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Discussion > Climate change sceptic or climate change cynic?

While the term 'cynic' might be associated with negativity by the public, the label 'Climate Change Cynic' does go a fair way to describing my attitude to policies promoted by those 'Climate Change Activists', purporting to be scientists, who promote their catastrophic man-made global warming agenda.

This agenda, if elevated above inquisitiveness and the search for truth, is contrary to how scientific work should be conducted. It has misled the public, generated needless fear in children, corrupted the science community and encouraged policies that have led to the 2008 Climate Change Act which is having an increasingly damaging affect on Britain.

Their misconduct is either intentionally acting improperly, given the information presented to them, or it may be unthinkingly following those who do. Whatever, intentional or not, it is malpractice.

Those with enough general knowledge about a specific problem to have the confidence to draw attention to the known unknowns are better placed to stop a catastrophe, but being a sceptic does mean sitting on the fence, even though some excellent work can be performed at this location!

We are now in a position to show that not only do still we have some known unknowns about the World's climate; we have plenty of known misleading statements from the Alarmists. In a professional environment they would be considered 'untruths'.

The agenda is moving from Global Warming, to Climate Change, to Global Climate Disruption, or what ever else is needed to keep the Global Warming academic infrastructure supplied with money.

We need to come off the fence, now that public opinion is more discerning.

Mar 23, 2013 at 12:28 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

When you've seen a few scares, it is not cynical to recognise another, is it? Although I would have to plead guilty and ask for several hundred other offences to be taken into consideration.

Mar 23, 2013 at 12:34 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

The cynicism of a Oxfordshire housewife is a fearsome thing to behold, as I learned in the pub in Oxford last year.

With my pedant's hat firmly on now, I'd much prefer Cynic to be used of Climate Politics or indeed Climate Gestures, like the appalling Earth Hour last night. Combine as you see fit. I thought Andy Scrase's testimony about the decline of gesture politics in Christchurch after the earthquakes was as good a supporting anecdote for such moral cynicism as one could hope for.

But memories of Rhoda, Jonathan Jones, Ben Pile and distinguished others in the pub in August also remind me of what I was thinking in the train on the way there: about what exactly I am sceptical about. I think sceptical is a good word for us. But what's the core thing I'm sceptical about? Or, to put it another way, what is it most reasonable to be sceptical about?

I decided that, first and foremost, I'm an Avertable Climate Disaster Sceptic.

I am also a Climate Disaster Sceptic. But that is not the height of my scepticism. Even if I came to believe in impending climate disaster, I would still doubt that the human race could avert it. We're not in that much control, we don't have enough knowledge or power or wisdom.

This goes back to where I stopped the conversation with Steven Mosher the other day. He suggested we needed to have a conversation about global governance. And I'm a massive sceptic about world government as well. It's all highly interrelated.

Mar 24, 2013 at 7:46 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Richard, are you sure you want your T-shirt to say "Avertable" and not "Avertible"? My fellow schoolboys would have chosen instinctively. Of course "Avoidable" would have averted the problem.

Mar 24, 2013 at 1:41 PM | Unregistered Commentersimon abingdon

A cynic is someone who's sceptical, and quite possibly dogmatically sceptical, about people's motivations.

There's ample reason to be sceptical about not only CAGW but also the motives of those advocating policies based on it.

Mar 26, 2013 at 2:29 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

...and there's ample reason to be sceptical about the reasons and motives of those opposing it.

Mar 26, 2013 at 4:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Care to elaborate on that?
Not disputing it necessarily but unless you can make your contributions a little less gnomic there is damn all point in treating them seriously.

Mar 26, 2013 at 5:02 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Mike Jackson, questioning people motives isn't very useful; it gets personal and nasty. But since Cosmic makes an assertion about my motives (he doesn't specify me directly, I am nobody, but I find it difficult not to feel included), I see no reason not to suggest an alternative. Is one more 'gnomic' than the other?

Mar 26, 2013 at 5:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

97% of sceptics are sceptics because of the lavish funding I provide them. I think this amply confirms Mr Bucket's first assertion.

Mar 26, 2013 at 5:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterBig Oil

Mr. O, my payment is late. About ten years late. Am I not sceptic enough? And don't forget a round of drinks and Range Rovers for the Oxford crew.

Mar 26, 2013 at 5:40 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

‘Climate Owls’ versus ‘Climate Roosters’?

A recently book by Richard Landes on millennial movements uses ‘apocalyptic roosters’ in contrast to ‘anti-apocalyptic owls’ to liven up (or ‘help conceptualize’ as he puts it) his analysis. The roosters are loud and pushy, the owls wise and reserved. But mostly roosters ‘dare not crow’ since ‘to do so would risk swift reaction: ridicule, retaliation, repression’. The owls on the other had can turn quite nasty when sufficiently provoked – but that is when they are the establishment, and the roosters not. The climate movement has a claim to being the establishment, and so their roosters are on the battlements while the owls are stuck in the woods and marshes beyond.

