Talk politics not science

Mark Maslin has an interested article in the Conversation called why I’ll talk politics with climate change deniers, but not science. His basic point is that many scientists operate in the so-called deficit model; people do not accept the science because there is not enough evidence; therefore more needs to be gathered. It’s clear now, though, that much of the rejection of climate science is associated with someone’s political beliefs and ideology, not because they’re incapable of understanding the evidence that is available.

Essentially, there is no point in discussing science with climate change deniers, since there is little (maybe nothing) that can be said that will convince them of the strength of the evidence. If you are going to discuss this topic with such people, you’re better off talking politics than science. Sadly, from what I’ve experience in the last year or so, this is exactly right. I don’t think I’ve encountered anyone who would typically be regarded as a climate change denier with whom a discussion about science was constructive or worthwhile. Additionally, many end up saying things that make it very clear that what is driving their “skepticism” is their concern about the political implications of climate change, and not a genuine skepticism about the actual evidence.

This does create something of a dilemma for someone like myself, since I very definitely came at this from the deficit-model perspective. I really did think that simply pointing out some of the basic scientific errors that many “skeptics” were making would be all I would need to do. I learned the hard way that this view was both naive and simplistic. Given that I’ve been commenting on Bishop-Hill today, I also still haven’t learned my lesson. Of course, there are many things that I know are bad for me, but that doesn’t always stop me from doing them.

So, I largely agree with Mark Maslin’s article; there’s certainly no point in discussing science with climate change deniers. If you are going to talk with them, you might as well simply talk politics. This does create another interesting dilemma, as there are some who think scientific experts shouldn’t express policy views. This gives me an opportunity to link to Brigitte Nerlich’s recent post on Scientific Citizenship. Instead of discussing this in detail again, I’ll simply post a merger of the comments I made on Brigitte’s post

It’s my view that the idea that scientists should avoid expressing policy views is disturbingly wrong. Of course, if they’re contractually obliged not to, they shouldn’t. If not, they should be as free to express their views as any other citizen of our democracies. Arguing otherwise simply appears to be an attempt to disenfranchise people because of their expertise.

Additionally if you think that you can trust scientists more if they don’t express their views, then that seems woefully naive. If someone thinks that science might be influenced by scientists’ policy views, then them not expressing these views, doesn’t mean they don’t hold them. I’d rather people spoke openly and honestly, than they learned how to appear not to hold opinions when they do.

….. Having said that, I’m not suggesting that they get some kind of special platform, simply that they should have exactly the same rights to speak as anyone else, and should not be held to some kind of higher standard than others. We should all be aspiring to be honest.

On a similar note, there’s a recent Global Warming Policy Foundation report on Ethics and Climate Change Policy. I’m not linking to this because I think it’s any good, but more because it’s written by someone who is an actual academic, but is so full of standard “skeptic” talking points, you’d never have guessed that by simply reading it. I keep thinking that most of these views are really only present in the blogosphere, so it’s always a bit of a surprise to discover that someone who is presumably aiming to be a serious academic holds them too. Of course, I know that being surprised by this is probably naive, but that’s what I am 🙂

Anyway, I think it is true that discussing science with climate change deniers is pointless, and so if one is to discuss this topic with them, then politics is probably a better option than science. Of course, I find that quite tricky as I don’t particularly enjoy discussing politics online, especially not with those who probably have very different views to mine, and who probably hold these views very strongly. The alternative is to simply ignore such people, but then how does one address the misinformation that they spread and which doesn’t simply remain in the blogosphere (as illustrated by the GWPF report on Research Ethics). My one view is that if more and more scientists were willing to speak out about this topic, maybe we could marginalise the more extreme views held by climate change deniers. That’s why I’m pleased that someone like Mark Maslin is speaking out about this, even if – as he says himself – he will have to put up with the abuse [he] will receive because of this article.

Addendum : Just to be clear, the term climate change denier refers to those who deny the anthropogenic influence on our climate, and does not refer to anything else. If this isn’t you, there’s no need to be offended by the term. If it is you; own it, or stop doing it!

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452 Responses to Talk politics not science

  1. In science you break down a problem in smaller and smaller pieces until there is a clear answer. You compare apples with apples and oranges with oranges.

    In politics there is never a clear answer. Your answer depends on your interests, one of the reasons we have a democracy. And the questions are typically much to complex to fully understand and you always have to compare apples with oranges.

    It is thus no wonder that scientists typically do not like to talk politics that much. It is a completely different way of thinking.

    Another reason why it is good that the non-scientists take an important role in the climate “debate”, may of them will be interested in politics and get this way of thinking and another reason to stop calling on scientists to solve the political problem.

  2. Victor,

    It is thus no wonder that scientists typically do not like to talk politics that much. It is a completely different way of thinking.

    Yes, I agree and is probably why I have an issue with the idea of focusing on policy, rather than science.

    Another reason why it is good that the non-scientists take an important role in the climate “debate”, may of them will be interested in politics and get this way of thinking and another reason to stop calling on scientists to solve the political problem.

    That’s a good point. We don’t need more scientists to speak out, we simply need more people to get involved.

  3. > I’ve been commenting on Bishop-Hill today

    If you haven’t been banned yet, you’re pulling your punches 🙂

  4. catweazle666 says:

  5. austrartsua says:

    I don’t see much point talking science outside of a university. Unless you are talking to fellow grad students, professors etc it is a waste of time. For me such talk only serves the purpose of trying (and failing) to give family and friends a sense of what my research is about, and occasionally trying to impress certain people.

    Politics is different. There are no experts in politics. We are all equal. We are all entitled to our opinion. So it is good that you are willing to discuss politics with everybody – even those evil, horrible little deniers who probably should be burnt at the stake for heretical thoughts.

  6. Sou says:

    There’s politics and there’s policy – they are two quite different things.

    A particular political party will adopt one policy and another may have the same or a different policy. Political parties can, and do, swap policies. Here in Australia the conservative party promoted the market pricing of carbon right up until (and perhaps even a bit after) the Labor Party introduced it. Then the conservative party went for paying for mitigation out of consolidated revenue and discarded any notion of market-based pricing. We ended up with both the political parties urging the very opposite of what in the “purist” political sense one would have expected. Conservatives turned into socialists and the Labor Party turned into free marketers (or as close as could be, given the issue). It was truly weird to see all these extreme free marketers tossing their free market ideology aside and arguing quite fiercely that they agreed that their taxes ought to be spent on propping up big polluters – via consolidated revenue – at the whim of the government.

    There are also topics such as how best to mitigate and how best to adapt. Again, these can be politics-neutral (particularly if no major party has taken a strong position on a policy approach). For example, policies on energy efficiency such as phasing out incandescent light bulbs and only allowing energy efficient bulbs to be sold in retail outlets. Or providing incentives and/or infrastructure to support electric vehicles. Or strengthening public transport systems with the aim of replacing sole drivers of motor vehicles.

    Or the dreaded nuclear vs windpower – if you’re game to buy into that one. Or defense re civil unrest as well as infrastructure; ports infrastructure – with rising sea levels; R&D incentives – on clean coal vs energy efficiency vs renewables etc etc.

    So there are lots of policy issues one can discuss without getting into politics. Thing is, it’s complicated. Science is very straightforward by comparison.

    Remember, too, that in most democracies, the difference between the two (or three) major parties is generally no more than 10% of policies. Often much less. You can see that if you look at how little actually changes when there is a change of government. A new government might come in with a big bang and make a lot of noise, but they rarely change the bulk of how government does its business. It’s almost always just a bit of tinkering around the edges. Maybe a bit of a clean out but within two or three years, it’s back to where it was before.

  7. Sou says:

    Re my last paragraph – it’s hardly surprising that there is very little difference between political parties when you get right down to it. Most places the margin between a party gaining or losing power is something like 3% of the vote – maybe 5% tops – and rarely. Sometimes there’s a bigger swing in a particular election if a government is regarded as performing particularly badly, but on average overall, the margins between major parties is very tight.

  8. MikeH says:

    “there is very little difference between political parties” except in the last Federal election in Australia. The Abbott government is a radical right government which has actually shocked the electorate who were promised and assumed they were getting the usual bog standard centre-right L/NP coalition rather than a down under version of the Tea Party. Not surprisingly Abbott has nose-dived in the polls and is starting to back track on some of the more extreme rhetoric about climate change.

    This article from Chris Mooney is worth a read. It suggests that the deniers come from the extreme end of the conservative movement. That is certainly my perception of what is happening in Australian politics.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/12/02/tea-partiers-and-traditional-republicans-are-split-on-science/

    I continue to argue with deniers but I try to do it in public forums like The Conversation where there is more of chance of influencing the middle ground. Or at the very least, not allowing their misinformation to stand. I hope it makes a difference. That is where blogs like ATTP are very useful. – you are probably wasting your time arguing with deniers on your own blog but there are a lot of people who likely read your blog to help educate themselves about climate science.

  9. Willard says:

    > Of course, there are many things that I know are bad for me, but that doesn’t always stop me from doing them.

    The old akrasia problem:

    Aristotle distinguishes two kinds of akrasia: impetuosity (propeteia) and weakness (astheneia). The person who is weak goes through a process of deliberation and makes a choice; but rather than act in accordance with his reasoned choice, he acts under the influence of a passion. By contrast, the impetuous person does not go through a process of deliberation and does not make a reasoned choice; he simply acts under the influence of a passion. At the time of action, the impetuous person experiences no internal conflict. But once his act has been completed, he regrets what he has done. One could say that he deliberates, if deliberation were something that post-dated rather than preceded action; but the thought process he goes through after he acts comes too late to save him from error.

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-ethics/index.html#Akr

    So, which one is it, AT?

  10. Magma says:

    I have no disagreement with the hypothesis (or observation) that this is a politically-driven debate. The sheer disparity of the respective volumes and quality of evidence would have ended any scientific debate long ago. But I don’t think this is a surprise to many of us, even if it does mean that serious consideration must be given to how climate scientists spend time and energy on outreach, public education and debate. In the case of all too many fake skeptics, Robert A. Heinlein’s quote probably applies: “Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.”

    One significant difference is that when it comes to technical and scientific issues expertise is not just valued, it is vital. But this does not carry over to politics, where votes count equally and at best the eloquent can persuade thoughtful equals, and at worst lying demagogues can fool a mob. (Let’s avoid discussion of whose demagogue is whose eloquent leader…) So many of the tools, facts and arguments that scientific specialists have with regard to the risks of climate change inevitably end up left behind in the workshop. Most of us have seen variants of a Gish gallop or steady recital of incorrect ‘facts’ delivered without a care whether or not they are accurate or true; partisan supporters of such an arguer can easily walk away with their beliefs not only unchanged, but reinforced.

    In science and engineering we are expected to be ready, willing and able to back up claims with data and rational/physical/mathematical analysis and to have some expectation of eventually arriving at some form of civil consensus. This is rarely the case with political discussions, which are often as fruitless as the scientific ones Maslin describes with climate change ‘skeptics’. And given the strong whiff of paranoia emanating from many of the more vociferous North American and British skeptics, I expect them to be every bit as intractable in political discussions as in scientific ones.

    As far as “many who deny climate change is an issue are extremely intelligent, eloquent and rational,” I wish that was the case in my neck of the woods. But it is not.

  11. Sou says:

    MikeH, think about it. How much of government has really changed vs perceptions. The main things that people would be objecting to is the cavalier and inconsistent approach to what you might call high profile policy. Asylum seekers (though labour wasn’t much better in that regard), climate change (but a lot of people didn’t want the carbon price). They’ve sold off Medibank Private – but that would have happened sooner or later and I doubt anyone cares much. They put a cent a litre on petrol, which is about a 0.6% increase. Not really an election loser. Plus the GP charge, which people object to on principle (most of us know someone who’s struggling and we don’t like clobbering people when they are down – or sick).

    If they’d upped GST another 5% as someone will probably do one of these days, that would have caused a bit of an outcry, probably. But they’ve not really done anything like that.

    My main gripes are the winding down of science and the unsustainable attitude to the environment in general. I hated to see the carbon price go but I’m probably not in the majority on that one.

    I do think a few people would be swayed by the Great Barrier Reef dredging etc.

    I still think it’s perceptions of incompetence including the fact they haven’t done what they promised with the budget. They went in all gung ho, but apart from sacking a lot of scientists and probably other public servants, not a lot has really changed. They haven’t been able to get the budget savings they promised largely because of the Senate. The worse thing though is image. Abbott and Joe Hockey don’t present well. They don’t act as if they can govern well.

    However the public service keeps chugging along. From what I’ve seen, there have been much greater changes with a change of government than this time around. I can be persuaded otherwise because I don’t keep track of what’s going on as much as I used to do.

  12. Sou says:

    Labor not labour.

  13. MikeH says:

    It is certainly true that the Abbott government’s bark is worse than its bite. But that is because some of their decisions have been blocked by the Senate. In the last 12 months, they have abolished the carbon price, the Climate Commission, tried to abolish the Climate Change Authority, tried to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, tried to gut the 20% Renewable Energy Target, abolished the mining tax, approved the Abbott Point coal port expansion in the GBR, removed funding from the national Environmental Defender’s Offices, taken about $400 million from CCS research, abolished programs like Energy Efficiency Opportunities (which saved $1 billion for an investment of $20 million), reduced funding to the CSIRO, put the guillotine over the CBD Green Buildings program, ….

    Some of those programs were introduced by the conservative Howard government.

    Unlike the usual tweedledee, tweedledum cycle that we are used to in Australia as Labor and the L/NP coalition swap places, this government has a definite Tea Party edge to it which explains its loathing of environmental programs.

  14. William,

    If you haven’t been banned yet, you’re pulling your punches

    Yes, I probably am. What’s more, I’m discovering – to my surprise – that they’re a remarkably sensitive bunch. Most of the discussion has been about how I’m not very nice and can be quite rude.

  15. Willard,

    So, which one is it, AT?

    I’m not sure, maybe a combination of the two.

  16. David Blake says:

    “If you haven’t been banned yet, you’re pulling your punches ”

    One of the tragic things about the climate debate is there is not one single website where free argument (or even conversation) is allowed. Not one. Each side bans the other – usually when it’s just getting interesting.

  17. David,

    Each side bans the other – usually when it’s just getting interesting.

    I think that depends on your definition of interesting.

  18. David Blake says:

    I’m always amazed at these sorts of articles: where the true beleivers try to analyse my politics, and pretend that it’s my (entirely imagined) politics are the reason that I “deny climate change”, rather than the lack of answers to many many key points on “the” science.

    Refusing to discuss “the” science is just a cop-out. It’s easier to pretend your opponent is X/Y/Z rather than actually debate the facts.

  19. David,
    I don’t think the article is arguing that every single climate change denier is a free-market libertarian, but there does appear to be a strong tendency for that to be the case.

    We have discussed the science. Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen, you seem to make a number of fairly fundamental errors that you seem completely unwilling to acknowledge.

  20. David Blake says:

    @aTTP,
    “We have discussed the science. ”

    …yes, and on which your replies have been – “nope you’re wrong” – hardly a stellar aristotelian argument

  21. David,

    …yes, and on which your replies have been – “nope you’re wrong” – hardly a stellar aristotelian argument

    No, David, if you went and read them again you may note that I have done a great deal more than simply that. However, your response is sadly typical and unsurprising.

  22. David Blake says:

    [Mod : Enough. You might find this interesting. I find it another word starting with i.]

  23. Rachel M says:

    There was a good cartoon of two cavemen arguing about whether it was raining or not which I felt summed up debates with climate change Skeptics rather well. But I can’t find it. Anyone know the one I mean?

  24. harrytwinotter says:

    I just don’t know. To me once you allow politics over science, you are sending out a message that the science is negotiable – it isn’t.

    Also talking science is necessary to counter the anti-science rhetoric. I cannot see how talking politics can defeat anti-science.

  25. verytallguy says:

    ATTP,

    Boringly,  I agree pretty much 100% with you. 

     Essentially, there is no point in discussing science with climate change deniers

    Not if changing their mind is your purpose

    Given that I’ve been commenting on Bishop-Hill today…

    DOH!

    It’s my view that the idea that scientists should avoid expressing policy views is disturbingly wrong.

    I agree, and in my view those who express this are merely trying to silence their critics.   It’s notable also who defines what a policy view is; Judith Curry ‘ s definition seems to be that political views are defined as those that disagree with her! 

    I couldn’t stomach the GWPF 60 pager, but the foreword by a Bishop confirmed my prejudices about the inadvisablity of looking to religious leaders as moral arbiters. 

  26. verytallguy says:

    Rachel,

    Not a cartoon but you might like this…

    THE DUCK.

    From Dr. Boli’s Fables for Children Who Are Too Old to Believe in Fables

    https://drboli.wordpress.com/2009/12/15/the-duck/

  27. ohflow says:

    From what ive seen, this is the common discussions:
    Denier claims A
    Person answers and asks question regarding A
    Denier moves on to claim B(not relevant to A)
    Person answers and asks question regarding A and B.
    This continues until it runs full circle Z – A or until the person answering has had enough, which i have to give Anders lots of credits for his patience. How can you discuss science with a person who doesn’t know/isn’t willing to learn more about what they claim?
    I am grateful that I don’t feel qualified to partake in this repeating circus :_)

  28. jsam says:

    Here’s a copy, Rachel.

  29. jsam says:

    There’s an intriguing inverse relationship between the vigour with which deniers declare they uphold science and their understanding of science. It would seem one cannot have Dunning without Kruger – evidence of spooky quantum entanglement perhaps. 🙂

  30. WebHubTelescope says:

    Talk about the concept of Peak Oil to a denier. It will guarantee to make their head explode. There is no denying finiteness of fossil fuels, yet they can’t even wrap this single scientific fact around their head.

    That is proof that science is not on their radar, but maintaining the status quo is.

  31. verytallguy says:

    WHT,

    it is noteworthy that holding the simultaneous views that

    1) Climate change is not a problem because there are insufficient reserves for RCP8.5 and
    2) Any restraint on fossil fuel use is bad

    is, remarkably, commonplace.

  32. Harry,

    To me once you allow politics over science, you are sending out a message that the science is negotiable – it isn’t.

    Also talking science is necessary to counter the anti-science rhetoric. I cannot see how talking politics can defeat anti-science.

    I don’t think that’s quite the message here. Of course discussing science is important and it takes place in the literature and at conferences. Additionally, there are media outlets and blogs that do a good job of discussing our current understanding. The point being made is – I think – that if you want to engage with climate change deniers, don’t bother trying to discuss science with them as you won’t succeed in convincing them that they’re wrong. You’re better off discussing politics.

    This does create a bit of an issue for me, because I think having different political views is healthy. So, I certainly have no desire to convince climate change deniers that their political views are wrong and I doubt that would be more successful than convincing them that their scientific views are wrong. On the other hand, political discussions can be quite interesting. However, I have little interest in doing so with people who are likely to claim that views I might support would lead to the death of billions and then whine if you point out that ignoring the risks associated with climate change might do something similar.

  33. jsam,

    There’s an intriguing inverse relationship between the vigour with which deniers declare they uphold science and their understanding of science.

    There also appears to be an inverse relationship between how strongly someone claims to support research integrity and their own apparent research integrity.

  34. VTG,

    the foreword by a Bishop confirmed my prejudices about the inadvisablity of looking to religious leaders as moral arbiters.

    Yes, I noticed that too.

  35. Rachel M says:

    Thanks, jsam. That’s the one I was looking for. And the duck article is great too, thanks, VTG.

  36. I see the biggest problems in understanding risks, in attitudes about risks, and in using the inability of drawing rational conclusions from what has been understood about risks as an excuse for adopting conclusions that fit best with more general attitudes.

    For typical (simplistic) libertarians everything they see as government control is to be opposed in absence of full proof that it’s needed. The uncertainties about the risks are then sufficient for dismissing the risks and concluding that no government action is the right choice and that markets will react, if a reaction is needed.

    For people who have much more trust in the importance of the government led activities and who may be highly critical on the role of big companies the likely conclusions are very different.

    When the message of science is simple and easy to understand, the influence of political attitudes is likely to be smaller, but the climate change is not that simple. Uncertainties are large and monsters can be construed to act in both directions. Risk aversion can be forgotten or even turned around, when it conflicts with political attitudes.

    Part of the rational is that BAU is seen as doing nothing. Thus it’s not accepted that continuing with the emissions is anything more than the natural state of matter. Arguing that it is an active choice is dismissed. This leads to faulty claims about burden of proof.

    As I see the largest problems in understanding risks, I do also think that more discussion should be devoted to that in spite of the difficulty of the subject. It should be understood that the real uncertainty monster is the opposite of what people can read at Climate Etc.

  37. Pekka,

    As I see the largest problems in understanding risks, I do also think that more discussion should be devoted to that in spite of the difficulty of the subject. It should be understood that the real uncertainty monster is the opposite of what people can read at Climate Etc.

    Yes, I agree. It does seem as though that is a major issue. People seem to think that because they can find studies that show that climate sensitivity might be lower than the IPCC suggests, that we can simply wait and see. The problem with that is that even those studies don’t significantly reduce the possibility that it might still be high. It is quite remarkable that most of us live in societies that commit a lot of effort to reducing the risk of severe events (flying, driving, … are all much safer than they once were) and yet we’re comfortable with a non-negligible chance of 4 degrees (or more) of warming by 2100.

  38. verytallguy says:

    ATTP,

    on debating, Bishop hill are the equivalent of the SWP. Would you waste your time on a debate with them?

  39. vtg,

    on debating, Bishop hill are the equivalent of the SWP. Would you waste your time on a debate with them?

    Well, no. I guess I’m not actually trying to debate with them, as that is naive. It think it’s more just an indication of my masochistic tendency 🙂

  40. Clearly one doesn’t respond to those in denial in order to change their entrenched views; one responds so that others with less entrenched views can see there is an alternative viewpoint that perhaps make more sense. Clearly a blog like this has an important role while ever there are blogs out there which distort science to further ideological ends.

    Every so often, someone who has heard a lot about climate science in the news will decide to find out more, so will put “climate change” into their favourite search engine and then find themselves confronted by choices. If all they found was GWPF, WUWT, Climate Depot, etc., they might come to the conclusion that indeed scientists are involved in some global conspiracy with certain elements of the media.

    Sites like Real Climate, Skeptical Science and all the other science-based blogs, including this one, provide a vital service. It’s important they don’t weaken or become disillusioned.

  41. When we are discussing politics and policies, the problems are, however, not over in the unlikely case that all agree on the risks. What were left is deciding on specific measures. As has been discussed many times I see carbon tax as the best alternative right now, but choosing the initial level and rules for deciding on later (presumably higher) levels is a big problem.

    The initial and anticipated later levels should be high enough to lead to the adoption of measures which are likely to be part of an optimal set of measures but not so high that it leads to a waste of resources in non-promising alternatives. Neither should the level be so high that it causes severe economic disruptions. A healthy economy is needed also for the development of better solutions for further reduction of emissions.

    In addition to the price on emissions targeted support for R&D is also important. That includes also early deployment for testing and demonstration, but the incentives for large scale deployment should come from the price of carbon as that is least biased in support of specific solutions, when some other approaches are more cost-efficient.

  42. guthrie says:

    The problem is, though, that in searching for the ‘best’ way to deal with it, we’re wasting time. We will never find an optimal solution; instead we need to throw money at the wall and see what sticks.

  43. WebHubTelescope says:

    Discuss the trillions of barrels of potential oil locked in the Green River shale formation and the amount of water and energy that will be required to extract it. The deniers will lead people to believe that science will come up with a solution while not frying us in the process. This belief in science and technology while not believing in basic science is the fundamental disconnect.

  44. Andrew Dodds says:

    WHT –

    It seems a common theme in Neoliberal politics in general – a kind of sense that no matter what havoc their policies cause, no matter what damage is done to institutions, somehow if anything really goes wrong, the government will be able to save the day.

    It’s a really, fundamentally childlike and immature view of the world, which seems to be held by those who have never faced things actually going wrong. The reaction to Katrina in 2005 was typical, those supposedly in charge didn’t have a clue that they were even supposed to do anything.

    And that was an obvious, predictable and short term problem. Expecting these guys to seriously look at things like oil depletion of global warming.. they’ll leave that to the adults. Which is a problem, because they are meant to be the adults..

  45. Eli Rabett says:

    It would be better to talk policy not politics. Of course, that is the problem.

  46. Eli,
    Yes, I was using those terms somewhat inter-changeably.

  47. BBD says:

    ATTP

    Well, no. I guess I’m not actually trying to debate with them, as that is naive. It think it’s more just an indication of my masochistic tendency

    Applying a richly-deserved boot to someone’s backside isn’t masochistic.

