What We Could Have Said At a March For Science

We should have been there–you skeptics and we lukewarmers both. We shouldn’t let those on the other side of the political fence claim science for their own.

Getting there might have been half the fun–we might have been dragged off of airplanes or at least hit in the head with a baby stroller. And certainly there would have been spirited discussions with those who think we’re crazy or funded by big oil.

But we should have been there. We have something to say about science and we should have marched for it.

We should have said that we long for the day when climate science returns to the methods and best practice that characterizes other branches of science.

We should have said that we actually agree with the consensus of scientists–that we too believe CO2 warms the atmosphere and that humans are contributing to the current warming–and then added that those are not the important questions being fought over.

We should have pointed out that eminent, respected, well-published scientists would have marched with us had they marched at all–names sniggered at by buffoons like Eli Rabett, like Freeman Dyson, Richard Lindzen, Nobel Laureate Ivar Giaevar, Judith Curry, John Christy and many others–that we could measure their pedigrees against the leading lights of alarmism without hesitation.

We should have been there.

We should have had signs that quoted the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, although they might have been wordy enough to necessitate banners instead of signs, with small type at that. It would have been difficult to organize chants for this: ” The climate system is a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible” But we could have tried.

We could have worn t-shirts with appropriate slogans for hero and villain. Free the Data! Free the Code! Down with Piltdown Mann!

My favorite would have been ‘Anthropogenic Climate Change is real! Anthropomorphic Climate Change is a delusion.’

The consequences of not participating is a further marginalization of our respective efforts to rein in the policies of those who have run so far ahead of the science that they are out of sight as well as out of (their own) mind.

As Peter Fonda said to Dennis Hopper (not William Happer), ‘We blew it.’

Hope we get another chance at it.

102 thoughts on “What We Could Have Said At a March For Science

  1. I went.. to the London one.. so did another contributor here… Good fun. Tourist enjoyed taking pictures. London went on regardless around us..Thousands of tourists in the area. Some silly banners. And utterly pointless. The armenian protest march about Turkish commited genocide was right behind it.. 3000 people tops. Students,Wannabees and usual suspects. And a few Lib Dems trying to latch onto to it

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  2. UK one was surprisingly light on climate change.. Brexit. EU was main issue.

    We will see if Ben Pile is right. Was climate change only an issue while there was nothing serious to talk about — a way to fire up the “right” minded people when political parties were insufficiently different to otherwise differentiate them?

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  3. You may be right Thomas, but participating in the way you suggest might have physical dangers as well as require a lot of effort. My niece participated with the same group of people who did the women’s march. She is young and has never earned a paycheck. She believes that science tells us truths but is not a scientist. Certainly showing up with a make American great again hat would be risking injury.

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  4. The shameless left have co-opted science as a supposed force for social good and have re-branded scientists as ‘white knight’ crusaders in search of ‘immutable truths’ which can be used for the betterment of society and the general well-being of the planet. Many scientists, it has to be said, are very happy conforming to this fake interpretation of their role.

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  5. Jaime. Damn right we are crusaders after truth, but much of the accompanying baggage could/should be surgically excised (with extreme prejudice).

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  6. Skeptics by definition don’t support mobocrats. That march was nothing about science and everything about mob rule and demands for more money, more power and silencing those the mob disapproves of. Bill Nye becoming the leader of this mob shows that there is nothing about science and everything about suppression and oppression at its heart.

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  7. …..that said, Tom’s essay raises important points that should be discussed much more widely.
    Tom, do you see a link between the march and President Eisenhower’s farewell address warning about cliques of science elites?

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  8. Alan,

    “Damn right we are crusaders after truth”

    In my experience, science and scientists concern themselves primarily with a never ending quest for approximations to ‘the truth’, approximations which work, consistently, and are often (but not always) very useful and generate functional results. I don’t see much room for ‘crusades’ and religious-like Grail quests for ultimate knowledge in science, barring perhaps the guys and girls at CERN who might like to consider themselves as engaged in such a Quest for Ultimate Truth, the Theory of Everything, the Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything, and so on – but as we know, Douglas Adam has already revealed this to be “42”. The rest of science is (or should be) engaged in exposing working snapshots of individual parts of the machine.

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  9. Hiya Hunter, well, maybe–I haven’t seem much of what was put forward at the march. If it was in support of the usual suspects–STEM, more funding for basic research, etc.–then I think it actually is in support of the science/industrial complex Eisenhower warned against.

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  10. Jaime. Given the amount of bad practice in some branches of science, those of us who believe in good practice sometimes feel as if they must act as crusaders in a heathen land.

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  11. Just to expand on my previous content, these worth causes being supported in the name of science serve as a proxy for science itself. None of them are bad in and of themselves–who could be against an emphasis on STEM? But supporting STEM and a generic ‘increase in funding’ is not supporting science…

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  12. Came across this essay via Instapundit: http://thefederalist.com/2017/04/21/the-march-for-science-shows-how-carl-sagan-ruined-science/

    Sample: ‘The “March for Science” is an attempt to equate the Left’s political goals with Science Itself, claiming the intellectual and moral authority of science for the Left’s agenda.

    You can see why they would want to do that. The Left’s latest worker’s paradise—this time in Venezuela—is finishing up the usual devolution into mass poverty, starvation, dictatorship, chaos, and gang warfare. Given this ongoing track record of destruction, the Left has to seize on the illusion of moral authority however it can.’

