2011-06-27 06:20:00Another victory for Skeptical science. A 'sceptic' turned


Well done everybody.  Copied from Skeptoid

I, Global Warming Skeptic

I am a global warming skeptic. .....by data, sound science and a logically consistent argument.

When I heard Dr. Gleick speak at the recent SkeptiCal, I was all braced for the typical alarmist assault. I was about to be called a “denier”, and told why Kyoto must be signed.

Except that’s not what happened.

Dr. Gleick started by pointing out that good policy without good science is unlikely. I had to agree. He then carefully teased out the science from the politics and talked about the fallacies that commonly appear around the science of global warming. Especially illuminating was the part about cherry-picking data. It was refreshing.

Since his talk I have spent a lot of time on a site he recommended, skepticalscience.com. There they have taken each of the most common science questions, numbered them, and carefully addressed them with the current science. The answers are even presented in basic, intermediate, and advanced formats so that there’s likely to be one matching the reader’s level of scientific knowledge.

With the caveat that a few of the questions don’t belong on their list (42, 63, 105 and 165, at least) because they are economic and/or political rather than scientific, I highly recommend the site.

So, yes, I am now persuaded that anthropogenic global warming is real. That’s because I’m a skeptic...

2011-06-27 10:44:16Nice Win!
Glenn Tamblyn


Also the guy involved isn't just a joe public but a 'someone' at Pixar. Might be worth contacting. Also perhaps contact the guy behind Skeptoid, see if he is interested in any sort of collaboration

2011-06-27 18:50:07


Further point: The poster states that his political slant is conservative/libertarian. Now THERE'S a demographic we could afford to make contact with! He gives some hints to us lefties:

"To my friends on the Left: Do you want to convince more skeptics? I mean really? Is the truth more important than your politics? Great. I have some suggestions.

Stop calling people “deniers”. That’s very clearly a slap in the face, designed to link skeptics to holocaust deniers. Maybe it plays well with the base, but you’ll make no friends nor influence people with that kind of disrespect. Don’t poison the well.

Stop calling it “climate change”. That’s a weasel-worded political phrase that dances around the real issue. It looks stupid. Of course the climate is changing. It always has! If the problem isn’t human-caused warming, there isn’t a problem. So call it what it is: anthropogenic global warming.

Stop blaming every unusual weather event on global warming. “We blame global warming” has become a joke on the Right, and for good reason. Scientists need to do a better job explaining why a global average temperature change so small that nobody could feel the difference (how about I warm your room up a half a degree and see if you can tell?) can change weather patterns in a way that some places might actually get colder and some weather may get more intense – sometimes. But blaming every heat wave, hurricane, tornado and earthquake on global warming only confuses the issue. It’s hard enough for most people to understand the difference between climate and weather.

Dump Al Gore. Even if you don’t think the man is a buffoon (I do, and I’m far from alone) you have to admit that he’s hyper-political. He’s clearly looking to ride global warming to greater wealth and power. A spokesman with his carbon footprint isn’t an ambassador, he’s a hypocritical liability.

Enough with the “green”. Linking AGW to the watermelons of the environmental movement is counterproductive. The environmentalist left is so infected with woo and socialism that it taints your argument. CO2 could technically be called a “pollutant” but don’t try to equate what I exhale with toxic waste. This is a different problem than most “good for nature” issues. Besides, CO2 is the “greenest” gas I can think of. Plants love it, and a warmer world is going to get a lot greener. If anything, the campaign should be to un-green the world.

Hug a nuke. If you really follow the science, really believe that lowering CO2 is important, and truly follow safety statistics then you’ll become a nuclear energy booster. Technophobes who reflexively oppose nuclear power are every bit as fallacious as your friends who don’t buy global warming. If not more so. So far nuclear power has proven a lot safer than organic farming.

Stick with the science. Unlink it from your politics. The fact that human activity is raising the average temperature of the planet does not necessarily imply the “and therefore” that you want it to. Don’t conflate it with your political agenda. The politics comes later.

