Revkin on Climate – the long view of the big picture

This is well worth a read. Andrew Revkin, who wrote an opinion blog and sometines opinion columns for the New York Times wrote an essay describing his years of reporting on the issue. There are some surprises in it, for example:


Journalism’s norms also required considering the full range of views on a complex issue like climate change, where science only delineated the risk but societal responses would always be a function of considering various tradeoffs. In 2007, I included Bjorn Lomborg’s climate book, Cool It, in a roundup of voices from “the pragmatic center.”

Lomborg, a Danish political scientist, became a widely quoted contrarian pundit after the publication of The Skeptical Environmentalist, a previous book that had challenged—and was vigorously challenged by—the environmental science community.

Given how Lomborg hadn’t resisted having his arguments wielded by factions seeking no action to cut climate change risks, my description of him was not apt.

But the reaction from longtime contacts in environmental science was like a digital sledgehammer. An e-mail string excoriating the story was forwarded to me in hopes I would understand how far I had strayed. In the exchange, one of the country’s top sustainability scientists told the others: “I think I’m going to throw up. I kept trying to believe that Andy was quite good, albeit subject to occasional lapses as well as rightward pressure from NYT higher-ups. But this is really too much. We have all over-rated him.”


and this:


It was Pete Seeger who helped me understand this as we sat in the kitchen of his hand-hewn home tucked high on the wooded shoulder of the Hudson Highlands overlooking Newburgh Bay. Pete was a friend and neighbor, with whom I’d been singing and conversing since I moved to the Hudson Valley in 1991.

He recalled how his father, a musicologist, used to prod friends who were scientists: “You think that an infinite increase in empirical information is a good thing. Can you prove it?”

Pete then described how his father would then exclaim that faith in science is no different than faith in anything else.

“Face it, it’s a religion,” Pete said.


Full essay here:

My Climate Change

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96 thoughts on “Revkin on Climate – the long view of the big picture

  1. There are many reasons to views climate ‘science’ has being along way from science as it normally considers. One of which is the approach it so often uses toward ‘heretics’ such as Lomborg, normally with science disagreements are par for the course hence one reason why it is ‘critical review’ which is used where the intent is to see if something is wrong, take note Mr Jones. However, in other areas, this is not the case and the very act of disagreeing is consider ‘bad behavior’ only acceptance of the ideas or claims without question is ‘good behavior ‘ .
    This is the approach often seen in politics, sports fans, or more relevant to the idea of ‘heretic’, the religion where faith needs no proof only ‘belief’.
    From this, you can see why this approach is such a poor fit to that would consider ‘science’ let alone good science. And therefore we can ask why this approach is seen so commonly with climate ‘science ‘, could it be that is far from settled as claimed and that the only way it can survive is to reject the idea of proof and stick firmly to the approach of belief which requires ‘doubters’ to be attacked in order to keep it going ?

      • To have faith is to place one’s trust in something you cannot control. When that something is one of humanity’s many conceptions of ‘God’ we learn over time that faith brings hope and peace in the face of our mortality, and generally makes lives better. But when our faith is in “climate cooperating with doomsday scenarios”, all it can possibly lead to is rage, because its our fellow mankind, not some devil somewhere, who is to blame for the evils we imagine.

        • When that something is one of humanity’s many conceptions of ‘God’ we learn over time that faith brings hope and peace in the face of our mortality, and generally makes lives better

          No it doesn’t. It brings smug satisfaction that you are right, and usually makes you try and control how other people live their lives. In many cases, it brings visceral hatred of anyone whose concept of god is different from yours, often giving rise to violence up to the level of starting large scale wars. It leads to nation-states setting up and enforcing laws with punishments up to the death penalty for having beliefs different from theirs. On an individual level, it often leads to feelings of guilt about your thoughts or actions that are normal and natural but that you believe are not acceptable to your version of god, and that consequently cripple your ability to lead an emotionally fulfilling life. It has been, and still is, used as justification for slavery, oppression of women, suppression of teaching science, overt terrorism, genocide and much, much more

          But don’t let me get started, please.

          • Why not continue to show to the world that your hatred of religion has completely rotted your brain. In a rational world, declaring that anyone who is religious is no different from the worst person of any religion is not considered a sane position.
            However it seems to be the default position of way too many atheists.

          • SR: Aha, you write of Marxism in particular, do you not? Otherwise, tarring all with your belief, that is all it is, helps nothing at all. Give it a rest. Atheists are the worst Egotists, while agnosticism is our natural condition considering what is asked of us. Agnostics are honest in admitting uncertainty. But you are instead quite certain. Proving a negative requires many leaps too…… Brett

          • Funny, “slavery, oppression of women, suppression of teaching science, overt terrorism, genocide and much, much more” is a government thing.

            Why is it solely people who grew up in Catholic Western states so militarily atheist?

            You sound EXACTLY like every other militaristic atheist that has only a mere superficial understanding of -any- religion.

            Where in the Vedas is slavery justified?
            Where in Solarism is oppression of women justified?
            Define the Bhuddist overt terrorism?
            Define Sikth supported genocide?
            What’s the Christian passages saying to suppress teaching science? (you believe in the “Dark Ages” myth, donja?)

            Yup, I’m pretty sure I already know who you are.

      • Seems like a failure of grammar check; try: There are many reasons to view climate “science” as being a long way from science as it is normally considered.”

      • Bob, read

        There are many reasons to views

        climate ‘science’ has been a long way from

        science as it’s normally considered.

    • To be clear, Lomborg is an economist, not a scientist.

      Everything I have read says Lomborg ACCEPTS the (false) global warming hypothesis, but then says that the cost of CAGW mitigation is far too high compared to the limited rewards, and concludes that there are much more pressing needs that should be addressed with limited global resources.

      Lomborg concludes that assuming the warmists are correct about the science (which they are NOT, they are hysterical alarmists), the benefits of CO2 mitigation are just not worth the costs.

