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Discussion > A question of PR


The best intentional PR sceptics ever got was The Great Global Warming Swindle but that was too confrontational and too certain on bits of the science. It also ambushed some of the people who appeared and that wasn’t good. It was… sly, possibly unintentionally but that doesn’t further the side of rational thought. It gave the detractors the chance to claim the message was fabricated, when much of it was genuine.

Much of the PR for the other side ends up as an own goal – I laughed myself dizzy when I saw the 10:10 vid for the first time. Grown ups need good information not sound bites and shock tactics. Kids might be impressed by film stars but adults want to see someone like Attenborough. Al’s movie was their best shot and frankly it was a half decent documentary wrapped in up in a post election pity party. All attempts since have been primary school level information. Even Ed Davey’s lecture to Chemical Engineers was elementary. They keep aiming their stuff at the lowest common denominator rather than those who might actually do something. The BBC have been dumbing down for years and their Climate Weirding was offensively trivial. Everyone has got the message but they’re not convinced enough to really act.

Sceptics can’t prove CAGW wrong any more than warmists can prove it right and I don’t think we should try. But the science isn’t fit for purpose. The warmists are engaged in re-engineering society and I’m not even sure they’re aware of it. They’re not going to succeed unless AGW gets going soon but they will fritter large amounts of time, money, raw materials, birds and good will. As an example BB should be worrying why nobody believes CAGW and trying to work out how to change that. Instead he’s here being an arse. It typifies his side – concerned about trivialities when there’s a great big elephant in the room, eating the curtains and pooping on the floor. They concentrate on sceptics because they can’t admit to themselves that their message is unconvincing, their messengers are unconvincing and their solutions are poop. It’s almost as if they’re not worried about CO2 after all and are more interested in playing games.

One of the favoured ideas amongst climate scientists is that the public doesn’t understand risk. They’re wrong. It’s the climate scientists who don’t recognise a risk assessment when they see it in action. The public have been subjected to the best climate disaster movies that Hollywood can make and the public have shrugged and got on with their lives. It may be the wrong decision but it is a decision. The scientists can’t sex up the science any better than the movie moguls can. They should be making their science more convincing and genuinely bring the educated on board.

I suppose to promote the sceptics side you have to do what the warmists aren’t. Treat the audience like adults. Give them the whole message, even the bits that don’t make our case. The trouble is – how do you do that? The field is huge. When I talk to others about AGW, I don’t know where to start or stop.

Apr 8, 2013 at 11:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

In terms of engaging fresh new climate scientists to speak for scepticism, there aren’t any. Not that scepticism doesn’t abound, but for most it would be career suicide. It’s also hard to define scepticism. There are plenty of papers that add to our case but I doubt many of the authors would like to stand out for that reason. Those who you know about are those who have tenure or who are close to retirement. This enables the warmists to say that they’ve lost their edge if not totally lost their marbles. They should examine their own side a bit more often. I suspect that most decent climate scientists wince when they hear the words hockey stick.

Other scientists and professionals are plenty sceptical but being a sceptic spokesman has little or no reward. It’s hard work and contrary to popular myth, nobody’s offering any money. We’re also not natural campaigners. We’re the ones who roll our eyes when there’s a march or a sit in. Why put ourselves out when time and tide will do it for us? Or who knows, maybe CAGW is real? The science is that bad. Most of us aren’t natural born politicians or media stars – features shared by most climate scientists. We actually have a lot in common and it is the media and politics that have driven a wedge between us.

Apr 9, 2013 at 12:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

A "mountain of abuse or worse" at CA? Are you kidding me?
Apr 8, 2013 at 12:16 PM Laurie Childs

Well this guy was not too amused at pictures of his family being posted...
Apr 8, 2013 at 12:57 PM BitBucket

I'd like some evidence that McIntyre posted photographs of anyone's family whether because he disagreed with a post of theirs or for any other reason.
Apr 8, 2013 at 4:45 PM Mike Jackson

Mike Jackson, don't distort. Unless you have trouble reading you will note that I said nothing about McI posting such photos, only that they were posted.
Apr 8, 2013 at 5:15 PM BitBucket

Any normal person [I said normal ] person reading [1] then [2] understands that the reply [2] to [1] is nothing other than an allegation CA published pictures of his family.

BB used the word "Well", which very clearly was intended to link the rest of his comment [2] to Laurie Childs' question [1]. The presence of the word "Well" clearly shows his comment [4] is untrue using any normal interpretation of wording. I hearby convict him of weaseling dishonesty.

BB please go away - grubby tricks like this are not unpleasant and unwelcome.

Apr 9, 2013 at 12:27 AM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin


Apr 9, 2013 at 12:29 AM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

You know I always found it odd that denizens of the Hill were so free with accusations of lying. I didn't know the context of those accusations and thought there might possibly be some validity in some. Now I know for sure that you are not normal people with normal interpretations of words and phrases. So you twist anything you like to mean what you would like it to mean (to you) - and hence now BitBucket is a liar and forever hence shall be regarded as such. It is very odd but I guess it originates from your fundamental insecurity with your intellectual case; you cannot ever be wrong so you compensate by interpreting what people say in the most bizarre ways that in some ways comfort you. Splitpin is clearly the equal of MartinA in the nitpicking stakes and maybe even his superior. Weird.

