ClimateDialogue: Exploring different views on climate change

The project leader is Rob van Dorland of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), a senior scientist and climate advisor in the Climate Services section and is often active at the interface between science and society. The second member is Bart Strengers. He is a climate policy analyst and modeler in the IMAGE-project at the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) and has been involved in the discussion with climate skeptics for many years. The third member is Marcel Crok, an investigative science writer, who published a critical book (in Dutch) about the climate debate.

We welcome comments here and are happy to answer any questions regarding this project. You can also send an email to info [at] climatedialogue [dot] org.

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282 comments on this post.
  1. Pete Dunkelberg:

    > Or, better yet, let’s just get beyond the debate and solve the problem :)

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan

    + 10

  2. flxible:

    Further to SA’s comment @97, the “initiative” here is not a “future study on climate change” [that ‘sceptics’ would be included in] as the govt requested, it’s a discussion of the interpretation and conclusions that might be drawn from past studies. I hold as @ 22 that this is an attempt by the govt to generate defensive material against the proposed lawsuit for “human rights violations” by inaction on climate change. The “Dialogue” will prove that there’s too much “debate” in the scientific community to justify wasting govt and taxpayer resources on solutions to an uncertain problem. It’s past time to get the courts involved, the sceptics have had their day.

  3. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by Didactylos — 16 Nov 2012 @ 9:04 AM

    You say- “This thread seems a lot shorter than it was yesterday.”

    Yes, your comment on 15 Nov 2012 @ 6:02 PM, went to outer space. Boring goes to the Bore Hole and totally insulting is usually deleted with a comment but, although I don’t especially agree, your comment doesn’t seem to fit the go away category. This happens from time to time for no reason, so I am curious. For example, later in this thread a comment by Dave Rado on 15 Nov 2012 @ 6:48 PM also was disappeared. Is this a software problem?


    [Response:I also noticed the disappearance of the quite reasonable Dave Rado comment. I don’t know how that happened, but I’m bothered by it too. We are looking into it. Hopefully it was just a technical glitch. –Mike]]

  4. sidd:

    “Response: You said: “…it will achieve nothing but delay on mitigation efforts, as it is designed to.” Perhaps you can explain to us all what other possible meaning “as it is designed to” might have?–Jim”

    The design is to waste time, energy, attention and money which might otherwise be available to enlist in immediate mitigation. Other commenters have pointed out, and I mostly agree:

    Mr. Nazor: “…it postpones action…”
    Mr CM: “…give impetus and legitimacy to a political campaign against inconvenient science, and add more bogus objections for IPCC authors to respond to…”
    SeculaAnimist::… designed to undermine the scientific case for prompt and urgent mitigation efforts…”

    [Response:The assertions of others here are not evidence for what you claim.–Jim]

    I do not, as I have stated, wish to impugn the character, competence or intent of the participants in the forum.

    [Response:You’ve already done so, by accusing them of intending to slow mitigation efforts.–Jim]]

    Some good may come of the dialogues there, but I feel that the effort is misguided, and could be better directed elsewhere. That is the design, to distract and subvert work toward immediate mitigation.


  5. Susan Anderson:

    PAber, your recommendation of Anthony Watts does your scientific credentials no good. Once again, may I suggest you identify your field within physics as you claim authority? As I said before, real top line physicists with healthy egos prefer not to claim expertise outside their own knowledge, so there is no shame in saying what you don’t know. There is, however, shame in claiming to know what you don’t.

  6. tokodave:

    I see Tamino has checked in on this thread. I tried to post a suggestion, which disappeared into cyberspace, before he checked in that I’d be more interested in the “dialogue” if he were the moderator… For the upthread comments on drought, Jeff Masters blog has some interesting thoughts today.

  7. SecularAnimist:

    Jim replied to sidd: “You’ve already done so, by accusing them of intending to slow mitigation efforts.”

    What I understood sidd to be saying, and certainly what I have been saying, is certainly NOT that Bart Strengers and his colleagues are “intending to slow mitigation efforts”, but that they have been drawn in to a “dialogue” with pseudo-skeptics as the result of a political mandate to do so, and that mandate WAS driven by those who wish to weaken (or distract from) the scientific case for the urgent need for mitigation, and thereby slow mitigation efforts.

