Leading the way with an unbiased climate panel

Guest essay by Tom Harris

Last month, U.S. Rep. David McKinley (R.-WV) hosted an unbiased climate change panel discussion in Fairmont, West Virginia. Experts from both sides of the climate debate participated without restrictions of any kind.

McKinley’s open-minded approach is one that should be copied across the United States. Considering what’s at stake—a human-induced eco-collapse if former Vice-President Al Gore and his allies are correct, or, if skeptics are right, a waste of billions of dollars and the loss of millions of jobs as we experiment with a switch away from coal and other hydrocarbon fuels to alternative energy sources—the risks are too high to do anything less.

No matter what Gore and 350.org founder Bill McKibben tell us, experts in the field know that climate science is highly immature. We are in a period of “negative discovery,” in that the more we learn about climate, the more we realize we do not know. Rather than “remove the doubt,” as Gore tells us should be done, we must recognize the doubt in this, arguably the most complex science ever tackled.

The confidence expressed by Gore, McKibben, and President Barack Obama that mankind is definitely causing dangerous climate change is a consequence of a belief in what professors Chris Essex (University of Western Ontario) and Ross McKitrick (University of Guelph, Ontario) call the “Doctrine of Certainty”. This doctrine is “a collection of now familiar assertions about climate that are to be accepted without question” (Taken by Storm, 2007).

Essex and McKitrick explain, “But the Doctrine is not true. Each assertion is either manifestly false or the claim to know is false. Climate is one of the most challenging open problems in modern science. Some knowledgeable scientists believe that the climate problem can never be solved.”

Creating rational public policy in the face of such uncertainty is challenging. It is therefore important that America’s climate and energy experts are able to speak out without fear of retribution regardless of their points of view. We want climate and energy policies to be based on rigorous science, economics and engineering, coupled with common sense and compassion for our fellow man, not political ideology or vested interests.

Sadly, the exact opposite is the case today. Emotions run high as the climate debate has become intensely polarized—alarmist versus skeptic, conservative versus liberal, capitalist versus socialist. Implications of bias and vested financial interests, as well as logical fallacies (errors in reasoning), have taken the place of considering the facts. Many leading scientists therefore remain silent if their views are not politically correct.

We must clean up the climate change debate to make it easier for experts to participate. In particular, media and politicians should strive to avoid the logical fallacies that are distracting the public from thinking about the issue constructively. Here are some of the fallacies that must be purged from the discussion:

  • Ad Hominem (discredit the man, instead of the idea): By calling those with whom he disagrees “climate deniers”, Gore commits a logical fallacy often used to equate those who question the causes of climate change with Holocaust deniers. It is also wrong because no one is denying that climate changes; only the causes are in dispute.
  • “Climate change denier” is also a thought-terminating cliché. This logical fallacy appears when a phrase is used to suppress an audience’s critical thinking and to allow the presenter to move, uncontested, to other topics.
  • Guilt by association: That a specific viewpoint is promoted by the ‘religious right’ or the ‘loony left’ is irrelevant. A position is either correct or not, or unknown, independent of the affiliations of the presenter.
  • Straw man (arguments based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position): Republicans are not “anti-science”. Neither are Democrats. If they were, they would never fly in an airplane, use cell phones or take vitamins. They simply disagree with each other about the causes of climate change. It is also a straw man argument to imply that anyone doubts that ‘climate change is real’. Neither side actually says this. They know that climate always changes on planets with atmospheres.
  • Red Herring/false analogy: Canada’s leading climate activist David Suzuki tried to associate Tennessee’s approach to the teaching of evolution with their approach to climate change education. Red Herrings like this are usually introduced to divert debate to an issue the speaker believes is easier to defend.

We need politicians and media to help set the stage for an effective discussion of this important issue by avoiding these logical traps. Rep. McKinley has led the way. Let’s hope other leaders soon follow.

Tom Harris is Executive Director of the International Climate Science Coalition.

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85 Responses to Leading the way with an unbiased climate panel

  1. MattN says:

    For the record, I’m all for switching away from coal and to other sources (nat gas, nuclear). The total cost of coal is just too high. Sludge lagoons from mining, the cost to the landscape, the human cost. It’s way more than just installing high-tech scrubbers and calling it a day. Nat gas is significantly cleaner in every way, way easier to get to without risking someone’s life and we have a $#!t-ton of it that will easily carry us until we figure fusion out….

  2. Admad says:

    Very well-stated view of the balance that “should” occur in discussions about climate. It is such a shame that the obvious has to be stated in this way, though.

  3. Sweet Old Bob says:

    Yes. Common sense. What 97% of vested intrests fear!

  4. more soylent green says:

    Rational, fact-based public policy? Dream on!

    BTW: They climate mongers claim their proposals are rational and fact-based.

  5. Alan the Brit says:

    @MattN

    It’s lovely stuff to put on an open fire just under the logs, helps keep me warm in the winter months!!!!! ;-)

  6. Mike M says:

    MattN : “Sludge lagoons from mining, the cost to the landscape, the human cost.”

    Just try to put a damn “price” on it – you cannot. When you look at how coal thoroughly transformed US economy over the last 150 years and can easily be cited as the key factor for more than doubling average life expectancy as well as making our lives MUCH easier over that time, your assertions are completely vacuous. Not only that.. coal is what saved our forests from being stripped to the bone for heat and building materials, (crude oil saved the whales too BTW). Coal enabled mass production of steel, (mining iron ore and making coke for blast furnaces), without which we would have lost WW2 and no one but no one would be talking about ‘saving the planet’ right now – we’d all be busy enough trying to save our children.

  7. philjourdan says:

    Alarmists have to use the tools described because the science does not support their position. Indeed most of the skeptics are in the “do not know” camp. As we learn more, the more we learn we do not know. It is the hard questions that evoke the name calling, straw men, and red herrings because those who pretend to know it all, do not have answers.

  8. David in Michigan says:

    Good essay. I copied your bullet points to my desktop as they apply to all disagreements. Sometimes I need to remind myself of the various methods that are used to argue.

