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Skeptic alerts  

This is a guest post by Barry Woods.

The number of people contributing to online climate change articles and the various blogs has shot up since the Climategate story broke. One strategy for dealing with sceptics, seen on a 'climate change' lobby group website, might explain why.

Campaign for Climate Change (CACC)
Skeptic Alerts
Are you fed up with sceptics and pseudo-scientists dominating blogs and news articles with their denialist propaganda? Well, fight back! We are trying to create an online army of online volunteers to try and tip the balance back in the favour of scientific fact, not scientific fiction... You will receive one e-mail alert per day containing links to various climate change news articles.

The idea is to organise 'climate change' activists to post comments on any sceptical man made climate change article in the media. CACC give examples of tactics to use and sources of information to counter any sceptical article. can also consider going onto the offensive and explain that the real uncertainty about man-made climate change is not whether its happening but how fast its happening and that in fact there is increasing evidence that the mainstream science of the IPCC is actually underestimating the scale and imminence of the threat.

There are similar links at RealClimate and many other websites.

Very few climate change activists seem to want to actually look at any of the evidence or allegations following Climategate themselves.  As activists they seem to look to voices of authority to provide the means to counter any contrary views.

One example below (from a  climate activist's transcript of a QA session at a  CACC meeting).  

QUESTIONER: Andrew Neil (BBC) interviewed Caroline Lucas (Green Party Leader) and asked her about the Phil Jones interview with the BBC where he said there had been no “statistically significant” warming in the last 15 years. Has there been no statistically significant warming or not ? Why wouldn’t Caroline Lucas, head of the Green Party, say “you’re wrong” ?

ANSWER FROM PHIL THORNHILL - CACC: I wrote her a rather long e-mail. You can’t really debate Science in the popular media. Most people don’t understand. - The tip for answering this kind of question is – "in 15 years, it’s hard to spot a trend against the background noise". It’s a difficult thing to explain. - It’s a clear case of how, once you start debating the science, it gets twisted.   She should have said “this is a typical case of the misrepresentation of science”.

ANSWER FROM BEN STEWART - GREENPEACE MEDIA: She was fine to say “I’ll take a pass on that”. 

The alternative answer is of course that the BBC's Andrew Neil was not wrong to ask this. The Climategate emails themselves show the key CRU/IPCC scientists involved discussing this issue privately: namely that the amount of manmade CO2 has accelerated during the 1990s, yet the temperatures have been static since 1995 or have even been falling. One conclusion is that the catastrophic predictions of unprecedented temperature rises from various computer climate models should be treated with caution.

In the last 20 years, 'Big Oil' has become 'Big Energy' and corporations, banking, media, politicians have all very much signed up to the consensus of manmade global warming.  Billions of dollars/pounds have been spent and a whole new 45 trillion dollar 'carbon economy' is envisaged.  Yet the climate change activists believe in a well-funded sceptic denial organisation. Even Judith Curry has referred to this on occasion.

It is obvious to a sceptical observer (should I say dispassionate? - 'sceptic' has been highjacked) that climate change is very much part of the media, business and political establishment now. For just one example, the Campaign Against Climate Change lists among its leadership George Monbiot (Guardian), Michael Meacher (Lab MP), Norman Baker (Lib dem MP), Caroline Lucas (Green Leader, MEP) and Jean Lambert (Green MEP). How more establishment can this manmade climate change lobbying group be? One is even a former Minister of State for the Environment!

This organisation is doing nothing wrong or illegal but, on reflection, this is yet another lobby group trying to manipulate the general public with the tools of political spin and misdirection.  It is frustrating to think that even the comments sections of newspapers and websites are being spun by activists from manmade climate change pressure groups, without the general public ever being aware of this manipulation.It might be interesting to sign up to this email list to see what is so important - all in the spirit of a fair and balanced debate.

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Reader Comments (35)

Their belief in this "Big Oil" rubbish frankly detracts from their standing as scientists for me. I've seen no evidence this is true. I've seen plenty of evidence that "Big Oil" is now completely onside with AGW. They know which side their brad is buttered.

Apr 19, 2010 at 8:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterShona

Chuckle !!!!

Nothing new !!!

Always used to call them trolls !!!!

Apr 19, 2010 at 8:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterMatthew W

yet another lobby group trying to manipulate the general public with the tools of political spin and misdirection.

