My one-on-one meeting with Bill McKibben

UPDATED 6/8/15 (comment added by Bill McKibben, see end of article) About a month ago I got an e-mail from Bill McKibben telling me that he would be in my town to do a presentation on June 5th. He wanted to know if he could meet with me and just sit down over a beer and talk about things. I jumped at the chance. This photo below was taken yesterday, June 5th, at the Sierra Nevada Taproom in Chico, CA just before 6PM PDT after I had a two hour conversation with Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org.

mckibben-watts-06-05-2014
Bill McKibben at left, Anthony Watts, at right

One of the most interesting things about Bill McKibben is that he has always been civil and courteous to me unlike some others that are on the other side of the climate debate aisle. So, I didn’t think twice about meeting him because I knew that despite our differences we would likely have a very interesting and productive conversation.

My prediction came true. We had conversations that spanned everything from stories about our families and how we grew up to the current debates over climate and energy. We also spoke of the personal challenges that each of us face due to who we are and how we are perceived by others.

I didn’t make any recordings and I didn’t make any notes, I also did not tell anyone I had a time of this meeting and I don’t think Bill did either. I really didn’t want to because the last thing I wanted was to have someone come along and disrupt it. As I mentioned to Bill that some of the local environmentalists have what I would describe as a “severe hatred” of my position on climate change and because I have the to temerity to dare write about it. In fact, he was going to be addressing a number of environmentally oriented people right after our meeting at an event cosponsored by our local alternate radio station and the Butte Environmental Council. I suggested to Bill that perhaps he should mention that we had a pleasant and productive meeting to see if a “groan” might erupt from the audience. He said he would but I have not heard back from him yet as to whether or not my prediction came true.

Bill and I both had a couple of beers and we shared a dessert all the while chatting away as if we’d known each other for years. Essentially we have, but we just never met in person before.

Below are a few highlights that I remember from our conversation.

What we agreed upon:

We both agreed that tackling real pollution issues was a good thing. When I say real pollution issues, I mean things like water pollution, air pollution, Ocean plastics pollution, and other real tangible and solvable problems.

We both agreed that as technology advances, energy production is likely to become cleaner and more efficient.

We both agreed that coal use especially in China and India where there are not significant environmental controls is creating harm for the environment and the people who live there.

We both agreed that climate sensitivity, the response to a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, hasn’t been nailed down yet. Bill thinks it’s on the high side while I think it’s on the low side neither of us thought the number had been correctly defined yet.

We both talked about how nuclear power especially Thorium-based nuclear power could be a solution for future power needs that would provide a stable base electrical grid while at the same time having far fewer problems than the current fission products based on uranium and plutonium.

We both agreed that the solar power systems we have put on our respective homes have been good things for each of us.

We both agreed that there are “crazy people” on both sides of the debate and that each of us have suffered personally at the hands of some of the actions of these people (you know who you are). We both spoke of some of the hatred and threats that we have endured over the years, some of which required police intervention.

We both agreed that if we could talk to our opponents more there would probably be less rhetoric, less noise, and less tribalism that fosters hatred of the opposing side.

We both agreed that we enjoy the musings of Willis Eschenbach on WUWT, and we spoke about his most recent essay describing the self-regulating mechanism that may exist due to albedo changes in the inter-tropical convergence zone (ITCZ).

We both agreed that it would be a great thing if climate skeptics were right, and carbon dioxide increases in the atmosphere wasn’t quite as big a problem as we have been led to believe.

What we disagreed upon:

Climate sensitivity was the first issue that we disagreed about. While we both thought the number has not been nailed down yet, Bill thought the number was high, while I thought the number was lower such as the kind of numbers we were getting from the recent climate sensitivity analysis of Judith Curry and Nicolas Lewis. I spent a fair amount of time explaining to Bill how I believe, as do many others, that the effect of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is now approaching saturation point, such that a doubling of CO2 from this point forward might not be as catastrophic rise problematic as we have been told.

Bill seems to think that carbon dioxide influences along with other man-made influences have perturbed our atmosphere, which he considers “finally finely tuned”, enough to create some of the severe weather events that we have witnessed recently. He specifically spoke of the recent flooding in Texas calling it an “unnatural outlier”, and attributed it to man-made influences on our atmospheric processes. I pointed out that we only have about 100 years or so of good weather records and that we don’t really know for sure what the true outlier bounds are for such kinds of events. For example I told him of the great 1861 flood in California, followed by an exceptional drought within a few years. At the time, both events seemed like fantastic outliers. I also spoke of studies that have been attributing more extreme rainfall to the effects of cities.

And there just doesn’t seem to be any significant trend as this graph shows:

Global Precipitation, from CRU TS3 1° grid. DATA SOURCE

[Willis Eschenbach writes] As in all of the records above, there is nothing at all anomalous in the recent rainfall record. The average varies by about ± 2%. There is no trend in the data.

As does this one:

https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/us-rainfall-events-trend.jpg

Bill also seem to think that many other weather events could be attributable to the changes that humans have made on our planet. He was quite sincere about this belief and cited many examples of events he witnessed or saw the aftermath of. I could tell that his perspective was one of empathy as were many of his concerns. But I came away with the impression that Bill feels such things more than he understands them in a physical sense. This was not unexpected because Bill is a writer by nature, and his tools of the trade are to convey human experience into words. I can’t really fault him for feeling these things and expanding on them but I did note he seemed quite resistive to factual rebuttals because they didn’t assuage the feelings he harbored.

For example I tried to explain how the increase in reporting through cell phones, video cameras, 24-hour cable news, and the Internet have made severe weather events seem much more frequent and menacing than they used to be.

Bill and I disagreed about the usefulness of computer models and I pointed out how models have been diverging from the measurements. Bill seemed concerned that we have to act on the advice of the models and the people who run them because the risk of not doing so could be a fateful decision. I pointed out that mankind has been quite adaptable and resilient, and thrived on warmer periods of Earth’s history than cooler ones, while he seemed to think that we are more fragile especially when it relates to crop production then one might think.

A few other points that we discussed:

Bill and I talked about how government can sometimes over-regulate things to the point of killing them, such as some of the problems I had with the California Air Resources Board and my attempt to start an electric car company in 2008. He was surprised to learn that electric cars in California have to be emissions tested just like gasoline powered cars, instead of simply looking into under the hood and noting the electric motor and checking a box on a form. He laughed all the way through my tales of woe trying to deal with that insane bureaucracy, and was quite sympathetic.

I told Bill that up until recently I had trusted (but considered misguided) the climate scientists at NOAA/NCDC, but with the recent publication of the Karl 2015 paper and some of the data manipulation shenanigans that I witnessed, I no longer have that trust. Bill responded with he doesn’t know those people but he believed that Dr. James Hansen had integrity. I asked Bill that if the people at NOAA/NCDC had the same integrity he believed Jim Hansen has, why would they have to adjust data that had been previously considered okay, and why would they not publish data from the most state-of-the-art Climate Reference Network in our monthly and yearly US. State of the Climate reports, but instead rely on the old and problematic surface temperature network that is full adjustments, assumptions, and biases – none of which exist in the Climate Reference Network? He didn’t have an answer.

Bill and I both lamented how some people perceived us on opposite sides of the aisle. He was annoyed that some people see him as an “idiot”, while I spoke of my annoyance of being called a “denier” when I don’t deny that the climate has warmed; I just don’t think it’s as big a problem as some others do. I can tell you this: I don’t think Bill McKibben is an idiot. But I do think he perceives things more on a feeling or emotional level and translates that into words and actions. People that are more factual and pragmatic might see that as an unrealistic response.

Bill was amazed at my ability to keep WUWT going all these years without having any budget, sponsor or funding. I explained to him, as I have many times to readers that doing this is little more than an extension of all my years in broadcasting. In broadcasting we never allow for “dead air”; we always have to keep fresh content going and thanks to the help of many people who contribute their time for moderation, in the form of guest articles, and in the form of comments I am able to keep this enterprise fresh and relevant. Bill says he reads every day and I took that as a compliment.

In closing:

I offered Bill the ability to inspect what I was going to write about our meeting before I published it. He declined saying it’s okay, that he’ll just comment on whatever I write.

All in all it was a good meeting and while we might fervently disagree on some (but not all) issues, I can say that Bill McKibben was a pleasant individual to talk to and that I could count him among one of the more friendly people in the climate debate.


 

UPDATE: 6/8/15

In comments Bill says that he really isn’t for nuclear power of any kind. I got the impression that he was against conventional fission reactors, due to the problems and costs, but because he voiced no strong opinions to me about Thorium power,( that Jim Hansen also agrees with me on) I got the impression he was open to such new technology. Apparently, he isn’t. His comment is reproduced below:

Just a couple of points

1) It doesn’t actually bother me when people call me an idiot–I’m used to it, and it’s always possible it’s true

2) I don’t think thorium or cold fusion or anything like it is the future of power; I’d wager all things nuclear are mostly relics of the past, in no small part because they cost like sin. But the point I was trying to make is that the new fact in the world is the remarkably rapid fall in the price of renewable energy. That solar panels cost so much less than they did just a few years ago strikes me as a destabilizing factor for anyone’s world view

3) Sierra Nevada beer is even better fresh out of the tap at the brewery than it is in a bottle

I had a fine evening at the Masonic Hall in Chico following with a large crowd of local environmentalists, celebrating the week’s many big divestment victories. For the record, I mentioned my drink with Anthony and no one hissed or groaned. A few did chuckle.

 

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Anything is possible
June 6, 2015 3:52 pm

“But I do think he perceives things moron a feeling or emotional level”
=====================================
I assume you mean “more on.”
Given the tone of the rest of the article, you may want to edit that (:

brians356
Reply to  Anthony Watts
June 6, 2015 8:23 pm

I envy you, Anthony. I always wanted to drink beer with a gossip columnist for The New Yorker. You’re the “Talk Of The Town” now!

Peter Jones
Reply to  Anthony Watts
June 7, 2015 2:08 am

What voice dictation product do you use?

David Springer
Reply to  Anthony Watts
June 7, 2015 6:05 am

I’ve heard of Freudian slips but this… a von Neumiann slip?

David Springer
Reply to  Anthony Watts
June 7, 2015 9:01 am

There are voice recognition programming considerations in play. When making a choice between “more on” and “moron” it may have made the decision partly based upon context. The word “idiot” was used in the preceding sentence. The chance of a synonym appearing soon thereafter is high. Another possibility is the usage history for the particular speaker. The algorithm that learns from the speaker should be keeping track of how often the one phrase gets corrected (or goes uncorrected) versus the alternative and use that in the decision tree.

Pete J.
Reply to  Anthony Watts
June 8, 2015 4:12 pm

Anthony, you are a much kinder, patient person than I. Good for you.

Paul Mackey
Reply to  Anthony Watts
June 9, 2015 12:17 am

Well Done! The above describes what I believe to be the essence of civilization, being able to argue with, disagree, yet respect and tolerate people with different opinions.

daniel barasch
June 6, 2015 3:54 pm

please correct “moron” to “more on” :)….
I can tell you this: I don’t think Bill McKibben is an idiot. But I do think he perceives things moron a feeling or emotional level and translates that into words and actions.

Mariwarcwm
Reply to  daniel barasch
June 7, 2015 10:13 am

He comes at things from a religious position. I like to check facts, like the logarithmic nature of CO2 warming, the evidence from previous warmings during this Holocene Interglacial, the influence of the Milankovitch Cycles on the Pleistocene Ice Age Interglacials. There was a time when people thought that the Sun went round the Earth. Rational Galileo worked it out. The rest came from Bill McKibben’s angle.

mellyrn
Reply to  Mariwarcwm
June 7, 2015 6:42 pm

When you look at the sky with your naked eye, out of the thousands of clearly-celestial objects you can see, only three/3 — Mars, Jupiter and Saturn — appear to do anything other than neatly orbit the Earth, and they only do that every once in a while. Yet they were the ancients’ only indication that Earth was not the center of everything, those three “wandering stars” and their occasional reversals.
How quick would you be to ignore ten thousand data points, in favor of accommodating three?
Moderns do not appreciate what a huge intellectual accomplishment it was, to work out heliocentrism.
[Technically, there were seven: The Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and .. the moon were considered the “planets” (wanderers against the fixed background of the stars. .mod]

rgbatduke
Reply to  Mariwarcwm
June 8, 2015 8:23 am

And you can see Venus, Jupiter and Saturn at the same time in the early evening — having just missed Mercury that was visible at the setting of the sun until around a month and a half ago.
People do not appreciate the fact that Ptolemy’s model with epicycles worked — it was just enormously complex, like an Orrery. And Plato and the Pythagoreans had set the stage for it with his Ideals and the notions that everything is related to simple geometry, the movements “in the spheres”. It was also utterly free from internal sense other than this complex design was the will of a complex designer. Reality is actually far simpler and more consistently connected than this model allowed for.
But it wasn’t until Tycho Brahe, rich and idle in Denmark’s long cold winter nights, performed years’ worth of systematic observations of the precise positions of the stars at precise dates and times in the night sky and was able to use parallax against the background of the distant stars to resolve distances to the planets that his lab rat (mathematician Johannes Kepler) was able to discover that the orbits were absolutely around the Sun, not the Earth, and that they were not circular but rather were elliptical (later shown to be conic sections, later still to be shown to be a nearly unsolvably complex set of coupled orbits that were slow perturbations of conic sections). Galileo also made observations — some of the first telescopic observations — of sky-objects that were not orbiting the sun, notably Jupiter’s moons. Sadly, Galileo largely ignored Kepler’s much more carefully done and mathematically precise work. Both Tycho Brahe and Kepler had occasion to observe Supernovae, and these too shook the prevailing worldview that the stellar portion of the sky was “fixed and immutable”. Not at all. On a decadal scale, there was observable change (including comets).
IMO Kepler was the single person most responsible for the failure of the Heliocentric model. Brahe’s observations and his analysis were really beyond criticism — simple parallax was an idea too easy to grasp, and worked perfectly and consistently to measure the precise positions of the planets as they varied in time. Brahe thought (mistakenly) that the stars were fixed, because he was unable to observe any parallax in their relative motion, but the problem was simply that his great circles were not large enough or precise enough to measure arc-seconds, which is the scale of parallax to the nearest stars (and that the nearest stars are not visible from Denmark!). It took over 200 years (1838) for measuring technology to improve to the point where the distance to the nearest stars could be measured, and it wasn’t until the telescope technology of the early 20th century that enough stars could be observed and the distances to them measured via parallax to establish the Hertzsprung-Russel diagram and a way of estimating the distance to a star based on its type (established by its spectrum) its inferred brightness (total radiated power) and the observed intensity of the light. It wasn’t until 1924 that Edwin Hubble, using Cepheid Variable stars (100,000 times brighter than the sun and with a relationship between their period and their brightness) as a “stanard candle”, was able to measure the distance to the nearest “nebulae” and show that they were galaxies made up of hundreds of billions of stars (in in due course, showed that Earth isn’t the center of the Universe, that the Earth’s sun isn’t the center of the Universe, that the Earth’s Galaxy isn’t the center of the Universe, and in the latter half of the 20th century through the present) that the Universe probably doesn’t have a boundary (certainly not within something on the order of 500 billion light years, hundreds of times further than the farthest back and away we can see) so, paradoxically, you are free to consider your own navel the Center of It All as all points are in the middle of an infinite line.
The biggest problem with all of this is that it directly contradicted a fair number of verses from the Bible, as well as a body of Greek Philosophy that was taught as true largely by authority all over the western world. Sadly, that body did not include the work of Aristarchus of Samos, who proposed a Heliocentric model in the 3rd century BCE. It wasn’t until 1822 that the Pope signed a decree allowing the publication of Heliocentric works in Rome, although they removed Newton’s Principia and other heliocentric works from the Index of Forbidden Books in 1758, well over a century after the publication of the data that proved that the heliocentric model was much “righter” than the Ptolemaic model of motion in and of the spheres. The Bible verses were basically proven wrong, stimulating the continued development of apologia and “hermeneutics”. The Bible never recovered its former mantle of “infallibility”, and today nearly all of the Abrahamic religions openly acknowledge that the Bible is not a reliable source of knowledge about the real world, although there are a few holdouts.
rgb

Reply to  Mariwarcwm
June 8, 2015 8:39 am

Mariwarcwm, rgbatduke and mellyrn,
You might enjoy this.

