Questionable Motives

May 5, 2011

What do we do to keep from lying to ourselves?

We do science.

This site posts about these lies all the time and continues to urge that we respect the knowledge science produces. That may sound very reasonable and perhaps even self evident in almost every area of our lives where the results of science have produced practical and beneficial applications we can rely on. The screen in front of you is just one.

But it’s much more difficult to convince anybody to continue to respect the results of good science when it contradicts or appears hostile to our privileged biases and comfortable prejudices and favoured perspectives. We switch mental gears to rationalizing why this exemption is allowable in order to keep them  safe and sound from the harsh glare of sceptical and critical thinking that drives good science. It’s important that we begin to recognize that our motivations for doing so are thus questionable (hence the blog label).

Many of the posts I have made are about religion – probably the single most powerful bias we as a society privilege from critical review. But I have also posted about other biases many of us have… from questioning the anti-vaccine movement to dowsing, from what is ironically called complimentary and alternative medicine to misogynistic cultural practices… and tried to show that the same method of privileging faith-based beliefs from critical review through weak rationalizations is also prevalent in many areas of our lives. It’s all the same thing and we are all susceptible to its easy charms.

But this privileging carries with it an inherent danger from recognizing what is knowable and true… out of preference to believe what is not necessarily true but what we believe is knowable and true.  And nowhere is this danger more important to recognize than in looking at the results of climate science and respecting its conclusions.

The effects of allowing greenhouse gas emissions to continue rising while we pretend that the science is inadequate to even be able to draw good conclusions about what this means carries with it the cause of significant climate change. Our inaction – for whatever reasons we may think we have through our rationalizations and privileging our favoured beliefs about the topic – carries with it a considerable cost to everyone now and in the future. The cost of this change will be enormous in many ways, not least of which is an increased threat to human life and well being not just for us but for generations yet unborn. What these effects will be specifically is very difficult to calculate but we know enough to know that doing little will mitigate it not at all. If we wish to mitigate the effects, the very first step is to recognize that we even have a problem about which we can actually have an effect.

So.

Is the science of climate change dependable and, if so, what is it telling us? To this end I am posting the following video to help explain why we need to start respecting the scientific consensus that informs today’s climate science :

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23 Comments »

  1. I come across this occasionally even at work; where most of the people I know are very rational (or at least appear to be).

    Overheard someone talking about how the moon landings were faked – and that he didn’t believe a manned mission to NASA had been achieved. (1) Claiming that we (as in the human race) didn’t have the technology to do this in 1965, and that if man had tried to land on the moon he would almost of certainly died because the radiation within the Van Allen Belt would have irradiated them. (2) Then he went on to rant about how ‘he’ takes photographs and that this qualifies him to provide expert testimony that the photos were tampered with and faked. (3) Towards the end of the discussion; he states that there has been no other evidence provided since the landings that NASA ever visited.

    You can imagine my surprise, when this normally rational, thoughtful and otherwise intelligent person I know stated to spout such crap.
    So naturally, I moved forward to help him with his delusion.

    For his first issue [see (1) above] his argument is backwards – man didn’t have the technology at the beginning of the project – he is right, NASA had to invent it. The evidence for this is everywhere that supports this here are just some of the spinoffs from space exploration:

    http://space.about.com/od/toolsequipment/ss/apollospinoffs.htm

    He makes the assumption that the lack of technology is a blocker for everyone because it is a blocker for him. His lack of understanding is everyone’s lack of understanding! In other words, he thinks he knows best, and no one is more knowledgeable then he is.

    This is re-enforced with his second line of argument; he claims that the photographs were faked based on his knowledge. First when making this claim he is saying that as an amateur photographer, he has more knowledge than the people who were employed by NASA to solve the problems associated with taking photographs in a space suit! Simply put, he is deluded – NASA put in a considerable amount of effort into planning the photography for the missions. They took many photographs, the majority of which were not published because they were out of focus, had common lighting and photographic errors etc – you can read about this, it is publically accessable knowledge.

