Nine Lessons and Carols in Communicating Climate Uncertainty

Tamsin Edwards has a new essay on uncertainty, here is an excerpt:

About a month ago I was invited to represent the Cabot Institute at the All Parliamentary Party Climate Change Group (APPCCG) meeting on “Communicating Risk and Uncertainty around Climate Change”. All Party Groups are groups of MPs and Lords with a common interest they wish to discuss, who meet regularly but fairly informally. Here are the APPGCC  APPCCG register, blog, Twitter and list of events.

The speakers were James Painter (University of Oxford), Chris Rapley (UCL) and Fiona Harvey (The Guardian), and the chair was (Lord) Julian Hunt (UCL). Rather than write up my meeting notes, I’ll focus on the key points.


1. People have a finite pool of worry

2. People interpret uncertainty as ignorance

3. People are uncomfortable with uncertainty

4. People do accept the existence of risk

5. Scientists have little training

6. Journalists have little (statistical) training

7. “Newspaper editors are extremely shallow, generally”

8. There are many types of climate sceptic

9. Trust is important

Read all of the details behind the list here:


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Follow the Money
December 6, 2013 4:47 pm

“Most of us are not well trained – perhaps hardly at all – in science communication.”
Not at all trained in PR communications in this case. The whole campaign of recent years adjusted to “better climate science communication” is not psychologically plotted to change the minds of skeptics, but to keep the believers in line and not raise questions. It is a type of “blame the listener” strategy.
Also what much of the lingo she purports to be “science communication” is largely language of insurers and risk analysts–for money. The insurers are in the profit position of wanting wide spread risk to be believed, and premiums adjusted up so, but to know to themselves the risk is actually smaller. The bigger gap is between reality and belief, the bigger the profits. Very big in the coastal insurance game.

Mark Bofill
December 6, 2013 4:56 pm

I like Tasmin. But she’s wrong on at least one point. I fear the Higgs boson.

December 6, 2013 5:18 pm

Agree with Follow the Money: (December 6, 2013 at 4:47 pm) on all counts. Communication on this matter has been horrific. There has been this huge focus on events “unprecedented since they last happened”, with scientists explaining, “Yes, we know we don’t see statistical evidence in this case, I am very obviously discussing this as an example of what will happen if we are correct, and of course we are, this is proof”. This is certain to raise the eyebrow of any logical thinker. (*see Mann’s recent quotes at the bottom of this comment:)
The transparency of the insurers is equally obvious. A much larger, richer population is building many more larger, more expensive,high technology equipped and infrastructure linked structures in places where they once built a few simple buildings… and we hear bleats that “This was the most damaging disaster ever…!” Again, logic prevails, for those who can think.
But for me, there is more to it than doubting the certainty of the science: I doubt the certainty of the economists. I was very impressed years ago studying the use of market forces to restrict the power station outputs of sulphates, with the market balancing the price of permits vs the cost of scrubbers, allowing a true cost of scrubber removal to be quickly ascertained. But, this was ALL done within a specific industry in a specific country.
To try to apply a “price on carbon” across international borders, where we have different economies, social structure, levels of unemployment, levels of technology, levels of education and to complicate that by involving the rapacious financial multi-nationals in the trading mix, and then to try and regulate and redistribute it all via the good offices of the UN and the World Bank……… ya gotta be kidding.
One quibble on the article: Tamsin says: “And in the discussion someone quoted a journalist as saying “The IPCC report says it has 95% confidence – what do the other 5% of the scientists think?” In other words, confusing the idea of a consensus and a confidence interval. There was a laugh at this in the room.”
Surely it is wrong to imply that the 95% confidence quoted in this particular case has anything to do with statistical analysis.
*Michael Mann: Completely lost in Muller’s selective quotation is any nuance or context in what I had said, let alone the bottom line in what I stated: It is in fact too early to tell whether global warming is influencing tornado activity, but we can discuss the processes through which climate change might influence future trends.
Actual atmospheric scientists know that the historical observations are too sketchy and unreliable to decide one way or another as to whether tornadoes are increasing or not ……. So one is essentially left with the physical reasoning I outlined above. …

December 6, 2013 5:19 pm

How about this.
We are paying you a fortune to do your work, the future of the world is hanging in the balance.
Do you mind if we check your work ?

December 6, 2013 5:24 pm

The point Tamsin made about the Ofsted (school) inspector struck a chord.
I think that may people think of science as a subject with a large number of known facts – and nothing else. The facts are known, the teacher marks your homework or lab work based on those facts and that is how peer review works. The peer reviewers know the answers and mark the paper accordingly. If it passes it can be published.
This is why we get analogies to medical doctors. Stuff is known; the scientists are just there to tell you what is is. The concept of research and things being unknown is completely foreign. The thought that a research finding could be invalid is also not considered possible by many.

December 6, 2013 5:35 pm

graphic…here’s a link to a paper along those lines. It’s very interesting-

Joe Public
December 6, 2013 5:47 pm

“5. Scientists have little training”
Unlike MPs & Peers, who have no training as a prerequisite to appointment.

December 6, 2013 6:46 pm

‘6. Journalists have little (statistical) training’
I believe scientists generally have little statistical training.
On Trust – from the article:
‘“The sea change in the battle with tobacco companies was when the message got across that the adverts were not trustworthy.” I quote this not because I believe it is the same as the climate debate, and not because sceptics are untrustworthy (though some may be)’
As some scientists may be untrustworthy?

December 6, 2013 6:56 pm

Here’s what I posted on the PLOS blog of Ms. Edwards’ article:
First, Ms. Edwards, my thanks for your well-written exposition regarding the meeting about climate communication. Unfortunately, the hammer missed the nail, because the problem is not one of poor communication. People don’t disbelieve the scientists because they are bad communicators.
People disbelieve the climate scientists because we found out from the Climategate emails that for years, we were systematically lied to and deceived by the top scientists. We learned that they were packing the peer-review panels, and that the rules of the IPCC were being routinely subverted. I’m happy on request to provide links to back up those facts, but since you are serious about the field you likely have them at your fingertips.
And as a result, this, the latest list of the many on the general topic of “Nine Ways To Appear Sincere About Shonky Science” goes nowhere. People are not foolish. You know the old saw about “Fool me once, your fault”? Well, climate scientists fooled us once. And as a result, we’re damn sure not going to suddenly become convinced because the people who lied to us have since learned how to better communicate their lies …
And until the climate science field deals with that, it will continue to emit that enduring pungent odor of something hidden that’s gone rotten. Abe Lincoln is known for his saying about “You can fool some of the people some of the time” and so on, but in that same speech he said something equally profound. He said:

If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem.

