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Climate Cover-Up: A (Brief) Review

Filed under: — mike @ 20 October 2009 - (Español)

We often allude to the industry-funded attacks against climate change science, and the dubious cast of characters involved, here at RealClimate. In recent years, for example, we’ve commented on disinformation efforts by industry front groups such as the “Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, the Fraser Institute, and a personal favorite, The Heartland Institute, and by industry-friendly institutions such as the Wall Street Journal editorial board, and other media outlets that assist in the manufacture and distribution of climate change disinformation.


When it comes to the climate change disinformation campaign, we have chosen to focus on the intellectually bankrupt nature of the scientific arguments, rather than the political motivations and the sometimes intriguing money trail. We leave it to others, including organizations such as SourceWatch.org, the sleuths at DeSmogBlog, authors such as Ross Gelbspan (author of The Heat is On, and The Boiling Point), and edited works such as Rescuing Science from Politics to deal with such issues.

One problem with books on this topic is that they quickly grow out of date. Just over the past few years, there have been many significant events in the ‘climate wars’ as we have reported on this site. Fortunately, there is a book out now by our friends at DeSmogBlog (co-founder James Hoggan, and regular contributor Richard Littlemore) entitled Climate Cover Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming that discusses the details of the contrarian attacks on climate science up through the present, and in painstaking detail. They have done their research, and have fully documented their findings, summarized by the publisher thusly:

Talk of global warming is nearly inescapable these days — but there are some who believe the concept of climate change is an elaborate hoax. Despite the input of the world’s leading climate scientists, the urgings of politicians, and the outcry of many grassroots activists, many Americans continue to ignore the warning signs of severe climate shifts. How did this happen? Climate Cover-up seeks to answer this question, describing the pollsters and public faces who have crafted careful language to refute the findings of environmental scientists. Exploring the PR techniques, phony “think tanks,” and funding used to pervert scientific fact, this book serves as a wake-up call to those who still wish to deny the inconvenient truth.

There are interesting new details about the Revelle/Singer/Lancaster affair and other tidbits that were new to me, and will likely to be new to others who been following the history of climate change contrarianism. Ross Gelbspan who has set the standard for investigative reporting
when it comes to the climate change denial campaign, had this to say about the book:

absolutely superb-one of the best dissections of the climate information war I
have ever seen. This is one terrific piece of work!

There is an important story behind the climate change denial effort that goes well beyond the scientific issues at hand. Its not our mission at RealClimate to tell that story, but there are others who are doing it, and doing it well. Hoggan and Littlemore are clearly among them. Read this book, and equally important, make sure that others who need to do as well.


455 Responses to “Climate Cover-Up: A (Brief) Review”

  1. 1
    ccpo says:

    I would like to see Naomi Oreskes’ presentation (video) get some support from you. Video is much more accessible than books for many, and she does a great job of peeling back the facade. She mentions origins that others seem to sometimes miss. (I’ve not read the book mentioned.) But “The American Denial of Global Warming” should get mention any time such topics are raised, imo.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T4UF_Rmlio

    Cheers

  2. 2
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Thanks for the review. I think DeepClimate’s efforts also deserve a shout.

    [Response: No question about it. Thanks. – mike]

  3. 3
    Steven T. Corneliussen says:

    My sense is increasingly that what’s under attack is less and less the merits of the climate consensus and more and more the credibility and integrity of scientists and science itself. In the last year, my discussions with people who resent AGW talk have more and more been about science and scientists that people disresepct, and less and less about climate arguments and facts that they disbelieve. If these people were only Limbaugh-Beck-Hannity disciples, I’d be less worried. But they’re not. I think scientists under-realize how much they themselves, and their profession, have been discredited by skillful deniers. I have no solution, but FWIW, I perceive an under-realization phenomenon that seems worth mentioning.

  4. 4
    Bob Ward says:

    I know RC has been trying to limit itself to engaging with the scientific content, but in doing so I think there is a danger of allowing the climate change denial lobby to frame the debate on their terms – ie to give the impression that they are motivated by scepticism about the robustness of the science behind climate change. In fact, all of the main links in the chain of climate denial you have mentioned share a common thread of right-wing ‘free market’ ideology. In the UK too, the primary sources of climate change denial have been right-wing ‘free market’ lobby groups, particularly the Centre for Policy Studies, and politicians politicians, such as Nigel Lawson.

    Of course, not everybody who reject the consensus is driven by right-wing ideology. And left-wing groups have also been guilty of distorting the science for their own political ends, for instance by underplaying uncertainties (eg in attributing individual weather events to climate change).

    I think it is important to note the enormous role of ideological motivation because it means most of the denial lobby will not accept the science as long as it runs counter to their ideologies. It also means that it is ideology, rather than to make financial gains from promoting the short-term commercial interests of particular businesses, that is the driving force.

