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Free speech and academic freedom

Filed under: — rasmus @ 12 February 2012

Update: Some related concerns from deepclimate.org, 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. 151
    Dan H. says:

    Chris,
    Try this:
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp/plot/gistemp/trend
    Natural variability about a linear trend. Notice the periods of higher rises and declines?

  2. 152
    David B. Benson says:

    Dan H. @149 — Not periodic, merely oscillations.

  3. 153
    Hank Roberts says:

    Sorry for the digression, but don’t assume that all the variability is “natural variability” — the linear trend Dan H. posts is supplied by the woodfortrees software. Climate isn’t expected to warm _steadily_ from fossil fuel use; ups and downs are part of that response.

    What’s the actual data doing? There’s some variability.

    Are there detectable declines in global annual temperature in that data?
    You’d look at the statistics to say — variability is part of the data.

    Or, if you don’t do statistics, you might trust your lying eyes, if you didn’t know better than to do that.

    As Tamino put it recently, in an analysis removing much of the known natural variations:

    “None of the data sets shows any evidence that the global warming rate has changed recently. A truly fascinating result is that increased precision enables us to establish the statistical significance of a warming trend using a shorter time span than with unadjusted data. All five data sets show statistically significant warming since 2000….

    … That shows, with great clarity and impact, the real global warming signal.

    And, it should put an end to real skeptics claiming that global warming has recently stopped or slowed down, because real skeptics base their beliefs on evidence. I don’t expect it will have much effect on the behavior of fake skeptics.”
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/the-real-global-warming-signal/

    —-
    Sorry for following up the digression, folks.
    I just love the smell of red herring in the morning.
    I’m apt to follow it, any time, anywhere.

    Academic freedom and free speech.
    One big problem for that is people who take over a meeting and want their agenda, not the one people agreed to meet to talk about.

    Stuff happens.

  4. 154

    I rarely comment on these articles, preferring to read the discourse and hopefully learn something, however

    Dan H – I am really struggling to work out what sort of argument you are putting forward, as it appears to lapse into incoherence at times. Can you be more clear? It appears that you are deliberately prolonging this argument for no other reason than argument itself

  5. 155
    Chris Crawford says:

    Dan (@149), I looked at the chart of GIS temperatures you linked to; I’ve seen that data many times before. It’s quite clear: there’s a solid, undeniable upward trend. Sure, there are ups and downs; nobody denies the existence of natural variability in the measurements. What’s significant here is the strong upward secular trend.

    I don’t understand what point you’re trying to make. The obvious conclusion to draw from the graph is that temperatures are rising. If you’re arguing that there’s some variation in the data, and that this variation is somehow significant, then you are in need of a LOT of scientific training; those variations are what is called “noise” and they don’t mean much at all, because we’re talking about climate, not weather. Climate concerns what will happen over the long run, over time scales exceeding perhaps 30 years. The noise you see is all short term stuff.

    Moreover, I urge you to re-read my earlier post explaining the physics of heat capacity and the role that the oceans play in modulating surface temperatures. That should disabuse you of whatever misconceptions are motivating your concerns about the short-term fluctuations.

    Perhaps I have misinterpreted your statements; it would be good if you presented a clear statement of precisely what you think those fluctuations mean, or whatever you see in the GIS temperatures graph.

  6. 156
    Brian Dodge says:

    “This type of message control minimizes diversity of opinion”
    ” ‘ This also means that all relevant information must be included – not just those which support one stand.’ Is this why you have such a wide spread of views represented in the blogs linked in the right hand panel?”

    Opinions aren’t facts; views aren’t information; belief isn’t reality; lying isn’t debating; and the conspicuously contrived and often self contradictory denialist arguments aren’t a plausible alternate scientific theory, but barely a bag of handleless hammers.

    Limbaugh, Watts, Monckton, Lindzen, Inhofe, Cuccinellli, Santorum, and the rest of their ilk have global warming opinions derived from their political, social, religious, and economic beliefs, and they are free to express them – and I am free to point out that they are lying when they present these opinions or other made up Scheiße as fact, or science. All the National Academies of Science, major scientific societies, government advisory panels, and other groups have concluded based on the science that global warming is being driven by fossil fuel CO2 emissions and poses a threat to society worldwide.