  9. Txomin says:

    Yep. At the core of the problem remains the fact that we have not yet been able to free ourselves from the inanity of political correctness.

  10. Gavin Hetherington says:

    All completely true and as Admad said, shouldn’t need to be stated. The problem is the one identified in “Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks” – I’ve forgotten the author’s name but it’s a novel dealing with belief in spiritualism – and succinctly expressed by the mother of the UK doctor who started the MMR vaccine/autism scare; “He’ll go to any lengths to carry on believing what he already believes”. Applies to both sides of the climate debate and all other controversies.

  11. johnmarshall says:

    MattN, I am afraid you live in a dream world and I wonder from what you intend to get energy? it is only those who deny reality who want to remove fossil fuel use from the energy mix. Since there is no empirical data showing CO2 causing climate change there is no need not to use fossil fuels. It is possible for the coal mining companies to clean up the mess caused by open cast mining leaving an area for wildlife to flourish it just needs forethought and a few cents on the tonne.

  12. C.M. Carmichael says:

    The shift from attempting to base policy on rational science, to rationalizing science to fit policy is the most disturbing. Typical students today upon hearing something they don’t ( won’t, can’t ) believe react by shouting about ” haters”, “denier” or the all encompassing “hate speech”. Most have no idea of how rights are acheived through obligation. They see rights as a chance to voice their opinions freely, instead of the obligation to allow your worst enemy to do the same.

  13. SCheesman says:

    johnmarshall : Did you read MattN’s comment carefully? He is not against the use of fossil fuels in general, and made no mention of CO2. All he said was he thought switching to natural gas was a good idea. Call off the dogs!

  14. Rod Everson says:

    “Just try to put a damn “price” on it (coal) – you cannot. ”

    I share your sentiments on coal (let’s use it – if it’s priced right), but in fact you can put a price on coal, and we’ve done so for decades.

    And, in spite of EPA rulings that have required cleaner and cleaner coal burning plants, and complete reclamation of coal mining sites, coal remained so economically feasible, i.e., competitively-priced, that it has remained one of our main fuel sources. Until recently, that is, when the present administration raised the regulatory hurdles so far and so fast that coal plants are now being decommissioned. This had nothing to do with the price of coal, but rather is due to the fact that regulators anywhere are capable of changing the rules to destroy any enterprise by making the rules too expensive to abide by.

    The environmental movement starts from the assumption that coal usage is bad, period. While the usage isn’t bad per se, the individual effects of mining, transporting, and burning it can of course have injurious effects. In the middle of the 20th century businessmen in coal-fueled cities would sometimes keep a clean white shirt at work to change into due to all the coal ash that had settled on their shirt while getting to work.

    Over the years we cleaned up coal to the point at which no one could reasonably argue with its usage. That’s one reason the CO2 issue is so important to the rabid environmentalist; as long as CO2 production is “bad,” coal can continue to be condemned (and the regulatory burden can continue to be raised, as it has been.)

  15. Ryan says:

    Haha look at the names. Unbiased? Are you joking, Anthony?

    [Perhaps you would be better employed pointing out how the panel exhibited bias. Or are you just a troll? . . mod]

  16. Richard M says:

    Very nice summary of what should be going on in the debate.

    Of course, once you think about it the reason this isn’t happening is obvious. The debate would have been over years ago. The alarmists have nothing that supports their position. The recent warming could have been caused by many factors. The clams it is CO2 are pure conjecture. If this knowledge reached enough people the alarmists would have been laughed out of town. There’s a reason they don’t use logic … and it’s only getting worse for them as time marches on.

  17. Jimbo says:

    The fact that Dr. Paul Jones of CRU was worried about what his colleagues might say about him says volumes about climate scientists with hidden doubts who remain silent. Here is Dr. Jones in private:

    Dr. Phil Jones – Hacked / leaked CRU emails – 5th July, 2005
    “The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998. OK it has but it is only 7 years of data and it isn’t statistically significant….”

    Dr. Phil Jones – Hacked / leaked CRU emails – 7th May, 2009
    ‘Bottom line: the ‘no upward trend’ has to continue for a total of 15 years before we get worried.’

    More openness and honesty is long overdue. The press has started and now it’s down to the scientists who should have lead from the beginning.

  18. Ed_B says:

    Mike M…
    I agree entirely with your counter arguement. We have been (and are) very very lucky to have use of coal to power our prosperity. The enviromental issues have been contained imo.

    With $12 per lb uranium in Kazakhstan now supplying 33% of the worlds U.. and much more available, there is an alternate future staring us in the face once we get over our willies about nuclear power. Talk about cheap, limitless power…

  19. Jim Cripwell says:

    Tom, along with many others I agree with the sentiments of your article. But is faces enormous hurdles in order to be implemented. One of these is the statements by the learned scientific societies; all of which overwhelmingly claim that CAGW is a scientific fact. Until these learned bodies, led by the American Physical Society, and the Royal Society, change their positions to ones that are properly scientific, what you propose is quite simply impractical.

    On a similar issue, the GWPF invited the RS to set a date for a talk on CAGW on 20 th May 2013. So far there has been no response from the RS so far as I can make out. One wonders what excuse the RS is thinking up, so they can wiggle out of this meeting, and save themselves from have their team, led by Prof. Mitchell, being absolutley humiliated.

  20. beng says:

    ***
    MattN says:
    June 14, 2013 at 4:33 am
    ***

    Your post indicates useful-idiot-level understanding, as Rod Everson’s post above demonstrates.

  21. GoneWithTheWind says:

    You don’t understand! This problem is too serious to wait to see if it even exists. We must tax, tax, tax and spend, spend, spend in the vain hope that the warming gods are appeased. We must give up or rights and live hungry in the cold and dark so that Al Gore can fly his corporate jets around the world to save us. Don’t wait! Give up everything now and avoid the rush.

  22. The meeting referred to in this post is another indication of a slow return to reason on this debate.

    As Winston Churchill said: “We can always count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all the other possibilities.” Maybe it will be thus with climate change, too.

