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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 351 to 400 out of 488:

  1. scaddenp @ 268,
    took a longer look at the paper you referenced, Benestad & Schmidt. A few things bother me with the CO2 connection.

    First, the short time span of actual CO2 data ( 1958-2009)
    Second, the reliance of proxy CO2 data for earlier ( pre-1958)
    Third, the lack of comparing long term ( > 20 years) temperature variations to CO2 (GHG) variations.

    Have you noticed that?
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  2. dhogaza @350, I'm sure you meant 200 years, however I believe 50 years is the appropriate figure with the work of Gilbert Plass overcoming the major objections to the theory.
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    [DB] Fixed Link.

  3. scaddeno,
    P.S. Clarification of the 3rd item. It is not seeing the connection between the 1880-1910 & the 1945-1955 global temperature dips and CO2 concentrations. One would think you would see something.
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  4. scaddenp, when you proposed your hypothetical up in this thread, I didn't realize you wanted to add lots of urgency. Now I see in 279, you want 50% reduction in 50 years. Do you accept nuclear power in this hypothetical? Regardless of electricity production method, we would still have to cut transportation fuel use in half. Libertarians would start with drastic cuts in government energy use, starting with DoE itself (would have to stop making nuclear weapons and stop cleaning up the mess from previous weapon making). Then get rid of the government fleet (200k vehicles) and the post office (200k more vehicles) Unfortunately that still leaves 200m private vehicles. Removing federal regulations would cut energy use (net) by removing such impediments to efficiency such as "crash safety" and "clean air" (my understanding is that Europe has dirtier diesels with better mileage)

    With that, we are still at the margins. Reduction in miles traveled is going to hammer the economy. But there's a nice Libertarian way out, cut taxes to boost entrepreneurship. Regardless of the climate debate, I would eliminate corporate income taxes and long term capital gains (maybe lengthen the term to 2 from 1 year) To reduce the miles, I would privatize the highways and let them sell credits for keeping them empty. To make it more expensive to use local roads we could have private subdivisions like mine with shoestring budgets with 100% resident funding (ours is about $8k per mile per year). Then an arrangement so that the trip to the privately maintained office park and shopping complex costs $20 but returned in credits instead of the current $2 in fuel. The credits would be given out as coupons for stores or bonuses by employers.

    Even with that, we have an economic friction problem. In order to get the best job match people have to travel a lot, especially the way the business and homes are laid out here. That might require more than the tax elimination and (what I didn't mention) restoring the long term value of money. Before and during the Civil War my area was an industrial mecca with a limestone quarry (on my property) a lime kiln (still there next door) and a furnace nearby for metal working. That also meant we had zero (really truly zero) trees left and lots of CO2 emissions from making quicklime. But the same ideas could be applied to many newer industries with some zoning flexibility, new small scale manufacturing, and local distribution and sales. Well, that's not very difficult now is it?

    The weather modification idea came from an article I read about it using ships to create clouds over the ocean. Lots of extensions are possible to most efficiently increase the water cycle. Heck, we could probably use frickin laser beams to do it.
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  5. Jigoro Kano: "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."

    Sigh. It is time for you to choose - AGAIN. I grant you your right to think this (generous of me, I know). But you can't really claim to be a free market guy AND deny free markets all the information they need. Pick one. Either you believe in free markets, and all that entails (fully informed buyers and sellers) or you prefer a jerry-rigged system. It doesn't matter to me if the government fixes it or big business or my Aunt Edna - it is a fixed market and non-optimal outcomes are pouring out of it.

    The irony here is that we "greenies" out libertarian the libertarians and out conserve the conservatives. It all comes from being internally consistent in your world view, and thinking through the repercussions. I invite you to try it.

    A carbon tax provides the information. You either need to come up with a method for introducing the missing information, or admit you are not a free market guy (IF you want to be intellectually honest).

    As for the 2nd law - do me a favor. Write it up, get it peer reviewed and published. Then John Cook or another talented writer on this site will review it. THEN I will read their review, and if it still doesn't make sense, I will read your actual paper. Other than that - no way am I falling for your 2nd amendment follies. Life is short! I just don't need a 240 watt or 390 watt power supply.
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  6. Eric (skeptic) - if that is the choice, give me the carbon tax! It sure appears to be a case of your cure is worse than the disease (kicking the can on carbon taxes).

    Any economist will tell you that a pure/simple tax on carbon is the most straight forward way to change people's behavior regarding CO2. Your solution has me 1 scratching my head and 2 wondering why you are so wrapped around the axle.

    Why not follow the KISS principle?
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  7. 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) ...

    Interestingly you elegantly re-enforce my message by condemning me for suggesting that everyone should have the right of opinion. Saying that opinion is "such bunk” is revealing in itself. Using religion to support your argument was possibly not the best tactic. While I do not agree with people who have an odd ideas based on religion, I do not laugh at them or ensure derogatory terms are applied to them and used in various sites to attack them. Their beliefs may be strange, but apparently huge number of people in the USA believe people can rise from the dead after 3 days, so much so they congregate to worship such things and ensure Presidents toe the line on such beliefs. Laugh at them? possibly, if they are vulnerable it’s easy. What names do you give to their Islamic equivalents or is that a bit more of a challenge?
    The reality is we may have such ideas with regard to religion, especially the fundamentalist type, but we do not give them derogatory labels on such popular sites as this and hold them up to ridicule.

