A response to Dr. Paul Bain's use of 'denier' in the scientific literature

Note: This will be the top post for a day or two, new posts will appear below this one.

Readers may recall my original post, Nature’s ugly decision: ‘Deniers’ enters the scientific literature. followed by  Dr. Paul Bain Responds to Critics of Use of “Denier” Term (with thanks to Jo Nova, be sure to bookmark and visit her site) Dr. Robert G. Brown of Duke University,  commenting as rgbatduke, made a response that was commented on by several here in that thread. As commenter REP put it in the update: It is eloquent, insightful and worthy of consideration. I would say, it is likely the best response I’ve ever seen on the use of the “denier” term, not to mention the CAGW issue in general. Thus, I’ve elevated it a full post. Please share the link to this post widely.  – Anthony

Dr. Robert G. Brown writes:

The tragic thing about the thoughtless use of a stereotype (denier) is that it reveals that you really think of people in terms of its projected meaning. In particular, even in your response you seem to equate the term “skeptic” with “denier of AGW”.

This is silly. On WUWT most of the skeptics do not “deny” AGW, certainly not the scientists or professional weather people (I myself am a physicist) and honestly, most of the non-scientist skeptics have learned better than that. What they challenge is the catastrophic label and the alleged magnitude of the projected warming on a doubling of CO_2. They challenge this on rather solid empirical grounds and with physical arguments and data analysis that is every bit as scientifically valid as that used to support larger estimates, often obtaining numbers that are in better agreement with observation. For this honest doubt and skepticism that the highly complex global climate models are correct you have the temerity to socially stigmatize them in a scientific journal with a catch-all term that implies that they are as morally reprehensible as those that “deny” that the Nazi Holocaust of genocide against the Jews?

For shame.

Seriously, for shame. You should openly apologize for the use of the term, in Nature, and explain why it was wrong. But you won’t, will you… although I will try to explain why you should.

By your use of this term, you directly imply that I am a “denier”, as I am highly skeptical of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (not just “anthropogenic global warming”, which is plausible if not measurable, although there are honest grounds to doubt even this associated with the details of the Carbon Cycle that remain unresolved by model or experiment). Since I am a theoretical physicist, I find this enormously offensive. I might as well label you an idiot for using it, when you’ve never met me, have no idea of my competence or the strength of my arguments for or against any aspect of climate dynamics (because on this list I argue both points of view as the science demands and am just as vigorous in smacking down bullshit physics used to challenge some aspect of CAGW as I am to question the physics or statistical analysis or modelling used to “prove” it). But honestly, you probably aren’t an idiot (are you?) and no useful purpose is served by ad hominem or emotionally loaded human descriptors in a rational discussion of an objective scientific question, is there.

Please understand that by creating a catch-all label like this, you quite literally are moving the entire discussion outside of the realm of science, where evidence and arguments are considered and weighed independent of the humans that advance them, where our desire to see one or another result proven are (or should be) irrelevant, where people weigh the difficulty of the problem being addressed as an important contributor (in a Bayesian sense) to how much we should believe any answer proposed — so far, into the realm where people do not think at all! They simply use a dismissive label such as “denier” and hence avoid any direct confrontation with the issues being challenged.

The issue of difficulty is key. Let me tell you in a few short words why I am a skeptic. First of all, if one examines the complete geological record of global temperature variation on planet Earth (as best as we can reconstruct it) not just over the last 200 years but over the last 25 million years, over the last billion years — one learns that there is absolutely nothing remarkable about today’s temperatures! Seriously. Not one human being on the planet would look at that complete record — or even the complete record of temperatures during the Holocene, or the Pliestocene — and stab down their finger at the present and go “Oh no!”. Quite the contrary. It isn’t the warmest. It isn’t close to the warmest. It isn’t the warmest in the last 2 or 3 thousand years. It isn’t warming the fastest. It isn’t doing anything that can be resolved from the natural statistical variation of the data. Indeed, now that Mann’s utterly fallacious hockey stick reconstruction has been re-reconstructed with the LIA and MWP restored, it isn’t even remarkable in the last thousand years!

