Two opinion pieces. Or three, if you count James. But that's four if you count me. Oh hang on, I'll come in again.

Ah, enough science (or at least computation) what about the advocacy then? Talking about advocacy is great, you don't have to have a clue about anything factual, its all so meta.

JA, as usual has a nice thoughtful post which you should read. I'll just throw in some... some what? Well, some words. Oh, all right then, some flames.

Yes, we could change. So why don’t we?

From P3 (but the original is here). Aiee, we hates it forever Baggins, yes we does. Why?

Because its a piece that displays the very flaws it decries in others. It asks for many things to be fixed, but (paraphrasing) its asking for a much more thoughtful approach. At least, that's how I interpret the complaint Too often, we reduce “news” to nuggets that feed prejudice and agenda... we need a firm grip on global realities. That requires professional reporters along with thoughtful readers who absorb what they report. Today’s avalanche of “news” from multiple directions would be great if we knew what to trust. Mostly, it only confuses us. Good stuff gets lost in a tower of babble. I agree with that: we do indeed need more thoughtful reporting. We need to concentrate more on the important things, not the trivia. So why on earth does he then blather on in a terribly confused manner about Farfetched? Orwell wrote “1984″ on the Scottish island of Jura. Just recently, the BBC reported, Jura vanished from view. Google inexplicably wiped it off the map. This was later corrected, but the point was made. When virtual replaces real, anything is possible.

So much of it is bad, confused, un-thought-through. It reads like some old newspaper guy decrying the evils of a new world he doesn't really understand. About the only bit really worth reading is a quote (or so he says. I can't find it. But whether it is or not, the words are good) from Alexis de Tocqueville: When citizens grow apathetic, he wrote, democracies slide toward “soft despotism,” and majorities tyrannize minorities. The key here is "when citizens grow apathetic". And that's what we have. So its no good whinging about Second, we have to elect people who remember their oaths of office or any of that kind of stuff, when your core problem is your citizens. Who would rather sit in from on the TV eating popcorn and watching drivel than thinking (I'm referring to Joe Public here of course, not my readers). If your citizens won't hold your Pols to account; if they continue to elect on party affiliation regardless of quality; then you get rubbish Pols. Oh, look...

Climate scientists must not advocate particular policies

Oh, don't be silly (yes, I've redacted a somewhat stronger comment).

Or, more politely, what James said.

Oh go on then I'll expand a bit. Prompted by Science and policy.

* advocacy by climate scientists has damaged trust in the science - nah, this is nonsense. Trust has been damaged by the septic / denialist political-industrial complex, driven and abetted by individuals desire not to know certain true things, and various established organisations that have an interest in people not knowing those things. And trust has been damaged in two ways: in order to deny true things, they've had to deny / distort / hide / distract the science; and they've also deliberately set out to attack individuals when they couldn't attack the science.

* much climate scepticism is driven by a belief that environmental activism has influenced how scientists gather and interpret evidence - again, nonsense. But this time she has just confused cause and effect. Septics will happily pick up the ready-made excuse "oh, your activism affects your data" whenever they encounter data they don't like. But the fundamental belief is "not-GW" (which is why "denialist" is indeed a good term; these people don't have a coherent position; they just deny the coherent scientific position).

* They call me an "honest broker" - ROTFL. Can I stop now?

Update: JA has a nice comment: "Indeed, by strongly advocating her own preferred policy, she is following the precise path that she wishes to deny others."

Late update: more Tamsin from links at Anthony Watts is finally back to his field of expertise, with help where she weighs in favour of Rob "crock of shit" Wilson (and he stands by that, he'd like you to know).

Make that five

Did I mention that Warren Pearce is a bozo?

Too hot for you?

You can read some more reasoned views at Wotts Up With That Blog.


More like this

> Climate scientists must not advocate particular policies

Instead, advocate what, general, inexact, indiscriminate policies? Or is the message "must not advocate" at all?

Because climate is so different from, say, chemistry, or ecology, or nuclear physics?

These climate scientists she speaks of, they should merely stand in front of people, express "concern" and rub their little hands together and murmur "Something should be done, oh, I hope someone will do something"??

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 01 Aug 2013 #permalink

Translating to the world of medicine it does seem appropriate that doctors and medical researchers in the field advocate for public health measures and policies to improve health and prevent disease, especially when their research shows a significant public benefit is likely to follow.

That's not at all the same, however, as highly visible doctors advocating for partisan action (or inaction) in fields far removed from their area of expertise.

