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Are you a genuine skeptic or a climate denier?

Posted on 30 May 2011 by John Cook

The ABC Drum have just published my article Are you a genuine skeptic or a climate denier? Right now, there are no comments but I imagine the discussion will get fierce shortly so be sure to keep an eye on it (expect to see all the traits of denial I describe rear their ugly head in the comments and be quick to point them out). An excerpt:

In the charged discussions about climate, the words skeptic and denier are often thrown around. But what do these words mean?

Consider the following definitions. Genuine skeptics consider all the evidence in their search for the truth. Deniers, on the other hand, refuse to accept any evidence that conflicts with their pre-determined views.

So here's one way to tell if you're a genuine skeptic or a climate denier.

Read full article...

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/img/presenters_sm/robyn_williams.jpgSkeptical Science and our book Climate Change Denial have been popping up elsewhere in the media over the last few weeks. My co-author Haydn and I appeared on Robyn William's Science Show a few weeks ago - you can listen to streaming audio or download the interview in mp3 format. The Science Show webpage also has a transcript of the whole interview.

On the morning of the Sydney book launch, I did an interview with John Stanley from the Sydney commercial radio station 2UE. You can listen to an mp3 of the interview here. Many thanks to 2UE for letting me republish the interview here on Skeptical Science and thanks to John just for having the interview - I wonder how many angry emails he received from 2UE listeners afterwards.

After our Sydney and Canberra book launches (more on that in a future post), Haydn and I returned to Sydney to record an interview with James Valentine at ABC 702. This interview gave us the opportunity to do something I've been looking forward to for a while - respond to talk-back callers. Sure enough, the first caller was a geologist enquiring about past climate change!

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Comments 251 to 300 out of 464:

  1. Sorry. The Bob I referred to above was Sphaerica.
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  2. J Bob,
    They do.

    You missed the point. If the land warms, and the oceans cool, then the mean temperature of the globe has not changed, and the reverse will eventually happen.

    When "natural variability" involves shuffling heat from here to there, it's not climate change (or rather, if prolonged, it's regional climate change), and it's not really changing anything.

    This is why most arguments for natural variability fail. It can't be as simple as "the oceans did it" or "ENSO did it." There has to be more to it than that. There has to be an explicable net change in the influx or outflux of energy in the system, or else it's just... magic.

    And I don't believe in magic.
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  3. 253, adelady,

    Absolutely, yes, and a very important distinction. "Skeptic" does not mean crotchety old man who won't believe anything unless he see it with his own two dang eyes.

    It means someone who is not instantly suckered in by the "obvious" statement (i.e. is not gullible), and instead waits to get more information, weigh the facts, and comes to his own, reasoned conclusion (or follows and accepts the reasoned conclusions of others).
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  4. J Bob:

    "So your saying, when the sun goes down, and the earth’s surface cools, that’s climate."

    So J Bob's a flat-earther, too?
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  5. J Bob, that's sophistry. Okay, climate forcing are things operating over scales of 30 years. And no, the oceans are not cooling Total OHC is rising.
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  6. Alexandre @ 205

    you asked:

    What's your suggestion for a mitigation policy? (forgive me if I missed it in some previous post of yours. I did not follow your whole conversation.)

    Not at all discussed, not sure if it's germane to the thread.

    Ideally a fair tax (consumption). But ours is a nation dependent on handouts, so weening off lethargy will take some time. To get there we should first eliminate current individual and corporate tax, all welfare and food assistance, all corporate welfare. Replace with a flat negative income tax for individuals and a flat 10% corporate tax. All individuals treated equally all corporations treated equally. Flat negative income guarantees a minimum income (rebate) to all adult individuals, while imposing a flat income tax.

    Example, $10k rebate per adult 20% rate on all income above $10k.

    Choose to not work, live off your $10k. Earn $20k pay $4000 in tax live off your $26k. Make a cool million pay $200k in tax live off your $810k. This system would allow the indigent to earn without loosing their assistance while providing a safety net, not a hammock. All would have skin in the tax game.
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  7. Sphaerica @ 226
    You and I agree at least on one thing: the ability to learn and understand is what makes humans human. I'm intelligent and educated. I'm open minded. I certainly have not sold out to make money. As a matter of fact, I took a 50% paycut so I could teach public high school.

    I could not do that until my environmental engineering consulting company had enough business to allow me to support my family on a teacher's salary. I'm not telling you this to earn any sort of praise - it's just the truth.

    I've tried to establish an open line of dialogue with you, but wound up getting lumped in with one type of zeaolots. You are more of a numbers person and I am more of a naturalist. You base your decisions (I think) on the numbers, while I base mine on what my knowledge of the natural world is.

    Bottom line: if you want to teach - then teach. I'm open. I've stated my position. If you want to call me a denier - then do so. But, that is a disservice to your goals.

