I thought this was worth posting (via ABC News): Professor Andy Pitman (lead author on the IPCC’s 2001 and 2007 reports and co-director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales) thoughts on the ongoing efforts of climate denialists to derail the IPCC:

“Climate scientists are losing the fight with the sceptics”

“The sceptics are so well funded, so well organised. “They have nothing else to do. They don’t have day jobs so they can put all their efforts into misinforming and miscommunicating climate science to the general public, whereas the climate scientists have day jobs and [managing publicity] actually isn’t one of them.

“All of the efforts you do in an IPCC report is done out of hours, voluntarily, for no funding and no pay, whereas the sceptics are being funded to put out full-scale misinformation campaigns and are doing a damn good job, I think.

“They are doing a superb job at misinforming and miscommunicating the general public, state and federal governments.”

And he says if scientists lose the climate change debate, it would be “potentially catastrophic”.

“If this was academic debate over some trivial issue [it wouldn't matter],” he said.

“But this isn’t. This is absolutely a fundamental problem for the Earth that we desperately needed full-scale international action on a decade ago.

“We are now 10 years too late to stop some of the major impacts that we will see and have seen as a consequence of global warming. It is not a future problem, it is a problem here today, around us.”

Professor Pitman has accused sceptics of failing to base their arguments on the facts.

“Most of the climate sceptics, particularly those that are wandering around publicly at the moment, don’t base their arguments on science,” he said.

“They have probably never read the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report; they aren’t writing papers in peer-reviewed literature.

“They don’t update their arguments when their arguments are shown to be false, so they’ll have no problem at all using this ammunition inappropriately and out of context to further their aims in exactly the same way as people did when they were trying to disprove the relationship between smoking and human health.

Professor Pitman has also played down the significance of the error in the IPCC’s report.

“There are two paragraphs that have been questioned in a 1600-page document,” he said.

“After two years, people have been going over that report with considerable care and have found a couple of errors of fact in a 1600-page document.

“I mean, we ought to be talking about the other 1599 pages that no one has found any problems with.”

Professor Pitman says he has no concerns about the IPCC’s reviewing process.

“We should be very clear on what the IPCC does. It writes a report that is fully open to external review. [Anybody] can each read over individual sections of the report and send in credible comments,” he said.

“So each government tries to pore over each of the statements to find fault with them and at the end of that process, future drafts are produced, again with opportunities for external examination and feedback.

“And you end up with a final report, which in this case some people have found one or two errors with after two years.

“I reckon that is a standard that most organisations would absolutely celebrate.”

 

18 Responses to "Climate scientists are losing the fight with the sceptics"

  1. The attack against the IPCC led by the UK Times and relayed by The Australian is grossly misleading because it lacks context and any semblance of balance.

    It’s a bit like saying, “Hitler liked dogs so he was a good man” while not mentioning the fact that he caused the genocide of millions of people and WWII.

    Attacking the IPCC report for a paragraph and one reference to a non-peer reviewed report in the midst of nearly 3,000 page report (*) containing many thousands of peer-reviewed references is ludicrous.

    * Note on length of IPCC AR4 – Andy states the AR4 is a 1,600-page document but I make it nearly 3,000 pages (976 in volume 1, 996 in volume 2, 851 in volume 3, and 52 in the Synthesis report).

  2. David Horton says:

    Ove there is no doubt we are losing. The stolen emails were a call to arms for all those who want to stop action on climate change, a sign, just when they thought they were even being abandoned by some conservative politicians, that the energy industry was still in action and capable of inflicting great damage on those scientists. And back they came swarming back onto climate change threads all round the world, speaking in concert (and in tongues) disrupting all serious discussion, and persuading, with the help of mainstream media facilitators like Devine, politicians of both major parties that action could wait another decade. Or two.

    You might find “And then they came for the Greenies” on ABC Unleashed http://bit.ly/beBAcz a useful description of what is now going on.