    A short essay, but lots of good stuff in it. I do agree that the March for Science is just part of an ongoing politicisation of science. A kind of coming-out for it if you will.

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  13. The best defence for marchers for science is very British – it’s a tut and an eyeroll. It’s says ‘you’re so pointless it’s not even worth mounting a comment with real letters. If one wanted to go further a small huff could start the outburst.

    The march for science was nothing of the sort. It was like every other march, full of every dumb protest group going. It featured the usual crusading luvvies. Marches shouldn’t be measured by how many who attend but how many notice them. How many would know what was said at the end? How many have even heard of Earth Day, let alone that it falls on thr 22nd of April?

    I’d respect them if they’d march to say that science will not just survive Brexit but flourish because of a new relevance. Less science by grant and more science by usefulness.

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  14. nice idea Tom, but we/or anybody fitting the MSM idea of not supporting ‘Science’ would have been pointed out as a small crowd of cranks/nutters.

    As a not so smart but interested layman the meaning of the title of ‘scientist’ has always been vague to me (never met/had a pint with one), so from the net – http://www.wikihow.com/Become-a-Scientist

    2 off the pointers stood out for me –

    1. Be curious. Scientists choose to become scientists because they are fundamentally curious about the world around them and how the things in it work. This curiosity leads them to investigate the how and why behind what they see, even if the investigation takes years to come to fruition. •Coupled with curiosity is an ability to reject preconceived notions and be open to new ideas. Frequently, an early hypothesis is not borne out by the evidence of later observations and experiments and must be modified or discarded.

    2. Be patient in climbing the career ladder. As briefly discussed above, becoming a scientist takes a long time. There are very few careers that take longer than this one. Even when you’re doing with your education, you still have to get research under your belt. If you’re an instant-gratification type of person, this may not be the gig for you. •Some jobs only require a bachelor’s and sometimes a master’s. If you’re not in a place where you can spend a decade not making money, this could be a viable alternative.

    a bit crappy/simplistic/not makes sense & aimed at the young I would suggest/guess, but is that what a ‘scientist’ is these days ?

    ps – out of curiousity I looked for what I regard myself as – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technician
    i’ll stick with the title ‘Technician’

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  15. Yes Alan, science is under attack by those same people who tell us ‘science is under attack’. The very foundations of the scientific method are being seriously undermined and those who value that method must fight hard to protect its integrity. But I do wonder, when the poster boy of the Left’s campaign against the Right’s putative “anti-science movement” comes up with stuff like this in defence of the ’cause’ of science and facts, whether the Left’s campaign to ‘own’ science is now in full self-destruct mode?

    http://www.dailywire.com/news/15674/watch-bill-nye-destroys-whats-left-his-credibility-amanda-prestigiacomo

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  16. Jaime I am one of those proverbial hen’s teeth, someone with leftish leanings who is a climate sceptic (I do know that we could create a partial set of dentures with other contributors here). I have searched long for a website that might cater to my preferences and opinions, but without success. I thought this site might be close, but not lately. The same old anti-left prejudice flourishes here on occasion. The absolute nadir came today when I ruined my morning by reading comments on WUWT about shots being fired at the Huntsville Alabama building where Christy and Spencer have offices. With no evidence whatsoever the Left is blamed, speculation about motives is rife and through literally hundreds of comments, not a single one urges caution until more facts become available. (Note I would not be a bit surprised if some leftish nutter were responsible, but nutters come in all political shades). Speculation even went so far as to suggest that the Left would blame Huntsville for firing on themselves.
    The daemonization of the Left is becoming absurd.
    With regard to science being “owned” by the Left, you have to remember that much of it is done in universities, that are universally believed to be dominated by the Left. My experience is that most “hard” scientists are pretty apolitical, whereas social “scientists” are definitely “lefties”.

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  17. WUWT audience is predominantly USA centric, as are comments.. I rarely bother read the comments, as they are meaningless in a UK perspective And ‘left’ in USA is a very different thing than ‘left’ in UK.

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  18. Alan,
    Left and Right are becoming increasingly less useful as labels I feel. I use them rather loosely as convenient terms to describe two fairly well defined cultural/political groups. The traditional Left has been all but subsumed by modern liberalism which has all the hallmarks of fascism. This is what those on the ‘right’ are ‘demonising’ (calling it out for what it is), and quite rightly so, in my opinion. There are many other labels: liberals vs. conservatives, globalists vs. nationalists, etc. which are roughly synonymous with left and right, but individuals like yourself, myself, and other commentators here, will always resist being pigeon-holed into a social grouping, some more vocally than others.

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  19. See, the problem with an organized march in favor of science is that it presupposes that there is a group that is anti-science that must be overcome. And if that group just happens to consist of people who hold different political views, whether left/right or warmist/skeptic (lukewarmers too!), then so much the better.

    From what I’ve seen, most of the messaging at the parade wasn’y ‘yay Marie Curie’, it was more ‘boo skeptics and Republicans.’ Well, a lot of the time I can get on board with the ‘boo Republican’ stuff–it’s a lot easier these days. But I don’t pretend to myself or anyone else that it has anything to do with science.

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  20. The #marchforscience was as much a march for science as the #marchforwomen was a march in support of women. Same phenomenon, more or less the same sorts of people. They just changed the label is all.

