Difference of Opinion

Here’s what some politicians have to say:

Here’s the opinion of Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone, President of the National Academy of Sciences, and Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society:

CLIMATE CHANGE IS ONE OF THE DEFINING ISSUES OF OUR TIME. It is now more certain than ever, based on many lines of evidence, that humans are changing Earth’s climate.

Who you gonna believe?

48 responses to “Difference of Opinion

  1. (Trying to put the best possible spin on this)

    Well, now I have something else that I can razz my relatives in Denver about — I’ve kinda milked the Broncos’ Superbowl meltdown for all that it’s worth.

    Shame on me ;)

  2. Who were those idiots? I’m sure those people at the table are much smarter and more knowledgeable than a couple of academics.

    Can you say Dunning Kruger?

    • Much as I agree about the Dunning Kruger problem, it is a bit of jargon that is overused in these communications. Wikipedia identifies it as originating in 1999, which while it may seem like ancient history, is not. It comes across as insider talk. I think to get over the footlights we need to use less insider talk.

      • Oops, instead of repeating “insider talk” I meant using the equivalent of words of one syllable as much as possible.

      • Sorry, susan, the effect has been in place for possibly millenia. The people who wrote the paper and gave the name to this ancient self-delusionary error were born only recently, and at the time were not writing any papers in behavioural psychology at the time.

        So the name of the effect brought up from the names of the authors is recent, but this is NOT proof that the effect only existed from that point on.

      • I see your point but it “was” intended as a sarcastic insiders’ joke. Besides which, in my circles it is a fairly common term but my background is in psychology and I read a number of Climate blogs so to me it is hardly even jargonl

      • Susan, “Dunning-Kruger” is jargon, in the sense that it’s a concise term for a concept that otherwise would take a paragraph or two to explain. It’s pithy. Sure, the phenomenon has existed for millenia, but until I heard about Dunning-Kruger five years ago, I wouldn’t have thought about AGW (or evolution, or heliocentrism…) deniers as having a specific cognitive deficit. Not just science deniers, of course: I know I’m less eager now to comment on topics I know little about 8^}!

        Dunning and Kruger acknowledged their antecedents. Confucius, for example: “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance”, and Darwin: “ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge”. Which words “of one syllable” would you use?

    • The people we Coloradans get to choose from in 2016. Yay.

      I gave Owen Hill some crap on his FB wall: https://www.facebook.com/OwenHillforColorado

      I don’t know the others, I only know him as he’s my guy here in the Springs unfortunately.

  3. Well. It’s good to have these guys on record now as saying this. It would be good to put the same question to as many politicians as possible as often as possible.

  4. Not much to say:


  5. It’s not one of the defining issues. It’s like a wrecking ball that will smash all the other issues, then keep beating you on the head until you pay attention to it or it beats you into a bloody pulp. That’s climate change for you. Ignore it, and it beats you to a bloody pulp.

  6. oh for the love of …. i’d love to see the rigor of climate change analysis being applied to the stock market and to forcasting currency exchange movements … but we allow smoke and mirrors to bleed that debate into the fanciful wold of instinct and witchdoctory … Thought – can we get a panel of scientists to answer if political action can address economic change?

  7. Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’ is running on cable here in Sydney. It made me wonder when exactly the party of Lincoln, which jammed through the 13th amendment against resistance from the Democrats and the worse angels of popular prejudice, became the party of… well, James Inhofe and Ken Cuccinelli and Anthony Watts and so on. Quite a turnaround.

    Not that I hold up any of our own mainstream parties as a shining example of moral consistency.

    • The two parties ahd liberal and conservative wings throughout the 20th century. The modern polarizaiton began when Lyndon Johnson, determined to become the first President from the South, realized that he could not do so as long as Southern Democrats continued to successfully block civil rights legislation for blacks. This led him to force the first civil rights bill through Congress in the 1950s, one that was toothless but symbolic in that he was able to force his fellow Southern Democrats to his will by virtue of the skill with which he wielded his power as the head of the Senate. To make a long and complex story short and simplistic, Johnson also managed to quickly get the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act through Congress as President after Kennedy was assassinated, the Republican Nixon and his team conceived of and executed the “Southern Strategy” to pick up racist conservative southern votes that had for decades gone to conservative racist Democrats, and over time this led to the current situation where the Republican party is mostly far right of center, and the Democratic party by our standards to the left (by European standards centrist at best, mildly right by many measures).

