My personal path to Catastrophic AGW skepticism

The Road

Image by Trey Ratcliff via Flickr

Note: if the name below is familiar to you it is because of this article from Monday. This will be a sticky post for a day or two, new stories will appear below this one– Anthony

Guest essay by Jonathan Abbott

Please allow me to recount the details of my personal path to CAGW scepticism. I have never previously found myself at odds with the scientific mainstream and at times it feels quite odd. Perhaps others here have similar experiences? I am curious to know how fellow-readers came to their current views. If some have gone from genuine scepticism to accepting CAGW, I would find that especially fascinating.

My own story begins at school in England in the early 80s. Between playing with Bunsen burners and iron filings, I remember being told that some scientists predicted that we would soon enter a new ice age. This sounded quite exciting but I never really thought it would happen; I was too young then to have seen any significant change in the world around me and it all seemed rather far-fetched. A nuclear war seemed far more likely. Soon enough the whole scare melted away.

I grew up into a graduate engineer with an interest in most branches of science but especially physics. I read the usual books by Sagan, Feynman and later Dawkins (whose The Ancestor’s Tale I simply can’t recommend highly enough). I also dipped into philosophy via Bertrand Russell. I like to think this reading helped build upon the basic capabilities for critical thinking my education had provided.

I suppose it was in the early 90s that I first noticed predictions of global warming and the associated dire warnings of calamities to come. Some of these emanated from the Met Office and so I knew should be treated with a pinch of salt but other sources included NASA, which I then personally still very much respected; despite the space shuttle evidently being the wrong concept poorly executed, their basic scientific expertise seemed unquestionable. In general I was looking forward to the warmer climate predicted for the UK, and assumed that the overall effects for the globe wouldn’t necessarily all be bad.

Now, being English I knew all about the vagaries of the weather, but the warnings about CAGW always seemed to be made in the most certain terms. Was it really possible to predict the climate so assuredly? The global climate must be an extremely complex system, and very chaotic. I had recently heard about financial institutions that were spending vast sums of money and picking the very best maths and programming graduates, but still were unable to predict the movements of financial markets with any confidence. Predicting changes to the climate must be at least as difficult, surely? I bet myself climate scientists weren’t being recruited with the sort of signing-on bonuses dangled by Wall Street. I also thought back to the ice age scare, which was not presented as an absolute certainty. Why the unequivocal certainty now that we would only see warming, and to dangerous levels? It all started to sound implausible.

The whole thing also seemed uncertain on the simple grounds of common sense. Could mankind really force such a fundamental change in our environment, and so quickly? I understood that ice ages could come and go with extreme rapidity, and that following the scare of my childhood, no one seriously claimed to be able to predict them. So in terms of previous natural variability, CAGW was demonstrably minor in scale. It seemed obvious that if natural variability suddenly switched to a period of cooling, there would be no CAGW no matter what the effect of mankind on the atmosphere. Even more fundamentally, how could anyone really be certain that the warming then taking place wasn’t just natural variability anyway? The reports I read assured me it wasn’t, but rarely in enough detail to allow me to decide whether I agreed with the data or not.

The other thing that really got me thinking was seeing the sort of people that would appear on television, proselyting about the coming tragedy that it would imminently become too late to prevent. Whether from charities, pressure groups or the UN, I knew I had heard their strident and political use of language, and their determination to be part of the Great Crusade to Save the World before. These were the CND campaigners, class war agitators and useful fools for communism in a new guise. I suddenly realised that after the end of the Cold War, rather than slinking off in embarrassed fashion to do something useful, they had latched onto a new cause. The suggested remedies I heard them espouse were always socialist in approach, requiring the installation of supra-national bodies, always taking a top-down approach and furiously spending other peoples’ money. They were clearly eager participants in an endless bureaucratic jamboree.

Now don’t get me wrong: a scientific theory is correct or not regardless of who supports it. But recognising the most vocal proponents of CAGW for what they were set alarm bells ringing, and made me want to investigate further. I had always been somewhat sympathetic towards Friends of the Earth but much less so towards Greenpeace, by that time obviously a front for luddite socialism and basically shamanistic in outlook. I had deep personal concerns about the environment, having seen reports of terrible industrial pollution in developing countries and the former Eastern Bloc. I had also sailed across the Atlantic twice in a small yacht, and seen for myself floating plastic debris hundreds of miles from land. (I also saw an ‘eco warrior’ yacht in Antigua, lived on by a crusading hippy and daubed with environmental slogans. It was poorly maintained and leaked far more oil into the water than any other boat present.)

So I was quite passionate about the environment, but my focus was on keeping it clean and safe for all life to live in. I wanted people to stop overfishing and manage fish stocks sensibly, I wanted agricultural land to produce the best long-term yields possible, to provide enough food without encroaching on wilderness and wild spaces. I wanted people everywhere to have clean air to breathe and water to drink. I had hoped that the CAGW crusade would somehow also lead to more urgent progress in fighting pollution, and the other environmental issues I cared about. If anything it did the reverse. Why the absolute fixation on reducing CO2 emissions, why was it taken for granted that this was the only way to proceed? Where was the public debate about the balance between prevention and mitigation? The CAGW protagonists always came up with solutions that were anti-industrial, anti-development and always, always required more public money. Where was the encouragement for inventors and entrepreneurs to discover and develop new technologies? And most of all, why oh why not spend some of the huge sums of money thrown at CO2 instead on getting effective pollution controls enacted in developing countries?