Scientists: Go Independent. How much do you mistrust a report funded, even in part, by Exxon? Multiply that by ten and that’s how much we mistrust the UN. If you’re a climate scientist with a talent for speaking or writing, follow Dr. Gleick’s example and provide politics-free, all-science talks and articles. The IPCC consensus may be correct but, as a body, its credibility is tainted. It looks too much like political consensus. You’ll be much more effective without them."

2011-06-27 18:57:50
Rob Painting

Nuclear power safer than organic farming? Errr....riiiiiiiiiight. I bet a whole bunch of Japanese people are thanking their lucky stars they had nuclear reactors melt down and not organic farms. 

2011-06-27 19:07:28


Somebody was talking about trying to build bridges to the tea-party folks. Maybe this is a place to start.

2011-06-27 20:05:59
Ari Jokimäki


So, what if this is just a tactic to get all done in that suggestion list?

2011-06-27 20:39:23Note that SkS do most of what's on his list - possibly why we were successful
John Cook

I even avoided using the word denier until the book came out - and after publishing a few articles about denial and finding the term alienates skeptics to the point where they are unable to process my presentation of the evidence, I'm finding myself avoiding the use of the term again. Chris Mooney talks about finding values in common with your audience so that you "give the facts a fighting chance". He might be onto something.
2011-06-27 20:46:13


In addition to practices, maybe someone should try to establish a connection with this specific individual.

2011-06-27 21:09:28I could try
John Cook

But to what purpose?

Although did someone mention he worked for pixar?

2011-06-27 22:52:29


Well, the guy is a self-proclaimed conservative/libertarian: our toughest demographic, with regard to values.

BUT he thinks AGW is real.

So can we get him to promote the story to his fellow tea-partiers?

To me, that would be a lot more important than his role at an animation company.

2011-06-27 23:48:34Changing minds and bridge building
James Wight


Interestingly, I started out doing most of the things Craig Good mentions but have ended up breaking nearly every rule from time to time. In particular, it is really difficult to know what approach to take on extreme weather – whatever you say the average person seems to interpret it as either “yes, there’s a definite connection” or “no, there’s no connection”. And while Romm’s and Trenberth’s approach may be compelling to “the base”, it (somewhat rightly) puts off the “skeptics”.

The “denial” thing is also interesting. I can certainly understand why it’s insulting – I wouldn’t like to be called a denier, though I’d like to think I would have a thick enough skin to look at the evidence presented. I don’t think it’s productive to use “denier” in the middle of an argument, because it distracts from the substance, so I tend to use “contrarian” or “quote-unquote skeptics”. Yet another part of me says that is what they are – in denial – and we should call a spade a spade.

As for building bridges, this Craig Good is evidently part of the “skeptical movement”, which I have some knowledge of from podcasts like The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe. These people are generally true skeptics rather than deniers, and do a good job of promoting critical thinking and defending science against pseudoscience and denial. However, they’ve traditionally been pretty lukewarm on AGW, which seems to be because of a political divide between liberals and libertarians. They have much experience of how science and anti-science operate, so would be useful allies to have if we could figure out how to bring them fully onside.

2011-06-28 00:02:02Before we get too carried away about converting Teapers...
John Hartz
John Hartz

let us keep in mind that our primary purpose is to educate the vast sea of average people who are not political ideologues. According to the polls, we've only scratched the surface in this effort.

With respect to political ideologues on the right, our goal ought to be to neutralize their ability to influence the vast sea of average people.



2011-06-28 00:06:18


If we can stop the T-pers from promoting AGW-denial, this will be a step forward.

Note that most national-level GOP candidates are in AGW-denial, even though most GOP voters are not. The candidates are playing to the vocal minority, the T-pers.

2011-06-28 00:31:05nealking
John Hartz
John Hartz

With all due respect, trying to stop the T-pers' from promoting AGW-denial is akin to pissing into the wind.

The T-pers (and Libertarians) are puppets on a string controlled by the Koch brothers, Ruppert Murdoch, and their ilk.

We simply do not have enough troops to accomplish our primary mission.  

2011-06-28 00:46:05


That is precisely why the discovery of a conservative/liberatarian who actually thinks AGW is real is important.

