Climate Science Glossary

Term Lookup

Enter a term in the search box to find its definition.

Settings

Use the controls in the far right panel to increase or decrease the number of terms automatically displayed (or to completely turn that feature off).

Term Lookup

Settings


All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

Home Arguments Software Resources Comments The Consensus Project Translations About Donate

Twitter Facebook YouTube Pinterest

RSS Posts RSS Comments Email Subscribe


Climate's changed before
It's the sun
It's not bad
There is no consensus
It's cooling
Models are unreliable
Temp record is unreliable
Animals and plants can adapt
It hasn't warmed since 1998
Antarctica is gaining ice
View All Arguments...



Username
Password
Keep me logged in
New? Register here
Forgot your password?

Latest Posts

Archives

McManufactured Controversy

Posted on 22 June 2011 by dana1981

NOTE: this is a sister post to IPCC Report on Renewable Energy, regarding the manufactured controversy associated with that report

Self-proclaimed climate auditor Steve McIntyre has managed to manufacture a controversy out of the recently-published IPCC Report on Renewable Energy (SRREN), based on the simple fact that one of the nine lead authors to its Chapter 10 (and 272 contributors to the report) works at Greenpeace, and was the lead author on the most aggressive renewable energy scenario referenced in the report (77% of global energy demand met by renewables in 2050).  McIntyre's criticism is the very definition of ad hominem - suggesting that the report is flawed because of who wrote it, rather than its contents.  In fact, McIntyre goes well beyond criticizing the report:

"Everyone in IPCC WG3 should be terminated and, if the institution is to continue, it should be re-structured from scratch."

While we're still trying to figure out what ad hominem attacks have to do with climate auditing, McIntyre jumps the shark and asserts that all of the hundreds of contributors to the WG3 reports should be terminated because one of the lead authors – an energy expert who has published peer-reviewed research on the subject – works for Greenpeace.  And unfortunately, a few other influential figures (i.e. Mark Lynas and Anthony Watts) have bought into McIntyre's glaring logical fallacy.

Fortunately some other popular climate bloggers have more accurately written about this non-controversy (i.e. Michael Tobis, Joe RommThe Carbon Brief, and The Policy Lass).  Ultimately what this boils down to is that the paper in dispute (Teske et al. 2011) had five other co-authors (all energy experts) and was published in a peer-reviewed journal.  Moreover, as discussed in the IPCC Report on Renewable Energy post, the conclusion (77% of global energy demand can be met with renewables by 2050) is not even the most aggressive published plan.  There have been a number of studies and reports concluding that meeting 100% of energy needs with renewable sources by 2050 is feasible on both a regional and global level, as we discussed in the Advanced rebuttal to "Renewables can't provide baseload power".

Now, it may be argued that the 77% goal is not politically realistic, but the IPCC report did not and cannot evaluate political feasibility.  It can only examine technological and economic feasibility, and high renewable energy penetration goals meet both of these criteria.  However, it should also be noted that while the report itself is technically sound, there are some valid criticisms of the associated press release, as summarized well by The Carbon Brief.

One final irony is worth pointing out: while one contributor to SRREN came from Greenpeace, three came from Chevron (though one from its geothermal research wing), one from Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, and one from a mining company.  In fact, one of Teske's co-authors on Chapter 10 of the report was Raymond Wright from Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica.  Somehow we haven't seen any complaints over his conflict of interest.  Apparently McIntyre et al. have something of a double standard on this issue.

Until the "skeptics" and "auditors" can come up with substantive scientific arguments rather than empty logical fallacies, it would behoove those of us who understand the magnitude of the climate problem and importance of addressing it (like Mark Lynas) to simply ignore these manufactured controversies rather than magnifying them.  Manufactured controversies can't change the laws of physics.  Reality remains unchanged; we need to begin taking major steps to reduce GHG emissions immediately, which will require major penetration of renewables into the energy production mix.

0 0

Bookmark and Share Printable Version  |  Link to this page

Comments

1  2  Next

Comments 1 to 50 out of 63:

  1. I would say that Mark Lynas has been the leader in exposing the conflicts.

    http://www.marklynas.org/2011/06/new-ipcc-error-renewables-report-conclusion-was-dictated-by-greenpeace/
    0 0
  2. You might want to add Andy Revkin (who runs the DotEarth blog for the NY Times) to your list of sinners.

    "Now, it may be argued that the 77% goal is not politically realistic, but the IPCC report did not and cannot evaluate political feasibility."