    You can create a vocal and educated and influential adversary, or try to bridge the gap. I extended the olive branch - I was hoping you would grasp it.
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  8. As an example of how far right the republican party has moved since the Nixon administration, Nixon gave serious thought to a negative income tax such as proposed by jigoro above as a replacement for welfare payments. As opposed to, oh, you know, just letting them starve.
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  9. scaddenp (245), thanks, and I'll read between the lines that I can do better here away from threads like this one. Honestly, I read the entire CATO monthly editorial clippings. I happen to agree 100% with the set of non-CC opinions (currently on the CATO home page). When it comes to CC, it is one more topic I read with some interest but they often reveal little I don't already know. I rarely look at or listen to any multimedia, but I just listened to Michaels daily podcast. He points out that luke warmers anger "both poles of the debate". He says they (luke warmers) believe CC is "real", "modest" and "below the statistical rates predicted by climate models". "and there's not very much you can do about it". #1, 2, and 4 are fine by me, #3 is debatable and probably irrelevant.

    Then he mentions that Greenland was warmer for a few millennia and "there absolutely no evidence" that it lost its ice and sea levels went up 25m. True literally, but http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/092181819090010A states there is some evidence "suggesting significant middle Holocene retreat of this portion of the GIS" Then he suggests that all papers should put every manuscript online along with their editorial decision and all reviews because that would mitigate what he sees as extremes. Well, that's nice, but he didn't read the paper I linked (extreme or not).

    Two things come to mind: he's lazy and it's an opinion piece. I suggest the policy studies in the top right on this page http://www.cato.org/global-warming Those go straight to the policy and can be considered somewhat independently of one's views on CC. I agree with their policy conclusions.

    For defining CAGW, it's everything that AGW isn't. It isn't 0.85 W/sq meter of accumulation, it is an almost completely unknown (ocean turnover etc) future accumulation. It isn't 3.7 W/sq meter for doubling of CO2, it is a an unknown feedback which can't simply be extrapolated from glacial to interglacial feedback (they are completely different weather and other dynamics). Most of all it isn't the AGW we are currently enjoying and adapting to, but something new and shocking and we will somehow lose our ability to adapt. For example polar bears could thrive in northern areas where they currently only have a short active season (unlike the south where they may disappear with the ice). But somehow that's just not possible??
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    Response:

    [DB] "there absolutely no evidence"

    Michaels is absolutely not looking then.  To piggyback on the paper you reference, Weidick et al 1990 (which stated that Jakobshavn Isbrae had retreated inland by 15 km inland from its mid-1980's extent), evidence from Briner et al 2010 shows that the recent recessions of Jakobshavn Isbrae have brought it further inland than at any point in the HCO:

    JI

    The ice front from Weidick 1990 is represented by the 1985 line.  By 2008, the calving line had retreated more than 15 km inland from that point.  Subsequently, Jakobshavn Isbrae has retreated inland even further than that.

    And that's just one paper.  Many more exist.

  10. Most of all it isn't the AGW we are currently enjoying and adapting to, ...we will somehow lose our ability to adapt. For example polar bears could thrive in northern areas where they currently only have a short active season ... But somehow that's just not possible??

    Whaaa??!! Polar bears are specialists. They are ambush hunters which rely on sea ice, not land ice, to get among the seals.

    Their "short active season" is a simple seasonal matter. Abundant calorie rich food during the hunting season. Minimal calorie expenditure during hibernation.

    'Adaptation' is not a matter of a few decades. It takes dozens, if not thousands, of generations for a large, long-lived animal to change firstly its behaviour in response to change, then its genetics to entrench those changes.

    If we want to see polar bears survive long enough to thrive in a hugely changed environment, we'll have to slow down the loss of sea ice.
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  11. apirate @260 "You and I agree at least on one thing: the ability to learn and understand is what makes humans human."

    No. As has been shown by anthropologists what makes humans human is the ability to socially groom each other by speech, which allows interaction and cooperation in large (>50) groups, an ability lacking in all other anthropoids.

    As a result, cultural advancement in most hominid species was glacial, with only a few cultural changes (with accompanying improvement in stone implements) in two million years.

    The laughingly inaccurately but self named Homo sapiens sapiens advances at a lightning fast rate by comparison, but still took 190 thousand years to go from hunter gatherer to agriculturalist, and that in only a few places in the world. Since then advances have been faster but only because extensive trade networks and high populations have allowed the innovations of the very few to propagate faster. Despite those advantages for cultural spread, advance from agriculture to industrialisation took over ten thousand years.

