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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One problem with books on this topic is that they quickly grow out of date.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. 151
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Recycler,
    First, it is rare that you wind up with an outright refutation of a published paper in the scientific literature. Rather, what usually happens is that questions are raised about the data or methodology of the paper. Such is the case with Lindzen’s use of ERBE data. The published work is an improvement [edit] It is still not clear if he is using the most correct version of the ERBE data, particularly since things look very different from Wong et al.
    Gavin and James Annan have raised questions about why Lindzen is comparing to AMIP rather than CMIP simulations, which would be the more appropriate comparison. No response from Lindzen. See:

    http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/2009/08/quick-comment-on-lindzen-and-choi.html

    And Chris Colose has done an excellent post that bears on why Lindzen is certainly wrong:

    http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2009/10/08/re-visiting-cff/

    Finally, you asked for confidence levels. I commend to you:

    http://www.iac.ethz.ch/people/knuttir/papers/knutti08natgeo.pdf

    This details most of the independent lines of evidence–all of which favor a climate sensitivity of 3 degrees per doubling–and none of which support a sensitivity as low as 2 degrees per doubling with any confidence.

  2. 152
    truth says:

    The attitude of AGW proponents—and not the least on this blog—does their credibility no good at all.
    I’ll probably be labelled and smeared as I have been here many times—or my comment sin-binned—-but I have no links at all with any climate change organisation or any person connected to the energy industry, or any other industry.
    You simply don’t allow, on this blog, for someone to question the inconsistencies or to raise anything at all that doesn’t fit like a glove with your claims—- without the smear treatment.
    The blanket assumption /assertion that anyone questioning anything about the claims made, and citing other scientific views, either has dark motives, is a creationist or is paid by an evil energy industry, is truly distasteful, and fosters suspicion that rational discussion isn’t possible and is even feared here.
    Every one of us has a stake in the world’s getting this issue right—and we will all have our lives changed by the upheaval and re-ordering of global governance, trade and just about everything, that will follow if the conclusions of AGW [ CO2] consensus scientists are taken as the final word as seems to be demanded.
    The Framework to the Climate Change Convention at Copenhagen gives a foretaste of what’s to come.
    You act here as though there’s been nothing at all in the AGW consensus science that could possible be challengeable.
    [edit of list of debunked talking points]
    It seems that to have the most tenuous link [ which I have not—not any link at all] with an energy company—eg to know someone who knows someone who worked at some time for an energy company—– is to be highly suspect by distant association—to be dismissed—pilloried—character-assassinated.
    What on earth were we supposed to do for energy, without some energy company to produce it—-just do without—back to the dark ages?

    [Response: You have it completely backwards. People get frustrated when people like you come by, insist they are just asking questions and yet never seem to pay attention to the answers. Instead they come back ask the same leading questions over again (demonstrating clearly that they are aren’t actually interested in the answers), and then complain about how badly they treated. Why do you think this is a sensible mode of discourse? Do you actually anticipate learning anything? Or are you just waiting to see whether we suddenly all change our minds? Really, I’m interested – what response do you want? -gavin]

    When did certainty in your consensus become licence to demonise so irrationally?

  3. 153
    Richard Steckis says:

    Ray Ladbury #145 says:

    “The problem seems to be that a large fraction of the human population is weapons-grade stupid.”

    Maybe they have a better bullshit meter than you do Ray.

  4. 154
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    re: 139

    I don’t buy the idea that people really believe that previous warming incidents are an impediment to accepting AGW. “Cain killed Abel. So, your Honor, I couldn’t possibly have killed this man.” Who really thinks that way? Lots of people TALK that way but it’s a self-evident excuse.

  5. 155
    John Mashey says:

    re: #139 Donald Oats
    re: order may matter. Yes, I agree. That’s what I was trying to get at with the isomer comment at the end of my post.

    Fast flips from one side to the other: yes, I agree with that also. That’s what PSY7 was for: authoritarian personality, all-or-none thinking. See Deltoid discussion Dec 2008, which had longer commentary, and this effect was labeled PSYCH-4 at that point.
    I have seen it a few times, where someone accepted AGW without much study, and then had their belief punctured by some wrong-meme they couldn’t easily refute, and flips over.

  6. 156
    Ken Coffman says:

    Quick question…when you’re visualizing (intuitively) the interaction of outgoing IR energy with CO2 molecules, do you lean toward particle (photon) or wave (ray) simplification?

  7. 157
    Mark says:

    Dog, in post 92 you answer this:

    “Hank isn’t an economist is he? I’m not and I knew that the housing market was due a crash. Twice I’ve been right.

    So am I brighter than a nobel prize winner economist? Is Hank?

    I don’t think so”

    With this:

    ” “So am I brighter than a nobel prize winner economist?”
    We know you think you are …”

    1) What’s this “we” thing?

