The battlelines #14 My perspective on Climate Change

The ‘climate change’ issue is the most interesting encounter between politics and science that I think has ever occurred, and it is still occurring, after nearly thirty years. I’ve little doubt it will be with us for quite a while. Only a prolonged period of lower temperatures will erase the global warming scare, and if that occurs we are likely to have another scare, this time about a return to the Ice Age. Human societies respond to scares, even when their members are well educated. The environmental movement will continue for a long time because one can always point to problems with the environment and, as I have written before, it has something of the characteristics of a religion, where facts don’t really matter.

Does the global scare matter? In material terms, not very much, even if the scare make you cross. The amounts spent on the unproductive side of the scare, in pointless research (not that the researchers saw it so), in employing people to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, and in messaging about it all, are not very large in terms of GDP or even of government expenditure. There are lots of other wasted and empty expenditures that taxpayers have to bear. Western countries are wealthy, and they can and do support a lot of waste. As soon as one pointless expenditure is dealt with, another one will appear.

Where it matters much more is in the devaluation of science that has occurred in consequence of activist scientists’ pushing the scare in defiance of the uncertainty that surrounds virtually all of the thousands and thousands of papers that make up ‘climate science’. The growth of science and the research endeavour over the past half-century has produced a growing unhappiness with the quality of some research, and of the failure of the peer-review system to identify poor work quickly enough. It is not simply climate science that has been involved. There are other complaints about biomedical research and psychology, in particular.

Science is often presented by the media as though there is a universal agreement about whatever the issue is. ‘Science tells us…’, or ‘scientists warn’, or ‘science puts paid to denialism’. Headlines or statements of this kind are common. Science is a way of doing things, not a body of authority. Of course, many people want to believe that science is authoritative, because they feel the need to be told what to do. In the climate-change issue there is, and has been from the beginning, lively debate about many aspects of the issue. They are not broadcast in the media, but occur through publication, conferences and websites.

The debaters don’t form two teams. There are several points of view. Richard Muller, best known for the Berkeley BEST temperature data, has proposed a set of definable positions:

Alarmists. They pay little attention to the details of the science. They are “unconvincibles.” They say the danger is imminent, so scare tactics are both necessary and appropriate, especially to counter the deniers. They implicitly assume that all global warming and human-caused global warming are identical.

Exaggerators. They know the science but exaggerate for the public good. They feel the public doesn’t find an 0.64°C change threatening, so they have to cherry-pick and distort a little—for a good cause.

Warmists. These people stick to the science. They may not know the answer to every complaint of the skeptics, but they have grown to trust the scientists who work on the issues. They are convinced the danger is serious and imminent.

Lukewarmists. They, too, stick to the science. They recognize there is a danger but feel it is uncertain. We should do something, but it can be measured. We have time.

Skeptics. They know the science but are bothered by the exaggerators, and they point to serious flaws in the theory and data analysis. They get annoyed when the warmists ignore their complaints, many of which are valid. This group includes auditors, scientists who carefully check the analysis of others.

Deniers.They pay little attention to the details of the science. They are “unconvincibles.” They consider the alarmists’ proposals dangerous threats to our economy, so exaggerations are both necessary and appropriate to counter them.

Muller thinks of himself as a lukewarmer, as do I, though I would write the text there to say that lukewarmers would do nothing until there was a real measured need.

You will see that there is considerable agreement within some of these groups. Richard Lindzen, perhaps the most celebrated of the sceptical scientists (there are dozens, probably hundreds, of them), has also spoken about the levels of agreement.  He thought there were three groups of participants:

1) knowledgeable scientists who largely agree with the findings of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its five assessment reports (ARs);

2) knowledgeable scientists (such as those in the Non-governmental Panel for Climate Change (NIPCC)) who largely disagree with the findings of the IPCC that burning of fossil fuels may cause dangerous global warming;

and 3) politicians, environmentalists, and the media.

I would want another category which includes me, and other sceptics.

The scientists by no means disagree on everything, says Lindzen. They agree on these positions:

• The climate is always changing.
• CO2 is a greenhouse gas, without which life on earth is not possible, but adding it to the atmosphere should lead to some warming.
• Atmospheric levels of CO2 have been increasing since the end of the Little Ice Age in the 19th century.
• Over the past two centuries, the global mean temperature has increased slightly and irregularly by about one degree Celsius.
• Given the complexity of climate, no accurate predictions about future global mean temperature or its impact can be made.

The last dot-point comes from the IPCC’s AR4 which said straightforwardly that in climate research and modelling we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible. The most we can expect to achieve is the prediction of the probability distribution of the system’s future possible states by the generation of ensembles of model solutions. What does that mean? Bigger and bigger computers are needed, but even then accurate predictions are out.

