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. Chris Hope:

    A range of views is vital to get a balanced assessment of the risks of climate change. The best policy models can cope with a range of inputs. Good luck to this project.

  2. Dikran Marsupial:

    I think this is a really good idea, with one exception, which is that public comments should be disabled. Already there are several comments that are just standard blogsphere bluster and repetition of misunderstandings of basic issues that have been done to death elsewhere. This just reduces the quality of the discussion unnecessarily as there are plenty of venues on the blogsphere for the less productive types of discussion that tend to happen in unmoderated public discussion on this topic. It would be better if the discussion were restricted to genuine experts, e.g. those with relevant peer-reviewed publications. I would much rather read what the experts (on both “sides”) have to say, without wading through the nonsense. The inability to participate myself would be a small price to pay.

  3. Bart Strengers:

    @Chris Hope: thanks for your support!
    You are completely right and that is exactly why we have made a clear distinction between the discussions between the experts (i.e. Judith Curry, Walt Meier and Ron Lindsay with respect to the first topic: Arctic Sea Ice decline)and the public comments. First you see the expert discussion (incl. comments form the moderator, which is Marcel Crok for this topc, but Rob van Dorland and me will do the next two topics)and below that the public comments start. The latter are strictly moderated and any off-topic comments are placed in a seperate folder called ‘off-topic’. We are working on some bugs and therefore it is not working perfect yet, but I promise it will in the next few days.

  4. Gerald Wilhite:

    Dikran Marsupial has a interesting point. Would it be practical to have a two-tiered discussion — amateurs in one, and experts in the other? It is very important to cultivate the principles of good science in the general public. My suggestion is to require that “user names” be verifiable real names for the amateur discussions. The amateur discussion should be moderated, perhaps something like WUWT does it.

    For the expert discussion, I suggest allowing “user names” to be anything as long as you keep a secure record of verifiable real names. This would encourage the input of views from experts who may not be in a position to freely speak their minds. Experts from seemingly unrelated fields should be allowed in my opinion.

  5. Alexandre:

    I don’t like it.

    It’s probably a well-intended approach that falls into the “balance as bias” category. The multiple theory natural selection already happens where it can be truly constructive: the peer-reviewed literature.

    The format unduly inflates the relevance and magnitude of climate dissent, and just misinforms the public conveying the wrong idea that AGW is just one of many equally supported opinions. The broader audience does not follow the physics in depth enough to know what’s good, plausible science, and what’s just grasping at straws.

  6. wayne davidson:

    In my opinion its a wrong format, first and foremost facts must be agreed upon by the dialogists then a dialogue has a chance to ensue, already Judith made a joke of most facts, and I don’t think a dialogue can be achieved if basic data is twisted to fit a parallel universe reality:

    “So . . . what is the bottom line on the attribution of the recent sea ice melt? My assessment is that it is likely (>66% likelihood) that there is 50-50 split between natural variability and anthropogenic forcing, with +/-20% range. Why such a ‘wishy washy’ statement with large error bars? Well, observations are ambiguous, models are inadequate, and our understanding of the complex interactions of the climate system is incomplete.” Judith Curry

    Natural variability may have the same impact as CO2… That is bunk. Natural variability is part of any process but sea ice thinning gradually , year by year, is not quite variable.

    “Older ice
    Here’s the basic story as I see it. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the circulation patterns favoured the motion of older, thicker sea ice out of the Arctic. This set the stage for the general decline in Arctic sea ice extent starting in the 1990′s. In 2001/2002, a hemispheric shift in the teleconnection indices occurred, which accelerated the downward trend. A local regime shift occurred in the Arctic during 2007, triggered by summertime weather patterns conspired to warm and melt the sea ice. The loss of multi-year ice during 2007 has resulted in all the minima since then being well below normal, with a high amplitude seasonal cycle. After 2007, there was another step loss in ice volume in 2010. In 2012, the basic pattern of this new regime was given a ‘kick’ by a large cyclonic storm in early August.” Judith Curry

    Right! A single cyclone “done in” the sea ice for 2012, WUWT speak, while everything started in 2007 by the not mentioned Arctic dipole. Never mind that the decline was slow and gradual for decades reaching a critical point where any cyclone would appear to be having an impact (depending on the animation watched). Flushing through Fram Strait occurs almost constantly, no matter how thick the ice is, or what Oscillation dominates, its a natural phenomena of great consistency. The thinning of the ice, decreasing in over all sea ice volume yearly declines appears to be unnatural . The replenishment process involved in creating thicker multi-year ice has been dwarfed by the extra heat present in the Arctic. Of which flushing has very little to do with it.

    So I give this dialogue 0 chance of achieving anything but the same “He says, She says” teeter-totter see saw of a ton weighing consensus scientists on one side matched by a few feather weight dissenters swinging the narrow board up and down regardless of physics. There is no discussion as long as reality is allowed to be changed according to anyones opinion.

  7. wili:

    Once again, this sets up for the public (and in this case for the Dutch Parliament) a false sense of the true range of the debate. The actual scientific discussion is not between the ’07 IPCC positions and the denialists. The actual debate is between good science that has become mostly more dire since the IPCC report, and other good science that has become even more dire.

    So the whole exercise is, unfortunately, do your country and the world a huge disservice, particularly when, as DM points out, every denialist crank and roboblogger on the planet is likely to pile on to the comment section leading to an apparent further skewing of the debate toward the dangerously absurd.

  8. Jamie:

    Who could object to scientists airing their views? But I must say this sounds an awful lot like “teach the controversy”.

  9. Roddy Campbell:

    Excellent plan. I shall be interested to see how many commenters here don’t like it because Judith Curry is on the first panel.

  10. kemcab2012:

    Good luck!

    I think it’s wonderful that this is taking place and that varying viewpoints within the field (not baseless, tired, skeptical viewpoints but variations of science backed viewpoints) will be expressed and discussed.

  11. Gerald Wilhite:

    Oops! My apologies for the suggestions in my earlier post that repeat features already in your design. Sorry about that.

  12. Dikran Marsupial:

    @Bart, many thanks for the response. While the discussion is two-tiered, the problem is that experts that are not “on the panel” have to make their contribution in the public section, which even with moderation is already so contaminated with blogsphere bluster that I am put of reading through it to find the gems. Perhaps the solution would be to invite other recognised experts to join in the expert discussion, and then the public discussion can safely be ignored.

    I suspect (predict) that *any* moderation of the public debate will inevitably lead to complaints from the “skeptic camp” that the dialog is being deliberately biased in favour of the “CAGW” by disproprtionate or unfair moderation of “skeptic” comments. I suspect the best answer to this is not to have a public discussion.

  13. Dikran Marsupial:

    @Roddy, the only complaint about Judith being on the panel (on ClimateDialog) appears to be from a “skeptic” complaining that someone who accepts AGW is representing the “Skeptics”!

    I have no problem with Prof. Curry being on the panel. I fundamentally disagree with her views on the treatment of uncertainty (e.g. Itallian flag), but where better for those arguments to be put to the test?

  14. Mark Schaffer:

    Would that be this Judith Curry?

    “The conference was remarkably well run. For the most part, participants were well behaved and adhered to Petr Chylek’s strict rules—avoiding inflammatory terms, and steering away from personal attacks and interruptions. The one exception was Judith Curry, who apparently did not get the memo. She gave a banquet presentation entitled, “The Uncertainty Monster at the Climate Science-Policy Interface”. My impression was that her presentation was intended to be more of a vehicle to criticize her adversaries than to talk about uncertainty.

    Her most personal attack was against Michael Mann, who she used to illustrate “uncertainty hiding” by showing a caricature of him standing next to the “uncertainty monster” holding a hockey stick and hidden by a sheet, with the cartoon-Mann saying “what uncertainty?” Next to the cartoon was and image of the cover of the book “The Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the Corruption of Science” illustrated with the multiproxy time series that Mann and his coauthors made famous. Ironically, Mann’s carefully plotted uncertainty bands were not visible on the presentation graphic, just as they were not reproduced in Fred Singer’s NIPCC report. “What uncertainty?” indeed!

    Curry described her transition from a scientist who felt that it was the responsible thing to do to support the IPCC conclusions to someone who is “about 50% a denier”. She attributed this change to “climategate” and the reaction she received due to her initial comments about it. She was the only speaker who ignored the policy against the word “denier.” She used the banned “d-word” repeatedly for effect when setting up a straw-man argument against what she called “IPCC/UNFCCC ideology” — a term she coined to label notions such as “anthropogenic climate change is real” and “deniers are attacking climate science and scientists”. She assured the audience that she didn’t think there were any “IPCC ideologues” at the conference but she had heard rumors that some were invited and had declined. She called out Kevin Trenberth as a supposed example of such an ideologue (again rejecting the policy against personal attack).

    Among her straw-man arguments was her dismissal of standard risk-reduction methodology for low-probability high-consequence events as a mere “precautionary principle” (the same principle that nuclear weapons engineers are taught when they told to always ask “what can go horribly wrong?”). One colleague later remarked that her approach to uncertainty quantification reminded him of an English major who had just finished reading Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.””

  15. Roddy Campbell:

    Dikran #13 – I did see that! Extremely funny I agree. And hear hear re putting views to the test.

    I’m amused by comment #7 from wili, I guess that’s the other side of the probable objections, that there is only a debate to be had between very dire and extremely dire, so this format MUST be a disservice to the world. Oh well.

    Bart(s), Marcel et al – good luck with this. Is there a Twitter handle I can follow to see the next debate when it appears?

  16. Mark B:

    This is an excellent idea. Debate is required in a subject that has a world wide impact. The cost of dealing with this problem is huge. People who oppose the idea of debate may be fearing that their position will be weakened. This is a completely wrong attitude: Debate should be educational, not just for the observers, but also for the participants. It is a good thing if both the participants (and observers) learn new things.
    People who read internet debates/blogs are often quite capable of understanding science. You don’t have to be a scientist to understand science. Denying people the right to be informed (or access to information) is wrong.
    The peer review process has the drawback that if it is relied on, to the exclusion of everything else, self interest will eventually become the overriding driving force, replacing the truth.
    A problem with Judith Curry’s climate blog was that a few individuals kept monopolizing the arguments, with endless irrelevant comments. Separating the scientists’ comments from the general public’s is also a good idea.

  17. Bart Verheggen:

    (Disclaimer: I’m involved in ClimateDialogue as a member of the advisory board).

    Some commenters make the valid point that the format of the blog is conducive to promoting “false balance”. But on the other side of the coin there are also positives. For me, they weigh heavier.

    As I wrote in a postscript on my blog ( ):

    I think ClimateDialogue is a unique project in both its organization (people with wildly different views are involved) and in its aim:
    Facilitating a public discussion between scientists with strongly differing opinions.

    Discussion topics are chosen to be relevant and interesting to the general public as well as receiving scientific attention. Discussants are chosen to reflect different stances in the spectrum of scientific opinion, explicitly including ‘sceptical’ voices. Naturally, the ensuing discussion is not necessarily representative of the full spectrum of scientific discussion (painting it as such would likely lead to a ‘false balance’).

    The idea is that the discussion can alleviate the polarization between ‘sceptics’ and ‘mainstreamers’ and provide some clarity in background of the (dis)agreements. Moreover, having scientists discuss their scientific disagreements in a public setting can go a long way to increase the public trust in science, which has suffered from the (imho incorrect) impression of being closed-minded. All in all, I think that ClimateDialogue provides a valuable service to both the public and the scientific debate. That doesn’t mean that it’s free of risks, but these are more in the framing and the perception than in the discussions itself. Naturally, the participation of good scientists is a necessary condition to make this experiment a success. Don’t hesitate to contact the editors (or me) if you fit the bill and are not afraid of a public debate!

  18. Donna:

    I think that the problem will be in getting an alternate view presented in a decent fashion. I don’t have an issue with using Judith Curry (though I wonder if she has enough technical knowledge on the specific items under discussion to actually bring anything to the table) but, from what I have seen in her comments here – she brings little for a real discussion. She fails to bring specifics, she fails to provide evidence of her claims, she makes braod sweeping statements often denigrating the work of others but refuses to provide evidence, examples etc.
    I don’t really see how that sort of behavior will help educate anybody on the issue.
    I suspect that on specific issues (like when might the Artic be ice free) that there are a variety of science supported thoughts in the community that studies it.
    I would recommend finding people who can actually present the science and who will discuss facts/evidence/provide examples and reasoning. I have seen little evidence in any comments that Judith Curry has posted here, that she is able to do that.
    So its going to turn into an area where any true discussion based on the science of the specific aspect – ice free Artic, sea level rise (when, where and how much) – will be missing and any chance of actual education will be gone if the standard “opponents” get used in the discussions and they stick to their standard behaviors when discussing anything to do with climate change.

  19. Jan Galkowski:

    Okay, uncertainty.

    I think much of the problem here is that for the datasets and systems in question, the standard bag of concepts and ideas regarding variability may not be powerful enough. From what I have seen, people trip over three things: (1) Variability in deterministic models as a function of initial and boundary conditions, and the measurement errors associated with those; (2) variability due to residuals of non-explanation due to limits of mesh grading and imperfections in the physical modeling of materials and physical processes; and (3) variability due to having imperfect descriptions of variability itself, notably linearizations of residuals as if they were i.i.d. which may continue to exhibit dependent behavior.

    One thing which suffers because these is our ability to properly connect observations about models with predictions about futures using probabilistic statements. We can calculate posterior distributions, but what really *are* the pathways that lead to high extremes where all the risk exists?

    I don’t think it’s proper to hang predictive projections of serious climate risk on the noose of failing to have a complete top-to-bottom model of the climate system at work. Arctic ice is melting. We see bigger storms, and we see droughts, even if our mechanistic explanations have shortfalls. What do people really think additional forcing from GHG emissions are going to do over the next five, ten, twenty, and fifty years, whatever the mechanisms?

    This is why I personally don’t feel objections to IPCC projections based upon uncertainty in modeling and mechanisms are helpful. The experiment is underway in the lab, like it or not. If reducing anthropogenic forcing can help mitigate the effects of a “natural trend”, why not? If anthropogenic forcing is hypothetically *not* responsible for what we see, that means we collectively have less control over it, and that’s not good. Seems to me, no matter your point of view, it’s essential to mitigate and reduce SOON. We’ll find out in 50 years now much we should have reduced in 1990. It’s the cost-to-mitigate versus delay curve that bothers me, no matter what it’s time derivative looks like.

  20. Bart Verheggen:


    Yes, there is a twitter handle: @ClimDialogue

    (and then I’ll use the opportunity to plug my own one as well: @BVerheggen)

  21. dhogaza:

    Why was Judith Curry invited as an expert on arctic sea ice? She’s not. Her comment reflects that. Your two actual expert cite the literature. Curry presents a WAG and expects it to be treated seriously, which your two experts dutifully do, presumably because they’ve been asked to be polite and the forum is set up with the premise that there actually exists two equally objective “sides” to the “debate”.

    This is typical Curry, though. She objects to the consensus view on a variety of subtopics of climate science, but clearly is unfamiliar with the literature. As pointed out above, her understanding of Michael Mann’s work appears to be limited to having read Bishop Hill’s “The Hockey Stick Illusion”. It is clear she doesn’t understand climate modeling. She misrepresents what the IPCC has actually written, and refuses to correct herself or apologize when caught out.

    In other words, she stopped arguing scientifically ages ago and at this point is just another denialist blogger. Better educated than most, rejects the absolute fringe of nutty ideas, but a denialist nonetheless.

    Yes, yes, I know you’ve been tasked with finding competent people on “the other side” of the “debate”. If Judith’s the best you can do, I guess that in itself is tellng …

  22. flxible:

    Could this “initiative” be at all related to this news? Looks along the lines of documenting a justification for inaction.

  23. Dikran Marsupial:

    I found this part of Judith’s contribution rather interesting

    “So . . . what is the bottom line on the attribution of the recent sea ice melt? My assessment is that it is likely (>66% likelihood) that there is 50-50 split between natural variability and anthropogenic forcing, with +/-20% range. Why such a ‘wishy washy’ statement with large error bars? Well, observations are ambiguous, models are inadequate, and our understanding of the complex interactions of the climate system is incomplete.”

    Unless I am missing something, this seems to be exactly the same sort of probabilistic statement that Judith was critical of the IPCC for using for characterising their uncertainty. It seems to me to be a statement that there is a bound on a probability that something lies outside an interval, in this case the probability of the anthropogenic component being outside the range 30% to 80% is less than 34%. Seemed a bit ironic to me (I have no problem with statements of this sort, they seem to be a pretty good way of summarising uncertainty for a public audience who will be less happy with the idea of a PDF).

    [Response: Actually this statement is meaningless. The number you are trying to estimate is uncertain and so has to be characterised by some kind of distribution (which is to be estimated). A statement of likelihood is a quantification of the area under that curve between some limits (see this post for some graphical examples). This means that the the likelihood of any single value (i.e. 50% or whatever) is actually zero. Rather, statements need to be couched as follows: the probability of the number being greater than 50% is XXX, or of lying between this range is YYY etc. Curry’s statement even if generously interpreted makes very little sense (does she mean P(30 66% ?), but more to the point is simple her opinion. It is not a quantification based on anything. You are completely correct in pointing out that this is what she accused Hegerl et al of in IPCC – despite that not being true in that case. Oh the irony. – gavin]

  24. Magnus W:

    No I think it is a waist of time. Money should be spent to get to the general public instead. No one on WUWT would change their mind this has already been tried in small scale. Also been tried on more educated ppl lice Curry… this will just confuse.

  25. Ron Taylor:

    As a technically trained non-expert who has followed these discussions for years, it is my instinct that this is a bad idea. I fear that it will provide a new source of false balance by allowing denialists to cherry pick from the comments and serve them up as products of an official program of the Dutch government. They would feed off this for years. It would be used to lift, in naive eyes, the WUWT nonsense to the level of government endorsement. The peer review process is where these issues should be resolved.

    I quite agree with comments 5, 6 and 7.

  26. Magnus W:

    I also think you over estimate the “public” it is likely that very few ppl would go deep in to this and just see… oh some one thinks that and some one thinks that… and most ppl just turn around as soon as they see… lots of numbers and math.

  27. Bart Strengers:

    @Wayne Davidson
    I would like to put the scientific part of your comment on ClimateDialogue Is that OK to you?
    More in general, I would like to invite everyone to participate in the discussions on ClimateDialogue. We as moderators will try to use these comments to feed the expert discussion. With respect to Judith Curry: I will ask her to give references to better underpin her claims (for example on the claim that albedo increase on land due to more snow is compensating for the albedo decrease above the arctic sea).
    We will do our best to make this initiative a success (although I am fully aware of the risks) and I will use your input here to make that happen.

  28. Dikran Marsupial:

    Gavin, I took the +/- 20% to mean that 50:50 was the most likely attribution, but that it could plausibly be anywhere between 30:70 and 70:30, in which case she could meaningfully attach a (subjectivist Bayesian) probability of being inside that range of 66%. But, as you say “oh the irony” ;o)

    I am not a fan of her uncertainty ewok either, probability and statistics provide the mechanics for dealing with what we know we know and what we know we don’t know. The existence of things we don’t know we don’t know is not a good reason for not plotting a rational course of action based on what we *do* know (we don’t know).

  29. michael Sweet:

    Two moderate scientists and a skeptic. Why was the position of scientists who think the problem is more dire not represented at all? Several Arctic scientists are on record predicting an ice free Arctic in less than ten years. Why is Curry given this soap box and scientists who think things are worse than the IPCC are left out?

    If you are claiming a debate you need to represent all sides in proportion. Having skeptics debate on equal time with mainstream science presents a biased view.

