2011-03-01 13:32:11World's leading climate scientists respond to leading climate skeptics
John Cook


Does that headline get your attention? Michael Ashley, an astrophysicist from UNSW who has a habit of suggesting ideas to me that require appalling amounts of work (he's the one who suggested Basic/Intermediate/Advanced rebuttals) has emailed me another doozy. He's a big fan of the yet-to-be-launched resource on climate skeptics but thinks it could be much more effective if each skeptic included a single page that listed in one handy place some of their most egregious quotes, each accompanied with a concise rebuttal from a leading climate scientist (who specialises in the subject at hand).

So my initial reaction, much like my reaction to the multi-level rebuttals, was "forget it, do you realise how much work that would be?!?! The chasing down of scientists alone would be a nightmare. Leave me alone, Ashley!" (okay, I made up the last bit). But as with multi-level rebuttals, the idea kept percolating away in the back of my mind, growing ever more irresistable. While I think the skeptic resource is potentially useful, it seemed to lack that certain something required to potentially catch the interest of mainstream media and the general public. But mulling over Michael's idea, I began to think the hook that might attract people's interest could be the concept of the world's leading climate scientists going up against the world's leading climate skeptics, in one concise, readable resource.

So my thinking is this. We make a change to the skeptic resource - add another tab "Quotes" (this will also apply to Monckton Myths). "Quotes" will be the default tab for each skeptic (probably delete the "Buttons" tab to make room). The Quotes page will contain quotes from each skeptic, followed by a quote from a leading scientist. The scientist's name will link to a bio page that outlines how experienced, qualified and generally awesome they are, preferably with pics of them (I'd love to include pics of them out in the field doing stuff, extracting ice cores, snorkelling around reefs, cuddling polar bears, etc but perhaps I overreach).

We build this resource for around 8 to 12 of the most prominent skeptics. Once we're ready and have quotes and responses for all our skeptics, we compile them into a single attractive, readable PDF (I'll ask Wendy to design a sexy looking document). Then we send the PDF along with a press release out to the media, pitching it as "World's leading climate scientists respond to leading climate skeptics" or something to that effect.

As an example, I threw together a rough, short page on Monckton grabbing content from the "Climate Scientists Respond" document compiled by John Abraham (which inspired this concept somewhat). Here it is to give you an idea (note it's not designed properly, just a rough concept):


How this might happen is the SkS team compiles a list of nice, short, debunkable quotes from each skeptic. We don't want to debunk everything they say but pick the 3 or 4 most egregious comments they've made. Then I take the quotes to John Abraham and Scott Mandia at the Climate Science Rapid Response Team and ask if they could pick out scientists amongst their list of 100+ experts to write responses. The CSRRT are very supportive of SkS so I'm hopeful they might get behind this.

But before I pitch this idea to the CSRRT, any questions/comments/suggestions?

2011-03-01 15:34:12sounds good
Dana Nuccitelli

I like the idea.  I vote for Rahmstorf to take on Lindzen's "we should have seen more warming" quote!

2011-03-01 15:57:35coping with nebulous comments


Hi folks, Michael Ashley here (m.ashley@unsw.edu.au), I've just joined your group, and I must complement you all on what a great job you have been doing!

I'm glad that John likes the "Quotes" idea. One issue is coping with skeptics such as Lindzen and Muller who don't make such obviously wrong statements as, e.g,  Plimer and Monckton. A specific example would be Muller on cosmic rays, in which he has a vague statement about clouds being complex, with the implication that Svensmark might be right.  This is a cop-out, and we should call him on it. This might make Muller think twice before commenting in a contrarian fashion to any journalist that calls.

Nebulous statements from skeptics can be responded to by experts with comments such as "the implication of this statement is...". And then, if the skeptic wants to disagree, then let them retract the implication. After a whole page of retracted implications, their position would start to be revealed for what it is.

2011-03-01 18:22:56Nebulous comments
John Cook


As the pages aren't meant to be too long or comprehensive (or they'll lose their impact on a general audience), I was thinking we target their most egregious errors and/or most common pet arguments. So more indistinct comments like Muller's wishy washy comment on cosmic rays might be worth hitting but higher up is his blatantly false comments about "hide the decline". Maybe we could get Mike Mann correcting him as he's been spreading misinformation about what "Mike's trick" is.