  7. garethman @306, I have just listed five different contexts in which the term "denier" is used excluding holocaust or agw denial in my post 301 above, including links. I doubt the list is exhaustive. As you are responding to the moderator's comment in post 301, presumably you have also read my post, and seen the five different uses. Consequently asking, "Is the term denier used in any other forum apart from the holocaust or climate science?" strikes me as disingenuous. You had the answer before you asked the question, but asked it anyway to create doubt where none should exist.

    I am quite happy to have a debate without insult or name calling. My problem is that my opponents in this debate have chosen to falsely call themselves "skeptics" with the intent of suggesting that climate scientists are not being true skeptics, ie, not being scientists at all. Not content to merely suggest it, they openly claim it on a regular basis. Their libels are their problem, but I am not going to continue them by using "climate skeptics" as a name for those least skeptical in their actual practise in analysing climate science, while excluding those who are most skeptical in doing so. Hence, I need a new name for my opponents.

    Now, it so happens that "denier" is a descriptively accurate term for them. Because of the diversity of positions they hold, no other single term that I know of is descriptively accurate, and as I do not wish to forever use circumlocutions, "denier" is what I will call them. If you can suggest a better alternative, I will certainly consider it (and adopt it if I consider it better), but until then, "denier" suites the bill admirably.
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  8. garethman "Is the term denier used in any other forum apart from the holocaust or climate science?"

    Of course it is. Domestic violence, terminal illness, parents of disabled or delinquent children, the five stages of grief ... and any number of other circumstances find people describing others as being in denial.

    And then there's all the non-personal stuff like evolution and AIDS-hiv.
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  9. I find it more than humorous that this thread so bothers those in denial, and that they are totally unable to see how applicable the term is for their position.

    All over the Internet, from WUWT to SkS to Fox News to CNN, to the NY Times (and Revkin's blog), almost everywhere you can see frequent, mindless, vacuous, venomous, arrogant and ignorant claims about climate change. The anger, hubris, and insulting disdain demonstrated so vocally by so many deniers in so many places is down right frightening.

    As Tom rightly points out, even the use of the term "skeptic" is an insult to everyone that doesn't agree with their position. It by implication means that everyone else as an invalid and close-minded approach to the problem. It's an anti-insult, if you will, a name one can call themselves that belittles others.

    And yet those very same people are so very offended by the term denier.

    They apply every inappropriate tactic in the book, from lying to name calling to ignoring the facts to innuendo to just plain making stuff up (like conspiracy theories), and yet their feelings are hurt because we refer to them with a word that exactly describes their position: denier.

    Any denier who reads this and feels offended needs to stop and think. Why are you having such an emotional reaction to the term? Why does it make you angry?

    Then think about what you've posted, not just here, where you are forced to be polite by the rules and the nature of the conversations, but also elsewhere. You've all posted at WUWT and similar venues. How has your behavior been there? How well do you keep your laughing, condescending anger in check when you are surrounded by cohorts of gleefully bleating friends who all believe as you believe?

    No, if you are hurt by the term denier, then you need to take a long, hard look at your own approach to understanding the science, and how open minded you are. If the term denier bothers you, then you are not a skeptic.

    If the term denier means nothing to you, then you may be a real, true skeptic, and there's hope.

    You also need to consider the implications if you are wrong. I have. I continue to do so. It's a very important part of the equation.

    I'm comfortable with my stance because I believe it is correct, but I also believe that if I'm wrong, good will still come of it. No one is going to instill a one-world government from this. No one is going to destroy the economies of the world so that greenies can make money in carbon-trading schemes. None of that could ever, possibly, conceivably come to pass.

    But massive drought, starvation, refugees, ensuing wars, social and economic upheaval, can all result from climate change. The "catastrophic" label that deniers love to add to AGW, to make it seem over the top, is not nearly so over the top as many people think.

    The worst of it won't happen for fifty to one hundred years, but that doesn't keep my conscience any cleaner. An ability to coldly dismiss the fates of our ancestors is not a good trait in my book.

    So, deniers... meaning the people who are offended by that term... why are you so offended (and I don't mean in a literal sense, I mean it as a rhetorical question, and to imply that you should go do some soul searching)?

    And are you really ready to bear the guilt that you ultimately should feel if (when) you turn out to be very, very, very wrong?
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  10. Spaerica:
    For myself, I am not offended by the use of the term, however, I will stand by my statement that the term brings vivid images of carnage.

    I think something that you have to recognize is that climate is ALWAYS changing. The question is, what changes are caused by humans, and what changes are caused by the normal variations.

    ( -Snip- )
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    [DB] Off-topic link snipped (which, I add, you have already posted on at least 3 other threads now).

  11. Les @305 - not sure where you are going with your comments. My comment is simply an expansion of this point, which I made in comment #34 on page 1, and which has driven much of the debate for the next 250 so posts:

    The value judgement is: The body of evidence in climate change REQUIRES and active mitigation response.