  30. SecularAnimist:

    What an utter waste of time.

    This is exactly where ExxonMobil and Koch Industries want the world’s climate scientists to remain bogged down: engaging in pointless “dialogue” with pseudo-skeptics, rather than bringing the authority of their expertise to bear on pressuring governments and corporations to do what needs to be done.

    According to the United Nations, if the ongoing mega-droughts afflicting not only North America but most of the world’s most productive agricultural regions continue for one more year, there will be a “global hunger crisis”. (That’s a euphemism for “famine”.)

    We just saw New York City have a very close call with becoming uninhabitable thanks to a super-storm the likes of which has never been seen before, which was clearly amplified by global warming.

    And the world’s top climate scientists are doing WHAT? “Exploring the views” of pseudo-skeptics?

    God help us.

    [Response:How about giving those trying to make a positive step forward a chance before burying them? Have you even gone there and read anything?–Jim]

  31. Marcus:

    I agree very much with alexandre at #6

    “The format unduly inflates the relevance and magnitude of climate dissent, and just misinforms the public conveying the wrong idea that AGW is just one of many equally supported opinions. ”


  32. Susan Anderson:

    Oh please, skeptics are people who question all sides of an issue (like most qualified climate scientists), and climate contrarians are rarely that, which is why many of us call them fake skeptics. Dr. Curry appears to attack anyone who questions her and duck substantive questions, while seeking the limelight. This is apparent in RealClimate’s files as noted, and goes further back that the Santa Fe link cited above). Scientists have been patient and respectful, and normally get treated as inquisitors in her responses.

    I think this is relevant, but some might regard it as mildly off topic. The time is now and these important points from an excellent presentation by Kevin Anderson et al. point up the increasing irrelevance of the unbalanced assertion of imbalance. Thanks also for the Guardian article, which points up the issue (flxible@~22)
    (Tyndall Centre, U. of Manchester)
    “Real Clothes for the Emperor: facing the challenges of climate change”

    but scenarios are supposed to explore plausible futures rather than repeat hard-wired runs from the same assumptions …
    with few exceptions, these include:
    – Recent historical emissions sometimes ‘mistaken’ or ‘massaged’
    – Short-term emission growth seriously down played
    – Peak year choice ‘Machiavellian’ & dangerously misleading
    – Reduction rate universally dictated by economists
    – Geoengineering widespread in low carbon scenarios
    – Annex 1/non-Annex 1 emissions split neglected or hidden
    – Assumptions about ‘Big’ technology naively optimistic
    – (‘Net’ Costs meaningless with non-marginal mitigation & adaptation)

    Collectively – they have a magician’s view of time and a linear view of problems

    lots more well worth a read; conclusion:

    “… this is not a message of futility, but a wake-up call of where our rose-tinted spectacles have brought us. Real hope, if it is to arise at all, will do so from a bare assessment of the scale of the challenge we now face.”
    Anderson & Bows, Beyond dangerous climate change
    Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Jan 2011

    … a final message of hope ..
    “at every level the greatest obstacle to transforming the world is that we lack the clarity and imagination to conceive that it could be different.”
    Roberto Unger

    and this little note about us – the entitled minority (I include myself, with a caregiver carbon footprint that appalls me when I think about it):

    – who’s in the 1-5%?
    – Climate scientists
    – Climate journalists & pontificators
    – OECD (& other) academics
    – Anyone who gets on a plane
    – For the UK anyone earning over £30k

  33. Dan H.:

    They probably preferred those who were more knowledgable and represented a greater portion of scientists. Biasing in the direction that you prefer would not likely lead to a rational discussion.

  34. bibasir:

    I too have problems with Ms Curry’s generalizations that do not use the science as the basis of her arguments. She devotes a lot of space to uncertainty, but seems to assert that the uncertainty only works to lessen outcomes.

  35. bibasir:

    i look forward to these debates.

  36. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    I also think this is an extremely bad idea. The discussion shouldn’t be about the climate science, but rather about the technical solutions to an extremely severe global problem that – if it isn’t already obvious to the experts, then they shouldn’t be trusted with any of the credible solutions.

  37. Susan Anderson:

    Real information about what’s going on is being presented by one of the best, the messenger fake skeptics are fond of killing over and over, on the “no smoke without fire” principle of successful disinformation PR:
    “Climate Reality: The Dirty Weather Report”

    Also, h/t to Wayne Davidson, who provides a bit more detail here:

  38. Sharon Hawkins-Fauster:

    I agree with No. 29, we need to get the climate scientist who see the climate deteriorating faster than the mainstream scientists to participate in the discussions. We need to respect the precautionary principle and be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. I am not a peer-reviewed climate scientist, but have studied physics, astronomy, chemistry, and logic, as well as having read all I can from peer-reviewed scientists for the last 15 years. I come from a family of physicists and want to participate. I have many questions and some perhaps some ideas as well. Please do not exclude people like me from contributing to the discussion.

  39. Hank Roberts:

    Add Killfile.

  40. Radge Havers:

    So what’s different here? I get that the intentions are good, and maybe that’s all that matters politically, but unless I’m missing something there’s no mechanism here for producing something that will stand out against what’s already been said — good, bad, and indifferent.

    I mean, after all the ink and spittle that’s been applied to this subject over the years, all that’s needed is:
    certain people + debate –> magic happens?

    Maybe, but color me skeptical. Consider if the topic were evolution.

  41. flxible:

    SA@30 – Maybe one of the topics for discussin will be drought, which may be somewhat different and much more complex than the UN thinks.

  42. Dikran Marsupial:

    Judith comments:

    “Pretending that extrapolating an observed trend or that CMIP5 simulations will produce a useful decadal prediction of sea ice is pointless (well there is a potential point but it is to mislead).”

    Seems to be a little disingenuous to me. It doesn’t seem surprising to me that GCM simulations don’t give useful decadal predictions on regional scale (or at least they are just beginning to get to the point where decadal scale predictions have useful skill IIRC). However we are not only interested in decadal scale predictions, for instance the range of estimates of the year where we may expect to see an ice free arctic is much more than a decadal scale projection.

    I am also not best pleased that Judith is being allowed by the moderator to implicitly accuse others of being deliberately misleading.

  43. dhogaza:

    I am also not best pleased that Judith is being allowed by the moderator to implicitly accuse others of being deliberately misleading.

    If they don’t, what would she post? That, after all, is one of her basic beliefs.

  44. Lucien Locke:

    Why are we still having this “discussion”? What debate?…When tipping points will be reached? Is there really more CO2 each year and that rising temperatures are directly related? Never mind the nuances…Temperatures are rising.

    I have a better idea for all of us..It is two questions..what are we, as the human population, going to do about it? And the second twin in importance, question…..When?

    Time to make the doughnuts …if I might borrow a television ad quote.

    frustratingly submitted,


  45. SecularAnimist:

    Jim wrote: “How about giving those trying to make a positive step forward a chance before burying them?”

    Thanks very much for your reply.

    With all due respect, I cannot see how “exploring the views” of pseudo-skeptics like Judith Curry is “a positive step forward”.

    As I understand it from the article, “ClimateDialogue” is the result of a political mandate from the Dutch parliament, in reaction to the deliberately overblown controversy about “errors in the Fourth IPCC Assessment Report on climate impacts” which was used by the deniers to engage in dishonest attacks aimed at discrediting the IPCC process.

    I see nothing in the article which offers a scientific rationale, or that even suggests any real scientific value, in this politically-mandated exercise in “also involving [so-called] climate skeptics in future studies on climate change”.

    As I wrote, this is exactly where the fossil fuel interests want to keep climate scientists bottled up — in a never-ending pseudo-debate with pseudo-skeptics about pseudo-science.

    [Response:The fossil fuel interests have nothing to do with this initiative or dialog. Judith Curry is only one of the three experts. If you don’t want to read her writings, then read those of the other two, or of the various commenters, or any of the many article references given. There have already been some good questions asked requiring Judith Curry to clarify her statements. Give it a chance.–Jim]

  46. Dan H.:

    Nice paper. Many that will finally put to rest some of the misinformation surrounding drought occurrances.

  47. Les Porter:

    The horse is dead. You ought to quit beating it. Rose colored spectacles, niceties, or personality discussions need not enter, and are also, IMHO, both distracting and useless. Opinions, even expert opinions must be tempered by a link to the fundamentals of observations and measurements. If you need more data, more observation, more proxies, get them.

    AGW as a climate factor is forcing. Fossil C exploitation and use has overwritten and overpowered natural factors. Continued CO2 overloading is making a faster arctic deicer. That horse is dead. Quit beating it.

    [This is not an “opinion.” This is a statement. The timing might be +/- 500 My. In 1.5 billion years plus or so, Sol itself will overpower everything. And though it is pretty clear that it may take a “while” to turn earth into an analog of Venus, that is the ‘natural’ life-terminal result. Yeah, H20 then is irrevocably forcing. Solar energy splits the bond, and what H isn’t quickly grabbed by something escapes to space; The freed O quickly unites with whatever is handy, but as a gas mostly grabs the C from freed up carbonates to make CO2 the predominant molecule in the atmosphere. Our 78% N2 will also be gobbled and free N2 would be no more than 4% of earth’s air in 3 billion years or so. I did the math on these, and so can you. So I will cite nothing.]

    That stated, I confess I see little to be accomplished in the suggested “new” internet venue. Of course I wish them “luck.”

    If something like a solution to problems were discussed, say if strong physics, with tests and observations and use of multiple proxies were presented with the major point being a very precise timescale for arctic ocean commerce in an ice-free arctic, I suppose business interests would support the research. [Of course, I favor re-icing the arctic, by removing extant CO2 to roughly 300ppmv and I expect this to be accomplished in a roughly 10-50 thousand year timescale. Optimistically.]

    Obviously, the Keeling curve rise and fall describes what plants and ocean [nature by itself] can do. Mankind’s goals need to be somewhat more lofty. We humans must build “machines” that inhale and process fully 1/4 of the planets atmosphere and remove and innocuously sequester 100% of the CO2 therein. And that has to be accomplished in conjunction with CO2 emission cessation.

    If one wants to make progress toward a “climate solution” several exercises are readily apparent. Cessation of fossil fuel use and near-instant conversion to non-CO2 producing energy sources must be accomplished; The Keeling curve stair step “up” must first be “flattend” and then with our CO2-extraction machines, the annual stair steps converted to a descending
    slope. When the amount of CO2 is near 300 ppmv we can mothball most of te machines. We as a species then will control the CO2 part of our climate.

    We can vote on whether or not we want to make weather to produce an ice age, given orbital and tectonic changes. If we leave the machines on, we can have an ice age sooner than would be naturally propelled.

    Global solutions will be a necessary condition. We will also determine if we wish to allow our population to grow or stabilize. [Neo-cons would simply, and brainlessly — choose a “self-depopulation” program or thru warfare for “resources” use warfare for population control.] We must control our numbers; or nature will.

    Mature species leadership will require that a redistribution of wealth to provide equity in responsibility for the preservation of life’s diversity and potential. Our long-term species goal will continue to be fitting humanity in the proper place in a global ecology that sustains and nourishes the planet and humanity.

    Buckminster Fuller’s goal of “learning a living” will replace consumptive earning a living. Rewards will be evaluated and directly related to contributions made to the longevity of the species.

    Our species will not be able to afford the wealth class nor luxuriant excess until we do correct climate. If you are a member of the 1% on up to 0.000001% your wealth will be used to contribute to your education concerning social responsibility and excess wealth will be used to remedy and restore the environmental balance the excess exploited and damaged.

    If the new internet site simply rehashes the long-dead horse, we do not need it. If it advocates environmental justice; offers solutions and quick or certain remediation procedures it could be useful.

    If I read here “realclimate” of something new and useful “there” I might look in again on it.

  48. wayne davidson:

    #27 Bart I agree. Its a free world, but for once I like to have a good dialogue with climate contrarians willing to yield to correct science (they are rare if non existent), it must start with a consensus of facts. Otherwise forget about it.

  49. Les Porter:

    oops. I meant inhale the CO2; sequester the C, let the 02 free.

  50. Barton Paul Levenson:

    This is just to let people know I’m starting an online climate time series database. Go to and click on “Annual Temperature Time Series 1850-2011”

  51. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    That will finally put to rest some of the misinformation surrounding drought occurrences.

    So are you saying the science of global drought is settled with this one paper? Rich.

  52. Jim Larsen:

    I remember Pielke Jr and Gavin “debating” right past each other on this site. I don’t remember a single resolution or significant point of agreement. Your attempt to enforce logical discussion sounds great but risks draining the already shallow pool of possible “skeptic” scientists willing to contribute. That said, I think you’ve got a grand experiment started.

    Public comments are either gems or chaff. Perhaps you could let comments expire after a week, with select comments made permanent.

    And if you’re going to have balance, you need all three viewpoints: “denialist”, mainstream, and “alarmist”. Did you invite Dr Maslowski? Surely any discussion on sea ice must include his thoughts. By limiting things to moderates and lowballers, you’ve produced a biased first attempt. You ended up with a 50(+-20) to 70% attribution spread, when the real range might be what? 50(+-20) to 110%?

  53. Steven Emmerson:

    I expect that the utility of this effort will depend strongly on the process for selecting “experts”: the more scientific the selection process, the better this effort will be received.

  54. Chris Korda:

    Sorry but I’ve heard quite sufficient from Judith Curry and her ilk. This type of lukewarm dissent gets too much bandwidth already, and contributes to complacency which there’s no time for. Wake me up when the forum includes Kevin Anderson or Dan Miller.

  55. Deep Climate:

    Based on the IAC recommendation that ‘the full range of views’ should be covered in the IPCC reports, Parliament asked the Dutch government ‘to also involve climate skeptics in future studies on climate change’.

    So can Bart or someone else provide an example of a climate science topic where the IAC found the “full range of views” was not covered in AR4 WG1? Was the “full range of views” regarding arctic sea ice decline not covered adequately according to the science of the time? (I take it we are discussing “views” actually represented in the peer-reviewed science).

    And why assume that the problem is solely one of giving “skeptic” views more prominence, especially if it turns out those views are scarce in the literature? There are many scientists who feel AR4 was overly conservative in a number of areas. Shouldn’t the views of those scientists be sought too?

  56. prokaryotes:

    Re public opinion and climate change

    Per Espen Stoknes: Why and how can psychology be applied to the issue of climate change?

  57. MMM:

    Curry objects to how James Annan frames his critique – “and of a tone that does not promote reasoned dialogue” – possibly because of his use of the word “nonsensical”. While I might agree that that word was unnecessary, it is interesting to see how Curry then uses phrases like, “incomprehensible”, “very poorly argued”, and “Our old friend ‘model calibration’ I assume, whereby 5 wrongs might make a ‘right.’”

    And when it comes down to it, she never answers the question, which is whether she expects “the future observed trend to be half the historical one, albeit with substantial uncertainty”… the closest she comes to an answer is, “My point is that I DONT KNOW with any high level of confidence what the sea ice will look like”.

  58. Len Conly:

    To include Judity Curry is a mistake.

  59. Aaron Lewis:

    The details of climate science are technical facts like the gravitational constant or the mass of an electron. They are either correct or they need to be re-measured and reanalyzed. There is no need for a dialog.
    Such reviews are carried out in the journals and society meetings, and the most conservative and defensible consensus becomes the IPCC reports. Then, there are experts working with real time observations and analysis. When you work with “Now”, there are fewer data points, and conclusions from less data are less defensible. Thus, the only useful dialog would be between the IPCC guys using data from yesterday and the guys using the more limited “Now” data. However, that reveiw is ongoing in the journals and society meetings.

    The proper subjects of a dialog are ,“Is our economic analysis correct?”, “Are we doing the proper risk analysis?”, “Are we considering the cost and risk in our infrastructure planning ?”, and, “Are all of these issues considered in every aspect of our policy planning?” These are points where reasonable minds may differ, and dialog is useful

  60. SecularAnimist:

    Jim wrote: “The fossil fuel interests have nothing to do with this initiative or dialog.”

    I’m not saying that they did — directly.

    But the very existence of pseudo-skeptics, and the fact that they have been given inordinate amounts of attention and undeserved credibility for decades, can be attributed to the influence of the fossil fuel interests on the public discourse about AGW.

    The very fact that as late in the game as 2010, there could be “a debate in the Dutch Parliament about the reliability of climate science in general” resulting in a political mandate “to also involve climate skeptics in future studies on climate change”, can be attributed to the influence of the fossil fuel interests on the public discourse about AGW.

    Jim wrote: “Give it a chance.”

    With all due respect — give it a chance to what?

    What possible good can come of this? What possible value can it contribute?

    To convince a handful of pseudo-skeptics to grudgingly accept what the entire world’s scientific community has accepted for decades — so that they can move on from the no longer tenable strategy of denying basic scientific reality to other strategies of deceit, delay and obstruction?

    [Response:OK, you’ve decided to prejudge the whole thing and you’re sticking to your guns on that. Got it.–Jim]

  61. Edward Greisch:

    Your [RC’s] article appears to be about at least 2 and possibly 3 or more different kinds of discussions/debates.:

    1. Discussions that are really science, such as: Is the melt rate of Antarctic ice 30 billion tons/ year or 248 billion tons/ year? What new spacecraft or expeditions do we need to know for sure? There are no Gish Gallops. Only real climate scientists are invited.

    2. Like the book “Why We Disagree About Climate Change” by Mike Hulme. Social scientists and brain researchers are invited, but denialists are not invited. Pascal Boyer, who wrote “Religion Explained” is invited as a brain researcher. Noam Chomsky is invited as a social scientist.

    3. Denialists with faculty appointments are invited, but RC corrects them line by line. Judy Curry and Lomborg are invited.

    4. Free-for-all. Denialists and people with serious mental problems are invited. Moncton and Anthony Watts are invited. Preachers are invited.

    1 and 2 are good ideas. 3 and 4 are bad ideas.

  62. Chris Colose:

    Unlike most here, I actually think ClimateDialogue has a very good format, and I’d take Jim’s advice to give it a shot before throwing it in the gutter. I do agree that it would be unfortunate if it devolved into a “skeptics vs. warmists” type of false balance that dominates the blogs, but there’s a lot of room to encourage scientific discourse without doing that. In essence, it becomes an interactive journal which might not contribute to the field (due to the lack of rigor and checking), but allows much more flexibility for interaction and learning than does the glacial pace of scientific journals. That serves a different but equally useful purpose.

    The only consequence is that the level of discussion can quickly become similar to what Isaac Held is hosting (graduate student or expert level) which is good but encourages a small audience.

  63. SteveF:

    “Why was Judith Curry invited as an expert on arctic sea ice? She’s not.”

    To be fair, she has published on Arctic sea ice:

    But I don’t think she is appropriate as a voice in what otherwise looks like an admirable new project.

  64. cowichan:

    Jeremy Grantham in Nature.

  65. SteveF:

    Curry objects to how James Annan frames his critique – “and of a tone that does not promote reasoned dialogue”

    Given the stuff that goes on on her blog, this is extraordinarily hypocritical.

  66. David B. Benson:

    My opinion is quite similar to that of Susan Anderson and several others.

    And incidentally I project that Arctic sea minimum reaches zero about 2040 CE, a linear extrapolation. Does that qualify me to join is such an internet discussion?

  67. BillS:

    Re: #63 and others.

    A quick glance through does not turn up much regarding Dr. Curry’s expertise on sea ice.
    Among my list of experts: Julienne Stroeve, James Malanik, Mark Serreze, Donald Perovich, R. Kwok, Torgny Vinje, J.C. Comiso, and Bonnie Light.