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  21. The hard Left, by which I mean serious socialists intent on detailed control of the economy, and much else besides to do with people’s lives, has had an easy time of it in terms of PR. For example, the socialist origins of German fascism are not well known, nor is the fact that Mussolini was a leading Marxist theoretician in his day. Nor are the awful death tolls in just about every continent brought about by socialists gaining power during the 20thC widely seen as being a consequence of socialists deciding the best route to their nirvana is to kill possible opposition in large numbers. All to bring about a ‘better society’ of course. And there lies the overlap with the March for Science – I bet they all want to make a ‘better society’, and what proportion of them see any opposition, or even informed criticism of them, as hostile actions from malevolent forces that need to be overcome/suppressed rather than engaged with? So, I fear that Tom with his decent, thoughtful placard of some kind might well expect to be assaulted at least verbally with abuse at such a march. The corruption of science we have seen in the climate sector may not be peculiar to it as I once naively thought it was.

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  22. I like this:

    “Mainly, these marches appeared to be a pleasant excuse for liberals to write some really bad (and, OK, some truly superb) puns, and put them on cardboard signs. There were also some nicely stated slogans that roused support for important concepts such as reason and data and many that decried the defunding of scientific research and ignorance-driven policy.

    Being “pro-science” has become a bizarre cultural phenomenon in which liberals engage in public displays of self-reckoned intelligence as a kind of performance art.

    But here’s the problem: Little of what I observed dissuades me from my baseline belief that, even among the sanctimonious elite who want to own science (and pwn anyone who questions it), most people have no idea how science actually works. The scientific method itself is already under constant attack from within the scientific community itself and is ceaselessly undermined by its so-called supporters, including during marches like those on Saturday. In the long run, such demonstrations will do little to resolve the myriad problems science faces and instead could continue to undermine our efforts to use science accurately and productively.”

    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2017/04/the_march_for_science_was_eerily_religious.html

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  23. Jaime, the line that jumped out at me was

    Let’s face it: People like science when it supports their views.

    Of course the article doesn’t dare to say it, but the climate science story fits this perfectly – industry bad, development bad, capitalism bad, the evil west has to give money to poor countries…

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  24. John, I don’t think you’ve captured the real spirit of Leftism–I know a lot of self-proclaimed Leftists are indeed that way, but then a lot of alarmists claim they’re advancing the cause of science. They’re wrong. I think you are, too.

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  25. Tinyco2 wrote, “Less science by grant and more science by usefulness.” Is that Cliscep’s way to support science – cut funding?

    Seriously, if you want to show that you support science, call out the non-science among sceptical writing and actions.

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  26. Mr. Martinez, there obviously is non-science in some of the writings of skeptics and (sigh…) even we Lukewarmers.

    I think we do a good job of pointing out the weaknesses in our own work–look at the short shrift given to Iron Sunnis and Sky Gods and Goddesses. They were quickly criticized at places like Judith Curry’s.

    If you hold up a mirror to your team’s reactions to non-science emanating from those wrapping themselves in the flag of consensus, you see very little. Michael Mann’s work is even worse than Mark Steyn’s description of it. Other than in private emails that were only revealed by Climategate, where is the criticism of Mann’s work? Where is the criticism of Peter Gleick’s ethics? Where is the criticism of the laughably amateurish efforts to anchor the mythical 97% consensus in the public mind? Where is the criticism of Rajendra Pachauri’s money grubbing, trashing of science and scientists and open advocation of (foolish) policy responses that violate the explicit mandate of the IPCC?

    There’s a lot of bad science out there with a consensus label. Until you spend a few minutes acknowledging that and speaking out against it, you will have no legitimacy harping about the sins of the skeptics (and lukewarmers), real or imagined.

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  27. Tom (4:26pm), I presume you may be referring to what is called the ‘soft Left’, whereas my comment referred to the hard version. They both share terminology, talk of injustices, and so on, but one is driven by compassion and the other by hate. The problem is the softies help their hard-hearted brethren to get into power, and then the horrors begin. The Left to Right axis may be near useless, being a poorly-defined scale, but perhaps it can distinguish between those (Right) who think those horrors are inevitable because of the ideology, and those (Left) who think they are not, and that this next time, this future time, it will all work out differently.

    Coming back to the marchers, a curious twist is that, I would say, they are very much on the side of ‘the establishment’. They sport and play as radicals of yore, truth to power, taking to the streets, and fighting the bad guys, the forces of darkness etc etc, but they are the bad guys themselves, the literal forces of darkness (Exhibit A: that related event, Earth Hour).

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  28. “look at the short shrift given to Iron Sunnis …”
    Oh really? Why does GWPF have on its advisory board someone who thinks the sun has the composition of an asteroid (Plimer), among other daft ideas?

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  29. As for sky god’s or whatever, you have your own GHE denier here (is it Will or Jan or something) who gets no criticism. And WUWT is full of nutters, even ignoring the comments, yet people here read it keenly

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  30. Hi Mr. Martinez, perhaps because they are as susceptible to error as other humans. Don’t try and pretend that the GWPF even claims to represent skeptic opinion overall. As for daft ideas, I haven’t seen you comment on the boatload of such emanating from the consensus side of the fence. As for WUWT being full of nutters, that’s the price one pays for not censoring the comments section. My point is, log in one eye, beam in other, acknowledge.

    Yup, there are nutters on our side of the fence. What about yours?

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  31. It might be flattering for random members of the public to be deemed important enough to be judged by the same criteria as paid professionals but only if the person making such a demand was themselves worthy of respect. If Len has his way, scientists will be as useful as aroma therapy practitioners. No right or wrong answers, just ones that feel right.

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  32. Let’s keep this thread about the ideas we’re discussing, not our personal foibles. (I’m vulnerable to that type of talk–this is blatant self-interest.)