  23. Eric Simpson says:

    It’s a great idea on an individual basis to improve our rhetorical and argumentative abilities. But we need collective well-financed media PR / advertising actions to compete with the hideous and insidious Goliath that we face. Put together good ad / PR campaigns, and financing would largely take care of itself, as conservatives would contribute en masse. Think about it. And this (an effective pro-skeptic ad campaign) could have a big impact on elections across the board, aiding conservatives.

    We need something bigger an better than the likes of the laudable Heartland Institute, which isn’t making enough of an impact. We need something new, innovative, and big. We need to get the message out through paid media, the one area where the liberal MSM can’t taint our message. The key is that the issues are on our side, we can win.

    And don’t think we can’t lose otherwise. The issues are on our side, but the MSM and the educational system is on their side, and they can easily twist the truth, and the next thing you know we could be going down the road of Europe, or worse, with a draconian cap & trade or carbon tax or what not. We need to start shaking things up, thinking bigger. Our little skeptic blogs are outstanding for forming arguments, but we are not effectively reaching the majority of voters. Conservatives, yes, the rest, not so much.

  24. cwon14 says:

    What the article is guilty of is equalizing the truly irrational, Joe Romm or Al Gore for example with those who oppose them of many stripes. There is no amount of “discussion” with bought-in advocates of AGW that is going to change reality. AGW is an existential threat to a free individual society at the core. If there are an assorted army of fools and opportunists around the core function that doesn’t matter much.

    If the price for skeptics to “being at the table” is accepting basic AGW talking points as “reasonable” the current censorship and political correctness system might be better.

  25. Barry Cullen says:

    The eco-collapse that we ARE going to see is not ecological, but economic! Printing fiat money (this time $s) has always, i.e. 100%, in the history of civilizations, led to eco-collapse! Albore and his cronies know this, thus their frantic promotion of this scam to make lots of cash now, The bandwagon riders like McKibben et al haven’t a clue what is really meant by eco-collapse.

    Socialism is great, until other peoples money dries up.

  26. jayhd says:

    The big mistake Mr. Harris is making here is believing we can reason with unreasonable people. And the CAGW/man-made climate change crowd are as unreasonable as they come. I don’t give a d*** how good intentioned some may seem to be (remember, the road to hell is paved with good intentions), the CAGW crowd absolutely cannot be reasoned with. They must be defeated at the ballot box, or the U.S. and the rest of the civilized western world will perish.

  27. more soylent green! says:

    I’m not sure what needs to be discussed. There’s no evidence that “carbon” is causing any harmful climate change. There’s no shortage of fossil fuels and we have enough oil and gas resources in the USA that the “stop funding terrorists” with our oil dollars is completely invalid as we can produce enough oil to not buy any foreign oil.

    So I guess a panel would simply use facts to refute the alarmists arguments, and present the position that we really don’t need to do anything, except rollback many of the harmful laws and regulations that are in effect today.

  28. Don says:

    Jim Cripwell says:
    June 14, 2013 at 6:54 am
    “…Until these learned bodies, led by the American Physical Society, and the Royal Society, change their positions to ones that are properly scientific, what you propose is quite simply impractical….”

    Totally agree, Jim. Damaging as it is, CAGW is merely a spot fire of the inferno that is the postmodern politicization of science and education. Extinguish the spot fire only, and seven more will spring up in its stead. Indeed, as reason finally suppresses this particular hot spot (assuming that real science indeed proves it to be a nonissue as appears likely), WUWT and the skeptical blogosphere should broaden their regular coverage to other politiscience hot spots in medicine, agriculture, nutrition, energy, etc. as well as whatever new global crisis is being prepared to replace CAGW, the retreat of which is IMO being managed strategically so as to give time for the new crisis to be set up.

  29. Chris says:

    Check out Drudge. New article on how Obama is coming out with new climate change regs in July. The people quoted are full of hysteria over the climate. Not one sense of balance or context of what is actually happening (no warming for 17 years), or that China has steamed past the US or Europe in terms of emissions.

  30. JimF says:

    According to a Bloomberg article linked by Drudge today, Obama plans to unleash his “global warming initiatives” in July. With the markets already perceiving a coming recession, with that he should be able to continue to do what he does best: wreck the country.

  31. cwon14 says:

    more soylent green! says:
    June 14, 2013 at 8:35 am

    I think the “stop funding terrorist” argument suffers from serious irony, to say the least, when the Obama administration decides to fund 9-11 Terrorists in Syria and is potentially offering a no-fly protection plan up to 50 million dollars a day.

    How’s that for global real politic?

  32. Ryan says:

    Perhaps you would be better employed pointing out how the panel exhibited bias

    Because it has Marc Morano in it? Even the bulk of the mainstream view is represented by outliers with ties to environmental groups. If you want an actual report on the state of the climate question then commission one-done by climate scientists. It’s not hard, it’s just that he wouldn’t like the results. If you want a publicity stunt that further embarasses a nation plagued with pseudoscientific creationists, anti-vaxxers and GMO-alarmists, then this is a great idea.

  33. cwon14 says:

    R. de Haan says:
    June 14, 2013 at 8:52 am

    It’s a “foot in the door” bill and is DOA but still represents social decline and the wimpy and conflicted nature of the skeptical community doesn’t help. You think you that bill is going to be stopped with spaghetti graphs and science?

    Not likely.

  34. cwon14 says:

    Ryan says:
    June 14, 2013 at 8:53 am

    What should really be done is a full political expose of “climate science” and its natural ties to statist authority, its agenda as well as traditional left-wing academic culture. It is embarrassing but it’s also reality.

  35. Rob Dawg says:

    As a “skeptic” I am insulted by the very premise of the panel. Bringing together unbiased skeptics and highly biased proponents of CAGW does not create an unbiased panel.

  36. MarkW says:

    I”d call the panel balanced rather than unbiased. Unfortunately, when it comes to this issue, everybody is biased. The best you can hope for is to balance the biases.

