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Climate Hustle

Scott Denning: Reaching Across the Abyss

Posted on 21 August 2011 by grypo

Going virtually unnoticed in the climate science world (except for skeptic blogs and certain fair minded mainstream scientists), from June 30 - July 1, 2011, an international conference on the subject of climate change took place in Washington DC, USA.  If you were to have put a glass to the door, you might have heard many of the same climate myths that those here at SkS work diligently to commendably squash.  One of the few highlights was the talk given by Scott Denning (video), who, by walking into the skeptic lion's den, deserves great credit for his continued attempts at reaching his paws across the abyss that separates those who favor large scale action on climate change, and those who don't.

His talk began by hitting three messages to resonate with the audience. Paraphrasing, they are 1) Everyone should understand how the climate works - meandering over minute details is a waste of time.  Why?  2) Because the climate will change and policy WILL be enacted, eventually. How does this matter to his audience?  3)  The political right has been virtually non-existent in its participation in establishing what that policy will be.

In an earlier post published here at SkS, my message for Libertarians was essentially the same.

I would suggest they research real free market solutions that deal with the first principles of Libertarian thought. Otherwise, this policy argument will move on without them.  It's time for Libertarians to get on board and bring their principles along too.

I used Libertarian principles to try and mark off common ground on which policy could be established, but Professor Denning took another route, one that could create a broader coalition between to two political poles.  From the video:

Billions of people will need more energy to lift themselves out of abject poverty

From here, Professor Denning goes into the climate science basics that most reasonable skeptics can agree on.  In short, CO2 warms the planet, humans are emitting massive amounts of CO2, CO2 sticks around for a hundreds of years, and since we know the climate has changed in the past, we know the climate is sensitive to changes in the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases.  All, which when combined with the fact that billions more will be emitting much more CO2 over the next few decades, gives the audience the unchallenged knowledge that the Earth will be going under significant change, unparalleled in recorded human history. People will develop policy to deal with these changes.

The point to Denning's talk was to lay out a challenge for those who advocate for the free market.  And that challenge is to develop effective solutions that match the breadth the problem ahead of us.  According to one of his final slides:

Who will advocate for effective solutions?

To which he emphatically answered, in a questioning voice:

"Do you think Greenpeace is going to advocate for this?!?  Is that what you are waiting for?!?  Evidentially..."

In big, bold letters, the challenge was issued:

When will you stand up and offer solutions?

And again, emphatically, aloud:

"Are you cowards?!?"

I was not in attendance at the conference, so I cannot tell you how effective Professor Denning's talk was in influencing opinions.  The heading for the conference read, "Restoring the Scientific Method", meaning, if only the political right could find a different science to the (perceived) broken one that predicts rapid change to the climate in the coming century, then perhaps large-scale, globally effective solutions can be bypassed for more politically convenient policy.  This is just not a realistic reaction to the problem.  Perhaps a better heading could have been taken from Denning's final sentence on his last slide:

The world needs you to be engaged!



Additional Reading:

Atmospheric Scientist Scott Denning Shares Lessons from Dialog with ‘Skeptics'


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Comments 1 to 44:

  1. I suppose "CO2 emits" heat is technically correct...but will mislead in some senses, leading the usual literalist types to go off down the expected roads. (Where does CO2 get the heat it emits, playing weasel words with "trapping heat".) Actually, I rather like the dodge, but it needs more explanation.

    The other thing is that this initiative, worthy as it is, doesn't address one main line of skeptical argument- that is ok, change is coming but it will be so slow we don't need to do anything about it right now, and free market solutions can evolve on their own.

    (Not to get too political here, but I think on topic given the advocacy contents of the video ----it seems to me that the classic libertarian response to the tragedy of the commons is the privatise the commons. How you can privatize climate is beyond me, hence the need for command and control regulation that restricts a free market)

    Still two flaws in an otherwise interesting presentation to an intrinsically hostile audience isn't bad. It woiuld have been nice to see the Q&A. Imagine Spencer or Christy talking to us.
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  2. This is awesome. That's a smart, smart approach to dealing with skeptics. And I love the way he called them out. And he's right.