    It is a statement which removes the wiggle room that deniers love to play in. There is no wiggle room from my statement. Pro-science people are handicapped by being reasonable and rational, and we always have to admit these "terrible" things like

    * Yes, I and the scientific community could be SHOCKED if we were to find a here-to-for unknown natural forcing that explains climate change (the reality that the likelihood of that happening is on par with discovering a non-gravitational explanation for up and down is always glossed over by the deniers...). But real science is dis-provable, and a true skeptic acknowledges that new evidence will change their view.

    * Yes sensitivity COULD be on the low end of the range (but it is more likely to be on the high end).

    * Yes OHC measurements/SLR measurements are inadequate, so it is *possible* that the heat is leaving (although no other measurement indicates that...).

    * and on and on and on. The deniers have perverted the scientific process into an echo chamber for their wishful thinking regarding climate science.

    All of this leaves the vast majority of humanity (those who are socially intelligent, as opposed to analytically so (check out Myers-Briggs to see that ~16% of humanity is rationally intelligent)) with the ability to toddle off and think about other things, or say "well they are both right" or whatever their individual brand of denialism or kick-the-can is.

    But my statement:

    "The value judgement is: The body of evidence in climate change REQUIRES and active mitigation response."

    allows no such mushy/muddling thinking. That action is required at the global, corporate, national AND individual level is inherent in the statement. That all these incredibly minute uncertainties exist is inherent in the statement.

    It really makes answering John's original question very easy - you either agree with the statement (and ARE taking action) or you are a denier. You can maintain your own personal uncertainties (any true skeptic (aka scientist) has areas they want more data/information on. For me it is OHC) but you ALSO can clearly state that the multiple lines of evidence, the vast body of scientific knowledge (has any issue, in the history of man, been studied more?) and the ethical/rational analysis of the evidence and knowledge REQUIRE action.

    I couldn't tell if you were trying to claim my statement was ideology, or agreeing that those who use ideology instead of rational thought are getting us into trouble.

    As you can see, my statement is the antidote to ideology, as it disallows the myriad pathways the ideologically driven dance around the core truth of climate science.
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  12. Of course it is. Domestic violence, terminal illness, parents of disabled or delinquent children, the five stages of grief ... and any number of other circumstances find people describing others as being in denial.

    I suspect there is confusion between the state of being in denial, as a psychological coping mechanism, and denialist as a purely destructive maladaptive state of disbelief in a scientific or philosophical or factual stance. Other terms could include dissidents (equally applicable in some countries) insurgents, disbelievers,revolutionaries, awkward squad, the list is endless. Being on the believers side of scepticism ( ie I believe the world is warming, that we have something to do with this and we need to take action), but I think like most other people that there is still a lot we do not know regarding how dramatic this process will be. Now that makes me a self confessed skeptic and beyond the Pale for many, but also part of the majority. People who hold extreme right wing views and condemn many environmental principles from a basis of politics as opposed to science are wrong, but have a right to a belief system, regardless of how weird. They should be allowed to have that belief without the inappropriate use of labels. And if you think that should not be allowed as their belief will have negative effects on the rest of us, well I don’t see the same attention or labels given to right wing religious groups in the States who have colluded with dodgy presidents to inflict all sorts of damage on the rest of the world.
    If a cause is true you don’t need to insult the opposition or make grandiose claims and exaggerations. The truth and proof is the strongest weapon in such battles.
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  13. The suggestion that "climate change deniers are similar to holocaust deniers", can be looked at in (at least) two different ways. One is to consider the sorts of argument that deniers of these two concepts use to make their case, the other is to consider the moral outrage that the denial induces. One can note that these two aspects are completely orthogonal, the moral outrage at the denial of a particular thing is only dependent on the thing being denied, not on the mental gymnastics used in the denial.

    An example of (obnoxious to me, I hasten to add) holocaust denial can be found here. But, for me at least, this argument has striking similarities to the "world government" conspiracy that some climate change deniers propose.
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  14. 310, Camburn,

    That's a typical denial response and tactic, and evidence of denial over skepticism. Rather than address the issue under examination, you simply launch off in another completely random direction, one where you hope you'll score some easy points.

    I think we should start compiling a simple, easy-to-take-and-score "Are you a denier?" quiz, so people can rate their level of denial.

    Denier Quiz Question Number 1:
    Do you find the term "denier" offensive?
    Denier Quiz Question Number 2:
    When a climate change topic makes you uncomfortable, or you don't have a good answer to the question at hand, do you simply, completely and totally change the subject, bringing up a separate and unrelated point in an area where you feel more confident in your knowledge?
    P.S. Camburn, of course climate is always changing. People are also always dying. Does that mean any deaths are acceptable, or that all are attributable to natural causes? Really, you could think this stuff out just a little further.

