Thursday, June 03, 2010

Flying the flag

In Science, Philip Kitcher reviews several recent books on climate change

Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. By Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway.

Why We Disagree About Climate Change: Understanding Controversy, Inaction and Opportunity By Mike Hulme.

Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity By James Hansen.

Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save Earth's Climate. By Stephen H. Schneider.

The Lomborg Deception: Setting the Record Straight About Global Warming. By Howard Friel.

The Climate Solutions Consensus By David E. Blockstein and Leo Wiegman.

Climate Change Science and Policy. By Stephen H. Schneider, Armin Rosencranz, Michael D. Mastrandrea, and Kristin Kuntz-Duriseti,

The Politics of Climate Change. By Anthony Giddens. Polity,
Among other things, Kitcher talks about the difference between the US and the rest of the world on these issues
It is all too easy to be beguiled by an opposite thought: that democracy demands that there be extensive public discussion, even on technical matters, discussion in which all participants operate as equals. Those in the grip of this idea will view Hansen and Schneider as hysterical and arrogant people who aim to short-circuit the proper airing of alternative views. (Although sympathetic critics might also ponder the fact that these two eminent scientists have been rebutting the same "alternatives" for decades). Perhaps continued discussion could be tolerated, were there no urgency about the issue under debate. If they saw no compulsion to act soon—and if they were convinced that the fight were fair—Hansen and Schneider might share Milton's confidence that truth would ultimately emerge as victor. Yet the stories they tell in their gripping narratives reveal all too many points at which messages have been distorted and suppressed because of the short-term interests of economic and political agents. They also demonstrate many ways in which the arena of public discussion has been set up to block the widespread acceptance of conclusions based on an increasing body of evidence.
As to how this happened, Oreskes and Conway provide a roadmap
"There are many reasons why the United States has failed to act on global warming, but at least one is the confusion raised by Bill Nierenberg, Fred Seitz, and Fred Singer."
with Kitcher filling in some of the dots
This apparently harsh claim is thoroughly justified through a powerful dissection of the ways in which prominent climate scientists, such as Roger Revelle and Ben Santer, were exploited or viciously attacked in the press.

None of this would have been possible without a web of connections among aging scientists, conservative politicians, and executives of companies (particularly those involved in fossil fuels) with a short-term economic interest in denying the impact of the emission of carbon into the atmosphere. But it also could not have produced the broad public skepticism about climate change without help from the media. As Oreskes and Conway point out, "balanced coverage" has become the norm in the dissemination of scientific information. Pitting adversaries against one another for a few minutes has proven an appealing strategy for television>news programs to pursue in attracting and retaining viewers.
Kitchner has touched off a debate among several of the authors with others invited to take part.

Those looking for an explanation of the bunny flag are invited to wander over to Open Mind


Magnus Westerstrand said...

Not a relative i hope!

seamus said...

Some fun anagrams...

"Climate change denialist"

mangle ice data nil ethics

in glee i claim data stench

the slanted ice gain claim

calling heat mendacities

giant heat decline claims

Deech56 said...

I though Kitcher did an excellent job weaving the threads of the various books to tell a story. Maybe that ability comes from being in a Department of Philosophy. Reminds me of another poster around these here parts who, I believe, has a background in philosophy.

I have already read the Schneider and Hansen books, and look forward to reading the Oreskes/Conway opus. Of course, what they wrote may be familiar to readers here, especially those who watched Oreskes' talk, but their message needs to be more widely heard, especially among those whose job it is to inform the public.

May have to link to this post in my local forum. ;-)

Anonymous said...

To those birds that search out food for thought, here is some lite... feeding for ya'll.) A quad-tap & some love, from a 'grunt' pop. Who cares!

"** a small but noisy bird UPDATE: which as Ed Darell points out in the comments are not just noisy, but noisy in gangs. Starlings drive songbirds out of their nests, harass the songbird young, steal their food, and generally pose a barbarian-style blight upon the bird world. Starlings steal the crops from farmers, and perform no useful service in return (like eating insect pests, or providing Beauty and Song). Starlings congregate in huge gangs in cities, befouling automobiles, sidewalks, and giving people heebie-jeebies whenever they remember the old Hitchcock movie.

Since Eli lives in Washington DC, he knows this. Thanks Ed:)" This is starting to sound like, the 'unwashed folks'---who have yet to learn the lessons, of soap:)

After you have finished your homework assignment; please read in you Bible, Romans: Chapter 8. Live, for a change...
Thank you, Eli_, I am not, Joshin.