    I don’t see anyone here accusing Bart Strengers et al of bad intent. But this would not be the first time that good people of good intent have been manipulated and/or pressured into counterproductive activities by those of bad intent.

    [Response:Thanks for clarifying it Animist, that helps.–Jim]

  8. Jim Larsen:

    Perhaps the dialogue should adopt some techniques from peer review. Before a paper is published the editor and reviewers make comments and suggestions for improvements. Similarly, the moderators and other participants could vet posts prior to the public seeing them. Thus, things like Curry’s snow albedo error could have been caught. That’s very important, as the current format will surely leave many folks with the impression that Curry’s statement is correct. If a statement isn’t correct and substantiated, or clearly labelled as opinion or conjecture, it shouldn’t see the light of day.

    The potential value of the forum is to force “skeptic” scientists to up their game and to get them on record. As there are only a few “skeptic” scientists out there, this sort of technique could be quite productive.

    And again, just because the Dutch Parliament didn’t say “include alarmists”, I think it’s vital that they are also included. Every discussion should have at least one representative from each camp: skeptical, mainstream, and alarmist.

    I suggest taking a Mulligan and redoing the sea ice dialogue before taking on the next subject.

  9. CM:

    I should make clear that in the comment Sidd quoted, I was opining on what the approach taken by the Dutch parliament would lead to, I was not claiming anything about the intents or designs of the ClimateDialogue team, which would seem to be diverse in any case.

    I’d commend the CD team for turning a liability into an opportunity. Just imagine how the wrong people *could* have used a government mandate to involve the “skeptics”. Whether that sow’s ear can be turned into a silk purse, we’ll see.

  10. Philippe Chantreau:

    “The next topic will be on Sea Level Rise: who would you suggest?”

    Scientists who have applicable academic background and have been actively researching and publishing on the subject for some time up to the present: I’d say about 8-10 years (or more), leading to current ongoing activity in the field. Someone who published papers 15 years ago and has since been only in academic roles or doing opinion pieces would definitely not be a suitable candidate. Someone with a limited history of research and publication on the subject should be ruled out as an expert. Those are objective criteria that can easily be laid out to the public following the debate. A list of their credentials and publications should be provided.

  11. Susan Anderson:

    I see Secular Animist has made the objection clear, and I think that’s just about right.

    Bart Strengers appears to be operating in good faith, and I would comment that he should take note of the storm of difficulty obstructing his efforts because his organization chose the publicity-seeking Dr. Curry. Her previous actions and statements have taken up the time and energy of a number of people whose work would be better spent on real science. Checking credentials and following through on inadequately supported statements, as well as responding politely to personal attacks and claims of persecution are not the best way to do science, but it was necessary because she would not answer technical questions and claimed persecution to duck any and all serious response by the community. She has therefore become a red light to a lot of intelligent hardworking knowledgeable people.

    I’m not sure who remains in the fake skeptic community who has good scientific credentials – and that should give anyone willing to give the manufactured controversy more air time pause. There are increasing questions about the legitimacy of spending time and resources answering the clamors of a worldwide PR effort financed by very big money and vested interests. However, surely if there are legitimate questions still to be asked, a more credible representative can be chosen, with less limited scientific background. If there are no such people, that should tell a story, shouldn’t it?

    I understand the other two scientists are credible, so why dilute them with the incredible?

  12. Hank Roberts:

    > who you think we should invite to take part in the
    > discussions on our site. The next topic will be on
    > Sea Level Rise: who would you suggest?

    A reference librarian familiar with the science journals, competent to find relevant cites and comment on papers cited.

    A moderator who can do followups (for example when a participant doesn’t give a direct answer, or doesn’t cite a source sufficient for a librarian to locate the reference.

  13. michael Sweet:


    You are in a difficult position. You have my sympathy.

