15 March 2010

Stealth Issue Advocacy

In my book, The Honest Broker, I argue that "stealth issue advocacy" occurs when scientists claim to be focusing on science but are really seeking to advance a political agenda. When such claims are made, the authority of science is used to hide a political agenda, under an assumption that science commands that which politics does not. However, when stealth issue advocacy takes place, it threatens the legitimacy of scientific advice, as people will see it simply as politics, and lose sight of the value that science does offer policy making .

Here is an example of stealth issue advocacy that I came across today: From an AP article, NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco explains a need for better communication related to climate change (emphasis added):

"We are no longer constrained by talking about some possible future. Climate change is happening now and it's happening in people's back yards," Jane Lubchenco told reporters at a briefing.

"Scientists have seriously underestimated the importance of explaining what we know about climate in a way people can understand," she said.

The effects of climate change are being felt from melting Arctic sea ice to threats to birds and forests and the spread of disease. Worldwide, 2000-2009 was the warmest decade on record.

Recent criticism of errors in the U.N. climate panel report on global warming and revelation of stolen e-mails from climate scientists have raised questions about climate change.

It's not surprising there could be a few errors in a 3,000-page document, Lubchenco said, though she stressed that the goal is always to have no errors.

"There is a well-orchestrated and fairly successful effort under way to confuse and sometimes cherry-pick information," Lubchenco said.

The best response, she said, is to provide information from trusted sources such as NOAA, which operates the National Weather Service and collects and distributes data on weather and climate.

"I don't view our role as trying to convince people of something," she said. "Our role is to inform people."

Now someone will have to explain that last sentence to me, because it makes no sense. Of course Lubchenco wants to convince people of something. In the first highlighted passage she is referring to an "effort underway to confuse." She doesn't specify who that is doing the confusing, but I have a good idea who she is referring to (and I am sure, so do you).

Lubchenco wants to counter an unnamed well-orchestrated campaign, but she doesn't want to convince people of something? Right.

Waging a political battle through science is a losing proposition for advocates to begin with -- not admitting that is your strategy, when it obviously is, makes things even worse. Why not just admit the obvious?

46 comments:

  1. Is NOAA cosidered a scientific institution?

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  2. So much unalloyed certainty in the face of such complexity - surely the hallmark of a politician not a scientist?

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  3. Maybe the job of the NOAA is to persuade, which is not exactly the same as to convince.

    PS: How to explain a sentence, if it makes no sense?

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  4. 1) As documented here, a group of self-serving politicians posing as scientists have openly resolved to double down on their political advocacy.

    The irony -- as you well know -- is that the only thing they will accomplish is to:

    A) Further harm their already damaged credibility.

    B) Drive the final stakes into the AGW hysteria cult -- an event I very much welcome.

    2) As documented here, the AGW hysteria cult was going to die anyway. It was entirely predictable from the very beginning. This folly will -- happily -- only serve to hasten the death knell.

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  5. "trusted sources such as NOAA"

    Come again??

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  6. Hi Roger, I think here you are pushing your own definition of stealth advocacy. At the beginning of your post you say stealth advocacy occurs when scientists claim to be focusing on science but are really seeking to advance a political agenda. The example you give shows that, in your own words, Lubchenco wants to convince people of something.

    Convincing people of something is not the same as seeking to advance a political agenda.

    When you respond to people misrepresenting your research on hurricanes, you are trying to convince your audience that these people are wrong. Does that mean you engage in stealth advocacy?

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  7. -6-rjtklein

    Hi Richard, thanks for the comments. A few replies ...

    1. "I think here you are pushing your own definition of stealth advocacy"

    Guilty as charged. The definition comes from my book, The Honest Broker.

    2. "Convincing people of something is not the same as seeking to advance a political agenda."

    It is when you are trying to convince people that your political opponents are wrong.

    3. "When you respond to people misrepresenting your research on hurricanes, you are trying to convince your audience that these people are wrong. Does that mean you engage in stealth advocacy?"