OK S.
Reply to  Mariwarcwm
June 8, 2015 9:06 am

Thanks for the link, Smokey.
Very nice reading.

LHFRY
Reply to  Mariwarcwm
June 12, 2015 10:58 am

This is the problem with most of the left – feelings take precedence over facts. When “global warming” became “climate change” it was obvious what we were dealing with. If the facts support your position, there is no need to make an obscurantist change to your terminology.

johnofenfield
June 6, 2015 3:56 pm

A very civilised conversation it seems. The true essence of life. (Moron = more on: Freud would have enjoyed that).

Mike
Reply to  johnofenfield
June 7, 2015 12:52 am

We both agreed that it would be a great thing if climate skeptics were right, and carbon dioxide increases in the atmosphere wasn’t quite as big a problem as we have been led to believe.

That is possibly the most significant thing to get from an alarmist.
From the way that many seem to be wishing for Arctic sea ice to collapse and for a super El Nino to boost global temps, it would seem that for most the last thing they want is this not be a problem.
If Bill said that , there is some hope. He will probably get booed for saying so though.

Guy
Reply to  Mike
June 7, 2015 2:58 am

Mike,
Yes, the alarmists seem to want things to get worse. However, it seems some skeptics want things to get colder while believing warmer is better. I am embarrassed to say I am in this group.

Jason Calley
Reply to  Mike
June 8, 2015 5:46 am

Hey Mike, “We both agreed that it would be a great thing if climate skeptics were right, and carbon dioxide increases in the atmosphere wasn’t quite as big a problem as we have been led to believe.”
Yes, I was struck also that that may be the most important statement in the article. A sincere warmist may hope that things are not as bad as they suspect. On the other hand, a CAGW cultist becomes angry at the very suggestion that the planet is not being destroyed. Kudos to McKibben for that.

Paul Coppin
Reply to  johnofenfield
June 7, 2015 5:20 am

Thing is, climate skeptics are right – “carbon dioxide increases in the atmosphere wasn’t quite as big a problem as we have been led to believe”, and it makes no damn difference to the McKibbens. His article WaPo the other day might put the lie to what you two think you may have agreed on…

Soren F
Reply to  Paul Coppin
June 7, 2015 6:18 am

I, not convinced about AD20GW (anthro-dominated 20th-c global-warming), for sure would prefer cooling now.

etudiant
June 6, 2015 3:59 pm

Excellent! Having a few beers with a fellow human being is a great way to establish a dialog.
Ideally, it should be a normal part of communications.
I’d love to see similar interactions with other AGW proponents, it would aid in bringing understanding.

Jim Waters
June 6, 2015 4:04 pm

I suggest that you change “moron” in the fourth from the last paragraph to “more on”
[Fixed, thanks. -mod]

June 6, 2015 4:05 pm

Well done both of you

Otter (ClimateOtter on Twitter)
June 6, 2015 4:07 pm

I think you meant to write ‘finely tuned’ instead of ‘finally tuned.’
Mr. McKibben, great conversation, could you sincerely and Seriously pass it on to anyone who calls us ‘deniers’?

Alan Robertson
June 6, 2015 4:08 pm

Since Daryl Hannah has been so outspoken on climate issues, maybe she’d like to get together with me and discuss…

Stevan Makarevich
Reply to  Alan Robertson
June 6, 2015 5:17 pm

She’s probably too busy, but I’m sure RK Pachauri has free time now and would love to meet with you!

Alan Robertson
Reply to  Stevan Makarevich
June 6, 2015 7:15 pm

That’s it for you! Sabers Pistols at 20 paces!

Alan Robertson
Reply to  Stevan Makarevich
June 6, 2015 7:21 pm

Oops meant to say, Cabers at 20 paces…

Mike Henderson
Reply to  Stevan Makarevich
June 7, 2015 5:00 pm

Ah, d’ye nae ken hernias?

Bruce
June 6, 2015 4:10 pm

A most interesting discussion. If it happens again I’d like to see something on the philosophy of the human ego and how it seems to go without question that just because there IS climate change, mankind MUST be causing it. Now THAT exchange would be fun!

Guy
Reply to  Bruce
June 7, 2015 3:22 am

And that it is necessarily bad and not potentially very good.

Editor
June 6, 2015 4:18 pm

“… doing this [WUWT] is little more than an extension of all my years in broadcasting.”
Aha! Finally, a statement from Anthony I have trouble believing!
Thank you Bill for contacting Anthony. One thing that is in distressingly short supply is people sitting down for a friendly chat.

Brute
Reply to  Ric Werme
June 7, 2015 4:19 am

I have trouble believing that a website with the traffic of WUWT does not generate thousands of dollars from ads. At least.

June 6, 2015 4:18 pm

” He specifically spoke of the recent flooding in Texas calling it an “unnatural outlier”, and attributed it to man-made influences on our atmospheric processes”
Having lived in Texas for a long time now, I can promise that the recent flooding event was not unusual at all. In fact, Austin has somewhat of a tradition for Memorial Day flooding.

Reply to  jvcstone
June 6, 2015 4:28 pm

McKibben doesn’t sound sufficiently technically knowledgeable to actually understand the issue he stands for – so he parrots what he hears that suits his desires.

MarkW
Reply to  jaffa68
June 6, 2015 8:17 pm

I recently had a geologist assure me that fraking was causing the earthquakes in Oklahoma because there had never been earthquakes in Oklahoma before. She persisted with this belief even after I showed her the Oklahoma geologic service page showing earthquakes going back into the 1800’s.
The fact that she had never heard of earthquakes in Oklahoma was sufficient to prove to her that earthquakes must be a new phenomena.

Alan Robertson
Reply to  jaffa68
June 6, 2015 9:19 pm

MarkW- I’ve seen that phenomena in play so many times that I’m convinced it must be coded into the human psyche, something like: “I don’t know it, so it is not true.”
It’s something which I have to be on guard against in my own responses to the world.

Reply to  jaffa68
June 7, 2015 2:27 am

McKibben doesn’t sound sufficiently technically knowledgeable to actually understand the issue he stands for – so he parrots what he hears that suits his desires.

Just like 97% of the rest of us…

Reply to  jvcstone
June 6, 2015 4:57 pm

This is true. And I really don’t like it when an ignorant activist tells me that because I drive a pickup truck, I am partially responsible for a six-year-old boy and his four-year-old sister getting swept to their deaths in the Blanco River.

Bear
Reply to  jvcstone
June 6, 2015 5:40 pm

One possible reason for the flooding getting worse? More asphalt, more concrete, more houses = more impenetrable surfaces.

TedM
Reply to  Bear
June 6, 2015 6:46 pm

Spot on.

JohnB
Reply to  Bear
June 6, 2015 7:07 pm

Exactly. The rain isn’t any worse but it can no longer soak into the ground. It immediately becomes runoff into the waterways.

DonM
Reply to  Bear
June 6, 2015 9:09 pm

Nope, even close..
Measure the man-made impervious area in Texas (or any other non northeast state) … measure the non-impervious area … divide the former by the later … you get a very small number.
Localized ponding comes from impervious areas; regional flooding is and always has been regional flooding. The fact that people build (create impervious areas) in convenient areas (near the drainage ways) is the reason that they get wet.

Billy Liar
Reply to  Bear
June 7, 2015 9:38 am

Funnily enough Texas appears high up on the list of World Record Point Precipitation Measurements having achieved a world record for the most amount of rain to fall in 2.75 hours at 22 ins (559mm). This occurred in D’Hanis in Texas on … wait for it … 31st May 1935 (four days after Memorial Day).
Source NOAA:
http://nws.noaa.gov/oh/hdsc/record_precip/record_precip_world.html

Sam The First
Reply to  Bear
June 7, 2015 2:53 pm

This is certainly the case Bear, in the UK, where we have had some catastrophic flooding in recent years.
Other factors include neglect of the waterways (no dredging etc); the Environment Agency forbidding locals to touch the minor waterways even when it was obvious to those locals (some elderly) that a problem was growing, and they had asked for action; failure to maintain floodgates which in times of heavy rain in the past has been closed upstream from a town or village by said locals, so directing floods onto the flood plains (low lying meadows) maintained for the purpose; persistent building on such floodplains in spite of all advice to the contrary – and so on, and so forth.
In other words, every single instance seems to have been due to human mismanagement in the modern way: ie, an ignorant bureauracy insisting it knows best, and ignoring the lessons of history. It then compounds the problem, by forbidding people with local knowledge to help themselves.

Reply to  jvcstone
June 6, 2015 7:00 pm

I grew up in Southern California, before the big storm drainage projects were done. The flooding looked very much like Austin and Houston. Put in a couple of trillion dollars of drainage ditches, which will be dry 99.99% of the time, and the problem will be solved. Even though it seems stupid to have large empty ditches, they would save lives and property during flood season. And be a great place to film movies and for kids to drive bicycles down during the dry seasons.

inMAGICn
Reply to  Janice the Elder
June 6, 2015 7:18 pm

“Them”

robert_g
Reply to  Janice the Elder
June 6, 2015 7:50 pm

inMAGICn
thanks for resurrecting this memory! sleepless nights as a kid.

Reply to  jvcstone
June 6, 2015 10:08 pm

If the recent flooding in Texas was an “unnatural outlier” attributable to man, why wasn’t the pronounced drought the past 3 years an unnatural outlier attributable to man — a view some organizations held.
Not only is Texas flooding a natural occurrence, Texas relies upon it. Check out the multi-year history tabs for the various reservoirs in Texas at http://www.waterdatafortexas.org/reservoirs/statewide
Lake Travis was at 37% a month ago, now at 80% with 560,000 new acre feet. Lake Medina outside San Antonio was below 4% just a month ago and is now 57%.
See also: Richland-Chambers, Sam Rayburn, Lake Tawakoni, Lake Texoma, Whitney Lake.

David Springer
Reply to  Stephen Rasey
June 7, 2015 9:23 am

Yahoo on Lake Travis! I live on the shore which is now 300 feet closer, no hazards that aren’t well known, all the boat ramps in the water, private docks mostly floating, and lots of boaters again.
Lake Buchanan however didn’t get refilled all that much. A rain bomb hit the Pedernales watershed, which feeds into the Colorado downstream of Buchanan, and Lake Travis impounded the entire thing without even reaching into its own flood plain.

Reply to  jvcstone
June 7, 2015 2:06 am

Children are easily terrified – children 30 years old and younger think that only THEIR generation has ever experienced floods, drought, storms, etc. – they see every normal storm as a human-caused event – it is like the human race under 30 has regressed into Medieval Times and I can easily imagine them looking for witches to blame…

Paul
Reply to  cartoonasaur
June 8, 2015 8:02 am

“and I can easily imagine them looking for witches to blame”
Found ’em, it’s US living our lives.

Glenn999
Reply to  jvcstone
June 7, 2015 4:54 am

Bill McKibben should have a sit down with Joe Bastardi. He would be amazed at the past weather and would start to understand how cyclical weather is. A bet you Joe would be a blast to have a beer with!

spren
Reply to  Glenn999
June 7, 2015 8:52 pm

Just a crazy guess, but seeing how Joe is from State College, PA, I bet you would have more than just one beer. I’m also from western PA and know how things are done out there.

David Springer
Reply to  jvcstone
June 7, 2015 6:13 am

I live on the shore of Lake Travis. It came up 38 feet so far. Thank God. There’s a local saying here from the old timers which I guess includes me now: Our weather is constant drought punctuated by an occasional flood. McKibben calling the flood unnatural is just him doing what he always does which is making crap up as he goes along.

Warren in New Zealand
June 6, 2015 4:19 pm

And thanks to this http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/11/05/how-i-got-my-life-back-my-hearing-has-been-restored-to-near-normal/ I just know you looked forward to the meeting, knowing you would be able to hear and understand everything Bill said, in a Bar/Restaurant.
Well done for accepting the invitation Anthony.

Reply to  Warren in New Zealand
June 7, 2015 11:28 am

Two of the most significant events in the whole global warming debate combined there, thanks Warren. This post among other things comprises a brilliant introduction for the newcomer.

markl
June 6, 2015 4:19 pm

I can’t think of too many one on one talks that wouldn’t go well with a beer. It’s good to hear that there are some warmists that will still engage in dialogue.

