How not to take on climate change deniers

Prospect Magazine

How not to take on climate change deniers

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When asked to debate global warming at St Andrews, I was delighted. Unfortunately, my opponents turned me into a bug-eyed fanatic

Perhaps I ought not to have accepted the invitation to debate climate change deniers. I’m a novelist and writer by trade. But I’m also passionate about the environment, so when the University of St Andrews invited me to speak for the motion “This House Believes Global Warming is a Global Crisis” earlier this year I accepted. I had never taken part in a university debate before—shouting at the radio was scarcely adequate training.

In the debate, Richard Courtney spoke first for the opposition. A lifelong “big coal” man, he appears to have modelled his public speaking on end-of-the-pier comedians. He was outdone, however, for bravura nuttiness by Nils-Axel Morner, a Swedish geologist who played up to his audience so outrageously that one almost wondered at the absence of balloon animals.

My fellow proponents of the motion were Ross Finnie MSP and Mike Robinson of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. They had given measured speeches within their allotted seven minutes, yet I could sense that mild-mannered reason might not prevail against pantomime.

I was speaking last for the motion and the most tenacious of our opponents would follow me. This was Christopher Monckton, Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley: failed politician and Sudoku genius. He appears occasionally as an “expert” on such US television programmes as Fox News’ Glenn Beck Show, where he spouts pseudo-science with a ferocity that has earned him, one climate scientist friend tells me, the nickname Count Cuckoo.

“How do you deal with someone like that?” I had asked my friend before the debate. He replied: “Don’t ask me—I’d rather wrestle a pit bull.”

There is an inherent dilemma in tackling climate change deniers. Engage with them and you give them credibility; ignore them and they will claim to have you running scared. Richard Courtney has published his account of the debate online, and his post is pasted in full on blogs such as ilovecarbondioxide.com and Stop the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). As one might deduce, the names of these blogs are revealing. Climate change denial involves a weird cabal of conspiracy theorists, extreme libertarians and cold warriors in search of a new bogeyman. That this lefty conspiracy includes such well-known Marxist organisations as the Pentagon and the papacy is overlooked; but then denialists are expert at ignoring whatever displeases them.

The loud assertion of fake, untested or scientifically discredited claims is precisely the tactic they employ to overwhelm and bamboozle their audience. I should know: in the course of the debate, we found ourselves visiting a topsy-turvy world where Arctic sea ice is thickening even as it vanishes; where Greenland is called Greenland because a few hundred years ago it was positively leafy; where global warming is really global cooling and where the greenhouse effect—which doesn’t exist—is fortuitously keeping new glaciations at bay.

Having had to endure this stuff, I was quaking with indignation when I came to speak, almost shouting down attempts at intervention. “Sit down,” I said to Courtney, “you’ve made enough of a fool of yourself already.” I looked like the kind of bug-eyed fanatic I was actually opposing. They had got me: I may have brought passion and fiery rhetoric to our side of the debate, but exposure to nonsense had turned me into the Mad Hatter.

My worst mistake came when I pointed out that my opponents were not scientists. Monckton interrupted to claim that they were. “So was Dr Mengele,” I shot back. But this allowed Monckton to stand up and demand a point of order with all the indignation he could muster. He has a plentiful supply and it carried him through his own summing up: a wild denunciation that combined McCarthyite name-calling with pompous Latin.

In the end, our motion won 57 votes to 42 against, but there were sufficient abstentions to prevent it from being carried. I didn’t think this reflected well on the young minds at St Andrews. Then again, Monckton and Courtney had brought about a dozen friends with them to bolster their vote. They celebrated as if they had won the lottery.

We gathered afterwards in an Indian restaurant, where each side avoided sitting with the other. One of the students, a fogeyish buffer, told me cheerfully: “Of course they were talking nonsense but I voted for them all the same because—well, they were so entertaining that I thought I ought to encourage them.”

I can now offer the following hard-won tips for anyone considering debating climate change deniers:

  1. Don’t.
  2. If you must, consider ingesting some form of tranquiliser.
  3. Study the stagecraft of Bernard Manning.
  4. Be up-to-date: know your Aristotle!
  5. No matter the provocation, avoid Nazi analogies like the plague.
  6. Bring plenty of friends.
  7. Just don’t.

For more information on the climate change debate click here.

  1. October 22, 2009

    Klem

    “I didn’t think this reflected well on the young minds at St Andrews.”

    I disagree, it reflected well.

    Don’t debate the climate deniers, you can’t win. The problem is the AGW Believers have to prove their claims while the Deniers don’t have to prove anything. They are not the ones saying that CO2 is causing the climate to change radically, only the Beleivers are making that claim. So the Deniers demand proof of the claims and the AGW Believers show images of calving glaciers and sad looking polar bears and call it proof. These things are evidence of climate change only, not evidence that CO2 is the cause. And the Deniers know this. The problem is there is no proof that CO2 is causing the climate to change. So don’t debate the deniers until you have the big hammer; strong evidence that CO2 controls the climate. Without it you don’t stand a chance.

  2. October 22, 2009

    Jennie Laurie

    Climate change sceptics feel the same way about you true-faith zealots…when they meet you, you have already become bug-eyed fanatics who are impossible to reason with, as you admit. Then, you fight with people who spout pseudo-science by lobbing equally inadequate pseudo-science of your own back at them. Your pseudo-science is no more morally righteous than anyone else’s. Also, I categorically do not believe that sceptics have the upper hand in academia or the chattering classes, as you imply; that is a rather obvious and foolish lie. The questions that should be debated are: in the range of millions of years of geologic time fluctuating between glacial periods and interglacials, is climate change normal? Well, of course it is! And whether this particular period is normal or not, can we do anything about it? Nothing else is worthwhile to debate.

  3. October 22, 2009

    Gregory Norminton

    I was wondering how long it would take for the Angry Keyboarders to start making their presence felt. Hi guys and happy ranting.

    If it’s solid science you want, the Internet is full of it. Try the IPCC (http://www.ipcc.ch/) whose findings, don’t forget, have been accepted by world governments.

    Maybe The Royal Society is venerable enough for you?
    http://royalsociety.org/page.asp?id=1279

    Or visit the Hadley Centre:
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climatechange/

    Or how about this letter, just sent by top US scientists to their recalcitrant senators?
    http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2009/media/1021climate_letter.pdf

    As you will see if you reread my article, I make no claims to be a scientist. As an engaged citizen, however, I think it prudent to side with the overwhelming majority view on climate change. That view, which is backed up by a vast amount of peer-reviewed scientific data, is that human activity is almost certainly responsible for abrupt climate change. This phenomenon, in its speed and amplitude, endangers our civilisation, and since it is entirely within our technological means to evade the worst of the danger, common sense and basic morality demand that we take action.

    The noise against this view comes mostly from industry-paid shills, a handful of libertarian commentators and shock radio DJs like Rush Limbaugh. You’ll have to excuse me if I find such company less than convincing.

    Okay – that’s my pitch for now. Just one little request: in order to avoid the incivilities that usually bedevil these sorts of exchanges, can I ask commentators to give their full names? After all, you know mine.

  4. October 26, 2009

    Alban Carter

    And you might take a crash course in statistics which would enable you to grasp just how tentative most climate studies are.
    We really need less faith and more fact.

  5. October 26, 2009

    Gregory Norminton

    Mr Carter, here’s a double dose of fact for you – not based on computer models but measured, observable reality.

    The ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland are melting much faster than anticipated (so yes, maybe some of the computer modelling IS wrong: it underestimates the gravity of the problem). This is work done by the British Antarctic Survey:

    http://climateprogress.org/2009/10/26/nature-dynamic-thinning-of-greenland-and-antarctic-ice-sheets-glacier/#more-12626

    At the same time, the Catlin Survey of the Arctic has predicted ice-free Arctic summers within ten years:

    http://www.wwf.org.uk/news_feed.cfm?3386/Catlin-Survey-predicts-ice-free-Arctic-summers#

    As these reports demonstrate, rapid climate change is already happening around the world. I’ve met some of its refugees, who might take issue with one of the denialist mantras: that nothing’s happening. And yet that was exactly what Monckton claimed at the debate; indeed, he went further, as did Richard Courtney, by claiming that sea ice in the Arctic was thickening. This is demonstrably untrue. If they believe what they are saying, they are delusional; if they don’t but say it anyway, they are liars. Those are the only possible conclusions.

