We can easily win

… the debate. But …

I have been thinking about the debate at St.Andrews. I thought we would get a stronger case from the warmists. Instead, where we did have discussion, our half-heated, ill-prepared, sometime ill-informed, attempts to make our case was making huge inroads into their arguments. It was really like a village football team going along to Celtic straight from the pub and only afterwards realising they drew … as none of the village team had thought to keep a tally of the score.

What surprised me was that Andrew Montford did not cover all the numerous bits of science that show the exaggerated global warming hypothesis is certainly unproven and quite probably disproven.

In no way am I criticising Andrew. He clearly has an expertise in climategate. It does take a certain brass neck, to challenge people who have spent their whole lives on a subject and are utterly convinced they are right and know you are using terminology and ideas which sound like baby talk to them … even if you are right.

But, I came away, feeling that even given the huge odds, given time and a little patience on the other side to listen to my “baby talk” I could certainly have convinced a large number, and likely a majority that the science didn’t support the assertions on the warming induced by CO2. But that is only one part in a long chain of argument that all falls if even one part falls.

If you then examine: the claims of a manmade source for all the CO2, as Prof Salby shows, this is highly suspect. If you examine the supposed effects of warming like reduction in cereal crops or deaths in the UK from heat/cold, again is should be blatantly obvious that the figures are highly distorted. E.g. Scotland is at the Northern margin of wheat production. The idea that wheat would be adversely affected here is fraudulent. Even in warmer climate where it is heat stressed, using a variety adapted to the heat stops eliminates the effects of heat, and anyway any adverse effects of heat is more than offset by the increasing CO2.

Then you take the economic costs. Energy use is a very close proxy to GDP. The two are so intimately entwined that I suggest energy would be a better measure of GDP when e.g. comparing pre-monetary societies or when taking into account inflation which distorts GDP.

So, the very idea we would reduce energy is is tantamount to saying we will reduce GDP. I personally think that would have a lot of benefits, but that should be considered as a policy on its own. But in terms of cost-benefit analysis, there is no doubt that even if all the CO2 increase were manmade, even if the feedback induced warming was as much as predicted, even if all the fraudulent claims about effects were true. The costs of stopping fossil fuel use exceed the benefits.

So, why is no one in Scotland telling the public? I think the answers are various.

