In many ways, the climate debate has hardly changed since I got interested in it about ten years ago. Public opinion wobbles up and down with hardly any real change. The same tired arguments and claims come round again: every climate conference is the last chance to save the planet; the Arctic ice is always about to vanish in one or two years, or ten years; climate scientists continue to be accused of selecting data sets to create hockeysticks and manipulating data; and teams of climate scientists keep producing reports saying almost exactly the same thing as the previous reports, which then get misrepresented and hyped by the media.

So when something does appear to change it’s worth taking note of. I have a feeling that a split may be developing on the ‘warmist’ side, between what we might call the ‘extremists’ and the ‘moderates’. Here are three recent examples of this.


Some social scientists believe that telling people that there’s a consensus on climate change acts as a ‘gateway belief‘ leading to public action, even though their own data does not really support this claim.  Others have questioned this, saying that consensus messaging is an unhelpful distraction, see Geoff’s recent post and also this paper that says that other factors such as scientific integrity are more important.

Uninhabitable Earth?

One of the most ridiculous recent alarmist articles was The Uninhabitable Earth, by a journalist for New Yorker magazine, full of doom, terror, alarm, starvation and plagues. Because of this, it got a lot of attention, which presumably was the intention, and it even has its own wikipedia page. While David Roberts at Vox said that trying to scare people in this way was fine, many mainstream climate scientists criticised the article. A team at Climate Feedback (usually used to attack sceptical articles in the media) said that its scientific credibility was low and it exaggerated the risks. New Scientist said that such doomsday scenarios were unlikely to happen, and even Michael Mann thought that the article overstated the evidence.

Gore’s sequel?

Al Gore has a new film out, called “An Inconvenient Sequel”. He’s currently in the UK promoting it, which started the recent Lawson kerfuffle.  Apparently his film has been an inconvenient flop at the box office.  It’s no surprise that Bjorn Lomborg in the Wall Street Journal says that the film misses a few inconvenient facts. But what is more inconvenient for Mr Gore is that the Guardian doesn’t like it either, describing it as “desultory and surprisingly vainglorious” and awarding it only two stars. Apparently it is “more a portrait of Gore than a call to arms”.

The left-leaning New Republic writes of The Troubling Return of Al Gore, saying “But not everyone on the left is celebrating Gore’s reemergence—and for reasons that sometimes contradict each other. Some worry he’s too polarizing a figure, and therefore could paralyze progress on climate change.” They also have a paragraph supporting the main hypothesis of this post: “This skepticism about Gore reveals a lot about the climate movement, which has fractured significantly since An Inconvenient Truth. Whereas a decade ago there was a relatively united focus on spreading awareness about climate change, today there is no clear consensus on how to fight it.”

Psychologist and climate activist Adam Corner isn’t impressed either, saying that Al Gore’s Inconvenient Sequel could just make climate rift worse. He says the film preaches to the converted and focuses too much on Gore himself, asking “wouldn’t a smarter choice, in terms of reaching beyond the usual suspects, have been for Gore to remove himself from the picture, dial down the Republican-baiting, and instead provide a platform for new, less politically divisive voices?” And here’s another review from a believer, describing the film as “just middling”.

It’s quite hard to find a positive review of the film. The Boston Globe is reasonably positive, saying that it has a number of memorable moments, but only gives it three stars.

Any other examples of a split developing in the narrative? Or counter-examples? Comments welcome.



