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What If We’re Wrong?

It’s perishing hot here in the south of France and I hate it. It’s maybe a degree and a half above August temperatures in recent years (I’m guessing) which is enough to make nights a misery. OK, it means I can pop out for a morning dip (the Mediterranean is only fifty yards away) without suffering the pangs of the proverbial brass monkey but still.. Should I go Vegan in order to bring the global mean temperature back to its senses? Or install air conditioning? Why should I worry about the minimal addition to my absurdly feeble carbon hoofprint implied by an air conditioning unit, given that Greta Thunberg’s decision to imitate her Viking ancestors in sailing across the Atlantic has wiped out my personal contribution to global warming at a stroke? Thanks Greta.

But on hot nights when the digestive effects of the previous day’s cargolade and the drunken shouts of nightclubbers disturb my slumber, I do sometimes wonder: What if we climate sceptics are thoroughly mistaken in our take on climate science? What if the consensus is right?

Have you ever thought about that? What if temperatures do go through the roof, and Florida and Manhattan disappear beneath the sea as predicted? Who here would be willing to sign a letter of contrition addressed to the 200 odd national scientific bodies, the 97% of climate scientists and the Guardian letters page? Hands up.

I thought not.

First let’s define what “being wrong” means. Can we all agree that the essential measure of climate change / catastrophe / collapse is climate sensitivity to a doubling of atmospheric CO2? Good. Estimated in the 1970s as somewhere between a barely noticeable and probably beneficent 1.5°C and a hellish 4.5°C, fifty years and several billions of dollars of research later, it is now estimated to be… somewhere between 1.5 and 4.5°C.

“Being wrong” would therefore mean a climate sensitivity being proved to be at the hellish end of things, somewhere between 3 and 4.5 degrees or more. “Being wrong” would mean the current global temperature (currently dipping after a 2016 el Niño high, according to the Climatic Research Unit) suddenly taking off again, but not at the stately rate of about 1.5°C per century which it has maintained since about 1980 (I’ve cherry-picked my starting date to be as favourable as possible to the opposing point of view, as any scientist would) but twice or four times as fast. That means a hockey stick – a sudden sharp elbow in the global temperature graph – occurring some time soon.

Being wrong would mean thousands of people dying every time there’s a heatwave, as they did in 2003.

Being wrong would mean English children not knowing what snow looked like.

Being wrong would mean people relying on water from standpipes being entirely the fault of greenhouse gasses, and nothing to do with the needs of water companies to keep their shareholders happy.

But this is all in the future. What about the data, the actual global temperature rise, as measured by NOAA and the World Meteorological Association? They currently estimate global temperature rise during the 20thcentury to have been 0.9°C, which is almost twice their estimate of 0.5°C twenty years ago. (At current rates of adjustment of past data, by 2039 they will be estimating that 20th century warming/heating was in fact nearly 2°C, which would imply that current temperature rise is decelerating. But all this is mere projection on my part, and as Kevin Trenberth has reminded us, projection is what climate scientists do. Better not go there.)

One degree is the kind of beneficent warming that in the twentieth century resulted in improvements in agricultural yields which lifted billions out of starvation. A catastrophic rise of three or four or six degrees per century requires temperatures to start rising right now at a rate two or four or six times faster than they have ever risen in history. If it happens, then we sceptics will have been wrong, and we must admit it. It hasn’t – so far. But just suppose…

“Being wrong’” is easy to define in terms of expectations of temperature rise, but more difficult in terms of possible consequences (Working Group 2 of the IPCC reports.)

Suppose average global temperatures rise one or two degrees in the next three decades (that’s the minimum period climate scientists require to know it’s not just weather.) That would be the clearest possible sign that we were wrong and the catastrophists were right. But what would it mean? First, almost certainly increased crop yields over a vast part of the planet, with cheaper, more abundant food. Second, even more uncomfortable temperatures in parts of the world (especially mega-cities) where summer temperatures are already pretty unbearable, mainly in Asia and Africa, where economic development proceeds at a healthy rate, and where they have been promised three trillion dollars for mitigation and adaptation under the Paris Agreement. You can buy an awful lot of air conditioning and desalination plants for three trillion dollars. Among the worst hit cities would be Baghdad and Damascus, and possibly Caracas, where apparently the electricity supply is not 100% reliable, don’t ask me why.

