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

Believers have made skeptics the enemy because we are the only ones who listen to them. Regular people won't even do that and believers take that anger out on the skeptics.

Dec 1, 2012 at 11:39 AM | Registered Commentershub

Can I personally prevent climate change? What do you suggest I do? Worry about it day and night?

I don't believe there will be progress until carbon-free energy sources become the no-brain choice. In the mean time, I don't see why I shouldn't have a bit of fun here. If my arguments bother you, don't read them.

Dec 1, 2012 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

True Shub, but they kid themselves otherwise. They’re like a man in front of a stampede complaining about the increase in horse flies.

I’m not arrogant enough to say that CAGW is impossible but I’m positive the scientists haven’t made a convincing case for it. It irks me that supposedly intelligent people are swatting at flies when they should be concentrating on something bigger just behind them. What we have now will neither reduce CO2 nor stem the massive waste of public money. The little people will lose no matter what happens.

For Guardianistas and people like BB, joining the CAGW club has become more important than CAGW itself. Al Gore gave them their best year with his AIT, a movie that they should admit was flawed in some of the key details. It followed 2005, that most persuasive of hurricane years, despite hurricanes showing no overall upward trend. They’ve got nothing! The horse they’ve been flogging is so dead it smells. Shouldn’t that terrify them?

Dec 1, 2012 at 12:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Ah BB, you demonstrate my point.

You don’t think a persuasive case for CAGW is made, you think, like many, that individual action is a waste of time and you also admit that current solutions aren’t working. At what point do you disagree with most sceptics? The only thing keeping you here is that you like irritating strangers. Wouldn’t your time be better spent trying to encourage those who might affect those issues? Or is that too hard for you?

If carbon free energy was a no brainer we’d be right behind you. Most of us have no problem with research into new energy, it’s paying for known white elephants that hurts. We recognise that without a decent carbon free energy source the only option is personally cutting emissions. That means having less and yes, you can do that as an individual. Where are the great posts from warmists extolling that?

Should you worry about CAGW day and night? I dunno, I thought you were the one who thought it was real and imminent? If all you wanted was an academic nod that it was possible then you’ve got it. Now get your green hands out of my pocket.

Dec 1, 2012 at 1:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

You have a good imagination for what is said...

"You don’t think a persuasive case for CAGW is made": I think there is a good case for AGW; the C is unknowable but a sufficient risk to be worth trying to prevent. "you think, like many, that individual action is a waste of time":I think action that makes you unhappy or uncomfortable is not sensible but that the three R's (reduce, recycle, reuse) make a lot of sense; "you also admit that current solutions aren’t working": do I? Where?

"If carbon free energy was a no brainer we’d be right behind you.": yes but I said "until" it is a no-brainer. "Most of us have no problem with research into new energy, it’s paying for known white elephants that hurts." yes but how much do you want invested in that research? The CAGW scare means that large amounts are being invested in energy research; without the incentive there would be less, my guess, vastly less.

"Now get your green hands out of my pocket." and " you just enjoy being an arse...": if you want we can just exchange insults...

Dec 1, 2012 at 5:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket


A person twisting another’s words to make the point they want and not as the original poster intended and trading insults with abandon? How rude.

“C is unknowable but a sufficient risk to be worth trying to prevent.” Really? Prove it. Or alternatively let everyone make their own judgement call.

“I think action that makes you unhappy or uncomfortable is not sensible” you really haven’t worked out your carbon footprint have you? Energy reduction is like pushing a rock up an exponential hill. The first bit is easy but it rapidly gets from hard to impossible. Remember the target is 2 tons per person just to park global carbon emissions where they are now. That ignores population growth. How are YOU doing? “Reduce, recycle, reuse” are the words of fantasists and teenagers. The UK is already doing all that, to absolutely no effect. Perhaps if you’d looked beyond your own location you’d have found that out already?

