It’s dangerous!

There’s a recent Nature Climate Change article by Shinichiro Asayam, Rob Bellamy, Oliver Geden, Warren Pearce and Mike Hulme. It’s called Why setting a climate deadline is dangerous. The basic idea is that the rise in political rhetoric that sets a fixed deadline for decisive action on climate change can be dangerous, and that the IPCC should take responsibility for its report and openly challenge the credibility of such a deadline.

This relates to recent rhetoric suggesting that we have 12 years to avoid a climate catastrophe. I have a number of problems with what this article suggests. Firstly, as others have pointed out on Twitter, this 12 year deadline is presented in a number of different ways, some of which are entirely consistent with what is presented in the IPCC reports. Even the Guardian article – used as an example in the paper – correctly describes what is presented in the IPCC report: Carbon pollution would have to be cut by 45% by 2030 – compared with a 20% cut under the 2C pathway – and come down to zero by 2050. Some of the rhetoric does indeed incorrectly represent what is being presented by the IPCC, but this has been criticised by climate scientists.

The other issue I have, is why target this rhetoric? Why not highlight that it’s dangerous to promote climate science denial? What about Lukewarmerism? Is being alarmist dangerous? Is being too optimistic about our ability to solve this problem dangerous? What about being too pessimistic? Is it not dangerous to promote a narrative that suggests we should delay acting on climate change? Maybe it’s also dangerous to suggest that we should take drastic action now? Given that any public rhetoric about this complex topic is likely to be simplistic, it’s probably pretty easy to find some reason to criticise what is presented.

The article also claims that

Climate change is a ‘wicked social problem’, one that must be resolved and renegotiated, over and over again22. Deadline-ism is at once both ineffectual and self-defeating.

I’ve discussed this issue before and, in my view, it’s simply wrong. We’ll always live in a world were climatic events can have a lot of impact. We also can’t avoid there being periods when the climate changes; we’re not going to turn off volcanoes, stop solar variability, or halt internal climate variability. However, in this context climate change refers to anthropogenically-driven climate change which is almost entirely due to our emission of greenhouse gases and aerosols into the atmosphere. We do have a solution for this; get net emissions to zero. This may be complex and difficult, but it’s not wicked.

Also, the 22 in the above quote is a citation to a paper by Reiner Grundmann, that I discussed in this post. I’ve discussed Reiner Grundmann’s work on a number of occasions and have mostly been unimpressed. Something that I’ve never discussed, and for which he should probably be better known, is that he once suggested that [t]here is an eerie similarity between race science and climate science. I’ll leave it to the readers to judge the significance of this.

The final issue I have with the article is that it’s a classic blame the messenger framing. The issue isn’t what is presented in the IPCC reports, but how it’s been interpreted, and used, by some who are promoting drastic action. I think it’s perfectly fine for climate scientists to call out those who misrepresent the science, but it’s not their fault that some have done so. The IPCC also doesn’t really have a group who could easily go around criticising those who misrepresent what is in their reports. They have administrative staff, but the reports are written by scientists who volunteer their time; there isn’t really a formal IPCC group who can then go around criticising those who misrepresent what the reports present. Maybe there should be, but there currently isn’t. Also, they’d have to be very careful that they didn’t then go from being an organisation that was policy relevant to one that was becoming policy prescriptive.

So, as you can tell, I’m not particularly taken with the article. There is more that could be said, but I’m trying, and failing, to keep this short. I’m going to end with some additional context about some of the authors that may, or may not, be useful.

The authors:
Since some may be new to this topic, I thought I might provide some additional context. I’ll express some of my own views, but people should make their own minds up about the relevance.

Oliver Geden has made similar arguments before. He’s criticised temperature targets, the inclusion of negative emission technologies in some of the scenarios, and now deadline-ism (a word that the authors appear to have made up). There’s typically some truth to what he presents and I’ve sometimes found it interesting to engage with his arguments. However, I think they’re often simplistic and tend to have (as is the case here) a blame the messenger framing. Overall, I don’t find his contributions particularly helpful or constructive.

Warren Pearce has also been an author of a paper that criticised the IPCC press conference and suggested that it was incoherent. A number of us wrote a response in which we pointed out that they appeared to have misunderstood the terminology and that some of what they presented was simply not true. Warren Pearce also wrote a Guardian article asking if climate skeptics [were] the real champions of the scientific method? To be fair, his conclusion wasn’t yes but he certainly painted some well-known “skeptics” in a much more favourable light than many would regard as reasonable.

Warren Pearce has also been critical of consensus messaging (Reiner Grundmann and Mike Hulme were also amongst the authors of this paper). In this context, Warren Pearce once provided a platform for Ben Pile to criticise consensus messaging. If anyone has come across Ben Pile, you may be rather surprised by this since his understanding of this topic is woefully poor.

In the comments to that post, Mike Hulme (one of the authors of the article I was discussing above) suggested that Ben Pile was spot on. Again, if you’ve come across Ben Pile, you’ll be well aware that if you were ever about to utter the words Ben Pile is spot on the sensible thing to do would be to go back and check again that he is indeed spot on. It would probably be worth checking a couple of times, just to be sure. It’s not that Ben Pile can’t be spot on, but it’s very unlikely. Don’t forget that even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Maybe it’s unfair to highlight the above, but it does provide some insights into views that some of the authors have expressed publicly. I certainly don’t find them particularly constructive voices. That, however, is mostly because I think that we should be finding ways to reduce our emissions as fast as possible while also taking into account various relevant societal and political factors. I also think we should be supporting those who are trying to communicate the importance of this topic, not criticising them because sometimes others use this information in sub-optimal ways. Of course, if you have a different preference (for example, if your preference is to delay acting on climate change), then you may find them to be constructive voices.

Links:
Why setting a climate deadline is dangerous – paper by Asayama, Bellamy, Geden, Pearce and Hulme.
Posts I’ve written about some of Oliver Geden’s other presentations.
The power of scientific knowledge – guest post by Reiner Grundmann on Roger Pielke Jr’s blog in which he suggests there is an eerie similarity between race science and climate science.
Are climate sceptics the real champions of the scientific method? – Guardian article by Warren Pearce in which he asks if climate sceptics are the real champions of the scientific method.
Beyond counting climate consensus – article by Pearce, Grundmann, Hulme et al. in which they criticise consensus messaging.
Response by John Cook to the Pearce et al. article above.
What’s behind the battle of received wisdom? – guest post by Ben Pile on the University of Nottingham’s Making Science Public blog in which he criticises consensus messaging, and where Mike Hulme (in the comments) claims that Ben Pile is spot on.
An accurately informed public is neccessary for climate policy – response by Dana Nuccitelli to the above post.
Point Counterpoint – Rabett Run post highlighting that Mike Hulme once told Paul Price that the reason you and I disagree about climate change is that you care about future generations and I don’t.

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126 Responses to It’s dangerous!

  1. In a brief Twitter exchange, Oliver Geden seemed to suggest that the use of “dangerous” in their title was ironic and was being misinterpreted. This itself seemed rather ironic, since a key part of their article is about how some are misinterpreting what is presented in IPCC reports. It also seems to suggest that they were somewhat mocking the use of the term “dangerous”. It can certainly be overused, but there are certainly occasions when it seems reasonable. For example, if we fail to meet some of the deadlines that the articule was criticising, then there’s an increasing chance that climate change will be dangerous.

  2. jamesannan says:

    ” I think it’s perfectly fine for climate scientists to call out those who misrepresent the science, but it’s not their fault that some have done so.”

    Is it also perfectly fine for hundreds of scientists to write in explicit support of activists who misrepresent the science in this way?

  3. James,

    Is it also perfectly fine for hundreds of scientists to write in explicit support of activists who misrepresent the science in this way?

    I would say “no”, but what’s the context?

  4. Andrew Dessler says:

    It’s hard to believe anyone thought, “Let’s spend a few weeks working on this oped about deadline-ism.” Seriously, this entire piece is a huge waste of time and will immediately be forgotten.

  5. Andrew,
    You may well be right. It’s getting a fair amount of coverage on Twitter, but that’s mostly amongst those who are already engaged in the discussion. It probably won’t go much further than that.

  6. Joshua says:

    would say “no”, but what’s the context?

    I think he must be referring to the Cornwall Alliance. 😊

  7. Joshua says:

    It’s getting a fair amount of coverage on Twitter,

    Hard to imagine a more harsh criticism of its value.

  8. I read the paper, I wasn’t impressed either. I especially disliked the blanket labeling of statements about deadlines as “rhetoric”. It may well be merely someone’s rational assessment of the situation we are in. It is especially ironic when the paper itself is full of rhetoric, even in the first paragraph:

    However, the dangers of such deadline rhetoric suggest the need for the IPCC to take responsibility for its report and openly challenge the credibility of such a deadline.

    This is implying that the IPCC is not taking responsibility for its reports, as they don’t openly challenge misrepresentations that crop up in the political debate (or indeed the scientific discussion AFAICS). I think this test of “taking responsibility” is entirely specious. The IPCC is responsible for its reports in the sense of taking great care to get the content right, and having an open procedure for compiling them and dealing with errors that are identified (it would be absurd to think such a large document doesn’t have any). AFAICS the IPCC does this, and there is no onus on them to correct other people.

    Another bit of rhetoric:

    … This discursive translation of danger may help to increase a sense of urgency, as evidenced by the recent emergence of a youth climate movement. However, it also creates the condition in which a climate emergency is being rashly declared, a move that could lead to politically dangerous consequences.

    note “is being”, rather than “may be”.

    I really don’t understand how a paper from STS/communication of science could suggest that the IPCC should police the political debate in the way the authors suggest. It would immediately open them up to accusations of political bias and thus devalue their position as the “authoritative voice” on the science. It seems to me that would be a far more dangerous thing to do than “deadline messaging”. But perhaps that is a feature rather than a bug.