  68. sidd:

    The article states:
    “… discussions between experts with opposing views are rare.”

    There is a reason for this. Experts know and acknowledge the vast body of climate science. To use the dread word, they have consensus. There are minor points of disagreement, that do not need more than the peer reviewed literature fora to settle.

    The forum is a concession those who accurately perceive, as Naomi Klein points out, that fossil carbon mitigation is a threat to their lifestyles. As such it will achieve nothing but delay on mitigation efforts, as it is designed to.

    [Response:OK, so just so we’re perfectly clear on this, you’re accusing ClimateDialogue of conscious intent to delay mitigation efforts with what they’re doing.–Jim]

    If this forum would have a discussion between mainstream climate scientists, and the so called catastrophists, for example who see WAIS destabilizing in human lifetimes, it might be more relevant. O that Mercer were alive today…


    [Response:For the record, I don’t think you (sidd) were saying what Jim seems to think you were saying. You weren’t talking about “intent” were you, merely effect, right? Call me a cynic but I tend to agree with you here, rather than with my RC compatriot.–eric]

  69. Hank Roberts:

    ignoramus … from Latin, we do not know, first person pl. present tense

    “there is not any clear mathematical consensus as to whether the results … give definitive negative solutions or not, since these solutions apply to a certain formalization of the problems, a formalization which is quite reasonable but is not necessarily the only possible one.

  70. Toby Thaler:

    I am another well-educated, long time follower of this debate (and not a scientist). I heartily agree with comments 25, 30, 40, 45 (conveniently all multiples of 5!); the purported “climate dialogue” is not helpful. I also strongly agree with Les Porter’s comment 47, and especially his connection between this failed dialogue and the need for “redistribution of wealth” on a global scale. We will probably not find a “climate solution” until we find a “social justice” solution.

    In that vein: Jim responds to SecularAnimist (#45), “The fossil fuel interests have nothing to do with this initiative or dialog.” I think this is a naive statement.

    The fossil fuel interests don’t have their fingerprints on every action that obfuscates and turns the debate away from solutions and back toward whether AGW even exists! But they do have a huge role in creating the political climate that causes such actions to be taken, as has been thoroughly documented here at RC and in a number of well researched books. What political forces do you think motivated the Dutch Parliament to force this dialogue into existence in the first place? The research that should be done by RC followers and allies is to uncover and publicize the specific linkages and dynamics that led to their vote.

    I also note that of the three experts’ pieces at, Curry’s is the only one without a single citation to the peer reviewed literature (or any literature). There are some citations in her secondary references, but why should readers have to slog through her blog to find and evaluate the relevance and merit of support for her arguments? The unsupported conjecture and irrelevancies in the last two sections of her contribution strike me as absurd (“Recovery (?)“?!).

  71. Thomas:

    What any discussion needs are some epistemological ground rules. There is a whole area of philosophy devoted to understanding how we can know things, and how to best avoid common logical errors. Science with peer review is one rather successful method. Law is another, although less perfect methodology for truth determination. In a courtroom there are rules for admissible evidence and permissible forms of argumentation, and the judge holds the lawyers accountable. Without skilled moderation you find that skilled debaters can simply overwhelm careful thinkers with mostly irrelevant attacks. I’ve seen far too many “debates” where experts on subject are beaten by rhetorically skilled charlatans. You need to pay careful attention to how things are conducted in order to avoid such a result.

  72. dhogaza:

    [Response:OK, so just so we’re perfectly clear on this, you’re accusing ClimateDialogue of conscious intent to delay mitigation efforts with what they’re doing.–Jim]

    Actually, I think at least some of the people in charge are doing the best they can, given the government mandate to include “skeptics” (including outright denialists like Curry) for balance. I think the reason the Dutch government set this up, with the “include skeptics” mandate, is indeed to delay mitigation. You may hold another position, for instance “include Curry to speed up mitigation!”. My guess is you’ll be laughed out of town if you think this.

    (I say “some of”, because Crok, if John Mashey is right, authored a piece entitled “Crok, Marcel (2005) ―Proof that mankind causes climate change is refuted”. “refuted” … fair and balanced? Please …)

    And how is including Curry, who has personally attacked a slew of people in the field, mostly out of personal jealousy AFAICT, useful?

    We know, from past experience, that she never backs off when shown to be wrong, but simply dives into conspiracy theory.

  73. sidd:

    “…you’re accusing ClimateDialogue of conscious intent to delay mitigation efforts…”

    No. I argue that the very existence of Climate Dialogue as sanctioned by the Dutch government is a concession to those who, as I said, “…accurately perceive, as Naomi Klein points out, that fossil carbon mitigation is a threat to their lifestyles.”

    [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 participants in the Dialogue might have the best intent, and the arguments there might be superbly informed, nevertheless I wish all that attention and energy went toward immediate mitigation effort. But that is my opinion, the Dutch government clearly differs, and it’s their money after all.


  74. David B. Benson:

    Highly relevant to the question asked here is

    [The reCHAPTCHA oracle offers Great jonalhec for those who can interpret.]

  75. tamino:

    It’s a fine idea to have climate scientists discuss points of contention in a public forum. Unfortunately this first effort completely fails to do so. Instead, Judith Curry has used your forum to repeat a ludicrous litany of FUD. Your forum has been abused.

    Her comments about albedo are just one example. Apparently she only raised the issue to denigrate the idea with an offhand, ill-thought-out remark about low sun angle during the September minimum, quite ignoring that the strongest ice-albedo effect is around midsummer, a season during which ice has also declined significantly. And, her raising the issue of snow albedo is lame beyond belief. Apparently she is not aware that spring and summer snow cover reduction is stunning, while there’s no trend in snow cover during fall or winter. The net effect of snow albedo is warming, not cooling — but either she hasn’t done any calculations, or hasn’t even looked at the data. All she did was spout nonsense in order to increase the FUD.

    Seriously, consider the impact of this first “discussion.” For those sincerely interested in the science it contributes nothing. Absolutely nothing — there is no insight whatever to be gained from Curry’s “counterpoint” about sea ice decline. But for those interested in pushing a denier agenda, Curry has helped them immensely.

    To those who created this forum: I don’t blame her for the sorry state of your first foray, I blame you. First, if you want to present skeptic viewpoints you should find a real skeptic, not a fake one. Second, you should have in place some process to prevent nonsense like hers from seeing the light of day.

    I repeat, that having scientists seriously discuss points of contention in a public forum is a fine idea. But providing a venue for fake skeptics to push fake skeptic views is worse than nothing, far worse. I hope you can “up your game,” because your first attempt is shameful.

    [Response:Tamino. I agree with you entirely but.. What the F* does “FUD” mean? Perhaps I’d get it if I’d read all the comments, but I didn’t. Please enlighten me! -eric]

  76. Russell:

    To further degrade the signal to noise ratio in ClimateDialogue’s neighborhood,

    Fred Singer has taken to self-publishing in German

  77. Philippe Chantreau:

    The principle is to have 3 expert,s representing the full range of views, to debate a given subject. Two of the “experts” have abundant peer-reviewed litterature on the subject of Arctic sea-ice, one has zilch. Why is she included as an expert? It is very hard for me to take this experiment seriously if the standards establishing one’s expertise are not consistently applied. What are these standards anyway?
    Looks like another of these misguided attempts to be “fair and balanced” between the ones arguing that the Earth is round and others who don’t really understand what round means when applied to a planetary body. Yuck!
    I say shame on you for caving to political pressures. Reality does not vote but it always makes the important decisions and we can’t impeach it…

  78. Philippe Chantreau:

    FUD: Fear, uncertainty, Doubt.

  79. David B. Benson:

    On FUD for Eric:


    The claim from early days of digital computers is that salesmen from a well-known company would use FUD to fend off the competition.

  80. tamino:

    What the F* does “FUD” mean?

    I guess I should have followed the advice to define acronyms when they’re first used. It stands for “Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.”

  81. Pete Wirfs:


  82. Bob Brand:

    Eric, “FUD” stands for “Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt”.

    It is a military tactic widely employed to promote confusion and chaos in the ranks of the enemy, usually before an attack or campaign. The propaganda designed to instill FUD in the other party does *not* have be consistent or factual in any way; it just has to confuse and cause uncertainty so the enemy footsoldiers will have no idea what is true and what is not. Actually, inconsistent and contradictory messages make for better FUD.

    This is a particularly apt description if inconsistencies, when pointed out to the FUD’er, cause him (or her?) to wave her arms and exclaim: “Well, so actually we know nooooothing!” Just like ‘Manuel’ of Fawlty Towers fame.

  83. Craig Nazor:

    Eric – When FUD is typed into Google, Wikipedia comes up with “Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.” That seems to fit.

  84. Hank Roberts:

  85. Anonymous Coward:

    Invite Judith Curry, lose your credibility.

    Surely BP has a few reasonable-sounding lobbyists with a science background on tap. Unlike academics or think-tank ideologues, people who officially represent such corporations have an incentive not to be painfully silly in public. Instead of a smokescreen, they might provide the semblance of a debate on the real issues.

  86. Craig Nazor:

    OK, I had a chance to read the “Dialogue.”

    Here is my reaction to what I read. In general, the Meier and Lindsay statements were concise and statements of fact were well documented. In the Curry statement, however, statements of fact were not well documented. Because of this, it became more difficult to tell the difference between fact and conjecture (one has to wonder if this was, on some level, intentional). Since the Curry statement touched on a much wider array of parameters, this became a significant problem in evaluating her argument.

    Of course, if your basic argument is “We really don’t know,” then the lack of documentation actually supports that point of view. But this is a debate technique. As logic, it fails miserably. Are we really not supposed to notice?

    So I guess I would have to agree with Tamino here – because one of the participants tried to win the implied larger argument (we don’t know enough about global warming yet to take action – essentially, FUD) through an appeal to emotion (be afraid of taking action before we “know enough”) using flawed logic, people who make decisions based more on emotion than logic are going to listen to the argument that appeals to their habitual way of dealing with the world. The stalemate continues, and the danger increases.

    So how does this dialogue with invited “skeptics” move the debate forward? It doesn’t. It does exactly what those who clamor for this approach want it to do: by equating logical arguments with emotional ones, it postpones action, so that the richest corporations that have ever existed can continue to profit from their vast investments, to the detriment of all life on earth.

  87. CM:

    I share the apprehension of many (most?) commenters here over adding to false balance. However, I think a forum for reasoned public discussion between mainstream and contrarian scientists could be a nice addition to the climate blogosphere. It won’t resolve anything, but it could help to hold bad work and unsupported soundbites up to scrutiny.

    It’s not clear to what target audience it’s supposed to communicate the science. As a very interested layman, though, I learned new, useful things from Meier’s helpful laying out of the argument. Curry didn’t rise to the occasion, and I’m not going to go sift her four blog posts for the supposed evidence and references that she couldn’t be bothered to repeat. I realize the project depends on the voluntary participation of very busy people, but if it doesn’t hold contributions to a higher standard than Curry’s, it will fail.

    Potentially a nice project, then, but judging by your account of how it came about, it was initiated by the Dutch parliament and government for wrongheaded reasons. IPCC authors represent a range of views anyway. A bunch of denialists signed up as reviwers, and failed to spot e.g. the Himalaya error. Seating more of them around the table will not improve accuracy, but only give impetus and legitimacy to a political campaign against inconvenient science, and add more bogus objections for IPCC authors to respond to instead of checking their own work.

    Having said that, of the things the IPCC has trouble getting right, the under-predicted Arctic sea ice loss was certainly an appropriate choice for the first post!

  88. Nick Palmer:

    I very much like the idea of this climate dialogue forum. Concern has been expressed about the “balanced” nature of the participants possibly biasing public perceptions of the relative numbers, and strength of arguments on each “side”.

    How about, stated at the beginning of each discussion, having the lead participants come up with a list of prominent scientists whose work supports their contentions. Thus, for example, if the topic was on sensitivity, Lindzen might list Spencer and Christy and then start to struggle a bit – whereas Gavin Schmidt might be spoilt for choice…

    Worth considering?

  89. Martin Vermeer:


  90. Nick Palmer:

    Further to my last post, the general format of the roll of honour on any particular topic would be numbers of “warmists”, numbers of “lukewarmers” and numbers of “it’s something else, so CO2 won’t affect the climate” types.

  91. dhogaza:


    I would advise to invite th sceptics (deniers, if you prefer) INTO YOUR RESEARCH teams. Write to Antony Watts…

    Anthony Watts shows no sign of even having passed grade school algebra, given the basic arithmetic errors he has made (“changing baseline changes trend”, etc).

    What would you expect him to do on a research team? Make the team’s morning coffee? Put up a website for them?

    We’ve already seen what happens when a research team reaches out to him, i.e. BEST. He decided BEST was great until BEST came up with answers Anthony didn’t like, then BEST was awful, a travesty, screwed up, the scientists had never been skeptics after all, blah blah blah.

    The rest of the list similarly insists that research is only valid if it matches their preconceived desired results.

    That’s not how science works. And your suggestion that a consensus on climate science exists only because of grant-seeking and a broken peer-review process is insulting to scientists. Insulting and wrong.

  92. Didactylos:

    This thread seems a lot shorter than it was yesterday.

    And I see nobody suggesting how the new site can find reputable, informed sceptics with expertise in a specific field capable of debating these topics on an equal footing with real scientists. Such people exist, of course. But they can be numbered on one hand, and do not include people like Judith Curry*.

    * Except perhaps in her very narrow field – but definitely not in the vast array of subjects she has pronounced upon.

  93. wayne davidson:

    I agree with Gavin’s comment in #23 ” Actually this statement is meaningless.” as the most serious reason why Curry’s opinion should be downgraded as mere speculation from a non expert. An expert would not put meaningless statements unless there is significant lack of knowledge on the subject in question. It is not a serious dialogue when fibs and fairy tales are presented at the basic premise. Now people will be dealing with the this nonsense presented, reducing the chance of achieving a better debate, passing a great deal of effort dealing with errors, in the end after all said and done, leaving this forum more confused and puzzled, exactly the contrairian goal. Therefore I support Tamino’s comment that this effort has failed from the get go, unless
    an expert can be recognized as fibbing, and therefore be removed from the debate unless a retraction is done.
    The other experts are very polite and kind and this has been a great weakness when dealing with people not so inclined.

  94. Dikran Marsupial:

    @Didactylos one way would be to focus the discussion on a paper that had appeared in the peer reviewed litterature and had resulted in a peer-reviewed comment from the opposing view. The authors of the paper and of the comment provide a source of experts from each side, and the fact that there was a comment paper suggests it is a question where there is some controvery worth discussing. There are plenty of such papers around.

  95. Dan H.:

    I tend to agree. The basic tenet of science, is a search for the truth. Any theory that does not pass this test, will be discarded. Any theory that needs revising, will be revised. And any theory that stands its ground will be accepted. Invite tham all, and see what passes.

  96. cRR Kampen:

    Re comment 60 and Jim’s response, I would like to repeat that question by SecularAnimist, because it does not beg but positively shriek for an answer:

    With all due respect — give it a chance to what?


    [Response:With all due respect, if I have to try to explain that to you, it’s not likely that you’re going to accept it anyway–I’ve already tried upthread. Go to their site and read is all I can tell you.–Jim]

  97. Lynn Vincentnathan:

    I think the debate should NOT between non-skeptical and skeptical scientists (the first group saying we need .05 on the null or 95% confidence before making a claim, and those saying we need .01 even .001 (or 99%, 99.9% confidence), or some even saying we need 101% confidence to establish that ACC is happening.

    I think the debate should be between the scientists striving to avoid the FALSE POSITIVE (requiring 95% confidence that ACC is happening before they make a claim…..the 1st of such claims coming in 1995) and environmentalist, people living on planet earth, and policy-makers who want to avoid the FALSE NEGATIVE of failing to address a very serious, life-threatening (perhaps all life-threatening) catastrophe.

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

  98. Bart Strengers:

    Dear all,

    It is very interesting to read the discussion here on our initiative. Later tomorrow I will try to comment on several topics raised but for now, I have two questions for you:
    – Since it is indeed difficult to find qualified ‘skeptic’ scientists (or scientists that are among the most critical ones) I would like to know 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?
    – Is it OK, in general to copy the scientific parts of your comments to the comment thread on our site? I think you raise important issues that should be picked up in our discussion.

    Thanks in advance

  99. SecularAnimist:

    Jim replied to sidd (#73): “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?”

    According to the article, the overblown and trumped-up controversy over inconsequential “errors” in AR4 led to “a debate in the Dutch Parliament about the reliability of climate science in general … Parliament asked the Dutch government ‘to also involve climate skeptics in future studies on climate change’.”

    In short, absolutely baseless attacks on “the reliability of climate science in general” led to a political mandate to include so-called “skeptics” in “future studies on climate change”.

    If that’s not a prima facie case that this “dialogue” with “skeptics” results from political interference with the conduct of science that was designed to undermine the scientific case for prompt and urgent mitigation efforts, I don’t know what is.

    If US Senator James Inhofe managed to push through a similar mandate requiring US scientists to include pseudo-skeptics in “future studies on climate change”, would you not consider that the purpose of such interference was to delay mitigation efforts?

  100. Pete Dunkelberg:

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

    + 10

  101. Pete Dunkelberg:

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

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan

    + 10

  102. 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.

  103. 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]]

  104. 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.


  105. 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.

  106. 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.

  107. 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]

  108. 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.

  109. 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.

  110. 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.

  111. 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?

  112. 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.

  113. 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.

  114. 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


  115. 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

  116. Camburn:

    Excellent idea which should be very procutive.

  117. 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)

  118. 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).

  119. 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.

  120. Hank Roberts:

    > the many topics where no skeptics exist.

    You can find _anything _ on the Internet.

  121. Eli Rabett:

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

  122. 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

  123. David B. Benson:

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

  124. 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.

  125. 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!

  126. 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?

  127. 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?

  128. 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.

  129. 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?

  130. 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.

  131. 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)…?”

  132. 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.

  133. 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.

  134. 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.

  135. 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.

  136. 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.

  137. 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.

  138. 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.”

  139. Eli Rabett:

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

  140. 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.

  141. 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.

  142. 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.

  143. 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.

  144. 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.

  145. 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.

  146. 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.

  147. 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.

  148. 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 ?

  149. 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.

  150. 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.

  151. Lotharsson:

    An upgrade to present pretty good layout is suggested, …

    I was visualising something based on DeepClimate & Mashey’s illustrations of Wegman plagiarism. The original claims from each party can remain intact, but color coding and hyperlinking can be used to indicate which portions of those claims are disputed (and perhaps at a high level, for what reason). The links could take readers to the section where the reason for the color coding is given and disputed claims are further discussed.

    It might be quite useful to see that (say) 50% of Curry’s claims are coloured red because they have no physical basis or no basis in the literature or are strongly undermined by evidence or …

    However the concern I have is that you’ll have “skeptics” dubiously color-coding most of the non-“skeptic” statements – so perhaps this process would need moderation to vet color-coding requests as having a plausible basis before being applied. Then again, the moderation would likely become a subject of contention. So maybe this is not a good idea in the first place.

  152. Hank Roberts:

    > Non-S

  153. David B. Benson:

    Non-Scientist @150 — Briefly (as this is actually off topic for this thread), read Mark Lynas’s “Six Degrees”:
    and then ask further questions on the latest Unforced Variations thread, several down from the top.