“Yes but how much do you want invested in that research?” certainly not enough to litter my country with windmills that don’t significantly reduce CO2 due to the unreliability of wind. Not enough to build massive forests of electricity pylons to connect the windmills in our beauty spots to cities and factories where the power is needed. Not enough to rip down existing buildings to build new efficient ones because the old stock can’t be improved dramatically. Not enough to decimate our bird population with bird mincers and estuary blockers. Not enough to drive stupid cars that are useless after a 100 miles and disposable after 8 years.

What would you have us agree to that the UK isn’t already trying?

Dec 1, 2012 at 7:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Where have I been, " insults with abandon"?

Dec 1, 2012 at 7:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

And again BB you duck the difficult question, hoping to divert others with a pointless question of your own.

I suppose if I repeated the question you’d claim a lack of knowledge about the UK. Funny how ill read you are on a subject you like to pontificate upon. Perhaps you’d have more credibility if you knew what had already been tried?

“No, the thing that unites sceptics and deniers is that, whatever the truth on CAGW, nothing at all should be done. In particular, nothing should be done that affects my lifestyle or standard of living in any way.”

It is a particular insult to those of us who are already paying for your unknowable risk. You have your bit of fun but remember, there are real people freezing this winter because they can't afford their gas bill.

Dec 1, 2012 at 8:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

That wasn't an insult, it was an opinion. If it is unpalatable to you, that is probably because you recognise the truth in it.

You say the UK is "already doing all that", but how does that fit with burning coal for 40% of electricity supply? There is great potential for savings (40% on electricity according to a recent report). There is new nuclear if the gov could get behind it.

On RRR, your problem common to the British psyche. The idea that anyone who is careful or frugal is 'mean'; I've been called that many times. No doubt you will oblige too.

Although you claim to support energy research (well who wouldn't?), when it comes to naming a price all you have is attacks on non-research.

And as for freezing, that is a matter of social policy and poor housing stock, not energy policy (as I've said elsewhere).

Dec 1, 2012 at 10:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

BB, I happen to know the unacknowledged Australian coiner of the three Rs catchphrase. He is involved in the corporate 'soft' green movement, which is one way corporations like to present themselves as good corporate citizens. Years ago in a social setting he started going on about the West's CO2 emissions and/or polluting ways (can't recall exactly), the usual green dogma. I replied very firmly that it was China's increasing CO2 emissions and/or industrial pollution he should be concerned about, not the West as the usual green whipping-boy, or words to that effect. He didn't like what I was saying but was polite enough not to start an argument. The past 10 years, as we all know, have proven me correct.

Even highly intelligent and otherwise rational people like this man can delude themselves with green ideology. We need to break the nexus between green propaganda and polite society.

Dec 1, 2012 at 11:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

I cannot disagree; Chinese emissions are very worrying. But I disagree that we should therefore give up on taking any action. You will dismiss this, but I do believe the rich world has to act first. I also do not believe that economic armageddon is in our path if we invest in clean energy; quite the reverse.

BTW, how about the "Climate Change Inaction Committee" for your name?

☺ BitBucket

Dec 2, 2012 at 2:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Dec 2, 2012 at 2:36 AM | BitBucket
"But I disagree that we should therefore give up on taking any action."

Why not start with you and your friends aiming to reduce carbon emissions by 80% for 2013 or some target like that and then report back here with the numbers to see how it went.

Dec 2, 2012 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Rob,that is of course a possibility but the savings would be meagre. We have no car and there is no heating in the apartment (internal temperature bottoms out at 17°C in the winter). Our showers are normally cold and our cooking is basic. We rarely fly (although when we do it is intercontinental) and my only avenue for day-to-day cuts would be to turn off the computer; now there's a good idea...

Dec 2, 2012 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Bit Bucket - bit more complicated than rich west- poor east these days...

for example - China is now the second largest export market for Jaguar/ LandRover, lots of Evoques off to China

Thus, the rich west vs poor China, is more a product of the past.. there are off course many millions of poor people in China, aspiring for fridges, TV, cars, ipads etc.. there are also many millions in China that many EU citizens would aspire to have same lifestyle.

