How to run a really bad infowar campaign.

Seren01

It’s perhaps a debatable opinion, but I think the main way that a lot people found out there actually was such a thing as the climate skeptic blogosphere, was that its existence was highlighted by the alarmists themselves. In the complete absence of any PR budget, it was actually the alarmists who by attacking it, inadvertently spread the word that there was an alternative narrative on offer from a small skeptic community in the blogosphere. That mistake was the shape of blunders to come.

The alarmists, like all compulsive fanatics, simply could not abide any opposition, no matter how small, sciency or obscure it was, and let’s be frank here, in the early years, those three adjectives described the skeptic community quite accurately. Innocuous though it was, they just couldn’t leave it be and had to go after it, because that’s the elemental nature of fanatics.

Though a lone and solitary voice in the wilderness, it was still opposition and therefore had to be closed down. They felt obliged to crush the last one percent of resistance but in seeking to eliminate it, simply gave it a heightened profile, which it otherwise might never have had. Every attack led potential dissenters to skeptic sites, and nowadays the skeptic sites have grown and matured, eclipsing and burning brighter than the alarmist ones, who despite desperately talking up their falling hit numbers, are slowly shrivelling down into burnt out brown dwarves.

On one side you had the alarmists, who had all the politicians in their pocket, a massive PR budget which was usually and still is replenished by governments grants, all the mainstream media including the crypto-state television channels like ABC, CBC, PBS and BBC, pretty much the whole of the journalistic establishment, all the activist prominenti of climate science, the EU, NASA, NOAA, BOM, EPA, IPCC, pretty much anything you can think of which has an acronym, the seamier side of the investment industry, every environmental organisation right down to the smallest fruit loop loony tune outfit, all the major science journals, presidents, prime ministers, the world, his brother, his sister, their dawg and even the frigging cat, never mind their bloody hamster.

On the other side you had us and we had, umm, well, as a matter of fact we’d bugger all beyond the wit to point out the teensy-weensy cracks, nay yawning crevasses, in the science, and in a political sense, sound the alarm bell about the sort of Armageddon the hysterical bandwagon was slouching towards.

Given that match up, the obvious question has to be – how the hell did they ever manage to lose and why are we doing so well, while their once soaring ambitions now lay in smoking ruins?

I had a go a couple of years back at explaining why I thought a combination of things and they themselves had already brought about the downfall of climate alarmism, and last year restated those reasons in different terms here and again here. We’re now well down the time line, and looking around at how events are panning out, I see no reason to disagree with those assessments in any substantial way. The whole alarmist movement is majestically spiralling inwards ever more quickly towards that event horizon around the black hole of political oblivion. The skeptics have certainly had an influence, which is remarkable, given that the only outlet medium that wasn’t closed to them was the internet, which is not as yet a mass opinion former.

What I’d like to examine here is why, given their superior resources in pretty every much category, the alarmists never managed to close down the skeptic resistance to them in the blogosphere, nor to prevent it growing. They certainly tried but assessing their strategy in dealing with the skeptic community, it’s been a three-pronged disaster.

The first prong of that trident was to sneer at it without ever deigning to engage in any direct debate with it. The opposition was always to be denied any platform – standard infowar procedure. Pour scorn down from on high, while safely ensconced behind the battlements of establishment authority. However, by refusing to engage with the skeptic community, they effectively handed it a free run to slowly take the Manny Mouse science to pieces, which it proceeded to do with growing expertise.

What’s more, the skeptics could pick and choose their targets, while the alarmists were obliged to defend everything, because of the compulsion to support the science is settled meme. Not one weakness was ever to be conceded nor one pawn sacrificed. As Frederick the Great said, you can’t be strong everywhere, or to restate that in terms of asymmetric warfare, a small guerrilla force has the choice of attacking anywhere, which means everywhere has to be defended against them, especially if you’re not prepared to do pawn sacrifices.

That defend everything to the last bullet mentality, has often led to them making frankly laughable excuses as to why even the most indefensible papers were somehow actually good science. The growing disconnect between their predictions and everyday reality, is drawing them deeper and deeper into their own inward-looking world, which has a mad interior logic all of its own. We’re currently going through a propaganda phase telling us freezing winters and cold springs, as well as tepid summers, are all actually caused by global warming, which is going down as well as you’d expect with an increasingly incredulous general public. With spectacularly dumb moves like that, the damage they do to their own credibility far exceeds the impact of our own more modest efforts.

That wide open Serengeti of the skeptic blogosphere is by now strewn with the rotting corpses of the scientific reputations of people like Hansen, Mann, Shakun, Marcott, Lewandowsky, Gergis, Cook and many others. A fair few of them have received their Purple Hearts from Retraction Watch.

In the early years of the skeptic blogosphere, the axis of attack on climate alarmism was solely directed at the science. In the years that followed and as it matured, both in terms of diversity and experience gained in infowar, it now appeals to a much wider demographic base and poses multiple threats on a variety of fronts.

It’s a sign of the times that the no engagement policy is starting to fray at the edges. Nowadays there are opening moves by some of the alarmists wanting to try a bit of engagement, but that looks to be them simply edging towards some sort of accommodation with us. Whether they consciously realise it or not, it’s actually the stage three bargaining phase in the death of their belief system. They’re looking for a way to save something, anything from the wreckage. They’re losing ground and know it.

As far as I can see, there’s no advantageous deal to be made there for the skeptics, and anyway, irrespective of the result of any debate, it’s way too late in the day, even if they should perchance win it. Nowadays, very few ordinary people would even bother to tune in to such a debate, which is why it would be politically irrelevant, which means totally irrelevant. They’re now an egg shell in the path of a steamroller being driven by a largely indifferent popular sentiment.

The logical consequence of a no platform for skeptics policy, was not only to close off the mainstream media to sceptical articles, as the BBC did, but also the ordinary person raising awkward points. People who couldn’t get their questions answered or their opinions heard without being brutally censored, simply decamped to the skeptic sites, which of course helped them grow.

The second, and equally disastrous prong, was choosing to misrepresent the skeptic community as some simple monolithic force, orchestrated and financed by dark and shadowy forces behind the scenes. Again, that was standard infowar procedure, a way of isolating, marginalising and alienating the opposition as hate objects. It was the infowar equivalent of sewing yellow Stars of David onto a small segment of the population. Essentially, climate realists were accused of being part of some massive evil covert conspiracy to derail the righteous people’s coming green utopia. I may be wrong, but I think that’s what has come to be termed conspiracy ideation, by the psycho babble academic prostitutes of an alarmist persuasion.

Again, this policy helped the skeptic sites grow, since ordinary people doing nothing more than raising some reasonable questions, resented being portrayed by such ugly, and at times viciously presented caricatures.

By the way, they think of us skeptics, and only us skeptics, as being the root cause for the ass dropping out from underneath any popular belief in their cult, so it looks like our grand conspiracy worked out in the end. All you naughty skeptical boys and girls out there take note, it’s all your fault. You did a bad bad thing …

The third, more subtle, but to my mind the most disastrous mistake, was a direct consequence of allowing the propaganda representation of skeptics to become the operational basis of shaping plans to neutralise them. While it’s okay and in some ways desirable for your unthinking foot soldiers to believe in simplistic stereotypes of the enemy, the policy setting leadership should know better. They actually began to believe in their own caricatures of us. They allowed what has to be clearly recognised as their hatred of us to cloud their judgement. He who loses control, loses.

By following counter strategies aimed at simplistic cardboard cut out stereotypes of skeptics, they were shooting at illusory phantoms, and therefore obviously failing to do any real damage, which yet again allowed the skeptic community to grow unhindered. It’s hard to expose a gigantic conspiracy when there simply isn’t one, which was yet another infowar boomerang, that increasingly left them looking like paranoid conspiracy nuts.

Over and above that, by failing to acknowledge the growing diversity and sophistication of the threat facing them, they persisted in applying the same strategy to neutralise all flavours of opposition, and that was never going to work. I compared the skeptic community to a guerrilla force on a previous occasion, and in real terms, that is actually a very apt comparison. They all fight in their own distinct ways, and only rarely if ever work together, though they would be a much more effective force if they did.

Interestingly, that disunited vulnerability was never exploited by the alarmists but at the same time, it gave the skeptics what would be termed in military circles, more than one axis of attack; political, scientific, economic, cybernetic, statistical, engineering and infowar, to name but a few. If you look carefully at some of the more notable coups of the skeptics, many were simply pulling up a supposed expert, who through arrogance at never having any of their pronouncements questioned by their devoted following, was making very definitive but very silly statements in areas well outside their domain of expertise.

The most cursory glance at comments under some skeptic articles, points to a diversity of specialist expertise in the sceptic community that far exceeds anything to be found in the alarmist camp.