It had become quite clear to me that the BBC and similar media organisations would never even discuss whether the science underpinning CAGW was really robust. It had simply become a truism. An occasional doubting voice would be offered a sliver of airtime in the interests of supposed impartiality, but a proponent of CAGW would always be allowed the (much longer) last word. But, if NASA kept having to adjust their course calculations as the Voyager probes entered the outer reaches of the solar system (an utterly trivial problem compared to the complexities of the global climate), how could the science possibly be settled as claimed? Surely the great joy of science is in admitting ignorance, in taking a finely honed theory and sharpening it still further, or even better in realising a fundamental mistake and stepping aside onto a new path? The claimed certainty itself seemed unscientific.

Then in 2007 I saw a trailer on television for the forthcoming documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle. I watched it excitedly, for here finally were people publicly addressing the science and the data, but drawing alternative conclusions to the mainstream. There was none of the usual hand-waving and appeals to trust the experts, who magically seemed to be the only doubt-free scientists in recorded history. The backlash against the program told its own story too, being mainly outraged appeals to authority and conscience.

Having recently become a regular user of the internet, I started digging around looking for more information and so, soon after he started it, I found Warren Meyer’s excellent web site climate-skeptic.com. Oh, the joy! Here were links to data I could see and evaluate myself; here was critical dissection of reports and papers accepted elsewhere without demur. From there, I moved onto WUWT, Bishop Hill, Climate Audit and all the other sites that have become part of my daily round of the internet whenever I have access. However late to the party compared with many regulars at WUWT, I could now see fully both sides of the argument.

When the Climategate emails were released, some further scales fell from my eyes. I had hitherto assumed that most of the most prominent scientists supporting CAGW were well intentioned but wrong, akin to those opposing the theory of continental drift. I have taken part in many lengthy email exchanges concerning technically complex projects, and instantly recognised familiar methods used by those playing the political and bureaucratic game, for whom the data is infinitely malleable in order to reach a pre-determined goal. I had fought against this kind of factual distortion myself.

Now at this point, I am sure some (perhaps many?) readers are thinking, ‘Great, an inside view of how someone becomes a believer in a conspiracy theory, perhaps I’ll base a research paper on this idiot’. My response is that like most people I have at times stumbled upon the real conspiracy theory nuts lurking on the internet. But on WUWT and other CAGW-sceptic sites criticism of the position of the website founder isn’t just tolerated but often encouraged. ‘Prove us wrong! Please! It would be fascinating!’ There are many articles and views published on WUWT that I treat with suspicion, or even downright disagree with, but it is all stimulating and usually well argued. Plus, I am an experienced professional engineer and know what real science looks like, and when people are misusing it as a smokescreen. Neil Armstrong was a great man, and most certainly did land on the moon. Right or wrong, WUWT is a site that considers real scientific issues.

So I now find myself wondering where we go from here. The global climate will continue to change, as it has always done, and although I tend to expect some cooling I am pretty agnostic about it. Nature will assuredly do its own thing. The CAGW scare is in the process of burning out, but I do not expect an outright or imminent collapse. I hope to see the deliberate manipulators of data punished, but doubt very much it will ever come to that. Whatever happens next, it will undoubtedly be interesting, and stimulate much discussion and widely varying viewpoints. This is good news, because it means that we are back to doing science.

Advertisements

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

Mr. Abbott, thank you for sharing your story of CAGW skepticism.
My story is at the link below.
http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2011/09/from-man-made-global-warmist-to-skeptic.html

eco-geek

I was down the pub one night having a beer with a friend who asked me if I took this global warming seriously. I said: “Of course I did”.
It was in the text books at school and mainstream science wasn’t it?
I went home and started checking. The John Daly website was my first port of call.
The next night I was down the pub having a beer with the same friend. “By the way”. I said. “That Anthropogenic Global Warming is a complete load of bollocks”.
“My round” he said.

Eric Elsam

“The idea is to try to give all the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another.
Richard P. Feynman ”
Thank you, Mr. Abbott, and you, Anthony, for your efforts to give us “…all the information…”.

Gary in Ridgecrest, CA

Here’s to hoping that more and more people will look at the facts and come to the same conclusion as you. So many people have no clue!

AnonyMoose

It’s amazing how facts counter consensus.

You’ve rather succinctly nailed it there. Well done.

I think in the next 5 years many more will share our journey to skepticism.

I hope your good news pans out. I am so tired of the argumentum ad auctoritatem. Which is all they have left.