    With regard to power generation, my solar panels cope with everything I need and more. I say again, I may not agree with what people say, but I defend their right to say it, and while the pro-climate change group are undoubtedly correct in the majority of what they say, they come across as a pretty unsavoury and even nasty lot when they have to answer and queries which require thought and explanation. Denialism can be applied in many ways, not just with regard to what is important to oneself.
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  8. actually thoughtfull, the market is not simple, why should the solution be simple? The biggest problem with the carbon tax is the size of the tax needed to distort the market to reduce emissions to the extent desired would result in an unimaginably large black market. The problem is that you would be fighting the market, not working with it, it will always find a way to produce goods at the lowest possible price working around whatever Rube Goldberg system is set up to track energy use.

    China can't produce enough power (I posted a link on another thread), can't track power usage, can't stop bootleg power users (e.g. politically-connected industry reselling power to unconnected industry) We already export a great deal of emissions to China today. Would we simply tax any imported good from China? Even if we could (the politicians would want to muck it up with loopholes) the tariff would be easily bypassed by laundering the goods through other countries. Tax any good from any country? The politicians would have a field day. Tear open every container at point of entry? I order online and have my packages shipped directly from China. Tear open every package from China? That starts to heavily invade privacy and inhibit trade. Last year I placed some orders for small parts for a particular research reason, not because I wanted the goods (I unloaded them to unknown people at the flea market for my cost).

    We would have other practical problems like determining the energy content of goods, mainly not penalizing goods that have genuinely reduced energy inputs or enhance energy efficiency here. We would have problems with the black market; I have gone to the flea market most weeks in good weather for about 10 years, and there are ever-intcreaising amounts of bootleg junk from China. Everything from digital goods, electronics, to batteries, all knock-offs of major brands made to look exactly like the original or changing a letter or two in the name (e.g. "Tociba"). The trade in these goods is literally beyond the control of government.
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  9. garethman, elegantly re-enforce my message by condemning...
    No. This is typical denial speak. Twist the message, so you actually have someone to fight against.

    No one is condemning you. We're laughing at you. And we're trying to make people realize that your positions (because deniers don't have one position, they have millions, anything that is at odds with the truth)... we're trying to make people realize that your positions have no foundation whatsoever in reality, no matter how hard you try to condemn twist the facts to make it appear to be so.

    We're also trying to help you to realize that your position, while in your own very short term interests, is not in anyone's long term interests, and is in fact a threat to modern civilization and human lives, well being, and standards of living.

    I do not laugh at them or ensure derogatory terms...
    Deniers do this in wave after wave, on a hundred times as many blogs and comment threads as serious, thoughtful people do. Don't play the "oh, we're all nice" card. It's as laughable as your lack of a scientific position.

    Oh, and the whole "religion" tack is yet another debate ploy, although I find it very enlightening (pun intended) that you've equated denialism to a religion. How true.
    The reality is we may have such ideas with regard to religion, especially the fundamentalist type, but we do not give them derogatory labels on such popular sites as this and hold them up to ridicule.
    Yes, because they are religions. They are people's personal beliefs, to which everyone is entitled.

    As Senator Moynihan said, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

    This is about science, not religion, no matter how often deniers attempt to cast it as such, and no matter how often deniers accuse scientists (boy, is this laughable) of being "believers" and of modern climate science as being a "religion."

    So your analogy was perfect. It highlights exactly what needs to be said.

    This is about science, not religion.

    This is about truth, not opinions.

    Hiding behind freedom of speech and freedom of religion so that you are "free" to trumpet ignorance, idiocy, and falsehoods (like the 2nd Law nonsense) is cowardice and cowardly tactics, pure and simple.
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  10. Sphaerica:

    Thanks for your post. You will note I did suggest that using religion as a metaphor for science belief was not a good idea. I did not initially raise that concept I challenged it. My point is that people who are complete believers and evangelists for the subject of climate change can get pretty nasty with anyone who does not toe the the line. This happens to an extent with the right wingers on WUWT, though there is no equivalent thread at present.on that site. You may not agree with my perspective on the right to be wrong, but you interestingly use words like: idiocy, cowardice, ignorance,falsehood, laughable, ploy, denial speak ( a new one on me) twisting the message and lots more besides.In fact I had some difficulty tracing the line of your argument through the insults. Apparently you are stating my position as a so called “denier” (despite the fact I have said I fully believe in the majority of climate science and run a low carbon household) is twisted and has no foundation whatsoever.
    What position is that? Interestingly as a non-expert I tend to steer clear of debating Science, I don’t have enough knowledge of the underlying theory. My expertise is ethics and psychology, and I approach the subject of the difference between sceptics, revisionists , Taliban and evangelists from that perspective. It may be evil and wrong to to do such a thing, or to suggest that it can be part of our freedoms to allow people to be mistaken in their scientific beliefs, but my personal and subjective view as that a great disservice is done to the movement by treating fellow humans in this dehumanising and condemning fashion. Dehumanising a group of people by giving them negative titles or stereotypes is usually the first step in some pretty dodgy goals.
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  11. Top poste this morning on Climate Progress

    "Australian climate scientists face death threats, cyberbullying"
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  12. SEAN O'FARRELL at 22:57 PM on 5 June, 2011
    Top poste this morning on Climate Progress

    "Australian climate scientists face death threats, cyberbullying”

    This is truly awful, but the inevitable result of the disdain which both camps, treat each other. Both right wing fundamentalists opposers and climate Taliban both have a lot to answer for.
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    [DB] "inevitable""camps"?  "climate Taliban"?

    Very revealing as to mindset and ideology.  Surely your background in ethics would make you realize the communications gaffes you are committing here.

  13. Garethman - what is a "climate Taliban" - I have never heard that term. Whatever it means, invoking the "Taliban" - both a religious term and a highly charged one is not in keeping with your posts that claim you want the debate to avoid insults.

