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Leo Hickman on peace talks

Leo Hickman in the Guardian muses about the possibility of peace talks to end the climate wars. Yours truly is mentioned:

I admit that I sometimes find it hard to detect the signal from all the noise when observing climate sceptics, but the most positive contribution the more moderate climate sceptics (or "luke-warmers", as they are sometimes described) such as McIntyre and Andrew Montford have brought to the debate is their dogged insistence that climate science must be transparent, open, fair and free from influence. I don't think anyone could argue that this is not a worthy goal and, even if you disagree with their motivations, tone and methodologies, we will come to thank climate sceptics in years to come for forcing these obvious improvements. So, would a "meeting of the moderate minds" within this debate be productive?

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Reader Comments (233)

"I admit that I sometimes find it hard to detect the signal from all the noise when observing climate sceptics," Leo Hickman

"I admit that I sometimes find it hard to detect the signal from all the noise when observing data claiming to prove climate change", GC

Leo, if you are reading this, what convinces you?

Jun 21, 2011 at 4:48 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

So the sceptic side is all noise with a little bit of signal and the alarmist side is...

Well he doesn't say but its a fair assumption to say he believes the alarmist side is all signal with little or no noise.

Jun 21, 2011 at 4:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

... their dogged insistence that climate science must be transparent, open, fair and free from influence.

Once Steve and Andrew are being honoured for this (and quite rightly) by green journalists and activists the end of the battle isn't so far off. I felt that the moment I read Mark Lynas actually naming and praising Steve. Now, what are we all going to do with the IPCC and AR5?

Jun 21, 2011 at 5:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

"Even if you disagree with their motivations, tone and methodologies, we will come to thank climate sceptics in years to come".

I know he's trying to be eirenic but this makes my blood boil. Altruistic motivation, sober tone and rigorous methodology hardly characterises the pro-AGW side of the debate.

Jun 21, 2011 at 5:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

We have Mr Hickman carping about the signal-to-noise ratio on the skeptic side when, just to cover a sampling of the last week's haul, the alarmist side can't help producing fudged sea-level data, more of Hansen's geographically-nonsensical smoothing, and an endless parade of offensive tripe from the IPCC? Not to mention the comedic gems emerging from Mann's latest effort at science-by-press-release.

What we've seen from the 'consensus' side over the past year is that they've learned nothing and forgotten nothing. We've seen a few lone-wolf climate scientists voice a bit of discomfort over the quality of their industry's product, but the big players just keep trying to rumble along as if nothing's happened.

Mr Hickman, if you're serious about this, then you need to make the first move. Stand up and advocate abolition of the IPCC.

Jun 21, 2011 at 5:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

................ but who is winning the war?

A small group of sceptics have turned public opinion on the so called consensus surrounding CAGW.

Why should the sceptics accept peace talks when it is effectively beating the crap out of warmists.

Jun 21, 2011 at 5:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Shades of Lisbon. And that got a bit heated in the end, didn't it?

My own small experience - some of it in comments here - is that closed minds rule. The climate concerned seem absolutely unprepared to accept that (per Lucia) the actual observations show the multi-model mean running hot and that this has policy implications as well as scientific ones.

The 'sceptics' for the most part are actually dogmatists who will not examine the evidence and constantly attempt to delegitimise anything and everything that they don't 'like'.

The renewables industry is every bit as mendacious and manipulative as any other - including nuclear. The difference is that nuclear offers a policy solution to the problems posed by warming and renewables do not.

The climate orthodoxy has shot itself in the foot in various ways (Hockey Stick, 'hide the decline', glaciers, African agriculture, Pachauri generally etc etc) and the SRREN report is just another example.

Sceptics need to look again, and the other lot needs to stop exaggerating and stop pushing renewables as the 'solution'.

Otherwise we are all p***ing into the wind.

Jun 21, 2011 at 5:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Leo, if you read this, may I give one sceptic's perspective on the Climate Wars.

I see vast sums being deployed to combat the nonexistent threat of Global Warming. I see gigantic budgets funding research skewed in favour of alarmism. "Follow the money" is a growing theme amongst sceptics who see its corrupting influence.

From a UK perspective, our beauty spots are defiled by utterly ineffectual wind turbines; manufacturing industry bears an ever-heavier burden of rocketing energy tarifs - rocketing due to subsidies to green energy; well-heeled green-energy entrepreneurs are filling their boots whilst the poorest see their energy bills rise proportionally more than the middling or prosperous.

