There is a Consensus on Climate Change. There is also a Klimate Konsensus

Two reputable surveys (von Storch et al 2008 and Verheggen et al 2014) found that about 80% 66% of scientists involved in climate science or closely related fields support a fairly narrow consensus–the obvious points being the operation of greenhouse gases and their ability to contribute a warming effect to the climate, and they agree that the recent warming period indeed had a contribution from human effects including massive emissions of greenhouse gases.

There however exists a Klimate Konsensus, a group of NGOs, social commentators and blog enthusiasts who are on a mission to elevate the importance of combatting climate change to the level of religious fervor.


The Klimate Konsensus has had little luck in alarming the public. The public agrees with the scientists about global warming–poll after poll shows this. But the public has rightly rejected the hair-pulling, screaming at the top of your lungs hysteria coming from the KK. Good for the general public!

The Klimate Konsensus is underhanded, goes for cheap shots and never admits error. They slime scientists on the other side. They insist that those in opposition are funded by fossil fuel interests. When that is shown not to be true, they change the argument and say opponents are using tactics and strategies stolen from the tobacco wars.

Consensus scientists mostly keep their mouths shut about all of this. Which shows that most scientists have good sense. They can see what has happened to the few scientists who have dared to step forward.

So, let’s offer a representative sample of Klimate Konsensus hooligans who have intruded on a scientific debate and turned the debate auditorium into a schoolyard after lunch brawl, complete with food fights.

Joe Romm of Climate Progress.

Josh Halpern, who blogs as Eli Rabett at Rabett Run.

Michael Tobis, who has returned to his blog Only In It For the Gold.

Tim Lambert of Deltoid.

In a lot of the media back and forth, there is an attempt to distinguish ‘real’ ‘sceptics’ from ‘phony’ ‘skeptics.’ That discussion is as political in nature as everything else in current discussions of climate change, adaptation and mitigation.

There are skeptics who are crazily wrong, politically motivated or who are clearly not the brightest lights in the building.

There are also Nobel prize winners, people who have spent their life advancing climate science and people who today are putting forward legitimate questions and offering reasoned objections to some of the malarkey being put out.

The real dichotomy is between the legitimate scientific consensus and a Krazy Klimate Konsensus attempting to piggyback on top of it for their own political reasons, to advance their own societal goals.

26 responses to “There is a Consensus on Climate Change. There is also a Klimate Konsensus

  1. You did not mention Bob Ward as being a member of the KKK – I mean KK.

    In a current article, while purportedly defending Pielke, Jr. against the witch hunt, he still managed to slime scientists on the other side of the argument. Nice.

    “A front-page article in The New York Times suggested that Soon had failed to disclose in some of his papers published in academic journals since 2008 that he had received funding for his research from Southern Company, an electricity generator. The inspector general of the Smithsonian Institution has launched an investigation into the allegations.”

  2. I think the trick is to keep repeating how much oil and gas gave to alarmists.

    • Marty,
      No one complains when a gangster donates money to a worthy charitable cause. Soros is a convicted financial crook in France. No one in media complains when he funds group after group to train “journalists” in how to frame and spin and promote the causes he likes or funds some NGO to write press releases to be quoted in full as news articles.

      • Hunter, the real left wing press hates Soros.

      • Marty –

        If you mean Aletho News (which you have indicated in the past to be an outlet of the true left), they seem to only hate Soros because he’s Jewish. A perusal of their “George Soros” tag reveals only three articles. All mentions of him are contextualized with the addition of ‘Jewish” or “Zionist”.

        Not quite the same reasons Hunter and I would dislike Soros. And in this case, the enemy of my enemy is definitely *not* my friend.

      • Marty,
        My working thesis for awhile is that “left” and “right” and especially lables like “communist” or “fascist” are out dated and useless. The navigational metrics for me are up to freedom and down to despotism. And commie and fascist are sueless because both end up as state controlled domestic terror funded by way of kleptocracy. Marx and Mussolini are both useless authoritarians with distinctions that have little to zero difference.
        There were great evils imposed by governments all through history. Long before any of the labels we struggle with so hard were ever even thought of. The only question for me is if a political movement, whatever its name, is moving twards a more civil, tolerant and free society or down towards statist thuggery.
        Soros, while he may at one time have had ideals worthy of the money he is spending in the political world, long since left those ideals behind.
        He is very close to a 21st century bad guy worthy of a James Bond story.

  3. Great summary and great blog.

  4. Pingback: In Which Eli Rabett Personifies Joseph McCarthy–The Attacks On EcoModernism Begin | The Lukewarmer's Way

  5. This is the best summary of this unofficial vigilante group of enforcers I’ve seen. What they do is really shameful and often very hypocritical.

