An extraordinary meeting of climate skeptics and climate scientists in Bath

Many people wondered why I would travel halfway across the world to attend the Cook and Mann lectures. The answer to that question is: I decided to come on a whim (I also had not visited the UK since I started blogging) hoping that other more valuable meetings could occur. As I pointed out in my posting last Saturday there was little if anything new in the Cook lecture on Friday night and I don’t expect much new in the Mann lecture either. But, I also pointed out the importance of face-to-face communications in overcoming walls that can be built up in electronic communications.

There has been one other meeting thanks to the foresight of Nicholas Lewis and others; an extraordinary dinner meeting occurred on Sunday night, September 21st, at his home in Bath, UK. In attendance was a nearly equal balance of climate scientists and climate skeptics, some of whom were also scientists.

The photo of that Sunday night meeting is shown below.

Bath dinner 21Sep14Starting with the front row from left to right we have: Prof. Paul Valdes, of Bristol University, Prof. David Whitehouse of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, David Holland independent climate and FOIA researcher, Prof. Ed Hawkins researcher at Reading University, myself, Prof. Ted Shepherd of Reading University, Prof. Tamsin Edwards, researcher at Bristol University. Top row from left to right: Prof. Richard Betts of the Met Office, Marcel Crok, Dutch freelance science writer and initiator of climatedialogue.org, David Rose of the Mail on Sunday newspaper, Prof. Michael Kelly of Technology at Cambridge University, and Nicholas Lewis independent climate scientist and our gracious host.

The evening’s discussion was spirited and in-depth, covering topics of climate sensitivity, scientific publishing, science policy, the surface record, and finding agreements amongst ourselves on the various topics that we discussed as well as many of the topics that are in contention.

Since the venue was under Chatham House Rule, I am not at liberty to discuss any of the particular conversations that I was involved with nor will I discuss the conversations of others. However, with prior approval of all participants involved we’ve all agreed to bending the rule slightly to show the photo and name the participants. I think it is important to do so, because I cannot recall any similar meeting. Our goal is to lead by example.

More than anything this meeting demonstrated that a group of people with diverse ideas and some levels of distrust due to heightened rhetoric can come together and have an intelligent, polite, and enlightening discussion. I felt it important that this historic meeting be noted and to let it serve as an example of cooperation and hope for more future meetings so that we can understand each other better.

I was honored to be there and I thank you all for your willingness to participate and have a respectful discussion. I give a special thanks to Nic Lewis for his choices, his hospitality, and his foresight in organizing this meeting. A special thanks also to Sarah Lewis for her hospitality, which made this gathering excellent and seamless.

 

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Dismantling barriers is a good way forward. I approve.

John Shade

Well done to all involved.

lord garth

1. It seems to me that the ‘climate skeptic’/’climate scientist’ distinction is confusing. Aren’t the skeptics also scientists or at least scientific thinkers? Perhaps ‘skeptic-leaning’/’activist-leaning’ would be less confusing?
2. Also, was Mike Mann at the meeting? If so, why is he not in the picture?

ConTrari

He is hidden by the decline.

Brute

He is in decline.

Brad Keyes

” Also, was Mike Mann at the meeting? If so, why is he not in the picture?”
The photo was of skeptics and scientists.
So even if he’d been at the meeting he wouldn’t have been in frame.

ConTrari

His image still seems to hover somewhere among the spliced lines of the curtains.

Otter (ClimateOtter on Twitter)

Richard Betts, Welcome to the Skeptic side of life! 😉
(No one Ever looks like one imagines…..)

Les Johnson

When you said “extraordinary, I half suspected that Mann would be there too.
Then I realized that was an absurdity.
Well done, Anthony. I suspect you are in contact with the attendees, so please pass on my thanks and kudos, for the rapprochment.

Mario Lento

Cool Anthony… inquiring minds want to know more. I’m sure this meeting will help with future discussions/debates! Kudos to you and your integrity.

MikeUK

A great thing to see, most active participants on both sides are seeking the truth, so there is at least a unity of purpose. Science should be pure questing after the truth, human emotions and prejudices should be left behind the bar.

David Rose

Prof Mann was not there. I was privileged to be, and I echo Anthony’s comments and deep thanks to Nic and Sarah Lewis. It was an enjoyable and important occasion, and, I hope, a sign that we can evolve what one of the participants called a “radical moderation” in discussing these issues in future.