      • You are correct but to be even clearer, those who recognize Climate Science for what it is today, most clearly, are political scientists. For it is a movement that behaves just the same as a political campaign.

        Since Climate Science became political when the UN set up the IPCC to make it so, it rapidly devolved into the Political Science realm and indeed is now pedaled with religious fervor. And this isn’t as clear to a physical scientist as it is to the political scientist because the latter doesn’t have to wade through math and science to see it for what it is.

      • From Wiki: Education
        Lomborg spent a year as an undergraduate at the University of Georgia, earned an M.A. degree in political science at the University of Aarhus in 1991, and a Ph.D. degree in political science at the University of Copenhagen in 1994.

        I read his Skeptical Environmentalist when it was published; an inspiring work for sure! He was inspired by economists who cleared his head as he discovered the mental in environmental.

        Cheers,

        Speed

    • Re: the misspellings and grammatical errors:
      It would probably be useful to review your posts with someone fluent in English, preferably a writer or editor. The errors indicate this was written by someone not well versed in English, by inference a non-native speaker.

      It sounds the way someone with a strong foreign accent would speak using voice recognition software, with the errors coming out that reflect not only usage but their foreign accent.

  2. “These days, it’s hard for me to sit there without pondering the climate to come, which scientists tell me is unlikely to include a new ice age given that the long-lasting greenhouse buildup of the Anthropocene will overwhelm the subtle orbital changes that bring back the cold.”

    Revkin is still a gullible fool.

    • I read the article — excellent in its own way but, as you say, he’s been at at the Kool-Aid and doesn’t realise.

      I agree with everything he says provided I accept (which I can’t) his basic premise. There is not one shred of empirical scientific evidence that changes to the earth’s climate over my lifetime, which is longer than his, are in any way outwith the bounds of natural variation. As Pete Seeger’s dad wisely said, science (as far as the laymam is concerned) is just one more belief system.

      • Newminster
        As many seem to do on this website–perhaps because of the unscientific validation you get for your contrarian (meaning disbelief or disagreement without sufficient evidence) beliefs–you take it as an article of faith that there is “not a shred of empirical scientific evidence” for global warming being the dangerous a dangerous trend.

        That conceit, false belief, wishful hope, easily disproved lie to oneself or whatever you want to call it is, of course, 100% dead wrong.

        First let’s address your initial false premise, which is that the long-term trend of global warming begins with yours or the author’s birth. It’s a stunningly ridiculous assumption, for which there is no valid basis and no scientific evidence anywhere. It’s also a bizarrely solipsistic view because it’s 99.9999% likely no one but your family members, friends, a few coworkers and you care about your birth date. Scientifically, that date has exactly zero relevance to the science measuring the advance of global warming.

        As to your weird claim that there’s not a shred of evidence for it, climate scientists know because they did the research: The preponderance of evidence has already proved a long-term, rapid and accelerating warming trend starting in the 1850s, coinciding with the Industrial Age. Human activities, especially increased forest clear cutting and expanding industrial factory operations began the massive release of greenhouse gases that create the warming. This evidence and research is recorded and published and available to anyone smart enough to find it and read it and understand it.

        There is no debate about that except in the minds of those who either fail to understand or refuse, both based on scant evidence, to accept established science. Is it any coincidence that this very small, almost 100% American group of conservatives, alone in the world, have all failed to earn climate science degrees or publish climate science papers in peer-reviewed journals? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

        For those who believe scientists are tracking global trends that allegedly begin with their birthdates (“my lifetime”) I don’t quite know what to say! It’s such a bizarre concept that it only warrants noting and expounding on how incredibly strange it is, and even stranger that anyone would consider it has a relationship to the established science of global warming. It also offers a window into the mind of a person who couldn’t possibly understand science, based on holding that concept!

        As anyone who has done sufficient research on global warming and climate change postings, it’s clear that the long-term trend of global warming is at least 150 years old. Also, it requires a certain number of years, with concomitant evidence, to scientifically to establish climate trends, whether longer-term or shorter-term. Only trained scientists can determine what length of time and the amount of change within that period comprises a trend. As noted before, personal birth dates or life lengths have zero relevance to these trends.

        Since the more apropos D-word is banned here, I will (factually) refer to you as science-rejecting uber-skeptic, with strong, bizarrely solipsistic non-scientific views. You can’t face established scientific reality, apparently because science contradicts those religion-like beliefs you wishfully but vainly hope are true.

        Making empty claims without scientific backing doesn’t make them more true. Perhaps you do it because you feel better and receive validation for it–even though it only adds to the swirling detritus in the anti-science global warming skeptics’ echo-chamber?

        At any rate, my reason for posting this is to point out psychological oddities of some here, not to convince anyone here that science is real despite their odd unscientific beliefs.

        But statements of fact and references to actual established science don’t seem to matter much here, where the most popular ideas run against the tide: the ever-growing, established verifiable scientific knowledge base on climate change.

        • Tim – what a ridiculous rant, without a shred of evidence to back up your claims that global warming is real and dangerous – your post is simply an appeal to authority and your statements are the usual nonsense.

          “CLIMATE CHANGE” IS RARELY IF EVER DEFINED – IT IS A DELIBERATELY VAGUE STATEMENT, UNSCIENTIFIC NONSENSE.

          “Climate change” is rarely if ever defined – it is a deliberately vague statement, not even a hypothesis, because it can mean everything and nothing. It is obvious from past ice ages that climate has always changed.

          The great minds of our age have stated that you cannot disprove a vague hypothesis:
          “A theory that is not refutable by any conceivable event is non-scientific.” – Karl Popper.
          “By having a vague theory, it’s possible to get either result.” – Richard Feynman

          The “Climate Change” (aka “Wilder Weather”) hypothesis is so vague and changes so often that it is not falsifiable. It has been defined as warmer and colder; less snow and more snow; more windstorms and less windstorms – it must be rejected as unscientific nonsense.