  48. David Springer says:

    “I don’t think I’ve encountered anyone who would typically be regarded as a climate change denier with whom a discussion about science was constructive or worthwhile.”

    I don’t think I’ve encountered anyone who would typically be regarded as a climate change cheerleader with whom a discussion about science was constructive or worthwhile.

    Dogmatic belief isn’t confined to one side of the debate. If someone says “the science is settled” that’s not science it’s dogma.

  49. David,

    Dogmatic belief isn’t confined to one side of the debate. If someone says “the science is settled” that’s not science it’s dogma.

    Ignoring the “science is settled” strawman, what is true is that one “side” has actual scientific evidence that supports their views about the science, and the other “side” does not.

  50. David Blake says:

    @JohnRussel40

    “one responds so that others with less entrenched views can see there is an alternative viewpoint that perhaps make more sense.”

    Which is preciesely the sceptic position! From my point of view, that’s precisely what happened. After the first IPCC report I was determined that we avoid the catastrophe of AGW. I took everything I was told at face value. Temperatures were going to skyrocket from 1990 to 2014 by between 0.42 and 0.9 C. London was going to be underwater, whole island nations under the sea! I told my friends, my family, I campaigned.

    Then. Not much happened. A little bit warmer (0.3C perhaps), but nothing dramatic.

    Then, as you say, I saw there was “alternative viewpoint that perhaps made more sense”. I read the Real Climate blog regularly, and like many others that turned me fully into a climate sceptic.

  51. victorpetri says:

    @WHT
    Peak oil, hmm yes, solid scientific predicting there:
    “There is little or no chance for more oil in California” (1886, U.S. Geological Survey).

    “There is little or no chance for more oil in Kansas and Texas” (1891, U.S. Geological Survey).

    “Total future production limit of 5.7 billion barrels of oil, perhaps a ten-year supply” (1914, U.S. Bureau of Mines).

    “Reserves to last only thirteen years” (1939, Department of the Interior).

    “Reserves to last thirteen years” (1951, Department of the Interior, Oil and Gas Division).

    “We could use up all of the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade” (President Jimmy Carter speaking in 1978 to the entire world).

    “At the present rate of use, it is estimated that coal reserves will last 200 more years. Petroleum may run out in 20 to 30 years, and natural gas may last only another 70 years” (Ralph M. Feather, Merrill textbook Science Connections Annotated Teacher’s Version, 1990, p. 493).

    “At the current rate of consumption, some scientists estimate that the world’s known supplies of oil … will be used up within your lifetime” (1993, The United States and its People).

    “The supply of fossil fuels is being used up at an alarming rate. Governments must help save our fossil fuel supply by passing laws limiting their use” (Merrill/Glenco textbook, Biology, An Everyday Experience, 1992).

    In 1962, Hubbert predicted that world oil production would peak at a rate of 12.5 billion barrels per year, around the year 2000.[121] In 1974, Hubbert predicted that peak oil would occur in 1995 “if current trends continue.”[122]

    In the meantime, oil production practically rose continuously. But instead of thinking about why the peak oil theory is so spectacularly poor in predicting such an event, you attack the opponents of this theory that doesn’t hold up to any scrutiny.
    https://humansrunderrated.wordpress.com/2011/06/24/peak-nothing/

  52. David Springer says:

    [Mod: These are typical Skeptic talking points which have no place on a science blog]

  53. BBD says:

    I read the Real Climate blog regularly, and like many others that turned me fully into a climate sceptic.

    Read, but did not understand.

  54. BBD says:

    Dear David

    Something tells me you aren’t going to prosper here. This isn’t JC’s, you know.

  55. verytallguy says:

    Dave Springer now

    I don’t think I’ve encountered anyone who would typically be regarded as a climate change cheerleader with whom a discussion about science was constructive or worthwhile.

    and Dave Springer a year ago

    “Amused is all. I’m a barrel chested 5’10″ at 210 pounds with massive upper body strength kept up from logging and could knock your head clean off your shoulders with a single punch. But at my age it’s easier to just wave a snub-nose .38 in your face and call it a night without anyone going to the emergency room – me with a broken wrist or you with a broken face.”

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/communicating-uncertainty/#comment-9197

  56. verytallguy says:

    Victor,

    do you believe oil is a finite, or infinite resource?

  57. BBD says:

    Abiogenic oil! Crankenfest!

  58. Concerning, how the estimates of the crude oil resources have developed, I show two pictures. Here is the first

    To the best of my knowledge that shows all major estimates of the total resource based on geological knowledge and statistical analysis used to extend the estimates to the whole world. Isn’t it amazing, how stable those estimates were for so long.

  59. David Blake says:

    @ BBD,

    If you genuinely want to understand sceptics, genuinely want to understand why Realclimate (and other “team” blogs) has made so many people into sceptics I highly recommend navigating here and searching for “Realclimate”. You’ll see a lot of people (many of them with PhDs) who say exactly the same thing.

    “Read, but did not understand.”
    When I first heard about Realclimate I thought “Great”! Here’s a blog staffed by actual climate scientists like Mike Mann, who would be able to answer the questions I had. This will be great education, how nice of them to give up their time.

    I soon found out it wasn’t going to be like that. If there was something that I (or anybody else for that matter) didn’t understand but they wanted to and they ask on Realclimate; “Hey, what about paper X? Doesn’t that impact on Y?”, the reaction (deletion, censorship, abuse, condescension) leaves one with the strong feeling that they are covering up. It was about closing ranks, and not letting inconvenient views any airtime. It was about smearing “the other side”, not about educating the public at large. When you see that, one has to ask “why”? Why are they censoring so much? This is an area where we are told the scientific evidence is “so strong”, that a few dissenting voices shouldn’t matter. But to them – it did. And another sceptic gets born.

  60. David,
    I’ll post your comment, but mainly because it’s quite amusing to see someone make the “but RealClimate moderation” argument. Where’s Willard when you need him?

  61. And then the second picture (sorry for the unit). (Yes, my previous period was cherry picked.)

    Here we can see that earlier estimates were lower and that the 2000 estimate of USGS is higher (the mean should be compared with the earlier). What makes the 2000 estimate higher is no a new assessment of the total amount of crude in the ground, but a nerw estimate of what’s recoverable. Earlier it was set as 30% of total, now to 50%. USGS reported that technology had developed already to 40% and that it was considered likely to improve still to 50%.

    I don’t have later data in my material. The significant findings of oil in areas not considered relevant earlier have probably pushed the value a bit further up. These graphs are about conventional crude. Thus unconventional oil adds to the estimates, and this addition can be large depending on what’s assumed about the recovery rate of unconventional oil.

  62. victorpetri says:

    @vtg
    There is only 1 resource that I believe to be infinite, and that is human ingenuity, luckily that is our fundamental resource. The rest is constraint by physical realities.
    That I do not believe in peak oil as a theory has little to with limited resources and everything to do with unlimited resourcefulness.
    One way of looking at resource extraction is as if resource availability is presented as a pyramid. The oil on top is of prime quality, achieved through unlikely and lengthy purification processes; it is both very pure and highly accessible, think of the oil that surfaced in Texas beginning of the 20th century. Going downwards in the pyramid, oils of lesser quality and/or lesser accessibility are found, but these are also more plentiful, e.g. deep sea oil drilling. Further down oil has had practically no purification and remains within the so-called source rock, e.g. the Canadian tarsands and these are even more plentiful.
    Our ability to extract oil will then be related to two variables: the physical reality of how oil is present within Earth; the pyramid, versus our improving skills to find and extract oil. If our knowledge increases faster than that the pyramid empties, we will continuously increase our output. And judging our production of oil, which reached a new high in 2014, this is exactly what is happening.

  63. BBD says:

    David

    I’ve already had a good chuckle over the list of cranks at JC’s, thanks. Have you seen WHT’s gazetteer? Very helpful.

  64. BBD says:

    victorpetri

    Our ability to extract oil will then be related to two variables: the physical reality of how oil is present within Earth; the pyramid, versus our improving skills to find and extract oil.

    I read your cornutopian fantasy with interest a week or so back. I noticed then that you missed out the radiative physics. Incomplete descriptions are frequently of little or no value in the real world.

  65. jsam says:

    “[Mod: These are typical Skeptic talking points which have no place on a science blog]”

    We are reclaiming our word. Please stop calling denialist skeptics.At best they are simply wrong. At worst they are delusional. But they are not skeptics. I’d vote for crank.

  66. David Blake says:

    @aTTP,

    “I’ll post your comment, but mainly because it’s quite amusing ”
    Always glad to raise a smile. I always get a little chuckle when you chaps spend so much energy blogging about the motives and reasoning of sceptics, and how one shouldn’t debate a sceptic, without ever realising that that is precisely that attitude turns many people into sceptics.

    The irony is delicious.

  67. David,
    Really, surely you become skeptical because you’ve considered the actual evidence, not because of how some people have chosen to behave? And you wonder why people don’t regard “skeptics” as genuinely skeptical?

  68. BBD says:

    David

    and how one shouldn’t debate a sceptic

    Well, there’s no debating with you because you refuse to admit your many errors which places you outside the bounds of rational discourse. Something that you persistently fail to recognise, with delicious irony.

  69. BBD says:

    jsam

    We are reclaiming our word. Please stop calling denialist skeptics.At best they are simply wrong. At worst they are delusional. But they are not skeptics. I’d vote for crank.

    Quite so. If the tinfoil fits…

  70. ATTP: “Yes, I probably am. What’s more, I’m discovering – to my surprise – that they’re a remarkably sensitive bunch. Most of the discussion has been about how I’m not very nice and can be quite rude.”

    It is also not nice to produce so much cognitive dissonance in these decent people that also would like to feel that they have a consistent world view.

  71. verytallguy says:

    Victori

    If our knowledge increases faster than that the pyramid empties, we will continuously increase our output. And judging our production of oil, which reached a new high in 2014, this is exactly what is happening

    So… you acknowledge that oil is finite, but argue that we will continuously increase our output of it forever.

    Your words are merely Panglossian icing on the cake of finite resource denial.

  72. Andrew Dodds says:

    victorpetri –

    Argument by cherry picked quotation is considered passe by Creationists.

    In any case..

    The 1993 quote could be interpreted as oil running down in production within 50 years.. 2043. We have passed laws that effectively limit oil use (fuel duty being the biggie); the modelling used by Hubbert indeed did predict a 1995 peak, accurately – BUT usage was dramatically curtailed by the 1973 oil embargo. Interestingly, the early 1970s represents the point where exponential growth in oil supply became geologically constrained, which quickly meant that oil producers became very powerful very quickly – remember the 1967 oil embargo? No, hardly anyone does. This is why.

    The political choke on oil production has meant that the world peak did not happen as it would have in an unconstrained world (at a much higher level than today’s production). And as far as steady increases in production go.. 74 to 77 Mb/day crude oil over 10 years is barely shifting, and it’s going backwards on a per-capita basis, despite sustained high prices.

    Peak oil theory requires a fair number of boundary assumptions, and works very well within those assumptions:

    – A given geological province or set of provinces (i.e. US-48 onshore conventional, North Sea.)
    – This cannot include new plays within the same province that were not considered in the prediction..
    – Production that is relatively free of political constraints.
    – Production not constrained by technical constraints (i.e. Alaska constrained by the capacity of TAPS)

    I do actually agree that people can go off the deep end with peak oil theory, it’s very easy to get carried away with it. But the idea that oil production as we know it will just happily rise forever is also blatantly wrong.

  73. Joshua says:

    IMO, perhaps the worst thread I’ve seen at ATTP. Maybe confirmation bias on my part?

    At least if it contained any elements that we haven’t all read hundreds of times it might have some marginal value.

    Maybe there is something to be gleaned that ATTP has descended to the WUWT level of discourse in a thread where the OP addressed directly the political element of the climate wars. Clutching at straws here.

  74. verytallguy says:

    And the cold reality of what happens when society actually follows Victor’s philosophy of ever increasing technological prowess to extract a finite natural resource

  75. victorpetri says:

    @vtg
    I do no such thing. Read the words if you want to understand my position. It will end one day, but not because we run out of the stuff, but because we will have a cheaper alternative.

    What is your magnificent explanation that oil production, and that of practically any other resource have been increasing practically continuously for as long as we can measure them, fully in contrast with almost any prediction made in the last ~300 years?

  76. victorpetri says:

    @vtg
    The only resources that prove to be finite are renewables, nice example.

  77. Joshua,
    As bad as WUWT? If so, that’s bad.

    Maybe there is something to be gleaned that ATTP has descended to the WUWT level of discourse in a thread where the OP addressed directly the political element of the climate wars. Clutching at straws here.

    Yes, possibly. I hadn’t really thought of that.

  78. Willard says:

    > There is only 1 resource that I believe to be infinite, and that is human ingenuity,

    Witness the ways David and VP found to peddle in contrarian claptraps.

  79. victorpetri says:

    @Andrew
    Per capita energy production is increasing, and that is the most important measure of infinite resourcefulness. The importance of oil will wax and wane, per capita energy production will rise indefinitely.
    Policy directives as a response to market forces, is just one of many instruments mankind use to handle and overcome constraints in energy supply.

  80. Rachel M says:

    Joshua,

    Maybe there is something to be gleaned that ATTP has descended to the WUWT level of discourse in a thread …

    What do you mean, Joshua? Are there any comments in particular that you think are not appropriate?

  81. verytallguy says:

    Victor,

    I read your words very carefully. There were many of them, but in summary they encompass two premises.

    Firstly, magical thinking in that technological progress can overcome the finite nature of resources and the constraints of the laws of physics.

    Secondly, denial of the reality of the finite nature of these resources

    The reason for continued increase of extraction of resourcesin the face of predictions is simple – we’ve got better at finding and extracting them, and that we’re not any good at predicting when they run out. The latter does not offer our society any comfort whatsoever, quite the opposite.

  82. verytallguy says:

    Rachel,

    You want inappropriate? Here’s inappropriate for you: What’s the rudest elf in the world?

  83. Willard says:

    Let’s try to cheer up Joshua with this fine example of unintentional irony:

    Maslin, the head of geography at UCL, has written another of those “I won’t discuss the science with bad denier people” articles that adorn the left-wing press from time to time.

    http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2014/12/17/mark-maslin-does-fallacy.html

  84. Willard,
    Hmm, yes, I rather made the mistake of commenting on that. It didn’t go well (as one might imagine).

  85. Rachel M says:

    Rudolph? As in rude-elf??? That’s not very funny, sorry. You’re slipping, VTG.

  86. Rachel,
    What I thought of was ruder than that and started with “Go”.

  87. victorpetri says:

    @vtg
    Firstly, no, didn’t say that (again), it is just a physical reality that harder to extract oil sources are more plentiful, and thus our improving technology continuously extract more of it. I do not claim this process to be infinite.
    Secondly, no, but this really will be the final time for me to deny it. It can be quite tiresome how you continue to put words in my mouth.

    So your explanation is that we continue to be better in extracting resources. So what would be the reason to be afraid that we will run out of it in the future?
    Are you afraid we fail to improve our extraction in the future?
    Or do you think we have reached the bottom of the pyramid very soon?

  88. Willard says:

    I thought you commented on that other one, AT:

    Unfortunately word of this learning doesn’t yet seem to have filtered through to University College London, where Professor Maslin seems blind to the possibility that the upstarts who disagree with him might be correct despite the fact that they don’t want the UK to look more like China or North Korea.

    Another fine example of unintentional irony.

    I wonder what our beloved Bishop had in mind when he used “despite” like that.

  89. verytallguy says:

    Rachel,

    I think we can do better… the real rudest elf in the world is (drum roll)…

    The GoFuckYours Elf.

    Merry Christmas!

  90. Willard says:

    > I do not claim this process to be infinite.

    Only the ingenuity to perfect this process to extract every ounce of what remains, and of course an infinite ingenuity to deal with what happens next. In other words:

    https://contrarianmatrix.wordpress.com/future-is-bright/

  91. Willard,

    Another fine example of unintentional irony.

    My initial comment there was an attempt to point out exactly that irony. It didn’t get acknowledged.

    vtg,
    I think that is what I had guessed 🙂

  92. Rachel M says:

    The GoFuckYours Elf.

    Ok, that’s better. Merry Christmas to you too and everyone else!

    I’m about to go on holiday and I am in holiday mode

  93. verytallguy says:

    Victor,

    “very soon” – your words not mine. I made no such claim. And there’s you accusing me of putting words in your mouth.

    You are claiming, if not that resources are infinite, that “per capita energy production will rise indefinitely.” That’s weasel words and amounts to the same thing- either magical thinking or depletion denial.

    Here’s my claim:

    Either we will emit sufficient CO2 as to have a massively detrimental effect on the world through climate change, or we will hit a resource crunch through depletion of fossil fuel resources. Both scenarios have an obvious policy imperative to mitigate emissions.

  94. Joshua says:

    Rachel –

    ==> “What do you mean, Joshua? Are there any comments in particular that you think are not appropriate?”

    No, not any comments in particular. And to be semantic – I don’t think that any comments are inappropriate. They are what they are.

    Maybe I’m must in a bad mood (I have a contractor suing me because he lied to me about doing some work and now I won’t pay him for other work he did until we reconcile his lie. It has thrown me for a loop because I find it very depressing to deal with how differently some people approach right and wrong).

    But the overall tenor of the thread seemed to be more along the lines of nakedly identity-aggressive and identity-defensive behaviors than the norm here.

    Fortunately, willard cheered me up with a fine exemplar of unintentional irony and VTG put the thread back on course with his 3:59 PM comment. 🙂

  95. Joshua,

    But the overall tenor of the thread seemed to be more along the lines of nakedly identity-aggressive and identity-defensive behaviors than the norm here.

    That is probably true, but I’m also in a bad mood 🙂 I’m also starting to think that taking a harder line would be beneficial. Of course, I really only mean with those who genuinely refute anthropogenic influences on our climate, not with those who are genuinely skeptical, nor with those who broadly accept the science but have others views about how we should respond. In fact, more discussions with people who held the latter view would be quite an improvement, I think.

  96. Rachel M says:

    Thanks, Joshua. Actually, my choice of word “inappropriate” was a bad choice. I hate that word! Inappropriate is perfectly fine and should be encouraged 🙂

  97. victorpetri says:

    @vtg
    “Or do you think we have reached the bottom of the pyramid very soon?”
    It’s a question, hence the question mark.
    And yes, per capita energy will grow indefinitely.
    The theoretical amount of energy is practically infinite on Earth itself, but on those large timescales it is reasonable to consider space as our source for resource extraction.
    I explain it in my blog:
    https://humansrunderrated.wordpress.com/2012/10/02/the-infinite-resource/

    So here’s my claim:
    CO2 will prove to be a problem as solvable as any other. Per capita energy use will increase indefinitely. Societies in 2100 will prove to be much wealthier than 2000, as well as use much more energy, just like when comparing 2000 to 1900, 1900 to 1800, to 1700, to 1600, to 1500 etc. etc. etc Mankind’s progress will continue in the face of doomsayers like you, whatever the latest hype in doomsthinking.

  98. jsam says:

    I enjoyed reading the tenets of Victor’s faith. Magic can solve anything.

  99. verytallguy says:

    Thanks Victor. Your position is clear to me, it’s simple Panglossian thinking. Someone else provided an excellent parody of it, let’s see if I can find it… here we go…

    All great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage.

    We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.

    It is for these reasons that we should do nothing and just wait for someone to invent an antigravity machine.

    http://www.coveredinbees.org/node/459

  100. Joshua says:

    ==> ” I’m also starting to think that taking a harder line would be beneficial. Of course, I really only mean with those who genuinely refute anthropogenic influences on our climate, not with those who are genuinely skeptical, nor with those who broadly accept the science but have others views about how we should respond. In fact, more discussions with people who held the latter view would be quite an improvement, I think.”

    I read a bit of your exchange at Bishop Hill, and felt that what transpired was depressingly predicable. IMO, there are probably some people over there who will exchange views in good faith, but certainly that wouldn’t be the case with the majority. The majority buy into the “People who disagree with me are sociopaths” scorched-earth, zero sum gain line of reasoning. You are the enemy. You are morally inferior. You are desirous of a North-Korea-like state. You will attempt to cover any form of fraudulence to pursue your agenda. IMO, the only way to deal with people like that is to leave the door open for reasoned exchange, but otherwise to approach interaction from the mindset of not expecting good faith exchange. At Climate Etc., there is the occasional “skeptic” who’s willing to share views with an open mind to mutual insight, but there’s no point in approaching anyone there with that hope in mind until you’ve first established that they are not the more typical commenter.

    As you probably know, I fail to see what benefit might come from the “harder line” approach. You don’t need a harder line with those who exchange in good faith, and those who aren’t interested in good faith will not be affected by your harder line – they will only use it as further evidence to reinforce their identity-aggression and defense.

    ==> “Of course, I really only mean with those who genuinely refute anthropogenic influences on our climate, not with those who are genuinely skeptical,…”

    Hmmm. But the determination of who is or isn’t genuinely skeptical will necessarily be subjective. I’m wondering if, among all the folks you’ve encountered in the online discourse, you can think of anyone that you’ve encountered that you think is genuinely skeptical. Clive Best, maybe? Who are these folks of which you speak?

    ==> “those who broadly accept the science but have others views about how we should respond. ”

    I assume that might be your description of what an authentic skeptic (without quotes) might look like? So that might mean a “luke-warmer?” Except that very many “skeptics” don the “lukewarmer” mantle yet employ the same facile arguments as “skeptics” (with quotes). In that sense, I’d say that Pekka might fit your description – which would be an interesting shift in terminology.

    Maybe, if you’re going to use moderation, the guiding principle should be that you’re only interested in discussions with people who aren’t arguing the science but in the policy implications of the science. Of course, seeking respite there would be problematic because of the overlap of the range of uncertainty in the science and the range of uncertainty in the policy implications. It would also, I think, be somewhat unnatural for you since as a scientist, your innate interest is in examining the science.

    I’d suggest that this post might have engendered a more useful discussion if you had not, yourself, mixed the two. There’s no need to defend against the overtly political rhetoric of someone like the good Bishop. Those who agree with him won’t be impressed with your defense. Those who agree with you don’t need to read your defense. The advantage of this blog is that it might serve as a wedge into the larger discussion: it could be a forum for opening up exchange between people who have the level of sophistication necessary to intelligently discuss the overlap in uncertainty in the science with the uncertainty in policy implications. In other words, the benefit might be that it could be a forum for folks like you and Pekka and Tom C and Victor to discuss the politics. And if “luke-warmers” like mosher, or some of the others who seem to be consistent in their scientific acceptance of the full range of uncertainty in the evidence, want to leave behind the facile “skeptic”-like idenity-defensive and identity-aggressive arguments they employ when addressing the policy implications, then the good discussions that sometimes break out here could be nurtured. I do think, however, that you will be ill-served in pursuing that agenda (if that’s what you want) to the extent that you employ the “denier” and “hard-line” orientation. In doing so, you will, IMO, undermine the potential for allowing those who might be capable of good faith exchange to supress their reflexive identity-aggressive and identity-defensive behaviors. (note, I am not saying that they employ those behaviors only in response to your actions…..just that you could make it slightly less likely that they will cave to those tendencies that already exist).

    /rant off.

  101. Joshua says:

    Rachel –

    ==> ” I hate that word!”

    Yeah. Me too.

  102. verytallguy says:

    ATTP,

    did you read that GWPF report? I’ve not but have now had a look at the conclusion.

    A more egregiously mendacious piece of propaganda would be hard to find.

    …that consensus is protected
    by a willingness on the part of some, hopefully just a small minority,
    to resort to clearly unethical methods to coerce scientists like Lennart Bengtsson
    away from questioning any aspect of the climate consensus that has so
    far been reached, and despite the appearance of intriguing anomalies like the
    current 16–18-year pause in global mean surface temperature rises.

    Bring me the sick bag.

    Willard – you’d love it.

  103. Joshua says:

    VTG –

    For some unexplainable reason I also thought I’d give reading the report a shot…but started skimming from the beginning before parsing the conclusion (sometimes I do that as a reading technique)….I got as far as the first mention of Bengtssongate — where there was no sign of an effort to view the kerfuffle from an academic, dispassionate, objective, two-sided, or even argumentative perspective; nothing other than argument by assertion. Same ol’ same ol.’–

    and new there’d be no point in reading further…

  104. Joshua, I would not say the lukewarmers are any better than people who deny that CO2 has any influence, that we are on our way to an ice age or that all extreme events are 100% due to climate change. What matter is whether people are willing to listen, use arguments and are able to accept evidence.

