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Anti-science conservatives are stuck in denial but for climate science activists, the reverse is true

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"Anti-science conservatives are stuck in denial but for climate science activists, the reverse is true"

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The five stages of grief describes “a process by which people allegedly deal with grief and tragedy, especially when diagnosed with a terminal illness or catastrophic loss,” as Wikipedia puts it:

1. Denial
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance

l have been meaning to blog on this since I heard a very brilliant physicist, Saul Griffiths, use this piece of pop psychology to describe climate science activists (CSAs), and I realized that he had it backwards.

And the timing could not be better what with the staggering number of comments over the weekend from the WattsUpWithThat crowd.  I let the overwhelming majority of those comments through because every several months progressives and CSAs should see what anti-climate-science talking points are making the rounds.  [For the last go round, see "The deniers are winning, especially with the GOP" with 537 comments.]

But first, let me explain why I am still using the word “denier” here, although many deniers don’t like the implication — which I am certainly not making — that they are anything like Holocaust deniers.  I have blogged many times on the quest for a better term (for a long discussion see Media enable denier spin 3: PLEASE stop calling them “skeptics”).

I suspect future generations will call them “climate destroyers” or worse “” since if we actually (continue to) listen to them, that pretty much ensures warming of 5°C or more this century, 850 to 1000 ppm concentrations, and centuries of what had been purely preventable misery (for the recent scientific literature and analysis of the multiple catastrophic consequences humanity faces on the business-as-usual emissions path, see “An introduction to global warming impacts: Hell and High Water“).  But what should we call these people in the meantime, while we still have time to ignore them and save the climate?

As an important aside, I very much draw a distinction between the deniers — the professionals (like Watts, Morano, and Will) who spread disinformation for a living and/or full-time — and the much larger number of people who have been misled by them into repeating their disinformation.  It’s much harder to know what term to use for the misled than it is for the misleaders.  Let’s call them delayers, for now, since that is their primary impact.

Let’s first note that neither the deniers nor the delayers are skeptics, the term they (and the media) like to use.

THEY AREN’T SKEPTICAL “” THEIR MINDS ARE MADE UP

The traditional or mainstream media still call them “skeptics,” as in this NYT headline. As long as they do so they trivialize the problem and render the word “skeptic” devoid of meaning.

All scientists are skeptics. Hence 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.” Indeed, as Wikipedia explains in its entry on “Skepticism“:

A scientific (or empirical) skeptic is one who questions the reliability of certain kinds of claims by subjecting them to a systematic investigation. The scientific method details the specific process by which this investigation of reality is conducted. Considering the rigor of the scientific method, science itself may simply be thought of as an organized form of skepticism. This does not mean that the scientific skeptic is necessarily a scientist who conducts live experiments (though this may be the case), but that the skeptic generally accepts claims that are in his/her view likely to be true based on testable hypotheses and critical thinking.

Skeptics can be convinced by the facts, but not the deniers and delayers. Skeptics (and real scientists) do not continue repeating arguments that have been discredited. Deniers and delayers do.

What are these long debunked arguments and talking points that deniers keep pushing?  You can find a constantly updated list — with debunking — at the excellent website Skeptical Science.  Many science blogs, including CP and RealClimate, take them on regularly as a quick search would reveal.

As an aside, while I have temporarily relaxed my comments policy this weekend, CP in general does not allow people to post long-debunked denier talking points as I have said many times.  Why?  Either I have to waste time debunking them for the umpteenth time (and deniers are never satisfied with a couple of sentences and a link) — thus allowing deniers to achieve one of their goals which is to waste everyone else’s time — or I ignore it, in which case a first-time visitor stumbling over a post might think that the disinformation had some validity because it wasn’t debunked.  That is a no-win situation that even Capt. Kirk or Mr. Spock in the latest Star Trek movie — which, by the way, is quite terrific (saw it last night finally) — would have trouble dealing with.

As I explained in my post, “Diagnosing a victim of anti-science syndrome (ASS),” you can generally tell a denier or delayer by repeated use of the following phrases, which are connected to the long-debunked talking points:

  • Medieval Warm Period
  • Hockey Stick
  • Michael Mann
  • The climate is always changing
  • Alarmist
  • Hoax
  • Temperature rises precede rises in carbon dioxide
  • Pacific Decadal Oscillation
  • Water vapor
  • Sunspots
  • Cosmic rays
  • Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark
  • Ice Age was predicted in the 1970s
  • Global cooling

Individually, some of these words and phrases are quite useful and indeed are commonly used by both scientists and non-scientists who are not anti-science.  But when used by people claiming to be “skeptics” — especially in combination with the name “Al Gore” — you know you have a denier on your hands.

My personal experience is that no amount of scientific evidence can convince the well-known “skeptics.” I have debated Lomborg and he is very well versed in the science “” he just chooses not to believe most of it. Indeed, if the overwhelming evidence of the last five years — if the analyses and warnings from a growing number of uncharacteristically blunt scientists — doesn’t convince someone of the dire nature of the situation, then they simply aren’t open to scientific reasoning, the basis of true skepticism.

The media “” and everyone else “” should stop using the term. It makes a mockery of the English language, it is an insult to real scientific skeptics, and it feeds the overall disinformation effort that makes humanity’s self-destruction more likely.

The deniers and delayers, as CP uses the terms, are those who aggressively embrace one or both parts of a two-fold strategy. First, they deny the strong and growing scientific understanding that the climate change we are witnessing is primarily human-caused, that the human component of the climate forcing will increasingly dominate the climate system, and that we face multiple catastrophic impacts if we don’t reverse greenhouse gas emissions trends sharply and soon.  Second, they work to delay this country from taking any serious action beyond perhaps investing in new technology (although even that is mostly lip service since the overwhelming majority of deniers and delayers are conservatives and libertarians who oppose all serious efforts to accelerate the development and deployment of low carbon technologies).

Such is the road to ruin. Those who advance such a view, including Anthony Watts of WattsUpWithThat, deserve a strong label. No doubt many delayers (and even a few deniers) are sincere in their beliefs, but many are not. Sincere or insincere, they spread misinformation or disinformation that threatens the well-being of the next fifty generations of Americans, indeed of all humans. Deniers like Watts are also not content merely to dispute the work of climate scientists–they are actively engaged in smearing the reputation of those scientists.  Such folks deserve the very strongest of labels.

That said, the term “delayer” is more accurate, I think, since so many deniers now realize how untenable their position is.  As result many don’t fully deny that the climate is changing and that humans are contributing, they just say the whole thing is very overblown and who knows what the perfect climate is and the actual climate sensitivity is an order of magnitude smaller than all the science (including the paleoclimate science) says, so let’s just wait and see … blah, blah, blah.  So I will still try to use the term delayer here, mostly for the misled.

But “delayer” never caught on, or any of the other narrower terms, like “disinformer,” that I sometimes use at CP for the people who make it their full-time job to spread disinformation.  So if for no reason than for clarity’s sake — as well as for the sake of people doing web searches — we seem to be stuck with denier for general usage.

I understand that some of the deniers take offense at the apparent implication that they are like Holocaust deniers.  I am not trying to make that connection — since climate science deniers are nothing like Holocaust deniers.  Holocaust deniers are denying an established fact from the past.  If the media or politicians or the public took them at all seriously, I suppose it might increase the chances of a future Holocaust. But, in fact, they are very marginalized, and are inevitably attacked and criticized widely whenever they try to spread their disinformation, so they have no significant impact on society.

The climate science deniers, however, are very different and far more worrisome. They are not marginalized, but rather very well-funded and treated quite seriously by the status quo media.  They are trying to persuade people not to take action on a problem that has not yet become catastrophic, but which will certainly do so if we listen to them and delay acting much longer.

THIS IS ABOUT DENIAL

And fundamentally this is about denial — denial of climate science.  The clearest evidence is that a great many climate science deniers accept the science of evolution, such as Charles Krauthammer — who wrote in “”Phony Theory, False Conflict,” that “Intelligent design may be interesting as theology, but as science it is a fraud. It is a self-enclosed, tautological “theory” whose only holding is that when there are gaps in some area of scientific knowledge “” in this case, evolution “” they are to be filled by God.”  And yet he is a hard-core climate science denier (see, for instance, Krauthammer’s strange denier talk points, Part 1: Newton’s laws were “overthrown”).  Similarly, another hard core climate science denier, George Will, also believes in evolution — he actually called it “a fact.”

But that raises the obvious question.  Why do so many apparently intelligent conservatives and libertarians — ones who accept the science of evolution, ones who take medicines prescribed by doctors based on the scientific method, ones who rely on science and technology every day, indeed, every minute — why do they deny climate science?

My book discusses this general question at length, and offers the answer (see here):

The answer is that ideology trumps rationality. Most conservatives cannot abide the solution to global warming-strong government regulations and a government-led effort to accelerate clean energy technologies into the market. According to the late Jude Wanniski, Elizabeth Kolbert’s New Yorker articles [on global warming], did nothing more “than write a long editorial on behalf of government intervention to stamp out carbon dioxide.” His villain is not global warming, but is the threat to Americans from government itself.