          THERE IS NO CATASTROPHIC MAN-MADE GLOBAL WARMING CRISIS:

          The Catastrophic Man-made Global Warming hypothesis is falsifiable, and has been falsified:

          1. By the ~32-year global cooling period from ~1945 to ~1977, even as fossil fuel combustion and atmospheric CO2 strongly increased;
          2. By “The Pause”, when temperature did not significantly increase for about two decades, despite increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations;
          3. By the absence of runaway global warming over geologic time, despite much higher CO2 concentrations than at present;
          4. A hypothetical doubling of CO2 from the so-called “pre-industrial” level of approx. 280ppm to 560ppm would cause AT MOST about 1C of global warming (Christy and McNider 2017, Lewis and Curry 2018) , such that any credible humanmade warming predictions would NOT be dangerous, but would be net-beneficial for humanity and the environment.
          5. The only conclusive evidence is that increasing atmospheric CO2 is hugely beneficial for the environment and humanity, due to greatly increasing plant and crop yields.

          In conclusion, there is no credible evidence of dangerous man-made global warming driven by increasing atmospheric CO2, and ample evidence to the contrary.

          Regards, Allan

    • “Revkin is still a gullible fool.”

      It’s not just Revkin lapogus, on this issue it’s many.

      The man-made global warming conjecture has been successfully oversold. The science no longer matters, it’s the optics. All of the world’s political, media, academic and corporate “elites” are on board the good ship AGW….and who can blame them? This is a “save the world” cause. To be otherwise is to be intellectually irrelevant.

      What ever happened to critical thinking?

      • Andrew Revkin wrote:
        “Pete (Seeger) then described how his father would then exclaim that faith in science is no different than faith in anything else. “Face it, it’s a religion,” Pete said.”

        So Pete Seeger, famous folk singer, is now an authority on science? And so is Andrew Revkin?

        It is pretty obvious that neither of them read about the Scientific Method
        “A theory that is not refutable by any conceivable event is non-scientific.” – Karl Popper.
        “By having a vague theory, it’s possible to get either result.” – Richard Feynman

    • contemplating and predicting events that in any case would never happen within the lifetime of anyone currently on the planet is always a low-risk of being proven wrong, isn’t it? If we do or don’t experience a full-blown ice age glaciation 30-40k years from now, who is going to be able to say “see I told you so”? Even young people today who live to a very ripe old age, may not be able to conclusively decide that CAGW is discredited in a definitive way. And socialists will still be saying that socialism didn’t fail, it’s never been properly tried, even if Occasional Cortex gets her Green New Deal and it crashes the economy for a generation.

    • It’s clear Andy has gargled the KoolAid. Occasional moments of brilliance, then back to the warmist felgercarb. It’s a pity.

    • “Is the study of religion a science?”

      You’ve got it backwards. It is my belief that science is a religion. Science is a very advanced belief system, of course, but a religion nonetheless. Because it is a belief system which attempts to answer the fundamental questions of existence. All religions do that. That’s part of the definition.

      Man is a religious animal. We are all religious. No exceptions. We are all born with a yearning to understand why the Universe exists, what is Life, how do Things work, where is our Destination?

      IMHO, science does a better job of answering those fundamental questions than the other religions.

      Most of the time. 😐

      • Johanus, I know you are being generous to religion in your musing, but don’t let us fall into the trap of imagining religion and science are in some way connected. They are not.
        Religion does not seek the truth, it seeks to spread the truth as it defines it right or wrong.
        Science seeks to establish the truth no matter what the past settled view might be. Science has as a foundation and a belief driving its efforts, that nothing is ever settled.
        Religion has as its believe, everything is settled but not everyone has been told yet.

        • Religion does not seek the truth.
          Each religious faith claims to “seek truth”, whether by logical deduction, authority or revelation. That’s a fact. Now the validity of those claims, that’s open to your personal judgment.

          Science seeks to establish the truth no matter what the past settled view might be.
          Well, of course. And just like other religions, scientists rarely get it right the first time around. Consider that within the last two hundred years a “consensus” was held that meteorites don’t exist, stress causes ulcers, continents don’t drift, atoms don’t exist, germs don’t cause disease, Freudian psychology was correct and CO2 is destroying the Earth.

          No religion (including Science) is permanently settled forever. New discoveries, new revelations and new leadership frequently lead to new doctrines.

          Science is no exception. There is no plaque, etched by God in platinum, that says “Einstein was right”. Einstein himself declared that no number of experiments could prove him right, but only one experiment was needed to prove him wrong.

          So every new scientific theory then should be evaluated with the hope that it will expand our knowledge of the universe, but with a certain amount of skepticism, which is mitigated by developing even better theories.

          • Johanus,
            Quote Science is no exception. There is no plaque, etched by God in platinum, that says “Einstein was right”
            —–
            I wish I understood why you think something called God has anything to do with science whether a platinum plaque writer or not?
            I also wish I understood, why you invoke Einstein as something other than a theorist who has been effective at advancing science, but as you obviously point out by no means seen as an absolute authority. He and all scientists accept they could be wrong. All religions claim they are right, no ifs no buts, always right. The term blind faith, refers to religions not to science.
            Scientists, do not read from a sacred text written 2000 years ago or 1400 years ago and claim those books hold absolute truth which must be observed. Only religions go in for that sort of teaching/methodology.
            Can we move on now?

          • Rod, perhaps if you spent some time understanding religion instead of your knee jerk rejection of it, you would be able to discover how far from the truth you are.

            In most religions, the religious texts are something that must be studied, in order to find truth for yourself.

        • So, the moment it is assumed that the truth has been established and no further seeking is required is the moment when science ends and religion begins.