    I think you should choose three scientists who span the range of published views on a subject. Only peer reviewed publications should count. Choose one scientist at the low end of the range, one in the middle, and one at the high end of the range. If there are no skeptical, published scientists then the full range of scientific opinion has been sampled. It is not necessary for professionals to debate with amateurs in an organized forum, that validates the amateurs unsupported opinion.

    One point that needs to be made is the many topics where no skeptics exist. The government should be told scientists agree and no valid skeptic position exists.

  14. sidd:

    To clarify: I agree with SecularAnimist’s comment of the 16th of November, 2012 at 1:49 PM and with that of CM on the 16th of November, 2012 at 2:28 PM


  15. Nick Palmer:

    Michael Sweet (comment 113) makes a good point: “One point that needs to be made is the many topics where no skeptics exist. The government should be told scientists agree and no valid skeptic position exists.”

    It is a useful addition to my suggestions in comments 88 and 90

  16. Camburn:

    Excellent idea which should be very procutive.

  17. andrew adams:

    I do think that this could be an interesting and worthwhile project and it’s unfair to dismiss it based on the evidence so far (or on the basis of something one of the contributors wrote several years ago).

    Of course its success will ultimately depend on the topics and the particular expert contributors which are chosen, but there are issues where there are genuine uncertainties and as a layman I find it interesting and useful to see a genuine discussion between experts in the field. The arctic ice seems to me to be a good example of such an issue, and other subjects which have been mentioned such as drought and SLR also seem to me to be worthy of discussion.

    I do think that making it a “skeptics” v “warmists” thing would be a bad idea, but it’s right that there should be as wide a range as of views as possible whilst still sticking to credible viewpoints put forward by people with a serious publication record on the subject in question. That doesn’t mean seeking “skeptic” viewpoints just for the sake of it.

    Clearly people see Curry as a controversial choice for the arctic ice topic. I’m hardly her greatest fan myself but AIUI she does has done research and published papers on the subject, and I have found on her blog that when she sticks to the narrow range of subject where she actually has some expertise she is capable of talking sense. So I don’t think it was unreasonable for the organisers to aske her to contribute, although in hindsight given the quality of some of her arguments it’s not looking like such a good idea. I certainly agree with those who think her initial “uncertaintly” statement meaningless and I found her reply to James Annan just bizarre.

    (apologies if there are multiple comments – problems with reCaptcha)

  18. Rob Nicholls:

    I think it is good to encourage people to reach out in a spirit of friendship across the divide between those who accept the mainstream consensus on climate change and those who don’t.

    However, I am worried that a debate between one or two of the vast majority of mainstream scientists and one of the handful of qualified dissenters with unusual views will just end up with fake balance (and we have endless news outlets that already serve this dubious purpose).

    From my point of view, ClimateDialogue could serve a useful purpose if it allows a truly balanced view of the current scientific literature to become apparent, by allowing one contributor to demonstrate clearly that the other contributor’s views are entirely out of line with science where this is the case. I’m not sure whether this will be possible. The truth may end up appearing to be in the middle between the opposing views when it so often is not.

    I suppose ClimateDialogue might produce a comments section with a mixed set of commentors, which I for one would like to see (in the websites that I’ve seen, the comments sections are pretty polarized either one way or the other for fairly obvious reasons…It’s a shame there aren’t more comments from those who broadly agree with the scientific consensus on WUWT, as the people who hang out there might really be helped, but I don’t personally have the expertise or the stomach for it).

  19. Aaron Lewis:

    For sea level rise put on somebody who knows the climate science, an expert on risk management, and engineer, and an expert on public policy.

  20. Hank Roberts:

    > the many topics where no skeptics exist.

    You can find _anything _ on the Internet.

  21. Eli Rabett:

    Sea level rise: James Titus on effects, James Hansen (who was one of the first to think about the problem) on causes

  22. Eli Rabett:

    Jim Bouldin, who Eli respects states:

    “[Response:The fossil fuel interests have nothing to do with this initiative or dialog. Judith Curry is only one of the three experts.”

    Eli points to three words Royal Dutch Shell

  23. David B. Benson:

    Sea level rise: ask Carl Wunsch if he would be interested.

