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What if you held a conference, and no (real) scientists came?

Filed under: — group @ 30 January 2008

Over the past days, many of us have received invitations to a conference called “The 2008 International Conference on Climate Change” in New York. At first sight this may look like a scientific conference – especially to those who are not familiar with the activities of the Heartland Institute, a front group for the fossil fuel industry that is sponsoring the conference. You may remember them. They were the promoters of the Avery and Singer “Unstoppable” tour and purveyors of disinformation about numerous topics such as the demise of Kilimanjaro’s ice cap.

A number of things reveal that this is no ordinary scientific meeting:

  • Normal scientific conferences have the goal of discussing ideas and data in order to advance scientific understanding. Not this one. The organisers are suprisingly open about this in their invitation letter to prospective speakers, which states:

    “The purpose of the conference is to generate international media attention to the fact that many scientists believe forecasts of rapid warming and catastrophic events are not supported by sound science, and that expensive campaigns to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are not necessary or cost-effective.”

    So this conference is not aimed at understanding, it is a PR event aimed at generating media reports. (The “official” conference goals presented to the general public on their website sound rather different, though – evidently these are already part of the PR campaign.)

  • At the regular scientific conferences we attend in our field, like the AGU conferences or many smaller ones, we do not get any honorarium for speaking – if we are lucky, we get some travel expenses paid or the conference fee waived, but often not even this. We attend such conferences not for personal financial gains but because we like to discuss science with other scientists. The Heartland Institute must have realized that this is not what drives the kind of people they are trying to attract as speakers: they are offering $1,000 to those willing to give a talk. This reminds us of the American Enterprise Institute last year offering a honorarium of $10,000 for articles by scientists disputing anthropogenic climate change. So this appear to be the current market prices for calling global warming into question: $1000 for a lecture and $10,000 for a written paper.
  • At regular scientific conferences, an independent scientific committee selects the talks. Here, the financial sponsors get to select their favorite speakers. The Heartland website is seeking sponsors and in return for the cash promises “input into the program regarding speakers and panel topics”. Easier than predicting future climate is therefore to predict who some of those speakers will be. We will be surprised if they do not include the many of the usual suspects e.g. Fred Singer, Pat Michaels, Richard Lindzen, Roy Spencer, and other such luminaries. (For those interested in scientists’ links to industry sponsors, use the search function on sites like sourcewatch.org or exxonsecrets.org.)
  • Heartland promises a free weekend at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan, including travel costs, to all elected officials wanting to attend.

This is very nice hotel indeed. Our recommendation to those elected officials tempted by the offer: enjoy a great weekend in Manhattan at Heartland’s expense and don’t waste your time on tobacco-science lectures – you are highly unlikely to hear any real science there.


452 Responses to “What if you held a conference, and no (real) scientists came?”

  1. 351
    John Mashey says:

    re: #347
    Actually, it’s an honor to be attacked by a WSJ OpEd.

  2. 352
    Robert Bauserman says:

    I am a bit confused about the difference in how the two proxies correlate with storm frequency. You write:

    …the coral proxies show a positive correlation to wind shear over the MDR, but a negative correlation north of it. …The sediment proxy shows a positive correlation to wind shear over the MDR and no correlation north of it.

    So how do we get from this to the statement that the two proxies are corrleated to wind shear in opposite directions? If both of them are positively correlated to wind shear over the MDR, and outside of the MDR one is negatively correlated and the other uncorrelated, I fail to see the difference in the direction of the relationship. Help me out here! (And yes, I have studied statistics). What am I missing?

    [Response: This comment was posted to the wrong thread--it has been relocated (w/ a response) in the comment thread for this post]

  3. 353
    Rod B says:

    A near insignificant nit, Lawerence. While I’m not in the position of defending Heartland, they said there was no proof of a consensus, not AGW. Though it was worded a bit oddly.

  4. 354
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod,
    The claim of “disproving” the consensus is even more demonstrably false that any claim they make about anthropogenic climate change. By any measure–number of experts, number of publications, number of citations–the consensus that humans are causing the current warming epoch is overwhelming.

  5. 355
    Steve Bloom says:

    Gavin wrote in #25: “Actually, I don’t think it will make any mainstream news. They have moved on from this kind of rubbish. Expect lots of blog activity demanding ‘debate’ though… ”

    The science press certainly has moved on, but I think the “scholarships” (including a free weekend stay in a luxury Manhattan hotel) being offered to elected officials may be an attempt to get the conference covered by the mainstream press. We’ll see how many they get and how the coverage goes.

