Open thread?

HeronI’ve never had an Open Thread, and this probably isn’t really one either, hence the question mark. I’m reasonably busy at the moment, and have less interest in this than I once had, so have been wondering what I should do with the blog. I don’t really have any specific goals and don’t really expect to achieve anything specific, so I suspect that I will simply keep pottering along writing about things I find interesting and just see how things go, but I thought I would at least see if anyone had any other ideas. I might ignore them all :-), but maybe there will be things I haven’t thought of that might be worth considering. If you don’t have any ideas, feel free to treat this as an Open Thread.

One thing that I would be interested to know is if people think things have changed in the last few years. My impression is that outright climate denial is on the wane, but I can’t tell if that is actually the case, or if I’ve just changed and don’t notice it as much as I once did. Maybe that can be a starting point for the Open Thread and we can just see where it leads.

Update: As Lars points out below, I have had an Open Thread once before. I had completely forgotten.

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116 Responses to Open thread?

  1. Lars Karlsson says:

    ATTP: “I’ve never had an Open Thread, ….”

    So why does the URL say “open-thread-2” then? How do you explain that? Ha!

  2. Good catch. I have had one before. I had completely forgotten. My only excuse is that it was more than 18 months ago and a lot has happened since then. I’ve no idea why I didn’t do more after that one.

  3. Climate denial on the wane? I doubt it. It’s a ‘pause’; an ‘hiatus’; a natural variation.

    We’re breaking temperature records right left and centre at the moment, so those-in-denial are, in the main, lying low. Wait for La Niña to kick in for their heads appear over the parapet. I’ll bet the GWPF don’t hesitate 6 months to amend their heading as soon as current dramatic rise in global temperatures starts to stall, like they did when it went the other way.

  4. john,
    That’s a point. I wonder if they can do it twice. Maybe people/the media will realise that a second “pause”/slowdown at a higher temperature is not the same as “no warming”.

  5. JCH says:

    They are waiting on pins and needles for the stadium wave to commence waving.

  6. lerpo says:

    The new GWPF logo looks great now that they’ve incorporated the last few years 8P :

  7. Joshua says:

    Personally, I don’t see any evidence of a wane OR of “skeptics” laying low. I wonder what evidence leads to those impressions.

    Of course, I could be wrong about that, but on the other hand one of the constants in the blog wars is that antagonists on both sides describe trends without controlling the “evidence” presented for predictable biases.

    My favorite is the constant refrain that the “other” side is getting more shrill, which is then interpreted as a sign of desperation and a sense on the “other” side that their view is becoming ever more unsupportable scientifically. I have seen that argument being made on both sides ever since I started reading climate blogs. What’s amusing is that there seems to me to be little consideration that there might be something wrong with the logic if people keep seeing such trends over time. Reminds me of the amusing pronouncements of a “final nail in the coffin” and the “stake through the heart” of AGW seen so frequently and for so long at WUWT. Because of that, I invested heavily in the final nail industry, and the returns have been phenomenal.

  8. dana1981 says:

    I think you have to differentiate denial and the influence of deniers. I don’t think the latter has waned much – GWPF, GOP, etc. But their influence has waned somewhat. Just look at media coverage, where deniers used to get close to 50% of coverage. Now there’s rarely any climate denial news outside the right-wing media, and false balance is much less of a problem than it was just a couple years ago. They still have a lot of influence in US politics (control the GOP), but the Democratic Party views climate change as a winning issue now. In past elections they wouldn’t even talk about the subject. Now the candidates bring it up on their own when they’re not asked questions about it.

    So there’s definitely progress. It’s still kinda slow, and we still need to crack through the Republican science denial problem, but some progress is better than none.

  9. dana1981 says:

    Sorry, meant to say the former (denial) hasn’t waned much, latter (influence) has.

  10. I also have the impression that mitigation sceptics are less active in the comments of newspapers and blogs outside their movement. I have noticed this the last half a year.

    But maybe it is also just getting used to the madness. Like a statement of Donald Trump that would have ended any election campaign in previous years is now hardly worth a mention.

    Maybe people/the media will realise that a second “pause”/slowdown at a higher temperature is not the same as “no warming”.

    The first “pause”/”slowdown” was also at a higher temperature than before, just after a big jump. Thus I no longer expect rational opinions in Anglo-America.

    That being said the recent strong warming may have made their political activism less productive and rewarding. Maybe they are busy getting Trump elected. It is mostly the same demographic.

  11. Joshua says:

    It is interesting to me, however, to consider that comment numbers at Judith’s crib seem to be down significantly, especially if you consider that the rate of comments on overtly political threads is so much higher than on climate science related threads (albeit, making that distinction is complicated; I’d say that the political associations on the posts that are ostensibly focused on science and are quite strong).

    I happen to think that the ease of the transition to an overtly political orientation is quite interesting…especially given that the breakdown in who is on which “side” shows such a consistent pattern.

  12. Magma says:

    I think it’s on the wane as more and more data and physical evidence accumulates (going from overwhelming to, um, overwhelmingly overwhelming?), our understanding of mechanisms and feedbacks improves and models increase in accuracy and reliability.

    Not to mention that the contrarians on the whole are old and getting older, and aren’t replacing themselves or improving their reputations.

    The chief task that remains to do is to remove their entirely unmerited and disproportionate influence on the political process in the U.S., UK and Australia, since for better or for worse emissions reduction and remediation policies are largely driven from the top down.

    The retirement or death of 85-year old Rupert Murdoch will mark a major step forward, but I have no idea what the lifespan of giant spiders is.

  13. Joshua says:

    Dana –

    ==> Just look at media coverage, where deniers used to get close to 50% of coverage. Now there’s rarely any climate denial news outside the right-wing media, and false balance is much less of a problem than it was just a couple years ago.”

    That terminology seems quite vague to me…but I’m curious to know what evidence you’re using to determine a trend – hopefully evidence where “denier coverage” would be clearly defined.

  14. Dana,
    That’s an interesting point. I think that may be similar to what I’ve observed; you can still find people promoting climate denial, but it does seem to having less impact than it once was. On the other hand, there are still a number of political leaders/organisations that do promote it.

    I think there are fewer comments these days. It seems as though I can makes comments on some blogs without being subjected to quite as much vitriol as I once was. Having said that, it’s not entirely clear if I’ve simply grown a thicker skin and know when to respond and when not, or if there really is less vitriol.

  15. Magma says:

    Note that very few contrarians will admit error, even if they change their minds.

    Unlike scientists, who can easily drop models or hypotheses as data contradicts them or as better ones are developed, AGW denial is largely a question of ideology and political identity. The difficulty of shifting the latter–particularly in a country as polarized as the U.S.–is shown by the tiny number (close to zero) of prominent Republicans who have publicly endorsed Hillary Clinton over the dangerous train wreck that is Donald Trump.

    Extending the crude thinking behind “He may be a son of a b*tch but he’s our son of a b*tch” to critical matters of global scientific and environmental policy is no way to run a planet. But it’s a good way to ruin one.

  16. I don’t have enough material to write an article on this, but I’d like to ask the question.

    Consider recent revelations about Russian involvement in high-profile hackings and email dumps, and given slightly less recent revelations about Russia-based English-language “troll factories”, where people are engaged full time in inserting right-wing (and apparently, pro-Trump) opinions into social media.

    Consider how closely the modus operandi follows upon the character assassination that has been heaped upon the climate science community.

    In particular, note how when climate is reported on effectively in a mainstream newspaper with a comments facility, how quickly the most egregious deniers pounce upon the comments to mock the article and the problem as a whole. It has always struck me that there must be a funded organization behind this. But it never occurred to me to look beyond the American oil-rich and crank rightwingers.

    The Russian oligarchy has a culture which cares little for wilderness, an extremely cold climate, ample fossil fuel supplies, and an obvious contempt for the interests of those not in power.