    Denier Quiz Question number 3:
    Are some of the issues that you cling to really rather desperate and pathetic attempts to find some weak handhold to which your denial can cling (such as the idea that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is violated by GHG theory, or that the temperature record is tainted by poor station sitings, or that the MWP period was warming than current temperatures, or that climate change will be good news and help plants grow, or that CO2 is only a trace gas, or... goodness, this list is really, really long, isn't it?)?
    Denier Quiz Question Number 4:
    Do you believe there is merit in most if not all denial arguments?
    Denier Quiz Question 5:
    Is there any single aspect of climate science that you believe, or do you somehow find some reason or method do dismiss and disparage every single aspect of it, without fail?
    Give yourself 1 point for each "yes" answer. If you scored greater than zero points, congratulations; You're a denier!
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  15. 313, Phil,

    I don't think "Holocaust" when I use the term, I don't intend for that implication to be there, and I don't think anyone does.

    But I agree with you. I think there are striking similarities, that there is a lot to be learned from examining and contrasting the two, and that it is exactly those similarities that make deniers so sensitive to the term. They wouldn't care and they wouldn't blink otherwise.

    That they do care so intensely speaks volumes.
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  16. garathman:

    "Is the term denier used in any other forum apart from the holocaust or climate science?"

    At the risk of piling on, not only is the term "AIDS denialism" used (by no less an authority than Robert Gallo, for instance), but AIDS denialists have made *exactly* the same "waa waa you're accusing us of being evil like holocaust denialists" complaints against those who use it.

    In fact, given the fact that AIDS denialism predates what we think of as modern climate change denialism, I wouldn't be surprised if climate change denialists picked up the whining "you guys are calling us nazis" meme from them ...
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  17. dhogaza,

    Other interesting examples of the word... google each of them...
    • Asbestos Denialism

    • Vaccine Denialism (and Vaccine Skeptics -- get that? They already grabbed the word "skeptics," too)
    Can anyone think of others?
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  18. actually thoughtfull @ 299

    you said: "My right wing neighbor finally threw in the towel and got solar."

    Do you think they bought solar because of environmental concerns or because the incentives (tax money) they received?

    Do you think the outfit which sold the PV grid would have even bothered if not for those incentives?

    Were the PV panels made in US or Europe or where environmental regulations are weak, China?

    What is the carbon foot print of a PV panel?

    PV are not "Green"; they simply export the problem, and import good feelings for those concerned with AGW. For your "right-wing" neighbors, they receive monthly welfare payment in the form of subsidized electricity by all those whom have not gone "Green". It's ironic that in order to go "Green" we must first pollute beyond recovery while redistributing wealth to those whom don't need it and don't care, as you do, about AGW.
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  19. Jigaro Kano,
    I was thinking of solar thermal (hot water). But my neighbor put in PV to lock in the price of electricity. He is thinking about retirement and looking to reduce his risks. The power company promised him no rate increases for 20 years if he allowed them to put the panels on his roof.

    I don't know where the panels were made, there are US panel manufacturers - Schott (Alb, NM) First Solar (Phoenix, AZ), Solarworld (CA) - many others. The Germans and other European countries manufacturer much what is used in the solar industry. I have to use German manufacturers for my controls and pumps as American manufacturers are not up to my standards. I do have American manufacturing for all of my solar (thermal) panels. The copper pipe usually comes from Mexico (although copper is mined in my home state). This is "issue", too, is a canard.

    Your asking that question suggests you would be in favor a global environmental standard. Interesting idea.

    PV carbon footprint - the embodied energy payback is less than 2 years. This has been questioned and studied to death. Why are you bringing it up in 2011? Do your questions have an agenda, or are you genuinely not-knowledgeable about solar PV? Here is the information you could have found with less than 30 seconds if you were genuinely curious

    Your summary statement isn't true as you didn't bother to get your facts correct in the first place. However, it is true that "n order to go "Green" we must first pollute beyond recovery while redistributing wealth to those whom don't need it and don't care" - it is obvious that no action will be taken until the the effects of the current wealth redistribution from the workers/middle class/poor to the rich has resulted in revolutionary-levels wealth inequalities, and an environment so degraded even those who will not see will be forced to look and act.

    Why do you have an emotional (and factually baseless) response to renewable energy? Solar PV is the MOST expensive mainstream way of making electricity. It doesn't mean that it has no role. And the costs are going down (faster than the rates of wind and wave, and of course faster than the rates for fossil fuel, which are going UP). It's output curve is a fairly close match to the AC/factory load peak in the American Southwest. So power companies can invest in PV and avoid the cost of creating additional centralized plants that would ONLY run during the peak PV hours.

    You often find synchronicities like that when using renewables. For example, my solar heating customers have to "endure" warmer, more comfortable homes in the fall, early winter and early spring in order to maximize the output of their solar heating system. Bizarrely, they don't complain.

    Here is a simpler, more correct value judgement for you to consider:

    "The body of evidence in climate change REQUIRES an active mitigation response."

