Facts are not enough …

I cannot believe these people, are they intent on scuttling their own case?

In yet another own goal, and once again at the Conversation, which our taxes are paying for …

A colleague of mine recently received an invitation to a Climate Council event. The invitation featured this Tim Flannery quote: “An opinion is useless, what we need are more facts.”

My first thought was that my colleague was taking the piss. Tim Flannery is an experienced science communicator, but that phrase made my jaw drop. It was apparently meant in earnest, but it’s wildly off the mark.

The quote is ludicrously, appallingly, almost dangerously naïve. It epitomises the reasons we are still “debating” climate science and being overwhelmed by climate skeptics/deniers/contrarians in the public space.    Rod Lamberts, Deputy Director, Australian National Centre for Public Awareness of Science at Australian National University.

One of the traps folk are prone to fall into is to think of those that do not share our opinions as a homogenous other, and since they don’t share our opinions a stupid homogenous other.

What on earth is a climate denier? The climate is a fact of life … no one denies it. Climate change is quite another thing … and again climate change is a fact of life, no one with any brain denies that, the geologic record is rich in evidence that climate changes. Anthropogenic global warming? OK, now we have a debate.

A recent study of the skeptics in that debate finds them to be well educated, engaged and well informed, most have tertiary qualifications. They are well aware that an there is an inconvenient difference between the warmist predictions and the measured temperature. Aware too that the earth has been warming since the little ice age and aware that along the way there have been several periods where the rate of warming matched that of the late 20th century …

Subatlantic_Had

Also aware that there has now been no significant warming in 17 years despite an increase in atmospheric CO2. There is, in fact, no convincing evidence that the climate is doing anything different from its previous behaviour at all, temperature may continue to trend up or even down. There is a considerable amount of evidence that up will provide a net benefit to human productivity and it is abundantly clear that previous down turns in temperature have been rather bad for civilisation. Nonetheless the Deputy Director argues …

The fact is that the time for fact-based arguments is over.

We all know what the overwhelmingly vast majority of climate science is telling us. I’m not going to regurgitate the details here, in part because the facts are available everywhere, but more importantly, because this tactic is a core reason why climate messages often don’t resonate or penetrate.

and a little bit of circular reasoning …

How much more evidence do you need than the singular failure of scientific facts to convince deniers that humans are buggering up the climate?

… leads inexorably to the Orwellian conclusion …

What we need now is to become comfortable with the idea that the ends will justify the means. We actually need more opinions, appearing more often and expressed more noisily than ever before.

No, Rodney, the debate is going against you because the opinions you express are derived from computer models that are delivering predictions that simply do not match the facts. Shouting at me will not re-educate me.

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