  6. October 27, 2009

    Alban Carter

    Calm yourself. My message is clamour and panic is not the way forward. Consider the following regarding your “ice concerns”. Antartic ice began thinning about 20,000 years ago. Davis, Yonghong, McConnell, Frey, and Hanna tell us that the East Antarctic ice-sheet increased in mass by 45 ± 7 billion metric tons per year from 1992 to 2003. A gain of this magnitude is enough to slow sea-level rise by 0.12 ± 0.02 millimeters per year.
    Where there is a loss of mass an uplift effect is created – labelled postglacial rebound. The conclusion of rapid ice loss is based on the Grace satellite mesurements of increases in gravitational attraction. The latest measurements by GPS show that the postglacial rebound is slower than expected, therefore the correction to the gravitational signal has been over inflated. In a nutshell, the ice loss in the Western Sheet is slower than previously interpreted
    I stand by my message: there are observations, many of them proxies, and tentative projections. It remains a matter of concern that the reporting must always support one of two narratives – Doom! Doom! Or rubbish! Rubbish! Actual knowledge does not support either

  7. October 27, 2009

    Gregory Norminton

    Thanks for the input, Alban. I’ve gone to source, so to speak, with your research on ice sheet thickness in the East Antarctic. Anyone else following this exchange can read more here:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/308/5730/1898

    I am well aware that as complex and dynamic a thing as our planet won’t behave simply; indeed, I consider the website of the British Antarctic Survey to be a model of subtle, nuanced and scientifically dispassionate communication. Increased snowfall in the east of the continent may be one of the (seemingly paradoxical) consequences of climate change, owing to greater evaporation from a warmer Antarctic Ocean; though note that icecap reduction is taking place in the west. None of this research detracts from the evidence, at both poles (especially the Arctic), of abrupt climate change which little resembles natural variation:

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/10/16/0907094106.abstract

    As it happens, I agree with you that there is little to be gained from the present back-and-forth between doom merchants on one side and rubbishers on the other. It saddens me that the environmental movement has spoken a negative, fearful language rather than one of opportunity and vision; partly because all the research shows that negative motivators aren’t effective in bringing about behavioural change, and partly because it has enabled those who deny there is any sort of crisis to paint their opponents as ‘extreme’ or ‘sensationalist’. The challenge, it seems to me, is to create a narrative of positive change which will encourage people to engage in a great and inspiring movement: learning to live within our planetary means. Business as usual is not an option but hitting the panic button won’t help anyone. Do we agree on that?

    As for ‘being calm’, I think we also need passion to change things. That passion needs to be informed by reason; but reason alone did not bring about universal suffrage, the end of apartheid or the fall of Communism in Europe.

  8. October 28, 2009

    Ted Schrey Montreal

    Yes, well, debates like this are little more than improv comedy–which I never find funny either–where the self-regarding schmuck wins because he either is so medicated that he is able to keep his cool, or is so farcical that his victims/listeners are splitting their sides and don’t care a single rat’s…about anything else. A thankless job for the opponent of such rubbish. Don’t do it again, is my advice.

  9. October 28, 2009

    Alban Carter

    I have more of a problem with crusades than I have with scientific models using proxy measures, or multiple bodging factors and shaky assumptions.
    For years stomach ulcers were treated with prolonged courses of Zantac, Tagamet and Gaviscon. These pharmaceuticals made serious profits for Glaxo and Smith Kline (before the union). In 2005, Robin Warren and Barry J. Marshall were awarded the Nobel Prize “for their discovery of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease\. H. pylori causes more than 80 percent of gastric ulcers. A single course of antibiotics is usually sufficient to knock it on the head permanently. The rapid elimination of the H. pylori prevents the cancers associated with prolonged infection, and the incidence of stomach cancer has decreased since the identification of H.pylori and treatment with antibiotics.
    You can read the story in full by C. Ciaccia, G. Mazzacc:University Federico II, Naples, Italy, the Journal of Digestive and Liver Disease, Volume 38, Issue 10.
    Twenty years had elapsed between the discovery and the award. Warren and Marshall suffered considerable doses of slander and many attempts to rubbish and bury their findings: not much in the way of scholarly rebuttal but lots of humiliation and Ozzie bashing.
    It was not as if Smith Klein French were not doing good science. Sir James Black got his knighthood and Nobel Prize for the work that led to Zantac. It was simply the way in which science was being used. Bencze, Alsop and Hazzard of Toronto University tell us that, “Scientists are sometimes prone to withholding information, working with only select peers, interested in certain results, prudent in their choices and sometimes willing to uncritically accept peers’ ideas.
    http://www.ihpst2005.leeds.ac.uk/papers/Bencze_Alsop_Hazzard.pdf. And after all, there was the excellent cause of preserving and enhancing the pensions of so many pensioners whose fund managers had invested in the lucrative pharmaceuticals.
    Creationists, in the service of God, willingly falsify and distort scientific evidence.
    Stem cell research is blighted by the crusaders who willingly cheat in the good cause.
    There is a long tradition of Science being suppressed, bent or abandoned in the great causes. My position is quite simple. When you begin to tweak the law and engage in just a little deception, or a little corruption, or a little “harsh interrogation”, and do so in the name of a good cause you have compromised one of the fundamental safeguards of a free and sound society. The fervent desire to eliminate all corruption, to excise all privilege from society, to guarantee equality and dignity for all led Stalin to mass murder and Pol Pot to kill one seventh of the population of Cambodia. But the causes were good – as they genuinely believed.
    A good cause is never enough to justify abandoning the core tenets of good science, the freedom of academic inquiry, or the right of the people to know: to know the story as fully as we can tell it. It seems to me that there is a perfectly good moral and long term economic case for the prudent use of the world’s resources. We do not need to tamper with the integrity of science to achieve that.

  10. October 29, 2009

    ELIZABETH_ROBERTS

    The point surely is not whether we are experiencing ‘climate change’ – the earth’s climate has been changing ever since records began, as demonstrated by the fossil record and ice core samples. The point is: to what extent is our present climate influenced by human activity ie emissions from fossil fuel burning and others causing a ‘greenhouse effect’? I tend to agree with those who see this is an opportunity for developing new technology,not for going round crying ‘woe, woe’like the character in Up Pompeii

  11. October 29, 2009

    Lawrence

    Yeah Norminton don’t debate “climate change deniers” ’cause they show you up as not knowing what you hysterics are talking about by actually daring to bring up the unmentionable, namely real climate science. Can’t say I blame you.

    Even the very term “climate-change deniers” is simply a slur, it is worse than disingenuous, it is a Big Lie. The proper term is AGW sceptic/skeptic. Not hard to get the difference and the difference is crucial. Remember how you the-sky-is-falling hysterics labelled those pouring cold water on your alarmism, global warming deniers? Now you just call them by the big lie of climate change deniers? Now why is that, why the change of name for the opposition? You won’t get an honest answer from Norminton on that one. It involves an irony entirely lost on Norminton.

    The whole point of properly named AGW skeptics is that we actually dare to point out the fact that the climate is always changing, it has always changed and always will, for as long as there has been an earth orbiting the sun, that’s billions of years. AGW skeptics have always insisted on this obvious point, it is the central pillar to their argument, that the climate is always changing, that the climate, like the cosmos and nature as a whole is in perpetual flux, so why all of a sudden is climate change man-made?

    This is the point that AGW skeptics have been making from the very beginning, and that the current climate change is well within the range of natural climate change swings of the past. So why should climate change, which has always been with us (since long before man walked on the planet), all of a sudden be the fault of man? That is why AGW skeptics always bring up the Medieval Warm period and the Holocene Maximum and other climatic changes from the earth’s past record. Has Norminton heard of the ice ages? Does he think that AGW skeptics deny these ice ages? If not why does he call us climate change deniers? Norminton could never answer this question naturally. No wonder he doesn’t want to debate those who do not get caught up in fashionable pseudoscientific hysterics.

    AGW skeptics are the climate change affirmers, not deniers – that is the very crux of the matter. It’s why we can’t take you seriously, when the very heading of your article is a lie. It’s the AGW skeptics who insist adamantly on climate change – that’s the whole bloody point.

  12. October 29, 2009

    Gregory Norminton

    Lawrence, your manners speak volumes about the cogency of your arguments.

  13. November 8, 2009

    Gregory Norminton

    Things have gone a little quiet on the brickbat front, but I want to add a couple of important links for any passing readers of this blog. The first is to a courageous speech by Australia’s Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, which does a pretty effective job of summarising the goals and motivations of the denialist movement. It has already provoked howls of outrage from the usual suspects. Read it here:

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/the-pms-address-to-the-lowy-institute/story-e6frg6nf-1225795141519

    My second link, for anyone who insists this is just partisan name-calling, is to this report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists:

    http://www.grist.org/article/2009-11-06-toward-a-stalemate-in-copenhagen/

    The report makes it clear that we are seeing a consistent, organised and well-funded effort by vested interests to foul up international attempts to slow global warming. I am not pretending that the angry, anonymous bloggers who rage against the science and politics of climate change are all in the pay of Big Carbon – but they are very definitely being played by them.