That is the problem with climate science. The problem has nothing to do with all of these highfaluting theories about innumerate journalists and finite pools of worry.
The problem is that climate science has used up its finite pool of trust.
Now, even that could be remedied. I’m not as pessimistic as Lincoln, or perhaps the Amercan public has become more foolish. Heck, look at all the Bible belt TV preachers that get caught with an arm full of mistress and a nose full of Columbian marching powder … they just go off to some touchy-feely retreat and are preaching again inside of six months.
But the preachers understand the drill. To get forgiveness in America, you’ve got to a) ask for forgiveness, and b) at least fake penitence … and years of preaching have primed them for both of those.
But instead, the transgressors in the climate field have never admitted that they did even the slightest wrong thing. They have been feted by their peers, like Peter Gleick, and they have boasted of their lies.
So while I wish the APCCG the best of luck wanking around with theories about how newspaper editors are just too darn shallow, drat their inconsiderate hides, the Climate Change Group is fishing in the wrong pond. It’s not a communications issue of any kind. The only point they got right is point 9, that trust is important … but even there they missed the real trust issue entirely. The issue is this:
My best to you, and my thanks to you for both your science and your willingness to take a public stance on the issues.

December 6, 2013 8:08 pm

I particularly like number 8. There are different kinds of sceptics. The whole discussion of GW/CC had come down to a black and white, Yes or No. The 97% meme exemplifies this. 97% of scientists(?) agree with GW/CC. However, it is being used to support just about anything, even though “most scientist” may disagree with CAGW. I despise the term “denialist” as that plays into the boolean, agree totally/disagree totally mind set. Of course, it can equally be applied to “warmist” even though I myself have used the term.

Brian H
December 6, 2013 8:33 pm

Your comment is not there. Will it ever escape moderation?
Here was mine, also in moderation limbo at the moment:

“”But it seems to me foolish to bet that they are certainly wrong.” The extent and consequences of purported warming are very poorly characterized and justified. Historical evidence is entirely against any projected downside.
So there is actually no penalty for making such a bet. And a huge financial and standard of living benefit for the portion of the world’s population that needs it most.”

December 6, 2013 9:02 pm

those lessons should be pinned on the wall of every science classroom in the West!

Mark Bofill
December 6, 2013 9:02 pm

Yes, your post makes me want to mention that encountering climate science was the event that caused me to lose the automatic faith I had as a younger person that scientists were essentially infallible and that what they said was simply flat out so. Not that being a gullible sheep is a good thing obviously, but it had never occurred to me to question the findings of scientists before. I’d like to believe this was at least partly because of the rigor and integrity shown by scientists in fields I’m more familiar with.
Anyway, I agree that trust is the central issue, not communication.

December 6, 2013 9:27 pm

no uncertainty in these pieces:
5 Dec: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: ED PERRY/ED ZYGMUNT: Global warming vs. wildlife in Pennsylvania
Climate change is affecting fields and streams in the Keystone State
(Ed Perry, a retired aquatic biologist and advocate for the National Wildlife Federation’s global warming campaign, lives in Boalsburg, Centre County. Ed Zygmunt, a life member and former board member of the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, lives in Laceyville, Wyoming County.)
Here in Pennsylvania, those excise taxes have helped the Game Commission purchase and manage more than 1.4 million acres of game lands that are open to the public — at no charge — for hunting and passive recreation.
But a new report from the National Wildlife Federation, “Nowhere to Run: Big Game Wildlife in a Warming World,” documents how climate change is altering the landscape for wildlife, jeopardizing that success…
6 Dec: San Francisco Chronicle: John Diaz: Pace of global warming adds to urgency to change
There is no hope of doing something truly transformational to meet the No. 1 challenge of our times in a Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where deference to consumer fear, dubious science and the clout of Big Oil continues to rule the day…
The contrast between Washington’s foot dragging and California’s leadership on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions was cast in high relief during a Tuesday panel discussion on “Climate Change and California’s Future” put together by the Public Policy Institute of California.
Participants included Steven Chu, former energy secretary; Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the state Air Resources Board; and George Shultz, whose deep resume of top-level jobs includes a stint as secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan…
The seasoned and savvy Shultz had an interesting answer. He compared the doubters of climate change – a stance that is “harder and harder to defend,” he said – to industries and politicians who balked at efforts to curb the production and use of chemicals that were depleting the ozone layer.
Shultz said those who question the science on whether human activity is a major source of global warming would at least have to admit that “it’s a big problem” if it does happen.
“So let’s take out an insurance policy,” he said, echoing the reasoning that secured passage of federal legislation signed by President George H. W. Bush that has helped cut sulfur-dioxide emissions by half…

December 6, 2013 9:38 pm

Yep, Willis,
Here is what I have just posted in case mine gets consigned to oblivion:
“What a load of baloney you report here.
The bottom line is that much of climate science is done poorly, below the standards found in harder science branches. I can give example after example. The unwashed public have picked up that the goods for sale are faulty – that’s a measure of how bad it is.
The above gossip about conveying the message is not part of hard, productive science. Conveying the message is not needed, it is not seen. Journalism is a non-invited voluntary extra that gets it wrong, 97%of the time???
I cannot conceive of an inspection as above by a group of non-involved experts, of the science we did to find a number of new ore deposits in my career. The only messages we had to communicate were “We did the job well as can be seen by the results. We delivered the goods.” (BTW, our science was harder & more exacting.)”

Jim Clarke
December 6, 2013 9:39 pm

I agree with Willis, [except] that many began disbelieving the climate scientists long before climategate. Climategate was more of a confirmation than a revelation. It was like a confession to crimes that we all knew were being committed.
I strongly disagree with Ms. Edwards when she postulates…”In my experience, this [lack of training in dealing with the ‘street fight’ of climate debate’] is one of the two main reasons why most of my colleagues do not do public engagement.” Do skeptics have training in these type of debates? Of course not. So it is not a lack of training in debating that causes AGW supporters to shy away from debate. It is the deep and unspeakable knowledge that they will lose. They know they will be cornered into admitting that their entire field of research is based on assumptions that are not, and never have been, supported by the available evidence. That is why they do not debate.
As for the concept of communicating ‘risk’ over communicating ‘certainty’…the AGW community has been doing both for a long time to no avail. The reason why neither approach is working is because they are exaggerating both the risk and the certainty of man-made climate change. People look around and see that It is not warming and ‘things’ are not getting worse. People know the warmists are exaggerating and they are tuning them out.
As Ms. Edwards points out at the end…”Trust is important”…and they have shown themselves to be untrustworthy on every level. If climate scientists want to regain trust they will have to stop hiding behind arguments of consensus and authority, and start addressing what is actually happening (or not happening) in the atmosphere.

donald penman
December 6, 2013 9:40 pm

Tamsin Edwards.We (agw climate scientists) are uncertain about many things but there is one thing we are certain about , we are right on the issue of climate change and you (skeptics) are wrong.This attitude is what makes it difficult for any progress to be made on this subject, a scientist should always think that he could be wrong but it is clear that many scientists today do no think that is possible.