John V. Wright

David, as a Brit, a former journalist – and a great admirer of Anthony and his hugely informative and fair-minded blog – I want to thank you for flying the flag for accurate, unbiased, science-based journalism in the UK. Sadly, many reporters appear to have lost the ability to ask obvious questions and, of course, the BBC has lost all credibility in its global warming ‘coverage’.
Your presence at this gathering indicates that not all is yet lost for accurate and courageous reporting of climate science issues. If you get the opportunity in the future to ask Cameron some inconvenient questions then please do so. And keep on keeping on – for all of us.

I don’t see any point in moderation of anything. in science thing are much more black and white than that. Yes I know that in quantum physics there are uncertainties, but still there is not that much wiggle room in the study of the climate.

Fraizer

Not much wiggle room in the study of climate?
We probably know <1% about what there is to know about the climate.
Hell, we probably know <1% about what we don't know about the study of climate.

Your room is ALL wiggle… We only vaguely understand a handful of the mechanisms and we definitely don’t know which hands control which levers…

sabretruthtiger

I think you mean that at macro scales beyond the behaviour of particles, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle is insignificant and gravity is more significant. Our knowledge of climate science is however in it’s infancy.
One thing we do know is that CO2 has a small effect on climate and far less than the GCMs predict. We know this by comparing the long known standalone CO2 forcing with global CO2 atmospheric composition and global temperatures. We also know that periods in the Earth’s history like the MWP had higher temperatures with less CO2. We also know that historically (on long term time scales) temperatures dropped earlier and much more steeply than did CO2 so it could not have been the driver and importantly was overpowered by some other natural variable.
I find it ironic that someone who accuses skeptics of participating in a fossil fuel-funded conspiracy uses the ‘tin foil hat’ ad hominem.

John Boles

I would love to have overheard it all, sounds interesting! Sounds like a good idea; lead by example, set the stage for future meetings and find greater understanding.

Gunga Din

More than anything this meeting demonstrated that a group of people with diverse ideas and some levels of distrust due to heightened rhetoric can come together and have an intelligent, polite, and enlightening discussion. I felt it important that this historic meeting be noted and to let it serve as an example of cooperation and hope for more future meetings so that we can understand each other better.

==========================================================
A meeting of people with different opinions willing to lay down their (I’m not sure what word to use, political?, ideological?, prideological?,-yes, I just made that word up.) shields to discus the facts.
I hope we all benefit from the fruits of the Lewis’s hospitality.

Prideological? New times call for new words. Hopefully that is one that can easily be overcome by all rational people (the concept, not the word).

noaaprogrammer

“Prideful” is the already existing adjective that can be used here.

“Prideful” is good, but it implies only “full of pride”. Where as “Prideological” implies their very philosophy is based upon a false pride.

Harry Passfield

‘Hubristologicalisational’? 🙂 (I like it it because I accidentally found it had a ‘bristol’ – not a euphemism – seeing as how this was all brought about by being at Bristol).

Gunga Din

Most think of figures of speech as simply …uh… similes and metaphors. Comparisons. Picturesque speech. They are that. But they are also intentional departures from the rules of grammar to call attention to something. I made up the word to call attention to “pride” and how getting over it is a big step in the right direction.
Please forgive my clumsy attempt at making a point.

Streetcred

What an excellent opportunity to seize the ‘debate’ back from the feral catastrophists. Hopefully this gathering will encourage a forum of discussion and understanding unaffected by the politicians, catastrophists, and other assorted self-interested types. Next thing is to decouple funding from TRUTH.

Streetcred

Sorry, it already is decoupled 😉 … let me rather say decouple funding from the dogma.

PaulH

Good food and drink can often smooth out disagreements, at least for a little while.

cnxtim

I am appalled that so many learned persons are being paid to debate this discredited theory – surely they can get real jobs?

donaitkin

A great evening, Anthony, and I would love to have been there. I’ve had lunch in London with David Holland and some others like David Henderson, but, though I’ve tried, I’ve been unable to arrange a similar gathering in Australia. Perhaps I should try again. Perhaps Anthony should come to Oz!

If there is a “Send Anthony to Australia fund” somewhere, I would be tempted to kick in a bit.
But, only if you guys send him back.
/grin

D.J. Hawkins

I have heard the theory, at WUWT I think, that heating oil was supplied by the Central Planning gurus on the basis of the local weather. If you wanted more oil, you told the boffins it was a wee bit colder than it might actually be. After the collapse, if you wanted oil you paid for it, and there was no reason to put your thumb on the scale, as it were. It may be apochryphal, but I certainly believe it could have happened. Seventy-five years under communism, people get pretty good at gaming the system to survive.

