Friday, April 25, 2008

Why Is There A RealSkeptic?

I will answer all of your questions here. Just ask them.

The simple answer is that I do not know of a site which focuses on AGW in the way that I do, nor do I see any self-policing at pro-AGW sites with regard to their treatment of those with whom they disagree. In short, there is too much condescension, too little respect for those who do not toe the line.

My position on AGW is that it is real, verifiable and happening now. Most people have no appreciation for how rapidly the warming will escalate, so that, for example, we will have as much warming in the next fifteen years as we had in the previous 30 years. Most people fail to grasp the power of acceleration.

This includes climate scientists themselves, including Dr. James Hansen of NASA-GISS, one of my absolute heroes for his pioneering work in bridging the gap between scientific and public understanding of AGW. Unfortunately, Dr. Hansen consistently underestimates the power of acceleration, causing him to keep refining his estimates for safe levels of CO2 downward. This give the appearance that he is not sure of the science. Perhaps he is not.

However, these ever-downward projections for the line of catastrophic consequences does lead to one other concern: there is no way we are going to avoid reaching that point. Dr. Hansen wants the world to stop burning coal, but the world is going to keep burning coal. IPCC and others want the world to start burning less oil each year. The world is going to continue burning more oil each year. Governments want to stop cutting down forest. They are failing to achieve that, no matter what incentives they try.

In other words, we are in a bad place right now. Too many people are just simply confused about the science of AGW, and too many who do "get it" with regard to the science, are blind as bats when it comes to what can be achieved through policy.

So, welcome to the place where we are all skeptics. I'm not looking for people to tell me AGW isn't real; there are plenty of places you can go to kick that around. I'm happy to debate the rate of acceleration with you, and I'm happy to debate the likely outcomes of various social policies with you.

I want to inject rationality back into this discussion. No matter where I go: RealClimate, Rabbett Run, Climate Change Debate, I encounter not only irrationality but a sense of entitlement to mock and disdain those with whom they disagree.

I'm not smart enough to know who has a point and who doesn't; not until I have heard them through and given fair consideration to their view. You'll get that here. If you make a claim, you'll get the chance to back it up - and you'll be expected to. There are no sacred cows here, and there is no intellectual hierarchy.

As I said, one restriction: you cannot deny AGW itself. Beyond that, we are all skeptics, and we have some important things to discuss.

25 April 2008