Positioning Skeptics

Via Judith Curry, here’s a long but very interesting blog post on the obfuscation and misleading characterizations of the CAGW types:

It has been amusing to watch the apparent surprise of many climate scientists at their discovery that many “climate sceptics” are actually lukewarmers. Taking a rough and ready definition, that lukewarmers believe in AGW but doubt catastrophic AGW, one could reasonably place many of the more famous sceptics (Liljegren, McIntyre implicitly, Montford, Watts explicitly) in that camp, together with a number of “maverick” climate scientists (Curry, Lewis, Lindzen). Indeed it has long seemed to me that the unspoken position of Klimazwiebel itself has sympathy for lukewarmerdom.

What does not follow from this, however, is Ed’s suggestion that “the debate can crucially move on to what action is needed to deal with a warming planet”. Or to be more precise that is, as it always has been, a reasonable question, but a perfectly reasonable answer at the moment would be “little or nothing”. Many lukewarmers are also “policy sceptics”, and their view that current policy responses are hopelessly ineffective, with costs far exceeding any conceivable benefits, remains unchanged.

And straying briefly into more dangerous territory, lukewarmers can and do remain highly critical of the IPCC, the hockey stick, the climategate fiasco, the Lewandowsky nonsense, and the bizarre idea that sceptics are a bunch of “fossil fuel funded deniers”. True peace in our time requires mainstream climate science to acknowledge a few uncomfortable truths.

…As is discussed here often, the most powerful misconception of the climate debate is that is divides on the proposition ‘climate change is happening’. This is presented as a scientific claim, though when one tries to understand what it means, and what its consequences are, unpacking it reveals that it means precisely nothing, and the consequences might mean anything between a trivial change in the weather, through to the collapse of civilisation and the end of all life on Earth. This ambiguity turns nuanced arguments and analyses into cartoons, and would seem to put Lewis and Crok opposite the GWPF, who have published broad criticism of climate policy and also of some particular scientific questions. Worse, this tendency allows politics or ‘ideology’ to be presented as ‘science’, and so to preclude debate. All Ed Davey has to do, for instance, to wave away criticism of his energy policy is claim that it is the expression of denial of climate science. Grundmann’s thinking is no more sophisticated.

[Emphasis added]

As Benny Peiser says, the lukewarmer skeptics are trying to promote an open debate. The warm mongers are trying to shut it down. Mann’s legal action against me and Mark is part of that effort.

15 thoughts on “Positioning Skeptics”

  1. And there’s the gap between GW and AGW too.

    Only history deniers think there was no Little Ice Age, and only the non-historians can think of it as ‘localized’.

    So there -should-be- some warming. Duh. (Slight, on average, plausibly currently masked in periodic cycles).

  2. If any evidence is needed that lukewarmers are completely unwelcome to what Mann and company call “the debate”, exhibit A would be the 2002 _Scientific American_ “debate” with Bjorn Lomborg. When Lomborg attempted to respond to the gang’s attack on his character, ability, politics, and everything EXCEPT his analysis, the “respected” “Scientific” reaction was to demand his response be taken down because his quotes of the attacker’s claims constituted “copyright infringement”.

    What I primarily deny is that the US constitution provides free speech for alarmists, but empowers all levels of authority to impose censorship over lukewarmers.

  3. Yeah. I never, like most people, said that human activity generates no influence on climate. Just that it is so irrelevant compared to other factors that you might as well ignore it.

  4. Tell me this isn’t a first-order approximation way to evaluate science: The quality of the science is in inverse relation to the agitation people exhibit when the science is questioned. If the “science were settled”, one wouldn’t have to go on about the cranks, flakes, and wingnuts not accepting it, would we?

  5. Speaking only for myself, I’ve never denied that human impacts on climate-and-or-weather might be measurable (my synonym for “significant”). What I am lukewarm about is the proposition that de-foresting, soot, agricultural dust, over-fishing, pumping water from fossil aquifers, and a dozen other activities of an industrial society are, in combination, negligible while the CO2 emissions “knob” _must_ be the culprit; and that knob must be dialed down under the control of a transnational council of experts; who will be better able to set the climate-o-stat than humans acting under a “business as usual” cost/benefit model.

    Has anybody ever conducted a poll to see if 97% of scientists agree with the proposition that a government is better able to control climate than “business as usual”? (“BAU” being Hanson’s expression of free-market aggregated emergent systems behaviors.)

  6. “Tell me this isn’t a first-order approximation way to evaluate science: The quality of the science is in inverse relation to the agitation people exhibit when the science is questioned. ”


    No, it’s not a first-order approximation way to evaluate science.