I think that the Muller and Linden distinctions are useful, and what they tell us is that there is not a simple battle between ‘the science’ and ‘the denialists’. It’s all much more complex than that, and it will go on for some time, I think. We have had thirty years of serious expense on the science of it all, without any great advance. Nature will be ultimately be the judge.

Later: There ought to have been a reference to the source of the Muller definitions, and there now is.

Join the discussion 62 Comments

  • alan moran says:

    A very good analysis and depiction of the positions with the Lindzen position surely unassailable.

    I would dispute your characterization of the economic costs as trivial (I know, my words). Unlike most other interventions and worthless spending measures, the climate control measures have a pervasive effect throughout the economy. It mattered that we once had tariffs that doubled the price of motor cars but that simply led to some misallocation of resources and a tax on the consumer.

    In the case of greenhouse measures, it would be similar if the impost was simply on consumers. But the tax, unlike wasteful regulatory measures in the past, is imposed on production as an input. It affects energy prices, probably doubling them at source, and prevents new investment in low cost supplies; this is leading to a departure of energy intensive production. Similarly it is used to buy back Murray Darling water thereby undermining the productive capabilities of our most important agricultural province.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Alan, I thought about that point and finally decided to leave the text as it was. There is waste everywhere. The Americans have no doubt wasted more on misguided research into what happens to the spotted nerk if warming rises by 1 degree C, but then they do much more research than us anyway, and can afford it. We have waste in health education, defence — you name it. I don’t think what has been spent on AGW is outstanding in its cost, but I’d be happy to qualify these remarks if someone has done the work.

      My point is that none of these other forms of waste imperils the scientific method, and the disinterested passion of scientists to find out about Nature, as ‘climate change’ has, and that means we can no longer be sure about other ‘findings’ that scientists have for us. Indeed, there is real anxiety now within the scientific community about the quality, truth and validity of much of what has been published in the journals. We do need to fix that. Nature can look after AGW.

      • Mike says:

        Don, I think the economic implications of climate change are worth reflecting on. I suspect the object is to sell economic reform dressed up as environmental salvation to placate the masses. Support for the ETS and its certificates of hot air seems almost universal throughout the political class and the big end of town. Banks have become altruistic about climate change, an unusual position from them. Think of the logic of this remark “global warming impacts poor people first, therefore we must massively increase the price of electricity to help poor people “. In other words the commercialisation of CO2 is so important it doesn’t matter if its ruinous, at least in the medium term.
        I wish we could have an open debate about these aspects

  • David says:

    Professor Muller’s views on Global warming

    • Don Aitkin says:

      That is not what this essay is about.

      • David says:

        Yes it is. You claim that you and Prof Muller are both “Lukewarmists”. I’d argue
        1. Muller embraces empirical analysis and you do not
        2. Muller uses data pre 1979 and you dismiss it.
        3. Muller reports the relationship ship between CO2 and temperature as “smack on” whereas you doubt it.
        4. Muller dismisses a range of alternative correlates (e.g. sunspots etc.) were as you entertain them.

        In my opinion you are totally different.

        • Don Aitkin says:

          Tripe. I am using Lindzen and Muller to help enlarge the view of the climate debate as a simple binary divide. I don’t care what he says about climate change. The issue is the nature of the debate. As it happens, I think I wrote about ‘lukewarmist/ism’ before he did, as did others. But as i said, I think his set of categories is useful, no more. I am not bound by his definitions.

        • JimboR says:

          It seems the Lukewarmists are a very broad church indeed. It kinda’ makes you question whether there is any value at all in these categories.

  • BB says:

    I think the push for renewable energy is not insignificant and is a large concern. From all I read it is certainly having large economic effects in Europe. Environmentalism changes the welfare of people there is now a phrase describing this. That is the energy poor, people who spend more than 10% of their income on energy. In the UK and Europe these number in the tens of thousands. Germany’s production capacity is greatly diminished and it is facing the problem of industry moving away. As I understand it California also had this problem indeed it probably still does. In Australia our consumption of electricity has declined it is not mentioned much in the mainstream media but why is this? Could it be the rise in energy costs has resulted in manufacturing enterprises closing. I read a government report on New South Wales use of electricity which stated clearly the decline had been because several large businesses closed.

    The Indians are trying to open a coal mine in Queensland. The company is Adani they want the coal to provide electricity for people who most likely have none at the moment in India. There are a large number of environmental groups who are trying to stop this. It started with opposition to a port. The claim was that this was going to ruin the Great Barrier Reef but it has moved on to using anything possible to stop the mine. Labor the unions, Greenpeace, WWF, the Greens party and a number of independents in the Senate are involved. This is very similar to the efforts of Erlich many decades ago to stop grain exports to India and the financing of sterilisation and birth control in India.