    For what it is worth - I thought your negative income tax idea was very interesting, and new to me (I realized in researching it that it has been around for awhile). If what you are doing isn't working - *try something else*!
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  20. Sphaerica @ 317

    How about:

    Denying the harmful impact "Green" policies have on developing countries.

    Denying the harmful impact "Green" policies will have on the indigent in western countries.

    Denying economic powerhouses like Russia, China, Brazil care little about AGW.

    Denying Spain's "Green" revolution has financially deviated that country.

    Denying the impossibility of engineering a product such that it can have 240 W input and generate a 390 W output. (I know mod...2nd law thread)
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    [dana1981] Most of your examples here are simply wrong.  For example, see the rebuttals to Renewable energy investment kills jobs and CO2 limits will hurt the poor.  "Denying" a falsehood doesn't qualify as denial.

  21. Sphaerica at 04:41 AM on 5 June, 2011

    Other interesting examples of the word... google each of them...
    Asbestos Denialism

    Vaccine Denialism (and Vaccine Skeptics -- get that? They already grabbed the word "skeptics," too)
    Can anyone think of others?

    Many thanks for your quotes and suggestions. Most of them are new to me and most of my friends and family, I must lead a sheltered life. The use of this term is interesting as I guess it’s the new heresy, if something is 95% correct, so no-one can ever discuss whether or not it is 100% correct, because they will then be termed as “denialisr” or “heretic” or some equally aggressive and derogatory term. Lets be honest about this, I think many of the dissenters are wrong and politically motivated, and I will fight for the truth, but I will also fight for their right to an opinion. If what I see is condemnation in the most aggressive way against anyone who has an idea which goes against accepted thought, (regardless of how muddle headed or wrong that opinion is) then I suspect we may be moving towards a dark age in scientific thought which is deeply worrying. To never allow dissenting opinion is a form of denialism in itself, the mirror image of the other side. The people of autocratic governments understand this principle, but I suspect here in the west in our search for climate action, we are forgetting basic human rights, and one of those critical rights is the right to be wrong without being pilloried and condemned. And that is the worst form of denial, the denial of human rights.
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  22. scaddenp, sorry I didn't see your question (in 292) until now. I am ideologically driven as you say, so I cannot simply compare costs. There are lots of problems with restricting trade including black markets and economic distortions. For example, people might burn an apple tree for heating fuel. How are supposed to know not to do that without an economic signal for the relative value of future apples and present fuel? Would we want the government to take control of all apple trees?

    I don't see how a tariff of the scale needed to offset the export of our CO2 production would be anything other than a nightmare, way too high to not create huge black markets and a very large and corrupt government. I think other libertarians would agree oppose a very large tariff. The only way to stop the black market and other ill effects would be a world government that would be a complete anathema to libertarians.

    I would propose the alternative that I learned in the 80's in my brief stint as an environmentalist: think globally, act locally. You complained (post 279) about the expense of building a seawall or moving your local airport yet thinking globally would preclude having your own large convenient airport. How about having a small airport to connect you to some other large airport? I don't need an airport, why do you?
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  23. dana1981 @ 320

    you said:

    "Denying" a falsehood doesn't qualify as denial.

    In other words; Denial is in the eye of of the accuser.
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    [dana1981] No, a denier denies facts.  You're entitled to your own opinions, not your own facts.

  24. Jigoro @323,

    You make assertions without the backing of a single well sourced fact, and when shown such facts that contradict your claims, you continue unabated. That is denial.
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  25. Eric (sk). But you are also respectful of science - which must mean you have indicators in mind which would tell you when your opinion is wrong. As I said in Jigoro, I find your inability to come up effective CO2 emission reduction strategy within your ideology disturbing. If you cannot conceive of a solution, then surely you recognize that you run the risk of rationalization for doing nothing rather than proper examination of reality as revealed by science. CO2 emissions is where you must think globally. Your emissions are what will drown the great deltas populated by people with far less resources to fix them. You might ask instead for your libertarian vision to somehow empower them but we both know that if science is right, that wont happen fast enough to be empower anything (do to what? invade their neighbour?). I am sorry but I think you are trivializing other peoples problems because of your inability to conceive solutions within your value system. I would urge you to try harder because its a problem for many others in your country too and the world actually needs the Right to striving as well. Consider a different hypothetical problem - an asteroid incoming, say 40% chance of strike on US. Solution possible but takes vast sum of money to fix and a very short time frame. What's the solution within your value system?

    My local issues? Look at Dunedin NZ. Not a large convenient airport but a small one located a long way from city. Reason for existence is the port servicing a wide hinterland. I wonder if you would be so sure of your ideology if you were going to be personally effected.

