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Discussion > Is the climate skeptic community too fragmented to be effective?


Now come on mate, if I never read anything I thought was cranky then I would never read any of your posts. Indulge me and read the experiment ^.^
I knew the WUWT thing would be at my expense.

Nov 23, 2012 at 3:10 AM | Registered CommenterDung

Glad you found it funny Dung, as intended. I think it's very funny, and hope others do as well. Never knew that AW had such a refined comedic instinct.

The thing is BB, that one can accept the GHE physics while still questioning the net result of the anthropogenic CO2 fraction, what with all the complicated 'forcings and feedbacks' so beloved by warmist climatologists.

Anthony's comment also illustrates that honest and even vehement differences of opinion on the science are a routine feature of our side of the debate, as opposed to the alarmists' attempts to construct a monolith that can't be questioned. That is not science. Many good scientists like Robert Brown, Jonathan Jones, Don Keiller, Judith Curry and Richard Betts (who is constrained by his circumstances as a civil servant) know that it is not scientific for CAGW to be presented as a fact when it so clearly is not.

Sometimes to get the message across to the general populace and to politicians it is simply a matter of presentation; we need to find some eminent and respected scientists who are also natural and appealing communicators of science in the mass media, someone like Richard Feynman. That is not an easy ask, as such people are rare and the biased MSM is unlikely to promote them, but I suspect it will happen sooner or later.

Nov 23, 2012 at 7:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

Dung (9:47PM) is right - sceptics like to think for themselves rather than follow an authoritative line, and this is one of the reasons why there is no real organisation. It's also why a sceptic wiki is unlikely to be successful - people would end up arguing and edit-warring like at wikipedia.
In fact (Chris M) the Lucy Skywalker climate wiki is out there on the internet but it's so bad (hardly any content) that it doesn't deserve a link. So if anyone thinks this is a good idea, it's in need of material. There's also a Heartland institute climate sceptic wiki which is not much better.

Nov 23, 2012 at 9:17 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

"Yes, I noticed it but didn't bother reading it. I considered it pretty cranky. There is a good Wiki page on the effect and SoD also covers it"

Well, BB, you had the answer all aloong and you didn't think to help, instead letting that thread go on for 180 comments and get nowhere. Please select the best explanation you know of that links radiative absorption to increased temperatures with supporting empirical results and no leaps of logic. Or the lab experiment that shows absorption leading to measurable temperature increase of anything which can be shown to vary according to the concentration of any gas. Because if the theory is true (and I have no reason to doubt it, I just seek confirmation) the supporting proof will be available.

Nov 23, 2012 at 11:27 AM | Registered Commenterrhoda

Rhoda, you are asking the wrong person. The blog's favorite physicist and scientist, Prof Jonathan Jones, must be the person for the job. Strange that he didn't pop up on your thread to discuss it with you all.

On seeing things vary according to the concentration of a gas, do you mean to imply that some (any) observable effect of a gas might be independent of the concentration of that gas? That really would be remarkable!

Nov 23, 2012 at 1:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Measurements of its molecular magnetic moment?

Nov 23, 2012 at 1:38 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I don't really know what that is, but it sounds more like a property of a gas than an observable effect. What is the effect of any particular molecular magnetic moment and are you saying that the effect of the magnetic moment of one molecule of a gas is the same as the effect of the magnetic moment of ten (or of 100, 1000 etc) molecules of that gas?

Nov 23, 2012 at 2:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Well I admit it's an attempt at a debating point rather than a useful comment on my part. I just like to try to come up with counter examples to assertions that people have made. Sometimes, they really are useful counter examples that demand a re-analysis, sometimes they are a bit forced. The latter perhaps, in this case.

But if you had an instrument for measuring molecular magnetic moment you'd hope that the number on its display indicated the magnetic moment of the gas's molecules and did not also depend on other factors.

The number on its display would be an observable effect of the gas - it is an effect because it depends on what the gas is and it is something you can observe.

Nov 23, 2012 at 8:36 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Paul, thanks for the info about the wikis; it saves me the trouble of even looking them up. I guess the point is that unless a wiki, central database or similar is done really well and professionally, it's not worth doing at all. A high-standard wiki implies a group of expert and dedicated site-keepers, which would be preferably based in an academic institution. But where would the funding for that come from? Otherwise it could work if supervised by retired scientists and/or working ones who volunteer some of their spare time, not a very likely scenario I would think.

Conversely any amateurish and half-baked individual efforts to provide an information resource may be counterproductive and diminish the credibility of the skeptic case. As things stand I suppose the best the skeptic blogosphere can hope for is to be a source of information, controversy and ideas that are brought to the attention of the general public by people like Delingpole and Booker.

From a couple of casual conversations I've had with educated younger people at work, it seems that there is indeed an awareness that something is not right about the official line on climate change, so however the corrective info is percolating out, it is happening, encouragingly.