  6. 356
    Pekka Kostamo says:

    “(including a free weekend stay in a luxury Manhattan hotel) being offered to elected officials…” That is what their prospectus said, in fact.

    I believe this qualifies as criminal bribery in most European countries. Attempt is similarly punishable.

    Over the last several years many people have been fired over smaller gifts.

  7. 357
    Lawrence Brown says:

    I don’t know, Don.I’m well aware that the purpose of the meeting is not to dispute global warming, but to make the media aware that many scientists don’t support the anthropogenic part,ergo CO2 and other GHG reductions aren’t necessary.

    If Heartland thinks that there is no proof of a consensus, they ought to check out this essay in “Science” magazine from several years ago.
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/306/5702/1686
    A consensus has existed for a number of years.As the author states toward the end of her article:
    “Many details about climate interactions are not well understood, and there are ample grounds for continued research to provide a better basis for understanding climate dynamics. The question of what to do about climate change is also still open. But there is a scientific consensus on the reality of anthropogenic climate change. Climate scientists have repeatedly tried to make this clear. It is time for the rest of us to listen.

  8. 358
    Hank Roberts says:

    “(including a free weekend stay in a luxury Manhattan hotel) being offered to elected officials…” — Heartland

    ————–
    Today’s topic is a vital alert that I hope will percolate through channels to every officeholder and/or sincere civil servant, during an era of political transition.

    Indeed, it may also be pertinent to some members of the Republican establishment. For we are about to discuss a danger and an opportunity that cross party lines. We’ll be dealing with traits like honor and pragmatism, cynicism and patriotism, cynical self-protection… and courage.

    While negotiating the ethical and political minefield that is Washington, always remain wary of a particular worst-case scenario… one that can systematically undermine even the most well-meaning politicians.

    That worst-case scenario is BLACKMAIL….

    http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2007/01/timely-warning-to-all-new-democratic.html

    ——————-

    The first one is free, little politician …..

  9. 359
    Rod B says:

    Ray (354) did you just say that disproving AGW is easier than disproving consensus?? Or, it is hard to disprove a consensus but easier to prove the consensus wrong???

  10. 360
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod, I said that it is easier to demostrate that a claim of “no consensus” is false than to demonstrate the falsity of a claim that the climate isn’t changing. The former involves only counting–# of experts, # of articles, # of citations… Choose your metric. The contrarians lose.

  11. 361
    Rod B says:

    Ray, you make a valid point. But then it all depends on how the subjective “consensus” is defined.

  12. 362

    Ray, you make a valid point. But then it all depends on how the subjective “consensus” is defined.

    Rod, no, not strongly. Not if you stick to actual professionals and peer reviewed work, rather than Google search results or such. I’ll leave you to do your own research on this, as you don’t seem to like me rubbing it in :-)

  13. 363
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod, there is nothing subjective about any of the metrics I have suggested–all that is required is a count. The only subjectivity is what percentage do you require before you define the agreement as consensus. If 90%, we’re there. If 99%, we’re there. We might have trouble at the 99.5% level, but then so would relativity, quantum mechanics and evolution–possibly even the Copernican Solar System.. Consensus does not mean universal agreement. It is the threshold for scientific truth precisely because some people in any field are contrarians, and will disagree just to disagree (e.g. Lindzen).

  14. 364
    David B. Benson says:

    The same almost-full-page ad by The Heartland Institute in TNYT again today…

  15. 365
    Rod B says:

    Martin and Ray, yes, that’s all probably accurate. Though it still requires what (one of the things) I’ve been fussing about. That is to simply define all of those not in agreement and not part of the consensus away as being unworthy for some reason or another — some maybe valid, some requiring some deep digging to find enough unworthiness. All of the 20, or 150, or 1598, or 19,000 (pick your list) just don’t make the grade and are declared, in Al Gore’s words e.g., “simply outliers” — except the one or two token guys that are held up to show objectivity. Ergo 99.9+% consensus.

    But, alas. Our different preceptions are destined to remain as such…..

    BTW, I would agree with the need for you protagonists to press that point in the battle for the hearts and minds in the real world, even if it were not 100% accurate (for who can tell that, really). If you were to admit, say for discussion, that the “consensus” was 74%, the powers that are — especially those leaning the other way, would pounce all over you and quickly turn that 26% into Mt. Everest. Scientists who don’t exploit all uncertainty to the fullest will not win, even if they are completely accurate — until of course when it would be too late (this all having been discussed on another RC thread). Which, BTW #2, is what is lacking in most of your criticism of Lindzer, et al.