    Not to say that RC isn’t valuable. Clearly the important thing is to inform the wider public who may be exposed to the politically-motivated arguments of the denial lobby and misled into thinking their arguments are driven by science rather than ideology.

    Keep up the excellent work.

  5. 5
    caerbannog says:


    But “The American Denial of Global Warming” should get mention any time such topics are raised, imo.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T4UF_Rmlio

    Cheers

    I attended that lecture! It took place at the Birch Aquarium (Scripps Institution of Oceanography). Naomi spoke to a packed house there (lots of folks who didn’t have reservations were turned away).

    Unfortunately, though, she most mostly speaking to the choir. The people who *really* need to hear (and understand) her message are the folks who attend East (San Diego) County megachurches. Unfortunately, Naomi would have to wear a Glenn Beck costume to get them to pay attention.

  6. 6

    I think I may have posted this before but when I troll denialist blogs, I typically end up making the following argument:
    ———————————————–
    So we are left with three possible conclusions:

    1) An overwhelming majority of international climate experts agree about much of the tenants of AGW and are honest.

    2) An overwhelming majority of international climate experts are ignorant about their own expertise in a sudden and collective manner.

    3) These scientists have all agreed to conspire to delude the billions of folks on the planet and just a very tiny percentage of them (and mostly unpublished) are trying to save us all from this mass hoax.

    Common sense and a sense of probability should lead one to the likely correct choice (#1) above. The first person to show proof of what IS causing the modern day global warming and that it is not AGW is likely to be the next Nobel science winner, or Darwin, or Einstein, etc.

  7. 7
    Steve Missal says:

    I totally agree with Scott Mandia’s comment. If the ‘debate’ could be reframed in the light of his three points, it might become more manageable.

  8. 8
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    re: 6

    “The first person to show proof of what IS causing the modern day global warming and that it is not AGW is likely to be the next Nobel science winner, or Darwin, or Einstein, etc.”

    The problem with that, of course, is that the physics behind AGW shows that greenhouse gases trap heat. Witness Venus. Witness Earth, for that matter. If there’s “something else” causing heating, it means that there must be 2 hidden mechanisms: another source of heat and a way to get rid of the heat trapped by CO2 and CH4 etc. The hidden way to get rid of the heat trapped by CO2 and Ch4 will be most interesting since it didn’t get rid of the heat that got us out of the last glacial period. It’s a carbon-loving, carbon-producer-loving Maxwell’s Demon.

  9. 9
    Nick O. says:

    Good stuff, and v. pleased to see something like this getting published! Also good points made above, particularly by Steven (#3) and Bob (#4).

    That said, the scientific case is not helped at all when exaggerations are made by some of the ‘green’ movement, or by people who claim they understand the climate science and then make dire predictions, probably well beyond the 90% confidence limits derived from the actual climate modelling. Also, some of the less well informed punters (can’t think of a better word, sorry!) are not able to handle ostensibly contradictory observations, and this makes them look evasive, or as if they are demanding special pleading for their case in the face of ‘reasonable’ evidence that might falsify their view. There was a very good example of this on the BBC yesterday lunchtime, in the ‘Daily Politics’:

    (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00njjj9/The_Daily_Politics_19_10_2009/)

    when Andrew Neil was interviewing a Govt. minister (Hilary Benn) and later a top barrister (Michael Mansfield), both of whom purportedly supported the scientific arguments in favour of AGW. Neil confronted them with the claim that the Antarctic ice is getting thicker, and asked them to explain how this was compatible with global warming; he also talked about mean temperatures and the trend in the same since 1998 (see the programme from about 7 minutes in, and also from about 9m 15s in). Neither of his interviewees was able to give a satisfactory response – at least not in my eyes – to what is indeed a fair question. I was particularly surprised that the minister was unable to deal with it, I should have expected him to be much better briefed.

    Anyway, I assume the answers should have been something like (but please correct me if I’m wrong):
    a) some climate models have predicted thicker Antarctic ice happening as a response to warming, since there should be more snow over the ice cap, but its areal extent still gets smaller overall, as it also melts faster at the extremeties, thus an observation of a thickening ice cap could actually be quite consistent with a warming trend, although more work is needed here;
    b) an increase in sea ice extent may be something to do with the Ozone hole over the Antarctic, and a recent scientific study has sought to explain the link; however, the effect is only temporary and quite local, and will be eliminated altogether sometime during the next 50-100ys; it also does very little to offset warming trends elsewhere;
    c) global warming will not remove or cancel out altogether natural regional variations and the tendency for local temperature records or weather patterns to be broken from time to time; rather, what we will see is that over most of the globe, most of the time, any new records will tend to be those relating to higher temperatures rather than lower ones, and weather patterns more generally will track this trend. thus, it will take longer and longer for cold/cooler weather records to be broken, whereas hot/warmer records will be broken more and more frequently.