    I do not expect in the long-term this push to stop the use of fossil fuels will be successful but it certainly will and is causing quite a bit of pain. For the West by diminishing our economies we are handing the world over to Asia. We have to face the fact or should I say recognise the fact that there is a large amount of misanthropic sentiment in the environmental movement. I think their intention is to cause economic pain and that they do not really care much about global warming. Admittedly there are quite a number of them that espouse this view but they are the deluded useful idiots for the cause.

  • Neville says:

    Don I think I agree with most of your points in this essay. I don’t agree that the wasted funds so far spent and yet to be wasted on this so called mitigation of their CAGW isn’t a problem. This will cost us endless billions here in OZ and trillions $ around the world and won’t change the temp or Co2 levels at all. In fact even Obama’s EIA tells us to expect Co2 levels to increase by 34% by 2040.
    I find it incredible that few journalists want to seriously pursue this mitigation fraud, but a number still find fault with the science at every opportunity.
    Even the father of CAGW Dr James Hansen understands the mitigation fraud and at least had the guts to highlight their nonsense after COP 21 in Paris. He called the non binding agreement BS and a fraud and it is. Just ask India, China and other non OECD as they are generously funded by the OECD countries after increasing their own Co2 levels to new highs.

  • margaret says:

    It would be good if everyone who comments prefaced each of their comments with one of those definable positions.
    Example: Margaret, position- warmist. Position based on 1) wanting to quell emotive reaction to the comments from basically intelligent people around her who, the minute a severe weather event occurs categorise it as part of a threat to their own ‘safe world’, 2) reading articles from those who are scientifically analysing such occurrences and, if article doesn’t get boring and contain too many graphs and data that she can’t understand is able to adjust her position accordingly- (because she can’t do a damn thing about a runaway train), 3) a ‘feeling’ that it’s better to err on the side of historical knowledge of man’s progress since the industrial revolution than to be a lukewarmist.

    • margaret says:

      That is, the probable effects of man’s progress on planet earth since the industrial revolution. I believe that deleterious effects have occurred and that we should, with our advanced technology attempt to find alternatives to digging holes deeper.

      • Colin Davidson says:

        Thanks for sharing your opinion. Perhaps you would care to list those deleterious effects.
        To help out, let me list the positives of our fossil fuelled technological miracle:
        1. Since 1950, the world population has nearly trebled, but:
        a. The birth rate has decelerated in all but 2 countries
        b. Life expectancy has increased in all but two countries
        c. There are fewer people living in poverty, not only as a proportion, but also as an absolute number
        d. People are better educated in all but two countries
        e. The proportion of people with phones, cars, fridges, washing machines, all products, has increased in all but two countries.
        f. The environment in the rich West is measurably vastly better than it was then.
        2. Apart from the last statement, that progress has been occurring since the Industrial Revolution. Reminder – in the time prior to that the lives of ordinary people barely changed: starvation, abject poverty and unceasing labour were the norm during very short and nasty lives. The Golden Age was not “back then” but is now. And given the progress to date it is certain that the future will be even more golden, provided we don’t do something stupid, such as proscribe metals and fossil fuels.
        3. In the roman era a very few people were able to live as those of us in the West live now. On average they had 400 slaves. So that is a measure of what fossil fuels have done – provided each of us with 400 slaves.
        4. I agree that there are problems to be solve: far too many don’t have access to fresh water or electricity, and we need to address pollution in China , India, Brazil, Russia and the host of developing countries – they are focussed at present on bringing electricity to all. We need to keep going so that all the world prospers – we won’t be able to do anything about that though without employing the technological miracle. The main obstacles are human. North Korea and Zimbabwe are object lessons in how to go backwards. Venezuela looks like joining them shortly. And we in the West could join them if we eschew fossil fuels.

        • margaret says:

          Colin, I don’t know what position those of us who aren’t invested in the arguments but along with the rest of humankind are affected by the outcomes are “allowed” to take but I’ll stick with warmist position and your four points including the a,b,c,d and e and f of point one aren’t really at issue for me. I didn’t proscribe the use of fossil fuels, but advanced societies should seek alternatives because technology has progressed.
          It’s admirable that you wish for all the world to prosper. I didn’t realise that so many sceptics were such humanitarians. It seems that view from the Ferris wheel is a caring one after all.

          • margaret says:

            But black lung and asbestosis… not good.

          • Colin Davidson says:

            Thanks for your reply.
            It seems we have positions which are quite close.
            I take from your last post that you want to see fully automated mining, so that miners are not put at risk. I am not an expert in this field, but I would think that we are likely to see that within 30 years. [Obviously we cannot at present do away with coal mines – we need coal for many other things besides making electricity – steel (it takes around 300 tons of coal to make the steel for every wastemill, I mean windmill, pylon) and tarmac, and plastics and other chemicals come to mind.]

          • margaret says:

            I want to see no child labour in Nepalese brick kilns so that children can get an education and become doctors if they wish to.
            PBS NewsHour report on SBS.

