Quote of the Week #18 – "fait accompli"

It seems more and more, people are questioning the supposed consensus on climate change. Now we see some journalists asking questions too.


It is said that science is self correcting, politics, not so much, but it has been known to happen. Now when we have writers at major newspapers asking questions about why the climate hasn’t warmed in the past few years, one can hope that politics will start asking questions before we sell our productivity down the carbon rabbit hole.

Robert Bradley writes in to alert us of this quote of the week:

“For a long time now, science reporters have been confidently told the science is settled…. But I am confused [by recent developments]. Four years ago this all seemed like a fait accompli. Humans were unquestionably warming the climate and changing the planet forever through their emissions of carbon dioxide.”

– Eric Berger, Science Writer, Houston Chronicle, September 6, 2009 [SciGuy Blog]

More on Bradley’s blog here:

Climate Alarmism on the Hot Seat: Eric Berger, Houston Chronicle Science Writer, Wants to Know What’s Up

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Gary Pearse
September 7, 2009 12:27 pm

It’s begun!

September 7, 2009 12:54 pm

What happened is that, collectively as a society, we forgot why we write things down as they happen, and we also forgot to check the past. What that leads to is yet another hysterical panic over that which we have no control over. The assumption was that man had ascended into control over the climate, and had overridden it. When things started to change, the behavior of those who proclaimed the warming message got desperate. Seeking to silence the opposition and alter the record of the past proved to be a big undoing. Further, the alliance of the warmist with political ambitions has led to intense political opposition, and yes, they have made hard political enemies.
Today, as we watch the progression of years grow colder despite the alteration of records, as we hear pounding alarms in stark contrast to what is going on outside, there is a story unfolding. It’s the Sun. Having zero control or predictive power over it, the attempts to bury the spectacle has instead fueled consternation and scurried digging into the past in an effort to peg how is stacks up.
NASA calls it Deep Solar Minimum, and it’s no fluke.
It’s consequences can only be surmised in a vague manner, not knowing how long it will last or how low it will sink.
For now, it is truly the science story of the 21st Century.

September 7, 2009 12:55 pm

The prophet, as far as I know, has been silent all the summer long, and that’s meaningful.

September 7, 2009 1:06 pm

I’m waiting for Andy Revkin to flip. It’s not as if he hasn’t been properly instructed, and I’ve faith in his honesty and his curiosity. He’s been a long term global warming believer, though.

September 7, 2009 1:20 pm

Well, the fat lady hasn’t sung yet, but at least the choir is getting tuned up. We will see how it unfolds.

Ron de Haan
September 7, 2009 1:25 pm

Better late than never.
Although it must be said that in general the big media and their journalist have
performed a very bad job on the issue.
The word “disgrace” is a rightful description of their performance.

Mark Fawcett
September 7, 2009 1:25 pm

Very interesting read, thanks for the link Mr Watts.
OT – You appear to be heading very rapidly to the 20,000,000 hits mark – some going as it only seems a wee while ago the 10,000,000 was reached!

September 7, 2009 1:41 pm

Even the Dutch Tulip craze finally collapsed and so will AGW, but at the cost of vast amounts of money spent for nothing. What worries myself as a scientist, is the climate science selection of data to prove the AGW viewpoint and the tossing out of any data that contradicts it. In Australia, proof was offered of how droughts were becoming commonplace – based only on the last 50 years. Including the records back to 1850 actually showed that there was nothing out of the ordinary.
Science itself – not just Climate Science – is taking on the aspect of arguments based on feelings rather than logic. That is bad for everybody.

F Rasmin
September 7, 2009 2:12 pm

What is needed is a huge science breakthrough on any major subject in order to show people that the emperor does have clothes.

September 7, 2009 2:17 pm

Well news.com.au still thinks the science is settled. In their 2009 “Green Awards” (http://www.news.com.au/features/0,,5019059,00.html) (You know Easter is to Christians as “Green Awards” is to Alarmists.) they awarded the “Can Do Better” Award to Australian Senator Steven Fielding, because he actually dared to ask why the world had cooled over the past few years whilst CO2 went up. It appears he’s a Warming Alarmist Heretic!