Even at home in areas of their own supposed expertise, the alarmists weren’t safe. The solid job of statistical work that Ross McKitrick and Steve McIntyre did to debunk Mann’s paper, which derived the iconic hockey stick, is a notable case in point. Using nothing more than statistical numeracy and an admirable degree of persistence, they took a hard look at what was supposed to be a landmark paper, and ended up with Mann’s head mounted atop his own hockey stick. When it comes down to anything to do with hockey, and two Canadians versus a slightly rotund little fellow from Massachusetts, my money’s on the two Canucks.

The infowar blunders in dealing with the skeptic blogosphere were multiple; failing to strangle it at birth before it could grow, actually promoting its existence while intending to kill it off, handing it the initiative by refusing to engage with it and an unbelievably massive failure to honestly profile it in anything other than childish terms. The grand error was then to proceed to fight such an imaginary chimera.

Not only did these strategies fail, they actually helped the skeptic community grow by acting as recruiting sergeants, funnelling and concentrating the scattered opposition around the globe towards the obscure skeptic sites. That trend was aided and abetted by a complete and utter failure to provide a meaty alternative blogosphere in which the science was being honestly discussed, as opposed to acting as an obsequious mouthpiece for science by propagandist press hand-outs. It was all too blatantly fashionable science lite, so they lost the unaligned professional science demographic.

What has been the result of failing to initially suppress and then to constrain the growth of the skeptic blogosphere?

The first is that it has undeniably become a major influence in the world of climate science. Given how truly dysfunctional the peer review process has become in that area, effectively it’s now the skeptic blogosphere which is doing that job and it’s doing it in public. Gaia help any activist scientist caught trying to slip past the sort of slipshod rubbish that used to be waved through the pal review process a few years ago. Nowadays, they’re like little school children, fearfully eyeing a stern teacher, who they know will really mark their homework very severely. It’s all a bit scary for the poor little darlings.

Every year, it’s become almost routine for skeptic sites to make a clean sweep of the Bloggie Awards in the science category. This year, the one alarmist “science” site in contention, insisted its nomination be withdrawn from the contest, deeply afraid of how the voting judgement of the online science community would make it look.

A second emergent phenomenon is that as resistance to climate alarmism is now appearing in the mainstream media, many of the arguments advanced by the online skeptics are providing the intellectual basis for the political, economic and scientific objections to climate orthodoxy. That trend will grow, and although climate skepticism will eventually edge climate alarmism toward the political fringe in the mainstream media, the future for scepticism is, as for all infowar campaigns, on the internet.

In the coming years, the organs of the legacy media will wither on the vine and movements like the skeptic blogosphere will increasingly start to have a direct influence on the broad mass of public opinion. If you doubt that trend exists, ask yourself how many twenty somethings you know who regularly buy newspapers or watch television news. Those young people are the future and already their prime information source is the net.

The third and much more fundamental effect is a lesson to be learnt, which is as old as political dissent itself; any small group of people determined to resist what they consider to be a bad thing, can make a difference. They may have no representation politically, or any voice in the media, or anybody prepared to speak for them, but nowadays they can go to the mattresses by heading off into the blogosphere and doing it for themselves.

Yes, they’ll have to learn a few new techy things, find out how to effectively present their views, put up with being slandered, libelled and generally be prepared to take a few drubbings, but if their cause has merit and above all truth, they know it can eventually win, because they’ll have already seen it done.

The climate skeptic community was the first to blaze that online trail.

©Pointman

Related articles by Pointman:

I’m not a scientist but …

The Climate Wars.

The death of the AGW belief system.

Some thoughts on fanatics and how to fight them.

Click for a list of other articles.

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Comments
91 Responses to “How to run a really bad infowar campaign.”
  1. Reblogged this on Power To The People and commented:
    The other mistake were demonizing carbon dioxide as a planet killer when without carbon dioxide there would be no life on the planet. It is the height of irony that people in the “Green” movement label themselves “Green” when by being anti CO2 they are against the very thing that is essential to making the planet Green. http://nofrakkingconsensus.com/2013/06/06/why-fossil-fuels-improve-the-planet/

  2. PaleoSapiens says:

    Very well written, as usual, Pointman. There’s a bit of constructive criticism to add about knowing the difference between and using ‘Strategy’ versus ‘Tactics.’ Very few people seem to know about it. Yet, such knowledge adds a great deal of credibility to any presentation, discussion, or argument.

    Put succinctly: Strategy (strategies) are used, in a broad sense, to win the war. Tactics are used to win battles. A very apt illustration was the ‘strategy’ of building Battleships versus Aircraft Carriers prior to and during WWII. Building Aircraft Carriers proved to be superior by being able to use the ‘tactic(s)’ of sinking opposing ships from great distances. Less than 6-10 Carriers were sunk/disabled by Battleship gun-fire as opposed to dozens of Battleships sunk by Carrier aircraft.

    Another example is battle of Agincourt in 1415. The ‘strategy’ was in training numbers of Englishmen proficiency with the longbow versus fully equipping and training similar numbers of knights. The ‘tactics’ employed at Agincourt, by longbow-men, ensured that large numbers of French knights were slaughtered.

    Use of the word ‘strategies’ in the vast majority of articles/programs is misleading. Accuracy would be better served by replacing ‘strategy’ with ‘tactic(s).’ As in many pursuits, including science, paying attention to details – yields a greater realization of truth…

    • ombzhch says:

      Another really first class piece, thank you … you only forgot the torpedo, and then the nuclear tipped Tomahawk (Cruse Missile), which obsoleted the Carriers except for Strawman opponents.

      The warmists are in fail end game, you in the Anglosphere may take time but if the came to my homeland, except as invited visitors or diplomats, I would simply [SNIP]. They may be delusional and stupid but they are VERY dangerous.

      We also kill the odd roaming bear.

      MFG, omb

  3. Graeme No.3 says:

    I was recently re-reading Scared to Death by Christopher Booker and Richard North, published in 2007. Both these gentlemen were being attacked as cranks and nutters for their views on AGW and other matters, but they made a strong case against AGW with what was known at the time. The book was reprinted 4 times so there was obviously a good deal of interest. They noted that several surveys of scientists showed only a small minority (10-16%) strongly in favour of the AGW theory, and a majority undecided on the subject, probably because they weren’t interested.

    But that was before Copenhagen, and who could forget the triumphal march of the Greenies towards what they thought would be final victory. I believe the turning point was the release of those e-mails by FOIA. They didn’t scupper Copenhagen, that was doomed by various countries political needs, but the contents of the e-mails were so scandalous that the majority of scientists started to look into the subject, and the more they looked the less they liked what they found.

    It was then that a large number of scientists started to use the internet to express rejection of the methods of the ‘global warmers’. Even if they had to use a pseudonym, the obvious expert knowledge in their particular field as they dissected the “official version” was cumulative in effect. Others were emboldened to express their misgivings, and the effect ‘snowballed’. Nowadays the ‘global warmers’ daren’t debate their ‘science’ at all, and are reduced to abuse and fake surveys to try and maintain their position.

    I am of the opinion that the end is much closer than you think. As more opposition gets into the mainstream media, the more the ‘man in the street’ feels his doubts reinforced. The moment politicians realise that there aren’t many votes in it, their interest will disappear faster than a melting iceberg. Germany is only paying lip service until after the coming election (see their plans for new coal fired power stations) and a recent survey of the public in the USA had climate change at No.20 (out of 20) on matters they considered affecting them. Australia is heading for an election race where the ruling party is handicapped by its carbon tax. (Someone compared the race to one horse and jockey against another forced to carry a donkey as well).

    It will only require one more cold winter in Europe, or the victory of a party rejecting the rule of the Brussels bureaucrats to kill the cuckoo in its strongest nest.

  4. Rick Bradford says:

    Sun Tzu in ‘The Art of War’ also had pertinent things to say about the folly of being excessively rigid in approach (which, given the Alarmists’ fundamentalist nature, they were bound to be)

    “Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe whom he is facing”.

  5. Jack Savage says:

    A very heartening read. Thank you.

  6. Rick Bradford says:

    Missed this first time. Sun Tzu went on to say: “He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and thereby succeed in winning, may be called a heaven-born captain.”

  7. TinyCO2 says:

    Another great post Pointman, I agree with every point.

    I’ll add another whopping great mistake by the warmists – their attitude to energy. Because they’re hopelessly naïve about how important energy is, how hard it is to do without fossil fuels and how poor the alternatives are they blithely condemned it and all those who use it. The common man sees the message ‘if you travel, heat your home, have lots of stuff and eat meat you’re bad’ and thinks ‘hang on, that’s me!’ Now modern people don’t do self flagellation and while there are a few drama queens who like to self condemn, the rest of us won’t put up with it. At the very least the warmist movement should have been apologetic and sympathetic towards those they expect to act, but instead they’re arrogant, rude and hypocritical.

    They’re trying to create a new religion in an increasingly atheist World. Take stuff on trust, do as you’re told, don’t question authority, live in austerity. Nah! They won’t get any traction until they treat it like a serious science problem. We shouldn’t hold our breath.