    Similarly, Michael Mansfield did not help at all with his comments about flooding (one of own my special research topics) and its global warming cause. The British Hydrological Society’s Chronology of extreme weather events shows all too clearly that we have had (in the U.K.) much more severe flooding in Britain, and long before the recent warming trend set in, for centuries past. Moreover, the flooding pattern could well be cyclical, so his claim did nothing at all to help those scientists and others who are worried about global warming, and with good reason.

    So, a good book I hope, and good things to think about, but the protagonists really have to work harder to get their ducks – consistently -in a row …

  10. 10
    Ron Crouch says:

    Unfortunately common sense, or at least the exercise of common sense, is something that can’t be legislated.

  11. 11
    mike roddy says:

    I read the book in a day, and also strongly recommend it. The information about ties to companies like Exxon was already known, but the striking thing was the conflation of science with PR on the part of the deniers. Academic degrees are a means to a career, and the relevant science is rarely practiced: Milloy, for instance, has never worked as a scientist, but is in the PR business.

    Turns out that the ability to advance “sound science” is adaptable to any industry that pays: Milloy, Singer, Heartland and the rest have also done work for the tobacco and pesticide industries. “The science is not settled!” Few members of the public are aware of these links, and this needs to be communicated. We know that the deniers have no evidence on their side, but exposing obvious and repeated prostitution should not be left to a trade paperback addressed to the choir. If MSM has any integrity remaining, they need to pick up on this story.

  12. 12
    Mark says:

    “3) These scientists have all agreed to conspire to delude the billions of folks on the planet and just a very tiny percentage of them (and mostly unpublished) are trying to save us all from this mass hoax.”

    Nearly right, Scott.

    There’s a little more needed though:

    “And despite the widespread hoax, the tiny percentage have never been able to get any proof of the conspiracy of thousands”.

  13. 13
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Nick O.,
    The problem with your example is that the BBC reporter is going to lay people to explain technical points. Now, pray, why would he do that unless 1)he’s an idiot who doesn’t understand that technical arguments require technical expertise, or, 2)he’s trying to trip up laymen to undermine public trust in the science. I’ve made a general observation that science coverage on BBC is pretty piss poor. They tend toward the sensational or the stereotypical, and the reporters generally have no expertise. It’s probably the achilles heel of he whole network.

  14. 14
    B Buckner says:

    Rush Limbaugh does not know a single thing about the science behind global warming. What he does know is proposed measures to mitigate warming in the form of laws, regulations and international treaties will result in more government and bureaucrat influence and power, and a loss of freedom and individual liberty. This component of the debate is what fuels right wing opposition to the “warmists”, not any dispute with the science.

  15. 15
    Juliette says:

    Re: Antarctic ice. I’m an avid reader of this blog, and try to follow the science of global warming as close as possible, despite being a non-scientist. However, the one point where I still get completely confused is the Antarctic ice.
    Is the sea ice getting thinner or thicker? Is extent growing or lessening. Same for the land ice? Do we know why this is happening despite the warming climate? Does the ozone layer really have something to do with it as I’ve heard a couple times? What kind of records do we have for the past? (these are only a few of my questions).
    I would really really appreciate either a link to a good website/ blog that answers this, or a blog entry here about all this; because it’s more than muddy to me for now.

    Thank you.

  16. 16
    John Mashey says:

    People like the book, and say so on RC, which is good. The RC folks generatemasses of good content. Is there any chance other readers might help out, say by going to Amazon and posting a review, even a very short one, or adding a comment or two to the existing reviews? Over the next year or so, how many people might read those reviews? I’m not suggesting trying to win wars of numbers, but people might think about taking a few minutes, and put a few good words where potential buyers might see them.

    Let me observe:
    3 reviews (2×5, 1×1): James Hoggan, 2009, Climate Cover-up.
    and to pick another:
    11 reviews 8×5,1×4,1×3,1×2: David Archer, 2008, The Long Thaw.

    And then we have:
    3 reviews (3×5): Ralph Alexander, 2009, Global Warming False Alarm: The Bad Science Behind the United Nations’ Assertion that Man-made CO2 Causes Global Warming.

    11 reviews (9×5,1×4,1×1) Howard C. Hayden, 2008, A Primer on CO2 and Climate, 2nd Edition.

    Hayden and ALexander were both nuclear physicists, and for both, a key reference (and several pages of discussion) was one that might be familiar:

    Ernst-Georg Beck, “180 years of atmospheric CO2 gas analyses by chemical methods”…

    Hayden writes (p.8):
    Beck[5] points out that Keeling, who measured CO2 at Mauna Loa, merely dismissed all data inconsistent with his own. But Keeling is not alone….”