  37. R. de Haan says:

    @cwon14 says:
    June 14, 2013 at 8:56 am
    R. de Haan says:
    June 14, 2013 at 8:52 am

    It’s a “foot in the door” bill and is DOA but still represents social decline and the wimpy and conflicted nature of the skeptical community doesn’t help. You think you that bill is going to be stopped with spaghetti graphs and science?

    Not likely.

    You could be right but they said the same about the “Migration Bill”.

    These people will never, ever give up. Insanity Rules.

  38. Toto says:

    Add FUD to the list, using fear as a tactic. Fear of frying, fear of nuke power, fear of fracking, and so on. People do not make rational decisions when they are panicked. People are not rational when they are afraid. Inciting the mob, it’s not pretty.

  39. jguenther5 says:

    “Some knowledgeable scientists believe that the climate problem can never be solved.” –McKitrick & Essex

    Those scientists must be wrong. What will James Hansen do in his retirement if the problem can’t be reduced to y = mx + b, where m is a scary number? Must all the carbon-loathing sheep abandon their dreams of becoming his little assistant messiahs? The answer is a resounding ‘NO!’ All they need is much bigger computers and more of your dollars. Lots more.

    /sarc

  40. MattN – made a very reasonable comment on Natural Gas and some folks trashed it. Guess there are short fused biased people in all walks of society. I live where I can choose coal, natural gas, wind, solar and diesel. I take that which costs me less and is readily available. But I use both propane and gasoline backup generator sets on the farm. Guess what. They all emit H20 and CO2 so I guess for some I am a “polluter” but I grow hay and trees to offset – oh but my animals defecate and pass flatulance so I go back to the polluting side. Farming is clearly bad for the environment so we should stop it and starve all the people in the cities … then there won’t be anyone to notice what we do in the country./sarc off

    And Ryan, why don’t you join me out here on the farm hauling water and feed to the field at 40 below? No sarcasm Ryan. Come see how people work on the land for little or no return just because it is better than living in a smoggy city.

    LOL

    Any debate is better than no debate especially since the issue was long ago declared “settled”

    Nothing is as we wish it, but nothing is as it seems.

  41. tommoriarty says:

    “Considering what’s at stake—a human-induced eco-collapse if former Vice-President Al Gore and his allies are correct, or, if skeptics are right” human-induced EGO-collapse FOR former Vice-President Al Gore and his allies.

  42. MattN says:

    Johnmarshall said: “MattN, I am afraid you live in a dream world and I wonder from what you intend to get energy? it is only those who deny reality who want to remove fossil fuel use from the energy mix. Since there is no empirical data showing CO2 causing climate change there is no need not to use fossil fuels.”

    It’s obvious you did not read my post at all. If you had, you would have noticed that at NO TIME in my post did I mention CO2 as a reason to get off coal. No, you just read PART of sentence #1, shut the brain down and ASS-U-MEd I was some sort of left wing nutjob. “From what (do I) intend to get energy?” You very obviously didn’t read where I clearly spelled out natural gas and nuclear. Some left wing nut job I am, huh? Stop putting words in my posts that don’t exist.

    My family’s North Carolina organic beef farm is downwind in the same county as the Cliffside steam plant, so you’ll have to forgive me if I’d prefer they power that thing with significantly cleaner natural gas instead of coal….

  43. Bruce Cobb says:

    Mr. Harris is being unreasonable here. Without the logical fallacies he gave, along with the biggie – the bogus as well as illogical “consensus” argument, the Warmists have got nothing but a wild conjecture with practically no evidence to support it whatsoever. That wouldn’t be fair, would it?

  44. Chris D. says:

    Bravo for this honest appeal for civil discourse!

    I recently came across this video which evoked much thought:

    When you get down to it, whether “left” or “right”, what we’re really talking about is bigotry.

  45. Stephen Richards says:

    Mike M says:

    June 14, 2013 at 5:19 am
    MattN : “Sludge lagoons from mining, the cost to the landscape, the human cost.”

    I think this may be the worst comment of the decade and the life of this blog. The comment to which you made this reply was a perfectly reasonable one laying out that persons opinion and wish. He was right about everything he said and so were you BUT you failed to understand that in giving us all those benefits, coal gave us the time to improve our lives and spend time thinking of better ways to power them. We are at the next stage of those better ways and MattN is correct in what he said.

    I’ve been down the redundant pits of wales, I saw the news when many children were buried alive by their waste. Yes it was a price to be payed but not the right price. Take your “vacuous” and stuff it where it cannot be reused.

  46. Rob says:

    Guest Blogger posted: “Guest essay by Tom Harris

    Last month, U.S. Rep. David McKinley (R.-WV) hosted an unbiased climate change panel discussion in Fairmont, West Virginia. Experts from both sides of the climate debate participated without restrictions of any kind.”

  47. Ryan says:

    “And Ryan, why don’t you join me out here on the farm hauling water and feed to the field at 40 below? No sarcasm Ryan. Come see how people work on the land for little or no return just because it is better than living in a smoggy city.”

    Grew up in a farm town with summers in the 110’s, thanks. I have a good handle on what work feels like.

  48. Ryan says:

    “I”d call the panel balanced rather than unbiased. Unfortunately, when it comes to this issue, everybody is biased. The best you can hope for is to balance the biases.”

    Balanced? Maybe. So would a debate between Richard Dawkins and Henry Morris. It still wouldn’t accomplish much or reveal much detailed truth. Real scientific truth requires details, lots of them.

  49. Reg Nelson says:

    Ryan says:
    June 14, 2013 at 11:18 am
    “I”d call the panel balanced rather than unbiased. Unfortunately, when it comes to this issue, everybody is biased. The best you can hope for is to balance the biases.”

    Balanced? Maybe. So would a debate between Richard Dawkins and Henry Morris. It still wouldn’t accomplish much or reveal much detailed truth. Real scientific truth requires details, lots of them.
    ——-
    And unfortunately the only way, it seems, to try and obtain details is through FOIA requests and lawsuits. That alone should be telling.