    In real life I have such normal discussions occasionally. When I have to tell people that I am a climatologist, e.g. hotel clerks. These people often ask critical questions, quite similar ones to the ones in the climate “debate”, is is warming, how do we know it is us, hasn’t the warming stopped, but these people are also interested in my arguments and in the evidence. They listen so that they can ask better follow up questions. I have no idea whether I change their opinion that way, but it at least feels like a real conversation, like a real exchange of ideas and arguments. Real life is so unlike the blog “debate”.

    I agree that it is normally better to stay polite. If that is too hard, better ignore the nonsense. That is also a signal that it is nonsense.

  105. Joshua says:

    Oops…Just checked back… actually I was skimming the conclusion!

  106. victorpetri says:

    @jsam
    Yes, now you get it, it’s magic.
    Thanks for your interest in my opinion. It’s such a respectable way of discussing when you try and really comprehend someone’s point of view.
    @vtg
    Yes, do nothing, that’s my point of view. Resources are infinite, sit back, relax and do nothing. You as well many thanks for this invigorating exchange of views.

    I have already stopped replying to BBD and Willard, not many will be left to reply to real soon.

  107. In real life we meet a more representative sample of the whole population than the self selected participants of net discussions.

  108. jsam says:

    V – if you make claims for which there is no evidence and I notice I accept I must have the problem.

    Where is your evidence for:
    – CO2 will prove to be a problem as solvable as any other.
    – Per capita energy use will increase indefinitely.
    – Societies in 2100 will prove to be much wealthier than 2000, as well as use much more energy, just like when comparing 2000 to 1900, 1900 to 1800, to 1700, to 1600, to 1500 etc. etc. etc
    – Mankind’s progress will continue in the face of doomsayers like you, whatever the latest hype in doomsthinking.

    I would say that the evidence supports recognised there is a problem and then trying to fix it, on an international scale if required. I would cite the precedent of dealing with CFCs, acid rain and many others.

    CO2 is a solvable problem. You just don’t like the solutions.

  109. Joseph says:

    I have always said to skeptics that no one would care about AGW unless it had societal and policy implications. Many of those from the conservative side have chosen to reject the science to prevent the policies that are not consistent with their ideology from being enacted.

  110. Willard says:

    > Resources are infinite, sit back, relax and do nothing.

    The original victoptri’s even better.

    On resources:

    The theoretical amount of energy is practically infinite on Earth itself, but on those large timescales it is reasonable to consider space as our source for resource extraction.

    On sitting back:

    CO2 will prove to be a problem as solvable as any other.

    On relaxing:

    Mankind’s progress will continue in the face of doomsayers like you.

    There’s no need to caricature such beautiful examples of vigorous something.

  111. Joshua says:

    Victor –

    There is some sub-set of people who self-define as “lukewarmers” who I think are somewhat more consistent than the run-of-the-mill climate combatant w/r/t “accepting the science” as Anders describes, but who differ from someone like Anders w/r/t the necessarily connected discussion of the policy implications of the science. The problem, IMO, is that sometimes they lack consistency in their acceptance of the science. But discussions with them would be a lost cause, IMO. No net gain from exchanging with them, usually, because they won’t acknowledge their scientific inconsistency.

    But also problematic is that sometimes “luke-warmers” employ fallacious “skeptical” arguments in the sense not so much that they reject the science but in that they violate basic principles of good faith exchange and instead their arguments become characterized by identity-aggression and identity-defense because of their ideological orientation. Perhaps exchange with them is no more likely to be productive than exchange with people who flat out don’t accept the scientific evidence that Anders speaks about. But I think there is some kind of a distinction there. So maybe we have four levels.

    1. Someone who flat out rejects the evidence Anders views as unequivocal
    2. Someone who accepts the “basic” evidence (although they might not accept some not materially important evidence around the edges), but who doesn’t remain consistent in that acceptance.
    3). Someone who accepts the evidence, remains consistent in accepting the evidence, differs w/r/t views on policy, but employs fallacious arguments about the science because of their differing ideological orientation and,
    4) Someone who accepts the evidence, remains consistent in accepting the fundamental evidence, differs w/r/t views on policy, and is respectful enough towards the policy discussion to exchange views in good faith.

    So maybe what’s key is whether a “luke-warmer” could theoretically fit into category #4? Are there any “luke-warmers” who agree with Anders, say, about the basic evidence (in other words, even though they might disagree about the precise probabilities w/r/t sensitivity, acknowledge that the uncertainty extends in both directions and must be dealt with in both directions), but disagree with him about the policy implications of the evidence and can exchange views on those policy implications w/o employing fallacious arguments?

    ==> ” What matter is whether people are willing to listen, use arguments and are able to accept evidence.”

    Well, yes. That is a prerequisite for mutually enlightening discussion. Of course, “accepting evidence” does become tricky…lost of room for subjectivity there. I happen to think that “listening” is the key, and maybe the most difficult task to accomplish. There is, IMO, very, very little “listening” that goes on in these discussions.

  112. Joshua,
    You make me think too hard about my posts 🙂

    As you probably know, I fail to see what benefit might come from the “harder line” approach. You don’t need a harder line with those who exchange in good faith, and those who aren’t interested in good faith will not be affected by your harder line – they will only use it as further evidence to reinforce their identity-aggression and defense.

    You’re right. I expressed myself poorly. I didn’t mean “hardline” as in more aggressive. What I really meant was that we should stop pandering to those who are clearly in denial. I don’t even mean that on an individual level, more in a generic sense. There are clearly those who largely deny AGW and we shouldn’t be afraid to point that out.

    I’m wondering if, among all the folks you’ve encountered in the online discourse, you can think of anyone that you’ve encountered that you think is genuinely skeptical.

    There are a few. Even today on BH there were a couple who seemed to at least acknowledge that their issue is more with the policy than with the science. I was quite impressed with that. There are some others who seem quite well-informed and mainly have an issue with policy than with science, but they are few and far between. I do think, though, that even these people rarely manage to avoid some of the conspiracy-like ideas that are common in the blogosphere (Climategate, for example).

    ’d suggest that this post might have engendered a more useful discussion if you had not, yourself, mixed the two. There’s no need to defend against the overtly political rhetoric of someone like the good Bishop. Those who agree with him won’t be impressed with your defense.

    I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at here. To be honest, though, this post may not have been well-thought out. In a sense, I’m quite pleased to see a UK-based climate scientist writing somewhat stronger articles. It may end up being the wrong approach, but I’m not sure what the right one is. The other issue (that I think I tried to get across in the post) is that I do find this issue a bit of an issue. I agree that the real debate is about policy not science, but I’m a scientist and had thought that I might be able to contribute to improving the scientific discourse. That is probably a naive ambition, but I don’t really feel in a position to contribute to a serious debate on policy.

    That doesn’t mean that I won’t express my opinion when I want to, but I’m reluctant to actively try and promote particular policy views. I suspect what I will do is simply write whatever I feel like writing at that moment in time. Sometimes I may get it more right than at others. I might learn something, if noone else does 🙂

    VTG,
    I did try and read most of that report and pretty much noticed the same things you did. Anyone who can use the Bengttson affair as some indication of an ethical problem in science, isn’t really thinking hard enough.

  113. I wrote: “able to accept evidence”, not “accepts evidence”. Asking critical questions was included earlier (not every sentence in a comment is as perfectly composed as one in a scholarly article).

  114. Lucifer says:

    The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Myth-Rational-Voter-Democracies/dp/0691138737

  115. I prefer talking to someone who has new arguments and evidence why the Earth is not warming at all, if it is possible to have a rational debate about the well-formulated arguments.

    That is better than someone who claims that the warming is only half of what science says. And derives that number on the consideration that 10% less is not policy relevant, more than 90% is not credible, and 50% is about the PR optimum. Then comes up with some flimsy or even dishonest reason why it is 50%, in the worst case fudges the evidence or hides critical computational steps that produce the erroneous result.

    Maybe that is just me.

  116. ATTP,

    I’m also starting to think that taking a harder line would be beneficial.

    It’s difficult to imagine that the result would be any worse. I read your comments over at BH and thought you were direct and frank about your disapproval. If that’s your harder line, I see no issue. It should not be considered impolite to pointedly disagree with someone’s argument in a public forum on a topic of such significant importance. You say that it didn’t go well this round, I think you played it perfectly. Any reasonable person reading that thread would see the thin-skinned aggression, cheap rhetorical tactics and the general sloppy thinking in the responses to you.

    Nothing will convince the hard-line contrarians because they are not reasonable people. I write to them, but not for them. And not to “win” the debate, but to not lose.

  117. Willard says:

    > And not to “win” the debate, but to not lose.

    ClimateBall ™ – the only losing move is not to play

  118. Brandon,

    If that’s your harder line, I see no issue.

    Thanks, but apparently I’m pompous, pedantic, superior, hypocritical and my tone is polarising.

    It should not be considered impolite to pointedly disagree with someone’s argument in a public forum on a topic of such significant importance.

    Well, I agree and it is a little disappointing that some seem to regard tone trolling as more important that actually engaging with the topic.

  119. Joseph says:

    To me someone in denial would be a person who believes that there is no possibility of damaging consequences from AGW and or reducing our carbon emissions now will have little to no impact on those risks. I think the consensus (IPCC) position fits within this scope. I also think that definition probably applies to someone like Dr. Curry because she seems to believe that we should do nothing right now to avoid the risks. I

  120. BBD says:

    victorpetri

    I have already stopped replying to BBD and Willard, not many will be left to reply to real soon.

    It won’t stop me pointing out that most of what you say is facile rubbish.

  121. Reported today that, in 2013, global co2 emissions grew by 2% to a new all-time record of 35.3 billion tonnes. Sharp risers included Brazil (6.2%), India (4.4%) and China (4.2%).
    A rational person would surely draw the following conclusions:-
    1. The world is addicted to cheap energy (5 tonnes of co2 emitted per head, annually)
    2. A policy response that involves substituting cheap fossil fuels with expensive renewable energy has demonstrably failed to gain acceptance.
    3. By all means try to turn around a failing policy, but at least work on an alternative plan B. Do you have a plan B?

    To pursue the metaphor, you don’t subject a heroin addict to cold turkey, you treat them with methadone.

  122. Trevor,

    To pursue the metaphor, you don’t subject a heroin addict to cold turkey, you treat them with methadone.

    That was partly the motivation behind this post. Given that our total emissions are – largely – what will determine our overall warming, the more we emit and the faster we do it, the more likely it becomes that we’ll have to consider cold turkey than methadone (to continue your metaphor).

  123. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “What I really meant was that we should stop pandering too those who are clearly in denial.”

    I’m not sure what that means. How is pandering, and how? And how would they stop doing so?

    ==> ” There are clearly those who largely deny AGW and we shouldn’t be afraid to point that out.”

    Right. Sure. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone who is doing that, though. The problem is when you say that someone is denying AGW and they claim that they aren’t. Nothing to gain there, IMO. Time to move on – maybe to discuss policy if they are “able to accept evidence,” as Victor describes.

    ==> “I was quite impressed with that.”

    Right. So engage with them. Make fun of the others, or ignore them, whatever. Just don’t expect to have a discussion with them.

    ==> ” There are some others who seem quite well-informed and mainly have an issue with policy than with science, but they are few and far between. I do think, though, that even these people rarely manage to avoid some of the conspiracy-like ideas that are common in the blogosphere (Climategate, for example).”

    Right. So tease out the differences. Make fun of, ignore, whatever the others. I have found that some who lean towards the conspiracy ideation can sometimes engage on the topic. Some even force me to look deeper into my own beliefs. After all, for me, if there’s a point to any of this is it to have an opportunity to test my own beliefs for bias. Some “skeptics” are able to help me do that. The rest are just a source of amusement. Nothing that happens here will make any difference anyway, and as Pekka keeps pointing out, folks here are ouliers. Trying to generalize to the larger whole from engagement with online climate fanatics is a very flawed premise, IMO.

    ==> “I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at here”

    Just that I think it’s important to not conflate the political discussion with the scientific discussion – something which is incredibly avoid since they are so inter-related. So then, I think, you have to be explicit and clear about overlapping the two.

    ==> ” I agree that the real debate is about policy not science, but I’m a scientist and had thought that I might be able to contribute to improving the scientific discourse”

    But you have a clear line about where the valid discussion about the science lies. Think about it. It is self-defeating to think that you can contribute to the scientific discourse by talking about the science with people that you then say have a fundamentally flawed approach to the science. I mean it’s not like you think they’re open-minded to examining their own reasoning. So maybe you discuss the science to challenge your own understanding? Fine. Makes sense to do that, IMO. But that won’t change anyone else’s view if they aren’t open to having their views challenged.

    ==> “[improving the scientific discourse] is probably a naive ambition,”

    I think so.

    ==> “but I don’t really feel in a position to contribute to a serious debate on policy.”

    As compared to who? Ridley? Da good bishop? Richard Tol? Judith? Watts? I think that you can contribute to the serious debate on the policy because: (1) unlike most folks, you understand the science and, (2) you take a scientific approach to discussing policy – which is unlike most folks who are discussing the policy. People need that kind of model.

    ==> “That doesn’t mean that I won’t express my opinion when I want to, but I’m reluctant to actively try and promote particular policy views.”

    Why? If what you mean is that you don’t feel confident enough in your policy views to assert the strongly, then I would argue that means that you should be quite open, as a model, in wrestling with the uncertainties.

    ==> ” I suspect what I will do is simply write whatever I feel like writing at that moment in time. Sometimes I may get it more right than at others. I might learn something, if noone else does :-)”

    IMO – that is exactly the best approach to engaging in discussion about policy views.

    Victor –

    ==> “Asking critical questions was included earlier”

    I am struck with how infrequently I see people in these discussions ask critical questions. Critical questions are a hallmark of an empowered learner who is executing meta-cognitive control over their reasoning process.

  124. Joshua,
    We probably agree about the “hardline” comment. It was poorly phrased by me and what you describe is probably roughly what I think and probably meant (although I can no longer really remember what I was actually thinking at the time).

    Just that I think it’s important to not conflate the political discussion with the scientific discussion – something which is incredibly avoid since they are so inter-related. So then, I think, you have to be explicit and clear about overlapping the two.

    Yes, I agree. It is difficult and it is something that I may not have done a good job of differentiating between in this post.

    IMO – that is exactly the best approach to engaging in discussion about policy views.

    That’s what I shall try and do then 🙂

  125. …and Then There’s Physics

    Your headline is “Talk politics not science”.
    My contention is that you are not following your own advice!
    Do global co2 emissions of 35.3 billion tons in 2013, an increase of 2% over the previous year, represent policy failure or policy success?
    If failure, then at least consider alternatives.
    Because I see no evidence that anything is about to change, either now or in the near future.
    One possible alternative is solar radiation management techniques; I am sure that there are others.
    Flexibility is a virtue, captains who go down with their sinking ships tend to drown!

  126. Trevor,

    My contention is that you are not following your own advice!

    Yes, you’re quite right. Part of the post was pointing out how, as a scientist, I find this a difficult transition. I realise now that this is really a policy issue and not a science issue, but my expertise is science, not policy.

  127. Ian Forrester says:

    Trevor Reading said:

    2. A policy response that involves substituting cheap fossil fuels with expensive renewable energy has demonstrably failed to gain acceptance.

    There are at least two pieces of misinformation in this statement. Firstly, fossil fuels are not “cheap” if all their associate costs are included. Secondly, it is wrong to call renewable energy as being “expensive”. There are many cases now where renewable energy is cheaper than fossil fuels and the price lessens every year..

    The deniers always use these two pieces of misinformation to argue against the replacement of fossil fuels with cleaner alternatives.

  128. > Do you have a plan B?

    Making what is now cheap energy more expensive is a start. Not exactly a plan B, as it’s the same plan than for fossil fuel, but for something else:

    http://priceofoil.org/fossil-fuel-subsidies/

    And that’s notwithstanding the costs of wars, occupations, etc.

  129. …and Then There’s Physics

    None of us are experts in politics/policy!
    Let me try this as a possible explanation, for at least a kernel of truth.
    Scientists have won the debate on climate change, Kyoto did not happen by accident.
    But, as long as you insist that the only way to solve the problem is by utilising expensive renewable energy, you are doomed to failure. Hope I am wrong about that. But, in my view, politicians will never be able to sell that solution to their electorate (or citizens).
    Too many other problems, all more urgent.
    An expensive solution to a medium term problem like climate change is never likely to get properly addressed until New York is actually drowning, not just forecast to drown.
    So, at least attempt to find a plan B (and C, and D…)
    Ideological purity does not buy you many allies.

    Ian

    We obviously live on different planets.
    On my planet, “associate costs” are not considered unless their effects are immediate and compelling. That’s human nature.
    And, on my planet, if two things do the same job we buy the cheaper, so if renewable energy is not being generally taken up it is because it is more expensive.

  130. Richard says:

    I am probably a little late to this particular multi-threaded discussion, but here are some thoughts on the original proposal (talk politics not science to contrarians):

    Firstly, continue talking science with scientists, and those interested in the science, and answering questions, or clarifying uncertainties (which we acknowledge).

    Secondly, debating science with those unable to participate is deeply problematic (if they are contrarians, it is like picking a scab, which means it never heals). In any case, the vociferous contrarians are a minority with an influence I think we greatly exaggerate.

    Thirdly, I would suggest a better goal is to reach those genuinely interested (a) policy makers / influencers and (b) through outreach, the majority of the population who may be dazed, confused and probably mostly disengaged, who would welcome an opportunity to understand the science better.

    Finally, the topics for discussion and debate which are not climate science, go well beyond mere ‘politics’, but are hugely important. These include … justice, energy policy, water management, flood defences, insurance markets, migration, food policy, GM crops, … because climate change touches on almost everything in life and society.

    Conclusion: We need a way to use our creative energies to reconfigure the target audience(s) and the appropriate conversation(s).

  131. > if two things do the same job we buy the cheaper, so if renewable energy is not being generally taken up it is because it is more expensive.

    Price is not cost.

  132. BBD says:

    Conclusion: We need a way to use our creative energies to reconfigure the target audience(s) and the appropriate conversation(s).

    It seems Mr Murdoch got that memo before we did.

  133. BBD says:

    Price is not cost.

    But externalities denial is a subset of physics denial.

  134. Speaking of reconfiguration, and to echo Sou’s remark that politics was not policy:

    [O]ne idea that Frum highlighted is more radical: a guaranteed basic income, otherwise known as just giving people money.

    The idea isn’t new. As Frum notes, Friederich Hayek endorsed it. In 1962, the libertarian economist Milton Friedman advocated a minimum guaranteed income via a “negative income tax.” In 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.” Richard Nixon unsuccessfully tried to pass a version of Friedman’s plan a few years later, and his Democratic opponent in the 1972 presidential election, George McGovern, also suggested a guaranteed annual income.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/08/why-arent-reformicons-pushing-a-guaranteed-basic-income/375600/

    I’m sure our beloved Bishop would appreciate the idea of a basic income.

  135. verytallguy says:

    Trevor,

    It would indeed be nice if there were a viable plan B.

    Unfortunately all the ones I’ve seen involve breaking the laws of physics.

    Inconvenient, isn’t it.

  136. verytallguy says:

    Right, that’s me done for 2014.

    New Years resolution inspired by ATTPs post is to spend less time online with science deniers and more time in the real world where I might just make more of a difference.

    Happy Christmas all.

  137. BBD says:

    Happy Christmas, VTG

    But New Year Resolutions already?

    🙂

  138. Eli Rabett says:

    Allow Eli to send Ian an immediate and compelling postcard from China

  139. Eli Rabett says:

    FWIW, there is a simple answer to the end of oil. When the energy cost of extraction equals the energy gain from combustion. Bunnies can quibble about plastic feedstocks.

  140. jsam says:

    Denialists will only tell you that sunsets are improved, Eli. There is no downside if you squint.

  141. anoilman says:

    You don’t have to wear sunglasses… 🙂

  142. BBD says:

    The future’s so bright…

  143. ATTP,

    Those are such fine qualities though. They should have no complaint, they’re obviously just as proud of them.

  144. Eli, I saw a snippet recently about plastics derived from cyanobacteria or some similar microorganism. Nevertheless I’ve sometimes raised the issue that one argument for not burning quite so much crude is to keep our necessary petrochemical industry in raw material.

  145. WebHubTelescope says:

    Now one can see why any previous attempt to talk climate science with Victor Petri was doomed from the start. Bring up Peak Oil and the contrarian roots are exposed. Works every time.

  146. anoilman says:

    Trevor Redding: i love your line about geoengineering by controlling solar radiation. Maybe you should stick to politics, and leave the engineering to the engineers. Hmm? Your plan to destroy the planet while attempting to keep it at a comfy temperature is incredibly misguided. (CO2 kills the oceans too.)

    Page 6 has the numbers you’re looking for; Costs on renewables are way down, and carbon CCS is still a pipe dream.
    http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/capitalcost/

    There are no pleasant costs for removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

  147. Lars Karlsson says:

    It’s ironic that the so-called ethics essay from the GWPF starts by misrepresenting Schneider. He was talking about how to be heard in an age of sound-bite media, and not about scientific practice. He has never suggested that scientists should compromise with the latter.

  148. Lars Karlsson says:

    Quite from the “ethics” essay:
    “However, Schneider’s words in 1989 have served as an invitation to climate scientists to dilute or violate the ethics of scientific practice while – and this is important to grasp – viewing their actions as ethical because of a desire to make the world a better place. ”

    It seems to me that that would be a more accurate as a description of the essay author himself (Peter Lee).

  149. Rachel M says:

    I’m interested in ethics so I thought I’d check out that essay too and WOW! Only the fly on the wall in my study can hear what I really think of it but I’ll just say in this thread that it isn’t very good. At one point he says,

    “climate change has developed
    into a social phenomenon to be used to advance personal and political interests
    and not a physical problem to be overcome”

    What interests exactly? No-one wants the climate change problem. It’s nothing but a massive pain in the arse. The only personal and political interests at stake here are those of fossil fuel companies, investors of fossil fuels, and proponents of right-wing political philosophies.

  150. Rachel M says:

    Here’s a far better discussion of the ethics of climate change

  151. anoilman says:

    The current ethics from the opposition to dealing with Global Warming, is “How Low Can We Go?”

    They persistently compare themselves to the worst polluters, and say, we’re better than the worst. Is that how anyone here has raised their kids? “Hey Son, are you better than the worst of the worst in your class? Yes? Good job son!”.

    Ethics are usually a discussion about being the best, and not second to worst.

  152. Lars Karlsson says:

    Schneider explains what he means.

    A quote:

    “Vested interests have repeatedly claimed I advocate exaggerating threats. Their “evidence” comes from partially quoting my Discover interview, almost always – like Simon – omitting the last line and the phrase “double ethical bind.” They also omit my solutions to the double ethical bind: (1) use metaphors that succinctly convey both urgency and uncertainty (pg. xi of Ref. 3) and (2) produce an inventory of written products from editorials to articles to books, so that those who want to know more about an author’s views on both the caveats and the risks have a hierarchy of detailed written sources to which they can turn. What I was telling the Discover interviewer, of course, was my disdain for a soundbite-communications process that imposes the double ethical bind on all who venture into the popular media. To twist my openly stated and serious objections to the soundbite process into some kind of advocacy of exaggeration is a clear distortion. Moreover, not only do I disapprove of the “ends justify the means” philosophy of which I am accused, but, in fact have actively campaigned against it in myriad speeches and writings. Instead, I repeatedly advocate that scientists explicitly warn their audiences that “what to do” is a value choice as opposed to “what can happen” and “what are the odds,” which are scientific issues (e.g. p. 213 of Ref. 3). I also urge that scientists, when they offer probabilities, work hard to distinguish which are objective and which are subjective, as well as what is the scientific basis for any probability offered. For such reasons I was honored to receive, in 1991, the AAAS/Westinghouse Award for the Public Understanding of Science.”

  153. Lars Karlsson says:

    Schneider is on page 5 in the link above.

  154. Rachel M says:

    Peter Singer at 22:55 in the video –

    It’s an enormous wrong that we are doing that we now know we’re doing, at least for the last 15 years we’ve known I think without any real shadow of a doubt that we’re doing it and yet we’re continuing to do it. It’s hard to think of a more serious piece of ethical wrongdoing on this kind of scale that has happened at any time before.

