Posted by: Barry Bickmore | November 25, 2011

Contrarians File for Intellectual Bankruptcy

As a recovering climate change contrarian, I remember well the kinds of things that most impressed me as I went through the process of changing my mind.  It’s true that the mainstream scientists had some arguments that I thought were pretty difficult to get around, but just as important was the utter lack of intellectual rigor I detected in most of the contrarian arguments.  So many of their arguments were obviously absurd, and yet I noticed that many contrarians were absolutely incapable of seeing any problem with them.  To me, this was a strong indicator of a movement well on its way to intellectual bankruptcy.

The recent release of 5,000 more stolen e-mails from the University of East Anglia servers has served to reinforce this impression.  The stolen e-mails were released along with a README file that included what the hackers apparently thought of as the most damning quotes, and which contrarians have gleefully repeated.  (Juliette Jowit at The Guardian has investigated the context of many of these quotes, and her article is well worth a read.)  As a working scientist, none of the quotes I have seen has been even remotely surprising.  In many of them, the mainstream climate scientists involved made waspish remarks about EACH OTHER, or expressed strong disagreement about EACH OTHER’S work.  Wait… I thought the contrarian argument was that these guys uncritically accept anything from their side of the fence.  The stolen e-mails make it abundantly clear that this is not the case, although they might provide some limited support for contrarians who have also expressed disagreement about one point or another.

Even out of context, however, I am baffled by the inclusion of some of the quotes in a list that is supposed to be damning to the mainstream scientists.  Tommy Wills, for instance, wrote in one e-mail, “What if climate change appears to be just mainly a multidecadal natural fluctuation? They’ll kill us probably….”  The only possible reason for thinking this quote is damning is that Wills mentions the possibility that recent global warming is mainly due to natural fluctuations.  But since the mainstream view is that this appears very unlikely, rather than impossible, given presently available data, I fail to see why this would impress anyone, aside from the sort of dullards who are incapable of understanding arguments based on probability.

Wills not only mentioned the bare possibility that the mainstream scientists were wrong, however.  He went on to say that if they were, they would probably end up getting lynched.  I imagine Wills was making a lighthearted joke, here, but sometimes we make jokes out of things that aren’t too far from the truth.  Arch-contrarian Lord Christopher Monckton recently told a cheering Australian crowd, for instance, “So to the bogus scientists who have produced the bogus science that invented this bogus scare I say, we are coming after you. We are going to prosecute you, and we are going to lock you up.”  So what the out-of-context quote from Tommy Wills really indicates is that 1) mainstream climate scientists like Wills do consider the possibility that their main conclusions are wrong, and 2) they are aware that the issue is so politically charged that there might be serious consequences for being wrong.  Honestly, how stupid would a contrarian have to be to include Wills’s quote in the highlights reel?

Am I mistaken to think this kind of thing represents a serious lack of intellectual horsepower under the hood?  Could it be that the contrarians are simply having a little petty fun exposing e-mails from (and about) their opponents that seem mildly embarrassing?  I don’t think so, but let me illustrate why by pointing to a little mini-controversy I participated in just as the story broke about the new e-mails.

The other day, Anthony Watts, proprieter of the popular contrarian blog, WattsUpWithThat?, posted a piece about how Lord Christopher Monckton got some lawyer to say that Parliament is wrong, and His Lordship really is a member of Parliament.  The lawyer’s argument was mainly that the House of Lords Act of 1999 didn’t mean what it said.  Since I object to the way Monckton has tried to pad his résumé to enhance his credibility in the climate change debate, especially when he has at least three times falsely represented himself as a member of Parliament to members of the U.S. Congress, I wrote a blog post detailing why I thought Monckton’s lawyer was… well, acting in a manner consistent with the reputation of lawyers in general.  At the end of my post, I wrote some comments about how Watts has consistently been willing to approvingly pass on whatever claims Monckton cares to make, no matter how nonsensical, and I went on to note my impression that Watts and his followers are too easily impressed by the kinds of big words and Latin phrases Monckton likes to use.  I then went over to Watts’s blog and posted a comment with a link to my argument.

One or two of Watts’s followers took umbrage with my characterization, and Watts chimed in to tell me that I should “should spend time… reading the climatgate 2.0 emails instead of pissing around here in this thread.”  I then posted a comment with some more details about why I think Watts is the sort who will post anything, no matter how stupid, by anyone who agrees with him that human-caused global warming is overblown.

Anthony,

I have been. Even out of context, they’re still boring.

And by the way, what do you think about any of the arguments I brought up about Monckton’s claim to be a member of Parliament that Parliament doesn’t know about? What do you think about his post (on your site) in which he claimed that when trying to discredit the IPCC’s temperature projections, he wasn’t obligated to disclose their “actual projections”? Does any of that bother you at all?

I’ve noticed that you often start your posts about Monckton with “I don’t have a dog in this fight”, or some such disclaimer. Well, given how much you’ve used your forum to promote his views without taking a hard look at his alleged chicanery, I’d say he’s your dog now.

Another one of those pets you might have trouble shaking off is Girma Orssengo, whose nonsense you also published on your site. If I remember correctly, his point was that he could fit a line plus a cosine wave to the 20th century temperature data, so it all must be a natural cycle. Really.

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/04/25/predictions-of-global-mean-temperatures-ipcc-projections/

The only stupider thing I’ve ever heard anyone with any scientific training say about climate change was when Joe Bastardi told the Fox News audience that the greenhouse effect violates the First Law of Thermodynamics and Le Chatelier’s Principle. Oh, wait! You let him do a guest post about that on your site, too!

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/08/12/bastardi-science-and-reality-point-away-not-toward-co2-as-climate-driver/

What do you think about that? Is that how you view the greenhouse effect?

Do you see why I get the impression that you will publish anything on your site that seems to go against the scientific consensus on climate change?

Watts replied,

I don’t think anything about it. I give a voice to lots of people, to you or to anyone who wants to make an reasoned argument. Feel free to submit a guest post here.

Wow.  He doesn’t “think anything about” Joe Bastardi’s claim that the greenhouse effect violates the Law of Conservation of Energy.  I had to conclude that Watts, a TV weatherman, didn’t have a clue about how the greenhouse effect works, or what the Law of Conservation of Energy implies.

The conversation went on a bit longer, but it was obvious that Watts wanted to ditch me and exclusively deal with the exciting new “Climategate 2.0″ topic.  Imagine my surprise when, within a day of our conversation, Watts posted a scathing critique of a piece about the new e-mails, written by a friend of mine, Prof. Scott Mandia (a meteorologist).  Watts said Mandia’s piece was “like stupid on steroids,” and was especially scornful of this statement by Mandia.

Here is what we know: The Earth is round, smoking is linked to lung cancer, and humans are changing the climate by emitting massive amounts of heat-trapping carbon dioxide and other gases. Like extra blankets at night, those emissions are warming the planet.  The physics of greenhouse gases has been understood for more than 100 years.  It is not new science.

What did Watts object to, exactly?  He first quoted a web page by another meteorology professor.

Does the atmosphere (or any greenhouse gas) act [like] a blanket?

At best, the reference to a blanket is a bad metaphor. Blankets act primarily to suppress convection; the atmosphere acts to enable convection. To claim that the atmosphere acts a blanket, is to admit that you don’t know how either one of them operates.

Watts then went on with his own criticism.

Of course, the rest of this is just a BS strawman argument, most skeptics (and certainly no skeptical scientists) don’t dispute the greenhouse effect, only the magnitude of the effect and confounding factors such as feedbacks and sensitivity. The phrase about smoking and lung cancer is right out of the slimer playbook championed by people like Romm and Gore, who have used such tactics before. The only purpose for it being there is to tar people you disagree with a broad brush.

Now let’s deconstruct all this and see what’s going on.

Mandia’s statement was simply a soundbite-friendly way of saying that the science behind the idea that humans are causing significant climate change is rock solid, and a few more mildly embarrassing quotations from stolen e-mails won’t change that at all.  Obviously, any soundbite-friendly statement like that is going to be oversimplified to some extent, so I don’t really mind if Watts wants to object that he has been broadbrushed into the same category as the sort of crackpots who deny the greenhouse effect exists.

Because Watts’s discussion of the blanket metaphor indicates that he DOES have a decent understanding of the greenhouse effect.  The blanket metaphor IS scientifically inexact, as Prof. Mandia would readily admit.  In fact, it’s scientifically inexact in precisely the same way as the “greenhouse” metaphor itself.  While neither metaphor is probably enough for a meteorology class, both are common ways to help people with no background in the subject get the basic idea of what greenhouse gases do.