    • frankpwhite says:

      Yes, this is the bottom line. There is no way modern societies will give up the benefits of plentiful enerby.

      An Austrian “Green” suggested to me that industrialization was Mankind’s mistake. I said that my ancestors, the Mohawk and Algonquins believed that agriculture was the biggest mistake, but we are stuck with both agriculture and industry because the Earth now has to 6 billion people to feed.

      “And by the way”, I said, “I suppose you travel by bicycle and on foot do you?”

      “Well no he said, I have a big Yamaha bike and three cars.”

      That is how I was able to penetrate the suit of ideological armour he wore to buttress his faith in the AGM myth.

      The main citadel of the warmists is the modern state and its greed for power. If I recall correctly it was Alexis de Tocqueville who predicted that American democracy would evolve into totalitarianism in the guise of majority rule.

      “In my opinion the main evil of the present democratic institutions of the United States does not arise, as is often asserted in Europe, from their weakness, but from their overpowering strength; and I am not so much alarmed at the excessive liberty which reigns in that country as at the very inadequate securities which exist against tyranny.” (Democracy in America, 1835, 1840)

      George Orwell in Brave New World said the same.

      Interestingly, the term “Bolshevism” is associated with Communism because it is the “Russian” word for “majority”.

      The US Consitution was devised to PREVENT dictatorship by the majority party in Congress and the White House. Of course what we see now is the use of Executive Orders to implement radical climate policies by Executive Order and via the EPA, which the Federal Court has recently said is the best authority as to the scope of its powers.

      Today the NSA, FBI and CIA collect information about all communication between US citizens and with their foreign friends and business associates. Today only the IRS and EPA apply different rules for political supporters and opponents.

      Tomorrow, who knows? “The price of Liberty is eternal Vigilance.”

  8. Keitho says:

    Very insightful Pointman. I particularly like the allusion to asymmetric warfare. Over the last eight years of my, largely ineffectual, involvement in the climate wars I have watched with growing awe the huge improvements in the sceptical stance. Where we were few and largely uncertain but questioning the AGW credo because we were unable to make sense of it, now we are many and the contributors massively well informed and fairly certain.

    Unfortunately the massed momentum of wind turbines, bio fuel, carbon tax and trading and political myopia will cause this dead beast to crash on like a mortally wounded bull in the ring for a while yet but it is none the less dead. The only fear I have is that the AGW boys may come up with their own version of the drone in an attempt to reassert symmetry but for such a well educated bunch they seem remarkably leaden footed.

    You are right about the new way of informing and forming opinions is the internet. I understand G W Bush is part of a campaign to make Internet access a basic human right. Right up there with access to water and food and I for one wish him every success. For all of its chaos and noise the Internet is the single most important driver of democracy in this century.

    Keep up the good work Pointman, you are a real asset.

  9. Edward. says:

    “I may be wrong, but I think that’s what has come to be termed conspiracy ideation, by the psycho babble academic prostitutes of an alarmist persuasion.”

    Actually, you are quite correct;-)!

    Hmm, I wonder who you were thinking of there…………………the foetid and scared sh*tless stale sweat ‘bouquet’ of lewlew creeps in, a silent wafting stench around our ankles yet again.

  10. Justice4Rinka says:

    I think this is a very good analysis of where they went wrong and why they are now losing. As you say, it was a major own goal to insist that the science was settled, because they thereby painted themselves into a corner of having to defend all of it, including the obvious and manifest rubbish.

    There were several other decisive and unforced errors as well, I think. One was insistently demanding that we bow to authority, but apparently without having foreseen the fact and nature of how that authority might be challenged. When actual skilled statisticians started taking Mann apart, for example, he consequently had nowhere to hide and had instead to run.

    This also worked against their science-is-settled meme, because if it’s settled, why is there a vote on it?

    Another was failing to explain plausibly why there was scepticism at all. It was always obvious how the consensus upholders personally gained from preservation of the consensus. It wasn’t obvious what sceptics stood to gain from being sceptics. Why were they then sceptics, unless it was because they were, er, right? This required upholders to fabricate some lie that explained the phenomenon of scepticism. Unfortunately, they came up with several, and many contradicted each other. So according to some warmists, sceptics were part of some vast oil-funded movement. But according to others they were an irrelevant fringe. Well, which is it? Are they vast, or are they tiny?

    Looking forward, the next pratfall they have lined up for themselves is that in insisting on nonsense like wind farms, environmentalists have set themselves up as the sworn enemies of conservationists. This is weird, but true, in that what they want actually to implement is simply unacceptable to a very significant proportion of people where it matters and who you’d think would be their natural allies.

  11. James says:

    Truth was another factor hindering the alarmist case.

  12. Peter Wilson says:

    An excellent analysis of the current situation. It frequently amazes me how alarmists, when they are prepared to debate sceptics, seem totally unaware of just what it is that sceptics think. To imagine that all they have to do is point out the simple physics of the greenhouse effect and exhort us to think of our grandchildren leaves them looking very foolish when confronted with sceptics like Lindzen, Monckton or Spencer. The blank looks on their faces when confronted with arguments about climate sensitivity or ENSO can be priceless.

    Any movement, no matter how well funded or supported, can only take so many humiliations of this sort before at least some sections of the MSM notice that something is wrong with the party line – and some of them will eventually have the gonads to say so. We should also not overlook the effect of those few in the MSM who have their eye on the blogosphere, and are able to bring the inconsistencies and exaggerations of the alarmists to much wider attention -thank you Delingpole, Booker and Wills, among others.

    I’m still waiting for my cheque from Big Oil for all this blog commenting, though!

  13. Paul Matthews says:

    “its existence was highlighted by the alarmists themselves. ”

    In fact it’s worse than that – the climate skeptic blogosphere was effectively created by the alarmists themselves. Steve McIntyre set up Climate Audit to respond to the attacks on his 2003 paper made by Realclimate.

  14. stewgreen says:

    On Bishop-Hill UNTHREADED I just wrote a post on Know Thine Enemy
    - The point is MOST of the WORLD is NOT the ENEMY : all those politicians, all those acronyms etc. They are just under the influence of a small group The People Who Shout Denier (PWSDs maybe) who thru dynamics have influence beyond their numbers.
    1. CERTAINTY : PWSDs absolutely certain beyond the VALIDATED science…and and politicians love that
    2. HIJACKED “Trust the science”: their doom predictions go beyond the VALIDATED science.
    3. Their clever well funded PR campaigns. namecalling, smearing & saying things like “we don’t debate”
    - It is due to people like you Pointman saying “STOP, we will debate, what you are calling “settled science” is unvalidated ..it’s wrong here..here & here” that they Are Losing
    (BUT They still hope for signs of done as they are still betting their UNVALIDATED wild predictions coming true, against long term GOOD NAME of science)
    - And their previous WINNING WAYS has brought : 1. Government pissing away $billions fighting a war on CO2 2. Industry being exported abroad. 3. Energy policy relying on renewables like wind/solar PV, being MAGIC beyond the evidence .
    – Good job but keep pushing the : keep asking PWSDs “is this validated ?” and “would new evidence change your mind ? or would you AUTOMATICALLY dismiss it ?”

  15. chrismorph says:

    Excellent summary. A question. You suggest that the disparate nature of skeptics has been an advantage and then also suggest that they could be more effective by working together. How do you see this happening more than it does now ? Would it also mean a change in tactics, when the current ones work well ?

    A point too. It is far too early to declare victory. Look at the comments on the graun, delingpole or indeed any post on newspaper sites and the believers are still there.

    Like any congregstion some are true zealots, some worshippers and some are going through the motions of devotion – willingly voting greenie, supporting renewables etc. Convince that last group they are wasting their time and money and they will drop away and the rotten tree will die from the roots too.

    It has been the reason for organised churches to wither.

  16. Martin A says:

    “The most cursory glance at comments under some skeptic articles, points to a diversity of specialist expertise in the sceptic community that far exceeds anything to be found in the alarmist camp.”

    That’s true.

  17. Radical Rodent says:

    In the early “noughties”, I was blissfully ignorant of AGW; I had heard of it, but was unconcerned, my only scepticism being of the claim that temperatures had risen 0.8°C, or so, in a century – as the accuracy of thermometers a century ago was of some doubt, how could they be so sure?

    Then I saw Al Gore’s infamous film, and was totally suckered into it. However, being sceptical by nature (or nurture? – no idea; must ask the siblings), I sought the cause, from which I could help with the solution.

    In doing so, I browsed sites wide and varied; many no longer seem available, most were of the “pro-” argument. One pattern soon became obvious: when I raised a question to increase my own understanding, the reply on a sceptical site was generally acceptably open, and honest enough to admit their own ignorance; on the “pro-” sites, my refusal to blindly accept their ideology was a red rag to a bull to most of them, and, while I rarely got a direct answer, I was abused and vilified, often to the point of recommending self-harm or suicide. The question this immediately raised with me was, “Why? If they are right, why do they have to be so vile?” Naturally, I tended to the less aggressive sceptic sites, and now only visit the “pro-” sites if I wish to stir up the bile, as the answer to my last question is simple: they are not right, and they know it, but they are never going to admit it, as that would mean that they lose their power-base.