    This is the great challenge of our time; and our children will demand to know of us where we stood when their future was being decided. To anyone wavering or plain unsure, remember the Precautionary Problem, ask yourself what likely motivates the many voices of denial in our media – and join a global, life-affirming movement for peace and justice. C’mon, it’s better than raging at the dark and wishful thinking.

  14. November 13, 2009

    David Space

    First, the theory of specifically MAN MADE global warming is based on highly questionable and unreliable models created by the very people whose careers depend on the idea that global warming is man-made. It is not based on verifiable observations from nature. There is absolutely no clear evidence that the kind of CO2 increase currently forecast is likely to create disastrous warming. (Read the abstract from this report for German Physicist Gerhard Gerlich’s view of the reliability of the current idea of a man-made greenhouse effect http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0707/0707.1161v4.pdf)

    In any case, does anyone seriously deny that there have been many much warmer periods throughout history and prehistory, and periods with much higher CO2 concentration, during which animal and plant life was absolutely thriving? Not even the IPCC denies that.

    The AGW theory also relies on theoretical feed-back effects which are debatable at best, and which some scientists argue will create cooling, not warming. Even the climate change zealots admit CO2 increases alone will not create their doomsday scenarios.

    Second, to cite the IPCC as a font of dispassionate scientific research on the subject is absurd. The task they have been assigned by their political employers is specifically to find evidence of man-made global warming; not to assess whether, on balance, there is evidence of human culpability, but specifically to FIND it. So they are hardly the people to go to for an objective view – if they fail to convince people there’s overwhelming evidence of AGW£, they’re out of a job.

    Third, as with other walks of life, there are fashions in science. If your research leans towards the fashionable concerns of the day, you are more likely to get funding. That partly accounts for the greater volume of research supporting the AGW argument. The hysterical hostility of some climate change zealots to any dissent is a further key contributor to the imbalance.

    Fourth, crucial historical temperature evidence used by the IPCC to ‘prove’ that current warming is extraordinary has been proven to be utterly wrong. Michael Mann and Keith Briffa’s data suggesting we are in a warmer period than in medieval times, for instance, has been proved totally unreliable. Mann even resisted revealing his supporting data for years, and is still refusing to allow skeptics to verify other data. Mathematician Steve McIntyre has requested the data from CRU director Phil Jones, but he has been turned down, as have others. This kind of thing is basically unheard of in the field of scientific publishing. You always make your data available to those who wish to verify, challenge or replicate it. This does not inspire confidence among those who approach the issue with an open mind.

    Anyone who really wants to hear both sides of the story can start with a transcript of a documentary recently aired on Finnish TV on their scientists’ take on the historical warming record and current theories: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/11/09/mcintyre-and-lindzen-to-appear-on-finnish-tv-documentary-transcript/#more-12671

    But why don’t we just check the data for ourselves rather than just looking at the IPCC’s dubious and self-interested publications? Check the myriad of independently verifiable temperature records from satellites, ocean temperatures and surface records. There are plenty of sources on the web that mean you don’t have to rely on GW zealots’ increasingly shrill pronoucenemnts.

    Here’s just one – the longest thermometer record anywhere in the world: the Central England Temperature Records. http://mclean.ch/climate/England_Scotland.htm

    It shows we’re close to the upper end of the range since 1650, but certainly not in the realms of anything extraordinary. It has frequently been hotter than it is now over that period.

  15. November 15, 2009

    Nancy

    What you should do is to ask them to bring their Nobel Prize winners, a list of all their peer-reviewed published scientists in Science, Nature, PNAS, GPL and other reputable journals which obviously they neither have nor can or ever will. Tell them that without those little toys to play with they are completely useless.

    Then tell them that you will wait for them until they can do it, which they very obviously never will, have a winning Nobel Prize or two and several hundred research papers written and published, and laugh your belly out while you wait. And you will laugh for a jolly good while.

  16. November 15, 2009

    Hank Purdey

    “count cuckoo” – typical of the left when they lose arguments to just slur and calumniate and name call. left-wing radicals are very loath to jettison their outdated pseudo-scientific ideals (evolution, global warming, phrenology etc.) even in the face of overwhelming evidence.

  17. November 16, 2009

    Gregory Norminton

    To Hank Purdey, I can only say that your post sheds more light on you and your ideological positions than it does on the questions here debated. First, on what basis do you assume I am ‘of the left’? If my concern about global warming is proof of political allegiance, then the Pentagon and the Catholic Church are also left-wing organisations.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/09/science/earth/09climate.html?_r=3&hp

    http://www.catholicsandclimatechange.org/church_teaching/vatican_messages.html

    Secondly, your equating ‘the left’ with phrenology is plain silly. No one now believes in this C19th pseudoscience, and in its day the majority of its adherents were right-wing racial theorists. As for your determination to declare evolution a pseudoscience, what more eloquent demonstration of obscurantism can one hope for? Reasoning with you would be as pointless as reasoning with a banana.

    As for the lengthy post by David Space… is there an emoticon for ‘sigh’? You rehash tired and discredited talking points, and it’s telling that your ‘expert’ sceptics are a mathematician and a phycisist. Got any reputable climatologists in your arsenal? As for Michael Mann, to whom you refer, he is a member of the IPCC who believes in manmade climate change and consistently calls for action to stop emitting greenhouse gases. Don’t take my word for it: visit his website.

    http://www.meteo.psu.edu/~mann/Mann/index.html

    Now nobody disputes that climate changes naturally. The problem is that human activity is creating unnaturally rapid and destabilising changes: to put it simply, global warming as a result of greenhouse gas emissions is causing abrupt climate change. To spare myself the tedium of refuting, blow by blow, the denialist talking points, I would refer you here:

    http://www.grist.org/article/series/skeptics/

    I don’t expect our ‘sceptic’ readers to go through the website’s fact-checking pages: they have too many emotional and ideological investments in denial. But for anyone reading this blog and its comments who is still unsure about global warming – its causes and our appropriate response – I can’t improve on Grist’s work.

    One last link, to illuminate or infuriate. Here is the Wikipedia page (I know, I know, but this isn’t an academic paper) on climate change denial:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_denial

  18. November 17, 2009

    Elle

    I’m intrigued to know why it has taken so long for this to be published, when the debate took place in March 2009.

    Surely you knew the argument would be lost when you invoked Godwin’s Law, especially in front of intelligent and articulate students who had expected a sensible debate.

  19. November 17, 2009

    Gregory Norminton

    Yesterday I wrote a detailed response to two comments – and it seems to have been lost in virtual transit. I will have a go at rewriting it when I have more time: for now, I would like to direct readers to the latest report on climate change impacts (within Europe) from the Met Office.

    http://www.businessgreen.com/business-green/news/2253318/met-office-pains-bleak-climate

    I’d also like to direct people to a website which succinctly describes the psychology of denial. To cite its opening definition: ‘Denial is the refusal to acknowledge the existence or severity of unpleasant external realities.’ Read more here:

    http://www.minddisorders.com/Del-Fi/Denial.html

    For climate change denial specifically, I would direct everyone to the blog of George Marshall:

    http://climatedenial.org/

  20. November 19, 2009

    Richard Lawson

    In the end, this is not an academic debate, because we and our children are part of the experiment. The consensus among scientists (yes, with a few exceptions, as is always the case in science) is that we should decarbonise our economy as a matter of urgency.

    Academics can debate ad infinitum, but politicians now have to make a choice. Every choice involves a degree of uncertainty.

    Say we decarbonise our economy, and it turns out (unlikely as that may be) that IPCC view is wrong? Well, we will have created hundreds of thousands of jobs in insulation and renewable energy manufacturing and taken thousands out of fuel poverty. We will also have reduced the shock of Peak Oil and Peak Gas, and reduced the acidification of the oceans. And addressed our energy security problems. And increased prosperity in hot countries. Not bad, not bad at all.

    Say on the other hand, we go the way of the denialists/skeptics, and it turns out, as per all reasonable expectations, that they are wrong?
    We will have problems with energy security, Peak Oil, Peak Gas, acidified oceans, acid rain, fuel poverty, unemployment, poverty, civil unrest and finally, massive, catastrophic climate disruption from droughts, floods, crop failures, disease, and war. With massive migration caused by environmental collapse. Not good.

    Any sensible decision maker will our money on decarbonising the global economy.

  21. November 28, 2009

    Lawrence

    Norminton, you were hoping and praying right?

    Pleeease don’t let somebody revive this thread, in light of the massive ClimateGate scandal now unfolding this very last week, that sinks your ship of AGW hysteria down into the dark depths of pseudoscience where it belongs. Sorry to disappoint you Norminton.

    What a scandal huh?

    Oh no wait, the AGW true believers will go marching ever onward, to Copenhagen and beyond, like none of this ever happened. Only one of the greatest scientific scandals of the twenty-first century so far, and Norminton and company’s silence is deafening. Scandal, what scandal? Hear no evil, see no evil…Just pretend like it never happened, the elephant in the room that has become known, somewhat predictably, as ClimateGate.

