For Those Watching in Black and White

by | Jan 17, 2008

Climate Debate Daily is a shiny new site from the nice people who brought you Arts & Letters Daily. Dennis “A&L” Dutton, who is sceptical about the idea that the present warming trend is mostly anthropogenic, has got together with Douglas Campbell, a philosopher/biologist /computer scientist who isn’t. In their own words:

Climate Debate Daily is intended to deepen our understanding of disputes over climate change and the human contribution to it. The site links to scientific articles, news stories, economic studies, polemics, historical articles, PR releases, editorials, feature commentaries, and blog entries. The main column on the left includes arguments and evidence generally in support of the IPCC position on the reality of significant anthropogenic global warming. The right-hand column includes material skeptical of the IPCC position and the notion that anthropogenic global warming represents a genuine threat to humanity.

While we welcome such a high profile effort to promote discussion of climate change issues – and there’s certainly a lot of great material up on the site already – we are not entirely convinced about their binary, for-and-against approach to the subject. One of our main quibbles with the way the climate change debate is presented is precisely that the IPCC “consensus” belies a broad range of nuanced positions and arguments – both scientific and political – as does the so-called sceptic camp. Given Dutton and Campbell’s mission statement, one wonders in what column they’d put an article arguing, for example, that climate change is real and anthropogenic (à la IPCC WGI), but that efforts to mitigate are misguided (contrary to WGII and III). Time will no doubt tell.


  1. T. Greer

    You bring up a good point. I have always considered the third way you mention, that of Adaptation, the best option of the three.

  2. T. Greer

    A bit of follow up- You are absolutely right. Already the two tiered system has messed a few things up. Take for example, their classification of the article “Research tracks arctic warming’s correlation to ‘dirty snow.'” All the article says that if we cut down on soot emissions, we would slow down warming in the Arctic considerably. While this is an interesting proposition in itself, it is not a “dissenting voice.”

    Or consider their classification of Roger Pielke Sr. He is put solidly into the “skeptic” crowd- even though he believes in anthropogenic global warming. (He take the view that the IPCC exaggerates everything. But then again, he does not think that they are actually wrong about the science.)

  3. John A

    Interestingly in Stephen Schneider’s global cooling schlockfest “The Genesis Strategy” published in 1976, Schneider proposes dumping soot on the Arctic pack ice (which was then expanding) in order to get it to melt faster.

    Plus ca change…

  4. john a. bailo

    Yes, it leaves one very prominent position out of the debate entirely.

    That position would be Optimistic Climate.

    For myself, I believe that increased temperature and CO2 rises are entirely naturogenic.

    Furthermore, I believe that that temperature rise and other associated (but not necessarily correlated) changes are beneficial to mankind.

    And finally, I have put out predictions resulting from increased temperature that I believe to be more accurate than those of the IPCC, including:

    1) Increased arable land due to warming.

    2) Increased rainfail in desert areas such as the Southwest, Gobi and Sahara deserts (I am already monitoring some data on the southwest — NOAA — where certain daily percentages of rainfall are 300% to 500% above normal!). I see a great lowering of the seas — not a flood. I have been monitoring some tide data where it appears for the last few years there are more low tide anomalies than high tide anomolies.

    This leads us to the idea of “What to do” about it. Far from building climate shelters on moutains, we need to be standing around with baskets to scoop up all the manna that’s starting to rain on us!

  5. deadwood

    John has a good point about the benefits of naturogenic climate change.

    One thing I would like to see more of, say beyond the benefits of raising cattle in Greenland circa 900 AD, is a study of how humans have historically fared in warm and cold climates throughout our recorded history.

    A first order comparison of the Minoan, Roman and Medieval Warm periods for instance shows that during all three of these climatic optima human civilization has flourished.

    Conversely, the cold periods following each of these optima coincide with periods of mass migration, starvation, chaos, and plague.

    Then again, I suppose its far smarter for historians to keep quite. What with gorehounds on every campus maintaining the “consensus”.


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