  3. Duane says:

    “Climate scientists are losing the fight with the sceptics”

    “The sceptics are so well funded, so well organised. “They have nothing else to do. They don’t have day jobs so they can put all their efforts into misinforming and miscommunicating climate science to the general public, whereas the climate scientists have day jobs and [managing publicity] actually isn’t one of them.

    “All of the efforts you do in an IPCC report is done out of hours, voluntarily, for no funding and no pay, whereas the sceptics are being funded to put out full-scale misinformation campaigns and are doing a damn good job, I think.

    Here is an IPCC author saying that the skeptics are so organized and so well funded. Yet Andy does not have a shred of evidence of it. So what if a couple people are on the payroll and lying for their employers. The way I see it, the known BILLIONS flowing to prevent global warming and supported mainly by goverments IS organized and IS well funded. THIS IS FACT. Many research grants depend on the anthropogenic warming theory. And the theory relies on computer models. I don’t trust the IPCC, I don’t trust the computer models, and now I don’t trust Andy Pitman.

  4. Duane, I agree with you that Andy’s comments are a bit silly that “the sceptics are so well funded, so well organised.” There is little evidence of that and it descends into the grand conspiracy theories that people who rail against the IPCC and AGW are so fond of. Perhaps he is exasperated, but that is not an excuse for sloppy reasoning and lack of critical thought.

    However, your statements that “And the theory relies on computer models. I don’t trust the IPCC, I don’t trust the computer models …” indicate that you need to look in the mirror at your own sloppy reasoning and lack of critical thought.

    Naomi Oreskes puts it well by saying the scientific consensus on climate change is based on “multiple, independent lines of evidence converging on a single coherent account”. Have a look at her presentation at http://www.ametsoc.org/atmospolicy/Presentations/Oreskes%20Presentation%20for%20Web.pdf

    Realclimate also has a good explanation for why increasing CO2 is a significant problem without relying on climate models at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/08/the-co2-problem-in-6-easy-steps/

    Andy’s sloppy reasoning is not an excuse for your sloppy reasoning.

  5. Duane says:

    Chris,

    You say I have sloppy reasoning because I don’t trust the computer models and the IPCC? This statement makes no sense. To have a critical mind one has to have a degree of skepicism in all arguments.
    Take your Naomi’s presentation as an example. It’s simply a summary of thoughts not evidence backed facts. Her page showing model –based predictions coming true are not as clearcut as she thinks they are. Intensification of extreme weather? Not true. Weather extremes go up and down over the years on a non cyclical pattern. Studies show that it is not intensifying. Rising sea level? Yes, but no more now than in the past. Her graph on temperature in the last 1000 years? Proven false. To show me this piece of work just proves YOUR lack of critical thinking.
    Real Climate may have some very good works being referenced, but the website is purely on the AGW advocacy side, and anything that may offer a difference of opinion will not be published on that site.
    Best to balance your thoughts, and critically examine both sides of the argument.

  6. Duane, you’re switching your argument to avoid responding to flaws in it and just re-playing the “climate scientists are biased” canard.

    Your original point was “And the theory relies on computer models. I don’t trust the IPCC, I don’t trust the computer models …”

    I directed you to the RealClimate post because it was a simple explanation of the basic physics of why rising atmospheric CO2 is a problem – physics that don’t rely upon computer models. You have not responded to the substance of that. Instead, you attack RealClimate for perceived bias. Why don’t you respond to the substance of their argument?

    You make a hollow call to “best balance yoru thoughts, and critically examine both sides of the argument” while continuing your “scientists are biased” meme.

    How about you come back with a response to the substance of RealClimate’s post? That will give us something to critically examine.

  7. Duane says:

    Chris,

    Switching my argument? I was merely responding to your response. No I did not respond to the real climate post, but I did respond to your other link.

    Yes, some scientists are biased! Is the IPCC biased? YES!

    I don’t have the ability to verify the math and physics of the 6 step article, but I’m smart enough to keep governments and political topics under close scrutiny.

