The tragic hubris of the climate action delayers

Let’s assume we keep listening to the siren song of the deniers and the climate action delayers who insist human-caused global warming is not a dire problem requiring deep reductions in greenhouse gases starting as soon as possible.   So we ruin our  livable climate for our children and grandchildren and countless generations after that.

When they are done cursing our name, our descendents will try to understand how “a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself,” as Elizabeth Kolbert put it.  They’ll have a long time to do this since, as a major NOAA-led study concluded this year, climate change is “largely irreversible for 1000 years,” with permanent Dust Bowls in Southwest and around the globe — irreversible, that is, if we don’t stop it in the first place.

The typical reasons why people and societies have historically made such tragically catastrophic blunders don’t apply to a great many opinion makers today.  Sure some are malicious or ignorant, and some, like David Broder, sultan of the status quo, are fatally uninformed about global warming.

But how you explain people who have a fair amount of familiarity with the issue and actually write regularly on the subject — but just get it so wrong again and again?  Many of these are people I’ve called the climate action delayers (CADs) — the folks who claim to believe in the science of global warming but obviously don’t, the folks who substitute their own opinion for an understanding of the actual science.

Their tragic flaw is hubris, which, as Wikipedia notes is:

a term used in modern English to indicate overweening pride, superciliousness, or arrogance, often resulting in fatal retribution or Nemesis.

A perfect example of modern-day hubris can be seen in the work of one Thomas Fuller, a delayer who writes as an “environmental policy examiner” for the named.  He has his own label, as he wrote August 1:

As a global warming ‘lukewarmer,’ I believe that manmade CO2 will cause about 2 degrees Celsius of warming as concentrations of CO2 double during the course of this century.

That, of course, doesn’t make him a lukewarmer.  It just makes him someone who doesn’t understand or care about what science actually says.  On our current emissions path, we’re going to double CO2 concentrations not “during the course of the century” but almost certainly halfway through it — and we’re going to warm more than 4°C by century’s end:

It is hubris to blithely assert that one’s beliefs supersede the work of thousands of scientists, including hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific papers on which we base our current understanding of the danger posed by unrestricted emissions of greenhouse gases.

But that isn’t the most hubristic thing Fuller has written.  On August 5, he wrote a column, “The best of times for global warming skeptics“:

It seems as if almost every day brings news of information and discoveries that bolster the skeptical opposition to the theory that global warming is dangerous and due to human emissions of CO2.


Now that sentence would be quite accurate if we replaced “boster” with, say, “fatally undermine,” but as written it might as well be a manifesto for the deniers themselves.  Scratch climate action delayer, and you usually get a climate science denier.

Again, it is hubris, plain and simple, to utterly ignore the information and discoveries that have been occurring almost every day for several years now, which make clear global warming is far more dire than we thought just a short time ago and that human emissions of CO2 are the predominant cause of recent warming (and obviously will become the overwhelming cause of climate change as we continue to pour greenhouse gases into the atmosphere).  You can find summaries of the peer-reviewed literature and observations and discoveries in the 2007 IPCC report — which every member government of the IPCC signed off on word-for-word — and in the recent NOAA-led 13-agency report on US climate impacts (see “Our hellish future: Definitive NOAA-led report on U.S. climate impacts warns of scorching 9 to 11°F warming over most of inland U.S. by 2090 with Kansas above 90°F some 120 days a year “” and that isn’t the worst case, it’s business as usual!“).   You can also find many of the best recent studies here.

Fuller’s post claims “our obsession with CO2 has caused us to overlook the other things humans do to affect climate on this planet, such as deforestation….”  Yes, to Fuller, it’s those foolish, arrogant, hubristic climate scientists who are so obsessed with CO2 that they totally overlook deforestation — except of course for their urgent warnings to stop said deforestation because as they have told us repeatedly it is responsible for some 20% or more of all human emissions of CO2.  And except for the current desperate efforts by the overwhelming majority of nations in the world to develop a workable strategy to stop deforestation.

I hadn’t heard about this guy at all until I got pinged by Google for his latest piece, which attacks me with this astounding statement:

Romm says he wants to spend about 30 minutes on his posts, and it shows.


How can something I say I want to do in the future [for maybe 1 or 2 of my 4 to 6 posts a day] “show” anything already — especially to a CAD like Fuller who spends at most 30 minutes on every single one of his once-every-day-or-two opinion pieces?