Now it could be that, despite all the measures of mitigation and adaptation enabled by the trillions of dollars of aid promised by rich countries of the temperate regions, millions may die or seek more temperate climes as climate refugees anyway. That’s the second way we might be wrong.

To me, and I suppose to most climate sceptics, the claims of the World Health Organisation, the British Medical Association and others about millions dying, millions more crossing the Mediterranean, and diseases and mental illness etc. spreading as a result of climate change are logically independent from, but psychologically equivalent to, similar knicker-wetting in the hard sciences. It doesn’t matter what your speciality or the nature of your data; you may be ex-NASA chief scientist James Hansen predicting the drowning of Manhattan; or ex-Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Race laying odds on the imminent extinction of the human Rees; or some underfunded PhD student worrying about the habitat loss of her favourite beetle or glacier – the psychological mechanism is the same. It’s an Expert thing.

But just suppose, once again, that we’re wrong about the facts, and climate catastrophe does in fact happen – as regularly predicted by the serious media – and Manhattan, the beetle, the glacier, and the human race do all pop their clogs.

I like to imagine us dozen clisceppers, plus our faithful fans – last survivors of a doomed species – still blogging away from our diesel generator-powered eco-resilient redoubts, pointing out that, despite appearances to the contrary, we were right all along.

Because no climate scientist ever predicted that spewing a regular x zillion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere would have no effect except a gentle benign temperature rise, indistinguishable from other previous temperature rises, for 70 years, followed by a savage threefold increase in temperature for no apparent reason starting at the very moment that the Paris Agreement persuaded the world to behave better, and suddenly causing the world order to collapse.

Because no temperature rise on earth can efface the evidence that refugees from hot countries south of the Mediterranean are not coming to Europe looking for a place in the shade, but for jobs with salaries enabling them to support their poor suffering families back home in the tropics.

Because admitting that we were wrong would be admit that the scientists were right to falsify graphs; to create hockey sticks out of thin air; to turn evidence from Finnish mud upside down to get the right answer; to use tree rings as temperature proxies when the tree ring experts said explicitly that they were not temperature proxies; to correct wonky temperature data decades after the thermometers and their proprietors had gone to their long home; to make stuff up where there was no evidence; to lie to the media claiming that they had been vindicated when they had been caught red-handed suppressing data, hiding data, losing data.

Because all the lies propagated by academia and the media about temperature rise from 1950 to 2020 and its effects cannot – logically cannot – be effaced or reversed by an acceleration of temperature rise in the future.

Because the total uselessness of windfarms, solar panels, and electric cars is not going to be changed by a rise in temperature. They don’t work. Air conditioning does.

There. I’ve convinced myself. But too late. I’m now back home in a proper house with air conditioning and no longer fifty yards away from an ever rising Mediterranean gaining on me three millimetres every year. My sleep is no longer disturbed by the shrieks of orgiastic pleasure coming from revellers on the soon to be drowned beach. I can now sleep easy knowing that, even if we sceptics are totally wrong about our optimistic projections of future temperature rise, that doesn’t make Michael Mann a scientist.

We can be 100% wrong about our predictions of future temperatures and their effects, and still 100% right about the nature of science, of truth, of reality.

Isn’t that odd?

44 thoughts on “What If We’re Wrong?

  1. I’m in the “go mostly nuclear” camp. That’s right if temperatures are indeed rising because of CO2, and not dramatically wrong if they aren’t.

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  2. Geoff, Oh you poor sod. Living with the imminent threat of drowning in a ever increasingly hot Mediterranean relentlessly lapping at your door sill. We feel for your desperate plight (well to be perfectly honest, some of us do (perhaps)). We will burn a candle for you and your desperate plight (adding to our share of virtuous CO2). Be comforted that Greta is doing her best on your and your blighted neighbours’ behalf.

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  3. Can we all agree that the essential measure of climate change / catastrophe / collapse is climate sensitivity to a doubling of atmospheric CO2?

    Er, no. Climate sensitivity is a false metric based on false assumptions about so-called ‘greenhouse gases’. No wonder they never make any headway trying to work out what it is 🤔

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  4. Geoff,

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I am actually desperate to believe but the climate clergy are just making it too difficult. I need a religion that makes more sense.

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  5. Quite right Geoff. Whatever happens to temperatures, this period, say 1970 to today, has been 50 years of hyperbole, low-grade science, shameless scaremongering and propagandising, irresponsible and incompetent journalism, abuse of the usual methods of science, and a collapse of the moral fibre of many learned societies and institutions such as the Royal Society and the BBC. In parallel, we have seen the most dramatic progress ever in the conditions and prospects of humanity thanks to the work of countless people grappling with reality as they see it. In contrast to the fantasists desperate to give CO2 an atmospheric role, an importance in atmospheric dynamics, which it has never displayed in the past. Nor for that matter in the present.

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  6. OLDBREW
    I should have phrased that differently:

    “Can we all agree, for the sake of argument, that the essential measure of climate change…”

    I was doing what all normal people do in a discussion, which is to accept provisionally some part of the opposing argument in order to provide a basis for discussion, just as I linked to the HADCRUT temperature graph as a basis for discussing rates of temperature rise, without necessarily thereby accepting its veracity.

    Most climate catastrophists don’t seem to understand this perfectly ordinary procedure. I’ve seen both Monbiot and John Cook argue that sceptics are illogical because they sometimes accept a part of the catastrophic argument and sometimes reject it. If they had their way, every discussion of climate change would have to begin with an exposition of Arrhenius.

    Why is it a false metric anyway?

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  7. Whether AGW eventually proves to be good, indifferent, bad, or indeed even betterer or worser, there is a strong culture based upon the certainty of imminent global catastrophe (absent a near-decades shut-down of fossil fuels). Cultural narratives are emergent via a process that is fundamentally incompatible with truth / reality, and if this one was right, it’d likely be the first in history. There remains a small chance that it is right by complete coincidence. However, if this was the case, the last thing you’d want in charge would be a culture, because they specifically work towards ‘solutions’ that *cannot* fix the ‘problem’; but instead amplify / prolong the cultural presence. The ideal ‘solution’ from the PoV of the culture itself (this is just a useful means of insight, of course the culture works by emotive selection and is neither sentient or agential), is massive virtue signalling that devotes endless efforts, money, and infra-structure to the benefit of the culture and yet could not really address the supposed existential problem (or even better, makes the problem worse, which allows redoubled cultural pressure). Solar / wind may have some use in certain bounded situations, but their mainstream use in replacing base-load within advanced countries, likely owes much more to this effect than to reality. The unpopularity of emissions-free nuclear inside the culture of climate catastrophe, despite it could indeed do much to fix the purported problem, is also part of this effect. The physical climate stuff is not my bag; but if catastrophe is coming, a culture in charge is absolutely the best way to avoid escaping it.

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  8. Climate scientist Lennart Bengtsson said. “The warming we have had the last 100 years is so small that if we didn’t have meteorologists and climatologists to measure it we wouldn’t have noticed it at all.”

    Ross McKitrick said: “And so we get reports with charts and graphs to tell us about the changes we didn’t notice. Remember last summer when the media hyped a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warning that warming 1.5 degrees Celsius (compared to preindustrial times) was a disaster threshold we must avoid crossing at all costs? Now we learn that Canada warmed 1.7 degrees Celsius since 1948. Far from leaving the country a smoking ruin, we got wealthier and healthier, our population soared, and life improved by almost any measure of welfare you can imagine. If only every so-called catastrophe was like this.”