Government laughably states its intention of reducing our "carbon footprint" by 80%. Crrrrazy!

All this nonsense over a useful trace gas! I pray that the astrophysicists will soon give us chapter and verse on precisely how the sun regulates global temperatures. The hitherto gullible general public is gradually pouring scorn on this neoapocalyptic nonsense. Two severe winters in the next three (fingers crossed) should take us to the tipping point where the words "global warming" attract howls of derision, and the political advantage of warmism shrinks to nowt.

Sceptics consistently call for the Scientific Method to be deployed; the climatologists (I call 'em climatographers; they should be stripped of the 'ology') run a mile from "Popperian falsifiability". Who was it at UEA who said the classic keynote phrase: "Why should I share my data with you? You'll only try to find something wrong with it?"!

Jun 21, 2011 at 5:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

“…. even if you disagree with their motivations….” Perhaps I missed something, but what is there to disagree with in expecting science to be honest, open and rigorous?

Jun 21, 2011 at 5:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterFZM

Seems to me Hickman isn't proposing a middle ground. He's just saying if only we would listen to him like good little boys and girls we would realise he was right and we were wrong.

He doesn't want us asking awkward questions about cloud feedback or anything else in the CAGW canon that's built on shaky ground.

Jun 21, 2011 at 5:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterBuck

So their caused is an utter failure despite them using the most disgusting and underhand strategies they could think up.

And now they want a truce.

They deserve no mercy and no quarter. This twisted eco-loon agenda and its supporters must be ground into dust as a warning to any charlatans tempted to deceive future generations.

Jun 21, 2011 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterFergalR

What will Ahmadinejad say?

Jun 21, 2011 at 5:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

In principle this is fine. But these types of offers always seem to come with the requirement that you join the consensus.

Jun 21, 2011 at 5:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

agrees totally with BBD - neither the warmists nor the sceptics seem to want to look at the evidence that is presented and emerging.

Jun 21, 2011 at 5:37 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

I love peace offerings delivered with a back-handed slap. It makes for happy beginning....

"...even if you disagree with their motivations, tone and methodologies, we will come to thank climate sceptics in years to come for forcing these obvious improvements."

Jun 21, 2011 at 5:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterWillR


Agreed. The nose-holding tone doesn't help, does it?

Jun 21, 2011 at 5:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

I think it may mean he is coming to realise that he picked the wrong 'side'. Let us hope so. The Guardian writers are probably very influential on the BBC (or is it the other way round?), and hence this little 'pause for more thoughtfulness' may be a sign of at least a zephyr of change blowing in the right direction within leftwing circles. In my experience, those circles contain many delicate yet dogmatic souls, quick to take offence - so this overture needs to be handled carefully! But by whom? We are disparate individuals bemused by the IPCC behemoth, and dismayed by the intellectual fiasco of unjustified levels of alarm about CO2. Our 'signals' range from the deep analyses of Lindzen and others, the studious technical scholarship of the two Ms and many others, the penetrating observations and commentaries of the Bishop and others, through to, at the less sophisticated end of things, countless blogs such as my own one expressing amazement or horror at one feature or another we have come across as occasional spectators of this drama. A drama featuring the astonishing growth and impact of fearmongering based on computer models programmed to give CO2 a dramatic role in climate. A role with which Mother Nature has so far been very reluctant to comply.

Jun 21, 2011 at 5:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Until all those who have a political view leave the scientific debate (like Leo Hickman), there can be no hope of getting to the real science and rebuilding the reputation of Climate "Science". How can one have an open meeting with such closed minds:

"I admit that I sometimes find it hard to detect the signal from all the noise when observing climate sceptics" - disgraceful really

No mention of sceptics pointing out bad science - of course not!

Jun 21, 2011 at 5:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterCinBadTheSailor

diogenes -

Surely Steve McIntyre spends most of his time looking at and auditing "evidence".

Jun 21, 2011 at 5:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterJockdownsouth

As, of course, does the Bishop.

Jun 21, 2011 at 5:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterJockdownsouth

"...even if you disagree with their motivations, tone and methodologies..."

Has he seen the 10:10 video of people, (children), being blown up??

Jun 21, 2011 at 5:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterPatrick M.


What was said is that many on both sides need to reconsider their approaches. Your comment is an interesting example of one of the problems, isn't it?

Jun 21, 2011 at 5:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

What will Ahmadinejad say?

I'm sorry Maurizio, you've lost me there? Could you explain?

Jun 21, 2011 at 6:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Personally I wish people on my sceptical side would not use a number of (IMHO) fallacious arguments. That 'greenhouse effect' violates the second law, or that we only contribute 3% of CO2 so it is dwarfed by natural CO2. Or that it 'hasn't warmed since some year or other'. Every time you put up a duff argument some warmist will jump on it and use it to condemn all our arguments.. We need to contest in areas we are sure of. Models vs observations. Dishonest science. Dishonest advocacy. And uncertainty, I think we can be sure of that. And of all things, remember the hypothesis is theirs to prove, we do not have to agree among ourselves on any particular alternative theory. But the idea of debating it, on coming to some compromise agreement, that ain't gonna fly.

Jun 21, 2011 at 6:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda

Richard Drake asks "Now, what are we all going to do with the IPCC and AR5?"

I'd suggest get involved in the review process. Keep an eye on the IPCC website for how to get involved (details probably later this year I imagine).

BTW I agree with Leo on the need for a "peace process". The way that this has turned into an adversarial approach is not helpful to either "side".

However I would also argue that it is not really a case of 2 "sides" anyway, it is a very multi-faceted dialogue (Mark Lynas's recent intervention being a case in point). Although most readers of this blog would classify me as a "warmist" I don't agree with everything other "warmists" say - just as I imagine not all "sceptics" agree with each other either.

Jun 21, 2011 at 6:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Betts

Only when they organize the shindig in an expensive, exotic location, all paid for, including free drinks !

Jun 21, 2011 at 6:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterDirkH

days ago I was making fun of Hickman berating the gwpf for accepting an invite by American libertarians just as Mahmoud was coming out as a warmist

Jun 21, 2011 at 6:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito


Ahh. Thanks.

Jun 21, 2011 at 6:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD


Please elaborate with some evidence for these "duff arguments". What exactly is wrong with them ? I agree entirely about the dishonesty within the CAGW community including the scientific and statistical methods used.

Jun 21, 2011 at 6:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterMactheknife

Leo Hickman's comments on Lynas's posts suggested he was prepared to deviate from the "Jim Hansen is right about everything and any doubts about any line pushed by the consensus are evil" line. This confirms it. Irritatingly expressed in some ways, sure, but given we all manage to irritate each other here, that's not very surprising. I think if sceptics manage to convince him that an important role for him and other journalists is to try to see both sides of stories like the BBC's "The sea is now doomed" story or Michael M's PNAS paper about sea level, and not just take the truth of the "its worse than we thought" interpretation of such stories for granted, then that would be huge progress. Let's hope he hears some positive responses.

Jun 21, 2011 at 6:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Harvey


Do you think that the radiative physics of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses violates the Second Law?

Just curious.

Jun 21, 2011 at 6:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD


It is correct to say that there has been no clear warming trend in GATA since 1998. It's just unwise to read too much into this since we do not really know enough about how much energy is accumulating in the climate system (or perhaps radiating into space) and how it moves around within the climate system.

GISTEMP, HADCRUT, UAH, RSS. 1998 – present; common 1981 – 2010 baseline; trend.

Jun 21, 2011 at 6:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

I'll believe that he might have a kernel of an idea if and when he reopens 'Comment is Free' to sceptic views, rather than keeping all climate discussion at the grauniad firmly on the alarmist party line with excommunication for those who dare to differ.

I'm not holding my breath.

Jun 21, 2011 at 6:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

I have a better answer. .. since no observation of anything can invalidate AGW within our lifetimes, a good warmist should openly disdain observations unless they can be shown useful to improve climate models. (c) Gavin Schmidt 2008

ps yes the copyright bit is a joke

Jun 21, 2011 at 6:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

Oh I see. It is the sceptics that have the motivation, methodology and the tone problems.

Jun 21, 2011 at 6:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Just checked. I'm still in purgatory for unspecified 'crimes'. No surprises there......

Jun 21, 2011 at 6:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

The recent comments of Leo and Lynas tend to confirm what I've been saying for ages. There are of course charlatans and crooks pushing many aspects of CAGW but there are many, and many of the loudest, prolific and most dogmatic vioces, who are just honestly deluded, ignorant of the sceptical position and misled.

Leo is happy to agree with openness a) because he honestly thinks it's the right thing to do, and b) because he honestly believes that it will help prove that the alarmists were right all along.

Unbelievably to most knowlegable sceptics:
Yes, he is that naive.
Yes, he does know so little about the sceptical arguments.
Yes he does know that little about the fundamental scientific arguments.
Yes he is that blind to the mendacity of many of the promoters of CAGW.
Yes, he honestly believes that the IPCC is trying to present a balanced view.
Yes, he believes that Greenpeace, WWF et. al. are unbiased and whiter than white.
Yes, he believes that Big Oil is financing all the opponents of alarmism.
Yes, he believes that all the billions from governments and interest groups flowing into "the effects of Climate Change" have no effect on the results obtained.
Yes he believes that the trillions which are going to be blown on carbon reduction are worthwhile and the suffering caused by the consequences the lesser evil.
Yes, he is convinced that just because some sceptics don't share the same politics as him then they MUST be wrong on this subject.

I could go on.

Leo, along with Lynas, seems to think that the IPCCs conflicts of interest are a minor flaw which merely get in the way of the convincing us alll of the truth, as opposed to a standard operating proceedure necessary to bolster a lie which has become "too big to fail".

Leo thinks that climate science not being open about its methods is merely preventing the full blinding light of the truth from flooding forth. Leo should be careful what he wishes for. He really doesn't realise that the secrecy is essential to maintain the lie.

If the curtain is drawn aside and Leo sees what's not behind it I doubt that he will try to continue the lie because I don't think that he is a fundamentally dishonest man. I do believe that he will be horrified at the deception and his lack of journalistic curiosity in not having questioning it.

I do think that he should reflect, before it is too late, that someone who calls themselves a journalist shouldn't just pick a side because it appeals to them politically and psychologically and uncritically embrace it, decrying all others who do question.

Leo, if you are reading this, fuel and fuel costs in the UK are rising alarmingly - that is a real, immediate threat. In the last couple of cold winters people have died from hypothermia who would otherwise have lived. That's real peole dying NOW, not ifs, whens and maybes based on dodgy projections from vested interests. If fuel prices continue to rise due to subsidies for wind farms etc then that death rate will certainly increase.

Don't you owe it to your conscience to be REALLY sure? And that REALLY sure has to include a cool appraisal of the sceptical arguments from their source - not just a biased precis from realclimate etc.

If you are the fundamentally honest man I suspect you are then why don't you ask your questions on here or WUWT or Climate Audit? You may get a bit of flack occasionally but given the odure you have heaped on "deniers" for the last few years in a national newspaper, well tough you deserve it. For every justifiably snippy remark you get you will receive plenty of considered answers as long as you ask politely in a genuine spirit of inquiry, don't think you can just lecture us from your lofty perch, and realise that there are plenty of people on these sites who have a whole lot better understanding of science than you do.

You want to call yourself a journalist, do some investigating.

Jun 21, 2011 at 7:00 PM | Unregistered Commenterartwest

Latimer Alder
Agreed. The maxim "handsome is as handsome does" comes to mind along with other common phrases like "actions speak louder than words" and "talk is cheap".
What Hickman says is fair enough but what is he actually going to do about it?

Jun 21, 2011 at 7:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

'Let's be nice to each other',proposes Hickman - and then what?

I've come to resent deeply that any scientific paper dealing with any aspect of climate cannot be debated on its merits any longer, I resent that so many papers which could have been interesting are destroyed by the fanfares with which they first are announced as yet another 'proof' for AGW, which claim is not upheld when the paper is made accessible. I resent the fact that papers now have to kowtow and include at least once a phrase about how this doesn't deny climate change etc.

Further - if anyone still hasn't understood that it is an utter diversion to debate 'The Science', which keeps us from looking to who profits from this 'Climate War', then I suggest you scroll down and re-read Ben Pile's guest post.

If left-wing advocates of climate politics think we should stop and be nice - no way. It is indeed about our future: about the politics forced on us, not about the ever-changing climate of our planet.

And yes - I deeply resent how science has been abused as vehicle for political changes.

So no - I'm not playing nice with Hickman and co!

Jun 21, 2011 at 7:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

"climate science must be transparent, open, fair and free from influence. I don't think anyone could argue that this is not a worthy goal"

Well, no-one on the sceptic side would argue that this is not a worthy goal but the alarmists are another matter. Why is this worthy goal having to be persued so relentlessly? Because there are some that are doing everything in their power to prevent it.

Jun 21, 2011 at 7:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterStonyground


oh yeah you mean the "missing heat" - it is a travesty that we cannot find it.
Perhaps you should ask Keith Trenberth if he has found it yet? Perhaps he is too busy checking his Runes.

The only reason there is all this talk of peace & reconciliation is due to the various IPCC projections being exposed this decade as nothing more than drivel. Hopefully real scientist wills come and sort climate "science" out.

Jun 21, 2011 at 7:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterCinBadTheSailor

Latimer - skeptical comments at CiF are like cursing the Divinity at the Vatican. Not allowed, full stop. There's people out there convinced any expression of skepticism is "spamming" and any question of their belief "trollism". Let's be thankful they're not making us explode (yet).

Jun 21, 2011 at 7:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

They're desperate and finally entering the negotiation phase. This is the bit where us skeptics are going to meet them half way and agree that 1 = 2 makes scientific sense after all ...

Of course, if we do, they'll unwind all those policy initatives and all the financing of lunatic environmental policies will be withdrawn. Yeah ...


Jun 21, 2011 at 7:15 PM | Unregistered Commenterpointman

"So, would a "meeting of the moderate minds" within this debate be productive?"

Nope. We only need to wait and the cooling climate will eliminate the warmist greens as we turn off their electricity. Due to their crassly stupid programme of constructing ***ing windmills, there will not be enough power to go around & so, the bastards can freeze. Punish them where they sinned against humanity. Set them out on the ice to feed their beloved poley bears.

Jun 21, 2011 at 7:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterPerry

Denial, anger, depression, NEGOTIATION and acceptance.

People won't negotiate if they are winning...

Jun 21, 2011 at 7:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterMichael Larkin

As I mentioned in the earlier Craig Good thread, there are clear-cut reasons for why this line of reasoning is being resorted to. I'll try to do a post shortly.

Consider the unimaginativeness of Mr Hickman's post. Leo Hickman, the beauty paegant queen wants us to agree to the following list. Who would be against any of these eh Mr Hickman?

* unimpeachable, transparent, uncorrupted science
* Energy security
* "Clean" energy (if CO2 is not your concern, then surely reducing localised air pollution is a valid goal?)
* Halting deforestation
* Halting biodiversity loss
* Conserving marine habitats
* Avoiding economic instability
* Protecting the poor and vulnerable
* Ensuring global food supplies

Hickman also confides:

... but I admit that I do still instinctively like to apply the precautionary principle wherever possible

So why don't you apply the precautionary principle to this situation too, Mr Hickman? You see, for all you know, the deniers might just be pretending to be all for scientific openness, data availability and honesty in science, completely dishonestly and they might just unfurl their true agenda once you've conciliated with them and climbed into bed? Better go back to the safety of vilifying one's opponents, eh?

Jun 21, 2011 at 7:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub


The 'missing energy' problem is very interesting. None of the suggested explanations is convincing (eg deep ocean warming; more stratospheric sulphate aerosols that was supposed). But again, one has to be careful. Trenberth was pointing to the lack of knowledge about what is happening at TOA and in the abyssal deeps rather than suggesting that climatology as a whole was a 'travesty'.

However, certain papers do spring to mind when the T-word is mentioned. Someone called Andrew Montford wrote a very good book about them ;-)

Jun 21, 2011 at 7:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Machiavelli doesn't enjoy a good reputation but his masterwork "The Prince", is full of wisdom for the ages. He said, if you must go to war then you must destroy your enemy completely. If you don't, you're doomed to fight the same war again. We ignored that advice in WW 1 and ended up fighting it again within 20 years. We ignored that advice in Gulf War 1 and ended up fighting Gulf War 2.

Let's not screw this one up.


Jun 21, 2011 at 7:29 PM | Unregistered Commenterpointman


Keith Trenberth wrote "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't.". BBD I shall leave you to make your own judgement as to Keith Trenbreth's meaning.

Any real scientist would have questioned his/her fundamental assumptions if observations were deviating from predictions. The ability to ignore facts and rely on your beliefs is not science.

The real travesty is that some in climate "science" have severely damaged the reputation of science. We will all pay the ferryman for that corruption..

Jun 21, 2011 at 7:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterCinBadTheSailor


Trenberth provided a more formal explanation for what he said in the famous email:

Existing observing systems can measure all the required quantities, but it nevertheless
remains a challenge to obtain closure of the energy budget. This inability to properly track energy—due to either inadequate measurement accuracy or inadequate data processing—has implications for understanding and predicting future climate.

Read the rest here.

Jun 21, 2011 at 7:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

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