    2) When you say

    “We know you think you are”

    did you not read it this?

    “I don’t think so” in post 83?

    Which means you also think that nobody else did.

    You’re channeling denialist mentalism dog.

    a) avoiding answering questions by ad hom attacks
    b) quote mining to support an ad hom attack

    would you like to try again? This time WITHOUT being an arse.

  8. 158
    Silk says:

    Recycler – Re 143 : Ray has done an excellent job of answering your question for you, but what I don’t understand is why you can’t answer it yourself.

    I do not, as I type this, know the arguments as to why Climate Sensitivity is constrained. It’s 15:10

    Google “observational constraints on climate sensitivity lindzen”

    http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=observational+constraints+on+climate+sensitivity+lindzen&meta=&aq=f&oq=

    Oh look. The 4th link is from RealClimate. Have they provided reasoning as to why Lindzen’s 0.5 K value of climate sensitivity is wrong? They have.

    OK, so it took a bit of digging to unearth the Gregory paper. But it’s here http://epic.awi.de/Publications/Gre2002a.pdf

    It’s 15:25. Not too bad.

    Your argument was

    a) Gavin and co haven’t take the time to address the Lindzen point – They have, here, on RC. You could have found that if you’d taken the time to look

    b) Science hasn’t bothered to address the issue of confidence intervals in climate sensitivity. They have, in multiple publications. If you are too busy to use read them all, to the IPCC AR4 @ http://www.ipcc.ch

    What this boils down to is “I don’t understand the science but I won’t heard fact X that undermines climate. Explain it too me in very simple words that I can understand. What? You’re busy? You’ve done it 10 times before and you are sick and tired of answering the same question? You expect me to do some RESEARCH MYSELF? Well, *I’m* sorry, but until you, personally, take the time to explain climate science to me (even though all the information I need is in the public domain) I’m going to flat out refuse to take any action, or consider that my politicans should do so.”

    There are, what, 300 million people living in North Amercia? If Gavin and Ray have to explain, to each of them, in person, every little bit of climate, we will have run out of coal long before they are finished.

    RealClimate is a fantastic resource. Virtually every skeptical question I’ve seen has been answered, in simple, easy to understand language, here, many many times.

    Sorry if I’m coming down hard on you, but the number of people who seem to think this resource exists so that experts can hold their hand and walk them through climate is ridiculous.

    And usually, at the end, the person who wants their hand held says “Well, you still haven’t convinced me” and wanders off.

    You can lead a horse to water. RealClimate is an oasis of knowledge. Everything you need to know, pretty much is here.

    Take a drink. Help yourself. Just don’t expect the experts to bring you a clean glass, tuck in the napkin and then mop you up when you spill it all over yourself.

  9. 159
    Mark says:

    re 155: neither.

    Energy.

    That is all.

    Wave: you don’t have lensing, so why is the wave nature of photons necessary?
    Particle: you don’t have a photoelectric effect, so why is the particle nature of photons necessary? There is also no worry about the UV catastrophe.

    Just energy, Ken.

    Energy likes to DO things. Even if it’s just “make this liquid water instead of ice”.

  10. 160
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Richard Steckis, Is it seriously your contention that thousands of climate scientists, who have collectively published several thousand papers on Earth’s climate, are bullshitting? Do you seriously contend that they have pulled the wool over the eyes of every professional and honorific society of scientists on the planet (as none of them dissent from the consensus). And do you really think that it is only a bunch of intrepid amateurs with no training and no understanding of the subject matter are the true experts?

    Wow. Just wow. You’re beyond weapons grade.

  11. 161
    BlondieBC says:

    I also read the blogs of the other side. I believe there argument is more that the relatively small community of climate scientist are suffering from classic group think. The group think is compounded by threats to the funding level of climate change science.

    In my experience, one must deal arguments as the others frame the world, in order to persuade. The net result of trying to reframe will be to have two groups that make sounds, but do not communicate effectively with each other.

  12. 162
    Mark says:

    Silk says : “You can lead a horse to water. ”

    Problem is the denialists will say once you’ve lead them to water “that isn’t water. I was looking for water, all YOU’VE done is put me in front of some clear liquid thingy. All I want is WATER!!!!”.

    If you drink it to prove it safe, they’ll say “you’ve just taken the antidote. PROVE it is water!!!”.

    And so on.

    All the while claiming that you’re responsible for their thirst and if they die it’s your fault.

  13. 163
    Ray Ladbury says:

    truth, If it try to be nice to you will you at least try to understand? Pretty please?

    Any scientific theory will include several different proposeitions, all of which will have different levels of uncertainty associated with them. The thing is that the proposition that imply that we are warming the planet are so firmly established that if they are wrong, then pretty much all of climate science is wrong–and given the strong track record of climate science, that ain’t likely.