  1. The problem is that the core belief of a climate crisis caused by human CO2 is not directly challenged by basically anyone in the public opinion leadership role.
    The primary delusional claptrap of the “consensus” is seemingly immune to serious critical challenge, much less the deconstruction it desperately deserves.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. There are several indicia on further ‘splits’ within the warmunist camp. Three examples.
    1. The number of recent pause ‘explanation’ papers compared to pausebusters (Karl 2015, Mears RSS revision 2017). It is hard to argue with the actual data, so the extremists changed the data. That garnered whistleblowers, subpoenas, and a lot of bad press.
    2. Polar bears no longer a frequent catastrophe symbol, because in reality they are thriving. Dr. Susan Crockford almost single handedly to thank for that knockout, isolating alarmists like Stirling and DeRocher.
    3. Sea level rise acceleration, still a Hanson favorite bogeyman. No longer as bruted a catastrophe amongst many warmunists, since in fact it hasn’t accelerated. Antarctica stable to gaining ice mass (NASA Zwally 2015) sort of slowed the previous flood bad tipping point papers by people like Rignot at JPL.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. The more sensible elements of the climate community must be really embarrassed by Gore’s last film. So it is worth quoting from the glossy comic book “an inconvenient truth” to assist. It is available for £0.01 + p&p.

    In the previous post on Peter Stott there was a discussion of hurricanes, so the extreme weather section might be a good place to start. On page 100-101

    There was a storm in the 1930s of a different kind: a horrible unprecedented gathering storm in continental Europe. Winston Churchill warned the people of England that this was different from everything that had ever happened before, and told them they needed to prepare for it. There were many who did not want to believe his warning and he became impatient with their dithering. And he said this:



    The quote is huge letters across a double page.

    In context, Hitler had come to power in 1933 and had already firmly established the Nazi dictatorship. Between 1936 and the formal outbreak of WW2 in September 1939, events quickly escalated. Page 102 looks at the escalating insurance costs of weather and flood catastrophes, failing to allow for inflation, or the growth in the real value of insured property. Gore misleads the unwary, who might think there is rapidly escalating damage costs of climate change.  

    Pages 103-105 is coverage of the extreme 2005 hurricane season. No year since 2005 has there been anything remotely close. The middle of last decade looks to be a random peak in activity that Gore misinterpreted as the coming of Climate Armageddon. The expression is not too strong. Pages 108-109 is a picture of floods in Lucerne, with the caption “It was almost like a nature hike through the book of Revelation”.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What’s actually happening I think is that more scientific types are realizing how difficult the problem really is. Rushes to renewables are not working out well, emissions are not going down at all, and Paris is a sham with little prospect of making any difference. So, what’s a rational alarmist to do? One could actually try to advocate something that might work, like a massive nuclear building program, switching from coal and oil to natural gas, and a Manhattan project on better energy technology. These things all are blasphemy to large parts of the Green religion. The problem here is emotional and points out that large parts of the political left are based on emotions that don’t allow effective policy or rational thinking. A prime example is how many felt that electing a black President would usher in a post-racial society. In reality, race relations got a lot worse in large part due to divisive policies and rhetoric. You are seeing the more moderate and rational liberals separating from the irrational and emotional politically correct mainstream of the left.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. RISTVAN 13 Aug 17 at 5:29 pm stated

    3. Sea level rise acceleration, still a Hanson favorite bogeyman. No longer as bruted a catastrophe amongst many warmunists, since in fact it hasn’t accelerated. Antarctica stable to gaining ice mass (NASA Zwally 2015) sort of slowed the previous flood bad tipping point papers by people like Rignot at JPL.

    I had a look the Rignot et 2011 paper a few years ago.  The main conclusion was

    In 2006, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets experienced a combined mass loss of 475 ± 158 Gt/yr, equivalent to 1.3 ± 0.4 mm/yr sea level rise. Notably, the acceleration in ice sheet loss over the last 18 years was 21.9 ± 1 Gt/yr2 for Greenland and 14.5 ± 2 Gt/yr2 for Antarctica, for a combined total of 36.3 ± 2 Gt/yr2. This acceleration is 3 times larger than for mountain glaciers and ice caps (12 ± 6 Gt/yr2). If this trend continues, ice sheets will be the dominant contributor to sea level rise in the 21st century.