    Alexander (who thanks Hayden for answering questions: yes, this makes sense, ask a retired nuclear physicist), writes:
    “This is why the IPCC, in order to bolster its hypothesis about CO2 and global warming, saw fit to completely ignore the chemical measurements.” Bad dog, IPCC! …Callandar (bad dog) … “Good science looks at all the data. If we do that, the increase in atmospheric CO2 from 320 to 390 parts per million since 1850 is only about half as much (22%) as the cherry-picking IPCC has told us, based solely on ice-core data….natural variability can explain most, if not all, of the global warming that has occurred.”

    stuff like that. I haven’t put up reviews yet due to working on something else, but I will. For fun, others might want to do that also, and see how many errors are findable, or do a Wiki entry here, whatever.

    Just mentioning a few references:
    Hayden:
    McIntyre&McKitrick, Wall Street Journal OpEd, Singer&Avery, Gerlich&Tscheuschner, Gwynne “The Cooling World” in Newsweek 1975, Douglass+Christy+Pearons+Singer, Friis-Christensen, Scfetta+West, Benny Peiser (totally refuted Oreskes), Steve Milloy, etc. Authoritiave stuff.

    Alexander: Lawrence Solomon’s THe Deniers, Inhofe/Morano reports, Lindzen “Climate of Fear” in WSJ, OISM Petition Project, Benny Peiser (again, refuted Oreskes), Richard Lindzen, Roy Spencer’s book, MicKitrick+Michaels, Singer+Avery, Singer, Seitz, John McLean “Why the IPCC must be is disbanded.”, Green+Armstrong, and many more. A cornucopia.

    However it does mention Steig+Schneider+Rutherford+Mann, but of course, citing a comment by “Economist Hu McCulloch” proved *them* wrong … at ClimateAudit.

    Best quote:
    “As a scientist, what I personally find most troubling about the global warming debate is the gross misuse of science by those on the alarmist side. The worst public offender is the IPCC,…” p.6.

    Still, it has 3 5-star reviews, which themselves bear reading. It is useful to know that one of the reviewers (Paul Drallos) write papers with Alexander back at Wayne State. RC readers will recognize one of the other reviewers.

  17. 17
    Ray Ladbury says:

    B. Buckner, Hmm, which situation do you think will lead to the greatest draconian measures and bureaucratic power:

    1)We address the problem early enough and with sufficient level of effort that we avoid the worst effects of climate change;

    2)We wait to address the problem until the caca is hitting the fan, resulting in public panic and clamber for immediate action?

    Oh, wait. All Rush et al. care about is their own miserable skins, so it’s a moot question.

  18. 18
    Edward Greisch says:

    RC Welcome back! I was afraid you got lost. Please publish more often. I know you must be bored with saying the same thing over and over, but the world needs you.

  19. 19
    KevinM says:

    RE:
    “So we are left with three possible conclusions:

    1) An overwhelming majority of international climate experts agree about much of the tenants of AGW and are honest.

    2) An overwhelming majority of international climate experts are ignorant about their own expertise in a sudden and collective manner.

    3) These scientists have all agreed to conspire to delude the billions of folks on the planet and just a very tiny percentage of them (and mostly unpublished) are trying to save us all from this mass hoax.

    Common sense and a sense of probability should lead one to the likely correct choice (#1) above.

    —————————————————-
    So we are left with three possible conclusions:

    1) An overwhelming majority of financial experts agree about much of the safety of collatoralized debt obligations and are honest.

    2) An overwhelming majority of financial experts are ignorant about their own expertise in a sudden and collective manner.

    3) These financiers have all agreed to conspire to delude the billions of folks on the planet and just a very tiny percentage of them (and mostly not working on Wall Street) are trying to save us all from this mass hoax.

    Common sense and a sense of probability should lead one to the likely correct choice (#1) above.

    ————————————————

    I submit:

    4) An overwhelming majority of (financial/climate/other) experts agree about much in their area of expertise, and behave as a self selected group to balance the tasks of contributing to their field and bettering their own lives without resorting to dishonor.

    …”but theses are _scientists_! They’re not like financial analysts at all!”

  20. 20

    Thanks for the review of Climate Cover Up Mike.

    And good call by RC commentators to highlight Oreskes’lecture, I am going to do a post today on her video.

    Finally, thanks John for pointing out some of things people can do to help push this book far and wide, we need to break through the noise and get this in the hands of people not yet exposed to these misinformation efforts.