  155. victorpetri says:

    @jsam
    “– CO2 will prove to be a problem as solvable as any other.
    – Per capita energy use will increase indefinitely.
    – Societies in 2100 will prove to be much wealthier than 2000, as well as use much more energy, just like when comparing 2000 to 1900, 1900 to 1800, to 1700, to 1600, to 1500 etc. etc. etc”

    I cannot give evidence of future, as I am not from it. It is an opinion based on historical trends, understanding of the mechanism behind such historical trends and an understanding of the viability of extrapolating those trends.
    GDP per capita growth since 1500:

    Energy per capita growth since 1820:

    And I agree their are solutions to CO2, but I believe them to be in the domain of geo-engineering.

    Evidence for theoretical practically infinite energy:
    Lithium from sea water would last 60 million years, however, and a more complicated fusion process using only deuterium from sea water would have fuel for 150 billion years.[143] To put this in context, 150 billion years is close to 30 times the remaining lifespan of the sun,[144] and more than 10 times the estimated age of the universe.
    http://www.agci.org/dB/PDFs/03S2_MMauel_SafeFusion%3F.pdf

  156. Lars Karlsson says:

    The really offensive part about Peter Lee’s treatment of Schneider is that Lee goes beyond the spurious “exaggeration” interpretation that is common among denial list and misrepresents Schneider’s words as an invitation to “dilute or violate the ethics of scientific practice”.

  157. anoilman says:

    victorpetri: We didn’t get to the moon on airy fairy ideas, and hoping someone would go there in the future for us.

    We got there by solving the problem and going.

    But if you want to believe in magic fairy dust and silicon snake oil, you go right ahead. By the way, there is only one Geo-engineering solution… pulling the CO2 out of the atmosphere, and currently that costs somewhere around $150 a ton. How many kilo tons do you put up a year?

  158. Lars,
    I agree, I think that report is extremely poor and it’s disappointing that an actual academic would make the type of arguments that one only expects to see in blog comments on “skeptic” sites.

    This whole type of thing seems pretty standard, though. Most of my time on Bishop Hill yesterday was spent trying to point out that much of what was being said appeared to confirm Maslin’s argument (“fear of turning into North Korea), pointing that his article didn’t say what some claimed it said (which they defended on the basis of it being obvious what he meant) and defending myself against somewhat unpleasant accusations that I’m not very pleasant. Irony and self-awareness re clearly terms not well understood by some.

  159. victorpetri says:

    @anoilman
    I think it were more people like me that enabled our trip to the moon, than the type of risk averse people that you all seem to be.

  160. I think it were more people like me that enabled our trip to the moon, than the type of risk averse people that you all seem to be.

    Really, care to explain that? (maybe without throwing around veiled insults in the process).

  161. victorpetri says:

    It is not for naught that Kennedy said “The human mind is our fundamental resource”
    – J.F.Kennedy, 20-02-1961, he understood.

  162. Lars Karlsson says:

    ATTP,
    I think that essay unintentionally demonstrates the GWPF’s position on ethics: they are against it.

  163. vp,
    Yes, I doubt anyone disagrees with that. I suspect most people here think that we should be using it to find solutions to the climate change problem, not burying it in the sand.

  164. Lars,
    Yes, I think you’re right (or, at least, they have different definition to what most others have).

  165. victorpetri says:

    @attp
    What is there to explain? It is not an insult, which would mean there would be something wrong with being risk averse. I am a bit surprised how sensitive you are to perceived insults from my side, while I am being insulted in practically all comments I get.
    Where Ridley is set aside as a person that seeks out risk, as would be psychologically common for optimists, their optimism makes them (over)confident in meeting future problems. A point made by, I believe, vtg, which I thought was quite good.
    Your common denominator, I believe, the reason why you guys are so passionate in your ideas that climate change is a great danger that should be battled, is that you are the type of risk averse persons.

    I am also a too great of a risk taker, I must acknowledge it, it is what makes me quite a good poker player as well, but it probably makes me someone that underestimates climate change problems. I am trying to test my optimism daily, your blog has been very helpful.

    Than to the moon, it was a very risky thing to do, for which, rationally little arguments could be made then. It would be risk takers that enabled it, I think, just like flying the Atlantic before it, or colonizing Mars in the future will.

  166. victorpetri says:

    @attp
    The human mind is an infinite resource, that was more the point I intended to make, tying back to earlier comments I had made on future energy production.

  167. Andrew Dodds says:

    victorpetri:

    It is interesting to note that your graph of per capita energy shows a basic flatlining since the 1970s, with just an uptick in recent years, due to China going on a state-driven development drive based on massive coal burning. Apparently state-backed mass pollution is ‘the march of human ingenuity’. Who knew?

    Indeed, it’s another interesting observation that the neoliberal takeover from the late 1970s just happened to coincide with a flat-lining of energy per capita (and also a flat-lining of real wages). The dogmatic free marketeers have impoverished us all, just as dogmatic communists would.

    The thing is, I do believe that humans are capable of solving the problems of energy and pollution, but what I don’t believe is that we can just sit around and suddenly it’ll happen by some magical process. It’ll happen if we have engineers put together a viable zero-emission technology suite, and we give them the hundreds of billions of pounds needed to make it a reality. It’d be like rescuing the banks, except cheaper and there would be long term benefits to doing it.

    It won’t happen if we enact a carbon tax, because the cheapest response to a carbon tax is to buy sufficient politicians to have it repealed – human ingenuity, you see.

  168. Lars Karlsson says:

    victorpetri,
    It is one thing taking risks with yourself or a small group of consenting people.
    It is another thing taking risks with millions or billions of people, including many who are not even born yet.

  169. victorpetri says:

    @Lars
    Being too risk averse might be very damaging as well for millions or billions of people.

  170. vp,

    I am a bit surprised how sensitive you are to perceived insults from my side, while I am being insulted in practically all comments I get.

    Okay, fair point.

    Your common denominator, I believe, the reason why you guys are so passionate in your ideas that climate change is a great danger that should be battled, is that you are the type of risk averse persons.

    The problem I have with this argument is that if we continue to increase our emissions then the evidence suggests that the risk will be severe. It is not illogical to want to avoid that. In fact it’s only really risk averse in the sense that deciding not to jump of a cliff is risk averse. On the other hand, the fear of economic catastrophe is also a form of risk aversion but appears to be based on much flimsier evidence that the evidence that underpins physical climatology. That’s why I find the Ridley “Rational Optimist” type of argument irritating because it appears to be based on the sense that we are more than capable of finding solutions to difficult problems but appears to also be based on a sense that we shouldn’t actively try to do so. I don’t regard an argument that goes “don’t worry, everything will be fine” particularly compelling.

  171. victorpetri says:

    @ATTP
    “In fact it’s only really risk averse in the sense that deciding not to jump of a cliff is risk averse.”
    Is this truly so, or do you perceive it as such because you are risk averse? Jumping of the cliff is a hobby for many:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbq4llUqFVM

    “That’s why I find the Ridley “Rational Optimist” type of argument irritating because it appears to be based on the sense that we are more than capable of finding solutions to difficult problems but appears to also be based on a sense that we shouldn’t actively try to do so.”
    I know Ridley’s point of view can come across as such, but he explicity denies that position in the book mentioned. What he usually argues is that the medicine shouldn’t be worse than the disease it tries to fix.

  172. Andrew Dodds says:

    I’m reminded of this joke :

    http://www.jokesgallery.com/joke.php?joke=1104&id=1

    It rained for days and days and there was a terrific flood. The water rose so high that one man was forced to climb on top of his roof and sat in the rain. As the waters came up higher a man in a rowboat came up to the house and told him to get in. “No thank you, the Lord will save me!” he said, and the man in the rowboat rowed away.

    The waters rose to the edge of the roof and still the man sat on the roof until another rowboat came by and another man told him to get in. “No thank you, the Lord will save me!” he said again, and the man rowed away.

    The waters covered the house and the man was forced to sit on his chimney as the rain poured down and a helicopter came by and another man urged him to get in or he’ll drown. “No thank you,” the man said again, “The Lord will save me!”

    After much begging and pleading the man in the helicopter gave up and flew away. The waters rose above the chimney and the man drowned and went to heaven where he met God.

    “Lord, I don’t understand,” he told Him, frustrated, “The waters rose higher and higher and I waited hours for you to save me but you didn’t! Why?”

    The Lord just shook his head and said, “What are you talking about? I sent two boats and a helicopter?!”

  173. vp,
    Ahh, I meant without some form of device for stopping you from hitting the ground at free-fall speed.

    I know Ridley’s point of view can come across as such, but he explicity denies that position in the book mentioned.

    Yes, but this seems to be standard practice. Say something that is clearly a little absurd. Then deny it is what you meant, without ever actually changing what you say. If Ridley doesn’t want what he says to sound the way it does, he should stop saying it the way he does. If you have to explain what you meant, you probably didn’t do a very good job of making it clear in the first place.

  174. BBD says:

    I am also a too great of a risk taker, I must acknowledge it, it is what makes me quite a good poker player

    Such becoming modesty.

    Being too risk averse might be very damaging as well for millions or billions of people.

    Can we stop this bollocks now please? You’ve already been warned about it once by ATTP.

  175. BBD says:

    Yes, but this seems to be standard practice. Say something that is clearly a little absurd. Then deny it is what you meant, without ever actually changing what you say.

    Standard victorpetri MO.

  176. Øystein says:

    Seems to me that vp’s “risk averse” is what I’d consider “prudent”. Also, “risk taking” would correspond to my “foolhardy”.

    Reading threads such as this one, I don’t see anyone (generally) saying “humanity won’t be able to solve this” through whatever means. What I do see, and this may be my prejudices, is that some say “we will have to identify a problem to solve it” (and in the process pointing out that solutions exist – renewables, plus adding that if externalities are put on top of gas/coal/oil prices, they would be more in line with the renewables), while others say “we’ll solve this anyway. That’s just how humans roll”.

    I find myself in the first category.

  177. victorpetri says:

    @Øystein
    Of course you would call yourself prudent, you would call yourself prudent even if you would be extremely risk averse.
    “we’ll solve this anyway. That’s just how humans roll”.
    Why do your opponents talk in slang?

  178. Øystein says:

    It was intended as a short reply, that’s why. As a detail, I’d say it ranks below what should interest people.

    As for the first bit, sure. And that goes for you as well. So if you intend to argue others as risk averse, keep in mind that reply where you yourself admit that you would see yourself as prudent even if that’s not the case..

    For me, I’d say that the collective weight of evidence should lead to prudence considering the risk. I have yet to see you justify the opposite.

  179. We should probably also recognise that jumping off a cliff with a parachute is a form of mitigation. Somehow it’s obvious that jumping off a cliff without a parachute would be foolish, but isn’t seen as obvious that increasing our emissions to the point where we risk making parts of the planet uninhabitable would also be foolish.

  180. Andrew Dodds says:

    .. or jumping off a cliff with the firm conviction that, should the rapid approach of the ground prove troublesome, you are confident that you can use your ingenuity to devise a solution.

  181. victorpetri says:

    As long as we try to catch hyperbole in a metaphor, if I may,
    To radically curb CO2 emissions would be equivalent of putting a cast on both arms, before jumping of a cliff with a parachute.

  182. vp,
    Consider this post though. Total emissions matter. In other words, how much we warm will be determined by how much we emit, not by how fast we emit it (at least in the sense of the range of emissions we can achieve in the next century). So, the longer we wait to reduce our emissions, the greater the chance that we will have to do it drastically (assuming that we wish to avoid some future level of warming). Of course, we could be lucky and discover that climate sensitivity is low. That, however, doesn’t remove the possibility that doing nothing now may require drastic action in the future. At least consider the possibility that what some are suggesting is that we should avoid drastic action and that your preferred option may ultimately require it.

  183. BBD says:

    Notice the implicit physics denial every time vp asserts that “we can’t” reduce emissions because the harm done will hugely outweigh the benefits.

    The initial physics denial invalidates the entire argument. It’s like asserting that you won’t fall when you jump off a cliff so there will be no consequences (externalities) if you do, so there’s no need to wear a parachute.

    Lunacy, in other words.

  184. victorpetri says:

    @attp
    It is quite likely that future efforts to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere will be much cheaper than current efforts, with improving ideas and technology. Not to come off as the ‘do nothing’-guy, again, but in the consideration of how we can as cheaply as possible diminish the cumulative content of CO2 in the atmosphere, this should be taken into account.

  185. Victor P clearly sees himself romantically as a risk-taking individual with a never-ending faith in human ability to solve problems. I must admit—and it seems I’m not alone in this—I see him more as fucking reckless.

    The first step in solving problems is to weigh up the risk they pose and react accordingly. Victor P fails at the first hurdle.

  186. BBD says:

    It is quite likely that future efforts to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere will be much cheaper than current efforts, with improving ideas and technology.

    Guess who didn’t read the link on cumulative emissions?

  187. vp,

    It is quite likely that future efforts to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere will be much cheaper than current efforts, with improving ideas and technology.

    Sure, anythings possible. Maybe look at this post and the figures in particular. Consider the following. If climate sensitivity is about the middle of the range, and we continue to increase our emissions as we are, then we will likely warm by about another degree by the mid-2040s. If we discover that, in fact, 2 degrees is a safe limit, and we wanted to achieve that, we’d need to stop all emissions instantly at that time. On the other hand, if we decide that the best we could do is fix the atmospheric CO2 concentration, we’d have to halve emissions almost instantly and then halve it again over the next 2-3 decades. So, if you really think that we can find cheaper alternatives that will make things easier in future, you’re essentially arguing that we will probably manage to discover something like this in the next two decades and discover something that could very quickly replace fossil fuels as an energy source.

    Of course, we could just hope that climate sensitivity is low.

  188. WebHubTelescope says:

    Victor Petri claimed it was people like him that enabled a trip to the moon. That’s true if shoddy second-rate analysis was a requirement.

  189. victorpetri says:

    @WHT
    Wowa, that comeback is sharp. Shoddy second rate, reminds me of your [Mod : no need for that.].

  190. Okay, enough. Let’s not let this degenerate.

  191. victorpetri says:

    Just kidding ATTP, an attempt at making a joke as corny as that of the Hub Telescope.

  192. vp,
    I know, but let’s keep it between ourselves.

  193. Willard says:

    > What [Matt] usually argues is that the medicine shouldn’t be worse than the disease it tries to fix.

    Who’s the risk taker now?

    And BTW, now vp switched to level 3:

    https://contrarianmatrix.wordpress.com/do-no-harm/

    I don’t see vp’s name in Poker databases.

    ***

    For which engineer report JFK said this clap trap about the mind as a resource, again?

    JFK’s ingenuity did not stop there, and he was quite the alpha male:

    “On the evening of July 16, 1962, according to [Washington Post executive] Jim Truitt, Kennedy and Mary Meyer smoked marijuana together. … The president smoked three of the six joints Mary brought to him. At first he felt no effects. Then he closed his eyes and refused a fourth joint. ‘Suppose the Russians did something now,’ he said.”

    http://www.substance.com/how-john-f-kennedy-smoked-medical-marijuana-in-office/17171/

  194. Joshua says:

    Lars –

    Thanks for your comments in this thread about the distortion of Schneider.

    VP – as an active “skeptic” on this thread, do you have any comment? Do you agree that given the quote that Lars provided, Schneider’s beliefs are often distorted by “skeptics” – a problem that could be easily corrected by research and reading Schneider in good faith?

  195. dikranmarsupial says:

    I’m not sure there is any point in talking politics with someone who can’t accept facts relevant to policy on the political issue under discussion, as that suggests their politics do not have a rational basis either.

  196. victorpetri says:

    @Willard
    Would you know my alias used then?
    My ‘poker-days’ are long past (at least online), don’t find the time for it anymore. My name would be VictorJP, but don’t expect too much of it.

    The “clap trap” is from a speech of Kennedy.
    The fact that Kennedy smoked Marijuana is, as a dutch person, not very shocking, nor was it surprising or in any sense diminishing what he had said.

  197. victorpetri says:

    About Schneider I am reminded by the following account by Matt Ridley:

    The following is an email that was sent in 2003 by a very senior scientist, Stephen Schneider, to a long list of other senior scientists about an article in a newspaper by an economist. Read it and see what you think of the economist, Ross McKitrick at the end.

    Hello all. Ah ha-the latest idiot-McKitrick-reenters the scene. He and another incompetent had a book signing party at the US Capitol-Mike MacCracken went and he can tell you about it-last summer. McKitrick also had an article-oped, highly refereed of course-in the Canadian National Post on June 4 this year. Here is the URL that worked back then: http://www.nationalpost.com/search/site/story.asp?id=045D5241-FD00-4773-B816-76222A771778

    It was a scream. He argued there is no such thing as global temperature change, just local-all natural variablity mostly. To prove this he had a graph of temperature trends in Erie Pennsylvania for the past 50 years (this is from memory) which showed a cooling. THat alone proves nothing, but when reading the caption I noticed the trend was for temperature in October and November!! So one station for two months consitituted his “refutation” of global warming-another even dumber than Lomborg economist way out of depth and polemicizing. I showed it to a class of Stanford freshman, and one of them said: “I wonder how many records for various combinations of months they had to run through to find one with a cooling trend?” THe freshman was smarter than this bozo. It is improtant to get that op-ed to simply tell all reporters how unbelievably incompetent he is, and should not even be given the time of day over climate issues, for which his one “contribution” is laughably incompetent. By the way, the Henderson/Castles stuff he mentions is also mostly absurd, but that is a longer discussion you all don’t need to get into-check it out in the UCS response to earlier Inhofe polemics with answers I gave them on Henderson/Castles if you want to know more about their bad economics on top of their bad climate science

    Now what did you think? If you are like me, you probably had two reactions. First that the senior scientist, Steven Schneider, is surprisingly nasty in his tone. But second that the economist, Ross McKitrick, sounds as if he really did make a fairly blatant cherry-pick to suit his confirmation bias.

    Now read the relevant section of the newspaper article that McKitrick wrote.
    …And that wasn’t the only bit of global warming fiction on TV recently. The same night as the fictional glacier melted, TVOntario interviewed David Suzuki on their current affairs show “Studio 2.” Apparently some scientists sponsored in part by the David Suzuki Foundation have put out a report arguing that global warming will cause the Great Lakes to boil dry, or overflow, or do something or other a few decades from now. Ho-hum yet another apocalyptic enviro-scare: it’s starting to drag on like a secular “Left Behind” series.

    I didn’t watch much of the interview, but what caught my attention was the claim by Mr. Suzuki that when he was a boy growing up in London Ontario, winter used to set in at the end of October, but now it’s warmed up so much winter arrives a lot later. Global warming, you see. It’s not the ups and downs but these rapid warming trends we need to worry about.

    So the next day I looked up the temperature records for the weather station at London’s airport. The data are spotty prior to WWII, but there’s a continuous record after 1940, ending at 1990. I’m guessing at Dr. S’s vintage but I figure this is early enough.

    I don’t think much of running trend lines through averaged temperature data as a way of measuring “climate,” but this is how the debate often gets framed. And it shows the October-November average temperature in London fell from 1940 to 1990 at a rate of -0.2 degrees Celsius per decade. “Fell,” as in cooling. As in, October and November are now colder, on average, than when Dr. Suzuki was a lad awaiting winter in London. The annual average also shows cooling, at about 0.1 degrees C per decade.

    Unfortunately the temperature data are not posted after 1990, at least not at the NASA collection where I was looking (http://www.giss.nasa.gov/data/update/gistemp/station_data/). But across the lake at Erie, Pennsylvania, there is a weather station that continues to post its data. The October-November temperature average there fell by 0.26 degrees C per decade from 1940 to 2001 (see chart). The annual average fell by about 0.13 degrees C per decade from 1940 to 2001. In other words the area has gotten colder, not warmer.

    Incidentally it is a real annoyance that Environment Canada no longer gives its temperature data away. Almost all the Canadian weather stations reporting into the NASA data base stopped releasing the post- 1990 numbers for free use by the public. You are expected to pay for it now. This is a government that brags about spending billions of dollars on climate change initiatives, including $350 million in the most recent budget for its so-called “Sustainable Development Technology” slush fund, not to mention tens of millions for the Climate Change Action Fund, and however many hundreds of thousands to put those asinine commercials on TV telling people that sealing their windows and turning down the heat will stop global warming. Yet they won’t spend the money to make available the basic data that would allow people to see long term, up-to-date records of local temperatures.
    Makes you wonder what they don’t want people to know.

    Global warming and Kyoto have, mercifully, been out of the public eye for a while. Some commentators who never grasped the issue in the first place have triumphantly used this as evidence that the anti-Kyoto concerns were all overblown.
    In reality the story is quiet here in Canada because the feds have all but abandoned any intention of implementing Kyoto. How that came about is a story for another day. Stateside, the global warmers are still sore about Bush’s decision to reject Kyoto, and are laying the groundwork for a new political push to bring it back. Since the idea that Kyoto would somehow benefit the global climate was always a fiction, it is only fitting that the entertainment industry is taking the lead.

    The story suddenly looks rather different, does it not? Far from cherry-picking, McKitrick was explicitly testing the hypothesis that Suzuki had advanced, namely that the local weather had warmed in the autumn. Suddenly Schneider’s nastiness seems a whole lot nastier. He gave a wholly wrong impression of McKitrick’s point to his correspondents. His email being secret until last week, none of us knew about this — least of all McKitrick.

    Notice, in passing, that the leaking of this email does not do McKitrick a favour, so it gives the lie to the idea that the leaker is picking emails that make sceptics look good. Only with McKitrick’s explanation of the background do we know just how distorted was Schneider’s attack.

    This is a glimpse of the sort of thing that those who are sceptical about dangerous climate change have had to put up with over the years — without even knowing it.
    Yuk.

  198. Joshua says:

    I am struck with how often I have read “skeptics” talking about what Schneider meant with his statements about the ethical bind faced by climate scientists, and how I have never seen any of those “skeptics” refer to Schneider’s follow-on explanation about what he meant.

    I would assume that someone who is skeptical (without quotes) would take the time to address what Schneider said about what he meant before philosophizing about the ethics of what Schneider meant.

    Yet I have seen many “skeptics” fail to perform that due diligence. One could certainly still be critical of what Schneider meant even after performing that due diligence – but to condemn Schneider’s ethics without having done the due diligence seems entirely un-se=ceptical, IMO.

    Even more so, as an academic writing a report on the topic, it seems to me that Lee has no credibility if he has not referred to Schneider’s follow-on explanation, even if only to deconstruct it to find contradictions or fallacious logic.

    It is interesting that people who call themselves “skeptics” would so heavily promote Lee’s report (there’s a thread up at Judith’s crib right now where “skeptics” are lining up to comment on Lee’s report and to condemn Schneider), even though Lee has shown shoddy analysis by failing to do basic academic due diligence.

    To the extent that same ol same ol can be interesting.

    I wonder if vp will comment?

  199. vp,
    What’s wrong with that. I’ve looked at McKitrick’s work. It’s extremely poor.

    But second that the economist, Ross McKitrick, sounds as if he really did make a fairly blatant cherry-pick to suit his confirmation bias.

    Yes, this appears to be exactly what Ross McKitrick does. Ross McKitrick, FWIW, is about to become Chairperson of the GWPF’s Academic Advisory Board.

  200. Lars Karlsson says:

    More about Schneider: here is the source that Lee provides.

    Directly below the quote (bottom of p 2), one can read the following:

    “It is strange that The News should accuse me of trying to hide scientific uncertainty through this quote, when by the very nature of explaining the dilemma I am being unusually forthright in trying to show how all scientists face a bind when forced to communicate in short sound bites in the media what the essence of a controversial complex problem is. IT IS HARD to imagine how this constitutes hiding the truth when it’s plainly stated. Obviously, the absence of the last sentence of the Discover magazine quote in the editorial totally misrepresents my views. Ironically, The Detroit News quoted me as the “good guy” several years ago in an editorial on “Nuclear Autumn” (June 30, 1986), a term I coined in toning down the nuclear winter debate.
    In that editorial, Carl Sagan was portrayed by The News as the evil overstater, and Starley Thompson and I, the wise and circumspect cautious scientists. I never have, and still do not believe or say that ends justify the means or that truth should be abandoned for a good cause – and what cause is more compelling than making nuclear war and its horrors more publicly known?
    What I mean by the “double ethical bind” was not even represented in the Discover quote, which only provided a partial snapshot of my views. The “bind” that scientists face is that it is impossible to expect a complicated issue to be fully elaborated on in the public and popular media and thus a scientist who tries to explain to non-specialists the nature of controversial science, particularly that with policy implications, has to find a means to communicate effectively and honestly. To me that means using familiar metaphors.”

    So Lee must have understood that Schneider didn’t mean what Lee claims he meant.

  201. Joshua says:

    vp –

    ==> “Now what did you think? If you are like me, you probably had two reactions. First that the senior scientist, Steven Schneider, is surprisingly nasty in his tone.”

