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Flyer tipping

Filed under: — gavin @ 12 January 2021

You would be forgiven for not paying attention to the usual suspects of climate denial right now, but they are trying to keep busy anyway.

Last week (January 8), Roy Spencer [Update Jan 13: now deleted] posted a series of Climate Change “flyers” on his personal blog that purported to be organised by David Legates (NOAA, detailed to Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), nominally on leave from (and soon to return to) U. Delaware). Each was a rather garishly colored rehash of standard climate denial talking points, but featuring the OSTP official logo, and claiming to be copyrighted by OSTP (a legal impossibility). Note that if this was an official US Govt. work, they could not copyright them, but if it wasn’t, they could not legally use the OSTP logo to indicate that it was.

Dubious use of an official government logo…

The reaction to this definitive refutation of mainstream science (ha!) was… silence. Spencer’s post was reblogged at WUWT but again, nothing happened [Update Jan 13: Also now deleted]. . Many of the authors of the pieces themselves – many of whom are active on social media – didn’t bother to tweet or post about them. Odd.

The whole thing seems to be Legates trying to get a pet project out into the world before the new administration comes in, but without bothering with all that messy peer-review, official permission, proper channels or, you know, actual science. Almost certainly this is also a violation of the Data Quality Act, something Patrick Michaels (one of the flyer authors) was quite exercised about in his effort. Consistency is also apparently optional.

Anyway, a couple of days ago (Jan 10), they were also posted on Willie Soon’s new website where they were noticed on twitter, and today there have been some media eyebrows raised.

Is there a there there?

The flyers themselves are remarkably thin on valid argumentation. Will Happer’s discussion of Radiative Transfer is mostly textbook stuff except for the last paragraph where he simply asserts that a radiative forcing of 3 W/m2 can’t possibly matter. That’s kind of the key issue, which he totally elides.

Christopher Essex purports to discuss climate models, without ever showing anything from a climate model. He seems to be arguing against some Aristotelian concept of climate models that never has to be bothered with actually looking at the real world (for instance). Weird, and totally pointless.

Spencer makes the remarkable assertion that climate has changed for natural reasons in the past (I’m shocked, shocked!), and ignores how attribution actually works (I’m not at all shocked).

The Connollys and Willie Soon’s flyer purports to talk about sun-climate connections, but they spend most of their effort talking about Milankovitch forcing before pivoting to imagining a universe where the temperatures have not in fact been steadily climbing but where they could conceivably have a higher correlation to out-of-date and unsupported reconstructions of solar activity. In so doing, they even have the chutzpah to cite a paper of mine. Meh.

Etc. If there is a demand in the comments, I could expand on the others, but for now, I think you get the idea.

Why should anyone care?

Great question! I don’t think anyone should. But this whole effort is emblematic of how far the climate question has moved. With a new US administration poised to act on climate across a whole series of fronts, this feeble throwback (were they released on a Thursday?), serves to underline how out-of-touch these old school deniers and their talking points really are. This is perhaps the last weak ‘hurrah’ of a bankrupt cause.

Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Update (4pm, Jan 12): that was quick:

46 Responses to “Flyer tipping”

  1. 1

    > The Connollys and

    No relation, I’d like to emphasise.

    And since I’m here… what’s weird is how late this is; which is to say, how incompetent. Although the Trump administration being incompetent is hardly news. If they wanted to take their denial seriously, they’d have done this four years ago and at least then have them extant for that long; now, they’ll be revoked in a few weeks and it will all be an utter waste of time.

    [Response: Exactly. – gavin]

  2. 2
  3. 3

    Yes, it’s clear that people will leave all sorts of junk out there, not because they want to get rid of it — like dumping an old refrigerator in the woods — but because they want to create fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) in the community of ideas. Unfortunately, this has the effect of poisoning the atmosphere for truly novel ideas in climate science that should be considered.

