Three years!

Yesterday was the third anniversary of me starting this blog. I was going to post something yesterday, but it coincided with the release of our consensus on consensus paper, which seemed like it should take precedence. It’s been a very interesting three years, quite stressful, frustrating, challenging, but also – at times – enjoyable. I’ve certainly learned a great deal, and I’ve encountered many interesting and knowledgable people.

The blog has had many more reads and many more comments than I was expecting. Early on it was actually quite hard to manage, and I really do need to thank Rachel who helped with the moderation for the first year or two. It really set the tone and has made subsequent moderation much easier. I also need to thank all those who’ve written guest posts: Rachel, Willard, Michael Tobis, Richard Betts, Richard Erskine, Lawrence Hamilton, An Oil Man, verytallguy, John Russell, and Steven Mosher (I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone). I’ve written lots of posts of my own, but I don’t really know which ones to highlight. I mostly look at old ones and think “oh, that’s not quite right”, or “I wouldn’t have written it that way now”. This is really all just one big learning experience for me.

I was thinking about whether or not to change anything about how I run the blog, but I decided against it. It’s just a blog. I get to write things, and sometimes people kindly write guest posts, but it’s not something I want to take all that seriously, and I don’t really want to feel obliged to do anything specific. I realise that what I’ve focused on has changed with time, but I typically just write whatever happens to be of interest at the time. I started focusing mainly on the actual science, and have more recently become interested in science in society, but I don’t really want to drift too far away from areas where I think I have at least some expertise. Maybe I’ll write a bit more about my own research.

The only other thing I was going to comment on was how things seem to have changed in the last 3 years. It feels as though climate science denial has become much less relevant. It might just be that I’m simply able to ignore it more than I used to be able to do, but it does feel as though it’s being ignored more generally and that it’s getting more difficult to effectively promote climate denial publicly. Maybe it was the fact that virtually all governments reached agreement in Paris at COP21. Maybe the succession of warmest years has made it more difficult to deny climate science without appearing to be denying reality. Maybe illustrating the consensus has some kind of effect. Maybe I’m even wrong, but it certainly feels less relevant than it did when I first started.

Anyway, that’s all I was going to say. It’s been a fascinating three years and I’m amazed it’s gone so quickly. I’m not sure I can quite manage another 3 quite like the last 3, but I certainly plan to keep writing posts when I feel like doing so. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

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52 Responses to Three years!

  1. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Thank you for all that you do!

  2. Congratulations!!

    Maybe you need a few years to realise how pointless it is to debate science with people who only pretend to have problems with science, but mostly simply do not like solving the problem.

    At least that was it for me and I find it harder and harder to motivate myself to reply to the nonsense and if possible prefer to ignore it.

  3. Magma says:

    Congratulations and thank you for the time, effort and thought that you’ve put into this forum, which has not coincidentally drawn a high caliber of participants and interesting dialogues.

    The publication of the consensus² paper makes for a nice anniversary gift.

  4. Congratulations on a great job. Your stamina is remarkable. I often find myself revisiting an old post of yours and its comments for nuggets of wisdom from your illustrious band of followers, of which there seem to be quite a few. I think you are right about ‘climate denial’ becoming less relevant – comparing Copenhagen with Paris and we see how marginalised they have become. Even they realise in their hearts they are swimming against the tide. Thanks again.

  5. JCH says:

    The worst three years of my life… were before this blog started. You’ve accumulated a great set of regular commenters, so I read way more and comment less, which is good.

  6. Anders,

    I was thinking about whether or not to change anything about how I run the blog, but I decided against it.

    Good call.

    It’s just a blog.

    It’s a bright spot of sanity, often sorely needed and always appreciated. Happy 3rd, here’s to however many more you have in you.

  7. Thanks for doing it. I’m not a physicist (not clever enough!) but I read every blog post and I’ve learnt a lot.

  8. Joshua says:

    Let’s give a shout out to those commenters who drive up the comment #’s and who constantly add hilarity to the comment threads, albeit unintentionally. They know who they are!

  9. Phillip says:

    As someone who you would probably call a denier or perhaps a luke warmer I nevertheless have enjoyed reading this blog every day for the past year or so – I do endeavour to read blogs on both sides of the debate.

  10. markbofill says:

    Congratz Anders.

  11. Adam R. says:

    Good on you, sir. aTTP has been on my “mustn’t miss” roll for a while now.

    Please keep up the good work.

  12. Francis says:

    I’ve learned quite a bit, which is pretty amazing since my math skills have been atrophying since I graduated from college in 1986. You write with remarkable clarity and your team does a great job of moderating comments.

    Why do people call you Anders?

  13. anoilman says:

    I feel so forgotten… 🙂

  14. Willard says:

    I believe it’s because “And then there’s” has been shortened to “Anders,” Francis. I might be the only one to prefer AT. Richie’s “Wotts” comes from AT’s previous blog:

    https://wottsupwiththatblog.wordpress.com/

  15. Thanks everyone.

    AoM,
    Fixed. Sorry. That’s was a particularly poignant one, so I really should have remembered.

