RealClimate logo

Free speech and academic freedom

Filed under: — rasmus @ 12 February 2012

Update: Some related concerns from, if these claims can be verified.

In a recent interview for a Norwegian magazine (Teknisk Ukeblad, 0412), the IPCC chair Rajendra Kumar Pachauri told the journalist that he had received death threats in connection with his role as a head for the IPCC. There have also been recent reports of threats and harassment of climate scientists for their stance on climate change (Kerry Emanuel. Katharine Hayhoe, Australian climate scientists, Phil Jones, Barton campaign, and Inhofe’s black list).

These incidents appear as an unpleasant deja vu from my past, smacking of attempts to suppress the freedom of speech. They remind me of the days when I did my national service as a border patrol at the Soviet-Norwegian border in 1988-1989 (Norway and Russia – then Soviet – share a 196 km long common border in the high north), where we stood up for our freedom and democracy. Freedom of speech was tacitly implied as one of the ingredients of an open democracy, which in our minds was the West. There was an understanding that the other side of the iron curtain represented an oppressive regime.

If the people who threat and harass climate scientists were to have their way, I fear we would be heading for a world resembling the other side of the iron curtain of 1989. The absence of oppression and harassment is a prerequisite for sound and functioning science. Oppressive regimes are not known for producing good science, and blind ideology have often been unsustainable. Therefore, threats and such dishonorable campaigns represent a concern.

Me at the Soviet-Norwegian border in the spring of 1989, where I served as a border patrol. The border was halfway between the yellow Norwegian and green/red Soviet borderposts seen in the photo, and the iron curtain involved a militarised zone on the Soviet side guarded by the KGB.

Another unpleasant aspect of the direction taken by the public discource is the character of the rhetoric, which too exhibit similarities to that of the cold war. I still remember some of the propaganda that could be heard on the radio – translated to Norwegian. Too often these days, the debate is far from being informative but has turned into something like a beauty contest and he-said-she-said affair.

So it is important to keep in mind: Don’t shoot the messenger who is only doing her/his job. It would really be a disservice to the society. Any open and free democracy has to be based on true information and knowledge. When big and powerful media corporations start to look like past state-run propaganda machines, where slogans have replaced common sense and expert knowledge, then we’re heading in the wrong direction.

In Norway, the there were calls for enhanced openness and respect (by our prime minister) after the terrible July 22 (2011) terrorist attacks (the terrorist also disrespected climate science). In this sense, the openness also means exposing all levels and all aspects of matters being disputed. As in sciences, it is important to elucidate the situation, and see if the arguments stand up to being critically scrutinized. This also means that all relevant information must be included – not just those which support one stand.

Flower response, more democracy, and more openness in Oslo after July 22, 2011.

I think that the science community needs a louder voice in the society, and there is a need for bringing some of the science-related debates closer to true science. We need to explain the virtues of the scientific method, such as transparency, replication of past results, testing and evaluating the methods and conclusions. These virtues lead to the most credible answers.

For example, we need to focus on question like the following: Is the strategy adopted objective? Does it give robust results? Or do the result depend on the context in which the analysis was carried out? In other words, we need to question whether the conclusions are generally valid.

Focusing on the real questions and doing science means being free, critical and sceptical – and not a climate of fear.

739 Responses to “Free speech and academic freedom”

  1. 701
    Phil Mattheis says:

    The “Dan H.” of @666 is the Dan H we know, full of unearned authority, and applied rhetorical dishonesty.
    The “Dan H.” of @678 either underwent an epiphany and conversion (he _was_ briefly touched by the mark of the beast…), or much more likely, responded in character, with a vague answer apparently meant to imply he’s playing by ‘the rules’. But it occurred to me he didn’t limit or direct his agreement. That words appear when you type? Not much else.

    I’ll add a vote for bore hole status to the old “Dan H.” If @678 is a new man, very recently reborn into honest and productive contribution, he can change his name to aid the healing of our past trauma, and to facilitate his acceptance as/if he avoids past practice.
    (also voting we retire “666”, in memory)

  2. 702
    SecularAnimist says:

    Michael Kelly wrote: “… I am even more worried by the mis-investment of millions of dollars on the deployment (as opposed to the development) of wind farms, solar panels, electric cars …. Premature technology deployment is thoroughly bad engineering.”

    With all due respect, your comment indicates that you are extremely ill-informed about today’s powerful, mature wind and solar technologies, which are the fastest-growing sources of new electric generation capacity in the word, and which are being widely, successfully and profitably deployed at all scales all over the world, from utility/industrial scale to residential scale in the developed world, and village-scale in the developing world (where cheap mass-produced photovoltaics are already creating a revolution in rural electrification).