George Will’s review of Michael Crichton’s State of Fear says: “Crichton’s subject is today’s fear that global warming will cause catastrophic climate change, a belief now so conventional that it seems to require no supporting data”¦. Various factions have interests-monetary, political, even emotional-in cultivating fears. The fears invariably seem to require more government subservience to environmentalists and more government supervision of our lives.”

As the NYT‘s Andy Revkin explained about the recent skeptic denier conference in New York,

The one thing all the attendees seem to share is a deep dislike for mandatory restrictions on greenhouse gases.

What unites these people is their desire to delay or stop action to cut GHGs, not any one particular view on the climate.

It is nearly impossible to win an argument with a conservative or libertarian who hates government-led action. Yes, you can try to point out all the great things the government has done (the Internet, anyone?) and try to point out that they invariably support government-led action for military security, and, of course, government subsidies and regulations to promote energy security, at least as it applies to oil industry and nuclear energy pork.

I have a different argument “” if you hate government intrusion into people’s lives, you’d better stop catastrophic global warming, because nothing drives a country more towards activist government than scarcity and depravation.  The catastrophic impacts the country faces on our current emissions path by 2100 — 10 to 15° F warming over much of the inland U.S., 4 to 6 feet of sea level rise, and 1 to 2 inches a year after that, a Dust Bowl over much of the area from Kansas and Oklahoma to California, and hot, acidic ocean deadzones — will lead to far more government intervention in the lives of Americans than preventing those catastrophes ever would.

But most conservatives and libertarians can’t hear that argument.  Again, they can’t stand the cure — a government led effort to sharply sharply increase the use of clean energy and sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions — so they deny the diagnosis.

And so, for better or worse, the word “deniers” stays with us.  As I’ve said, I will try to reserve that term for the professional disinformers and their work.  And I’ll try to remember to use the term delayers for those who have been misled.

THE FIVE STAGES IN REVERSE

And now let me end with what I promised — the five stages of grief in reverse.

Climate science activists begin with accepting the science.  What else can one do?  Science is the reason so many of us survived childbirth and childhood, science has fed the world, science is the reason computers and the blogosphere exist at all.  And yes, science gave us our fossil-fueled wealth.  I’m a scientist by training, but I just don’t see anyone can pick and choose what science you’re going to believe and what not.  The scientific method may not be always be perfect in single studies — since it is used by imperfect humans — but it is the best thing we have for objectively determining what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen.  It is testable and self-correcting, unlike all other approaches.

Once CSAs accept the science, many quite naturally get depressed — see “Dealing with climate trauma and global warming burnout.”  The situation is beyond dire, and we aren’t doing bloody much about it, in large part because of the successful efforts of the deniers and delayers.  Climate science offers a very grim prognosis if we stay anywhere near our current emissions path.

After depression, comes a serious effort at bargaining:  CSAs try to figure out what they can do to stop the catastrophe.  Taking actions and making bargains at a personal level and a political level — depending on their level of activism.

Then comes anger. Once you’ve been at this for a while, you get very very frustrated by how little is happening — by the status quo media, the many anti-science politicians, and especially the deniers, the professional disinformers.

Finally, you end up in a kind of denial. It just becomes impossible to believe that the human race is going to be so stupid.  Indeed, my rational side finds it hard to believe that we’re going to avoid catastrophic global warming, as any regular CP reader knows.  But my heart, in denial, is certain that we will — see “How the world can (and will) stabilize at 350 to 450 ppm: The full global warming solution (updated).”  The great New Yorker write Elizabeth Kolbert perhaps best summed up this form of denial.  Her three-part series, “The Climate of Man,” which became the terrific book, Field Notes from a Catastrophe, famously ends:

It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing.

It is impossible to believe.  I myself can’t believe it.

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92 Responses to Anti-science conservatives are stuck in denial but for climate science activists, the reverse is true

  1. MikeN says:

    >Climate science activists begin with accepting the science. What else can one do?

    How about not letting models get ahead of observations. The direct effect of CO2 going to 1000 ppm is about 2.5C of warming. To get from that to 5, you have to add in many positive feedbacks. I suspect the reality is a negative feedback, as with so mch else in nature.

    [JR: This comment has not scientific validity to it. And we need not rely on what you "suspect" when we have a vast body of literature, including the paleoclimate record. There are no apparent short-term or even medium-term negative feedbacks known to outweigh any of a dozen of the well established positive feedbacks (see Study: Water-vapor feedback is “strong and positive,” so we face “warming of several degrees Celsius”).]

  2. Dean says:

    I would forget the term delayers. Call them the gullible deniers, as opposed to the professionals.

    Glad to hear that letting all the deniers in was a rare one-time thing.

  3. Dave Romm says:

    FWIW, I’m starting to use the term “suicidal morons” to describe those who are trying to get us all killed by their arrogant posturing. That probably won’t help convince them, but too many are just lost as it is.

  4. ecostew says:

    Joe – it might be appropriate to not use “skeptic” any more on your site. The “skeptics” are not grounded in peer-reviewed science – just grounded in denial and, unfortunately short-term fossil fuel greed.

  5. Robert Brulle says:

    Joe:

    It seems we need to make a sophisticated analysis of the climate science discourse. First, there are those of us who believe science – that global warming is real, serious, and we need to act NOW (or really yesterday).

    You then have an interesting crowd of folks who, while accepting global warming, minimize its effects. These are the MINIMIZERS. It is seen as not all that serious, that there are lots of ways we can mitigate this issue, there are a lot more serious issues (like aids, starvation, etc.) that we should deal with instead (as if we can’t do more than one thing at a time.)

    There are then the HAPPY FACE TECHNOFIX approach. They accept global warming, but maintain that we don’t need to make any real changes – just let economic growth take care of global warming. Regulations and cap and trade are seen as unnecessary.

    Then there are the outright DENIERS – these neanderthals deny basic scientific facts in an attempt to recreate their own fiction.

    So which is the most dangerous? I would say the minimizers and happy face technofix approaches are. They seem reasonable and more enlightened than the deniers. But the practical effect is the same – no action!

    Like you, I cannot believe that we are so stupid that we will run the planet completely into the ground. But as I have studied the long term behavioral lags, institutional rigidity, and the ever accelerating pace of climate change, I have become less and less optimistic.

    My question – is it too late? The decrease in the ability of the oceans to absorb CO2, the transformation of the rainforests from sinks of CO2 to sources, and the truly alarming impacts of an ice free arctic and the melting of the permafrost all combine to make it very difficult for me to see how we are going to be able to get control of global warming at all.

    I’ve had several leading scientists admit this to me in private. They say, like you, that we are on our way to climate hell of 1000 ppm by 2100.

    Please convince me that I am wrong. It would benefit my psyche greatly.

    Bob Brulle

    [JR: Obviously, if one had to bet -- and if one were going to live that long -- then it would certainly be on >800 ppm CO2-eq by 2100, which is certainly unimaginable misery for centuries.

    But it certainly isn't too late in the strictest sense of that word -- only in the sense of the psychological and political realism that you and many others internalize (and occasionally externalize). The world could, if it so choose, eliminate virtually all of its carbon emissions in two decades -- possibly even one -- and then go negative. But that would require a WWII-scale and WWII-style effort that the minimizers, happy facers, and deniers simply won't currently permit. So the key now is to put ourselves in a position so that if enough near-term global warming Pearl Harbors occur to create that possibility, we are ready. I will probably lay this scenario out in more detail in a future post.

    It is fundamentally why Waxman-Markey is worth supporting, as lame as it is. It still keeps open the 350 to 450 ppm scenario, at least as I envisage it.

    I wouldn't underestimate the importance of the deniers in giving everyone else space to essentially live with the status quo. And perhaps more importantly, if one political party was not dominated by deniers, but instead showed genuine statesmanship, then we could conceive of this nation doing what is necessary now.]

  6. ecostew says:

    If we don’t act quickly, based on peer-reviewed climate science (including IPCC, which underestimates intensifying AGW) – we “humanity” are faced with an ugly/very ugly future. It’s not just AGW it also includes ocean acidification. Our energy security is at risk as we imperil “Our Earth.”

  7. Gail says:

    I haven’t had time to even read this whole post but I’m looking forward to it when the evening quiets down. Thanks Joe R for taking Sunday time to pay attention to us commenters and loyal followers with our opinionated quirks.

    I have to get back to frying crab cakes for hungry hoards (yum!) but I just want to leave a quick note – please, is there some way you can task some minion (surely you have a few) to adjust this blog so that we can check for most recent comments? Maybe it’s just me, but I have to scroll down all 300+ to find the latest, on multiple threads, it’s really time consuming. And things get lost.

    Also some sites give you the ability to click on a commenter’s moniker and see all their previous comments. This is a good way to understand where they are coming from because sometimes sarcasm or snark or just a joke gets interpreted by readers as serious and that confuses the discussion and makes for frivolous consternation.

    And I don’t hold it against you that you snipped one of my comments and obliterated another in its entirety, even though you haven’t apologized, because LOVE MEANS NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOU’RE SORRY.

    from a fan!

    [JR: Darn! Was hoping you wouldn't notice. Sorry, you were collateral damage.

    But yes, just like me, all of my regular commenters need to think when they write something here, and how one of the sentences were phrases would look taken out of context. That is life on the blogosphere.]