  6. Here are some points on which there has been essentially informed unanimity for five years at least:

    • • The global climate is changing.
    • • Human activities produce heat-trapping gases.
    • • Heat-trapping gases are very likely responsible for most of the warming observed over the past half century. No one has been able to propose a credible alternative.
    • • The higher the levels of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, the higher the risk of potentially dangerous consequences for humans and our environment.

    Those arguing against those points are spouting nonsense, whether maliciously or ignorantly.

    On many other points there is more or less room for debate.

    I believe the points which are established should be understood by the public as established.

    Apparently the negotiations (I signed onto this consensus but wasn’t involved in drafting it) did not reach unanimity on another key point. Still, the following is widely agreed by those who understand the problem: the amount of eventual damage depends almost entirely on the total amount of fossil carbon emitted.

    Therefore, it follows that the least damage arises from the earliest achievement of zero or negative net emissions of naturally or artificially sequestered carbon. Of course this has to be balanced against damage from excessively precipitous abandonment of fossil fuels, but in practice there’s so little sign of that happening that it’s hardly worth mentioning.

    There’s a strong case that optimal emissions curve really ought to have bent downward 15 years ago. Proof that the case is strong is that it was agreed by most nations at Kyoto. Unfortunately the agreement never took effect.

    Current emissions are fast enough that damage accumulates substantially for every year that the world doesn’t seriously take this on. So there is considerable urgency.

    I would like people to understand this argument. That’s my whole agenda. Everything else is negotiable. Just understand it please.

    What people do about it after they understand it is not really my business. But until they understand it, there has been a profound failure of the interface between science and democracy. I find the abdication of the press in this process especially disturbing.

    I have opinions on many other things and am happy to discuss them, but my only fixed agenda is to get people to understand the argument that emissions have to cease, as soon as feasible. How this makes me an enforcer escapes me.

    • Lukewarmers and even most skeptics don’t dispute most of your double-starred bullet points. I am pretty sure I wrote more or less the same thing on your blog in 2010. But maybe you deleted it. I would change ‘very likely’to ‘quite possibly’ but otherwise I have been saying the same thing for longer than you. But you were so busy saying I’m stupid, don’t understand the science and that I was the equivalent of Abramoff that perhaps you didn’t hear me.

      The exception is the new meme about leaving fossil fuels in the ground.

      I have written here and elsewhere that this is a clumsy and almost unusable metric. What everyone understands and can relate to, what is free from politics and economics, is the concentrations of CO2 in the air.

      For your own sake as well as ours, you should concentrate on concentrations.

      If you go after fuels in the ground you will involve yourself in national, even local arguments. You will be advocating the adoption of a new and uncertain metric and abandoning the relevance of the Keeling Curve, the one and only climate metric that is trusted.

      You will be left in the position of telling India they cannot dig and use their own coal for the betterment of their country.

      How will you enforce this? If one province in India abandons fossil fuels and another continues to use it, if some islands in the Phillipines or Indonesia go against national dictates, do you penalize them? Do you tell their central governments to what–bomb them?

      CO2 concentrations are well-mixed and international. Fossil fuels are generally the property of the state. Will you advocate war to stop the Saudis, the Norse and the Americans from disposing of their property as they see fit?

    • When did the climate not change?
      The rest of your list is meaningless crap.

    • First of all, nobody disputes that the climate is changing, and that CO2 absorbs photons of certain wavelengths.

      Aside from that, the rest of your post is insulting, alarmist, ill-informed BS.

      I bet you’re a pause/hiatus denier too.

  7. Thanks for the mostly substantive reply, especially the substantive parts.

    I do not know how you separate concentrations from cumulative net emissions though.

    • You once called me ignorant and anti-science when I wrote a piece in focusing on emissions instead of concentrations. I believe I was making the point that emissions are local while inferring that concentrations are global.

      Most liquid fossil fuels are the property of the state–almost all large oil reserves are. Which is one very undiscussed reason why fracking gas has not been adopted outside the any great extent. It competes with government resources.

      The Norwegians are one of the greenest countries out there. They are even divesting from coal stocks. And yet have you heard one peep from them about leaving their vast stocks of oil in the ground? I have not.

      • Tom, the peculiar thing is that despite all your disrespect for me, which seems something of a cause for you, I continue to believe that you mean well. Which means you are genuinely convinced that I don’t. It’s awkward. Obviously I disagree, but clearly one could argue that that is self-serving.

        However, if I engage with you, I must insist that you are confused on the substance as well. This is a case in point.

        You seem to indicate that we can somehow stabilize the Keeling curve without leaving fossil fuels in the ground.