  16. 366
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod, you are missing the point. It doesn’t matter how many scientists agree. Rather, it matters what the evidence says. Even if 99.9% of scientists start off with one position, they will have to change if the evidence does not back them. Likewise, the theory that best explains the evidence will be the one that does the best job of generating new hypotheses and fertile areas of study–leading to publications, citations in the literature, and eventually converts. The failure of the contrarians to publish and to have what few publications they do have cited in future work is the most eloquent testimony to the sterility of their ideas and approach. That is what we mean by consensus–not an arbitrary decision of “who” is worthy.
    Look, Rod, scientists want to succeed, and that means publishing. Theories that lead to publications–i.e. progress in understanding–get adopted. Those that do not advance understanding get left behind. Once pretty much everyone agrees a particular approach is a dead end, you have consensus.

  17. 367

    Climate change skeptics met in New York over the weekend. All the big names were there, Singer, Michaels, etc. Revkin reports in the NY Times that “The meeting was largely framed around science, but after the luncheon, when an organizer made an announcement asking all of the scientists in the large hall to move to the front for a group picture, 19 men did so.” That’s only 19, out of several hundred people. The rest were presumably “some of the wealthiest and most powerful political actors in the nation”, including “anti regulatory campaigners and Congressional staff members”. They are misusing the language and authority of science to promote an anti-regulatory political agenda. Isn’t this glaringly obvious at this point?

    Singer is quoted as saying he “doesn’t do predictions”. No wonder. After being on the wrong side of tobacco, CFC, ozone, and global warming debates, I’d be wary of making more predictions also.

  18. 368
    Hank Roberts says:

    Dang, did someone get a picture of the _remainder_ crowd? Those guys (wanta bet?) are the power brokers who likely actually can make some difference once they learn something.

  19. 369
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Hank, Good point. They probably wouldn not want their picture taken–precisely why we should have done so. As to educating the power brokers, I’m afraid that they only respond to two stimuli–amassing more power or eradicating threats to the power they have.

    Having spent a lot of time in Africa, I can say that there are always folks who will seek to profit from disaster, rather than avoiding it or mitigating it. When you tell such people that sea levels will rise, all they can think about is buying up all the high ground.

  20. 370
    Jim Eager says:

    Here’s a right wing report on the conference from the Business & Media Institute:
    http://www.businessandmedia.org/articles/2008/20080303175301.aspx

    Not much meat there, but I like the sumation of his lordship Monckton’s presentation: “[he] told an audience that the science will eventually prevail and the “scare” of global warming will go away.”
    More on Monckton here: http://www.businessandmedia.org/articles/2008/20080303154249.aspx

    Sounds like as expected the conference was short on science and long on the usual made-up rhetoric.

  21. 371
    Ron Taylor says:

    I am still curious as to why Lindzen (apparently) was not there. Anyone know?

    Also, I have a thought about perhaps why only nineteen “scientists” came forward for the group photo. They probably realized this photo would be used in ads, literature and on the web to promote the conference and its aims. Many who might attend would not want to be identified with that. So we can at least conclude that no more than nineteen wanted to be publicly identified with the conference. Kind of pathetic.

  22. 372
    Nick Gotts says:

    Re #371: (Ron Taylor) “So we can at least conclude that no more than nineteen wanted to be publicly identified with the conference. Kind of pathetic.”
    Kind of? Have the “conference” organisers released the photo? If so, it should be posted, appropriately labelled, on every possible noticeboard and website! Alongside a photo from the largest real climate change conference, of course.

    Come to think of it, if they haven’t released and don’t release it, we could post the latter photo alongside a blank space, appropriately labelled!

  23. 373
    David B. Benson says:

    Here is a link to Revkin’s piece on Dot Earth:

    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/04/the-never-ending-story/

    which seems to contain a link to his TNYT article today.