    If you read the Climategate emails you would know why they hide behind curtains and closed doors. Climate Scientists have no stomach for the truth — it doesn’t fit their agenda.

  50. mwhite says:

    “Climate scientists and meteorologists will discuss 2013’s coldest spring in more than 50 years, analyse droughts and floods in 2012, which made it one of the wettest years on record as well as the extremely snowy winter of 2010.”

    http://news.sky.com/story/1103633/wild-weather-met-office-calls-urgent-talks

    “Tuesday’s emergency meeting will also debate whether the changing weather pattern in the UK, and in northern Europe, is because of climate change or simply variable weather.”

  51. Ryan says:

    “And unfortunately the only way, it seems, to try and obtain details is through FOIA requests and lawsuits.”

    No, that’s how you get quotes to take out of context. The state of climate science is quite easily accessible through multiple reports in all kinds of places.

  52. Reg Nelson says:

    Ryan says:
    June 14, 2013 at 12:53 pm
    “And unfortunately the only way, it seems, to try and obtain details is through FOIA requests and lawsuits.”

    No, that’s how you get quotes to take out of context. The state of climate science is quite easily accessible through multiple reports in all kinds of places.
    ——————
    Really? Please point me in the direction of a report that details the multiple revisions made to the GISS data, and explanations and justification for why this was done, who approved it, etc.?

    Also please explain the context of Phil Jones saying “Why should I show him my work? He’s only going to find something wrong with it.”

    What context makes that acceptable behavior for taxpayer funded scientist?

  53. goldminor says:

    johnmarshall says:
    June 14, 2013 at 6:11 am
    It is possible for the coal mining companies to clean up the mess caused by open cast mining leaving an area for wildlife to flourish it just needs forethought and a few cents on the tonne.
    —————————————————————————————————————
    That is a good point. Although one has to wonder why this was not done in the first place. They should have tacked on those extra pennies, so that they could make a profit and safeguard the public,s need for a healthy environment. Look at that terrible coal waste spill from several years ago. People had their properties destroyed and water contaminated by that toxic sludge. All because the company would not put enough effort into monitoring their pile and making the containment as close to bulletproof as possible. They will never get that ground back to a usable state for a long time to come. Nature will probably have to do most of the cleanup over time. I would like to see them take a few hundred tons of that waste and dump it on the multi-million dollar properties of the big shots who call the shots. Let them feel what it is like to have your dream, your castle ruined by carelessness and thoughtlessness.

  54. Bruce Cobb says:

    It’s too late anyway. The debate is over. The Climatists have lost, though they will try to continue on, as there’s tons of funding at stake, as well as careers and over-inflated egos.

  55. RERT says:

    Folks – Especially Mr.Watts – I can’t agree more than a neutral rational debate would be a huge advance.

    How about a truly anonymous blog, heavily moderated – editing responses – to remove all the propaganda BS on both sides, the debating tactics noted in the article. If we started to see real debate between real climatologists speaking without fear, it could be a huge advance.

    Could save the world. Is it possible? What technical/administrative processes are needed?

    I’d be up for doing some moderation!

  56. R. de Haan says:

    Unbiased climate policy? Replace the President of the USA, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-13/obama-tells-keystone-foes-he-will-unveil-climate-measures.html the EU Apparatchiks and the UN, undo Agenda 21 and close down the Club of Rome. In short start a counter revolution to end the “First World Revolution”: http://green-agenda.com

    They never give up. It’s like a herpes infection. You have to kill the host to get rid of it.

  57. Steven Mosher says:

    Science is not a debate. Having a debate, regardless of the outcome, will prove one thing; science is not a debate.

  58. Kev-in-Uk says:

    Steven Mosher says:
    June 14, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    That’s correct, Steve, at least, it is in the context of REAL science – i.e following the scientific method ! – which climate ‘science’ clearly does NOT!
    BUT – and this is the crux of the AGW argument – If if WERE real science – with data, hypotheses, proofs and observations to properly VALIDATE the hypotheses (I refuse to use the term theory!) – there would be no need for fecking DEBATE ! Real science works THAT way – not the pseudo climate science way!
    The only reason ‘we’ are debating is because the science (and yeah, climate science is not in that category IMHO) is NOT, repeat NOT, settled. The alleged ‘experts’ are telling us that something is ‘black’ – when we can all clearly see that (the data) is is actually ‘white’, or at best a slightly off-white! – but they and the warmists are too stupid and full of zealotry to see it.

  59. manicbeancounter says:

    Tom Harris is right about the need for open debate, and the various methods used to discourage criticism.
    However, a proper evaluation needs some ground rules. In a criminal court, there are rules of evidence that apply equally to both prosecution and defence. CAGW makes projections about a future catastrophe. It does not ask closed questions (true/false, guilty/not guilty) but questions of degree. There are the same questions that a court would ask (weighting of evidence, from high-quality DNA to hearsay), but also questions of magnitude and likelihood of events that have yet to happen (if at all). This I introduced last year.
    http://manicbeancounter.com/2012/10/26/costs-of-climate-change-in-perspective/
    There is also another aspect Tom Harris touches upon. If Climate Science was a confident, progressing science, it would be trumpeting its past successes, demonstrating how it was building on the best scientific traditions, and showing a moral concern that the policy recommendation were being properly monitored – to prevent the “medicine” being worse than the original problem. None of these have happened.
    http://manicbeancounter.com/2013/05/29/three-positive-ways-to-counter-climate-denial/

  60. Gunga Din says:

    Ryan says:
    June 14, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Balanced? Maybe. So would a debate between Richard Dawkins and Henry Morris. It still wouldn’t accomplish much or reveal much detailed truth. Real scientific truth requires details, lots of them.

    ====================================================================
    Or just the right tree ring.

  61. Steven Mosher says:

    “Kev-in-Uk says:
    June 14, 2013 at 4:17 pm
    Steven Mosher says:
    June 14, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    That’s correct, Steve, at least, it is in the context of REAL science – i.e following the scientific method ! – which climate ‘science’ clearly does NOT!