    As long as certain people insist on denying the facts and arguing details, they are going to get the exact opposite of what they want. The truth is the truth, and denial does them a disservice. If they don't step up to address the problem, other people will, with solutions they don't particularly like. But if they abdicate their own power by declaring that there is no problem, then they only have themselves to blame for their own impotence when the problem reaches the point of being undeniable.
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  3. 1, Dave123,
    ...doesn't address one main line of skeptical argument- that is ok, change is coming but it will be so slow we don't need to do anything about it right now, and free market solutions can evolve on their own.
    I disagree. I think his comments on India and China were quite well made and address that point. If we do nothing now we can hardly stop China and India as their own growth accelerates, and they make the problem 6 to 7 times worse than it is today.

    Doing nothing now ourselves means we get no say in what they do later, and that is where the real problem lies, not in the 30% mark we're at now, but rather at the 400% mark that we're currently on target to meet or surpass.
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  4. 3, Sphaerica-

    I got the emphasis on India and China...but this came across as a bit of hand waving- "what we're doing isn't a cause for alarm, it's those other guys". And while this plays to US historical racism (they aren't white over there after all) and the need of the American Right to have an external (and internal) enemy to wet the bed over, it's still a bit of eyeballing.

    When some Denier spews out "it's only 300 ppm, that can't have any important effect" we deride such as an argument from incredulity. Saying now isn't important but the 5-6 increase will be- "well just because it would be incredible if it didn't"- isn't the way we're supposed to play the game.

    Can you imagine the deniers that will sprout up in India and China, looking to their national interests and personal pocket books, parroting the Western Deniers with an added does of "Western Colonial Imperialism"? For them it will be obvious that the Western Deniers were not only right, but that those arguments can be carried to their levels of CO2 production.
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    I read through the comments on the link above, and many people tried to make it political. Denny did a nice job of sticking to the physics.

    My response to strictly waiting for the free market to solve everything is like going into a competition with one hand behind your back. Any country you hope to compete against that has gov help of some kind, there is a tough road to compete against. Government can also be part of the tool to bring prices down.Many times the market is waiting to see what the government will do. Especially on something this big and fundamental. Government provides certainty to the investors that this will be stable.
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  6. 4, Dave123,

    I don't agree at all with your interpretation of his comments. His logic seemed pretty straight:

    • 2 billion more people than today will need energy (mostly India + China)
    • To fuel that will require coal and increase CO2 levels by 400% when it's done.
    • Waiting until later to have a chit in the game is too late. If that's the future they foresee and want, they need to act now... arguing about details now, and impacts at 30% CO2 increase is ignoring the real problem.

    Thinking that a 400% increase won't happen, or won't have any effects (considering what it's always meant in the past) is kidding yourself.

    Admittedly, I think the problem is way more serious than that, but that's where deniers are at, unfortunately. The fact is they have to confess to agreeing with that logic. No matter how much they want to dismiss climate sensitivity estimates or the meaning of a 30% increase in CO2, the reality of their position ("Burn fuel! Energy for everyone! Growth and economy!") projects out to exactly what Denning laid out.

    They can't have it both ways. They can't want an energy rich future and completely ignore CO2. They can ignore CO2 now, but that means giving up on the sort of energy rich future they tout. Or they can try for their energy rich future but that means addressing CO2 now (and finding alternate sources). They can't have both.
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  7. 6. Sphaerica,

    I think right wing deniers are perfectly capable of playing the victim at any level..we're economic victims if we have to change, and if China and India and the rest of the world creates global warming, well we're their victim in that case. I doubt they care about raising living standards around the world...that's a lip service thing with them. They primarily care about themselves (as do we all). And they are perfectly capable of kidding themselves, we know this because they have been.