    No. That is overt advocacy. I always seek to describe what I see as the policy implications of my work in the context of presenting an analysis. If you catch me claiming that I am focused only on the science, call me on it and I'll buy you a beer ;-)

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  8. Roger,

    Would you consider Bjorn Lomborg a stealth advocate? How about Richard Tol? If not, why not?

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  9. -8-Marlowe

    Lomborg- Yes, and I say as much in my book.

    Tol- Where does he hide behind science? I haven't seen it, but please share what you are referring to and I'll have a look.

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  10. -8-Marlowe
    There's no stealth in Lomborg. He's financially independent. He doesn't do any research. He says things as he sees them, tuned to convince his audience of his point of view.

    I always try to separate research findings from political judgements, and I always try to make sure that my audience sees that distinction. I do not always succeed. If you can point me to an example that needs correcting, then I'd be most obliged.

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  11. Let us, as they say, commit some truth here. Lubchenco is the Administrator of NOAA. She is a policy MAKER. Oh yeah, so is Steve Chu. You have built a strawman.

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  12. Lubchenco is NOAA administrator. Last time Eli looked that WAS a policy making position so what are you talking about? Steve Chu too, for that matter.

    It's her JOB to set NOAA policy and one policy is that, as she says, to inform people.

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  13. -11, 12-

    Being a policy maker does not excuse stealth issue advocacy, in fact it makes things worse for science.

    If Lubchenco's job is to advocate for NOAA (and indeed administration) policy -- and it is -- then she should not be saying silly things like did.

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  14. She is not a "stealth issue advocate" she is a policy maker. You appear not to understand the difference. She makes policy as well as advocating it.

    You disagree with her policy. Not surprising, but fair enough. OTOH you appear to think that it is not her job to make policy that you disagree with. Who elected you?

    Besides which your entire framing of "honest brokers" is immature. Contrary to your opinion, brokers match buyers and sellers. Honest ones use their expertise to find mutually beneficial matches.

    Your "honest broker" slams the yellow pages down on the counter and tells the poor policy maker to read it. Useless.

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  15. NOAA tends to gain lots of funds from climate being a big deal, say compared to water pollution from hormone mimics, or other from a large array of environmentally bad things that could be improved through research and different policies. So she would tend to have a serious conflict of interest on the importance of climate change, and not be an entirely believable source of information. The old research funding conundrum; those who know the most have most self-interest.

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  16. Either Lomborg is a stealth advocate, like Pielke Jr. says. Or he is not, like Tol argues. The question begs to be settled.

    On the one hand, a researcher could seek to "describe the policy implications of one's work in the context of presenting an analysis," like Pielke Jr. argues. On the other hand, a researcher could attest, as Tol does, that he "always try to separate research findings from political judgements, and always try to make sure the audience sees that distinction." As noble as the two declarations of intent may be, they might be tough to reconcile.

    Lubchenco seems to presuppose that one can say something like;

    - "There is a well-orchestrated and fairly successful effort under way to confuse and sometimes cherry-pick information"

    and

    "We are in the business of informing people".

    She could argue that it's not that silly as one might jest: the two statements could be considered independent and recognized as such. If it is the case that there is a well-orchestrated and fairly successful effort under way to confuse and sometimes cherry-pick information, it might be tough to argue that it's not a fact.

    Imagining Lubchenco saying that the NOAA should speak overtly about their advocacy might be silly. Just imagine something like:

    - The NOAA is not really a research agency, but an advocacy group, whose main objective is to convince the public that its political opponents are wrongheaded.

    Obviously, this might be silly, as talking of NOAA's political opponents might fail to make sense. The only way to think that NOAA has political opponents seems to be if there would be a political party that would argue against facts as we marshal them. That possibility is not implausible, actually, as reality has a well-known liberal bias.

    Nobody should say silly things, unless they are meant that way. But it happens, nonetheless. Nobody should say silly things in return, unless it is meant that way, of course.

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  17. -14-Eli

    No. I have no problem with the policy she is advocating (opposing what she sees as disinformation).