          • somewhat right.
            If you end science, a religion could begin.
            Both the religious and scientists are seeking “the truth”.
            A religion must pass down it’s teachings and religion not doing this ceases to be a religion.
            But part of science is also education of science- science also has pass down it’s teachings or it ceases to exist.
            Or the teaching of religion or science is not being religious or being a scientist, rather the teaching should be to inspire people to be religious or be a scientist.

            I would guess that science never ends or is finished. But assuming it does, then science ends and all you got left is transfering the information of the science.
            I would also guess that seeking religious truth also doesn’t ends or is finished. But assuming it does, seeking religious truth ends and all you got left is transfering the information related to the faith.

            Of course Religion and Science do more than inspire though seeking the truth- or there are side effects. Religion side effects are morality, thou will not murder- etc. And science has technology- helps create better tools- etc.

            It also seems to me that a side effect of belief in one God, created science.
            Or promoted the idea that universe had rules, and science is about determining what these rules are. And main purpose of knowing these rules is to predict the future.
            And with one god, there is something called a future, rather than something like random chance or things just happen.
            Science is knowing God in terms the universe that is created by God.

      • The difference between science and religion is that science works the same way for everybody whether you believe in it or not. Religion works differently for everybody whether you believe in it or not.

    • It’s Philosophy. A social science where the latter word is used very loosely, as the need for empirical data is unnecessary to the advancement of a hypothesis.

  3. I enjoyed Andy when he had a regular NYT column. He changed his style after he became a freelancer and imo less critical thinking. I hope he remains in good health!

  4. I wonder what Mr. Revkin’s view is of this from WSJ …

    Only Nuclear Energy Can Save the Planet
    Do the math on replacing fossil fuels: To move fast enough, the world needs to build lots of reactors

    Climate scientists tell us that the world must drastically cut its fossil fuel use in the next 30 years to stave off a potentially catastrophic tipping point for the planet. Confronting this challenge is a moral issue, but it’s also a math problem—and a big part of the solution has to be nuclear power.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/only-nuclear-energy-can-save-the-planet-11547225861

    It has moved from theoretical science to practical engineering. It’s no longer model projections. It’s “just do it.”

    • “Climate scientists tell us that the world must drastically cut its fossil fuel use in the next 30 years to stave off a potentially catastrophic …”

      Progress: 20 years ago it was a shorter time period. Stave? Potentially” Catastrophic? High value persuasion with low value meaning.

  5. how many hundreds or thousands of years will it be until the next ice age? there is no accurate answer but it will happen. will there be any humans around to witness it? again there is no accurate answer. adapt as best you can because nature will eventually take your ball away and the game will stop.

    • OWGuy it’s my understanding once every 100,000 yrs. the precession cycle has summer solstice of the northern hemisphere (NH) at “perihelion” (the planet’s closest approach to the sun) when the orbit is at maximum eccentricity and the planet’s axial tilt maxed out at 24.5˚ in relation to the orbital plane. At some point close to or at this maximum, exposure to the sun’s rays (insolation) at 65N increases causing the great northern ice sheets to melt away putting the Earth into an interglacial warm period.

      The 3,500 year “Holocene Climatic Optimum”, the peak temperature response of the orbital/axial maximum ended 4,500 years ago, the “cryosphere” (Earth’s ice) was less then than now; there is paleo shoreline evidence of Arctic ice free summers with sea levels higher by as much as 7ft. In Ontario, Carolinian forest remnants from the Holocene’s optimum place the forest’s tree line 400km north of its now northernmost border.

      It’s my guess, in about 35,000 years from now, when the NH winter solstice is at “aphelion” (the planet’s furthest approach to the Sun) with the orbit in minimum eccentricity and the axis at its minimum tilt of 22.1˚, the insolation at 65N will be at its weakest, the ice sheets will be well past their start and approaching their first maximum.

  6. In this one sided “discussion” on climate, skeptics are only ever going to get scalding invective. There cannot be any rational discussion. (I’ve yet to see a civilized discussion of the facts.) AGW is too important to the AGW people. AGW is their path to the promised land of World Centralized Governance…controlled by “them”.

    To AGW scientists, it’s their money and power “gravy train”. To AGW politicians and the media it is the holy grail.

    However, I hate referring to AGW as a religion. I’m not a religious man but it rubs me wrong. There is no connection that I can detect between AGWer’s and a creator. And I think that is the only thing an AGWer and I might ever agree upon.

    History is one long story of the acquisition of power and the abuse of that power. The US Constitution is the biggest obstacle standing in the way of this most recent batch of power acquisitors and would be power abusers. (well, that and the growing resistance to the rising cost of fuel).

    If there is a benevolent creator out there, the power BEHIND that document will prevail.

    • CAGW may not be a religion, but it acts like a religion. You have holy books which may not be questioned, such as the IPCC reports. You have priests and clergy which may not be questioned, such as Al Gore. You have a source of evil — fossil fuels. You have demons, such as Big Oil. You have a divine being — mother earth. You have a small cadre of adherents who defend the belief at all costs. You have an inquisition that works to punishes disbelievers by making sure they don’t get work. And you have a laity who believe but don’t believe enough to motivate them.

      • CAGW is not a religion, but it functions much as a pseudo-religion, or substitute for a religon. In the same was as CAGW is a substitute for a political ideology, which largely disappeared after the end of the Cold War. The Green Movement profits from both, and it should no surprise that our deep-seated need for a faith and a purpose is being tapped by unscrupulous activists – today as always. And the more so, in a basically secular and de-politicised western society.

        • Henning, I think that is very insightful and accurate overall with respect to CAGW as a pseudo-religion and the human instincts for faith and purpose.