  24. Ray Ladbury:

    I am afraid that this effort is misguided for the simple reason that the scientists are bound by the scientific method, while the denialists–they are not skeptics–play Calvinball. I think folks like Judy feel that science limits their creativity too much. I cannot imagine what she could contribute to the conversation beyond exasperation.

  25. Tenney Naumer:

    I agree with Jim Larsen that there should be a do-over on the sea ice discussion.

    The inclusion of Judith Curry as an “expert” on sea ice is frankly appalling. She is rather an expert on bizarre and inaccurate statements on this and that and the other, none of which has moved science forward one whit.

    Let there be a discussion between those whose views are considered extreme by the mainstream — let those who think the sea ice will remain until 2040 discuss their reasoning with those who think it will be gone by 2015.

    Now that would be a climate discourse worth having!

  26. Tenney Naumer:

    @ Aaron Lewis re no. 119

    Please, just so long as they do not include Pielke fils. Isn’t there anyone else doing better work?
    Why not bring in the reinsurers?

  27. dbostrom:

    Not to be too negative or harsh but the objectives of this project seem remarkably naive, uninformed by recent history. What’s the planned duration of the discussion? Another 20-30 years? Can we expect to hear a conclusion offering some direction? If not, what is the point of repeating what we’ve already been doing for decades?

  28. wayne davidson:

    The way CD is working out now makes it possible for any guest to practically write anything, even something which may not be accurate, and by the end of the debate never gets to be put to task about it.

    My suggestion to Bart remains the same, it doesn’t matter which guest expert is participating, heck even a run of the mill contrarian scientist can participate. An upgrade to present pretty good layout is suggested, first the panel of experts original presentations must be vetted by each other (either by near live discussions or in private). Then the parts they agree on reconstructed into a consensus statement. The science facts, hypothesis and theories they can’t come to agree on must be debated, of which other public experts or comments may outright dismiss either the guest or their comments as irrelevant and by the worst critical word in physics : “not physical”. If the guest expert is found out to have dished out too many outright errors, that person should be dismissed from the discussion and join the public commenters for freedom of speech reasons. After a preset timeline for debate passed, a final consensus can come out.

  29. dhogaza:


    Eli points to three words Royal Dutch Shell

    I almost posted those three words (actually “Shell” with a quiz for Jim to fill in the word before), but wasn’t quite sure how “Dutch” Shell is today, or its power within the Dutch government.

    However you slice and dice it, the Dutch Parliament wants to obsfuscate the science for some reason. Can’t imagine why the Royal Dutch would want to play a Shell game … can Jim?

  30. Lynn Vincentnathan:

    RE Bart Strenger’s request for suggestions for future debates, how about this — Hansen speaking about runaway warming & the end to all life on earth, and maybe some other scientist (maybe Gavin or Michael Benton) saying, no, it’ll be more like the end-Permian with only 90% of life dying out before it starts to build up again after 100,000 or so.

  31. Killian:

    I didn’t read all the comments because I like my head the way it is, as opposed to having it metaphorically explode. ClimateDialogue is, as was aptly and correctly stated in the early comments, nothing more than False Equivalence with bonafides, which is exactly the opposite of what is needed at this time. More importantly…

    ***this is what RealClimate already legitimately does.***

    And the reason dear Judith, et al., don’t hang out here is because they not only get hung on their own petards, they get slapped upside the head with them by the more objective and more skilled scientists who actually let the science speak for itself.

    ClimateDialogue is merely RealClimate with the public fenced off from the scientists and False Equivalence warmly embraced… which is why I suspect the RealClimate response was a muted, “Er… what do you blokes think about this new effort over yonder…(cough)…?”

  32. The Skeptical Chymist:

    Bart, making this work properly will no doubt be difficult but I think Jim Larsen (108), Philippe Chantreau (110) and Michael Sweet (113) all make good suggestions.

    The experts chosen should reflect the actual spread of views found in the scientific literature and have published extensively on the topic at hand. If no “skeptics” meet that criteria then so be it. Including people without credibility as experts will simply lower the credibility of the site, and in such a situation I’m not sure why actual (and very busy) experts would continue to contribute.