          • margaret says:

            … and some irony was trying to be implemented by me in my previous answer to your litany of the benefits of fossil fuels – unsuccessfully it seems.

          • Colin Davidson says:

            Thanks for your response Margaret.
            I guess the reason we don’t have the problems the Nepalese have with brick kilns is that we use more advanced technology.
            The solution to the Nepalese problem is to use more advanced technology.
            That has been the history of industrialisation: the more it continues, the safer and cheaper it becomes to make things or do things.
            [In the same vein, it will be much easier for the Bangladeshis to solve their inundation problems now than it was for the Dutch in the 16th and 17th centuries, due to the earthmoving machines which are now available to do the task.].

          • Don Aitkin says:

            Margaret, mining is decreasingly reliant on unskilled human labour. In Broken Hill, on my last visit, I learned that 500 miners today produce more ore than 12,000 did just before the First World War. And deaths in these jobs have diminished to almost zero. That said, mining is one of the dangerous occupations. There are others. It is not alone. In all of them, we have reduced deaths and serious injuries to a tiny proportion. Even on the roads, our death rate in 1970 was 30 per 100,000 people; it is now 6 per hundred thousand. We have learned a lot, and we do minimise the human cost of our advanced living standards. Other countries are trying to do the same, but the first imperative, for almost everything, is cheap, reliable and available electricity, whatever its source.

          • margaret says:

            Yes, having experienced a lengthy blackout in the city as a first world human I would not do well without electricity and I’m not suggesting that developing countries shouldn’t benefit from it also.
            However there is incongruity in Laos village huts connected to electricity and village people gathered around their television sets.
            Oh, I’m segueing again.

          • Don Aitkin says:

            No, it is a perfectly acceptable jump. The King of Thailand acted to ensure that villages were connected to the grid, so that schools could have electricity and open at night for interested villagers to learn what they wanted to learn. There is always incongruity, somewhere, about almost everything.

  • Doug Hurst says:

    A good article Don. I especially like the discussion of the various camps and Lindzen’s list, which few openly dispute but many ignore – especially the point about the impossibility of reliable predictions.

    But I agree with comments that wasted expenditure is a major concern. Every dollar wasted is a dollar not spent on a real problem. Bjorn Lomborg makes this case very convincingly but – here we are dealing with a separate but related problem – his facts-based, rational analysis is not used in Government decision making for reasons we all know; mainly the disgraceful abandonment of free speech in our universities and the gutless behaviour of those in charge who give in to politically motivated pressure from staff and students, and politicians more interested in votes than facts who aid and abet such behaviour by doing nothing to restore free speech everywhere.

    Like Neville, I too find it incredible that so few journalists seriously investigate the need for mitigation and the absurd claims that we can power the world with renewables when three quarters of world power still comes from fossil fuels and wind/solar contribute only about 1%. There is so much material here I would have thought any number of journos would be queued up to make a name for themselves exposing the waste and bad science.

    The devaluation of science and its politicalisation that sees most ALP and virtually all Green politicians and supporters uncritical true-believers are serious problems. Our politicians all promise facts-based decision making, but too few follow through when ‘Climate’ is the issue. Why otherwise intelligent people behave like religious converts is a mystery to me. But they do, and that’s a big part of the problem.

  • Colin Davidson says:

    Don, Thanks for this very sensible piece.
    I fall into the Skeptic category (I prefer Muller’s list. I hadn’t seen it before, so thanks.)
    And I agree that Lindzen’s list of points which are agreed by scientists is sensible and accurate.

  • gnome says:

    Muller is having himself on, in an orgy of self-satisfaction. By his definition I would happily classify myself as a denier- an unconvincable – except that I do pay a lot of attention to the science, and I am totally dissatisfied with the quality of “the science” and a lot more enamoured of the sceptical science.

    The idea that there is a global mean surface temperature, and that it is either calculable or measurable or that the current one is optimal is a total nonsense, and Muller’s BEST study’s support for that nonsense renders Muller unfit to be a part of any future discussion.

    Real science tells us that extra CO2 is good for all life on earth. Real science tells us that wetter is better. I’m sitting in the wettest place in Australia typing this, and I’m wishing for more rain (even though the sugar harvest which was supposed to start here at the start of last week only started today due to rain delays) because more is better even if it is sometimes inconvenient. I even believe corals can adapt themselves to warm water, though “the science” tells us they only survive in cold water.

    If they stop lying, I will start believing, then I can advance from denier to sceptic. Until then I will continue to pay little attention to the details of the science. What a wanker that Muller truly is!

    • Colin Davidson says:

      I agree with you on reefs.
      The warmest seawater in the world is in the Arabian Gulf. Littered with coral reefs.
      The waters of the Arafura Sea and the Placel between Australia and New Guinea are very warm – much warmer than most of the Great Barrier Reef. And dangerous to navigation, as the area is cluttered, not to say choked with reefs.
      Coral reefs can’t exist in hot waters? People who claim that are confessing ignorance.