    Even the American Association of Petroleum Geologists admits that “growth in human population has increased energy use. This has contributed additional carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases to the atmosphere,” “…climate simulation models predict that the warming trend will continue, as reported through National Academy of Sciences, American Geophysical Union, American Academy for the Advancement of Science, and American Meteorological Society.” and “…as a group we have no particular claim to knowledge of global atmospheric geophysics through either our education or our daily professional work.”

  7. 157
    Dan H. says:

    George,
    John and I went back and forth concerning seven “proofs” he put forward concerning global warming.
    - Accelerating sea level rise
    - loss of Arctic Ice Mass
    - shifting temperature zones
    - seasonal shift
    - temperature trend changes
    - acceleration in global land based glacial ice mass loss
    - PH balance changes in the ocean

    I agreed with him on 2 and 4; Arctic Ice loss and seasonal shifts, countered that there is not enough evidence to make claims on two, temperature zones and pH, and disagreed on the other three. SLR is not accelerating (recent data shows deceleration). The temperature trend change is lower, not higher. Glacial ice mass loss has eased recently, although we agree that this may be due to higher losses in the recent past, reducing the amount of ice available for melting.

    A few others have chimed in making erroneous assertions, but that is the gist of the argument.

    My main point is that if you want to convince people (i.e John to Balasz), you have to put forth credible arguments.

    [Response:Yeah, why don't you try that Dan.--Jim]

  8. 158
    notjonathon says:

    I’m sorry that this post has collected so many fervent trolls. Threats against climate scientists are real, and they are dangerous. Each of those threats costs those who are threatened energy, time and often money they can ill afford to spare. That so many of them continue to speak up in spite of the threats they receive makes them heroes in my mind.

    It’s true that on an individual basis, each of us must do what he or she can to mitigate his or her own contribution to global warming, but for humanity as a whole, it will clearly require the resources of government to avert calamities not yet experienced. But with Pappy O’Daniel populism proliferating, I am not optimistic.

  9. 159
    Ray Ladbury says:

    George, Regarding Dan H.’s argument, perhaps this will help:

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Gish_gallop

  10. 160

    #155 Dan H.

    You can’t understand the long-term effect on what the data is showing until you assimilate the impact of increased radiative forcing, which NASA estimates around 1.8 W/m2. All the evidence points listed have various degrees of validity in the scientific literature.

    Once you add the RF things begin to make sense. But you still don’t understand why the oceans ph balance changes when you add gigatons of CO2 each year.

    You’re still not seeing the big picture.

    The credibility is in the science papers. Your red herring festivals and straw-man building contests hold no credibility whatsoever. You’re just juggling air balls to distract from the radiative forcing.

    I’m inventing a new word for you: confusionist

  11. 161
    Chris Dudley says:

    I suspect censorship for ideological reasons is on the rise as well. Some time ago, Andy Revkin censored a post of mine because he thought I was revealing that Bjorn Lomborg is homosexual, something that was not my intent (I didn’t know, but it seems to be well known now) and my words might have been read that way and the post could have been offensive. Andy was doing his job (and protecting his friend) and I reworded.

    But this week, It happened again, this time with Andy protecting his friend Roger Pielke, but this time from criticism of his methodology, nothing personally offensive. http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/06/whats-a-science-teacher-to-do/?comments#permid=115

    Now, Andy is definitely influenced by flattery, he takes a shine to people who butter him up like Lomborg, Pielke, Norhaus or Smil and it is often not the quality of their ideas which bring them to prominence on his blog. And, he seems to have developed a personal animosity towards James Hansen who brushes Andy off when Andy is posturing. So, personal issues can be quite influential.

    But, when Andy starts to prevent other people from expressing ideas on the set topic (which ironically happened to be a take off on the recent realclimate post on teaching science) a deep betrayal of principles is going on. It is time to brush up on civics. Censorship is a no-no just like intimidation and death threats.