    Denial of the problem of AGW is, of course, the cornerstone of the fossil fuel industry’s deceitful propaganda campaign to delay and obstruct the urgently needed phaseout of their destructive products.

    But equally important is the equally deceitful denial that any alternative exists: not only is there no problem, they claim, but there is no solution to the problem. Thus, disparaging and denigrating wind and solar energy is a core strategy.

  3. 703
    Richard Simons says:

    dbostrom @692

    There are no fundamental barriers to it [solar water panels] working in Britain, either.

    The Centre for Alternative Technology, situated in one of the cloudiest and wettest areas in the country, has been using them since the 70s to halve their heating bills.

  4. 704
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Dan H.,
    Care to point out where there is even a sliver of daylight between the IPCC conclusions and the APS position?

    I guess when there is no real controversy to teach, you just manufacture one out of thin air by taking quotes out of context?

  5. 705
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Michael Kelly,

    Again. You have taken issue with science that has been established for decades because you do not like the policy implications–that is the logical fallacy of argument from consequences.

    You also seem not to understand what the ad hominem fallacy is. No one has attacked you personally and said that because of YOUR personal failings we should ignore you. Rather, they have taken you to task for ingoring evidence–a valid criticism that you also chose to ignore.

    Please get serious. Your 5 years of study might have served you better if you had sought out the best science, rather than that you and your colleagues could twist and deform to support your position.

  6. 706
    SecularAnimist says:

    Dan H wrote: “I thought you wanted the IPCC consensus taught in class, with which I disagree. That is significantly different from the scientific consensus, with which I agree.”

    I don’t intend this as a criticism of our hosts, but I am genuinely curious to know why such blatant trolling with offensively dishonest nonsense like this is not consigned to the Bore Hole.

    [Response:You are absolutely correct–Jim]

  7. 707
    Dan H. says:

    For starters, the APS range for climate sensitivity is 1-3C/doubling, while the IPCC range is 2-4.5.

    [Response: That’s curious. They actually state that climate models show a range from 1-3C, which is news to me, and frankly, I doubt has any actual source. The language is not actually that clear, and it is conceivable that they really mean the transient climate response (warming at a time of 2xCO2 in a 1% increasing CO2 simulation) which in AR4 was 1.5 to 2.8ºC. Since the APS did not actually do any of their own climate modelling, their source for these numbers must be IPCC (or CMIP5), and so their lack of tracability of their statement, and probable confusion on what they are referrring to, doesn’t fill one with a great enthusiasm to use it as a source text in an educational context. – gavin]

    The APS mentions both matural and manmade contributions to the observed warming, without stating which has been the larger contributor. The IPCC clearly states manmade causes as the most significant. The APS statement raises much more uncertainty in both the understanding and projections than does the IPCC.

    [Response:However that may be, the reason you would like the APS stance in that situation is because their numbers are lower, not because of this supposed superior objectivity you would like to portray.–Jim]

  8. 708

    Re #701. Perhaps as part of the healing process, the new Dan H. could describe any epiphanies he’s had as a result of getting caught up short with his drought caper, and how his thinking about global warming has evolved as a result.

    Not that get a vote, but I agree with you about bore-holing the old Dan H.

  9. 709
    Michael Kelly says:

    All the scientific facts on climate change are capable of another, non-Malthusian, interpretation.
    Malthus got it wrong on food: Jevons got in wrong on coal, many since 1895 got it wrong on oil; the Club of Rome said in 1970 we would be out of minerals by 2000.

    [Response: You might be surprised to hear that when discussing climate change, attribution, drivers, paleo-climate records, cloud physics, radiative transfer and the like, neither Malthus, Jevons or the Club of Rome are even mentioned, let alone determinative of the understanding. If you want to discuss them, I suggest you talk to economists – like Nordhuas for instance – climate scientists are not really the right people for this. – gavin]

    As an engineer I have to take the scientific projections of the solar physics community alongside the CO2 community to decide what is the wise cause of action, and they are predicting cooling.

    [Response: This, on the other hand, is an climate science issue. But for this to be remotely relevant, you have to demonstrate that solar effects – even another Grand minima (which despite what you might hear is not a prediction ‘of the solar community’) – has a radiative forcing and/or enhanced sensitivity that is even close to that expected from GHG increases. As far as I am aware, there is no such evidence that rises to the level required. Perhaps you’d care to point to the evidence that you find compelling? – gavin]

    Indeed we may be grateful in 20 years for every tonne of CO2 that is staving off low temperatures and mass starvation that happened 300 years ago with only 1B on the planet.

