Off for a couple of weeks

I’m leaving for a meeting early tomorrow morning and then heading out on holiday as soon as I’m back, so posting – from me, at least – will probably be light for a couple of weeks. To be quite honest, I’m somewhat at a loss for things to say. I have some thoughts about Michael Tobis’ recent posts, but haven’t even started drafting anything and, once I have, I want to run it past Michael before I do post it.

I’m feeling a little worn out, so am looking forward to a couple of weeks away (the first week is a work trip, admittedly). I’m also finding myself more and more discouraged by the level of discourse. I’ve been observing some of the conflict between those who support nuclear and those who support renewables. Mostly more heat than light, in my view. I had a brief discussion with someone who is pro-nuclear who seems to think that those who are anti-nuclear are evil, and we also recently had a case of someone refering to those who support nuclear as deniers.

I’ve also been slightly discouraged by the whole saga surrounding David Wallace-Wells article (I’ve linked to the annotated version, so you can check his sources and how he has responded to the criticism). I think there were aspects deserving of criticism, but I also think he was trying to do something interesting; highlight the possible severe outcomes if we do end up continuing to emit CO2 into the atmosphere. I might disagree with how he framed the issue, but I still think it is an aspect that we do need to consider. It’s also led to a lot of discussion, which is itself good. Some of the criticism could – in my view – have been a bit more charitable.

To be fair, some of the criticism of those who approach this from an alternative perspective might also be lacking in charity (and this may include some of my criticism too, to be honest) and I’m starting to be a little concerned that there is a fairly narrow region of parameter space that is regarded as acceptable. I’m somewhat worried that I’ve allowed myself to be too influenced by this; I think I may be too careful and cautious about what I say. As a scientist this can be a good thing; try to only say what you think you can justifiably defend.

On the other hand, this is a blog, not a scientific publication. There are aspects of this topic that are worth exploring, even if they are uncomfortable and not everyone agrees about whether to do so, or not. Avoiding these thing can mean not having to deal with some of the more vitriolic responses, but it does feel a little safe and maybe a bit cowardly. I’m going to have to have to give this a bit more thought. Anyway, it’s time for dinner, but then I need to pack and try to get an early night.

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25 Responses to Off for a couple of weeks

  1. John Hartz says:

    An insightful perspective from a US teenager…

    Our country’s leaders have a problem, and it’s called apathy.

    There is no such thing as a “climate change denier” — only a person who doesn’t understand the problem enough to care. Climate change is happening, and it’s our cars, our cows, and our factories that are warming the earth and slowly bringing disaster. Which is why it makes me so upset that such a large number of our politicians consistently deny climate change and promote irresponsible corporate actions.

    I’m a 16-year-old from Cincinnati. “Climate change” was always a term I heard people toss around, but I didn’t think much of it until freshman year when my debate team was assigned the topic of carbon taxes. I was practically forced into doing hours of research on climate change, and as I became aware of the devastating consequences that are just on the horizon, I became passionate about protecting future generations from the mess we created. And I got really angry at our politicians for their consistent inaction.

    Why aren’t politicians doing more on climate change? Maybe because they’re so old.

    I’m a teenager. Unlike the average member of Congress, I’ll have to live with the devastation of climate change.

    Opinion by Sydney Sauer Vox, Jul 14, 2017,

  2. enjoy yourself! You do good work here. I appreciate your work. I get discouraged and frustrated about the situation. I don’t think that helps. Endless engagement without tangible results suggests best strategy is to walk away. I am mulling that, trying it, finding it quite difficult.

  3. BBD says:

    As seems to be something of a tradition, we too are having a couple of weeks off – arrived in Cornwall yesterday 🙂

    Enjoy the break away from the dark and foetid caves of the climate ‘debate’.

  4. small,

    Endless engagement without tangible results suggests best strategy is to walk away. I am mulling that, trying it, finding it quite difficult.

    I think I mull over this quite a lot myself, but – like you – find it quite difficult to just walk away.


    arrived in Cornwall yesterday

    Sounds good. Have been considering a holiday in Cornwall, but have never got around to actually arranging it.

  5. BBD says:

    It’s a jolly long way from the Glens, it’s true. But I reckon you’d enjoy the surf and wildlife.

  6. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Enjoy your time off. Think about posting fewer articlesin the future.

  7. I join everyone in wishing you a good holiday, aTTP. I don’t expect to see so much as a tweet from you for 2 weeks 🙂

  8. Mal Adapted says:

    John Hartz, you argue very well for a teenager ;^).

  9. Mal Adapted says:

    BTW, best wishes and carte blanche approval of any imaginable undertaking our host takes into his head 8^D!

  10. Mal Adapted says:

    Is the Stoat under DoS attack?

  11. Bob Loblaw says:

    Cornwall? Ah, yes. Know Cornwall very well…

  12. Marlowe Johnson says:

    “Some of the criticism could – in my view – have been a bit more charitable.”