    I would also suggest some form of review of contributions prior to making them public, including that you require all contributors to provide references for all statements of fact (even if the references do not appear in the final articles) to ensure a high quality of scholarship. Hopefully this would fix an issue with the initial “dialogue” where there are two thoughtful and balanced contributions supported by published evidence and one that reads like a extended exercise in hand waving.

    Lastly, maybe you should consider allowing other climate scientists to register with the site and make comments and ask questions directly without their contributions being thrown in with all the general comments.

  33. Mike Roddy:

    I second Susan Anderson’s comment, #111. Judith Curry is, to put it politely, not held in high regard by credible climate scientists. Why in the world would the Dutch and Realclimate provide her this forum, especially since she is thoroughly refuted every time she shows up here? Why not bring in Lindzen and Michaels while you’re at it?

    Something very odd is going on. The last thing we need is a Wattsupwiththat type refresh and refute button on science that has been empirically demonstrated for a number of years.

  34. Hank Roberts:

    Looks to me like the moderation happens long after the posting.

    Recent comments are FAQs and standard “don’t know, can’t know” assertions.

  35. flxible:

    dhogaza: “wasn’t quite sure how “Dutch” Shell is today, or its power within the Dutch government

    Royal Dutch Shell [60% “Dutch”, 40% “Shell”] has it’s headquarters and tax residency in The Hague, and as the 2nd largest corp in the world by revenue and market capitalization …. well, as it’s said, money talks.

  36. Hank Roberts:

    And why is moderation before posting helpful?

    Example:<Douglas Keenan at 2012-11-16 23:30:50

    Recognize the name? Most longtime readers will, e.g.

  37. dhogaza:

    Looks to me like the moderation happens long after the posting.

    Over at Bart’s “our changing climate” blog, I’ve suggested that all non-expert comments be unapproved by default after submission, and only approved after a moderator reads them.

    Otherwise the max anacker and jim cripwell types will succeed in hijacking threads with their various variants on the “climate science is a hoax” theme. Even if they’re dumped in the off-topic bin afterwards, the energy expended in countering them while they’re appearing in the main thread is just a waste of time.

    Of course, they should really have an additional “B— F—— Stupid” bin for comments that are more than just “off topic”, but we won’t see that, I’m sure.

  38. Ray Ladbury:

    I think Eli is correct:

    The Dutch Gummint is playing a “Shell game”, with the truth as the coin. What is more, as the US becomes more of a Petro-state, we can expect it to fall victim even more to the “Dutch Disease.”

  39. Eli Rabett:

    Eli has seen this movie before. The ending is not good

  40. SecularAnimist:

    To me, the bottom line is that this exercise in “exploring the views” of pseudo-skeptics (whose “views” have already been given inordinate attention and credibility in the mainstream media for several decades) occurs in the context of this reality:

    Global greenhouse gas emissions increased to their highest levels ever recorded in 2011, and all indications are that they will continue to increase. Meanwhile the world’s governments cannot even agree to implement emission-reduction measures that we already know will be inadequate to prevent warming of 2 degrees Celsius, which we already know is more warming than we can allow to occur if we are to have any hope of avoiding a global catastrophe (given the effects that we are already seeing from a less than 1C warming).

    Bill McKibben estimates that the world’s proven fossil fuel reserves — which the fossil fuel corporations fully intend to extract and burn — are five times the amount that would take us to 2C warming, while the IEA estimates that proven reserves are three times that amount. Which means that at least 66 to 80 percent of the world’s proven reserves must remain in the ground. Meanwhile, the USA is mining record amounts of coal which is mostly exported to China, and our re-elected president (the candidate who did NOT deny the reality of AGW) is gloating over the prospect that the USA will surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest producer of oil.

    With all due respect, what the world needs from climate scientists at this point is not to “explore the views” of pseudo-skeptics who continue to question whether warming is occurring, or whether CO2 emissions are the cause, or whether the warming will be less rapid and its effects less severe than the supposedly “alarmist” IPCC projects, or whether the onslaught of weather of mass destruction (of exactly the sort that science has long predicted would result from AGW) is merely coincidental.