Nov 23, 2012 at 8:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

Martin, interesting. Are you saying that, given an instrument of sufficient sensitivity, the reading would be the same for one molecule as for many molecules of the gas? Or do these moments cancel each other out? If they don't cancel, does that imply some sort of alignment of gas molecules? That, to my naive world view, really would seem remarkable!

Chris, doesn't that failure to create a sceptic wiki tell you something? And if the public has to rely on those serial misleaders, Booker and Delingpole, they are surely in trouble.

Nov 23, 2012 at 10:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Yes, because it's a property of the molecule. Like molecular weight is a property of the molecule.

Nov 23, 2012 at 11:01 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Chris, doesn't that failure to create a sceptic wiki tell you something? And if the public has to rely on those serial misleaders, Booker and Delingpole, they are surely in trouble.

BB, all it tells me is that the resources and enthusiasm aren't available for a wiki to be developed. And a lack of enthusiasm could be related to a lack of perception of need. A wiki is just one way to make information accessible; there are various alternatives.

Your opinion about Booker and Delingpole is just that, an opinion. I don't know much about Christopher Booker's assertions about white asbestos, but on my understanding blue asbestos is biologically more hazardous; he seems to be making a point about exaggerated perceptions of risk. James Delingpole isn't everyone's cup of tea and his writing can be polemical at times, but polemicism can be an effective way of getting a message across; sometimes in a debate there is no common ground to be found if the other side is spouting nonsense.

The point I would make is that you don't have to like Booker or Delingpole, or agree with their opinions on every subject, for their opinions on AGW and related policy to still have merit. If theirs is the better evidence-based argument, it should prevail in the end.

Nov 24, 2012 at 12:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

everyone is so patient with the bucket without a brain

Nov 24, 2012 at 12:45 AM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Chris, if I believed everything sceptics say I would have to believe that there are many thousands of climate and other scientists who support the sceptic cause. These are just the people one would expect to have the knowledge and fervour (they are angry at having to toe the line, aren't they) to create a wiki. And yet somehow they can't manage to combine their sceptical wisdom into a coherent whole, or even half. That tells me that the idea of these nameless legions of sceptic boffins is bunkum.

Delingpole is a highly accomplished self-publicist. He pushes all the right buttons for certain people but he knows nothing. I doubt he believes anything he says - its just about selling Delingpole. On Booker, "The Patron Saint of Charlatans", as Monbiot calls him, I wouldn't believe anything he writes.

Nov 24, 2012 at 2:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Nov 23, 2012 at 9:17 AM | Paul Matthews

Dung (9:47PM) is right - sceptics like to think for themselves rather than follow an authoritative line, and this is one of the reasons why there is no real organisation. It's also why a sceptic wiki is unlikely to be successful - people would end up arguing and edit-warring like at wikipedia. [emphasis added -hro]

Indeed. Skeptics (or sceptics if you insist) do like to think for themselves; and this, I believe, is what unites us (to the very limited extent that we can be "united"). And I don't believe we need a wiki, either (although when Lucy first embarked on this project, not too long after CG1, I thought it was a good idea).

And my guess would be that one other item we probably have in common is a recognition that the case for CO2 as "primary cause" of whatever warming may (or may not) be occurring is not one that has been empirically addressed by any of "the science" - peer-reviewed or otherwise. Rather it has wafted to the pinnacle of guilt in the eyes and ears of the Uninformed Layperson while being deliberately - if not deceptively - shrouded in the fog of "greenhouse gas emissions".

That the IPCC and its various and sundry United Nations' parents, siblings and offspring do bear considerable responsibility for this "foggy solution to the climate question" I think is also something on which we can, for the most part, agree.

That the mainstream media mavens have done more than their fair share of ensuring that the fog is never lifted may well be another area of agreement.

All of the above being said, I do believe we have come a long way in the past three years. To which I would add - especially for any lurking newcomers - that there are some very useful resources available for those who like to think for themselves.

Not the least of which (although I suspect he is far too modest to mention it!) - considering the key role of the IPCC's "climate bible" in generating and perpetuating the "fog" - is PaulM's IPCC Criticism.

One other resource for those who like to think for themselves is one in which I (with no modesty whatsoever!) am proud to have played a small part in developing. And this is Peter Bobroff's AccessIPCC aka FAR_OUT (Fourth Assessment Report -Objectively Uniformly Tagged). Introduction here and "tutorial" here.

Which reminds me ... there's another related project/resource that Peter is working on (although it is not yet ready for prime-time, so I can't provide any links at the moment). It expands the relationships we've identified in AccessIPCC to those that tie in with the UNEP's maze ... and much, much more!

Nov 24, 2012 at 3:07 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

A more important reason not to have a "deniers" wiki is that there is really nothing to put in it. What we discuss is largely negative, things that tend to prove that the other side is wrong (and I do believe they are wrong). However we dont have a "right" to put in its place. I read papers that reinforce my belief that CO2 is not the cause of warming and that warming is not dangerous anyway. I read other papers that tell me the world is not warming at all and UHIs are inflating the temperature records.
However there is no overarching new paradigm to put in place and to which we can all subscribe. The truth has always been that we just dont yet understand enough about how our climate works to be able to make a valid prediction about future climate changes.
We are a diverse group of people who have diverse reasons for believing that man is not likely to cause CAGW any time soon or even at all. We are not a group of people who have agreed on a theory about why climate changed in the past and how it will change in the future. We are deniers not prophets.