    Finally, he demonstrates his ignorance of evidence, as well as his ignorance for where such information (evidence) comes from. To which he gets a simple link from me:
    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2009/17jul_lroc/

    And a small reminder that of where his knowledge about the existence of the Van Allen Belt comes from:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Allen_radiation_belt#Impact_on_space_travel

    This is just one example.

    I have plenty of similar discussions with people over climate change, 9/11, Princess Diana’s Death, Vaccination, Homeopathy, AIDS (either not existing or being man made biological weapon) and even technology in general (the aliens brought it to us apparently – the aliens the government hasn’t told us about!).

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 6, 2011 @ 4:53 pm | Reply

  2. first: our church has solar panels on the roof and is working to be carbon neutral.

    second: is has gotten a ton of people on board and looking into such programs. even people who completely disagree and think global warming is a myth.

    third: i am FLOORED. FLOOOOOOORED that no one is talking about climate change causing the massive storms we’ve seen rip through the American south, drought in Texas, and massive flooding along the mississippi. Australia has been going through this same pattern for the last couple years and climate change scientists have pointed to it and said “See?! This is what we’re talking about!” and everyone seems to have ignored it… and still ignoring it even now that the same thing is happening in the states. it’s like we’ve been caught with our pants down even though we have had the pattern in our faces for years now.

    i’m not surprised. i’m pissed. so is my church. and we’re working toward a greener future.

    Comment by zero1ghost — May 9, 2011 @ 2:39 pm | Reply

  3. The problem with people who are sceptical of climate change is the same problem that my colleague – they ignore evidence, and they elevate their personal understanding above the expert opinion.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 11, 2011 @ 2:54 am | Reply

    • and where is the expert opinion these days? they seem to have been quieted by the fringe or they have lost their courage to speak up. i haven’t seen anything recently with the tornado’s in the american south, flooding along the “big muddy” and the drought in texas. perfect events to start the conversation of climate change.

      Comment by zero1ghost — May 12, 2011 @ 2:08 pm | Reply

      • To answer this question, “Where is the expert opinion these days?” one must first realize that what we are seeing is not really ‘climate’ but ‘weather.’ In the same way that a warm winter season or a quiet hurricane season does not offer evidence against global warming, so too does this flooding and droughts and heat waves and record snowfalls and tornadic conditions and so on offer evidence for global warming… although the temptation is there to point and say, “See? This is the effect of global warming in action.” Climate change really means changes in weather patterns, shifting climate zones. What that means to thee and me are changes beyond normal fluctuations and, unfortunately, that does not mean flooding and drought and so on per se but long term changes to their frequency and duration and so on. I like to think of the effect as being more active weather resulting in more extreme weather.

        Don’t know if that helps at all.

        There is a good reason why river valleys have natural banks and why classifying where a river’s flood plains really are is important for settlement (and insurance purposes). Never be afraid to actually look for the stepped banks even if they are covered by urban development. Living higher than these banks will almost always protect one from flooding! Farms, for example, that use these nutrient rich flood plain areas benefit in higher yields but the trade off is that they are susceptible to flooding. Building dams and dikes and supportive river and sea walls are always a temporary solution that shifts the burden of flood (and wave action) downstream (or down shore) while increasing soil erosion from faster moving water at every bend and turn.

        I’m always chuffed at engineers who treat natural systems as ‘problems’ that can be solved rather than first understanding how and why and what benefits accrue from respecting these normal cycles and then building accordingly. By cordoning off the Mississippi and its major tributaries from providing annual floods, engineers have caused a significant problem recharging many of the aquifers from which many millions of Americans will soon be without.

        But yes, these are good opportunities to get more people talking about the real costs of climate change, costs that will dwarf something like a cap and trade system. But I think the eventual solution will not be a ‘greening’ of our industries and transportations but the production of a bug… namely a bug (bacteria) that requires CO2 as food and excretes oil.

        Comment by tildeb — May 12, 2011 @ 3:29 pm

      • Tildeb: “But I think the eventual solution will not be a ‘greening’ of our industries and transportations but the production of a bug… namely a bug (bacteria) that requires CO2 as food and excretes oil.”