    I have a problem with her seeking to implement that policy and then explain that NOAA is not trying to convince anyone of something. Policy makers should be clear about their policy objectives and not hide them behind science.

    It is simple enough.

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  18. -16-Willard
    Note that Roger argues that Lomborg is a "stealth advocate" while I think he is an "advocate".

    To me, a "stealth advocate" is a credible scientist who disguises political judgements as scientific facts.

    I doubt that many people see Lomborg as a scientist, and his disguises are thin. That's why I think the "stealth" qualification does not apply.

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  19. Your opinion, not hers, and I hate to say it, but your opinion ain't worth much especially given the amount of projection against what was a pretty neutral statement.
    ------------------------
    "It's not surprising there could be a few errors in a 3,000-page document, Lubchenco said, though she stressed that the goal is always to have no errors.

    "There is a well-orchestrated and fairly successful effort under way to confuse and sometimes cherry-pick information," Lubchenco said.

    The best response, she said, is to provide information from trusted sources such as NOAA, which operates the National Weather Service and collects and distributes data on weather and climate.

    "I don't view our role as trying to convince people of something," she said. "Our role is to inform people.""
    ------------------------
    NOAA includes most of the data gathering arms of the US government for climate, weather and oceanography, and research and outreach. Please tell Eli why its goal should not be to inform people, other than that you suspect they will inform them that your opinion is not the only one in the world? We know that hurts

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  20. After spending the past year observing Lubchenco, I think it is fair to say that when it comes to climate and much of the other areas that NOAA covers, she does not view herself as a policy maker, but rather as a scientific advisor. She also generally wears the hat of advocate for the positions she feels strongly about, so I would say she engages a degree in "stealth" advocacy.

    She has said multiple times that her role is to provide scientific advice to the President, and that seems to be her biggest reason for taking the job. From what I have observed, she generally has has not put herself in the "policy maker" position, hence my opinion above that she engages in a degree of "stealth" advocacy.

    When she testified earlier this year before the Select Committee on Global Warming - did she say anything memorable or engage in discussions of the ins and outs of different policy options? No - she gave an elementary school science project demostration of ocean acidification to the Committee - a mix of science and advocacy for her cause - ocean acidification and support of positions taken by Reps. Markey and Inslee.

    When it comes to climate science, she recites the CCSP/USGCRP study from last summer on climate impacts and usually states that the study under estimates impacts and is too conservative in outlook, but does she engage in discussions on policy implications of various mitigation solutions? Rarely.

    Her other pet project is Marine Spatial Planning, but whenever asked about specifics, she rarely engages and punts to the interagency and White House level discussions. In this area it is very hard to ascertain whether she engages in these internal conversations as a "policy maker" or from her comfort spot of "science advisor" and background as an advocate for "ecosystem based management."

    On NOAA's big push towards "climate services" which seems to be what she is referencing in the quote, there are differnt ways that that could play out. To the degree that the creation of a climate service leads to more professional delivery of products and services along the lines of those delivered by the NWS (meaning a focus on accuracy and open and transparent assessments of uncertainties), then indeed, the goal and outcome will be to "inform" the people. But if the Climate Service is just the repackaging of academic style papers and research, then it is really no different than what NOAA already provides in this area.

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  21. Richard,

    You advocate a $4 social cost of carbon which is extremely low relative to the rest of the literature. I don't have a problem with this, but I don't think you do a very good job of articulating all of the value-laden assumptions that this position is based upon. By failing to do so I think that you fall into the 'stealth advocate' box that Roger has defined. By way of recent example, I would refer to your own non-academic writings:

    http://www.irishenvironment.com/irishenvironment/articles/Entries/2010/1/4_Richard_Tol,_How_Much_Abatement_Is_Enough.html

    " There are four important assumptions in the estimate of the social cost of carbon. How serious is climate change? How much do we care about remote probabilities? How much do we care about people in distant lands? How much do we care about the far future? There is therefore a strong ethical component to any assessment of climate policy. If you do not care about what could happen to someone faraway in the future, then climate change is not a concern. There is, however, strong empirical evidence that people do care about such things. We buy insurance, give to charity, and save for our old age. Following the guidance from such behaviour, the recommended price of carbon is €4/tCO2.

