30 October 2009

Tom Fuller is Doing a Survey

Tom Fuller has set up a survey on various aspects of the climate issue. Please take a moment to participate. Here are his ground rules:
First, let's start with the ground rules. Your participation is completely anonymous, and no attempt will be made to contact you for any reason as a result of your participation or anything you write in this survey.

Second, this survey is not intended to be used as an opinion poll or a census, and will not be used as such. We are not trying to find out how many people 'believe' or 'disbelieve' in global warming. Our purpose is to try and find out if there are areas of agreement on possible policy initiatives going forward
Here is where you can find the survey.


  1. The survey starts with questions about political allegiances and is really about belief bias.

    This is my view of the history of right wing politics in the AGW debate. Sorry for any repitition. It's brief.

    Carbon trading was inserted into article 17 of the Kyoto Protocol at the instigation of Enron and BP.Kyoto was signed by Vice President Gore who has had a lifetime close financial relationship with Occidental Oil.

    Exxon were the (phony) fall guys who pretended to be against it by funding tiny pockets of opposition. All of it from the American right like the Cato Institute, Heritage foundation. and so forth which is why anything from that source is considered suspect by the rest of the world.

    Exxon's money discredited their own opposition.

    Oil prices rose more than ten times ($12 to ~$150) between 1997 (Kyoto) and 2007 partly due to global warming awareness reducing downward pressure on price.

    The reason of course being the war on coal electricity generation which will attract higher carbon 'taxes'.

    This is an interesting article on a similar theme.

    Opposing Views on Global Warming: The Corporate Climate Coup

    by Prof. David F. Noble - York University, Toronto, Canada


  2. Two observations about the survey (which I took)
    One- of the listed blogs only one appears to be authored by a female. Lucia. Didn't count the ratio, but doesn't reflect the population.
    Second, some questions were along the lines of "do you believe things on the blog".
    I can only speak for this one, but I can't say that I have ever just read something here and believed it. I read ideas here and either agree or disagree or figure out that the effort to understand the technical details of what the debate is about is not worth it to me. I don't think the question accurately depicted my reaction to bloggery.
    PS I haven't figured how to go back and check without taking the survey as a fake person, so maybe I am being oversensitive to the way the question was posed.

  3. So I guess it's become important when reading to know the sex of the author when evaluating the ideas for credibility. Unfortunately, a lot of the comments on many blogs have "names" which leave the sex of the commenter unknown. How can we properly evaluate the credibility of those comments?

  4. Hi Sharon,
    Are there female bloggers writing about climate change that you think I should include? I went through a variety of blogrolls and didn't see much in the way of female authorship.

  5. 1) -1-Eric144 sez:

    “Oil prices rose more than ten times ($12 to ~$150) between 1997 (Kyoto) and 2007 partly due to global warming awareness reducing downward pressure on price.”

    A) Click here to examine (via a spreadsheet) the actual spot prices between 1997 and 2007 (and beyond).

    B) Click here for proof that the price of oil is almost purely a simple function of supply and demand (coupled, lately, with a falling dollar).

    As demonstrated via the previous link, it is an objectively accurate quantitative FACT that ANWR alone could have prevented the oil/gasoline price spikes of 2007/2008.

    Eco-extremists were -- indeed -- the cause of the price spikes, but ONLY by virtue of “converting” the USA into -- per the Wall Street Journal -- “the only nation in the world that has curtailed access to its own [ENORMOUS] energy supplies”.

    2) I did not take the survey because it demonstrates the self-described “Liberal” philosophy of its creator. Free market thinking is nowhere to be found. The only “solutions” described all flow -- implicitly or explicitly -- from government.

    Mr. Fuller is a reasonable chap -- for a Liberal. But, when analyzing his survey, he will be well advised to take into account that I am certainly not the only Free Market advocate who will choose not to participate. And, that will badly slant his results.

  6. Tom: Jennifer Marohasey and Jo Nova spring to mind. Lucy Skywalker also.

  7. No, Tom, I didn't think that you had left some out, I just thought it was interesting that we aren't there as much. I suspect we don't post as much either but don't have any evidence to that effect, except for the first names of many fellow bloggers.

    But when I think of the climate scientists I know a fair proportion are women. So I wonder 1) are they too busy doing science to have time for blogging?
    2) Is the vituperative nature of the discourse in blogdom a greater turnoff for women?
    3) Is is somehow related to the relative absence of women on op-ed pages in general? As per http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0716/p09s01-coop.html

    Note: I am not blaming anyone. I think more of our voices might well be helpful. The whole yin and yang thing applies to public policy as well as the universe as a whole. I simply made this observation and am raising it out of curiosity.

  8. "There has been a site error...."

  9. Two more reasons (of many) why polling is often so badly misleading…

    1) On education, it is “vitally important” that we entirely privatize the delivery of publicly funded education.

    But, if I list education as “vitally important”, it will be interpreted to mean I want to throw more money at the failed paradigm of a government monopoly.

    2) On Social Security, it is “vitally important” that we eliminate it (before it collapses under its own weight).

    But, listing it as “vitally important” will be interpreted to mean I want to throw more money at another failed welfare state program which -- on balance -- robs the poor to give to the rich (just like Medicare).

  10. Tom--
    The only other female I can think of is Jennifer Marohasy.

    The nastiness of the climate-blog wars may be one reason there are mostly men involved. It's difficult to say what's going on, but I suspect it's self-selection.

  11. I don't understand why government is necessary to do any of these things. Surely there are wealthy people concerned enough about these issue to invest their own money in alternative energy and we need not violate the rights of individuals to chose to do as they please with the products of their own labor.

  12. Perhaps many female climate scientists are American Christians who haven't been given permission by their husbands to write blogs.

    They would of course be deniers to a woman and have proven links to the Heritage Foundation and the fossil fuel industry.

    (joke response to Tom Fuller's politically correct intervention)

  13. It might be interesting to compare blogs on a couple of topics.. say Afghanistan, health care, and climate change, and see if the proportions of m/f proportions are different. You could also, among blogs within topics and across topics, compute a mean vitriolic factor (measured in "vitris per comment" I guess) and correlate that with the m/f ratio. Any grad students out there with time on their hands?

  14. Hi all,

    SharonF, you'll be interested to hear that about 95% of the respondents so far are male--I think your point about the hostility levels in the blogosphere (can I still say blogosphere?) is pertinent.

    I was going to put Jennifer Marohasy on the list, but she's been on 'walkabout' for so long I didn't think people would be coming to the survey from her. Don't know where to find Lucy Skywalker--I just read her comments on CA.

    Over 300 responses so far--many thanks, Roger, for the link.

  15. Echoing the sentiments of -11-Andrew...

    Climate scientists (and policy wonks) who earnestly believe they have insights which can save (or, at least improve) the world would be FAR better advised to pitch their insights and ideas to venture capitalists rather than to moronic and hopelessly corrupt government bureaucrats.

    Not only is that the avenue which is FAR more likely to actually achieve some positive results, that is also the avenue which will NOT impose their tyranny upon the rest of us through force of law.

  16. Tom:

    This is one of Lucy's, about temps vs Yamal tree rings.


    This is Jo Nova's page:


  17. Okay, enough with the politically correct male/female nonsense!

    At the risk of being Summersed by the radical feminists, it may be worth noting that the Left leaning Pew Research Center found that men were 26% more politically aware than women.

    So, between that and the Summers related stuff, maybe we can (at least partially) explain the lopsided involvement in climate change issues.

    Now, before the radical feminists open fire (especially on the “Summersed” link), let me note there are exceptions to every rule. My tutor/girlfriend in Analytical Geometry was FAR more talented in math than me (and, I am -- quantitatively -- well within the top 1% of the nation).