          I would have to disagree with you that political ideology largely disappeared after the end of the Cold War or that western society is depoliticized. Judging from your name, you may be in Denmark or Norway? I guess that in a nordic country context, this may be more accurate. In a US context, certainly not. For that matter, it’s not clear to me that it is true in countries like the UK, France, Hungary, Poland, or Italy. Fukuyama’s “end of history” was never a realistic thesis, but if we survey the political landscape in the US today, it seems like a cold civil war of political ideologies. Far from being depoliticized, even a football game is fraught with politics.

          The Left appeared to have lost the Cold War, but in retrospect they lost a major battle and now seem to be on the verge of winning the war. The communists did not decide to become free market liberals in 1990. They decided to rebrand as environmentalists in order to be seen as more acceptable.

      • Doc, Wade and others, I totally agree…Catastrophic AGW is like a religion. The issue one of optics as opposed to reality.

        Like religions, climate change offers damnation or salvation, but only in the future and without supporting evidence.
        Like religions, climate change also depends both on authority of those that a lay public accedes to and the peer pressure from a popular consensus.

        And let us not exclude the journalists on the global warming file singing as a choir in perfect harmony on a one note score, the settled-science-symphony of the IPCC and Al Gore.

        And last but not least…The politicians, where the money from the carbon tax/cap and trade collection plate is just too much to resist.

        Although the scientific support for the Catastrophic aspect of AGW is nonexistent, the idea is strong….very strong. To quote Rupert Darwall:…“Global warming’s success in colonising the Western mind and in changing government policies has no precedent.”

        Eventually, and hopefully within this century, the man-made global warming conjecture will find its place alongside all the other hysterical historical hobgoblins we so fondly remember that have come and gone.

    • You say AGW is not a religion. But you talk about the AGW believers’ “path to promised land”. So perhaps you can see that ‘Climatism’ is indeed a religion. It has all of the trappings of a religion (with all due respect to religion in general):

      Deity: Mother Earth (“Gaia”)
      Original Sin: Use of fossil fuels
      Hell: Climate Change
      Devil: Mr. Trump
      Saints: Al Gore et alia
      Path to Salvation: Redistribution of Wealth

      To see why CC is Hell, consider how a devout orthodox believer would answer the question: “List the Good Things about Hell”. Of course, they would answer: “There is nothing Good about Hell”.

      Then what would an “orthodox” believer in Climatism say when asked: “List the Good Things about Climate Change”. You will likely get the same reply.

      See my post above for additional insight: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/01/12/revkin-on-climate-the-long-view-of-the-big-picture/#comment-2585788

      • johanus –

        Maybe there is a God and maybe the religionists have intuitively figured out what He wants us to do.

        Maybe global warming will accelerate and we’ll have to come up with some solution.

        What have you concluded, and why? I admire your confidence.

  7. I think there are two parts to the opprobrium heaped on those who question the received wisdom. There is natural resistance to overturning well-established theories – c.f. Alfred Wegener and continental drift. He was primarily a meteorologist rather than a geologist so his theory could be dismissed until better seismic and other observations were made after WWII.

    However climate change is also seen as an existential threat (it’s nothing of the sort, of course), so those who doubt that we are ‘destroying the planet’ are seen as much more than just those on the other side of a scientific argument. We are evil, treasonous, and deserving of punishment. The parallels with religion and the treatment of heresy in medieval times are obvious.

    Sadly, it will be a long time before there is a ‘plate tectonics’ moment in the field of climate change and by that time untold economic damage and the lack of betterment for much of the world’s population will have happened.

  8. Lysenkoism and pseudo science are popular things. When somebody shows error in conclusions, ad hominem attack is imminent.

  9. Isn’t it extraordinary how guys like Revkin suspend skepticism on AGW? On any other subject, a reporter would have bs meters blaring like a car alarm when a column brings this sort of blowback from the target. Consider, if he looks into allegations (made by a guy named Lomborg) of corruption or sex harassment in mayor office. Then folks close to mayor attack him, the messenger. A real reporter would see that such flak indicates he’s on the right target, and dig into both the story and those attacking the messenger. Revkin’s reaction, instead, is to turn on his source. Somehow, he sees the flak-shooters as the “right” people who are on the “right” side of a story, even though he only just scratched the surface.

  10. Soon millennials will be running the show, China alone has more than 300,000,000 of them.
    Wake up and stand up or even better give up, else we are doomed. 🙂

    • Stand up and hold out:
      “The report said: “From a theoretical point of view, the long-term population decline, especially when it is accompanied by a continuously ageing population, is bound to cause very unfavourable social and economic consequences.” China’s population is expected to fall back to 1.36 billion by the middle of the century, it said, which could mean a decline in the workforce of as much as 200 million. If fertility rates remain unchanged, the population could fall to 1.17 billion by 2065, it said.”

      https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1067686/china-news-economy-trade-population-decline

  11. As one who self acknowledged that he “didn’t have the close-focus temperament to pursue a Ph.D” in science, Revkin certainly demonstrates the ego to preach one arm of his “science” and denigrate others. He does this all the while pretending to be open minded. I found his self-aggrandizing spiel to be quite tedious.

  12. As a “scientist” wannabe, the only word I can think of to describe Revkin’s inner-Feyman, is “tardy.” He had no real, honest curiosity during his early, heady days. He came to the wrong conclusion about CO2 very early. He still seems to own that major flaw.

    If a biologist looked at the natural environment in the early 1980s and asked himself what humans could do to help living things grow, to avert environmental disaster, the best answer would be to put more CO2 into the air in a non-destructive way. Burning fossil fuels was a human accidental form of geoengineering, which has done nothing less than insured a better life for the biosphere for centuries to come. All (most) of the fuels we’re burning, that contain all this carbon dioxide that is being freed up to return to the air where it can assist in the growing of plants, is made up of materials that were once living things. In essence, burning fossil fuels is a form of recycling. If we hope to feed 9 billion people, let alone electrify their homes, fossil fuels are like manna from heaven.

