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

I eschew groups, and I think the general public are suspicious of them. It allows accusations of funding and covert backing which certain paranoid climate scientists have used (immorally, IMO) to smear any critcism of their work. Part of the reason I don't completely trust WUWT is the general adoption of Heartland as a banner to fight around - they don't speak for me and my natural left-of-centre leanings.

Anyway, who says skepticism, grass roots, disorganised, politically powerless for the most part... isn't working? Together with public inertia and disinterest, we're actually winning. If it wasn't working, they wouldn't spew such bile about us, complain that we're getting too much airtime (even when we're not). They wouldn't have to villify us if we were truly powerless.

For me it's all about science. Governments will tax, companies will overcharge us for stuff, c'est la vie. If the bien pensants didn't have crooked science to use as a weapon for wealth redistribution, they'd find another. As a lefty of minor direction, that doesn't really worry me. y personal fight is with the corruption of science, which I hold very dear, all else is secondary to me.

Dec 5, 2012 at 10:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

The more fragmented the community, the more scientifically effective it is in avoiding groupthink delusions, but the less unified it sounds to the media and the public, which always prefer politically correct consensus to genuine debate (to reduce the noise level and "simplify" the debate).

Dec 5, 2012 at 3:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterNige Cook

But also, people ike an underdog. Part of certain climate celebs success has been by portraying themselves as a beleaguered simple folk being attacked by well-funded oil shills. That portrayal of skepticism was not accidental - they know everybody likes an underdog.

Dec 5, 2012 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

I very much like Rhoda's idea that the group could have as its aim, the discovery of truth, it is after all what we are all trying to do in terms of climate change. Surely nobody could feel excluded by that aim and it applies to all areas of life including politics.
Everyone in such a group would be free to express opinion, I would strongly support any group with Truth as its aim.

Dec 5, 2012 at 4:13 PM | Registered CommenterDung

The Truth? Isn't that a little naive? I mean who amongst you is going to define what is True? I understood that a general principle of science, unlike say mathematics, is that proving something to be True is not possible. One can however prove that something is false. So perhaps you should dedicate yourselves to Falseness.

Dec 5, 2012 at 10:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Oops! Sorry!

Dec 5, 2012 at 10:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket


Sometimes I get very close to liking you and at other times I would like to throttle you; sounds like marriage hehe.
Nobody has so far claimed to be able to define truth, only to seek it so do you really have a problem with that?
My own view (bottom line) is that the "whole truth" about how our climate works is currently beyond our techology but there are people who say they know the truth, they talk about consensus and settled science.
So you see that since I know that the truth is currently unknowable, seeking it is a worthwhile objective as is rubbishing the work of the idiots who believe they know it all ^.^

Dec 5, 2012 at 11:21 PM | Registered CommenterDung

On the question of grassroots activism it clearly is seen as an option by some on our side, as in this comment from 'confused' on the current Huppert on 28Gate thread:

I would suggest we take a leaf out of the warmist activists handbook.
Therefore I suggest we all keep an account, from our local press, of people who have died this winter as a direct result of fuel poverty created by this generation of politicians of all parties.

We should, if possible, collect information about the individual who has died, together with their details, age, state of health, where and how they lived etc. The ideal would be a recent photograph.

It would be most effective if we could upload these details to a website. (I have no skills in that regard).

We could then get people like guido fawkes / james delingpole etc to highlight these events.

I would also suggest we email the pictures and of these unfortunate people to the local MP and directly attribute the death to the way that politician has voted, and to the way that politician has supported these criminal policies.

That sort of activity does of course cry out for coordination at local and wider levels.

Anyone, however naturally disinclined, can be goaded into activism if the situation becomes intolerable enough. In Australia here were quite a few well-attended rallies against the carbon tax bill (not that it had any effect) and of those protesters a sizable proportion were middle-aged and older people who would never have dreamed of attending a demonstration. This aspect was mocked by segments of the bien pensant and ageist press, with one female newsreader calling them "dinosaurs", iirc via twitter, the latte set's weapon of choice.