    Geoff, the Climate Circus has moved on from temperature rise (remember “global warming”?). It is now focused on an “emergency”, which translates to fear of extreme weather. Not happening right now, but just let one hurricane appear and the sirens will be deafening. Of course, no one has explained how reducing CO2 will prevent extreme weather. But no matter, Greta knows what we have to do:
    https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/mckee-grok-sign-treaty.jpg?w=1024&h=682

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  9. @Ron,

    In Guardian Land “Global Warming” has moved on to “Global Heating”. An example today:

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/aug/22/global-heating-ancient-plants-set-to-reproduce-in-uk-after-60m-years

    Quote: “An exotic plant has produced male and female cones outdoors in Britain for what is believed to be the first time in 60m years. Botanists say the event is a sign of global heating….”

    Chances are, the botanists didn’t use the term “Global Heating”; it got changed to that by the Guardian Newspeak editor.

    In the printed edition, the same article had a more sedate title: “Plant blooms in UK for the first time in 60m years”, but in the online edition it’s “Global heating: ancient plants set to reproduce in UK after 60m years”

    I suppose online, they have to be more in-your-face because online is where all the trouble-makers are. 🙂

    Whatever the language used, it’s all b.ll.cks of course.

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  10. Geoff,

    a rise of a degree and a half would barely be perceptible, let alone perceived as unbearable. You might want to take another guess.

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  11. This post was long overdue, thanks Geoff.

    The “revulsion” (h/t Hal Lewis) I feel for the climate-industrial complex trumps any concern about “being wrong” (h/t you). Modern civilization has never depended on a mythical Edenic temperature range, but it sure as hell depends on the possession of the scientific method, so nothing could ever make me apologize to the inimici humani generis who “viciously, actively and concertedly” (h/t Steve Lewandowsky) work to sabotage science even now.

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  12. Even if the catastrophists are correct, the optimal policy for the UK, including for future generations, is absolutely no climate mitigation at all. The reason is that the vast majority of countries are not willing to cut their emissions. In particular their are developing countries, which are not obliged under the Paris agreement to constrain their emissions growth as it is recognised that for them economic growth is a more immediate priority than saving the planet. Another group is fossil fuel producing countries where the revenue makes up a large part of national income. The three major countries are Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Not only would leaving fossil fuels in the ground decimate their economies it would also vastly diminish their political power.
    As a result current emissions policies will have very little impact on global emissions but a huge impact on the people on whom the policies are inflicted. This conclusion can be arrived at by extension of the work of William Nordhaus, who shared the Nobel prize in Economics last year.

    https://manicbeancounter.com/2019/03/15/nobel-laureate-william-nordhaus-demonstrates-that-climate-mitigation-will-make-a-nation-worse-off/

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  13. I do not believe that the mere rise in temperatures is catastrophic. If it were many British people who have emigrated to France, Spain or Australia would have shorter and more miserable lives than those who stayed in the UK. Neither is more extreme temperature variability more harmful, as attested by those who emigrated to Canada or central USA. Most people successfully adapt, especially those with access to cheap energy for heating and cooling.
    The catastrophic part of global warming is mostly from assuming zero adjustment to changing conditions, such as higher temperatures, more extreme weather or rising sea levels. For instance if tropical storms impacted more areas, newly affected areas would not think to learn from say Bangladesh where there are warning systems in place. Or people would not respond to rising sea levels by building dykes or moving to higher ground.
    Two examples of dumb economic actors I looked at last year are 7,000 extra heat related deaths in the UK by the 2040s and doubling or more of beer prices by 2100 due to a 16% drop in global barley production.
    In the first case, most of the heat related deaths were projected to be of the over 75s in hospitals and care homes. The dumb actors in this case are mostly medical professionals ignoring an emerging problem.
    https://manicbeancounter.com/2018/08/05/uk-government-committee-7000-heat-deaths-in-2050s-assumes-uks-climate-policies-will-be-useless/
    In the second case every country was assumed to have independent beer markets. For instance, over decades as beer prices rose much faster in Ireland than in the UK, no brewery would think to ship some British beer to Ireland to exploit the much greater profits.

    https://manicbeancounter.com/2018/10/18/australian-beer-prices-set-to-double-due-to-global-warming/

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  14. Doesn’t matter
    …. cos one day someone will get a magic fuel like fusion to work.

    =====================
    Alarmists always say “but even if we are wrong our wind farms and solar means cleaner air”
    The question is at what cost ?
    What is the cost benefit of UK renewables so far ?

    If we hadn’t spent the billions
    .. then how much higher would the UK temperature and sea level be today ?
    … I’ve never seen them answer this question

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  15. MANICBEANCOUNTER
    24 Aug 19 at 9:51 pm

    Interesting that Nordhaus was the first to bring 2 degrees into the litany, back in 1975.

    CAN WE CONTROL CARBON DIOXIDE? William D. Nordhaus June 1975 http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/365/1/WP-75-063.pdf

    “As a first approximation, it seems reasonable to argue that the climatic effects of carbon dioxide should be kept well within the normal range of long-term climatic variation. According to most sources the range of variation between climatic (sic) is in the order of ± 5 °C., and at the present time the global climate is at the high end of this range.

    If there were global temperatures more than 2 or 3°C. above the current average temperature, this would take the climate outside of the range of observations which have been made over the last several hundred thousand years.

    Within a stable climatic regime, the range of variation of ± l °C is the normal variation: thus in the last 100 years a range of mean temperature has been 0.7°C.”

    [We are told that current “warming” since pre-1850 is l °C, so we are within the range of natural variation, according to Nordhaus in 1975, yet we are told that this is all due to anthropogenic emissions of CO2.]

    In 1977, Nordhaus expanded on his theme in Discussion paper 443 for the Cowles Foundation at Yale:

    “Strategies for the Control of Carbon Dioxide” http://cowles.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/pub/d04/d0443.pdf

    In this paper he repeated a lot of his IIASA paper, including the seminal paragraph: “If there were global temperatures more than 2 or 3°C. above the current average temperature, this would take the climate outside of the range of observations which have been made over the last several hundred thousand years.”

    However, he changed his figure for the range of variation within a stable climatic regime “such as the current interglacial”, from l°C, to 2°C and said that in the last 100 years a range of mean temperature had been 0.6°C, rather than his earlier 0.7. We are still within that range and show no signs of current movement, in spite of increasing CO2.

    In 1990, the UN AGGG (United Nations Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases), was asking for no more than a 1 degree rise in global temperature. (The hubris of such statements is amazing). That in turn traces back to the “World Climate Programme – International Conference on the Assessment of the Role of Carbon Dioxide and of Other Greenhouse Gases in Climate Variations and Associated Impacts, VILLACH, AUSTRIA, 9-15 OCTOBER 1985”

    UEA’s Phil Jones and Tom Wigley were both participants, as was Martin Parry, now at the Grantham Centre at Imperial.

    https://library.wmo.int/index.php?lvl=notice_display&id=6321#.W8HF1vZRfs0.

    This was followed by the Bellagio Conference in 1987, when again the main proponents of the AGW meme were present, and have been driving it ever since. In 1995, John Schellnhuber picked up on the 2 degree idea and promoted it to the EU and it was adopted in 1996 as EU policy.

    In 1997, Greenpeace was advocating for 1.5 degrees via its then Political Director, Bill Hare. He was a Greenpeace plant at Potsdam for many years from 2002, before starting his Climate Analytics company in 2008, with funding from the German government. His fellow Australian, journalist Tony Thomas, examined his career here:

    https://quadrant.org.au/opinion/tony-thomas/2019/04/doctor-hares-nasty-green-prescriptions/

    In 2016 he was at it again:

    https://climateanalytics.org/latest/climate-change-warning-of-extreme-events-and-a-move-into-uncharted-territory/

    “The report says the upper end of current climate extremes would be “the new normal” at 1.5 degrees warming – which could be just 10 to 20 years away under the current trajectory.”

    After Paris, 1.5 degrees is the new mantra for the activists.

    [Sorry, this got stuck in moderation because of all the links.]

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  16. We skeptics may be wrong about certain aspects of how the physics of CO2 interacts with climate.
    But it seems certain that there is a lot wrong with the climate consensus.
    Namely that one of its biggest thought leaders would rather lose a court case than be submitted to scrutiny in a forum he can’t control:

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  17. What if we are wrong?
    Then models beat observations,
    homogenization is eminently justified.
    Hiding declines, reasonable
    Banning your opponents from publishing is fair
    And converting weather into climate certainly justified.

    Scaring children and destroying economies
    are merely collateral damage

    I can’t be wrong, can I?
    I don’t want to be wrong.

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  18. ALAN KENDALL

    I don’t want to be wrong.

    I know little about science, and even less about detective fiction, but isn’t there a standard plot line in both where the researcher/detective hopes against hope that the facts will prove him wrong, but feels bound to pursue his enquiries to the bitter end, however painful the conclusions?

    Is that the problem with climate scientists, that they’ve lost the plot? Or rather, that they never had it?

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  19. Geoff I wrote “I don’t want to be wrong” with the experience of having been in a setting where I was surrounded by scientists, many who I judged to have superior intellect to my own, who rabidly believed in CAGW (or alternatively kept quiet about it). It wasn’t my subject area, yet when they ventured into my own (especially palaeoclimate) they lay waste to it. When I ventured into theirs I found “oddities” and later, with the release of Climategate, I discovered “irregularities”.
    A different scenario from that you suggested, I think.

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  20. Hi Geoff,

    “Is that the problem with climate scientists, that they’ve lost the plot?”

    I’d hesitate to nominate any single problem as THE problem with climate scientists, but yes, that is one of their diseases, as I argued (to zero resistance) in a post long ago: they’d like nothing better than to be proven right. Phil Jones even wrote a sentence tantamount to exactly this.

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  21. Geoff as to answering your questions, I still find it difficult to directly criticize my former colleagues. Some in the climate arena I came eventually to detest, but others became firm friends. When, in a university department, you have to cooperate say within a committee or even more intimately cheek by jowl when agreeing marks for student work, you learn about your colleagues for good or ill. So for someone even like Phil Jones (someone I came to studiously ignore) I cannot agree that he “lost the plot” (most of it yes) or “never had it”

    Over the years away from UEA I have reviewed my opinions on climate science and the people involved in it. In most cases this involves reflections upon my previous UEA colleagues, but I also met with and commonly was involved in discussions with visitors, some quite eminent (I relish my memories of Lamb and Lovelock, as well as others I remember the conversations but not their names).

    I have come to believe that the AGW concept had considerable merit (and still does) and that CAGW originally did (and possibly still does). Therefore, it was a more than reasonable subject to investigate.

    AGW involved three main strands – demonstrating the uniqueness of present day GW by investigating the recent past, demonstrating a global temperature rise, especially one that was in step with a rise in atmospheric CO2, and development of models that might predict future climate changes on the basis of possible scenarios of atmospheric CO2 change. UEA was never seriously involved in climate modelling, but interacted with groups that were. They specialised in palaeoclimatology determining past temperatures from tree rings, and determining global temperatures using a variety of procedures to counteract huge regions of no or poor data. In my opinion these were worthy goals and those that stepped forward to determine them are worthy of considerable respect. Where they went wrong was in two respects. Because the possible outcomes were so relevant to the future welfare of our species they abandoned elementary scientific rigour and checks and balances. They chose only to investigate links between increasing aCO2 and temperature and refused to countenance the inability of the evidence they had (tree rings and weather stations) to provide the answered they craved for. Evidence was manufactured, tortured or covered up. But always for the greater good. Rather than seekers after truth, they “saw” the truth and chose to convince others by selecting (or developing) supportive data. Being identified as doing essential work becomes extremely gratifying and you come to believe your truths must be defended at all costs and those that criticize you and your truths must be stopped. Before you know it you are writing and receiving Climategate style e-mails. When those communications are broadcast, you become vilified by your opponents, and questioned by some of your peers. But you are not intrinsically evil as some maintain, just lost.

