Some Climate Scientists Make Overtures to Their Critics

Can climate ‘skeptics’ be won over with face-to-face engagement?

In 2010, a Scientific American article asked, “Why can’t we have a civil conversation about climate?”

Commentary

A number of climate scientists seem to be wondering the same thing these days. Some have opened up channels of communication to the public, including the small but vocal minority that is most suspicious of climate science. Noting this trend, Leo Hickman in the Guardian recently wrote that “there now appears to be more of what I call ‘Rapunzel’ scientists; those that choose to (metaphorically, at least) let down their long hair and allow us to climb up into their ivory tower to converse with them and to see how they operate.”

Hickman reports on the various outreach efforts:

A good example is Professor Richard Betts, a climate scientist who is head of the climate impacts research team at the Met Office Hadley Centre in Exeter and a lead author on both the 4th and 5th Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in Working Groups 1 and 2. By being positioned at the heart of both the Met Office and the IPCC, he is a scientist placed very much under the scrutiny of climate skeptics.

But rather than defensively pull up the drawbridge, he routinely posts explanatory comments on blogs that are hostile to climate science and engages in debates on Twitter with skeptics.

In fact, the Met Office has confirmed to me that it has now hosted a number of “conversations” with its critics over the past couple of years in an effort to both better explain how it works and to “hear other viewpoints.”

In Hickman’s article, Betts explained why he thought this was a good idea: “In the polarized debate on climate change, there seem to be two self-reinforcing groups which criticize each other but do not really understand each other,” Betts said. “They each get their impression of the other group second-hand, which only leads to further misunderstandings and increased bitterness. Neither party comes out of this looking very good.”

The mutual distrust and hostility between the two opposing camps is what prompted Scott Denning, a climate scientist at Colorado State University, to speak last year at an annual gathering of climate “skeptics” sponsored by the Heartland Institute. In an essay about his experience, Denning wrote that he “was treated with respect and even warmth despite my vehement disagreement with most of the other presenters. Heartland gave me a very prominent platform: both an hour-long keynote debate over lunch with Prof. Roy Spencer and a 15-minute plenary presentation in the final panel of the meeting.” (See Yale Forum article.)

In that essay, Denning noted that some of his colleagues had tried to convince him to not attend the Heartland conference. They feared that climate skeptics would take his words out of context and/or use his appearance to lend legitimacy to the event. Denning countered:

Refusing to engage dismissive voices on climate change may feel like taking the high road, but I suspect it’s the high road to ruin. Ignoring climate contrarians has not made them go away. In fact, their message has resonated with an increasing slice of public opinion for several years. Tony Leiserowitz* (Yale University) and colleagues survey public opinion on climate change and find persistent and growing segments of the American public that are doubtful or dismissive about the human role in climate change. It seems to me that strong and persuasive engagement of that audience by more bona fide experts articulating the scientific consensus is essential.

In a phone interview this week, Denning reiterated his belief that such outreach by climate scientists is necessary; but it’s also not for everyone, he added. He suggests that there is nothing to be gained from the current standoff, with the two opposing sides acting “like armed camps. What the hell good does that do?”

Asked if he thought he had changed any minds, Denning said that had not been his intent (he has continued to engage with audiences that are suspicious of climate scientists). He said he just wants to foster a more respectful dialogue and perhaps pave the way for some common ground.

The reception he received after his Heartland talk confirms to him that he made the right decision to attend. “Dozens of people came up to me afterwards, thanking me for coming,” Denning recalled, adding that many told him, “We really needed to hear this other perspective.”

Reminded that much opposition to climate science (and dismissal of climate change) seems ideological in nature, perhaps limiting the amount of headway that can be made on the science if people are already predisposed against it, Denning agreed that the culture war dynamic presents a high hurdle to overcome.

“Almost everyone that dismisses climate change as a problem does it for ideological or political reasons, not for scientific reasons,” he said. “We scientists need to recognize that.”

This is a point stressed by one researcher in a recent Guardian column. He wrote:

In fact, the more we know, the less it seems that climate change skepticism has to do with climate science at all. Climate change provokes such visceral arguments because it allows ancient battles — about personal responsibility, state intervention, the regulation of industry, the distribution of resources and wealth, or the role of technologies in society — to be fought all over again.

It follows that the answer to overcoming climate change skepticism is to stop reiterating the science, and start engaging with what climate change skepticism is really about – competing visions of how people see the world, and what they want the future to be like.

Richard Betts, for his part, understands this challenge all too well. In an e-mail exchange with The Yale Forum explaining why he thinks direct engagement with climate skeptics is necessary, he said:

The “ideological prism” concept is actually one of the reasons why it is good to meet people face to face. When one is viewing an issue through such a prism, it is very easy for the prism to influence your views if the other people in the discussion are remote from you (eg: you only see their words written on a blog or through the TV or radio). However, if you actually meet people face to face, you get a much richer perspective of the other person, and the influence of the prism is reduced.

So to give a concrete example rather than an analogy — institutions like the Met Office and IPCC can easily come across as bureaucratic monstrosities, and these organizations (and the people that work within them) are easily caricatured. However, if folks come and meet us in person, they can see that we (climate scientists) are real people with our own individual views, expertise, and motivations. Having a proper conversation also helps get to the bottom of why certain views are held.

So, my aim is not really to try to convince anybody that global warming is a problem — that is a personal judgment, and anyway there are plenty of other people trying to do that kind of thing! Rather, my aim is to let him/them see that the evidence informing that judgment comes from real people with credible expertise and whose motivations are merely to seek and communicate the scientific truth. That will hopefully then form the basis for a more useful discussion, in which the evidence can then be discussed in a more informed (and less suspicious) manner.

Whether climate change can be discussed in a more informed and less suspicious manner remains to be seen — especially since much of the dialogue currently takes place in depersonalized media forums. Nonetheless, any efforts that can add more light to an otherwise noisy, fractious debate should be applauded.

*Anthony Leiserowitz is Publisher of The Yale Forum

Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a New York City-based freelance journalist who writes often about the environment and climate change.
Bookmark the permalink.

60 Responses to Some Climate Scientists Make Overtures to Their Critics

  1. Fred says:

    On any given day there are now multiple news stories and references to scientific articles debunking “global warming.” Today’s sample includes a finding that polar bear populations off Northern Canada is “far larger than anyone thought, and might be growing.” Another item is that Arctic sea ice is well within the normal range and has massively increased from the 2007 low. Interestingly, this development was predicted some time ago by meteorologist Joe Bastardi, much reviled among the CAGW crowd. And a new paper has found that cloud cover in China over the 1954-2005 period decreased. This contradicts global warming theory and is more in line with Svensmark’s or some other theory.

