Angry badgers: trolls, sceptics and distracting voices in the climate discussion

angry_badger

A lot of energy has been spent by myself and others on comments made by sceptics – both here and across the internet.

There are four things we should remember, established scientific facts beyond dispute: 

  • CO2 is a heat trapping molecule
  • We are emitting CO2 and other Greenhouse gases into the atmosphere through our activities
  • This is influencing the planet’s climate system
  • The scientific consensus on this is near universal – 97%

Understanding the science of climate change is about being an informed citizen. The deniers want to deprive you of the right to be informed about an issue of fundamental importance to our civilisation.

Merchants of FUD and their motivations

Skeptics employ a tactic called FUD.

Fear. Uncertainty. Doubt.

Create enough doubt about the science (so it is hoped) and action on climate change will be stalled long enough. Some want to do this for ideological reasons; others because they have a vested interest. Some trolls enjoy being contrary and love the attention.

Here is the thing. You will never know their motivations. But that does not matter.

What matters is your response, to engage or not.

What is happening here mimics the broader climate debate: a tiny minority disturbs the majority

I like to think I’ve gained some experience in the debate having run this blog for three years now.

Form what I see, perhaps 1-5% of the readers of this blog are sceptics. And yet those threads go on for hundreds of posts, consume the energy of many people and confuse, enrage and disrupt the tone of discussion.

This is symptomatic of the broader climate debate, where a tiny minority is distracting the majority.

When you find yourself dealing with troll behavior remember the cardinal rule of the internet “DO NOT FEED THE TROLL.”

Provide counter information, but remember you’ll never convince them. I’ve been a great deal of thought to this issue, especially as it pertains to WtD.

While I don’t believe in silencing dissenting voices (no matter how unpopular) I will be applying the WtD community guidelines with greater rigorAll posters, regardless of their views should take note.

Angry badgers and the Nasty Effect: how online discussions are derailed

Recent research has shown how the comments section of an article can influence the average readers perception:

“In a recent study, a team of researchers from the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication and several other institutions employed a survey of 1,183 Americans to get at the negative consequences of vituperative online comments for the public understanding of science. Participants were asked to read a blog post containing a balanced discussion of the risks and benefits of nanotechnology (which is already all around us and supports a $91 billion US industry). The text of the post was the same for all participants, but the tone of the comments varied. Sometimes, they were “civil”—e.g., no name calling or flaming. But sometimes they were more like this: “If you don’t see the benefits of using nanotechnology in these products, you’re an idiot.”

The researchers were trying to find out what effect exposure to such rudeness had on public perceptions of nanotech risks. They found that it wasn’t a good one. Rather, it polarized the audience: Those who already thought nanorisks were low tended to become more sure of themselves when exposed to name-calling, while those who thought nanorisks are high were more likely to move in their own favored direction. In other words, it appeared that pushing people’s emotional buttons, through derogatory comments, made them double down on their preexisting beliefs.”

See the study here, The “Nasty Effect:” Online Incivility and Risk Perceptions of Emerging Technologies:

“Uncivil discourse is a growing concern in American rhetoric, and this trend has expanded beyond traditional media to online sources, such as audience comments. Using an experiment given to a sample representative of the U.S. population, we examine the effects online incivility on perceptions toward a particular issue—namely, an emerging technology, nanotechnology. We found that exposure to uncivil blog comments can polarize risk perceptions of nanotechnology along the lines of religiosity and issue support.”

Angry Badgers: a denier tactic

While many of you are familiar with the tactics of think tanks, I thought it worth drawing attention to a recently uncovered Heartland Institute propaganda initiative.

Called “Operation Angry Badger” it was designed to derail a debate in the US over collective bargaining in the education sector:

A Chicago-based free-market think tank has prepared a strategy to sway the recall debate in Wisconsin, including detailing “the shortcomings of public schools,” according to leaked documents that appeared this week on the Internet.

“Operation Angry Badger” purportedly describes a Heartland Institute proposal that would cost about $612,000 and focus on promoting Wisconsin Act 10, which curtailed collective bargaining for most public-sector workers.

Heartland is one of the foremost think tanks behind the campaign to deny the science. The above is SOP, or standard-operating-procedure.

The Angry Badger tactic is one that seeks to inject distracting facts into a conversation.

Picture it this…

Imagine you are having an amazing discussion with someone.

Suddenly, a stranger walks up and shouts “Oh my god look over there an angry badger!!!!!!”

You’re distracted, and stop talking. The flow of the conversation is broken. You have to start all over again, missing some points.

This is exactly what trolls and sceptics want to do. Distract the flow of conversation with a dramatic, yet irrelevant fact (the Angry Badger).

What matters is your response.

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122 thoughts on “Angry badgers: trolls, sceptics and distracting voices in the climate discussion

  1. […] recent post on the blog, Watching the Deniers, raises an important issue that I think is worth passing on. A recent paper in The Journal of […]

  2. john byatt says:

    Another keeper

    Mark says:
    June 14, 2013 at 2:27 am
    I’m surprised that you’re puzzled by the term. Its used by the IPCC.

    Now if I was part of the swarm I be ridiculing your lack of knowledge here and screaming that you should read the paper even while suspecting that you had read the paper. But I’m more mature than that.

    With this term I refer to two main factors: solar variations and natural negative feedbacks, primarily the proposed negative water vapour feedback.

    In my view Svensmark is still very much on the cards. Even if cosmic rays turns out to be less than the full story, I’m of the view that the correlation between solar cycles and temperatures over the medium term is too good to be coincidence and requires explanation. Svensmark is but one potential explanation.
    Similarly there is still much work to be done on the response of water vapour to rising temperatures. It seems to me that it is as likely as not that water vapour acts as a thermostat. Much more needs to be done and studied.