2011-06-28 02:11:11
Rob Honeycutt


I'm with Badger on this one.  There's an important strategy to remember here.  I'm happy to see someone who is a self described conservative/libertarian converted but we're not going to win this by converting the extreme members of the right wing.  And, honestly, it would be a huge mistake to trumpet anything too far other side of the political spectrum as well.  The middle is where we win.

SkS does a great job of keeping the discussion about science, and referencing the science.  Most anyone who has made up their minds already on this topic are unlikely to change their position in any meaningful way any time soon.  I think this guy here is an exception.  I debate online with lots and lots of hard core deniers, conspiracy theorists, and die hard right wingers.  What I always say is I use them as a foil to try to teach something about real climate science to the broader audience who is either just starting to learn about it or who hasn't made up their mind. If there's any reaching out to be done, THOSE are the people we need to reach out to.

The other thing I tend to notice about the really hard core tea party types is, they are older.  Retirees.  People who are very vocal, have extra time, and are set in their ways.  These are not the people whom climate change is going to impact.  Van Jones is the guy who is on the right track!  He's out there trying to stir up the youth of the US to stand up and make their voices be heard on this issue.  

The tea party people are noisy right now.  They're going to disappear.  They'll fade from prominence as quickly as they came into it.  (Note Glenn Beck's trajectory.)  

On this list of points the guy makes regarding how to convince more skeptics...  I disagree on almost all of them.  And I'm not an extreme lefty either.  I'm a business guy, left of center at best.  Those are his "issues" but they have nothing to do with the science.  If Al Gore says something accurate about the science, you don't cast him to the wolves.  Likewise, if Anthony Watts says something accurate about the science, we shouldn't have a problem pointing that out.  

Somehow, disregarding all this guys "issues", SkS and Dr. Gleick managed to convince him the science is right.  That means we're doing something right here.  I would take this just as a sign we should keep doing what we're doing.

2011-06-28 02:53:14Rob Honeycutt
John Hartz
John Hartz

Hear! Hear!

PS -- It is also possible that the "convert's" advice is a red herring planted by the Climate Denial Spin Machine. 

2011-06-28 04:08:02
Paul D


"He gives some hints to us lefties:"

I don't believe the left or right have a future.
Although I have sympathies with some left ideas, many are doing a lot of damage to environmentalism.

"The environmentalist left is so infected with woo and socialism that it taints your argument."

Environmentalism isn't a 'left' thing. In many cases it has been hijacked by the left, although in the UK the 'movement' was started by CND protestors and others. However today there is quite a mix of people in the UK and most people don't have a problem discussing climate change.

Those on the left and have radical agendas, are not environmentalists. You can't protect jobs and be overtly sympathetic to human needs and also claim to care about the environment. BY definition if you care about the 'environment' it has a cost to human endeavours and wealth (the left need to get a handle onto this, they can't assume being green won't harm peoples lives, the fact is it probably will). The question is, where is the balance point? The reality is that that point is a moving target and always will be.

Why should anyone be surprised that a Republican or Libertarian understands the science?
The science should guide policy no matter what you prefered flavour of politics is.

As well as the left getting things drastically wrong. The right have also failed in a big way for not recognising that the environment should be included in any economic theory. Having said that, things are changing albeit slowly.

Personally I think the left and right are complete failures (they both came out of the industrial revolution). Somehow, new ideas need to evolve.

2011-06-28 04:37:10



You ask, "Why should anyone be surprised that a Republican or Libertarian understands the science?
The science should guide policy no matter what you prefered flavour of politics is."

The problem is that, as we have seen in the "communicating science" section, it arises again and again that people tend to:

- Judge the CONSEQUENCES of AGW depending on their political orientation; and THEN

- Evaluate the science based on that.

Putting it crudely: the typical conservative analysis is:

- Those AGW greenies want to impose carbon TAXES, which are evil; therefore,

- The science that demonstrates AGW must be wrong.

He then becomes susceptible to the partial arguments from WUWT et al. that support the viewpoint that AGW is just an intellectual error.

The conclusion we came to in that area was that it would be important to establish common values with a skeptic, and try to use that to build a bridge over the science. Just hitting them with the science alone is rarely going to be successful: Like water off a duck's back.