    ##################
    A) climate science is like every other observational science.
    B) there is no such thing as real science. There is science as it is practiced. The
    way to judge climate science is to compare it to other observational sciences.
    I assume you know the difference between labratory science and observational
    science.

    ####################
    BUT – and this is the crux of the AGW argument – If if WERE real science – with data, hypotheses, proofs and observations to properly VALIDATE the hypotheses (I refuse to use the term theory!) – there would be no need for fecking DEBATE ! Real science works THAT way – not the pseudo climate science way!

    A) there is data.
    B) there are hypotheses> For example, in the 18th century scientists predicted that
    If C02 increased the temperature would go up. The original estimate was a bit high.
    Not unlike original estimates for the speed of light.
    C) Hypotheses are never validated. You dont understand science. Hypotheses are
    confirmed or disconfirmed. Science is induction not deduction.
    D) You may think there is a need for a debate, but you havent established that with anything
    No data. no hypothesis. no evidence that a debate is needed or helpful.
    E) real science works exactly how it works. Observe what scientists do. They are doing
    science. If you think they should do something else, then you are making an ethical
    argument or normative argument. You have no standing to make this argument.
    If you think they should do science differently, do you own science. I did. It was fun.

    ############################################
    The only reason ‘we’ are debating is because the science (and yeah, climate science is not in that category IMHO) is NOT, repeat NOT, settled.

    A) there are other reasons you are debating.
    B) no science is settled, but you dont debate gravity. That is, like all sciences climate science is not settled. read AR4 or Ar5 you will see that it isnt settled. So, you are not debating the science merely because someone said it was settled. If I told you 2+2=5 was settled, would you debate me because I said it was settled or beacuse I was wrong.
    Logically, you are not debating this because someone said it was settled. You debate it because you think it is wrong, perhaps.

    “The alleged ‘experts’ are telling us that something is ‘black’ – when we can all clearly see that (the data) is is actually ‘white’, or at best a slightly off-white! – but they and the warmists are too stupid and full of zealotry to see it.”

    Really? I’ve always seen data presented as grey +-. Maybe you should read more real science and less blog science.

  62. Steven Mosher says:

    Kev

    ‘The alleged ‘experts’ are telling us that something is ‘black’ – when we can all clearly see that (the data) is is actually ‘white’, or at best a slightly off-white! – but they and the warmists are too stupid and full of zealotry to see it.””

    I also found this odd. If I told you that up was down and down was up why would you want to debate it with me? In other words, you seem to be convinced that the thing is “white” at the same time you claim that science isnt settled. But in your mind it is settled that the thing is white. While you also think the other guy says the thng is black and he thnks his position is settled. That seems like a fruitless debate. he can never convince yu that black is white and you can never convince him that white is black. So a debate would be the last thing you would want. A war would be a better option.

    Lastly, by demanding a debate you guys realize that you are practicing post normal science.

  63. Mario Lento says:

    RERT says:
    June 14, 2013 at 2:55 pm
    Folks – Especially Mr.Watts – I can’t agree more than a neutral rational debate would be a huge advance.

    How about a truly anonymous blog, heavily moderated – editing responses – to remove all the propaganda BS on both sides, the debating tactics noted in the article. If we started to see real debate between real climatologists speaking without fear, it could be a huge advance.

    Could save the world. Is it possible? What technical/administrative processes are needed?

    I’d be up for doing some moderation!
    ++++++++++++++++++++
    I think Anthony does a stellar job with moderation –and when clipping posts, he does it so we can see why a post was clipped. He and mods keep us well-behaved and balanced. Al points of view get their say. What you’re asking for is what’s on SkS… they consider anyone who pokes holes in the belief of CAGW to be “propaganda BS” etc. and don’t allow it. Hence their site performs to your recipe. Sorry, but I believe in free speech, not “heavily moderated…” content. I’ll stick with WUWT.

  64. goldminor says:

    Wouldn’t the debate be geared more for public consumption and education? Right now as it stands most people probably get their climate change storyline from watching media that is almost entirely composed of one side of the argument. It is that way because the backing behind the hypothesis has gained significant political inroads to have their voice as the sole source for mainstream. I have a neighbor friend that I talk with. His view is completely from the one sided point of view that he has garnered from watching ‘TV’. AGW proponents have claimed that the science is settled. All that we need to know is already known. No less than the main US idiot in charge, the less than honorable Moniz, has declared that there is no other side to this conversation. How scientific is that?

  65. rogerknights says:

    Lastly, by demanding a debate you guys realize that you are practicing post normal science.

    Or implicitly calling for a Science Court, which was proposed back in the early (?) 70s, before (?) PNS.

  66. Mario Lento says:

    Steven Mosher says:
    June 14, 2013 at 8:24 pm
    Kev

    ‘The alleged ‘experts’ are telling us that something is ‘black’ – when we can all clearly see that (the data) is is actually ‘white’, or at best a slightly off-white! – but they and the warmists are too stupid and full of zealotry to see it.””

    I also found this odd. If I told you that up was down and down was up why would you want to debate it with me? In other words, you seem to be convinced that the thing is “white” at the same time you claim that science isnt settled. But in your mind it is settled that the thing is white. While you also think the other guy says the thng is black and he thnks his position is settled. That seems like a fruitless debate. he can never convince yu that black is white and you can never convince him that white is black. So a debate would be the last thing you would want. A war would be a better option.

    Lastly, by demanding a debate you guys realize that you are practicing post normal science.
    +++++++++++++++
    Mosher: YOU JUST BROKE THE RULES AND SET UP A STRAWMAN.

    No: You changed the words that Kev used. Kev said white or off white, but not black. Then you through in two new words omitting that there was some doubt to make it seem he was saying something he did not say. Then you say he made a claim that what you said he said was odd. What is odd is you Mosher.

    He is saying that the models were WRONG. That’s easy to say because they were wrong and they admit that now. It is not debatable that the models were wrong. I think you really do understand what you’re doing with your clever wordsmithing. But it’s in the troll territory and I call fowl on you.

