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Walport at the GSC

Last night found me at Glasgow's Science Centre to listen to Mark Walport talking about climate change.

In common with so many of these kinds of talks this had something of the air of a sermon. Almost everybody in the congregation was already convinced of the case for radical decarbonisation, right from the greenhouse effect, through the models, to the impacts, the economics and the wisdom of covering the country in windfarms. Walport said little that would have raised them from their stupor. The exceptions were when he pointed out to a questioner from gas-fields of Falkirk that natural gas was probably a good idea in current circumstances and when he spoke of the importance of having a conversation about climate change in a liberal society. Many in the liberal intelligentsia are of course deeply opposed to conversations on the subject of climate, or at least to those involving sceptics.

It was only when I stuck up my hand and introduced myself that people seemed to rouse themselves from their slumbers. One audience member asked if they couldn't ask me some questions too, and it looked as though things might liven up, but unfortunately we ran out of time. Walport revealed that he was an occasional reader of BH and said it was good that I had come.

My question was about his description of Matt Ridley as "irrational" given the evidence in Tol's paper and the fact that the IPCC was about to confirm it. I could have pointed out that his own slides noted the positive effects on crop yields. His response - that there were all sorts of judgements involved in economic models - seemed to me to avoid the point and I pressed him, but I could only get something rather vague about his having said that it was Matt's optimism that was irrational. Having reread the transcript, I'm not convinced this is this is the impression people would have taken away.

We had a brief chat afterwards and were joined by Muffy Calder, the Scottish Government's chief scientist, before the bigwigs were whisked away. I think it's better to treat such conversations as confidential, although I think it will be OK if I reveal that Walport thought that I could moderate the discussion threads at BH a bit harder. It's perhaps worthwhile for readers who like to vent their spleen in the comments to note this and to consider whether such remarks are helping or hindering.

I'll return to the specifics of Walport's talk in another post.

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Reader Comments (60)

Encouraging to see that if we remain calm, polite and rational they have no way of avoiding debating us.
It seems to me that they look for any excuse they can get to avoid debate so that is one avenue we can close down for them.

Mar 15, 2014 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterKeith L

"consider whether such remarks are helping or hindering"

It may indeed be unhelpful to conclude that Walport - at least in his recent performance before Yeo's committee - came across as an unbearably smug and arrogant little man, entirely convinced of his inalienable right to lecture us plebs based on his scant twelve months'-worth of reading up on global warming.

So I won't.

Mar 15, 2014 at 11:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterJerryM

I think much of the spleen venting evident in BH discussions is due to the frustration at the alarmists' refusal to engage in proper debate. Any true scientist welcomes debate and, as the scientific method demands, should be the one most critical of their own theories. Many in the alarmist camp claim the science as their own whilst refusing to engage with anyone in disagreement. This is really pseudo/post-modern science, call it what you like, but it isn't the science that has improved the human condition so markedly over the last few centuries.

If I came up with what I thought was a cast-iron theory, backed up by masses of empirical data, that had huge implications for the future of mankind I would relish every opportunity to take on the dissenters and prove them wrong.

Mar 15, 2014 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

Moderation of discussion threads.

My personal view is that you shouldn't.

1. It's time consuming, and you've more-productive things to do.

2. It requires continuous monitoring, so a team of trusted moderators will be required.

3. Your audience is adult enough to ignore really contentious comments.

4. The targets of contentious comments must realise they have no right to be not offended.

5. Comments awaiting moderation then appear out-of-sequence within a discussion thread.

6. IANAL, but if you have a Moderation Policy and a really 'contentious comment' slips through accidentally, will you have a 'legal responsibility'?

Mar 15, 2014 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

So Walport doesn't want 'controversy', which apparently means anybody stating he is pushing irretrievably fake fizzicks. if so, he is behaving unprofessionally defined as not having personally established the veracity of all the claimed science back to observational fact.

This view of science, dating back to al-Hassan Ibn al-Haytham, 700 years before Newton, would have stopped this scam 33 years' ago when Hansen and his team did their 33 K GHE finesse.