    The current price of CO2 emission permits in Europe is €15/tCO2. That is, we are paying almost four times as much as we should. Alternatively, European climate policy reveals an increased concern about the future. This may well be, but the logical implication is that we should then also start to invest much more in education and pensions."

    By failing to mention the full range of SCC provided by other scholars -- which provides some very important context about your own estimate -- IMO you are clearly advancing a political argument under the guise of science.

    I don't have any problem with you advocating such a position so long as you're clear about the assumptions that your making (e.g. deaths in poor countries count less than deaths in rich countries).

    My own values lead me to side with Weitzmann (i.e. risk averse, Stern (intergenerational equity are important), and Sterner (non-market impacts are important) in arguing for a much higher SCC.

    As I've said before, however, the fact that there is so much subjectiveness intrinisic to CBAs of climate change suggests to me that they are relatively useless from a policy prescription POV, and if anything, these kind of exercises tend to tell us more about the authors than the problem they purport to investigate.

    I'm also wondering Roger if you think that the fields covered by WGII & III are more prone to the kind of stealth advocacy that you find so problematic.

    p.s. on a slightly more provocative note I'm also curious if you would consider Anthony Watts to be a stealth advocate and if so how that plays out in your discussions with your father at the dinner table :)

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  22. If Lomborg is not a scientist, what is Roger? That's just an aside.

    Contrast what Janet Lubchenco said with what Katherine Sebelius said about vaccination.

    Please explain why using the science (in this case about autism and vaccination) is a losing strategy. Should one simply make it up on the run? If you don't use what you know, everything degenerates into a food fight, but, of course, we all know that Sen. Inhofe is such a wonderful person, and would never threaten anyone. It's nonsense like that which makes Roger such a nice little post-modernist.

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  23. -19-Marlowe
    $4/tCO2 is the expected value from a meta-analysis, assuming a standard rate of pure time preference and a standard rate of risk aversion.

    The data and algorithms are on the web, so that anyone can reproduce the result or find something different.

    You seem to have stumbled upon a publication where space limits did not allow me to fully develop the argument. I've written more pages on the caveats of this and similar results than anyone else. I do not repeat the same thing over and over again, however. Instead, I refer to previous papers.

    You may want to reconsider your point.

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  24. Richard,

    Is there anything in your wiki page that you find problematic? I would point to the following passages in particular:

    "According to Tol "the impact of climate change is relatively small"[6]. He was included by National Post columnist Lawrence Solomon in his list of "climate change deniers"[7]. He was also among the US Senate Republican Party's "list of scientists disputing man-made global warming claims", which stated that Tol "dismissed the idea that mankind must act now to prevent catastrophic global warming"[8].

    Tol characterises his position as arguing that the economic costs of climate policy should be kept in proportion to its benefits.[9][10][11]

    He argues against the 2°C 'guardrail' target for limiting temperature rises.[12] Tol does not advocate another target, but has recommended a carbon tax of $5/tC .[13] He acknowledges that this level of taxation is too low to significantly discourage fossil fuel use but argues it would help to stimulate the development of fuel-saving technology and improve the competitiveness of renewable energy sources. He states that compliance may affect the coal and oil industries and the people they employ.

    In an interview with Der Spiegel in 2005, he argued that temperature rises between 2-4 °C would also have advantages. North of a line drawn from Paris to Munich, people would benefit, e.g., from reduced energy bills. However, south of it, people would be overall "losers" of climate change.[14]"

    Again, I think you're perfectly entitled to this position but to espouse such a view without also including all of the problematic (in my view) assumptions that are inherently required to arrive at such a figure is misleading in the extreme. Does the wiki quote above bother you given that it doesn't list any of the "reader beware" qualifications?