    Like the “consensus messaging is bad” issue, where the obvious question is “well, how should we react to claims that there is no consensus? (c.f. Luntz memo)” and the answer is “[tumbleweed]”, the question here is what should we be saying instead?

    The general public is inhomogenous and different messages will work or fail in different subsections, so we ought to have more than one approach, and take the approach ourselves which we think correctly represents what we believe to be the truth. Just pointing out that there will be downsides to some particular approach isn’t very constructive, or useful, and I’m not sure why it merits publication in Nature Climate Change. What have we learned?

    Apart from that, it’s fine.

  9. ” The IPCC also doesn’t really have a group who could easily go around criticising those who misrepresent what is in their reports. ”

    indeed, and we already have ClimateFeedback, which does, and IMHO is doing a rather good job.

  10. One reason I find these kind of articles frustrating is that the same authors highlight how there is a complex link between information, societal acceptance, and policy action. Any suggestion that the link between information, acceptance, and action is simple leads to accusations of deficit model thinking. However, as soon as something starts to appear to be effective (consensus messaging, deadline-ism) the same people criticise it for not being entirely consistent with the information. It just seems inconsistent.

  11. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==>
    However, as soon as something starts to appear to be effective (consensus messaging, deadline-ism)…

    What leads you to that conclusion regarding consensus messaging and “deadline-ism?”

  12. Joshua,
    Okay, this point 🙂

    Yes, I don’t know if they’re actually being effective, but they do seem to have some kind of impact. All I was really suggesting was that there seems to be this pushback from people whenever something seems to be having impact. Yet, the same people will suggest that there isn’t a simple way to connect information, acceptance, and action. If the link between information, acceptance, and action is not simple. In other words, you can’t simply provide information, explain it careful, get people to accept it, get them to recognise the importance of doing something, and then get politicians to act.

    As I understand it, what you need are ways to frame things that will appeal to the public and to policy makers. Unless I’m missing something, such framings will be inherently simplistic and will almost certainly not properly represent the full complexity of an issue. If this is what is needed, why then do the very people who criticise deficit model thinking then go and criticise framings that appear to be having impact for not correctly representing the issue. Seems inconsistent to me.

  13. The pushback against “deadline-ism” makes sense when you look at one of the points you make:

    “That, however, is mostly because I think that we should be finding ways to reduce our emissions as fast as possible while also taking into account various relevant societal and political factors.”

    “we should be finding ways”– 30 year into this we have some ways. We’re in the stage of arguing over which ones to adopt and no amount of deadline-ism is changing it. Climate activists steadfastly refuse options they don’t like, deniers and lukewarmers steadfastly refuse options they don’t like, and political partisans enjoy the division. You can’t put a deadline on something the climate activists themselves wont do.

    “to reduce our emissions as fast as possible while also taking into account various relevant societal and political factors”— After dozens of international gatherings on the issue of climate change, precisely zero countries are actually reducing emissions with any speed and most aren’t doing so at all. This is true in nations without a single denier, in countries where it’s illegal to be a Republican, in countries with and without capitalism, in countries with and without fossil fuels to even burn. The main drivers of that fact are 1. the world leaders still insist on a global policy of ‘you wreck your economy first, then maybe I’ll do it some day’ and 2. Easter Bunny solutions. No matter how long it takes and how much it costs, only Easter Bunnies!

  14. Joshua “What leads you to that conclusion regarding consensus messaging”

    the Luntz memo?

  15. … and other climate-skeptic efforts to promulgate the idea that there is no consensus.

    The interesting question for me is not why isn’t giving people facts about the consensus helpful, but why do so few accept that there is a scientific consensus to begin with (if not because of said skeptic efforts)?

  16. jeff,
    That we have largely failed to reduce our emissions doesn’t necessarily mean that we shouldn’t consider any deadlines. Of course, if we didn’t have them, then we couldn’t miss them. That doesn’t somehow mean that the impacts would be different. We could go for climate policy that we could actually implement, but – as far as I can see – that might end up being policies that do little to address climate change. The goal isn’t to implement something that we can call climate policy the goal is to do things that will actually give us a chance of avoiding some of the more severe impacts of climate change.

  17. Willard says:

    > this entire piece is a huge waste of time and will immediately be forgotten.

    Audits never end.

    I do hope that the word “paradigm” occurs in the comment:

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2015/05/die-paradigmgemeinschaft.html

  18. Joshua says:

    dikran –

    Yes, Luntz was convinced that crafting the rhetoric in a particular way would have a particular impact and the Luntz memo suggests a particular effect in one context with a particular constituency, but I wouldn’t call it evidence of that effect (maybe close enough for jazz there).

    More to my point, I certainly don’t consider it evidence of a different (reverse) effect, coming from a different source, in a different time, with a somewhat different constituency.

    I get that it might suggest that effect. I’m not convinced the arguments that consensus-messaging has an opposite effect (as is often asserted by folks such as the authors of the article in question). But I don’t think it’s particularly useful to assume a particular effect (particularly absent real-world evidence).

  19. John Hartz says:

    The opening paragraphs of another (hot-off-the-press) article critically important to the issues raised in this OP.

    Do you remember the good old days when we had “12 years to save the planet”?

    Now it seems, there’s a growing consensus that the next 18 months will be critical in dealing with the global heating crisis, among other environmental challenges.

    Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that to keep the rise in global temperatures below 1.5C this century, emissions of carbon dioxide would have to be cut by 45% by 2030.

    But today, observers recognise that the decisive, political steps to enable the cuts in carbon to take place will have to happen before the end of next year.

    The idea that 2020 is a firm deadline was eloquently addressed by one of the world’s top climate scientists, speaking back in 2017.

    “The climate math is brutally clear: While the world can’t be healed within the next few years, it may be fatally wounded by negligence until 2020,” said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founder and now director emeritus of the Potsdam Climate Institute.

    Climate change: 12 years to save the planet? Make that 18 months by Matt McGrath, Science & Environment, BBC News, July 24, 2019

    https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-48964736

  20. Steven Mosher says:

    The deadline is now 18 months.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-48964736

    I’m sure it you looked at all the things that need to happen to hit that 18 month
    deadline there is probably some deadline that has to be hit tommorrow or we all die.

  21. Steven Mosher says:

    opps sorry john

  22. Joshua so there has been a lot of skeptic effort put into popularising the idea that there is no consensus and the public perception of the existence of a consensus is clearly at variance with the objective truth of the matter, but this is not evidence that messaging about the consensus is effective?

    “More to my point, I certainly don’t consider it evidence of a different (reverse) effect, coming from a different source, in a different time, with a somewhat different constituency. ”

    This seems rather like the constant refinements to a bad theory to evade a falsification (c.f. Svensmark’s galactic cosmic ray theory) that probably wouldn’t have impressed Popper very much (or Occam for that matter). Evidence has to come from a particular source, and a particular time or a different constituency, so you can always say that.

    Evidence is very rarely binary, either it is evidence or it isn’t. It is usually continuous, and sheds light to some degree. We may disagree about how much of a degree, but that would be progress towards agreement.

    Personally if being told the truth is divisive, then I think any political discussion on climate change is fairly pointless.

  23. daveburton says:

    Re: “Even the Guardian article correctly describes what is presented in the IPCC report: Carbon pollution[sic] would have to be cut by 45% by 2030 – compared with a 20% cut under the 2C pathway – and come down to zero by 2050.
    …We do have a solution for this; get net emissions to zero “

    Contra-scientific claims that anthropogenic CO2 emissions must be lowered to zero to stop the rise in CO2 levels, and the idiotic invention of an imaginary “carbon budget,” annoy me.

    We know that, with CO2 at 410 ppmv, Negative feedbacks (terrestrial greening, dissolution in the oceans, calcifying coccolithophores, etc.) are currently removing the equivalent of about 2.5 ppmv of CO2 from the atmosphere every year (and the rate is increasing). So the only reason CO2 levels are still rising, in spite of those removals, as that we’re emitting even more (nearly twice that).

    Since the CO2 removal rate is at least half the current anthropogenic CO2 emission rate, if anthropogenic CO2 emission rates were merely halved, CO2 levels would completely cease rising, even as we blew through the imaginary “carbon budget.”

    (Caveat: if CO2 emissions were permanently frozen at half the current rate, the atmospheric CO2 concentration would eventually begin to very slowly creep up again, as increased biomass (from greening) caused increased CO2 emissions from decaying biomass. But not much, and certainly not worrisomely.)

    All of the environmental consequences (good and bad, real and imaginary) of anthropogenic CO2 depend on the level (concentration) in the atmosphere. None of the environmental consequences depend on cumulative emissions.

    That’s why the flurry of “carbon budget” papers and articles are all wildly unscientific.

  24. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    > All I was really suggesting was that there seems to be this pushback from people whenever something seems to be having impact.

    Well, it’s having an impact on them. They don’t like it. So they push back. The problem, IMO, is that they overstep the evidence to conclude a wider impact beyond themselves, and I agree with you that is dubious and in particular, in an odd configuration with their overall argument about responsible rhetoric.

    > As I understand it, what you need are ways to frame things that will appeal to the public and to policy makers. Unless I’m missing something, such framings will be inherently simplistic and will almost certainly not properly represent the full complexity of an issue.

    I don’t think there’s a clear understanding of how to frame things in this context so as to have the desired outcome. The context of the climate wars is a problematic context, IMO. My sense is that people are just at the very beginning of understanding the effect of communication strategies in this context – and are certainly far from drawing conclusions.

    > If this is what is needed, why then do the very people who criticise deficit model thinking then go and criticise framings that appear to be having impact for not correctly representing the issue. Seems inconsistent to me.

    I kind of expect it. People see evidence that deficit model strategies are ineffective (and I think often are overly certain w/r/t their conclusions in that regard) and get stuck in a hammer/nail loop. They kind of flail around with no real goal or orientation because not knowing is rather intolerable. So inevitably they contract their own arguments.

