Matt Ridley responds to Tim Lambert's War @ Deltoid

Since it has been mostly silent in the last few months, I didn’t even know Deltoid blog was still up and running, but I’m happy to publish this rebuttal for Matt Ridley against Tim Lambert’s claim that Ridley was wrong 20 years ago in a piece Mr. Lambert has focused on. Mr. Lambert can hopefully learn a few things by reading this, mostly, that he’s out of his league when arguing with Matt Ridley, who’s far more versed in the subject than Lambert. I suppose the word “pwned” might apply here. – Anthony

Nostradamus has nothing on me…

Guest post by Matt Ridley

I first wrote about man-made climate change more than quarter of a century ago in 1986, when I was science editor of The Economist. Here’s what I wrote then:

“If man were not around, the planet would, over several centuries, cool down enough for snow to last through the summer in Europe and much of North America. That snow would accumulate until ice sheets covered the land. The next ice age would have begun.

But man is around, and he has fiddled with the thermostat. In particular, he has burned wood, coal, gas and oil in increasing amounts, turning it into carbon dioxide and steam in the process. At the same time he has cut down forests to make way for agriculture. More carbon dioxide, fewer plants to turn it back into oxygen: as a result carbon-dioxide levels are rising steadily. They have now reached 150% of their pre-industrial levels: about 280 billion tonnes of carbon have been added to the atmosphere.

All this extra carbon dioxide makes the atmosphere slightly less transparent to infra-red rays. More of the earth’s reflected heat stays here rather than escaping to space.so, the planet is getting warmer. Slowly, and erratically (for about 30 years after the second world war the climate cooled slightly), the average temperature of the whole globe is going up. It has risen about ½ degC since 1850. Carbon dioxide takes time to show its effects, though, so even if levels stay the same as they are now, the temperature will continue to climb. If they go on rising, in the next century the temperature will rise by several degrees.

That may not sound much. To the inhabitants of cold countries, it might sound attractive. But it is worrying mainly because of its effect on the oceans and the pattern of climate. If the temperature of the oceans rises, the water expands slightly and the ice caps melt slightly: on present trends, the sea level will rise by between two and ten feet by 2100. That will inundate low-lying parts of the world, including such populous places as Bangladesh and Holland.”

I think you will agree that this is a fairly standard account of the greenhouse effect and – apart from the male pronoun for the species – could have been written today. Very little has changed in the conventional account of global warming. Indeed, today I would change almost none of it. (Almost! Read on.) I am moderately relieved to find that with just a few weeks exposure to the science of global warming I got most of it roughly right. In those days, remember, there was no internet and journalists had to find things out the hard way.

But as the years passed I came to understand more, and soon I no longer accepted every word of the above account. In particular, I discovered something my informants had failed to disclose – that even fast rising levels of carbon dioxide could not on their own generate “several degrees” of warming in a century: for that to happen requires amplification by water vapour. All the models assumed this amplification, but the evidence for it began to look more and more threadbare. So by 1993, six years after the piece just quoted, I no longer thought that 2-10 feet of sea level rise was likely and I no longer thought that several degrees of warming were likely. Instead, I wrote – in a single throwaway sentence in a long piece about eco-scares generally – that

“Global warming, too, has shot its bolt, now that the scientific consensus has settled down on about a degree of temperature increase over a century-that is, little more than has taken place in the past century.”

This was published in a book the Economist put out each year called (in this case) “The world in 1994”. The main prediction of the essay, by the way, was that genetic engineering was the next big eco-scare. I was right, if a few years early, and I did not spot that tomatoes, rather than dolphins, would be the species that touched the heart strings and purse strings of the green movement. I’ll append the essay at the end of this blog post for those that are interested.

I am even prouder of that sentence. At the time such a “lukewarm” view was unfashionable among activists, though not yet among scientists – and you were allowed to say things like that without being treated like a holocaust denier. But it’s not far from what I think now. Since the modal climate sensitivity in all the best studies is now settling down at a bit over 1.5 degC, and since the effect of aerosols, black carbon, ocean heat uptake etc are now all better understood and provide fewer and fewer excuses for high sensitivity models to disagree with data, for me to have come up with “about a degree” two whole decades ago, in a single sentence in an essay on other topics, seems quite surprising. Climate change was not my main interest then: I was writing a book about the evolution of sex having left the Economist to be my own boss.