    Francis,
    Willard has it right.

    Phillip,
    I try not to call anyone a denier, unless I’m really annoyed 🙂

  16. Rachel M says:

    Congratulations! It’s great that you’re still enjoying blogging especially since so many people value what you write.

    I have withdrawn somewhat from the online climate change discussions but my views are unchanged. Some days I feel quite despondent: why aren’t we doing more? Then other days I feel hopeful that sanity and/or some kind of miracle will happen. Probably neither is accurate and all of us will need to make some major lifestyle changes in addition to relying on technology that hasn’t been invented yet.

  17. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Well done ATTP, do keep the blog just the same (except definitely blog about your own science), keep up the good work!

  18. verytallguy says:

    Looks like I’m even more forgotten than AoM. Boo hoo. But it was a very long time ago. Nothing much has changed in the climate blogosphere since mind.

    I’m less engaged with the comments than I used to be, probably because I learn less than when the subject was less familiar to me. I enjoyed learning a very little about modelling of planetary systems the other week.

    Thanks for the blog, thoughtful and ups the level of debate on the subject.

  19. vtg,
    Shit, sorry. Fixed. You’ll all have to write more guest posts, so I don’t forget.

    There was also a guest post by Giorgos Zoukas, but that was really to ask for volunteers for his PhD research. Here it is anyway, in case anyone is still interested.

  20. BBD says:

    Ah, I remember those early days… ten comments on a thread, maybe 😉

    A hell of an achievement. You can be justifiably proud of it. You can measure the impact it has had by the legion of enemies you have made.

  21. You can measure the impact it has had by the legion of enemies you have made.

    I try to avoid the “they hate me, I must be right” argument 🙂

  22. BBD says:

    I try to avoid the “they hate me, I must be right” argument 🙂

    Were I to nit-pick I could say that the size of the baying mob is an indication of *impact* not an argument that you are correct 🙂

    Ah, the internet. Such fun!

  23. I think everyone “wins” that one in this arena, but it can be satisfying …

  24. Were I to nit-pick I could say that the size of the baying mob is an indication of *impact* not an argument that you are correct

    Yes, that’s why Anthony Watts likes to point how many people read his blog. There’s no doubt he’s having impact. There’s also no doubt that as a consequence of his impact people are less informed than they would be had he not had such impact.

  25. Blast, BBD outdrew me!

  26. Michael Lloyd says:

    Well done on managing to keep going for three years!
    I come here to keep track on any significant changes in climate science. Whilst any major doubts on global warming were put to bed decades ago, in science you can never be absolutely certain.

    I like your posts on science and society. I wonder whether you would consider extending those to cover education?

    I thought this statement was appropriate and one that we might all follow.

    “but I don’t really want to drift too far away from areas where I think I have at least some expertise”

  27. Pete Best says:

    Only in Australia and the USA does denial appear to have a platform against action. I have followed climate science now for around 7 years and in that time (although the science has been the same all along – ok some uncertainty but mainly the same) I have seen the same skeptical deniers foam at the mouth about AGW and try every argument they can think of (mainly from an ideological point of view from what I can tell, for some reason their minds just cannot accept an issue of this magnitude will to some degree impact their world as they see it) but the science keeps on conflicting with their stand point and due to this they appear to get more shrill which I think is down to denial being in its dying throws.

    I know that they have managed to delay action for 40 years and they still try to do so but at last the corner appears to have been turned and action is coming. If the action that’s is coming will be significant enough to prevent the much publicised 2C limit is presently more unlikely than likely but there is still time to readjust that.

  28. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    ATTP:

    It feels as though climate science denial has become much less relevant.

    Maybe I’m even wrong, but it certainly feels less relevant than it did when I first started.

    Never underestimate the power of the Dark Side.

    Carry on, good sir!

  29. BBD says:

    Why the blogging is worth the pain:

    Boussalis & Coan (2016) Text-mining the signals of climate change doubt:

    Climate scientists overwhelmingly agree that the Earth is getting warmer and that the rise in average global temperature is predominantly due to human activity. Yet a significant proportion of the American public, as well as a considerable number of legislators in the U.S. Congress, continue to reject the “consensus view.” While the source of the disagreement is varied, one prominent explanation centres on the activities of a coordinated and well-funded countermovement of climate sceptics. This study contributes to the literature on organized climate scepticism by providing the first systematic overview of conservative think tank sceptical discourse in nearly 15 years. Specifically, we (1) compile the largest corpus of contrarian literature to date, collecting over 16,000 documents from 19 organizations over the period 1998–2013; (2) introduce a methodology to measure key themes in the corpus which scales to the substantial increase in content generated by conservative think tanks over the past decade; and (3) leverage this new methodology to shed light on the relative prevalence of science- and policy-related discussion among conservative think tanks. We find little support for the claim that “the era of science denial is over”—instead, discussion of climate science has generally increased over the sample period.

    And:

    Source: DeSmog UK

  30. If the deniers were going away, they would have done so a long time ago. Judging from Exxon’s response to the investigation of what I believe are its deceptive practices, I doubt that the flow of money for the climate denial “crank tanks” is going to end anytime soon.

