Dr Adam Corner talks with Geoff Chambers – Discussion 2

In this second exchange  (1st here) between Adam Corner (Talking Climate blog) and Geoff Chambers – (a reg­ular and prom­inent com­menter at sev­eral cli­mate sceptic blogs), they continue to dis­cuss research on the psy­cho­logy of scepticism.

Comments are very wel­come – but please be aware they will be tightly mod­er­ated for civility to ensure all com­ments are on-topic (some leeway on topic if interesting/relevant).

Is this kind of ini­ti­ative useful? Should it happen more often? We look for­ward to hearing your thoughts. (Talking Climate)


In your paper (Corner, Whitmarsh & Xenias, 2012) which set off our discussion, I noted that you administered a battery of questions called the New Ecological Paradigm (NEP) to your respondents. It didn’t affect your research, but it got me interested in the whole question of how you assess environmental attitudes.

The NEP has its origins in a  2000 paper by Dunlap et al. It updates a previous set of questions called the New Environmental Paradigm developed by Dunlap and van Liere in 1978. The paper, with a list of the questions and analysis of a pilot test can be found at [here] The NEP seems to me to raise the kind of questions about environmentalism, and in particular research into attitudes to the environment, which Ben has been examining at Climate Resistance. What’s your take on it, and why did you include it in your research?



We included it in our research in order to have a well validated scale (i.e., used lots of times and found to have good internal consistency between the items) for measuring people’s beliefs about the environment. We wanted to know how they related to people’s beliefs about climate change (which we measured using Lorraine Whitmarsh’s scale for ‘climate scepticism’), and in turn, how NEP scores might determine people’s ratings of the newspaper editorials.

As you might expect, people’s score on the NEP scale was a significant predictor of their scores on the scepticism scale – the more ‘pro-environmental’ they were (as measured by the NEP), the less sceptical about climate change they were, over and above who they voted for, and whether they were a member of an environmental organisation.

We did not do a great deal with this analysis, but I think it helps to set the scene for what is going into a sceptical judgment about climate change: in part, it is coming from disagreeing with the NEP scale. So, in part, scepticism about climate change is coming from disagreeing with items that measure ‘pro-environmental’ beliefs (and measured them long before climate change was known about by the public.

The NEP is described as measuring whether people have an ‘ecological worldview’ and a ‘pro-environmental orientation’. I don’t see any major issues with this as a description, but you could throw various criticisms at it. These are a couple of the pros and cons as I see it:

Pros: It is internally reliable and has been tested lots of times before, and so therefore has a degree of consistency that another (perhaps more directly relevant to climate change scale) would not. The vast majority of the items seem to tap into something fairly timeless and fundamental: the way that humans relate to nature. It is quite difficult to find questions that do that without asking about very time/culture specific things.

Cons: There is something a bit unsatisfying about saying ‘this one is good because its been good before’ but it quite often does come down to that in the business of trying to measure slippery things like attitudes/beliefs etc. I think it is because psychology wants to move closer to the physical sciences in terms of methodology, and so making ‘one tweak at a time’ is seen as good practice (rather than inventing new scales of measurement each time).

I personally do not think that psychology – or at least the kind I am interested in – necessarily benefits from becoming overly obsessed with aping the harder sciences, because you sometimes end up being a bit hamstrung and having less explanatory power than you might otherwise have. I would favour a bit more room for tinkering with scales to make them more relevant to the research question at hand – although that would come at the expense of their proven reliability. I think some of the items are a bit unnecessarily abstract and vague – but then again if they were not, they would quickly go out of date. So what do you make of it…I am guessing you don’t think it’s a useful scale??



I’ve got no quarrel with the concept of measuring attitudes to the environment in this way, as long as we’re clear what we’re measuring.

What struck me about the NEP questions was 1)  their complexity and level of abstraction and 2) the very high level of  endorsement of the environmental position in the responses to the public opinion survey.

For example: 79% agree that “the balance of nature is very delicate and  easily upset”, 74% agree that “the earth is like a spaceship with very limited room and resources” etc. I’d suggest that a large number of people would find concepts like “balance of nature” and “spaceship earth” pretty foreign to their experience; that these people are probably largely represented among the 41% of non-respondents to the postal survey; and that therefore the “don’t know category” should be closer to 50-60% than the 10-20% recorded.

This was a postal survey, and those who were either opposed to environmental ideas, or who found the questions daunting, would be more likely to bin the questionnaire. Add the fact that the survey was conducted among citizens of Washington State, (the “greenest” state of the USA) and you have a couple of strong reasons for doubting if the survey correctly measures public endorsement of the environmental position.



I don’t know if the reason they get high approval ratings is because its an unrepresentatively green sample – I’d say it is because they are phrased in a way that makes disagreeing with them feel a bit odd. You get the same effect when you ask about ‘environmental values’ (this is a different line of research associated with a big body of publications by people like Shalom Schwarz, and Paul Stern) Who really wants to disagree with the ‘value’ of nature? The problem is that people are probably putting very different ideas into that concept of ‘nature’ – and so they then endorse protecting the version in their head.

So yes, the more abstract questions are, the less you can unpick the detail of what people are responding to. Here’s an interesting thought though: before the NEP etc came along – and this goes alongside a turn towards ‘objective’ scales for measuring all sorts of perceptions/beliefs in psychology – the idea that ‘nature’ was something ‘out there’ to be perceived and measured did not have so much intellectual weight.

There is a great book called ‘Contested Natures’ that argues that the clean lines we like to draw between ‘human’ (read: artificial) and ‘natural’ (read: flowers and stuff) are illusory. We shape and are shaped by our environment: a spiderweb is no more ‘natural’ than a guitar. So there are limits – practical and philosophical – to what survey data and questionnaires can do.

This post [here] by a researcher, Stuart Capstick, who is also at Cardiff and did his PhD on reviewing qualitative data on climate change over a long period of time, is interesting, because it suggests that the survey story about attitudes to climate change ‘collapsing’ or ‘rising’ is actually underpinned by some pretty consistent trends.