  8. James says:

    I very much like how the argument about greater government intervention caused by a climate disaster turns the libertarian argument on its head.

    But I never quite understood climate scientists’ assumption that being right is sufficient for shaping public opinion and thus policy. In fact, it’s only *necessary*. From the successes of Galileo and Darwin to the initial failures of Mendel and Wegener, the history of science shows that just having the truth on one’s side can’t change public opinion by itself. What is also necessary to convince others through the supremely non-rational art of marketing and political maneuvering.

    Long ago, Darwinists realized that no amount of evidence would *ever* convince certain opponents – so such people should simply be ignored or sidelined. T.H. Huxley himself said this (wish I could remember where), ensuring that his Darwinist allies were placed in powerful scientific positions, while simultaneously marginalizing his opponents. Although a little Machiavellian, Huxley’s work didn’t invalidate the truth of Darwinism – he just recognized that *having a true scientific theory* wasn’t always enough for many to believe it. The same is true for climate science today.

    Blogs like this one are one hopeful sign that climate scientists are now gradually realizing this. But you’re wasting your time on little fish like Watts.

    To this end, I suggest you split up this blog into two – on one side, delegate a junior staffer to go relentlessly after denier wingnuts (analogous to mediamatters.org)’ while on your side, you propose individual or collective options that can actually be done *in the real world*. I politely suggest that although you and your group now have power, you’re still remaining in the earlier ‘oppositional’ mentality that reigned 2000-2008 among climate scientists. Any ignoramus denier can set up a blog, raising points that an undergrad could easily swat away. Such work can be repetitive and thus delegated.

    In other words why on earth should you, an MIT, PhD physicist and policy veteran, waste your valuable time on delayers/deniers like Watts or bemoan the larger phenomenon of denialism, when you yourself could be proposing positive, simple actions that could be undertaken by a single person or small group willing to do their part?

    The proposals about turning all roofs into cool roofs, for instance, has enormous potential – they’ve inspired me enough that I’m almost ready to get a can of white paint (or vinyl equivalent) and a ladder. To the layperson like me it’s immediately gratifying. It’s graspable. It’s doable. So I’d love you to tell us more about it and what could be done…and most importantly, tell me: how can a large group of people be convinced to actually *bring this change about*?

    [JR: Thanks. I blog a lot about solutions. But messaging is important, too. This isn't the blog for proposing individual action, though. And in 3,000 posts, maybe a half dozen are about Watts. Don't worry -- this weekend is an exception. Start with the Intro posts on the right hand column and see what I mostly focus on.]

  9. Doug Gibson says:

    If it were up to me to choose a term to replace both “deniers” and “skeptics,” I would vote for “denialists,” and call their strategy “denialism.”

    In modern usage, the -ist suffix is commonly applied to those who adopt particular ideologies (communist, monetarist, feminist, fundamentalist), and -ism is also often used derogatorily to suggest a position reached by carrying a particular approach too far, or in the pursuit of some other aim that observers find suspect (scientism, militarism).

    So a denialist is simultaneously one who 1) has adopted an ideology of denial that they are wedded to emotionally, 2) takes skepticism to ridiculous and suspect extremes, and 3) uses denial as a tool to further unrelated ends.

    That “denialists” rhymes with “the nihilists” is just a bonus.

  10. Gail says:

    James, I would like to see small communities band together to survive in an ecologically sustainable way. If anyone knows of a good website or organization to begin that kind of solution, I would really like to know about it.

    I went grocery shopping earlier today and cherries were TEN DOLLARS a pound.

    When people start to understand that food is going to become scarce and hideously expensive, all hell could break loose.

    We must start to develop cooperative networks or things could get really ugly, I fear.

  11. James Allison says:

    Dear Joe Romm

    Anyone who questions that climate science is settled couldn’t care a toss what label you stick on them. That you wrote nearly 3000 words on a science blog unsuccessfully attempting to invent an appropriate label says it all about you.

    Regards

    JA

    [JR: First, people who comment here -- or blog elsewhere -- say they do care what they get called. So you are just wrong about that.

    Second, the science isn't "settled" -- it's horrifically unsettling. But the key point is that failure to sharply reverse emissions ASAP all but settles the science -- when you get to 800 to 1000 ppm, whether the sensitivity is 3 degrees or 4 is kinda moot.

    Thanks for counting the words, btw. It was 2675, and, I must admit, only about 1,000 were "new." The rest was pieces of earlier posts.]

  12. dhogaza says:

    Anyone who questions that climate science is settled couldn’t care a toss what label you stick on them.

    Demonstrably not true. Anthony Watts cares a toss:

    Given the personal attacks you have made about me and others over at Climate Progress, and your apparent endorsement of comments advocating violence as well as the term “denier” in the offensive context of “holocaust denier”, after 66 comments over several weeks, your commentary as “dhogaza” is no longer welcome here.

  13. gmo says:

    When in debunking mode I throw around “skeptnialist” because it does not matter to me if one pushing faulty ideas is genuinely skeptical through confusion and lack of understanding & information or if they are the more professional denier as described above. Their wrong information just needs correction. I know such a clunky made-up term will never catch on though!

    It is not really possible of course to use one term as a blanket over everyone. There seems to be rather rich veins of anti-intellectualism, anti-elitism, and contrarianism. But I think it is right on that a great number are driven by overarching mistrust, fear, and even hatred of government. Fear of regulation, taxes, socialism, etc drives many. Those compelled to still actually act like they look at it scientifically then gravitate to those few threads they think can support their case. They conveniently ignore internal inconsistencies and contradictions in typically blind support of whatever they think is “anti-AGW”.

    I will readily admit that a number who do “get it” similarly gravitate toward that thinking for opposite reasons. Many have strong concern for the environment and thus are more compelled to support the “pro-AGW” stance. Not optimal, but people right partially for the wrong reason tend to be of much less concern, especially as they are also generally welcoming the mountain of “pro-AGW” science. But some people definitely seem to see global warming too directly in too much.

    I think it is just generally hard for people to grasp that the anthropogenic loading of the dice can be quite devastating over the long run even though it is mostly unnoticeable on the human perception (weather) timescale. Some people over-believe to the point of seeing global warming in nearly every heat wave or hurricane while others disbelieve to the point that if they do not wake up one morning to the Earth as a burnt ember then there is no threat in their minds.

    Along those lines, I do not have much faith in the near-term climate Pearl Harbors on which Joe posted. Like the frog in the slowly warming pot of water… If we could flip ahead 10 years and show warmer temperatures, much decreased Arctic sea ice and glaciers, increased methane, etc, then those may resonate with more people. But when the changes are so gradual and any deviation from the upward trend elicits claims the trend has stopped I think it is hard to illustrate to the wider public how bad it is getting and will get.

  14. I think that Al Gore summed up the stages that many ordinary people have gone through on global warming with his pithy statement, “Many people go from denial to despair about global warming without pausing in between”.

    The only quibble I have with this is that I think that more people start from ignorance than denial.

    I think the reason for starting from denial or ignorance about anthropogenic global warming is that many people work from the assumption that the world is so big that humans can’t possibly change it.

    Many people are not cognisant of the well-accepted human impacts on the atmosphere caused by manufactured ozone-depleting substances damaging the ozone layer.

    When ordinary people start to dig into the science of climate change or see a movie like An Inconvenient Truth, and listen in to the endless debate and delay from deniers, and then realise how difficult it will be to change how people around the globe produce energy, they move quickly from ignorance/denial of the problem to despair.

    Convincing these people that we can solve the problem is essential to motivating them to act. Climate Progress has a vitally important role in this task as one of (if not) the best sources of information of new technologies and critical discussion of climate policies.

  15. James Allison says:

    dhogaza Says:
    June 7th, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    My comment was addressed to Joe Romm not you.
    Are you his attack dog?

  16. Chris – moving to despair is also a defeat – and a victory for denialists because despair is passive and leaves us open to the argument “its too late to change, so why bother, lets stay comfortable”

    This is a monumental challenge for civilization.

  17. James Allison says:

    JR: — when you get to 800 to 1000 ppm, whether the sensitivity is 3 degrees or 4 is kinda moot.

    Not sure that the Dinosaurs would have thought all that lush vegetation kinda moot.

  18. paulm says:

    Great stuff Joe. Keep up the good work.

    BTW, there is a cascade of MSM coming round to recognizing and getting on with trying to combat this AGW…

    Business
    Crunch time for climate talks

    http://www.vancouversun.com/business/fp/Crunch+time+climate+talks/1669662/story.html

    As the second round of international climate change talks begin, there is growing concern that the task of setting new targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is simply too onerous

  19. hunter says:

    The Arctic is not following your lead. The ice is much greater than you thought. The apocalypse is still delayed.
    gmo,
    You are denying that skeptics can skeptical because the proof of AGW is less than robust. Instead you have to make up new dada-ist words to describe us.

    Richard Pauli,
    It is the AGW promoters who have said for years that in ‘X” number of years, it will be too late to do anything to avoid the climate apocalypse.
    I find it endlessly fascinating that AGW faith is so powerful that you cannot even deal with what Lovelock, Hansen, Gore, etc. etc. etc. actually say and call for. Skeptics are the ones pointing out that the end is not at hand.
    Good luck. This is a wonderful site.