    That Russia, essentially under Putin’s direct orders, has cultivated the toxic nonsense that has been heaped upon us is an idea I find to have a great deal of explanatory power.

    The question for me has always been where the troll factories attacking sensible approaches to climate are. But now we have reason to believe that there are troll factories in Russia, operating in English and supporting Trump among their activities. If there are such, how would you expect them to behave on the climate question?

    Does this change our position very much? Probably not in the next, fraught, 100 days before the US election, but presuming we get past that intact, what next? I’d very much like someone to talk me out of this suspicion that Putin is in large measure behind our travails, but if they can’t, how would this realization change how we should react?

  17. MT,
    Interesting. My impression is that UK-based climate science deniers are not being funded in any way. However, if – for example – it turns out that something like Climategate was a Russian hack, then it would seem possible that well-funded organisations may be providing ammunition for small-scale climate science deniers, even though they aren’t funding it directly. I don’t, however, have a good sense of how we should react if this does turn out to be credible.

    Maybe I’ll pose a similar question, to which I don’t have a good answer. My feeling is that it will probably become clearer and clearer that AGW is real and that the mainstream position is about right (TCR/ECS ranges, intensification of the hydrological cycle, extreme events becoming more intense and frequent,…). If so, my suspicion is that the vocal deniers/dismissives will switch from disputing the science to blaming climate scientists/activists/alarmists for not behaving in some kind of suitable manner. In other words, despite having been wrong, they will still find some way to blame those who turned out to be essentially right. If so, how we would we react and is there something that could be done to preemptively counter this?

  18. Joshua says:

    In a recent past, Judith linked to the following thread from 2010.

    I think it’s quite interesting to compare the overall nature of the comments exchange in that thread to what typically takes place at her crib more recently. Also interesting to note who has and who hasn’t dropped out of the medium of exchange.

    I have no idea what to make it of those comparisons, but find it interesting.

  19. Joshua,
    Yes, I was looking through one of my older posts and noticed comments from people who no longer seem to engage. Judith’s seems to be mainly Springer at the moment, which probably says something 🙂

  20. Joshua says:

    MT –

    I doubt I could present any argument to make it clear that you’re wrong, but I will say that the discussion on climate change seems to me to be rather trivially explainable by commonplace dynamics if cultural cognition. No extraordinary explanations necessary.

  21. I think there definitely was pre-existing denial. What is new is the near-unanimous support it gets on the right.

    There is clearly a “bandwagon” heuristic at work. If everyone who agrees with you about life in general takes a certain position, you are more likely to adopt it. It’s generally an adaptive strategy – we can’t think about everything in detail. What I’m asking about isn’t the naysayer blogs, it’s about the onslaught of half-baked contempt that meets almost any public article about climate change. This isn’t coming from McIntyre or Watts or Brooks. It comes from people you have never heard of showing up almost instantly in large numbers with brief expressions of dismissal.

    This “nobody believes that stuff” bandwagon strategy has changed the opposition from a cranky fringe to an identity signifier, and it’s so much harder to dislodge as such.

    I have long suspected that a few trolls were actively being paid full time. What’s new is whom I now think has been paying them.

  22. Cultural cognition is a weapon that can be deployed. It’s part of the explanation, but that doesn’t mean that experts in disinformation can’t use this phenomenon to their advantage.

  23. Magma says:

    @ MT

    Russia is one of the few countries that might benefit (in the narrow sense) from global warming, with the exception of losing much of St. Petersburg to sea level rise and vast wildfires on the taiga, and maybe droughts on agricultural regions of the steppe. I doubt that the Russian government would show any hesitation to engage in covert Internet manipulation and disinformation campaigns if it felt it was in its own political or economic interests to do so.

    However there is a wide gulf between the goal and the ability to achieve it. I don’t think Russia has a fraction of the competent propagandists inside and outside the country that the old Soviet Union did in the 1920s and 1930s.

    My own observations of individual AGW deniers on mainstream forums over the years (national or international newspaper articles with comment forums) are that they are almost always on the political right, that their positions on climate and the environment are bundled with right-wing stands (often deeply bigoted) on a host of local and national issues, and that a substantial number of the more literate ones are employed by or have other financial interests in fossil fuel companies. Others simply refuse to accept that they may have to pay more for fuel and energy, at least in the short to medium term. Many of the latter appear to be retired and on limited incomes, which also gives them a great deal of free time to post comments.

    A common link is that they are almost all angry, short-sighted and parochial. But Russian agents? No.

  24. I think there definitely was pre-existing denial. What is new is the near-unanimous support it gets on the right.

    If you exclude the Tea Party, normal US conservatives do not differ much from the Democrats. The near-unanimous support is in the Tea Party and in the politicians who have to say this in return for the donations they need.

    If there are paid trolls, I would look for the same sources that bribe US politicians. Russia was part of Kyoto and joined the Paris climate treaty. I would be surprised if they paid climate trolls.

  25. I hope you are right, Magma. I don’t enjoy having paranoid-flavor beliefs. But google “troll factory” and think about what these people have been up to. Have they avoided our turf altogether? If so, why?

  26. Joshua says:

    MT –

    ==> It’s part of the explanation, but that doesn’t mean that experts in disinformation can’t use this phenomenon to their advantage ==>

    No doubt, but again, my impression that that the discourse about climate, when taken as a whole, is not “organic” and less a product of deliberate actors. Climate change is a proxy for identity warfare, showing the same animosity and ideological reinforcement as many urgent battlefields if interaction. Look at how seamlessly Climate Etc. turns into a megaphone for Trumpsm.

    And don’t forget that the blogosphere is a band of outliers. In it, we see participating those who are most inclined towards energetic engagement. I am quite sure that among those who are most active in the climat-o-sphere we would find a high association with strength of ideological orientation. Again, look at Climate Etc., and look at those who are most active over a period of years. These are not people, IMO, who need the input of an organized and deliberately focused entity to participate.

  27. Joshua says:

    ==> If you exclude the Tea Party, normal US conservatives do not differ much from the Democrats.

    This pattern plays out with climate change, where it seems that mainstream republicans are closer in belief to democrats than to tea partiers.

  28. Joshua says:

    That should have read “…more organic and less a product of deliberate actors…”

  29. Joshua says:

    I’ll also note that I have been accused many times of being a paid “troll” and found it amusing that anyone could be so confident and so wrong at the same time.

  30. Perse says:

    I’m not sure whether denialism has waned. For that matter, I tend to think deniers are pretty set in their ways and aren’t ready to consider facts and reason.

    But consider this. I know your initial goal with this blog was to simply point out where they were wrong and you thought they’d simply listen and thank you for informing them. But you have inadvertently accomplished something far more valuable (in my eyes). The climate debate doesn’t just consist of deniers and activists. It also consists of people who don’t know what the heck anyone’s talking about. That’s me. I knew global warming was a thing because my dad says so, but when I tried to research it I couldn’t understand any of the science. Your blog has brought climate science to me in a way I can understand. So you’ve at least accomplished that goal. And you’re under no obligation to continue blogging if your heart just isn’t in it, but I personally think you should continue—in the hopes that you can reach other people like me and stop the next generation’s denial before it even starts.

    Also, a word of advice—own your words. It can be scary to speak out and stand solid in your views, but I think you’ll attract a much larger audience if, instead of tiptoeing around subjects, you be bold and address them head-on. Own your opinion and your argument against denialism will be all the stronger.

  31. Willard says:

    The plot is thicking:

    The party platform, written at the convention in Cleveland last week, removed references to arming Ukraine in its fight against pro-Russia rebels, who have received material support from the Kremlin. [Dignitary Donald]’s links to Russia are under scrutiny after a hack of Democratic national committee emails, allegedly by Russian agents.

    The coordinator of the Washington diplomatic corps for the Republicans in Cleveland was Frank Mermoud, a former state department official involved in business ventures in Ukraine via Cub Energy, a Black Sea-focused oil and gas company of which he is a director. He is also on the board of the US Ukraine Business Council.