John F. Hultquist
September 7, 2009 2:20 pm

You can quote me on this: It is not over!
The folks interested in controlling your lives will not be deterred by a few inconvenient facts and a few uncooperative news reporters. They still think you are guilty and must pay. Just how their accusation and evidence of your guilt transitions is a more fascinating question than how much ice the Arctic Ocean will or will not have next week or next summer. The temperatures will go up and down, ice area and extent will go up and down. You are still supposed to feel guilty, and even if you don’t, you must still pay.

Leon Brozyna
September 7, 2009 2:40 pm

Tip of the day ~ Do not stand in front of fans or on rugs. Seems that AGW believers (among others) are doing both. Real science will survive, its blemishes quickly forgiven and forgotten (think geology & plate tectonics).

September 7, 2009 2:56 pm

@ KimW (13:41:36) :
It helps to remember that before “science and scientists”, there were oracles, alchemists, witches, warlocks, astrology, etc., etc.. Many (especially politicians ) are unable to distinguish the differences. The jury is still out on whether Logic ( or Intelligence ), is a desirable species survival trait. In the end, it’s all still about reproductive supremacy.

Simon Hart
September 7, 2009 2:57 pm

Check out this link: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17742-worlds-climate-could-cool-first-warm-later.html Looks like the warmists are getting their excuses ready:

Mr Lynn
September 7, 2009 3:06 pm

My favorite quote of the week comes from the “NASA: Are Sunspots Disappearing” thread, where Michael Ronayne (17:12:19) said,

. . . In a sane society wishing to maintain a technological civilization in the face of a very real and possibly catastrophic cooling event, which will occur by 2015, we would be building nuclear power plants, expanding the electrical grid, drilling for oil and natural gas and doing everything to increase our supplies of energy. Instead the United States finds itself in the control of an anti-technology religious cult.

This won’t be over until we get that cult out of power.
/Mr Lynn

chris y
September 7, 2009 3:18 pm

kim- you say “I’m waiting for Andy Revkin to flip. ”
If he does, it will be subtle. He will lose a lot of faithful readers if he does noticeably shift. I spend a fair amount of time over at Dot Earth.
Andy’s posts recently have had an interesting trend. There are a lot of posts on touchy-feely topics (happiness, how many people is too much, etc.). The reduced number of posts of substance on climate science/fiction have occasionally been presented as a question rather than a certainty. Commenters have shown increasing annoyance with Andy’s lack of catastrophic certainty in his post titles.
I don’t pay much attention to the details in Andy’s posts. Its the comments by the regulars (alarmists, zero-pops, pyschobabblers, AGW catastrophists, left-coasters, urban tree-huggers, renewable energy advocates) that are entertaining, although the comments from the regulars are becoming predictable.

September 7, 2009 3:19 pm

rbateman (12:54:21) :
NASA calls it Deep Solar Minimum, and it’s no fluke.
It’s consequences can only be surmised in a vague manner, not knowing how long it will last or how low it will sink.
For now, it is truly the science story of the 21st Century.

Robert. You have an excellent way with words and the science is good too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and theories. We do live in interesting times….

September 7, 2009 3:55 pm

chris y 15:18:30
You have been following DotEarth closely enough to catch Andy’s subtle shift. Fortunately for him, he has an even greater obsession than climate and that is the sustainability of nine billion people on earth and general environmental concerns. Those will save him when he finally understands that the CO2=AGW paradigm is mistaken.
There are many more effective voices over there than mine, now, but I started commenting regularly in ’08 during and after the epic AGU thread, and up until the NYT required registration. Those most disgusted with me over there started calling it DotKim. I’ll repeat, I believe in and trust Andy Revkin’s honesty and curiosity to guide him to the truth sooner rather than later.

