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Climate Hustle

Americans Now More Politically Polarized On Climate Change Than Ever Before, Analysis Finds

Posted on 1 September 2016 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from DeSmogBlog by Graham Readfearn

American voters and politicians are now more polarized than ever before across all aspects of climate change  — from the cause, to the science and the impacts — a major new analysis has found.

Campaigns funded by vested fossil fuel interests and pushed by a network of ideological think tanks, many linked to the oil billionaire Koch brothers, have helped to widen the gap, pushing Republican politicians, elites and voters away from action on greenhouse gas emissions.

Tracking Gallup opinion poll surveys going back to 2001 and congress voting patterns from 1970 onwards, the analysis authors warn that as the November election approaches, Americans are faced with a stark political choice.

The analysis is published in the respected journal Environment and comes from sociologists Associate Professor Aaron McCright of Michigan State University, Professor Riley Dunlap of Oklahoma State University, and PhD researcher Jerrod Yarosh also at Oklahoma.

The researchers found the widest gaps between Democrats and Republicans come when they are asked about the causes of climate change and if the media exaggerates the seriousness of the issue.

While virtually all climate scientists and the world's leading scientific academies have long agreed that the burning of fossil fuels is causing climate change, only about half Republicans accept the science.

A Republican controlled Congress, the article says, would be a “huge step backward in our nation’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions” and could also undermine international cooperation, especially if Republican nominee Donald Trump won the Presidency.

Whether, and how, individual Americans vote this November may well be the most consequential climate-related decision most of them will have ever taken,” the authors conclude.

Stark Choices

Dunlap told DeSmog the choice facing US voters was glaring.

Looking back, Gore versus Bush was stark, although Bush hid his denial for a bit.  But now the partisan differences on climate change are out in the open, and the choices from the top down are stark.”

The Koch brothers had led a network of “conservative mega-donors” that had created a “shadow GOP” that had managed to reduce the influence of the Republican National Committee, the analysis argues.

These efforts, the article explains, have blocked legislation, limited international negotiations and made rejection of climate science  “normative” among Republican elites and activists.

Widening Gaps

Dunlap, McCright and Yarosh looked at how elected Democrats and Republicans had voted on environment and climate bills in both houses of Congress since 1970, using data from the League of Conservation Voters.  The researchers found:

What was once a modest tendency for Congressional Republicans to be less pro-environmental than their Democratic counterparts has become a chasm—with Republicans taking near-unanimous anti-environmental stances on relevant legislation in recent years, especially 2015.

Since 2001 polling company Gallup has been asking US voters for their views on aspects of climate change, such as if they think it’s happening, if it’s caused by humans and if they are concerned about it.

In 2001, 53 percent of Republican voters agreed that global warming was caused by humans, compared with 70 percent of Democrats — a gap of 17 percentage points. But by 2016, this gap had blown out to 41 percentage points, with only 43 percent of Republican voters accepting climate change is human-caused.

These “partisan gaps” had widened across all areas since 2008, except when voters were asked if they thought global warming had already started, where the gap remained at 34 percentage points.

Bridging the Gap?

Alongside the analysis, the authors look at various attempts to bring Republicans closer to accepting the realities of climate change, such as changing communication strategies. The writers claim:

Does any persuasive framing strategy hold special promise for penetrating Republicans’ partisan/ideological identities? The evidence so far gives little basis for optimism.

The sociologists say one major reason why attempts to better communicate the realities of climate change to conservatives have failed is down to “motivated cognition” — described as the tendency for people to only accept information that reinforces their existing political beliefs and their views on the world.

Even when Republicans experience extreme weather events, there was little evidence that this was enough for those voters to change their views. Dunlap told DeSmog:

I fear polarization will be difficult to overcome because Republican reluctance to accept the reality and seriousness of human-caused climate change is in a self-reinforcing loop.  

There are top-down cues from Republican political elites and their supporters from conservative think tanks to conservative media — especially the Murdoch media— that influence voters, as well as bottom-up pressure from party activists such as Tea Party supporters who act as ‘enforcers’ of party principles, especially in primary elections to select Republican candidates.

