A new comment-response policy for deniers and delayers

Many readers of Climate Progress ask me why I waste spend so much time rebutting people who post comments repeating the standard talking points of the delayer-1000s. Yes, I am aware those people can’t be convinced, but progressives are going to hear this disinformation for years to come, and so I think it is useful to see responses.

That said, most of the talking points have been well-debunked many times here as well as other places like RealClimate and Skeptical Science. So I’m not going to waste time doing that any more in the comments. I will, of course, take on new talking points — like the recent cooling nonsense (sometimes just to have some fun).

For the delayer-1000s who want to engage in a serious discussion, I would ask one of two things:

  1. Answer the key question of our time: “If you were running national and global climate policy, what level of global CO2 concentrations would be your goal and how would you achieve it?” No answer (or no answer beyond “wait for new technology“) means you are a Delayer-1000, someone who is prepared to see atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations hit 1000 ppm, which will nullify all denier talking points and end life on this planet as we know it. OR
  2. Take my bet: “$1000 says the next decade is hotter than this one. I’ll give you 2-to-1 odds.” Anyone who won’t take that bet — 2-to-1 odds is a gimme for anyone who spounts most of the delayer-1000 talking points, especially the cooling nonsense — doesn’t believe what they’re saying, and that means they are spreading disinformation. I won’t waste any time in the comments section debunking people who don’t even believe what they are saying. If $1000 is too steep, give me a counter offer. I’m also happy to take more bets on the Arctic being ice free by 2020.

If you won’t do one of those two things, then you either don’t care about the next 10 billion people to walk the Earth or you don’t believe what you are saying. Either way, a response would be a waste of time.

Now, in place of a detailed rebuttal in the comments, I’ll probably just post this link. Other readers may feel free to post this link in the comments also.

24 Responses to A new comment-response policy for deniers and delayers

  1. Alexander says:

    We in the environmental interfaith community applaud your wise approach to skeptics. It’s fine for folks to ask questions, but sometimes we all need to do our own research rather than require other people to do it for us.

    From Maimonides, Muhammad, and Pascal, wagering for social progress and enlightenment has a long philosophical tradition.

    I’ll certainly be quoting your approach to our denial friends.

  2. Gary Herstein says:

    The “wager” is an interesting rhetorical gesture, but not a real argument. I am myself psychologically all but incapable of engaging in a bet even on things of which I am entirely certain. So the unwillingness to take such a bet is, in point of fact, indicative of nothing.

    Still, even as a rhetorical gesture, it is a useful tool for rattling the fools, liars and hypocrites on this subject. So I have a genuine question for Dr. Romm: Do I (and others) have your permission to point others to your wager, even as I (and others) lack the chutzpah (and finances) to make such wagers of our own?

  3. Beefeater says:

    So the bet is that we are in a perfectly normal, historically predictable, interglacial age warming period?

    Now if the bet is that we can do anything to change nature, well I probably won’t be around to collect.

  4. Joe says:

    Gary: You have my permission.

    Beef: I take it you haven’t looked at the temperature profile of very many interglacial warming periods. Try here.
    Note the timeline reads right to left.

    Temperatures spike up, and then slowly decline. They don’t suddenly reverse course after 10,000 years and start rapidly warming again — unless you have a species short-sighted enough to increase carbon dioxide emissions at more than 100 times the historical rate.

    This ain’t nature — except to the extent that we count as part of nature, which seems increasingly like a dubious claim….

  5. PGosselin says:

    This decade is almost finished, and it most certainly will end up warmer, ON AVERAGE, than the 90s average. So what! The says absolutely nothing about CO2 being the driver.
    And that’s all you’re willing to give? 2 to 1 odds! That’s it?
    Why…that’s like betting on a basketball team that’s up by 20 points with 3 minutes to go. Lol! Your courage is amazing!

    But seeing how you are all into betting, what odds are you giving for the 2011 – 2020 decade being warmer, on average, than the current one. Are you ready to offer the same 2-1 odds?
    Or, let’s bet on whether this current decade will end cooler than when it started. Are you ready to offer 2 to 1 odds there too?
    Let’s bet on sea level rise. I say it won’t even rise more 6 cm in the next 10 years (i.e. 60 cm over the next 100 – which would hardly be a catastrophe). Why – this ought to be a sure bet for you all. Even The Al Gore claims they’ll go up 20 ft – and real soon! That’s one you ought to jump all over. Lemme know.

  6. PGosselin says:

    I’m waiting to see what odds, if any, they’re going to offer for the 2011-2020 decade, or sea level rises. And you can be sure I’ll be a recruitin
    lots of folks to put their money down. How much are you ready to put into escrow my friends? To keep it legal, we can pledge to donate the majority of the winnings to charity.

  7. PGosselin says:

    Look, I just want to help you folks out.
    Look at the Vostak graph referred to by Joe.
    1. Look at 130,000 years ago: CO2 level about 275 ppm,
    delta T at about +3°C.
    2. Now move left to about 115,000 years ago, CO2 about 260 ppm,
    but delta T has dropped -6°C!

