Riders on the Storm

I’ve just finished reading Alistair McIntosh’s new book Riders On the Storm; the climate crisis and the survival of being. I should admit that I got somewhat distracted after reading the first few chapters, so it took me a while to finish the whole book. However, I did find it a very interesting and enjoyed reading it.

I should probably admit a slight bias. It turns out that Alistair grew up in the same village on the Isle of Lewis where some of my family came from, and went to the same high school as my mother (although, somewhat later than my mother). The book uses examples of life in these rural communities to discuss how communities might respond to crises like climate change. The book also mentions the Iolaire tragedy, which I mentioned in this post.

What I did find particularly good, and which I suspect many regulars here will appreciate, is that it did an impressive job of discussing the scientific evidence, stressing that the best evidence is that presented by the IPCC. The book is also critical of both climate denial and doomism, suggesting that Climate change denial is a waste of time. But climate change alarmism is a theft of time. However, it managed to criticise climate alarmism in a way that didn’t undermine the seriousness of climate change, which – in my view – is often an issue with many such criticisms.

I also thought that the book presented what might be a somewhat non-mainstream perspective, but did so in a way that kept the discussion grounded in the realities of the problems that we face. It was neither overly optimistic, nor unduly pessimistic. In some sense it maybe didn’t provide any concrete solutions, but it did provide some thoughtful perspectives about the importance of communities and what can be achieved if people work together for the common good.

I’m probably not doing justice to the book in this brief post, but if you do want a better flavour of the book, you can read Alistair’s Realclimate guest post. I certainly thought it was a book that many of the regulars here would appreciate, so I certainly recommend reading it if you get a chance.


Rider on the Storm – Link to Alistair’s book.
Kenneth Smith – post about Kenneth Smith who died in the Iolaire tragedy.
Denial and Alarmism in the Near-Term Extinction and Collapse Debate – Alistair’s Realclimate Guest post.

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50 Responses to Riders on the Storm

  1. russellseitz says:

    Forgive my tectonic curiousity- have you ventured up island past Callanish to Loch Roag?
    Since it was declared a site of Special Scientific Interest, the blue corundum deposit there has not been much in the news

  2. Russell,
    No, I did go to Callanish many years ago, but I haven’t been up to Loch Roag.

  3. Dave_Geologist says:

    Cool Russell. An association with metasomatised/serpentinised mantle too, like a recent publication I came across about blue diamonds 🙂 .

    Megacrysts and Associated Xenoliths: Evidence for Migration of Geochemically Enriched Melts in the Upper Mantle beneath Scotland

    Blue boron-bearing diamonds from Earth’s lower mantle

    Anorthoclasite xenoliths too! Nostalgia time, I did my undergraduate mapping on the South Harris anorthosite (related rock but a different origin, probably part of the roots of an Andes-style continental magmatic arc). No diamonds or sapphire but I was chuffed to identify scapolite which is easily mistaken for feldspar. Probably also metasomatic, Cl- and HCO3- rich fluids driven off from the subducting slab rising up through the arc roots.

    From the first paper, probable involvement of carbonatite magmas but by taking away alkalies to leave the residue Al-rich. And the mother of all Eu anomalies! Most of the heavies are missing for some technical reason but they’d follow the trend through to Y. The only REES that buck the trends are Eu (partitioned into feldspar) and Ce (redox-sensitive).

    I was reading a paper the other week about certain ore deposits being tied down to carbonatite magmas – but the other side of the coin, what happens to all those incompatible elements the carbonatite stripped out when it later comes to rest. I’ve had a soft spot for carbonatites since I first learned about Ol Doinyo Lengai through TV wildlife programmes 🙂 .

    Hmm, perhaps a tad OT, apart from the Big Island mention (no, USAnians, not that Big Island – there are others) 😉 . .

  4. russellseitz says:

    I assume you’ve seen the calcium perovskite diamond inclusion story, and hope it will inspire you to switch to perovskite PV R&D.