Furthermore, examination of this record over the last 5 million years reveals a sobering fact. We are in an ice age, where the Earth spends 80 to 90% of its geological time in the grip of vast ice sheets that cover the polar latitudes well down into what is currently the temperate zone. We are at the (probable) end of the Holocene, the interglacial in which humans emerged all the way from tribal hunter-gatherers to modern civilization. The Earth’s climate is manifestly, empirically bistable, with a warm phase and cold phase, and the cold phase is both more likely and more stable. As a physicist who has extensively studied bistable open systems, this empirical result clearly visible in the data has profound implications. The fact that the LIA was the coldest point in the entire Holocene (which has been systematically cooling from the Holocene Optimum on) is also worrisome. Decades are irrelevant on the scale of these changes. Centuries are barely relevant. We are nowhere near the warmest, but the coldest century in the last 10,000 years ended a mere 300 years ago, and corresponded almost perfectly with the Maunder minimum in solar activity.

There is absolutely no evidence in this historical record of a third stable warm phase that might be associated with a “tipping point” and hence “catastrophe” (in the specific mathematical sense of catastrophe, a first order phase transition to a new stable phase). It has been far warmer in the past without tipping into this phase. If anything, we are geologically approaching the point where the Earth is likely to tip the other way, into the phase that we know is there — the cold phase. A cold phase transition, which the historical record indicates can occur quite rapidly with large secular temperature changes on a decadal time scale, would truly be a catastrophe. Even if “catastrophic” AGW is correct and we do warm another 3 C over the next century, if it stabilized the Earth in warm phase and prevented or delayed the Earth’s transition into cold phase it would be worth it because the cold phase transition would kill billions of people, quite rapidly, as crops failed throughout the temperate breadbasket of the world.

Now let us try to analyze the modern era bearing in mind the evidence of an utterly unremarkable present. To begin with, we need a model that predicts the swings of glaciation and interglacials. Lacking this, we cannot predict the temperature that we should have outside for any given baseline concentration of CO_2, nor can we resolve variations in this baseline due to things other than CO_2 from that due to CO_2. We don’t have any such thing. We don’t have anything close to this. We cannot predict, or explain after the fact, the huge (by comparison with the present) secular variations in temperature observed over the last 20,000 years, let alone the last 5 million or 25 million or billion. We do not understand the forces that set the baseline “thermostat” for the Earth before any modulation due to anthropogenic CO_2, and hence we have no idea if those forces are naturally warming or cooling the Earth as a trend that has to be accounted for before assigning the “anthropogenic” component of any warming.

This is a hard problem. Not settled science, not well understood, not understood. There are theories and models (and as a theorist, I just love to tell stories) but there aren’t any particularly successful theories or models and there is a lot of competition between the stories (none of which agree with or predict the empirical data particularly well, at best agreeing with some gross features but not others). One part of the difficulty is that the Earth is a highly multivariate and chaotic driven/open system with complex nonlinear coupling between all of its many drivers, and with anything but a regular surface. If one tried to actually write “the” partial differential equation for the global climate system, it would be a set of coupled Navier-Stokes equations with unbelievably nasty nonlinear coupling terms — if one can actually include the physics of the water and carbon cycles in the N-S equations at all. It is, quite literally, the most difficult problem in mathematical physics we have ever attempted to solve or understand! Global Climate Models are children’s toys in comparison to the actual underlying complexity, especially when (as noted) the major drivers setting the baseline behavior are not well understood or quantitatively available.

The truth of this is revealed in the lack of skill in the GCMs. They utterly failed to predict the last 13 or 14 years of flat to descending global temperatures, for example, although naturally one can go back and tweak parameters and make them fit it now, after the fact. And every year that passes without significant warming should be rigorously lowering the climate sensitivity and projected AGW, making the probability of the “C” increasinginly remote.

These are all (in my opinion) good reasons to be skeptical of the often egregious claims of CAGW. Another reason is the exact opposite of the reason you used “denier” in your article. The actual scientific question has long since been co-opted by the social and political one. The real reason you used the term is revealed even in your response — we all “should” be doing this and that whether or not there is a real risk of “catastrophe”. In particular, we “should” be using less fossil fuel, working to preserve the environment, and so on.