  25. Just to clarify a few things. It seems pretty clear that the impact of 3C of warming will be much greater than that of 2C of warming, and that 2C of warming will have more impact that 1.5C of warming. If we wish to avoid some of the more severe impacts of climate change than we have to find a way to limit how much warming we undergo and that will require getting net emissions to zero without going over some carbon budget.

    If we want to limit warming to 1.5C it will require almost halving emissions by ~2030 and, consequently, peaking emissions sooner than that. Will highlighting such deadlines help to achieve such a goal? I don’t know. Will avoid pointing out these deadlines help? I don’t know, but it seems unlikely.

    FWIW, I think it’s unlikely that we can do enough to limit warming to 1.5C. It may even now be too late to realistically limit warming to 2C. This doesn’t, however, mean that these deadlines were wrong. It just means that we will probably not meet them.

  26. Joshua,

    I kind of expect it. People see evidence that deficit model strategies are ineffective (and I think often are overly certain w/r/t their conclusions in that regard) and get stuck in a hammer/nail loop. They kind of flail around with no real goal or orientation because not knowing is rather intolerable. So inevitably they contract their own arguments.

    Yes, but this is meant to be scholarship, not people flailing around because they don’t like some arguments and because they have some sense that certain strategies don’t work.

  27. Dave,

    Since the CO2 removal rate is at least half the current anthropogenic CO2 emission rate, if anthropogenic CO2 emission rates were merely halved, CO2 levels would completely cease rising, even as we blew through the imaginary “carbon budget.”

    This is wrong. If we halved CO2 emissions, the atmospheric CO2 levels would continue to rise. Essentially, you have a set of fluxes that depend on the concentrations in each carbon reservoir (atmosphere, ocean, biosphere). If we halved our emissions, then the fluxes would adjust so that the ocean was taking up less than it currently is and atmospheric CO2 concentrations would continue to go up.

  28. Joshua says:

    dikran –

    > Joshua so there has been a lot of skeptic effort put into popularising the idea that there is no consensus and the public perception of the existence of a consensus is clearly at variance with the objective truth of the matter,..

    Agreed. But (1) that’s water under the bridge and (2) that doesn’t mean that an opposite rhetoric will have an opposite effect, now.

    I’d love to see evidence, in a real world context, to examine for such an effect. It seems to me like it should be relatively easy to conduct a study where you examine for the effect of levels of exposure people have had to real world exposure to consensus messaging to test for whether there has been an effect on views about the consensus among people along different demographic variables.

    > but this is not evidence that messaging about the consensus is effective?

    Doesn’t look like it to me. It looks to me like (indirect) evidence of an opposite effect, largely among a different cohort, from largely a different time frame. Again, it doesn’t seem to me to be well supported to assume that consensus-messaging with have a particular (opposite) effect, with a different cohort (i.e., people who are less inclined to be accepting of messages from people of Luntz’s orientation).

    For example, I think that at the time of the Luntz memo, climate change was somewhat less of a polarized issue. (There’s a fair amount of evidence of that if you look at the changes over time in the public positions of Republican politicians on the issue of climate change). My impression is that at that time, public opinion was less fixed along the spectrum political ideology – and thus more malleable to overt ideological signalling. The media and reactions to the media are generally, also, more atomized by political orientation. I think that probably has an effect on the impact of various rhetorical strategies. Whereas back in the day, maybe more people would shift in their view because of messaging from Luntz’s messaging sources, today fewer people are open-minded to (1) messaging on climate change and (2) messaging on climate change from sources that lie outside their preferred echo chamber.

  29. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    > Yes, but this is meant to be scholarship, not people flailing around because they don’t like some arguments and because they have some sense that certain strategies don’t work.

    I agree. Although I also think that it’s inevitable that there will be inconsistencies and over-reactions and contradictions as people gather evidence over time and test their theories. I look at it a bit as like playing devil’s advocate. You try on perspectives and see where they go. But yes, the lack of appreciation for uncertainty, and the inability to anticipate and incorporate obvious counter-perspectives is frustrating and often at bit shocking. And the triballistic nature of how this plays out is, IMO, definitely sub-optimal.

  30. Dave, as a “back of the envelope” answer, the reason that approximately half of anthropogenic emissions are absorbed is because the carbon cycle is reasonably approximated on short time scales by a first order linear differential equation. If you drive a first order linear DE with an exponentially increasing signal, for instance anthropogenic carbon emissions, then the response will be an exponential with the same time rate constant, and the ratio of the two will be a constant value (in this case, about a half). If you stop increasing the input exponentially, you won’t get a constant fraction absorbed anymore. This is discussed briefly in my paper; Nick Stokes has something similar on his [jolly good] blog.

    However that is just an approximation, to get a useful quantitative prediction, you need a much more accurate model.

  31. “Agreed. But (1) that’s water under the bridge”

    That doesn’t mean it is not evidence or has no bearing. I’m sorry, but dismissing evidence like this makes it impossible for your position to be falsified. I know that this is not a scientific discussion, but I think falsification is a useful consideration (but not a requirement) for essentially any rational discussion.

  32. Joshua says:

    And the triballistic nature of how this plays out is, IMO, definitely sub-optimal.

    I need to walk that back. I really don’t know whether the tribalistic nature has a positive or negative effect. My gut reaction is negative, but I think there are some valid reasons to think that being tribal on this issue has a beneficial outcome, such as moving the Overton Window. But it’s certainly clear that many people, including the authors of this article, think that lumping people together into groups and shaming and blaming will bring about a better result.

  33. Joshua,
    But if this is meant to be people providing serious advice about a complex, and important topic, then it would seem that they really should do much better than simply presenting arguments based on their sense of what is right, and what isn’t.

  34. Everett F Sargent says:

    millenarianism?

    “The doctrine of or belief in a future (and typically imminent) thousand-year age of blessedness, beginning with or culminating in the Second Coming of Christ. It is central to the teaching of groups such as Plymouth Brethren, Adventists, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

    Oh OK then, the agnostic/atheist ingredients are:

    (1) Sandwich board.
    (2) Soapbox.
    (3) Megaphone.
    (3) Any street corner with as many people as possible passing you by.

    There is no such thing as deadline-ism. we know this because every time millenarianism deadlines occur they ALWAYS kick that can ever further down the timeline of human history.

    I’m much more concerned with said authors valetudinarianism. 😉

  35. I do of course realise why anti-consensus messaging is more likely to be accepted than consensus messaging – it isn’t rocket science – none of us want to give up our [comparatively] comfortable lifestyles. However I also find it hard to believe that there are so few people in society for whom being shown they are factually incorrect doesn’t change their mind that consensus messaging is ineffective. Yes, so it will harden the incorrect belief of the most partisan, but nothing would be effective for them anyway. Perhaps that depends on which side of the Atlantic you are on.

  36. Everett F Sargent says:

    OK, left out a 3rd “(3)”

    (3) Flyers.

  37. Joshua says:

    dikran –

    I’m sorry, but dismissing evidence like this makes it impossible for your position to be falsified.

    No doubt. I don’t think there is sufficient evidence either way to make falsifiable arguments. I’m not suggesting I have a convincing argument of a particular effect. I’m saying I”m not convinced of the argument that consensus-messaging works, and particularly not because anti-consensus messaging was the choice of a particular set of political operatives, targeting a (rather) particular cohort of recipients, in a materially different context (I think we have evidence that receptivity towards climate change messaging, if not political messaging more generally, has changed since the time of Luntz’s memo). If Luntz’s memo convinces you that consensus-messaging today changes a materially significant number of minds about the level of consensus, or even more importantly about the value of certain climate change policies, that’s fine. It doesn’t convince me.

  38. Joshua says:

    dikran –

    Perhaps that depends on which side of the Atlantic you are on.

    Yes, definitely a factor.

  39. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    But if this is meant to be people providing serious advice about a complex, and important topic, then it would seem that they really should do much better than simply presenting arguments based on their sense of what is right, and what isn’t.

    I agree.

  40. “If Luntz’s memo convinces you that consensus-messaging today changes a materially significant number of minds about the level of consensus…”

    That is misrepresenting my position. I said it was evidence, I don’t think I said anything more than that. I also didn’t say that I was convinced that it does change a materialy significant number of minds (although that is a meaninglessly vague criterion). The point is that I think it is better than letting the anti-consensus messaging go completely unchecked. Even if it is not “effective” (again, without stating the goal, that is ambiguous), it is the right thing to do anyway as it is the truth.

  41. BTW I am a Bayesian, it isn’t about convinced or unconvinced, it is about assessing relative plausibilities.

  42. Even the Guardian article correctly describes what is presented in the IPCC report: Carbon pollution would have to be cut by 45% by 2030 – compared with a 20%* cut under the 2C pathway

    Close, but as of 2019, according to the IPCC SR1.5, we need to cut by about 51% and 33% by 2030 to stay on a path for 1.5°C and 2.0°C, respectively. Specifically, the report calls reductions by 2030 of 45% and 25%* from 2010 levels. So, instead of “leisurely” annual reductions of 5% or 2.5%, we’re in reality facing rates more like 6.3% and 3.6%…

    Although what we ultimately face is a quantitative budget for cumulative emissions, so, strictly speaking, there is no time dimension and hence no “deadlines, the reality is that the cumulative emissions are defined by the integral of current emissions over time. So time is a key variable after all, and it is entirely reasonable to discuss what this means in terms of reasonable” deadlines”.

    “Vicious integrals” as Hans Schellnhuber called them a decade or more ago.

    As to the “18 months” points above. Again, the integrals matter. If we’re not declining in the next few years, certain budgets become effectively unattainable. What is wrong with pointing out these fairly obvious signposts?

