I read a fair number of climate-related blogs. One of these days I'll try to get some kind of "blog roll" going on the side of the page. In the meantime, there's a small box over there that has items I'd like to share, not always science related, but things I found interesting. Anyway, I sometimes get frustrated with these blogs because it seems like most of their effort is to address/attack/debunk/explain the climate change skeptics/sceptics/deniers/inactivists. This seems less and less useful to me, for a couple of reasons. First, there just aren't that many of those deniers out there that can make waves in the media with anything close to a reasoned argument. Second, just going point by point through their "arguments" to show why they are wrong appears to me to be a weak form or rhetoric. Actually, this is a major problem with the democratic party, too, as they seem to just respond to the outlandish attacks of the republicans.
I think this topic has been addressed in excruciating detail in the climate-blogosphere recently... I should have links to Mooney and other here, but I'm just riffing today. There were a lot of posts about whether or not to directly address the deniers, or whether it was counterproductive. Today I think it is largely counterproductive.
Not to say that these idiotic arguments shouldn't be ripped apart, they should, but we don't need 50 blogs all ripping apart one obscure denialist's claims, as it really just gives them much more "credibility." For example, this weird person that as far as I've seen is only working in the blogosphere and only goes by the name "lucia." She's making all kinds of noise, and because places as high profile as realclimate and deltoid spend time on her, I think she's attracted quite a following. This despite the fact that she is unable to present a reasoned argument that actually answers a question (a recent post by Grumbine demonstrated this).
This is just a bit of a rant, I guess. My point is that I'm now feeling more strongly that refutations of these arguments should simply be compiled in some climate science wiki, where all the people who feel compelled to add their take on a denialist claim should be allowed to add their part. The blogs themselves would be much more interesting if they would start explaining the science of climate change (or impacts of climate change) without the obligatory strawman provided by denialist claims.
From the point of view of marketing climate science and the general findings of the field (e.g. the IPCC report), there need to be stronger statements of the things we know, worded without our normal scientific, passive, conservative language. I've recently seen more of this, even in the recent report on severe weather and climate change, but communication to the public needs to be better. Yes, it probably has to be dumbed down, meaning less nuance and fewer caveats, which as scientists we don't like. However, the public is bombarded with too much information, and the average American is undereducated in basic science, so we have to develop a language to communicate that we are certain that humans are causing climate change, and there are severe risks involved in doing so. And this has to be done without being condescending. Again, this is exactly what the democrats need to do. We need those lists of talking points that the conservative think tanks cook up and distribute. It's sad, and I don't like it, but is there any other way to do it? The ideal way would be to ground all Americans firmly with rational thought and basic science, but that is long-term and probably unrealistic. *Sigh*
Haven't other fields gone through all this? What about AIDS research? Tobacco causing cancer? Evolution, obviously. Stem-cell research... Why can't we start talking amongst ourselves about dealing with the public and the press, without getting bogged down in the details of our own fields? Climate science needs to look to these examples, get the people who have experience, and ask for advice.
[UPDATE: A related post today from Grumbine, discussion versus debate.]