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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One problem with books on this topic is that they quickly grow out of date.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. 101
    dhogaza says:

    So, Mr. Animist, I’m quite prepared for you to regard me as a crank, but I tend to regard scientists who are so convinced of the completeness of their understanding and the certainty of their belief in AGW as cranks, too

    You know, every time I accidently drop a weight on my big toe, while hopping around in pain I can’t help but think, “there was a lot Newton didn’t know about gravity … but what he did know is useful”.

  2. 102
    sidd says:

    I misspoke. the cost of the AIG bailout is 1e10US$ and rising.

  3. 103
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Recycler,
    You don’t have the foggiest notion of how science works, let alone climate models. Now you can either keep demolishing your straw men or you can educate yourself by going to the “START HERE” button at the top of the page (with the large friendly letters). Science is all about quantifying the unknowns as much as it is about improving knowledge of the knowns. The fact is the models have been very successful and have accumulated a lot of very strong evidence in their favor. And the denialists? Bupkis. The best they can do is wail that it’s all too complicated to understand, even as the models repeatedly prove them wrong.

  4. 104
    Russell Seitz says:

    84:
    Somebody should call the Oxford Dictionary hotline- this neologism is ready for prime time –

    Transforming ‘ agnotology’ into a nominative makes Messers Morano, Milloy, Michaels and their attendant trolls ‘ Agnotognomes ‘,

    And their utterances ‘ agnotognomic .’

  5. 105
    Jim Bouldin says:

    And then there are the known areas of ignorance…And then there are the unknown unknowns. Does anyone suppose for a moment the lists of unknown science in AR4 are complete?

    Hard to know.

  6. 106
    KevinM says:

    Re: scientists and economists

    I’ve gathered too many responses to reply to individually, but I think the point is made.

    You can not say a large group of intelligent, educated professionals are correct simply because they are a large group of intelligent, educated professionals.

    There are too many examples of such groups failing, whether their intentions were honest or not.

  7. 107
    SecularAnimist says:

    I see that “Recycler” is now recycling the long-discredited denialist talking point that the entire case for the reality of anthropogenic global warming consists of global climate models, and nothing else: after all, it’s not as though we can actually observe anthropogenic emissions of GHGs, and actually observe the resulting rapid and extreme increase in atmospheric GHG concentrations, and actually observe the resulting acidification of the oceans, and actually observe the resulting rapid and extreme warming of the planet, and actually observe the effects of that warming on the atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere and biosphere.

    Nope, all we have to go on is the models. And since models cannot be absolutely perfect representations of every aspect of reality, then we can know nothing.

    And since we can know nothing, we should do nothing.

    And by the way, pumping ever more gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere at an accelerating rate counts as “doing nothing”. We sure don’t want to do anything “risky” like stopping that.

    By the way, when you consider Rumsfeld’s dictum in light of what the man claimed at the time — indeed in the same breath — was “known” and “unknown”, it is really a bad joke.

  8. 108
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Kevin M. says, “I’ve gathered too many responses to reply to individually, but I think the point is made.”
    Translation: “I can’t be bothered to pick up the tattered shreds of my argument, so I’ll just restate it and run along now, declaring victory back at the denialist sites.”

    Commentary: Look, asshat. You argued by analogy. Your analogy failed. Therefore, your argument failed. Got that?

  9. 109
    t_p_hamilton says:

    KevinM says:”Re: scientists and economists

    I’ve gathered too many responses to reply to individually, but I think the point is made.

    You can not say a large group of intelligent, educated professionals are correct simply because they are a large group of intelligent, educated professionals.

    There are too many examples of such groups failing, whether their intentions were honest or not.”

    That is what someone who has no argument would have to resort to.

    Science is just a bit different than finance: motivations, reward system, validation, etc. You think it so likely that a large group of scientists
    as a whole will fail at something, do you have an example in science from the past 100 years?

  10. 110
    dhogaza says:

    “And then there are the known areas of ignorance…And then there are the unknown unknowns. Does anyone suppose for a moment the lists of unknown science in AR4 are complete?”

