Thursday, March 10, 2011

Climate Denialist Comments

I have found it necessary to begun deleting comments of a particular commenter who appears to be a climate change sceptic/denier.  On reflection, it seems worth saying a little more about that.

I certainly don't want to impose a litmus test on commenters broadly.  If I get the feeling that people are looking at my posts, or other comments, genuinely curious about the issues, thinking for themselves, and making whatever points about the issues occur to them in good faith, or asking questions, I have no problem with that.  There have been occasions when I thought a particular climate paper was overblown, and I've said so.

However, there is clearly a large climate denialist movement that is a) heavily funded by moneyed interests, and b) also supported by a bunch of people who don't have have a direct current pecuniary interest but are unable to admit even to themselves that (for example) their career in fossil fuel extraction was contributing to major harm to the climate, or are very ideologically rigid and cannot admit that maybe sometimes free markets and large businesses commit significant harm as well as causing much good.

I think the climate denialist movement is almost 100% in bad faith, and if I get the feeling that someone is basically parroting the standard talking points from it, bringing up all the bogus non-issues that it manufactures (eg Climategate) I just have zero interest in providing a forum for that.  It's my blog, I read all the comments, and I don't want to read ones like that (or the inevitable equally partisan backlash from the other side).  Find a different forum (there are plenty of both persuasions who will be happy to indulge you in endlessly rehashing that stuff).  There's clearly tremendous potential for comment threads here to devolve into yet one more long trollfest on those issues, and I will not allow that to happen.

My interest is to understand and evaluate the actual climate science - what is it saying, how much reliance on it can we safely place, what does it tell us about our future?  Anyone who, in my judgement, shares a genuine desire to do the same, and a commitment that finding out the truth is more important than promoting a particular ideology, is more than welcome to comment here.


Yogi♪♪♪ said...

I'm in the natural gas business and I get a little frustrated by some of my cohorts when they find out that I do think that man made activity, and generation of CO2 in particular, is causing climate change. They tell me, "But you are in the industry." and I just say "So what?"

I continue to look for unbiased information and your blog is a great source.

hornblower said...

Don't know if I've ever commented before as I read your RSS feed & it's a bit of a pita to do the comment thing but this is important enough to open a few windows LOL

I wanted to THANK YOU for this policy. I appreciate it.

Mike said...

Good for you!

Dan said...

It seems that Hornblower is my twin. I get your blog through RSS and I don't see the comments - perhaps I should change that (?) - and I've never before felt obliged to add one of my own but well done. I thoroughly agree with your remark about denialism being almost 100% in bad faith and you are under absolutely no obligation to provide a platform for the tediously repeated arguments of denialists.

And, by the way, good work on the rest of the blog. Always interesting work and always presented with the right degree of distance.

Ugo Bardi said...

Stuart, you are doing very well in excluding these people from the comment queue. They are, simply, paid disinformers.

I have plenty of them occasionally appearing on my blog ("effetto cassandra", in italian). Sometimes I let them place one comment or two - but on the whole they have learned that they are not welcome so they appear only rarely.

By the way, since they are paid for each comment they write; by deleting them you make them lose money - what they exactly deserve. No wonder that they protest!

By the way, Stuart, you may like to give a look to my new personal blog "Cassandra's Legacy" ( Not yet so well known that I have to keep disinformers away, but I am sure they'll arrive!


Annie said...

I appreciate the tone of this blog and its comments, I am happy not to read tedious pro/con comments on denial.

I am also happy for Yogi to keep his job, quitting now won't accomplish much more than create a job opening for someone else.

Fixed Carbon said...

Stuart: Excluding those who comment in bad faith will keep your blog focused on the issues that motivate it. I applaud it.

kjmclark said...

Monbiot recently wrote something about this. (

"Every month more evidence piles up, suggesting that online comment threads and forums are being hijacked by people who aren’t what they seem to be." ... "He was part of a commercial team employed to infest internet forums and comment threads on behalf of corporate clients, promoting their causes and arguing with anyone who opposed them. Like the other members of the team, he posed as a disinterested member of the public. Or, to be more accurate, as a crowd of disinterested members of the public: he used 70 personas, both to avoid detection and to create the impression that there was widespread support for his pro-corporate arguments."

Our local paper just had an article about the UM study on "climate change" vs. "global warming" as a wording choice. There were two or three 'people' who appeared out of nowhere and wrote a number of comments. And they were literally out of nowhere - they had created their accounts that very day.

OTOH, I don't think it's close to 100% in bad faith. Probably around 80%. I've met some people who really do think climate change is all a scam. But MI does fancy itself the 'heart of the auto industry'.

The Rational Pessimist said...

Stuart: Thanks for saving us the tedium of listening to people who start the day by checking out Anthony Watts' WUWT each day before they decide what to think.

chris said...

Thank you!

Tom said...

People get paid to write disinformation? Wow. Now if only I could get paid for every mistake at work ...

Steve Scolnik said...

Why do you need to explain? If someone is being unruly, you are perfectly within your rights to remove them.

Brian said...

"I think the climate denialist movement is almost 100% in bad faith"

I'm a climate hawk, I've got a $9,000 bet with someone on the other side, I've talked to a few of them (Bill Gray for one), and I disagree with the above quote.

Setting aside the Joe and Jane Sixpack who just listen to their conservative leaders and sincerely believe them, even among the activists I think most of them are sincere on some level. I think a significant number could care less about the truth are just serving their master ideology. Others are living a poorly examined life in a world they examine poorly. A few examine the evidence closely and actually believe the nonsense (Bill Gray again, Roy Spencer, Roger Pielke Sr).

So there's a continuum, all of it constituting bad science, but only some constituting 100% bad faith.

Stuart Staniford said...


Correction accepted - probably that wording wasn't best. I mean that just about everyone involved either is bought and paid for (the minority), or made up their minds about the subject for reasons that don't have anything to do with the evidence. They may sincerely believe at a conscious level, but were unconciously biassed.