    Yeah, I agree that it sounds nasty.

    On the other hand, I am a bit amused by Ridley’s concern about nastiness.

    What do you think about people who write op-eds condemning the scientific ethics of an entire field of scientists, indeed, anyone who might be considered an “environmental researcher,” whatever that means – with the justification that some members of those are, in Ridley’s, opinion, affected by their biases?

    Would that qualify as being nasty, in your book?

  202. Joshua says:

    vp –

    I was hoping that you might comment on the subject I spoke of – how we have both often seen so many “skeptics” make reference to Schneider’s “ethical bind” comments.

    Do you agree with me, that to make arguments about what Schneider meant (and to condemn him for assumptions about what he meant) without directly addressing what Schneider said about what he meant, is entirely un-skeptical?

    That is a yes or no question.

  203. victorpetri says:

    @attp
    No need for me to explain what’s wrong with it, as I can’t explain it any better than Ridley did.

  204. vp,
    You could try. I too find it Ridley’s concern about niceness a little amusing. Plus, it was an email. That it got leaked and read doesn’t suddenly mean he intended that to be public.

  205. Joshua says:

    Lars –

    Re: your 2:41. Thanks. I am re-posting these quotes over at Judith’s crib.

    Not that it will make any difference. It’s just fun to watch the variety of fallacious arguments then engender in response. “Skeptics” can be very creative.

  206. Joshua says:

    The first line of attack is that Schneider’s explanation for what he meant came some time later than his original statement.

    Interesting. So somehow the delay in Schneider’s response justifies an academic writing a report, many year later, about Schneider’s statements without referencing how Schneider explained his statements when they were misconstrued.

    See. Very creative!

  207. victorpetri says:

    @attp
    You can bet he did not intended it to be public.
    But for an outsider, it is hard to look at this person as an objective researcher, he is obviously very emotionally invested in the topic for him to react like this.

    But the point Ridley makes, is that he misrepresents McKitrick, who did not claim global warming to be untrue, but merely checked someone else’s claim, namely that of Mr. Suzuki “that when he was a boy growing up in London Ontario, winter used to set in at the end of October, but now it’s warmed up so much winter arrives a lot later. ” Which, subsequently he found to be untrue.

    @Joshua,
    Not interested in giving my opinion on your topic.

  208. Joshua says:

    vp –

    Why not?

  209. vp,

    he is obviously very emotionally invested in the topic for him to react like this.

    Researchers tend to be emotionally invested in a topic. They’re typically not doing it for the immense wealth they’ll accrue.

    But the point Ridley makes, is that he misrepresents McKitrick, who did not claim global warming to be untrue, but merely checked someone else’s claim, namely that of Mr. Suzuki “that when he was a boy growing up in London Ontario, winter used to set in at the end of October, but now it’s warmed up so much winter arrives a lot later. ” Which, subsequently he found to be untrue.

    I’ve no idea of what happened in this particular case, but based on what I’ve seen of McKitrick’s work and based on my sense of Matt Ridley’s understanding of science, I’d be willing to bet the Schneider was probably about right.

  210. Lars Karlsson says:

    Joshua,
    If you look at my latest link, you can see that Schneider’s first clarification came about two months after the Discovery interview.

  211. victorpetri says:

    I’ve no idea of what happened in this particular case, but based on what I’ve seen of McKitrick’s work and based on my sense of Matt Ridley’s understanding of science, I’d be willing to bet the Schneider was probably about right.
    @ATTP
    That’s not very open minded of you.

  212. vp,
    How is that “not open minded”. I didn’t say “I’d be willing to guarantee”, I said “willing to bet”. Plus, from what I’ve seen, Schneider is regarded as a remarkably nice person who did a great deal of work in public understanding of science. McKitrick and Ridley may be nice people, but they’re not improving public understanding of science. To see someone maligned because of an email that wasn’t intended to be public, is irritating. Especially since it comes from someone like Ridley who appears to value being nice, over actually addressing any criticism substantively.

  213. Joshua says:

    Lars –

    Thanks. I will inform the “skeptics” that they didn’t do due diligence before judging the situation on the length of delay in Schneider’s clarification (in other words, before saying “Look. Squirrel”).

  214. Lars Karlsson says:

    Schneider vs McKitrick is:

    [Fixed. Simply add the link to the image on one line. No format required. -W]

  215. Willard says:

    > The “clap trap” is from a speech of Kennedy.

    Indeed, which means that vp’s engineer-level the-future-is-bright argument is backed up by something that was said in a political speech. Techo-poptimism and risk-taking attitudes can be explained by more than personality. It can correlate with economic status, with political interests, and with the level of knowledge of the agents involved:

    http://www.jstor.org/stable/20025337

    Vp’s branding himself more than anything else.

    Hope should not be a brand.

  216. dikranmarsupial says:

    vp, if you want to see the problem with Prof. McKitrick’s hypothesis testing, see this example: http://quantpalaeo.wordpress.com/2014/09/03/recipe-for-a-hiatus/ . Note how he was unwilling to address any of the criticisms I raised of his work, even though I demonstrated that the key conclusion of his paper was shown to be absurd by simply plotting the trends.

  217. Joshua says:

    Lars –

    ==> “Schneider vs McKitrick is:

    Yes, that was my impression. That is why I asked vp to address my question.

    It seemed like a “Look! Squirrel!” moment to me. It seemed vp posted about the Schneider vs. McKitrick via Ridley issue in response to my original request that he speak to the issue of “skeptics” not performing due diligence w/r/t what Schneider meant in a statement which they often quote – in fact, a topic that is quite closely linked to the OP.

    So as far as I can tell, he first responded with “Look Squirrel,” and then said that he wasn’t interested giving an opinion on the topic.

    Looks like a flip-flop.

    Am I wrong?

  218. Willard says:

    Perhaps it might be appropriate (that word again) to remind that Ross is now the new chairman of the GWPF’s academic something:

    http://www.thegwpf.org/new-chairman-of-gwpf-academic-advisory-council/

    Small contrarian world.

  219. Joshua says:

    dikran –

    I love you, man – but I do want to point out that you’re chasing squirrels.

  220. Willard says:

    > Steven Schneider, is surprisingly nasty in his tone.

    Scientists can be quite nasty, so I am not that surprised.

    That’s nothing compared to what philosophers may say:

    http://philosophersanon.blogspot.com/2014/04/note-of-appreciation.html

    Notwithstanding that philosophers can say even worse things with all sorts of curtsy figures.

  221. dikranmarsupial says:

    cheers Joshua, caught up now! ;o)

  222. jsam says:

    My brother lives in London Ontario. I too did in the 60s.

  223. Eli Rabett says:

    VP

    – CO2 will prove to be a problem as solvable as any other.

    VP might want to have a talk with some Sunni and Shia friends.

  224. dikranmarsupial says:

    it is solvable, all we need to do is give up our dependence of fossil fuels without reducing our standard of living, whilst allowing that of the developing world to increase to match ours. Entirely trivial ;o)

  225. jsam says:

    How odd. I can’t find Ross correcting David anywhere. Usually the denialist echo chamber is full of it (double entendre intended).

  226. anoilman says:

    victorpetri:
    “Your common denominator, I believe, the reason why you guys are so passionate in your ideas that climate change is a great danger that should be battled, is that you are the type of risk averse persons.”

    Victor, I am an engineer, and I am very much risk adverse. I don’t build products with an intent for them to fail. I certainly don’t work at companies with can kind of ethic.

    Fossil fuels aside, we are already geoengineering the planet to a new state. Yet we have no plan. No course of action. No measurable goals. Does that sound sane in any way?

    Where will it end? (No clue.)
    Can we fix it? (No. And you have no data support any claims here.)
    What will it cost? (Mostly poor people in the third world get trashed. Who cares right?)
    Will there be surprises on the way? (Absolutely… many, all bad have been found so far.)

    The best we have right now, is airy fairy ideas from people like you.

    We’ll adapt. (You intend to put people like American Farmers out of work. Did you tell them this?)
    It mostly affects the poorer countries. (And it eats up way more of the GDP. Its not like we care about them.)
    We might actually fix it some time in the future. (Maybe… or maybe billions will die first… or Maybe not. Much is already known to be irreversible.)

  227. Joseph says:

    (and in the process pointing out that solutions exist – renewables, plus adding that if externalities are put on top of gas/coal/oil prices, they would be more in line with the renewables),

    That’s true, we basically know how to slow down carbon emissions and importantly we can always reverse our policy, if it the alarmists on the “skeptical” side are correct. We don’t yet know how to adapt to climate change because the regional changes are still unpredictable and there are some consequences that we can’t easily avoid(e.g. extreme heat and ocean acidification.) It seems to me the logical course would be to act now and ensure we try to avoid the consequences of an uncertain future.

  228. matt says:

    Couldn’t make it through this comment thread but I’m going to assume there was at least allusions to economic catastrophes/cheap fossil fuels (never mind externalities) vs expensive RE…

    Good to have some numbers in these monster non-science comment threads so here are IPCC figures for “likely less than 2degC”

    “Scenarios in which all countries of the world begin mitigation immediately, there is a single global carbon price, and all key technologies are available, have been used as a cost-effective benchmark for estimating macroeconomic mitigation costs. Under these assumptions, mitigation scenarios that reach atmospheric concentrations of about 450 ppm CO2eq by 2100 entail losses in global consumption—not including benefits of reduced climate change as well as co-benefits and adverse side-effects of mitigation19—of
    1 % to 4% (median: 1.7%) in 2030,
    2% to 6% (median: 3.4%) in 2050,
    3% to 11% (median: 4.8%) in 2100
    relative to consumption in baseline scenarios that grows anywhere from 300 % to more than 900 % over the century. “

    Worst case (11% , 300%) doesn’t seem scary to me (and we can always reduce our efforts if things look rosy).

    [Insert caveats here]

  229. Matt,
    Yes, and I’ve certainly seen people say “we should just adapt to climate change because the damages will be between 6 and 12% (numbers from memory) in a world 5 – 10 times richer than we are now”, but who then seem to think that mitigating at a cost of 11-30% in a world that won’t undergo the damages due to climate change in the first place, is completely unacceptable. Also, I think, the damages calculation is based on a certain temperature rise and can’t really be done for rises much above 3oC.

  230. Joshua says:

    I just want to point out that there may be more than one way to “moderate” “skeptics”.

    One way, possibly, is to ask them to address obviously un-skeptical behavior among their “skeptical” brethren. Notice how vp got quiet? After initially responding to the question about how “skeptics” deal with Schneider – he got mum. Sometimes, you don’t actually need to moderate comments. You can just ask skeptics” to confront the unintentional irony so pervasive among groups that they identify with. Notice how vp didn’t even respond to a simple question about why he didn’t want to respond? Now I could be wrong about what’s going on here, but I think I’ve seen this pattern play out many times. Don’t chase the squirrels they point to – just ask them to address the unintentional irony among “skeptics.”

    Could it be that some cat snuck up on vp and stole his tongue? Could it be that he is avoiding the issue? Some other reason for his silence?

  231. BBD says:

    He’ll be back.

  232. BBD says:

    Sorry, Joshua; I wasn’t suggesting that you were wrong in what you said above, just that on the strength of past behaviour, vp will wait for a bit until the danger is past then pop back up with more cornutopian invisible handedness and doubtless, squirrels too. He may also start refusing to acknowledge your comments. Mind you, he’s painting himself rapidly into a corner on that one.

  233. He probably will, but in fairness to vp, he does seem somewhat more willing to think about the position he holds than many others. So, Joshua, I’m not convinced that what you suggest would necessarily work. Fro what I’ve seen, some are masters at dodging and changing the topic.

  234. Joshua says:

    Sure – he’ll be back. He can’t stay away.

    But my guess is that it would be easy to silence him again – by asking him about why some “skeptics” do what they do. But he will come back to point to more squirrels. I don’t question that.

  235. Joshua,
    In some cases it may well work. In many, I think they would simply dodge and move on.

  236. Joshua says:

    You’re probably right, Anders. I’m just trying to goad vp into actually dealing with the tactics of “skeptics” – in this case the way that such piss-poor analysis as that written by Peter Lee is being promoted as a serious contribution to the discussion of scientific ethics.

    Hey, it’s worth a shot. He’ll probably continue to run and hide and point to squirrels rather than discuss the issue in good faith – but teasing him a bit about a lack of accountability can’t hurt, can it?

  237. but teasing him a bit about a lack of accountability can’t hurt, can it?

    Joshua, what is the difference between your teasing and our identity aggression?

    (Sorry for letting vp off the hook with this diversion of topic, but I am curious.)

  238. Joshua,
    It probably is worth a shot and it can’t hurt. Although Victor asks a good question 🙂

  239. Eli Rabett says:

    Amazing how the Bishops seminariums Lewandowskied (TM ER) themselves over tobacco in that thread.

  240. Joshua says:

    Victor –

    It’s a good question.

    I’m not sure that there really is a meaningful difference.

    I have to think about it a bit more before I offer my weak rationalization. 🙂

  241. BBD says:

    I must admit that I’m interested too, Joshua.

    🙂

  242. Joshua says:

    I’m working on it, BBD. Give me some time. dammit. Rationalizations like this aren’t easy to come up with.

  243. Eli,

    Amazing how the Bishops seminariums Lewandowskied (TM ER) themselves over tobacco in that thread.

    Which thread was that? One of the ones on BH?

  244. pbjamm says:

    I still fail to see how vp (and others) can be so optimistic about humanities ability to adapt while so many contratians and politicians insist there is no problem to adapt to. This is no different than the arguments he put forth in a previous thread.
    Adaptation is for the future people to deal with because he and others are unwilling to do any of it now. Someone will magically fix the problem so we should not bother having a go at it ourselves.
    Same old same old.

  245. BBD says:

    Now, this is moderation:

  246. BBD says:

    Soddit.

    Now this is moderation:

  247. anoilman says:

    BBD, Willard; Meet in the middle with a Computer Choir!

  248. anoilman says:

    Anders, weren’t those costs ‘per annum’?

  249. Vinny Burgoo says:

    ATTP: ‘If you have to explain what you meant, you probably didn’t do a very good job of making it clear in the first place.’

    Yikes!

  250. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Fuller ATTP:

    ‘Ahh, I meant without some form of device for stopping you from hitting the ground at free-fall speed. … If you have to explain what you meant, you probably didn’t do a very good job of making it clear in the first place.’

  251. Joshua says:

    Ok Victor –

    Let me throw this at the wall to see in anything sticks.

    1) Although I was not being explicit – I was not criticizing vp personally but I was criticizing his form of engagement.

    2) While I am critical of a generalized approach that I see among “skeptics” engaged in these arguments on the Internet, I am not contending that the type of engagement we saw from vp in this thread is any more characteristic of “skeptics” than of “realists” as seen in these Internet food fights or in op-eds like those that Ridley writes.

    Maybe to truly be “identity/aggressive, identity/defensive” you have to be actually arguing that, (A) someone’s identity is defined by a specific argument at a particular time and that, (B) people of my “group” are categorically or even predominantly different than the otters.

    3) I suppose that it’s fair game to say that anytime I don’t explicitly make those caveats clear when I criticize someone like vp for a “typical” “skeptic” argument, I am being identity aggressive/identity defensive – but whether (and when) I engage in those behaviors doesn’t change the degree to which other people engage in those behaviors. So if I’m being hypocritical (one might even say unintentionally ironic if they were so inclined 🙂 ), that doesn’t mean that I’m wrong to characterize the discussions, as they take place between others, for being characterized by identity-defense/identity-aggression.

    On the one hand, when I read piss-poor analysis like what Lee wrote, because I can’t do anything about it, and it annoys me to see smart and knowledgeable people look past the obvious vacuousness of what he wrote, and instead to defend the shit that he wrote, I take out my frustration by trying to hold vp responsible – as someone who identifies with Lee’s “group.” Yeah, that’s identity aggression/identity defense.

    But on the other hand, when I really would prefer that the discussion be elevated – that we might discuss the real ethical implications of what Schneider wrote and what he meant as reasonable people who might disagree. So I’m not only being identity-aggressive/identity-defensive by trying to goad vp into raising his game.

    So. Does any of that hold any water? 🙂

  252. Michael 2 says:

    “Essentially, there is no point in discussing science with climate change deniers, since there is little (maybe nothing) that can be said that will convince them of the strength of the evidence.”

    Agreed, but perhaps for a different reason. I can agree with the science, top to bottom. Science compels conclusions on people with adequate knowledge. What is missing is urgency, and that’s not science, it is emotion.

    If you were to tell a computer that it was about to be smashed to smithereens and all it needs to do is step sideways to avoid extinction, would it step sideways? Assuming of course that it can actually do so. The answer is “no” unless of course it has been programmed with a survival prime directive.

    All living things have a survival instinct but it is down in the amygdala or something like that; non-verbal, non-cognitive. It requires quite a bit of conditioning to transform something as esoteric as a graph from a computer model into anything resembling a threat to survival.

    I submit that this conditioning takes place in a university environment where “real” threats do not exist but theoretical threats DO exist, including the threat of not obtaining your degree which is four years (or more) down the road and very much theoretical as to what exactly is going to sabotage your chances.

    It is well established, but I won’t here prove it, that college graduates tend to be (1) Democrats and (2) much more concerned about global warming. Are they smarter? Some are, some aren’t; what it takes to get a degree is related mostly to how much money you have or can squeeze out of someone else. In other words, college graduates are a different kind of person, certainly after they graduate if not already different before they start.

    I submit also that the mirror neurons may be overactive in people with high concern for global warming. Such persons actually do “feel your pain” as it becomes their own, and in fact they probably cannot distinguish a real pain from a mirrored pain. When all those Australians say they are afraid, I believe them. To me it is irrational but I believe they do actually fear.

    Finally, many fears exist. I have written before on Maslow’s Heirarchy. People that are worried what they are going to eat TODAY really don’t care what is going to happen in a year or 80 years. So where are the worry-worts on Maslow’s Heirarchy? For them, it is a matter of safety (layer 2, counting up; where bare survival is layer 1). Where would I put it? Nowhere. Global warming does not threaten my survival or safety, it has nothing to do with love and belonging and self-actualization.

    But what about the shining lights of the AGW movement? Phil Jones; John Cook etc. They get ALL LAYERS from this — survival, safety, love, belonging, self-actualization! Every layer of the pyramid is fulfilled by involvement in the IPCC, by various university climate centers. It’s a clique. Just look at the photos of the teams. It might as well be a family reunion!

  253. Eli Rabett says:

    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2014/12/17/on-john-timmer.html

    The Full Lewandowsky. Come toss a few bombs and watch heads explode.

  254. Michael 2 says:

    A comment on the Schneider quote “To twist my openly stated and serious objections to the soundbite process into some kind of advocacy of exaggeration is a clear distortion.”

    Exactly, but the problem (as I see it) is that many people operate in binary modes, either/or, yes/no, black/white and so on. Nuances and uncertainty is uncomfortable and will be ignored. You cannot succeed in conveying the nuances. There’s no “socket” for them to plug into.

  255. Joshua, being somewhat less polite about someone’s behaviour is thus okay, just teasing, but being somewhat less polite about someone’s ideas is not okay, is identity aggression? (Maybe I should reread all the comments before you complained about identity aggression, but not today.)

    If anything I would have said the reverse. Someone’s behaviour is much stronger linked to someone’s identify as someone’s ideas. If I find evidence that the global temperature is not rising, I’d be still me. Changing my behaviour is much harder, much more part of who I am.

  256. Joshua says:

    I’m guessing you meant to contrast being “less polite” with “more polite?”

    I’m not thinking of politeness as being important. I’m thinking of a distinction that has more to do with the structure of the arguments than the level of politeness therein Politeness seems pretty irrelevant to me.

    People keep identifying “politeness” as being the variable I’m focusing on; so either I need to be more clear in what I write, or there’s something that doesn’t add up about my argument.

    We all behave badly at times, just as we all make bad arguments at times. Neither an instance of bad behavior nor an instance of bad argumentation defines the person, and certainly not the group that person belongs to. This especially true when we are forming judgements based on online discussions. Trying to judge a whole group of people based extrapolating from poorly controlled sampling of a group of outliers is just poor logic. That’s the type of argument that I consider to be fully “identity-aggressive.” I think it can only be explained by a need to raise one’s sense of self by irrationally demeaning others.

    If I could validly be accused of doing that with vp – then it would be identity-aggression/identity-defense.

  257. Joshua says:

    Victor –

    Response stuck in moderation. I’ll check back tomorrow.

  258. matt says:

    @AoM,

    The rates per annum are

    “These numbers* correspond to an annualized reduction of consumption growth by 0.04 to 0.14 (median: 0.06) percentage points over the century relative to annualized consumption growth in the baseline that is between 1.6 % and 3 % per year.” (SPM wg3)

    *refers to figures in my last post

  259. matt says:

    @AoM,

    Nevermind, u meant the 6-12%.

  260. Vinny,
    Fair point, but if I was to say it again, I would say it differently, not say it the same way as before and then have to explain that I didn’t mean what it seemed I meant, again.

    AoM,
    If I use Matt’s numbers and assume the largest value then if we were to grow at 3% pa, our economy would be 12.33 times bigger in 2100 than now. If instead we grow at 2.86% pa, it would be 11 times bigger. So, about 11% smaller than it could have been. Of course, this is relative to a world that doesn’t suffer any climate damage and seems, to me at least, all in the noise.

  261. Eli,

    Come toss a few bombs and watch heads explode.

    I was busy on a different thread, where I discovered many things (although I don’t know if I could effectively articulate what they were).

  262. John Mashey says:

    For years Steve Schneider got masses of hate mail, including death threats. Police asked him to send some over, but spam filter kept bouncing it for the obscenities.

    When people get to see the movie Merchants of Doubt (March), Ben Santer, Katherine Hayhoe and Mike Mann read the sorts of email they get. Not for children.

    Some people here seem aligned with the people who send that sort of email.

    For years people having been telling lies, including the well-known partial quote, about a a guy who beat a rare form of cancer, and then went back to work on behalf of world’s future, and worked too hard and died from it.

  263. victorpetri says:

    @Joshua
    I am not in a position to be 24 hours available to comment on this site, I do have also other stuff in my life.
    Why I had not given my opinion on the Schneider story, is because I don’t have any. Cannot be bothered to form one as well. I simply was reminded by the name, of the story that I copied from Ridley. If you feel this is a “squirrel” than forget about the story.

    @anoilman

    On this, I do have an opinion. Because it is for me the prime example why you fail to understand my point of view. The cartoon seems to suggest that your point of view is superior, no matter what the facts.
    You fail to give me the courtesy that I as well aim to improve mankind’s well being and that of the poor. You may disagree with my reasoning, but do not doubt my intentions, please.

  264. vp,

    You fail to give me the courtesy that I as well aim to improve mankind’s well being and that of the poor. You may disagree with my reasoning, but do not doubt my intentions, please.

    Sure, that’s a reasonable request but maybe you not to put a bit of effort into doing the same. There are risks associated with any future scenario. It’s balancing those risks that is the tricky issue.

  265. Andrew Dodds says:

    @victorpetri –

    Well, I disagree with your reasoning, and the evidence you have presented thus far contradicts your position.

    The problem is this: It is possible to envisage a world of 10 billion people in which there is no fossil fuel use, per capita energy use is much higher than today, everyone has access to the basics of life, a significant chink of the environment is ‘left to nature’ and the whole setup is sustainable on the timescale of centuries. All with either current or reasonable-expectation technology – we don’t need to wait for any technological breakthroughs, we just need to use what we already have.

    What I can’t see is how we get there with our current political and economic setup. Indeed, the obsession with lassiez-faire economics as the only solution to any problem is a huge obstacle – free markets as currently constituted will NEVER deliver the above, or at least not on any timescale that interests me. And much of our political system is compromised by funding and lobbying. So the idea that we can just sit around and this glorious future will happen by itself seems breathtakingly naive.

  266. Andrew,
    Yes, I broadly agree. We’re meant to be this intelligent, innovative species who can develop technology and make decisions about how best to proceed the future. Yet, the basic economic idea seems to be that we can happily interfere with nature and the physical world, but shouldn’t under any circumstances interfere with the economic model in which we live. That should just be left to evolve in some way that somehow depends on the choices we make within that economic model, but should not be influenced by any of the choices we make about the economic model.

  267. victorpetri says:

    @attp
    I have never doubted your intentions or not of any one commenting here, in general nobody doubts the intentions of you guys. Just like people don’t question the intentions of people from Greenpeace. Their methods are doubted, their reasoning as well, even their honesty, but not their intentions; people with ideals that want to improve the world.
    Whilst the intentions of people like me are continuously suspect, suspected to give egoistic and self serving lies and to have narrow commercial motives.
    This, if anything, I want to make clear, I hold my opinions because I think them to be best for all mankind.