The naivete of these unpracticed activists was plain to see. A convoy of heavy vehicles from all over the country converged on Canberra with the intention of parking in front of Parliament House and adding to the drama of the rally. So the ACT Police simply blocked access roads, leaving the trucks to circle aimlessly on ring roads well away from the rally. Green activists, being used to the techniques of civil disobedience, would not have put up with this and would have found a way around it. The role of the police in assisting the government to thwart a peaceful rally is of course also questionable, but they knew they were dealing with law-abiding citizens who would give them no trouble.

Nevertheless the rallies did convey the strength of feeling against the carbon tax and opened the eyes of many to the possibilities of collective protest. Ultimate victory is anticipated in the 2013 Federal election, if as predicted the non-warmist opposition is elected, quite likely in a landslide, and the carbon tax is repealed.

Dec 7, 2012 at 7:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

The sceptics don't bother to organize for the same reason the rest of the populace don't take the climate thing seriously - they think it doesn't hurt their bottomline yet.

Dec 7, 2012 at 9:51 PM | Registered Commentershub


Well it does hurt their bottomline, it's just that a lot of people aren't fully aware of it. This is the message on my latest electricity bill:

NSW [state] Govt estimates that Federal carbon tax and green energy schemes add about $316 a year to a typical 7MWh household bill - see

And that doesn't include flow-on costs to business from higher electricity tariffs, passed on to the consumers. People are aware of rapidly escalating energy costs, and this state government at least isn't prepared to wear all the blame.

Dec 8, 2012 at 1:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

Chris M

Sadly it seems to me that some great people at BH are now spending their time on a blog dedicated to the idea of a new grouping of sceptics. Everything changes, nothing stays the same but for BH to lose those people is sad IMHO.

Dec 8, 2012 at 2:14 AM | Registered CommenterDung

You are right Chris. If someone cheats you out of your hard-earned money but only takes it a little bit at a time, you wouldn't really mind. This is apparently called "the iron law of climate policy".

Dung, what are you referring to? What is this new grouping?

Dec 8, 2012 at 3:13 AM | Registered Commentershub


Paul Mathews has another blog and has suggested that those people interested in joining a new sceptic group should probably do it on that blog. Rhoda, Paul, Chris M and geoffchambers were all interested and seem to be posting less on BH.

Dec 8, 2012 at 4:26 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Did you miss us? I’m genuinely touched.
I don’t know about the others, but I was away in England. I’ve come home with Watermelons and the Hockey Stick Illusion and am busy educating myself.
Nothing is exclusive. I’ve never commented so much at BH as I have since I’ve been busy doing other things.

Dec 8, 2012 at 6:33 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers


It seems you haven't been paying close attention :-) As far as I can tell Paul Matthews doesn't have a blog but is easily contactable at the University of Nottingham. Geoff does have a blog and has raised the issue of an association in a thread there, with some of the posters seeming to misunderstand the thread's purpose, thinking that Geoff is looking for ways to raise the profile of his blog. I'm not sure what Rhoda is doing but I'm sure she's busy in her own way. As for me I'm posting as much as I usually do, or even a bit more. In real life I am somewhat taciturn, so this level of posting is about as voluble as I am likely to get!

atm I am more-or-less 'awaiting developments' on the outcome of Doha and the hoped-for rise of the UK pushback against green dogma. Owen Patterson seems to have made a pretty good start at that as the DEFRA minister.

On the protest front there is an illuminating video on Youtube of Fay Kelly Tuncay and 3 or 4 friends staging a small counter-demo at the October 'Green is Working' rally in London. It was sad to see the green hard-hatted (really!) bien pensants treating the little group like nutters, when it is they who are so grossly self-deluded. It would be good to see Fay garnering a lot more support for her protests from people who would find it convenient to attend. Looks like a reasonably fun way to put words into action.

