Open thread – with an important question

open_thread

I have some important work to do today, and so I’m going to put my interaction with WUWT on hold for a bit. However, I see here an opportunity to ask a question I have been pondering for quite some time. Please help me out by answering the question and discussing it. Of course other things within site policy are fair game too.

As of late, we have seen climate skepticism portrayed in many derogatory ways. The juvenile sliming by Stephan Lewandowsky, Mike Marriott, and John Cook is a good example: they tried to use science as a bully pulpit to paint climate skeptics as crazy people, much like what happened with politcal dissent in Soviet Russia. In the Soviet Union, a systematic political abuse of psychiatry took place and was based on the interpretation of political dissent as a psychiatric problem.

Except, Lew and company were caught out, and called out by Frontiers.

Why did this happen? Well, I think part of it has to do with the loose-knit nature of climate skepticism. While the climate debate is often along political lines, climate skepticism is something that crosses those lines. I find that skepticism can be just as strong with some people on the left side of the political spectrum once they allow themselves to be open to the facts, rather than just accepting agitprop fed to them.

There’s no official position or representative body for climate skepticism. While players like Dr. Mann and the criminal actor Peter Glieck would like to argue that the Heartland Institute, “Big Oil, Big Coal”, and the #Kochmachine are the unifying forces behind climate skepticsm, nothing could be further from the truth. Mostly, climate skepticism is about a personal journey, not one that came from an organization.

I’m a good example. I used to be fully engaged with the idea that we had to do something about CO2, and Dr. James Hansen in 1988 was the impetus for that. I remember vividly watching his testimony on the sat feed at the TV station and thinking to myself that this really is serious. It wasn’t until later that I realized his science was so weak he and his sponsor had to resort to stagecraft by turning off the air conditioner and opening windows to make people sweat. It was the original sin of noble cause corruption. Now with my own work on the surfacestations project and what I’ve learned about climate sensitivity via the WUWT experience, and witnessing the IPPC and its foibles and how Climategate showed dissension behind the scenes, I no longer see climate change as the threat I once did back in 1988.

But, that’s my journey, others may differ.

People like Lewandowsky were able to make their claims stick because with climate skepticsm, it is all about that personal journey, there’s no organization, no policy statement, no cohesiveness of opinion that anyone can point to and say “this is what climate skeptics endorse”. While there’s strength in that heterogeneity, there’s also a weakness in that it allows people like Lewandowsky to brand climate skeptics as he sees fit.

So after some years of thinking about this, I’d like to ask this simple question:

Is it time for an “official” climate skeptics organization, one that produces a policy statement, issues press releases, and provides educational guidance?

In the UK, The Global Warming Policy Foundation provides much of that, and they have been successful in those areas, but it is UK centric.

So please answer the poll and let me know.

 

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These climate change people are insane and have made this lie into a religion. They as a whole, need to shut up and vanish. The public doesn’t want to hear the lies anymore. And Al Gore can pass out his millions of dollars he has made to the poor. Lies for money.

SanityP

I voted “yes”, but I don’t think that “climate skeptics” is the proper name for it.
I think “climate skeptic” is nonsensical and doesn’t actually say what we stand for or why we object to the alarmism that is CAGW.

MarkW

One big problem is that there is no “official” skeptic position. We range from those who believe that CO2 has no impact on temperature to those who believe CO2 is a big problem but that mitigation and adaptation are the only rational approach.
Another problem is who’s going to run this organization? Who has the time and resources to take this on as a full time job?
I feel that what Anthony and others are doing with their blogs will probably be the closest we ever come to an “official” organization.

Alec aka Daffy Duck

A climate change story that will likely spread like wildfire:
Climate change increasing massive wildfires in West
http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2014/04/19/western-wildfires-climate-change/7874841/
Large wildfire trends in the western United States, 1984-2011†
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014GL059576/abstract
Hmmm, I wonder ‘how’ they factored in the changes of amo and pdo?

JimS

Someone will have to approach the oil companies for funding though. Don’t ya think? (/sarc)

Ed, Mr. Jones

Maybe a virtual ‘Museum of Climate’ could become a reference point for The Masses, and when confronted with facts, they would banish / exile the alarmists

I think it is best that there is no Organization behind or embracing or promoting Climate Skepticism, just like there should not be an Organization behind any sub-field of Science itself. Scientists and skeptics must be allowed [and required] to follow their own path. That various scientific groups [e.g. AGU, AMS, and the Royal Society) issue Position Statements on any topic is in principle wrong. So I woted NO.

David, UK

I voted “yes” but I thought there already was one: the NIPCC?