Tha That's All, Folk's!

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Why don't you go swim in an oilslick?

Anonymous said...

Ah another site goes the way of the controlled echo chamber. Meanwhile polls worlwide are tunring against Climate Change thanks to all your arrogance and one-sided conversations. Thanks for screwing this up.

Celery Eater

mike roddy said...


I recognize the style of the final "Anonymous" poster. There is a boiler room in Tulsa, composed mostly of elderly spinsters and unemployed auto salesmen. They are paid $14.50 an hour by a Koch affiliate to go around and make trouble on the blogs- definitely the bottom of the food chain, but many aspire to be the next Morano or Monckton.

A couple of them have even been showing up at Romm's blog. You're better at providing them with the proper discipline, and sending them on their way.

Anonymous said...

MarkeyMouse says:

Hi Rodders

You're thinking of Obots. They slave in basements misdirecting websites cos they've been promised world peace, harmony, and soup from the kitchen.

And Rabitts reading list is straight from Moscow Central

Anonymous said...

Mike Roddy

I recognize your type (being wrong). A CSP who thinks that he is so cool and smooth because he likes to hear his beliefs spoon fed to him. I like the fact that everyone can post and say what they mean. I see you pulled the "silence them" card relatively quickly. Thats why you are a CSP.

Open your eyes. Lambert Tamino tightly control the posts. They let ONE dissenting voice thhrough and modify the comments.

Celery Eater

Anonymous said...

Kitcher suggests that "perhaps wisdom will prevail". Little Mouse does not think that will happen until the oxycline hits the surface.

Little Mouse

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Based on recent posts, I think it is safe to recommend the following:


Hence the reliance on "polls" rather than evidence.

Daniel said...

Just a bunny from Da UP, eh?

On this posts' topic of publications, the Center on Climate Change and National Security, recently launched by the CIA, has recently drafted the “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change" Report.

Findings of the panel & detailed in the report are:
* Projected climate change poses a serious threat to America's national security.
* Climate change acts as a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world.
* Projected climate change will add to tensions even in stable regions of the world.
* Climate change, national security and energy dependence are a related set of global challenges.

The report also made several specific recommendations:
* The national security consequences of climate change should be fully integrated into national security and national defense strategies.
* The U.S. should commit to a stronger national and international role to help stabilize climate changes at levels that will avoid significant disruption to global security and stability.
* The U.S. should commit to global partnerships that help less developed nations build the capacity and resiliency to better manage climate impacts.
* The Department of Defense should enhance its operational capability by accelerating the adoption of improved business processes and innovative technologies that result in improved U.S. combat power through energy efficiency.
* DoD should conduct an assessment of the impact on US military installations worldwide of rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and other possible climate change impacts over the next thirty to forty years.

As a former member of the DoD and the intelligence services, it's good to see them on top of things (after all, they are in the business of risk management and mitigation).


Daniel the Yooper bunny

Ron Broberg said...

If the Yooper is going to play the CIA card, this mountain jack rabbit will play a DOD card.

Introduction: While U.S. Joint Forces Command’s Joint Operating Environment (JOE) in no way constitutes U.S. government policy and must necessarily be speculative in nature, it seeks to provide the Joint Force an intellectual foundation upon which we will construct the concepts to guide our future force development. We will likely not call the future exactly right, but we must think through the nature of continuity and change in strategic trends to discern their military implications to avoid being completely wrong. These implications serve to influence the concepts that drive our services’ adaptations to the environments within which they will operate, adaptations that are essential if our leaders are to have the fewest regrets when future crises strike.

In other words, this is not 'official policy' and is 'speculative.' Nevertheless, it's role is intended to shape strategic thinking over the next decade or so.

Climate Change and Natural Disasters: The impact of climate change, specifically global warming and its potential to cause natural disasters and other harmful phenomena such as rising sea levels, has become a concern. Scientific conclusions about the potential effects of climate change are contradictory, with some arguing that there will be more and greater storms and natural disasters: others, that there will be fewer.