Paul Westhaver
June 6, 2015 4:20 pm

Anthony I have been reading and commenting on your site for many years and I have 2 observations.
I think that the description of the meeting with Bill was touching and represents a heartfelt desire of yours to bring good people together and simply talk. Great photo!
I have aggregated many of your attitudes towards the environment and global warming but never have you so succinctly assembled your major positions in such a concise array. I seem to be in relative harmony with your broader view. Likely since I read so many of your articles. Thanks.
Bill, Thank-you too for your convivial repast with Anthony. We all want to do our best to leave a better world for or children. Let us keep talking, here if you will, and close the gap in our POVs.

NoFixedAddress
June 6, 2015 4:22 pm

Anthony,
Great to see and kudos to Bill and yourself.

June 6, 2015 4:23 pm

So you only disagreed on the important points – surprise.
It sounds like McKibben isn’t a Cardinal of the Church of CAGW, just one of those people who sings along without actually understanding or thinking about what he’s doing. A true believer. If only he would sit down and have a good long think.
Anyone who thinks climate models (programmed by CAGW profiteers) must be acted on because (paraphrasing) “they’e the best information we have” is a moron, once models diverge from reality they’re useless. Following the advice of climate modelers would be fine if it only led to positive consequences, but fiddling with the economies of every country in the world while restricting the availability of cheap energy is not harmless.
I despise these people.

Reply to  jaffa68
June 6, 2015 6:23 pm

I understand your message, but your use of moron does a disservice to the skeptic side and I am sure Mr. Watts is not appreciative.
Let the other side use pejoratives as they have been, including Obama – it debases them. Over a number of years reading articles, reading postings to same, it is just plain disheartening. I know the AGW meme is driven by a political agenda; it is supported by deliberate deception that emanates from the the same Government agenda due to funding. The AGW propaganda now exists in Common Core and has existed via the media for many years. Critical thinking has been replaced by emotion and selfish interests.

Reply to  kokoda
June 8, 2015 7:35 am

I don’t even think McKibben is being political – that wouldn’t fit with instigating the meeting. I think he’s one of the useful idiots – albeit a noisy one – who understands enough to cling to the ideas put in his head but not enough to question them. A dangerous individual.

D. Cohen
Reply to  jaffa68
June 6, 2015 6:45 pm

I also despise people who resort to “feelings” when it’s time to think. Note how easy it is to go around preening about what great “feelings” you have, as opposed to doing something constructive like thinking things through. And it is completely out-of-line to respond to difficult questions with a feelings-based “How dare you!” or “I hate you!” type of response.
Historically speaking, thinking leads to study and experiment while feelings lead to people being killed in grotesque and painful ways.

David A
Reply to  D. Cohen
June 6, 2015 11:03 pm

Was Bill asked why he blew up children in a video?

David A
Reply to  D. Cohen
June 6, 2015 11:04 pm

It is a fair question, and not inflammatory. The video was inflammatory.

Philip
Reply to  D. Cohen
June 7, 2015 12:23 pm

Bill didn’t blow up children in a video. He was disgusted by the No Pressure video and stopped associating with 10:10, the organisation that produced it. http://spectator.org/blog/23768/corporate-partners-out-1010org-cosponsors

Editor
Reply to  Philip
June 7, 2015 12:27 pm

Show me his condemnation of it in public, and the subsequent total refutation and closure of that group by the climastrologist community and those who fund them. Else it sounds more like a “Darn! Why didn’t I (my group) think of something that visually stunning first?” from Gore’s apostles and priests.

takebackthegreen
Reply to  RACookPE1978
June 7, 2015 2:25 pm

In other words “I feel McKibben is a bad guy, and facts don’t change my feelings. Present me with facts and I will move the bar.”
We are hardwired to see incorrect thinking in others and ignore it in ourselves. Isn’t it great to be human?

Reply to  D. Cohen
June 8, 2015 7:37 am

He may have one too many X chromosomes.

Jay Currie
June 6, 2015 4:25 pm

Good for both of you. I have always enjoyed McKibben’s writing about nature and, despite his views on AGW, have tremendous respect for him as a writer.
These are the conversations which will remove the bile from the debate. We need many more of them.

Gary
June 6, 2015 4:26 pm

Well done, both of you, for engaging in the discussions Bill Nye was calling for just the other day. To Bill, especially, thank you for reaching out despite the criticisms you will get from less descent people. WUWT again proves it’s a place for reasonable people to have reasonable conversations about important matters without getting a bent out of shape.

Craig
June 6, 2015 4:26 pm

Bill, I will leave you with a quote from an unknown source:
“The best way to win an argument is to begin by being right.”
Bill, feelings and emotions are all very well but does that help your position when the unbiased facts get in the way?

June 6, 2015 4:27 pm

This is really interesting and soulful.

Admin
June 6, 2015 4:28 pm

The point about computer models is fascinating. As an IT expert with over 20 years of experience, I’ve noticed before that people who aren’t computer experts, often have a distorted view of what they can do.
Computers are remarkable, and are likely to become much more so – but math modelling has its limits!

Editor
Reply to  Eric Worrall
June 6, 2015 4:52 pm

One thing that would keep me from looking for a climate modeling gig is that I have no idea how one can model water in the atmosphere. One moment it’s saturating (or supersaturating) the atmosphere and doing its best to be the dominant greenhouse gas. The next moment it’s turning into a cloud and reflecting nearly all the sunlight back into space.
Maybe I could start with the Atacama Desert.

jorgekafkazar
Reply to  Ric Werme
June 6, 2015 5:21 pm

I don’t know, Ric. That Atacama is mighty small.

lee
Reply to  Ric Werme
June 6, 2015 8:11 pm

First you tip 5fl.oz. into the computer…

Planet8788
Reply to  Ric Werme
June 7, 2015 8:26 pm

Exactly Ric. I’ve said the same thing 150 times. The greatest greenhouse gas is also the greatest albedo. And we still know squat about how, why and when certain clouds form.

Dave Worley
Reply to  Ric Werme
June 8, 2015 8:13 pm

It’s not just the albedo effect of clouds. It’s radiant energy high in the troposphere during the phase change. Just look at any IR satellite photo. Photons into space.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
June 6, 2015 5:12 pm

And until the first sentient computer program arises from sufficient complexity that can pass true Turing tests and exhibit novel emergent behaviors, then those climate models simply produce the “finely tuned” results the creators expected.

jorgekafkazar
Reply to  joelobryan
June 6, 2015 5:27 pm

Yes. “Novel emergent behaviors.” But novels are fiction, and so are all climate models. They’re combinations of determinate, stochastic, or empirical modules, each with their own pitfalls, tiny butterflies of ignorance, lurking to flap up a tornado where you least expect it.

Karl Compton
Reply to  Eric Worrall
June 9, 2015 2:04 pm

There was a famous paper written back in the days of Token Ring vs. Ethernet. sometime around 1990, by Boggs et al that recounted a well-known model by another group whose name escapes me (but whose products may have been Inferior But Marketable) that ‘proved’ that Ethernet didn’t work beyond about 37% capacity. The fact that it demonstrably did, however, wasn’t of interest to the ‘Smokin’ Ring’ zealots, who touted it widely to demonstrate how much better their flavor of Kool-Aid was. In this case, the error in the model (failure to model the random fallback after a collision) was easy to find, and at first glance trivial, but it lead to a huge variance from reality.
Now Ethernet is not trivial, but compared to climate it is dead simple, clearly understood in great detail, and has a tiny number of moving parts; if ‘experts’ had trouble modeling something as simple as Ethernet, there’s no real hope of closely modeling something as ill-understood and wildly complex as real-world climate. There are two currently insurmountable problems: 1: You can’t accurately model what you don’t understand well, and 2: Current technology just doesn’t have the power to accurately model something as complex as global climate on a sufficiently fine scale to give reasonable accuracy.
But hey, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…

Dawtgtomis
June 6, 2015 4:29 pm

Anthony, thank you for giving your all, trying to save humanity from the harm of those who are trying to save the planet from humanity’s presence.

June 6, 2015 4:34 pm

Anthony you take a lot of heat in this debate, so I am glad you are making more friends on the other side where possible. In the long run it will pay off.
“But I do think he perceives things more on a feeling or emotional level and translates that into words and actions. People that are more factual and pragmatic might see that as an unrealistic response.”
Unfortunately this is the problem with even the most reasonable on the other side of the debate. They confuse their personal feelings with factual evidence.

Dawtgtomis
Reply to  Poptech
June 6, 2015 5:10 pm

Oddly, when confronted with reality-borne evidence, they respond with: “I guess it’s all what you choose to believe”.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Yogyakarta
Reply to  Dawtgtomis
June 6, 2015 6:36 pm

Dawtgtomis
I noticed this and it confirms what Anthony observed about acting on feelings ‘whatever the evidence’. The perceptions that feed confirmation bias reinforce feelings whether ‘right’ or not. Making a decision to believe that ‘things are going wrong and mankind is probably responsible’ are very common in tribal cultures around the world.
Western adventurers reacted in horror when ‘locals’ sacrificed virgins to appease volcanoes, denigrating then mostly for not understanding cause and effect. Why didn’t they understand cause? Ignorance about how the world works.
350.org feeds on ignorance about how things work. 350.org relies heavily for ‘success’ on guessing that things work is a way that supports the feelings they already have. Contradicting physical evidence is dismissed using a variety techniques which, if they fail, are substituted with blunt denial that either the evidence exists or stating that it has no real meaning.
350.org concentrates heavily on children, delivering ‘believe us’ messages and offering ‘a chance to get involved’ while defining the entire process to keep it within the church of CO2. It limits the library of resources and the films the children should watch decrying unapproved sources as misleading traps set by corporate ogres.
Independent investigation of truth, what should be the hallmark of youth of that age, is discouraged to the point where the thoughts, actions and enemies are selected and defined by 350.org – the opposite of what a good teacher does. ‘Climate’ is now a cult in every sense of the word.
Cartoon ‘deniers’ are metaphorically held up like piñatas to be beaten and the beaters are rewarded with sweets when they tear into the mock demons. This is neither science nor education. It is indoctrination.
Bill’s fundamental mistrust of fundamental physical processes and their impact on ‘the volcano’ doesn’t surprise me in the least. I have experienced this type of belief-response multiple times. So I offer the following observation:
When beliefs are contradicted by scientific facts it moves those beliefs from the “Might be” column over to the “Superstition” column. 350.org indoctrinated youth in multiple superstitions and seeks money to indoctrinate more.
To discern the difference between a fact like a temperature reading and a mistaken calculation like the ‘trend’ in Karl et al 2015 one needs enough understanding to perform conceptual and logical analyses. That 350.org concentrates their indoctrination of that population group that does not yet have a mature skill set is telling. Lacking the skills themselves to spot something as incompetent (alternatively, mendacious) as Karl et al 2015 they nevertheless feel quite justified in promulgating their feelings about factual matters and anointing as Enemies of Good those who see through the nonsense that is the modern catastrophist movement.
Bill, learn more, consume a balanced diet of information and help rid the world of this fanatical, destructive cult. Teach thinking and analytical skills, not the porridge of mystical attribution flavoured with the salts of bitter belief and self-deprecation.

ECB
Reply to  Dawtgtomis
June 7, 2015 4:25 am

Crispen:
Well said. What you described is “anti-science” and Bill is very effective at it. CBC Canada is doing a series on science and it makes a big deal about us skeptics being anti-science. Bill would fit right in with his propaganda, The CBC says it is the returning of the dark ages. I would agree, but they have it backwards, as science begins with skepticism.

GoFigure560
Reply to  Dawtgtomis
June 7, 2015 12:40 pm

What’s depressing is that the same thing is going on now in both medicine and cosmology. Alternative health practices can get a doctor into BIG trouble. In the meantime the “big-bang” cosmologists are compounding their bogus hypothesis by continuing to add more speculation – dark matter, dark energy, expanding space, distant galaxies and stars moving away at enormous speed. All due to their firm belief in “red-shift” and that gravity is the only force to consider in outer space. Never mind that satellites see electricity everywhere, and that there are some 40 quasars now which have proper motion.

Yirgach
Reply to  Dawtgtomis
June 8, 2015 6:24 am

A good definition of “Cognitive Dissonance”…

June 6, 2015 4:34 pm

This is very cool. Good for you both.

June 6, 2015 4:37 pm

Wow. Bravo to you both for agreeing to meet civilly and privately (no fuss or looking for a media moment) and then sharing your experience so candidly. It gives me hope. And I’ll even admit that some of my impressions of Mr. McKibbon might be incorrect and that I look forward to more evidence of this nature to prove it.

Frank Lee
June 6, 2015 4:38 pm

Unless I missed it, you neglected to note if you talked about whether people on one side should even enter into a scientific debate with people from the other side. That, it seems to me, is the critical division. Skeptics, like most scientists, say the debate should be ongoing. Warmists, like most religious fanatics, insist that there should be no debate, the debate is over, etc. Did you even bring this point up? Did you suggest to McKibben that he should shame warmists who insist that no scientific debate should be allowed? It’s hard to see this field of study going forward when more than half (97%?–just kidding) of the participants have their ears plugged.

Marnof
June 6, 2015 4:38 pm

Civility. Conversation. Craft brew. The world needs more of this and I’m quite grateful that this meeting was made public, and so eloquently, at that.
Very insightful look into the thinking and emotions of McKibben. That being said, I would have been tempted to ask him if he planned to update his website to, say, 400.org? The 350 is a bit passé.

Dawtgtomis
Reply to  Marnof
June 6, 2015 4:56 pm

Respectfully to Mr. Mckibben, 400 ppm Co2 is making west-central Illinois an explosion of growth. 60″ oats are common right now and the corn planted in late April is waist high. all that CO2 needs is a little H2O and away we grow!

Dawtgtomis
Reply to  Dawtgtomis
June 6, 2015 5:16 pm

incidentally, it’s been cooler than normal for the most part on my farm.

Reply to  Dawtgtomis
June 6, 2015 5:29 pm

That’s the only real green revolution that isn’t a consumer fraud.

D.J. Hawkins
Reply to  Dawtgtomis
June 8, 2015 9:53 am

I don’t know if it was universal or local to New Jersey, but the determination if we’d have a good corn crop was the saying “Knee high by the 4th of July”. By that measure, you’re WAY ahead!