  12. 162
    Hank Roberts says:

    > confusionist

    “spreader” — used for trolling multiple baits, simulating schooling.

  13. 163
    Hank Roberts says:

    See, this brings us around to the topic.

    What to do in a lecture, or classroom, or meeting, when there’s one or two people present whose interest is in delay and confusion, who aren’t known to most of those present, and who are muddying the water while trying to sound like they are moderate, informed, helpful people? How do you handle it when the really good mimics show up, the smooth salesmen? These are paying jobs, for businesses threatened by good science or public health.

    This happens in public speech, in academia, and in work environments, as well as in lightly moderated shared writing like blogs.

    Someone whose interest is in dominating the discourse, hoping to fool enough of the participants by mimicry, copying the words and phrases used by informed people, but slipping in counterfactual claims.

    It’s often a dilemma.

    The high point of online writing — Usenet newsgroup software — handled this with killfiles. Each individual user maintained his or her own list, so it was possible to ignore any number of spreaders and keep a conversation going only with those interested in the subject. It was like being able to talk in a hurricane without being deafened. Wonderful tool.

    That’s not available in real academic meetings, or most blogs. And in a forum like this, done for an audience that (some of them) do want to learn the science, with participants like most of us who are trying also to learn and sometimes (like John R.) to teach — having the disrupters present is part of the exercise.

    Regrettably responding to the crap also educates the disrupters, particularly the clever mimics who are there to learn how to sound like scientists and pretend to be scientists.

    As they improve their act, they will lard in more and more false statements in each response, Gish-style.

    Pharyngula handles it explicitly:
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/plonk.php

    For any given forum, any time spent chasing red herring is distraction from the discussion. Damned hard not to go for the stuff when done in quantity.

    “For many species, the exertion expended to attack and consume a single baitfish is not worth its energy cost. But a single spreader rig can imitate 20 or more baitfish. Troll four of them and you have 80 lures in the water. Contrast this to your typical trolling pattern of 3 to 6 single lures. If you were a desperate, competitive, greedy, opportunistic predator, which would you find most attractive?”
    http://www.bongossportfishing.com/spreader%20bars.html

    Sad to say chasing widely spread bait encourages use of fake schooling tools.

    “Blah, blah, blah, blah, Ginger, blah, blah, blah ….”
    Woof.

  14. 164
    FP says:

    There is a Harvard Physicists that decided to run for a seat MA as a GOP politician. He just wrote this piece claiming that CO2 is not responsible for global warming. I am looking to see if anyone has already debunked his little article : http://www.mikestopa.com/2012/02/sixteen-concerned-scientists/

  15. 165

    #161 Hank Roberts

    I think it’s harder to deal with online. Especially when one must address an anonymous puff of airball fluff.

    When I’m in a room in person, people are willing to argue a point but as soon as it is put in context, all but the most hard core conspiracy theorists and ‘confusionists’ will still attempt to stand their ground.

    I’m not sure but I think the public nature prevents a great deal of attempting to stand on unsound conjecture.

    I have another talk this weekend to a private group and will poll the audience before and after.

  16. 166

    Being plonked by PZ is an asset, not a liability, Hank.

  17. 167
    Chris Crawford says:

    Hank Roberts @161 raises an excellent point. I have been participating in online discussions since about 1988 (when we were using dialup at about 2400 baud) and this is a perennial problem. The most effective strategy I have seen is an activist moderator who enforces rules about comment relevancy combined with a clear policy about topic drift. That wasn’t too difficult way back then when there weren’t so many participants. Nowadays, with the large number of commentators, it’s much more time-consuming to pull that off.

    Daily Kos implemented a complex plan for crowd-sourcing the evaluation of commentary, and it doesn’t work that well.

    I think that the best overall strategy is to deny absolute anonymity to commentators. They should be able to remain anonymous publicly, but their identities should be established by the moderators. In other words, readers of this blog would not know the identities of others, but the moderators would maintain a database of IP addresses of all commentators. This would, of course, require sturdy protections against hacking, which adds to the effort required.

