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Order of battle

Anthony has a interesting discussion thread, asking whether sceptics in the US need an organisation - like GWPF here in the UK - that can be the first port of call for those looking for a sceptic point of view.

People like Lewandowsky were able to make their claims stick because with climate skepticsm, it is all about that personal journey, there’s no organization, no policy statement, no cohesiveness of opinion that anyone can point to and say “this is what climate skeptics endorse”. While there’s strength in that heterogeneity, there’s also a weakness in that it allows people like Lewandowsky to brand climate skeptics as he sees fit.

So after some years of thinking about this, I’d like to ask this simple question:

Is it time for an “official” climate skeptics organization, one that produces a policy statement, issues press releases, and provides educational guidance?

Do we need a proper order of battle, or should we persist with guerilla warfare?

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Reader Comments (107)

Different stan here.

My answer -- hell no! Science by organization is a big part of the problem. Let everyone with evidence and theory present it all. An organizational statement, by necessity, excludes some. Screw that. If no one has a corner on the truth, no one needs to be excluding anything.

If I had to sign onto anyone's statements re: global warming, I would go with Robert G Brown of Duke. He makes a very, very persuasive case that we don't know an of the details we would need in order to understand how climate works and the current approach of the IPCC cannot work because it utterly fails to address the reality of the problem.

"Earth is a highly multivariate and chaotic driven/open system with complex nonlinear coupling between all of its many drivers, and with anything but a regular surface. If one tried to actually write “the” partial differential equation for the global climate system, it would be a set of coupled Navier-Stokes equations with unbelievably nasty nonlinear coupling terms — if one can actually include the physics of the water and carbon cycles in the N-S equations at all. It is, quite literally, the most difficult problem in mathematical physics we have ever attempted to solve or understand! Global Climate Models are children’s toys in comparison to the actual underlying complexity, especially when (as noted) the major drivers setting the baseline behavior are not well understood or quantitatively available."

Get the public (actually just a few honest scientists, assuming there are any) to understand how far off the IPCC is with regard to its approach to the problem and the game is over.

Apr 22, 2014 at 2:17 AM | Unregistered Commenterstan

Back to the original question
"Is it time for an “official” climate skeptics organization, one that produces a policy statement, issues press releases, and provides educational guidance?"
like in the UK, The Global Warming Policy Foundation

- I always think there should be careful thinking instead of kneejerk emotions
1 - There should not be a need for a campaign group for Climate Rationalism .. it should be part of the normal scientific process, however we have seen that exisiting organisations far from sticking up for science have allowed themselves to be infiltrated and taken over by activists i.e. The Royal Society, British Science Association etc. are all letting us down
2- It should also be part of the government process we all pay taxes after all ...but aswell those government bodies themselves ...are all letting us down
3- Consider other issues e.g. NIPCC, RSPCA , The Howard League
we do have charities and NGOs for other issues, presumabley cos the government was not seeming to do a good enough job on it's own. We dont have guerilla warfare against child abuse, or false imprisonment.
..Andwe don't say we'll look after the rights of children by writing individual letters.
- Can you think of another issue where people say "we shouldn't get together ?" ..promotions of maths, promotion of sportsman ship... no people generally get together. I agree with people should have got together to fight the Nazis.
3a - I note that the same common problem with such organisations is that a minority get control as they are not democratic.
3b Another downside is a million activists would target that org for blackmailing, manipulation etc.

4 - Also note the strongest point is it gives the media a GOTO source .. You know the media, rather than do the hard work of analysis they prefer to grab a soundbite off the shelf and have their headlines written for them.
However the reality is the activists have suceeded in marking GWPF and Heartland as dirty & radioactive so the media won't touch them. I generally support them both, but if they could reinforce their credibility by saying we have 50,000 members it would help.
5- I note Australia has a No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics The Climate Sceptics Party success are such parties in other countries ?