The result is that global warming has joined God, guns, gays, and abortion as core elements of Republican identity, and this will be hard to change.”

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Comments 1 to 19:

  1. The Republicans seem to be taking a very fixed attitude of climate change denial. American conservatives appear to be retreating into very fixed beliefs, and appear afraid of a world that is changing outside of America.

    European conservatives are more flexible and receptive to climate change science, probably because two wars on their continent have led to people seeing the need to compromise and cooperate.

    Americans emphasise individuality more, and constitutional freedoms. Peoples are shaped by their past histories and America and Europe differ in many regards.

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  2. When you 'save the World', as America arguably did in WWII, your Nationalists tend to think they can walk on water.  This is a problem for America that Europe doesn't have.  American Nationalists were furious at the Vietnam War protestors because the 'shining city on a hill' doesn't do mistakes.  American conservatives have since been given a number of issues upon which to 'circle the wagons' and punish the Anti-War hippies: abortion, guns, the 'War on Drugs' and, to some extent, the 'War on Terror'.  But once you build the moat, information doesn't easily penetrate the castle walls: the 'War on Taxes' and the 'War on Global Warming treehuggers' have been inserted into the conservative push-button issues list by deep-pocketed interests that, in many cases, aren't even American.

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  3. It seems that  despite the 97% consensus scientists with a Democrat as President for the last 8 years, are unable to convince the American Republican voter that AGW is of serious concern.  Perhaps instead of saying it is due to advertising from the anti-AGW side, concentratiing on why their advertising is having less effect might be more profitable.  No matter how much the Koch brothers and Rupert Murdoch et al. can spend, it is nowhere near the amount the Americn government can spend if it so desired. Perhaps the swing away from AGW by Republican voters reflects failure in the approach of AGW proponents rather than success of the approach taken by the anti-AGW factions.  It is also perhaps relevant that, for example, WUWT and JoNova attract far more respondents than do Skeptical Science and Real Climate.  Why is that?  Because Watts and Nova are better funded?  Better publicists?  More in tune with "ordinary" Americans and Australians?  Or are Real Climate and Skeptical Science seen as being run by elitists who not receptive to and dismissive of the views of "ordinary" Americans and Australians?

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  4. Haze @3, first, and rather trivially, in the US, it is Congress, not the President who controlls the purse strings.  Consequently, without the approval of the Republican (and ergo AGW denier) dominated House, and the Republican (and ergo AGW denier) Senate, no major advertising campaign promoting acceptance of the science on climate could have been funded by the President.  Indeed, the President does not even controll the education system, which devolves to a state and local level such that it is a running battle to keep young Earth Creationism out of the schools in blue states, let alone pseudosciences not so widely acknowledged as such (such as AGW denial).

    Second, the pseudoscientific side of the argument has the advantage that they do not need to be, nor appreciably strive to be correct.  As a result they can shape their arguments to be persuasive without worrying to much if they are valid.  And there is no question that they do that.  They quote out of context, cherry pick, use deceiptful graphs, manufacture data from thin air.  Worse, when arguments are refuted, they just wait a bit then recycle them again.  While doing this, they are appealing to peoples selfish interest in a fairly direct way.  I was a rev head when I was younger.  Still would be if it were not for global warming.  I would love for WUWTs arguments to be true.  So, there is a very direct interest for every American who would rather drive a Hummer than an Accord to not believe in AGW.  Likewise there is a very direct interest in any older person who does not want their legacy to be tarnished by the fact that their lifestyle created a very major problem for their children.  There is even a direct interest for anybody with political leanings towards not trusting the government in that AGW denial gives a superficial reason for not trusting the government.

    In contrast the AGW side has its arguments constrained not by the need to be persuasive, but that they be sound.  And to know whether or not an argument in science is sound is often hard work.  To truly understand the science you need to put in six years of tertiary education just to get to the start point.  That is not elitism, anymore than it is elitism to think you require six or more years of experience to become a decent plumber.  I personally believe that virtually anybody can become educated to the required standard, if they are prepared to put in the effort.  But AGW denial tells you that not only do you not need that effort, but that you understand the situation better than those who have put in the effort (because, purportedly,  you can refute their arguments with trivial points).  No effort plus flattery plus justifying what you wanted to do already vs effort expected, plus an expectation that you actually understand, plus an expectation that you modify your behaviour in significant ways for future generations.  Why on earth would you think these are both equally easy to sell?