2011-06-28 05:21:03
Rob Honeycutt


I have big problems with guys like this who make sweeping claims about socialism and the left.  He overtly links "socialism" with "progressives" in his article.

I know of absolutely no one who is a progressive who wants a socialist system.  There are aspects of an economy that should be socialized because they benefit the nation as a whole... roads, clean water, safe drugs and food... dare I say, healthcare.  But absolutely no one who considers themselves progressive wants our entire system of government to be socialistic.  No one that I've ever met.  ...because we know it doesn't work.

On the other side, there is a clear and concerted effort to dramatically alter the US system of government which has me incredibly concerned.  The people who want NO regulation and NO social services at all.  These people are an equivalent to the same extreme idealogical position that the left took years ago with Marxism.  The extreme of any socio-political movement is a recipe for disaster.  Ayn Rand is the new Karl Marx.

I believe there is no coincidence that the modern Libertarian movement is on the rise right now as energy and climate issues come to a head.  In the background these people (elected officials and pundits) are not truly Libertarian when you look at various aspect of their social agenda.  I don't want to spin off into conspiracy theories but I believe the agenda of the oil industry - and specifically the Koch's - is to try to functionally collapse the government to remove any impediments to continuing to produce and sell their products regardless of what the eventual outcome for the climate would be.   They don't want a level playing field in the market place.  They want to be able to control the market place in order to remove competition coming from the falling cost of renewable energies.  They can not do this with a strong central government.  With a weak central government they can do what Rockefeller did in the early days of Standard Oil.  Win by crushing their competition with market manipulations.

I honestly think fossil fuel companies know that the gig is almost up.  Their energy products are not going to be economically viable in the coming decades.  This is the only play they have to save their industry as it's currently structured.

2011-06-28 07:10:38
Paul D


His first observations...

I’m old enough to remember “Global Cooling”, the population bomb, the hole in the ozone, and any number of other tidings of doom. The Chicken Littles have a track record indistinguishable from that of Harold Camping.

He still hasn't got it. The population bomb and ozone holes are still an issue!


The issue is massively politicized. The Left has seized on it as an opportunity to dismantle free markets and grow government. They have entangled it with their beliefs the way creationists entangle evolution with religion.

This makes my point. The left or any political ideology will use 'environmenatlsm', green isuues and climate change and distort them. Unless of course they change themselves. It is hardly surprising that the left would abuse it if they are obsessed with the core ideology. The same goes with this guy and his libertarianism. He will corrupt the requirements of an environmentally sustainable world if it doesn't fit in with his ideology. Unless of course he changes his ideology, along with the left!



The IPCC was formed by the United Nations. The UN is a systemically-corrupt, left-wing political organization. Any organization that coddles dictators and thugs should not be trusted even if it claims the sky is blue.

This is conspiracy theory. The US and other nations have helped a lot of dictators, I don't see why the UN is being picked out. If that is true then he should be questioning his own ideology as well.

2011-06-28 07:14:44


The issue is that we have to get around these preconceptions, to get the science accepted. We are NOT going to be able to succeed with the current degree of opposition.

2011-06-28 07:46:46
Rob Honeycutt


Neal...  In a way, in the public debate it's almost like the more the science is correct, the more a threat it is.  It's that cognitive dissonance.  So, the better we make the case on the science the more reactive the other side becomes in response.

I've said this before but I think the broad shift in perception comes when solutions hit the market full force.  Libertarian free market ideals are not going to drive those innovations.  Those ideals are a tool for the legacy energy players to circumvent new technologies.  But when electric vehicles take hold in the market and battery prices come down significantly, suddenly that conservative right-winger can buy a hot, fast new car that costs $2 to "fill up."  It's faster than his old car.  It's CHEAPER than his old car.  It's easier to fix.  It lasts longer.  And it will go further on a fill up than his gas car ever did.  Then when PV panels get cheaper, that conservative right-winger's monthly energy bill goes down.  He and his buddies have good jobs installing panels.  Etc., etc.

When these kind of solutions get a foothold, that's when minds start changing in a big way.  

