Unforced Variations: Oct 2013

This month’s open thread. We’re going to guess that most of what people want to talk about is related to the IPCC WG1 AR5 report… Have at it!

286 comments on this post.
  1. sidd:

    Let us blind ourselves, so we will not see



  2. Susan Anderson:

    Thanks to those responding to the instant of geological time thing. Clearly one needs a big dose of skepticism, the real kind.

    I believe it’s very much on our minds the idea that this is all accelerating in unpredictable ways, while people are encouraged to fiddle away by some skilled and enterprising (and in many cases well paid) entrepreneurs of deception. In spite of all the social science I believe the general population needs to become more aware of the danger, that’s the only thing that penetrates our Roman Circus entertainment nexus, and gets the attention of people who are struggling from day to day, an increasing part of the population, and don’t have time for all this highfalutin’ stuff.

    However, I popped up here to ask a question because the issue of expertise is one that is exploited mightily. Thanks to a couple of experts who made me think about epistemology (which I was inclined to dismiss as being one of those abstrusities inaccessible to the 99%) and its converse, the important fact of acknowledging that one does not know.

    Wandering, finally, to my intended point and request:
    Somebody once summarized the amount of time and education (not to mention intellectual ability) required to get an education to qualify as an expert in climate science. I know there are a few outliers who actually put in the work and still spout anti-sense, but in general the pseudos need only copy the look of some legitimate work and insert a few links to the vast mirror universe such as WUWT, Curry, von Storch, or who have you. The fakers may have some minor expertise (more maths than myself, for example, some but not enough statistics) and have put in a few years in some other discipline (engineers and meteorologists come to mind, though there are many thoughtful open-minded people in these disciplines).

    I make it 4 years undergraduate, and about 8 years to a Ph.D., a postdoc (2-3 years?). When I was young that second bit was only 4 years. Then there’s the low EROIE in terms of salary.

    Any thoughts? Details? Looks like I answered my own question, but I’m hoping to see that partial answer improved.

  3. Hank Roberts:


    Somewhere along the ramifying pathways of the possible, I became an energy consultant. I’m not sure how that happened. Part of me thinks it’s because life proceeds haphazardly. Another part of me thinks it’s because I’m passive, irresolute, cowardly, and amoral. Now I analyze utility tariffs, natural gas prices, carbon emissions, and all the other glyphs and runes by which the hidden world of energy communicates with we who scuttle on its filmy surface…..
    Anyone who pays attention to this data must come to the same conclusion as I, but few are paying attention, or want to. That feeds my secret, this blitheness.

  4. prokaryotes:

    Any thoughts on Curry’s stadium hypothesis? Link

  5. prokaryotes:

    Re Ocean heat

    Global Warming’s Missing Heat: Look Back In Anger (and considerable disbelief)

    What it doesn’t address (IPCC AR5) is why the oceans might have started taking up more heat recently, and there’s a good reason for that.

    It was published in 1979.

    It’s the Charney Report; “Carbon Dioxide and Climate: A Scientific Assessment”, drawn up by a National Research Council study group led by Jule Charney, at the behest of the US National Academy of Sciences. They also took advice from experts in the field, James Hansen and Richard Lindzen among them.

    It is clear that even back then, climate science was aware of the role the oceans could play in the suppression of surface temperatures. Reading the report is fascinating, not least because these guys made quite a few educated guesses that have proved remarkably robust. Of course, the models they referred to were very crude, and temperature estimates were agreed more by committee than science, but the take-home points must not be lost: nearly a decade before the foundation of the IPCC, scientists were warning us very clearly of the potential danger in which we were placing ourselves. And they understood that the oceans could disguise the warming – which makes a mockery of claims that the hiatus was not anticipated.

  6. Radge Havers:


    For aquisition of expertise you often hear about 10,000 hours of quality study/practice time on average for various fields. But by emphasizing formal schooling, your question highlights a point that’s been made here before for climate science about the importance of the collaborative social environment in which education takes place — as opposed to trying to learn it in isolation.