But if Watts has a decent conceptual grasp of the greenhouse effect, how can he possibly say that he “doesn’t think anything about” Joe Bastardi’s ridiculous assertion that the greenhouse effect violates conservation of energy?

It seems very likely to me that Watts really doesn’t think anything about it–and that’s the problem.  Many climate change contrarians, like Watts, simply don’t have any consistent intellectual framework for their ideas.  They just know the mainstream science is wrong, and so they tend to grasp onto any argument that seems to detract from the views of mainstream climate scientists.  A sort of fog goes up around their brains, preventing them from recognizing the absurdity of even the stupidest contrarian arguments.  Likewise, everything in the stolen e-mails looks sinister to them, no matter how innocuous it really is.

To my mind, the all-pervasiveness of arguments like these, that are rarely challenged within the climate change contrarian community, is a very strong indicator that their movement has filed for intellectual bankruptcy.

P.S.  This seems an opportune time to give a plug for my Bickmore’s Laws page by reproducing three relevant excerpts.

Bickmore’s First Law of Being Reasonable

Reasonable people understand that good arguments can sometimes lead to false conclusions, and bad arguments can sometimes lead to true conclusions.

Bickmore’s Second Law of Being Reasonable

Reasonable people resist bad arguments, even if they agree with the conclusions.

Bickmore’s First Law of Being Biased

Bias makes you human.  Unckecked bias makes you stupid.

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Responses

  1. It could just be that I’m paying more attention now than in the past, but it seems to me that WUWT has become even stupider than before. Aside from orgasming over these emails that nobody else cares about (because the content is utterly benign), and “giving a voice” to anyone who’s in denial about AGW and doesn’t understand basic physics, the site has also begun attacking any climate solution, including renewable energy technologies. Watts had one post where he was celebrating that Google has stopped investing in green tech R&D (what Watts neglected was that it’s because Google is focusing on deployment, but that’s beside the point). He’s become so grossly biased that he celebrates when a private firm stops funding R&D for clean technologies like solar energy. The site is utter garbage – it might as well be Fox News’ climate channel.

  2. Bad arguments abound on all sides of the debate, it’s hardly a piece of evidence to hold up to justify action.

    If your laws are true, I’m guessing we have a void of the “reasonable” attribute in the debate.

    • Bad arguments abound on all sides of the debate,

      …the above being a case in point.

      It seems that every time climate ‘skeptics’ are told that their ‘arguments’ are illogical garbage, they reflexively throw out this ‘But Clinton did it too!’ excuse, and they think it somehow magically makes the illogical stupidity disappear.

      Intellectual bankruptcy indeed. In the political arena though, the stupid still wield much power — and that’s where the real battleground is.

      — frank

      • I’m trying to decide if you’re being intentionally dense or simply knee-jerking your way into misunderstanding me. I should probably assume the latter, but my patients wanes…

        Barry claims that the poor argumentation was essentially a principle guide post for him. As if simply fleeing stupidity would somehow get one closer to truth when it does, in reality, nothing of the sort.

        I am in no way stating or implying that bad arguments are good. They remain bad arguments and are evidence of nothing but the opinions of those who make them.

        • However, you’re running “false equivalence”.

          There are darn near 100% bad argument on the denialist side.

          And the bad arguments on the AGW side aren’t anywhere near as bad as the bad arguments on the denialist side.

          You’re weighing scales with a ton on one side and a kilo on the other and saying “well, there’s mass on either side, therefore, both are uneven!”.

    • Brandon,

      You are right about there being bad arguments on both sides, but I think you are indulging in some false equivalence. My impression, at least, is that Watts is one of the opinion leaders among the contrarians, He and other opinion leaders among the contrarians routinely use arguments that aren’t just bad–they are patently absurd, and yet they almost never get challenged from their side of the fence.

      • I find nothing of false equivalence in it at all. The proposed solution to AWG is also “patently absurd” and the flimsy process and evidences provide no real basis for the proposed costs. The proposed costs don’t even match the proposed risks! Well, unless you count the (gag) “uncertainty principle”, but that’s ridiculous on it’s face. It makes it all just look like a ludicrous power and money grab, or if I’m feeling generous, pie in the sky wishful thinking.

        If you want to claim some sort of moral victory in your certitude about being above the other side of the argument, feel free. I don’t really feel the need to acknowledge it though. From my perspective it becomes all quite equivalently useless.

        • Brandon,

          I am not following you. Barry is saying that the contrarians are arguing for science that is totally inconsistent with what we know about physics and geochemistry. Can you point out any mainstream blogs or scientists who support ACC that are or have written anything is ridiculous as What Barry described?

          You assert that the solutions offered are “patently absurd”. That might be, but you give no support for that statement, and it really is a separate issue. Denying the reality of what science knows about CO2’s effect on global mean temps undermines any arguments about policy proposals, because ALL policy proposals are deemed illegitimate. You have to get past step one before you can have “a dog in the fight” with step two. I would guess that one of Barry’s biggest frustrations is that there are no conservative proposals to deal with ACC because the Republican party has been hijacked by the blatantly anti scientific contrarian view.

          • Yes, the solutions are patently absurd. You can’t separate them from what “science knows about CO2’s effect…” because it’s all one big ball of wax. You, yourself, painted a “do nothing” view with “anti scientific” almost immediately after attempting a distinction. The alarmists have painted you into this corner and no, I’m not letting you squirm out that easily at your convenience. I wouldn’t care one bit what you claim or your process if there wasn’t a big push to dramatically alter life as we know it with a huge power and money grab.

            Firstly, most of the hand waving about the “dangers” is pretty much just that. And much of it doesn’t pan out and is essentially empty propaganda. So what’s real? Food. The potential for reduced food production. Everything else I’ve seen to date is a waste of space and time to even discuss. Ice? Polar bears? Sea level? Bleh.

            So…. What do we do? We burn food! What an ill conceived “solution” to solve our problem. This isn’t just a ill gotten proposal on the internets somewhere, it’s ALREADY HAPPENED. What results? 3rd world rioting, instability, and human deaths. If you want links I’ll go dig them up, but every time food prices spike you see rioting in various parts of the globe. This is well known and understood. Burning our grain stocks to make ethanol to reduce our CO2 production has certainly directly contributed to rising food prices, which in turn is directly linked to rioting and death.

            The first and foremost “solution” should be increasing food production, not figuring out ways to BURN FOOD. Yeah, go look at the mislabeled “skeptical science” site and other such pro-ACC/AGW (insert whatever acronym is in today) sites and you’ll see the infamous “bio fuels” as a celebrated “alternative” to our current ways; contributing to death and destruction in a 3rd world nation near you. I would consider these results worse than anything emanating from the anti-ACC crowd.

            The process of academic science is inadequate for making fundamental changes to our baseline economic markets. It’s laughable really. You don’t have the required transparency or accountability in your process that such an undertaking should have. External audits? Don’t happen. The QA is poor. A history of being wrong. Everything is wrapped around journals, retaining government funding and other academic goals, all with built in biases of their own. I could go on and on. This rubs your type wrong, but it’s the truth and the sooner you can wrap your collective brains around what this means the better. You need a better process than you currently have if you really want to make the stand that you are. The results are really without meaning without an adequate process backing them up.

            • Oh geez, talk about intellectual bankruptcy. Brandon asserts:

              “go look at the mislabeled “skeptical science” site and other such pro-ACC/AGW (insert whatever acronym is in today) sites and you’ll see the infamous “bio fuels” as a celebrated “alternative” to our current ways”

              First of all, equating “biofuel” with “food” is pure ignorance. I presume you’re referring to corn-based ethanol, in which case either find one single page on SkS which endorses the use of corn-based ethanol, or retract your false statement.

              SkS has briefly mentioned the use of biofuels as one potential solution to climate change because some, like algae oil for example, have good potential. Corn-based ethanol does not even reduce greenhouse gas emissions and SkS has never “celebrated” it, or even mentioned it, as far as I’m aware.

              The claim “[climate] the solutions are patently absurd” is itself patently absurd. Many solutions are little more than common sense, like increasing energy efficiency and reduced reliance on foreign oil – steps that virtually everybody agrees we should take.

              I love his blase attitude about decreased biodiversity and sea level rise, the latter of which will cause billions of dollars in property damage/loss. “Bleh,” he says.

              I should know better than to argue with Brandon by now, but the sheer ignorance of that comment just irritates me.