    [Response: Argument by unlikely scenario is not particularly persuasive. – gavin]

    Any serious and large reduction of CO2 before technologies are ready – note the bankruptcies in the US – is because the alarmist have had their say in policy circles.

    [Response: Huh? As someone complaining about name-calling above, this seems like an odd statement. Not least because the ‘alarmists’ (who are they?) have not actually engaged in some imagined wholesale effort to decarbonize the US economy. I’m sure I would have noticed. – gavin]

    Those in the climate community who have not advocated alarm are fellow travellers if they have not denounced extreme alarm=panic for the good of humankind going forward.

    [Response: Now this is actually offensive. And I’m a little unclear how the language of ‘fellow travellers’ and ‘alarmists’ is conducive to a ‘dispassionate’ analysis. – gavin]

    From 1912 to 1962 the temperature went up by more than it did in the 50 years to 2012 even though there was three times as much CO2 in the latter period.

    [Response: This is not actually true. OLS trends 1912-1961 (inclusive) are 0.06ºC/dec, compared to 0.14ºC/dec 1962-2011. That is true with either GISTEMP or HadCRU3. Your second statement is a little unlcear – there certainly wasn’t ‘3 times’ as much CO2. CO2 increased from 301 to 318 in the first period, and 318 to 391 in the second. That is a difference of a factor of 3 in the forcings (0.3 compared to 1.1 W/m2). – gavin]

    It simply cannot be all or only CO2.

    [Response: Who has claimed otherwise? Certainly not the climate modellers who use 14+ distinct forcings over the 20th Century or run simulations showing the impact of any number of drivers of paleo-climate – ranging from orbital variability, lake drainage events, solar variability, ice sheet boundary conditions etc. It is worth pointing out that CO2 increases completely dominant the year-on-year increase in the radiative forcing and that is expected to continue into the foreseeable future. ]

    Akasofu’s projections (more temperature rise this century like the last, and not more than that) are outperforming all the climate models for 20 years: the data on d2T/dt2 has been negative since 1995 and the IPCC models have d2T/dt2 positive. If this divergences continues for another 15 years when will we say the the models have to be revisited?

    [Response: You are confusing single realisations with the ensemble mean, and I’m perfectly willing to predict that this will not continue for 15 years – though if it did (without some obvious external cause like a couple of big volcanoes), it certainly would put the observations well out of the ensemble spread of model predictions – that has not happened yet – not even close. – gavin]

    The storm intensities are down, not up, the ocean is not warming, the sea level rise has halted, the ice levels in the Sierra, the total ice at Antactica, ……

    [Response: This is rag-bag of talking points, all of which are cherry-picked in time or space, or simply wrong. I expect better from people who want to have a serious conversation. The ocean quite clearly is warming – both at the surface and at depth, Antarctic sea ice has a slight, non-significant, upward trend which is interesting, but Antarctica as a whole is losing ice sheet mass, as is Greenland, as is the Arctic sea ice. Sea levels are affected by short term variability in ocean patterns but the long term trend is a pretty steady 3mm/yr (though if you think this has stopped, perhaps we could arrange a bet on the subject?). – gavin]

    The most humbling real word data is the central England temperature since 1650. There was a temperature rise there from 1700 to 1730 which is 50% bigger than that from 1975 to 2012, and no-one suggests that was man-made CO2. Similarly from 1910 to 1940. What exactly was it, and how can we rule that out again now?. Do not quote model calculations. They are only as good as the input and how far the real-word data tests the predictions/projections.

    [Response: Now this is funny. You ask me to attribute a local temperature signal while, presumably, knowing full well that any kind of attribution involves a model, but then tie my hands by insisting that I not use a model. An impartial observer might conclude you don’t actually want me to answer. Your framing of this is also a little strange – it is clear to me that attribution of events increasingly far back in time must perforce become harder – since there is increasing uncertainty in the data itself, the relevant forcings, and anciliary data that would provide confirmatory evidence (or not) for any result. For the last fifty years we have good estimates of all relevant forcings (with the possible exception of aerosols), much higher confidence in the global mean anomalies, multiple other parameters which help constrain cause and effect (stratospheric temperatures, ocean heat content etc.), and that allows us to make a confident attribution. This is not true for 1910-1940 and certainly not for the 18th C. That uncertainty in cases where there is less data should lead to a decrease in confidence for cases where you have lots more data is perverse. It would be like a burglar caught red-handed breaking into a house using the fact that there are other unsolved burglaries as a defense. No jury is going to give that argument much credence. – gavin]

    Having spent 75% of my career on modelling and simulating semiconductors, I and my community know just how fragile modelling and simulation can be. We have been saved by being able to test our predictions again experiments on a daily basis. You can do that for weather forecast but not future climates.