    “There goes another beautiful theory about to be murdered by a brutal gang of facts.” – Duc de La Rochefoucauld, French writer and moralist (1613-1680)

    ”The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin.” – Thomas Huxley

    • stewgreen says:

      g @RR – Good line “Why? If they are right, why do they have to be so vile?” yes in normal debates as soon as you namecall, that shows you have lost this debate
      - Alarmist blogs : difficult questions : CENSORED
      - Genuine Skeptical blogs : difficult questions : answered & errors owned up to

  18. Dodgy Geezer says:

    …The alarmists, like all compulsive fanatics, simply could not abide any opposition, no matter how small, sciency or obscure it was, and let’s be frank here, in the early years, those three adjectives described the skeptic community quite accurately. Innocuous though it was, they just couldn’t leave it be and had to go after it, because that’s the elemental nature of fanatics….

    In the early days they need have done no more but to respond politely to John Daly and Steve McIntyre. They could have accepted their comments and buried them in a little addendum. That was all it would have taken.

    I started getting interested in this field purely from looking at Steve’s Climate Audit blog, and thinking “If this is how questioners are treated, there MUST be something dodgy going on…

    • mpcraig says:

      @Dodgy Geezer; For me, it was the email from Phil Jones to John Daly about not giving him the data because all he was going to do was look for something wrong with it.

      As an engineer I send my draft documents to others and specifically ask them to find things that are wrong with it. So you can imagine my surprise at Phil Jones. Then I started digging to find out this guy was and found he was a prominent IPCC climate scientist. Wow!

      @pointman; I’m not sure how my story fits into your post but I think there are many who became skeptics (or at least started investigating) for this specific reason.

      • AB says:

        I’ve worked with environmental engineers for almost 30 years. As you noted, all the good ones welcome criticism.

        The pseudo-science propaganda priests who call themselves “climate scientists” and preach Thermageddon? They do exactly the opposite. Refuse to open themselves up to criticism, appeal to authority from on high, do everything possible to squelch any and all dissent.

        But alas, Mother Nature has a sense of humor, and earth, being illiterate, often fails to behave in accordance with green utopian policy. And when we measure these things empirically, the CAGW hypothesis crashes under its own weight.

        Not complicated, really.

  19. M Courtney says:

    One of the greatest errors that was made by the climate lobby was the website RealClimate. It was meant to be the real scientists answering the real questions of real concerned people.

    However, when the hockey stick broke the real scientists had no answers. They could have had debates. But instead they chose to censor any awkward questions from concerned people.
    This destroyed the website as a communication tool and it destroyed the credibility of the climate lobby.

    There was a strategy for winning the debate by the greens. Teach the children the emotive stuff and pacify the big kids with a reference to the cutting edge boffins of RealClimate. Win the hearts of the next generation while persuading the leaders of today through the obvious rightness of the science. With RealClimate the climate lobby could always trump any counter-argument… until they couldn’t.

    Look back on the internet to those debates before Copenhagen in the Guardian and the like. RealClimate was always referenced as the proof that the science was settled. The answers were there and everyone who sounds sciency on the internet who disagreed was a proven nutcase.

    Take away the adult conversation and the strategy becomes childish and simplistic. The belief in their own propaganda overwhelmed them when RealClimate ceased daring to engage in debate; when the hockey stick broke.

    Skeptical Science was a stab at a replacement but by then everyone had moved on to where the debate was happening – WattUpWithThat, mainly.

  20. alex says:

    Pointman, great post again. I’m always waiting for your next one knowing that it would be highly readable and entertaining. Regarding “….given that the only outlet medium that wasn’t closed to them was the internet, which is not as yet a mass opinion former.”

    My personal opinion is that the internet is a mass opinion former. Decades ago, when I was being bombarded by the MSM with the AGW meme, how homo sapiens is causing the planet to warm up, and then this meme was egged up to ‘causing the planet to warm up with catastrophic consequences etc etc. The science I learned at school and university, and my gut feeling never let me accept this meme and its variants even when it was packed in the consensus wrapper. But I have to admit that for a few months, when all I had was mainstream info telling me that my grandchildren would not have a planet where to live on, and by, I did falter and got the alarmist virus. That lasted until Al Gore came up with his Convenient Lie packaged inside the title of An Inconvenient Truth. That was when I said enough, I need to go back to check the science. I did just that by googling “climate change” and that was when I discovered that I was not the only sceptic on the planet, that there was a world out there, in the world dominatred by the zeros and ones, the digital world, where the truth was told and the truth was found and there were a vast number of blog sites trying to tell the world that we, humans, are not so bad after all. That contrary to what the MSM was telling me, polar bears are actually inceasing their population, that the planet had warmed and cooled and warmed for the past 4.5 billion years, that the other planets cooled and warmed in tandem with planet earth, that AGW was just another Ponzi scheme, that CERN were conducting the CLOUD experiment, that the Milankovitch cycle was predominant and that just 12,000 years ago the oceans were 400 feet below the present level, when the first SUV was still 12,000 years into the future and that that rise in temperature which caused the end of the last glaciation and its resultant rise in ocean levels devastated a multitude of civilisations.

    Basically the truth is that the only constant in our planet’s climate is change.

    I’d say that the internet is a very good source of information, the place where one can search for the (scientific) truth. That is where I found it.

  21. Dodgy Geezer says:

    …To imagine that all they have to do is point out the simple physics of the greenhouse effect and exhort us to think of our grandchildren leaves them looking very foolish when confronted with sceptics like Lindzen, Monckton or Spencer. The blank looks on their faces when confronted with arguments about climate sensitivity or ENSO can be priceless….

    That’s because it’s faith that keeps them going – not science. You would see the same look on the face of a Jehovah’s Witness if you said that you didn’t believe that the Bible comprised the complete instructions of God for mankind….

    • They point out the “simple physics” but never get quantitative . I see no indication that most actually know how to calculate the temperature of a radiantly heated colored ball . For more than a decade all they ever do is parrot the extreme assumption that the Earth’s surface albedo wrt the Sun remains the 0.3 observed for the Earth+atmosphere , but would radiate as a black body .

      The conversation has not progressed a whit since I’ve been diverted by this nonscience while in another branch of applied physics , computer related material science , the modal prefixes have advanced from “mega-” to “giga-” .

  22. TDK says:

    I think there were two principle failures

    1. Alarmism succeeded whilst there was scope to ratchet up the impending Doom. Like any speculative bubble that works for the short term only. There came a point where people started laughing at the ridiculousness of the latest story or switching off.

    2. The Alarmists caricatured skeptics arguments. This failed because a disinterested third party would only have to once read a skeptic to know that the Alarmist was raising a straw man. I can’t count the times I would argue with a Green, who was staggered that I would agree that CO2 was a greenhouse gas and that there had been warming over the last 100 years. They seriously thought that was where the argument lay.

    —–

    On a different note. I had relatives and friends who would beat the drum for alarmism. Once it was a subject for discussion. Times change – it was slow and virtually imperceptible, but they have to a woman stopped panicking. No one raises the subject any more. Not because they think they were wrong but because it has ceased to be an acceptable topic for conversation in polite society.

  23. jose says:

    While we may think we are winning, or have won the war, the reality is that, within the US, at the Federal level, the state level and in too many cities, the ‘green’ movement is entrenched and growing. There is no discernible sign that any impact we climate realists think we are having is showing up in any changes in policy. Coal power plants are still closing, coal mines are still being shuttered, wind farms spring up unabated, subsidies for wind and solar go on, mandates for renewables are still being increased. I fear we have fallen into the old trap of believing our own stuff.

  24. As usual rather brilliant. Thank you. This whole process over the years (1988 – present) is very remiscent of the religeous warfares in the middle ages. I’m amazed that human culture has not progressed beyond such low points.

    • AB says:

      It is identical to the dustup between Copernicus and Galileo and the Catholic Church circa 1630. Not one iota different, except for the fact that were heretics have not been tried and put in jail or under house arrest (at least not yet….)

  25. mpcraig says:

    I’ll just add one more thing. Don’t think that this is over. Don’t become complacent and let your guard down. This movement is large, it has inertia, it has a LOT of influence. It has a LOT of money tied up in it. It is not going to drift away this year or the next.

    As a matter of fact, I don’t think this would disappear on its own. I think it needs to be dismantled. And that might be tougher than it sounds even if the majority are on board.

  26. Jim says:

    The skeptics have done a good job. BUT the biggest contributor of all has been Mother Nature.
    Record cold temperatures go a long way toward discrediting the global warming fraudsters.

  27. stewgreen says:

    - The problem is the The People Who Shout Denier a small group with too much influence
    - The technique is pin them down : Keep asking “Is that science VALIDATED ?” when they again go beyond what is validated using the bluff “It’s Science”, when making they flaky predictions and flaky solutions We have to call them out on it
    - even though they try to sneak things though uncontested; on the grounds “Science is settled & we don’t debate DENIERS!”