    This painfully slow progress was not because the ancients where unintelligent compared to the moderns. In fact their mental capacity was on a par. Rather it is because while human cognitive capacity is well beyond that of any other species, we are not very good mathematical, logical, or technical thinkers for the most part. For most of us, our social intelligence is massive - of the scale compared to other species - but our scientific intelligence is rudimentary. There is a reason why soap operas are overwhelmingly more popular than documentaries, and why nature documentaries focus on the social interactions of animals rather than on ecological relationships. There is also a reason why even the brightest of humans will sometimes have massive blind spots in which they are apparently incapable of rational thought. (Alfred Russel Wallace comes to mind.)

    Given this situation, in which true rational thought comes hard, and hard earned to most people, "educating" them by trailing examples of superficially attractive but shoddy reasoning across their trail is doing them a massive disservice. It is inviting them to be caught up in a self reinforcing rationalism. To be in denialism in fact, whether denialism of human evolution, of moon landings, or of global warming. It is a massive indictment of western education that so many of the population are, not unintelligent, for they are very intelligent, but uncritical reasoners. This includes the majority of university graduates, who are intent on learning a body of knowledge rather than a suite of skills.

    To examples from contemporary Australia illustrate this massive cognitive dysfunction. The first is the most common meme on climate change in Australia at the moment. It states that a carbon tax in which consumers are paid compensation equivalent to the average impact of the carbon tax, but independent of their actual effective emissions cannot reduce carbon emissions. This is seriously asserted by people who in other areas are fierce champions of market mechanisms. Apparently the "invisible hand" considers anything to do with carbon reductions untouchable.

    The other example is the claim that recent floods in Australia disprove global warming because AGW educators have repeatedly asserted that increased frequency and intensity of droughts is an expected consequence of global warming (in some areas of Australia). This claim is easily checked by referring to the actual reports. I have read around 10 such reports dated from 1990 to 2010, some explicitly dealing with flooded areas (the Brisbane River) and every on of them has asserted that increased intensity of rainfall in peak rainfall events is an expected consequence of global warming. Apparently the minimum level of critical thinking called checking sources is to much for many Australians.

    So, what makes us human is not our massive cognitive intelligence, but our massive social intelligence. That is why denialism prospers.
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  12. Jigoro Kano at 10:44 AM on 3 June, 2011

    Your suggestion is not a bad tax system at all, but remember the question was about a mitigation policy. How would this limit emissions?
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  13. 257, apiratelooksat50,

    If you have serious questions, I'll try to help.

    If you have leading questions, trying to make a subtle point -- and I'm not saying you will or do, I'm saying it happens a lot -- when it does happen I get fed up and argumentative.

    If you want to learn, don't label yourself a skeptic. If you're learning, and trying to decide what to think, then you don't need a label, and the deniers have tainted the skeptic label with a new connotation (i.e. someone who thinks they already have all the answers, and don't want to learn).

    So if you're honestly extending an olive branch -- and I do think that it's very important that you understand all of the science, because you are teaching it to our youth -- then by all means, please accept my apologies, and I will be as patient and straightforward as I possibly can, and I will accept all of your questions at face value, as serious questions looking for answers (rather than as sparring, probing jabs, looking for weaknesses that you can exploit when trying to score points in a game).

    As far as numbers vs. naturalist. I'm not sure what you mean by a naturalist. I am a systems person, and numbers are one type of system, but for me, in my mind, everything fits together, in systems and subsystems. When I understand all of the subsystems (or branches, if you will) using whatever language is appropriate (numbers being one of them), and I understand how they all fit together, then I understand the whole.

    So please pick a topic that concerns you, find the appropriate thread, point me in that direction and ask a question there, and we can try to find and fill the gaps.
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  14. Eric, have you read Von Schuckmann and La Traon? I dont buy the "unknown" bit at all. The 3.7 W/m2 is corroborated by glacial/interglacial and volcanic data but is actually a model output. It also tracks pretty well with temperature data to date. If you think it "unknown", then I assume you are also considering that it could be 4-5?

    To be honest, it looks to me more like your objections are based on hope and distaste for political solutions than on examination of data which surprises me.

    And the question I ask in hope of every liberatian - if you did become convinced that it would be more cost effective to limit emissions now rather than pay the cost of adaption in the future, what measures would you support for that limitation? Its a hypothetical question - if you became convinced...
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  15. Alexandre @ 262

    My apologies, do to the redistributive context of my post, I thought you were speaking of indigent mitigation.

    First off, I do not view anthropogenic CO2 as a problem. So imposing legislation to fix an non-problem, seems a bit ridiculous. More importantly, cap and tax will only enrich the politicians and well connected.

    If the goal is to reduce CO2, the answer can only come from fossil fuels and oil in particular. No other fuel source has nearly the power density, save nuclear. So although a internal combustion engine is only ~20% efficient, it can produce several hundred time the volume/work as a battery.

    Increase that efficiency by five or even ten percent, US CO2 emission will plummet. It is this goal which enviromentalist should pursue.
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  16. dhogaza @ 254

    I was carrying scaddenp @ 246 view to it’s logical conclusion. You might want to check that post.