    Third, the reporting of science in the MSM is woeful.  This is the case even outside of AGW, as shown humorously but correctly by John Oliver:

    It becomes worse in the reporting of AGW because of false balance - the lazy, irresponsible approach of the MSM to reporting on all topics where they consider their job consists simply of getting a sound bite from "each side" with no attempt to require the sound bites to be cogent, relevant, or well supported.  As a result nearly all MSM reports on climate change are accompanied with a deniers sprouting some irrelevancy that purports to refute the evidence.

    On top of that, there is a "man bites dog" effect.  When the IPCC gets something wrong, that is in fact a big news story because it happens so rarely.  So it gets reported.  If a AGW denier is wrong, well they are right less frequently than a stopped clock, so that is not a story at all - and gets no coverage.

    With these impediments, even the friendly mainstream media on balance disinforms about AGW.

     

    Finally, here are the rankings of the primary pro-biological science website (the Panda's Thumb) vs the two most popular pseudoscience websites on evolution, the "intelligent design" Discovery Institute, and the Young Earth Creationist  Answer's in Genesis:

    Panda'sThumb: 105,377

    Answers In Genesis: 11,865

    Discovery Institute: 64,437

    Clearly the popularity of pseudoscience on the web is not confined to AGW.  This is for reasons already given (under the second point) above.  Now, unless you want to start arguing that clearly the belief that the Universe is only 10,000 years old, and that all species were restricted to just a few breeding pairs (six for clean, and 1 for unclean) just 6,000 years ago, at which time a global flood covered the earth to a depth 9 km is more scientific than standard biological and geological science based on the above data, you are committed to the fact that pseudoscience sells easier than science.

    And once again, that is because, not being based on fact, they can be shaped to tell you what you want to hear rather than what is true.

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  5. Haze, I am not quite sure what your point is. That people are stupid? Dont want believe unwelcome facts?

    " Or are Real Climate and Skeptical Science seen as being run by elitists who not receptive to and dismissive of the views of "ordinary" Americans and Australians?"

    If by that you mean that RC and SkS are not into deceptions, unphysical theories, misinformation, ideological claptrap, conspiracy theories, and accusations of fraud, then you are correct. If these are the concerns and views of "ordinary" citizens, then we have serious problems with education that are not going to be fixed overnight.

    If you have better ideas about how we could comminicate the facts and counteract the fiction, then we are all ears. I read WUWT comments at times and despair. Somehow, people need to understand that reality is not a consumer choice and the ideological position need to conform to reality and not the other way round. For many, I think that the question "what data would change your mind on climate change" is viewed as essentially the same as "what argument would convince you to vote for the enemy party". Neither is conceivable and so reality is shut out by participation in an echo chamber of reassuring lies.

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  6. Tom@4,

    Your response to Haze@3 required far more knowledge (e.g. about the workings of US political system, even though you do not live within it) and far more research (e.g. finding Young Earth Creationist example) than the original, essentially random suggestions.

    Not to mention the time you had to spend to type your response & structure it into clear bullet points. Thank you.

    That comparison further reafirms your point that the pseudoscience, represented by Haze@3, is far less difficult than the science.

    I think the same  applies to every aspect of life and every skill: it's far easier to promote random but convenient nonsense rather than logical understanding of the facts. Also in political life. A stark axample is current US presidential campain: a random, completely ignorant candidate came in promoting ideas so absurd, contradicting the basics of that political systems and yet, still enjoys enormous popularity of his electorate and beaten all of his reality-obiding, professional opponents.