    Stop being tardy and allow that message to get through, Andy. And just for fun, imagine how your former “friends” on the radical environmental left will howl.

    • Fully agree. Well said, what we need is a tee shirt campaign. CO2 is good for the world and good for things living on the world . My slogan would be “CO2 is Good more CO2 is Better”

          • Yah, but… on the back of the shirt I’ll have Rod Evans’, “More CO2 is better.”
            😜

            Seriously, I catch glimpses of an attitude held by those indoctrinated by the Yellow Stream Media and who are scientifically illiterate that holds that CO2 must be captured and scrubbed completely from the atmosphere.

            To reach the touchy-feely population that is uninformed, you’ve got to hit them with the empathy card. With no CO2, what will plants use for food?

  13. Science is not a religion. Science can become dogma at which point it is ceases to be science. This is exactly what happen to Climate Change Theory.

    • “Science is not a religion.”
      I ‘believe’ you are right. I can not prove it, especially when ‘climate science’ is included as a science.
      I have faith my belief is correct.

      But I also am willing to demote some of the scientific ‘greats’ should their theories prove to be lacking. Thus, Niels Bohr’s model of the atom is no longer the final word (although it is easier to visualize than the latest model). Bohr has fallen from the pantheon of science gods. Darwin’s evolution theory is lacking in the understanding of cellular communication (or knowledge of cells), and thus over-simplified evolution. He has fallen from that pantheon. Even Isaac Newton no longer reigns in that space (although I still use his calculus and equations when not nearing extremes such as speed of light).

      Because I am willing to demote and dismiss as absolute the theories of these people, I believe my scientific belief is not a religion.

      But then, Christianity can claim the same evolution. Books of the Bible have come and gone (the Apocrypha, among others). It arose (evolved?) out of Judaism, as did Islam.

      Still, I believe you are correct.

  14. What the heck is a “sustainability scientist”? No doubt they are well paid members of the consultant class whose source income would vanish once the global warming/climate change gravy-train-trip ends.

  15. Before you can call yourself a climate change skeptic, you have to understand what the orthodox view is. With this thought in mind, I consider myself lucky to have followed Andy Revkin since his Dot Earth days. His blog was my first real exposure to the climate wars, actually a precursor of the political wars we find ourselves in now.

    But his blog was more than an introduction, since Revkin is an excellent writer and had an understanding of what journalism is and should be. He understands climate science and he felt it was his duty to represent it fairly. This makes him unique as a science writer, for although he’s a firm believer in the orthodox science, he understands and presents its human failings and its uncertainties.

    When the Climategate controversy broke, he was the first to publish all the emails and to recognize the incident as a watershed moment. It exposed the hubris and arrogance of the climate science establishment, which has fed climate skepticism, both the good and the bad, since 2009.

    Although no longer a journalist (he’s firmly encamped as a promoter of orthodoxy as an employee of National Geographic), his twitter feed welcomes the human angles that make climate science probably the most interesting controversy of our times. His view is that the world has to come to grips with warming, but the solutions are not as simple as converting from fossil fuels to renewables. We don’t just rid ourselves of every institution that has made the industrial age such a blessing to so many.

    I often disagree with him but his approach is always human and inclusive.

  16. Funny how Revkin travels to the north pole (using fossil fuels to get there) to look for melting ice due to people using fossil fuels.

  17. Climategate emails pretty much revealed him as a mouthpiece for the hockey team and their ilk with some quid-pro-quo.

    Here’s an infamous email from Michael Schlesinger at the Univ of Illinois with some wrist-slapping when Revkin dared write something critical (after giving the Pielkes some room to speak in previous weeks, apparently):

    “…Andy:
    Copenhagen prostitutes?
    Climate prostitutes?
    Shame on you for this gutter reportage.
    This is the second time this week I have written you thereon, the first about giving space in your blog to the Pielkes.
    The vibe that I am getting from here, there and everywhere is that your reportage is very worrisome to most climate scientists.
    Of course, your blog is your blog.
    But, I sense that you are about to experience the ‘Big Cutoff’ from those of us who believe we can no longer trust you, me included.
    Copenhagen prostitutes?
    Unbelievable and unacceptable.
    What are you doing and why?
    Michael…”

    Revkin was also fooled by the Heartland forgery, was one of the first to write about it, and tried to stand behind it when the authenticity was questioned.

  18. From the comments so far, I surmise that I am one of only a few who actually took the link to Revkin’s essay and read it. If so, let me reassure everyone that they missed nothing of note. Revkin seems to have never examined any of the science at the base of what is known about climate. He has spent his life trying to frame a message that has been given to him by others. He has beliefs but no useful knowledge about climate.

  19. CO2.
    Andy claims to have studied biology,yet through his whole essay I see no knowledge that C)2 is an essential plant food and one of the limiting factors in planetary plant growth.

    The lamentations of the Doomsters all seem so absurd in light of this simple fact.
    A carbon based life form lamenting the stuff of life.
    More CO2 equals more plant growth.
    School biology because it is true,under limits to growth.

    The essay is an interesting read,in that he begins to see his own blinders..would that we are all so lucky.
    One day he might realize that persuasion is limited,evidence is required.

  20. Perhaps I am a bit too cynical, but I view journalists generally as wannabes. Many would like power, but can only see the way to it through toadying. Some have interests in science, economics, or technology, but once again they best they can do is to write about it; actually learning science takes too long. They need to become an expert on a subject in about two or three weeks in order to meet a deadline.

    When I was an elected official I had to explain myself to the public though the press. What I learned is there was no explanation or argument I could state that was simple enough for them to write without f’ing it all up. They could not get facts stated correctly, couldn’t connect facts properly to an argument, or link them together to produce a chain of logic.

    • Andy writes well. But he takes the supposed CO2 effect as a given. He tells us that: ‘There are no clear-cut choices—only a mix of mitigation of emissions, adaptation to impacts, and suffering.’