  5. Dave_Geologist says:

    This one Russell? CaSiO3 perovskite in diamond indicates the recycling of oceanic crust into the lower mantle.

    Of course we’ve known for decades that while some subducting slabs get stuck half-way, others make it all the way to the bottom of the mantle. The question is what interesting elements and compounds, bound water included, make it to that depth, and whether they’re implicated in things like fertilising the mantle and initiating hotspots. And whether they form and can be imaged as large low-shear-velocity provinces: Seismic velocities of CaSiO3 perovskite can explain LLSVPs in Earth’s lower mantle. Both downloaded around the same time in 2019, I see. Swinging to climate change, there’s a suggestion that the Siberian Traps (Great Dying) and North Atlantic Igneous Province (PETM) are the same hotspot in the right reference frame, but that it was dead until it encountered lower mantle fertilised by slabs subducted during closure of the Iapetus Ocean. Coming full circle, the Loch Roag intrusion is probably part of the NAIP. There are some cracking crystals – see Fig. 3b of the Upton paper, which appears to be open access. No wonder the site needs protecting!

    There’s an interesting parallel with the Nobel requiring experimental verification, in that geology won’t officially name a mineral until it has been made in the lab or found in nature (in meteorites is allowed, as well as on Earth). Ab initio calculations don’t count, and the second paper is a cautionary tale in that regard. Something to bear in mind with computational biology calculations like those referred to in the video Joshua posted in the previous thread.

    Oops, off more topics 😦 .

  6. First, I think it makes sense to only engage with folks who appear to be engaged in good faith on these big, controversial questions. The folks who just enjoy the back and forth, or want to push a specific agenda and refuse to acknowledge that, are a waste of time.

    That said, I think it’s a strange thing to beat up on the folks who are experiencing despair about climate change. It seems like a variation on the popular “punch a hippy” routine and it seems to be popular these days. I see that Michelle Goldberg has an editorial piece in the NYT this morning, The Problem of Political Despair, that follows this pattern. The teaser on that piece is: “Hopelessness about our democracy could accelerate its decay.” (the piece is behind a paywall, so I didn’t read or even skim, but I think I can tell where Michelle is going with this headline and teaser) So I think this same dynamic arises: Let’s take a minute to beat up on folks who have worked so hard for so long for so little in the political arena, shall we? Is that the smart move with our allies who are experiencing despair?

    In various campaigns over the years I have watched people burn out, experience despair, withdraw and then reappear at a later date and resume engagement. I think sometimes people burnout, take a break, deal with the stress and experience of despair and hopelessness and then re-ignite. Is there any good reason for me to kick them when they are down? I think not.

    I continue to engage a bit with centrists whose appetite for change appears to me to insufficient to accomplish our shared goals and I I think it makes sense to treat these folks respectfully. I think just keep asking questions and listen thoughtfully in the hope that such a process might help us understand each other and engage in common cause to produce significant change. I am sometimes in despair about the lack of progress on various campaigns, like the problem of politics in the US, or the global problem of warming, but I generally assume that there is a possibility that things might not be as bad as they sometimes look…. maybe the centrists are going to pull a rabbit out of the hat for all of us? Maybe, as an alarmed person, I am wrong and the centrists have it figured right. I don’t know, but in any case, I think it makes sense to engage primarily or exclusively with the good faith actors and then, to engage respectfully. Victim blaming, alarmist blaming or centrist blaming seems to be a dead end to me. I don’t know if I always manage to avoid the blame game, but I certainly prefer to spend my time discussing potential solutions as opposed to assigning blame in some strange pie chart manner.



  7. russellseitz says:

    Dave, I think this article more germane to undoing what we’ve been doing to geophysics of late :

    Monolithic perovskite/silicon tandem solar cell with >29% efficiency by enhanced hole extraction
    11 Dec 2020
    Vol 370, Issue 6522
    Perovskite/silicon tandem solar cells must stabilize a perovskite material with a wide bandgap and also maintain efficient charge carrier transport. Al-Ashouri et al. stabilized a perovskite with a 1.68–electron volt bandgap with a self-assembled monolayer that acted as an efficient hole-selective contact that minimizes nonradiative carrier recombination. In air without encapsulation, a tandem silicon cell retained 95% of its initial power conversion efficiency of 29% after 300 hours of operation.