  24. 374
    Arch Stanton says:

    Courtesy of Eli: Heartland/Singer’s anti-IPCC propaganda piece: http://heartland.temp.siteexecutive.com/pdf/22835.pdf

  25. 375
    Jim Eager says:

    Re 373 “Courtesy of Eli: Heartland/Singer’s anti-IPCC propaganda piece:”
    http://heartland.temp.siteexecutive.com/pdf/22835.pdf

    Oh, this is cute. And it looks so…. official:

    Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate

    Summary for Policymakers of the Report of the Nongovernmental International Panle on Climate Change
    (50 pages)

    Edited by S. Fred Singer

    Contributors (info from Source Watch http://www.sourcewatch.org and other sources)

    Warren Anderson, US
    (co-author of Fire and Ice)

    Dennis Avery, US
    (director of the Center for Global Food Issues, Hudson Institute)

    Franco Battaglia, Italy
    (professor of environmental chemistry at the University of Modena)

    Robert Carter, Australia
    (“Professor Carter, whose background is in marine geology, appears to have little, if any, standing in the Australian climate science community;” well known climate change skeptic)

    Richard Courtney, UK
    (Technical Editor for CoalTrans International (journal of the international coal trading industry), was a Senior Material Scientist of the National Coal Board and a Science and Technology spokesman of the British Association of Colliery Management)

    Joseph d’Aleo, US
    (retired meteorologist & well known climate change skeptic)

    Fred Goldberg, Sweden
    (associate professor at the Royal School of Technology in Stockholm)

    Vincent Gray, New Zealand
    (founding member New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, which has the stated aim of “refuting what it believes are unfounded claims about anthropogenic (man-made) global warming.”)

    Klaus Heiss, Austria
    (economist, Science & Environmental Policy Project)

    Craig Idso, US
    (founder and chairman of the board of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, funded by Western Fuels and Exxon Mobil)

    Zbigniew Jaworowski, Poland
    (professor at the Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection in Warsaw & global warming skeptic)

    Olavi Karner, Estonia
    (Tartu Observatory)

    Madhav Khandekar, Canada
    (retired Environment Canada meteorologist, on the scientific advisory board of Friends of Science, published in Energy & Environment)

    William Kininmonth, Australia
    (past head of head of Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology’s National Climate Centre, known Australian climate change skeptic; listed as “Director of the Australasian Climate Research Institute,” but the Institute is listed as simply a trading name for “Kininmonth, William Robert”, and is based at his private residence)

    Hans Labohm, Netherlands
    (economist, author of Man-Made Global Warming: Uravelling a Dogma)

    Christopher Monckton, UK
    (we all know his lardship; connected with the Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI), formerly the Frontiers of Freedom’s Center for Science and Public Policy, which promotes the views of global warming skeptics)

    Lubos Motl, Czech Republic
    (theoretical physicist who works on string theory and conceptual problems of quantum gravity)

    Tom Segalstadt, Norway
    (head of the Geological Museum within the Natural History Museum of the University of Oslo, IPCC reviewer)

    S. Fred Singer, US
    (Whom we also all know; former space scientist and government scientific administrator, runs the Science and Environmental Policy Project and has been connected with numerous conservative think tanks, including Cato, American Enterprise Institute, and of course, the tobacco industry)

    Dick Thoenes, Netherlands
    (emeritus professor of chemical engineering, Eindhoven University of Technology, co-author of Man-Made Global Warming: Uravelling a Dogma)

    Anton Uriarte, Spain
    (professor of Physical Geography at the University of the Basque Country)

    Gerd Weber, Germany
    (works for the ‘Gesamtverband des Deutschen Steinkohlenbergbaus’ (Association of German coal producers))

  26. 376
    Jeff Akins says:

    I wrote them and asked about the $1000 per speaker payment and received the following reply:

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Diane Bast DBast@heartland.org
    To: Leah or Jeff
    Sent: Tuesday, March 04, 2008 7:49 AM
    Subject: RE: paid scientists speaking at conference?

    And who are you that we should care one whit about your opinion?

  27. 377
    Jim Eager says:

    “And who are you that we should care one whit about your opinion?”

    Sounds like something has gotten under their skin just a wee bit.
    Or maybe they were underwhelmed with the press and public exposure that they got.
    Or both.

    Revkin’s Dot Earth blog observation (link above in 373) that Heartland’s skeptic and denial circus couldn’t agree even among themselves is all too typical of groups of people who are by constitution contrarians.

  28. 378
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Jim Eager pointed out: “Revkin’s Dot Earth blog observation (link above in 373) that Heartland’s skeptic and denial circus couldn’t agree even among themselves is all too typical of groups of people who are by constitution contrarians.”

    It is also typical of pseudoscience–when you abandon evidence as your guide, you are bound to stumble down blind alleys in the resulting darkness.