    This acceleration of polar ice sheet loss was equivalent to an acceleration in the rate of sea level rise of 0.1mm/yr2. Yet this acceleration had not shown up in the University of Colorado Sea Level rise data. I examined this further. First I extracted the sea level rise data, and looked at the 12 month annual change, smoothing it a bit.

    then took the Rignot et al graph of ice sheet mean balance estimate, and flipped it over. then I compared the two graphs. They were very similar, with a 20 to 36 month lag between the ice melt and sea level rise. The major difference was in the slope (the acceleration.

    They were very similar, with a 20 to 36 month lag between the ice melt and sea level rise. The major difference was in the slope (the acceleration) in the Rignot et al graph. That is it seems that the supposed acceleration in the rate of sea ice melt was not resulting in any acceleration in the rate of sea level rise.

    Compare Rignot et al 2011 summary to

    Mass gains of the Antarctic ice sheet exceed losses H. Jay ZWALLY et al 2015

    From the conclusion

    During the period 1992–2001, the Antarctic mass gain from snow accumulation exceeded the mass loss from ice discharge by 112 +/- 61 Gt a–1. During 2003–08, the gain exceeded the loss by a similar 82  +/- 25 Gt a–1

    Rignot et al 2011 found large and accelerating ice mass loss in Antarctica, most likely due to a flaw in the modeling procedure. Zwally et al 2015 finds ice mass gain over a similar period.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The Conversation likes the idea of fixing democracy to move things along.

    Gore’s new movie is less than warmists were hoping for simply because there isn’t the new science to spice it up with. There isn’t even the science he had in the first movie. The scientists must know that they’re going to have to admit that warming is less than they expected. They know that the extreme weather thing is deeply wounded if not dead. Action on AGW is more difficult than they expected and they’ve teamed up with the side that will reject nuclear.

    I think we’re detecting a flat battery in the climate band wagon.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Tony Thomas has a hardhitting critique of an Australian review of the Gore film at

    The Conversation article linked by Tiny CO2 in the comment above

    includes an interview with Al Gore by the article’s author palaeontologist Mark Maslin and a review of the film which is less than enthusiastic:

    [Gore] .. suggests in the film that educating both politicians and the electorate on the damages of climate change will make a significant difference. But this is the same rhetoric we here from intellectuals all the time – if the poor people were properly educated they would make the correct political decisions … An Inconvenient Sequel is the wrong movie at the wrong time.

    Here’s the author’s disclosure statement:

    Mark Maslin is a Professor at University College London, Founding Director of Rezatec Ltd, Director of The London NERC Doctoral Training Partnership and a member of Cheltenham Science Festival Advisory Committee. He is an unpaid member of the Sopra-Steria CSR Board. He has received funding in the past from the NERC, EPSRC, ESRC, Royal Society, DIFD, DECC, BIS, FCO, Innovate UK, Carbon Trust, UK Space Agency, European Space Agency, Leverhulme Trust, WWF, JLT Re, Channel 4, RICS, British Council, and CAFOD. Prof. Maslin’s third edition of his book ‘Climate Change: A Very Short Introduction’ is published by Oxford University Press and is out now.

    Rezatec sells satellite observation systems to people who are worried about the effects of climate change. If people vote in politicians who are not worried about climate change, Rezatec and founding director Professor Maslin lose money. Clearly there’s something wrong with our democratic system. Hence the article.


  8. From the interview at the Conversation.

    “He sees social media as the great leveller as campaigns can be run on much smaller budgets reducing the power of party donors. He also suggests in the film that educating both politicians and the electorate on the damages of climate change will make a significant difference. But this is the same rhetoric we here from intellectuals all the time – if the poor people were properly educated they would make the correct political decisions.”

    Al Gore has had the same idea that Corbyn and Trump used so successfully – that it’s possible to go directly to a targeted audience via social media. Al and Corbyn look to the young for their new, enthusiastic audience. In other words, those too naive to spot a charlatan when they see one. Two problems with that as a policy – people grow up and action on AGW requires near 100% compliance. It’s all very well supporting an idea in theory but very different when the bills start rolling in or you have to give up something.