  154. Edward Greisch:

    On my own comment at 61: I part company with “Why We Disagree About Climate Change” by Mike Hulme on page 77 where Hulme advocates Kuhn’s “Structure of Scientific Revolutions.” Kuhn didn’t learn the lesson that Nature rules, not scientists. What we measure in the lab is the truth. Theory must match experiment and not the other way around. Change 61 debate type 2 to read: “Social scientists are invited to explain why people choose to believe absurd things. Social scientists are invited to tell us how to educate the public. Brain researchers are invited to tell us about human foibles that are preventing action on GW.”

  155. Susan Anderson:

    Russell @~76

    Singer, pour epater les bourgeois? Quelle horreur! (I have no German)

    va va va voom

  156. wayne davidson:

    dbostrom, CD is doomed if they do not take statements from the best scientists in the world seriously. For me when Dr Curry says something that is meaningless, and the two other experts are too polite to ask for clarification, its not a dialogue its a free for all statement palooza, completely boring, is like commercials, the mind shuts down after 10 seconds. If its in their charter to place contrarians on an equal footing as guys like Hansen, its double doomed. On the other hand quite valuable if errors are identified and corrected, especially by contrarians who badly need to be enhanced by others so lucky to know correct science.

    Dhogaza, ironic isn’t it? Yet many people from there are my heroes, Lorenz, Van Gogh, Rembrandt and so many more. Don’t judge the country by their leaders!
    But by the live styles of its people. They invented the telescope and they shop for groceries at the mall with bicycles. In North america many drive suv’s to corner stores just to buy chips and pop. There is a difference.

  157. Hank Roberts:

    “Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) is part of a growing coalition backing a carbon tax as an alternative to costly regulation, giving newfound prominence to an idea once anathema in Washington.

    Conservative economists and fossil-fuel lobbyists united in 2009 to fend off climate-change legislation that would have established a cap-and-trade mechanism. They are now locked in a backroom debate over a tax on carbon-dioxide emissions that could raise an estimated $100 billion in its first year….”

    ReCaptcha oracle predicts, um, hard to tell:
    “its usender”

  158. dbostrom:

    … a rather strange result from just moving carbon around – those tons of fossil fuel were above ground at some point, in forms of life.

    Carbon was above ground sure enough but not as a constituent of the compound C02 mixed into the atmosphere. As well, those atoms of carbon were distributed over a vast swathe of time, not liberated into the atmosphere as part of C02 and then belched out in a handful of decades.

    Whatever we do, the laws of Nature will operate just fine.

    Absolutely. And the “law of nature” may dictate that we’ve made it impossible for all but a few hundred million or a billion or so of us to live on the planet. Those in favor of radical population control measures will be attracted by this option. Meanwhile, if by a continuing “miracle of life” you mean a population radically different and much simpler than the present miracle you’re certainly correct. Pond scum is a “miracle of life.” Do we want to emulate pond scum? I thought we were smarter than algae and endowed with more foresight but maybe not?

  159. Kevin McKinney:

    “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.”

    Well, sure. But “Nature” usually refers in this sort of context to the biosphere primarily. And while there’s a lot we don’t specifically know in relation to your very pertinent questions, we do have very good reason to believe that warming will indeed “damage” the functioning of the biosphere. For example:

    “These results suggest that predictions are robust to methodological assumptions and provide strong empirical support for the assertion that anthropogenic climate change is now a major threat to global biodiversity.”

    “Mean extinction probability”–I’d like to understand the applicability of that term more precisely, by the way, though the general gist seems self-explanatory–ranged from 7% to 15% by 2100. And of course both warming and species loss would continue long past 2100 under BAU (‘business as usual’).

    Philosophically, physics is easy to view through a value-free lens: “the laws of Nature will continue to operate.” Biology, not so much, because (most, though not all, people would agree) living beings have interests in some sense, and hence value in some sense. And pragmatically, though it is not always easy to trace, ecology tells us that species have specific value for/to all other species (including humans.) That’s why UUs, for instance, consider “the interdependent web of life” to be a spiritual matter.

  160. Ray Ladbury:

    Nonscientist, One way of looking at the situation is to visualize the atmosphere as a bunch of layers–blankets if you will. The amount of heat that escapes ultimately depends on how thick that top blanket is. We’ve increased the thickness of that top blanket by 40%.

    And yes, it is true that the carbon formerly sequestered in the oil and coal fields was part of the biosphere…in the Permain. What we are doing is recreating the climate under which dinosaurs thrived. This will be unlikely to be a climate under which civilization thrives.

    And no, we are not damaging nature. Rather we are damaging the ability of the planet to support a comples global civilization of hominids.

  161. Ray Ladbury:

    I like Horatio’s suggestion of renaming the project Climate Denialogue. Failing that, we could perhaps call it “Narcissists Need Love, Too”.

    Perhaps we need a psychologist to inform the Parliament that enabling is not a good strategy in dealing with the mentally ill.

  162. dhogaza:

    Wayne Davison:

    Dhogaza, ironic isn’t it? Yet many people from there are my heroes, Lorenz, Van Gogh, Rembrandt and so many more. Don’t judge the country by their leaders!
    But by the live styles of its people. They invented the telescope and they shop for groceries at the mall with bicycles. In North america many drive suv’s to corner stores just to buy chips and pop. There is a difference.

    Yes, these cultural differences, unrelated to politics, are interesting. I don’t judge the country’s culture by their leaders. Likewise I don’t judge the country’s politics by its culture. I judge it by who they’re voting into office. In this case, classic economic liberals (i.e. free market worshippers). The arguments they make about climate science echo Lomborg more than Watts, but it’s denialism all the same. As has been pointed out, there’s no reason to speculate about the government’s goals with Climate Dialogue: they’re stated right there at the site, for you and I and others to read.

    I’ve spent months in the Netherlands, much of it working with and/or doing business with the Dutch. There are aspects of Dutch culture I like and admire very much. Others, well, not so much.

  163. Hank Roberts:

    > Some will even replot the data to conform to their own theories

    When referring people other than yourself, you should cite a source.

    Saying “some will …” may lead a naive reader to think you’re speaking of someone else’s work. Hypocrisy is difficult to detect; citing sources allows readers to see the facts behind the claims.

  164. Leonard Evens:

    It seems to me that industry sources will support right wing ideologues as long as it seems worth their while. But they can easily reverse course when it becomes a matter of choosing a method they feel they can work with.

    The element of the obamacare which met with the most resistance was the requirement that people who opted out should pay a tax. It is little understood that this was put in place by lobbyists from the health insurance industry. As long as they felt they could avoid providing universal coverage, they were happy to support the right wing ideologues. But when it became clear that they were going to be required to cover all who applied, they had to support some coercive measures to make sure everyone was in the system. Otherwise, it would have been impossible for them to calculate their costs. If Romney had won, we can assume he would have tried to abolish obamacare, but he would have found it difficult not to provide guarantees for medical insurance. Given that, the medical insurance industry would have forced him to accept something requiring everyone to be covered.

    With respect to climate change, once industry faces the problems brought about by unrestricted burning of fossil fuels, they will have to advocate the least objectionable—to them—method of restricting fossil fulel use, i.e., a Carbon Tax.

    There is a lesson to be learned from CFCs. Once the inudstry’s own chemists confrmed to their bosses that their really was a problem, industry did an about face and found they could do business with restrictions in place by selling substitutes. They weren’t embarassed about dropping their support of Singer and others who still insisted the science about CFCs and ozone depletion was wrong.

  165. Hank Roberts:

    > CFCs. Once the inudstry’s own chemists confrmed to their bosses
    > that their really was a problem, industry did an about face

    for “problem” substitute “replacement” and you’ve got it right.
    Industry needs delays long enough to move their investment to the new profitable area as the science and the rules change.

    “Deny, Delay, Dominate and Dump”

    The problem for the ordinary citizen is figuring out which of those walnut shells the little green pea is actually underneath:

  166. cRR Kampen:

    #96 @Jim – I am familiar with ClimateDialogue and believe me, I raised points like Tamino’s and SecularAnimist’s even before it aired.

    The question ‘give it a chance to what?’ shrieks an answer, a very explicit and very precise one, because otherwise said authors are simply right. The site will be a climate revisionist’s tool and for now is this exactly.

    #98, let me suggest – especially after Curry’s resounding succes: Bob Tisdale.

  167. Superman1:

    Right church; wrong pew. A debate would be useful, but not the one proposed. Any credible debate between ‘deniers’ and believers’ has long ended. The proposed ‘debate’ is a manufactured ‘debate. The real debate that needs to take place is between those who believe there is a ‘window’ to dodge major catastrophe and those who believe that we have passed the point of no return.

    I am in the latter category, but am open to evidence that would convince me otherwise. I have yet to see such evidence on this blog or on Climate Progress. I see hand-waving and ‘feel-good’ arguments about how the situation can be turned around, but have yet to see a credible Roadmap placing all the various concepts proposed in the context of what is required. A debate on these issues, with ‘fire’ instead of ‘smoke’, would be most welcomed.

  168. Superman1:

    I spent much of my career in the research arm of the Federal government. Whenever the Administration wanted to delay or avoid action on a technically-based concept, their response was always ‘more research needed’. We would then be deluged with research funds, which impressed the scientific community to no small measure, and masked the reality of the concept being effectively tabled.

    Here, the Dutch have taken a more cost-effective approach to delay action. Rather than ‘more research’, they have implemented ‘more debate’. Such debate, especially with ‘denier’ representatives participating, is guaranteed to stretch out the process of inaction for years to come. The ethical and moral step would be for RealClimate to stand up and say they refuse to participate in such a charade.

    [Response:Personally, I’m with you on this Super. But this is a group blog, and the collective view of the group (within which there is diverse opinion) was that it was worth letting Bart at least make his case. -Mike]

  169. LH:

    @ Bart Strengers (or anyone else from Climate Dialogue)

    Overall, I think this is a good format for furthering discussion. To make it even better, I would like to echo or add to what others have said:

    1. The FAQs state that scientists are chosen to represent different viewpoints, but I think this could be more detailed for each individual topic. For each of the authors, give us a paragraph or two on how they were chosen – what they have done in the past that made you choose them, etc

    2. Your site should not be (ab)used as an opportunity to drive traffic to a blog to increase ad revenue, cough…Judith Curry…cough. All relevant links to source material should be included in their submission to you, which was done by both Drs. Meier and Lindsay. As mentioned by Craig @ 86, it appears intentionally misleading, or at least obfuscating, to make several statements and leave it to the reader to hunt down their validity.

  170. pete best:

    I thought that all scientists are intrinsically skeptical so if the vast majority of work submitted for peer review and presented at conferences of peers is saying the earths atmosphere and oceans are warming due to the emissions of CO2 by humankind then its not even a balance of argument argument is it but one of a scientific nature.

    Now comes the nonsensical bit, that of journalism and hence what is reports on and how it is cast due to the law of the land etc. I dont remember science being left of right wing but humans are painted this way hence the ad hominem attacks etc. Therefore Judith Curry and others will always get air time whenever politics and journalism is involved.

    Although does not report to politics it is entwined with it when it comes to what is its significance. 100 ppmv extra added without many people noticing too much and adding at a rate of 2 ppmv per year and presently increasing is a big issue for those that understand its potenital impact but for those that go to work everyday, have children and want the best for them etc might not quite know what people here know and hence any forum of rational debate and presentation is a good thing right? After all the contrarians cant win, they can only delay but action is delayed long enough but how can another another decade (20 ppmv) of delay hurt all that much so long as its not too late?

  171. Hank Roberts:

    > once industry faces the problems brought about by
    > unrestricted burning of fossil fuels, they will have to
    > advocate the least objectionable—to them—method of
    > restricting fossil fulel use, i.e., a Carbon Tax.

    Already (news article from November 13, 2012)

  172. flxible:

    “. . . but how can another another decade (20 ppmv) of delay hurt all that much so long as its not too late?”
    Maybe already too late.

  173. Hank Roberts:

    For Pete Best, who asked:
    > how can another another decade (20 ppmv) of delay hurt
    > all that much so long as its not too late?

    I pasted your question into Google Scholar.
    The first page of results for 2012 included, for example, this:

    Climatic Change
    Volume 114, Number 1 (2012), 79-99, DOI: 10.1007/s10584-011-0128-3
    Time to act now? Assessing the costs of delaying climate measures and benefits of early action

    “… postponing a global agreement to 2020 raises global mitigation costs by at least about half and a delay to 2030 renders ambitious climate targets infeasible to achieve.”

    You will find more answers; those published in reputable journals are in that range.

    You know the usual litany?

    We are just passing the last bit of “you can’t prove it’s happening”
    and haven’t quite entered “it’s too late to do anything anyhow”
    in the standard response series used by the denial industry.

    Don’t blink.
    You might miss the opportunity.

  174. dhogaza:

    [Response:Personally, I’m with you on this Super. But this is a group blog, and the collective view of the group (within which there is diverse opinion) was that it was worth letting Bart at least make his case. -Mike]

    I’m glad RC has let them post their case here. Not sure what they’ll do with the feedback but at least they’re getting feedback from mostly thoughtful people.

  175. Steven Franzen:

    @Wayne Davidson (143), dhogaza and others: As a Dutch reader, I am not so sure about the progressiveness of our leaders. We, too, have contrarian blogs and opinion leaders, we have Shell. We have an energy tax system that benefits the biggest energy consumers most, and our governments have taken little initiative to stimulate new energy sources, compared to surrounding nations (esp. Germany); just to name a few things.

    For some background, a right-leaning newspaper reported this in 2010 when the conservative-liberal party VVD proposed the parliamentary motion that eventually led to the Climate Dialogue initiative:

    The VVD wants independent research into global warming, now that our country has been dealing with freezing cold for weeks. “We have to know what’s going on, especially with this weather”, said MP Neppérus (VVD).

    Independent of what? The thousands of publications so far, the majority of which independently pointing in very similar directions? Who knows, but it’s a nice word that sounds positive anyway. Extra points for obligatory reference to cold January weather.

    Last week, in a different newspaper, I found this article introducing Climate Dialogue, written by the paper’s chief science editor:

    […] Though the internet is already teeming with climate blogs, these generally operate on the assumption that the world is either warming catastrophically or not warming at all. Climate Dialogue intends to bring proponents and opponents closer together. […]

    It also contains a few “controversial topics” sound bites, among which:

    CO2 is heating the earth
    Skeptics: Yes, but only about 1 degree per doubling of CO2.
    Warmists: Yes, with a doubling of CO2 we could easily get 5 degrees of warming.

    Antarctica is melting!
    Skeptics: Only the south-western tip, and that’s because it’s in a warm sea current.
    Warmists: You should buy a rowing boat, it’s going wrong.

    Note: this was not published as an op-ed and this newspaper is known as left-leaning. Yet it manages no better than this extreme caricature. It appears as if only Marcel Crok was interviewed.

    If there is any balance anywhere, it’s only in the amount of attention gained in news items like these. Yet, that’s where most of the lay public (including politicians) reads and hears about science, and they use that, not the actual science, to bolster their ideas. In reality of course, the landscape is more diverse than these clear-cut, equally supportable “sides” as if it’s a boxing match, and the suggestion that this is so only really benefits those distracting us from the data: they can freely move around and dodge while scientists are much more confined by evidence and the scientific method.

    IMHO, it would already be an achievement for this initiative to get the participants to agree to talk the same science, keep it clearly separated from policy, and document their claims. I really hope, but am not overly optimistic, that Climate Dialogue will achieve anything in this direction.

    As noted, getting Judith Curry to do these things has been much like pinning jelly to a wall; she has been more than happy to play into the “two camps” theme, positioning herself as a bridge-builder, while unfortunately not hesitating to tar one of the intended bridgeheads with words like “cadre”, “dogma” and “high priests”.

    But we need not worry, Curry herself provides us with some valuable advice:

    Ignoring or insulting such people doesn’t make them go away. Identifying the flaws in their argument and then seeing them demonstrate untrustworthy behavior is the way to diminish any credibility they have.

    Judith, will you take it?

  176. pete best:

    Re #173 – it might be tool late for 2C for not catastrophe:

    From Bill Mcgibbons Do the Math tour:

    Do The Math is based on a very simple premise. In order to have a serious chance (better than 3 in 4) of limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius — a threshold needed to prevent catastrophic climate change — the world can only emit about 565 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2050. We will burn through that carbon in 16 years at our current rate. Fossil fuel companies have reported their intent to burn reserves of carbon five times that amount. So preventing uncontrollable global warming means keeping roughly 80 percent of proven carbon reserves in the ground.

    So thats 2C out of the window, but catostrophe can be averted. I doubt any acknowledge climate scientist here would say ” its too late”.

  177. Bart Verheggen:

    Hi all,

    Although I haven’t had time to respond much here, I’m reading along and so are some of the ClimateDialogue editors.

    As I mentioned before, I share much of the concerns raised here, esp about the risks for false balance (which is really what most criticism comes down to I think; correct me if I’m wrong).

    But I think there’s a baby in the bathwater as well.

    The heavily polarized nature of the climate debate is not conducive to the public’s trust in science. Fighting skeptics as if it’s some kind of (cold) war is clearly not working; it’s counterproductive in many ways.

    Everything we tried so far has failed. So to those saying this is dangerous, bad, or what not, my question would be: What do you suggest we do instead to regain the public’s trust in science and stop the cold-war type state that is clearly detrimental to science’s credibility?

    And remember: The ClimateDialogue discussions are what people make of it. If good scientists with good debating skills participate, the validity of claims will become clearer. The more mainstream scientists shy away from participating, the more the risk that the better arguments remain hidden. That way a flood of criticism could actually become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    The platform provides a chance to make the distinction clearer between well informed argumentation and conjecture. Whether it delivers on that possibility depends very much on the discussants.

  178. dhogaza:

    I share much of the concerns raised here, esp about the risks for false balance (which is really what most criticism comes down to I think; correct me if I’m wrong)

    False equivalence and a platform for posting blatantly misleading information under the guise of sciencey language backed by the credibility of having been given a place at the table.

    Speaking for myself.

    But I think there’s a baby in the bathwater as well.

    Nice analogy … babies in bathwater need close monitoring and supervision by adults. More than Baby Climate Dialogue is getting thus far.

    If good scientists with good debating skills participate, the validity of claims will become clearer. The more mainstream scientists shy away from participating, the more the risk that the better arguments remain hidden. That way a flood of criticism could actually become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Over at your blog, I posted that skeptics like Curry – who desperately seeks validation and credibility – have every reason to be much more highly motivated than mainstream scientist who, after all, have gained credibility and validation through the normal channels of scientific publications, etc.

    I see no way around this. I suggest we’re seeing this in action, as Curry’s posting something like 3-4 times as often as the other two. She’s also up to her old tricks of not really answering many of the questions put to her, as can be seen in the non-professional section by questioners complaining of this and asking again.

    The fact that DanH is praising the “balance” thus far seen pretty much sums up how tipped towards the skeptic case the dialogue seems to be tipping thus far.

  179. Steven Franzen:

    @pete best (170):

    […] any forum of rational debate and presentation is a good thing right?

    That’s what I’m inclined to think as well, as long as each sticks to the same set of rules. It would already be a breath of fresh air if the… wonky types of argumentation often encountered on the internet can be avoided.

    @Dan H.:
    Well, I was already quite happy to have websites such as this one, weren’t you?

    @All: To be fair about Dutch media I should add that the newspaper I quoted/translated does not always do such polarised reporting on climate change, which is why I was surprised that they did for the Climate Dialogue announcement.

    As a counterexample, the same editor wrote a much more moderate piece a couple of weeks ago about the difficulties in attributing specific events (hurricane Sandy; floods) to a warmer climate, while still being able to say something about the parameters influencing such events in general. Coincidentally, he linked to Judith Curry’s blog, writing “But the mafia is also right.” in a police vs. mafia narrative. Heh.