Indeed, if you take a look at the graph below, you will see that over 34 years, there has been about 0.36 degrees of warming on a rolling average using data from five different sources: or on track for 1.08degC in a century, give or take. About a degree?

clip_image002

Graph from climate4you.com

I am not claiming prescience, more like surprise. As a journalist you get used to cringing at the things you once wrote, usually when you were too much of a slave to the conventional wisdom of the day. In this case, I feel no need to cringe.

Anyway, what’s the point of all this? Well, this sentence, taken out of context, was reprinted last week by a website called Deltoid in a blog post entitled rather strangely “The Australian’s War on Science 81: Matt Ridley’s 20 year old wrong prediction” (I am not an Australian, and I have as far as I recall only once written an article for the newspaper called the Australian; I have enlisted in no war on science – indeed if there is such a war, I’ll join the infantry on science’s side). The sentence was said to have come from the Globe and Mail, a Toronto newspaper that again I have hardly ever written for, in 1993.

Alerted by a tweet from Andrew Revkin, I replied in three tweets a few seconds apart: “I did not write for the Globe and Mail in 1993, let alone about climate…maybe the GandM quoted something else I wrote and anyway…not yet wrong”. This led to a torrent of tweets from some activist claiming I had denied the article, I was an idiot, etc. Good luck to him. Anyway somebody –- actually Gavin Schmidt – then kindly posted the article on the Deltoid website (the “owner” of which, Tim Lambert, had failed to do me the courtesy of letting me know he was posting this strange attack) so I could check that yes, I did write it and that yes unbeknownst to me the Globe and Mail did reprint it, presumably with the permission of the Economist, on the last day of 1993.

Now for all I know Tim Lambert may be very good at his day job, which is lecturing in computer graphics at the University of New South Wales. He may also be charming company. But let’s just parse his headline. “Matt Ridley’s 20-year-old wrong prediction”. In what way was it wrong? One fifth of a century has passed since I wrote that sentence – I’d hardly call it a prediction, more an assessment – so how can it be wrong yet to say that there will be a degree of warming in a century? And since the fullest data set over the longest period shows that we are on track for 1.08 degrees of warming in a century, “about a degree” is looking pretty good so far, though of course it is far too early to tell. I’m not claiming it was right, just that it’s 80 years premature to call it wrong.

But Lambert seemed to be under the impression that it was obvious that I was already wrong. In a series of tweets and in a very odd, cherry-picked graph with no data source cited, he kept insisting that there’s been 0.4 degrees of warming between 1993 and 2013. I showed him the above graph. Since 1993 was the low point of the post-Pinatubo cooling (conveniently) and by ignoring the black average line in the above graph but taking the one data point that is November 2012, he claimed justification. “UAH 0.42 warming over baseline. 1993 temp on baseline,” he tweeted. At this I have to admit, I burst out laughing so loudly my dog woke up. Truly the mind boggleth.

There ensued a silly little twitter war of words in which Lambert refused me room to reply in a blog post with diagrams – the comments space of his website does not fit diagrams — while a chorus of tweeters heaped abuse on my head. This is what passes for debate in climate science, or computer graphics departments, these days.

Now, let’s look at some predictions that HAVE failed.

First, the IPCC’s many models, only two of which looks any good at this stage. The rest have all overshot the real world by some margin. Woops.

clip_image004

Chart by John Christy.

Then James Hansen:

clip_image006

Chart from kaltesonne.de

All three of his scenarios were wildly higher than what actually happened, even though carbon dioxide emissions were HIGHER than in all three of his models.

Then IPCC again, this time for methane:

clip_image008

Chart from the leaked IPCC report.

Er, back to the drawing board, lads.

Now look, fellers, you do this kind of thing for a living. I’m just a self-employed writer with no back-up team, no government grants, no taxpayer salary, no computer simulations, and absolutely no pretensions to being Nostradamus about anything. But it strikes me I did a far better job of predicting the climate back in 1993 than any of you! How could that be?

Anyway, the whole episode was depressing in two ways.