  20. paulm says:

    UK met sticks its neck out and predicts weather 70yrs from now. Of course their going to get it wrong…its going to be way hotter than that, unless the Gulf Stream collapse.

    Britain to get 40C summers by 2080 because of climate change
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1191369/Britain-40C-summers-2080-climate-change.html

  21. dhogaza says:

    My comment was addressed to Joe Romm not you.
    Are you his attack dog?

    Nope. It’s open season on idiots.

  22. dhogaza says:

    Not sure that the Dinosaurs would have thought all that lush vegetation kinda moot.

    If our goal was to set the stage for some possible resurrection of dinos, that might make sense.

    While I admire your love of them, the fact is that I’m worried about humans, not dinos.

  23. dhogaza says:

    The Arctic is not following your lead. The ice is much greater than you thought.
    </blockquote
    No.

    It almost down to the record-setting 2007 level, and below the 2nd minimum 2008 a level.

    You’re being tricked by Goddard at WUWT, who posted today on the fact that April and May ice extent was in the range of the average, without bothering to point out the fact that in the last two weeks, the arctic icecap is melting extremely fast.

    That’s Goddard for you. In September, when the summer minimum proves to be far below average, he’ll still be belching “May! May! May!”

  24. James Allison says:

    dhogaza Says:
    June 7th, 2009 at 11:14 pm
    My comment was addressed to Joe Romm not you.
    Are you his attack dog?
    Nope. It’s open season on idiots.

    Its easy to see why you are banned from sensible blogs that wish to discuss and debate science. Even Joe Romm must be wondering about your worth to his blog’s reputation but perhaps desperation is clouding his judgement.

  25. dhogaza says:

    Its easy to see why you are banned from sensible blogs that wish to discuss and debate science.

    You made a claim. I proved you wrong, by quoting Anthony Watts, who runs that “sensible blog” that has banned you.

    You’re not fooling anyone. Run back to where Watts’ bannination button can save you from having your idiocy exposed in public.

  26. dhogaza says:

    Sigh…

    by quoting Anthony Watts, who runs that “sensible blog” that has banned you.

    That has banned *me*, of course.

    Fun, though, quoting Watts to prove this idiots stupid claim was false.

  27. Jim Pier says:

    If we are to posit that what the author of this blog and his fellow travelers actually want to accomplish is to convert as many current non-believers to their side as possible, it is mystifying that they would choose from among the many available strategies to descend to strictly ad hominem attacks on the opposition. I doubt one could find many who would expect that strategy to be effective. I for one am a “denier,” if such a label gives satisfaction; contrary to your allegations, I am very intelligent, educated, and open-minded. If I were to be directed to information that would overcome my skepticism – which is in fact what it is – I could be persuaded. I have not seen such convincing information. I have seen plenty of absolute crap purporting to be science. I have seen scary projections that fail to pass the test of reality. I have followed the gyrations of Al Gore and Jim Hansen – whether religious fanatics or shameless opportunists, I cannot say, but they are not honest or rigorous. I have read many a prescription for the saving of the planet, and I find most of them abhorrent, requiring worldwide dictatorship, and none remotely practicable. And I have consumed a great deal of information on both sides, including RealClimate for instance, and find the “deniers” case to be more rational and reasonable. No doubt you will conclude that the only way I could come to such a conclusion is because I am blinded by ideology. It is my considered opinion that it is the alarmists who are blinded, for whatever reason. If the “deniers’” position is irrational, how do you explain its many adherents, including many in the scientific community? Can you really believe they are all either sell-outs or right-wing nut jobs? If the science so clearly and unequivocally supports the catastrophic global warming view, why is that view losing ground? The truth is that it is not so clear. What is clear is that measures to effect even marginal reductions within a century would be draconian, and from what I have read and heard this is not disputed even by you alarmists. I counsel a more even-handed and level-headed approach to your advocacy. Unless of course it is not your objective to be effective so much as to be inflammatory and thus drive traffic to your blog.

    [JR: The view isn't losing ground with the public overall -- only with conservatives and conservative-leaning independents, who tragically believe the deniers.]

  28. caerbannog says:

    With regard to global-warming deniers, I’d like to point out that global-warming denial is one major Biblical prophesy that has actually come to pass: See Proverbs 26:11 for details…

  29. caerbannog says:


    If the science so clearly and unequivocally supports the catastrophic global warming view, why is that view losing ground?

    Because so many of those who fancy themselves as “very intelligent, educated, and open-minded”…. aren’t.

  30. caerbannog says:

    Here’s Jim Pier’s post above resubmitted with minor edits. Does this revised song-and-dance look painfully familiar?

    ———————————————————

    If we are to posit that what the author of this blog and his fellow travelers actually want to accomplish is to convert as many current non-believers to their side as possible, it is mystifying that they would choose from among the many available strategies to descend to strictly ad hominem attacks on the opposition. I doubt one could find many who would expect that strategy to be effective. I for one am a “creationist,” if such a label gives satisfaction; contrary to your allegations, I am very intelligent, educated, and open-minded. If I were to be directed to information that would overcome my skepticism – which is in fact what it is – I could be persuaded. I have not seen such convincing information. I have seen plenty of absolute crap purporting to be science. I have seen scary projections that fail to pass the test of reality. I have followed the gyrations of Stephen J. Gould and Richard Dawkins – whether religious fanatics or shameless opportunists, I cannot say, but they are not honest or rigorous. I have read many a prescription for the promotion of evolution, and I find most of them abhorrent, requiring worldwide dictatorship, and none remotely practicable. And I have consumed a great deal of information on both sides, including Panda’s Thumb for instance, and find the “creationists” case to be more rational and reasonable. No doubt you will conclude that the only way I could come to such a conclusion is because I am blinded by ideology. It is my considered opinion that it is the evolutionists who are blinded, for whatever reason. If the “creationists’” position is irrational, how do you explain its many adherents, including many in the scientific community? Can you really believe they are all either sell-outs or right-wing nut jobs? If the science so clearly and unequivocally supports the evolutionary view, why is that view losing ground? The truth is that it is not so clear. What is clear is that mutations required to effect even marginal amounts of macroevolution would be impossible, and from what I have read and heard this is not disputed even by you evolutionists. I counsel a more even-handed and level-headed approach to your advocacy. Unless of course it is not your objective to be effective so much as to be inflammatory and thus drive traffic to your blog.

  31. paulm says:

    Has anyone noticed that Globalization has peaked along side peak oil.

    One of Canada’s prominent Economist gives his view on things….(not) amazingly he does not mention climate change in any of his predictions. The guy has been pretty accurate before and now he predicts $200+ oil by 2012!

    I must agree as I see chaos unfolding around the precious resource and the price fluctuating as a consequence.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/ask-jeff-rubin/article1141087/

  32. paulm says:

    Wow, the guy is right already. With in hours of ask-Jeff-Rubin they about to decide to put a tax on shipping and flight! (Say good bye to your Australian wines).

    Bonn: Tax on rich nations’ ships and planes could fund climate aid

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jun/08/bonn-climate-talks-adaptation-funding

    A levy on rich nations’ international flights and shipping fuel could fund climate change adaptation in poorer countries under international global warming deal, conference hears

  33. Jim Pier says:

    paulm – they have been proclaiming “peak oil” since the 1970s, and they are no closer now to being correct than they were then. Proven reserves keep expanding. Maybe in another 100 years. As far as $200 oil, is that a big deal? Wasn’t it $160 already last year? Don’t hold your breath for the “chaos” you so gleefully anticipate. But you bring up the real solution to the whole carbon problem, and mirabile dictu! it is the free market! At some point, without state coercion, fossil fuels will become expensive enough, and non-fossil fuels inexpensive and practical enough, that the mix of energy sources gradually shifts away from fossil fuels. In the meantime, you guys should be pushing hard for nuclear.

  34. Jim Pier says:

    caerbannog Says:

    June 8th, 2009 at 12:52 am

    If the science so clearly and unequivocally supports the catastrophic global warming view, why is that view losing ground?

    Because so many of those who fancy themselves as “very intelligent, educated, and open-minded”…. aren’t.

    Clearly you are the specimen of informed intelligence, and thereby can declare yourself the expert on me. Thank you for keeping me ever so humble.

  35. paulm says:

    Anyone noticing that lawns are growing much faster these days?

    Hey Joe you’ll have to include this in your Climate Change cost analysis….

    Weeds damage homes as the climate warms
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jun/07/climate-change-weather-weeds

    Homeowners are facing large bills due to weeds damaging pipes and buildings as climate change produces an explosion in plant life.

    long periods of warm and wet weather combined with increasing volumes of detritus in gutters and drains is encouraging plants to grow out of control at a faster rate than ever before.

  36. paulm says:

    Jim WTH are you talking about? Your walking around with your eye wide shut.

    Oil peaked in 2005 mate. That is why we are in the middle of a Big Kahuna of a recession board-a-line depression.

    (BTW nuclear is dead)

  37. paulm says:

    “The mere act of declaring that some environmental change is due to AGW does not make it so.”

    Not unless you have some magical powers or you have a strong religious belief!