    Suggesting that CO2 sensitivity is substantially less than 3 degrees per doubling is like asserting that quarks don’t exist in particle physics. Now this is precisely what my graduate stat mech prof did, so his history is illustrative. His opinions were respected on matters of general physics (he was a bright guy), but he was pretty much ignored when it came to particle physics because his ideas simply had no explanatory power.

    I agree that everyone has a stake in this issue. It will affect every human. But please try to understand that the fact that you don’t like the solutions being proposed has absolutely zero bearing on the scientific question of whether we are warming the planet. That is a matter for scientists to decide–and they have, with 90-95% confidence. What is more, the probable consequences of climate change are also a matter of science–and we know with high confidence that there will be serious adverse consequences to more than a couple of degrees warming. Where you come in is in the question of what we do about it. Given the likely severe consequences, doing nothing really isn’t a possibility. However, if you don’t like the current proposals then propose alternatives that will be at least as effect in averting disaster.

    So, in summary:

    1)The science is real. Accept reality.

    2)The consequences are severe. Accept that we have to do something to avert them.

    3)Help find solutions.

    Is that really so much to ask?

  14. 164
    Recycler says:

    Re Silk, #158

    Silk, I think you may be a few years behind the times. The RC “refutation” you pointed me at is dated 2006, while Lindzen’s paper is very recent, August 2009. And the Gregory paper is 2002. While that doesn’t invalidate it, it does suggest that Lindzen’s paper is at a level beyond.

    I actually have asked the question about Linzen & Choi’s paper here on RC, in September. You can look it up yourself at #507 in the Communicating Science: not just talking the talk” thread. To save you the trouble, here is Gavin’s reply:
    Response: First off, there is plenty of evidence that climate sensitivity is in the ballpark of what the models suggest. That implies straightaway that the L&C analysis is going to be flawed or incomplete in some way. Second, the comparison they have made is a little odd – it is with the real world and a set of model runs using the observed ocean temperatures as forcing (so-called ‘AMIP’ runs). These runs have some very subtle issues associated with them, and so it is more usual to look at the fully coupled versions of these models (since they are the ones that are projecting the future in any case). Now both sets of models are archived in the same place, and in the same format, and yet only the AMIP results are shown. I’m curious to see what you would get with the full models. Third, the data analysis itself relies on stringing together different satellites that might have non-negligible offsets and so trends are probably not robust. As usual, one paper does not negate the whole of the science. – gavin

    Now, while Gavin makes what sound like reasonable points, it is by no means a whole-hearted refutation of the Lindzen results, and it seems to leave a lot of room for more discussion.

    Perhaps like me, Silk, you haven’t had time to read every comment to every post in the last few years? But don’t worry, I won’t “come down too hard on you” :-)

  15. 165
    dhogaza says:

    You’re channeling denialist mentalism dog.

    Oh, yes, I’m a denialist. I’m sure everyone here believes that, too.

  16. 166
    Lara Avara says:

    Speaking of attacks on the science of climate change, has anyone seen the film “Not Evil Just Wrong” which claims to debunk “An Inconvenient Truth”. If so I would be interested in a critical review of this film.

  17. 167
    SecularAnimist says:

    truth wrote: “You simply don’t allow, on this blog, for someone to question the inconsistencies or to raise anything at all that doesn’t fit like a glove with your claims—- without the smear treatment.”

    That is an outright lie, Mr. Truth.

  18. 168

    These three are what I believe are smoking guns:

    1) Climate reconstructions of the past 2,000 years showing today’s climate is quite unusual.

    2) Climate models that cannot predict the modern climate with just natural forcings but do predict today’s climate with human forcings. These same models also show that in the most recent decades climate has been primarily forced by GHGs.

    3) Tropospheric warming coupled with stratospheric cooling.

    #1 is rebutted by the “hockey stick is broken” and it is hard to convince people otherwise.

    #2 is rebutted by “climate models are not accurate” and it is hard to convince people otherwise.

    #3 is my preferred smoking gun. The rebuttal is that ozone depletion is causing the cooling. However, in the past decade or so, ozone levels have been fairly constant while stratospheric cooling has continued. The cooling is especially evident in the upper stratosphere (1.5 K/decade during 1979–2005) where there is little ozone anyway.

    Natural causes of warming cannot explain stratospheric cooling. How can “the sun” or PDO or NAO or cloud cover, etc. cause this? Only increased GHGs can as far as I know.

