No more flying?

I was wondering what people thought of the suggestion that climate scientists could make a difference by not flying. It’s from a paper by Corinne le Quere which starts with

As experts in a field that is of profound importance to the wellbeing of future societies and ecosystems, it matters what climate scientists say and do.

To be honest, I’m in two minds about this whole idea. That we should consider reducing flying and using alternative ways of travelling, or alternative ways of holding meetings, seems quite sensible. Of course, there will be some occasions where it isn’t possible to find an alternative way of travelling, or where a face-to-face meeting would be much more effective than some kind of conference call. However, I’m not sure about the whole idea that climate scientists should be setting some kind of example.

To be clear, I’m all for climate scientists speaking out more, and if some decide that they should fly less, or should change their behaviour because of what their research is suggesting, that’s absolutely fine with me. I’m just not convinced that it’s really their place to set an example, or that they should feel obliged to do so. There’s also the problem that some argue that scientists who advocate are losing their objectivity and hence can no longer be trusted. So, any kind of collective action could be used against them. Admittedly, this may be something that is mainly found in the online climate debate, so may have no actual wider infuence.

On the other hand, this is – IMO – a serious issue, and if what climate scientists choose to do publicly could have some positive impact, then it may well be worth considering. I can certainly see that people might respond positively if they became aware of such endeavours. However, I do still worry that we’re expecting an awful lot from those who are really just the messengers, not the decision makers. What might be better is if we aimed to make these kind of changes more generally, rather than just in climate science.

I really don’t, however, have particularly strong views about this, so would be interested in what others think. I’m quite pleased to see some climate scientists speak out, I’m just not convinced that we should be expecting climate scientists specifically to publicly change their behaviour. This is a global, societal issue and we should all be considering how we can help to both highlight the issues and reduce our emissions. We shouldn’t be leaving it only to climate scientists, simply because their research is most closely related to the topic. It’s not that hard for the rest of us to understand the significance.

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134 Responses to No more flying?

  1. angech2014 says:

    ?
    Flying is essential if available and affordable.
    For everyone.
    Same as using any other form of energy really.
    Major use of fossil fuel and eventually non fossil fuel will always be in moving people and materials around.
    Problem is more the exponential increase in human population though this is in part driven by the exponential increase in availability of fuel.
    We can all fly less, drive less, use less fuel or have less kids.
    Trouble is all these activities are fun.
    Let the Climate Scientists fly like everyone else, the argument that they should set an example is specious.
    If it is right to use less resources we should all be doing it.
    Not one specific group.

  2. This was going to be my next post :), let’s see if it still needs to be written.

    If climate scientists fly the mitigation sceptics will call them hypocrites.
    If climate scientists do not fly the mitigation sceptics will call them activists.
    As always, the best advice is to ignore what the unreasonable will say.

    The main problem with calls to reduce your personal environmental impact, especially when it comes to global environmental problems, is that you cannot solve the problem by yourself. If your impact is less, the others will simply compensate. If you use less oil, the price for others will be a little less and they will use a little more. It may also simply take longer until the problem is seen as sufficiently serious and people start to seriously debate solutions.

    In the end the solution to global environmental problems will come from social changes. Where the incentives change and people automatically make other choices because that is then the best choice.

    If people chose to reduce their environmental impact that is great. Some people living like that may also make the transition easier by showing that the behaviour is possible and that you can live a happy live. In practice the behaviour will be even easier once the incentives have changed. Maybe it is now hard to live without a car where you live, but once the incentives change and may more people use public transport and bikes, also the quality of public transport will increase and more biking lanes will be build, your office may get showers and the dress code may change. Society needs to change. Being a vegetarian in The Netherlands was easy, lots of vegetarian options in any restaurant, bar and super market, in Germany it is a lot harder. Society needs to change.

    In a recent TEDx video George Marshall talks about personal responsibility. I do not agree with him, but he sure can tell it well. Acting like you would have to chance your behaviour when you accept that climate change is real, may also be reason why people prefer to say that they do not believe in climate change over being see as a hypocrite, which is nonsense in my view.

  3. angech,

    Flying is essential if available and affordable.

    Except that if you can hold a meeting remotely and both save money and reduce emissions without hampering the goals of the meeting, why not?

    Let the Climate Scientists fly like everyone else, the argument that they should set an example is specious.
    If it is right to use less resources we should all be doing it.
    Not one specific group.

    Yes, this is broadly my position.

  4. Off to the EGU tomorrow. Ferry to Danmark, then train to Wien via Berlin. I’m taking a day out of travelling in Berlin, otherwise I could leave later. I like trains, I don’t like planes. I’ll go overland/water when I can (and often not travel when I cannot). It helps that the Bergensbane is so beautiful with fjords, mountains and glaciers. But travelling by train from Bergen to Wien is at the extreme limit of what is practical.

  5. Mike Pollard says:

    I fail to see any benefit in scientists refusing to fly. If Michael Mann announced that he was going to dramatically reduce his carbon footprint, would that result in a dramatic upwelling of public interest? Such information would probably last one news cycle. On the other hand I believe if a prominent pseudoskeptic like Monckton or Watts or Inhofe etc suddenly did an about face of their denial, that might make significantly more deniers rethink their position. Yes, they would be pilloried by the diehards but the blogosphere would run hot for more than just one post.

  6. anoilman says:

    I find the whole notion that individuals must behave differently from society somewhat repulsive. Its often directed as an attack on people complaining about how our society behaves. After you do what they ask, pundits will naturally claim, “Your opinion doesn’t matter, you’re not one of us.”

    Which brings us back to the purpose of conferences. They are not put on so we can sit in an auditorium and listen to a talk. There’s all the things that may be going on, and other things there that you may see and do. You might meet someone new, or hear about something. (At industry conferences, I’ll learn of new products.)

    You can also learn a lot from coffee talk. Perhaps Macquarie University could have saved themselves the trouble of hiring Murray Salby. Who knows.

    As an engineer on the job, the first thing I do when dealing with disparate groups of engineers is get together and have a face to face. It sifts through so much confusion so fast. Email sucks, go talk to the guy. Doors open quickly, and you get better results.

    In any case do expect to see an uptick in telepresence;
    http://blog.sfgate.com/techchron/2013/01/31/an-ipad-telepresence-robot-creates-a-virtual-you/

  7. Bobby says:

    Feels a little like “Al Gore is fat and lives in a big house, therefore…” Surely, we do what we can because we care, but it’s not a prerequisite to being credible on the truth (which is not what you’re arguing, I know, but is what some believe regardless). Ironically this is true for precisely the reason that is in VV’s video. We can live with dissonance as human beings.

  8. Yvan Dutil says:

    The American astronomical society raised the same issue a few years ago. The largest component of the environmental footprint of astronomy was flying. Today, people fly much less to observe due to the queue scheduling.

    Still, going to scientific conference are an important part of the job. However, I see more often skype participation. Maybe this will be a common occurrence in the future.

  9. TAG says:

    Telepresence is available and affordable for universities. Video conferencing services are available for free or affordably on the Internet. I work from home from a remote lake and have weekly conferences with colleagues in Europe and the US.

    IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) is the body that creates the standards for the Internet. The bulk of its activity is conducted on mailing lists. Extremely complicated technical issues are addressed and resolved through on line discussion. They do hold face to face meetings. One thing they do is to hold meetings in off seasons so that the delegates will actually go to the sessions and not to the beach etc. Perhaps climate scientists could resolve to hold their meetings in Winnipeg in December and Phoenix in teh summer to demonstrate that their conferences aren’t just trips to nice places.

  10. mwgrant says:

    To me these issues are unnecessary parsing and distractions.

  11. Rob Painting says:

    It’s hard to convince society that there’s a huge problem when the experts behave like there isn’t. Of course all these small measures will achieve next to nothing unless there is a dramatic worldwide change in the way we do things, but maybe perceptions do count?

  12. T-rev says:

    >I was wondering what people thought of the suggestion that climate scientists could make a difference by not flying.

    Approach the question from the other end. Does what I do mean more emissions If the answer is yes, then don’t do it. Not “whats the quickest way to attend this meeting/conference, or the most efficient way of solving the problem is flying to meet someone …

    The only way to lower emissions is to emit less. The argument against that by people who want lower emissions 🙂 is one person can’t make a difference. No one should vote then ? I say bullshit 🙂 Causal Inefficacy..

    http://jamesgarveyactually.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/why-go-green-rip-talk-2010-edit.pdf

    That’s also the same argument my country (Australia) makes in a global context, our emissions are only a small part and are inconsequential.

    A question ? do you think if all those who understood or accepted (I am in the latter), reduced emissions to 2t per person per annum, engaged their friends and peers as to why and only voted for politicians who had effective mitigation policies it would make a difference ? Of course it would and yet hardly any do, most blame others (business or Government) for thier own profligate emisissions.

    An analogy ? Owning slaves and being against slavery. That’s where we are at currently. Until we say not owing slaves is (not emitting) is the only acceptable solution, then we’re never going to move forward., Currently we’re stuck with rhetoric (pages of documents on how we must reduce emisisons before it’s too late), political theatre (selling your ownership in fossil fuel business to another) and couchtavism.

    We haven’t yet come to grips with the changes necessary to ensure we stay under 2C and achieving that goal is effectively impossible if people keep flying.

    A post on the what each person can emit ? (Lord Stern made mention of “equity”) corrected for population growth as the years roll on (lower emissons p.p each year)

    Here’s where we are at now (bottom of post)
    http://kevinanderson.info/blog/focus-on-china-underplays-the-urgent-need-for-the-us-eu-to-lead-on-2oc-mitigation/

  13. T-rev says:

    @Victor Venema
    >If climate scientists fly the mitigation sceptics will call them hypocrites.

    It doesn’t really matter what deniers say, they’re never going to change thier mind, that’s the very definition of denier. They’re not sceptical.

    The only thing of importance in mitigation is lowering emisisons. Flying doesn’t.

  14. terryc says:

    There’s no reason why climate scientists, qua climate scientists, should restrict their use of fossil fuels. They are no different from anyone else, really. On the other hand, a person’s behaviour is a strong indicator of their attitudes and beliefs. So, anyone who professes that CO2 emissions are a serious problem is going to potentially suffer some serious cognitive dissonance if they also fly a lot.
    Look to your mental health, climate scientists!