Mar 15, 2014 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpartacusisfree

I am willing to try sweetness and light more. I wonder about sincerity. however, unless I missed the part where Mr. Walport called on fellow AGW believers to stop calling for the censoring and suppression of skeptics?

Mar 15, 2014 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

By all means moderate for off-topic and for defamation where you might be legally exposed. If you were to moderate for politeness it would get in the way.

(They aren't polite to us.)

Mar 15, 2014 at 12:38 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

Walport thought that I could moderate the discussion threads at BH a bit harder.

Did he mean the kind of 'moderation' that involves a 3am visit from Special Branch?

Mar 15, 2014 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterJake Haye

Coming from someone who advises those who do not follow the party line to 'grow up' and refers to the extremely well-mannered Lord Ridley as 'irrational', he has somewhat of a cheek to upbraid posters on here, who are generally far more polite than those who would agree with his position.
Perhaps, like others who share his opinions, he would do better to address the arguments which are clearly laid out on this blog, rather than appeals to censor comment to indulge his unjustified and thin-skinned neuroses.

Mar 15, 2014 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered Commenterlindzen4pm

"...Walport thought that I could moderate the discussion threads at BH a bit harder."

Yeah I bet he did.

I don't kowtow to people who have blood on their hands, by their actions and support.

Mar 15, 2014 at 12:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterRightwinggit

The Bish asked us to consider:

whether such remarks are helping or hindering.

I'm sure we all have been considering this. For me it is certainly the key question.

The fact that we've begun with ten disparaging remarks about Walport, particularly his (very briefly reported) thoughts about Bishop Hill, which I'm delighted to hear he reads (as I'm sure we all are), is no doubt concurrent with earnest self-examination prompted by the host's gentle probing. It's just that we haven't got round to expressing that part yet. :)

Mar 15, 2014 at 12:59 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

One thing that is certainly true of Skeptical Science: "ALL GOOD THINGS IN MODERATION - and likely to stay there, permanently."

Of course my gut liberal-libertarian response begins "PAH!!!" I'd rather not see moderation here because moderation negates honest interaction. If you spirit away, conceal or otherwise interfere with the stream of consciousness that is a BH comment thread, it ceases to be the thing it appears to be and becomes a hand-fashioned illusion instead. I think it's important, when it is so important to us sceptics, to maintain an entirely warts'n'all honest representation of what is said.

If you take what Walport says on an alternative level, certainly there is an argument for in-line self-moderation. I'm sure it isn't just Walport who peruses these comment pages, and what we say, whether in passing or, more damagingly, in the heat of the moment, becomes set in stone in the space of 15 minutes. That's not necessarily always a good thing.

Mar 15, 2014 at 1:03 PM | Registered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

Mar 15, 2014 at 12:59 PM | Richard Drake

'...The fact that we've begun with ten disparaging remarks about Walport...'

Would you mind self-moderating that to 9 as I wasn't being disparaging about Mr Walport.



Mar 15, 2014 at 1:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

Perhaps His Grace should have offered Walport a deal?

If he and his associates stop calling us "deniers" then we will begin to moderate our language, too.

Mar 15, 2014 at 1:23 PM | Unregistered Commentergraphicconception

Steve Jones: Quite right, I stand corrected. Nine disparaging remarks about Walport it is! And, despite the light-hearted nature of my post, I'm sure we will consider the issue the Bish raises.

Mar 15, 2014 at 1:28 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Ah, you see. It's the sceptics fault again!

They're so boorish and unscientific with their polite and rational questions.

Mar 15, 2014 at 1:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterOutDoorRink

There is a related twitter tag #cctalks for those who are into that sort of thing. This suggests that he employed Hansen's grandchildren rhetoric, and said there wasn't a pause in warming. But we should probably wait for Andrew's detailed report before passing judgement.

