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PBS: Climate of Doubt

Filed under: — gavin @ 24 October 2012

The video of Tuesday’s PBS show on the politics of the climate debate is available – I make a minor appearance…

The PBS website has more background.

139 Responses to “PBS: Climate of Doubt”

  1. 1
    Leonard Evens says:

    At a certain point in the future, the Republican Party will accept that human activity is changing climate, and not in ways beneficial for Americans. It will disavow any connection with Tea Party activists and those currently in control of the Party’s policies in this matter. Unfortunately that will probably come too late to do any good.

  2. 2

    My perspective: Great production. Again we see balanced representation of the debate and an inability to get into validity in the science as the focal point. Good portrayal of how the ‘doubt and delay’ agenda was successfully implemented. The narrator did not get overly excited on either side of the issue which is generally considered good protocol. I hope no one attacks him for it.

  3. 3
    Craig Nazor says:

    Interesting program. Recently on NPR, I heard a lengthy news report on national energy policy, the economy, the presidential candidates, and the election, without ONE MENTION of anthropogenic global climate change. How can that topic be intelligently discussed without mentioning AGCC? It can’t. Compared to that report, this one is quite refreshing.

  4. 4
    Lloyd Flack says:

    Excellent program and rather scary in what it reveals about the influence of denialists on the Republican Party. Interesting that the denialists have sought to cow rather than win over the Republican leadership. They have apealed to the rank and file on this and have shut down debate within the Republican Party on this. In effect they have instigated mob rule within the Republican Party.

    I think the biggest gap in the prgram was that it did not deal with the part played by religious fundamentalism, in particular the Cornwall Alliance. Creationism encourages a distrust of science and this makes people fall for the denialists’ message more easilly. This, I am sure, is a large part but not all, of the reason why denialism is particularly strong in the USA. Another is the paranoid attitude many have towards the Federal Government.

  5. 5
    Lloyd Flack says:

    An excellent program. It shows how the denialists gained control of the Republican Party.. Rather scary how they have shut down debate on it within the party. Interesting how they did it. Basically they have instituted mob rule. They convinced the base and they in turn have cowed the Republican leadership. They do not appear to have tried to win over the Republican leadership, just intimidate many of them.

    The program does not go into the motivation of denialism and why the USA is particularly susceptible. They after all had only so much time for the program. Still, I wish they had gone into the Fundamentalist links of some organizations such as the Cornwall Alliance, especially since Spencer is a member.

  6. 6
    Edward Greisch says:

    This video is currently unavailable.

  7. 7
    Russell says:

    Since the camera was rolling at the expense of a Kendenda Fund pass through from the Tides Foundation, the narrator is to be complimented for keeping a straight face as Senator Kerry expressed his deep, deep, shock at partisan funding of climate polemics.

  8. 8
    no_name_please says:

    It was way past time for this show, but I actually don’t think it went far enough. I’ve read Michael Mann’s book, and Frontline didn’t come close to portraying the depth to which these people have gone.

    They’ve effectively made it so people feel uncomfortable even bringing the subject of climate change up for fear of making people mad. It’s not considered polite discussion anymore. That must change. And it’s completely unacceptable that the very people we elect won’t even respond to questions about climate change. What a bunch of cowards.

  9. 9
    Jim Eager says:

    Although I would have liked to see the motivation of the doubt warriors examined more explicitly, I did like the way that their spokesmen, and they were all men, were given ample rope to hang themselves with in their own words. Frankly, I’m surprised that they were that candid. These are professional media manipulators? It lowers my opinion of the media even further that they have been taken in so easily by these used car hucksters.

    It may have been minor, Gavin, but you came across quite well. Katherine Hayhoe was also very good, and it was great that they adapted the Skeptical Science “down the up escalator” meme.

  10. 10
    SecularAnimist says:

    Haven’t seen it yet.

