Where’s the “red team”?

Climate deniers, including EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, keep talking about how they want a “red team/blue team” debate about climate change. So far … nothing.

I don’t expect it to happen at all. Why? Because the “red team” would actually have to commit to scientific claims. As long as climate deniers sit on the sidelines and snipe, they can say anything they want, no matter how idiotic, and believe they can avoid consequences. They can even deny that they said it in the first place.

But if they were an “official” EPA “red team” they’d have to make their claims part of the public record. They might even be expected to stand by their claims. Then, when their truly moronic arguments are not just refuted but shown to be truly moronic, it would be the death-knell for the entire climate denial machine.

I expect Scott Pruitt to keep promising a “red team/blue team” exercise, to keep saying it’ll happen “soon.” I don’t expect it actually to happen, ever. It’s the climate deniers who refuse to either “put up” or “shut up.”


14 responses to “Where’s the “red team”?

  1. they like to talk the walk

  2. That’s actually the best argument I’ve seen for running a red team/blue team process. And, as you point out, the reason it probably won’t happen…

  3. If they were going to be honest about this, they would have *two* red teams, one making the case that AGW will be less severe than expected, and one making the case that it will be worse than expected.

    It’s not like the only two possibilities are “IPCC is correct” and “IPCC is overestimating the risk”. There’s a third possibility out there.

    • Indeed… there are so many different schools of climate change denial. I say let them all in and fight it out among themselves. Then the blue team can take on the survivor (a prospect that reminds me of The Family Guy episode — http://familyguy.wikia.com/wiki/Patriot_Games — in which the New England Patriots take on the London Sillienannies in the the most lopsided football matchup ever).

  4. Good point. I’d want to see their models and predictions:

    * It’s the sun stupid: 2018 will cool enough to offset 2017
    * CO2 sensitivity is zero…. 2018 will cool enough to offset 2017
    * instrument error …. 2018 will cool enough to offset 2017

    http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/12/trump-team-puts-controversial-red-team-challenge-climate-science-hold says it’s on hold.

  5. Ralph Feltens

    The fact that US administration personnel consisting of science illiterates decide on whether to allow scientists to make their case in something like a public hearing, and not the scientist and climate experts deciding whether to provide a stage for lobbyists and science illiterates to express their unresponsible ideology sounds to me like the collaborative result of George Orwell and Franz Kafka. Unfortunately, it’s not a piece of fiction, but reality …

  6. The question arises yet again: Is the rate of increase of atmospheric CO2 continuing to rise or has it flattened? I don’t crunch numbers unless I am pushed hard, but I can’t see any sign that the rate of increase has flattened or fallen unless a person does a cherrypick with the time frames to make use of the ENSO and LN spikes and troughs.
    Here is what was posted at Realclimate in the UV thread in the past couple days:
    “Because CO2 increases are like global temperature increases, we have to cope with the wobbles and “even decadal averages can be significantly influenced by ENSO.” We would expect an anthropogenic acceleration over the last two decades of c+0.02ppm/yr/yr. This is roughly what the acceleration was up to 2015 (using OLS over 20 year periods. Note the graph linked above is 10-year periods and a lot more wobbly.) Since 2015 the El Nino increased CO2 rartes to a peak of 0.043ppm/yr/yr since when it has been dropping and presently* sits at 0.031ppm/yr/yr (*for the most recent 20 years). The highest acceleration occurred through 2000, the result of El Ninos and the late 20th century volcanism. So even with 20-year data buckets, there are wobbles preventing long-term acceleration being quantified. But importantly, we can be satisfied that the acceleration does not yet hid any natural feedback mechanisms of any importance.

    CO2 levels are increasing and will continue to do so until we cut our emissions by more than a half. That will not happen for at least a couple of decades.
    CO2 emissions are encouragingly looking flat-ish over recent years. If this continues, we can expect the wobbly increase in the rate of rise of CO2 to show signs of dropping back towards zero.”

    I am sorry to bother you again, but do you have time to answer this question again? I think your last set of posts on this question were in late 2015 and Jan 2016, so maybe things look different now?



  7. We’ve already had one red team examine the climate history aspects of climate science: BEST. So at least we don’t have to bother with that part again, no? After all, many climate deniers said they’d accept the result of that so of course they’ll also accept the results of any subsequent red team exercises.

  8. As with any “debate” with science denialati, I think the scientific community needs to be cautious here. The rules and structure of the debate are important in determining the outcome. Remember the Intelligence Squared debacle about a decade ago: Despite having a very good team, the “blue” squad lost for the simple reason that they overestimated the integrity of the “red” team (also consisting of scientists, including Richard Lindzen). In his summary statement, Lindzen outright lied and obfuscated, bringing up the old canard of “Well, why is Mars warming?” Not only did Lindzen know this was bullshit, it was a violation of the rules for the summary, which do not allow introduction of new “facts”. Nonetheless, the damage was done. The blue team was not allowed to call out the dishonesty, and the red team prevailed in audience voting.

    The denialists don’t do science. They play climateball. Science presumes good faith, or at least an ongoing process to address and deal with acts of bad faith. Debates have a hard end. All the denialists have to do is play defense and hit hard with “alternative facts” at the end.

    Scott Pruitt and his minions are willing to sell out the entire future of humanity for a tiny increase in profit to themselves. It is impossible to overestimate their immorality.

    [Response: Not *allowed* to call out the dishonesty? We’ll see about that …]

  9. I think Snarkrates makes good points. The red team doesn’t necessarily have to be accurate in their claims, or even honest. They could make all kinds of claims that would take some expertise to refute, even if the claims are dishonest. All the red team needs to do is create a debate. Meanwhile, Pruitt et al. get to say, “See, there is still debate amongst the scientific community–it’s too early to act,” and that message will resonate with enough members of Congress and the public to make a difference since they can’t parse the science. It’s the old FUD strategy.

    But hope you’re right, Tamino. As your recent post on rates of CO2 accumulations *accelerating* suggests, we are running out of time to turn that around.

  10. You think too logically. After one year of Trump and all this time in the US climate “debate” you should know better. They will simply not take a position. They never did, they will not suddenly start.

    Still it looks like there will be no Red Team because Washington cannot decide whether to go full fundamentalist and claim climate change is not dangerous or whether they will just try to confuse the public.

    It may also be hard to make a team, Judith Curry probably thinks she is not in the same team as Tim Ball.

    I initially asked: What kind of criteria to select team members will they make to keep actual sceptics like us out? But I was probably again thinking too logically and too much in terns of a normal government working by rules, they will probably not tell how the team was selected. If it happens we should point out and keep on asking for the selection criteria.

    A debate against one of the most trusted professions organised by the most hated US president and goons of one of the least trusted professions would give Team Science a huge advantage and keep climate change in the news. This could backfire on the fundamentalists enormously. Not sure if this is an argument against Red Teaming because the instigators are likely too blinded to see this.

  11. The red team thing already happened, with Richard Muller:

  12. I think they may be serious about this red team/blue team debate because it allows the ‘skeptic’ politicians to have control of the debate and frame the narrative in their favor.

    What we have to do is to put their censorship of NASA, EPA, the Pentagon, etc. above the radar in the public’s view.