Creed Noun. A statement of belief summarising the faith it represents; a definitive summary of what is believed, especially one that is brief but comprehensive. Commonly pertaining to religion, but not necessarily so.

Cred Noun. The quality of being believable or worthy of respect, especially within a particular social, professional, or other group.

For some time now I have pondered exactly what I believe in and what I don’t with regard to climate change.  When I taught in UEA I had to know exactly what I thought was true, what I was not exactly sure about, and where I could stand my ground and say “boll**ks”.

Environmental science students were then not of one belief. The better, more thoughtful ones, questioned everything and demanded proof. The absolute best of them tested different peoples’ views and tried out different stances against all comers and possibly didn’t reach any final conclusions before they left us. All this meant that I needed to stand on firm ground about my own beliefs and what I knew to be factual, and to be able to take on all the different types of students. This I believe I accomplished, especially by reading absolutely everything in sight and by arguing/discussing matters with selected people who I felt were still not set in their ways.  I enjoyed many wonderful discussions and debates with residents of the School of Environmental Sciences at UEA, which is why I did not hesitate to defend it after Climategate. But in a School replete with climate scientists, all busy measuring wood rings, calculating averaging temperatures and the like, I desperately needed climate cred.

I no longer have this same degree of confidence about what I feel sure of.  I realise that, although I still know more or less what I believe, I don’t feel secure in being able to fully defend those beliefs.  In part this is due to lack of practice: I haven’t given a talk to a local group or discussed climate with students for almost a decade.  My arguments are rusty. 

Insecurity is also due to memory loss.  I’m getting old; I’ll be 80 next birthday and “she who must be listened to” keeps bringing up topics that I don’t remember anything about, especially places we have visited together of which I have no recollection. So when I read some items here at Cliscep, I sometimes ask myself if what is being argued or commented upon is reasonable, and sometimes I find myself thinking that it should not be unreasonable for a sceptic to agree with the sentiments laid out in the article being quoted. Such heresies of mine I commonly hide or repress.  Commonly I read here items about possibly questionable evidence supporting climate change – new temperature records, changing in the timing of natural events and the like. My response now commonly is – so what? Don’t I believe we are still recovering from the Little Ice Age?  Surely then I might expect higher temperatures occasionally and consequences of those changes to occur? I suppose what I still don’t believe is that the reason for the temperature increases is primarily the result of human activities or that it will soon be dangerous.  Should this be part of my sceptical creed?

But then again can we defend this?  I have known since I was a schoolboy studying chemistry and physics that carbon dioxide (and some other gases) cause temperatures to rise in the laboratory and in the atmosphere.  In fact those gases are responsible for rising temperatures to acceptable levels on the Earth’s surface. Without them we would freeze everywhere, all year. I also accept that there is evidence that CO2 levels in the atmosphere have substantially increased since 1950 and that it is not unreasonable to believe that human exploitation of carbon-based fuels has been responsible for a large part of this increase. Then combining this information,  how can I deny that humans are responsible for at least some climate change?

If I now argue that we must be responsible for at least part of the increase of temperatures we have experienced, what can I now use as argument that the changes we are causing, and will cause, will not be harmful?  Or that by drastically reducing our emissions we might avoid danger.

Attribution science is the bane of my existence.  I intuitively mistrust claims made for it, but is such opposition reasonable?  In my view it certainly has a weak foundation. When I read about some weather event being made so much more likely because of climate change I invariably note that the amount of climate change (= average temperature change) is not given for that locality.  Sometimes we are asked to accept absolute inanities.  Such was the case recently in the Pacific Northwest where a “heat dome” was supposedly made that much more severe. How much more severe? Well I read where what you do is subtract the average global temperature increase from the measured temperatures to find the effect of climate change. Such utter stupidity, especially when later, it transpired that the rest of North America was decidedly cooler than usual.  Difficult to explain – it never was.