    As for the rest of the media, well there sure are a couple of conservative-aligned papers and blogs downplaying the science, the rest I think tends to stick closer to the science, and so do the public TV channels.

    In politics, it is true that the conservative-liberal VVD is currently the biggest party, but it has to govern in a coalition with the similar-sized PvdA (“Labour”). I don’t think any single party has ever held a majority of seats, so parties always have to trade and soften some of their agenda points when governing.

  180. Ray Ladbury:

    Bart, I have great respect for you as a scientist and a person. I know your heart is in the right place.

    It has been my experience that science does not fare well when placed on stage alongside anti-science in front of a lay audience that doesn’t understand the difference. Scientists are bound to follow rigid rules and not go beyond what the evidence allows. Anti-scientists play Calvinball, viewing evidence as a mere inconvenience limiting their powers of imagination.

    Aunt Judy has made it quite clear that she has lost all interest in actually doing science, preferring to look for Uncertainty Monsters (ooga-booga) under the bed. She cannot be bothered to consider evidence even when it is supplied by one of her collaborators. She’s like Dick Lindzen now. She’d rather have the adulation of ignorant sycophants than the respect of her former peers.

    There are better choices among the pseudoskeptics–Roy Spencer is still doing science…sort of. And I believe Pielke the Elder and reality still may exchange Christmas greetings. However, the only way I can see Judy getting the respect she deserves is if she agrees to appear in clown makeup.

  181. Susan Anderson:

    Bart Verheggen and Bart Strengers:

    By promoting the idea of conflict, you do nothing more than promote the idea of conflict. A public display of “what’s wrong with this picture” does not advance the science, nor does it advance public opinion.

  182. sidd:

    Advocatus Diaboli: Laughing the deniers outta town is clearly working. Even in the gluttonous USA vehicle miles travelled down, floodzone insurance up, crop insurance up, public transit ridership up, urbania populating and suburbia depopulating, coal electric run outta bizness, Jabba the Hutt warlord of New Jersey endorsing Obama…

    Advocatus Dei: Yes, but too slowly. We need miracles yesterday, and more faster today. Let us talk to the opposition to see if we can negotiate a faster approach to overturning the Keeling curve.

    Advocatus Diaboli: Miracles you will have when coal companies are prosecuted in the Hague.

    Advocatus Dei: Patience, grasshopper. First, attack the strategy. Part of their plan is to paint the climate dialogue as being polarized between an arrogant and deceiving academic elite and an honest, shrewd, hardworking populace who rightly fear draconian limitations on their lives.

    Advocatus Diaboli: Isn’t that true ? We do deceive them already. The future is not only worse than they imagine, it is worse than they can imagine.

    Advocatus Dei: Yes, but we can’t say that !

    segue to ‘Yes, Prime Minister’


  183. wayne davidson:

    Bart, CD is not enough of a dialogue to be separated from what is already available online. The format does not encourage anyone to participate because all three experts are not answering the same good pertinent questions , and the experts except for Lindsay, are shy to reproach or correct any mistakes done by the others. What is really missing in science is recognition of excellence and the opposite tedious; confronting pseudo allegations masquerading as science.

    A different format aimed at ascending correct science would serve everyone well, and would be a truer dialogue. Onto itself an invitation to all.

  184. Hank Roberts:

    > What do you suggest we do instead to regain
    > the public’s trust in science

    What levels of trust, by what groups, constitute the assumption behind the question?


    “… We asked respondents to rank how much they trusted various groups of people on a scale of 1 (strongly distrust) to 5 (strongly trust). Scientists came out on top by a healthy margin. When we asked how much people trust what scientists say on a topic-by-topic basis, only three topics (including, surprisingly, evolution) garnered a stronger vote of confidence than scientists did as a whole….”

    If you’re counting comments or visits to the website, what steps do you take to filter out fakes?

  185. Craig Nazor:

    Bart, I respect the way you have sought criticism and are dealing with the input.

    The climate debate has been (and continues to be) polarized through a very shrewd, years-long campaign instigated and funded by those with a large financial investment in carbon fuels. The question isn’t whether the “skeptics” or the “warmists” win “the debate” – the question is whether the general public can learn to understand and therefore trust science sufficiently and in enough time to make an intelligent political decision. What works most strongly against this is when a “scientist” betrays their discipline and ignores the rules of scientific debate, in part by not providing the proper documentation for statements of fact. Instead, they substitute speculation, faulty logic, negative assessments of he ability of science to answer our questions, and appeals to emotion (particularly fear), all to manipulate a less intellectually astute audience. These tactics are actually designed to sustain the polarization by providing “scientists” whom those who don’t understand science can “trust” as a valid alternate “scientific opinion.” Such an approach is not likely to further scientific understanding, because the whole object has become to win the debate. We have a name for professional debate winners: lawyers.

    If you really want to win an argument, you hire a lawyer. Lawyers become “experts” in whatever field they are required to argue, so it helps if they are smart and fast learners. Their real skill (aside from knowledge of the law) is how to effectively debate (using logical arguments or, if that fails, appeals to emotion; the object is to win the debate). Most scientists aren’t going to waste time with that – they are going to be doing research.

    So good luck with your approach; unfortunately, I do not have much faith that it will change the public’s opinion of science. I think what is going to happen (actually, is already happening) is that, as climate catastrophes build in frequency and destructive intensity, more and more people will just fill the streets and demand action. It will be the late 60’s USA, worldwide, on steroids, and without the drugs. Will this happen in time to avoid the worst effects of global warming? I don’t know, but it may be the only option left. Some of us are already on it.

    We have been cursed to live in interesting times.

  186. pete best:

    Ah yes here we are on the entire ACC Debacle when it comes planning for a low carbon future. In the UK newspaper the Guardian today although this was available some weeks ago ( there is a report stating that globally 1200 coal fired power plants are in the pipeline.

    The world bank then produce this report ( statng that as investments go, ACC is very real and very bad for their business and hence our global certainty.

    However in report one regarding who is backing coal globally, the world bank is mentioned as investing $5 billion along with a lot more banks investing in the billionsso its a big contradiction or is it that the written word is easy regardless of how scary it is whilst reality is unstoppable. So forget your government and Judith Curry, and all of the pontificating, its time to lobby your banks at along with Bill Mcgibbon and get them to stop investing in these projects.

    Its one surefire way to stop those 1200 coal fired power stations from being built. James Hansen is right in getting arrested whilst everyone just talks about it.

  187. pete best:

    One more little point regarding ACC as well is this recent report of peer reviewed articles that speak of ACC and those against:

    When it comes down to it – do we really need for open debate with a few obviously philisophically/idealogically and not scientifically driven individuals who are given air time when its patently obviously that the debate is over surely.

  188. Bart Verheggen:

    Thanks for your friendly words.
    About the value of debate I’m of two minds. Regarding an oral debate that caters to the short attention span and where rhetorical skills determine the outcome to a large extent, I agree that it’s of relatively little value (though even there, not participating may actually be more harmful than participating).
    But this is a written blog. Scientists can craft a careful argument and respond in writing. It’s very close to their comfort-zone and not unlike a review cycle of a scientific manuscript. The fact that it’s done in the open (“on a stage in front of a lay audience”) is of course a feature of the whole thing, and a good one I think: Science has to come out of the ivory tower to become better understood and better trusted.
    Ideally, the format would crystallize such that it becomes clear who backs up their opinion with evidence and solid arguments and who does not. It already is quite clear to the astute observant, and it could become even more clear if more scientists would participate, and if they would be as active in the discussion as the one merely conjecturing.
    And btw, the names you’re mentioning are indeed likely candidates for future discussions.

    ClimateDialogue tries above all to promote the idea of scientists having an open dialogue with each other and not being afraid to be confronted with criticism. With a large fraction of the public and of politicians believing the opposite, this is direly needed.

    Tamino (76),
    “have climate scientists discuss points of contention in a public forum” is exactly what we’re setting out to do. If a good discussion ensues, it should become clear whether someone is a “fake skeptic”, so what’s the problem? I know that’s a pretty big if and that it hasn’t fully delivered to this promise, but the problem is not with the format or the forum.

  189. jake:

    Bart: “the risks for false balance”
    False balance is guaranteed.

    It appears to be the objective of CD. Not every view on climate change is worth exploring again.

    I appreciate if you have good intent, but it is not as if dialogue has not been happening. Viewpoints of sceptics are considered. Some of them pass peer-review and end up in IPCC reports. Others end up in the science bin (& on blogs like WUWT). One of the major problems is that there is too much dialogue occurring outside the peer-reviewed journals.

  190. Vilnius:

    Hank @184: that survey unfortunately doesn’t say much about public trust in science. Here’s the demographic they polled, in their own words:

    “More than 21,000 people responded via the Web sites of Nature and of Scientific American and its international editions. As expected, it was a supportive and science-literate crowd—19 percent identified themselves as Ph.Ds.”

    I do not, alas, think that we can extend their findings to the public at large.

  191. Radge Havers:


    The problem is poorly defined.
    The expected outcome is poorly defined (probably not even measured), therefore
    The method is poorly defined.
    Is this the level of rigor you apply when you do science?

    For examples of how to just put it out there and talk to the general public, look to Neil deGrasse Tyson, Carl Sagan, Charlie Rose’s brain series, and so on. Adding mischievious mystics to the mix will not help de-mystify the subject.

    But hey, if you thing giving the thugs a venue in which to steal your lunch money will win you sympathy, by all means go ahead and impoverish.

  192. Susan Anderson:

    Thanks Bart V. Not being a scientist, I have a nerve weighing in at all. I think Craig Nazor best expresses some of my issues here. It’s the entrenched, powerful, professional level of the “opposition” that is always underestimated and/or understated.

    a very shrewd, years-long campaign instigated and funded by those with a large financial investment in carbon fuels. The question isn’t whether the “skeptics” or the “warmists” win “the debate” – the question is whether the general public can learn to understand and therefore trust science sufficiently and in enough time to make an intelligent political decision. What works most strongly against this is when a “scientist” betrays their discipline and ignores the rules of scientific debate, in part by not providing the proper documentation for statements of fact. Instead, they substitute speculation, faulty logic, negative assessments of he ability of science to answer our questions, and appeals to emotion (particularly fear), all to manipulate a less intellectually astute audience. These tactics are actually designed to sustain the polarization by providing “scientists” whom those who don’t understand science can “trust” as a valid alternate “scientific opinion.” Such an approach is not likely to further scientific understanding, because the whole object has become to win the debate. We have a name for professional debate winners: lawyers.

    I think the distinction between science, a discipline interested in advancing understanding and learning the truth, and “debate” which has very different “winners” and “losers” who are endangering our futures by their delight in the game and in many cases their vested interests.

  193. dhogaza:

    Bart V:

    If a good discussion ensues, it should become clear whether someone is a “fake skeptic”, so what’s the problem? I know that’s a pretty big if and that it hasn’t fully delivered to this promise, but the problem is not with the format or the forum.

    Of course it is a problem with the forum. A discussion among practioners who represent the full range of views within a scientific field would be welcome.

    The problem is when you invite someone like Curry whose views lie outside the range of accepted science and whose track record proves her perfectly willing to be dishonest and to ignore or denigrate any scientific work which derails her arguments.

    Again, her very presence elevates her credibility and status. This is not like a discussion among practicing biologists regarding (say) the evolution of intelligence. This is like a “discussion” between biologists and William Dembski.

  194. SecularAnimist:

    The journal Nature has published an opinion piece by Jeremy Grantham, founder of the investment firm GMO and co-chair of the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, who has something to say that’s relevant to this discussion (emphasis added):

    I have yet to meet a climate scientist who does not believe that global warming is a worse problem than they thought a few years ago. The seriousness of this change is not appreciated by politicians and the public. The scientific world carefully measures the speed with which we approach the cliff and will, no doubt, carefully measure our rate of fall. But it is not doing enough to stop it

    Scientists are understandably protective of the dignity of science and are horrified by publicity and overstatement. These fears, unfortunately, are not shared by their opponents, which makes for a rather painful one-sided battle. Overstatement may generally be dangerous in science (it certainly is for careers) but for climate change, uniquely, understatement is even riskier and therefore, arguably, unethical.

    It is crucial that scientists take more career risks and sound a more realistic, more desperate, note on the global-warming problem. Younger scientists are obsessed by thoughts of tenure, so it is probably up to older, senior and retired scientists to do the heavy lifting. Be arrested if necessary. This is not only the crisis of your lives — it is also the crisis of our species’ existence. I implore you to be brave.

    With all due respect, what the world needs from climate scientists is not polite and respectful “dialogue” that legitimizes those who have deliberately and knowingly engaged in a generation-long campaign of deceit, denial, obstruction and delay.

    What the world needs you to do is to denounce those people as the frauds and shills that they are.

    What the world needs you do is to scream from the rooftops with all your might at the policymakers in governments and corporations that the situation is far worse — and getting worse faster — than you ever thought possible, and that the time in which urgent action stands a chance of preventing catastrophe is rapidly running out.

    What the world needs you to do is to realize that this is not a “scientific debate” any more — you WON the scientific debate decades ago.

    What’s going on now is a desperate struggle to save human civilization — and much of the Earth’s biosphere — from destruction. And there is no more powerful weapon in that struggle than your voices — IF you will raise them.

  195. tamino:

    I too have great respect for your efforts and your intentions. But intentions sometimes pave the road to hell.

    “have climate scientists discuss points of contention in a public forum” is exactly what we’re setting out to do. If a good discussion ensues, it should become clear whether someone is a “fake skeptic”, so what’s the problem?

    You failed to quote my following statement: that “this first effort completely fails to do so.” That is the problem. Please don’t be intent on ignoring it.

    The first CD post did not discuss a point of genuine scientific contention. Instead Judith Curry used it to dispute a point of fact. Shame on her. Shame on you for allowing that to happen.

    As for the big “if” — whether or not a “good discussion ensues” — so far you’re 0 for 1. Not good.

    As for its becoming clear if someone is a “fake skeptic,” do you really not realize that the lay public is not equipped to make this call? All that most people see is an argument, and as the old saying goes, when you argue with an idiot, most people can’t tell who is who.

    There is no hope for the CD forum unless, and until, you acknowledge that your first effort was worse than a complete failure. Not only did you fail to move the discussion forward, you actually moved it backward. When you comment here again and admit that, then we can talk again.

  196. Hank Roberts:

    vilnius, I offered that one example of what’s available.

    My question was: what definition of “public” and “trust” is used by the Climatedialogue group?

    Climatedialogue says the public mistrusts science.

    Citation needed.

    The Dutch public? Dutch science? What, specifically?

  197. Superman1:

    Bart Verheggen #177,

    “Everything we tried so far has failed. So to those saying this is dangerous, bad, or what not, my question would be: What do you suggest we do instead to regain the public’s trust in science and stop the cold-war type state that is clearly detrimental to science’s credibility?”

    You have raised an important issue, and the responses so far have only addressed bits and pieces, including my recommendations to 1) change the charter of the debate to whether or not we have passed the point of no return and 2) have your group and RC refuse to participate in the charade as structured presently. The larger context is that we are operating in a democratic system, and we have a minority that is being outvoted by a majority. Both sides are presently contributing to the problem by their daily actions. The minority understands what is necessary to solve the problem, and would be willing to make the sacrifices required to solve the problem. The majority may or may not understand what is required to solve the problem, and through some combination of greed or addiction or ignorance or apathy is not willing to make the necessary sacrifices to solve the problem. What options are open to the minority, recognizing that if immediate action is not taken to solve the problem, both the minority and the majority will go under?

    One option is the legal approach. There have been instances where a minority has been able to get laws implemented, or gain protection from the law to safeguard its interests; the Civil Rights laws in the USA come to mind. I’m not sufficiently familiar with environmental law to know what suits are possible, and against whom. In addition, the Civil Rights movement involved much collective action and non-violent resistance, including the willingness of participants to shed blood and give up their lives, if necessary.

    Another option is revolution. There have been many examples in the past where a minority has exerted its will against an oppressive majority. However, these cases usually involved a motivated minority, and a majority a large fraction of which was relatively neutral. I don’t see an adequate motivated minority today willing to go the distance to eliminate fossil fuels.

    A third option is conversion of the majority through education, and then taking large-scale collective action (boycotts, disinvestment, etc). This is essentially what your effort proposes to do, on a very small scale. Unfortunately, if the inherent problem is addiction to a high energy lifestyle enabled mainly by the availability of cheap fossil energy, I fail to see where education will help. It seems to me that successful efforts against addiction have required more of a hands-on approach, like that of Alcoholics Anonymous or Gamblers Anonymous. Maybe that’s what’s required for fossil fuel users, but it’s a long-term approach at best. We don’t have the time!

    There are undoubtedly other options possible, and equally questionable. I’m not sure that this type of problem is actually solvable under democratic government, especially with an electorate saddled with addiction, greed, and apathy. I’m starting to believe that serious action will be taken only when the climate upheaval topples democratic governments and authoritarian replacements introduce the strictest of measures.

    In summary, I have no promising alternatives to offer. Your choice at this point boils down to whether you want to be a ‘good soldier’ and go through with this meaningless ‘debate’, or whether you are willing to tell your sponsors that this is a charade, and you refuse to participate. There are times when doing nothing may be better than doing something meaningless.

  198. Jim Larsen:

    Dr Curry’s initial post brought up a lot of discussion on snow cover. In its current format, the casual visitor to your site will be cheated of the results of that discussion. Perhaps each scientist should write both initial and final position posts.

    Captcha says, “easurybs said”

  199. Hank Roberts:

    We are this season’s people.

    We are all the people there are, this season.

    If we blow it, it’s blown.

    — Shlomo Carlebach

  200. Hank Roberts:

  201. Alastair McDonald:

    Hi Bart,

    You wrote “Everything we tried so far has failed. So to those saying this is dangerous, bad, or what not, my question would be: What do you suggest we do instead to regain the public’s trust in science and stop the cold-war type state that is clearly detrimental to science’s credibility?”

    The first thing to do is recognise it is not a cold war. It is a hot war being fought by a few sceptical scientists, but supported by a large disinformation campaign funded by the fossil fuel industries (FFIs). The FFIs’ objective is not to disprove the science. It is just to sow the seeds of doubt in the minds of the general public and politicians on science. So long as there is doubt, no action will be taken, and FFI can go on making their vast profits, and pay their top executives vast salaries. So vast that no matter how disastrous the results of AGW are, the executives expect that it will not affect them.

    The sophisticated hacking of the UEA’s e-mails was a brilliant victory for the FFIs in this war. It has destroyed the trust of the public in the science just as it was planned to do. The answer is to tell it like it is. The public must be told that the sceptic campaign is being driven by greedy executives and not by honest scientists. This is why the ClimateDialog is wrong. It is giving the sceptic scientists credence and ignoring the real enemy. It is yet another victory for the FFIs.

    What needs to be done is to give the public the bad news. At the current levels of CO2 both the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets will melt and raise sea level by 10 m or more. The more CO2 we add to the atmosphere the faster they will melt. We have under-estimated how long it will take for the Arctic sea ice to melt so there is no guarantee that estimates of thundreds of years for the ice sheets are correct. In fact when the Arctic sea ice disappears then the Greenland ice sheet melt will speed up. Moreover, there are positive feedbacks in the ice sheet melt. As the ice melts its height is reduced. The surface is then at a lower and warmer altitude and so melts faster. This positive feedback could lead to a sudden collapse of the ice sheet. The sudden rise in sea level will lift and break off the Antarctic ice shelves, and they will float off allowing the ice sheets behind them to follow them into the ocean. This could happen by the end of this century if not sooner.