December 6, 2013 9:47 pm

@Willis: excellent points, well expressed. Thank you.
It is worth emphasizing that we at WUWT can be grateful for Dr. Edwards: she gives an articulate defense of those of us who question the idea that atmospheric CO2 spells destruction and doom for all humankind.

December 6, 2013 10:01 pm

donald penman says:
December 6, 2013 at 9:40 pm

We (agw climate scientists) are uncertain about many things but there is one thing we are certain about , we are right on the issue of climate change and you (skeptics) are wrong

I’m sorry, I was distracted looking at 17 years of steady temperatures while the CO2 levels steadily rose…. Was looking at 25 years of declining temperatures between 1945 and 1970 while CO2 steadily rose. Saw 25 years of increasing temperatures while CO2 was steady just before that…
1) Now, just what is your “evidence” of man-released CO2 affecting global temperatures?
2) What is the specific credible HARM that increasing CO2 is supposed to cause? (We are, after all, supposedly purchasing an “insurance policy” by causing 200 years of guaranteed HARM to the world and its people by deliberately restricting energy use and deliberately increasing energy prices. You and your policies are credited with killing 25,000 innocents in the UK last winter. You and your policies are specifically the root cause of 7 years of high energy prices and restricted energy development worldwide that have caused a running recession you are proud to claim as your own legacy.)
Thus, I need to know what the “cost” of this insurance policy of causing guaranteed harm for 200 years to billions of innocents is going to avoid? there is NO harm from an increase of global temperatures of 1, 2, or even 3 degrees.
Now, what exactly is the probability of man-released CO2 causing a temperature increase of 4 degrees C? So far, as CO2 has increased, temperatures have a history of going down. Or holding steady. Yet, when CO2 was steady, temperatures had that nasty habit of going up, holding steady, and going down.
CO2 increased, the number of tornadoes is down.
CO2 increased, the number of hurricanes is down.
CO2 increased, there are no extinction events, and all plants worldwide are growing faster, stronger, more resilient, taller, wider, and heavier. Result? More fuel, more food, more fodder, more farms, more fields, more feed. More fish, fowl, flocks, phytoplankton and furry critters.
CO2 has increased, and malaria has decreased.
You may argue that the Arctic has less ice, but why is that a problem or a threat? At 82 degrees latitude at the time of minimum sea ice extents up north, there is no solar heat gain and the exposed water loses more heat by evaporation, convection, and radiation and conduction than it gains from the sun. But down south?
The increased CO2 has apparently caused three years of record-setting Antarctic sea ice extents, and THOSE millions of square kilometers of sea ARE reflecting more solar energy into space at substantial and ever-increasing rates. Which will cool the planet even more.
So, to return to the intent of Donald Penman’s thoughts: What exactly is your (the so-called climate “scientists”) actual evidence that increasing CO2 as each man and each woman tries to improve her condition for their children, save lives and help people grow will cause any harm to the planet or its inhabitants?
All I see are government-paid “scientists” claiming 100 billions of government-funded tax money each year to fund more government-sponsored laboratories and government-sponsored universities spending government-paid research to generate government-supporting 1.3 trillion annual tax hikes and furthering socialist policies worldwide that benefit the government-paid bureaucrats paying for the government-supporting “research” with additional money ONLY needed BECAUSE the government-funded research is spent finding additional ways to research government-paid jobs at government labs and computer centers that generate that government paperwork ….
I don’t doubt you (government-paid “scientists” spending government-funded money to generate results your government bureaucrats have you enslaved to for your future grants and future promotions) “believe” in your religion. I just see no evidence behind your religious belief in CAGW.

December 6, 2013 10:11 pm

10. UK Members of Parliament who worry about climate change are to this day too feeble minded to invite any climate skeptic of whatever variety.
Remember guys, Painter wrote an entire essay on climate skeptics without quoting any of them. Rapley organised a Science Museum Agw exhibition that was so naive and content free, it had to be changed at the last minute to avoid becoming a vehicle for spreading skepticism.
I’ll avoid comments on Harvey.

JP Miller
December 6, 2013 10:51 pm

Excellent writing, as always. But, I don’t see your comment on Tamsin’s website — or maybe I’m missing it, or maybe she has not moderated it yet? Or maybe it will never appear (which goes back to the very issue she’s trying to elucidate….).
I’d add an important point about trust. Beyond the Climategate evidence of misrepresentation and inappropriate politicking, there really is a lot of evidence that CO2 may not have much impact on climate, yet leading climate scientists deride rather than engage that conflicting data. It’s one thing, within the confines of academia, to argue with/ scorn colleagues you think wrong. It’s another thing to do so in the public square.
Lying aside, I don’t trust scientists (or any fact-bearers) who seem to have an axe to grind. And, leading climate scientists clearly have an axe to grind….

