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# Six stages of AGW skepticism

Hi,

this is only kind of semi-serious, but could it be possible to ask people commenting on the blog to do an attempt to refrain from the following arguments against AGW and to concentrate on the science instead? I guess a similar list must already exist somewhere more extensively, but after Steve Easterbrook's post I kind of recognized the first four statements coming up.

(1) It's not true.

(2) Freeman Dyson doesn't believe the propaganda.

(3) It's (maybe) beneficial.

(4) It's not a real problem.

(5) We can't do anything about it.

(6) It's too late to still do something about it.

I added (5) and (6) as a pun on Kohlberg's 6 stages of moral development.

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1.
edited February 2013

I like this list a lot. Maybe I should blog about it!

I've often said that people love jumping straight from "the problem is so small that it's not necessary to do anything" to "the problem is so big that it's too late to do anything", because while these positions sound like opposites, they are the same when it comes to the action we take: namely, none.

On recent Successful predictions of climate science thread I tried to ask everyone to focus on the science, but it seems certain people feel the need to indulge in arguments like "30,000 people with undergraduate degrees don't believe in global warming".

It's okay to see these arguments a few times, and show people how to debunk them. But I need to post more articles on the science global warming, to get past this initial phase. If people keep making the same arguments, I can legimately say they're getting too repetitious.

I would like to post an article on whether global warming has slowed down recently and, if so, why. The science here could be very interesting, but I don't quite know enough. If I post such an article, it will make certain people want to argue...

Comment Source:I like this list a lot. Maybe I should blog about it! I've often said that people love jumping straight from "the problem is so small that it's not necessary to do anything" to "the problem is so big that it's too late to do anything", because while these positions _sound_ like opposites, they are the same when it comes to the action we take: namely, **none**. On recent [Successful predictions of climate science](http://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/successful-predictions-of-climate-science/) thread I tried to ask everyone to focus on the science, but it seems certain people feel the need to indulge in arguments like "30,000 people with undergraduate degrees don't believe in global warming". It's okay to see these arguments a few times, and show people how to debunk them. But I need to post more articles on the science global warming, to get past this initial phase. If people keep making the same arguments, I can legimately say they're getting too repetitious. I would like to post an article on whether global warming has slowed down recently and, if so, why. The science here could be very interesting, but I don't quite know enough. If I post such an article, it will make certain people want to argue...
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2.

I like this list a lot. Maybe I should blog about it!

Thanks. Right now I think I was actually inspired by RealClimate, but then their list rearranged so that it's not most used on top, but that it represents an evolution in the skeptic thinking.

I would like to post an article on whether global warming has slowed down recently and, if so, why.

An (extremely) naive idea of mine would be to ascribe it to glacier melt (e.g. in Greenland). In an (extremely) simplistic setting of a 0D earth, the energy supplied during melt has to go into latent heat, and cannot yield a temperature rise. So I'm interested to hear if there's a basis of truth in this and if not, how this simple idea fails.

If people keep making the same arguments

I have the impression that many discussions are not about advancing each other's understanding of the science, but rather about influence the readers. So if the reader doesn't know this argument has been used before...

Comment Source:> I like this list a lot. Maybe I should blog about it! Thanks. Right now I think I was actually inspired by RealClimate, but then their list rearranged so that it's not most used on top, but that it represents an evolution in the skeptic thinking. > I would like to post an article on whether global warming has slowed down recently and, if so, why. An (extremely) naive idea of mine would be to ascribe it to glacier melt (e.g. in Greenland). In an (extremely) simplistic setting of a 0D earth, the energy supplied during melt has to go into latent heat, and cannot yield a temperature rise. So I'm interested to hear if there's a basis of truth in this and if not, how this simple idea fails. > If people keep making the same arguments I have the impression that many discussions are not about advancing each other's understanding of the science, but rather about influence the readers. So if the reader doesn't know this argument has been used before...
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3.
edited February 2013

I think you're missing one of the big "positions":

• We don't understand what's going on, therefore any position on whether it's a problem is not needed.