    There are some blogs that require logging in via Facebook, WordPress, or Twitter accounts; these might be ways of confirming the true identities of commentators.

    The value of this lies in the threat of denying access to those who engage in FUD tactics. You can’t really come down hard on somebody for any single post, but it is possible to identify an overall pattern of behavior by an individual, and I think that a moderator could wield the banishment threat so effectively that the actual implementation would not be so onerous.

    Most importantly, this would prevent the use of multiple accounts by deniers. We know that there are paid disrupters hiding among the ideologically-motivated denialists; we’d want to identify and block these paid disrupters, which could be accomplished by seeing past all those multiple identities.

    While the elimination of anonymity from the Internet as a whole is a highly controversial issue, I think that the elimination of anonymity from selected regions of the Internet would do much to improve the quality of the information in those areas. RealClimate is a valuable resource of reliable scientific information, and I think it appropriate for the moderators here to exercise a firmer hand in maintaining a high signal to noise ratio.

  18. 168
    Esop says:

    Since we are on the topic of press coverage and the fact that the article quoted was in a Norwegian magazine: Today Norways major newspaper, Aftenposten, happily proclaimed over basically its entire front page that climate change had completely fallen off the radar for young people. The paper used to have a most excellent coverage of climate science, but has turned into something resembling a bona fide denialist rag over the last couple of years. According to the research quoted, concern over climate change had rapidly fallen from 2nd place and out of top 10 on the list of issues that concern the youth. Not surprising at all, unfortunately. If a topic isn’t somewhat related to FaceTube, it is of no interest to most young folks. In addition, the people interviewed for the article seem to have willingly absorbed most of the denialist propaganda: That there is still major “debate” among the scientists, cold winters, volcanoes emit more, etc. The only real science quoted was the latest info on the Himalayan glaciers. How odd.
    The paper is basically reporting on the effects of its and the rest of the MSMs substandard and misleading reporting over the past few years.

    Anything to discredit the science, it seems. Wonder if they will allow as much space for coverage of the developing Heartland scandal. I’m not holding my breath.

  19. 169
    SecularAnimist says:

    I have also participated in online discussions since the early 1990s starting with USENET newsgroups.

    FWIW, I think the best way to deal with deliberately disingenuous time-wasters is to stop pretending that they are “arguing” in good faith when you know that they are not. Don’t waste your time engaging with their repetitive dishonesty — that’s what they want, is to get you to waste your time. Just point out the fact that they are knowingly, deliberately and repetitiously dishonest.

    As the story of Rumplestiltskin illustrates, sometimes calling out a “troll” by his true name is enough to make him go away.

    Someone like “Dan H” knows that he’s not going to confuse or “convince” the regular readers here with any of his misleading and obfuscatory denialist claptrap. But he also knows that he can take advantage of readers’ desire to correct the “misstatements” that fill his comments to get them to waste their time on endless, pointless “arguments” over the most basic facts about climate change.

    Which is, of course, exactly where the Koch Brothers and the Heartland Institute and their ilk want everyone to be stuck, for as long as possible — rather than talking about what we urgently need to do given those facts.

    In the time it takes to compose a point-by-point rebuttal to the claims that Dan H. posts here — claims which he, of course, is already well aware are bogus — you could write a couple of emails to your Senators or Representative urging them to take action on AGW in whatever way you advocate.

    Which is a better use of your time?

    Which way do you suppose Dan H. — and the people who spoon-feed him his talking points — would prefer you spend your time?

  20. 170
    Hank Roberts says:

    > plonked by PZ is an asset

    Glad you think so :-)

    Seriously, there are various ways that respect the person while not letting the mistakes be propagated, all better than just hosting a catfight blog.

    Pharyngula and Deltoid handle bunk-spreaders differently:
    Pharyngula lists those plonked and why, with a link to their blogs if any; Deltoid creates a personal topic and restricts them to that one.