Latimer Alder
December 6, 2013 10:57 pm

A longer version of some points I made to Tamsin and PLOS by Twitter.
1. ‘Communication’ is a 2 way process. That means listening as well as declaiming. The academic world is great at telling , but awful at listening.
It pretends to assume that anyone who cannot spend two full-time years writing a peer-reviewed paper can have nothing at all of interest to say and can/must be ignored. It also assumes that – for all practical purposes – a published paper is unchallengeable truth.
And the strapline of a once famous blog ‘Climate science for climate scientists’ epitomises the ‘Listen up, shut up and obey, ye great unwashed, while we tell you the way it is. No awkward questions tolerated’
These ideas are great protectors of academics enormous sense of self- importance, but are far disconnected from the way the rest of the world works.
‘Ordinary’ people do not think about climate change by sitting in a library and reading the IPCC reports, or dipping into the latest copy of Nature. They don’t have time or inclination to do so – their understanding and decisions are based on far more fragmentary things…a chat at the bus stop here, the weather for a picnic there…a guy on the telly (esp if they make a huge fool of themselves), the headline in the paper , the electricity bill….a whole host of ideas and impressions. Academics may decry the lack of rigour in what ‘we’ do, but it is a grave presentational error to condemn it as wrong or inadequate. Even thinking such a thing will affect the way you communicate.
2. Willis’s excellent – and typically pungently phrased – essay above discussed ‘trust’. This is hugely relevant.
Good salesman – of anything from used cars to political ideas and everything inbetween – recognise that they have to ‘earn the right’ to be listened to. They do this in many ways, but for scientific ideas, I’d suggest that the right is earned by being knowledgeable and clear and demonstrably correct. In the public’s eye acting as they expect a scientist to do also helps – calm, mature, well-judged, grounded and objective.
But too many ‘science communicators’ take it for granted that because they wrote a paper or serve on the IPCC or won a prize, then it somehow becomes our duty to listen to them and arrive at the same conclusions they do. Big mistake. Until they’ve earned the right then they are no more than just another nobody with a scare story to push – and no doubt a begging bowl to fill.
3. This is especially the case for future predictions. The public are quite happy with the concept of risk..we can go to the bookies, play cards, take out insurance without any difficulties. But when it comes to believing future predictions, we need to see a track record of success. The newspaper racing tipster who never tips a winner very rapidly becomes just another broke unemployed punter.
So turning up on TV with a model showing that the world will end in 50 or 100 years – or next Tuesday fortnight is pretty counter productive unless you can show that the model has already got a decent track record of successful predictions. But since it seems to be written into the Oath of The Climate Modeller that no model shall ever be tested against reality on pain of excommunication, then this strategy is never going to work. We’ve had 30 years of the same. The world has not ended. We just don’t believe you.
4. Willis also emphasises that the last few years have heralded a steep loss in climos credibility. The way back is to spend the next five to ten years rigorously and vigorously cleaning your own house….
Get rid of those who sacrificed their integrity for ‘fame and fortune’. Make sure that their malign influence has gone.
Go through and challenge all the bad papers out there.
Reform your QA system from the woefully inadequate and slipshod ‘peer/pal review’ to something with teeth and rigour.
Produce your models so that they can be tested and chuck the ones that fail – let evolution take its course.
Be open – don’t wait for FoI requests or journal prompting to provide data and methods, Do it as a matter of course…get them ready from the very first day you begin work on your paper
Listen to people…even those outside of academe. If you don’t know what our objections/questions will be you’ll never get to answer them satisfactorily. Stop talking just to each other. Manchester United don’t win the Premiership by playing practice matches behind closed doors…
Remember that it is academe that is odd. your conventions and shibbolethhs and all the trivia you get so excited about are just odd to the rest of us, We don’t care about them, so don’t beat us with them or bring them into the public debate.
If you can do all these things, then in a decade there may be a way back to credibility. But its a long hard road. It is good that Tamsin is taking a lead in trying to walk some way down it. But unless other young and vigorous climos follow her, I see very little future for academic climatology – and all its many hangers-on – both in credibility and in funding.

JP Miller
December 6, 2013 11:10 pm

Given a couple of comments claimed to be left at Tamsin Edwards’ blog seem not to have appeared, I decided to test the waters myself. For your edification, here’s what I wrote:
“Ms. Edwards, why should I believe a scientist who is an advocate for policy action? I never will. Period. You don’t seem to understand that because you are paid by taxpayers you have an un-remediable conflict of interest between being a scientist and being a policy advocate.
Just report your science and let others figure out what to do or not do about its implications.
Beyond that, the 95% confidence interval blather is utter nonsense. I’ve taught statistics and so I know something about what that means. Climate scientists act like they are properly using the classic definition of uncertainty in their policy pronouncements when their use of it is a total distortion and misrepresentation of its meaning.
So, in the light of the above, you think “communication” is the problem? You are badly deluded, as are all delusionals who cry out, “Why won’t anyone believe me?” It’s bloody obvious why.
I suggest you stop acting like you know what causes climate change and admit, like most good scientists, that it’s a very complex problem that we are decades away from understanding, even in most general ways… much less to 95% certainty.”
I hope she has the courage to publish it.

December 6, 2013 11:56 pm

I assume Tamsin will get around to allowing comments when she can. I also posted on her thread, and can wait till later in the week to see if it makes it. After all, this is Friday night, er Saturday morning.
My post as left there:
A number of times during my career, I attended presentations that were supposedly full of promise, new ideas, new beginnings, new methods, new understandings and so on. Often during the presentations I would also be caught up in fervor about what to do next.
Much of that fervor would quickly dissipate when attempts to use that knowledge during the harsh light of reality revealed the truths.
All too often, the ‘new’ knowledge and understanding are simply the same pig’s ears with new paint, glitter and what have you. All too often these pig’s ears are complex unwieldy interpretations and require far more ‘work’ than the plains ears ever did with just a pitiable results.
Reconsider the nine points:
1. People have a finite pool of worry
Revelation? Seriously? People have always risen to whatever challenge faces them. Worry is unhealthy, period. Deal with the challenge when it becomes a challenge; especially if undefined, shrouded in mystery and perhaps just as worrying as the bogeyman.
2. People interpret uncertainty as ignorance
Oh? And why do Las Vegas, Monte Carlo, sky divers, deep sea explorers, submariners, and … prosper? It isn’t from the idea uncertainty is ignorance.
Now tell people about failures to be accurate unless one throws in some nebulous uncertainty bars. Those people wouldn’t call that ignorance, not without some modifiers that insinuate their real thinking about ignorance.

3. People are uncomfortable with uncertainty
Again, no. People thrive on uncertainty. People fear change, especially change that forces them from their comfortable ruts;
e.g., Our company has been sold, what will happen to my job? Yeah, one can call that uncertainty; but it is a very shallow interpretation.
e.g. 2, Tornado warnings are posted. That’s normal this time of year. The tornado has just destroyed my house and car! What do I do? Or rephrased, what will change in my life to cope?

4. People do accept the existence of risk
Do tell… Doh!
5. Scientists have little training
This is a flat out whine. “It’s my lack of training.” Yeah, that goes over well.
The point behind this and several following ‘points’ are the inability of ‘scientists’ to take the time and break their communications down to a level suitable to their audience, not somebody else’s audience! Personally, I could only techno-speak to my peers; all others required careful use of common language with big words removed.
People are also tuned to the ‘weasel’ words of ambiguity. They may not pay attention to the words when spoken, but their subconscious notes the words and allays or mitigates anxiety based on them. Ambiguity is a sure way to tell someone, not them personally.

6. Journalists have little (statistical) training
??? Seriously? Any journalists you know that are interested?
Just another whine and whimper.
The example cited above is about 95%. Gold is sold as ‘pure, 22kt, 18kt, 14kt and 10kt’. Not as 95% certain that gold is there. Get real, when people are told 95% they automatically register that the speaker doesn’t know and they are hedging their responsibility. You wouldn’t buy anything on a 95% certainty level! If some one says they will, they’re betting on winning the uncertainty.

7. “Newspaper editors are extremely shallow, generally”
There’s another lesson to take to the bank… Well, maybe not the part about their editor. Everyone, everyone wants to do their job, not yours. Is that shallow? A rude sound belongs here.
David Niven in a move “Please, don’t eat the daisies” had a classic line; “I shall yell tripe loudly, whenever tripe is served!”
Those important people? Yep! Especially yep! Help them do their job or plans. Otherwise, get out of the way. Better have some caviar and champagne to go with those prawns; and how the message benefits them personally.

8. There are many types of climate sceptic
??? As many types as their are types of people? Infinite?
As soon as somebody tries to generalize ‘others’, tune them out! Treat people as humans! Especially treat them as individuals and worthy of respect!