            • Brandon,

              thanks for your long reply. I don’t know Barry’s posting guidelines, and he probably knows these issues better than I do, but I will try to address your points one by one. if you are interested in real dialogue that is great, and you can decide if you need to supply me with the links your referred to.

              To start you say the solutions are patently absurd, again with no explanation, except the ethanol issue, which I will deal with in turn. I can guess that you are referring to the difficulties of meeting current/future energy demands with renewable sources such as wind solar, geothermal, and non CO2 chemical systems, and of course conservation. I agree that with current technology, economies of scale and legitimate economic issues probably not more than 10-20% of current energy could be supplied by non CO2 sources. If you are saying that in the next 50 years making that figure closer to 75-90% is absurd, I would be happy to argue that with you.
              I think you are misunderstanding what I actually wrote about about anti science and policy proposal., you seem to be mischaracterizing it but I don’t quite understand what you were saying. On rereading my comment it is quite clear that policy proposals based on anti scientific explanation, in this case can ONLY result in non proposals. Every climate scientist I am aware of, including Lindzen, Spencer, Christie, Michaels, Pilke acknowledge that CO2 does cause a rise in global mean temps. None of them accept the kind of anti scientific arguments Barry is referring to. Yet Contrarian bloggers, such as Delingpole, Watts, Jonova, Goddard and even Curry rarely if ever (I have seen Spencer bark at some people for doing so) correct these commenters as long as it attacks ACC.
              I am not sure what makes you think alarmists have painted me into any corner, I am interested in the actual science and the likely consequences, not what any faction tries to dictate to me.
              And what exactly is the money and power grab? That only makes sense to me if there is a blatant conscious conspiracy with the vast majority of climate scientists and business and senior government official hiding the knowledge of scientific fraud (which they will have to do for many years or decades in order to get away with it). As far as I know investment in renewable technology is not restricted to members of Greenpeace or EDF. If there is a money grab, you are quite able to cash in on it by investing in renewable technology, and even going bankrupt! I assume you are talking about subsidies, but please be specific.

              You say much of “dangers” is just “hand waving”. Do you not think that sea levels increasing by 1 meter or even half that, won’t have devastating effects? Or that increased drought and flooding will not occur with a 2°C+ increase in temps? even with the modest temp increase we have seen in the last generation, Vermont. where I live just got hit by the most devastating storm anyone here had ever seen. At least the worst storm in ~100 years. That may not have been due to ACC, but certainly water vapor increases with temp, and that is what we got pounded with. With another 2C increase you don’t think there will not be more and much worse events, such as hit Australia, Pakistan. Thailand, Russia, the Amazon and the US south just in the past year (Japan does not count as that was a seismic event)? There are multiple other potential disasters as well that, while not necessarily proven, are certainly not just handwaving. What is your basis for discounting these possibilities as not panning out and being propaganda? Hansen’s assertion of the conceivability of a 5 meter sea level by 2100 I would accept as hand waving. The same with the Arctic being relatively ice free by 2015, but neither of those are scientific predictions. Please make a specific point. Are you saying that the actual scientific objections to a 2°C increase in the next 50-90 years are proven? if so , whose pet theory do you subscribe to and what is the basis for it being more accurate than ACC?
              Funny that I think of food production as being one of the less intractable problem’s (as far as ACC is concerned). the opening up of Siberia and Canada should partly be able to compensate for agricultural devastation in other places.
              So you turn to Corn ethanol. Something we both agree on as well as pretty much every environmental organization that is concerned about climate change. I remember when Corn Ethanol was first being considered in the 90’s and certainly some environmental groups opposed it before it started. I heard about their objections at least a decade before I did form any anti climate change source. The two pluses about it are income for corn farmers and establishing an infrastructure for ethanol production that will almost certainly transition to non food sources such as switchback. Of course there are other problems with any sort of non fossil fuel combustion. For one you will never get the same bang for the buck as multimillion year old condensed petroleum. I think the only real supporters now are Democrat and Republic politicians form the states where it is produced, and the famers and large agribusiness companies making a profit from it. And I would suggest that you over attribute food shortages to ethanol. they are likely a factor, but there are other factors that have a much bigger impact on food shortages (aforementioned loss of grain in Russia last year being one).

              OK I went to Skeptical Science, and as I suspected they also advise using non food sources for biofuels. Please refer me to a AGW website that specifically promotes use of Corn or any other food grade ethanol.

              Your last paragraph’s alleging “my type” I will dismiss since you don’t know anything about me or what my approach to this issue is. I will also suggest that you have little real world contact with academic sources that are involved in real solutions to non-academic problems. The two cases that I am personally familiar with farmers are very happy with the academics at Ohio State and Georgia Tech – the one collaborating on cow disease and antibiotics, and the other with a rather devastating corn fungus. In the climate arena I am guessing you are also unfamiliar with the industry collaborations that Stanford Global Climate and Energy, Yale Center for Business and the Environment, MIT’s Environment and Energy and numerous other universities are involved in.
              If you check some of these out, I would be interested in your ideas for what process in missing in these collaborations. I have my own ideas but I would be interested in yours.

            • Yes Dana, we do not get along. The only successful biofuels to date are food based. I knew you would find some obscure non-commercially produced or some microcosm of a market that’s totally irrelevant as an example to prove otherwise, as if that really proves anything. As of today they are food based, probably at least 95% of the market. If you really want to live in the fictional world of “could be” rather than what is, I’m just going to roll my eyes now and ignore you. That makes for poor energy policy planning.

              Anyway… moving away from Mr Dana.

              Tony,

              The corner I’m speaking of is linking the science results and policies as a single argument.

              The money and power grab is new taxation (money) on carbon regulation (power). I don’t need to claim some vast conspiracy. Government naturally wants to expand it’s power and money, this is self-evident. Government funds the vast majority, if not all, of these climate scientists. Which I also assume is self evident. No conspiracy nor scientific fraud is necessary to show that there is a built in conflict of interest (bias). Coupled with a lack of external quality controls and the foundation is looking pretty shaky.

              Extreme weather events have always occurred. This isn’t something new that we haven’t dealt with before. Yes, even 100 year storm levels occur once in a while.

              Sea level change is irrelevant. If it does happen, it will happen slowly, and the incurred costs can most easily be accounted then. From the economic perspective, it’s much cheaper to deal with those problems when we encounter them rather than throw trillions into carbon regulation schemes now in an unknown and likely failed attempt to reverse the trend. So yes, this is quite irrelevant. Freeway safety, life style disease, and addictions are all much bigger societal issues than sea level rise.

              It’s good that so many are against corn ethanol today. However, it’s still mandated, and I can’t even buy ethanol free gasoline because of the EPA. Perhaps I have miss characterized the biofuel promoters a bit (my apologies for that…), but obviously that message (if it was presented the same way it is now, back then) has been likewise misunderstood by the .gov and the EPA. Results speak pretty loudly to me, so even if the specifics don’t line up the general rendition remains true.

              If you don’t believe that food production is an issue or threatened in anyway, then there is no reason to even become alarmed at ACC/AGW. It poses no threat to our species and the economic dislocations are much cheaper to deal with when they occur. It quite simply becomes a “WHO CARES?” issue.

              Other absurdities…

              The US is in a depression and will likely end up in bankruptcy within 10 years due to our abysmal financial management. We can ill afford to rebuild our energy infrastructure to remove CO2 with our current balance projections.

              Many of the technologies proffered as solutions are unproven. If I had a dime for every technology I’ve read about that never materialized…. Without a commercially successful example and some real life miles on the odometer to prove out longevity, it might as well be fiction.

              The global nature of the problem, and the existence of significant countries – like China – that are fully willing to abuse the environment for a profit make the self imposed costs detrimental to the self-restricted country on the global market. Combined with the idea that the CO2 sensitivity is logarithmic, making small trims rather unimportant. It just isn’t a recipe for progress.