GlynnMhor

I recall the first talk I ever saw on the subject of AGW, in the 1990s. The speaker presented the observational temperature data and had fitted an exponential curve to the warming from the 1970s to the 1990s.
I was disturbed by the fitting of such a curve to data that might well be linear, but the most salient aspect of the graph was that his curve could just as well have been fitted to the temperature rise of the first half of the 20th century.
When I asked a question about that, I received basically a weasely ‘non-answer’, and an immediate call for the next question, which shut my queries down.
I’ve remained unconvinced ever since of hypotheses that fail to explain why the 1910-1940 warming did not continue (among other deficiencies).

Dave the Engineer

Skeptic from the beginning. 1. too much certainty by some very vocal scientists and enviro activists 2. the physics did not make sense to me, too much attribution to a very small CO2 change. 3. got even more suspicious when the medieval warming period’s existence was denied 4. and through it all I kept wondering why won’t they talk about that big hot yellow thing in the sky.
Skeptical about the negative hype about cholesterol. Skeptical about the positive hype of vegetable oils, wheat, low fat diets, and calorie control. Skeptical about Islam as the “religion of peace”. Skeptical about Keynesian economics. Skeptical that nearly every white person that has a negative comment about our government is supposedly a racist. Just a born skeptic I guess. Can’t possibly be attributable to rational thought based on research.

Ken Hall

Mr Abbott. Thank you. To save time and space, I was also educated in the 1980s and came to climate scepticism in an almost identical way.
In my case, back in 2006 a good friend of mine told me with some certainty that CAGW was rubbish. I did not know and had barely looked into it in any depth. I remember the ice age scares of the 1970s and wondered if the current warming was just natural variation with some human influence, or what,so to counter what he was saying I started researching all I could find out and approached it from a neutral perspective. I wrote to blogs on both sides of a debate that I was told from only one side, did not exist. In fact the more I tried to find objective truth, and the more I engaged a scientific curiosity and asked detailed and often awkward questoions, the more ine side helped me, and the other became insulting and closed down.
One side was happy to provide evidence and was always looking for more evidence, the other side was always hiding evidence and expecting me to accept their word on blind faith.
The sceptical side was much more scientific and the alarmist side was much more religious. Since those early days in 2006-07,the climategate emails happened, the scale of how the alarmist side had been hiding evidence, bullying journals and editors, perverting the peer review system entirely,reduced my trust in the alarmists, but I was still listening to the data. I was still prepared to accept the reality of CAGW if the data supported it. Being from a computing and engineering background, I instinctively distrusted climate models as they are only as good as the data that they are built from and the data is very much incomplete, so I watch the charts of temperature which underpin the whole theory.
None of the models projected the current pause. None of the scientists predicted or warned of the pause. None of the scientists can still explain the pause with any data showing how the mechanism of the pause works. The models failed. the theory upon which those models were built, has been falsified.
The rude, unscientific behaviour of the alarmist scientists is what put me off them personally and raised alarm bells and made me begin to distrust their arguments.
But It is the actual real hard data which convinces me of the sceptical side of the debate. A debate which alarmists spend so much of their time arguing in whilst claiming it is a debate which does not exist.

Janice Moore

Thank you for sharing, Mr. Abbot. I have been HOPING for a thread on just this topic. I hope others will share their “path to truth” stories.
I have no “story.” Seeing that the devotees of AGW were the same socialists (quaintly styling themselves “Democrats”) who drove around in old Volvos with “No Nukes!” bumper stickers on the back and pushed “organic” produce, I was skeptical from the get-go and actively pursued evidence to refute them. Soon, comparing their “science” with real science, it became clear who was right.
I came to WUWT about 4 months ago thanks to a link on Mark Steyn’s site — and boy am I glad I did! I LOVE THIS SITE!

Stephen Richards

Ditto. But I never did accept the agw hypophesis. It never made sense to me even as a 6th former. I read HHLamb and every other climate / weather book I could afford or borrow from the library but I started from a position of non-acceptance. I get extremely annoyed with the likes of the UK Met Off people who really MUST know better but refuse to say so. It’s people like them I want to put in prison.

John de Melle

I’m another proffessional engineer. Your road of discovery matches mine, exactly.
Thank you for sharing it.

Stefan the Geologist

Like Dave the Engineer above, skeptic from the beginning. I was raised in Ontario where evidence of recent (10K years) is everywhere, so sure climate had changed… a lot. Also, I remember the 1970s breathless warnings of imminent global cooling. Strangely enough, the cure was the same as for global warming… de-industrialization on a large scale. I suspect that for many in the climate alarmist camp, de-industrialization has always been the underlying goal. Climate change (cooling then, and warming now) is a means to an end.

Janice Moore

Dear Mr. AbboTT — please forgive my misspelling your name.

Stefan the Geologist

oops.. that should read “evidence of recent glaciation”

Janice Moore

Stephen Richards!
Here’s my chance to say, “Thank you so much” for your encouraging remark awhile back (maybe I already told you — LOL, I can’t remember!). As a result, (whisper: I have been praying all along that all is well with you — just as a “thanks.”).
Hope all is well!
Janice

Terry Bixler

Well I for one know it is buried deep in the ocean. I mean how else did the center of the earth get so hot. Just as Heidi and she will explain it so even a senator can understand. Of course she was educated by the president himself.