    [Response: That’s great for your field. But sciences like cosmology and climate and archeology etc. have to do it differently because of the nature of their object of study. Predictions can be made for things that have happened already, but that haven’t yet been detected for instance. Predictions can be made that existing datasets are inconsistent (and validated when revisions to the data for problems in the synthesis end up removing the inconsistency). And in some cases real future predictions can be made and verified – Hansen et al 1992 for instance, correctly forecasting the climate impacts of Pinatubo, or even the skillful predictions from Hansen et al 1988. Indeed, the vast bulk of climate model analysis is specifically to try and find testable predictions – your field is not unique in that endeavour. – gavin]

    There is another interpretation of the data, that is less alarmist than the least alarmist of the IPCC, and the real world data is consistently backing it up. What has happened in the last 10 years that is worse than the average of the IPCC models, as opposed to those I have cited that are not worse than the avaerge projection?

    [Response: Arctic sea ice loss is an obvious one. – gavin]

    I repeat that I am very disappointed at the poor quality of technical and scientific debate and the ad hominem attack. I have not crawled out of a hole to make my statements as some of your bloggers suggest. I have had them thoroughly tested locally.

    [Response: I strongly advise that if you are in search of a serious conversation, you cease claiming that everyone is an ‘alarmist’, that they are ‘fellow travellers’ of extremists, and focus on actual issues that you care about, instead of dragging in a boatload of irrelevant talking points from the contrarian litany. – gavin]

    My personal interest, having advised the UK government in an official capacity for three years is the increase in the energy efficiency of buildings. Energy security is a serious issue in the UK in the next decade, and almost half of our emissions come from buildings. The UK has decided that 30% of its generating capacity must be replaced by 2020 – half because of carbon emissions from oil and coal fired electricity power stations, and half because of the end-of-life of the nuclear fleet. That will not happen in time. The former is madness, and would not have happened if climate alarmism had not had its day. When the lights go out, I, not your colleagues, will be hauled before Parliament to explain.
    There must be somewhere for a sober and dispassionate debate to be had for the good of mankind.

  10. 710
    Hank Roberts says:

    > I thought you wanted the IPCC consensus taught in class

    It’d be foolish to teach “a consensus”; teach there are consensus statements in many areas; they exist, they change, and it’s good to develop the habit of checking for what’s known when you want to know something.

    It’s a poor memory that only works backward.
    That’s all you get from “facts” learned in grade school.

    It’s no education if kids are taught facts to remember — rather than to do research, that is, to ask a librarian for help finding good information.

    If you think you remember the answer — it’s likely you’re way out of date.

  11. 711
    dbostrom says:

    I say make the papers and data [research on effects of diesel emissions on human health] available. Again, what is the problem?

    Yes, agreed, but that’s exactly what the journal editors are being threatened not to do, by Patton Boggs acting on behalf of their industrial clients.

  12. 712
    dbostrom says:

    Michael Kelly: I repeat my amazement…

    Amazement about equal to that of many here, doubtless, who can’t understand why a person who has so obviously not done his homework would presume to advise the general public on a matter obviously outside of his competence.

    Announce with confident emphasis how sure you are that 2+2=5 and that we should all behave accordingly and you will certainly not receive a respectful hearing; introduce yourself with flatfooted wrongness even to a punctiliously polite and tolerant crowd (not this one) and you’ll hear instead responses consisting variously of amusement, dismay, annoyance, disrespect. Is this any surprise?

  13. 713
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Mike Kelly,
    All I can say is that I find it terribly sad that you are so irony impaired that you cannot appreciate the irony in your using a wonder of semiconductor technology to proclaim not just that semiconductor physics doesn’t work, but also to pontificate on a field that is clearly well beyond your expertise. Models are not there to give answers. They are there to give insight. Climate models do an excellent job providing insight into how climate works. They have a long record of validated predictions. I would have thought that a scientist would want to be familiar with that before dipping a toe in an unfamiliar field.

    Sir, if this level of misunderstanding is all you have to show for 5 years of effort, then it was a sad effort indeed.

  14. 714
    Lotharsson says:

    Those in the climate community who have not advocated alarm are fellow travellers if they have not denounced extreme alarm=panic for the good of humankind going forward.