    What the world needs from climate scientists is for all of you to be screaming at policy-makers in both governments and corporations that the crisis is far worse than anything the IPCC envisioned only a few years ago, that time is rapidly running out, and that we need to take urgent and serious measures, NOW, to stop the increase in GHG emissions, and begin steep reductions leading to near-zero emissions as soon as possible.

  41. SecularAnimist:

    Here’s something for the Dutch Parliament to think about the next time they consider imposing the “views” of pseudo-skeptics on climate science by political mandate:

    A new Dutch book written by ‘the climate-lawyer’ Roger H.J. Cox has sparked a lawsuit being filed against the Dutch government, claiming that the Netherlands is under a legal obligation to reduce its CO2 emissions by as much as 40% by 2020 and up to 95% by 2050. The book provided not only the impetus but a blueprint for such lawsuits, and a call for similar suits to be levied against many other Western nations.

    The book is backed by world-renowned American climate scientist James Hansen, who was the first to receive an English translation of the work at the book’s launch in The Hague.

  42. HarryWiggs:

    I posted this on tamino’s blog, too.

    I had hopes; HAD is the operative word. I responded, as a professional geologist, to an utterly-incorrect and ofttimes-debunked geologic notion the deniers like to trot out (“we cannot tell the difference between CO2 put out by a volcano, and CO2 we put out, and anyways, volcanoes release more CO2 then we do. Oh, and Mauna Loa sucks, too.”

    Bullshit. The USGS, in numerous studies, has put that to a lie, and I *respectfully,* never having uttered “f**k* once, refuted that in a reply to CD.o, and my comment was * disappeared. Clearly, it’s jsut a house organ for Curry et al, to promulgate the appearance of real science, while in reality, it’s just another ‘Let’s make ONE HUNDRED per cent sure we know what we’re seeing, *then* do something about it.”

    AAAK! Wrong. Even with the chops of Dr; Verheggen, it appears to be nothing so much as a pale imitation of WTFiUWT.

  43. wayne davidson:

    I disagree that the Dutch are trying to elevate contrarian speak popularity. If you go to Holland you will find a very progressive country. In Holland in many main urban areas your chances of being hit by a bicycle is greater than by a car! More than most countries in the world, the Dutch have everything to loose if AGW continues unchecked. However, this project is flawed, but doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed. The idea of mixing contrarians with a debate has been tried before rarely for obvious reasons. If CD format can be tweaked to weed out propaganda speak and establish amplify undiluted scientific facts and theories, the attractiveness would be to fail the contrarian junk notions already out there, a force to reckon with. Give free speech some room, destroy the meaningless popular points, leave in its wake correct science, all while attracting a huge audience. RC need not be alone, many more RC’s need to flourish and educate people all over the world. I call it as it is, the current CD needs perfecting or risks becoming a platform for pseudo-science. There are many science peer review journals outlets, perhaps very few channels to explain science, on North American cable TV you got Discovery, the science channel and PBS vs more than 500 channels, many of which trumpet the contrarian views,
    a greater balance is needed.

  44. Edward Greisch:

    Having at long last looked at, I say that it extends my case for requiring all college students to take the Engineering and Science Core Curriculum. Every citizen of every country should have taken the Engineering and Science Core Curriculum. Sorry if that seems/is undemocratic or otherwise impossible, but the alternative is worse.

    The comments about Shell are correct. Does the Dutch government own Shell or is it the other way around? They gave Judith Curry her own guest blog on their web site. That Judith Curry is a department head at Georgia Tech greatly lowers my opinion of Georgia Tech. The climate dialogue blogroll has some appalling entries.

    I asked my local library to borrow “Revolution Justified” by Roger H.J. Cox. Legal action is indeed justified. I watched the first 4 minutes of Dan Miller at
    We need to act on the worst case, not the best case. Evolution never ceases, and Homo Sap can very easily join the 99% of all species that are extinct. The alternative seems to be that GW will once again drive human evolution. We don’t know in which direction.