    Even with an almost constant CO2 level, the temp dropped 9°C.
    It’s not what you all think it is. It means when it gets colder, the CO2 gets absorbed, and then drops. CO2 lags the temperature.
    Now if you refuse to believe or understand this, then you would be well advised to make a big circle around Vegas.

  8. PGosselin says:

    Gute Nacht!

  9. David B. Benson says:

    PGosselin — You wouldn’t appear to be such an ignorant fool if you would read “The Discovery of Global Warming”, liked here

    Beefeater — We have been ‘changing nature’ for your entire life. And continue to do so.

  10. Joe says:

    PG — I don’t understand you.
    My bet IS about the next decade vs. this one!
    “$1000 says the next decade is hotter than this one. I’ll give you 2-to-1 odds.”

    So are we on?

    The lag issue has been debunked everywhere, including this blog.

  11. Beefeater says:

    David B. Benson Says:
    Beefeater — We have been ‘changing nature’ for your entire life. And continue to do so.

    Unless you believe that we were dropped here by alien spaceship, or maybe created by some god 6000 years ago, humans are very much part of nature. The arrogance of the alarmists is the “religious belief” that humans are somehow an imposition on the “Goddess Earth”.

  12. David B. Benson says:

    Beefeater — Most organisms don’t ‘change nature’ much, but rather respond to changes. The only absolutely major exception to this happened a long time ago, when the atmosphere was changed from redcuing to oxidizing by micro-organisms.

    It is a well understood aspect of ecology (a branch of science, distint from ‘environmentalism’) that too many individuals of any one species form a sort of plague (think locusts) and eventually various deseases or preditors evolve to establish some new form of balance.

    Homo spaiens evolved as hunter-gathers. Maybe one million strong at the beginning of the Holocene. And then invented agriculture. In at least one sense, things have been out-of-kilter every since.

    In another sense, for which read the (very interesting) book “Plows, Plagues and Petroleum”, by W.F. Ruddiman, even with agriculture there was appropriate balance until the beginning of the industrial age. I” pick 1850 CE, since that was the last time CO2 was at 288 ppm. Call that the beginning of the Antropocene, wherein humans, acting in concert, are ‘in control’ of some aspects of the climate, ‘changing nature’.

    So while certainly one million humans was not an imposition, and maybe even one billion (1830 CE) was not, certainly 6.7 billion and growing is. And as predicted, new and dreadful deseases have evolved and are continuing to evolve.

    I’d welcome you to the Anthropocene, but I do not think you are going to enjoy it.

  13. Martin says:


    the problem is not that we’re an ‘imposition on “Goddess Earth”.’ It is that the way we’re changing the world is going to adversely impact our existence on Earth. In the long run, short a truly cataclysmic event, “Goddess Earth” will have the last laugh!


  14. Martin says:


    your condescending troll persona is tiresome. While you might be able to read a graph, you obviously don’t really understand the science or the numbers. Between throwing in plate tectonics (irrelevant for the current climate discussion), a graph of temperature from a single surface weather station and silly comments about the Jan an Feb temperature anomalies, you’ve more or less shown yourself up as either ignorant or dissembling. To cap it off, suggesting a bet on the end of the decade vs. the beginning of the decade makes no sense. There’s too much uncertainty about the temperature in any one year. And if you think that invalidates the conclusions of most of the world’s climate scientists, then, well, that just proves my point.

    All the best to you!

  15. Paul K says:

    Been away from the web for the last week, so I appreciate the new thread on this topic. De-emphasizing arguments about the science is a good idea. The question is who is the true delayer. Could it in fact be Joe himself? Joe’s solution requires tax and trading schemes that are years away in the U.S. and likely not doable globally. Delayer tactic #1 is reliance on new technology. Joe’s solution is totally dependent on plug- in hybrids, which do not now exist in mass producible form. My solution is dependent on them too, but I’m the so called delayer.

  16. Joe says:

    Don’t be silly, Paul. I thought you were more serious.

    I don’t rely on taxes. I do rely on a cap & trade system that is about one year away from being enacted.

    You really should read my book someday, or my blog posts. We don’t need plug-in hybrids to start the deep reductions. We probably need them and EVs to get where we must go. But they don’t require breakthrough technology. They qualify as in the pipeline

  17. Ronald says:


    You look at that graph of carbon dioxide and temperature and you only see the 115000 year part? Huh? You miss all the other close alignment of carbon dioxide and temperature?

    Carbon dioxide and temperature are in a dance with each other because carbon dioxide is soluble in water and it gets dissolved in the oceans. The oceans can store a lot of it and how much it stores is determined by the oceans temperature which is determined somewhat by how much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

    Look on the charts of where the carbon dioxide levels are stopped at 280 ppm. We’re at 385 right now and we are off the scale and we’re going even higher and further off that chart of carbon dioxide level and further off the scale. That’s what the climatologists see.