  15. Swim instead. Bring up some of the patch with you:

  16. anoilman says:

    terryc: Ummmm… yeah. Not quite.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/about-wuwt/about2/

  17. Rachel M says:

    I do think that setting a good example is a powerful influence. Every parent will understand this. Jetting off for a skiing holiday does look bad and rightly so. But there are some trips that can’t be avoided. For instance, I’m friends with a glaciologist and he is going on a trip to Greenland for work. I don’t see how flying in this case can really be avoided since going out in the field to measure and observe is such an important part of the job. And it would be unfair to make him go by boat, assuming this is even an option, given how much longer it will take him away from his family.

    However I think there’s a more compelling argument for eating less meat. Livestock produces more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transport sector, including planes. I don’t expect every climate scientist to become vegan overnight but eating meat for the sole reason that you like the taste is a rather poor excuse. I understand that it can be tricky in places like Germany, as Victor points out, but in all English-speaking countries, it’s very easy to eat plant-based foods everyday of the week. And I imagine that even in Germany, it’s possible to eat plant-based foods if you cook at home. Presumably the supermarkets in most countries sell things like lentils, beans, and chick peas.

  18. Rachel M says:

    I just watched the George Marshall video and largely agree with him and also with T-rev’s comment. Although having said that, I am flying to Nice at the end of this month for my sister’s wedding. I feel bad about that but it can’t really be avoided. Taking the train would mean I’d have to take more time off work and the kids would have to take more time away from school. But I would never fly to Nice just for a holiday. I’d prefer to holiday in Scotland anyway. I think we all have a responsibility to take care of the planet.

  19. TinyCO2 says:

    As long as ten years ago I attended medical conferences via the internet that had about half the speakers and many more than half the attendees contributing remotely. Despite the unfamliarity with the technology and the slower speeds, nobody found it unsatisfactory. In fact the remote audience found it easier to submit questions than those physically there. The reasoning for the digital engagement was because people’s time was too important to spare travelling and socialising but it worked because people wanted it to. It was also free which meant the important sessions were much more widely viewed that would normally be the case.

    Busy people find ways to do jobs remotely. It might be training someone local to do a specific job or using technology. The will has to be there to find a solution.

  20. Amanda Wreckonwith says:

    I would expect that a climate scientist is in a better position than most of us to make a rational decision on whether to fly or not. I doubt that any serious climate scientist would take a flight without thinking of the implications of that flight. Climate science research is spread out around the planet. I don’t begrudge flights that allow better communication between different groups.

    I personally made the decision not to fly some years ago. My elderly parents and siblings live on the other side of the planet and I will not meet them again. This saddens me but I have to take responsibility for my decision to move so far away. Strangely, I am now in the same position as the early settlers to New Zealand in the 1800’s who also had to accept their separation from loved ones. I am more fortunate that Skype allows me to see and hear them whenever we feel the need.

    My In-laws live at the other end of New Zealand to me and I have to consider the implications of visiting them too – NZ has very poor public transport and that affects carbon emission calculations. It is possible that flying would be preferable than the long drive for 2 people in a ICE car and diesel fuelled ferry crossings. Alternatively, I could combine any visit with an annual holiday and that would possibly change those calculations in favour of ICE transport.

    The main thing is that I am cognisant of the implications of my actions in relation to carbon emission. Flying is a luxury. It is much easier to reduce or eliminate than many other causes of CO2 emission.

  21. andrew adams says:

    The biggest contribution which scientists can make to tackling climate change is to continue to improve our understanding of the climate system and the likely impacts of global warming so that we are better prepared for the future and can make more informed policy decisions. If that means them continuing to fly to conferences then so be it. I know from personal experience in my own line of work that video conferencing is often no substitute for attending in person, because what goes on outside the conference room is just as important as what goes on inside and there is no substitute for talking face to face.

  22. Jamie says:

    Anyone who understands the seriousness of the situation should be taking steps to reduce their impact and climate scientists are no different. Just because others aren’t taking steps to reduce their impact isn’t a reason not to do it yourself. So climate scientists should be teleconferencing where possible, taking alternative transport modes where possible and then flying where it’s unavoidable.

    I think Victor’s point that “some people living like that may also make the transition easier by showing that the behaviour is possible and that you can live a happy live” is very important too. Showing your peers that a low impact life is not only not a burden but can in fact be very liberating is very important. I’ve managed to convert a few friends to the joys of travelling around Europe by train (and thereby exposing the torture that is modern aviation). I’m not pretending it will change the world but we’ve gotta start somewhere.

    The time taken by travelling by train is also not wasted time because it can be extremely productive. The only really significant downside is the cost relative to flying (which would be easily fixed via a decent price on carbon ). But if you’re clever about it and you plan ahead, you can pick up some great deals which mean that it’s not outrageously more expensive than flying.

  23. Jamie says:

    One more thought regarding the activism label: climate scientists don’t need to shout about the fact that they avoid flying where possible; they just need to do it. If someone asks then tell them but don’t feel the need to go around telling everyone.

  24. Jamie,
    Yes, I think that’s a good point. If people believe it is worth doing, they can simply do so without having to advertise that they’re doing so. If enough start doing this, the message will slowly get out and it would seem more honest and genuine than some kind of explicit campaign that might be perceived as a form of self-promotion.

  25. Thomas says:

    I bought an electric car and just love it. I also installed solar panels on the roof of my house which supply the majority of my electric power, even when I drive my car a lot. I figure those two changes cut my contribution to CO2 emissions by at least half. My lifestyle really didn’t suffer at all from the change. My car still gets me around and is fun to drive. All of my electric appliances still work just fine and the electric bill is much smaller, even zero some months.

    It would be nice to go to zero emissions right away, but let’s face it; in our society if you can cut it in half you are doing pretty well. If we could all cut emissions in half right away that would give us the next 20 years to further reduce down to zero and the our climate future would look a whole lot better.

    So, what do I get when I tell “skeptics” about my emission reduction efforts? Do I get cheers for actually acting on my convictions that we need to reduce emissions? Hell no! They criticize me mercilessly being intolerably smug. So there ya go.

  26. Rachel M says:

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a climate scientist choosing not to fly and then making this decision known publicly. It might make the rest of us who choose to fly for frivolous reasons a little uncomfortable but this is probably a good thing.

  27. Jamie says:

    I agree with that Rachel, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with telling people you’ve adopted a pro-environmental behaviour (I certainly can’t expect this kind of action to influence peers if nobody knows it’s being done!) But I guess it’s a question of degree, especially if there’s a perceived risk associated with being labelled negatively as an activist.

    Likewise I quite like the idea of a company building a genuinely strong sustainability ethos into their operations and not shouting about it, simply because that’s what *all* companies should be doing. It should be normal and not something to crow about. The fact that it is still something to crow about simply highlights how far we’ve got to go towards mainstreaming sustainability.

  28. Brandon Gates says:

    Factoid: A Boeing 747 gets 91 passenger miles per US gallon.

  29. @ Rachel M You underestimate the Germans. In many German cities there are a selection of vegetarian (and even vegan) restaurants. At least a dozen in Berlin covering the full everything from burger bars and vegan doner kebab to high, cozy cafes and high end restaurants. There are even vegan supermarkets: great when you struggle to translate the ingredients. Smaller German towns can still be difficult – Bremerhavn springs to mind – but happycow.net is a great resource for finding places hidden on back streets. So I don’t think Germans can use lack of vegetarian options as an excuse.

    Norway, on the other hand, is difficult for vegetarians – a surprising number of waiters think that fish and chicken are vegetables.

  30. Rachel M says:

    Jamie,

    I agree that a company engaging in sustainable business practices should be the norm. It would be nice if it was treated in the same way as a student saying they didn’t cheat in an exam and expecting to be congratulated. We should just expect this as the norm without having to congratulate them. But unfortunately it isn’t standard behaviour and until it is, the more who do it and publicise that they’re doing it, the more likely it will become accepted as mainstream.

    I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with the label activist. I know that some people view and use this word in a negative way but I personally don’t see anything wrong with it. Googles defines it as: “An activist is a person who campaigns for some kind of social change.” If my grandkids ask me in the future whether I was an activist in the movement to encourage action on climate change I will say yes with pride. Indeed I think I would be disappointed in myself if I could not say that.

  31. Rachel M says:

    Richard Telford,

    Thanks! I didn’t know. I’ve only been to Germany once before and that was to the Mathematics Institute in the Black Forest. It was fairly easy to get vegetarian food there. I was just basing my view on what Victor said about it being hard. France is tough for vegans. Everything has cheese in it.

  32. anoilman says:

    Well… There are more ways to reduce your carbon footprint than focusing on flying. I have a low carbon footprint (less than half a typical Canadian), but I do travel. My house is inner city, and right on transit, and a grocery store across the street. We only have one car.

    I really feel that modern architecture and landscaping have ignored the benefits of passive environmental control.

    I’m waiting for some 50 year old spruces in my front yard to die before I put in solar. I’m also planning to replace the spruces with deciduous trees, which provide cooling (shade) in summer, and heat (no shade) in winter.

    I’m wondering if I should start a business building and selling household vents, floor and ceiling. We had those in South Africa, and they did a wonderful job cooling the house in summer. (Close them in winter.) I see so many houses relying on air conditioners to cool them.

    And I am carnivorous, but I decry the monster steaks that are frequently served.

    Rachel: How has New Zealand’s efforts to curb emissions worked out? Is it reducing lamb production?

  33. James P says:

    Thomas
    “They criticize me mercilessly being intolerably smug”
    They might also prefer not to be contributing towards your FIT. Would you have had the solar installation without it..?

  34. Rachel M says:

    Rachel: How has New Zealand’s efforts to curb emissions worked out? Is it reducing lamb production?

    I don’t think New Zealand has done anything to reduce emissions. If lamb numbers have fallen it’s because they’re being replaced by dairy cows.

  35. afeman says:

    If lamb numbers have fallen it’s because they’re being replaced by dairy cows.

    Isn’t that still a considerable improvement? My understanding is that lamb has something close to twice the carbon footprint of cattle. Why would that be?

  36. Mike Pollard says:

    For me the question is simple. If the science doesn’t convince the pseudoskeptics (or even some politicians/governments) to take action, why would a bunch of (climate) scientists deciding not to fly have any effect?

    We have a drought in California that has been going for around 5 years. Its seen as a very serious problem. My wife and I, through various measures, have dropped our water consumption by about 8% in the last year (and we are by no means big water users – we just replaced the only grass on our property with fake grass) while usage in our county (San Diego) rose by 2%. So while well meaning ordinary folks can take measures, they pale when compared to what needs to be done.