Oh and BB, you seem to be under the misapprehension that I asked you not to post here. Not so. That was in the other thread which was specifically to ask for a show of hands on the association idea, and which I wanted to remain relatively uncluttered in case there was a flood of responses. As we know it didn't turn out that way.

Dec 8, 2012 at 9:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

Chris M

I just read that the Doha talks ended with an agreement to extend until 2015 but since only Europe and Australia seem to be left to cut emissions it seems ludicrous :(

Dec 8, 2012 at 11:34 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Having read through this thread, I’m more confused than ever. There are people saying I’ve convinced them (but of what?) while Dung has more or less persuaded me that any movement he wouldn’t want to be a member of isn’t worth forming.
My thinking was simple, and hasn’t changed. I’d like to switch on the Today programme and hear: “And here, to comment on the new IPCC report, is the spokesman for the Union of Climate Rationalists. We invited Stop Climate Chaos, but they declined to debate with sceptics”.
For that you’d need a sizeable membership, presumably with a membership fee, which means accounts, elected officers - the whole shenanigans. Judging by this thread, it’s not going to happen, is it?

Dec 9, 2012 at 10:30 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Yes precisely Geoff, that is what I also had in mind when the idea of an association was discussed and promoted by your good self. I understand your frustration and impatience, but bear in mind that the original premise of this thread was to ask ourselves about how we can be more effective in getting our message out, with a formal association being only one option.

The other thread was the one that was asking for a show of hands on the association, and for whatever reasons did not generate enough enthusiasm. So that, it seems, is where it is for now. Networking will clearly be key in getting any association up and running, with people like yourself, Dung, Rhoda, Latimer Alder, Laurie Childs and Paul Matthews forming an organising committee. Hilary and I, being from Canada and Australia respectively, clearly cannot help with local contacts or other UK-specific aspects. Paul Matthews has offered further discussion by email, and his email address at the University of Nottingham can readily be googled. A discussion between the two of you might be a very good next step.

You may have noticed that on the other thread Latimer suggested that the question of a association could be discussed at the London social meeting on 12/12/12 (an auspicious date?), so it will be interesting to hear what he has to say about that after the meeting. Other people whose views would be good to canvass are Mike Haseler of the Scottish Climate & Energy Forum and Fay Kelly-Tuncay, who is knowledgeable in the techniques of grassroots activism.

As for Articles of Association and the like we would need to find someone familiar with such things, with a legal or corporate business background, perhaps. But I am probably getting ahead of myself. There are clear signs of organisation happening here and there, for instance the pub meets and Fay Tuncay's protest actions, suggesting that with further networking an association may be good to go sooner rather than later. Money for administrative costs is unlikely to be a problem; I would gladly pay a membership fee and imagine many others would as well.

So that I think is the current situation. Perhaps unsatisfactory, but still with some potential imho.

Dec 9, 2012 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

Thanks Chris.
Sorry I can’t be at the London pub meeting. Anyone not of a nervous disposition might like to cheer themselves up before the pub by popping into the Institute of Engineering and Technology, Savoy Place, at 1730 that evening to hear Professor Stephen Emmott, Microsoft Professor of We’re-Doomed-I-Tell-You talk about: The Future of Life: From Biology to the Biosphere.

Dec 9, 2012 at 3:29 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

I have reluctantly come to the conclusion over the past few weeks that the sceptic blogosphere is indeed irretrievably divided, having attracted more than its fair share of oddballs, far surpassing the obnoxiousness of the occasional warmist troll. This has been pointed out before by someone on this blog, probably one of the pragmatic engineer sceptics who, like me, have no time for grandstanding poseurs.