    Hard to know.

    Impossible to know, which is why those who argue we shouldn’t take action until we do, are simply arguing against taken action, ever.

  11. 111
    Recycler says:

    Gavin said (#98): you need to spend more time reading past posts here. You will find frequent mention of Rumsfeld’s dictum and a complete absence of evidence for the certainty you assert that we have with regards to the future. However if your point is to assert that since we don’t know everything, we therefore know nothing, you are wasting your time and ours. -gavin

    Darn, nothing new under the sun, I’d missed any previous references to Rumsfeld (perhaps not surprising, given the volume of traffic here.) But I think it’s fair to say that, within climate science followers, RC has a reputation for sometimes vigorous defense of the status quo – the “known knowns”. And I certainly didn’t assert that ” … we therefore know nothing”. That’s misleading. All I wanted was for more openness to the other three quadrants. An example? Richard Lindzen’s measured climate sensitivity is markedly different from IPCC estimates. In nearly two months I’ve seen no substantive refutation. It seems that might force the sensitivity parameter from the known/knowns to the known/unknowns. That doesn’t destroy the whole AGW position, obviously,but it should counsel caution, and a more open-minded attitude to the certainty of the science.

    But I’ve obviously missed a lot of discussion related to areas of uncertainty so, rather than make things worse, I’ll go and see if I can find them!

  12. 112
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Recycler,
    First, Lindzen’s CO2 sensitivity is a factor of 4 lower than that favored by about a dozen separate lines of evidence, all of which favor 3 degrees per doubling. Second, his result is not robust–it does not survive if you use other datasets. Third, if the climate sensitivity is anywhere in the 90% CL, we are in trouble. Fourth, why do you suppose it is that YOU focus on a single, very questionable result at the expense of a mountain of evidence that contradicts it. How is that skepticism?

  13. 113
    Theo Hopkins says:

    Looking at an earlier comment here, which isolated four different and mutually contradictory denialist themes (i.e., not happening, solar, GCR and “man is too small”) the poster noted that while all of these antis attack the IPCC they do not attack each other.

    So what about climate scientists who accept AGW – and when interviewed on TV alongside a denialist, trying to get not one, but two denialists onto the program – and then try to get the two denialists to argue against each other … thus allowing a TV shot of climate scientist sipping water from his glass and observing the conflict among the opposition with a modest smirk?

  14. 114

    KevinM:

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

    I do not see the record of success for these fields.

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/ModelsReliable.html

  15. 115

    Recycler:

    And then there are the unknown unknowns. Does anyone suppose for a moment the lists of unknown science in AR4 are complete?

    Known processes account for most of the measured global warming. There is therefore a LIMIT to how much either “known unknowns” or “unknown unknowns” can contribute. To be specific, we can account for about 80% of the variance from 1880 to today on the basis of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, and aerosols. Everything else in the universe, known or unknown, can only account for the remaining 20%.

  16. 116
    Tattymane says:

    I think the first sentence of this story makes for much more factual reading if the commas are left out.

  17. 117

    Recycler:

    Richard Lindzen’s measured climate sensitivity is markedly different from IPCC estimates. In nearly two months I’ve seen no substantive refutation.

    So I take it you’ve read each issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, Geophysics Research Letters, Journal of Atmospheric Science, Monthly Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Journal of Climate, Science, and Nature over that period? And found nothing?

    I also take it you’re not familiar with the arguments that have already shown that climate sensitivity CAN’T be as low as Lindzen says it is. Start here:

    http://bartonpaullevenson.com/ClimateSensitivity.html

  18. 118
    Jim Bouldin says:

    An official letter today from the heads of 18 American scientific research societies and organizations, to U.S. Senators, as the Senate climate and energy bill debate approaches:
    http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2009/media/1021climate_letter.pdf

    The signatories are the following:

    American Association for the Advancement of Science
    American Chemical Society
    American Geophysical Union
    American Institute of Biological Sciences
    American Meteorological Society
    American Society of Agronomy
    American Society of Plant Biologists
    American Statistical Association
    Association of Ecosystem Research Centers
    Botanical Society of America
    Crop Science Society of America
    Ecological Society of America
    Natural Science Collections Alliance
    Organization of Biological Field Stations
    Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
    Society of Systematic Biologists
    Soil Science Society of America
    University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

    Hat tip to The Way Things Break:
    http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/2009/10/21/eighteen-of-the-uss-top-science-organizations-urge-congress-to-reduce-emissions/

  19. 119
    Kate says:

    I read this book not long ago. It was fantastic. Nothing has made me so angry before, and I’m not a very angry person. I’m planning to write a review of it in the next few weeks.

  20. 120
    toby robertson says:

    Recycler, give up, nobody hear is prepared to consider doubt in the theory. Two visits to this blog, two posts, both not posted. Neither were abusive, both asked civil questions. Both discussed the stupidity of suggesting the science is settled and that debate should be stifled. [edit]

    [Response: I assume you don't go to parties and loudly declare how stupid the hosts are. Why you feel that this behaviour is fine here is odd. If you have something constructive to add, please try again. -gavin]

  21. 121
    David B. Benson says:

    Why Extremist Views Dominate:
    http://www.livescience.com/culture/091020-extremist-views.html

    [Response: Good article. Amusingly, I note that WUWT highlights the same piece without a hint of irony or self-awareness. -gavin]

  22. 122
    Hank Roberts says:

    > when interviewed on TV alongside a denialist, trying to get
    > not one, but two denialists onto the program

    Then you’ll have one scientist against a pair. These people aren’t arguing about science. They’re arguing _against_ science. On that they agree.

  23. 123
    M. Hunt says:

    [Response: Good article. Amusingly, I note that WUWT highlights the same piece without a hint of irony or self-awareness. -gavin]

    So, Gavin – you a regular over there at WUWT? How come you never comment?

    [Response: One should keep ones friends close... -gavin]

  24. 124
    Wilmot McCutchen says:

    President Nixon (Republican) abolished the President’s Science Advisory Committee and the Office of Science and Technology. Why??

  25. 125
    david says:

    People here could be a little more charitable when it comes to reading others posts. It can be quite difficult to discern someones motives and attitudes from a single paragraph. Not everyone is an idiot or a troll, and even if they are, mocking them doesn’t help (even if they are mocking you).
    With regard to the financial crisis, it is relevant here because the thread is about conspiracy theories, and these largely come down to a question of who you trust. In this case, large numbers of people were led astray (and lost a lot of money) because they trusted the conventional wisdom (e.g. Greenspan repeatedly stated that the financial system was in better shape than ever). It is no good saying (as one commentator here did) that lots of economists knew but didn’t say anything – people might just as well say that climate scientists know it’s all a con but don’t say anything.
    Please, no more withering explanations of the differences between climate science and economics. I have read a lot of the posts on realclimate and I agree with pretty much all of them. But for people not familiar with climate science (or science at all), the recent failure of a large group of experts, many of them prominent government advisers with excellent credentials, could easily be seen as strong evidence against the consensus on global warming.
    For people without a scientific background, discerning the truth about climate science is very, very difficult.
    Particularly when groups such as those listed in this post are running deliberate disinformation campaigns.

  26. 126

    #67, Lloyd Flack says: “You misunderstand, I was not talking about my opinions, but about how some denialists see things. Those are the arguments that they will use.”

    My apologies and thanks for the clarification. You go on to say, “I was primarily talking about people with scientific expertise in another field who unwittingly misapply the fruits of their experience.”

    FWIW, this has a name in logic and critical thinking, it is the fallacy of the argumentum ad vericundiam, the argument from false or misleading authority. So the problem you are identifying is one with a significant history: medieval logicians recognized it!

    Thanks again for your clarification.

  27. 127

    #120 toby robertson says:
    21 October 2009 at 5:14 PM
    “… Two visits to this blog, two posts, both not posted. …”

    Here and elsewhere I’ve had problems with my posts getting through the last couple of days. Obviously it is a conspiracy since there could not possibly be a technical issue at either end that caused those problems.