D. Cohen

Definitely not, at least until the IRS, DOJ etc. become non-political again. Joining an official “enemies” organization just invites heavy-handed official retaliation. If there is no official “enemies” organization, then it’s less than obvious who to harass — because there is no easy way to “send a message” to climate critics by going after an official spokesman or organizational head.

Rob Dawg

Climate skeptics already have a large number of formal organizations where they belong; Universities, research institutes, government laboratories, etc.
REPLY: But they have no voice there – A

JM VanWinkle

Skepticism is about science, not policy. Activism is the blood brother of policy and its politics.

I’m not sure, but if there is one, Christopher Monckton should be its head.

chemman

Alec aka Daffy Duck says:
April 19, 2014 at 10:11 am
_____________________________________________________________________________
How about a simpler explanation: The Feds have mismanaged the forests they control. This sets up conditions that allow for larger and more intensive burns.

NeedleFactory

If there is a “skeptical organization,” then within the organization there will be political problems about what exactly the message is, and about the precise wording of “official” statements. Also, there is more strength in less organization — cf. the many military examples where “the people” can resist a monolithic army.
Furthermore, some of us are not “joiners.” If some of us wish to form an organization, go ahead, but others of us will remain independent.

Mark Bofill

I can think of some downsides right away. Organizations can be targeted and discredited. Disorganized movements are harder to deal with.
What’s the upside? Different people find different things persuasive or questionable, how could an official policy be had that doesn’t alienate some of them?
I haven’t thought this through, but off the top of my head I’m dubious.
I think Anthony recognized something powerful here:

climate skepticism is something that crosses those lines. I find that skepticism can be just as strong with some people on the left side of the political spectrum once they allow themselves to be open to the facts

Maybe there could be an official skeptics organization, but I’d be darn careful to keep it purely and simply on point.

Latitude

Well, I think part of it has to do with the loose-knit nature of climate skepticism….
That and the fact their science is so weak (you have a typo BTW) and loopy…the MSM…
lsvalgaard says:
April 19, 2014 at 10:15 am
I think it is best that there is no Organization behind or embracing or promoting Climate Skepticism
hogwash…what’s the difference?

basically that is saying the science institutions are failing or are failed in not doing their job of peer review?
create an organisation and people can sabotage it and then everyone spends their time on internal politics rather than the focus. Then you have to find money and staff etc
Enough people who matter probably read blogs like this. The mass media are under orders not to give any platform to anything or anyone who might boat rock so it won’t help there whatever you publish. The work is exposing the bad science and documenting it.

Paul

We don’t need a climate skeptics organization.
What is needed is a “Climate Reality” organization that pressures, NOAA, NASA, and CU and other organizations to provide honest, untampered data, or/and provides this data so that the climate discussion is reality based instead of debating various forms of fiction.
Another useful function would be crowd review Climate studies and grade them for measures such as methodology and,valid application of statistics.

Latitude says:
April 19, 2014 at 10:23 am
hogwash…what’s the difference?
Between what?

Latitude

lsvalgaard says:
April 19, 2014 at 10:15 am
I think it is best that there is no Organization behind or embracing or promoting Climate Skepticism, just like there should not be an Organization behind any sub-field of Science itself.
====
This is total hogwash…..it’s already done that way…..if I publish a paper that disagrees with yours

Latimer Alder

In the UK we have occasional informal pub nights of like-minded souls, usually arranged via the Bishop Hill website.
They’re great fun, but I suspect any suggestion of adding an organisation or structure would meet with some disdain. The characters and interests of the participants are far too diverse for such an idea to take root. It would be like herding cats. A lot of scratching and spitting, but no useful end result.
And for the avoidance of any doubt, such gatherings have all been entirely self-funded…both for attendance and for expenses/refreshments. If there really is a Big Oil sugar daddy he hasn’t put in an appearance in UK as yet.

TRG

It would help if it could be accredited by some recognized and respected scientific organization.

Philip T. Downman

[i]Is it time for an “official” climate skeptics organization, one that produces a policy statement, issues press releases, and provides educational guidance?[/i]
I would answer [b] No. [/b]
The CAGW belief is just that – a belief. It should not be met with another belief which climate scepticism has a potential to become or has already become so.
The unscientific attitude of a belief should t m o be countered with a scientific attitude, which is sceptic.
An official climate sceptic organization might be like fighting the Devil with Belsebub.

Johnny

No. Because such an organisation would very easily be infiltrated and corrupted and turned into something it was not meant to be.