  67. _Jim says:

    SCheesman says June 14, 2013 at 6:43 am

    johnmarshall : Did you read MattN’s comment carefully? He is not against the use of fossil fuels in general, and made no mention of CO2. All he said was he thought switching to natural gas was a good idea. Call off the dogs!

    MattN attempts a perceived ‘fallacy of anachronism’ (re-sequencing events or possible events or discoveries in time or history); natural gas was _not_ an option in the not too distant past and MattN would seem to assume in his argument that it _has_ existed, but simply was not used or utilized (for reasons unspecified) … things like this seem ‘common’ among lay people and simple consumers of services and supplies who don’t / have never considered other ‘logistics’ besides making the simple ‘mental’ decision or choice.

    The ‘changeover’ from a solid combustible to a gaseous (liquid under special circumstances) fuel in the generation of electricity is not a zero-cost option. Much in the way of distribution / transportation logistics as well as end-point infrastructure (boilers, gas turbine equipment, etc) change-over or -out are required as well, and none are zero-cost.

    .

  68. R. de Haan says:

    Asking the right question: Question for Merkel: Who decides if climate change is happening?http://deutsche-wirtschafts-nachrichten.de/2013/06/15/frage-an-merkel-wer-entscheidet-ob-es-den-klima-wandel-gibt/

  69. Dave says:

    The chance to have an honest debate has long since passed. IMO, the only thing that will resolve this issue is to have a no-holds barred slobberknocker of a fight between the two sides of this issue. Both sides may bring anything and everything at their disposal and have it out in full view of the public, totally uncensored, and then let the public decide who has the better argument.

  70. Thomas says:

    “Some knowledgeable scientists believe that the climate problem can never be solved.” –McKitrick & Essex

    Now, this quote has been taken in context. We are talking about people who figure that defining “average temperature” is a problem too hard to solve. Geometric, harmonic or aritmetic mean is equally sensible, and it makes perfect sense to replace missing data with 0 C in your calculation.
    http://rabett.blogspot.se/2005/11/temperature-rex-bites-essex-and.html

  71. Hugh K says:

    “We need politicians and media to help set the stage for an effective discussion of this important issue by avoiding these logical traps.”

    Politicians and media to help? Well, in the person of Rep. David McKinley, we can realistically claim at least one politician is helping to set the stage for an effective discussion (not overlooking the efforts over many years of Sen Inhofe and a few others).

    But where is the old media? Can anyone recall just one alphabet network reporting this story? And regretfully, most politicians only care about face time on these networks, if doing so supports their ongoing campaigning efforts. Change the media and we can change the politicians. However, currently both are of a singular mindset. That current mindset is not one of openness nor transparency. Based on the stalling and obfuscation displayed by various factions of government witnessed (but seldom reported) in the recent congressional hearings while attempting to investigate the many scandals perpetuated by a large number of government agencies coupled with a collective old media group yawn, I remain skeptical the majority of the old media will decide to help set the stage for any honest discussion on any topic.

    Regardless, kudos to Rep. McKinley for reintroducing common sense to the discussion. As Mr. Harris pointed out….it’s a start.

  72. cwon14 says:

    JimF says:
    June 14, 2013 at 8:48 am

    The warming proposals are designed to placate the hard core left (warmers and greens of course) as the XL Pipeline is going to be approved. It’s still evil as it confirms the junk science ideas of the left while making a minor concession on the pipeline.

  73. David In Wisconsin says:

    If, according to an earlier column on WUWT, we haven’t had a statistically significant rise in temperature since 1850 (0.8 C if memory serves) – why are we even discussing man caused warming?

  74. Brendan H says:

    Mosher: ‘he can never convince yu that black is white and you can never convince him that white is black.’

    And this points to another interesting aspect of the climate debate (and of any debate for that matter): the remarkable similarity between the arguments deployed by both sides, especially at the extremes.

    Thus there are common appeals to catastrophism, and common claims of funding corruption, hidden agendas, ideologically induced bias, name calling, cherry picking and so on, not to mention the garden-variety accusations of ad hominen and various other forms of logical fallacy.

    Given these similarities, and their ubiquity, ‘cleaning up the debate’ would be a heroic task, although certainly one worth pursuing.

  75. goldminor says:

    Brendan H says:
    June 15, 2013 at 3:24 pm
    And this points to another interesting aspect of the climate debate (and of any debate for that matter): the remarkable similarity between the arguments deployed by both sides, especially at the extremes.
    ———————————————————————————————————————————-
    The rise in acrimonious comments I can agree with. I do not see where both sides support catastrophic endings, though. Could you elaborate on that?
    Recently, I read a comment on WUWT that explained there is no cherry picking in regards to going back from the present time to draw an inference between an earlier time frame. That made wondrous sense to me. So simple! Actual cherry picking would be something like going back to the early 1800s and drawing a line forward, without detailing the important known facts that led up to that starting point. Such as noting the long temp rise from the 1800s till now, without mentioning that this period was preceded by a Grand Minimum. This fact which is left out by the warmists side ends up creating false understandings in many people. Another example would be a graph of whatever time frame that does not include up to the date data such as the last 5 or 10 years, where that last bit of data would negate the validity of the suppositions draw upon from the more limited data set.

  76. Brendan H says:

    Goldminor: ‘I do not see where both sides support catastrophic endings, though. Could you elaborate on that?’

    What I had in mind were comments like these:

    ‘…Obama plans to unleash his “global warming initiatives” in July … with that he should be able to continue to do what he does best: wreck the country.’
    ‘The eco-collapse that we ARE going to see is not ecological, but economic!’
    ‘They must be defeated at the ballot box, or the U.S. and the rest of the civilized western world will perish.’

    From my readings of sceptical blogs, these sorts of sentiments are reasonably common, and mirror in intensity the more catastrophist views of some warmers.

    As for cherry picking, my point was that both sides accuse the other of cherry picking, so there’s that commonality, as you yourself have demonstrated.