The problem with this “end justifies the means” argument — where the means involved is the abhorrent use of a pejorative descriptor to devalue the arguers of alternative points of view rather than their arguments at the political and social level — is that it is as close to absolute evil in social and public discourse as it is possible to get. I strongly suggest that you read Feynman’s rather famous “Cargo Cult” talk:

http://www.lhup.edu/~DSIMANEK/cargocul.htm

In particular, I quote:

For example, I was a little surprised when I was talking to a

friend who was going to go on the radio. He does work on cosmology and astronomy, and he wondered how he would explain what the applications of this work were. “Well,” I said, “there aren’t any.” He said, “Yes, but then we won’t get support for more research of this kind.” I think that’s kind of dishonest. If you’re representing yourself as a scientist, then you should explain to the layman what you’re doing–and if they don’t want to support you under those circumstances, then that’s their decision.

One example of the principle is this: If you’ve made up your mind to test a theory, or you want to explain some idea, you should always decide to publish it whichever way it comes out. If we only publish results of a certain kind, we can make the argument look good. We must publish both kinds of results.

I say that’s also important in giving certain types of government

advice. Supposing a senator asked you for advice about whether

drilling a hole should be done in his state; and you decide it

would be better in some other state. If you don’t publish such a

result, it seems to me you’re not giving scientific advice. You’re

being used. If your answer happens to come out in the direction the government or the politicians like, they can use it as an argument in their favor; if it comes out the other way, they don’t publish it at all. That’s not giving scientific advice.

Time for a bit of soul-searching, Dr. Bain. Have you come even close to living up to the standards laid out by Richard Feynman? Is this sort of honesty apparent anywhere in the global climate debate? Did the “Hockey Team” embrace this sort of honesty in the infamous Climategate emails? Do the IPCC reports ever seem to present the counter arguments, or do they carefully avoid showing pictures of the 20,000 year thermal record, preferring instead Mann’s hockey stick because it increases the alarmism (and hence political impact of the report)? Does the term “denier” have any place in any scientific paper ever published given Feynman’s rather simple criterion for scientific honesty?

And finally, how dare you presume to make choices for me, for my relatives, for my friends, for all of the people of the world, but concealing information from them so that they make a choice to allocate resources the way you think they should be allocated, just like the dishonest astronomer of his example. Yes, the price of honesty might be that people don’t choose to support your work. Tough. It is their money, and their choice!

Sadly, it is all too likely that this is precisely what is at stake in climate research. If there is no threat of catastrophe — and as I said, prior to the hockey stick nobody had the slightest bit of luck convincing anyone that the sky was falling because global climate today is geologically unremarkable in every single way except that we happen to be living in it instead of analyzing it in a geological record — then there is little incentive to fund the enormous amount of work being done on climate science. There is even less incentive to spend trillions of dollars of other people’s money (and some of our own) to ameliorate a “threat” that might well be pure moonshine, quite possibly ignoring an even greater threat of movement in the exact opposite direction to the one the IPCC anticipates.

Why am I a skeptic? Because I recognize the true degree of our ignorance in addressing this supremely difficult problem, while at the same time as a mere citizen I weigh civilization and its benefits against draconian energy austerity on the basis of no actual evidence that global climate is in any way behaving unusually on a geological time scale.

For shame.

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Antonia

Oh the truth is so beautiful. Thank you.

David Ross

Brilliant! Well argued and concise.

Thank you, Dr Brown. This needed saying, and I doubt anyone could have said it better. Shared with enthusiasm.

Eric

Beautiful….

gsonline2

All I can say is, Wow!

Couldn’t have said it better myself. It would seem also obvious that those like Bain have give up on the Scientific Method and the Philosophy of Science in favor of the politics of the extreme.

jorgekafkazar

Splendid. I doubt if Dr. Bain will be able to force himself to read it all at once, assuming that he reads it at all. Too painful. We’ll soon know what Dr, Bain is made of.

You cannot sum up the Climate debate with one word. That would take at the least a very long sentence. But, if you only had one word it would not be “Denier.” It would be Voodoo.
http://evilincandescentbulb.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/global-warming-is-politically-correct-voodoo/

Babsy

“Yes, the price of honesty might be that people don’t choose to support your work. Tough. It is their money, and their choice!”
Personal choice; that’s they part they don’t like and want to change. They care far too much for humanity as a whole to allow us simpletons to have a voice in our own destiny.