    If “climate scientists” want to keep advocating for “global warming” as an implicit rationale for funding their research and in support of public policies that make the rest of us poorer they should expect to be reviled by the increasing number of informed citizens who are on to their game. “Climate scientists” would be worth communicating with only after they stopped taking public monies and stopped advocating public policy positions that cripple the economy.

    • Michael Emerson says:

      How can you say that Arctic sea ice is well within normal range when that is factually untrue. Every year over the past 5 has been well outside of the 99% range of historical averages. Last year tied with 2007 as the lowest extent in history by a big amount.

      And what in the world does cloud cover in China have to do with anything. Cutting and pasting from ideological websites is not the same as science.

      • Fred says:

        re: warming with no growth in Chinese cloud cover

        If global warming drove the increase in temps over the period of the study increasing water vapor levels and cloud cover would have been noticed. CO2, because of its low concentration in the atmosphere cannot drive warming. Only if it increases water vapor can it have an indirect warming effect. If the warming was due to some other influence, (i.e. solar effects) then what was observed, i.e. increasing temps with no increase in cloud cover, would be seen.

        • Barry says:

          “If global warming drove the increase in temps over the period of the study increasing water vapor levels and cloud cover would have been noticed. CO2, because of its low concentration in the atmosphere cannot drive warming. ”

          No, CO2 has a direct warming effect. That’s basic chemistry, and ‘low concentration’ in this case means a radical increase over the past century.

          Water vapor is an additional effect.

        • chris says:

          Well yes Fred, the increase in tropospheric water vapour concentrations is an experimentally pretty rock solid measurement in the real world that has accompanied greenhouse-forced global warming. There is some evidence that troposopheric water vapour may rise in a warming atmosphere so as to maintain approx constant relative humidity.

          Global warming of the last 30-40-odd years isn’t solar. All the trends in solar outputs that might be expected to cause warming (total solar irradience, sunspot numbers, open magnetic flux, cosmic ray contribution…) have trended a tad downwards since the 1980′s. Likewise global warming has been accompanied by stratospheric cooling and a raised tropopause altitude. These are all characteristics of enhanced greenhose forcing.

          This is all pretty well characterised stuff. Look for the work of Profs. Mike Lockwood or Judith Lean, for example, for solar expertise and Profs Soden and Dessler, for example, for tropospheric water vapour response to contemporary greenhouse warming. They’re good starting points fror learning a little of the science on these subjects.

    • Toby says:

      Wrong.

      Polar bear population is not a major piece of evidence for climate change, never was. To many factors influence decline in some places, increases in others.

      But the people who observe ice mass say it is in significant decline in the Arctic, in Greenland and West Antarctrica. Anyone who claims taht Arctic Ice is “recovering” just has not looked at the data. 2011 had the 2nd lowest minimum extent of all time.

      As one scientist remarked (ruefully) “Getting research grants would not even make the list of the thousand easiest ways to get rich”. “They are only in it for the money” is the lamest of lame arguments.

      • Fred says:

        Sorry Toby,

        The decline in Arctic ice is related to naturally occurring Arctic Oscillation wind patterns. It has happened before (1920′s and 1930′s).

        http://www.drroyspencer.com/2012/03/could-arctic-sea-ice-decline-be-caused-by-the-arctic-oscillation/

        And it looks like its on its way up this year. Meanwhile, Antarctic ice has been rising since 1980. And there’s a lot more ice there than in the Arctic.

        http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seaice.anomaly.antarctic.png

        Billions have been wasted on grant money for global warming “research”. Furthermore, additional hundreds of millions has been wasted on “green energy” projects such as Solyndra. Many of the recipients of those monies were campaign contributors to the current administration. There is indeed money to be made on global warming, even though the “science” behind it is nonsense.

        • Tony Duncan says:

          Fred,
          Sorry, but have yu looked at any critiques of spencer’s correlation between arctic. it does not appear to be a peer reviewed paper. You just accept his correlation with no skepticism? Why?
          You are correct that this spring a very cold bering sea has led to a long freeze of ice in that area that has countered the very warm low ice in the Kara sea. But this is just April. If by some crazy circumstance the minimum in September is 2 million Sq. miles higher than last you, you might have a point.
          As for antartci sea ice, that has grown some, but antarctica is a completely different animal. Sea ice is expected to grow because of increased snowfall, and it will likely take a decade or more for the warmer waters in . the south ocean to overwhelm that effect. Still there is significant land ice loss in the Antarctic peninsula since it is not protected by the main mass of the continent and more impacted by the above mentioned warmer south ocean.
          you glibly assert the science is nonsense, yet I am non scientist very easily point out the lack of accurate science in your comments, and your credulity for results that support your belief. that is not science it is ideology.

  2. Matt Skaggs says:

    Keith,
    I am skeptical that communication strategy has played a significant role. Specifically, this is irrelevant:

    “Climate change provokes such visceral arguments because it allows ancient battles — about personal responsibility, state intervention, the regulation of industry, the distribution of resources and wealth, or the role of technologies in society — to be fought all over again.”

    There are definitely some folks that do that – we can even call them deniers – but it is rational skepticism that is winning the day. It boils down to this: climate scientists say the science is settled, but to those that have taken the time to read the landmark papers, it is obvious that the scientists lack the tools to predict the future with the confidence they claim. To paraphrase Mark Twain, if there are nails that need to be driven, the tool in your hand begins to look more and more like a hammer. Thus we get hockey sticks that obliterate the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period, we get models tuned to show rapid increases but that fail at hindcasting, we get novel and convoluted statistical approaches, etc. The thought leaders in the skeptical camp are not communicators by trade. Those that are, like Mark Morano (and Joe Romm for that matter), actually hurt their causes. The real damage to the consensus has been done mostly by engineers trained to assess logic structures and risk/uncertainty.

    • Toby says:

      No one says the sceince is settled.

      There was a “Little Ice Age” – so what?

      There was a Medieval Warm Period in the North Atlantic, but it was not warmer than the present (or at least no evidence says so), and it was not global. Even if it was, again: so what? How would that disprove the current anthropogenic warming?

      The current evidence we have is

      (1) Radiation physics and radiative-convective modeling that establishes link from greenhouse gases to warming..
      (2) The temperature record, including Richard Muller’s BEST series, establishing 0.8C warming since the 19th century.
      (3) Paleoclimate records, extending back for millions of years, showing that CO2 has driven climate change in the past.
      (4) Current observations of ice mass decline, changing seasons, changing wildlife, and (increasing) more extreme weather patterns.