  1. Sceptics are sceptical of our own arguments
    Our biggest enemy is our own lack of confidence in our own arguments. By nature we know that there is a chance we are wrong. We are sceptical of other people who are too assured of their case. We aren’t very partisan, so, we are just as cynical about those on our own side and naturally just as sceptical of the sceptics as we are of the warmists. You need a certain belief and self confidence, indeed arrogance to make a case. Sceptics do not like people with self-belief, we prefer to talk to people who are quietly interested in the evidence.
  2. No one is paid to tell the public
    Andrew Montford is the only sceptic in Scotland I know who has any kind of income (Monckton is abroad!). Personally, it’s a hobby likewise most others. Putting together all the information, cross checking it, getting permission for graphics, double checking the facts, it all takes time and effort. Then there is travel expenses, stationary. Having run a business from home, I know the cost of incidentals easily mount up to several hundred a month. The temptation is always there to do more, but I know the costs quickly ramp up and I don’t see why my family should suffer.
  3. The sceptic case is wide ranging
    Atmospheric Physics, Energy, Geology, biology, historical events, archaeological evidence, tree-ring (a science in archaeology), agriculture, economics, philosophy, politics. I can’t see what the problem is that people find this so difficult. On the other hand I’ve done physics, engineering, philosophy, economics, management at degree level. I find it easy to switch between the physics of cloud nucleation to the archaeological evidence for climatic change in the “dark” ages – but how many other people have these skills? Certainly not most academics who are very focussed on one area.
  4. The BBC are completely biased.
    Take e.g. the recent return of Arctic sea ice to normal. What do we find on BBC news … an article trailing David Cameron in the Arctic highlighting the loss of sea ice … referring directly to sea ice as a problem and leaving viewers with the clear impression it remained a problem when the evidence that it is back to normal. The BBC have continually gone well beyond what even the extremist scientists were saying in being overtly and unquestionably pro-warmist . When you have such a dominant news outlet – which large numbers of people still trust – who is so biased, it creates an environment in which evidence based views – common sense, middle of the road views, are seen as extremist.,
  5. The political parties have been dishonest.
    This can largely be ascribed to the bias of the BBC. By creating an environment in which anyone who pointed to the evidence (rather than regurgitating the party doctrine of the BBC) was labelled as extremist, it became very difficult for those politicians who knew there were problems to express this openly. In other words, it was electoral suicide to be honest. Is it fair to criticise them? Is it better to have an honest politician who will never get power, or is it better to have one that is honest in private but dishonest in public – and who has some influence?
  6. Academia have been dishonest.
    The phase I think sums it up was in the debate where the moderator slipped in the phrase “let through” or something similar regarding sceptic research. In other words he entirely endorsed this gatekeeping of sceptic work. I can only assume his logic, but I imagine it is thus: “sceptics are wrong, therefore any work that supports the sceptics must be wrong, therefore it is totally right to keep out false work from scientific journals … and this is proven, because the overwhelming majority of published work does not support the sceptic evidence”. Obviously it’s entirely circular. Moreover, the key job of academia is not to teach a point of view. Points of view change … or at least there used to be progress before the self-reinforcing consensus stopped it … I was going to say, point of view change and therefore what academia must teach is the critical faculties to examine argument and evidence. But, I’m no longer convinced that points of view change in academia. It’s an old notion that things progress … there certainly has been a stagnation since I left University (compared to equivalent earlier periods)
  7. The Sceptics aren’t seen to “care”
    The one thing that binds most sceptics is an interest in the evidence and a lack of interest in what the “consensus” is on a subject. so, what other people think isn’t really that interesting to us. What the evidence is … that excites us. Paradoxically it makes us both the most honest people around, but also the least liked by authority. Indeed, the higher up in society, the more likely someone’s whole conceptual framework is based on status, authority, social links and understanding how to manipulate people. We, on the other hand, are highly immune to manipulation. BBC propaganda claptrap just washes over us. You can’t fool us with a compliment or a promise of being nice. The sceptic, conceptual framework values the evidence, logic and how to manipulate data – not how to influence people. This can come across as being very uncaring. Pointing out that Arctic sea ice is back to normal seems uncaring when someone is passionately concerned with the future of a baby polar bear doesn’t look like we care even though we are right. People can get very attached to the environment and start treating it almost as a relative (I know because I feel that way about my local nature reserve). People with an emotional attachment, don’t respond well to those trying to push hard cold facts. They then try to explain our lack of “care” by e.g. imagining that we are doing it for money. But the truth is that sceptics do really care. They care because they can see people need protecting from the ruthless conmen who are cynically playing on other peoples fears.
  8. Lack of money
    For reasons which may be obvious, sceptics tend to have jobs in engineering and similar jobs. And, it may not have escaped everyone’s notice that Scotland has been doing particularly badly on the engineering front for decades. Indeed, I’m a passionate believer that the lack of status for engineering  is both the route cause of the high predominance of global warming belief in Scotland AND the main cause of the lack of Scottish economic performance. But the main result is that there isn’t a lot of money for sceptics in Scotland. Many engineers have simply left Scotland. Most sceptics are retired, others are “waiting till the recovery in manufacturing”.
  9. There’s no public funding
    What is amazing is that people and particularly Scottish politicians and civil servants think that they can get good information for free. I was at the Scottish Parliamentary Renewable Energy Group when a civil servant asked a room full of people trying to make money out of renewables: “what level of subsidy should we set”. The business person in me said: “the maximum you can get away with”, the taxpayer in me said: “what a corrupt way to set the subsidy”. But this is largely the way the government get their information. They expect lobbyists to supply government with the information. Which bring me onto the next point….
  10. Politicians and Civil servants prefer lobbyists to unbiased free advice
    The amazing thing I’ve learnt over the years, is that civil servants prefer dealing with lobbyists from large organisations and pressure groups rather than unbiased experts who offer their services for free. Indeed, the very fact that someone is doing something “for free” is often used as an excuse to dismiss their contributions. Perhaps they think there is some hidden agenda, perhaps they just can’t imagine anyone being mad enough to have the interests of Scotland at heart.
    Logically, you would imagine that civil servants would try to nurture those who are prepared to help them out for free. Instead, there is an almost impenetrable wall. Whilst in truth, one is usually dealing with a civil servant, there is this pretence that the minister is responding. This means that any response has to toe the party line, that every point has to be countered by the party line, and to be frank it is an utterly pathetic & discouraging exchange which I think is intended to just tell people to go away and not bother the minister again.
    A much better response would have been … thank you, we didn’t quite understand what you were saying on XYZ, I appreciate this will involve extra effort by you, but if you expand on this point a bit with more evidence etc. In other words, encourage a network of people willing to contribute instead of discouraging any except those who are paid to do so.
  11. Pure Bad Luck
    One reason Scotland is out on a limb with next to no opposition to the global warming nonsense is pure bad luck. Scotland has a lot of potential wind resource. It has a particularly antiquated ownership pattern of land with a few rich people owning the wind sites, and the majority population unaffected by them. We then had devolution just as the scare was at its height, and one of the few real powers given to Scottish politicians was the power to erect windmills. Scottish politicians needed to be seeing to be doing something … and with an economy pretty much wrecked by the Thatcher era and very few fiscal instruments, doing a lot to encourage wind energy was one of the few ways to be seeing to make a change. People, the media, the politicians, all wanted to believe this was some miracle to restore Scottish pride. Unfortunately, it has really made us a bit of a laughing stock … but to be fair, that wasn’t obvious in 2001, unless like me you did the research.