Then I recall my time living on the Canadian Prairies; especially in Saskatchewan. Governmental well-being (that meant my employment) depended much upon income from the grain and rapeseed harvests.  At times of summer drought we worried and some years resort was made to rain making.  Huge rockets were blasted up into clouds carrying chemicals. Sometimes rain came, other times at seemingly identical conditions or places it didn’t. We never knew why.  Now of course we understand the weather so very well that we can predict it so very, very precisely (sarc).  I just don’t believe it.  Nor do I believe that of all of the innumerable weather disasters attributed to climate change have been predicted ahead of time.  But is this just my prejudice showing?

So today I find myself without much of a climate creed I can defend.  My experience and still (I hope) rational mind still convince me that my opposition to most of what spews from the lips of green climate activists is justified, but the creed I used to follow is today looking decidedly ragged.  So please help a poor, somewhat decrepit denier regain some street-cred so that he can wear it again as armour.  Give me your best arguments.  What exactly do we believe and, most importantly, why do we do so? This old codger has lost his way; the opposition strengthens inexorably.

22 Comments

  1. Alan,

    I believe that we believe it is okay not to know what we believe.

    Like

  2. Alan,

    Welcome back, and thank you for demonstrating that climate sceptics can be sceptical about their own scepticism. I believe there are many grounds for maintaining our scepticism about the “climate crisis”, and am happy to share my reasons. They are, however, so voluminous that I hesitate to include them all in a detailed comment. Leave it with me, and I’ll either respond with a lengthy comment on your article or perhaps write a short one of my own regarding reasons to be sceptical.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. But John since profound policy decisions are being based upon beliefs posing as understandings I would disagree with you to the max. It is not OK

    Like

  4. Alan, I suspect that John meant climate sceptics when he talked about what “we” believe. Sadly, what we believe has no influence whatsoever regarding the making of profound policy decisions.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a beautiful, transparently honest essay. Thank you. The challenge you pose is profound. One thing that sustains my skepticism is the observation that those who deploy censorship are always wrong. That thosecwho diddle with the books are the crooks. That those who refuse to debate do so because they know the outcome does not favor their cause. That nature seldom has binary choices: “CO2 is a ghg, therefore the alarmists are correct”. That the side that continues to make failing predictions is wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Alan – thanks for a heart felt post, you are not alone on this.

    when I try to counter a TV piece on bad weather/climate change is heralding the end of the world to the wife, see rolls her eye’s.
    all I tend to say is “boll**ks” like you, but can’t back this up with a killer quote/statement of fact.

    your 79, i’m 65, we read books/papers for our information, and after many years/books/geology you get a good idea about what was happened to our planet in the past, which informs us how things are likely pan out in the future.

    I have no doubt MMGW is real, but not just from CO2 and not leading to a climate meltdown.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. There is hope. I just posted on a breakthrough in Paris, of all places.
    https://rclutz.files.wordpress.com/2022/05/mona-pie-in-the-face.png?w=1000&h=925

    There are many places where people are worried about erratic and destructive behavior by those inflamed with fear of global warming/climate change. In the past they have been known to vandalize pipelines delivering natural gas or oil critical for energy needs. These days climatists are more and more frantic, and for example, given to slashing tires on SUVs, thinking them to be “Axles of Evil.”

    Fortunately, we have news from Paris that there may be a way for these fevered persons to vent their fears, thereby feeling better, and leaving the rest of us alone. I refer to the reported action by one of these poor souls attacking the image of Mona Lisa in the Louvre with a cream pie in order to save the planet from climate change. Of course the painting is behind bulletproof glass, so it was not damaged. But the release of passion was cathartic, followed by the climatist being taken away for admission to the Paris Home for the Bewildered.

    The good news is that from now on there could be at local carnivals or at county fairs booths like those above where other such inflamed activists could act out their passion against images of Mona LIsa, and thus, perhaps regain reason and common sense. Let us all hope for the best for these tortured souls.

    A Climate Activist Smeared Cake On The Mona Lisa
    “Think about the Earth. There are people who are in the process of destroying the Earth. Think about them!”

