Both the followers of the mainstream view of climate change and their opponents have heroes–for example, James Hansen and Michael Mann are lauded for their part in articulating the consensus, Judith Curry and Steve McIntyre for explicating the position on the other side of the fence.
What’s perhaps surprising is how thoroughly detested each of these people are by their opponents. Skeptics won’t say a nice word about James Hansen, who is a respected climate scientist who has contributed a lot to our knowledge. (I can understand why Mann is disliked–I’m a bit puzzled why he is defended so fiercely, to be honest.) My sympathies do lie with Mr. Hansen, who is now being equally reviled by those to the left of him for his support of nuclear power and his condemnation of the Paris COP 21 meeting as a trivial exercise yielding nothing concrete.
Similarly, Judith Curry, a respected climate scientist who has contributed a lot to our knowledge, is reviled by climate activists and called a denier by Michael Mann. Steve McIntyre is loathed, not for any element of his personality, but because his criticisms of some pieces of activist science were so to the point that it may have helped stop the stampede towards wholesale acceptance of activist policies.
If anyone is looking for evidence that the climate debate is not about science, the hostility engendered by these individuals surely qualifies. In World War 2 the Allies respected Erwin Rommel, the Desert Fox and the Axis held similar respect for George Patton. The idea that policy opponents on climate change should be compared to evil characters of mythic proportions and assaulted on every front shows that no rational thought is pursued in the climate change Arena of Destruction.
With the possible exception of Mann, who really seems a bit unsavory, the figures being assailed are quite obviously persons of good will, good intentions and high accomplishment. (And it would be easy to replace Mann on the pedestal with any one of a number of scientific figures as praiseworthy as James Hansen.) They have stood up for a point of view, put their reputations on the line and worked very hard to make their views and the reasoning (and science) behind those views known to all. Truth be told, although partisans do detest these figures, either side would welcome the defection of their opponents.
Both the skeptical and activist sides of the climate debate are fortunate to have those figures as opponents. It keeps you sharp and keeps your arguments on a proper plane. If you don’t succumb to the easy temptation of demonization. The Lukewarmers I know look to each of the three with respect and have learned from each of them. (Mann, I believe, is as detested by Lukewarmers almost as much as by skeptics.)
On an issue as important as climate change, with the money to be made or lost and the stakes in play this high, each side should be glad to have worthy opponents.