2010-09-01 02:29:17Great climate quotes


Kicking this off w/something John brought to the Basic area:



"Diminishing the importance of Arctic sea ice loss by calling attention to Antarctic sea ice gain is like telling someone to ignore the fire smoldering in their attic, and instead go appreciate the coolness of the basement, because there is no fire there. Planet Earth's attic is on fire. This fire is almost certain to grow much worse." 

2010-09-01 06:41:48Quote from Ken Caldeira


Joe Romm has the following quote from Ken Caldeira in his post about Bjorn Lomborg's "flip-flop":

[Begin quote]

That’s why it’s always better to listen to serious climate scientists about this sort of thing.  As Ken Caldeira put it (and he didn’t need a whole book):

I believe the correct CO2 emission target is zero. I believe that it is essentially immoral for us to be making devices (automobiles, coal power plants, etc) that use the atmosphere as a sewer for our waste products.  I am in favor of outlawing production of such devices as soon as possible….

Every carbon dioxide emission adds to climate damage and increasing risk of catastrophic consequences. There is no safe level of emission.

I compare CO2 emissions to mugging little old ladies … It is wrong to mug little old ladies and wrong to emit carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The right target for both mugging little old ladies and carbon dioxide emissions is zero.

 [End quote]

2010-09-02 08:39:25Al Gore
Dana Nuccitelli

There's an Al Gore quote I've always liked.

"The good news is we know what to do. The good news is, we have everything we need now to respond to the challenge of global warming. We have all the technologies we need, more are being developed, and as they become available and become more affordable when produced in scale, they will make it easier to respond. But we should not wait, we cannot wait, we must not wait."
2010-09-02 11:00:10Comment
Robert Way

Heres my favorite quote from just two weeks ago

-Fareed Zakaria- Is your research funded by the fossil fuel industry ?

-Skeptic Patrick Michaels- mutturs not largely...

-Fareed Zakaria- Dr. Michaels, How much of your research is funded by the fossil fuel industry ?

-Pat Michaels- I dont know.... 40%


2010-09-03 01:56:34Another Quote
Robert Way

A quote from James Woolsey (Former head of the CIA)

-It is true as some people say that there was climate change in the past and also people got lung cancer before people smoked

-It is also true that it is possible that we may not see the most terrifying implications of climate change in the next 100 years just as it is true that you can smoke two packs a day all your life and live to be 95 years old and be shot by a jealous husband...

2010-09-03 05:00:14Goddard Screw Up
Robert Way

Quote from over at Tamino:



As I am sure you are aware, Anthony shut down comments – so it would be pretty difficult for me to respond.

However, it does appear that the 1999 “global graph” probably excluded the 70% of the globe which comprises the oceans, so the basis of my article was most likely incorrect

This is with respect to:

A post which Steve Goddard uses as evidence that GISS is changing warm years around and such...
Too bad it was pointed out to him that he was using land only versus Land and Ocean in his graph so of course there would be differences when one includes SSTs and the other doesnt....

He denied it... but then as shown above, admitted the mistake away from his WUWT readers....
2010-09-04 00:51:22Another Goddard Screw up
Robert Way

Anthony tells Steve to stop fighting being wrong on a different subject:

Anthony Watts says:

September 1, 2010 at 2:59 pm

No need to wait for Phil. I’ll do it.



How can water co-exist at three phases (solid, liquid and gas)?

Answer..... (provided but taken out because it is long)

Steven, you really need to stop

stevengoddard says:

September 1, 2010 at 4:08 pm


You are really overstepping here and behaving incredibly badly.

REPLY: No he’s not, you are. And since you won’t take the hints, I’m closing the thread with this image:

2010-09-04 03:50:30

Ouch... }|:oD
2010-09-07 12:43:28
Nicholas Berini


Don't remember where I saw this but:

 "Climate trains the boxer, weather throws the punches."


real ouch... 

2010-09-07 14:58:38Boxer quote
John Cook

Love that quote. It first came from the NOAA's State of the Climate 2009, spoken by Deke Arndt, and I quoted him in the blog post 10 key climate indicators all point to the same finding: global warming is unmistakable. Great metaphor.
2010-09-10 09:19:44When I read good quotes, I'm going to collect them here
John Cook


Lou Grinzo in a discussion on Planet 3.0 re the issue of explaining climate time lag to people:

"There are times when I wish "our side" of this issue got to tell kids to stop brushing their teeth and eat lots of sugar-packed food, instead of telling them to brush and floss or they'll regret it in 30 or 40 years"

2010-09-13 20:50:59Nice quote from Neal on another thread
John Cook

As the great experimental nuclear physicist Ernest Rutherford once said, "If you can't explain what you're doing to a barmaid, you don't understand it."
2010-09-13 22:11:43To forestall questions about Rutherford's experiments & barmaids


less suggestive variants of this quote are:

  • An alleged scientific discovery has no merit unless it can be explained to a barmaid.
    • As quoted in Einstein: The Man and His Achievement (1973) by G. J. Whitrow, p. 42
    • Variants:
    • If you can't explain your physics to a barmaid it is probably not very good physics.
      • As quoted in Journal of Advertising Research (March-April 1998)
    • A theory that you can't explain to a bartender is probably no damn good.
      • As quoted in The Language of God (2006) by Francis Collins, p.60


2010-09-14 21:34:49Read this in a newspaper article
John Cook


Climate change in effect imposes a tax on our children and generations unborn to subsidise our carbon intensive lifestyle: they will face higher tax rates, higher food prices, higher health costs and higher insurance premiums as a consequence of our refusal to curb our carbon emissions.