    And then if this chart is to be believed, natural scientsts also tend to be smarter than the average bear:

    Anyhoo, some experts are no doubt more expert than others. That’s why I just keep it simple and go straight to RC for perspective.


  7. sidd:

    For those interested, I have made some small comments on the Wright paper, and reproduced Fig. 3 and Fig. 4 at



  8. Patrick 027:

    re 154 prokaryotes; from the link: The linear trend was removed from all indices to focus only the multi-decadal component of natural variability. – but the forced trend isn’t linear over that time period, which makes me concerned that some of that stadium effect may be an artifact (I’m just going by that link; haven’t looked at the actual paper.)

    OTOH, I would really like it if this were true in some way, because the physics could be fun to learn about. (Since AMO was emphasized, I’ll just mention the little tiny bit about it(? or something like it?) that I might know (from something I read well-over a decade ago, so…) – as best I can recall, filling in the blanks with logic, I think there was an idea that the rate of oceanic circulation would affect the dilution of the more saline contribution from the Mediterranean. A slower gyre would, going past the Straits of Gibralter, get saltier. Some decades later, this saltier water would have flowed through the Gulf Stream and enhance sinking, which would increase the thermohaline component of the currents, and if this added to the gyre, the North Atlantic would then get less salty, and in a few decades this would make the current slow down… etc. It’s a really cool idea; not sure how it pan(s/ned) out. If that’s what’s happening, then a dryer Mediterranean climate would amplify AMO, other things being equal, I’d guess.

  9. Hank Roberts:

    A prediction: drawn in 1900 for a century in their future, this predicts polar bears and open water at the North Pole in 2000

  10. VendicarDecarian:

    “Let us blind ourselves, so we will not see. – sidd

    That is exactly what Republicans want. Ignorance is their stock and trade.

  11. MARodger:

    prokaryotes @154.
    It is called the “stadium wave” (what we Brits call a ‘Mexican wave’) hypothesis not the “stadium” hypothesis although, as this is more the work of Wyatt, it may be that Curry is engaged in a bit of ‘grandstanding’ by getting in as joint author on the paper you link to.
    Curry is a declared Pacificite (“It’s the PDO wot dun it!”) not an Atlanticist (It’s all due to the AMO.) but the “stadium wave” formula neatly achieves a truce between such wild theorising by tying them all up together.
    So is this “stadium wave” but more curve-fitting nonsense? I am always a tad suspicious when an analysis only ever presents smoothed curves that have filtered the bejeebers out of the original data. And when these curve-fitters figure their job is done when the curve appear to fit over the first period they looked at and are not eagerly extending it back to older data or forwards to data freshly measured, I am doubly suspicious.
    So guess what? All the graphics I see with this “stadium wave” are 1900-2000 and heavily filtered. True there is also talk of analysis of proxy data 1700-2000 but, whatever that comprises, it doesn’t appear to be worthy of presentation beyond Wyatt’s PhD thesis. And the main author does appear to be lacking in the basics. The “stadium wave” has an alleged period of decades but Wyatt is happy to be quoted as saying “Hence, the sea ice minimum observed in 2012, followed by an increase of sea ice in 2013, is suggestive of consistency with the timing of evolution of the stadium-wave signal.” It appears that the period of the signal has been nailed down with incredible accuracy. I bet if we ask nicely Wyatt could even tell us the day of the week that this cycle peaked at.

  12. Mal Adapted:

    Radge Havers:

    And then if this chart is to be believed, natural scientsts also tend to be smarter than the average bear:

    If that chart is to believed, those in legal occupations tend to be smarter than the average natural scientist. What are we to make of that?

  13. Chris Dudley:

    Doug (#144),

    Compare those numbers with low carbon soil and you’ll find them quite similar. Coal itself has radioactivity lower than the lowest soils. The carbon has been out of touch with the atmosphere for long enough to lose most of its carbon-14 so the carbon itself contributes almost nothing while the (future) ash is highly diluted. Makes a great shield.