    Bottom line for me is to remember history. Why was there a MWP or a LIA. Why did temps rise post 1800. Why did they fall in the 40s. Why have surface temps plateaued. Although of those were the result of natural forcings. They need to be understood before being dismissed as no longer relevant.

    And, I suspect, once they are understood, we’ll understand why they remain relevant.

    That big yellow thing in the sky is of some significance. Assuming that making a small change to the atmosphere is enough to offset it is both the worst sort of hubris and another examples of the ‘sin of presentism’.

    • john byatt says:

      Put up the paper on the proposed negative water vapor feedback

      let me guess

      • john byatt says:

        Mark ” WV acts as a thermostat for the climate, a negative feedback in rising temps a positive feedback in falling temps”

        have you been reading creationist Dr Wes Allen’s book ?

        .

        • john byatt says:

          Wes Allen

          [Flannery says in The Weather Makers], “Earth’s thermostat is a complex and delicate mechanism, at the heart of which lies carbon dioxide.”

          If Earth does indeed have a thermostat, the heart of it has to be water – vast quantities of it. It takes more energy to raise the temperature of one gram of water by 1 degree than of any other common substance. The massive oceans, glaciers and lakes, comprising over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, stabilise Earth’s temperature. Water vapour, the dominant greenhouse gas, forms reflective clouds, precipitates as rain and transfers enormous quantities of heat vertically and horizontally around the planet. Compared to water in all its forms, carbon dioxide is a small peripheral player.

          well he thinks that god will save us

  3. john byatt says:

    Update friday 7PM

    Mark does not know the difference between TCS and ECS

    believes that it will take a few 100 years for another .5Degc anomaly

    confuses feedbacks and forcings

    believes that grapes are a proxy for climate

    believes that NASA is in on a conspiracy

    believes that Y2K was a hoax

    believes that 2nd hand smoke does not cause cancer

    believes that normal climate is one in which you get rapidly increasing record temperatures and extreme events

    mark cannot work out why he came here

    • BBD says:

      Believes that WV is a dominant negative forcing yet also that the climate system is highly variable (as indeed it is).

      This is another agonising example of how weak Mark’s grasp of physical climatology actually is.

      • Mark says:

        “Believes that WV is a dominant negative forcing”

        Actually, BBD, that’s not at all what I said. What I actually said is that its likely that WV acts as a thermostat for the climate, a negative feedback in rising temps a positive feedback in falling temps. Hence, in part, our relatively stable climate.

        Now I could go into all the uncertainties about WV and many of the other feedbacks, uncertainties about the extent and sign of their feedback properties, etc etc. But you’re not interested in that.

        Its actually not surprising that you misread what I said since you are obviously much more anxious to pronounce how wrong I am than to consider what’s being said. Standard BBD – whatever you said is wrong, and even if I misread it its wrong, and even if its right, its wrong, and btw shutup.

        • Stable climate, yes, Normal climate, no. He doth gyre and gimble in the wabe.

        • BBD says:

          Error: forcing. Should have written “feedback”. But you haven’t answered the necessary and fundamental question:

          Explain paleoclimate variability if WV is a net negative feedback stabilising T.

          Whence the MWP? Whence the LIA? How do we get into and out of glacials? Etc.

          Just *think* for a moment, Mark.

          If the climate system is dominated by negative WV feedback it is, by definition, insensitive to radiative perturbation. But we can see from modern and paleoclimate behaviour that this isn’t the case. So positive feedbacks must predominate within the climate system. Obviously. QED.

          One has but to *think*, Mark.

        • john byatt says:

          Oh I can see it coming from here,

          ” well it is back to normal now isn’t it? must be god wot done it”

        • Mark says:

          I wrote “relatively stable climate”….he read”stable climate”

          I wrote “a negative feedback in rising temps a positive feedback in falling temps”…he read “WV is a net negative feedback stabilising T.”

          What can I say….

        • BBD says:

          a negative feedback in rising temps a positive feedback in falling temps.

          Hopeless confusion strikes again. You muddle up clouds and WV and the definitions of negative and positive feedbacks. A pig’s breakfast, Mark.

          WV is indeed a positive feedback during cooling. Positive feedbacks amplify the effect of a forcing.

          When orbital dynamics reduce summer insolation at high NH latitudes and the NH ice sheets begin to grow, the climate cools. Ice albedo increases (a positive feedback) and the atmospheric WV content falls as the atmosphere cools. WV is, as we all know, a potent GHG. When there is less of it in the atmosphere, the climate system *cools faster*.

          The reverse is true during warming. More WV results in more absorption and re-radiation of IR in the atmosphere and consequent accumulation of energy in the climate system. WV is *still* a positive feedback.

          You have once again demonstrated that you are helplessly confused about the basics of physical climatology.

          You are in no position to make sarcastic remarks to me Mark. No position at all. So you might want to think about ditching the teenage attitude now.

        • BBD says:

          Now, stop dodging and explain paleoclimate variability if WV is a net negative feedback stabilising T.

          Whence the MWP? Whence the LIA? How do we get into and out of glacials? Etc.

          If the climate system is dominated by negative WV feedback it is, by definition, insensitive to radiative perturbation. But we can see from modern and paleoclimate behaviour that this isn’t the case. So positive feedbacks must predominate within the climate system.

          Either admit that you are wrong, or explain how we get variability in response to minor forcing changes (MWP; LIA; orbitally triggered deglaciation) if the climate system is insensitive because feedbacks net negative.

          Go on. No more lip and no more childish evasions.

          I want an answer or a retraction out of you this time.

        • BBD says:

          Come on, troll. Get on with it.

        • Mark only appears relatively foolish,not foolish. Glad that was clarified.

          Delightful.

        • BBD says:

          Mark appears to have run away.

          Without answering the question or retracting his nonsense.

          So Mark is going to get asked again.