    • NameGlenM says:

      For all things considered and coming from being an adherent to the orthodoxy to sitting on the fence-as it were,I am firmly in the denier box.I see the premise as one big lie an attempt to disrupt the paradigm if you like.The science is not “in” and simple models of radiative physics don’t do it.

  • Aert Driessen says:

    Don, I’m not sure what to make of this piece. As I see it, all science is driven only by evidence and only evidence. As they say, in Science evidence trumps everything else. There is no discussion of evidence here, not even a mention of the word. There is NO evidence in Earth history (the geological record) that CO2 has been a factor (even a minor one) in climate change, ever. And so I see this issue in a much more serious light — the deliberate undermining of the Scientific Method which has delivered so much. But I can’t figure out why. What motive could drive this? A motive that occurs to me is human nature which means that we are always going to have this problem or similar ones, and the particular components of human nature that I have in mind are ego and greed. I see people trained in science pushing the knowledge boundary beyond credibility for what? Fame? Funds? Acceptance? Recognition? Then I see supposed investigative journalists who don’t have a clue about what they are trying to describe to also big-note themselves driven by the same human frailties. Then the politicians see all this as a mechanism for control and that is the end game. As you rightly say, this is also happening in medicine and pharmacology, and no doubt all science-based disciplines. Let me explain the ego factor. When I grew up only medical doctors and PhDs were entitled to use the title ‘Doctor’ a minimum of 6 years study and often more. Then it was successively taken up by dentists, vets (both 4-year courses as I understand it) and last week I saw the title on the door of a chiropractor. And so let me use you excellent column to invite anyone who has evidence that CO2 causes climate change to present it here. I actually have evidence that it doesn’t but what is the point of saying (again) that the geological record shows that temperature drives CO2 and not the other way around, and that in human history al evidence says that warming is good. I’m beginning to think that a ‘name and shame’ register is the way to go — fight human nature with human nature. Keep up the good work.

    • Alan Gould says:

      You invoke the term ‘human nature’ then append to it ‘ego’ and ‘greed’ as being the factors that moil the clear reception of evidence. As you know from our exchanges, I have long thought the AGW controversy is, fundamentally, a sociopathy, so let me slot in a pre-condition in the ‘Nature’ of humans to your ego and greed, which is FEAR, or INSECURITY.
      Indisputably, the uncertainties driving the trenchancy of warmism is a widespread fear as to the safety of our home, Planet Earth. The grounds for the fear do not have to be real for the fear to be real, and I believe (and observe) this to lie behind the alarmist case – a panic minus stampede, as it were.
      Now fear is based on the feeling of powerlessness in a situation, and so breeds manifestations of trying to possess, or at least show, a taking of power to overcome the source of the anxiety (whether it is days that sizzle, seas that overwhelm, hurricaens that pop once a fortnight). And here things like your ‘ego’ and ‘greed’ arrive in the picture.
      This fear is an elusive thing because the perceived danger does not resemble the barbarians arriving at the gate or the comet looming on its collision course. But I think it is basic to the issue, has deep provenance in human reactions to similar perceived perils from former times (the Reds, witchcraft, Halley’s Comet etc). If academe recovers integrity and maintains a curiosity about the world, I reckon the most curious and governing attribute attaching to the AGW disgrace will be its sociopathy. One might almost give a title to the textbook…’The Panic Molecule’

    • Don Aitkin says:


      I’ve been away and missed your comment early on. Not all science is bound by evidence — physics and chemistry both have sections called ‘theoretical’, which are thought exercises for the most part. Eventually, if they have real bearing on anything material, there will need to be observations and evidence of some kind. But these sections can exist for a long time without any evidence at all. I think String Theory is an example.

      And as the Climate Botherers are fond of saying, we only have the one planet, and it takes a long time to see what effects humanity (or indeed any other forces) have on its climate, ecology or whatever. What you offer are suggestive instances for which the data are poor (as is the case when the Climate Bs put forward their evidence). The data offered to ‘prove’ climate things are really bad.

  • Neville says:

    I see the idiot Andrew’s Labor govt in Vic has jumped on the emissions reduction bandwagon and plans for zero emissions by 2050. This super expensive fraud will just ensure that electricity prices will be much higher from now on and our power will be more unreliable and industry will face much higher costs into the future.
    And zero change to climate, temp or co2 levels or anything else. And yet people vote for these donkeys? I hope Alan Moran looks into this fiasco.

    • Socrates says:

      I wonder whether the Chief Scientist should be asked to spell out how many wind towers will be needed in Victoria to fulfill the renewables vision of Daniel Andrews. Then Daniel Andrews should be asked where specifically these (thousands?) of wind towers will be built in the already crowded suburbs of Melbourne.