    FWIW, this is a very similar line to the one Burt Rutan tries on at Scholars & Rogues. The trouble is that he repeatedly has failed to substantiate the essential prerequisite, i.e. that claims that are being made are not in fact based on reasonable scientific understanding derived from the full set of evidence (including consideration of the range of uncertainties) and are therefore actually “alarmist”. (If anything, his limited attempts to do so have repeatedly demonstrated that his own understanding of climate science is not soundly based on the full set of evidence, and it seems likely that all of his claims to have detected uncountered “alarmism” which he then uses to condemn climate scientists as “frauds” are due to the gap between his beliefs about the scientific evidence and the actual evidence. But that is a possibility that he appears entirely unwilling to consider.)

    From 1912 to 1962 the temperature went up by more than it did in the 50 years to 2012 even though there was three times as much CO2 in the latter period.

    FWIW, Burt Rutan made the same claim. It took him quite some time to admit that it was factually wrong after it was pointed out to him – never mind the issue that comparing endpoints rather than trends is erroneous and (often deliberately) misleading.

    Akasofu’s projections …

    Also cited by Rutan (at least in his 98-slide PowerPoint), although not by name, and without any explanation of why one should believe them when they are solidly out of line with much of the historical evidence.

    Rutan also cites a similar “ragbag of talking points” as Michael Kelly does here.

    Perhaps Michael Kelly should peruse the evidence provided at the Scholars and Rogues thread and test his views in light of it before he re-asserts more of those claims here?

  15. 715
    Jim Eager says:

    Michael Kelly @ 709:

    The most humbling real word data is the central England temperature since 1650. There was a temperature rise there from 1700 to 1730 which is 50% bigger than that from 1975 to 2012…

    Yes, that should indeed be quite humbling, seeing as he is citing a period of the Centrtal England Temperature record consisting of discontinuous instrument records made complete by non-instrument records from Uthrecht, and a period where some of the CET instrument measurements were taken indoors.

    Is this the sort of “real-word data” Michael Kelly normally refers to as an engineer?

    And he expects to be taken seriously? Really?

  16. 716
    Lotharsson says:

    All the ad-hominem attacks instead of issue debating.

    That’s a bit rich coming from one of the signatories of the WSJ Op-Ed that charged that Lysenkoism reigns in climate science, verballed Trenberth, misrepresented Nordhaus’s work, badly misrepresented the FAR’s projections, alleges that national science academies’ positions are at odds with evidence due to “authoritarian academy bureacrats”, claims that “motives other than objective science are at work in much of the scientific establishment”, implies that climate scientists and/or national science bodies will produce fraudulent claims for money, – and attempts to appeal to some form of “hominem” authority for their “second opinion” by noting that “…we all have enjoyed distinguished careers in climate science or in key science and engineering disciplines (such as physics, aeronautics, geology, biology, forecasting) on which climate science is based”.

    Especially since people have engaged with the substantive issues, regardless of any ad hominem attacks you might feel you have received in addition.

  17. 717
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Michael Kelly … CET since

    Compare the results you see when you use
    Google: “central England temperature” “since 1650”
    (be careful you’re not seeing personalized search results, as they’ll feed you more and more of what you like, despite the fact that reality is available)

    Compare that to
    Google Scholar

    You’ll notice something very interesting.

    Most of the Google hits are from well known climate denial PR sites.
    Perhaps you’ve been reading in the echo chamber instead of the science journals?

    And what Scholar finds?
    The exercise is there to do. Try it and see.

  18. 718
    David B. Benson says:

    Michael Kelly — I strongly recommend your studying Ray Pierrehumbert’s Principles of Planetary Climate from Cambridge University Press. Then if you need more specifically about GCMs, try Climate Change and Climate Modeling by J. David Neelin and then Introduction to Three-Dimensional Climate Modeling 2nd Edition by Warren M. Washington and Claire Parkinson. You will then be equipped to discuss the finer points of climatology as I assume you have aalready read The Discovery of Global Warming by Spencer Weart, first link in the science section of the sidebar.

    Real Climate concentrates on just climatology; by doing so it ranks very high amoung the science blogs IMO. There are other blogs which are more oriented towards discussing low carbon energy technologies and their deployment. I only have time for two, physicist Joe Romm’s Climate Progress and climatologist Barry Brook’s Brave New Climate. At the latter there are several practicing and also retired engineers who regularly comment and help keep the discussion oriented towards practical and economic solutions. Neither blog tolerates denial of the seriousness of the problems to be faced of the course of this century.

  19. 719
    dbostrom says:

    Michael Kelly might also wish to pay a visit to refreshingly polite Skeptical Science as well as the amusingly named but pedagogically excellent Science of Doom.

    In particular, systematically going through the points brought up in the ill-fated WSJ letter via Skeptical Science’s resources would help avoid future embarrassments.