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  33. I think if skeptics had shown up they would have been physically assaulted. We are dealing with mobocrats, not people worried about science. They speak like a mob, they act like a mob and their thinking is as thoughtless as a mob.

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  34. Mr. Martinez, I confess I find it annoying when we’re in the middle of a conversation and you disappear following a direct question.

    There are nutters cleverly concealed amongst we lukewarmers and skeptics. Is or is that not true of those championing the consensus? It’s a yes or no question…

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  35. Tom, do you seriously think that sceptic sites don’t ‘censor’ ? What world do you live in?

    As for nutters, they are on all sides, of course. More tomorrow, perhaps. BTW, i don’t hang on your words, so if I’m a little tardy in replying, sorry, i have other things to do too.

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  36. Nowhere have I read about any counter-marches or reports of scuffles with anti-science Luddites. With no active opposition can someone explain why marchers were engaging in a group exercise regime? Nutters are attracted to marches like moths to a flame, joining in or opposing. Apart from Huntsville (well after the event) nut-outbreaks seem to have been minimal. Perceived threats to climate change funding by the Trump Administration, might explain marches in the USA, but why march in Belgium or South Africa?

    Apparently Norwich was one of the cities where Science was to be cherished and protected. Very poorly advertised beforehand.

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  37. Tom, science needs protecting from politicians who want to end research funding, probably in the name of tax cuts for their clients or saving their clients’ interests, and from the powerful or influential who want to hold inquisitions​ against scientists, again probably on behalf of their clients. Science can protect itself against idiots, as it always has.

    Alan, i don’t suppose anyone would object to Barry’s slogan, but if people had banners attacking individuals that would be different.

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  38. Oh, and from the powerful or influential who spread misinformation, again probably on behalf of their clients.

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  39. Alan: ‘Perceived threats to climate change funding by the Trump Administration, might explain marches in the USA, but why march in Belgium or South Africa?’

    The organizers of the March for Science in the Philippines explained it thusly:

    : ‘[Trump’s] censorship of pertinent data on climate change, food security, and medical information is a huge consequence for countries like the Phillippines where scientific information or misinformation can determine life or death especially to people living in vulnerable communities that bear the brunt of the adverse effects of climate change.’

    (Medical information? What’s that all about?)

    But really they were marching for reasons that had nothing to do with Trump or, in many cases, with science. Many placards took this form:

    ‘March for National Industrialization/Nationalized Mining Industry/Regular Jobs for Workers/Free Education/Affordable Reliable and Quality Internet/Genuine Land Reform/Etc. #MarchForScience’

    Other marchers just banged on about ‘dirty corporations’.

    And, to be fair, some called for better and more widely available science and technology education.

    But mostly it was leftish opportunism/entryism of a sort often seen at climate change protests in Europe – and indeed on climate blogs.

    (In Australia, one organizer said that, for her, the March for Science was about promoting Aboriginal indigenous knowledge – pre-scientific knowledge, in other words. Magnificent opportunism! Well played, madam!)

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  40. Vinny, I realized as I typed my post that the answer you gave (quoting the Philippine’s explanation) was a potentially valid one. But is science being suppressed in the Philippines? Are they protesting about access to scientific information produced and paid for by the US Government, and thus ultimately by US citizens with their tax dollars? Does the Philippines have a god-given right to it and to protest if there is a possibility that such data might no longer be obtained? This seems to me to be somewhat of an overreach.

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  41. Len, you wrote “but if people had banners attacking individuals that would be different”. I saw plenty of banners attacking Trump and other Republicans. Can we assume that “that would be different” or are individuals like them fair game?

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  42. Trump and other Republicans​ are those who are threatening science, so of course they’re fair game.

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  43. Len, when I was still researching science, I felt threatened by individual climate “scientists” (evidence for this in the Climategate e-mails). Would they be (or were they) “fair game”?

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  44. Hmm. I’m as anti-Trump as they get, but I have to wonder about this. He’s gunning for anything related to climate change, no question–and I don’t think basic research should be cut.

    But a lot of impact studies that are based on the premise that global warming is a deadly threat are surely superfluous. I also think the EPA would benefit (as would all Americans) if they were reined in a bit on climate change and returned to focusing on air, water and ground quality.

    I guess I can be so magnanimous because I have so many other reasons to oppose Trump. But given the amount of money that has been spent studying aspects of climate change–and especially given how little these studies have produced–I can’t get worked up about this.

    Keep the satellites up. Keep the measurements going. Keep collecting data and improving data collection methods. Definitely.

    But I don’t think we need to be funding Michael Mann.

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  45. Alan, the concerns of the marchers in the Philippines seem to have been overwhelmingly domestic. Trump and the US were used as opportunistic framing for a couple of statements but from what I’ve read when you get to the nitty gritty of their science-related concerns they were lobbying Duterte, not Trump. See this, for example:

    http://www.agham.org/press-releases/globalsciencemarch-pinoy-scientists-advocates-challenge-duterte-address-prevailing

    Other organizations were involved in organizing the march, including the local chapter of 350.org. Perhaps their motives were less parochial (if that’s the right word to apply to calls for the science-and-technology-driven industrialization of an entire nation).

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  46. Tom, I imagine that there are scientific funding bodies that decide who or what research gets funded. Why not leave it up to them?

    Alan, I have no idea what threats you are referring to.