    If you were, say, trying to train an athlete for the 2020 Olympics, or build a bridge, say, for those same Olympics, who would have have a plan that included no interim deadlines and key metrics targeted for those deadlines??? What business runs this way?? Why should climate action be uniquely denied what is basically standard operating procedures in all other areas of life??

    * it’s 25% cuts from 2010 in IPCC SR1.5, not 20% as The Guardian asserts…

  43. Rust,
    Fair enough, I hadn’t realised the cuts were relative to 2010. However, the Guardian article at least described it as substantial emission reductions by 2030 and net zero by 2050. The headline is probably sub-optimal, but the point is more that some of the “12 years” rhetoric does try to correctly present the scientific information (it’s not just “12 years or we’ve left it too late and must simply give up”).

  44. FWIW, I gather there is good evidence that the “consensus gap” has been closing (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2158244016676296 – note I haven’t actually read it, just seen it in previous discussions of this topic). Of course that can’t be directly attributed to consensus communication, but it is evidence that it may have been effective and it would seem odd to argue that it has not been a contributing factor.

    Of course in principle it would be possible to perform some sort of controlled trial of the sort Joshua mentioned earlier, but it is very unlikely that anyone would pay for such a survey (given that there are much more important questions to answer), and the practicalities of it seem rather large. This seems to me to be an example of an “impossible expectation”.

  45. My problem with the “2 degree target” and “12 years” is that it frames the problem about long term targets instead of near term implementation. I would want a focus on what carbon mechanisms should be implemented in the next 5 years. Carbon prices, renewable fuel standards, subsidies for carbon-free energy sources, reforestation, whatever. Just start doing as much as we can, where we can, and see how we are doing and what works best.

    Part of it is that I’m cynical that we’ll even achieve 2 degrees, and I think that the negotiation time and energy spent on 2 degrees is sucking away from better things. (I think similarly about the focus on plastic straws rather than plastic pollution more broadly, etc.)

  46. tw2017 says:

    I tend to agree more with these climates scientists as quoted in the Axios article linked above:

    Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University, told Axios that the idea that there is only a finite amount of time to fix climate change is the wrong way to look at the problem. She summed up the IPCC’s 1.5-degree report this way: “Every action matters. Every bit of warming matters. Every year matters. Every choice matters.”

    Hayhoe says she worries that deadlines will make people treat climate change more cavalierly to start, since 12 years can seem like a long time.
    The rhetoric used by Ocasio-Cortez and many others in favor of bold action suggests that either scientists or the media, or both, got the IPCC report wrong.

    Andrea Dutton, a paleoclimate researcher at the University of Florida, said the 12-year deadline became attractive for media headlines in spite a lack of support from the IPCC report itself:

    “For some reason the media latched onto the 12 years (2030), presumably because they thought that it helped to get across the message of how quickly we are approaching this and hence how urgently we need action. Unfortunately, this has led to a complete mischaracterization of what the report said.”
    Reality check: “All the time-limited frames are bullshit,” Gavin Schmidt, who leads NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, told Axios in an email. “Nothing special happens when the ‘carbon budget’ runs out or we pass whatever temperature target you care about, instead the costs of emissions steadily rise,” he said. The IPCC report, for example, found the impacts worsen considerably beyond 1.5°C of warming.

    “The thing to push back against is the implicit framing that there is some magic global mean temperature or total emissions that separate ‘fine’ from ‘catastrophic’. There just isn’t,” Schmidt said.

  47. tw2017,
    Yes, I also agree with those climate scientists. I should probably have made clearer in the article that I do worry that focusing on deadlines can be counter-productive. However, not all of the rhetoric is wrong and I do think it’s worth pointing out that if we want to limit warming to something like 2C, then we need to start reducing emissions soon and get to ~net zero by about the middle of this century.

  48. tw2017 says:

    “All the time-limited frames are bullshit,” Gavin Schmidt, seems to make it very clear what he thinks about this time-limited framing of the issue.

  49. tw2017,
    Indeed, and I think that anyone who says something like “if we don’t do x within 12 years, then catastrophe will ensue and there will be nothing we can do” is simply wrong. There are not fixed boundaries beyond which we will have failed and should give up and inside which everything will be fine. The impacts are likely to be non-linear (i.e., the difference between 3C of warming relative to 2C will be much greater than between 2C and 1C). However, there will never be a time when there is no point in trying to reduce our emissions (any reduction will count, however late).

    On the other hand, people who say something like “if we want to limit warming to 1.5C we would need to peak emissions within the next few years, reduce them by almost 50% by around 2030, and get net emissions to ~zero by about 2050” would be broadly consistent with the scientific evidence.

    So, like those in the article you highlighted I agree that there are real issues with any framing that suggests we have x years or else we should give up. That doesn’t, however, mean that every time a timeframe is mentioned that it’s wrong. Some have indeed tried hard to be consistent with the evidence.

  50. But there *ARE* deadlines associated with desired outcomes.

    If I want to lose 300 pounds for my wedding next year, or build a skyscraper for my honeymoon, and I leave starting my diet or building the foundation until early July 2020, I miss those outcomes. Saying there are no deadlines is the bullshit.

    And there are going to be “time-limited frames” that *do* have real-life consequences for the carbon budget and temperature if we miss them. Let’s see if we can think of any. Hmmm. Oh, here’s one! When would we need to begin acting to avoid 700GtC cumulative emissions and/or ~ 1.1°C? Oh…

    Sure, we can (and likely will!) keep settling for (and committing to) worse and worse outcomes, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t missing deadlines along the way that really foreclose on certain outcomes…

  51. Jeffh says:

    Let’s be honest here. The time-limited frames have emerged from the ether because, despite repeated warnings from scientists over several decades, we have done little or nothing about climate change. Humans put about twice as much CO2 into the atmosphere in 2018 as we did in 1990; in 25 of the past 26 years we put more CO2 into the atmosphere than the previous year. There can be no sugar-coating of the predicament: we are in deep, deep trouble no matter what we do. Whereas I of course applaud the noble efforts of Hayhoe, Schmidt and others to keep clinging to the mantra of ‘hope’, inevitably it masks the true magnitude of the situation. The window is closing, closing, closing and in the end does it really matter if the shit well and truly hits the fan in 2030, 2050 or 2070? As an ecologist, I see the harmful signs of warming all around me. I am focusing my attention these days on the ecological effects of extreme climate-related events such as searing heat waves, droughts and cloudbursts. These are pushing species and systems to and beyond their adaptive capacity. We are experiencing a heat wave of incredible intensity in the Netherlands, where I work, right now. Last year’s heat and drought left a huge ecological legacy, only to be amplified by this record-breaking heat. I don’t pay much attention to time-frames, but this in no way downplays the fact that we are running out of time,

  52. Don’t know how “skyscraper” got misspelled, because that other word never even crossed my mind, if someone wants to edit that, thanks..

    [Mod: fixed.]

  53. Jeffh,

    The time-limited frames have emerged from the ether because, despite repeated warnings from scientists over several decades, we have done little or nothing about climate change.

    Yes, this is one issue I have. We have clearly done very little and one reason people are starting to promote deadlines is to encourage people to take this much more seriously. Suggesting that this is now the problem seems highly disingenuous. The real problem is our lack of action over the last couple of decades.

  54. Normally clear-headed people apparently seem to somehow lose it when “thresholds and deadlines” are mooted with respect to climate change.

    If someone walked into the room and said:

    “When it comes to
    business
    training for athletics
    going to the moon
    architecture/construction/engineering
    responding to an RFP
    planting this year’s crops
    play along! try and think of one!
    etc., etc., etc.
    , setting arbitrary thresholds and deadlines in the future misses so many points, and hurts our ability to motivate action.”

    … the rest of the room would be “who is this idjit?”.

    I guess climate, carbon budgets and mitigation are “special”.

  55. “That we have largely failed to reduce our emissions doesn’t necessarily mean that we shouldn’t consider any deadlines.”

    It should call in question strategy. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Adding a deadline to that process doesn’t make it better. Adding a deadline without doing things differently merely guarantees missing the deadline.

    One other point- a deadline is only valuable when it presupposes a defined task. “Reduce emissions” is not a defined task, it’s a desired outcome of many tasks.
    “I really should go to Italy in the next 2 years” isn’t a deadline.
    “By the end of this month, I need to book a hotel in Rome for October 2020”, is a deadline.

    The former invites endless debate- Venice? Rome, Florence? Hotel, hostel, villa? Go with the Jones? Bring the kids?
    The latter makes an identifiable decision, a completable task, a set date.

    For goodness sakes, after decades of presenting ever more dire deadlines The Statesman in the UK is still running thumbsucker pieces on how the path to emissions reduction is autocratic Marxism. Well, he’s got 12 years to keep trying for da revolution, I guess.

  56. jeff,

    Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.

    Except you seem to be ignoring that the problem might not be the strategy of those who think that we should be reducing emissions, but might be the strategy of those who don’t.

  57. AB says:

    Reducing emissions to zero is a well-defined task, very much in the same way as “reducing my weight below 200lbs” or “building a nuclear plant” is. Both of course require planning how to achieve it, and have the possibility to overshoot deadlines. You can easily verify if you have achieved any of these within a given time or not.

  58. John Hartz says:

    Speaking of the scientific consensus about man-made climate change…

    The scientific consensus that humans are causing global warming is likely to have passed 99%, according to the lead author of the most authoritative study on the subject, and could rise further after separate research that clears up some of the remaining doubts.

    Three studies published in Nature and Nature Geoscience use extensive historical data to show there has never been a period in the last 2,000 years when temperature changes have been as fast and extensive as in recent decades.

    No doubt left’ about scientific consensus on global warming, say experts by Jonathan Watts, Environment, Guardian, July 24, 2019

    Extensive historical data shows recent extreme warming is unprecedented in past 2,000 years is the teaser headline of this article.