  268. vp,

    I hold my opinions because I think them to be best for all mankind.

    Yes, I’m sure you do and I’ve never doubted it.

    Whilst the intentions of people like me are continuously suspect, suspected to give egoistic and self serving lies and to have narrow commercial motives.

    Are they? I see criticism of the views that you might hold on the basis that they may do more harm than good. That’s not the same as suggesting that that is the intent. I see similar criticism aimed at people I probably agree with. I don’t often see people explicitly claiming that it is the intent of others to do harm, I more regularly see people suggesting that their preferred policy options would do harm.

  269. John,

    When people get to see the movie Merchants of Doubt (March), Ben Santer, Katherine Hayhoe and Mike Mann read the sorts of email they get.

    Well, I’ve never had anything like that but I have been commenting on BH and the responses are certainly not pleasant. In fairness, not even close to the level of death threats, so given how much I dislike the relatively minor taunts aimed at me there, I’d hate to have to deal with what Santer, Hayhoe and Mann have had to put up with.

    I did discover something potentially interesting. It does seem as though there is an inverse correlation between how sensitive someone thinks our climate is and how sensitive they are themselves. What I thought was a rather mild criticism of Nic Lewis (which was really just my opinion and not even stated as a fact and was mainly put in to illustrate how we can all criticise others if we choose to) was perceived as an attack.

  270. victorpetri says:

    @Andrew Dodds
    Are you blind to see that it is laissez faire economics that has brought prosperity up to now?
    I can acknowledge it has problems, so I accept it needs some guidance, e.g. Carbon tax and CFC regulation. It need not be laissez faire completely.
    Considering 10 billion agents, using millions of different products and 1000s of different resources, creating innumerable transactions, I can only but think of free markets to let supply meet demand.

    You would claim that a hand from above, a benevolent governmental entity, that has omniscientias, will be able to deliver the goals as you stated above, and yet you claim that I am breathtakingly naive?

    What the heck; you claim to know of a way to envisage a world of 10 billion people in which there is no fossil fuel use, per capita energy use is much higher than today, everyone has access to the basics of life, a significant chink of the environment is ‘left to nature’ and the whole setup is sustainable on the timescale of centuries.
    And I am constantly the one accused of believing in magic.

    Btw, you know that it is fossil fuels that enabled us to save the nature we have left now, right?

  271. vp,

    Btw, you know that it is fossil fuels that enabled us to save the nature we have left now, right?

    Sorry, that seems to be saying “we managed to do an awful lot of damage using the energy that fossil fuels provided, but then saved some of it using the energy that fossil fuels provided”. So, no, I don’t see how it enabled us to save what we have left now.

    Considering 10 billion agents, using millions of different products and 1000s of different resources, creating innumerable transactions, I can only but think of free markets to let supply meet demand.

    Here’s a question that I’ve always wanted to ask someone who holds your views. A true free marker works simply on supply and demand. There is no fundamental assumption that everyone (or some vast majority) should have access to all that one might regard as necessary for a reasonable lifestyle (clean water, shelter, education, healthcare). A free market could evolve into one where a vast majority have the skills that allows them to access the marketplace, or it could evolve into one where a large fraction do not, but those that do satisfy the supply demand chain (i.e., why provide education for those living in poverty, if you’re already maximising your profit providing it to those who aren’t). How does a true free market prevent our society from becoming increasingly unequal or, maybe, prevent it from becoming one with vast differences in lifestyle and opportunity?

  272. On opposite ends of the spectrum we have:

    democratic and authoritarian government (out of scale we have also anarchism)

    market economy and centrally planned economy

    What we have presently in reality is not a pure realization of any of these, but perhaps democratic with some authoritarian features and market economy with some regulation and non-market contributions. I would guess that most of us think that that’s also what we wish, only a better realization of that.

    As famously stated by Churchill Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.. That could be said also about market economy. It seems impossible to avoid worse alternatives, if we give up democracy, and it seems impossible to reach all the benefits that market economy provides without competitive markets.

    If we agree that the basis is a market economy and democratic decision making, we must search for solutions that are compatible with that. We cannot make strong policy decisions that are opposed by most and we should not intervene in the markets so strongly that their operation is seriously distracted.

    I read in some of the comments (hidden) willingness to give up democracy and to tell people, what they must do. People, who show sign of such thinking seem to think that the authoritarian government were controlled by the good and not by the bad, but who is likely to win, if we give up democracy?

    More commonly I see willingness to reduce essentially the role of free markets and to move towards planned economies. Regulating market economics is tricky. It’s easy to make small changes in it, but trying to influence it strongly tends to lead to unwanted side effects. The tools that we have available tend to be blunt. Using them will not affect only the intended goals but also other behavior. There are also typically loopholes that will be used to circumvent the regulation. This kind of problems grow non-linearly with the strength of the regulation or economic incentive. At some strength even the properly directed decisions result in more damage than advantages.

  273. victorpetri says:

    @attp
    By governments that provide eduction, including higher education, for all. Predominantly.

    I think governments are the greatest sources of inequality in the world, next to the obvious cronyism in countries such as China and Russia, and governments claiming resources in their countries as theirs, also e.g. by defending intellectual property rights in the West.

  274. Pekka,

    If we agree that the basis is a market economy and democratic decision making, we must search for solutions that are compatible with that. We cannot make strong policy decisions that are opposed by most and we should not intervene in the markets so strongly that their operation is seriously distracted.

    I agree. What you say about “opposed by most” is interesting because in my view one of the problems we have is that governments today are not making decisions that are really in the best interests of the people they’re meant to represent. Part of the problem, I think, is that we’re being badly served by the media. If we could reduce the role of vested interests, I think democracy and decision making would benefit.

    I read in some of the comments (hidden) willingness to give up democracy and to tell people, what they must do. People, who show sign of such thinking seem to think that the authoritarian government were controlled by the good and not by the bad, but who is likely to win, if we give up democracy?

    I haven’t seen that willingness (hidden or not) but I do agree that giving up on democracy would mean that we all ultimately lose.

    More commonly I see willingness to reduce essentially the role of free markets and to move towards planned economies.

    I think we’re almost already there, we just don’t want to admit it. Most developed countries have public sectors that make up more than 35% of their economy (public spending relative to GDP at least). I think that we should accept that some fraction of our economic activity should be publicly funded and stop trying to impose private sector thinking on those sectors and allow the sectors that are more suited to thrive in the private sector do so. We should neither demonise the public sector nor the private sector; they’re mutually beneficial.

  275. vp,

    I think governments are the greatest sources of inequality in the world

    I see no evidence to support this. If anything, countries with strong public sectors tend (from what I’ve seen of the data at least) to be more equal in income terms than those that don’t.

  276. I should clarify, I meant western democracies in the above comment. Those with strong public sectors that are also democratic (in Europe for example).

  277. victorpetri says:

    @attp
    Consider someone like Bill Gates, his Microsoft could have only gathered so much money because the government provided him essentially with a monopoly through intellectual property rights.
    Same with famous athletes, who gain most of their income for advertising (who would advertise in a world with no intellectual property right?).
    I could give much more examples, but perhaps this will go too much off topic, and it is kind of a radical of a position of mine that I’d like to see intellectual property rights abolished.

    I dont think there is really a strong relationship between public spending and equality, but am looking for evidence. By memory, Japan has a small public sector, but is very equal. Northern European countries are equal with large public sectors, but Russia and China and a couple of Asian countries are very unequal, whilst having large public sectors.

  278. ATTP,

    The numbers given for the share of public sector are a bit difficult to interpret. Finland is a country with a large public sector. The total expenditure of the public sector is 57% of GDP, but the total expenditure of the private sector is larger, the sum is much larger than GDP. About 24% of the work force is in public sector and the share of GDP is 20% when calculated from value added.

  279. vp,
    Except what you describe is to me an example of the private sector encouraging governments to institute policies that are to the advantage of a few, but not to the advantage of the population as a whole.. Also, according to this Japan has tax revenues that are 35% of GDP and a budget deficit of 8% of GDP, so spending as a fraction of GDP appears to be above 35%. Pekka, makes a good point though, one does have to be careful as to how one describe the relative sizes of the public and private sectors.

  280. victorpetri says:

    @attp
    This basically is my opinion on what to do about inequality:
    http://www.economist.com/node/21564556

  281. matt says:

    @ATTP

    At the risk of showing myself to be mathematically illiterate, I think you may have miscalculated. I get an economy 19times bigger by 2100 (not 12), assuming 3%pa. Mind double checking for my sanity?

  282. matt says:

    “Are you blind to see that it is laissez faire economics that has brought prosperity up to now?”

    Where in the world has “laissez faire economics” been practised? Name the most well-known or prosperous country where it has been.

  283. matt says:

    @ATTP

    Last comment for tonight as I have seen the dangers of drink-blogging. ATTP was right, economy 12times bigger (not 19) by 2100 @3%pa. I failed to recognise 2100 is no longer 100years away.

  284. John says:

    I was reading some of these threads on BH – hilarious stuff. They go into Southern belle fainting episodes over the term “denier” – and yet casually refer to everyone who disagrees with them as warmists, an obvious reference to communists. Reds, warmists, warmistas, watermelons (green on the outside, red in the middle), greenies.

    These contrarians also bash the “hysteria” regarding acid rain and the ozone layer. I wonder how they square that politically, considering that Ronald Reagan – whom many of them idolize – was largely responsible for mitigating those problems, along with the Republicans in the House and Senate. Perhaps Reagan was also a watermelon.

    And then I have to stop and think: This is the reality for these people. They truly believe they live in a world where thousands of independent scientists from around the world are involved in a global conspiracy, decades in the making, in collusion with every major sovereign government, using temperature charts and basic physics in much the same way Hitler used the invasion of Poland, to gain a foothold toward world dominance, and once dominance is achieved to install a single global tyrant to oversee the multitudes, kill all the poor people, and force the survivors to drive hybrids and put solar panels on their houses. I don’t know. Sounds plausible. I guess I’ll have to keep an open mind.

  285. Matt,
    I did the same, initially 🙂

    John,
    The thing I’m struggling with on BH (and have forced myself to stop going there for the moment) is the continuous claims that I’m attacking people, being condescending, pompous, disingenuous, while having to put with suggestions that I’m a LYING ASSHOLE, piece of sh*t, talking complete nonsense,….. I start off not really caring, but it gets harder and harder to pull that off as time goes by. One day I’ll learn my lesson 🙂

    Of course, someone will probably come along and read this comment, post it on BH and then say “see what he says about people here, isn’t he mean!”

  286. victorpetri says:

    @matt,
    To its fullest extent, in history, probably nowhere, perhaps the American old West? Government interference has been as old as history is, diminishing the wealth creating default of laissez faire economics. Sometime due to rentseeking, sometimes to achieve societal goals, such as protecting a certain culture, the environment or certain jobs. Still, it is the concept laissez faire economics that has largely been responsible for the growth in wealth in the world.

  287. vp,
    I haven’t read the Economist article in detail, but I don’t see anything with which to actually disagree. For example,

    The priority should be a Rooseveltian attack on monopolies and vested interests, be they state-owned enterprises in China or big banks on Wall Street.

    As I think I may have said above, in my view, one problem is the role of vested interests. I don’t see how we can have a sensible economy without some form of government that provides the basics and determines regulation that avoid the buildup of monopolies and policies that benefit a minority of wealthy individuals. Furthermore, it’s certainly my view that a major reason for the recent financial crash was that many governments bought into the idea that less regulation was good and hence allowed the banks to get away with risky practices without having to account for that risk themselves. So, IMO, your argument that governments cause greater inequality is poor in that I can’t see how the lack of government would somehow do better. There are certainly government policies that promote inequality, but that’s an example of poor government, not an argument for no government.

  288. victorpetri says:

    @John
    If I may, the envisioned conspiracy is seen as follows. They consider by and large the scientists as liberals, having faith in governments, having faith in the top to bottom approach governments represent and having the hope these governments will obtain the power to do so, as well as at the same time being very critical of free markets, corporations, globalism and capitalism. What’s more, they see the scientists as being ideologically in favor of wealth redistribution, sustainability, renewable energy and these scientists worry about resource shortage and a concern about population growth.
    In my own experience, also on this very blog, these observations are largely correct.
    The conspiracy is thus not seen as a deliberate deception by people plotting, but as an emerging property of the perceived collective ideology shared by all involved parties.

  289. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “Joshua,
    In some cases it may well work. In many, I think they would simply dodge and move on.”

    Cruised right by it without even a hitch in his giddyup.

  290. Joshua says:

    Pekka –

    =>> “I read in some of the comments (hidden) willingness to give up democracy”

    Are there any such examples you’ve seen from comments you’ve seem here? If so, could you point to or quote one or two?

  291. victorpetri says:

    @attp
    Despite continuous attempt to place me in a certain category, I am definitely not a libertarian, and I do not argue for no governments.
    Government policies are also often the problem, but people using the government to amass wealth by using it power, cronyism, rent seeking, undermine the meritocracy.
    e.g.
    The 50 richest members of the American Congress hold a staggering $1.6 billion. But that’s nothing compared with China. The wealthiest 50 delegates to the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s rubber-stamp parliament, control $94.7 billion, according to the Hurun Report’s latest rich list. That’s about 60 times more than their American confrères.
    This power abuse and the self serving positions they claim for themselves and their networks create inequality.

  292. vp,

    In my own experience, also on this very blog, these observations are largely correct.

    I think the problem with your characterisation is that it ignores the subtleties of many people’s positions. I don’t, for example, trust the government’s approach, but when it comes to education, healthcare, social services and regulation, I don’t see who else could do it. I also don’t think that governments are necessarily doing a good job of this at the moment, but that doesn’t mean I want some alternative. I’m not critical of free markets, globalisation,…, I just think it isn’t the panacea that some seem to suggest (and maybe I misrepresent them here). I think some kind of mixed model is what we should be accepting. I’m in favour of reducing income inequality, but that’s not the same as wanting it to be equal and I don’t have a good sense of what the right distribution should be. I’m aware that globally inequality is reducing, but in some developed countries it is growing. We need, I think, to somehow balance the reduction in inequality globally with the growth of inequality locally. I don’t know how to do this, but what’s that our policy makers are for. I think sustainablity is a good thing and fail to see why anyone would think otherwise. I’m not ideologically in favour of renewables, but I have no issue with us using them. I know they can be more expensive but the idea that we should only introduce new technology when it’s the cheapest is – IMO – silly. Sometimes you really do need to try things and see how they actually work. I’m also in favour of other alternatives (nuclear for example). I do think that we should avoid increasing our cumulative emissions to the point where warming could become dangerous and that does require doing something sooner rather than later. I don’t have strong views about resource shortage and population growth but I fail to see how our resources can be infinite on a finite planet.

  293. victorpetri says:

    Government policies are not the problem per se, but people using the government to amass wealth by using it power, cronyism, rent seeking, undermine the meritocracy are.*
    I meant to say.

  294. vp,
    Yes, I agree with your last comment, but what I see are people criticising the concept of government rather than those specific people in government and those who influence governments. The only solution I can see to the problem you raise is for people to take a more active role in our democracies and to have a media that isn’t biased by the views of the small number of people who own it. That’s why I find the criticism of “activism” ironic. We should applaud people who are trying to be active in shaping our democracies, not simply demonising those who have views with which we disagree.

  295. Joshua,

    Cruised right by it without even a hitch in his giddyup.

    Well, yes 🙂

  296. John says:

    vp,

    The conspiracy is thus not seen as a deliberate deception by people plotting

    Hmm, that doesn’t seem to capture the mood of most right-wing/contrarian comment sections I’ve peeked into, but I appreciate the magnanimity.

  297. BBD says:

    Pekka

    More commonly I see willingness to reduce essentially the role of free markets and to move towards planned economies. Regulating market economics is tricky.

    In the real world, there are no free markets. There is instead an enormous amount of self-serving market distortion dressed up as legislation of various types and a frankly terrifying and utterly irresponsible shadow banking sector tapeworming through it all.

    This dysfunctional mess could and should be better regulated for the good of mankind and indeed the entire planet. Suggesting this does not in any way imply a desire to limit democracy or move toward planned economies. Regulating market economies is necessary and at present, there is far too much freedom available for the nakedly self-interested to fill their coffers at the literal and figurative expense of everybody else, including the yet-unborn.

    Interesting that at heart you are an apologist for the free market. Thanks for sharing that.

  298. Willard says:

    > I read in some of the comments (hidden) willingness to give up democracy and to tell people, what they must do.

    Too bad it’s hidden, I would have asked for quotes.

  299. BBD says:

    Government policies are not the problem per se, but people using the government to amass wealth by using it power, cronyism, rent seeking, undermine the meritocracy are.*

    This, from a staunch defender of the free market. Eebil gubmint and lovely cuddly multinational corporations and offshore banking sector.

  300. Joshua says:

    He could still provide quotes with that contain the hidden willingness to give up democracy. We could all go on a treasure hunt together.

  301. jsam says:

    “Thirteen percent of the public follows science,” Hershkowitz said. “Seventy-one percent follow sports. It’s an enormously visible part of our society.”
    http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/dec/18/nhl-global-warming-carbon-neutral-in-a-bid-to

    (Yes, I’m bored with libertarians and their cult. Let’s move on.)

  302. Willard says:

    I’ll raise your purple graph with some medians, Joshua:

    Your government did that, we should presume if vp’s conjecture turns out to be true.

    United States is such an anti laisser-faire.

  303. BBD says:

    vp

    the envisioned conspiracy is seen as follows. They consider by and large the scientists as liberals, having faith in governments, having faith in the top to bottom approach governments represent and having the hope these governments will obtain the power to do so, as well as at the same time being very critical of free markets, corporations, globalism and capitalism. What’s more, they see the scientists as being ideologically in favor of wealth redistribution [nerp! nerp! deniermeme alert!], sustainability, renewable energy and these scientists worry about resource shortage and a concern about population growth.
    In my own experience, also on this very blog, these observations are largely correct.

    In my experience, a facile, one-dimensional take on “free market” economics goes hand in hand with a facile, one-dimensional characterisation of just about everything else.

  304. Joshua says:

    Of course, Willard, even blacks and Hispanics in the u.s. have a higher standard of living than non-minorities in somalia, because government causes suffering.

    If only we could all go back to living in Caves. If only eebil governments would allow us to do so.

  305. BBD says:

    Thanks for that graph illustrating some wealth redistribution happening in the real world, Willard. Let’s hope vp takes note.

    Another example of wealth redistribution would be when multinationals in the extractive industries offshore profits from operations in developing economies to avoid paying tax that would benefit the (invariably already poor) populations of the countries they are plundering. This amoral practice is invariably waved away by those who get most agitated about wealth redistribution, which suggests a certain incoherence in their logic.

  306. victorpetri says:

    @Joshua,

    Look at that ‘socialist’ Latin America and middle america, even more inequal than the states

  307. Joshua says:

    Vp –

    =>> “I think governments are the greatest sources of inequality in the world ”

    You’re quite the squirrel Hunter, aren’t you?

    Now back to Lee and his article about schneider’s ethics.

  308. Joshua,
    Yes, I’d quite like vp to explain that too as it does appear to be suggesting that we could improve inequality if we didn’t have governments. That doesn’t appear to be consistent with what vp has since said.

  309. victorpetri says:

    The problem is the US is in my opinion, that opportunities are not equal by far. It is quite possibly the least social mobile developed country in the world. People born poor, stay poor very often.
    This is the problem that needs fixing, and simple wealth distribution would be a costly way to do so, much better would be for governments to create equal opportunity. E.g. by providing cheap or free education, by investing in infrastructure and investing in public transport.

  310. vp,

    providing cheap or free education, by investing in infrastructure and investing in public transport.

    Huh? Okay, now I’m confused. And maybe providing free healthcare?

  311. John says:

    The same cronyism that vp complains about would still exist if government were to vanish – same players, same game – the only difference would be the lack of a middle man. I agree that cronyism is a cancer to government, but instead of getting rid of government, how about moving to restrict cronyism? It’s the core of the problem, isn’t it? But libertarians by-and-large support Citiziens United and oppose campaign finance reform. If libertarians don’t mind unlimited cash flowing from private hands into politicians hands, then they don’t have much room to complain about the corruption that emerges as a result of it. Oh, but complain they do.

  312. BBD says:

    That’s wealth redistribution, vp. Gubmints do not have any money. That’s why taxes…

  313. victorpetri says:

    To add to this, this does not mean a government should be bigger, it should be as small as it can possibly be while still being efficient, it should have different policies.

    And again, I consider government enforced intellectual property rights one of the biggest causes of inequality.

  314. BBD says:

    Big Corporate cheats massively on its tax bill – using offshore – and so wealth is redistributed away from the poor and to the rich.

    See how it goes now?

  315. BBD says:

    >enforced intellectual property rights

    Look! A squirrel!

  316. victorpetri says:

    @John
    Then take it up with someone that is Libertarian.

  317. BBD says:

    Or just someone with half a clue what they are talking about.

  318. BBD says:

    Sorry, sorry. I keep forgetting that after The Flounce vp isn’t speaking to me anymore.

  319. John says:

    vp,

    Then take it up with someone that is Libertarian.

    apologies, if you advocate free education and government spending on infrastructure and transport, then you clearly are not a libertarian. I actually tend to agree with some of your criticisms of government, btw. Do you support campaign finance reform?

  320. Eli Rabett says:

    VP –

    Are you blind to see that it is laissez faire economics that has brought prosperity up to now?

    There is a very old joke about the Lone Ranger and Tonto surrounded by Native Americans that comes to mind.

  321. victorpetri says:

    @John
    I have not formed an opinion on it, you should know, I am not American.

    I have often wondered though which way the causation would run, does the candidate wins because he received the most money, or did he receive the most money because he was winning? Although I am not quite sure which of those disturbs me most.

  322. Joshua

    =>> “I read in some of the comments (hidden) willingness to give up democracy”

    Are there any such examples you’ve seen from comments you’ve seem here? If so, could you point to or quote one or two?

    If I were willing to do that I would have done it in my original comment. The question is about my perception. It may well be wrong in any individual case, but less likely in every case where, what is proposed seems to imply recourse to authoritarian government.

    Making the world change is difficult. When someone considers a change an absolute necessity and urgent, but doubts the willingness of people to act in time, that’s one of the natural directions, where thoughts may move.

  323. BBD says:

    I have not formed an opinion on it, you should know, I am not American.

    What a mealy-mouthed evasion.

    I’m not American and I deplore the practice of corporations buying politicians. It is corrosive to democracy and leads to wealth redistribution.

  324. BBD says:

    Pekka

    You are insinuating totalitarian tendencies in people. Insinuating.

  325. Pekka,
    Yes, I agree with BBD. It is distinctly possible that climate change does indeed present the kind of problem that our current system is not well-suited to solving. It’s clearly difficult. I do think, however, that pointing out this potential issue is not the same as suggesting that the solution is to try for totalitarianism.

  326. Willard says:

    > Does the candidate wins because he received the most money, or did he receive the most money because he was winning.

    A nice equivocation.

    ***

    OK. I think we can all agree that without inequality, there’s no growth. What greater wealth is there than to own your life and to spend it on growing? Every living thing must grow. It can’t stand still. It must grow or perish.

  327. victorpetri says:

    @ATTP
    Agree with whom?

  328. vp,
    I’ve lost the context. Agree with whom where?

  329. BBD,
    I don’t see anything to apologize in believing that market mechanisms are important and that a very large share of individual (mostly small) decisions are done based on that.

    In a market economy people know that they must give up something in order to afford something more valuable and are ready to prioritize. The largest problem of a welfare state is that prioritizing different worthwhile goals is very difficult and that opposition to giving up existing benefits tends to be strong even when that particular benefit is not any more worth its cost.

    I’m not opposed to the structure of the Finnish economy that includes free education, low cost health care, etc, but I’m worried of the capability of our system to change as effectively as our continuous well-being requires.

  330. Willard says:

    As we can see, the countries with the smaller governments are somethingly something:

    Inequality seems to be the main driver. We should increase it. This is what leads to growth, the only objective measure there is. Growth is life.

    Inequality is a right. A value. We should rename it.

    Social Economic justice ™ or something.

  331. Pekka,

    I don’t see anything to apologize in believing that market mechanisms are important and that a very large share of individual (mostly small) decisions are done based on that.

    That wasn’t – I think – BBD’s point. He was objecting to you apparently implying that some people are (secretly) promoting/wanting totalitarianism.