          • Brandon,

            Well at least you are being somewhat reasonable in your arguments. I don’t agree with most of it, but a good fraction is rational and defensible from what we do know.
            perfectly reasonable to link the science and policies. it is a political and social problem so deserves political and social inquiry. Tha twas no twaht I was arguing against though.
            Your argument against Dana seems spurious to me. YOU were the one who said that it was AGW proponents who celebrate biofuels as an alternative and then you blame starvation and riots and death on them for it. As I said previously I have seen no evidence that corn ethanol is anywhere near the most significant factor in this, and you have not supplied evidence of AGW/environmental groups that are not aware of the problem, of using food for fuel. As I pointed out it was JUST These groups that pointed out the problem to begin with. And it is BIG agribusiness and large farmers that are the ones making out on this. On the other hand the infrastructure for delivering biofuels is in place. It is similar with electric cars. from the opposite direction. the technology is here so that infrastructure and electricity can eventually be provided from non CO2 sources. it just doesn’t all happen at once in a non planned economy. I assume you are not advocating a planned non market “rational” approach to solving these issues.
            Your whole first paragraph is just assertions- about government, about funding, about climate scientists. in general there is some validity to the idea of government creep regarding taxes and money. this is clearly true of the Military, and things like the criminal justice system, and some other areas where there are literally millions of dollars for hundreds of particular districts, both in federal down to local politics. it is also true with agriculture and medicine and a number of different areas. i would say climate science is way down on the list of areas subject to financial corruption. there is a big difference. the military does not have a peer review system, and arms contractors don’t take any classes on ethical sales pitches in arms sale school. When corruption IS pointed out (I was exaggerating when I said there is not ANY peer review) rarely is anything done about it because there is way too much money involved.
            So I DO agree that there are financial incentives for climate scientists to publish work which will increase the likelihood of being budgeted next year. But the peer review system is somewhat correcting because dozens or hundreds of other equally well trained scientists will look at your work. and see if it jibes with theirs and others that they know is good. I know a couple of climate scientists and have met a number of others. believe me they are not defense contractors or agribusiness executives. they have all been very smart people who were well aware of the difficulties in the complex work they were doing, but MOSTLY are specialists who are trying to understand one tiny problem and do not have the time to figure out how to gimmick the result so that it will fit in with the “consensus”.
            the REAL corrupting influence here, in my view is the viciousness and deceptive practices of deniers, who are only interested in discrediting any science they can that supports ACC. That has created a huge political polarity where scientists who are attacked have become extremely defensive. This is what you see in the climategate emails. Some of the responses and actions of the people are NOT those of scientists innocently plying their trade in a search for the truth (which if you know anything about science has NEVER been the case), but people who have been repeatedly attacked as dishonest corrupt and part of a conspiracy to defraud and destroy the US. This has caused many of the high profile scientists to demonize those attacking them, and make it emotionally harder to separate those feelings from the science. If ACC is NOT happening at all, then the enemy “wins”. What I find extremely impressive is how little that has affected the science. Even in the emails there is only tangential instances where you see this emotional effect fully born out, and there is no evidence that these scientists express any desire to prevent valid research findings. the most egregious faults were in very few attempts trying to stifle what they considered to be very flawed science form being expressed because they KNEW it would be turned against the real science. If there had been one email that said Phil, Mckittrick is about to publish a paper that shows temps are NOT rising, and all our manipulations to keep the publci from finding out about this are about to be exposed. We have to find some way to spin it so that people don’t see the truth and believe him. How can we cloud the issue so that we have at least a few more years getting funding for the satellite work i have been doing” That is in fact what was discovered in tobacco emails, why they have been convicted of fraud and had to pay billions of dollars. Nothing close to that in any of the emails”
            You also completely ignore the ideological motivations of the deniers. being able to re-animate the communist bogeyman is tremendously empowering to right wing ideologues. It is the same with demonizing islam (though in that case there really are some people trying to do bad things, but that is a different argument). the idea that capitalism has created a tragedy of the commons is ideologically unacceptable to right wing ideologues. And they have managed to hijack the base of the republican party, in the same way the neocons did around the fiasco of Iraq. Actual conservative republicans, like Barry have been marginalized, just as the actual politicians have opportunistically changed positions in order to protect from primary opponents.
            this is not to deny that people like Naomi Kline and other leftist/progressives who argue for socialist policies based on the science are correct. But their solutions ARE in line with the science. Republicans are forced to abdicate any solutions because the ideology does not allow there to be a problem.

            Your next paragraph seems meaningless. the question is how OFTEN do hundred year or thousand year events happen, and are they happening more often now than they have. We just had a hundred+ year storm hit Vt that caused about 3 orders of magnitude more damage than I expected because I had not considered the amount of precipitation or the amount received before. This is exactly in line with ACC theory about increased water vapor.If we get another storm like this in 5 years, and another 7 years after that, it is totally in line with ACC theory and would have no explanation by any denier non-theory, and it cost billions of dollars for a state with 630,000 people.
            A group I work with is trying to put up a building, and had to redesign the whole bottom floor which will increase the cost of the building significantly because flood insurance rates have skyrocketed. NOBODY involved even considered NOT doing it because another storm like that won’t happen for 100 years.
            Now it MAY not be true that this will happen, but it is disingenuous to pretend that it is not a very realistic belief. The issue is that these will INCREASE in frequency if ACC is correct, and the potential economic cost is certainly in the trillions of dollars over a few decades.
            it is also disingenuous to say that sea level rise is a minor thing that can be dealt with as it occurs. as in the case above infrastructure has to be planned decades ahead and planning and codes need to be based on real potential scenarios. I am sure that there were politicians that railed against the ridiculous safety precautions taken for Japanese nuclear power plants. They probably inflated the cost of the reactors by many many millions of dollars. yet they proved to be too little, and if the standards had been lower by a significant amount to save money it is very likely there would have been containment breach and a disaster unlike anything we have seen. If sea levels rise a meter in the next century then planning for it has to begin now in some places. it is NOT just about the absolute sea level, but surge, tides and storms.

            I certainly agree with you about Ethanol. But I don’t think there was any misunderstanding Both the government and the politicians and lobbyists who have promoted this are guilty of trying to fix one problem by creating a raft of others. And even non food biofuels have significant problems. How can a system be established that produces enough ethanol to be productive while making sure that it is not replacing food agriculture or clearing sensitive ecological areas that might have remained. it takes an awful lot of land to produce enough biofuel to replace the same amount of gasoline.

            I did not say I didn’t think food production would not be an issue. I said I didn’t think it would be the biggest because of the opening up of very large agricultural areas that have been unavailable. There are many many problems that could disrupt food production because of ACC.

            I also doubt that ACC is a threat to our species, but in the worst case scenarios that I think are realistic, it could result in the deaths of billions in the coming century, and cause a serious change in the political/social/economic structure of the world in ways that I don’t think any of us would be happy about. there will likely be serious ecological consequences both directly from ACC and indirectly from human responses to it. As E.O. Wilson (another non leftist scientist) and many others contend we are on the verge of a mass extinction event that could have significant consequences to humans as well.

            And I somewhat agree with you about the technology and economics. people suggesting easy fixes are deluded. This is an extremely complicated issue and replacing something as incredibly energy efficient as oil is going to take a lot of hard thought and real intelligent implementation. While most people consider me a radical, I actually want solutions that work and do not make things worse in unexpected ways. I do think we have to be prudent and factor in unexpected technologies and hard changes in approaches as the situation becomes clearer. That however does NOT mean doing nothing now. In fact I think it calls for major exploration of many different options to see which ones hold the most promise and are the least disruptive. It makes no sense to build 5 million windmills if 15 years from now there becomes available some unexpected geothermal way to more cheaply and efficiently tap the Earths heat 5 miles down. You can certainly argue the economics from a range of positions, except for the position that we don’t need to do anything. And think that is the essence of Barry’s post (if he bothers to read my long comments he can correct me). Not having a commercially viable example is no reason not to pursue something. It is a reason not to put all ones eggs in that basket, and these are the issues that really need to be discussed and argued about.
            I also think it is possible that there are natural homeostatic factors that might limit ACC more than is presently suspected. I don’t have much hope for the specific hypotheses thrown out by Lindzen, or Spencer, but there was just a paper that I have seen, which no one references, from Cornell that suggests aerosols not only have a cooling effect in the atmosphere but the precipitate will cause a potentially significant increase in CO2 sequestration through biological processes for a couple of decades anyway. the science IS complicated, and while the basic physics and the metrics all point to significant temperature increases, there is a small possibility that they will not be really damaging. So we shouldn’t put all our resources into solutions that are going to be economically devastating now. If there was 1 mile asteroid aimed at earth with a 10% chance of hitting. I WOULD say screw the economics, EVERYONE has to work on this full time.

            But saying that throwing trillions of dollars into “carbon schemes” is a waste because the problems are not worth the cost is just an assertion. It is like arguing that the defense department wastes all the trillions it gets because it does nothing productive with it. Millions of people are employed, and many of them learn valuable skills and develop information and technology that would not come about otherwise. It does not mean there is not a lot of waste and corruption and it couldn’t be done much better and without policies that employ the military in counter productive ways.