    Some things to do:

    1. Email me if you have a blog and you want a review copy (desmogblog@gmail.com).
    2. Send the link (www.desmogblog.com/climate-cover-up) to your friends via email, facebook and/or twitter.
    3. Buy a copy (of course) and when you’re done pass it on to a friend to read – please don’t let it sit on a shelf getting dusty.
    4. Send info on the book to a reporter you think might be interested in covering the book.
    5. And as John points out, do a review on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

    Thanks!

    Kevin Grandia
    Managing Editor
    http://www.desmogblog.com

  21. 21
    Deep Climate says:

    Scott #6,
    That should be “tenets” not “tenants”. Otherwise I agree wholeheartedly.

  22. 22
    pete best says:

    Well if you take a barrel of oil at $80 and the worlds energy mix is 40% oil and at 4.5 billion tonnes of it per annum being consumed then its not hard to see why climate scientists are seen as part of an elaborate left wing hoax. I mean thats 7 barrels per tonne and hence 30 billion x 80 = $2.4 trillion a year!!!

    You can say that money don’t talk. For miserably small amounts of that money the disinformation machine can seduce many people into saying many things. Gas and coal also make up another 40-50% of the worlds energy mix. Loads of money doing unspeakable things.

  23. 23
    Mark says:

    > Best quote:
    > “As a scientist, what I personally find most troubling about the global warming debate is the gross misuse of science by those on the alarmist side. The worst public offender is the IPCC,…” p.6.

    I think it’s really weird.

    I’ve wondered why these denialists rant and rave about alarmism yet in their attacks on the IPCC and AGW science they say

    “They’re all communist marxists out to steal our freedom!”

    or

    “You’ll have us living in the Stone Ages!!!”

    or

    “They are looking for a New One World Order!”

    Are these not alarmist?

    Worse, they are alarmist with ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE ***whatsoever*** to support them. Not even the most extreme end of prediction or extrapolated evidence.

  24. 24
    Deep Climate says:

    James Hoggan has done Canada and the world a huge service, not to mention doing much to redeem the public relations profession.

    I first got involved with digging into Friends of Science and documenting same at SourceWatch.org because of initial revelations at DesmogBlog.

    A common (and depressing) feature of PR climate propaganda campaigns is the use of hidden, tax-deductible donations as primary source of funding. In Canada, the Fraser Institute, Frontier Centre and other contrarian organizations receive such funding. Friends of Science has largely operated through indirect support from such funding as well.

    As long as organizations like the Calgary Foundation are allowed to stonewall, there will never be proper transparency and accountability. Five years after the Calgary Foundation first started funding these activities, their level of funding appears stronger than ever. Ditto for the Fraser Institute and the others. But at least some are starting to ask the right questions.

    For more on the recent resurgence of Friends of Science see here:

    http://deepclimate.org/2009/09/22/friends-of-science-behind-moncktons-magical-mystery-tour/

  25. 25
    John H. says:

    “This component of the debate is what fuels right wing opposition to the “warmists”, not any dispute with the science.”

    Is it supposed to help your cause to pretend there is no opposing science, by scientists?

    This kind of tactic is what undermines the credibility of the AGW lobby here.

    [Response: What undermines comments like this is that science isn’t split into pro and con factions. There is no such thing as ‘opposition’ science. – gavin]

  26. 26

    Wow. I can’t believe the trolls haven’t attacked this yet. Usually they’re all over any mention of Climate Cover Up.

    Would it be naive for me to assume that they’ve all read the book and have now figured out they were fooled?

  27. 27
    Recycler says:

    re Scott A Mandia #6

    Good grief, is this the level of reasoning used in climate science? If so, it explains a lot.

    1) An overwhelming majority of international climate experts agree about much of the tenants of AGW and are honest.
    Depends on how you define “climate experts” but there are a lot of high profile names out there who certainly don’t agree, and literally thousands who’ve signed up to diagree. Perhaps, for example, you’re ignoring the 131 very senior German scientists who wrote to Angela Merkel to urgently put the sceptics case?

    2) An overwhelming majority of international climate experts are ignorant about their own expertise in a sudden and collective manner.
    Strawman. Again “international climate experts” is undefined. Perhaps you’re thinking of someone of the calibre of Richard Lindzen, who truly is an international expert? No, perhaps not. I suspect you mean the scientists from many disciplines who contribute their own area of physical or chemical science to the climate models. They’re all totally confident in their own expertise – it’s all the many other disciplines they’re not confident about, and in particular how their work is bolted onto the others’ in an impenetrable (to almost everyone bar the developers) climate model

    3) These scientists have all agreed to conspire to delude the billions of folks on the planet and just a very tiny percentage of them (and mostly unpublished) are trying to save us all from this mass hoax.
    More straw. No conspiracy needed. They have just agreed to accept the results on the GCMs published by the IPCC. After all, what else can they do? They can’t challenge the models unless they deconstruct the code. And, as I said, they’re proud of their little bit of science that’s imbedded in it.