Bloke down the pub

My academic standard only reaches Geology A’level. From what I had learnt though, I was pretty sure that the global temperature had previously been much higher than present. That seemed to torpedo the warmist’s claim that feedbacks were catastrophically positive. My first contact with sceptics came from Chris Bookers column in the Sunday Telegraph who guided me to WUWT and the rest as they say is history.
eco-geek says:
July 25, 2013 at 11:19 am
Just goes to show you meet a better sort of bloke down the pub

I was already a severe skeptic of anything promoted by powerful interests who would also profit from the recommended response to their new “problem”. Nancy Pelosi, for example, when speaking on this subject said:
“We’re trying to save the world!”
Having endured the endless terror of the Cold War (ended), of various Malthusian predictions of the end of oil (not ended), the end of food (not ended), and the end of warmth (not ended), other endless terrors of pig flu (came to naught), bird flu (came to naught), ebola (came to naught), terrorism (basically a crime in search of a war) – well, by the time the global warming scam came along I couldn’t easily be convinced that the end of the world was that simple.
After looking at the people promoting the idea I became even more skeptical.
After looking at the available evidence, I concluded my tentative conclusion didnt need changing.

Stephen Wilde

My story starts in the 1950s. My father took me to see the remains of Lynmouth Devon after a catastrophic flood. I must have been 4 or 5 years old and my response was that if rain could do that then I ought to pay attention to the weather.
For the next 60 years I observed and studied weather and climate obsessively. I joined the Royal Meteorological Society as a student member in 1968 and have maintained my membership to date.
I formed certain views about the ebb and flow of energy in the atmosphere in the light of basic physical principles and thought my mental constructs were part of the mainstream (as per Hubert Lamb, Marcel Leroux and Gordon Manley amongst many others) until the AGW panic started in the late 90s.
At first I went along with it as an interesting proposition but then around 2000 I noted that the previous tendency of the jets and climate zones to drift poleward had stopped and subsequently they appeared to be retreating back equatorward again.
That was inconsistent with AGW theory in light of our accelerating emissions and after 7 years of considering the discrepancy I embarked on blogging about climate.
As a result of the to and fro of vigorous debate I tested my ideas against many other minds and gradually filtered out the nonsense.
I now have a workable New Climate Model which fits observations and basic physical principles. It will shortly be promulgated in a new website and I will be providing links to the many sources that have helped me to refine my views over the past 6 years.
The discomfiture of arguing with the likes of Leif and Willis has been invaluable and the data provided by Bob Tisdale and Tonyb amongst others has been very helpful.

ejgood

From a lay person: I see various posts/articles, including this one, about CAGW being a theory. Is it really? Is it not just a hypothesis with no empirical foundation to “promote” it to a theory? Thanks .

Golden

I too grew up at a time when scientists were claiming that an ice age was coming and often wondered for years whatever became of those claims.
In the last few years a friend would email me articles proclaiming global warming. I didn’t pay much attention to them until climate-gate. Then I searched through the internet and found references to WUWT. I had researched evolution and Malthusian population explosion before and found that they were a bunch of bullock. Here I find Man Made Global Warming advocates using logical fallacies, built theories on unvalidated or unverifiable assumptions, made great use of story-telling, ignored facts, brow-beat people who questioned their assumptions, won’t give straight answers, answer in a dogmatic manner as persons of authority rather than with data and logic as expected of scientists. In other words their approach is no different than Evolutionists and Malthusian doomsdayers. That’s when I added Man Made Global Warming to my bullock list of evolution and Malthusian population explosion. The same people often believe in all three.

Shano

Well put. My journey toward climate skepticism began with reading Michael Crichton’s State of Fear. I was so intrigued that I checked the data, listened to skeptical speakers on you tube, and visited the sites you mentioned on line. I was flabbergasted by Gore’s movie. A 32foot graph that when read by anyone with any scientific background clearly refuted the speaker Nobel recipient and ex vice president. When will the public become enlightened? I look foreword to those described above and refered to as watermelons by Delingpole get what’s coming to them.