    In my country, a hot political issue would be highest rate of child abuse in western world. The left and right have very different solutions but neither side denies there is a problem. We need political spectrum to have same focus on climate change, not one side in denial.
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  26. Eric, also you raise all the issue about carbon tariff but no solutions. If it works, does it matter if something isnt perfect?
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  27. Jigoro Kano 323 - this is a perfect microcosm of the whole denial problem. The pro-science crowd says lets look at the science and come up with a policy (if necessary) to deal with any problems.

    The denialist crowd ALWAYS avoids the real issues. Now you are claiming that if anyone disputes any of your list of untruths that you threw up that they are a "denier". Cute, but intellectually unsatisfying.

    Science and observed reality don't care how many semantic games you play. The world is warming, human activity is responsible.

    It is like I told all those climategate people a few years ago - emails are NOT melting the arctic, nor causing ocean acidification, nor warming the globe.

    If it helps - yes I absolutely deny the untruths you spouted in 320. I invoke reality.
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  28. garethman,
    ...never allow dissenting opinion is a form of denialism in itself...
    Certainly. No one would argue that, or for stifling free speech.

    But where do you draw the line between free speech, and loud, orchestrated, wholesale misinformation and an all out assault on science? Because that is what we see from the legions of climate deniers, and their leaders (Monckton, Lindzen, etc.).

    They are deniers, and of the most despicable kind, because they make up most of what they say, they use tactics instead of truth, and they undermine all of science in the process.

    If Diogenes and I ever wander across an honest man a skeptic, I'll let you know.

    But I will call a denier what he is, and the fact that he recoils so forcefully from the name exposes the bare, frightening truth behind the label. They don't like it, and they deny it, because it is what they are.
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  29. scaddenp, about drowning the deltas with all those people, that will take decades if not centuries (diff thread of course). Also those are not my personal emissions even with every indirect emission added in, not to mention my 50 new trees and other offsets. Not my HOA where we maintain 8 miles of roads on a $50k / year budget (read low emissions). Not much at my state level (VIrginia) At my federal level I as an American have some effect. It is small, a fraction of a degree anomaly (based on models) which makes no difference to those deltas. But adding in the indirect emissions is when we finally get to some amounts that can substantively lower the manmade CO2 rise.

    I don't ever stop wondering if am wrong and the CO2 will dramatically increase the water vapor with the necessary change in weather patterns to do that (e.g. there would be fewer tornadoes with a much more northerly jet among other things). When that happens and the Greenland temperatures really do rise the 10C needed to melt quickly (various ice models), what would I do at that point? First I would suggest rebuilding your airport at Mosgiel which is about 20 minutes drive. I would donate more for education and I would start donating for foreign educations. I would ask for refugees since we have some room and they add to our country's vitality. Are you really asking me to toss aside my belief in the human potential? That we must all huddle mindlessly while waiting for the government to do something?

    If you insist on that, I will vote some sensible government solutions. For example, it is clear that increases in precipitation are a negative feedback, so I would try to figure out ways to speed up the water cycle. But I would shy away from radiative solutions that might not be easy to undo (e.g. sulfur in the atmosphere, etc)
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  30. Jigoro,
    Really! Do some research. I had hoped you would be a fresh voice with libertarian ideas that were internally consistent (something libertarians have a lot of trouble with), but you appear to be reposting the same easily disproved claims over and over again.

    1. Spain had a housing/credit collapse. They also made significant investments in renewable infrastructure. The two events are not tightly related and the latter mitigated the former.

    2. China and Brazil have CO2 records that are impressive. Look into Brazil's development of REAL biofuels (ie ethanol not from corn) and its impact on its CO2 output. Look into China's renewable efforts. They are huge, so they also have coal, nuclear, oil, etc. But to say they "don't care" about CO2 is only possible by cherry picking the data.

    3. Review the thread "models are unreliable" or take a look at Hansen 1988. I don't know if you are speaking of an outlier, there are a (very) few who confuse the speed of the changes (unprecedented in nature) with *imminent* doom. Instead, under BAU - doom is put off at least until 2050! But the science indicates we will reach irreversible tipping points before the full detrimental effects of increased CO2 are fully realized (diamonds are not the only form of carbon that is (virtually) forever...)

    4. I don't understand what you are asking, but we use transformers to change the characteristics of electrical output. No magic though.

    Finally, you confuse the rational recognition of alarming facts (the globe is warming, the oceans are rising, heating and acidifying and human activity is to blame) with "alarmism" - which would be exaggerating those alarming data points. But this site does not feature exaggeration (no alarmism is needed, the real world data is alarming enough!), indeed any attempt to do so is shot down by fellow posters and moderators alike, Just as false claims to "skepticism" are eviscerated immediately.

    You are welcome.

    Repeating a lie does not make it true. And that is true every time it is said.
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  31. Sphaerica @328,

    "But I will call a denier what he is, and the fact that he recoils so forcefully from the name exposes the bare, frightening truth behind the label. They don't like it, and they deny it, because it is what they are."

    Probably one of the most powerful and true comments on this entire thread. Bravo!