The use of “Denier” just shows the ignorance of the user.
You may as well say “global cooling denier” … no sensible person denies that there has been global cooling, just as no sensible person denies global warming. You may as well deny temperature.

Gilbert

Wonderful.

Rod Gill

Whenever someone uses the word denier I immediately think one of two things:
1) Opposite of sceptical is gullible
2) The Nazis always said “Tell a big enough lie, repeat it often enough and give it government backing then most people will believe it”.

Greg House

Dr. Robert G. Brown writes:
The tragic thing about the thoughtless use of a stereotype (denier) is that it reveals that you really think of people in terms of its projected meaning. In particular, even in your response you seem to equate the term “skeptic” with “denier of AGW”.
This is silly. On WUWT most of the skeptics do not “deny” AGW, certainly not the scientists or professional weather people (I myself am a physicist) and honestly, most of the non-scientist skeptics have learned better than that. What they challenge is the catastrophic label and the alleged magnitude of the projected warming on a doubling of CO_2.
…By your use of this term, you directly imply that I am a “denier”, as I am highly skeptical of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (not just “anthropogenic global warming”, which is plausible if not measurable, although there are honest grounds to doubt even this associated with the details of the Carbon Cycle that remain unresolved by model or experiment). Since I am a theoretical physicist, I find this enormously offensive.
========================================================
Robert, please, correct me if I misunderstood you, but it looks like you have no problem with people questioning the “A”, “W”, and “G” being called “deniers”, although you know about the connotation.
At the same time, according to your logic, this term should in no way be applied to you, although you question the (from the AGW proponents standpoint indisputable) catastrophic consequences of not immediately taking action and (again from the AGW proponents standpoint indisputable) magnitude of the projected warming on a doubling of CO2.
I am not going into details of moral implications of your position, but at least the logical contradiction should be obvious to you.

Jimbo

I doubt anyone could have said it any better. Jo Nova wrote a stinging letter to Bain which is well worth a read. Here is an extract.

…………..The evidence for anthropogenic global warming is overwhelming, so the observations they deny must be written up many times in the peer review literature, right? After five years of study I am still not sure which instrument has made these key observations. Do deniers deny weather balloon results, or satellite data, or ice cores?
When you find this paper and the measurements, it will convince many of the key denier leaders. (But being the exacting personality type that they are, deniers will also expect to see the raw data. So you’ll need to also make sure that the authors of said paper have made all the records and methods available, but of course, all good scientists do that already don’t they?)……………..
http://joannenova.com.au/2012/06/nature-and-that-problem-of-defining-homo-sapiens-denier-is-it-english-or-newspeak/

Sarcasm and truth at its finest.

Amr marzouk

Can’t argue with any of that

Downdraft

Excellent. That about covers it, but I am doubtful the target audience will acknowledge they even read it. They can’t stand the truth.

Luther Wu

What a task Dr. Bain has; trying to placate his agenda- driven funding sources while appearing to maintain some semblance of ethical scientific standards.
He’s like a moonshiner hung up astraddle a barbed- wire fence with raging bulls on one side and revenuers on the other and sorely threatened by the fence.

Sam Geoghegan

Denier is a dialogue inhibitor, like the term ‘anti-semite’. We should make it practice to refrain from using absolutist terms when discussing large slabs of people, in political and science issues.

Latitude

I’m tired of being insulted over 1/2 a degree…………..

leftinbrooklyn

Pure honest excellence…
The very need to use the derogatory ‘denier’, merely reflects the weakness of their belief system. They call themselves scientists, yet they cannot even see this.

Nat McQueen

Wow.
This article should be posted at the top for eternity…or at least until the next ice age hits.

Jimbo

Let me make one thing clear. The use of the term Denier is an attempt to close down the debate. It’s not working.
Talking of Nasties you will find the truth lies elsewhere – within the very roots of the Nasty Party, prior to WWll, you will find the green ideology.
http://www.spunk.org/texts/places/germany/sp001630/peter.html
http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/01/green_lebensraum_the_nazi_roots_of_sustainable_development.html
What was that about Deniers?
I don’t deny that Co2 is a greenhouse gas.
I don’t deny that a doubling of man’s co2 will lead to a small rise in temperature.
I don’t deny the Urban Heat Island Effect.
I don’t deny the Medieval Warm Period or the Holocene Climate Optimum.
I don’t deny Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick has been snapped.
I finally don’t deny that many of the peer reviewed papers produced by climate scientists is driven by endless funding over a false alarm. He who pays the piper……………….