    He fails to make that distinction and it's clear that he didn't bother to read the report before jumping on the bandwagon because he stated that the report ignored the magnitude of the investment cost that would be required if that goal were to be met. His error was pointed out to him in the comments, and he amended it, but it's the kind of error that only gets made if you've not read the report you're criticizing ...
    0 0
  3. Eric... I would suggest reading the full article before posting. The link you're providing is already provided in the body of the article.
    0 0
  4. I would say that Mark Lynas is full of it.

    The very URL exposes his error: "new-ipcc-error-renewables-report-conclusion-was-dictated-by-greenpeace"

    That's simply a lie, pure and simple.

    So is his claim that the peer-reviewed paper in question is "grey literature". That's just bullshit. In essence he says "I don't like the journal, therefore IMO it's grey literature".
    0 0
  5. "I would suggest reading the full article before posting"

    It would be nice, wouldn't it? Just as it would've been nice if Revkin had read the report he was criticizing before jumping on the "IPCC == greenpeace == evil" bandwagon.
    0 0
  6. Eric, Lynas has echoed the sensationalism--indeed, I might say alarmism--of McIntyre. Further, he has, like Watts, allowed his comment stream to fill up with garbage and shown an unwillingness to address the garbage. When the larger context is understood--as dana points out--then the strong reaction to it ("more of the hoax!") appears not only uncritical but a little insidious. We might use the analogy of the dam here: critics are looking for the slightest, tiniest crack in the dam, because small cracks can become large cracks and lead to the complete failure of the dam (AGW). That's how the integrity of the attacks is being presented: one possible flaw, even though tiny and not central to the findings, is cast as evidence that the entire document is fatally flawed. Yet the IPCC report is not a dam. It is more like a forest. Teske et al. (2010) was peer reviewed, but if it still represents a conflict of interest, if you think (without evidence presented ("exposing the conflicts")) that it's still a flaw in the process, then it is a tiny flaw--one plant in the forest. If the plant dies, the forest still lives (indeed, it grows stronger on the decomposition of that plant).

    It's rather more interesting that McIntyre, Watts, and their comment-bots need to seize upon and seriously misrepresent this rather insignificant element of the report. Given the context, it doesn't just suggest desperation; it is desperate.
    0 0
  7. Eric #1 - it's pretty clear that McIntyre has been the leader of this manufactured controversy, and Lynas jumped on his bandwagon, though he may have taken it further.

    dhogaza - true, Revkin's initial reporting on the subject was quite poor. If we were making a list, we could also include Keith Kloor, from what I've heard (I haven't visited his site recently). But I didn't intend to make a list, just to provide a few examples of poor vs. good coverage of the subject.

    And it's certainly not even remotely true that Greenpeace dictated the conclusion of the report.
    0 0
  8. dhogaza: "The very URL exposes his error: "new-ipcc-error-renewables-report-conclusion-was-dictated-by-greenpeace"

    DSL: "Further, he has, like Watts, allowed his comment stream to fill up with garbage and shown an unwillingness to address the garbage."

    Lynas has also shown an unwillingness to address critique of his arguments. I tried multiple times to point out the obvious problem with the headline (that dhogaza linked to) and other arguments on his blog, but to no avail. Then he comes back with the "circle the wagons" response to characterize anyone dissenting from his argument. End of discussion.

    Minor issue with Dana's point: "And unfortunately, a few other influential figures (i.e. Mark Lynas and Anthony Watts) have bought into McIntyre's glaring logical fallacy."

    Watts would predictably buy anything that bashes the IPCC, so that's not a matter of chance.
    0 0
    Response:

    [dana1981] Agreed re Watts, but it's still unfortunate

  9. Keith Kloor's not fit to wipe Revkin's shoes, in terms of influence, so I didn't bother mentioning him. I think Revkin's definitely worth pointing out, though, since he's possibly the most prominent NY Times voice on climate change issues and has a long standing track record of using folks like RPJr as his go-to source on the science (rather than, well, climate scientists).

    That's how the integrity of the attacks is being presented: one possible flaw, even though tiny and not central to the findings, is cast as evidence that the entire document is fatally flawed.


    Not just the document, but the entire IPCC. That's what they're after, bringing down the IPCC.

    Never mind that WG3 is much less rigorous than the most important working group, WG1, which analyzes and summarizes the state of the science. If you can undercut one group's work, even a small part of it, even on points which have no merit, you can undercut the entire process or even kill it entirely.
    0 0
  10. While generally rather ignorant of Australian politics, it's my understanding that they are ramping up to vote on a carbon tax.

