Even before Climategate, defenders of the Climate Consensus cast around frantically looking for a narrative that would advance their cause in the eyes of the world. It intensified after the scandal.
They used polar bears, glaciers, the threat of malaria, the No Pressure video, the Amazon rain forest, the threat of agricultural decline in Africa and more. They blamed famine in Egypt on climate change. They blamed drought in Russia (and in Texas) on climate change. They blamed Sandy on climate change. They told skeptics ‘We know where you live.’
The death of Stephen Schneider and the semi-retirement of James Hansen left a blank space where science used to speak. And make no mistake about it, whether you agreed with those two or not, they were scientists and they were sorely missed.
Several people tried to claim the stage–and more importantly, the microphone–to hammer home the message. But each was brought down, pretty much due to flaws in their makeup as well as their message.
Al Gore got busted with a massage parlor lady. Peter Gleick got busted for theft and forgery. Joe Romm got more or less muzzled by the Center for American Progress due to increasing hysteria. Lewandowsky was exposed as a charlatan. Anderegg, Prall et al tried to game the system and John Cook tried to cook the books.
The needle of public opinion didn’t move. Yes, they do believe that global warming is real. No, they’re not very concerned about it. Every poll for a decade has reinforced those two findings.
Finally, however, there are new voices emerging, both in science and in the media. Brand new people like Tamsin Edwards. People who have been around but are finally acting with what suspiciously looks like wisdom, such as Richard Betts. On the opposing side, folks like Jose Duarte are examining the flaws in published papers, looking a bit like a young Mac in the making.
I have repeatedly written that the climate war is a 30-year war. We have come pretty close to the halfway point. It’s really heartening to see the next cohort of scientists and communicators have learned from both successes and failures.
It gives me hope that the next round will look more like a discussion than a food fight.