        • Mark says:

          “Mark appears to have run away.”
          This is going to come as a surprise to you BBD, but I do have a life beyond this blog or the virtual world in general. I don’t actually sit in front of my screen hoping against hope that you ask me a question. Please take a seat while you read this, but its not all about you, no matter what mummy told you.

          “If the climate system is dominated by negative WV feedback it is, by definition..”

          Nowhere have I said WV dominates the climate system. I had opined that natural forcings may well overwhelm CO2 in the future as they have for the past decade or so. I was asked what they were and I mentioned two – solar and WV as examples of the type of things I was talking about.

          I could have written a much more massive missive and bought in PDO’s and AMO’s and La Nina’s and El Nino’s and ozone holes and Antarctic expansion et cetc . But the point at the time was to show john the type of things I was alluding to, not to write a thesis on natural forcings.

          The point is simple. Natural forcings caused changes that resulted in the rise in temps in the MWP and the end of the LIA. Equally they caused the fall in temps at the end of the MWP and the beginning of the LIA. They caused the rise in temps following the Dalton minimum and the fall in temps in the 40′s as well as the pre-adjustment record temps in the 1930′s.

          They are also the cause for the lack of warming in the naughties. I don’t accept that they won’t continue to overwhelm anthropological forcings into the century.

        • Watching the Deniers says:

          Hi Mark, you need references to otherwise these are merely assertions. Please see guidelines regarding scientific claims:

          http://watchingthedeniers.wordpress.com/about/community-and-discussion-guidelines/

          > When making any claim (scientific or otherwise) provide references (links if possible) for others to evaluate your argument/s – repeated failure to do so may result in disciplinary action
          > Avoid “Gish Gallops”: long posts with multiple claims not supported by evidence – repeated failure to do so may result in disciplinary action

          You’ve breached two of the guidelines in that post, please be more specific Mark.

        • john byatt says:

          Mark ” It seems to me that it is as likely as not that water vapour acts as a thermostat

          ” Natural forcings
          are also the cause for the lack of warming in the naughties. I don’t accept that they won’t continue to overwhelm anthropological forcings into the century”

          natural variations mark not forcings! ENSO is not a forcing

          current radiative forcings

        • john byatt says:

          Mark says:
          June 16, 2013 at 2:42 am
          “Mark appears to have run away.”
          This is going to come as a surprise to you BBD, but I do have a life beyond this blog or the virtual world in general.

          what you have not been here since the 14th?

        • john byatt says:

          And mark please try to understand what BBD has said

          “WV is indeed a positive feedback during cooling. Positive feedbacks amplify the effect of a forcing.”

        • john byatt says:

          Watts has probably confused mark

          “Many empirical relationships have been reported between GCR or cosmogenic isotope archives and some aspects of the climate system (e.g., Bond et al., 2001; Dengel et al., 2009; Ram and Stolz, 1999). The forcing from changes in total solar irradiance alone does not seem to account for these observations, implying the existence of an amplifying mechanism such as the hypothesized GCR-cloud link. We focus here on observed relationships between GCR and aerosol and cloud properties.

          The Chapter 7 authors are admitting strong evidence (“many empirical relationships”) for enhanced solar forcing (forcing beyond total solar irradiance, or TSI), even if they don’t know what the mechanism is. This directly undercuts the main premise of the report, as stated in Chapter 8 (page 8-4, lines 54-57):

        • john byatt says:

          Mark says:
          June 16, 2013 at 2:42 am
          “Mark appears to have run away.”
          This is going to come as a surprise to you BBD, but I do have a life beyond this blog or the virtual world in general.

          BBD’s comment was the 14th

          OH look, Mark was here on the fifteenth

          Mark says:
          June 15, 2013 at 3:32 am
          Its been argued in Australia that one of the reasons for seemingly more ferocious fires is the faulty management of the landscape. Large tracts of the nation have adapted to the native’s practice of yearly burning

          gotcha

        • BBD says:

          You said:

          its likely that WV acts as a thermostat for the climate, a negative feedback in rising temps a positive feedback in falling temps. Hence, in part, our relatively stable climate.

          This is obviously nonsense. First, I explained why. Then I asked you either to defend your assertion or to withdraw it.

          You have done neither. Instead, you have engaged in evasive blather laced with self-serving dishonesty. I saw your comment on the other thread. You ran away rather than admit your error, and everyone here knows it.

          Your behaviour wavers uneasily between comical and contemptible.

          One last chance to do the right thing, Mark.

          Stop dodging and explain paleoclimate variability if WV is a net negative feedback stabilising T.

          Whence the MWP? Whence the LIA? How do we get into and out of glacials? Etc.

          If the climate system is dominated by negative WV feedback it is, by definition, insensitive to radiative perturbation. But we can see from modern and paleoclimate behaviour that this isn’t the case. So positive feedbacks must predominate within the climate system.

          Either admit that you are wrong, or explain how we get variability in response to minor forcing changes (MWP; LIA; orbitally triggered deglaciation) if the climate system is insensitive because feedbacks net negative.

          I want an answer or a retraction.

        • BBD says:

          I’m of the view that the correlation between solar cycles and temperatures over the medium term is too good to be coincidence and requires explanation. Svensmark is but one potential explanation.

          And:

          That big yellow thing in the sky is of some significance. Assuming that making a small change to the atmosphere is enough to offset it is both the worst sort of hubris and another examples of the ‘sin of presentism’.

          The negligible role of solar variability in modern warming is clear from the data. Forcing from TSI (bottom, yellow) is scaled coherently with forcing from well-mixed GHGs and the total net forcing (red) is also to scale.

        • Mark says:

          “BBD’s comment was the 14th….OH look, Mark was here on the fifteenth….gotcha”

          I wasn’t on the blog, nor did I post, at anytime between BBD’s initial demand for answers and his tantrum that I’d run away.

          Gotcha! Really? You are that childish?