First, it’s a little sad that a lecturer in computer graphics took the trouble to look up a sentence a freelance journalist wrote 20 years ago in a piece about something else and falsely claimed it was already “wrong” when it isn’t, and would hardly matter if it was. Does he not have anything better to do?

Second, it’s also a little sad to read just how little has changed in the climate debate since then. If I could travel back in time and tell my 34-year-old self in 1993 that I would be roughly right to take a “lukewarm” view about global warming, but that in the meantime the world would ignore me and would instead spend hundreds of billions of dollars on ways to prevent the poor getting rich with cheap electricity, on destroying rain forests to grow biofuels, on spoiling landscapes with windmills to provide less than half a percent of the world’s energy, and on annual conferences for tens of thousands of pampered activists, then surely my younger self would gape in disbelief.

Anyway, here’s the 1993 essay in case you’re interested.

=======================================================

The Globe and Mail (Canada), December 31, 1993 Friday

THE WORLD IN 1994 IDEAS ENVIRONMENT
The Next Eco-Scare: Some environmental crises are genuine; others are carefully exploited fundraising bonanzas

By MATT RIDLEY
 The Economist

Like sharks, environmentalists must move forward or die. Without a constant supply of new incidents, new buzzwords and, above all, new threats, they cannot keep scaring people into sending the money that pays their salaries. For this reason alone, 1994 will produce a fresh crop of environmental scares. Not all will be bogus, but judging by the recent track record of the greens, many will.

The environmental movement has become increasingly driven by the push of marketing, rather than the pull of public outrage. When that happens to organizations, priorities change. For example, scientists at one of the biggest wildlife charities were firmly against arguing for an ivory-trade ban in 1989; they thought it would be bad for elephants. But their
marketing people saw rival organizations, which had endorsed a ban, reaping large rewards from direct-mail campaigns. It was not long before the charity was urging an end to the ivory trade.

This takeover by marketing types is having an insidious effect. In the past, environmentalists were essentially reactive. It took an external event to trigger their campaigns: the Yom Kippur War led to the oil crisis, the hot American summer of 1988 made the greenhouse effect newsworthy. But that is not the way things work in the public relations world. Does Madonna just record a song and wait to see how popular it gets? Does Steven Spielberg make a film about dinosaurs and hope it sells? No, they hype their products, whether they are good or bad. And so, soon, will environmentalists.

If you were to design the next environmental threat, what you would come up with would be a scare that is invisible (like radiation), global (like the greenhouse effect), irreversible (like rain forest destruction), cancer-causing (like dioxin) and singles out furry animals (like a Canadian seal-clubber). To sharpen your marketing skills, invent the next threat out of these building blocks.

All over the world, as you read this, groups of environmental fundraisers are trying to think up next year’s top-selling Cassandra album. They remember the great hits of the 1980s: acid rain, Chernobyl, global warming, the ozone layer, Exxon Valdez, the ivory ban. Each was a fundraising bonanza. The 1990s have been less kind to them. When the Braer oil tanker went aground on Shetland in January, 1993, it was a bonanza for the newspapers: Environmental groups rushed to place advertisements featuring photographs of oil-soaked birds-photographs that had been kept on file for exactly this eventuality ever since the Persian Gulf War.

The
Braer was, however, more of a disaster for the environmental movement than for the shags of Shetland (let alone the Socotra cormorants of the Arabian Gulf whose pictures adorned the advertisements). The oil quickly dispersed in heavy gales and did minimal damage.

As a consequence, oil spills have lost some of their power to extract funds from people’s pockets. Global warming, too, has shot its bolt, now that the scientific consensus has settled down on about a degree of temperature increase over a century-that is, little more than has taken place in the past century.

Biodiversity has some mileage left in it, because the rain forests are shrinking as fast as ever and nobody has come up with any good ideas of what to do about it, except form committees at the United Nations. Various follow-ups to the Rio convention of 1992 will take place in 1994, providing some opportunities for tugging heartstrings about the plight of Indians, three-toed sloths and esoteric fungi. But even Sting, a pop star, has wearied a little of the cynicism of the Indians he bought land for (they sold it to loggers).