  59. “In a brief Twitter exchange, Oliver Geden seemed to suggest that the use of “dangerous” in their title was ironic and was being misinterpreted. This itself seemed rather ironic,”

    More than ironic , given orchestrated efforts to crank up the rhetoric of crisis in climate communication,like the recent Columbia School of Journalism confab that’s been reflected in style manual changes in The Observer, The Guardian, The Nation and elsewhere.

    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2019/05/for-sixth-extinction-you-need-sixth.html

  60. ATTP, respectfully I disagree. I’m expressly not ignoring it.
    I’ll put it more bluntly, nations on every continent on the planet except Antarctica are planning for economic growth and increased energy use over the next 30 years. If you haven’t got a realistic plan to solve for those two requirements in a low/no carbon fashion, you haven’t got a plan.
    No nation has adopted either the warm’s preferred method of supplying energy and in the last 30 years, only one nation (Venezuela) went Marxist or down the reverse growth policy. And Venezuela planned to fund their experiment by selling millions of barrels of oil a day.
    Even the EU won’t come close to hitting this deadline and that’s because they aren’t offered any low carbon solutions that meet those “social and political” requirements (a polite way of saying they don’t work).

  61. John Hartz says:

    Two additional relevant paragraphs from the Jonathan Watts’ article I cited above…

    A 2013 study in Environmental Research Letters found 97% of climate scientists agreed with this link in 12,000 academic papers that contained the words “global warming” or “global climate change” from 1991 to 2011. Last week, that paper hit 1m downloads, making it the most accessed paper ever among the 80+ journals published by the Institute of Physics, according to the authors.

    The pushback has been political rather than scientific. In the US, the rightwing thinktank the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CPI) is reportedly putting pressure on Nasa to remove a reference to the 97% study from its webpage. The CPI has received event funding from the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers and Charles Koch Institute, which have much to lose from a transition to a low-carbon economy.

    On one hand, that the Competitive Resource Institute and its powerful ultra-conservative backers are pressuring NASA to remove its page on consensus messaging from its website is indeed disturbing. On the other hand, this effort reveals how powerful the consensu messaging is because the climate science denier community is working hard to suppress it.

  62. “If I want to lose 300 pounds for my wedding next year”

    I would argue that would be the wrong way to approach that goal too! I would say a better long-term goal is “improve my health” of which “losing weight” is one goal. But rather than arguing about whether I need to reduce 300 pounds, or 250 pounds, and do I need to do it by the wedding or by the 5th anniversary, I would prefer to concentrate on the actual actions which will be taken: how am I going to change my diet in the next month? What exercises am I going to do in the next month? Every pound reduced is a good one, so let’s start reducing! A long term goal can sometimes inform near term details, but we are so far from net-zero emissions that arguing about when/how we are getting there is distracting from what we should be doing today.

    I think having academics calculate carbon budgets for various targets is fine and useful. I think that recognizing the need for net-zero, and therefore starting R&D processes for, say, biomass-fired power plants with CCS is great. But when our major international climate negotiations and all the media attention gets hung upon whether we are aiming for 1.5 or 2.0, and that we only have 12 years left… I don’t see how that helps much at all.

  63. jeffnsails850 says

    “No nation has adopted either the warm’s preferred method of supplying energy “

    Again jeffnsails50 is completely oblivious to the fact that crude oil is a finite & non-renewable source of fuel that has absolutely no future in our energy mix. “The warm’s preferred method” (LOL) has nothing to do with this situation and you and your buddy DaveBurton (“idiotic invention of an imaginary carbon budget”) better help get cracking on a solution instead of blaming climate change activists for nature’s constraints.

  64. Willard says:

    > only one nation (Venezuela) went Marxist or down the reverse growth policy

    Citation needed for the last bit. Meanwhile, beyond Newscorp-like propaganda:

  65. John Hartz says:

    A recent analysis of carbon budgets published last week in Carbon Brief should be “must reading” for everyone following and contribution to this comment thread.

    A new approach for understanding the remaining carbon budget, Guest Post by Joeri Rogelj & Piers Forster, Carbon Brief, July 17, 2019

    Dr Joeri Rogelj is a lecturer in climate change and the environment at the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, and Prof Piers Forster is professor of climate physics at the University of Leeds and founding director of the Priestley International Centre for Climate.

    The introductory paragraphs of this article…

    The concept of a “carbon budget” has proved to be both elegantly simple and stubbornly complicated.

    The theory dictates that the total amount of CO2 emitted until emissions are taken down to zero determines the maximum warming that the world will subsequently experience. This was the promise from a series of seminal studies published nearly a decade ago.

    Our latest understanding of climate science teaches us that this promise is still largely kept, but it turns out things are not quite so straightforward when estimating how much carbon budget remains if we want to cap warming to a precise level. The estimated size of the remaining carbon budget can depend on a whole range of factors, which makes it much trickier to compare different estimates directly.

    As authors on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report on 1.5C of global warming (SR15), part of our task was to bring the different carbon budget estimates together.

    In our new study, published in Nature, we now show how the estimates from early carbon budget studies can be reconciled – and how carbon budget nuances can be understood to inform the climate action required by the Paris Agreement.

  66. Willard says:

  67. Why would anyone take Mike Hulme’s word on any climate science, or for that matter Earth sciences related?
    “Mike Hulme gets lost in his Mindscape. An examination.”
    https://confrontingsciencecontrarians.blogspot.com/2019/06/mike-hulme-lost-in-mindscape.html
    {Am I a denier, a human extinction denier? @ mikehulme.org | 27/05/2019 – say what???}

    “Mike Hulme’s Tenacious Grip on Physical Reality. An examination.”
    https://confrontingsciencecontrarians.blogspot.com/2019/06/mikehulme-tenacious-grip-on-reality.html
    After reading Hulme’s “Am I a denier, a human extinction denier?” he invites us to read: “‘We Always Get the Weather We Deserve’: The Tenacious Grip of Moral Accountability.” So I did. It was an even deeper exploration into his Mindscape rather than climate science. Needless to say, this essay also deserves a serious examination. …
    ~~~~~~

    Why do we allow such con artists so much legitimacy? The normalizing of lies for facts in astounding to watch. I once wrote here about the need for some “Intellectual Militancy” – recently someone took me to task for it and they were right.

    Upon reflection I realize what I meant was: “Militancy for Truth, and honestly in the public debate” – that we need, sadly no one of any import seems to have it in ’em.

    Although when looking at American politics and Democratic Party impotence – seems that besides too many physical tipping points being passed already, without our realizing it, I’m fear too many political tipping point have done likewise. (Anyone hearing echo’s of 1930’s European politics)

  68. Willard, Spectator Indices are on a roll. Boris Johnson has one upped Harold MacMillan, who became Nature‘s publisher after stepping down as PM, by becoming the first Spectator editor in 191 years to become Prime Minister.

    The climate policy downside is that Boris’s Speccie Editor predecessore include GWPF founder Nigel Lawson , and two of his sons, and that the present editor, Fraser Nelson continues to give free rein to James Delingpole.

    The upside is that PM Boris’ old pal and predecessor David Carrington take climate far more seriouly than the Brexiteers or the Lawson clan.

    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2019/07/if-nature-s-publisher-could-be-pm-why.html

  69. jeff,

    If you haven’t got a realistic plan to solve for those two requirements in a low/no carbon fashion, you haven’t got a plan.

    It’s possible for multiple things to be true at the same time. It may well be (as you seem to be suggesting) that we will prioritise economic growth over emission reductions and hence will not reduce emissions anytime soon. This does not mean that failing to reduce emissions by ~50% by 2030 will not lead to us warming by more than 1.5C. In other words, carefully explained, the 12 year deadline can be true, even if the chances of us meeting this deadline is small.

  70. “In other words, carefully explained, the 12 year deadline can be true, even if the chances of us meeting this deadline is small.”

    I’m not denying that, I’m not commenting on the 12-year deadline at all. I’m asking you what your plan is to reduce emissions over the next 12 years, because that plan is the only thing that matters. If it is to hope for an economic transition, that is a policy of saying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
    If it is a search for actual alternatives, it’s a real plan because those are available. The technology exists and is widely available for western democracies to increase energy use and economic growth while reducing emissions, activists reject those available alternatives for political reasons.
    This is the danger for activists- given that politicians know about this technology and that the activists stop the implementation of this technology, it is reasonable to conclude the warm are uninterested in their own deadline. What would such a conclusion look like? A “climate chancellor” inking gas pipeline deals and approving half-billion dollar gas turbines for Volkswagen in preparation for replacing coal and CO2-free nukes with lower carbon fossil fuels.

  71. jeff,

    I’m not denying that, I’m not commenting on the 12-year deadline at all. I’m asking you what your plan is to reduce emissions over the next 12 years, because that plan is the only thing that matters.

    I don’t really have a plan. I’d always hoped that people who understood societies, politics, technology could step and help to develop a plan. Some do indeed try to do this. Others, however, seem to spend their time complaining that those pointing out that maybe we should be doing something within some reasonably short timescale don’t have a plan.

  72. JCH says:

    Inside major American energy companies, the secret word is, and this is my name for it, “technology X”. They know their core fossil-fuel business now has a use-by date on its label, and “technology X” is their admission that “Houston, we have a problem.” An unthinkable admission just four years ago.

  73. Joshua says:

    dikran –

    > That is misrepresenting my position.

    It wasn’t intended to represent it as your position. I was saying “if” that is your view.

    > I said it was evidence, I don’t think I said anything more than that.

    Ok. The parameters of what might be considered evidence are pretty broad. I guess I would agree that within a very broad parameter, it could be considered evidence. It is certainly evidence that some political operatives are quite sure that consensus-based rhetoric is useful for swaying public opinion. It is less directly evidence that consensus-based rhetoric moves public opinion among some cohorts in some circumstances at certain times when delivered by particular rhetoricians through certain delivery channels. It is far less directly evidence that consensus-based messaging today from (differently) aligned parties in the climate wars at a different time will move opinions among a different cohort w/r/t the size of the consensus. And it is even less directly than that evidence that such messaging will have much impact on the implementation of public policy to address climate change. At some point, you can say that evidence is evidence, but not particularly meaningful evidence.

