Anthony Watts has a post which mocks scientists who are trying to explain “the pause.” It oozes ridicule because so many possible explanations have been explored, which he dismisses as “hand-waving.”
His list is reasonably long:
Too much aerosols from volcanoes, ENSO patterns, missing heat that went to the deep ocean, ocean cooling, low solar activity, inappropriately dealt with weather stations in the Arctic, and stadium waves, to name a few. So much for consensus.
Setting aside whether the list is even right — what Willard Tony doesn’t realize is that he has put the spotlight on the real difference between skeptics and deniers:
When scientists who are genuinely skeptical see something they don’t understand, they try to understand it. When deniers see something scientists don’t understand, they use it as an excuse to claim that “natural variation has been in control, not CO2.”
As most of you are probably already aware, I’m not convinced there even is a “pause” (read this, and this, and this, and this, and this). You might say I’m genuinely skeptical. Of course it’s possible — but I’m quite confident that there is not sufficient evidence to establish its existence.
Yet in spite of the fact that the so-called “pause” fails statistical significance, that it is easily explicable as already-known natural variation in addition to (but not instead of) global warming, scientists are so curious about what’s happening to climate, so determined to get at the truth, and so damn skeptical, that they have explored many potential causes of the short-term fluctuations in recent temperature. Not everybody agrees with me that the “pause” isn’t real, not everybody accepts that it’s just already-well-known natural variation on top of the global warming trend, so the scientific community is exploring a wide range of explanations for something that we don’t agree on and a lot of people are genuinely skeptical about.
That’s what scientists do. When we don’t agree on what’s happening, we try to understand it. If a lot of different possibilities are investigated, well that’s the way it always happens. Eventually, we’ll sort through which arguments are most persuasive and reach at least some measure of agreement. That’s how science works. And it works, bitches.
But not Anthony Watts! He already made up his mind that CO2 is unimportant or irrelevant, so if he finds anything on which the scientific community can’t reach agreement, anything we’re still exploring and don’t yet fully understand, he can recite only one conclusion: that CO2 is unimportant or irrelevant. Do note that he doesn’t reach that conclusion — he already concluded it beforehand. His total skepticism about that is less than zero.
And that, dear readers, is the real difference between skeptics and deniers.