Radioactivity? Not unless there’s another Chernobyl. The ozone layer? The public is bored. Electric fields causing cancer? Worth a try, but the studies keep coming up blank (try cellular phones instead). What about reviving the fads of the 1970s for predicting shortages of oil, food, water and raw materials? It will not wash; the elementary lessons of supply, demand and price substitution were too well taught by the 1980s.

One human ailment that is getting steadily worse is allergy. The evidence that allergies are diseases of the modern, technological world is now impressive (farmers and Victorian heroines rarely get allergies; only modern townspeople), and the deduction that they are somehow caused by air pollution is natural. If a scientist in 1994 can prove a link between, say, air pollution and allergies, then he or she can be sure of igniting a good campaign drawing attention to the “collapse of the human immune system.”

The other threat to raise will be genetic engineering. Suppose a genetically engineered virus designed to attack rabbits or aphids were to escape from a laboratory and start killing dolphins or cats; the leaflet writes itself long before the virus actually escapes. “This laboratory is creating cancer-causing viruses that could condemn one of nature’s most intelligent creatures to a lingering extinction, upset the fragile ecological balance of the biosphere and mutate into a deadly human plague. Don’t let it happen. Xed Jabong, lead guitarist of The Radical Sheep, urges you to help us act now.” You have been warned.

Matt Ridley is former science editor and U.S. editor of The Economist, and is the author of The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature.

Advertisements

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Lancifer

Lambert’s dark little corner of the internet is a smelly closet of a pub where disgruntled leftist can sit and sneer at the world.

Gixxerboy

Spot on, Matt, including your 1993 essay. Depressingly, what you could see through so clearly back then has not gone away. Manufactured doom-mongering has continued unabated while the public appears to have become even dumber–less likely to dismiss obvious crap. I think it might be a generational shift. Those born after the mid sixties, enjoying a silken passage through fail-free education appear to be extraordinarily credulous and highly conformist. If Roger Harrabin tells you that driving a SUV causes polar bears to spontaneously combust, it must be true…

I was published by The Australian once, as their counter point argument, a week after they gave space to Connie Hedegaard, the EU Climate Commissioner, when she was pushing her agenda down under.
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/taxing-lessons-of-a-flawed-ets/story-e6frg6zo-1225978200804

John R T

“… “collapse of the human immune system.””
Threat detected: Long, comforting, hot showers overwhelm immune systems. The first line of defense, our skin, no longer protects us from the constant barrage of ever-present pathogens. Allergies and arthritis will bring humanity to ground, unless we each shower only once a week, in cold water.
You heard it first, here. John

A Crooks

Thank you for reprinting that article.
I think this may be another one of those own-goals from the warming fraternity, where they actually draw attention to the weakness of their position and draw attention to the their opposition.

john robertson

Yah there’s probably a band, called the radical sheep too.
Who knew this scare tactic would have been so successful? As with you Matt Ridley, if I was able to tell the me of 93, of how long and well this hysteria would run, I (93) would have called the 2013 version a nut.
As for the circle of wisdom, being dissed by the mutual admiration society of climate wisdom, is an honour, after 20 years they are still smarting over your accuracy.
If only they could have been so skilful.

Thanks Matt. I come here for reasoned discourse, not the frantic shouting of juvenile activists with nothing better to do than try to refute (unsuccessfully) statements made 20 years ago in order to “score points” with like minded dimwits.
Guys like Tim Lambert have no place in a polite and intellectually satisfying society.

Chip

Ridley was right. Hansen was wrong. Let’s mock Ridley.
Does that sum things up?

troe

As an often clinched-teeth subscriber I wish you were back at The Economist.

spangled drongo

Matt, thanks for your clear thoughts. The quality of your work compared to the obfuscating, obscure and obstructionist drivel that is served up by the dotoids speaks for itself.

spangled drongo

Er, that should be DOLTOIDS

john r t, you joke, but I have heard arguments very like that several times in the last few years.

Bruce Cobb

The stalled temperatures the past 16 years (or more) puts the kaibosh on man’s C02 as a forcing of much consequence. Even a measely 1degC per century is being overly optimistic. It is probably more on the order of .3degC.