    > I also didn’t say that I was convinced that it does change a materialy significant number of minds (although that is a meaninglessly vague criterion).

    Well, I’m not convinced of that either – so I guess there we are in agreement. By materially significant number of minds I guess I mean enough minds that it would impact policy development.
    Of course, that is something that would be extremely hard to measure. So it makes sense to me sometimes to implement strategies even if you don’t know that you can determine the impact.

    > The point is that I think it is better than letting the anti-consensus messaging go completely unchecked. Even if it is not “effective” (again, without stating the goal, that is ambiguous), it is the right thing to do anyway as it is the truth.

    I guess for me that depends on your intent. If your intent is merely to state truth, then it would make sense to state truth. But my sense is that much consensus-messaging is more directed towards affecting policy development. As such, my point is that it makes sense to be as careful as possible to be clear-eyed about cause-and-effect. I think that’s important for consensus-messagers just as it is true for anti consensus-messengers such as the authors of this article (as distinguished from anti-consensus messengers, i.e., “skeptics.”)

    > BTW I am a Bayesian, it isn’t about convinced or unconvinced, it is about assessing relative plausibilities.

    Here I agree. As such, I wouldn’t advocate against consensus-messaging, as I think it’s plausible that it’s effective (in the sense of increasing public will for mitigation policies). However, I also think it’s plausible that it is counter-effective. Most plausible, in my personal opinion, is that it doesn’t matter very much at all relative to other factors which are more influential in the development of public policy on climate change.

    > FWIW, I gather there is good evidence that the “consensus gap” has been closing (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2158244016676296

    Thanks for the link. This is interesting to me:

    In state-level data, the gap between liberal and conservative views on the reality of ACC did not widen over this period, whereas the liberal–conservative gap regarding existence of a scientific consensus narrowed.

    > Of course that can’t be directly attributed to consensus communication, but it is evidence that it may have been effective and it would seem odd to argue that it has not been a contributing factor.

    Sure. And of course, there’s always the problem in this discussion where no movement in the “consensus gap” might still hide a signal that consensus-messaging is “effective” in mitigating the impact of anti-consensus messaging

    > Of course in principle it would be possible to perform some sort of controlled trial of the sort Joshua mentioned earlier, but it is very unlikely that anyone would pay for such a survey (given that there are much more important questions to answer), and the practicalities of it seem rather large. This seems to me to be an example of an “impossible expectation”.

    Well, I didn’t say I was “expecting” it, but indeed, despite countless electrons being spent discussing consensus-messaging, not to mention many studies being funded to study consensus-messaging, no one has done it. I fail to see why it is less practical, or less important, or more impossible than those other studies. But regardless, just to point out…I don’t know exactly what you meant by trial there, but I’m explicitly not suggesting a trial-based study per se (as I think about trial studies). I’m not suggesting an experimental or contrived protocol where people are exposed to consensus-messaging and then assessed for changes. I’m suggesting a study where you survey people for previous exposure to consensus-messaging and then break down the data on how that correlates with opinions as moderated by various demographic variables. That doesn’t seem like a particularly impossible task to me – but then again, I neither fund nor conduct such studies so I guess I could very well be wrong about that. I think there is a fundamental problem with the consensus-messaging studies that have been done involving contrived, experimental exposures to consensus-messaging. I much favor such studies to be done in real world context, as there is, IMO, an “external validity” problem with studying the effect of politically associated messaging in contrived protocols.

  74. Joshua says:

    I guess messagers is some combo of massagers and messengers.

  75. Joshua says:

    Oh, and I forgot to mention that it would seem to me that problems with self-report data would be a big problem with the type of study I’m suggesting – but I would think such a study might produce somewhat useful evidence.

  76. “. If your intent is merely to state truth, then it would make sense to state truth.”

    No, my intent is for the electorate to have an accurate picture of the situation so that if we do make a decision on policy it is a rational one, rather than one based on misinformation (boy, did I ever pick the wrong century). Yes I do think we should be doing more about climate, however I also believe in democracy, and trying to get what *I* want is a distant second to functional democracy achieving a rational decision either way.

    If you want to know my intent, you could always ask.

  77. “Here I agree. As such, I wouldn’t advocate against consensus-messaging, as I think it’s plausible that it’s effective (in the sense of increasing public will for mitigation policies). However, I also think it’s plausible that it is counter-effective.”

    My position is that it is likely to be effective for some, meh for others, counter-productive for the rest. Just like every other strategy. So unless someone does have actual useful evidence, then probably best to use whatever approach you think truthfully represents your beliefs/values and quit pointing out the flaws in particular approaches, that are fairly obvious even to the layman and be constructive about it.

  78. Joshua says:

    Fair enough,

    Allow me to re-write what I wrote, to see if that might help:

    I guess for me that depends on one’s intent. If one’s intent is merely to state truth, then it would make sense to state truth. But my sense is that much consensus-messaging is more directed towards affecting policy development. As such, my point is that it makes sense to be as careful as possible to be clear-eyed about cause-and-effect. I think that’s important for consensus-messagers just as it is true for anti consensus-messengers such as the authors of this article (as distinguished from anti-consensus messengers, i.e., “skeptics.”)

    I can see that it appeared that I was assuming your intent. I’m actually not clear as to your intent w/r/t messaging about consensus w/r/t climate change – a rather specific context.

    Even after your last comment, I’m still not sure, I would usually interpret that comment to suggest that your goal is both to communicate truth just for the sake of communicating truth and also to communicate truth so as to affect climate change policy development (i.e., rational decision-making)? But it seems that I’m wrong about that? At any rate, my opinion is that it’s plausible that messaging about the consensus on climate change doesn’t particularly enhance rational decision-making w/r/t climate change (at least what I consider to be rational decision-making).

  79. Joshua says:

    Gotta go…

  80. dikranmarsupial says:

    Joshua “and also to communicate truth so as to affect climate change policy development (i.e., rational decision-making)? ” the key point is that the way I want climate change policy development to be affected is by it becoming more rational and well-informed, rather than in a particular policy direction. Sure, I think that is likely to result in it heading in a particular direction, but that is largely a side-effect/happy accident, it isn’t what matters to me most.

    While we are in a situation where policy direction depends heavily on personalities, rhetoric or misinformation/fake news/bullshit, society is heading for deep trouble generally, not just from climate change,

    IMHO the best way of working out whether consensus messaging is effective is by looking at the consensus gap. If it is narrowing, then the content of consensus messaging, i.e. that there is a strong scientific consensus with a tiny minority of skeptics, is obviously being taken on board. At least that way you don’t have to assume a political intention.

  81. Gary says:

    The wicked problem is getting governments to act against the interests of the biggest polluters, e.g. the American Pentagon, and against the interests of the wealthy and the plutocrats who do the most grotesque overconsumption. Also, the distribution system is incredibly wasteful.

    The wicked problem — defined as “a social or cultural problem that is difficult or impossible to solve for as many as four reasons: incomplete or contradictory knowledge, the number of people and opinions involved, the large economic burden, and the interconnected nature of these problems with other problems” — requires a socio-economic class analysis. Such an analysis is difficult, but not impossible. With that analysis in place, a (wicked) problem correctly identified is a problem half solved.

    What real world solutions are now being proposed? I don’t hear much about de-growth at all. I do hear about (bullsh¡t?) technofixes and grand narratives on either apocalyptic catastrophes or “transcending” the problems by focusing on “being” rather than doing.

  82. Willard says:

    > My position is that it is likely to be effective for some, meh for others, counter-productive for the rest. Just like every other strategy.

    I’ve heard good things about minimax.

    Joking aside, I think it’s an important point, so important in fact that it’s behind the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Algorithms can be used to profile an audience and tailor a message to increase reception. There are good ways to do that, otherwise listening would be bad. There are bad ways too, like when a politician says stuff just to please the crowd.

    So to the question “do we have any evidence consensus messaging works,” the obvious answer is yes, we have an industry built around it since at least the Mad Men era. To the question “do we have any evidence one way or another our to settle our actual bickering over the 12-years one-liner,” the response is probably no. All we got is scientists who play armchair advertizers and contrarians whom by serendipity raise their usual concerns, as if it will endow them with some Voice of Reason properties.

    In any event, there ought to be simple ways to flip that 12-years thing, e.g.:

  83. Gary says:

    Reblogged this on orestes6.

  84. izen says:

    Hulme and Co are usually complaining that the issue of climate change should not be framed as a scientific matter, but that socio-political factors are important.
    But the idea of a 12 year deadline has little scientific validity and is almost entirely a framing intended to increase media engagement. The POMO socio-theorist always seem very good at telling otters what is wrong, less forthcoming with positive advice.

    It would be more scientifically accurate to state the deadline was (at least) 12 years in the PAST, and that we are now playing catch-up with the increasing amount of expense and human suffering that AGW is ALREADY causing.
    But that would get dismissed as ‘alarmist’ I suppose…

  85. dikranmarsupial says:

    Willard, I was thinking more of tailoring to the speaker rather than the audience, but that is a very good point. We don’t have to chose only one approach (maybe one each for consistency), but I would hope that could be a in a good way as well as a bad one!

  86. ecoquant says:

    Huh. Deadlines are dangerous?

    I’m not delving into the back and forth, because I’m not familiar with Who-Said-What-When, but, historically speaking, the only reason we collectively need to talk about deadlines now is that nothing at all has been done in the 25 years since we seriously knew about this problem. I’m not going to say we first knew about this, since a compelling case can be made the Arrhenius knew and published on it in 1896, and LBJ, as President, was briefed on it in 1965.