    It is rather amusing how those in denial about AGW are now frantically trying to reframe the argument, as well as try and turn the term on its head (i.e., we "warmists" are the ones in denial). Unbelievable....
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  32. scaddenp @325, it is in fact trivially easy to come up with a solution to the need for carbon mitigation based on libertarian principles:

    1) One recognise that the atmosphere's ability to absorb Greenhouse Gasses without catastrophic climate change is a limited resource;

    2) Assign a property right to emit GHG;

    3) Hand out those property rights to all people without charge on an equal basis globally (ie, every person receives the same initial emissions quota); and

    4) Make the permits tradable so the market can determine the most efficient final allocation of the permits.

    There are problems with such a scheme relating to governance and verification, but they are certainly solvable. There are greater problems in that the US at present rates of consumption would run through its emission rights in six years. That probably requires some fudging to give US citizens greater emission rights than those of their global neighbours. However, any such fudging would contradict libertarian principles and should be strenuously resisted by any true libertarian.

    Transparently, given the scientific evidence, any true libertarian would be a strenuous advocate of global emissions permits on a strict per capita basis. Very few (if any) libertarians are prepared to face up to the inconvenience that would involve. So rather than face up to the fact that they are violating their principles, and fully intend to continue doing so, they retreat into denialism.
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  33. actually thoughtfull @ 319

    You never answered my question:

    Do you think they bought solar because of environmental concerns or because the incentives (tax money) they received?

    Do you think the outfit which sold the PV grid would have even bothered if not for those incentives?

    Your liked document did not address the carbon foot print of PV cells. Personally I couldn't care less about the footprint, but as matter of forthrightness, alarmist should. EPBT assumes all energy generation is equal; which I know you do not believe.

    You asked:
    "Why do you have an emotional (and factually baseless) response to renewable energy?"

    Emotional no. I completely object to subsidizing ANY energy production. A little OT, redistributing wealth for any purpose is theft. It is not the government's to give.

    Solar thermal, is a great way to offset heating cost. Very little upstart cost, quick ROI and for those whom care Green. Do you recommend Evacuated Tubes or Flat Panels. Have you investigated using a Sterling Generator in conjunction with thermal Tubes/Panels for electrical generation.

    @ 327

    Deniers, always blah..blah..blah never blah..blah..blah science blah..blah..blah. You don't seen to understand my position. And before I get snipped, it 2nd law thing.
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  34. Jigaro Kano @320:

    I don't deny that any policy, no matter how desirable, can have harmful impacts if poorly implemented. But given that caveat:

    1) I deny that green policies need have a harmful impact on developing countries; and in fact think most developing countries would benefit from greener policies - both their own and from the west.

    2) I deny that green policies need harm the indigent and consider the presence of indigent people in any western country an indictment of that governments economic and social policies. I also deny that green policies need have a harmful impact the ordinary poor.

    3) I deny that Russia and China care little about AGW (I don't know the situation in Brazil), although Russia did not care until the summer of 2010 gave them a reality check.

    4) I deny that green policies where the cause of Spains economic woes.

    So if you want to call me a "green policy catastrophism denier", go right ahead. I'll wear the label with pride, and I will do so because I know that I can defend my opinions rationally.
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  35. Tom Curtis @ 332

    you said:

    3) Hand out those property rights to all people without charge on an equal basis globally (ie, every person receives the same initial emissions quota);

    What if I used more then my permit allowed? How would you know I did or did not?
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  36. Jigoro Kano @335, if you wish the permit market to operate on libertarian principles, there would need to be a fine emitting beyond your permitted amount. I would make the fine a set multiple (four times is reasonable) of the highest value emissions permit trade, with part of the money being used to buy permits to cover the excess emission, and the rest being used to cover administrative costs.

    For practical reasons permits should be handed out periodically with a set fraction handed out each year to avoid market failures. Also to avoid market failures it would be desirable if permits expired 15 months after being issued, though I don't know that that can be made consistent with libertarian principles.

    Emissions would be assessed based on activities. If, for example, you purchase some fuel, and later no longer have that fuel, you would be assessed for the emissions value of that fuel. For practical purposes it would be advisable to require the assessment to be made at the first sale of the fuel (forcing the fossil fuel companies to buy up the permits) but a more flexible system could be designed to suit libertarian scruples at higher administrative cost.
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  37. Jigoro Kano - I assure you I have no idea what your position is on climate change. I have a very easy rule you can check yourself against:

    The body of evidence in climate change REQUIRES an active mitigation response.

    If you agree and are taking action - you are a true skeptic. If you disagree (for whatever little reason you might have) you are a denier. After many years of engaging in quibbling over the acres of minutia, I have finally boiled down to either you are taking action, or you are condemning our offspring to a dramatically lower quality of life (up to and including shorter, or not at all).

    If you are struggling with the 2nd law there is a thread for that. As for me, I have no trouble with it. Because I stick with the science, not the sophistry.