            As for value, if VT had spent $200 million preparing for this flood, we might have saved $1billion. There is an instance of a HUGE investment having an even bigger return. And I see no major conflict between ACC mitigation, and freeway safety, lifetsyle changes, addiction or criminal justice reform, which are also huge problems and are not being dealt with in an effective manner. All of those things would increase productivity and make it easier to spend money on climate change. You also ignore the potentially important side benefits, such as health by removing oil products from the atmosphere, that will likely come from mitigation.

            You are right CO2 sensitivity is logarithmic, but its effects take decades to fully be felt, and hundreds or thousands of years to disappear. And China and India know this as much as does the US and Western Europe. The problem is both US intransigence under Bush, and the political pressure on Obama and congress to do nothing, which exacerbates the positions of India and China. The west’s historic net CO2 release is a valid factor, but so are the ultimate consequences of non compliance with mitigation by India and China. And while China is the largest polluter both in the traditional sense and for CO2, they are also the biggest supplier of mitigating technology, which they WILL happily use to make a profit at our expense.
            In a political issue like this, making small trims initially as part of a process that would accelerate as the situation becomes clearer is a rational response to a potentially serious problem.
            If a viable consistent theory of natural variation or something else comes along that explains the facts better than ACC and says there will be no more temp increases, that they will go down .5° over the next 20 years, and that starts happening. I will be quite ready to jettison much of what I just wrote.

            • “Your argument against Dana seems spurious to me. YOU were the one who said that it was AGW proponents who celebrate biofuels as an alternative and then you blame starvation and riots and death on them for it.”

              You are exaggerating my claims. I intended to link them, I didn’t blame them. I obviously do not see ivory tower science as advocating 3rd world deaths directly and that is not my claim. It’s the attitude and direction more than the specifics I was *trying* to get to.

              “As I said previously I have seen no evidence that corn ethanol is anywhere near the most significant factor in this”

              It’s a significant contributing factor, not the most significant factor. I didn’t make the claim that it was the most important item in the food market because there are also many other large factors including farm regulations and subsidies, FDA, monetary policy, sanctions, etc etc that are just as culpable if not more so. But this is a climate debate and I don’t find those material to the overall discussion. Besides, you abandoned the food argument. A position I was willing to give you. It’s about the only real and rational argument that actually aligns with the level of alarmism we hear about.

              “As I pointed out it was JUST These groups that pointed out the problem to begin with. And it is BIG agribusiness and large farmers that are the ones making out on this”

              A pattern that will undoubtedly occur in every industry that gets swept up in the regulation furor… Everyone seeking to leech what they can out of the public coffers. We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.

              “Your whole first paragraph is just assertions- about government, about funding, about climate scientists.”

              So? You want me to lay out an entire proof and utilize a whole post on that point alone? I also asserted that they were self-evident, a claim you haven’t refuted. If you cannot accept the assertions as they are, please state your specific objections rather than a vague rejection of a valid time saving method of transmitting an idea – an assertion. And if it’s not too disparate we can have a discussion with some give and take. Otherwise we may really have no common basis to further this discussion on this point. If you cannot see any weakness or bias present in the current implementation of academic science then it’s pointless to try and beat it into you.

              “i would say climate science is way down on the list of areas subject to financial corruption.”

              *rolls eyes*, you can have financial corruption involved with very small sums of money. When government reps come here we can’t even buy them food – with cause sadly. You don’t get blanket immunity by being “down on the list”…

              “there is a big difference. the military does not have a peer review system”

              Lol…

              I would submit to you that the fined tooth comb they use on their contracts and the subsequent testing on their end results would put current scientific peer review to shame. They have their problems, don’t even get me started on their boneheadedness… But pleeeeease, peer review is terrible. How many bad papers are published? Even in “good” journals. Do you really want to compare that to totally failed military contracts on a percentage basis? They just typically go over budget or under deliver, not whiff completely on a regular basis. Who’s system is worse?

              “So I DO agree that there are financial incentives for climate scientists to publish work which will increase the likelihood of being budgeted next year.”

              So you acknowledge some built in bias for peer review. Perhaps there is hope for you yet.

              “But the peer review system is somewhat correcting because dozens or hundreds of other equally well trained scientists will look at your work. and see if it jibes with theirs and others that they know is good.”

              It is not nearly as self correcting as you assume. Truth is, peer review almost *never* actually goes back and checks a paper. Commonly cited papers may get included or excluded in future debates but rarely are the ideas, let alone the methods, recipients of a solid twice over or otherwise debunked unless they are exceedingly unpopular (IE a skeptical AWG paper or similar). That jiving is also a complicated social dance to keep yourself notable and respected within the community that provides the members of your future grant review board… Intelligence obviously has little correlation to how blind people can be to self bias.

              Pressure to get published introduces bias.
              Pressure to get funding introduces bias.
              Pressure to get subscribers (for journals) introduces bias.

              These are all strong pressures in today’s academic science world. Strong enough it’s apparently humorous to contemplate http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1436

              “believe me they are not defense contractors or agribusiness executives. they have all been very smart people who were well aware of the difficulties in the complex work they were doing, but MOSTLY are specialists who are trying to understand one tiny problem and do not have the time to figure out how to gimmick the result so that it will fit in with the “consensus”.”

              That’s a nice but naive view of the system. Meta-science shows decidedly poor results from the way academic science is currently run.

              http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/11/lies-damned-lies-and-medical-science/8269/

              “the REAL corrupting influence here, in my view is the viciousness and deceptive practices of deniers, who are only interested in discrediting any science they can that supports ACC. That has created a huge political polarity where scientists who are attacked have become extremely defensive. This is what you see in the climategate emails”

              Frankly, scientists (and people in general) are pretty touchy and defensive when anything disagrees or is even remotely intrusive. Regardless of the motives of the disagreeable intruders.

              From the above link: [University and government research overseers rarely step in to directly enforce research quality, and when they do, the science community goes ballistic over the outside interference.]

              So this reaction is hardly unique to climate science or the result of some grand scheme to persecute and denigrate climatists from the “deniers”. They get zero sympathy from me when they want to claim significant portions of GDP as a solution to the problem they’re researching. They need to shut up and eat the new scrutiny that is definitely merited.

              “You also completely ignore the ideological motivations of the deniers. being able to re-animate the communist bogeyman is tremendously empowering to right wing ideologues”

              *rolls eyes*

              First, communists were real, are real, and will be real, and are much more threatening than Muslims ever were, or are, and probably will be (in the near term, who knows what the future holds). They probably don’t deserve the depths of the propaganda and efforts against them. But I’m unaware of any serious movement that acknowledges them presently, I’m surprised you even bring it up. Where are you getting this? The first solution to the commies is to stop galavanting around the world attacking people and making us look like aggressors, a decidedly anti main stream republican stance at the moment.

              There are many movements trying to hijack everyone. Pro-war republicans are one of many. Just like the dems are just as pro-war as the republicans because they refuse to actually act despite having had full control of the government. Maybe they’ll actually perform a withdrawal, but I bet you we’ll get magically pulled into a trumped up conflict with Iran before they’ll manage that when they could have had us out years ago. Republicans, equally, have no interest in balanced budgets since they failed to act when THEY had full control of the government. It’s all posturing and deception on so many levels…

              Stop looking at the sell job and look at what they do, then their values become a bit more transparent.

              “this is not to deny that people like Naomi Kline and other leftist/progressives who argue for socialist policies based on the science are correct”

              Well, without food as a threat… You’re basing this on… what now?

              “Now it MAY not be true that this will happen, but it is disingenuous to pretend that it is not a very realistic belief. The issue is that these will INCREASE in frequency if ACC is correct, and the potential economic cost is certainly in the trillions of dollars over a few decades.”

              Look at what you’re presenting me… one event.

              1) You don’t know it was caused by ACC
              2) You don’t know frequency will increase
              3) You don’t know that ACC will cause frequency to increase
              4) You don’t know that anything we do to try to prevent ACC will work.

              The bet you’re trying to put on the table is to spend definite trillions now rather than possible trillions in the future. And you want to do this based on a flimsy process known for errors during a time when we’re staring at national bankruptcy. That’s a bad bet and more suicidal policies on top of what we already saddles ourselves with.