    Sphaerica @ 246& 232,
    I simply asked if you posted some of your personal analysis to back up the opinion you present, like I did a J. Bob @ 52. I take it your position is that man (via CO2) is the primary cause of the global temperature increase, in recent, say 50 years or what ever.

    So I’m simply asking if you personally can produce some analysis ( like a graph(s)) showing a strong correlation of temperature (i.e. accelerating global temperature increase) & CO2, using the longest (150+ year ) reputable temperature records.
    That would help to bring me out of the skeptic camp.
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  17. dhogaza @ 258

    You said

    "As an example of how far right the republican party has moved since the Nixon administration, Nixon gave serious thought to a negative income tax such as proposed by jigoro above as a replacement for welfare payments. As opposed to, oh, you know, just letting them starve. "

    This system of taxation was a construct of Milton Friedman. Yes Nixon did propose, it was the Democrats which refused to sign on. Letting go of that voting block would be to costly. What was passed, the Earned Income Tax Credit, giving the benefit so long as the recipients remained under the D's thumb. ie. straight up redistribution. If proposed now dhogaza, the only nays would be the donkeys and Obama.
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  18. J Bob - the correlation you are looking for is with total forcings - no one claims climate is single factor. And the paper you looking for (apart from figs in AR4 showing match of models to recent climate) is Benestad and Schmidt. For a simple correlation of CO2 and Temperature see
    here but this ignores the other factors.
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  19. 266, J. Bob,

    First, as I have repeatedly said, I don't have an opinion, I instead understand the science. If there was some aspect of the science that I felt I did not agree with, then that would be an opinion (because I'm clearly not as strong at the science as a working climate scientist), but the only times that has happened in recent memory have been with Lindzen, Spencer and other "denial" science findings. Even then, I usually withhold my own judgment until rebuttals from professionals hit the streets and confirm my own insights (or not, if my own criticisms were mistaken).

    With that said, as far as anything like graphs showing a strong correlation of temperature... the issue is far, far more complex than one set of graphs could ever represent, and as I've said, my body of knowledge is that of science. I don't have my own personal approach to how or why climate is doing what it's doing, and I'd look pretty far askance at anyone else that claimed as much... and there are a few characters like that on the Internet (co2isnotevil being one big one).

    [I'd also point out that just the way that you phrased your question... a graph showing a strong correlation of temperature & CO2... rings all sorts of "this is a game" bells in my head. You'll never get that, because the system is too chaotic, there are too many conflicting factors and there's too much noise. That doesn't mean one can't understand what's happening, it just means one can't water it all down to a simple, obvious, indisputable correlation on a single graph of just two variables. So if that's what you need to be convinced, then your entire approach is too simple, and there's no point to continuing. It would be like trying to convince a small child that there are no actual miniature people inside the television. It doesn't work that way, but a child doesn't have the background knowledge to understand radio waves and image encoding and photon emissions, so the conversation there has to end with "trust me, there are no little people in the TV."]

    If you are saying that you honestly, really, are open minded, and want to learn more about the science (rather than to somehow convince me that you understand things better than all climate scientists), then you are welcome to join apiratelooksat50 with me (assuming he accepts my offer) on some other thread, to look at some focused segment of the science and to be sure that it is understood thoroughly and completely, so that it can become one set, indisputable piece of the puzzle.

    Then, progressing from there, when one has enough pieces, one can say that they understand.

    But if what you want to do is to engage in a mindless back and forth of tit for tat arguments, each of which is merely a microcosm of the big picture, and every time one side "scores a point" the other side just changes the subject and diverges into a different line of argument... well, that's a complete waste of time.
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  20. Jigoro Kano at 13:34 PM on 3 June, 2011

    So your bet would be to increase efficiency of the existing motors and generators by 5~10%. (I have nothing against that, but it's not nearly enough. If you have enough interest in the subject, I suggest further reading to get a grip on the size of the problem. SkS can be a good starting point. Websites of respected research institutions like NOAA are excellent sources if you have some background knowledge.)

    But still on your idea: how would you achieve that increased efficiency in a way that would not hurt your ideological beliefs? a carbon tax? A directly regulated efficiency standard? Just hope for a cultural change in consumption patterns?
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  21. "Yes Nixon did propose, it was the Democrats which refused to sign on."

    Talk about total simplification of a complex domestic political issue into a partisan "liberal vs. semi-liberal" fight that doesn't recognize the far right that existed in Nixon's party at the time ...

    Sheesh.

    Sorry, you flunk the history test.
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  22. Jigoro - that is to ignore the problem is not so much fuel but coal, (your measure would reduce emissions by maybe 2%) but even so how would propose that efficiency is gained given that there is already an incentive? Any other effective measure compatible with your political philosophy? (Congrats for even answering though - just wish someone would answer with a solution that is more like 50% reduction over 40 years).
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  23. Also, of course, Jigoro's proposed tax rates (close to flat tax with negative income tax benefits for the poor) would greatly reduce federal revenue compared to existing levels.