So, we could easily win the debate, but I don’t see any way we sceptics can put the resources together to make our case. People have to want the truth, they have to pay for the truth, they have to go out of their way to get the truth. Scotland, Scottish politicians and particularly Scottish Academics don’t want to pay to have a fair debate where the truth will come out.

Or perhaps, it all comes down to this: “the truth hurts”. It will hurt academia, the politicians, the BBC. None of them want the truth to come out … and they certainly do not want to pay people to tell them the truth.

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16 Responses to We can easily win

  1. Dizzy Ringo says:

    Are they listening to Donal Trump?

  2. Evan Highlander says:

    Donal Trump – U mean Duck ? – but seriously I agree – an this is the problem – but as local SNP activist said today that you have to be careful with whom you liase, etc – that’s the dirty side to Politics – so shoot the buggers ! seems that Scotland will be Scotland.,,,,,,, ( sigh )

  3. Eric Simpson says:

    1. Sceptics are sceptical of our own arguments
    4. The BBC are completely biased.
    7. Lack of money
    8. There’s no public funding

    On point 1, everyone’s different, but I think the majority of skeptics feel that the opposition is absolutely full of it, Scotland or USA. But what’s important is we need to start thinking about winning, and that means taking a dedicated beeline approach to changing public opinion!!!
    There’s always going to be ambiguity in the arena of theoretical argument, but public opinion is and will be the main gauge of perceived success, and public opinion will drive policy. We have to stop our kind of self-righteous sense of our own superior moral fiber, and start doing what the opposition does so effectively — campaigning in systematic structured funded ways to change opinion. We are going to have to “stoop” to employing the tricks of the trade to get the job done. And though we seem to have won the last couple of rounds, we shouldn’t get complacent, we have had the benefit of Climategate and a string of other strokes of luck, but in the future, with the tenacious leftist MSM against us, we could easily find ourselves losing again big time.
    Put the rights minds and skills together, and we could raise plenty of money for systematic PR & advertising campaigns. The campaigns would bypass the leftist media and beam directly to the public. That is what it is going to take to change opinion: short effective TV (mostly) spots. Certain ads hit the main issues like: there is nothing unusual about current temps (no hockey stick), and that there is no empirical evidence that CO2 causes warming worth more than a hill of beans. And there would be other ads that hit subsidiary issues like the leftist nature of the opposition, their deceptions, ice and sea levels, whatnot.
    Making the case to prospective donors should be easy now. The importance of this issue, in terms of determining election outcomes and consequential govt policies, is clear. Also, once a campaign is up and running it could be largely self-sustaining through viewer contributions — now that so many people, especially conservatives, are hyped about the issue, and would give $.
    Finally, conservative govts should strive to get public funding for the resistance. Equal funding at minimum. If not, then at least cut all funding for anything that abets the ideologically motivated warmists.

    • Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple. A group-think of “scientists” advise government, and people like the BBC and real scientists.

      Unless or until that group-think is broken, there will be no change in policy. There cannot be a change, even if the civil service wanted to, because they have to be accountable and use the best advice available … which unfortunately means that group-think who have been so dishonest about their inability to predict the climate.

      What we need to do, is to get the group who are most able to scrutinise that group-think, to get off their fat arses and start asking the right questions. In other words, we need professional scientists in other areas to stop accepting global warming as a fact based on the say-so of this group-think, and instead go out to critically examine the scientific foundation for it.

      We are in fact asking for science to do what it is says it does. To be sceptical and critical and not accept on the say so of others (note the Latin motto on my blog … which is the original version of the Royal Society of Sciene’s motto)

    • Eric Simpson says:

      Thanks for your reply ScottishSceptic. I’m in the USA, and I understand that there are differing institutional frameworks and in some places the freedom to do what I suggest may be restricted, but we see in the U.S. and elsewhere that as public opinion turned against AGW, many scientists have turned, and most of their policy goals failed. In a democracy, public opinion is going to drive policy, and scientists will eventually follow. Look what’s happening in Australia! That Carbon Tax is going to be trashed. Mark my word.
      Keep in mind the leftist tilt of most scientists these days, and especially climate scientists who were for the most part pre-screened for agreement with the “science” and ideological goals of the Chicken Littles.
      I agree with everything you say. We should do what you recommend. Clearly. But if it’s so simple to do what I suggest, why not go ahead and give it a shot? At least where it’s feasible. I think it would be decisive, but at minimum it couldn’t hurt. With proper managerial and creative and financial leadership (this could be just be 1 to 3 people, and outsourcing & volunteers as well). I hope to be able to spearhead it myself, maybe, though I don’t have the time and whatever right this moment, unfortunately. So I call on someone else to take the baton, if they can.

    • Eric Simpson says:

      Hi ScottishSceptic, I repeated this comment thread (with a link to here) on wuwt, and got 1 response (also not in agreement in with me), by John West: The skeptics guerilla war has been successful at turning public opinion away from alarmism. What you are proposing would effectively be entering a conventional war strategy. In a conventional war the side with the most resources wins. We can’t stand toe to toe with the alarmists yet, they’ve got a few orders of magnitude more money. We’re better off sticking with our guerilla tactics for now in my opinion.

      My reply:
      What you say, at first glance, sounds reasonable. But… and I applaud the incredible work of all of us in the blogisphere here in fighting the big money propagandists… this cannot be considered a war in a literal sense where actual bullets fly. We would not be “invading” anyone where a response or defense would be called for. Yes, they could respond to our campaign, but I believe the data and evidence is on our side, that is why we win debates, and that is why we would when any public battle, whether it be considered “conventional” or not.
      Importantly, I think things have changed as far as our ability to marshal a competitive level of resources. As I’ve said, it’s increasingly clear that the AGW issue is having a large impact on elections, and on public policy, so potential donors can be courted on this basis. Also, any campaigns would solicit funds in the ads, and conservatives would be strongly motivated to give $ to an effective campaign. So, huge $ could be raised to support the campaign(s).
      Further, you talk about the effectiveness of our guerilla effort. Problem is that it wasn’t until 2008, and really 2009 and ’10 that we made significant gains. Look at what happened in the 2000s prior to this. Despite this guerilla war, we lost. By the start of 2007 even a majority of conservatives had been duped into believing the AGW scam.
      The start of the change in public opinion I think was the 2007 airing of the “conventional” TV show The Great Global Warming Swindle, which got a lot of play on the internet, and provided the publicity for the central anti-AGW arguments we needed. Later we had an incredible stroke of luck with Climategate.
      But we are that close to losing again. Arguably, over the last year, in some polls anyway, it has started to go south for us again. We are up against the goliath MSM. We have to do something to get public visibility and bypass the MSM. The guerilla war, for the most part, is not reaching the public as needed.

  4. Greg Scott says:

    I’m thinking you have to take back the high moral ground to win. The warmists aren’t saving the environment they’re destroying it. Attack is the best defense.