  28. 128
    John Mashey says:

    re: #51 Lloyd Flack

    Classification exercises are useful. There are two flavors I know of. One (like yours, and like John Quiggin’sare top-down analyses into groups.

    A complementary method starts from the bottom up, sort of an informal nonparametric analog of doing a multidimensional cluster analysis. For this, one could:

    1) Enumerate the various low-level reasons from which climate anti-science seems to come.
    This gives a list like R Attributes.

    2) Then organize a Map that Classifies Reasons by Organizations and People’s Backgrounds, as clear, often seen, plausible, a(Not really plausible). An example of that is: OBR Map.

    3) Then,go through set of real people and try putting them into that scheme, marking off each of the reasons that seems to apply, and adding new ones as they appear.
    For example, on the next iteration, I might well add “strong personal relationship, especially with someone senior.” [That was occasioned by learning new to me, that Sallie Baliunas and Robert Jastrow had a close working relationship for 10-15 years, starting in late 1980s.]

    4] Then, do a simple cluster analysis on the data, and look for attributes found together or not, and hopefully end up with ~3-8 clusters that together usefully partition the data, cover most people, and don’t have clusters consisting of individual people.

    5) In addition, in examples I’ve done so far, sometimes it seems that two people may end up with similar sets of reasons, but have acquired them indifferent orders. I don’t know if that’s meaningful or not, but starting from bottom up preserves that information.

    An analogy would be: top-down is like looking at chemical molecules, where bottom-up starts from the atoms (and allows for isomers, where the set of atoms is the same, but the molecules are structurally different).

    BUT, in any case, let me try to model your 3 groups:

    1: is B4 (scientist in field, either now or sometime).

    2: is B2 or B3, and the specific wrong experience is what I’d labeled TEC8, of which a long discussion of the ways in which specific disciplines sometimes do this is Here at RC, which occasioned TEC8.

    3: seems to focus on my B1c (public), although it includes B1b ( and B1a.). However (and this is one of the reasons for not prematurely grouping), I have plenty of examples of people with PhDs, perfectly capable of understanding the science, who mostly seem influenced by politics/ideology.

  29. 129
    Peter T says:

    One comment on the analogy between economics (and other studies of human behaviour) and the physical sciences. The former are much more complex, as they involve multi-level holistic systems with very high levels of feedback in constant change. Language, for example, is at least a four (maybe five) level system, no one level of which can be interpreted without simultaneously processing all the others. By contrast, the basic chemistry of CO2 (and the therefore inexorable consequences, if others things are equal) can be grasped by me, with my decades-old high school science education. This is not to denigrate the complexity of the science – just to say that global warming denial is a much more complex phenonemon than global warming per se.

  30. 130
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Great. I ordered this book the other day & am waiting for it to come in.

    Another good site — as they said in ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN, “follow the money” — is http://www.youtube.com/user/rechar350#p/a/u/2/kRQuF4d9DBo

    If you suspect an organization of being funded by Exxon, that’s where to look.

    I was watching EWTN’s Rome Reports 2 yrs ago, and they had a spokesman from the ACTON INSTITUTE for the Study of Religion and Liberty ( http://www.acton.org ) on using EWTN’s favorite tactic of branding (and dismissing) environmentalists as neopagan Earth goddess worshippers….I guess to be burned at the stake or something. I checked out Acton’s sight and found lots of GW denialism there. Then I checked ExxonSecrets, and sure enough, Acton gets funds from Exxon. I hardly watch EWTN anymore — so infested is it by anti-environmentalism and climate denialism — but I’ve noticed that the head of Acton, a Catholic priest, is a frequent guest on Raymond Arroyo’s The World Over (on EWTN)to trot out his climate denialism and anti-environmentalism. The folks at EWTN have obviously sold their souls to the Devoil.

    Now what we need is some org to track the contributions of all the fossil fuel industries that are into climate denial or anti-environmentalism. Like some coal companies…..

    It’s just a matter of getting their public record tax info and making a website….anyone??

  31. 131
    Rod B says:

    Ray Ladbury, way back in 34 (I’m behind…) I think you said scientists not in the groove of AGW have a hard time getting anything published simply because they are not in the groove. Did I read you correctly?

  32. 132
    Thomas says:

    88) That was a very good post. I think there is a striking similarity among the the anti-AGW crowd, and the economists who got carried away by the EMH (Efficient Markets Hypothesis). Both groups took some meme that had limited utility in some domain, and elevated it to the status of a universal principle. In the case of the anti-AGW people, it is usually “man cannot effect the weather”, or sometimes “a loving God would not so pernicious as to create a world with libertarians, and a need to regulate the global commons”. In both cases giving too much credence to a simple meme led to judging practically everything based upon whether it supported or refuted their cherised principle. On course once one follow that course self-delusion follows, and counterevidence is simply dismissed. As humans we are all highly vulnerable to this trap. Unless we continuously examine and re-examine the memes we are using to see the world, and see it thet make sense, we are at risk of becoming delusional about one or more aspects of the world.

    There is also a large difference between macroeconomists, and financial analysts. The former study the economy as a complete system, while the later are concerned with exploiting some property of that system to make a profit.

  33. 133
    Rod B says:

    Mark (66), actually I am working on a paper. But it’s not on climate. And likely will never be finished. But thanks for thinking of me! ;-)

  34. 134
    Tom Dayton says:

    Recycler, Barton Paul Levinson’s reply to you was dead on:

    …We can account for about 80% of the variance from 1880 to today on the basis of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, and aerosols. Everything else in the universe, known or unknown, can only account for the remaining 20%.

    For an introduction to that topic in the general field of statistics (showing you that climatologists are not just making this up), see, for example, https://www.msu.edu/user/sw/statrev/strv211.htm.

  35. 135
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #130, wrong website for ExxonSecrets – it’s http://www.exxonsecrets.org

  36. 136
    Michael says:

    Is it not politically correct to prerequisite the words “Climate Change” with the words “Man-Made Climate Change”?

  37. 137
    Oakden Wolf says:

    I wrote a post on my blog yesterday, in response to this thread, that what is needed is something irrefutable and incontrovertible in the public mind regarding anthropogenic global warming. My example was the paired magnetic striping discovered on either side of the mid-ocean ridges, a confirmed prediction that couldn’t have any other explanation other than that of crustal formation and spreading from the mid-ocean ridges. All the “pieces” of plate tectonics fell into place when this discovery was published and publicized. (I also remembered in parallel the confirmation of Einstein’s prediction that gravity bends light by observations of star occultations during a solar eclipse.)

    Thinking again, why that is needed requires clarification. The basic reason IS: at the core of the intellectual bankruptcy of their scientific arguments is denial that greenhouse gases do cause climatic warming; this basic level of denial allows attractive alternatives for causation (such as solar influence or galactic cosmic rays or “urban heat islands” or bad paleoclimate data interpretations or oceanic cycles or land-use changes or natural cloud variation or… point made) to be given theoretical equivalency in the minds of the climate agnotologenti with the parsimoniously, observationally, and first-principally correct anthropogenically-generated greenhouse gas causation.

    So what should be sought is an observational “magic bullet” — the arguing point that creates significant cognitive dissonance with the limited explanatory power of the attractive alternatives. An example from the ongoing struggle against Scientific Creationism is the Grand Canyon: it is very hard for anyone to witness the strata of millenia displayed there and retain a belief that it came into existence in a geologic eyeblink. Visual and cognitive confrontation with the salient fact of the Grand Canyon caused (and likely still causes) many believers in the tenets of Scientific Creationism to both abandon their belief structure and also to perceive the intellectual and theological vacuousness of its promulgators.