  31. John Hartz says:

    Why there will always be climate deniers amongst us.

    Human psychology influences the decisions we make every day, including unwise ones. Our psychological profile can make us reluctant to pay for services that benefit everyone, including those who don’t contribute. It makes us focus on achieving short-term gains and avoiding short-term losses. And, most importantly, it prompts us to engage in rationalization and denial rather than tackle difficult challenges.

    Scientists suggest appealing to human psychology to create solutions to climate change by Rosemary Mena-Worth, Stanford News, Apr 13, 2016

  32. Raff says:

    I’ll add my thanks. I don’t comment much, but I always read. It is very noticable how on every UK denial site I visit, your name is mud, or worse. Yet the people who complain that you are a ‘liar’ or that they cannot comment on your blog can never substatiate such claims with examples, and I’ve asked several times. I take this as an indication that all they want is to discourage other readers from visiting your blog as what you (and your commenters) write is dangerous to the “sceptic” cause. I also find it strange that academics such as Alan Kendall and Paul Dennis chose to comment on the Hill but not here, where I think they would be more at home (intellectually) among the many academics who comment here (am I right that there are many academics commenting here? That is my impression – would it be interesting to do a reader survey?)

  33. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    ATTP,

    Great blog, thanks for all effort and thanks to all those who contribute. I always find your posts and comments well reasoned and logical. I also enjoy reading the comments threads, so thanks to all those who regularly comment.

  34. Pat Cassen says:

    I add my congratulations and compliments. Thanks for staying involved.

  35. BBD,

    Thanks for the funding graphic and link to DeSmog article. I was under the impression Exxon had ceased such activities, hence AGU’s decision to continue accepting Exxon funding. So I’m a tad confused. More fodder for my next article in the Exxon series when I get around to writing it I suppose.

  36. Actually I, too, wrote a guest post once 🙂

    Keep up the good work ‘aTTP’! Is this (comments included) the best read on the web?

  37. John Hartz – yes there will always be those that might be categorised as ‘climate deniers’, but their influence is waning. Not yet insignificant I grant you – Lord Lawson, Peter Lilley, etc., in UK context, still wield influence, but the sadly departed Prof. David Mackay was better respected and more listened to than all of those put together. His legacy will last; they will be just a footnote.

    There will always be those that deny, for example, Darwinian Natural Selection, despite it being one of the most (some would argue, most) successful scientific theories of all time, proved time and again and further validated through the genetic basis for inheritance. One could argue that these ‘deniers’ continue to do harm in education in some US states and in other countries, so the ‘battle’ is never 100% won in that sense. But in all practical senses, the argument is won; I doubt there is any work on diseases (e.g. Zika virus) even in places like Saudi Arabia that assumes that Darwin was wrong.

    Similarly, all Governments are developing policies on the basis of what the IPCC and Climate Scientists have developed, and their commitments in Paris, not on what WUWT says. I know of sustainable housing developments that base their ‘resilience’ parameters on specific IPCC 2050 medium scenario projections (e.g. extreme heat waves, flooding, …). Serious planners may read the Daily Telegraph for the cricket and Daily Mail for the lurid gossip, but not for their climate advice.

    So, in practical terms, the contrarians have already lost the argument. Ok, so that makes them mean and mean people lash out, get nasty and snarky, but they still lost! Get over it. Many will come around, but some will never be convinced. Do we care about getting 100% consensus amongst the wilfully ignorant, including the likes of Peter Lilley MP? I think not.

  38. john,
    Fixed, again. Sorry. I thought I might have forgotten someone, but didn’t think I’d forgotten quite this many. I really appreciate all the guest posts. It’s my own memory that I have problems with 🙂

  39. Pat,
    Thanks. I think I may have asked you this on Judith Curry’s blog but I think I then forgot to check if you’d responded. Are you this Pat Cassen?

  40. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Me too! In wrote a guest post about calendarial subjectivity all the way back in 2011. There’s gratitude.

  41. VB,
    If you think (2016 - 2011)  \le 3, that might explain why you have such trouble with the whole 97% consensus issue?

  42. Vinny Burgoo says:

    [Please wait for a more appropriate thread to peddle deleaturs. -W]

  43. Vinny Burgoo says:

    ATTP, prolly not.

  44. Pat Cassen says:

    aTTP – Are you this Pat Cassen?

    Yes. That paper was basically Sue Terebey’s PhD thesis.

  45. Pat,
    Classic paper. I’ve cited it a number of times.

  46. 0^0 says:

    Excellent and informative blog and community of thoughtful (with a couple of notable exceptions.. ;).. but they are almost a feature..) commenters. As.somebody put it, a bright and positive beacon of insightful discussion in the web. Thanks for keeping it up.

  47. angech says:

    Thanks for the last 3 years. Yours is the only warmist site that puts up such a range of ideas and keeps the rate of turnover up which I appreciate.

  48. Mal Adapted says:

    To the growing acclamation, ATTP, I can only add “me too”!

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