  332. Willard says:

    > Agree with whom where?

    About what?

    There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil.

  333. BBD says:

    Pekka

    We were talking about this:

    I read in some of the comments (hidden) willingness to give up democracy

    And this:

    Making the world change is difficult. When someone considers a change an absolute necessity and urgent, but doubts the willingness of people to act in time, that’s one of the natural directions, where thoughts may move.

    Which have nothing to do with this that I can see:

    I don’t see anything to apologize in believing that market mechanisms are important and that a very large share of individual (mostly small) decisions are done based on that.

    Might I suggest that you put the insinuation in the cupboard where you keep the free market apologism and lock the door?

  334. Joshua says:

    Pekka –

    ==> “but less likely in every case where, what is proposed seems to imply recourse to authoritarian government….When someone considers a change an absolute necessity and urgent, but doubts the willingness of people to act in time, that’s one of the natural directions, where thoughts may move.”

    There are many issues where I think that action is necessary and urgent, and doubt the willingness of people to act in time, but don’t desire a recourse to authoritarian government, let alone advocate for it.

    Saying that “that’s one of the …directions…where thoughts may move” seems to me to be quite a long way from seeing such advocacy hidden in what people say. One is theoretical, the other is a statement of an observation. Just because someone might go there doesn’t mean that someone has.

  335. BBD says:

    ATTP

    Guess what? We crossed!

    🙂

  336. Joshua says:

    willard –

    Re: the relationship between income inequality and social mobility:

    http://intelligencesquaredus.org/debates/past-debates/item/1159-income-inequality-impairs-the-american-dream

    Watched that while on the elliptical the other day. I will say that I think that the relationship is complex, and easily demagogued in either direction.

  337. Willard says:

    In my opinion, our main priority is to grow all the things.

    To grow old and grumpy. To grow on trees. To grow a beard.

    Among all the things we need to grow is inequality:

    Don’t mind the image. Don’t look at it. Listen to me.

    We need growth. We need inequality. Economic justice ™.

    Thank you.

  338. I’m not insinuating anyone specifically, I’m not claiming that such tendencies are common, only that I have seen many enough potential cases to consider it likely that the impression is true for some of them.

    Anyone who feels that it cannot apply to him should not worry. If someone observes a reason to think that his comment may have caused me to react, then perhaps my comment has been worthwhile. I don’t think that anyone is knowingly supporting anything close to totalitarian, but some proposals may still hint in that direction.

  339. Willard says:

    That last comment, Pekka, shows why I cannot but love you.

  340. Joshua says:

    And Pekka –

    Maybe you could explain this:

    ==> “If I were willing to do that I would have done it in my original comment. ”

    Why aren’t you willing to do that? Are you worried that someone might be offended?

    Let’s consider two options.

    1) You think that some people might be implicitly (or surreptitiously) advocating for totalitarianism, so you ask them about comments they made and discuss with them the implications, perhaps implications that they might not have thought through.

    2) You think that some people might be implicitly (or surreptitiously) advocating for totalitarianism, so you generalize about your interpretation of their comments and allow it to be completely unclear as to which comments by whom you are referring to – so that any number of people my think that you are insinuating that they advocate totalitarianism and preclude any chance that they might be able to clarify a misunderstanding on your part.

    I’d like to know why you aren’t willing to be more specific. As an unspecific generalization, I find your observations about “hidden” totalitarianism to be pretty useless. Maybe I might learn something if you were more specific.

  341. Joshua says:

    ==> “only that I have seen many enough potential cases to consider it likely that the impression is true for some of them.”

    Pekka does his best to elevate the overall unintentional irony factor.

  342. Joshua says:

    ==> “Anyone who feels that it cannot apply to him should not worry.

    Who is worried? What (perhaps hidden?) indications do you have that they are worried?

    ==> “If someone observes a reason to think that his comment may have caused me to react, then perhaps my comment has been worthwhile.”

    If someone thinks that you have mistakenly interpreted their beliefs, then your comment has been worthwhile?

    Really?

    Well, you did say “perhaps.”

  343. To be fair to Pekka, I’m well aware that I sometimes express an opinion about something that others may object to, but that I don’t think I necessarily need to defend, given that it was only an opinion and they can always ignore it if they wish. On the other hand, if one of those objected to my opinion and was interested in a good faith discussion about it, I would normally comply.

  344. John says:

    Here in America, at least, we are in a new age of McCarthyism. I am left-leaning, and love the free market, though I have some criticisms of it – and that alone is enough to earn the moniker of Communist here in the states. Capitalism MUST NOT be criticized under any circumstances, apparently.

    Well, ATTP, I think maybe it’s just as difficult to discuss politics as science. Perhaps you should blog about puppies. Wait, then the “Catists” and cat apologists will show up and ruin everything with their vulgar hate speech.

  345. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “but that I don’t think I necessarily need to defend,”

    Of course, there is no “need” to defend. No one is demanding that Pekka defend anything, and no one is in a position to do so anyway.

    Pekka’s argument is in the form of an argument that we see frequently from “skeptics.” It is a “those who disagree with me are sociopaths” form of argumentation. Maybe someone here is hiding calls for totalitarianism. If so, I’d like to know about it.

    On the other hand, none of here need Pekka to explain to us that “skeptics” see “realists” calling for totalitarianism. We see it in virtually every thread in the climate-o-sphere.

  346. One of my comments was a response to this

    BBD: Interesting that at heart you are an apologist for the free market. Thanks for sharing that.

    Both ATTP and BBD reacted to it as is it had been about something else. I thought the my choice of words would have indicated the connection.

  347. Joshua says:

    ==> “Wait, then the “Catists” and cat apologists will show up and ruin everything with their vulgar hate speech.”

    Also, some Puppyists will hide calls for a totalitarian puppy-state – as in “Awwww, puppies are so cute.”

  348. victorpetri says:

    @John
    It is the opposite in Europe. Here capitalism is considered a necessary evil, capitalism cannot be praised.

    ps I am a catperson

  349. BBD says:

    I took care to differentiate between the two things that you need to lock in a cupboard in my previous comment Pekka.

    I think you just don’t like Schellnhuber very much 😉

  350. John says:

    vp

    It is the opposite in Europe. Here capitalism is considered a necessary evil, capitalism cannot be praised.

    Interesting. So far apart, yet so close. I think the obvious truth (lost the in the Land of False Dichotomy) is that Capitalism and Socialism are like peanut butter and jelly – most successful nations have some mix of the two. The trick is in getting the ratio just right. Despite the divisive rhetoric, it always amazes me how much the left and right could agree upon if only we would just put down our swords. Most left-leaning people I know think govt. is wasteful in a lot of areas, and most right-leaning people I know love Medicare and Social Security. PB & J, baby.

    ps – are you a catspiracy theorist?

  351. victorpetri says:

    @John
    Perhaps, at least I am not dog matic

  352. Willard says:

    I’m starting to dig Economic justice ™.

    So much that I’m willing to compromise a little liberty for growth. Growth is so important. Growth needs a grower. A grower who would have all the liberties he needs to plant seeds, and to attend to free growth. His attendance would be almost invisible.

    The grower would grow in the wild, as this is where he works best. If there is not enough wildness, we should rewild. George Monbiot can’t disagree with that.

    The grower needs to show discipline. A work ethic without which no Economic justice ™ can emerge. Growing is the only true business, the only moral path for the grower.

    To make sure such discipline obtains, the grower needs power. If economic justice is the end, the mean is the power to grow.The more growing power a grower has, the most power we should give the grower.

    Our voting power should be proportional to one’s power to grow.

    We should never oppose to the most powerful grower. We should only have the choice either to vote for him, or to abstain from voting

    Only by following this growing path will be able to grow.

    Only thus can we escape totalitarianism, which is another word for ungrowth.

    Thank you.

  353. anoilman says:

    victorpetri: I can’t follow your logic. On one had you’ll stand there and decry subsidy for solar and wind, yet on the other, you are utterly mum on subsidy for nuclear and oil. It seems to me that you are just banging on a drum. Even if you put a Carbon Tax in place, it won’t harm your economy, not initially. A Carbon Tax lets industry and market forces come into play and do a good job. The process of switching to cleaner fuels will take decades.

    ps. I am also a cat person. I like dogs too, but I don’t want to walk them when its -40.

  354. victorpetri says:

    @anoilman
    I don’t understand, I have already said I am against subsidies for nuclear and oil. And I was positive on carbon tax, as indicated very often already.

  355. anoilman says:

    matt, ATTP: Most of the economic models make some sort of assumption that extinction level events for some species is some how quantifiable and reversible. This is not a justifiable stance. There is no evidence that the damage from Global Warming can be reversed.

    What we do know in North America is that if you over fish a region, the fish are gone, never to return. We watched this happen then. Everyone wrangled over who was to blame and how was responsible… and boom gone. A fishing moratorium (zero fishing) has resulting in nothing coming back.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collapse_of_the_Atlantic_northwest_cod_fishery

    Understandably, I’m concerned as I watch this behavior repeat itself on a larger scale with Global Warming. Especially since the IPCC is saying this will be happening in the equatorial regions. It takes some pretty Magical Thinking to assume fish will move to cooler waters.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_thinking

    We know for a fact, that fish don’t like their habitat changed, and they don’t go to new places. This is a problem with the West Coast fisheries in Canada. You can’t restock a Salmon run.

  356. BBD says:

    And I was positive on carbon tax, as indicated very often already.

    But only to the extent that it had no real inhibitory effect on fossil fuel use. You were very clear on that point too. Perhaps you can see that you are being intellectually dishonest here? If not, then take it from me, you are.

  357. anoilman says:

    victorpetri: “To radically curb CO2 emissions would be equivalent of putting a cast on both arms, before jumping of a cliff with a parachute.”

    We need to radically curb CO2 emissions. If we switched to 90% efficiency.. we still loose because we have such a huge world population all wanting the same standard of living we have.

    A gradual Carbon Tax should be instituted now. And make no mistake, you need to put me out of a job.

  358. I do not believe that material growth is essential for the wealthy nations of the present, but change is, and change implies that some parts of the economy grow. Furthermore real growth is difficult to measure (I have linked before to the book “Mismeasuring our lives”. The main text of that can be found from the net.)

    The standard ways of measuring GDP are questionable over long periods. It’s done by compounding differential changes that give the impression of being measurable, but do perhaps not really measure real growth, only a poor proxy of that.

    Where the growth is needed and where market economy supports it, is in taking advantage of new opportunities for improving our well-being (or in fulfilling such choices of consumers that are not really as worthwhile as their success seems to indicate). The strength of the market economy is that it allows the efficient producers of new valuable products and services to grow and thus spread effectively. The drawbacks are also real, but the virtues have been essential for much of the positive development the World has seen.

    One of the main problems is that such businesses grow that sell more, it’s more difficult to prosper by offering something that does not add to the material consumption. What’s needed is, however, growth in areas that improve well-being, while decreasing material consumption (or at least not increasing that). Such activities may grow, but that tends to happen with relatively little direct influence on the economy, and with little direct contribution to GDP. As an example everything that goes on with the Internet has affected our lives much more than the share of those activities in GDP.

  359. Willard says:

    We interrupt this program with another terrorist attempt to stifle growth:

    An inquiry into the matter by Connecticut Light & Power found “remnants of a squirrel” and shards of a ceramic electrical switch at the base of utility pole #85324. The conclusion: The critter had electrocuted itself and, in so doing, triggered a massive power surge that blew out appliances and television sets all over the neighborhood.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB1044309659373124584

    Damn squirrels!

  360. anoilman says:

    victorpetri: We use relatively little new technology in oil wells. The first patents on Electromagnetic Pulse communications are from Schlumberger in 1912. Since then.. we got Mud pulse… Acoustic Pulse, and oh.. mud sirens. Nothing spectacular.

    WHUT, verytallguy; Reserves of fossil fuel are driven are not driven by ingenuity, but rather by price. Shale wells are an excellent example of this, they started at $5 million a well 4 years ago, and are at $8 million a well now, and climbing.

    We’ll go deeper for oil for more money. The equipment used already operates in conditions well beyond the those faced by the pansies in the Military or Space industries.

  361. anoilman says:

    Willard: Blackened a neighborhood and one squirrel?

  362. BBD says:

    One’s all it takes, AOM.

  363. Eli Rabett says:

    IENSHO the problem with Pekka’s argument is that by not dealing with climate change now he makes it much more likely that the black helicopters will have to go forth in the future. It could certainly be argued, and Eli will do so, that by not dealing with climate change twenty years ago because “FREEDOOOM” the world must now contemplate far more restrictive measures.

  364. BBD says:

    Freedom to keep filling the coffers.

  365. jac. says:

    Victor Petri wrote:

    “You fail to give me the courtesy that I as well aim to improve mankind’s well being and that of the poor. You may disagree with my reasoning, but do not doubt my intentions, please.”

    I doubt his intentions.

    Victor Petri is a Dutch geophysicist who is working for an oil company. That is what he wrote himself (in 2011) when advising (on a Dutch website ‘for investors from investors’) that ‘going short on natural resources is betting against human ingenuity and it is a bet you are always going to lose in the long term’. (I happen to have a fair understanding of Dutch, thank you)

    http://www.iex.nl/Column/63865/Peak-grondstof-naar-keuze.aspx

    Clearly, scientists advocating policy is bad, but oil-men advocating policy is fine.

    Incidentally, in the very same article Victor Petri wrote that according to J.F. Kennedy, only one natural resource really matters, i.e. the human mind. Sounds familiar? Victor Petri used the same quote in his comment in this thread on December 18, at 09.19 hr. I will admit that it’s a nice sound bite to quote: it suggests that we, the human race, are unique and can overcome any and all problems. For some – Victor Petri fits the bill, I’d say – it almost seems to be their religion.

    It is an ideology that seems to be common for denialists. And I can see why; especially for denialists it is a convenient, very self-servicing argument to dismiss moral or ethical responsibility for severe future havoc their own behavior might cause for others. ‘We will solve that, human ingenuity will solve that.’ What they mean is: ‘I don’t really care about the very negative consequences MY actions – according to scientists – very likely will have FOR OTHERS in the midterm future; nor do I want others to hold me responsible for these consequences. So, to relieve me of ethical considerations, I say: let others be responsible for my actions, I have not the faintest idea how but it is my claim that others will be able to solve it, better and cheaper than I can. And by the way, these scientists are wrong, and I have some cleverly distorted arguments for that as well.”

    Victor Petri claims that his aim is to improve mankind’s well-being and that of the poor.
    Really? I think he is being dishonest here. Either that, or he has a very peculiar definition of the ‘well-being of human kind’

    https://profile.theguardian.com/user/id/13839719

    I found that reading some quotes on that page (no need and really not interested in reading his full comments) was very illuminating when it comes to the intentions of Victor Petri.

    For instance: ‘As a humanist’ he is happy to cause havoc on wildlife (a deceptive euphemism for wrecking havoc on ecosystems, as far as I am concerned) if it is for the well being of mankind.
    Personally I fail to see how creating havoc on ecosystems can be beneficial to mankind. But then again, I don’t earn my money in the oil-industry so I may not quite have the human ingenuity to fully understand.
    .
    And in another quote, again – as he does in this thread – advocating his sincere concerns for the well being of mankind, Victor Petri hastens to make the point that, to him, ‘an increase in inequality’ is not necessarily bad.
    Now, isn’t that a happy coincidence for someone working in the oil industry: burning oil causes a climate change that will just do that!! Continuation and even speeding up burning oil will surely make the rich countries even richer, and the resulting climate change will create havoc in the poor, vulnerable countries, so that definitely will be an increase in inequality. But that is not bad – at least not when you are Victor Petri and working in the oil industry and living in one of these richest countries.
    Let no one doubt that Victor Petri is interested in the wellbeing of mankind: on the contrary and more specifically: he is very interested in the well being of his own cosy little corner of mankind.

    And what if this further growth of prosperity for his own little cosy and already very rich Dutch corner of the world comes at the expense of the lives of maybe many, many millions of poor, wretched and vulnerable human beings in far-away countries in the mid-term future? I think I already know what the ‘humanist’ Victor Petri would say: ‘Human ingenuity will solve it’.

    Now I also understand what Victor Petri really meant in an earlier comment in this thread when claiming that he is a risk-taker: he likes to gamble if the chance for profit is on him, and the risk of havoc is on others. No wonder then his admiration for Matt Ridley who loved to gamble with the money of others: the bonuses were on him; the risk of loss of family savings was on others.

    It is my conclusion that Victor Petri and I have no common ethical or moral grounds to discuss climate policy. I think he is being dishonest about his true ethical standards and also about his personal interests in the oil industry; I think these are related. Victor Petrol would have been a better name.

    I think you all have been very polite and ‘civil’ to Victor Petri, and it honours you. But too much of a good thing can turn in to something bad. To me, what could have been an interesting and promising post has been suffering from Victor Petri, who has been getting far too much attention without contributing anything that has had any merits for the topic and, to me, has effectively disrupted it. And I think that is exactly what he’s been after.

    May I suggest ignoring Victor Petri? I will.

    And by the way: I was using the word ‘denialist’ to refer to those who try to deny their responsibility for their own actions and using arguments from the realm of fairy tales and magic, and falsely claiming that their intentions are not merely self-serving but beneficial for mankind.

    I know this post is not very civil, and I apologise to the host; but I have been steaming up for a post like this for a long time,

    Jac.

  366. Willard says:

    > [B]y not dealing with climate change now he makes it much more likely that the black helicopters will have to go forth in the future.

    This is the same argument as Scott Denning, another proponent of growth as virtue, I believe:

    Growers have been missing. Growth is infinitely needed. We need growers to grow up and start to show their infinite ingenuity.

    Thank you.

  367. There are two separate, but linked questions

    What kind of results are needed from mitigation?

    How can the best outcome be reached in the real world taking into account, how economies work and how decisions are made?

    What I concentrated on was the second question. It should be considered, whatever the answer is to the first question (except the rejected answer that nothing needs to be done). I have been worrying about the problems of the market economy in solving the issue for long. In 1999 I wrote

    Most of the 20th century has been characterised by the success of a business model based on the mass production of relatively low-cost short lifetime products. This has created the basis for rapid expansion in production volumes, but also required more and more resources from the environment. The real challenge of the next century is to switch to a business model where producers of low-resource products and services will prosper and where wasteful consumers turn into users of sustainable products and services. If the Kyoto Protocol is to be the first real step in halting global warming, it should also act as a catalyst towards such a new business model and consumption pattern.

    I have presented this quote also earlier, probably on this site. It was published at the end of the Executive summary of a book that I was editing. (Climate Change, Socioeconomic dimensions and consequences of mitigation measures, Edita, Helsinki 2000).

    Worrying about these things does not mean that I want to postpone action. I haven’t changed my mind on what I quote above. I have learned much more about the climate science since then, but this is not about climate science, but about implementing what climate science tells to be important.

  368. Eli Rabett says:

    Pekka, it appears that the answer to your question

    How can the best outcome be reached in the real world taking into account, how economies work and how decisions are made?

    Is somewhere between not possible in the current situation and impossible with the current economic model, which takes you into Naomi Klein territory.

  369. Michael 2 says:

    Jac writes: “May I suggest ignoring Victor Petri? I will.”

    And this is not a comment 😉

    One-a-day multiple vitamins with irony!

  370. Eli,
    It takes to the same territory of issues, but what I have written in this thread tells essentially that I don’t agree on the ultimate conclusions, i.e., I’m not willing to give up what she is willing to give up, and more importantly, I don’t believe that the democratic processes are not going to accept her solutions.

    All that’s written based on indirect information as I haven’t read her books, only what others have written on them. Some of these others have been rather sympathetic to her message, but critical views have been more common among those those few evaluations I have read.

  371. BBD says:

    M2

    I think a reasonable reading of Jac’s words might be this:

    May I suggest ignoring Victor Petri [in future]? I will.

    He does have a point, you know.

  372. I’ll stand up for vp a little. He may make arguments that many here would disagree with, but I do think he is engaging in good faith. Something many others do not even attempt.

  373. BBD says:

    but I do think he is engaging in good faith

    He’s a wee bit too evasive for me to entirely go along with that, ATTP.

  374. BBD,
    Yes, I understand, but I don’t really want to chase everyone who might be regarded as being in opposition away.

  375. > How can the best outcome be reached in the real world taking into account, how economies work and how decisions are made?

    As a proponent of growth, I believe the first step is to embrace a change of paradigm. Since Leibniz and up to Ronald Reagandhi [1], we were living in the best possible world. We are now entering into the realms of the impossible worlds. I am afraid that we are living in the worst of the impossible worlds.

    Only infinite growth can help us reach to the stars, which are distancing us as we speak. We need to go beyond what we, frail squirrels that we are, can even conceive. We need to expand our minds, just like the universe does, like life itself, like Truth, like Economic Justice ™.

    Thank you.

    [1] http://buffalobillgates.tumblr.com/image/86590189771

  376. BBD says:

    ATTP

    Of course. That would make for a duller comments section 😉

  377. Willard,

    We are now entering into the realms of the impossible worlds.

    That’s a relevant point. A paper related to that is An Even Sterner Review: Introducing Relative Prices into the Discounting Debate by Thomas Sterner and U. Martin Persson. An essentially final version of the article can be found using Google.

  378. BBD,
    Indeed, and I would say the possibility of less criticism about ATTP moderation, but that’s probably not true 🙂

  379. BBD says:

    It’s lonely at the top, ATTP 🙂

  380. I wish…actually, maybe I don’t 😉

  381. BBD says:

    You must think of the cause, comrade Physics. The coming global administration will need many liberal scientists among its ranks.

    We cannot allow personal modesty to stand in the way of progress.

    /lunacy

  382. victorpetri says:

    @Jac
    That’s some impressive stalking you have done there.
    I cannot but think about how impressed I am with my own consistency.
    And also my honesty, using my actual name, I already stated on this blog I work in oil. I personally think people who work in oil, but declare it to be the root of evil are hypocrites, luckily I hold no such position. If I would thought so, I would quit.
    And yes, I call myself a radical humanist, for me human beings are the most important for me, nature does not hold intrinsic value for me, the value comes from what it means to us (which for me it does a lot).
    Anyone who says that inequality is bad by definition, isn’t really thinking it through, so perhaps you should think a bit more and that. And in fact you should think a bit more on all the stuff I say.

    I am sorry that my point of view makes you so mad, it also seems to make you very irrational.

    The following you quoted incorrectly
    going LONG on natural resources is betting against human ingenuity and it is a bet you are always going to lose in the long term.

    And finally, since you are so interested in my writings, you can go to my blog, where I have honestly and consistently have written some of those ideas:
    https://humansrunderrated.wordpress.com/2012/10/02/the-infinite-resource/
    Same name as on iex btw.
    But this is at your own risk, since I talk about infinite resources, overpopulation not being a problem and such, you’ll probably foaming at the mouth, reading in a red haze until you get a heart attack.

  383. anoilman says:

    Just because I work in oil doesn’t mean I can’t hope for a better world, or even work at it. That’s not hypocrisy. I’m reasonably certain that the Northerners wore cotton when they battled the south in the US Civil War. (In your world they’d have to go naked?)

    And I do fear repercussions from the industry. They do that around here.

    I don’t think oil is the root of all evil, but I think its time to move on, and that has to hurt. Especially for people directly employed by it like me.

    I don’t think human ingenuity is infinite. I think we need to tackle problems head on, with a plan. Right now, that’s just what you don’t want to hear about. Yet the current ‘plan’ is to change the planet to some unknown state, with no idea what it might be other than bad, no idea if you can reverse it, and no idea how many people you’ll kill to get there. That’s not right. That’s not sane.

  384. > I personally think people who work in oil, but declare it to be the root of evil are hypocrites, luckily I hold no such position.

    Speaking of positions, the blurb in Jac’s citation states that vp has a long one in solar, the main theme of the blog post he just quoted.

  385. Joseph says:

    The following you quoted incorrectly
    going LONG on natural resources is betting against human ingenuity

    VP, The problem right now is that fossil fuels are cheaper, especially coal. I don’t think the difference in cost between fossil fuels and renewables is justified given the large external costs associated with fossil fuel use. The only response to the issue with external costs by skeptics is that they can’t be measured and therefore I guess don’t exist.

    But anyway, without market incentives the investors and corporations will in most cases choose the lower cost alternative to maximize profits. Without market incentives we won’t see the needed inflow of capital into research and development for renewables either because we already have readily available low cost alternatives that are in demand. I think your are a bit too optimistic about human ingenuity solving this problem without the right incentives and resources in place to accomplish the goal.