    The issue of catastrophic warming is the extreme side of the argument promoted by the governments and the UN through the IPCC. What about the corn for bio-fuel program in the US? It is known that these types of bio-fuel productions net no benefit on environment. The fact of this matter is that the prices worldwide for corn are higher, and less food purchased by poorer countries. Same type of programs in my backyard, except it is for ethanol production.
    These types of wasteful government programs go ahead due to political pressure and ignorance.

    http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/09/22/government-waste-under-the-cloak-of-greenness/

    This will be my last post.

    Enjoy your de-salinated water.

  8. Dear Duane,

    Taking your bat and ball and going home to sulk?

    Your original point was “And the theory relies on computer models. I don’t trust the IPCC, I don’t trust the computer models …”.

    Now you say, “I don’t have the ability to verify the math and physics of the 6 step article” by RealClimate explaining why increasing CO2 is a significant problem without relying on climate models.

    If you don’t understand the physics involved, how can you be so certain in your views against anthropogenic climate change and the IPCC?

    Will you now show you are a critical thinker by re-tracting your claim that “the theory relies on computer models”?

    Please, no more attempted distractions about biofuels and the like.

  9. Duane says:

    Chris,

    The reason I was walking away from you is that you cannot comprehend what I am saying. For example: It is OBVIOUS in my biofuel comment that I was making a point about not trusting government when it comes to the politics of climate change. Yet you somehow missed the point!

    The theory of catestrophic global warming DOES rely on climate models.
    Everyone does not have to be a physics major to debate this. As a critical thinker, I do attempt to understand all the aspects and attempt to criticize my own thoughts. I do know that Co2 does change the climate. But by how much?

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v430/n7001/abs/nature02771.html

    “People who think critically consistently attempt to live rationally, reasonably, empathically. They are keenly aware of the inherently flawed nature of human thinking when left unchecked.”

  10. Duane,

    I understand perfectly well what you are saying and, more importantly, what you are doing. You have been attempting to change the subject and throw dust in my eyes to avoid responding to flaws in your original argument. Now it seems you are too proud to admit your mistake or to re-evaluate your views in the light of better reasoning.

    The foundation of the scientific understanding of anthropogenic global warming is what we know about the atmosphere. Spencer Weart’s book, The Discovery of Global Warming, is an outstanding synthesis of this research if you are not familiar with it.

    Our understanding of things like the greenhouse effect and the radiative properties of CO2 are observable properties of the atmosphere and CO2 that do not depend upon computer models.

    You say that you know that “CO2 does change the climate. But [the question is] by how much”. You said earlier that you can’t verify the maths and physics in the Realclimate post dealing with this topic yet you seem to believe, even if you can’t verify it, that climate sensitivity to CO2 forcing must be low.

    As a person claiming to be a critical thinker, why are you so adament that anthropogenic climate change is some giant hoax by the biased IPCC and climate scientists, when you admit that your knowledge is so limited?

  11. Duane says:

    Chris,

    “Our understanding of things like the greenhouse effect and the radiative properties of CO2 are observable properties of the atmosphere and CO2 that do not depend upon computer models.”

    Your comment above has nothing to do with this argument. My argument is not with the properties of Co2 itself, it’s with the global warming hypothesis with respect to CO2. The theory is not based upon the radiative properties of CO2 itself, which is a very weak greenhouse gas. It is based upon a small initial increase in temperature caused by CO2 and a large theoretical amplification of that temperature increase, primarily through increased evaporation of water.

    I find your repeated attempts to undermine my argument with my lack of professional math skills very childish.

    “why are you so adament that anthropogenic climate change is some giant hoax by the biased IPCC and climate scientists”

    Where do you want me to start on this topic? Want me to start with Climategate? How about the attempt by the UN to turn the IPCC into a goverment entity only accountable to itself with supreme powers over energy?

    You have not posted anything that would truly deny any of my claims! If you want to convince me that I am wrong, give me something substantial.

  12. J.Roff says:

    Duane,

    “The theory is not based upon the radiative properties of CO2 itself, which is a very weak greenhouse gas. It is based upon a small initial increase in temperature caused by CO2 and a large theoretical amplification of that temperature increase, primarily through increased evaporation of water.”