    So shall we watch for signs of them agreeing to Denny's logic? That's a falsifiable test after all...will Heartland come out and issue a formal endorsement?
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  8. Dave123#7: "watch for signs of them agreeing to Denny's logic?"

    I wouldn't hold my breath. Read some of the later comments in the Yale forum,

    Talking up daily “what ifs” and trying to tout the “gravity” of climate change will never change the fact that science, real science, will always prove them wrong.

    Science is falsifiable and the AGW claims are not falsifiable and thus not science. AGW is junk science based on two hockeystick graphs for temperature and CO2, which are both bogus, and on climate computer models that are so flawed it’s laughable that we actually have paid these clowns billions for such crappy work and products.

    Yawn. Same old same old. As Prof. Denning brilliantly pointed out in the video, "Physics doesn't care what you believe."

    I want that on a tee shirt.
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  9. I was going to say what an impressive presentation it was (and it is), but:

    1) "CO2 emits heat" is a phrase no denier worth their salt would hesitate at jumping all over to dismiss. With climate deniers bandying about all sorts of absurd arguments about how climate scientists get the physics wrong, why is Denning handing out ammunition like that;

    2) For his target audience, Denning absolutely needs to bridge the gap between "is getting warmer" to "will cause wide spread economic harm". Many deniers will equate "is getting wamer" with "is getting better", and most of those that don't will take the (older) Lomborg line that any cure is worse than the disease; and

    3) His concentration on the potential growth of China and India will feed straight into the denier claims that we (the US, or Australia) should not agree to limit our emissions until China and India agree to equivalent absolute (not per capita) limits on their emissions. China and India, of course, will never agree to that until (and if) the economic cost of renewable power becomes so low that it becomes a non-issue.

    Those issues are minor compared to what I consider to be the fundamental flaw to Denning's approach. The fact is that most Libertarian's and other extreme free market/small government protagonists are deniers is because their political/economic philosophy in fact can provide no solutions to problems such as global warming.

    The only solution (and it is a good one if it could be realized) that they can offer is that market forces will rapidly substitute renewable for fossil fuel energy when renewable energy becomes significantly cheaper than fossil fuel energy. Beyond that, they cannot even support market solutions like emissions trading schemes because those markets must be contrived by governments.

    Therefore Denning faces a problem with his approach. It might be an effective approach with right leaning mainstream Americans, but he has not channel to communicate with them. But with Libertarians and fellow travelers, it is doomed to failure. They will only take home three messages from his effort:

    1) A genuine climate scientist is taking our gurus seriously, therefore our gurus position is reasonable;

    2) Genuine climate scientists don't want to debate the nitty-gritty of the science, ergo they must know they cannot win on that basis; and

    3) The only effective policy response to increasing CO2 must come from the American right, and therefore the correct response is the one we are offering.

    In other words, for all his good intentions, Denning will have only validated in their minds their opposition to genuine means of tackling climate change.
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  10. Tom, I think part of the problem with Denning's presentation on this is that he is putting the science on one side and their claimed economic beliefs on the other. And skipping a lot of relevant details of both in the process.

    The big detail omitted on the economic side is that someone presenting this needs to argue that the highly acclaimed 'free' market stance must, by definition, be opposed to all government subsidies and other official support. His biggest advantage here was also his biggest problem. He's a scientist not an economist.

    Perhaps next time he needs a partner with other expertise to argue the case more convincingly. This audience should favour eliminating all forms of government support for any industry. If they hang onto the idea that government should continue subsidising, supporting or giving tax breaks to coal or oil or nuclear or Granny's hand-knitted woollies, they have to be called out on it explicitly. Denning can't do that.
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  11. I think people are missing an important point. Using Denning's logic, policy will be enacted. It doesn't matter at what speed the thermometer rises in the next few years. What he is trying to tell his audience is that, whether they believe that warming will be slow or even doesn't come to pass, the rest of the world believes the climate is changing. So if they want to effect the policy that is enacted, they need to get involved. The human race will act on risk assessments sooner rather than later. He's telling them their bickering over how fast/slow/medium/hot/lukewarm/hockeysticks/FOIA/etc is big waste of their time.
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  12. 11 Grypo-

    these cognitive options for heartland-
    a. Agree that Denning describes the truth about the science and thus the need to affect public policy
    b. Agree that he's right about the politics and therefor engage public policy as if they believe the science
    c. Continue to believe he is wrong on the science, and believe that they can prevail over anyone trying to enact public policy.