By David Sanger (not verified) on 01 Aug 2013 #permalink

Well, I see Gavin's got a new pal over at Twitter. The fellow's recommending his own policy work while saying climate scientists have no competence in the area. His self-linked paper says:

"...we are a planetary civilization. Even though the United States is one nation, it also is the core member of a planetary civilization that has been evolving for several centuries. This places a unique responsibility for us as a nation, in developing our spacepower theory, to provide a path for other nations to achieve our level of civilization ...."

Y'all are looking forward to that, I hope?

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 01 Aug 2013 #permalink

They call me an “honest broker” is clearly a quote from Harold MacMillan: "We couldn't be more honest, and we couldn't be broker." h/t Beyond the Fringe


"The core of the climate challenge – and the more you know about the science, the more you see this – is what we might agree to call “Zero Carbon 2050.” This is where we have to go, or at least try our damnest to go. And it’s not going to be easy. Zero Carbon 2050 means zero carbon for everyone. It means that rich countries have to draw their emissions down to an almost inconceivably small level, and fast, even though economic polarization within their borders is reaching crisis proportions. And it means that poor countries have to face a future in which their emissions are never going to grow. And it means that middle-income countries like China have to drive to a more or less immediate emissions peak, and then draw their emissions down to near-zero levels. And they have to do this even though they’re still home to hundreds of millions of desperately poor people. How is all this going to happen? The truth is that we don’t know, not really, and this is the ultimate root of the despair that’s seeping into all aspects of the environmental culture. Basically, it’s hard to believe that we’re going to make it....."

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 01 Aug 2013 #permalink

Hmm, are you going to let Rob Wilson off the hook?

[This one? What of him? -W]

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 01 Aug 2013 #permalink

And let's not forget to thank Alice Bell for this flood of neatly balanced crap/non-crap from the Grauniad. Where after all would we be without STS academics to tell us how to think straight?

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 01 Aug 2013 #permalink

Berkeley Earth has new stuff out. The website headline is:

"A Measured Approach:
and a link that says
"Are you skeptical of climate change science?So are we. Learn more..."

Seems like they're moving toward the policy side.

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 01 Aug 2013 #permalink

Warren is spot on:

> However, if sceptics' never-ending audit is really damaging policy [...]

The left side of that IF sounds good enough to me.

I might be biased.

By willard (@nevaudit) (not verified) on 01 Aug 2013 #permalink

OK, now imagine Mike Mann without Steve McI.

By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 01 Aug 2013 #permalink

Eli, I'm betting Mann himself imagines himself very well without McI :]

One of the biggest smear campaigns (the so called climategate) was done on scientists who didn't advocate (CRU). So I'm not sure there's guaranteed protection against the manufactured distrust by keeping quiet.

Yes, Warren Pearce is indeed a Bozo.

The idea that advocacy is what causes "skeptics" to distrust scientists is disproved by looking at the way that they accept every conclusion from scientists whose advocacy they agree with. Pat Michaels is never chided for his "advocacy" by skeptics, nor is he ever distrusted.

I think people in blogland forget exactly how ignorant the layman is on the issue of AGW. The average American right winger essentially blames "the media" and "Agenda 21" and doesn't even know the name of a single climate scientist. I don't know why Edwards and others want to make it seem like deniers are rational actors. In bulk, they aren't.

No, a different Rob Wilson, the one who write this tripe.

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 03 Aug 2013 #permalink

Dr Warren Pearce does seem to have stirred things up (I don't tyhink he was expecting all this attention), perhaps his biggest sin was giving Ben PIle this article at Making Science Public.…

though Prof Mike Hulmes comment on the article, might have stirred things up the most.…

Just curious though, specifically if you please, what actions/thoughts exactly makes Warren a 'bozo

[WP is a bozo for any number of reasons (BTW, I didn't choose "bozo" terribly carefully - I didn't really think he was worth the accolade of a carefully chosen insult). Amongst his many sins, well: taking Ben Pile seriously; google should lead you to this. However, on his own, what? Well, anyone writing a piece that can be headlined "Are climate sceptics the real champions of the scientific method?"; he uses "sceptics" without pointing out that the label is a misnomer; he sees them as a homogenous group about whom it makes sense to make generic statements; he says they see themselves as upholding the standards of what they'd call "real science" (I mean, how mind bogglingly dumb is that? What else are they going to say "oh yeah, we'll come clean guv, we're a disparate group united only by our denial of the IPCC position"?); he writes "Many climate sceptics worry climate science cannot be dubbed scientific as it is not falsifiable" - and I've hardly got anywhere in his article yet. The entire thing is utter drivel -W]

By Barry Woods (not verified) on 03 Aug 2013 #permalink

Barry, what to me makes Warren Pearce a bozo is his apparent argument that because Anthony Watts isn't as extreme as the sky dragons, he's a genuine skeptic. Perhaps to make amends, Watts gave one of the sky dragons, Tim Ball, a forum on the same day Pearce's article appeared...