jai mitchell

Insightful article! It does seem like a kind of support group(ish) writeup though.
The Global Warming Swindle of 2007 is so full of lies and disinformation that even now it is being distanced by the skeptic community because it is so completely unscientific. For example, they provide the Greenland temperature data to show that the medieval warm period was much warmer than today, which is a common myth promoted by anti-global warming propagandists who pretend that Greenland is the entire world and that Greenland ice cores are the only way to derive temperature from the paleo record. Another example is that they failed to show how the IPCC had determined it was a combination of volcanic and man made aerosols that caused the post WWII cooling and that the “recession” of the 1970s had nothing to do with the resurgence of warming but rather it was the response to acid rain (removing sulfate emission in U.S. and Europe) that caused the resurgence of warming. These subtle efforts to hide truth show that this movie was simply a form of propaganda.
It turns out that, when looking at reliable historic temperatures we are already above the global level of both the medieval warming and the roman warming period and are basically tied with the Holocene Optimum. For the most reliable temperature record for the earlier interglacial (the Eemian) the Antarctic ice core data shows we are within 1C of the peak temperature found during the Eemian optimum. After that point we will reach an average temperature level that hasn’t been seen on planet earth for the last 1.5 million years and (likely) will reach a point not seen on this planet for nearly 50 million years. –all within the next 100-200 years.
The characterization of the “climategate” emails was a complete fabrication by the websites you listed. Comprehensive analysis of the emails showed that there was no impropriety involved. They simply picked out emails that were supposedly incriminating by misquoting them and implying things that were not happening. to say that they were implying those things is to promote lies and does yourself a disservice.
It is inherently clear in all sociological studies of global warming perceptions that the overwhelming majority of “skeptics” are white males over the age of 35 with above average incomes who come from a politically right ideology. Are you sure that your scientific understanding isn’t actually derived from your ideological opposition to collective responses to AGW and/or fear of the potential regulatory framework that will be implemented (i.e. government restrictions on personal freedoms)?
I do not have those fears, because my understanding of the scientific reality is much different from yours, though honest and intense (and recent!) investigation.
My personal experience with becoming aware of the extreme danger posed to society from AGW came from personal inquiry after being challenged on the subject 2 years ago. Prior to that point I thought that AGW was going to be a potential issue *maybe* in about 100 years due to sea level rise.
As I began to review the documentation, actual peer reviewed articles and then book after book, I began to find out things that were in direct opposition to what I had previously known to be true, like the fact that 2007 arctic melt was a significant outlier to all modeled arctic ice responses, that the uncertainty of modeling projections for global temperatures indicated that it was likely that the projections for warming over the next 75 years would be double what we were being told. I also found that there was also significant uncertainties on the feedback mechanisms regarding boreal forest, Amazon basin forests and arctic methane feedbacks indicating that the models were inherently conservative in their estimations by leaving out these potentially catastrophic factors.
Then I found that the paleoclimate analyses for climate sensitivity to CO2 were based on studies of the glacial phases in the climate record not the interglacials, like we are in today. I then found out that climate sensitivities determined during historic interglacials indicated a MUCH higher climate sensitivity but were thrown out of the calculation because runaway climate change didn’t happen. But that they didn’t consider that the only other time that we had a non-Milankovich driven interglacial (one driven by CO2) actually DID produce runaway warming (the PETM).
Then I found out that our current CO2 emissions path is actually higher than the worst case scenario, that wasn’t actually considered as likely at the time (A1Fl) and that the rapid collapse of arctic ice was going to radically shift the northern hemisphere weather patterns before any other processes were going to take place.
Then, most recently I found out that the weather pattern shift predicted after the ice melt of 2012 was actually happening and then, in the beginning of this summer, a split in the northern hemisphere polar jet stream began producing long-lived cut off lows in the midlattitude regions and now, for the last 2 months there has been an ever-present cut-off low in the north pacific (and sometimes two or three!) that are persisting much longer than the 4-6 days that they usually live) and the wrong-way low that started in July 10th and moved into texas, has only now moved back to the east coast after 2 weeks in an unprecedented shift in northern hemisphere weather.
The effects of AGW have now shown themselves in extremely unstable weather events. We will see what kind of a wild ride we are in for now. One can only hope that the current predictions are not true, but one thing is absolutely true, and without a doubt, AGW is real, the scientists were not part of some grand socialist conspiracy and we are now in the fight for the lives of our future generations.

My conversion from believer to skeptic came only after I came to rude awakenings in other disciplines. It started during the housing crisis (which is still ongoing, btw) – my occupation was residential construction and despite all the “experts” on TV and in newspapers saying it would keep going up I knew they were wrong and I was subsequently proven correct. That episode bitchslapped me into awareness – if everyone was wrong about something as fundamental as housing prices, what else are we wrong about? Well the answer to that turns out to be just about everything, as long as there is a financial interest in maintaining the errant status quo.
My next investigation was into health and nutrition and I doubt many will believe me but everything you think you know about eating correctly and the cause of chronic disease like CHD, diabetes, cancer and autoimmune disease is dead wrong. Low fat and “healthy whole grains” are the true killers, not saturated fat and cholesterol. The information is out there, it’s just that conventional wisdom is just so damn hard for the public to go against and scientists and doctors who have spent their lives promoting a low fat diet are so caught up in cognitive dissonance it takes an incredible leap of faith to consider different alternatives.
At this point I was getting quite a bit perturbed about all the disinformation that is out there and I took an interest in global warming; something I had believed in before but now wasn’t so sure owing to my experience with nutrition. I stumbled upon Anthony’s site in 2009 and immediately read his Surface Stations project and it became instantly clear there was no way we could be sure about CAGW if we couldn’t even accurately measure the temperature today, let alone guess about what it was in the past. I followed that with “The Hockey Stick Illusion” and any doubts were removed entirely; perhaps CAGW is happening but we don’t have the slightest ability to prove it so these outspoken members of The Team could only be engaging in quackery (or outright fraud), not science.
It’s been an interesting stretch, I feel as if I can finally see after a lifetime of blindness. There’s no going back and I will do my best from here on out to fight the fraud and obvious self interest that seems to drive most of our conventional wisdom.