              “If sea levels rise a meter in the next century then planning for it has to begin now in some places”

              So let them start it. The better job of risk assessment they do the more costs they’ll avoid in the future. Much of it is really easy to avoid now, no reason to burden all of society for it.

              “But saying that throwing trillions of dollars into “carbon schemes” is a waste because the problems are not worth the cost is just an assertion.”

              Well if that isn’t the pot calling the kettle black… You’re the one instigating change, or at least proposing it. So lets see it. Regardless of how you replace the infrastructure it’s going to cost $lotsOfMoney. If you want to lay out a specific plan, we can talk specifics rather than living in assertion land. As a baseline, if we simply rebuilt our current capacity with replacement coal plants @ $3.667 million / MW of capacity and a semi-current capacity of 1,067,000 MWs is $3.9 trillion. This is an obviously assumed and very optimistic starting point for simply replacing the raw electric generation with the cheapest means possible. CO2-less tech costs more, much more, and I didn’t include the home heating or transportation sectors yet, and I will expect them in your proposal. In fairness, you can discount the cost of replacing aging plants at their replacement cost in their regularly scheduled replacement time frame, but you need to include the current growth rates for energy consumption – and thus – additional capacity. Once we have a baseline cost, we can start to sort through the alleged unavoidable costs were we to ignore AGW and see if we are anywhere near the switch costs.

              Just recall that if you depend on anything that’s not current or historical fact (IE a technology that is allegedly in someone’s lab but not on the market), it’s a future “guesstimate”. You can count on a * being placed there and I can and will discount it if not ignore it out right. You also cannot count on cost projection trends. You have the world as it exists.

              You will, unfortunately, always be subject to the poor scientific process that is the source of the projected costs.

              “It is like arguing that the defense department wastes all the trillions it gets because it does nothing productive with it. Millions of people are employed, and many of them learn valuable skills and develop information and technology that would not come about otherwise. It does not mean there is not a lot of waste and corruption and it couldn’t be done much better and without policies that employ the military in counter productive ways. ”

              Relative to the useful output we get out of it, economically speaking, it is a waste. Almost a total loss (not completely, but pretty close). The employed who produce nothing that goes into the actual economy are DRAINS not GAINS. Using more people or money to produce a particular economic output level is a loss, it’s only making more output for an input or using less input for an output (people and/or $$) that results in gains. The only justification is the political necessity of a war department to repel aggressors. And I would argue that we don’t need to spend anywhere near what we do to meet that purpose. We only need current levels to use it as a political cattle prod to various countries in the world. Typically, technology is absorbed into the industry rather than invented in it – with a handful of notable exceptions. And usually when important tech is invented inside that particular industry, it often gets plastered with “SECRET” or it remains a company’s trade secret and military and commercial companies do not mix very well, even companies that try to do both divorce them organizationally. This is hardly a sound argument, incidental production benefits is not the goal of the department anyway and is only a sound bite to help justify spending levels.

              “As for value, if VT had spent $200 million preparing for this flood, we might have saved $1billion. There is an instance of a HUGE investment having an even bigger return. And I see no major conflict between ACC mitigation, and freeway safety, lifetsyle changes, addiction or criminal justice reform, which are also huge problems and are not being dealt with in an effective manner. All of those things would increase productivity and make it easier to spend money on climate change. You also ignore the potentially important side benefits, such as health by removing oil products from the atmosphere, that will likely come from mitigation.”

              Only your odds not even present, you act like it’s a foregone conclusion. If the chances of it happening were 1/100 on a particular year with the information you have, perhaps they made the right decision. Sucks to be wrong, but that’s better than persistently stupid. The odds are even worse and the costs are much much higher for AGW, I don’t think we could come out ahead even if we assumed many of your threats as fact.

              “And China and India know this as much as does the US and Western Europe. The problem is both US intransigence under Bush, and the political pressure on Obama and congress to do nothing, which exacerbates the positions of India and China.”

              LOL. China’s position on the environment is abundantly clear. They. Don’t. Care. Not one itty little bit. Why will this change for AGW when they have decades of history showing that they’ve never cared even a little? US attitude is irrelevant. They don’t care, never have!

              “If a viable consistent theory of natural variation or something else comes along that explains the facts better than ACC and says there will be no more temp increases, that they will go down .5° over the next 20 years, and that starts happening. I will be quite ready to jettison much of what I just wrote.”

              Ahh, things can’t just be “wrong”, you want a replacement. But.. you see sir, things *can* just be wrong.

  3. Great essay Barry. I could not agree more, although I would have left the part out at the end about Bickmore’s Laws ;)

    Claiming “not to have a dog in this fight” is just a weak cover by Anthony to post any BS that can be used to fabricate doubt, mislead, confuse and reinforce delusions of his followers, or keep them enraged (people do not think straight when mad and he knows it). Anthony disseminates not misinformation but disinformation.

    I almost pity Anthony Watts and his ilk…almost.

  4. I forgot to mention above. Barry thanks for holding Anthony’s feet to the fire. Doing so is not only important but also highly entertaining.

    This pathetic display of voodoo science and attacks on scientists at WUWT will perhaps make for a good book one day, or may even come in handy in a court of law…

    • You beat me to it, but I was just thinking climategate and all this denial will make for one helluva movie in about 2050. Phil Jones and others the sympathetic but flawed heroes, Anthony Watts and the rest as self-deluded ideologues who convince themselves and many others that nothing should be done. Maybe some dramatic hollywood courtroom moments with Michael Mann and Cuccinelli… It will be funny in many parts, but ultimately tragic, of course…

  5. Did you ever think of actually submitting a guest post to WUWT, as Watts mentions?? That would be mightily interesting!

    • Interesting idea; it might be worth trying, once. Perhaps something along the lines of what Paul S. wanted to do (link)on Curry’s blog?
      (poll the commenters, asking what they would have predicted global temp. would be in 20 years, given the data up to ~1990)

  6. This is one of my favorite pieces of WUWT idiocy:

    “A look at temperature anomalies for all 4 global metrics: Part 1″

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/02/28/a-look-at-4-globaltemperature-anomalies/

    (For some reason, Part 2 has disappeared.)

  7. “I don’t think anything”
    Anthony Watts

    Unlike the “climategate” email quote mines, even in context the above is an accurate statement.

  8. Lets not forget Anthony’s posting of the absurd charts from Steve Goddard.
    So obviously faked that a 5th grader would understand Tamino’s debunking of them.

  9. Since we’re point out Watts-porkies, I loved the one which started “Chris Mooney has come up with new book to explain why people like you and I are “abby-normal” for not unthinkingly and uncritically accepting all aspects of climate disruption. I haven’t read it, though the cover itself speaks volumes. I won’t commit the same dumb mistake that Peter Gleick committed when he wrote his bogus non-review of Donna LaFramboise’s IPCC book, so I’ll let somebody who has reviewed it speak about it. Dr. Roger Pielke Jr.”

    In case anyone wonders why it’s so funny: Mooney’s book will come out in six months. It appears Pielke Jr is a time traveller.

    When Mooney pointed this out to Watts, rather than scold Pielke Jr, Watts wrote another post stating that Mooney did a Muller.

  10. I followed this discussion, too.
    Over past months it’s been fascinating to see how Watts has painted himself into an inescapable corner (BEST, ARCUS Sea Ice forecasts, etc.).
    Intellectual bankruptcy is a perfect description.
    Basically the only contrarians left now are the uninformed and the inconvincable.
    The question is: when will Watts crack? And if he doesn’t, when will he be abandoned? (When will people like Muller be ashamed to be mentioned in the same breath with Monckton, Watts, Bastardi et al.?)

  11. I think this post very much relates to the issue that John Stewart infamously brought up on the show crossfire several years ago:

    Stewart makes the point that political pundits routinely use dishonest arguments to make their case as a means to an end. In other words republicans or democrats truly believe that they are right on the issues but they will make ANY argument they can to try to support their view – they will not limit themselves to good arguments.

    Anthony Watts conducts his blog in the same way. Watts absolutely believes that AGW is not a problem and the proposed solutions will do more harm than good. He sees it as his mission to promote this view by any means necessary so he posts ANY argument that follows this premise regardless of whether or not it is a good argument. In his mind, even if the argument is bad it will convince more people of what he thinks is the truth and therefor it is excusable as a means to an end.

    • IMO it is because in the polarisation of USA politics, Democrats think of themselves as the Good Guys, therefore they don’t do what Good Guys wouldn’t do. The Republicans think of the Democrats as the Bad Guys, therefore anything that removes the Bad Guys from power is morally justified.