    Mermoud has longstanding ties to [Dignitary Donald]’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who in 2010 helped pro-Russia Viktor Yanukovych refashion his image and win a presidential election in Ukraine. Manafort was brought in earlier this year to oversee the convention operations and its staffing.

    Three sources at the convention also told the Guardian that they saw Philip Griffin, a long-time aide to Manafort in Kiev, working with the foreign dignitaries programme.

    This may not be just another clown show by Dignitary Donald.

  32. Joshua,

    I’ll also note that I have been accused many times of being a paid “troll” and found it amusing that anyone could be so confident and so wrong at the same time.

    I don’t know if you noticed the recent comments on Lucia’s where there were complaints about you and Willard being amongst the worst offenders in the blog universe. I found it rather odd, given that you two are amongst the select few who rarely lose their cool.


    I think you’ll attract a much larger audience if, instead of tiptoeing around subjects, you be bold and address them head-on. Own your opinion and your argument against denialism will be all the stronger.

    Yes, I realise that I do have a habit of tiptoeing around things. Partly, it’s simply my character and partly it’s my scientific background. I don’t actually want to attract a much larger audience. I’m much happier simply writing what I want, how I want, and saying things that I think I can defend. If that doesn’t attract a larger audience, so be it.

  33. Perse,

    Your blog has brought climate science to me in a way I can understand. So you’ve at least accomplished that goal.

    That’s good to know. Thanks.

  34. BBD says:


    I suspect that I will simply keep pottering along writing about things I find interesting and just see how things go

    The very essence of the medium, surely? I think Stoat has it pretty much down.

    I’ve also learned a great deal here, above and sometimes below the fold, so I’ll add my +1 to Perse’s remarks about effective public communication of science.

    * * *


    This may not be just another clown show by Dignitary Donald.

    I agree. I’ve been riveted to this since it started breaking big last week.

  35. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    I’m just touched that someone who contributes so much and has such a meaningful impact to the state of climate science such as David, would even notice my comments.

    As for his logic related to why people offer opinions on blogs on political issues, or issues where they have no technical expertise, well, sometimes ya’ just gotta laugh at people’s lack of insight, and leave it at that.

  36. sometimes ya’ just gotta laugh at people’s lack of insight, and leave it at that.


  37. JCH says:

    As a hard rule, I absolutely never read Joshua’s comments, but I also never miss the ones he forces me to read.

  38. Please view the contribution of your blog as educational. It’s all about education, specifically education of the public about science to promote science, to defend it against those (even those who are scientists) who engage in science crackpottery.

    I’m not saying that the blog posts and comments directly educate the masses in that the masses read it. I’m saying instead that enough read it so that via a rippling effect of people communicating to other people via the media, the blog posts and comments function as one of the best primary resources for good information for the purpose of educating the public against the claims of science denial. I’m also saying that the blog posts and comments here function as one of the best such resources on the Internet.

    One of the best ways this is true via the blog posts and comments is when you review a new result in the professionally refereed literature. Your take and the subsequent comments function as said resource, providing information as to how the deniers are wrong, the type of information that the masses always desperately need to hear one way or another to at least have a chance to not be deceived by the deniers.

    Perhaps you’re losing some interest because the science itself is getting better and better in that it more and more is shutting down or blocking potential avenues for deniers to traverse. But the need to defend science via education of the public always remains, since science denial always exists, since deception via false philosophies and religions via very competent “salespeople” always exists. See for example the still massive denial of evolutionary biology that still exists, at least here in the US. And imagine what would happen if all who believe in science were to stop defending it against such “salespeople”.

    One last point related to the last point above: Unlike denial of evolutionary biology, denial of climate science can have negative consequences that denial of evolutionary biology could never have – we could be talking about the survival itself of our species or at least human civilization. The need for ongoing education of the public is therefore a moral imperative.

  39. Joshua says:

    ==> , but I also never miss the ones he forces me to read. ==>

    Imagine how guilty I feel for forcing so many people like David to decide to read my comments.

  40. Magma says:

    JCH Wittily put. 🙂

  41. mwgrant says:

    I agree. It is very different at JC’s now. IMO the slide started around the time Pekka stopped commenting there and then Max passed away.

  42. Ken Fabian says:

    I don’t see climate science denial waning, I see it morphing in response to outright denial becoming less politically effective, into more deceptive and what I think is the more dishonest “lukewarmer” forms that cloak denial behind the appearance of accepting the fundamentals of the science. I think maintaining the outward appearance of taking the problem seriously makes for more effective anti climate action politicking because it sidesteps the problem of looking uninformed and facing debates that can only bring that to everyone’s attention; the media pack sees nothing of interest going on here and moves on.

    Conservative opponents of climate responsibility here in Australia appear to have gotten lukewarmer climate politics down to a fine art, from the vague and content free affirmations of acceptance that reassures the not well informed that they aren’t science denying loonies, simultaneously reassuring the deniers that it’s no more than an ironic bow to the imaginary all pervasive Political Correctness that is blamed for being attacked for speaking denial openly – all the while the as yet inadequate and compromised policies (that they forced compromises on btw) are attacked as inadequate and compromised. And all the way through, the potent use of economic alarmism to prevent commitment to strong action.

    Ironically the causes for my optimism come from the free market responses to low emissions energy becoming the least cost choice of intermittent renewables and increasingly intruding on existing markets and the market emergent de-facto carbon price on “baseload” that such intrusion introduces – all incentivising the storage that is the next step along that path. And as homes increasingly have PV – with and without batteries – an influential and on the face of it more Conservative aligned part of the community increasingly has a direct stake in this transition and is less easily sidelined.

  43. Willard says:

    > there were complaints about you

    We all have sacrifices to make, whether from the Being Company soft money researchers or from elsewhere.

  44. Joshua says:

    M-dub –

    I think you may have the sequence backwards, IOW, Pekka stopped commenting because of the qualitative change, and Max’s comments were a part of that change.

  45. mwgrant says:


    Just FYI I wrote “around the time of” because to explicitly avoid time order. I definite agree that things were going on before Pekka stopped. Pekka’s ‘departure’ is just sets the time frame.Also ‘then Max passed away’ should have been ‘when…’. [That could affect your read.]

    I’d appreciate it if you drop the ‘dub’. Too close to ‘Dubya’ and I was never a fan of that administration. Lesser minds may make a highly inaccurate association.

  46. Nick Stokes says:

    “Pekka stopped commenting because of the qualitative change”
    Sadly, no. Pekka also passed away late last year.
    Obituary (Finnish)

  47. Joshua says:

    Nick –

    He largely stopped commenting there (and was still commenting here) before he died. He wrote a few comments about his change in commenting.

  48. Joshua says:

    MW –

    FYI there was nthing negative intended by the “dub.” I usually avoid the cutesy nicknames as they can come across as insulting, but thought that would be innocuous. Never thought about the Dubya connection…(although Dubya looks better and better by the day by virtue of comparison).

    I also note my.misunderstanding of your comment re: time order.

  49. Roger Jones says:

    I’ve started to post working papers on nonlinear climate change. The first is a legacy paper from 2 years ago but 8 more will be added over the next week or two. This is sidestepping the normal peer review but reasons are given. Have a look and comments welcome.

  50. mwgrant says:


    Thanks on all counts. I didn’t think you meant anything yourself with ‘Dub’. I think history will judge both GW Bush and Obama better than some of their critics suggest. (including me!) Your memory on Pekka’s commenting coincides with mine.

    Re: He wrote a few comments about his change in commenting.

    I even looked around online at the time to as to ‘why’. Do you recall where/when the comments you refer to were made? To me he seemed to drop from CE after being on the receiving end of some particularly nasty-in-tone comments. In my reference frame that little episode was a ‘landmark’ on the CE timeline.

