Climate

Why scientists aren’t more persuasive, Part 1

Of all the talents bestowed upon men, none is so precious as the gift of oratory. He who enjoys it wields a power more durable than that of a great king…. The subtle art of combining the various elements that separately mean nothing and collectively mean so much in an harmonious proportion is known to very few…. [T]he student of rhetoric may indulge the hope that Nature will finally yield to observation and perseverance, the key to the hearts of men.

churchill.jpgSo wrote a 23-year-old Winston Churchill in a brilliant, unpublished essay, “The Scaffolding of Rhetoric.”

The ever-worsening reality of human-caused global warming is driving more and more scientists to become desperate about our future (see “Desperate times, desperate scientists“). Yet poll after poll shows that scientists and those who accept scientific understanding as the basis for action on climate change are failing to persuade large segments of society about the urgent need to act (see “The Deniers are winning, but only with the GOP” and “The deniers are winning, especially with the GOP“).

Anyone who wants to understand — and change — the politics of global warming, must understand why the deniers, delayers, and inactivists are so persuasive in the public debate and why scientists and scientific-minded people are not. A key part of the answer, I believe, is that while science and logic are powerful systematic tools for understanding the world, they are no match in the public realm for the 25-century-old art of verbal persuasion: rhetoric.

Logic might be described as the art of influencing minds with the facts, whereas rhetoric is the art of influencing both the hearts and minds of listeners with the figures of speech. The figures are the catalog of the different, effective ways that we talk–they include alliteration and other forms of repetition, metaphor, irony, and the like. The goal is to sound believable. As Aristotle wrote in Rhetoric, “aptness of language is one thing that makes people believe in the truth of your story.”

The figures have been widely studied by marketers and social scientists. They turn out to “constitute basic schemes by which people conceptualize their experience and the external world,” as one psychologist put it. We think in figures, and so the figures can be used to change the way we think. That’s why political speech writers use them. To help level the rhetorical playing field in the global warming debate, I will highlight the three rhetorical elements that are essential to modern political persuasion.

First: simple language. Contrary to popular misconception, rhetoric is not big words; it’s small words. Churchill understood this at the age of 23:

The unreflecting often imagine that the effects of oratory are produced by the use of long words…. The shorter words of a language are usually the more ancient. Their meaning is more ingrained in the national character and they appeal with greater force to simple understandings than words recently introduced from the Latin and the Greek. All the speeches of great English rhetoricians … display an uniform preference for short, homely words of common usage….

We hear the truth of his advice in the words that linger with us from all of the great speeches: “Judge not that ye be not judged,” “To be or not to be,” “lend me your ears,” “Four score and seven years ago,” “blood, toil, tears and sweat,” “I have a dream.”

In short, simple words and simple slogans work.

Second, repetition, repetition, repetition. Repetition makes words and phrases stick in the mind. Repetition is so important to rhetoric that there are four dozen figures of speech describing different kinds of repetition. The most elemental figure of repetition is alliteration (from the Latin for “repeating the same letter”), as in “compassionate conservative.” Repetition, or “staying on message,” in modern political parlance, remains the essential rhetorical strategy. As Frank Luntz — the bane of climate progressives (see Bush climate speech follows Luntz playbook: “Technology, technology, blah, blah, blah.“) but an undeniably astute conservative messaging guru — has said:

There’s a simple rule: You say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and then again and again and again and again, and about the time that you’re absolutely sick of saying it is about the time that your target audience has heard it for the first time.

Third, the skillful use of tropes (from the Greek for turn), figures that change or turn the meaning of a word away from its literal meaning. The two most important tropes, I believe, are metaphor and irony. “To be a master of metaphor,” Aristotle writes in Poetics, is “a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies intuitive perception of the similarity in dissimilars.” When Bush said in 2006 that the nation was “addicted to oil,” he was speaking metaphorically. Curing an addiction, however, requires far stronger medicine than the president proposed (see “Bush State of the Union Addresses on Energy: Yada, Yada, Yada….“).

SCIENCE, CLIMATE, AND RHETORIC
Rhetoric works, and it works because it is systematic. As Churchill wrote, “The subtle art of combining the various elements that separately mean nothing and collectively mean so much in an harmonious proportion is known to very few.” Unfortunately, the major player in the climate debate, the scientific community, is not good at persuasive speech. Scientists might even be described as anti-rhetoricians since they avoid all of its key elements.
Few scientists are known for simple language. As the physicist Mark Bowen writes in Thin Ice, his book about glaciologist Lonnie Thompson:

Scientists have an annoying habit of backing off when they’re asked to make a plain statement, and climatologists tend to be worse than most.”