    Sources:

    Randel, W. J., et al. (2009). An update of observed stratospheric temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D02107, doi:10.1029/2008JD010421.

    http://www.atmosphere.mpg.de/enid/43a70e8d30261d101d3075f7a055fe30,0/2__Ozone/-_Cooling_20c.html

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/csd/assessments/2006/report.html

  19. 169
    Jim Prall says:

    Re #143 Recycler:
    You’re pinning all your hopes on Lindzen’s very low estimate of climate sensitivity. Yet there are many other scientists and many more studies that rule out such a low sensitivity. Since Lindzen’s paper is quite recent, may I propose a “pre-futation” from 2007? This one is open access so anyone can see it for themselves:

    Royer, Dana, Robert A. Berner & Jeffrey Park
    Climate sensitivity constrained by CO2
    concentrations over the past 420 million years
    Nature Vol 446, 29 March 2007, doi:10.1038/nature05699

    {website}droyer.web.wesleyan dotedu
    {file}climate_sensitivity.pdf

    {see their final para. – quote omitted in quest to get past draconian spam filter?}
    If you look at their figure 2a and figure 3, the range left of 1C for sensitivity is a terrible fit to the data – the chi-square residual errors go off the chart (literally) in that range. Looking at fig. 2b, the bell curve of how likely different sensitivities are, values below 1c are getting vanishingly close to zero probability. So Lindzen’s latest figure is an outlier, to say the least.
    Even if we allow that Lindzen *might* be correct, you should give all the other people working on this number at least similar credence that their many, many results also *might* be right, and they greatly outnumber Lindzen – both in number of scholars and number of papers concluding the sensitivity is much higher than Lindzen proposes. From a policy viewpoint, we need to address the fairly plausible risk that someone other than Lindzen has the right number.

  20. 170
    Jim Prall says:

    Okay, my last post got through the spam filter to await moderation. Here’s a follow-up with the URL of the Royer paper, for ease of reference:

    Royer, Dana, Robert A. Berner & Jeffrey Park
    Climate sensitivity constrained by CO2 concentrations over the past 420 million years
    Nature Vol 446, 29 March 2007, doi:10.1038/nature05699

    http://droyer.web.wesleyan.edu/climate_sensitivity.pdf

    I’d also wanted to add that Barton Paul Levenson has posted an extensive list of prior estimates of Teq, the sensitivity to CO2 doubling:

    http:/bartonpaullevenson.com/ClimateSensitivity.html

  21. 171
    Jim Prall says:

    Oops, please add the second slash after http in BPLs site in my last post so it becomes clickable.

    Finally, here’s the summary paragraph from Royer, which seemed to run afoul of the spam filters before:

    “[O]ur results demonstrate that a weak, long-term radiative forcing by CO2 (dT(2x) < 1.5C) is highly unlikely. This conclusion is consistent with decadal to millennial records from the recent past and with millennial records from the ancient past, such as the Palaeocene–Eocene thermal maximum. Combined, these data suggest that a dT(2x) of at least 1.5C has been a robust feature of the Earth’s climate system over the past 420 Myr, regardless of temporal scaling."

  22. 172
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #152 & truth

    “Every one of us has a stake in the world’s getting this issue right—and we will all have our lives changed by the upheaval and re-ordering of global governance, trade and just about everything, that will follow if the conclusions of AGW [ CO2] consensus scientists are taken as the final word as seems to be demanded…..It seems that to have the most tenuous link [ which I have not—not any link at all] with an energy company—eg to know someone who knows someone who worked at some time for an energy company—– is to be highly suspect by distant association—to be dismissed—pilloried—character-assassinated. What on earth were we supposed to do for energy, without some energy company to produce it—-just do without—back to the dark ages?”

    I know there are skeptics out there not connected with the energy industry. I think there are valid concerns about solutions to AGW. One is the ECONOMIC CONCERN (freezing in the dark and going back to the preindustrial era fear) and the POLITICAL CONCERN of ending up in a dystopian, autocratic society where your every move is monitored and you get guillotined for driving an ICE car beyond your mileage limit or eating a KitKat (that contains palm oil from Indonesia, where they are destroying rainforests for palm plantations). Lubos Motl, (I think) from such a dystopian society E. Europe, has reasons to for his political concerns.

    However, it is very important that we address real problems (and not let them fester or slip into irreversible devastation), but do so in ways that address these other types of concerns. The longer we wait on addressing and mitigating AGW (& the world’s emissions just keep on increasing every year), the more likely more draconian measures might have to be used, or nature will impose her own draconian measures.

    So, it behooves those who have these economic and/or political fears to at the very least get on the bandwagon of doing all we can to mitigate AGW that saves us money, strengthens our economy, and gives us greater freedom and choice than we had before….even tho we have our doubts AGW is real. Just in case it is real, and to get beyond the bickering and onto this economically and politically better world of which I speak.

    I believe there are wonderful solutions to AGW that could lead us into this world. The technology is here. It’s just a matter of implementing it.