    Did they mention that a great deal of the denialist propaganda machine (e.g. Heartland Institute) as well as most of the so-called Tea Party groups (e.g. the denialist “mob rule within the Republican Party” that Lloyd Flack refers to above) are heavily funded by the coal oligarchs, the Koch brothers — who also fund PBS, whose programs (for example a recent episode of News Hour) have presented deniers like Anthony Watts as legitimate “skeptical” voices in the “debate”?

  11. 11
    Tom Adams says:

    #1 I would not be so sure. There are locations in the USA, Republican strongholds, where climate change is having a big impact due to pest migration deforesting the landscape. The Republicans living and owning homes in these newly formed moonscapes tend to no longer deny climate change, but they still deny that it is caused by human activity. Not a good indicator that the Republicans will come around even after the impacts are large.

  12. 12
    Alexandre says:

    The issue is no longer scientific. It’s a PR war, and only one side is really good at PR. The other side gets yawns from the audience before they can say Downward Longwave Radiation.

  13. 13
    Jim Eager says:

    “It’s a PR war…”

    Nature doesn’t give a flying f… about PR and it always bats last, so they’re yawning at their own ignorant peril.

  14. 14

    I’ve noticed that all the scientists interviewed except for Gavin were forced to be dealing with the politics of climate science, exactly where the fake skeptics want them to waste their time. Contrarian bluster and luster vanished with his one small piece of science fact checking. I guess more science is needed, hopefully on a grander scale. Read me PBS??

  15. 15
    SecularAnimist says:

    Jim Eager, the “PR war” is not a war by the deniers against nature, or against science. Scientists make a grave error when they imagine that this is a “war” over science, that will be “won” in the usual scientific manner, by those whose theories and predictions are proved correct by the empirically observed facts of nature.

    It’s a war by the deniers against those who want to take the urgent action needed to phase out CO2 emissions that the science tells we must take if we are to have any hope of preventing the most catastrophic consequences of anthropogenic global warming.

    It’s a war by the deniers on behalf of those who want to rake in trillions of dollars in profit by perpetuating business-as-usual consumption of fossil fuels for decades to come and by obstructing and delaying the phaseout of fossil fuels for as long as possible — no matter what the cost to human civilization.

    And that’s the war that the deniers have been winning for a generation and longer, since the severity of the problem was well and widely understood, and the need for urgent action was recognized — during which time, fossil fuel consumption and its associated GHG emissions have not only grown, but their growth has accelerated.

  16. 16
    SecularAnimist says:

    wayne davidson wrote: “I’ve noticed that all the scientists interviewed except for Gavin were forced to be dealing with the politics of climate science, exactly where the fake skeptics want them to waste their time.”

    On the contrary — the LAST thing the deniers want is for scientists to be doing what James Hansen is doing, which is bringing the authority and credibility of their scientific expertise to the front lines of the “politics” and becoming powerful voices for taking action.

    Where the fake skeptics want climate scientists to “waste their time” is staying bogged down, going in circles in endless, repetitive, pseudo-scientific, pseudo-debates about what the scientific facts are, as though this were a genuine scientific controversy to be decided through the normal mechanisms of science.

    And unfortunately, the fake skeptics have been all too successful at that, in part I think because that’s the place where scientists feel comfortable — debating and discussing scientific issues, as opposed to engaging in political and policy struggles over the actions that should be taken as a result of what their scientific knowledge and understanding is telling us.

    It’s much like the ongoing thread on this site about sea-level rise, where a blatantly dishonest denialist troll has kept a bunch of knowledgeable people busily engrossed for days on end, repeatedly refuting falsehoods and bogus pseudo-arguments that have already been refuted millions of times.

    Imagine if instead of refuting that troll’s disingenuous nonsense with careful, detailed, patient — and utterly pointless — responses, all of those knowledgeable people had instead spent that time writing emails to their elected representatives demanding action to reduce GHG emissions. Now imagine that grassroots lobbying effort multiplied by the time and effort invested in zillions of similarly pointless “scientific rebuttals” to similarly dishonest deniers on blogs all over the Internet.