I say EU citizens, because EU per capita emissions are now level with China, whereas only ten yrs ago, China's was nearer a third that of the EU's..

China's per-capita emission are also projected to go much higher, matching the USA's within a decade.

Dec 2, 2012 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

This blog is at its very best when the actual scientists go toe-to-toe, as Don Keiller just did with Tamsin Edwards and Richard Betts on the Quantifying Uncertainty thread. It may have gotten a little personal, but its honesty was refreshing. In the final analysis it is all about the science and I am sure that Richard and Tamsin understand Don's frustration that his (and many others') legitimate scientific position has been pilloried by the alarmist hegemony.

Richard has invited Don into the IPCC process, but Don deserves respect for declining to participate in a process he believes to be irredeemably corrupted. It is a moral stance, as is Richard's for trying to ensure that the next IPCC report is as honest as possible, to the extent he can influence the process from within.

A climate blog (not just this one) is at its very worst when an egotist with an axe to grind continually disrupts threads with incessant posturing (pompous and/or sanctimonious), admonishing and moralising, whether from an alarmist or skeptic perspective; a couple of alarmists have been banished from here on that score. The science becomes secondary, a sideshow. It is an unedifying spectacle that may explain to some extent the failure of internet-based skepticism to exert much influence on policy change, at least to date. Too many clashing egos results in a lot of fragmentation.

So how to sift the wheat from the chaff, the pearls of wisdom from the inane or just plain obnoxious? How to persuade the policymakers to change course? Something to do with vision, leadership and the discipline to stay on message, I would have thought. Easier said than done.

Dec 4, 2012 at 11:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

Chris M

Very good post with loads of points that I can agree with and it relates back to the basis of this thread.
All communities are fragmented and always will be and there are as many opinions about everything as there are people. This fragmentation is an indication of the honesty of our community and is a strength not a weakness.
There will be a BB and worse in all communities, I do not understand his aims but I am free to ignore him if I wish to just as he is free to ignore me.
The weakness of the alarmist camp is their slavish adherence to their complicated message, it has to be faked and agenda driven simply because in the real world somebody in their camp would be violently opposed to at least some part of their message.
The message from the "Deniers" has to be simple if most are to get behind it CAGW is not happening is the only one that I think can unite most of us, any other suggestions?

Dec 4, 2012 at 5:01 PM | Registered CommenterDung

I think the only thing which binds the wide sceptic community is the wish not to be lied to, no matter how well-meaning the reasons. Unfortunately, the vast majority of ordinary people are quite happy to be lied to, they don't care about the content of the lies so don't get outraged at the various 'gates' - compare the Savile case with 28gate.

We're trying to win the hearts and minds of people who simply don't care. It's disheartening.

Dec 4, 2012 at 5:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

On the plus side, they don't seem to car much about the CAGW message either, so it cuts both ways.

Dec 4, 2012 at 5:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Dung, to clarify I wasn't really thinking of BB when I wrote the above post. He is a cheeky and sometimes sarcastic challenger of people he probably sees as fuddy-duddies who won't get with the green program, amusingly from his perspective. He has been honest and upfront about his rationale for posting here, and to the extent that his challenging stimulates discussion, his presence is positive. I don't sense any malice in him.

[snip.Troll feeding]

No, I was thinking more of the very few people on our side who don't seem to be at all interested in the science, but post as though to emphasise their own prominence (in their own eyes) in the skeptical pantheon. A sort of "Look at me, I'm one of the main players, this is all about me" sort of attitude. Unedifying and very unhelpful, it lowers the tone of the joint much more than the perpetrators imagine they are raising it. While such behaviour is rare, just one persistent bore can cast a pall over a whole blog.