    For those not in the US, the recent exercise in breath-holding tantrums about the debt ceiling surely must inspire people in Heartland that they can be successful with option C.
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  13. Oh, yeah, I'm sure he recognizes there is certain amount of the "C" category that just can't be engaged. No communication effort is going to be perfect, but I think highlighting this one is important. It shows that are ways to get through to people by speaking about what is important to them. Let's ask ourselves, "what's important to the Heartland crowd?" The answer, "free-market solutions". What is at risk if they do not get involved. "The free market". Sure, they can gamble that they'll continue to win the small battles of putting off policy, but do they really believe it is an effective way to win the "war"? He even put a face on the enemy. "Greenpeace." :)

    I think this is a really good starting for some kind of bridge.
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  14. Dave123#12: "surely must inspire people in Heartland"

    Heartland Institute is trumpeting Lindzen and Choi's rewrite -- and WUWT's enthusiastic cheering for it. I'd say they are willing to continue wasting evertone's time, fighting for Denning's last few decimal points.
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  15. Nice to see Denning go on the offensive in this way. Maybe a risky strategy, but I enjoyed it.

    CO2 "emits heat"? I winced when that popped up. That was not a good bit of rhetoric.

    There is an apparent discrepancy between his values on CO2 emissions (8 billion tons emitted, 4 billion tons remaining after absorption) and that given at skepticalscience (30 billion tons emitted, 15 billion tons remaining after absorption). That's a four-fold difference. What gives?
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  16. 15, Barry,

    I suspect the difference is in counting by tons of carbon versus tons of CO2.

    Atomic weight of CO2 = 12 + (2 * 16) = 44.
    Atomic weight of C = 12.

    30 tons * (12 / 44) = 8 tons.

    It's just a guess, though.
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  17. Yes, I think you're right, Sphaerica. That was my guess too. But Denning emphasises CO2 in that part of the talk - the heading of the chart with the 8 billion ton figure is 'CO2 "budget" of the world' - and confuses things. It's not a worry for reasonable people, but for sharp-eyed skeptics and reluctant fence-sitters, it is an unfortunate, apparent discrepancy in two posts here a few days apart.
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  18. Good video- and the Professor puts the ball in the far rights court. In time action will be taken to reduce C02 with new policies.

    But with the group in 'power' in the USA today- they deny global warming vehemently. No action will be taken until a total changeover in the US Government takes place- caused by catastrophic climate change. That kind of radical shift- like what happened in 1932, when you had a more activist Government take power in the US. With large majorities in congress that advocate a huge shift from the past.

    Th Private sector in itself will never relinquish control of a system that allows them to make massive profits. Government will need to step in and regulate. In this I disagree with Denning- if not the reforms of the New Deal, the economic collapse of 2008 would have been far worse.