        You may like this then: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mx9nxFDjJgk

        Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 12, 2011 @ 5:46 pm

      • i think there’s plenty evidence of the severe weather and shifting climate zones. yet scientists remain silent.

        so while you chuff at engineers (i really like that word… chuff. good one!) who try to control nature you then turn around and state “I think the eventual solution will not be a ‘greening’ of our industries and transportations but the production of a bug… namely a bug (bacteria) that requires CO2 as food and excretes oil.”

        that’s where i chuff. i don’t think we can release such a bug and think we have all the factors in line. we could release the bug and it does indeed excrete oil and works like a charm… but it also loves to live in bronchioles… or some such unintended consequence. i’d rather not try to ‘engineer’ nature whether civilly or bio-technologically. it seems like your proposal goes the other way in trying to engineer nature. do you see it that way or am i making something up?

        green is the way to go. solar, wind, passive heat, etc. IMHO. no unintended side-effects and when they go down, they just stop. no radiation, no CO2. if we want something that eats CO2, why not just go with more trees?

        Comment by zero1ghost — May 12, 2011 @ 6:55 pm

      • “…green is the way to go. solar, wind, passive heat, etc…”

        I think it will be combination of things… but bio-engineering is definitely going to be a big part of the engineering process… as for engineering nature, well we have done that already – and have been doing it for centuries…

        Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 13, 2011 @ 2:05 pm

      • “I think it will be combination of things… but bio-engineering is definitely going to be a big part of the engineering process… as for engineering nature, well we have done that already – and have been doing it for centuries…”

        yup, uncontested. i just found it ironic that ~ stated he frowned on engineers “who treat natural systems as ‘problems’ that can be solved rather than first understanding how and why” and then propose bio-engineering as a solution. seems to me that would lead us further up said-creek without a paddle and get us into bigger trouble than our current mal-formed attempts. seeking clarity on that.

        Comment by zero1ghost — May 13, 2011 @ 3:42 pm

      • Many scientists are continuing to speak up and many publications don’t really make an issue of it. On the weather channel here I have repeatedly heard how the recent increase in frequency for the el nino/la nina promulgate weather extremes. What was once a 7 year cycle is now a 5 year cycle. But again, climate change is difficult to directly link with specific events and no self-respecting climate scientist will do so.

        Sorry to have left you dangling for a bit here: very busy times for me.

        I am chuffed at engineers not because they bugger around with natural systems. That’s perfectly reasonable because that’s what people do… that’s why you get dressed! What chuffs me are two things. The first is this tendency to approach change to a natural system as if were a problem to be solved. I understand why engineers do this and enjoy some of these benefits as much as anyone. But this framing shrinks an issue into how well a question is asked that defines the problem. Flooding, for example, is a problem in context and a benefit in another. A solution that fails to account for the benefit fails to address the issue as a whole but instead deals with the rising water in a local area. In one sense this is a solution to a problem but in another sense a shifting of the problem downstream while also eliminating the local benefits. A more cohesive and comprehensive approach to environmental issues I think serves us better in the long run, and the known effects of flooding are as ancient as the species. A far as I can figure out, engineers really have no excuse except they were following orders.

        The second thing that chuffs me about how we approach environmental issues is about finding a way to balance costs and benefits not in terms of economics alone (alone they are very important) but in environmental sustainability. We have this naive notion that people are somehow separate from nature, that our footprint is always intrusive, that nature knows best. All of this is complete bunk.

        If a child busy recycling paper in a grade 2 classroom truly understands that every scrap she collects will be bundled and transported by use of burning fossil fuels all the way to China where it will be processed into bulk paper in a plant exempt from environmental standards used in her home town and shipped by use of burning fossil fuels all the way back to her classroom in the form of, let’s say, recycled paper towels, or a local tree could be pulped into paper towels for a fraction of the carbon footprint and a fraction of the chemical byproducts discharged back into the world, then is she actually practicing sustainable environmentalism?