"Fossil fuel companies welcome? Or is the only funding from £10-20 subscriptions?
- that kills the dramagreens main smear

Apr 22, 2014 at 4:04 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Don't take it personally, but I'm taking your comment as typical of the majority opinion here.
I agree entirely with your position on the science, but when you say:

Get the public (actually just a few honest scientists, assuming there are any) to understand how far off the IPCC is with regard to its approach to the problem and the game is over.
I think you're betraying a kind of naivety which is typical of comments at BH. It's partly the attitude of scientifically trained people who tend to believe that once you've pointed out that something is false, the problem is solved, and partly the blindness of libertarians who believe (more or less) in Mrs Thatcher's precept that “there is no such thing as society”, and therefore can't accept the existence of social facts, of ideologies and beliefs that have their own existence independently of the rational assessment of what is the case.
It's not enough to say: “Ho ho, 'the Madness of Crowds', it will all blow away in the clear light of reason”. That's not the way the world works. That's why we need social scientists and historians and stand up comics on our side as well as scientists and economists.
When I argue here for a society, an association, a band of blood brothers or whatever to stand up and say to the BBC: “We are many. We count. You can't ignore us” I feel I'm up against the same kind of off-topic opposition all we sceptics experience arguing with warmists. There's an ideology around that says: I'm an atom with maybe an electron or two to spare, but I'm not forming a molecule with the first electron-lacking atom that comes along for anyone”.
There are situations where such an attitude is admirable, and advantageous. There are also situations where it's suicidal. The Roman Phalanx didn't conquer Europe on the basis that “this is my shield, and I'll use it to protect yours truly”. They stuck their shields together and advanced, all over Europe (well, not into Scotland, but no-one's perfect).

Apr 22, 2014 at 11:19 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers


Don't take it personally, but I'm taking your comment as typical of the majority opinion here.

By 'here' do you include those that read but not write?


"Fossil fuel companies welcome? Or is the only funding from £10-20 subscriptions?
- that kills the dramagreens main smear

I think this deserves a lot of attention. Thanks for the thoughtful feedback.

Apr 23, 2014 at 2:20 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Geoff, I've supported you on this point before and do so again. Skeptics will be much more powerful if we get organised and present a united front on a core set of beliefs. There is a tendency on here to believe that since we don't agree on everything it means we don't agree on anything. I believe that we could define a core set of positive beliefs (things we do believe in) and also a set of core counter-arguments against common misrepresentations. E.g., the science is not settled. 97% doesn't mean what you think it means. Skeptics are not funded by big oil. Models carry great uncertainties. The dangers of groupthink.

Re the branding; no disrespect to our gracious host, but "Bishop Hill Society" won't mean anything to Joe Public. I think any such society or association needs to have a short, meaningful name which is positive about our intent. A website should be separate and if we wish general members of the public to read it then it needs to be designed in some logical format (e.g. around key arguments and talking points) rather than as a blog.

Look at it this way: if you were a reporter on a science or environment desk, where would you turn to for an overview of the key skeptical arguments? Valuable as the existing blogs are, they are preaching to the converted, and often go into minutiae on arguments a casual observer will not understand. The comments are often full of "piling on" and can become personal. The public face of a movement must be quite different in both content and tone.

We could use such an association to argue for a real, public debate. We could prepare press releases about key topics and use these to educate the MSM. Press releases are easy copy; at the moment we are asking them to do all the work!

I have also left a comment on your blog. Feel free to get in touch to see if we can find some common ground.

Apr 23, 2014 at 7:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Brady

John Brady
Some excellent points. Sorry I missed your comment at
I'll reply in detail there. I'm off line for a couple of weeks, but feel free to comment there anyone.

Apr 24, 2014 at 3:59 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

The WUWT poll closed showing 63% in favour yesterday and Anthony commenting:

I’ve closed the poll with a count of 2701 votes. While there was a clearly decisive result, there were over 440 comments on the thread, many of which argued for “no”.

This at once shows the limitations for me of even the best climate blogs. Anthony quotes Pointman:

Any scattered and disparate opposition to an unjust law, policy or controversial issue which doesn’t get organised under some umbrella organisation is not only politically naïve but a consequently weak faction which doesn’t need to be taken seriously. More often than not, they’re comfortable in their armchairs living in their own deluded and secluded cloud cuckoo land.

After that the writer tells us how he really feels. I agree. I hope Watts makes some smart and decisive moves from here. I'd be happy with a UK grass roots org as well, however named, but might it be wise to see what arises from the WUWT threads first?

Apr 26, 2014 at 2:19 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

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