  38. hapa says:

    As far as $200 oil, is that a big deal? Wasn’t it $160 already last year?

    this is my favorite. doesn’t know the price, doesn’t know how scared skilled economists are of an encore, doesn’t care what quality of oil comes out of the ground or how much it cost to get it. it’s all “supply,” like a pair of shoes three sizes too small is a good fit.

    but a lot of other people who do know better are doing their daily routines and concentrating on their specialist jobs, if they have jobs, instead of pushing.

    is it because they don’t have a bright beautiful picture to work toward? or maybe they’re under too much pressure, and they’re sensibly waiting for the experts to test the other branches, so they don’t accidentally leap to one that can’t support the weight of their responsibilities, because who can you trust? obama, maybe. but, even so.

    or maybe they intuit that nature’s fine, never better, and the possibility of being laid off and losing their homes is a completely different case of awful bookkeeping.

    meanwhile, guard dogs bark when you approach, they keep their people safe.

  39. Lucy (3 months old) says:

    Just wish everyone would stop yakking and get on and do something about it.

  40. Johnnyb says:

    Perhaps instead of trying to psychoanalyze people, you should look at the validity of their case. Global warming is only a hypothesis and has not been validated, and I believe that future generations would thank past generations for raising the CO2 levels to 800-1000, because that would lead to the Greening of the Earth, causing increased food production, while making forests more productive. This effect would be free to all people of the world equally, and the greatest beneficiaries of a more carbon rich future would be the people who are currently the poorest today.

    Geologists confirm that in the past carbon levels were much higher than they are currently, and higher than we could ever hope to achieve. During this same time life on Earth thrived as is evidenced by the fossil beds which contain the largest land animals that have ever walked the Earth and enormous examples of flora.

    11 years have now past without any global warming, even though your same experts who are predicting future disaster also said that we would be in bad shape today. We are not in bad shape today, aside for the bad policy that is being created as a result of the climate warming fraud.

    By the way, the use of the term denier should send up red flags to any student of Holocaust revisionism or people who support the freedom of thought and freedom of speech, as currently Holocaust Revisionists are being jailed for practicing their constitutionally protected right. Half truths are more dangerous than deliberate lies, and most of the Holocaust Story like the Global Warming Story is mostly mythology with a little bit of truth mixed in. Like the Myth of the Holocaust was used to justify the American Empire and the dissolution of Nationalism, the Global Warming Mythology is going to result in a Global Government. Both the Holocaust and Global Warming are frauds used for propaganda purposes to justify predetermined Empiral Goals of the political elite. You people who promote such non-sense are either co-conspirators or stupid sheep who are willing to be herded according to you irrational fears for the benefit of wolves.

    [JR: !!!]

  41. Bullwinkle says:

    Deadenders

  42. Andy Olsen says:

    Well said, Joe! I’ve engaged many climate skeptics over the years. While they deserve the bare minimum of credit for budging off of their earlier position “global warming is not happening,” they still have a litany of other objections they grasp for regardless of the science.

    Well, one can be polite and go through their arguments. Once you have disproven each one, they will only return to the top of the list and start all over!!

    The fact is, these people are not arguing in good faith. They have already arrived at their conclusions, usually from a deeply ideological stance that would make a Politburo ideologue blush. They will not be moved by fact or logic and they are harsh in their attacks.

    They are climate deniers, plain and simple. They need to be marginalized, mocked and defeated.

  43. Andy Olsen says:

    Another question for the deniers to answer: How much proof would be enough for you?

    Bear in mind, we do not have a spare planet to run this experiment on. This is the only planet we have.

    Is there any point where you will stop denying? Or, will you keep throwing up your badly informed arguments until the waters rise? What would convince you?

  44. jorleh says:

    No use to change any words with these anti-science folks, sure. Like to use your time with any kind of religious fundamentalists.

    They must be named and cast aside, no time for further delay.

    Name them carbonazis. They deserve it.

  45. Mike M. says:

    How…convenient, shall we say, that a lunatic comes along and actually defends the real Holocaust. Johnnybstrawman is created just in time on the most extreme AGW blog in existence. Color us unconvinced that he is not one of your half dozen followers.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Apologies for the off-topic comment.

    Gail: to keep up with threads easily, click on the comment date and time below the poster’s name. Your browser will reload the page starting from that comment. Then bookmark it and use that bookmark when returning later to read the newer comments.

  47. Chris Winter says:

    Gail wrote (in part): “James, I would like to see small communities band together to survive in an ecologically sustainable way. If anyone knows of a good website or organization to begin that kind of solution, I would really like to know about it.”

    Have a look at these sites. I don’t endorse them (don’t know much about them), but they might be worthwhile.

    * Sustain Lane: http://www.sustainlane.com/

    * Climate Solutions (Seattle): http://climatesolutions.org/

  48. caerbannog says:


    Jim Pier Says:
    June 8th, 2009 at 1:41 am

    caerbannog Says:

    June 8th, 2009 at 12:52 am

    If the science so clearly and unequivocally supports the catastrophic global warming view, why is that view losing ground?

    How would you know that it’s losing ground? Have you talked to any scientists who are active researchers? Have you taken any college courses related to climate change? Attended any lectures? Have you stayed current with the research?

    Just up the road from me is the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Scripps scientists give at least one public lecture almost every month. I have attended several, and have talked to the scientists afterward. And among the Scripps researchers, the notion that there is a real potential for “catastrophic*” global warming is *not* losing ground. Scripps is one of the world’s leading climatology research centers; you’d be hard-pressed to find better, more accomplished climate-science researchers anywhere else in the world.

    (*”catastrophic” of course, is often employed as a “weasel word” by deniers. I am using it here to mean “having a real potential to disrupt the global economy, food production, etc.)

    In your mind, you are convinced that you know more than the world’s leading scientists. But the zero-content material you’ve posted here strongly suggests that you know *nothing*. You, sir, are nothing more than a Dunning-Kruger poster-child.

  49. Chris Winter says:

    Jim Pier wrote (in part): “It is my considered opinion that it is the alarmists who are blinded, for whatever reason. If the “deniers’” position is irrational, how do you explain its many adherents, including many in the scientific community? Can you really believe they are all either sell-outs or right-wing nut jobs? If the science so clearly and unequivocally supports the catastrophic global warming view, why is that view losing ground? The truth is that it is not so clear. What is clear is that measures to effect even marginal reductions within a century would be draconian, and from what I have read and heard this is not disputed even by you alarmists.”

    I don’t think many of us believe all those you call deniers are “sell-outs or right-wing nut jobs.” Many are merely unaware of the big picture. That picture includes melting glaciers, the upward trend of temperatures in the atmosphere and sea surface, the gradual but accelerating rise of sea level (from 1.8 to 3 mm per year), etc.

    Local changes can also be seen. But many of us do not live close to nature, and so those changes are not apparent. The media may cover them, but the media cover all kinds of scare stories. Their messages can be compared to the old story of the boy who cried “wolf.”

    What I’m getting at is, it takes some work to sort wheat from chaff and get at the facts. You sound like someone who’s not afraid to do that. So let me ask you, where did you get this idea that even marginal reductions in CO2, done over a century, would be “draconian”? I personally don’t think that’s the case. But it will be if we wait long enough to start those marginal reductions.

  50. ZS says:

    Mike M., JohnnyB is not “created” but is actually a big fan of Watts Up With That.

    Last night I started going through some of the comments on WUWT and I came across the following comment by johnnyb:

    “Wonder why all these clever computer modelers do not turn to something more profitable with all their talents? If I were a computer modeler, I think that I would try to create a computer model to predict the outcome of horse races. In fact, I tried that while I was in college. Teamed up with a few math majors, gleamed information from the Daily Racing form, developed spread sheets and mathematical formulas to discribe a horse’s performance. Ran statistical analysis to determine the best bet for payout allowance. We thought that we were real clever, real scientific like, after all we were using math and computers.

    Didn’t work out for us though. We had a good time at the track, drank cold beer and lost our money. So much for our computer model. Lesson Learned: Don’t bet big on computer models.”

    - johnnyb, June 7, Watt’s Up With That?

    That’s right, he thinks that computer models are useless because he tried to make one in college to predict horse racing outcome and it didn’t work. Also, he is a “Holocaust Revisionist”.

  51. Mark Shapiro says:

    Joe – “I very much draw a distinction between the deniers — the professionals (like Watts, Morano, and Will) who spread disinformation for a living and/or full-time — and the much larger number of people who have been misled by them into repeating their disinformation.”

    Thanks for identifying that critical distinction. Thanks again for observing that what powers the larger number of misled is fear of taxation and fear of government control.

    Ironically, it suggests that the term you seek to encompass denier, delayer, so-called skeptic might actually be “fear-monger”. The Morano, Will, Watts, Lomborg, Krauthammer pros are fomenting fear of government.

  52. MarkB says:

    Using the term “skeptics” to describe ideologues who ignore the preponderance of evidence in favor of irrational arguments that supports a political agenda is indeed insulting to the term. “Denier” in some respects is too tame, since it implies bias as opposed to flat-out dishonesty, yet it’s not a neutral term as far as the mainstream media is concerned. I personally think they should settle on “contrarian”, which simply notes they are taking a position against the scientific consensus without noting motivation. It’s all-encompassing in that sense.