Most scientists do not like to repeat themselves because it implies that they aren’t sure of what they are saying. Scientists like to focus on the things that they don’t know, since that is the cutting edge of scientific research. So they don’t keep repeating the things that they do know, which is one reason the public and the media often don’t hear from scientists about the strong areas of agreement on global warming.

Needless to say, the deniers are so good at repetition that they continue to repeat myths long after they have been debunked by scientists. Scientists, and the media, grow weary of repeatedly debunking the same lies, the same nonsensical myths. But that, of course, only encourages the deniers to keep repeating those myths. Like my 19-month-old daughter, they know that if they just keep repeating the same thing over and over and over and over again, they will eventually get their way. And they have (see “Is 450 ppm politically possible? Part 6: What the Boxer-Lieberman-Warner bill debate tells us“). Of course, when your “way” is just to get people to keep doing the same thing they have been doing for decades (i.e. nothing), your messaging task is considerably easier because the default position of most people, the media, and policymakers is “do nothing.”

Finally, scientific training, at least as I experienced it, emphasizes sticking to facts and speaking literally, as opposed to figuratively or metaphorically. Scientific debates are won by those whose theory best explains the facts, not by those who are the most gifted speakers. This view of science is perhaps best summed up in the motto of the Royal Society of London, one of the world’s oldest scientific academies (founded in 1660), Nullius in verba: take nobody’s word. Words alone are not science.

Scientists who are also great public communicators, like Carl Sagan or Richard Feynman, have grown scarcer as science has become increasingly specialized. Moreover, the media likes the glib and the dramatic, which is the style most scientists deliberately avoid. As Jared Diamond (author of Collapse) wrote in a must-read 1997 article on scientific messaging (or the lack thereof), “Scientists who do communicate effectively with the public often find their colleagues responding with scorn, and even punishing them in ways that affect their careers.” After Carl Sagan became famous, he was rejected for membership in the National Academy of Sciences in a special vote. This became widely known, and, Diamond writes, “Every scientist is capable of recognizing the obvious implications for his or her self-interest.

Scientists who have been outspoken about global warming have been repeatedly attacked as having a “political agenda.” As one 2006 article explained, “For a scientist whose reputation is largely invested in peer-reviewed publications and the citations thereof, there is little professional payoff for getting involved in debates that mix science and politics.”

Not surprisingly, many climate scientists shy away from the public debate. At the same time, the Bush administration has muzzled many climate scientists working for the U.S. government. As a result, science journalist, not practicing scientist, are almost always the ones explaining global warming to the public. Unfortunately, the media is cutting back on science reporting in general, and finds reporting climate science particularly problematic.

It is not remarkable, then, that the American public is so uninformed about global warming, so vulnerable to what might be called the conservative crusade against climate, as discussed repeatedly on this blog and in Naomi Oreskes’ excellent lecture titled, “The American Denial of Global Warming.”

This is the first in an occasional series on climate and rhetoric [my unpublished book on rhetoric has to be good for something]. Part 2 will look another flaw in scientific messaging that deniers exploit.

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43 Responses to Why scientists aren’t more persuasive, Part 1

  1. Rick C says:

    Joe, I have been crossing keyboards with a denier at desmogblog, specificaly on Al Gore’s call to be disobedient and a denier posted on the blog that Warming ended in 1998. That was easy to debunk. He also argued that it was far warmer and there was far more CO2 400 million years ago. Also easy to debunk. I told him that the relevant temperature range was that which existed from 10,000 years ago to the present because average global temperature was 15ºC plus or minus ½ºC over that period of time. He countered that there were major rises during the Roman Empire and the middle ages without specifying the degree of temperature rise.

    I haven’t responded yet because I don’t have the time in my life to counter these arguments. I could counter them but I’m wondering when someone crosses the line between debate and trolling that whether I owe it to others who read that to counter his falsehoods?