    For example, we can get greater savings AND freedom by going off the grid with solar and wind and other alt power. We can have the freedom of more choice if affordable electric cars are available (in my area, please). There is the biochar solution. With the more affordable unit ( http://www.youtube.com/user/rechar350#p/a/u/2/kRQuF4d9DBo ), nearly every farm could become more productive and save money while drawing down CO2. City garbage could be made into biochar, etc. And there are a host of other really great solutions that not only save us money, but give us greater freedom. Imagine what marvels we could come up with if more people really put their minds to it. This AGW mitigation project is not only money saving and freedom enhancing, it is spiritually uplifting, mentally and emotionally invigorating and positive.

    So, all in favor of implementing these available (or nearly available) AGW mitigation solutions say “Aye.” All opposed say “No.”

    Well, even if the majority vote against this, that’s just too bad, since individuals (at least for now) are free to implement these as they like.

  23. 173
    John H. says:

    Lynn, et al,

    It’s not valid to substitute these caricatures of concerns for the real ones.

    “I know there are skeptics out there not connected with the energy industry. I think there are valid concerns about solutions to AGW. One is the ECONOMIC CONCERN (freezing in the dark and going back to the preindustrial era fear) and the POLITICAL CONCERN of ending up in a dystopian, autocratic society where your every move is monitored and you get guillotined for driving an ICE car beyond your mileage limit or eating a KitKat (that contains palm oil from Indonesia, where they are destroying rainforests for palm plantations). Lubos Motl, (I think) from such a dystopian society E. Europe, has reasons to for his political concerns.”

    The AGW policies resulting in soaring energy prices would make everything cost more plunging our economy off the cliff without any climate or environmental benefit at all.
    I view Lynn’s proposal and pure fantasy.

  24. 174
    tharanga says:

    Re Lynn, reply 171:

    Motivations for being a sceptic can be more emotional than what you’re thinking (People who don’t like the political or economic consequences of taking action on emissions, so they want to knock down the science).

    It can be simply a matter of non-technical person picking a side due to irrational impulses, and wanting to see his horse win. Treating a scientific question like one of watching football for entertainment. This can go for those on the consensus “side”, as well, particularly those with a weak grasp of the science. Lots of comments at WUWT and a few of them here on RC merely amount to “I don’t entirely understand what you just said, but rah, rah, go team go, that’ll finally show the other side!”

    What could those irrational impulses be? Maybe the sceptic just doesn’t trust establishment or authority figures, and sees a large number of scientists as an authority. Maybe something one picked up from the parents. Maybe somebody’s high school chemistry teacher told him climate science was bunk. Who knows? If you ask a 16 year old why he/she supports the a given political party, that person might not say anything coherent at all, but having picked a horse, that person might stick with it later in life.

  25. 175
    Rod B says:

    Ray L (144), but you said it wasn’t because they are bad scientists that they can’t get published. Yet you describe bad scientists in your follow-up explanation. O.K. I’ll accept your clarification.

  26. 176

    Recycler, read the references on evidence from paleoclimate. If sensitivity were as low as Lindzen says it is, we should never have had the variations we actually had. We wouldn’t have had ice ages, which would certainly have been good news for the Neanderthals. If somebody’s theory contradicts the evidence, we generally scrap or at least modify the theory, not the evidence. It’s possible that Lindzen is right, but it’s so unlikely that I will lose not a moment’s sleep worrying about it.

  27. 177

    Lara:

    has anyone seen the film “Not Evil Just Wrong” which claims to debunk “An Inconvenient Truth”. If so I would be interested in a critical review of this film.

    Haven’t seen it, but from what I hear all it does is repackage all the old refuted denialist cliches and claim to be revolutionary.

  28. 178
    Mike of Oz says:

    As a layperson but a scientifically literate one (which I’m becoming ever more convinced puts me in an abnormal group of people) I’m fighting this cursed ignorance all the time.

    But the single worst thing is the sheer number of people who plonk up a temperature data graph in front of me and say “See? The temperature line slopes downwards, so the world is cooling!”. When I respond “But isn’t that y axis labelled temperature anomaly/deviation? And when something shows a positive deviation, doesn’t that mean it’s still increasing?”, the ensuing silence is deafening, and usually accompanied by “well I just don’t believe it anyway”.

    What gets me, is that they can’t even read a graph, and there they preaching this crap as gospel.

  29. 179

    John H:

    The AGW policies resulting in soaring energy prices would make everything cost more plunging our economy off the cliff without any climate or environmental benefit at all.

    What policies would those be? I haven’t heard any proposal that would do any such thing.

    I view Lynn’s proposal and pure fantasy.

    Which do you like better?

  30. 180
    Martin Vermeer says:

    “truth”, someone who denies factual reality is a liar. Irrespective of motive, forensically interesting as that may be. And no less if he is also lying, successfully, to himself.