    1. OK, so you categorically dismiss “first-order approximations” regarding stuff that “comes in over the transom.”

      So when someone sends you a manuscript of some boon-to-mankind new energy source based on “quantum mechanical linkage of the Dark Matter continuum” that the “mainstream scientists” have dismissed because the author is like “Galileo”, you study it carefully instead of putting it in the circular file?

      There are these boon-to-mankind folks on the “global warming skeptic” side, but I think it is pretty easy to pick them out. Are there such people on the “global warming is obvious” side? Dunno, when a scientist feels the need to sue a “wingnut” blogger or two who are flapping their arms with over-the-top hyperbole, doesn’t this suggest something?

    2. “OK, so you categorically dismiss “first-order approximations” regarding stuff that “comes in over the transom.””

      Not at all.

      I simply said that your concept of what a “….first-order approximation way to evaluate science” is, is ridiculous.

  7. Judith has a a new post about the insanity of cutting down US forests in the South to make wood pellets to ship to England so the UK’s former coal plants can reap huge green subsidies paid for by British taxpayers. Wouldn’t it make more sense and cause less ecological harm if the UK would switch to burning locally grown environmentalists?

    In other news, NASA Goddard has determined that the elites are consuming too much and unless we drastically curb our population, especially the rich greedy people, and institute progressive income redistribution, civilization will collapse within 20 years. I assume they mean to start with the Jews and then work on innovative, high-tech ways to liquidate useless eaters.

    NASA Goddard story

    1. OMG George, I assumed you were joking! WTF is NASA doing spending their limited funds on this? This appears to be completely outside their mandate. I would call it nonsense but I didn’t waste enough time on it to make a judgement.

    2. I bet the guys at GSFC cringe every time someone credits them with flaky stuff coming out of GISS. One is a serious scientific institute based in Robert Goddard’s old stomping grounds in Maryland, and runs nearly all of NASA’s near-Earth satellite programs. The other resides above the Seinfeld Cafe. Need we say more?

      PS: Doesn’t this story ever get old? If we are facing civilizational collapse, and frankly, I’m not particularly sanguine, it is because of the triumph of the bedwetters who are always worrying about the wrong thing, and making their dire prognostications self-fulfilling reality.

    3. I wish I was joking! Here is the Daily Mail’s take on the NASA study.

      Industrial civilization ‘may be heading toward collapse’ within decades because of its strain on the planet’s resources, NASA report finds

      Collapse of civilization may be linked to increased strain on planet’s resources and wide gap between the rich and the poor

      Study says rich ‘Elites’ may be responsible for both problems

      In both doomsday scenarios predicted by study, poor ‘Commoners’ collapse first, later followed by the Elites

      To avoid collapse inequality must be reduced and population growth must be strictly controlled, it says

      Apparently NASA has been hiring Occupy Wall Street types who are somewhere between Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot on the political spectrum. If I was in Congress, I’d be grilling top NASA officials on why they’re spending billions on a rocket to nowhere when the money could better be distributed to the poor to stave off the imminent collapse of industrial civilization, and whether NASA could develop new, high-tech ways to perform mass sterilizations, eliminate greedy Jews, and liquidate “useless eaters.”

      At least the commenters at the Daily Mail are denouncing this nonsense. The comments at the first story I linked were thick with mindless tools who were in agreement and urging people to take action. It’s frightening to see how easily American leftists will stump for mass sterilization, communism, and genocide.

      1. Wow is right.

        Some at NASA get to see the Earth from orbit and gaze in wonderment upon the vast emptiness of some regions, and the abundant life in others, pondering on how to protect our blue jewel from an asteroid strike. Others at NASA apparently look at the same imagery and see swarms of oppressed masses on the brink of capitalism-induced starvation because the richest 1% are eating 90% of the food (while somehow staying as thin as runway models), and are probably wondering if they could correct the situation by smacking the Earth with a mass-extinction-class space rock.

        Your tax dollars at work, ladies and gentlemen, and a good reason for a new round of deep budget cuts, because people who advocate drastic population controls and reductions shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near vehicles that are classified as munitions under ITAR. Kim Jung Un could easily cite this NASA report as justification for the mass executions in his death camps, arguing that the narrow 20-year window to turn things around calls for immediate population reductions, not just a tapering off of the current growth rate.

        You’d think NASA would disown this report, but unfortunately the President’s science advisor would just note that he long ago called for a secret government mass-sterilization program to reduce the American population to more sustainable levels.

    4. On this, I’ve decided to agree with Goddard. Whenever a climate change believer boards a private jet, they should have a million dollars confiscated and redistributed. The lecturing bastards should pay for their knowing and willing pollution of our world.

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