  8. Raymond Lutz says:

    just asking: what is climate alarmism? I’m alarmed, am I an alarmist? This is an honest question and I won’t waste your time arguing anwers here (from ATTP or it’s readership).

  9. Raymond,
    I typically define an alarmist as someone who is unduly alarmed, rather than as someone who is simply alarmed. I think there are plenty of valid reasons to be alarmed. It’s true that alarmed, and alarmist, are sometimes used interchangeably, but in the post I was more referring to those who promote extreme outcomes as if they’re guaranteed to happen, rather than them being outcomes that could happen if we don’t act to avoid them.

  10. Joshua says:

    In the climate wars vernacular, “alarmist” is a pejorative label for people who assess the risk from ACO2 to he higher than some others. It’s an epithet.

    Essentially, it’s the inverse of “denier” and it’s use is generally justified with a similar rationale (i.e., “I’m just describing reality.”)

    It’s interesting to speculate whether the use of those terms scores goals or scores own goals. In the end, I suspect, the use of either has little if any net effect one way or the other.

  11. russellseitz says:

    “in the post I was more referring to those who promote extreme outcomes as if they’re guaranteed to happen, rather than them being outcomes that could happen if we don’t act to avoid them.”

    Covering Climate Now has promoted the reforging of “climate” and “crisis” into a single epithet , and the Indy and Guardian style manuals have been revised to facilitate the language of alarm by allowing the elision of extreme inputs like RCP 8.5 , with extreme outcomes despite repeated objections from the IPCC.

    Climate scientists may find this usage disturbing, but few publicly deplore it, and Columbia Journalism Review and many of CCN’s 400 outlets seem to have adapted it as a journalistic Best Practice.

    Have they entirely forgotten the serial reversals of credibility that have arisen from the polemic abuse of global systems modeling in the past?

  12. Ben McMillan says:

    Relatively mainstream (but left of center) papers like the Guardian have little real doomism in them, even if they tend to be somewhat alarmed; they usually take the line that something should be done about the problem, rather than fatalistic inaction. Whether they on average overstep the mark and are “alarmist” is unclear even though e.g. the Grauniad does make fairly frequent errors.

    The fatalistic doomer stuff is much more common on social media etc., where taking the most extreme position possible as a kind of provocative performance art is more rewarding. Basically just another form of conspiracy-oriented ‘edgy’ contrarianism.

    Still relatively uncommon, although like climate denial, the people on the fringe are always the loudest and the most annoying and get a disproportionate amount of attention.

  13. Willard says:

    > people on the fringe are always the loudest and the most annoying and get a disproportionate amount of attention.

    In fairness, our gadfly would need to rely on something else than sardonicism to get more attention. See? That’s a counterfactual!

    Raising concerns is an industry. Why would anyone buy a newspaper if there was not some concern about something somewhere in the universe? I suppose raising concerns is fair, then. What’s not is when one’s notoriety in raising concerns becomes a springboard to claim three Nobel prizes for them and their family:

    Fast forward to 2019 and Weinstein has launched his podcast The Portal, bringing on high-profile guests such as Peter Thiel (his employer), Andrew Yang, and Gary Kasparov. The topics covered by the podcast are diverse, including Weinstein’s interest in physics. On April 2, 2020, Weinstein released a special Portal episode on Youtube, in which he discusses his thoughts about Geometric Unity, posts the recorded Oxford lecture of 2013, and provides some supplementary information in a PowerPoint presentation. This highly idiosyncratic presentation of a theory of physics was also spearheaded by many appearances on UCSD astrophysicist Brian Keating’s podcast (see here, here, here, here, here). To the uninitiated, this endorsement appeared to give legitimacy to Weinstein’s ideas, since Keating and the invited podcast guests which Weinstein jousted (Sabine Hossenfelder, Lee Smolin, Max Tegmark, Stephen Wolfram) are all professional scientists. Much of the discussion among these guests centered around Weinstein’s criticism of the scientific community, which most significantly begets his unwillingness to submit his ideas in the form of a scientific paper. In fact, he repeatedly suggested that his work could be understood solely from watching his Oxford lecture and that writing a paper was not necessary (see here and here).