Scarface

Matt, you take the time to reply to these climate-zombies for a prediction of yours that differs 8% from reality? Isn’t it about time you write something about their predictions that differ some order of magnitude from observations? You have the gift of writing convincingly, so make them sweat!

Jeef

Prescient essay. Uncanny. You should be proud!

RockyRoad

Matt Ridley says:
“Now look, fellers, you do this kind of thing for a living. I’m just a self-employed writer with no back-up team, no government grants, no taxpayer salary, no computer simulations, and absolutely no pretensions to being Nostradamus about anything. ”
That’s your problem, Mr. Ridley–these guys you’ve just embarrassed DO have back-up teams, paid for by never-ending CASH from taxpayers, along with HUGE computers to purchase and maintain, and God-complexes that would put most doctors to shame.
Were these so-called “climate scientists” of which you speak independent and self-funded, they’d have no reason to go off like March hares screwing up their “climate science”, forcing global policy (with millions dead in their wake), and accusing YOU of lying when all you did was tell the truth.
Apparently money can’t buy honesty nowadays. If you gave these “climate scientists” proof positive that a deep freeze capable of killing most of humanity was on the horizon, they’d reject it since their paychecks demand it.
And that’s why I put quotation marks around “climate scientists”. Everybody else should, too.

Brad Keyes

Is it just me, or is climate science the only branch of science that manages to consume tens of billions of dollars without providing humankind with a single byte of actionable intelligence? Science is meant to increase human knowledge, but climate science seems to have led only to an explosion in human *belief*. Have we learned anything useful about the climate that we didn’t know ten years ago?
Meanwhile real science is uncovering new wonders at a rate the interested reader couldn’t possibly keep up with.

Ian W

I expect more of this kind of thing from Tim Lambert and others. They are starting to get stung by the ’17 years and no warming’ chorus and people playing back their failed forecasts. Warmists NEED to show areas where ‘non-warmer’ people have failed to forecast correctly to redress the balance. So they will be casting around looking for forecasts from ‘skeptics’ that can be noisily held up by the nodding donkeys of the main stream media for ridicule to even the scores.

Manfred

Adjunct lecturer, computer graphics UNSW, Tim Lambert focus appears to lie in computer modelling, his last research paper cited by Google Scholar published in 2005 http://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&user=QtwTqtAAAAAJ&view_op=list_works&pagesize=100
To the rhetorical question: “Does he not have anything better to do?” the rhetorical answer appears to be… ‘no’.

JC

If I was a greenie I too would take umbrage at the article because it exposes the way they still operate. The bit about marketing a scare would have water vapour coming out my ears and hunting furiously for a sentence that could be used to delegitimize the author.
JC

KevinK

Mr. Ridley, with respect, thirty years ago you wrote;
“More of the earth’s reflected heat stays here rather than escaping to space. so, the planet is getting warmer.”
This was wrong then and it is still wrong. A more correct statement would be;
“More of the Earth’s reflected heat is DELAYED (NOT “stays here”) as it flows from the Sun to the Earth and then onwards towards the Universe. Since Light travels quite quickly this delay amounts to a few tens of milliseconds (assuming tens of bounces between the surface and the gases at the TOA), given that there are about 86 million milliseconds in a day this delay has no effect on the average temperature of the planet.”
An even more correct statement would be;
“Increases of “GHGs” simply cause slightly more energy to flow through the system (Sun/Earth/Atmosphere/Universe) at the speed light rather than the much slower velocity (distance travelled per unit time) of conduction and convection. This simply causes the gases in the atmosphere to heat up slightly faster when energy arrives (sunrise or the dissipation of clouds), or conversely cool down slightly faster when the energy source falls (sunset or the accumulation of clouds). This change in propagation delay is so small we probably cannot afford to measure it, the historical temperature databases do not contain the necessary information.”
In any thermodynamic system the component with the slowest propagation velocity of energy (thermal or visible light or infrared light) determines the response time. Only if that propagation velocity can be increased will other components with faster velocities affect the system’s response time. In the case of the Earth the component with the slowest velocity of heat flow is the oceans.
Making multiple passes through a system at the speed of light only DELAYS the energy flow, it does not SLOW the velocity.
One example of a similar configuration (a surface absorbing and reflecting light through relatively thin layers adjacent to the surface) is the Multi-Layer Interference Filter used on the surfaces of most modern optical systems. Only by the careful use of constructive and destructive optical interference is is possible to make more light “stay here” (i.e. inside your camera). Without optical interference no more light would “stay here”. There is no credible evidence that “GHGs” create any form of constructive or destructive interference.
Destructive and Constructive Interference are somewhat misleading names and seem to imply the destruction/creation of energy. But they do not, for every location where constructive interference creates twice as much energy there is another location (exactly one half wavelength away) where there is no energy present, thus two locations, two units of energy, no energy gain, no energy loss.
Otherwise a well constructed piece and I agree with the majority of your points.
Cheers, Kevin