Nov 24, 2012 at 3:35 AM | Registered CommenterDung

Hilary, thanks very much for those links, which I was not aware of before. In particular PaulM's (I'm assuming you mean Paul Matthews) IPCC criticism is an excellent, concise and easily accessible resource, which deserves far wider promulgation. Looks like he would be ideally suited to becoming the director of an independent information resource unit (not a wiki) based at his university!

Nov 24, 2012 at 6:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

Nov 24, 2012 at 6:53 AM | Chris M

You're welcome. I'm sure that it will come as no surprise to you to learn that I am in violent agreement with your observations. With the notable exception that your:

(I'm assuming you mean Paul Matthews)

is way beyond my BigOil pay-grade to confirm or deny.

Nov 24, 2012 at 10:22 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

BB, you suggest I ask Jonathan Jones. I have done so, face to face. He can't answer it in terms I accept. Maybe that's because I'm stupid and he is too kind to say so, but there we are. In fact he puts all the claimed effects at too small to measure compared with the noise at any scale. And of course attempts to measure them via satellite and other means are under-funded. Apparently they can't just launch a satellite to answer my questions. So, can anybody link an effect that's too small to measure with a catatrophic outcome? I'd have thought there would be a standard of proof. Now, I can't get the logical chain from JJ, at least partly because he says (and if I have misunderstood I hope he'll correct me) that the signal really is dwarfed by the noise and won't amount to much.

I leave you with the thought that if nobody can answer a stupid question, maybe it ain't so stupid.

Nov 24, 2012 at 1:26 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

I don't think he would have described them as claimed effects.

Just because the system is noisy and difficult to measure doesn't prove that there is no change. Imagine you are in a lorry eating doughnuts on a bumpy road from Oxford to London. You are sitting on a measuring scale which is trying to weigh you to the nearest gram but because of the bumps the measurements are all over the place. By the time you reach London, there has been no conclusive determination of your weight, but the box of doughnuts is empty. Would you seriously claim not to weigh a box of doughnuts more than when you started out?

I don't know how JJ discussed measuring the effect, but I'm guessing that the reason it is "too small to be measured" is due to limitations on a practical experimental setup (practical size limits, duration limits).

Whether it is catastrophic or not is another issue from measuring the effect. Even a small effect can have a bad outcome. If you leave the bath running and the overflow pipe can take just a drip a minute less than the inflow, left long enough you will have a wet floor.

BTW, I don't think stupidity comes into it. It is more a matter of having the necessary accumulated knowledge and experience to be able to grasp what the physicist is saying. There are not many people who can explain something complicated from their profession work to a lay-person. The same problem exists in understanding climate science in general.

Nov 24, 2012 at 4:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Claimed is my word, not JJ's. And what if the doughnuts, or bits of them, are all over the floor. Or I've eaten them and puked them. That is the kind of thing I need to clarify. It is easy to see the seductive argument that energy in equals energy out so energy absorbed due to a change in the atmosphere must express itself as extra heat and be balanced by a rise in radiating temperature. Except maybe it is not so simple. Maybe when I am driving from Oxford to London the lorry drives five times around Headington roundabout before setting off down the A40. The same amount of lorry still gets to London, but it has been absorbed by the roundabout and re-radiated. How can we tell? A different mileage? Well, show me. That's all, show me. If you can't show me, and you tell me it is too difficult to show me, I am inclined to believe that the claim of dire consequences is not to be taken seriously.

i.e. Just because the energy/heat takes a different route doesn't mean it is all retained or that it can only balance via stefan-boltzman. If it really is, where is the measurement? And why does the failure of Harries et al to find the right numbers in CO2 absorption not count as worthy of further investigation? Because it would spoil the narrative?

Nov 24, 2012 at 4:27 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

I think the troll should go away now.

Nov 24, 2012 at 5:33 PM | Registered Commentershub

no such thing as a stupid question, only a stupid answer (you've had a few of those)
agree, an awful lot to skip without reading.


Nov 24, 2012 at 9:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

many thanks for the link to PaulM’s IPCC link
Paul Matthews (Nov 20, 2012 at 10:46 PM)
(are you the same PaulM? In which case, congratulations)

if we had some central organised data resource..
Alex Cull’s excellently organised
is a very useful source of transcripts of audio and video material, full of juicy quotes which would otherwise be lost to history.
Anyone can contribute. it takes time and patience to transcribe, but sometimes it pays off. Seeing stuff I transcribed quoted in books and articles makes me feel I haven’t been wasting my time.

Nov 25, 2012 at 1:54 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

PaulM and Paul Matthews are the same

Nov 25, 2012 at 3:29 PM | Registered Commentershub