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  22. But Alan, you will agree, I think, that there’s something a little off when people want to be right about the world ending, isn’t there? About other things, sure, that’s only human. But about a global catastrophe? What kind of person would think of dangerous AGW as an “attractive” hypothesis (to quote Richard Mueller)?

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  23. Not at all Brad. If you come to believe that ignoring (or not emphasising) information will cause perils causing future harm, what are you supposed to do?

    Surely an “attractive” hypothesis is one that draws you to believe in it because of the supportive evidence associated with it?

    Interestingly some of the closest analogs come from early southern US and Caribbean weather forecasters who compiled indications (commonly from pilot’s logbooks) of oncoming hurricanes. You might have asked “What kind of person would think of dangerous weather indications as an “attractive” hypothesis to predict forthcoming hurricanes?”

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  24. Alan, did you read the whole Mueller paragraph? The relevant passage is given in full towards the end of my Skuce Goose link.

    > Surely an “attractive” hypothesis is one that draws you to believe in it because of the supportive evidence associated with it?

    Your interpretation of the adjective in isolation is certainly plausible, but in the context he used it in, Mueller can’t possibly have meant “attractive” merely in the sense of “supported by good evidence.” If that’s all he meant then he wouldn’t have reprimanded himself for being preferentially inclined to believe in such hypotheses, would he?

    Anyway, it’s one thing to want to convince the townsfolk that there’s a great white shark preying on beachgoers once you’ve already got evidence to that effect. It’s quite another thing, before you’ve got any such evidence, to hope that you find it.

    You can’t—metaphysically, I mean—hope to find evidence that X is true without hoping that X is true.

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  25. Brad I have found it wise, especially but not exclusively, in enemy territory, to assume a less belligerent stance, especially in subjects that are not your specialisation. If by chance I can adopt a stance that enables me to avoid confrontation in an area where I cannot claim specialist knowledge then I would do so. I retain my independence whilst avoiding conflict. Not brave perhaps, but needed in “enemy territory”.

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  26. I think there are two main elements. 1) The concept that interfering with nature is morally wrong (which is likely to be a strongly held belief for people entering into earth sciences and most of the rest of us would at least agree that we should try not to do it). 2) That emissions are interfering with nature on a massive scale (which is a very low bar to pass based on the scale of the possible interference).

    The conclusion on climate was therefore drawn decades ago that emissions must stop. The intractable problem has been convincing selfish people to put nature above their own self interest, to break Pielke Jr’s Iron Law. So “The Science”‘s unwritten goal has been to find evidence to convince people that emissions have to stop. One of the easiest methods to do that is through fear by presenting a “clear and present danger” narrative. From Hansen’s NYC under water to Mann’s Hockey Stick to climate models tuned up to 11.

    It is terribly counterproductive when evidence is found that emissions do not present a clear and present danger, or the presented evidence is proven to be wrong. The scientists do not cheer for extreme scenarios or disasters because they want them to be right, or necessarily believe them to be, they do so because they want you to believe they are.

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  27. Alan, your last comment says even more than you realize, doncha reckon?

    Ah, Climate™: the scientific “territory” where skepticism is the “enemy.”

    Gotta love it.

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  28. What an odd communication Brad. If my “last comment says even more than I realize”, it’s hardly likely that I would be able to answer your “doncha reckon?” question. Doncha reckon?