(This is fed into by the "X doesn't agree about AGW" -- whether X is a lot of individuals or one big "recognisable name" -- since it suggests that since some people disagree, we don't understand stuff.) One of the problems with trying to progress with people is that they often think that "x hundreds of hours of lab/computer simulation work" on one side balances with a "well, I'm sure if I tried I could replicate that result with something much simpler which would not imply AGW". (I'm much more interested in engaging with people who've put in the effort to figure out the details of their objections even if I think they've done it wrong than I am in someone who might have a possibly valid point who thinks just mentioning the high level idea is enough that you have to take it into careful consideration when balancing various evidences.)

Comment Source:I think you're missing one of the big "positions": * We don't understand what's going on, therefore any position on whether it's a problem is not needed. (This is fed into by the "X doesn't agree about AGW" -- whether X is a lot of individuals or one big "recognisable name" -- since it suggests that since some people disagree, we don't understand stuff.) One of the problems with trying to progress with people is that they often think that "x hundreds of hours of lab/computer simulation work" on one side balances with a "well, I'm sure if I tried I could replicate that result with something much simpler which would not imply AGW". (I'm much more interested in engaging with people who've put in the effort to figure out the details of their objections _even if I think they've done it wrong_ than I am in someone who might have a _possibly valid point_ who thinks just mentioning the high level idea is enough that you have to take it into careful consideration when balancing various evidences.)
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4.
edited February 2013

JB wrote:

On recent Successful predictions of climate science thread I tried to ask everyone to focus on the science, but it seems certain people feel the need to indulge in arguments like "30,000 people with undergraduate degrees don't believe in global warming".

The contrarian comments were to be expected. But they were of high quality and got nice responses (e.g. Feynman's 65 engineers). The comment thread offers lots of food for climate denial psychopathologists. So my internets alter ego, Florifulgurator, couldn't help going off-topic a little.

Hm... actually I wanted to apologize for not 100% focussing on the science. Now I'm no longer sure. :-)

Comment Source:JB wrote: > On recent [Successful predictions of climate science](http://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/successful-predictions-of-climate-science/) thread I tried to ask everyone to focus on the science, but it seems certain people feel the need to indulge in arguments like "30,000 people with undergraduate degrees don't believe in global warming". The contrarian comments were to be expected. But they were of high quality and got nice responses (e.g. Feynman's 65 engineers). The comment thread offers lots of food for climate denial psychopathologists. So my internets alter ego, [[Florifulgurator]], couldn't help going off-topic a little. Hm... actually I wanted to apologize for not 100% focussing on the science. Now I'm no longer sure. :-)
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5.

I accept your apology, regardless of whether you apologized. :-)

That thread went well, overall: without any climate skeptics/deniers getting involved, there isn't enough 'excitement' to get certain readers interested.

Comment Source:I accept your apology, regardless of whether you apologized. :-) That thread went well, overall: without any climate skeptics/deniers getting involved, there isn't enough 'excitement' to get certain readers interested.
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6.

@ David:

I think you’re missing one of the big “positions”

yes, that's a good suggestion -- thanks! I think it would fit between (2) and (3).

Comment Source:@ David: > I think you’re missing one of the big “positions” yes, that's a good suggestion -- thanks! I think it would fit between (2) and (3).
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7.
edited April 2013

I'd love, with your permission, to reblog the list of seven to my site, www.gamanrad.wordpress.com if that was ok.

Let me know, and thanks. Great list!

Comment Source:I'd love, with your permission, to reblog the list of seven to my site, [www.gamanrad.wordpress.com](www.gamanrad.wordpress.com) if that was ok. Let me know, and thanks. Great list!
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8.
edited April 2013

As far as I'm concerned you're welcome to use "our" list (or a variation thereof -- seven is just a convenient number, it's only semi-serious, and variations on this theme can probably be found in other places too)

But please mention the name "Azimuth Project" somewhere with a link to our homepage or to John Baez his wordpress blog.