    Radical feminists may fire at will (and, thereby, prove that their aversion to conflict is somewhat selective). ;-)

  18. Tom, I'm not saying I know why there are fewer women. I could easily generate more hypotheses and more hypothetical graduate student projects.

    Here's one: It could be that women are busy and they may perceive that the likelihood of their ideas contributing to a better world by blogging are so low they prefer to volunteer with the PTA or do the laundry.

    I just think the whole topic- Blogosphere is important, who's involved and who isn't is worthy of note and possibly worthy of study.

    If we weren't curious folks, we wouldn't have become scientists.

    SVBOR- Hey, I am a full-fledged, card-carrying bureaucrat (that is I have spent my career in public service) and neither moronic nor hopelessly corrupt. Please be more precise when you are maligning my kind. :)

  19. 12-I think you've got the wrong religion. I know plenty of Christians who let their wives do anything they want.

    Islam, on the other hand, has much stricter rules.

  20. Sharon F,

    I don’t know you or what the nature of your “public service” might be. But, from what I know of you here, you seem quite reasonable.

    That said, I am certain Nancy Pelosi would say the same thing about herself -- and, I know, in that case, it just ain’t true!

    P.S.) I’m wondering if Roger balked at posting my previous comment which, in part, drew upon the gender based hot water Larry Summers got himself into at Harvard. In the PC world of Boulder, I would not blame Roger for hesitating at the prospect of getting scalded by that water. ;-)

  21. The whom-do-you-trust question is not as simple as Tom put it. I trust the hosts on maybe 6 sites to state opinions constrained by what they themselves understand and can explain. None of these hosts makes exagerated claims. But I don't believe anything with an argument I can't more or less follow.

    I would have trusted Richard Feynmann on anything he said, but not anyone I know of today.

    It's too bad. People should be able to trust scientists. Our trust has been squandered by wild claims unsupported by research.

  22. The survey is highly US-centric, but you can miss out the whole middle bit and answer the beginning and end. The chance to say nice things about Lucia was just too good to miss :-)

  23. John F.

    I would argue that people should be able to trust elected officials, religious leaders, scientists etc. However, all humans suffer from the same temptations..
    What is that expression- "trust but verify?"
    Recommended book: Stephen M.R. Covey's the speed of trust. the four cores:
    Integrity, Intent, Capabilities and Results

    Feynmann had a lot of knowledge but I'm not sure I'd trust him on how difficult it would be to effectively manage a carbon trading scheme. So while he may have had integrity and intent, you still need to judge a person's capability before you can trust them.

    I do agree that I don't "trust" websites- I trust them to post interesting things that I can agree or disagree with. For example, if I see a cite to Roger Sr.'s paper on adaptation and it makes a point perfectly about what I am trying to articulate to my peers (plus the added credibility of hearing it from a real climate scientist might be additional for convincing), I am going to use it.

    I guess both this discussion and the female/male discussion lead to more questions.. why do people blog and read climate blogs- what are they looking for and what do they hope to get out of it?

  24. Sharon F.

    I literally wouldn't trust anyone who had a financially dependent relationship to the subject in hand. Keeping the kids happy and a roof over their heads is the biggest priority in most people's lives. It's also really easy to develop blind spots that allow one to maintain or improve one's position without guilt interfering.

    I taught in a college science dept. I didn't notice that scientists were any more truthful, braver or self sacrificing than anyone else of their social class. Politicians are sponsored and businessmen are legally obliged to maximise profit.

    I visit this blog because (I imagine) Roger's articles cleverly reveal hints of the scene behind the curtain.

  25. -25-eric144 sez:

    “I literally wouldn't trust anyone who had a financially dependent relationship to the subject in hand.”

    Given that, you might find this post and this article of interest.

    Nobody gets a government research grant by suggesting CO2 might not be a problem.

    And, according to Professor Carter (author of the article), the sum total of the AGW government gravy train was -- more than 2 years ago -- $50 billion and counting.