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  29. A related, and perhaps more apposite, question about climate scientists is whether they are now riding a tiger of their own making and dare not get off? The change from global warming/climate change to climate emergency and its like seem to me to be marking this change. Before, extremism in reporting climate matters was countenanced and excused by academia because it served their purpose in advertising the perceived problems a changing climate might cause and gave politicians authority to fund and to blame. Now, to my mind, scientists are unnecessary and, to some extent a hindrance. Official IPCC statements are now criticized for not being extreme enough, discussions about climate futures occur in the media without any science input and rank stupidities (like rapid, wholesale melting of the Greenland icecap, or the rush to dependency on unreliable renewable energy regardless) go completely unchallenged. Have we turned away from scientific reason like the Sunni did in the twelfth century? Will my grandchildren inherit only the wind?

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  30. Alan, yes, the tiger is cultural and has been out of control of science / scientists for very many years now. Years in which it amplifies / gains adherents / deepens emotive belief / spreads into more and more areas of society. With a few notable exceptions (e.g. Trump in the last 2.5 years), the notion of a certainty of imminent global climate catastrophe has been propagated in the most emotive terms by presidents, prime ministers, high ministers, UN elite, religious leaders, high profile NGOs, businesses and rafts of other authorities and influencers for at least the 21st century. What we see lately with child prophets and proselytisers and XR and such is just a later stage of the same cultural process. Another symptom of said advance is that people opposing the IPCC (for being too alarmist) were once called ‘deniers’, while those supporting the IPCC were ‘approved’. Whereas now those who quote the IPCC’s less than catastrophic conclusions are labelled ‘deniers’, and ‘approved’ folks must go way way beyond their conclusions. Given cultural waves have endlessly occurred throughout history, we will likely survive this one like all the others (and from deep history they were net positive, which is why we evolved to be so prone to them). But it is hard at the moment (whatever the effects of physical AGW and whether good bad or indifferent), to see anything but a lot of damage from this culture of climate catastrophe before it burns out. At any rate, the tiger was out of the bag long ago, it has just been feeding / growing for three decades or so.

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  31. Andy, I don’t really wish to get into a debate as to when the tiger began its wild ride. More important to me is when the tiger became unridable. It seems to me that happened when IPCC opinions became too wimpish in the eyes of those pushing the scary agenda. When common sense reasoning is deliberately vilified and more and more of the thinking populous are ignored we could be in real trouble. The fact that these changes are world wide is important; where is the reformation to come from? Trump’s America? Hardly.

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  32. Alan

    are you aware of the unconscious hostility you’re manifesting right now? I’m not, and it’s making me very uncomfortable.

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  33. Gosh Brad I do detect the faintest of faintest hostility. Thank you so very much for bringing this to my attention. I find it growing and my manifesting it is now mega. Pity about your uncomfortableness. Are you suggesting that we might be linked psychedelically?

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  34. Alan: ‘More important to me is when the tiger became unridable.’

    But these tigers are never ridable at any point, even when small. That they can seem so for a while, is merely an illusion created by the fact that damages are not so visible or direct within early years. This is why our laws, our work-practices, our political procedures, and of course the enterprise of science itself, are all directed towards trying to stifle the behaviours that create them, before such cultural tigers are actually birthed.

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  35. Tony Heller’s recent video on data tampering the Iceland temperature record has some excellent insights on the idea that the tiger cub, as it were, is eternal. But deciding to ride and feed the tiger is a constant temptation.

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  36. Ha! Another clever rejoinder from you, Alan—or so it would seem. It’s only by reading between the lines that it becomes thunderclap-clear: your use of vertical space, white pixels and typographic leading is so passive-aggressive, it threatens almost to break out into outright passiveness.

    You have to get up pretty early in the morning to get that kind of subtext past me, Alain, mon frere. Better luck next riposte!

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  37. Brad
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    This is what passive-aggressive (or is it aggressive -passive) looks like mon ami.

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