It just goes to show you that even the most innocuous statement I write can be misrepresented by the CADs.  In fact, as readers know, what I wrote was:

Normally, about 2/3 of my posts take me some 60 to 90 minutes to write and about 1/3 take 90 to 180 minutes.  I’ve been trying to do more 30-minute posts in the last few days, in case you hadn’t noticed, and I expect to continue that for another month.  If it proves successful, I’ll keep doing it.

Fact-free Fuller, it won’t surprise you, is an acolyte of Roger Pielke, Jr. and The Breakthrough Institute, which is an an organization that is dedicating all of its resources to killing any chance of either a national or international effort to avert catastrophic global warming and to spreading disinformation about Obama, Gore, Congressional Democrats, and the environmental movement.

Then again, Fuller writes of “the alarmist website Real Climate.”  I mean, if you think Real Climate is an alarmist website, then you really aren’t paying any attention whatsoever to what they or anyone else is actually writing on climate science.

I think it pure hubris — and utterly immoral — to regularly write on climate science and policy without having interviewed and/or seen the talks of a few dozen of the leading climate scientists in the world and without having read at least a hundred major climate studies in the past decade.

Since global warming isn’t a 3-hour Greek tragedy, this modern day hubris won’t result in fatal retribution for the CADs, only for their descendants and ours.  The best we can do today is hold their hubris out for all to see.  Small comfort that will be for those living through Hell and High Water.

43 Responses to The tragic hubris of the climate action delayers

  1. David B. Benson says:

    Or at least reading “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart:

    Andy Revkin’s review:

  2. Lore says:

    Fuller prolifically taps away at his keyboard frantically hoping to find a a journalistic niche to fit himself into. He feels he has come up with the formula for fame. Pick a highly charged subject, play the impersonal arbitrator and attempt to work both sides of the aisle. Except the field is already rather crowded with personalities like Roger Pielke, Jr., his god, and the likes of Bjørn Lomborg.

    He was slammed at Real Climate in the comments as his pretense was soon discovered and has been getting exceeding shrill in his posts calling out AGW proponents to come out and play with him. Joe, you’re just the new target.

    Unfortunately for him his conceit is shown to be rather thinly veiled as each post points out the denial in the delayer. His followers are somewhat puzzled by his blog while those who disagree with him have either written him off, or after a while have just ignored the ramblings as that of another self seeking crank.

  3. Jeff Huggins says:

    In writing about the fact that humans must ultimately live within the limits of nature, Albert Camus wrote:

    “Nature is still there, however. She contrasts her calm skies and her reasons with the madness of men. Until the atom too catches fire and history ends in the triumph of reason and the agony of the species. But the Greeks never said that the limit could not be overstepped. They said it existed and that whoever dared to exceed it was mercilessly struck down. Nothing in present history can contradict them.”

    – Albert Camus, “Helen’s Exile”, “The Myth of Sisyphus and other essays”

    Bertrand Russell observed:

    “Some people would rather die than think; and many do.”

    Francis Bacon wrote:

    “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.”

    And Albert Einstein wrote:

    “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

    People who think they can ignore or “fool” nature are fooling themselves.

    Be Well,


  4. Nancy says:

    “Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do” – Wendell Berry

  5. Lou Grinzo says:

    Don’t screw with Mother Nature. –Everyone

  6. This is not tragic hubris, this is criminal psychopathology.

  7. Rick Covert says:


    Professor Michio Kaku just interviewed professor David Archer of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago and author of a new book called, “The Long Thaw: How Humans are Changing the Next 100,000 Years of Earth’s Climate.” He argues that not only are humans ruining the atmosphere by dumping copious amounts of carbon dioxide but that the effects will linger for 100,000 years.

    With that in mind isn’t 1000 years overly optimistic given the time it takes for carbon dioxide to be removed from the atmosphere by natural means?

  8. A. says:

    Maybe my default opinion of journalists’ thinking abilities is too high, but I just can’t believe that so many of them are really getting this so wrong, in good faith.

    Yeah, maybe the editors are making them do it – but if this were so, I’d expect to see them venting anonymously in comments at blogs like this one. So what does it mean, that they don’t?