September 7, 2009 4:18 pm

DRIP …..
dribble, gurgle, gush ….
In the end, nature will do what it does, and people will be stupid and silly as they (almost always) are. Science will take a very bad fall and be bloodied; but I hope that will be the start of healing its ills (along with its wounds).
One can only hope. And while our present age of warlocks and exorcists will be painful to get through, we survived prior similar ages; and the result was a golden age.
It’s just a question of time, and with the PDO flipped and the sun not hearing the alarm clock, time is now on our side.
At every possible time raise the question of “Why hurry when it’s not warmed in the last decade?” and keep running the clock out.

Ron de Haan
September 7, 2009 4:36 pm

rbateman (12:54:21) :
“Solar Minimum”
“For now, it is truly the science story of the 21st Century”.
And how right you are!

September 7, 2009 6:08 pm

rbateman put forth the motion that has been stated by the chair:
“For now, it is truly the science story of the 21st Century.”
Carsten Arholm seconded the motion and Ron de Haan has called the question,
All those in favor, vote Ay;
All those opposed, vote Nay!
MarkM votes in the affirmative.
(I would never vote “present” as POTUS did so many times before)

Skeptic Tank
September 7, 2009 6:15 pm

Bad science and consensus science is certainly nothing new. Ever read, in Scientific American, “50, 100 and 150 Years Ago”? It is sometimes hilarious almost to the point of being tragic. I just hope we don’t have to wait 50 years to laugh at all this or it will surely be tragic.

Polar Bears and BBQ Sauce
September 7, 2009 6:19 pm

If the next decade does unfold as another Dalton, it will become impossible to argue that this (unforseen) “nature variation” could result in significant, overpowering cooling, without admiting that similar (until now unrecognized) forces were quite possibly the cause of the warming that preceded it.
And I think the feedbacks from clouds and water vapor will be recognized as negative, not positive.
…Just in time for the rolling blackouts for want of energy grid development.

James F. Evans
September 7, 2009 6:27 pm

KimW (13:41:36) : “What worries myself as a scientist, is the climate science selection of data to prove the AGW viewpoint and the tossing out of any data that contradicts it.”
“Science itself – not just Climate Science – is taking on the aspect of arguments based on feelings rather than logic. That is bad for everybody.”
Yes, there are many scientists that are blind to this “rot”, a few even prominent on this website, but as the number of scientists become self-aware of the problems confronting the discipline, the more likely it actually will be self-correcting.
But a few scientists will have to be made an example of and be publically disgraced to get the message across.
Humiliation and shame and the desire to avoid same are an effective tool for correcting over-bloated egos.

September 7, 2009 7:23 pm

rbateman (12:54:21) :
“Solar Minimum”
“For now, it is truly the science story of the 21st Century”.

And I have yet to see a single reference to it in any general news source.
BTW, Robert Bradley’s post is excellent. If you haven’t read it, do so.

chris y
September 7, 2009 7:28 pm

re Kim 15:55:42- Oh, you’re THAT kim! I enjoyed your posts over there last year. At the time I was posting as paminator, but I was not nearly as frequent a voice as you and some others, like wmar, Gene G and Shaska. Hopefully you’ll stop by there once in a while to correct the usual gang of catastrophists.
Like you, I have a lot of respect for Andy. He seems naive about how R&D works, how research funding, particularly at universities, works, and how this affects his ‘go-to’ guys like Hansen, Mann and Schmidt.

September 7, 2009 7:42 pm

Feta compli == “all the Greek cheese has been eaten”
On a more thoughtful note (!) a crowd’s emotion is not reversed by facts and logic. What WILL swing emotion is either exhaustion or substitute emotion, eg anger that some bunch of extremists has hijacked our economy. Westerners were heading for exhaustion and capitulation to the AGW agenda but, ironically, the financial bubble burst before the deed was done, and generalized worries about the planet were replaced by personal worries about jobs and food.
I don’t sense much emotion behind the AGW scare right now; the most strident voices that are heard are those whose livelihoods depend on perpetuating it. So we are nearing a different kind of exhaustion, and I agree with others here that the tide shows signs of turning.
It will take a long time, and ‘cold’ facts are necessary. But facts alone are not sufficient. A couple more high profile exposes of scientific malfeasance (Hockey Stick scale preferred) and a couple of cold years, and people will be wondering what ever possessed them.

Greg Cavanagh
September 7, 2009 7:53 pm

It was the reporters who failed to question in the first place.

the boojum man
September 7, 2009 8:12 pm

recent item in my Waterloo, Iowa news paper.. Farmers Almanac predicts very cold winter because of dearth of sunspots ( It’s the SUN, stupid!!!) NOAA predicts warmer than normal winter because of El Nino. (or is it El Ninny) What’s wrong with these people ? don’t they know that it’s all about CO2 levels ??

Ellen Jakes
September 7, 2009 8:34 pm

It’s begun! If Eric Berger has 2nd thoughts, it won’t be long before Andy Revkin at the NY Times has 2nd thoughts, too.

Jimmy Haigh
September 7, 2009 9:21 pm

rbateman (12:54:21) :
“Solar Minimum”
“For now, it is truly the science story of the 21st Century”.
Philip_B (19:23:45) :
“And I have yet to see a single reference to it in any general news source.”
The thing is that journalists and politicians are pretty slow on the uptake and most of them have just got their heads into AGW. Once the journalists cotton on, and start writing their scare stories, they’ll be jumping on it and once the politicians figure out a way to blame the solar minimum on the rich dveloped countries and big oil they will as well.
The trouble they will have is getting away with the sudden dramatic switch from CO2 = AGW to whatever bandwagon they try to get on next.

September 7, 2009 9:28 pm

…or the leading authoritative voices on the IPPC have second thoughts too…

September 7, 2009 9:51 pm

I don’t have that much faith in the MSM. Assuming that AGW is defrocked, that big old sun will simply replace it in the news. A dimming sun (whether it actually is or not) makes a great story. Most young to middle aged news reporters have been weaned on AWG, and they understand that alarmist rhetoric that gets them the byline. Why would they change? Sex and death sell, and what is sexier or deadlier than a sun over which we have no control?

Harold Blue Tooth
September 7, 2009 9:52 pm

“before we sell our productivity down the carbon rabbit hole”
A sobering thought.

September 7, 2009 9:57 pm

Minor point … shouldn’t that be “faith accompli”?

September 7, 2009 10:05 pm

Mr Bradley’s carefully understated article exposes something many of us have been bleating about for some time – the folly of certainty.
Claiming that a nasty thing is certain to happen is an extreme position. It should always be supported by very strong evidence, indeed one could say that any extreme position requires extremely strong evidence.
I am not qualified to say whether the catastrophic man-made global warming theory is correct. But I am qualified to say that the evidence presented to support it contains patent flaws, I can say that because I don’t need to understand everything about it in order to understand parts of it nor to understand that parts of it are built on sand.
There is a decade of propaganda and a great deal of institutionalised bias to overcome. Mr Bradley’s approach is, in my view, exactly the right way to go about it.
Questions are often far more powerful than answers.
When a scientific proposition is put forward to the scientifically ignorant like me the audience does not have the knowledge to examine it in detail so it will either be accepted or rejected on purely irrational grounds. It is irrational to accept something simply because a so-called “expert” puts it forward and it is irrational to reject his expertise without evidence. The rational response is: “prove it using language I can understand”. That response is, perhaps, given less frequently than it should be although opinion polls about belief in man-made global warming suggest it would be given by an awful lot of people if push comes to shove.
The best way to further the debate is to ask exactly the sort of questions Mr Bradley asks, which are similar to those asked by Senator Fielding in Australia. Questions require answers and they force those who seek to impose their will on the little people to “prove it in language I can understand”. The more times they fail to do so – and their record is 100% so far – the more impact the questions have.