  2. P. G. Dudda says:

    Part of the issue is that scientists fall for the classic rhetorical trap: letting your opponent frame the issue. By refuting the claim, one ironically actually strengthens the opponent’s stance. Instead of refuting the stated claim, reframe it in a memorable way:

    “Temperatures were warmer 10000 years ago.”
    “And if it’s all due to the sun, we should be even colder now. Why aren’t we?”

    It sidesteps the original claim, and reframes it with a (almost) nonsequitur argument. It also causes the listener to associate “warmer” with “why” aren’t we”, and further weakens the original denial.

    …just as one example…

  3. Brian D says:

    Plato also had things to say on the importance of rhetorical expertise vs. actual expertise.

  4. Dano says:

    Excellent post.

    The key thing inherent in here, and contra to Rick C above in comments, is that for this issue, rhetoric is needed not for the ideologues who won’t change their minds if you hit them with a 2×4, but for the rest of society. For instance,

    Here is an article about a new WA State law to protect threatened and endangered salmon, an icon of the NW and prominent on the state quarter.

    Are people going to go along with the law and slightly change their lives to help protect an icon in exchange for a slight inconvenience? What do you think? Would properly framed notification helped the situation? You bet. Now it is too late.

    We desperately need – in this time of increasing resource constraints – much better rhetoric. A lost art, to our detriment.

    Best,

    D

  5. John McCormick says:

    Joe,

    brilliant, timely and appreciated. Thank you.

    John McCormick

  6. rpauli says:

    Science does the science.

    Madison Avenue uses research in behavioral sciences to persuade and influence thinking. Very sophisticated research goes into getting your dollar.

    Unique to our species, our human psychology, built from years of survival ordeals, leaves us with traits unsuited for modern times.

    American Petroleum Industry spends millions to buy PR/marketing talent to do campaigns to influence human attitudes to remain inactive in the face of this impending catastrophe.

    Science would never stoop and so looses the value of exploiting research in social psychology.

    Some behavioral traits that block open thinking :
    http://www.climatedebatedaily.org/2008/09/thanks-wikipedia.html

  7. paulm says:

    Great stuff. I look forward to part II.

    Can we not get a few rhetorical geniuses on our case? (Letterman was a good start)

    Shouldn’t we specifically targeting theses sort of individuals?

    The time for direct action on GW is now!

  8. paulm says:

    Anyone know of a good site with letter templates that campaign for Climate Change action?

  9. David B. Benson says:

    In the Pacific Warm Pool, it is now warmer than at any time in hundreds of thousands of years.

    Source: Dr. James Hansen in papers with various co-authors.

  10. Russ says:

    The above link to Aristotle’s Rhetoric mistakenly goes to the Churchill as well, so here’s a link to it.

  11. gaiasdaughter says:

    Joe, while I agree with all your points regarding rhetoric, I believe there is another equally important, if not more so, factor in play. The title of Al Gore’s film sums it perfectly, ‘an inconvenient truth.’ People choose to believe the deniers over the warmers because that requires nothing more of them. To believe the warmers is to embark upon turbid seas for a protracted voyage to unknown lands. Somehow we must sell, not only the science, but the idea that our final destination is a land of milk and honey and not prison rations of bread and water.

  12. Ryan from Cali says:

    Hi Joe,

    Let me start off by saying that I am not a troll. I also am not a climate scientist. In fact, I am a farmer. For years now I have been following the debate and science of global warming with keen interest. Almost from the beginning it didn’t make sense to me and still doesn’t.

    So, long story short, I was doing a google search for something or other and wound up on one of your archived articles regarding Hansen. In the message section you proposed a wager. The wager gave 2 to 1 odds that the next decade (2010-2019) would be warmer then the current decade. You agreed that the sat data could be used as the temp source.

    I would like to take you up on that bet. I am willing to bet you much more than $1000 if you would like. You name the amount and give me 2 to 1 odds and I will bet you that the 2010-2019 time period will average colder than the 2000-2009 period according to the sats. We can set up an escrow account if you like. It’s up to you, let me know.

    Also, I hope you don’t take this as some kind of attack. I simply truly believe that the science is flawed and am willing to put my money where my mouth is. I know this is strange to you and the rest of the AGW croud here, but there are intelligent thinking people who have seen most if not ALL of the science from both sides of the debate and still don’t believe. I hope you take me up on my offer. It would certainly be entertaining.

  13. Ronald says:

    It’s more than just how we talk about it.

    It’s the perfect problem.