    Those get used once the host tires of dealing with the person (or for using sockpuppets, or other offenses), they’re filtering the person out.

    RC’s Contributors — often responding inline — focus on education or rebuttal about specific assertions or beliefs (they’ve corrected stuff I got wrong or didn’t understand well, which I’ve much appreciated). The RC sidebar “…With Inline Responses” links to those are most helpful.

    Tamino occasionally promotes some persistently mistaken idea to a topic to sort it out, as in Trend and Uncertainty

    All those, I think, work fairly well.

    They must take an awful lot of work by the hosts, though.

    I hope someone competent to recognize good programming eventually proposes somehow crowdfunding a better blog tool for this, I’d sure contribute. There are ways
    http://cultureconductor.com/2011/02/kickstarter-fundraising-myths-facts-and-alternatives/

  21. 171

    Regarding the Dan H.s of the world, and their masters, how despicable can one be to attempt to delay action on a life or death issue like this? It’s like deceiving the occupants that there’s no fire in a burning building.

  22. 172
    Ray Ladbury says:

    FP,
    Mr. Stopa’s effort is pretty poor. Frankly, I think the U. of MD should hang its head in shame for giving him his degree.

    Basically, Stopa trots out the usual denialist tactics:
    1)Say CO2 is a “trace gas”, and hope nobody sits down and does the math and finds that a typical 15 micron IR photon would pass within a wavelength of 10^15 CO2 molecules on its way out of the atmosphere. I know. I did the math. Did Mikey?

    2)Then he cites an absolutely meaningless measurement of a short-term trend–H2O in the fricking tropopause. Really, Mike? Really?

    3)Then he accuses climate scientists of “just going along”. This right here makes it really hard to imagine Mikey is a real scientist. Scientists are not known for being accommodating. Just ask my wife.

    4)And then he cites the Wall Street Urinal Letter, as if to say, “Look, I’m not the only moron.”

    Really, this is just a sad effort. I hope voters in MA have more sense than this.

  23. 173
    Michael W says:

    #170 Walter, the science says the globe is warming and we play a role. Calling it a life or death issue is hyperbole. Right this moment there are people dying from many things preventable. My cause is to bring food, housing, medicine, education, employment to people who need it (using all energy options available-I might add). I don’t come here saying “Walter you don’t support my cause and therefore you’re despicable.” Tolerance for other ideas will go a long way in moving the global warming conversation forward.

  24. 174
    dbostrom says:

    Another zinger by SecularAnimist:

    In the time it takes to compose a point-by-point rebuttal to the claims that [self-debasing chump] posts here — claims which he, of course, is already well aware are bogus — you could write a couple of emails to your Senators or Representative urging them to take action on AGW in whatever way you advocate.

    Catharsis in comments threads should be budgeted so as to leave energy for effective communication.

    Oh, and money helps, too: Climate Science Legal Defense Fund. It takes just a little over two minutes to help emulsify some of the oily, litigious mess now gumming up the work of folks such as Michael Mann, if you can afford it. If we’re learning anything from the Heartland Hemorrhage, it’s how relatively little money is required to steer the future. Should you have time and money, put a little of it where it counts.

  25. 175
    Michael W says:

    #168 SA I am grateful Realclimate engages people like Dan H, and Jeffrey. Blog authors with like minded commenters are a waste of time IMO. Let people throw questions out there regardless of their motivation.

    [Response:Negative. We ain't here for fun and games and we have every right to judge the intent behind questions and respond accordingly--Jim]

    The longer an idea stands up to criticism, the stronger it gets. If Gavin & Co. aren’t getting dissenters commenting, it would be in their best interest to go find them. Don’t look this gift horse in the mouth.

  26. 176
    Jaime Frontero says:

    Amazing trove at The Heartland Institute (see update to the OP).