  • Alan Gould says:

    Thanks for this inventory of viewpoints. As a poet, the description of ‘The Exaggerators’ and their counterparts, ‘The Deniers’ reminds me of a phrase used by someone to describe the enterprise of poetry…”Poetry lies for the improvement of truth.”

  • Boambee John says:

    Gnome and Colin,

    On the subject of reefs, and coral adapting to change, the “alarmist” view seems to be that adaptation to change, that is evolution, can not happen.

    Why are tha alarmists “deniers” of evolution?

  • Boambee John says:


    During the Cold War, the acronym used by intelligence services to sum up the means of recruiting foreign agentscwas MICE, Money, Ideology, Conscience, Ego.

    I see many alarmist scientists receiving literally millions of dollars in research grants (Money); at the same time, they seem to have poiltical objectives, such as Maurice Strong’s srared desire to destroy Western industrial civilisation (Ideology).

    Then I see a strong element of Conscience in some commenters like Ian MacDougal.

    Finally, many of the “superstars” of environmentalism, like Gore, Suzuki, Flannery, Garnaut, display an unhealthy love of the limelight.

    Trap the MICE to solve the problem!

  • Boambee John says:

    “agents was”, “political objectives”, “stated desire”.

    I think Ian Mac might comment more at Quadrant On Line than here.

    • dlb says:

      Ian is an interesting species, a conservative “warmist”. I can’t recall him commenting here though.

      As for me I’m a swinging “sceptic”, though I usually self identify as a luke warmer, as I would be highly surprised if the doubling of CO2 would have produce a temperature increase of more than 2 deg C.

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    I would add another category: the ‘unbelievers’. These are the people who neither know nor care about the science, but who are convinced that, if there is a problem, humans can do nothing about it.

    Assertions otherwise are bombast and self-delusion.

  • JimboR says:

    “Muller thinks of himself as a lukewarmer, as do I”

    Really Don? Even by those definitions? You consider yourself more one who “stick(s) to the science” rather than one who “point(s) to serious flaws in the theory and data analysis”? Personally, I think your essays would be a lot more convincing if you did more of the former and less of the latter.

  • Don Aitkin says:

    As I said re David above, I thought Muller’s set of categories was useful, and I am not bound by his definitions. You are aways welcome to establish your own website, of course.

    • JimboR says:

      So Don, what are your definitions? What is it about your position that makes you a Lukewarmist and not a Skeptic? I know you’ve often said you believe the Earth is in a gentle warming phase; is that sufficient to move you from Skeptic to Lukewarmist according to your definitions? Do all Skeptics believe the Earth isn’t getting warmer, according to your definitions?

      • David says:

        ” I think when people channel George Orwell’s Animal Farm their anti AGW argument they move into Category 5:

        “Deniers.They pay little attention to the details of the science. They are “unconvincibles.” They consider the alarmists’ proposals dangerous threats to our economy, so exaggerations are both necessary and appropriate to counter them.”

      • Don Aitkin says:

        Why should I do your work? Could could go into the website and explore, since I’ve written about it before, as I said. But look, some people just need help.

        That’s a start. Note that there are no hard and fast definitions, and the fact that you want them tells us something about your position…

  • Neville says:

    I think Muller’s description of a sceptic is close to my position on their CAGW. Here’s Muller’s view again.

    “Skeptics. They know the science but are bothered by the exaggerators, and they point to serious flaws in the theory and data analysis. They get annoyed when the warmists ignore their complaints, many of which are valid. This group includes auditors, scientists who carefully check the analysis of others.”
    But I think that the alarmists side gets of too easily when they push their mitigation fraud. This has to be the greatest and most corrupt Ponzi scheme in history. They are signing us up to something that cannot be delivered by 2040 or 2100 or whenever. What’s more their own reports support my claims See Obama’s latest EIA report and the latest Royal Society, NAS report question 20.
    Even silly Flannery admitted to Andrew Bolt that it could take a thousand years before temps or Co2 levels started to fall.

  • JimboR says:

    Don, I’m wondering if this essay might benefit from some minor edits to improve clarity. You quote Muller’s definitions of six positions and then put yourself in one of those categories alongside Muller. You even take the liberty of tweaking his definition every so slightly (“I would write the text there to say that lukewarmers would do nothing until there was a real measured need.”) before climbing on in beside him in the Lukewarmist category.

    Surely any reasonable reader of this essay would have to assume that it’s Muller’s definition (along with your tweak to it) that you are using when you categorise yourself and Muller as Lukewarm buddies. Now, deep down here in the comments you reveal that you have a completely different definition of Lukewarmer. Surely the reader of this essay deserved to know that; perhaps even just a footnote right alongside your tweak to Muller’s definition?