      No science is ever settled, but at this point the case is becoming increasingly hard to coherently dispute.

      • Bill Yarber says:

        Toby:

        Where have you been, man?

        Al Gore, the IPCC and the rest of the AGW proponents, have been saying “the science is settled for nearly 5 years. The science, especially climate change science, is never settled.

        Recent Antarctic ice core analysis show definitive proof that the MWP and LIA were evident in the ice record – proving that both were world wide events. Two studies of Stalagtites, oe in caves in China and one in caves in New Zealand, show that both the LIA and MWP impacted temperatures in those two areas. Historical records indicate that people were growing grapes in England up near the Scotish border. Since they can’t do that today, the MWP was definitely warmer than today, at least in England.

        The ideal gas Law (PV=nrT) accurately and completely predicts the surface temperatures of planets in our solar system based on solar input and atmospheric pressure. A cold body cannot warm a warmer body, the energy (and temperature) flows from warm to cold, just like water flows down hill.

        No sceptic that I know disputes that the Earth has warmed over the past 160 years since the end of the LIA. The Earth has warmed and cooled in appproximately 30 year periods since 1880, with a positive linear slope of approximately 0.6C/century superimposed on the sinusoidal trend. The dabate is about how much of that warming is natural variation and how much, if any, is from CO2.

        A recent paper by Shakun proposes that changes in CO2 concentrations lead temperature changes. However, all previous papers of ice cores from Greenland and Antacrtica indicate that CO2 concentrations lag temperature changes: by 200-800 years when temperatures are rising and 800-2000 years when temperatures are falling. Shakun’s paper appears to have several significant deficiencies, not the least of which is truncation of the CO2 trend line 8,000 ybp. During this period, temperatures have been dropping from the Holocene Optimum but CO2 concentrations have continued to rise.

        Summer of 2007 had the lowest Arctic sea ice area since satellite coverage began. March 2012 saw Arctic sea ice coverage back up to the 1979-2000 trend line. It will be interesting to see where the 2012 minimum falls. However, Arctic sea ice has been increasing since 2007. There are historical records from ocean vessel logs over the past 200 years that suggest Arctic sea ice goes through cycles similar to what we have seen since 1979. Arctic ocean currents have a great deal of influence on sea ice movement and coverage.

        You need to do more homework.

        With respect to this article, as a degreed engineer, I believe in science and the scientific method. My experience in industrial instrumentation and process control convinces me that CO2 is a lagging indicator of temperature change and is not a forcing. I don’t know who these references talked to, but most engineers and scientist I know personally believe that AGW is a hoax that will soon crumble.

        Bii

        • chris says:

          Which Antarctic ice cores are you referring to Bill? I’m not aware of any ice cores with high resolution temperatures through the last couple of millenia.

          In fact one of the many things that argue against your assertion that “CO2 is a lagging indicator of temperature change and not a forcing” is that the high resolution Antarctic Law Dome CO2 record shows that the atmospheric CO2 response to the entire MWP period was a rather small rise from around 280ish ppm to around 284ish ppm. The LIA resulted in a drop of CO2 from around 282 ppm to 276 ppm [see C. MacFarling Meure et al (2006) Law Dome CO2, CH4 and N2O ice core records extended to 2000 years BP Gophys. Res. Lett, 33, L14810].

          So it seems rather unlikely that the massive contemporary increase in CO2 (from 280ish pre-industrial to nearly 400 ppm and counting) is some sort of “lagged response”. In any case I’m sure you’d agree that the 13C/12C isotope ratio simply rules that out as an explanation. Note also that the entire 10,000 years transition from the last glacial period to the Holocene involving a slow warming of around 5 oC globally overall, produced a paltry 90 ppm rise in atmospheric CO2 (from around 190 ppm glacial to around 270 ppm interglacial). That tends to support an equilibrium CO2 response to warming of the order of 18 ppm per oC. Again that is simply incompatible with your assertion.

          In any case it’s pretty silly to pretend that we don’t know what we do know – that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, that it’s the dominant independently variable greenhouse gas and that pretty much all the massive increase in atmospheric CO2 since the pre-industrial age is from human emissions (largely burning fossil fuels as clearly indicated by the 13C/12C CO2 data).

          Note that grapes are grown and wine produced in the North of England (Google Rydale Vineyards, for example), and grapes are grown at least as far North as Fife in Scotland. Whether or not on chooses to make wine in Scotland is a moot point – not sure why one would bother since the yield and quality isn’t likely to be great (yet!). But anecdotal stories about growing grapes isn’t a very good guide to global temperatures in the Medieval Period! Would have thought that someone like you that “believes in science and the scientific method” would want to have a good grasp of the evidence that forms our understanding rather than anecdotes…

  3. keith Kloor says:

    Fred, you write:

    “On any given day there are now multiple news stories and references to scientific
    articles debunking ‘global warming.’”

    Would you mind providing some credible sources–not links to WUWT, Climate Depot, et al.

    The latter part of your comment reinforces a central point of my post, that it is not about the science at all.

    Matt,
    I have argued at my site and elsewhere that so-called rational skeptics–those that are really focused on climate science–represent a small minority of the climate skeptic sphere. For the vast majority, it is the implied policies that flow from the implications of climate science that they are responding to.

    • Fred says:

      Keith:

      I am happy to oblige. The Arctic sea ice rise is documented by a graph posted by The Arctic Regional Ocean Observing System, Arctic ROOS. This is an organization established by 14 member institutions from 9 European countries. Link to the chart:

      http://arctic-roos.org/observations/satellite-data/sea-ice/observation_images/ssmi1_ice_ext.png

      Link to Arctic ROOS:

      http://arctic-roos.org/

      The rise in polar bear population is quoting from a study just released by the government of Numavut (an autonomous Intuit region in Northern Newfoundland and Labrador). It was written up in the Canadian Globe and Mail:

      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/healthy-polar-bear-count-confounds-doomsayers/article2392523/

      And the source for the finding of decreasing cloud cover in China is from the Annals of Geophysics:

      http://www.ann-geophys.net/30/573/2012/angeo-30-573-2012.pdf

      It is a shame that those on the warmist side seem to have so little intellectual curiosity. Climate scientists are not worth listening to because they, like yourself, show blithe ignorance of the many streams of finding flatly contradicting the CAGW hypothesis.