    Am I right in saying your point here is that the AGW (aka pro science) crowd is alienating people by being so fervent in their position?

    If so I think you should consider that we are on post 360+ of a thread that has featured 10 or more posters saying "well I believe in one tiny part of this (maybe that the earth is warming" ... but I am not convinced" and the science crowd responding with "what in particular do you not agree with" OR "look it is science - there are ALWAYS open questions and things to trace down - but the overwhelming preponderance of evidence says we have the biggest problem we have ever faced, and chasing down these (99.9% or more) bogus and/or outright lies is a distraction from solving the problem."

    So if you get a strong response by claiming that if only the pro science crowd were nicer than all the deniers (word chosen carefully) will see reason - it is to be expected.

    You will also find these same posters will bend over backwards to explain a challenging issue to someone actually trying to understand.

    The frustration is we are DECADES past the easy mitigation, and staring down the barrel of some VERY nasty results. It has come to the point that those who say "tut tut..let's see what the research says in 10 years" are now condemning my children to a remarkably less hospitable planet.

    I DON'T LIKE people who do that! Now anyone who wants to understand, or point out we don't know everything (but is taking notable action) - that is A-OK with me.

    It isn't holding different beliefs that is the problem. To bring it back to the Taliban (and Chrissie Hynde) - I have no problem with them until they start dropping bombs on my street.

    Street meaning my life/country.

    The deniers, by enabling (and worse fomenting for) inaction, are dropping bombs.
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    Moderator Response: No all-caps, please.
  14. garethman @362, here you where making a nice argument that, wouldn't it be nice if we stopped all the insults and than you go and drop term like "climate taliban", meaning pro-science debaters on the internet, ie, me amongst others. Well, I can't give you top marks for the worst insult I have received from a denier. Afterall, I have been called an eco-nazi and accused of desiring mass genocide. "Climate taliban" is pretty tame after that.

    But it is far worse an insult than anything Sphaerica has said in the course of this debate.

    I mean, seriously, way to kill your credibility.

    It helps us get some perspective on this whole discussion though. Right from the get go, the terms deniers have been using to describe climate scientists have been far worse than the terms used back the other way. I call climate change deniers "deniers" which, in the end, just accuses them of having a mental block. In return I am accused of fraud, deceit and of desiring genocide. Being fair, some of the main deniers have been accused (with good reason) of scientific fraud, but the deniers have accused mainstream scientists of fraud, and of conspiracy to implement one world government, or to ruin America (which seeing many of them are US citizens, is an accusation of treason), and of course, of pushing genocide. Oh, and of being "climate taliban".

    Not all deniers have made these sorts of accusations, but all of them turn a blind eye to them, or encourage them with winks and nods. If you don't believe me, name just one well known climate change denier who has publicly condemned Christopher Monckton (who has publicly claimed that the IPCC is a conspiracy to bring about world government by the UN) as a conspiracy theorist, and stated publicly that he will not share a platform with Monckton.

    While deniers will not dissociate them selves from the conspiracy theorists and worse, they have no right to not be considered associates of conspiracy theorists and worse". It is that simple. So if there are any serious critics of climate change out there who are actual skeptics, the onus is on them to clean up their act - to disavow kooks. Only then, and only for those that do, should the scientific community consider politeness a virtue.
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  15. 362, garethman,
    ...people who are complete believers and evangelists for the subject of climate change...
    Problem number one is that you characterize people on the side of science (yes, deniers are on the opposite side, hands down) in this way.

    Forgive me if those who understand the seriousness of the problem also recognize that it is something that is going to take concerted, harmonious action, and it has to happen soon. I would be down right evil if I know what I know and ignored the problem. I am "evangelical" in the same way that someone warns people that the bridge is out on the road ahead.

    Your feeling (emphasis on "feeling," not knowledge) that we are "believers" is also horribly misplaced. This is a huge part of your problem, and the problem with most deniers, that is the idea that our position is a choice and a belief. It is not. It is an understanding and acceptance of the science (while deniers absolutely do not understand, and adamantly do not accept, the sad but inarguable truth behind the science).

    Right there, your post is a failure, after just those two words, "evangelist" and "believer."
    This happens to an extent with the right wingers on WUWT...
    No, it's pervasive and violently so. The reason you don't see it much is because the place is so hideously offensive that no rational person will post there.

    You're kidding yourself if you think that even 10% of deniers are nicey-nice Mr. Rogers types.
    In fact I had some difficulty tracing the line of your argument through the insults...
    And there's another problem. They weren't insults, they were actual observations. This is without question the behavior of deniers, and your attitude, posts, and your own choice of words ("camps," "climate Taliban") demonstrate very clearly your complete inability to appreciate this. can be part of our freedoms to allow people to be mistaken in their scientific beliefs...
    Not when those mistakes threaten the health of our civilization and way of life, and not when they actively and misguidedly use that ignorance and "mistaken beliefs" to put us all at risk. How would you feel about someone who hangs around a school selling cigarettes to kids because he "believes" the science about cancer is wrong?
    Dehumanising a group of people by giving them negative titles or stereotypes is usually the first step in some pretty dodgy goals.
    First, no one is dehumanizing deniers. That's a gross exaggeration. They are clearly all too human, being easily frightened, ignorant, misled, and demonstrating all of the worst traits of humanity in the most vocal of ways.

    Second, do you think the title "racist" is bad? Should we never have labeled people as "racists" and "bigots" because they were only "mistaken in their beliefs?"

    How about warmongers? Is that okay?