    To put it mildly.

    On the one hand, i worry that the science police behaviour of Mann and the rest of the CF posse might dissuade other journalists/freelance writers from exploring the implications of the right-of-median-projections. On the other hand, I’m heartened by the fact that Eric Holthaus’s article in Rolling Stone and Wallace-Well’s articles in the New Yorker both blew the lid in terms of exposure. Money talks.

    At the end of the day, we need to shift the Overton Window on climate change, both in terms of the severity of likely impacts of a BAU trajectory, as well as the kinds of policies that governments can and should pursue to reach a *zero* emission economy.

  13. Keith McClary says:

    “person who doesn’t understand the problem enough to care”
    I would say:
    “person who doesn’t care enough to understand the problem”.

    Enjoy your break.

  14. russellseitz says:

    Surf is good fot the soul.

  15. angech says:

    Enjoy Cornwall, BBD. Close to Tintangel and King Arthur and Lorna Doone. Very jealous.
    ATTP avoid introspection, enjoy your break and come back refreshed.

  16. BBD says:


    I’m locked out of Greg Laden’s and Stoat – it looks like something very odd is going on at Science blogs.

  17. BBD says:

    Thanks angech. Not too far from Tintagel as it happens.

  18. Steven Mosher says:

    and I’m starting to be a little concerned that there is a fairly narrow region of parameter space that is regarded as acceptable. 。”

    like i said years ago…thin green lines.

    never cross them.

  19. Keith McClary says:

    Some old-timers at a garage sale this morning in our temporarily embarrassed coal mining town:
    “Sure is dry up by my place.”
    “Yeah, we don’t get much snow in the mountains like when we were kids.”
    “My dad used to send us up a ladder to shovel off the roof.”
    “Heck, we could just walk up a snowdrift to the roof.”
    “If we ever get snow like that again they’ll have to call a state of emergency, nobody would know what to do.”
    At this point some glances were exchanged. Nobody said the W word and the topic of discussion changed.

  20. Ragnaar says:

    About nuclear power and deniers:

    “On one side are what are often being called the ecomodernists—liberal scientists and activists like Hansen and philanthropist Bill Gates who put pragmatism and cost-benefit analysis ahead of ideology. Pushing back are old school environmentalists—Naomi Oreskes, Jim Green, Alan Jeffery and Paul Ehrlich, among others, who are deeply suspicious of the role of modern technology to address environmental challenges such as climate change; new energy extraction techniques such as fracking; or global food security—the GMO debate.”

    “In some ways, like Ehrlich, she’s inspirational. What Oreskes is most known for is what we can all support, at least in big picture terms: the importance of resolving high profile science and policy disputes by relying on top flight science experts—the subject of her well-received 2014 Ted talk on ‘science consensus’:

    If scientists don’t use a single method, then how do they decide what’s right and what’s wrong? And who judges? And the answer is, scientists judge, and they judge by judging evidence.”

    “She is a living embodiment of the Precautionary Principle, the European originated notion, fervently supported by old school environmentalists, that we should be wary about embracing change because of the potential for extreme collateral damage.”

    The link partly responds to ATTP’s link at the top.

    There is a consensus on using nuclear power and GMOs to solve problems.
    I am pro-nuclear and like small modular nuclear as likely being rolled out as safe and standardized. Their small size would make them suitable for a more distributed network and a more resilient grid. How about reliable baseload to charge our electric cars each night? This potential answer has been bottled up for decades by those making efforts to prevent and limit it. As the article points out, while nuclear is subsidized, so are wind and solar. The EIA has them getting at least 10 times more per megawatt hour compared to nuclear. I think wind and solar, partly for political reasons, will continue to be part of our approach. They are low density however. While nuclear is on the other end of the spectrum. Batteries currently also suffer from this low densisty problem because their weight is part of an electric car system.

  21. Susan Anderson says:

    I’ve stayed in every hostel in Cornwall, and particularly recommend St. Just (Porth Nanven). Right next to Cape Cornwall. Was lucky to get a stay in Brisons Veor while I was there, and miss the West Country a lot. It is my understanding that hostels have gone a bit upscale and cater to families these days. Gorgeous spot.

  22. danialcblog says:

    Every 4 years or so ATTP says it’s all too much and threatens to pull up stumps.
    Oh well. And then there’s Sou.

  23. Susan

    The trouble with the Cornish, and I know it is scarcely believable, is that when they eat a cream tea, they cut the scones in half then put the jam on first and then the cream. As every right thinking Devonian, such as me, knows you put the cream on first and then the jam.

    They are going to hell in a hand cart.

  24. angech says:

    Should be back,now.
    Little change while away.
    Bit like the share market.
    Good / bad news comes in clumps, then hours or weeks of tedium.
    Mentioned elsewhere but Lucia and Anthony also away. No chance you met up with them?

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