        • Mark says:

          BBD, you are asking (well demanding at the top of your lungs really) that I prove something that I never asserted or believed. I only ever offered WV as one in a suite of natural forcings/feedbacks/ processes that have had effects in the past, are having effects in the present and, in my view, will have effects in the future.

          At no time have I said that WV was dominant (you introduced that notion and have thereafter assumed it was me). Indeed when I first mentioned this I listed solar first for very good reasons. So scream all you want but you won’t get me to try to prove WV is the dominant factor in natural forcings. Never said it never thought it.

          As to WV as a potential negative feedback…http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20100128_watervapor.html

        • Mark says:

          You think the RC article refutes the paper? Okaaaay.

        • john byatt says:

          No, it refutes your pathetic understanding of it

        • Mark says:

          “Hi Mark, you need references to otherwise these are merely assertions.”

          I’m still scratching my head and trying to work out what assertions I need to reference. I must admit I’m still trying to deduce what things it is de rigeur to believe and not believe in this group. So what is it I need to reference – the MWP? LIA? Dalton minimum? I’d have thought they were all pretty well known and accepted but there’s no telling what will be rejected out of hand, I guess.

          So let me know what I need to reference and I dig up so data for it.

        • john byatt says:

          Start with this one
          I had opined that natural forcings may well overwhelm CO2 in the future as they have for the past decade or so.

          reference ?

        • Mark says:

          eg http://icecap.us/images/uploads/SvensmarkPaper.pdf

          “That would explain the pause in global warming ev-
          ident especially in the ocean (Fig. 1) and the tropo-
          sphere (Fig. 3). The continuing rapid increase in carbon
          dioxide concentrations during the past 10-15 years has
          apparently been unable to overrule the flattening of the
          temperature trend as a result of the Sun settling at a
          high, but no longer increasing, level of magnetic activity.
          Contrary to the argument of Lockwood and FrÄohlich, the
          Sun still appears to be the main forcing agent in global
          climate change”

        • john byatt says:

          current CO2 radiative forcing is 1.7Wm2.

          you claimed that “natural forcings may well overwhelm CO2 in the future as they have for the past decade or so.”

          If you have the slightest idea of what you are saying then reference a link that confirms a negative 1.7Wm2 radiative forcing in the past decade
          and that is not even for all greenhouse gases

        • john byatt says:

          and solar radiative forcing is currently positive 0.12Wm2

        • BBD says:

          Mark

          Re your rubbish about forcings – look at the graph I did for you above. The direct comparison between forcings: TSI, well-mixed GHGs; total net. Look. With your eyes.

          * * *

          You say:

          BBD, you are asking (well demanding at the top of your lungs really) that I prove something that I never asserted or believed. [...] At no time have I said that WV was dominant (you introduced that notion and have thereafter assumed it was me). [...] So scream all you want but you won’t get me to try to prove WV is the dominant factor in natural forcings. Never said it never thought it.

          Just lies. Your own words:

          With this term I refer to two main factors: solar variations and natural negative feedbacks, primarily the proposed negative water vapour feedback.

          And:

          its likely that WV acts as a thermostat for the climate, a negative feedback in rising temps a positive feedback in falling temps. Hence, in part, our relatively stable climate.

          And:

          Similarly there is still much work to be done on the response of water vapour to rising temperatures. It seems to me that it is as likely as not that water vapour acts as a thermostat.

          You clearly believe WV plays a significant role in regulating climate. And now that your nonsense about WV being both a positive and a negative feedback has been exposed you are lying shamelessly in a desperate attempt to get off the hook.

          Once again, you have been shown up to be ignorant of the basics and mendacious with it.

          The thing is, if you were a little smarter, you would *know* that lying only makes it all worse. We all saw you fall flat on your face again.

          Fine, dodge the question and cover yourself in bad faith. It changes nothing anyway. You are still a laughing stock.

        • Mark says:

          If you ‘gentlemen’ want to play these silly semantic games then have fun. Going through each post desperately seeking to find ambiguity or form of words that can be twisted to allege an ambiguity so as to then launch into outraged and outrageous attacks on the ambiguity.

          I was asked about the types of natural forcings I had alluded to an mentioned a couple I didn’t allocate orders of importance or degrees of certainty. But you pick up on one such item, decide without any further thought that its my main item, and proceed to tell me how silly it is that this is my main item.

          This attack-dog mentality is really revealing. I enjoy it immensely especially the way all the surrounding lap-dogs join in.

        • john byatt says:

          “desperately seeking to find ambiguity”

          It would be a welcome change just to find some logic

        • john byatt says:

          Mark you do not even realise just how stupid this comment was?

          “As to WV as a potential negative “http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20100128_watervapor.html

          everyone who read that just shook their head in utter bewilderment

        • BBD says:

          Still evasions and lies I see. Duly noted.

          Your own words:

          With this term I refer to two main factors: solar variations and natural negative feedbacks, primarily the proposed negative water vapour feedback.

          And:

          its likely that WV acts as a thermostat for the climate, a negative feedback in rising temps a positive feedback in falling temps. Hence, in part, our relatively stable climate.

          And:

          It seems to me that it is as likely as not that water vapour acts as a thermostat.

          Once again, you have been shown up to be profoundly dishonest and entirely ignorant of the basics. Yet you keep on thrashing on your hook, for all to see.

        • BBD says:

          This miserable farce of a thread has gone on long enough. Mark clearly isn’t going to admit his lies, so let’s just get a few basics absolutely clear for future reference:

          - it’s not the sun (see comparative forcings, above).

          - water vapour is a positive feedback because is its an efficacious GHG.

          - there are no “natural feedbacks” remotely capable of overwhelming current levels of GHG forcing for a sustained period. This is a denialist misrepresentation.

          - the upward trend will therefore continue, modulated by short-term variability.