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Ron what a terrible fate for Lisa del Giocondo; becoming the cream-pie victim of all the world’s climate obsessed 🥲

    Is a portrait of Naomi Orestes available anywhere? 🤭

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Alan,

    I don’t think your age is the problem, since I am sure there are many of us of varied vintage who are also feeling the same way. Scepticism doesn’t exist in isolation, it is an attitude of mind that manifests itself in ways that depend upon the body of evidence presented and the severity of the solution being proposed. The body of evidence has been changing down the years, and so the healthy sceptic will modify his or her views accordingly. The problem, however, is that the levels of societal concern have also been changing down the years, with ever more drastic action being demanded. So the calculation regarding whether or not the currently proposed action is justified by the evidence does not necessarily strengthen as the evidence grows. One can get into the paradoxical situation where one is more convinced of the case for anthropogenic global warming and yet less convinced of the need for the currently proposed actions. I think that is where I stand, but it does depend upon which side of the bed I get out of in the morning. There is so much noise and bluster out there that it is difficult sometimes to know exactly what to believe. So perhaps the best creed to have is the belief that creeds are to be avoided. To put it technically, my creed is to support the objectives of Robust Decision Making (RDM).

    https://www.rand.org/topics/robust-decision-making.html

    Also, I might add that I am confident that I can fully justify my criticisms of the lack of understanding of how uncertainty and risk management works, as shown by some so-called experts advocating for ‘emergency’ transition to Net Zero.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Alan, the alpha and omega of things for me is that whatever we do as a species, if we burn every hydrocarbon we can extract from the ground, life on Earth will not perish in fire and brimstone.

    As to the damage to humans, there is no damage from climate or extreme weather that cannot be cancelled entirely if civilisation is wealthy enough.

    My objection to Net Zero is not the principle, but the obvious fact that the damage of the journey will far exceed the benefits of reaching the destination.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I’m with this guy.

    Lindzen is a brilliant scientist – but you don’t need to be to agree. Benny Peiser once said at a GWPF meeting (the one where an ailing Chistopher Booker presented his paper on groupthink), on being asked why the average age of attendees was so high, that when you’re older your bullshit meter has been trained by many years experience to be more accurate. (Did he really use those terms? That’s how I remember it anyhow!)

    (Note also one of Mark’s blockbuster Cliscep posts getting the nod from Julia H-B there!)

    Liked by 2 people

  12. dfhunter

    “I have no doubt MMGW is real, but not just from CO2 and not leading to a climate meltdown.”

    It certainly won’t be as bad as plants poisoning the world with all that oxygen.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Dear all thank you for your kind reception of my personal expose of my climate change doubts. This had two intentions. The first of these was to come clean about how I had become shaky in my opposition to some of the basic tenets of climate alarmism. I am relieved that I am not alone in this and I thank those who have bared their own souls. The second intention was to assemble a set of arguments that support our critical view concerning society’s adoption of the dangerous climate change creed or mantra and the implied need for potentially devastating changes to our use of fossil fuels.

    In times past we used to speak of the “passing-by visitor” to our site, potentially seeking guidance about doubts they may have been having about the current overwhelming fear-mongering regarding dangerous climate change. It occurred to me that visitors of this type would find reassurances difficult to find in our neck of the woods. Then I realised that I myself was in need of some climatic TLC. So I asked you all to send answers that reassure you. This has still to be done. Perhaps we could assemble a package of such arguments (I believe Mark has almost agreed to write it for us). Perhaps it could go into a pride of place where it could easily be consulted).

    So here goes from me. My arguments, as you might expect, involve my own specialist knowledge of geology. My science is confident that it has multiple methods of estimating atmospheric carbon dioxide levels in the distant past (mentioned in JIT’s recent article here – “My New Improved Sceptics’ Version of Ed Hawkins’ Stripes”) where estimates of several thousand ppm are recognised in the atmosphere for long time periods. Yet there is no corresponding evidence of global devastation.
    Similarly, there are other controls on climate that are seemingly much more powerful than CO2. This is revealed in Antarctic ice cores where temperatures plummeted at the beginning of glacial episodes with CO2 levels initially staying at high interglacial levels for hundreds of years, seemingly incapable of maintaining warmer conditions. For me this indicates that atmospheric CO2 follows climate rather than controls it.
    I do not understand why some well known, media-savvy geologists can ignore this kind of evidence and put their weight behind the current climate nonsense, but they do.

