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Discussion > Is this what winning is like?

Apropos of something from the Montague post, does what we do make any difference? Individually or as a group, just blog followers or the whole quaking might of the sceptical movement?

A couple of days ago I gave some thought to getting some funding. Maybe so the Oxford gang could rent a room, get a speaker, afford mushy peas with our fish and chips, that sort of thing. I didn't know who to ask, I don't know where Exxon HQ is and the local petrol station didn't seem inclined to help. I thought of the mighty GWPF, or the Koch brothers or Heartland. Surely one or other of them might consider coughing up a few bucks for cause? After all secret billionaires are funding 102 secret right-wing anti-science groups, apparently. Wouldn't they fund me?

But then I thought, no. I'd just add to the list of 103 groups. The funding, which I could not deny, would be used as an example of evil in action. Monbiot, Glieck, Lewandowsky and the rest would be able to point to poor little Rhoda's few bucks as an illustration that they'd been right all the time. The carbon impact of those mushy peas would be flaunted all over climate-land.

And I thought, the GWPF isn't having any effect. Heartland is only known for being evil, not for its impact on the arguments? We are indeed winning, but what we are doing has pretty much nothing to do with it. Not just me, I only post here, but Ben and Barry and the Bish, Mcintyre, Lindzen, anybody you care to name. Making a little splash in a very small pond, managing the odd mosquito bite on the rhinoceros hide of the enemy, but largely unknown in the broad scheme of things.

We are winning because the CAGW cause is collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions. Coming off worst in the collision with reality. It's taking too long, of course, but we all have not much to do with it.

Which means that doesn't matter whether you are a sceptic, lukewarmer, denier, donryu or toryu (japanese, look them up) or whatever. You are a winner. But only we will ever know.

Feb 20, 2013 at 3:55 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

You stole my tagline :)

I agree completely rhoda, we haven't won, it's just that we occupy the truthful ground, and they are having to come towards us as nature brings them back. They will say that "this is science in action" and we were skeptical for ideological reasons, and they are now realistic for sound scientific ones, etc etc.

I don't care, as long as sanity returns.

Feb 20, 2013 at 3:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames


Sad to see you dispirited :(
When you look at the actions of our government (if one can call it a government) then we are losing. Despite most of the world ignoring and/or signing out of Kyoto, the UK presses on with carbon reduction, renewable energy, wringing the neck of shale gas at birth etc etc.
However sceptic blogs are the only blogs that get read and even the Alarmists read them, there is a victory in there somewhere ^.^

Feb 20, 2013 at 4:04 PM | Registered CommenterDung

I’ve asked warmists similar questions – what would success look like?

For sceptics, we are almost guaranteed a win in the long run because who in their right mind is going to roll back the Industrial Revolution without considerably more proof of catastrophe than AGW science has been able to muster? I’d expect to see climate engineering/tampering before I see serious reductions in CO2. A viable new energy source is a win for us too because no sceptic I know gives a damn about fossil fuels per se.

The key phrase is ‘in the long run’. How much money will be frittered on vanity projects like wind power or ActOn CO2? Will the UK be broke before pseudo philanthopists like Cameron stop playing Lord Bountiful with our cash? Those eejits don’t even know what a low carbon economy would look like. I’m sure they don’t have 1850 in mind when they talk about it or somewhere like Ethiopia. I think their vision is of something like the Good Life but with more lattes and better clothes. But for many, I think they imagine the future just like now but without CO2. There’s no clear idea how the CO2 will be removed but they’re sure that if Exxon and the Koch brothers stopped opposing AGW then someone (presumably a sceptic) would come up with the solution.

Feb 20, 2013 at 4:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

So are we making a difference?

I think yes. We know we must be having some effect because the warmists are obsessed with us.

It’s important to keep the notion alive that there is opposition to CAGW theory. It triggers the thought ‘what do they see?’ The weight of numbers of sceptics must give pause for thought. The enthusiasm in the face of government, media and institutional opposition counts for something. Politicians scale up numbers of grass roots supporters and apply them to the national population, which is why a few eager green nutters have a disproportionate affect on policy. Normally the silent majority stay silent and don’t get a vote. Sooner or later, key people might take the time to examine our case.

We have the advantage of being a jolly lot, though we’re far more argumentative than warmists. It’s a rare discovery to find a green disciple either disagreeing with the site line or cracking a joke. It does demonstrate honesty, though it also makes us difficult to understand.