    It really should be no more difficult for you to debunk a serious and earnestly contributed idea as having to wade through the FUD. Note how in the discussion to my own idea, the NOAA reviewer essentially says he has “wasted his time”.

    https://esd.copernicus.org/preprints/esd-2020-74/

    He doesn’t realize that his fellow NOAA scientists have equally novel ideas that they are throwing out there, e.g. http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/2016/01/earth-sun-distance-and-chandler-wobble.html

    Same goes for NASA scientists who give up in their quest for funding on these angles, see https://www.moonclimate.org/

    All of these get lost in the noise of climate change clutter.

  4. 4
    Susan Anderson says:

    What is bad is that there has been a crescendo of disinformation and violence (I use the word intentionally) done to the truth. I like the fly tip metaphor. David Legates, Ryan Maue, and the rest of this dangerous sorry crew, are doing all the harm they can: to maul a metaphor, rotting hay while clouds obscure sunshine.

    I disagree that it doesn’t matter. For the credulous, these are all they need. “Raising media eyebrows” does not undo the harm.

    For a person seeking knowledge, the “official” look of this means it will help add to the body of ignorance and lies that hold sway at a time when we are approaching a crisis point.

    For comparison, we’ve been tiptoeing around the potential for violence we can all metastasizing into real danger. I’m afraid tiptoeing around dangerous potentials is no longer safe. Sad but true.

  5. 5
    John Hartz says:

    If anyone needs more detailed information to rebute one of the papers, or parts thereof, go to SkepticalScience.com and enter key words and/or the author’s name into the Search box.

    https://skepticalscience.com/

  6. 6
    John Hartz says:

    Gavin et al,

    I am posting a link to this article on the Facebook page of Skeptical Science. It will go live at 3:00 PM ET.

    https://www.facebook.com/SkepticalScience

  7. 7
    John Hartz says:

    Gavin et al,

    Google Chrome is telling me that your website is not secure.

    [Response: It doesn’t use https. We should fix that… – gavin]

  8. 8
    Susan Anderson says:

    Let justice roll down … Maue and Legates have been fired!

    https://twitter.com/afreedma/status/1349096463851266050

    [Response: Ha. Just from OSTP though… but still, nice to see. I’ve updated the post. – gavin]

  9. 9
    Joseph O’Sullivan says:

    Legates broadcasting is science misinformation and expressly or by implication says it’s an official government position? He did that in Delaware back in 2007, this is not surprising. We should take a page from paleoclimatology and apply it to contrarians. What they are doing now might not be the same as they did in the past, but we can get a pretty good idea about their present by examining their past.

  10. 10
    Mal Adapted says:

    Susan Anderson:

    Let justice roll down … Maue and Legates have been fired!

    Preemptive reply to reflexive #butFreeSpeech screeches: The First Amendment to the US Constitution does not guarantee science deniers a job on the public payroll. I’m happy about that!

  11. 11
    Russell Seitz says:

    Here’s Spencer’s attempt at a workaround for the You’re Fired problem

    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2021/01/quack-denounces-open-season-on-lame.html

  12. 12
    Western Hiker says:

    “We believe Earth and its ecosystems – created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence – are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting…. “

    Signatories include Spencer, Legates, Neil Frank, D’Aleo and Christopher Monckton.

    https://cornwallalliance.org/2014/09/original-signers-of-protect-the-poor-ten-reasons-to-oppose-harmful-climate-change-policies/

    How many others are like-minded but prefer to keep it to themselves?

  13. 13
    Jeff Cope says:

    I’m in favor of exploring the rest in detail; in the end it’s the only way to defeat denial and the destruction of truth. But please get someone to proofread. Maybe it’s stress or COVID constraints, maybe it’s twittering that’s caused everyone to be careless but I’ve noticed a huge increase in typos recently.

    “didn’t bothered to ”

    “seems to arguing against”

    “Aristolean”

    [Response: Thanks! – gavin]

  14. 14
    Ray Ladbury says:

    For all of you who looked at the denialists making the same arguments that have just been shredded all over again and wondered, “Are these guys really that stupid?” Well, now we have a definitive answer.