      In my spare time, and I don’t have much of that, I could duplicate the unearthing of findings shattering the “global warming” myth a couple of times a week, at least.

      • Fred’s comments here nicely illustrate both the fundamental truth of Keith’s observation and its fundamental flaw. All of Fred’s pieces of evidence are extraordinarily weak. On the first, he points to a short term variation in the ice AREA maximum, where it is in fact the annual minimum volume that is in most precipitous decline, and the best indicator of how far we are from ice-free Arctic summers. On the second, regarding polar bears, he points to an article where an expert is quoted as saying “this population is not sustaining itself in any way, shape, or form”, focusing on the population of cubs which is drastically below sustainable levels. His third link simply does not say what he seems to think it does.

        This sort of incoherent grab-bag is the stock in trade of the naysayer.

        Of course it is always possible to find papers critical of prior science, because most papers are critical of prior science. If they weren’t, they would not constitute advances. The reason science is so tolerant of genuine skepticism is because genuine skepticism is the engine of the whole enterprise.

        This plethora of disagreement on the fringe presents a vulnerability to bad faith argument. The traditions of science require bending over backwards to consider every angle. Even as core issues are no longer debated by serious participants in the science, actual science can be systematically abused to cast doubt on the whole enterprise.

        And this vulnerability is being vigorously exploited. Usually this abuse is well-intentioned, coming out of misplaced confidence in the wrong community combined with a narrow view of how science works.

        (Genuinely dishonest manipulation of the discussion is also key to the problem, though, and it is the refusal of the press to examine this aspect of the problem that is the key to my disagreements with our host.)

        Whether Fred is a perpetrator or a victim is, as usual, unclear. The “used to believe” trope is not a reassuring sign. But it is hard for me to credit the idea that the sort of engagement that Keith is suggesting will take me very far in addressing Fred, even if he really does mean what he says.

        Fred can easily come up with three random links. Had they been to deeper literature, it might have taken me quite some effort to rebut them. The number of people capable of slinging this fake-science mud is much larger than the number capable of scraping it off. And most scientifically educated people are avoiding the whole scene out of a desire to protect their productivity and their sanity.

        Of course, it’s all politics posing as science. Science does not look like this. It never has, and hopefully never will.

        But the Freds of the world have constructed a weird fantasy. It seems to me that it is because they can’t believe or don’t want to believe that, one way or another, the carbon has to stay in the ground. I would love to engage with anyone who really has an open mind. But it seems very likely that anything I can say to Fred will reinforce the idea that I am part of a conspiracy.

        It is interesting, by the way, that most of these people will never engage in private. Invite them to a private email conversation or a meeting over coffee, and they demur. This to me is highly indicative of their political rather than scientific motivation.

        • John R T says:

          Richard Betts,”…real people with credible expertise and whose motivations are merely to seek and communicate the scientific truth.”
          Each realist I know is a seeker of Truth.
          Most of us can identify a Communicator.
          When we encounter a truth-seeker and hear communications from authority, telling us how ‘really bad’ it will be – unless we grant the Communicator/Authority control of our person and property – we dismiss special pleadings.
          Realists – not Scientism adherents – discern and discuss facts / observations. Projections and auguries may be useful in charting a course; agenda-free ‘scientific truth’ is both more useful and welcome.

        • Fred says:

          MT:

          re:polar bears

          “For many years, Inuit asked the territorial government to conduct summer range aerial surveys. Finally, in 2011, that aerial survey was conducted and as Inuit knew, the population was found to be healthy and abundant.”

          From:

          http://www.tunngavik.com/blog/2012/04/03/science-shows-polar-bears-in-nunavut-are-abundant-and-healthy/

          Do you know what the optimum amount of ice is for polar bear populations anyway?

          re: Arctic ice levels

          As for polar ice levels, from looking at the graph it looks like there is a good correlation between ice levels at various times during a year (although the number of years presented is very low). So if this summer’s Arctic ice level is again substantially above the 2007 low you will concede defeat on this point? You are inviting personal contact over this global warming issue and I will wager you lunch/dinner (whenever I can get to Texas) that it will not come close to the 2007 low. We should definitely follow up on this.

          More later in the day after I get some work done.

          • Fred says:

            MT writes:

            “His third link simply does not say what he seems to think it does.”

            The study showing decreasing cloud cover contradicts global warming theory in that the theory posits that warming from CO2 increases water vapor and cloudiness, which is not occurring.

            And a bit more on polar ice…By far the largest amount of sea ice is in the Antarctic, and ice extent there has been steadily increasing since 1980. Note:

            http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seaice.anomaly.antarctic.png

            (The above link is to a University of Illinois site.)

            Thus, the polar bears are indeed doing fine, Arctic (and Antarctic) ice up not down (we will see how far Arctic ice dips at the low point this summer), and the drop in cloudiness is indeed quite inconvenient for global warming theory.

            The rest of your post is just so much propaganda. I realize it must be painful for you to see that someone not even in your field can tear apart a theory that is important to you.

            Keep in mind, these three cites are not to the most important areas that discredit CAGW theory, they were just selected because they happen to be items I came across recently. The point is that there is now a steady flow of such items that to a greater or lesser extent refute global warming theory.

            As for your assertion “But it seems very likely that anything I can say to Fred will reinforce the idea that I am part of a conspiracy.” No, MT I do not think you are part of a conspiracy. And if you were I would not fear it because I am sure any conspiracy you were a part of would fail.

          • Toby says:

            Fred,

            2011 was the lowest Arctic volume ever recorded, and the 2nd lowest Arctic Ice extent ever. Multiyear ice is melting, and not getting replaced.

            Just about every scientist who works in the Arctic has come back with graphic stories and pictures of how bad it is. Mark Serreze, Director of the NSIDC, has continued to use the term “death spiral”.

            How that can be transpated into “recovery” beggars belief. How many scientists can you find to support that view – excluding Joe Bastardi, who is a weather forecaster and not an expert on Arctic ice?

            Polar bears are incidental, though clearly they stand to suffer, as do a lot of other less publicised species (like the walrus). While the decline in ice cover has acted to diminish bear populations, not being hunted and a cleaner environment has acted to keep numbers up. So I would not regard polar bear numbers as a reliable guide, but the ice extent and volume records (as for Greenland land ice) are unanswerable.