  14. Radge Havers:

    Re: @162

    Beats me. I didn’t dig into it. Assuming it’s not something in the methodology, I’d guess maybe the bar exam acts as a filter– so perhaps being a more broadly collaborative enterprise, natural science is more accepting of diverse contributors?

    There! I managed not to crack wise about lawyers… or social scientists, who also fared better… on the chart that they created…

  15. Doug Bostrom:

    Chris, if you look at a typical coal-fired generation plant you’ll see that these machines are not fueled by soil. If they were, they’d be called “soil-fired generation plants.”

    This is boring. Enjoy your beliefs but please try not to infect other people.

  16. Susan Anderson:

    re climate education: thanks for the information. I agree the collegial work is an important part, too, and missing from self-appointed critics who hang out with each other. I get a lot of attacks for preferring expertise from experts rather than doing my own, but do not agree that understanding how science works is the same as knowing how to do it. It’s a huge problem with a lot of the criticism, and for the gullible, a clever argument.
    The collegial nature of science might explain why I have such an easy time accepting science where others way more science literate than I go astray.

    However, on distribution of intellect, I’d say my auto mechanic is pretty brilliant with cars, intelligent in other areas, good with people, and he gets climate change too. Looks like that measure is skewed on traditional education.

    Deniers (tired of hearing calling deniers deniers is something Goebbels or Stalin might do … go figure!) are a special class; they seem to give meaning to “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

  17. Hank Roberts:

    > Compare those numbers with low carbon soil

    > (future) ash is highly diluted

    “burning removes organic constituents, leaving minerals and concentrating trace quantities of naturally occurring radionuclides: uranium thorium potassium their radioactive decay products including radium. (The amount radium in coal can vary by more than two orders of magnitude depending upon the type of coal and where it was mined.)”

    ‘if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.’

    Chris, your faith in your beliefs is obviously unshakeable.
    But you’ve never yet cited a reliable source, other than to cherrypick from the sources I pointed you to. That’s weak.

  18. Chris Dudley:

    Hank (#167),

    Glad you agree that the sources you link to support what I’ve been saying. Also, reread the original link. You’ll see that low carbon soil is specified there as well. Why? Think about it. What makes coal very low on radioactivity?

  19. Hank Roberts:

    Sorry, folks, I should’ve known not to reply to that.

  20. Chris Dudley:

    Doug (#165),

    I agree it is a rather dull topic. However, there are those that complain that coal plants should be regulated owing to their high radioactive waste output. These complaints are based on deceptive claims. This issue distracts from actual pollution from coal plants such as sulfur, NOX, mercury, particulate emissions, chemically toxic materials in ash and carbon dioxide and the devastating effects on both the environment and lives that coal mining and shipping has.

    Since the Supreme Court has insisted that science be used when regulating coal, this pollution of the scientific literature with deceptive claims makes that effort more difficult and could lead to delays in action on carbon dioxide emissions. Clearly, your mind has been infected by these false claims, so my effort in educating you is worth a pass through dullness so that you might be inoculated against them.

  21. Rob Nicholls:

    prokaryotes #154 and MA Rodger #161: Having not been able to access the new Wyatt and Curry paper, and given that I don’t understand the AMO, I don’t want to judge, but the quote from Wyatt, quoted by MA Rodger (and on various websites) did make me chuckle:

    “Hence, the sea ice minimum observed in 2012, followed by an increase of sea ice in 2013, is suggestive of consistency with the timing of evolution of the stadium-wave signal.”

    I can see a number of things wrong with that statement: 1) the incredible accuracy being claimed for a wave with such a long period, as noted by MA Rodger; 2) I would think a minimum value one year being followed by a less extreme (i.e. higher) value the next year is not unexpected given the noise-to-signal ratio. 3) there have been several succcessive arctic sea ice minima in recent years; I’m guessing that the stadium-wave doesn’t necessarily predict or fit neatly with those previous minima (and if it did predict them all then this might be interesting but I’d be just a little suspicious that the wave was fitted a tiny bit too much to the ‘noise’); it seems to me that the only particularly special thing about the arctic sea ice minimum in 2012 is that it’s too recent to have been beaten yet, given the downward trend.