Richard Lawson

As an Engineer who was also messing about with Bunsen burners in the early ’80’s your story is a carbon copy of mine. Like you I initially fell for the CAGW story. My mistake was to believe the PR machine that the warmists had built. In 2008 an article in The Telegraph by Christopher Booker prompted me to investigate. Since then I have become a fully signed up member to the ‘skeptic’ club.
Thanks to the freedom of the Internet and freedom fighters like Booker, Watts, Lomborg, North, McIntyre et al, we will all soon be free of the evil ideals that the catastrophists are promoting. In a few short years they, and their thoughts, will become a laughing stock and stories like yours and mine will be the norm rather than the exception.

ImranCan

Your path very closely matches mine. Graduated in 1989 in earth sciences (UK university) and shave spent over 20 years working in the oil and gas industry. My interest in AGW started with Al Gores movie which seemed compelling but when I started to get more interested analytically and ask some pretty basic questions, I was amazed to find the reluctance to admit uncertainty and downright antagonism when making simple queries. To a scientific mind ths just makes one dig deeper with the ultimate result in my skepticism and realisation that AGW theory is a house of cards.

Pat

About Climategate email; when will there be updates regarding the third chunk of emails? It has been months but no info have been released so far.

I had a similar path to the author. I had lots of questions, but seeing breathless propaganda about “settled science” made me suspicious.
“The Great Global Warming Swindle” prompted me to seek answers on the internet, and I stumbled upon Jo Nova’s website, and from there, others.
Having had classic scientific education, I can judge facts for myself, and what I saw made me really angry. And I saw a fraudulent attempt to use the name of science to install global control, raise unjustified taxes and impose bogus regulations.
I still believe that CAGW ideology is more dangerous than any other totalitarian ideology or religion, as it has such popular support, yet outright wrong and will inevitably result in utter misery and death to many.
It also makes me wonder whether we learned anything from the XX century, having believed in Communism, Nazism and Eugenics in quick succession. We still dare to believe and follow leaders who are the most shameless and the most abrupt, without actually checking any facts.
This scares me, it really does.

Saw who was promoting it and was immediately skeptical.

Gareth

I became sceptical as soon as I learned that CO2 levels have been 12 times higher than today in the past, and that the earth entered into ice ages despite high CO2 levels. Then I learned that warming releases more CO2 into the air. None of the Believers seems to be able to explain why runaway warming didn’t happen millions of years ago. Warming leads to more CO2 which leads to more warming….
Climate gate settled the issue for me.

With regard to Eric Elsam quoting Feynman, I recalled the youtube talk at Stanford U by Stephen Schneider “Climate Change: Is the Science Settled”. He says that as with a lawyer, he is not obligated to cite evidence to the contrary. btw, he is a MacArthur “genius” fellow. My doubts also grew out of the near certainty cited for the multiple of elements of anthropogenic global warming due to CO2. A long time ago, I did numerical simulations for semiconductors. It was a bitch trying to chase down what effects were real versus an artifact of the numerical model. There were many incautious investigators who reported “discoveries” that were later shown to be the result of the model and not real. I guess nothing changes in 30 years.

geran

“The other thing that really got me thinking was seeing the sort of people that would appear on television, proselyting about the coming tragedy that it would imminently become too late to prevent. Whether from charities, pressure groups or the UN, I knew I had heard their strident and political use of language, and their determination to be part of the Great Crusade to Save the World before. These were the CND campaigners, class war agitators and useful fools for communism in a new guise. I suddenly realised that after the end of the Cold War, rather than slinking off in embarrassed fashion to do something useful, they had latched onto a new cause. The suggested remedies I heard them espouse were always socialist in approach, requiring the installation of supra-national bodies, always taking a top-down approach and furiously spending other peoples’ money. They were clearly eager participants in an endless bureaucratic jamboree.”
>>>>>>>>
Yup, it was always about the politics (and funding) not the science.

Joe Public

This thread’s a bit like a Confessional.
My conversion from believer to skeptic was rapid.
Climategate.
If the UEA/CRU crew was convinced AGW was happening, why did they lie to try to ‘prove’ it was happening?

Theo Barker

Another engineer with a very similar path to similar stance. It appears that Roy S. has a very good grasp of the uncertainties, so he currently has the most credence in the debate, IMO.

James Ard

Like Scuzza Man said, you can tell it’s a scam by the people behind it. Dad told me it was hogwash decades ago, but I would have figured it out on my own watching the socialists try so hard to scare the pants off of people.