    But I don’t think it’s surprising that people of different sides of an issue should use similar arguments. After all, we are one species and there are only so many arguments to use. Inevitably, there will be both replication and repetition.

    Recognising the problem of poor communication – if there is one – is not difficult. The hard part is taking steps to improve it.

  77. goldminor says:

    Brendan H says:
    June 15, 2013 at 4:26 pm
    ————————————
    I would agree that the current administrations maneuvers will be economically harmful to the US. That does not necessarily imply catastrophe, but rather some amount of damage that will take some time to recover from. Given the weakness in the world at this time, I would say that there is some probability of that damage becoming severe over time depending on unforeseen circumstances. These are monetary issues which can be verified, whereas the catastrophic claims of the AGW believers say that the world will be destroyed and humanity cast down to the dark ages or eliminated entirely. Many animal species will be destroyed. That is catastrophic rhetoric with no proven basis for reality. Mismanaging large scale economics can have severe consequences to the well being of a nation, or in our modern global economy this can be potentially destabilizing to a large segment of the world population. History proves that this can happen, and therein lies the difference between claims made by the two sides.

    The big question has to do with the true direction climate change is taking. All of the current catastrophic induced policy decisions that this administration would like to see implemented are going to severely crimp our ability to address important issues. CO2 induced warming is not proven. To make matters worse, it seems that there is a high probability of a continued cooling trend that will stay in place for several decades. This will be the complete opposite of what this administration and other nations foresee. If this potential long term cooling deepens, then everyone will be facing in the wrong direction and will have spent much treasure to joust with windmills. Where will the resources come to adapt to a potentially real threat, outside of bankrupting everyone?

  78. Brendan H says:

    Goldminor: ‘I would agree that the current administrations maneuvers will be economically harmful to the US. That does not necessarily imply catastrophe…’

    My comments are not about the substance of any claimed harm to the US economy from actions of the current administration. I don’t have any particular view on that. I was answering a query you raised about appeals to catastrophe as a type of argument.

    I gave three examples – just from this thread. Claims of wrecking the economy, economic collapse and the destruction of the western world easily come under the category of catastrophe talk.

  79. goldminor says:

    Brendan H says:
    June 15, 2013 at 4:26 pm
    ‘…Obama plans to unleash his “global warming initiatives” in July … with that he should be able to continue to do what he does best: wreck the country.’
    ‘The eco-collapse that we ARE going to see is not ecological, but economic!’
    ‘They must be defeated at the ballot box, or the U.S. and the rest of the civilized western world will perish.’
    ———————————————————————————-
    I do not agree with Obama,s agenda in regards to climate change. Yes, I believe that his policy decisions and those of his top people will be harmful to our economy. Yet, I don’t view that as necessarily catastrophic, and there is a pragmatic basis for viewing the administrations behaviour in this regard. There are probably some that hold the view that Obama will bring catastrophe, but on the warmists side all of the supporters of the co2 concept believe in a catastrophic ending if co2 is not reined in. This is where there is no similarity between the two sides. A few sceptics opinions vs all of the warmists firmly entrenched belief system.

  80. Brendan H says:

    Goldminor: ‘…but on the warmists side all of the supporters of the co2 concept believe in a catastrophic ending if co2 is not reined in.’

    That reads like a hasty generalisation. How do you know that ‘all’ on the warming side take the catastrophic view? You would need some strong evidence to support that claim. And as I say, claims about supposed catastrophe – economic and political — resulting from actions to deal with climate change are reasonably common among sceptics.

    Perhaps of more interest is why people seek to distance themselves from their debating opponents. In my view, among other things it has something to do with personal and group identity, and the desire not to ‘be like them’.

    If so, the potential for rapprochment on climate is probably fairly low, especially by the more committed on both sides, although I’m always hopeful that people can find some common ground.

  81. goldminor says:

    Brendan H says:
    June 17, 2013 at 2:33 am
    ———————————–
    Yes, that is a sweeping generalization. I would agree. Almost all would have been a better choice. I make the statement, though, from my personal experience of discussing CC over the last 5 years. Initially, I was concerned about the story that I was hearing. It did not take long though to see which side of the story made more sense. During all of that time, the warming crowd became more strident in their claims and more abusive in their remarks against those who did not agree with their view. It was this last act of theirs that really woke me up. Why would a group who seemingly had all of the right answers have to resort to derogatory attacks to prove their message? I have made 6018 comments at Newsvine over that period of time and I read ‘all’ comments in an article. So I would say that I have a strong base to draw some conclusions/inferences on the integrity of the 2 sides. Of course, the main reason for taking the sceptic side 100% had to do with the growth of understanding as I input quite a bit of information into my ‘computer’.

    Getting back to which side flies the ‘catastrophe banner’, I still disagree with your premise. The world of economics has a significant historical data stream to draw inferences from. The co2 conjecture does not. There could very well be catastrophic economic events. History proves this beyond the shadow of a doubt. There is no history that sets the foundation for co2 to be the major driver of the Earth,s overall climate.

  82. Resourceguy says:

    Clearly extraterrestrial. They could not have come from around here.

  83. Brendan H says:

    Goldminor: ‘Initially, I was concerned about the story that I was hearing. It did not take long though to see which side of the story made more sense.’

    Interesting progression. My experience was the opposite. Initially sceptical, I read further on the science and was persuaded that the warming side at least had a case.

    So there we have it: two narratives, same evidence, different conclusions.

    ‘Why would a group who seemingly had all of the right answers have to resort to derogatory attacks to prove their message?’

    You could ask the same question of sceptics. Fact is, nobody comes out snow white when it comes to derogatory comments, but that’s the nature of human beings, exacerbated by the anonymous and immediate nature of the internet.

  84. MattN says:

    Jim said: “MattN attempts a perceived ‘fallacy of anachronism’ (re-sequencing events or possible events or discoveries in time or history);”

    I did no such thing and have no idea where you get that. You guys are pretty unbelievable.

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