    Gore and Maslin are still using the lame excuses that big business (ie oil) are making our decisions for us.

    “Well, big money has hacked our democracy even before Putin did. And it accompanied the transition from the printing press to television, when all of a sudden candidates – especially in the US – were made to feel they have to spend all their time begging rich people and special interests for money so they can buy more TV ads and their opponents.

    And that’s really given an enormous unhealthy and toxic degree of influence to lobbyists and special interests.”

    Which is a laughable lack of self awareness. I whole heartedly agree with the second paragraph but I have charities and NGOs in mind. Clear the lot out. I’m all in favour. The warmist side has been flogging Al’s ideas on any platform including the internet for more than the 10 years Paul mentions at the top. De youf have been green brain washed since primary school but are the most energy gluttonous generation there has ever been. It’s like looking on the dark web for people to fight the 7 deadly sins. And even if every single young adult agrees with Al, that leaves a lot of people still on the other side.

    If I was looking for a group of people to get something momentous done, I’d look for them in the same places you’d find most sceptics. Conscientious, thoughtful, non excitable people with imaginations and skills. They’re harder to persuade but are the bedrock of most successful endeavours.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Maslin:

    “Had this film been released a year ago, its optimistic tone would not have seemed out of place. It is almost as if the filmmakers had assumed there would be a different election result. The film has been hastily edited to include Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. The end of the film seems out of kilter with the optimistic tone of the rest of the film, which occasionally borders on triumphant.”

    Haha. If that’s not the very essence of ‘the wheel’s come off the Al Gore bandwagon and rolled over the edge of the cliff’ I don’t know what is! Too funny.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pretty motley crop of comments so far on that Conversation article. I’ve added my own, which will either be deleted I’m guessing or invite howls of indignation from the Convo denizens.


  11. My parting comment on my article about censoring Lord Lawson mentioned that I was sceptical about the split in the warmist ranks. I should explain why.

    The disagreement seems to me to be more about the efficacity of Gore’s film in saving souls than about whether we’re facing Armageddon or a simple mess that will cost trillions to clear up. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a deep green maniac fearing instant heat death of the planet or a serious scientist who ask no more than to direct the way the world should be run in the interest of keeping things simmering at a bearable +1.5°C, you can like or hate the film according to whether you think it furthers your aims, and either “side” can find itself for or against.

    The same is true of all the “cultural” efforts to motivate us to save the planet, from the prize artwork consisting of a mock tombstone of Christopher Monckton and other Deniers covered in oil, to Rapley’s rap and Emmott’s emmotticon at the Euro-subsidised Royal Court Theatre. They are all artistic disasters which lack the skill and popular appeal of the meanest Maoist propaganda poster.

    The idea of a split is appealing, since it suggests a movement weakened by divisions. But if you look at the history of religion (and Christianity and Islam are the only major ones for which we have decent information) you see it surviving splits and even bloody conflicts without losing an ounce of its appeal.

    The real split is perhaps between the USA and Europe. The Trump administration could institute a proper audit of government-funded science and provoke a cultural revolution, or it could simply sack a lot of people and replace them by friends in the fossil fuel industry, in which case a leaner, meaner, greener Democratic Party will be back with a vengeance in four years’ time. The situation is weirder and less clear in Europe, since voters show no interest in warmism, yet all the Left parties are falling over themselves to propose madder and madder green policies, despite the fact that Ecology Parties are utterly impotent (except the unbalanced but interesting Five Star Movement in Italy.)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Bjorn Lomborg is not a skeptic.
    He has just created another gravy train he hopes will leave the station.
    If his plan works he will make a lot of money before it crashes just like Al Gore’s is about to.

    One day, soon I hope, the only trains left will be ghost trains.


  13. there has always been a split in the press about the science. not much split in the science unless you focus on oddballs like wadhams.ipcc reports take care of the oddballs. read those.

    thats why you should not get your science from the press, or movies, or blogs.or twitter.
    and for chrissake avoid the tripe in most social sciences even if they do say crap you like.


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