  37. Jamie says:

    afeman I hadn’t heard that. I’d always assumed that beef was worse than lamb but a quick google suggests it’s the other way round (although possibly not by as much as a factor of 2). Dammit! I much prefer lamb to beef.

  38. Rachel M says:

    I didn’t know there was a difference between lamb and beef either but it looks like lamb is worse, partly because there’s less meat on the animal to eat. So it generates more emissions per kilogram. According to this site anyway:
    http://www.ewg.org/meateatersguide/a-meat-eaters-guide-to-climate-change-health-what-you-eat-matters/climate-and-environmental-impacts/

  39. Rachel M says:

    Replacing sheep with cows doesn’t seem to have had much of an effect on New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions:

    http://www.mfe.govt.nz/sites/default/files/media/Climate%20Change/ghg-inventory-2014-snapshot.pdf

  40. JCH says:

    I wonder how horses would do there? They’re not ruminants, which is a biggie.

  41. Berlin in not Germany. Like SF is not USA and Wageningen not The Netherlands. And somewhat exaggerated: like Freetown Christiania is not Denmark.

    It used not to be part of Western Germany, thus if you did not want to go into the military, you could go to Berlin and not get drafted. As far as I know “vegan supermarkets” should be “vegan supermarket”, just one and it made the news.

    Also Bremen is not Germany. It is big. 🙂 Bremen is close to Groningen were I was born. Groningen is a region were until recently we still had communist majors. In Oldenburg, a city near Bremen, is the headquarters of the German communist party.

    The German Greens lost the last national elections because they had a “vegetable day” in their election program. The proposal was for one day a week to have one vegetarian option in the canteens of government buildings. That is more the Germany I know.

    When a friend told her aunt that she had become vegetarian, the shocked question in return was whether she would at least still eat sausage. If you are not picky, the university canteens have one vegetarian option, forget vegan. If you thrive on leaves, a salad would be a second option.

    If you cook yourself cooking vegetarian is no problem, you can get all ingredients. But if you want to eat fake vegetarian food, with processed foods that look like standard food, you again have more options in The Netherlands than in Germany. (I would recommend cooking real vegetarian meals yourself, then a vegetarian meal is just as great as any other well cooked meal; the fake vegetarian stuff is more like a bad version of a standard meal.) The Netherlands is probably almost as good for vegetarians as the UK, where there was a foundation against the abuse of animals before a foundation against the abuse of children.

  42. Sheep also have a normal life outside in the sun, which like ecological meat produces more methane emissions, than animals standing in stable for most of their terrible lives. For me it is more important that the animals have a good life.

  43. TinyCO2 says: “As long as ten years ago I attended medical conferences via the internet that had about half the speakers and many more than half the attendees contributing remotely. Despite the unfamliarity with the technology and the slower speeds, nobody found it unsatisfactory.”

    May I guess that you are a doctor and not a medical researcher? For a user of knowledge following a conference by internet might be fine. For a producer of knowledge I cannot imagine it being more than a complement.

    I would almost say that the talks are the least interesting part of conferences. Especially the talks in my own field of study are not that important and could be replaced by video, email, twitter, blogs and articles.

    The interesting things are the hunches, which you do not talk about (much) in public, and the information you did not know you would need. The informal parts, where you talk about new directions for research, about new projects, the state of your scientific community, that is the most important part for me nowadays. As a young researcher that was maybe still different.

  44. It was interesting that George Marshall did not object (much) to all his own flying for work or for saving the planet, but that flying for a holiday was shocking to him. That fits to the protestant, Calvinist upbringing I have enjoyed. I now live in a more catholic region. I wonder if they would say the reverse. That a trip which you really enjoy and about which you will be talking for the next years is more important than some business trip, with people you could have skyped with. I guess it is best for everyone to set their own priorities and simply change the incentives. Making holiday in Scotland is great, others would travel far and wide to do so. To my shame I have to say that I still did not visit the beautiful Eifel just West of me much yet.

  45. John Mashey says:

    From past experiences, even with current tech, remote interactions often work better if people have met in person sometime, and some kinds of meetings are really pretty hard without in-person contact. Other kinds work fine remotely.

    But consider how far this reasoning might go:
    1) Climate scientists should not fly and should never meet in person if flying required.
    2) But anyone who works for a fossil energy company can fly as much as they want to.

  46. John Mashey puts his finger on it. We all exist in this society together.

    It might be true of climate scientists, I don’t know, but certainly in many walks of life the person who refuses to fly would put themselves at a severe disadvantage competitively against his peers. The only way to have a level playing field is for the same constraints to apply to everyone, then no one is disadvantaged by being environmentally aware.

    I gave up flying for pleasure (holidays) about ten years ago. I have flown since then but only when I’ve been asked to by a client and know that If I said ‘no’ it would just mean they hired someone else to go in my place. In other words, if the seat is going to be occupied by someone doing my job, then it might as well be me. What needs to change is that the client no longer asks someone to do that particular job in the first place. That is a culture change.

  47. Rachel M says:

    … flying for work or for saving the planet, but that flying for a holiday was shocking to him. That fits to the protestant, Calvinist upbringing I have enjoyed.

    I’m a bit under the weather today but what does religion have to do with it? I don’t understand. I had a secular upbringing (both my parents are atheist) but I think there’s a difference between flying for work and flying for a holiday. One is arguably necessary from time to time while the other is frivolous and not really necessary.

  48. Rachel M says:

    The George Marshall movie I watched with distractions so it’s fair to say I wasn’t completely focussed on all of it. But I thought his first point was a good one.

    Do you think there’s a difference between a marine ecologist ordering toothfish for dinner and John Doe ordering toothfish for dinner? I’d love it if every John Doe on the planet understood their actions have consequences but it’s hard to know absolutely everything. The marine ecologist does know and ought to know better. We should expect them to avoid eating toothfish because if we don’t expect it from them, then how can we expect it from anyone else.

  49. John Mashey says:

    People might want to read Steve Schneider’s :”Science as a Contact Support” in particular about the *intense* face-to-face sessions in which SPM wording was hammered out between scientists and government representatives, including from Saudi Arabia, Russia, etc.

    Do people think that American climate scientists (like Steve, or Ben Santer earlier) were wrong to fly to such meetings, and should have just left it to the others?

  50. anoilman says:

    I work in oil.. and I love my work. That doesn’t mean I can’t think clearly about the issues involved. We had some deniers here claim that it was wrong for me to speak out against fossil fuels since I derive my income from it.
    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/talk-politics-not-science/#comment-40452
    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/talk-politics-not-science/#comment-40459

    Given that they work for the industry and claim its wrong to think outside my paycheck, it implies an awful lot about them and their thinking;
    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/talk-politics-not-science/#comment-40407

  51. John Mashey says:

    See Gavin Schmidt’s Relfections on Ringberg, for an example of the sort of workshop that is hard to do virtually, with comments to that effect at the end.
    (I once attended a similar-sized workshop in Berchtesgaden, not far from Ringsberg…
    My first reaction to Ringsberg was “too beautiful to be anything but boondoggle” but then I saw the blackboard picture Gavin tweeted, and it was clear real work was happening :-))

  52. John,
    Yes, I read that. I went to a conference in Ringberg about 10 years ago. Lovely place and a great venue for a meeting. Almost didn’t get back home for Christmas though, as my flight into Denver back to LA was late and apparently there was all sorts of chaos. Fortunately my flight out of Denver was delayed and happened to be at a gate almost next to the gate we came into, so just managed to avoid spending Christmas in Denver.

  53. TinyCO2 says:

    Victor Venema “May I guess that you are a doctor and not a medical researcher? For a user of knowledge following a conference by internet might be fine. For a producer of knowledge I cannot imagine it being more than a complement.”

    Actually neither my engagement was for another reason, but you’re right, I didn’t need to be there to physically do things or communicate one to one. However, if AGW is a major problem then people will have to completely rethink how we interact with each other as well as do our jobs. Communicating one to one might be easiest in person but reducing CO2 is all about doing things slower and less effectively than with fossil fuels. There may need to be more people doing the same job, because you can’t afford to ship people from A to B and back again. People may have to go live where the work is, rather than commute to it from time to time. eg maybe the only researchers in the Antarctic should be resident in Australia or New Zealand or Chile (I’ll accept that living permanently in the Antartic would be detrimental)? Maybe the only researchers in the Arctic should be from Cananda or Russia?

    You can’t see how the job of a climate scientist can be done with reduced flying? What makes you think businesses feel any different about how they do their jobs?

  54. Tiny,
    I think the point that you seem to be unwilling to acknowledge is that we currently live in a world where most of our energy is produced via fossil fuels. Expecting one group to somehow significantly reduce their emissions in such a system simply because they happen to be those who have established that climate change carries some risks, is essentially asking them to decouple from our societies. That – to me – is entirely unreasonable. I’m not against individuals choosing to minimise their emissions (I try to do so myself) but expecting them to do so without suitable alternatives is what I think is fundamentally wrong. These risks do not exist simply because people are pointing them out. They esxist whether or not people are pointing them out.

    What makes you think businesses feel any different about how they do their jobs?

    This has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not climate change carries risks.

  55. Rachel M says:

    Maybe we’ll be able to fly on whiskey fuel in the future:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-31624112

    anoilman,
    I think it’s good that you work in the industry *and* speak out against it. Diversity in the workplace is a good thing and fossil fuel companies in particular need someone inside asking difficult questions.

  56. TinyCO2 says:

    ATTP but what some sceptics have tried to tell you is that at the moment and as far as we can see into the future, there is no serious alternative to fossil fuels. Even your mate Tobis agrees. Life would have to change beyond recognition to reduce CO2, even with significant nuclear involvement. You can’t pin your hopes on a magic technical solution. Governments can sign all the bits of paper they like but the bottom line is people (you, me, Victor, Exxon, the Koch brothers, Boots the chemist or Green Peace) cannot fulfill the promises made on our current path. Redutions so far have been largely cosmetic. They can’t be built upon nor rolled out globally.

    “This has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not climate change carries risks.” I agree totally, but it has a lot to do with how much or how little you truly believe in those risks. If you genuinely believe in a problem then eventually you have to be honest about what can and can’t be done about it. If you conclude that the solution is very painful, you have to decide if you’re prepared for the pain. I don’t think many people are remotely ready. They blame sceptics and oil companies and anyone for a lack of progress, rather than admit ‘actually, it’s me’.