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  47. Mr. Martinez (Len?), we’ve seen a gradual accretion of authority by staunch members of the consensus at places like the NSF, etc. I’m not certain their choices are free from political stance.

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  48. Oh–sorry. I’m referring to the rock-solid 97% who believe that Ivanka Trump is the new face of American beauty and is a lock to be the 46th President of these United States. What did you think I was talking about? Get with it, William!

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  49. Not so long ago, every sceptic and his dog was saying that he was part of the consensus because it is apparently so vague. I can’t remember who claimed not to be part of the consensus, but I’d guess it would have to include iron sunners and sky gods. Now you are complaining that NSF is full of consensus members – are you saying you want some iron sunners and sky gods on there instead? Or anti-vaxers and creationists? or what?

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  50. Well, I’m not a sceptic so I guess I’m a dog–maybe Len would say I’m already barking.

    There is a real consensus on ‘global warming.’ 66% of published climate scientists believe that half or more of the current warming is due to anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. And I’m willing to sign on to that. Might surprise you how many regulars here would too.

    There is also a phony consensus–that global warming is causing current disasters, that atmospheric sensitivity is (forgive me) stratospheric and that we have enough evidence to mandate draconian controls on CO2 emissions.

    There are a lot of people who believe that second paragraph. Few of them are scientists.

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  51. As for complaining, I don’t think I did, actually. I think I wrote something like ‘I’m not certain their choices are free from political stance.’ Perhaps in your world that is violent moaning, dunno. I think we may witness some violent moaning if you stick around, as I certainly hope you do.

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  52. Tom said, “we’ve seen a gradual accretion of authority by staunch members of the consensus at places like the NSF, etc. I’m not certain their choices are free from political stance.”

    So how would you propose we select members of the NSF?

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  53. Umm. Lottery? Draw straws? Only Nobel Laureates? No Nobel Laureates allowed? How about the same way we judge capital crimes? 12 citizens… or 12 angry men, depending on which century and location we’re talking about… How about the NSF submits a list of research areas they consider of interest, ask for public comment and have Congress vote on it?

    Might be more than one way to do this.

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  54. “People’s Climate March.
    April 29th 2017
    Washington DC
    March for climate, jobs, and justice”

    “WE RESIST.
    WE BUILD.
    WE RISE.”

    https://peoplesclimate.org

    Gosh I don’t want to be without climate, a job or justice. Should I join? Or double the quantity of bandages?

    We resist. – who or what? Climate?
    We build – what? walls or jobs?
    We rise – from what? Justice?
    So many questions unanswered.

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  55. The control of science by the state reached what [one] might hope to be its apotheosis in the nightmare world of the USSR, not least under the guidance of that hideous gangster whose vanity called for renaming himself as ‘Stalin’, a sort of nom-de-guerre – the guerre being against everything decent in society and mankind in general. Like most hardened criminals, he enjoyed astonishingly high self-esteem, and his power and ruthlessness ensured high levels of sycophancy all around him. Here is a view of his interference in science:

    Joseph Stalin collected many encomiums while ruling the Soviet Union. At various times the Soviet press called him, among other things: “the Standard-bearer of Peace,” “the Great Helmsman of the Revolution,” “the Leader of the International Proletariat,” “Generalissimo,” and “the Father of Nations.” In the years following the Second World War he assumed yet another title: “the coryphaeus of science.”1 As the “leader of the chorus”—or coryphaeus—Stalin stood on the podium while Soviet scientists sang in rhythm to the commanding movements of his baton.

    Stalin tried to live up to the ideal of a man who united political power and intellectual acumen. Between the end of the Second World War and his death in 1953 he intervened in scientific debates in fields ranging from philosophy to physics.2 In late 1946, when Stalin was sixty-seven years old and exhausted from the war, he schooled the USSR’s most prominent philosopher on Hegel’s role in the history of Marxism. In 1948, while the Berlin crisis threatened an irreparable rift between the United States and the USSR, Stalin wrote memos, held meetings, and offered editorial comments in order to support attacks against Mendelian genetics. In 1949, with the first Soviet atomic bomb test only months away, Stalin called off an effort to purge Soviet physics of “bourgeois” quantum mechanics and relativity. In the first half of 1950 he negotiated a pact with the People’s Republic of China and discussed plans with Kim Il Sung about invading South Korea, while also writing a combative article on linguistics, carefully orchestrating a coup in Soviet physiology, and meeting with economists three times to discuss a textbook on political economy. In some cases he denounced whole fields of scholarship, leading to the firing and occasional arrest of their proponents. His efforts to unmask errors in science were paralleled by an equally intense drive to show how each discipline could contribute to building communism and serve as a symbolic weapon of Soviet superiority in the battle with the West along an “ideological front.”

    Why was Stalin so keen to be a scholar? His direct involvement in academic disputes reveals a side of the aging dictator that supplements what we have long known about him from the extensive memoir literature. He took ideology seriously. He was not simply a megalomaniac and reclusive old man who used scholarly debates only to settle political problems. (After all, he had much more direct ways of taking care of things he did not like.) The evidence shows he was far more concerned about ideas than was previously known. We do not have to accept the intellectual value of Stalin’s proclamations about biology, linguistics, physiology, or political economy to recognize that he consistently spent time on the details of scholarly disputes.

    [http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s8283.html]

    So, this recent public display of a longing to control, and be controlled by, science has some fairly recent historical inspiration. Here’s a chant in the modern style that you would not have heard under that regime, in a demonstration, or ‘march’ if you prefer, that you would not have seen:

    “Uncle Joe, hay hay hay! How many scientists did you kill today?”

