How to argue with a global warming "skeptic"



A few of my brain cells just died of despair watching that.

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More stupid than placing a man on the moon within 10 years in the 70s with a computer equivalent to what we have today as pocket calculators?

I doubt it wouldn’t be possible to make us zero carbon within 12 years if there was the will


Politically impossible. The man on the moon mission didn’t leave Americans without a job.
To do it millions would be put out of work in some areas.
Food costs could well rocket.
The US doesn’t have good social welfare so it just wouldn’t fly. Even now with historically low unemployment they have a conservative leader.

However it’s great to have a target. Some countries such as the UK have ambitious goals for a non carbon fuelled electrical grid and already made good progress.
A lot of the energy demand has been shifted to Asia though.

I remember reading that costs go up a lot at a certain percentage of renewables. That’s due to the need to change the grid, add back up power, trying to provide energy to places with little renewable resources, provided sustained power to industrial users…

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I doubt you’ll read this:

How the Polar Vortex is Connected to Human-Caused Climate Change

…but in any case, this meme from last winter is the ultimate shutter-upper to science denialists on the topic of extreme winter weather:


I doubt you will read this Vay :grin: Is it all wrong?


@vay, and with due respect I think this sentence sums it up.

I issue a challenge to anyone to provide a compelling argument that counters my analysis of the historical record and the prediction of CO2 starvation based on the 150 million year trend

Actually much of what he says makes sense, I also understand the politicization of in this case GreenPeace, he is not the only scientist to leave, I can’t remember the name but another left over genetically modified foods, which is an area GreenPeace might be very wrong on, I don’t know, haven’t looked into it too deeply but realize the potential benefits.

150 million year trend in a place where there were no SUV’s is very different to a 50 year trend. Urmmm about 0.000003% of the timescale.

Yes, more happened over that timescale, but we are talking about quick and rapid change here.


Correct - the grid and modern industry evolved together, such that they’re now pretty well matched. The source and the load are working together in an economically-efficient manner.

Solar and wind is fundamentally different. Although it’s very predictable, its output doesn’t match what we’ve become accustomed to doing with electrical power. Yes, you can theoretically solve this with ginormous banks of batteries, hydro, and the like, but a much better method is to charge people according to instantaneous power availability (‘demand billing’). They’ve been mumbling about this for years, and I was involved with a company about 15 years ago trying to develop the infrastructure for this, but the power retailers are fundamentally not interested. It turns out that inefficiency makes the largest profits. I can recall one particular guy (a bigwig at a well-known UK energy company) basically shrugging and saying “why would we want to do what you’re suggesting? We can fuck the consumer over today and tomorrow with the system we’ve got now, and that’s good enough for us”.

If the leaders of third-world countries had any brains, they’d be building this sort of next-generation infrastructure (and industry) right now, and leaving the old economies in the dust: solar plus demand billing is inherently cheaper than fossil fuels, by a big margin, and it can only get cheaper still. But they don’t, so they won’t.


Ugh, if you’re going to challenge me to read something, could it be something other than a speaker at a GWPF event?

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) is the United Kingdom’s most high-profile climate denier group. It opposes action to mitigate climate change.

Sourcewatch - the Global Warming Policy Foundation

Basically what we have here is yet another expert (in this case not even that) in a field other than climatology, spouting off. This guy may know his business and his astronomy, just like Scott Adams knows his software engineering (and cartoon drawing), Jordan Peterson knows his psychology and Freeman Dyson knows his physics. But what none of them seems to know is Feynman’s ol’ first principle of skepticism, which is (paraphrasing) not to let yourself fool yourself, yourself being the easiest person to fool. Experts in one field who try to practice genuine skepticism, give the benefit of the doubt to other experts in other fields. If they do otherwise, they get sent to the corner with big dunce hats on their heads for letting their egos get carried away.

Now in case I’m going to be accused of some formal fallacy (while making an informal argument), please feel free to choose one point at a time from that massive Gish gallop and I will respond as best I can.