    Let’s use it wisely…

  27. 177
    Chris Crawford says:

    Michael @174: you’re quite right that lively discussion, including serious disagreement, is vital to intellectual health. If you read some of scientific posts around here, you’ll see just that kind of thing. The problem arises when people with a political agenda invade a science blog and raise stupid issues that do not bring up any interesting scientific questions. If they would just peruse the pages of this blog, they’d find the answers to all their questions. But they’re not raising these questions out of scientific curiosity, they simply want to disrupt the conversation.

  28. 178

    #172–”Calling it a life or death issue is hyperbole.”

    No, Michael W. It’s factual. The main uncertainty is, “life and death” for how many, and where. (Not that these uncertainties aren’t import.)

    For example, consider the heatwaves in Europe in 2003 (30,000 premature deaths) and in Russia in 2010 (11,000 premature deaths.) These events most likely would not have occurred without the warming trend induced (in large part) by human GHG emissions. And it’s virtually certain that we’ll see many more such events in the future. That’s clearly a “life and death” issue.

    Similarly, widespread precipitation and drought anomalies–already apparently being observed, but in any case reliably expected to increase in a warming world–threaten to put agriculture under significant new stresses and pressures in the future. (As a current example, you may wish to Google the words “Mexican drought.”) Again, that’s clearly a matter of “life and death”–as perhaps you appreciate, given that you list bringing food to those who need it is one of your ’causes.’

    We don’t know what all the consequences are, and we won’t until we actually see what all happens. But there’s more than enough scientific information on potential consequences to know that “life and death” is a real stake in this global game of chicken. Some of the more ‘lurid’ predictions may be ‘hyperbole.’ But that the issue of climate change is a “life and death” one is certainly not.

  29. 179

    Michael W at 172, we disagree on whether global warming is a life or death issue. If you heed the science, it clearly will be a matter of life or death for many humans within a very short time frame and, in fact, already is for many species. Closing your mind and calling it hyperbole doesn’t make it so.

    What really interests me is that your post seems to advocate lying to advance or stall a course of action. How do you defend that?

  30. 180
    Michael W says:

    Walter, go ahead, ask the experts here if the body of science supports the claim of “deaths for many humans within a very short time frame”.

  31. 181
    Radge Havers says:

    Michael W

    Calling it a life or death issue is hyperbole.

    Well it’s not a politically correct thing to say, not a phrase I would use myself. But let me ask you, in what way is it not a life or death issue? Do you respond negatively to the phrase because the time scale is not immediate and the problem only inexorable?

    “If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back?” — Steve Wright

    Rhetoric and buzz phrases which target psychological weaknesses in reasoning require little effort to generate, and when applied with enough persistence and energy they can have an edge in the naive mind over the subtle difficulties of hard science.

  32. 182
    SecularAnimist says:

    Michael W wrote: “Tolerance for other ideas will go a long way in moving the global warming conversation forward.”

    Repetitive, deliberate lies are not “other ideas”. They are just lies.

    Michael W wrote: “The longer an idea stands up to criticism, the stronger it gets.”

    Repetitive, deliberate lying is not “criticism”. It is just lying.

    Look, I agree that there are people who comment here who have been deceived by deliberate liars, and are merely repeating what they’ve been told by others whom they mistakenly trust.

    And the moderators of this site, as well as the scientifically-knowledgeable commenters, have always given such people the benefit of the doubt — the assumption that they are themselves misinformed, and not deliberate disinformers — and have demonstrated the patience of saints in gently, politely, carefully and respectfully communicating the scientific facts to them. They’ve devoted a great deal of their time to that effort, in fact — so any suggestion that they are intolerant of actual “skeptics”, however ill-informed those “skeptics” may be, is baseless.

    But beyond a certain point, it becomes obvious that someone is not merely misinformed, but is a deliberate disinformer who is here to knowingly and intentionally repeat tiresome, thoroughly debunked falsehoods, distortions, irrelevancies, obfuscations and nonsense.

    And Dan H. has long since passed that point.

  33. 183
    dbostrom says:

    Heartland Institute stuck in the same old rut:

    “Those cigarettes may not be linked to cancer… that C02 may not be causing warming… our documents may have been altered.

    They don’t really know much, do they? Except, how to reliably feather their own nest with donor dollars. Sweet gig.