    I'm sorry, but your basic point is that we should all just get along, I'm just a guy, like you, but with different opinions.

    Your position fails because:

    1) Deniers don't behave that way, not remotely close, so what goes around comes around. Deniers as a group must consistently lose their venomous hatred (whether you recognize it as such or not).

    2) It's only a belief to deniers. There is no "belief" in truth. Truth is truth. That you won't accept the truth is why there's a name for you.

    3) "Playing nice" isn't going to get us anywhere. I don't care about your feelings. If you were a sensible person, even if you misunderstood the science, you wouldn't care about the label, or rather, it would bother you in that it would motivate you to learn more, without hubris and arrogance, and to try to figure out where you are mistaken.

    So in the end your words are wasted. You are a denier. People who deny the science are deniers. People who actively promote their ignorant position are deniers. People who think WUWT that is a remotely reasonable (or "nice") place are deniers.

    People who care about being called "deniers" are deniers.

    That last point is the whole crux of it. If you didn't care, if the term didn't bother you, then the term probably wouldn't apply to you.

    And it's only one word. One. It's not "alarmist" or "warmist" or "warmista" or "climate Taliban" or "eco-fascist" or "greenie" or "tree hugger" or...

    Are you getting the hint? Deniers are not nice people. They are wrong, they are obstructing action on the most important challenge of the 21st century, and if we push it too far the most important danger that modern civilization has faced since the atom bomb.

    Deniers have no rights.

    True skeptics would, if I ever met one. If you want to start behaving like a skeptic (not the warped, twisted vision of skeptics that deniers present, but rather a true skeptic) then you will be treated with respect, and helped through the tough parts of the science.

    If you want to be a denier, then wear the label proudly, because it is what you are.
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  16. Eric (skeptic),
    If I understand you correctly your problem with a simple carbon tax is that there would be room for people to wiggle out of it.

    I think that is a fair point. However if we accept that as justification for not imposing that tax, we have also ruled out sales tax (barter, drug trade, black market); income tax (see any large corporation, most well-to-do).

    So while a little leakage is inevitable, large-scale fraud will eventually be shut down.

    Let's say the US, Canada, Australia, NA and Europe pass a cap and dividend program. China, India, Russia and all other countries don't. The tax countries impose an equivalent import duty on all goods from non-tax countries.

    If China "launders" through Latvia - no go - still an import tax in the US. If they launder through Germany - they get the tax on entering German, no tax on entering the USA.

    Will some tax evasion occur? Of course. Will it be the nightmare of enforcement you predict? Very unlikely. Their is value (economic) in keeping it simple.

    Compare that to the Frankenstein Cap and Trade system Senator Kerry and the House Democrats put together in 2009. That was complicated and un-enforceable.
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  17. garatheman:

    "Interestingly you elegantly re-enforce my message by condemning me for suggesting that everyone should have the right of opinion."

    You're free to hold what ever opinion you want.

    So am I, and if in my opinion you're being (-Snip-), I'm going to tell you so.

    You seem to have an asymmetric opinion about the right to hold and express one's opinion ...
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    [DB] Please take the road less travelled.

  18. actually thoughtfull, I agree the cap and dividend should be a lot easier to enforce than cap and trade and I would definitely choose that one if those were the only two choices. I downloaded a paper on fuel price elasticity for driving and the basic curve showed a 10 percent decrease in fuel consumption for 25-50 cents increase in price (range was due to variables in driving necessity). Assuming 50 cents and 2004/5 gas prices about $2, that means a bit more than doubling the price to get to scaddenp's 50% target. The trucking industry might be a different story however. But the paper lends support to the idea that it is a lot more effective to simply raise the price of fuel than to try to regulate fuel consumption lower (e.g. CAFE standards).
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  19. J Bob - that is the nature of the best data available. And to repeat the point ad nauseum, CO2 is not the only driver of climate, which is why correlation weakens when other factors are important (eg aerosols, solar).
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  20. Eric(sk).
    "I didn't realize you wanted to add lots of urgency."

    Thats what I meant by effective. I should have been clearer.

    "Do you accept nuclear power in this hypothetical? "

    Sure. For many countries, this seems to be the only viable option.

    "we would still have to cut transportation fuel use in half."

    Well, I think market forces of supply and demand will do that for you without any intervention. The oil exploration industry (which face it, I am part of) has to really hum just to maintain production levels, let alone increase them. And there is only so much damage you can do to the atmosphere with remaining oil/gas stock - not so for coal.

    Now I dont understand you on clean air and safety. You are implying in the libertarian world view that these are government interference that we would be better without? Or that if you want solid reduction then they are the compromise? (If you accept a government role in clean air and safety enforcement, then why dont a government role in CO2 emission control by the way).

    You might want to check current literature on your low cloud creation scheme.
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  21. 365 Sphaerica:
    Deniers have no rights.

    I imagine that sums up our differences. As a person committed to the wellbeing of our ecology, as a person who has taken extensive steps to minimise my carbon footprint and as an individual who believes in the science of climate change ( or most of it anyway) I have now been condemned as a “denier: for questioning free speech. And if, as you suggest, deniers have no rights, human or otherwise, I am not welcome in your world as you see it. I see where you are going on this. A terrible indictment on your values. However I do not believe my fellow ecologist minded friends feel that way about taking away human rights from those who disagree with them, so I will write this off as an aberration not typical of the vast majority of believers in climate change or science.
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  22. 371, garthman,

    Stop twisting everything to extremes. It just makes you look desperate.