  45. Rob Nicholls:

    I’ve thought about Climate Dialogue for the last 24 hours, and I think this idea is worth trying. Despite the risk of providing false balance (which really needs to be taken seriously), it could be a good way to break down polarisation, to demonstrate how well (or how badly) different view points fit the available evidence, and hopefully to bring awareness of current scientific understanding to people who would perhaps not otherwise come across it (including those who believe that the IPCC / Realclimate / NASA / most climate scientists are deluded or lying about climate change).

    I don’t know whether the site will be able to a) ensure that the debate educates (rather than confuses) people, b) provide a good overview of the available scientific evidence, and c) clearly show which views most closely fit the available evidence. Doing these things is a formidable challenge, but I hope the website will be at least partially successful in achieving some of these things.

  46. dhogaza:

    Wayne Davison:

    If you go to Holland you will find a very progressive country.

    Yet the prime minister is a conservative (the VVD party) and his party has the most seats in Parliament.

    Here’s information on one VVD member of parliament:

    You can see where this kind of thinking has led to the demand that “climate realists” and “the other side” be given a seat at the table along with mainstream climate researchers.

    Oh, and the VVD party is the party that got the law passed that outlaws sale of pot to foreigners (though the future of this is in doubt given that they lost seats in the recent election).

    In Holland in many main urban areas your chances of being hit by a bicycle is greater than by a car!

    This is cultural and has nothing to do with political beliefs.

  47. dbostrom:

    Further to Harry Wiggs, there seem to be a number of similar anecdotes emerging. Why does the balance of accounts between truth and something else need adjustment? Is this part of the effort to be “fair,” that what’s obviously wrong must be hidden from public view? How long can accounts be juggled in this way before we conclude the enterprise is actually bankrupt?

    A great way to start a dialog with celebrity climate skeptics would be to demand that they begin with no deficit in the ledger of truth and facts versus error. Count truth versus garbage as carefully as we count money. Errors should be curated and brought forward until eliminated by open, forthright acknowledgement. Invite nobody prone to writing intellectual rubber checks to the table until they’ve taken responsibility for past freeloading on the public mind, cleared up past debts against credibility.

  48. cumfy:

    I think this is a very sensible approach to intelligent discussion.
    I hope the climate community will support this venture.
    I certainly will.

    Do you have a list of topics lined up and are you interested in suggestions ?

  49. dbostrom:

    Wayne, read the “About” section of the site and you’ll see the explicitly stated mission of Climate Dialogue is -exactly- and specifically about honoring contrarian, disintegrated speech and thought. The intention could not be more clear. There’s no need to speculate about this.

  50. Non-Scientist:

    I am not sure this is the appropriate forum for this question, but as it appears to contain actual scientists of one stripe or another I figure someone can direct the inquiry.

    It seems to be both universally agreed and physically measured that
    i CO2 has increased faster than any natural process can have done it, mostly caused by
    ii the amount of CO2 released over the last century (half century?) of moving fossil fuel from below ground into the atmosphere (by recovering and burning it) is about the excess quantity, and even has isotopic markers showing this.
    iii this action causes net warming, after whatever nature does in response (such as faster plant growth)

    This part I don’t know how to quantify: A small amount of warming of the average global temperature, when accomplished in a short period of time, causes effects greater than one might naively expect.

    What I don’t understand is:
    Do we *know* what happens next, or can we only estimate what *may* happen next? Does x degrees C of warming result in
    – nature adapts by degrees and we in turn adapt
    – nature adapts in a dramatic way (plankton quit producing so much oxygen) and we have a rather unpleasant adaptation
    – a runaway scenario happens, and the climate changes to something not seen in the last 200,000 years? That seems a rather strange result from just moving carbon around – those tons of fossil fuel were above ground at some point, in forms of life.
    Do we know the answers, or must we look at the possible outcomes and act as if the any with more than xx% chance of occurring must be mitigated?

    As as aside, I find it annoying when the argument is framed as damaging nature. Whatever we do, the laws of Nature will operate just fine. The issue is we may find life more expensive, less pleasant, and perhaps marked by war and disease. But if something dramatic happens to the world climate in a few decades (is that possible??) the bacteria digesting the old order will continue the miracle of life, just not in the form of pandas and polar bears.