    THAT is what the deniers don’t want scientists to spend their time doing.

  17. 17
    Leonard Evens says:

    #11. My point is that eventually reality will win out, even for Republicans. But it may take 50 years, by which time, it won’t make any differences. The Republican grandchildren of today’s Tea Partiers my wonder what their grandparents were doing, but the Party will simply deny that they really ever opposed doing anything about climate change when they could.

    Or they will blame anyone else than themselves.

    Maybe I am naive, but I can’t believe that North Carolinians living in coastal areas are still gling to be denying sea level rise when they see their houses under water.

  18. 18
    john mcmanus says:

    My takeaway is the facial language . Climate Scientists are matter of fact: Dressler, Hayhoe. Deniers are smug but at the same time attention seeking. Singers demeanour shouts look at me! look at me!.

    I know who I trust.

    John McManus

  19. 19
    CRV9 says:

    I agree with Mr. John P. Reiman @2.
    I think that it is not always about indeologies. Many parts, it is about the green, money. Thing is that the sceptic avtivists can make a linging doing so. It is a billion dollar industry they have created from religious areas and tabacco areas, whereas the warmist avtivists can’t make any living doing this unless you’re a climate scientists. But then you’re too bust doing the real works. And the sceptics’d fight like hell because it is their livelihoods. too. That’s the big difference.

    However, I have to say that you’re getting your messages through or educating your surrogates. I’ve seen yahoo science forums for a while and I must say there are more people who can actually explain the science of AGW very well than before. Many are metioning this site, too.
    You know, forums like one at yahoo, cnn or other mediums are the places where real battles are fought.
    You should arrange your site to cater to them to equip them with good explanations and real science to counter the memes. Keep in mind “you feed a man once but teach him how to fish … ” something like that? Make sure you also tell your surrogates how to think in a scientific ways when you debunk sceptics’ memes. You can’t debunk every, each meme but if you teach people how to think, analyze in a scientific way. They can be on their way. Just my 2 cents.

  20. 20
    Jim Eager says:

    I’m aware of that, SA. My point was this will be a war with no winners. In the end no amount of profit will shield those funding denial from the consequences of their actions, but unfortunately, nature will inflict those consequences not only the participants in the war, but on the innocent as well, which means just about every species on the planet.

  21. 21
    Dan Lufkin says:

    I’ve been working on the physics of AGW since the mid-1960s (Bert Bolin was my thesis advisor) and I’ve now reached the reluctant conclusion that the Bad Guys have already won the PR war — the only war that counts.

    It will be a generation until the political will to do anything constructive can be resurrected and by then it will likely be too late to actually accomplish anything useful. Sure, I’m pessimistic, but I really don’t see any basis for rational optimism.

  22. 22
    Steve Metzler says:

    Unfortunately, the video is only accessible from a U.S. IP address (and all the networks have copped on to the X-Forwarded-For header trick. It was too well publicised). However, there are ways…

    I really liked the way Hockenberry had this barely disguised look of incredulity on his face when he was interviewing the AGW deniers. However, I would have liked to see them push the deniers a bit harder. For instance, it wasn’t evident when Monckton started making his first public appearances that he was a way-out-there conspiracy theorist, but now that he has shown his true colours of late… well, they could have got some mileage out of that. It won’t be long before the good lord becomes too toxic even for the likes of WUWT.

    Still, perhaps a portion of the public that was previously unaware of what’s really going on behind the scenes here has at least been afforded a glimpse of what the ‘motivated rejection’ of science looks like. But I won’t hold my breath.

  23. 23
    Hank Roberts says:

    > yahoo, cnn or other mediums are the places where real battles are fought.

    They may be real, or they may be bots there to waste your time and distract the audience. Track what’s posted — google the quoted string — and look at the timing when a new talking point starts to circulate, and how many copies of the exact same phrase appear day after day. You can’t fight the open end of the tubes, they’re just pouring out copies of stuff, no thought, no editing, nobody home there.