  34. 184
    Michael W says:

    #175 Jim, setting aside the obvious junk posts, what you call “fun and games” is my reason for coming here. I tend to think more along the lines of Dan H. and I like to see my issues objectively discussed. You can’t solve this climate crisis alone. Your going to have to speak to a lot of people who don’t agree with you. I don’t think this blog is here to convince the already convinced.

    [Response:You're missing the point. All these kinds of questions he raises have mostly been raised, and answered, over and over again until people are sick of it, as anybody knows who's been reading this blog for a while. We're not here to repeat the same stuff over and over to a new group of people with the same types of questions every other day, especially when those questions display a certain shall we say, detectable attitude or level of awareness. People are responsible for educating themselves to some level of awareness, and making an honest effort to understand some fundamentals, before they bring their questions. It perhaps appears to you that Dan H. is asking sensible questions, but the rest of us know the kind of malarkey, simplistic reasoning, opinions passing as scientific evaluation, and outright falsehoods that he often brings to the discussion. There's a huge amount of information available to the general public on this stuff, and you have to take the primary initiative to educate yourself.--Jim]

  35. 185
    dbostrom says:

    “…ask the experts here if the body of science supports the claim of “deaths for many humans within a very short time frame”.”

    Experts here, not so much, maybe. Experts elsewhere? A very short search reveals:

    An analysis led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health calculated that the city of Chicago could experience between 166 and 2,217 excess deaths per year attributable to heat waves using three different climate change scenarios for the final decades of the 21st century. The study was published May 1 edition of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

    “Our study looks to quantify the impact of increased heat waves on human mortality. For major a U.S. city like Chicago, the impact will likely be profound and potentially devastating,” said Roger Peng, PhD, lead author of the study and associate professor in the Department of Biostatistics at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

    Climate Change Analysis Predicts Increased Fatalities from Heat Waves

    What’s brief? What’s many? How many Chicagos are sprinkled over the surface of the globe, and can we confidently divide the continuum between now and the end of this century such that we may say many did not die in a very brief time?

    We’re immersed in a vast ocean of numbers. Learn to swim in statistics, or be ok with drowning.

  36. 186
    Deep Climate says:

    Your top link links to my recent post on recently released Heartland Institute documents (generating a lot of interest today). The post covers a number of topics, almost all of which remain in the current version (key projects, funding etc.)

    But all references to the “2012 Climate Strategy” document have been removed, as that one document’s authenticity has been vehemently rejected by Heartland. In most cases, it was a question of replacing the project description from one place with one from another place. However one quote (halfway down) dealt with Forbes magazine and “keeping voices out”. As the underlying document is in dispute, that quote has been removed.

    So the link may well be irrelevant now. (No need to post this if you don’t want to).

  37. 187

    “But all references to the “2012 Climate Strategy” document have been removed, as that one document’s authenticity has been vehemently rejected by Heartland.”

    Evidently, they don’t like it when people tell lies about them–if that’s indeed what happened.

    Imagine that!

  38. 188
    Mal Adapted says:

    Jim’s reply to Michael W. #184:

    [...There's a huge amount of information available to the general public on this stuff, and you have to take the primary initiative to educate yourself.--Jim]

    Michael, much of that information is available from this very website. It’s waiting for you to avail yourself of it.

  39. 189

    Michael W @184 “Setting aside the obvious junk posts…”

    Indeed.

    “I don’t think this blog is here to convince the already convinced.”

    I actually agree with that. Not being a mind reader, I suspect at least a portion of the motivation behind the blog is to give the interested layperson a window into developments in the field, including where the real debates are occurring.

    We’re well beyond the point of debating the role and effects of increasing CO2 concentrations. If you need that kind of convincing, well, maybe you need to take it upon yourself to get the education required to be a responsible citizen.

  40. 190
    Susan Anderson says:

    Just catching up on Heartland, very nasty, DeSmogBlog crash and all. Seems to be a mainstream news blackout on this. This needs publicity of every kind, it’s really horrible.