    You are mistaken in your analysis of the problem because you only think that climate temperatures are caused by anything and everything other than the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. There are things other than carbon dioxide that affects climate, but carbon dioxide level is a major factor. Your attitude of anything, anything, anything at all but carbon dioxide has blinded you.

  18. Ronald says:

    Paul K,

    What are you writing? If you think that the message on this board is delayer, what should be written? What is a non-delayer message that can’t be confused with a delayer message?

  19. PGosselin says:

    OK Joe.
    There are some details to clear up here.
    1. I’m ready to take your bet – but the warming must be caused by CO2 emissions, and not by other natural causes, as the case has been since 1978. If you can prove it’s CO2, then I’ll surely pay. Not only that JunkScience will pay you a tidy some to boot.
    Still, I’m sure I’ll find some people who will bet irregardless of the cause, on just warmer or colder. Are you ready to put $2000 in escrow?
    2. Concerning No. 1, what data shall be used to decide? LOL! GISS!
    I don’t think so. For the bet, satellite data must be used.
    3. I am ready to bet you on the sea level rises…The Al Gore predicted 20 feet – soon! I’ll bet you on the 6 cm over the next 10 years. Heck, that ought to be a no-brainer for ya!
    3. And what about this decade ending cooler than the average of this decade? I’m sure I can find people who will take you on there too.
    Heck, you’re so sure about the science, why haven’t you opened up online betting?

    Finally, concerning global climate policy, Bjorn Lomborg has shown that reducing CO2 emissions would be a massive waste of funds – a financial folly. As CO2 is a mere trivial climate driver, it’s umimportant which levels are reached. Every newly added CO2 concentration has a reduced greenhouse effect. What’s being added today is peanuts in the entire climate equation.
    With overwelming consensus, isn’t it a bit peculiar how few people are reducing their emissions. They’re still flying around in private jets, heating swimming pools with gas etc.. Why? It’s because they aren’t at all convinced themselves of this bogus global warming theory. Why should they be? Historical data shows ZERO correlation between CO2 levels and temperature. Even the Vostok ice core data you refer to kills your own argument and claim! LOL! You yourself neither can provide an answer for the recent cooling nor for the 9°C temp drop 130,000 years ago while CO2 was constant.
    You guys can’t hockey stick the entire climate history away. But I’m sure Steve McIntyre will not mind if you tried! That’s probably your only chance though, a takeover of the media and all weather and climate services. Go for it! Lol! Stalin managed it for 70 years.

  20. Joe says:

    Nice chutzpah PG/Delayer-1000:

    This will probably be my final response to you, since you have not met either of the conditions laid out in this post.

    1) Your condition is laughable — if I can’t “prove” to you [i.e. convince a denier/delayer] the cause is CO2, you won’t pay off? The bet is straightforward. Since you don’t believe science now (i. e. the conservative review of the scientific literature in the IPCC), then why should I think you’ll believe it in ten years?

    2) Any of the global datasets would be fine. The satellite data would work as well. The fact that you laugh at GISS data clearly shows your anti-scientific nature.

    3) “The Al Gore predicted 20 feet – soon!” Factually incorrect. Please identify online any statement to back up that claim. I’ll bet you on sea ice, as I’ve said.

    4) [or what you call 3 again]. I am exceedingly uninterested in betting on weather. My bets are about the climate. I haven’t opened up online betting because denier/delayers turn out to be all talk and disinformation — they don’t believe what they are saying so they won’t put any money down.

    Your other comments been well-debunked here and elsewhere. They need not further take up my time — and I certainly can’t imagine why anyone else would want to reply to them.

    You have satisfied the criteria of a Delayer-1000. If you (or Lomborg) were running national and international climate policy, we’d hit 1000 ppm and end of life as we know it on this planet. Do tell your kids — or any children in your family — that you were one of those counseling delay. They will be wondering who to blame by the 2020s, I imagine.

  21. Paul K says:

    If Joe was not a delayer, he would focus on what to do today, rather than years down the line. He would stop the constant attacks on any who even slightly disagree with his catastrophic vision. Can you name one politically doable piece of legislation he has proposed? How many posts can you find here about current efforts in replacing fossil fuels. It is telling that he has never posted on the Bay Wind Project, a major privately funded CO2 reducing venture. Of course, it is opposed by the so very concerned about global warming Robert Kennedy Jr. – he of the deniers should be tried for treason remark.

  22. Anna Haynes says:

    > “Do tell your kids — or any children in your family — that you were one of those counseling delay”

    Another criterion for responding to a denier or delayer should be that this person provide its real name, so the kids _can_ find out, in future.

    > “$1000 says the next decade is hotter than this one. I’ll give you 2-to-1 odds.”

    Joe, just to be clear – the bet is about whether 2010-2019 is hotter than 2000-2009? And the delayer/denier puts up $500, against your $1000?

  23. Joe says:

    Anna — yes, you are exactly correct. It should be a gimme for any denier who really believes the crap they are spreading. Anyone who won’t take the bet can be safely ignored.