  29. 379
    Bob Deering says:

    Anthony Watts, the CA meteorologist who published the flawed analysis of the (widely reported in the media) temperature drop over the past year was scheduled to speak at this conference.

    Anyone know if he continued to present his flawed findings as factual, or did he retract his claims following their correction by numerous scientists?

  30. 380

    #367, Michael. Singer unable to predict? And just why anyone should listen to him? Having no confidence in diagnosing leads to no prognosis.

  31. 381
    EricM says:

    I have been an expert witness in the field of civil engineering a number of times, and seen many other expert witnesses testify as well. Every time, the attorney for the “other side” attacks the professional qualifications and experience of the witness, and, if possible, tries to make links to personal and financial motivations, all in an effort to discredit and marginalize the testimony in the eyes of the judge and jury.
    All of you scientific posters here have done a fabulous job of attacking the other side, on all levels, but you’re arguing the wrong case. You see, the “case” is not whether GW is occuring, or even whether it is caused by manmade CO2, the case is whether it is a “crisis” warranting draconian (and government mandated) actions. Even the average joe (who happens to be both judge and jury) knows these measures will cause him significant economic pain. Therefore, it is purely human nature that the burden of proof for a “crisis” becomes substantially higher. The sceptics know that, and I think very few of you do. You can totally discredit the other side and win technical point after technical point, but you still lose the case. Average joe isn’t giving up his big house and big car running on cheap (coal fired) electricity and cheap (petroleum) fuel if all you’ve are some computer model predictions and trend graphs, but can only show relatively mild and “manageable” current impacts. No harm, no foul, wait and see.

  32. 382
    tamino says:

    Re: #381 (EricM)

    I’d say you have some valid points, but you paint far too cynical a picture of human behavior.

    Of course there are lots of people who won’t give up their wasteful energy ways until they get slapped in the face with hard consequences of global warming. Likewise, there are lots of people who don’t give up smoking when the doctor says “You could get cancer” — in spite of all the graphs and charts that prove the doctor is right. They hold out until the doctor says “You’ve got cancer,” and there are a few people who don’t quit even then.

    But we have to recognize the very broad range of human attitudes and behaviors. I know people who, on the very day (back in the 60s) that the surgeon general announced the health risks of smoking, quit. I know one fellow who took his cigarette pack and put it on the mantle, told his wife & kids to leave it there — it was his reminder how dangerous it was, and he was never going back.

    If the scientific community presented evidence so strong that even to dispute it would only make one look like a fool, and nobody disagreed it was real and dangerous, there’d still be those who would resist action (like the smoker who won’t quit even if he gets cancer). But there are also a lot of people who have already changed their habits. Do you think CFL light bulbs would be on the shelves at your local stores if people weren’t responding to the threat of AGW? Would legislation to block more coal-fired plants even be considered? Would the Toyota Prius have sold so fast that, last year at least, if you wanted to buy one you had to get on a waiting list?

    In the case of smoking, the clear and unambiguous statement of the surgeon general was a big motivator. In the case of AGW, the clear and unambiguous waffling of the Bush administration, together with its emphasis on the economic risks of taking action, has been a big de-motivator. With the right leadership we in the U.S. would be doing a lot more, not only in terms of government action but for personal action as well. If John F. Kennedy were president today, and eloquently and passionately appealed to people’s sense of moral obligation to the future, things would be a lot different. We could use some real leadership on this issue.

    The unrealistic thing is to expect “society” to switch from one binary state — resistance — to another — activism. Instead we can expect the distribution of responses to shift, sometimes slowly and by small amounts. And every little bit helps.

  33. 383
    J.S. McIntyre says:

    re 381: ” Therefore, it is purely human nature that the burden of proof for a “crisis” becomes substantially higher. The sceptics know that, and I think very few of you do. … Average joe isn’t giving up his big house and big car running on cheap (coal fired) electricity and cheap (petroleum) fuel if all you’ve are some computer model predictions and trend graphs, but can only show relatively mild and “manageable” current impacts. No harm, no foul, wait and see.”
    ======================

    You may be right, of course, re the expert witness argument and the “average” Joe (at least, the average American Joe – note that most of the other industrialized countries tend to have a much deeper appreciation for the problems we’re facing, due in part to a long-standing emphasis on science education). And I have been making a parallel argument in conversations regarding the reaction to AGW, though more along the historical evidence that suggests humans rarely react to a crisis until it is upon them in tangible, unmistakable form. This problem is likely exacerbated by the economic model that drives the U.S., built on short-term profit that ignores long-term consequences (and decades ago, we used to laugh at the Soviets and their 5-year plans). If you doubt this, you need only look at the mess the real-estate bubble is creating which, ironically, seems to be paralleling Japan’s economic downturn in the 90s.

