Doug McNeall of the UK Met Office wrote an interesting sequence of tweets this morning starting from the perceived threat from Trump, then moving on to the strength of the climate sceptic position and how climate scientists should respond.
You can see the sequence of 20 tweets here as a storify. Below is the content of each tweet interspersed with a few comments from me and a few tweets from others. I have textified all the tweets so the whole thing doesn’t take up too much space.
1 So, they’re coming for the climate scientists.
Hmm, this refers to an OTT tweet from climate activist Brian Kahn describing an OTT article by Pat Michaels as ‘Orwellian’. What I would describe as Orwellian would be the way in which Roger Pielke and Judith Curry have been treated. What seems to have ‘triggered’ Doug and many others is Trump’s appointment of Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA.
2 This isn’t a surprise, and it’s started already. Here’s what we do about it.
It’s not clear to me exactly what has ‘started already’.
3 Understand the tactics. Climate skeptics have a great narrative. “Look at those evil, conspiring adjusting, greedy, greenie leftie idiots”
Well, a bit of an exaggeration and generalisation of the CliScep narrative, but OK, it’s a tweet. But Doug is right, climate scientists do need to understand the tactics of climate sceptics and the thinking behind it.
Bishop Hill: @dougmcneall You’re on a hiding to nothing until: 1. CS deals with bad apples in the profession 2, CS stops running dissenters out of town.
4 Climate science needs a better narrative than “we’re screwed”.
Again, Doug is right. It’s amazing how many people think that repeatedly claiming the end of the world is nigh is a good tactic.
5 Climate skeptics make people feel smart, informed and discoverers of truth. We need to do that more.
6 Climate skeptics co-opt well known scientists. Galileo as a dissenter. That Feynman about bending over backwards to find the truth …
7 … They’ve nicked our best stuff!
Barry: 7) – the best stuff – is for everyone.. if everyone used it, no problems
8 Scientists have a strong culture: organised skepticism. Dissent and open discussion. Reliance on evidence. Transparency …
Matt Hall: IMO, by failing to understand our own humanity (bias, uncertainty, fallibility, etc) we open the door to hubris, which ppl see.
9 … Independent thinking. We should shout about these things. We should show the *people*, and the methods, and the stories.
Again, I agree with most of this. But the problem is, we see very little dissent, open discussion, or transparency among climate scientists. There is too much sticking to a party line and ‘circling the wagons’. For example, if it wasn’t for the climategate incident, we would probably never know that other climate scientists think of Mann’s work as crap.
Plazaeme: I’d say you already “shout” these things. “Showing” them is a different operation. You have to “do” them if you want to show it.
10 Explaining complex science well is necessary, but not a panacea. We can’t expect to just point at data.
11 Correcting obvious nonsense is OK, but I don’t think we should obsess over correcting every horribly wrongly written climate article …
12 … It repeats and can cement the skeptics’ message.
13 We shouldn’t be focusing on slagging off individuals either, it just hardens people’s group identity and feelings of rejection.
This suggests he is saying that attacks on individual sceptics are unwise. Though it’s worth noting that many of the people most regularly and viciously attacked (Rose, Ridley, Curry) tend to be lukewarmers.
David Rose: Nor attacking people (ie me) for what they didn’t actually write.
14 We need to be out ahead of the skeptic messaging. We can predict what they say. We knew they would hype global cooling after a big ENSO.
Yes. I’ve often been struck by the inability of the ‘warmist’ side to think one step ahead, making things easy for the sceptical side.
Jaime: “Hype global cooling” = criticise warmist hype of short term El Nino warming by pointing out short term global cooling – according to Doug.
GWPF: so why hype ENSO warming spike if you know that the hype will be found out post El Nino?
15 We know they’ll come for code, emails, communications, tweets [hello! *waves*].
16 We need to be better at explaining what climate models are and why they are useful.
17 We need *personal* narratives of how and why science works. Why the things we find out are useful for everyone.
Hmm, I’m not convinced by the “personal narrative” idea.
18 I know it sounds corny but we need visible science heroes that are seen to fight hard for the scientific process, truth and integrity.
Steve McIntyre: @dougmcneall so where were you when various climate scientists refused data? did you speak out?
19 In that context I think it can be useful to demonstrate that science, while politically relevant, isn’t party political.
How could that be demonstrated? Unfortunately, academia, science, and particularly climate science, is party political and biased. You only have to look at the tweets of climate scientists around election times to see that. Or just look at how the whole climate story fits so amazingly well with left-wing views – industry bad, capitalism bad, The West bad, world government and regulation good, turn a blind eye to China, poor countries suffer, we have to give them money… a point that has been acknowledged by Mike Hulme.
Barry: 19) some scientist are very vocal, and very VERY political. They tar all scientists with their behavior.
20 These are not the only things we need to do, and others will have good ideas. Better ideas. For now, I’m done. What you got?
Victor Venema: I am open for advice how to better communicate science, but would need more concrete ideas to see if it is new and could work.
Brandon Shollenberger: The sad reality is the global warming movement has promoted junk work at the highest level and never sought to correct that.