    This would be a significant move towards controlling CO2 emissions - a major country investing in controlling their GHG footprint. Given that, it's not all that surprising that various "skeptic" sources are ranting loudly; JoNova, Watts, assorted 'Business as Usual' associated mouthpieces, etc.

    While not confident about it, I'm hopeful that the increasing rant level, decreasing rationality of objections, and yelling about such terribly minor issues as the authorship of this peer reviewed article indicate that the deniers are beginning to run out of steam. They can still do a lot of damage in the political arena, but I believe it's becoming more and more obvious to the public that their objections are, to a great extent, hollow shells...
    0 0
  11. This controversy is not about the facts or about science. It’s about the perception of the impartiality of the IPCC: it’s politics and PR. Frankly, I’m amazed after all the controversy that the IPCC has faced in the past few years that they believed that they could maintain an aura of impartiality while including a Greenpeace employee as a Lead Author. The prominent Canadian skeptic who is a master of making McMountains out of molehills plainly goes too far when he calls for all WG3 contributors to be terminated. On the other hand, it’s an error, I think, to maintain that there’s nothing that needs to be fixed at the IPCC, especially when it comes to reports on the fields of research outside the physical sciences.

    Among large sectors of the public, Greenpeace has a reputation as a strident militant organization, more concerned with publicity-seeking, high-profile stunts (for example in Greenland or in Turkey), rather than being a research organization, devoted to following the facts diligently, wherever they may lead. Obviously, that’s not the way that many at the IPCC see it. According to Oliver Morton —“Babbage”— in The Economist (making the case more strongly than I would):

    The world of renewable energy has a very strong party line, based on a belief in its moral superiority and ultimately inevitable triumph. In this world Greenpeace doesn’t look fantastical, shrill and occasionally criminal, as it does to many in business; it seems a “stakeholder” among others. And it is in this world that most of those who study and profit from renewables, not to mention a lot of those who set relevant policies, are likely to spend their days.


    Yes, being suspicious of an author’s contribution based on where he is employed is an ad hominem argument, but when it comes to trust and reputation, guilt by association trumps the rules of logic, especially in a world where few people are able to sort through the details but everyone can see where the authors’ pay checks come from.

    For the WG2 and WG3 areas of research, it’s inevitable that non peer-reviewed “grey” literature is going to have to be referenced. Also, many of the experts in these areas are employed by energy companies, industry lobby groups and NGO’s; preventing them from contributing to the IPCC process would not be desirable, since a big fraction of the latest expertise would then be excluded. Commercial interests and political agendas are hard to unscramble from the basic technical research in any discussion on the merits and challenges of emerging technologies. Therefore, to maintain its reputation as a source of reliable and unbiased summaries of the state of knowledge, the IPCC surely needs to adopt particularly strict standards on possible or even just perceived conflicts of interest in these areas.

    At the very least, surely, employees of highly politicised advocacy organizations like Greenpeace should not be appointed as Lead Authors. It’s true that no fuss has been made about the participation of oil company employees to the SRREN, but most of them were not Lead Authors, and contributions with obvious big oil provenance were not prominent in the report nor highlighted in the IPCC press release.

    It’s no use just saying that the facts are all on the IPCC’s side; as the Skeptical Science blog repeatedly shows, contrarians lose every battle in the scientific arena. The AR4 WG1 report is beyond reproach. Yet, judging from the negligible progress we have made in arresting emissions, the inactivists are nonetheless winning the war. In Canada and the US, our leaders can scarcely bring themselves to utter the words “climate change”. The expansion of the tar sands in Canada is a major driver of economic growth; the largest and growing export from Australia is coal. In times of economic uncertainty, winning over the public to the idea that we have to shut down these industries over the next decade or two requires a compelling narrative and scrupulously unbiased information backing it up. To quote George Monbiot (from faulty memory), we need to do better than say that: “providing we radically restructure our economy, then the climate won’t be as bad as it otherwise might have been”. Against this we hear the misleading but more easily digestible: . “And now Greenpeace is writing the IPCC reports”
    0 0
  12. For the WG2 and WG3 areas of research, it’s inevitable that non peer-reviewed “grey” literature is going to have to be referenced.


    What does this have to do with the inclusion of peer-reviewed research published in a legitimate journal in the report being discussed?

    At the very least, surely, employees of highly politicised advocacy organizations like Greenpeace should not be appointed as Lead Authors.


    Take it up with the German government, then, he was their choice ...
    0 0
  13. Andy S:

    You're essentially saying that the game has to be played by the rules laid out by Steve McIntyre and other denialists (though I actually haven't seen a written version of those rules).