  51. Joshua says:

    MW –

    Not sure about when. As to where, as I recall (I could well be wrong) there were a few scattered comments both here and at CE.

    My impression (combination of recollection of what he said and speculation) was that his reduction in participation at CE was not because of animus directed his way (I don’t think he was much affected by that) but because he felt that much of the focus over there was increasingly on rather dubious science, some extent filled by Judith’s own trajectory if drifting deeper into hardcore “skepricism.”

    Of course, it wouldn’t surprise me if it turned out that my impression is biased by my own views on the trajectory of Judith and CE…finding his comments would certainly help clarify, but I’m not sure what kind of search string would help isolate his comments on that topic.

    As for Dubya…it is certainly interesting how moderate he seems now relative to the current state of the Republican Party. The comparison even is stark when considering Romney’s candidacy of just four years ago. I wonder if there is a precedent for such a rapid change in such a large political entity, and if not, what might be the explanation for an unprecedented development. It’s hard to believe that neither of the Bush’s, nor Romney or McCain, are actively promoting the current Republican nominee.

  52. JCH says:

    Roger Jones – read the first one. Very good. Leaving soon for the guitar show, so will not be able to read them carefully until tonight.

  53. Joshua writes:”I wonder if there is a precedent for such a rapid change in such a large political entity, and if not, what might be the explanation for an unprecedented development.

    The answer can be found in the work of Robert Altemeyer; specifically his book The Authoritarians. History shows us that in uncertain economic times authoritarian leaders garner more power. The GOP in the USA is composed chiefly of right-wing authoritarian followers.

    Altemeyer’s work on authoritarian followers (there *are* left-wing authoritarian followers as well) makes sense of much of what we see in polarized political, economic, and scientific debates. It also explains how authoritarian leaders — like Trump — can rise to power.

    Sou has had Altemeyer’s book highlighted on her sidebar for as long as I can remember. I found her site while looking for sites mentioning/discussing Altemeyer’s work.

  54. Joshua,
    CE does seem to have a number of commenters who dominate some threads, make rather silly arguments and appear to be particularly unpleasant. Not conducive to any kind of serious discussion.

    I also remember Pekka saying something about no longer commenting on CE, but I can’t seem to find it.

    Thanks. I’ll have a look when I get a chance.

  55. JCH says:

    I think Pekka made some comments about the state of Climate Etc. in his comments at Science of Doom.

  56. Joshua says:

    ==> CE does seem to have a number of commenters who dominate some threads, make rather silly arguments and appear to be particularly unpleasant. Not conducive to any kind of serious discussion.

    In all fairness, that’s a description that quite a few leveled against me – of course, inaccurately 🙂

    So I’m trying but to judge, but observe…and I think that the transition is quite interesting…especially since there is so little pushback against patterns that some people consider to be representative the worst behaviors in the entire universe.

  57. Michael E Fayette says:

    I have been an infrequent commentator to your site, but I greatly value both the content and the conversations. Thank you all for your efforts. I have learned a lot.

    Never-the-less, and for many reasons, I have found myself drifting more and more to the “skeptical” side of the climate debate. It is probably not worth the effort to say why, since I don’t want to troll your post in order to generate controversy.

    But as someone who has been a major player (in a minor US market) in the public and educational communications industry – including advertising and political ads, I think I have some insights as to why you perceive a decline in “skeptical” comments.

    It’s not because those folks have gone away. If anything, the skeptical population is probably larger than ever. Recent polls certainly suggest that this and true – and it is obvious that most people are not as worried about climate change as they are about Islamic terrorism, jobs, Brexit, Black Lives, Russians, etc……

    Getting further action on Climate in the US will be largely impossible, no matter who wins, except by executive orders. And I understand that as the real costs of addressing Climate Change are beginning to be borne in Europe and Australia, that getting new action will be harder in the future that it was in the past. The Paris agreement, for example, seems to be collapsing…..

    Instead, what you are seeing is familiar to pollsters who query a rigidly partisan population who have simply “tuned out” the other side of a conversation. Evangelical Christians don’t bother to argue with the Atheists. After a certain point, they feel it isn’t worth their time. Likewise, Black Lives Matter activists would rather speak only with people who already hold their beliefs, and – in fact – many of them would actively silence opposing views, rather than debating them. They don’t think that Racist White Men will ever change their minds, so why bother?

    That’s because these topics – and many others including Climate Change – have moved way beyond a scientific discussion and become a primarily political/philosophical/religious one.

    Skeptics haven’t given up in their beliefs – they simply have given up trying to change any of your minds. So they don’t post as much on your sites. And I suspect that the same is true from the Warmist side as well. WUWT speaks to its own, and you speak to yours, with only a handful of souls actively contributing to understanding on both sides.

    The conversation will “re-engage” if there is a new controversy – ie, emails showing even more fraud than Climategate – that breaks through the news cycle, or a series of weather catastrophes that cannot be ignored and that will attributed (rightly or wrongly) to Climate Change.

    People just don’t believe anyone on almost anything, even when presented with “facts” from either side.

    So – I think will all have to just play this hand out and see what happens in our Climate over the next few years. I love the science of it, and want to know more from both sides, but I believe I am the exception.

    In a few more years, – as the Climate changes for the worse (as you predict) or it doesn’t – then the real challenge will be whether we can even agree on what we are all seeing.

    Somehow, I doubt we will……

  58. izen says:

    Two and a half years of record rising temperatures have done a lot to shift the Overton window. ‘Doubt’ is a difficult thing to preach in the face of reality.

    Consider the 5 stages of denial;
    1) It is not warming.
    2) It is not us.
    3) It is not serious enough to require action.
    4) The required action is economically damaging and politically impractical.
    and the final stage…
    5) It is too late to do anything now, we will just have to adapt.

    The pause/hiatus gave a brief lease of life to stages 1 and 2 although they were already frail. But go back 15, 20 years and there were scientific arguments to be made about the reality and attribution of warming. There were discrepancies between satellites, balloons and surface records. Credible positions could be taken about the paleoclimate record. Clouds, cosmic rays and a tropical ‘iris’ could be advanced as counters to the mainstream position.
    None of these were REALLY credible science. But they could be invoked as a cloak for holding denial positions 1 and 2.

    When ‘Intelligent Design’ was discredited as a cloak of scientism over Creationism in the Dover trial a few years back it made any anti-evolution position an explicit flag of a strongly held tribal identity. It could ONLY be that.All its attempts to adopt a scientific camouflage or invoke doubt were gone.

    Record temperatures and rising sea level along with the accumulation of research confirming paleoclimate data, changes in the cryosphere and surface measurements have relegated any possible defence of denial positions 1 and 2 to conspiracy theories. Lamar Smith goes searching for emails showing that science research is just a political ploy. WUWT posters no longer cite science, but claim that the NWO is brainwashing children with Lysenkoist climate science to raise taxes.
    Or something.

    The scientific argument, such as it is outside the academic context, has become about denial position 3. Claims, apparently credible of a low sensitivity are invoked to support the ‘Not a Serious problem’ position. The strength of that position is that while it is necessary to concede that it is happening and it is us, science and scientists can be accused of exaggerating the amount and extent. With the often unstated and sometimes explicit imputation of nefarious motives.

    The media has largely dropped false balance because it is no longer credible to deny the warming or our responsibility for it. That is an advance. But while anyone still holding denial positions 1 or 2 will now just be self-proclaiming their tribal allegiance. Position 3 is much easier to defend as a valid aspect of mainstream discourse. The past was prologue, from now on it gets nasty.

  59. Michael,

    In a few more years, – as the Climate changes for the worse (as you predict)

    I don’t really predict that it will change for the worse in the next few years. The main issue – IMO – is the inertia. If there is some amount of warming that will produce substantial negative impacts then we should really decide to start doing something well before we reach that point. Getting temperatures to – on average – stabilise, requires getting net emissions pretty close to zero. That’s not going to happen quickly. Hence, if there is some level of warming that we should be aiming to stay below, the sooner we start to reduce emissions, the easier it will be to achieve this.