I would like to see us skeptics getting our own house in order and focus more on what we are trying to achieve, which is in effect a shift from pointless CO2 mitigation back to rational energy policy. It shouldn't be left to brave individuals like Dr Don Keiiler to carry the load on their own. That implies some form of organisation, and overcoming a distaste for what most of us would look askance at as activism, something that the green NGOs do so well. Are we serious about this, or are we content to hear ourselves talk in an echo chamber forever? Our choice.

Dec 4, 2012 at 7:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

Chris M

I think BigYin struck a chord in his last post and in fact it would be a message I could get behind for sure, he suggested that we just do not tolerate being lied to and I would add to that; not liking being talked down to and not liking being pushed around. An organisation based on those things could aim directly at climate alarmism and the political actions on mitigation (and much more besides ^.^). I fear that I could not exist in the kind of organisation spoken about so far because I could not follow a party line, I would be an embarrassment.
It is also true of all organisations that some people are never happy unless they are in charge because of course they know best (ring any bells Chris M? ^.^). The organisation then sinks or swims not on the views of its members but on the views and words of that one man/woman. I am really not a team player anymore hehe.

Dec 4, 2012 at 7:59 PM | Registered CommenterDung


I think you hit the nail pretty much on the head with this:

That implies some form of organisation, and overcoming a distaste for what most of us would look askance at as activism, something that the green NGOs do so well.

I think there is an innate distaste for almost any form of activism in sceptics generally. The reasons are manifold but one would almost certainly be a fear of being seen to be simply a mirror image of those on the other side. Another would be a fear of being seen to be attempting to force our opinions on others, something that would be anathema to that libertarian streak that runs through the majority of sceptics. After initially being neither strongly for nor against the formation of some sort of association, having read some of the arguments put forward by people such as yourself, Geoff and others, with further reflection I find that I’m actually quite keen to see it happen. Further, I think it would be good if it could be worked out on an international basis as well as just nationally or regionally. I’m at a loss though as to how to persuade others to join when there seems such little appetite for it.


The views of regulars here are varied of course, but I’m not sure that the resulting “party line” of any such association would actually turn out to be much different to what most of us already think. With one or two exceptions, I don’t think there is that much difference in any of our arguments. The GHE might throw up some problems, but, other than that, I think it’s possible to come up with something we can all agree on. With regard to one person being seen as responsible for whether or not the organisation sinks or swims, I think most of us here are quite happy for the Bish himself to be seen as representative of our views. Would we really feel that much different were it to be someone like Geoff, for instance?

Dec 4, 2012 at 9:36 PM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs


I greatly admire His Grace for his honesty, integrity, his great skill as a writer (he should try fiction), his doggedness and thoroughness in tracking down every detail of an argument and for producing this great blog!
However we do not see eye to eye on a number of issues, for instance I have been arguing with him for a couple of years at least about shale. The Bish is in the mould of Steve McIntyre when it comes to discussion and communication; they are both perfect gentlemen. I would say that you also fall into that category hehe, but I am afraid that I do not.
You probably have not noticed the arguments I have been having with Richard Drake ^.^ so I will explain my dark side. When I see someone doing something I consider to be wrong then I find it hard to keep my mouth shut and my temper under control. I am one of those sad people who confront people misusing parent and child/disabled parking spaces hehe. Richard is trying to change Bishop Hill, I disagree with what he is trying to change and I also think that it is not his place to try and change the character of someone else's blog. Although I have been called childish, and accused of playground squabbling (by people I respect) I am like a dog with a bone and I will see the argument through to a conclusion.
This kind of behaviour makes me unsuitable for teamwork where harmony is required :)

Dec 4, 2012 at 11:51 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Thanks for the vote of support Laurie. I was ambivalent as well until Geoff persuaded me. Being of the left, and also a very reasonable and rational person, he has a different perspective on this than most of us and has convinced me it would work. If only to lend support to the academics like Paul Matthews, Don Keiller and Jonathan Jones, an association would be very worthwhile imho.