    1. Each persons contribution is small. I’m just one of 300 million in the US, one of over 6 billion in the world.

    2. There is a lot of money to be made by some people to not get the problem solved.

    3. The product that needs to be reduced does alot of good for people. It heats and lights my home, powers my transportation and saves me from hard physical labor for many of the things I want to do.

    4. We don’t see the actual pollution.

    5. The Science itself seems mythologized; it seems to be crosses of Paleontology, Meteorology and a whole bunch of old ice. I expect to see Indiana Jones running from the bad guys.

    6. The really bad things are going to happen in the future. I’ll be dead.

    7. The biggest part of the problem? It’s hard to get people to be committed to fixing the problem. To save the planet so that it is more liveable for the next 50 generations should be something that more informed people would work for, but there hasn’t been enough effort.

  14. David B. Benson says:

    Ryan from Cali — Have you read “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart:

    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.html

    ?

  15. Dano says:

    Shhhhh, David. Let Joe part him from his money.

    Best,

    D

  16. Robert says:

    I broadly agree with Ronald, although I would go even further. I am not convinced that the problem is fixable, either politically or technically.

    – Politically it may never be possible to get the electorate to care enough to ‘vote for austerity’.

    – Technically, I do not believe that out civilisation can survive without fossil fuel. Absolutely everything we do is utterly dependent on fossil fuel inputs that without them we simply could not feed 6.7 billion people, period.

    This makes me the ultimate doomer! I should be on http://dieoff.org/

  17. David B. Benson says:

    Dano — ;-)

  18. rjm says:

    just watched Bob Carter’s 4 part youtube thing. Yeah he’s good – and convincing – and he believes it.

    Effective oratory requires that you have or believe you have the truth and that it matters.

    You don’t have to be right, but you must believe.

    I think you guys make a serious error when you assume that skeptics are intentionally misleading. They aren’t. Watch Carter and see.

  19. John Hollenberg says:

    Ryan,

    Taking you at your word that you aren’t a troll, I would be fascinated to know how you could be following this subject for many years and reach such a conclusion. Perhaps it is due to reading long-debunked nonsense put out by those with no or questionable scientific credentials? If you are not a scientist, doesn’t seeing the arctic ice melting like crazy and hearing about all of the glaciers that are retreating make you question your stance just a little bit?

    Also, if you aren’t a scientist, what makes you so sure that you would want to put up your own money? All of the scientific analyses show that the trend of global warming continues (in spite of those who say it “stopped” in 1998–read the scientific analyses and the difference between weather and climate).

  20. red says:

    “After Carl Sagan became famous, he was rejected for membership in the National Academy of Sciences in a special vote.”

    Nevertheless, scientists that reach out to the public seem to do fine. Neil deGrasse Tyson (the “new Carl Sagan”), for example, appears to have a solid career. There are even more paths to success now for such scientists with cable TV, the Internet, classes downloaded or recorded on DVD, etc.

    “conservative crusade against climate”

    alliteration?

    Here’s an article about climate change (disbelieving AGW) by Apollo astronaut Walt Cunningham in Launch Magazine:

    launchmagonline.com/walt-cunninghams-viewpoint/64-in-science-ignorance-is-not-bliss

    The people that read Launch probably tend to favor of space activities. Maybe they lean more towards the engineering and business sides than the science side, but they’re probably fairly scientifically literate on average. Also, they probably like environment monitoring satellites, using suborbital rockets for environment monitoring

    space.newscientist.com/article/dn14838-virgin-galactic-craft-to-help-monitor-climate.html

    using communication satellites to send remote wind farm data to central offices

    http://www.satnews.com/cgi-bin/story.cgi?number=595064039

    and the countless other uses of space systems to monitor the climate and help renewable, efficient energy. AGW means lots more of that kind of thing.

    A lot of them probably look up to industry figures like Elon Musk who just got his first rocket into orbit, and who considers energy to be the 2nd most important task next to space settlement (he’s the Tesla and Solar City guy).

    So, the Launch audience is a natural one for believing in AGW, right? The current Launch issue says they got the most mail responses ever from Walt’s climate article. I don’t know what the general tone of the letters was, but they published 5 or 6 (including 1 from a well-known person in the field), and EVERY ONE strongly agreed with Walt. I can only guess that this is representative of the general tone of the responses.