    As for redistributing wealth, by not valuing the pollution externality with such horrific outcomes -it is the denier who is engaged in inter-generational wealth transfer.

    As for solar thermal, doing it right in a freezing climate is much more expensive than most people realize. It is a valuable technology that works. Unsubsidized paybacks compared to propane or electricity are in the 10-14 year range. Compared to natural gas, it is roughly double that. Design lifetimes are 100 year minimum.

    Evacuated tubes are great for cold climates - EXCEPT the vacuum only lasts ~15 years. If that works for you then it is a good deal. A flat panel has a 100 year life (drainback, roughly half that if you use glycol).

    I have provided sources that point out the energy payback is roughly 2 years. You know want it cast some other way. Do you own research and provide a source for how long the carbon payback is. Or use my figures and the national average for energy production. Or find the figures for the factories (I even gave you towns). It is a non-issue, and will remain so. I invoke reality.

    As for my neighbor - he received no tax incentive. He is another confused libertarian. I do like his idea of putting all material in the dump so future generations know where to find it.

    He made a deal with the the local monopoly provider of electrons to host solar panels on his roof in exchange for a stable electricity rate over the next 20 years. The monopoly provider will probably maximize their profits by selling the REC or satisfying a requirement that they produce so much by renewables. This company has exceeded all state requirements, and has found it profitable to use solar PV as a source for peak electricity, even to the point of providing subsidies (again beyond the state mandate). This is called the (lightly regulated) free market.

    Any installer is paid their full costs, so your question doesn't make any sense. Would they have any customers without the incentives? They would have fewer (I speak from personal experience here in the solar thermal market). Are all energy source subsidized? Yes. Once you charge people for the right to mess up the atmosphere this whole thing becomes *not confusing* - even to libertarians.

    Free markets require perfect information to operate effectively (this is assumed in all economic models) - the lack of a price signal with carbon emissions means my definition we do not have a free market.

    True market force fans (such as myself) are in favor of putting the missing price signal on carbon so the free market can do its magic. Which will be the rise of renewables, and the death of fossil fuels.

    Put more colorfully, there is no force on earth greater an Americans desire to legally avoid taxes. Once a "tax" on carbon exists, this problem is virtually solved, and we can move on to lesser matters like the debt crisis, job creation (actually solved by putting a price on carbon) and reforming entitlements.

    But none of that matters if we are going to foul the next with CO2.
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  38. Good, Eric, that is what I would expect from you. However, I am not so sure about your attempts to distance yourself from the emissions. US has made massive contribution to CO2 in the atmosphere already, especially on a per capita basis. And I believe that this issue for the US is the coal power station more than oil (where rising prices will eventually force alternatives). So how is your electricity produced?

    I remain unimpressed that your measures would have any reasonable effect in the timeframe available, but of course we disagree about urgency.

    "First I would suggest rebuilding your airport at Mosgiel which is about 20 minutes drive."
    That is more or less where it is (the old airport is just beside it). However all that flat land is 1m above sealevel or less. Its the lack of flat land that is problem. Note also that travel arteries to north,south and west are all at risk.

    "Are you really asking me to toss aside my belief in the human potential? That we must all huddle mindlessly while waiting for the government to do something?"

    The "government" is us collectively doing something. I'm waiting for your suggestions of "sensible" government action. You seem to putting a standard of perfection above a standard of effectiveness. You are concentrating on adaption or engineering. I am asking, in the hypothetical case of being convinced that CO2 emission must be limited, what is the effective libertarian way to do it. You seem to be implying that there is possibility of limited emissions that is acceptable.

    "it is clear that increases in precipitation are a negative feedback, so I would try to figure out ways to speed up the water cycle."

    Its not clear to me at all. I am not sure what you mean. Can you explain further, preferably with reference?
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  39. Jigaro - Based on Vattenfall study, solar photovoltaics produce 50 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour of energy produced with 974 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour.

    Not that I think PV is answer but CSP might be PART of an answer.
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  40. Tom, the complexity of such a system will not appeal to libertarians. Its interesting that if a property is devalued by government (eg government just bans any new coal-fired generation without emission capture, like our previous one did), this is regarded as unacceptable theft of coal owners wealth and unacceptable restraint on freedom. It would appear though that most will accept control of F, SO2 etc into environment as these infringe the rights of others. On the other hand, loss of property to climate-accelerated erosion which was in no way the fault of the person incurring the loss is acceptable. Just part of the "adaption".
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  41. actually thoughtfull @337

    You said:
    "The body of evidence in climate change REQUIRES an active mitigation response."

    If and only if the physics (radiative forcing) is a true mechanism. All damming CO2 data means nothing if the solution (cap and tax) doesn't mitigate the problem.

    I invite you to the 2nd law thread for your explanation on how an engineered product can have 240 W input and generate a 390 W output.
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  42. 341, Jigoro,

    Oh, God, not another 2nd Law is being violated theorist. Why are there so many of these? It's embarrassing to the human race.