    • Perhaps a way to think about it is this. Think of the natural laws as some kind of “god”. This god has their high priests who interpret the will of the god and ordain what the god is thinking and wishes the people to do. Obviously there’s evidence backing science, but none the less it’s the same age old problem of how much of that which the high priests of the religion tell the people is the will of god(s), how much is their cynical self-interest, and how much is just a group of well-intentioned people giving their own advice – which is respected because of their position.

      Obviously, you run into the old US problem of state funded religion. As soon as one grouping because the predominant orthodoxy, it becomes almost impossible to hold them to account and like the church in medieval times it just becomes a hot-bed of public funded monks and nuns sleeping with each other.

      I suppose … in a way you could view us sceptics as the quakers and baptists of science: we draw our view of science from the fundamentals and not what some pope who claims to be the one channel for eartly pronouncements tells us is true.

  5. Brian H says:

    SS;
    Your engineering and other background is valuable and admirable, but enlist a friend who’s an English major. Your Enjunear’s English is often painful to read. Sentences that aren’t, wandering syntax that seems to contradict your points, malaprops, typoz, etc. E.g. “route root cause”; “Royal Society of Sciene’s Science’s”; “to tow toe the party line”, etc.

    Curious about your statement that “… we will reduce GDP. I personally think that would have a lot of benefits…”. Murderously wrong. Go thru the material, including sources, at http://overpopulationisamyth.com .

    ES;
    I doubt your vision will herd many sceptical conservative cats. But it would be valuable just to have some more public exposure of the fundamentals of the sceptic case. Be warned, though. Observe the furious allegations of heavily funded corruption directed at Heartland institute and its donors over minuscule dribbles of cash.

    • Brian H, thanks for the comment.

      Yes, it would help to have other people check over what I write … are you offering to help?

      • Brian H says:

        Sure; I’ve done years of professional editing of web articles (mostly in the computer tech area, but the topic is not material).
        Email anything you want proofed and I’ll have it back within 12 hrs.

  6. Brian H says:

    About the point that sceptics are sceptical of each other: true, but there is a great deal of turf-protection involved, too. Those who support specific alternate hypotheses such as oceanic cycles, Ice Age rebound, solar variability, GCR modulation of cloud albedo, CO2 enhancement of upper level OLR, etc., etc. are as much at loggerheads with each other as with warmists. An extreme example is the ubiquitous thread-bombing by Doug Cotton pushing the theories of Claes Johnson, who avers that warm atoms (!?) and molecules reject/deflect photons below their own energy levels without effect. There are others who all agree on the ‘CO2 forcing is bunkum’ theme, but who seem mostly motivated to spread their own memes, and spend much more energy disputing other sceptics than disproving warmism. A Scot should be thoroughly familiar with the possible effects of such internecine warfare.

    On the one hand, it’s inevitable and desirable, all part of the competing hypotheses process. on the other, it hands trumps and spades to the opposition. The solution is not to pick one of the many claimants to Truth-Telling, wandering about hollering “Unite Behind Me!”. It is to keep on with making the public aware that there are many competing hypotheses which are very inadequately and dismissively and evasively addressed by the AGW consensus.

    And always, in all ways, in every way, rejecting loudly the Trenberth Twist, which attempts to make AGW the Null Hypothesis!! That must always be, as mentioned, that current and realistically projected variation is well within the range of historical and natural known swings.

    • Brian, I would like to take you up on your offer to help.

      What we need to create is an alternative “vision” to the alarmist. We need to say what we believe in a way that can be understood by ordinary people.

      As they say, you have to crack eggs to make an omelette, and I’m aware that many sceptics might end up being upset when their vision doesn’t become the “consensus” vision of the sceptics. Indeed, I have to accept it is quite possible that I won’t like the vision that finally comes out.

      However, all I see from sceptics so far, is arguments picking apart others who have gone to the effort of creating them – and which are often rejected based on very little research and with no other viable alternative.

      We need to start being positive. That doesn’t mean pushing one or other theory. It does mean saying what we think should be the way science behaves.

      • Brian H says:

        Sorry for the lag; my ‘tracking’ of blog comments is systematic, sort of, but sometimes the backlog gets way ahead of me!
        Email me at brianfh01-at-yahoo.ca with the subject Blog Edit, and I’ll get to it within a few hours. I think you’re on UT, and I’m UT+8, so take that into account.

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