    If someone who’s been in the trenches could enlighten us, anonymously, that would be most welcome.

  9. paulm says:

    Ok, Fuller is not listed in Wiki. Next.

  10. paulm says:

    BTW, Well done Joe….

    “In March 2009, Rolling Stone magazine named Romm to its list of “100 People Who Are Changing America”.[3]”

  11. Education has to be the answer. I tried to do something meaningful with this:

    A Day in the Life of the Earth: Understanding Human-Induced Climate Change, with forward by Jim Hansen, Dir. of NASA/GISS

    For teachers and parents to educate our children, and to educate the public. The crisis is real. The crisis is now.

    Jeff Goldstein
    Center Director
    National Center for Earth and Space Science Education

  12. A. says:

    re my “So what does it mean, that they don’t?” – Joe is saying hubris explains their blindness (and thereby also their absence from the blog-comments confessional) – but that’s just really hard for me to accept, on a gut level.

    I wonder what an fMRI would show, and if it’d be worth doing.

  13. Richard S Courtney says:

    [JR: This poster would appear to be British coal industry flack Richard S Courtney].

    Mr Romm:


    And in the same article you write:
    “On our current emissions path, we’re going to double CO2 concentrations not “during the course of the century” but almost certainly halfway through it — and we’re going to warm more than 4°C by century’s end:”

    But “science” does not say that. Indeed, the extremist IPCC only says it “projects” a range of global temperature rise from 1990 temperatures of between 1.4 to 5.8°C by 2100.

    [JR: But it DOES say that. The underestimating, lowballing IPCC only projects the low range if we get OFF our current emissions path. Try reading the post before revealing your denier ignorance. The rest of your comment is snipped.]


  14. jorleh says:

    Master of words, Joe. This frontal attack I like. Where is your new book? All idiots in the world need some information of the suicide of our species in the hot CO2-sauna.

  15. Mac says:



  16. Florifulgurator says:

    That first sentence of Fuller’s Aug. 5 post is a tired old denier classic. It’s been around for many many years. Click.

  17. Might I humbly suggest that the best recent summary of climate science since the IPCC Fourth Assessment is the synthesis report from the Climate Change Congress held in Copenhagen last March.

    Follow the link.

    [JR: Yes, that was the focus of my first bulleted link.]

  18. J.A. Turner says:

    Instead of falling into the trap of trying to convince deniers of what they are not yet prepared to face, it’s more productive to focus on those mitigation actions we can do that are profitable and those that are modest in cost, and to pose the call for action based on risk management: the cost of acting is very small and the risks associated with inaction and dely are enormous. If by some miracle, nature resets itself and action turned out to not be needed, the cost of having acted without necessity will actually be quite small, and we would have many opportunities to minimize the cost along the way. The cost of delay and inaction compounds the longer we wait.

    Acting is only prudent, and it leaves us with the option of easing up later if it turns out that things aren’t as bad as we thought. Inaction and delay robs us of options–the actions needed to make meaningful change will only become more and more draconian as things get worse.

    We already know about peak oil, and even climate deniers can agree that we need to get off of our reliance on oil. The toxic and particulate pollution from coal burning (and the mountains of toxic waste), and the horrors of coal mining, ought to be enough to make a compelling case for cutting back on coal use. Economic revival is a good enough reason for pumping up the efforts on efficiency, clean energy and green jobs.

    It might feel good to “win” the argument, but we would do better to get on with mitigation efforts, even if we can’t get everyone on board for the right reasons.

  19. Mark - BLR says:

    I have 3 questions :

    How many of your “hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific papers” can be summarised as “In the worst possible case, our computer model says …” ?

    [JR: Not a single one — which you would know if you had bothered to read any of them. Indeed, there is not a single climate model today that has modeled even a majority of the major positive, amplifying feedbacks we are measuring today. Every major climate model we have severely underestimated the rate of sea ice loss in the Arctic and the ice loss of the great ice sheets. Most of the climate models are in fact best case scenarios for the planet.

    I am snipping the rest of your comment since you have not even done the courtesy of reading a single link before posting.]

  20. Mike#22 says:

    Richard, I agree, I keep going back to that report thinking, here is it, distilled sit rep. The case for action.

    The central mystery of the Globate Climate Change Crisis is how can people be so apathetic, detached, insensitive, incurious, indifferent, insensible, lethargic. Hubris enabled, clear headed analysis switched off.