        • john byatt says:

          Mark clearly isn’t going to admit his lies”

          that would indicate that he might have some understanding,

          “mark clearly does not want to admit his incompetence”

          is probably more the point

      • john byatt says:

        that is two to one now mark

        “BBD I saw your comment on the other thread. You ran away rather than admit your error, and everyone here knows it.

  4. john byatt says:

    Update

    Mark does not know the difference between TCS and ECS

    believes that it will take a few 100 years for another .5Degc anomaly

    confuses feedbacks and forcings

    believes that grapes are a proxy for climate

    believes that NASA is in on a conspiracy

    believes that Y2K was a hoax

    believes that 2nd hand smoke does not cause cancer

    believes that normal climate is one in which you get rapidly increasing record temperatures and extreme events

    his work is not yet done

    • Mark says:

      I really have gotten to you, haven’t I?. Finding and pointing out all your errors, all the things you thought were true but turn out not to be. All the little deceptions you engage in to try to big note yourself. You’ve probably been getting away with it for years and don’t like being exposed. So you just make things up to try to hide your embarrassment. Sad, sad, sad.

      For fun, where have I said I think y2k was a hoax?
      where have I said grapes are a proxy for climate?
      where have I said 2nd hand smoke doesn’t cause cancer?
      where have I said “normal climate is one in which you….blah blah”. Have you not noticed I’ve said once or twice there is no normal climate.
      where have I said NASA is in on a conspiracy and to which conspiracy do you allude.
      etc etc etc . I’ve already covered the other points but you either can’t follow the logic or are determined to not follow so as to hide your embarrassment…see above.

      Normally I’d expect an answer to each of those. But John will pick some petty minor point, completely misinterpret it and then concentrate on it so as to avoid the more substantive issues. He’s very easy to read.

      When I was recommended this blog I was told it was quite cerebral. I fear I might have been misled.

      • John has got to Mark.

      • BBD says:

        When I was recommended this blog I was told it was quite cerebral. I fear I might have been misled.

        No, the problem is that you are out of your depth and floundering helplessly.

        You don’t seem to grasp just how damaging your horrible blunder over TCR/ECS was. There’s no coming back from that. You are a laughing stock here. Understand this.

      • john byatt says:

        How many reasons is that now, for why he came here ?

        still only the two /

    • And Mann appeared at JREF. Real sceptics treat so-called climate sceptics as a joke.

      • john byatt says:

        Randi has lost the plot though

        “science is not settled by consensus”

        “the Oregon petition has a lot of scientists who do not accept climate change”

      • Watching the Deniers says:

        Nice call JHS

    • Mark says:

      In the post Lowendowsky world, true believers now think that sceptics believe anything. So we have this article telling us how to not fall for the idea that the Obamessiah will introduce an communist, islamic state. Well, thanks, but I had worked that out.

      But I had to laugh. On the same site there was a climate change article telling us “How We Know Global Warming is Real and Human Caused”. So I had a read. the first paragraph explains that Lindzen is wrong to doubt CC and, btw, he also thinks smoking doesn’t cause cancer.

      We, of course, know that isn’t true. I’m sure John is grateful I set him straight on that one. But I just find it delicious when these self-righteous know-alls, telling us how to think, display the very qualities they despise.

      • Thank you, self righteous know-all, for so aptly characterising that which you decry.

        You may find this of interest. http://library.njit.edu/staff/scharf/Critique-Lindzen.pdf

      • The false sceptic can’t pull his trousers up because he forgot to put them on in the first place. What was that about Philip Morris again?

        • So there is a money trail connecting Philip Morris to Richard Lindzen. Is Mark’s argument up in relatively more smoke?

        • Mark says:

          Let me draw an analogy that might help to understand how inappropriate (even childish) your ‘paper trail’ is.

          M. Mann used to work at Penn State. Other teachers at Penn State have been found guilt of paedophilia and rape. Join the dots.

        • john byatt says:

          Or the analogy is, that the evidence against lindzen is as strong as the evidence against Jerry Sandusky

        • Oh, I think my analogy is stronger than that, Mark. Dubious company fund dubious “think” tank which turn funds dubious scientist who rinses dubious company’s claims. In this case our subject has performed these services for two dubious industries; he has a record. This is more than being in the same place, this is following the money and joining the dots – something many false sceptics excite themselves with.

          You are, of course, at liberty to accept his work. But now you know, and we know you know, the background.

          Any self-respecting sceptic would already have known this.

  5. john byatt says:

    so far

    Mark does not know the difference between TCS and ECS

    believes that it will take a few 100 years for another .5Degc anomaly

    confuses feedbacks and forcings

    not a good score

    • Mark says:

      If you are going to continually try to score points by deliberately reading ambiguity into simple prose and then pretend the ambiguity is significant we aren’t going to get anywhere.

      What I see is someone who has lost the logic argument and is trying to win the semantic argument.

      • john byatt says:

        Missed one

        so far

        Mark does not know the difference between TCS and ECS

        believes that it will take a few 100 years for another .5Degc anomaly

        confuses feedbacks and forcings

        believes that grapes are a proxy for climate

        Will wait to see what his reply is too NASA “rapid warming continues”

        • john byatt says:

          Oh there is one i missed, believes that Y2K was a hoax.

          tell those who worked their butts off for many years fixing up that mess

      • BBD says:

        No Mark, we are going to remind you regularly that you are clueless. We do this because it is puzzling to see the clueless vociferously claiming that the standard scientific position is wrong.

        How can you expect to be taken seriously when it is obvious that you haven’t got the first idea what you are talking about?

        And you haven’t. It is very obvious. Make no mistake about that.

  6. […] the squirrel being a totally irrelevant point or some personal innuendo. Don't feed the troll. Angry badgers: trolls, sceptics and distracting voices in the climate discussion | Watching the Deni… Sign in or Register Now to […]

  7. john byatt says:

    Mark ” I don’t agree at all that CO2 will continue to exert a 50% influence on temps into the future. I think that its just as or more likely that natural forcings will overwhelm CO2.”

    presume that you mean negative forcings, here they are, take your pick

    Stratospheric ozone
    Surface albedo
    Aerosoles
    Aerosols effect on cloud albedo

    not one of them natural though,

    • Mark says:

      No I meant natural forcings.

      • john byatt says:

        They are all the negative forcings at present ,

        ?”

      • BBD says:

        Please, Mark, be specific. Defend your claim in detail:

        I don’t agree at all that CO2 will continue to exert a 50% influence on temps into the future. I think that its just as or more likely that natural forcings will overwhelm CO2.

        What natural forcings? Surely you cannot be in strong disagreement with the standard scientific position unless you have at least a notion of what these negative “natural” forcings might be?

        And I admit to being fascinated. You spend so much time and energy denying the validity of the standard scientific position. Presumably you have a rock-solid scientific counter-argument. It’s odd that you haven’t seen fit to publish, but at least share it with readers here.

        Thanks!

        • catweazle666 says:

          What natural forcings? Surely you cannot be in strong disagreement with the standard scientific position unless you have at least a notion of what these negative “natural” forcings might be?

          If, as I suspect, your “natural” forcings are the same thing as natural variability, perhaps you should take that up with James Hansen, who doesn’t seem to have a problem with them and their influence.

          Here is an excerpt from one of his recent papers.

          Global Temperature Update Through 2012

          J. Hansen, M. Sato, R. Ruedy

          15 January 2013

          Summary. Global surface temperature in 2012 was +0.56°C (1°F) warmer than the 1951-1980 base period average, despite much of the year being affected by a strong La Nina. Global temperature thus continues at a high level that is sufficient to cause a substantial increase in the frequency of extreme warm anomalies. The 5-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade, which we interpret as a combination of natural variability and a slowdown in the growth rate of the net climate forcing.

          http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2013/20130115_Temperature2012.pdf

        • BBD says:

          CW

          Atmospheric temperature ≠ the climate system.

          Clearly, this cannot be emphasised enough.

          As Hansen knows, most (>90%) of the energy accumulating in the climate system as a result of radiative imbalance caused by increasing GHG forcing is in the ocean (Levitus et al. 2012).

          Here’s a pretty picture:

          OHC 0 – 2000m

          Hansen has repeatedly pointed out that variability in the rate of atmospheric warming is to be expected. Hansen has repeatedly pointed out that short-term variability doesn’t “falsify AGW”. It’s just short-term variability. The long-term trend is what matters.I strongly recommend that you read the rest of your own reference:

          Climate Change Expectations.
          It is relevant to comment on expectations about near-term climate change, especially because it seems likely that solar irradiance observations are in the process of confirming that solar irradiance has weakened modestly over the latest solar cycle. If solar irradiance were the dominant drive of climate change that most global warming contrarians believe, then a global cooling trend might be expected.

          On the contrary, however, the continuing planetary energy imbalance and the rapid increase of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use assure that global warming will continue on decadal time scales. Moreover, our interpretation of the larger role of unforced variability in temperature change of the past decade, suggests that global temperature will rise significantly in the next few years as the tropics moves inevitably into the next El Nino phase.

          Good to see you referencing Hansen. But as I say, you do need to read the words. And think about them.

        • BBD says:

          To be absolutely clear, natural variability is the response to the movement of energy within the climate system, mainly by ocean circulation. Volcanic aerosols contribute a negative natural forcing but it is episodic.

          Quasi-periodic ocean oscillations (PDO, NAO, ENSO etc) cancel out over time because they are *oscillations*. Positive-negative-positive-negative. They do not create long term trends because they are internal phenomena that neither add nor remove energy from the climate system over the long term. They are oscillations.

          Unless you dispute the laws of physics, the increasing and increasingly dominant forcing from CO2 cannot but force a long term warming trend. An informative way of looking at this is to use a decadal moving average to smooth out the short term noise.

          The result helps put the current slowing in the rate of surface warming into context.

        • john byatt says:

          catweazle666 says:
          June 13, 2013 at 7:02 pm
          What natural forcings? Surely you cannot be in strong disagreement with the standard scientific position unless you have at least a notion of what these negative “natural” forcings might be?

          “If, as I suspect, your “natural” forcings are the same thing as natural variability,”

          that is a denier comment of the day

        • BBD says:

          If, as I suspect, your “natural” forcings are the same thing as natural variability

          The self-propelling climate fallacy in a nutshell.

      • Mark says:

        I’m surprised that you’re puzzled by the term. Its used by the IPCC.

        Now if I was part of the swarm I be ridiculing your lack of knowledge here and screaming that you should read the paper even while suspecting that you had read the paper. But I’m more mature than that. :)

        With this term I refer to two main factors: solar variations and natural negative feedbacks, primarily the proposed negative water vapour feedback.

        In my view Svensmark is still very much on the cards. Even if cosmic rays turns out to be less than the full story, I’m of the view that the correlation between solar cycles and temperatures over the medium term is too good to be coincidence and requires explanation. Svensmark is but one potential explanation.
        Similarly there is still much work to be done on the response of water vapour to rising temperatures. It seems to me that it is as likely as not that water vapour acts as a thermostat. Much more needs to be done and studied.

        Bottom line for me is to remember history. Why was there a MWP or a LIA. Why did temps rise post 1800. Why did they fall in the 40s. Why have surface temps plateaued. Although of those were the result of natural forcings. They need to be understood before being dismissed as no longer relevant.

        And, I suspect, once they are understood, we’ll understand why they remain relevant.

        That big yellow thing in the sky is of some significance. Assuming that making a small change to the atmosphere is enough to offset it is both the worst sort of hubris and another examples of the ‘sin of presentism’.