September 7, 2009 10:08 pm

I really don’t think “they” are going to give in so easily. Just because climate is not behaving as forcast means the adgenda will be stepped up. Laws will be passed and taxes will be raised in the dash for the biggest power grab in the history of humanity.
The focus on climate is simply a distraction.

September 7, 2009 11:09 pm

Jimmy Haigh (21:21:05) :
And all for the encouraging words.
The biggest mistake AGW makes is to try and predict the unknown with too little reference points.
I would like to tell you all that I can predict how long and how deep the Deep Solar Minimum will last. I know better than that. I know there exists too little reference points. Too little, too late came Galileo. Too much critiical information lies in dusty records or was lost over time due to eggs in one basket.
Too little, too late comes the instrumental record to attempt to predict the Climate, though we make great headway in the various aspects of it.
One day we will be able to do that, predict the climate, but that day is not today.
AGW tries to use Deep Solar Minimum to save thier error, but they are using a phenomenon with the same problem.
There are no crystal balls in science.
Right now, we need to know all we can about what the Sun is doing and why, but as long as AGW keeps rolling out bandwagons, there will be no progress, no understanding and no preparations in time. Not for any climactic event.
That is not only thing being roadblocked, however.
The alarming predictions have become so disruptive and so distracting that normal surveillance of the Solar System has become lax. Two planets popped up with severe scars, presumably struck, but we don’t know because nobody was paying attention.
AGW started this rancor, and it’s their responsibility to tell the media and the politicians to put the bullhorn away. That’s their job, they are responsible for the broken windows in the lab.
Deep Solar Minimum is a glass of cold water in the face and a reality check.
Our job is to find a way to get the story into every household and keep them informed as to how it progresses.
No more bullhorns and bandwagons of the 3rd kind.
No more sweeping the Sun under the rug.

September 7, 2009 11:12 pm

oakgeo (21:51:18) :
Get out in front of the bandwagon. Find a way to inform the public in such a way as to allow them to come to thier own conclusions.

September 8, 2009 1:09 am

I think the correct expression for this sort of behaviour is ‘rats leaving a sinking ship’.
Expect many more rodents to be joining the exit as our continuing spotless sun proves the AGW theory wrong.

September 8, 2009 5:16 am

chris y 19:28:33
Yes, that were I; I’ve been everywhere, man. I remember you fondly. You were always as perspicacious as your comments on this thread. Perhaps Andy’s tonal evolution is a response to the needs of his audience. Remember, there are many among his whose passions are for the earth, just as are ours. They are in need of healing from the sickness that was the paradigm that CO2=AGW.

September 8, 2009 6:03 am

This is a good point to note a non-climate related reference that probably explains much of what is happening & why:
“The Science of Fear: Why We Fear the Things We Shouldn’t–and Put Ourselves in Greater Danger,” by Daniel Gardner.
Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Science-Fear-Shouldnt-Ourselves-Greater/dp/0525950621/ref=pd_bbs_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1208360613&sr=8-2
I’m about 3-fourths the way thru, and the whole AGW versus not-AGW debate fits the pattern he describes.

September 8, 2009 7:55 am

Ken 6:03:23
Another great one is the classic ‘Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds’.

September 8, 2009 9:58 am

My quote of the week goes to a poster on Climate Audit. The discussion was about how all the forecasts for arctic sea ice appear to have fallen short.
Rob Spooner.
Now if the climate scientists were not following a herd instinct, one would have expected there to be a range of results centering around the obvious one. Instead, there was a range of results centering around the preferred headline.

September 8, 2009 2:59 pm

The herd has congregated around its hopes.

September 9, 2009 8:00 am

I don’t sense much emotion behind the AGW scare right now;
I blog the topic enough to get a feel for sentiment. There has been no serious emotion since 2008. What I saw was a peak in the summer of 2007. Since then the warmists have basically stopped showing up to comment.

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