Mystery solved, providing an important insight about the global warming debate.

Summary:  This was a small mystery, whose solution revealed something important about the public debate about anothropogenic global warming (not the science, but the propaganda).

In a discussion about global warming with Juan Delmastro (a courteous correspondent, who made some good points), we have the following dialog (see the full comment below):

FM:  BTW – the “skeptics” have stated endless times that they they are providing a rebuttal — not providing a proof of an alternative theory. As Steve McIntyre said (source; one of his countless statements like this):…

Delmastro:  I can hold now very accurately that your ‘comment replies’ towards my arguments do also extend far beyond into suppositions not well based in facts. Also your position to convince people that BTW is a valid rebuttal would go far beyond record too, also BTW is susceptible of PR and politics. I don’t need to dig into this.

By”BTW” I meant, of course, by the way.  But what is Delmastro talking about?  He explains on his website, The Contingency Monitor:

If you are new to read about global warming literature, expect this two common abbreviations: BTW – skeptics to the hypothesis (or conclusions) of human contribution to Global Warming, in climate change, and pro-AGW or AGW…

I do not recall ever seeing this usage of “BTW”.  I did a google of RealClimate, which I consider the best pro-AGW site (a must-read for anyone interested in this important issue).  Nothing but “by the way”.  I did some googles for “BTW” and GW-relevant terms.  Nothing.  I asked the readers of this site to investigate.  Was this a foreign language acronym or misunderstanding of Enlgish?  Perhaps a new, obsolete, or infrequently used term?   I emailed Delmastro, asking for clarification.

Update

See Delmastro’s reply, comment #8.  No retraction, just the “wounded gentleman” schtickt.  He changed the entry on his blog to read (bold emphasis added), with no mention of any correction:

If you are new to read about global warming literature, expect this two common abbreviations: Con-AGW– skeptics to the hypothesis (or conclusions) of human contribution to Global Warming, in climate change, and pro-AGW or AGW…

Here is my guess what happened…  The pro-AGW comments on this site contain numerous instances of making stuff up.  With a few exceptions, those making these comments do not defend their made up stuff when called on it — although they often post new comments (often with more made up stuff).  Here we see the extreme example:  posting a rebuttal to “by the way.”  That is, Delmastro probably “knew” what I said was wrong even if he did not recognize the term “btw”.  So, rather than ask — or google “btw” — he wrote a strong rebuttal.

When called on it, he choose not to admit his mistake.  Instead he invented a definition of “btw”, guessing that nobody would bother to follow-up.  This would be trivia, except that it is symptomatic of what you see in many of the pro-AGW comments on the FM site — and in so much of the public debate about AGW.

Almost none of these pro-AGW comments display any knowledge of the case for AGW (which is real, hence the debate).  That is why I say their support is almost religious in nature, based on faith.  Immune to logic or data.  Since they just “know” their belief is necessary for the world’s salvation, they can comfortably attack any sketpics in severe terms — disregarding any normal conventions of logic or honesty — making stuff up, which quickly become lies).

For more on the ethics of this post, I recommend reading phageghost’s comment  (#10 below).

The full text of Delmastro’s comment follows, posted as #13 in reply to “Another pro-global warming comment, effective PR at work!

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In #10. Part A by Fabius Maximus:

As you are not (at least, so far as we know) a climate scientist, your presentation reflects (more or less) the popular opinion of AGW — not the views of a climate scientist (which I could only “debate” by asking questions, with references). Since few of your comments were accurate in any meaningful sense, this shows the power of the well-executed PR strategy to convince people that AGW is a serious threat — far beyond what the record shows with any reliability.

Juan Delmastro replies: my presentation reflects both popular opinion and some views of climate scientists. Some of your comments also were an extension of your own views and not mines (your ‘straw argumentation’ particularly calling me holding PR and suggesting that I advocate for trillion $USD spending as a corollary for me being Pro-AGW…).

I can hold now very accurately that your ‘comment replies’ towards my arguments do also extend far beyond into suppositions not well based in facts. Also your position to convince people that BTW is a valid rebuttal would go far beyond record too, also BTW is susceptible of PR and politics. I don’t need to dig into this.
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Fabius Maximus: Three brief and minor comments.

(1) Page 65 is just a freshman level description of atmospheric gases, and non-controversial. This was known in the 1970’s (e.g., Manabe et al in 1975). But it tells us nothing about the AGW debate.

Juan Delmastro replies: I would insist, it says there in p.65 “… Only in the last decade have scientists become aware that other, trace greenhouse gases can also be important contributors to global warming. Concentrations of many of these trace gases are known to vary naturally, but there is widespread agreement that human activities are contributing to the current increases”.