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  7. Tom Curtis@4 thanks for a very detailed comment and for enlightening me of the procedures for government funding in America. Because the MSM refer primarily to the President I assumed, incorrectly, he has more power than he actually does have. Your point "educated to the required standard, if they are prepared to put in the effort." certainly applies to me in this instance for although I have a science based PhD, my knowledge of the workings of the American government is clearly inadequate.
    chriskoz@6. You state "pseudoscience, represented by Haze@3, is far less difficult than the science." Could you take the time tell me in which part of my comment I represented pseudoscience?
    scaddenp@5. I doubt very much that I have better ideas to communicate than the climate scientist but perhaps being a little less scientific and a little more, for want of a better word, chatty might help.
    For example, at some stage, the comment might be made that " there is a fear amongst many that cutting emissions of CO2 is going to cause economic pain, often to those who are least able to bear it. As renewables become increasingly both less expensive and more efficient, costs associated with the means of power production eg wind turbines and solar panels are continually falling. Clearly that has a lowering effect on power prices. More importantly perhaps, research into the storage of the energy from renewables is continuing apace and is getting to the point where battery storage is becoming within the financial reach of the average home owner. If the government subsidies on the machinery of renewables can be increasingly directed toward subsidising storage research and development then renewables will, without doubt, lead to significant falls in the costs of domestic power. The hybrid petrol/battery powered hybrid car is a practical example of how advances in renewables cut costs as the fuel bill for these vehicles is a lot less than for conventionally powered cars. That's why they're very popular with taxi drivers.


    I don't regard this as deathless prose and wrote it straight off the top so I'd imagine someone with more literary skill than I, would be able to provide a shorter and more punchy piece on why pursuing the lowering of CO2 emissions is not going to lead to penury for the workers.

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  8. Haze @7 the pseudoscience in your post @3 is the simple giving of reality to the popular misconseptions of the poorly climate science educated as if cultural dominance (in the MSM pseudoscience is the dominant culture, where frequent articles from climate scientists are dismissed) makes it real.

    Making pseudoscience real as if it holds a rational position that resembles reality is the standpoint of the climate denial. While political popularity is a kind of reality wanting to give it physcial reality outside of political polemics is what makes claims false.

    Given the rightwing popularism at work in the English speaking world you have to expect a challenge to your views in this site.

    Science is about data and not about being kind or accessable to those holding popular ideology that denies the changes happening in almost all habitats on our planet currently.

    If your daughter had a diagnosis of gangrene and 97% of doctors agreed. Does treating the condition as nothing to be concerned about help make decisions about her wellbeing?

    The current government claims to have dropped the carbon tax to save money yet it has led to a crisis in the federal budget worse than what they claimed they wanted to fix. So much politics is about appearances that are simply false. Giving falsehoods reality to be nice and accessable gains you what?

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  9. Haze@7,

    I may have misunderstood a series of your suggestions posted @3 as thoughtful propositions. In such event, I appologise.

    With the benefit of the doubt, it looks as suggestions posted @3 can be read as the questions of a person ignorant on the subject. Which is fine: everyone can be ignorant about certain aspects of reality until they learn the facts. Now, that you've learned the facts, and understood how far off the mark suggestions @3 are, you should not ask such questions ever again, unless you want to be called a pseudoscientist or more tivially a denier of reality. Deniers do not accept the evidence but keep recycling old myths.

    You last question:

    why pursuing the lowering of CO2 emissions is not going to lead to penury for the workers

    can have many elaborate asnswers. The simplest one is: biggest penury will affect not "workers" but those who burn the most fossil fuels and who have most vested interest in the burning. Classical example is carbon tax and dividend policy. Whoever produces most CO2 pays big. In case dividends are paid back in equal proportion to every all citizens, those citizens who produce less CO2 must receive back more than they paid in carbon tax, ergo they are better off under such policy.

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  10. scaddenp @5  You comment: "Haze, I am not quite sure what your point is. That people are stupid? Dont want believe unwelcome facts?"   I prefer not to comment on your first question and to answer yes to your second. In the report the following comment was made:  "The sociologists say one major reason why attempts to better communicate the realities of climate change to conservatives have failed is down to “motivated cognition” — described as the tendency for people to only accept information that reinforces their existing political beliefs and their views on the world."

    From the coomments by PaulW@8 and chriskoz@9 "motovated cognition" could well be  present at Skeptical Science.