    So Prospect Magazine is going to be dedicating a special issue to ClimateGate? Uh no, thought not.

    After all it doesn’t make you guys look too good does it now? The fact that you won’t even acknowledge it alone means we can’t take your hysterics and politics masquerading as science seriously at all. Just keep on bleating that the sky is falling, continue to wreck our already wrecked economies with your hysterics and pseudo-science. You can’t get off that train you are riding right off a cliff Norminton, the thing is you want to take the rest of us with you, and that irks..

    Gregory Norminton writes above without any sense of irony:

    “The report makes it clear that we are seeing a consistent, organised and well-funded effort by vested interests to foul up international attempts to slow global warming. I am not pretending that the angry, anonymous bloggers who rage against the science and politics of climate change are all in the pay of Big Carbon – but they are very definitely being played by them.”

    Well now with ClimateGate unfolding, all the cover-ups, the fudging and wilful misrepresentation of temperature data sets, the cynical open admissions of money chasing, how to undermine journals daring to publish skeptical papers, the deleting of e-mails whose contents wouldn’t play well with AGW claims, all this from the “leading” figures in climate science selling AGW hysteria – Jones, Briffa, Mann, Haughton, Santer, Wigley, Osborn and others centering around the hub of AGW “science” – the CRU in East Anglia and their chums the world over; the irony of Norminton’s charges quoted above would be funny if it weren’t so sad.

    The people in the lead against AGW hysterics btw – which you continue to mislabel climate change – are not angry anonymous bloggers, they happen to be scientists and academics specialising in the relevant disciplines relating to climate science, you know atmospheric physics, geophysics, solar physics and the analysis of satellite temp data and the like. One will never hear the first thing about the Liepzig Declaration, the Heidelberg Appeal for example from Norminton. Has nothing to do with bloggers I guess, but everything to do with scientists skeptical about AGW, hence the non-references from Normy. These prestigious scientists skeptical about AGW: R Lindzen, R Spencer, S McIntyre, F Singer, the late T Landscheit, T Ballings, N A Mörner, Z Jaworowski, S Baliunas, W Soon, D Legates, J Christy, P Michaels, Vince Gray, Tim Patterson, P Copper, James O’Brien, Ian Clark, Tad Murty Chris Essex, Ian Plimer, Gary Sharp, Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen (glad she’s retired now? Haughton certainly is – see ClimateGate for details), Peter Dietze, Petr Chylek, George Taylor, K Sherwood, Hans Erren, A Moene, P Brekke, S-I Akasofu, Hendrik Tennekes, John Brosnahan, the late R Pocklington and plenty more, plenty.. They are the ones you have to answer Norminton.

    You don’t even acknowledge what they are saying, or who they are. All you can do is cast sinister ad hominems their way, what else does “… the science and politics of climate change are all in the pay of Big Carbon – but they are very definitely being played by them” mean?

    The above scientists skeptical of AGW the world over who just happen to specialise in disciplines relating to climate science and so many others that I haven’t even mentioned weren’t the ones exposed as wifully fudging with the temperature data in order to sell the ‘hockey stick’, the keystone of GW hysterics, disappearing relevant e-mails into the digital black hole and thus sticking the finger to transparency, ethics and scientific protocol. It was all the lying cynical scientists at the CRU you look up to and whose opinions you parrot, hey Norminton?

    And the cynical lying response from the Liar-in-Chief caught lying goes on, oh what webs we spin and weave..

    Here’s Phil Jones, the fraudulent supremo himself telling his audience at the Guardian it was a simple honest mistake:
    “The use of the term ‘hiding the decline’ was in an email written in haste,”

    As one commentator of this fiasco, journalist James Delingpole put it:
    “Which does make you wonder how the sentence would have read had he just had a little longer to type it correctly. “Hiding the sausage?” “Heeding the decline?” “Playing a straight bat and keeping everything above board and scientifically scrupulous as we always do here at CRU”. Yes, that’ll be it – the last one. But you can see how easily the slip was made.”

    As Elle put it above re Norminton:
    “Surely you knew the argument would be lost when you invoked Godwin’s Law, especially in front of intelligent and articulate students who had expected a sensible debate.”

    I might add that Norminton lost it entirely when he cited Wikipedia, excusing it as non-academic article as Normy does, doesn’t change the fact that Norminton has cited Wikipedia as a reliable source on a scientific controversy.

    Hey Norminton and Prospect Mag, ClimateGate?

    Do you have anything to add to this squirming and spiderweb spinning of Phil Jones, Norminton old boy? Is anybody out there, I wonder can you hear me, is anybody home?

    I eagerly await Prosepct Mag’s special issue on ClimateGate with baited breath…

    On the other hand, maybe not. I think the odds on my dating Natalie Portman in this lifetime are slightly higher than the honchos at Prospect Mag admitting they have been duped.

  22. December 1, 2009

    Louis

    Wow, what a poor looser you are! Your article speaks volumes about you, and it ain’t good. Why the need to revert to name calling, to demonise your opposition? You went to argue on a topic with people who were better informed than you. By your own account, some better qualified too. So what did you expect, that your devotion would carry you through? Better next time you have those answers that you didn’t have on the day.

    BTW Kevin Rudd’s speech was about as shamefull as yours. He bascially claimed anyone who didn’t believe in global warming – or more to the point, his response [ETS] to it – a child murderer or holocaust denier. If it’s credibility you are looking for, don’t side yourself with PM Kevin Rudd.

  23. December 1, 2009

    Gregory Norminton

    Oh, where to start?

    Louis, you haven’t read the article with your brain engaged; if you had, you might have noticed that it is critical of my behaviour at the debate. I lost my cool and that’s part of the point of my confession. On the substance of my position, however, I was (unhappily) on the side of reality. I dearly wish you lot were right about global warming; but since the evidence overwhelmingly refutes your wishful thinking, I consider it my duty as a citizen to act against the coming horror. And it is horror.

    http://climateprogress.org/2009/09/28/uk-met-office-catastrophic-climate-change-could-happen-with-50-years/

    Now Lawrence. My article went off the front page of Prospect’s website before the CRU hack. I had nothing to do with this; indeed, I was disappointed to find the piece no longer readily available. Having said that, it is a normal process for a current affairs journal to bump up new material. Older posts get shunted off the front page. That’s just the way things go.

    As for the CRU debacle, I cannot improve on the considered writing on offer here:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSN23263425

    Or here, from the scientist one ‘sceptic’ in this thread has attempted to co-opt for his fantasies:

    http://www.desmogblog.com/michael-mann-his-own-words-stolen-cru-emails

    One of your likely betes-noire, Lawrence, George Monbiot, showed a degree of honesty unheard of in his opponents when he wrote: “Climate scientists should not let themselves be goaded by the irresponsibility of the deniers into overstating the certainties of complex science or, worse, censoring discussion of them.” I happen to agree. Scientists must hold to the highest standards of integrity and it looks like the CRU’s Phil Jones failed to do so on a couple of occasions. It is, however, a stretch too far to pretend that the CRU leaks (a politically motivated crime, lest we forget) constitute a ‘smoking gun’ for a global conpiract to hoax the world. The website REAL CLIMATE has updated vast amounts of peer-reviewed science from around the planet. It comes from many places other than East Anglia, is all in the public doman and can be perused here:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/data-sources/

    When it comes to ‘Climate Gate’, twelve years of stolen emails failed to show any evidence of a global conspiracy, of vested interests leaning on or manipulating science, of George Soros or any army of ingenious left-wing ideologues paying for the research that suited them (I have, incidentally, yet to hear a coherent theory of the motivation for such a conspiracy. Why would anyone bother?). The evidence of vested interests behind the ‘sceptic’ position is, on the other hand, vast:

    http://www.publicintegrity.org/investigations/global_climate_change_lobby/bingo-lobbyists/

    In your attempt to give your theories a gloss of scientific validity, Lawrence, you cite the ‘Leipzig Declaration’. This was made 14 years ago with support from key right-wing organisations like the Heritage Foundation; of the 33 European signers, 4 could not be located, twelve denied ever having signed and some had not even heard of the Declaration which they were supposed to have endorsed. The Danish journalist Øjvind Hesselager went on to discover that the verified signers included a medical doctor and an entomologist. All of the key data on which this sham of a declaration was based has since been discredited. That you resort to dragging out its corpse is more than telling.

    As for the Heidelberg Appeal – which is getting on now to twenty years old! – it is not a declaration against global warming but an appeal for good scientific method. That industry-paid shills like Fred Singer (also instrumental in the Leipzig Declaration) should cite it in their rhetoric is regrettable, as no reputable scientist would quibble with the central concern for reasoned, evidence-based policy: the very thing coming out of the IPCC and every single national scientific academy on the planet. Your ragtag bunch of names does not and cannot compete with these reputabe institutions.