    No conspuiracy needed. just a pervasive layer of ignorance that spreads across most of the scientific community.

    [Response: What nonsense. You don’t need climate models to conclude there is a problem here, and I can assure you, the scientists who don’t work on climate models are not the supine ignoramuses you appear to think they are. The idea that half a dozen modellers have pulled the wool over the eyes of the National Academy, the AGU, the AAAS, the IPCC and everyone else is just la-la-la fantasy land. – gavin]

  28. 28
    Mark says:

    “Is it supposed to help your cause to pretend there is no opposing science, by scientists? ”

    John H, your mistake (and mistake it is) is to think that the opposing science is not held within the IPCC and AGW science arena.

    Your mistake is assuming that only WUWT and CA and Heartland et al are the opposition science since they say the IPCC is wrong.

    Try reading the IPCC reports.

    Try reading the science papers the IPCC reports draws from.

    It is THERE you will see the opposition science.

    What you’ll see on those who say the IPCC is wrong is comfort lies. Evasive half truths. Misquotes and bad science all over.

    They aren’t the opposition, they merely OPPOSE the IPCC.

    They have nothing: they have the need only to tear down the IPCC.

    That is not science. It’s politics.

  29. 29
    Steve says:

    Oh come on, have a little empathy for the conspiracy believers.

    I was lucky enough to get a good public education in California, but public education for most Americans is horrendous. I agree with the CO2 science because I can understand it without a translator. To most people it’s all Greek.

    The average person does not see “undeniable evidence for climate change.” Because the average person sees weather, not climate. If you had to estimate purely on personal experience of weather over your lifetime, could you say that you know the world is getting hotter? The only reason I have any inclination of major climate change is because of data compiled and gathered by others. Data that I can understand without a translator. Since I agree with the results, the data gathering and translation by a relatively small group of people is a favor. But for people who disagree, it’s a conspiracy.

    Do I understand that if the earth is in for a cooling cycle to peak around 2020, that it doesn’t negate the global warming contribution of CO2? Yes I do. But the average person is just going to see years of cold weather, not “a cooler climate that is x degrees warmer than it would have been without all the extra CO2.”

    My advice is to hammer down those decadal predictions, explain a solid understanding of the natural cycles and where they would have headed without the extra CO2. Because the average person isn’t going to trust your 80-year-from-now climate prediction if your weather prediction over the next 10 years isn’t on the money.

  30. 30
    Hank Roberts says:

    KevinM, who has mistakenly equated climate scientists with fund managers, needs to read; a good start would be Chu-Carroll, here, who points out among much else cherrypicking numbers and ignoring risk as foolish financial moves.

    http://scienceblogs.com/goodmath/2008/09/economic_disasters_and_stupid.php
    http://scienceblogs.com/goodmath/2008/10/credit_default_swaps_gambling.php

  31. 31
    Theo Hopkins says:

    Recycler 2:18

    You posted:

    “1) An overwhelming majority of international climate experts agree about much of the tenants of AGW and are honest.
    Depends on how you define “climate experts” but there are a lot of high profile names out there who certainly don’t agree, and literally thousands who’ve signed up to disagree. Perhaps, for example, you’re ignoring the 131 very senior German scientists who wrote to Angela Merkel to urgently put the sceptics case?”

    I was reading the statement by the scientists you refer to and I was fairly impressed by what they said. After all, I am a non-scientist and non-AGW expert. But then they suddenly referred to what was clearly the Heartland Institute’s conference in New York as backup. And the I knew the German scientists were bullshitters.

    Hoist by their own petard?

  32. 32
    Theo Hopkins says:

    I am copying the entire earlier post fro Juliette as I think it is important, and I agree fully with her – Gavin take note?

    “Re: Antarctic ice. I’m an avid reader of this blog, and try to follow the science of global warming as close as possible, despite being a non-scientist. However, the one point where I still get completely confused is the Antarctic ice.
    Is the sea ice getting thinner or thicker? Is extent growing or lessening. Same for the land ice? Do we know why this is happening despite the warming climate? Does the ozone layer really have something to do with it as I’ve heard a couple times? What kind of records do we have for the past? (these are only a few of my questions).
    I would really really appreciate either a link to a good website/ blog that answers this, or a blog entry here about all this; because it’s more than muddy to me for now.

    Thank you.”

  33. 33
    Svempa says:

    A lot of people here try hard to convince themselves. To realize that climate is driven mainly by other factors than just some more parts per million of CO2 in the air is like shooting fish in a barrel.