    Denial, plain and simple. If you have to start misapplying physics to make your point... and your position is at odds with even all leading denial climate scientists (Spencer, Lindzen, Choi, Pielke Sr., Christy, Curry, etc., my word, it's even at odds with Jo Nova!!!) then you know that you are a true denier. Indeed, name one even marginally reputable scientists who has signed on to the 2nd Law insanity.

    If you need to go claiming that a theory that is accepted by flat out everyone engaged in the science is wrong for something as simple as a child's interpretation of how to apply the laws of Thermodynamics, well... you are a denier.

    [And you actually give other deniers a bad name.]
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  43. actually thoughtfull @337

    You said:
    True market force fans (such as myself) are in favor of putting the missing price signal on carbon so the free market can do its magic. Which will be the rise of renewables, and the death of fossil fuels.

    I love the free market, but I'm not in favor of cap and tax. In fact most true market fan are not in favor of government controlled and regulated CO2 market system.
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  44. scaddenp @340, I do not say the system I describe would be acceptable to libertarians. All I say is that it is consistent with their stated principles. As your comment makes plane, doing nothing about GHG emissions is actually inconsistent with libertarian principles in that it involves the degrading of other peoples privately held assets without their agreement and without compensation. Neither of these facts (the consistency with their principles of an emission permit scheme, and the inconsistency with those principles of doing nothing) will, IMO, impact on the decisions of many, if any libertarians. That is because libertarianism is IMO a true ideology, ie, an inconsistent or incoherent value system adopted consciously or unconsciously because it acting according to the supposed requirements of the value system is personally beneficial. I say "supposed requirements" because as the system in inconsistent, adherents to the system must pick and choose which requirements to actually follow.
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  45. Jigaro Kano @341, I have dealt with your misunderstandings regarding the greenhouse effect and electrical circuits here. Kindly discuss it on the appropriate thread or not at all.
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  46. Jigoro - but you dont offer any effective CO2 emission control as an alternative. I'm with Hansen on this - I dont cap and trade will do any good at all. His "fee and dividend" proposal is interesting but I'm just as happy with just ban it and let the market figure it out within the constraints. We dont let aluminium plants vent F, coal plant vent SO2, etc. You would have more credibility if you could offer a truly "effective" alternative but then I have just seen your comments on 2nd Law. Time you took a trip to Science of Doom.

    Please try and convince me that you are not rationalizing denial because your ideology is bankrupt of ideas for effective CO2 emission control.
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  47. Jigaro Kano @343, if you are not in favour of a government regulated market in CO2 emission permits, then the logical step for you to take as a libertarian is to ban any emissions from any property other than the results of natural processes except where the emitter has independently negotiated with all potentially effected people for permission to do so. It is very obvious that on libertarian principles you do not have the right to dump your rubbish on my land without my permission. Clearly the bar against dumping applies not just because the noxious substance is solid, or liquid, but because it potentially harms me, or the value of my property. Well, CO2 emissions potentially harm all humans and the value of property of millions. Ergo, not dumping without individually negotiated permission is a straight forward consequence of libertarian principles, once you reject a regulated market.

    Cue the usual libertarian sophistry about how their principles don't have their obvious consequences except when those consequences are beneficial to the libertarian ...
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  48. Garethman:

    If what I see is condemnation in the most aggressive way against anyone who has an idea which goes against accepted thought, (regardless of how muddle headed or wrong that opinion is) then I suspect we may be moving towards a dark age in scientific thought which is deeply worrying. To never allow dissenting opinion is a form of denialism in itself

    So Garethman thinks geologists are evil for laughing at those who insist the earth is only 6,000 years old.

    Look, bible-thumpers are free to make the claim and no one says we can't "allow dissenting opinion".

    The fact that we laugh at them and point out their total disconnect with reality does not make us guilty of "denialism".

    We not only have science on our side, but oil and coal without which you probably wouldn't be getting the electricity that allows you to post such bunk.

    People are free to insist the world is flat, 6,000 years old, and that CO2 lasers don't work.

    We're free to point a CO2 laser at their forehead and test their faith (with, of course, their permission and the signing of proper release forms) ...
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  49. Further note to Eric(sk). On attribution of emissions... Is the responsibility for emissions from coal-powered consumer good with the consumer or with the producer? If its with the producer and there is no mechanism by with they pay the environment costs associated with production, then why would they not burn coal? If its with the consumer, then where is most of the consumer goods produced in China going to?
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  50. JK is a true denialist:

    "If and only if the physics (radiative forcing) is a true mechanism."

    This has not been an issue for something close on 500 years (Tyndall).

    If you don't like physics, kill your computer. Even stone-aged living required physics (not identified at the time, but shaping points was/is dependent on nativist knowledge of how various rocks react to forceful blows).
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