    So what could be that “magic bullet”? I suggest one potential candidate: that era of geologic time when atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations rose quickly, naturally, and massively, and caused a geologically abrupt, large and incontrovertible global warming. The cognoscenti will understand my meaning here; my statement is that there is no other viable causative alternative than that of greenhouse gases and their induced climate response. If the fundamentals of this example are provided any time an alternative explanatory framework for modern-era observations is suggested, then the burden of theoretical legitimacy falls upon the presenter of the alternative. They have to explain how their alternative accounts for both modern observations and also this paleoclimatological event.

    Since nothing else does work, other than the explanatory comprehensiveness of greenhouse gases, the dismantling of their fabricated framework can start right there. It could be hoped that such a tactic could cause many of those who have accepted (to some extent) one or several intellectually bankrupt arguments to begin to perceive the scientific fragility of these arguments. To put it simply, if you blow a hole through their arguments, it’s a lot easier to see through them.

  38. 138
    Lloyd Flack says:

    #136 Michael,
    Stop being silly! You sound like of those people whose opinions on physical facts are driven by their politics and cannot imagine any one whose politics might be modified by their evaluation of scientific facts. Sad!

  39. 139
    Donald Oats says:

    John Mashey, there is yet another factor at play in determining a person’s overall outlook on AGW – the order in which they acquire the stylised facts.

    For example, I’ve seen several bloggers state that their conversion to the skeptical side (and then to outright denial, but that’s another story) as being when they first learnt that CO2 has a logarithm relationship rather than the linear one they had tacitly assumed. Others have switched – like a bang-bang control – from belief to hostility once they learned that substantially larger climate changes have happened in the distant geologic past; presumably they hadn’t given it any thought so when they first discover this it is so jarring to their previous assumption of a relatively invariable climate, that they feel they’ve been conned or something.

    In each case it seems to involve a premature jump to conclusion, without passing through the stage of checking whether scientists already knew these things and account for these things or not. Human decision making apparatus never ceases to amaze.

  40. 140
    Mark says:

    #138

    However, Flack, your opinions aren’t apparently based on scientific facts only leaving one option left to choose.

  41. 141
    Mark says:

    #131: “I think you said scientists not in the groove of AGW have a hard time getting anything published simply because they are not in the groove. Did I read you correctly?”

    I think you didn’t.

    The scientists not in the groove of AGW have a hard time getting anything published because they’re not in the groove because they’re not publishing.

    Any further inference is on your part.

    After all your paper you’re writing will not be on climate and therefore not help you understand climate. Not because you’re denying AGW but because you’re not studying it.

  42. 142

    I’ve been having an extraordiary run over at the letters page of The Australian, the latest 22 October featuring a letter by me responding to a previous attack, accompanied by a new attack.

    Read the letters and comments (and check again to see if my follow up appears). I’ve been trying to push the rather simple point that if the bunch who claim it’s all the sun are right, we should have had really low temperatures the last 2 years. I would be happy if someone could argue this is wrong. Instead, I’ve had all kinds of ad homs and diversions (including raising the Latif story).

    All of this reveals to me exactly how deep the denialist cult has taken hold – yet how little substance it has. If there was really a plausible alternative hypothesis that did not rely on changing the goalposts or changing the subject, we surely would have heard it by now. Even if the denialist claims of bias in the research process were true, a significant number of papers would have been published by now supporting a plausible aternative if there was one.

    All this got me wondering what happens to lunatic fringe conspiracy-theoretic alternative theories in other fields, so I searched on “DNA not double helix molecule” and sure enough found something. Read this, and compare it to your favourite climate change denial site. Spot the difference?

  43. 143
    Recycler says:

    Re BPL at #117
    So I take it you’ve read each issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, Geophysics Research Letters, Journal of Atmospheric Science, Monthly Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Journal of Climate, Science, and Nature over that period? And found nothing?

    Gosh, I can’t even keep up with posts on RC, so I obviously haven’t read all those mags. And nor, I suspect have you. If you had – and had found obvious refutation – you’d be shouting it from the rooftops. The blogosphere is eerily quiet on this issue. It may well be that Richard Lindzen has it wrong. But the fact that it’s taking months to demonstrate clearly where he’s wrong shows that the science is pretty complex. And the fact that a lot of clever people are probably working hard to refute his figures can only be to the long term benefit of climate science.