  60. I think this is a good point.

    Two and a half years of record rising temperatures have done a lot to shift the Overton window.

    However, as John Russell said earlier, if there is another phase of slower warming, that might be exploited, but it might be harder to do it next time, given all the coverage of the previous slowdown.

  61. Joshua says:

    Michael –

    ==> If anything, the skeptical population is probably larger than ever. Recent polls certainly suggest that this and true…. – ==>

    I’m wondering if you might link to the evidence that you’re referring to.

    ==> ….and it is obvious that most people are not as worried about climate change as they are about Islamic terrorism, jobs, Brexit, Black Lives, Russians, etc…… ==>

    I’m wondering if you could elaborate on what your point there is with that statement. Yes climate change is less of an immediate concern for the general public then those other issues that you mentioned. But it is still a substantial concern in terms of the long-term impact. So what meaning do you draw from the fact that climate change ranks lower than other issues when measured in terms of immediate concern? How does that point relate to the question of whether or not “scepticism” is increasing or diminishing?

  62. Michael EF wrote “…if there is a new controversy – ie, emails showing even more fraud than Climategate…”

    Hmm. More fraud than zero, is zero. “Eight committees investigated the allegations and published reports, finding no evidence of fraud or scientific misconduct.” [

  63. mt, I’m glad you brought up Russian hacking in both climate and politics. I may be skipping back past recent comments here:

    For the past few days I’ve been raving, as publicly as I can, about the similarities between the DNC hacks (and now Clinton campaign hacks), the European hacks, and the CRU hack. I don’t think the evidence was ever court-perfect, but the understanding was that Russian assistance provided the CRU material in 2009 (just before Copenhagen, in case anyone has forgotten; there were also denial of service attacks at RealClimate and elsewhere). I wouldn’t go so far as to say any particular trolls are paid by Russia, but also wouldn’t deny that’s possible. There are a lot of them, and they are literate, polite, and plausible.

    Late last night I weighed in on an NYT OpEd by former ambassador McFaul (complicated story covered by David Remnick, one of the best, here: ) and only just returned to that comment section which was, unfortunately, closed. McFaul was labeled as a right-leaning guy, which is not supported by the NYer story. The biases might require untangling, but there were a suspicious number of posts with a lot of “votes” claiming Russia and Putin were the adults in the room and we should bugger off criticizing Putin and in some cases Trump, and that McFaul’s failure was his own dam’ fault.

    (For you Brits no doubt this is tedious, sorry, this paragraph is US political background.) It is suspiciously reminiscent of my youth, when we activists were unaware that there actually were Commie infiltrators in our midst. The language could be suspicious (“capitalist running dog”) and nowadays you can sometimes spot the join in Berniebot language with both Republican oppo central and old-style Commie insults. Many of those, I think, are plants, but they get a lot of sympathy. Thanks to a superbly managed convention, available historical material on Hillary, a adoption of the more progressive ideals in the list of goals, and an awe-inspiringly disgusting opponent, I think the riot there has largely been quelled.

    My point being, as several of you have mentioned, the Russian organization is sophisticated and well disguised. There are swarms whenever Russia comes into the picture (it’s even worse with the Chinese, who also don’t like freedom of speech).

    It’s a horrible, distorting problem in our brave new world, this tactic of demanding or producing tranches of email streams. We are so accustomed to expressing ourselves freely and at length without thinking how that might be used by a well organized, thorough, and repressive organization. Unfortunately, the goals of the Republicans and the Russians in this case are quite similar. It’s all too easily exploited, and all in the name of freedom of speech and leveling the playing field. And since Putin would eat Trump for lunch, and T may already be financially entangled, it’s bloody dangerous.

    It’s dangerously easily to claim “evidence” of collusion in material that can be distorted or misrepresented to vilify the target. One knowledgeable commenter also pointed out that it is possible to forge into the hacks material that wasn’t there in the first place.

  64. JCH says:

    Definite decline, and it could get worse for them. Actually read what skeptics are saying in comments at places like Climate Etc. They have been banking on a La Nina starting about right now, and right now there is no La Nina, and there are signs one may not form in 2016. If a 2016 La Nina fails to develop, the rest of 2016 is likely to remain very warm. The anomalies could support and annual mean for 2016 in excess of 1.00 ℃.

    2014 – warmest year evah!
    2015 – warmest year evah, and by a wife margin
    2016 – warmest year evah, and by a wide margin

    To ignore this, one has to be a dead ender.

    Could 2017 end up yet another warmest year? Odds are low, but it is not impossible. We are in a surge in warming. The surge in warming was supposed to end with a July La Nina; it did not happen. Right now, the skeptic model is rapidly sliding toward falsification.

  65. I forgot to link the NYT article; the comment section is an education in Russian advocacy for material that does not actually check out if you read my Remnick link. Here:

    (If this goes through before my lengthy comment, it relates to that which no doubt will appear tomorrow sometime.)

  66. Joshua says:

    izen and JCH –

    ==> Two and a half years of record rising temperatures have done a lot to shift the Overton window.


    ==> Actually read what skeptics are saying in comments at places like Climate Etc. They have been banking on a La Nina starting about right now, and right now there is no La Nina, and there are signs one may not form in 2016


    IMO, wishful thinking and not recognizing the nature of the beast.

    Yes, there has been some evolution, of sorts. Perhaps there are fewer comnenters in the “skept-o-sphere” who explictly reject that there is a real GHE effect, and more who claim to not doubt that ACO2 emissions warm the atmosphere (but we just don’t know the magnitude of the warming).

    But on the other hand, I doubt there are any fewer who say that Michael Mann is a liar, or that Climategate proves that the climate scientists are frauds, or that the temperature records have been tampered with to exaggerate the warming, or that they know for certain that sensitivity is below the IPCC estimated range, or that the “alarmists” are increasingly desperate because the scientific evidence is piling up to prove that they’re wrong, or that Al Gore is fat. And many if not the vast majority of those who say that they don’t doubt the GHE make arguments that are logically inconsistent with a belief that the GHE is real and thus, that ACO2 emissions pose a risk.

    And what is the probability that if there is no La Nina and 2016 and 2017 are record hot years, they will be any less confident that the “alarmists” are wrong?

    I think very, very low. If you go to Climate Etc. or to WUWT you will frequently read comments made with great confidence that the tide scientific tide is turning against the “alarmists,” the final nail is entering the coffin and the stake is being driving through the heart. And I doubt that the rate at which such comments are made is any lower than it was 2, or 5 or 8 years ago.

    The nature of the beast is that all evidence is interpreted to reinforce the preexisting opinions in line with the ideological orientation. Successive increases in yearly GMATs in fractions of a degree will not alter their opinions, IMO.

    The only way, IMO, that there will be a significant change is if there really is unambiguous evidence that is so obvious that the vast majority of people will be convinced because of what they experience on an everyday basis; for example, they experience temperatures that are so anomalous that they don’t need scientists to measure the changes and to tell them that they are taking place. And as far as I understand the evidence, such a dramatic change is not likely to take place for decades, at least.

  67. John Mashey says:

    1) In general, for a while, the local AGW local plusses for Russia seem to outweight the minuses, including the fact that that selling gas makes money.

    2) From a geopolitical view, AGW hurts the USA a lot more than Russia, Putin smiled.

    3) Historically, they sometimes been rivals, although Moscow is at least 3X bigger. It’s unclear that Putin would worry too much about SLR for St. Petersburg, especially in light of 4)

    4) St. Petersburg benefits from modest Post-Glacial Rebound, 2-3mm/year.
    See Kierulf et al(2014), especially the top left section of Fig 5, which shows velocity fields at various points.
    Anyway, it doesn’t get as much of break as further North, but at least it is rising, unlike areas further South.