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  56. Stalin has no relevance here. Western states may fund much science but they claim no monopoly. There’s plenty of people who have the money to fund nearly any sort of research imaginable. The possibilities are endless. But with two notable exceptions (BEST, Exxon) I know of none in climate. If government funded research is so bad, why do you think Koch’s or whoever don’t step in?

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  57. You think Koch doesn’t fund science? But why would they bother to fund climate science? It’s governments that fund research with little practical purpose.

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  58. Perhaps more to the point, why don’t those most concerned about climate fund research? There’s quite a few rich people flying hither and yon to preach about climate disaster. Perhaps some of their richly deserved riches could be employed to better ends?

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  59. Tom. “Perhaps more to the point, why don’t those most concerned about climate fund research? ”
    Well I believe CRU research was partially funded by international insurance.

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  60. We do, Tom, through our taxes. We fund lots of research into many fields, much of it doubtless having no immediate practical purpose. I imagine you’d agree with me that this is broadly a good thing as many advances come from such apparently pointless work.

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  61. Basic research is rarely pointless and you’ll note above that I’m strongly in favor of continuing it. I’m much less interested in funding studies on the inevitable extinction of the strawberry moth and the adverse effects on the Latvian ecosystem if climate sensitivity is over 4.5.

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  62. Len (2:05pm), your wish that ‘Stalin has no relevance here’ is a little on the Pollyanna side of things at best, and cynical at worst. He was adept at political violence, graduating from beating up folks on the ‘wrong side’ at their political meetings early in the 20thC, and progressing to murder and mass intimidation and huge deathrates driven by deliberate policy choices. If we keep our fingers crossed, this headline from the Chronicle of Higher Education is just referring to some silly rich kids in search of thrills and spills: http://www.chronicle.com/article/Intimidation-Is-the-New-Normal/,

    Intimidation Is the New Normal on Campus
    From now on, any speaker who arouses a protest is at risk of a beating

    Or can we expect, as some do (e.g. http://wmbriggs.com/post/21547/ ) that there are thugs like the youthful Stalin about who are looking to do that graduation mentioned earlier?

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  63. Len, we don’t need brain dead reactionaries who buy into the bullshit that Republicans are anti science. Only a fool thinks science is not in need of drastic reform. Pissing away money on fear mongering climate hype us not science. Suppressing debate between scientists about climate is not science. Pouring endless money into “studies” that are actually out to indoctrinate people into believing climate hype is not science. The only destruction of science is from greedy corrupt rent seekers who refuse to be open on expenditures of public money or refuse to debate honestly. Your did he about Stalin gives strong indications that you are a part of the problem and not the solution.

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  64. Tom, your two examples are of basic science. It seems as if you are for it except when you are against it.

    John, your reference to Stalin was with regard to state control of science. That is exactly what people like me (and i would assume many marchers) are against. At the same time, we are in favour of state funding of science. Clearly there is a need for democratic oversight of spending and there is a balance to be drawn between oversight and control. I don’t have any reason to believe that the balance has been wrong in recent years. Do you?

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  65. I have reason to believe the ‘balance’ never existed, and was never even aspired to. Bureaucrats with big budgets want to please their masters who authorised the spending. The obscene (given the opportunity costs) spending on ‘climate’ has been there to serve the cause of bigging-up the impact of CO2 on climate, reinforcing the scares that gas has generated, and encouraging the public to be docile in the face of their more affordable energy sources being shut down in favour of such lunacies as wind and wave power, or nonsense such as the converting of an excellent coal-fired power station in England to burn woodchips. Big money to be made in all these things if you are on the ball as to where and what the subsidies are and how they can be tapped. The whole thing is a disgrace to science, and to politics for that matter. There is still hope that Trump will drastically cut budgets in such bloated outfits as the EPA, and I would also like to see his admin refuse to pay a further cent to the IPCC, the mother of all advocacy organisations intent on warping government expenditures everywhere. The CO2 fiasco has been a display of individual and institutional vulnerability to manipulation which I find quite dispiriting.

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  66. Gee, Len–I think you’ve relabeled basic science. Assuming a disastrous and outlier value for atmospheric sensitivity and projecting impacts from it used to be called speculative fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

  67. Elected leaders choosing to not fund hype veneered in sciencey words is not state control of science. The Obama administration, using false claims about climate science, which they are documented having done, is state control of science. Demanding integrity and accountability from those receiving public money for science is not state control of science. People forming mobs to demand endless public money with no accountability, which is what the marchers are supporting, is not democratic, is not scientific, and is just another lying special interest group.

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  68. The definition of basic science used to be simple – investigations conducted without the prospect of being useful, the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. (Of course much basic science ultimately proves to be useful.) Applied science, in contrast, is directed science, done with the express purpose of being of monetary or social value. Most publicly funded science in the UK is directed science. Stakeholders must be identified and commonly outcomes need to be predicted. Those practicing basic science have to distort their proposals or provide add-ons to make them appear useful (so explaining Tom’s example of the inevitable extinction of the strawberry moth – linked to man made climate change). Alternatively basic science is conducted under the guise of training new scientists (but even that is increasingly controlled by the need for relevancy). In my later years at UEA I did much of my research in conjunction with supervising undergraduate research projects. There was no other way of getting them funded.
    Should we regret the passing of long-term basic research (would Lack’s work on the behaviour of the European Robin be funded today?). I happen to think so. The freedom to pursue knowledge for its own sake, the ability of a researcher to engage in “blue sky” thinking is something to be treasured and nutured in my book, although I know many who disagree.