    At the same time, I think an argument could be made, at least in an ideal world, one would hope that corporations, with all their innate power and the assumed desire to remain profitable, would have acted on this problem and help to drive us in a direction that would prepare us for what we are going to face. Likewise, government, ostensibly elected to serve the needs of the people, would likewise act in a prudent and concerned fashion to maintain the integrity of the body politic.

    Sadly, this is not an ideal world.

    But I would take issue with you re what you essentially describe as the innate selfishness that informs the “average Joe”. I believe we’re witnessing something of a sea change in the public’s perception of AGW. Polls suggest that more and more we are accepting the phenomena as real and something to be addressed. I found it interesting to open the Sunday travel section in my local rag to discover tour business to Greenland is growing as more and more people wish to witness some of the most obvious effects of AGW in action. I also found it interesting that the Heartland Institute’s conference has apparently failed in its obvious goal – to attract media attention. This was particularly evident when I read yesterday that they played the Al Gore card – the founder of the Weather Channel suggested that Al Gore should be sued for airing his views! That, at least, got the media’s attention. Otherwise, the conference has been pretty much a non-event.

    You wrote: “You can totally discredit the other side and win technical point after technical point, but you still lose the case..”

    Not really. In court cases, if your evidence is compelling, if you show a pattern of ongoing falsehoods and misrepresentations by the opposing side, a judge or jury will take notice. And even average American Joes, usually undereducated in science thanks to our government’s woefully inept handling of education, is beginning to connect the dots on this.

    It still may be difficult to get them to make the sacrifices necessary to address this – of that I have no doubt. But I believe that what you are more and more having to deal with now is not combating the skeptics – it’s getting people to take the next step from acceptance to taking action. So the real question is not whether we’re going to do something about it. The question is whether we will do so in time.

  34. 384
    Jacob says:

    You just got slammed at TierneyLab. Check it out. You deserve it:
    http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/06/global-warming-payola/

  35. 385
    guy says:

    Awful lot of commentary for such a “non-event.” Do you think the conference offered $1000 because funding for views not in line with your community’s “Great Leap Forward” plans is scarce?

    Funny comment.


    Jim Eager pointed out: “Revkin’s Dot Earth blog observation (link above in 373) that Heartland’s skeptic and denial circus couldn’t agree even among themselves is all too typical of groups of people who are by constitution contrarians.”

    It is also typical of pseudoscience–when you abandon evidence as your guide, you are bound to stumble down blind alleys in the resulting darkness.”

    Is the point of a conference on “science” for all the attendees to leave “agreeing among themselves”?

    “Every single field in my home state was/could have been worked by horse or mule teams. There are few new fields. Through trial and error, the early settlers quickly determined what land was good for crops and what land was more suitable for pasture. Minnesota, as a for instance, is not bigger than it was when it was settled. That I know of, it has few new acres. The entire state is more than capable of maintaining draft animals sufficient to raise statewide crops and to deliver them to the railroads. We know this because they already did it – in the 20th Century.”

    Rare to see a comment that so exquisitely identifies the political aims of some of your supporters. No less than the complete de-industrialization of…Minnesota…then the world!

  36. 386
    Jim Eager says:

    Re guy @ 385: “Do you think the conference offered $1000 because funding for views not in line with your community’s “Great Leap Forward” plans is scarce?”

    No, it’s because hard science in line with Heartland’s views is scarce.

    “Is the point of a conference on “science” for all the attendees to leave “agreeing among themselves?”

    No, the point of a conference on science (note the absence of quotes) is to expose scientific ideas to the scrutiny one’s peers within the scientific community. There was scarcely any climate change science–or science of any kind, for that matter–presented at Heartland’s circus, and hardly any scientific peers in attendance. Perhaps that’s because it was not a conference on science, but an ideological and politically motivated publicity and propaganda fest,

    “Rare to see a comment that so exquisitely identifies the political aims of some of your supporters.”

    Projection is not becoming. For Heartland and its supporters it’s all about political aims.

  37. 387
    David B. Benson says:

    guy (385) — I doubt that is a ‘political aim’. Rather just an observation.