Mique

Well done! And not a single grey beard to be seen.

Sorry, but the real show is in ny with a bunch of clueless @#$%&&*-
I cannot believe the bs being bought hook,line and sinker by way too many
Pols and the media, minus fox news, and a few journalists. How is this possible
In todays world?

Hi Anthony
It was good to meet you and those who I’d not met before, and to catch up with those I already knew. It was a very interesting evening. Thanks very much to Nic and Sarah for their kind hospitality.
Otter – I’m intrigued about what you imagined I looked like. Maybe I shouldn’t ask….!
Cheers
Richard

Streetcred

The foundations are beginning to tremble …
Politically Left Scientist Dissents – Calls President Obama ‘Delusional’ On Global Warming
http://www.climatechangedispatch.com/politically-left-scientist-dissents-calls-president-obama-delusional-on-global-warming.html

Lord Galleywood

A spiders web comes to mind with that picture.

Well done to all concerned, and also to most if not all of the writers of comments here.

tgmccoy

I have lefty/warmist friends. Some are now beginning to doubt the Dogma. As long as meeting like this occur there can be dialog. Thanks, Anthony..

timothy sorenson

And THAT is worth the ticket price! Good job.

Agreed – was a fascinating and enjoyable evening. More thanks to Nic & Sarah for being such fabulous hosts.
cheers,
Ed.

Let’s hope that this evening as described proves to be a historic moment at the start of the end of the ‘climate change (or whatever) debacle.
I dream sometimes, and I confuse reality….. but what a nice dream.
Well done to Nicolas Lewis for organising and hosting such a much-needed event.

I suspect those on the skeptical side didn’t really learn anything new other than to put a face to a name, even though Anthony is gracious enough to mention the meeting in a praiseworthy tone, but those on the CAGW side may have been a bit surprised there is so much common ground.
Wonder if any of them still feel that the debate is over or do any of them recognize that the skeptical position is not one of abject denial but is mainly open, honest, proper science skepticism?
Otherwise, congrats to all that attended – maybe, just maybe, it is a step in the right direction.

There really isn’t that much common ground, we are right they are wrong, and that is the end of that. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t have a nice dinner with people who are totally wrong, I had two ex-wives so I have done that many times.

Mike

IMHO: Chatham house rules are the worst atrocity to free speech…they are used to hide bad behavior you should have walked out once this was declared.

Mike

I noticed that Andrew Montford wasn’t there…no surprise since he has voiced his opposition to CH rules in multiple blog posts.

Well, not that Wikipedia is correct on these matters, but they say:
When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.
Rather than walk out, I suspect some might not have been there otherwise. Therefore, this is better than nothing since eye-ball to eye-ball discussions can be much more beneficial than damaging, as long as the participants remain gentlemen/gentlewomen. One would surely no longer be in that “gentle” category if they agreed to Chatham House Rule and than did not adhere to it.
At least, that would be my take.

JEM

So alright then, we’re agreed.
Anthony, you can post the menu.

mpainter

One benefit of these rules is that no one can maliciously ascribe false statements to another participant without breaking the rules and incurring odium.This provides a better atmosphere for frank discussions. It is a step toward opening a public dialogue which will be to the advantage of the skeptics as we are correct.
I do not wish to seem cynical but IMO it is the 18 year “pause” that made such a meeting possible.

The lisbon conference with Judith Curry, nick stokes, myself, tallbloke, mcintyre, mckittrick, von storch, webtser, goddard.. was Chatham house.
the speech was plenty free. agreeing not to discuss what we discussed or who said what, all us to speak freely.
When we accept, freely accept, restrictions, free speech is not abridged

Yes – and openness and decorum result though vigorous and great disagreement may be encouraged. Sometimes the most free speech is in a restricted venue. It would be nice if there were a tad more decorum even here, myself included. The drive by insults add little, feeding of trolls is counterproductive as trolls are already in a closed loop having already decided what is best for all of us. I can change my mind when given good reasons to do so. Some can’t, but that is their problem. Thanks Steven. Good comment.