    Especially when the science is so thoroughly summarized by report after report. Any journalist, like Fuller above, who cannot do some background reading, needs to find another occupation.

  21. Mike#22 says:

    Mark- BLR, true the computer models project a range of outcomes, mostly centered around a climate sensitivity of 3. That is old news.

    Older iterations of the models did not include feedbacks from tipping elements such as permafrost, methane clathrates, forest dieback. (and read each of the four bulleted links in the middle of JR’s post)

    Hansen has shown that a climate sensitivity of 6 fits the actual paleoclimate data, and this has been supported recently by others. Hansen argues that the ongoing melting and climate shifts already underway tell us that we are already under too much CO2 (look up, visualize). How can we know with reasonable certainty that the already high levels of CO2 haven’t taken us to signifigant positive feedbacks?

    So your strawman: “If we don’t stop ALL CO2 emissions RIGHT NOW, it is 100% CERTAIN that temperatures will rise by AT LEAST 5 degrees C by 2100) are wrong” is not all that far from accurate. Try “If we don’t get to negative emissions by 2030, we are running signifigant (and unacceptable) risks of going beyond the point of no return”

  22. Leland Palmer says:

    I think that at the very top levels, a segment of U.S. big business wants the Arctic to melt so that they can go after the oil under the Arctic icecap.

    Consider the output (and testimony before Congress) of the (Oil and Banking industry dominated) Council on Foreign Relations Scott Borgerson:

    From Foreign Relations- The Great Game Moves North:

    In an article in Foreign Affairs last year, I described how not only is the climate changing fast, but the region’s geopolitics are also rapidly transforming. As the Arctic coastal states begin to make claims over both these transit passages and newly accessible deep-water resources, a Great Game is developing in the world’s far north.

    From Sea Change, an article by Scott Borgerson in the Atlantic magazine:

    The opening of a new waterway between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans is akin in historic significance to the opening of the Suez Canal, in 1869, or is Panamanian cousin, in 1914. With this sea change will come the rise and fall of international seaports, newfound access to nearly a quarter of the world’s remaining undiscovered oil and gas reserves, and a recalibration of geo-strategic power.

    For a list of Scott Borgerson’s articles on this Arctic resource race, go here:

    It’s all about oil, Joe. Like our recent invasion of the Middle East, our focus on Africa, and many other geo-strategic policies, it’s all about what’s good for ExxonMobil, not about what’s good for the country or the world.

    A segment of U.S. big business wants the Arctic to melt. This is the root explanation for the network of denier websites and journalists that have sprung up, IMO. This is not a grass roots movement, primarily – this is a network that is funded from the top, IMO. Your own posts show how a network of climate deniers was being run by Mark Morano out of Senator Inhofe’s office, and how “talking points” were going from Morano to a network of “climate skeptics”.

    Much of the funding for the deniers comes from this sector, IMO, as numerous journalists and environmental watchdog groups have reported, including Greenpeace. Most of the funding is likely hidden or indirect, but this denier movement uses tactics identical to those used by the constellation of right wing think tanks such as the Heritage foundation and the American Enterprise Institute that helped foment our invasion of Iraq.

    It is tragic hubris, but the true source of this hubris is not the deniers themselves, IMO. The funding for the climate denier movement comes from the core of American big business and finance.

    Segments of our financial elites want the Arctic to melt.

  23. Richard S Courtney says:



    The facts are what they are. The IPCC projections are what they are; i.e. a range of global temperature rise from 1990 temperatures of between 1.4 to 5.8°C by 2100.

    I stated fact by quoting the IPCC projections. Your claiming that “science” says “we’re going to warm more than 4°C by century’s end is a lie.

    [JR: You have misstated what I wrote AND what the IPCC wrote. It is always laughable when people who don’t understand or accept the IPCC try to quote it. The IPCC has two sets of projections — the low end is for low emissions scenarios that require aggressive efforts to deploy clean energy technologies — precisely those scenarios that deniers and delayers like you are devoting all of your efforts to preventing. That’s why I always say, “on our current emissions path.” Your show your hubris by your refusal to spend even of few minutes reading the actual IPCC reports (or the links here). You can reassert your false opinions all you what — elsewhere!]