          • Eli Rabett says:

            Polar bear population trends depend on the area

            http://pbsg.npolar.no/en/status/population-map.html

            Some are increasing, some declining and many are simply unknown. Extrapolating from an area where there have been hunting restrictions is misleading.

            http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/essay_schliebe.html

          • Fred says:

            Falls in Arctic sea ice have occurred before during the 1920′s and 1930′s and appear to be related to the naturally occurring Arctic Oscillation wind patterns. Stories came out in that period detailing sharp declines in Arctic sea ice.

            http://www.drroyspencer.com/2012/03/could-arctic-sea-ice-decline-be-caused-by-the-arctic-oscillation/

            If “global warming” were causing declines in Arctic ice then why is Antarctic sea ice rising? (See the U of Ill. graph from my other post.)

          • Eli Rabett says:

            No Fred, what Roy Spencer showed were (estimates) of the winter Arctic Oscillation Index with a guess that the sea ice would follow it and that the AO was a stronger predictor of Arctic sea ice than global temperatures or the increase in CO2 concentrations.

            Unfortunately for Roy, there are records that can be joined together and they show that Roy, once again, was wrong.

            http://nsidc.org/cryosphere/sotc/sea_ice.html

            For those who need the elevator speech, see the figure at

            http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/tempest-in-ice-pot.html

            Next

        • Mad Scotsman says:

          actual science can be systematically abused to cast doubt on the whole enterprise.

          I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd (sic) from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.

          Who are the abusers and what is actually being abused?

          There is no getting away from the fact that a small coterie of climate scientists have been allowed by the larger scientific body to get away with abusing science. Now that is damning.

          It is little wonder that the Freds of this world seem to posess stronger arguements for rejecting Global Warming than the science community have in protecting the faith and the faithful.

          • Toby says:

            Easy to rip a quote out of context.

            The quote you use has been found innocuous – by how many enquiries now? Six? Eight?

            Here is a book I have by Dave Bishop of Microsoft, called “Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning”, recognised as a definitive publication on the topic. On page 292 he talks about the “kernel trick” to use a heuristic method to establish patterns in data. Is he a fraud? Should I sue?

          • Eli Rabett says:

            Eli has this neat trick for painting Easter eggs.

            Next

  4. Fred says:

    Keith wrote about my earlier post:

    “The latter part of your comment reinforces a central point of my post, that it is not about the science at all.”

    Not so. Back several years ago when I accepted the “global warming” viewpoint I did not at all object to almost whatever policy proposal deemed necessary to combat AGW. I am a dedicated outdoorsman and was highly concerned about the supposed consequences of global warming, such as vegetation and forest cover change. As an avid cross-country skier I was depressed about the prospect of not being able to teach my children the joys of gliding through the forest on cold clear winter days.

    It is specifically because the “science” of AGW is rotten that the harmful policy prescriptions flowing from AGW theory are so unpalatable. The public policy prescriptions are economically deleterious and, since AGW “science” is worthless, it is unconscionable that climate scientists are continuing to push CAGW theory long after it has become apparent to educated people in other fields that the theory is dead and gone as far as having any validity.

  5. Michael Lowe says:

    Dear Keith,
    I agree with Fred. Many sceptics started looking at the science, and that led to scepticism of the policy . How many times have I read that people with my beliefs are political idealogues who do not understand or care for the science! This seems to be aimed at other believers to enable them to further dismiss the sceptics! It certainly is a turn-off for people like me.

    A friend of mine is one of the greatest supporters of the theory of global warming I know. In fact it is the only science he supports – he is against flouridation and vaccination, and subscribes to “Cereology” – the magazine for crop circle believers!

    So you can communicate all you like with him – he will believe you. Until I see better science I am not listening to mere communication. Fix the science and many of the sceptics will disappear!

  6. cagw_skeptic99 says:

    I fully expect that Yale Climate will delete Fred’s comments, and probably this one, but will be back to see if there is a rational response. ‘Climate science’ as practiced by the warmist alarmists is mostly garbage and more akin to religion that science.

    There appear to be no definable series of failures to predict or failures to hindcast that can convince the true believers to question their passionate beliefs supporting their mission to save the world. The ice is not melting, the sea level is not rising, the polar bears are not dieing, but none of that matters.

    The alarmists will have the remnants of civilization camping on the remnants of the Antarctic glaciers unless we shut down all the coal fired power plants and start walking to our survival farms where we til without tractors and live in grass huts.

    • Toby says:

      The hilarious thing is that Fred and friends have produced not one scintilla of evidence against global climate change. Fred, apparently, gave up on science becaue he wanted to teach his kids to ski. Uh?

      You anecdotal friend is a very small sample. Much more relevant is the attempts made in many American states to undermine the teaching of the science of global warming AND evolution. How many “sceptics” have stepped forward to oppose that?

      Precisely none.

      Which validates Keith’s point – the opposition to climate science is an anti-science ideology.

  7. Mad Scotsman says:

    “Almost everyone that dismisses climate change as a problem does it for ideological or political reasons, not for scientific reasons,” he said. “We scientists need to recognize that.”

    Such a dismissive tone helps to explain in part the growing public opposition to what climate scientists have to say on such matters. Lets not forget also that it was the revelation that climate scientists indulged in ‘tricks’ that highlighted that Global Warming research had more to do with theology than actual falsifiable science.

    The public have good reason to retain doubts about what climate scientists are preaching from the IPCC pulpit.

  8. Orson says:

    I think Thomas Kuhn helps provide perspective on climate science debate developments since climategate. SEE THIS chart
    on paradigm shifts in scientific revolutions.

    Notice the “crisis” phase. Under it comes “insecurity.” Now, what counts as insecurity? Confrontation (eg, Mann’s new book, on “The Hockey Stick and The Climate Wars”); fighting and “acting out” are likely. Hence, NAS scientist Dr. Peter Gleick’s fakegate scandal. And pseudo-scientific claims like “global weirding” are invoked to “explain” typical variations in weather, but now loudly — and with ridiculously high levels of confidence – attributed to ‘climate change.’

    And all of this stems from Mann’s Hockey Stick. His refusal to hare data and methods led to denial instead of veridical engagement with the facts. But — as psychiatrists will point out — denial always hides a secret agenda. What exactly is that agenda?

    Loyalty to “the agenda” (and “lying for the cause” as seen in fakegate_ was furthered by realclimate.org, the web site set up by environmental PR group based in Washington, DC, and thereby married to a cause instead of science. This spread group-think and elaborate confirmation biased rationales. And Mann and Hansen and Gelick’s paranoid delusions of persecution!

    Mann’s hidden agenda is evident in the climategate emails: hold doubts privately, don’t express them publicly; hence Kevin Trenberth’s cry about the lack of 2000s warming, that “it’s a travesty we can’t explain it.” And it explains Keith Briffa’s relative fringe status. And in climategate 2.0, the line “this will not end well” caution about the deceptiveness of scientists.