      So, its one form of suffering or another.

      But is the Greenhouse effect real?

      It seems that, so far as the Southern Hemisphere is concerned the Greenhouse effect takes a holiday in December and January. In these months the warmest decade in the southern hemisphere occurred in 1978-87 while the decade leading up to 2017 was a tenth of a degree cooler.

      CO2 is well mixed. Its effect can be adjudged to be no more than occurs in that place and for the time where the hypothesized consequence is least. So, zilch.

      For a couple of months in each year Andy can move to the Southern Hemisphere escaping the ice and snow of New York and turn his talents to writing about something else entirely. I suggest cricket. Or take a well earned rest.

  21. The current ideology of Catastrophic Anthrogenic Global Warming, advancing into the political and social milieu with fervor had a predecessor: “Social Darwinism” emanating from the 19th Century and with catastrophic outcomes in the 20th Century.

    “Despite the fact that Social Darwinism bears Charles Darwin’s name, it is also linked today with others, notably Herbert Spencer, Thomas Malthus, and Francis Galton, the founder of eugenics.” (Wiki)

    Then as now, a science theory evolved into a social construct leading to a justification for a political class to exterminate many in society whom such elites could label as outsiders, even, undesirables; or, in the current CAGW political discourse: deplorables.

    The current work to marginalize and eventually silence the “deniers” of CAGW is well on its way. The Enlightenment along with skepticism seems to be at peril as collateral damage of Nobel Cause Corruption.

  22. I agree with Stan Robertson (above). I also followed the link and tried to read Andy’s story. I gave up about 3/4’s of the way through, as I could no longer get around the point so eloquently pointed out by Stan. Mr Revkin doesn’t really understand what he has been talking about for most of his adult life. “He has spent his life trying to frame a message that has been given to him by others.”

    In the context of his emotional assumptions, he is actually quite thoughtful. More so than most. But he is still trapped in the ‘environmental stasis/humans are unnatural’ paradigm, and cannot break free of the ideological constraints that paradigm demands. He cannot comprehend the fluid and unpredictable nature of reality that rewards those who can grasp the total picture.

    Climate change, for whatever reason it happens, is only a ‘bad’ thing to life forms that cannot take advantage of the change. Fortunately, most life forms have a much greater capacity to adapt than the folks residing in Mr. Revkin’s paradigm believe. The preponderance of evidence, from very diverse fields, clearly indicates that the Earth and the biosphere will benefit greatly from some warming and the increase in atmospheric CO2. This is so obvious, that it is difficult to understand the prevailing rantings of doom streaming from that paradigm. They seem completely irrational.

    Yet there is rationality, if I accept their founding assumptions, which, of course, I do not. Their assumptions are clearly wrong. It is the rationality deriving form false assumptions that makes arguing over the details quite useless. Yet, ‘arguing the details’ is all that we seem to do.

    When Andy Revkin says that we have only one planet, he is literally accurate, but there are multiple perceptions of the planet that are worlds apart. I do not live on the same planet as Mr. Revkin. He lives on a fragile planet that requires stasis and tender loving care from one of its millions of progeny. I live on the Earth. I have little expectation that Mr. Revkin will ever visit my planet, or ever be able to comprehend it’s beauty and resilience. I, on the other hand, have no desire to visit his world. It sounds like a horrible place.

  23. The readers letters are very interesting, , especially WADE’s.

    Perhaps we should study faith based subjects, such as both religons and also Climate Change as a mental thing.

    Why for example do we have a situation where so many people appear to have a need to Believe in something.

    Look at the TV preacher , here in Australia they appear in the early hours on TV, like 4am, so not much apparent commercial interest. But its of interest, at least to me that they can take a word or a sentence from the Bible, then talk about it for a hour.

    The audience appear to lap it up. Me I am mildly amused at their faith. , But then at age 12 I ceased to believe in supernatural beings.

    Climate change is clearly a faith, something that a lot of people want to believe in, and as with all faith systems they are then at the mercy of people who take advantage of them and their faiths.

    Perhaps we need a scientific study of this whole belief factor, the why and what of it all, but we would then get all the big guns of the faith business turned on us.. A bit like ENRON. Is a busness s now too big to be allowed to fail ?.

    One wonders if that lay preacher Jesus walking the dusty land of Roman Palistina , what he would think of the Catholic church in Rome, representing his, Jesus’s beliefs.

    MJE

  24. Until Dot Earth blog was closed in NYT, I particated in the discussions. Revakin is balanced moderator.

    sjreddy

    • Dr. S. Jevananda Reddy –

      Agreed. Revkin, whatever you think of his viewpoints on Climate Change, accomplished the rare feat of running a climate blog (discussing multiple topics concerned with the environmental state of planet earth as well as energy needs for the human race) which succeeded in attracting conscientious commenters from both camps, for the most part. In contrast to practically all other MSM outlets on the subject of Climate Change, he did not censor skeptics. Compare the Guardian’s climate page.

      Thus he managed to get skeptics as well as climate-concerned citizens and scientists to pursue a dialogue. That alone is worthy of applause.

      • Right Kurt. Andy has the inclusive personality that has allowed him to see the valid points about climate skepticism. And he realizes that we’re all conscientious people trying to find a solution to a “wicked” problem. The only other writer that comes close is Judith Curry, also a lukewarmist who’s able to see merit in most positions on climate change. Curry’s blog is unique in that there are serious warmists who feel welcome there.

        Unfortunately, Curry has distanced herself professionally from the climate debate but still makes a valiant effort to provide relevant commentary and interesting blog posts. in fact, her articles on sea level rise have pretty much disposed of this issue, at least for the short term.