This is actually a manifestation of the Dunning and Kruger effect, whereby someone highly qualified in one field believes (wrongly) that his expertise translates into another. He has some pretty bizarre views in other areas:

I pointed out that chlorine is one of the elements in the Periodic Table, one of the building blocks of the Universe and the 11th most common element in the Earth’s crust. I argued the fact that chlorine is the most important element for public health and medicine. Adding chlorine to drinking water was the biggest advance in the history of public health and the majority of our synthetic medicines are based on chlorine chemistry.

If chlorine weren’t in the periodic table, that’d make it kryptonite or unobtainium, and I don’t think even Greenpeace think that. The fact that it’s naturally abundant (in stable compounds, note) doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to drink it [naturalistic fallacy].

What rather shocked me about that speech is that he clearly doesn’t know how science works. The anthropogenic hypothesis is the best fit for the observations. It may not be correct, but it remains a better fit than any competing hypothesis. We therefore accept it as good-enough until it is shown to be false.

Energy/development policy is a whole different issue in any case, only tenuously related to the truth (or otherwise) of the AGW hypothesis. Conflating the two is the biggest mistake the deniers are making.


Finley , good points you raise and I accept the fallacies in some of the argument ;there is a belief that “ skeptics” do not wish to adapt in practical ways to contribute, individually at least, to affirmative action . Solar , recycling and reducing packaging , conservation … so many things are common sense . I worry about the direction we take … EV,s for instance certainly take out pollutants , but in terms of overall effect , seem to be stage 2 . That energy needs to be produced in a much cleaner way as the first priority . Maybe it will be one day . I guess I have seen so many “ statistics” manipulated and weighted to suit agendas , it makes one doubt more . The people who predicted the world ending 30 years ago , 20 years ago , 10 years ago , didn’t help the science much . At the end of the day it’s exactly the people with less scientific knowledge, that need to be convinced . Scepticism is not all bad . Sorry typed an a phone .


Scepticism is fine, most people i think realize the need for the right to give up the ghost of anthopogenic global warming is not real. On the other side and I think it’s made even more clear by AOC’s recent GND, is that it is used to push a socialist agenda.

If I said I wanted to tackle the problem of Global warming by making everyone wear a party hat and eat bubble gum ice cream every Wednesday, people would rightly call my suggestion out as having nothing to do with tackling global warming.

AOC’s new GND, has universal healthcare as a bullet point on a long list of other lofty claims like “jobs for everyone” and benefits for everyone that can’t or doesn’t want to work. That has nothing to do with climate and everything to do with the structure of a society.

Maybe the problem is we are leaving it to the politicians to prioritize and decide what should or should not be done or what can be done most efficiently. Because their goals don’t seem to be actually tackling Climate change itself. Theirs is shaping society in a fashion they deem most acceptable to themselves.


Climate alarmist=flat earthers?



BBC News - Climate change: Death of the ‘grandfather of climate science’

In 1975, he published a paper in the journal Science that had a profound effect on thinking about the connection between carbon dioxide and temperatures around the world.


Reporter: I’ll be honest, your book leaves me in a kind of paralysis. I understand the scope of the problem, can see the horrors over the horizon, but there’s nothing much I can do about it. I take your points about collective action, but I’m deeply cynical about our political situation and question whether our system will respond with anything like the urgency required. I suspect a lot of people feel the same way.

Writer: I think complacency is a much bigger problem than fatalism. And as someone who was awakened from complacency into environmental advocacy through alarm, I see real value in fear. I don’t think that fear should be the only way that we talk about this issue, I think that obviously there are other parts of the story, and other people tell them very well. But I know, as one person, that being scared about what is possible in the future can be motivating.


From the author of:

I’m sure before the interview he checked all the relevant material in order to offer his readers a fair and balanced article.


I was going to say. I wouldn’t trust vox for news.


Well tjsnks for the links. Indeed, I do believe rampant uncontrolled unbriddled capitalism does degenerate the environment.


I’m sure you read the article and book before forming your opinion ?

Guessed not.