    What exactly do Hulme, et al want to negotiate? A way for the rich to keep channeling federal funds to protect their assets and properties? Or are owners of fossil fuel assets and businesses that rely upon these coming to appreciate the pickle they are in, and squirming off their sinking ships?

    Deadline set or not, the damage is coming. The recent paper by Haustein, et al on, basically, constraining TCR should give everyone pause. After all unforced variability has been the refuge of the “we don’t understand everything sufficiently yet” crowd.

    There are four things which are important here, to my mind:

    (1) What is TCR becoming, particularly in a world where, on the face of the evidence, no one is taking mitigation seriously, and the profile of emissions may exceed RCP 8.5?

    (2) What are the manifestations of forcing and the like in terms of weather systems? How bad is Arctic amplification going to get?

    (3) And what about the short term dynamics of those Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, where “short term” means over the next 10-15 years?

    (4) How is adaptation going? I think the evidence is it isn’t going well, based upon litigation post Harvey around Houston, and responses to unexpected unusual events. Two EF-1s touched down this week on Cape Cod Massachusetts in the middle of high season, not even a hurricane, and this has created an inconvenient and expensive mess. I increasingly think that while we may be wealthy enough to protect our persons from these damages, as any OECD country, we have economic cross sections much bigger than those less fortunate, and our social and business systems are therefore more fragile.

  87. “’d always hoped that people who understood societies, politics, technology could step and help to develop a plan. ”

    No. Activists have actively limited both the technology and the politics. Total economic restructure and an end to growth or nothing. Solar panels powered factories (if any may be permitted at all) or nothing. And then you complain that nobody has a plan and you’ll simply help by putting a timeframe on the ridiculous.
    Those “others” you deride actually do have a plan and have for a long long time. Seek cost-effective new ways to power a growing society. Those “others” replaced coal with nuclear in France and much of the northeast US. They’ve revolutionized access to cleaner-burning natural gas, and they’d love to buy electric cars when they’re widely available and affordable. In fact they already are- I live in a “red” part of Virginia where there are enough Teslas on the road that the company has a mobile “service” team that I see on the highway every day.
    I live about 4 hours from Washington DC- a progressive commuter city powered by aging nuclear plants in Virginia and Maryland. As battery cost improves and manufacturing output grows, those residents could rapidly adopt electric cars and grow their electric subway system thanks to those power plants. The activists in DC want to shutter the nukes, “replace them” with solar panels, double or triple the cost of electricity and ponder marxist revolution as a solution to incoherence of their plan. Since none of that will happen but they probably will succeed in closing the nukes, you should plan on “green” policies producing higher emissions in Washington DC over the next decade or two. Congrats.

  88. Joshua says:

    > The activists in DC want to shutter the nukes, “replace them” with solar panels, double or triple the cost of electricity and ponder marxist revolution as a solution to incoherence of their plan.

    And as we all know, those “activists” have all the power. In fact, AOC alone has as enough political power in the top of her pinky finger to overwhelm the political influence of the energy industry, the defense industry, the chemicals industry, the mining industry, and all manufacturing industries combined. The massive funds those industries spend on lobbying the Republicans who control the Senate.

    Thanks God there are keyboard warriors like Jeff, to stand up in the face of the onslaught and shout “ENOUGH!”

  89. Joshua says:

    … Sorry. … the massive funds those industries spend on lobbying the Republicans who control the Senate can’t come close to countering the capital power that AOC marshals in just one minute of fundraising….

  90. ecoquant says:

    @jeffnsails850 Just to clarify a point … Sure, it would be nice to have nuclear available and on board, and maybe it will be again. But at present, there are plenty of sound business reasons why nuclear is not feasible. (I think I’ve noted this before here, some where.) The principle one is that it has a negative learning curve, even in France. This was a poor business decision made by the nuclear power industry, probably beginning in the 1960s. Rather than turning their product into commodities, achieving both economies of scale and the benefits of knowing how to crank out the N^{th} unit at a known cost and reliability, and being able to lash them together redundantly to achieve any level of energy generation sought, they decided to make each one big, and a custom design, going for the cost plus model of contracting. (This is kind of like nuclear submarines.) As a result, now they are paying for that decision, because the units are not competitive in price, and it takes forever to build them.

    Moreover, the all-or-none reliability character of these units mean they are difficult to dial up and down, whereas if they were modular, they could be brought online smoothly to generate power as needed. (When Pilgrim Nuclear went offline in Massachusetts, it took down its 650 MW of generation all at once, which needed to be replaced by peakers.)

    So, I’d say because the blunders the industry made in design keep these non-competitive oughtn’t be hung on people seeking zero Carbon energy.

    There are other problems with nuclear power, but that’s the main one. For example, I don’t think dealing with spent waste is as big a problem as assuring cooling water in environments where that is increasingly uncertain in temperature and quantity. And spent waste was complicated because the industry allied itself with military nuclear power who had different requirements, including the desire to reconstitute nuclear weapon pits that were mothballed.

  91. mrkenfabian says:

    Why is it up to activists to deliver acceptable solutions at all? No climate activists ever stopped US Republicans from taking the science on climate seriously or from promoting and backing nuclear as a principle response – they did that themselves. Take activists out of the equation and their position will not change – because the reasons they made those choices had nothing to do with climate or anti-nuclear activism stopping them.

    I’m increasingly of the view that opponents framing the issue as what extremists and activists want and coming up with objections to that rather than come up with policy that directly addresses the problem has been extraordinarily successful; it makes it about stopping extremists instead of dealing with the problem. It draw on existing political biases and blind spots, presses people’s buttons – and gets them reacting instead of thinking. We get this in Australia all the time but currently see it with extraordinary obsessing over the perceived hypocrisy of a much liked Greens elder statesman opposing a particular windfarm – whilst hypocrisy at an industrial scale, by those sitting in the actual Offices that make the relevant decisions, goes unremarked. Promoting the very activities that make the problem worse. Much easier to rally opposition to those portrayed as unreasoning extremists than rally opposition to science agencies and decades of consistent top level advice.

  92. John Hartz says:

    As evidenced in this article, AOC doesn’t have much clout even within the Democratic Caucus of the House of Representatives.

    House Democrats Unveil Climate Goal Short of Ocasio-Cortez’s by Ari Natter, Climate Changed, Bloomberg News, July 23, 2019

  93. Joshua says:

    ken –

    > it makes it about stopping extremists instead of dealing with the problem.

    Bingo. It’s about playing the man (I guess I should add woman/non-gender binary player), not playing the ball. Although, I do think that happens a lot on both sides of the court.

  94. What! : “Breaking news on the climate consensus messaging front, most YouTube climate change videos ‘oppose the consensus view.”
    Shocking, simply shocking, when did that happen?

    Wait till the study of YouTube comments comes out.
    Now what’s anyone going to do about. What’s it to going to take to deal with belligerent ignorance? Any ideas?

    ps. d) Considering our dysfunctional public dialogue in 14 verses.
    https://confrontingsciencecontrarians.blogspot.com/2018/12/our-dysfunctional-public-dialogue.html

  95. Ken: “…it makes it about stopping extremists instead of dealing with the problem.”
    Complete nonsense. The Republican Party isn’t pushing Germany to shut down entirely functional, CO2 emissions-free power plants. The Green Party- climate activists – are doing that. Write this down- the Republicans don’t care if Merkel replaces those with natural gas, apparently neither do the climate activists. Claiming only one of those groups is “delaying’ anything is laughably hollow.

    EcoQuant- the issue is baseload. Wind and solar can’t replace coal. Or any other current baseload source.And won’t be able to in any developed country for the foreseeable future. So, if you have 12 years, pick something that can. There are alternatives- dams along more European and North American rivers and burning forests would do it. I’m sure the Sierra Club won’t mind, given that Ken says they aren’t delayers.

  96. ecoquant says:

    On baseload, it is a myth until we get to 70% wind and solar penetration, and it may not be there. Sure, hydropower is very important, but for storage, not for generation.

    Even at 70% there may well be technological things that can be done which are inconceivable with Carnot cycle power, involving rapid digital controls and direct control of turbines, because both marginal cost of wind and solar generation are zero and because they are, in comparison, so cheap to build. Suppose that 3x, 4x, 5x needed capacity is built? And suppose the excess always goes to kinetic storage like hydro or pressure vessels, or technically advanced chemical stores? Or rapid freezers on big commercial buildings instead of A/C? Or demand reduction on home and commercial hot water tanks?

    I don’t see the current regulatory and energy investment regime surviving the transition. If you or anyone insists it must, then that is the impediment: Don’t blame it on the technology or the politics.

    And, frankly, the adopters of this scheme will have huge advantages over the baseload-minded sticks-in-the-mud: Power will be dirt cheap, too cheap to meter, as long as they remain disconnected from the old grid. Their are businesses today which deal with wind + solar intermittency directly in their business models: They don’t operate manufacturing on days without energy … And they don’t have much storage. Yet the cheapness of energy is a win for them.

  97. Pingback: Frank’s New Memo | …and Then There's Physics

  98. Ben McMillan says:

    Like for coal in the UK, it is not the case that nuclear power is mostly being replaced by gas in Germany:
    https://www.cleanenergywire.org/factsheets/germanys-energy-consumption-and-power-mix-charts

    But a different thread would be a better place for the nuclear vs renewables drivebys.

  99. Willard says:

    > But a different thread would be a better place for the nuclear vs renewables drivebys.

    There is already one:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2017/11/29/going-nuclear/

    Drive-bys are usually not made in threads dedicated to the topic of the drive-by, tho.

  100. Willard

    Meanwhile,Science is considering the possibility that Boris may show as much climate commonsense as PM as Mayor of London.

    https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/07/boris-johnson-s-stance-climate-change-has-flip-flopped

  101. mrkenfabian says:

    Jeff, I think your response illustrates my point very well.