Actually I would now formulate the list as follows:

(1) It’s not true.

(2) Freeman Dyson doesn’t believe the propaganda -- nor do 30'000 undergraduates.

(3) We don’t understand what’s going on, therefore any position on whether it’s a problem is not needed.

(4) It’s (maybe) beneficial.

(5) It’s not a real problem (compared to war, poverty,...)

(6) We can’t do anything about it.

(7) It’s too late to still do something about it.

Comment Source:As far as I'm concerned you're welcome to use "our" list (or a variation thereof -- seven is just a convenient number, it's only semi-serious, and variations on this theme can probably be found in other places too) But please mention the name "Azimuth Project" somewhere with a link to our homepage or to John Baez his wordpress blog. Actually I would now formulate the list as follows: (1) It’s not true. (2) Freeman Dyson doesn’t believe the propaganda -- nor do 30'000 undergraduates. (3) We don’t understand what’s going on, therefore any position on whether it’s a problem is not needed. (4) It’s (maybe) beneficial. (5) It’s not a real problem (compared to war, poverty,...) (6) We can’t do anything about it. (7) It’s too late to still do something about it.
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9.

Sure, go ahead and reblog it, Lucy! Since you're now a member of the Azimuth Project, you're certainly free to spread any interesting things you find here, or on the Azimuth Wiki, or the Azimuth Blog. It would be nice to provide a link, either to the Azimuth Wiki:

http://www.azimuthproject.org/azimuth/show/HomePage

or the Azimuth Blog:

http://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/

Here's my version of the 7 stages:

(1) Global warming isn't happening.

(2) It's just a hoax - over 31,000 scientists have said it isn't happening.

(3) We don’t understand what’s going on, so it's premature to take any position.

(4) It's a natural phenomenon, and it may even be beneficial.

(5) It’s not a real problem (compared to war, poverty, etc.).

(6) It would be extremely hard to prevent it.

(7) By now it’s too late to stop it.

Comment Source:Sure, go ahead and reblog it, Lucy! Since you're now a member of the Azimuth Project, you're certainly free to spread any interesting things you find here, or on the Azimuth Wiki, or the Azimuth Blog. It would be nice to provide a link, either to the Azimuth Wiki: [http://www.azimuthproject.org/azimuth/show/HomePage](http://www.azimuthproject.org/azimuth/show/HomePage) or the Azimuth Blog: [http://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/](http://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/) Here's my version of the 7 stages: (1) Global warming [isn't happening](http://www.skepticalscience.com/evidence-for-global-warming.htm). (2) It's [just a hoax](http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-scientific-consensus.htm) - [over 31,000 scientists](http://www.skepticalscience.com/OISM-Petition-Project-intermediate.htm) have said it isn't happening. (3) We [don’t understand what’s going on](http://www.skepticalscience.com/settled-science.htm), so it's premature to take any position. (4) It's a [natural phenomenon](http://www.skepticalscience.com/its-not-us-basic.htm), and it may even be [beneficial](http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-positives-negatives.htm). (5) It’s not a real problem (compared to war, poverty, etc.). (6) It would be [extremely hard to prevent it](http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-too-hard.htm). (7) By now it’s too late to stop it.
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10.

It would be nice to have good links for items 5 and 7.

Comment Source:It would be nice to have good links for items 5 and 7.
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11.
edited April 2013

Since there are 5 stages of grief, maybe it would be good to have 5 stages of global warming denial:

(1) Global warming isn't happening - it's just a hoax.

(2) We don’t understand what’s going on, so it's premature to take any position.

(3) It's a natural phenomenon, and it may even be beneficial.

(4) It would be extremely hard to prevent it.

(5) By now it’s too late to stop it.

(I eliminated reference to Freeman Dyson since lots of people don't know who he is, and I want this to be extremely easy to understand.)

