Judith Curry is currently promoting an analysis by someone called the Scottish Sceptic (Mike Haseler) in which he has attempted to differentiate between what he calls sceptics and non-sceptics (academics/warmists) (Sceptics vs Academics). I think the terminology is awful, but that’s just my opinion. He makes it very clear that those who broadly support the IPCC conclusions are non-sceptics and those who don’t are sceptics. I find this absurd. Does he really think that all climate scientists who accept the IPCC conclusions have lost any sense of scepticism? I’m actually surprised that Judith is happy with this kind of terminology. Does she really support the idea that it’s okay to refer to the thousands of professional climate scientists who broadly support the IPCC conclusions as warmists?
Anyway, the analysis that the Scottish Sceptic makes is essentially based on a set of gross generalizations that largely imply that sceptics are somehow this perfect group of open-minded individuals (who are typically trained in engineering) who see the world as it is, while non-sceptics (academics/warmists) are this flawed group of people who don’t really know what they’re doing, are biased by feelings of empathy, and are both corrupt and stupid. I don’t think this kind of thing really make a positive contribution to the debate in any way whatsoever and I’m not sure what Judith hoped to achieve by promoting it on her blog. There’s not even really any evidence for what he presents; it just appears to be his own observations/opinions.
I will say, though, that his observation that “sceptics” tend to have libertarian free-market views while “non-sceptics” (actual scientists) tend to be more left-leaning, is something I too have observed (although, it’s clearly not always true). What I find odd about this division is why someone’s political views should influence how they perceive the scientific evidence. Surely your political views should influence the policies you would support, given the evidence, rather than influence whether or not you accept the evidence in the first place? I will also note that it seems that one of the Scottish Sceptic’s reasons for scepticism is his objection to wind turbines killing raptors. I sympathise with this view but again am unsure as to why this should influence one’s view of the scientific evidence. Accepting the evidence doesn’t immediately imply that we need to build wind turbines that will then kill raptors. What we do, given the evidence, is a policy decision and will include judgements as to the significance of the impacts of various policy options.
So, here’s where I think Judith Curry could play a positive role. The Scottish Sceptic actually has a page where he presents a list of Global Warming Evidence. I’ve actually made a few comments on the Scottish Sceptic’s blog in the past and his responses indicate that he is reasonably pleasant individual, maybe someone one could actually have a serious discussion with. Quite a bit of the evidence he presents is quite easily debunked. He mentions adjustments to instrumental temperature records, the possibility that the 1920s saw a similar decline in Arctic sea ice to that we see today, that CO2 rises might not be anthropogenic (quoting Murry Salby), that the Cloud Radiative Effect is bigger than the IPCC indicates (confusing, I think, the net effect with the change since 1750), claiming that the Hockey Stick is a lie, claiming that ice core samples show that CO2 can’t be a driver, amongst a number of other things.
If the Scottish Sceptic really is a sceptic, and if Judith Curry really does understand climate science (as one might hope), surely together they could clarify which of the evidence on his list is credible and which isn’t. That doesn’t mean that he has to accept the mainstream views, but at least get rid of those things that are easily shown to be wrong. Given that Judith seems to be trusted by people like the Scottish Sceptic, he might take her views more seriously than he would the views of others, and presumably Judith would like those engaging in the debate to at least present credible evidence (she’s happy to correct anything I’ve said that she thinks is wrong – as many have already). Then again, maybe I’m just letting my empathy and optimism get the better of me.