    Not sure how teh Wolfram is a professional scientist, but there you go.

  14. “Alarmism” in all honesty should be applied to those set on raising alarm, not those experiencing a transient (or longer) emotional or mental reaction to data that might upset them. Those who continually base dire claims on discredited scenarios are especially deserving of the term ‘alarmist’ and there are plenty of them.

    After all, there really are skinhead thugs who deny the Holocaust occurred. The problem is not either ‘denier’ or ‘alarmist’ as a term. The problem is their wholesale application to those you don’t agree with in an attempt to deligitimize a position based on guilt by association.

  15. Willard says:

    > Those who continually base dire claims on discredited scenarios are especially deserving of the term ‘alarmist’

    For instance:

    Humans will use 3,000 Quads by 2075. If they all come from coal we’re ruined.


    This alarmist counterfactual rests on a scenario that isn’t very different from RCP8.5. Besides, it’s obvious that “alarmist!” is degoratory:

    While there is no accepted categorization of position, several camps or tribes have evolved. At one end of the spectrum is a group of people who are pejoratively referred to as “alarmists.” [They believe in AGW, and ] there is a tendency for this group of individuals to call for immediate action.

    That’s from our dynamic duo’s political hit job, p. 30. Not sure how calling for immediate action makes one an alarmist, but there you go.

  16. willard, regarding my projection of 3,000 quads in energy consumption, it’s quite possible that it will be lower. We’ve gone from 503 quads in 2010 to 600 quads in 2020. While that’s impressive, it wouldn’t necessarily lead to 3,000 quads by 2075.

    Do you consider that a good thing? To me, it indicates that the poor are not being given access to energy in sufficient quantities and that the emerging middle classes are constrained by lack of supply from using energy they can actually afford.

    Is it possible that you haven’t understood the central point of a blog you quote so frequently? I have no problem with the world consuming 3,000 quads. In fact I would celebrate it as a triumph for humanity. My concern is the fuel portfolio that supplies those 3,000 quads. Indeed, if it all comes from coal we are screwed.

    But if demand is lower it means that most of humanity is being cheated unnecessarily out of a better life.

  17. And again, willard, regarding your quote from our book–we labeled ‘alarmist’ as pejorative–did you not read that?

  18. Willard says:

    > it’s quite possible that it will be lower

    It’s more than possible that 3000 quads of coal is basically RCP8.5:

    §1. It is common knowledge that getting to 8.5 is unlikely . It has been introduced to depict a relatively conservative business as usual case with low income, high population and high energy demand due to only modest improvements in energy intensity [Keywan & alii]. Things changed since 2011, and some might suggest that 3C is the new BAU. In effect, every dollar spent on mitigation now makes RCP8.5 emissions even more unlikely [Justin]. Scenario selection is not so important for impacts in the next decade or two [Glen]. If you don’t like 8.5, add 10 years [Gernot]. If you think that 8.5 is bollocks, well, that’s your unarticulated opinion.

    Source: https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2020/02/09/but-rcps/

    Luckwarm appeals to “But RCP,” “But Alarmism,” “But CAGW” while at the same time owning a website raising concerns about 3000 quads of coal is more than disingenuous.

  19. russellseitz says:

    It may be time to consider a statute of limitations on alarm. Some soi disant Alarmists have been at it ever since Bill Moyers’ The Power of Myth debuted.