    My conclusion: Do NOT put your best efforts into banging your heads against a wall and trying to convince people of AGW. You have a perfect opportunity with the current level of AGW belief, combined with high gas prices, obvious national security issues with oil, and so on to make great progress against oil. That’s where today’s main efforts should be, because that’s where you can’t lose with any level of political competence. After oil should be efforts at efficiency, justified mainly on long-term economic grounds, not mainly AGW. There’s a fair chance of succeeding there, too. Going after coal now is much harder and less likely to succeed, especially if the cap-and-trade income isn’t returned to the middle-class taxpayers directly, because such AGW efforts will be painful and are up against the problems you see in the Launch letters and that this post discusses.

  21. John Mashey says:

    Ryan from Cali:

    Speaking as an old farmboy:

    Try reading my How to Learn about Science and see if that helps make sense of this. It’s all too easy to encounter more anti-science than science and get really sure of things that aren’t right.

  22. Scott says:

    The point someone made about the difference between weather and climate is huge. In my opinion, that is where many people become confused in this debate.

    As for Ryan,

    The recorded warming trends are not based on simple temperature readings. Data is retrieved from numerous areas around the world, and from that, scientists study deviation in temperature anomalies. This website does a good job at explaining this point:

    http://www.exploratorium.edu/climate/atmosphere/data4.html

    Also, temperatures rise and fall year by year, decade by decade, due to occurrences in nature. However, the steady warming trend is clear.

    Other variables play into the equation of Climate Change as well, such as melting Siberian permafrost, feedback loops enforced by the melting of ice caps/glaciers and reduction of albedo, land-use issues, etc. The issue of CO2 being a harmful greenhouse gas has been shoved down our throats so hard, that I can see why people get turned off by the debate. However, that is not the only greenhouse gas. Methane (CH4) is 21 times more potent than CO2, and the exponential melting of Permafrost in Siberia is a big contributor to current warming trends. Siberia’s mean regional temp has experienced the highest amount of warming over the last few decades, equating out to about 5 degrees C.

    So Ryan, the debate of Climate Change is over. However, what IS being debated is the debate between whether or not Climate Change is anthropogenic or not. Although it seems there are many naysayers out there, the actual scientific consensus is clear, and balances out to be about 98% – 2%.

    This next section may be helpful to some of you who get discouraged by the skeptics out there. Although I am now a civil engineer, I studied climate change closely for over 2 years during college. My professor specializes in Climate Change and was mentored by a world renown paleoclimatologist, Raymond Bradley. You can see his website here: http://www.geo.umass.edu/faculty/bradley/

    Anyway, a couple of months ago I was becoming a bit discouraged with online skeptics and naysayers, and I emailed my professor and asked him how he personally deals with the skeptics in his field. Since he devotes his life and work to this subject, I only assumed he had encountered the same thoughts.

    This was his response:

    well – here are a few thougts

    1) i never read the comments…i have no idea who these people are. that’s also why i never read or reply to blogs.

    2) the scientific consensus is clear – remember that boring IPCC report i made you all read…that’s the overwhelming scientific consensus (www.ipcc.ch) – everything else is just noise generated by stupid people or the oil lobby.

    3) yes, there are always a few books each year, and some papers published in sketchy journals, that claim to prove that anthropogenic climate change is fake. again, that’s perhaps 2% of all scientist, the overwhelming scientific majority is represented by the IPCC consensus.

    more philosophically – i’m not 100% sure – i can’t be, science does not deal with absolutes. here’s the way i look at it.

    a) so what if this global warming thing is exaggerated? at worst, we’ll have cleaner air, cleaner water, and a cleaner environment (i’m paraphrasing john mccain here) – and – all that without ruining the economy (probably even growing the economy).

    b) 50 years from now, your kids may say: “dad, you guys really screwed up on this global warming thing and freaked out too much about it – it wasn’t humans afterall”. fine, i can deal with that criticism.

    c) or, your kids may say: “dad, you guys trashed the planet, even though you had all the scientific data you needed to see what’s happening”. that’s a criticsm i can’t deal with.

    i’m afraid that much of this so-called sceptisism is a knee-jerk reaction by conservatives to the global warming hype created by al gore. take my father in-law for example. smart, educated, a total republican, and he hates al gore. thus, he can’t bring himself to see the bigger picture.

    thus – the real question is: how do we talk to people like him?

    in part, i think, we need to broaden the conversation beyond climate. “being green” means a lot more than just driving a hybrid…somehow “being green” is not cool these days – why is that? i have no idea.

    cb

  23. John Hollenberg says:

    Certainly looks like trolling from here. Make a controversial (and unsupportable) statement, then disappear. The dead give away is “Ryan from Cali”. No one who lives in California calls it “Cali”. I know–I live in California. Unless, of course, the writer is actually from Colombia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santiago_de_Cali

  24. Ryan from Cali says:

    Where’s Joe?

