Let me ask the climate change skeptics a question. My motive is well-meaning–I have given advice to those on the consensus side of the fence several times in the past, so I’m not singling you out.
If the people on the other side were only those like John Cook, Stephan Lewandowsky, Michael Mann and Peter Gleick, wouldn’t you say that it was easy pickings for you to expose their weaknesses and show them up? I think you would.
Now look at your own side. When an AP reporter wants to get the skeptical point of view, who does she or he end up talking with? You may hope that it’s Judith Curry, Freeman Dyson, Steve McIntyre or Richard Lindzen, but in fact the people who are on TV and in the newspapers are generally folks like Marc Morano or Viscount Monckton.
Nobody appointed them spokespersons–like John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky they saw an opportunity to make a name for themselves and seized upon it. Marc Morano was very busy playing partisan politics before he inherited the global warming assignment from Senator Inhofe and he will happily return to partisan politics when this gig is finished.
As for Monckton, well I must say I have never seen a clearer example of a publicity hound in all my life.
It’s not just who’s representing you–it’s what you are saying. What is the coherent message of skeptics?
To me it seems that you mostly react vehemently to whatever story the consensus (or the Konsensus, mostly) puts out. You don’t have a narrative that you can consistently put forward, nor a way to fit new science and climate news into your narrative. Judith Curry does very well with the Uncertainty Monster theme, but she’s not a skeptic.
And you regularly get your clocks cleaned. Just this week, when Harvard Kennedy School released results of a poll showing that 23% of U.S. young people thought global warming was unproven and a further 20% thought recent warming was due to natural causes, bloggers like Jo Nova put up the post. The same day Skeptical Science, a popular Konsensus blog that is as far from skeptical as you can get, put up a story titled “College students are making global warming a moral issue. Here’s why that scares people.” The same day. When was the last time skeptics were that quick off the mark?
What is the skeptic story? I get that you’re not organized and not likely to become so. But you do need to use a shared vocabulary that provides you with some legitimacy and answers some questions before they are asked.
The Global Warming Policy Foundation and Heartland, the two signature organizations for skeptics on climate change, have clearly not done enough to provide a shared base of information. Leading lights such as Richard Lindzen and Freeman Dyson are either not interested or not in a position to become spokespersons.
Of course, I’m a lukewarmer. I don’t agree with you on the probable extent, impacts or preferred policies to deal with climate change. But I’ve gotten to know a lot of you over the years as intelligent, honest and well-meaning individuals who really have something to contribute to the conversation.
Taking pride in your individualism is one thing. Refusing to work on putting together a coherent framework to explain your views on climate change is another. I submit that it’s in part intellectual laziness. Saying that ‘getting skeptics to agree on anything is like herding cats’, something I have frequently read on blogs, is also saying that you feel no sense of responsibility for what happens.
1. Tell the world you (mostly) agree with the laws of physics, that that isn’t the issue
2. Confront the ‘denier’ meme.
3. Keep the record in front of you. Temperatures have plateaued, albeit at a high level, despite vast increases in emissions.
4. Keep a sense of humor about the absurdity of some of what is being published. Laugh at Cook’s MOOC. Laugh at the claims about Xtreme Weather.
5. Vote. Get involved with politics at a local, regional and national level. Politicians don’t know who you are or what you believe. All they hear is what the Konsensus tells them. And they lie.
I’d write something similar for Lukewarmers, but as far as I can tell we could all fit into a closet. Okay, I know that’s no excuse. I’ll come up with an action plan for us as well. Might not be very different from what I prescribe for skeptics.