        • john byatt says:

          Mark “With this term I refer to two main factors: solar variations and natural negative feedbacks, primarily the proposed negative water vapour feedback.”

          solar variation, glad you brought that up, currently positive forcing +.12wm2

          when do you think that it will go negative – 2.7wm2 ?

          next year, next decade, next millenium, next ten thousand years?

          what is this negative water vapor feedback?, not a greenhouse gas?

        • BBD says:

          The usual tripe.

          Similarly there is still much work to be done on the response of water vapour to rising temperatures. It seems to me that it is as likely as not that water vapour acts as a thermostat. Much more needs to be done and studied.

          So – explain paleoclimate variability if WV is a net negative feedback stabilising T.

          Whence the MWP? Whence the LIA? How do we get into and out of glacials? Etc.

          You need to stop your stupid, contradictory wittering and *think*.

        • BBD says:

          In my view Svensmark is still very much on the cards.

          Endlessly debunked. Your view is an irrelevant opinion. See “scientific consensus”.

          This recitation of debunked denialist tropes is what many here would like to see as a trigger for moderation.

  8. Mark says:

    You see, one of the problems I have here is labels. You seem to want to use denier, sceptic and troll interchangably and generically.

    Taking your four “established scientific facts beyond dispute” ie
    CO2 is a heat trapping molecule
    We are emitting CO2 and other Greenhouse gases into the atmosphere through our activities
    This is influencing the planet’s climate system
    The scientific consensus on this is near universal – 97%

    I would accept all four and only demur on the last. If you say that the consensus is that CO2 has caused 50%+ of the warming since the second half of the 20th century I’d agree with the 97% figure and count myself in that group. But I’d demur that the advertising of the consensus is that it holds the CO2 effect at much greater than 50% and that the consensus extends to agreement on the policy solutions.

    So with those minor caveats I’d count myself, by your definition as not being a sceptic. Equally I’d think that most of the more prominent sceptics would also accept all four points (although inexplicably John B seems to think Gore/Hanson/Mann wouldn’t).

    But I am a sceptic because:

    1. I don’t agree at all with the follow up that AGW extending into this century will become CAGW or DAGW. It could just as easily be G(ood)AGW.

    2. I don’t agree at all that CO2 will continue to exert a 50% influence on temps into the future. I think that its just as or more likely that natural forcings will overwhelm CO2.

    3. I don’t at all agree with the policies formulated to combat the purported future warming, not just because I doubt the warming but also because I think policies are the wrong response to whatever warming might occur.

    Now you’ll probably see this as me doing a badger and adding superfluous argument. I on the other hand see too many trying to over-simply the argument so as to achieve policy goals. It doesn’t automatically follow that, if 97% of scientists agree CO2 caused around 0.3+c warming last century, they also agree we need to have a CO2 tax or Kyoto on steriods or whatever. But too often I see the consensus used as though its the end of the issue. It isn’t.

    • john byatt says:

      dangerous is defined as above 2Degc

      you have just been twaddling on about Otto et al 2013, a paper which confirms that we will reach 2degc by 2100.

      you are contradicting yourself

      read the paper as well on the consensus

      http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/2/024024/article

      • Mark says:

        No, ‘dangerous’ is defined as “perilous; risky; hazardous; unsafe.”

        Warmists have decreed that 2C will be dangerous.

        “read the paper”..ffs what is with you people. I’ve read Cook et al. We’ve discussed it. You made a fool of yourself over it. And suddenly, you decide I haven’t seen it before?

      • Mark says:

        1. I wasn’t citing Heartland.
        2. On what basis do you say real sceptics don’t cite Heartland?
        3. What do I deny?

        • 1. “Speaking of Heartland” and cites an article from them and then says he wasn’t citing them. No? Really?
          2. As per the article posted from the Sceptics Society, you don’t appear to pay attention to who the author is or who pays them. That’s unsceptical. (Note that the Sceptics Society highlights climate denial as evidence of such.)
          3. Just about everything, including denial. And you seem to be angry. Is that recursive fury?

          When there is so much good reading on the actual science to be had in Nature, Science, SciAm, New Scientist, etc why would anyone waste time on Heartland?

        • Mark says:

          I’m sceptical that the Sceptics Society is the last word on what sceptics would do.

        • Watching the Deniers says:

          Some may also be sceptical of sceptics, who are sceptical of sceptics and their sceptical positions.

        • 1. The facts concede for Mark.
          2. Mark attempts the Black Knight defence and defends his lack scepticism of his own sources.
          3. Mark ignores.

          I suppose that’s a *relatively* normal denouement to a discussion with a fake sceptic.

    • Real sceptics wouldn’t cite Heartland.

      • Mark says:

        Heartland was mentioned by WtD in the opening. I was referring to that. Please try to keep up with the rest of the class.

        And I’ll cite them whenever I think its valid. If you only access your data from pre-approved sources you are unlikely to ever break out of your little box.

        • john byatt says:

          You can cite them whenever you think it is valid but JHS’s point was, real sceptics do not cite heartland,…… you confirm that you are a denier

        • Thank you, Mark. You couldn’t have made my point more forcefully. QED.

          Real sceptics do not cite Heartland.

      • Mark says:

        1. I wasn’t citing Heartland.
        2. On what basis do you say real sceptics don’t cite Heartland?
        3. What do I deny?

        • 1. “Speaking of Heartland” and cites an article from them and then says he wasn’t citing them. No? Really?
          2. As per the article posted from the Sceptics Society, you don’t appear to pay attention to who the author is or who pays them. That’s unsceptical. (Note that the Sceptics Society highlights climate denial as evidence of such.)
          3. Just about everything, including denial. And you seem to be angry. Is that recursive fury?