  15. 15
  16. 16
    John Hartz says:

    Another media eyebrow raised..

    “A Late Burst of Climate Denial Extends the Era of Trump Disinformation” by Lisa Friedman & Christopher Flavelle, Climate, New York Times, Jan 12, 2021

    https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/12/climate/trump-disinformation-climate-change.html

  17. 17
    Killian says:

    Why should anyone care?

    Great question! I don’t think anyone should. But this whole effort is emblematic of how far the climate question has moved. With a new US administration poised to act on climate across a whole series of fronts, this feeble throwback (were they released on a Thursday?), serves to underline how out-of-touch these old school deniers and their talking points really are. This is perhaps the last weak ‘hurrah’ of a bankrupt cause.

    Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    I hope this site would take that view seriously and finally end the massive amount of posting wasted in denial and denialists. We have been past the point of diminishing returns on fighting denialism for a long time now.

  18. 18
    Solar Jim says:

    Note that large environmental groups are gearing up for bi-weekly reporting on the increase of climate denialism, as described at eenews.net in “Greens track deniers . . .”

    Also, please do provide RealClimate better security, not to mention that better management of repetitive trolling would be appreciated. Thanks.

  19. 19
    John Williams says:

    Nice post, but why say “elides” when you could say “ignores” or “omits?” It seems to me that “to elide” in a fairly new word that we can do perfectly well without, since it seems mostly to signal that the writer knows a word that ordinary people don’t/

  20. 20
    Mal Adapted says:

    John Williams:

    Nice post, but why say “elides” when you could say “ignores” or “omits?” It seems to me that “to elide” in a fairly new word that we can do perfectly well without, since it seems mostly to signal that the writer knows a word that ordinary people don’t/

    I beg to differ, there’s nothing wrong with “elide”. I’m an ordinary person, and I know what it means in context. Dr. Schmidt’s vocabulary is rich, and I hardly expect him to dumb it down for less literate readers, who aren’t ordinary on RC. I, for one, wouldn’t read his posts if he did!

  21. 21
    Killian says:

    Re #19: It seems to me that “to elide” in a fairly new word that we can do perfectly well without

    Not so much…

    First Known Use of elide

    1540, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

  22. 22
    Mr. Know It All says:

    17 – Killian
    ” We have been past the point of diminishing returns on fighting denialism for a long time now.”

    Exactly right! Time for believers to belly up to the bar and put their money where their mouths are. Starting Monday, no more use of FFs. Put your cars up for sale. Time to start walking the talk! This will be fun to watch!

    19 – John Williams
    I had never seen the word before, or else I forgot it, so I looked it up – it appears to be used correctly. At first I thought he meant to write eludes.

  23. 23
    Simon C says:

    A quick plug for the relevant (to this discussion) Cambridge University podcast “Is climate change actually being taken seriously?” Mind over chatter podcast, https://mind-over-chatter.captivate.fm/ The first 40 plus minutes in particular feature an interesting discussion of the cultural absorbtion of the significance of climate change via various narratives, with Prof Martin Rees making succinct and insightful contributions on the history of climate science.

  24. 24
    Mal Adapted says:

    Mr. Ironically Anosognosic Typist:

    At first I thought he meant to write eludes.

    Snort! Must…reply…derisively…urk: Good luck asking Gavin to dumb his vocabulary down for you!

    IAT:

    Starting Monday, no more use of FFs. Put your cars up for sale. Time to start walking the talk! This will be fun to watch!

    And you’re still denying the tragedy of the commons, I see. Are you having fun yet?

    Jeez, you’re a freakin’ tarbaby (def. 1)!

  25. 25

    The word “elide” is a long-known pretension indicator. Ever since UseNET started, if you wrote deleted instead of elided to indicate a post was deleted, then you weren’t cognoscenti. FYI, at one time the highest priced PC’s had an elide key instead of a delete key.