        • It is good to see some of the adult voices from Revkin’s “Dot Earth” blog speak up in his defence. I commented frequently on Dot Earth from 2008 until the NYT dropped it in 2016. I often disagreed with Andy but we also found many points of agreement. The primary virtue of Dot Earth was that Andy never censured the views of those who submitted comments, whether in the warmist or the more skeptical camps. Thus it never became an echo chamber like so many other blogs. Nuance was possible, and a real debate. Dot Earth was a superior blog and the public forum is poorer for its lack.

          • I concur with those who applaud Andy’s toleration of skeptic comments. One of the highlights of my life was having bitter alarmists call his blog ‘DotKim’ a few times during the brief nine months I commented there.

            He did, however, censor at least 5 comments of mine. It was good editing, heh.
            ===============================

          • He censored some of mine too, probably for good reason, but never because of their skepticism. But Andy was unique in how he did it. A couple of times he emailed me and told me to change a sentence because of language or some other issue. He could cut you off if things got too heated – you were put in time out until you cooled off, But he was ever the gentleman. Contrast that to the behavior of many blog moderators.

            Incidentally, I’m glad to see Anthony follow in his footsteps and try to run a civil blog that’s tolerant of all points of view. There may be some censorship but I doubt it. If there were we’d hear more about it.

      • Guardian — initially the guardian included my comments, later sensorded my observations and later blocked my comments.

        Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

  25. First observation – Revkin’s article is three years old, from Winter 2019.

    Second observation – Revkin writes well and researches well, obtaining relatively in-depth comment (considering the line space offered) from acknowledged experts in the fields of interest. He has displayed a fair amount of ‘civil courage’, going beyond the cliché and calling out the most egregious hyperbole. For a widely-acclaimed reporter on environmental issues for over three decades, for notably leftist publications including the NYTimes, he invited some notable “Lukewarmists” on DotEarth to offer their point of view.

    Third observation – Revkin suffered a stroke. Give the fellow a break. His article is his personal attempt to review and rationalize his own evolution as a journalist covering the environment, as a mortal being and a father. He is also somewhat self-deprecating and humorous:

    “a liberal, Ivy League, middle-class Northeasterner”… “an agnostic lapsed Reform Jew”… “prone to a kind of reverse tribalism”

    He also plays music – can’t be all that bad!

    • Erratum: “Revkin’s article is three years old, from Winter 2019”.

      Meant to say Winter 2016, of course.

  26. Many seem to be here for the unscientific validation they get for contrarian (meaning disbelief or disagreement without sufficient evidence) beliefs. They take it as an article of faith that, as one person irrationally and 100% incorrectly claimed, there is “not a shred of empirical scientific evidence” for global warming being the dangerous trend scientists assert.

    Remember, a scientific assertion is not only a claim. A claim is something that is said to be true, with or without evidence. Religions are 100% based on claims that cannot be verified, mostly ancient claims written by people we don’t know, who used no scientific knowledge or methods to back up those claims.

    A scientific assertion is something said with confidence backed by evidence. In this case, the preponderance of established scientific evidence reveals that the Earth is warming, it has been doing so much more rapidly than historical variations would predict, due mostly to human activity since about 1850.

    The scientific assertions include that the warming has dangerous and world-changing consequences that have happened, are happening, and that much more will happen very soon. Furthermore, regardless of the other (minor and scattered) benefits to humans of these changes, most of the changes are happening at a rate that many if not most species cannot safely adapt to, upsetting entire ecosystems and intertwined, interdependent ecosystems, in the process.

    Most who post here seem mostly concerned about validation. They gloat and pick at people who disagree. They act like children happy to be elite, accepted members of a clique at elementary school. They work hard by bullying to keep out anyone they deem isn’t fit to belong because of contrary fact-based ideas. They don’t like words that make them feel bad even though they are true, factual descriptors, like words beginning with “den-” and ending in “-its” and “-ism.”

    On the other hand, even though the previous words are banned, the members of this clique are free to use phrases like “hysterical,” “warmist,” “alarmist” and other antiscience, unfactual epithets undeserved by a community of scientists who have worked very hard with great intelligence and compassion, doing the research–while this clique’s members merely sit on their butts, whining and complaining and bullying and griping on websites for years and years with no action to disprove the established science.

    The clique members want to be right, they don’t like being contradicted, they want comfort from their fellows for being right.

    That’s the subtext, which is clear because those who comment act like a little group of friends whose apple cart is being upset by some pesky activity or thing they don’t like, so they gripe and complain and pick at those who are upsetting their unusual, little empty, useless apple cart. And they direct their whining and petty hate and frustration at those who merely carry the message, created by scientists, their applecart doesn’t actually carry any apples!

    That conceit, false belief, wishful hope, easily disproved lie to oneself or whatever you want to call it, is 100% dead wrong.

    The science, which is verifiable by anyone with the training and intelligence to do it, well-established, says that the globe is warming at a rate unprecedented in history and it is damaging our planet.

    The onus of disproving that–not merely gathering to gripe and complain and poke and criticize, without a preponderance of verifiable scientific evidence– is on YOU, the person seeking to upend established science.

    No amount of armchair analysis, whining about allegedly “bought” scientists taking huge paychecks (false) from the billion-dollar industry of global warming, Climategate, other unproven conspiracy theories, and cherry-picked data and studies that don’t refute the preponderance of data, or other childlike complaining will change the results of science.

    Only you doing investigations in a correct scientific manner, using valid data and a reasonable theory that can be proved by the data, will change the fact that science.

    FACTS:
    HUMANS ARE WARMING THE EARTH TOO FAST.
    IT’S DANGEROUS IN MANY WAYS, TO US AND MANY MANY SPECIES.
    WE MUST WORK TOGETHER TO MITIGATE IT.

    It’s certainly your American constitutional right to complain. It’s also your constitutional right to look ridiculous pathetic and fact-free.

    Get up off your couches and chairs and get a climate science degree and prove the Science wrong! Otherwise keep flapping your tongues. The wind you make certainly isn’t pretty or useful.

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