As the temperatures continue to plateau, politicians are going to start looking for answers. We can’t know how many times a sceptic post is read by someone important or sent as a link to someone new to scepticism. If you’re not a regular sceptic poster, it’s hard to argue the sceptic case but if that person can wave at a good article and say ‘see, that’s what I’m talking about’.

What would be very intriguing is if a little group of sceptics could get an audience with a/some politicians. I suppose GWPF already does it, but it would be good coming from a non political group.

If you're looking for money, there's probably cash available for AGW groups. Promoting AGW awareness could cover what we do ;-)

Feb 20, 2013 at 5:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2


Even though the government still seems to be going hell-for-leather on this, I think and hope it's because politicians are always about 5 years behind the cutting face of reality. They only operate on the electoral cycle of 4-5 years. This means even when the science comes good, we'll still get the stupid legislation for a while.

I think what might be a wake-up call for them is when we start suffering power outages, so the sooner the better for me. Once the masses can't watch Strictly or charge their iPads then politicians will soon learn what ideology means ;)

Feb 20, 2013 at 5:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

O/T I'm a bit of a fan of the Hiryu and Soryu (along with Flying and Fortunate Cranes) myself.

However winning is a difficult thing to define in this case. Things usually take a long and convoluted route to their final conclusion. I think that people will gradually forget about "Climate Change" and in a century or two only trivia buffs and historians will know about it. Just like the Tulip/South Sea/Rhodium (thought you might like this one)/Mississippi/uranium/Poseidon all previous financial bubbles. Green energy and Carbon Tax is just another financial bubble and that will probably be the main cause of its demise rather than scientific proof. Scientific proof being a misnomer as theories are only good as long as they haven't been disproved.

Feb 20, 2013 at 5:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Rhoda, I agree wholeheartedly, the only people who believe sceptics are having any real affect are the warmists. I woke up to this whole thing just after I'd retired to find a warmist army in the field that had been there for many yeare, that occupied every hight point, had infiltrated every National Association of Sciences, had managed to label anyone who didn't agree with them as "flat earthers" or slightly less charmingly "holocaust deniers". And yet, and yet, they couldn't strike the final blow to give them ultimate victory.

The reason for this is, of course, what they see as the ultimate victory. For the environmentalists, who are the main driving force of this, it is control of every aspect of our lives. What we eat, where we travel, how much energy we are allowed to use, where we can live etc. Now that is a tall order for victory, and keeps bumping up against reality, which, as I've said before, environmentalists wouldn't recognise if it came up to them dressed and Ronald Macdonald and bit them on the arse.

With such an ambitious goal for victory their appetite will never be satisfied with laws like the Climate Change Act, destructive as it is, because it doesn't give them the power they see as ultimate victory.

Richard Betts once asked us what he could take to a conference on "communicating climate science" (aka "persuading everyone you're right) and I asked him to ask the conference this very question. "What would victory look like?"

I have just had a small exchange on this from a sceptical point of view with a number of people over on the attribution thread, where some people thought that punishing the guilty was part of victory. While I'm sympathetic to that view, victory for me would be the abandonment of destructive legislation like the Climate Change Act, and the realisation among politicians that they've been duped by a small minority of politicial activists. Victory doesn't involve the politicians admitting this, they won't.

So, in short, we are having little, or no, effect because no one in power is listening to us. The alarmists don't think they're winning because the politicians aren't going far enough for them. The politicians have either bought into the whole global warming enchalada, or are keeping quiet about it, but are faced with practical realities that might see the electorate turn on them and are trying to tread a fine line between the two.

Of course, I could add that the probabiltiy of the alarmists getting ultimate victory depends on China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico and a whole host of other emerging economies drawing back from using cheap energy to bring their people out of poverty. It's possible they may, but at the time of writing they, the emerging economies, don't seem to have read the memo.

Feb 20, 2013 at 9:54 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

germino, excellent post.

Some want a climate Nuremburg, and believe me I understand the desire, but we have to be more realistic about how this is going to play out. People's minds will change on this silently. There will be no massive public U-turn by any of the major players. It will just erode away, and the stubborn bit players will just be sidelined.

Feb 21, 2013 at 8:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Rhoda: “Does what we do make any difference?”
Well, it keeps us cheerful, as TinyCO2 notes, and group therapy is not to be sneezed at.
I’m always glad to see a bit of self-doubt expressed, because one of my criticisms of BHers is a tendency to a kind of naive scientism, which imagines that being right about the science will automatically lead to victory. Indeed, Rhoda expresses this sentiment when she says: “the CAGW cause is collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions”.
There’s a failure to appreciate the differences of scale between “our” victories and defeats and what is needed in the real world. TinyCO2 says “warmists are obsessed with us” and Dung says “sceptic blogs are the only blogs that get read”. We’re talking about 0.1% of the population here - nothing that will have the slightest effect politically. (Well, it will, because within that 0.1% of the population there are all the environmental journalists and 97% of climate scientists. We may well be a numerical majority within the 0.1%, but what use is that?)
Our weakness comes partly from the political profile of the sceptic movement. While I fully understand why scepticism has taken off among conservative libertarians, it has to break out into the wider social political sphere if it’s not to remain a fringe opinion. Breaking out means getting discussed on Radio 4 and by mainstream politicians. This is difficult when so many sceptics express contempt for mainstream politics and want to abolish the BBC.
On “Unthreaded” Brownedoff was lamenting the passing of the Central Electricity Generating Board. There’s a dawning awareness among sceptics that it’s going to take some hefty central planning to correct current energy policies. But who will do it? Not the traditional left, which has the greatest reason socially and historically to favour government intervention. Not while they’re obsessed with green jobs and gender politics. Who is brave enough in the trade union movement to point out that transexual refuse collectors won’t solve our problems?
The idea that we’re bound to win “in the long run” as climate change gradually fades away into obscurity is in fact profoundly pessimistic. Imagine Europe continuing at zero growth for the next 20 years, while China, Brazil, India etc. forge ahead at 5% p.a. This world will be unrecognisable.

Feb 21, 2013 at 8:54 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

The idea that we’re bound to win “in the long run” as climate change gradually fades away into obscurity is in fact profoundly pessimistic.

And I thought that was me being optimistic! :)

Feb 21, 2013 at 8:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

It'll be over when I can once again buy 100W tungsten lamp bulbs in B&Q.

Some want a climate Nuremburg, and believe me I understand the desire, but we have to be more realistic about how this is going to play out. (...)
Feb 21, 2013 at 8:20 AM TheBigYinJames

Yes, I would love to see the guilty doing time. But, to be realistic, it's probably better to think along the lines of a Truth And Reconciliation Commission with power to grant amnesty, wiping the slate clean and putting on record how it all happened.

Feb 21, 2013 at 9:27 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I do not think that we are winning - we are simply being ignored. If we were winning we would have 100,000 signatures on the epetition to repeal the Climate Change Act, and a debate in Parliament.
How many have we got? - less than a thousand, at the second attempt (the first try got 1530 after a whole year).

Feb 21, 2013 at 9:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

I think even that is optimistic Martin. Perhaps a comission in 20 years time when most of the players are dead or retired is possible. The best we can hope for in the next 5-10 years is the gradual abandonment of the constant polemic, followed by the policies.

Feb 21, 2013 at 9:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

I think we all see WE are not winning, as in our efforts bringing it about. But some of our objectives seem closer now than they did, say 5 years ago.

Feb 21, 2013 at 9:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Here we are fantasising about Nuremberg v. Truth and Reconciliation and we haven’t even got the kernel of an organisation yet, let alone won the war! How many turned up to the Oxford pub meeting?
I’m not criticising, really. Marxism started with about eleven members of the Working Men’s Association. Anything’s possible. But while the west is faffing about with green policies, countries we used to regard as “backward” will be forging ahead and setting not only the economic agenda, but everything else that follows politically and culturally.
It’s frequently said that a bit of treading water on the part of Western economies won’t matter, since we’re so far ahead culturally because of our universities, free press, and democratic traditions. But this is precisely where the green rot is most firmly established.
Thinking of the big institutions pushing the consensus on CAGW - (NASA, the IPCC, the BBC, the Royal Society are the ones that come immediately to mind). In each case there’s a been a whistleblower, an internal revolt, or a scandal of some kind over the past few years concerning official policy on CAGW. In no case has it had the slightest effect. Persuading opinion makers one by one isn’t going to work.

I think you can still buy blue daylight tungsten bulbs from art shops, for work purposes only. They’re more expensive than the old kind, but they last longer.

Feb 21, 2013 at 10:06 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

"I think what might be a wake-up call for them is when we start suffering power outages, so the sooner the better for me. Once the masses can't watch Strictly or charge their iPads then politicians will soon learn what ideology means ;)"

The 3 day week finished Heath. Not even Cameron is stupid enough to switch off Drax.

Feb 21, 2013 at 10:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

I fear the problems the CAGW movement is experiencing are only due to the fact that the temperature is currently failing to support their argument as far as the general public are concerned.
When it starts to rise again (hopefully, as the alternative is another ice age), the concept that such rise is natural and normal is too complicated for the public to grasp.

What constitutes winning is another question. The object of the CAGW thing is not to save the planet, it is to convert the world to a particular political system. The proponents of that system will not give up merely because one of their pretexts is destroyed, this is only the latest one.

A few years ago when the CAGW furore was at its height they thought they had won that round and started to promote the next steps, universal vegetarianism and communal living, very publically. That has gone very quiet as they realised it was too far, too soon.

Feb 21, 2013 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterNW

I can't subscribe to that conspiracy theory NW, but you're welcome to it.

I believe there is no conspiracy for AGW, it has just been useful by lots of different interests:

1. Govts see it as a way to tax while appearing to save the planet
2. Some politicians see it as a bed-feathering exercise, e.g. owning green companies
3. Media see it as an unending stream of scary stories to sell their copy
4. Environmentalists see it as a way to promote their misanthropic views
5. Scientists see it as a way to get a steady stream of grant money and status
6. Idiots have a bandwagon to jump on with a proper scary bogeyman (big oil)
7. Economic strategists use it to limit Arab oil power and Chinese manufaturing
8. Atheists see it as a way to bash the Bible-based earth-ownership paradigm

They're not working together, each one is taking what they want from it.

Feb 21, 2013 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

TBYJ, I think you should include poitical theorists who use CAGW or any scare as a way to impose central plannig and internationalize politics, probably thinking that a world government would be better for us. Only in things that matter, maximum local freedom of course, no threat there, no tyranny involved.

But you are right in that there is no conspiracy only a confluence of interests. In which pointing at conspiracy theorists is interest number one in terms of cover for the activities of the cohort of non-conspirators.

Feb 21, 2013 at 10:58 AM | Registered Commenterrhoda

Yes, I'm not sure sure they even represent a single block - similar aims perhaps but different motives:

1. Greens who want to restrict industry and consumption = centralized control
2. European centralists who want a European State = centralized control
3. Atheist/Scientific bloc who follow the Clarke/Asimov ideal of single World Power = centralized control
4. Club of Rome? May include all of the above.

Apart from the last one, I don't buy into the conspiracy theory that they all work together, but may have the same goals and cooperate and cite each other as evidence.

Feb 21, 2013 at 12:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

That’s lot of enemy and I agree, they are separate but find AGW a useful tool. You can also add religions, as global warming resonates with the wrath of God, sin and you’ll be doomed, embrace poverty concepts. And developing countries luurve it because it says that they’ve been grumbling about, that developed countries (esp US) are evil and have ruined their lives. For them it’s pay back time.

So when you add it all up, how successful would you expect to be?

Unfortunately the sort of person who is opposed to CAGW theory is somebody with a lot of responsibilities and little time or enthusiasm left for campaigning. It doesn’t mean they’re not out there.

Feb 21, 2013 at 1:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Partick Moore explained that he left Greenpeace because it had been taken over by political activists.

I started to look into CAGW when the anti roads crowd adopted it as the reason for their agenda after their congestion arguments failed (their predictions of ever increasing car ownership foundered on the rock of a basically finite population). The reasons change but the agenda stays the same.

The giveaway is when you ask alarmists what their vision of the future actually is. The answers are startlingly similar and involve communal living, public transport, public ownership.

Feb 21, 2013 at 2:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

Playing devil's advocate.. if this is what many or most people want (or tacitly agree to by not informing themselves and simply going along with the meme) then is it US who are being awkward?

If that's what they all, and it's only a minority of us who thin otherwise, shouldn't they get their way?

Feb 21, 2013 at 2:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Most people haven’t thought about it one way or the other. Most, including nearly all politicians assume that a new technology is out there and with a bit of enthusiasm the CO2 will vanish. They don’t see their lives changing at all. Putting a bit less water in their kettle seems to be about the limit of co-operation.

While I can’t say that AGW won’t be catastrophic I can say that nothing we are doing, or can imagine doing, will make a significant difference to CO2 levels. The UK is an excellent test case. 10-20 years of effort and our footprint has gone up when imports are factored. FAIL! It would need a radical burst of technology or a reprogramming of society to change that.

This disconnect between reality and their ideals is why everyone blames oil companies. They've taken their resentment of high oil prices and huge company profits and linked them to CO2 emissions. Forgetting that it is ultimately the public that used the oil and by making it expensive the oil companies were doing us all a 'favour' because it made us use it less. Gee thanks guys /sarc.

Feb 21, 2013 at 2:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2