    But indeed, if using horses proves more economic than a diesel tractor running on biodiesel, I am sure that farmers will do so. (I suspect that the biodiesel powered tractor is the better choice in most locations in the U.S. however.)

  38. 388
    JCH says:

    “Rare to see a comment that so exquisitely identifies the political aims of some of your supporters. No less than the complete de-industrialization of…Minnesota…then the world! …”

    I tens of thousands of shares in oil and gas companies like ExxonMobil, so I rather doubt you have a clue as to my political aims or beliefs.

    Anybody who has read a page of history knows mules remained a major source of power throughout the entire industrial revolution, and that includes the United States.

  39. 389
    Rod B says:

    I don’t think the TierneyLab blog was improper, other than (and, granted, a significant “other than”) they pigeon-holed the entire RC for a few comments by a few.

  40. 390
    Ron Durda says:

    Re: 382
    Tamino,
    I’m in my 70’s and have long ago given up following flavor of the day trends. You ask, “Do you think CFL light bulbs would be on the shelves at your local stores if people weren’t responding to the threat of AGW?”. My answer is that I looked at the cost benefit numbers and bought a few for those areas where the inconvenience of poor light and slow warm-up didn’t matter—and in passing some are now on the market that are a lot better, but until the price comes down to where it’s a financial advantage —forget it!!! So, I for one will categorically say that I wouldn’t buy anything in response to the threat of AGW. Others may, but then I’ve learned that often the crowd follows anything that moves, and that includes all those cuddly bears and crashing king sized ice-cubes. (I’ve also spent a working lifetime in the broadcasting business and I full well understand the basic principle that people are most easily persuaded about things they know the least about.)

    But you speak of the need for a new Kennedy to, “…eloquently and passionately appealed to people’s sense of moral obligation to the future….” Okay, let’s cut to the chase and get real serious here about the moral issue you are alluding to. You tell me what the temperature of the world is going to be in 30 years ( or 50, 100—you name it) if every person on earth followed the lead of Al Gore—in what HE ACTUALLY DOES (i.e. his carbon footprint) and not what HE SAYS the rest of us should do. And then you give me a moral argument that we all shouldn’t live like Gore or Suzuki. If you don’t want to pick on big AL, then do the calculation on the basis of the average footprint of that gang of hangers-on-to-the-public-tit that recently met in Bali. I’ll quickly admit I don’t know how to read the math or a lot of the big words involved in physics or statistics et al, but I sure as hell can spot a hypocrite by just listening to and watching him in action–it’s easy, they just don’t act like they say we should. So Tamino, considering that the real person is portrayed in actions rather than words, you tell me why Al Gore and David Suzuki and the IPCC world travel club are not convinced by your reasoned scientific arguments for AGW.

    RWD

  41. 391
    matt says:

    Tamino: I know people who, on the very day (back in the 60s) that the surgeon general announced the health risks of smoking, quit.

    Doubtful. There is a reason my father’s generation called them “coffin nails” long before the SG outlined the risks. That terms goes back at least to to 20′s. Do you think an autopsy was never done on a smoker and non-smoker that lived away from city pollution? This was routinely being done over a hundred years ago. The risks we widely known for a long time.

    If the scientific community presented evidence so strong that even to dispute it would only make one look like a fool, and nobody disagreed it was real and dangerous, there’d still be those who would resist action (like the smoker who won’t quit even if he gets cancer). But there are also a lot of people who have already changed their habits.

    We already have those that fully belive the warning about AGW and have NOT changed their living one iota. In fact, they’ve consumed more and more and more once they’ve become aware of the problem. Bono believes in AGW but makes jokes about it citing the needs of being a rock star. Prince Charles continues to charter jumbo jets for his entourage. Laurie David continues to fly private jets and keep two houses. Stin’s wife send a private jet to fetch a pair of forgotten shoes. Sheryl Crowe puts of concerts that require 10′s of thousands of people a night drive 20+ minutes to hear her music. If the biggest believers arent’ changing, what do we make of this?

    Those examples above are akin to the SG smoking a cigarette on TV while reading a report about the dangers.

    Do you think CFL light bulbs would be on the shelves at your local stores if people weren’t responding to the threat of AGW? Would legislation to block more coal-fired plants even be considered? Would the Toyota Prius have sold so fast that, last year at least, if you wanted to buy one you had to get on a waiting list?