Mar 15, 2014 at 2:13 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

I did not disparage Mr. Walport. I asked a question. Properly punctuated it is:
"I wonder about his sincerity, however, unless I missed the part where Mr. Walport called on fellow AGW believers to stop calling for the censoring and suppression of skeptics?"
A first good step in a thoughtful discussion would be to agree to have one.
You cannot have a good discussion if one side refuses to admit that the other side may have some good points to offer, and might very well be operating under honorable motives. So far, AGW opinion leaders, whether scientist, social studies, public relations or politician or activist seem to go our of their way to ignore, berate and refuse to meet with skeptics publicly, much less debate openly.
The Royal Society's recent discussion, kept secret by their demands, comes to mind.
Is Mr. Walport willing to point out the fallacies in those AGW believer positions and is he willing to set an example of how to do it right?

Mar 15, 2014 at 3:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

The blog has changed, is changing... will change.

Is Walport offering the equivalent of a Knighthood and a chance to have sherry with Sir Humphrey? Proximity to power is always corrupting.

It is BH's decision how he moderates. CAGW scepticism is anti-establishment and will continue to be so.

If he steps closer for acceptance then the voices that the establishment want's silenced here will find other forums. And this blog will change.

Difficult decision, reputation though is difficult to build and easy to lose.

In whose eyes is this sites reputation important?

Mar 15, 2014 at 4:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

Readers of blogs need to separate what is said in comments from what is written in the post.

"The opinions expressed by commenters are their own and do not necessarily represent those of the blogger."

Mar 15, 2014 at 4:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpeed

Walport? Walport feels he is qualified to suggest to you that you don't moderate hard enough?

a) He is giving the old British blue blood pep talk. e.g. Chin up. Tighten your belt. Suck it up, man!
usually given by a behind the front line higher officer who has no clue who he is talking to nor what their qualifications are nor the experience they carry. This kind of pep talk usually ends with something like; "Over the top men! Give them the bayonet and they'll crumble.

b) Walport, as he did with Ridley, has a fall back meaning that he wants you to moderate false optimism; i.e. he thinks your skeptics are too happy.

Mar 15, 2014 at 4:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterATheoK

I would strongly recommend that Mark Walport spends a useful hour reading through the transcript of the recent APS review available on its website. It is a remarkable document and may give him a better idea of why sceptics are sceptical.

Mar 15, 2014 at 5:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul_K

Perhaps he meant that you, Bishop, should moderate what you write, having called him ignorant in one of your latest outbursts. I think he would be justified in calling those here ignorant and in calling Ridley irrational if they base their opinions of future effects of climate change on Tol's study (hint, take out Tol's own 2002 study from the data and see what sort of curve you get).

Jiminy Cricket:

> In whose eyes is this sites reputation important?

In the Bishop's eyes, I would guess. When he said, "It's perhaps worthwhile for readers who like to vent their spleen in the comments to note this and to consider whether such remarks are helping or hindering." he was politely asking you to refrain.

Mar 15, 2014 at 5:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterChandra

Maybe wally would like to moderate his fellow travellers who regularly predict doom, and demand more money whilst calling others every name under the sun.

Oh no that would be too much to ask.

Mar 15, 2014 at 5:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndy

This blog is hardly a bear pit. If Walport prefers to engage in complaint about some perceived lack of civility, rather than defend his position like a proper scientist, it is hard to see why his remark should be taken seriously. One of the glories of the Internet is that we no longer have to sit mute while being lectured to by our 'betters'. Clearly, this novelty makes some of them very uncomfortable.

Mar 15, 2014 at 5:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterUncle Badger

Thank you Chandra. Wise words from a wise man. Perhaps he was. Perhaps he was, indeed. I look forward to all your future insights.

Mar 15, 2014 at 5:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

It is not clear to me how Walport sees his rôle. Is it one of giving genuinely independent advice to government ministers and departments? Or is it taking instructions about what the policy is, and providing 'backup' by attempting to pour oil on troubled waters (if you'll excuse the analogy) ?

I would like to see more sign that he actually looks at the evidence for himself, and doesn't work with materiel that might just be supplied direct from the Met Office or Ed Davey's department for the 'war against sceptics'. Perhaps the Bish could send his next Christmas card to Sir Mark with a depiction of one of the satellite temperature records on the front?

Mar 15, 2014 at 6:17 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Perhaps if he demonstrated, by his own words and actions towards skeptics, how he would like skeptics to behave towards him we would have a better idea of what he is after.