    Where does cutting CO2 start? Somebody has to be first and it won’t be those who don’t believe. Governments in the west can’t mandate it. A political party will always come along and offer an easy ride and the electorate will take it. Listen to the political promises now – ‘we’ll end austerity’, ‘we’ll bring back jobs’, ‘we’ll put more money in your pocket’, ‘we’ll freeze energy prices’. They’re not the language of reducing CO2. They’re the promises of consumption. Do YOU think that any of the current politicians understand cutting CO2?

    If not you guys, then who will start the ball rolling? What are you waiting for? How do you see CO2 revolution starting?

  57. Tiny,

    what some sceptics have tried to tell you is that at the moment and as far as we can see into the future, there is no serious alternative to fossil fuels. Even your mate Tobis agrees.

    Fine, so what? That doesn’t change that allowing our emissions to continue increasing carries risks.

    Somebody has to be first and it won’t be those who don’t believe.

    Yes, I’m pretty sure it won’t. It still doesn’t change that continuing to increase our emissions carries risks and those that are at risk may not be those who do the emitting.

    If not you guys, then who will start the ball rolling?

    I don’t know. That I’m willing to tell you something of a possible risk associated with continuing to increase our emissions doesn’t mean that I’m responsible for getting the ball rolling when it comes to actual emission reduction.

    What are you waiting for?

    Some alternative? I live in the real world. I do try to minimise my emissions, but I’m not planning on living in a cave just because others have decided to ignore the possible risks.

    How do you see CO2 revolution starting?

    I’ve no real idea. I’m a physicist. I think I understand something of how we will respond to increasing anthropogenic forcings and how this might impact our planet. I don’t know how to solve the problem, or even if we should do so (well, I think we should, but that’s me as a citizen speaking, not me as a physicist).

    Again, I’ll repeat my point. If a group of scientists present evidence of a possible risk associated with something that we might choose to do, it’s not their fault if we ignore their advice, and it’s not their job to find a solution. This does not seem particularly complicated. I suspect it’s because you’re one of those who think that AGW is faith-based. Even if you do, try to consider the possibility that those who are presenting the evidence are doing so because they’ve been convinced by the actual evidence, not because they’ve simply developed some kind of faith in the AGW mantra.

    I’m not writing this blog because I think we should live in a world without fossil fuels. I like the world we live in. It’s very comfortable. I’m writing this blog because I think much of the science associated with AGW is poorly understood, poorly presented, and I’m tired of reading other blogs where people present views that are completely incorrect. I think that if we could clear up some of the confusion, and reduce the amount of mis-information, we could make more informed decisions. Those decisions are not, however, mine to make (other than as someone who has the right to hold and express views and has the right to participate in our democracy).

  58. TinyCO2 says:

    So if everyone thinks the way you do, what does the science matter other than as an academic exercise? Everybody carries on as normal waiting for an alternative to fossil fuels. If it doesn’t turn up and the consensus is right then we burn and if the consensus is wrong but the technology arrives, we use it any way.

    Or people could radically change how they do things. Would that mean living in a cave? No, but it would need a lot more commitment than I see here, or anywhere else for that matter.

    Now I would agree that there’s a lot of misinformation about the science… on both sides. I’d also say that much of it is due to genuine confusion and/or good intentions. Both sides reacts badly to each other which muddies the water. Does it matter? Seems not. We’re all just waiting.

  59. Tiny,

    So if everyone thinks the way you do, what does the science matter other than as an academic exercise?

    I think you misunderstand the way I think. I think we should be doing something. However this is a global issue and this is a societal issue. I have no problem with individuals doing what they can. I do. However, the resposibility does not lie with me or with anyone who happens to be presenting the evidence that increasing our emissions carries risks. The responsibility ultimately lies with us collectively and, through us, with our policy makers. If we don’t do enough, and if the risks are severe, it’s not going to be my fault, the fault of climate scientists, or even the fault of those who deny the risks. The fault will lie with those who had the power to make decisions and didn’t (our policy makers) and with us – collectively – for electing them.

    I’d also say that much of it is due to genuine confusion and/or good intentions.

    I wish I could say the same. Having spent some time on some skeptic blogs, I find it hard to regard some of those I’ve encountered as having good intentions.

  60. Tiny,
    Here’s a question for you. What’s your view of scientists who advocate? Are you with those who think it indicates a lack of objectivity and that it means one should distrust their science, or do you think that scientists who have evidence of some risk should be speaking out?

  61. TinyCO2 says:

    “However this is a global issue and this is a societal issue.”
    But society is made up of people. Unless people make individual choices it doesn’t happen. Governments can only make rules that a) are possible and b) people agree with. What will make people agree other than the science? If not even the convinced will act unilaterally, what chance is there of getting at least 50% to agree to act multilaterally? What is the minimum number of people needed to follow you for you to agree to stop flying? Does there have to be a law for you to give it up? Stopping flying is a long way from living in a cave but it’s a step too far?

    As for good intentions, I could say th same for consensus blogs. Both sides like defending their world view and aren’t particularly nice to the opposition, partly through innate arrogance and partly from previous skirmishes.

  62. Tiny,
    I do think you’re missing my point. I’m not arguing that individuals should not make individual decisions to minimise their emissions. However, given the society in which we live, there is a limit to what impact this can actually have and how realistic this can be.

    Governments can only make rules that a) are possible and b) people agree with.

    Sure, but that’s why I think trying to minimise the mis-information can help governments to make informed decisions that people will understand.

    If not even the convinced will act unilaterally

    I don’t even know what you mean by this.

    What is the minimum number of people needed to follow you for you to agree to stop flying?

    I don’t know what you mean here either.

    Does there have to be a law for you to give it up? Stopping flying is a long way from living in a cave but it’s a step too far?

    Again I don’t think you understand my point. I don’t have a problem with people minimising flying. I don’t fly very much these days myself. However, sometimes I can’t avoid it and still do my job. I don’t even object to climate scientists deciding that they should fly less. My point is very simply that it’s not their responsibility to do so.

    Is this really all just about flying?

    As for good intentions, I could say th same for consensus blogs.

    Sure, but I don’t think you get the same amount of abuse here as I get on Bishop Hill.

  63. TinyCO2 says:

    It’s ok to bring anything you can prove to public attention. You can even explain that you think things could be worse than you have evidence for but you have to be absolutely clear where proof stops and hunch starts. If the press exaggerate then you have to make strenuous attempts to get the truth out. This has not been done. Scientists have been happy to allow the weaker end of the science to get muddled up with the provable facts to the point I’m not sure that anyone knows what is truth and what isn’t. I suspect they’ve felt that society needed a goad to take AGW more seriously. Unfortunately if you promote stuff that ultimately has to change then people don’t trust you when you say ‘this time I know it’s right’.

    A lot of speculation gets to stand under the very skimpy consensus.

  64. TinyCO2 says:

    You want society to act? How many people constitutes a society? How many individual actions make a difference? The whole developed world? Half? The UK?

    I get enough abuse here from some to make it worth staying away. You do get abuse on sceptic web sites but did you make an effort to discuss before you threw punches?

  65. Tiny,

    You want society to act? How many people constitutes a society? How many individual actions make a difference? The whole developed world? Half? The UK?

    I don’t think this is all that complicated. You seem to be playing some kind of semantic game. I mean governments. A carbon tax, for example. If we continue to use fossil fuels without paying for the externalities, then they have an economic advantage.

    I get enough abuse here from some to make it worth staying away.

    Maybe.

    You do get abuse on sceptic web sites but did you make an effort to discuss before you threw punches?

    I’m not entirely sure what punches I’ve thrown. I get the impression that many on skeptic blogs regards criticism as a form of attack. I don’t particularly care, though, to be clear.

  66. Tiny,
    Also, I think you’ve drifted the conversation away from my point. My main point is that it’s not the responsibility of those who are presenting the evidence. It might help if they publicly took some stance, but they shouldn’t be obliged to do so.

  67. TinyCO2 says:

    So ok, you mean governments. Governments are people. They have internal struggles just like individuals. Some parts worry about money, some about health, some about the neighbours… and right at the bottom is climate change because it’s not a pressing issue and they don’t really understand it. They delegate, give it an arbitrary budget and forget about it. Like most people they hope/assume a magic solution will come along. How does a government make a tougher decision than it’s voters want to be subjected to? Remember the poll tax?

  68. Tiny,

    How does a government make a tougher decision than it’s voters want to be subjected to?

    I don’t know and it’s not my job to do so (thankfully). I’m not sure this really refutes my point and is also one reason why I think being more reliably informed would help them make informed, and less contentious, decisions.

    Remember the poll tax?

    Not really, but I heard about it.

  69. TinyCO2 says:

    Should a campaigner against tax evasion evade tax? Should a promoter of family values sleep around? Should a researcher not learn from their own work if they want others to take note of it?

    I don’t expect scientists to cut their CO2 if their work doesn’t spur them on to do so, but if it doesn’t work for them, they should not expect others to exceed their commitment. Governments are made up of people who will be even less motivated than the scientists.

  70. graemeu says:

    ATTP I don’t think your underlying premise that those who have identified a problem have no responsibility to correct or mitigate it, is correct. However, it makes little difference if a climate scientist gets on a scheduled flight, as the extra fuel required is negligible. What would make a difference is if a meeting of individuals (from any sector) was organised in such a place and such a way that an airline put on an extra flight(s). But then flying is often a far more cost effective ($$) way of getting people from one place to another.
    Anyone who thinks AGW is a threat should evaluate all their consumption (what they eat, drink, where they live, what they drive, what temperature the thermostat is at, whether they actually need to make a journey and if there are affordable, alternative ways to achieve their goals that use less fossil fuel. We should all be evaluating our carbon footprint and finding ways to reduce it.
    By the way NZ domestic airlines do cancel flights without enough passengers, and ‘code sharing’ is another measure that airlines have used to reduce the number of flights. Proof that the choices of individuals do matter.
    I’ve been to a few conferences (not climate) and find that the main benefit is the meeting and talking to others in my field face to face. There are conversations, group discussions and revelations that just wouldn’t happen on a phone or ‘conference call’, so equally it is unhelpful to suggest that climate scientists should lock themselves in their offices and only interact with others via electronic media.
    What I’m trying to say is that it isn’t black and white, but climate scientists who believe CO2 is an issue do have an obligation to set an example and not be frivolous with their use of fossil fuels including flying. I’m not a climate scientist but like Rachel take what measures I can to reduce my footprint including foregoing some experiences and activities that I can’t justify.

  71. Rachel M says:

    This thread reminds me a bit of interactions I sometimes have with my children.

    Me: Please tidy up the toys in the lounge room.
    Child A starts to tidy up and notices child B is not doing anything
    Child A: Why should I tidy up when B is not doing it?