        Failing an actual substantive explanation that mentions sources and sinks and rates, and which explains why the consensus is wrong, it is hard to see this opinion as worth considering.

        The time scale of fossil carbon injection into the atmosphere/ocean system is much faster than the natural time scales of removal. Whichever country adds the carbon, it stays there for us to deal with, for practical purposes indefinitely. (The only alternative is actual removal of the carbon by artifice, which is likely to be expensive enough that adding the carbon in the first place is a bad move anyway.)

        That’s why the professionals working on this problem are convinced that controlling the concentration is pretty much the same as limiting net emissions to near-zero or negative. Which in practice, unless there’s a huge carbon capture effort on the scale of the existing fossil fuel industry, means leaving a whole lot of unburnt fuel in the ground.

        Anyway, artificial sequestration or no, STABILIZING concentrations is the SAME thing as lowering NET emissions to zero. There is nowhere for the emissions to go on a time scale that matters. So which language you use doesn’t matter. What we have to do is the same.

        Your complaints about the political difficulty of achieving this are, sadly, perfectly sound. But it’s plain that no plausible workaround is available.

      • There is a reason why I believe you don’t ‘mean well’ in the sense that Climateball is a zero sum game for you. I don’t believe you eat children or wish to overthrow the government, but you are entirely ready to engage in character assassination to achieve your goals.

        I understand your argument in this case. Perhaps you do not understand mine.

        I do not object to leaving fossil fuel in the ground. I object to using it as a metric or as a goal in its own right.

        Consider arguments about biodiversity. We understand that our actions threaten biodiversity. But because we are incapable of quantifying the threat the argument cannot be resolved. When I (or Matt Ridley) say the principal threats are over hunting, pollution, habitat loss and introduction of alien species and Konsensus people say it’s global warming, we just spout at each other as we do on so many other climate related subjects.

        How many species are there? How many species have we actually witnessed go extinct since 1945? How many species existed in the period to which you wish to compare the present? How many species went extinct in a similar 70-year period. We cannot answer any one of those questions. At all. We do not know. Hence the conversation founders.

        The atmosphere is a common good. Fossil fuels are owned, 70% by governments. With some of these governments we cannot even agree that nuclear arms are not a good thing. With others we cannot even agree that invading your next door neighbor is not a good thing.

        These countries cannot even agree amongst themselves on how much to produce.They secretly produce more than their OPEC allotment and sell it clandestinely.

        Your plan, if it can actually be called a plan, would crown as winners those countries who did not follow its dictates. You would create the greatest black market the world has ever seen. You have nothing to offer the developing world as a ready replacement. You have not yet written of how you would ease the blow for industrial use of petrochemicals.

        We do not know how much fossil fuel lies in the ground. There is more than one type and they are used for more than one application. We do not know how much fossil fuel is required to increase the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere by 1 part per million. We are emerging from a historical period of extremely low concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere. There are many who are not yet happy at the idea of stopping, let alone reducing those concentrations.

        As with biodiversity, we do not know the denominator. We do not know the numerator. We do not know the rate of change. As a metric, (as with biodiversity) it will only be a partisan political tool.

        And you will not measure success by the amount of fossil fuel that gets burned nor by how much lies in the ground. Some of you will measure success or failure by global average surface temperature. Some of you will measure it by CO2 concentrations. Some of you will measure it by impacts on human health and well-being. And you will disagree with each other on these metrics and on our progress towards the several different goals that exist.

        We are all better off focusing on the Keeling Curve. It is the only metric in the climate conversation that both sides trust.

      • There is, of course, always Eli Rabett’s simple plan to save the world. Now adopted by William, the Greater, Nordhaus and Paul Krugman amongst others. Solves the problem of free riders and pumpers.

      • Eat another carrot, rabbit. Whoopee! You invented tax incidence as an issue. Coase is turning over in his grave.

        Take it to Timmy Worstall and see how far you get.

  8. Pingback: Is It Just Me Or Is Climate Change Making Everybody Crazy? | The Lukewarmer's Way

  9. “Timmy Worstall? Eli knows about those libertarian economists

    1) I’m not an economist.

    2) I’m not a libertarian.

    3) I’ve never had any tobacco money.

    4) I’ve been arguing for something like the Rabett plan (ie, let’s just have a damn carbon tax and get it done) for a decade now. As Eli knows, given that he knows that William Connelly argues for it and he comments there and has seen that Connelly argues for it on the grounds that I do.

    Hell, I’ve argued at the Adam Smith Institute, Forbes and all those sorts of “right wing” places that the answer is to have that goddam carbon tax now.

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