    Now you may suggest that it's not your responsibility to ensure that various media report on the dozens of qualifiers that are attached to your view, but it seems to me that your political position in all of this is fairly clear.

    Otherwise wouldn't your non-academic communications on the subject require you to be pretty ambiguous on the matter (e.g. reporter asks: so Dr. Tol what is the cost of climate change on a per ton basis? You SHOULD say: good question, but there is no easy answer...)?

    p.s. your rejoinder on the health impacts from climate change is behind a paywall. Any chance you could summarize your points on that issue :)

    cheers,

    Marlowe.

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  25. The people should expect to be informed of the conclusions of science.

    Skeptics of these conclusions need to convince, with new scientific results, that current conclusions need to be changed.

    Is there any evidence (scientific or other) for "stealth issue advocacy" or just political assertion?

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  26. Pielke Jr shows us that if you start with the presumption that climate science is agenda motivated in the first place, all kinds of wacky conspiracy theories are possible!

    (History will not be kind ot the Pielkes of the world, who worked tirelessly during this time to squelch action on the carbon problem.)

    But who cares? It sure is fun to pull out the trusty ol' "honest broker" cudgel and beat them pesky warmist advocates into submission.

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  27. -24-Marlowe
    Wikipedia is not a neutral or well-informed source on climate change. That extends to the biographies of climate researchers.

    Interviews are often cut to one or two sentences.

    Please read my words, rather that other people's words, to form an opinion about me.

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  28. Seems to me that the NOAA is one of those government agencies that SHOULD be giving advice on the policy implications of scientific research. If the science within the agency is producing results that suggest a strong likelihood of negative outcomes related to particular policy choices then it would seem to be remiss if that agency did not advise appropriately.

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  29. Eli,

    You are always amusing. Lomborg is a statistician. As such, he presents and interprets statistics. As a statistician, he is actually more qualified to do that than most climate and environmental scientists. He is also an advocate and quite open about it.

    You point out well enough that NOAA gathers information and informs the public about it. For the most part, that is what they do. But none of that information forces the Administrator to make claims about the future of Climate change. As an administrator, her policy role should be internal in the organization, not in the halls of Congress. There she is an advocate, posing as an informer. Roger's interpretation is spot on and yours more than a little tortured.

    Seamus, 26

    Are you going to postulate that there is absolutely no connection between science, science funding and political agendas on a topic as politically charged as AGW? That would be an interesting argument. Of course, recognizing that climate science has an agenda is not the same as a conspiracy. Unions have an agenda, but it is hardly a conspiracy that they seek higher wagers for workers. The agenda of climate science is to fund additional climate science and the best way to do that is to infer an AGW crisis. It is no conspiracy, just how funding is set up.

    If there is a conspiracy, it is in the denial that such things are occurring.

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  30. Speaking of stealth advocacy, it seems like that's all Scientific American does these days. That magazine has really fallen.

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  31. Richard,

    With respect I've read lots of what you've written both academic and otherwise and I think I have a good idea of where you stand on this. I've asked you fairly straightforward questions in this thread and you've chosen to dodge/ignore them. I also think my criticism with respect to your stealth advocacy is relevant and I wish Roger would respond but he's busy with other posts it seems, so what more can I do?

    Incidently, I find it somewhat ironic that you're disparaging your wikipedia page since you're on record as having edited and commenting on it. To wit:

    "Guilty as charged. I edited the page about me. Did I introduce anything that is not true or biased? I do not think so, and nobody told me so. The warning sign should be taken down unless someone shows that there are errors on the page. Rtol (talk) 21:13, 12 June 2008 (UTC)"

    Your last edit was on January 24, 2010. In your view is it something that is worthwhile (i.e. spending time trying to ensure that web material about you is accurate)?

    cheers,

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  32. -31-Marlowe

    Apologies, what is it that you wanted me to answer? I did miss it.