  28. Bill says:

    Pointman – love your articles and thoughts.

    Men go mad in crowds but come to their senses one by one.
    As soldiers in the climate wars we need to deal with the people in our sector one by one.
    To start – first need to get the door down. – put doubt in their minds. Break the mind control hold.
    Climate sensitivity is their mental Achilles heel. There are no strong counter arguments. CO2 has gone up, models predicted much higher temps and real world temps say no so theories and models are wrong! Keep message as simple as possible. Don’t try win it all at once. It is a belief system like a cult and you only have to break one link in the chain.
    Concentrate on them 1 or 2 at a time – deal with the closest ones in your sector and on to the next.
    Once you break the belief – then they are open to the next simple argument that mild warming is good and there are no links to catastrophic events. So why cripple economies with carbon taxes etc.
    I use the following simple condensed arguments which I email out to individuals or small groups and then I deal with the comments, arguments and inquiries. I have had very good success with many “conversions”. The most rabid believers are at least neutralized as they go away and start the grieving process over the loss. The average person is usually relieved and happy to find out it was all a Chicken Little scare.
    Climate skeptic soldiers get out there and do your part – use the following to get started.

    Climate Sensitivity To Changes In CO2 Has Been Overestimated.
    Two recent articles have been published that show that Climate Sensitivity to changes in CO2 have been overestimated by Climate Scientists. The first is in the Economist Magazine and is a must read.
    See http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21574461-climate-may-be-heating-up-less-response-greenhouse-gas-emissions
    The top climate scientists in the world have acknowledged that the global temperatures are trending way below their forecasts despite higher CO2 release rates. The Climate Sensitivity to increases in CO2 has been over estimated by Scientists. This means that something is wrong with the theories in the computer models.
    Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) has three main theories that each depend on the previous theory. The first theory is that the first doubling of CO2 will cause about 1 C of warming due to back radiation from the increased CO2. Subsequent doublings have minimal effect due to the logarithmic decline in back radiation.
    The second theory is called the amplification or positive feedback theory. The 1 C warming should cause higher humidity and more clouds which should trap more heat. The problem is that clouds can also reflect sunlight or condense into precipitation which will cause cooling. The net effect may even be negative so the model predictions may be way off. The Economist article refers to various new peer reviewed studies that now estimate climate sensitivity to increased CO2 may be less than 2 C.
    The second new article has just been published in Nature-Geoscience from a high-profile international team led by Oxford scientists that estimates Transient Climate Response (TCR) at 1.3°C along with Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity at 2.0°C. The contributors include 14 lead authors of the forthcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) Fifth Scientific Report. http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v6/n6/full/ngeo1836.html
    The third theory is that the estimated warming will large enough to lead to bad catastrophic effects. The world has warmed about .8 C in the last 100 years so climate sensitivity estimates of a total of 2 C are very unlikely to lead to extreme weather as there is no scientific mechanism for CO2 to influence the climate without warming. No link has been established between mild warming and droughts, tornados or hurricanes. Mild warming has many benefits like less fuel use, less cold deaths (see Europe for last 2 winters), minor sea level rise and easier lives. Mild warming combined with higher CO2 concentrations also increases crop yields and greens the earth.
    This is great news for the world that the Climate Crisis has been over estimated and overstated. The 200 billion dollars that the world has spent to date is gone (not counting 100’s of billions on wind and solar) but the world will not have to spend the trillions that scientists and politicians forecasted.

  29. 3x2 says:

    Thanks for yet another interesting and thought provoking read. Only one comment …

    [...] Nowadays there are opening moves by some of the alarmists wanting to try a bit of engagement, but that looks to be them simply edging towards some sort of accommodation with us. [...]

    I’m not sure about that part. From what I have seen the ‘accommodation’ seems to be something akin to sending (British) Missionaries to Africa in 1840. The only acceptable outcome being the conversion of Africa to Christianity.

    Most certainly not some kind of post Christian ‘cultural integration’.

    One can’t have peace if one side will put nothing on the table. But, as you pointed out, they must, by nature, defend everything. Their terms for ‘accommodation’ turn out to be ‘unconditional surrender on every front’. Petition denied. Now we know what the term ‘denier’ is all about.

    As James Dellingpole pointed out to the scientific folk at NIPCC some time ago – (and I paraphrase here) … Your efforts are for nothing … you are not fighting ‘Science’, you are fighting a political movement. It really wouldn’t matter much if global temps were back to the levels of 1965. The ‘movement’ will fight on regardless.

    Seriously … see the SA guy at 1:17 … http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LM1kh2AcKfE. Nothing like a ‘Global Goal’ to help you overlook ‘reality’.

    If you are not worried about the kind of people making hundred billion dollar decisions on your behalf then just watch the video again. (see http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/06/06/humor-u-n-climate-delegates-unaware-of-the-pause-in-global-warming/ ).

    As I said at the outset … Thank you for a thought provoking read. Trouble is that I cannot see the victory you claim. We are here ranting on the net and the SA student at 1:17 is at the conference sticking his hand up to vote yes to more ‘Global Goal’ garbage.

    He (1:17) helps frame new international agreements and we get to rant about the results. Go team. Realistically, even if every ‘denier’ point ever were proved correct by tomorrow morning, there is no way one could consider that a victory. It will take at least a generation or two to unwind the kind of crap that 1:17 has thrown us into.

    • Samuel Cogar says:

      In reply to this comment, ….

      “It will take at least a generation or two to unwind the kind of crap that 1:17 has thrown us into.”

      Yes, it will take at least 3 generations to “unwind”, … but that is only after the “subject matter” being taught in the public schools has been purged of all AGW references and other “junk science” agitprop. Currently, the public schools and colleges are producing new AGW believers far faster than the adult population of believers can be re-nurtured with factual science.

  30. AB says:

    Pointman – Just found you but couldn’t agree more with your assessment.

    This was my contribution on the Waxman Markey cap and trade bill we defeated in 2009:

    http://capitalismmagazine.com/2009/05/obamas-cap-and-trade-lifeline-or-noose/

    Aligned in battle with you to attempt to save humanity and the environment from environmentalists.

  31. Good work as always Pointy.

    Couple of points:

    1. ironically, we have been helped by the global financial crisis. Economies on their knees simply cannot afford the largesse of fighting AGW. Osborne has had to face up to some realities.

    2. we have also been helped by Mother Nature. The reality is that no-one buys into global warming whilst it is chucking it down with snow outside.

    3. the way out of this mess has to be political – as someone mentioned, later this year the Ozzies will vote in a government that will immediately start to dismantle the carbon tax nonsense. In the UK, UKIP have a massive political weapon that they have yet to unleash – simply linking the failure of the economy with the crass energy policies of the LibLabCon numpties. UKIP can promise the electorate an immediate reduction in their energy bills if they are voted in. They may not get voted in but it will put the shit in the can for the other useless feckers seeking our votes. As is always the case with politics the pendulum will swing very quickly and very decisively in the other direction – away from anything ‘Green’.

    I give it 3 years.

  32. johanna says:

    Nice piece, Pointman. As usual, you leave MSM “journalists” for dead, both in terms of style and content.

    As a non-scientist who has been a sceptic right from the start, I want to throw in a couple of other perspectives. Firstly, as an experienced policy analyst working in the rough and tumble of politics, the whole thing smelled bad to me from Day 1. It was reminiscent of previous political bandwagons, with apocalyptic scenarios, goodies and baddies, the need for sacrifice and a fast track to power and resources for the leadership.

    In sniffing around this dubious dogpile, in about 2000 I came across Steve Milloy’s Junkscience site. Milloy was also suspicious about CAGW, not least because its promoters were often the same people who ran a bunch of lies in other fields in the name of environmentalism. And, as a very smart biostatistician, he had the chops to pin the lies. Milloy actually alerted me to WUWT a few years later.

    As someone who knows a bit about government machinery, politics, economics and history, but bugger all about science at the relevant level, I have tried to make a modest contribution in comments on blogs – and the ones I follow have a much higher standard of literacy and content than the MSM. As you mentioned, the broad array of skills on the sceptic sites was very impressive indeed – people like tony b, a very moderate chap who has been studying the Central England temperature record on his own dime for years, Ian Castles (RIP), a distinguished economist who shot the Stern Report down in flames, the Canadian statistical hockey team who pulverised Mann, and journalists like Booker and Delingpole who translated it all into plain language that everyone could understand. There are many more, but you get the drift.

    As you point out, overreach was a self-defeating tactic. Denouncing Steve McIntyre as a shill, claiming that anyone who disagreed was trying to destroy the planet and didn’t care about conservation, inventing a conspiracy funded by Big Oil, attacking or censoring anyone who asked even the mildest question – it backfired big time in the long run.

