Last Gasp of the Old Debate Template

Rolling Stone (and here)  manages to write over 5000 words on those opposed to climate alarmism without once acknowledging that any skeptic might have well-intentioned disagreement with the science itself.  Without once addressing a single scientific issue in the debate, the article dismisses the need to do so by painting every skeptic of every stripe as shills for the oil and coal industry.    All the while ignoring identical rent-seeking, financial incentives, and enormous political and propaganda spending in the alarmist community.

This is such a stale and unhelpful way to address climate issues that I am relieved that 2009 may mark the year when this form of argument no longer had much power — which is why I have, perhaps over-optimistically, labeled this the last gasp of the old climate debate template.

By the way, I would like to again remind the skeptic community not to fall into the same trap.  Yes, I know it is good turn-about fun to demonstrate that skeptic spending pales before alarmist spending, or to talk about the billions of dollars Al Gore and others have on the line with their alarmism.  But while these are useful issues to point out in passing, the opportunity is available to actually force debates on the actual state of the science, and I would hate to squander it in dueling ad hominem battles.

  • stan

    I think it far more profitable (from the standpoint of persuasion) to point out the widespread examples of gross incompetence in the supposed science upon which alarmists rely. You don’t have to understand physics to know that instruments should be sited properly and calibrated regularly. You don’t have to know advanced math or statistics to know that amateurs screwing up homemade software code is a problem. Or that checking each others’ work is an important part of the scientific method. Even a high school dropout knows that when “experts” from accountability they are hiding something.

  • Ike

    I agree totally, Warren. Allow me to add a pair of other cautions:

    1) Do not confuse weather with climate. Yes, the United States is gripped by cold. It is proof of nothing.

    2) Don’t debate Al Gore. At best, he’s a straw man for alarmists, and doesn’t represent the majority of their views. At worst, you’re engaging in a battle where facts never mattered, and notoriety does. You’ll never beat him in a popularity contest, so don’t even invoke him.

    2a) Don’t debate Ed Begley Jr., either. He’s not a climate scientist, he’s just a mouthpiece for their talking points.

  • John

    A picture paints (5) thousand words:

    http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/gallery/?2010007-0107/GreatBritain.A2010007.1150.1km.jpg

    Greetings from the UK. Where it is very not warming up at all.

  • Fred

    But also remember that most people consider an unanswered charge a proven charge. If you are told that I’m a shill of Big Oil and I answer back, “but their science is wrong,” the public comes away with the belief “of course a shill of Big Oil would say something like that, now won’t he?”

  • TDK

    I got to say I tend to agree with Fred. There is room for all arguments and skeptics ought to engage on all fronts.

    My view is that for AGW, the politics clearly precedes the science. Unless you tackle the politics, you cannot tackle the science. The reason that AGW gains so much traction in the media is that the “cause” is seen as good – who doesn’t care for the environment. Therefore to oppose the cause is to oppose the environment. The science is therefore never questioned because to do so is to risk being labelled wicked. Unless this link is broken the debate over the science is always going to be secondary.

    That isn’t to say that arguing about the science isn’t necessary but the average person doesn’t understand the competing claims over the science and consequently is persuaded by arguments like the “consensus”.

    http://www.climate-resistance.org/ is a blog that shares this view and argues only about the philosophical and political issues.

    http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/ has been important recently because of the focus on the extra curricula activities of Pauchauri and how lucrative they seem to be. This is not an ad hominem argument. The facts of conflicting interests are either true or false. If the process is corrupt, the science must stand on its own merits rather be shielded by “good intentions”.

  • TDK

    I got to say I tend to agree with Fred. There is room for all arguments and skeptics ought to engage on all fronts.

    My view is that for AGW, the politics clearly precedes the science. Unless you tackle the politics, you cannot tackle the science. The reason that AGW gains so much traction in the media is that the “cause” is seen as good – who doesn’t care for the environment. Therefore to oppose the cause is to oppose the environment. The science is therefore never questioned because to do so is to risk being labelled wicked. Unless this link is broken the debate over the science is always going to be secondary.

    That isn’t to say that arguing about the science isn’t necessary but the average person doesn’t understand the competing claims over the science and consequently is persuaded by arguments like the “consensus”.

    http://www.climate-resistance.org/ is a blog that shares this view and argues only about the philosophical and political issues.

    http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/ has been important recently because of the focus on the extra curricula activities of Pauchauri and how lucrative they seem to be. This is not an ad hominem argument. The facts of conflicting interests are either true or false. If the process is corrupt, the science must stand on its own merits rather be shielded by “good intentions”.

  • hunter
  • TDK

    I’ve got to say I tend to agree with Fred. There is room for all arguments and skeptics ought to engage on all fronts.

    My view is that for AGW, the politics clearly precedes the science. Unless you tackle the politics, you cannot tackle the science. The reason that AGW gains so much traction in the media is that the “cause” is seen as good – who doesn’t care for the environment. Therefore to oppose the cause is to oppose the environment. The science is therefore never questioned because to do so is to risk being labelled wicked. Unless this link is broken the debate over the science is always going to be secondary.

    That isn’t to say that arguing about the science isn’t necessary but the average person doesn’t understand the competing claims over the science and consequently is persuaded by arguments like the “consensus”.

    http://www.climate-resistance.org/ is a blog that shares this view and argues only about the philosophical and political issues.

    http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/ has been important recently because of the focus on the extra curricula activities of Pauchauri and how lucrative they seem to be. This is not an ad hominem argument. The facts of conflicting interests are either true or false. If the process is corrupt, the science must stand on its own merits rather be shielded by “good intentions”.

  • TDK

    I’ve got to say I tend to agree with Fred. If you don’t engage non scientific arguments you lose th by default. In any case, there is room for all arguments and skeptics ought to engage on all fronts.

    My view is that for AGW, the politics clearly precedes the science. Unless you tackle the politics, you cannot tackle the science. The reason that AGW gains so much traction in the media is that the “cause” is seen as good – who doesn’t care for the environment. Therefore to oppose the cause is to oppose the environment. The science is therefore never questioned because to do so is to risk being labelled wicked. Unless this link is broken the debate over the science is always going to be secondary.

    That isn’t to say that arguing about the science isn’t necessary but the average person doesn’t understand the competing claims over the science and consequently is persuaded by arguments like the “consensus”.

    http://www.climate-resistance.org/ is a blog that shares this view and argues only about the philosophical and political issues.

    http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/ has been important recently because of the focus on the extra curricula activities of Pauchauri and how lucrative they seem to be. This is not an ad hominem argument. The facts of conflicting interests are either true or false. If the process is corrupt, the science must stand on its own merits rather be shielded by “good intentions”.

  • ruralcounsel

    Rolling Stone?

    I haven’t read that in decades. I guess they must be smoking some of the same stuff though.

  • hunter

    I read the latest issue of RS today.
    The articles regarding climate are obvious whines.
    No facts, pure fulmination.
    Transparent and shallow attempts aat intimindation.
    IOW, they are in mourning.
    Glad I cancelled my subscription.

  • TDK

    apologies for the multi-post