Climate change is included as one of the ten trends most likely to impact the Joint Force. For example, sea ice has been shrinking dramatically in Arctic regions each summer, and in the future this could open new shipping routes across archipelagic Canada and Northern Russia that could dramatically shorten transit times between Europe and Northeast Asia. Furthermore, shrinking sea ice opens new areas for natural resource exploitation, and may raise tensions between Arctic nations over the demarcation of exclusive economic zones and between Arctic nations and maritime states over the designation of important new waterways as international straits or internal waters. As an early move in this new competition, in 2007 two Russian submersibles made an unprecedented dive 2.5 miles to the arctic sea floor, where one ship dropped a titanium capsule containing a Russian flag. Retreating ice creating access to previously unavailable natural resources is but one example of potential security challenges that did not exist in the past.

While the JFCOM touches on climate change, it is for more interesting for its discussion of the consequences of increasing demand for oil in the face of declining production.

So you can place that in your patriotism bucket. Neither the CIA and the DOD are in denial.

Anonymous said...

To "a_Ray"

Its too bad that your ignorance blinds you to the fact that you and me can beleive and support all the science on AGW, but without public support democracies across the world will not act. Get it? So all your little juvenille insults contribute to the attitude of the general population. At my job when I try to "convince" or "show" people what I think we should do and show them the factual evidence to support my position, even if its the 500th time, I usually do not call them "brain dead" or "denialist". Maybe you should try it?

Celery Eater

Ron Broberg said...

CE, I'd like to take a moment to thank you for your clear comments on how to improve public acceptance of climate science. I'm touched that you are concerned for the tone by which some advocate their positions and the impact that phrases such as "juvenile insults" and "controlled echo chamber" might have on their readers. For calling their host "arrogant" and worrying that some might be "screwing things up."
So refreshing to see that you would never resort to such tactics. So reassuring to hear your calm dispassionate call for a more polite dialog. I look forward to your further suggestions on how better to convey the science in climate science.

Paul said...

Fuller seems to have been left with the last comment on an otherwise quite interesting thread on Kitcher's piece in Science. Much of the comment is impenetrable to me. Couldn't someone with more skill and patience than I respond?

Paul Middents

Anonymous said...

Oh Ron keep calling yourself a "rabbit", it perfectly denotes how you choose to follow rather than lead. Your sarcastic concern is noted as not serious. Keep doing what you are doing it is working so well in the present day.

Btw my first post was actually my 2nd, you did not see the first one.

Celery Eater

Ron Broberg said...

Much of the comment is impenetrable to me. Couldn't someone with more skill and patience than I respond?

What is there to respond too? Much like celery, there isn't much nutritional content, no there 'there.'

Kitcher: These revelations probably retarded any serious American consensus even on the minimal judgment that is the preliminary to the longer and more difficult debate.

Fuller: I endorse the retarded consensus with some optimistic hopes and a feeling of general satisfaction with the muddled nature of US climate policy.

Anonymous said...


Thank you I feel much less intelligent and "dirty" by reading your posts. At least I have been reminded on how not to act (like an a$$).

Appreciate that.

Oh and as far as your copy and paste of the supposed positions of the CIA and DoD perhaps if you had first hand knowledge of how the defense of the country works you would have more of a clue. Their job is to assess and plan contingencies upon all threats even those with doubts about their specific impacts (see your own pastes). Those blurbs in no way reflect absolute positions by either the DoD or the CIA. You sound very much out of your element and your depth as far as national defense goes. To further then throw out the "patriotism bucket" comment made me laugh, at you.

Celery Eater

EliRabett said...

Found the CIA and DoD positions interesting. Found celery wooden and full of self.

Ron Broberg said...

celery: Oh and as far as your copy and paste of the supposed positions of the CIA and DoD perhaps if you had first hand knowledge of how the defense of the country works you would have more of a clue,...
You assume too much, celery. :chuckles knowingly:

Back on another forum from which I was roused into wider discussion, we call it the "magic beanie" because it grants its wearer the ability to read the minds, motives, thoughts, and history of other posters. Not only are you mistaken that you possess a magic beanie, you have been unable to even comprehend this simple statement, which I offer again: In other words, this is not 'official policy' and is 'speculative.'

In other words, your assumptions - both of my background and my presentation here - are wrong. The empty sound of the crunching of empty calories. You have offered nothing of value here; your criticisms carry no weight.

Eli, thank you for letting me entertain myself here this afternoon. I realize it was a bit of a digression from the main post (although tangentially related to the WUWT tag at the end)

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Celery Eater, I believe in informing idiots that they are idiots. And someone who thinks they understand a subject better than the experts based on little or no study qualifies pretty well as idiocy.