    The list of contrarians buzzwords (i.e. “Hockey Stick”, etc.) can be expanded:

    “Holocaust denier” – used to demonize those who use the word “denier” as if they are comparing those who deny climate science denial with those who deny the Holocaust. In reality, it’s much more closely associated with those who deny evolution or tobacco’s link to health problems.

    Using “Hansen” and “Gore” in the same argument – as if the two are working and conspiring together

    “true believer”

    “AGW religion”

    One can also find dozens of irrational contrarian arguments (and their clear refutations) here:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/

    This is one reason why I’ve become a “true believer”, as I was once mostly agnostic on the issue. While the vast majority of scientists agree on the core issues of climate scientists, I didn’t immediately discount the views of contrarians without looking carefully at their arguments, and finding that they weren’t arguing with any substance or honesty. They tended to argue as lawyers seeking to back a weak case, and not as scientists. Their opposition to climate science has always seemed to be motivated by politics, not science.

  53. Daniel says:

    ZS, nevertheless, computer models are inherently based on human knowledge. If we knew everything there was to know about science (or at least everything there is to know related to climate change), we could generate a perfectly realistic model. As it is, we don’t. Some say CO2 has an impact, some say it doesn’t. Some say the earth is too big, some say we can actually put a total stop to the changing. And both sides have scientists with data supporting them. Whose model do you choose?

    I’m not denying the reality of climate change (or maybe I’m just in denial that I’m in denial). People are experiencing the effects even today (for more on that I point you to Newsy.com which just ran a video about that). I’m just saying we’re not yet at the point where we can actually guarantee a solution, whether that’s fining carbon emissions, taxing cows, or anything else. Not to say we should give up. The fight is just long from over.

  54. DavidCOG says:

    > Then comes anger

    Yeah, I’m kinda stuck there at the moment – anger and frustration that so many people can be intellectually dishonest and downright dumb.

    I’m convinced that more people are really starting to grasp what is happening – but only slowly understanding what that means to their own consumption patterns.

    At the same time, the Deniers are becoming more hysterical and unhinged as they become more marginalised. Johnnyb’s comment is a great example, fresh from the Infowars / Stormfront brand of thinking:

    > “…CO2 levels to 800-1000, … would lead to the Greening of the Earth, … the Holocaust Story like the Global Warming Story is mostly mythology … blah, blah, blah …for the benefit of wolves.”

    How do people get to be *that* unhinged?!

    Humanity has never had a scientific matter so closely tied to the well-being of every living thing on the Earth – and it’s exposing how primitive as a species we are. Blind entitlement, greed and fear of change is capable of taking precedence over science and reality in many people.

    Those of us who ‘get it’ need to keep pushing back against those who would have us living on a polluted cinder in place of this green planet, just so they can consume as much as possible right now.

  55. MarkB says:

    “That’s right, he thinks that computer models are useless because he tried to make one in college to predict horse racing outcome and it didn’t work. ”

    Textbook example of the Dunning Kruger Effect

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning-Kruger_effect

  56. ZS says:

    ZS, nevertheless, computer models are inherently based on human knowledge. If we knew everything there was to know about science (or at least everything there is to know related to climate change), we could generate a perfectly realistic model. As it is, we don’t. Some say CO2 has an impact, some say it doesn’t. Some say the earth is too big, some say we can actually put a total stop to the changing. And both sides have scientists with data supporting them. Whose model do you choose?

    I think I see where you’re coming from, but this series of statements doesn’t make sense unless you believe that a roughly equal amount of scientists support both “sides” of the “debate”. If 50% of climate scientists said that CO2 has no impact and/or the earth is so big that we can have no impact on slowing or stopping the warming, you might have a point. But that’s not the case. It’s not even close.

    On the validity of models, even when all inputs are not known with absolute certainty, consult virtually any text on dynamic modeling. Read Forrester. Pick up Dana Meadows’ Thinking in Systems, or the first few chapters Stokey & Zeckhauser’s A Primer for Policy Analysis.

    I’ll let Meadows explain (from Ch. 7 of Thinking in Systems):

    The goal of foreseeing the future exactly and preparing for it perfectly is unrealizable. The idea of making a complex system do just what you want it to do can be achieved only temporarily, at best. We can never fully understand our world, not in the the way our reductionist science has led us to expect. Our science itself, from quantum theory to the mathematics of chaos, leads us into irreducible uncertainty. For any objective other than the most trivial, we can’t optimize; we don’t even know what to optimize. We can’t keep track of everything. We can’t find a proper, sustainable relationship to nature, each other, or the institutions we create, if we try to do it from the role of omniscient conqueror.

    For those who stake their identity on the role of omniscient conqueror, the uncertainty exposed by systems thinking is hard to take. If you can’t understand, predict, and control, what is there to do?

    Systems thinking leads to another conclusion, however, waiting, shining, obvious, as soon as we stop being blinded by the illusion of control. It says that there is plenty to do, of a different sort of ‘doing’. The future can’t be predicted, but it can be envisioned and brought lovingly into being. Systems can’t be controlled, but they can be designed and redesigned. We can’t surge forward into certainty into a world of no surprises, but we can expect surprises and learn from them and even profit from them. We can’t impose our will on a system. We can listen to what the system tells us, and discover how its properties and our values can work together to bring forth something much better than could ever be produced by our will alone.”

    As Romm has pointed out over and over again, there is uncertainty on the end result of our current emissions path. For the vast majority of climate scientists, the debate revolves around whether or not our current emissions path will be merely awful or biblical in its devastation. Then there is a fringe group of scientists, rebutted and discredited ad nauseum, who argue that it’s no big deal, surrounded by a gang of supporters espousing conspiracy theories, ridiculous claims of government takeover, socialism, fascism, misguided ideas about global warming being a net benefit for agricultural production (hint: desertification, drought, severe weather events, erosion), highlighting snow in North Dakota as some sort of evidence of global cooling, or just concentrating on Al Gore. I know which “side” I find to be legitimate.

  57. MarkB says:

    Wow! I just read JohnnyB’s comment (7:42). He actually is disputing the Holocaust?! When I think of the term “global warming denier”, Holocaust has always been furthest from my mind. Evolution, denial of tobacco health effects, and other science issues are much closer analogies. “Holocaust denier” has been used by contrarians to demonize those who use the term “global warming denier” as if they are thinking specifically of the Holocaust when they use that term. Ironic that someone is actually denying the Holocaust and global warming in the same post.

  58. Dean says:

    Yeah, Joe let the Holocaust denier post in so that we could see where _some_ of them are coming from. Ideology is only one of the motivators for denialism, some of them are just conspiracy theory addicts. Others are addicted to a lifestyle that just isn’t going to last much longer.

    And I do think that while agreement with and understanding of AGW is gaining ground, AGW itself is gaining ground even faster. It’s a moving target and it’s moving faster than the action is.

    The issue with W-M is not so much the details of its current version, since it has a lot more sausage-making to pass through before anything gets to Obama’s desk. The issue is that this is what it looks like while passing through the most friendly committee it’s going to see in this whole process. At the moment, Obama’s energy policy is what we have for a climate policy in this country.

  59. Rick Covert says:

    Joe,

    I have a term that is neat and concise. Call the deniers rejectionists instead. It takes the sting of Holocaust denial out of it.

    JohnnyB,

    Perhaps you’re right about climate modelers. They should be putting that modeling to work cooking up new Ponzi schemes to replace all that subprime glop goodnes wrapped in securitized gold foil.

    Oh JohnnyB,

    One more thing. My next door neighbor, who I grew up next to when I was young in suburban New Jersey, survived the Holocaust so I find that extremely offensive. Why don’t you look this up, if you will, “Arbeit Macht Frei,” if you have any doubts.

  60. Krusty Krab says:

    THEY AREN’T SKEPTICAL — THEIR MINDS ARE MADE UP

    The exact same thing may be said of Joe Romm and his cheerleaders.

    Neither side is practicing science. Both are advocating positions based on policy changes they would like to see.

  61. dhogaza says:

    The exact same thing may be said of Joe Romm and his cheerleaders.

    Neither side is practicing science.

    Show us any science that disputes the fact that CO2 absorbs LW IR, therefore warming the atmosphere.

  62. paulm says:

    Krusty Krab the difference is his decision is based on science while yours is based on voodoo.

  63. Ric Merritt says:

    Transcription typo: “depravation” should be “deprivation”. Makes a half-decent Freudian slip that way, although if that were intended the word really should be “depravity”.

  64. Stuart says:

    Another excellent post Joe!

    I am glad I missed the invasion of the Wattles on here, I don’t think I could stomach that much concentrated ignorance. I vacillate between anger and despair, but sometimes think I should go back to school for my Masters and try to contribute my part to the constantly expanding evidence of our climate catastrophe.

    Anyway, keep up the good work!

  65. Rog Tallbloke says:

    “dhogaza Says:
    June 7th, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    You’re being tricked by Goddard at WUWT, who posted today on the fact that April and May ice extent was in the range of the average, without bothering to point out the fact that in the last two weeks, the arctic icecap is melting extremely fast.”

    Nansen’s TOPAZ prediction is for the melting rate to level out again by month end. Historically, the curves for each year bunch together about now. The cold weather further south we’ve seen recently indicates jet stream variability. NASA has had information about minimum ice extent reduction being due to changing wind patterns on it’s website for a long time now.