Mar 15, 2014 at 6:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Science is about the scientific method. No where in the scientific method does it state one should be "nice" or "civil" or anything along that line. Giant egos when rammed hard by facts cause massive butthurt... of which no scientist should care. No matter how big the douche-bag stating the argument, no matter how offensively presented the argument maybe, a true scientist reviews the facts presented... not the tone of the pretension/presenter/etc.

The argument of supposedly being civil is anti-science and falls into 2 main logical fallacies. The fallacy of the appeal to authority such that "so those that refuse to obey the rules set forth by "higher learning" colleges and so forth are worth nothing and should be simply disregarded". This fallacy is also why they try to marginalize us by calling us as fringe no nothings, deniers, etc.

The fallacy of consensus where as "everyone else is doing it this way because we wish to rule thus you will do it this way as well".

Those that have giant ego, who get let emotions be more important then facts are not scientists period. If i wish to call mann and his crew outright liars, scam artists, and frauds they would cry because its the truth. They would rather have words like "possibly not including all the facts, not fully researched and misapplication of funds used to represent those claims.

One of the reasons appeals to authority work so well is because it forces the victims to play by the oppresses rules and thus making it near impossible to win any argument.

DO NOT fall into the traps of simple well known logical fallacies. Call a spade a spade and a religious cult worshiping nut-bag a religious cut worshiping nut-bag. If one refuses to state FACTS then one must in turn allow the other side and others watching the other side to believe that you don't believe in said facts.

AKA if you refuse to say that a scam artist is a scam artists, no one watching the argument will assume that the person is a scam artist.

The death cult of global warming uses this to win many passive and sound bite arguments.

AKA death cult member say "the deniers are evil and wish to destroy the world". To which a civil person would respond "We don't deny anything and we don't wish to destroy the world."

When someone sees this in short form they see 1 claim and 1 brush aside of the claim. The skeptic allows the authority of the death cult to remain intact and thus weakens the brush aside.

A scientist who is not "civil" would respond "We don't deny anything and we don't wish to destroy the world you are clearly lying."

This result is claim and counter claim forcing a sane person to review the facts themselves instead of quickly and easily falling into logical fallacies, or lack of interest. If skeptics continue to support actively or passively(aka refusing to call them frauds, lairs, etc) the idea that these "people" are simply slightly misguided with minor errors in calculation(a very civil way of putting it), at no point does the public, that tends to easily fall into logical fallacies take the time to research the subject. Your in effect not claiming they are really wrong. That is one of the problems with "civil" discourse. It heavily favors those in authority, consensus and so forth.

Mar 15, 2014 at 7:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterrobotech master

robotech master makes an excellent point.
The AGW true believers have gotten away with calling skeptics 'deniers', working in conspiracy, claiming we hate our children and grandchildren, of being terrorists, flat earthers, and much more. And Walport asks us to moderate ourselves?
Again: we can be more civil, but in no way should we tolerate any longer the AGW fanatics getting to control the terms of engagement. If they won't, we shouldn't.

Mar 15, 2014 at 7:42 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Whether Mr Walport thinks BH could moderate the discussions, I don't think he should do so. Here, it's a lot less "robust" (that word again), than in the Telegraph or Mail. As for addressing the opinions of CAGWarmists, I now just ask them to answer one question; what is the perfect global temperature for the planet?

Time is also on our collective side. It's getting colder & humanity will be lucky if the oncoming minimum lasts only 30-40 years.

In addition, there are the findings by the Right Stuff team, that curtailment of all US GHG emissions now can at most reduce GAST in 2100 by only 0.17o C. This would have absolutely no effect on whether the Greenland ice sheets ever melt or not!

Page 73 below.

It would be interesting to have Mr Walport's analysis of the whole of the above paper. Perhaps he''ll read my comment & respond?