  24. Just FYI….

    My comments are now blocked at the Examiner web site.

  25. robert says:

    It’s not only hubris. There’s a more clinical term for the behavior: The Dunning-Kruger Effect:

    In short, it categorizes a class of people — labeling them in a clinical fashion, “incompetents”. These are their characteristics:

    1. Incompetent individuals tend to overestimate their own level of skill.
    2. Incompetent individuals fail to recognize genuine skill in others.
    3. Incompetent individuals fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy.
    4. If they can be trained to substantially improve their own skill level, these individuals can recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill.

    (It applies to “Interglacial John” above — in spades.)

  26. SecularAnimist says:

    A willingness to lie — to lie repeatedly, deliberately and without conscience — is not “hubris”. And Tom Fuller is a deliberate liar.

    On other blogs, he has repeatedly posted assertions and claims that he knows are false. Not only that, but he lies about his own writings — in one comment questioning the “role” of anthropogenic CO2 emissions in warming, and in the next claiming that he accepts anthropogenic causation and only objects to the “alarmism” of the “establishment warmists” (he seems to have a fondness for such inane labels).

    He has even lied, to me, about what I have written in my own comments! Rarely have I encountered such a brazen, shameless phony.

    It would be merely comical to read Fuller’s clumsy recitation of ExxonMobil-funded rubbish and pseudoscience — but it becomes offensive when he viciously, maliciously and dishonestly smears real climate scientists with baseless accusations of scientific fraud. (And in the next comment, of course, denies having done so.)

    The fact is that there is a “market” for pseudo-ideological, phony “conservative” propaganda about global warming, or health care, or any number of subjects — the Ditto-Head market. And Tom Fuller is nothing more than a third-rate hack writer who is looking to make a name for himself, and maybe make a buck, peddling denialist garbage to that market.

  27. Regarding Dunning-Kruger effect – we should remember a vitally important point – the reticence of competence.

    “It also explains why competence may weaken the projection of confidence because competent individuals falsely assume others are of equivalent understanding. “Thus, the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others.”

    Both sides of the effect combine to make a real tragedy.

  28. Regarding journalists… I have spoken at length with 2 television journalists – like you would see on a local tv news show in a major market. They really do not get global warming / climate instability.

    First, this is a story that is too complicated to distill into 20 second or even 90 second packages. There are few local angles, it is too contentious, and most of all their editors really do not care to cover the story. It is like nuclear stories, unless there is a meltdown happening – there is no story. The same with climate change – any weather event with great impact is covered nicely as a weather event, but it will never become a climate change TV news story.

    I asked whether or not advertisers care to see this kind of coverage… no TV reporter will admit to advertiser influence. But we all agree this is a advertiser supported medium.

    If one wants good coverage of this news story then the Internet, CP and YouTube have plenty. Broadcast television is not really journalism, it is more like a town crier with a sandwich-board – news is only incidental lure to the deliver of advertising.

  29. MarkB says:

    “My comments are now blocked at the Examiner web site.”

    Mine aren’t yet, although I’ll probably lose interest soon. No URLs are allowed on that blog. I generally like to cite reliable sources. Since deniers don’t do this, it’s a good format for them.

    Fuller is very Pielke-Jr. like – a denier in “objective scientist” clothing. For example, in a recent column, he wrote:

    “So it’s nice to know that the science is going on, relatively unaffected by this [politics].”

    His basis for this is first and foremost a “study” published in the journal “Energy & Fuels”, hardly a reputable objective scientific journal. Description:

    “Energy & Fuels publishes reports of research in all areas of the chemistry of nonnuclear energy sources, including that involved in the formation of, exploration for, and production of fossil fuels; ”

    Fuller takes this a step further and links an article in, an Exxon-funded political organization.

  30. Leland Palmer says:

    Regarding my comment # 22 above:

    One thing I forgot to add, this morning-

    What our financial elites did not take into account was methane from the methane hydrates, I think.

    According to factual quantitative scientific analyses of the rocks, sea shells, and sediments laid down during some past extinction events, negative C13 isotope shifts fully consistent with the release of a couple of trillion tons of C13 depleted carbon from methane hydrate deposits have been measured, by several scientists. The general explanation for these massive shifts, so massive they are difficult to explain by any other mechanism, is a runaway greenhouse effect leading to dissociation of trillions of tons of methane hydrates.

