There are a lot of them and they are heart wrenching and frightening. They remind me of the seminar I attended earlier this year, which caused my stomach to knot up with dread for the future. At the seminar, none of the scientists spoke about their feelings. They didn't have to. The science spoke for itself. At the time I could only wonder how they had the stamina to continue to work in their field, knowing what they know.
In these letters we get a glimpse of what must at times be personal torment. These are from people who understand more than anyone else what we and our children and their children are going to have to try to cope with.
Take a few minutes and go and read the letters at Joe's blog.
If you are a climate scientist or do research in a related field, then you won't need to read what your fellow scientists are dealing with. I've worked a lot with scientists. As a general rule, scientists don't wear their heart on their sleeve. They tend to be analytical rather than emotional. These letters were in response to a specific request. They are a rare opportunity for human insight rather than just plain science, from people who understand, more than the rest of us, what the future may bring.
Anthony Watts mixes logic with emotion
Anthony Watts copied and pasted the blog article in full. Then he wrote (archived here):
1. Logic (Science) and emotion (feelings) are polar opposites. Mixing the two is a sure recipe for logical disaster. Ref: fMRI reveals reciprocal inhibition between social and physical cognitive domains. NeuroImage, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.10.061
2. I feel like I want to hurl.
(h/t to Maurizio Morabito)
Apart from noticing the obvious denier reaction, did you pick up on the intentional or unintentional irony? Anthony speaks of logic and emotion being polar opposites. (They aren't of course. One can interfere with the other but one can also enhance the other.) And after talking about mixing the two resulting in logical disaster, Anthony decides to mix the two anyway, saying he feels like he wants to hurl.
When scientists open up and express how they feel about what they know, it really brings it home how courageous they are. And if you ask me how I felt after reading their letters, it was immense sadness.
If you were to ask me how I felt after reading the reaction of WUWT deniers to these letters, the first reaction was like Anthony Watts - I felt like I wanted to throw up. Then I felt scorn. That's a funny word, scorn. Imagine the deepest scorn you could feel for anyone at all, then double it. That's the level of contempt that swept over me. It didn't last long though. The WUWT comments were too silly for strong emotions. In the end, the WUWT crowd are just a bunch of good-for-nothing layabouts. It's hard to maintain emotions of any kind about people at the bottom of the heap, character-wise.
It's always interesting from an intellectual standpoint though (to me), to try to fathom how anyone can disregard the knowledge of experts. And particularly how people can dismiss how the experts react as humans to the knowledge they hold, is beyond me. Oh, I know there are sociopaths among us. And there are people who are wilfully ignorant, perhaps in an effort to preserve their sanity so they can function day to day. Maybe some deniers know that if they accepted the facts, they wouldn't have the strength of character to continue.
Those of us who don't work in climate science or an environmental science - we spend most of our time thinking about other matters, like earning a living or caring for family and friends or simply enjoying life as it happens day by day, or struggling through life as the case may be. We can avoid thinking about what we are doing to the world for much of the time. People who work in climate science every day - they cannot avoid it. They can be likened to emergency room doctors and nurses, or perhaps to that special group of health professionals who work for organisations like Médecins Sans Frontières.
If you thought the climate scientists were getting a bit too touchy feely in their letters, some of the same scientists are in the video below, which is anything but touchy feely. (There are a few references that only Australian's will get.)
From the WUWT comments
If you've read the letters from the scientists, you might not want to read any further here. Still, I'll copy some comments just for the record. Maybe people will look back from the future and be as perplexed as we are today at the incomprehensible reaction to science that some humans manage to maintain. How human nature is such a strange affliction.
Marose thinks if a person responds to a question about how they feel, they need psychiatric support, and says:
August 21, 2014 at 3:52 am
Are these people all seeing the same psychiatrist?
hunter thinks it's scientists who are out of touch, not the science deniers and says:
August 21, 2014 at 3:54 am
Even if the question asked them to focus on their feelings it is still showing that these professionals are unbalanced and highly out of touch with reality. The misanthropic prejudice, the self-absorbed,self declared importance of how they see their work, the short term hysterical perspective they have on what climate is doing at this time. All their words illustrate while many of them are undoubtedly at an emotional level sincere, their work feeds their emotions, not their reason.