    I wonder how many studies gaining Ignoble awards are ultimately useful?

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  69. Tom, maybe.

    John, unless you are from the USA or you live there, I don’t see why you would have such strong feelings about the EPA. It constitutes​ $8bn of $3.5tn federal government expenditure and is so ‘bloated’ that it is the smallest of all the discretionary​ spending by agency or department. Is 300 staff per state really bloated? How many people do you think would be reasonable to enforce clean air and water regulations and other environmental​ regs?

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  70. Well, Len, it is even better than you say. The number of EPA employees per square mile is so small it would take many thousands of Martians landing at random to have much chance of encountering one.

    But wait, it might be even worse! I do recall one CO2 Alarm victim once solemnly telling me that cyanide is fatal to humans at far lower doses than the 380ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere at the time and so we have to be really really concerned about the climate. I imagine you would be impressed by that sort of reasoning.

    But did you know that there were fewer than 20ppm EPA employees in the US population in 1970, but by 2016 that had risen to 47ppm? Well, that’s quite scary, but it gets worse. The CDC tell us that the Immediately Dangerous to Health Level for inhaled hydrogen cyanide is only 50ppm. We cannot be complacent in the face of such numbers. Cut back the EPA now before it destroys life as we know it. Already hundreds of thousands of US jobs could have been lost thanks to EPA actions penetrating the economy, while at the same time jobs have been created that are just burdens on the taxpayer in areas such as electric cars, solar power, and so on. How close we are to a tipping-point is anybody’s guess.

    Liked by 1 person

  71. Tesla and solar panels a burden on the economy – that’s funny.

    “I do recall one CO2 Alarm victim once solemnly telling me that cyanide is fatal to humans at far lower doses than the 380ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere…”
    He was probably patiently​ explaining​ that your suggestion that CO2 is just a trace gas and therefore could not be a problem was ilinformed. That was a sceptic meme not so long ago; maybe it still is.

    But your “hundreds of thousands of US jobs” is fictional, hence your use of “could have been lost”; you have no evidence to support that”.

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  72. Len is the compleat eco-reactionary. He can at once accept the climate apocalypse claptrap and ignore the long litany of failed climate doom predictions, while dismissing the well measured real hurt caused by EPA nonsense dressed up as science. And to top it off he thinks that a billionaire whose fortune consists of selling things only bought due to direct government subsidy is an economic positive. Yet he is apparently literate! Wonder a never cease.

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  73. Gently, Hunter. I largely agree with you about the tunnel vision exhibited by many in the consensus camp, including Len, but I think it’s a natural phenomenon that doesn’t reflect on intellect or rationality.

    They’re just on the other side of the fence.

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  74. Hunter, Tom, if John cannot, can you actually identify the “hundreds of thousands of US jobs” that EPA destroys?

    “And to top it off he thinks that a billionaire whose fortune consists of selling things only bought due to direct government subsidy is an economic positive.” Last time I checked, solar panels and Tesla cars had real value, but you guys and John think they are a burden on the economy. Maybe you think every recipient of health insurance subsidies is a burden too. And that every electric car sale should deduct from GDP, and every government funded SpaceX launch presumably, and every car or computer or pencil bought by a government department. It is as if you think that only activity by the private sector untainted by government is positive for the economy. Strange for even a lefty like Tom to believe such nonsense.

    Of course there are opportunity costs​. All activities and expenditures​ have them; money or time spent on one thing cannot be spent on another. Maybe the two hundred thousand solar jobs would exist somewhere else in the economy if it were not for solar subsidies. Or maybe they wouldn’t. You certainly don’t know. Me neither.

    I’m not surprised that Tom doesn’t understand this, lefties are not renowned for getting economics. Hunter and John should perhaps learn more before they presume to pronounce such unequivocal positions​.

    Liked by 1 person

  75. Hmm. Len, as someone who worked in the solar industry and reported on it for years, I think I can safely say that your statement is just about as foolish and ignorant as… well pretty much everything you write.

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  76. Len, EPA extremism is mostly corrosive and chronic, like a slow cancer or clever tape worm: move enough to enfeeble the victim. Not enough to really hurt the victim before it is weakened too much to resist. Costly pointless studies. Current owners financially accountable for high costs of undisclosed wastes from decades prior owners. Zero tolerance of naturally occurring substances. Deceptive studies. Pre-arranged lawsuits from environ-insiders. Politically motivated selective law enforcement against groups. I understand the climate extremist reactionary denial of all of this. After all it has been a lucrative power trip. But the reality that there is no great climate catastrophe and that the vast sums of money spent on rent seeking studies, “information outreach”, failed predictions, and crazy things like industrialization of windy open spaces has been a tragic waste. All you have left is to- like any other religious fundie avoiding reality- is demonization of those who are skeptics and ignoring reality. Stick with it. It’s the only tactic left. The climate reality shows you have lost already.