    Needless to say, I don’t accept this as an excuse. We are not sheep. Our obligation to do or not do something is not dependent on whether others are doing it.

  72. TinyCO2 says:

    “There are conversations, group discussions and revelations that just wouldn’t happen on a phone or ‘conference call’” graemeu.

    That’s how it works now. That’s the most efficient way of using people’s time but it’s not the most efficient use of energy. When people are seriously constrained then you begin to see them make real decisions about what is essential and what is just convenient. People get creative about doing jobs that previously they swore couldn’t be done any other way or alternatively they just drop things as not as important as they used to think. Even whole jobs get eradicated because employers decide that the work isn’t needed after all.

    I worked for such a company. It was sinking under energy costs. It was before green taxes but the effect was much the same. It works like this-

    The first thing is to rationalise. That means that instead of lots of little departments you combine remote departments into much larger blocks. People are dropped because they duplicate work but those left have more to cover.

    The next thing is the loss of non essentials. That might be decorating, canteen, non urgent training, bonuses, social perks, pay rises, conferences, etc. Things that made employees feel valued and let them develop. Phrases like ‘we have to tighten our belts’ are bandied about.

    Then essentials get paired. Things get removed that might ultimately cost the company but in the short term cut the bottom line. Contractors initially increase because employers decide that having a dedicated employee is non essential but the job still needs to be covered. Then they decide that contractors are too expensive so they load the work onto the remaining staff, irrespective if they have time or training for it.

    Employees get very good at juggling. They work out which jobs will get them into deep trouble if they aren’t done and which will just result in mild agravation. Mistakes are made. Some are more expensive than others but everyone knows the company is on the skids. Internal relations become more and more strained and the staff become deeply depressed.

    The company contracts to the most efficient, most lucrative operations. Employees start to embrace redundancy so the pain will stop. Those left are playing a mad game of musical chairs where the chairs remain and the people drop out. Each time they have to lay across more and more chairs.

    And then the pain does stop. The work moves to a country where energy isn’t a problem and the business closes its doors.

    Now on the face of it, that doesn’t affect Universities or places like the Met Office, but how much contraction of the economy has to happen before the money for those things is affected? Can low energy businesses support all the academic jobs we currently have? Is your job an essential or a luxury that might be pared when belts have to be tightened? Will it be moot whether you think that a flight to a conference is essential if someone else decides that your whole job isn’t?

  73. TinyCO2 says:

    Rachel M, does it help if I tell you I haven’t flown since 2007?

  74. Rachel M says:

    That’s terrific, TinyCO2 but help with what? My comment wasn’t directed at you but at those who think climate scientists shouldn’t question their need to fly simply because others are still flying. Although as I said earlier, I think in many cases they have good justification for flying. Like my glaciologist friend who is going to Greenland later this year to study the ice. I don’t think anyone could argue against the need to fly in this instance. But I suppose he could mitigate his impact by making fewer trips and staying for longer.

  75. Tiny,

    Should a campaigner against tax evasion evade tax? Should a promoter of family values sleep around?

    Here’s problem number 1. Researchers are not campaigners. A campaigners who doesn’t behave in a manner consistent with what they’re campaigning for, would be a hypocrite. A doctor who smokes who warns his patients of the dangers of smoking isn’t really a hypocrite, just not very smart.

    Should a researcher not learn from their own work if they want others to take note of it?

    Well, in a sense no. The credibility of their work should depend on the evidence they present, not on how they choose to behave.

    graemeu,

    I don’t think your underlying premise that those who have identified a problem have no responsibility to correct or mitigate it, is correct.

    Hmmm, now you’ve got me thinking. Yes, I kind of agree, but I would argue that their responsibility is in trying to get others to recognise the problem. That’s why I was mentioning in the post that if, collectively, scientists did decide to reduce flying and it had a positive impact, it might be worth doing. My point was more to do with it not formally being their responsibility to change how they behave relative to the rest of society. If people choose to ignore what they’re saying, it’s not really their fault. I think I just find the “you start or else we won’t take you seriously” idea irritating.

    Maybe one of Tiny’s earlier comments illustrates my issue. He seems to have equated scientists to campaigners. IMO, they’re not.

  76. My comment wasn’t directed at you but at those who think climate scientists shouldn’t question their need to fly simply because others are still flying.

    Yes, I think it was aimed at me 🙂

    It’s a fair point, but not quite what I was suggesting. Although, to be fair, I think it’s all got rather convoluted and I think I’ve rather lost track of my point. Mainly I think we (collectively) should be taking it seriously and I think I just object to the idea that those who are vocally pointing out this potentially serious issue will be targetted as being the ones who didn’t do enough. It’s not all that complicated and it’s not as if it hasn’t been highlighted extensively.

  77. Rachel M says:

    I’m not sure that I meant anyone in particular. There have been some comments from various people along the lines of “why should climate scientists give up flying when fossil fuel executives can still fly?” and I just couldn’t help but be reminded of conversations I have with my kids 🙂

    I don’t think it’s fair to target climate scientists in particular though. Just that “everyone else is doing it” is not a particularly good reason to continue doing something.

  78. I don’t think it’s fair to target climate scientists in particular though. Just that “everyone else is doing it” is not a particularly good reason to continue doing something.

    Yes, I agree. That might be my point in a nutshell.

  79. Thomas says:

    James P,

    Yes, I would have. Would oil companies continue to drill wells if they didn’t get tax breaks? Yes, I think they would.
    I also resent that fossil fuels get breaks from the government.

  80. TinyCO2 says:

    A doctor who smokes or takes drugs or is overweight might not alter the truth about those things being bad for you but it does affect their ability to advise others. The reply from the patient would be ‘if it’s so easy, why aren’t you giving those things up?’ It’s likely that both parties will avoid the issue in future, even if they acknowledge the veracity of the science. The doctor can’t even recommend what works, because he or she clearly doesn’t know. Both sides stay fat/drunk/addicted.

    A researcher who publishes their work in a journal is not an activist but once you convey that science beyond academia you are on the activist trail. If you convey what you fear, rather than what you can prove, you are an activist. Society is full of people selling their ideas to other people. For most issues, people are free to ignore them but most supporters of the consensus want everyone else to act on AGW whether they want to or not. That is no longer just science, it’s activism. If you want to be an effective activist, you have to be a credible activist and sorry, that means putting your carbon where your mouth is.

    ATTP, you are an activist. Not because you try to correct sceptics but because you don’t do the same for your own side. Now that applies to sceptics too but the sceptic message is ‘do what you want’, which has a much lower bar for effectiveness. You are an activist because you concentrate on the misinformation of just one science and not science in general. The question is, do you want to be an effective activist?

  81. Rachel M says:

    For most issues, people are free to ignore them but most supporters of the consensus want everyone else to act on AGW whether they want to or not.

    It’s more a case of necessity. We do need everyone to act on AGW. Whether or not climate scientists are acting on it is irrelevant to whether the rest of us need to act. We do. Let’s stop trying to find excuses for ourselves and just do what needs to be done.

  82. Tiny,

    A researcher who publishes their work in a journal is not an activist but once you convey that science beyond academia you are on the activist trail. If you convey what you fear, rather than what you can prove, you are an activist.

    Yes, but this is what I was getting at in the post. You want to have your cake and eat it too. You want to criticise scientists if they don’t actively reduce their emissions because it means they don’t believe that the risks are potentially that severe. If they do actively reduce their emissions, you want to label them an activist. This is one of the fundamental problems with this topic. There doesn’t seem to be a position that people like you won’t criticise.

    ATTP, you are an activist. Not because you try to correct sceptics but because you don’t do the same for your own side.

    Except I do. People who come here and say things that are incorrect, I will criticise. What I think you mean is that I don’t publicly criticise things that you think are wrong. That doesn’t mean they are wrong.

    You are an activist because you concentrate on the misinformation of just one science and not science in general.

    Well, IMO the misinformation from one side far exceeds the other. Bear in mind that I also focus mainly on things I understand, which is physics related. What you probably mean is that I haven’t written something criticising an article claiming that polar bears are at risk. Well, I also haven’t written anything criticising those who claim they aren’t, because it’s not a topic I understand very well. When someone one my “side” writes an article and gets the physics wrong, I’ll criticise them, It doesn’t seem to happen very often.

    The question is, do you want to be an effective activist?

    Remember, I don’t have to accept your label. I don’t have any particularl goals other than trying to present information as carefully and honestly as I can. If you think that’s activism, fine. I’m the only one who gets to decide how I should behave.

  83. TinyCO2 says:

    Me? I really don’t care if the scientists reduce their CO2 or not but I will use their behaviour (and that of other activists) to justify my position. Ta for making it easy. 🙂

    As for correcting sceptics because they get it wrong more often, ask yourself this – if Obama makes a mistake, is it more or less damaging for acting on AGW than if Anthony Watts makes one?

    To your man in the street who knows very little and cares even less about climate science he will probably never read what some blogger writes but if he hears Obama and subsequently learns that what the president said was wrong then he wonders what else Obama said about climate might not be true. If he sees Obama give a speech about reducing CO2 and then fly off for a golf game he might get angry at the do as I say, not as I do attitude. Eventually the man in the street just filters AGW out of their sphere of interest and firmly thinks “I’m the only one who gets to decide how I should behave.”

  84. Tiny,

    I really don’t care if the scientists reduce their CO2 or not but I will use their behaviour (and that of other activists) to justify my position.

    Yes, I know. This is my point. You will use whatever they do to justify your position. If they do nothing, how can you be convinced that it is a serious issue? If they do something, how can they be trusted since they’re now activists? You’re simply setting up a position where you can justify your inactivity under all possible circumstances. Convenient, isn’t it?

    What’s this got to do with Obama? If anything, you seem to be rather making my case. If any group should be setting an example, it’s our policy makers, not their advisors.

  85. Joshua says:

    If Tiny doesn’t start relying only off-the-grid power, it’s clear that he really doesn’t think that climate models are flawed. and if he does start using only off-the-grid power, it’s obvious that he doesn’t think that use of fossil fuels will prevent poor children in Africa from starving.

  86. Joshua says:

    Tiny –

    Please explain the following to Judith Curry….

    A researcher who publishes their work in a journal is not an activist but once you convey that science beyond academia you are on the activist trail. If you convey what you fear, rather than what you can prove, you are an activist. Society is full of people selling their ideas to other people. For most issues, people are free to ignore them but most supporters of the consensus “skeptics” want everyone else to act on AGW a disbelief in the potential of ACO2 emissions to be harmful whether they want to or not. That is no longer just science, it’s activism. If you want to be an effective [“skeptica'”] activist, you have to be a credible [“skeptical”] activist and sorry, that means putting your carbon views on “activism” where your mouth is.