    Liars don’t deserve respect. Even your handle is a lie…

  31. 181
    Majorajam says:

    david says:
    “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.”

    gavin replies:
    “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 foresee 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.”

    I’d be inclined to side with david on this. Notwithstanding its lengthy history, economics is still an immature field of study, as are the remainder of the social sciences. That doesn’t mean that it is devoid of valid insights, such as those that led Robert Schiller, and more notably in my estimation, Paul Volcker, to sound the alarm earlier this decade about asset price/financial market risk. But there is a critical distinction here: those warnings were not outputs of a comprehensive analytical framework such as exists in climate science. They were ad hoc observations to the effect that certain basic economic relationships were defying gravity, which we know since Sir Isaac is an unsustainable exercise.

    The only living economist I have seen who’s analysis leads more directly to an understanding the broader picture and its ramifications- of which things like the prices of residential real estate and the existence of collateralized debt obligations are just manifestations- is a relative unknown by the name of Norman Gall. His series Money, Greed & Technology penned fully a decade ago was a tour de force of prescient analysis (having IMO almost as much to do with his domicile as his deep insight). If we include the dead, I would count Hyman Minsky in that category without question, and more debatably the Depression era economist Joseph Schumpeter. One can only hope the failure that david points out causes the profession to refocus on its massive shortcomings, and away from the frivolity that it has devolved into (see prior post on RC).

    In any case, the broader point is that comparisons between the grasp of the economy of economics and the grasp of the physical world of the physical sciences are invalid. This is not to say that it is inconceivable that, whatever, twenty million climate scientists are wrong. The mainstream climate science community very well could be. But, by way of colossal understatement, it is premature to believe so when there aren’t any remotely compelling alternative explanations for climate dynamics out there, manufactured doubt notwithstanding.

  32. 182
    Edward says:

    #160 Ray
    You’re saying there are thousands of Climate scientists? Publishing a study about midges over the last 2000 years or analyzing the movement of glaciers does not qualify one as a climatologist. I am however open to be proven wrong. If someone would like to send me a link to the members list of the “society of climatology” I’ll be happy to take a look. Thanks
    Ed

  33. 183
    SecularAnimist says:

    John H wrote: “The AGW policies resulting in soaring energy prices would make everything cost more plunging our economy off the cliff without any climate or environmental benefit at all.”

    That’s one hundred percent pure rubbish — nothing but rote regurgitation of fossil fuel industry-funded lies.

    It never ceases to amaze me that people who unhesitatingly, unthinkingly, uncritically, slavishly, obediently believe every word that Rush Limbaugh says, call themselves “skeptics” and complain about the “pervasive ignorance” of the world’s scientists.

  34. 184
    Mark says:

    tharanga, it can also be a groundswell against all that learning.

    A recent BBC HYS was about whether you’d take the vaccine.

    Many (many, MANY) people said “No! You should let your body learn how to fight these things!”. And were highly recommended (I.e. considered right and correct and worth reading). Forgetting or not knowing how a vaccine works.

    Many more posts said “My GP said that I had best wait until I got the flu and then take the vaccine” which is completely made up or is evidence of some REALLY SERIOUS problem in GP education. And still more people modded these up.

    More posts said “Bacteria mutate so any vaccine will be impotent, this is just a way to make money!”. Forgetting a virus isn’t a bacterium.

    Some of these require knowledge of *something* about modern medicine. But only taken far enough to make the point they are looking for. Some require out-and-out lying.

    And are absolutely and on the basic unvarnished bare truth WRONG.

    Yet still many repeat posters saying the same thing, each one garnering many votes recommending them.

  35. 185
    Mark says:

    John H et al

    “The AGW policies resulting in soaring energy prices would make everything cost more plunging our economy off the cliff without any climate or environmental benefit at all.”

    A brave statement.

    PROVE IT.

    Show us where this has happened before, not any of your namby-pamby “models”, using REAL SCIENCE. EMPIRICAL science.

    Prove your statement.

    Or are you just trying to scare people?

    Alarmist.

  36. 186
    Deech56 says:

    RE: 173 John H. says (in response to Lynn’s post):
    22 October 2009 at 12:39 PM

    The AGW policies resulting in soaring energy prices would make everything cost more plunging our economy off the cliff…

    That seems rather alarmist, don’t you think? If you’re getting into worst-case scenarios, Nature can do you one better, and the final result will still include “plunging our economy off the cliff”.

  37. 187
    Mark says:

    #165
    ” You’re channeling denialist mentalism dog.

    Oh, yes, I’m a denialist.”

    Oh another denialist metal feat.

    Reading a sentence and reading not what’s there but what you want to be there.

    That quote isn’t saying you’re a denialist, dog.

    It’s saying that you’re using the same processes of bad argument, ad hominem attack, misquoting, strawman construction, avoidance and outright lies to prove yourself right in the face of all the evidence that denialists do.