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Yogyakarta
Reply to  Marnof
June 6, 2015 7:34 pm

Marnof, don’t be too impressed. The meeting in Yalta was civil too.
Helping understand Bill helps me deal more effectively with the damage he is doing on campuses with his organisation.
We should keep reinforcing the message of facts about the climate and reminding people they have a personal and unavoidable responsibility to learn to find, analyse and digest information and think for themselves. Self-appointed, unelected ‘leaders’ such as Hanson and McKibben and others in the Cli-Sci-Die movement are exactly what children need to study for methods, faults and fanatics. Nothing is so difficult about climate science that others cannot learn it. There is no need for a host of cloistered sages to interpret entrails, save they be the guts of these pernicious climate models of futures past.

Reply to  Marnof
June 7, 2015 12:13 am

I believe Hartland invite many folk holding the warming belief to speak at their conferences. Perhaps Bill et al should accept so we can both hear what they claim and the basis for it, and know they are also listening to the skeptical side, with the ability to ask questions and debate.
Dialog is important and Anthony is to be congratulated for doing this. I hope Bill reflects on the difference of acting from an emotional basis to acting from an informed, factual one. As has been mentioned, (re)acting emotionally often has dangerous and disastrous consequences.

stevefitzpatrick
June 6, 2015 4:39 pm

Anthony,
“People that are more factual and pragmatic might see that as an unrealistic response.”
And there you have most of the disagreement in a few words. Of course people who view the world primarily through rational analysis will disagree with “touchy-feely” types. So it has always been. The important issue is which of those two views of the world will guide public policy. It is a crucially important question with huge long term impacts, especially for the poorest of people…. the $2 per day and less poor. I would like to ask Bill how much effort he exerts on behalf of those poor people.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Yogyakarta
Reply to  stevefitzpatrick
June 6, 2015 7:45 pm

Good question. The money spent on Big Green subsidies is enough to double the income of the $2 a day population. That is the impact equivalent of doubling every harvest.
There is another waste that should not be overlooked. The value of tanks lost in the Six Day War (alone) could have built a hospital in every major city in Africa and staffed it for ten years.
The climateers are even claiming Syrian refugees are partly climate refugees. Climate needs an equal sized slice of the pie. That’s the message. Now we see the emergence of the military-climate complex that is literally planning to take over governments. The military needs viable enemies and the climateers need viable demon-species, even if they both have to fabricate them out of whole cloth. The only fodder left will be ‘cannon’.

Phil
June 6, 2015 4:54 pm

One question I would like to see Bill address: why, exactly, is the earth warming a *bad* thing, if the alternatives are taken into account? This (https://xkcd.com/1225/) has become, to me, iconic in pointing out that ice ages are approximately infinitely worse than the world getting warmer and the residual ice melting away. Statistically, cold kills far people than heat.

Dawtgtomis
Reply to  Phil
June 6, 2015 5:30 pm

..and does he have any idea what solar cycle 25 might be bringing, and how the CO2 concentration might help ease the cooling which historically has occurred when solar activity and heliospheric density are lower than normal?
Additionally, how does CO2 concentration make an effect on the PDO and AMO? When both are negative does CO2 offset the cooling?
This would be valuable to know!

rogerknights
Reply to  Phil
June 7, 2015 10:45 pm

The main worry is sea level rise, which would cause huge damage if the world’s coastal cities got inundated at high tide or in storms.

snopercod
June 6, 2015 4:57 pm

Wasn’t Bill McKibben the one who wrote, “Until such time as Homo Sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.”? Personally, I would have no desire to share a beer with a nut like that.

snopercod
Reply to  Anthony Watts
June 7, 2015 5:14 am

I did Bing before posting and it came up Bill McKibben as the author of that quote. Sorry for the error.

Andrew S
June 6, 2015 5:02 pm

Good article. Really appreciate these sort of meetings are happening.

June 6, 2015 5:03 pm

350.org opposition to Keystone XL pipeline is purely symbolic, endangering the lives of everyone who lives within several hundred metres of active railroad oil transport route. I would ask him to go to Lac Magantic, Quebec and talk to those who lost family, friends, homes, and businesses. Or of any of the several communities here in the lower 48 where there have been deadly oil train derailments. If he wants to understand the costs to real people of opposition to oil pipelines, start there.

June 6, 2015 5:04 pm

More cow bell, er… dialogue!
Thanks to Bill and Anthony for sitting down mano-et-mano to discuss the topic of our times. May it bring more dialogue and direct us away from policy lunacy driven by bad science.

Mickey Reno
Reply to  Gary K
June 6, 2015 6:51 pm

Mano a mano means hand-to-hand. If Bill and Anthony meet mano a mano, that means they’re fighting with fists and knives and bayonets. I suppose in a very literal sense, a cordial handshake COULD be considered going mano a mano, but that is not the normal interpretation.

AB
June 6, 2015 5:05 pm

A positive development. I hope we see more of it!

jorgekafkazar
June 6, 2015 5:12 pm

“Bill responded with he doesn’t know those people but he believed that Dr. James Hansen had integrity.”
There’s something I agree with Bill on. I believe in Hansen’s sincerity. I also believe he (Hansen) is as wrong as he can be. I won’t assess Bill in this context; I think he was brave and doing the right thing just to reach out and show up. Well, done, Bill.
I think many issues of great disagreement devolve about different premises, including the relative importance of feelings and facts, and long-term vs. short-term considerations. I think Democrats greatly favor short-term solutions; Republicans generally prefer long-term solutions.
Who is right? Often we can’t tell until it’s too late, but I think a large fraction of the short-term fixes we’ve had foisted upon us have ultimately caused far greater disasters than the problems they were intended to solve. ¿What is your freedom worth, that is the true question before us now.
Great post, Anthöny.

Reply to  jorgekafkazar
June 6, 2015 5:38 pm

I have long suspected that despite the mistake of combining activism with a scientist’s own field of study (an impossible combination), Hanson left GISS because he didn’t want to participate in the data manipulation being demanded from on-high. Only Hanson though really knows the answer to that.

Admin
Reply to  jorgekafkazar
June 6, 2015 7:43 pm

Hansen’s mistake is he goes further than the evidence permits, IMO.
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/04/10/why-a-compelling-theory-is-not-enough/

Reply to  jorgekafkazar
June 6, 2015 8:42 pm

I have a hard time believing Hansen has any integrity . His all too widely believed claim that Venus is a “runaway” is the most trivially quantitatively provable scare story in this whole determined stupidity . If it is not willful , it is in any case an unconscionable failure to understand the basics of radiative heat transfer .

Amatør1
Reply to  jorgekafkazar
June 7, 2015 1:37 am

I believe in Hansen’s sincerity.

I believe he got caught in something he originally didn’t understand, and it snowballed out of control for political reasons. He did not see any way out of it and had to play along, even though he had figured out the deception long ago. To me it isn’t being sincere.

jorgekafkazar
Reply to  Amatør1
June 7, 2015 3:13 pm

You may be right, but we have no proof of that. I think it’s far more likely that he knows the truth only at an unconscious level, and is able to maintain his faith by suppressing what he knows, not letting it reach his conscious mind. He’s able to rapidly quash any nagging doubts by focusing on the fact that he’s a savior of the world.

Jim Keil
Reply to  jorgekafkazar
June 8, 2015 12:25 pm

Hansen is sincere. Some of my lefty friends did not like him and I could not understand why. Then I discovered that his policy prescription was to ramp up nuclear power for the near future. Now I get the picture.

June 6, 2015 5:18 pm

Great Post Mr Watts, I think you encapsulate the major divide beautifully.
Logic versus Emotion.
Some of us, having been educated by the school of hard knocks, try to focus on what is, rather than what we feel should be.
Actions speak louder than good intentions, Mr McKibben becomes an idiot in my eyes, when he projects emotional certainty onto weather.
This is the problem of arguing with the catastrophic averting citizens, no logic, no historic records, no facts seem to register , they just do not matter, when the concerned persons know that how they feel is more important.
Most of them are very nice people in every way, except for their desire to surrender all our individual rights to forstall an imaginary doom.
Conform to the norm, to avoid emotional brainstorm?

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
June 6, 2015 5:25 pm

Excellent reporting.
Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

June 6, 2015 5:26 pm

Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:

Face to face discussion. Good.

Niff
June 6, 2015 5:26 pm

A very important example for us all. If we could all discuss this topic on the basis of our thoughts and feelings we might move it forward. Otherwise we have to assume that it is a deceitful, agenda-driven cause unrelated to reality.

Reply to  Niff
June 6, 2015 7:47 pm

No need to assume.

David Sivyer Western Australia
June 6, 2015 5:29 pm

An enjoyable read, Anthony.
A transient thought just shuffled through the grey room.
Your thoughts of Bill being guided more by feelings is interesting and brings intuition into play.
Intuition and “gut” feelings can be overpowering, anchor an idea and resist all attempts to shift it.
It just may be that by appealing to people’s “goodness” through argument associated with polar bears & butterflies, the less pragmatic of us will follow the path which provides personal comfort by “siding” with Nature.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Yogyakarta
Reply to  David Sivyer Western Australia
June 6, 2015 7:48 pm

It is also the root of confirmation bias.

tobyglyn
June 6, 2015 5:35 pm

A really great post and a perfect example of one of the many reasons I keep coming back here.
Respect +++ to both Bill McKibben Anthony Watts!

wacojoe
June 6, 2015 5:36 pm

It may be so simple as that an empath is spring-loaded to look for human cause of misery as a source of easy blame, when the fact is that Mother Nature is often a bitch unaided by man. It would be interesting to know how Mr. McKibben explains impact on the “Earth’s-atmosphere-as-finely-tuned” of the regular ~100,000 year 12 degree of fluctuation of global temperatures without human assistance. Perhaps with a bit of study, realization will come that natural forces have far more impact than do we.

Gamecock
June 6, 2015 5:41 pm

Picture not labeled . . . I assume Anthony is the good looking one.

Alan Robertson
Reply to  Anthony Watts
June 6, 2015 7:06 pm

… and double entendre, or not, black tongues will start to wag, but no matter. Some will seek the context of those words and thus will find that you carry daylight into dark corners.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
June 7, 2015 2:46 am

Right you are. 😉

Richard of NZ
Reply to  Anthony Watts
June 7, 2015 4:26 pm

No no, you are to Mr. McKibben’s left.
p.s. what would be the best smilie?

June 6, 2015 5:41 pm

Glad so many are enjoying the love-fest, and I’ve no doubt Bill can be a pleasant fellow, but I regard him as unforgivably ignorant.. He owed it to himself…as a man of principle if that’s what he is…to get himself educated. Failure to do so goes directly to character.
(aka pokerguy)

Reply to  aneipris
June 6, 2015 5:46 pm

Should probably be “owes” ….present tense. A man of fairness and integrity should walk away from such a frank discussion with Anthony, asking himself some important questions.

nigelf
June 6, 2015 5:42 pm

This meeting was a wonderful thing and I commend Bill for reaching out. I too have a different perspective of Bill McKibbon now after reading this.
Kudos to both of you.

Caleb
June 6, 2015 5:42 pm

Thanks for reaching out. However I fear McKibbin will now be investigated by Senator Whitehouse and subjected to RICO laws. And I must admit you two do look a bit like gangsters, in that photo. Or…maybe not gangsters…maybe it is just the two beers. But Senator Whitehouse will surely feel you two look suspicious. /Sarc
For what its worth, here is my two cents about writers and “feelings.”
Writers are after Truth, just as scientists are after Truth (if they are any good). Just because writers are perhaps employing intuition more than scientists are allowed to do does not give writers an excuse to promote falsehood. They need to be humble, and not pretend to be smarter than they are, and it is very important (and refreshing) for writers to admit their mistakes.
In the August, 2006 National Geographic McKibben contributed an essay called, “A Deeper Shade Of Green,” which contained ideas he got from Kerry Emanuel suggesting Global Warming was creating hurricanes of unprecedented size. Some of the predictions within that essay have not turned out to be accurate. Now that he has had nearly a decade to double-check the premises contained in that essay, McKibben should be able to say “I was wrong” about a few things. It is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign you are older and wiser, and love Truth more than your own ego.
Also I wish McKibben would write about his experiences at Harvard and at The New Yorker magazine. That must have been an interesting and unique journey, and his insights would contain lots he knows about, whereas hurricanes and extreme weather events are things he knows less about.

Reply to  Caleb
June 6, 2015 6:38 pm

Yet, McKibben still harbors weather events due to AGW even after provided with data that prove otherwise. This is not a result of scientific review, but of an emotional response. This is a prevalent disease of the human animal and I do not know how to counter same.

Caleb
Reply to  kokoda
June 6, 2015 6:52 pm

I no longer expect an immediate response, but have the hope that persistence and patience will slowly but surely wake people up. It takes time for a starfish to open an oyster.
Also I kept a diary when I was in my teens and twenties. When I reread it I cringe, for what an idiot I was, at times! It took me a long time, and a number of debacles, to learn some fairly simple things.

Tom Trevor
Reply to  kokoda
June 7, 2015 6:09 pm

If someone doesn’t want to be thought of as an idiot, they ought to try to reduce the number of idiotic things they do or say (everyone has done some idiotic things). Refusing to talk about the science sure make it seem like that person either doesn’t know the science or is only interested in the science that supports his view, that isn’t real science. Mckibben only has himself to blame for being thought of as an idiot.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Yogyakarta
Reply to  Caleb
June 6, 2015 7:55 pm

Caleb, some writers are shills. They are after money and steady work. Fame wouldn’t hurt at all either. One of the smartest of the writers is Monbiot yet look at the outrageous things he puts out. He is shilling. He is so smart he understood the short and long term implications of the ClimateGate emails in a few minutes and moved fast to cover his butt in case it went nuclear, which it didn’t.
CAGW is filled with wile and guile and bile. 350.org is a marketing agent led by a true believer. I hold the Guardian and the BBC more culpable.

Wharfplank
June 6, 2015 5:44 pm

I’m glad your meeting was civil and cutlery was only used for the food, but my opinion of a man who arranges other peoples children, at their teachers behest, into the shape of 350, photographs them and posts the images for his “mission”, will never change.

June 6, 2015 5:47 pm

Plus one to each of the above two comments and of course, the civilized
communication btxt Anthony W and Bill McK.

Mike M.
June 6, 2015 5:51 pm

It is nice to here of people from the sides being able to have a civilized conversation. Kudos to both Watts and McKibbon.
I think the “finely tuned” comment is telling. If you believe that, and that nature is in a “delicate balance”, then it is “obvious” that if we cause any major change, the results will likely be catastrophic. Details as to the actual value of climate sensitivity or specific effects don’t matter. The science is settled and the debate is over.
The question then is how do you try to get such a person to see the other side? I think one has to start by getting them to see that those of us who disagree with them see nature as robust and fully able to cope with a changing climate, and that climate changes all on its own even without any help from us. Then further civilized discussion becomes possible.

EternalOptimist
June 6, 2015 6:09 pm

I would say that Bill is one of those fellows who is easily daunted, while he would think me reckless. It takes all sorts to make the world. Well done Anthony. and Bill

Peter Brunson
June 6, 2015 6:09 pm

Locally there has been a softening with an effort to be more congenial.
I fear it is just the latest tactic to deal with skeptical folks.

Mickey Reno
June 6, 2015 6:11 pm

I’d be interested in both seeing Bill McKibben post a reply here to offer his judgement on the accuracy of Anthony’s report, and then to hear about his side’s reaction to this meeting with Anthony.
I can imagine lots of derision of the general flavor, “Bill, you’re giving credibility and attention to deniers.”
I’d like to know about that. Bill?

Rick
June 6, 2015 6:15 pm

I read McKibben’s book “Long Distance: A Year of Living Strenuously” when it was first published in 2000. Much of it I truly enjoyed, but some of it was imbued with worry about the poor season of XC season he had as he authored the book and his father was dying. It was unsettling to the point that even though I would recommend it to friends, I always had a cautionary note warning them there were things to look past.
I think he is an emotional man to the point where he becomes passionate to the point of blindness. And one cannot deny, his worrying about the fate of the planet has served him very well financially.

Streetcred
June 6, 2015 6:20 pm

Mazel! To the both of you … now if we can just get McKibben to engage with factual reality.

Charlie
June 6, 2015 6:25 pm

The debate needs more of these meetings with the non crazies on both sided. Then eventually on the mainstream media. This is honest. This is not a show.

PiperPaul
Reply to  Charlie
June 6, 2015 7:43 pm

But it is a show, for the True Believers.
“The followers of a mass movement see themselves on the march with drums beating and colors flying. They are participators in a soul-stirring drama played to a vast audience–generations gone and generations yet to come. They are made to feel they are not their real selves but actors playing a role, and their doing a ‘performance’, rather than as the real thing.”
The True Believer
Eric Hoffer
1951

Reply to  PiperPaul
June 7, 2015 12:52 pm

So perfect a fit – with regard to the green peas and 350s here in Seattle, protesting Shell as it preps for the coming summers activities in the arctic. BM may not be an idiot, however his actions and almost religious emotional sound bites sure make him out to be one.
350.org flies the colors, beats their drums.

bones
June 6, 2015 6:32 pm

Did Bill say anything about his sources and amounts of funds?

Bennett In Vermont
Reply to  bones
June 6, 2015 8:24 pm

No, but he paid for lunch and tipped 25%…

Reply to  Bennett In Vermont
June 7, 2015 12:53 pm

he paid 97 % of the lunch bill and tipped three – fifty.

Mike Smith
June 6, 2015 6:37 pm

Gentlemen at work.
Kudos to both of you!

David A
Reply to  Mike Smith
June 7, 2015 6:37 am

Not certain Bill is a “gentlemen” Was Bill asked why he blew up children in a video?
It is a fair question, and not inflammatory. The video was inflammatory and not the mark of a
“Gentlemen” . The phrase, “The road to hell is paved with sincerity” does have an appropriate application,
I would have liked to see this question respectfully asked.

commieBob
June 6, 2015 6:41 pm

I could tell that his perspective was one of empathy as were many of his concerns. But I came away with the impression that Bill feels such things more than he understands them in a physical sense.

Facts and logic are highly over-rated. Seriously.

If you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it; for in many ways his mind moves all the quicker for not being delayed by the things that go with good judgment. He is not hampered by a sense of humour or by charity, or by the dumb certainties of experience. He is the more logical for losing certain sane affections. Indeed, the common phrase for insanity is in this respect a misleading one. The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason. http://www.pagebypagebooks.com/Gilbert_K_Chesterton/Orthodoxy/The_Maniac_p3.html

Logic and facts disconnected from something like ‘gut feeling’ are just as dangerous as ‘gut feeling’ divorced from facts and logic.

Charlie
Reply to  commieBob
June 6, 2015 6:56 pm

Well there is a time for feelings and passion. Climate skeptics have these human qualities like anybody else. Climate change should be about science and logic though. That is all.

commieBob
Reply to  Charlie
June 7, 2015 2:46 am

I am a skeptic because Michael Mann tried to erase the Medieval Warm Period. My knowledge of history told me he was wrong.
Your gut feeling will alert you to when you should be wary of so called ‘Facts’ and ‘Logic’. Facts and logic will tell you when you should not trust your gut feelings. You need both.
Part of your brain puts things in context. It isn’t articualte whereas the part of your brain that handles logic also handles speech and is therefore quite articulate. When a ‘fact’ conflicts with a person’s lived experience that should cause an alarm from the part of the brain that puts things in context. Since that part of the brain is inarticulate, the alarm takes the form of something like a gut feeling.
Sane people have the ability to check ‘facts’ and ‘logic’ against their lived experience. Insane people lack that ability.

Amatør1
Reply to  commieBob
June 7, 2015 2:12 am

Logic and facts disconnected from something like ‘gut feeling’ are just as dangerous as ‘gut feeling’ divorced from facts and logic.

Intuition without logical data collection and critical thinking is being a dangerous cultist. Data collection without intuition is being a book-keeper with no interest in the sums. A true scientist must use intuition to generate hypotheses. He must also use factual data + critical thinking to try to dismantle the same ideas in every possible way.
What remains may be of some value.

June 6, 2015 6:49 pm

A good story, Anthony. I can see now some more dialogue, such as Bill McKibben in discussion with, for example the Idso Brothers at ‘co2science’, for further education. CO2 is not the boogeyman his side perceives, but is a huge benefit in higher concentrations.

johann wundersamer
June 6, 2015 6:49 pm

For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men–
Shakespeare saw it.
____
appeasement isn’t negotiations.
Al Gore, Ghengis Khan, Pachauri – womanizers don’t tend politics but dynastic strategies.
____
can’t help but I see US as strongly naive.
Regards – Hans

Alan Robertson
Reply to  johann wundersamer
June 6, 2015 9:39 pm

Thanks Hans- If civilization would once again embrace the study of Shakespeare, perhaps more of us would operate from a point closer to the profound nature of Shakespeare’s mind (with some Mencken thrown in for good measure.)

K. Kilty
June 6, 2015 6:52 pm

Using empathy to deal with things one does not understand well, especially if one can command a large number of others who also feel deeply and do not understand, is where the phrase about paving the road to hell came from.
McKibbens has said he wishes that Obama would simply outlaw fossil fuels. Authoritarian, simple-minded, and likely to cause unimaginable damage. I’d love to know if he actually wishes for such a thing, or if his words were mangled in some way.

k. kilty
Reply to  K. Kilty
June 7, 2015 8:11 am

I see that McKibben showed up here 8 minutes after I posted this question and didn’t bother to address it. If he thinks nuclear energy is a thing of the past because it is “expensive as sin” he ought to ponder how expensive poverty is.

Editor
Reply to  k. kilty
June 7, 2015 10:08 am

k. kilty

I see that McKibben showed up here 8 minutes after I posted this question and didn’t bother to address it. If he thinks nuclear energy is a thing of the past because it is “expensive as sin” he ought to ponder how expensive poverty is.

But, by his own actions and the evidence of his organization’s goals and methods, Bill McKibben does seek to end poverty worldwide. By demanding the early death in unneeded squalor of billions of innocent poor people by denying them access to cheap energy, clean water, good roads and brideges and canals and water treatment, and pumps, and pipes, and buildings, and refrigerators, and clean food storage areas in well-lit homes with power, water, lights, and plumbing.

Michael 2
June 6, 2015 6:54 pm

That’s a refreshing report. I look forward to more.

June 6, 2015 7:03 pm

Just a couple of points
1) It doesn’t actually bother me when people call me an idiot–I’m used to it, and it’s always possible it’s true
2) I don’t think thorium or cold fusion or anything like it is the future of power; I’d wager all things nuclear are mostly relics of the past, in no small part because they cost like sin. But the point I was trying to make is that the new fact in the world is the remarkably rapid fall in the price of renewable energy. That solar panels cost so much less than they did just a few years ago strikes me as a destabilizing factor for anyone’s world view
3) Sierra Nevada beer is even better fresh out of the tap at the brewery than it is in a bottle
I had a fine evening at the Masonic Hall in Chico following with a large crowd of local environmentalists, celebrating the week’s many big divestment victories. For the record, I mentioned my drink with Anthony and no one hissed or groaned. A few did chuckle.

bones
Reply to  Bill McKibben (@billmckibben)
June 6, 2015 7:17 pm

I think that we are all for more renewable energy but unless one wants to destroy the world economy, we will have to rely heavily on fossil fuels for another two or more decades.

Reply to  bones
June 7, 2015 9:53 am

“There is a time to every purpose under heaven.”
I say let economics sort out our energy sources. If oil ever gets too expensive, alternatives will rise naturally, on their own merits. Government subsidy only skews the economics. subsidy doesn’t justify the alternatives or make them more viable.

Tsk Tsk
Reply to  Bill McKibben (@billmckibben)
June 6, 2015 7:36 pm

2) I don’t think thorium or cold fusion or anything like it is the future of power; I’d wager all things nuclear are mostly relics of the past, in no small part because they cost like sin. But the point I was trying to make is that the new fact in the world is the remarkably rapid fall in the price of renewable energy. That solar panels cost so much less than they did just a few years ago strikes me as a destabilizing factor for anyone’s world view

Just more green wishful thinking. Nuclear “costs like sin” because of the regulatory burden placed on it from your camp coupled with a patently broken system of torts in this country. In actuality we can (and are) recertify the older, fully-depreciated nuclear fleet to get decades more life out of them. Their production cost/kWh blows away even the disingenuous numbers that the greens like to claim for their feel good projects.
Now let’s talk about future possibilities. MSR’s –no reason you have to go to Thorium, but it would be convenient because you have a huge radioactive waste problem mining the rare earths you need for your panels and your pinwheels– would be substantially cheaper to produce than existing PWR and BWR designs. Some of the most expensive failure modes of PWR/BWR designs simply can’t happen with molten fuels, i.e. there’s no water and no Zirconia so there can be no hydrogen explosions. And these designs would be capable of load following. Really, they’re your only hope for being the wizard behind the curtain propping up your green fantasy.
So called renewables have managed to reduce costs of some components (panels and turbines) but completely neglect the single largest expense: labor. That cost is only rising, so the notion that solar is going to save us is, well, something beginning with the letter ‘i.’ There is no magic bullet on energy storage, so these technologies have not and will not replace base load capacity for decades, if ever. And since there is no scalable, cost-effective grid storage, you’re left with running conventional plants in just about the worst maintenance and economic regime possible. You’re either spinning reserve just burning fuel but generating no return, or you’re rapidly-cycling reserve which is artificially aging your asset prematurely and driving up costs (see Germany if you’d like a modern example). NONE of that cost is included in so called renewables, which in my opinion is pure fraud.
Finally, we haven’t even broached the obscene amount of subsidy that green projects have received for decades. And no, I’m not really interested in the OECD report that quotes just how much vehicle fuel subsidy Venezuela, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc. give to their citizens. I’m talking about the per kWh subsidy that each form of energy receives in the developed world and specifically in the US. It’s disgusting just how much is stolen from taxpayers so that a few well-off, upper middle to upper class socialists can feel good about themselves. If you want to put up shiny panels on your roof, that’s your business. I won’t try stop you. But stop stealing my money to subsidize your hobby.

dmh
Reply to  Bill McKibben (@billmckibben)
June 6, 2015 7:54 pm

Bill McKibben;
That solar panels cost so much less than they did just a few years ago strikes me as a destabilizing factor for anyone’s world view
If they were FREE and 100% efficient they STILL would not be able to replace fossil fuels. Most of our energy use is NOT electricity, and even accepting the flawed premise that they might be free and 100% efficient, they STILL would not be able power our electricity needs by themselves.
More to the point, if your claim that their decreasing costs are a “destabilizing factor for anyone’s world view” is true, then there would be no need for subsidies, carbon credit schemes, or the propaganda efforts from which you and your organization earn a living. If your statement was true, then adoption would be ramping up on its own by governments and private industry alike.

David Springer
Reply to  dmh
June 7, 2015 7:00 am

Yeah, actually solar cells would be able to replace fossil fuels if the cells are free. No need to be more efficient just free. You see, if you have free electricity you can use it to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Once you have free hydrogen the world is your oyster.
Recycling CO2 into Sustainable Hydrocarbon Fuels: Electrolysis of CO2 and H2O

markl
Reply to  Bill McKibben (@billmckibben)
June 6, 2015 7:54 pm

Bill McKibben commented: ” That solar panels cost so much less than they did just a few years ago strikes me as a destabilizing factor for anyone’s world view.”
And yet very few people can afford them nor can they replace current energy sources. Everyone should want to save our environment but never, ever, at the price of humanity. Fresh beer is tough to beat but I can only drink a couple of gallons at a sitting.

mebbe
Reply to  markl
June 6, 2015 9:22 pm

Well. there we have it!
Anthony had a “one-on-one meeting with Bill McKibben” and Bill McKibben had a “drink with Anthony”.
Civility is good; it helps us avoid fisticuffs and we can find some common ground.
I agree with Bill that it’s possible that he is an idiot. 😉

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Yogyakarta
Reply to  Bill McKibben (@billmckibben)
June 6, 2015 8:20 pm

Bill, I am organising a response to your 350.org sponsored attempt to get Queens University to divest themselves, along with dozens of other universities, of all investments in oil, gas and coal around the world and every company and fund that has an iota of such an investment themselves. It is my one man one comment response to a plan that would have the result, if taken to its logical conclusion, of bringing Canadian society to a halt, leaving about 30 million people to freeze in the dark. No greater catastrophe could befall this nation.
The plan is manifestly evil, and if it is not intended to extend to its logical conclusion, patently facetious. You are training young Canadians to call an entire economic sector ‘racist’ while seeking to close the industry that provides the tax revenue to fund Alberta’s entire social welfare and school system on aboriginal lands.
It is apparently your ‘feeling’ that health, welfare, agriculture, manufacturing and transport should cease using oil products. May the Titanic of your ambition hit the iceberg of Canadian intelligence and insight.

dmh
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo but really in Yogyakarta
June 6, 2015 9:12 pm

I think those that are congratulating McKibben for having a civil discussion with Anthon_ny should read Crispin’s comment above over an over until they get it. Judge McKibben not by his civil discussion that he knew full well would get reported, but by his actual actions. The lobby efforts he supports, the policies he promotes, and the negative consequences, DIRE negative consequences for millions, perhaps billions, that he ignores in pursuit of more funding for his activism. Judge him by his actions, for they alone define him.

