Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Barry Brill finds 57 Varieties of Deniers at WUWT

Sou | 2:16 AM Go to the first of 14 comments. Add a comment

There's a science denying lawyer and ex-politician from New Zealand called Barry Brill who's written a few articles for Anthony Watts recently.  (I'm assuming that's who he is.)  In his latest article at WUWT (archived here), Barry attempts to box science deniers and others into different categories.  I'm only going to make a comment on what I find odd about his categorisation.  First here is the table he prepared - click to enlarge it.

Here are some of the things I found decidedly odd.  Maybe I'm not understanding what he's done.

CO2 and Global Cooling? 

Barry's top three categories are for people who think that the global surface temperature is going to drop by 0.6 to 0.9 degrees Celsius with a doubling of CO2. Even his "skeptics" and Lukewarmers. That's okay for "skeptics". Many of them say we're heading for an ice age. But Lukewarmers?

Fake sceptics opt for the most stringent climate policy?  Surely not.

More odd still is that his table lists all the science deniers in the top part of the table as expecting very strong mitigation to be implemented. He has them all listed with RCP 2.6, which assumes a peak greenhouse concentration mid-century followed by a decline right through to negative CO2 by the end of the century, (presumably by geoengineering rather than tree planting). It requires such strong mitigation action that a lot of people think it's no longer possible to achieve it.

The reason I find this odd is because I've yet to come across any fake sceptic that advocates mitigation of any kind, let alone the sort of steps (and stringent climate policies) that would be needed to achieve the 2.6 pathway. Barry's table itself is inconsistent in that regard.  He lists these same groupings as not regarding climate change as dangerous.  Why would people who don't view climate change as dangerous be embracing the most extreme pathway of all? And if they do, when are they going to stop urging everyone to burn more coal and oil?

Barry's labels are a bit odd, too. There are a lot of people who could be regarded as activists who accept the mainstream science. You don't have to think that ECS will be higher than 4 degrees to actively promote a shift to clean technology.  On the other hand, there are many people who think the IPCC report was very conservative, so maybe that's what Barry is getting at.

The fake sceptics all seem to be busy labeling and categorising themselves and others.  It might give them some comfort but their categories and descriptions look as odd to me as their "opinion" on climate.

Description of RCPs?

On the topic of RCPs, did the IPCC prepare a user-friendly guide and description?  The Summary for Policy Makers says not much at all.  It's got a very short section in Box SPM-1 on page SPM-22.  Chapter 12 of the main report discusses the pathways but it's not easy to read.  It's technical rather than descriptive and the discussion is mainly how it relates to the climate models, rather than giving a sense of the pathways themselves. I know there is Annex II to AR5, which gives some numbers.  And GP Wayne wrote up a nice summary at SkepticalScience.  So far the most detailed resource seems to be this paper by van Vuuren et al (2011).  

Does anyone know of any RCP descriptions published for the general public?  Maybe with some examples of how they might pan out?  (I'm aware they are indicative and not prescriptive.  Still, some illustrative scenarios would be useful - in story-telling style.  It would be an interesting exercise if no-one's done it already.)

57 Varieties of Deniers in the WUWT comments

Quite a few of the WUWT commenters don't know what they think and are asking for help to be categorised into a box in Barry's table.  Others are complaining that they've been left out altogether.  As I was copying and pasting these, it reminded me of the "baring the soul" thread of the born-again science denier, so many of whom said they were engineers. The commenters aren't talking about their day job this time around.  Here's the link to the archived WUWT article and comments again.

Cheshirered says:
October 8, 2013 at 7:28 am
Katherine says: October 8, 2013 at 5:15 am
I think any anthropogenic warming isn’t global and the warming effect of CO2 is negligible to the point that its signal is swamped by noise, so where does that put me?
Same here. Evidence suggests the whole thing is overblown beyond reason. Tell a big enough lie etc….

wws says:
October 8, 2013 at 7:15 am
You also left off “The Ice Age is Coming!!!” group.

Steve in SC says:
October 8, 2013 at 5:01 am
You forgot a category.
Climate Infidels.
That would be me over here in the corner.

Dodgy Geezer says:
October 8, 2013 at 4:32 am
There doesn’t seem to be any designation for the group (to which I believe that Willis and I belong) which holds that the radiative response to CO2 at the molecular level is as stated by standard physics, but that this causes no impact to the atmosphere because:
a) A good proportion of CO2 generated at ground level is immediately absorbed by nearby plant life
b) The major thermostatic systems in the atmosphere completely overwhelm any minor extra heat source, to the extent that it may not be measurable at all.

Dave says:
October 8, 2013 at 7:01 am
As I’m sure others have mentioned, there doesn’t seem to be a category for what Willis calls ‘climate heretics’. Since we believe that the system is inherently stable even in the face of fairly large inputs, thanks to internal stabilising mechanisms, can I propose ‘Weeble-ists’? As everyone knows, they Weeble and they wobble, but they don’t fall down – just like the climate may be perturbed by human activities, but will rapidly return to equilibrium.

Samuel C Cogar says:
October 8, 2013 at 6:23 am
Barry Brill, in the next draft of your “tidy taxonomy” you might consider a grouping for the “deniers” …. and an additional category denoting the IGW (Interglacial Global Warming).
I am a firm believer in/of the IGW, ….. but a vocal denier of the AGW.

Gareth Phillips may not have strayed far from the truth when he says:
October 8, 2013 at 5:05 am
If you really want an accurate understanding of the range of opinions on climate change in a given country, you just take the population and divide by 1. This will then give the full range of opinion. Then again if you want to stick your head in the sand you divide by 2, believers and non believers and claim 99.999% accuracy.

JohnWho says:
October 8, 2013 at 6:24 am
Aren’t there some who believe that while atmospheric CO2 may effect the atmospheric temperature, we are close to a “saturation point” of atmospheric CO2 and further doublings will not have any noticeable/measurable warming effect?
I also agree with some others who point out that the word “pause” implies continuation. Better to call it what it is – a halt in warming. It can only be characterized as a “pause” if warming resumes.

Eugene WR Gallun is a climate conspiracy theorist and says:
October 8, 2013 at 5:33 am
To name the IPCC as “mainstream” is a mistake. This is the “political agenda group” — as we have just so vividly seen in the writing of the last IPCC summary. The summary is everything — the body of the report means nothing — to the leftest politicians. The IPCC was set up to support an already active political agenda — not give an unbiased opinion. If it deviate from that support the leftest politicians “correct it”.
Now isn’t that really the truth? So get rid of the term “mainstream”. It seems to almost “deliberately” mislead about what the IPCC is really all about. “Political agenda group” or “leftest agenda group” are vividly descriptive of the IPCC’s extant purpose.
Eugene WR Gallun

Greg says:
October 8, 2013 at 6:59 am
Michael Moon says:What people believe is not interesting. What can be proven or disproven, that is interesting.
What people believe determines whether we get carbon taxed out of existence. It matters.

Count_to_10 says:
October 8, 2013 at 6:38 am
Where does “Human activity may not even be responsible for most of the increase in CO2 levels” fit in?

Eustace Cranch says:
October 8, 2013 at 6:37 am
Here’s where I stand: If I turn on a 100W lamp in my house, it will measurably increase the air temperature. But that lamp is not why my house gets hot in mid-July. Carbon dioxide is that 100W lamp.

Bruce Cobb says:
October 8, 2013 at 6:37 am
Scientifically speaking, AGW is still just conjecture. The “human fingerprint” to warming, though probably there somewhere, is just too small. Consequently, those who loudly proclaim that AGW most certainly does exist, yet can not show it, are simply talking through their hats.

Richard Wakefield wasn't the only one asking for a poll.  What would be the questions, I wonder.
October 8, 2013 at 6:12 am
I’m clearly a Skeptic. Hey, Anthony, how about a poll of WUWT readers on this?

The main thing that unites deniers is their opposition to mitigation.  Even on that score however, there were one or two fake sceptics who said they'd like to see a shift to clean energy.


  1. The usual stupid double standard ....

    Say teh evidence is that global average temperatures will rise >2C and you are an "alarmist".

    Say it will drop 1C or so and that is not alarmism at all, even though deniers always insist that "cold kills more people".

    Not really coherent at all, are these people?

    1. Yeah! I've never yet seen a fake sceptic accused of being logical, rational or consistent. At least not when the topic is climate. Or should I say, not by anyone except maybe an illogical, irrational and inconsistent denier of science who has double standards :(

  2. some of those responses are brilliant. Steve in SC seems desperate to be the Billy NoMates in the corner. and i've got no idea what Dodgy Geezer means. is he going for some sort of xkcd:690 type middle-ground route? he apparently doesn't think that it's possible for CO_2 levels to increase, because plants will magically hoover it all up.

  3. This is starting to remind me too much of my nonsensical (but fun at the time) debates with creationists. There are young earth creationists (earth less than 6k years old), old earth creationists, ones that think evolution happens but god directs it, on and on. I had to keep a table in my head so I could make sense of the answers I got. Probably could have drawn something up like the one in this article.

    To normal people with good self-awareness, the table would indicate something clearly wrong with the pseudo-skeptic position.

  4. Re: RCP info in AR5 - Stoat was discussing this the other day wrt AR5 SPM figure 10, which seems okay to me for getting a sense of GAT vs RCP vs decade, although I agree with him that the 1%CO2 line is probably superfluous.


  5. this is pretty close to the current dopey bastards comments ( they prefer that to denier) over at WTD,
    want to follow the RCP8.5 path but end up with the RCP2.6 outcome,

    they are keen on new nuclear for a low emissions track but do not see a problem that it is at least 30 to 60 years away,

  6. interactive sensitivity AR4/AR5


    1. That's a useful visualisation john - bookmarked - thanks.

  7. How great! Now a simple question: What is your Brill Rating? will immediately sort out where people stand. How Brilliant! ;-)

    I guess I am 'Catastrophically Dangerous' given that I hold the firm belief that we are running into collapse territory unless we make lifestyle changes and decarbonize etc...

  8. Deniers are clueless morons.

    I had one arguing that AGW was nothing to worry about because he looked at the warming due to RCP2.6. When I pointed out that the scenario involved a dramatic fall in carbon emissions, he ran away only to return the next day with the same clueless arguments.

    Steve Easterbrook has made some comments on the scenarios.

    "Only one of the four future scenarios (RCP2.6) shows us staying below the UN’s commitment to no more than 2ºC of warming. In RCP2.6, emissions peak soon (within the next decade or so), and then drop fast, under a stronger emissions reduction policy than anyone has ever proposed in international negotiations to date."

    There is also this post from 2011.

    1. This article suggests that RCP2.6 is a pipe dream. The world is being prepared for 2+ degrees of warming.


  9. Looking at the climate models in the ENSO wrap up at the Bureau of Meteorology, I wouldn't rule out an El Nino developing next year. If it did it could make life interesting, given the warm temps in Australia without it over the past few months.


  10. Well, Sou, a Niño would pool up cooler water around eastern/northeastern Australia. This would take out some danger from flooding like Queensland went through in recent years (from the Niña pile-up of hot surface water). Or it would enhance existing drought conditions.


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