    I wonder if you’re trying to paint a picture that has you way further inside the climate science tent than you actually are. As David points out, your position is a million miles from Muller’s (and Judith Curry’s for that matter). And while you may have all arrived at the same ultimate destination (no need for immediate action) the paths you took to get there are vastly different. There are a lot of data, algorithms and conclusions that they accept but you reject. It’s the path they took that makes their musings on the topic so much more credible.

    I think your essays are at their best when they stick to the politics and policies of climate change, but they invariably come off the rails whenever you venture too close to the science. The risk there is that your conclusions may be tainted by the unsound path you took to get to them.

    There are perfectly respectable folk in your camp: JoNova, the FactorX/FFT guy whose name I can never remember, Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones, Tony Abbott (depending on the wind direction), Barnaby Joyce, Nick Minchin, Dennis Jensen. Kick back and enjoy the company of your tribe. Why pretend to be something you’re not?

    • dlb says:

      So which tribe are you Jimbo?
      Let me guess Lukewarmer, it’s becoming oh so hip and fashionable, now there is a bit of doubt and dirt in the warmist camp.
      Not to mention the GCMs are running a teensy bit high, but you really can’t mention them, that’s for the sceptics.

    • spangled drongo says:

      It’s one thing to believe in the theory of AGW due to ACO2e but when Jimbo’s revered science can’t link the two in the real world you have to be an alarmist to be squandering the world’s resources to solve a possible non-problem.

      Or maybe an outright criminal seizing the moment.

  • Don Aitkin says:

    Thank you for your suggestions. I have been doing this for four years now, and I have had no other suggestion that my work needs minor revisions for clarity. Yes, I could have said that neither Lindzen nor Muller has any copyright on the term they use, but most sensible readers would know that. As it happens there is enough slack in these terms, as I pointed out in other essays, for for me to sit comfortably enough with many others who call themselves lukewarmers. If you actually go and read the essay I linked for you, you’ll see why.

    Now perhaps you could offer some constructive suggestions about these terms and the battlelines..

    • JimboR says:

      Yes, I was trying to put myself in the place of someone who had only read this essay, or perhaps only read this “My perspective” Series. I thought one of the goals of the series was to bring it all together for newcomers, but it seems the pre-requisite reading is still large, scattered and unknown. Your standard response seems to be (paraphrased): “If you’d read everything I’ve ever written, you’d understand what I meant in this essay”.

      “for me to sit comfortably enough with many others who call themselves lukewarmers”

      You might be comfortable enough, but a more interesting question might be would they be? I suspect they’d get very busy drawing up internal battlelines once they realised the volume of science you’ve rejected and the basis on which you’ve rejected it. Muller wouldn’t need to I guess, he could simply check your views at the door and send you on down the hallway.

      • spangled drongo says:

        ” Muller wouldn’t need to I guess, he could simply check your views at the door and send you on down the hallway.”

        Is that right, Jimbo?

        Your lukewarmer hero, Muller, once said; “Let me be clear. My own reading of the literature and study of paleoclimate suggests strongly that carbon dioxide from burning of fossil fuels will prove to be the greatest pollutant of human history. It is likely to have severe and detrimental effects on global climate.”

        Recognise the lingo? A non scientific, confirmed alarmist attitude.

        Later on he claimed to be a sceptic which, still later, he denied.

        Muller seems to want to be all things to everybody so as to cover all future scientific revelations.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Thanks, Don, for setting it out in these relatively simple terms. And because climate science is so lacking in good measurable evidence as Aert says above, that is the way it needs to be put.

    My concept of the known and unknown unknowns has to put me square in the sceptics’ camp because if the “experts” really admitted their ignorance that’s the best anyone can be.

    When climate science has simply no explanation for various phenomena, they can’t make accurate judgements based on models that are based on ignorance.

    But it is also not hard to see why those same “experts” would choose to make a lot of the judgements and assumptions they do.

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    Life is much easier if you are unbeliever. When someone tells me exactly how much CO2 corresponds to one degree increase in temperature, there might be some point to the discussion. Until then, it’s pointless, if not completely ridiculous.

  • Neville says:

    More of those pesky much higher temps in the early Holocene when co2 levels were much lower than today. These temps from this PR study were up to 4 C higher than today. Many thanks to Co2 Science for their hard work.

    Warmer Temperatures at Lower CO2 Concentrations Reference
    Cheddadi, R., Lamb, H.F., Guiot, J. and van der Kaars, S. 1998. Holocene climatic change in Morocco: a quantitative reconstruction from pollen data. Climate Dynamics 14: 883-890.

    What was done
    The authors of this paper provide quantitative estimates of Holocene climate change using proxy data from a lake-sediment core in the Middle Atlas of Morocco. Specifically, they reconstructed January and July temperature and annual precipitation values over the past 10,000 years.