It is also true of all organisations that some people are never happy unless they are in charge because of course they know best (ring any bells Chris M? ^.^).

Huh? Think I know what you mean Dung, but not going there. ;-) As for me I see myself as a humble facilitator, as I said in the other thread. I don't have the energy, capacity or personal attributes to be in charge of an organisation of any kind, but would be happy to contribute where I can.

Even though I'm on the other side of the world I am very interested in what develops in the UK, because you are further (and in some comparisons much further) down the mitigation madness path than other English-speaking nations. If the UK returns to rational energy policy, it will be game over for the CAGW push practically everywhere, although the north-western part of the EU, particularly Germany, may hold out for a bit longer. The UK is I believe key to turning this thing around.

In terms of potential membership recruitment I am not too disconsolate that the other thread had a lukewarm response. BH internet traffic is probably quite small in comparison to MSM bloggers like Booker and Delingpole, whose articles attract thousands of comments. A proportion of those commenters, very likely more than enough, would probably be happy to lend support to a well-structured association. I also imagine that both Booker and Delingpole would be happy to give a plug to the association in their columns.

Paul Matthews was in favour of the idea but suggested further discussion by email, without leaving an email address. I won't dob him in but the address is easy enough to find if anyone wants to contact him, which would probably be a very good idea. The crystal clarity of his refutation of AR4, brought to our attention in this thread by Hilary Ostrov, is a sight to behold. Geoff Chambers has suggested that those interested adjourn to his blog for further discussion, which I would also encourage.

As for you not being a team player Dung, I don't see that as a problem if you should choose to join. I can't picture you getting yourself deliberately arrested like Hansen did, for instance. If you were to get a bit agitated at a demo outside the Houses of parliament, all the better to get it on the evening news xD

Dec 5, 2012 at 9:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris M


(he should try fiction)

There are some on the other side of the issue who claim he already has ;-) I’ve worked with many “teams” over the years and I’ve found the most productive ones to usually have been where there is an edge of contention in the air. It can make meetings a bit eventful, but generally speaking, when it comes to the actual work, a little bit of anger can get things done. I think we’ve all noticed your ongoing “conversation” with Richard :-) and I imagine like most here, I can see good points in both your arguments. My own view of that particular little spat is that it will eventually settle down and you’ll arrive at some sort of truce, if only to agree to disagree, hopefully without either of you leaving the blog. As for the rest of what you say, I see no reason that you couldn’t contribute your opinions to any alliance that may or may not arise out of all this. As I’ve said before, difference of opinion is good, it really does help in the formation and development of ideas and views. Harmony would only be required at the front end, so to speak. The blog wars would no doubt continue pretty much as before ;-)

Dec 5, 2012 at 9:22 AM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

Just a few thoughts on what we can or indeed should agree on. We need an aim. If it is too specific, it will cause factions or if strictly enforced will leave us looking too like the other side with their certainty and dedication to the cause. I wouldn't think most of us want to go that way. I wouldn't think we'd want to make the thing right-wing per se although many of us are of a right/libertarian bent. What can we coalesce around? I suggest truth. Not relativism, not spin, but truth. I know I don't want to win if I'm wrong. If the warmist theme really were true, I'd want to know. I'd like to be able to state what we know for sure, what we don't know for sure, and everything in between. That's scientific, that informs all sides and comes with no political agenda except in opposition to those who lie and spin whtever side they are on. I don't want to be part of winning the argument by being merely a better arguer than the other side. I'd further suggest that the search for the truth extends to all areas, not just CAGW. That means that those who have a particular theme such as energy policy or academic freedom can extend into it without departing from the agreed aim of the group, so long as they are trying to establish truth in a world of lies and spin.

Make any sense? Not what you were looking for?

Dec 5, 2012 at 10:30 AM | Registered Commenterrhoda