    I also take it you’re not familiar with the arguments that have already shown that climate sensitivity CAN’T be as low as Lindzen says it is.

    Thank you for the reference. It’s an interesting presentation of a lot of different analyses, but of course it’s all based on “known/knowns” – with not a hint of a confidence range anywhere – so it’s hardly surprising that there’s rough agreement. Although you obviously think otherwise, it doesn’t say to me that climate sensitivity CAN’T be as low as Lindzen has measured. It just says these are the estimates we’ve calculated based on current knowledge.

    Please at least recognize that Lindzen may have something useful to offer through his use of real data – even if it’s only a more compelling demonstration of why you’re right and he’s wrong. That’s the intellectually honest approach, and we haven’t worked fully through it yet.

  44. 144
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod B. said “I think you said scientists not in the groove of AGW have a hard time getting anything published simply because they are not in the groove. Did I read you correctly?”

    That is a rather odd interpretation of my words. To try and be more clear, what I meant was that their rejection of anything that might imply anthropogenic climate change causes them to reject critical ideas and techniques, without which one simply cannot understand Earth’s climate. I think this highlights a critical misunderstanding that denialists and perhaps most laymen have. Scientists did not set out to study anthropogenic climate change. They set out to understand Earth’s climate–and they found that you can understand it quite well. Unfortunately, an inevitable consequence of that understanding is that we are changing the climate in dangerous and unpredictable ways. if you reject anthropogenic causation of the current warming epoch, then you must reject most of the most powerfully explanatory ideas of our understanding of Earth’s climate. As a result, you will have a severe dearth of insight into how climate works and so no publications. I hope that is clearer.

  45. 145
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Oakden Wolf,
    The problem is not the absence of a “smoking gun”. Simultaneous warming of the troposphere and cooling of the stratosphere certainly qualifies for that. Rather it is the refusal of a large proportion of the population to even look at the evidence. If the polar caps and glaciers melted entirely they’d blame the resulting floods on divine wrath. The problem seems to be that a large fraction of the human population is weapons-grade stupid.

  46. 146
    Ray Ladbury says:

    David @125, The point you seem to be trying to make is that we have a case of information asymmetry here, and I agree. The climate scientists have all the information. However, that is somewhat inevitable in science, and the public shows no similar skepticism of scientists on most technical questions. I don’t think you would have skepticism on climate change either if you didn’t have a well orchestrated and well financed campaign to discredit both the science and the scientists. The vitriol is a result of this direct assault upon science.

    The cure for information asymmetry is information, but the public has to be willing to learn, and that is where things are breaking down. I’m sorry, but what would you call someone who refuses to learn other than stupid?

  47. 147
    Mark says:

    “If the polar caps and glaciers melted entirely they’d blame the resulting floods on divine wrath.”

    Or say “well, the ice caps were melted before, it’s just natural! We’re coming out of an ice age, after all!”.

    Or “there’s no proof that CO2 did that!”

    Or “Cosmic rays did that!”

    Or “Titan’s ice is melting!”

    Or…

  48. 148
    Mark says:

    Recycler says “Gosh, I can’t even keep up with posts on RC, so I obviously haven’t read all those mags.”

    But you still feel as though you’ve read enough to make a judgement on what’s happening when one side is “I get to drive a big car” and the other side is “Death for billions”.

    Hmmm.

  49. 149
    Mark says:

    Philip (#142), is that dude real or pulling our leg?

    Even the flippin shopping site: “Dr Beigeleisen Books and Music”!!!

    I wonder if he gets much of a call for a CD with 20MB of PPT slides (which version of Office?) at $100 a pop?

    Least his music sales are only a dollar…

  50. 150
    Recycler says:

    Re Mark #148
    But you still feel as though you’ve read enough to make a judgement on what’s happening when one side is “I get to drive a big car” and the other side is “Death for billions”.

    Oh, come on, please. Let’s try and keep this at even a vaguely rational and adult level. I’ve certainly read enough to construct better “arguments” than yours!


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