  87. TinyCO2 says:

    ATTP, I don’t single scientists out as those who should act on AGW, I think anyone who wants to convert others should live by their own code. Maybe I’m weird but I try to live up to those things I believe in. At the very least I have experience of how I’ve tried and failed. Failure should also breed humility and understanding of others.

    Why should policy advisors act more ethically than the scientists? They have a poorer grasp on the science and the solutions. Their forte is just telling others to fix problems, not doing it themselves. So they pass the buck to the doers who have looked at what it would take and said ‘that’s next to impossible, are we sure we need to do this?’ At which point they are labelled as deniers.

  88. Joshua says:

    Tiny –

    ==> “I think anyone who wants to convert others should live by their own code.”

    Do you think that an individual changing their habits will affect the trajectory of climate change attributable to ACO2 emissions?

  89. Tiny,

    Why should policy advisors act more ethically than the scientists?

    Why have you introduced the word “ethically”? I’m not arguing that scientists shouldn’t behave ethically. I’m simply suggesting that they shouldn’t be expected to behave in a manner that differs from the norm in our societies simply because they’re highlighting a possible risk associated with our current behaviour.

    Their forte is just telling others to fix problems, not doing it themselves.

    Well, this is true for climate scientists too. They’re simply studying our climate to understand the implications of increasing anthropogenic emissions. They’re not presenting solutions.

    So they pass the buck to the doers who have looked at what it would take and said ‘that’s next to impossible, are we sure we need to do this?’

    Possibly, but that still doesn’t change my point. However easy or difficult it may be doesn’t influence whether or not there is a risk. I also think you have a rather simplistic interpretation of doers etc.

    At which point they are labelled as deniers.

    Hmmm, I think you misunderstand what it takes to be labelled a “denier”.

    Here’s another serious question for you. Why is your handle “TinyCO2”?

  90. TinyCO2 says:

    Judith Curry is an activist. I am an activist. Both Judith and I act in accordance with what we believe – we need more information. We see acting on CO2 and extraordinarily difficult and would require immense evidence to effect. Running around, throwing money at things that don’t work is counter productive.

    I think we should fund coal fired power stations in places like Africa, partly becuase they need the energy and partly because I think that trade aids peace. I firmly believe that prosperity is one of the better forms of protection against weather or climate.

  91. Tiny,

    Both Judith and I act in accordance with what we believe – we need more information.

    Yes, and that’s fine. My point isn’t that climate scientists shouldn’t act on what they believe. My point is that I don’t think they should be expected to do so collectively. They should have the right as individuals to behave in whatever manner that they think is right. They shouldn’t be told “you’re a climate scientist, therefore you must….”.

    You still haven’t answered my question about your handle.

  92. TinyCO2 says:

    TinyCO2 is a joke, based on the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere and my own carbon footprint compared to the US footprint where I first used it. Although the last is something of an overstatement and should be SmallCO2, especially after I moved several years after coining it. Short of solar panels, that I object to on moral grounds, and ground source heating which wouldn’t work in my home, I’ve done most of the energy saving activities that are being asked of us. Even my furniture is largely second hand. None of these things were done to reduce CO2.

  93. Joshua says:

    Tiny –

    ==> “Judith Curry is an activist. I am an activist. Both Judith and I act in accordance with what we believe – we need more information. ”

    That’s interesting. Judith says that she is not an activist. She criticizes scientists for being activists. But you say that she’s an activist.

    That pretty much eliminates here from any criticism, doesn’t it? All she needs to do is disagree with your definition of what comprises activism and you won’t criticize her for being hypocritical.

    Or, perhaps, all she needs to do is identify as a “skeptics” an you won’t criticize her. Sameolsameol.

  94. Joshua says:

    Tiny –

    ==> “I think anyone who wants to convert others should live by their own code.”

    Do you think that an individual changing their habits will affect the trajectory of climate change attributable to ACO2 emissions?

  95. Joshua says:

    ==> “We see acting on CO2 and extraordinarily difficult and would require immense evidence to effect. Running around, throwing money at things that don’t work is counter productive.

    I think we should fund coal fired power stations in places like Africa, partly becuase they need the energy and partly because I think that trade aids peace. I firmly believe that prosperity is one of the better forms of protection against weather or climate.”

    Interesting. So I guess that means that you are fully convinced that increasing the rate of ACO2 emissions will produce more benefits than costs going forward.

    I guess you’re not one of those “skeptics” who thinks that there’s any uncertainty in the science related to climate change.

  96. Joshua says:

    Tiny -.

    Not that you should care, but just an FYI. Sometimes I’ve read where you engage in technical discussions and thought that you seemed to be someone who knows quite a bit about the science of climate change (at least relative to me) and that if you’re so “skeptical” that maybe I should take “skepticism” about AGW more seriously.

    But then I read the poor logic and motivated reasoning and tribalism that you’ve displayed in this thread and think that there’s no particular reason why I should think that you take controlling for the influence of your own biases very seriously. That then leads me to discount your take on the technical issues.

    Like I said, FWIW (not that you should care).

  97. TinyCO2 says:

    Joshua, I think anyone who takes the time to speak up is an activist, whether they accept the label or not. It is a rare person who’s work is totally uninfluenced by their convictions. I’d rather know that those convictions are and then judge their work in that light than just assume that they have no convictions to start with.

    Yes, one person makes a difference, albeit a small one. The trick is to add one, plus one, plus, one… If those who are most convinced never take the first step because they’re waiting for others, then nobody acts.

  98. Rachel M says:

    The few times I’ve engaged with Tinyco2 on a blog it always seems to end up in some kind of competition about who has done more to reduce their CO2 emissions, which, I must say, is a bit irritating.

  99. Tiny,

    I think anyone who takes the time to speak up is an activist

    I broadly agree. It might be nice if it was used pejoratively a bit less often.

    Yes, one person makes a difference, albeit a small one.

    Again, a fair point. My simply point – which I will repeat – is that expecting climate scientists collectively to behave in a certain way is unreasonable.

    Rachel,
    Just rename yourself MinisculeCO2 and you win.

  100. Joshua says:

    Tiny –

    ==> “Yes, one person makes a difference, albeit a small one.”

    Let me modify my question slightly:

    Do you think that an individual changing their habits will measurably affect the trajectory of climate change attributable to ACO2 emissions?

    If so, how do you propose measuring the effect?

  101. Joshua says:

    ==> “I must say, is a bit irritating.”

    It is irritating, I agree. I think it is intended as such.

    It seems to me that for Tiny – it’s mostly about identity-defense and identity-aggression. I prefer engaging with people who are interesting in exchanging views more than identity politics.

  102. Joshua says:

    ==> “Yes, one person makes a difference, albeit a small one. The trick is to add one, plus one, plus, one… If those who are most convinced never take the first step because they’re waiting for others, then nobody acts.”

    That seems a bit simplistic for me. If you know that acting as an individual will have no measurable impact, then figuring out how your individual actions fits within a larger framework becomes difficult. This is a philosophical and practical question that touches on many issues. That the related causalities are complex seems clear to me. Thus, I think people do these issues a disservice when they climb on moral horses and utter platitudes and are sanctimonious and start judging others because they struggle with these issues rather than reinforce their sense of self by being complacent about simplistic solutions.

    Do you know what I mean?

  103. TinyCO2 says:

    Joshua, I stopped having an opinion on the science several years ago. I no longer give much notice to sceptic or consensus revelations. I’m content to wait for the climate to reveal itself. I comment because we are wasting money, time, energy and public confidence on the whole thing. I truly do not know if AGW will be bad or not. I do know that if we are to cut CO2 then we are going about it the wrong way. Sceptics are NOT the enemy, they’re a symptom. Fighting them is dead wrong.

    Like most sceptics I started out trusting the science. Then I started hearing things that I knew were false. There was too much confidence in stuff that was clearly still unknown. I felt hustled. At that point I started listening and reading. The more I read, the more I knew that all was not well with climate science and nobody was calling to police it. That doesn’t make the broad conclusions wrong but it opens the door for inaction. I then looked at the solutions and was even more concerned. There’s too much fluffy thinking and too little cold hard reality. Just the refusal to admit how much energy we need is bewildering.

    The more I observe the AGW bandwagon the more alarmed I get. I can see that the issue is being used to create a whole new way to divide the haves and have nots. It’s riddled with politics and hypocrisy. And eventually I reached the conclusion that it doesn’t matter what AGW is going to do, we won’t get our act together. From time to time I throw rocks in the hopes I might knock some sense into somebody.

  104. Joshua says:

    Tiny –

    I’ll get to the rest after I’ve had some coffee – but for now….

    ==> “From time to time I throw rocks in the hopes I might knock some sense into somebody.”

    Have you had the experience that throwing rocks knocked sense into someone? In other words, do you think that denigrating someone’s morality in blog comments by commenting on whether they reduce their individual carbon footprint has had some positive impact? I mean i can understand venting frustration. But you argued above that the way to make progress on overwhelmingly large issues is by taking the first steps, individually. Does that explain why you’re here?

  105. Tiny,

    Sceptics are NOT the enemy, they’re a symptom.

    Possibly, but this seems to be a bit of a cop out. Either they have the ability to be actually skeptical and should do so, or they’re simply immature and think that they can excuse their behaviour because others are behaving in ways they don’t like.

    Fighting them is dead wrong.

    Possibly, but actually talking to them (with some exceptions) is entirely pointless and often remarkably unpleasant.

    And eventually I reached the conclusion that it doesn’t matter what AGW is going to do, we won’t get our act together.

    On this I think we agree. You shouldn’t assume that I think that addressing AGW is going to be easy or that how we should do so is obvious. None of this changes the potential risks associated with increasing our emissions.

    You actually appear much more informed and thoughtful than I would have guessed. Take this advice with as much of a pinch of salt as you would like, but maybe you should try reading some of what you regard as alarmist a second time. It may not be quite as alarmist as your first reading would indicate.

  106. TinyCO2 says:

    Rachel M, the reason to emphasise the low CO2 is because of the assumpton that to be a sceptic you have to be a humvee driving red neck who burns a few gallons of petrol in the morning just because it’s there and cashes the cheque from the Koch Bros before the smoke clears. I like fossil fuels, I just don’t waste them. I don’t do this to protect my lifestyle. I can afford carbon taxes far better than most. I am not in denial but I’ll happily respond the the label denier if you want me to.