David A
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo but really in Yogyakarta
June 7, 2015 6:44 am

I agree. Was Bill asked why he blew up children in a video?
It is a fair question, and not inflammatory. The video was inflammatory and not the mark of a
“Gentlemen” . The phrase, “The road to hell is paved with sincerity” does have an appropriate application,
I would have liked to see this question respectfully but directly asked.

Alan Robertson
Reply to  Bill McKibben (@billmckibben)
June 6, 2015 9:28 pm

Bill M says: “I’d wager all things nuclear are mostly relics of the past…”
———————–
I disagree. I think power from the atom is something from the future, something developed before we were supposed to have it, before our consciousness had reached what it should have been before we unlocked that door. Even now, we still can’t put it all together.

Scott Basinger
Reply to  Bill McKibben (@billmckibben)
June 7, 2015 11:13 am

Bill,
No, you’re wrong about nuclear. Nuclear is not expensive when compared to other non-carbon generating technologies (1/4th the cost or less per kWh produced).
That, and some of the newer reactors have the benefit of being able to somewhat load follow. Intermittent generation (wind and solar) sources, will require some either very expensive grid storage or load-following coal or gas units running on standby for when variations in wind and solar occur.
You owe it to yourself and your readership to educate yourself about electrical generation.
http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/programs/energy-and-climate//cost-of-german-solar-is-four-times-finnish-nuclear/

Jtom
Reply to  Bill McKibben (@billmckibben)
June 7, 2015 11:23 am

A serious question that I hope you at least ponder.
I am sure you have considered the potential costs to Mankind if you are correct about the evils of CO2 and we take no action, but have you ever examined the costs to Man if we take the actions being encouraged by you and you are wrong?
Reduction of cheap, available energy comes with a price on the health and welfare of many. Making energy “necessarily expensive” also means making it “necessarily harmful,” particularly to the less affluent. You might want to start by looking at what has been classified as “unnecessary deaths” in the UK in winter due to high energy costs.
Finally, examine the cost of remediation. Since that would be after-the-fact, it requires no speculative costs that could one day prove to provide no value, or worse, exacerbate the problem, i.e., good intentions producing bad outcomes.
You may come to the same conclusions you have today, but at least know what the penaties are should you be wrong, and understand that skeptics are not evil.

Reply to  Bill McKibben (@billmckibben)
June 7, 2015 2:12 pm

Mr. McKibben, though you think that nuclear is a relic of the past, perhaps you haven’t been aware that the world is quickly running out of Plutonium-238. It has to be created in specific types of nuclear power plants. Once it is gone, the world will no longer have the ability to send probes or rovers to any of the outer planets. Pu-238 is what has allowed us to have a viable space program. Please reconsider your stand about nuclear power plants, as the loss of Pu-238 production will impact all of us in many ways.

JFD
June 6, 2015 7:03 pm

A nice story about your visit with Bill McKibben, Anthony There may not be trends in the rainfall graph but natural ocean cycles are certainly visible.

Tsk Tsk
June 6, 2015 7:09 pm

The dirty burning of coal in China and India has been a net positive just like it was three hundred years ago in Britain. The lack of adequate supplies of energy is far worse than the effect of particulates and metals emitted by crudely burning coal. It’s only when a society becomes rich enough and can access sufficient energy resources that are cleaner that the real pollution costs net out to be a negative. Bottom line: being poor is bad for your health regardless of how pristine your environment is and fossil fuels along with nuclear are the only games in town.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Yogyakarta
Reply to  Tsk Tsk
June 6, 2015 8:22 pm

Tsk Tsk
The particulates are unburned coal. Modern coal combustor don’t waste fuel like that. The rest is ash blown up by fans. It too is gone. It is not about combustion quality any more. It is about CO2.

Tsk Tsk
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo but really in Yogyakarta
June 6, 2015 8:29 pm

The dirty burning of coal in China and India

I’m away of what modern scrubbing technology can achieve with added cost. My point is that on balance even the dirty combustion in China and India to date has been a significant net positive, i.e. it has saved far more life hours than it has prematurely ended. I was responding to the agreement between Anthony and McKibben where they agreed it was a bad thing(tm).

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Jakarta
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo but really in Yogyakarta
June 7, 2015 1:31 am

Tsk Tsk
I take your points as positive. What I am tired of is hearing how ‘dirty’ a fuel is. ‘Dirt’ is the result of a combination of factors resulting in poor combustion. ‘Dirt’ is not removed by filtering – it is remove by complete combustion. We don’t put bag filters on cars, we build better engines. What is happening is the anti-coal crowd are trying to tie 50 year old ‘dirty’ power stations to ‘CO2 is a form of dirt’ in the minds of the indoctrinated. 350.org has this as a policy goal, meaning they have set believing this lie as a policy goal and they seek funding to accomplish it. They won’t accomplish it be being mean, they accomplish it by being smooth, slick and populist.
Success relies on keeping the target population (the youth, for the most part) ignorant and snuffing their natural and healthy tendency to investigate the world for themselves. Demonising people, classes of thought, outlets of information and an us-vs-them mentality.
Classic dialectical argumentation strives to create polar opposites so there is only one ‘reasonable’ result, a point achieved by manipulating the listener around various paths to arrive at a desired conclusion. The greatest danger to such manipulator is an informed listener capable of conceptual and logical analysis. That is why 350.org targets those who are still forming those capabilities. They brag about it on their web site. Have a look, with seeing eyes.

Yirgach
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo but really in Yogyakarta
June 8, 2015 2:26 pm

A good example of classic dialectical argumentation is the following James “Integrity” Hansen’s quote:

If we cannot stop the building of more coal-fired power plants, those coal trains will be death trains — no less gruesome than if they were boxcars headed to crematoria, loaded with uncountable irreplaceable species.

Richard M
June 6, 2015 7:09 pm

Now you know why so much of the AGW propaganda is tuned to get an emotional response (polar bears, mass extinctions, etc.). This is how you control people who think with their hearts and not their heads.

June 6, 2015 7:18 pm

There are a few comments above that reflect on human nature which throws out science, logic, reason. Per one of these, U.S. is naive. Etc.
I agree. When Obama calls those opposing his political agenda the ‘d’ word, he is not aiming at scientists. He is using his authority figure to cement AGW to the wavering believers and attempt to convince others to join his viewpoint. He is courting public opinion. The skeptic side must do the same if you want to win the war.

robert_g
June 6, 2015 7:18 pm

“Bill also seem[s] to think that many other weather events could be attributable to the changes that humans have made on our planet. He was quite sincere about this belief and cited many examples of events he witnessed or saw the aftermath of. I could tell that his perspective was one of empathy as were many of his concerns. But I came away with the impression that Bill feels such things more than he understands them in a physical sense. This was not unexpected because Bill is a writer by nature, and his tools of the trade are to convey human experience into words. I can’t really fault him for feeling these things and expanding on them but I did note he seemed quite resistive to factual rebuttals because they didn’t assuage the feelings he harbored.”
Our own personal (anecdotal) experiences are parochial in both time and space and–by definition–inadequately sample reality. Thus, conclusions based on our personal samples can be potentially misleading–particularly so, in the context of disparity in the life span of a typical individual compared to the time-and-space domain of “climate” and “weather extrema” records. Failure to recognize these physical limits and to guard against our natural emotional biases and the evolutionarily-imposed, heuristic hard-wiring of our brains to construct a “story,” and confirmation bias is an easy trap to fall into. We are all primed to do so! Unfortunately, it takes actual knowledge of the trap, and real self-knowledge and an act of will not to go down this garden path of self-deception.
The best antidote I know of to correct this form of self-blindness is rational skepticism. A constant willingness to question, a willingness to so one’s best to objectively look data and not let emotion insert a veil of ignorance. A precondition for skeptical inquiry, is to know why one should be skeptic: the ever-present danger of self-delusion. Perhaps education is one effective avenue that the skeptic can reach those on the “other side” who are genuinely seeking the “truth.” Who really wants to be deluded? [even the sociopath who wants to manipulate others, typically doesn’t want to delude himself]
Somewhat tangential, but apropos of one’s susceptibility to genuinely feeling “This must be so,” is captured by one of my favorite article titles: “The Moon and Mental Illness: A Failure to Confirm the Transylvania Effect”

Reply to  robert_g
June 6, 2015 7:24 pm

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool. – R.F.

June 6, 2015 7:19 pm

Plant food increases in the atmosphere are not a problem.

simon
June 6, 2015 7:42 pm

M Simon…. yes plants seem to do well, it’s just the rest of us who may well struggle.

Reply to  simon
June 6, 2015 7:56 pm

I dunno. Not enough plant food is a problem for ALL life. As I understand it there is no chance under current conditions of reaching a condition of too much plant food.

philincalifornia
Reply to  simon
June 6, 2015 8:04 pm

With a 1 degree C temperature rise in the next 100 years, most or all of it of it natural anyway. Yeah right !!!
Not to mention that it may go the other way too. Then we may well struggle, depending on how steep the descent.
At least this sorry episode has taught us that atmospheric CO2 levels will not help and we will need other solutions.

Jtom
Reply to  simon
June 7, 2015 11:35 am

We MAY struggle with increased CO2 in youropinion, but we know for a fact that many WILL struggle if energy is made more expensive. You are advocating for a deliberate harm to others (clearly you can afford more expensive energy) to avoid a speculative inconvenience to you.

June 6, 2015 7:44 pm

Thanks, Anthony. Good article, and congratulations on your honesty and civility.
You have again shown that the debate is just starting.

R. Shearer
June 6, 2015 7:46 pm

From the picture I see that his thinning hair (undoubtedly correlated with a rise in CO2) appears to be wind blown. I believe that is perhaps due to his long bike ride from the East Coast.

takebackthegreen
June 6, 2015 8:01 pm

One of the most encouraging and admirable posts I’ve read on the tortured subject of Climate in a very long time. It concretely demonstrates why so many consider your blog an indispensable resource.
You present a glimpse of what is possible, a model of a way forward.
Well done.

Harold
June 6, 2015 8:03 pm

Call me cynical, but maybe Bill read the LaCour paper, and had an epiphany that he could talk Anthony into a complete change of outlook.
Oops. The LaCour paper is bumf too, you say?

JohnB
June 6, 2015 8:04 pm

An interesting account, and one that helps confirm my thoughts on the basic difference between those worried about climate change and those who are not.
Those like Mr. Mc Kibben tend to view the climate and the planetary ecology as stable. They use terms like “finely tuned” or “balance of nature”, while accepting change over long time periods, they assume incredible stability over mere centuries. As this is the perceived natural order, any short term interruption or change is therefore (quite logically) “unnatural” and therefore caused by man.
Those on the sceptic side tend to view the climate as naturally chaotic and quite capable of rapid change without any action by man. Therefore to the sceptic, the mild warming of the 20th Century is (quite logically) nothing out of the ordinary.
This is illustrated by the conversation;
“Worrier: “The climate is changing! The climate is changing!”
Sceptic: “Yes it is. What’s you point?”
As the two positions are logically derived from a fundamental idea about the natural rate of change then it’s inevitable that each side thinks the other is illogical or ignoring the evidence. Rather than facts being ignored, they are simply being interpreted differently. A persons position on the Worrier/Sceptic scale is almost entirely derived from their answer to the question “How fast can the temperature change naturally?”. The lower the figure, the more worried the person is.
There may be some ego involved, but it isn’t required. Mankind has long tried to and believed he could control the forces of nature. We prayed to a multitude of Gods and supported a priestly class who vowed that the Gods listened to them and would show mercy/favour/whatever, bringing the good rains or ending the rain. The Gods controlled the weather, the priests had the ear of the Gods and so the tribe, by appeasing the Gods, controlled the weather. Rather than being at the mercy of forces beyond his comprehension or power, man was in control.
This attitude holds true for the worrier as well. If nature and climate are chaotic and large changes are the norm, then man is at the mercy of vast impersonal forces far beyond his control. However, if the natural world is stable then all deviations are the result of the actions of man and can be reversed by appropriate actions. IOW, it allows the belief that man is not at the mercy of the natural world, but actually controls it. This idea of control is inherent in the belief system of the worrier (how often have we heard about stopping climate change?)
The bottom line is that most of the differences in outlook between the worrier and the sceptic can be traced to their basic belief about the natural rate of change of the climate system.

P. Wayne Townsend
June 6, 2015 8:04 pm

Anthony, I cheer on you and McKibben for doing the good and civil thing. Perhaps this small step can help others make steps toward civility.
I did wonder how long it would be before the Texas floods would be added to the repertoire of those listing the consequences of CAGW. Living here in Dallas-Fort Worth I was curious about our flood history and my dear wife found these two enlightening webpages.
The first webpage is interactive showing the previous high flood marks in Dallas and in Forts Worth (separately) compared to the downtown levies. http://trinityrivertexas.org/trinity_fla/swfs/worst_floods.swf
Clearly the 1908 flood stands head and shoulders above all others in Dallas (including this years, though it is not illustrated.) Downtown Fort Worth did not flood this year as clearly it has in 1922, 1949, and 1989.
If we just take the pre-1950 floods, (those before the IPCC says CAGW began) this flood is within the natural variation presently known.
The second webpage is the Army Corps of Engineer “Dallas Floodway Timeline”. http://www.swf.usace.army.mil/Portals/47/docs/PAO/DF/PDF/Dallas_Floodway_Timeline_1908-2013.pdf
Among the interesting tidbits of all the various horrific floods (see the pictures and descriptions) is that the downtown Dallas levy was built in response to the 1908 flood to withstand an “800-year flood”. Since the 1908 flood would barely be held by today’s levies we can assume that 1908 was at least a 500-year flood. Again, nothing like it has been seen since so everything afterward, including this year, falls within natural variation.
Bottom line — There is no reason to believe that this year’s floods as they occurred in Dallas-Fort Worth are anything out of the ordinary. I suspect the same could be said for all other areas around Texas.