    ClimateDialog has been set up to bring the sceptics and mainstream together, but now the science should be a debate between the alarmists and the mainstream. People like Jim Hansen, Kevin Anderson, and Jeremy Grantham are telling the truth. By centring the debate between the sceptics and mainstream you are conceding to the FFIs. The science is now pointing to an alarmist position. Even a debate between the mainstream and the alarmists would be only be hope versus truth.

    But you ask for suggestions and mine is that you add alarmists to the debate and sideline the sceptics. That is where the real debate should be.

  202. pete best:

    Re #200 – yes and PWC also produced a report of the same magnitude and so have the IEA in recent and this year to. The world bank has also invested $5 billion in coal fired infrastructure and other banks even more.

    As I say, target the banks who fund the fossil fuels and maybe something can be done

  203. Kevin McKinney:

    “The larger context is that we are operating in a democratic system, and we have a minority that is being outvoted by a majority.”

    A false formulation, IMO. The majority in most countries accepts that AGW is real, and a problem, according to polling data. Often enough, it’s actually a supermajority that believes this. Of course, the majority of that majority also fails to appreciate the seriousness of this problem, which means that it drives their voting behavior relatively weakly; yet it does affect their political calculus.

    (I see Canada as an example: I strongly suspect that the Harper government would love to ‘come out’ as a pro-fossil fuel, ‘drill, baby, drill’ body. Yet the Canadian public consistently polls out as strongly believing in the mainstream scientific position, which leaves the government with the necessity of maintaining a hypocritical fig leaf of concern about climate change. This has the fortunate effect of constraining their policy options somewhat.)

  204. Superman1:

    Kevin McKinney #203,

    ““The larger context is that we are operating in a democratic system, and we have a minority that is being outvoted by a majority.”
    A false formulation, IMO. The majority in most countries accepts that AGW is real, and a problem, according to polling data. Often enough, it’s actually a supermajority that believes this. Of course, the majority of that majority also fails to appreciate the seriousness of this problem, which means that it drives their voting behavior relatively weakly; yet it does affect their political calculus.”

    Actually, a very accurate formulation. Let’s start with a foundational assumption. To dodge the major impending climate catastrophe that we project today, harsh restrictions on energy use by all global citizens will be required, and extremely harsh restrictions on fossil fuel energy use in the very near future will be required. Now, I can believe that a majority of people in most countries, including the USA, would respond to a poll stating that AGW is real and is a problem. But, what actions would they be willing to take to back up the poll responses? Would they e.g. be willing to accept the ‘planned austerity’ that Kevin Anderson says is required to stay within the 2 C limit or even the 4 C limit? The citizens of Greece, Spain, etc, do not appear to be looking very kindly on the mild austerity being proposed for non-climate change reasons, and the recent USA Presidential candidates stressed growth in the economy and jobs in parallel with an expansion of Energy Independence (read Fossil Fuel expansion). I see no evidence that anything more than a miniscule minority in the USA would be willing to take the measures required to ward off the catastrophic climate change, if given the choice through the democratic process.

    The politicians, especially those from the fossil energy producing states, recognize this, and stay as far away from the topic as possible in order to remain in office. Do you believe Sen Inhofe (OK) or Rep Barton (TX) don’t understand the implications of expanding fossil fuel use? They have access to some of the finest educational institutions and minds in the country, and I have no doubt they utilize these contacts. But, how long would they survive in a state like Texas or Oklahoma or Louisiana if they proposed harsh measures that would restrict energy use of their constituents as well as put their constituent fossil fuel workers out of a job?

    So, the real challenge for Bart et al is how can they convey the seriousness of what is required to the politicians and residents of these states, and do it in a way that offers some ‘carrots’, other than an appeal to the morals of saving the future of our progeny.

  205. Mrlee:

    IMHO CD has the potential to fill an important role. As I see the situation of the debate/war, there are two sides shouting at each other from their respective blogs and sympathetic media. I think bringing them together is necessary for people to compare them and make up their mind on who has the better argument. Then of course it is vitally important, as many have commented, that the moderator/discussion leader diligently forces the participants to always and without fail to back up every assertion with facts or peer reviewed science, as the two scientists did in your first go. I do however agree with those saying your first attempt wasa failure. You should have been much more aggressive in reining in Curry. I’d like to see the denialist retorics exposed for everyone to see on a site that takes the science seriously, much like Dan H’s subtle manipulations are exposed every time on RC. Help lay people like me see them for what they are. Good luck.

  206. SecularAnimist:

    Superman1 wrote: “To dodge the major impending climate catastrophe that we project today, harsh restrictions on energy use by all global citizens will be required”

    That is just plain false.

    Photovoltaic panels installed on all the flat commercial rooftops in the USA would generate more electricity than all the nuclear power plants in the country. Concentrating solar thermal power plants on just five percent of the USA’s deserts would generate more electricity than the entire country uses. The same is true of the wind energy resources of just four midwestern states.

    And those examples represent just a small fraction of the USA’s vast solar and wind energy resources. According to a study by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, “At least three-fifths of the fifty states could meet all their internal electricity needs from renewable energy generated inside their borders.”

    The fact is that we have abundant, endless sources of energy, and we have the mature and powerful technologies needed to harvest those sources, and those technologies are getting more powerful and less expensive every day.

    Moreover, because we waste so much energy, we have an enormous opportunity to get more utility out of the energy we consume simply by implementing the most obvious and lowest-cost efficiency measures.

    I don’t know why you insist on pretending otherwise. Frankly, your comments often read like coal industry propaganda of the sort designed to discourage people from supporting action to reduce emissions by scaring them with “if we stop burning coal we’ll all have to shiver in the dark and live in caves” alarmism.

  207. Hank Roberts:

    Bart, it’s a public health problem.
    The track record, such as it is, would be to look at how society coped with the downside of damage from highly profitable industries:

    — chlorofluorocarbons
    — tributyl tin paint
    — radiation (radium “tonic”; shoestore x-ray machines)
    — antibiotics used in agriculture
    — tobacco
    — asbestos
    — lead paint
    — air pollution
    — snake oil
    — water pollution

    and there are many other examples.

    Anyone studying public health is familiar with these.

    Make the point that this is a broad, general, familiar pattern.
    Make the point that the PR delay vendors serve them all similarly.

  208. Hank Roberts:

    I wonder what difference this might make:

    “… both houses of Congress passed whistleblower legislation that will protect federal employees who expose the censorship and misuse of government science.”

    The bill< (pdf) now goes to President Obama's desk. He's expected to sign it.

  209. Ray Ladbury:

    Superman1: “Do you believe Sen Inhofe (OK) or Rep Barton (TX) don’t understand the implications of expanding fossil fuel use? They have access to some of the finest educational institutions and minds in the country, and I have no doubt they utilize these contacts.”

    You haven’t been to Texas or Oklahoma, have you? Let me tell you a story:

    When the President of the University of Oklahoma was asking the legislature for more money, he said he was asking because he wanted a University the football team could be proud of. Frankly, the Texas petition to secede is the best news I’ve had since the election.

  210. Ray Ladbury:

    Mrlee, I must have missed the place where you tell us what you had in mind for reining in Aunt Judy. A border collie perhaps?

    Aunt Judy is not interested in a coherent argument or understanding. In fact, such an understanding is anathema to her desire to portray herself as the font of Socratic wisdom in the sense that she knows that she knows nothing. I am willing to take her at her word, but I am not willing to let her speak for the entire climate science community in claiming–indeed worshipping–ignorance. Judy has gotten pretty good at the Gish gallop–and it is hard to defend against that maneuver in a forum like the one given.

    Calvinball and science don’t belong in the same arena.

  211. Superman1:

    Ray Ladbury #209,

    “You haven’t been to Texas or Oklahoma, have you?…. Frankly, the Texas petition to secede is the best news I’ve had since the election.”

    I’ve been to both and have done business with organizations in both, Texas far more than Oklahoma. I also would have no problem with Texas seceding, sooner rather than later. That does not alter the reality that e.g. University of Texas, especially the Austin campus, is one of the best educational institutions in this country. I know some very competent people who went there. Ironically, it was because of oil and gas money given to the university that they were able to attract people of such caliber by offering them extremely attractive salaries.

    I really think it’s a mistake to underestimate your opponents; that is the surest road to disaster. Forgetting about what the politicians say in public, they understand the realities of moving away from fossil fuel quite well. In those two states in particular, moving away from fossil would mean 1) far more expensive alternatives; 2) a collapse of the fossil fuel organizations and the economy with it; 3) a Super-Depression among the work force; 4) a much reduced standard of living.

  212. Mrlee:

    @Ray She’s indeed fond of the Gish gallop and presenting numerous arguments and assertions are once. I propose using black marker on her new arguments until previously contested points are resolved. That her arguments could still be read by marking the text with your mode(no real censorship) while making it quite obvious that she hasn’t addressed the contended points. You yourself is a master crusher of poor denialist arguments, and it has been very valuable for me as a longtime lurked on this blog.

  213. Nick Palmer:

    Some commenters have come close to the nub of the problem such as Bart Verheggen #177 Superman1 #197

    Giving a forum to out and out denialists/demagogues – extreme examples would be Monckton or Marc Morano types – would be bad. People like this are so skilled in Gish Gallop denialist arguments that they would mostly wipe the floor with legitimate climate scientists IN THE MINDS OF THE VOTING PUBLIC. The fact that the arguments they use, and even the scientific papers they reference, rarely (to anyone very knowledgeable in the field) properly support their arguments is almost irrelevant. To the public, who have no real way of judging the relative credibility of the opponents, the “sceptic/denialist” position can look very convincing indeed. It is the mass of the public who needI believe a better way to deal with the many and varied misleading denialist memes is a media blitz of articles and adverts, TV, newspaper and radio based, using the simple tactic of listing a deceptive argument and then giving short answers, using simple day to day analogies familiar to the public, to illustrate the nature of the deceptive “magic trick”. does a good job, but their main method tends to use a clear exposition of what the science actually says rather than actually precisely nailing the mechanics of the magic trick. Just stating “the science says” is no longer a particulary effective technique in the public arena because it is no longer as successful at countering the uncertainties and the doubts that people now have. Propaganda usually appears more real to the mass audience than the truth…

    When all is said and done, the fate of the world and the validity of the predictions of mainstream science comes down to one figure – the climate sensitivity. If the IPCC figure of 3° C per doubling is correct, we’re definitely in for a world of trouble. If the figure is a lot lower, such as 1° C or less per doubling, then the predictions of the IPCC will be a invalid and there won’t be much of a problem,as the “lukewarmers” say.

    This is where the battleground for the confidence of the public lies. This is where the debate should be. Purely between mainstream science and the “lukewarmers”. Bart Verheggen’s ClimateDialogue should focus on this critical area of dissent. Necessarily, there will only be a very few dissenting scientists – Lindzen, Spencer, Christy… I’m starting to struggle to find more – to make that case. As a means of influencing the public perception of the realities and the risks such a forum would not be of too much use if the aim was to convince the public by definitively routing the lukewarmers, because the complexities of the scientific arguments would go backwards and forwards too much for the public to make a firm judgement but, even if the public does not understand all the science, they can very easily appreciate the risks they will inflict on their families and descendants if they choose to back the “side” that proves to be talking out of its hat. Unfortunately, we don’t have a Planet B which could have been used to do a control experiment so that the actual climate sensitivity could have been empirically measured so understanding the risks of action, inaction or something in between is probably the optimum way to get the majority of the public onside in time.

    Whilst the arguments and conflicts over the precise sensitivity figure are too complex for the general public to comprehend, just about all the public is easily capable of assessing the risks (if they are explained properly) to themselves and their families of backing the wrong side.

  214. SecularAnimist:

    Superman1 wrote: ” In those two states in particular, moving away from fossil would mean …”

    It would mean a lot more of this:

    According to Renewable Energy World, “Once known for oil and gas production, Oklahoma has quickly established itself as a major player in the wind power generation industry. Today the state is taking advantage of its abundant natural resources with rapid development of wind …”

    According to the American Wind Energy Association ((PDF), Oklahoma has the 8th most installed wind capacity in the nation, and in 2011 was 5th in the nation in new wind power installations and got 7.1 percent of its electricity from wind. Oklahoma currently has 2,400 MW of wind power online; added 393 MW of new wind power in the first three quarters of 2012; and has 734 MW under construction with 14,677 MW of new wind power projects in the queue.

    And again, according to the AWEA (PDF), Texas has by far the most installed wind generation capacity of any state (10,929 Megawatts); installed 535 MW of new capacity in the first three quarters of 2012 (nearly double the new capacity installed in 2011); has 1,291 MW under construction; and over 22,000 MW of new wind power projects in the queue.

  215. SecularAnimist:

    Nick Palmer wrote: “If the figure is a lot lower, such as 1° C or less per doubling, then the predictions of the IPCC will be a invalid and there won’t be much of a problem …”


    We already have nearly 1° C warming from the CO2 we have already emitted, and even that warming is self-evidently already very much of a problem.

  216. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by Nick Palmer — 22 Nov 2012 @ 1:43 PM

    You say- “Giving a forum to out and out denialists/demagogues – extreme examples would be Monckton or Marc Morano types – would be bad.“

    For an excellent example of how to deal with Monckton and his ilk see Potholer54 in his Climate Change section. There are at least 8 entries including one that is a summary.


  217. Ray Ladbury:

    There is a saying in the military that the Generals always plan to fight the last war. The result is usually disaster until some of the generals come to understand the new war.

    Our situation is complicated by the fact that we haven’t fought a war like this before. However, we need to understand who our enemy is. The vast majority of deniers are ignorant food tubes–they cannot even write a simple English sentence properly. Even Inhofe and Barton are tools. The real enemies are folks like Frank Luntz and Karl Rove and the likes of the Koch bros. Even they don’t understand the science, because they don’t understand statistical reasoning(remember Rove’s election night meltdown), and climate change is inherently statistical.

    Ultimately, though, the problem is that we cannot tell Joe Sixpack and Jane Winebox what is needed to solve the problem. Until we can, they will be seduced by the lies of the denialati.

  218. Ray Ladbury:

    Nick Palmer, The 90% confidence interval for climate sensitivity is 2 to 4.5 degrees per doubling of CO2. Those banking on 1 degree per doubling are betting the farm on a 100 to 1 longshot. It’s like playing russian roul-ette with an AK47.

  219. Edward Greisch:

    Prelude to my next comment: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. Kuhn

    A voodoo doll is a social construct. It doesn’t do anything. A crucifix is a social construct. It doesn’t do anything either. A cell phone actually does useful work. A cell phone is a machine, not a social construct. Cell phones actually work. A cell phone uses quantum mechanics and quantum mechanics works regardless of the fact that most people have never heard of quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics is not a social construct.
    Thomas S. Kuhn’s book, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,” is nonsense. Innumerate humanitologists have used the social construct idea to claim that it is just as good to believe any crazy nonsense they want to instead of reality. The innumerate humanitologists who use Thomas S. Kuhn’s book to denigrate science are wrong. The humanities and sociology were tarnished by Thomas S. Kuhn’s book, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.”

    Kuhn thought that Aristotle’s “Physics” wasn’t wrong, just different than Newton’s. Kuhn was wrong about that. Newton’s physics can be verified by doing experiments. Aristotle’s “Physics” can be proven wrong by doing experiments. Aristotle’s “Physics” wasn’t physics because it wasn’t science. Aristotle died almost 2000 years before science was invented. Aristotle’s “Physics” never resulted in anything in 2000 years. Newton’s physics resulted in the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution started within a century of Newton’s death. Aristotle’s concepts were not “bad Newton”, they were just nonsense.
    Paul Karl Feyerabend’s ideas are also nonsense. No myth ever resulted in a machine that actually worked. Science does not generate myths. Science generates truth. Engineering uses theories and data from science to invent machines that are useful because they work. and other places
    Newton experimented and measured with maniacal intensity. Newton also computed and invented math with maniacal intensity. Aristotle only did philosophy, playing with words, ink and paper. By copying Newton’s habits, scientists today continue to discover truth. Engineers use the theories, information and mathematics generated by scientists and mathematicians to create useful machines that actually work. Nobody ever made a useful machine by following Aristotle or Aristotle’s habits.

    The ancient Greek who came closest to duplicating Newton was Archimedes of Syracuse.

  220. Edward Greisch:

    WUWT was voted the top science site by the general public. That should tell you a lot. “Why We Disagree About Climate Change” by Mike Hulme talks a lot about things that people believe, such as religions. Even fine divisions inside of one religion make it impossible for any agreement to be reached on climate inside of one religion, per Hulme. Hulme doesn’t understand science either, and that is also the point. When major “intellectuals” and book writers don’t get it, why in the world would you even try to teach the general public? “Mike Hulme is a professor of Climate Change in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia (UEA).” So how can I say Hulme doesn’t understand science? How can Hulme be so easy on “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” by Thomas S. Kuhn?

    Inside the group of climate activists, 206 SecularAnimist doesn’t get that intermittent sources of energy need energy storage that we don’t have the technology for.

    What is wrong is that the human brain doesn’t have a math co-processor. Nor are we born with a mania to do experiments or make measurements.
    “The Cambridge psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen considers it “fairly certain” that Newton had Asperger syndrome.”

    Asperger syndrome and even autism has its uses, but “Although it was claimed that he was once engaged, Newton never married.” Isaac Newton’s genotype isn’t going to take over the gene pool. Even a major driver of evolution like rapid climate change is not going to make a race of scientists out of us.

    So here is the deal: CD Climate Dialog would be a bad idea. Many people aren’t going to get it even though Nature is going to continue killing people in greater and greater numbers. We can only hope that enough people can be persuaded [by Obama, not RC] to take enough action to avoid the extinction of the human race of apes. But you still have to keep doing RC.

  221. sidd:

    Mr. Greisch writes, on the 22nd of November, 2012 at 11:44 PM:

    “A crucifix is a social construct. It doesn’t do anything either. A cell phone actually does useful work. A cell phone is a machine, not a social construct.”

    These are quite narrow definitions of “do” and “work.” I submit a slightly broader reading.

    A crucifix is a symbol of great power, not perhaps in the physical realm, but certainly in the psychological and social realm. Together with other liturgical symbols and rituals, it unifies the Christian Churches and the Christian laity. It does a great deal indeed, what if climate change activists had such a powerful totem ? Sometimes I speculate on what such a symbol might be…

    A cell phone certainly has symbolic and social aspects as well, but I will leave those to others.


  222. Non-Scientist:

    Thanks for all of your responses.
    153 the link was very helpful 158 159 Kevin – link was helpful 160 Ray – comment gives me some perspective.

    You’ve answered most of my questions. I have a few more which I’ll attempt to post in an appropriate thread.

  223. Jim Larsen:

    220 Edward G said, “WUWT was voted the top science site by the general public.”

    “CD Climate Dialog would be a bad idea.”

    “you still have to keep doing RC.”

    I disagree. RC is designed to teach the willing, and does so exceedingly well, but it is a poor fit as a counter to the more mass-market WUWT. The audience you seek simply won’t be found on RC, except via drive-by trollishness.

    CD’s inclusive format has a shot at attracting WUWTians. The alternative to sharing the table is to give the table over entirely.

  224. Fred Magyar:

    Edward Greisch@200 wrote:

    “Mike Hulme is a professor of Climate Change in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia (UEA).” So how can I say Hulme doesn’t understand science? How can Hulme be so easy on “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” by Thomas S. Kuhn?

    I don’t know Mike Hulme but I’m going to guess that he understands science pretty well and possibly knows a thing or two about human social interactions, and paradigm change as well.

