Part of the problem in the climate establishment vs ‘deniers’ face-off is that the establishment…has no understanding of the Internet. You can see an example in the person talking to Christopher Poole (4chan.org) near the end of the video below:
Literally thousands of comments have appeared, at WUWT, JudithCurry and CA over the Kevin Trenberth partly-plagiarized climate speech planned for an AMS meeting. Almost all of these have roundly condemned Trenberth. Even as the backlash continues, one can be sure, that Trenberth and his like-minded colleagues are blinking in bewilderment and gnashing their teeth at the ‘massive fossil-fuel funded disinformation and hatred campaign’ that must have ‘co-ordinated’ the ‘attack’.
Kevin Trenberth the climate scientist, became famous when he unwittingly participated in creation of his own meme – the Trenberth’s Travesty. In climate science, certainty of attribution of all warming to human activity is presented up front – ‘unequivocal’ in Trenberth’s own words, whereas discussions about accounting for global energy flows is carried out in the background. So Trenberth’s admission that not being able to ‘account for the warming’ amounted to a ‘travesty’ – behind the veil ripped by Climategate, creates the meme – it becomes a quick but bright flash of imprinting insight.
This brings us to the central problem – current deficiencies and uncertainties in climate science are not allowed to become part of everyday discussion. This is obviously because they are seen as damaging to the strength of the dominant paradigm. ‘Dominant paradigm’ is of course something we are all familiar with – “the earth is warming, humans are the cause and while there are some minor questions, most of the science is settled”.
It is for this reason primarily that Trenberth’s Travesty, Mike’s Nature Trick and Jones’ Hide the Decline are all memes of the post-Climategate age. They carry memetic value because their opposites are pushed relentlessly as part the dominant paradigm, even as scientists apparently discuss doubts in private. Indeed scientists have doubts all the time, but in climate science the post-normal bells-and-whistles storefront sells other stuff outside. “Let us make our case strong first”, the climate establishment thinks, “and then we can discuss our questions and doubts”. This is both wrong and foolish. You make your case strong by openly discussing doubts. But then of course, in order to do that, a measure of confidence in your own science and data is needed first.
On the other hand, you have the blinkered witless dinosaurs – the Monbiots of the consensus who aim to destroy memes by bizarre and wishful thinking. It is this part of the consensus crowd that detests and has no understanding of the meaning of internet anonymity. To them skeptical blogs and commenters are lawless, every opinion is unfair and abusive, people are trading inside jokes and denialist memes, singing songs and calling scientists names. The ‘deniers’ always appear briefly over their bunkers to shoot streams of anonymous abusive emails at scientists, shout slogans like “show me the data, show me the code” and pour vitriol on innocent scientists’ attempts at public outreach.
The combination of climate orthodoxy and the organic reaction against it produce distinctive, repetitive emergent phenomena and patterns. The bewildered consensus mistakes the presence of patterns as evidence for organized behaviour and blames it on ‘fossil-fuel funding’.
The solutions of the dinosaurs? – take away their voices, take away their anonymity. Thus you will find Monbiot calling for persistent and attested online identities, a la Facebook. If who you are online is who you are offline, can you be skeptic? Surely not because we have declared such members to be akin to Holocaust deniers – that breathing space has been squelched and drained. Anonymity is the beating heart of the online climate change debate; commenters carry goofy names and seem to be speaking junk, but yet make any arrogant misstep and you’ll find arguments being taken apart at lightspeed. Sure enough the consensus has its trash-talking 4chan wannabes too, but push back a bit and you are likely to find yourself moderated, premoderated, your comments deleted or outright banned. You can be who you want to be for a short while, but you cannot speak, and then you cannot be.
The simple fact is that skepticism is natural and the climate establishment has aided in poor understanding of its science by mistaking natural anonymous online behaviour to be the enemy. Little hope is evident on the horizon for any change in this regard.