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Q & R: Aren't you nothing more than a hypocrite?

Here's the Q:

Since you insist on using the pejorative “denier” for people who do not subscribe to the same dogma that you do, can I begin to label you as climate change “hypocrite”? Your carbon footprint is multiple times larger than mine, yet I am your version of “the other”?

I’ll believe it’s a crisis when the people who tell me it’s a crisis start acting like it’s a crisis. That means stop with the book tours, conferences, concerts, etc. which belch tons of CO2 into the atmosphere (which might be #8 on your steps for loyal acolytes of the church of global warming).

Some questions:

Do stories that contradict your worldview on Global Warming (GW) ever penetrate your cocoon?

If CO2 is the primary driver of GW, why have temperatures hit a plateau in the last 15 years, with higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere?

Why did 95% of the climate forecast models produced within the last several years fail to accurately predict this plateau?

Have you read Michael Crichton’s State of Fear? Would you be open to listening to another point of view?

How many variables go into climate change? Do you think the models created by scientists have accounted for all of those variables

Why was Swedish climatologist Lennart Bengtsson bullied and threatened by other scientists for having a differing opinion?

Why did Michael Mann refuse to release his raw data behind his famous hockey stick?

Why did Michael Mann advise colleagues (via email) to “hide the decline” of data that contradicted his conclusions?

I very much appreciate your blog, and your tone (most of the time); you can be so magnanimous and kind to people who disagree with you spiritually. Would that you could exhibit the same “generous orthodoxy” to people who disagree with you politically!

Thanks for writing. I frequently have people send me notes like this that point to data that they believe disproves climate change. I keep an open mind and check into that data and so far, have always found it to be unconvincing. I haven't read "State of Fear" but did read reviews of it and the general consensus was that Crichton is a good storyteller but his science was distorted and flawed.

I'm certainly not against skepticism in the face of popular trends. In fact, if anything, I'm sympathetic to those willing to stand up to a majority.

But the bottom line for me is that I've done a lot of reading and attended a lot of lectures on this subject - and in fact attended the original "Sandy Cove" conference in 2004 where John Houghton presented Evangelical leaders with (then) state of the art data on the subject. In light of the fact that 97% of scientists believe in human-induced global warming, I believe it is our God-given responsibility to care for the earth and to exercise foresight in understanding the short- and long-term consequences of our actions. And I believe that the poorest of the world are suffering and will suffer from global warming the most. So … putting those together, I speak out as best as I can.

As for your specific questions above:
- Malfeasance by a few of the 97% of scientists doesn't discredit their whole project any more than malfeasance by a few of the 3% would. The issue is the evidence, and the overwhelming weight of evidence is not tainted by malfeasance. It confirms again and again that if anything, predictions have erred on the side of underestimating rather than overestimating the effects of fossil fuels on the planetary climate system. Finding a flaw in a theory doesn't invalidate it; a popular blog series makes that point quite well.

- Some of your assumptions above are questionable if not simply wrong. For example, C02 levels are rising and so are temperatures. It's important to remember that the theory doesn't predict that every single place in the world will grow warmer every year. In fact, the theory predicts that as the climate warms in general, certain places will grow colder in the short run.

You're right to say that the climate system is profoundly complex and no model so far comes close to containing the complexity. But our models are certainly the best they've ever been, and so far, when our best models don't predict the data perfectly, the data points to even more severe effects than the models predicted.

You said:

I’ll believe it’s a crisis when the people who tell me it’s a crisis start acting like it’s a crisis. That means stop with the book tours, conferences, concerts, etc. which belch tons of CO2 into the atmosphere (which might be #8 on your steps for loyal acolytes of the church of global warming).

If individual actions like the ones your propose would solve the problem, then I think you're right: it would be necessary for people who believe in climate change to stop traveling. But the sum total of individual actions of this sort won't come close to stopping a systemic problem. That's why the science and public policy are so closely intertwined, and that's why many of us feel a moral obligation to speak out on the subject, even though we sometimes make mistakes and our tone isn't always pitch perfect.