This might not be the best title to choose for this post. The expression has roots in defenders of a castle putting their heads above the parapet and risking being shot and I know how much some climate deniers love to play the victim and claim their critics are threatening them. So my use of this title is really putting my own head above the parapet (safe in the knowledge few will read it anyway)
That amused me so I kept the title. Just to emphasize: no violence of any kind is implied in the title. The expression is meant in it's proper metaphorical sense: Exposing ones arguments to scrutiny and criticism.
This is a post just to record a thought I've been having. Climate skeptics largely keep to their own. Even on the odd occasion where their yappings make it all the way out of their little blog world into the "media" it's usually just The Telegraph or the Daily Mail. Yes that can be damaging to the public's understanding of the science, but usually no-one important takes the Daily Mail or Delingpoles's rantings seriously enough to respond.
But, if the deniers push the misinformation too far, it does get the attention of experts. And that's often when a smack-down occurs. A backlash that ends up damaging them. Think about the time when they managed to trick Dr Richard Muller into investigating the surface temperature record. How did that work out for them? And that recent "49 astronauts" letter only ended up getting a stiff rebuttle from the chief scientist at NASA. And who can forget when scientists at the NOAA analyzed Watt's SurfaceStation project data.
Almost every time the deniers put their heads above the parapet it ends up badly for them. They certainly do want the limelight, but when they get it, it often backfires. So it seems to me that there is a sweet-spot for climate denialism. Push misinformation so it gets noticed by the public, but not so far that it gets the attention of experts. And that means climate denial will never be popular. Like an immune system* the world does respond to toxic misinformation, but only if it becomes chronic. The comings and goings on the likes of WUWT, Jo Nova, Steven Goddard, Inhofe, and all the other little blogs are just too small fry to receive that response.
For anyone who really cares about reducing climate denial, the fix in my opinion is to lower the parapet. The tolerance of the world's immune system to scientific misinformation has to be lowered. More of the BS skeptics come up with have to be addressed, perhaps even stuff that doesn't make it off their blogs. Once they start receiving damage they will slowly grind to an irrelevance.
How can this be done? I have for a long time advocated a government funded body tasked solely to address the arguments du-jour skeptics make on blogs like WUWT. It could even operate under the IPCC as tasked with addressing skeptic arguments. The deniers can't really argue against that because they operate under the pretense that they are raising serious concerns they want answers to.
Half a million or so per annum of international funding for such a body could produce amazing value in terms of reducing the toxic impact of denial misinformation**. If members the public and journalists know of and can visit an official site that regularly details and debunks denialist misinformation it would become largely neutralized. The fact is that working scientists and even working people like me, don't have the time to analyze WUWT in a timely fashion nor the ability to prominently show our results and hold them to task.
*Typically victim-card carrying climate deniers would at this point accuse me of comparing them to viruses (yes the word is viruses, virii is pedantic)
**The caveat is I can't quantify their impact on public perception. How many people who aren't hell-bent ideologues really take climate deniers seriously? They could just be preaching to the choir. Perhaps ignoring them is the right move.