    Obviously, any intelligent person would realize that my statement that "deniers have no rights" means they have no rights within the context of the climate science debate (i.e. once they have adopted a position of denial, which means ignoring and distorting the truth, then they have lost all right to be taken seriously, or treated with patience or respect).

    You are the one warping that into "no rights, human or otherwise."

    As far as your personal stance on climate, I haven't seen it. Because I haven't seen it, I won't label you a denier, but if you are so worried about the label, then I imagine your actual stance on climate is nothing like you claim. I'll leave it to you to put that out. But denial does not come in flavors. This is no subset of denialism that is somehow tolerable (to me).

    So if you are eco-this and believe in climate-science-that, but..., then you are a denier. If not, why do you care?

    As far was being welcome in my world, or an indictment on my values... look, this is both less and more than you are making it. Climate change is serious business, and most of the people who try to refute it are buffoons. Anyone who wants to refute it and is not a buffoon simply hasn't admitted to themselves that they are suffering from a component of desire which prevents them from admitting to the truth, or else they have not seriously looked into it deeply enough to understand where they are mistaken.

    In any case; merely foolish and uneducated, blinded by self-interest, or purposely less educated than necessary... no matter which version of denial they suffer from, it is still harmful to the issue for them to promote their ill-founded opinions, and that level of vociferous arrogance earned them the label of denier.

    There is no middle ground. There is no denial point that I have seen in years and years which is worth taking seriously.

    So, given that I understand that 99% of denial points are utter drivel, and the remaining 1% that are worth considering do not, on closer inspection, pan out, it leaves me with that solid understanding that deniers either do not understand, but are arrogant enough to violently express their opinion (which equals misunderstanding and falsehood) on a very, very important subject, or else they do understand, but through their own selfish, shortsighted desires, purposefully play fast and loose with the facts and knowingly push an invalid position.

    Neither scenario is nice, and both are hurtful to humanity.

    Every denier is going to have to wake up 10 or 20 years from now, look themselves in the mirror, and admit that they actively helped to create the future.

    So please stop. You're going out of your way to make me out to be the bad guy, and I'm sorry, but I feel nothing about your accusations.

    You want to make me feel something? Figure out what it is about climate science that you do not believe or do not trust, research the issue further, and figure out where you went wrong.

    Or would that sort of behavior be too skeptical for you?
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  23. Thank you Sphaerica
    Couple of points. I cannot make you look like a bad guy, only you can do that. Calling me a “denier’ on the basis of no evidence is puzzling, possibly hurtful but only in the same way as if I called you a racist with no evidence. If you are not a racist, then as you say, no problem! I think we differ in that you see the debate as black and white, good and bad, no middle ground. I do not believe life is like that. Everything is shades tending to one direction or another. At present the weight of evidence is towards the science of climate change, but as you say, there are still shades. You may also be aware I post on other sites, climate brief ( excellent site but limited usage) and wattsupwiththat ( great for the links to NSIDC and stats etc. but some nasty right wing stuff at times) Why? The reason I do this is because it is easy to post in an area where your own opinion dominates, much harder to convince others in a hostile environment. I am here giving a very unpopular and heretical message regarding tolerance. Maybe you could try your own message on groups who are opposed to your thinking? It’s not easy, and you will be pilloried and insulted as I have been. But if the message is true, and we really need to convince people, get out there and do it. Preaching to the converted is easy, sticking the boot in as part of a gang is a cinch, but stick your neck out and move to those who need convincing, it’s more rewarding and in the long run will do more good.
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  24. garethman,

    I have and do post on denial forums, frequently. It is unpleasant and distasteful, and I only do it when I can post clear, concise and inarguable science. When it inevitably wanders off into accusations of fraud, exclamations that GHG theory violate the second law of thermodynamics, one-world government diatribes, and other nonsense, I bow out, because those people are blinded by their own foolishness.

    As far as calling you specifically a denier... looking back at your posts, I'm unsure why I thought it, because you haven't espoused any actual denial drivel (although you include quotes in your posts without separating your comments from others... I'd suggest using em or blockquote tags to do so).

    But at the same time you are so offended by the denier label, and seemingly not bothered by WUWT (which is a cosmic joke on science)...

    So let's limit it to two of your statements: see the debate as black and white...
    Yes, because deniers very, very frequently specifically use gray areas (doubt) to argue we should wait, we're not sure, but what if, etc. etc. It's a tactic, and there is not nearly that much doubt in the science.
    I am here giving a very unpopular and heretical message regarding tolerance.
    Tolerance of racism is an evil. Tolerance of ignorance is an evil. Tolerance of unmitigated greed is an evil. Tolerance of unsanitary health habits is an evil.

    There is no reason to be tolerant of disinformation, ignorance, or arrogance in the climate debate, and while many deniers appear to believe what they are posting, that doesn't make it true, or palatable. Lies are lies. Misinformation is misinformation.

    I will show no tolerance for stupidity, which is what denial inevitably is.

    And a lot of the stupidity I see isn't the run of the mill kind, it's the raving lunatic oh-my-god-did-he-actually-say-that kind.

    So... yes, I do post on other sites. Yes, I get abused far worse than any denier ever has here. No, gray areas are just an excuse and are still denial, and no, tolerance is not acceptable.
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  25. Eric(sk), I should add that I am really appreciating your willingness to engage in this conversation (very rare) as well as your thoughtful responses which are very stimulating (and still being digested). I look forward to your thoughts replacing coal generation. Given your posting history, I was somewhat surprised to find you supporting a Koch outfit like CATO but I am finding that I am understanding your viewpoint better.
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  26. On the issue of coal-powered consumer imports (which I am guessing dwarf autos as a problem). My solution is twofold.
    1/ ban any new coal generation that doesnt deal with emissions. (This means coal generation phases out over 30-50 years as stations age. Coal for steel is uneffected)
    2/ Tariff against any country that doesnt implement same ban and tariff. Sliding scale of stay at 0.5% and ramp up at say 0.25% per year.