    What was learned
    Three main climate intervals were apparent in the data: (1) a warm and dry phase from 6.5 to 10 thousand years ago, where January and July temperatures were found to be about 4°C higher than present, (2) an intermediate phase characterized by relatively high mean January temperatures, and (3) a cooler and moist most recent phase. In addition, the authors note that “superimposed on the longer-term trends are short-term variations in all three climatic parameters,” lasting in some cases a century or more.

    What it means
    This paper adds to a growing body of research that clearly shows that over a period in earth’s climatic history when atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration varied but little and was approximately 100 ppm less than today’s value, mean annual temperatures in some locations were as much as “4°C warmer than the present.” Therefore, even major future warming would not be proof of the claim that it is CO2-induced. History often repeats itself; and climatic history is no exception.

    Reviewed 15 January 1999

    Copyright © 2016.

  • Neville says:

    This 2007 Stott et al PR study looks at the warming that occurred before the onset of our Holocene in the SH. Please read the paragraph ” What it means” at the end. Like in the ice core studies we find that temp increases first and Co2 follows. Even after the initial 2 C warming Co2 levels did not rise for 1,000 years.

    Southern Hemisphere Deglacial Warming and Atmospheric CO2 Increases Reference
    Stott, L., Timmermann, A. and Thunell, R. 2007. Southern Hemisphere and deep-sea warming led deglacial atmospheric CO2 rise and tropical warming. Science 318: 435-438.

    The authors write that establishing “the exact phasing of events during glacial terminations” is “a necessary step in understanding the physical relation between CO2 forcing and climate change.”

    What was done
    Working with a marine sediment core from the western tropical Pacific Ocean, Stott et al. “determined the chronology of high- and low-latitude climate change at the last glacial termination by radiocarbon dating benthic and planktonic foraminiferal stable isotope and magnesium/calcium records,” which provided a temporal resolution of 25 to 50 years for each sample over the period stretching from 10 to 22 thousand years before the present.

    What was learned
    The researchers report that “deep-sea temperatures warmed by ~2°C between 19 and 17 thousand years before the present, leading the rise in atmospheric CO2 and tropical-surface-ocean warming by ~1000 years.”

    What it means
    Stott et al. conclude that the cause of the deglacial deep-water warming “does not lie within the tropics, nor can its early onset between 19 and 17 thousand years before the present be attributed to CO2 forcing.” And since the rate of deep-water warming after the start of the increase in the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration did not increase (if anything, it declined), there is no compelling reason to believe that the deglacial increase in the air’s CO2 content had anything at all to do with any of the warming that led to the ultimate development of the current interglacial.
    Reviewed 13 August 2008

    Copyright ©

  • dasher says:

    As a lukewarmer I look forward to the day when we can have a serious discussion about climate change (as opposed to an echo chamber of delusional warmists or the rantings of lazy denialists). As Margaret Thatcher once said (in essence) climate change is one of those subjects where politicians can say the most stupid things with impunity. oh and I would put Thatcher in the lukewarmist after an early start as a warmest. To think that we could spend tens of billions of borrowed money on renewable energy initiatives without having to account for precisely how this will happen and the consequences of such action is confirmation of Thatchers words.

    • Neville says:

      Dasher it has been tried in the past on this blog and the alarmists have been found wanting. Apart from smart alec stupid comments they can’t answer any of the relevant questions. But Bolt has asked all the scientists and pollies for years how much temp rise will be avoided by their so called mitigation and just about everyone runs for cover.
      He grilled Flannery until he admitted that we could stop all Co2 emissions today and there still wouldn’t be a change in temp or Co2 levels for hundreds of years or perhaps a thousand years. Since supported by the RS and NAS report. Anyhow it’s all BS and fraud because Obama’s EIA now predicts Co2 levels will rise by a further 34% by 2040. IOW they can’t answer your question without resorting to lies, BS and fraud.

      • BB says:

        Something else Neville that is never answered is if you ask what temperature are we aiming for? What’s a good temperature? What’s a good CO2 level none? 300 ppm 400 ppm what is it?

    • gnome says:

      Lazy denialists?? You want us to work on your hoax?

      It’s your hoax sunshine, the onus is on you to justify destroying our economy, not on those of us who want to carry on business as usual. Sure I’m lazy, but all you have to do is stop lying and I’ll start believing.

  • dasher says:

    Yes Neville I know….the trouble is that politics, money and ideology now make this simple request all but impossible. I fear that we will learn the hard way and then watch the finger pointing.

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    Pity Gilbert and Sullivan are not still going – what could be more absurd than a civilisation sacrificing its own and its childrens’ wellbeing to avert a hypothetical (and unsubstantiated) threat to the welfare of its grandchildren?

  • Neville says:

    Here is Bolt’s revealing interview with Flannery in 2011. This is a long post but it is well worth reading if you have the time. Interesting comments as well.

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