So I’d like to throw this back to you Geoff – if things like the NEP are flawed, and if you see our scales for measuring climate change scepticism and its relationship to ideology as not capturing the essence of why people are sceptical about climate change, how should social science seek to understand people’s beliefs about the environment and climate change?



To answer your last question first: I’m happy with social scientists asking any questions they like. It’s the quality of the analysis of the answers that bothers me. I find the answers to the NEP questions fascinating, largely because of the large proportion of the sample (even if I’m right that Dunlap’s original Washington State sample might not be entirely representative)  who endorse statements that no-one would have thought of  formulating sixty years ago.  Dunlap and his colleagues are clearly measuring something fascinating –  the spread of ideas which have come from nowhere to being majority opinions in roughly half a century.

Take the “Spaceship Earth” concept: Wiki attributes it to the 19th century political thinker Henry George, used by Adlai Stevenson in a speech in 1965 and as the title of a book by Barbara Ward in 1966. I would guess that not 1% of the population have heard of these three people, yet  74% of Dunlap’s sample agree that “the earth is like a spaceship”. This kind of statistic is used, quite naturally, by Greens as evidence of public endorsement of sustainability. Now, if you look at people’s behaviour in our western societies, I’d suggest that “the earth is like a shopping mall” or “the earth is like a crappy theme park” comes nearer to most people’s real opinion. But try proposing those statements in an opinion survey! They correspond to nothing in our conceptual stock.

Dunlap is clearly measuring something important, but what? He and his colleagues clearly believe that they are measuring agreement with a political programme. The NEP has its origins in a book by Dennis Pirages and Paul Ehrlich – “Ark II: Social Response to Environmental Imperatives” (1974) in which it is proposed as an alternative to what they call the Dominant Social Paradigm. A quick Google search suggests that the latter idea hasn’t really caught on, but one understands what it means, and it’s clear that the NEP is expected to replace it in a paradigm shift. Dunlap says that the scale questions “tap primitive beliefs about humanity’s relationship with the Earth”. But he clearly endorses the environmental position as being scientifically attested fact, since he goes on to say:

“we suspect that the never-ending emergence of new scientific evidence concerning the deleterious impacts of human activities on environmental quality and the subsequent threats these pose to humans (and other species) will generate continual pressure for adoption of a more ecological world-view. “

So my concern is not that the NEP is flawed. Nor am I bothered that Dunlap is clearly a committed “green” who believes that the ideas he is exploring as a social scientist are destined to triumph. My concern is that the cultural particularity – the ideological origins if you like – of the concepts used need exploring before the findings of this sort of survey  are accepted as neutral objective “fact”.

I’m all for sociological studies of this kind – particularly longitudinal ones which measure changes in public opinion over time – but I believe social scientists are failing in their duty when they fail (or refuse) to interpret data whose meaning is far from clear.

Comments are open for discussion:

Note – ( If need to snip anything as too off topic, I will pass onto Geoff and/or Adam for opinion to see  if I’m too heavy handed with the scissors)

Update: added Geoff’s comment to the bulk of the article

Posted in Uncategorized | 20 Comments

Clarifications and How Better To Communicate Science


Originally blogged at Realclimategate

(I changed the name of the blog, because of this post)

Reputation is everything on the internet.

Last week I was very concerned to see that Peter Gleick had publically claimed on Twitter he had blocked me because I had made ‘incredibly offensive’ tweets to him. I was very concerned by this public claim from such a senior scientist, as this implied that I had been abusive to him in the same manner as the vile threatening emails, one of our mutual Twitter followers Katie Hayhoe had received (like this)

I asked him (a lot) to substantiate this, or to correct this publically, yet he repeated it, it was only I believe with the input of Dr Tamsin Edwards, Professor Richard Betts and Katie Hayhoe that Peter relented and clarified matters.

Tamsin Edwards, Peter Gleick and I had a very frank email exchange and I found it quite enlightening to see a VERY different perspective on how to communicate climate science between a ‘relatively junior (as he made clear) UK climate scientist (Edwards) and a senior climate scientist (Gleick) in the USA.

In Tamsin’s closing email to Peter Gleick ( that I am party to) I think she inadvertently identifies exactly the feeling of many sceptics, being dismissed as a group to be ignored.

“I would personally be infuriated if I was dismissed on account of the behaviour of a group of people I talk with. Every single person I talk with has a different viewpoint, and I learn a lot about how better to communicate climate science by listening to them. If we dismiss swathes of people by association then our attempts at communication become futile: we end up only ‘preaching to the converted from an ‘ivory tower’, as it were”.

Of course, if communication of climate science is not your aim, then it is your choice if you prefer to communicate with nobody! – Tamsin Edwards

I’m sure many people can only imagine Peter’s reply/thoughts to that (if any).

In the email exchange Peter recognises the extreme polarisation of the debate (especially as Tamsin points out in the USA) but seem totally unselfaware that his approach and attitude that are shown in the email exchange (and that it seems to of many senior scientists in the media) helps drive it.

Peter says he stands by everything he said and I have confirmed with Tamsin (3 times!) that she is OK  with publishing the correspondence as well. So to be fair, I do not wish to misrepresent anybody, I have included ALL the emails I was party to, so that everyone can see the exchange in full context.

In the USA it appear questions around climate science can be ‘attacks’ any criticism or debate of a contentious issue, can be seen by some as ‘incredibly offensive and those people that dare do this are to be dismissed and ignored. I do not find that healthy position for science to be in.

I was personally infuriated when my Prime Minister (Gordon Brown) made ‘anti-science flat earther denier’ remarks (and double denier) in the run up to Copenhagen. Awful political rhetoric to deny the validity of other opinions or even to prevent questions being asked at all.

And here I am 2 years later.

All Correspondence in full – Reverse order,last first (my Bold)


From: Tamsin Edwards

Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2012 6:29 PM

To: Peter H. Gleick Cc: Barry Woods

Subject: Re: Clarification

Dear Peter,

Just a quick note.

One of the most important things I have learned in my (fairly extensive) public engagement activities is not to lump people together in a homogenous group. I repeatedly defend Barry because he works hard *not* to be Anthony Watts.

I hope you’ll consider taking each person and their views on their ownmerits, or lack of, in future conversations. I would personally be infuriated if I was dismissed on account of the behaviour of a group of people I talk with. Every single person I talk with has a different viewpoint, and I learn a lot about how better to communicate climate science by listening to them. If we dismiss swathes of people by association then our attempts at communication become futile: we end up only ‘preaching to the converted from an ‘ivory tower’, as it were.

Of course, if communication of climate science is not your aim, then it is your choice if you prefer to communicate with nobody!

My best wishes,



From: Peter Gleick

Sent: 26/01/2012 18:13

To: Barry Woods;Tamsin Edwards


Again, I am not going to spend more time on this, but I will try to be clear. My comments about your communications with me were not meant to suggest that you were either abusive or threatening to me in the nature of the kinds of emails/comments Hayhoe (or I or others in the climate community regularly receive).

You have not been so far as I know, and *I will try to make that clear in a tweet, when I get a chance*. And perhaps “incredibly annoying” or “incredibly frustrating” or “incredibly discourteous,” or “incredibly uncivil” or some other synonym would have been a better choice. Do you really want me to pick one?

I stand by my other comments in the email I sent to you, about how I personally perceived your participation in exchanges in the fall when I ran out of patience with any chance of rational discussion with WUWT, Bishop Hill, or the regular tweeters and bloggers of that group. It became clear it was an unproductive time sink with a group whose minds were closed to fact, and whose primary tool was ad hominem attack.

The systematic and coordinated and dishonest attack on me after my
negative review of LaFramboise’s book was only one example that made it
clear that rational debate was not possible and dissenting views not tolerated.

The fact that WUWT blocked me from adding comments more than a year ago to his routinely biased and often dissembling blog further convinced me that there was little interest in discussion among that group.

Perhaps you’re having more luck, or have more patience.

Peter Gleick


At 06:31 AM 1/26/2012, Barry Woods wrote:


As you requested my email address, I must apologise in the delay replying back to you. I have been in the process of moving everything from my old
(expired XP PC) to a new Win 7 PC, this did not run very smoothly.

As I and Dr Edwards have expressed, my concern (which your email to me, does not really address) was about your public tweets, that you tweeted that I had directly sent you ‘incredibly offensive’ tweets. I thought that this very public claim could be construed by all your followers, my followers or anybody that receives your public RSS feed, (including the highly influential Huffington Post where you write publically) that I had directly sent you personally threatening or abusive tweets.

All this, at a time where climate scientists, like Katie Hayhoe or journalists like Leo Hickman in the past (Guardian) have received the most vile abuse, of an incredibly offensive nature, using very threatening language, via email and other social media.
Additionally, this issue has recently received a great deal of media attention in the USA (i.e. Katie’s rejected book chapter, for a US potential US Presidential candidate) My concern was that your followers (and all mine) and the wider media, might perceive that I had directly sent you tweets of a similar personally abusive nature.

As my Twitter followers actually include Katie Hayhoe and Leo Hickman, I hope you can understand my particular concern and why I perceive this so seriously. Following your original tweet, I asked you to clarify/substantiate this public claim. As did a number of our mutual twitter followers, including Professor Richard Betts & Dr Tamsin Edwards.

It was then brought to my attention that you publically implied in a tweet to Prof R Betts that I had been less polite to you.

PeterGleick: “and perhaps, Richard, he’s been more polite to you than to me?”

Prof Richard Betts, asked you what I had tweeted that offended you
and you tweeted that you had reviewed my tweets and found some of them
to be ‘incredibly offensive’

I again asked you to substantiate this, that all that would required is  just ONE tweet (url) to demonstrate your assertion, I also stated that I would publically apologise if you could substantiate with just ONE example. It was then brought to my attention, a tweet of yours to @Richardabetts that you had perhaps not actually re-viewed my tweets of the time when you blocked me, and your concerns were perhaps more in-keeping with those expressed in your email to Dr Edwards and myself below (however that email is not public knowledge)

PeterGleick:”@richardabetts I won’t re-read his tweets/WUWT comments on my work from last fall when I blocked him, but our exchanges were unproductive.”

This seems to to me, to run counter to your public claim of ‘incredibly offensive’ tweets, where tweets were just ‘unproductive’ and refers to blog comments now, as well.

As I recall it, you blocked myself and Andrew Montford at the time of Prof Judith Curry’s blog post about your review of Donna Laframboise’s book about the IPCC. Richard Betts, Andrew and I recalled this this article, and that we had all commented in that article and recalled the twitter chats aswell. .

@aDissentient Bishop Hill: @Realclim8gate I read your exchanges with @petergleick at the time. You were not offensive. @richardabetts @flimsin @dougmcneall @nmrqip

RichardaBetts: @Realclim8gate @petergleick Don’t remember you being “incredibly offensive”, just speaking your mind. Maybe I am thick-skinned! 🙂

At that time, my only comment addressed directly to you at Climate Etc I think is totally civil.


As Andrew Montford commented in that article that you had just twittered blocked him at about time of this comment


Peter, Is it perhaps possible that your recollections of their [that] time are unclear, and perhaps you blocked me then and others, more by ‘guilt by association’ with other comments/tweets, than for anything I actually said at Climate Etc. or tweeted. There were very many critical comments of your book review at Climate Etc., by a number of scientists, Prof Curry, Prof Jones & Prof Tol and the whole article comments and your replies got very heated. As you can see, my only comment to you there was very civil, just asking a question.

As you said publically on the 23rd Jan, 2012 that you had reviewed my tweets to you, and found some to be ‘incredibly offensive’ and you publically repeated this. I remain very concerned that all the scientist and journalists that follow me might think that I had been highly personally abusive to you.

I joined twitter with the hope of having civil, informal conversation with a broad range of people, to get a way from the blogs. As you noticed, I have only a small group of followers, I like to think that I have attracted views of quality rather than quantity and enjoy a generally [good] humoured communal debate with a number of people who
have a range of views.

These followers include scientists (among many others), Dr Katie Hayhoe, Prof J Jones, Prof R Betts (Met Off, IPCC), Dr Doug McNeall (Met Off), Dr M Brandon, DR Richard Gilham (Met Off, UEA) Dr Katharine Giles.

Influential writers and highly respected journalists include: Andy Revkin (New York Times),Leo Hickman (Guardian), Mark Lynas (author, & Maldives Climate Advisor)

Thus, I am sure you can acknowledge, my personal reputation for civil polite behaviour, on twitter or anywhere else, is of great concern to me and that your public tweets I believe have put this reputation at risk, however inadvertently on your part. Although, additionally I am concerned that you seem unwilling to actually check/substantiate your comments as I requested.

Peter, as you have made it quite clear that you wish to spend no more time on this issue, but you have yet not made any public clarification/substantiation.

I intend to write a blog post where I quote your email, that I believe does demonstrate, that I have never directly sent you tweets, that might be considered ‘incredibly offensive’ in the nature of the vile abuse threatening emails that Katie Hayhoe has received.

As a gesture of goodwill, on my part, I will include of course the full content and context of these emails, for utmost transparency/clarity, as I have no absolutely no wish to misrepresent you in any way. In fact by doing this, it will bring to the attention of all my scientist followers, your criticisms, concerns and warning to scientists about me, for all scientists to see.

(I will of course, remove all personal contact information)

If I may ask you one personal favour, if you could spare just a moment of your time (only 140 chars) to publically tweet, that I had never sent you anything of personally abusive nature (i.e. swearing, abusive or threatening).

Very Best Regards

Barry Woods


The only WUWT with comment of mine, that I can find from last year about you/your work, was this one, where I defended you:

because this guy had been rude about all climate scientists, picking on you especially:


As you mentioned blog comments in your email, as I described above, in that quite heated article by Prof Judith Curry, at the actual time that you twitter blocked me, perhaps you ‘associated’ me with these scientists by mistake.

For example Prof Jonathan Jones comment (Physics, Oxford University) whilst critical, not ‘incredibly offensive’?


Or Prof Richard Tol: who was a draft reviewer of Dona’s book (and
a IPCC lead author) who asked you to substantiate your claim of


Perhaps you just confused me with someone else… that is why I asked to check and substantiate your public tweet that I was ‘incredibly offensive’. I do note that it appears to that you did not substantiate your claim of ‘lies’ when Prof Richard Tol requested you to.

as he said.

Richard Tol (speaking to Peter Gleick)

 “Now that we are on the subject, you accuse Laframboise of telling lies. Can you quote chapter and verse?  Please note that I have a stake here. I reviewed two drafts of the book. I did not find any falsehoods (let alone lies, which imply intention). I would like to know where I went wrong in my duty asa reviewer.”

Reputation is clearly very important to everyone, especially academic ones …..


From: Peter H. Gleick

Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 12:20 AM

To: Tamsin Edwards  Cc: barry.woods1@ntlworld.com

Subject: Re: Clarification


I am not going to deal with this anymore. It has taken far too much of my constrained time and bandwidth already.

I am glad Woods’ exchanges with you seem to have been decent. We’re probably all far more polite one-on-one than in public online screamfests. I’m sorry he didn’t like my comment. But I’ve reviewed his tweets, blog posts, status, web URL, and comments and contributions in places like Bishop Hill and WUWT (where, by the way, I’ve been blocked for more than a year from posting comments, presumably because my comments are “incredibly offensive” — yet I’m regularly and personally attacked on these kinds of sites).

His adoption of the language, often coded, of the denier/skeptic/contrarian community, his amplification of memes around “climategate,” “AGwarmists,” “hide the decline,” “the hockey stick,” the straw man of “catastrophic” climate change, etc. may have changed since I blocked his Twitter feed to me last year, but I simply don’t find his input to the debate helpful or informative, and I’m certainly entitled to both my opinions and to decide what part of the climate controversy comes to me through different media.

By the way, I also block people I LIKE, when I can no longer tolerate
or filter their massive overuse of Twitter.

I do what I can to communicate rationally with open-minded participants in this debate, but the polarization makes it hard to find them. If this is something you’re committed to diving into, I wish you the best of luck. I hope you’ll continue to publish in
the scientific literature as your top priority — in the long-run, your reputation as a scientist (and your influence in the associated policy debates) will benefit from it.

Barry, if you want to pursue this further, feel free, but
honestly, you should consider cutting your tweet rate by a factor of 10
until your ratio of tweets to followers improves, you might consider
what you really believe and how you express it, and we should
probably ALL count to 10 after writing anything and before hitting

(and Tamsin, your note about how Barry regrets the domain name,
but “has kept it because it’s known” might be a warning to you,

“All Models Are Wrong…” But I’ve already made my opinion known
on that.)

Peter Gleick

Dr. Peter H. Gleick

President, Pacific Institute


At 01:57 PM 1/24/2012, Tamsin Edwards wrote:

Yes…he says he regrets it actually, but has kept it because
it’s known.

e.g. http://twitter.com/#!/Realclim8gate/status/160701652628803584

And he changed his Twitter biog after I pointed out it was more antagonistic than his actual views.


Email: xxxxx.xxx@xxxx.xx

On 24/01/2012 21:36, Peter H. Gleick wrote:

OK, not to be pedantic, but I find his URL to be offensive…. Maybe not “incredibly offensive” but….




At 01:21 PM 1/24/2012, you wrote:

Thanks Peter.

I’ve never emailed him, only DMed and spoken on the
phone. I’ve asked for his email but no reply yet – think he is fixing
his skirting board.

He has a contact form on his blog:





On 24/01/2012 17:05, Peter H. Gleick wrote:

Can you send me Barry’s email?

I will respond shortly, when I have time, and will
copy the two of you.

[Katherine, a week ago I got a long rambling phone
message from your  admirer Stan Lippmann — not nearly as horrible
and offensive as his to you, but bad enough. He apparently took offence to one of my posts at Forbes and has no mental brakes on his mouth or fingers. My condolences…]



At 07:30 AM 1/24/2012, Tamsin Edwards wrote:

Dear Peter, (Katharine),

Following on from my DMs to you Peter, I’m writing because I’d like to defend Barry Woods (@realclim8gate). He has always been an absolute model of politeness and good intentions when conversing with me and  all the other climate scientists I know. He actively defends us against others’ (i.e. sceptics’) rudeness when
we post on the Bishop Hill sceptic blog, and always calls for the
debates to be civil. In fact, I would say he does accept the science
and is sceptical mostly about policy choices and the media’s
representation of our results.

So I was surprised to hear that you’d found his tweets “incredibly offensive” and would be very interested to hear what these were. It’s not clear to me (from your tweets to Barry and Richard Betts) whether you have re-read these messages recently, or
whether they were more “unproductive” than offensive.

I have just spoken to Barry and he is genuinely upset and concerned about this. The reason I have copied Katharine into this is that she recently started following him and he is concerned she will write him off due to your description. He describes the
abuse Katharine and Kerry have received as “despicable” and worries that your comments will have branded him in the same category when he takes great pains to be polite. This is one of the reasons I have chosen to write to you. Barry is not a troll, not a mindless frothing angry commenters we so frequently see. He does get frustrated (and
verbose) but is good-humoured with it.

Fortunately for me and my colleagues, in theUK the debate is much less heated than in the US, and some of us have made great progress in holding civil and productive conversations with a range of sceptics, bringing them round to our point of view. I
want to defend Barry’s part in this: to stick up for someone I owe a
lot in developing the conversation.

You may think this issue is not worth giving a moment more of your time. And this would be your decision, of course. But I hope you can.

Best wishes,




There lies a very interesting and remarkably  frank discussion:

Peter has now tweeted this:


and I thanked Peter:


but without a considerable amount of effort and Richard, Tamsin and Katies input I don’t think this would have happened.

If it is considered offensive, incredibly offensive, closed minded or even an an attack on a scientist or climate science presumably, to be asked to backup words and accusations like ‘lies’ (Donna’s IPCC book) I am afraid in my opinion that scientist fails in trying to communicate and just alienates people

Reading his comments above, it is sad to see that he presumeably must include Professor Judith Curry, Professor Richard Tol and Professor Jonathan Jones (and Professor Richard Mueller – ‘Hide the decline’ video) in those he has lot pateince with and find ‘incredibly offensive’? as they have all spoken highly critically about ‘Hide the Decline’.

Additionally, as they were FAR more critical than I was of him with respect to Donna Laframboises book. I’ve met Donna once and she is a very nice lady who deserves to be respected to have PUBLIC  accusations of ‘lies’ to be substantiated (and a belated thanks to Donna for the kids, maple leaf lollies & sweets she sent before Xmas)

“…The systematic and coordinated and dishonest attack on me after my negative review of LaFramboise’s book was only one example that made it clear that rational debate was not possible and dissenting views not tolerated…” – Peter Gleick

All Professor Tol, Curry, Jones and myself and Andrew Montford were attempting to clarify with Peter was his claim that Donnas’ book was full of ‘lies’. we were asking for pg number, reference and reasoning from him to substantiate the VERY strong public claim. As a draft reviewer of the book in question, I can imagine Richard Tol’s annoyance.

So this is where Peter has infuriated me, for someone in his position, his refusal to substantiate PUBLIC statement, when he is asked to back up his statement.. ie pg number, url, ref, and reasoning, as it seems to be a worrying attitude that appear to frequently expressed within ‘climate change science’

To be willing to substantiate something is something ANY student would expect of their teacher, or public figure, and Peter is both.

Peter Gleick is no doubt an expert scientist in his own field, but I do think he could learn from Tamsin Edwards approach in attempting to communicate to the public, not least withrespect do not dismiis people because of who the talk with (or percieved sins of association) and yes it is infuriating. This is a point that Tamsin Edwards makes in her new blog after apprently learning the hard way in public debate (bold).

Twitter and Bishop Hill have

(a) toughened me up a bit

(b) taught me to be very precise and ready to back every statement up

(c) taught me not to assume anything about people’s opinions or knowledge, though I admit I forget sometimes (c) given me many friendly allies from across the spectrum of opinions. I recommend them both as places to start.” – Tamsin Edwards

Tamsin thought it odd that Peter had forwarded to me in his email all their previous correspondence, presumably to to beclear about how he felt? I am glad that he did because it gave me a small, but important pause for thought.

As I MUST give Peter Gleick some great credit for even twittering with me and Andrew Montford in the first place.

Why do I give him this credit, because he mentions in passing that he received phone calls from the same ‘gentleman’ that had been given Katie Hayhoe a very hard (abusive time) and again refers to regular abusive emails, that no doubt other high profile climate scientists in the USA recieve (primarily from Americans?)

[Katherine, a week ago I got a long rambling phone
message from your  admirer Stan Lippmann — not nearly as horrible and offensive as his to you, but bad enough.

The situation is no doubt due to the highly politicised polarisation of the issue in the USA, withMarc Morano’s Climate Depot, no doubt NOT helping by publishing climate scientists email addreses alongside ‘tabloid’ style headlines.

So despite my criticism, I do have to give Peter a huge amount of credit for talking to me on Twitter,  in the first place due to the very different highly politicised situation in America, that I was only vaguley aware of. Same credit is due to Katie Hayhoe for talking for someone called – @realclim8gate at all, and I would like to thank her again.

All I wanted to is to persude some in USA/UK climate science that they may be mistaken, and that the highly polarised climate in the USA/UK is preventing the normal civil but lifely debate of the issues.

The reason I choose Realclimategate is like Tamsin to be provocative, to be noticed, and at the time I choose itbecause Realclimate had really irritated me, by just deleting me out of hand in their comments.

I had suggested they just add Steve Mcintyre, Peilke and Lucia’s Blackboard (to their Other Opinion blog roll, and the reply was tha tthese people were dishonest! (Dr Eric Steig – this did not go unoticed by the people I mentioned) and ALL my further comments at Realclimate were modereated out of existance.

The irony is I had gone originally (when climategate happened) to RealClimate in total good faith, on the personal recommendation of a climate scientists  and a very good personal family friend (someone who was part Editorial Team of IPCC TAR, WG1 with a high profile UK role to this day) so I was genuinely openminded about Realclimate.

Ie I did not even know who Steve Mcintyre, Michael Mann, Anthony Watts were,  nor heard of Andrew Montford, Mark Lynas or Leo Hickman (sorry guys!) either.

In Peters and other climate scientists world view it seems to me to even mention, ‘Hide the decline’ climategate, etc is seen as very offensive and ‘attacking scientists’ or attacking science’ and to me this world view is odd.

Think of me what you will, call me a sceptic, denier, crank, flat-earther, anti-science and more names intended to portay me as someone to ignore, as bad, crazy or stupid. But if scientists like Prof R Muller, Prof J Jones, Prof J Curry and UEA Paul Dennis publically have stateded their criticisms their concerns wiht the ‘HIde the Decline’ and the scientists involved,  then I am going to damm well talk about it to, until science deals with it ‘properly’ and moves on.

As in my opinion, Peter  reaction to this (like very many others within ‘climate change’ science) shows them more to be like someone who is an advocate for ‘the cause’ and not behaving as a scientist should.

As demonstrated by the criticism of Tamsind Edwards new blog name allmodelsarewrong.com, because his primary concern is that ‘sceptics’ might misuse it.

As I have pretty much commnted every in the last 2 years under my name (as Barry Woods) I’m going to drop @RealClim8gate, as It is has become unproductive to what I want to achieve, a civil discussion with no mention of deniers, watermelons, cranks, alarmist, or whatever label anyone denigrates the other to deny them a voice.

So, whilst I am proud/pleased what RealClimategate.org achieved (and @RealClim8gate ) times are changing, more questions are being asked, a broader audience is gradually engaging the debate and hopefully the need for provocative challenge to a ‘consensus’ will fade away.

So, I have changed my Twitter name already from @RealClim8gate to @BarryJWoods

I might just park this old blog, (don’t want to lead dead links all over the place) and I am proud of the small achievements it has contributed, and thank to those like Katie, Tamsin, etc who saw past the name.)

and of course I will need to come up with a new name for a new blog.

Any thoughts?

So hopefully, Peter will perhaps think some of his communication events effort was not so totally  ‘unproductive‘ after all.

Or I might just retire from blogging (it’s been a long very frustrating 2 years)

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Challenging Thoughts for the BBC and Guardian – BBC’s Michael Buerk at The Fifth Column blog

Originally blogged at Realclimategate

Update: I quickly wrote this last night (26th Dec), I’m working on a more detailed analysis today, come back later for a link.

Interesting thoughts (podcast and transcript) by journalists challenging the ‘media  consensus’ on a number of topics. These words from the BBC’s Michael Buerk (BBC R4 – The Moral Maze) apparently challenging the simplistic mainstream media ‘climate consensus’ at a new blog – The Fifth Column – with has an apparent provocative and challenging devil advocates agenda.

What gets up my nose is being infantilized by governments, by the BBC, by the Guardian that there is no argument, that all scientists who aren’t cranks and charlatans are agreed on all this, that the consequences are uniformly negative, the issues beyond doubt and the steps to be taken beyond dispute.”

– Michael Buerk – Agitator Fifth Column (Chair of BBC’s The Moral Maze)

I wonder what the BBC’s Environment team will (Richard Black especially) have to say about his from Michael Buerk’s podcast broadcast at the Fifth Column blog.

“…And actually there has been no significant rise in global temperatures for more than a decade now.

We hear a lot about how the Arctic is shrinking, but scarcely anything about how the Antarctic is spreading, and the South Pole is getting colder.

Droughts aren’t increasing. There are fewer of them, and less severe, than a hundred years ago. The number of hurricanes hasn’t changed, the number of cyclones and typhoons has actually fallen over the last 30 years.

And so on.” – Michael Buerk

I hope they don’t mind me reproducing a transcript of the Podcast on an article that apparently has only seen a relatively small audience so far: Michael Buerk on the Climate Summit I will include a few highlights in bold where I would considerit very interesting to all those involved in the climate change (man made catastrophic version) debate:

Transcript – The Fifth Column – Michael Buerk on the Climate Summit

The latest so-called Climate Summit, that’s been taking place in Durban, hasn’t made many waves. It could be because global warming seems less daunting if you can no longer afford heating bills. It could also be that we’re getting fed up with the bogus certainties and quasi-religious tone of the great climate change non-debate.

Now, I don’t know for certain that man’s activities are causing the planet to heat up. Nobody does. We simply cannot construct a theoretical model that can cope with all the variables.

For what it’s worth, I think anthropogenic warming is taking place, and, anyway, it would be a good thing to stop chucking so much bad stuff into the atmosphere.

What gets up my nose is being infantilized by governments, by the BBC, by the Guardian that there is no argument, that all scientists who aren’t cranks and charlatans are agreed on all this, that the consequences are uniformly negative, the issues beyond doubt and the steps to be taken beyond dispute. 

You’re not necessarily a crank to point out that global temperatures change a great deal anyway. A thousand years ago we had a Mediterranean climate in this country; 200 years ago we were skating every winter on the Thames.

And actually there has been no significant rise in global temperatures for more than a decade now.

We hear a lot about how the Arctic is shrinking, but scarcely anything about how the Antarctic is spreading, and the South Pole is getting colder.

Droughts aren’t increasing. There are fewer of them, and less severe, than a hundred years ago. The number of hurricanes hasn’t changed, the number of cyclones and typhoons has actually fallen over the last 30 years.

And so on.

There may be answers, I think there probably are – to all these quibbles – I would like to hear them.

I don’t want the media to make up my mind up for me.

I don’t need to be told things by officialdom in all its forms, that are not true, or not the whole truth, for my own good.

I resent the implication that the exercise of my reason is “inappropriate”, an act of generational selfishness, a heresy.

I want a genuine debate about the assumptions behind the more apocalyptic forecasts.

As recently as 2005, for instance, the UN said there would be 50 million climate refugees by 2010.

That was last year.

OK – so where are they?

I would like to hear a clash of informed opinion about what would actually be better if it got warmer as well as worse.

Where do you see reported the extraordinary greening of the Sahel, and shrinking of the Sahara that’s been going on for 30 years now – the regeneration of vegetation across a huge, formerly arid swathe of dirt poor Africa. More warming means more rainfall. More CO2 means plants grow bigger, stronger, faster.

I would like a real argument over climate change policy, if only to rid myself of the nagging feeling that sometimes it’s a really good excuse for banging up taxes and public-sector job creation.

It’s not happening. It’s a secular issue but skepticism is heresy.

They talk the language of science, but it is really a post-God religion that rejects relativist materialism.

Its imperative is moral.

It looks to a society where some choices are obviously, and universally held to be, better than others.

A life where having what we want is not a right and nature puts constraints on the free play of desires.

To reinvent, in short, a life where there is good and bad, right and wrong.

As with all religions, whether the underlying narrative is true, has become beside the point.” – Transcript here

Very interesting, provocative thoughts from a senior BBC journalist at the Fifth Colum blog especially, with these very challenging words from the BBC’s Michael Buerk for the Guardian and the BBC.

“What gets up my nose is being infantilized by governments, by the BBC, by the Guardian that there is no argument” – Michael Buerk

The Fifth Column Blog is apprently only a month or 2 old, and at time of writing has only a 113 Twitter followers, it  may become very interesting: (About)

Welcome to The Fifth Column

The name implies a spirit of subversion.. .

Yes, but not in the predictable, ultimately tiresome, sense of arguing with everything and everybody.

Rather in what will be the refreshing sense of saying the un-sayable or asking the un-askable when nobody is saying it or asking it because of behind-the-scenes’ deals, old pals’ agreements, eyebrow-raising scruples, or an unwillingness to offend or to be offended.

Our business will be stories, issues, controversies in the public consciousness. Which deserve more, sometimes deeper, investigation. Truth, after all, is hard to find – it’s usually subjective, and always complex.”

From The Fifth Column Twitter Bio:

“Thought provoking podcasts on topical & controversial issues, with contributions from some of the most respected names in UK journalism as well as new talents.”

I think, that I may just decide 😉 to follow The Fifth Column blog on Twitter (please retweet)

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Climategate 2.0 – “Over 2.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day”

Originally blogged at Realclimategate

The long promised, but forgotten about, further release of the climategate emails has just occured…

And the accusation is that it was a deliberate attempt to influence Durban Cop17 Climate Conference.

…. and of course this is EXACTLY what it was.

The real question should be, what is the motive..

Prof Michael Mann of course, has just repeated his usual mantra, of his thoughts of the motivations of the people behind the release:

“agents doing the dirty bidding of the fossil fuel industry know they can’t contest the fundamental science of human-caused climate change. So they have instead turned to smear, innuendo, criminal hacking of websites, and leaking out-of-context snippets of personal emails in their effort to try to confuse the public about the science and thereby forestall any action to combat this critical threat. Its right out of the tried-and-true playbook of climate change denial.”

Michael Mann – Guardian

The accompanying note from FOIA, perhaps reveals  a different motive, one that I very much relate to:

“Over 2.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day.”

“Every day nearly 16.000 children die from hunger and related causes.”

“One dollar can save a life” — the opposite must also be true.

“Poverty is a death sentence.”

“Nations must invest $37 trillion in energy technologies by 2030 to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions at sustainable levels.”

Today’s decisions should be based on all the information we can get, not on hiding the decline.” FOIA – Nov 22, 2011

The last 20 years since Rio, have seen vast amounts of money, but more importantly political capital and TIME chasing a vision of AGW derived catastrophy.  Even if the direst predictions for the future were true.  Money and time would have been better spent (imho) in developing the infrastructure in the poorest parts of the world, to deal now to the natural weather extremes that have occured since time immemorial. Because a extreme weather related death, flood, drought, hurricane, tornado, etc spread of disease, etc, is a 1st order function of being poor…

ie Malaria is predicted to spread becase of AGW, by some, meaning more deaths in an indeterminate future… With the political capital and time (and relativelly small amounts of money) malaria could be erradicated in a few short years. And electricity to the billion and a half with out it, sanitisation, clean water, all the diseases of the poor, etc, etc could be eradicated.

And if an AGW hurricane, or flood, or whatever does comes along in the developing world in 20,30,40 years, infrastructure, wealth will protect the populations whether it is of natural attribution, or a supposed 5% (or whatever) future AGW hurricane…

So the big question of the email leak comes down to motive..

Michael Mann appears to be trapped in his own thinking, as the ‘enemies’ he imagines are very much a USA centric construct (probably very true 15 or so years ago).

But WORLD emission have gone up 40% in the last 20 years.. and it is not because of the WEST.. China and India, and all the developing countries have clearly chosen economic growth over AGW. And thus Kyoto fails, and any sucessor, as no developing country will cut any emissions, which in reality is energy production needed for growth.

(‘developing world’ – even though China now emits more per capita than France, en par with Italy, and will very soon race ahead of the EU average and India, et al will do all they can to match this growth – and have lots of coal)

Leo Hickman of the Guardian has I think a very good initial article about Climategate 2.0, put together very quickly no doubt, and I think very balanced for the Guardian (far better than the BBC’s Richard Black initial reaction, who makes no mention of content), ie he picks out one of the key issues regading FOI, and mentions perhaps a non (‘evil’ motive) . Balanced enough to no doubt get criticism from everybody probably 😉 , so Leo is doing something right.

I would LOVE to hear George Monbiot reaction, to the new Phil Jones, FOI related email content, as he was very strong worded about Phil Jones – FOI behaviour… the latest emails really clarify this: (extracts)

“I’ve been told that IPCC is above national FOI Acts. One way to cover yourself and all those working in AR5 would be to delete all emails at the end of the

“With the earlier FOI requests re David Holland, I wasted a part of a day deleting numerous emails and exchanges with almost all the skeptics. So I have virtually nothing. I even deleted the email that I inadvertently sent. “- Jones writing to UEA Information Officer

This rather worried Osborne, who was prompted to remind Jones ‘not to say deleting’ in face of FOI, that would be illegal, but housekeeping ……. 😉

Hi Phil!

re. your email to Dave Palmer [which he copied in his response to you andcc’d to me, Keith & Michael McGarvie, and which has hence already been multiply copied within the UEA system, and therefore will probably exist
for a number of months and possibly years,and could be released under FOI if a request is made for it during that time!]

I assume that you didn’t delete any emails that David Holland has requested (because that would be
but that instead his request merely prompted you to do a spring clean of various other emails that hadn’t been requested, as part of your regular routine of deleting old emails.

If that is what you meant, then it might be a good idea to clarify your previous email to Dave Palmer, to
avoid it being misunderstood.

The way things seem to be going, I think it best if we discuss all FOI, EIR, Data Protection requests in person wherever possible, rather than via email. It’s such a shame that the skeptics’ vexatious use of this
legislation may prevent us from using such an efficient modern technology as email, but it seems that if we want to have confidential discussions then we may need to avoid it.

I shall delete this email and those related to it as part of my regular routine of deleting old emails! – Osborne

It’s quite funny really,  a very careful email that may be FOI’d itself reminding Phil that he meant ‘spring cleaning’ not deleteing (well that’s my perception of it). They really do not understand the spirit of this law – motive blind.

Ben Pile of Climate Resistance, takes a look at the ‘Influence Durban’ question, and makes the contrast to all the ‘frightening message and scientific ‘press releases’ (full reports to follow much  😦 )  also no doubt designed to influence Durban.

I’m sure much more will be said…..

The best place to watch is probably Bishop Hill, Climate Audit and Watts Up With That and quite possible Dot Earth and even the Guardian. The Telegraph take should be interesting (Gray vs Delingpole, Lean vs Booker)  and the Daily Mail as more information comes out..

But the abosulte majority of the public, politicians and even scientists will be oblivious to it, the real world has real pressing issues. Even if this event gives perversly Durban  a spike of interest, the public/politicians, etc will still have moved on..

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The Ice age really was coming

Originally blogged at Realclimategate

Despite protestations to the contrary, from todays climate scientists, the ice age reallywas threatened by the scientists, politicans and the media in the 70’s and 80’s.  Stephen Schneider in particular gets a mention. CO2 was to blame!!.

Over at Bishop Hill  (h/t) there are lots of comments about the scientific literature, journals,media, politicians and TV of the time,frightening the public with a coming ice age, with almost identical themes (as seen in the video) that we see with man made climate change (warming this time) popular delusion

….this is now denied 😉

my example, is the fact that it made it into popular culture and also that so many people remember, this is all ignored as well..

from the iconic 1970’s song – ‘London Calling’ – (The Clash)

The ice age is coming, the sun’s zooming in
Continue reading

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Independent – Green Schemes are ‘Wide Open to Major Corruption’

Originally blogged at Realclimategate

Both The Independent and The Telegraph write today about a Transparency International Report entitled – Global Corruption Report: Climate Change.

Whilst corruption in Carbon Markets, Carbon Credits, windfarms scams, Solar power fraud and many other clever money making mechanisms, is not new news.

It will be hard for governments and environmental groups to ignore this report. Not least when it spells out that many of the poor countries ‘affected by climate change’ are also amongst the most corrupt.

The Independant chose the headline: Green Schemes are ‘Wide Open to Major Corruption’

 “Corruption is threatening global steps to combat climate change, a new report from Transparency International (TI) warned yesterday. Billions of pounds will be plundered and wasted, it says, unless stronger measures are introduced against embezzlement and misappropriation.” – Independent

The Telegraph chose the headline: Climate Change spending at risk of fraud and Corruption

The report states: “Where huge amounts of money flow through new and untested financial markets and mechanisms, there is always a risk of corruption.”

It warns: “Corruption risks are also high because of the level of complexity, uncertainty and novelty that surrounds many climate issues.”- Telegraph

Who needs fraud and corruption anyway to make money out of ‘climate change’?

Also reported today by the BBC, The Times and The Telegraph a piece of news which highlights the massive subsidies behind wind turbine electricty generation

The Telegraph: Wind farms paid £900,000 to switch off for one night

Wind farms operators were paid £900,000 by the National Grid to disconnect their turbines for one night because the electricity was not needed.

The six Scottish wind farms were asked to stop producing electricity on a particularly windy night last month as the National Grid was overloaded.

Their transition cables do not have the capacity to transfer the power to England and so they were switched off and the operators received compensation. One operator received £312,000, while another benefited by £263,000

Thus this  story highlights the complete mess that the UK electricity infrastructure and UK Energy policy is in alongside the unsustainable amount of subsidies going to all those companies involved in the greenrush for renewables.

“Hasty attempts to meet targets for renewable energy mean some Scottish wind farms are now in the extraordinary position of not only printing money when they generate, but printing it even faster when they throw their energy away,” he told the Sunday Times.

The average turbine is understood to generate power worth about £150,000 a year, but is awarded incentives in the form of subsidies worth £250,000.” – Telegraph (The Times is behind a paywall)

I expect ever higher electricity bills in the UK may eventually focus the politicians thoughts on ALL the issues above.

Links: (you can buy the report)

The Transparency International Report  – Global Corruption Report – Climate Change

BBC – Scots windfarms paid cash to stop producing energy

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Blogger Burn Out – its good to take a break

Originally blogged at Realclimategate

I haven’t stopped blogging, just been taking a break and have taken the time for a rethink.

If It’s good enough for James Delingpole (three weeks  R & R) following his Press complaints result, I thought time to take a step back and relax.  Time to enjoy the Easter Holidays with my family, and despite all my least expectations spend a day enjoy watching the Royal Wedding.  It helped having a very enthusiastic 6 year old daughter asking all sorts of questions.

Plus, my wife’s business has been shut for a month for major building works, and a complete redesign and refit. Thus NO income…

Real world intervening with blogging..

I will continue but at a slower pace and less comments elsewhere.

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