David Borth

An excellent rebuttal to a whole lot of small-mindedness.

Gary

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…
– Emerson

With reference to this claim:
“All three of his scenarios were wildly higher than what actually happened, even though carbon dioxide emissions were HIGHER than in all three of his models.”
This is wrong. Actual CO2 levels best track scenario B. It is important to be accurate as a sceptic and there is no need to exaggerate anyway, as scenario B is not even close to what actually happened.

William McClenney

Here’s one to remember Matt. I remember the psych professor coining it as the “Nine Times Rule”.
I truly wish I could find the paper, but I took that course in 1980.
Based on what I remember to have been a rather large study which I think might have been done in Illinois (persistence of memory…), the researchers had found that the human being is nine times more susceptible to rumor than it is to fact.
If you take a moment to actually think that through it explains almost everything in life.

andy

Which part of the leaked IPCC report does the methane graph come from please ? I have a few alarmists on my back who want to know.

trafamadore

Ridley says: “Second, it’s also a little sad to read just how little has changed in the climate debate since then.”
Since when, the early 90’s? Back then the science was all around if it was warming; now it has moved past that to details of why we are warming. I think that’s a rather big difference, sort of hard to miss for people who know what’s going on. Once upon a time weren’t you were a science reporter?

Al Gore

Leftist activist have problems coping with reality so we end up with more and more unreal problems?
Just think of all the real Bad things that the political UNFCCC, scientific unreal, have caused?
Their most precious song is Imagine by John Lennon? “Nothing to fight or die for”? But this in it self is an idea and exactly what they are doing, is it not?

trafamadore

Keyes says: “is climate science the only branch of science that manages to consume tens of billions of dollars”
At least in the US, 1.4 billion in 2011. Not tens of billiions. What uses tens of billions? cancer research, diabetes, those sorts of things.

scarletmacaw

Taking your statement literally,

Global warming, too, has shot its bolt, now that the scientific consensus has settled down on about a degree of temperature increase over a century-that is, little more than has taken place in the past century.

it does not refer to the actual temperature increase, but the ‘scientific consensus.’ I can see where the Lambert’s of the world might think that the ‘scientific consensus’ still agrees on 3-5 degrees per century in spite of all of the evidence to the contrary. Of course their particular consensus is more religious than scientific, but that’s not how they see it.

Lil Fella from OZ

I think it is very easy to get discouraged by the ‘popular rant.’ So I add another quote to encourage people against the continuing battle against ‘created truth.’ Another word we could use for that is blatant lies!!!
“For evil to flourish, all that is needed is for good people to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

DaveA

I suppose using Lambert’s reasoning we can say the Earth cooled 0.6 C from 1991 to 1993. That’s 2 C per decade, or 20 C per century. As momma said, don’t go out without a jacket.

oldfossil

I’ve spent the last two weeks going through the WUWT archives from startup in November 2006, and discovered that my first visit to this blog was in June 2012.
Up to then I was a happy climate alarmist, ready to send all you denier scumbags to death camps. Now I’m a lukewarmer, a skeptic’s skeptic or maybe I’m what John Lennon called a mocker.
My point is that there is hope for Tim Lambert. Of course my conversion resulted from the addition of information to a previous state of profound ignorance. M. Lambert doesn’t have that excuse, but he’s still young. Give him time.