No kidding. I understand why folks like us are being labelled skeptics and deniers, but why? We're not denying good science. We're not skeptical of good science. Maybe we should turn on the spin cycle on and start calling the true beleivers skeptics when it comes to scientific method, but activists when it comes to idealistic results.

As far as I am concerned, if the science is good, I'll agree with it. Part of their activists campaign is to take the debate off the science. Let's stay focused on the science. We can't go wrong there.

Please raise your hand if you are skeptical of following good scientific method.

I don't see any hands...who are the real skeptics?

Apr 19, 2010 at 8:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin

AGW is complex. You can accept one aspect of it, be skeptical of another, and deny a third aspect. It's that simple. Using one of these words to summarize all of it simply doesn't make sense.

Apr 19, 2010 at 8:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterDagfinn

Another example of fascism from the Gaia school of pseudo-mysticism.

Apr 19, 2010 at 8:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrugal Dougal

Phil Thornhill is my brother. Interesting to hear him say " You can’t really debate Science in the popular media." Some years ago I tried to discuss climate science with him (Soon after he had started CACC) to try and find out the facts (At the time it wasn't a particular interest of mine and I only knew a bit of MSM stuff). When I asked "What do you say to people who say....", I got no further - a stream of abuse followed. I backed off as it was a family party for our mother's 90th birthday!
However, it was the seed that eventually led to my wanting to learn the real state of climate science and taking a sceptical approach in doing so. Why are the catastrophists so blinded by their belief?

Apr 19, 2010 at 9:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeT

Sceptics should be reassured by this move, AGW supporters believe they are losing the argument and are trying to organise their "troops".
I have never seen a sceptic that needed to be organised.

Apr 19, 2010 at 9:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterDung

Perhaps sceptics should sign up for the email alerts, then cut and paste the email's contents into the comment sections of the targeted articles. Surely AGW fans couldn't object to readers having the full information?

Apr 19, 2010 at 9:45 PM | Unregistered Commenterartwest

I signed up to the email list and posted a troll alert on the Guardian on one of the blogs it listed. I was banned immediately. Creepy George Mobiot is honorary president. I suspect the Guardian is complicit.

Here is the list I was sent.

Guardian climate change: Volcano shows our lack of sustainability | Anthony Kleanthous
Guardian climate change: Ross Kemp: Reluctant eco-warrior
Daily Mail: Climate change 'could spark more volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis - Daily Mail
Guardian climate change: Scientists call for research on climate link to geological hazards
Daily Mail: Global water shortage could 'cause food prices to skyrocket and damage the ... - Daily Mail
Daily Mail: Third runway at Heathrow 'will leave UK economy £5billion worse off' - Daily Mail
Daily Mail: The hard-to-sea life: Stunning pictures of the 'nonillion' magical microbes of ... - Daily Mail
Guardian climate change: Science Weekly podcast: Inside the hidden world of pathologists

Apr 19, 2010 at 9:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterE Smith

Mike, I am sorry about the tension with your brother. It does seem, reading your account, that there is a psychological issue behind his passion. I hope it sorts itself out.

It often seems that when fanatic warmers venture into the comment columns outside RC and similar, they stick out a mile. Their line is usually ad hom, accusations of shilling, assertion without evidence, appeal to authority.

Sceptics usually have something to say, and I feel neutral readers increasingly see this.

Apr 19, 2010 at 10:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Wood

It may be legal, but it is certainly wrong.

Apr 19, 2010 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert E. Phelan

Jeff Wood:
I agree. For a time I was following Revkin's DotEarth blog. Time and again on an ostensibly pro-AGW site sceptics were out polling (based on recommendations) catastrophists by a large margin. The dominant theme of the CAGWers comments was ad hom attacks. Revkin indicated at one point that he was going to analyze the comments. In his new role as a professor this may in fact be underway and this may be fueling this PR counter-attack - replace ad hom comments with substance - all be they talking points.

Apr 19, 2010 at 10:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterBernie

Anyone for Astroturf-Tennis?

Apr 19, 2010 at 10:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

It is long ago that their attitude is more religious than scientific, now they turn to witch hunting in the name of their god. Try to argue with any religious fundamentalist and the only answers you get is a long list of memorized verses of their favourite holy book (blog).

on a side line I am quite interested in your comment
In the last 20 years, 'Big Oil' has become 'Big Energy' and corporations, banking, media, politicians have all very much signed up to the consensus of manmade global warming. Billions of dollars/pounds have been spent and a whole new 45 trillion dollar 'carbon economy' is envisaged.