    Now, if you insist on crediting the small minority of IPCC climatologists who take the contrarian view to the overwhelming majority of their colleagues, there is nothing I can do to dissuade you. I, however, choose to dwell on the balance of probability: that we are causing abrupt climate change and only we can avert the worst of its consequences. Forget the moral duty to do this: it’s in the interests of our children that we act. I for one don’t want to have to look mine in the eyes thirty years hence and say that I did nothing – or worse, that I did all I could to hasten the misery of the world. Perhaps a small, bludgeoned voice inside of you, Lawrence and Louis, feels the same; which may be why a future cultural historian of the internet will find you withholding your full names in this correspondence.

  24. December 3, 2009

    Lawrence

    Gregory, you keep spinning your wheels in the mud. Denial is not a river huh?

    When Leon Festinger and colleagues wrote their classic treatise that became the basis for the landmark and pioneering psychological theory of cognitive dissonance, “When prophecy fails” in the mid 1950s – about a flying saucer cult and its predictions for doomsday that of course never materialised and the subsequent rationalisations of the dissillusioned true believers in the wake of the failure for the saucers to land; well who could have predicted those decades ago the particular delusional pseudo-religious cult of global warming that has literally hundreds of millions in its thrall (or so it would seem), that would reach fever pitch hysteria bringing to mind messianic end-of-times cults in medieval Europe, that would make those of us who still are compis mentis, nostalgic for the quaint misguided flying saucer believers waiting in the countryside and the beaches for the Venusians and their brothers from the Galactic Federation to arrive to save us from ourselves? Who could have predicted this global warming cult back then and seen the nature of the cognitive dissonance of the true believers like Norminton when their high priesthood, the self-appointed College of Cardinals at the CRU itself, are exposed as liars and cheats, who now have about as much credibilility as mid-Western televangelist hucksters? At least those flying saucer dudes didn’t bore us to tears, it was all quite fascinating and they didn’t hijack the UN, scam taxpayers for billions and Scientific American, the New Scientist and the media at large largely ignored them, instead of broadcasting relentlessly their science fiction as science fact. Nobody thought of nominating never mind awarding a Nobel peace prize to George Adamski and Howard Menger of flying saucer contactee fame and at least they were anything but boring, unlike Gore the Bore. And global warming hysterics is one such pseudo-religious cult masquerading as science if ever there was one. I know this irony is lost on you, Gregory, what can I say?

    The above post of yours Gregory is a perfect example of such dissonance in action, in order to draw attention away from ClimateGate and what it reveals about your high priesthood whose AGW liturgy you echo, you simply indugle in the same ol’ ad hominems ‘Singer is a paid shill for Big Oil’ and rubbish without foundation the names of the AGW skeptical scientists I happen to mention, while merely repeating like a stuck record your adulation for the AGW clergy and their discredited eschatology, whose Pope is Al the Goracle.

    Just one example of your dissonance, Gregory:

    “Your ragtag bunch of names does not and cannot compete with these reputabe institutions.”

    How are the names of some of the most prestigious names in climate science, “ragtag”? Oh wait I get it, they aren’t on your side. As for reputable institutions, you mean the CRU whose leading lights have been discredited by ClimateGate?

    Your rubbishing of the Leipzig Decleration I should have seen coming, you ignore all the scientist signatories whose specialist diciplines pertain to climate science. if I bring up the Oregon Institute Petition you would simply indugle in argumentun ad hominem against Singer again, and Arthur Robinson for that matter. The only “science” that has been discredited has been AGW, that’s what ClimateGate is about, despite your denials. What do you think “hide the decline” means? The AGW skeptics have been vindicated, hence the Leipzig Declaration has been vindicated, by declining temperatures in the twenty-first century and by your side’s desperate attempt to censor and cover-up and fudge the temp data that reveals as much and more. Hence ClimateGate. Sigh. That’s the whole deal which you try to distract from by blabbering on about “vested interests” (it’s actually the other way around).

    Norminton sinks into the bog with this claptrap:
    “When it comes to ‘Climate Gate’, twelve years of stolen emails failed to show any evidence of a global conspiracy, of vested interests leaning on or manipulating science, of George Soros or any army of ingenious left-wing ideologues paying for the research that suited them (I have, incidentally, yet to hear a coherent theory of the motivation for such a conspiracy. Why would anyone bother?).”

    So much straw-man nonsense above.
    Nobody is accusing the likes of Phil Jones, Mann, Osborn and others at CRU and elsewhere of a global conspiracy or Soros and left-wing ideologues paying for the research that suited them. Don’t you even know what ClimateGate is about? I give an overly brief mention in my post above, nowhere did I mention a global conspiracy or George Soros. The manipulating of the science was ACTUALLY DONE by the likes of Jones, osborn and colleagues. I know it may be difficult for you to understand Greg, but they do have their motives, namely their reputations, careers, continued funding, egos. Too hard for you to understand? Just because they were not being forced to manipulate the science by the Illuminati Lizardoid aliens [insert your favourite scapegoat] in the background does not mean they themselves did not manipulate the data. They did, their cover was blown – hence ClimateGate. You have yet to hear of a coherent theory of the motivation for such a global conspiracy put forward by skeptics because no knowledgeable AGW skeptic has put such a conspiracy theory forward and never will. It’s just something you dreamed up as a straw-man distraction, in your cognitive dissonance meltdown. You are the one who sees a Big Oil conspiracy behind AGW, talk about projection…

    Really Gregory, all those scientists I mention by name in my post above, skeptical of AGW, are motivated by being paid off by Big Oil? Yeah that’s right, Lindzen and Pat Michaels, R Spencer, Plimer, Vince Gray and S McIntyre, Jaworowski and the rest are getting big money from Shell, BP and Exxon Mobil. Of course all you have Norminton is absurd conspiracy accusations, because when you look past it, you have nothing. You don’t address who these scientists are, their background, their expertise, except to dismiss them as “ragtag”, which is laughable; nor do you address what they are actually saying (do you even know?). Until you address what they actually say without misrepresenting it, it’s hard, to take you seriously. Address what they ACTUALLY SAY, then even if you disagree with them, you will get my respect. However by the very fact that you speak of “climate change denial” like all the rest, this means you misrepresent completely everything AGW skepticism is about at the outset as I made clear in my first post. So I’m not holding my breath waiting for you to acknowledge what the opposition actually say, and for obvious reasons.

    Norminton again, amusingly:
    “Perhaps a small, bludgeoned voice inside of you, Lawrence and Louis, feels the same; which may be why a future cultural historian of the internet will find you withholding your full names in this correspondence.”

    It’s a very very small voice inside of you, Gregory that deep down knows AGW is a load of crock. If you didn’t, there would be no irrational lashing out in the first place. I don’t think any “future culture historian of the internet” is going to have anything to say about this thread on Prospect Mag, out of the millions and millions of them on the worldwide web, added to by the tens of thousands every day I’m sure. However future historian of science and social historians of science will have much to say about the massive swindle that is AGW and its cultural dynamics, but that is another story for another day…

    Norminton, I’m aware of Monbiot’s commendable statements on ClimateGate. And how does that count in the favour of AGW exactly? Am I missing something? Monbiot admits so many of the scientists he put his faith in are crooks who have been fudging the data, and yet you invert all this, and take it as some kind of vindication for your side! Norminton really now.

    You express perplexity at what the possible motives/vested interests for an AGW swindle could be? Your wilful ignorance of the vested interests (including Big Government – read taxpayer – funding in the US and UK to the tune of billions of dollars over the decades on research to prove AGW) behind AGW hysterics and its cultural and ideological dynamics is to be expected from somebody who obtusely and dishonestly speaks of AGW skeptics as climate change deniers. There are numerous interests. Tens of thousands of jobs around the world are dependent on selling global warming hysterics. Without such hysteria, lots of people lose their jobs and funding.

    The IPCC is UN appointed and run, the UN is a body of despots, crooks and gangsters I hope you do not hold in high esteem Norminton. The fact that the UN oversees and controls the whole IPCC should set alarm bells ringing. Not with Norminton. Read the chapter on Technical Transfer in the IPCC Assessment Reports, the scam is all in the fine print. Here’s a clue – it’s about taxpayers in rich (or formerly rich) nations like the US, Canada, Europe, UK, Japan “compensating” Third World despotic regimes by coughing up billions of dollars for the “costs” of solar activity ie climate change. It’s there in black and white, no conspiracy, quite a naked scam the media abrogated from reporting. It’s a way for Third World regimes who have already looted their treasuries and reserve banks and the taxpayers of rich nations through the scam of world aid (while their people frequently go hungry) to loot billions more, again from the taxpayers of rich nations.

