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.

The New Cold War

Anyone who deludes themselves that it hasn’t restarted, and it isn’t ideological, needs to read this:

Mr. Prokhanov, who speaks in rich, metaphorical Russian and has the slightly disheveled look of a beat poet, contrasted the present government with that of Boris Yeltsin, the president in the 1990s. “In Yeltsin’s time I was seen as a monster by the regime, a character out of hell,” he said. “I was under threat of arrest, and now I am regularly invited to Kremlin events.”

Though he said he had met the president only a handful of times, “The intelligence officers around him pay much more attention to ideology, and for them it is clear that ideological war is an important instrument.”

If Mr. Putin himself decided to make an ideological change, Mr. Prokhanov said, it was in December 2011, when tens of thousands of urban liberals, angry over ballot-stuffing and falsification in parliamentary elections, massed on a city square, Bolotnaya, chanting, “Putin is a thief!” and “Russia Without Putin.”

“During the time of Bolotnaya, he experienced fear,” Mr. Prokhanov said. “He felt that the whole class which he had created had betrayed him, cheated him, and he had a desire to replace one class with another. From the moment you got back from that march, we started a change of the Russian elite.”

Another person who has been swept into the mainstream is one of Mr. Prokhanov’s former protégés, Aleksandr G. Dugin, who, in the late 1990s, called for “the blinding dawn of a new Russian Revolution, fascism — borderless as our lands, and red as our blood.”

Virulently anti-American, Mr. Dugin has urged a “conservative revolution” that combines left-wing economics and right-wing cultural traditionalism. In a 1997 book, he introduced the idea of building a Eurasian empire “constructed on the fundamental principle of the common enemy,” which he identified as Atlanticism, liberal values, and geopolitical control by the United States.

“Left-wing economics and right-wing cultural traditionalism.” Gee, where have we heard of things like that before?

And note that classical liberalism aka libertarianism and individualism, which the modern left calls “right wing,” bears no resemblance to any of this.

[Update a couple minutes later]

“Putin is no Hitler, but Hitler would recognize his moves“:

Adolf wanted to tear up the Treaty of Versailles. Putin is attempting to rip up the post-Cold War settlement in Europe and Central Asia. Like Hitler’s Germany, Putin’s Russia is much weaker than its opponents, so it can’t achieve its goal through a direct military challenge against its primary enemies. Like Hitler’s Germany, Putin’s Russia must be clever until it grows strong, and it must play on its enemies’ hesitations, divisions and weaknesses until and unless it is ready to take them on head to head.

“Keep them guessing” is rule number one. Nobody was better than Hitler at playing with his enemies’ minds. For every warlike speech, there was an invitation to a peace conference. For every uncompromising demand, there was a promise of lasting tranquillity once that last little troublesome problem had been negotiated safely away. He was so successful at it (and Stalin, too was good at this game) in part because his opponents so desperately wanted peace. French politicians like Leon Blum and British leaders like Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain were as hungry for peace (it was the Depression after all, and both countries had suffered immensely in World War One) as Barack Obama and Francois Hollande are today. Commendably and properly, they wanted to fix their domestic economies, create a more just society at home, repair their infrastructure and cut their defense budgets. They were not in the mood for trouble overseas, and so a cold blooded con man found them to be easy marks.

I think if you look up “easy marks” in the dictionary, you’ll see pictures of Obama and Kerry.

The Trial Of The Century?

Yet another piece on the Mann suit, in support of freedom of expression. This part is incorrect, though:

So Mann’s lawsuit now proceeds and unless a settlement is reached, pre-trial discovery will make public both the critics’ motivations and the details of Mann’s research.

No, the trial will not move forward unless and until the appellate court rules against us.

[Update a few minutes later]

A useful science/policy scale.

Nancy Pelosi

I hope she remains this delusional right through the first Tuesday of November.

“I think the Republicans are wasting their time using that as their electoral issue, and they will find that out,” she said.

Pressed by a reporter whether Democrats should shy away from the issue on the campaign trail, Pelosi didn’t hesitate.

“No, absolutely not,” she said.

Pelosi has long argued that the healthcare law will become increasingly popular as more people recognize the benefits.

She’ll probably argue it to her grave, hopefully at least her political one.

The NASA Budget

It’s killed off the only hope of the agency getting beyond low earth orbit, at least for now.

Arguably, there is no greater enabling technology to be achieved with less overall investment than cryogenic propellant storage and transfer. While we currently have the ability to conduct long term deep space missions using storable hypergolic propellants, their relatively low performance is a critical limiting factor in both robotic and crewed space missions. Developing and demonstrating the ability store high performance cryogenic propellants in space for long periods of time without significant boil-off is nothing less than a necessity for long term exploration. Taken together with the closely related challenge of transferring cryogenic propellants from one container to another in zero-g, as well as accurately measuring the amount of fluid in a storage vessel, the net result is leveraging effect with stunning capacity. In fact, as the Augustine commission determined,

“In the absence of in-space refueling, the U.S. human spaceflight program will require a heavy-lift launcher of significantly greater than 25 mt capability to launch the EDS and its fuel. However the picture changes significantly if in-space refueling is used.” Furthermore “Studies commissioned by the Committee found that in-space refueling could increase by at least two to three times the injection capability from low-Earth orbit of a launcher system, and in some cases more. Thus, an in-space refueling capability would make larger super-heavy lift vehicles even more capable, and would enable smaller ones to inject from low-Earth orbit a mass comparable to what larger launchers can do without in space refueling.”

For a nation and an agency serious about exploring space, it is difficult to think of a single justifiable reason why proceeding with an orbital demonstration of this enabling technology should not be a priority. It is very easy to come up with an unjustifiable reason however. It represents a viable alternative to SLS.


Michael Mann’s Two Teams

In his mind, it’s the Scientists versus the Deniers. There is no middle ground. And remember, the Department Chairman at the Georgia Institute of Technology is apparently one of the latter.

[Update a few minutes later]

Read this critique of Mann, from one of the Scientists. Though this post will probably get him cast into the pit with the Deniers.

Also, Mark’s latest court filing.

The New Federal Dietary Guidelines

…are being written by vegetarian junk scientists:

“After 30 years of waiting, the fact that this committee is addressing sustainability issues brings me a lot of pleasure,” she began. Clancy went on to advocate that Americans should become vegetarians in order to achieve sustainability in the face of “climate change.”

“What pattern of eating best contributes to food security and the sustainability of land air and water?” Clancy asked. “The simple answer is a plant-based diet.”

“Now, this is not new, this idea of how important plant-based diets are has been around for, gosh, 30-40 years,” she said. “Before that for people who long ago were eating vegetarian.”

Clancy said plant-based diets lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and have a “smaller ecological impact” on “drought, climate change, soil erosion, pesticides and antibiotics in water supplies.”

There is zero scientific evidence of cardiovascular disease being caused by eating animals, per se (though corn-fed beef and chicken might be problematic due to omega 6).

Neil Degrasse Tyson’s Historical Knowledge

No, not about Bruno, but about the history of exploration:

There is no nice, clean line between private “buck making” and high-minded government exploration just for the sake of it. From the Wright Brothers making the key advances in aviation to IBM funded Nobel Prize winning basic research, innumerable breakthroughs in science and technology have been led by private non-governmental ventures.

Yes. It’s the post-war government funding that’s been an anomaly, historically. Fortunately, when it comes to spaceflight, that era is ending.