    1/ Only picks loser (coal) - leaves it market to find solutions any way it can.
    2/ Effective!
    3/ Low admin cost. Whether to tariff or not is simply about country of origin.
    4/ Smuggling annoying but unable to affect effectiveness
    5/ Time to adjust.
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  27. Garethman "Interestingly you elegantly re-enforce my message by condemning me for suggesting that everyone should have the right of opinion."

    Apparently you're not a schoolteacher. This is the chronic complaint of fourteen-year-olds - about maths problems. And the answer is always No! Why? There are no "opinions" or "ideas" open to discussion or interpretation in year 9 mathematics. There are only facts, measurements, rules, procedures.

    And teachers know why such students argue. It's a cover or a diversion. From unwillingness to work, fear of failure, braggadocio in front of sniggering 14 year old friends, pure cussedness, avoidance of homework, failure to bring necessary equipment... The list is not endless, it just seems like it.

    People are entitled to hold opinions - but only about matters of opinion.

    When it comes to facts, they're entitled to double- and triple-check facts.

    What no-one is entitled to do is to say 'That's just your opinion' when opinion doesn't come into it. Just like year 9 homework.
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  28. scaddenp, I don't mind exploring the hypothetical if there is some realism about electricity (e.g. nuclear or some effective substitute), realistic goals (50% in 40 years) and a tip-of-the-hat to the market. I see now that Koch helped found CATO. I suppose the fact that I didn't know that might make his libertarian think tank scheme somewhat suspect to some, but not to me. CATO has consistency and principles that I believe are essential to human progress and individual liberty. Education in those principles is sorely lacking IMO.

    Clean air and safety have added considerable cost and inefficiency to automobiles with a modest social benefit compared to factors like cracking down on drunk driving, urbanization and interstate highways, teen driver restrictions, etc.. Many people compensate for safety systems by driving less safely although that is hard to quantify. The clean air stuff is expensive and some articles go one way while later articles say benefits outweigh costs. But in my rural location, a hundred new cars with the expensive mitigation can be undone by a farm-use truck or two. If I could get away with it, I would have a farm-use truck to get to the park and ride.

    The clouds from a ship was just an idea which I'm sure had some problems. But a ten second search brought me to this "We demonstrate that self-guided ionized filaments generated by ultrashort laser pulses are also able to induce water-cloud condensation in the free, sub-saturated atmosphere."
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  29. scaddenp (376) "1/ Only picks loser (coal Australia)"

    You compete against Australia do you not?
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  30. Garethman,
    Your posts are a welcome relief to the hard-line position of some on this thread. I have suggested that people should be open to others opinions and beliefs, but have been shot down and called a denier just like you have. I believe that science should progress forward, not stop at someone's preconceived ideas. I also believe that the issue is not black and white as Sphaerica vehemently maintains, but rather gray. Afterall, much of the climate research has wide ranges due to large uncertainties or unknowns which would render a black and white scenario unacceptable to us scientists. There are those who are completely intolerant to the merest suggesting that there may be something else affecting climate besides CO2. TO them, it has become a religion. As opposed to your asdmission, I am a scientist, and well-researched in climate science. I am appalled that there are those who take this research and twist it to accommodate their own beliefs. A quote from the X-files: "The truth is out there."
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  31. Eric the Red "After all, much of the climate research has wide ranges due to large uncertainties or unknowns which would render a black and white scenario unacceptable to us scientists."

    This is a forest versus trees argument. (And it's not black or white, it's a kaleidoscope.)

    When we look at a forest, there are lots of questions. We know that the mix of trees, creepers, undergrowth, birds, bugs, foraging animals, reptiles, moisture, soils, fungi are all important to the structure and health of the forest.
    How many tonnes of berries will the undergrowth produce this year?
    How many of the saplings on the western edge in 1991 have grown to full size?
    How many frogs in the NE pond?
    How many birdsnests are in the uppermost canopy?

    The answers will vary. Don't know, pretty good estimates, exact numbers, research not yet complete, very rough estimates, no money/ equipment for the research required, no idea, paper in course of publication - and all the other possibilities.

    Frogs, berries, birds, trees, these questions are important. But the answers don't really matter for the central issue.

    It's a forest.

    Same for climate change. All the uncertainties are in the details, not the basic physics which tell us the central answer.
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  32. 380, Eric the Red,

    There is a world of difference between gray areas in science (and yes, obviously science should progress, not stop... you're constructing strawmen) and gray areas that are merely used as excuses to delay, confuse and sew doubt.

    The merest suggestion that something else might affect climate? Another strawman. Obviously the science shows that many, many things affect climate. No one has ever said this (and that you say it is, I think, strong evidence that you are a denier -- it's another ridiculous denial tactic, to exaggerate the actual position of the science into a silly caricature).

    It has become a religion? Another strawman. Devalue the science, once again, by making it seem like understanding and acceptance of the science, or recognizing its import, is "a religion" or "a faith" or "a belief."

    As far as being appalled that there are those who take this research and twist it to accommodate their own beliefs... hooray! I finally got through to you. So you are ready to express this disapproval at any and every person who twists the science to accommodate their beliefs.

    Now do it.

    But the difference between the X-files and climate science are two. First, the X-files dealt with wild fantasy and the impossible. Second, in the X-files they were always in the dark, and very, very far from the truth. That is not the case with climate science today.