    Evolution deniers do the same. Flat Earthers. 11/9 truthers. Birthers. They aren’t AGW deniers. And saying that they’re using the same techniques isn’t saying they are AGW deniers.

    It’s merely saying that they and you are using the same piss-poor argumentitive techniques to avoid answering questions because the answer would not help them prove themselves right. It doesn’t even have to prove you (or them) wrong. It just has to not support whatever emotional raving they do not want to face is in fact emotional raving and not rational thought.

    You still haven’t answered the question, have you, dog.

    And your techniques ARE denialist.

    You aren’t an AGW denialist, you’re a Mark denialist.

    God knows why.

  38. 188
    Gerry Beauregard says:

    This one should be easy to debunk. In a recent letter to the President of the Maldives, published in the National Post (a right-leaning Canadian newspaper)…
    http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fpcomment/archive/2009/10/20/maldives-president-all-wet-on-sea-level.aspx
    …Nils-Axel Morner claims that “in the 1970s, sea level fell by about 20 cm to its present level”. That’s an unbelievable huge fall (in the most literal sense of “unbelievable”). Does anyone know where this 20cm figure comes from? Is there any truth to it at all? (E.g. maybe Morner really meant that the *local* sea level around the Maldives fell 20 cm in the 1970s?) I did a bit of searching for references to this supposed fall, and all seemed to be climate change denial sites essentially saying “sea level rise is a fraud, according to expert Nils-Axel Morner”.

  39. 189
    Mark says:

    Rod B #175.

    Bad scientists have a much lower chance of getting published.

    Hence the examples of people who didn’t get published were bad scientists. There’s a lot more of them.

    What IS your problem today?

    Edward, #178, I fail likewise to see where what you read is in what was written.

    You two doing a double act with dog?

  40. 190
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #173, John &

    The AGW policies resulting in soaring energy prices would make everything cost more plunging our economy off the cliff without any climate or environmental benefit at all. I view Lynn’s proposal and pure fantasy.

    You missed my entire point. I wasn’t at all refering to increasing the price of oil or coal, but of the great technology out there that would make our costs lower (including food, if agri uses biochar and becomes 20% more productive). In fact, from what I’ve heard, there won’t be much of a deal coming out of Copenhagen.

    However, if our gov or the UN or such decide to, say, put some tax on fossil fuels, then those of us not using fossil fuels (but on cheaper & more freedom enhancing alt energy) & practicing “reduce, reuse, recycle” regarding our other products won’t have to pay more on the whole.

    The only people who would have to pay more on their electric or gasoline bills and other bills are those who absolutely positively refuse to do anything to become more energy/resource efficient/conservative, ignoring any alt energy available to them. And I don’t have Hummer-load of sympathy for those folks. I just don’t.

    So, while I’m laughing all the way to the bank, I’m not going to even “howdy-do” those obstinant profligate guzzlers on the way to the poor house. Well, maybe I might a little.

  41. 191
    dhogaza says:

    It’s saying that you’re using the same processes of bad argument, ad hominem attack, misquoting, strawman construction, avoidance and outright lies to prove yourself right in the face of all the evidence that denialists do.

    Evolution deniers do the same. Flat Earthers. 11/9 truthers. Birthers. They aren’t AGW deniers. And saying that they’re using the same techniques isn’t saying they are AGW deniers.

    It’s merely saying that they and you are using the same piss-poor argumentitive techniques to avoid answering questions because the answer would not help them prove themselves right. It doesn’t even have to prove you (or them) wrong. It just has to not support whatever emotional raving they do not want to face is in fact emotional raving and not rational thought.

    All this because I said I trust nobel prize-winning economist Krugman’s opinion over yours regarding the profession’s proficiency in forecasting the current recession?

    Wowza. Whatever.

  42. 192
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #174, tharanga, you are probably right, at least for some denialist. And I’ve thought of another reason — the reality of climate change is just too scary. The old ostrich-head-in-the-sand tactic. And really, it is a horrible thing we are facing.

    When I first started out in 1990, reducing my GHGs in every whichway I could, finding out I was saving money without lowering living standards, then trying to pass along the message to others I came up against a brick wall of resistance or just lack of interests. I had thought all I had to do is install/institute it (mitigation measures), pass the word on to others, who would pass it on to others, then forget it, and get back to my regularly scheduled life. Twenty years later and I’m still running into that brick wall, smaller, but just as hard, if not harder, but my conscience won’t let me give up banging my head against it.

    So please, please, please, all you denialist out there. Just start mitigating every which way you can that saves you money or doesn’t cost, and pass on the info about the great actions and savings to all your friends, family and contacts, and forget about denying AGW.

    If it works out and everyone gets into mitigating, who knows we can bring the CO2 down below 350 ppm, and destroy any evidence that AGW is happening, and you can win the debate to boot!

