Click images for more details



Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace

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

Having thought about this for some time, I would like to make a counter proposal ^.^. Something that is eminently achievable and which could be organised fairly rapidly.
A weekly news sheet(s) about all climate and energy issues. These sheets to be "inserted" into local papers or the new very local newsrags that have sprung up in small towns.
AW to be the editor, all BH and other known reliable climate bloggers to be free to submit articles to the Bish for inclusion.
The Bish or others to then email an issue to volunteers who would (after having negotiated with their local rag) print off and deliver them. I am sure some could be inserted free by volunteers or maybe there would be a charge and so we could talk about that internally.

It should of course be called BISHOP HILL

Nov 28, 2012 at 8:48 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Geoff, I don’t mind at all so long as BB answers a few questions.

I agree that there’s a lot of money-wasting in the pipeline and a huge machine bent on keeping the green money flowing but that’s not the same as actually reducing CO2. If BB genuinely cares about CAGW (and that is debateable) s/he should want real action on CO2 not green money grabbing.

There isn’t that much support for Green Peace in the UK if donated money is the measure. OK people vaguely support the idea of saving the planet but not when their lifestyle is at stake. WWF is much more popular but only because people perceive it as an animal charity. Christian Aid does well because people want to support the poor and suffering, not because they want to give up their 4X4. The top charities are to do with health and social issues which are likely to impact upon us all. Even support of the National Trust has more to do with a nice day out than keeping our soggy weather just the way it used to be. People are lying to themselves and opinion polls when they tick the box in belief of CAGW.

I’ve met people who smile smugly at me and try to debate AGW. If I want to shut them up, I just ask ‘what’s your carbon footprint?’ If I don’t, I just test their global warming knowledge and it always slithers into ‘97% of climate scientists agree…’ In other words, they really don’t know anything about AGW and don’t care either. Their support will only last until the costs are too painful and for many that point is already here. If the lights go out in a few years time, I’m not sure I’d like to be the energy minister in charge at the time, especially if s/he tries to blame it on AGW induced cold weather.

Weird weather only convinces people for a limited period, eventually becoming a whip used too many times. Councils have used it to excuse a lack of well maintained and sufficient drainage. Then they use the climate change induced cold as an excuse for potholes. Insurance companies use it as a reason why your premiums have to go up despite record profits. Builders and councils get away with sticking people on flood planes because they say they couldn’t foresee flooding. The examples of climate change cons are many and growing. Don’t you think the majority of people know or at least suspect it? If nothing else, they’ll get fed up with being the only CO2 reducing mug on the planet. Many out there are just waiting for the tools to reject climate hysteria.

I do agree that if we want the green money wasting machine to stop quicker we need to do something different. I also agree that the NGOs will rabidly try to defend their patch. Question is, can we be bothered and do we have the time? I'll take it as read that Dung has put 'no' to both of those ;-)

Nov 28, 2012 at 8:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Tiny, "Geoff, I don’t mind at all so long as BB answers a few questions." ... and the questions are...?

The only questions I can see are "Don’t you think the majority of people know or at least suspect it?", (answer: Note sure what 'it; is and I'm not the least bit interested in what the majority of people know or suspect about 'it') and "Question is, can we be bothered and do we have the time?", which seems to be addressed to S&D not to me (answer: I really don't care).

And from your previous post, there was: " you never answer the difficult questions." but it omits to say which difficult questions I never answer.

Nov 28, 2012 at 11:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket


I agree with most of what you say in the first half of your comment (Nov 28, 2012 at 8:04 PM) and disagree with most of what you say in the second half.

Something is already turning the tide in our favour without us getting organised, maybe it is simple things like word of mouth, maybe Lawson to Osborne, maybe Monckton to UKIP?
What has changed?
The EU has given the OK to shale.
The EU has said economic growth is now the priority not low carbon.
Our coalition has cut renewable subsidies and is going for shale.
Osborne has said that there will be no carbon reduction targets for the power industry.
UKIP is surging in the polls and their energy policy is bang on.

I said in my very first comment on this thread that, based on my own personal experience, I thought scepticism was growing. Geoff suggests that it’s more a case of growing confusion and he may well be right. However, isn’t confusion itself a form of scepticism? Or at least the seed of it? You make good points about people with the ear of those in positions of power and the growing recognition that economic reality is forcing a rethink on carbon targets. It will be interesting to see how the Ukip situation develops over the coming months.