    Comparing the two is ridiculous.
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  33. Let's forget about the term denier for a moment, though historically it has been used to create a distasteful, immoral view of skeptics. And, it has most certainly in print been used in connection with Holocaust denial. Skeptics did not make that one up. It doesn't really ruffle my feathers coming from the likes of people who throw the term around as if it is a trump card in an infantile attempt to degrade skeptics.

    On the other hand, let's take the word alarmist. Alarmism is another extreme position which I would say is the opposite of denialism. Alarmists do as much damage to the public's perception of what may be a real problem as denialists.

    The exaggeration and distortion of real science in effect desensitizes the real public to what is really going on.

    Can any of you disagree with this statement: ( -Snip- ) is an alarmist.
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    [DB] To all:  Gore is off-topic on this thread.

  34. apla50 "Alarmists do as much damage to the public's perception of what may be a real problem as denialists."

    I both disagree and agree with this one.

    Firstly, there is a huge distinction between being 'alarmist' and talking about something that is alarming.

    Secondly, the most alarmist material I read tends to come from people who seem to think that life-as-we-know-it will end if we get our power from anything other than burning stuff we've dug up. In fact, I'd really like to see some serious work from this group. Accusing people of being 'watermelon' politically (or worse) does not enhance whatever valid reasoning such people have for warning us of what they see as alarming in the economic or political issues surrounding climate change.
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  35. Eric the Red and a pirate - the work of this thread was to come up with a statement that quickly separates the wheat from the chaff. Those of us who apply logic and reason (as opposed to an emotional "gee the truth is in the middle") get trapped by honestly acknowledging there are some open issues. We quickly add that the preponderance of evidence tell us to act. But deniers seize on the uncertainty and stop listening.

    We now have a statement, that if you agree with, it is clear you understand the issue, and if you disagree, you are a denier. No room for naval gazing gee what about whatever. There is a 100+ year body of evidence, and I don't know a subject that has been studied more thoroughly.

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

    I personally am very comfortable drawing a line in the sand at this point.

    Are you? If not, be intellectually honest and admit you are a denier. And own that your lack of action is pushing humanity towards a crisis we (as a civilization) may not recover from.
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  36. A pirate - have you refined your view of item 6 you posted earlier in this thread?
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  37. DB at 383
    Why is Gore OT? I may have missed something somewhere.
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    [DB] With respect, this thread is about a discussion of John's article on being a genuine skeptic or a denier within the field of climate science. 

    It is not a discussion about Nazism, eco-fascism, new world orders, X-file conspiracies, abortion, the 2nd Law, God and the 10 Commandments, faked Apollo moon landings, LGM & BEM's, Area 51, the Asian Dawn movement, and all things Al Gore.  All are equally devisive and polarizing in their own way.  And all equally off-topic on this thread.

    Thank you for your understanding.

  38. at @ 385 and 386
    The answer is: No, I have not. We are partially responsible for climate change. I still agree with that.

    Can you succinctly tell me what is causing the problem, and what the mitigation should be?
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  39. Jigoro - if you are right that we won't accomplish CO2 mitigation, that is an indictment of the human race, not of Sphaerica - one of the ones fighting to accomplish the necessary reduction in CO2 to save the human race (and many, many species with no voice) from unnecessary pain. That pain will be large. You don't have to know how many stitches you will have to know that open heart surgery will be painful. The same is true of AGW. We know enough to know we need to repent (which means change our ways!)
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  40. Human CO2; coal.
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  41. Scaddenp @ 269,
    I’ll agree, that CO2 is not the only “driver” of climate, and I don’t recal saying it was the only one. But from the discussion above and your ref. to Paul Barton’s data, it would appear the CO2 appears to be the primary GHG. As also noted by the CO2 discussions at this site. The real question is just what is the most significant contributor, and is that contributor, humans.

    So if you say “why correlation (CO2) weakens when other factors are important (eg aerosols, solar).” you should add particulates. I think comment weakens your case, that man is the primary contributor to global warming. You would then be moving (inching) to the “skeptic” camp.

    But in order to show why I hold “skeptic” beliefs, based on science, the following graph, shows long term temperature (150+ years) sets vs. CO2 concentrations.

    Or a better graph:

    (Hope I’m reading the posting directions right)

    CO2 concentrations are from NOAA & Lawdome sites. Temperature anomaly data is the HadCRUT-NH data set, and long term western & central European sites (Ave14), which started recording prior to 1800. These include the CEL, Debilt and NASA/Rimfost stations.

    The most apparent discrepancies between the temperature & CO@ data is the lack of up & down variability of the CO2 plot(s), as compared to temperature swings, and these are in 100 years ranges. In these cases, the CO2 changes are almost non-existent. While there are some “lags” in responses to temperature and CO2, it is hard to believe that after some 25 years, one would see no correlation.

    So in my case, I see no strong relationship to CO2 and global temperatures, and I would start looking for another “driver”.
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    [DB] Fixed images.

    Your comment is more appropriate to the CO2 is not the only driver of climate and/or the There's no correlation between CO2 and temperature threads.  If you wish to further discuss this, please take it to the most appropriate thread.  Thanks!

    BTW, Image posting tips can be found here.

  42. Above post (#391) seemed to miss the graph link, so here it is in text form:
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  43. J Bob - I don't understand why anyone would use a local/ regional temperature record for such a comparison when there are others with global figures.

    Such as this graph on this page.

    It also has the great advantage of displaying aerosols as well as GHGs.