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  33. I would say that there is a more general issue here. When a reality-based science (i.e. a science that is based on real data) arrives at a finding that is well supported by the reality but that has strong implications for human belief systems (eg religion, politics) then people who hold those belief systems have a choice. They can either make adjustments to their belief system to accommodate the new scientific finding, or they can try to reinterpret (or deny) the science in order to keep hold of the internal consistency of their belief system.

    The honest approach of course, if reality-based science is saying something that conflicts with your "belief system", is to examine that belief system and adjust it to fit reality.

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  34. -31-Marlowe
    Pls spend a few more minutes studying the history of my entry on Wikipedia.

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  35. Ok one last try.

    Richard, if the leaders of the world got together and asked you how quickly we should try to reduce emissions what would you say

    a) go slow (i.e. put a small price on carbon $5/ton)

    b) go fast (i.e. $15-25/ton)

    c) go really fast (i.e. > $25/ton + aggressive complementary measures, such as building code changes, fuel economy standards, gov funded technology R&D.

    d) no idea. how fast we SHOULD go depends on our VALUES. As an economist all I can do is provide some guidance about the implied costs and benefits using a variety of subjective assumptions.


    IMO the correct anwser is d). Your non-academic communications on this issue suggest you favour a). Your academic writing seems to suggest d). I find this problematic. Do you?

    Roger, I've got a few questions.

    1. Do you think that the fields covered by WGIII are more prone to the kind of stealth advocacy that you find so problematic given that much of analytical foundation rests upon subjective assumptions?

    2. On a slightly more provocative note I'm also curious if you would consider Anthony Watts to be a stealth advocate and if so how that plays out in your discussions with your father at the dinner table :)

    3. In your ongoing debates with the folks over at RC and others about stealth advocacy, would you agree that the core issue is a misunderstanding on their part as to how you define 'advocacy'? Specifically, that by communicating publicly (i.e. outside of normal academic channels) about the science of climate change and correcting errors/misrepresentations they are engaged in the 'agenda-setting' aspect of advocacy. Whereas in their view they are simply performing an educational service and adopt a much narrower (and I would argue more conventional) definition of advocate (i.e. someone who advances a SPECIFIC policy (e.g. ban seal hunting). So, while they are policy agnostic in terms of what instrument to use (C&T vs carbon tax, R&D etc.) they are nonetheless advocating SOME policy on climate change simply by virtue of communicating the science of climate change and commenting on how it is portrayed in the public sphere.

    Have I got it about right?

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  36. Jim Clarke, there will be funding for climate science no matter what. Red herring.

    It's clear that Roger here is trying to politicize the debate, and ascribe motives to the scientists and advocates in order to attack the message (by attacking the messenger). Since the denialists don't have any actual scientific evidence to back up their claims that AGW isn't such a big deal, innuendo and character attacks are about all they have.

    And the "lukewarmers" don't fool me. Prentending to be a skeptic doesn't make you a real skeptic.

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  37. -35-Marlowe

    Some replies below, in CAPS:

    1. Do you think that the fields covered by WGIII are more prone to the kind of stealth advocacy that you find so problematic given that much of analytical foundation rests upon subjective assumptions?

    ACTUALLY, THE OPPOSITE. IT IS HARDER TO HIDE VALUES IN THE CONTEXT OF SUBJECTIVE ASSUMPTIONS. WGIII IS VERY MUCH ENGAGED IN OPEN ADVOCACY, THOUGH THERE IS SOME STEALTH ADVOCACY AT WORK THERE ALSO, AS INDICATED IN TOL'S SERIES.

    2. On a slightly more provocative note I'm also curious if you would consider Anthony Watts to be a stealth advocate and if so how that plays out in your discussions with your father at the dinner table :)

    FROM WHAT I HAVE READ WATTS APPEARS TO BE VERY OPEN ABOUT HIS ADVOCACY. HOWEVER, IF HE CLAIMS THAT THE SCIENCE DICTATES A PARTICULAR COURSE OF ACTION, THEN YES, HE WOULD BE ENGAGING IN STEALTH ISSUE ADVOCACY. FELL FREE TO SHARE DATA ON THIS SUBJECT IF YOU'D LIKE.