    Donella Meadows, who held a PhD in Biophysics from Harvard mentions Thomas Kuhn in her paper titled ‘Leverage Points; Places to Intervene in a System”. I have a hunch she too understood science, complex systems, and the social interactions of Great Apes. Here’s the reference:

    “You could say paradigms are harder to change than anything else about a system, and therefore this item should be lowest on the list, not second. But there’s nothing physical or expensive or even slow in the process of paradigm change. In a single individual, it can happen in a millisecond. All it takes is a click in the mind, a falling of scales from the eyes, a new way of seeing. Whole societies are another matter—they resist challenges to their paradigms harder than they resist anything else.

    So how do you change paradigms? Thomas Kuhn, who wrote the seminal book about the great paradigm shifts of science, has a lot to say about that.5 You keep pointing at the anomalies and failures in the old paradigm. You keep speaking and acting, loudly and with assurance, from the new one. You insert people with the new paradigm in places of public visibility and power. You don’t waste time with reactionaries; rather, you work with active change agents and with the vast middle ground of people who are open-minded.”

    BTW, as the father of a teenager with Aspergers and a math co-processor that came built into his brain, I’m pretty sure that the Isaac Newtons of the world are are not the ones who will save us this time around because they don’t have a clue about how to steer human behavior or initiate the paradigm changes that we are going to need.


  225. Hank Roberts:

    > inclusive

    “What will happen?”

    Side A: “… rising temperatures this century will cause poleward shifts in species’ thermal niches and a sharp decline in tropical phytoplankton diversity in the absence of an evolutionary response.”
    Science 23 November 2012:
    Vol. 338 no. 6110 pp. 1085-1088
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1224836

    Side Z: “Nothing, NOTHING, la-la-la-la-la, I can’t HEAR you, the iron sun is ringing, ringing like a bell ….”

  226. Mal Adapted:

    Edward Greisch:
    “Thomas S. Kuhn’s book, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,” is nonsense. Innumerate humanitologists have used the social construct idea to claim that it is just as good to believe any crazy nonsense they want to instead of reality.”

    A review of the Fourth (50th-anniversary) Edition of Structure (paywalled, unfortunately) offers a different opinion:

    Before Kuhn, philosophers had been focused on trying to state what the scientific method should be. But he suggested that we should pay attention to how science is done—how scientists actually work—rather than to how philosophers think it ought to work.

    We’ve all encountered D-K-afflicted “skeptics” who insist they’ve applied the scientific method to refute the expert consensus. Typically, they’ve had no scientific training beyond high school, but are confident “the scientific method” is all they need, and besides, “consensus isn’t science,” anyway. They haven’t read Kuhn.

    We’ve also encountered deniers who’ve heard of “social construction,” and think that justifies denial. They haven’t read Kuhn either [my emphasis]:

    If we accept Kuhn’s argument that science is organized around specific paradigms, and that different paradigms come with different criteria of justification, then what stops someone from claiming that, for instance, creationism (or anything else) is simply a different, incommensurable paradigm? Kuhn would never have endorsed such claims. The error that underlies them is to infer that the rejection of a single scientific method, such as falsification, entails the acceptance of anything whatsoever as being scientifically credible. That is clearly not the case. Saying that there are different ways of doing science is not the same as saying that anything at all qualifies as science.

    Something I didn’t know about the book:

    Since Structure was first published in 1962, it has sold over one million copies and has been translated into 16 languages. This book is the rarest of things, an academic bestseller.

    IMHO, that’s a good thing, and should enhance public acceptance of the AGW consensus.

  227. Russell:


    The trouble is that semiotics ramifies.

  228. Edward Greisch:

    226 Mal Adapted: How do you account for Kuhn’s claim that Aristotle’s physics is as good as Newton’s?
    “Kuhn dated the genesis of his book to 1947, when he was a graduate student at Harvard University and had been asked to teach a science class for humanities undergraduates with a focus on historical case studies. Kuhn later commented that until then, “I’d never read an old document in science.” Aristotle’s Physics was astonishingly unlike Isaac Newton’s work in its concepts of matter and motion. Kuhn concluded that Aristotle’s concepts were not “bad Newton”, just different.”

    I read “Structure” a long time ago, but not in the 1960s.

    Physics has lots of paradigms: classical mechanics, classical electrodynamics divided into more than one way to solve a problem, quantum mechanics, general relativity, etc. But the same student is taught all of them, starting with the oldest first. The difficult paradigm shifts are part of the curriculum. None of the paradigms are wrong; each has its own realm of applicability.
    Science was invented only 400 to 500 years ago. Aristotle didn’t have science.

    224 Fred Magyar: So how do you change paradigms? So how do you change religions? The questions are the same for the general public.

    BTW, So is/was Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, and so many other great scientists and engineers. Give your son an old Macintosh computer with a computer language.

  229. simon abingdon:

    Edward Greisch “Asperger syndrome and even autism has its [have their] uses”. Edward, the world of science is POWERED by Asperger “sufferers”. Get real.

  230. Alastair McDonald:


    Kuhn is not saying that “Aristotle’s physics is as good as Newton’s.” He is saying that Aristotle’s science made sense to the Aristotelian school, and they would not have understood Newton. But both have now been replaced by a new paradigm proposed by Einstein. The relativism that you are describing was invented by social scientists and rejected by Kuhn. He is quoted as protesting that he was not Kuhnian.

    The 19th Century paradigm that carbon dioxide could cause climate change, was discarded when Karl Angstrom proved that Arrhenius’ climate model was fallacious. That paradigm was restored as current thinking by Callendar and is now accepted by climate scientist as true. But both those paradigm shifts were resisted. The latter is still resisted by the sceptic scientists.

    But part of the current paradigm is that the effects of AGW will take generations to appear. We all think that it is a problem for our grandchildren. But this paradigm is faulty. The Arctic sea ice will disappear within ten years under the new paradigm, but not with the old. It is based on climate models which do not predict that. The problem is that this new paradigm is strongly resisted by earth scientists who have been educated into believing in a slow and steady changing climate as advocated by the early 19th Century Charles Lyell who established Uniformitarianism as the standard paradigm of Geology.

  231. Hank Roberts:

    Wait, Alastair — there are still uniformitarian geologists?
    Can you point one out?
    Is uniformitarianism necessary?
    S. J. Gould
    doi: 10.2475/ajs.263.3.223
    AJS Online March 1965 vol. 263 no. 3 223-228

  232. dhogaza:

    Hank …

    S. J. Gould

    Did he call it puncuated uniformitarianism? :)

  233. Radge Havers:

    Wow, that’s an ahistorical blast from the past. Correct me if I’m wrong, but forget uniformitarianism, isn’t the whole idea of “ism’s” pretty much outmoded, at least in the physical sciences?

  234. Alastair McDonald:


    [edit – no making up stuff about scientists – either cite actual statements or don’t bother]

    Thanks for that link to Gould’s first paper. I had not realised that he had been so strongly influenced by Kuhn, but I was aware of the parallelism of their thought. To my mind they are both neo-catastrophists, by which I mean believers in (non-linear) systems which do not change gradually. Kuhn argued science passes through revolutions; Gould argued for evolutionary punctuated equilibrium.

    In that first paper, Gould separates Uniformitarianism into two themes: the uniformity of scientific laws throughout time; and gradual change. As he states, the first is true and the second is false. But the truth of the first has allowed Uniformitarianism and so both to survive.

    There is a review of Gould’s last book here: Raddick, G. (2012)”The Exemplary Kuhnian: Gould’s Structure Revisited”, Historical Stusies in he Natural Sciences. 42, 2 pp 143-157 doi:10.1525/hsns.2012.42.2.143. In the conclusion Raddick writes:

    “From his very first publication in 1965 [Your reference, AMcD], calling on geologists to drop the word “uniformitarianism” as an unhelpful survival into an era when the doctrines it named had been falsified or marginalized, Gould took critical inquiry into the history of his science to be part of the job description.26 The theory of punctuated equilibrium that soon followed may never have yielded up a Kuhnian exemplar (to use Kuhn’s own preferred paraphrase for “paradigm”).”

    So, like Kuhn with his new paradigm of scientific revolutions, Gould’s new paradigm of punctuated equilibrium has not quite achieved a paradigm shift in general opinion.

    Cheers, Alastair.

  235. Radge Havers:

    Alastair, consider this as a possible indicator, when I was taking basic intro historical geology back in the 70’s, uniformitarianism was treated thusly:

    “The only assumption we make today is that physical and chemical laws are constant which is properly called actualism…we do not assume that those processes always acted with the same rates or intensities… Geologists today routinely accept sudden, violent, and even certain unique events as perfectly consistent with contemporary earth theory.”

    From our textbook “Evolution of the Earth,” which for some reason I still have sitting on a shelf.

    Needless to say, over the course of our studies we learned (i.e., had drilled into our heads and made second nature) all sorts of processes happening at different rates.

  236. Bart Strengers:

    Dear all,
    I have been carefully reading your comments and I understand your worries. I also have them, but at the same time I believe we are doing an experiment that is worth trying. Off course, it is the peer-reviewed literature where the real scientific discussion must take place, and it is the IPCC that weighs the evidence in all these studies. However, both the peer-reviewed literature and the IPCC are often perceived as ivory towers by the broader public, I think. In no way do we pretend ClimateDialogue to be a substitute whatsoever for IPCC or the scientific debate in the peer-reviewed literature, but we do think we can add something in a debate that is highly polarized. Maybe that is naïve, we’ll see.
    It is also interesting to mention that on WUWT there are many negative reactions in exactly the opposite direction. They are accusing us of not being ‘skeptic’ enough and Judith Curry not being a ‘skeptic’. They actually say we are a kind of RealClimate :-).
    With respect to Judith Curry I don’t agree she is not an expert: she has quite a long list of relevant studies on the Arctic.
    I agree we have to do a better job in moderating the discussion, especially on the point that the discussants should underpin their claims with solid arguments and peer-reviewed studies and that we should try to involve all discussants equally. We will focus on that more than we did so far.
    I understand your worries on ‘False Balance’ and ‘framing’. Indeed, we must avoid the impression of two opposing camps, as if the ‘mainstream’ were a monolith that is attacked by their critics. However, there is another pitfall to avoid, which is the impression that skeptics are somehow ignored or not being taken seriously. By incorporating the Dutch skeptics in a project like this we think it is possible to show to the outside world that we take them seriously, but only on the basis of scientific arguments. Marcel Crok (the ‘skeptic’ in the editorial staff) really wants this project to become a success, just like me. He may of course interpret the discussion differently than we do (valuing the different arguments differently), but the validity of scientific arguments should be the guiding principle. Remember that a discussion will be closed with a summary that must be approved by the full editorial staff and the discussants.

    More specific on your comments:
    # 195
    Distrust is proven by many polls, for example a recent UK survey found that only one-third of the public agrees with the statement “We can trust climate scientists to tell us the truth about climate change” (see ‘Time to raft up’ in Nature, 30 August 2012).

    -We definitely try to involve scientists on the more alarmed side of the spectrum. We asked Peter Wadham and Maslovski to participate. Peter accepted but later he declined because of time limitations.
    -You write about 10m of Sea Level Rise due to melting ice caps. Actually, SLR will be a topic in the next discussion round!

    Climate sensitivity is a vital subject we will address, but only after we have done some ‘lighter’ subjects. (First SLR, then the warming in the past 17 years).

  237. Toby Thaler:

    #236–thanks for responding to the raft of comments. Here’s my counter response:

    “With respect to Judith Curry I don’t agree she is not an expert: she has quite a long list of relevant studies on the Arctic.” The problem is not her expertise per se, but her expertise on the specific subject at issue, as well as how she applies her expertise in public. Cf. Freeman Dysan. I do not believe from reading Curry’s blogs, others’ comments on her behavior, and her contributions to CD that she has much interest in helping the “broader public” to come to a clear understanding of what is actually happening.

    “there is another pitfall to avoid, which is the impression that skeptics are somehow ignored or not being taken seriously.” Why should they be taken seriously? Their behavior as a community and mostly as individuals (including Curry according to many who post here) has been neither honest nor honorable. They consistently reject “the validity of scientific arguments;” that’s why they’re called “deniers.” If you try to limit your dialogue to genuine scientific “skeptics” as opposed to “deniers” you will find slim pickings in the competent scientific community. See # 180 and # 213.

    I believe you are falling into the trap of those who have successfully hijacked the global warming debate–the fossil fuel industry, oligarchs who wish to maintain their wealth and power, and ideological reactionaries. As I noted (# 70) the deniers intentionally conflate feared policy solutions with scientific questions.

    We need to have a robust public dialogue about those solutions, not a repetitive argument about the science. For the most part, the solutions have been advocated by scientists, resource analysts, and environmental conservationists for decades in response to other stressors. Climate change is just one relatively new facet of a series of confounding resource issues. We are wasting time arguing about the wrong questions. See Joel Pett’s now-classic cartoon at the bottom of this page.

  238. Dan H.:

    I disagree that Bart has fallen into the trap of the fossil fuel industry. His site is offering useful dialogue to those interested in climate change. The statement that both RC and WUWT have issues with the site, indicates to me that they may have hit on something. If you limit the debate to only those who think like yourself, then the whole pursuit will be worthless. Likewise, dismissing the testimony of experts with whom you disagree just shows bias, and not a genuine attempt to understand the science. I say, keep up the good work.

  239. Radge Havers:

    Fallacy indicative of nothing.

    Argument to moderation

  240. Ray Ladbury:

    Dan H., So shall we open up dialogue with the Discovery Institute on the subject of evolution…or how about a panel discussion with 2 NIH researchers and Jenny McCarthy on the merits of vaccination?

    Shall we give flat-earthers equal time at geography conferences?

    By all means, let us have scientific debate–in peer-reviewed journals, at scientific conferences, etc. And let us have it on matters where there is real rather than manufactured disagreement.

  241. Dan H.:

    You are free to invite whomever you wish to debate at your conferences. The three experts selected by climate dialogue offer three real-world opinions. Whether you agree with any, all, or none, is your choice. You can make a mockery of any debate by choosing clowns, but what value is there in that? At least they chose experts with a real, rather than a manufactured disagreement (whatever you think that is).

    Would you discontinue RC because it is not peer-reviewed?

  242. Brian Dodge:

    “The three experts selected by climate dialogue offer three real-world opinions.”

    Aha! I see the problem! ONE expert offered largely unsubstantiated opinion, and two experts offered well referenced science. (29/0 references; you do the math. Ooops, DIV BY ZERO)

  243. Toby Thaler:

    Dan H:

    I spent some time going through the dialogue at CD. Sure looks reasonable, “offering useful dialogue to those interested in climate change.” However, after spending a couple hours digging through the content and chasing down a number of links, references, etc, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that not much is being clarified. The best result appears to be that the denier (“false skeptics”) community will now find the goal posts pulled away yet again; Curry clearly states that a major portion, if not a majority, of shrinking Arctic ice is caused by AGW. This was a controversial and clarifying conclusion that required many persons spending hundreds of hours putting together a dialogue and responding to comments?

    So, I still conclude that informative as the dialogue might be to some readers, it is full of chaff and doesn’t get to the questions that really need to be addressed in self-professed public dialogue forums: Accepting that “A” is a major part of “GW”, now what? What’s the sensitivity, what are the potential or likely consequences, and what do we need to do to avoid worst case scenarios? When and where is the energy for the crucial science/policy dialogue dealing with these questions if we continue to spend time arguing over whether the “A” is 30% v. 80%?

    Moreover, I think mis-framed dialogues such as CD do affirmatively harm the public dialogue. Example [and I’ll happily retract if someone shows me the error in my work]: Judith Curry has a quote in her article: “A number of recent studies find that in models, the loss of summer sea ice cover is highly reversible.” It was not easy to find the source for this startling claim since it is not footnoted. On Curry’s web page with the same discussion I found reference to two studies: Livina, et al., A recent bifurcation in Arctic sea-ice cover and Wang and Overland, A sea ice free summer Arctic within 30 years? I don’t believe either study comes close to supporting her claim. How does making unsubstantiated claims like that further either the scientific or public policy dialogues?

    Nevertheless, because the statement is by Dr. Curry, and made in the course of a “credible scientific dialogue,” it has been picked up and now appears on a number of denier and other blogs. Put her entire sentence in quotes in a search engine and take a look. Scientists who cannot back up major claims like this with credible data or sources should not be allowed to participate in such forums.

    I will not waste more time on CD, and I will discontinue reading RC if it’s authors ever behave like Dr. Curry has on CD.

  244. Dan H.:

    Unlike Greenland, which is a remnant left over from the last ice age, both sea ice and mountain glacier losses are reversible. Sea ice formation (loss) is directly related to the water temperature. If the summer ice were to completely disappear, it would reappear the following summer, if conditions merit. The formation in the Arctic is more likely, due to the glacier terminii in Greenland. The old line of thinking that once the summer sea ice is gone, it is gone forever, is outdated and not widely accepted anymore.

  245. flxible:

    So Dan H makes yet more unsubstantiated claims in response to Toby Thalers complaint about unsubstantiated claims by an actual scientist!!

  246. Radge Havers:

    Huh. A politician figures out it’s past time to stop pussyfootin’ around:

    “There is a new normal of new extremes and we have to be prepared for it,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said. “And the reason we have this new normal of new extremes is because global climate change is happening and is real. And we’ve tolerated the deniers for far too long in this body.”
    Whitehouse criticized “a rear-guard action in this building led by polluters” against taking action on climate change.
    “But we have to face the fact that the deniers are wrong. They are just plain dead wrong,” he said. “And we have to deal with that, and I think some of the courtesies that we have given to one another collegially really have to yield to the fact that some of the things that are being said in the Senate, and occasionally regrettably in this committee chamber, are just plain wrong.”

    Climate Progress

  247. Hank Roberts:

    Sea ice formation (loss) is directly related to the water temperature, which is directly related to the air temperature, which is directly related to the CO2 level, which is directly related to fossil fuel burned. You know how to look it up.

    Sea ice formation (loss) is directly related to primary productivity — you know what that is.

    Do you like breathing? Do ya?


    Impact of sea-ice biology on overall primary production in a biophysical model of the pan-Arctic Ocean

    “… The importance of this so-called ‘ice-algae’ stems from their significant contribution to the total primary production (up to 50% depending on the locations, according to observations described in Gosselin et al. (1997). Simple 1D tests reveal that, depending on their initial biomass and light availability, ice algae can affect the temporal variation of surface nutrients, while they marginally impact the total primary production, or the long term position of the nutricline. The sea-ice primary production is found in the model to be as high as 40% of the total primary production depending on the location and 7.5% for the whole Arctic. The modeled primary production of the ocean is negatively correlated to the September ice cover whereas the production in the ice is more weakly positively correlated. Because of the negative correlation between sea ice cover and pelagic primary production, the short term response to the continuing ice decline will be an increased total production as seen in the model, while the ice algae production would decline…..”

  248. Dan H.:

    I was not aware that common knowledge required substantiation. However, I will post a link for you:

  249. Hank Roberts:

    Dan’s Plan for Restoring The Ice
    > …

    > we interrupt the melting process by inserting a 1xCO2 climate
    > and let the ice sheet evolve to a new steady state.

    Shorter: “Then a Miracle Occurs”

  250. SecularAnimist:

    Dan H. wrote: “I was not aware that common knowledge required substantiation. However, I will post a link for you:”

    As usual, the article that Dan H. links to as “substantiation” of his claim does not in any way substantiate his claim.

    In fact, it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with his claim that “both sea ice and mountain glacier losses are reversible”.

    Once again, I appeal to the moderators to automatically consign ALL of Dan H’s sneeringly dishonest comments to the Bore Hole. They are denialist garbage of the worst sort.