    The Wikipedia article on the clathrate gun hypothesis (runaway global warming leading to dissociation of methane hydrates) contains several of these papers as references.

    Our financial elites either missed these consequences during their planning, or think these consequences somehow desirable, and in their own self-interest.

    Needless to say, whatever our financial elites want, we need to stop this thing.

  31. Phillip Huggan says:

    My main worry is “we” are putting off climate change long enough to stack it against our attempt to keep sensor/quarantine mitigation a decade ahead of designer pandemics, this 1/2 of century.

    #2 is that 2nd half of century, the Himalayas will melt and India Pakistan Russia and China…this isn’t a meek corner of the 2050-2100 world, it is the world, including arms.

    #3 is that Africa will be annihilated.

    The first two unleash quickening non-linear geopolitical nightmare scenarios. A chunk of people die in a pandemic and/or harvest failure, and you are still left with the same or worse risks with reduced resources (attempted Martial Law in many lands quickly negates progress like CCS R+D/manufacture) to handle.

  32. Mark says:

    And of course, re one delayer hotbed mentioned, the title “The Breakthrough Institute” itself is not the least hubristic phrase ever come up with…

    Such self-certainty and pompous-assness is a great, constantly self-regenerating, source of comedy – shame it’s on so serious a subject.

  33. Paul K says:

    If you read Fuller’s background posts, you will find that he has devoured the entire Anthony Watts nonsense about the temperature record being ruined by poor US land station data, he has swallowed Roger Pielke Jr.’s nonsense that we shouldn’t expect an increase in extreme weather events as global warming progresses, etc., he has repeated the most common denial crocks such as global cooldown in recent years, focuses on global ice extent, instead of North Pole ice volume, etc.

    But he posts a lot, and just keeps trucking along, and so it is impossible to have any kind of meaningful discussion over there. So Fuller just ends up being kind of a Marohasey light.

  34. Phil Loesch says:

    @Mark, number 32:

    The Breakthrough Institute is not far off from where Joe Romm stands – both them and Joe are in favor of increasing support for demonstrating and deploying renewable energy.

    Breakthroughs in energy technology will be required, because large-scale deployment is no easy task.

    Joe’s employer also favors “Breaking Through on Technology: Overcoming the barriers to the development and wide deployment of low-carbon technology” (the title of a recent report).

    [JR: NOT! Breakthrough Institute, assuming one can actually figure out what they believe since it changes so often — first they endorsed Obama’s climate strategy as their own, but now that he’s actually doing it, take them it — is dead set against any serious climate action. They are dead set against any serious carbon price. They have devoted their resources to trying to kill the first chance we’ve had in two decades for serious domestic action on climate and clean energy, which means they are trying to kill an international deal too. Had you gone beyond just reading just the title of that recent report, you would know that it was focused on breaking through the barriers to disseminating low-carbon technologies to developing nations. Seriously, is that the best you guys can do — citing the title of a report you never read?]

  35. Mike#22 says:

    Re: The Dunning-Kruger Effect

    Generally applied to single people, but how about social networks?

    Watts/Fuller/Will/Pielke could be a source of affirmation and coordination for the DKEs, creating DKE reactors, where particles of ignorance move amongst the various people at near light speed, reinforcing the DKE effect in all of the individuals.

    You can retrain the individual DKE afflicted, but how do you stop a DKE reactor?

  36. Jay Alt says:

    Someone should sponsor a contest to document the earliest claims (and quotes) of that false idea.
    Contrast that phony rhetoric with a timeline of real global warming discoveries; after Spencer Weart.

    This garbage has been refloated for over 20 years, since before the Rio Convention and earlier meetings.

    It seems as if almost every day brings news of information and discoveries that bolster the skeptical opposition . . . blah, blah, blah,

  37. Anna Haynes says:

    Mike#22, that (“..DKE reactor”) was quite fine.

    A curiosity re Fuller – Google News Archive search shows him a) reporting rather reasonably about climate, for IHT; and b) coauthoring some stories with Chris Buckley, who I ass u me is Christopher Buckley of Skull and Bones, and of Yale Daily News co-editorship (and book coauthorship) with jaunty geoengineering advocate John Tierney. My spidey sense tingles.
    (which could just be because I slept on it funny, esp. given that only a few articles are Buckley-Fuller creations.)