  12. Sorry, couldn’t help myself–I don’t know which site provides more comic relief–Barry Bickmore or SS. Keep it up guys, I get a ton of laughs :) !

    http://www.pas.rochester.edu/~douglass/papers/KD_InPress_final.pdf

    Wondering–Would Barry be up to a debate at BYU? Just wondering…

    • Gotta love it when the denialists try to change the subject by linking to debunked papers by the same handful of “skeptic” scientists.

    • Scott,

      Honestly, you are not knowledgeable about this subject. I wouldn’t waste my time.

      • I don’t need a Ph.D. in climatology to read a thermometer! I think that’s the REAL reason you won’t engage “skeptics” in public. Anyone can produce graphs of land based temps and ARGO data and then sumperimpose the IPCC predictions on top of them to the public who will say, “wow, they’re really off” .

        • You do need to know something to work out what that paper was saying.

          Unfortunately for your argument, knowing what that was about shows there is no case to answer.

        • Scott,

          Consider my experience with you to date. E.g., I cite Doran and Zimmerman (2009), and you go on and on about how they didn’t calculate a margin of error on their polling result, and their sample of actively publishing climatologists was only 77 people, and how you contacted Peter Doran about these devastating points, and he brushed you off. I tried to point out that with a sample as large as n=77, it was very unlikely that the margin of error was more than a few percent, but you wouldn’t listen. Finally, I went ahead and calculated the 95% confidence interval myself, and it turned out that D&Z should have said that the fraction of actively publishing climatologists who believe humans are significantly affecting the global climate is…(drumroll)… 93.8-100%. Oh yeah, that totally changes everything.

          Now you are making claims about how easy it is to just superimpose temperatures on top of IPCC predictions and see that their wrong. First, I’ve seen such things faked (Monckton), so I won’t take your word for it. Second, to say that some data is “different” than some prediction requires a statistical argument, but my previous experience does not give me confidence in your statistical prowess.

          So if I did a debate with you, what could I expect? I could expect you to go on and on about a bunch of ridiculous points that you don’t have the expertise to test yourself. And then I would be stuck trying to clean up your mess.

          I’ll pass.

          • It is easy to get comparisons between temperature changes and projections wrong (Monckton being a good example, but there are many others).

            In reality, the IPCC’s projections have been very accurate – the best I could find, in fact. All the ‘skeptic’ predictions perform absoultely terribly.

            http://www.skepticalscience.com/comparing-global-temperature-predictions.html

          • Barry, it’s probably another rechewed mouthful of vomit produced by John Christy years ago about how Hansen’s 1988 prediction was for 1997 wrong by a little less than 0.25C.

            Since annual variation of annual temperatures are about 0.3C, this indicates no disproof with such a short timescale.

            Of course, in 2011 compared to BEST, Hansen’s prediction for that year is spot on (to a tenth of a degree).

            (and I agree that spot temperatures aren’t how you would invalidated a model, you’d assess the trend the model achieved compared to the trend the record achieved, with error bars, but Christy didn’t do that, so why the heck should I?)

            • Could be. Christy’s analysis of Hansen’s prediction was horrid – no better than your average denialist blogger, and far worse than I’d expect from a climate scientist. Basically he said “Hansen predicted too much warming” and left it at that without examining why.

              The two reasons are that Hansen’s Scenario B overprojected the radiative forcing by 10%, and more importantly, his climate model had a sensitivity of 4.2°C, which yes, is probably too high. So in saying Hansen predicted too much warming, all you’re saying is that sensitivity is probably lower than 4.2°C for 2xCO2. How much lower? Based on Hansen’s model results, it’s a bit above 3°C:

              http://www.skepticalscience.com/lindzen-illusion-2-lindzen-vs-hansen-1980s.html

              Of course the ‘skeptics’ conveniently stop at “Hansen was wrong” without actually looking at why or what it actually tells us about climate sensitivity, because they’re not real skeptics. That includes Christy.

  13. Throw in some private e-mails by Trenberth and Jones (the top of the AGW food chain) wringing their hands over the lack of warming, and you know that’s going to be hard to spin, but Barry and Dana are trying hard to get the job done. Keep it up.

  14. Barry,

    After reading Scott’s devastating arguments, I had to look at the title of this post and smile .One of the things that has fascinated me in the back and forth with deniers is the complete confidence in their total understanding of every issue that they address, and an inability to ever acknowledge being wrong. this combined with their disdain of knowledge that experts who have studied the issue for many years. interestingly in talking with established climate scientists, when I bring up issues that they are NOT sure about they acknowledge them without hesitation
    I do consider myself a skeptic, in the sense that I do not believe we understand enough about every factor that impacts temps related to climate change, but until I am presented with verifiable consistent hypothesis that can seriously compete with ACC understanding as it stands now, I am not foolish or arrogant enough to dismiss what reasonable scientists tell me.

    • And do we HAVE to understand every single thing about a subject before we can use our current knowledge to effect?

      No.

      You don’t need to know the earth is round to work out how to sail your boat down the coast for a couple of hours.

      You don’t need to even know about the parabolic curve when throwing a ball to your child when you play with a ball.

      You understand enough to make use of your understanding.

      Even when it’s “wrong”.

  15. [...] of posting Monckton’s nonsense along with some pretty sycophantic comments.  See this recent post, in which I criticized Watts for his utter lack of quality control–posting Monckton’s [...]

  16. What ‘recent warming’ are we talking about there – the warming that Phil Jones said publicly hasn’t happened for over 15 years? Just curious. Because everything about your blog indicates you’re just another shill for the green agenda with no credentials, no ability to assimilate the endless gushing flow of countervailing information (e.g. just as one small example, the sublimating MARTIAN polar caps), and frankly, no genuine ability to think. A trained parrot among the millions in the green zombie horde. Absolutely pathetic.

    • Dear Michael,

      Nice to meet you, too. I beg to differ about the reasons you give for calling me a “shill for the green agenda” with “no ability to think.”

      1. Phil Jones did not say there has been no warming for 15 years. In fact, he told the BBC in early 2010 that for the previous 15 years there HAD been warming at an average rate of 0.12 °C, but the trend was not “statistically significant”.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8511670.stm#

      “BBC: Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming”

      “Phil Jones: Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.”

      Michael, do you know the difference between a warming trend of zero and a warming trend that is positive, but not “statistically significant”? If not, I would be happy to explain it to you. In the meantime, it’s sufficient to note that you have been lied to about what Phil Jones said, and you didn’t bother to check your source. Please consider trusting your usual information sources a bit less after this.

      2. Some planets in the Solar System are warming, and some are cooling. Therefore, the output of the Sun cannot be the only factor involved, right? In fact, the Sun can’t have been much of a factor in the warming or cooling of ANY of the planets for the last few decades, because we can actually MEASURE how much radiation the Sun puts out with satellites (or indirectly by counting sunspots), and the Sun’s radiation has been pretty much constant over that time. (If anything, it’s gotten a little less.) Therefore, this objection to human-caused global warming is utter nonsense that is designed to sound convincing to people who don’t know much about the subject. Once again, I would ask you to trust your usual sources of information less, when it’s obvious they have been lying to you.

  17. Use of the term ‘deniers” makes you look a horse’s rear end BTW. Everyone who isn’t in the Hive knows this by now.

    • I don’t know to whom you are replying, but I never used that term here.

    • Michael,

      I am happy to use the term “denier” but ONLY for people who are unwilling to accept the possibility that ACC is real and that climate sensitivity is tied to the forcing of CO2 on H2O and other basic and well documented aspects of current theory as it relates to future warming. as I said I consider myself a skeptic and am open to the possibility that there may very well be unknown or underrepresented factors that will limit global temp increases to levels that will not result is serious consequences. As of yet I have seen no compelling evidence of this possibility.

  18. Barry, are you seriously going to tell the world that one cherry-picked email is enough to bring down the skeptical viewpoint? How about these?

    Jones:
    I’ve been told that IPCC is above national FOI Acts. One way to cover yourself
    and all those working in AR5 would be to delete all emails at the end of the
    process

    (“FOI” is Freedom of information. “Jones” is Dr. Phil Jones, the now-disgraced and
    sacked head of the Climate Research Unit that was the main data feed to the IPCC.)

    Shukla/IGES:

    ["Future of the IPCC", 2008] It is inconceivable that policymakers will be
    willing to make billion-and trillion-dollar decisions for adaptation to the
    projected regional climate change based on models that do not even describe and
    simulate the processes that are the building blocks of climate variability.