    However, as someone above pointed out, the movement has a very long tail. It will take years to get rid of nonsense like the notion that having seven different recycling bins will help to save the planet. The implanting of the idea of scarcity has been an absolute gift to politicians who are loath to spend money on infrastructure that provides water and electricity when they could be lavishing it on their political allies.

    As for sceptics uniting – my view is that the disparate nature of sceptics is a strength, not a weakness. Firstly, it implicitly disendorses the notion that the science is settled. Secondly, it avoids the trap of aligning scepticism with any particular political, religious or cultural viewpoint. Thirdly, it provides the much needed self-correcting mechanism that is the core of science and is (as you said) sadly absent among the alarmists.

    Whew! Probably the longest post I’ve ever written, and kudos to you for inspiring it. I promise to revert to my usually brief, and hopefully pithy, style of commenting in future.

  33. Jon says:

    As Dodgy Geezer has suggested, the commitment of the AGW True Believers to their cause is simply a form of religious belief. As a long-time contributor to religious discussion groups I have seen exactly the same tactics applied to atheists by theist apologists. And the results have been exactly the same — we have learnt to recognise them, deal with them and dismiss them. The Precautionary Principle is just Pascal’s Wager all over again. Behind it all, too, we find the same kind of stark incredulity that anyone would have the gall to question the Grand Explanation that they find so uniquely satisfying, that psychological panacea that heals so many unmet wants and frustrated desires.

    How dare anyone demand something as churlish and mundane as facts, when we could all be getting off on this fabulous fairy story instead?

  34. Jimbo says:

    Thanks Pointman, another excellent piece. You say:

    “Given that match up, the obvious question has to be – how the hell did they ever manage to lose and why are we doing so well, while their once soaring ambitions now lay in smoking ruins?”

    Might the answer be the truth? If sceptics are right then that’s all we need.

    “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
    Winston Churchill

  35. Jimbo says:

    A second emergent phenomenon is that as resistance to climate alarmism is now appearing in the mainstream media,…..

    I suspect this is the reason for the Cook paper.

  36. Jimbo says:

    Pointman, don’t forget FOIA of Climategate fame.

  37. tteclod says:

    Reblogged this on A Life Un-Lived and commented:
    Because climate skepticism is still skepticism, and skepticism is good.

  38. A.D. Everard says:

    This is going to sound incredibly stupid, but I didn’t want to look up climate-anything on the net because I didn’t want to be swamped with catastrophic garbage.

    I never believed in CAGW, it just didn’t make sense to me.

    When I found Ian Plimer’s book “How to Get Expelled from School” in a bookshop, I felt relieved to know I wasn’t alone. But I still didn’t want to get on the net. I really thought there were too many greens out there. My husband did get on the net, though, and told me about WUWT.

    After that, well, I couldn’t get enough – it was such an enormous relief to know there was a STRONG skeptical stance out there, so many people talking sense and science.

    I come in every day, WUWT is my homepage, and Pointman, I know it takes time to write (I’m a writer, an author, so I know), but man, I wish you would write more. Your words are amazing. You inspire me to believe it’s coming down, and I know you are right, and I am witnessing every glorious moment of it.

    Thanks for being. Thanks for sharing. I think you give the sense of strength to a lot of people, and attitude is everything.

    Cheers to you, mate. :)

  39. NZ Groover says:

    Mate…….that is exactly how I found an alternative viewpoint. My gut was telling me something’s not right with this global warming thing. I went on-line to look for information and was directed to Watts Up by a derogatory comment on a warmist site. Now I’m a committed member of the Big Oil conspiracy.

  40. Pointman says:

    Spot the skeptic parallels …

    Pointman

  41. johanna says:

    Following from my comment above, I had a look at the Wikipedia entry for Steve Milloy. Oh, my! A more evil individual would be hard to find. Apparently, he has not been proved to be in favour of strangling kittens, but the jury is still out.

    Milloy’s latest campaign has been about an experiment where the US Environmental Protection Agency deliberately exposed people to high levels of particulates, allegedly to prove that they were dangerous. There is no doubt that it happened. The contortions of government agencies to make this go away are an ongoing saga.

    Just as with climate “science”, it looks like Wikipedia is staying firmly on-message here.

  42. Mindert Eiting says:

    Well said, Pointman. I like your broad scope. More and more I become struck by the parallels of this and a much greater struggle in sixteenth century Europe. Fascinating is the role of the printed book as analogue of the internet. The protestants had the means of printing them, read and discussed them in small gatherings. They held forbidden services in the open air in order to listen to self-appointed theologians. Gradually they built up their resistance. It took the Dutch eighty years to win the war against ‘tyranny’, as they called it, but hopefully the time scales are different.

  43. Scott Scarborough says:

    The opposition’s strategy was cast in stone because of their ultimate goals. Even if they engaged the climate skeptics and had major good points to make for their scientific arguments. Even if they could win the arguments! The doubt created would make it unlikely that the alarmists could achieve their ultimate goals of bringing down the industrial west. That goal is obvious because of their opposition to any reasonable alternative like nuclear energy. People need more that just a good argument before they will be willing to commit suicide. They couldn’t wait for decades for the arguments to play out because by that time the jig would be up! They know that there is only a limited window of opportunity before nature will prove them wrong. Either it wont warm or the warmth would be beneficial as everyone knew prior to their campaign (Holocene “Climate Optimum” – now why would they name it that?).

  44. Winston Churchil once said: “Never underestimate the power of a small group of people to change the world. It is the only thing that ever has.”

    The small group of bloggers that initially were written off as cranks deserve no small praise for changing the landscape of the world.

  45. Konrad says:

    Pointman,
    an excellent and entertaining analysis. Sceptics won because of New Media. The lame stream media refused to televise the revolution, but they could not stop it. I would raise one further point. You are correct in that this has been the first major info war fought in the age of the Internet. My point is that no one has ever experienced the fallout from such an engagement. For the fellow travellers in the AGW hoax it is going to be savage. I have previously alluded to this in short comments on sceptic blogs -

    “Sceptics will never forgive and the Internet will never forget.”

    “The corpse of AGW cannot be reanimated, nor can it be hidden.”

    “Global warming has in effect been a global IQ test with results permanently recorded on the Internet.”

    “The players in this sorry hoax can scrub like Lady Macbeth. They can even use the scotchbrite, but in the age of the Internet the putrescent stain of AGW advocacy wilt not out.”

    It seems that some of the fellow travellers have finally realised just how bad the fallout is going to be. In the age of the Internet, the traditional lame stream media “walk back” techniques do not work. For the warmist weasels, the full blown squealing panic has begun. They are franticly seeking an exit strategy -
    - The heat is hiding deep in the oceans! It will be back!
    - The warming is being masked by aerosols!
    - Natural variability greater than previously estimated!
    - Climate sensitivity may be less than previously estimated!
    - Did we say 6C? No, no we meant 2C!
    But none of this will work in the age of the Internet. The SS Global warming is sinking fast and all fellow travellers are going down with the ship. Sceptics have effectively destroyed every lifeboat and the Internet has welded the hatches shut.

    All the activists, journalists, pseudo scientists and politicians who promoted or sought to profit by this hoax cannot erase the permanent record of their shameless AGW advocacy. The full extent of this problem will be shortly manifest, far sooner than even sceptics believe. The fellow travellers in this hoax are not just up against a few hundred thousand sceptics. They will be facing literally billions of people seeking vengeance for multiple grievances who also have instant access to the permanent Internet record of the hoax and its players. It is far, far too late to engineer any “soft landing”.

    The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
     Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit,
    Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
     Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

    As I understand it, tears do not work on the Wayback Machine either.

  46. stewgreen says:

    From reading comments above : A good technique might be to set up :
    I became a Skeptic Because … testimonial site, where explain how they saw the light.

    - Of course the True Believer PR machine ..would try to Game this (remember the “Richard Muller used to be a skeptic” fabricated story)

  47. Phantom of the Underpants. says:

    Hubris is a particularly good way of bringing yourself down. It seems to be a trait of the subjective mind.

  48. stewgreen says:

    Some other analogies that might help in debates : Gulf War/ CO2 War, Dowsers KNOW it works, Climate Catastrophe Jehovah’s Witnesses

    The Trillion Dollar War on CO2 vs The War in Iraq – So the TBs are telling us that they have a dossier proving that Fossil Fuels are WMD and we need to destroy them
    - The obvious question what have we got to show for it for all the $billions that we have spent so far ?
    What would be the climate today if we had done nothing ? Do we have a limit on spending ?