    Meanwhile, the Team upheld its “consensus” front in public, even as the evidence turned against the monolithic CO2 driven climate change narrative. And enablers like Scott Mandia signing on to defend the Faith.

    With climategate, the Great and Powerful Oz, ie the leading cadre of IPCC climate scientists, is shown to to have withheld many important questions and substantial doubts about their ideas. Not only did the public discover this, but so have many scientists important and leading scientists like Oxford physicist Jonathan Jones or the scientists in Germany who wrote “Die kalte Sonne – Warum die Klimakatastrophe nicht stattfindet.” One is a leading Green party physicist, the other a climatologist.

    Kuhn, of course, show us that either the doubts about the anomalies the governing model of normal science either resolve, or else scientists begin to defect, causing even more conflict. Thus, the “Kalte Sonne” scientists see more merit in solar-based climate science. And Svensmark’s cosmoclimatology hypothesis is looking like a more and more influential theory with every report out of CERN.

    The popular science writer who inspired me in my teenaged years, Nigel Calder, points out that paradigm shift like plate tectonics in geology or catastrophic asteroid impacts in paleoclimatology take 20 to 25 years to develop. Svensmark originated his theory in 1992. And therefore the next five years are crucial to see if fruition arrives.

    • Eli Rabett says:

      K. Rypdal, JGR VOL. 117, D06115, 14 PP., 2012 doi:10.1029/2011JD017283:

      I show that the peak-to-peak amplitude of the global mean surface temperature response to the 11-year cyclic total irradiance forcing is an order of magnitude less than the amplitude of a cyclic component roughly in phase with the solar forcing which has been observed in the temperature record in the period 1959-2004. If this cyclic temperature component were a response to the solar forcing, it would imply the existence of strong amplifying feedbacks which operate exclusively for solar forcing, such as top-down mechanisms responding to the large variability in the ultraviolet part of the solar spectrum. I demonstrate, however, that the apparent cyclic component in the temperature record is dominated by the response to five major volcanic eruptions some of which incidentally took place a few years before solar minimum in four consecutive solar cycles, and hence that the correlation with the solar cycle is coincidental. A temperature rise of approximately 0.15 K over the 20th century ascribed to an increasing trend in solar forcing is more than offset by a cooling trend of about 0.3 K due to stratospheric aerosols from volcanic eruptions.

    • chris says:

      The cosmic ray flux:cloud nucleation theory has been around at least since the mid 1970′s (see for example Robert Dickson Solar Variability and the Lower Atmosphere. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 56, 1240–1248). It certainly isn’t Svensmark’s theory!

      And the theory would be fine if there were any evidence for a significant contribution to earth energy flux/surface temperature. However the contribution can only be very small since the cosmic ray flux trend has been if anything slightly positive over the period of very strong warming since especially the 1970′s. The warmest year on record in the GISS analysis corresponds to the period with the highest cosmic ray flux since direct measures began. That essentially disproves a significant contribution from the CRF to contemporary global warming.

      However much valuable information the CERN experiments may yield on cosmic ray ionization and nucleation of airborn aerosol molecules (something that’s also been known about since at least the 1970′s), they’re unlikely to give very much insight into whether cosmic ray flux variation significantly affects cloud formation and surface temperature effects in the real world.

      Making a realistic assessment of the science does require a willingness to incorporate all of the evidence with a certain degree of dispassion. One can’t for example dismiss straightforward understanding of warming from raised CO2 by referring to some non-observation of enhancement of the hydrological cycle, when that has only secondary relevance to greenhouse warming. Greenhouse warming results from a direct radiative imbalance at the top of the atmosphere, together with indirect feedbacks including enhanced tropospheric water vapour concentrations. These have been directly measured in the real world much in line with expectations from theory and models.

  9. genemachine says:

    Keith Kloor says:

    “I have argued at my site and elsewhere that so-called rational skeptics–those that are really focused on climate science–represent a small minority of the climate skeptic sphere. For the vast majority, it is the implied policies that flow from the implications of climate science that they are responding to.”

    Hi Keith, can I ask what proportion of the alarmists you estimate to be “really focused on climate science”? Is it higher than the skeptics? Is Al Gore really focused on the science? Is Pachauri?

    It seems obvious to me that many alarmists accept the authority of the IPCC (or the Skeptical Science website) and the “scientific consensus” on CO2 being the primary driver of temperature trends.

    The more socialist among the believers think there is justice in causing fuel poverty and pushing up the price of foods as long as many of the predicted benefits of action are predicted to help the poor in the third world.

    There are are also careers to be made and projects to be funded in promoting alarm about impending catastrophe or a tipping point.

  10. Orson says:

    The author’s premise is wrong. Could you be oblivious to the pseudo-scientific circus surrounding “the science?”

    The fad driven nature of AGW-related science has long been noticed by those counting up the absurdly numerous and intangible global warming” connections that have been seriously offered up. One accounting I came across – and I follow these matters as an environmental scientist – numbered around 700!

    Scientists with real integrity would be embarrassed by this and drum the nonsense out.

    Last year, AGW-caused earthquakes was added; this year, mental health problems, as per the new National Wildlife Federation report (yes, authored by a lawyer and a shrink–cold comfort for concerned scientists defending real science).

    But to limit ourselves to a few fundamental anomalies undermining alarmism: claims of AGW fingerprints have not been sustained by the evidence. The physical mechanism of accelerated warming from CO2 via an enhanced hydrological cycle has not been observed. Measured temperatures with rising CO2 levels have stopped, revealing a likely insensitivity of the climate system to added carbon dioxide. And a plausible carbon budget for the earth consistent with AGW theory is a mess.

    I think those are only a few of the serious problems undermining “consensus science” on climate. Do you imagine that the passing circus might only entertain those who are unserious? Then why do stars of climate science like Hansen and Mann join in their support?

  11. Orson says:

    Let me ask others to add to examples that falsify the authors premise that political commitment is behind science aversion. I can only offer up two immediately.

    William Gray at Colorado State University. An AGW skeptic who voted for Clinton and Al
    Gore.

    Freeman Dyson, Institute for advanced Studies, Princeton. Supported Barack Obama.

  12. Orson says:

    Ooh. Fritz Varhenholt, Green Party, Germany (Co-author of “Die kalte Sonne.”)
    Richard S. Courtney, ecologist, Labour Party.
    David Bellamy, botanist, Labour Party

  13. Scott Boswell says:

    Keith,

    The “problem” isnt skeptics, the problem is the “warmists” inability (perhaps deliberately so) to understand that the skeptics are skeptical of mans role in global warming.

    Until the “warmists” acknowledge this point of view and stop “dumbing” the argument down to the skeptics position of one of denying that the climate changes (which it clearly does) any constructive discussion between the two sets of positions will be very difficult.

    Scott

    • Dave H says:

      Scott, the “skeptical” position is different depending on the specific individual you are addressing, and frequently changes depending upon what rebuttals are presented to their line of argument. Claiming that you have a finger on the pulse of the “true” skeptical viewpoint is hubris.

      There are plenty of people that identify as “skeptical” and express a position you claim they do not. They are not a fringe minority. If anything, they are a majority.

      The reason that the term “in denial” is so apt – as opposed to “skeptical” – is that the position is uniformly identified by advancing a coherent and rational viewpoint. Rather, it is characterised by the *specific rejection* of a viewpoint and the haphazard acceptance of any evidence that can be made to appear to contradict that viewpoint, coupled with an unwillingness to accept past corrections, errors or mistakes. This is why one deals with a mishmash of:
      – its not warming
      – it is but it’s not man
      – it is but it’s overstated
      – it will be beneficial anyway
      – the effect will reach saturation point and stop
      – there are negative feedbacks waiting in the wings
      – we can’t do anything about it
      – its too expensive to take action
      – its a natural cycle
      – its clouds
      – its cosmic rays
      – its data fraud
      – its grant-seeking
      – its cooling right now
      – polar bears are fine
      – this bit of arctic ice looks ok to me
      – the hockey stick is broken
      – dissent is being suppressed
      – no-one takes my (obviously correct and representative) skeptical position seriously, instead attacking some other guy’s clearly wrong viewpoint

      etc etc etc

      The credulous ability to adopt any or all of these positions – no matter how contradictory – in order to *specifically oppose* what could be characterised as the IPCC consensus opinion is not what anybody impartial would characterise as “skepticism”.

    • Toby says:

      As Scott Denning said “I am not a warmist; I am a scientist”.

      The same goes for all working in climate.

  14. Steven Schuman says:

    Keith,
    Can climate ‘skeptics’ be won over with face-to-face engagement? I thought a dialogue would be about searching for the truth. I thought winning over people or converting them was for religions. One must assume they have their opinion, not the Truth for true communication to occur.

  15. Nullius in Verba says:

    The polar bear issue is a nice illustration of how it is political from both sides.

    From a scientific point of view, the primary curent influence on polar bear population is obviously hunting. Approximately 1000 polar bears are shot each year, out of a population of roughly 25,000, which is 4%. If the population is stable with hunting, it would be increasing at 4% per year without. That’s about 50% per decade, if it could be sustained.

    That’s a massive rate of increase, by any species’ standard. The polar bear population is clearly far below what the land can support – they are culled to maintain their numbers so that they do not become a threat to people and other wildlife. So polar bear population studies are really about whether the cull is at the right level to maintain stasis, not about the sustainability of polar bears per se.

    The endangerment issue is not about what is happening to polar bears now, but about what will happen to them many decades in the future. For this, we have models, and the scientific argument is essentially about the reliability of these models. Models are used not only to project future effects, but to estimate the present population too. Observations of health and behaviour on a subset are extrapolated to estimate the overall population for many of the territories. The interesting thing about Fred’s study was that the models projected a much smaller population than was actually the case. That might or might not be significant – we would all have to go into the science a lot more deeply to tell – but what it suggests is that the models are not very accurate.

    That’s where the scientific issue is, but what we’ve got here is politics, not science. The point is that baby polar bears are cute, which makes them ideal for the political campaign to take action on CO2 emissions. And because modelled results for a future decades hence are not very motivating, the activists have chosen to try to give the impression that the threat is immediate. They try to tell us that a population that would currently be rising at 4% a year if we didn’t control it, is already dying.

    The political issue funds polar bear research, and the Arctic is undoubtedly a cool place to work, so nobody wants to derail the gravy train with inconvenient results. Hence the obligatory but-that-doesn’t-mean-they’re-not-in-danger caveats in any such story. This is politics and ideology, not science.

    On the general point of scientists engaging with the sceptics, these sort of initiatives are a great step forward, but are still doomed if they persist in taking the wrong attitude. The initial attitude of many scientists was: ‘we are right, and they should trust us and believe’. This is greatly improved by moving up to ‘we are right, but we have to explain for them to believe.’ But the problem is still that they are so utterly certain they know better, and any outcome that does not result in the sceptics coming to believe that is counted a failure.

    The problem is that some of the scientists are not looking at this as an open scientific engagement, but as an exercise in persuasion. Their aim is not to work together with sceptics to find out what is right, but to prove that their prior orthodox position is right. They still see it as important to support the consensus, not concede any points, not to ‘hand the sceptics more ammunition’. That doesn’t help ‘the cause’. This is PR and politics, not science. It comes down to their prior belief that sceptics have essentially nothing to contribute scientifically. The only reason to listen to their arguments is to better refute them.

    While this is less than ideal, it can still work. Because now with the expectation that they have to support their claims with argument and evidence, there is a chance for strong arguments to be encouraged and weak arguments eliminated and for the general quality of the discussion to improve. Maybe, if their favoured arguments consistently gain no traction, scientists will eventually pause to reconsider. Can we produce a better, clearer explanation?

    Even if they still don’t take sceptics seriously, it can work (for both sides) if they take it as an opportunity to experiment with explanations and find better ones. If you give the standard explanation and they still don’t understand, don’t just write them off as unpersuadable and give up, find a better explanation. Take a different viewpoint. Approach from a different starting point. Pick different examples and analogies. Think laterally. And even if you don’t eventually persuade them, don’t count it as wasted effort, because you will understand it better.

    It is often in that attempt to clarify that the deeper insights are found.

    • BBD says:

      It comes down to their prior belief that sceptics have essentially nothing to contribute scientifically.

      Then all the ‘sceptics’ have to do is present a coherent, robust and referenced scientific argument. They have never done so. One is forced to conclude that the ‘sceptics’ have nothing to contribute scientifically.

  16. pouncer says:

    Is it possible to enlighten a racist with rational face-to-face conversations?

    The discussions between climate consensus scientists and skeptics reminds me of the discussions between supporters of the Herrnstein and Murray “Bell Curve” conjecture and that notion’s skeptics.