I am not in favour of and maybe would not join a sceptic organisation even if one was formed but I also believe that events have overtaken its possible relevance.
I was sad to see someone talking about this possible organisation being a sort of broad church containing many views. That sort of opinion smacks of the current political corruption....come on folks dont worry if you dont agree, just shut up and get elected, sorry that is not for me.

Again, I said in my first comment that I wasn’t sure an organised form of scepticism was needed. Having said that, I would certainly support such an alliance if one could be formed. It might just help shorten what will undoubtedly still be a long, drawn out battle, who‘s to know? It might be fun too, if only to watch the usual suspects turn purple with rage at the sheer cheek of them wacko denialists organising such a thing.
The “broad church” comment you refer to was probably mine. Any coming together of a group of individuals will necessarily involve a varying range of views. This is a good thing. It helps to ensure a balanced outcome when policy and aims are decided. The only reason this hasn’t worked that well in, for instance, the present government, is that our current bunch of politicians, with one or two exceptions, are so uniformly incompetent. The alternative, where everybody follows a particular ideal, with no dissent, means ending up with organisations like the BBC. I’m sure you wouldn’t want that ;-)

Nov 29, 2012 at 12:14 AM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs


I have survived in a highly competetive sales organisation for 35 years by ignoring the company line and telling customers the truth (well at least never lying). If a sceptic organisation is created and some kind of "structure" is put in place then at some point the foot soldiers will be told what to say or what not to say and I will never accept that. However within BH I sense that most people are like that; they all think for themselves, hardly any of them would accept "a party line". An organisation populated by people who all have their own agendas is not a good idea.

Nov 29, 2012 at 1:25 AM | Registered CommenterDung

You make good points about people with the ear of those in positions of power and the growing recognition that economic reality is forcing a rethink on carbon targets.

The way the story's playing out, one could be excused for thinking that the whole climate thing is an elaborate hoax by fossil fuel scam artists who wanted to promote gas and create a market for it over the cheaper coal. Who in their right mind would shift over to a more expensive source of energy and feel not just good but relieved about it?

Nov 29, 2012 at 7:36 AM | Registered Commentershub


I sympathise with your fears regarding everyone being expected to toe a certain party line and I agree that you should neither expect nor get that kind of forced obedience from a bunch of cantankerous deniers. I don’t think it would be necessary to go that far though. I don’t see that the kind of organisation that people here are proposing would become the sole source of authority regarding what sceptics should and shouldn’t say. Rather, it would just be an added tool in the box. It wouldn’t need to diminish the prominence or effect of blogs such as this one here at the Bish’s, however limited that might or might not be. Nor would it need to diminish the sense of community spirit one often finds in such places. As much as I admire the GWPF for what it is trying to do, it has to be said that it often misses opportunities. Whilst you are undoubtedly right in assuming Lawson still has clout in the corridors of power, he doesn’t have the same kind of clout with the MSM. To many of them, the GWPF is either just a Lawson vanity project or a front covering his obvious right wing/corporate ulterior motives. I’ve been watching Ukip for the past few years and they could well become a force to be reckoned with in the coming decade or two. I think they made a mistake in bringing Monckton on board though. Whilst it’s great fun watching him verbally beat up opponents, there is no doubt that he gets an awful lot of stuff wrong. For every few good points he makes, he will then make one that’s so bad it destroys the effect of those made previously and gives his enemies the chance to dismiss him altogether. Also, his “eccentricity”, whilst it shouldn’t matter, does when he’s on the kind of public platform that Ukip desires.

So, it would be nice, if it could be done, to have a representative of an organisation that the press could go to for quotes that the majority of us sceptics could feel comfortable with. The Bish himself is now getting more and more recognition in the media and that can only be a good thing, but he is but one person acting as an individual. The same can be said for others like McIntyre or Watts. The press though, love spokespersons for organisations much, much more than they do individuals. For example, just look at how Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty (a tiny organisation) is feted. I don’t know if we could ever get enough agreement for such a group to be formed, but it would be interesting, don’t you think, to at least discuss it. If a clearer picture of what our collective views might look like were to emerge from such an exercise, I think that alone would make the endeavour worthwhile.

Nov 29, 2012 at 8:23 AM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

OK BB I’ll simplify it for you by asking one question at a time.

Given that the UK CO2 emissions are continuing to rise when imports are taken into consideration, do you think the wider UK public really believe in CAGW?

Nov 29, 2012 at 8:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2


I don’t think it was ever just an elaborate hoax but there is a degree of truth in what you suggest. That opportunities to exercise some hidden agendas have been grabbed is unquestionable in my mind.