TRM

Cool story. Mine is similar. I thought that if there was a lot of scientists with a position it should be a correct one or at least the most likely. Fortunately for me I love to play devil’s advocate. I usually can read an opposing side and dismember their arguments in seconds. Not so with AGW. As I read more I came up with 4 simple questions I started asking all the pro-AGW organizations and people I could. Most did not respond or brushed it off as irrelevant and “just believe” appeal to authority type answers. Now if you’re like me not getting a straight answer to simple questions will really put you on high alert with the BS meter!
1) What is the most powerful and plentiful GHG?
2) What percentage of the GH can be attributed to water vapor?
3) How much CO2 from all sources goes into the atmosphere?
4) How much CO2 goes into the atmosphere from humans?
The answer to number 2 was 65% to 95% depending on who you ask. With that huge of a range the rest of the numbers don’t really matter because you start off with such a huge unknown. I would run the numbers for high, low and medium and just come back to “it can’t be human caused”. Of course I ran into the “CO2 gives water vapor a huge feedback” but when asked for proof (silly me) I’d get dead silence.
Since then I have continued reading both sides of the debate but have found nothing (so far) to alter my current position that human releases of CO2 are not the primary cause of the warming we saw post 1980.
The current pause has me more concerned that Livingston & Penn (and others) are correct and we are heading for another cold spell / ice age. I still hope they are wrong but so far their predictions match reality better (I know, silly me again wanting predictions that can be tested before the events occur).
Cheers

Frosty

Part of me ‘wants to believe’ in CAGW, perhaps as some kind of emotional reaction, feeling that we’re not particularly good at looking after our planet … but at my core I am rational and logical … and data is a stubborn thing, so I get branded as a skeptic. So be it.

Louis LeBlanc

Thanks for your great story. The tide is turning. I am much older (79) and remember many warnings of catastrophes which never came. I remember the experts (mostly in government) who were certain the world would be out of natural gas by 2015 and out of oil by 2030 or thereabout. I am driven most by logic, and there’s not much of that in the CAGW machine.

MarcH
M Courtney

My personal experience is different as my father first identified cAGW as the next big politically-motivated, environmental scare in the mid-1980s. So I was sceptical before most people knew there was anything to be sceptical of.
But the UK media experience is familiar. For me, the BBC bias worked in reverse.
I lost my trust of the BBC because of my understanding of the science. I wasn’t sceptical because of BBC bias.
If I had no understanding of the science, would I have become sceptical of the established science as well as the BBC?
Who knows? Although as a Christian my faith in scientism was quashed by Dawkins not sustained.
Still, in the end the refusal to debate was the key to my scepticism. Real scientists, if they had a 97% consensus and physical evidence, would relish the chance to crush their opponents I public.
But they were afraid.
Hypocritical pseudo-scientists!

alan neil ditchfield

Believers in CAGW are astonished when the y find that engineers don’t believe in scientists. They accept and use Euclidean geometry because its propositions stand demonstrated, not because they believe in Euclid. There is a gulf of understanding between believers and those who practice science.

taxed

lt was my interest in weather that told me that AGW was utter rubbish.
The weather in the UK since 2007 with the jet stream tracking south and moving into a more waving pattern told me AGW would be wrong. The weather was pointing to the risk of returning to a climate type like the LIA not to the Med climate moving north to the UK.
As soon as they tried to pin the reason to the jet stream making large swings to AGW. l knew they were full of it and lacked a real deep understanding about the weather.
lf there was one single weather event that told me that ever rising global temps as forecast by AGW was wrong. Then it was in Feb 2012 when a saw a weather pattern that l would of expected to have turned up in the middle of a ice age. lf we were heading towards ever rising temps, then what the hell is this doing turning up.

“Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.”
When I found out somebody with a scientific background said that, I was amazed. When I found out it was Phil Jones and that he was a major player in mainstream AGW science, I needed to sit down and have a drink.

I will start off by saying that I never really believed in man-made global warming. I was more of a “I don’t care” person about the issue; I didn’t believe or disbelieve. But it was Steve McIntyre and James Spann who convinced me CAGW was bogus.
I love studying the weather. I’m not meteorologist good, but I still like the weather. One summer many years ago, I noticed that the Weather Channel had no idea what the weather was going to be like. I saw a forecast change dramatically in a short period of time. From that moment, I began to actively mock the Weather Channel. And they make it easier to this day. A few years later I saw that someone at the Weather Channel (Heidi Cullen?) wanted to deny AMS certification to any meteorologist who didn’t believe in CAGW. I forgot how I was made aware of James Spann’s blog about this (Link to the blog entry), but James said “I have been in operational meteorology since 1978, and I know dozens and dozens of broadcast meteorologists all over the country. I do not know of a single TV meteorologist who buys into the man-made global warming hype.”
That is when I asked myself: “Why is it that meteorologists, who are only paid when they are right, do not believe in man-made global warming but scientists, who are paid whether they are right or wrong, do?”
Soon after that, I learned about Steve McIntyre and how he disproved the hockey stick. And soon after that, I found WUWT; specifically, this link which showed how GISS changed the temperatures. I asked myself another question: “Why was 1930 hotter in 1999 than today?” (P.S. I have visited WUWT every day since then.)
Around this same time I read about how James Hansen cried censorship by George W. Bush when, in fact, W. Bush just told Hansen to do his job. I also read about the Medieval Warm Period, back before the eco-loons took over Wikipedia. There was many things that made me a disbeliever (I don’t call myself a skeptic.)
I now proselytize my disbelief in CAGW by talking about weather history. That is how I do it. I told many people for years that New York City was long overdue for a hurricane, then Hurricane Sandy hit last year and I started telling people the last major hurricane to hit New York City was in 1938. And so on. Joe Bastardi helps me with the weather history part, history the CAGW promoters want to keep hidden. I’ve made many people CAGW disbelievers.