    3. In your ongoing debates with the folks over at RC and others about stealth advocacy, would you agree that the core issue is a misunderstanding on their part as to how you define 'advocacy'? Specifically, that by communicating publicly (i.e. outside of normal academic channels) about the science of climate change and correcting errors/misrepresentations they are engaged in the 'agenda-setting' aspect of advocacy. Whereas in their view they are simply performing an educational service and adopt a much narrower (and I would argue more conventional) definition of advocate (i.e. someone who advances a SPECIFIC policy (e.g. ban seal hunting). So, while they are policy agnostic in terms of what instrument to use (C&T vs carbon tax, R&D etc.) they are nonetheless advocating SOME policy on climate change simply by virtue of communicating the science of climate change and commenting on how it is portrayed in the public sphere.

    Have I got it about right?

    YES THIS IS RIGHT. TO DEFINE POLICY ADVOCACY IN TERMS OF ARGUING FOR SPECIFIC ACTIONS IS NAIVE OR UNIFORMED. FOR INSTANCE, I MIGHT ARGUE THAT WE NEED TO ATTACK IRAQ. TO SUGGEST THAT I AM NOT ADVOCATING BECAUSE I AM NOT WEIGHING IN ON A LAND INVASION VS. BOMBING VS. A SEA BASED STRIKE WOULD BE OBVIOUSLY SILLY. SAME HERE.

    JUST LIKE SOCIAL SCIENTISTS CAN'T REWRITE UNDERSTANDINGS OF RADIATIVE TRANSFER TO SUIT THEIR PET THEORIES, NOR CAN PHYSICAL SCIENTISTS REWRITE SOCIAL SCIENCE UNDERSTANDINGS TO SUIT THEIR PECULIAR VIEWS OF THE WORLD.

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  38. -35-Marlowe
    Option d is invalid. A policy advisor cannot and should not refuse to advice policy.

    I tell policy makers to start slow and accelerate.

    I tell policy makers that $5/tC can be justified with conservative assumptions, that a $20/tC can be defended too, and that I won't protest if the carbon tax is set at $50/tC.

    And indeed I have not protested against the recent prices in the EU ETS.

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  39. thanks for the clarifications Richard and Roger. Richard I agree with everything you've just said and sorry if it seemed like such a tortuous process to get to a point of mutual understanding :)

    cheers,

    Marlowe.

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  40. Jim Clarke: FWIW, the bit about Lomborg and Pielke was a continuation of a go round at von Storch's place about Wissenschaftler, which is usually translated as scientist, but has a more general meaning. Tol was there.

    NOAA also does a huge amount of basic research into weather and climate. Roger is not too far from a very large NOAA lab, and so am I for a different one. It is not a simple data base house, so yes, the Administrator does testify to Congress, advise the President and talk to the public about the implications of climate science, and what changes in policy would be advisable as indicated by her agency's expertise and THAT IS HER JOB.

    Roger and you object to her doing her job.

    It goes like this, when it works:

    NOAA: Our studies indicate that there will be a problem with N2O emissions affecting stratospheric ozone

    CONGRESS: What are the sources of the excess N2O emissions?

    NOAA: Mostly agriculture, but also combustion

    CONGRESS: What are the costs? How can we control this if we conclude it is necessary?

    NOAA: We need to talk to EPA and Agriculture and the car makers and oh yeah, John Deere. There may be some win-win stuff here. We can come up with policy recommendations including costs and benefits.

    CONGRESS: Thanks, we don't want to do any of it. What's likely to happen?

    NOAA: Page 15 lists the consequences of doing nothing. They cost XXX.

    EPA: We have drawn up some proposed regulations.

    AG: We have some pilot projects running

    CONGRESS: Hmm let's think on this.

    Sorry, this "honest broker" stuff is twaddle.

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  41. "That possibility is not implausible, actually, as reality has a well-known liberal bias."