    Send us the arguments that make you believe that climate science is going in the wrong direction and down a cul-de-sac.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Alan,

    I hope later today to put the finishing touches to a work in progress, and then I promise to get started on “Reasons to be Sceptical.”

    Your musings definitely merit a detailed response.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Re Alan’s opposition to some basic tenets of climate alarmism, facing threats of disastrous temperature and rising seas, I began reading both sides of the debate and became more sceptical of cc predictions as a result. Richard Lindzen, Ross McKitrick and Steve Mcintyre were the ones who made me seriously doubt the CAGW message. Christine Figueres herself admitted that it was not about the climate but about a redistibution of the World’s wealth.
    eththeserf.wordpress.com/2018/12/23/56th-edition-serf-under_ground-journal/

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Alan:

    “But John since profound policy decisions are being based upon beliefs posing as understandings”.

    It was ever thus. Been the bane of human societies for millennia.

    Like

  17. Thank you Beth for reminding me/us of the demolition job you did on climate modelling. You could also have reminded us of your special on Climate Change. Reading through them again was good for my soul. Yes there is very much wrong with climate models and all the fear for the future was originally based on modelling. However, things have moved on, criticism of modelling is old hat, not very often mentioned these days and attention seems to be focussed on blaming climate science for much that is negative. Climate change is the cause of seemingly everything negative and often now, a percentage of this negativity is ascribed to climate change. The claims for able to discern this degree of blame are getting outrageous with not much criticism from sceptics IMHO. This attribution science needs its own trashing. Urgently.

    Like

  18. Like Richard, I have a high regard for professor Lindzen and think his quote above sums up the situation very well. However, I also believe that there are times when Lindzen’s more succinct quotes are probably more telling …

    Prof. Richard Lindzen (formerly Prof. of Meteorology at MIT) https://www.azquotes.com/author/30824-Richard_Lindzen
    “To say that climate change will be catastrophic hides a cascade of value-laden assumptions that do not emerge from empirical science.”

    “The influence of mankind on climate is trivially true and numerically insignificant.”

    I couple the wisdom above with that of the economist professor McKitrick:-
    “… But for the world as a whole, there is no robust evidence that even the worst-case warming scenarios would cause overall economic losses … It now falls to advisory groups like the IPCC to tell this to world leaders, before they enact any more disastrous climate policies that will do all the harm (and more) that the evidence says climate change itself will not do.”
    Financial Post – Ross McKitrick is a professor of economics at the University of Guelph and a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute.
    https://financialpost.com/opinion/ross-mckitrick-why-climate-change-wont-hurt-growth

    Incidentally, McKitrick yesterday published a critique, “Biases in climate fingerprinting methods” at Judith Curry’s site.

    Regards,
    John.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. At times of summer drought we worried and some years resort was made to rain making.. Sometimes rain came, other times at seemingly identical conditions or places it didn’t. We never knew why.

    Shamans have been aware of this problem for a while, predating even the foundation of CRU. Professor Frazer, in “The Golden Bough,” gives an exhaustive list of rainmaking methods. An Australian one involves wrapping the prepuces of young boys in the skin of the carpet snake and burying them in the desert. (Said prepuces are first removed from boys, I imagine, though professor Frazer doesn’t elaborate.) In Serbia they throw the local priest in the river. If it rains, they fish him out.

    Frazer regarded these efforts as laudable attempts to evolve from magical thinking towards empiricism. His argument was that the cleverer sort of shaman would find ways of explaining his failures (e.g. by blaming them on gods ,and thereby inventing religion) and that society would gradually evolve towards a scientific attitude, in which peer review would ensure that the wrong sort of shaman wouldn’t get a hearing.

    Liked by 1 person

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