SMS

This was so WELL SAID I did a copy and paste and sent it to all my friends.
It always helps to have a better argument than the other guy. This article makes it easy. WELL SAID!

X Anomaly

“Do the IPCC reports ever seem to present the counter arguments, or do they carefully avoid showing pictures of the 20,000 year thermal record, preferring instead Mann’s hockey stick because it increases the alarmism (and hence political impact of the report)?”
Do the IPCC reports show the 10 or 20 kyr hockey stick? I really want to know now!

Christopher Hanley

In a ghastly irony, the ‘denier’ label serves a similar purpose to the yellow star, but not with the same dire consequences of course.
It’s a term which is intended to brand a scientist as beyond the pale, whose views are not worth considering and had better not be permitted to make them widely known even sacking them from their job if necessary.
For example, if you read The Age article at the top of the google page below, you will find no use of the word ‘denial’ or its derivative.
http://www.google.com.au/webhp?source=search_app#hl=en&gs_nf=1&pq=denialist%20bob%20carter&cp=8&gs_id=2m&xhr=t&q=the+age+climate+change+denialist+bob+carter&pf=p&sclient=psy-ab&oq=the+age+climate+change+denialist+bob+carter&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&gs_l=&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=cf90f68ce6314626&biw=1014&bih=548

peterings

The title “Doctor Robert G Brown” rolls off the tongue quite effortlessly.On the other hand I can say “paul bain” but the D word gets stuck in the throat.

R Barker

Excellent. The science is not settled.

LazyTeenager

This is silly. On WUWT most of the skeptics do not “deny” AGW,
———–
Hmmm. A Physicist who makes stuff up. Until someone does a survey of the WUWT readership no one has a clue what proportion of that readership believe in AGW.
There are many, many contributors who insist that there is no global warming at all and others who insist that there is warming but it’s not anthropogenic.
On the face if it those people are being insulted as their views are being discounted as irrelevant and not worth counting.
Personally I am happy to insult all of you because a real skeptic follows the evidence no matter if it’s like able or not. I’m convinced that no matter how much evidence piles up the great majority of you are too stubborn to change your minds and are therefore pretend skeptics.
I have heard this -everyone at WUWT believes the same stuff as I do- rubbish before. Maybe it’s time to collect some evidence.

David Longinotti

Thank you, Dr. Brown. Your well-expressed outrage is as right as rain.

I think my response was pretty good, but think his is better… Different focus, though.
http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/response-to-paul-bain/