    Okay, to answer a few questions. First off, yes I am a farmer, but my aren’t we quick to judge? I have a masters degree in plant science. I do understand the science and still, as hard as it is for all of you to believe that people like me exist, we do.

    Let’s not go changing the bet now. The orginal offer was just as I stated and it is based on the sat temps.

    Again I ask. Where is Joe? Let’s bet.

  25. Ryan from Cali says:

    Oh man. I just read Scott’s reply directed to me. That was great Scott. Wow, I had no idea! I hadn’t even thought about all that. When I said that I had been following the science for years I never came across any of that! Thank you so much for enlightening me with your wisdom and for assuming that I was a dumbass.

    Now, if ANY of you would like to take my bet then let me know. Do you have other bets based on different criteria you would like me to consider? I would love to hear about them as well. The ball is now in your courts, it’s time to put up or shut up.

    I do live in California and I am a farmer. I am not a troll, just a citizen tired of the AGW theory and the very dangerous direction that it’s solutions will take us.

  26. john says:

    Robert:

    You state that everything we do is based on fossil fuel — not so; it’s based on energy, which we currently generate with fossil fuel and use extremely inefficiently.

    By becoming more efficient we could use less, and by using less we could more affordably switch to renewable sources — a switch we will have to make in any case in the not too distant future.

    Part of our messaging failure is also that we accept the “it’ll cost us dearly” meme.

    As Janet Yellin — former head of the council of economic advisers under Clinton — said, ” We can do this smart, or we can do it stupid.” She went on to say that if we do it smart in won’t cost us much,and it might even turn a little profit — but if we don’t do it, it’ll cost us a immeasurably.

    Mitigating climate change is probably the biggest bargain in human history — period. For a per cent or so of global economic growth — we avoid costs equal to a 20% cut in economic growth annually.

  27. Ryan from Cali says:

    Man you guys are suspicious. John says “nobody who lives in California calls it Cali”. Hmmm, well it certainly was easy to completely refute your first argument. I live in Bakesfield, California. Was born here, lived in Fresno for awhile and then moved back to Bakersfield. I farm in the Delano area. What would I need to do to prove to you that I live here?

    Is John representative of how you guys think? Making absolute statements that turn out to be completely wrong? So sure he is right, but so easily not right? Kind of like how quickly you “debunk” the other side of this AGW research? Is that it? Because that would sure shed a lot of light on my understanding of why people have fallen for this theory.

  28. John Hollenberg says:

    Ryan,

    Perhaps people here would take you more seriously if you came with specific questions, or outlined your reasons for not believing in global warming. Most of the participants here want data from published, peer-reviewed studies. If you aware of a body of such published literature, you can present it here. So far, your posts have been entirely fact-free.

  29. Dano says:

    This is the key to the Ryan-type ~12-15% minority of the population:

    [I’m] just a citizen tired of the AGW theory and the very dangerous direction that it’s solutions will take us.

    See?

    Tired of the theory.

    Doesn’t like the direction. Calls it ‘dangerous’.

    This is a fraction of the population who doesn’t want to hear that our actions have effects, and doesn’t want to hear about changing lifestyles. Too inconvenient for me, ya see. I don’t wanna change.

    Certainly they won’t change their minds on the science, and they won’t change their behavior voluntarily.

    This is the difficulty in crafting policy for everyone. Why? Not everyone is the same. Some must be dragged along or left behind.

    This is why I think pricing is important – for these people. They won’t change voluntarily, so a tax on carbon is appropriate to move this minority (and the others who are lazy, stuck in their ways, etc which may make a majority). There is no need to craft the perfect policy (a là the Two Who Can’t Be Named But Can Be Argued With on another thread).

    So thanks Ryan from SoCali, for enunciating your intransigence for discussion purposes.

