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What do you get when you put a climate scientist and 52 skeptics in a room?

Posted on 7 September 2010 by John Cook

No, it's not a joke or an infographic. In late June, the SBS TV program Insight recorded a program with climate scientist Stephen Schneider. Sadly, Schneider passed away several weeks later. In the show, Schneider faced questions from a crowd of 52 climate skeptics. The result airs on SBS at 7.30pm tonight. Immediately after the show airs, Australian climate scientist David Karoly will be on the SBS website to answer live questions. Here's what David said in a recent email:

"When  climate scientist Steve Schneider was in Australia in June, he recorded a  TV program where he answered questions on climate change science from an audience of more than 50 people sceptical about climate change drawn from the general public. This hour-long program, for SBS Insight, will be shown in Australia at 7:30pm on Tuesday 7 Sept and will be available in full online at
http://news.sbs.com.au/insight/episode/index/id/302

I will be channelling Steve when I do the responses to questions in the Live Chat online, straight after the program is broadcast.

I know that for many people who knew Steve it will be painful to watch, as he died in July. But it is Steve at his best, carefully and thoughtfully answering questions from the public about climate change. It is a program that could be included in classes on climate change, as material on responding to common questions about climate change. It is another way that Steve continues to have a very positive influence."

Should be fascinating television (albeit saddening). So if you're in Australia, be sure to tune in at 7.30 tonight. If you're outside of Australia, you can watch the show online (I'm not sure whether it will stream live or be available after the show airs). More info here...

UPDATE: I've updated the title of this blog post - for some reason, I had it in my head that it was Steve Schneider AND David Karoly in the show. It's only Steve Schneider with David Karoly on the SBS website for the hour after the show.

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Comments

Comments 1 to 29:

  1. 52 embarrassed skeptics (if they are honest)
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  2. There is an amazing recent talk and video by Steve Schneider at: http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/schneider08/schneider08_index.html
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  3. I tried viewing the video in the UK, but it isn't streamed live. However I can watch last weeks episode, so the Schneider talk should work later. BTW, the long shots of the studio make it look very futuristic.
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  4. What do you get when you put 2 scientists in a room when one is a Skeptic and one is an Advocate of Anthropogenic Global Warning?
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  5. All the usual denier talking points, Stephen Schneider had so much patience.
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  6. The program can now be watched via the "webextra" tab on the SBS-website. I'm not through watching it yet but it for sure is interesting!
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  7. It's worth it. Just one woman publicly said that the bathtub analogy explained the 3% accumulation to her. I'll bet there were a few others, and they all have friends and relatives who'll hear a different story from now on. And many of the others seemed impressed to find that he had neither horns nor tail.
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  8. I watched, and it was pretty good. All the usual dodgy arguments came out. Particularly illuminating was the woman who complained how she was treated when she published a "skeptic" article. Schneider sympathised with her, and pointed out that he had been subject to much abuse, including death threats. That may have made some people think. I just love the level of understanding that climate scientists have!
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  9. Does anyone know where to view this after the airing?
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  10. Re: robhon (9)
    "Does anyone know where to view this after the airing?"
    See the link BaerbelW (6) kindly provided above. The Yooper
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  11. Daniel.... If it'd been a snake... ;-)
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  12. theendisfar: Scientific discourse between scientists is different from the level required with the public. If someone tells me that a set of my measurements are wrong, it will likely take hours, and possibly weeks or months, to check that (unless, of course, the stuff is already published in the peer reviewed literature). You might be more interested in the question: 'what happens when you have thousands of scientists of different approaches working on a problem and only being able to publish work which passes a minimum standard of scientific quality according to an anonymous review of their peers'. We already have that, and you're welcome to take a look through as much peer reviewed literature as you want.
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  13. This is a must see for every one of you climate scientist frustrated by the confusion among the public. You (climate scientists) have your work cut out for you. As an interested layperson, I only hope that viewing this can give an insight on how to better frame your arguments for public consumption. I learned a lot from Stephen Schneider's discussion.
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  14. I think he gave an 'UHI biases are factored into the temperature record' answer to what was actually an 'Anthony Watts says poor station siting skews the temperature record' question, but sometimes it can be difficult to figure out exactly which skeptic argument is being made... especially when relayed by someone at several removes from the original claim.
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  15. I also learned a lot from this discussion, one of them being that "denialists" are mostly confused people who had fastened onto convincing but poor arguments that Schneider was able to refute. Schneider is a great loss. Possibly only someone of his stature and breadth of knowledge could deal with so many arguments in the same session. We don't have many of his calibre to replace him.
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  16. Yes, Schneider had a wonderful balance of immense knowledge, oratory skills and PR skills. He will be sorely missed. IMHO, this is what more climate scientists need to start doing-- outreach and public education are key. I hope this program gets aired widely.
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  17. Really, a brilliant format for a discussion. It was really good. The deniers in the audience were very on top of the issues they have with climate change. You could tell a lot from the moments where you could hear the whole audience groan at something Stephen said. Climate scientists should take note of those moments and formulate clear answers for those. I hope that some other climate scientists take up this example that Stephen set. I'd love to see Richard Alley do a similar program. I'm sure there are some other climate scientists out there who are also good communicators who could do the same. Trenberth should be up there.
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  18. Great Stephen Schneider!
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  19. I agree with what Tony O (#5) said. I'm in awe with the patience that Dr Schneider showed in the face of those long lasted but often equally long debunked sceptic arguments. He mostly kept his calm and reasoning although sometimes I thought to could see irritation flicker over his face and body language. The knowledge he showed and translated to the level his audience could understand...he did it even without the SkepticalScience iPhone app! :p Robhon (#17), indeed there were moments I thought: "Oh, don't say it like that!" and you'd hear the audience disagree instantly. That's where he could do better, but he adapted quickly.
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  20. I found the whole process fascinating and most interesting was the range of reactions. Even in my own household, Schneider would give an answer and I would comment "good answer" and my wife would say "what? I didn't understand what he was talking about at all". Then she would proceed to explain how she would've answered it (and I have to say in the case of the question of ocean pH, her answer was actually better IMHO).
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  21. John... You're right. That was the other thing I really took away from the piece. I couldn't help feeling like most of what Stephen was saying was going right over the heads of most of the audience. How many of those people understood what a bell curve is? Even the guy who was a doctor couldn't grasp the idea that we are accumulating CO2 over time. Or, the guy who just couldn't seem to get over the fact that 380 ppm is such a tiny number. Even the informed ones really had a long way to go to really understand what Stephen was actually saying. Scientists have to lower their sights while not sounding like they are talking down to people. That's a really tough job. Whereas it's profoundly easy for a Lord Monckton to trumpet misinformation and make people feel as though they're somehow a little smarter. I did learn something I didn't know before as well. The uncertainties regarding clouds were new to me. I've heard this information in passing before but not read or heard anything. I thought Stephen did a really good job of explaining it. This should be an ongoing series. And longer shows. People want to understand this better. Even the skeptics. I'd be all for roping each IPCC contributing author into doing a minimum of two hours of shows exactly like this.
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  22. We will have to live with the knowledge that most people (including me) don't have the time, energy or expertise to fully understand the situation. We are, in effect, cheerleaders on the side lines. My belief that the "difficult to convince" brigade are wrong is based less on the science than it is on their tactics. Try to get the "skeptics" to tell you which parts of the AGW argument they agree with, and they won't answer. They want to keep all avenues open, so that if the situation demands it they can argue that we are not responsible for the increased CO2 in the atmosphere, or that the CO2 makes no difference anyway, or that more is good, or whatever. The last thing they want is to agree on everything except (say) the nature and magnitude of feedbacks. Because then, if it turns out they are wrong on feedbacks, they have to accept AGW in its entirety. This actually provides a way of separating genuine skeptics from denialists. The genuine skeptic will tell you where their understanding differs from the climate scientists. The denialists won't. So to me it looks like Roy Spencer is ok. Because he is very firm on what he does believe.
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  23. This is amazing
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  24. The online video is working now. Good to see it works OK outside Australia. Very good discussion, we could do with more of those. I think the woman at the end who said the bathtub analogy convinced here, raised the point of how valuable simple models and visualisations are. Such models were common in the past, educationists seem to have forgotten the importance of such methods. I remember as a teenager being fascinated by pictures of trains and clocks used to describe Special Relativity.
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  25. On the weblink page, at the bottom, is a link to a Lateline transcript between George Monbiot and Ian Plimer. It's quite entertaining http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2009/s2772906.htm and Monbiot plus the presenter tackle Plimer on why he continues to use wrong (made-up) data and false interpretations. It's fascinating to see how Plimer evades the questions and no doubt he will trot out the same arguments if on stage tomorrow. Oh and on the Schneider program I thought the bank balance analogy was better than the bathtub one!
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  26. Brilliant performance by Schneider.
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  27. I thought that the woman who said that she was convinced by the bathtub analogy was really saying (subtly) that she thought that Schneider was clearly the more reasonable one in the exchange with the GP who was aggressively accusing him of avoiding the question. In other words, the GP did not make his own side look good with his rudeness. By remaining calm under such provocation, Schneider looked a lot better and that impressed her. (I could be wrong).
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  28. They should have a program like this every week , but just focus on one maybe two questions . That way you can go into more detail and clear up any points that are unclear . I also thought that their questions can be answered by a quick searh of the web and a little bit of reading , I thought that most where not really convinced by Mr Schneiders replys even thou they where good and clear to me . A half hour program called Climate Question of The Week would be good you might need a denier on as well for balance but . Oh would also love to see Monckton front 52 climate experts and answer random questions lol .
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  29. My comment mentioning John Daly was deleted so I will not be making any more comments on this blog for a while in protest. Probably most of you will think of that as something to be welcomed, so enjoy! My condolences to Stephen Schneider's family and friends.
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    Moderator Response: Note the Comments Policy, which specifically asks you not to post off-topic comments. Discussion of the CRU emails belongs in What do the hacked CRU emails tell us?.

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