David Springer
Reply to  P. Wayne Townsend
June 7, 2015 8:52 am

I called what happened the Texas Pineapple Express. I watched all those fronts live on local radar approach and pass either over or around me like a cars on a train. They all blew in from southwest to northeast on fronts that occasionally stretched to Ohio. It happens predictably when there are large warm areas in the Pacific. The other way our droughts in south and central Texas get cured is rain bands from hurricanes. There haven’t been any of those in quite some time now. Probably a decade since any stretched a hundred miles inland to Austin.

philincalifornia
June 6, 2015 8:13 pm

A little bit tangential but, since it came up, is the plastic soup problem real or another piece of phony environmental BS? Has anyone seen it?
Bill may be surprised to know that many posters on here are actual real environmentalists and, since I spend most of my life developing clean processes for chemical manufacturing, I number myself in that category, not to mention my weekends and vacations appreciating nature.
Cleaning up the plastic soup is something I could get behind, but I can’t even be bothered to Google it anymore, given the tsunami of lies that will most likely fly from my screen

TonyL
Reply to  philincalifornia
June 6, 2015 10:27 pm

I take it that you mean the “plastic sea” out in the middle of the North Pacific. I recall reading a MSM article about a ship that went on a cruise to take data and samples out in that sea. Perhaps it was as recent as last summer, I do not recall. The ship had the usual collection of researchers on one hand, and environmentalists looking for a scary story on the other. When the ship got on station, it was revealed that the plastic particles were were all in the sub-millimeter to micron range, all well dispersed through the water column. Sample collection involved the collection of very large water samples and careful filtering. The plastic was obviously well on it’s way to being degraded back to infinity. The enviros were shocked and amazed at the reality. The propaganda they studied had led them to believe the “plastic sea” was a large scale floating waste dump so thick a ship could barely sail through. The enviros were sore disappointed that there were no photo-ops, and no story of the apocalypse to bring home.
It can not help but to remind one of a notorious cruise to Antarctica to observe the destruction of the ice sheets there. The ship got trapped in sea ice instead, and needed much maritime aid to escape. In a rarely seen modern day magic trick, the “researchers” who largely caused the crisis, were magically transformed into “tourists” who had nothing to do with it.

Reply to  TonyL
June 7, 2015 3:02 am

A link to this failure in finding the plastic sea would be greatly appreciated, if you have one. Thanks in advance!

philincalifornia
Reply to  TonyL
June 7, 2015 8:22 am

Right Tony, that’s what I was talking about. There was an article on WUWT a few years back where it was called “plastic soup” and that stuck in my memory. Thanks for the update.
Maybe Mr. McKibben could give a brief update on what he thinks the status of this issue is right now from his perspective.
I would also be interested in hearing how one brain could hold two hugely dissonant thoughts at the same time, namely:
1) 350 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere is a worthy goal to aim for
2) 402 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere causes massive flooding in Texas
I suspect that the answer is that Mr. McKibben doesn’t believe either.

Yirgach
Reply to  TonyL
June 8, 2015 3:20 pm

A large Wiki article on the plastic garbage patch in the Pacific.
A lot of info on the disintegration and assimilation into the food chain or the polymers.
Doesn’t sound too good, but a lot of it also sounds like hand waving.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_garbage_patch

M Seward
June 6, 2015 8:15 pm

It is somewhat encouraging to see that Bill McKibbon is still capable of a civil and even friendly chat over a beer with someone of opposing views.
Am I extrapolating or is it conceivable that when ‘the pause’ becomes ‘the downturn’ over the nex 5 – 10 years that Bill will drop his head in his hands and, shivering with self scahdernfreud, admit that he got it horribly wrong, that he projected the shortcomings and faults of western society to some sort of satanic curse that would destroy the planet, and ring Anthony up and say “I am so sorry, you were right, I let my emotions guide me. BTW, I might pop over to your way, you good for a beer again?”
I think I am extrapolating but hope I am not. This whole ‘debate’ is becoming pretty tedious, to be frank. Surely there are more pressing matters we could focus our God given intelligence upon.

jorgekafkazar
Reply to  M Seward
June 7, 2015 3:32 pm

On the other hand, there are still Cargo-Cult believers in the South Pacific.

Russ R.
June 6, 2015 8:26 pm

Very refreshing Anthony & Bill. If only everyone could be so respectful.
Kudos to you both.

masInt branch 4 C3I in is
June 6, 2015 8:34 pm

[snip – over the top -mod]

philincalifornia
Reply to  masInt branch 4 C3I in is
June 7, 2015 8:24 am

Indeed it was mod, but I did learn a lot from it from a historical perspective.

Juan Slayton
June 6, 2015 8:35 pm

A good read. And n the interest of further civility, perhaps “weepy” could be added to the moderation trigger list. I cringe whenever I see it.

June 6, 2015 8:40 pm

“Beware of altruism. It is based on self-deception, the root of all evil.”
— R. A. Heinlein

AntonyIndia
June 6, 2015 8:45 pm

`We both agreed that coal use especially in China and India where there are not significant environmental controls is creating harm for the environment and the people who live there.`
The above is only true for PR China. India, which produces one a fifth of China´s CO2 emissions has most of its coal power plans stalled in courts because of Green groups quoting Indian environmental laws.
If numbers really count here @WUWT this should be valid also for Asian data,

June 6, 2015 8:46 pm

On my view, McKibben is just another twisted, emaciated fanatic projecting his self-loathing on the whole of humanity.
How, exactly, he earned my “respect”? What did he do but preaching pure evil?
Some of the commenters here seem to be obsessed with asking for “respect.” The more you ask for it, the less you get. Respect must be earned.

takebackthegreen
Reply to  Alexander Feht
June 6, 2015 9:00 pm

Solution, meet problem.
If you call your opponent evil you destroy the possibility of a peaceful resolution. It is rarely justified.

Reply to  takebackthegreen
June 6, 2015 9:44 pm

There is no “peaceful resolution” of a robbery.
Non-resistance to evil is resistance to good.

takebackthegreen
Reply to  Alexander Feht
June 7, 2015 5:44 am

Nonsense. “Evil” is a religious/philosophical concept, not a defined and measurable property. If he’s your idea of evil, well… nevermind.
The man is wrong. He may use nonscientific argument and tactics. But so are you. He doesn’t seem motivated by evil. He believes he is doing good. He just needs to be educated. Maybe his reaching out is a sign that his mind is set to open. Mr. Watts may have planted the seed.
What is your goal? You won’t change a single person’s mind by calling them evil or idiotic.

Reply to  takebackthegreen
June 6, 2015 9:59 pm

P.S. Not to mention the fact that McKibben himself calls all skeptics (and not only skeptics — all who don’t share his religion) evil by default.
Who and what are you talking about? Think before posting.

takebackthegreen
Reply to  Alexander Feht
June 7, 2015 6:04 am

Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll try that next time.
I believe condescension was the favored rhetorical style of Feynman. People respond well to it.

David A
Reply to  takebackthegreen
June 7, 2015 6:58 am

Evil is, IMV, not merely an abstract concept. Thomas Jefferson said “Government is a necessary evil.” Jefferson was alluding to power. Not the power of individual liberty, but group power over OTHERS, in most any form,, religious, corporate, or Government. In individuals this evil is expressed in theft, assaults, rape, murder, etc.
Was Bill asked why he blew up children in a video?
It is a fair question, and not inflammatory. The video was inflammatory and not the mark of a
“Gentlemen” . The phrase, “The road to hell is paved with sincerity” does have an appropriate application,
I would have liked to see this question respectfully but directly asked, perhaps at he end of the conversation, as it is always best to understand those who wish to blow you up, but still it should have been asked.

takebackthegreen
Reply to  David A
June 7, 2015 1:38 pm

I don’t really know what to call it, without looking in a dictionary. I just know it’s not definable to a standard, measurable or observable… all of those things scientists love…

Doug S
June 6, 2015 8:52 pm

Good stuff, laughing out loud!
Anthony, you are a man of great discipline and charity.

patmcguinness
June 6, 2015 9:07 pm

“He specifically spoke of the recent flooding in Texas calling it an “unnatural outlier”, ”
Here in Texas, we call that ‘weather’.
And a mixed blessing; havoc was caused and many people impacted but the land is green and our lakes are now full.

mairon62
June 6, 2015 9:10 pm

This really is a morality play that has nothing to do with “science”. The priests of the enviro-left claim the moral high ground by fiat simply because they “care” more than you do (Those were real tears!). Just ask them. And there you are, driven back on your heels, to answer their charge as to “why” it is that you don’t. You’ve already lost a fight that you didn’t even know you were in. It’s the “disney-fication” of reality where 2-dimensional photos of fuzzy bears and foreboding smokestacks win the day. “Dirty” coal is bad because the producers are driven by greed and profit; not “care”. In this world, pollution isn’t the by-product of producing electricity it’s the whole point. So, now the stage is set. With the velvet glove of “care” fitted firmly to the iron fist of government force, the EPA will smite the evil, cartoon villains of pollution. Just wait to you get the bill.

Tom Trevor
June 6, 2015 9:21 pm

I can’t go along with this. I used to live in Vermont and I have seen first hand the nutty things Bill has done and said because he thinks that the weather has changed in his backyard. That may not make him an idiot, but sure the heck doesn’t make him smart. He once lead a discussion of global warming that started with the congregation singing “Amazing Grace” and then no discussion or questions about the science was allowed, I strongly suspect because Bill quite clearly doesn’t know any of the science. But he sure believes in the church of global warming.
He once help organize an art show outside side of The Helen Day Art Center in Stowe Vt, where children and adults too, drew pictures and wrote poems to mother earth telling “her” how sorry they were for what was being done to “her.” Most everything the that people who drew these pictures and wrote the poems, thought was being done to “mother” were in fact not happening. I am sorry, but that event was an idiotic event. Now, one doesn’t have to be an idiot to do idiotic things, but if one constantly does idiotic things one very well might be an idiot. At the very least doing such crazy things doesn’t lead one to conclude that the person doing them is smart.

George Devries Klein, PhD, PG, FGSA
Reply to  Tom Trevor
June 6, 2015 9:47 pm

Do you think it was the cold winters in VT that makes for this bizarre behavior? Or was it smoke inhalation from the wood stoves?

Tom Trevor
Reply to  George Devries Klein, PhD, PG, FGSA
June 7, 2015 6:51 pm

I remember once around 2005-7 Bill planned a big global warming event on the Stowe bike path for a day in May or maybe late April It was abnormally cold then, and we had a big snow storm. The event went on as if there was nothing odd about holding a global warming event in May with 2 ft of snow. Naturally they just said global warming causes cold. But Bill built his entire career out of saying it was warmer in his backyard than it was in the 1970s. If you don’t want be thought of as an idiot then try not to do or say idiotic things. Claiming that warmth causes cold without any proof sounds totally idiotic. If you want to talk about a scientific subject, then learn the science, If you know the science then don’t talk about just about the facts that support your belief, talk about the facts that don’t support it. Anything thing else makes you sound like an idiot. I have yet to see one fact that makes me believe that Bill is not an idiot. The fact that his writing ability got him a job at Middlebury College does nothing at all to make me think he isn’t an idiot. Writing skill is mainly the ability to turn a phrase it has nothing at all to do with intelligence. There are far too many total morons who write for The New York Times, they can all turn phrases, but they rarely can report the truth, or report a truly in depth article, using a lot of words is not the same as being in depth.

Ossqss
June 6, 2015 9:21 pm

Thank you both!
There is always hope……
Hope doesn’t happen without communication.

Reply to  Ossqss
June 6, 2015 9:48 pm

Communicate with the hungry predator as much as you wish.
Fat lot of good it will do to you.

Menicholas
June 6, 2015 9:28 pm

“catastrophic rise problematic ”
My speech to text software makes these sorts of errors too.
Should this have been “catastrophic or as problematic”?

Editor
June 6, 2015 10:09 pm

Anthony, many thanks for your account of the meeting. Well written, well lived, well done all ’round.
w.

michael hart
June 6, 2015 10:14 pm

Ask him to meet you in Versailles next time. December, perhaps?

Editor
June 6, 2015 10:24 pm

Excellent.

Another Scott
June 6, 2015 10:56 pm

“In broadcasting we never allow for ‘dead air'” The words “dead air” echoed in my mind a few times when I read them – if you are ever guilty of dead air you will have at least 3-4 people let you know immediately by popping in the booth and saying “dead air”, even if they heard someone else say it to you milliseconds before…

Kev-in-Uk
June 6, 2015 11:47 pm

I personally would like to believe there is ‘good’ in everybody – sometimes buried under cynical or self-serving intentions, etc – but there nonetheless. However, when people such as Bill, on the opposite side, offer some form of dialogue – I naturally become suspicious. I don’t want to knock his efforts, but I am still suspicious.
Clearly, this guy is more of an emotive promotor of the cause, rather than an active contributor (in the scientific analysis/questioning kind of manner). Just thinking back to the exploding 350.org rubbish makes you remember the highly active (and presumably well funded) socio-political ‘moulding’ intentions of this type of organisation and the alarmist violent rubbish it presented.
The primary issue here is obviously his ‘feelings’ and ‘beliefs’ versus the skeptic stance based on the ‘science’ appraisal (or in fact the lack of science!). I don’t really care how bad it looks to the greens that I don’t believe their propaganda – or their precautionary requirements. Without the necessary correct and reasonably well proven science to back up their beliefs – they are nothing more than a semi-religious cult.
It is no different to TV adverts. How many folk buy this or that due to a TV advert? We know many do! What type of person takes advertising on trust? But here’s the real point – What kind of person makes a TV advert using knowingly false information? Do you blame the idiot who ends up ‘trusting’ the advert – or the fraudulent maker of the advert – or indeed, both? See – I blame the advert maker, because if he/she is using that position to falsely advance his/her position (or sales, whatever) and take advantage of ‘less able’ folk – that is really no different than mugging an elderly person in the street and demonstrates a lack of ethical responsibility!
McKibbens undoubted niceness and emotive position is no justification for false presentation and the ‘cult’ intimidation. So, yeah, he probably is a nice guy – but until he educates himself (scientifically, I mean) to properly question and challenge the stuff he is ‘told’, then he is probably being ‘used’ just the same as the people the 350.org propaganda aims to reach! Sad, really.