    If the denialists are allowed to define the rules, they will have won. Pure and simple.
    0 0
  14. Andy S, if we were to apply the 'guilt by association' logic you are arguing then we would also have to rail against the inclusion of materials by McIntyre himself, Christy, the Pielke's, and various other skeptics who have been referenced in or worked on IPCC reports... given their connections to the fossil fuel industry.

    More reasonable to discuss positions on their merits... but in that case the 'skeptics' don't have a leg to stand on. Hence the gamesmanship.
    0 0
  15. dhogaza 12 and 13: no I'm not supporting McIntyre's rules, as I made clear in the first paragraph. I'm also not saying that anyone one from Greenpeace should be excluded from contributing to the IPCC, especially if they have written peer-reviewed articles, just that they shouldn't be Lead Authors. The same should go for employees of the Cato Institute, SaudiAramco or Exxon-Mobil.
    0 0
  16. CBD 14 I'm arguing that nobody who has a vested interest through their employment, either with a corporation or a political advocacy organisation, should have an editorial role at the IPCC. The case for academics who receive some of their funding from energy companies (fossil fuel or renewable) is admittedly not so clear-cut.
    0 0
  17. If done correctly, and with an eye toward improvement on PR, what Andy S is suggesting is not really bowing to the demands of people like McIntyre. If the IPCC were to do that, as we all know from over a decade of his nonsense, the changes would never stop, and we can all figure where the endgame is. While I disagree with Andy S about automatically disqualifying people, for whatever reason, I agree that there should already be a CoI strategy to deal with these matters, both internally and PR-wise. Somehow, this caught them off-guard, probably because the WG's II and III and very different from WG1, and they did not expect the same adherence to scientific protocol (grey lit, industry connection, etc).

    The alliance with Lynas is a different story. Lynas is very critical of the anti-nuke movement within the "greens". He understands the need to decarbonize the atmosphere ASAP and understands the political implications of not agreeing to nuclear concessions, and other negotiable energy sources involved, with which I am in agreement. I do hope he realizes that his motivations and that of others involved are not equivalent.
    0 0
  18. I disagree with the core of your complaint, Andy. It either sounds like you want scientists to be removed from lead authorship for rhetorical purposes (to avoid the consequences in the war of words), or it sounds like you want scientists to be apolitical (impossible, given what's at stake -- there is a conflict of interest for any human being). All of the involved scientists are associated with institutions. According to many of the doubters, the fact that a scientist is being paid by a government is an immediate sign of corruption. According to many of those who accept AGW, anyone who works for an oil company is corrupt. Despite all the corruption, science does manage to get done. The contributions must be weighed according to their scientific merit not according to their authors.

    Yes, I know: in the necessarily simplified world of the unwashed, non-scientific masses, scientific merit is impossible to read. The association of the author is a much more readable (and inaccurate) sign. So back to the other possibility: are you advocating for lead authors to step down if their associations are too politically volatile? I suspect that such a practice would itself be much more damaging to the reputation of organized science.
    0 0
  19. To follow up on Andy's point, by choosing Teske as a lead author, the IPCC effectively gave McIntyre the opportunity to create this manufactured controversy. You could argue the choice was a PR mistake.

    On the other hand, it clearly reveals the bias and double-standard of McIntyre and co, since Greenpeace isn't allowed to have a lead author, but a petroleum company is.

    Ultimately the IPCC is trying to get experts to contribute to these reports, and they clearly place expertise over affiliation in their selection process. I guess the question is whether they need to try and anticipate the attacks of denialists like McIntyre when making those selections.

    The funny thing to me is that this report was just about how much energy we can produce from renewable sources, and there's this huge controversy like meeting a high percentage of our energy demands with renewable sources is such a bad thing!
    0 0
  20. The funny thing to me is that this report was just about how much energy we can produce from renewable sources, and there's this huge controversy like meeting a high percentage of our energy demands with renewable sources is such a bad thing!


    What's funny about it? If we can decarbonize without crippling the world economy, then the economic argument against taking action disappears.

    If they can't hide behind the cover of science skepticism and economic alarmism, their political and big business motivations are laid bare ...
    0 0
  21. dhogaza - 'funny' as in "WTF is going on?". An absurd sort of funny. Like how can there be such a kerfuffle over trying to ramp up renewable energy production? Unless you're pro-fossil fuels and/or pro-nuclear, I suppose.
    0 0
  22. yes, I understood your use of "funny".