    And I can at last, 20 yrs later, get on with my regularly scheduled life, or what I have left of it :)

  43. 193
    Mark says:

    Oh, and another oddity with all this daft arguing and denialist waffle.

    Another BBC HYS thread is about the Royal Mail strike that hasn’t started yet but is agreed to.

    There are posts that are recommended saying that they have already missed a doctors appointment because the postal strike delayed it.

    Other posts also state that they are going under because of payments that HAVE BEEN delayed ALREADY.

    But that first one is a humdinger.

    1) If it’s delayed by the entire length of the strike, that’s three days. But what doctors appointment is within three days of posting?

    2) Even if a doctor were DUMB enough to do this, since the strike hasn’t started, how can it have happened?

    This one isn’t even against learning. Many posts are also saying “In a recession, at least they have jobs!!!” and this may be another reason for all the lying: too many people now DEMAND that their problems are someone else’s fault.

    And I think that AGW is another one they DEMAND is NOT, NEVER, EVER, EVER ***EVER*** their fault. Couldn’t be, cannot be, is, was and never shall be their fault and therefore all the brouhaha must be some vast conspiracy to blame THEM.

    And anything that avoids blame or makes a problem someone else’s fault is taken on like a drowning man hangs onto anything that might possibly float.

  44. 194
    Ken Coffman says:

    re: 159

    Thanks, Mark, that’s helpful. Just energy, got it.

  45. 195

    Mark #149: so you are saying it’s exactly like the typical climate change denial site? :)

  46. 196
    RichardC says:

    187 Mark says, ‘You aren’t an AGW denialist, you’re a Mark denialist.”

    Mark doesn’t exist.
    Mark happens as a part of a natural rhythm. There’s a new Mark every few decades.
    Mark exists, but he’s natural and there’s nothing we can do to prevent Mark.
    Mark exists, but he’s beneficial. The world is a better place with more Mark.

  47. 197
    Mark says:

    I deny that, Phil.

    :-P

    No, but there DOES seem to be a lot of very weird working going on.

    BBC HYS is usually overloaded with a lot of people proclaiming that the new powers and laws are RIGHT and “if they save even one life…” rhetoric. But when vaccinces could save even one life, the site is overburdened with “This is just a way for Tamiflu to sell!”.

    But the examples I gave were where arguments were made with *enough* techno-babble to make someone who knew absolutely nothing think that there was something being said and those ideas being recommended and parroted.

    Worse, where any *critical* *thinking* were to occur, the argument raised on occasion makes within itself no sense whatsoever if true. Yet these too are lauded, repeated, and parroted.

    I have no idea what is going on because there’s no consistency. The only consistent thing is “If it’s a company and I’m not at risk, they’re right. If it’s a company and *I’m* at risk, they’re wrong. If it’s blaming me or even seems to, it’s wrong”. But it’s so fragmented even if that were the three-step filter, I couldn’t tell you the order it would be in.

    As to why?

    My personal suspicion is and unwarranted public insistence on

    Entitlement
    Gratification
    Intolerance

    They are ENTITLED to what they want. They MUST have it *now*. And ANYONE who intimates otherwise is *wrong*.

    It’s good for sales and marketing, not very much else, so I’d plump for 50+ years of manipulation of marketing on a TV generation.

  48. 198
    David B. Benson says:

    Recycler — You didn’t bother to read the links provided in comment #151 for you, did you?

    Here at Real Climate we try to do real science by, at least, reading the pertinent literature. If you have trouble with some of the papers, do ask. There are lots of capable amateurs here who will be happy to try to educate you.

  49. 199
    Mark says:

    “All this because I said I trust nobel prize-winning economist Krugman’s opinion over yours regarding the profession’s proficiency in forecasting the current recession?”

    Nope.

    Because you don’t answer the question asked. Because you misquote to support an ad-hom attack. Because you deliberately misread something to mean what you want. And avoid answering the question.

    Just as you have YET AGAIN avoided.

    I foresaw the economic crash.

    Hank foresaw the economic crash.

    I say economists had predicted.

    You put forward one nobel prize winning economist who said he didn’t.

    I ask: do you think Hank and I smarter than this economist?

    You then rant and rave and get EVERY SINGLE THING WRONG, just like a denialist does.

    So, no even that is wrong, you didn’t just say that.

    If you’djust said that, were did post 92 et al come from?

    Was that not you writing it? Was that not you saying it?

    If all those words were not said by you, who said them?

    And answer the question: do you think Hank and myself knew more than economists?

  50. 200
    Mark says:

    Like I said, RichardC, I don’t know why dog has such a boner to slam me all the time, but there we go.

    PS you missed out a *perfect* Dune reference. That so could have worked into “Mark is the little death. I shall not fear the Mark…”.


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