William Astley

Observations, analysis, fiscal responsibility, and common sense on the side, of the so called “skeptics”. I find it difficult to understand how anyone could attempt to defend the ridiculous extreme AGW position.
The planet’s response to a change in forcing is to increase or decrease planetary cloud cover in the tropics which reflects more or less sunlight off into space which resists the forcing change (negative feedback). The IPCC models require that planet, particularly in tropical regions amplifies the forcing change (positive feedback) to create the extreme warming.
All agree that if the planet resists warming (negative feedback, clouds increase or decrease in tropics to resist forcing changes) that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 will result in less than 1C of warming with most of the warming occurring at high latitudes which result in the biosphere expanding.
CO2 is not a poison. Commercial greenhouses inject CO2 at 1000 ppm to 1500 ppm to increase yield and reduce growing times. A doubling of atmospheric CO2 results, for example, in a 40% increase in food cereal yields. As atmosphere CO2 rise plants reduce the number of stomata on their leaves which reduces the plant’s water loss. Plants currently lose roughly 50% of the water that they absorb due to trans respiration. High levels of atmospheric CO2 will significantly reduce desertification. Higher levels of atmospheric CO2 is absolutely beneficial to all life in the biosphere.
The tropical troposphere which the IPCC general climate model predict should warm and should be the principal driver of extreme AGW is not warming. Analysis of data from two different polar orbiting satellites compared to 36 IPCC GCMs confirms this statement.
http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~qfu/Publications/grl.fu.2011.pdf
On the warming in the tropical upper troposphere: Models versus observations
Qiang Fu,1,2 Syukuro Manabe,3 and Celeste M. Johanson1
IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) AR4 (Fourth Assessment Report) GCMs (General Circulation Models) predict a tropical tropospheric warming that increases with height, reaches its maximum at ∼200 hPa, and decreases to zero near the tropical tropopause. This study examines the GCM‐predicted maximum warming in the tropical upper troposphere using satellite MSU (microwave sounding unit)‐derived deeplayer temperatures in the tropical upper‐ and lower‐middle troposphere for 1979–2010.
Satellite Measurement:
Satellites measure a slight increase in temperature which is statistically not different than zero.
[11] The trends of T24‐T2LT (William: two satellites that measure temperature of the troposphere and stratosphere) from both observations and models are all positive (Figure 2), indicating that the tropical upper‐middle troposphere is warming faster than lower middle troposphere [Fu and Johanson, 2005]. But the positive trends are only about 0.014 ± 0.017 K/decade from RSS and 0.005 ± 0.016 K/decade from UAH, which are not significantly different from zero.
IPPC’s General Circulation Models (GCMs)
IPPC’s AR4 general circulation models predict the most the greatest warming on the planet should occur in tropical troposphere (3 to 10 times greater than what is observed over the period.)
In contrast, the T24‐T2LT trend from multi‐model ensemble mean is 0.051 ± 0.007 K/decade, which is significantly larger than zero. The trends from observations and multi‐model ensemble mean do not fall within each other’s 95% confidence intervals, suggesting that they are significantly different from each other. Note that 30 out of 36 model ensemble members have the T24‐T2LT trends significantly larger than zero.
http://www-eaps.mit.edu/faculty/lindzen/236-Lindzen-Choi-2011.pdf
Analysis of changes in top of the atmosphere radiation compared to changes in ocean surface temperature also supports the assertion that the planet resists forcing changes (negative feedback) rather than as the IPCC requires to create extreme warming, amplifies forcing changes (positive feedback).
On the Observational Determination of Climate Sensitivity and Its Implications
Richard S. Lindzen1 and Yong-Sang Choi2
We argue that feedbacks are largely concentrated in the tropics, and the tropical feedbacks can be adjusted to account for their impact on the globe as a whole. Indeed, we show that including all CERES data (not just from the tropics) leads to results similar to what are obtained for the tropics alone – though with more noise. We again find that the outgoing radiation resulting from SST fluctuations exceeds the zerofeedback response thus implying negative feedback. In contrast to this, the calculated TOA outgoing radiation fluxes from 11 atmospheric models forced by the observed SST are less than the zerofeedback response, consistent with the positive feedbacks that characterize these models. The results imply that the models are exaggerating climate sensitivity.
And meanwhile the UN climate proposes a colossal waste of public funds. The UN proposing a $100 billion dollars a year of Western Country tax payer dollars to be sent to corrupt third world governments after skimming off by corrupt UN officials?
http://www.torontosun.com/2012/05/25/united-nations-climate-talks-nothing-but-hot-air
UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres insisted it was critical the Bonn talks made further progress on how funds will be raised – extorted might be another apt word — from major industrialized nations and directed to poorer countries in the year’s after 2020.
This epic global fundraising will underwrite something called the Green Climate Fund, to be run under the paternalistic auspices of the UN. The fund will need $100 billion a year from 2020 onwards to operate. No precise agreement at Bonn on how it would work, despite Christiana Figueres exhortations, just consensus that major developed and industrialised countries like Canada will have to foot the bill. So there. …. …All of which pretty much reflects the UN as it is today; a preening debating society that marries incompetence with good intentions, meddling with over-reaching ambition.
It should also surprise nobody to hear such hand-wringing doesn’t come cheap. The regular budget of the UN is nearly $1.9 billion per year. It pays for basic UN activities, staff and basic infrastructure at 760 United Nations Plaza, New York, New York. The UN then spends an additional $15 billion annually on activities that include everything from the International Atomic Energy Agency to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, UNESCO, the World Bank, the World Health Organisation — and endless climate change meetings in exotic locales.
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1725975,00.html
The Clean Energy Scam
The U.S. quintupled its production of ethanol–ethyl alcohol, a fuel distilled from plant matter–in the past decade, and Washington has just mandated another fivefold increase in renewable fuels over the next decade. Europe has similarly aggressive biofuel mandates and subsidies, and Brazil’s filling stations no longer even offer plain gasoline. Worldwide investment in biofuels rose from $5 billion in 1995 to $38 billion in 2005 and is expected to top $100 billion by 2010, thanks to investors like Richard Branson and George Soros, GE and BP, Ford and Shell, Cargill and the Carlyle Group.
But several new studies show the biofuel boom is doing exactly the opposite of what its proponents intended: it’s dramatically accelerating global warming, imperiling the planet in the name of saving it. Corn ethanol, always environmentally suspect, turns out to be environmentally disastrous. Even cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass, which has been promoted by eco-activists and eco-investors as well as by President Bush as the fuel of the future, looks less green than oil-derived gasoline. Meanwhile, by diverting grain and oilseed crops from dinner plates to fuel tanks, biofuels are jacking up world food prices and endangering the hungry. The grain it takes to fill an SUV tank with ethanol could feed a person for a year. Harvests are being plucked to fuel our cars instead of ourselves. The U.N.’s World Food Program says it needs $500 million in additional funding and supplies, calling the rising costs for food nothing less than a global emergency. Soaring corn prices have sparked tortilla riots in Mexico City, and skyrocketing flour prices have destabilized Pakistan, which wasn’t exactly tranquil when flour was affordable.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2008-04-14/biofuel-production-a-crime-against-humanity/2403402