    Government will have to step up for the people- Private corporations seldom have or will. At the rate we are going draconian efforts will be needed to change the deep trouble we are already in.
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  19. I really like this idea of taking the message into the opposing camp. He is taking the opposite action from shouting at each other across the barricades. If more skeptics posted here they could learn much, if more believers posted on Wattsupwiththat ( R.Gates inspired) much could be learned of why people behave as they do. As it is we tend to preach to the converted, it takes a brave person to be a missionary in the opposite camp.
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  20. garethman I think you should review your assumptions on that one. Plenty of the regular posters here do post on blogs like WUWT. The problem with WUWT is that it may be a good place to "learn why people think like they do", but it isn't a good place to learn about science (apart from perhaps the SurfaceStation project, which was a good attempt at some genuine science). It doesn't take any particular bravery to be a "missionary to the opposite camp", perseverance and an interest in the truth is more than sufficient. I stopped posting at WUWT after Ferdinand Engelbeens attempt to convince the audience there that the rise in CO2 is anthropogenic (I assisted his excellent efforts in the comments). The fact that few posters there could accept this, despite it being one of the few facts in the debate that can be proved unequivocally, suggested to me there was little point continuing posting there. If they can believe the rise is natural after seeing the evidence, they can believe anything. Ferdinand has the patience of a saint in continuing; I don't know how he finds the energy for so little return.
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  21. I still dip in at WUWT to try my luck occasionally, garethman. I'm pretty open-minded, but there is nothing to be learned from participating at that place. Reason fled the comments section long ago, chased out by the general tenor of the articles. There are various reasons why people there hold the views they do - fear, political ideology, self-interest. I agree that Denning's attempt was brave, and add that it spoke to the underlying causes of contrarian opinion. My occasional forays into the skeptiverse are not at all brave and probably a little foolish. Habitual. But yes - it's better than preaching to the converted.
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  22. 21 - Barry- The question is, are you looking in on the skeptiverse or the loonisphere? I think there's a sociology paper out there waiting to published see how many of the posters on WUWT etc (the Loonisphere), can be found to embrace anything as long as it looks like it will stick it to the AGW camp- demonstrating no ability to separate contradictory and competing denialist claims. It would be lovely to seed it with a few hoaxes as well. "loonisphere". my wife...being who she is deplores the term mathturbation, and prefers (coined?) mathtycism instead, which I think lines up nicely with "climastrology".
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  23. Thanks Barry,

    I suppose the thing that bothered me was someone posting an article which complained about funding for a particular project (rightly or wrongly) but then extended the article into what was a racist comment and refused to withdraw, even when faced with overwhelming evidence of how inappropriate the post was. Even Anthony Watts commented that he would never have allowed such a post if he had seen it, but once posted was hard to remove. When someone posts such an article and truly believes they are right, how much does that impact ones trust for the rest of their science? The thing that undermines the site more than anything is the right wing tea party types who see all science as suspicious.
    I still think it is worth posting comments on WUWT , even if you get a lot of stick!
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  24. Dave, my last crack at WUWT was over the Charles Monnett (polar bear paper) kerfuffle. It was obvious that virtually no one commenting on the quality of his 2006 monograph (which was just about everybody) had even read it. As usual, the game for me became trying to be as lucid and compelling as possible simply to draw attention to errors of fact.

    Seeding hoaxes sounds amusing, but not my style. I sometimes imagine that some of the denizens of denialdepot infiltrate for kicks, agreeing with the milieu in the most inane, yet plausibly contrarianesque ways possible to see if the posts will be admitted, perhaps with the hopes that passers by will read the pap and give the place a mental thumbs down.
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  25. Garethman the problem with discussion science at WUWT is not that you get a "lot of stick" - it is that you get a lot of rhetoric used to evade engaging with the scientific points raised (a symptom of denial in the psycological sense). Here is a classic example, I use a joint bank account as a simple analogy to the carbon cycle, however rather than engaging with the analogy, the respondant elaborates the analogy in ways that have no relevance to the carbon cycle so as to avoid the point of the analogy. Another respondent does the same sort of thing here and yet another one here! Here is a respondant refusing to point out the flaw in a step-by-step argument that proved his position wrong; but not admitting that he couldn't find such an error and trying to deflect the discussion back to issues where there was uncertainty in the data, rather than engage in an argument where there was little uncertainty. A bit later he does say that (incorrectly) that the mass balance argument makes incorrect assumptions, but he still doesn't say at which step it is introduced. The whole point of laying out the steps one by one was to make the argument as easy to definitively refute as possible - but no takers. After a while it gets so tiresome that it is no longer a worthwhile activity.
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  26. garethman, I don't care about or get much stick. I try to craft my posts there in ways that are hard to distort. One careless word and that's the bit they'll focus on, not the thrust of the argument. I've gotten better at paring it back, and fewer respond to me now - I reckon it's because they've less to jump at. Or my posts are more boring! But when they do respond they dodge the point, move the goalposts, torture analogies, assassinate my character - you name it. They pull every intellectual contortion there is not to have a reasonable, on point discussion. It's argumentative, not argument. It's about winning points, not testing them.