    - Should we base government policy on Dowsing ?
    - just as dowsers over-extrapolate and are REALLY REALLY SURE “it works !” TBs also over extrapolate the science beyond the validated.. and are absolutely sure of things that are yet to be proved.. that “weather is more extreme”, that the “North Pole, will always become free of ice”
    Dowsing really works as long as the people know where the water is. If they don’t as under proper blind trials, then results are the same as chance. (it’s the idealamotor effect plus confirmation bias)

    - The ClimateCatastrophe Jehovah’s Witnesses – JWs really believe their religion, there are millions of them, but should we be basing government policy on the Watchtower ?
    - Is there a difference wetween Climate True believers who over extrapolate the science and JWs ?
    - You are walking down the street of life and the BBC & the Guardian, Oz ABC are always pushing the CLIMATE CATASTROPHE PORN WATCHTOWER in your face

  49. stewgreen says:

    - TRUE BELIEVERS are a small group, but with a hand on the wheel of the CLIMATE POLICY BUS, at BACK : 5 skeptics with a pole sometimes hit the BRAKE PEDAL.
    (this analogy helps me don’t know if it helps others)
    - there are NOT 2 sides in the debate only the TRUE BELIEVER CULT think that side it’s :”GOODIES vs DENIERS” all the other passengers on the bus realises there are lots of issues and lots of opinions.
    - Imagine the Climate Policy Bus with 50 people on it, for simplicity lets say there are : 10 Politicians taking turns at driving, 10 journalists, 10 scientists, 5 climate scientists, 5 hippies, 10 plebs (members of the public)
    20% of each category have become TRUE BELIEVERS, 20% of each category have become TRUE SKEPTICS
    - The bus was going along the PROGRESS as USUAL ROAD, the excited naive TBs shouted out “no, CATASTROPHE is down there , take this turning here through the TOLL GATE marked WAR on CO2
    - Then after a while there was another turning marked “GREEN FANTASY SOLUTIONS, Wind, Solar PV etc” ..TBs shout “YES, DOWN THERE DOWN THERE I KNOW THE WAY”..most of the politicians said “are you sure ?
    TBs : “yes yes”, they then the 2 journalists in their group push forward the 1 Climate Scientist and 2 General Scientists in their group “WE’VE GOT THE SCIENCE” they say ..”1 of the climate scientists mumble “unsure , need more research” ..Finally “The 2 True Skeptic scientist says “something wrong here“, the 2 TS journalist hears this & passes the message to the other True Skeptics “2 politicians, 2 general scientists, 1 hippy & 2 plebs).. hence the True Skeptic movement finally starts.

    - Meanwhile the True Believers have run forward to the front of the bus close up to the politicians trying to get hands on the wheel.
    - The insanely polite True Skeptics ummed & arred ..and have finally got hold of a pole which they are sometimes manage to tap on the brake pedal with..
    TB’s have Confirmation Bias on Their side, TSs have reality on their side… Politicians like reality don’t they ?

  50. manonthemoor says:

    Hi Pointman …..An excellent analysis of the sceptic progress using the internet to challenge the whole concept of global warming and its implications.

    However what we are now seeing is the collapse of the political support AGW driven by UKIP and now the activities of Tim Yeo ….. It is all about power, politics and money.

    Dare I suggest that the rise of UKIP also has parallels to the destruction of AGW, the internet has allowed a small band of EU dissenters to gain massive traction via the internet which is close to becoming unstoppable.

    Now a word of alarm, AGW still is not dead or even wounded it continues via our local government officials who remain totally wedded to the ‘system’, which provides safe employment and a generous pension. I refer to the planning system in particular and a post I recently made on the JD blog.

    Be vigilant
    There is a sinister technique called ‘Community Liaison’ which is starting to be employed by biased drilling applicants and planners.
    A friendly one sided stitch up using loaded dice in favour of the applicant and to the detriment of the affected public read some details here, ……. ‘The constitution’

    AGREED LIAISON COMMITTEE CONSTITUTION

    1. Purpose: The objective of the Liaison Group will be to foresee and overcome problems and strive to minimise conflict between site operations and the local community.
    1.1 To provide a forum for discussion of issues relevant to the Energy Production Facility

    Matters for discussion will be confined to those of operations on site, any associated road transport of materials and effects of the development on people living or working in a nearby property or enjoying the use of nearby land.
    1.2 To enable local communities and groups appropriate access to advanced information regarding the development of the facility.
    1.3 Once construction of the Electricity Generation Facility is complete, the Community Liaison Group will decide whether, and in what format, the group should continue. (Nb a legal agreement may suggest provide for meetings to be held monthly during construction and thereafter on an annual basis for three years or until the committee decide the meeting is no longer required).

    2. Membership:
    2.1 The core membership of the Community Liaison Group shall comprise representatives of: Staffordshire County Council (Members and relevant officers); Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (Members and relevant officers such as Environmental Health Officer); Parish Councillors from local villages, the applicant and their sponsor the operators elected agents, Environment Agency if necessary and local residents, by invitation.
    2.2 Other organisations with a regulatory, or other legitimate interest in the effective operation of the site, may also be invited to be members of the Community Liaison Group upon agreement by existing members of the group.
    2.3 Membership of the group is on a voluntary basis or as a nominated representative of the Council(s). Should any member wish to leave, possible replacements will be discussed by existing members of the group.
    2.4 Membership of the Community Liaison Group in no way implies any personal support of, or objection to, the applicant, or their agents or the construction or operation of the Energy Production Facility.
    2.5 Members of the Community Liaison Group will be expected to reflect the interests of the groups/organisations they are representing, rather than as individuals and will be responsible for disseminating information back to groups/organizations they represent.
    2.6 There will be no attendance at the Community Liaison Group meetings by members of the press.

    2.7 Any communication to the press on Community Liaison Group matters must first be agreed jointly between the operators of the facility, the applicant and the Chairperson.

    3. Operation:
    3.1 An Elected Member of the County Council will chair the meetings with the agreement of the majority of the members of the Community Liaison Group An alternate vice-chair will be elected from all other representatives of the liaison committee.
    3.2 The applicant will present information and suggest an agenda for meetings, taking into account complaints received, what the group has requested and what is feasible to cover in the agreed time.
    3.3 Meetings will take place commencing December 2012 / January 2013, and will be at dates and times to be agreed in advance. Meetings will be approximately 1 to 2 hours long.
    3.4 Meetings will take place at a prior agreed location, to be confirmed by the applicant. On occasions, meetings may take place at different locations and times, for example during a site visit
    .
    4. Communications and administration:
    4.1 The applicant will be responsible for providing secretarial support for the Community Liaison Group including the taking and distribution of detailed minutes of each meeting that will be circulated to members of the Community Liaison Group and made available to the general public online.
    4.2 Should any representatives of the group request additional information to be included with the minutes, this information may be included as an appendix to the relevant report.

    All communications will be produced in line with the agreed brand guidelines and communications protocols of Applicant and The County Council.
    This process is being repeated elsewhere …. Be Vigilant
    Apologies for the length of this post but we the people are still being scammed.
    motm

  51. John Brady says:

    Pointman, I only recently found your blog and have found much food for thought in your postings. I’d like to congratulate you for your incisive analysis, and I hope you will indulge my lengthy comment.

    The sceptical movement is at a pivotal moment and there is an opportunity to seize the initiative from the alarmists.

    In the MSM, sceptics have been ineffective at explaining what we do believe in; instead we have been portrayed in negative ways by the alarmists, as “denialists”, “shills for big oil”, “conspiracy theorists” etc. We are currently defined more by what we don’t believe in rather than what we do, and because of this alarmists can project their own fears on to us as a kind of under-educated and conservative awkward squad. Even the name “sceptic” has negative connotations.

    I think this needs to change. We need to stop reacting and start acting. You’ve suggested in recent blog posts that it is time to get organised. I agree. Can I make a few modest suggestions:

    1) Create a “brand” which shows positively what we do believe in. I was rather drawn to your suggestion of “people first, planet second”, because it demonstrates what we are fighting for, not just what we are fighting against.

    2) Support this by publishing a “declaration of intent”. This should be carefully drafted to focus on the values that we hold dear, and clearly explain the damage that is being caused by current environmental, food and energy policies. This declaration should be publicly launched with a core, credible (and named) set of signatories. This declaration can then be used as a rallying cry, and as a form of “branding” for the sceptical movement. It should avoid painting itself into a corner with specific policy objectives. My own steer would be to “first do no harm” by dismantling destructive policies, whilst keeping other options on the table. (The declaration should also be open to wider signatories but this needs to be carefully managed to avoid spoiler tactics from alarmists; I’d suggest a supporting set of Ts and Cs allowing false names to be removed etc).

    3) Create our own riposte to Skeptical Science, which should tackle some of the alarmist fallacies and educate the public about the huge uncertainties in the science. We can use this to show which aspects of the science we believe are solid, and which are not. At the moment, much of this information is already out there in blog form but it has to be sought out; a carefully structured website, edited stringently for objectivity, could again serve as a useful reference point.

    4) Start making demands. Demand costed scenarios for energy policy at a national and regional level. Demand that green NGOs publish their air travel statistics, and a register of interests of their executives, so that we may explore any conflicts of interest. Demand legislation ensuring that wind farms will be dismantled and landscapes restored at the end of their useful lives. Demand that wind farms be configured for maximum power output rather than maximum income generation. And so on – I’m sure that you and your readers can think of many others.