Those who flit the “Denier” word off their tongues are basically falling into the “Pigeon Hole” paradigm, and it is fitting to remind them that pigeon holes are filled by those with pigeon brains.
The non-thinking involved in categorizing with labels, those with views (and oft times, data) you disagree with, just demonstrates that you are, in fact, non-thinking. A snare that no scientist worthy of the name should be caught in, under any circumstances.

Trevor

Amen! That’s all I can say.

Berényi Péter

He is telling the truth, obviously. I just don’t quite see how dare he. Is Duke somehow better than OSU or UCLA?

LazyTeenager

Why am I a skeptic? Because I recognize the true degree of our ignorance in addressing this supremely difficult problem, while at the same time as a mere citizen I weigh civilization and its benefits against draconian energy austerity on the basis of no actual evidence that global climate is in any way behaving unusually on a geological time scale.
For shame.
————–
no actual evidence —– is code for —— I am ignoring the evidence I don’t like.
There is evidence for temperature rises in the geological past of similar rates upward to what we are seeing now. They were extinction events. If civilizations had existed at the time they would have been civilization destroying events.
For shame that you close your eyes whenever evidence appears.
It’s not skepticism. It’s prejudice.

Dave

As I’ve been saying for a while, whilst people like Bain may well be using the term ‘denier’ in all innocence, it was deliberately promoted by neo-Nazi groups in order to legitimise Holocaust denial by association. That is undoubtedly the origin of the phrase in this context. Ironically, whilst skeptics aren’t ‘deniers’, Bain is inadvertently assisting true Holocaust denial by using the phrase as he does.

I won’t claim that I fully understand the science Anthony Watts alludes to; my math degree wasn’t that advanced and it was earned longer ago than I like to remember! Nonetheless his argument regarding the complexity of the Earth’s weather system seems quite cogent to me. I especially like his comparison of current climate models to “children’s toys.”
But by far the most eloquent and worthwhile portion of his post concerns the need for scientific honesty. You publish your results, period, regardless of whether or not they were what you expected. We desperately need more of this sort of thinking — indeed, this morality! — in our scientific endeavors and our society.
EXCELLENT post, Mr. Watts. Please keep up the good work!

Ian

I agree, that was one of the best responses, if not THE best, and I read them all. Thanks for elevating it. That post pretty much summarizes it all .
Ian

John A. Fleming

Well written. But it is a cool zephyr against a bulwark. They don’t care what you think. They own the peer-review process, they own the grant-review process, they have their slice of the Federal budget. Once you are labelled a denier, your grant applications are ignored, your papers never published. All you have is your tenure, and they’re working on that. When the academic budgets are finally cut, as they will soon when the higher-education bubble pops, to be a denier is to be on the short list.