  20. 720
    MARodger says:

    Michael Kelly @ 678, 699 &709
    As the earliest to reply robustly to your comment @678, I feel you mistake an attack on stupidity for an attack upon yourself. Your comment begins by accusing this post and its commenters of ‘amazing error.’ You continued by introducing a subject that is clearly more appropriate on a different thread. This begs the question as to whether you had even read any of this post with its thread of 677 preceding comments!!
    I contend this is evidence of serious stupidity & thus I remain wholly unapologetic for my comment @680.

    You ask @709 for a “sober and dispassionate debate” on the issue of AGW “for the good of mankind.” We all wish that. The difficulty is the incompatible baggage lugged into the debating chamber by the differing sides. For one lot, AGW is the problem we face. For the other, the whole problem is the drastic actions required to address AGW.
    It is obvious such a debate is a scientific one. So how is someone to react when Akasofu is wheeled in to refute the entirety of the IPCC? Does Akasofu’s theorising (& 4 year-old predictions) even stack up? I say ‘no’ and see his citation as an act of yet more stupidity. (This is but an exemplar. See also the many Responses @709.)

    @709 you talk of the UK energy policy which is a tad off-topic on a science forum. But you talk of “madness.”
    The cost of energy efficiency measures that you are happy to be associated with (measures designed to keep the poor & vulnerable a bit warmer for less cost) stands at £60 per household per annum. The equivalent cost of the much-criticised policies to reduce emissions totals £20. In just a single year, the equivalent rise due to world fossil-fuel prices was £27
    a rise significantly lower than the rise in the previous few years.
    I think we would agree there is “madness” but again disagree on where to affix the label.

  21. 721
    Hugh Laue says:

    Michael Kelly: “the Club of Rome said in 1970 we would be out of minerals by 2000.”
    “Limits to Growth” (1972) made no predictions – only projections based on various scenarios. Club of Rome published the work – the world 3 model for this book was developed at MIT under the leadership of Dennis Meadows, one of Jay Forrestor’s former PhD students. This model gave results not very different from the world 2 model developed by Forrestor in his 1970 book World Dynamics. see
    The projections for the “business as usual scenario” have been remarkably on target as was shown in follow-ups 30 years later.

  22. 722
    dhogaza says:

    Michael Kelly:

    All the scientific facts on climate change are capable of another, non-Malthusian, interpretation.
    Malthus got it wrong on food: Jevons got in wrong on coal, many since 1895 got it wrong on oil; the Club of Rome said in 1970 we would be out of minerals by 2000.

    Indeed we may be grateful in 20 years for every tonne of CO2 that is staving off low temperatures and mass starvation that happened 300 years ago with only 1B on the planet.

    This may just be the most bizarre own goal by a denialist that I’ve ever seen …

    Climate science is wrong because Malthus and others were wrong about disasterous predictions and 20 years from now we’ll be glad all of this CO2 is saving us from Kelly’s disasterous prediction …

  23. 723
    Bernie says:

    What makes you think that “auditors” like those at Climate Audit would support Patton Boggs and the quashing of legitimate papers and data?

  24. 724
    dbostrom says:

    What makes you think that “auditors” like those at Climate Audit would support Patton Boggs and the quashing of legitimate papers and data?

    How about fundamental inconsistencies driven by ideological loyalty? Search “Monckton” on CA, see what you find.

    A CA lead article by an auditor working under the handle “JohnA” quotes Monckton:

    Monckton: I’ll show how the UN undervalued the sun’s effects on historical and contemporary climate, slashed the natural greenhouse effect, overstated the past century’s temperature increase, repealed a fundamental law of physics and tripled the man-made greenhouse effect.

    CA auditor JohnA: [Monckton’s] backgrounder in particular is a pretty good overview of the current state of the science, such as it is…

    Errors on Monckton’s part are attributed to “slips of the keyboard.” Terrific audit, really incisive.

    Search CA for “Don Easterbrook.” Nothing.

    Search CA for “Willie Soon.” Do you find an audit revealing the glowing cash trail between Soon’s climate activities and the fossil fuel industry?

    My idle fling about CA is because the outfit seems to be in reality the “Ideology Audit,” glaringly obvious given their approving stroking of Christopher Monckton’s comic antics. It’s true that diesel emissions are not within CA’s purview, so right you are that I might have found a better target.

    How about Watts’ site? WTFISUWT is a pretty eclectic. Let’s search “Patton Boggs:”

    Nothing Found
    Sorry, but nothing matched your search criteria.

    Search on diesel?

    The president’s fuel from algae idea – “Lower Than Pond Scum”

    Craziest carbon credit scheme yet – shooting camels in Australia

    Etc. So high on entertainment value, all over the map, but again basically ideologically driven.