    Thanks, Doug Bostrom, you’re right it would make more sense to pursue people that matter rather than massaging my sense of outrage and talking about it to the choir.

    Nice trove at Tenney’s place, and no doubt elsewhere.
    http://climatechangepsychology.blogspot.com/

    DotEarth has a brand new post on it
    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/15/documents-appear-to-reveal-broad-effort-to-amplify-climate-uncertainty/#more-42763

    which appears at first glance to give undue weight (above the fold) to Heartland’s apology to its people rather than the substance of the rather horrifying (but not surprising) material. He says, too bad this attitude didn’t apply to the CRU hack, but goes on to give a sympathetic in-depth interview to Craig Idso.

    My amateurism is not up to properly calling this, but will go over there and try anyway, hoping not to do any harm on the way.

  41. 191
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Michael W., Ah, I see someone hasn’t been paying attention. Did you know that areas in severe drought have more than doubled since the ’70s?

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/JHM-386.1

    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/catalog/climind/pdsi.html

    Did you know that this trend was predicted by climate models and is expected to worsen as warming intensifies? Now, Michael, what do you think will happen when a significant portion of the planet is in drought in 2050 and we have 10 billion mouths to feed? Now add in severe and unexpected rainstorms that wash away harvests and topsoil, CO2 dissolved in the oceans that bleaches coral and leads to dead zones, depleted aquifers and a dearth of cheap energy. Do you really think a population of 10 billion will be sustainable under those circumstances? What population doyou think would be sustainable? Is the difference sufficient to get your attention?

  42. 192
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Deep Climate: “But all references to the “2012 Climate Strategy” document have been removed, as that one document’s authenticity has been vehemently rejected by Heartland.”

    Hmm, anybody else reminded of the scene in Austin Powers where he keeps telling Liz Hurley, “It’s not mine, Baby?”

  43. 193

    Thanks for the link Ray…it certainly fits the bill for Dan H

  44. 194
    dbostrom says:

    Andy Revkin describes the person he is going to interview about Heartland:

    ‘Craig D. Idso, one of the scientists whose financial relationship with the Heartland group…’

    A journalist describes a person about be interviewed about governance of Syria:

    ‘Bashar Assad, medical doctor whose financial relationship with the Ba’ath Party…’

    It does not seem as though the most informative descriptor of Craig Idso is that of “scientist.” Sure, Idso’s got his PhD in geography, but that has about the same relevance to his current career trajectory as does Assad’s MD to Assad’s role as regional secretary of the Ba’ath Party and President of Syria. Both men now seem primarily concerned with political ideology and its material benefits, not their original academic and professional pursuits.

  45. 195
    Susan Anderson says:

    On second thought, none of my business, but leave it alone, maybe? If we all leave DotEarth alone, it will be such an obvious hangout for the phony skeptic choir and they won’t have us to practice on.

  46. 196

    My amateurism is not up to properly calling this

    Then I can call it. He’s called an apologist.

  47. 197
    Dan H. says:

    Michael,
    Do you not find it ironic that the same people claiming others are spreading misinformation go on to claim that drought is on the rise, even though it has clearly decreased.

    [Response:Decreased where Dan? At what rate and since when? With what likely cause? Based on what drought definition and what data and what studies?--Jim]

  48. 198
    Russell says:

    Stopa recalls Lubos Motl . He writes code and administers the computers used in condensed matter modeling by Harvard’s nanotech group, and on his own time runs writes deathless political essays like :

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/12/obamacare_and_the_ratchet_theory_of_history.html#ixzz1j6gTR5UG.

    He also runs for Congress. Does that make him a politician ?

  49. 199
    Dan H. says:

    Sorry,
    Forgot the attachment.
    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/catalog/climind/pdsi_old.html

    [Response:Ah! Based on a web page describing a 15 year old paper citing 17 year old data! Why of course!--Jim]

  50. 200
    flxible says:

    DanH – The cites for your contention that “drought has clearly decreased”, and the time and spatial scale please. Or is this from “personal research”?


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