    You haven’t asked anyone to do anything painful yet. To allow everyone the world to produce the same amount of CO2 means that US and EU need to reduce >90%. CFL? It’s a 1-2% savings. Prius? it’s a 20% savings over an SUV. But a typical prius driver wouldn’t have been driving an SUV, they would have been driving a civic. So the sacrifice was much, much smaller.

    Nobody has been asked to do anything the least bit painful yet. That they respond and do the easy stuff is not surprising. We love to do easy things and feel like we’re making a difference. It’s kind of like cancer “run for the cure” races. If running cured cancer, we’d have cured cancer by now. But see how many healthy people want to be given drugs to see if they get cancer and their willingness drops.

    So, ask people to do something meaningful (and painful) to fight AGW and see how they respond. You will be dissappointed.

    With the right leadership we in the U.S. would be doing a lot more, not only in terms of government action but for personal action as well.

    We had the father of the AGW movement in elected office, and he didn’t do much to get Kyoto (or anything of substance to change AGW) humming in the US did he? In fact, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and 93 other senators voted AGAINST Kyoto. Your assertion that the right leadership would have changed things requires a massive stretch.

  42. 392
    Ron Taylor says:

    Re 390 – Ron Durda

    From another Ron in his 70s. Do you really equate personal responsibily with following the herd?

    As far as Gore is concerned, no leader I know of has done more to reduce his carbon footprint. He is working hard to bring about systemic changes that would enable him, as well as the rest of us, to lower our carbon footprints much more.

    For me, the issue is my (and everyone else’s) great grandchildren. My heart aches when I think of the kind of world we seem likely to leave them. Your perspective is much too common to realistically hope that it might be otherwise.

  43. 393
    tamino says:

    I see that cynicism is as prevalent as ever, and that attacks against Al Gore are still a mainstay of those who wish to resist action. I’m not surprised at such intransigence. I never claimed, or believed, that inspiring leadership would reach you.

    None of you has even addressed the important parts of my comment: 1. Society doesn’t switch from one binary state of response to another; 2. The right leadership can make a huge difference. As for the 2nd point, I wasn’t talking about Al Gore.

  44. 394
    Hank Roberts says:

    > father of

    Oh, nonsense. This founder stuff is so tired.

    Look at the chlorofluorocarbon work. Look at the close call.

    History is written by the survivors, who believe whatever happened in the past was right because they’re enjoying life. That’s how it goes.
    Sure, we screw up the world.

    The point is not to end it prematurely.

  45. 395
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Tierney
    Sigh.
    Political columnist “writing a ‘science’ column” now. Doesn’t check cites. Doesn’t cite sources. Doesn’t quote people carefully. Doesn’t notice criticism. Spin, spin, spin. Perfectly normal for a political point-of-view blogger, which he still is. Mislabeled.

    http://www.google.com/cse?cx=017254414699180528062%3Auyrcvn__yd0&q=tierney&sa.x=0&sa.y=0&sa=search
    http://scienceblogs.com/purepedantry/2008/03/why_republicans_reject_science.php

  46. 396
    Isaac McIsaac says:

    This article apeared in the National Post a sort of righty paper from Toronto, where I live the winter has been very snowy but not really cold like it was when I was a kid. Is this article regular BS or is there something to it??

    Forget global warming: Welcome to the new Ice Age
    Lorne Gunter, National Post Published: Monday, February 25, 2008

    [Response: BS. - gavin]

  47. 397
    Chris Colose says:

    I am always curious as to what is so hard to understand about “signal and noise”, or “trend and fluctuation” or “long term and short term” or “climate and weather.” Do people not getting these things, like ignoring La Nina, take themselves seriosuly??

  48. 398
    Lawrence Brown says:

    Re: #190 I full well understand the basic principle that people are most easily persuaded about things they know the least about.)

    All the more reason to familiarize yourself further about this topic. Pick up a non-technical book on the subject or do some research on Google.

  49. 399
    Tom Fiddaman says:

    Re 396 (Gunter in National Post)

    Gavin’s summary is correct, but you can find my lengthier critique here:
    http://blog.metasd.com/2008/03/07/confused-at-the-national-post/

    Tom

  50. 400
    Jim Eager says:

    Re Matt @ 391: “But a typical prius driver wouldn’t have been driving an SUV, they would have been driving a civic.”

    This one was and otherwise would have been driving an AWD Subaru wagon, which it turns out would have been a better choice in the northern climate that I live in, at least this winter. Still, I know I’m saving over 20% in fuel costs, even in the winter.


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