    What is Fuller’s background, before his decade or so abroad?

  38. John Hollenberg says:

    I sent info on the Dunning-Kruger Effect and the “reticence of competence” described by Richard Pauli to a friend. Her response:

    “I feel non-confident about my competence in the skill of recognizing
    this effect now that I’ve been educated to recognize it.

    Humbly submitted”

  39. J4zonian says:

    I have a general request. I know you use Centigrade because most of the world does and because it’s the language of science, etc. etc.—all good reasons……

    but please, please start using Fahrenheit.

    [JR: You aren’t a regular reader, but it helps to look around first. I generally use both. This was a reply to a specific claim.]

    If you want to speak to the vast majority of people in the US who will come across your posts (or references to them) and others referring to changes in temperature you must use terms they can understand. Most people here don’t get Centigrade. They read 2 degrees and think “Wull hell, that ain’t much. Who gives a damn about a measly 2 degree change by the time I’m dead?” Most won’t think about the difference, hardly any will do the actual math, and even that tiny minority who will look for a plug-in-the-numbers conversion website (because they can’t remember a formula they haven’t had to think about since high school 17 years ago) will be stymied by the difference between converting temperature and converting degrees of change, which the websites don’t do.

    Whether they do the math or not, most people in the US grew up with Fahrenheit and have it permanently etched in their brains and bodies, so are left with the INDELIBLE impression of a much smaller change than is actually happening. This is an issue of framing; we have a choice to make. We can continue to be logical and correct and be self-satisfied about being scientific and in tune with the rest of the world, or we can be effective. Please find a way to let go of the need to be “scientific” and at the very least ALWAYS include both.

  40. J4zonian says:

    Actually I am a regular reader, although I haven’t read everything here and may have missed some places you used degrees F.

    One of the most impactful posts you’ve done was the Hadley Center report with the 4 scenarios–except, yes, NO Fahrenheit. People really got the bold colors and the big arrows and it got more comments than anything I’ve passed on, but then the low numbers…fizzzzzle….even with the consequences spelled out people had trouble making sense or relating to numbers they couldn’t understand or believe. I’m glad you do often use both. Just a little more, is all I’m saying.

    [JR: Well, the Hadley folks are British and it was their chart. But message delivered. Always good to be reminded.]

  41. Anna Haynes says:

    A correction, in my comment above about Mr. Fuller’s writings for the International Herald Tribune, I made a rather fundamental error; I had the wrong Thomas Fuller. While the Examiner’s Thomas W. Fuller did formerly write for Italy Daily (launched by the IHT in 1998) and wrote technology commentary for IHT then, he’s not the TF who’s been writing for the NYTimes and IHT from Thailand, India etc.

    My bad. Apologies to all.

  42. J.A. Turner (18) made a very good point: Rather then bickering over scientific details, it’s much more fruitful to focus on (potential win-win) solutions. There is still plenty of low hanging fruit waiting to be picked (see eg the McKinsey report frequently cited here). When that’s done, hopefully the traction of the pseudo-skeptic arguments has faded enough to make space for the deeper emission cuts that are likely needed.

    For that traction to decrease, it’s important not to retort to namecalling. For every hardliner you’re trying to convert with harsh words, there are hundreds, if not thousands of undecided ‘innocent bystanders’ listening in. If all they hear is a shouting match, they will conclude that both are equally wrong. I believe that a civil response –combined with an effort to find common ground and discuss more constructive topics, such as win-win solutions- is a much better strategy. I don’t claim that I succeed in doing so, but trying is important. See eg my latest attempt both on Tom Fuller’s website ( and my own blog ( I have found my exchange with Tom Fuller quite constructive so far.

  43. Anna Haynesa says:

    A further correction, provisionally – in my comment above about [the wrong] Mr. Fuller’s coauthorship with Beijing journalist Chris Buckley, I also – I’m pretty sure – had the wrong Chris Buckley. Mea culpa, but also the culpa of those who figure putting a non-unique name in a byline absolves them of any further need to disambiguate.

    Anyone know how to get in touch with Beijing journalist Chris, to get even the sparsest of background information?
    (I don’t think Chris is Dr. Chris Buckley of Torana Carpets, but for all I know it could be.)