     PaulW says" the pseudoscience in your post @3 is the simple giving of reality to the popular misconseptions of the poorly climate science educated as if cultural dominance (in the MSM pseudoscience is the dominant culture, where frequent articles from climate scientists are dismissed) makes it real" 

    What I actually wrote was :"It is also perhaps relevant that, for example, WUWT and JoNova attract far more respondents than do Skeptical Science and Real Climate."  That doesn't make any comment on the content of these blogs just that Watts and Nova attract more respondents than Skeptical Science and Real Climate.  That is easily determinable fact .  That Paul W chooses to totally misinterpret what I wrote seems a clear case of motivated cognition.    

     

    chriskoz @9 says 'With the benefit of the doubt, it looks as suggestions posted @3 can be read as the questions of a person ignorant on the subject. Which is fine: everyone can be ignorant about certain aspects of reality until they learn the facts. Now, that you've learned the facts, and understood how far off the mark suggestions @3 are, you should not ask such questions ever again, unless you want to be called a pseudoscientist or more tivially a denier of reality."

    The questions I posed had absolutely nothing to do with the science of climate change and everything to do with the selling of climate change to the public, which is what the article is all about.  So when commenting on an apparent failure of marketing why  am I called a pseudoscientist?  Another clear example of motivated cognition.

     And by the way chriskoz, my comment "provide a shorter and more punchy piece on why pursuing the lowering of CO2 emissions is not going to lead to penury for the workers."  is clearly a statement not a question and doesn't require answers.  I cannot comprehend why you regarded as a question.  Motivated cognition again?

     

     

     

     

    if  Paul W @8  The sociologists say one major reason why attempts to better communicate the realities of climate change to conservatives have failed is down to “motivated cognition” — described as the tendency for people to only accept information that reinforces their existing political beliefs and their views on the world

    PaulW@8 Haze @7 Clearly I have completely failed in my attempt to address possibilities for the fall in acceptance of climate change by Republication, You say: "pseudoscience in your post @3 is the simple giving of reality to the popular misconseptions of the poorly climate science educated as if cultural dominance (in the MSM pseudoscience is the dominant culture, where frequent articles from climate scientists are dismissed) makes it real".

    Whatever your take on the words I used let me state clearly the message I was trying to get across is that denier blogs get more traffic than climate science blogs That is a statement of fact not some attempt to push the messager of these b logs and asking both why that and what could be done to combat it.

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  11. Haze @10 I understand that you are wanting to discuss the great appeal the WUWT and JoNova have on the ideologically driven excitment of the contrarian cause. We have had climate change accepted by Republicans before the Al Gore movie that "Red Flagged" the issue making contrarian issue like anti communism a partisan issue. We have famous Climate Scientists state that they are Republicans and the carbon fee dividend idea of James Hansen is written in terms of Republican sentiments of smaller government with all money returned to the people to stimulate the economy. All good Republican sentiments.

    You raise the elitist issue "Or are Real Climate and Skeptical Science seen as being run by elitists who not receptive to and dismissive of the views of "ordinary" Americans and Australians?" I'm not an untrained member of the public so I cant tell. I do have experence with a wide set of lobbists on another issue where after the Al Gore movie a wave of climate denial swept accross the good Christian members like a dose of the flu. There "your an athiest scientist" attitude at myself became spiked with climate conspiracy and "your not one of us as you worry about the climate issue that God will protect us from". Similar non sense attitudes were apparent. Mentioning that the modern Popes saw no difference between science and the work of God did not register as they were protestants. The dog whissle had been blown and their owner had call the flock home.

    It was just tribal politics. Whos in and who is out. Part of their identity and not able to be spoken about.

    The fossil fuel lobby own these people. It seems cut and dried. Getting minds to start to question requires from my experience "a relationship of trust". I think that you trying to point to this element as though its missing from SkSci and Real Climate. These site have my trust due to the way they use logic and data. 

    The Republicans who oppose climate science use ideology as their definition point for trust. What can be done about that? Is a good question. They are not being reached in the way you reach Scientists or people who use reason.

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  12. Sorry PaulW I'm not being clear.  I don't care a jot about the appeal Watts and Nova have. What I am trying to do is find out why they have it.   For example, at the moment Nova is  commenting on a paper published in Nature in 2015 entitled "Global wheat yield may drop as temperature rises'.  This has received, at the time I write this, 110 comments.  The question is why?  Why does Skeptical Science almost never attract anywhere near that level of reader participation when it discusses scientific articles?    I gave some possible suggestions  but from the responses I got from you and chriskozit it is clear  I haven't made my aim plain.  Or is there, perhaps,  an element of motivated cognition involved?