Very well written. My own story has many similar elements, but it actually started with a family argument over the dinner table at Christmas. Simply, i was challenged to look at the actual data, and so began the journey to skepticism.

We regularly hear from scientific illiterates here. This site doesn’t censor their opinions, no matter how much pseudo-science they contain. But occasionally we hear from someone who is so filled with psychological projection [imputing his own faults onto others] and false information that he appears to be peddling clown science. The post above by jai mitchell is a case in point. mitchell asserts:
…when looking at reliable historic temperatures we are already above the global level of both the medieval warming and the roman warming period and are basically tied with the Holocene Optimum.
Even climate alarmists like Richard Alley show that the MWP, the RWP, the Minoan Optimum, etc., were significantly warmer than now. Where does jai mitchell get his nonsense? He doesn’t say. No doubt he simply retains the most preposterous estimate and presumes that to be his baseline belief. mitchell continues:
The characterization of the ‘climategate’ emails was a complete fabrication… there was no impropriety involved.
Everyone who has followed the Climategate email dump has seen the documented evidence of fraud and malfeasance, from threatening journals for publishing scientific papers that disputed the runaway global warming narrative, to the outright fabrication of published papers for the purpose of propagandizing climate science, to actually getting scientists fired for disputing their ideology. Much of this is well documented in Montford’s The Hockey Stick Illusion [available on the right sidebar]. None of that documented Climategate evidence matters to jai mitchell. He is a True Believer, and his mind is made up and shut tighter than a drumskin. mitchell writes:
…the overwhelming majority of ‘skeptics’ are white males over the age of 35 with above average incomes who come from a politically right ideology.
Note the ad hominem attack, which takes the place of mitchell’s non-existent science. Also note that if most skeptics are politically conservative [an assertion that is constantly disputed by many liberal scientists here on WUWT], then it follows that most wild-eyed runaway global warming prophets like mitchell must therefore be from the far left. jai mitchell cannot even make a coherent argument.
jai mitchell explains his putative climate knowledge:
…my understanding of the scientific reality is much different from yours, through honest and intense (and recent!) investigation… 2 years ago.
Many of us here have been closely following the global warming scare for twenty years or more, and most regular readers have backgrounds and education in the hard sciences and engineering. But mitchell started reading his pseudo-science blogs only 2 years ago, so now he presumes to lecture everyone with his predictions:
The 2007 arctic melt… projections for warming over the next 75 years would be double what we were being told.
Again, told by whom? The Arctic is going through its natural cycle, and it is countered by increasing Antarctic ice. The net result when both hemispheres are added together is about the same global ice cover as the past 30-year average. Scientific know-nothings like jai mitchell refuse to show what is happening in the Antarctic, because their purpose is to disseminate propaganda.
And note that 30 years is a very short time scale. At various times during the Holocene, the Arctic had no ice cover. During those times CO2 was much lower than now, therefore CO2 could not be a significant cause of declining Arctic ice. The actual causes are changing wind, ocean currents, and precipitation.
mitchell tells us what he found out [but he doesn’t say where]:
I then found out that climate sensitivities determined during historic interglacials indicated a MUCH higher climate sensitivity but were thrown out of the calculation because runaway climate change didn’t happen.
The ‘high climate sensitivity’ number has been so totally debunked here and elsewhere that only someone who just stumbled across the global warming scare 2 years ago would be unaware of it. At current concentrations, the effect of CO2 is not even measurable. Most of the warming due to CO2 happened in the first 20 ppm. Adding more to current levels makes such a small difference that for all practical purposes it can be completyely disregarded.
mitchell writes another non-sequitur:
…our current CO2 emissions path is actually higher than the worst case scenario…
But mitchell does not define “our”. Most of the increased [harmless and beneficial] CO2 is emitted by China, India, Russia, and a hundred smaller countries. U.S. CO2 emissions are declining. But since mitchell is propagandizing, he will not attack the countries that are doing what he believes damages the environment. Where are his polemics against China? I have never seen one. So maybe jai mitchell can post a reference to a comment he made at WUWT criticizing China. Finally, without one iota of testable, verifiable, measurable scientific evidence, jai mitchell asserts:
The effects of AGW have now shown themselves in extremely unstable weather events… without a doubt, AGW is real…
Without a doubt, there are no verifiable, testable measurements showing that AGW even exists. Global warming is natural, and has progressed along the same long term trend line since the LIA. But like everything else he asserts, jai mitchell is either wrong or self-serving when he tries to blame global warming on human CO2 emissions. There is simply no measurable, testable scientific evidence for that repeatedly debunked false alarm.

Jonathan Abbott

I feel like I just stood up at an AA meeting.