      As I said, this overly simplifies a very complex historical process but it is a good beginning.

      • To amplify what dhogaza has said, I think you need to look at who the core supporters of the parties are–the ones that have stayed more or less constant since the end of the US Civil War. The Republicans tend to be supported by the wealthy, while the Democrats tend to draw support more from the poor and middle class. There are always a lot more poor than rich, so the Republicans have to build a coalition–they have to have a big tent. The easiest way to do this is to try to attract single-issue voters–gun rights, abortion, anti-evolution, and so on. Any issue will do as long as it isn’t opposed to their core belief of allowing the wealthy to keep more of their money. This is also why the Republicans are the party that tries to suppress voter turnout–it means they have to put up with fewer whack jobs in the party if they can preferentially keep their opponents from voting. What we’ve seen lately is that the stupid wing has taken over the tent.

      • To amplify further, the single-issue groups are not meant to influence policy, only rhetoric in pursuit of their votes. GOP leadership and policy has been kept in the same establishment hands until recently. Now, to paraphrase snarkrates, the lunatics have taken over the asylum. Even Karl Rove (whose role in this cannot, I think, be over-estimated) would agree.

        I’m sure the GOP will repair itself, but it could take a generation.

      • I am not as confident of the GOP’s resilience as Cugel. It is quite possible you could see a split. Demographics and public opinion on many issues are running against them. You know things are starting to fracture when you hear Newt Gingrich raising the problem of income inequality. Certainly, the task of managing all the different factions is pickling John Boehner’s liver. Perhaps things will be different when we have a President as pasty white as the GOP base, but if that President happens to be female, things may be worse than they are now.

    • dhogaza makes a very good point. I’d also like to point out that ideological reversals are par for the course when you have political parties based on anything other than ideology. The parties are simply amalgams of topical political stances, sometimes contradictory. They do not follow a cohesive philosophy. It’s really just two really big gangs disagreeing on everything while retaining joint control of the government. I think of it as a bipartisan tyranny. If your ideological beliefs are not slightly right of center, you have no realistic shot at representation in this country. I would vote for literally any third-party option from now on in hopes of actually changing the way our government works. I urge people who don’t vote as some kind of protest to do the same as me.

      • Can’t agree. The Democrats are bad, but the Republicans are worse. And as Robert Heinlein once said, sometimes the difference between bad and worse is much sharper than the difference between good and bad.

      • Unfortunately, at present in the US, one party is at war with the very concept of physical reality. This has made it sadly easy to vote these days, despite my limited enthusiasm for Democratic policies and politicians. Even in nonpartisan races, I will vote against the candidates whose yard signs I see in yards filled with signs for Tea Party candidates.

      • I agree with BPL. Our system guarantees that all my votes will be decisions on the margin. The only candidates I’d vote for gladly are those who’d never want to run for office, who’d never get on the ballot if they did, and who wouldn’t accomplish anything if they managed to win an election because they’d be too scrupulous for political sausage-making.

        The best choice I can ever hope to make is the lesser of two weevils. Voting for a tiny third weevil just ensures that the greater of the other two will take office.

  8. I feel like I saw this video before, a couple years back. But it looks like it’s a remake.

  9. These guys seem legit: reneweconomy.com.au/2014/plimer-leads-ipa-fund-raising-push-for-new-climate-denial-book-36586

  10. Is it a typo that there is a V instead of I in the background?

  11. I am ecstatic when people do this and go on the record, because otherwise, one might not know. Someone should ask them if they’ve signed the Oregon Petition. This is reminiscent of tobacco execs (not addictive!) Smokey Joe Barton as well.

  12. Until I started following the climate change ‘debate’ in detail several years ago, I had NO idea of the sheer number of cranks and know-nothings in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. Even if they may be disproportionately loud having (appallingly) formed a semi-organized and quasi-sentient mass, it’s still quite discouraging to see how many people are happy to spout gibberish, sometimes under their real names.