Nov 29, 2012 at 8:35 AM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs


..within BH I sense that most people [...] think for themselves, hardly any of them would accept "a party line". An organisation populated by people who all have their own agendas is not a good idea.
What if the articles of association stated simply:
“The case for CAGW has been overstated. The economic policies to counter it are unnecessary and ineffective. The XXX association exists to counter global warming hysteria with sound scientific arguments.”
Who could disagree with that?
Such an organisation would organise public debates and be ready to answer questions from journalists. Other activities typical of a pressure group are already taken care of at sites such as this - unless anyone wants to imitate green groups and march on DEFRA headquarters wearing a funny costume.
I thought not.
All this applies only to Britain of course. And I agree that the ideal would be for Bishop Hill to form the kernel of such an association.

Nov 29, 2012 at 8:51 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Dung and Laurie,

I think it is possible to have an organisation which permits a widish range of views, but with the message to the general membership that even though they may speak freely at a local level, it should be with the caveat that they are not representing the official position of the sceptic group, which is the responsibility of the elected spokespeople to promulgate. Similar to saying for example, "I support UKIP and this is what I believe, but for official policy you will have to ask the leadership". Even MPs can say uncontroversial things that are not quite in line with official policy, which usually does not cause much ruckus; people are entitled to their own opinions, after all.

The most important thing is for the wider membership to support the elected spokespeople in getting the message out in the media, and staying on message. The message should of course be refined to a few core principles, concisely and eloquently expressed. It should be possible to define those core beliefs that (almost) everyone on our side can agree on, like the lack of evidence for CAGW, fuel poverty harming the vulnerable, wind turbines blighting the environment, state-subsidised renewables development benefitting the very few at the expense of everyone else (with no significant CO2 mitigation), distortions of the economy and so on.

Despite the inevitable differences of opinion, it is still possible to have an organisation in which the entire membership supports the same goal, i.e. an end to climate and energy irrationality. Because the goal is quite specific, overall group harmony shouldn't be too difficult to achieve, imho.

Nov 29, 2012 at 8:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

Laurie and Geoff,

I got distracted as I was typing up my last post and you got in before me; agree with all of the above.

Nov 29, 2012 at 9:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

Laurie Childs

The press ... love spokespersons for organisations much, much more than they do individuals.
As far as serious media like the BBC are concerned, it’s not so much love as professional ethics. You have to be seen to be expressing something more than your own personal opinion, either by getting elected, or by having some unofficial following (as a journalist or author) or by being the official representative of a properly structured organisation.
This thread has not attracted a huge number of respondents. Possibly only a minority of BH regulars come to the discussion page? Perhaps ChrisM could reformulate his suggestion along the lines of his 8.52AM post, use it to start another thread, and ask the Bish to signpost it on the front page? (I’ve had experience of how effective that can be).
The important thing is surely to get a show of hands of people who at least think the idea is worth discussing and pursuing.

Nov 29, 2012 at 10:21 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

I'd like to add the speculation that there is no way you can get a spokesman or an opinion on, say, the BBC if they do not want you to. It is fair to say we are not organised to do so, but the editorial power of the gatekeepers is an obstacle that can obstruct groups far more powerful than the scetic lobby if we had a lobby. Couple that with the fact that the only message we can agree on is that CAGW doesn't amount to anything much, and that is not a story or a decent newsworthy controversy, and you have a pretty difficult task.

It's more likely that the CAGW thing will just fade into the background gradually, with a legacy of economic damage and distortion, but that real factors will re-assert themselves in policy for the future.

Look for a big nothing to come out of Doha as the Chinese realise that strangling the economies of folks who owe you a ton of money is not wise if carried all the way.

We should form associations locally just to chat then maybe have some bigger meetings of representatives to see if we can get a movement going. No need to plan the media offensive yet.

Nov 29, 2012 at 10:50 AM | Registered Commenterrhoda

Tiny, "do you think the wider UK public really believe in CAGW", I have no idea. I don't live in the UK. Was that really the difficult question you accuse me of ducking? Don't answer, it is way OT.

Nov 29, 2012 at 11:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket


the editorial power of the gatekeepers is an obstacle that can obstruct groups far more powerful than the sceptic lobby, if we had a lobby.
Tony Newbery pointed out a while ago that if there’s one thing journalists hate, it’s being told what to say. That’s a trump card for us.
..the only message we can agree on is that CAGW doesn't amount to anything much, and that is not a story or a decent newsworthy controversy..
but it will be when AR5 is published.