    Point to good answers — Skepticalscience is good for short clear answers.
    Look into where the stuff is being shoveled into the tubes. That’s the problem.

  24. 24
    Susan Anderson says:

    Fake skepticism needed definition at the start. Coby puts it simply thus (h/t Planet3.0):

    The Faux Skeptic – any study that in any way is consistent with a warming world caused by human activity is met with immediate and intense suspicion and scrutiny and ever escalating demands for more evidence. No assumptions of anything, no matter how reasonable, are allowed, everything must be derived again from first principles. Simultaneously, every vapid and transparently, embarrassingly wrong blog post put up on Watts up With That or Climate Etc is swallowed whole, pointers to the blindingly obvious refutations are either invisible or met with the disbelief described in the previous sentence.
    the hypocrisy of pretending to be a skeptic about everything except anything that goes against the scientific consensus.

    I was nauseated by the excessive and excessively polite coverage given to the contemptible Fred Singer (and others). Eli Rabett covered one of his many egregious performances here:
    “This is one of those strange little stories that you find Richard Lindzen crawling about at the bottom …”.

    A couple of useful answers extracted from this mildly interesting discussion:

    John Hockenberry: 
    Julie, I think the planet will answer that question. In many ways “Climate of Doubt” is the story of how difficult it is for a democracy to act in a crisis until the fire is in the stairwell. Coll says it well at the end of our story. Circumstances will move us forward if people on their own, can’t.

    John Hockenberry: 
    The saddest thing about this story is that we heard mostly absolute certainty and dismissive confidence among our skeptic friends while it was our scientist friends were quick to say that doubt is how science is conducted, people questioning each other’s work all the time. The doubt of the scientists was always real but was always about how much we know about the planet and need to know not about the trend of global warming.
    Their search for truth and quest to challenge each other’s findings was exploited as “debate” and “uncertainty” by people in the political world.

  25. 25
    Susan Anderson says:

    There was also inadequate mention of more direct forms of persecution offered to the best climate scientists and advocates and their families.

  26. 26
    Hank Roberts says:

    > we heard mostly absolute certainty and dismissive
    > confidence among [skeptics] … doubt is how science
    > is conducted, people questioning each other’s work

    “The best lack all conviction, while the worst. Are full of passionate intensity. Surely some revelation is at hand ….”

  27. 27
    Peter Backes says:

    I would say ‘thanks’ for that but I’m feeling a bit nauseous.

  28. 28
    Observer says:

    Forgive me if I sound trollish, but…

    I think it’s a big waste of time and sanity to convince hostile troglodytes on this issue. Those of you involved with science would spend your effort more productively if you’d work on investing and gaining financial and land assets. Life will get more competitive and expensive as climate change rolls out – there will be plenty of everything, but only if you can afford it.

    I can’t predict the details, but just step back. Add a modestly adverse condition to a balanced system. Now add competition for slightly less usable land, greater pressure from disease, etc. Those with cash, good land and a little political pull will be fine, the stragglers, less so. Lots of public hand-wringing and zero relief for the stragglers will ensue.

    Just make sure your research is as accurate as you are able to make it, make any public statements concise and factual and leave it. They can draw their own conclusions about the meaning of a half or 2/3 meter sea level rise, “unpredictable changes in storm intensity” etc. If you’ve put cash away it’ll be their problem, if you haven’t it will be yours.

  29. 29
    Isotopious says:

    I didn’t buy the premise.

    How can the Republicans, etc who are anti-global warming be used to explain “the silence” in the Democrats?

    All the examples were Republican, like Bob Inglis.

    Very unconvincing.

  30. 30
    PeteB says:

    I thought it was good

    One suggestion – rather than relying on (or as well as) the 97% of climate scientists survey I would use the argument from wikipedia on scientific opinion on climate change :

    …National and international science academies and scientific societies have assessed the current scientific opinion, in particular on recent global warming. These assessments have largely followed or endorsed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) position of January 2001 which states:

    An increasing body of observations gives a collective picture of a warming world and other changes in the climate system… There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.
    No scientific body of national or international standing has maintained a dissenting opinion

    I think it is easy for contrarians to raise doubts in the viewers / readers mind about one survey (however legitimate or not these doubts are) but it is less easy to dismiss all the worlds National and International scientific bodies.