    We won’t have to wait too long before we know whether you are more poorly informed than Steven Goddard on this issue.

  66. DWalk says:

    “I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives L Tolstoy”

    Albert Einstein said “If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called
    research.”

    Nietzsche wrote: ” The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments.”

    “Men are apt to mistake the strength of their feeling for the strength of their argument. The heated mind resents the chill touch and relentless scrutiny of logic.” William E. Gladstone”

    Max Planck said: “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

    ‘I want my commenters to be uncivil. There is no virtue in politeness when confronted with ignorance, dishonesty, and delusion. I want them to charge in to the heart of the issue and shred the frauds, without hesitation and without faltering over manners. These demands for a false front of civility are one of the strategies used by charlatans who want to mask their lack of substance — oh, yes, it would be so goddamned rude to point out that a huckster is lying to you. I am quite happy that we have a culture of being rude to frauds here. – Professor PZ Myers, University of Minnesota Morris’

    Deniers — that really is the crux of the argument, is it not?

  67. I just do not understand what it is about Al Gore that drives these people nuts. Any negative comment I get about something I write, or say, on air about climate change, will inevitably mention him in the 1st or second sentence!

    Unlike you Joe, I enjoy the science FAR more than the politics ;)
    You are well versed in both!

    Can you explain it??

    dan

  68. SecularAnimist says:

    Joe wrote: “many deniers don’t like the implication — which I am certainly not making — that they are anything like Holocaust deniers”

    No, they are far worse than Holocaust deniers. The Holocaust happened. It’s in the past. Denying it won’t kill one additional person. But climate change is happening now, and denying it can delay action and kill hundreds of millions of people.

    Joe wrote: “I very much draw a distinction between the deniers — the professionals (like Watts, Morano, and Will) who spread disinformation for a living and/or full-time — and the much larger number of people who have been misled by them into repeating their disinformation.”

    That’s an important distinction.

    One the one hand are bought-and-paid-for liars who knowingly and deliberately lie — for money. And with them a handful of demented cranks who sincerely believe that they, and they alone, have discovered the simple and obvious reason that the whole of climate science is WRONG — a simple and obvious reason that has somehow escaped the attention of thousands of dedicated climate scientists who have diligently studied the issue for decades. So at the top of the Denial Pyramid, there are the Frauds and the Cranks.

    At the base of the Denial Pyramid is the legion of brainwashed, braid-dead Ditto-Heads who have been conditioned for decades by the corporate-sponsored, so-called “conservative” media to slavishly believe and obey whatever they are told is “conservative”, and to hate and oppose whatever they are told is “liberal”. And how do they know what is “conservative” and to be worshipped, and what is “liberal” and to be hated? Why, the corporations that fund phony “conservative” media will tell them, of course. Corporations like ExxonMobil. For the most part, these are the weak-minded, ignorant, mean-spirited zombies who obediently cut and paste the Received Wisdom of the Frauds and Cranks into the comments they post on blogs like this.

  69. dhogaza says:

    Nansen’s TOPAZ prediction is for the melting rate to level out again by month end.

    Yes, as happened in 2007, which went on to set the record for lowest extent. TOPAZ only goes out to June 11th, so their predicted short-term flattening says nothing at all about what will happen over the next three months.

    as shown here

    and here, though you’ll need to magnify the chart greatly to see it

    JAXA and NSIDC are using data from two separate satellites and two different sensor designs, yet track each other very closely (other than the bi-annual “bump” in JAXAs charts due to parameterization changes during the season when there’s water on the surface of much of the ice).

    NORDEN uses the same raw data as NSIDC, yet differs greatly this year from both JAXA and NSIDC (trend comparison to 2007 and 2009).

    Is there any reason why Goddard – and therefore you – prefers the outlier to the two that closely match using two different satellites and sensor designs (and processing algorithms)?

    Typically one would suspect the outlier of being incorrect, with the two that match being more likely to correct, unless you have some firm reason not to.

    So, what’s the reason?

  70. dhogaza says:

    Sorry above shouldn’t been NANSEN not NORDERN

    Nansen’s TOPAZ prediction is for the melting rate to level out again by month end.

    Given that the TOPAZ prediction only runs out to June 11th, how can you say this with confidence? They make no prediction whatsoever as to the month end melt rate.

  71. dhogaza says:

    The cold weather further south we’ve seen recently indicates jet stream variability. NASA has had information about minimum ice extent reduction being due to changing wind patterns on it’s website for a long time now.

    Changes in the configuration of the jet stream being one of the other predicted outcomes of AGW.

  72. dhogaza says:

    Here’s the NANSEN data graphed with trend

    Note that this spring’s deviation above the trend has been exceeded twice in the last thirty years and is not unusual nor unexpected, and in no way signals the “ice has recovered” crap being promoted by Goddard/Watts and that WUWT crew.

    On the other hand the deviation from trend for the 2007 and 2008 minima are both unprecedented in the available satellite record (OK, not really true for 2008 which after all followed 2007, but my meaning should be clear).

    Goddard’s selling you a bill of goods. The Brooklyn Bridge with neither bridge nor Brooklyn.

  73. dhogaza says:

    One last post, now I understand why Goddard likes the Nansen data:

    The average they show there is 1979-2007, therefore includes the declining minimum extents seen this decade.

    As you can see the 2009 ice extent as of today is outside the two standard deviations shaded gray area. Goddard’s post today seems to be taking the position that since April and May approached the 1979-2007 average, he can ignore the winter months (when it was below) and the accelerating melt in June.

    *along* with choosing Nansen and ignoring NSIDC/JAXA.

    This is a trifecta cherry pick.

  74. Patti says:

    Are you “believer’s” not DENYING that the science is not settled, and there might be more processes involved in the change our climate is experiencing? Climactic change which has been scientifically proven to shift dramatically from ice age and warm period throughout countless millenia?

  75. Gail says:

    Oh Patti, how dull.

    Do some reading. Try any of the posts here at Climate Progress. Or read Joe Romm’s book – or Fred Pearce’s “With Speed and Violence” which is a comprehensive compendium of past changes in climate, what caused them, and what is distinctly and uniquely different from them in the current (human-caused, extraordinarily rapid) shift.

    Either do your research or desist and decease.

    Any questions you have about the empirical evidence, the physics, and the political response to the science will be generously considered in the remarks here. But you’ve got to indicate some level of comprehension of the research that is readily available.

  76. If you enjoyed being a Holocaust inmate, you’re going to love global warming.

    GW deniers have a good reason for their denials: $100 Billion per year. That’s the coal industry cash flow inside the US.

    “War is good business. Invest your son.” Sound familiar? Will the majority ever get the message?

    Reference: “The sociopath next door : the ruthless versus the rest of us” by Martha Stout. New York : Broadway Books, 2005.
    Reference: “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely
    Reference: The new subject called “Sociobiology.”
    Reference: “The Vanishing Face of Gaia” by James Lovelock. James Lovelock has ideas that are unpopular among some scientists, but he is famous and among the smartest. There is no reason to suppose that the climate is linear just because the climate models are linear. It is the climate models that lack the non-linearities that nobody knows how to model. We definitely DO NOT have all the time most people think we have. Dr. Lovelock has identified a 9 degree lurch in the temperature that happens at 450 ppm equivalent. We are now at 430 ppm equivalent. It isn’t the temperature that kills. It is starvation caused by the fact that a fraction of a degree change can move the rain, causing agriculture to collapse suddenly. Agriculture has already collapsed in Australia.
    There are also lots of books on the subject of irrational beliefs of all kinds that I am not listing here.

    Misery for centuries: Not at all. We will be extinct, not miserable. With methane coming out of Tundra bogs that have thawed out and become unfreezable lakes, we won’t have to wait until 2100 either.

    Having to teach the same things over and over seems like a good reason to not be a teacher. I’m so tired of saying the same things over and over as well, including that the educational system should at least teach everybody what science is. I have tried to involve myself with the local school board to try to remedy this. Reference: “Science and Immortality” by Charles B. Paul 1980 University of California Press. In this book on the Elegies of the Paris Academy of Sciences (1699-1791) page 99 says: “Science is not so much a natural as a moral philosophy”. [That means drylabbing [fudging data] will get you fired.]
    Page 106 says: “Nature isn’t just the final authority, Nature is the Only authority.”
    Every grade of K-12 and at least the first 2 years of college should require laboratory courses and Charles B. Paul’s book should be quoted often.

    As they say, the day we named ourselves Homo “SAPIENS,” Hugh Bris was in town. As far as arguments about evolution are concerned, for example, I structure the situation so that I evade the argument part and tell the opponent to go read some book or other. When somebody asks: “Where is the missing link?” I say: “You’re looking at him, and so am I.” The really bad news is that if global warming makes us extinct, the scientists go extinct along with all the rest. That is the ultimate argument in favor of a self-sustaining colony of scientists on Mars. I see no other possible way for a truly sapient race to evolve. [Gail: Mars is the closest place that will allow survival in case of our extinction on Earth. The word "Extinct" means there is no place on this planet to survive.]

    The questions are begged: “Does this species really deserve to evade extinction?” and “Will a sapient species ever evolve in this universe, or are all candidates doomed to exterminate themselves by global warming?”

