This is really just a post to say that I’m clearly going to have to introduce some new rules with regards to comments. There are a couple of recent comments threads that I’ve moderated badly and that have ended up completely off topic and in which the discussion has been far from constructive. I haven’t quite decided on precisely what I should do. I also think I may take a few days to think a bit more about what I hope to achieve with this blog. It really wasn’t intended to be anything other than a place for me to simply express my thoughts with regards to climate science. It has attracted more attention than I had anticipated.
I’m not precisely quite sure what new rules I will introduce, but there are a few things I’m not really interested in. I’m not interested in lengthy discussions about whether or not climate scientists can be trusted. It seems that there are certain people who think climate scientists can do nothing right. They’re the reason people don’t trust scientists – if only climate scientists hadn’t behaved so badly, we’d have more faith in the science. It’s their fault that there isn’t better engagement between scientists and skeptics – if only they’d be more open to other ideas. They over-react when getting unpleasant emails and, technically, they weren’t actually death threats (although some clearly were). They didn’t release their data fast enough. The lack of understanding and the inability to interpret things charitably is mind-boggling.
Essentially, I don’t care. I think these are absurd characterisations that have virtually no relevance to the actual science itself. Yes, I know that some people think that there is a standard of behaviour and that character has relevance, but it doesn’t really. There’s just science and if you think the way to judge it is through the behaviour of the scientists (especially if you’re basing this on private emails between a small number of scientists, most of which appear to have been taken out of context), then presumably that implies you don’t understand the actual science well enough to judge it on its own merits.
The other issue is the science itself. I wrote a post a while ago about how frustrating it must be for actual climate scientists to engage in discussions with people who won’t even accept aspects that are clearly well understand. I then underwent exactly such an exchange. So, I’m no longer interested in discussions about aspects that are largely indisputable. The rise in atmospheric CO2 is anthropogenic. There is virtually no doubt. Our current overall warming is also anthropogenic. Again, there is virtually no doubt. Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick has not been debunked, despite what people might say (McIntyre & McKitrick 2005 has numerous easily explained issues). Exactly where to draw the line with respect to the science is trickier, as there aspects that are uncertain and I certainly don’t even want to prevent discussion about those aspects that are certain. I just don’t want comment threads diverted into lengthy exchanges about something that is largely undisputed.
As I said, I haven’t quite decided precisely what I should do. You can expect a slightly harder line and a bit more snipping of comments. I’m going to expect more evidence from commenters if they wish to discuss more controversial aspects of the debate. I’m also going to explicitly acknowledge a bias. I’ve been doing this long enough to have a good idea of who understands the science and is able to make constructive comments, and who doesn’t. I also understand the science quite well. It is much more settled than many would like us to think. So if you’re going to take the standard “skeptical” line, expect me to be harder on you than on others. You might think that lacks balance. I disagree. Being allowed to present scientific ideas for which you have no real evidence is not balance.
Maybe some will see this as a move towards this being a blog for those who agree with each other, and noone else. That’s not the intent. The intent is to simply stop allowing comment threads to be diverted into territory that isn’t relevant. If you think you can make a constructive comment, please do so. If you think you can present a valid scientific argument, please do so. If you don’t understand something, feel free to ask a question. I may not be able to answer, but there are others here who can. If you think I’m going too far with this, also let me know. At the end of the day, though, this is my blog and I get to decide what I think is appropriate. As usual, relevant – and constructive – comments welcome.