    The “Bell Curve” conjecture, I take liberty to remind some of you, was the notion that the trend of richer, smarter, (whiter) populations to marry and breed with each other; versus an opposing trend of poorer, less-intelligent, (blacker) populations to reproduce without marriage, was producing a consequent trend, and threat of a measurable divergence in IQ between racial groups. Implicit in the conjecture was that IQ drove a number of other interesting results, including income, ability to pay taxes, need for government support payements, participation in the drug and other crime-based economies, etc.

    Now, the problem with the conjecture was that Herrnstein and Murray had very little actual measured data on their central causal factor: IQ. Instead they took proxies — sometimes using enrollment in particular government programs, sometimes using mail address zip code, sometimes using arrest records — as a proxy for “black”. They took similar proxies for demographic groups that they said were likely predominately “white”. Then they took, as proxies for IQ, the results of other tests such as the US Armed Forces Qualification Tests or ACT tests or even freshmen college GPA results. They took the proxy demographic data trends and proxy IQ intelligence trends and homogenized and averaged and graphed and presented a very scary set of scenarios. And “even if this is not completely true” they argued, “should we DO something?”

    Just what “we” should do about “them” and the terrible scenarios “they” threaten “us” with was largely left as an exercise to the (ruling) class…

    The bad proxies and the bad statistics going into the Herrnstein and Murray conjecture could be discussed. debunked, rationally. Mathematically. Scientifically.

    Or we could simply say argue that the whole “science” was a charade intended to provide cover for a political point of view.

    Do you suppose that the sorts of journalists, celebrities, politicians, and non-mathematically inclined academics who, for whatever reason, decided they believed in the “Bell Curve” scenario would be persuaded to DISbelieve, to change their decision, on the basis that the proxies and stats were, to say the least, flawed?

    Now frankly I’m of the opinion that Michael Mann is our decades’ version of Charles Murray, and that ascribing all sorts of “climate change” dangers to rising CO2 concentrations is strikingly similar to blaming falling IQ for the economic problems of urban America. But my inclinations are neither here nor there. My question is, can the inclinations to belief, or disbelief, of controversial conjectures be discussed and resolved purely by review of the proxies and the statistics?

    • Toby says:

      Why does Michael Mann get dragged into everything? He is a brilliant scientist who made a significant contribution to climate science, but he is not Mr Climate Science.

      Mann’s work has been validated by many other workers in the field. Significantly, boreholes reproduce the shape of temperature rise over the last few hundred years.

      But the “Let’s give Michael Mann another lashing” brigade are only illustrating how much they need personalisation & ad-hominem to bolster a weak argument.

    • BBD says:

      My question is, can the inclinations to belief, or disbelief, of controversial conjectures be discussed and resolved purely by review of the proxies and the statistics?

      Are the West Antarctic ice shelves a proxy? If they disintegrate, gravity-driven glacial drainage of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet will accelerate significantly. The laws of physics being what they are.

      Perhaps Hansen’s analysis of the potential for a non-linear sea level change in response to warming is worth a re-visit.

      Or is this all:

      a charade intended to provide cover for a political point of view.

  17. Most on the consensus side have been focused on finding a way to get their message through. That’s very different from communicating, which involves listening. If Betts and others like him are seeking a new path, it’s about time and sorely needed. It’s a far cry from the bleatings of those like Scott Mandia and Michael Tobis, who are more concerned about shutting up those who disagree rather than having a dialogue. More power to those who want to do things differently.

  18. Steven Sullivan says:

    Keith, this would have benefited from including some scientists explaining why they *don’t* think engaging with so-called skeptics is a good idea.

  19. Texan99 says:

    “Almost everyone that dismisses climate change as a problem does it for ideological or political reasons, not for scientific reasons,” he said. “We scientists need to recognize that.” — That comment right there is at the root of the problem. Climate scientists might do better to acknowledge that the dismissive attitude they sometimes encounter is based on scientific reasons, and can’t simply be explained away as the distortions induced by political views they don’t happen to share.

    • Scott Denning says:

      Dear Texan99,

      It was me who said “Almost everyone that dismisses climate change as a problem does it for ideological or political reasons, not for scientific reasons,” he said. “We scientists need to recognize that.”

      There are literally MILLIONS of people who feel this way, and probably millions more that “believe” in climate change because it seems to line up with their ideology. My point is that scientists need to understand that people who agree or disagree on the specific scientific points for technical reasons are such a tiny minority that we (both sides) are almost irrelevant to the larger cultural “debate” about climate change.

      I don’t mean to dismiss these people. In fact, that was the whole point of my comment. There are what, 3000 climate scientists in the US, out of a population of 300,000,000 … yet almost everybody has an opinion.

      What I’m trying to say is that the “debate” is about so very much more than “the science” of climate change. A vanishingly small minority of technical voices is simply lost in the larger shouting match.

      • RW says:

        I have to say I agree with Scott on this. In my experience, the overwhelming majority of people on both sides are just defaulting to the position that conforms to their ideology and not because they understand the evidence.

  20. Dean says:

    “I have argued at my site and elsewhere that so-called rational skeptics–those that are really focused on climate science–represent a small minority of the climate skeptic sphere.”

    Talk about proof in the pudding . . .

  21. Donna says:

    While Betts is entirely right, the thrust of this piece seems entirely off to me. It assumes all is well with a scientific discipline that is badly politicized, and not from the outside in.

    The CRU/Climategate email ‘conversations’, for example, are not the sort of ‘conversations’ dispassionate and ethical scientists engage in. How often do biologists, chemists or geneticists converse about how to best subvert the peer-review process to better gird this or that favored theory?

    CAGW/CACC theory supports environmentalisms broader narrative of man as despoiler. That narrative contains a measure of truth, of course, since no species can fail to impact its environment as it naturally seeks to survive.

    Climate science has permitted itself to be sucked into the vortex of swirling arguments over what steps, if any, should be taken to preserve the planet’s ability to sustain life in great diversity, to include human life. This has been a great mistake.

    In my opinion, and this is simply my opinion, if humanity survives the self and other destructive crusade that Islamic fundamentalism is presently embarked upon, we will in the not so distant future be powering the world with non-carbonaceous fuels, and not with the “green” energy technologies most frequently cited today. And no redistributive carbon tax or other economic insanity is needed to bring that about. The incentives, and advancing human ingenuity, are already fully in place.

    When that occurs, the need for a supportive climate theory will fade away. Unfortunately, what will not fade away is the damage already done to science and the trust the public used to place in scientists, scientists in the previously uncorrupted physical sciences, at any rate.