    My advice to Joe Romm is:
    1. Keep plugging away because if you give up, the denialists will declare victory.
    2. The answers are rooted in the evolution of the human mind. Study sociobiology, psychology and psychiatry in your “spare” time. There are people who are, for the first time in history, attempting to address this problem.
    3. Hope that some medium-sized climate catastrophe will convince a majority of voters before our extinction becomes inevitable.

    [paulm: Nuclear is alive and well if you want to survive. Nuclear is the only real competitor for coal. See:
    http://bravenewclimate.com/integral-fast-reactor-ifr-nuclear-power/ If you are against nuclear, you are working for the coal industry.]

  77. Woops! I forgot to mention: “The Republican War on Science” by Chris Mooney, 2005, Basic Books.

    It has the following URLs:
    http://www.waronscience.com/home.php
    http://www.chriscmooney.com/
    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05268/576883.stm

    See also:
    “Undermining Science, suppression and distortion in the Bush Administration” by Seth Shulman, 2006
    www,ropercenter.uconn.edu

    “The Republican War on Science” by Chris Mooney says:

    Because Trofim Lysenko convinced Josef Stalin that genetics is wrong, 12 million people died of starvation. The coal companies convinced President George W. Bush [and Senator Inohe] that global warming hasn’t happened and 12 hundred people died in hurricanes in 2005. For the same reason, people died in the wildfires in Oklahoma. 12 hundred is less than 12 million, but GWB is still comparable to Stalin. Both adopted anti-science policies for ideological reasons and thereby murdered large numbers of their own citizens.

  78. Rog Tallbloke says:

    dhogaza Says:
    June 8th, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Me: The cold weather further south we’ve seen recently indicates jet stream variability. NASA has had information about minimum ice extent reduction being due to changing wind patterns on it’s website for a long time now.

    “Changes in the configuration of the jet stream being one of the other predicted outcomes of AGW.”

    Puhlease. The Jet stream’s pathways meander around with changing heat distributions in the multidecadal oceanic oscillations and would continue to do so even if co2 levels were static.

    “ice extent as of today is outside the two standard deviations shaded gray area.”

    Just to be clear, that’s one SD above the mean and one SD below.

    “Is there any reason why Goddard – and therefore you – prefers the outlier”

    I see you’ve corrected this fallacy for yourself, so no need to reply.

    “Goddard’s post today seems to be taking the position that since April and May approached the 1979-2007 average, he can ignore the winter months (when it was below) and the accelerating melt in June.”

    I think that given the sensor difficulties through the last six months we should not be drawing any hasty conclusions. Let’s wait and see what the minimum extent is in a few months time. What is clear is that it’s been a cold winter in the northern hemisphere (and the ski season has started 5 weeks early in NZ too). The Sudden stratospheric warming event in January split the northern arctic atmospheric circulation in two and reversed it’s direction for a time. This makes the unusual deflection of colder airsteams to the south unsurprising, and accounts both for the June snow experienced around the world, and the warmer arctic conditions at the moment. As the reverberation of these atmospheric circulations die down and things get back to ‘normal’, we will see what shakes out in terms of ice extent. Hudson bay is still frozen over, in mid June.

  79. Rog Tallbloke says:

    Gail Says:
    June 8th, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    “Either do your research or desist and decease.”

    Lol.
    Joe! She’s at it again!

  80. dhogaza says:

    “Changes in the configuration of the jet stream being one of the other predicted outcomes of AGW.”

    Puhlease. The Jet stream’s pathways meander around with changing heat distributions in the multidecadal oceanic oscillations and would continue to do so even if co2 levels were static.

    Hey dumb-dumb … pointing out that changes in the configuration of the jet stream is one of the other predicted outcomes of AGW is NOT saying THE ONLY SOURCE OF VARIABILITY IN THE JETSTREAM.

    The Jet stream’s pathways meander around with changing heat distributions

    And you believe that changing heat distributions due to AGW won’t do the same thing?

    Tell me, how does the jet stream differentiate between different distributions of heat from different causes. Does the heat come with little labels, one saying “I’m from AGW ignore me”?

  81. dhogaza says:

    I think that given the sensor difficulties through the last six months we should not be drawing any hasty conclusions.

    What problems have there been with AMSR-E/JAXA again? I seem to have missed them. Surely you’ll have no problem providing a link explaining these problems?

    As far as NSIDC and NOAA-13 and NOAA-15 go, they’ve switched to NOAA-17 which has no problems.

    Here’s the result of their calibration effort.

    Here’s what your hero Anthony Watts says about it:

    The fact that they have done parallel data keeping from F17 for a year to gauge differences is the right way to do it.

  82. MimiK says:

    Everyone, Joe included, Denialists included, the angry, despairing and the active and declaring, ALL:

    The issue is not whether climate change is real, provable, or valid.

    The issue is what kind of a world we want to live in.

    My question for all of you is whether you believe that a society that depends on toxins of all kinds in order to thrive, as we do, is the BEST that human beings can do?

    Or do you believe we can, and should, use our considerable gifts as human beings to create a non-toxic world, a global salutary society, of mutually assured vitality and well-being of people and planet?

    Do you want to continue to try to live in a toxic world, or do you want to try to create a salutary society?

    Do you want to waste all our human gifts on on maintaining a toxic world? Are you, as a human being born into these momentous times for humanity, willing to settle for THIS, the most toxic world that human beings have ever, ever created — as “peak”? Is poisoning water, soil and air, as we do, our ultimate human best?

    OR, are you as a human being willing and eager, determined and desirous, of using your considerable gifts as a member of this species that can do what no other species can do, dream of new worlds and then go create them for real, to dream up a non-toxic, salutary global society in which humans and earth mutually flourish and thrive and then go join the thousands of others, in movements great and small all over the world, to make the global salutary society happen for real? Do you desire a new world of mutually assured vitality of people and planet? Do you want a world of more joy, less misery, more well-being and less toxicity, and more confidence that human beings will flourish from this generation to the next, and less fear that we will wither into extinction?

    Or do you want to side with the deep denialists among us who deny that there is a better world yet to make? Do you want to join with the political “Impossibilists,” as Alex Steffen, founder of worldchanging.com puts it, and bring humanity’s long, diverse, astonishing history of discovering new possibilities to an end with us?

    If we do not commit to creating a non-toxic world, then we are settling for the most toxic world ever created by man as the best we can do.

    If we commit to creating a new salutary society of mutually assured vitality of people and planet, then we are insisting, as we always have throughout human history, that there is another possibility for humanity yet to come.

    Make your choice: toxic world, salutary society.
    You will know whether your choice was right or wrong not by arguing about the facts. You will know you were right if you and your loved ones live.
    Wrong, you may not live to discover.

  83. Susan says:

    Wonderful! Great stuff. And the comment from Lucy the 3 month old made me smile.

    Articles like this are comfort food for those of us who are regularly disgusted by contrarian/disinformationalist/scientifically challenged talking points and take the time and trouble to get down in the mud and find out where they are getting their information.

    dhogaza, another apology if JR let through my extremely ill considered remark a couple of days ago. One little misstep is always used as fuel for the fire, and I abase myself for poor reading/skimming skills.

  84. Susan says:

    Thanks to a friend for this about Aikido:

    Creating this change requires four things from us

    1] We must maintain our own balance while taking theirs
    2] We must react fearlessly
    3] We must enter into the very center of the conflict
    4] We must understand our opponent’s intentions in order to achieve resolution

  85. Sam says:

    I just have to say–this is both a useful and a terrific post. Excellent summary of the current state of affairs w/r/t the deniers. And w/r/t the state of mind and heart of many of us who have bothered to become informed about this stuff.

    Thanks.

  86. A Siegel says:

    A tremendous post. While my, earlier, post is not as good, you might find this approach to the five stages of denial of interest / relevant: http://getenergysmartnow.com/2008/04/12/the-five-stages-denial-to-determination/

  87. Cynthia says:

    Barry, I can think of a much more appropriate name to call those who actively seek to block progress on the climate change problem. Unfortunately, cursing isn’t allowed on this website.

    It’s not a matter of “difference of opinion among peers”. It’s a matter of ignoring what 97% of climatologists are saying, what the world’s leading climatologist is saying. It’s a matter of putting the lives of 8 billion people at risk, when solutions are available but not put into place because ignorant people block them. It’s a matter of greed versus human decency. Why resort to name calling? What would call someone who kills your dog or you mother?

  88. Cynthia says:

    JohnnyB, well-written little post! Unfortunately, everything you stated is bull manure. No global warming during the last 11 years? It’s the middle of November and I have to open my window at nights because it’s so hot. (We haven’t had the heat on all fall, except for 2 days last month.) And I live in a Northern state! Do you know how cold it used to be in November? We had to wear several layers of clothes when we went outside because of all the ice and snow and freezing tempertures. My mom said that they had to wait until November to kill the hog because if they didn’t the meat would go bad (not cold enough in October to hang the hog meat in the cellar or whatever). This is one SMALL example. What a ridiculous post you wrote!

  89. Gracco says:

    Great post, Joe. Why go for the ball when you can go for the man (as we say in Australia)?

    And Cynthia, You’re talking about weather, not climate. Isn’t it a little bit cooler over there right now?