    "Like how can there be such a kerfuffle over trying to ramp up renewable energy production? Unless you're pro-fossil fuels and/or pro-nuclear, I suppose."

    Exactly. The economic argument for inaction is that essentially decarbonization would be so destructive to the economy that (in the extreme denialist view) we'd virtually have to give up anything resembling our modern lifestyle.

    Present research that points to a path that can lead to decarbonization while maintaining prosperity and you've destroyed that argument. Which puts the fossil fuel interests in a bind. But also those who oppose any form of collectivist (government) action on principle...
    0 0
  23. Andy,
    I agree with you. The inclusion as lead author gives the impression of partiality. Especially since this is not the first time that the IPCC has been associated with greenpeace.

    Dana,
    I agree that it is a PR nightmare for the IPCC, coming at a time when they can least afford it. People will rememeber the greenpeace connection much more than the report content.
    0 0
  24. I still can't see the scandal given that there are several people from the private sector between the lead authors of the report. Doesn't they have vested interested as well? Should they leave them out as well?
    I don't think it's correct to judge along this line. The Governments who nominated them apparently chose to have both. When we look for solutions it is and should be inevitable to invlove those people as well.
    0 0
  25. Eric said... "People will rememeber the greenpeace connection much more than the report content."

    And that's exactly why it's a manufactured controversy. McI et al (probably) understand that there isn't much there to impugn the report. They just want to stir up the dirt.
    0 0
  26. 25, Rob Honeycutt,
    They just want to stir up the dirt.
    Let them. The mercury is rising, the ice is melting, the fires are burning, and summer hasn't even started. It's sad, because we've all seen it coming, but I have a feeling that within a few years every ridiculous stretch like this one is going to add up to a major "holy cow, what were we thinking listening to these clowns?"

    Utlimately, only the court jesters that frequent the court of WUWT will fail to see that something is amiss, and that more attention should be paid to the real scientists than to the wizards behind the curtains, frantically pulling levers and speaking into oversized microphones.
    0 0
    Response:

    [DB] Fixed tag.

  27. Sphaerica... You know, that is exactly my thinking as well. I think SkS is doing a good job of making information available regarding all their claims, but ultimately it comes down to people's interest in the issue. The more and more the McI's of the world go overboard with these sorts of baseless claims, the sooner people will stop listening to them and start listening to the actual scientists. (Boy who cried wolf-syndrome.)
    0 0
  28. 19, dana1981 - 'On the other hand, it clearly reveals the bias and double-standard of McIntyre and co, since Greenpeace isn't allowed to have a lead author, but a petroleum company is.'

    Well, McIntyre isn't actually suggesting that Greenpeace shouldn't be allowed involvement I don't think, though that is the message everyone else on his site is taking away. He's mainly leading on 'Headline of press release was misleading/ambiguous - it's unreasonable to expect journalists to read any further than that' and 'Conflict of Interest - Teske maybe involved in selecting own study as focus.'

    Lynas has introduced various arguments but it's clear for him the only important point is that any ties between Greenpeace and the IPCC are unacceptable. I think he has a history with them, particularly regarding nuclear power.
    0 0
  29. Andy S & Eric the Red,

    Do you think that scientists employed by petroleum companies should also be banned from being IPCC Lead Authors? Would there be any PR problems associated with that?

    As Dana said above, disparaging somebody work's on the basis of their associations rather than the content of the work is the pure essence of an ad hominem fallacy.

    No amount of kowtowing to those who manufacture controversy will stop them from doing so.
    0 0
  30. pauls - if McIntyre had limited his criticisms to the press release, I wouldn't have had a problem with that. But he went a tad bit further.
    "Everyone in IPCC WG3 should be terminated and, if the institution is to continue, it should be re-structured from scratch."
    I'd say that's a tad bit extreme if you're only complaint is about a flawed press release.

    As for the selection of Teske's study, it's only logical since it was the scenario with the largest renewable penetration. That's the one I would have chosen to highlight too.
    0 0
  31. Considering how McIntyre has been trying to fool and mislead everybody for years, him accusing others of doing so is laughable. No attention should be paid to this charlatan, but, unfortunately, attention is easy to get in this World.
    0 0
  32. Bibliovermis @ 29

    Yes I do think that anyone working for an energy company or a political advocacy group should not be a Lead Author/Editor of a report like the SSREN (see me @ 15, above). But I recognize (as I said in my post @11) that the IPCC probably can't be/shouldn't be as picky when it comes to contributing authors, which is all the more reason to have people who are clearly unconflicted making the final decisions on content and emphasis.