  102. Joshua says:

    As per my comment here:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2019/07/24/its-dangerous/#comment-160109

    I think there is a fundamental problem with the consensus-messaging studies that have been done involving contrived, experimental exposures to consensus-messaging. I much favor such studies to be done in real world context, as there is, IMO, an “external validity” problem with studying the effect of politically associated messaging in contrived protocols.

    There’s this:

    Thus, our studies likely overestimated framing effects on attitude change, since they did not correspond to how most members of the public encounter information about climate change in the real world. Indeed, two studies examining the effects of novel frames about climate change in the presence of competing messages have found mixed results. A third study found no influence on attitudes when reframing action on climate change in terms of benefits to health or the economy, even in the absence of competing frames. In light of their findings, the authors recommended that communication efforts remain focused on emphasizing the environmental risks of inaction.

    https://issues.org/the-limits-of-strategic-messaging/

    Maybe I’m not such an idiot after all?

  103. Joshua,
    Yes, I read that. Just made me think that we don’t really know what works and what doesn’t.

  104. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    And goes back to the questions about the work of Hulme, Pearce et al. Do they even interrogate the relevant literature?

  105. Joshua,
    Hmm, I guess they do in some sense, but it’s not clear that what they present is backed up by anything particularly rigorous.

  106. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Yes, well, to the extent that the do, it may be dubious. I sort of recall that RPJr. post with Grundmann that you linked above…I interacted with Grundmann in the comments section on that thread, and and as I recall (I could be wrong) he more or less indicated that he was unfamiliar with problems, in the context of the climate wars in the US, of comparing climate scientists to Nazis.

    Needless to say, I wasn’t terribly impressed with his rigor..

  107. Joshua,
    Yes, I find it bizarre that anyone can write that there’s an eerie similarity between race science and climate science. It’s not just the comparison, but the suggestion that it’s eerie. Similarly, I don’t get how anyone who has an understanding of the topic and an interest in supporting those who would like to promote credible scientific information would write a Guardian article implying the Watts and Montford were the real skeptics, or would provide a platform to Ben Pile to attack consensus messaging.

    I have worried a little that my post is a bit af hominem (it is, I guess) but I do think that it’s worth being aware of some of the background. As far as I can tell, it either indicates that some of the authors are essentially climate “skeptics”, or rather clueless.

  108. Joshua says:

    I get the worry about ad homs.

    It almost be nice if these discussions could take place anonymously, if they could be held without reference to specific people, or even specific groups of people. Especially when there is a history among specific people and groups. I think that often,, names become a kind of tribal signal. Group names effectively work as labels.

    instead, the discussion could be focused on questions in a more philosophical manner. E.g., something like: “What is the best way to motivate people to target climate change, would it be to emphasize the threat within a frame of time horizons?” Going to “The alarmist scientists [or the IPCC, or plug in names of scientists here] are having a negative effect when they stoke fear.” probably isn’t likely to have an optimal outcome.

    Oh well.

    That said, I guess you saw this?

    View at Medium.com

    I thought it was pretty reasonable.

  109. Joshua,
    I did see that. I mostly didn’t quite get what it was really saying.

  110. Joshua says:

    Yeah – I thought it was a bit vague. My sense is that he was basically trying to incorporate the Nisbet piece in such a way that it didn’t invalidate his Nature Climate Change piece. I don’t think he was all that successful in doing so (because he basically elided the question of whether he is prescribing climate communication advice without really having an evidence-basis for doing so – as suggested by the Nisbet piece)….but I applaud the attempt.

    I also think he was trying to reconcile the pushback he got for that other article. I can see that as a positive outcome, looking at this whole thing as a process.

  111. Joshua,

    I also think he was trying to reconcile the pushback he got for that other article. I can see that as a positive outcome, looking at this whole thing as a process.

    Why do you see it as a positive? Because it suggests that he was at least trying to take the criticism on board?

  112. Joshua says:

    Yes.

  113. Agreed, I thought it was an attempt. I just wasn’t really sure what it achieved.

    Not sure if this will work, but there was an interesting Twitter thread about STS that you may find of interest. It starts about here.

  114. So depressing reading through all these comments. Dog chasing tail, is all that comes to my mind.
    Why don’t we focus on how the two sides approach this problem and highlight the heck out that?

    One side wants to learn about Earth processes and her history.
    The Other side has a power-political agenda to push – and is absolutely opposed to learning
    (they have been getting mileage out of the same arguments for the past four decades)

    Two types of debate:
    Lawyerly/political – winning is the goal – rhetorical fancy dancing is its means – disregard for learning is a must

    Constructive/scientific like debate – Where a better understanding is the goal – where honestly and telling the truth is the Law – etc., ect., etc.,

    Why is that so hard???

    Instead we still allow them to pull all the Public Dialogue strings – because in the we are accomplices? – just wondering. Why?

  115. … because in the end are we all simply unwitting (or not) accomplices …

  116. John Hartz says:

    citizenschallenge:

    So depressing reading through all these comments. Dog chasing tail, is all that comes to my mind.

    Why don’t we focus on how the two sides approach this problem and highlight the heck out that?

    To the best of my knowledge, no one is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to read this comment thread or any other comment thread created on this menu. I find your constant bellyaching tiresome — especially when there are organizations and individuals throughout the world doing exactly what you assert is not being done.

    A prime example of such an organization is DeSmog and its off-shoot, DeSmog UK.

    From the DeSmog website:

    DeSmog exists to clear the PR pollution that is clouding the science on climate change.

    An overwhelming majority of the world’s climate scientists agree that the globe is warming – the world’s climate is changing – and that the indiscriminate burning of fossil fuels is to blame. We know that the risks are incalculable and, increasingly, we understand that the solutions are affordable.

    Unfortunately, a well-funded and highly organized public relations campaign is poisoning the climate change debate. Using tricks and stunts that unsavory PR firms invented for the tobacco lobby, energy-industry contrarians are trying to confuse the public, to forestall individual and political actions that might cut into exorbitant coal, oil and gas industry profits. DeSmog is here to cry foul – to shine the light on techniques and tactics that reflect badly on the PR industry and are, ultimately, bad for the planet.

  117. Right. All we need to do is look at the Presidents Climate Science Council to see exactly how successful that’s been.

    Oh and NO i haven’t heard anyone screaming about the two types of debate. I just notice people talking past each other. Oh and the same old uncertainties argued about, now matter how much they’ve shrunken, while the damned-certain certainties somehow keep getting pushed off to the side lines.

    (And again, we just have to look at the state of the public awareness, and the public dialogue, to see which tack has been successful.)

  118. Oh and don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking DeSmog, DeSmogUK, or SkS or ClimateCentral or any of that! Yes it’s needed but it certainly hasn’t been enough! * What about some sort of actually messaging that clicks with kids and once it clicks, they’ll carry from there. That’s what I’m talking about – how much of a coherent Earth awareness and appreciation of Deep Time and Evolution’s roll in forming the atmosphere do people have today? Next to nothing because it’s so boring. ? {Really and watching spring practice and game after game is engaging? – that’s plain disconnected. How do we connect people to Earth’s physical reality again, in this consumer driven electronically monitored and driven society?}

    But that’s just my perspective, from the outside looking in. ;- )

    * Oh, an aside to counter your complacent satisfaction, what the heck happened to the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Climate Hot Map for tracking and documenting extreme weather events as they unfold.
    That sure folded in a hurry – huge tragic loss that one – I always wondered about that. Why no coherent tracking of extreme weather as its unfolded. Even now, plenty of data, but no coherent over view. If there is, please share link, cause I haven’t been able to find it. It would have been so easy to continue refining, but the ball got dropped, or was knocked out of our hands. Stuff like that has bred my attitude.

    ( https://www.climatehotmap.org)

  119. John Hartz says:

    citizenschallenge:

    The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has been tracking severe weather events on a global basis for years. See its website, Severe Weather Information Centre

  120. John Hartz says:

    citizenschallenge:

    If you want know why the Union of Concerned Scientists discontinued its Climate Hot Map, ask them.

  121. John Hartz says:

    citizenschallenge:

    Oh, an aside to counter your complacent satisfaction,…

    Yeah, complacency causes me to only devote about 40-50 hours per week to informing people throughout the world about man-made climate change and related matters. I do it for my children, grandchildren and future generations. I receive no compensation for my time.

  122. I didn’t say the data wasn’t being collected – the tools man. Proper tool for the proper job. Nothing of communication value is being done with it, was the point I trying to make.

    Please stop taking my comments so personally all the time. None of this is impugning the herculean tasks you and many others have been doing. I wish you could see past our self defensiveness. Please. I respect and actually am in awe of some of your work, so it hurts that you keep seeing my comments as some sort of personal attack. Never been my intention. I’m just a bit of bull in a china shop.

    Still, results speak for themselves. So a little self assessment is in order. No?

    Isn’t that part of the rational “enlightened” process? get beyond our personal egos and luggage and focus on the facts of the matter at hand.

  123. fyi – Actually in past years I have sent UCS emails, sans responses. If I had $50,000 sponsorship to offer, things might have been different. So it goes. No one’s to blame, this is a community effort. Not like I didn’t give up on it myself.

  124. FWIW, I agree with citizenschallenge’s point about:

    Two types of debate:
    Lawyerly/political – winning is the goal – rhetorical fancy dancing is its means – disregard for learning is a must

    Constructive/scientific like debate – Where a better understanding is the goal – where honestly and telling the truth is the Law – etc., ect., etc.,

    and it is exactly why a “one size fits all” strategy to climate communication is doomed to failure. Providing factually correct information is useless in the first kind of debate, because it was never about facts in the first place. Any sort of rhetoric, “spin” or appeals to emotion etc. will be counter-productive in the second. Most people I suspect are involved in a bit of both type of debate, to differing extents at different times. So please let’s be constructive about this and not take a “my way or the highway” attitude.

  125. I fear most people don’t even clearly recognize the two kinds of debate. Which is why I think making a bigger deal about it would be a positive thing.

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