    H/T Stefan Rahmstorf, who also notes other possible efects like ice sheet gravity change, AMOC slowdown. I think teh bottom line is the SLR won’t bother St, Petersburg much, for a while.

  68. pete best says:

    Due to thermal lag in the oceans the world will warm for several more decades regardless our present carbon emissions. China has peaked its coal usage apparently although I doubt it we know for sure as yet. Renewables are on the rise but they have a long way to go. What is all the ranting about Hinckley C Nuclear power, its a complex design (cathedral within a cathedral) and the two other offerings being built in France and Finland and 10 years behind schedule so it looks like it a bad design that costs £20 billion and has to be underwritten and does not reduce carbon emissions at all until it is operational and that’s 2035 if the other two reactors are anything to go by. So why doesn’t the UK build more offshore wind farms (the London Array provide 2.5 TWh per year of energy and hence is useful). Energy efficiency can provide the 7% electricity that Hinckley C will offer more quickly than it will provide the 7%. Electricity only makes up 20% of our total energy usage so why is it the only co2 cuts that the UK seems to be bothering with. Pollution levels from transport is a killer in cities but not a lot of alternatives are available. Buses, trucks, cars burn a lot of diesel and its got a lot of particulate issues as well as carbon.

    I could go on but lets see, 2016 so far is a warm year and likely to be the warmest presently.

  69. Michael E Fayette says:

    Joshua – In answer to your request above, here are a couple of links to US research polls within the last year or so, confirming that public concern over Climate Change is at a very low level – one is a Gallup poll, and one is from ABC News:

    Both polls show that concern over Climate Change is last among the topics they surveyed.

    As to what it means, I will leave that mostly for others to comment, but the reason I made the reference to the polls in the first place is that this drop in public concern is a possible reason why ATTP may sense that the “Deniers” have become quieter. If they think they have already won the argument, then there will be less arguing, eh?

    In my humble opinion, however, a public opinion poll about Climate Change is just as meaningless as the “98% Consensus” statements of the Warmists. Neither add data about the Climate itself, and are simply Political/Religious arguments – not scientific ones.

    But then that’s just me…….

  70. JCH says:

    I doubt there are enough personality-disorder victims to support Joshua’s model. In the USA, being in general disagreement with NASA is abnormal. It is very abnormal. It simply will not take much to get normal people back into the long Tang line. The shift away from Racism Etc. by college-educated Republicans is underway, and the last chapter will be climate change.

  71. a public opinion poll about Climate Change is just as meaningless as the “98% Consensus” statements of the Warmists. Neither add data about the Climate itself, and are simply Political/Religious arguments – not scientific ones.

    Well, a public opinion poll can – if properly undertaken – tell you something of the public’s opinion. A consensus study can tell you something about the level of consensus with respect to some scientific position.

  72. Joshua says:

    Michael –

    You actually didn’t address either of my points.

    You didn’t provide evidence of “skeptics” increasing in number as you stated.

    And you didn’t address the point about immediate concern versus long-term concern. Evaluating the comparative level of concern about short-term issues such as terrorism or unemployment and long-term low probability high damage risks is complicated, and easily demagogued. We know this from looking at the tendencies in hire humans evaluate risk.

    The “drop in public concern” argument needs to stand against evidence such as this:

    I would be happy to address the inadequacy off your response, but just repeating your arguments without addressing mine isn’t very interesting, IMO.

  73. Dikran Marsupial says:

    “Neither add data about the Climate itself, and are simply Political/Religious arguments – not scientific ones.”

    Indeed, however very few people in the general public have the background to properly understand state of the art climate research (I don’t for a start, but I know enough to have a good idea of what/how much I don’t understand), so information about where the balance of expert opinion lies is much more important to the public debate on climate change than information about climate itself, which is why studies such as Cook et al are necessary.

    “But then that’s just me……”

    yes, quite possibly! ;o)

  74. Joshua says:

    And Michael –

    ==> this drop in public concern … ==>


    One of your links shows a 1% drop over one year. The other has no longitudinal data

  75. Magma says:

    @John Mashey

    Good point re. isostatic rebound. I hadn’t considered that (though I should have).

  76. JCH says:

    The eight-year high is based upon the 2015-2016 winter, which a majority of people perceived to be warmer, and a large number of them believed it to be warmer because of human-caused climate change (major shift upward in that number.) That 2016 is likely to be yet another warmest year is not in those numbers. This thing is fast moving, and a La Niña (especially one that is either weak or does not happen) is not going to fix the horrifically bad corner into which skeptics have painted themselves. They (Curry-Tsonis etc.) told the American public there would be no warming until ~2030, and they were obviously devastatingly wrong.

    Failed by NOAA whistle blowers, Professor Curry has retreated to wait for the AMO to go negative… it’s both sad and laughable. Let it go negative. It will do no more warming than it did the last time it went negative, which was virtually nothing.

  77. JCH says:

    sb – no more to warming

  78. Gingerbaker says:

    Should we really care if denial is or is not up or down? Do just want to win an argument or do you want to actually help get enough renewable energy infrastructure built and deployed in time?

    Just how many decades do you think you should waste arguing with morons and liars about science facts?!? You do realize you are making the Koch brothers et al. very happy when you do this, right?

    Forget arguing about science. The science IS settled. Instead, start making the case – in ways even Republicans will appreciate – for how much money we could be saving every year by using RE instead of paying through the nose for fossil fuels. Energy independence and putting hard cash in one’s pocket is a winning argument no matter which side of the political aisle you stand.

    Let’s make the economic case for low-cost clean energy for everyone. A by-product of which happens to be solving AGW.

  79. BBD says:

    Let’s make the economic case for low-cost clean energy for everyone.

    I wish this meme would go away. High penetrations of renewables into the energy mix will be very expensive. If you want to get the public on side, don’t mislead them about costs (above all things) or there will be severe blowback down the line.

  80. MichealE,

    No need to peddle “but consensus” and the W word presumes that the established view is “for” warming – think about it.

    I’m on vacation, so let’s all keep our clothes on, please.

  81. Windchaser says:

    I’m of mixed mind.

    (1) “Skeptics” have won. Congress is locked up and won’t sign a climate bill, a good portion of this country thinks ACC is fake, and they’ve successfully inoculated themselves against any new data (“it’s all fake”).

    (2) Skeptics are pushed back on their heels by the new record highs and the end of ‘the pause’. You could say they’re regrouping; you could say they’ve just been given some pause and they’re less enthusiastic.

    Unfortunately, #1 and #2 aren’t mutually exclusive. Yes, they’ve won, and yes, they’re pushed back on their heels for now. They don’t have any amazing new scandals to drum up support, but… they don’t need them, because they’ve locked up enough public support to effectively stop us from fixing things. And with their inoculation against the real world, I don’t see that changing any time soon. =\

  82. mt says:

    “Climate change is a proxy for identity warfare, showing the same animosity and ideological reinforcement as many urgent battlefields if interaction”

    It was not always so. That it is so now is probably to some extent deliberate. The question I am raising is whether we should rethink who the agents of this pernicious change are.

    Everybody keeps talking about literate, informed, persistent naysayers. I doubt many or even any of those are in the employ of the KGB. I’m speaking of the amazing efficiency of the talking point parrots who show up whenever climate is discussed online. They are playing the newspapers and they are playing Facebook and anyone else who has some faith in democratic discourse. They are playing to cultural cognition and they are playing to the bandwagon heuristic. They do so effectively and well. I have long been suspicious that there was an organizing agency behind much of it.

    Again, if you reply to me, please consider this first:

    It just never occurred to me to suspect Putin. However, we now have evidence that Putin *is in the business of trolling social media* with *false flag conservatism*, sometimes based on *willful misinterpretation of stolen email* which was traced to *shady Russia-based server platforms* where the trail *became suddenly obscure*.