I had some old data from Wall Street analysts talking about 3 trillion, but 45 is a still much bigger number. Are there any sources for those estimates?

Apr 19, 2010 at 11:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterPatagon

I'm on the list too........what a scam

Apr 20, 2010 at 12:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterFranks

I always find it amusing that the Warmists can't do anything on their own, but need to be told what to do and how to behave at all times by some supposed authority figure, like tourists on a package holiday.

Apr 20, 2010 at 1:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

I've joined the list, seems to me that they have deluded themselves into believing that sceptics are a well organised, well funded conspiracy and they are trying to emulate what they think is the sceptics' strategy. In short they can't believe they are being routed by a rag tag army of individuals.

CACC? surely a typographical error?

Apr 20, 2010 at 6:57 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Dung: "Sceptics should be reassured by this move"

As reassured as peace activists, or Palestinians, should be about the Megaphone desktop tool?

Apr 20, 2010 at 7:13 AM | Unregistered Commenterpete

Dung: "Sceptics should be reassured by this move"

Pete: "As reassured as peace activists, or Palestinians, should be about the Megaphone desktop tool?"

Of course there will be fall out from the spin - but with the General Public being so aghast at the lies and spin of the "believers" and the dodgy dossiers spun at them by government be it on WMD or the Stern Report - the majority will see it for what it is.

I agree with Dung - the fact that the believers are having to organise themselves thus means that they are more than just on the back foot - they are actually backed into a hole - and whilst anyone will know that an animal cornered like this is dangerous, the trick is to not get in the hole with it!

Stay outside and continue to do what we sceptics do best. Keep asking the questions and seek the truth.

Apr 20, 2010 at 7:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterDarce

I don't have a problem with eco-fascist individuals, even pushed by groups, appearing in online comments. (A) it is their right & (B) they are generally sufficiently ignorant that they will be taken apart.

The problem is that newspapers still simply refuse to publish letters from sceptics, at least in anything remotely proportionate to the number they must be receiving; publish numerous letters from government funded faskecharities, not identified as such; give far more feature space to eco-fascist politicians & fakecharities; & in some cases, particularly the Guardian ban sceptical comments & commenters.

Apr 20, 2010 at 10:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Craig

An acronym that is pronounced 'cack' was presumably chosen in the US...


Apr 20, 2010 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Sorry, that should have been:

This one

Apr 20, 2010 at 12:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

I offer CACC this model email:

Delete as applicable:

/ The vast majority of climate scientists are sure that man made climate change is happening. (The remainder say there is increasing evidence that the mainstream science of the IPCC is actually underestimating the scale and imminence of the threat.)

/ The fossil fuel companies are funding "think-tanks" whose job it is to try and undermine the science of climate change.

/ Here’s a link to realclimate

Apr 20, 2010 at 1:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

Everyone. Buy a copy of "The Climate Caper" (G. Paltridge, Emeritus Prof in atmospheric physics). Recommended by none other than Lovelock - He Of The Second Thoughts.

Read, recommend and distribute.

It's the final word. Lets' wait a bit and see.

Apr 20, 2010 at 9:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterO'Geary

"Buy a copy of "The Climate Caper" ...

Speaking of "buy a copy" ... my copy of The Hockey Stick Illusion arrived in my mailbox (on the West coast of Canada) yesterday.

My thanks again to (I believe it was) ScientistForTruth who had recommended They did, indeed, deliver (within 2 weeks of my placing the order).

Now all I have to do is tear myself away from the blogosphere, so I'll have some time to read it :-)

Apr 21, 2010 at 4:01 AM | Unregistered Commenterhro001

Not quite the right links, the original is lost in favourites (I'll track it down)
45 trillion cost of going green

Apr 21, 2010 at 8:24 AM | Unregistered Commenterbarry woods

"The Climate Caper"

With a foreword by Christopher Monckton. Sounds promising...

Apr 21, 2010 at 9:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Gort a nice little discussion going at
with no help from CACC, in which I got in a couple of mentions of your Grace. Author Hickman is engaging in reasoned discussion with us denialists. A first for Guardian Climate Change?

Apr 21, 2010 at 10:56 AM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

I'd have to disagree Geoff, for me, a very poor article and the usual sneering condescension in his comments. My rating, very turgid.