    There is also the nuclear power lobby which has a vested interest in selling AGW hysteria. Thought that one was obvious. There is an irony to that, namely the beginning of the sell of AGW in the UK under Thatcher and her push for nuclear power at the expense of coal (remember all the striking miners and Thatcher’s war with the unions?). It was in her govt’s interests to undermine coal power with nuclear power benefitting in the wake of the strikes. So you have bought into a 1980s Thatcherite conservative agenda Norminton, irony over your head, way over I know. Why did it become a leftwing political agenda? A number of reasons (having nothing to do with money), everything to do with ideology, none of these factors I have the time to get into and elucidate on right now, all of these leftwing sociological factors that motivate the zeal behind AGW hysterics, nothing you would consciously know anything about Norminton. Even though these factors motivate you yourself, it’s entirely subconscious.

    Norminton again:
    “Now, if you insist on crediting the small minority of IPCC climatologists who take the contrarian view to the overwhelming majority of their colleagues, there is nothing I can do to dissuade you”

    Firstly, argument from consensus aka argumentum ad numerum like the similar argumentum ad populum is not a scientific argument. Science, if it is genuine science, stand or falls on its own merits or lack of, not by how many scientists support a specific hypothesis or theory. If we were to go by the majority decisions in science, we would never have got very far. Secondly some of the most highly regarded scientists promoting AGW hysterics who sit on the IPCC are the ones implicated in ClimateGate. No worries to Norminton though. Thirdly, the summary statements of the IPCC Assessment Reports have been written up by beauracrats, not scientists – that’s because it’s all about politics, not science. That’s just one reason why the IPCC cannot be taken seriously.

    Also the assumptions of AGW made by the IPCC rest largely on the Mann hockey stick, which only stands because the temperature data has been fudged with by scientists engaging in chicanery and non-disclosure of data, as ClimateGate bears out most emphatically. In other words the “proof” of AGW that that IPCC sells to the world rests on a temperature graph that is seriously discredited by ClimateGate (and not only this scandal..hardly), yet Norminton continues to push the IPCC’s political “findings” as if ClimateGate has nothing to do with it, when it has everything to do with it, and is another nail in the coffin of IPCC “science”. Or to put it another way – Norminton does not acknowledge what ClimateGate is about at all, as if it is some scandal on the fringe having nothing to do with the central claims of AGW “science” and its most respected proponents, when the deceit and cover-ups that define ClimateGate are central to the claims of the IPCC AGW crowd. In other words, looking behind all the sound and fury of Norminton, there is nothing there, no recognition of what ClimateGate is about at all, since he continues to trumpet like the true believer he is the claims of the UN IPCC on global warming as if the rug has not been swept out from under him. Talk about a naked emperor.

    The IPCC like any UN body is political. The final conclusions are politically driven. It’s become a great industry in itself and if the whole global warming farrago collapsed, there would an awful lot of people out of jobs and looking for work.” Philip Scott Dept of Biogeography University of London.

    “This claim that the IPCC is the worlds top 1500 or 2500 scientists: you look at the bibliographies of the people and it is simply not true. There are quite a number of non-scientists. Those people that are specialists but don’t agree with the polemic and resign, and there are a number of them I know of, they are simply put on the author list and become part of this “2500 of the worlds top scientists”. We have a vested interest in causing panic, because then, money will flow to climate science.” Prof Paul Reiter IPCC and Pasteur Institute of Paris.

    What difference does it make if you know my surname or not btw? If it is Brown, Green or Edelstein, Fukiyama or Fajitas, does it matter?

    Bug-eyed fanatic alright. There’s a clue Norminton that you inadvertently give to one of those psychological motives you remain oblivious to, religious zeal. Everybody needs something to give meaning to their lives, Norminton like his pontiff Al Gore has found his – pity his holy grail is a phantom.

  25. December 7, 2009

    Jon Norton

    What I don’t understand is why either Gregory Norminton or Christopher Monckton were on the bill in the first place, regardless of how “passionate about the environment” they might feel. Whether man-made global warming exists and what can be done about it are serious technical questions. What authority did either gentleman speak with?

    If the answer is that they are “unbiased intelligent investigators” or similar, then did they actually put the hours in to check the data and evidences for themselves?

  26. December 7, 2009

    Gregory Norminton

    Jon Norton, I agree with you. Neither Monckton nor I are qualified to discuss the complex science of climate change. As it happens, the original terms of the debate were not the ones on which it eventually took place. I signed up to speak for the motion ‘This House would enact a green revolution’: a debate for which, as a citizen like any other, and one much involved in green issues, I had a contribution to make. Unfortunately, the Debating Society either failed to find speakers against this motion, or the people whom they approached refused to address it and demanded instead a rehash of the ‘is-there-or-isn’t-there-a-problem’ argument which scientists put to bed years ago. (http://climateprogress.org/2009/12/07/climategate-american-meteorological-society-reaffirms-warming-humans-have-significantly-contributed-to-this-climate-change/#more-15178). By the time I found out that the motion had changed, it was too late to back out.

    As it happens, I have no doubt that this sort of back and forth is a waste of time – and said so on the night. Science is not up for debate outside of the normal processes of peer review and the collation of observable data. Everything else is politics.

    I regret that we are still at this stage. But any glance at The Economist or the FT will make it plain that big business (with the exception of Big Carbon, which bankrolls the deniers and jets them around the world) accepts the science, as do the insurance companies, and they are clamouring for action: a framework for the future of global finance.

    In short, how we adapt to reality is worth debating, not whether or not we choose to believe in it.

  27. December 9, 2009

    Lawrence

    Norminton:
    “I regret that we are still at this stage. But any glance at The Economist or the FT will make it plain that big business (with the exception of Big Carbon, which bankrolls the deniers and jets them around the world) accepts the science, as do the insurance companies, and they are clamouring for action: a framework for the future of global finance.”

    Norminton seems to think that the opinions of the mainstream media on a subject – the climate and its dynamics – of which their scientific illiterate editors and journalists know nothing, actually counts for something. And more to the point, big business and the insurance companies, would know more know the first thing about the real facts over AGW claims than they would about the technicalities of booster rockets on NASA space shuttles. Why would they?

    Norminton as I point out above continues to repeat his slander like a stuck record about “deniers” being bankrolled by sinister business interests. That’s right Norminton, Lindzen at MIT, Ian Plimer, Vince Gray, J Christy, S McIntyre, Robert Balling Jr, Kenneth Green, Fred Michel, Roger Peilke, Philip Stott, Nir Shaviv, Gary Sharp, George Taylor, Sonja Boehmer, Sherwood Idso, Petr Chylek, Syun-Ichi Akasofu director of the International Arctic Research Center, Hans Erren, Asmunn Moene and the rest are all driving around in new expensive German sedans and have bought holidays homes in Malibu and the Hamptons thanks to the bankrolling of “Big Carbon”. Can you back up with REAL EVIDENCE Norminton the slander that the ACTUAL AGW skeptic scientists I mention BY NAME ABOVE are being bankrolled by ‘Big Carbon’? No didn’t think so. Would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. Norminton, it’s obvious, has no idea what these scientists are even saying about climate change, doesn’t want to know even. He can’t be bothered to find out, like a religious fanatic not wanting to know about any heresy from the Faith. It’s why you would never hear the first thing about the actual FACTS about ClimateGate from Norminton. Norminton you are so in over your head here.

    As to who jets around the world, wow I wonder how all the AGW priests and their fawning acolytes got to Copenhagen for their religous council and how it was paid for? No less than one hundred and forty private jets transporting the faithful to the Vatican oh sorry Copenhagen.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/copenhagen-climate-change-confe/6736517/Copenhagen-climate-summit-1200-limos-140-private-planes-and-caviar-wedges.html There’s that projection again Gregory.

    Norminton’s rant – facts be damned, stick your fingers in your ears and chant your political and religious mantra, no matter how discredited. To those of you with intelligence reading this (I hope there are some), note how Norminton continues to speak of “deniers” even though I have shown this up to be a big lie on my very first post and my previous post, that the ones he calls deniers are climate change affirmers; but he can’t acknowledge even this simple fact of course because his whole religion will come crashing down on him if he did. So he just keeps up with his lying mantra about
    ‘climate change deniers’ as if his lie hasn’t been shown up for what it is on this very thread – repeatedly. Cognitive dissonance, like I said. Explains the projection.

    It’s appropriate that the latest GW religious council is taking place in Copenhagen btw, it’s where Hans Christian Anderson wrote the Emperor’s New Clothes in the 1830s.

  28. December 9, 2009

    Gregory Norminton

    Because every word I write makes Lawrence froth at the mouth, I’ll simply leave these links for him to ignore and others to follow.

