Posted by: Barry Bickmore | March 15, 2011

My Game Plan

I recently wrote another op-ed for ABC News (Australia), in which I pointed out that an Australian Senator, Nick Minchin, had indicated that he rejects a new government report on climate change because of some information he read from a blog by a climate scientist who is almost certainly Roy Spencer.  If you read the op-ed and compare it with what I’ve written about Orrin Hatch and certain members of the Utah Legislature, it will be clear that I have developed a certain strategy.  Here it is.

  1. Debunk the main claims of prominent climate contrarians (e.g., Monckton and Spencer).
  2. Watch for politicians who justify their contrarian stances by citing said debunked nonsense.
  3. Publicly point out that these politicians claim they are following the dictates of Reason and True Science, but in fact they are just swallowing easily debunked nonsense because that’s what they want to hear.
  4. I then throw in a plea to follow the scientific consensus if you’re not willing to do the work to become an expert yourself.

Does this strategy work?  It has convinced some people, but frankly, I’m not sure if this is the best strategy, or not.  So what do you think, readers?  Does my strategy seem like a good one, or should I be doing something else?





  1. The strategy sounds pretty good to me.

    This is what you (and the rest of us) are up against.

    “It is very difficult to get a man to understand something when his tribal identity depends on his not understanding it.”
    Michael Bérubé, a literature professor at Pennsylvania State University

  2. Barry, I thought your article on the ABC website was very good and hit the right note. And I liked that you responded to some of the comments without trying to answer every silly denier post.

    I don’t know if it is the best strategy, but I do think it is necessary. Our scientists in Australia used to write the occasional piece but they seem to have pretty well stopped, except for the statements from the Bureau of Meteorology and occasional television and radio appearances by a couple of our leading climate scientists. So that leaves it up to people like Prof Lewandowski and Clive Hamilton and a few others who are not climate scientists.

    Even though we should have accepted the science by now and moved on to policy discussions, there is still a need for articles validating what is happening from the scientific perspective. (The Australian Government is starting to develop a policy, though it doesn’t go far enough and is counteracted by other actions like deep sea drilling in the pristine Great Australian Bight.)

    So I’d say keep it up when you can – and thank you.

  3. Great piece Barry. Good to see you making a contribution here Down Under. I passed your details to the ABC Radio National programme Counterpoint, which is a right of centre show that has promoted climate denialism. I’ve suggested that you as a conservative yourself would be a great interviewee because you bring some desperately needed common sense to an increasingly partisan debate. Keep up the good work mate.

  4. The interesting question is whether Mr Minchin does this research himself (pretty quick to pick up Christy’s testimony from a day or so before) or (more likely) following Spencer’s blog …
    or whether he gets this from someone else, in which case who?

    It seems a fair question to ask on whom he relies?
    if he did it from Christy’s testimony (not peer-reviewed), with a day or two, it is interesting that he assessed Christy as more credible than {Field, Somerville, Zwiers}, of whom I know one, have at least met a second, and general, woudl think are far more credible than Christy.

  5. > or whether he gets this from someone else, in which case who?

    My guess is, he won’t say. Protecting his sources…

  6. Good luck with that strategy. I did see the ABC reporting on Minchin’s daft statement, including the support from an anonymous scientist, but haven’t seen anything since. Still, keep on fighting the good fight 🙂

  7. It’s just whack-a-mole. You’ve got a strategy which gets the message straight in a way you find easy to handle. Just play your game the best you can.

    You can’t personally defuse every daft missile or missive put out by these people. You do your thing – and you’ll get better at it. Others may have a different approach – and they’ll get better at that.

    If you’ve got a plan ready to go at any time, some of these clowns will become more aware of that. Being in the marketing game, rather than the science, some of them will rethink how to present their message when they =know= that certain people will respond in a certain way. They may then modify or tone down their statements in readiness. That’s a win all on its own.

  8. I’m not sure what you are doing is a ‘strategy’ as such. Like any of us who are fighting denial you are on the defensive, reacting to events rather than undertaking a plan of action.

    I feel that climate denial partly stems from a basic human loathing of change, whether it is climatic or lifestyle. This has been exploited by conservative politics (conservative = fear of change) and by corporations who will lose out if restrictions and taxations limit their ability to make money.

    I think that your writing is excellent. You could also consider investigating the causes of denial too, and how silly a fear of change looks in the light of the benefits of greenhouse gas reduction.

    • Well, why don’t you give up your house, live in a tent, and gather your food from wild edible plants. What? Don’t want to do that? You must fear change! How could you possibly not what I clearly see as your best possible state??!?

      More seriously, you want to impose economic hardship during a depression by means of some scientific enlightenment when people are trusting science less and less.

      You have a trust problem, not a science problem. Explaining the science again and again isn’t helping your cause.

      • Brandon,

        Thank you for acknowledging that people generally don’t reject action on climate change because of any problem with the science.

  9. Sigh, putting words in my mouth again I see. That’s a bad habit of yours and I’m again reminded why I shouldn’t come here…

    I’m merely pointing out your real issue. This says nothing about if the science you claim is factual, only that your problem isn’t related to those details. Capiche?

    • Hi Brandon,

      I understood, but I was just having a little fun with you. 😉

      • Ahh, well I deserve that from time to time.

  10. Hi Barry Bickmore,
    I have only just discovered you. Good on you for your efforts 🙂
    Political opponents should be battling on how best to deal with the climate threat, not on the science.
    The science is strong enough to make inaction as bad as criminal negligence.

    As for strategy – constant vigilance and vigor against denial is the key.

    For too long experts have been reluctant to get down and dirty defending the science.
    Some did not like not dignifying obvious rubbish with a response. But replying is essential.

    In the meantime denialists run rampant – on chat TV, radio, blogs, internet forum comments, pithy internet spam messages, national tours, country regional tours to indoctrinate farmers, weekend propaganda stands in elite suburbs, meeting political, industry and religious figures.

    Real climate scientists and those promoting science must be active communicators.
    We must not only catch up – but lead.

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