2011-06-28 07:56:07
Rob Honeycutt


In this, the more extreme denier set is only going to change their tune only when the solutions are well established.  In the meantime there is a vast middle ground where people need to be made more aware of this issue.  

Science has a big challenge in that it's complex and challenging for even smart people to comprehend.  That is where SkS plays such a vital role.  SkS shows where the denier arguments are inaccurate and makes the published science easy to digest for the general public.

Probably the best thing SkS could do is work to make the information here increasingly more more user friendly to locate and consume.  It might be an interesting experiment for some of us to locate someone new to climate science and sit down and show them the site.  Don't help, just watch how they access the information and get feedback on what was difficult to understand or negotiate.  Then we could maybe identify ways to make the introduction to climate change more easy.  Create a path of least resistance to understanding climate science.

2011-06-28 09:51:06



Well, that is why I am so unenthusiastic about SkSers jumping onto the latest research: It's mostly incomprehensible to non-experts, and cannot be easily simplified, so we end up with these posts that are likely to discourage our target audience. "Path of least resistance?" Not likely.

2011-06-28 17:36:14


PaulD said:  BY definition if you care about the 'environment' it has a cost to human endeavours and wealth (the left need to get a handle onto this, they can't assume being green won't harm peoples lives, the fact is it probably will).

This may be true in terms of standard economic doctrine, but I don't agree with the statement in an absolute sense. It assumes more work and more money than we have now is good, I don't believe this is true.

Rather than using technology to enrich our lives and reduce the work burden, we seem to have simply created unnecessary jobs to take the place of those which technology has made redundant. I also believe we waste most money on unnecessary fashionable or throwaway consumables, energy and food. Ecosocialists in particular detest the capitalist agenda for creating this consumer addiction through marketing and in this sense they surely have a point.

According to conventional economics, waste and excess is good because it increases the GDP and provides the illusion of wealth, it is this we must forfeit which is hardly being unsympathetic to genuine human needs. 

2011-06-28 17:53:53


To elaborate further, Eco-socialism has many fundamentally sound concepts which are worth considering.  From Wiki:

Eco-socialism focuses closely on Marx's theories about the contradiction between use values and exchange values. Kovel posits that, within a market economy, goods are not produced to meet needs but are produced to be exchanged for money that we then use to acquire other goods; as we have to keep selling in order to keep buying, we must persuade others to buy our goods just to ensure our survival, which leads to the production of goods with no previous use that can be sold to sustain our ability to buy other goods.[12]

Such goods, in an eco-socialist analysis, produce exchange values but have no use value. Eco-socialists like Kovel stress that this contradiction has reached a destructive extent, where certain essential activities - such as caring for relatives full-time and basic subsistence - are unrewarded, while unnecessary commodities earn individuals huge fortunes and fuel consumerism and resource depletion.

This gets to the root of a practical mechanism for sustainability.  In crude terms meeting need rather than greed.  What market based approach can possibly meet sustainability criteria when it is based on growth?  Sustainable growth is the ultimate oxymoron.

2011-06-28 21:47:00
Tom Curtis


It's great that any denier should actually be persuaded by science, but in this case his free advise is a poisoned chalice.


I'll start with the most obvious case - Al Gore.  I certainly had nothing to do with Al Gore's deciding to publicly speak out on global warming; and nor could I do anything to prevent him doing so.  I seriously doubt anyone on this forum could either.  So the advise to "dump Al Gore" is not advise that Al Gore should stop speaking.  Rather it is advise that when Al Gore is slandered by deniers for speaking out on global warming, we should not defend him.  Now, I am all for people taking their deserved lumps when they get it wrong, but typically Al Gore has not got it wrong.  That is why the deniers hate him.  So if we do not defend him from those slanders by showing that that is what they are, we are just throwing Gore under a bus for political convenience.

I am reminded of the phrase, "All that is required for evil to triumph ...".  Allowing Gore to be thrown under a metaphorical bus realy means that we simply not defend as true those claims of Gore's that deniers attack.  Otherwise we are seen as massively inconsistent when we do not defend Gore, but still defend those claims.  We are also shown to be without moral integrity.  What is more, once Gore's reputation is sufficiently savaged by his being continously attacked and not defended, it will mean people in public life will not be willing to take a stand on this issue because they will know that they will be attacked, but that no-one will defend their reputation if they are.