    We'd no longer be able to afford, for instance, to provide the global security umbrella that we do today, leaving Europe on its own.

    Part of me likes that idea ... rather than rant at Obama they'd be left ranting at Putin, who isn't quite as nice a guy. But then again, I have many friends in Europe and may live there in retirement ...
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  24. dhogaza @ 271 273

    You said
    "fight that doesn't recognize the far right that existed in Nixon's party at the time"

    The far right had no ability to stop or change legislation. So I'm not sure of your point.

    Not to continue the partisan parsing, but the Left does not view tax policy with dynamic scoring. For example, if tax rates were to increase to 75% for those over $250k, tax receipts in the short run will go up, but not long thereafter receipts will bottom out. As the risk/reward ratio nears one, the pursuit of income falls. Econ 101.

    Interestingly though, bureaucrats instinctively know this. Sin taxes are enacted to encourage people to stop that activity deemed unfavorable by politicians. To tax carbon is an effort to reduce it's productions. To tax income is to reduce it's production.

    Reducing tax rates encourages increase that ratio encourages work. You need only look at receipts during Kennedy, Reagan and Bush II to realize this truth.
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  25. I would love to ask jiguro "who on earth suggests a real taxation rate of 75% for 250k?" and "aren't sin taxes about shifting relative costs?" and "didn't Bush II cut taxes, and didn't the surplus he inherited turn to a deficit?"

    But I feel I'm being baited into a rabbit hole. It's all a bit off topic for this post, and maybe the site as a whole? The post was about climate denial/skepticism afterall, not taxation schemes.
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  26. Apirate - regarding mitigation - it depends where you are. Policy wise, we need to end coal fired electric plants immediately. This starts by not permitting any, then back filling to replace coal with nuclear, gas, solar, wave, conservation.

    I believe you are in Atlanta or some other Southern city. I would recommend you use a GSHP for you A/C, heating and water heating, with solar PV panels to create the electricity. If you are in a city, you should be able to manage your transportation without daily driver. If you need a daily driver, I would suggest a Nissan Leaf with 8-12 solar panels to create the electricity.

    At this stage of the game you can use the grid as your battery, without solving the grid storage problem. Another benefit of being an early adopter.

    That covers your hot water, space conditioning and travel. If your situation is different, give me some details and I can paint you a net zero, net positive or near zero solution.

    As others have pointed out, your point 6 is weak, and uses the wiggle room that my formulation denies you (ie what about some mystical "natural" forcing or super low sensitivity).

    If it doesn't sound condescending, I do commend you for being on this site, and for the fact that you seem to be clarifying your position (and I am heartened you are moving towards the accepted science).

    While tempers flare at almost any site discussing this issue, if you watch carefully, the science is front seat at skeptical science, more so than other sites which feature too much zany stuff for my taste or too much ego and grudge matches. That is why this site COULD be a one stop shop. Sure, if you don't get something after reading about here, and drilling down to the paper there is a WORLD WIDE WEB to brush up on your science. And obviously, by following the science, this site has a point of view. But it is a point of view that says - let's see where the science takes us.
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  27. Scaddenp, I would look worldwide at what would be both easy and effective, our needed smart gird, eliminating various subsidies, cut government at all levels (most gov projects waste energy), change monetary and foreign policy that pegs oil currencies to the dollar (making oil artificially cheap for the U.S,), and probably a dozen areas where we can help India and China (switch from coal to gas, etc). Also on monetary policy I would kill the Fed and their boom bust cycle that leads to incredible malinvestment (if you haven't seen U.S. tract mansion suburbs, you should). I would do some major basic energy research (note: my employer would benefit from this), encourage household energy independence in the countryside (note: that's where I live and that's really my responsibility), open up some spectrum so we can have some decent service out here and be able to effectively telecommute.

    As I have said or implied before, the main mitigation for CC or any other change comes from personal resiliency along with economic strength, I oppose measures that sacrifice economic strength in the hope that government can step in and save everybody. That especially applies to the developing world where we currently seem to favor authoritarian thugs (as long as they are our thugs) in place of individual freedom and economic well being.

    For some specific CC areas, I would privative flood insurance, eliminate the FEMA flood zone insanity, and let the insurance companies, local municipalities and other local entities work out how to mitigate floods Probably kill many of the upstream levees that exacerbate the downstream floods (just to save a small poorly located development) If it comes down to major displacement (something I view as unlikely and slow) I would encourage the various states to compete for climate refugees, return federal lands to private or state ownership, The possibility of more forest fires means we need forestry which includes roads, water storage, more adaptable trees, clearing programs where needed (we have VIrginia forest fire mitigation program). Personally fire is my only real problem and I have started to improve my situation regardless of CC.