  31. 31
    Jim Larsen says:

    17 Leonard E said, “Maybe I am naive, but I can’t believe that North Carolinians living in coastal areas are still gling to be denying sea level rise when they see their houses under water.”

    Admitting an asset is toxic drops its value. Scale to a coastal plain.

    20 Jim E said, ” In the end no amount of profit will shield those funding denial from the consequences of their actions,”

    Just barely, in a “Oops, I was wrong and my descendants and my planet will have a mess to clean up. Fortunately, everyone will have flying cars and jetpacks and all sorts of nifty things, so they’ll solve it. There, no worries.”

  32. 32
    Susan Anderson says:

    The aforementioned Rabett link is about how Singer bullied Revelle into an exhausting meeting that could be misrepresented after Revelle’s death. The reference to Lindzen distracts from the actual subject, Singer’s appalling behavior, my apologies.

    How did Singer persuade people he is a climate scientist, let alone a credible scientist? My Dad, who generally tries to stay out of all this (he’ll be 90 in December) wanted to know.

    The problem of demonstrating what expertise is not endangers us all as people appoint their own expertise regardless of truth and reality.

    [Response: Because people love to be told what they want to hear. Singer has no credibility among scientists, but his avuncular stage persona is effective if there is no one there to point out the BS. – gavin]

    [Response: What Gavin said. -mike]

  33. 33
    Alexandre says:

    Re SecularAnimist

    I agree. I support not only scientists, but institutions like NOAA, NASA, USGS and the like endorsing a public campaign, with statements as simple and direct as we see in the tobacco issue in some countries. Things like billboards or full page magazine ads, with messages such as:

    “We thought Arctic sea ice would be as low only in fifty years. It’s going now.”

    “Remember last summer’s heatwave? That will be our mild summer in 2060. Protect our children’s future. Stop global warming.”

    “40% of our freshwater comes from that glacier. Protect our water. Stop warming.”

    The general public is NOT currently aware of the position of these institutions, and that helps only the denier campaign. Elaborate public statements buried in the middle of a very technical website (such as NOAA’s) have a very limited effect when it comes to PR.

  34. 34
    J Bowers says:

    It’s a shame Myron Ebell’s transcript isn’t available to read at PBS. When asked if he turns out to be wrong what would he do, his response was that he’d say sorry. Very big of him. That’s all okay, then. No hard feelings.

  35. 35
    Edward Greisch says:

    It played for 11 seconds.

  36. 36
    SecularAnimist says:

    Jim Eager wrote: “My point was this will be a war with no winners. In the end no amount of profit will shield those funding denial from the consequences of their actions …”

    The fossil fuel oligarchs who are ultimately responsible for the generation-long campaign of denial, deceit, obstruction and delay are the type of personalities who are willing to risk a great deal of other people’s money, resources, well-being and lives for even a small chance of winning great riches. They are gamblers. They are accustomed to getting the prize when they win, and sticking other people with the losses when they lose. That’s how they see global warming.

    They are mega-sociopaths. It literally means nothing to them if billions of human beings starve. As long as there is a plausible chance that a world devastated by unmitigated global warming will still have the resources to support one percent of the current human population, their strategy is to go for it — and to accumulate enough wealth and power to ensure that they will be in the richest and most powerful one-tenth of one percent.

    The rest of us are feedstock for Soylent Green, as far as they are concerned.

  37. 37
    Tom Adams says:

    #1, first you need to understand what I a saying. I am saying that lots of people in the U.S. believe that global warming is occurring and that this warming is not caused by human activity. 25% of Obama supporters believe this:

    25% is also the value for the general population.