Mar 15, 2014 at 8:01 PM | Registered Commenterperry

Seems the same as the one I went to in Bristol.
Got the first question, introducing myself as a headless chicken. He didn't really understand my question (the guy's a doctor). Like Andrew I found afterwards quite a few came up to me to hear more, plus of course a young climate modeller who treated me 'sweetly' (she was a lady) and implied, also very sweetly, that I was psychologically troubled. However two recent graduates from Exeter were much more receptive! .... sorry, back after short break to take my pills ... Wrote to Walport, no reply, wrote again saying I assumed his silence meant he agreed with me and could I quote him at a public talk I was giving that week as agreeing? Rapid reply - still muddled of course... wrote back, I still await...

Mar 15, 2014 at 8:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip Foster

if you want to understand the impression the tirades make, go to the Guardian and read their comments on the Lomborg thread.

Its pointless, self indulgent and contributes nothing. Should Andrew moderate it? Yes, probably. Get some sensible people in and be rigorous. Self indulgent ranting on the side of the angels that does not contribute to the debate needs to be binned.

No, its not free speech. Its trolling in the company of the like minded.

Mar 15, 2014 at 8:37 PM | Unregistered Commentermichel

michel - very noble but surely the sensible place to start is by asking the question: what will it achieve?

Would moderation of the type desired by Walport result in his participation and a willingness to engage with those who disagree with him?

Forgive my scepticism, but that level of superciliousness doesn't suggest he is seeking a debate.

So, why bother?

Mar 15, 2014 at 8:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterUncle Badger

I think Mr Walport could set a very good example by making an apology to Matt Ridley. Then perhaps we could all follow his lead.

Meeting people is often a good way of realising that they are human beings (and in my tradition I would add 'each made in the image of God') and whoever they are, whatever we think of what they do, or say, we owe them the common courtesy of humanity. In that sense I would concur with the Bishop's call for thinking before pressing the 'Post' button.

On the other hand, courtesy should not exclude passion. Many of us express on occasion anger, or frustration, or incredulty at the sheer madness of energy policy, or of it's effect on the poor and vulnerable; how can one not fume at the unmitigated greed of the slaverers at the fount of subsidy? When supposedly educated people resort to the tricks of the spin doctor, or, worse, hide behind the partial truths of the media mouthpiece are we not justified in shouting to the heavens for vengence? (Mike Jackson's made some corking posts in the last few days in this vein).

So, by all means rein in the invective, the rudeness, and common insult. But let the passion and exuberance continue to take flight and darken the skies above the Grantham Institutes in defence of science, and the poor, and the freedom to not be told what to believe.

Clearly Bishop Hill and his congregation are making waves. Let's keep those waves beating against the bending breakwaters of concensus.

Mar 15, 2014 at 8:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

I think it's important for skeptics to maintain a sense of perspective that the level of exposed fraud in climate “science” even in the very top journals is simply preposterous in a deep rabbit hole sense. The utter lack of trend change in the majority of both the oldest real thermometer and tide gauge records combined with the likes of the proxy re-dating Marcott 2013 hockey stick, I mean what other field of physical science would promote instead of condem alarmism based on simply ignoring clear falsification of a hypothesis?

One analogy was how Ancel Keys successfully promoted a single bummer cholesterol theory of heart disease that remains somewhat in vogue even today, decades later, despite never having earned real empirical support at all. If someone is willing to ignore the unretracted Marcott 2013 hockey stick fraud, then that person is himself a fraud, since there's just no blade in the input data, no math degree being required to debunk it.

Of course a political wonk will call for pacifism in his foes, claiming that would be more “helpful” which it certainly would be to his effort to marginalize skeptics. What's all this talk about being nice to clearly sociopathic bullies? When did that ever work out well in human history or on any playground?

Mar 15, 2014 at 9:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterNikFromNYC

". ...Walport revealed that he was an occasional reader of BH...."

Bish, I do trust Sir Mark is fully signed up and paying his monthly dues? If one uses a facility surely it is only right, even in polite, elite, society to contribute towards the upkeep? Also it would easily facilitate any comments Sir Mark feels necessary to counter those he considers should be "moderated".

Mar 15, 2014 at 9:38 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

If he posts here I am confident he will get civil but robust scientific dialogue, as befitting the complexity and contentious interpretation of climatic data.

