Anyone who reads this blog will know that I am deeply sceptical of the whole global warming scare. That stems from trying to compare and contrast the arguments through understanding different positions. One element I found coming to the fore is trying to shut down any criticism by maligning of opponents through untruths, derogatory comments and questioning of motives. A recent example of is Paul Syvrets’ attack on Jo Nova, a Vince Whirlwind’s follow up to my comment.
Suppose for one moment that alarmists of being on the side of science, and hold the fundamental truth about the coming apocalypse unless the human race repents of its evil ways. As climate science is based on public relations, I would suggest that the whole approach of attacking opponents and shutting them out of the media is a PR disaster. Tell somebody they are wrong and smearing them will get their backs up and help persuade others you are not on the side of truth. Now scientific models are too difficult for the lay public to understand, and outputs ambiguous to the uninitiated.
Let me suggest three, very positive, ways of winning over people from the “false prophets of climate denial”.
First is building up a track record in predictions
As I have often read, only true climate scientists can understand the science. But people will understand when through the using the climate models clear, bold predictions are made that later come true. Nobody will expect a 100% hit rate, but a good track record will be sufficient to convert the most waverers.
Let me help out with some examples, which I am sure some climate scientists can complete.
- More than twenty years ago the models predicted a continuing upward trend in global surface temperatures if greenhouse gases emissions were not severely curtailed. Emissions have exceeded our worst expectations so…..
- In 2000 in both Britain and Germany, it was predicted that children would grow up no knowing what snow was. The decreasing can trend can be found ……
- Following the massive heat wave in Europe in 2003, it was predicted that would extreme heat waves would become more frequent. This trend is shown….
- Following Hurricane Katrina, it was predicted that would be an upward trend in these severe storms. The evidence can be found……
- In 2007 the UNIPCC predicted that climate change could lead to a drop fall in crop yields by up to 50% in some African countries by 2020. The latest evidence to support this prediction consists of…..
- One of the most visible signs of warming is the disappearing snows of Kilimanjaro. This continuing trend can be found…..
- One of the most dire predicted consequences of global warming is accelerating sea level rise. The latest data demonstrating this trend can be found at…
- One of the biggest contributors of sea level rise is melting of the polar ice caps. Velicogna and Wahr 2006 predicted that the contribution to sea level rise from Greenland alone would rise from zero to 7mm per annum between 2002 and 2012. The actual data to support this is to be found……
Second is that the doubters believe that climate scientists practice pseudo-science.
To counter this
- Show that the methods are in the tradition of the greatest scientists like Newton, Pasteur, Einstein and Feynman. Where different, explain why climate science’s methods are superior, or more appropriate.
- Define clearly the boundaries of climate science, and the different skills and specialisms within it. People might then start appreciating what how complex and diverse the subject actually is.
- Demonstrate how climate science learns from the different philosophies of science.
- Demonstrate how climate science utilizes basic distinctions of philosophy. For instance the differences between open and closed questions, between positive and normative statements and between a priori and empirical statements.
- Show how, like in the field of medical science, climate science is advancing and over-turning or modifying previously held views through better quality analysis.
- Climate science needs to draw upon a number of areas. Demonstrating how the science draws upon specialists in statistics, forecasting and other disciplines where it overlaps.
- Show how proper controls are being implemented and adhered to in order to prevent any conflicts of interest from, for instance, the same people creating temperature sets who are also the trying to vigorously promote their theories.
Third is the support of policy controls
Medical practitioners and pharmaceutical companies fully realise that whilst medication properly diagnosed can deliver huge benefits, it they can also generate great harm if there is not proper diagnosis, or the incorrect medication, or dosage of that medication was proscribed. Similarly, there would be great concern if the armed forces did not have proper control of their weapons, so that rogue elements could seize control of those weapons to start an insurrection.
From a policy point of view, the UNIPCC in the Summary for Policymakers in 2007 that
Peer-reviewed estimates of the social cost of carbon in 2005 average US$12 per tonne of CO2, but the range from 100 estimates is large (-$3 to $95/tCO2).
Given that it would be totally immoral to impose policy whose consequences are more damaging that the issue it is supposed to alleviate, proposals for the proper implementation and control of policy are to be found ……
I welcome any discussion or debate on these issues. If you have more examples, or help with links, please use the comments.
Update 29/05/13 23.56
To encourage debate , left the following comment at http://watchingthedeniers.wordpress.com/six-aspects-of-denial/
In any realm of life, calling people names, or making claims that they think are false will only get their backs up. Further blocking them from any access to the media will generate the idea they are a victimized minority.
The best public relations present positive images about one’s own ideas. Negative images of opponents always backfire. I have made three suggestions how this might be done.
First, loudly proclaim the predictions of climate change that have come true.
Second, counteract the claims of pseudo-science by demonstrating that climate science not only builds of the greatest scientists and philosophies of science, but enhances them.
Third, disperse the claims about pursuing high-risk policies, by proposing safeguards and audit checks against them being usurped by profiteers and swindlers.
Update 30/05/2013 03.00
Watching the Deniers says:
Nice comment. Thanks for posting it.
I hope this leads to positive discussion, and recognition that there are legitimate positions that can be taken contrary to one’s own.
Update 30/05/2013 00.19
Have also contacted desmog.blog at http://www.desmogblog.com/contact_us with the following.
As you are experts in public relations, you must realize that negative images against opponents will create a group of “victims” who will garner support from the alleged “oppression” by the media. Much better is to present positive image of climate science. I have suggested three ways this could be done at my blog.
Update 02/06/2013 20.40
Posted to the Guardian here:-
Why all this negativity? Imagine if a similar public relations campaign was launched against those who deny that six million Jews died in the Holocaust? Headline would be
“Deniers of the Holocaust are wrong because they disagree with 99.9% of expert historians.”
It would have just created an underclass of believers in denial, claiming that the “truth” was being suppressed. I know that projections about the future are more difficult to persuade people of than historical facts, but a positive public relations campaign might include:-
1. Short-term predictive successes. A track record of bold predictions that turn out true is highly persuasive.
2. Showing that climate science is building on traditions of the greatest scientists and philosophies of science.
3. Third is the support of policy controls. Many nay-sayers point to alleged policy failures that enrich businesses at the expense of the poor. Campaigning for independent auditing of policy outcomes would show concern for wider society.