Nov 29, 2012 at 12:14 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

I will watch and discuss with interest but for now I will make myself as comfortable as I can on the fence ^.^

Nov 29, 2012 at 12:54 PM | Registered CommenterDung

The new thread is up Geoff. Fingers crossed ...

Nov 29, 2012 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris M


As far as serious media like the BBC are concerned, it’s not so much love as professional ethics.

Agreed. Poor word choice on my part. Agree with the rest of your comment too. If Chris doesn’t want to and I can figure out how to do it, I’ll start another thread myself. Chris’s list would be a good starting point.

Nov 29, 2012 at 5:12 PM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

Whoops. Just noticed Chris's post.

Nov 29, 2012 at 5:47 PM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

BB, the subject under discussion is ‘is the skeptic community too fragmented to be effective’.

If there is broad public enthusiasm for cutting CO2 then a handful of sceptics don’t stand a cat in Hades chance of persuading them, no matter how organised we get. If however the belief is weak and based on half truths, then a little enlightenment plus rising energy bills might topple public support. The US isn’t ready for that, they’re not suffering enough in the wallet. They also have more dramatic weather that can be fraudulently linked to AGW.

So working out if the public believe in CAGW isn’t OT. Given the nature of your answer I doubt you believe in it either. You certainly don’t care about improving public support for it.

Nov 30, 2012 at 8:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

You are right Tiny, it is spot on topic. In the end either our views or the alarmists' will prevail in the court of public opinion. It is crucial that we find ways of conveying the skeptical message effectively. And BB, it's a little impudent to appoint yourself as a mini-mod, don't you think?

Nov 30, 2012 at 9:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

A party line or agreed "agenda" for spokespeople would make it boring and plastic and also make it look like a clone of lots of other organisations. What we have in BH is a reasonable sized group of people, each with some specialised knowledge (even idiot Dung), why waste all that knowledge by gagging people and making them recite lines?
The only part that should be constant is the core belief (which would have to be agreed), my suggestion for that would be (as I said somewhere else) We all believe that CAGW is not happening. However once that has been said then I see no reason why individuals should not talk about how they arrived at that belief. We seem to agree that we have all arrived there by slightly different paths so why not say so.
Things like what is wrong with windfarms should have prep sheets written by those of us who know a lot for those who do not and the same for coal and gas and solar but not everything. An organisation which is seen to be made up of individuals is much more interesting than one made up of clones ^.^
I would also say that an individual is also easier to trust than an organisation.

AD Personally I would also want to talk about Agenda 21, sustainability and biodiversity.

Nov 30, 2012 at 9:37 PM | Registered CommenterDung

My misunderstanding. I suggested that Tiny should not respond as I assumed his claim that I ducked "difficult questions" couldn't possibly apply to this thread; his apparently difficult question was nothing of the sort. There couldn't be more on this thread as I haven't consciously ducked anything for which I could be expected to have an answer. I imagined it was a more general accusation relating to other climate change related questions (although I know not what) and hence OT. But ask away if there is something on your mind...

Given the nature of your answer I doubt you believe in it either. You certainly don’t care about improving public support for it.
How do you get to that conclusion from my, "I have no idea. I don't live in the UK."? Its like my saying, "I have no idea whether cholesterol causes heart attacks, I'm not a doctor, and you concluding that it is of no interest to me.

Nov 30, 2012 at 9:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

A person who really cared about CAGW would worry about persuading the public. They would realise that it is a very difficult sell. A first step would be to look at those who are apparently leading the way and the UK would be a good example. We have the BBC, the four (inc SNP) main government parties in accord, countless NGOs, green businesses galore, the Guardian and other newspapers with fervent green journalists, universities, the MET Office, scientific institutions, museums, etc. We’ve got hydro and nuclear, had our first dash for gas, installed renewables, banned the sale of ordinary light bulbs, had campaign after campaign. How could a country with all that pro CAGW propaganda and kit, fail to capture British hearts and minds? Now measure that against UK CO2 emissions when imports are included. Uh oh, they’re rising.

Either the tiny number of blogging sceptics are amazingly successful in instilling inaction on cutting CO2, or what your side is doing isn’t working. It’s almost like all those polls asking if people believe in AGW are getting one answer when the truth is something completely different.

Doesn’t that worry you? Your contribution to cutting CO2 appears to be coming here and be slightly annoying. I’m sure that there’s a medal in it for you in the future. Are we such a threat that you would devote the time you do on BH to save the world? Or do you just enjoy being an arse and CAGW comes a poor second?

Believers have made sceptics the enemy because they don’t want to face up to the real problem – they’re unconvincing.

Dec 1, 2012 at 10:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2