  251. Toby Thaler:

    Dan H—(ref: #243, #244, #245, #248)

    This dialogue is absurd:

    1) As flxible points out, in response to me you made another conclusory assertion without citation. And the assertion you made concerns not just Arctic sea ice (“both sea ice and mountain glacier losses are reversible”), which I thought was the sole topic of the CD dialogue at issue here.

    2) When pushed by flxble, you provide a citation to a conference talk (not a published paper as far as I can tell). The abstract for the conference does not support your conclusion; it simply poses the question. And the conference only addressed Greenland ice, not Arctic sea ice.

    3) You assert with minimal (and IMO facile) argument that the cited reference supports your conclusion, and you shouldn’t have to post references since “I was not aware that common knowledge required substantiation”!

    4) Engaging in a dialogue about technical issues without argument or citation to data is absurd enough, but doing so with non-scientists (neither you nor flxble have asserted relevant expertise) is not likely to result in any agreement on highly technical issues worth the electrons they’re printed with. (But that never stopped any of us bloggers before.)

    Nevertheless, I’m a decent policy analyst (and a competent lawyer), and your reference did give me enough to find more relevant material, so I’ll have a go–

    Using as my initial search term the key phrase in the conference title you referenced, “reversibility of Greenland ice sheet melting in a warming climate,” I found one paper with Huybrechts as an author that is directly relevant to the reversibility question, a second paper that is a bit less relevant, and also a summary of the talk he gave at the 2004 conference. Full text of both published papers is readily available at the links included here. To save you the trouble, here are the abstracts of all three items in reverse order with some key phrases in bold:

    MILMO (Modeling the Evolution of Climate and Sea Level over the third Millenium) workshop: Brussels, 16-17 November 2004 – ABSTRACTS
    “Volume changes of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have the potential to significantly increase the rate of global sea-level rise in future warmer climates. Crucial aspects are how climatic changes will affect the ice sheet’s mass balance and how ice dynamics will react to the imposed environmental forcing. This is in addition to the longer-term background trend from adjustments as far back as the last glacial period. These questions are addressed with 3-D thermomechanical ice sheet/ice shelf models which have been fully interactively coupled with climate models of varying complexity. A first series of experiments considers the coupling between models of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets with the LOVECLIM model for the period between 1500 and 3000. Whereas changes in the polar ice sheets are found to be small over historic times, important changes are expected for the next 1000 years. It is found that for SRES scenario A2 kept constant after the 21st century, the Greenland ice sheet almost completely disappears within a period of about 1000 years. Together with significant shrinkage of the Antarctic ice sheet and the contributions from mountain glaciers and thermal expansion of the world’s oceans, this may cause a global sea level rise in excess of 10 m by the year 3000. A second series of experiments investigated the issue of reversibility of Greenland ice sheet melting once ice sheet disintegration has been initiated. For that purpose, the Greenland ice sheet model was inserted in the HadCM3 atmosphere-ocean general circulation model. In this experiment, the Greenland ice sheet is found to disintegrate to less than 5% of its current volume within 3000 years under constant 4xCO2 conditions. With the ice sheet removed, the model shows that it would not regrow to its present state for present climate conditions, indicative of hysteresis. It was found that there exists a point-of-no-return once ice sheet disintegration has set in beyond which complete removal of the ice sheet becomes irreversible, even if climatic conditions were to revert to present-day conditions. This point may already be reached after 250 years of ice-sheet melting under a non-extreme greenhouse warming scenario.”

    Toniazzo, T. , Gregory, J. and Huybrechts, P. (2004): Climatic impact of a Greenland deglaciation and its possible irreversibility , Journal of Climate, 17 (1), pp. 21-33
    “Warmer climate conditions persisting for a period of many centuries could lead to the disappearance of the Greenland ice-sheet, with a related 7 m rise in sea-level. We address the question of whether the ice-sheet could be regenerated if pre-industrial climate conditions were re-established after its melting. We use the HadCM3 coupled atmosphere-ocean GCM to simulate the global and regional climate with preindustrial atmospheric greenhouse-gas composition and the Green-land ice-sheet removed. Two separate cases are considered. In one, the surface topography of Greenland is given by that of the bedrock currently buried under the ice-sheet. In the other, a readjustment to isostatic equilibrium of the unloaded orography is taken into account, giving higher elevations. In both cases, there is greater summer melting than in the current climate, leading to partially snow-free summers with much higher temperatures. On the long-term aver-age, there is no accumulation of snow. The implication of this result is that the removal of the Greenland ice-sheet due to a prolonged climatic warming would not be reversible.”

    Ridley, J. , Huybrechts, P. , Gregory, J. and Lowe, J. (2005): Elimination of the Greenland ice sheet in a high-CO2 climate , Journal of Climate, 18(17)3427, 3409
    (I’ve removed this abstract; this paper does not address the reversibility issue.)

    Now I understand why you think CD “is offering useful dialogue to those interested in climate change;” you don’t have a clue about basic research and construction of a logical argument in support of a conclusion. Perhaps you’d like to take the references from this post and put them up at CD and ask Dr. Curry what she thinks of Toniazzo (et al.) and Huybrechts’ analysis and conclusions; they at least impliedly contradict her assertion quoted in my post above. (Conclusions about Greenland are not necessarily applicable to the issue of reversibility of Arctic sea ice loss; please let us know when you find relevant references on the latter.)

  252. Hank Roberts:

    > nothing to do with his claim

    Well, he still needs a cite for his step two.

    He points to a paper that says it’s not going to happen,
    and, …
    and proclaims the cite proves it could happen.

    It’s logical if you think about it.

    Except for step two.
    He needs to be a little more explicit there.

  253. flxible:

    Thanks for the link Dan H, it’s comforting to know that someone is considering the condition of the GIS 3,000 years hence, but the link[s] required are to your handwaving: “The old line of thinking that once the summer sea ice is gone, it is gone forever, is outdated and not widely accepted anymore.” If that’s “common knowledge” you should have half a dozen links handy.

    I agree with SA that your posts generally belong in a deep hole.

  254. Dan H.:

    Do you any scientific data to support otherwise?

  255. flxible:

    Dan, that’s about as lame a response as you’ve ever made – you made the unsupported statement, support it, modify it, or disavow it.

  256. Jim Larsen:

    253 flxible,

    I don’t see the controversy you see in Dan H’s claim.

    It is common knowledge that sea ice can recover if conditions change back to the previous regime, even after September sea ice is completely gone.

    It is also common knowledge that GIS is a relic which relies on its height to maintain itself. If it melts, then only something akin to an ice age will restore it. I suppose lots of work is being done to quantify how much of a loss Greenland can sustain without entering an unstoppable meltdown. That’s somewhat academic to the more important fact that every decade is a bit warmer and the GIS is a bit lower, so melt is increasing.

  257. SteveF:

    Bart, if you are reading this is there some sort of filter you can put in place that automatically blocks any comment containing the terms “warmist” and “CAGW”?

    I’m generally in favour of this experiment but there are too many comments getting through from common or garden loons of the Curry commenter ilk.

  258. Radge Havers:

    Ugh. Dan H. weaseled, “if conditions merit.”
    Time Cube!  (if conditions merit)

    Anyway, re debate…What has been clarified? Who has been engaged?

    Science writing: how do you make complex issues accessible and readable?

    The Secret, Subtle Power of Graphic Design

  259. dhogaza:

    “I don’t see the controversy you see in Dan H’s claim.

    It is common knowledge that sea ice can recover if conditions change back to the previous regime, even after September sea ice is completely gone.”

    The controversy is that Dan H tried to back up his claim about SEA ice by pointing to a paper discussing the Greenland Ice Sheet.

    Thus flxible’s comment at 253. It’s classic Dan H, refer to a paper that is either unrelated to his claim or contradicts it. Repeated dozens of times.

  260. Hank Roberts:

    > can recover [Step One]
    > if [a miracle happens and] [Step Two]
    > conditions change back [Step Three]

    In the cited paper, they model changing instantaneously from high CO2 to 1x CO2.

    How could that happen?

    Be more explicit there in Step Two

  261. Jim Larsen:

    259 dhogaza said Dan H made a claim about sea ice and linked to a Greenland paper.

    Seems like an unmentionably small issue. Dan H mentioned both sea ice and Greenland and misinterpreted which half the “demand for a cite for glaringly obvious common knowledge” was for.

    Doesn’t change the fact that Dan H was 100% correct and the request for cite was unwarranted, and a tad puzzling, as I have little doubt that flxible already knew that:

    “The Arctic sea ice, for instance, has timescales of around 5 years to a decade, and so a collapse of summer ice cover could conceivably be reversed in a ‘cooling world’ after only a decade or so (interactions with the Arctic ocean stratification may make that take a little longer though). ”

    In any case, I’m sure that most regulars knew that Dan H was correct, yet none stood up for the truth. Which brings us back on topic. If the regulars here are more concerned with personality than truth, then productive dialogue is going to be very hard indeed.

  262. Hank Roberts:

    Jim, you’ve fallen for “let’s all talk about Dan H.” ploy. An optimistic claim, a citation that doesn’t support it, then blah, blah, blah, blah, Dan H., blah, blah, blah.


  263. Toby Thaler:

    Now I’m confused, but at least I think I see where I went off the logical track.

    Judith Curry:
    “A number of recent studies find that in models, the loss of summer sea ice cover is highly reversible.” CD article

    Dan H:
    “Unlike Greenland, which is a remnant left over from the last ice age, both sea ice and mountain glacier losses are reversible.” #244

    Jim Larson:
    “It is common knowledge that sea ice can recover if conditions change back to the previous regime, even after September sea ice is completely gone… If GIS melts, then only something akin to an ice age will restore it.” #259

    In my response to Dan H I was addressing the GIS issue. Now I see all speakers appear to be in agreement on that statement (that once gone, it will take another ice age to reconstitute GIS), and the papers I found are redundant of that understanding.

    The question here concerns Arctic sea ice. If there is any dispute it is not about recovery “under a previous regime” (that everyone agrees is likely) but whether or not recovery is even possible under actual current and likely future conditions. I.e., with 400 ppm CO2e and climbing. Curry’s statement is ambiguous, and Dan H also was less than clear. Hence my confusion.

    So, my question is: Does Curry accept that CO2e is not dropping anytime soon, and thus that the “previous regime” is not likely to return soon (centuries if not millenia)? As I noted before, it is clear Curry has accepted at least a major part of the A in AGW, so how could the “previous regime” possibly occur anytime soon?

    My conclusion: Curry’s statement about reversibility is either irrelevant (about an unlikely return to the “previous regime”) or it’s denier nonsense (“previous regime” can return soon because CO2e is not the cause of current ice losses). At the least this somewhat useless dialogue confirms to me that Curry is not very good at making her positions clear. At least not to me.

  264. Dan H.:

    Thank you for your show of integrity. I know that I am not the most popular poster here, and as result, my claims seem to require a higher burden of proff than others. Consequently, many of my post get bore0holed, or worse. Your last post was quite refreshing.

    Your last post may have cleared up the issue. Under a warming scenario, the summer sea ice would not return. Should conditions change and cooling occurs, then the sea oce would regenerate, as outlined in Jim’s previous post. With regards to the “previous regime,” what the future holds is largely up to us, and it could occur on a timescale longer or shorter than you entailed. (Funny that captcha should say “years”.”

  265. Hank Roberts:

    > as a result … require a higher burden of [proof]

    “Dan H.” mis-states cause and result.

    That account’s “popularity” grows from the record: posting claims “… twisted from the actual facts. Just enough as to allow for some reasonable claim of misreading, but misleading enough to actual give the casual reader a completely wrong impression.”


    AGU’s week preoccupies the attention of the real scientists. Climate blogs fill up with comments spun to mislead casual readers during the annual AGU week. There’s lots of real science news.

    Take a break. Read some science.

  266. sidd:

    To return to climate dialogues: I have found that many of the staunchest deniers will agree about mitigation measures such as 1)decreasing CH4 N20, black carbon emission 2)reforestation 3)decrease fertilizer runoff 4)xericulture to name a few. Working with them on projects addressing these issues is more helpful than screaming matches about fossil carbon. I work with some who regarded the notion of AGW as a communist ploy, yet after a few seasons of working with them on reforestation/conservation projects, are more amenable to my arguments. Planning a campaign for a few hundred trees, selecting species and sites with an eye to USDA hardiness zone changes, selecting conservation strips, stabilizing streambanks and hillsides, sweating together in fair and foul weather, manhandling tons of dirt and vegetation, have convinced many more people than lectures on details of climate sensitivity to CO2. And if you must lecture at all, a quiet one on one conversation over a cold beer at the local pub, AFTER you have demonstrated that you don’t mind getting down and dirty will do more to win hearts and minds. Men go mad in groups but come to their senses one at a time.

    Complaints that these are small works, that we require huge, immediate and draconian measures are all very well, but the fact remains that in order to enact draconian measures you must convince a majority of the necessity for action; i submit that small works that include the opposition will convince them much quicker than screams of doom. This may be too slow for some.

    Lastly:it is not the case that unpopular posters bear a heavier burden of proof, or are more often boreholed. The reason for the unpopularity is the same as the reason for the latter two. Posters who have a history of lies (in omission and commission), will be unpopular, will not be believed and will have their comments discarded. Oddly enuf, this happens in real life as well.


  267. Dan H.:

    Those with a history of lies, should be treated as such. I am referring to comments which oppose the views of other posters here. There is a difference. I suggest you read some of the threads to see what comments are allowed, and by whom.

  268. SecularAnimist:

    Dan H. wrote: “Those with a history of lies, should be treated as such.”

    Note to moderators:

    Given Dan H’s history of lies, please treat him as such, per his request.

  269. sidd:

    I must mention a project that has given me a great deal more traction than most others. Over the last few years I have been helping in the installation of solar hot water projects. This is really a no-brainer, yielding immediate savings in both money and fossil carbon output. When you show up and help cut someone’s energy bill, you instantly gain credibility, and are much more likely to be listened to when you suggest other possible changes.

    I think that helping your neighbours in their lives does much more than publishing long screeds on blogs, so I’ll stop here. I have holes to dig, and plumbing to install.


  270. Kevin McKinney:

    #269–Sidd, thanks for some very sane and helpful comments.

    On the solar hot water–got any good DIY-oriented links? It’s something I want to put in, and the more sweat equity the better.

  271. flxible:

    “I suggest you read some of the threads to see what comments are allowed, and by whom.”

    Like maybe this thread, where Dan H represents about 15% of what’s not allowed by the “whom” that matter here. ;)

  272. Jim Larsen:

    262 Hank said, “Jim, you’ve fallen for “let’s all talk about Dan H.” ploy. An optimistic claim, a citation that doesn’t support it, then”

    So point me to the optimistic claim. I only saw a blatantly obvious piece of common knowledge, and since then nary a peep showing anything but total support for the initial contention.

    In a dysfunctional social pattern, when one participant deviates from the norm, the other will often misinterpret the first’s actions and intents to conform to the pattern. People will use any error to force the interaction back into the “proper” mold. Misinterpreting which half of a statement to defend is no-big-deal, yet we’re back into same-old same-old.

    263 Toby T, reverting to [hopefully approximate] the previous regime means geoengineering. So yeah, in this context it’s just fantasy speculation. But that’s just our opinion. To a very low climate sensitivity guy, things could cycle on down naturally.

  273. sidd:

    Re: solar hot water
    I shall post a comment on the unforced variations thread as time allows


  274. Hank Roberts:

    For Jim Larsen: the 2mm/year claim (at the link given) is one such.

  275. Dan H.:

    You left out the supporting data.

    The Jason data is not all that different from the C&W rate from 1925-1980.

  276. Hank Roberts:

    Rebunking is boring.
    Climatedialogue needs better skeptics.

  277. Jim Larsen:

    274 Hank R,

    Yes, the standard Dan H posting policies are well known. I’m just saying that in this particular instance they don’t apply. If you want your opponent to learn and grow*, then good results for good behaviour is warranted.

    Ahh, I can see the pseudo-apology… “We’re sorry we treated you like you even though you weren’t acting like yourself.”

    * And if you just want to bash your opponent, then you (and I) have some Jesus or Ghandi stuff to incorporate.

    276 Hank R said, “Climatedialogue needs better skeptics”

    LOL. We all do. It’s tough to meet standards when the group is limited to folks who believe we’re full of ****. But that’s the underlying current. Our opponents TRULY BELIEVE just like we truly believe. Their motivations are generally pure. Absolutely no evil involved. Until we realize that, climate dialogue will just be a big fight with Nature finally ending the squabble, probably via an ice-free arctic ocean and a serious El Nino…

    Can you say 2017? (Just a guess..)

    Captcha says: vanquished psoeexp

  278. Hank Roberts:

    “… the fear of crossing a dangerous threshold can turn climate negotiations into a coordination game, making collective action to avoid a dangerous threshold virtually assured…., but uncertainty about the location of the threshold turns the game back into a prisoners’ dilemma, causing cooperation to collapse….”

    Q: What — precisely — is provably dangerous CO2/warming?
    A: Delay is the deadliest form of denial.

    The delay game is a longtime favorite. There are many, many examples. Here’s one current
    How delay works.

  279. LESacks:

    From what I can see, this is a very one sided view of the popular debate, i.e. challenging mainline climate science. And that’s been done to death in many fora.
    I’d like to see a balanced debate, with dispassionate moderation, like this to discuss other key issues such which often come up in the online world as:
    – what evidence do we have that the UN is striving towards One World Government?
    – What evidence is there of a wide ranging conspiracy between climate scientists to distort the facts to keep jobs / get grants / support the UN in striving for world domination, given the above is provable.
    – Why, given the number of inquiries and time which has passed, do people insist that the ‘climategate’ email prove anything evil is going on?
    – What makes people think that defamation, threats, and hounding in the courts is an appropriate means of debating science?

    I’m sure Judith et al would be happy to contribute.
    I would be happy to contribute other key questions based on discussion I’ve seen.

  280. Ray Ladbury:

    LESacks, Pity the poor denialists. As their position lacks any evidence, and indeed is opposed by mountains of evidence, all they can hope to do is discredit the source of that evidence. Some have made the mistake of thinking that scientists are the source, and so they resort to ad hominem attacks. Others have rightly identified their enemy and have aimed their attacks at reality. You laugh, but Conservipedia carried an entry on “reality” for months that claimed reality had a liberal bias. These intrepid souls can often be found using state-of-the-art computers and high-speed Internet to proclaim loudly that science doesn’t work. Alas, being irony impaired, they find no humor in their actions.

  281. Jim Larsen:

    278 Hank asked, “What — precisely — is provably dangerous CO2/warming?”

    I’d say it’s the amount of warming where about half of the population seriously considers geoengineering. (Since we all agree that geoengineering is dangerous, right?) We’re at 0.8C and the oceans aren’t in equilibrium (for sea ice it will get worse as the oceans warm even if we halt the surface temp rise), but the sea ice is dying, so 1C ought to be plenty.

    That 2C limit isn’t about roses and softness and purity at 1.9C, but fuglier and fuglier as you approach 2C.

  282. Hank Roberts:

    > what — precisely

    That’s the delay-and-denial question.
    You missed the point of the study I linked to.
    An answer, a precise answer, is — arguable.
    And that works how?

    “… uncertainty about the location of the threshold turns the game back into a prisoners’ dilemma, causing cooperation to collapse….”

    I’m saying, don’t fall for the trick of trying to answer that question. Falling for that question and answering it honestly, instead of realizing that it’s the wrong question, puts off dealing with the problem; delay is denial.