Mar 15, 2014 at 10:33 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Tone Matters - the 'other side' know it.. always think of the audience...

John Cook:
"Dana, kudos for your efforts in the comments which are just as effective, I think, as your article, both in tone and content. I do believe what happens in the comments threads matters (and I hope to replace that 'belief' with knowledge based on empirical evidence later in the year after we've done experiments to test this theory).

The approach I always take when responding to comments is to always remind myself I'm not writing for the knucklehead I'm responding to but for the benefit of all the onlookers. So tone matters as much as content. Let the other guy get angry, post personal attacks, rant away. We have to be cool, calm, rational and show humor, not taking ourselves too seriously. Don't post as if you're trying to win a debate. Instead post like you're patiently trying to educate people - John Cook

"Thanks John. That's what I've been trying to do in comments recently - treat them as though I'm writing them for a third party's benefit. I got a little heated with the deniers over at NoTrickZone (bunch of dopes over there), and Rob H. gave me the good advice to treat comments that way. On my most recent comment I had to stop and take a deep breath before responding. Instead of pointing out that the Fred guy was being a lying prick, I managed to restrain myself and say his framing of the events in question were "borderline dishonest".

But since I don't have to worry about the third parties reading here, allow me to say that Fred is a lying prick." - Dana


"CMGreenich comment was quickly removed by the Guardian moderators. It seems the deniers have grown tired of trying to defend Lindzen, and are now almost exclusively on the attack against me, John, and SkS. But the moderators are taking care of them quite nicely." - Dana

from: (see unthreaded for the rest)

Mar 15, 2014 at 10:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Tone Matters - the 'other side' know it.. always think of the audience...[...]

Mar 15, 2014 at 10:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Its important to note for this its really more them waking up to the fact that running logical fallacies is slowly not having the effect it once did. They must start to behavior in a non-activist fashion at least in formal environments now. The fact that they keep getting proven as activists instead of scientists has taken hold.

They are only being nice because of this and because they have no facts to back up the arguments they make. People tend to believe a finely written lie over a blunt proven fact when only taking a "glancing" interest in the topic.

Its also why you see so many people who were believers convert into non-believers once they have done real research on the topic.

Being nice to them only makes it seem like they argued in "good faith" in the past and present. One must rebut the wild claims they make first and foremost, and in a blunt and straight forward language ie they must be called out as liars, thieves, scam artists, etc.

You'll also note that as the "vast rightwing conspiracy" has been more forceful, blunt and open in directly confronting the lies, they in turn have been forced to be much nicer... it is a direct relationship that one. The more forceful and bluntly we point out the lies, cheating, scamming, etc,. the more they must fall back on the "but we're being nice card" which is a generally horribly weak card even when your in the authority/consensus.

Being nice is not a winning tactic, not in war, not in science, not in propaganda. In many respects being nice can be considered a lie in itself.

Mar 15, 2014 at 11:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterrobotech master

Further to previous :-

" to contribute towards the upkeep?"

Sorry Bish, I should mention recognition of your research, the subsequent expertise and ongoing comprehension of this multifaceted homo sapiens foible

Mar 15, 2014 at 11:24 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

I'm not a Bible-basher, but I seem to recall a passage about motes and beams that Sir Mark might care to consider. If he thinks the discussions here are ill-mannered, he clearly doesn't get out much.

Mar 15, 2014 at 11:58 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Mar 15, 2014 at 12:59 PM | CommenterRichard Drake

[ ... ] I'm delighted to hear he reads (as I'm sure we all are), is no doubt concurrent with earnest self-examination prompted by the host's gentle probing. [ ... ]

There are many here that would like to probe Mark Walport ... some gently and other perhaps not, but not in a fashion describable here. ;)

Mar 16, 2014 at 12:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterStreetcred

Typo: single bummer theory → single bullet theory

Mar 16, 2014 at 1:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterNikFromNYC

It's a bummer of a theory too though.

Mar 16, 2014 at 4:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Cruickshank

All debate, polite or heated, is fundamental to the scientific method. Attacking the person and not the facts of the debate, from either side, is not helpful to a any discussion. Censorship of comments based on the facts of a discussion subject, no matter how heated, is wrong.