    The question at the top is wrong – it shouldn’t ask if climate scientists should stop flying but ask how they could stop flying. When people start sharing tips on how to reduce energy use rather than nagging each other to get on with it, maybe it might happen.

  107. Tiny,
    How can a question be wrong?

  108. Joshua says:

    ==>.” I comment because we are wasting money, time, energy and public confidence on the whole thing.

    So here I wonder how you know that the money is “wasted,” and I wonder about the reasoning behind that focus. How does the return on the money we spend on that “whole thing” compare to the return on the money we spend on other “whole thing[s],” like, say, invading Iraq?

    ==> ” I truly do not know if AGW will be bad or not. I do know that if we are to cut CO2 then we are going about it the wrong way. Sceptics are NOT the enemy, they’re a symptom. Fighting them is dead wrong.”

    This seems to me like: (1) you are lumping everything that we are “going about” doing to fighting “skeptics” and (2) you are assuming that “fighting ‘skeptics'” is no, necessarily, a part of doing something about the “whole thing.” If “skeptics” oppose doing something about the “whole thing” then how would we do something about it without “fighting ‘skeptics?'” Please know, that isn’t a defense of identity-aggression towards :”skeptics,” which, IMO, is sub-optimal.

    ==> “Like most sceptics I started out trusting the science. Then I started hearing things that I knew were false. There was too much confidence in stuff that was clearly still unknown. I felt hustled. At that point I started listening and reading. The more I read, the more I knew that all was not well with climate science and nobody was calling to police it. That doesn’t make the broad conclusions wrong but it opens the door for inaction. I then looked at the solutions and was even more concerned. There’s too much fluffy thinking and too little cold hard reality.”

    That all seems a bit like a different discussion. I’m not sure how your trajectory towards “skepticism” is relevant.

    ==> “Just the refusal to admit how much energy we need is bewildering.”

    That seems unhelpfully categorical and polemical. There are different ways to approach the question of how much energy is “needed,” and different people have different views on how to meet those needs.

    ==> “The more I observe the AGW bandwagon the more alarmed I get.”

    See above.

    ==> ” I can see that the issue is being used to create a whole new way to divide the haves and have nots.”

    See above.

    ==> “It’s riddled with politics and hypocrisy.”

    See above.

    ==> “And eventually I reached the conclusion that it doesn’t matter what AGW is going to do, we won’t get our act together.”

    I share some of that belief.

  109. Rachel M says:

    … the assumpton that to be a sceptic you have to be a humvee driving red neck …

    I have a bit of sympathy with this. It’s a problem for vegans too. You tell someone you’re a vegan and they immediately think you’re a home-birthing hippie with hairy armpits. If it’s any consolation, I don’t have this assumption of “Skeptics”.

    I think people already do share tips on how to reduce energy usage. There are certainly lots of sites on the web about it. I’d like to see more discussions about policy on climate-related blogs. We seem to get bogged down in discussions about the science when probably it’s time to move onto policy. Most of the solutions required are going to be at the government level rather than with the individual.

  110. TinyCO2 says:

    ATTP “remarkably unpleasant” well of course they are. Enemy camps were formed about a decade ago and a lot of abuse has been thrown by both sides. It doesn’t matter if you were the one that offended, if you engage, you catch the flack for past insults. And this IS the internet. Given the volatility of the issue, it’s a wonder there’s any dialogue at all. Trust me, it’s the same for anyone in the enemy camp 😉

    Just as you sometimes give a snippy comment because you’re frustrated, so does everyone else. You know better than I how hard it is to respond to a blizzard of comments.

    I asked you ‘why don’t you cut your CO2 first?’ I didn’t ask because I thought you should, but because I wanted you to think about why you don’t. You don’t because you don’t want to. You can’t see how you’d do your job or enjoy the things people take for granted without it. You don’t want to suffer compared to everyone else. Join the club! The only difference between you and a sceptic is they asked themselves what might make them change their mind and their internal answer was ‘clearer science’ and ‘rational actions’.

    Sceptics are measuring the science through different filter to you. You approach it from science, most of them are engineers from industry. Industry deals with uncertainty all the time and they have procedures for mitigating it. They know all about trying to get the public to trust them. It’s NOT about PR.

    Too often sceptics try to explain what issues they have and instead of seeing it as an area for improvement, it as seen as a battle line. It’s human nature, we do the same thing but in our jobs, society has insisted we dot the i’s and cross the t’s.

    So how about starting again with an open mind as ASK where sceptics are coming from. Don’t assume that we’re lying or stupid or deluded or greedy. We think differently. Also, don’t assume that a throw away comment sums people up or even reflects what they really believe. Sometimes what we write is just what we think today. Tomorrow we may have another view point or just be in a better mood.

  111. Tiny,

    Enemy camps were formed about a decade ago and a lot of abuse has been thrown by both sides.

    Not a great excuse, IMO.

    Just as you sometimes give a snippy comment because you’re frustrated, so does everyone else.

    I think there’s a vast difference between a snippy comment (which I know full well I can make) and what some seem willing to say. Snippy I can deal with. Psycho-analysis and being called a twat, is not something I’m really willing to endure.

    I asked you ‘why don’t you cut your CO2 first?’ I didn’t ask because I thought you should, but because I wanted you to think about why you don’t. You don’t because you don’t want to.

    Except you don’t know what I do. You think you know what I do, but you really don’t. I didn’t answer your question, remember.

    Sceptics are measuring the science through different filter to you. You approach it from science, most of them are engineers from industry.

    No, they’re approaching it – mostly – as engineers and typically illustrating that their understanding of basic science and how it works is very poor. The whole “we’re engineers and understand reality better than you pesky scientists” is just irritating.

    So how about starting again with an open mind as ASK where sceptics are coming from. Don’t assume that we’re lying or stupid or deluded or greedy.

    Except I don’t think that “skeptics” are lying, stupid, deluded, or greedy and have never said so. Rude, maybe, but I’ve never suggested any of what you seem to suggest I’ve suggested. I’m not sure in what way I could start again. We’re having a perfectly pleasant discussion, so it seems that it’s possible. What else am I meant to do? I’ve commented elsewhere and mainly given up (well, apart from Climate Etc. which seems to have a reasonable mix of people, most of whom seem to be able to engage reasonably). I don’t even really know what “starting again” would involve. Opening myself up for another two years of abuse and having to deal with moderation problems again is not something I’m really willing to do.

    I find it rather ironic that you’re suggesting that I have a simplistic perception of skeptics (which I don’t) while being a regular commenter on Bishop-Hill which seems to mainly focus on presenting simplistic views of climate scientists, Greens, and Lefties. I don’t think I can identify a single Bishop-Hill post that even attempted to present a balanced view, or in which the comments even attempted to present any kind of balance.

  112. TinyCO2 says:

    I hear the same tone from your articles as you get from from the Bish’s. “Opening myself up for another two years of abuse.” Andrew Montford wrote a book about Climategate remember and ran a web site before that. Watts goes back to 2006ish and Steve M even further back. So if you think two years is hard, try six to ten years. I read their blogs back then and they didn’t start out so bitter. Your web site started as a parody, were you really trying to build bridges? Do you think just changing the name made people forget? Some of your guests also have histories. Just as you feel the comments by other BH posters are a reflection of Andrew Montford’s opinion, visitors here feel that you approve of any and all posts made by your followers. So even if you haven’t written the words ‘lying, stupid, deluded, or greedy’ that’s the impression your site gives, even if it’s by proxy.

  113. Tiny,

    “Opening myself up for another two years of abuse.” Andrew Montford wrote a book about Climategate remember and ran a web site before that.

    I think you misunderstand me. I don’t care if someone wants to write something criticising me. I can ignore that, or take it on board. I’m trying to understand what you mean by starting again. If I go and comment on BH, I get called a Troll, twat, narcissist. I can do without that. If AM commented here and someone called him a twat, I’d moderate that. He certainly didn’t extend me the same (or any) courtesy. Not that I really expect it, but It still reflects on the debate.

    Your web site started as a parody, were you really trying to build bridges?

    Parody? I’m not sure that’s right. AW’s site is appalling. I’m really not trying to build bridges with anyone who runs such a site. It’s scientific nonsense and the tone is beyond parody.

    Do you think just changing the name made people forget?

    I don’t care and this rather puts paid to your idea of starting again, doesn’t it?

    Some of your guests also have histories.

    They’re not me.

    Just as you feel the comments by other BH posters are a reflection of Andrew Montford’s opinion

    No, that’s not what I said. It’s what he allows them to say on his site that reflects on him, not their histories.

    So even if you haven’t written the words ‘lying, stupid, deluded, or greedy’ that’s the impression your site gives, even if it’s by proxy.

    I don’t have to defend what you think I mean, I only really have to defend what I actually say. Since I haven’t actually accused anyone of being a liar, I don’t think I need to defend your perception of what you think I might have meant.

    So, what do you mean by “start again”? From your comment it sounds impossible – well, in the sense that anything would be different.

  114. As promised in the first comment there is now a post by me one flying. I am not as fast as our civil host.

    Flying to the geo science flash mob in Vienna #EGU2015

  115. For TinyCO2: I travelled by train and only used tiny CO2, which could in future fully come from renewable energy. Travelling by train is much nicer than flying. Already now about a quarter of the German electricity is from renewable sources.

    Replacing flying is one of the harder problems, but we had science before the bothers Wright, I am sure we can do it again. One could make kerosene from biological waste, we have faster trains now, skype, video and teleconferences can replace many flights. In the past you would make a few long visits, that should still work.

  116. graemeu says:

    ‘..I just find the “you start or else we won’t take you seriously” idea irritating.’
    Fair enough but there is the highly appropriate adage ‘action speaks louder than words’. And yes, if climate scientists are convinced that their models are realistic then their priority should be to raise awareness amongst the public, politicians, policy makers and industry. Doing so may require more flying not less, if not by them then by reporters and policy analysts. This does not make them activists. IMO an activist is not the person who bears the message but the person who agitates either for change or for the status quot. In my experience those who could be labelled activists are inclined to become propagandists, the temptation to exaggerate their position and belittle the opposition becomes too great.
    Which is why I follow ATTP, I do believe you are genuine in skepticism (don’t accept someones opinion, without considering their arguments) even if you do frequently fall into playing the player and I have a much better grasp of the issue and the arguments for and against as a result.