My personal background is at the left side of the political centre, and I was a strong believer of the Club of Rome, until none of their dire predictions did materialize… For global “warming”, it was earlier, as I read a book about the influence of the sun on our climate, some 35 years ago. When the CO2 scare started, I was immediately sceptical but didn’t know of others, until the late John Daly started with his “Still waiting for Greenhouse” website. Later, Climate Audit and WUWT and many others followed… While I hope that some – political neutral – organisation will emerge, I think that it will be difficult to find a common ground with so many different opinions, which is the strength and the weekness of the sceptics…

Cyrus P Stell

Seems the only thing we “skeptics” agree on is the alarmists holding our economy hostage must be stopped. But I find myself more and more opposed to Big Anything directing research by picking and choosing what they fund. This is conflict of interest, the researcher can only find answers supporting the funder’s intended policy. And thus, if we are trying to organize into a unified front to direct… well, you get the idea.

gnomish

no- because the right answer is not more collectivism and completely unproductive labor (and at whose expense?) to treat symptoms- holy dialectic, batman. fighting is so NOT the same as winning.
instead, stop feeding the beast, eh? that’s 100% guaranteed.
unfortunately, it’s completely foreign to the nature of the eloi to disobey.

Gerry Parker

Well understand that the other side uses many channels to push their agenda. Certainly this could be one approach by a dissenting opinion, but if the management and editorial control were not secure, you could easily see it subverted.
That’s not to say it has to be overtly biased, because a strictly neutral position would be all that is required. So control would be about maintaining the neutrality, i.e. show us your science, not what “might be” etc.
What I see as a requirement is that it be neutral- so no juvenile postings or rants.
Like you, I came to this position through looking for the data, not someone’s idea or interpretation, so that is the way I would approach this.
How would it be different than WUWT? Would need to not be so partisan, but strictly hard science oriented.
My opinion,
Gerry

Latimer Alder

Addendum
Just to add that most (but not all) of the UK sceptical folk are science-trained, but do not work as professional academics. And few have very much time for the baubles of office or honours. Such individualists do not, in general, take easily to formal structures and institutions. Which perhaps explains why the standard alarmist ‘appeal to authority’ falls on deaf ears.

jdgalt

What I think we need, more than an “official” skeptics organization, is some kind of ongoing, print magazine of eco-skepticism, one not merely about “climate change” but which continually calls out every “green” person and group for every outrageous statement they make, not just predictions of harm but also policy goals such as those exposed on green-agenda.com.
Ronald Bailey’s column in Reason somewhat fills this need now, but if we could get regular columns by people like that Greenpeace founder who quit, or Lomborg, or Steyn, or Lord Monckton, or all of them it might draw some positive attention, especially when our side continues to make predictions that come to pass and their side doesn’t.
Perhaps it could be titled “WUWT – The Magazine”, and the organization could be given a title like “Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of Environmental Emergency.”

Ljh

The problem with a sceptical body is that it herds everyone into the same corrale, too much like the warmists whip their following into following a party line. Scepticism by its nature is an individual questioning of the propaganda. I think your blog is a particularly good place to gather as you publish diverse pieces for discussion without pushing any “correct” approach except that of honesty and looking for the bulletproof facts rather than opinion.
The problem for the uninquisitive reader is that the MSM pushes the alarmist stories with bold headlines and barely, if ever, the retractions, corrections or historical context, thus establishing CAGW as a general knowledge meme rather than a once interesting, but failing hypothesis. The shrinkage of the dead tree press and the rise of advocacy journalism means that very seldom is that old saw of old hacks exercised: “Why is this lying bastard lying to me?” Here a case can be made for a resource which provides a side by side rebuttal of poor CAGW papers. Journalists are overwhelmingly innumerate arts graduates and would welcome predigested cut and paste bits if imaginatively presented and tied to the cause of small government and more personal freedom.
(Just the meditations of a disappointed someone who once lived in a cold climate and thought a touch of global warming would be a good thing for purely selfish reasons)

Latitude says:
April 19, 2014 at 10:26 am
This is total hogwash…..it’s already done that way…..if I publish a paper that disagrees with yours
You are not an Organization, and you don’t make sense.

such an organization already exists- -it’s called the NIPCC- -it has been meeting regularly for nearly a decade and recently replied to the IPCC nonsense with a well-reasoned response- –
REPLY: It’s not an organization per se, its a project of the Heartland Institute. – Anthony

H.R.