    A read through the comments on the websites run by Watts, Curry, etc. or even many national newspapers provides insights into many facets of psychology that I would have been quite happy to forgo.

    • I don’t look at Curry, but I used to look at Spencer. Something has changed. He used to have at least some moderation and the comment crowd he drew/tolerated wasn’t totally out to lunch. Over the past while both of those observations have changed. This is especially noticeable in the recent “Nazi” entry. I can’t begin to imagine tolerating the ignorance of the commenters to that one and being associated with it by allowing it to be published on my blog without at least some comment about the level of ignorance. The extremism just has gone up some levels to the point of rabidiness.

  13. The very next question should have been “Why?”.

    • A better follow up would be: “What do you know about climate change that virtually every climate scientist in the world does not know?”

  14. Looks like it’s a race between extreme weather events/drought and ocean acidification to see which one can bring civilisation to its knees first:

    Acidic Waters Kill 10 Million Scallops Off Vancouver

    That article makes for very sobering reading.

  15. 6 Wise Monkeys!
    (or rather, stupid monkeys)

  16. “You don’t believe that the planet is being “impacted” by AGW? Well, what is happening to the energy which has been trapped by the increase in GHG concentrations in the atmosphere. What is the mechanism which ferries it from the atmosphere without warming it?”

    • Deus ex machina, I assume.

    • The mechanism is the atmospheric LWIR radiation to space, done by the radiatively active atmospheric gases and clouds.

      • Edim, you do realize that as the atmosphere warms, it contains more energy, right?

      • Jeffrey Davis

        Not sure if serious.

      • If you are referring to Edim’s comment, he’s quite serious.

        1998 is often referred to as the point at which the SAT got hotter. But if you look at it OHC dropped (Trenberth), and the SAT dropped to levels from the mid 1990s during the extended La Nina period after the 1997-1998 El Nino. So all the heat added to the atmosphere by that El Nino quickly disappeared during the 33 straight months of La Nina starting in the last 6 months of 1998. During that time OHC graphs show the beginnings of a pronounced peak.

        It looks to me like it wasn’t until the back-to-back El Nino events starting in mid 2002 and ending in the first reporting period of 2005 that the 1998 “heat” actually appears to become a permanent feature of the SAT, and I do not see how 1998 had much to do with that.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        I’d just say that a “mechanism” doesn’t consist of a bunch of words. There needs to be some sort of actual physics to describe how warming gets vamoosed without doing anything. And then explain how it manages to do it now but didn’t do it during previous warming periods.

  17. Oh we should definitely trust the fracking fluid drinking party, or is that paint sniffers? The fumes they like to equate with dollars have killed a few too many brain cells in these politicians I think.

  18. One interesting fact about President Lincoln is that he founded the US Academy of Sciences to inform the president and Congress on scientific matter that relate to national policy. Now that science has so much more and better evidence and is much more important for national policy, large parts of our government don’t know what the US Academy of Sciences is or what its reports say.

  19. Climate change — like what songwriter/singer Chris Smither says about evolution —
    “isn’t something you believe in. It’s something you know about. Or don’t.”

    You can bet that even when those guys finally start saying they believe in climate change, it won’t mean they understood it.

    Watch. Their _recommendations_ won’t change: less regulation, lower taxes. It’s not a question of “do you believe” — the question is, was, and will be: “would you buy that?”

    • “Their _recommendations_ won’t change: less regulation, lower taxes.”

      I’d be OK with that if it meant ending the subsidies to oil & coal…


  20. Add to these opinions those of Admiral Samuel Locklear, Commander of US Forces Pacific:-
    significant upheaval related to the warming planet “is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen . . . that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.”

    There must be a case for charging these GOP chimps with treason for deliberately exacerbating an identified threat to national security.

  21. Increasingly I just refuse to argue with deniers. I’ll say something like: I am not going to debate whether the universe was made in six days, the CIA created the AIDS virus, or if we can triple atmospheric CO2 without altering Earth’s climate. Instead we need to focus the discussion on solutions. We need to find the best way to put a price on carbon.



    I also point out that climate change is not just for liberals anymore:


  22. This changes everything (not).