    For what it's worth, the report would have been diminished without Teske's scenario being included. I think. However, the report would have been more convincing, especially to skeptics, if the senior authors had all been people--probably tenured academics--whose integrity and independence from any pressure from their employers could be clearly demonstrated.

    Basically, my objection is that the IPCC's political tone-deafness is making the contrarians' rhetorical case for them.
    0 0
  33. It is time that we in the real world started just ignoring this crap isn't it? I mean, someone who is so concerned about the environment that they join an environmental group mustn't be one of a number of people summarising the (accessible) work of many other people because ... well, um, because he is obviously concerned about the environment and we wouldn't want anyone like that involved in thinking about the environment ... A ten year old schoolboy of below average intelligence could see through the illogic of that and yet it is presented by a couple of people and we all run around saying oh my goodness gracious quite right, environmental concern should really play no part in our consideration of the future of the environment. Time to ignore these mendacious fools.

    Oh, and Monckton? A five year old of below average intelligence would think his performance about "Nazis" would be over the top in the preschool. Again let's start ignoring him.

    Plenty of other people will treat them seriously, like our retiring senator Mr Minchin who announced proudly this week that he might set up a "Friends of CO2" group on retirement. Laugh? I nearly died.
    0 0
  34. David Horton: we can't just ignore it, because debate in the public sphere isn't about who is right, it's about who shouts the loudest and the longest.

    Disinformation like this needs to be fought by providing actual, verifiable, factually correct information. Eventually, some of the journalists covering climate change stories might start to include it themselves in their coverage (assuming their editors let them present a slightly less imbalanced viewpoint, that is!). The more the general public see that these deniers are just blowing off steam, the more they'll pay attention to what the actual scientists have to say. It'll be a long, hard road, but it's one that must be travelled.

    As for Monckton: yes, I hope he pulls out that swastika slide at his presentation in Perth. If he does, I think that one slide will do more for climate change science that an entire presentation by a real climate scientist...
    0 0
  35. Andy,

    Controversy manufacturers will spin anything to suit their purpose. Preventing energy experts from authoring energy chapters will not quiet the muckrakers.

    This is another one of those contrarian contradictions. The IPCC is a purely political ploy that is politically tone-deaf... right.
    0 0
  36. "They just want to stir up the dirt." and what's so dirty in Greenpeace? I'm not a member though.

    But still, the message here was that 77% of the energy could be from renewables by 2050.
    0 0
  37. Andy, nothing that goes toward controlling CO2 emissions will ever be credible to so-called skeptics, no matter what.
    0 0
  38. Phillipe@37

    You may well be correct, probably the hard-core skeptics never will be convinced by anything; a lot of them are pretty dug in, I agree. However, the group we are trying to reach are the many people in the middle who don't have a strong opinion either way. Without them on side, we're going nowhere.

    Recent polls show that US public opinion is growing more skeptical, even as the evidence mounts. The evidence says that the contrarians are winning the only debate that matters.

    Urging those in the real world to ignore this crap, as David Horton@33 writes,sounds more like capitulation than a winning strategy to me.
    0 0
  39. "Urging those in the real world to ignore this crap, as David Horton@33 writes,sounds more like capitulation than a winning strategy to me." - if you knew me you would know that precisely the opposite was true. I just think that (a) we are constantly on the back foot as each new bit of idiocy comes up, constantly responding, being defensive, instead of offensive, and (b) treating this sort of crap as if it was a serious comment dignifies it and magnifies it into exactly that. McIntyre would hate to be ignored!
    0 0
  40. David Horton
    "(a) we are constantly on the back foot as each new bit of idiocy comes up, constantly responding, being defensive, instead of offensive, and (b) treating this sort of crap as if it was a serious comment dignifies it and magnifies it into exactly that. McIntyre would hate to be ignored! "

    Good points. This is why the IPCC should have had something in place to deal with this before. They didn't, so they, and anyone defending them, look like they are playing catch-up. Had this not been picked up and run with by Lynas, there'd be less reason to worry about the PR aspect. But Lynas' response has been spun to be anti-IPCC when the situation is much more nuanced. He's like a their trophy.
    0 0
  41. The world has come to a strange place when the suggestion is now made that science needs PR to be able to get its message across properly, and all those involved in it need to have no external associations with any group that can be used as propaganda against them - whether valid or not, doesn't matter.

    And it is certainly true that people like McIntyre would hate to be ignored. What would be even better, would be to use their own tactics against them, i.e.