    I was not aware of this; I thought reality was unbiased. If it's biased, it's hard to claim that it's reality.

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  42. "It's not surprising there could be a few errors in a 3,000-page document,..."

    I love how scientists dismiss an error like the IPCC being wrong by more than a factor of 10 in the melting Himalayan glaciers (i.e., that they are likely to last for more than 250 years, rather than the 25 predicted), and then failing to catch the error for more than 2 years, as "unsurprising."

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  43. Eli- I see the role of the head of NOAA as to advocate for more climate research to fund scientists; and for effective and efficient regulation of fisheries.

    Researchers can warn that there is, or will be a problem and why. It takes different fields of research to figure out what to do about a problem. It takes different interests weighing in to solve the political question of whose oxen will be gored, if any need to be. Bipartisan commissions, or interest-based FACA committees with scientific input from a variety of disciplines is the best place for this to happen. A bunch of agencies rushing Congress is likely to only result in increases of budget or regulatory authority for those agenices, and solutions.. not so much.

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  44. Seamus 36:

    "...there will be funding for climate science no matter what. Red herring."

    You have obviously never worked for an agency or organization dependent on Federal Grant money.

    Before climate change became a crisis, funding for climate change was a tiny fraction of what it is today. When it is revealed that climate change is not a crisis, funding will be far less than it is today (although it will never return to the 1980s level, due to the huge momentum that government spending creates). Funding does not require scientists to lie or be part of a conspiracy, it just requires them to connect to the issue in some way. Consequently, a study that reveals that most of the Antarctic was cooling during the late 20th Century, concluded that this cooling was not necessarily contrary to the AGW theory, (even though it was) because there could be another explanation. There was no reason to even mention AGW in the conclusion, if it wasn't for the need to preserve additional funding and status.

    To dismiss the argument as a Red Herring is to admit that you do not wish to face reality.

    Roger is not trying to politicize the debate. The debate is political and has been since politicians turned off the air conditioning for Jim Hanson's Congressional Testimony in 1988! Again, you obviously do not wish to face reality on this issue.

    You also wrote:

    "Since the denialists don't have any actual scientific evidence to back up their claims that AGW isn't such a big deal, innuendo and character attacks are about all they have."

    As this is a policy blog and not a technical science blog, I will refrain from comparing the evidence of both sides. I will point out that the term 'denialist' is a character attack on folks like me. I have not called you any names, but simply presented logical arguments. So who is engaging in 'innuendo and character attacks' here?

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  45. Jim Clarke's assertion should not go unchallenged.

    While funding for various matters related to climate change, especially energy technology, should and probably did increase, funding for the core discipline of climate science has on the whole not been keeping up with inflation. There is some prospect of this turning around in the next couple of years, but the idea that the crisis has been good for the field is false. Indeed, one of the points where I agree with our host is to argue that it has been quite bad for the field's intellectual and social structure. But that hasn't been compensated by improved funding.

    See http://initforthegold.blogspot.com/2007/04/science-budget-talking-point.html and note RPJr in the comments.

    This is a key obfuscation much beloved by the obfuscators, and in fact it is Clinton's doing. Rather than increasing the funding for climate science, they lumped a whole bunch of other (pre-existing) funding streams into the CCPP, making climate science look like a multi-billion-dollar line item when in fact is has stayed stuck in the low nine figures consistently since the 1980s.

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  46. "While funding for various matters related to climate change, especially energy technology, should and probably did increase, funding for the core discipline of climate science has on the whole not been keeping up with inflation."

    Thirty years ago, climate science essentially didn't exist.

    I got an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering, specializing in energy, and not only was there no course on global warming, there wasn't even a single class session devoted to global warming.

    One of my courses used Scientific American's 1980 book, Energy and the Environment. That's a 100+ page book, and there isn't even 1 full page dedicated to global warming. In fact, I don't think global warming is even *mentioned* more than once or twice. And the phrase "climate change" is not used even once, to my recollection:

    http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/ListingDetails?bi=2229812843

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