Apr 9, 2013 at 2:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

I rest my case.

Apr 9, 2013 at 8:22 AM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

You won't get any support for your "new English" from any of the more sensible people on the Hill....

Apr 9, 2013 at 1:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Well this guy was not too amused at pictures of his family being posted...
Apr 8, 2013 at 12:57 PM BitBucket

Just for the record - "This guy" was a pompous prick who was using anonymity to chuck slanderous allegations around at McIntyre & others. The amusing pix I posted came from his own public vanity website.

Apr 9, 2013 at 8:47 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

TinyCO2, Apr 8, 2013 at 11:28 PM

An interesting post.

One of the aspects is the dynamics of a scare or craze.

You can't keep people scared without showing them a reason to be scared. You can't change the message to weather weirding when you've set them up to expect Mediterranean gardening and rising sea levels. Several miserable summers and cold winters have done a lot of damage to the warmist cause.

Part of this was people not realising the costs involved when the scare was at its height. Now the costs are becoming obvious and no one can see what they are getting for their money.

When we have disruption to the electricity supply and the extent of the folly is fully revealed, no one will want to be left excusing it.

Apr 9, 2013 at 10:10 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

of dear...bitty destroyed by what he would call "concern trolling". Why not ignore the man who has never said anything worth attending to?

Apr 9, 2013 at 10:57 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

So come on then Geronimo, you said:

So let's have the evidence, which if true I, and I assure you, the other aged curmudgeons on this blog, will go over and give the flying monkeys a hard time, as will Steve McIntyre, a man of impeccable behavioural standards. Unlike the sorry excuse for scientists that at whose feet you worship.
Now that you know it was Foxgoose who published the photos, lets see you giving him a hard time...

Apr 9, 2013 at 11:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

0-> reading comprehension

Apr 10, 2013 at 12:03 AM | Registered Commentershub

Bucket - if you have something to say, say it. Otherwise, better to keep quiet.

Apr 10, 2013 at 9:23 AM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

Splitpin, when I have something, I say it, just like you.

I'm still waiting for Geronimo and the rest of you to give Foxgoose a hard time for posting someone's pictures on CA. Or maybe you think it is okay to do that now.

Apr 10, 2013 at 2:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

bitty, what is so heinous about reposting pictures that were already in full view of the internet on the guy's own web-site?

Apr 10, 2013 at 3:11 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Why would someone do it except to intimidate? Its like getting a picture saying, "we know where your kids go to school"...

Apr 10, 2013 at 3:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

foxgoose: Did you post the pictures on CA.

Apr 10, 2013 at 6:56 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

as usual, a non-responsive reply from the bitty thingy person. Is he just a bot?

Apr 10, 2013 at 9:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

and...perhaps the bitty twitty person can explain why someone would post personal pictures on the internet and then get scared when someone linked or posted them on another site. It seems illogical. but, of course, illogical thinking is part of the alarmist creed. How many people does it take to clean bitty's trousers every day from all the scare stories he hears every day?

Apr 10, 2013 at 9:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

There's something about some of the observations of E17 that I find simplistic, superficial and somewhat suspect. In particular, her/his dissing of GWPF and Richard Lindzen (on the flimsiest of grounds which to me suggest that any prior homework has, at best, been somewhat scant).

YMMV, but I think if my boss "shouted at me for 45 minutes" simply for making a suggestion, I'd be inclined to say, "Take this job and shove it"! So, such a claim strikes me as being somewhat on the hyperbolic side ... unless his "boss" happens to be Joe Romm or John Mashey!

Let's set aside the fact that - in the unlikely event we skeptics were able to deliver the money required for such a high class PR campaign by a "clever marketing company" - it would inevitably deliver into the hands of the alarmosphere an "Aha! We told you so. The evil anti-science skeptics are sowing seeds of doubt, with their Big Oil funded campaign" ... or something along those lines.

My recollection may be faulty, but I don't recall seeing any previous posts from E17 in this congregation. And now s/he seems to have disappeared. But perhaps s/he lost patience with the little bucket's customary diversionary irrelevancies to the thread topic.

Then again, perhaps s/he was simply disappointed that no one jumped enthusiastically onto what perhaps s/he thought was a bandwagon that would deliver us to the promised land of message mastery.

Some might even be inclined to wonder if E17 might be a friend (or incarnation) of that free-lancer, Montague (sp?) who's been known to pop up from time to time, and then do nothing, because he probably didn't get what he wanted. But I couldn't possibly comment.