2010-09-14 23:48:23Groucho Marx


"Why should I do anything for posterity? What has posterity ever done for me?"


2010-09-17 20:39:10I have no idea where this quote came from but it's great stuff...
John Cook

"if you jump out of an airplane you need a crude parachute more than an accurate altimeter.”
2010-09-17 21:35:42Photograph and Life Magazine ad


Here are a couple of nifty quotes, in the form of archival images.  Sorry for those who have already seen them elsewhere, but they're too good to resist re-posting:


Source:  Washington State Historical Society.


and also:


Source: Ad in Life Magazine (1962), via Grist.   The Grist post claims that Humble Oil later merged with Standard Oil, which in turn became Exxon (now ExxonMobil).


2010-09-20 08:55:23Warm the world on coal
John Cook

Ned, hadn't seen that first pic, "We can warm the world on coal". Ironic indeed!
2010-09-28 11:28:00This quote comes to mind in light of the intense criticism directed towards Skeptical Science of late
John Cook

FDR on his foes: "I welcome their hatred"
2010-10-14 09:50:08GOP on climate treaties


Imagine the world’s major powers sitting down in the early 20th century to negotiate a treaty on the law of the sea, only to have one of America’s major political parties vow to defeat any settlement, on the grounds that the world is in fact flat.

Ryan Avent via Michael Tobis 

2010-10-22 03:45:54Kerry Emmanuel


This is pretty long for a quote, but Emmanuel sums up the "debate" so very well.


"Dividing the entire field of climate research into “believers,” “skeptics,” “deniers,” and so on is a particularly egregious tactic deployed by those who wish to discredit climate research.  Science is not about belief, it is about evidence. Projections of climate change by the IPCC are deeply skeptical, and there is no attempt to hide the large uncertainty of climate forecasts. The possible outcomes, as far as we have been able to discern, range from benign to catastrophic. Ironically, those labeled “skeptics” by the media are not in fact skeptical; they are, on the contrary, quite sure that there is no risk going forward. Meanwhile, those interested in treating the issue as an objective problem in risk assessment and management are labeled “alarmists”, a particularly infantile smear considering what is at stake. This deployment of inflammatory terminology has a distinctly Orwellian flavor. It originates not in laboratories and classrooms, where ideas are the central focus and one hardly ever hears labels applied to researchers, but in the media, the blogosphere, and political think tanks, where polarization attracts attention and/or turns a profit.

But it turns out that there are not enough mavericks in climate science to meet the media’s and blogosphere’s insatiable appetite for conflict. Thus into the arena steps a whole host of charlatans posing as climate scientists. These are a toxic brew of retired physicists, TV weather forecasters, political junkies, media hacks, and anyone else willing to tell an interviewer that he/she is a climate scientist. Typically, they have examined some of the more easily digestible evidence and, like good trial lawyers, cherry-pick that which suits their agendas while attacking or ignoring the rest. Often, they are a good deal more articulate than actual scientists, who usually prefer doing research to honing rhetorical technique.  Intelligent readers/viewers should demand to know the actual scientific backgrounds of these posers and recognize that someone with a background in particle physics or botany may in fact know very little about climate science.  Does he/she have a background in atmospheric physics? Can they answer elementary questions about radiative and convective heat transfer, or about the circulation of the ocean and atmosphere?  More precisely, does their expertise actually bear on the particular points they are making? It may sound elitist these days, but there is a point to credentials."

From here, where Emmanuel discusses the email thing:



2010-11-08 23:33:43Quote from John Holdren


Just read this quote again:

As the physicist and White House science director John Holdren has said: “We basically have three choices: mitigation [cutting emissions], adaptation and suffering. We’re going to do some of each. The question is what the mix is going to be.


2010-11-16 06:40:15Elizabeth Kolbert


...final sentence of Elizabeth Kolbert’s  Field Notes from a Catastrophe

“It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing.”

2010-11-27 10:19:21A pithy response to the "CO2 is plant food" argument
John Cook


Scott Mandia mentioned this in an email so I'm recording it here for future reference if I ever need it in a conversation:

I wonder how much CO2 plants can benefit from as they whither away in the heat and drought?  This argument is like trying to tell a person on fire that taking extra vitamins is good for him.
2010-11-28 05:13:50
Paul D


 Michael O'Leary boss of Ryanair:


2011-01-01 22:38:38Not specifically climate but a useful quote
John Cook


Hanlon's Razor

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

2011-01-07 07:23:21
Pete Murphy

Not really  a climate quote   but I like the  one where Sheikh Yamani  said   about the oil price ...

Remember,” he said, “the Stone Age didn't end because the cavemen ran out of stone.”