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  77. Here’s an interesting thing revealing some contempt for working people in the US under Obama and the EPA. It has needed a court order form a judge this year to force the EPA to do an adequate appraisal of job losses due to their high-handed rulings about ‘carbon’:

    In January this year:

    ‘A federal judge in West Virginia has given the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) less than seven months to review whether its Obama-era policies directly led to job losses in the coal industry, according to an order issued Wednesday. ‘

    ‘[Judge] Bailey specified the first month of the Obama administration in 2009 as the starting point for the mandatory study. In addition to recording any past losses, the judge also ordered the EPA to identify any facilities that are at risk of shutting down due to increased regulation. ‘

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/judge-gives-epa-until-july-to-identify-job-losses-from-regulations/article/2006306

    In 2015, estimates that these job losses could, taking a wider view, reach nearly 300,000 were reported:

    ‘The EPA’s carbon dioxide regulation will could end up destroying nearly four times as many jobs as the agency said it would by 2030. A report by the American Action Forum found that job losses from EPA’s carbon rule could be as high as 296,000.
    AAF’s report found the EPA’s rule to fight global warming endangers the viability of more than 90 power plants across the country that produce 50 gigawatts of power. These plant closures, the EPA says, will put 80,000 people out of work by 2030. But once economy-wide impacts are taken into account, some 296,000 jobs could be lost during that time, notes AAF.’

    http://dailycaller.com/2015/04/17/study-epa-global-warming-rule-to-kill-nearly-300000-jobs/

    There’s got to be scope here for a couple of decent placard slogans that might have been carried by thoughtful people (aka, for want of snappy alternative, climate alarm sceptics) at the recent March for Science (aka, for want of a snappy alternative, Demonstration Opportunity against Trump Threatening sundry Gravy Trains).

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  78. News coming in from the so-called People’s Climate March:

    Update: 8:30 AM EST: March for Silence?! The People’s Climate March has officially rejected issuing press credentials to our producer despite us being pre-registered for media passes and meeting all requirements. March organizers informed us that we were “not a credible” news outlet and were therefore being denied media credentials which would have granted us access to speaker and VIP areas of the march. Prior to being told we were rejected, the organizers had given no indication that we were was any kind of issue. After submitting our registration for media passes, we received regular media updates throughout the week. Developing…
    Update: 9:03 AM EST: March for Conformity?! CFACT’s billboard truck was refused entry into the People’s Climate March official parking lot at RFK Stadium in DC. The truck featured two giant banners refuting man-made climate change claims. CFACT pre-registered and paid for the parking spot at the lot, but when the truck arrived at the parking lot the truck was turned away. March officials told us “why are you trying to cause trouble?” and “You can’t park here, you have to leave.” Developing…

    http://www.climatedepot.com/2017/04/29/skeptics-to-attend-peoples-climate-march-with-new-report-billboards-rejecting-premise-of-march/

    Well Tom, that’s got to be bad news. Not surprising of course, but bad.

    WUWT has pics of some stuff that was presumably deemed acceptable: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/04/29/craziest-protest-signs-from-the-peoples-climatemarch/

    Funny old world.

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  79. Tom, no, the foolish and ignorant thing is to say that Tesla and solar are a burden.

    Hunter,
    “Current owners financially accountable for high costs of undisclosed wastes from decades prior owners.”
    If you buy a business etc you buy the liabilities associated with it too. Change of ownership doesn’t make liabilities magically disappear.

    “Zero tolerance of naturally occurring substances.” I have zero tolerance of lead or arsenic in my drinking water; you should too. I’d like that enforced​ by government.

    John, the AAF used a factor of 3.7 in their report to get 296000, quoting a report by PWC. But the latter report had nothing to do with coal, instead applying to oil and gas. Nice try.

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  80. Not good enough Len. If you don’t like the 3.7, please explain why it is not reasonable to use it as an approximation for coal-fired power. That would be a helpful contribution rather than your drive-by quips .

    Perhaps a more industry-specific multiplier for coalpower would be higher than 3.7? For coal mining alone, for example, one estimate is 4.4 for the multiplier (http://www.contentfirst.com/multiplier.shtml ), and another is 3.5 (http://www.rmcmi.org/education#.WQUqN4jyvg8). The health of mining is closely linked to the existence of coal-fired power stations, wouldn’t you think?

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  81. Len, actually 0 presence of lead or arsenic is not required for health. And getting to zero has an asymptotic inverse return. Add to that hidden or unknown aged pollutants-or alleged pollutants- holding someone who is a victim of deceptive or even innocent non-disclosure is hardly a way to run am equitable justice system. But asking a fanatic to be reasonable or equitable is a losing battle I think.

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  82. John, the number seems hard to pin down, your links giving quite different figures. But anything much over 2 is going to give hundreds of thousands of related jobs, so in that way you would be correct if the clean power plan led to the closure of all mines. The latter is unlikely given that at least some coal is exported (which presumably could increase if mines are competitive internationally​ or can be subsidized enough to become so) and not all coal stations will close. On the other hand, treatment of miners’ lung diseases is likely to sustain the health industry for some years yet, so that is some good news.

    Hunter, the “Zero tolerance of naturally occurring substances.” was your invention. I just reused it. I guess it doesn’t really apply literally to whatever you were referring to either. As for the aged contamination, I don’t know what your beef is.

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  83. Tom, by the way thanks for using the proper term for the form of climate problems we are actually suffering from: Anthropomorphic. If skeptics had shown up in any numbers at all I think, given the unpunished thuggery the lefties are thriving on, that the most popular chant from skeptics would have been, “someone call an ambulance!”

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  84. Fyi Mark Steyn, possibly one of the few (so far) potential martyrs in the new leftist age of illiberalism, is begging for supporters and fans to step up and give some modest support. Whatever side one might be on in the climate dispute, none of us should idly sit by and allow a true voice of freedom to be squashed in the tawdry manner he is being attacked. I am proud to support him and urge others who care about our vital freedom if expression to support him ad well.

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