  117. If TinyCO2 feels that climatologists should reduce their CO2 footprint to be credible, then it would follow that he himself is not a credible activists against mitigation given his declared small CO2 emissions. Let’s just stop this strange advocacy argument.

    Reading more of the above discussion, I am wondering whether part of the problem is that TinyCO2 (mitigation sceptics in general?) do not distinguish between personal and collective problems, solutions, optimality, etc.

    That is critical for problem that looks like a [[prisoners dilemma]] or (like I mention in my flying post) like a [[tragedy of the commons]].

  118. graemeu,

    This does not make them activists. IMO an activist is not the person who bears the message but the person who agitates either for change or for the status quot.

    Isn’t that kind of the point, though? If scientists start to make changes to how they behave so as to influence public perception, then they’ve become activists. I don’t object to this, but it would seem to be the case. Also, my issue is more with the expectation that they publicly change their behaviour, than with them actually doing so,

    I do believe you are genuine in skepticism (don’t accept someones opinion, without considering their arguments) even if you do frequently fall into playing the player

    I try not to play the player, but I don’t always succeed.

  119. graemeu says:

    I must have missed that they should publicly declare what measures they have personally taken to reduce their carbon footprint.
    Taking your argument, if they don’t make changes in their behaviour and this is public knowledge then they are activists for the status quot. You seem to have accepted TinyCO2’s definition of an activist. I don’t see it as being that broad, IMO an activist is actively campaigning, the person who acts personally on their belief/understanding is not campaigning until they endeavour to sway the opinions of others, OMG that makes anyone who publishes in a reputable journal or otherwise an activist! Tiny is right. Other than raising one’s academic rating the purpose of publishing is surely to inform, and as a result influence.
    Back to your point, no, they shouldn’t have to publicly declare the measures they are personally taking to reduce their carbon footprint, but given the seriousness of the issue it might not be a bad idea. Further if the research they publish leads to an interview where they are asked what measures are required to reduce emissions, and what changes they have made themselves, then it would be useful to be able to demonstrate conviction.

  120. graemeu,

    You seem to have accepted TinyCO2’s definition of an activist.

    Not really. I think his is too broad and basically includes everyone, which makes it trivial. I was simply referring to the case where someone would change their behaviour so as to influence the public (i.e., their goal is to influence the public).

    the person who acts personally on their belief/understanding is not campaigning until they endeavour to sway the opinions of others

    Yes, I agree. I would see an activist as someone who is actively trying to influence others in a semi-political/societal sense.

    Back to your point, no, they shouldn’t have to publicly declare the measures they are personally taking to reduce their carbon footprint, but given the seriousness of the issue it might not be a bad idea.

    Yes, I agree it may not be a bad idea. As I said in the post, I don’t have a real problem with it. I don’t even have a problem with scientists being activists. We’re all part of society and unless officially prohibited from doing so, we shouldn’t expect one group to not act on their convictions if they wish to do so. My main issue was simply whether or not we should be expecting it of climate scientists. I actually don’t have a particular view other than it seems to putting a lot of responsibility on a group who are already doing a lot to convince us of the seriousness of the issue. At the end of the day it’s going to be our (society’s) fault for not listening, not climate scientists’ fault for not doing more.

  121. graemeu says:

    “At the end of the day it’s going to be our (society’s) fault for not listening, not climate scientists’ fault for not doing more.”
    Ain’t that the truth.
    And last night we had ‘proof’ that climate change is bogus, or at least that’s how many (including the “the market will fix it” gummint) will see the almost unprecedented snow to sea level in April (first snow on the ground here, Loburn, Rangiora for 2 years). And yes I do get the difference between weather and climate, unfortunately most choose not to. I’m going to have my work cut out in ‘activist’ mode with friends convincing them that this blip is irrelevant, besides 2 days ago we were on track for a record breakingly warm April, but all they’ll remember is how damn cold it is.

  122. TinyCO2 says:

    I’m hearing a whole load of squirming. A whole load of ‘I don’t see why we should go first’. LOL. My point isn’t that scientists should go first because there is some moral imperative but because if the consensus members (including but not specifically scientists) whinge and drag their feet then you have no chance persuading the general populous (including businesses), not least because there is no example to follow. Policy makers are not going to solve that problem for you.

    Victor, no, there’s no disparity with my beliefs to have a small CO2 footprint. It’s a side effect of not being wasteful, which makes sense on many fronts. The reason why I don’t have some very lucrative solar panels is because I genuinely object to people who don’t own their own roof paying for those better off to have cheap electricity or worse, make a profit. Yes, there are a whole load of ways that that imbalance happens but it’s a terrible way to spawn a huge movement of social responsibility. Could you get worse mascots for your cause than Obama, Prince Charles and all the other hypocritical globe trotters?

    When I asked ATTP why consensus supporters didn’t go first, he dismissed it as a demand that he go live in a cave. Interesting that that is where his mind jumps to. We all agree that there are things that absolutely involve travel but how do we define if it’s necessary or not? As Rachel M writes, there are places where cutting CO2 is discussed but they’re pretty lonely places. Do they have a guide to deciding if the climate conference you are about to attend is essential or just a perk? Do they have a calculator for celebs to work out if their private jet will be worth the awareness their speech will engender? Do they discuss in depth how car sharing would or would not work? No, on the whole they repeat the same, very limited suggestions for cutting CO2. Where’s the passion? Where’s the inventiveness that typifies the determined?

    If you’re waiting for everyone to step forward together, you’ll have a long wait. Me? I think that’s a risk I’m prepared to take… but then I’m a denier.

  123. Tiny,

    no chance persuading the general populous (including businesses), not least because there is no example to follow. Policy makers are not going to solve that problem for you.

    Quite possibly. However, that still doesn’t change that if we reflect in the coming deades on what we should have done (or not done) and decide that we should have done something different to what we actually did, it’s still not going to be climate scientists’s fault for not having done more. It’s going to be our collective fault for not listening.

  124. Michael 2 says:

    Rachel says “but in all English-speaking countries, it’s very easy to eat plant-based foods everyday of the week.”

    Maybe, but transport is required, and the very fact of transport defeats your stated purpose.

    Consider most of the American West, Wyoming in particular. Most of it is high altitude (over 2000 meters), semi-arid. Farming of any kind is nearly impossible through most of the state; ranching is what’s for dinner. This is variously true through most of the Western United States. Farming on a large scale is confined largely to the American Midwest and California; but California is having some serious water problems right now.

    I consider Scotland. Lush green tundra in the highlands in the summer with a rich variety of grasses; but actual farming is probably out of the question through most of Scotland. West of Edinburgh I see mostly hay-raising meadows with some grain but livestock is, and must remain, Scotland’s main agriculture (ditto for Iceland).

    Iceland is Scotland but colder, wetter, and with even less farmable land.

  125. Michael 2 says:

    Rachel M says: “I’m a bit under the weather today but what does religion (*) have to do with it?”

    * Re: … flying for work or for saving the planet, but that flying for a holiday was shocking to him. That fits to the protestant, Calvinist upbringing I have enjoyed.

    Most religions (maybe all) are intended to be comprehensive social systems and include quite a lot of economic theory along with governance.

    Calvinism, if I remember right, includes “predestination” and there is no escape from your destiny. Consequently, if you fly, you were meant to. If you don’t, you weren’t. Basically there’s no way to find out what you were predestined for without trying things, so Calvinism tends toward high entrepreneurship as people try things to see if they were predestined.

  126. fjpickett says:

    “Consequently, if you fly, you were meant to. If you don’t, you weren’t.”
    That sounds like the ultimate get-out clause!
    Climate scientists that support CAGW and fly are surely in the same camp as doctors who drink or smoke, or dieticians who consume whatever is currently regarded as unhealthy? In other words, people will pay more attention to those who talk the talk AND walk the walk. It’s not complicated.

  127. fjpickett,

    Climate scientists that support CAGW

    Firstly CAGW is your construct, and I think you’ll struggle to find a scientist who supports it.

    and fly are surely in the same camp as doctors who drink or smoke, or dieticians who consume whatever is currently regarded as unhealthy?

    I think that those who understand the risks should be doing what they can to minimise their emissions, but they also live in the real world and have to feed their kids, get them to school, go to work etc. There’s also a difference between a doctor who actually gives advice directly to patients, and a climate scientist who primarily publishes papers about climate science. The correct comparison would be with the researchers whose work indicated risks associated with smoking, cholesterol, … not the doctors who give advice directly to their patients. Also, it is the sum total of the research that is used to try and understand the impacts of increasing anthropogenic emissions, not the work of a single scientist.

    In other words, people will pay more attention to those who talk the talk AND walk the walk. It’s not complicated.

    True, but climate scientists are not telling us what to do, they’re telling us something of the consequences of what we might decide to do.

  128. snarkrates says:

    I am going to call the logical fallacy proposed by fjpickett the “After You My Dear Alphonse” fallacy. It presumes that the only way to demonstrate ones bona fides is to immediately take the most extreme measures to address the problem one is highlighting–even if doing so would make it impossible to do ones job of addressing the problem.
    To save the world, we must live in the world. We must use the infrastructure available and necessary to do our jobs. To assert that scientists should place themselves at a disadvantage while carrying out the critical work of elucidating the workings of the climate is just flat stupid.

  129. fjpickett says:

    “the most extreme measures”
    Reducing one’s air-miles is hardly an extreme measure in an age of teleconferencing, and having big junkets in prestigious places like Paris and Copenhagen does rather create the wrong public impression. One of my concerns is that while the funding stream for climate research (despite its having long been ‘settled’!) continues unabated, there may be more than a few participants who produce what their masters want to hear, without actually believing it themselves…

  130. fjpickett says:

    aTTP
    Thanks for your considered reply. I don’t necessarily agree, but I don’t want to be disagreeable.

  131. fjpicket,
    Not agreeing is obviously fine. Doing so in an agreeable manner is even better, and a nice change from the norm 🙂

  132. BBD says:

    So fjpickett thinks that climate science is corrupt and its practitioners are knowingly falsifying results for personal gain:

    One of my concerns is that while the funding stream for climate research (despite its having long been ‘settled’!) continues unabated, there may be more than a few participants who produce what their masters want to hear, without actually believing it themselves…

    We must thank him for his concerns, although not his suggestion that the field is driven by greed and riddled with scientific misconduct.

  133. Andrew Dodds says:

    @fjpickett

    Do bear in mind that many Geology/Geoscience departments have significant oil and gas industry funding. A genuine research program that emphasized low climate sensitivity would easily find funding (even if the government declined to find it at all).

  134. Pingback: The week of responsible research |

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