  38. 38
    Tom Adams says:

    Frank Luntz thinks that we should be making the argument to US voters that switching away from fossil fuels is necessary for US security and will eliminate all non-greenhouse gas pollution from fossil fuel use. It’s possible to transform US energy policy without bothering to convince a single skeptic or denier.

    [Response: What Frank Luntz thinks? Or Says? This argument doesn’t hold water. If these were the only considerations, it would be an equally good argument for developing all available conventional and unconventional fossil fuel reserves, mining the oil sands, drilling increasingly deep for petroleum, and continuing to blow up the tops of mountains to get at the coal treasure that lies beneath. And of course, natural gas. If you don’t somehow account for the externalities,, i.e. the costs of the damage done to the environment, then national security issues alone do not take us in the direction we need to go as far as climate change mitigation is concerned. -mike]

  39. 39

    An excellent account of the history explaining why we are where we are today.

  40. 40
    Fred Magyar says:

    Craig Nazor@3 Re: recent NPR program on energy policy and the economy.

    I listened to the same program and seriously considered picking up the phone and calling in to comment.

    However, I decided it would be a complete waste of my time.

    My personal opinion is that one can’t have an intelligent conversation about energy policy and the current economic paradigm without addressing these topics from a systems analysis perspective.

    IMHO, it would probably be necessary to address issues such as human population dynamics, ecological overshoot, resource limits and the limits of natural sinks for pollution and waste streams that our global industrial civilization produces, etc… That, BTW, is just the tip of the iceberg!

    Humans have built up very complex interconnected systems mostly dependent on the highly concentrated, and until recently, relatively inexpensive, energy contained in fossil fuels.The EROEI of these fuels is now in rapid decline.

    The vast majority of our leaders be they political or from corporations together with the public at large don’t seem to understand that all economic growth depends on continued access to high EROEI fuels coupled with a virtually infinite capacity to absorb our waste streams. Neither of which are available in the real world! The ‘Economy’ is a wholly owned subsidiary of nature and is subject to natural laws, the objections of politicians and economists, notwithstanding.

    The way I see things is that collectively we find ourselves facing a series of predicaments wrapped within multiple dilemmas.

    Granted that in the grand scheme of things perhaps our impact on the planet is still within an order of magnitude less than the changes brought about by O2 producing cyanobacteria circa 2.5 billion years ago. Collectively our capacity to change our final destiny may not be much greater than a vat containing Saccharomyces cerevisiae happily fermenting the sugars from barley and hops.

    I’m with Paul Cherfurka here: Climbing The Ladder Of Awareness,

    Trying to find solutions and impose them on the population at large is a highly suspect endeavor and it is probably as frustrating as attempting to teach pigs how to rollerskate… the only result is that it pisses the pigs off! >;-)


  41. 41
    Jim Eager says:

    Again, SA, I don’t disagree with your characterisation of the oligarchs, but the one precent’s assets will crumble and vapourise along with all the rest. Only those who die before that happens will avoid feeling the consequences.

  42. 42
    Jim Larsen says:

    29 Isotopious asks, “How can the Republicans, etc who are anti-global warming be used to explain “the silence” in the Democrats?”

    Because Democrats always let Republicans frame the debate, including what to debate, the phrases and labels to use, and the meanings of words. Democrats politely mentioned that they’d like to talk about the issue, if it wasn’t too much trouble. Republicans ignored them and kept talking about Important Stuff.

  43. 43
    CRV9 says:

    Sceptic activists’ main intended target is the general public. That’s where votes count. All those their conferences and meetings and websites are their training grounds, school. Rhetrics and talking points are not effective without ‘solid’ explanations to back them up. Then they bring them to the public using every public means.
    Thing is this is a self sustained machine because there is money in it. That’s why it is very strong religious flavor to it. Do you remember a Florida preacher who declaired end of days? And he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to pot billboads up and formed a caravan to traveled up to the New York. Many people said he was a fool, nutsjob, … but he collected several million dollars in donations, tax free.
    That elements are latched on this issue. They are diversifying with their potofolios. They did with seatbelts, tabacco, evolution, science in general. Do you know how much Gren Beck makes? Do you know how much money what other guy’s name? makes? That’s why sceptics are closely connected to them because the activists can make a linging doing this.
    Sorry, this is really nothing to do with the main issues or the video. But you’d have to know who you’re debating to. Who you want to convey your messages? You can’t mix them up. Who you’re fighting against? It is not only the fossil fuel industry or ideology. It is part of their(activists) livlihoods.