John F. Hultquist

I tried to submit this on Thurs. evening — it went into a black hole or someother unknown place!!
I suspect that Paul Bain and co-writers will have a steep learning curve if they wish to understand all that you have written. Do they know what you mean by “doesn’t CO2 have a log limit on absorption effects?” Can they say why CO2 is a so-called “green house gas” while N2 is not? Do they know why I just put “green house gas” in quotes? And, LOL, what do they know about FORTRAN from the 1960s? And all the things about agriculture – they want you to grow things or source locally. Making a profit! What? Bless their hearts.
Still, I hope your response is widely circulated. Rumor is that John Kerry could use an explanation of how the world actually works. Luboš has a post:
http://motls.blogspot.com/2012/06/john-kerry-slams-disgraceful-climate.html

MrX

Absolutely fantastic rebuke to those who would use the “denier” term!

Bill Illis

Dr. Brown, I suggest you maintain a lower profile or stay behind an anomous nick since people are getting let go for speaking out. We need more scientists to speak out but there are great personal risks in doing so for now.
A paper that shows new data or a new way of looking at the science (without directly calling into question the main theory is the way to go and has the lowest personal risk). This is generally the practise that is being used now in the science.
Just saying’

John F. Hultquist

RE: my comment at 6:34
Oh. Sorry. It was to Chiefio’s site that I tried to post (twice) and it did not go. It has been a long day in the cool and wet of the east slopes of the Cascades. So, E. M., you might also find my comment above in your spam bucket – although I don’t see why.

Excellent post. And a great lesson in the implications of the null hypothesis. We have been fortunate to be living in a “Goldilocks climate” for the past century and a half, and the false alarm over only 0.8ºC of entirely beneficial warming is the basis for the completely fabricated “carbon” scare.
At various times during the past 15 millennia global temperatures have declined – and risen – by tens of degrees within a decade. Now that is scary! A drop of even half that magnitude in such a short time would annihilate modern agriculture and likely cause more than a billion deaths.
If Dr. Bain can produce any evidence that anthropogenic CO2 has caused global harm, I ask him to please post his evidence here. I keep asking that question, but the only response I’ve gotten is the sound of crickets chirping.

RobW

As for Dr. Bain and/or the “team” or the IPCC reading it.
I keep hearing Jacks famous words:
“The truth, you can’t handle the truth”
So it seems for those who still push the AGW meme.

theduke

Greg House wrote: “Robert, please, correct me if I misunderstood you, but it looks like you have no problem with people questioning the “A”, “W”, and “G” being called “deniers”, although you know about the connotation.”
You misunderstood. Badly.

Rosco

Seems to me that to denigrate and villify any prtion of the population for a belief or way of life is to mimic Adolf Hitler – or any other evil monster that employed the politics of hate, envy and villification to achieve their own ends.
I wouldn’t care if it was dead certain we were all gonna burn next week due to AGW – I would never side with people who employ such shabby, grubby tactics to achieve their religious goals.
History is littered with hooror because a certain percentage of a population slavishly followed some eloquent leader who spruiked hatred of a certain class during tough times.
I will not join in.

Follow the Money

“and the false alarm over only 0.8ºC”
Sorry Smokey, the alarm is not false. If the sensitivity is that size, there is no scare factor, and nothing could be more alarming to the money gravy train.No crisis, no money.
I have heard Heyhoe try to spin one degree is a threat, so she is no dummy, she’s in on the game. But obviously the PR firms and scientists feel that there is no way they should advertise that small number, or explain “positive feedbacks.” They have to relate the model results as “reality,” but not clarify they are talking about models. That’s why they fear scientists who say “I agree with AGW theory, and here’s the science to show one degree with doubling, correlating with the latest real data.” Maybe it’s true, but if so, that destroys the fear factor.

Excellent summary of the “denier” position.

Bennett

I can’t possibly say it better than Smokey or dozens of others that have commented so far, but thanks so much for taking the time to express your outrage so eloquently. I love gaining new heros, and you Sir, are one.