        We have this awful tendency to label actions as right or wrong. But context is everything. Recycling is not good if the practice weighs more heavily on unsustainable cost to the environment. Producing biodegradable trash may be in fact much better at achieving environmental neutrality. This is where the role of government regulation and taxation can play a pivotal part in creating widespread environmental sustainable practices where the true costs can be actuarialized (if that’s even a word). We can factor in profit and economic costs, carbon output, supply and demand materials, distance to and size of markets, and come up with tables that reveal who is helping and who is hindering environmental sustainability. Taxing the hindering while granting benefit to those helping will bring about the kind of changes we must endure to implement sustainable practices. That’s how you find balance without indoctrinating people into good/bad false dichotomies. Balance is key.

        So when you ask how I can look to technology to significantly help bring emissions back to sustainable levels, I think you can begin to see why. Make sustainable practices profitable, and get out of the way while businesses do what businesses do best: sell their products at competitive prices and generate economic growth.

        As for genetic modification, it’s been going on a long time and will not stop. We will have another 3 billion people to feed over the next 40 years and current practices are not adequate. Genetic modification is the next green revolution, so to speak, where we no longer have to leave to the vagaries and variances of nature to produce crops: we can plan and mass produce it by schedule.

        As for the bacteria I mentioned, gene modification means it will only work in specific settings. Designer bacteria is already widely in use without this Frankenstein-ian scenario hiding just around the corner ready to pop out at the first dropped test tube. By keeping our modifications out of a natural environment, we can better protect our investments from the indifferent brutality inherent in nature. So I don’t share your concern because I don’t think people want to risk their time and effort and money.

        More trees will not adequately deal with our emissions. Because a tipping point is out there and we are only going up in CO2 and will continue for the next hundred years even if we stop everything right here right now, we need solutions outside of the natural systems. I just happen to think a bacteria will prove to be very fast to grow, very profitable, and very do-able in the near future compared to the significant problems with solar, wind, tide, and hydro (and all the hybrids of these).

        Comment by tildeb — May 13, 2011 @ 4:46 pm

  4. Rant

    I wonder why none of those experts work for my local weather station? 😉

    Comment by Titfortat — May 12, 2011 @ 8:08 am | Reply

    • Would that be because they work at NASA by any chance?

      Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 12, 2011 @ 4:47 pm | Reply

      • Wonderful video. Well worth the time. Thanks, MUR!

        Comment by tildeb — May 15, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

  5. I don’t follow the climate change issue closely at all. But one of my favorite science writer, Matt Ridley @ “The Rational Optimist”, has a blog where he questions some of the political correct climate change positions. I was surprised. I love surprises. Thought some of you might be interested. He also has a twitter account.

    Comment by Sabio Lantz — May 13, 2011 @ 5:44 pm | Reply

    • Matt writes the following:

      The IPCC `consensus’, remember, is that

      Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.

      And that the temperature will rise by 1.1C-6.4C by the end of the century.

      Since these two statements include distinctly undangerous possibilities, there is absolutely no consensus that climate change will definitely be dangerous.”

      But let’s look a little closer at what the IPCC consensus from the 4th Assessment Report means:

      Warming of the climate system is unequivocal.
      Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely (>90%) due to the observed increase in anthropogenic (human) greenhouse gas concentrations.
      Anthropogenic warming and sea level rise would continue for centuries due to the timescales associated with climate processes and feedbacks, even if greenhouse gas concentrations were to be stabilized, although the likely amount of temperature and sea level rise varies greatly depending on the fossil intensity of human activity during the next century (pages 13 and 18).[41]
      The probability that this is caused by natural climatic processes alone is less than 5%.
      World temperatures could rise by between 1.1 and 6.4 °C (2.0 and 11.5 °F) during the 21st century (table 3) and that:

      Sea levels will probably rise by 18 to 59 centimetres (7.1–23 in) [table 3].
      There is a confidence level >90% that there will be more frequent warm spells, heat waves, and heavy rainfall.
      There is a confidence level >66% that there will be an increase in droughts, tropical cyclones, and extreme high tides.

      Both past and future anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions will continue to contribute to warming and sea level rise for more than a millennium.
      Global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have increased markedly as a result of human activities since 1750 and now far exceed pre-industrial values over the past 650,000 years.

      In scientific terms, let’s remember we never talk certainties. We talk probabilities. The strongest possible language, then, is something that is very likely. As for these very likely climate changes, none seem too dangerous on their faces. What is not said and is next to impossible to accurately predict is the rate of change. Anyone who follows climate science will know that the harbingers of the rate of change are the earth’s thermodynamic engines, namely the polar regions. What we see here is very concerning: very rapid melting of ice shelves. When change happens quickly, we have very good reason to see that as dangerous. If the Ross Ice Self goes, so too does today’s coastlines where 80% of the world’s population lives. But as the frog in the pot of cold water brought to a boil slowly will tell you (if it could), even slow change is dangerous if we don’t recognize what it means. But we’re not that stupid: we know what anthropomorphic global warming means to climate change: it is happening. All we can do is mitigate its rate. But if we pretend there is no atmospheric tipping point, then our doom for much of our species is simply a matter of time. Unlike Matt, I think that’s a danger worth recognizing rather than willfully ignoring.

      Comment by tildeb — May 13, 2011 @ 8:14 pm | Reply

  6. Yeah, I am not up on the issue. Interesting, I guess. I just can’t get interested in it. Cutting down forests, polluting water, polluting air — those I can get excited about.
    Maybe I should care, but I can’t for some reason — which actually, is a bit unlike me.

    Comment by Sabio Lantz — May 13, 2011 @ 8:24 pm | Reply

    • I think most of feel that way because the solution to the problem is beyond our control. And yet we can do our personal bit: as a property owner I grow lush vegetation that thrives on CO2 but is in need of almost no maintenance machines. We respect the ecosystem on which we live and create a lifestyle that thinks about our environmental impacts and seek as much balance as we can find and/or build. Neighbours ask us about how we have done what we’ve done and passer-bys come back with cameras for capturing both the beauty and function of our urban landscape. They marvel at the butterflies and birds and the richness of our soil and can’t understand how this is possible without artificial feed herbicides and nutrient boosters. And yet… all it takes is knowledge to make this one small place sustainable for its inhabitants. And another neighbour. And another. And soon we have a sum greater than its parts.

      As a buddhist, I know you would find meditation enhanced by the profusion of life within a typically hostile urban environment. And yet, that is exactly what more of us need to accomplish to feel our connection to this cosmic speck of dust: learn, do.

      Comment by tildeb — May 13, 2011 @ 9:16 pm | Reply

  7. Has anyone read this?:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gaia-New-Look-Life-Earth/dp/0192862189/ref=wl_it_dp_o?ie=UTF8&coliid=I2D3WLVRO3SBVV&colid=MDVVCZT06B5I

    I have it on my reading list – the author is one of the scientists that brought the world to the attention of the ozone problem – many of his predictions have been proved through observation… and many of his predictions about global warming are pretty alarming…

    What Wiki says: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Lovelock

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 19, 2011 @ 2:14 pm | Reply

    • Sorry this got hung up in comment moderation, MUR. If this happens again, let me know.

      Comment by tildeb — May 22, 2011 @ 1:59 pm | Reply

  8. Tildeb, if you wish to delete or ignore this post then go ahead. This is your blog and your rules and when we last communicated, the results were ugly.

    I’m moved to write, however, because of what you have written here and also because of the “Do your beliefs about global warming make you a champion of ignorance?” article (which I think is excellent by the way).

    I have to ask: What has changed your stance on climate change?
    When I last spoke to you, you were a person prepared to link to WUWT as a credible source on science. Now you are putting up the very videos that I recommend to my friends and, if anything, you sound even more passionate about defending good science for the benefit of all than I do.
    Don’t get me wrong. I’m genuinely delighted that you are doing this but I’d really like to know what led you to make such a big shift.

    (However, if you have no desire to communicate with me, I’ll not bother you again.)