    Global. Comprehensive. Much better.
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  44. Adelady - thanks. J Bob, I think current climate theory makes an adequate enough of explaining past and present climate within a coherent physics framework. Furthermore, the theory predicts that if we increase GHGs at current rates we will change climate faster than is comfortable. The data you are trying to present does not challenge that in any way. Both physical and statistical models of forcing correlate quite well as adelady has shown and further comment should be on that page.
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  45. Eric, okay, I accept your points on CATO. If we accept that nuclear is okay for electricity generation, what is the libertarian way to make the transition happen? I'm looking for something as effective as my pretty direct way.

    "You compete against Australia do you not?"
    :-) On the sports field! (and we will cheer for Oz when they play the bleedin' poms at cricket). Australia is our most important market and we have very close economic ties. However, their thermal coal needs to stay in the ground. They are big enough to cope.
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  46. In my job of assessing risk in individuals, the only real tactic is to analyse past behaviour as a key to future behaviour. Now this risk assessment does not say something will happen, it gives a likelihood of an increased risk of something happening in a given set of circumstances. This a science. But it is not an exact science, we freely admit that. This is mainly because we dealing with humans who are subject more to chaos theory and any given solid laws like mathematics. Sometimes one of my colleagues will get a different result, not wildly different, but interestingly so. I don’t call them by derogatory titles as a result, the fact that we get differing results often helps develop the theory.
    Apparently we cannot say the same thing with climate science. We are told it is like mathematics, there is no chaos theory or subjectivity. There cannot be any idea of qualitative study or phenomenology as everything is pigeonholed, carefully counted and quantified. Two and two make four and there is no debate.
    From a psychological viewpoint I am interested in the fury that arises at any suggestion this may not be the case ( note how many “you must be a denier” posts follow any suggestion of subjectivity), this in itself speaks volumes as it is a denial of the human condition. There is much evidence out there, but all evidence is interpreted, correlated and projected. Models in psychology and climate are not the real world. If two people undertake the same piece of detailed research on a complex subject such as climate and get the same result, either one is lying or work has been copied. To say the same result must be arrived at every time is like saying the UK summer will always be warm and winter cold. Things will tend in that direction, but to make it a black and white issue is a denial of the scientific process indeed. And climate opinion? We would be left with nothing to talk about if such things were banned in the UK!
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  47. With reference to alarmism there is the head in the sand vs chicken little. Both are damaging. To say lets not be alarmed at damage to the environment and the costs to all species ( including us) is bad news. To also make grandiose predictions which do not materialise is also damaging. It makes people who are trying to make a valid point look like these weird people in the USA who regularly predict the end of the world. Every time the prediction falls flat more people become sceptics. While most people have now wised up to this, there are still a disconcertingly large group of people who make predictions of catastrophe in the near future and shout down anyone who questions the reality of the prophecy.
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  48. scaddenp, China uses coal (including Australian) and their command economy is a special case, not all libertarian principles apply. On the other hand, I don't think they will be simply be "inspired" by CO2 cuts in the West to do theirs all on their own. For one thing their local politicians are often connected with local industry and may be inclined to cheat. But China is currently as interested in nuclear as they are in coal and will probably keep trending in that direction. Probably the best thing we can do is encourage them to open their economy so rather than having the party determine economic and energy policy, the market can and then market incentives will be more applicable.

    Our own nuclear industry is stymied by the small numbers and large size of nuclear plants making them easy targets for anti-nuclear activists. The best thing to do is scale down and get more local competition for feeding the grid. I would trade the current regulated monopoly status of nuclear providers for a safety-regulated but market-unregulated status. It will be a tricky balance, but Japan can provide a lot of good lessons in how not to prevent and manage crises (they seemed to have various perverse incentives to do the wrong thing early in the crisis). I would try to get as complete as possible private insurance for nuclear accidents and enforce the insurance companies responsibilities to the general public with a large radiation measurement network and a predictable formula for radiation release penalties I think the biggest problem in that regard is irrational fears of low exposures (notwithstanding the rational fears of large exposures) WIth much better measurement and strict but sensible formulas for release responsibility we could greatly lower insurance costs.

    The insurance companies are smart enough to figure out how to minimize the risk of larger scale releases. They can also be responsible for low level waste. For high level waste disposal I would recommend some sort of noncritical thermal generator where the waste is packaged into a small power plant in some tamper-proof container. If I had the opportunity I would buy one, stick it in the river and use it to generate power for our subdivision.
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  49. Eric, what I am missing so far is any incentive to change away from coal. I assume you would also like China to transform into a libertarian state so it would need to apply there. In a libertarian world, how would that happen?

    Also on your geoengineering ideas - if we came to that, who would pay for it.
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  50. garethman " There is much evidence out there, but all evidence is interpreted, correlated and projected. Models in psychology and climate are not the real world."

    And that's where converging lines of evidence come in. Same as in your work. In climate science there are thousands of people, not just a couple of dozen as there might be actuaries (or similar) in an office.

    There are various models of varying kinds, mostly focused on basic radiative physics. Various kinds of evidence are collected by various means and must be calculated, refined and summarised by suitable means.

    When it all comes together - we get spaghetti graphs, icesheet and glacier records, sea temperature, sea level, sea ice records. Agricultural and ecological observations.
    And all the rest of it.

    And when thousands of people publish hundreds of research papers on dozens of topics year after year - and it confirms the conclusions and projections that were arrived at 30 or 100 years ago - we know the science is holding up pretty well.

    It's fine to have a contrary view - except that the onus is on the contrarian to produce better observations, better analysis, better science when faced with the accumulated evidence for the current view.
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