In the end our species will either learn to acknowledge physical or they will go extinct. Climate change is as good an answer to the Fermi Paradox as any.

Daniel said...

Yooper bunny is amused by the DK-ness exhibited by the eater of celery on the topic of national security.

The Yooper bunny is well aware of the military mindset and decision-making process of the nation's warrior-bunny elite. This Yooper bunny has personally briefed the US warrior-bunny elite, visiting warrior-bunny elites from other burrows and even the VP bunny (DQ) of this burrow on occasion(s).

Being a late-comer to The Rabett's Run here, perhaps this Yooper bunny has missed the eater of celery's Categorical Letters of Avowed Knowledge and Informed Dissertation on the subject of how the US burrow is defended. Perhaps that comes from the eater of celery's possessing better-than-first-hand knowledge on the matter? In such a case, should those Letters exist, the Yooper bunny says: Hello, again...

This Yooper bunny, for one, was not the bunny who first employed usage of the "patriotism bucket." On this matter: Glass burrows, eater of celery, glass burrows.

A Toast: to Solution-Oriented Bunnies Everywhere, while the w(h)ine of denial bunnies lasts and the air conditioning works,

Daniel the Yooper bunny

Anonymous said...


You forgot the rest of your statement:

"'s role is intended to shape strategic thinking over the next decade or so."

No its not.


Then your magic beanie skills are lacking. I do not elevate my opinion above others, I only appreciate the opportunity to express it. Ron, well thats another story. btw Ron if you looked you would find all kinds of DoD and CIA position papers on all kinds of topics. Perhaps if my first post went through (granted you let other posts through) I might have not had such an edge. But it is interesting to note the "attack" mode of the other posters.

If I were to believe Ron that the DoD and CIA are shaping strategic thinking because they believe in climate change then I would have to have said the same thing when this was going on:

And please its not a direct comparison to the believability of Climate Change...

Celery Eater

Anonymous said...

A_ray offers a Straw Man I shall ignore.

Daniel = braggert, shall ignore as well.

Nice toast as your current tactics are not working. Its been warmer to start the year than what, ever in recorded history by one measure and 4th by another and yet public support continues its downward trend. Good job telling the idiots they are idiots and being oh so solution orientated.

Keep patting yourselves on the back. You have the science on your side and you are still blowing it. clap clap clap.

Oh unless of course you can show us what solutions you have implemented? What actions have been taken? The science keeps coming out that supports AGW yet the policy accomplishments are ZERO and the outlook for any under the current public sentiment is on the negative side. So high fives all around!

Celery Eater

Arthur said...

I read that Science review the other day and thought it excellent, but somehow didn't notice it was by Kitcher! Kitcher is one of the few people whose discussion of "philosophy of science" has made sense to me - I read one of his books on the subject about 15 years ago. So, philosophers can still be useful after all, who'd have thought?

Ron Broberg said...

celery: Oh unless of course you can show us what solutions you have implemented?

I think the internet mirror is appropriate here ....

Have you implemented solutions to climate change that are worthy of emulation? In what manner has your approach been more successful in discovering, discussing, and popularizing the science in climate science? In other words, what substance do you have to contribute?

Eli pointed us to Kitcher's review. The Yooper brought us a CIA report to read. I have offered a JFCOM report for perusal. You have offered us a promise of a better way and ... what exactly?

On the rodentia front, I can tell you that the beaver ponds at sunset are immensely beautiful. The beaver make themselves scarce as my lab and I approach. The fish rise and ripple as the water reflects the evergreen ridge beyond. Ducks make themselves known through their quiet, wet foraging. And the swallows race for gnats amid the willows. All enwrapped in an orangey glow as the last rays of sunlight slide over the ridges. God's country, my home.

Anonymous said...


You still struggle to find my point. I have already furnished you with enough information about my position. Sorry I do not fit into one of your boxes. Is that all you do is exchange quotes and copy and paste the work of others? No original thoughts? Are you a replacement for Google? Shall I dig up and quote a paper on how to influence people? Or perhaps one on how to answer questions directly without using the "you first" response. You are boring me at this point. If the be all end all on "science" blogs is the exchange of other peoples thoughts (iow not your own) then you choose to follow and be part of a group. The group has borders that are rigid and since you exist in such a box you assume everyone else exists in a box.