  34. 34
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Recycler,
    Let’s define climate experts as those publishing regularly in climate science, shall we? Here’s a list of the most frequently cited authors in climate change.

    http://www.eecg.utoronto.ca/~prall/climate/climate_authors_table.html

    Have fun looking for your denialists. Hint: Look way, way down the list. Is this because they are bad scientists? No. It is because their ideologically driven insistence on a low CO2 sensitivity makes their outlook impotent when it comes to understanding climate. Denialism: it doesn’t work.

  35. 35
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Kevin M,

    1)I am a scientist. When I get a bonus, it has 3 significant figures to the left of the decimal place. When a securities analyst gets a bonus, it has 6 or more significant figures to the left of the decimal place. Climate science is curiosity driven. Finance is profiit/greed driven.

    2)The problems with the CDOs and other derivatives are quite simple to understand–basically, the analysts were using nonrepresentative data to estimate risk. This is not the case with climate science.

    3)Climate science is peer reviewed. Financial research is proprietary.

    4)Climate science has a 30 year record of significant success. Financial research? Not so much.

    So, Kevin, do you even know any scientists?

  36. 36
    David B. Benson says:

    Juliette (15) — Antarctica is doing mostly what is expected; not much. The only exception is Pine Island Glacier (and two others nearby) which appear to be in substantial retreat; enough to worry some.

    For more details here on RealCLimate, try the search feature at the top of the page.

  37. 37

    “when Andrew Neil was interviewing a Govt. minister (Hilary Benn) and later a top barrister (Michael Mansfield), both of whom purportedly supported the scientific arguments in favour of AGW. Neil confronted them with the claim that the Antarctic ice is getting thicker, and asked them to explain how this was compatible with global warming;”

    Andrew Neil said “the latest studies in the Antarctic show that ice, the ice shield there now is 30% higher than the 30 year average, and that is where 89% of the world’s ice is.”

    That is typical of a statement that is not even wrong. There is no such thing as the Antarctic ice shield. There are Antarctic ice shelves and Antarctic ice sheets. It is the sheets which are 89% of the world’s ice; it is the ice shelves which growing. But what has thickened by 30% is the sea ice, something which reforms each year. See:
    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,27574,25348657-401,00.html

    But what is needed is someone with encyclopedic knowledge to face Andrew Neil, an experienced ‘shock jock’ armed with questions supplied by a bank of researchers.

    But which scientist is capable or willing to take on such a task? Until one is found, the septics are bound to win :-(

  38. 38
    SecularAnimist says:

    Recycler wrote: “… just a pervasive layer of ignorance that spreads across most of the scientific community.”

    What are you recycling other than drivel?

    Here we have the classic case of the crank who actually believes that he, and he alone, knows the SIMPLE AND OBVIOUS REASON why all of climate science is WRONG — a SIMPLE AND OBVIOUS REASON that has somehow eluded the grasp of hundreds and hundreds of dedicated, diligent, highly trained scientists from all over the world who have studied the issue for decades.

    Can you say “megalomania”? Sure you can.

  39. 39
    John Phillips says:

    With regards to the alleged fact that an overwhelming majority of international climate experts agree about much of the tenants of AGW and are honest:

    There is such a thing as organizational momentum. We know its true because we all say its true.

    There is a large, well known chemical company that was once under contract with the U S Department of Energy that insisted the best way to process millions of gallons of very high level radioactive waste was to add a complex organic molecule to million gallon underground waste tanks. The organic compound would precipitate the major radioactive constituent out of solution. The liquid could then be pumped through filters to filter out the vast majority of the radioactive material, leaving a greatly reduced level of radioactivity in the liquid waste. A lone government, yes “gommit” scientist, warned of the unpredictability of the chemical reactions due to the complexity of the organic molecule and high radiation fields. The lone gommit scientist proposed the development of an ion exchange column resin that would remove the major radioactive constituents. Every time a new top U S DOE top manager was rotated through the organization, the lone gommit scientist would schedule a meeting and would go over his concerns with the contractor’s plans to processing the high level waste. But what could the manager do when an entire company full of top notch chemical scientists and engineers were recommending one way, and a lone gommit scientist was recommending another? Well, even though bench scale and pilot scale demonstration plants were run, and some problems with benzene generation were evident, the full scale project went ahead. Shortly after start-up of the process, incredible amounts of benzene gas were being generated. Modifications were made to handle the benzene, but the problem became worse. In the end, it was decided that the chemists did not and could not understand what was happening in the million gallon underground tank. There were just too many variables and uncertainties. The process was finally shut down. It turned out to be a $500M embarrassment to the U S Dept of Energy. A new plant is now under construction that will use a solvent extraction process.