    'McIntyre said "Everyone in IPCC WG3 should be terminated" - that is a shocking demand, tantamount to asking for death sentences on everyone involved in IPC WG3.'

    Not what he was suggesting ? How does anyone know that for sure ? Maybe he should release all his emails, so we can see what he really thinks. Until then, anyone can believe what they want about him and can make things up as they see fit - a tactic known as so-called skepticism.
    0 0
  42. JMurphy, the reason most scientists wont go around claiming McIntyre was demanding WG3 be put to death, is that they have moral integrity that they wont compromise to make a political point.

    Yet another point of differentiation with the hardcore deniers, some of whom seem to have sold their souls, and their scientific integrity, to the devil that is the fossil fuel industry.

    While I admit it would be very tempting to start slinging mud, if you do, you'll end up with a discourse akin to that seen in Question Time in the parliament (for those outside Australia - picture two bunchs of petulant children from different clubs screaming at each other across a fence, and you wouldn't be far wrong. If you're still curious, you can see video here.)
    0 0
  43. 30, dana1981 - 'if McIntyre had limited his criticisms to the press release, I wouldn't have had a problem with that. But he went a tad bit further.

    "Everyone in IPCC WG3 should be terminated and, if the institution is to continue, it should be re-structured from scratch."

    I'd say that's a tad bit extreme if you're only complaint is about a flawed press release.'

    It's very extreme invective but nonetheless his complaints as written are banal on one point and unfounded on the other. You should probably know by now this is NFM - Normal for McIntyre.
    0 0
  44. I do not believe that science needs PR. The issue is not about the science of the work, but rather the politics. As suggested, using Teske as a contributing author is fine. However, making him lead author can give the impression of partiality.

    Politics needs positive PR, and always has, especially when the most recent PR has been negative.
    0 0
  45. Eric the Red @44, why should making Teske a lead author create an impression of partiality?

    As a lead author, Teske has less influence on the report than the two Coordinating Lead Authors of Chapter ten, Prof. Dr. Manfred Fischedick and Roberto Schaeffer. He also had no more influence than any of the eight other lead authors, Akintayo  Adedoyin (Botswana), Makoto Akai (Japan), Thomas Bruckner (Germany), Leon Clarke (USA),
    Volker Krey (Austria/Germany), Ilkka Savolainen (Finland), Diana Ürge‐Vorsatz (Hungary), Raymond Wright (Jamaica)

    And why does it give an "impression of partiality" to have a member of Greenpeace as a lead author, but not give an impression of partiality to have a lead author on the same chapter with a direct financial interest in fossil fuels? Is there some subtle principle that says that members of Greenpeace automatically have a conflict of interest if they work for the IPCC but Special Project Managers for fossil fuel related companies do not?

    What I think we have here is a very clear double standard. Greenpeace personnel are persona non grata simply because McIntyre and Lynas, and apparently, you do not like Greenpeace's political views and wish to censor them. Whereas Raymond Wright, who has been "... a Consultant to companies and governments in all continents except Australia" and is currently "Special Projects Manager at the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica", and that is not even worth mentioning.

    Nor has any issue been raise about Leon Clark being a co-author of the paper on which the third scenario was based, nor apparently any concern that Teske was an author of the paper (the same one as it happens) from which scenario one was drawn from.

    The only thing that is creating an "impression of partiality" here is a deliberate and unwarranted beat up by McIntyre that has been uncritically repeated by others with a desire to stick a knife into Greenpeace. The correct response is completely reject his absurd claims and show why it is a beat up. And to demand of McIntyre and of anybody who uncritically repeats him a full list of those organisations whose politics is so unacceptable that no member of that organisation is permitted to work as a scientist.
    0 0
  46. AndyS:

    However, the report would have been more convincing, especially to skeptics, if the senior authors had all been people--probably tenured academics--whose integrity and independence from any pressure from their employers could be clearly demonstrated.


    You're living in a fantasy land. Look at all the scorn heaped on tenured academics by McIntyre, the press, etc after "Climategate".

    Eric the Red:

    As suggested, using Teske as a contributing author is fine. However, making him lead author can give the impression of partiality.