Unmentionable is another person who thinks that talk about personal feelings is a sign of neurosis, and says:
August 21, 2014 at 6:08 am
I couldn’t read more than a few page scans of that goop they’re all neurotics. At least the Poms do the stiff upper lip, they don’t just let it all hang out in a display of feeling sorry for themselves for their private self-appointed mission failure to stop the world adapting to itself. Aren’t these people paid to lecture and mark student examination papers and bore each other ‘n stuff? Whence the universal self-appointed Messiah complex? Must we remind you about how that turns out?
I need a group hug and a hot beverage with cinnamon in it.
PaulM is just another deluded denier who thinks that the experts don't know their subject matter, but he from his rocking chair does, and says:
August 21, 2014 at 3:58 am
Pity he didn’t ask them if they had any empirical evidence that the current climate change is not natural. If they did have some good empirical evidence then they would probably get they action that they desire.
M Seward compares the scientists to paedophiles and says:
August 21, 2014 at 3:59 am
Sniff, sniff…. sniffle…….. I feel so emotional. My fellow, educated Australians writing such heart rending insights into their humanity. As an an alumnus of USNW …. I so FEEEEL (sob sob) for these scientists now putting their hearts and souls into saving us from potential catastrophic and anthropogenically caused climate change…. NOT.
What an obviously orchestrated bit of utterly childish drivel. It shows the sniffling, self important little sook level at which these disgusting creeps are prepared to operate at to get their way and maintain their status and privilege..
Honestly, it is like listening to paedophile priests saying bring unto me the little childrem….
Rob Dawg decides that it's all the scientists fault that people like him don't believe the strong, clear message that scientists have been telling the world for the last few decades, and says:
August 21, 2014 at 4:06 am
There is a common reaction in the letters. They are frustrated no one believes them. The truth is they are ineffectual in making the case for their opinions to prevail. Appeal to authority positions are notorious for generating pushback yet they seem surprised by the reaction.
There's lots more of the same. It's as if these people are living on another planet. Perhaps another universe. One wonders how they cope in other spheres of their life. Maybe they don't - cope, that is. Robin Hewitt says:
August 21, 2014 at 4:23 am
This is wonderful. If these people are disappointed and frustrated that we are not stupid enough to fund and support solutions suggested by models that have lost all touch with reality, maybe there is still hope. Phillip K Dick defined reality for us, “Reality is everything that doesn’t go away when you stop believing in it”. Delusion is believing something to be true despite all evidence pointing to the contrary.
M Courtney says:
August 21, 2014 at 4:51 am
If our Australian friends are a little embarrassed by this, I do have something complimentary to say about these esteemed researchers.
They do have good handwriting.
Australian academia should be proud of its achievements.
starzmom is showing her age. She must be going on for 100 if she has children (as her name suggests), because copperplate and similar flowing scripts were done away with by the 1960s. She says:
August 21, 2014 at 5:20 am
Is there any particular reason these esteemed scientists with fancy degrees print instead of writing? Most of these letters were as neat as a third grader’s paper. At least compared to when I was in third grade. Then we learned to write. They also make almost as much sense. I expect third graders to let feelings guide their actions.
A lot of WUWTers were saying that expressing deep sentiment is childish, but they don't seem to mind comments like this one from Stephen Richards who says:
August 21, 2014 at 5:46 am
What pathetic, small minded little morons. They certainly need a phyca or a phsyco. Perhaps Loo Papar-donsky can help them while he help himself.
rogerknights seems to think there are contrarian arguments that hold water that scientists don't know about, and says:
August 21, 2014 at 5:48 am
They sound as though they haven’t been exposed to contrarian arguments except in strawman versions. They also sound as though they wouldn’t seek out disconfirming arguments.
Tom J says:
August 21, 2014 at 5:50 am
What a bunch of pathetic, spoiled babies.
I haven't got to the end of the comments. There may be some gems I missed. If you added up the intelligence quotient of every WUWT-er do you think it might get to 100? They are an ignorant, coarse bunch, aren't they.