    It's the sheer inanity of the replies, when they come, that puts me off, as well as seeing the myth I've just busted repeated by the next commenter who arrives fresh from skimming the subject enough to regurgitate it in mostly complete sentences. I know it's a waste of time, but some faint hope seems to remain that some one there will actually take the blinders off and reflect for a few minutes. But really, it's not worth it at that place. Not brave, not heroic, not stalwart. I don't know whether R Gates should get a medal or a smack on the hand for carrying on there, but I know I couldn't maintain that pace without it becoming a bit of a sickness.
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  27. Denning's presentation to that audience was, to me, quite stunning. He scorns the scientific details, implicatively repudiates the debate and flings down a challenge. That is miles away from where I operate and looks like genius to me - probably because I could never have conceived such an approach. I'm in this debate because I'm dismayed at the gross offences to reason and science and scientists by climate change contrarians, not to persuade anyone politically. I would sure like to know what motivates Denning.

    Or anyone here, for that matter. Why do we post at WUWT and Judith Curry's? Why do we try to reach across the abyss even as we say "it's no longer a worthwhile activity"? Do we secretly think that persistence will eventually pay off?
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  28. This guy is GREAT!!

    "When will you stand up and offer sotlutions?"
    "Are you cowards?"

    I have this kind of thought for some time time now (like here), and it's great to see someone like this Scott Denning saying this right in the middle of denialism-promoter Heartland Institute.

    Way to go, Scott. Keep it coming.
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  29. I think R.Gates deserves a medal, or at least an R.Gates club for people who dare. Maybe Scott Denning would have membership card number 1.
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  30. Dikran,

    I took a look a the Carbon-Dioxide Balance thread on WUWT and I think I've identified the cognitive issue a couple of the people have- the ones going on about needing to know all the flows between compartments in detail

    They've got an implicit mechanism in mind, that they won't spell out because they also internally know it sounds ridiculous... something like this....Athropogenic CO2 (ACO2) is 'different' from natural CO2 (it is of course by isotope ratio), but more by magical thinking. They imagine a special unknown sink for ACO2 that comes into operation when ACO2 comes into existence and it soaks up all the ACO2. Then there's a source (also unspecified)that for climastrological reasons just happens to start pumping out something around 1/2 of the ACO2 levels at an increasing rate. The sink for ACO2 comes and goes as ACO2 comes and goes.... but the climastrological product of natural CO2 going into the system is now turned on and won't stop just because we stop burning fossil fuels.

    And response to has been in many cases, prove that you've accounted for everything, that the 'intelligent design' for an ACO2 sink doesn't exist, that there isn't a climastrological source that's putting in fossil CO2 ...putting you in the box of proving a negative.

    That's what I think is going on, and why they don't buy your mass balance. But they'll never say so directly, or own the responsibility of naming the sink and source that the rest of the world missed finding. That's partly what they mean by it being too complex to figure out as's a way of ducking the responsibility to name the sinks and sources.

    Magical thinking.
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  31. garethman at 04:22 AM on 22 August, 2011

    The source of heat is (almost) entirely solar, as Denning said. Greenhouse gases absorb and re-emit the infrared photons.
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  32. Dave123 I really don't understand the difficulty "skeptics" have with the mass balance argument, the funny things is that it is true whatever the mechansim governing the behaviour of the natural carbon cycle. With the mechanism you suggest, the natural environment would still be a net sink and the mass balance argument would demonstrate that to be the case.