  25. 725

    There must be somewhere for a sober and dispassionate debate to be had for the good of mankind

    Ok start with your state and federal congressional committees, maybe they can take some time out from their world shattering work of determining and intervening into the affairs of womenkind, to look at the affairs of mankind.

  26. 726
    Susan Anderson says:

    Michael Kelly,

    Among all the responses to the substance of your comment, many of them filled with information, and all the irritable responses to the style of your entry into this community, the most useful piece of advice, I think, is for you to take each of your scientific points over to SkepticalScience which has attempted to collate and enlarge on these oft-repeated memes.

    People who have been threatened in every possible way for doing their jobs and telling the truth no longer have patience for public advocates who promote disinformation, no matter how convinced those advocates are they have done their homework. I suggest a return to primary sources. I am of course guessing as to where you have acquired five years’ worth of knowledge without happening on mainstream science, but certainly you should take a good hard look at the IPCC, the real one, setting aside the transposition of 2350 for 2035 and other minor errors, and at books like Stephen Schneider’s Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save the Earth’s Climate and Mike Mann’s latest, and check out either Mooney’s Republican War on Science or Oreskes’ Merchants of Doubt. As long as you treat the substance of these materials as a tissue of lies, you are depriving yourself of real knowledge. Opinion sources such as Lomborg, Montford, and Monckton are worse than useless; on the latter you should take a good look at John Abrahams’ excellent sourcing of the material which exposes the many failures of fact in Monckton’s material.

    You with your academic skills should be better able than I am to distinguish between opinion and fact, but it appears to me that you might have bought the CRU hack wholesale and ignored the nine separate investigations, buying into the explanation that it is all one big conspiracy. If you wish to look seriously into the history, this site was hacked at the same time, and the top guys here spent all their free time for days answering attacks, here:
    (There are two more; remember this is about free speech!)

    It is our collective opinion, I believe, that you have bought a pig in a poke. You meet here a community under siege, who believe (and I with them) that real science is under attack, particularly in the US, and the methods of attack are as varied as some clever people can make them. One of these, “first among equals” is Frank Luntz; my quick search found this excellent Wikipedia article:

    “In 1994, according to a leaked memo, the Republican strategist Frank Luntz advised members of the Republican Party, with regard to climate change, that “you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue” and “challenge the science” by “recruiting experts who are sympathetic to your view.”

    What people are talking about here is able described in Wikipedia, while crowd sourcing is imperfect, it’s a good resources for community knowledge.

  27. 727
    Brian Dodge says:

    Speaking of Frank Luntz, he advised Republican politicians to call it “climate change” instead of “global warming”, because climate change is more neutral and less scary – after all, climate could change for the better, right? The denialists got hold of this, and accuse “warming alarmists” of using the term climate change to downplay the fact that warming has stopped, er, paused, er, uhm, slowed down. None of the denialists I’ve ever asked “when did the International Panel on Global Warming (IPGW, or IPCAGW if I’m feeling really snarky) become the International Panel on Climate Change(IPCC, since its inception under Republican President Ronald Reagan)?” has ever answered.

  28. 728
    David B. Benson says:

    Susan Anderson @276 — Well done.

  29. 729
    dbostrom says:

    Brian: Speaking of Frank Luntz, he advised Republican politicians to call it “climate change” instead of “global warming”, because climate change is more neutral and less scary…

    Sort of like the inaudible shift in airline safety briefings from “should the cabin depressurize” to “should cabin pressure change.”

    Nice point about the IPCC.

  30. 730
    Susan Anderson says:

    What was really interesting about the Wikipedia article was the part I left out to make my point; it appears Frank Luntz has changed his mind. Does anyone know if this is true? My screed was long enough without bringing this up – I was not fudging – but if true it is truly mindboggling.

    “In 2006, Luntz stated that he still believes “back [in] ’97, ’98, the science was uncertain”, but he now agrees with the scientific consensus.”

  31. 731
    Susan Anderson says:

    Focusing on completing the thought, the Wikipedia footnoted this:

    “So would you not back this paragraph if you were asked today?

    “Today I would not have that paragraph in a document I put out about the environment or about energy, because I think the two are very much intertwined.”
    “What would you do today? Say a group — doesn’t have to be a politician — hired you and said, “All right, Frank, now we need some language.”

    I’ve done it. I’ve done it in the last year. I’ve worked for a number of environmental groups. That would surprise people who know my career, who recognize me from Frontlines that I’ve done before. They’d be shocked at some of the organizations I work for.”