          When there is so much good reading on the actual science to be had in Nature, Science, SciAm, New Scientist, etc why would anyone waste time on Heartland?

  9. Mark says:

    Heartland’s Operation Angry Badger had nothing to do with “inject distracting facts into a conversation”.

    Firstly badger was used because it concerned Wisconsin which is the badger state.

    Heartland says “We are doing educational programs on Wisconsin’s collective bargaining reform”., Clearly the government agreed since, if this was wrong they would have been in breach of their tax exempt status and no such assertion was made by the government. And we all know how much the IRS likes to target right wing tax exempt groups.

  10. Steve says:

    John Havery Samuel,
    I certainly agree that you are ‘well practiced in the arts of sarcasm and mockery.’ However some people, including me, while understanding sarcasm theoretically and occasionally using it (badly) often have trouble distinguishing between sarcastic and and non-sacastic posts.
    Sarcasm can be over done.

    • Agreed. Hence I shall attempt to be more moderate in the future. Although there are a couple of characters here upon whom any attempt to educate are akin to showing card tricks to cats (or even weasels). So the odd volley may still be expected.

  11. I admit I do sometimes (oft?) take the troll as bait. Having convinced myself that I am well practiced in the arts of sarcasm and mockery, as well as having a rudimentary grasp of the science, I do set off – sometimes to watch the troll self-destruct in a rant.

    However, whilst I may enjoy the sport, your point is well taken. I’ll try and play more nicely. I’m sure you will moderately severely yet fairly.

    Another article that makes your case is http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/a-blog-around-the-clock/2013/01/28/commenting-threads-good-bad-or-not-at-all/.

  12. rational troll says:

    I actually hope you keep moderating, or not moderating, the way you have previously. I enjoy reading the comments and part of that, is that commentators like Eric feel free to post their ideas here. Sure, it’s frustrating to have eugenics brought up in nearly every discussion, but in general the conversation is civil enough, and it’s fun to have an argument.

    It’s always disappointing to have comments moderated into oblivion. I occasionally post on other sites and my posts are nearly always deleted, so I rarely bother anymore.

    I don’t want to say anything bad about your blog, because I think it’s great, but the possibility exists to overestimate the influence that we have in the real world. What we write here is, in all likelihood, insignificant. I’m not going to change anyone’s mind, and they won’t change mine, we basically come here either to reinforce our beliefs or to troll. The best we can hope for is to achieve some small personal victories over an anonymous opponent in a tiny pocket of the net.

    • john byatt says:

      It helps me learn if some new meme comes up, I use this in the real world to reply to the avalanche of denier letters in our regional newspapers.

      I also have an interest in ########## so the different types of denier are fascinating for me.

      sick to death of eugenics, eric only had to accept moderation on that, OCD ?

  13. Climate warming is becoming increasingly physically evident, the angry badger response or tactic will be seen as desperate, and a hollow effort of distraction. Individuals who respond to your observations and publications in this way will be seen as shrill, ignorant or driven by self interest, and as such their comments should be allowed to stand as witness to them.

    Given your opening statement of four scientificly established facts I feel you can reasonably move on and discuss the next steps, such as political will for action and the response of those whose vested interest lays in maintaining the fossil fuel industry. These issues are surely more important.

  14. I find myself in a bit of a quandry because I’m still naive enough to think that if you say something that is largely irrefutable or that is reasonable, the person you’re debating will have to acknowledge what you’ve said. Of course, this view is naive and simplistic and it does appear that this virtually never happens. What does seem to happen is that the discussion continues for many comments (as you mention) and they simply ignore anything you’ve said that has any merit. I even try to make sure that I acknowledge when they’ve said something reasonable or that has merit. Even that doesn’t really seem to help.

    Of course, I could choose to “not feed the trolls” but I still live in hope that it might have some effect. There’s also the chance that third parties will be reading and that they may learn from the exchange (again, possible naive).

    I guess, my real problem with the “Don’t feed the Trolls” view is, how do you define a troll? It has to be subjective and so there is always a chance that the person who appears to be a troll may actually have something worth saying. Admittedly, my view may be very different in three years time – assuming I manage to keep going that long.

    • john byatt says:

      hope so you are doing something worthwhile,

    • Sou says:

      There are some telltale signs of a troll that you learn over time. If in doubt assume they are *not* a troll. Even if they are, a casual reader may not be aware of the fact unless you make it clear in your response that the person you are responding to is not acting in good faith. But then you wouldn’t be feeding the troll anyway :)

      Simply disagreeing with you doesn’t mean they are a troll. But over time you can spot them quickly – sometimes even if they’ve only made a comment or two.

      Trolls come in different flavours. Here are a some – bear in mind that none of these are sufficient to define a troll. Not everyone who does this will be a troll or pretend to be something they aren’t. There has to be an element of repeat behaviour. IN the case of the concern troll, for example, if you knew they’d been discussing climate for years but still came up with a silly objection, they are more likely to be a troll.

      There are the ones who aim to derail a discussion by being outrageous. These are the most honest of the lot IMO, in that they don’t pretend to be anything but a troll.

      There are concern trolls who also want to derail the discussion, but they do it by being slimey. Saying things like “I agree than humans can change the climate but I have just one teeny little question. How can such a small trace amount of gas have an influence?”

      There are tone trolls who also slimey – they are ever so nice and sweet in derailing a vigorous discussion by talking about behaviour. “You shouldn’t call skeptics deniers” or “that alarmist wasn’t nice to me” or “we need to lift the tone of the discussion” – saying anything to shift the focus away from what is being discussed.

      Things they have in common are that it’s always about them and their aim is to disrupt a discussion. But you might not find that out till after the event.

      So like I say, if in doubt assume they are *not* trolling.

      • klem says:

        Excellent response Sou, fortunately none of the regular contributors on this blog could ever be considered trolls themselves. They are perfect in every way.

        cheers

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