    The real thing though that prevents useful discussion is the unwillingness to engage with analogies, or to take up challenges (essentially giving a hint of what they would need to show to prove me wrong - how more helpfull could I be?). I made several on that thread and none were taken up. Or to answer direct questions (for instance I asked one respondant repeatedly that given they had accepted the natural environment is a net sink, how can it be the source of the rise. No answer was ever given. I pointed out this question would help me understand their point of view, so if truth seeking were the aim, you would have thought they would have been eager to answer, but no!.
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  33. Garethman,

    Well everthing above absolute zero emits heat. Any given atom or molecule can acquire via collision enough energy to knock an electron into a upper orbital, from which decay emits a photon, in this case an infrared photon, otherwise called, albeit misleadingly, 'heat'.

    Regardless, then whether a given CO2 molecule in the air has even picked up an IR photon or not, it can be energized by random collisions to an excited state where it radiates in the IR region. The freqency of the photons is governed by the modes of bending and stretching that the CO2 molecule has, and the intensity of emissions is governed by the air temperature. The higher the temperature the greater the frequency IR photon emissions. The response to temperature is governed by the Stephan-Boltzman distribution. This is all highly probably in common temperatures.

    The reason that CO2 emits and O2 and N2 don't is that the lowest excited state for those gases is much, much more energetic than for CO2, so the odds of a molecule of oxygen or nitrogen acquiring enough energy in the atmosphere at ordinary temperatures is many orders of magnitude smaller. (I could look up the constants and do the math...but I don't think it's necessary for understanding.

    Understandable? Let me know.
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  34. Dikran,

    You're not thinking magically. The Sink is specific to anthropogenic CO2 and the source is connected to mystical natural cycles that are beyond human understanding. There's an intelligence that turns on the sink, in order to fulfill the biblical promise of no more floods (I find the argument that G* promised not to destroy the Earth again after the flood applied to human actions particularly painful when I run across it), corrects for human action, but doesn't tamper with the natural cycle accourding to the Divine plan set down years ago. This imaginary intelligent action is why they start talking about intelligent actors doing things to the bank accounts in their attempts to refute you....that was the clue to me that they have a specific neutralizing response to ACO2

    You are in essence arguing a theology with them.
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  35. I agree that both R Gates and Denning deserve medals. I have no patience for Anthony’s. I have used “arch stanton” at many places on the ‘net and the only time arch’s email was ever spammed (and phished) was the day after I had a run in with the mods at wuwt (I had lost my cool with “smokey”).

    My hat is off to Gates and also the folks here that can keep their patience as they counter the same untruths time after time.
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  36. Yes, Arch, I've noted your moniker around the climate blogosphere--at the good places, and the bad and ugly ones as well. It's always hard to tell what's underneath the rocks at some of these places. Often, it all adds up to a blank, and people shooting from the hip turn out to be in thrall to the ecstasy of gold. The basics are pretty simple; one doesn't need a pair of angel eyes to understand it.

    I've been wanting to get that out of my system for months (since the 3rd of February *wink*).
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  37. 34. Dave 123, Much appreciated! It makes sense now.
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  38. Dave @ 34. I love that theory, but I think it's more like culturally reinforced cognitive inertia. At some point they just tune out when the counter-information weighs too heavily (convincingly) against their perceptions. To quote Dikran;

    The whole point of laying out the steps one by one was to make the argument as easy to definitively refute as possible - but no takers.

    ...unwillingness to engage with analogies, or to take up challenges...

    ...No answer was ever given...

    ...if truth seeking were the aim, you would have thought they would have been eager to answer, but no

    Dikran, you speak my experience exactly. The better you make your case, the less willing they are to engage.

    But we keep trying there, reaching across the abyss and looking into it. Brrrr.

    I hate using the word, but maybe denialism is really the most apt. Or rejectionism.
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  39. I see Prof. Denning as somewhat naive in his approach. A bit of a read of the psychology of belief will show that most people hold beliefs for all sorts of reasons and rationality is mainly used for post hoc rationalisation and pursuasion.
    Perhaps it is justified "just for the record" but his use of the "free market" "libertarian" discourse is seriously misguided. When it comes to scientific facts and the most effective solutions, "left" and "right" do not refer to scientific solutions, they refer to political solutions. Politics will play its part but lets not confuse the two.
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  40. Inspiring. I think most of the criticisms of the speech are just nitpicking (nothing is perfect).