(2) “suggesting that I advocate for trillion $USD spending as a corollary for me being Pro-AGW”

My exact words were “The pro-AGW folks recommend spending trillions of dollars — vitally needed elsewhere — to control CO2 emissions.” This does not attribute these words to you, but does represent the public policy recommendations of many (most?) leaders of the pro-AGW “community.”

(3) “I can hold now very accurately that your ‘comment replies’ towards my arguments do also extend far beyond into suppositions not well based in facts.”

Do you have a specific example?

(3) “Also your position to convince people that BTW is a valid rebuttal would go far beyond record too, also BTW is susceptible of PR and politics.”

I used BTW to mean “by the way”, in the following quote:

BTW – the “skeptics” have stated endless times that they they are providing a rebuttal — not providing a proof of an alternative theory. As Steve McIntyre said (source; one of his countless statements like this):…

On his site he says that BTW means “skeptics to hypothesis of global warming.” I don’t recall seeing that usage, but that clears up this minor point. Has anyone else see this usage?

— {end comment} —

Afterword

If you are new to this site, please glance at the archives below.  You may find answers to your questions in these.

Please share your comments by posting below.  Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 words max), civil, and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

For more information from the FM site

To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar.  Of esp relevance to this topic:

Posts on the FM site about climate change

  1. A look at the science and politics of global warming, 12 June 2008
  2. Global warming means more earthquakes!, 19 June 2008
  3. An article giving strong evidence of global warming, 30 June 2008
  4. Worrying about the Sun and climate change: cycle 24 is late, 10 July 2008
  5. More forecasts of a global cooling cycle, 15 July 2008
  6. Update: is Solar Cycle 24 late (a cooling cycle, with famines, etc)?, 15 july 2008
  7. Two valuable perspectives on global warming, 4 August 2008
  8. President Kennedy speaks to us about global warming and Climate Science, 7 August 2008
  9. Solar Cycle 24 is still late, perhaps signalling cool weather ahead, 2 September 2008
  10. Update on solar cycle 24 – and a possible period of global cooling, 1 October 2008
  11. Good news about global warming!, 21 October 2008
  12. One of the most interesting sources of news about science and nature!, 27 October 2008
  13. “Aliens cause global warming”: wise words from the late Michael Crichton, 15 November 2008
  14. A reply to comments on FM site about Global Warming, 17 November 2008
  15. Is anthropogenic global warming a scientific debate, or a matter of religious belief?, 22 November 2008
  16. Weekend Reading, watching the world change before our eyes, 29 November 2008
  17. Another pro-global warming comment, effective PR at work!, 1 December 2008

14 thoughts on “Mystery solved, providing an important insight about the global warming debate.

  1. Obscure Pynchon reference, pertaining to “The Crying of Lot 49”. BTW — Believing Trystero’s Weltanschauung. I am making this up.

  2. Critical theories are important at testing the validity of what could be considered a ‘popular’ theory. To simply dismiss people questioning what you believe and start labeling them is more a sign of fundamentalism then serious debate.

    Regarding ‘BTW’, I think it is just a personal choice on the authors part as I can not find any common usage as described on the website. But such muddying of the waters has become the norm with the climate debate.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: That explanation does not seem likely IMO in this context. If he knew BTW meant “by the way”, he would not invent a new meaning and immediately reply “Also your position to convince people that BTW is a valid rebuttal would go far beyond record too, also BTW is susceptible of PR and politics.”

  3. FWIW, I am happy to see the cult of text-lexicon start to break down. IMHO, the proper reaction to strings of semi-intelligble upper case letters in a normal English sentence is WTF!

  4. I tried the Online Acronym Finder, but with no success. Maybe it’s a new acronym? Or maybe it’s a reference to British Traditional Witchcraft? Ok, I’m just kidding, I think.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: No need to guess; let’s try it out!

    Also your position to convince people that British Traditional Witchcraft is a valid rebuttal would go far beyond record too, also British Traditional Witchcraft is susceptible of PR and politics.

    No, this does not look right for a discussion of AGW. On another and weirder site, perhaps.

  5. The closest I can come up with that makes sense is from an acronym site that claims it stands for Behind the Wheel. This seems to have a kind of logic but I cannot find any climate site using this terminology apart from the Contingency Monitor.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Let’s test this theory, by inserting it into his original text.

    Also your position to convince people that behind the wheel is a valid rebuttal would go far beyond record too, also behind the wheet is susceptible of PR and politics.

    No, this does not look right.

  6. Could this be of use?

    “On the avalanche size distribution in the BTW model”, Peter L. Dorn, David S. Hughes, and Kim Christensen, Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College, Prince Consort Road, London SW7 2BW, United Kingdom, 3 July 2001 — Abstract:

    In the analysis of the probability distribution P(s,L) of avalanche sizes in the two-dimensional Bak-Tang-Wiesenfeld (BTW) model, two distinct regions can be resolved for large system sizes L. The region at large avalanche sizes has the characteristics of a finite-size cut-off similar to that observed more clearly in other models and is thus excluded from the scaling analysis …

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    Fabius Maximus replies: Avalanche sizes? I assume you’re kidding.

  7. I am sorry to all the readers, I was confused, I thought BTW meant the abbreviation to "The Contrarians (Skeptics) of AGW Hypothesis" in a particular way, that by then I chose to respect.

    I am not from USA, therefore I was not in knowledge of all your abbreviations, but I still can learn and I did so. I did correct the registry of my debate with Fabius in my blog, it is now ok, and there you can read it well. I edited for clarity purposes and in favor of the reader.

    You needed not to make such a post Fabius. I still read you however…but know with a feeling of sadness towards you. I thought you were a real gentleman, someone interested in truthfulness, without political bias, a holder of equanimity in its opinions and rationale…you showed me not. I thought you were from the old school of science minded and independent thinkers, and a fighter for correctness…you showed me not.

    I have nothing more to say in this blog.

    Sincerely to all, Juan Andrés Delmastro
    The Contingency Monitor.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Your excuse might fly but for the statement on your blog:

    If you are new to read about global warming literature, expect this two common abbreviations: BTW – skeptics to the hypothesis (or conclusions) of human contribution to Global Warming, in climate change, and pro-AGW or AGW…

    Neither you, I, nor the readers of this blog have so far found a single instance of “btw” so used. I strongly suspect you knew this was false when your wrote it. When caught, instead of a retraction and apology you attempt this “sad gentleman” schtick.

    Note that you changed the text of your blog entry with no mention of a correction.

    This duplicity is characteristic of the pro-AGW comments on this site: just making things up. When the lies are exposed, they just move on to new made-up-stuff. After pointing out dozens of instances, at last we have a clear example. AGW is too serious an issue to allow the debate to be so conducted, and I will do what I can (little though that is) to cut through the false rhetoric and highlight the underlying facts.

  8. Hmm, for what it is worth, I thought that the BTW acronym was a genuine reference to a particular contrarian view of Global Warming, just one I was unfamiliar with. In fact, I thought it would turn out to be B_____ T____ Warming, with the B and T representing unknown words.

    For example, I could coin an acronym for Solar Cycle Warming, SCW which would be an acronym for the Solar Cycle view of Global Warming.

  9. FM note: This is IMO an important comment!

    Fabius,

    Obviously you’re frustrated at the repeated refusal of AGW-defenders to read or understand what you are actually saying, which is really very simple (“If we are to devote huge amounts of money and energy to addressing a problem, please establish satisfactorily that the problem exists, and for the love of God publish your data and methods.”).

    But come on. To me this post comes across as snarky and cruel, a product of that frustration. Usually I love this blog because it seems to be one of the few havens of dispassionate rationalism on the net.

    Not being familiar with English internetese I think Juan did genuinely think that BTW was an acronym for a school of thought in opposition to the pro-AGW crowd. Granted he should have clarified before trying to BS through it but when learning a foreign language you often have to just soldier on and pretend like you understand, hoping to pick it up from context later. Admittedly dangerous in a policy debate.

    This is your bully pulpit, true, but remember the 4GW tenet of the strong fighting the weak . . . don’t level the whole village just because your buddy got fragged . . .

    Keep up the great work. Mahalo.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I understand your view, and thought about it before posting this. This post is cruel, which I usually try to avoid (and sometimes fail). But … this is an issue of extreme seriousness on several levels.

    (a) People like this who (if the comments on this site are representative) have almost no idea what they are talking about — as this post demonstrates — support the Obama Administration’s plans to take extreme measures to fight what might be a non-existent or minor threat. Regulations on development and use of coal, America’s primary energy resources. Carbon-trading schemes. Tax credits and actual expenditures on measures to reduce CO2 emissions. It’s a long list.

    9b) Not only might these measure be expensive and reduce our economic growth (or futher drive it down), but some of them could cripple our preparation for peak oil — a real and serious danger over the next decade (or so).

    (c) Equally bad, their blind support takes much of the pressure off climate scientists to improve the quality of their research and support disclosure and verification of their data and methods. If AGW is a serious threat, they are in effect masking the measure that will make it evident and allow mobilization of the necessary support.

    (d) So they get to attack me in strong terms, mostly making stuff up to do so. As this post shows in clear terms. But we should reply only gently, with mild words and soft reproofs? I might have agreed with you before beginning this series. But I have come to believe that the stakes are too high, and that the gloves must come off.

  10. First time poster here after long lurking. Lame, Juan, lame. You tried to BS us, (need help with that acronym?) got caught, and now sorrowfully announce that our host is mean. One can gain great respect by simply knowing what one is talking about, preferably before posting.

    Fabius, the gloves should come off. It’s well past time to begin calling nonsense for what it is. Thanks for so doing. Just gimme some truth, as Mr. Lennon said.

  11. From comment above summarising FM’s position:

    “If we are to devote huge amounts of money and energy to addressing a problem, please establish satisfactorily that the problem exists, and for the love of God publish your data and methods.”

    I am repeating another post in related thread about weakness in current ‘scientific’ model / belief system, but do so because I think this is really a critical issue because
    a) the scientific model does not have the ability to establish whether or not the problem exists nor the systemic ability to admit this and therefore
    b) we actually lack vocabulary to evaluate this and many more such issues. And the reason for such lack of vocabulary is that because as a society we are operating on a rather crude level, i.e. not nearly as ‘advanced’ as we continuously repeat to ourselves.

    I cannot do this in 250 words so simply skip to a conclusion: what we have here is a clear and present example of the deep, fundamental flaw in the current paradigm of ‘democratic’/oligarchic/classless governance which itself is rooted in one-classless view of reality or truth, namely the materialist one.

    Again, to echo the problem with ‘science’: we actually lack a vocabulary to even evaluate this since there is essentially no understanding of different paradigms, either possible or historic. For example, very few people living today (in the West) have any understanding of how either corrupt or enlightened monarchical systems functioned in the past or could function today. Because of this lack of vocabulary/experience, there is little to say in shorthand on the subject except perhaps to point out again that given the clear and presently dangerous deficiencies in currently dominant systems, it behooves us to promote a vigorous cultural renewal that seeks to return to and rediscover fundamental basics that clarify, for example, the difference between what is known, knowable, unknown and unknowable. We don’t have a vocabulary for this any more because we have been subsumed by deeply flawed materialist (‘modern’) fallacies for at least a couple of centuries now backed by the illusion of progress that significant technological (if largely only mechanical) advances have genuinely achieved.

  12. LOL

    I could not resist adding that. Any of you not following BTW or LOL better catch up if you want to communicate with your children–or merely remain informed as to what THEY are saying, especially if they are not listening to you. I do hope that improved technology will soon displace these ubiquitous text message acronyms. They are a product of the phone text culture, and I would assume that there are corresponding mysteries evolving in Spanish and other languages.

    And my two cents on GW. The scary thing is, we are dumping unprecedented amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. It’s an experiment running with no controls and multitudes of unknown variables. People claiming to know the answer when they don’t, i.e., when they cannot prove it, are adding to the problem, not diminishing it.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: It’s even worse. We’re dumping other things into the atmosphere, such as particles, the basis of the global cooling fears during the 1970’s (see this timeline for more info). Big-time research is needed to find out what’s happening, on a far more effective scale than anything being done today.

  13. Just picking on one AGW proponent who may have a less than perfect facility with language is hardly a dismissal of AGW. “BTW” has nothing to do with AGW…so picking on someone’s prickly typos is a ‘straw man’ argument.

    I suggest examining the reasons for longer growing seasons instead (seasonal ‘creeping’ where natural spring comes earlier every year…not fixed as on a calender..)

    Or rapid melting of glaciers at a unprecedented rate. All the data suggests human acceleration of heating is causing such to happen. Let alone the huge supply of humanoid actions and population spreading like cancer upon the earth. (hey, I am looking at it from a nonpartisan, non species-biased way…as maybe a bear or coyote would if he could think like us…. from the other species perspective we, humans are indeed a huge cancer upon the earth…which is maybe a hard truth for a human-centric viewpoint. ==again letting your individual self-protective emotions dictate your logic.)

    Or why you and other critics of AGW get so emotionally involved in denying the obvious? (not an ad hominem…but there have been many ad hominem arguments against “watermelon” people..environmentalist outside/commie inside..ho, ho a typical rightwing term against any environmentalist or any AGW investigator.

    And perhaps we needn’t worry as with a Second Great Depression and a possible Die-back of humans as a resulting concomitant of starvation and war…then AGW will no longer obsess it’s critics (we’ll have more immediate concerns..)

    I do not see a Socialist conspiracy to curtail Free Markets or any such thing which a large percentage of the antiAGW critic say there is…except only to the degree to save the planet. (Rush Limbaugh is hardly a scientist but his theories hold sway over a majority of AGW critics…and say, environmentalists are basically commies.) Otherwise some Scientific investigation is needed and shouldn’t be dismissed as the Bush Administration did in fact do (politically constrain proper investigation into the possibilities.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Nothing you say is remotely relevant to anything said on this site. Except for the factoid about glaciers, which is irrelevant (the glaciers have been melting since the end of the little ice age two centures ago).

    I took the time to reply to the first 5 dozen pro-AGW comments like this, folks just making stuff up and then writing replies to their fantasy. This has become old and boring.

    Suggestion: use quotes when replying. For example, try re-writing this comment with each section a reply to something I actually said.

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