Some hallmarks of these persistent pests are narcissism, far too frequent and often content-free posting, sanctimoniousness and a Manichean attitude to others they have targeted, whether sceptic or warmist, along with complete denial that they have caused any offense when called out. Other characteristics of a few of them are almost total disinterest in the actual science, a seeming desire to appear 'prominent', while doing absolutely nothing practical to turn the tide against climate alarmism, and an urge to self-appoint as a deputy sheriff to the blog owner. In their own minds it is all about them.

"So what?" I can hear some of you saying, "Trolls are inevitable on the internet", which is true. In reply I would say that as a group we sceptics need to have the self-awareness to acknowledge that there are some on our side who due to their narcissism are damaging our credibility, leaving us vulnerable to the accusation of having fringe rather than mainstream views.

DNFTT should apply to all who fit the description, whether warmist or sceptic!

Dec 15, 2012 at 7:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

" leaving us vulnerable to the accusation of having fringe rather than mainstream views."

You'll need to explain why I should have, or not have, any view based on whether it is fringe or mainstream. I try to base my views on whether it seems right. Not on the consensus.

Dec 15, 2012 at 9:23 AM | Registered Commenterrhoda

Disinterest in science is good.

Chris M - Relax a bit. You sound embittered.

If it upsets you that some people who post on sceptic blogs don't fit the profile of how you think they should think and act, you have unhappy times ahead.

Dec 15, 2012 at 9:39 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I see what you are getting at Rhoda, and I agree that a plurality of views, sincerely held, is both good and necessary for rational debate and (eventually) a commonsense policy outcome, which is what we all want. My post was not about non-consensus views but about appearances; how a blog might look to an unbiased reader new to the site, for example. The 'bad' attitudes and behaviour of only a few, however defined, can leave an unfavorable impression and lower the tone of the blog enormously.

I don't see myself as an arbiter of other people's behaviour, and certainly not such as a guest on someone else's blog, but I do know what offends me personally, and one of those things is that anyone who is not the blog owner would try to dictate to other posters what the blog should be, thereby casting a pall over what are usually interesting and harmonious interactions between posters. As an example a well-known female blogger recently felt the need to defend herself, very ably I might say, against a personalised and I would suggest misogynistic attack by a fellow sceptic. No one should have to put up with that.

Which gets back to my point about oddballs. Most of us are of a certain age and have learned through life experiences how to interact with others and to accept differences of opinion without causing offense to a reasonable person. That does apply to the majority of sceptic posters but sadly, I believe, not all. Apart from DNFTT I don't have any particular solution to offer. It is more in the way of an observation, something I needed to get off my chest.

Dec 15, 2012 at 10:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

Martin A,

Thanks for your observation. Even though we have crossed swords in the past, I don't include you amongst those my post was referring to, although you probably already guessed that. You seem to be a reasonable enough person, and if you were to meet me I imagine you would think the same of me.

I don't see myself as embittered, and certainly not about climate blogs, but if I find something unpleasant I tend to walk away from it. I don't think I'm alone there! I no longer visit Judith Curry's blog for that very reason; the tedium of reading an endless exchange of ad hom vitriol between alarmist and sceptic posters became too much. It may be their idea of sport, but not mine.

It always pleases me to see someone behaving obnoxiously called out on their behaviour, but maybe we should all think some more about supporting people who are brave enough to do the calling out. That is one of the ways civility is upheld, even if only in the microcosm of a sceptic climate blog. Everything has a ripple effect to the wider society, after all.

Dec 15, 2012 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

Tut tut and lol Martin, I just noticed your somewhat pedantic link to the meaning of disinterested, of which I have been fully aware since at least the age of ten, quite possibly younger. As you can see from my style of posting and breadth of vocabulary I am demonstrably literate. The meaning of disinterest in the context in which I wrote it is clear I think. If you prefer you can substitute 'uninterest', although that doesn't appear as a word in the post spell-checker; it is probably in the OED somewhere. If you like 'an almost total lack of interest' would be fine by me. Happy now? ;-)

Dec 15, 2012 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris M