Three Positive Ways to Counter Climate Denial

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.

  1. 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…..
  2. 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 ……
  3. 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….
  4. Following Hurricane Katrina, it was predicted that would be an upward trend in these severe storms. The evidence can be found……
  5. 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…..
  6. One of the most visible signs of warming is the disappearing snows of Kilimanjaro. This continuing trend can be found…..
  7. 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…
  8. 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.

Kevin Marshall

Update 29/05/13 23.56

To encourage debate , left the following comment at

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 at 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.

Best Regards
Kevin Marshall

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.

Leave a comment


  1. Brian H

     /  02/06/2013

    Wake me if Climate Science manages to execute even one of those strategies.

  2. tckev

     /  02/06/2013

    You may also be interested in W.M. Briggs, who is Adjunct Professor of Statistical Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
    Two recent blog entries that you may like are –
    Oh Good, We Have Consensus About Climate Change – at
    Parliament, The Met Office, And Statistically Significant Temperature Change – at

    He is logical, thorough, and witty


  3. It would be fair, if
    you held climate science “skeptics” to the same standards you expect of the scientists, and other messengers, who are trying to explain what the science is telling us.

    • manicbeancounter

       /  12/07/2013

      Climate “skeptics” are not a homogenous group. The commonality between them is that they deny the catastrophe. That is, they cannot see firm evidence for an anything that amounts to more than a non-trivial problem. Those pieces of evidence that did point to something significant, have been undermined. Some easily (Himalayan Glaciers, 50% reduction in crop yields in some African countries by 2020) and some by more sophisticated means (Steve McIntyre on various hockey sticks). I would point readers to your recent article about warming being more than cherry-picked surface temperatures. The case for impending catastrophe is more than have a selective interpretation of recent data, and hypothesised consequences of recent trends, if continued.

      Let me give an analogy. In Britain in the 1970s, the Provisional IRA brought their terrorism to mainland Britain, most notably by bombing pubs (bars) in Guildford and Birmingham. The police, like the general public, were justifiably enraged. They quite possibly let their judgement be clouded, and ended up imprisoning the wrong people. The innocent were imprisoned and the guilty went free. It is when there is the most passion that we should listen to the other side of the argument. By giving voice and allowing challenges, the general public will be more confident in the guilty verdict. Climate Science is increasingly finding ways to exclude criticism and create prejudice against those who disagree. In law, such prejudice and dogma will ultimately undermine the rule of law. In climate science, it leads to increasing distrust of anything that is said.

  4. Are you for real?

    What does anything you wrote have to do with understanding what’s happening upon our planet?

    mvc wrote: “Climate “skeptics” are not a homogenous group.”
    That ain’t near enough of a dodge!

    Are you ready to call denialist liars out on their lies ?
    Or are you willing to continue pretending that misrepresenting science is an OK part of a constructive dialogue?

    • manicbeancounter

       /  14/07/2013

      Let me explain where I am coming from. Are any of the following statements incorrect?
      1. Climate is naturally highly variable, and chaotic. Even without any anthropogenic influences extreme weather events happen.
      2. Global average temperatures have increased by less than 1K in the past 200 years. This is a tiny fraction of the rise that climate models predict will happen if the rise in greenhouse gas emissions is not severely constrained. Further the catastrophic consequences of warming will not rise linearly with temperature, but at a much faster rate.
      3. There is a subject area called the “philosophy of science”. This has different definitions of what is science and non-science.
      4. The quality of individual scientific papers is highly variable. Separately the significance of individual papers in any academic discipline, whether scientific or non-scientific (e.g. theology, philosophy and history) is highly variable.
      5. Non-experts tend to be convinced by a good track record. If two people claimed that can make a living by betting on the horses, most would be more convinced by someone who had become a multi-millionaire by betting than someone who had not, but claimed to have this infallible scientific formula. Similarly, many revere Warren Buffet, as (despite the odd failure) he has made billions of dollars through successfully identifying undervalued businesses.
      6. That there is a difference between the positive (what is) and the normative (what ought to be).
      7. That in many areas such as medicine, economics or politics, identification of a problem does not automatically point to a solution. So identifying cancer, AIDS, economic depression, famine, or murderous tyrannies does not point to a solution to these problems.
      8. That people are more likely to follow the consensus of experts, than a few mavericks. But that significant scientific breakthroughs have often come about through overturning the overwhelming current consensus. (e.g. Galileo, Semmelweis, Darwin, Einstein and Barry Marshall).
      9. That in the legal area, many miscarriages of justice have occurred from justifiable indignation (e.g. reaction to terrorism, peadophile attacks) and or built-in predjudices (black v white in pre-1970 USA), sexual orientation or on social class (believing the articulate member of the establishment in Victorian Britain against an uncouth, uneducated labourer from the slums).

      Do I support denialists and liars? No I do not. For instance, I strongly support the historical idea that around 6 million jews died in the Nazi genocide (along with many gypsies, gays and people with learning disabilities. I believe the best way to combat those who deny this genocide is firstly to clearer state the overwhelming evidence. It is from a number of different historical sources. Then to compare with an accurate portrayal of those who deny that millions who denied. Giving the deniers a voice, but encouraging comparing and contrasting with the pro-holocaust historians, would show the holocaust deniers had a much weaker case. In fact, it would clearly show they were in denial of accepted facts. I cannot see the strong case for catastrophic global warming, which is why many resort to denying critics a voice, or going to the lengths of Stephan Lewandowsky of inferring that critics are blinkered and psychological deluded.

      • Well that litany of word-dancing around the facts is a pretty good example of being blinkered or psychologically deluded in itself.

        You write: “I cannot see the strong case for catastrophic global warming, which is why many resort to denying critics a voice, or going to the lengths of Stephan Lewandowsky of inferring that critics are blinkered and psychological deluded.”

        You can’t see any strong case for catastrophic weather events? Are you for real? Have you been paying any attention to tempo of increasingly extreme weather events these past decades? This as a result of less than 1° pathetic degree of warming… {to imply 1° is tiny and unsubstantial is ‘talking from ignorance!’ }.

        As for your apparent dislike for Lewandowsky – reading your posts I can see why you’d want to say that.

        PS. Hope you don’t mind me sharing from a recent essay: “What about the “Enablers” of the Denial Machine?”

        “… For all appearances this public has abandoned critical thinking skills and the pursuit of genuine learning – in favor of Holly-world storytelling where facts are selected and adjusted to the needs of the story teller’s plot… in this case, that Reaganomics principles reign supreme over all other considerations and that we can disregard our Earth’s processes.

        Unfortunately, we live on a real planet, a miraculous planet, like no other. Yes, climate has always changed… we also know our climate has been in a few thousands year old “goldilocks zone” enabling a complex society to thrive.

        Why then, can’t Republicans realize that means this wonderful rare climatic era is most precious and needs to be protected?”

        • manicbeancounter

           /  16/07/2013

          To call somebody deluded and blinkered, you first need to be sure that you are on the side of the truth. Historically those who have based their beliefs on the inferiority or delusions of those do not share those beliefs have been the most wrong – both factually and morally. A strong scientific theory does not need to resort to denigrating and misinterpret opponents. They can win people over by showing the positive aspects that I show above. Your comments, in line with the climate consensus , only demonstrate that you are insecure in your beliefs and do not want to be challenged.

          Two points where I believe you are wrong on climate – extreme weather and significance of the recent warming.

          Extreme Weather
          I do not think that extreme weather can ascribed to human-caused climate change. There have been many failed predictions by climate scientists on this score. This includes
          – In 2000 England that children will never see snow.
          – After Hurricane Katrina in 2005 predictions about hurricanes getting worse.
          – After the 2003 European heatwave, predictions that these will become frequent. Since that Britain has seen wetter summers. The current heatwave is the worst since that date.
          – The British Met Office consistently gets predictions wrong. In April 2012 after a dry winter it forecast the conditions to continue to the end of the year. Two weeks later the drought broke, and Britain had its wettest year since 1910.
          – In Australia there was a belief the long drought of last decade was the start of a permanent shift to a drier climate. They were wrong.
          The IPCC are admitting now there is no scientific evidence of a trend. In the AR5 draft:-

          Changes in many extreme weather and climate events have been observed, but the level of confidence in these changes varies widely depending on type of extreme and regions considered.

          Significance of recent warming.
          One cause of much scepticism is Steve McIntyre’s taking apart of various hockey stick graphs, allegedly demonstrating that C20th warming was exceptional. Last year it was an Australasion Temperature reconstruction that got taken apart. Higher quality reconstructions show a lack of significance of C20th warming. Further, the vast majority of temperature reconstructions covering a least a millenium show that sometime in the medieval period temperatures were warmer than today. Going further back, where I live in Northern England was covered a huge ice sheet 20,000 years ago, implying an average temperature well below zero. Yet today the annual average temperature is about ten degrees.

  5. mbc writes: “To call somebody deluded and blinkered, you first need to be sure that you are on the side of the truth.”
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    Right, so while denialist play pretty word games and endless dog-chasing-tail repetitions of exposed and rejected arguments ~ as though solid pragmatic learning has nothing to do with this dialogue ~ the beat goes on:

    Climate change: How do we know?

    Global Climate Change Indicators
    NOAA – National Climate Data Center

    How we know human activity is causing warming

    Here’s and interesting read from Art Markman Ph.D.

    Who Rejects Evidence of Global Climate Change?
    Posted: 05/23/2013

    mbc writes: “Your comments, in line with the climate consensus , only demonstrate that you are insecure in your beliefs and do not want to be challenged.”

    Nonsense, I been watching this debate for forty years, with a little objectivity it’s painfully obvious that science skeptics are the ones who are consistently wrong… which in itself isn’t so bad… If only they’d learn from their mistakes – yet for some ungodly reason they seem to think endlessly rewording and repeating lies is OK.

    Now that’s a clear sign of political interests and not learning is what their “agenda” is all about.

  6. As for the “semi-retired mining consultant” Stephen McIntyre, he does science in a vacuum and his peer-review comes from his under-educated blog audience who demand that manmade global warming is a hoax. What do real scientists and other statisticians have to say about his work?
    ~ ~ ~

    Here’s a closer look at the man’s voracity:

    RICHARD LITTLEMORE | Sun, 2009-12-13 12:06
    McIntyre: Misrepresenting the stolen emails

    #6 Cuccinelli cites a study by Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick published in the social science journal Energy and Environment that erroneously criticized Mann et al.’s hockey stick.
Cuccinelli fails to note that more than a dozen independent reconstructions reached largely the same conclusions as Mann and his colleagues did. He also fails to mention that papers published in a number of journals concluded that McIntyre and McKitrick did not invalidate Mann et al.’s original research. They found that McIntyre and McKitrick introduced their own errors that ultimately led them to a flawed conclusion.
It is worth noting that Mann and his colleagues included caveats in their original paper and said the question of the Earth’s temperature changes needed further study. And they did make minor updates to their hockey stick paper in response to valid criticism by McIntyre and McKitrick. That fact demonstrates the self-correcting nature of science, and cannot possibly be considered evidence of fraud.

    Nature (International Weekly Journal of Science)
    “A fair reading of the e-mails reveals nothing to support the denialists’ conspiracy theories. In one of the more controversial exchanges, UEA scientists sharply criticized the quality of two papers that question the uniqueness of recent global warming (S. McIntyre and R. McKitrick Energy Environ. 14, 751–771; 2003 and W. Soon and S. Baliunas Clim. Res. 23, 89–110; 2003) and vowed to keep at least the first paper out of the upcoming Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Whatever the e-mail authors may have said to one another in (supposed) privacy, however, what matters is how they acted. And the fact is that, in the end, neither they nor the IPCC suppressed anything: when the assessment report was published in 2007 it referenced and discussed both papers.”

    Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, part 1: In the beginning
    Posted on February 4, 2010

    McIntyre provides fodder for skeptics
    Posted on December 11, 2009

    Another “climategate” whopper from McIntyre
    Posted on January 20, 2011

  7. Brian H

     /  08/08/2013

    Alarmists report “what the science is telling them”? It’s clearly the reverse: what they are telling science (to report).

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