    Comment by Cedric Katesby — May 24, 2011 @ 9:36 am | Reply

    • I am quite surprised to see you here, Cedric, thinking of me as you do of a slime-licking, scum-sucking scuzball! Of course you are welcome to add your voice and comment on whatever you wish. I try to moderate as little as possible. What’s true usually wins out in the end and I fear moderating it out of some discussion when tempers get engaged.

      I think you generally missed the point I was trying to make over at Ken’s place: that by equating anthropic global warming with climate change and using the terms interchangeably, we were shooting ourselves in the foot and opening ourselves up to criticism about the strength of the science informing the latter (not so strong) to undermine the overwhelming evidence (very strong) for the former. I used WUWT as an example of the kind of rebuttals we would have to deal with, rebuttals that were not without some wider credibility to the very public we were trying to reach.

      At the time I didn’t think the science for climate change linked directly to global warming was strong enough to sell effectively, but I have to admit I felt very much like an science/religious accommodationist by doing so. I felt the additional burden of proof to link climate change specifically to global warming was unnecessary in the face of selling the AGW argument on its own.

      You know and I know that altering the chemical composition of the atmosphere will affect global climate and that unsustainable rates of emissions will have vast consequences. But not all these consequences are necessarily negative across the board in the public’s mind when understood in localized effects. I could see this specifically: being Canadian, many people effectively argued in opinion columns (with some effect) that we needed to appreciate the economic opportunities global warming (without really understanding that this presumed moderate climate change) could bring with it (for example, the year round opening for the Northwest Passage). This was exactly the kind of arguments I feared would happen.

      Also, thee and me understand the difference between weather and climate, something the average person who really doesn’t care all that much about the specifics of AGW and climate science doesn’t appreciate. We are well enough informed through knowledge of climate science to understand the long term consequences if the local weather changes are driven by slight changes in climate, but try explaining that quickly in a paragraph to someone who is okay if the local weather ‘threatens’ to improve by half a degree Celsius. It’s a losing argument, as I can tell you from first hand experience. The feeling seems to be, “If that’s global warming, and we have slightly warmer weather for it, then bring it on.”

      However – and it’s a big HOWEVER – I didn’t fully appreciate what climate change really meant either: not ‘warming’ – as global warming indicates per se, which sounds pretty good to a citizen of the Great White North sick and tired of bloody cold winters – but extensions to the rates of climate variance. In other words, global warming means not only warmer summers (on average) and drier but colder winters (on average) and wetter (for us in Canada that means a lot more snow and even less summer). Once I understood that this is what global warming meant in local terms, then I began to be far more critical of those who didn’t take this into account in their arguments about the causes for global climate change.

      Also, as a hydrologist (working mostly with geologists and charting ground water flow), I understood geological evidence for variances in rates of precipitation so the science I was reading did not present a strong argument about the effects of global warming that linked it (by cause and effect) to significant changes in climate on average by these annual rates. That science has since grown stronger: the rates are changing, meaning that wet is getting wetter and dry is getting drier and in my neck of the woods is marching northwards, meaning what was warm is more often getting hot and what was moderately cool is more often getting cold. More importantly, the frequency of change is increasing at an alarming pace… something for which there is little geologic comparison. This means that global warming is having a causal effect on local changes in climate by both rate and frequency that is unprecedented. And there is a growing body of evidence for this. The same people who favoured a slighter warmer yearly temperature are not okay getting a meter of snow dumped on them on a weekly basis for many months in a row! My argument with you was intended to suggest that it’s really important how we frame these changes, and that AGW offered us a much easier time of it if we could relate it directly to more unpleasant weather than overall climate changes in rates and frequencies.

      But the kicker for me came with the East Anglia investigation when I realized that I had to either shit or get off the pot: climate science itself was under attack and being undermined intentionally. So I had a choice. Either I could respect what was true – that AGW was causing climate change (even if the argument was not very causally strong) or I could continue to argue with the very people who were on my team, so to speak, about sticking to AGW alone. Selling AGW without its link to climate change was the better argument and the more effective one I thought, but one that I now think was short-sighted because it avoided drawing logical long term conclusions based on respecting what the climate science was telling us: change to climate was happening and evidence through AGW for its increasing rate and frequency rock solid. The best explanation was (and remains) AGW but it was then and remains today two different arguments: AGW is happening due to human activity and this is behaviour we can do something about. Climate change is following and we still aren’t sure exactly what that will mean specifically for people here and there but we do know the rate and frequency are changing at a alarmingly rapid pace. We don’t know what we can do about this because we don’t know specifically what ‘this’ will look like here and there except in broader strokes.