    I don’t want to presume that the whole paper should be dismissed on the basis of one statement from one of the authors, and it would be great if there was a post about it, but I know there aren’t enough hours in the day for this and other excellent websites to respond to every single paper that gets thrown around the blogosphere. I really should read some of those posts about AMO again and try to get some of it to stick in my head this time.

  22. Mal Adapted:

    Radge Havers:

    Beats me. I didn’t dig into it. Assuming it’s not something in the methodology, I’d guess maybe the bar exam acts as a filter– so perhaps being a more broadly collaborative enterprise, natural science is more accepting of diverse contributors?

    Well, if nothing else, we can say to the deniers “If climate scientists were in it for the money, they’d be lawyers!”

  23. Patrick 027:

    from the abstract, this sounds a bit like it could mesh with Wyatt-Curry http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI4174.1
    “Dima, Mihai, Gerrit Lohmann, 2007: A Hemispheric Mechanism for the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. J. Climate, 20, 2706–2719.
    doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI4174.1
    … where, if I understand the abstract correctly:
    North Atlantic SST anomaly
    -> zonal wave number 1 pattern in SLP (sea level pressure) anomaly, amplified by feedback in North Pacific,
    -> change in sea ice going through Fram Strait
    -> North Atlantic salinity anomaly
    -> change in thermohaline circulation
    -> North Atlantic SST anomaly (opposite sign)
    … and no mention of the Mediterranean

    “Polyakov, I. V., U. S. Bhatt, H. L. Simmons, D. Walsh, J. E. Walsh, X. Zhang, 2005: Multidecadal Variability of North Atlantic Temperature and Salinity during the Twentieth Century. J. Climate, 18, 4562–4581.
    doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI3548.1

  24. Jim Larsen:

    On coal and radioactivity:

    You guys are all talking ashes. I thought the radioactive stuff mostly goes up the chimney, so a claim that coal ash is low in radioactivity doesn’t surprise me. It’s also irrelevant, as the ash is easy to dispose of. Tossing it into a mix of concrete is a popular method.

  25. Hank Roberts:

    coal and coal ash op. cit.

  26. MARodger:

    Patrick 027 @127.

    Dima & Lohmann 2007 present the theory of AMO being driven by ice export from the Fram Strait. This isn’t the only theory kicking about. And I recall the point made by others (?) investigating the same mechanism that the decline of Arctic Sea Ice may in due course make such a cooling mechanism diminish/switch off.

    Dima & Lohmann 2007 is perhaps now rather past its sell-by date. Note the prediction in its conclusions “According to our mechanism, the minimum in the Fram Strait sea ice export around the year 2000 will result in increased THC in the years 2010–15, which would translate into warmer conditions over Europe and North America in the next decades.”

    The paper does provide one rather good exemplar of what I consider to be the dodgy work that is often employed by this sort of analysis. D&L2007 Figure 3 shows the record of Fram Strait ice export in the top panel which features, for instance, two five year periods of +500 cu km in the 1960s & 1980s. This has been converted by the last panel into a nice smooth +/-200 cu km sine wave. If the volume of ice thro’ the Fram is truly the driver of the AMO, how is it that those 5-year periods of high export get entirely fuzzed out of existence before they impact onto the AMO?
    Indeed, a long-term component “that explains 46% of the variance” in the Fram ice export has been jettisoned from the analysis by the second panel of Fig 3. I find it rather surprising that 46% of the variance would have no impact worthy of comment on the proposed mechanism.
    Thus my considered opinion as to the veracity of this particular paper.

  27. Joseph O'Sullivan:

    #13 (Hank Roberts) I was thinking about a global report similar to this paper:
    Ecological and Evolutionary Responses to recent Global Climate Change (2006)
    or this Pew report (2004)
    but more recent.
    I have looked online, but haven’t seen anything.