    5) Shift the debate away from science towards energy policy; this cannot be regarded as settled science and should be fair game in the MSM.

    6) Educate the public using powerful metaphors and kitchen-sink science. The public by and large don’t understand that the argument is about feedbacks rather than CO2. Find a way to bring this to life. Show them that runaway global warming isn’t about the guitar, it’s about the amplifier turned up to 11. Stage simple experiments showing the inefficiency of renewables + pumped storage.

    7) In the medium term (and very dependent on finding a source of funding), set up a civil society group, and demand a seat at the same table as the environmental NGOs. Fight fire with fire with our own policy papers, press releases, MSM briefings etc. Clearly such a group will be a David to the green Goliaths; this can also be turned to our advantage. In the UK at least the public loves an underdog; much could be achieved by helping the public realise how deeply the Green groups have become embedded into establishment.

    8) Seek injunctions and judicial reviews on aspects of environmental policy.

    Some of these actions are already happening thanks to the heroics of individuals, but I believe that now is a time to “think big” and to get ourselves organised. Are there any others out there who feel the same way?

  52. Samuel Cogar says:

    Pointman, your above commentary is the 1st I have read of your authorship and I was quite impressed with it contents/context. You did a really great job at defining and explaining the AGW argument and outing it for the “junk science” that it is.

    I have been called a “skeptic” ever since the proponents of CO2 causing AGW first coined the use of the word for their own use. But actually, I am not and have never been a “skeptic of AGW”.

    On the contrary, I am a passionate and highly partisan “denier” of the junk science of CO2 causing AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) And I have been a vocal “denier” of AGW ever since I first started “posting” to a Newspaper Forum fifteen (15)+- years ago because the claims of AGW are not based in/on actual, factual Science. Not the actual factual basic science and mathematics that I learned in high school and college and which have not changed from long ago.

    Most every CO2 causing AGW claim is based in/on associations, correlations, estimations, guesstimations, insinuations, obfuscations, half-truths and/or computer modeling projections, ….. none of which can be called a scientific proof or evidence of anything in the natural world.

    It is my learned opinion that the claims of CO2 causing AGW were first employed by NASA for acquiring Federal funding. Greater successes and direr predictions were employed each time additional funding was required. All of said “junk science” funding went unnoticed by the public until Al Gore realized the “money-making” potential and made it a “public issue” which the “greenies” and ”enviros” jumped onto post haste. NASA could not discredit Al Gore’s claims without discrediting their own claims and thus their flim-flam scam morphed into a monster. T’was during this time the “vested-interest” opportunists jumped on the “cash-cow” bandwagon …… and the rest is now history.

    And “Yes”, as an AB Degree earner in/of the Physical and Biological Sciences I can provide factual science and/or logical reasoning as proof and/or justification of my above assertions.

    And again, Pointman, I thank you for your commentary, I really enjoyed reading it.

  53. troe says:

    If we are a guerrilla band and I think we are, then we must fight like one. We need a political “Tet” to focus the debate that the International Greenback Party of Al Gore and Tim Yeo want to avoid at any cost. I ask those interested to spend a few minutes looking at The Howard Baker Center for Public Policy and The Howard Baker Forum in Washington. Senator Lamar Alexander, Baker’s protégé is their senior operations man. He is up for re-election in 2014. The entire state and national party apparatus has already kissed the ring in public. He cannot be beaten in this one party state. If we mount a serious public challenge to him on the basis of crony capitalism, the corruption of science through funding of ORNL, and rent seeking it will generate the debate we want. This battle will be fought and won in the Southland but the resources and direction will come from all of you. Don’t write it off. Take a look.

  54. webber says:

    http://www.eike-klima-energie.eu/news-cache/wie-man-eine-wirklich-schlechte-kriegs-desinformations-kampagne-betreibt/

    Your fame spreads Pointy. A good translation?

    Back on topic a key point you made is that the alarmists never provided a Hard science site like WUWT. Maybe that’s because there was no hard science.

    • Pointman says:

      Not a bad attempt but the bit about cats, dogs and hamsters was all lumped zusammen as household pets. I wouldn’t mind but the hamster bit was the punchy end to that paragraph. It’s understandable though, Afrika Korps, desert rats etc etc

      Pointman

  55. stewgreen says:

    2 more points to put to Climate Catastrophe Witnesses
    1. How do I avoid being called a denier ?
    - If I have doubts ..should I keep them to myself ? – is that how Science works ?

    2. If someone makes a claim way HIGH of IPCC scenarios would you call them out on it ?
    e.g. Robyn Williams of the ABC saying that sealevel rise could be 100m by 2100
    - If you accept IPCC science surely you should call people out whatever SIDE outside IPCC scenarios they take ?
    If I say it’s going to be around the long term trend I am called a denier, (I am 4m below IPCC scenario of 5m yet he is outside by a factor 20 times more than I am.)

  56. Manfred says:

    Thank you once again Pointman! The sheer scale and the rapidity that C/AGW has been used by agencies, bureaucracies, councils and governments to tighten the societal tourniquet with the collusion of a Green progressive MSM has been and remains a breathtaking phenomenon that will likely preoccupy social scientists and historians of the future.

    It’s important that the empirical science is catching up, though politics and belief persistently trump even the best science – endless examples of this societal phenomenon exist – but perhaps unique in this instance is the insistent grasping of the ‘resistance is futile collective’ as they reach deeply into your pocket and you feel the dank, slimy hand probing and stealing your livelihood or when you shiver with cold because it’s too expensive to turn the heater on, it is then that the skin crawls and the realisation finally dawns – you’ve been screwed.

    Screw me once, shame on you. Screw me twice, shame on me! It’s because the meaningless C/AGW meme came with a societal castrating social and financial price tag that it’s floundering on the reef of a far greater all encompassing sense of survival that makes the ‘save the planet brigade’ resemble tiresome adolescents.

  57. John says:

    Very interesting piece. It also correlates with my own personal experience of becoming a ‘sceptic’ (notwithstanding the fact that as a lover of science I have always maintained a sceptical mindset).

    I, like I suspect many, never really gave any thought to the science behind climate change alarmism. In fact it was my annoyance at the existence of sceptical arguments being put forward that made me seek rebuttals online. It was there I came across Michael Mann, James Hansen and Gavin Schmidt (and all the other members of the team).

    I was very quickly appalled at their unscientific attitude and their extraordinarily thin skins, and shocked at the abuse they handed out to those, like me, who asked innocent questions. Their attitude was: “Shut up and listen. And if you don’t you are evil”. This seemed bizarrely insecure and argued very much like teenagers or cult members. Far from reassurance this gave me the feeling that they had something to hide. And lo and behold when I looked they did.

    I suspect that the vast majority of people who blindly accept climate alarmism are like I was back then; they have simply never bothered to look at the evidence because they assumed that nobody would be making such a fuss if the evidence wasn’t so rocksolid.

    Unfortunately they don’t realise how thin and tenuous the evidence is.

  58. Pointman says:

    It’s a cold summer because of global warming …

    Pointman

  59. Doug Proctor says:

    You describe well how the alarmists created their own problems. I come from a scientific, technical background and know enough to see alternate interpretations are possible. I also well know the problem of the official position on technical issues being more political, personal or convenient than technically based. So questioning comes naturally to me. Yet when I raised technical questions, I was shouted down by people like Suzuki and Gore who said, in effect, they know people who know better, and by the way, I’m just a paid shill for Big Oil.

    A very good strategy for getting me to look closer. And when I did I saw that there was more faith than evidence involved, more Precautionary Principle than physics, more eco-green, preservationist, middle-class NIMBY, pull-up-the-ladder-Jack-I’m-inboard than I had any idea before. And then when the alarmists said I hadn’t done any original research (presumably because they don’t know how to, themselves, and can’t imagine the non-professional, non-Team types could do original research), I did some original research and didn’t come up with the tidy, official answers. If they had just discussed things with me rationally, and not insulted me and told me to trust the Priests, I would never have ended up so far on the anti-warmist, skeptic side.\

    This failure to understand that if you tell someone to check if they don’t believe, they will check, was the downfall of presidential candidate Gary Hart. Even Tony Blair, with his FOI legislation, didn’t understand that people would actually ask the questions he didn’t want to answer. It must be that the alarmists are the crowd followers, the ones who are satisfied with simplistic slogans and the sight of their neighbours doing the same things. For all of advanced education, it appears that thinking for yourself is still considered a bad thing, something that just gets a person confused and troublesome.

    Perhaps what we are seeing is a liberal belief that we thought was conservative: the truth matters less than social cohesion and good intentions. I never started out to be disruptive. I just wanted to understand – for myself and by myself – the depth of what was said to be the most important issue of our civilization. Turns out that was a bad thing. Who knew.

  60. beththeserf says:

    Appreciate yr post Pointman.

    ‘Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
    That sends the frozen-ground swell under it,’

    H/t Robert Frost.

    Beth the serf.

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