"The entire thing is utter drivel"

It reads to me as written by someone who's fallen for the concern trolling hook, line, sinker, rod and copy of the Angling Times. I find it mildly surprising that there's a few who still do - but then I have been reminded that some have come into this post the CRU email hack.

It doesn't bode well if every new generation of climate scientist has to re-learn the lessons about the septics when they add "climate scientist" to their blog or twitter account's profile.

Just found a beautiful example of hypocrisy by climate ostriches.

Lennart Bengtsson has a guest post at the Klimazwiebel, where he claims that the climate models can only model the recent past well if they assume unrealistic amounts of aerosols. Otherwise, the temperature trend is too high. This part I would take seriously, Bengtsson is a highly respected and experienced modeller.

Then Bengtsson continues with all the talking points of the climate ostriches about politics, that renewable energy is too small and too variable to be useful, that a carbon tax does not work, and (almost?) suggests that we should wait another century and hope that a solution will pop up from nowhere.

Do the climate ostriches complain about a climatologist giving policy advice? No they are loving it. Hypocrites!

By Victor Venema (not verified) on 06 Aug 2013 #permalink

The Pearce piece is a radical fail on every level, by someone who has absolutely no understanding of science -- especially climate science -- or the scientific method, and repeatedly provides citations in support of positions that they undermine. He actually thinks (…) that Velikovsky is a "notoriously hard" science boundary case ... no wonder that he seriously entertains the nutball denialist assertion that "climate science cannot be dubbed scientific as it is not falsifiable" -- as part of an argument that they can't be written off as anti-science or conspiracy theorists! (And he audaciously linked the latter phrase to a piece by Lewandowsky et. al. in response to the conspiracy-mongering critics of their study that showed a correlation between AGW denial and conspiracy ideation.)

Pearce's editor, Alice Bell, tweets that she's "Surprised by number of people who thought this piece was nice to climate sceptics. I thought quite the opposite" -- and in response, a number of "sceptics" say they agree, that they welcomed the article, and how thankful they are for a "balanced" Guardian article! Gee, how could they possibly think that, with such content as

"how can criticisms of sceptics as politically motivated be squared with science's commitment to findings always being provisional and open to challenge? "

Alice Bell's cluelessness shares a good deal of the blame for this awful piece.

By Marcel Kincaid (not verified) on 06 Aug 2013 #permalink

I realize your cup floweth over here, William, but not even a teensy word of approbation for Other Rob Wilson?

[Ah, yes, this one:

Do many environmentalists hold anti-scientific positions? This idea, put forward by environmental journalist Fred Pearce and others, may have received some pushback (eg Anne Chapman earlier in this series) but for me, it is merely a statement of the obvious.

I think it *is* simply a statement of the obvious. [Added a little later: depending of course on how you interpret "many", and which fraction of "env" you're thinking about. If you're thinking of joe-public-with-env-leanings as "env" set, and "many" as "more than 50%" then I think it would be defensible, rather than "obvious". I'd have preferred "some" to "many" though]. In fact I'm fairly close to writing a blog post on this subject. I can do you a sneak preview here if you like: I think being "science" or "anti-science" is only rather weakly correlated with being "env" or "anti env" (obviously, no-one actually admits to being anti-sci or anti-env, so this is always other peoples categorisation). KK is the most obvious example of someone pushing this viewpoint: many "env" folk are very strongly anti-gmo, anti-nuke and anti-fracking; these aren't sci-based positions.

The AC "pushback" link is interesting. It basically says "yeah, we Greens believe in science, errm, except when it tells us something we don't want to know, at which point we'll happily substitute our own analysis based on gut feel". Which is exactly what the more coherent Watties will tell you about GW -W]

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 08 Aug 2013 #permalink

William, in what way are people who are anti-fracking "anti-science"?

Maybe they are, I usually ignore the topic, but since it may come up on the climate blogs I frequent in the near future I am genuinely interested to know what argumentation they are using that contradicts scientific findings. I know the anti-GMO and anti-nuke faux-argumentation, so no need to discuss that.

[It is so hard to write this down in a few words! OK, obviously not everyone who is anti-fracking is anti-sci. But it is certainly true that a lot of the anti-fracking crowd are anti-sci: in the sense that their opposition to fracking is not based on knowledge, but on FUD -W]

Fair enough. I had hoped there were some good examples of specific science-bashing (and at the same time accepting some science when it happens to support their position - usually with that science published in fringe journals).