    #172 (Mal Adapted) In the U.S. at least, law is highly competitive to get into, from first getting into law school and then passing the bar. The American Bar Association pushes law schools to be highly selective to maintain the highest possible bar passage ratings.

    A lot of this is to make sure people are getting effective counsel, but there is some protectionism, i.e. fewer lawyers = more work for current lawyers, particularly now with the tough times that have hit the legal profession. I am personally relieved to no longer work in the field because of the lack of jobs.

  28. Hank Roberts:

    > Joseph O’Sullivan says:
    > 14 Oct 2013 at 9:20 AM

    Those 2 links you give are to two copies of the same Annual Reviews article; the “stable” link is: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30033846

    I’m not an academic so I can’t see the full text.
    Ordinarily Annual Reviews comes out with these on a regular basis (not necessarily annually).

    Take the title of that article you found and paste _that_ into Scholar, and you’ll find subsequent work citing it:


    Since that particular 2006 review has been cited more than 2000 times, limit your Scholar search to, say, this current year:


    For most of these you’ll do best by asking your local reference librarian for help — any public library can borrow a copy for you, assuming you don’t have access through a university library.

    The IPCC is in the business of reading and summarizing this sort of material and will be coming out with their latest report over the next few months; that’s probably the best review.

  29. prokaryotes:

    The Herald Sun, however, has obtained a secret draft report of the second working group of the IPCC.

    The Working Group II AR5 report examines the extent of the impacts of climate change in different regions of the world. Link

  30. Hank Roberts:

    > can’t see the full text.
    Forgot I’d created their free account; they let you read online, though not copy text, and they don’t show the 2000 subsequent citing papers that way.
    Use the scholar link to see subsequent work citing that one. THat’s your best bet to find new work similar to what you found.

  31. Hank Roberts:

    > obtained a secret draft report

    Why do you trust these people? Anyone who has a real draft copy agreed to keep it confidential while it was worked on. You can put anything in a draft — if you can support the claim.



  32. prokaryotes:

    James Lovelock thinks(2009) that England is a rather save place in the future, when it comes to climate impacts. The same conclusion is made by Gwynne Dyer(2012). Looking at today’s political actions and climate progress it appears as if decision making and opinions are in part based on these assumptions. But what if they are wrong? I think it is very reasonable to assume that there will be failed crops from massive rainfall. There could be impacts from increased seismic activity, the last time SLR rose quickly volcanic activity increased by 300 percent. And this can create conditions which destroy entire crops.

  33. prokaryotes:

    Why do you trust these people?

    The question is how accurate is the data presented, and how valid and up to date is the data? And you cannot put anything in the draft, since the IPCC could publish the original draft based on the work of the several hundreds of scientists involved. The misrepresenting begins with picking regional impacts but leaving out the big picture, which also affects directly or indirectly.

  34. Joseph O'Sullivan:

    #178 & 180 Thanks Hank Roberts, your advice is helpful.

    I haven’t had the time I used to do even online research. I put up the question to see if anyone knew of any papers offhand before I sunk the time into finding a wide-ranging review of ecological effects. I thought there might even be a ecologist reading RC who could answer.

    I’m content to wait for the IPCC release for now. I wonder if journals defer to the IPCC around the time of IPCC releases by not publishing synthesis or review papers.

  35. Brucie A.:

    More climate sensitivity: Nature CLOUD Study Author: ‘The Climate May Be More Sensitive Than Previously Thought’

  36. Rob Nicholls:

    Thanks Patrick027 #173.
    I’ve looked through Wyatt & Curry’s stadium wave paper manuscript in full now (as at http://curryja.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/stadium-wave.pdf).
    Dr Curry’s website says “This paper will change the way you think about natural internal variability.” I’d love to hear what climate scientists make of it.

    I’m in no position to judge, but through my amateur eyes it looks like there are rather a lot of diverse indices (including proxies such as Japanese sardine populations), some complex stats have been performed, and then a rather complex hypothesis, culminating in a handy wheel diagram (at the end of the pdf) has been derived, and I’m left wondering how many indices and stats were chosen a priori, and how many indices, stats and hypotheses were discarded en route to the final paper.