    1. IT’S REALLY HAPPENING

    http://www.wmo.int/pages/mediacentre/press_releases/pr_869_en.html

    http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2009/20091208_globalstats.html

    http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2009/1204climate_statement.shtml

    2. PEOPLE ARE SUFFERING NOW – AND WE ALL WILL SOON ENOUGH

    http://www.panda.org/about_our_earth/aboutcc/problems/people_at_risk/

    http://en.cop15.dk/climate+facts/what+consequences+can+we+expect/the+consequences+are+already+visable

    http://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/198/40119.html

    3. EVEN IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BELIEVE CO2 IS CAUSING GLOBAL WARMING, RELEASING EVER MORE OF IT IS STILL A DISASTER

    http://na.oceana.org/en/our-work/climate-energy/ocean-acidification/overview

    http://ioc3.unesco.org/oanet/index.html

    http://www.thelancet.com/series/health-and-climate-change

    3. ‘CLIMATEGATE’

    http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/energy-a-environment/70903-climategate-the-phony-scandal

    http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1946082,00.html

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v462/n7273/full/462545a.html

    4. WE CAN DO IT!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/07/opinion/07krugman.html?_r=2&emc=eta1

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/sci;326/5958/1350?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=Brazilian+Amazon+Nepstad&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT

    http://www.bismarcktribune.com/news/opinion/editorial/article_2f78a208-df75-11de-a2ca-001cc4c002e0.html

    http://www.wvmetronews.com/index.cfm?func=displayfullstory&storyid=33928

    Sorry for the ugly look of all these links. They are what I pulled off the net in ten minutes. An hour would have yielded dozens more – from the most reputable sources in science and politics.

    Okay, Lawrence, you can look again. Get typing!

  29. December 11, 2009

    Lawrence

    Norminton who admits to being a bug-eyed fanatic writes:
    “Because every word I write makes Lawrence froth at the mouth…”

    Norminton, what have I told you, there’s that projection again.

    when you type everything up in capslock, it is THE SAME AS SHOUTING or basically frothing at the mouth. It’s like a Christian fanatic screaming JESUS SAVES because you know if he screams it and screams it long enough, it becomes true. THE SEAS ARE RISING, THE ICE IS MELTING THE CO2 IS TOO MUCH REPENT REPENT THE END IS NEAR. Same thing – in both cases true believers. In both cases frothing at the mouth.

    Hey Norminton I would never know the actual facts and seriousness of ClimateGate going by your ‘damage control’ links. Almost laughable if this fiasco wasn’t so scary.

    Norminton seems to think a convincing scientific argument is made by pulling weblinks out of a hat and simply and desperately remarking that these are the best and most reputable sources in science and politics. ‘Cause Norminton and the other faithful say so. So there you go! None of your links, including the Nature and AAAS ones address who the AGW skeptics actually are nor what they are actually saying about climate change, the ACTUAL temperature records of the last century and prior to that, the dubiousness of computer models, the actual facts about co2 and other GHGs
    in the atmosphere, their actual known correlations with temperatures and climate, the dubiousness of UN politicking in science and more. Do you really think we don’t know that the media (NY Times included) and the mainstream science journals (including Nature and Science) and the AAAS aren’t in the tank for AGW? Don Kennedy the senior editor at Science, the flaship journal of the AAAS has long been a GW hysteric, and runs his mag accordingly. What else is new?

    Despite your frothing at the mouth – IT’S REALLY HAPPENING – uh no it isn’t, temp records for the twenty first century so far show a levelling off and a slight cooling even.

    As Chris Booker put it in the Telegraph re ClimateGate:

    “There are three threads in particular in the leaked documents which have sent a shock wave through informed observers across the world. Perhaps the most obvious, as lucidly put together by Willis Eschenbach (see McIntyre’s blog Climate Audit and Anthony Watt’s blog Watts Up With That), is the highly disturbing series of emails which show how Dr Jones and his colleagues have for years been discussing the devious tactics whereby they could avoid releasing their data to outsiders under freedom of information laws. They have come up with every possible excuse for concealing the background data on which their findings and temperature records were based.

    “This in itself has become a major scandal, not least Dr Jones’s refusal to release the basic data from which the CRU derives its hugely influential temperature record, which culminated last summer in his startling claim that much of the data from all over the world had simply got “lost”. Most incriminating of all are the emails in which scientists are advised to delete large chunks of data, which, when this is done after receipt of a freedom of information
    request, is a criminal offence.”

    As I put it, Jones, the director at CRU has been caught lying about these deletions as well.

    From Investors.com – The CRU’s Criminal Conspiracy:

    “The CRU scientists, and we use that word reluctantly, had no fondness for transparency and full disclosure. In a
    December 2008 e-mail to Ben Santer, himself responsible for a controversial rewriting of the 1995 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, CRU director Phil Jones wrote: “When the FOI requests began here, the FOI person said we had to abide by the requests. It took a couple of half-hour sessions — one at a screen, to convince
    them otherwise.

    “In regard to one particularly pesky FOI request, Jones said: “About 2 months ago I deleted loads of e-mails, so have very little — if anything at all.” Yet in an interview published last Tuesday in the Guardian, Jones told another story: “We’ve not deleted any e-mails or data here at CRU. I would never manipulate the data one bit — I would categorically deny that.

    “In one exchange, Jones tells Penn State’s Michael Mann: ‘If they ever hear there’s a Freedom of Information Act in the U.K., I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone.” He even asks Mann to join him in deleting e-mail exchanges about an IPCC assessment report: “Can you delete any e-mails you may have had with Keith re: (the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report)?’ ”

    Let me add this, how about this e-mail from Tom Wigley, never knowing his e-mail would go public:

    “And the issue of with-holding data is still a hot potato, one that affects both you and Keith (and Mann). Yes, there are reasons – but many *good* scientists appear to be unsympathetic to these. The trouble here is that with-holding data looks like hiding something, and hiding means (in some eyes) that it is bogus science that is being hidden.”

    There is much much more…

    The fact is that Norminton merely shrugs at the wilful non-disclosure and deliberate fudging and manipulation of temp data by indisputably some of the leading scientist proponents of AGW in the world, as well as the subsequent deletions of raw data when pressed to release it under FOI requests which is both criminal and unethical, and Jones then lying about it, is of no big import. Yes well when the faithful are confronted with facts that contradict their
    shaky faith, sound the trumpets ever louder – REPENT REPENT THE END IS NIGH.

    And since when is climate change man-made, I mean after billions of years of natural climate change? Oh yes since the politicisation of science. Your reverance for respectable authority, Nature and the AAAS on this front, we already know Norminton. Argumentum ad vericundium aka the argument from authority is not a scientific argument. Really it isn’t. Story-telling, even story-telling with the imprimatur of the journals Nature and Science and the like doesn’t make it any less bogus for all that. All the worse for Nature and the AAAS. The politicisation and corruption of Big Science. Tell me something I don’t know. Evidence please? Oh wait we are talking about a faith here, religion and politics, not science. So who needs evidence?

    I could likewise put up dozens of links here to AGW skepticism, you would ignore it all Norminton and continue like the true believer you are, telling us that the sky is falling. Here’s just one well-known blog which Norminton will ignore or rubbish, but to those who are not frothing at the mouth fearing the end-times, it gives a good overview of the case for AGW skepticism and the chicanery and hysterics of the global warming faithful from one of the leading lights on the sane side of the debate, Steve McIntyre
    http://climateaudit.org/ and it’s continually updated.

    I see the Faith Council in Copenhagen is spouting out all sorts of predictable religious nonsense (in the name of science of course), like next year is going to be the hottest EVER, according to the British Met. They know, they can see into the future apparently when we have always failed to predict weather patterns even as little as a month in advance. These guys have precognitive powers apparently. They are at the wrong conference, they should be at one on parapsychology. Hey they have their agenda, makeover national economies and industry for the new end-times religion,
    so do what you gotta do. The bigger the lie, the more people will believe it – the cynical liars at the Met know that much. The morons in the media lap it all up. The blind leading the blind. Human history proves it again and again, consult ‘Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds’ by Charles Mackay, published in 1841. Nothing has changed, and probably never will…

    Gregory I am still waiting for evidence for you slander that the AGW skeptic scientists I mention by name above are being paid off by Big Carbon. I take it by the fact that you didn’t even attempt to back up that slur with evidence, that you have no problem repeating fact-free slander, essentially an ad hominem in order to draw attention away from what they are actually saying, not that you know of course – since it entirely discredits AGW hysteria. But then the fact that you have misrepresented them by calling them ‘climate change deniers’ (the equivalent of a religious fanatic deriding those who don’t share his delusions as devil worshippers) and continued to do so, even after I called you out on it, really means one can’t take you seriously. Like your messiah Al the GoreAcle.

    You know according to the Faith of Mann-made Global Warming, one must make a pilgrimmage at least once in a lifetime to a Climate Change Conference and circle the messiah Al the Bore. Are you upset Gregory that you didn’t get to go on one of those one hundred and forty private jets to the Faith Conference in Copenhagen? Well there’s always the next one..