9. Trust is important
Something must have been typographically omitted. I see nothing of ‘trust’ under the trust point.
I am especially repulsed by the “…there is evidence that what drives opinions is not science,… ” inference. This is following a belief about generalizations. Generalizations that have been floated because of the CAGW failure to sufficiently ‘scare’ people into blind obedience. This definitively not trust.
Not that trust couldn’t be a genuine point, just that what is claimed as trust is not.

As I started this; put lipstick on a pig and it still a pig.
Tamsin; you are one of the AGW associated scientists that people listen to, especially by us unconvinced types. Please stick to your guns on why you can communicate when so many others can not.
You are honest, forthright, detailed and specific! That builds trust, understanding and certainty. Certainty that your opinion is of value and should if not must be listened to.
Please do not be ‘educated’ by the Neanderthals on how to be human.

December 6, 2013 11:58 pm

So we have extreme cold extensive conditions in NH, and NH ice extent increasing (warmists used to link decreased NH ice with winter storms) and finally we’ve got Antarctica ice a record high levels? Do we need to say more?

December 7, 2013 12:43 am

RACookPE1978 says: December 6, 2013 at 10:01 pm
“I’m sorry, I was distracted looking at 17 years of steady temperatures while the CO2 levels steadily rose . . . . Was looking at 25 years of declining . . . .”
All excellently put RACookPE1978 . . . . especially your item (2) about ‘HARM’ and ‘insurance policies’. Thank you.
Ref: Tamsin Edwards theory about ‘Trust’. It is not ‘Trust’ that kickstarted our opinion that there is no such thing as anthropogenic climate change – it is more about intelligent logic, practical common sense and doubt. The lack of ‘trust’ occured later. It is illogical that such a minuscule proportion of man-made atmospheric trace gas (when compared to all naturally occuring CO2 and all the other atmospheric gas – even if concentrated in the lower troposphere) is so infinitely small that it cannot possibly dominate the earth’s temperature, it’s weather events or be held accountable for any sea level rise, melting ice, or anything else.
Re: Tamsin Edwards comment about “four types of sceptic: trend, attribution, impacts, and policy.”
She lists: A ‘trend’ sceptic would not be convinced there is global warming.
An ‘attribution’ sceptic about how much is man-made.
An ‘impacts’ sceptic says we don’t know enough about when and how severe the impacts will be.
A ‘policy’ sceptic would take issue with how to tackle the problem.
How absolutly delighted I am to be all four Tamsin. In response, here’s my four types of CAGW believer . . . .
1. A ‘blind as a bat’ type believer refuses to check a shred of evidence to suggest that there is not much CO2 up there in the sky and that the sun might have something to do with ever-changing weather patterns.
2. A ‘vested interest’ type believer attempts to convince everybody that their only goal is to ‘help save the planet’ when the real reason is that they hope to make a shed load of money by investing in heavily subsidised worse than useless renewable energy. Our next door neighbour is one of these.
3. A ‘hypocritical melodramatic activist’ believer is one that either dramatises every weather event and apportions blame on fellow humans – or wears unorthodox attire, hugs trees, eats bread and drinks beer (each made with CO2 producing yeast). Or both.
4. A ‘gullible’ believer includes all remaining alarmists and politicians. They are usually someone who believes too much in what they read in the Gaurdian, enjoy watching unbiased climate reporting on the BBC, allow themselves to be hoodwinked by type 1, 2 & 3 believers, worship the IPCC and have a very dim and blinkered view based on dendro Chinese fortune cookie science.

December 7, 2013 12:49 am

JP Miller says:
December 6, 2013 at 10:51 pm

Excellent writing, as always. But, I don’t see your comment on Tamsin’s website — or maybe I’m missing it, or maybe she has not moderated it yet? Or maybe it will never appear (which goes back to the very issue she’s trying to elucidate….).

It’s early Saturday morning, so it might wait a while for moderation. I’m a patient man.

Stephen Richards
December 7, 2013 1:16 am

Why do reasonable, semi-intelligent people such as Tamsin make so many silly statements and assumptions about climastrology and skeptics. She has patently done very little research on either subject. The Bishop could give some educational details, SteveMc could give her some statistical feedback and Anthony could explain what and why skeptics really think.
I like Willis’ response.

See - owe to Rich
December 7, 2013 3:18 am

I just posted the following at Tamsin Edwards’s blog:
I find it interesting that the meeting apparently did not even take note of the biggest issue in climate change, which is the cessation of global warming since 1996/1998/2001 (take your pick dependent on data series).
So this talk of influencing people through cocktail parties seems like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic of climate alarm which is sinking from the holing by the iceberg of that data. Non-globally, but important to British constituents, it is less than one month now until we can note that the decline in CET max from 2002-2013 is statistically significant at the 3% level.
When Fiona of The Guardian publishes that then we shall know that they are telling it like it is, and >that< is what trust is all about.

December 7, 2013 4:05 am

Hopefully people realize that Tamsin is just broadly reporting the conference.. and what the speakers said
Lots to disagree with:
However, there is an excellent article in the Guardian, that I think should be essential reading for all the Speakers there and adresses many of the criticisms above
extract from:
Guardian: 12 things policy-makers and scientists should know about the public
1. There is no such thing as ‘the public’
There are many different publics which create, form around or can be shaped by different issues. For a thoughtful analysis see Which Publics? When?. That means that there are no simple recipes for engagement, but it is not rocket science either.
2. People are perfectly capable of understanding complex issues and technologies
Time and again policy-makers and scientists are surprised by what the ‘average person on the Clapham omnibus’ can grasp when necessary, from the complexities of energy options to the principles of synthetic biology. It requires good expert input and it requires time for reflection and discussion, but it is worth doing.
3. People want to be able to participate in decisions around policy involving science and technology
That doesn’t mean we all want to, or that anyone wants to all the time, but people like to know it is happening and many would like to participate directly. Once people are involved, they want to know they are really being listened to and they want to be informed about the outcomes of their involvement.
4. People are not ‘anti-science’ or ‘anti-technology’
On the whole people are hugely appreciative of, and excited by the opportunities presented by science and technology. That is balanced by concerns about such things as priorities, alternatives, control and ownership, safety, equity, regulation and governance. So, people may object strongly to specific technologies in some circumstances, and may on occasion seem to treat them as proxies for wider debates. GM being a classic example. If that’s the case, it is the wider debates that need addressing too.
5. People can be experts too
People often have knowledge that particular specialists may lack; it may be of local context, it may be a ‘practical’ knowledge that complements academic analysis and it may be highly specialised. People can provide expertise alongside the values and beliefs they bring to any discussion.
6. People may ask questions which do not occur to experts
It is very easy to become trapped by one’s expertise and to fail to see the wood for the trees. Indeed this very ability of non-specialists to ask the ‘obvious’ questions and to open up a different way of looking at things is one that recurs in reports of public dialogues.
7. People are not necessarily interested in science and technology per se
They often are, as the popularity of the likes of Brian Cox, Alice Roberts and many others attests, but when it gets to policy it is the issues that count.
8. People know that policy-makers and scientists are human
That means that they are rightly concerned about potential bias, conflict of interest and all the fallibilities that affect the rest of us, and will expect to see acknowledgement of all those and transparent ways of addressing them.
9. It is important for policy-makers and scientists to be clear about when they are telling and when they are listening
Both are important, and true communication is a two-way process. What particularly winds people up is lack of clarity about what is open for influence and what has already been decided.
10. Public deliberation can help reduce the risks that proposed policy will fail
Quite apart from saving possible embarrassment, finding out in advance that a particular policy may meet with unexpectedly strong opposition or may not have the effect intended may also save large chunks of money. In other words, if you think dialogue is expensive try conflict.
11. Re 10 above, public deliberation can also help give confidence to policy-makers
There will always be differences of view, especially where matters of ethics and beliefs are concerned, but in-depth deliberation which gets to the root of people’s values and beliefs may (or may not indeed, depending) give confidence that a potentially controversial policy is acceptable with appropriate safeguards and governance arrangements.
12. There are many different and valid ways of engaging people
People have a huge variety of means open to them to make their views heard, from the formal democratic process to direct action. Publics with strong views or special interests tend to be particularly visible, but there are useful means of engaging more diverse publics and ensuring that often unheard voices are able to be expressed and to contribute.
well worth a read. (I’ve also posted this at PLOS)