    [Response: There is a long history of convoluted feedback loops being proposed to explain low-frequency variability – for instance, Mysak and Venegas (1998) or Mysak and Power (1992). They do generally have some merit in pointing to specific linkages, but the more complex they are, the less predictability they tend to have. I am reminded of an old critique “This work contains much that is new and correct; Unfortunately, that which is correct is not new, and that which is new is not correct”. But how much that applies in this case remains to be seen. – gavin]

  37. WebHubTelescope:

    I have been needling readers at the Climate Etc blog about what the “Stadium Wave” approach is inferring. In particular, I have tossed it back at Curry to suggest that understanding the internal variability is helping to reduce the uncertainty — in opposition to her seeming desire to have it widen the uncertainty; remember the “Uncertainty Monster”?

    Proxies related to Length-of-Day (LOD) and differential atmospheric angular momentum have some power in modeling the underlying natural fluctuations. AAM maps to the SOI extremely well, so that the longer term LOD may represent the multidecadal variations as Dickey has noted.

    J. O. Dickey, S. L. Marcus, and O. de Viron, “Air Temperature and Anthropogenic Forcing: Insights from the Solid Earth,” Journal of Climate, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 569–574, 2011.

    The connection is that one of Curry’s Stadium Wave components is LOD.

    The following link is an interactive page I put together that composes the fluctuation terms of SOI, aerosols(volcanic), LOD, and TSI to allow one to understand the variability and deduce the underlying GHG trend.

    This is really not new but another interesting way to represent our understanding of natural variability and the relentless underlying GHG forcing.

  38. Hank Roberts:

    > Brucie A. says:
    > More climate sensitivity: Nature CLOUD Study Author:
    > ‘The Climate May Be More Sensitive Than Previously Thought’

    Quote from the Letter, free at Nature:
    Nature (2013) doi:10.1038/nature12663
    Rec’d 04 Mar., Accepted 17 Sept., Published online 06 Oct. 2013
    Molecular understanding of sulphuric acid–amine particle nucleation in the atmosphere

    … galactic cosmic rays exert only a small influence on their formation, except at low overall formation rates. Our experimental measurements are well reproduced by a dynamical model based on quantum chemical calculations of binding energies of molecular clusters, without any fitted parameters. These results show that, in regions of the atmosphere near amine sources, both amines and sulphur dioxide should be considered when assessing the impact of anthropogenic activities on particle formation.

    The results reported here show that the uncertainty is even greater than previously thought, because extremely low amine emissions—which have substantial anthropogenic sources and have not hitherto been considered by the IPCC—have a large influence on the nucleation of sulphuric acid particles. Moreover, amine scrubbing is likely to become the dominant technology for CO2 capture from fossil-fuelled power plants, so anthropogenic amine emissions are expected to increase in the future30. If amine emissions were to spread into pristine regions of the boundary layer where they could switch on nucleation, substantial increases in regional and global cloud condensation nuclei could occur. This underscores the importance of monitoring amine emissions—as well as those of sulphur dioxide—when assessing the impact of anthropogenic activities on the radiative forcing of regional and global climate by aerosols.

  39. Hank Roberts:

    > amine scrubbing is likely to become the dominant
    > technology for CO2 capture from fossil-fuelled power
    > plants, so anthropogenic amine emissions are expected
    > to increase in the future

    Oh, this is going to be bad.

  40. Hank Roberts:

    This is rather good:

    For those already fulminating on reading the title — do read the piece and the comments and the author’s reply to the comments. The reflex responses are pretty much all wrong.

  41. prokaryotes:

    An ambitious new study describes the full chain of events by which ocean biogeochemical changes triggered by manmade greenhouse gas emissions may cascade through marine habitats and organisms, penetrating to the deep ocean and eventually influencing humans.