“Is it time for an “official” climate skeptics organization, one that produces a policy statement, issues press releases, and provides educational guidance?”
I dunno. Leadership qualifications for such an organization must include, “Demonstrated record of success herding cats; Minimum 15 years experience,” and that should be at the top of the list.
I’m afraid regular commenter, jauntycyclist, would be left out because the leadership may decide, “No cyclists need apply.”
That said, I think the leading skeptical blogs (see list at right) should, at minimum, consider coordinating posts on topics that would benefit and perhaps require large number of participants for greater effect. Might as well start doing what ya’ll have been accused of doing for years anyways.
But I’m skeptical of my own doubts. If someone fleshed out the idea a little further, I’d certainly be willing to listen.

Oregon Jon

I am always skeptical whenever more government intrusion is the answer. Too boot, I am always skeptical about simple answers to problems with great complexity. Finally, I am always skeptical about problems seen when projecting the future using compter models when small changes to inputs result in large results.

It would seem that this website is the closest thing to “organized” that we’d get without internal frictions diluting the message. On the other hand, it would be useful to have an organizational structure that was dedicated to responding “in kind”. By which I mean that the majority of posters on WUWT argue the data, which is all well and good, but history shows us time and time again that it’s the message (aka “marketing”) that trumps the data. If we don’t find a way to market the data in a way that the non-technical can hear, it doesn’t matter how right we are, we’ll always be the minority. The alarmists know this, which is why their message is heard above the facts.

Mark Bofill

H.R.

But I’m skeptical of my own doubts. If someone fleshed out the idea a little further, I’d certainly be willing to listen.

Me too.

Jim Davidson

We have one in alberta. Its called Friends of Science ( friendsofscience.org) It has educational papers, issues press statements etc

brian

Like, Anthony I started as a ‘true believer’, however unlike him I was not trained in the geo-sciences field. I believed not through understanding but through immersion. I was bombarded at every turn from all media that it was true and it was dangerous. It was not until 2006, when I believe Gavin Schmidt, “prematurely” ran to the media to claim October was warmest ever. At that time I was working a job that gave me plenty of time to research on the internet and I had followed the stories out of the Western US, China, and Russia that October was unusually cold and snowy. Well loe and behold, not a couple weeks into November it was discovered that a mistake had been made with the Russian data. When Schmidt (if I remember correctly) did not really apologize but actually accuse the Russians of the mistake was when I opened my eyes and searched, “anti-global warming” or something to that effect. I was bombarded with many articles but I really caught on to some videos I watched featuring Profs Christy and Ball.
For the initial 12 – 18 months, because there was no clear authority representing skepticism I began to not believe much the same way I always believed. Not through understanding but through need to not want to believe. In 2008, I began to actually do my own research and became a fan of WUWT, thanks Anthony! Now my understanding is developed by solid science, it was through a central information source such as WUWT that I was able to filter through the noise, like a good Electrical Engineer, and develop my own understanding.
I think it is extremely important for people to have sources from both sides of the argument. Certainly, no one can deny, humans have caused some warming. We most definitely need to continue research into what continued use of fossil fuels, to changes in land use, and many other factors that humans play on our climate, to determine how much affect we actually have. That said, if nothing else, stasis temperatures for the past 17 years clearly demonstrate natural variance is still alive and well. To truly understand what will happen 100 years from now, we have to know how much affect the sun, ocean oscillations, and the many other natural factors that contribute to the climate system.

Bloke down the pub

I voted yes, but I could be open to persuasion. It should be remembered what GWPF stands for. They don’t dispute global warming in theory, it’s the policy created to ‘solve’ it that they argue with.

Jimbo

lsvalgaard says:
April 19, 2014 at 10:15 am
I think it is best that there is no Organization behind or embracing or promoting Climate Skepticism, just like there should not be an Organization behind any sub-field of Science itself. Scientists and skeptics must be allowed [and required] to follow their own path. That various scientific groups [e.g. AGU, AMS, and the Royal Society) issue Position Statements on any topic is in principle wrong. So I woted NO.

I voted yes on the condition that it does not receive any fossil fuel funding. The reason is it will be shot down and ignored on that basis alone.
Lief, the promotion of scientific scepticism is good? No? I thought it was an essential part of science.
The fact that the “AGU, AMS, and the Royal Society) issue Position Statements” means we have been left with no option but to fight fire with fire.
Finally without and organisation we allow the view of the Dragon Slayers to ruin our perfectly reasonable position. Warmists simply use their claims to tar the whole lot of us.
Just my 2 cents worth.