    If you want to convince us that you are right, start by citing the evidence to back up your claims.

  13. Duane,

    I do not want to convince you that you are wrong – you are welcome to your own folly. My reason for engaging in discussion with you is so that your poorly substantiated assertions are not allowed to fester unchallenged for other readers.

    After saying earlier, “I don’t have the ability to verify the math and physics of the 6 step article”, you have moved back to claiming expertise in the physical basis of climate change.

    Your earlier admission undermines you in this regard.

    Again, you end by trying to change the topic to whether the IPCC can be trusted. You do that by snipping my question to misrepresent what I asked you.

    I asked:

    “As a person claiming to be a critical thinker, why are you so adament that anthropogenic climate change is some giant hoax by the biased IPCC and climate scientists, when you admit that your knowledge is so limited?”

    Sceptical Science made a recent post on the Dunning-Kruger effect that you might like to read and think about: http://www.skepticalscience.com/The-Dunning-Kruger-effect-and-the-climate-debate.html

  14. Duane says:

    j roff,

    I asked for substantial evidence from Chris. I asked first.

  15. Duane says:

    Chris,

    You cannot convince me that I am wrong because you do not have the evidence to show me.

    “After saying earlier, “I don’t have the ability to verify the math and physics of the 6 step article”, you have moved back to claiming expertise in the physical basis of climate change.

    Your earlier admission undermines you in this regard.”

    These repeated attempts by you to undermine my intelligence while ignoring the facts of my argument is just your way of attempting to get out of the corner you have backed youself into.

    You have not posted anything that would truly deny any of my claims. Again, If you want to convince me that I am wrong, give me something substantial. My pooly substantiated assertions? Tell me which ones and why they are a poor assumtion. In J.Roffs own words, start by citing the evidence to back up your claims.

  16. Hi Duane,

    This discussion has become circular so let’s just agree to disagree.

    In terms of your request for something substantial, I responded to your original claim that “the theory relies on computer models” with a link to a RealClimate post that shows this claim is not correct – rather than computer models, the foundations of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change are built upon our understanding of how the atmosphere works and how we are changing it by emitting greenhouse gases.

    You responded by admitting that you didn’t understand the maths and physics involved, but you refused to back down from your original claim.

    In terms of your claim about computer models, it is true that modern climate science uses computer models, but to say this invalidates the conclusions is a bit like saying a jet aeroplane is totally unsafe because the aeronautical engineers who designed it used computer models. In fact, the computer models of the aeroplane are built upon the engineers’ understanding of physical concepts governing flight, lift, etc, and those things are what keeps the plane off the ground. The same is true of climate science – computer models build upon our understanding of how the atmosphere works, not the other way around.

    Rather than admit that you were wrong about your original claim, you have responded with repeated attempts at distraction. I am not going to play your game by responding to your distractions. You are not prepared to re-evaluate your original, erroneous, claim so there is little point in moving to debate other issues with you.

    The discussion has become a bit like Groundhog Day. Let’s wrap this up and agree to disagree.

  17. Duane says:

    As I suspected, you couldn’t post anything. Nothing circular about my discussion. It was you who kept rehashing the same old “you don’t know the math blah blah blah distractions, distractions, blah ablah blah”

    Your “proof” article as posted on Realclimate is by Gavin Schmidt. Gavin is one of a few being investigated in the climategate scandal. If I were you, I would not rely on this one climate modelers interpretation of the science.

    You are walking away because I won’t re-evaluluate one of my claims?

    I’ve been attempting to engage in debate, but it is clear that you are not able to, or your writing is overly influenced by your emotions. Either way, your agrument was weak and emotional.

    This is my last post.

  18. Bye Duane and good luck. Spend some time thinking about the Dunning-Kruger effect and whether you have fallen into it.

    Your attempt to smear Gavin Schmidt does you no credit. He is one of the hardest working and most respected climate scientists of our day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.