  26. Sharon F.
    The reason I would trust Feynmann is that I do not believe he would opine (ex cathedra - so to speak) on a subject in which his homework was undone - unlike Krugman. My take on trust is a willingness to accept anything the person says or writes (in context). This one, CA, Lucia's, Jeff-Id's, E.M.'s, are sites I feel have integrity in the sense that there is no trickery employed and high effort is expended in describing processes and observations accurately and discretely.

    Read Feynmann sometime, there's a lot out there.

    BTW, are you the poster who included the words "control the climate" in a post a month or two ago?

  27. Thanks SBVOR

    One thing that has always puzzled me is this. Are Exxon executives so incompetent that they would sign a cheque in the company's name and have the receiving organisations put the donation in their financial statements labelled EXXON ?

    It's a strange kind of covert operation for those brilliant Greenpeace detectives to expose.

    Also why would they give orders of magnitude more money to Stanford for AGW research than to the Heritage Foundation for denial purposes ?

  28. -28-Eric144,

    Is The Heritage Foundation organized “for denial purposes” or for fact finding purposes? I have never found their information -- on any topic -- to be factually inaccurate. Do they have a perspective? Of course. But, they also have integrity.

    On a related note…
    With over 1.2 million votes cast, an NPR poll currently shows 81% supporting Fox News vs. 17% supporting The White House (in the war which The White House declared on The FNC).

    Click here and register your opinion.

  29. John F.

    I have, in fact, read a lot of Feynmann and perhaps we are talking semantics.

    I would say that I would assume he knew something about what he was talking about unless I happened to know more about a topic.. is that trust?
    I don't think I would have written "control the climate" - as SBVOR has stated above, I am "quite reasonable." ;)

  30. Eric, I really hope you are trying to be ironic. Plenty of corporations give money to groups which support causes they deem to have implications for them. But the money follows the ideology, not the other way around. So if you have a group that generally favors little regulation and as a corporation you don't want to get tied up by that, maybe you'll donate to anti-regulation groups? Seems a no-brainer to me. Exxon donations probably have more to do with concerns over the idea of a "windfall profits tax" and getting the ban on offshore drilling lifted than "denial"-all things those groups would do anyway. The proof of this is that Heartland, for instance, no longer receives donations from Exxon but continues to "deny".

  31. SVBOR

    I have no interest in The Heritage Foundation beyond the fact that Exxon were accused of Global Warming denial by funding them.


    Yes, that occurred to me too and may well be true. However the AGW crowd believe that Exxon were guilty of covert AGW denial by funding The Heritage Foundation. I was pointing out that it seems a bit daft considering the fact was displayed in publicly viewable accounts.

    I wasn't accusing them of taking up a position because of Exxon.

    The bottom line is that (imo), the huge furore about Exxon's so called denial is nonsense.

  32. So you are being clever.

    Thank the deity...

  33. Realists might like this analysis here:

    The conclusion is that an ounce of gold has always roughly bought the same number of barrels of oil. So oil is worth the same as always, it's just the dollar that is worth less.

    The recent spike had nothing to do with liberals, environmentalists, China, supply and demand or any other such nonsense, it was pure commodity speculation encouraged by Goldman Sachs etc and upheld by pension funds that caused artificial demand. GS and other Wall Street sharks kept encouraging the greed spike by predicting 200 to 300 dollars a barrel. Futures contracts and options rocketed as everyone wanted in! Meanwhile the real oil supplies were actually quite high. The spike ended of course as soon as the casino operators on Wall Street got the price they wanted and sold en masse. If anyone had read George Soros's words of warning then they'd have known to expect the drop.

    As for Exxon let's be clear - like all businesses they exist only to make money, everything else is secondary. Until oil is not necessary then they have nothing to fear but when that alternative does come along then be 100% assured that they will be buying it up and controlling it. Oil companies have long been involved with nuclear energy for example - as indeed has Al Gore.