Matt Ridley has a quite remarkable article in the Times called My life as a Lukewarmer (extensive exerts here). I’ve written about Lukewarmers before, but I had not realised – until I read Matt Ridley’s article – how difficult things must be for such people. It does seem as though being a Lukewarmer is a tough and arduous path.
Matt Ridley’s article starts with
All the fury must mean that my arguments are hitting home, or efforts would be made to demolish them rather me.
What? I thought he was a science journalist, not a scientist. Normally science journalists talk to scientists and then write articles that present our current understanding of a topic; they don’t really have ideas of their own. I guess they can develop their own interpretations, but that’s normally what’s done for editorials, not for people who are writing about science. If Matt Ridley thinks science journalism is about developing your own ideas about science, then I think he’s doing it wrong.
Matt Ridley goes on to say
I think recent global warming is real, mostly man-made and will continue but I no longer think it is likely to be dangerous and I think its slow and erratic progress so far is what we should expect in the future.
Well, this might start to explain some of the problems Matt Ridley is having. He’s perfectly entitled to believe that warming in the future will continue to be slow, and that global warming will not be dangerous. One might even argue that this is technically consistent with the evidence, since the evidence doesn’t rule out that climate sensitivity will be low. The problem is, though, that the evidence does not suggest that it is likely that climate sensitivity will be low enough that warming will continue to be slow if we choose to follow a high (or even moderate) emission pathway.
So, just because Matt Ridley’s view is not inconsistent with the evidence, doesn’t mean that his view is a fair representation of the evidence. I’ve seen a number of people argue that because their view is consistent with the evidence, that their view is somehow correct. What this often ignores is that the evidence actually suggests that they are more likely to be wrong than right.
Matt Ridley then points out
My middle-of-the-road position is considered not just wrong, but disgraceful, shameful, verging on scandalous. I am subjected to torrents of online abuse for holding it, very little of it from sceptics.
To be fair, much of the online debate can be abusive and unpleasant. I don’t really have a problem with people not being happy with that; I’m not. On the other hand, Matt Ridley’s blocked me on Twitter and I don’t remember being abusive. I’ve certainly been critical of what Matt Ridley has said, but I don’t think I’ve said anything that would be regarded as particularly extreme. Of course, I’ve blocked plenty of people, so I can’t really bring myself to criticise others who do the same (unlike Andrew Montford, who seemed to criticise my blocking people without acknowledging that he’d blocked me).
To be honest, I’m halfway through what I was going to say and can’t really be bothered going much further. Matt Ridley’s article just continues in the fairly standard pseudo-skeptic way: the “pause”, models, past exaggerations (some of which appear to be serious problems that we chose to solve, rather than problems that were exaggerated), the hockey stick, climategate.
I know Matt Ridley won’t want any advice from me, but here goes anyway. If he is serious about how he is treated because of his views with respect to global warming, what he should really do is go and talk to as many scientists as possible; not just those few who say things consistent with the Lukewarmer position. Choose scientists who aren’t high-profile and who he hasn’t encountered before. Ask questions and actually listen to their responses. If he did this and did it properly, he might discover that the reason people respond to his views as they do is not really because they don’t like what he is saying, but because they’re tired of him continuing to present views that are largely wrong.
Of course, he could just be using his Times column to tone troll those who disagree with what he says; another example of professional ClimateballTM.