Apr 21, 2010 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterChuckles

I commented about the coordinated control and manipulation of the Guardian CiF by AGW cultists on another thread here last month. Instead of re-writing it let me just copy&paste the thing:

The following thread on November 25, 2009, in the Guardian CiF has 19 comments of the first 50 deleted. Every single one of the deleted comments were from the skeptical camp and none of them contained anything untoward. I remember that extremely well. You'll see me ('shexmus') complaining strongly about the censorship further down the thread.

It turns out -as was confessed by an AGW faithful in that thread- there is a neat trick to use in CiF to knock out the opposing camp's arguments. All you need to do is to alert moderators about any comment you don't like by clicking on "Report abuse" and entering an excuse. If several people report the same comment to CiF moderators, then the moderators would respond by deleting it [probably without even reading it first]. Unfortunately, the comment that exposed the trick was deleted too.

I know it sounds incredible, but it is true. Half a dozen youngsters from around the world and working in concert can easily manipulate CiF, its readers and its moderators.

Apr 21, 2010 at 8:44 PM | Unregistered CommentersHx

Thanks shx for that important information on the workings of CiF. I still maintain that the moderators are not to blame. Despite having been banned three times, I’ve found them fairminded and open to argument. The problem comes with the interpretation of “off-topic”. If a Guardian journalists writes an article saying e.g. “Grounding of aircraft good news for Bangla Desh” you can be considered off-topic if you start criticising global warming theory, which hasn’t been mentioned. If your comments are polite and cite the article or previous comments, the “report abuse” trick won’t work. It’s all a big game anyway. But most interesting as a way of understanding the psychology of warmists.

Apr 22, 2010 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

Sorry Geof

I can't agree with you there.
I have posted on topic at Cif and far more politely than many of 'climate activist'and my comments did not appear, not a question of them being complained about then removed (as above) but they did not appear.

I even have the same problem sometimes on the Booker articles at the Telegraph, which are haunted by one or 2 characters. One of these, at least, would appear to be a media professional, but my last response has been lost.

He has been outed a few times in other articles, purely because the Telegraph moderators have allowed it. So they must be sure about the identity.

Christopher Bookers: The worst scientifc scandal of our generation.
This was the ONLY MSM in the UK, article pre-copenhagen that reported climategate

I was tipped off below that someone was perhaps not as they seemed:

"David Welch is trotted out when the left feel threatened. As we can see he only has one tactic, and he never has anything to contribute except a polemical smoke screen.
Some have wondered out loud whether he is a paid agent.
It is unusual to see him trampling around a climate change page. Things must be bad.
He is best ignored, especially if he is trying to get your attention.

boredwiththe left
on December 04, 2009
at 11:42 PM"

Apr 22, 2010 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered Commenterbarry woods

Barry Woods. Thanks for the information. Hope his Grace doesn’t consider this off-topic. Having defended the moderators, at CiF, I’ve just had a comment at
disappear without trace, leaving a couple of replies hanging in mid-air like Trotsky’s trousers. I asked the moderators to replace it, or risk making CiF a laughingstock, and that comment disappeared as well. The result leaves the warmists looking like Macbeth arguing with Banquo’s ghost, which is ok by me.

Apr 22, 2010 at 8:34 PM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

Geoff: yesterdays - 'Sceptic Alerts'

They do seem to aim at the tabloids - ie the main general public, I guess circulation of the Daily Mail is much higher than the Telegraph.

Daily Mail: Dinosaurs killed off by sudden drop in temperature - Daily Mail
Daily Mail: Deadly strain of airborne fungus spreading among healthy people and animals ... - Daily Mail
Guardian climate change: Grassroots summit calls for international climate court
Guardian climate change: Leaders' debate: Who gave the best answer on climate change?
Guardian climate change: Video: Evo Morales opens climate change conference in Tiquipaya
Daily Mail: General Election 2010: Nick Clegg has a lot of the elitist Westminster ... - Daily Mail
Guardian climate change: Election 2010: green groups demand change

Apr 24, 2010 at 9:22 PM | Unregistered Commenterbarry woods

Unbelievable, on so many levels.

To call your organisation CACC... you might as well call it KRAP, or ARZ or something. :) I mean it's just so inept. What a load of old cacc.

On a slightly more serious note, I do find this rather a fascinating insight in to alarmism. If the blogs and forums are dominated by sceptic thought, it's because there are an awful lot of well informed people around. And to try and counter that with a group of brown-shirts seems pretty desperate.

Apr 25, 2010 at 9:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

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