I get caught up in the routine confrontation with ridiculous claims about climate change and with bloggers with whom I disagree. Every now and then I need to stop and think about what I’ve learned and unlearned and to take stock of what I really think.
This seems as good a time as any. In November of 2015, my non-scientific assessment of the science hasn’t changed overmuch. My perceptions as a non-scientist are heavily colored by my assessment of the credibility of those communicating on either side.
This year has seen more in the way of massaging down likely ranges of atmospheric sensitivity, which has led to some trying to downplay its importance. This doesn’t help their credibility. It has also seen the sudden emergence of RCP 8.5 as a shining beacon of Business As Usual Which Will Lead Us To Doom, which is laughable, as it, like the other Representative Concentration Pathways, started with the end figure–those using it as a prediction or projection are displaying abysmal ignorance.
And I still trust what Freeman Dyson says more than James Hansen. I still trust Richard Lindzen more than Andrew Dessler. I still trust Steve Koonin more than Kevin Trenberth. I trust Andrew Revkin more than Dave Roberts, Judith Curry more than And Then There’s Physics, Steve McIntyre more than Gavin Schmidt. And I don’t trust Michael Mann at all.
The only Climate-involved people I have ever met are Steve Mosher, Anthony Watts and Richard Muller. Steve’s a friend, so is Anthony and Richard seems like a nice enough guy. None of them fit the descriptions of the villainous caricatures floating around the Internet. I suspect that is true of most of the people I haven’t met as well.
Since I moved my thinking from skeptic to lukewarmer six or seven years ago, I have seen little that would change my point of view. Certainly this year has been no exception. The profusion of panic stories leading up to COP 21 in Paris should be embarrassing to those on the side of the consensus. On the other side, those cheering Lamar Smith’s chasing emails of scientists should be every bit as embarrassed as those calling for RICO prosecutions of skeptics and Raul Grijalva’s investigations of skeptics as well.
Looking at 2015 from a climate lens, there is little for any of the three sides to be proud of.
Climate change still is very real to me. It is still something we should work to avoid or adapt to. But it also still pales for me in comparison to the problems facing those in the developing world and I still think our efforts should incline more to the second set of problems than the first.