If there is debate, the science is not settled. If any scientific fact is not debated, there is no future.

Mar 16, 2014 at 6:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeilC

So let me get this right. A person who claims to occasionally read here and who never comments says he wants the rules changed. So that he can participate? Let him start his own blog with his own rules, or come here and try to change the culture he finds so upsetting.

He might be able to explain his first slide, where he repeats the 30C of the temp of the Earth contributed by greenhouse gases, despite that one having been blown away by everyone from NASA to an Oxfordshire housewife.

Mar 16, 2014 at 8:41 AM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda


So let me get this right.

I'm not sure you have.

Would the Bish have passed on this part of his conversation with Mark Walport if he (who was actually there) felt that this was a self-serving and lofty dictat from someone wholly unfriendly to us about how this blog could be most effective? For myself, on reading the main post I answered that question in the negative and that has governed my attitude ever since.

What we can also I think read into the Bish's original - and many other words he has written - is that there is injustice in the climate debate and its outworking, already, in policy. I would say very deep injustice. And that leads many here to be very angry. And in my book they're absolutely right to be angry. However, let's keep our eye on the ball. The Bish's final comment went like this:

It's perhaps worthwhile for readers who like to vent their spleen in the comments to note this and to consider whether such remarks are helping or hindering.

I'm taking that to mean helping or hindering to reverse the many injustices of the climate scene. So here's my question. Even if it's right to feel angry about these injustices, and the role Mark Walport plays as chief scientific adviser in perpetuating them, is the following statement automatically true?

Any venting of the spleen, of any kind, on Bishop Hill, is not only justified and in line with precious principles of free speech, but is actively helping to reverse the injustices in the climate field.

Every single one of them. If so my job as a contributor here just got a whole lot easier. I can vent all I like and it all helps. Wonderfully convenient. But is it true? That seemed to be the question implicit in what our host chose to write.

Mar 16, 2014 at 11:43 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Sir Mark Walport has said nothing since taking over from Beddington to suggest he has any greater credibility than his unlamented predecessor on the issue of climate change. If he wishes to change that he could usefully respond to Dr Patrick Moore's recent testimony. For Walport's convenience, if he does read this blog, a short extract follows:

"There is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past 100 years. If there were such a proof it would be written down for all to see. No actual proof, as it is understood in science, exists.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states: “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”

“Extremely likely” is not a scientific term but rather a judgment, as in a court of law. The IPCC defines “extremely likely” as a “95-100% probability”. But upon further examination it is clear that these numbers are not the result of any mathematical calculation or statistical analysis. They have been “invented” as a construct within the IPCC report to express “expert judgment”, as determined by the IPCC contributors.

These judgments are based, almost entirely, on the results of sophisticated computer models designed to predict the future of global climate. As noted by many observers, including Dr. Freeman Dyson of the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies, a computer model is not a crystal ball. We may think it sophisticated, but we cannot predict the future with a computer model any more than we can make predictions with crystal balls, throwing bones, or by appealing to the Gods."

So just for starters, over to you, Sir Mark, to (1) tell us all what the missing scientific proof is, (2) tell us the scientific basis for the IPCC's claim of 'extremely likely', and (3) show us where the climate models have been validated in a way that applied scientists and engineers who use mathematical models for real-world problems understand by validation.

You might also ponder the anger many of us feel at having an insane and hugely expensive energy policy imposed on us on the basis of conjecture and hysterical group-think.

Mar 16, 2014 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

The warmies are obsessed with writing not to the 'knucklehead' commenter but the onlooker. Demagoguery.

Losing one's temper online has the same connotations as in real life - may convey passion (sometimes) but little else. Except, as opposed to speaking and shouting, you get to go back and read your own words preserved in written form.

A point, if I may make to Walport (and perhaps to internet newbies, though I have no indications that he is one), is that forums and blog comments are not written toward a specific broader message. As ever, it is a cacophony but of intelligent voices. There may be a desire to orchestrate the cacophony but it doesn't work that way.

Mar 16, 2014 at 12:02 PM | Registered Commentershub

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