    Did we suspect that “climategate” and the army of trolls that blew it up into a fake scandal were directly connected? It didn’t occur to me. But now it does. Even if Putin is not behind it, seeing these as a piece reveals a very similar modus operandi. Email hacking, fake scandal, fake right-wing consensus, leading to real right-wing consensus. Why mess with what works?

    Nobody has made a dent in my concerns here as yet. I’d appreciate it if somebody could.

    Also, if there’s been a hiatus in climate trolling, perhaps it’s because the people paying the paid trolls have bigger fish to fry these days.

  83. Michael E Fayette says:

    Joshua, et ala…..

    I’ll just leave my posts as written. I have no desire to try to convince anybody of anything. Was simply offering a theory in answer to ATTP’s question/observation on why he felt that outright Climate denial might be “on the wane.” As I mentioned above, polls are meaningless in regards to the underlying science, but might be useful in understanding why dialogue between sides is shutting down – which I agree is happening, incidentally.

    If each side feels they have won. there is little more to discuss….

    All best – Mike

  84. Windchaser says:

    If each side feels they have won. there is little more to discuss….

    The skeptics have won in the political sphere, and the warmists have won in the scientific community.

    I’m not sure if the skeptics care about the scientific sphere, but the warmists definitely care about the political one. It’s a substantial hindrance on our ability to fix things.

  85. Joshua says:

    I was suggesting to have a discussion, Michael – for you to explain your opinion in light of the evidence. Trying to convince anyone is not the only point of these discussions, IMO. For me, it is also to interrogate my own opinions and biases by listening to other perspectives.

    I fail to understand why you would bother to show up and express an opinion and then not engage in a discussion of how your opinion was founded.

    Why would you offer a theory and yet not engage with other perspectives?

    And I will, again, note that you failed to address my questions.

  86. Vinny Burgoo says:

    mt: ‘Nobody has made a dent in my concerns here as yet. I’d appreciate it if somebody could.’

    What would such a dent look like? How could it be made?

    You’re asking for immediate evidence that a long-running, successfully-kept-secret conspiracy doesn’t actually exist.

    Go and have a cup of tea and a бисквитbiscuit.

  87. John Mashey says:

    High penetration of renewables – expensive.
    Actually, I don’t think so, and in most places, it will take decades anyway, which gives some time for energy storage solutions to improve, at car, home, campus and utility scales.

    The main issue is energy storage, and people are working really hard on that.
    Here’s an example at Stanford,.
    Batteries will get cheaper and better, both from cost-volume manufacturing curves, and from a few of the techniques in progress. I don’t know exactly which will work out, but there is enough going on, especially with nanostructured materials, that some of them will make it.
    See Yi Cuilab. I’ve heard him talk a few times and they are doing good things.

    Then there are fun ideas like trains akin to pumped hydro, but for other areas.

  88. mt, I hope you persist. I think the correspondence between the CRU hack and the DNC/European hack is not a coincidence. When the news broke on NYT about Manafort last night, I’ve never seen anything like the audience response. Trump is the ultimate surrogate (being stupid, dishonest, and willing to do anything to feed his ego addiction) for Putin to go beyond his wildest dreams of empire, and Putin is not stupid, just power hungry and in sight of his lifetime ambition to rule the world, or at least return Russia to its former glory. He loathes Clinton.

    Michael E Fayette, I typed out a response to you that was lost earlier, and will try again, because you tie in to my current thinking. Firstly, I do wonder what you would regard as evidence. Your claims make you seem rather “naked in public” to the observant among us, except for your cogent points about the focus of different interest groups. People mostly want cheap fuel, I agree. I have a rather large bet that things will be obvious by 2035, and have been thinking that my “punter” and I should have set some parameters for that. To me, that would be more of what we are seeing now: Arctic and Greenland melt, wildfires, droughts, extreme precipitation events (like that in the US mid-Atlantic in the last day or so), sea level rise (slight but increasing where I live – since 1980), and a variety of other increases in chaos. The heat records, the list goes on. There does come a point when denial no longer works; nature doesn’t “feel”, it acts.

    As to your strictures on consensus, I think you have a point, but it’s not the one you think you are making. Luckily typing is easy, so a redo is not that onerous. From James Hoggan I’m Right and You’re An Idiot (this is preceded by a chapter labeled “Facts are Not Enough”) and is about an interview with one Bruno Latour, philosopher:

    in the realm of science, facts are always the source of careful scrutiny, inquiry, and discussion. Whereas in the realm of politics, matters of fact are too often held to be self-evident weapons to be used to end a debate. …. disconnect between what is known – what facts are, what knowledge means and why those facts are significant – precisely because of the time it takes to evaluate data, to discuss and project its implications and to consider how to act on that knowledge.

    because of the daunting demands that climate change requires “the complete transformation of all the details of existence of seven billion people.” It’s no easy task to ask the entire world’s human population to change their lives completely, and small wonder people respond with an unwillingness to believe we must change.”

    pleased that climate change has become so controversial, because it drives home the reality of what we are facing. …. the event is ongoing, having lasted and developed for centuries. “Nothing of that could be put in the normal framework of an action following knowledge.”

    “mired in all the epistemology of getting the facts straight.” We must talk about concerns and interests instead.

    “focuses on controversies … rather than homing in on scientific facts or outcomes themselves. …. ignore the critics and individuals who sow mischief … [the] “science of deliberate ignorance”

    we are witnessing a civilization shift where we can’t use old epistemology on climate change

  89. curryja says:

    Ahhh . . . I see that some of you long for the heady days of comments by Ianash and Maple Leaf over at Climate Etc

  90. Judith,
    Those names don’t ring any bells, but if they’re worse than Springer, then I suspect not 🙂

  91. Dikran Marsupial says:

    curryja I’d be interested to hear whether you have changed your views on the work of Prof. Salby. Are you planning any future blog articles on that topic (ISTR you sent a tweet suggesting you were working on an article, but that is a while ago now)?

  92. Yes, I’d be interested to know that too.

  93. Tim Roberts says:

    I’ll bite! Your photo is probably a Grey Heron (happy to be corrected as I live in OZ) Nice pic by the way.
    (my students think that a mathematician birdo is a sad combination)

  94. It is indeed a Grey Heron. I only included it because I took it the day before and quite liked it (I was trying out a new compact tripod I’d just bought).

  95. Tim Roberts says:

    Don’t get me started on dodgy data sets (and in my area of amateur interest, species richness regressions) Tim, go to bed, go to bed! (Just don’t show them any more crow problem solving videos)

  96. JCH says:

    I remember Ianash. I also remember the NOAA whistle blowers.

  97. BBD says:

    John Mashey

    Actually, I don’t think so

    Then we are in fundamental disagreement.

  98. Joshua says:

    MT –

    Thanks for the follow up. I understand your point better, now.

    Again, I can’t offer anything particularly convincing that you’re wrong, but…

    In my observations of the Internet, an army of Russina commenters does not seem like a plausible explanation for the more general nature of comments in newspaper websites. Yes, I do often wonder “where do all of these people come from?” and I don’t doubt that in fact, there might be some Russian paid commenters that do exist. But what proportion of the blog commenters are such commenters likely to comprise? I don’t think it’s likely to be very high, and from reading the article you linked and the follow-on link to the NYT article, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence w/r/t overall proportionality.

    In my experiences, when I’ve engaged with people on Internet comment boards, I can’t recall ever run into anyone who consistently lacks the American-context background or command of native syntax that you’d typically find lacking with people living in other countries – even if their English skills are excellent. (FWIW, I happen to have spent a lot of years working with non-native English speakers, and I’m particularly tuned towards observing for such syntax and knowledge patterns.)

    Anecdote-based reasoning, for sure, and that’s why I can’t offer a convincing argument, but in lieu of convincing evidence that Russian paid commenters comprise a significant % of the commenters in political discussions at newspaper websites (including climate change-related discussions), I will remain quite dubious.