    Read more at: Link

  42. Hank Roberts:

    Rapid change.
    I can’t post a working link that mentions so ma li — so fix the link yourself to read it. Delete the spaces from this:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/10/how-so ma li-pirates-almost-but-not-quite-halted-vital-climate-change-research/280621/

    Tierney and deMenocal:

    the climate in the Horn of Africa changed in perhaps as little as 100 to 200 years ….

  43. john byatt:

    petition just started, please consider and share


  44. Patrick 027:

    re my 129 re 108 Watcher : http://www.skepticalscience.com/curry-mcintyre-resist-ipcc-model-accuracy.html

  45. Hank Roberts:

    Abrupt climate change: that’s
    Tierney, J.E., deMenocal, P.B., Abrupt shifts in Horn of Africa hydroclimate since the Last Glacial Maximum.
    Online October 10 2013
    Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1240411

  46. Retrograde Orbit:

    Mal Adapted: “… in Inhofe’s case there is ample support for an inference of malice …”
    If I have ever heard a half-hearted indictment this must be it :-)
    I suggest we do not approach the skeptics with the expectation of malice, lest we shall find it.

  47. Mal Adapted:

    Retrograde Orbit:

    If I have ever heard a half-hearted indictment this must be it :-)

    I assumed you were aware of Inhofe’s public persona. This is the kind of malice I was referring to:

    As I said on the Senate floor on July 28, 2003, “much of the debate over global warming is predicated on fear, rather than science.” I called the threat of catastrophic global warming the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” a statement that, to put it mildly, was not viewed kindly by environmental extremists and their elitist organizations.

    There’s plenty more where that came from, RO. Last year he published a book full of it: “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future”. You should have no trouble finding it.

    Do some research on your own, and decide for yourself whether I’ve approached him with unfair expectations.

  48. Susan Anderson:

    Oh sigh, it seems to be going the rounds, how we must not “approach [fake] skeptics with the assumption of malice.” I’m seeing a lot of that – very clever tactic, but not good. It ties up the time of people who have better things to do.

  49. Ray Ladbury:

    Susan and Mal,
    Beyond doubt, there are some denialists who are malicious. Also, beyond doubt, there are some who profess worry about climate change, but have an agenda that goes beyond merely keeping the planet’s temperature within bounds. It is my contention that we gain nothing and stand to lose much if we impute ill intent to all who oppose us.

    When we look at those in denial of climate change, we find all sorts of political ideologies (James Inhofe to Alexander Cockburn), a moral spectrum from saint to Satan, a broad range of intelligence (from Tony “Micro” Watts to Freeman Dyson) and an equally broad range of scientific understanding. If we want to make inroads–at the very least with those of moderate good will and intelligence, we have to better understand the source of their difficulty in accepting the science.

    Blaming it all on political ideology, malicious intent and lack of intelligence gets us nowhere.

  50. SecularAnimist:

    Ray Ladbury wrote: “Blaming it all on political ideology, malicious intent and lack of intelligence gets us nowhere.”

    First of all, it depends on what is meant by “malicious intent”.

    Do the Koch Brothers actively WANT to destroy the capacity of the Earth to support human life? Is it their deliberate “intention” to bring about the collapse of human civilization and mass extinction? Are they James Bond movie villains using coal as a weapon for the specific purpose of killing off humanity? I don’t think so.

    On the other hand, is it plausible that they simply DON’T CARE if the success of their business model kills off the poorest half, or even the poorest ninety percent, of humanity?

    Is it plausible that they are the sort of “Type A” megalomaniacal risk-taking sociopaths who are willing to gamble on risking much worse outcomes of AGW for a chance to “win” vast wealth and power, albeit in a degraded and impoverished world?

    I think that’s more than plausible. Does that mindset count as “malicious”?

    As for the others, the Soviets had a term that applies here, “useful idiots”.

    It’s not hard for those who DO have a deliberate intent to deceive, deny, delay and obstruct, to manipulate a variety of “difficulties accepting the science”, whether those difficulties are ideological, or the result of ignorance, or ego, or whatever.