Since I did not attend Lisbon even though invited and initially accepted, (other business and family obligations took precedence) the very least I can do is to help elevate the discussion. Here’s a report from Dr. Judith Curry, and I urge WUWT readers to read it in it’s entirety. Hopefully Mosh will weigh in here with his report once he’s recovered from the trip. I’m sure Steve McIntyre will be posting on the conference also. Since this is a new topic, and one bound to be widely discussed, I’ve added a “climate reconciliation” category to WUWT. I’ll have some thoughts later. – Anthony
by Judith Curry (excerpts from her blog)
Here are some reactions from the Lisbon Workshop on Reconciliation in the Climate Debate. These are my personal reflections, and include some of the perspectives and statements made by others (without any attribution of names).
The first issue is what exactly is meant by reconciliation, and who actually wants it? Reconciliation is defined (wikipedia) as re-establishing normal relations between belligerents: re-establish dialogue, reinstate balance, restore civility. It is not clear that there has ever been normal relations between, say, the mainstream IPCC researchers and the skeptical climate blogosphere. Consensus building was not seen as having any part in a reconciliation. Rather there was a desire to conduct impassioned debates nonviolently, and to create an arena where we can fight a more honest fight over the science and the policy options.
So who actually wants some sort of reconciliation or an increase in civility? One perspective was that the alarmists shooting at the deniers, and deniers shooting at the alarmists, with a big group in the middle, with both the deniers and the alarmists ruining the situation for reasoned debate about the science and the policy options. Another perspective described the fight as entertaining theater. One perspective was that there is no incentive for conciliation by either side; both sides like the “war.” In the context of the “war,” the hope was expressed that more moderate voices would emerge in the public debate.
The issue of civility and nonviolence in communication was regarded as an important topic by the Workshop organizers. They brought in an expert to facilitate nonviolent communication. This frankly didn’t go over very well with the Workshop participants, for a variety of reasons. This particular group of participants wasn’t very volatile in terms of emotions running high, use of offensive language, or heated arguments. The main format of the Workshop was for groups of 7-8 to discuss various controversial topics. Each group had a different dynamic; the group I was in had some colorful personalities but not terribly impassioned positions on the alarmist-denier spectrum. One table did encompass the entire spectrum, but the dynamic of that group seemed collegial. So the issue of getting skeptics to sit down with alarmists (these were the two words that were generally used to describe the two poles of the debate) and talk politely and constructively didn’t turn out to be a problem. This is partly a function of the individuals invited, who for the most part weren’t too far out there on either extreme and expressed their willingness to communicate by actually agreeing to attend the Workshop.
Some principles/strategies that were discussed to improving the scientific debate:
- Acknowledge that there are real issues and we don’t agree on how to resolve them
- Disagreement with mutual respect
- Find better ways to communicate criticism
- Find better ways to admit mistakes without damage to reputation
- Find some common ground, something to work on together
- Find where interests intersect
- Importance of transparency
- Communication engenders trust
- Search for win-win solutions (i.e. both sides work to increase the funding base to collect more paleoproxies).
I urge readers to read the rest in entirety here: Lisbon Workshop on Reconciliation: Part II