    On Mayday 1989, one remarked:

    “My purpose is to sound an alarm, loudly and clearly, of imminent and grave danger, and to describe a strategy for confronting this crisis … the horrendous prospect of an ecological collapse. ”

    The force driving the collapse in question may be smaller than gravitation as at 32 feet per second squared, most things take less than 32 years to fall down- which is how long it has been since teh Gore declared this one. OTOH, some crises of culture and language are a decade older still:

  20. willard, it may be wrong–and I certainly hope it is. But it is certainly not disingenuous.
    Your attempts to link latent demand for energy with any RCP is more likely to be disingenuous, if not downright weird. My calls for a greener fuel portfolio to satisfy this latent demand is not luckwarm or even lukewarm. It is the only way I see to arrive at a humane solution to the key ingredient for human development in much of the world–access to energy.

    But you can dance your climateball dance as long as you want. At some point you’ll realize that you’re dancing alone.

  21. Willard says:

    Let me raise you a few more decades, Russell:

    Small earthquakes were felt for four days before the 79 AD eruption, but the warnings were not recognized. The inhabitants of the area surrounding Mount Vesuvius had been accustomed to minor earth tremors in the region; the writer Pliny the Younger wrote that they “were not particularly alarming because they are frequent in Campania”.


    As far as the contention about some reversal of credibility:

    According to a public opinion survey commissioned by Research!America Americans largely trust the work done by our nation’s scientists. Seven in 10 Americans believe that the work scientists do benefits all or most people in the United States and more than 80% believe that the work scientists do benefits them personally.

    Research institutions are among those that inspire the highest confidence, along with military, police, and small businesses. Doctors, nurses, scientists, and public health officials took the top four spots for professionals whom Americans feel confident will act in their best interest.


    Perhaps people are learning that if it’s on the Internet it’s probly wrong, including the claim that if’s on the Internet it’s probly wrong.

  22. russellseitz says:

    Rome was not sacked in a day, Willard. The question I raised is the impermanence of journalistic, not scientific credibility ,and whether “Columbia Journalism Review and many of CCN’s 400 outlets” are putting it at risk?

    Embracing a linguistic state of seige to fast forward a political agenda puts more than language at risk. Whoever writes the playbook, dogmatism is the end-point of people believing their own sound bytes.

  23. Willard says:

    > The question I raised is the impermanence of journalistic, not scientific credibility

    In Have they [journalists] entirely forgotten the serial reversals of credibility that have arisen from the polemic abuse of global systems modeling in the past?, the main presupposition, i.e. serial reverals of credibility that have arisen from the polemic abuse begs an important question. Have these reversals really happened? If so, it might have affected the credibility of scientists, no?

    Perhaps people ain’t so dumb as to believe everything printed either:

    Trust in the news has grown, on average, by six percentage points in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic – with 44% of our total sample saying they trust most news most of the time. This reverses, to some extent, recent falls in average trust – bringing levels back to those of 2018. Finland remains the country with the highest levels of overall trust (65%), and the USA now has the lowest levels (29%) in our survey.


    As for how journalism was perceived in your younger days, Russell, may I remind you that The Lost Honour of Katharina Bloom has been written in 1974? News Corp has only rediscovered what Springer built.

  24. russellseitz says:

    I’m betting they ain’t so dumb as to overlook your elision of scientists and polemic abusers of systems models.

    The two cautionary reversals I cited in Foreign Affairs in 2009 were the devolution of the Energy Crisis into the Oil Glut , and the implosion of the Population Bomb. I did not have to play the Sagan card, as the Editors were all too aware of having set ApocalypseBall in motion by publishing him in 1984 the first place.

  25. russellseitz says:

    And raise you a couple of centuries :

  26. Willard says:

    To deplore that I mention scientists in one comment and that I elide them in the next can only hedge your bets in a way that we usually call a Dutch book, Russell.

    If you were raising concerns about the loss of trust in journalism in 2009, and still in 2019, chances are you were doing so in 1999 too and that you still will in 2029.

    Concerns. Billions upon billions of concerns.

  27. Joshua says:

    Russell –

    > Some soi disant Alarmists have been at it ever since Bill Moyers’ The Power of Myth debuted.