davidmhoffer

trafamadore;
Since when, the early 90′s? Back then the science was all around if it was warming; now it has moved past that to details of why we are warming. I think that’s a rather big difference, sort of hard to miss for people who know what’s going on. Once upon a time weren’t you were a science reporter?
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Since this troll has had it pointed out to he/she/it that there has been no warming since the late 90’s on at least a half dozen occasions as I recall, what are we to make of this statement? Are mental constructs such as “no warming” simply too complicated for this troll to understand? Or shall we presume that the troll deliberately misrepresents the facts? Once upon a time, was the troll a human being with reasoning capabilities and ethics?

iskoob

oldfossil, you’re an important specimen and science should study you urgently 🙂 —someone who actually changed his/her mind and isn’t ashamed to admit it. I’d love to know more about your journey—what information was the clincher for you? What advice can you give us for opening the minds of other honest but misguided people? What were the factors that discouraged you from investigating the skeptical side for so many years (i.e. until June 2012)? I’m sure many of us appreciate and admire your frankness.

oh my, I think this is the most prophetic bit in the article. this man is a genius.
“If you were to design the next environmental threat, what you would come up with would be a scare that is invisible (like radiation), global (like the greenhouse effect), irreversible (like rain forest destruction), cancer-causing (like dioxin) and singles out furry animals (like a Canadian seal-clubber). To sharpen your marketing skills, invent the next threat out of these building blocks.”
look at that closely now. invisible (like CO2), global (as in warming), irreversible (tipping point + sea level rise), cancer causing (I’m sure it’s out there) and singles out furry animals (Polar bear). The warmists were obviously paying attention………
carry on.

I wonder if it would kill those greenies to admit that it might be a good thing to see observations come in under projections.

iskoob

davidmhoffer asks:
“Once upon a time, was the troll a human being with reasoning capabilities and ethics?”
Yep. Before it was corrupted, Trollum was called Smeagol.
Actually, its combination of facile language (“the science was all around if it was warming”) and snarky condescension makes me wonder if it isn’t Naomi Oreskes gracing us with her pseudonymous thoughts.

trafamadore

davidmhoffer says: “there has been no warming since the late 90′s on at least a half dozen occasions as I recall, what are we to make of this statement?”
Well, let’s see. Not to pick the time scale to start about the last super high year of ’98, let’s stick with what we randomly started with, the early 90’s. So, has it warmed since the early 90’s?
Yes it has.
So maybe warming has stopped. Or maybe not. But it’s warmer. Which is not exactly actually what I said anyway, but what you seem to be worrying about. Wow, who’s the troll here, anyway?

trafamadore

trafamadore says: “Wow, who’s the troll here, anyway?”
Oh no. Oh no. I see it now. “davidmhoffer” is actually Gleick! Why did I not see that all along!

RockyRoad

trafamadore says:
January 15, 2013 at 6:35 pm

Keyes says: “is climate science the only branch of science that manages to consume tens of billions of dollars”
At least in the US, 1.4 billion in 2011. Not tens of billiions. What uses tens of billions? cancer research, diabetes, those sorts of things.

Yes, “traf”, but over two decades it would easily add up to “tens of billions of dollars” (he didn’t specify the year 2011 as you weaseled your argument).
But the big difference is this: research in the areas of cancer, diabetes and those sorts of things is to find solutions and prolong life. “Climate science”, on the other hand, is not dedicated to such a noble cause; it is intended to drastically increase the cost of fuel, and thereby make life exceedingly difficult, perhaps impossible, for millions of Earth’s inhabitants living “on the edge”.
So internalize your misguided, self-righteous, pious opinion in the orifice of your choice and realize you are part of the problem and not part of any solution.

theduke

Virtually everything these people publish these days stinks of desperation. Taking a 20-year old quote out of context even as it is a fair approximation of the truth?
Pathetic.
What Matt’s writing two decades ago shows is that he was on to these people early on. He knew what they were going to do next in support of the cause before they did.
Re the graph: Matt might not be claiming “prescience,” but the word fits.

r murphy

Oldfossil, what got you searching? For me it was a best friend that went to Brazil for a couple years and came back a wide eyed, raving, West hating, eco-freak.

Mark

Well said, Matt. Your book “The Rational Optimist” is still one of the top five most influential books I’ve ever read.

trafamadore

RockyRoad says: “Climate science”, on the other hand, is not dedicated to such a noble cause; it is intended to drastically increase the cost of fuel”
In your opinion.