However, speaking of PR campaigns ... Donna has an interesting post today:

Public Relations Firms & Climate Change

And it seems that Ted Turner's baby, the United Nations Foundation, is planning to turn up the PR heat, as well (h/t Tom Nelson):

UN Foundation Calls In PR Firms And Ex-Gore Aide For Global Climate Change Project

10 Apr 2013

WASHINGTON, DC--The United Nations Foundation has drafted in three PR firms and a new senior executive to drive a major new global assignment focusing on climate change.

The public charity that supports the UN's causes is set to begin a two-year project to boost awareness and understanding of climate change problems.


The climate change initiative will be the latest in a series of high-profile campaigns from the UN Foundation.

Apr 11, 2013 at 4:16 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Apr 11, 2013 at 4:16 AM | Hilary Ostrov

You're right it is strange to postulate a suggestion and then not take much part in the discussions. Maybe it's that nutter Lewandowski doing one of Stefan's social science surveys surreptisiously. (Alliteration I believe).

Apr 11, 2013 at 9:34 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

I agree with all your points Hillary but I can also see what E17, real or not, is getting at. There’s a part of me that feels that scepticism needs a publicity boost to get our side of the story out there instead of the warmist version of our side. However, without a TV channel taking an interest and spending time with people like the Bish, to work out what to say, it’s not going to happen. You can’t buy that type of PR, it has to be offered. Possibly something could be done online but it’s a lot of work for an uncertain audience.

What we’re left with is the slow but growing rebellion in the newspapers. Yay Rose, Dellingpole, Booker and everyone else who has managed to get a few sceptic seeds out there! It is easier and more coherent to get sceptic points across in a well considered and edited article than a few Newsnight sound bites.

Lindzen doesn’t make an especially good TV ambassador for the same reason he makes a good scientist, he’s thoughtful and precise. It means his delivery can be quite slow. GWPF are seen as a right wing political entity, which somehow renders the message less convincing to the public… in part because the left wing media keep insisting that is the case. The catch 22 is that to get someone adept at conveying the sceptic message you need either a politician well versed in scepticism or a TV savvy scientist who has the courage to speak out on controversial issues, both types of people who tend to come with baggage and are quite rare.

In an ideal world, some TV celeb would take up the sceptic banner but I doubt it will ever happen. Firstly because it’s a career limiting game to engage in, especially at the BBC. Even stalwarts like Andrew Neil tread carefully. Secondly it doesn’t appeal to the type of people who make it in TV. It requires them to realise that the modern western life they’re living is better than any bucolic fantasy they have of the past. They need to appreciate how much of a role fossil fuels have played in that. They need to accept that doing the wrong thing for the right reasons doesn’t mitigate the ensuing damage; that looking at climate, fossil fuels and renewables through green tinted lenses does nobody, let alone the planet any good; and finally that the World doesn’t need any more big picture people. By that I mean those who say ‘we must cut CO2’ and then back off when asked for details with ‘oh I’m not the right person for specifics but I’m sure it’s possible if we could only get everyone on board’.

Finally, I wouldn’t hold random posting on anyone. I’ve had to drop discussions dead, simply because of other, more pressing issues. Also, there’s sometimes nothing left to say when you realise that sceptics really are a bunch of unherdable cats, which is both our biggest flaw and or best feature.

Apr 11, 2013 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Tiny, Hilary,

Alarmism always had more people with a direct presonal interest in promoting it and environmental NGOs with very good PR skills seeing it within their interest to adopt it. Once governments were onside, there was no shortage of PR opportunities.

Scepticism was much more fragmented and spontaneous. It consisted of people saying "Hang on a minute, we're being given this to believe, let's look into it". Steve McIntyre and the hockey stick leaflet which came through his door springs to mind. that's why I think it's pointless to make a call for CAGW scepticism to have better PR, it's much to spontaneous and fragmented.

The reason alarmism is in crisis is only partly because of the efforts of sceptics, it's largely because nature isn't cooperating and people are starting to see the costs and the dangers and no benefits. The South Sea Bubble didn't collapse because sceptical PR punctured it, it collapsed because credulity was stretched beyond its elastic limit and snapped.

Apr 11, 2013 at 1:24 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

Geronimo, I bet Foxgoose is really wishing he'd never posted those pictures after the dressing down you and your mates have given him (ps. see Apr 9, 2013 at 8:47 PM )

Cosmic, sceptics have their own line in alarmism, such as the end of western civilization or back to the stone age if we stop burning things, and UK to face blackouts unless we continue burning things...

Apr 11, 2013 at 2:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Does it worry you BB that the PR for your side often resembles something halfway between a kids safety campaign and a bad Sci Fi movie? Are you happy when politicians happily sign commitments to cut CO2 with no idea how it could be done? Does it feel like anyone believes in CAGW or do they just like the thrill of danger? Does it make you feel good that the biggest supporters of cutting CO2 are CO2 spewing hypocrites?

Whatever indulgences the sceptic side allows itself if nothing compares to the consensus side. Like I say, it’s almost as if you guys just like playing games and aren’t worried at all. Tell us what's wrong with the PR for your side? I'd ask what's right about it but it would be a very short reply.

Apr 11, 2013 at 5:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2