    “I believe in common ground, and I believe in a consensus. There has to be a way that we can be environmentally protective and not be anti-economy. There has to be a way that those who care about the future both from an economic standpoint and a environmentally responsible standpoint can be in the same room and find agreement that moves us in the right direction.”

    Then he backs off and denies responsibility … a true likewarmer

  32. 732
    Marcel Kincaid says:

    First non-scientist Burt Rutan and now non-scientist Michael Kelly has chosen to post to climate science blogs, publicly demonstrating their level of knowledge, intellectual honesty, and grasp of logic. I hope that the rest of the sixteen “scientists” who authored the WSJ editorials will likewise expose the world to their qualities. As an illustration of the quality level of these signers, let me summarize one of the most potent arguments given here by Mr. Kelly:

    It warmed locally somewhere a while back and we don’t know why, so it follows that we don’t know why the globe is warming now.

  33. 733
    Marcel Kincaid says:

    The former is madness, and would not have happened if climate alarmism had not had its day. When the lights go out, I, not your colleagues, will be hauled before Parliament to explain.
    There must be somewhere for a sober and dispassionate debate to be had for the good of mankind.

    With your “alarmist” ad hominem, you make it clear that by “dispassionate debate” you mean “agreement with me that there’s no need to be concerned about global warming”. But as you know from your five years of reading them, there are numerous forums where that sort of thing is available. If you want real dispassionate debate, change your habits and read the peer-reviewed climate science literature …

  34. 734
    dbostrom says:

    I’m not sure if Susan meant to coin a term, but “likewarmer” has -got- to have a niche in the lexicon of the climate change zoo.

  35. 735
    Brian Dodge says:

    “What has happened in the last 10 years that is worse than the average of the IPCC models…?” Michael Kelly — 4 Mar 2012 @ 4:50 PM

    They’re not the IPCC models, they’re models from various research climatology groups that the IPCC reports cite.*
    And those models have underestimated the observed expansion of Hadley cells and (probably physically related) the decline in subtropical relative humidity – which BTW gives a positive cloud feedback.

    *(And I’ll note in passing that no one has come up with a model that shows global warming ain’t dangerous, ain’t happening, ain’t due to CO2, or that the CO2 ain’t anthropogenic. If the Heartland Institute “a national nonprofit research and education organization” spent some of the money they get from the Koch Brothers on research to develop a model, instead of antiscience propaganda, they would probably get cited too. Basic physics says that they likely can’t come up with a radically different answer; the fact they haven’t published their model confirms that.)

  36. 736
    Susan Anderson says:

    Marcel Kincaid,

    Michael Kelly is a a senior professor at Cambridge University:

    Perhaps you meant “climate scientist”. No matter how angry their peregrinations make you (and me), characterizing other people in a way that does not fit prevents communication and turns off bystanders. I agree with you about the unhelpfulness of Dr. Kelly’s assumption of authority, but the problems with that lie elsewhere. There is too much namecalling between scientific disciplines, especially engineering.

    This business of who is qualified to practice and describe climate science is tricky. For example, physicists don’t agree even within physics. I think it important to limit oneself to saying people should not assume they have knowledge outside their own field unless they put in an equivalent effort to those practicing in the field.

    Doug Bostrom, yes, a typo. I’m not sure what “likewarmer” might be; while I like a good laugh this one eludes my sense of humor. You just reminded me I used to be fond of the phrase “faux angst” to describe artists who capitalize on negative emotion for fun and profit.

  37. 737
    Lotharsson says:

    For example, physicists don’t agree even within physics. I think it important to limit oneself to saying people should not assume they have knowledge outside their own field unless they put in an equivalent effort to those practicing in the field.

    I’d go further myself, adopting a maxim I saw elsewhere, because effort doesn’t automatically translate to competence.

    To paraphrase it: “If you haven’t published a peer-reviewed paper in a field, you aren’t qualified to buck the field’s consensus”.

    This sets a basic competence bar (arguably even too low, but you’ve got to start somewhere). You must be able to demonstrate that you are at least competent enough to publish once. And anyone who believes they have the competence to identify genuine issues with the consensus should be able to publish a paper specifically on those issues, which meets the bar.

  38. 738
    dbostrom says:

    Susan: I’m not sure what “likewarmer” might be…”

    Well, we have “lukewarmers,” those who kinda-sorta-agree w/climate prognostications in a precarious balance. There are the “denialists/contrarians” who fell off the fence onto the wrong side.

    Then there’s the “sure it’s warming but C02 is good for us” crowd, not deniers but “likewarmers?”

  39. 739
    Susan Anderson says:


    Excellent. The filters in my brain were working overtime not to see that.