    IGES is the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, a major Asia-Pacific policy group

    Lanzante/NOAA:
    While perhaps one could designate some subset of models as being poorer in a
    lot of areas, there probably never will be a single universally superior model
    or set of models. We should keep in mind that the climate system is complex, so
    that it is difficult, if not impossible to define a metric that captures the
    breath of physical processes relevant to even a narrow area of focus.

    NOAA is of course the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the USA.

    Mike, The Figure you sent is very deceptive [...] there have been a number of
    dishonest presentations of model results by individual authors and by IPCC [...]

    “Mike” is Michael Mann, the very individual who gave us the famous “Hockey Stick Graph”.
    This email is from Tom Wigley, director of the CRU prior to Phil Jones.

    …and what about this:

    http://joannenova.com.au/2010/01/finally-the-new-revised-and-edited-climategate-timeline/

    And this:

    http://arxiv.org/pdf/0707.1161%29

    And this:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/6738111/Climategate-reveals-the-most-influential-tree-in-the-world.html

    And a thousand more I could post if I gave enough of a damn? What about the mountain of STATISTICS Anthony Watt has gathered at his site, instead of taking issue with someone’s interpretation of one email from the many thousands of emails in both Climategate scandals, or the fact that Phil Jones had to face sacking and criminal fraud charges because of them? This is is all very disingenuous of you Barry, which surprises me not one bit. Mendacity, redirection, and red herrings have been the foundation of the AGW non-issue from its inception – and they’re all you have left at this point.

    Seriously though, I am no more deeply invested emotionally in this issue than the average person I think – I don’t know anyone who`s bought an electric car or hybrid for example, nor do I know anyone who kno- so we can just let it drop if that suits you. I think most people like talking about these things because it gives their jaw muscles exercise.

    I frankly wish everyone was absolutely enraged to the point of hauling the David Suzukis and Albert Gores out of their mansions and lynching them, and I hate it when the issue (or non-issue) is conflated by certain kinds of people with other issues like gun control or abortion or gay marriage – as if any thinking person would buy into an entire package of beliefs just because their favorite political party sells them that way – but actually things seem to be falling out just fine. Nobody, not even President Obama, is talking seriously about dismantling the fossil fuel industry, nobody, as I say, is buying those electric vehicles, and the bulk of what is being done to `mitigate`climate change proves to be not much more than just the occasional filler sidebar story for Daily Planet – all of which suits me just fine. :)

    • Dear Michael,

      Of course one cherry-picked e-mail isn’t “enough to bring down the skeptical viewpoint.” In fact, I provided a link to an examination of several such cherry-picked e-mails, but even THAT isn’t “enough to bring down the skeptical viewpoint.” These things merely show that the people who go around quoting them to discredit the scientists involved are also the sort who try to stir up mobs to become “absolutely enraged to the point of hauling the David Suzukis and Albert Gores out of their mansions and lynching them” on the basis of trumped-up pseudo-evidence.

      Let me illustrate.

      You quote an e-mail from J. Shukla saying that governments aren’t going to pay big bucks to adapt to “projected regional climate change based on models that do not even describe and simulate the processes that are the building blocks of climate variability.”

      Even in the part you quoted, it is clear that Shukla was talking about how good climate models are at simulating processes that are important at a REGIONAL scale. In the full e-mail, it’s even clearer. In one of the first paragraphs, Shukla said, “While it is true that a vast majority of the public and the policymakers have accepted the reality of human influence on climate change (in fact many of us were arguing for stronger language with a higher level of confidence at the last meetings of the LAs), how confident are we about the projected regional climate changes?”

      http://foia2011.org/index.php?id=6160

      His point was that while current climate models are good for a broad-brush picture of global change, they don’t have good enough spatial resolution to provide very good projections for stuff that happens on small scales.

      So, is this some stunning revelation, unearthed by the bold crusaders who stole the e-mails? Well actually, this issue is explicitly discussed in the IPCC report, in the chapter on “Regional Climate Projections”.

      http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch11.html

      “Atmosphere-Ocean General Circulation Models (AOGCMs) remain the foundation for projections while downscaling techniques now provide valuable additional detail. Atmosphere-Ocean General Circulation Models cannot provide information at scales finer than their computational grid (typically of the order of 200 km) and processes at the unresolved scales are important.”

      “AOGCM projections provide plausible future regional climate scenarios, although methods to establish the reliability of the regional AOGCM scales have yet to mature. ”

      Boy, it’s a good thing we have those e-mails so we can see how the scientists discussed, well… the exact same issues that ended up being discussed in the IPCC report.

      The truth is that even if most people were to read the entire e-mail from Shukla, they wouldn’t really know what he was talking about. All they would see is some criticism of climate models, but they wouldn’t understand the nature of the criticism. In other words, only those who don’t know anything about climate models and haven’t read the IPCC reports would be impressed by this quote.

      On the other hand, some of the snippets you quote from the e-mails are fine with me, e.g., all the official inquiries into the pseudo-scandal found that Phil Jones DID try to dodge FOI requests. Of course, the e-mails also make clear that Jones thought the FOI requests were specifically meant to harass the CRU, and that they didn’t have the manpower to deal with them, anyway. Is it “disingenuous” of you not to mention those mitigating circumstances?

      You say it’s “disingenuous” of me not to mention “the fact that Phil Jones had to face sacking and criminal fraud charges because of” the e-mails. But the fact is that Jones was never “sacked,” and he never faced any criminal charges. Is it “disingenuous” of YOU not to have mentioned that?

  19. @Tony Duncan – then we’re more or lesson the same page, at least the last part of your post. As I said to Barry in private correspondence – not sure how I rated that response:

    “BTW I don’t think much of the precautionary principle, which seems to be the one remaining argument in favor of climate alarmism – and was indeed used by some of the fans who responded in the post I commented. Or at least, I don’t think much of it when the application of the principle will cost trillions of dollars and the radical alteration of everyone’s lifestyles (except, apparently, the lifestyles of the mega-wealthy elitists who have stage-managed the whole mess and who positioned themselves to benefit from it from the beginning), in order to *possibly* mitigate effects that might well range from innocuous to nonexistent.”

    Now, I know that the fact that AGW alarmism being stage-managed and profited from by mega-wealthy globalists doesn’t falsify the theory. I just like looking at the bigger picture is all – when science becomes a social and political phenomenon, I believe it is absolutely imperative that we examine the matter in light of those aspects as well as the *putative* scientific data.

  20. What a shame that Barry deleted my post containing a wealth of countervailing data and news bites. That tells me that, for reasons I am sure he isn’t about to divulge, he is not interested in the skeptical viewpoint being presented AT ALL, and signals the end of my participation here or – Barry, I know you’re reading – any further correspondence between us. I’m sure I’ll be missed,

    Reminds me of when a similar post of mine got “boreholed” at another alarmist blog I’m sure you all know about. ;)

  21. Ah, thanks Barry! You’re a good man, and I hate to see you or anyone wasting your energies on the groundless doom prognostications of compromised scientists in the pay of globalists. Take care –
    Michael.

  22. barry,

    one thing that really saddens me about discussions (as he says he is not going respond anymore) with people like Michael, is I get the strong impression, that what he is most interested is winning an argument and feeling vindicated, rather than adjusting his views based on actual information, and analyzing whether his assertions are reflective of reality or not. As evidenced by not acknowledging any of the corrections that made made of the instances he brought up. I do not have a problem discussing the real issues that are valid concerns, such as uncertainty, the negative financial consequences of initiating mitigating policy, and exaggeration or misrepresentation by “climate alarmists”, but I have over and over again have had interactions with “deniers” who were unable to accept any evidence of ACC or even consider the possibility that the consequences will very possibly be extremely serious.

  23. [...] temperature evolution the IPCC had projected, but claimed he was right to do so, and Anthony Watts still kept publishing Monckton’s nonsense on his popular blog.  John Abraham destroyed one of Monckton’s [...]

  24. [...] me back to the original question.  That is, what will Monckton have to do before the likes of Anthony Watts and Dick Lindzen no longer take him seriously? Like this:LikeBe the first to like [...]

  25. […] Monckton, 3rd Viscount of Brenchley, is all but worshipped by many of the regulars there.  No matter how absurd Monckton’s intellectual flagellations, Anthony Watts will post them, and hordes of credulous […]

  26. […] always, I’m waiting to see how long it takes for Moncktonites like Anthony Watts and Dick Lindzen to start trying to distance themselves from […]


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