Over at the Making Science Public blog, Brigitte Nerlich wonders about the origins of the word ‘lukewarmer’…

As I am interested in the emergence and spread of various labels used in the climate change debate, such as for example ‘greenhouse sceptic’, I wanted to know more about the label ‘lukewarmer’ and while I can’t write its history in this post, I can show how it was used in the news. I put ‘lukewarmer’ and ‘climate’ as search terms into my preferred news data base, Lexis Nexis, on 3 May 2015 in All English Language News and got (only) 43 results. There were 8 duplicates. So, in the end I read 35 articles, published between 30 January 2010 and 22 April 2015. Compared to the use of other labels, such as denier and alarmist for example, these are small numbers. What follows are extracts from this small body of articles and I’ll leave it to readers to draw their own conclusions.

Underneath Brigitte’s post is a long, unproductive exchange between various contributors and astronomer Ken Rice, pka And Then There’s Physics, who runs the blog of the same name. Rice bans alternative opinion from his own blog, but is a prolific commenter — so much so it’s hard to wonder how he gets any astronomy done — at popular blogs. Lucia made a heroic attempt to explain to Rice that there are more than two positions in the debate — read her précis here — but to little progress, such is the limit on dialogue imposed by the astronomer’s personality or capacity, it’s not clear which.

What is interesting about the phenomenon of ‘lukewarmism’ is its background. More respectable than climate scepticism and climate denial in turn, of course, but seemingly positioned just as far away from climate alarmism. But in this sense, anyone seeking to identify themselves as ‘lukewarm’ needs to take for granted the categories that others designate for themselves and each other, to triangulate their own coordinates.

But didn’t this space always exist? Was it only discovered recently? In the discussion at Making Science Public, various attempts are made to identify positions in the debate with respect to estimates of climate sensitivity. If this be the index corresponding to the fundamental axis of the debate, then, why not just give everyone on it a number? Deniers, 0-0.5; sceptics, 0.5-1.0; lukewarmers, 1.0 – 2.0, warmists 2.0-3.0, alarmists 3.0-99999999999.0.

Such an index would tell you nothing about why somebody believes that the climate’s sensitivity is what they believe it to be, much less why that number is significant. The numbers would obscure the argument, and in turn would prefigure the debate. This is, of course, the point of Consensus Enforcement that Ken Rice and his highly prolific associates engage in. Many a lukewarm blog — and even many ‘denial’ websites — has been all but colonised, lest the climate debate be contaminated by nuance. The consensus enforcers don’t even want there to be an index — admitting to an entire axis of perspectives would make the debate far more complicated than the simple matter of right-vs-wrong, good-vs-bad or science-vs-denial that they want it to be. The point of consensus enforcement is to sustain the polarised account of the debate.

Of course something approximate to the lukewarm position has always existed. And as the recent hand-wringing about Bjorn Lomborg’s appointment, and subsequent dis-appointment at the University of Western Australia shows, the debate has at least one more axis than even the enforcers admit to. In the Guardian, consensus enforcer, Graham Readfearn claimed of the affair, “The spark was the University of Western Australia’s decision to back out of a deal to host a research centre fronted by climate science contrarian Bjørn Lomborg and paid for with $4m of taxpayer cash.”

The designation of the category ‘climate contrarian’ to Lomborg is an interesting one, as Lomborg himself takes a fairly mainstream view of climate science, and stresses the need to decarbonise the energy sector. It is true that he says this is not the world’s greatest problem, but this is hardly ‘contrarian’, except in the world imagined by the consensus enforcers, where any policy short of radical mitigation is merely a lighter shade of ‘denial’. The case of Lomborg’s treatment at the hands of the consensus enforcers is the most perfect demonstration of their polarisation of the debate — the lumping together of lukewarmers, sceptics and deniers.

The same University was home to Stephan Lewandowsky, who has set up camp in the West of England — Bristol University — from where he has famously pronounced on the apparent correlation of conspiracy theories and climate change scepticism, which was fatally flawed and widely debunked, and led to a retraction. Lewandowsky has now teamed up with Naomi Oreskes, to produce a new theory of the climate debate, called ‘seepage‘,

… we argue that the appeal to uncertainty in public discourse, together with other contrarian talking points, has “seeped” back into the relevant scientific community. We suggest that in response to constant, and sometimes toxic, public challenges, scientists have over-emphasized scientific uncertainty, and have inadvertently allowed contrarian claims to affect how they themselves speak, and perhaps even think, about their own research. We show that even when scientists are rebutting contrarian talking points, they often do so within a framing and within a linguistic landscape created by denial, and often in a manner that reinforces the contrarian claim. This “seepage” has arguably contributed to a widespread tendency to understate the severity of the climate problem (e.g., Brysse et al., 2013 and Freudenburg and Muselli, 2010).

According to this theory, the global warming ‘hiatus’ is a myth, put about by climate sceptics, but which has been absorbed by climate scientists (as per ‘meme’), who reproduce it blindly, having been so beaten and harassed by the assembled forces of contrarianism and denial. But Richard Betts disagreed.

The authors suggest that climate scientists are allowing themselves to be influenced by “contrarian memes” and give too much attention to uncertainty in climate science. They express concern that this would invite inaction in addressing anthropogenic climate change. It’s an intriguing paper, not least because of what it reveals about the authors’ framing of the climate change discourse (they use a clear “us vs. them” framing), their assumptions about the aims and scope of climate science, and their awareness of past research. However, the authors seem unable to offer any real evidence to support their speculation, and I think their conclusions are incorrect.

Betts’s rejoinder was published as a guest post at… of all places… Ken Rice’s blog, where it was received by a mixture of responses, most resistant to the nuanced picture of the debate advanced by Betts. The post was republished at WUWT. I’m curious, though, why Richard Betts didn’t publish it on one of the websites of the organisations he is associated with, such as the Met Office. After all, Lewandowksy takes aim at climate scientists and their work directly. (For more comment, see also contributions from climate scientists including Betts in the comments under the article at http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/may/15/are-climate-scientists-cowed-by-sceptics )

And this point is worth more consideration. As I’ve argued before, “memes” — a theory which often comes up in the climate debate — are a double-edged sword. Lewandowsky is saying that climate scientists are vulnerable to ‘contrarian memes’ about ‘the pause’. But if this is so, wouldn’t climate scientists be equally vulnerable to ‘warmist memes’ and ‘alarmist memes’? After all, the warmist cause is so much better funded, and able to mobilise vastly more resources than any climate sceptics.

Once we start to see debates in terms of competing memes, we reduce all notions of truth to merely a dominant ‘meme’. Which is to say ‘truth’ might be nothing more than a meme — an arbitrary judgement which merely reflects dominant beliefs, not necessary truth. If that still sounds too theoretical, consider that it is precisely what Lewandowsky, Oreskes et al have done. They have said that the entire scientific community — individual scientists, scientific institutions, and the IPCC — were vulnerable to the ‘meme’, whereas only the historian of science and the psychologist were immune to its propagation through the very community that both Oreskes and Lewandowsky claim has produced a robust, unimpeachable consensus. Indeed, science itself — as a process — is no longer the best test of theories about the material world. And science — as an institution — is no longer an authority on any matter. All because us crafty deniers, by careful deployment of a simple word — “hiatus” — were able to undermine the consensus on climate change, and to hijack the entire global research enterprise.