    Best,

    D

  30. David B. Benson says:

    Ryan from Cali — Done your reading assignment yet? :-)

    john — I fear the cost is much larger, about 2% of the world’s gross product.

  31. Ryan from Cali says:

    Can’t you appreciate that I am tired of debating the issue? I was tired of debating the issue two years ago! Why do you have to debate me before you bet me?

    It’s simple guys. If you believe in it so much then bet me. It’s not hard to understand. The fact that nobody has stepped up to the plate tells me that you enjoy debating the theory, but deep down inside maybe some of you aren’t sure?

    I ask you to bet and your response is present my argument ? You know my argument and what does that have to do with betting me anyway? The point of the bet is to say enough is enough, let’s put something more on it than hot air (no pun intended).

    Also, if you think it’s 12-15% of the population you are way off. I love how you guys are so convinced of the theory that you have taken the stance of it’s not worth even considering anymore. It comes off as condescending and if you are looking for the reason people don’t listen to you, that’s it right there. Still, you are flat out wrong and I am willing to bet LARGE sums of money against your beliefs.

    I don’t understand. If you believe at this level then why don’t any of you want to make easy money? This should be an easy decision for you. Come on! Make some easy money. Come up with a bet you can live with, but that is fair to both parties and make some money. We can figure out a way to have the bet notarized and held somewhere for the next ten years. That way we won’t have to put any money into it right now. In fact, my sister is a lawyer, I am sure she would help us out here.

  32. John Hollenberg says:

    Ryan, I don’t come to this web site to make money, I come to read about possible solutions to global warming. I make plenty of money in my day job. Winning money from you won’t help the situation. My focus is on discussing these issues with family and friends, pointing out ways they can help (while usually saving some money as well). For example, installing CFL, buying a new energy efficient refrigerator, etc.

    If you have a fixed belief that AGW is a hoax (which is apparently the case), there is no point in spending any time discussing “minor” issues like facts, scientific studies, etc. If your strongest argument is that you will bet money, you must have a pretty weak case to make. Again, fact free posts are not of interest to me, and I suspect the same is true for most of the readers here.

  33. Joe says:

    I have been focused on S&N and not reading this thread.

    I confess I don’t trust the folks who control the satellite data since have repeatedly misanylzed the data (see here). When independent scientists re-analyze the data, they find that it shows warming (see here). The problem of course is that satellites don’t measure temperature directly, and in particular they don’t look at the surface, which is where we all live.

    I confess also I’m a bit tired of making bets. I think I have three big ones out there. But it may be four.

    So I think for the sake of simplicity and relevance and trustworthiness, I’d like to stick to the surface temperature data for any big bets. That said, I’m game.

  34. Dano says:

    Ryan from SoCali:

    People live on the surface of the earth. They don’t live in dirigibles and airships 4-7 km above the surface. Sat temp measurements are not for measuring change on the surface, where people live.

    Therefore, I’ll pitch in for whatever the group sets up to bet you, provided we bet on a metric for where people live, as I doubt we’ll have technology to live above the surface in a decade.

    So. Surface temps. Next decade. Folks pitch in. I’m in.

    Best,

    D

  35. David B. Benson says:

    Dano & Joe — For some form of neutrality, I recommend basing the bet upon the HadCRUTv3 global surface temperature product.

  36. Dano says:

    We can do one, or a blend. It matters not David as long as the temps are where people live.

    Best,

    D

  37. David B. Benson says:

    Dano — Well, NCDC and HADCRU leave out the Artic Ocean; GISS extrapolates for this. But its not a big deal:

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2008/01/24/giss-ncdc-hadcru/

  38. Dano says:

    Let’s bet, brrrrave Ryan from SoCali!

    Hello?

    Hello?

    Best,

    D

  39. John Hollenberg says:

    Looks like Ryan disappeared… not a surprise.

  40. John Hollenberg says:

    Another troll bites the dust.

  41. Dano says:

    The key to pointing out trolls know nothing is not to fall for their distractions and hand-waving. Keep on task.

    Best,

    D

  42. shop says:

    There’s a fair chance of succeeding there, too. Going after coal now is much harder and less likely to succeed, especially if the cap-and-trade income isn’t returned to the middle-class taxpayers directly, because such AGW efforts will be painful and are up against the problems you see in the Launch letters and that this post discusses.