      People under the threat of forest fire and flooding, people suffering from drought and soggy soil, people who have had their livelihoods negatively affected by AGW are far more willing to appreciate the science of climate change when their local weather is no longer trustworthy. There’s a whole new mindset when weather extremes go from being damaging inconveniences to actively trying to kill and destroy. Our climate science will only grow with importance as we try to react and cope with these increasing changes and we have to present a united front that good science as a method of figuring out what’s going on is the best we have, and that science is called Climate Science. More importantly, we can trust it because it respects what is true rather than what we may prefer to believe is true.

      I don’t think you ever really gave me a chance to explain why I was an ally of climate science before you had cast me as a villain. We both recognize the pattern that climate science denialists are usually those who trust their beliefs over fact and can’t be bothered to understand why the trust is so misplaced. So I think I was thrown into this opposing camp in your mind when what I was really trying to do was to explain why we should keep AGW and climate change as two separate issues for public consumption.

      As a side note, I also saw the lion’s share of research money get approved for climate change studies rather than AGW work when I was surrounded by dying forests the size of North Island New Zealand. The evidence to me seemed pretty obvious that something was happening that could be linked to AGW much easier (when the popular argument of the day was that CO2 was food for these dead trees) than through the diversion of climate change first. That was my bias at the time.

      Is climate change important to study? Yes, now more than ever. Do I think AGW drives climate change? Faced with the facts of such increases in rates and frequencies I have to change my opinion in the face of what’s true and admit that yes it does… far more so than I thought previously where I attributed AGW as simply one factor among many. It turns out I was wrong so I changed my opinion. I no longer have to feel like an accommodationist and it’s a good feeling!

      Comment by tildeb — May 24, 2011 @ 2:01 pm | Reply

  9. Thanks for the reply.

    I did indeed have you pegged as an accomodationist or probably worse.
    Deniers don’t want to be seen as deniers so they hide in the shadows of nuance.

    Sure they accept climate change.
    Sure!
    Climate changes all the time.
    (shrug)
    Sure they accept that the temperature has risen.
    Sure!
    It’s risen by a tiny, insignificant amount.
    (shrug)
    Sure, they accept that humans have an effect on the Earth’s climate.
    Sure!
    Lots of things affect the Earth’s climate.
    (shrug)
    And it goes on and on and on…

    The twisting, the turning, the niggling, the tangents and the endless love affair will deliberately missing the main point. Delay, obfusticate and confuse.

    Your comments about AGW/Climate change came across as being more of the same. I accept that’s not what you meant but that’s how it felt. The wording of your concern over “Climategate” was identical to someone just trying to stir the pot while maintaining plausible deniability. The link to WUWT looked like a clumsy give away as to what your real motivation was.

    I was very rude to you because I was convinced you were just part of the crew (e.g. Judith Curry) that hoped to muddy the waters. You really did fit the pattern.

    The way you write now and the supporting information you give is…well…incredibly different. It’s like you are a different person now. I can’t fault what you write nor the way you write it. Not even a little bit. It’s clear, unambiguious and very strong. It’s heartening to know how and why your opinions changed.

    I hope you continue to write more of this kind of thing. There is no time to be lost.
    Thanks again.

    Comment by Cedric Katesby — May 24, 2011 @ 7:52 pm | Reply

    • I think I write more honestly now and worry a lot less about appearing tolerant and respectful. Thanks for your comments. You are a pit bull and I’m glad we a) had this chance to clear the air, and b) we’re not on opposite sides of the fence over this vital issue.

      Comment by tildeb — May 24, 2011 @ 8:05 pm | Reply


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