    I'm sure there are odds and ends that can mitigate the effects in the rest of the world, but as I said, people ultimately have to be allowed, encourage and empowered to take responsibility for their well being.
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  28. scaddenp, I should have noted that the 3.7 is known, but the water vapor feedback is not because it is determined by geography, ocean cycles, ice, and many other factors which changed from glacial to interglacial. Feedback is not the same as it was then.
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  29. Eric, well it was only hypothetical question, but all that sounds like recipe for US economic revival buying more coal-powered goods from China with exception of killing subsidies (how fast can you do it!) and energy research. 50% reduction in 50 years? I dont think you would have a hope.

    As to 3.7W/m2, I point out that the published science, the evidence, the data is against you. The 3.7W/m2 from models is water vapour from current oceans, cycles etc. Since you get pretty much the same answer from something as primitive as Manabe's model in 1975 and from glacial etc. I would hazard that CC relationship is ultimately more to do with vapour than all those other factors. What's published that gives you less than 2? You are betting on hope.

    My city will loss its airport, it road links and substantial part of it area with 1m of sealevel rise. We're too small to raise the money to fight it. Excuse me if I dont feel so sanguine about mitigation.
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  30. Sphaerica,
    I do not know if it was your abrasive responses or condescending attitude that got to me, but it appears that I am not the only one. I will ignore the statement where you imply that my "understanding is not up to par," and chalk it up to ignorance.
    Your "understanding" is apparently different than mine. Maybe it is due to the reading of different publications, association with differenet scientsits, or simply drawing different conclusions based on the same data. Your "understanding" of climate changes appears to be narrower than mine, with tighter constraints on cause and effects. It is not that I think the current understanding is "lacking," but that I do not so readily dismiss ideas that have not been thoroughly researched. This is not a backhanded slap, but an acknowledgement that the system is more complex than some (not meant to include you) portray.
    Your harping on semantics also irritated me. Sorry, if I am not the most eloquent writer.
    I am please to see your response that your understanding is constantly changing due to changing science, and that changes are occurring in increments. Interesting though is your statement that recent papers are showing worse climate change. I would have agreed with that statement a few years ago, but recently would have to disagree. Would you care to expound on what you have found that leads you to understand this? DO not bother to water it down, I will understand it.
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  31. scaddenp, the coal-powered goods is a confluence of several problems, one of which is our exporting of carbon emissions. I don't like it and I avoid it, but other people buy those goods because it's their choice. If you are asking in the hypothetical if I would propose a carbon tariff, I'd have to see the details, and we'd have to (hypothetically) eliminate the political manipulations that usually accompany tariffs.

    The 3.7 W/m2 is radiative forcing from line-by-line models of CO2 doubling, not GCMs with water vapor. The 3.7 alone will produce about 1C rise, the water vapor feedback will produce the rest. I don't have a total here, but will put one in an appropriate thread at some point.
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  32. Baines 275

    You asked:
    "I would love to ask jiguro "who on earth suggests a real taxation rate of 75% for 250k?" and "aren't sin taxes about shifting relative costs?" and "didn't Bush II cut taxes, and didn't the surplus he inherited turn to a deficit?"

    Way way off topic. 75% is to illustrate the point. However, during Carter top marginal rate 70%, FDR 99.5%, Obama just this week proposed 65%...not far off.

    Check your financial data history. Clinton did leave as debt surplus not the deficit surplus. Debt is year to year, deficit is accumulation of year to year. So although Clinton realized a small debt surplus, the deficit still increased. Bushes first term saw 911 which devastated the economy. By cutting taxes the treasury tax receipts increased. In fact, the receipts were growing so fast the treasury projected surplus by late 2008. Why the market crash of 2008...well that too far of topic---Hayak vs Canes is a debate for a different site. Suffice it to say, the problem for all administrations beginning with FDR, deficit spending (future taxes)out pacing economic growth.
    0 0
    Response:

    [DB] Everyone, can we please remove this type of discussion to the CO2 limits will harm the economy (or other, more-appropriate-than-here) thread?  This thread is about Are you a genuine skeptic or a climate denier?

    Thanks!

  33. Sphaerica @ 269 says,
    “First, as I have repeatedly said, I don't have an opinion, I instead understand the science”.
    OK, if you understand science, show it.

    At least scaddenp @ 268 presented one of Paul Barton’s graphs.

    Scaddenp @ 268, interesting graph, hope to get back to you tomorrow.
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  34. 277 - Eric (Sceptic)

    Given your somewhat Randian philosophical perspective, you might enjoy a documentary being put out by the BBC just now:
    All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace.

    Before I get slapped for not respecting 282-Mods.
    I think this is central to the "denier" trope, a large part if which is libertarian and pist modern; the two combine into a mind set (I'm nit referring to Eric here) where science & objective reality (tge irony with Rands 'objectivim' isn't lost) can be sacrificed to 'defend' personal liberty from government/the UN/the NWO.
    0 0
    Response:

    [DB] Understood.

  35. 284 "pist modern" should, of course, be "post modern" - although the iPhone may be trying to make a point on behalf of the Machine of Loving Grace!
    0 0
  36. 283, J. Bob,
    ...show it.
    I already made the only offer I'm going to make. An open ended invitation to simply try to convince you that you are mistaken in your beliefs is pointless.

    You can pursue what I offered, or drop it. The choice is yours.
    0 0
  37. Climate Truthers: Why Global Warming Deniers Are Conspiracy Theorists, Not Rational Skeptics" is an excellent essay by Sahil Kapur posted on Huffington Post May 31).

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sahil-kapur/climate-truthers-why-glob_1_b_869294.html

    Kapur's article nicely supplements John Cook's essay, "Are you a genuine skeptic, or a climate denier?"
    0 0
  38. 280, Eric the Red,

    I don't care much what you think of me or what you say to others about me, or about what I've said. The words are there for anyone who cares to go back and read.

    I also don't come here to have open ended, pointless debates with people who are in clear denial. If we bump heads on another thread, so be it.

    I'm not going to educate you on all of the vagaries of climate science here. That, you'll have to do on your own. And if you feel like you already know it all, well... I've already stated my position on that.

    After all, that is the actual point of this thread, distinguishing skeptics from deniers. You know which category I think you fall into (and the people who are in denial aren't worth my time -- they're completely lost, until they first figure out how to be skeptics). Only real skeptics are worth conversing with.
    0 0
  39. Spoken like a true denier Bob.
    0 0
  40. RSVP @ 181

    As the moderator suggested, I posted a reply at the 2nd Law thread.
    0 0
  41. J Bob, not that interesting - ignores other forcings. Benestad and Schmidt is interesting. As is Tamino's but not published yet.
    0 0
  42. Eric(skeptic) - whoops, you are correct. Confusing sensitivity with GHG forcing. You said " It isn't 3.7 W/sq meter for doubling of CO2" but now agree that it is? Again, my point here is that you appear to have beliefs without published science to back them.

    As coal-powered goods. I'm amazed (and encouraged) that you would even consider carbon-tariff. I was really asking whether you were so ideological driven that even if you knew that costs of mitigation where lower than cost of adaptation, you would reject any effective emission strategy. With that encouragement, what would carbon tariff look like that was acceptable? Do you think other libertarians would accept it if you also became convinced that emission-reduction was cheapest option?
    0 0
  43. 289, Eric,

    No, Eric, spoken like someone who has learned not to waste his time with people who have made up their minds before bothering to learn as much as they should, and then just want to play games by dancing around and using debate tactics instead of actually trying to get closer to the truth.

    We'll bump on other threads, I'm sure.
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  44. Eric (sk), your comment on flood adaptation was interesting to me. A large part of my institute works on identification and assessment of geological risk. We despair at local authority handling of this (despite planning laws that many US states I think would regard as draconian). We would love to see more private insurance involvement - ie insurers assessing risk before a development goes ahead so everyone knows up front about insurance risk.

    On other hand, your idea of removing levies sounds tricky. Landowners suddenly exposed and unable to get insurance are going to feel property rights were violated and surely they are in different category to those who knowingly bought property in a floodway. Good luck getting their votes.

    Better still - slow the rate of climate change so you dont have to do expensive adaptation.
    0 0
  45. A recent article on ABC online is relevant to my 138. In this case the death threats are not being directed at scientists in any way associated with climategate or any other faux controversy engineered by deniers, but at simple climate scientists. Some of the threats explicitly state that the scientists will be attacked "if they continue their research".

    There is a certain irony to this. Tallbloke, unhappy that a comment of his was deleted for containing a profanity, has posted a blog on his website about the supposed censorship at Skeptical Science. In comments he congratulates himself for the lack of inflammatory comments in his blog, but the blog itself begins by suggesting that John Cook is "scarily brief step" from locking scientists who disagree with the consensus on global warming away in mental institutions. Indeed, the form of that suggestion, a truncated paraphrase of Martin Niemöller's famous quote ("First they came for the Jews ..." indirectly associates Cook with Nazism. Nothing inflammatory about that, of course. Or at least, not in tallbloke's eyes.

    The irony is that while tallbloke is trying to beat up a statement that scientists disagreeing with the consensus are probably wrong into a revelation inclinations towards totalitarian suppression of dissent, his fellow travellers are using death threats to actually try and suppress dissent, and indeed, not just dissent, but research.

    This is not to suggest that tallbloke or any other well known denier would approve of such threats. Indeed, I am sure they would be horrified at the thought. But when you habitually accuse a group of people of fraud, conspiracy, genocidal inclinations, and, of course, suppression of dissent by totalitarian means, it would be surprising in the extreme if that did not translate into threats against those people. All of these accusations have been made by some well known deniers, and no well known denier has not make at least some of them. Including, of course, tallbloke with his nazi allusion.

    Anybody thinking the debate here sometimes gets a bit too vitriolic should bear in mind the nature of the accusations deliberately and publicly made by the most prominent deniers against the more prominent climate scientists. They should also bear in mind that probably not one active pro-science debater on this site has not at some time or another been accused of fraud, conspiracy to defraud for monetary gain, and intentions of genocide. I know I have (all three), and I am not even a climate scientist. These accusations are routinely made on denier sites whose participants laud themselves on their politeness and reasonable tone, while vilifying such sites as Skeptical Science for the abusive nature of the comments made here. This illustrates clearly that denialism never stays constrained. It necessarily infects all parts of a persons thoughts or else it will self destruct from inconsistency.
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  46. Tom:
    I guess I must never go to deniers sites, as I have never witnessed the type of language you are writing about.

    This is a two sided topic tho. By using the word "denier", you, or anyone else using it, bring violent thoughts to mind. The Holocost was horrific, with most people familiar with pictures etc of what happened.

    That, in and off itself, will create emotions that have no bearing on the arguement of AGW. When Dr. Hansen says CEO's of oil co's should be put on trial for high crimes against humanity, that also provokes images of the death penalty. This is not a one sided thing.

    The thing is, for anyone to make a threat against anyone else on a personal level, is not to be tollerated in any way shape or form.

    I am a skeptic in the truest sense of the word. When I look at paleo data of the Holocene, read papers from leading scholars such as Dr. Svalgaard, http://www.leif.org/EOS/2009GL040142.pdf concerning solar, look at radiation measurements etc....there is a puzzle yet to unfold.

    I am also a skeptic because of eminent people claiming that weather events are climatic events. Such as the case with the current level of tornadoes in the US. Yet NOAA sees no climate linkage at this time:

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/csi/events/2011/tornadoes/climatechange.html

    Just a few tidbits.
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  47. Funny, Camburn, you must not look very hard for that type of language:

    "...which gives lie to the inbuilt bias of the IPCC whose mission is to scare us all into submission to deindistrialisation and hugely more expensive energy with their particular brand of science."

    "...the IPCC has no interest in science."

    "My genuine effort to learn about the science of climate led me to ice core lies which led me to question what the “scientists” were saying. Since then I have seen a whole lot of other lies of which quite deliberate misinterpretation of thermometer data is one."

    All from the last post I just perused at wuwt...
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  48. Garthman:"So for every extreme right wing believer, there will be an extreme left wing ideologue, for every barking mad right wing religionist there will be an evangelical atheist"

    I don't believe this is true. One point is that those on the left tend to rely on science and evidence, while those on the right tend to rely on faith (witness the creationism "issue", climate change denial, ignoring the fact that taxes pay for government (ie it is not true that cutting taxes increases funds for government services).

    In the United States, the "radical right" has created the tea party. The "radical left" (which I am often accused of being) - promotes the responsible reduction in fossil fuel use before it becomes a crisis (we are on the edge of this).

    I hope this is not too political. I think the point needs to be made - mainstream in the USA right now is very right of center, and the usual co-traveler of the right is a strong (and expressed) desire to ignore inconvenient scientific and financial truths. This has the potential to be very, very bad for all citizens. Not understanding the problem leads to trying to solve the wrong issue - like arguing over debt ceilings instead of balancing the budget, or arguing about whether climate change is happening, instead of focusing on solving the issue.
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  49. Tom Curtis at 261 - regarding social intelligence vs. critical thinking.

    GREAT POST! That is a very interesting way to think about the problem of denialism.

    One of my mentors has pointed out over and over and over that we will switch to a renewable energy system from peer pressure, and peer pressure alone.

    A fascinating example is happening in my little corner of the universe. The local electric monopoly is studying how much renewable energy its local substation can handle (going for up to 25% (all from distributed solar PV on rooftops). This will debunk the utility industry claim that 10% is the max you can handle on any given substation.

    My right wing neighbor finally threw in the towel and got solar. I will be very, very curious to see if this neighborhood goes even more solar after the test period, proving my mentor's point that peer pressure means much more than cold logic and analysis.

    This is the underlying logic of my oft-repeated "bias towards action" - but you are much more eloquent than I in stating the hows and whys.
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  50. There is a radical left in USA? It keeps pretty quiet. Policies I would associate with centre-left parties get labelled "communist" by US citizens. From media impressions, encounters with socialist Utopian dreamers from here or Europe would result in a National Guard call-out. Not that I trust media impressions of course but they must be a rare breed.
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