TimTheToolMan

Mosher writes “When we accept, freely accept, restrictions, free speech is not abridged”
Agreed. In this context CH encourages free speech…at the time. The down point is that us rabble dont get to hear it. I’m sure all involved benefitted greatly from frank and open discussion “off the record”

Lance of BC

Well well Mosh, two of the worst thread bombers on this site doing the Chatham house with some climate heavy hitters in the (so called) skeptic/science view meeting, how interesting. I’ve deducted you’re in the skinny with pics with Mr.WUWT from the past. Yep, I’ve suspected you, nick stokes and others are plants to put discord and spice up traffic/ranks for hits on your site for Mr. WUWT. This is most distressing to me.
But thank you, what a revelation, as the world of crazy{NYC/UN) is about to embrace CAGW and genocide you’re all claiming Chatham “F-ING” house rules, what a joke. Nero played the fiddle as Rome burned.
I don’t know what’s worse, going to a speaking engagement with Cook and making small talk(WTF?) and then blowing off the opportunity to question Mann….. or lecturing us non-scientists/plebes about Chatham house rules because we don’t have a PHD, or an invite…
Hey, here’s a thought…., maybe you shouldn’t talk/post about it at all(you to Mosh).. Just saying…
Or… here’s another thought, I don’t think you understand how many of us web skeptics/studied HAD knowledge before we came here. Myself, I’ve had to go it alone with my limited info for over 15 years without the WUWT cushion.
Mosher has his points though cryptic(and more often just wrong), but knowing he is involved with nick and probably other thread destroyers tainting this site. Should us regular smart plebes just ignore this ? Are we not at war?
PS – I AM.

Keitho

Well done Steven and big ups to Anthony. This sort of thing never does any harm and perspectives always improve.

Joe Public

This was a private social meeting, in the participants own time.
They have every right & expectation to agree whatever they want, and, expect mutual confidentiality.

I am old enough to remember the warm glow people would feel after a US-USSR Detente meeting.
It would last a whole week sometimes.

observa

At last there appears to be a true consensus emerging as this article (paywalled) by Steven Koonin in The Australian summarises very eruditely-
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/inexact-science-makes-it-impossible-to-accurately-predict-future-climate/story-e6frg6z6-1227066897024
He begins-
“THE idea that “climate science is settled” runs through today’s popular and policy discussions. Unfortunately, that claim is misguided. It has not only distorted our public and policy debates on ­issues related to energy, greenhouse gas emissions and the environment, it also has inhibited the scientific and policy discussions that we need to have about our climate future.”
and after a great summation of the current state of play concludes rightly with-
“Any serious discussion of the changing climate must begin by acknowledging not only the scientific certainties but also the uncertainties, especially in projecting the future. Recognising those limits, rather than ignoring them, will lead to a more sober and ultim­ately more productive discussion of climate change and climate policies. To do otherwise is a great disservice to climate science.”
Footnote:
Steven E. Koonin was undersecretary for science in the US Energy Department during President Barack Obama’s first term and is director of the Centre for Urban Science and Progress at New York University. His previous positions include professor of theoretical physics and provost at the California Institute of Technology, as well as chief scientist of BP, where his work focused on renewable and low-carbon energy technologies.

Mike T

Excellent work, this is what we need.

Sciguy54

This meeting was a great idea and a credit to all involved.
No-one is so smart that additional open-minded insight is of no value. In any case, before its all over some participants may need a bridge forward. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

JEM

‘Jaw, jaw, jaw is better than war, war, war’ was I believe attributed to Churchill, but you still have to make time for chew, chew, chew…

Robert of Ottawa

Did the Warmistas appreciate how their “science” had been hijacked by their political paymasters?

manicbeancounter

It is great that people with different points of view talk to one another. One of the worst aspects of global warming is the polarized views, and a total failure to appreciate that people might, with good reason, have views different from your own.
The Chatham House rules can be used to make decisions behind closed doors, like the BBC did in its decision to suspend its duty of impartiality with respect to climate science and climate politics. However, when used properly, they CH rules be used to voice opinions in private on controversial topics.

Good work!
Btw. Over the years I noticed that there are three things many AWG-believers have a hard time understanding not only as true but the impact of those three:
* Tectonical plates
* Ice Age from peak to now and especially the impact of Archimedes Principle such as landrise resp. erosion
* What happens when a warm straith meets a cold. Density, saltination, changes of direction resp impacts such as new weather phenomen.
If someone is reading this has special knowledge in those fields, I for one would love to see information in detail presented here in wattsup. Please would you write some lines about those for most of us skeptic known factors?

Ulric Lyons

The Chatham House Rule reads as follows:
When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.
Q. Can a list of attendees at the meeting be published?
A. No – the list of attendees should not be circulated beyond those participating in the meeting. – See more at: http://www.chathamhouse.org/about/chatham-house-rule#sthash.MKKGN3jG.dpuf
http://www.chathamhouse.org/about/chatham-house-rule

Ulric, you missed the part where Anthony said he had permission from all involved to publish the pic and IDs.
This is a wonderful episode toward bridging both scientific and ideological differences.