A C Osborn
December 7, 2013 4:44 am

I wrote this on her blog
One of the biggest problems with Climate Change Communication is some of us have good memories and have been around long enough to have seen it all before.
You were wrong before and you are wrong now.
Try reading some history instead of gazing at Computer Models, try looking out of the window and realize that what is out there does not match the current Adjusted Temperatures let alone the “Predictions” of the last 20 years.

December 7, 2013 5:07 am

Look at how that AGW promoter, Dana Nutticelli, treats information that does not support his cataclysm:
He call Pielke a liar for pointing out that the information shows tornadoes are flat. He calls him a liar because he claims *there is not enough data to determine that*. Even though the data is derived from historic records. Yet in the same breath he and his fellow promoters claim, with even less evidence, that there is a world wide climate crisis caused by CO2 underway right now. All AGW is, at the end of the day, is communication. They are communicating a revealed conclusion and have no interest in focusing on the science, the evidence, or the history. It is only about communicating- evangelizing and proselytizing. The AGW promoters did succeed in corrupting a fair number of decision makers in government and industry for awhile.But the reality, that nothing special is going on with weather, slr, oa, etc. is driving them to firstly focus on keeping the fellow believers in line. And secondly to blame those who see through the tautological and other failings of AGW claims.

December 7, 2013 6:54 am

My comment went straight through without being held for moderation:
Communicating risk and uncertainty in climate science isn’t such a big problem if it is approached with honesty and humility.
“We don’t know why our models are so far out of step with climate data, we might have made a mistake with theory, or parameterisations, or data inhomogeneity, or missing variables. So we can’t say much about risk, since currently the ‘projections’ we make contain so much uncertainty.”
The perceived problem arises because so much money has been poured in, and previously strong claims are hard to back down from without loss of face, and funding.
The climate science community should be mindful that the most important thing is the integrity of the scientific process. If that is subjugated to the need for ‘keeping up appearances’, trust won’t be regained.
A good example is the exoneration of the climategate crew by inquiries which were headed by team members like Oxburgh. Being whitewashed by pals is the kiss of death in terms of regaining trust.
Another is the Briffa hockey stick which relied on a single tree 5 sigma deviant tree ring sample (YAD06) to boost the modern end of the curve skywards. A post recently claimed it wouldn’t make any difference if it was removed from the series. My comment which showed it made over 1C difference was censored from the discussion.

Graham Green
December 7, 2013 6:56 am

Willis writes tons of good stuff here but the piece in this thread is something special.
He captures and blends the real facts of this matter with a direct yet emotional flavour – and it’s non-synthetic flavouring. Forget Coke (or Spencer for that matter) Eschenbach is the real thing.
Willis exposes the nut: you lied to us for your own ends and we’re not going to be fooled again.
They are now reduced to bitching that we are still too stupid to understand their post normal pathways integrating worry pools of socio-economic burnout.
She should have said; “we pissed down their backs once too often and they just don’t believe it’s raining now”.

December 7, 2013 7:12 am

Follow the Money says:
“Most of us are not well trained – perhaps hardly at all – in science communication.”
This is true, one of the purposes of my blog ( is to interpret what this blog and other skeptical blogs say and make it more understandable for the masses. The problem is, half the time I don’t know what you guys are talking about.

December 7, 2013 7:32 am

Willis Eschenbach says:
December 6, 2013 at 6:56 pm
And except for very few, the rest of climate science did not speak out.
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

December 7, 2013 7:44 am

Anyone that studies climate science should be aware that there are widespread areas of northern Canada and Russia with tree stumps further north of the current tree line. These trees must have grown since the last ice age 20,000 years ago. And it must have been warmer for quite a long period of time for the forests to get established so far north.
Yet this simple evidence is completely ignored by so called respectable scientists that tell us that current warming is “unprecedented”. How can warming be unprecedented if it was warmer in the past? Unprecedented means it never happened before.
adjective: unprecedented
1. never done or known before.

December 7, 2013 7:47 am

What Willis Eschenbach said. It’s ultimately about trust. None of us know enough; we have to trust others to some degree. And time is always short: we will invest in trusting th

December 7, 2013 7:51 am

Sorry, hit “send” by mistake. But I’ve made my main point, which was itself just to second Willis’ main point. We rely on others to a great degree to supply the raw material for our own analysis and decisions. When those others burn us –and we find they did so deliberately– we will never rely on them again. At all; or in the same way.

December 7, 2013 8:15 am

Fred and Willis @ 7:32. Perfect.