    I doubt he got through to most of his audience (the right is not noted for it's use of evidence to form policy) but who knows - he may just have reached a few - especially given that essentially he was also appealing to their hip pocket (get in the drivers seat or be forced to accept solutions you don't like).

    Very clever overall :)
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  41. DSL- Man, you had to go and show everyone my pic! Now I’ll have to go back underground.

    (Sorry mods, I don’t usually respond to being outed but this one was the best yet.)

    Besides respecting Denning and Gates for the extra effort to cross the abyss I also have extra respect for everyone who uses their real name on the web; think Cook, the one aka as “the Yooper”, and so many others here, all the folks at RC, heck even Tamino (‘cause his ID is no secret.)

    It’s also the only respect I have for Anthony.
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  42. Interesting discussion on the dealings with WUWT folks. I'm sure you folks that try to set facts straight there do make some difference, but nobody will be willing to admit it and it would appear your efforts are in vain (example: completely dropping the subject when engaged). Then again, maybe that belief is just wishful thinking on my part.

    Anyway, as far as Denning's challenge to come up with a Heartland-approved solution goes, these Heartland types have had decades to figure something out. The book Merchants of Doubt highlights several issues that have had similar policy implications as the climate change issue. In each case, the free market solution never materialized, and some form of regulation was finally put into place after a few decades of delay. Granted, there may be some similar problems that were solved by the free market that I don't know about, and there may exist a Heartland-approved solution for climate change that nobody has thought of. We can't hold our breath waiting for that solution, though.

    It seems that issues like climate change and peak oil expose some of the flaws in the long term viability of 100% pure capitalism. To me, it seems that capitalism does poorly when accounting for externalities, addressing public health problems, and anticipating disruptions. This is what I think strikes at the heart of these free market purists. I don't think any conceivable climate change solution jives with their rigid ideology, and that is why they have attacked the science for so long.

    Thus, I think it is more efficient to address the uninformed middle ground folks. That requires marketing and visibility for the scientific facts (hurray for Skeptical Science). Strong vocal support and education from our elected leaders couldn't hurt either. The way I see it, we need to first talk about the science and the solutions with people that are actually reasonable. We can still highlight the deniers when they are wrong about the science, but start to engage them only after the reasonable majority is well-informed. Thus, the initial priority is a three-pronged plan to inform the middle ground, squash the disinformation, and implement solutions. The secondary objective should be to engage the deniers if it is necessary to control their disinformation. They had their chance to be a part of the policy debate.
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  43. To all of you wondering about the wisdom or futility of participating in WUWT or other comments sections and the fact you just can't get through to convince folks. Please keep going! The person you will convince is not who you are arguing with, but rather the one who is simply reading the blogs w/out a deep committment one way or the other -- just looking. It is apparent, when you participate w/a cool head and good science, that you are the one who knows what is going on (vs. the conspiracy talker). Just having your voices there is important for that reason. Being polite, not engaging in ad homs, being very straight and reasoned, while the opponent becomes increasingly unhinged shows others the quality of arguement on each side. Frequent use of citations to back up your points helps too.

    True also for general news sites that occasionally report on climate -- comments generally flooded by non-sci types -- good science voices will help, esp if they are polite and don't talk down. The person you are trying to convince is in the audience, not on stage.
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  44. What a great talk. As he says, its pointless to worry about details. Its a big problem, and needs solutions.

    Interestingly lacking from his talk was typical "green" thinking. Not everything was doom and gloom. This is refreshing. Insisting that every effect of increased CO2 will be harmful will make your "opponents" dismiss you out of hand. If there are good effects from extra CO2, you can acknowledge them - even though on balance the effects will be negative.
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