  44. 44
    BillS says:

    Re: L. Evens, #1 & #17

    If it were only climate science that some Republicans (and more than a few Democrats) deny/ignore/dont’ believe (chose your verb) your prediction just might come true. But it’s not just climate science, it is SCIENCE that is being denied as an acceptable method for explaining the world about us.

    This anti-science strain is nothing new in this country and, with declining educational achievement in science and mathematics, it is not likely to disappear–ever.

  45. 45
    Tegiri Nenashi says:

    Tu late, our children would blame conservatories for what they have done.

    I liked the question “What if you are wrong”? He nailed this oil sucking troglobyte right into the head. I’m gonna use this every time anybody tries to play fancy with questions. Because I’m impotant.

  46. 46
    Tom Adams says:

    #38 Luntz does not address your logic that exploiting all fossil fuels would have the same result. But it seems to me the the argument against that is that it’s a short term strategy because fossil fuels are finite. And the price of the fossil fuels would still go up since it’s set by a global market when trade is functioning; the cost will go up as well. Also, incentivising US fossil fuels is a market distorting action.

    Concerning “It these were the only considerations…”, Luntz is just saying that there is more than one way to skin a cat. The fact that there is more than one way to skin a cat is of course not the only consideration in skinning a cat.

    Also, we a new expensive infrastructure for non-fossil sources. The argument that gets that funded is a good argument. National security based arguments for large infrastructure project have a good track record in the US. Infrastructure can tilt the cost equation, perhaps tilt it over a tipping point.

    Centrist politicians (blue dog Democrats and the few centrist Republicans still left) in the US need talking points that will allow them to win elections and vote against fossil fuels and in favor of alternatives. These guys have to win elections in areas with lots of anti-AGW voters.

    How does Singer do when he tries to argues in favor of the mercury in your babies brain from a coal fired power plant?

    I don’t think we should rely only on the strategy of trying to convince the US voter to believe in AGW.

    I am assuming that the goal is preventing dangerous climate change. The goal is not merely to convince people that the IPCC is right, that’s just one possible means to the end.

  47. 47
    Phil L says:

    J Bowers #34: The full transcript is on the PBS Frontline website.

    JOHN HOCKENBERRY: What if you’re wrong?
    MYRON EBELL: What if anybody is wrong in this debate?
    JOHN HOCKENBERRY: What if you’re wrong?
    MYRON EBELL: Then I’ll have to say I’m sorry and I wish we could speed up our efforts to reverse the policies that we have supported here at CEI.
    JOHN HOCKENBERRY: [voice-over] Apologies or not, inaction has consequences.

  48. 48
    Tom Adams says:

    #47 Looks like “What if you are wrong?” is a great question to ask. It seemed to trip up Ebell.

    But Singer would probably smugly say “I am not”. I wonder if that would work?

    Any data on how the deniers deal with that question?

  49. 49
    Isotopious says:


    Weak, weak. While there is some argument that Obama is trying to woe some swing voters /Reagan Democrats, it’s just as likely he will lose votes due to his silence on climate. Just as likely he will lose simply because no one will bother to vote. Thus, there really is no credible reason not to make climate a large plank of the campaign.

    I’m afraid the program lacked any objective basis whatsoever…. It’s garbage.

  50. 50
    flxible says:

    “…. national security issues alone do not take us in the direction we need to go as far as climate change mitigation is concerned …. ”
    The direction we need to go is to convince enough “important people” to get cracking, and national security is a great motivator in the USA.