    Gregory let’s see where we are in five years, ten years time, if this thread is still extant on a server, and we can pick up where we left off…. (assuming we are both still around, I hope) I bet you will be looking real ridiculous by then, but then you already do, naturally you don’t see it. You have to be outside the circle of AGW insanity. No doubt, the global Islamic jihad will continue to gather apace, unemployment, pervasive economic woes and political scandals will continue to mar our societies, more violence and social unrest and broken communities. What of the elephant in the room that AGW criminally distracts us from as far as ecology/environmentalism is concerned? Namely the ongoing mass extinction of plant and animal life on land and in sea – particularly through deforestation and overfishing – as a consequence of human overpopulation, impoverishment, greed and political incompetence, corruption and apathy. All of these human tragedies I mention, and many I haven’t, made worse by distraction and focus and resources diverted to the swindle that is the third-rate religion of AGW.

  30. December 16, 2009

    Douglas German

    So, I’m not going to read all the comments. If somebody else has already made these points, forgive me.

    First off, we need more Alban Carters in the world and less Gregory Normingtons. Everything Alban says is insightful and unbiased. Gregory, on the other hand, is exactly the same person he is denouncing in this article.

    Second, Greg, your fifth point, “avoid Nazi analogies,” is good advice. That Dr. Mengele was a scientist does not lessen the credibility of scientists in the AGW skeptic camp, rather it lessens the credibility (at least rhetorically) of all scientists everywhere.

    The more insidious Nazi analogy you should be avoiding is calling man-made climate change skeptics “deniers.” Who first started referring to skeptics as “deniers” is unimportant. It has been adopted (almost overnight) by hardliner AGW proponents because of the implicit association with holocaust denial. You profane the memory of holocaust victims when you so casually associate the despicable denial of their hardship with a group you are opposed to for mere rhetorical gain. Calling skeptics “deniers” has nothing to do with the science at issue.

    Finally, it’s worth mentioning that believing in a point of view and actively excluding from your Weltanschauung anything that disagrees with it is more akin to religious faith than scientific argument. And this applies to both sides. Projecting your own shortcomings onto you opponent does not equal good science.

  31. December 16, 2009

    gpc31

    You lost the debate and console yourself with the writer’s revenge, i.e. you insist on having the last word. Lame.

    L’esprit de l’escalier, my friend.

  32. December 17, 2009

    a dood

    The problem with AGW true-believers, is that they want to cripple and control billions of people by destroying their productive lifestyles, all based on massaged data, incomplete science (what’s a sunspot? durrr), ridiculous scare tactics, unpredictable models, refusal to acknowledge Earth’s continually changing natural climate (that has had extreme heating and cooling for millions of years before Man came on the scene), topped off with insults and refusal to admit any possibility that they might, just maybe, be completely out of line to want to make all humans pay a tax on carbon dioxide, which is, in the end, nothing more than delicious, nutritious, plant food.

    So yeah, now that what’s going on behind the scenes has come into light, people are getting pissed, and I think rightfully so.

  33. December 17, 2009

    a dood

    I agree with Douglas German. ‘Deniers’ is as vicious as “tea baggers” and you know it.

  34. December 17, 2009

    John Glennon

    I think that the sad point about this whole climate change debate is that it is somewhat pointless and pretty much a fool’s errand.

    If we accept that CO2 and other so called greenhouse gasses have a half life of about 100 years – which I believe that no parties to this debate disagree with – and also that total greenhouse gas emissions cannot realistically be stopped from increasing in the foreseeable future then we are all already damned as we cannot halt the doomsday scenarios of the AGW lobby!

    As much as I agree that we should not be polluting our atmosphere any more than absolutely necessary, this is hardly the burning issue that we need to address to protect our world for the next immediate generations.

    This current media driven hysterical focus on AGW simply obfuscates the real pressing issues that we can actually do something about now (rather than 100 years hence). Again, I don’t think any of the parties to the AGW debate would disagree that we are unsustainably raping our oceans, polluting our global fresh water supplies, clear felling rainforest and generally exhausting our natural resources.

    If the AGW debate is allowed to continue its momentum and own centre stage on the global political agenda, it will end up misdirecting scare capital resources, in the form of additional taxes, from rich first countries to poor third world countries with almost no overall impact on greenhouse gas emissions and undoubtedly much of this money would be squandered to no tangible benefit. Inevitably; these enormous resources would be far better employed for the whole of mankind by using them to save and better manage our residual natural resources before they reach their own tipping point – which will be significantly sooner than 100 years from now.

    The obvious risk of the AGW focus is that in (maybe) 100 years time when we’ve finally stabilized the heavens, there will be nothing left down on earth worth saving.

  35. December 19, 2009

    ELIZABETH_ROBERTS

    The muted outcome of the Copenhagen conference was because AGW was holed below the waterline by ClimateGate, and the world’s leaders knew it. (It didn’t help, that it was held in December.)

  36. December 20, 2009

    just george

    Logically, if the \science is settled\ then the case for global warming should be so strong that such debates should be child’s play. Perhaps you would do well to consider that the reason for your lack of success has nothing to do with theatrics, and everything to do with the idea that the climate change \deniers\ might actually be correct.

  37. January 11, 2010

    Pure Bunk

    Great hit piece.

    I was actually hoping it would contain a shred of evidence toward your point of view.

    Sadly, I finished reading, unfulfilled.

  38. January 12, 2010

    Gregory Norminton

    ‘Pure Bunk’ – and the rest of you wishful-thinkers – as my final contribution to this dying thread, here are samples of the evidence you pretend not to find for manmade global warming. From the EDF:

    A study published in the journal Science reports that the current level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere – about 390 parts per million – is higher today than at any time in measurable history — at least the last 2.1 million years. Previous peaks of CO2 were never more than 300 ppm over the past 800,000 years, and the concentration is rising by around 2 ppm each year.

    The World Meterological Organization reported that 2000-2009 was the hottest decade on record with 8 of the hottest 10 years having occurred since 2000.
    2009 will end up as one of the 5 hottest years since 1850 and the U.K.’s Met Office predicts that, with a moderate El Nino, 2010 will likely break the record.

    The National Snow and Ice Data Center reported that while a bit more summer Arctic sea ice appeared in 2009 than the record breaking lows of the last two years, it was still well below normal levels. Given that the Arctic ice cover remains perilously thin, it is vulnerable to further melting, posing an ever increasing threat to Arctic wildlife including polar bears.

    The Arctic summer could be ice-free by mid-century, not at the end of the century as previously expected, according to a study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    Recent observations published in the highly respected Nature Geosciences indicate that the East Antarctica ice sheet has been shrinking. This surprised researchers, who expected that only the West Antarctic ice sheet would shrink in the near future because the East Antarctic ice sheet is colder and more stable.

    The U.S. Global Change Research Program completed an assessment of what is known about climate change impacts in the US and reported that, “Climate changes are already observed in the United States and… are projected to grow.” These changes include “increases in heavy downpours, rising temperature and sea level, rapidly retreating glaciers, thawing permafrost, lengthening ice-free seasons in the ocean and on lakes and rivers, earlier snowmelt, and alterations in river flows.”

    According to a report by the US Geological Survey, slight changes in the climate may trigger abrupt threats to ecosystems that are not easily reversible or adaptable, such as insect outbreaks, wildfire, and forest dieback. “More vulnerable ecosystems, such as those that already face stressors other than climate change, will almost certainly reach their threshold for abrupt change sooner.” An example of such an abrupt threat is the outbreak of spruce bark beetles throughout the western U.S. caused by increased winter temperatures that allow more beetles to survive.

    The EPA, USGS and NOAA issued a joint report warning that most mid-Atlantic coastal wetlands from New York to North Carolina will be lost with a sea level rise of 1 meter or more.

    If we do not reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the century, some of the main fruit and nut tree crops currently grown in California may no longer be economically viable, as there will be a lack of the winter chilling they require. And, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S. production of corn, soybeans and cotton could decrease as much as 82%.

    Drop your blinkers. For your kids’ sake: why take the risk of inaction?

  39. August 6, 2010

    Al

    Never mind. At least you made a very funny writeup out of it – it helps to take one’s mind off Russia burning up and Pakistan drowning, for 5 minutes anyway.

  40. December 9, 2011

    Mr. Denialist

    Let me enlighten you why you people fail at proving us wrong. It ‘s simply because you have no fact to bring to the table. Either do or deal with it.

    If you truly believe in science you would know the best scientific theories are the ones who are challenged not the ones who are not.

    Also, revise our dictionary because your term to define us isn’t right.
    Deniers: a person who denies something…
    Skeptics: a person inclined to question or doubt accepted opinions.

    If you can’t provide proof global warming is not a fact. If it’s not a fact we are not denier but skeptics.

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Gregory Norminton

Gregory Norminton's lastest novel is Serious Things (Sceptre) 


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