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  13. Why do some climate sceptical websites get a good audience? Firstly we have some climate change sceptics that make very silly claims, or make inflammatory statements (boldly or subtly), or blame the whole thing as being a socialist conspiracy. They are usually writers or meteorologists rather than actual climate research scientists.

    This is classic demagoguery. It gets an audience, which is part of the reason they do this. People are attracted to provocative statements, even if they are only subtly provocative. The mainstream media want an audience because ratings matter and drive profitability, so the media “indulge” the sceptics.

    In comparison the “warmist” climate scientists are mainly more reasoned and measured. They have to be because science is reasoned and actual climate scientists have to be careful how they word things. However reasoned and qualified statements on why we are altering the climate become complex and nuanced, and so don’t get such a big audience.Tom Curtis is right anyone can be educated on the basics of climate change, but the challenge is holding their attention for more than one minute.

    Nevertheless I think “warmists” should stay with a measured, calm commentary. This is the only way to reach open minded moderates. The older sceptics are mainly so set in their ways they can’t be reached no matter what you say.

    Terms like climate catastrophe don’t help in my view. However it wouldn’t hurt for warmist climate scientists to sometimes show their anger at the way certain sceptics blatantly lie. We are all human and anger is normal and sometimes justified.

    Young people tend to be less sceptical about climate change. This is because they get taught the science at school in a reasoned way, mostly without inflammatory emotive claims about socialiist conspiracies. Of course theres nothing wrong with them being told that about 3% of climate scientists have sceptical views, provided young people are given the logical tools to evaluate the validity of those views.

     

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  14. Haze @12 I think the reason that WUWT and Jo Nova are popular has been mentioned. They appeal to a tribal political mentality about emotions and not about data or logic. In politics it's talked about playing the race card as being the reason for electoral success in Australia.

    Playing emotional cards is well know for drawing big crouds. Not only do people get to read what pleases them but they get a sense of beloning against an opposing tribe. The 1939 - 45 period was a big example of this kind of emotionally driven period. Sense and logic draw a smaller croud. 

    The capture of the Republican vote by Trump was another example of the use of identity and emotions where logic was just not allowed to get in the way of a good set of feelings.

    Talk back radio also draws big crouds based on the emotions of conflict and belonging. There are lots of pent up emotions that can be ventilated drawing in large numbers. Logic just gets in the way of mass passion.

    I have worked as a volunteer in counselling for many groups over 3 decades. People love being around a storming or sounding off person who is sounding rightfully angry or resentful. Like watching the football. The logic of emotions is different from the logic of ideas. Its only beginning to be fleshed out scientifically but advertisers understand it well. Its quite divorced from data and theory. To be able to vent emotions is a "sweet pill" for a very large number of people.

    I think the Roman's had something to say about the uses of pigs and the circus.

    Jo Nova and WUWT are the contrarian equivalent to Roman pigs and the circus. Great for passion. Light on logic or reason but that is just not needed in politics. Passion and a rightful quest drives politics. No need to look too carefully at the details as it spoils the show.

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  15. nigelj@13 "However it wouldn’t hurt for warmist climate scientists to sometimes show their anger at the way certain sceptics blatantly lie. We are all human and anger is normal and sometimes justified".  Absolutely.  Alrthough I understand and appreciate the need for reasoned and meticulous debate, it does mean the playing field  is left wide open for climate deniers to occupy and spruik their wares.  That is one possible reason, in my opinion, for the fall in the number of Republican voters who accept that climate change is human caused.  Why doesn't, for example,  Skeptical Science, attack Watts or Nova pointing out and highlighting their erroneous statements and conclusions and  sins of omission?  Tamino's Open Mind is the only blog I can think of that does go on the attack and he does often get a fairly good audience response

     

    Paul W "Light on logic or reason but that is just not needed in politics. Passion and a rightful quest drives politics. No need to look too carefully at the details as it spoils the show."  Entirely agree.  Surely there must be a way for climate scientists to inject some passion into the debate.  I do hope so for if Donald Trump becomes POTUS I think we are well and truly  (fill in your own choice of word or words).