Harry Passfield

Rud: Have I missed something? Anthony is free to disclose what was said – but he mustn’t say who said it. N’est-ce pas?

observa

JohnWho September 23, 2014 at 4:34 pm
‘Hey observa –
I’m just guessing you did not observe this’
Yeah you’re right but good to know it’s getting around the world in all the right places 🙂

You have the right idea(s) on how to do it and I commend you. You lead by example – a lot of people could learn from your approach. Well done!

Clint Culver

This is encouraging. As a person seeking less biased discussions, this is the sort of thing that keeps me searching for answers.
There are many sites, but a quick look at the comments section has turned me off from most of them. This place is one of the better ones.

Evan Jones

Notice how Anthony dominates the table.

I noticed that too.

davideisenstadt

well done anthony. well done.

I toast all of you who met over food and libations in Bath at the Lewis household.
Cheers!
John

I know – you could write an allegory! That would not break the agreement. (;

Well some would day a good reason for a Bath.
The object is to have a win for truth.
Getting along is not required for the win in my not so humble opinion.

ossqss

Bravo!
I am hopeful there was discussion of “The OAS” also? Which I predict will become one of the most important societies in climate science moving forward.

Jimbo

More than anything this meeting demonstrated that a group of people with diverse ideas and some levels of distrust due to heightened rhetoric can come together and have an intelligent, polite, and enlightening discussion.

I can’t help but wonder whether this is one of the 5 phases of the climbdown. Would this meeting have taken place 5 years ago? This is guerrilla warfare, this is not the time to be nice and chatty with people who were scaremongering and deceiving while asking for more funding. Just my opinion.

M Courtney

Honest and open science won’t be made on the graves of the crushed foes.
It needs people to be willing to bend and move forward and be unafraid.
You can bomb guerrillas in their foxholes put you won’t get them to build a new world that way.
They’ll just build new foxholes.

But wasn’t it Max Planck who said that science advances one funeral at a time?

Brad Keyes

Good point except Tamsin and Richard don’t really need to do anything new. They’re simply practicing climate science, as far as I can tell, which none of us would object to. The real problem is the Phil Jones or the Hockey Team member or the Naomi Oreskes who will never build anything worthwhile, because he/she doesn’t LIKE science and only knows how to sabotage it.
With apologies to Christopher Hitchens, coexistence with anti-scientists is neither possible nor desirable.

Brad Keyes

I don’t recognise all the names but Tamsin and Richard Betts don’t monger fear in my observation. I suspect they’d have been just as happy to meet 5 years ago. (Whereas other “opponents” like Mann and co. won’t play nice no matter how many years we wait.)

I am happy to hear the meeting took place. I am sure that positive results will be forthcoming.

MattN

Outstanding. Props to all.

You are correct. But it does help settle the truce afterwards. Which is equally important.
I would direct your attention to Lincoln’s second inaugural address. If you want it in inspiring form, visit the portion I refer to that is inscribed on a wall of his memorial in Washington, DC.

Claude Harvey

For the life of me, I cannot understand how ANY competent scientist can look at the climate data accumulated over the past 40 years and see evidence of “positive feedback” operating in response to CO2-forced greenhouse warming. I’d be afraid I might choke on my dinner while trying to be civil to anyone who claimed to have seen such physical evidence. If another party told me instead that one cannot actually SEE the evidence because the Climate Gods have hid it in the ocean, I suspect I might blow that choked down dinner and ruin a lovely party.

David A

OFF topic but please check this paper out..
The error margins for surface GAT just increased 100 fold.
http://www.eike-klima-energie.eu/uploads/media/E___E_algorithm_error_07-Limburg.pdf
here is what maybe the money quote…
“By knowing this the minimum uncertainty for every annual global mean temperature
should be expanded not only to the value described here i.e. with 95 % confidence
interval to ± 1.084 °C, but should be at least 3 to 5 times wider. Thus, the average
global temperature anomaly for the last 150 years is dissolved in a wide noisy
uncertainty band, which is much wider than the whole assumed variation of the 20
th century. Therefore every attempt to attribute any possible forcing to that variation remains scientific speculation.”

Thanks, David, the Limburg paper looks good.

Kelvin Vaughan

An anomaly doesn’t tell you much really apart from which way the temperature appeared to be heading between two chosen points in time.

pottereaton

Well done, Anthony.