Jim Cripwell

Values of climate sensitivity are quoted with upper and lower limits. I can understand how upper limits are established. One can have a period when both CO2 and temperature are rising, and assume all the rise is due to the CO2. But now does on establish a lower limit to climate sensitivity? And, in logic, ought not this to be 0? After all, if it were less than zero, then CAGW is just as much a hoax as if it were zero.

ossqss

I have been lobbying for the development of the Union of Concerned Citizens, Scientists, and Businesses (or some facsimile there of) for a couple years now to no avail. Formal organization has tremendous benefits.
I am all in!

pokerguy

A firm “no” vote here. First it feels antithetical to the free thinking ethos embraced by most skeptics. When you talk about an starting an organization, you’re implying the need for some some sort of platform on which to base it. What are its goals? What are its core beliefs? Inevitably, we’d be trying to reach some sort of a consensus of our own. I don’t see it working.

If there is an organization, it shouldn’t have the words ‘climate’ or ‘skeptic’ in its name.

george e. conant

Yes! Anthony I have been wondering myself for a long time how to best expose and expel the evil vile demons of lies and liars of what is now called climate change science. I was just thinking about the meme oft used to shut me down when engaged in discussion of observed temperatures and the dire predictions of GW etc. which is this statement : “97% of climate scientists agree CAGW climate change is real and is happening and is bad for the earth and humans etc. etc. … ” I get snippets of information counter to that which is some 30,000 scientists who are vocal that they either cannot get behind said settled climate science because the science is week, or flat out reject said climate science because it is fraud. I scan MSM news for inklings which way the purveyors of media drivel will come clean or not. So far it has been mostly “or not”. Because of WUWT I have been able to access so much information (information is power) to get a feeling for the language of science as well as broad stroke understanding of science in the realm of climate sensitivities and various forcing’s be it natural or man made. This has been indispensable for my personal psychological well being after feeling hopelessness that the hydra headed UN fronted control paradigm is using CAGW fraudulent pseudo science to scare whole populations into agreeing to non-sense that will cause untold hardship and loss of personal and collective liberty for generations to come. I do not want my children living in that kind of reality.
I have my own very personal reasons to absolutely reject the asinine posit that CO2 is doing everything bad to our planet, including but not limited to : super catastrophic storms, the increase in occurrence of such storms, the endless expansion of deserts , the melting of the polar ice caps, the extinction of polar bears, the end of winters, the turning of our planets atmosphere into a run away GHG crossed the tipping point Venus like acid raining hell world, the oceans rising up to swallow vast coastal regions, Did I forget anything? Yikes! So I am not a scientist, and I live off grid and work in town where I make money, buy food and gasoline for my car and chainsaws. I lived on Indian Reservations for 20 plus years and learned a great deal about industrial pollution and waterways and subsequent impacts on wildlife and humans. I am the farthest thing from a oil corporation funded shill you can get. I had to remind my daughter recently that petroleum oil is not all bad, in fact thanks to Petroleum oil whales have not been hunted to extinction! There are good things as well as bad in our current state of technology and political machinations. So long as we are free to share TRUTH and think creatively , we humans can not only solve the energy issues we face but prosper as well. That possibility requires the allocation of money and resources to that end which funds both tried and true old tech as well as innovation of new tech. What kind of skeptic platform can include all this? What ever it is , it is time to launch one!

David in Cal

It won’t do any good IMHO. The Heartland Institute plays this role, but the media ignore it. Another commenter pointed to the NIPCC. The media ignore them, too. Skeptics need to find a way to get fair media coverage, but that’s easier said than done.

Latitude

lsvalgaard says:
April 19, 2014 at 10:37 am
You are not an Organization, and you don’t make sense.
====
Don’t tell me people don’t “organize” behind a paper they have used or developed into their science?
….of course they do
and they will organize and defend that bad science…that their science has built on….until the day they die
That is exactly what has happened to climate science….
If I publish something that disagrees with something you have published….people use my paper and build their science on it….they will “organize” to defend my paper and trash yours
Just putting a name on some “organization” does not change it or change the process.

sadbutmadlad

Warmists already claim that we are organised and well funded. Lets prove them right.
As to naming, it should not be named skeptic or anti warming or climate. It should be a positive word(s) looking to the future of humanity.
Victorian attitudes got us to where we are now. It was their drive to progress humanity forward that allows us to live in a modern society. They made sacrifices but they knew it was worth it in the end.

Jimbo

Is it time for an “official” climate skeptics organization, one that produces a policy statement, issues press releases, and provides educational guidance?

We should be careful about the name. I suggest a ‘Dangerous Global Warming Skeptics Organisation’. That is what the IPCC says MIGHT happen. The sub-heading could read ‘man-made global warming is real, but how much & how dangerous?’