R. Shearer
Reply to  Kev-in-Uk
June 7, 2015 5:48 am

Good commentary.

rogerthesurf
June 7, 2015 12:52 am

If McKibbon operates on a empathy scale maybe someone should explain to him what will happen if or when the crazy attempts to lower anthropogenic CO2 to pre 1990 levels takes effect.
As an economist I know attempting the above will make the great depression seem like a love fest.
30% unemployed , not as much as one would think maybe, but still people starved.
If a government wants to depress an economy, just do what the greens and McKibbon want us to do. Its almost like a manual of how to kill an economy. Will kill people too, starting from the poorest and working its way up.
Cheers
Roger
http://www.rogerfromnewzealand.wordpress.com

Amatør1
Reply to  rogerthesurf
June 7, 2015 2:44 am

If a government wants to depress an economy, just do what the greens and McKibbon want us to do.

Think about that for a second. Why are these things happening?

philincalifornia
Reply to  Amatør1
June 7, 2015 8:33 am

…. because some believe that this will be a success story ?
…. and when it isn’t, hey ho, it will be someone else’s fault.

jorgekafkazar
Reply to  rogerthesurf
June 7, 2015 3:38 pm

Which great depression are you speaking of? The one in 1929, or the one we’re in currently, masked by the only-game-in-town stock market bubble?

June 7, 2015 1:59 am

More such meetings would be a good thing. A frenetic agitator and a calm thinker sitting down together is remarkable. Both are highly motivated and influential people within their own worlds, and for them to try to find common ground strikes me as a healthy development. Well done to them both.
I am particularly impressed by Bill McKibben taking the initiative to suggest the meeting. He has gone up in my estimation.
Some good comments in the discussion, especially those by ‘Crispin in Waterloo’ who is working to reduce or prevent some further harm being caused by the 350.org.

June 7, 2015 2:04 am

I sure hope this turns out better than the original “Beer Summit”:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/30/beer-summit-begins-obama-_n_248254.html

Reply to  J. Philip Peterson
June 7, 2015 2:37 am

Worth a read – Quote from the original “Beer Summit”:
“Obama said last week the episode could be a “teachable moment” on improving relations between police and minority communities.”
I sure hope this is a bad analogy, and commend Anthony and Mr. McKibben for their heartfelt efforts.

Alastair Brickell
June 7, 2015 3:33 am

Anthony…well done and thanks for some insight into Bill’s thinking. Your civility and willingness to hear both sides is one of the main strengths of WUWT. When both sides can talk like gentlemen there’s still hope for us all. It would be great if you could organise similar meetings with other CAGW promoters.

jamie
June 7, 2015 3:51 am

Bill needs to learn something about hydrology before he call the texas floods a natural outlier. The big storm memorial weekend was only about 7 inch plus one hour storm event. This is about the design 10 yr one hour event for this area. This is normally used for design of smaller drainage areas. Like the channels that run though your development. Something like a major watershed ….ie the blanco river. The design event would be the 100 yr 24 hour event or about 23 plus inches of rain. The 2015 event didn’t even come close to that. I remember in 2011 medina county had a 12 inch one hour event. Although flooding occurred not as bad as this 2015 event.
The reason it had been bone dry on the 2011 and most of the water will infiltrate into the ground. The 2015 event the ground was saturated by a 3 week series of small rainfalls. So almost all the 2015 event ended as runoff. There’s nothing unnatural that occurred this year. I guess he’s reading too much MSM

Reply to  jamie
June 7, 2015 8:40 am

years ago I was able to read through a publication titled Excessive Rain Fall in Texas–
http://www.worldcat.org/title/excessive-rainfall-in-texas/oclc/2561039
Some of the rain fall events it described, mapped, and tracked made the recent event look like a spring shower
JVC

JT in Houston
Reply to  jamie
June 8, 2015 10:51 am

Here is a good history of flooding events in Houston going back to 1837. Nothing new.
http://www.wxresearch.com/almanac/houflood.html

David Wells
June 7, 2015 4:19 am

McKibben clearly demonstrates a known fact (which he dislikes) you cannot argue with a belief, it doesn’t need acres of acrimony to establish that simple reality, McKibben will never cross that line so why bother?
You either believe or you do not believe but since when has science in finality been about belief? You might believe something is true but if you have an integrity or self respect then you do the research before you shout your mouth off about your beliefs otherwise you arrive when the greens are now having shouted from the roof for 30 years it is now almost impossible for them to row back and acknowledge their naïve simplistic relationship with reality. As if just 0.039% of anything would cause runaway climate change even if doubled you still wouldn’t know it existed unless you were determined to find it and then it becomes just something else to get obsessive about, bizarre.

Dodgy Geezer
June 7, 2015 4:29 am

If there is, and continues to be, a dialogue and discussion between representatives of both sides of an argument, the next stage, following scientific method, is for both sides to agree on a proposed experiment/data gathering exercise/other activity which would help to define the differences between their positions, and prove or disprove one or the other (or both!)
This is the major aspect of scientific knowledge gathering which has been lost in the current fighting. People write papers to bolster the arguments of one side, and others produce ‘rebuttals’ to those papers. NO ONE seems to be saying:
“OK. You think THIS is the case, and I think that THAT is. Why don’t we do this test to see who is right?”

Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
June 7, 2015 6:34 am

Good idea. All we need is a way to test whether CO2 from burning fossil fuels causes any measurable change in the Earth’s climate (assuming there is such a thing). So far, I haven’t heard of one. If no one can contrive such a test, we must conclude that it’s not a scientific question at all—more like, “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” Which of course fits right in with the messianic fervor of the ‘climate activists’ like Mr. McKibben. Pretending it’s a question of science keeps the skeptics (or heretics) busy and out of the press while you pursue insane ideas like destroying the economies of the civilized world.
/Mr Lynn

Bruce Cobb
June 7, 2015 5:09 am

This is sad. In an ordinary world, before the whole manmade climate nonsense became “the science”, most of us would find it rather easy to be friends with someone like McKibben, even though he seems to confuse emotions with actual thought. The faux climate issue has undoubtedly divided people, even amongst family and friends. It has been said many times, but bears repeating that this is about rational thought versus emotional Belief based on a monstrous lie. Nothing can bridge that gap. The only hope is to defeat the lie.

Stu
June 7, 2015 5:38 am

Sounds like you guys had a great chat. Thanks to Bill for organising and Anthony for accepting.

pfwells
June 7, 2015 5:52 am

I have taken several coursed from TheGreatCourses.com, including “The Physics of History.” While the course was most informative, I was very annoyed because the professor proceeded to all-too-obviously contradict the science he was presenting in lectures eleven and twelve by fear-mongering about global warming. I wrote to them about it, and received the reply that their “research department” would look into it.
The course very clearly documented the natural variability of our climate and the ways in which that variability had been determined. Credit to the professor for clearly stating that our earth is stormier during the cold periods than it is during the warm periods. For those of us who recall the 1970’s fear mongering about the next ice age coming, it would be instructive to read the article on our weather in the December 1977 edition of National Geographic. That description could apply almost verbatim to the weather we have had over the past year. Of course global cooling was given as a possible explanation.
By the way, my observation (not being in any way a meteorologist) is that the course offered on meteorology is excellent. (Professor Robert G. Fovell, UCal L.A.) However, it makes me happy that I never had any desire to become a meteorologist!

June 7, 2015 5:53 am

We may not agree but we can always share a beer!

Don B
June 7, 2015 6:31 am

Thanks for the article, and the meeting with McKibben – very nice.

Dodgy Geezer
June 7, 2015 6:53 am

@L. E. Joiner

Good idea. All we need is a way to test whether CO2 from burning fossil fuels causes any measurable change in the Earth’s climate (assuming there is such a thing). So far, I haven’t heard of one…

There could be many possible tests, considering various aspects of the AGW theory. Looking for the tropospheric hot-spot could be one such.
Invariably, the way science progresses is by looking at tests of theories, considering possible predictions and then looking to see if they are there. The classic was the Eddington 1919 solar eclipse test of the sun bending light which verified Einstein’s theory. Why don’t we see ANY of these?
Climate Change theory proposed a hypothesis, then jumped straight to assuming that it was true, without any confirmatory evidence. Surely Bill McKibben would be happy to work with developing such a series of tests…?

Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
June 7, 2015 7:21 am

I suspect Bill McKibben would not object to such tests, because they would be irrelevant to his movement. It’s not really about the science, as far as he’s concerned. See my response to PiperPaul below. /Mr L

SteveT
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
June 9, 2015 3:54 am

Dodgy Geezer
June 7, 2015 at 6:53 am
@L. E. Joiner
Invariably, the way science progresses is by looking at tests of theories, considering possible predictions and then looking to see if they are there. The classic was the Eddington 1919 solar eclipse test of the sun bending light which verified Einstein’s theory. Why don’t we see ANY of these?
******************************************************************************************************************
I think I’m with you on what you’re saying but to follow the science you have to be careful with the words.
Eddington’s observations did not verify Einsteins theory – it provided further supporting evidence strengthening the theory. It could still be wrong. You have to keep an open mind.
Steve T

June 7, 2015 7:17 am

Charlie June 6, 2015 at 6:25 pm
The debate needs more of these meetings with the non crazies on both sided. Then eventually on the mainstream media. This is honest. This is not a show.

PiperPaul June 6, 2015 at 7:43 pm
But it is a show, for the True Believers.
“The followers of a mass movement see themselves on the march with drums beating and colors flying. They are participators in a soul-stirring drama played to a vast audience–generations gone and generations yet to come. They are made to feel they are not their real selves but actors playing a role, and their doing a ‘performance’, rather than as the real thing.”
The True Believer
Eric Hoffer
1951

Last year I heard from an old friend who has always been an inveterate supporter of ’causes’. Her signature read:

My activism at this point is centered on divestment of institutions from fossil fuels, and on stopping the pipelines (Keystone XL and the Northeast Pipeline), because solving the climate crisis is literally the sine qua non. I’m working with 350MA.org. — And notice: so far, over 95,000 people have signed Credo’s pledge of civil disobedience alone (there are other pledges) in connection with the pipeline.. Finally, finally, this movement is taking off. Better late than never!
I urge all to attend the NYC climate march on Sept. 21. . .

Bill McKibben is a Pied Piper leading thousands of True Believers on an emotional and vaguely ideological quest—Lenin called them ‘Useful Idiots’. If this were an isolated movement it might be laughable, but at this point it has reached the highest levels of government, academic, and the media, and poses a serious threat to the viability of our civilization—which relies for the health and well-being of its citizens on cheap and plentiful energy.
We have to assume that Mr. McKibben is fully aware of the danger he and his followers pose, and perhaps he revels in it, or in the celebrity leading a movement brings. I suspect he can have a pleasant meeting with a prominent ‘climate skeptic’ because he operates on an ideological level where the facts are irrelevant. He just has to keep piping about the “climate crisis,” and his enthusiastic followers will march blindly on, “with drums beating and colors flying.”
/Mr Lynn

George Daddis
Reply to  L. E. Joiner
June 7, 2015 5:02 pm

I was eagerly awaiting Mr. McKibbon’s response, which I hoped would show his level of sincerity and ideally provide some reaction to the comments that had been posted.
I was disappointed (but not surprised) by his subsequent input which could have been written without reading any of the previous comments! Our host showed a lot of empathy and searched for common ground. His response indicated to me that the experience was not the least bit significant to him.
I am reminded of Paul Nurse’s acceptance of a proposal for dialogue between Lord Lawson and the Royal society which in fact turned out to be an offer to “educate” the Lord to the Society’s rigid beliefs. (Maybe Bill thought he’d just give it the “old college try” to educate our host.)
I haven’t yet figured out what his “game” is; but I’m sure there is a “game”. Remember, HE suggested the meeting.

herkimer
June 7, 2015 7:23 am

It is difficult for most of us to understand how Bill Mckibben thinks mankind is causing the ” unnatural outlier” climate problems in TEXAS. According to NOAA, the average annual temperature for Texas 1895-2014 is 64.7 F . The annual temperature in 2013 was 65.1 F and last year 2014 it was 64.9 F . The 1895 -2014 trend is + 0.1F/decade and since 1998 the trend is -0.3/decade. There is cyclic pattern in the Texas climate with cooler weather 1895-1920 , warmer weather 1920-1957 , cooler weather 1957-1994 and warmer again 1994 -2012. Texas has been going through a warm phase since 1994, and this has very little to do with man. There is absolutely nothing “unnaturally outlier” about the Texas climate, Bill. It is quite natural.
Bill don’t just say what you think but do just some homework first before blaming every climate event on man. You are unjustifiably alarming people all over America. Thank goodness we have WUWT to tell the people the real facts.

Dave in Canmore
Reply to  herkimer
June 7, 2015 9:06 am

I have to show some respect to someone who wants to sit down with someone who disagrees with you but when you lead an organization and make public pronouncements, you are being extremely disrespectful of your audience if you can’t be bothered to ensure you are speaking the truth to them. I agree with you Herkimer, I can’t respect anyone who is too lazy to do even a modicum of fact checking.
If you don’t care if you are indoctrinating people with facts or disinformation, you are disrespecting people and treating them as tools for your own larger purpose. That someone could be so polite on the one hand but so disrespectful on the other hand speaks volumes about the mind of an environmental leader.

Tom Trevor
Reply to  Dave in Canmore
June 7, 2015 6:59 pm

True.

June 7, 2015 7:23 am

” he perceives things more on a feeling or emotional level and translates that into words and actions.”
That is so typical of liberals. When they act on their emotions as elected officials they cause irreparable harm to the economy (massive government debt, massive government nannystateism, and policies rammed down our throats.)

takebackthegreen
Reply to  J. Richard Wakefield
June 7, 2015 1:45 pm

No, friend. It is so typical of HUMANS. Each and every one of us, without exception. An excellent book about how our minds work is “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Kahneman, who won a Nobel Prize for his life’s work on the issue. Not a peace prize. A real one.
🙂

George Daddis
Reply to  takebackthegreen
June 7, 2015 5:12 pm

Mr McKIbbon is 100% System 1. (System 2 – reasoned thinking – requires effort.) 😉
Apologies to those who have not read Kahneman’s fine book.)

Chuck
June 7, 2015 7:25 am

Anthony’s perception that Bill is more influenced by how he feels about GW and not influenced much by rational argument are very likely right on the money. The Thinking or Feeling preference is a basic component of temperament and is split about 50/50 in the population. Those with