Moreover, the implication of Lewandowsky and Oreskes is not only that by virtue of their vulnerability they are incompetent, climate scientists cannot even research ‘contrarian memes’, because to research the meme in question is QED to become vulnerable to it, and to reproduce it: ‘seepage’.

This returns us to the post at Making Science Public. Brigette opens by referring to a recent post by Tamsin Edwards, who is to the ‘contrarian meme’ what Typhoid Mary was to, erm, typhoid…

On 3 May Tamsin Edwards wrote an article for The Observer entitled “The lukewarmers don’t deny climate change. But they say the outlook’s fine” (see here for a discussion; I should point out that Tamsin didn’t choose the title for this article).

I find Edwards writing for the Guardian as odd as Betts writing for ATTP. Indeed, the comments beneath her article reflect the preference for shrill, alarmist copy, not nuances. Ditto, and moving more into the established Lukewarm camp, Roger Pielke Jr, recently had an article on the same website, ‘Why discrediting controversial academics such as Bjørn Lomborg damages science‘. The very first comment is from Ken Rice, who takes the moniker ‘fast fingers’ from Bob Ward…

What would probably help is if someone like Lomborg where to acknowledge the errors he makes when talking about something like climate science.

… Which is to say that debates would be so much easier if people I disagree with would just have the humility to admit that they are wrong.

But back to Tamsin Edwards, who wrote

But whether we are in denial, lukewarm or concerned about global warming, the question really boils down to how we view uncertainty. If you agree with mainstream scientists, what would you be willing to do to reduce the predicted risks of substantial warming? And if you’re a lukewarmer, confident the Earth is not very sensitive, what would be at risk if you were wrong?

It seems to me that ‘lukewarmers’, to the extent that they are represented by Pielke and to a lesser extent by Betts and Edwards, still have a cultural, or spiritual home in The Gaurdian — or even at ATTP. But it is an unhappy home.

This is shown, I believe by taking a closer look at Edward’s naive definition of the climate debate’s fundamental axis, that denial-lukwarmism-concern are reflected by one’s estimation of likely warming impact. As I wrote at Bishop Hill in the comments,

Here Tamsin should admit that this is ‘ideology’ or politics — the precautionary principle, reformulated — not straightforward risk analysis.

It follows that if you take a view of ‘nature’ which is fragile, exists in ‘balance’, and provides for human society, any interruption to the imagined Order of the world will be catastrophic — a contemporary, secular reading of the The Fall.

If on the other hand you take the view that human society is (or can be) more dependent on itself than dependent on natural processes, which don’t exist in quite such a perilous state as has been imagined, the perturbations caused by human society are of lesser consequence.

I can agree with a ‘mainstream scientist’ that his predictions (such as they are) are plausible without committing to the idea that substantial warming creates uniquely challenging risks. Conversely, the green view used to hold (i.e. Greens used to be frank about it) that tiny perturbations can precipitate huge changes in the natural environment. One can be wrong about low climate sensitivity, but still be able to face the societal and technical challenges this would imply, even if that meant, 500 years hence, abandoning London to the sea (or rescuing it through some form of engineering). After all, human life thrives across a vast range of environmental conditions.

There is the question of the sensitivity of climate to CO2, and there is the question of society’s sensitivity to climate. They should not be conflated. Conflating them is to presuppose the green view of nature in balance, and the perfect form of social organisation reflecting that balance.

If the notion of risk is still important, Tamsin’s question to the lukewarmer and mainstream scientist can be turned inside out. What are the risks of holding with the view that society is dependent on ‘balance’ with natural processes? And what are the risks of believing that human society is largely self-dependent. Added to these risk calculations are moral and political questions — is a society that models itself on ‘nature’ better than one that models itself on its own measure? I don’t believe Tamsin’s questions — nor any implications of climate science — make any sense until those questions have been answered. That’s not to say that even the radically human-centric view of the debate wouldn’t choose some form of mitigation, but it does suggest that mitigation at all costs, and in the political form of that the agenda currently takes would likely be off the cards, so to speak, and would be seen for the deeply regressive tendency that it is.

It seems to me that debates about the environment, and climate in particular rest on more than one axis. Of course, there is this index of sensitivity, which is important.

But then there is the question of the degree to which human society is dependent for any given stage of development, on natural processes, or ‘stability’. And this is arguably just as important.

Then there is the question, related to the first and second, about the necessity of organising public life around the principles seemingly understood from environmental/climate science.

I don’t believe that the first axis is the only axis in this debate. As I describe above, one could take a high position with respect to climate sensitivity, but have a high estimation of human society and humans as individuals, to determine that the benefits of industrial society are worth bearings the cost-consequences for, on economic, moral, or political bases. Moreover, I have had many arguments with people of an alarmist bent in which it has become obvious that they are keener on a society organised around the authority of climate science than they are keen on understanding precisely what climate science has determined, which is to say that such a position is nakedly ‘ideological’, yet owes very little of its understanding to science. And on the other hand, I have argued with just as many putative ‘deniers’ who would seem to accept a great deal of state control of their lives, should it be discovered that indeed the climate is changing as dramatically as been claimed, such is the limitation of pure climate scepticism.

Over at TheLukewarmer’s Way, Thomas Fuller enumerates the things, per Lucia, that lukewarmers disagree with others about:

“Lukewarmer disagree with those who:
1) Believe CO2 has no net warming effect.
2) Believe the warming effect is so small that any observed rise in measured global temperature is 100% due to natural causes.
3) Believe the measured global temperature rise purely or mostly a result of “fiddling”.
4) Believe the world is more likely to cool over the next 100 years than warm.”

And for:

* lukewarmers believe ECS is on the lower end of the IPCC AR4 range […]
* … recognize the magnitude of the temperature change matters as does the rate of change.[…]
* … think it’s important for the estimates of ECS used in economic models that are used to guide policy to not be biased by things like using inapproriate priors […]
* … disagree with the rhetoric that suggests that we must all focus on the high end of ECS […]

This would seem to claim that lukewarmism is qualitatively different from scepticism and ‘warmism’, not merely a position taken after triangulating between having ones cake and eating it. But that appears to be the implication, unfortunately. And this is perhaps the limitation of honest brokerage, lukewarmism and the new manifesto offered by the ‘ecomodernists’.

As I pointed out here in an earlier discussion about words

I find it hard to fault Pielke, Nerlich or Curry’s thinking on most things. But I wonder what use there is in an endless taxonomy of agents in the climate debate, and ideas about configuring effective relationships between science and governance.

Would even an honest broker have ever been able to resist eugenics and neomalthusianism? Could being objective about the evidence, and helping politicians consider the evidence have stopped the ‘limits to growth’ thesis from developing its toxic hold over (and against) the development agenda? Could public engagement have stopped 20th Century scientific racism?

The following may sound shrill, and lean towards a reductio-ad-Hitlerum argument. But notice that, even though we all now know that the racial science of the early 20th Century was political, not even the Royal Society is so aware of the difference between science and ‘ideology’ that it recognises mid 20th Century malthusianism as a racist doctrine and Paul Ehrlich as a nasty racist. The Royal Society gives Ehrlich awards instead, salvages his failed prophecies, and re-animates them to increase their own leverage in political debates about the environment. The task in front of the honest broker is bigger than he realises: it’s him versus some serious institutional muscle.

Just a few years south of Rio Declaration’s fourth decade, I would argue, is a little bit late to start worrying about merely fixing the relationship between science and policy-making, such that only the best science gets through, untrammelled by alarmism — denial was never admitted to the debate anyway. If lukewarmism really is about merely fixing this relationship after locating some sensible middle ground, it is hopeless. It is not equal to the task of understanding why the environment in general and climate in particular have become encompassing frameworks for understanding the world and things within it such as poverty, war, inequality, and decline in the ‘general sense of wellbeing’, and as such is not equal to the task of understanding what impedes transparent dialogue between science and policymaking. It is not enough to merely say that we should use ‘good science'; the reason why policymakers have sought the moral authority of science needs to be understood, before we can say what is good science and what is not. And it is not enough to produce glossy manifestos, aiming to put policy-making and the natural science on the right track. Until the reasons why alarmist manifestos and the models that underpin them were able to thrive are understood, there can be no sensible manifesto.

In other words, if ‘lukewarmism’ tries to define itself as anything other than merely an attitude towards debate — for instance by attaching itself to an estimate of climate sensitivity — then it is as problematic as outright denial or rabid alarmism. I always thought this was what was meant by ‘lukewarm’, and that the middleground estimation of climate sensitivity was the consequence of not being invested either in ideas about scientific fraud or in particular political agendas. It seems that many lukewarmers are, after all, refugees from the green camp, displaced — or even expelled by the shrill rhetoric of so many Lewandowskys and Oreskes — by alarmism, but not really willing to ask why they are in exile.

Of course, many (but not all) lukewarmers do ask such questions. But perhaps ‘lukewarm’ doesn’t describe very much at all, except where a position exists in relation to another. There’s little point trying to define lukewarmism for all values of alarmism, or for all values of denial, since the debate is fluid, and moves on. New issues emerge, such as the pause, or ocean acidification, or climategate, or Himalayagate. Each creates new challenges for the putative camp in question to explain the development. Giving things names, more often than not, is an attempt to keep the debate frozen.

There is a quote somewhere, which I have lost: once you give something a name, you don’t have to argue with it. This is the tactic followed by Lewandowsky, Oreskes et al. By suggesting that there is a phenomenon of denial… And now lukewarmism in the form of reflection on the hiatus, it becomes an object of study, rather than an analysis or judgement in its own right. Lewandowsky and Orsekes no longer need to defer to climate science — nor even climate scientists — they simply need to say that science is vulnerable to some force which is greater than it. Deniers are vulnerable to ‘conspiracy ideation’, and climate scientists are vulnerable to deniers’ conspiracies to undermine certainty with doubt. No deniers, sceptics, lukewarmers or even climate scientists are allowed to have found the data on the hiatus interesting in its own right. Don’t take my word for it, ask Lewandowsky et al.


UPDATE.

Roger Pielke Jr. tweets that he rejects the term ‘lukewarmer’, and adds: “Distinguishing political perspectives according to ECS is antithetical to robust policy & inclusive politics”.

I would again add that I think the term isn’t meaningful, so I don’t mean a lot by it. My apologies to Pielke, nonetheless. This is the problem with labels. By referring to him as a ‘lukewarmer’ I was not referring to his estimates of sensitivity, but as I point out later, an approach to debate, contra those who are hostile to it, which holds that it is essential.

39 Responses to Identifying ‘Lukewarmism’

  • The hostility to fossil fuels predates the climate change issue and is somehow equated with original sin, meme-wise, which I find just baffling. How can fossil fuels be “evil”? Likewise, the hostility to people and the wish that most of them would just die so nature would be left alone. As if “nature” was sentient and cared to be left alone. I think your point about the perception of fragility is key. People who work in primary industries like farming and logging (many of which I work with or know) or engineering do not accept this fragility idea. It is an idea for the sensitive and fearful, not for adults. Neither nature or human society are fragile. How could Europe after being bombed into dust in WWII be a vigorous industrial economy 20 yrs later if this fragility was true? If nature was this fragile how did is survive the ice ages?

  • Well you say a lot and you say it well. I don’t agree with all of what you write, but you make a good first stab at things.

    Lukewarmer as a position is not defined by its opposition. It is an interpretation of the data available regarding climate science and related fields. We of course may be wrong, but the lukewarmers I know (including myself) did not try to run away from either skeptic or warmist points of view. What most of us did was express our understanding and then watch with no little bemusement as skeptics and warmists distanced themselves from us.

    What is amusing about the current flurry of writing about lukewarmers is how little of what we actually say is used against us. Most of the criticism of lukewarmism is actually criticism of things we don’t think are so and things we have never said. ATTP is a prime place to look, but so is Nuccitelli’s and even Tamsin Edwards’ more recent articles in The Guardian.

    As we are not organized and haven’t defined ourselves, it’s probably tough to get a read on the whole phenomenon. As there are so few of us, it didn’t seem necessary. Perhaps that will change.

  • Ben

    I always thought this was what was meant by ‘lukewarm’, and that the middleground estimation of climate sensitivity was the consequence of not being invested either in ideas about scientific fraud or in particular political agendas. It seems that many lukewarmers are, after all, refugees from the green camp, displaced — or even expelled by the shrill rhetoric of so many Lewandowskys and Oreskes — by alarmism, but not really willing to ask why they are in exile.

    Well, there’s a problem with that notion. I’m sure you’ve noticed that everyone claims their view is the consequence of examining data without being invested in any particular agenda or having any axe to grind. So, the term lukewarm when coined historically made no claim about whether anyone was invested in any particular political ideology.

    The other difficulty is that the people who were “lukewarm” in their predictions of probable response of the climate to GHGs predate the coining of the term. For various and sundry reasons, at least as far back as 2008, there was a group of people who had a middle ground estimate of climate sensitivity. Many of us could tell our reasons— and those reasons were generally not invested in ideas about scientific fraud and so on. But there are some who believe in ‘medium’ warming who perceive that a level of “hive mind” or “bias” at least can exist in any scientific endeavor for some amount of time; that this is generally self-correcting is true. That doesn’t mean science is always in a perpetual state of “already corrected”.

    So I think for most of us, the reasons are not related to accusations of “fraud” or particular political agendas we hold. Most of us were discussing data on the ground, where climate model projections were and so on and came to certain conclusions about what the ‘odds were’ for various levels of climate sensitivity. A word was coined— the word fit as a description of a group of people who had a particular estimate of the range of response of the earth to GHG’s.

    The word caught on. The word made no particular other claim. It’s trying to be narrowly defined on this particular thing.

    While to some extent, other features you might have imagined associated with the term “lukewarmer” are related to other features about some of us — and often those traits are that one is not heavily invested in all the “fraud” etc. claims. But all in all, it is the case that the term only means a person thinks AGW is real, but in the ‘low to middling’ range. (The term is being broadened to include “policy lukewarmer”. But that wasn’t its origin.)

    I would like to elaborate and show that narrow usages of labels exist in other discussion. How a person came to that conclusion doesn’t really affect whether they are a “lukewarmer” anymore than how a person came to be agnostic, Roman Catholic, Hindu, Mormon or some such affects whether one that particular label applies. If one is Roman Catholic, they are that. They aren’t deemed “not a Roman Catholic” if their conversion came as a result of a miraculous vision of the Virgin Mary rather than as a result of reading Aquinas and being convinced or being baptized and never thinking much about it.

    Now we come to some of the “problems with labels” in the current discussions. Two of the problems with labels are:
    1) We actually do sometimes need them to make distinctions. Labels are useful for that. Roman Catholics have different practices from Episcopaleans, and differ from Moslems. Sunni’s differ from Shiite. All these words are labels and tell us something.

    2) But sometimes, especially in political contexts, people want the label to communicate multiple things all at the same time. This doesn’t work unless the label actually does communicate all those things all at once. Some labels like “mammal” communicate many features; some like ‘cat’ communicate fewer’. Sometimes someone would like the term to communicate a different feature than it actually does. Lukewarm is a descriptive lable that states where one happens to land on your 0-1000 scale of “stone-cold cooler denial” to “the earth is melting alarmist”. But it’s wrong to expect that someone can diagnose the basis for your belief from the belief itself. It’s also extremely difficult to diagnose or even guess ones position on other issues based on their estimate of ECS. Some are for action. Others are not. The reasons vary.

    3) Sometimes people would like the word to communicate a different feature than it does. Perhaps we need a word for a person who is “ invested either in ideas about scientific fraud or in particular political agendas”. I think that’s “objectivist”. But I also believe Ayn Rand supports swiped that using it to mean…well… you decide if you think they are not invested in a political agenda. Words like “realist” have also been glommed onto. As a word “Lukewarmer” isn’t trying to make any that particular claim— even though I think most lukewarmers would be willing to explain the basis of their beliefs to you.

    4) Some people want to attached negative or positive connotations to labels precisely by adding ‘meanings’ to the term. Especially in political contexts some really want to decree that any label does convey a political inclination, a moral view or all sorts of other meanings. You are currently reading Anders heaping invective on what he thinks lukewamrmers “seem” to think; he also accuses lukewarmers of things like wanting to deem themselves the sensible middle. Well… I don’t know about “sensible”. But we are ‘in the middle’ on the scale and for long-term lukewarmers the term only conveys meaning about the the amount of warming expected for certain amounts of CO2 injected into the atmosphere. This is not making a claim about lukewarmers being “sensible”, “moral”, “just”, “balanced” or “more objective than others”. The term only describes the magnitude of warming one anticipates given the amount of GHG’s added to the atmosphere.

    4) Some people want to stay away from labels and we get into counterproductive arguments about labels. But it’s not possible to fix it because people want to describe things and that requires words. We will always end up with words to describe ‘groups of people who think something in the range if X’. I prefer to have more neutral sounding ones if possible. Lukewarmer— while it could be painted ‘bad’ is inherently more neutral than “Realist” or “Hawk” or “Dragon” or any of the other terms some people have come up with for “their” group.

    Oh— I can’t leave without a short comment on “policy”. Of course it is natural for there to be a correlation between ones belief about likely range of ECS, TCR and the level of support for various policy actions. After all: economisits use estimate of impacts to figure out whether the cost benefit of an action is net positive. But the correlation on preferences for action varies because ones estimate of ECS/TCR isn’t the only thing that matters. So do values.

  • ATTP blogged on your post, Ben. I think it’s safe to say he didn’t get past the title.

  • Thanks Lucia. Some crossed wires, I think…

    I’m sure you’ve noticed that everyone claims their view is the consequence of examining data without being invested in any particular agenda or having any axe to grind. So, the term lukewarm when coined historically made no claim about whether anyone was invested in any particular political ideology.

    Yes, everyone believes they possess all the science, and none of the ideology… I argue that we should all own our ‘ideologies’, and that it’s hard to make sense of science until that is done. By referring to lukewarmers as refugees, my point is that the debate was made hostile by aggressive rhetoric, which does not welcome debate at all, and suggests that accommodating debate is to concede to ‘denial’. If this were not the case, and putative lukewarmers (and deniers and sceptics, for that matter), were not the objects of green demonology, perhaps the geometry of the debate would not be so significant, and neither would the supposed fundamental axis (ECS).

    Whether or not you came to ‘lukewarmism’ through an estimation of ECS, the space in the middleground is significant for what exists around it, as much as the implications of the estimation itself. If you chose the designation ‘lukewarmer’ based on your estimation of ECS, we would have to assume that any position in the debate exists with respect to an estimate of ECS. But, as we can see, there are much more significant things at play, not least, the tendency at one end of that putative spectrum, where something seems to exist to make people very angry indeed, that somebody should chose to sit on a different part of the ECS spectrum.

    How a person came to that conclusion doesn’t really affect whether they are a “lukewarmer”

    I disagree. Bjorn Lomborg’s story — not necessarily to put him the middle ground — is interesting, for example. Starting out aiming to challenge Julian Simon’s claims, but in the end finding them compelling. As is the story of Lomborg’s one-time custard-pie assailant, Mark Lynas interesting. He now finds himself in the EcoModernist camp discussed above. Late to the party, but also barely as reflective on his journey as Lomborg. My own transformation began at that custard pie moment, too. Surprised by the willingness of Oxford’s environmentalists to close down debate (there were other anti-Lomborg actions at the same time), I decided to read The Sceptical Environmentalist. And I found the green reaction to it, and to debate increasingly abhorrent. We all find ourselves in the midst of (if not the middle of) debate.

    This is why I suggest later on that much of the lukewarm/Hartwell/Breakthrough/EcoModernist approach is ineffective. It doesn’t seem to acknowledge the debate as such, and seems merely to want to start from scratch, redesigning science’s relationship with policy (which it does regard as a failure). This is what I mean by having one’s cake and eating it.

    I agree with your point 1 about the usefulness of labels. I use them. We all use them. but they can obscure the argument. Witness Dana, for instance, over at Ken’s site, who has a taxonomy of positions in the debate, but who cannot cope with abstract argument with any of the individuals who populate those categories. They are all merely characters in his climate mythology. Or Lewendowsky and Oreskes, who try to identify the pathologies and conspiracies of those categories.

    I’m less sure about your points in 2. Lukewarm is a descriptive lable that states where one happens to land on your 0-1000 scale of “stone-cold cooler denial” to “the earth is melting alarmist”.

    The reason I found this scale inadequate is that I could take a high estimate of ECS, but not be troubled by the consequences, even if the ‘impacts’ implied by ECS are severe (abandoning London, for instance). The other example I gave was one in which someone of a green hue argues that even tiny forced changes can precipitate huge environmental changes. If the climate debate were only about ECS, this measure of ‘lukewarmism’ would make sense. But it is about a lot more. Hence I said that the more interesting characteristic of lukewarmism is its accommodation to arguments from either other end of the continuum (notwithstanding its naivety) — I don’t think the middle ground has eschewed “ideology”, though it is likely where there is more reflection on it.

    I’m not entirely sure of your point 3.

    Of course it is natural for there to be a correlation between ones belief about likely range of ECS, TCR and the level of support for various policy actions

    I disagree – see my reply to your point 2. Some environmentalists will waste months of their lives protecting a single tree from road developers. Other climate activists will tour the world in private jets. This is a very, very, very messy debate. Reducing it to a single axis is likely to utterly confound progress.

  • Tom – ATTP blogged on your post, Ben. I think it’s safe to say he didn’t get past the title.

    Yep, he skipped straight to the quote from Pielke. Ken’s comprehension skills are a matter of public record. “I fail to see..” would be a much better slogan for him than the now-retired ‘trying to keep the conversation civil’.

    He seemed quite desperate to agree with Pielke, though. And had ‘failed to see’ how his own arguments are completely at odds with what RPJ says about ECS as the determinant of positions in the debate.

  • Well, to be fair, he also ‘struggles to understand’ quite a bit…

  • Regarding your reply to Lucia, you have a fair point about Lukewarmers being a bit one dimensional. I would say that’s natural–finding ourselves between opposing forces regarding what the IPCC considers to be the biggest unresolved issue for WG1 matters.

    Asking us to present a coherent story for WG2 and WG3 related issues seems a bit much, given that neither skeptics nor warmists have actually done so yet. Most Lukewarmers who write about climate change have offered individual assessments, but none of us have said ‘this is a lukearmer position on adaptation or mitigation.’

    Do you think we should?

  • Tom – Do you think we should?

    No! I’m saying ‘don’t get caught up in identifying lukewarmism’!

  • The alternative at the moment is to allow ourselves to be misrepresented by the lot over at ATTP and elsewhere.

  • Tom – The alternative at the moment is to allow ourselves to be misrepresented by the lot over at ATTP and elsewhere.

    Consensus enforces will always misrepresent. That’s their function, as is discussed above.

    The important question to ask, I argue, is how such an intolerant culture was allowed to develop in powerful political and academic institutions, and why the alarmist case was preferred by policymakers, who continue to make use of the binary view of the climate debate.

  • The important question is how long the consensus will allow the Konsensus to parade in front of them and damage their credibility.

  • Tom – how long the consensus will allow the Konsensus to parade in front of them and damage their credibility.

    As I’ve said before, the climate debate descends to science. And as I said above,

    Just a few years south of Rio Declaration’s fourth decade, I would argue, is a little bit late to start worrying about merely fixing the relationship between science and policy-making, such that only the best science gets through, untrammelled by alarmism — denial was never admitted to the debate anyway. If lukewarmism really is about merely fixing this relationship after locating some sensible middle ground, it is hopeless. It is not equal to the task of understanding why the environment in general and climate in particular have become encompassing frameworks for understanding the world and things within it such as poverty, war, inequality, and decline in the ‘general sense of wellbeing’, and as such is not equal to the task of understanding what impedes transparent dialogue between science and policymaking. It is not enough to merely say that we should use ‘good science'; the reason why policymakers have sought the moral authority of science needs to be understood, before we can say what is good science and what is not. And it is not enough to produce glossy manifestos, aiming to put policy-making and the natural science on the right track. Until the reasons why alarmist manifestos and the models that underpin them were able to thrive are understood, there can be no sensible manifesto.

    The consensus is indicted by the very fact of the Konsensus. It allows presidents to make things up about weather extremes, and magical proportions like 97%. Meanwhile, the consensus isn’t even robust enough to discipline the academy, where wild green speculation and fantasy get passed off as ‘The Science’. The consensus allows the Konsensus because it is a condition of the compact, whereas an ideal lukewarm consensus would have almost zero political utility. It would be like trying to prosecute a war on terror without the threat of WMDs, without a global, well-financed network of enemy combatants, and without an event such as 9-11.

  • Well, I’m not giving up and I’m not going away. I think the Lukewarmers I know have something to contribute, something positive.

    What I’m tired of is playing raquetball with Konsensus flunkies.

    You hint at, but don’t really say, something that I think is their core advantage. They act as filters for the rest of the world. I have to find a way to get around them, as I’ll never get through them.

  • My personal definition of lukewarmer is that it is a person who agrees with the direct effects of CO2 warming, but not necessarily the indirect effects.

    So the direct effects are about 1 – 1.2C for a doubling of CO2 from 280 ppm to 560 ppm.

    We have added 120 ppm (now at 400 ppm) and have moved up about .8C, but because of the log nature, each ppm has less of an impact that the previous one.

    So to me the lukewarmer agrees with the basic physics that CO2 acts to reflect some light back to the ground and therefore agree that more CO2 will warm the Earth.

    After that, I think it gets quite squishy as to the range or even sign of the feedback warming (or cooling).

    Clouds are an indirect effect.

    Additional water in the atmosphere is an indirect effect (and its role as a GHG gas).

    Some believe that there is some indirect warming (say .6C to get to about 1.8C for a doubling of CO2 from 280 to 560), while I believe some are not even sure of the sign of the indirect effect.

    So I would define an axis around direct versus indirect and not on climate sensitivity per se.

  • “Once we start to see debates in terms of competing memes, we reduce all notions of truth to merely a dominant ‘meme’. ”

    Memetics does not imply this. It implies that *some* debates, typically where there is genuine high uncertainty and other conditions, will become dominated by memes, which may also co-evolve into a memeplex. The scientific method strictly adhered to, constrains the evolution of memes (mostly) to a reflection of physical reality, i.e ‘the truth’. The problem is that humans are still highly sensitive to emotive memes, which hence are perfectly capable of derailing the scientific method for longer or shorter periods, where conditions per above prevail. There is nothing in memetics that says dominant memes are ‘true’, or must in some sense be regarded as the truth. In fact a major point emphasized by this field is that replicative success frequently trumps veracity.

    “They have said that the entire scientific community — individual scientists, scientific institutions, and the IPCC — were vulnerable to the ‘meme’…”

    Yes, a surprising and useful admission, because it acknowledges a key process via which the huge social phenomenon of CAGW arose in the first place, and indeed that the scientific process is vulnerable to corruption by memes. To risk admitting this for the climate domain, they must be getting desperate indeed. But then again they are so blinded by their own bias and false certainty that maybe they don’t see the risk. (Regarding other domains, Lewandowsky in particular has good knowledge of various bias mechanisms that in essence are ways via which memes penetrate the pysche) .

    “But if this is so, wouldn’t climate scientists be equally vulnerable to ‘warmist memes’ and ‘alarmist memes’?”

    Not only ‘equally’ vulnerable, but very much more so. Because the emotive content of the primary CAGW memes easily outguns the ‘pause’ memes (whether or not these contain a better reflection of reality) and other skeptic memes (although some of these certainly have their own emotive content, e.g. ‘its all a liberal conspiracy’ etc.) The money and resources you mention have grown into massive amplification mechanisms, but these engines were built up via the alarmist memes in the first place, at a time when they had less opposition.

    For Lewandowsky and Oreskes to open up this front on the debate is a great service for skeptics. They admit to and lay bare a key mechanism via which CAGW arose in the first place, allowing many to follow up by exploiting a vulnerability that is now much more obvious. It’s no wonder the more mainstream orthodox consensus folks don’t like this.

    Meanwhile, they are essentially right regarding the pause memes. These *have* heavily impacted the debate and the perceptions of consensus scientists themselves. I’d like to think that this is *because* they may represent a better reflection of reality, i.e. the scientific method reasserting itself; sometimes memes *do* spread because of veracity as this is by no means *always* unattractive. And however much the consensus might be pivoting on the definition of warming, it *did* use rising GST as a primary icon for many years. But the the very meaning of ‘pause’ *could* be a distortion of physical reality too, a reality that no-one can yet know. AGW *may* not be ‘paused’ at all; it may never have existed in a significant form, for instance. In this case pause memes are effecting their influence independently of veracity just like CAGW memes, and their acceptibility may be better explained by the fact that ‘pause’ is a term which allows the faithful to accommodate more recent observations, without being seen (except by the manic fringe), as too heretical.

    In the long term, I’m pretty sure science will reassert itself anyhow. However dominant ‘untrue’ memes may become, they cannot change physical reality, and always lose if any head-on impact with reality should occur. This is why any such impact is always avoided at all costs by the heavily influenced.

  • Ben “”If you chose the designation ‘lukewarmer’ based on your estimation of ECS, we would have to assume that any position in the debate exists with respect to an estimate of ECS. But, as we can see, there are much more significant things at play, not least, the tendency at one end of that putative spectrum, where something seems to exist to make people very angry indeed, that somebody should chose to sit on a different part of the ECS spectrum.””

    The first sentence has an unsupportable statement “”we would have to assume…”” No. You can say that a lukewarmer engages the debate with respect to an estimate of ECS. As you point out later, a green belief could encompass an approach that would consider a samll temperature increase deadly, and yet the green could be either a small, medium or large ECS. This still does not change the lukewarmer’s position. A lukewarmer does not have to have a policy preference. You point this out wrt the green, but then challenge the more limited definition. In this it appears you are projecting onto the lukewarmer’s an attribute that does not necessarly exit, and then wonder why it does not seem to exit.

    Your statement for Lomburg applies to Lomburg. It does not mean it necessarily applies to anyone else. That filter is your’s. It does not reflect reality of all positions for lukewarmers.

  • JFP: As you point out later, a green belief could encompass an approach that would consider a samll temperature increase deadly, and yet the green could be either a small, medium or large ECS. This still does not change the lukewarmer’s position.

    Exactly. So, anyone can self-identify or be designated as a ‘denier’/sceptic, ‘lukewarmer’, or ‘warmist’ with respect to ECS, and yet take any position WRT policy. Lukewarmers tend not to be ‘alarmists’, yet some alarmists hold with (or are ‘concerned about’) lukewarm estimates of ECS. The estimate of ECS is almost trivial, inconsequential, and thus barely worth a designation as such. We might as well identify positions within the debate with respect to what people prefer to drink in the morning.

    Moreover, most people worth listening to at any point on the putative spectrum acknowledge that the science with respect to ECS is provisional. (Though, some at one end have emphasised certainty, and used the doubt-uncertainty axis to reframe the debate by impugning motivation to the population at the opposite end.) Unless lukewarmers were dogmatically attached to their estimate of ECS (which seems hard to believe), we haven’t yet identified anything necessary about the position.

    A lukewarmer does not have to have a policy preference. You point this out wrt the green, but then challenge the more limited definition. In this it appears you are projecting onto the lukewarmer’s an attribute that does not necessarly exit

    If you read it again, I point out my own misapprehension. I had put people (including Pielke, it seems) into the ‘lukewarm’ category because they seemed to have taken a position with respect to the existing debate, which could be described as open-minded on most questions. (Though a number from this camp do nonetheless seem a little squeamish at times, about ‘denial’). Contra, Lucia, and TomF, who maintain, as you do that lukewarmism is merely an estimate of ECS. In which case, unfortunately for TomF, there can be no ‘lukewarmer’s way’, because nothing is implied, necessarily by a lukewarm estimate of ECS.

    The broader point I make here is that the climate debate descends to science. Even if Nature herself announced what ECS really is, she would barely move the debate on by a single quantum.

  • I’d see lukewarm as a reaction to the stridency, and often quite blinkered and motivated reasoning (fragile earth, terror of change), of the pro-catastrophe side of the AGW side. Lukewarm is sort of a “Yes, but…” view. That is it’s cognizant of the science, but also aware of the limitations and wary of anything that looks like overstretch.

    As anyone who’s tried to do any forecasting will know, prediction is hard. Predicting change is harder. And predicting moments of change, like turning points or tipping points harder still. When the change is “unprecedented” what system or previous experience do we have to judge against? Claims of extraordinary change therefore need extraordinary evidence and extraordinary scrutiny. I want and expect to see papers that say this is strange, or we don’t understand that, and not the three-line whip opposing any perceived dissent.

    So one way of reading the science is as a set of fingerprints to look out for, indicators of certain directions the climate could take. If we see certain fingerprints we become more confident of one pathway over another. If those fingerprints do not come into being maybe something is missing from what we understand – downstream consequence we were unaware of. Instead, like Minority Report, we have the message the future is certain we’re just waiting for the evidence to catch up.

  • I don’t know what I am. I like to study the subject because it links to fossil fuel emissions, and I’ve reached the conclusion that running out of cheap fossil fuels is a worse problem. As it turns out, the effort to reduce emissions can also lead to higher energy efficiency and allows us to stretch fossil fuel reserves.

    I’ve read the IPCC report and learned about the way they do things (I call this the “workflow”), which seems to be very inefficient. I’ve also noticed influential climatologists and other scientists seem to lack a basic understanding of project engineering and economics. An effort to reduce the worldwide green house gas effect is a massive mega project defined by engineering and economics (and of course politics). The climate sensitivity is an important parameter we must consider, but engineers and economists don’t need certaintity to start planning, we just need to understand the uncertainty exists.

    Unfortunately, our world, what we know, the lessons we have learned, and what can be accomplished seem to be alien to the IPCC nomenklatura, President Obama’s science adviser, and others who seem to think this is about the science being settled.

  • There is an element of “Candide-ism” in the warmist – and esp. the alarmist – position. We must be living in the best of all possible worlds if we can’t bear to change it. However…a recent article in The Lancet (http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2814%2962114-0/abstract) points out that globally there are 20X more deaths from extreme cold than there are from extreme heat. That suggests that a little warming might be a very good thing, and that this is not the best of all possible worlds.

  • Ben “”Contra, Lucia, and TomF, who maintain, as you do that lukewarmism is merely an estimate of ECS. In which case, unfortunately for TomF, there can be no ‘lukewarmer’s way’, because nothing is implied, necessarily by a lukewarm estimate of ECS.””

    I think this is where I see something different. WRT policy, I can see a ‘lukewarmers’ way’.It happens to match RPJr “least regrets” policy. I don’t conflate mandating a policy wrt an ECS estimate. Rather recognize there can many different policies to an ECS. My experience is that a least regrets policy in the face of unknowns, even adversity, is a good way to handle difficult situations. In engineering this is often done. In fact, the new rendition being proposed of ISO requires including environmental, safety, food safety, production, etc in a risk matrix that is part of continuous improvement program across suppliers. The goal is to manage risk that could either end a company or end a successful economic chain of supply. In this respect, it combines least regrets and robustness, as a way to manage uncertainty and risk. An approach that would make the IPCC more manageable and more relevant, IMO.

  • JFP -I can see a ‘lukewarmers’ way’.It happens to match RPJr “least regrets” policy.

    Indeed, hence my confusion about RPJ’s position. It turns out it ain’t so simple, after all.

    … The goal is to manage risk…

    I’m not sure if this is still lukewarmism, as such, but one of my criticism of it (in its broad sense, not necessarily the one/s that have been advanced by Tom F, Lucia, RPJ, Breathrough, or the NewEnvs/Ecomodernists), is that it doesn’t seem to have reflected on ‘risk’ as a political concept, per Giddens/Beck, but critically. It still seems to take risk for granted or at face value.

    An example – http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/10914#.VWC14E9VhBc

  • Great post Ben. I don’t quite know what a lukewarm is, all I can describe is my own position which is that CO2 is a GHG, it has increased, and should, all other things being equal, increase the atmospheric temperature. Beyond that we have to make assumptions that warming will be universally bad for humans so we have to take action to mitigate CO2 output. Tamsin is always banging on about “uncertainties” but I’m not burdened with any uncertainty, I am absolutely certain that the models and scientists can’t tell us what the future climate will be like – good or bad. I am also absolutely certain that a species that can already live and survive in regions of the world from the Arctic circle will easily adapt to any changes over the timescales involved. On top of that I’m absolutely certain that in the hundreds of years these events will take to occur we will have advanced technology to an extent that will make adaptation a doddle. So I’m asking Tamsin, given these certainties, what makes you certain that something bad is going to happen?

  • Ben, From the linked reply: Environmentalism’s uncompromising demands that we accept lower living standards make green politics unpalatable.

    From your comment: It aint so simple. And “It still seems to take risk for granted or at face value.”

    It is not simple. It is a risk matrix that can be as simple or as complicated as is needed. The risk is not taken for granted as much as that risk is methodically examined. Keep in mind, give one person a piece of wood and a knife and you get a work of art, others, just kindling for a fire.

    I think for the Green’s it is their veiw that expectation of increased material advancement, generally, is a matter of “Polyannaism.” Though if you consider renewable energy, the only way it can possibly work out in the near future requires a very large expectation of continued improvements in material advancement.

    One of the real problems with the discussion is whatever path we take there will be expected improvements, and both the policy winners and losers will be engaged in counterfactuals. An example, pretend you are fifty years in the future after implementation of carbon controls. The climate has not increased temperature appreciably. At current state of science, for one to claim success of the policy means assumption not knowledge. This attribute of that we cannot conduct experiments with the atmosphere except one time poses real problems with our knowledge systems. It also means no matter where you are on that sliding scale of policy, you expect improvements, perhaps except for those who want to come back as a virus that essentially destroys humans.

    This problem infiltrates the moral systems that play the largest part of policy. After all, it matters not to science if we burn in Thermageddeon or not. The measurement of Thermageddeon or the “best of all possible worlds comes from using fossil fuels” would be a fact in a system that can be run once only.

    It is a person’s moral response to the risk they percieve as the most likely driving force. It cannot be the science of today. The best example of which comes from Dana and Dr. Mann where they take the science head on and fail. http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/04/12/1858631/sense-and-sensitivity-how-the-economist-got-it-wrong-on-warming/ where the authors state: “Yet they find that by including just an additional decade of data (i.e. using observations available through 2010), the estimate falls by nearly half, to 1.9°C.” If you go to their source and look at similar science “Figure from Knutti and Hegerl, Nature Geoscience 2008″, studies that use the instrumental period have estimates below 2C. An additional 10 years of little or no warming SHOULD decrease the estimated sensitivity. And note that 3.8C was not the IPCC’s estimate at this time. It was about 3C. The authors conveniently forget that the most likely range of instrumental period studies includes values as low as 1.3C.

    Dr. Kahan, http://www.culturalcognition.net/browse-papers/making-climate-science-communication-evidence-basedall-the-w.html has some excellent work on this aspect, IMO.

  • Hmm, I think I heard the term on climate audit first before 2008,
    however this post from Lucia
    http://rankexploits.com/musings/2008/lukewarmer-new-word/
    seems to indicate, that David Smith used that term at WUWT in 2008.

    The first use of the word lukewarm in the context of climate science might be by John Daly around 2000:
    http://www.john-daly.com/

  • Ah sorry, I stand corrected.. apparently in 1992 John Daly gave a good definition what “lukewarmism”
    is:
    http://www.john-daly.com/miniwarm.htm

  • I prefer the tag “fence sitter”. It recognizes the frailty of the fledgling state of climate science. We need at least 25 more years of observational research to nail down the natural variations. Then add another 5 years to rewrite the models and develop faster computers. See you in 30 years.

  • There is a quote somewhere, which I have lost: once you give something a name, you don’t have to argue with it. This is the tactic followed by Lewandowsky, Oreskes et al. By suggesting that there is a phenomenon of denial…

    Sorry I can’t furnish you with the source either, I think it must be your own coining :) I certainly think it is a very key observation in that form. It reminded me of an observation in a recent articler on the subject of identity politics that has similar resonances IMHO:

    The left often confuses changing language for changing the world and this is a case in point. It attempts to semantically disenfranchise those who have a different view, in the same way that Orwell’s Newspeak made certain thoughts impossible.

    I think the conclusion about this in the article is spot on:

    Except of course it doesn’t work. The public look on in bafflement at those saying ethnic minorities can’t be racist, or that someone writing ‘kill all white men’ isn’t racist. These silly semantic games have merely made anti-racism campaigners incomprehensible to the public and ghastly hypocrites to their political opponents.

    I think that this also holds for a lot of the responses from us climate train spotters to the likes of Lewandowsky et al attempts at narrative shape shaping. It gets too bogged down with taking them too seriously in niche areas of their own definitions to the point I think we risk missing that its takes only a few short steps away into the real world to understand most normal people who ever heard this narrative obsession would scratch their heads in bewilderment at the triviality of it.

    Of course the almost delicious thing in this case is that Lewandowsky et al’s trivially created academic work has the added bonus that it is not taking on deniers pathology but now defining working climate scientists as feeble minded idiots who are influenced by the most uninfluential people in the history of science!

    I mean, forget Galileo resolutely muttering “It still moves” under threat of torture from the Papal hegemony, Lewandowsky et al are now saying climate scientists are feebly say “It’s stopped” under the sway of niche blogs from the most dismissed and non-influential minority source in the history of science. ;)

    No wonder that in this case there actually has been some kick back from the targets of this peer reviewed ridicule from a few scientists who have allowed themselves the sanctity of being known for “engaging”.

    I suspect that may be the tip of the iceberg. ;)

    I think a better, meta, thing; more significant that the arguing about what is meant by the labeling of “Lukewarmer” is to see just who are the most labeling obsessive.

    I propose that so much alarmist climate advocacy has now been reduced to changing the narrative that it has become self defeating. And I think a lot of people maybe too close to getting annoyed by the annoying personalities doing it that they are missing that weakness. I think you can see this with the Seepage paper, “the narrative” can change back too easily. For example the Seepage paper now implies that no one seriously tended towards catastrophe before 2007, during the time of greatest increase of temp trends; so therefore by its new terms the mildest mention of “pause” in a paper today – without scare quotes – is by the weak definition of the paper a sign of seepage!

    E.g. you see this in its carefully calibrated sneer

    We are not aware of two special issues of Nature journals that were devoted to the spectre of “out-of-control catastrophic warming” based on the 15 (or 16) years leading up to 2007.

    No, Nature self evidently didn’t go that extra yard to make any OTT specials about catastrophe, but why should that “spectre” equate to the rather mild interest in a pause now?

    No reason is given the paper, and the paper doesn’t even make a comparative check of the literature pre-2007 – The paper is mockingly lazy because it seems know they can do that.

    The narrative is becoming so convoluted that the social science work done in its name becomes (even more) incoherent and I think will be essentially seen as laughable within its own feeble terms within a very short time.

  • Commenter Laws of Nature correctly recalls usage of the term “lukewarmer” at Climate Audit prior to 2008 – though by commenters, not by me. David Smith, whose use of the term was cited with interest by Lucia in 2008 (see http://rankexploits.com/musings/2008/lukewarmer-new-word/#comment-1874 ), had previously used the term from time to time in comments at Climate Audit, his earliest use being on August 23, 2006 http://climateaudit.org/2006/08/23/benders-plot-of-hurricane-count/#comment-61576. Then frequent CA commenter bender applied the term to describe his own position, but David Smith’s use was prior.

    Laws of Nature observes that John Daly had used the term “lukewarm” in a 1992 post, but I’m pretty sure that David Smith’s use of the term “lukewarmer” was independent. Plus the noun form is different.

    I think that David Smith can safely be described as the originator of the term in its recent use. His own definition was as follows:

    Also, I am a “lukewarmer” who thinks that the world is warmer than it would otherwise be due to anthropogenic gases (but doubts that the impact will be extreme)).

    As defined by Smith, the term was connected to climate sensitivity (defined as the response of global temperature to doubled CO2), but impacts were central to the concept.

    The use of the term in the pre-Lewandowsky world of 2006-8 seems to me to be strong evidence against Ben’s following claim:

    It seems that many lukewarmers are, after all, refugees from the green camp, displaced — or even expelled by the shrill rhetoric of so many Lewandowskys and Oreskes — by alarmism, but not really willing to ask why they are in exile.

    The term emerged from the somewhat self-contained discussion of climate blogs in those days and well before the post-Climategate emergence of Lewandowsky as an aspiring Torquemada of climate.

    2008/04/14

  • Steve, I’m not that interested in nomenclature in this way. As I point, out, if ECS (or anything) is the fundamental axis of the climate debate/wars/non-debate, then it has always been possible to assume a ‘lukewarm’ position. The numbers between a sceptical estimate of ECS and an alarmist estimate of the same existed before the word ‘lukewarm’ came to represent such a position.

    Far from being strong evidence against the claim that ‘many lukewarmers are refugees from the green camp’, then, the need to erect a flagpole in this ancient middle ground so many years into the debate would suggest exactly that.

    I’m glad that early, self-identifying lukewarmers were lukewarm about impacts as well as estimates of ECS. But if the one claim follows the other, then axiomatically, it follows that in the event that ECS is high, impact is high, and the lukewarm position is not so different, in a formal sense, to the ‘warmer’ position. Ditto the more sceptical positions which says that impact is negligible because sensitivity is very low misapprehends the climate debate — no, the climate wars — as a simple mistake, not about a constellation of claims about the material world, and society’s relationship with it, and itself. Neither the lukewarmer nor the sceptic (or even ‘denier’, for that matter), who rests his view of the debate on an estimate of ECS offers a different argument to the rank alarmist.

    Of course, someone might say ‘oh, but we want good science to produce the estimate of ECS’. which would be to miss the entire debate, its antecedents and its context.

  • Ben “”The numbers would obscure the argument, and in turn would prefigure the debate. This is, of course, the point of Consensus Enforcement that Ken Rice and his highly prolific associates engage in.”” and “But if the one claim follows the other, then axiomatically, it follows that in the event that ECS is high, impact is high, and the lukewarm position is not so different, in a formal sense, to the ‘warmer’ position.”

    True. The Consensus Enforcement are not after criminals, they are the Inquisition after heretics.

    This is why the claim that the IPCC Consensus Enforcement is more about religion than about science. The most probable range includes 1.3C; and up to 1.5C is considered good for most of the earth per IPCC AR4, then a policy such as Lomborg’s would be least regrets and an effective policy.

    They are policy police claiming to represent the science. Their claim, as applied is false. As you point out, Lomborg is not an anti-consensus advocate. His difference is policy.

  • Far too much time is spent dealing with noisy empty pots like ATTP.
    The more damaging are the likes of Tamsin Edwards who, no matter the facts, remains dedicated to alarmist extremist nonsense and hides it behind civil rhetoric.

  • Science threatens to intrude on the ECS issue; see Gray’s recent publication on the mechanism of cumulus clouds and their effect on Water Vapour at altitude: http://tropical.atmos.colostate.edu/Includes/Documents/Publications/gray2012.pdf . He maintains that rising air is wrung dry by the time it exits the clouds, and consequently has no IR blanket effect. The models all depend on that, and their failure is complete. The resulting ECS is about 0.3+/-0.1. Utterly fatal for any attempt to either blame or exploit CO2 as a control knob, luke-ly or otherwise.

  • “Rice bans alternative opinion from his own blog, but is a prolific commenter — so much so it’s hard to wonder how he gets any astronomy done — at popular blogs. ”

    Like Dr. Mann then. However, Ken’s employer is Edinburgh Uni, which is a registered charity. I guess Ken is just one of their charitable works…

  • Ben,

    What label is there for those who think that all 3 camps are like the blind men and the elephant? I suppose that all who are not alarmists or lukewarmers must be skeptics, but the skeptic label is overly broad.

    There should be a particular label for those who are convinced that none of the scientists involved in climate research has a clue, that there is so much that remains unknown that only a blithering idiot would pretend to make a prediction or even pretend to think that he knew what factors were important.

    The entire field would be improved considerably if everyone involved had the humility to embrace and recognize the vast expanse of their ignorance (individually and collectively).

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