Similar things can be said about the IPCC.  In fact it is absolutely false that we would be more effective than the IPCC.  Nothing has done more to put global warming on the map, and to make the base position of most of the population to be the acceptance of global warming (even if they do not understand its consequences).  The IPCC puts global warming firmly in the news, and displays the fact of scientific consensus with clarity.  But on top of that, everything I have said about Gore applies equally to the IPCC.  Regardless of our wishes the IPCC will exist, and continue putting out its reports for years to come.  Given that, we can either choose to defend the good science inthos reports (ie, almost all of them) or we can choose to drop any science covered by the IPCC from our case.  Clearly the latter amounts to voluntary self censorship about the science of global warming.  But seeing that is not an option, we have no other choice than to defend the IPCC science when it is attacked, and the IPCC and its participants from unwarranted slanders.


Simarly with the greens.  Seriously, what sort of "libertarian" is this guy that he thinks we all march lock step and can control whether greens, or greenpeace, or anyone talks, or does not talk about global warming?  I have no involvement with green politics, and no control over how greens (or Greenpeace) talk about global warming or use it in their policies.  Nor do I want that control.  Nor would I ever try to excercise that control if I could get it.  This is really that simple thing called free speach.  But if anybody speaking freely tells the truth about global warming, I will not ignore attacks on them for telling that truth.  This does not commit me to endorsing their politics, policies, life styles or anything beyond that I will not turn aside while people slander them for truth telling.  If "buttle" (his blog name) where a consistent libertarian he would do the same (not that I have ever met a consistent libertarian).  He would absolutely not be advising us to do the opposite - but against his own principles, and to our strategic disadvantage, he does.


As to his other advise:

Stick to the Science:  Well, only if we never want any actual policies implemented.  However, we should be aware that there are many ways to skin a cat and should openly discuss any and all viable policies.  At the same time, almost any of the viable policies is better than no policy, so in our own nations we should suport whatever policy is politically viable even if we think some other policy would be better.

Hug a Nuke:  If you want to hug nukes, by all means.  If you don't its none of my business.

Stop Blaming Unusual Weather on Global Warming:  I never have and never will.  Like all of us here I make nuanced comments which are then filtered down to a LCD falsehood.  But I am not going to, and we should never stop telling the truth because people consistently misrepresent it.

Stop calling it "climate change":  Actually, better yet, swap freely between calling it climate change and global warming.  That way if anyone tries to make a rhetorical point about the word (and that is all it is), your frequent use of the words they say your avoiding will make them look foolish.

Stop calling them deniers:  There may be some point in this, but until we can come up with a better word...

2011-06-28 23:49:22Tom Curtis...
John Hartz
John Hartz

Excellent critique!

A better word..."dork"?

2011-06-29 03:03:26Tom Curtis...


...thanks for your post! I had much the same reaction to most of the "free advice" given by "buttle". I just didn't know how best to express it.

The "skeptics" complaining about being called deniers - which is what most of them obviously are - really gets me riled. That they immediately complain that this equates them with Holocaust deniers is just a ruse and a a knee-jerk reaction. It shifts the discussion to fighting over words instead of something substantative like the science or their denying the facts. Which of course is exactly what they want to achieve. We shouldn't really let them get away with this and just keep an calling a spade a spade. As long as they deny the science, they are deniers (of science).

As far as Al Gore is concerned: I'm currently reading, watching, listening to the iPad-Version of "Our choice" and it is simply brilliant both as far as content and presentation/interactivity goes.

2011-06-29 04:33:18
Rob Honeycutt


I always see their response to the term "denier," saying it's a "deliberate" attempt to connect them with holocaust deniers, as a typical denial response.  

Great critique Tom.  You're right, what this guy presents is a poisoned chalice.  (Great term.)  It all strikes me as the neighborhood bully saying that if you were just nicer to him he wouldn't beat you up so much.