Go Home

Bo Conklin says:
January 15, 2013 at 7:38 pm
“look at that closely now. invisible (like CO2), global (as in warming), irreversible (tipping point + sea level rise), cancer causing (I’m sure it’s out there) and singles out furry animals (Polar bear). The warmists were obviously paying attention………”
______________
Cancer causing…out today. You asked and you shall receive.
“Fortified by Global Warming, Deadly Fungus Poisons Corn Crops, Causes Cancer”
http://news.yahoo.com/fortified-global-warming-deadly-fungus-poisons-corn-crops-172000380.html;_ylt=As55GXlN5uvXkomQSMsiwB0PLBIF;_ylu=X3oDMTNmYmpiMjVlBG1pdAMEcGtnAzFhMWIzYTVjLWU1ZjQtM2I5NC1hMGVlLWJkNTY3YzcwOGQ5MARwb3MDNQRzZWMDbG5fV2VhdGhlcl9nYWwEdmVyA2FiODIwMTIxLTVmODEtMTFlMi04ZGJmLWUyMTUwMDI0ZWE0ZQ–;_ylv=3

davidmhoffer

troll says;
Well, let’s see. Not to pick the time scale to start about the last super high year of ’98,
I didn’t pick the time scale, you did. You said, and a quote “Since when, the early 90′s? Back then the science was all around if it was warming; now it has moved past that to details of why we are warming. I merely pointed out that the warming stopped just a few short years after the “early 90’s” and has been absent for over 1.5 decades since then.
let’s stick with what we randomly started with, the early 90′s. So, has it warmed since the early 90′s? Yes it has.
Why yes it has. Of course it stopped warming right after that which is rather the while point. It is warmer now than it was in the Little Ice Age too, and the last full ice age before that and the one before that. But right now CO2 is increasing at the fastest rates in centuries, is at its highest levels in centuries, and for more than a decade and a half…no warming.
So maybe warming has stopped. Or maybe not.
So maybe the science of the early 90’s isn’t so settled after all and we haven’t moved beyond that to why after all? Awful hard to ask “why” something is a certain way when it isn’t that way. Well, unless you are a small child who is fond of repeating WHY? in response to everything an adult says with marked determination to drive them insane. Raised a lot of kids troll, I’m pretty much immune to the tactic.
Oh no. Oh no. I see it now. “davidmhoffer” is actually Gleick! Why did I not see that all along!
Ah, so the troll has gone from the inability to see facts that do exist, to the ability to see facts that do not exist. Either that, or the troll thinks it has a sense of humour. (If the troll was trying to insult me, I stand corrected. Bemused, but corrected.)

Rob Potter

Thanks Matt and (to echo a few people above) I wish you were still at The Economist – I might still be a subscriber if you were!
Did you write a piece there in the early 90’s which catalogued the history of science scares? I remember it listed the stages: Scientist finds interesting anomaly; obscure reporter picks it up and repeats it; scientist gets more funding as pressure group picks it up and creates a BIG DEAL; scientist realises it is actually not a big deal, but it has now got so big politicians are involved; after a few years of mass panic, everyone gets embarrassed about the scare but to save face keep on repeating it; finally it gets forgotten in the next panic.
I remember it used global cooling as the example and I tried to find it in the Economist on-line archives back when I still subscribed, but I couldn’t locate it. The thing is, The Economist not having bylines for authors, I never knew who wrote it. Given your time there coincides, I suspect it was you – any chance you still have it?

RayG

troe says:
January 15, 2013 at 4:39 pm
As an often clinched-teeth subscriber I wish you were back at The Economist.
To which I say “Amen.”

Jarryd Beck

Apparently the rest of the world is not kept up to date with the huge numbers of job cuts that have occurred at UNSW. They are cutting jobs in each faculty one by one, it’s less suspicious that way…
Long story short, Lambert was pretty good at his day job — I got top marks in one of his courses once — until his day job got axed. Notice a previous commenter said Adjunct Lecturer: that’s the title of “we had to fire you but we liked you enough to keep your account on the school system.”