G. Karst
December 7, 2013 9:06 am

Like Willis and others here, I too, am fed up with the idea that CAGW’s propaganda failure is a failure to communicate. The fact that most people have swallowed the evil of CO2 and regard it as the most pressing problem, speaks loudly, at the success of the CAGW agenda. There has been NO failure to communicate.
What has happened, is that the terrible science, exaggerations and falsified data is catching up to the people, who thought fear could usher in a new socialist utopia. Using climate as a proxy for social change was the error and morally wrong.
Social change should be discussed on it’s own merit and not camouflaged by invented catastrophe. There are plenty of dangers in the universe. Some may even be extinction events. WE must face and adapt to them all. Reality IS a bitch. Weather (climate) control science is not a delivered technology yet… and those who think it is… are sadly deluded. GK

John Barrett
December 7, 2013 9:14 am

There’s a lot in her article with which I both agree and disagree. But the last point had me scratching my head and I think that it indicates where much of the CAGW argument is wrong-headed:
‘All this is true. But I’ll end with a slightly more optimistic quote, which I think was from Chris: “The sea change in the battle with tobacco companies was when the message got across that the adverts were not trustworthy.” ‘
Now for the older UK readers, I am not sure how much of “You’re never alone with a Strand.” is accurate, trustworthy even, or not. Smoking is ( and has been since the 17thCentury) seen as a vice, there are no healthy elements to smoking, it is the ephemera around smoking (e.g. looking sophisticated ) which tobacco companies try to promote and their adverts are designed to get consumers to change brands rather than actually start smoking.
Smoking is in decline because of the constant barrage of propaganda, pricing smokers out of the market and restricting the places where they may smoke. I think very little has to do with the accuracy or otherwise of the tobacco companies’ advertising.
So in other words we have another example of misrepresentation being used to bolster a premise. The result being that the alarmist view of CAGW’s proponents do not see the logical fallacies in their arguments, because they are used to creating false arguments to which their opponents do not subscribe.

John West
December 7, 2013 9:16 am

Just to pile on a bit:
Lies of omission are still lies! Intentionally leaving out context is lying! For example, if I’m talking to someone I know is unfamiliar with chemical nomenclature and say something about how dangerous Dihydrogen Monoxide is and don’t provide context but instead proceed to prescribe policy directions I would be being reprehensibly dishonest. Many of us noted this behavior way before climategate among climate scientists.
If climate scientists want to be trusted then they must start communicating the truth, the WHOLE truth, and nothing but the truth. Otherwise, they’re just another salesman.
To put another way: If I’m asked to judge the balance of evidence I have to be able to see the scale not just one side’s pan.

December 7, 2013 9:27 am

Thanks to Tamsin Edwards’ essay for teeing up this discussion. I think she over complicates the issue of failure of climate science communication.
There is only one (1) fundamental principle violated by the failed communication of climate science (including, of course, failed communication of its uncertainties). There is one fundamental lesson to be learned from it. All other lessons derive from it as corollaries or consequences.
The fundamental principle => science is merely applied reasoning.
The one (1) fundamental lesson on the widespread failure of communication of climate science is that, since science is merely applied reasoning, the science presented publically must be correctly reasoned in an unambiguous manner. The documented failure of climate science is incorrect reasoning and/or incoherent reasoning. The fault lies solely with the scientists who reasoned incorrectly and/or incoherently.
One may ask why? Why did they reason incorrectly and/or incoherently? I think our culture has broadly assessed the reason the climate scientists reasoned incorrectly and/or incoherently is the scientists did it to support an irrational ideology instead of supporting rational understanding of climate reality.

December 7, 2013 9:33 am

When the models that are used to convince us that we should increase our worry about global warming diverge from the data at an accelerating rate then, I am willing to bet that with a high degree of certainly the data is right and models are wrong.

See - owe to Rich
December 7, 2013 9:49 am

So the “successfully moderated” score at the current time is Tallbloke + Barry Woods: 2, Willis + A C Osborn + me: 0
My submission wasn’t rude, but it did alas combine sarcasm with presentation of actual data. The latter could be especially problematic.

December 7, 2013 11:20 am

The IPCC often tells us about “uncertainties” so I was wondering does anyone have a list of the things that they are certain about?
site: “uncertainties” = 2,640 Google search results.
site: “poorly understood” = 184 Google search results.

December 7, 2013 11:45 am

“Personally, I believe there are as many types of sceptic as there are sceptics, but that would be a longer list to write down). Fiona pointed out that one person can be all these types of sceptic, moving from one argument to another as a discussion progresses. Some thought this would be incoherent (i.e. kettle logic, contradictory arguments) but others thought it could be coherent to be sceptical for more than one of those reasons.”
I find it hard to trust people who have no sense of irony.

December 7, 2013 12:10 pm

Fiona Harvey they might have just stuck a photocopying machine up there , push in some green PR , facts unimportant , press the start button and away it goes . The results would be the same as neither of them any think of questioning anything they are feed.

Latimer Alder
December 7, 2013 12:12 pm

In case anyone’s interested my remarks posted avbove appear to have been too radical or too controversial for the tender clioms who read Tamsin Edwards’ blog an dthey did not surive moderation there.
There really si no hope for a bunch of ‘communicators’ whose first instinct is to delete any opposing – or ven slightly contrary views.
Outside academia we call propagnada instead.

December 7, 2013 12:14 pm

There’s also the problem of the blatant use of emotive language in supposedly scientific papers.

December 7, 2013 12:57 pm

One idea for them if they want to regain trust , is to meet the academic standards that would expected of a undergraduate handing in an essay, although actual quite a low standard its one the well qualified professionals within climate ‘science’ seem totally unable to obtain.
Trust me I am scientists, may be the new motto some want for the RS , but the public ,through long and bitter experience, have learnt how often they turned out to be self serving liars out to push a personal ideology to often their own finical benefit.

December 7, 2013 1:07 pm

John Barrett, beautifully put. You should post that over there.

December 7, 2013 2:35 pm

It’s the weekend.. Tamsin is probably Xmas shopping, having a life ,meeting friends, etc..
wait to Monday, before you through any accusations around.
I’ve commented there before, both my comments appeared instantly, which suggest automatic pre-moderation, previous commenters going straight on. (if you put any links on, 1 or more links (depending how set up, might be automatically flagged as potential spam.

Richard M
December 7, 2013 4:54 pm

Let’s get to the heart of the issue. Climate science is in its infancy. These folks are no more knowledgeable of the basic fundamentals than doctors were 100 years ago when they prescribed blood letting. They have engaged in groupthink and hubris to such a great extent they started to believe their own BS.
It’s not a communication problem, these so-called scientists are simply pretenders and lecturing others when they, themselves, are totally ignorant serves no purpose. They need to go back into their labs and stay there for a couple of decades while collecting enough data to start the real process of developing a science.
They can’t communicate that which they do not know.

December 7, 2013 7:19 pm

I made the following comment there on 6th Dec. It also has not come out of moderation… and it looks like it won’t:
Tamsin says: “And in the discussion someone quoted a journalist as saying “The IPCC report says it has 95% confidence – what do the other 5% of the scientists think?” In other words, confusing the idea of a consensus and a confidence interval. There was a laugh at this in the room.”
Surely it is wrong to imply that the 95% confidence quoted in this particular case has anything to do with statistical analysis.

December 8, 2013 3:14 am

I’ve posted a comment on Tamsin’s blog (currently in moderation), and also on my own blog:
In short, my comment points out that I think that Tamsin’s article does not report the AR5 attribution statement correctly – AR5 makes no stronger statement on the role of greenhouse gases than AR4 did. It is not just journalists that should be careful in how they report the science!

