I think there’s a rule about not capitalizing the title of a post when it gets to be as long as the post itself…
I am hoping to do a series of posts on Matt Ridley’s essay published via GWPF yesterday. But first, let’s discuss my impressions of a bandwagon effect regarding the Lukewarmer position on anthropogenic climate change.
It seems that the term itself is being more widely used and that more people are identifying themselves or others as Lukewarmers. I think it’s overall a good thing–although I don’t at all take it as a sign that we are winning the argument. Far too early for that.
I think it’s good even though I also think that some people on both sides are playing fast and loose with the term. I think some skeptics are saying that in essence they are Lukewarmers because they accept the accepted physics leading to a 1C per doubling of CO2 concentrations, although in practice they are very skeptical of any further effect on the climate or the rest of the planet. Given the abuse they have received under the name skeptic and the disgusting conflation of skepticism with neo-Nazi skinheads who deny the Holocaust occurred, it’s certainly understandable.
I also see that some climate activists are eager to lump Lukewarmers in with the most ardent of skeptics, arguing that at the end of the day we are as ‘bad’ as their arch-villains like Morano and Monckton. And I understand that–we probably are more dangerous to their position than those at the end of the spectrum and given the way they treat all who are not completely committed to their cause, it would be laughable to expect fair or even honest treatment from people like Eli Rabett or William Connelly, let alone the Tim Lamberts of the world.
I want to get a couple of words in before the wholesale criticism of ‘Lukewarmer-ism’ gets out. I noted yesterday that Dana
Cook Nuccitelli (sorry, all) of Skeptical Science plans a post on the folly of the Lukewarm position and I have no doubt that others will be writing against what we generally believe–although most of it will be tied to Ridley’s essay, it will be used as a springboard.
There are already attacks on Lukewarmers out there–most of them purely political and without showing any signs of having read what we have written in various venues. Clive Hamilton labels us as ‘insidious’ (read the comments for my own and Steven Mosher’s response), saying we are ‘politically conservative’ (I’m pretty much to the left of Marx–I just forget if it’s Groucho or Karl), and that we fell for the ‘climategate spin,’ not realizing that almost all of those he accuses of the sin of Lukewarmer-ism were writing long before Climategate.
The most accurate self-description on the intertubes is found at Idiot Tracker–he tracks and he’s pretty much described himself. In his diatribe against Lukewarmers, he manages to combine Steve Mosher and myself into one person named Steve Fuller–although he may have another post somewhere railing against Tom Mosher. There are others–here, for example. (Update: Hey, Idiot Tracker–if you ever see this check above–I just did the same thing with Dana Nuccitelli. Guess we’re all human…)
My basic point here is that the Lukewarm ‘position’ (it isn’t really all that well-defined) is in fact a range of opinions–I’m pretty sure that Steve Mosher and I look at it differently and that Pat Michaels, who identifies himself as a lukewarmer, would disagree with both of us–and maybe Lucia Liljegren, one of the very first to wear the lapel button, might differ from all of us.
It describes a range of opinion. In that it is no different from the labels ‘skeptic’ or ‘climate activist.’ There is a very wide spectrum of opinions on climate change, its various causes and its potential impacts.
What we will see in the coming weeks is an attempt to pigeonhole us. These attempts will come from the extremes of the spectrum. The most ardent of activists will try and push us over with the most skeptical of the skeptics–and it’s quite possible that the skeptics will try and paint us as activists in sheeps’ clothing.
For my money, the most energetic of the climate activists are very wrong in trying to panic the public with talk of Xtreme Weather, a rapid melt of the Greenland Ice Cap, very large rises in sea level and skyrocketing temperatures.
For my money, the most skeptical of the skeptics are very wrong in ignoring the very real potential for future effects on our climate (and the rest of the planet) due to human causes, among which is emissions of incredible quantities of CO2.
But I have no doubt that I (or someone who believes as I do) will be compared to both Michael Mann and Marc Morano–maybe in the same comment thread.