    CO2 absorbs infra-red radiation, so it is a greenhouse gas. Therefore, the human addition to the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere likely causes some warming. But the question is how much and could C02 perhaps interact with the atmosphere to counteract its greenhouse effect. I have read the IPCC reports and the models have yet to accurately predict decadal trends. Agreeing with the past means nothing. I could come up with a model that does that. The IPCC report does not show empirical evidence for the amounts of warming predicted by the models.

  40. 40
    Ray Ladbury says:

    John Phillips, Your saying it does not make it so. The models have actually been VERY successful:

    http://www.bartonpaullevenson.com/ModelsReliable.html

    CO2 sensitivity is constrained by nearly a dozen separate strains of evidence, and all the evidence points (with 90-95% confidence) to our having a really big problem on our hands. So the question is: Why are you so willing to bet the future of humanity on a 20:1 longshot?

  41. 41
    J Mac says:

    For cat’s sake, it’s tenets! Not tenants. Tenets!

  42. 42
    Mark says:

    “There is such a thing as organizational momentum. We know its true because we all say its true.”

    And you know this to be true because you all say this is true.

    Self deception is so very easy, isn’t it, John.

    And you’ll deny empirical evidence that comes your way because there’s ALWAYS a nit to pick.

  43. 43
    Mark says:

    “1)I am a scientist. When I get a bonus, it has 3 significant figures to the left of the decimal place. ”

    Flipping heck, Ray.

    You can’t work for government, then, as a scientist. If I add several years bonus, I’ll get 3 figures…

  44. 44
    Mark says:

    “To realize that climate is driven mainly by other factors than just some more parts per million of CO2 in the air is like shooting fish in a barrel.”

    Problem is that you don’t even have fish.

    Or bullets.

    Or a gun.

    But you DO have a barrel.

    But no water.

  45. 45
    Jim Galasyn says:

    John Phillips: Agreeing with the past means nothing. I could come up with a model that does that.

    Great, please do. When you do, go ahead and publish in the refereed literature. Or just post here. I’m very interested to see what you come up with.

  46. 46

    #39 John Philips:

    Which IPCC reports did you read? The ones I read are quite convincing. If they were not so convincing, why haven’t much smarter folks than me figured this out and published earth-shattering papers?

    Something to also keep in mind is that the language used by scientists tends to be cautious and may read as if there is greater uncertainty than there really is. Science can never prove something to be true so the language will reflect levels of confidence (or probability) and not levels of certainty. A subtle point but one that is lost on many when they read the IPCC reports. This cautionary language, although perfectly appropriate, has actually undermined the importance of the message.

    Finally, not to nit-pick but “tenets” is the correct word. :)

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/tenets

  47. 47
    Mark says:

    “So the question is: Why are you so willing to bet the future of humanity on a 20:1 longshot?”

    Because he will won’t be able to loot the planet and some undeserving poor people will get the benefit of not dying.

    How does THAT help his bottom line????

  48. 48
    david says:

    Ray,
    I don’t think you can dismiss the analogy with financial analysts quite so easily. There are roughly 20,000 academic economists working at universities around the world, with a large portion of them doing curiosity driven research (and they are relatively low-paid, compared with investment bankers). But only a miniscule percentage of them saw any problem at all before the financial crisis.

    [Response: Actually I don’t think that was true. Robert Schiller is hardly low profile and he was talking about the problems in the housing market very early on. The Economist had been warning about asset price bubbles and dire consequences for over a year prior to the meltdown. I think you are more correct in thinking people did not forsee the magnitude of the events or anticipate the exact sequence of problems in the credit market – but there were plenty of signs of trouble and plenty of people who saw them. – gavin]

  49. 49

    Like BPL, I also have a list of what climate models do reasonably well on the link below:

    http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/global_warming/climate_models_accuracy.html

  50. 50
    Mark A. York says:

    It’s good that there is an increasing library of popular nonfiction books explaining the science and potential perils of climate change. The more technical they are, though, the least likely the books will be read by most of the lay public. This is the reason Michael Crichton could get away with the biased portrayal in State of Fear. It’s odd that the so-called liberal media, and that includes New York and London publishing conglomerates, have chosen not to produce one mainstream novel that takes on Crichton.

    I’ve written such a novel over the last three years and have been in the room at some big agencies, who almost bit, but backed off at the last minute. My characters are much more fully drawn than Crichton’s and the science is solid and streamlined for a mass audience as much as it can be and still be in the book. I matched his footnotes with my own. There are murders, a love story, political intrigue and climate problems confronting the players, all constructed with writing of a quality that would allow Dan Brown to evade harsh criticism for style should he learn how to craft prose. Yet, the brokers run from the story like scalded cats. My working hypothesis is the marketers are afraid of offending the public since everyone has responsibility for the solutions. It’s much easier to concoct a less than truthful tale where at the end of the day global warming is bunk. I don’t intend to give up on the truth in fiction meme.


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