Comment Source:Since there are 5 stages of grief, maybe it would be good to have 5 stages of global warming denial: (1) Global warming [isn't happening](http://www.skepticalscience.com/evidence-for-global-warming.htm) - it's [just a hoax](http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-scientific-consensus.htm). (2) We [don’t understand what’s going on](http://www.skepticalscience.com/settled-science.htm), so it's premature to take any position. (3) It's a [natural phenomenon](http://www.skepticalscience.com/its-not-us-basic.htm), and it may even be [beneficial](http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-positives-negatives.htm). (4) It would be [extremely hard to prevent it](http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-too-hard.htm). (5) By now it’s too late to stop it. (I eliminated reference to Freeman Dyson since lots of people don't know who he is, and I want this to be _extremely easy to understand_.)
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12.
edited April 2013

On G+, Irina Tcherednichenko pointed out a piece by Steve Running called 5 stages of climate grief:

The first stage, DENIAL, are the people that simply do not believe the science that the earth is warming, or secondarily that humans are the cause. Despite seeing a 50 year record of global atmospheric CO2 rising every year since 1957, and global air temperatures of the last dozen years in a row being the warmest in a millennium, they dismiss these trends as natural variability. These people see no reason to disturb the status quo. Most people rightfully started at this stage, until presented with convincing evidence. That convincing scientific evidence recently summarized in the 4th IPCC report has, according to opinion polls, dramatically reduced the number of people in Stage 1.

Many people jump directly from DENIAL to Stage 4, but for others, the next Stage 2, is ANGER, and is manifested by wild comments like "I refuse to live in a tree house in the dark and eat nuts and berries." Because of my public speeches, I receive my share of hate mail, including being labeled "bloviating idiot," from individuals that clearly are incensed at the thought of substantially altering their lifestyle. My local newspaper has frequent letters to the editor from people angry to the point of irrational statements hinting darkly about the potential end of modern civilization.

Stage 3 is BARGAINING. When they reach this stage many people (such as self-righteous radio talk show hosts) who used to be very public deniers of global warming begin making statements that warming won&quot;t be all that bad, it might make a place like Montana &quot;more comfortable.&quot; It is true that the building heating requirements for my hometown Missoula have decreased by about 9% since 1950 due to milder winters. At this stage people grasp for the positive news about climate change, such as longer growing seasons, and scrupulously ignore the negative news, more intense droughts and wildfires, and no glaciers in Glacier National Park by 2030. Most importantly, at this stage people are still not willing to change lifestyle, or explore energy solutions that are less carbon intensive. They seem willing to ride out this grand global experiment and cope with whatever happens.

Many people at my lectures have now moved to Stage 4, DEPRESSION. They consider the acceleration of annual greenhouse gas emissions, the unprecedented speed of warming, and the necessity for international cooperation for a solution, and see the task ahead to be impossible. On my tougher days I confess to sinking back to Stage 4 myself.

The final stage ACCEPTANCE, are people that acknowledge the scientific facts calmly, and are now exploring solutions to drive down greenhouse gas emissions dramatically, and find non-carbon intensive energy sources. Two factors are important in moving the public from DEPRESSION to this ACCEPTANCE stage.

First are viable alternatives to show that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is possible without the end of modern civilization. It is very heartening to see wind turbines, LED lighting, thin film solar and hybrid cars on the market right now, not some vague future hope. Second is visionary national leadership, a "Marshall Plan" level of national focus and commitment, so everyone is contributing, and the lifestyle changes needed are broadly shared, in fact becoming a new norm. Progress on that front has not been good so far. An obvious flaw in this analogy is that many people are simply ignoring the global warming issue, a detachment they cannot achieve when they are personally facing cancer.

Comment Source:On G+, Irina Tcherednichenko pointed out a piece by Steve Running called [5 stages of climate grief](http://www.friendsof2rivers.org/dr-steve-running-5-stages-of-climate-grief.html): > The first stage, DENIAL, are the people that simply do not believe the science that the earth is warming, or secondarily that humans are the cause. Despite seeing a 50 year record of global atmospheric CO2 rising every year since 1957, and global air temperatures of the last dozen years in a row being the warmest in a millennium, they dismiss these trends as natural variability. These people see no reason to disturb the status quo. Most people rightfully started at this stage, until presented with convincing evidence. That convincing scientific evidence recently summarized in the 4th IPCC report has, according to opinion polls, dramatically reduced the number of people in Stage 1. > Many people jump directly from DENIAL to Stage 4, but for others, the next Stage 2, is ANGER, and is manifested by wild comments like "I refuse to live in a tree house in the dark and eat nuts and berries." Because of my public speeches, I receive my share of hate mail, including being labeled "bloviating idiot," from individuals that clearly are incensed at the thought of substantially altering their lifestyle. My local newspaper has frequent letters to the editor from people angry to the point of irrational statements hinting darkly about the potential end of modern civilization. > Stage 3 is BARGAINING. When they reach this stage many people (such as self-righteous radio talk show hosts) who used to be very public deniers of global warming begin making statements that warming won&amp;quot;t be all that bad, it might make a place like Montana &amp;quot;more comfortable.&amp;quot; It is true that the building heating requirements for my hometown Missoula have decreased by about 9% since 1950 due to milder winters. At this stage people grasp for the positive news about climate change, such as longer growing seasons, and scrupulously ignore the negative news, more intense droughts and wildfires, and no glaciers in Glacier National Park by 2030. Most importantly, at this stage people are still not willing to change lifestyle, or explore energy solutions that are less carbon intensive. They seem willing to ride out this grand global experiment and cope with whatever happens. > Many people at my lectures have now moved to Stage 4, DEPRESSION. They consider the acceleration of annual greenhouse gas emissions, the unprecedented speed of warming, and the necessity for international cooperation for a solution, and see the task ahead to be impossible. On my tougher days I confess to sinking back to Stage 4 myself. > The final stage ACCEPTANCE, are people that acknowledge the scientific facts calmly, and are now exploring solutions to drive down greenhouse gas emissions dramatically, and find non-carbon intensive energy sources. Two factors are important in moving the public from DEPRESSION to this ACCEPTANCE stage. > First are viable alternatives to show that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is possible without the end of modern civilization. It is very heartening to see wind turbines, LED lighting, thin film solar and hybrid cars on the market right now, not some vague future hope. Second is visionary national leadership, a "Marshall Plan" level of national focus and commitment, so everyone is contributing, and the lifestyle changes needed are broadly shared, in fact becoming a new norm. Progress on that front has not been good so far. An obvious flaw in this analogy is that many people are simply ignoring the global warming issue, a detachment they cannot achieve when they are personally facing cancer.
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13.

Maybe we need a list that branches off somewhere between 3 and 4, depending on the personal commitment, with one side moving toward depression (I am involved but what can I do about it) and another side toward "it would be too hard to solve" or "science will solve the problem" (as a cloak for: I don't want to be involved).

Comment Source:Maybe we need a list that branches off somewhere between 3 and 4, depending on the personal commitment, with one side moving toward depression (I am involved but what can I do about it) and another side toward "it would be too hard to solve" or "science will solve the problem" (as a cloak for: I don't want to be involved).
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14.

I think I'll try popularizing the simple list pretty soon. There are different things one can aim for, such as a realistic flow-chart of how people's thinking changes - which would be extremely useful and interesting - or a simple snappy "meme" that makes people think a bit - which is what I was aiming for in post 12.

Comment Source:I think I'll try popularizing the simple list pretty soon. There are different things one can aim for, such as a realistic flow-chart of how people's thinking changes - which would be extremely useful and interesting - or a simple snappy "meme" that makes people think a bit - which is what I was aiming for in post 12.