    So words can mean whatever you declare them to mean. And you can prove whatever you want to prove by simply declaring it so.

    IOW, Russell has been at [whatever] since [whenever].

  28. Joshua says:

    Now prove me wrong.

  29. yeah, what Joshua said. Civilization decline and collapse almost certainly takes place over an extended period of time when measured against human life span. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCT6Y5JJPKe_JDMivpKgVXew
    so I if you are looking around and start to think about the fall of civilization, you need to do so with an eye to fact that if you are right about the decline, the fall might take a relatively long time. Maybe avoid using time frames or dates by which you think it will happen. It’s a different thing imo to look around and think, hey, some things look like they are going wrong. Maybe we should talk about these things and discuss the severity of identified problems and the paths that might address the problems. I guess if any of the various things that might suggest a decline, like loss of biodiversity, or overshoot, etc. cause you to feel alarm, then you are an alarmist. And that status has been defined by bad faith actors to be a perjorative term, but as the discussion has indicated, if you are alarmed and hence, an alarmist, it does not necessarily justify a perjorative label. I suppose there are similiar deniers out there who just don’t believe the science and deny the seriousness of the problems, but that is dissimilar situation to folks who believe the science and quote the statements of mainstream science as the basis for alarm.

    A nuanced and reasonable response to alarm is something more than slapping a perjorative label on the speaker or trying to cram the position of an alarmed person into a two dimensional grid of boxes. If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail… also, as has been noted: It is very difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.



  30. izen says:

    In recent decades the audience, or buying public on a book about AGW/Climate change was split into two small groups.
    One devoted to rejecting the concept and the other intent on bringing it to a wider audience.

    Through the efforts of the second group, but more especially by real events reported by the MSM, there is now much more widespread acceptance that Climate change/AGW is a real problem. There is now an audience for a book that can appeal to the average slightly interested reader who will welcome the presentation of neutral factual information.
    Along with denigration of the contrarians, AND rejection of the ‘alarmists’.

    There is nothing like the middle way to appeal to the average reader and reassure him/her that while this is a real problem, it is not going to threaten their lifestyle anytime soon.
    Attacking ‘both sides’ and portraying oneself as the moderate voice of reason has always been good marketing.

  31. russellseitz says:

    Mike, thanks for returning to the long view- rhetorical forcing of carbon consumption statistics is a thing, but the decay of climate will be driven by the sum of all radiative forcings, not just those publicized or denied.

    Joshua : “So words can mean whatever you declare them to mean. And you can prove whatever you want to prove by simply declaring it so.”
    What I wrote above, at 10:36 :
    ” Some soi disant Alarmists have been at it ever since Bill Moyers’ The Power of Myth debuted.”
    is demonstrably factual.

    On May 1st,1989, one of them remarked:
    “My purpose is to sound an alarm, loudly and clearly, of imminent and grave danger… ”

    That’s a fact-checked verbatim quote from Senator Albert Gore, CF: The National Interest >A War Against Fire Summer 1990

    As for Joshua proving him selfwrong, res ipse dixit.

  32. Joshua says:

    Russell –

    > is demonstrably factual


    Facts are what [Russell] says they are, no more and no less.

    Check it out.

    Fact-checked statement from big AL PROVES!! that alarmists have been at it since [whenever].

    Of course, I might “prove” that not all alarms sounded are done so my “alarmists.”

    One of my most favorite paste of the skept-o-sphere is just how easy it is to find there, alarmists who are alarmed by alarmism.

    Consider, for example, how the alarmists are going to kill the poors in Africa, replace our democracy with a one-world authoritarian government, etc.

    Why I bet even our much beloved Russell is much alarmed about alarmists! I bet I could even “prove” it!!

  33. Joshua says:

    BTW, Russell, I’m impressed with the Latin. Latin makes silly arguments correct.

  34. Willard says:

    One only needs to posit that alarmists are those who are alarmist and one could let go of the need for facts. In Alasdair’s post, it was used to refer to RogerH, JemB, and GuyM, but then it’s not clear if the term has any specific connotation for it was superseded by “doomism.” The first comment, by RobertB, used another set of culprits: our favorite Mike, AndrewD, and of course Jim:


    Alarmists. Alarmists everywhere.

  35. Willard says:

    At the end of the day, the people to whom one refers matters little. The only thing that matters is that contrarian frames and memes get repeated by Climateball players. Including by those who should know better than to amplify one’s opponent’s frames and memes.

  36. russellseitz says:

    Willard, framing and meme-ing are part of the problem.
    The solution was well summarized by a French mail pilot:
    ” Pour ce qui est de l’avenir, il ne s’agit pas de le prévoir, mais de le rendre possible.

  37. russellseitz says:

    Joshua, years before “big AL” Junior wrote is undergraduate thesis on the effects of television makeup on election outcomes, , Eric Sevareid observed :

    “The truth that makes men free is seldom the one they want to hear.”

    Would translating that into Latin make it any less true ?

    Or does it speak for itself?

  38. Joshua says:

    Russell –

    Break glass to sound alarmist.

  39. Willard says:


    Try as hard as you might to transcend rhetoric, your own website is full of memes, and your editorials are framing issues. I don’t mind, and in fact I like it most of the time. I’m just asking you to own it. Take a look at this:

    How does Riders On The Storm differ from other books on the subject?

    In my emphasis on building and being a community with one another. And in seeking the psychological understanding and spiritual depth to do that.


    Do you think that a Goldilocks story about A’s and D’s is the way to go to accomplish this goal? I don’t think so. In fact I can guarantee you that there are people who don’t buy bothsidesism. I am one of them.

    It’s not to hard to see what triggered Alastair. He’s into revolution theology. I’m far from being unsympathetic to his outlook – Christian existentialists made me look into phenomenology in another life. Yet his whole Weltanschauung stands opposite to despair, and his affliction has little to do with science. How does punching nihilistic hippies will help him in building and being a community with one another?

    The only way I can see this happen is if he succeeds in replacing what News Corp has to sell. In which case I’ll say: more power to him! And more power to nihilistic hippies too: they’ll increase in visibility!

  40. Ben McMillan says:

    Being open to the possibility that the future might involve pretty drastic, even alarming, changes to the status quo is a big part of making the future happen.

    E.g., the people being slandered as “alarmists”, and the reasonable worst-case scenarios being attacked as “extreme”, are involved in the acts of imagination that help us choose our future. Precisely because we cannot predict the future, but must instead create it, we first need to be willing to consider the manifold possibilities that the future offers.

    Sneering at people like Greta is going to look about as embarrassing in 30 years time as sneering at Gore looks now. And even the true fatalists (those two really aren’t, sorry) can be of service to outline the challenges we face.

  41. Chubbs says:

    I find that those tagged with the a word are usually alarmed, while those labeled d, deny it.

  42. Joshua says:

    Chubbs –

    Think of all those who are alarmed about being called a “denier.”

    [They] have been alarmed about being called a denier since [January 16, 1981], when I first saw [some guy named Fred] complain about it.

  43. Chubbs says:

    Josh – I guess both labels are alarming and denied

  44. chubbs said (sort of) “I find that those tagged with the alarmist word are usually alarmed, while those labeled denialists, deny it.”

    I think that illustrates an important difference: The alarmists (I certainly include myself in that group) are truly alarmed. and I think the science suggests there is plenty of reason to be alarmed and the alarmist group is generally accepting the mainstream science conclusions, even if they struggle to understand it.

    The denialist group is generally pushing arguments about global warming that are not in general agreement with the mainstream science conclusions. And, thanks to funding from the fossil fuel industry, the denialist group punches well above its weight. These positions, these practices and points of view don’t really fit at all in the usual ” both sides do it” in my opinion.

    I wince when I see alarmist types say, oh! It’s all over for human beings by 2035 or 2040 or whatever date they throw out. I think those folks do harm to all of us who want to safeguard a reasonable planet for our grandchildren and their grandchildren. I try to always talk about my alarm in terms of impact on 3 to 5 generations. I think that takes nothing away from the urgency I am trying to convey because I hope that the other grandparents out there on the planet love their grandchildren as much as I love mine.

    I don’t wince when alarmists talk about their grief about what they see happening on the planet. I am sympathetic to these folks. There is probably sufficient suffering in certain corners of the world today to justify grief over what our species has done to the planet and how the inequities in contribution to the problem and impact from the changes mean that those who might most need to adjust their lifestyles are also the population that will feel the impacts most lightly. I think anyone with a reasonable sense of fairness might look at this situation and be horrified.

    All that said, folks who want to marginalize alarmed folks will find easy ways to push that agenda. It was ever thus.

  45. mrkenfabian says:

    Russel, I think there is no equivalence between concerned people saying we have a serious global problem and those who claim concerned people and their (allegedly fake) solutions (to an allegedly fake problem) ARE the problem.

    I think we are collectively good at facing major crises – but only when there is widespread agreement that it is a crisis. It is not so much that messaging that is “alarmist” (which usually means false or exaggerated) upsets and alienates people (ie because it is false and exaggerated) as that genuine concerns have come countered by serious and well funded efforts to undermine the credibility of those concerns. Including a lot of use of different kinds of doomist fear – primarily economic alarmist ones that claim the solutions are the problem.

    When people in positions of high trust and responsibility give the imprimatur of legitimacy to lies about climate science and people who take it seriously the potential to work collectively and effectively is a crucial casualty. Blaming those who are most concerned for alienating people – for emphasis on the conservative, middle of the range projections as alarming as much as for emphasising worst case possibilities – is just one more way that Doubt, Deny, Delay politicking works to prevent non-partisan unity of purpose.

    Don’t blame people like me – who are properly terrified by what droughts and bushfires will be like with 3-5 C of global warming (that may be 4-7 C of local warming) – for alienating people by suggesting such an outcome might be bad. If those counter voices weren’t given megaphones and respectability I suspect we’d be getting on with it, a lot more effectively than so far.

  46. angech says:

    Hitting the bigtime? at WUWT and JC?
    Public ClimateBall
    4 hours ago Guest Blogger7 Comments

    Although a game played on a relatively tiny stage, ClimateBall™ points to fundamental processes, which across the vastly larger global public stage and involving billions of meme transactions annually, have…

  47. russellseitz says:

    Willard : Russell, Try as hard as you might to transcend rhetoric, your own website is full of memes, and your editorials are framing issues. I don’t mind, and in fact I like it most of the time. I’m just asking you to own it.

    Of course I own it , Willard,
    But to get to the (mostly other people’s) memes and discussions of framing, you have to read through a banner header that gives fair warning in boldface , sic :

    For the benefit of the sardonically challenged, the sidebar lede reads
    Having known Sin at Hiroshima, Science was bound to run into Advertising sooner or later.

    It has so far collated about 2000 examples of III&H from the thriving web of journals and sources that support the ecology of climate kitsch.

  48. Mal Adapted says:

    Russell, “The truth that makes men free is seldom the one they want to hear” speaks for itself. The key word is ‘seldom’. It’s a numbers game, after all. If history is not wholly foreordained, but social trends like Covering Climate Now have some power to deflect its future trajectory, then the climate-alarmed must hope similarly alarmed journalists can help break through pervasive AGW denial and disguise in high per-capita carbon emitting nations. Carbon capitalists have built an entire propaganda industry to sustain a constant din of denial, often bypassing traditional journalism in favor of new social media, with the goal of preserving fossil-fuel profits by impeding collective action to decarbonize. What social forces can counter-balance the mercenary denialist army? Gore and Greta have their followings, but their voices need amplification. IMHO, journalism has an obligation to make the known dangers of rapid anthropogenic climate change clear, helping those who are appropriately alarmed to achieve stable governing pluralities. Hurrah for CCN!

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