  386. victorpetri says:

    @anoilman
    I think it is interesting that I had not mentioned your name, but you apparently feel addressed anyways.
    @Willard
    Yes, also this information I have given about myself on this blog. Since I have so much trust in human ingenuity, solar is a logical champion. As our knowledge grows, you need constantly less resources to create more energy. In that sense it can be considered to be an information technology, such as computerchips, which gives improving performance for decreasing prices. (more than fossil fuels it is bounded by knowledge, not by Earth’s finite resources).
    @Joseph
    To internalize externalities in fossil fuels, I can agree with, despite any difficulties in determining how much.

  387. vp,

    I think it is interesting that I had not mentioned your name, but you apparently feel addressed anyways.

    Well, yes, because you clearly said that I personally think people who work in oil, but declare it to be the root of evil are hypocrites, luckily I hold no such position. So, I would guess that AoM doesn’t think the oil industry is actually the root of all evil and neither do I, but the implication of what you said was that someone who works in that industry, but thinks that we should be actively reducing our use of fossil fuels, is a hypocrite.

  388. Clev says:

    VP: “nature does not hold intrinsic value for me”

    You sad man.

  389. victorpetri says:

    @ATTP
    So you don’t consider AoM arguing for fossil fuel reduction and working in the oil industry, the equivalent of someone advocating vegetarianism while working in a slaughterhouse?
    @Clev
    Actually, I am a quite happy person, but thanks for your concern.

  390. jsam says:

    We’re addicted to oil. I want smart and aware people inside the tent.

  391. .. the various kinds of uncertainties that affect these economic results raise serious questions about whether or not the net costs and benefits of mitigating climate change over periods as long as 50 to 100 years can be known to such a level of accuracy that they should be reported to policymakers and the public. This paper provides a detailed analysis of the derivation of these estimates of the long-term economic costs and benefits of mitigation. It particularly focuses on the role of technological change, especially for energy efficiency technologies, in making the net economic results of mitigating climate change unknowable over the long run. Because of these serious technical problems, policymakers should not base climate change mitigation policy on the estimated net economic impacts computed by integrated assessment models. Rather, mitigation policies must be forcefully implemented anyway given the actual physical climate change crisis, in spite of the many uncertainties involved in trying to predict the net economics of doing so.

    The above (emphasis mine) is from the abstract of a resent open access paper R.A. Rosen, E. Guenther, The economics of mitigating climate change: What can we know?, Technol.
    Forecast. Soc. Change (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2014.01.013
    .

    Looking from the proper perspective it has been obvious that the cost estimate of mitigation like those presented in IPCC, AR5 WG3 report and referred to also in this thread do not make much sense (I wrote on that in 2011), but I haven’t seen previously as comprehensive discussion of that as in the paper of Rosen and Guenther.

    This observation leads in my thinking to the serious dilemma that I consider both of the following two points essential:
    1) We do not have appropriate methods for comparing various alternative policies to tell, which is better.
    2) Without such methods the chosen policy may be far worse than one of the alternatives.

    Rosen and Guenther write: mitigation policies must be forcefully implemented, but I’m not satisfied by that, because that does not tell, what forcefully means. As a simple example the decision could be that a significant carbon tax is introduced, but how high that tax should be? Nothing can be done as long as that has not been decided, and deciding rationally on a number requires some kind of comparison of the positive and negative consequences of alternative levels. For that reason I have expressed hope that approaches could be developed that circumvent in some way the impossibility of estimating long term costs of mitigation and of warming. Such methods must recognize that long term effects are important. The related long term risks must be quantified in some way and results of that must be used in support of the decision making. I just don’t know, how that can be done.

    By the above I don’t mean that we should not do anything right now based on the present highly lacking knowledge, but the risk of erring seriously in the decision is the larger the less we understand about the relative merits of alternative policies. Therefore improvements in the understanding would be of great value.

  392. I intended to give a link to this (I wrote on that in 2011). I hope it works now.

  393. AoM,

    So you don’t consider AoM arguing for fossil fuel reduction and working in the oil industry, the equivalent of someone advocating vegetarianism while working in a slaughterhouse?

    You do realise that you now appear to be explicitly calling AoM a hypocrite. No, I don’t think this is an issue in the sense that you seem to be suggesting. There is nothing wrong, in my view, with working in the oil industry while publicly expressing concerns about the risks associated with climate change. The latter is a physical reality and the more people who recognise it the better. That we will continue to use oil and gas is also a reality, so – as jsam says – I would certainly prefer that there were informed people in that industry, than it being an industry full of people who are ignoring the risks. What would be immoral – in my view – is for people in the oil and gas industry to be knowingly and actively working to undermine our ability to address the risks associated with climate change.

  394. Pekka,

    1) We do not have appropriate methods for comparing various alternative policies to tell, which is better.
    2) Without such methods the chosen policy may be far worse than one of the alternatives.

    Yes, I largely agree with (1). On the other hand, I’m not sure I quite see the relevance of (2), in the sense that the real question should be is our chosen policy likely to be better than choosing to do nothing. I guess there is a chance that we could choose to do nothing actively and just hope that something magical happens to save us, but I find it hard to believe that aiming to do something so as to minimise (as much as is possible) the risks associated with climate change will be worse than simply burying our heads in the sand. It’s probably always true that we could have done something that would have been more effective than what we actually chose to do, but that doesn’t mean choosing to do nothing.

  395. aTTP,

    I think I answer fully your question at the end of my comment.

    Even then we should be able to justify that the proposed policy is, indeed, better than not doing anything. That may be easy for moderate enough policies, but gets the more difficult the stronger the policies are.

    I add another quote from the paper of Rosen and Guenther. This is from the end of conclusios

    Going forward, the key economic issue on which policymakers (and IAM research teams) should focus is how to implement as cost-effective and stringent a mitigation scenario as possible in the short to medium term, with periodic adjustments to such a plan. Making realistic plans to mitigate climate change decade by decade requires much more specialized and detailed sectoral planning models than the current IAMs to carry out least cost/maximum benefit planning in each sector of the economy in order to create hopeful, normative mitigation scenarios.

    This has similarities with what I have proposed. I have also emphasized that making comparisons on the short term effects is a useful first step. When that is done it must be understood that large long term differences are more important than moderate differences in the results of the short term comparison. Thus short term comparisons are most useful when two alternatives are compared that are similar in their long term effects.

  396. Pekka,

    I think I answer fully your question at the end of my comment.

    Yes, you do, sorry.

  397. Clev says:

    VP: “So you don’t consider AoM arguing for fossil fuel reduction and working in the oil industry, the equivalent of someone advocating vegetarianism while working in a slaughterhouse?”

    Firstly they are not equivalent. Secondly you are implying this somehow renders OilMan’s argument invalid, one of many logical fallacies you commit on this thread and others.

    They are not equivalent because a vegetarian by definition eats no meat. Whereas arguing for “fossil fuel reduction” is not arguing for NO fossil fuels. (You could also be vegetarian because you just don’t like the taste f meat, in which case why shouldn’t you work in a slaughterhouse, but that’s another point).

    Logical fallacy because it does not undermine AnOilMans’ argument: if anything it strengthens it because he is actual arguing against his own commercial interest, which is usually the sign of ethical behaviour rather than, as you imply, somehow hypocritical.

    But it’s pretty much impossible to debate environmental protection with someone who sees no intrinsic value in nature, since there is no common ground. It’s like debating slavery with someone who thinks people are worthless.

  398. Joshua says:

    ==> “2) Without such methods the chosen policy may be far worse than one of the alternatives.”

    Yes, and without such methods, any of the alternatives may be far worse then the chosen policy.

    So we are making decisions in the face of uncertainty.

    So the main problem, as I see it, is that discussants often show certainty related to the net balance of the costs and benefits related to mitigation. I find it amusing when they also say that they can’t evaluate the cost/benefit ratio of uncertainties. Obviously, there has to be some motivated reasoning going on there.

    I also find it amusing when people talk of the potential for unintended consequences for actions taken, but almost invariably they speak about unintended consequences only in the context of options they don’t support – as if somehow the options they do support are going to be free from unintended consequences.

    There is some logic to the proposition that the more dramatic an action taken to ward off potential negative outcomes, the larger potential magnitude of the unintended consequences. But then again, it is also possible that in this case at least, the less dramatic the action taken the larger the impact will be of unintended consequences.

    IMO, another main problem is that the issue has become a proxy for ideological battles. As a result, it becomes less a discussion about how to solve a problem in the face of uncertainty and more a problem of identity struggles related to ideological orientation.

  399. Joshua says:

    Clev –

    Re: your 12:35. My guess is that it’s time for vp to go squirrel hunting.

  400. victorpetri says:

    @Clev
    You can debate me on the fact that the ideas I hold, I hold because I believe them to be the most optimal for mankinds sustainable wellbeing. The state of nature is very obviously very important to that.

  401. Joshua says:

    No sooner said….

  402. Joshua,
    All the comparisons that I have in mind take uncertainties into account in some way. As long as the expectation value (whatever that means technically) deviates to one direction, that tells that the the best of our knowledge the choice is beneficial or detrimental the the best of our knowledge. When the expectation value is negligible relative to the uncertainties the expectation value is, however, not suitable as guidance. Then we can conclude that we really don’t know essentially anything. The problems of economic analyses tend to become that bad in the cases discussed in my recent comments. They really do not help in deciding.

  403. Willard says:

    Speaking of squirrel hunting:

    One by one, the bushy-tailed residents of Moscow’s parks have been disappearing. The problem: Russians have gone nuts for keeping squirrels as pets.

    Moscow authorities bolstered security last week for all of the city’s green areas after a city official, Alexei Gorelov, said he had received multiple reports of squirrel poaching.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/06/russia-poachers-purge-parks-squirrels-moscow-nuts-squirrels

    Take that, little growth terrorists!

  404. Willard says:

    Pekka,

    I think our state of knowledge can only lead to one conclusion: we’ve got to try everything and see what grows best:

    The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

  405. Pingback: AWOL! | …and Then There's Physics

  406. Rachel M says:

    VP,

    So you don’t consider AoM arguing for fossil fuel reduction and working in the oil industry, the equivalent of someone advocating vegetarianism while working in a slaughterhouse?

    As a plant-eater, I don’t think a vegetarian who works in a slaughterhouse is necessarily a hypocrite. Their job at the slaughterhouse might be to ensure better outcomes for animal welfare.

  407. Michael 2 says:

    BBD says: (December 19, 2014 at 10:36 pm) “The coming global administration will need many liberal scientists among its ranks.”

    Historical examples suggest actual scientists will be purged in such an environment.

    But I agree with you that liberal scientists will help build such a thing, or at least write an occasional blog post advocating it; not realizing (from the Peter Principle) that once build, that new government will fear those same scientists who could, if they wish, unbuild what they have built.

  408. I have a vague memory of someone telling me that many who work in abattoirs actually are vegetarian.

  409. Michael 2 says:

    anoilman says: (December 20, 2014 at 12:56 am)

    “Just because I work in oil doesn’t mean I can’t hope for a better world, or even work at it. That’s not hypocrisy.”

    You have previously claimed to be 46 years old and retired from working in oil. Consequently you are free to bite the hand that once fed you, just as retired professors can be critical of their former employers. But I agree that clean energy is better than dirty energy.

    “I’m reasonably certain that the Northerners wore cotton when they battled the south in the US Civil War.”

    Wool in large part with some cotton for undergarments.
    http://www.memorialhall.mass.edu/activities/dressup/notflash/civil_war_soldier.html

  410. BBD says:

    M2

    Sometimes it’s better to say nothing. Really.

  411. Michael 2 says:

    Rachel M says: “Their job at the slaughterhouse might be to ensure better outcomes for animal welfare.”

    I think the argument depends on whether one is an activist in opposition to his or her own employment. My Navy experience is slightly relevant — smoking, drinking (liquor, that is), promiscuous sailors and I was none of those but I also wasn’t an activist daily criticising those who do such things. In fact it can be said I was a hypocrite for not more assertively speaking on my own beliefs in opposition to the majority. But that boils down to being in the world but not of the world. YMMV.

  412. Michael 2 says:

    BBD says: “M2: Sometimes it’s better to say nothing.”

    Nothing! 🙂

  413. M2,

    just as retired professors can be critical of their former employers.

    Technically, unretired Professor can be critical of the current employers. It is probably discouraged more now than it once was, though.

  414. Willard says:

    ­> I think the argument depends on whether one is an activist in opposition to his or her own employment.

    I think the “but hypocrisy” argument is pure ad hominem. The reverse, i.e. going against one’s interest, is also ad hominem.

  415. Clev says:

    VP, thanks for telling me the grounds on which we can debate. I may think about it.

    Willard, you may be literally correct in saying ‘the “but hypocrisy” argument is pure ad hominem. The reverse, i.e. going against one’s interest, is also ad hominem.’ But sometimes even ad hominems can tell us something useful, just as sometimes cliches are useful in clear writing.

    Say your name is RW and you earn a good wage and are fortunate enough to pay the top rate of tax. Say it is 40%. You campaign noisily for it to be cut to 35%.
    Now, your motives may be pure. You may believe 35% will genuinely benefit the entire economy by encouraging entrepreneurs, hard work, etc.
    However we can also see clearly that you may be motivated entirely be self interest You’ll get to keep more money.

    Now say you are LW. You earn the same as RW but you campaign for the top rate of tax to be raised to 50%.
    Your motives may be pure. You may genuinely believe this will benefit the economy by helping to fund better public services, reducing the tax burden on the poor, etc.
    On top of that, it is hard for us to see how your views are motivated by self interest: you would personally be worse off.

    I think this can be a useful tool – but only one in the toolbox – to help us to decide whether someone’s views are based on an objective assessment of the evidence – and whether they are indeed capable of objectivity – or whether they are motivated by pure self interest, even unwittingly.

    I wouldn’t make too big a deal of it but I wouldn’t dismiss it out of hand either.

    But as the expert on this stuff I am sure you’ll have a riposte.

  416. Steve Bloom says:

    Ad hominem is the most abused term on the internet, but it’s surprising to see Willard doing it.

  417. Joshua says:

    =>> “On top of that, it is hard for us to see how your views are motivated by self interest: you would personally be worse off.”

    I think most people who advocate higher taxes think that with the benefit to the economy, they themselves will be better off – economically and otherwise.

  418. Willard says:

    Show me how I abused the term, SteveB.

  419. anoilman says:

    Michael 2: I never said I was retired. Semi retired… And reading scientific papers and quoting them can hardly imply I’m biting the hand the feeds me.

    I tend to think it would be hypocritical to work in a field that relies on science, and then turn around and deny another science because it was inconvenient to my check book. Its as though you expect my pay check to trump all logic.

    I think its interesting that both you and victorpetri think that paychecks should define what you are allowed to speak and how to act. I can therefore conclude that I can expect no logic from you because check book trumps all logic for you guys.

  420. Vinny Burgoo says:

    I was cleaning up my hard disks today and found this. From 1962:

    http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/papers/2006/P2678.pdf

    Some here might find it useful. (Note that not even physicists get top marks. A point docked for each of the following: predictability, not the most likely answer, and open-mindedness.)

    *

    OT:
    I also found a paper claiming that when men are shown a picture of a sexy woman they are more likely to use fancy words in subsequent speech whereas when women are shown a picture of a sexy man they are more likely to eschewdrop them.

    Wrong thread:
    And another – a 1997 policy doc from the European Commission – saying that the awarding of research grants ‘strictly according to scientific and technical criteria’ was a ‘neoliberal’ thing that ’emphasized scientific excellence at the expense of any and all social considerations in the awarding of research grants, and thus encouraged a consistent and deliberate policy of gender-blindness’. This was a bad thing and changing it, the doc said, would not be ‘to compromise excellence in the pursuit of social justice, but rather to enhance the excellence of European science by removing barriers to participation by qualified women scientists’.

    Hard to argue with that. Without getting castrated.

    Diversity is the all-important third leg of the excellence stool.

  421. Thanks, Vinny.

    This paper is mentioned in this episode of The American Life, if I recall correctly:

    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/293/a-little-bit-of-knowledge?act=3#play

  422. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Willard, no that’s the newfangled update by John Baez.

  423. Eli Rabett says:

    Rand Corporation, hmm, where has Eli run into those clowns before. Oh yes. Completely trustworthy advocates for megadeath.

  424. Joshua says:

    Is Steve out hunting squirrels?

  425. Nah, he’s just trying to make me work for him because I should care for his unsubstantiated opinion.

    In other news:

    This hits the nail hard:

    A press cannot be fully independent if nobody is willing to pay for it.

  426. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Thanks, Eli. An interesting read. (Bloody physicists. The RAND Corporation, the Yogic Flyers, Vandana Shiva… Is there no end to their weirdness?)

    I found a three-man nuclear bunker earlier this year. It’s overgrown with weeds in a corner of a field, lurking there like a miniature concrete submarine ready to torpedo cows should the need arise.

    It’s probably a near-perfect eco-house. Much uglier than a hobbit house but much more virtuous: much more cramped, much better insulated. Building emissions long since written off. No room for planet-destroying consumer goods or more than one or two changes of clothes. Or a boiler: you’d have to be all-electric. Next to a muddy stream. A short walk from a cheap supermarket. If you added a windmill, some water filtration and a composting toilet, a small family of hippies could moulder down there blissed out on planet-hugging off-grid self-congratulation until the End Times arrived.

  427. anoilman says:

    willard: My dad commented on that 10 years ago. Articles in Newspapers are frequently faked. If you look at who wrote it, you might see something interesting, like a company’s name, or just plain, ‘Submitted’.

    Vinny Burgoo, I’m not sure where you’re going with that. You like filling your house with crap you don’t need, or you think is wrong not to fill your house with crap you don’t need?

    Did you ever consider that it might make some sense to put things in your house that are higher quality, longer lasting and more useful? FYI Vinny, I live in a small house in a good neighborhood, all the rooms in the house are multi-use. I spent a lot of money to achieve this.

    Does your wife need a hobby table in your tiny house?
    http://geekchichq.com/the-portal-gaming-table.html

    Anyways, far right wing politicians in Canada are now saying what you are saying. Which kind of leaves me wondering why you guys can’t actually think of a middle ground. Its all extreme to you.

    Here’s the brain trust of Canada’s Far Right, Preston Manning, a senior fellow for the Fraser Institute (noted for its anti science stance, much like you). He introduced Steven Harper to Frank Luntz, which pretty much defines Canada’s environmental policy.
    http://www.carbontalks.ca/dialogues/public/canadas-energy-future

    There are a lot of really good quotes in that talk, particularly around ethics. The denial community are generally trying to compare themselves against the worst in order to feel better about themselves.

  428. Tuppence says:

    The indisputable and massive point overlooked / ducked here, is that it’s overhelmingly clear that much of the acceptance of climate science is associated with someone’s political beliefs and ideology, not because they understand the evidence that is available.

  429. Tuppence,

    The indisputable and massive point overlooked / ducked here, is that it’s overhelmingly clear that much of the acceptance of climate science is associated with someone’s political beliefs and ideology, not because they understand the evidence that is available.

    Are you really suggesting that thousands of scientists from all over the world are getting the results they are because of the political ideology? If so, rubbish!

  430. Rachel M says:

    Tuppence, those who reject the science are exclusively from the far right whereas those who accept climate science come from the entire political spectrum. So if you’re suggesting that people who reject climate science are doing so because of their political beliefs and ideology then you’re probably right.

  431. jsam says:

    Those who deny because of their politics have to believe that those who accept are equally political. Or they would look foolish even to themselves. And denial will not survive that level of self-awareness.

  432. Tuppence says:

    Addendum : Just to be clear, the term climate change denier refers to those who deny the anthropogenic influence on our climate, and does not refer to anything else.

    The term “denier” has always been, and remains, a devious strawman, calculated to deliberately miscategorize those who question the integrity and alleged certainty of vested-interest government-funded climate science, as being no different to the handful of people who apparently deny the greenhouse effect.

  433. jsam says:

    Dictionaries are harsh task masters.
    http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/denialist

    “the small minority of very vocal climate change denialists”

  434. Tuppence,
    When I tell what I mean when I use a term, that’s what I mean. I doesn’t mean what you think I mean; it means precisely what I say it means. I fail to see how it is possible to have discussions with those who feel that they can redefine what someone means when they use a term that they’ve defined.

  435. Tuppence says:

    The simple facts are thatsem most
    – government is the funder of of climate science
    – government has an obvious and huge vested interest in alarmism
    It’s just common sense therefore that government will fund those scientists and projects that seem most likely to advance its interests. You don’t need to postulate a conspiracy to explain an organisation acting in its own interest – indeed you’d need one to explain it NOT acting in its own intererest (which in this case would mean doing honest climate science rather than plugging alarmism).

  436. Tuppence,

    It’s just common sense therefore that government will fund those scientists and projects that seem most likely to advance its interests. You don’t need to postulate a conspiracy to explain an organisation acting in its own interest – indeed you’d need one to explain it NOT acting in its own intererest (which in this case would mean doing honest climate science rather than plugging alarmism).

    Just because you say it’s not a conspiracy theory, doesn’t mean that it isn’t. This is complete nonsense. You clearly do not have a clue how research actually works. Seriously, start saying something sensible, or go away. I have little patience for these type of discussions.

  437. jsam says:

    Government is also the funder of rocket science. And oncology. And most science.

    The government’s best interest is to ignore climate science, if all they want is a peaceful life. I’ve never understood the “government wants climate science so it can control” logic. I dare say you don’t either.

    But I’m pleased to see you are honest enough to admit to being a conspiracy theorist. That’s a refreshing change.

  438. Tuppence says:

    aTTP,
    Are you seriously asking us to believe that you wrote a column about the handful of people who deny the greenhouse effect? With no intent to conflate them with skeptics who (post Climategate) question the integrity of government climate science?
    If so, you must be a one-of-kind alarmist.

  439. jsam says:

    If you’re still citing a five year old manufactured non-controversy where you lost nine investigations you are in denial.

  440. Tuppence says:

    Yes, government also funds eg rocket science.
    The crucial difference is that government has no vested interest in any particular findings of that field.

  441. Tuppence,

    Are you seriously asking us to believe that you wrote a column about the handful of people who deny the greenhouse effect? With no intent to conflate them with skeptics who (post Climategate) question the integrity of government climate science?

    I’m asking you to believe that when I use the term climate change denier I’m referring to those who deny that anthropogenic factors are playing a major role in driving climate change today (as I defined it). If I was describing those who question the integrity of government climate science, I’d use something much ruder.

  442. Rachel M says:

    Tuppence,

    – government has an obvious and huge vested interest in alarmism

    Nonsense. Is this the same as the vested interest that fossil fuel companies and their investors have in denying climate change or denying that it’s a problem? You have created a mythical vested interest and are failing to see the most obvious vested interest here.

  443. jsam says:

    The government has vested interests in rocket science. They want successful rockets.

    The government has vested interests in cancer research. It wants a healthy population.

    You seem a mite hysterical.

  444. Tuppence says:

    [Mod: This is a science blog and we expect evidence-based comments rather than “Skeptic” blog parroting so I’m bringing a stop to it now.]

  445. Michael 2 says:

    anoilman says: “I can therefore conclude that I can expect no logic from you because check book trumps all logic for you guys.”

    Non-sequitur. Logic is a process — “if A then B” and it doesn’t care what is “A” and the process is asserted, not cosmic in any particular sense.

    A particular implementation of data and process is an assertion; and I may disagree with either the data or the process, but the possible domain of disagreement is constrained in “logic”.

    Your logic appears to be “If CO2 then Catastrophic Global Warming”. It’s just an assertion. “Logic” governs what can be done with this assertion; for instance even if I accept the assertion, the converse might not be true — “Not CO2 could still result in Catastrophic Global Warming” in the case that more than one cause of CGW exists. You would have to assert an exclusive principle that only CO2 can lead to CGW, in that case then yes, you can say not CO2 is also not CGW.

    So a person can be “logical” and incorrect or wrong. GIGO. A person can be correct and illogical although I wouldn’t count on it regularly happening — she might assert “Eating ice cream leads to global warming” and on displaying consumption statistics of ice cream, confirm correlation with global warming. It is “logical” and difficult to refute.

  446. Pingback: Pragmatic climate policy | …and Then There's Physics

  447. toby52 says:

    Tuppence

    The indisputable and massive point overlooked / ducked here, is that it’s overhelmingly clear that much of the rejection of climate science is associated with someone’s political beliefs and ideology, not because they understand the evidence that is available.

    The association of climate change denial with Anglo-Saxon “free-market” ideologues, the vast majority from the US, UK and Australia, is a bit obvious, don’t you think?

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