    More fantasy land. McIntyre would've been screaming as loudly if Teske had "only" been a contributing author. We'd still be seeing all the crap about its being unacceptable to include a paper written by a Greenpeace employee.
    0 0
  47. The only thing that is creating an "impression of partiality" here is a deliberate and unwarranted beat up by McIntyre that has been uncritically repeated by others with a desire to stick a knife into Greenpeace


    Into the IPCC ... Greenpeace is the excuse, bringing down the IPCC the goal.
    0 0
  48. I agree with Andy to an extent, David. I would add, though, that we're not fighting with McIntyre, Watts, et al. Rather, we're fighting with public perception and governmental policy-makers (owned by various interests, but primarily by big business). Michaels and Lindzen might be laughingstocks to working scientists, but the public is generally unaware of this, and various powerful members of the U.S. Congress know it (actually, every member and attendant consultants know it). They know all the public sees is "scientist," and the public has no basis to judge one from another. The public will typically respond to the message that makes them feel most comfortable (George W Bush as a regular, grew-up-down-the-block Joe actually worked), until the evidence begins to shift probability toward reality. Then the public will get angry, but the damage will be done. This is the same pattern politicians have worked through since the beginning of mass media.

    The answer to this is to overwhelm the public with evidence. Demand that mass media news step up to reality. Use the internet to force mass media news to compete with one another for the truth. Right now, I'd say that the message of the necessity of sustainability is winning in the U.S., but the empowerment of that message is losing. In other words, yes, the world is getting worse and we're the cause, but we can't really do anything about it. It's too hard. We'll have to give up our individual liberty. We'll become socialist or maybe even communist. We'll have to give up all the good things in life. We'll have to sacrifice and suffer. People want a miracle cure, as the strong response to renewables indicates (some wait for the miracle, and some see miracles--and thus renewables--as fantasy). Renewables are not a miracle cure. They will ultimately require significant economic and subsequent cultural change. That's the barrier we face.

    So McIntyre, Watts, et al. would indeed be worth ignoring if the issue was beetle wings. It is not. Instead, these normally powerless doubters become life preservers--a defense mechanism to save people from drowning in a sea of change. Their science needs to be revealed for what it is, and they need to then be publicly ridiculed (thank you, Tamino)--until, of course, they actually start acknowledging the probabilities and attacking the anti-scientific rhetoric that they currently actively and passively support. Then they stop functioning as life preservers.

    The only other way to disempower them is to wait for the evidence to build up. And it is building up.
    0 0
  49. DSL,
    ...is to wait for the evidence to build up. And it is building up.
    Here we are and it is only the first day of summer, 2011.

    The mercury is rising... temperatures are quickly approaching those of last year -- but there's no El Niño firing it this time around.

    The ice is melting -- it appears to be a week to three ahead of last year, and 2007, when looking at it in detail instead of a mere 15%-sea-ice-extent graph. The actual images are scary.

    The fires are burning. From that page: "Wildfires in 2011 have so far consumed more than 6 times the ten-year average, and rising."

    And summer hasn't even started.

    Weather is fickle, but climate is not. Time is going to tell, and evidence is that at least for the moment, time may tell sooner than we think.
    0 0
  50. DSL,

    Good post. Science evidence will prevail eventually. It make a year, it may take longer. History has shown that people like to hold their own beliefs sacred, and new ones take time to become acclimated.

    Sphaerica,

    The mercury is rising because it is summertime. Compared to last year, 2011 is still much cooler (~0.2C based on both CRU and NOAA data and 0.3C according to GISS). It may be due to the lack of an El Nino as you mentioned.

    Arctic sea ice is now greater than in 2010 according to several reporting agencies, so the week to three ahead can be scrapped also.

    Weather is definitely fickle. Probably the main reason that 2011 is very unlikely to approach 2010 in warmth. We will probably have to wait until at least next year.
    0 0
    Response:

    [DB] "Arctic sea ice is now greater than in 2010 according to several reporting agencies, so the week to three ahead can be scrapped also."

    Patently untrue for the metric that matters most, volume.  The only reason extent and area are similar at all to 2010 is due to the record spring melt of 2010 (which period ended about this time last year; 2010 ice loss then stalled for all of July and part of August) and the much greater spreading of the thinner ice this year.  With the majority of the melt season yet ahead, 2011 will show record ice losses in volume and likely in extent and area as well.

    But that was a nice attempt to manufacture doubt and controversy.

1  2  Next

You need to be logged in to post a comment. Login via the left margin or if you're new, register here.



The Consensus Project Website

TEXTBOOK

THE ESCALATOR

(free to republish)

THE DEBUNKING HANDBOOK

BOOK NOW AVAILABLE

The Scientific Guide to
Global Warming Skepticism

Smartphone Apps

iPhone
Android
Nokia

© Copyright 2014 John Cook
Home | Links | Translations | About Us | Contact Us