Landes looks at many apocalyptic movements, and notes of course that they have always been wrong. Which immediately made me think this: but the political agitator, the financial manipulator, the charity fundraiser and the evangelical recruiter might note that while all apocalyptic movements are wrong, some are useful, and carry on making hay in the promising environment CAGW has brought about for all of them.

Perhaps they feel secure about something that seems so incapable of disproof as an apocalyptic vision whose big whammy is perhaps 100 years or more away? Can they keep crowing and crowing while the owls make feeble hooting sounds in the distance? Or are doors to the castles being opened by sympathisers keen to get a better night’s sleep by embarrassing the roosters into silence? Or am I getting carried away by this analogy, as I fear does Landes in his book from time to time!?

[The book is 'Heaven on Earth; The Varieties of the Millennial Experience', Richard Landes, OUP, 2011]

The book, by the way, gives very little attention to CAGW. Landes calls it AGW, and generally seems more convinced by the AGW roosters than the sceptic owls! His main puzzle is over the contrast between the establishment’s acceptance of AGW but their refusal to take the threat of what he calls GJW sufficiently seriously. GJW is Global Jihadi Warming. How peculiar is that? Landes seems to see himself as something of a rooster on each, and my hunch is he is agonising over the fact that his ‘liberal’ chums in the academy are happy with being roosters for one but not the other.

Anyway, I am not convinced that roosters and owls are ideal as labels for players in the debate over climate, but they are fresher than alarmist and sceptic, and less offensive than eco-fascist and denier.

I think that cynic is worth a shot, but in 'apocalypse cynic' or 'catastrophe cynic' but not 'climate cynic' or 'climate change cynic' since I still have hope that climate studies will regain respect one day. If they do, they will do so in a changing climate.

Mar 26, 2013 at 6:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Have they always been wrong? What about CFCs?

Mar 26, 2013 at 8:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Mar 26, 2013 at 5:40 PM rhoda


I did not get where I am by needlessly throwing away money, notwithstanding the billions available to me in my sceptic-funding slush funds.

I regret that my records show that you are in the 3% who we refer to as ICCS's (Intrinsic Climate Change Sceptics).

This represents that category of people who by their contrary nature (or other personality defect) have always been dyed-in-the-wool sceptics, without the need for payment of viewpoint-adjusting disbursements. Accordingly no payments are due to you. However, as the head of MI5 used to say, "An agent motivated by idealism is immensely more dangerous than one motivated by avarice". I hope this thought will provide some solace as you struggle to find the wherewithal to pay your heating bill.

Mar 26, 2013 at 9:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterBig Oil

Y'all seem to think there is only financial motivation. This seems a little unimaginative.

Mar 27, 2013 at 1:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Mr Bucket,

There seems to be an unpleasant implication in what you say but, as usual, you avoid being explicit.

What other forms of 'motivation' are you insinuating that I employ to stimulate active climate scepticism? Please be explicit.

Mar 27, 2013 at 8:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterBig Oil

Most of what you say is gnomic and your most annoying trait — which is what marks you as probably being a troll — is your refusal seriously to engage.
I know that on occasion you make some worthwhile points which is why the rest of your input is so frustrating. Your 8.17 comment about CFCs is a case in point. Have you ever bothered to look at the background to the CFC scare?
Have you ever bothered to look at Booker's reason for taking on the asbestos-removal lobby, following your ignorant comment on the subject the other day?
The answer is patently 'no'. You simply regurgitate the "stands to reason" argument which only makes you perfect cannon fodder for any scaremonger that comes along.
And the end result is that while you look as if you are trying to be "clever" all that happens is you come across as silly!
Shame, really, because I think you are probably better than that.

Mar 27, 2013 at 9:46 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

What do you mean by refusal to engage? I've had many long discussions on varied subjects with many people here, including you - that is why I come back, because I enjoy such discussions. I don't change my mind very often, but neither to my correspondents. I also tease from time to time and maybe that is what upsets you. I have noticed a lack of any sense of humour here.

On CFCs I think the evidence was clear and I have not heard of great economic damage being caused by their phase-out. On Booker, a man who has written 42 articles on white asbestos, I'm amazed that the Telegraph retains him and that he has any readers. Since we were talking about motivation above, one has to wonder what is his motivation. Why would he be so prolific on a subject about which nobody cares? Does he write about the evils of air pollution in cities and how a switch to electric vehicles could help save thousands of lives a year? Perhaps, I don't read him. If not, why not? I guess the fact that he denies AGW and hates the BBC makes him your ally (my enemy's enemy is my friend, sort of), but you must have a very forgiving nature after all of his untruths. Other readers can refer to Richard Wilson's blog and search for Booker or Bridle (Booker's guru on asbestos).

Mar 27, 2013 at 1:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

I've used 'heretic' to refer to those who oppose the climate and CO2 apocalyptic faith in a couple of comments on BH today. Seemed appropriate enough.

Mar 27, 2013 at 5:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Seemed appropriate enough.

I don't agree.

You've got to be signed up to a religion before you can become a heretic.

I don't think pointing out that the whole thing is superstitious nonsense counts as heresy.

Mar 27, 2013 at 5:44 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Good point, Martin A. I guess I can only use the term for those who were once believers of the true faith of CAGW, but have determined a new line - a lukewarmer perhaps who was once a bona fide hysterical? But for those who never had the faith at all and still don't, I guess CAGW heathen would be a bit better but perhaps not perfect. Back to being cynical ...

Mar 27, 2013 at 5:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade


I'd go for CAGW atheist except that the word has acquired too much baggage - in the redneck states it's a term of abuse, to all intents and purposes.

"CAGW doubter" is too equivocal - it sounds as if you are almost, but not completely, convinced.

"CAGW ridiculer" would mean someone who not only thinks it's bollocks but ridicules it too.

Maybe this is one of those instances where the precise word does not exist in English. So maybe simply say "I'm someone who thinks the idea of CAGW is complete rubbish" or, perhaps better, "I'm someone who is convinced that the idea of CAGW is without any scientific basis".

Mar 27, 2013 at 8:47 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

"I'm someone who is convinced that the idea of CAGW is without any scientific basis"

Well, that's 'denier', pretty much. Embrace the intended insult, if that is your position.

Personally I can't say without any basis, obviously there is science there. Just not enough. Which leaves me at sceptic.

Mar 27, 2013 at 9:30 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

Another time, I'll ask you to point out the science that is obviously there. I haven't spotted it yet.

Mar 27, 2013 at 10:37 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A


A cynic is sceptical about people's motives and in particular is ready to explore the idea that they are base - to do with personal advantage, usually money - or that they have some other self-seeking agenda which they wish to advance under false colours because they couldn't be sold on their merits; people wouldn't understand.

Following the money, on the side promoting CAGW, we have governments sponsoring research to promote this view and all sorts of jobs depending on people believing it. Everything from local government climate change outreach officers, to DECC, to the IPCC. The Met Office has been transformed from a staid Civil Service department to a propaganda operation recently run by a leading light in the WWF. We have well heeled groups like the Grantham group hoping to get fatter on carbon trading and employing Bob Ward as a professional advocate, although I can't see why they believe this is a succesful hire. Hunreds of millions and the whole apparatus of states is being applied.

On the sceptic side I see a lot of engineers trained to make things that work within a budget, and a lot of people standing up and saying that on the evidence presented this is bollox and certainly no basis for far reaching policy decisions. I see no respect for scientism, unvalidated and unverifiable models treated as evidence, and worthies.

As far as the money goes Heartland, GWPF etc have maybe a couple of million a year each* , nothing compared with the sums expended on getting us to believe this stuff, but it goes a long way. I doubt that BH is giving up acountancy.

As for your place in this, I neither know nor care, and I certainly wouldn't single you out as someone hanging on the teat of what I see as a scam. I'd guess by your handle you are involved in software. Would you object to being called /dev/null?

If you want a really cynical view, all that coal oil and gas is not going to stay in the ground, the politics that say it should are tried and failed as in the USSR or refer to a sentimental version of the Middle Ages. We are about to see Darwinism in action. Climate Science isn't science at all. It's akin to reading chicken entrails, a sort of priestcraft.

* Unless you believe in Big Oil. Big Oil is not a lot of JR figures seeing their aim as fuelling gas guzzlers, it's Big Money and perfectly prepared to take advantage of this disgusting scam.

Mar 27, 2013 at 10:56 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

Cosmic, /dev/null sums me up well, but is perhaps a little gnomic for Mike Jackson. On engineers, in my experience they don't know diddly squat about natural sciences, so relying on them for anything but engineering is doubtful. On funding, you might be forgetting all those campaign contributions. Of course they don't buy votes or anything like that. But like I say, the footsoldiers here have other motivations beyond money. I have no reason to sully those motives, however much I might disagree with the ideas expressed.

I agree that the oil and gas will be dug up, until it becomes uneconomic. Grid parity is not so far off for solar in sunny places. Off-grid, solar is the future. And electrification of transport is a no-brainer for city traffic. Oil and gas are doomed in the west; they just don't know it yet.

Mar 27, 2013 at 11:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket