miscellaneous

Scrap those commenting guidelines, here’s an ethos instead

Last week I wrote some commenting guidelines, as there has been a spate of aggressive comments over the last few weeks. Having written them, I realise that I wasted my time. Responsible commenters don’t need them, and irresponsible commenters will ignore them anyway.

So I’ve scrapped my initial set of policies and I’ve decided to simply restate the ethos of this blog – what it is, and why I write it.

I started Make Wealth History four years ago with my brother Paul. It was born out of our own respective blogs, where we were discussing global issues with family and friends. Since those were more personal sites, our diversions into the arms trade or global inequality were a little out of place amongst the holiday photos and movie reviews. We started a specific site for our more serious stuff, and this is it. (It’s still for friends, through email subscription and Facebook syndication.)

In our first post, almost 1,500 posts ago, we stated our position. The developed world is consuming at an unsustainable level while billions live in poverty. Since it is impossible for all seven billion of us to live a consumer lifestyle, the only hope for ending poverty is for the richer countries to slow down and live more simply. This is the reasoning behind the title, an observation that nobody else seemed to be talking about. As we said in that first post, “we don’t have any answers, but as we look for them, we’ll be sharing what we find here.”

And that’s what we’ve been up to, looking for answers to that vast conundrum at the heart of the human progress story. When we started, we didn’t know of many other people asking the same questions. I’m now aware of hundreds, thousands even. I have met many of them, some of them I now call friends. It’s been a huge learning experience.

At root, this blog is an exploratory conversation, an enquiry. If you think it’s a worthwhile one, then welcome. If you don’t, then it’s not for you.

To come back to comment guidelines, there are two specific things I should say. First, I intend to keep this blog as open as possible. The site’s usefulness depends in large part on being open to new ideas and provocative questions, so it would be my loss if I didn’t. But this is not a paid for service, a discussion board or a community forum. It’s a private blog, and that means that commenting is an invitation and not a right. If you don’t want to participate in the spirit in which it is offered, that invitation will be withdrawn.

Secondly, it is the challenges that we face that moved me to start the blog. The responsibility for handling climate change, resource depletion, and inequality has fallen to us. If you want to argue that these problems aren’t real, then you’re too late and you’re in the wrong place. I had those conversations years ago, and unless you’re bringing something new, there are other sites where those debates are still running. This is a blog about how to fix things, not a debate about whether or not things are broken.

To be honest, the above explanation is for my benefit really. With a baby in the house, time is a lot more pressured. I have neither the hours nor the inclination to go round and round in circles like the debates have in the past. Hopefully this clarifies the purpose of the blog. And just to keep my feet on the ground, here’s the xkcd cartoon Byron sent me recently.

24 comments

  1. Congrats Jeremy. I almost didn’t dare to comment anymore, fearing to be labeled as an “embarrassing ally”, which seems worse than even the worst opponent… and I had those conversations decades ago. Seems like am getting old – and occasionally grumpy and impatient.. ;-).

    Yesterday I saw a TV documentation about religions in the US, and I learned about American protestants (Southern Baptists) that they oppose social security because the fate of the Individual should be left to God. The fundamental agreement in this creed apparently also is that if someone ended up in a position where he is wealthy and capable of exploiting others that, too, is Gods will. As I mentioned in one thread, I have had discussions with die hard creationists in the past, and since then I learned that it is impossible to discuss with a believer. For long time I had thought that there is a common ethical ground for all religions, from Christianity over Islam and Judaism all the way to Buddhism. But this is not so. At their core most religious traditions – as different as they are – stress helping the poor and disenfranchised, emphasize caution, encourage to tread softly, and a creed that claims all is good as it is and has to remain as it is because it is Gods will and one must not act against Gods will seems to be at odds with the common ethical ground of most other traditions. I do not see how these ethics can be derived from the teachings of Jesus the Christ, the man who mingled with the lower class of his time, the man who fed the poor, who taught the sermon of the mount. It more strikes my as if the core of Christianity in southern Baptism was adjusted to match the fundamentalist laissez faire “free” market religion. There is no mercy. There is no compassion. It is devoid of individual responsibility because God/The Invisible Hand is in charge of everything. The winner takes it all and he does so by direct entitlement from God/The Market. There is no room for discussion. Just as I will never compromise my deeply engraved conviction that the strong are OBLIGED to protect the weak. That is what I was taught by my grandfather. That is what I am trying to teach my children. Both my grandfathers also were traumatized by war, like so many in their generation, and another fundamental part of my upbringing was: do everything you can – EVERYTHING – to avoid war. War is the worst that can happen. The environment was not high on my Grandparents agenda, as they were busy building a nation from scratch and nursing the scars on their bodies and souls. But the ethical grounding I inherited from this war surviving generation of simple working class men and women can easily be extended to protecting nature as well, as my grandfather kept saying “It is easy to destroy something, but it always is hard – or impossible – to fix it again.” My father’s father also explained to little Stefan that if you take more, than you need, you take it from someone else. Hard lessons from a man who survived 7 years in the Gulag after his boyish mind and soul were torn to tatters in the battle of Stalingrad. Treat others as you like to be treated. Or better: treat others as you like your children to be treated. Non negotiable. Help the weaker. Non negotiable. Do not take what is not yours. Non negotiable. Take care of “(…) the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” None negotiable. Avoid terminal global risks. Non negotiable. So unfortunately if I encounter someone who is fundamentally convinced that risking nature, human health and life and even the stability of the global biosphere at large for financial gain or personal religious or ideological reasons, we stand on opposite sides of a deep divide that simply cannot be bridged. In the US this divide is very imminent. Rob Kall of the progressive OpedNews recently published some of the hate mails he keeps receiving from conservatives, and I get the impression that the meaning and definition of what constitutes a “conservative” is changing. If I think of my grandfathers again: they, too, called themselves conservatives. But it seems to have meant something different. It meant talking honestly – and tough if required – while looking the opponent straight in the eye. It did, indeed, mean to protect the young and the weaker. It also included a certain frugality, and certainly respect for others was a very important part of their form of conservatism. Sending anonymous hate mails and smearing others with ad hominem attacks – even personal threats I experienced – would not have been on their agenda.

    In Germany, by the way, the Green party also includes many otherwise rather conservative individuals. The world’s first green Minister President Winfried Kretschmann (of the state of Baden Württemberg, home of Mercedes Benz) is a catholic conservative. No contradiction in contemporary Germany.

    1. Thanks Stefan, these things are non-negotiable for me as well. I’m also puzzled and angered by those who have co-opted market fundamentalism into their religion. What’s ironic is that they are essentially preaching social darwinism, while Darwin himself is practically the anti-christ to the same people.

      I’ve let the trolls get to me in the last few weeks. This is a restatement of what matters, and I’m going to take a zero tolerance approach in future.

      1. >>What’s ironic is that they are essentially preaching social darwinism, while Darwin himself is practically the anti-christ to the same people.<<

        Indeed. I also spotted a few self-contradictory tendencies. Someone wrote elsewhere: "It is absolutely amazing how accurately their accusations describe their own behavior."

        Keep going.

        1. Thanks, Stefan – an interesting personal statement and I agree with much of it. And, yes, many of these things are non-negotiable for me also: I agree that war is the worst that can happen (I’ve experienced it), I agree about helping the poor and disenfranchised, emphasising caution and treading softly, I agree about compassion and individual responsibility, I agree about protecting nature (your grandfather’s comment that “It is easy to destroy something, but it always is hard – or impossible – to fix it again” was wise), I agree about treating others as you like your children to be treated, I agree about helping the weaker, I agree about not taking what is not yours and I agree that taking care the needs of the present should not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. I too stand on opposite sides of a deep divide that simply cannot be bridged from anyone who is fundamentally convinced that it is right to risk nature, human health and life and even the stability of the global biosphere at large for financial gain or personal, religious or ideological reasons. I believe in talking honestly – and tough if required – while looking the opponent straight in the eye – and about protecting the young and the weaker. I agree about frugality and a respect for others. I am wholly opposed to ad hominem attacks.

          These things matter for me also. And it’s they – informed by a reverence for the application of the Scientific Method as exemplified by Darwin – that have persuaded that the dangerous AGW hypothesis is not only misguided and wrong but also damaging: not least to environmentalism itself. Also they have persuaded me to be far more optimistic about Mankind’s prospects and the positive contribution that wealth creation can provide to those prospects than is put forward by this blog with its concerns about Western consumption and resource depletion. Therefore I trust that Jeremy, who so far has been admirably tolerant of such views, will not include me – and others like me – amongst his “trolls” and will allow, even welcome, comments on his blog that express reasoned disagreement with his own beliefs. To that end, I thought his draft guidelines were admirable and believe that abandoning them is regrettable.

          1. Robin, you’re still here after all these months. I’m obviously comfortably with having my views challenged – but I won’t have them mindlessly attacked. The folks I’ve banned weren’t just kicking up dust over climate change. They were weighing in against every issue I brought up, even though it was painfully obvious that they knew nothing about many of them. (see peer to peer currencies, corruption, etc) No doubt the two people concerned have declared themselves skeptic martyrs over at Climate Change Dispatch. The truth of it is that I can put up with occasional dumb comments and occasional anger, but I’m not going to tolerate both of them together every day of the week. It’s like having an angry idiot shouting through your letterbox when you come down the stairs in the morning.

            As for the guidelines, I’ve left them in place in the ‘about’ section of the website, but they were an experiment and I said so when I posted them – see the title of the post where I introduced them. I gave them a week and they made no difference, so I’m trying a different tack. They still represent my ideals for discussion here, but they are inadequate for controlling irresponsible commenters.

  2. OK Jeremy – I don’t really agree with your your view on “those folk”. I think your reaction to what I see as robust criticism is unfortunate. (Criticism prompted I fear by the appalling way they have been treated for years on “alarmist” sites – I know, I’ve experienced it too and it’s seriously unpleasant) . But it’s your blog and your decision.

    1. You agree with them on climate change. Fair enough, but do you really want to defend their comments on fair trade, peer to peer currencies, or vulture funds? It is their reaction to those posts that prompted me to change my approach and ban them, not the climate posts.

      These are really tricky questions, impossible to moderate, and you should think long and hard about whether you want to stand by those I’ve banned. I know from my incoming links that they are whining about my decision on Climate Change Dispatch. I’m not a masochist and I know better than to read those threads (or the emails for that matter, which I am deleting unread) But you can read them if you wish, and then come back and tell me if they’re really the kind of people you want to associate yourself with.

      And as I already said, those guidelines are still the standard I expect. If we lived in an ideal world, they would be enough. As we don’t, I need a tougher line.

      If you’ve never had the experience of attempting to moderate an online space, Wikipedia’s discussion on the thankless task is worth a browse: http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/What_is_a_troll%3F

      1. I’m talking only about climate change. I’m unaware of their views on fair trade, peer to peer currencies, or vulture funds. But I don’t read all your posts so must have missed them. I visit CCD occasionally. So far as i can see commentators stick to the topic (climate change) and I see nothing particularly objectionable there. As I said, it’s your blog and your decision.

        As to moderation, I’ve been most impressed by the light moderation on the sceptic sites I visit – e.g. Bishop Hill (Andrew Montford) and Watts Up WT (Anthony Watts) – and the uncommitted sites such as Climate Etc (Judith Curry) and Climate Audit (Steve McIntyre). I’m particularly impressed at how Andrew and Anthony have no problem with dissenting views but are rigorous in snipping anyone who is abusive, uses bad language, is off topic, engages in ad hominem attack etc. – and that applies equally to supporters and opponents. Sometimes it means snipping some words only from a post. Of course, it’s easier for Anthony who has a team of moderators and obviously you do not. For what it’s worth here are McIntyre’s blog rules which are quite interesting: http://climateaudit.org/blog-rules-and-road-map/. Of course there’s a vast difference between his blog and yours: his is very narrowly focussed on AGW science and especially on statistics whereas you cast your net very wide – well beyond AGW. So I appreciate your difficulty. But I do recommend that you make light moderation your aim.

        It won’t be easy. But here’s a question: your blog has been much more lively and interesting in recent weeks – do you really want it to become little more than an echo chamber for those who agree with you? I hope not.

        1. Light moderation is my aim. As I said above, I intend to keep this as open as possible. I see McIntyre shares my difficulties: “Unfortunately, light moderation opens the door for ad homs and taunting, which quickly involves everybody. I don’t have time to monitor everything so my handling of taunting has been inconsistent: sometimes I’ve let it go because the person is just making a fool of himself, sometimes I’ve got fed up and deleted it.”

          As for the site being more lively and interesting – I disagree. It’s been more active, but the shouting has stifled any possibility of intelligent conversation. I’ve actually had several people tell me in person or by email that it was out of hand.

  3. Has my posting of evidence refuting the statement “The science is more robust than ever.” offended you and Dave? Seeing as you locked the thread?

    I only presented evidence of the IPCC’s lack of data supporting the AGW theory, the words of the UN’s man Otto and challenged the opening statement of the article with evidence. I’m to take it you find that “Out of Hand”?

    Are these comments not also out of hand? Your the moderator you decide.”Jeremy, I suggest stop giving ignorant climate change denier’s your time by responding to their absurd comments.”
    “I read Amirlach’s comment and I thought ‘call the UN – somebody on the internet just disproved AGW’. Made me laugh.” ” The shouting has stifled any possibility of intelligent conversation.”

    Despite the evidence the IPCC cannot produce any data supporting AGW? And no one has presented any evidence i am wrong. Is shutting down the converstion justified simply because it offends your point of view?

    I have strong opinions on the subject which i try to back up with facts. I’m not trying to be offensive. I was called the Denier first remember? Funny second. Then Unintelligent third?

  4. Ok, first of all – calm down. You’re taking everything personally, and that’s not necessary.

    I closed the thread because it had become a conversation about why I wasn’t prepared to have the conversation you and Robin wanted. Since Dave had subscribed to comments, he was now essentially getting spammed as we went on. Dave is a valued reader and someone I’ve collaborated with in the past, so I took his suggestion that we call time on that thread.

    Now, to your initial point. I don’t believe you have proven, in a single paragraph on an internet forum, that AGW has no evidence. I could justify why I believe that, but as I’ve said before, we’d be here for weeks, the thread would run to hundreds of comments and you and Robin would not accept my conclusions. I already know your objections. I could list them right now. So how about we don’t waste each other’s time?

    No doubt you see that as ducking the question, but I’ve had these conversations. I’m not ignorant of the skeptic side of the debate. I want to talk about climate change developments and solutions without returning to first base every time I bring it up. Have you read the post above? It says it all really, but what I’m essentially demanding is that we agree to disagree.

  5. “You’re taking everything personally, and that’s not necessary.”

    No? I havn’t heard any refutation of the insults and slurs sent our way. Poor Dave got “Spammed” but we get called idiots and rediculous deniers. OK.

    I never claimed to have disproved AGW in a single paragraph, you did. My claim backed with empirical evidence is that the AGW proponents cannot produce any evidence AGW theory is valid. Big difference. If the best scientists PIC has cannot produce any evidence supporting their claims i really don’t expect you to.

    The argument i’m making is the reason this effort is failing to convince the public at large is exactly summed up in this statement.

    “I want to talk about climate change developments and solutions without returning to first base every time I bring it up.”

    The recent PIC EIKE debate “Is a development in the Climate Change debate”. Denying the fact there is no evidence supporting “AGW” and moving on to “Solutions” is rediculous. There is no first base.

    And on the “Solution” theme the words of the UN’s man Otto show proof the AGW game is not at all about Co2 Reductions, it’s about “Redistributing” them.

    This inherent dishoesty is exactly why Alarmists have lost the support of the public.

    “It says it all really, but what I’m essentially demanding is that we agree to disagree.”

    Fine enough. I’ll only demand an explanation as to why the like/dislike polling was removed and ask you return it.

    Then ill stop “Spamming” poor Dave.

  6. So that’s what’s got you upset? I’ve noticed that posts with lots of comments are taking a while to load (Red Jeff mentioned it the other week too) so I want to streamline things a little. I removed that particular feature because WordPress have added a ‘most popular content’ pop-up that shows top rated comments, pages and posts. Since I only had ratings for comments, it was a two-thirds redundant feature and that made it a good candidate to remove to speed things up.

    If you really want it, I might bring it back. If I do I will need to introduce a ratings facility for posts and pages too. I haven’t decided yet. I want to watch loading times first.

    I’ve also changed settings to allow more links in a comment, and I’m testing the optimum number of nested comments. I’m also trying out a couple of new things to minimise the number of comments caught by the spam catcher.

    And you’re not spamming Dave, because comments on that thread aren’t running any more.

  7. I’m not that upset really it was said more as a sarcastic poke towards the implied insults he posted. His labeling of posts contrary to his views as Spam and such.

    The explanations for your ratings options and features seem plausible enough. It just looked strange it went away when it did.

  8. I’m disappointed, Jeremy. I had come to see MWH as a site that, unlike other AGW supporting sites, would exchange views with and respond to reasonable requests from commentators with differing opinions. It seems I was wrong.

    Some background. I’ve been interested in the AGW issue for about three years. At first, I was inclined to believe that what I’d heard about the science was accurate. However experience had taught me to be careful of assertion so I looked for supporting evidence. In particular, I went beyond the IPCC’s Summary for Policymakers (to which people kept referring me) and looked at the IPCC’s references to research – looking for empirical evidence supporting the two key claims: (1) that, because of his GHG emissions, mankind was the principal driver of late 20th century warming and in particular (2) that, if such emissions continued, we – and the planet – faced severe problems, even catastrophe. I reviewed, in particular, chapter 9 of WG1. And I didn’t find that evidence. Nor could I find it elsewhere. So it asked for help from proponents of the hypothesis. I was disappointed. Instead of straightforward answers, I got: non-answers, silence, indifference, evasion, rudeness, hostility (some very unpleasant), ad hominem attack, reference to useless websites, claims that “we’ve discussed it all before”, demands that I “disprove” the hypothesis, censorship, bans on further discussion … etc. Anything except an answer. That changed me from a lukewarm supporter to a sceptic – but open to persuasion. I still am.

    You posted an article recently (“The sizzle”) that opened with the bold and unambiguous claim, “The science is more robust than ever”. But, when asked – not unreasonably – to provide supporting evidence for that claim, you found all sorts of reasons for not doing so. And now you’re telling us that, although you know the answers (you “had the conversations years ago”), you won’t provide them because “we’d be here for weeks” discussing them – i.e. another version of the usual refusal.

    I don’t understand what’s going on. Here we have one of the most important questions of our time – some say the most important – yet those demanding action simply refuse to produce the evidence supporting their position. What I’m requesting should be easy enough: a reference to peer-reviewed research verifying – by citation of empirical evidence (reproducible and testable by independent researchers) – the key claims I’ve mentioned above, especially the second. In other words, no more than is normal scientific practice. Surely someone who feels so strongly about an issue that they are prepared (as you are) to make strong unambiguous public claims about it and to insist that urgent and expensive global action is necessary, should be able to cite the scientific rationale supporting their position? But it seems not.

    Perhaps you’ll understand now my (and the many other sceptics’) suspicion that the evidence I’m requesting doesn’t actually exist. It’s a suspicion you’ve reinforced.

    1. @Robin: From your words I gather that, if we are to speak in religious terms, you are more of an AGW (I prefer: AGCCC = Anthropogenic Global Climate Change Contribution) agnostic. But to answer for myself: I cannot constantly lead the same discussions. I have no time. I have a job. I have a family. And for the people who work in the field it gets annoying over time to be asked the same questions over and over again. I also saw atmospheric scientists being labled as criminals publicly. It hence doesn’t surprise me that many of them get chicken skinned, develop a certain hostility and cannot easily distinguish anymore between sincere requests and orchestrated attacks. And the latter duly exist.

      In any case there are high level forums where the science IS discussed openly and the public is not locked out. An example is the annual “Climate” online conference organized by the Hamburg University of Applied Science, UNEP and the World Meteorological Organization, among others. The discussions there are tough, factual and open. Anyone can also submit abstracts (closed now for 2011).

      See: http://www.climate2011.net/en/start.

      In fact tough and controversial debate is a normal part of the scientific process, only that regarding a) atmospheric radiative forcing (aka greenhosue effect), b) the existence of a global warming trend and c) the existence of a significant human contribution to that trend those controversies are a thing of the past and, details and new insights notwithstanding, madeway to the famous “Consensus” (literal: common view or perception). Perhaps Pierrehumbert’s new 680 page book “Principles of Planetary Climate” would enlighten you?

      1. Stefan: I’m well aware that “tough and controversial debate is a normal part of the scientific process”.That’s of course exactly how it should be. And it’s true that I’ve asked my question (see above) “time and time again” – without getting an answer. Yet mine’s a simple enough request, i.e. please refer me to the empirical evidence.

        To be sure that I’m making myself clear, I’ll spell out (again) the second (and most important) of my two requests:

        “Please cite the peer-reviewed research (published in an appropriate journal) that verifies – by reference to empirical evidence, i.e. real-world evidence, reproducible and testable by independent research – the hypothesis that continued emission by mankind of CO2 and other “greenhouse” gases will cause severe problems, even catastrophe, for mankind and Earth’s ecosystems.”

        The answer would be a simple reference to a published paper. It would not be a reference to debate or discussion or to a treatise on climate science – and it would certainly not be (yet another) appeal to “consensus” or authority.

        The fact that I’m unable to get that simple answer makes me suspicious that the evidence may not exist.

        1. Robin: I presume you know well that the answer is not simple, but complex. Links to many works would be required, e.g. papers examining the magnitude and trends of the various internal and external factors that influence planetary climate and global temperature. So where to begin? Do you deny that warming occurs in the first place? In this case we’d have to look at temperature records and discuss how they are established. Are you one of those who say that the Earth has been warmer before and hence this is no reason to assume difficulties? In this case we’d have to look into palaeo climates and, again, the changed internal and external parameters on earth plus waht actually happened during phases of rapid climate change. Perhaps you don’t believe that radiative forcing exists in the first place or you think it is a small effect that is not relevant? In this case: atmospheric dynamics, radiation physics and spectroscopy. It gets worse when it comes to assessing impacts (which never works without models and projections – that’s the very nature of planning and risk management in every arena). And so on. Quite a bit of work. I pointed out Pierrehumbert’s Cambridge University Press book because it covers most of the relevant areas on the climate side. There will be no single paper covering the entire range of atmospheric science and environmental risk assessment. The field simply is to diverse.

          I originally come from the astronomy and planetary science side and hence read many of the authors in this field early on. James Hansen always impressed me, and he was a pioneer in atmospheric research. A paper of his touching on your question can be found here: http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/abstract.cgi?id=ha00410c. Anothere one is this: http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/abstract.cgi?id=ha02210k. If you are critical of the arguments and facts presented, please let me know your arguments.

          Another paper addressing your question is: “Climate Change and Global Risk” by David Frame and Myles R. Allen, in “Global Catastrophic Risks”, Oxford University, 2008. The paper comes with a very comprehensive literature list.

      2. Those “Controversies” are a thing of the past?

        Yet in a recent debate between PIK’s european IPCC scientist and those sceptical from EIKE. Those promoting the AGW theory could not produce any empirical evidence to support their “More Robust Than Ever Science”. In fact they had to concede the Empirical data did not support the Theory and Models they presented. “The data does not appear to support our Theory’s. But our Models say…”?

        Sorry but you cannot claim you have presented evidence without actually presenting evidence. And the scientists on the sceptical side of that debate also “Work in the Field” and want questions answered. Not being able to present evidence to your scientific peers that supports your position is a “Controversy”.

        The site you linked to seems to be about remediations and adaptation to climate change more than sceptical debate. I’ll keep looking for the part where the science is debated Stefan.

        This thread is off topic so i suggest a thread that is about the topic of the science and data of AGW. There are many “controversies” and “contradictions” remaining as well as new developments. Like the Solar and Jovian orbital links to Clouds and Climate cycles. Interesting stuff.

        1. Amirlach, I’ve considered putting up a dedicated climate change thread. It’s in my drafts folder and I may well stick it up soon. However, I’m pretty sure you won’t like it – sorry! As I’ve said before, I’m not a scientist and I am not able to debate scientific data. It would be arrogant of me to assume that I could, and there are other websites where those debates happen at a much more sophisticated level than I am capable of.

          If I were to post a climate thread, it would be based around why I’m convinced climate change matters. And again, as I’ve said half a dozen times already, I was not convinced by the science. I was convinced by the necessity to manage the risk.

        2. Amirlach: When the online conference starts at http://www.climate2011.net/en/start there will be plenty of opportunity to openly debate the science. The conference itself always has a topical focus, but the discussion forums generally are open topic.

          Who do you mean with “PIK’s European IPCC Scientist”? Prof. Rahmstorf? Or who? The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research is a major national research institution and part of the Leibnitz Society. More than 200 people work there. Maybe you can provide a link to this discussion with EIKE (Europäisches Institut für Klima und Energie). EIKE, by the way, is a private pressure group with no street address, less then 100 members and, despite the term “Institute” in their name, no research activities whatsoever. They share the same postbox with the “Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow” (CFACT Europe) and the libertarian Publisher TvR. EIKE circles in the usual orbit around libertarian/neo-liberal/right wing and fossil fuel sponsored think tanks and there is an interesting concentration of fossil fuel and heavy (steel) industry representatives among the members. This alone suggests to me that they are not exactly what I would call “neutral and independent”. Public institutes like PIK are required to be neutral, and their independence is constitutionally guaranteed. It’s the same story all over again. If we assume that the vast majority of citizens cannot assess the actual science, who shall they trust more? Industry pressure groups or public research institutions? Do we entrust the maker with assessing the safety of their own products? In Europe at least we do not normally do that (yet). I certainly have more faith in institutions that are established and financed by democratically elected governments than in entities established and financed by profit oriented corporations.

          Perhaps, if your level of German allows, you should discuss your new insights on solar and orbital links to climate directly with Stefan Rahmstorf, physicist, oceanographer and a leading climate researcher, over at http://www.wissenslogs.de/. 2010 by the way had the highest temperature on record – despite a solar minimum.

  9. Almost nobody thinks Climate Change does not matter. If we are unable to determine why it changes or if those changes are man made or natural we have little hope of managing risks or influencing Climate.

    Well i’m looking forward to showing you some empirical evidence that observed Climate changes correlate very well to Solar orbital links which drive both the solar cycles and the major climate cycles here on earth.

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