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  16. Haze @15

    I basically agree.  Most of the time warmists should be calm and measured, but sometimes they need to go on the attack and call things for what they really are as long as its carefully crafted and sticks to issues and what people have said, as opposed to name calling, or dreaming up wild claims that become hard to substantiate.

    I do have sympathy for climate scientists though. They are in a catch 22 situation because if they become too outspoken they get accused of politicising things, or may be worried that negative publicity could damage their career prospects. 

    However the sceptics are walking over the warmists. I think people like Tamino get the balance right from what I hear. He is reasoned and measured, but criticises strongly when required and doesn't take any nonsense from people.

    Nobody likes arrogant characters, but neither do we have much respect for people who retreat into their shell and get walked all over or try too hard to be over polite.

    Of course talk back radio shock jocks go much further and manipulate emotion and say outrageous nonsense because it gets ratings. Their only job description is "get an audience" so they push things to the limits. It's very frustrating for the climate research community.

    Conservatives and republicans are perhaps more sceptical of climate change science than liberals, as conservatives don't particularly always like change, and climate change threatens that yearning for stability, so they go into denial about the whole thing. Combating climate change also requires government rules, and conservatives are perhaps more sceptical of big government than liberals. Of course excessive government power is always a concern, but it's hard to see how we resolve the situation without things like regulatory controls on emissions or ets schemes etc. 

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  17. There was a time in my life — less than a decade ago — when climate-change deniers annoyed the hell out of me.  But in recent years I have come to the conclusion that social inertia (see Bart Verheggen's article on inertia) is so great that no significant mitigation will occur before the effects of climate change become so damaging as to wreck our global civilization.  Note the word "global".  I'm sure there will remain local civilizations struggling along in various privileged parts of the globe.

    The aforementioned change of attitude has had a calming effect on me.  I consider myself now to be just an interested observer monitoring humanity's progress towards collapse.  I recommend it.  You'll no longer get hot under the collar when some idiot spouts nonsense about the global warming hoax.  Sit back, relax, and smile indulgently — while thinking to yourself, "Just you wait, dummy!"

    Oh, there's just one problem.  I'm an old man.  If I live as long as my father, I might just be lucky enough to see an ice-free Arctic in September and the global temperature anomaly nudging two degrees.  If you are younger, dear reader, all I can say is, "Tough luck, mate!"

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  18. Digby Scorgie @ 17

    I have reached similar conclusions. I used to stress a lot over denialist rhetoric, however I do this less now. It's not good for the blood pressure.

    However I take an interest as a semi retired guy, and I loathe misleading denialist comments and enjoy responding to these and debating the issues. It's healthy to do this as long as you keep it all in perspective. 

    Even though we broadly know what needs to be done to keep warming at low levels, getting the world organised to do this is a huge task, and it may be impossible politically. So its not worth bursting a blood vessell in worry.

    I think it would require something dramatic like total collapse of a large part of Antracticas ice sheets or an entire decade of massive temperature records dwarfing last years. Even this might not be enough. You cant save the world from its own stupidity.

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  19. Nigelj @18 I have spent a good deal of my youth as part of various movements that were about changing the direction that society was headed. I found it a great deal of fun and very rewarding. Many efforts were very successful. While stress does need to be thought about as an issue it does not prevent working for change. Its a marvelous thing to do with people.

    I use to do workshops for activists to help each person find their way to a life that worked for them and reduced stress to a minimium while doing the organising tasked that they cared about. Basially one provides the listening resource while the person works out their issues.

    When I finally stop working for money and retire my plan is to join such movements again for the fun of it. The people and the sense of acumplishment are what life it all about from my point of view. What better way to spend ones last parts of life than to be part of making a future that's worth heading towards.

    If getup can get rid of 7 fossil fuel entrenched blockers at the last federal election with targeted campaigns then its only a matter of time till the right wing extreme fossils are removed. By the way if there were left wing fossils that neeeded removal from power I'd enjoy that party also.

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