Celery Eater

Ron Broberg said...

celery: You are boring me at this point.

No doubt. No doubt.
And now to sleep.
Perhaps to dream.

Ay, that's the rub!

For in that offline sleep what dreams may come,
when we have shuffled off this mortal blog,
must give us pause - there's the respect
that makes tragedy of such incessant posting.

For who would bears the snark and scorn of trolls,
the boring of bores, the proud man's contumely,
the pangs of disprized science, the law's delay,
the insolence of ignorance, and the spurns
that patient merit of the unworthy takes
when he might his quietus make
with a blanket and a bed?

Ron Broberg said...

:high five:

Nicely played, Yooper.

Anonymous said...

No one likes other peoples photos, we all know that... And I must say; as far as your substitute teacher goes Eli, he sucks. He's mean too... is he also going to put down Mr. Isaiah Berlin? Anyway, I cut school & got together with some of my friends for a 'flash mob'. Can you see me now?

I am the one in the middle.

Anonymous said...

Once upon a blog so dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of continuous bore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a rapping,
As of some two gently rapping, rapping like an old sore
"'Tis some visitors," I muttered, "rapping like an old sore -
Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I recall how soon it was in the gloom June,
And each separate old worn tune wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the depths of more; - vainly I had sought I swore
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for this class war -
For just a modicum of good rapport rather than just another class war -
These two are Nameless here for evermore.

Semper Fi Mr. Poe

Celery Eater

Ron Broberg said...

Recall, friend Starling, that capturing yourself in such an instant, such an infinitismal, can be terribly temporally self distorting, robbing onself of continuity and life which can only be restored by integrating over history.

And a heartfelt thanks for introducing me to the manners of Hedgehogs and Foxes.

John Mashey said...

Since this thread has gotten far afield, bf you are interested in a serious discussion about Fermi Paradox, Kardashev Levels, energy requirements, etcv, see Fermi Paradox Solved. I have a few detailed posts in that thread.

My bottom line: civilizations likely get one chance to use fossil fuels to boost technology to point of not needing them, and staying at a sustainably high-enough tech level to fend off killer asteroids. Let's suppose humans lose civilization, and a few million years from now, something like (say raccoons, which around our area, seem smarter than bunnies, sorry...) wants to have a go at it.

Racoon scientists will be saying "there should be some coal and oil here to fire up industrial revolution. Where is it?"

As should be evident from the events in the Gulf, that's oil you couldn't even fantasize about getting with the tech used in 1859 Titusville to get that oil. Even if the future raccoons had perfect maps of the Gulf, and any oil was left, they'd need tech that would be unbuildable to go get it.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

John, Thanks for the invite. I may pop by if the day job allows. Lately the day job has been crowding into nights as well.

I expect that eventually we may realize that we should have found the answer to the Fermi Paradox by analysis rather than experimentation. And in the end, our failure on the Fermi Paradox midterm may derive more from our persistent skill at self-delusion rather than any lack of technical skill.

I rather doubt that it would have been any more difficult to develop a sustainable energy infrastructure than it is to suck oil through a straw a mile under the ocean.

Anonymous said...

Fresh 2010 vintage Scafetta gobbets, free for the taking:

Dan Satterfield said...

The bunny has no obligation to share his well admired platform with every sly fox that comes along. Comments relevant to the discussion should be welcomed as long as they are willing to put their name behind them.

Newspapers will only rarely print unsigned letters to the editor and then only if there is good reason to withhold the name they already know. The web is a new world but many of the rules developed in he old world should not be casually thrown aside.

Anonymous said...


Was my last to long?

Celery Eater

Steve Bloom said...

Paul, Fuller is a waste of oxygen. He convinced himself, based on a casual few weeks of study (and with no relevant academic background), to adopt a Lomborg-esque "lukewarmer" position on AGW. Assorted more informed people, including some climate scientists, have attempted to set him straight but to no avail. The more cynical bunnies believe his position on AGW to be more than anything else a function of an attempt to position himself in the likely most profitable position in the blog journalism market (such profits still being more prospective than not).

Russell said...

Shane on Seamus for lack of ambition

Five times anagramatized his phrase yields:

A giant climate chill ad gain
The acid cheating melts calcite
In glee inane mendacities ethics stain
Mangle agile minds, call heat decline,