December 8, 2013 4:44 am

My comment was posted immediately without going into moderation, but I have posted there before.
Tamsin reports on twitter that she has been away from moderation for a bit, so we might start seeing more comments appear soon.

Latimer Alder
December 8, 2013 10:02 am

I’m pleased to report that – despite earlier indications to the contrary by disappearing from the visible moderation queue – my comments at Tamsin Edwards’ blog have been now published as written.
I withdraw my curses. Perhaps it was just one of those occasional glitches that afflicts even the best ordered software. It is good to know that a normal service has been resumed.

December 8, 2013 10:33 am

“People disbelieve the climate scientists because we found out from the Climategate emails that for years, we were systematically lied to and deceived by the top scientists. ”
that’s probably not true.
1. as Steve McIntyre has argued we learned nothing NEW from the mails. We suspected
deception, some of us were more confident, others less so. But those of us who distrusted
CRU before didnt increase our distrust. In short, you disbelived them before, the mails
confirmed your belief ( an mine). We did not disbelieve them BECAUSE of the mails
we already disbelieved them.
2. Every polling number I’ve see shows little to no change in public trust since climategate
Most people dont even know what it was.
climategate changed the conversation. that’s about it

December 8, 2013 12:07 pm

Quick note on moderation at my blog.
1. It’s all done by me.
2. I’m not always timely. This weekend I (a) had plans on Friday evening (b) unexpectedly had to go offline on Saturday.
3. Barry is correct, previous approved commenters go straight through.
4. There might also be a “Wait to approve” on comments with link(s), but I can’t find the WordPress setting to see right now.

Theo Goodwin
December 8, 2013 7:23 pm

Jim Clarke says:
December 6, 2013 at 9:39 pm
‘I strongly disagree with Ms. Edwards when she postulates…”In my experience, this [lack of training in dealing with the ‘street fight’ of climate debate’] is one of the two main reasons why most of my colleagues do not do public engagement.” ‘
Yeah, mugged by scientific method again. It really hurts when an ordinary “unwashed” brings up the scientific method and you become tongue-tied.
You know how you can regain my trust? Explain the relationship between a model and its data. Hopefully it is a logical relationship. We know the relationship between scientific theory and data. Theory implies data. Do models imply data? Then how do models substitute for theory?

December 9, 2013 12:32 am

Steven Mosher says:
December 8, 2013 at 10:33 am


“People disbelieve the climate scientists because we found out from the Climategate emails that for years, we were systematically lied to and deceived by the top scientists. ”

that’s probably not true.
1. as Steve McIntyre has argued we learned nothing NEW from the mails. We suspected deception, some of us were more confident, others less so. But those of us who distrusted CRU before didnt increase our distrust. In short, you disbelived them before, the mails confirmed your belief ( an mine). We did not disbelieve them BECAUSE of the mails we already disbelieved them.
2. Every polling number I’ve see shows little to no change in public trust since climategate.Most people dont even know what it was.
climategate changed the conversation. that’s about it

I disagree completely We learned a lot of new things from the emails. Yes, we suspected some things before … but suspecting something and being able to prove it are very, very different. Inter alia, Climategate showed us the nasty infighting. It revealed “Mike’s Nature trick”. It gave us in their own words their attempts to pack the peer review panels and get rid of editors. It showed us Mann and the others hiding their guilt by deleting emails that were the subject of the FOIA requests, which is an actual crime.
Your claim that there was nothing new revealed by the emails strikes me as just another in the endless attempts to claim “nothing to see here, folks, move along”. I don’t mind it when Michael Mann and Phil Jones espouse the “Climategate showed nothing” line of BS, no surprise there … but it surprises me when you repeat that palpable nonsense.
Regarding the polls, the Gallup poll here shows significant erosion after 2009 on the question of whether people worry about climate change … and the Rasmussen poll, taken after Climategate, showed that 62% of the public believed that climate scientists sometimes faked their results.
I also find this from Gallup here:

Gallup surveys in 111 countries in 2010 find Americans and Europeans feeling substantially less threatened by climate change than they did a few years ago, while more Latin Americans and sub-Saharan Africans see themselves at risk.

Note that Gallup says Americans and Europeans felt “substantially less threatened” after Climategate than before ….
Finally, in 2010 Gallup commented directly on the question, saying (emphasis mine):

Since last fall, there have been widespread news accounts of allegations of errors in scientific reports on global warming and alleged attempts by some scientists to doctor the global warming record.
These news reports may well have caused some Americans to re-evaluate the scientific consensus on global warming. Roughly half of Americans now say that “most scientists believe that global warming is occurring,” down from 65% in recent years. The dominant opposing thesis, held by 36% of Americans, is that scientists are unsure about global warming. An additional 10% say most scientists believe global warming is not occurring.

So I’d say the polls show that the public is not as out-of-touch as you claim, and that Climategate definitely had an effect.

December 9, 2013 12:48 am

Tamsin Edwards says:
December 8, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Quick note on moderation at my blog.
1. It’s all done by me.
2. I’m not always timely. This weekend I (a) had plans on Friday evening (b) unexpectedly had to go offline on Saturday.
3. Barry is correct, previous approved commenters go straight through.
4. There might also be a “Wait to approve” on comments with link(s), but I can’t find the WordPress setting to see right now.

I suspected as much, which is why I didn’t carp about the long wait for moderation.
Also, my thanks again for your willingness to respond to what people have written, to defend your work and your ideas, and to come here and explain the reality of moderating a blog. Would that more of your colleagues were as forthcoming.
All the best,

December 10, 2013 4:27 am

I appreciate that, thank you. Haven’t managed to respond to everyone yet, but hopefully I can add more later today or this week.

December 10, 2013 10:08 am

I second Willis’s comment and appreciation!
I’ll also add a note that Dr. Tamsin Edwards is actually reading comments, thinking and replying with thought provoking questions, comments and notes. This thread at her blog is definitely interactive in format much like several of the most informative climate blogs; (e.g., WUWT, ClimateAudit, JoNova, BishopHill, for starters)

Brian H
December 11, 2013 8:52 pm

Latimer Alder says:
December 7, 2013 at 12:12 pm
In case anyone’s interested my remarks posted avbove appear to have been too radical or too controversial for the tender clioms who read Tamsin Edwards’ blog an dthey did not surive moderation there.
There really si no hope for a bunch of ‘communicators’ whose first instinct is to delete any opposing – or ven slightly contrary views.
Outside academia we call propagnada instead.

I probably agree with your views, but I’d be hard pressed to print error-littered text like yours. Yor prufe-reedin stoinks.

Brian H
December 11, 2013 9:08 pm

For those keeping count, my comment above did eventually appear.

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