  99. BBD says:

    Maybe they are predominantly Southern Baptists. There’s a lot of them about and they are well coordinated. And I have *definitely* encountered a fair few of them in my online travels.

  100. Joshua says:

    Judith –

    ==> I see that some of you long for the heady days of comments by Ianash and Maple Leaf over at Climate Etc ==>

    Neither of those commenters were present in the thread that I referenced as a comparison for evaluating whether any qualitative changes have taken place.

    But, IMO, we don’t even have to look at the recent, overt transition to a more political dialogue to find some interesting contrasts.

    You recently linked to two posts from the past – the one I mentioned above and also this one:

    Aside from the most obvious contrast in the number of comments (the latter thread comprising about 20% the number of comments of the earlier thread) – which doesn’t really speak directly to qualitative changes, it is interesting to note, IMO, the change in cast of characters as well as possible qualitative changes. Assessing the qualitative changes is inherently subjective, but part of what’s interesting is how excited you were about the discussion in the earlier of the two threads:

    Is it coincidence that you seemed somewhat less enthusiastic about the discussion that was filled with comments from Springer, The Water Chef, stefanthedenier, ozzieostrich, myrrh, etc.? Perhaps it was only because you had less time available to engage in the latter discussion? Or perhaps it was because you found it far less interesting (for anyone not particularly interested in pissing matches)?

  101. Joshua says:

    BBD –

    An organized effort on the part of the religious right, or from an organization like ALEC, seems more plausible to me, although even their I’m pretty dubious about the “organized” part. Ideological identification is a pretty strong motivator.

  102. BBD says:


    Ideological identification is a pretty strong motivator.

    I agree – I wrote a little carelessly above. It’s not so much that the religious right is coordinated in a structured, tactical sense, rather than (as you say) that it has a set of beliefs which it shares in common and which result in a common (and widespread) response to given topics, eg. AGW.

    This still feels a bit muddled, but I hope you can see what I mean.

  103. Joshua says:

    Got it, and I agree.

  104. Freedom Fighters.
    Billions upon billions of Freedom Fighters.
    Wherever the topic, they act as if they owned the Internet.
    Basic communication skills suffice for some kind of organization emerges from their social networks.

    Besides, Haidt has shown that the more conservative ones were more attuned to their morals, and Lackoff posits that their relentlessness is more disciplined.

    More on that later.

  105. I don’t think mt is wrong to perceive a slight thumb on the scaliness here.

    Buried earlier was an observation I made because I spend too much time observing the ebb and flow of New York Times commenting, that there is a notable distortion in the comment section on the McFaul article. I am sensitive to shifts that run counter to the norm. That article’s comments condemned McFaul, labeling him a rightist (he’s actually an unusually thoughtful activist for freedom, which is what got him in trouble in Russia) and pushing the idea that he is tied to a corrupt Clinton. That it is out there anyway, flames ready to be fanned.

    It only takes a small carefully constructed cadre to tip the balance and add weight to others who want to be persuaded, as you know from climate arguments. In the roil and moil of an election, there are a variety of forces, and no one person can distinguish all the forces at play. It’s meat and drink to the Koch network.

    With Trump such a blithering idiot it is easy for Russian interests to add an almost imperceptible nudge. People are so gullible. I’ve just spent a few minutes at Snopes, and I found there a couple of stories I had bought into myself. Election fraud is a particularly rich field.

    We all see it in climate denial; in fact Judith Curry has made quite a thing of this, in a slightly less obvious way than Watts. The more subtle approach is quite effective. She gets called to Congress by people like Rep. Lamar Smith, Sen. Cruz, and Sen. Inhofe, who are currently in power on their committees. She put an OpEd on Fox, excoriating scientists for their bias. Paul Thayer then gets an OpEd in the New York Times ( ), along with two by Rep. Lamar Smith, one by Mike Mann, and one reasonable but cautious summary by the excellent Justin Gillis. That adds up to three for demanding years of email streams, one strong against, and one moderate but honest. With the facts adding up the news is 3/5 against real climate scientists. Pretty effective …

    So as to the Russian bit, it’s only a small number, but if they are literate and sound like they know what they’re talking about, they provide fuel for others, coming from other quarters of the campaign against proper scientific understanding. It’s all in the name of freedom!

    Please do not forget that the CRU hack in 2009 was also aided by Russia!

  106. Matt B says:

    From an MT comment on 8/1:

    “Did we suspect that “climategate” and the army of trolls that blew it up into a fake scandal were directly connected? It didn’t occur to me. But now it does.”

    One of the few people able to answer this is Mosher. If there was an “organizing agency” behind that episode then he must have been in on it. Steve, your thoughts?

  107. sidd says:

    Nation-State involvement in CRU or other penetration is a tough case to make. Hackers have been for hire forever. One (careful) cursory look at darknet sites will guide you to multiple services you may rent and unleash on a target of your choice. A substantial number of these services are written and operated by Russians. And many more by other nationalities. Techniques are exchanged or captured from infections. Most targets are vulnerable.


  108. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Worst infographic ever or one of the best?

    As a graph, it sets out to tell you very little (some ice has declined by some unspecified percentage over three or four decades), then confuses that modest info content with a lot of numerically irrelevant infill. But it’s very pretty.

    More here:

  109. Steven Mosher says:

    “Please do not forget that the CRU hack in 2009 was also aided by Russia!”

    Err No it wasnt.

  110. Steven Mosher says:

    “One of the few people able to answer this is Mosher. If there was an “organizing agency” behind that episode then he must have been in on it. Steve, your thoughts?”

    Third Way.

  111. Ethan Allen says:


    Open thread?

    Possible near future post suggested …

    Discussion of “Assessing atmospheric temperature data sets for climate studies” which JC ‘thinks’ is greater than sliced bread (latest post at CE as of today).

    Two items for discussion (1) paper above cites unpublished UAH 6.0b5 dataset and (2) ERAI global trend for GMST as shown in Table 1 of above paper is significantly LOWER then similar trends as reported in this VERY recent ECMWF report …

    Estimates of variations and trends of global surface temperature

    See for example Figure 3 and Table 2 of the ECMWF report.

    This ECMWF report does NOT use either RSS or UAH (except for the Cowtan blended product), the ECMWF report only uses the three classical GMST estimates from HADCRUT, GISS and NOAA.

    I see the TLT datasets as ill defined as they don’t represent a true constant pressure or elevation/altitude (see, for example, Figure 6 of the 1st paper (Cederlof, et. al. (2016)).

    TIA for your consideration.

  112. Ethan Allen says:

    Small addendum, Cederlof, et. al. (2016) does NOT cite this most recent ECMWF report (PDF dated 2016-06-17 so, too recent, but still the ECMWF report does show very good agreement with the three GMST datasets)..

  113. Correction noted. The remark was not addressed to me, but I looked up third way, and if anyone is as ignorant as I am, here (“a position akin to centrism that tries to reconcile right-wing and left-wing politics by advocating a varying synthesis of right-wing economic and left-wing social policies”). Hope showing my homework is not too much of a bore, hesitate to ask more. There was also material about a corporate entity financed by big business, but I assume that connection is not related.

    I’d like to know how this relates: Steven Mosher is mentioned further on in this paragraph. There was a further general comment in the Telegraph about Russian manipulations that did not make a specific connection.

    On 19 November an archive file containing the data was uploaded to a server in Tomsk, Russia,[23] and then copied to numerous locations across the Internet.[8] An anonymous post from a Saudi Arabian IP address[24] to the climate-sceptic blog The Air Vent.

    My primary point was meant to be general, not specific, partial, not wholesale. The presence of a few motivated actors from the Russian part of the denial universe was not intended to suggest they were behind the whole of climate denial infestations, it could be quite small and still have weight. There was an unrelated point I wished to make, which is that attacks using FOIA demands and email hacks apply to US and European (and other?) elections as well as climate science. This is not surprising, but it is a whole new world out there.

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