  26. 26
    Piotr says:

    KIA (22) “ Time for believers to belly up to the bar and put their money where their mouths are. Starting Monday, no more use of FFs. Put your cars up for sale. Time to start walking the talk! This will be fun to watch!

    Aaa, the climate change denier cliche No 89 (?): either you on Monday reduce your FF to 0, or you a hypocrite, and I can destroy your grandchildren future as much as my “ Me now! and Screw others and future generations!” mentality desires.

    And the answer to this “All or nothing” fallacy is that the perfect is the enemy of the good – if I carpool, I and the other guy reduced our transportation emissions by 50% EACH. You are still a 0. So which of us three has put his foot where his mouth is?

    And the more full of themselves they are – the bigger the egg on their face when their attempt at sarcasm backfires.

  27. 27
    Russell Seitz says:

    The risk of the Oval Office convening its Red Elide Key Team has led to a final revision of the strip:

    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2021/01/the-pardoners-tale.html

  28. 28

    KIA 22: Time for believers to belly up to the bar and put their money where their mouths are. Starting Monday, no more use of FFs. Put your cars up for sale. Time to start walking the talk!

    BPL: Read and learn:

    https://owl.excelsior.edu/argument-and-critical-thinking/logical-fallacies/logical-fallacies-straw-man/#:~:text=A%20straw%20man%20fallacy%20occurs,the%20first%20person%20is%20making.

  29. 29

    PP 25: The word “elide” is a long-known pretension indicator.

    BPL: It is a useful term in linguistics, where elision refers to the loss of an intervening phoneme in two words pronounced together.

  30. 30

    #29, BPL–

    “…a useful term in linguistics…”

    Also in music, where “elide” can be (and is) used to describe cadence structure.

  31. 31
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Mr. KIA @22 is, like most glibertarians, too stupid to realize that we live in a complex global society, and that the only way to stop using fossil fuels is to go Unibomber and live off the grid. Conversely, the only way to really make a dent in global fossil fuel consumption is to change the global energy economy. It really is all or nothing.

  32. 32
    jgnfld says:

    @ “Starting Monday, no more use of FFs. Put your cars up for sale. Time to start walking the talk! This will be fun to watch!”

    Aaah…the old “If you cannot do everything at once not only should we do nothing at all, we should go ever further astray.”

    Makes sense to a certain mind. Just not to a rational one.

  33. 33
    Mal Adapted says:

    Barton Paul Levenson:

    PP 25: The word “elide” is a long-known pretension indicator.

    BPL: It is a useful term in linguistics, where elision refers to the loss of an intervening phoneme in two words pronounced together.

    It’s also useful in analyzing the machinations of fossil-carbon producers and investors, e.g. the Serengeti Strategy to discredit Mike Mann and his hockey-stick-shaped temperature curve following 2009’s Climategate debacle. See this illuminating 2015 discussion* at Greg Laden‘s place: Judith Curry’s role in originating the scurrilous “Mike’s trick to hide the decline” denialist meme is especially damning, IMHO. Strategic elision, i.e. quote mining, is widely deployed in the disinformation campaign of fossil-fuel capitalists. As always, consider the source and follow the money.

    * In which I’m cordially corrected by John Mashey, no less; and in which one “John Swallow” posts no fewer than 54 times. Laden later blocked him, for being a boring loon.

  34. 34

    LOL, again the key word is pretension

    “BPL: It is a useful term in linguistics, where elision refers to the loss of an intervening phoneme in two words pronounced together.”

    As is typical, the rhetoric of gaming is what attracts most commenters, not the scientific content.

  35. 35

    PP 34: LOL, again the key word is pretension

    BPL: Then why don’t you stop being a pretentious ass? No one appointed you the guardian of the English language.

  36. 36
    Steven Sullivan says:

    ‘Elision’ and ‘elide’ aren’t peculiar or pretentious words to literate people.

  37. 37
    Piotr says:

    Paul Pukite (25): “The word “elide” is a long-known pretension indicator.”

    Steven Sullivan (36) “‘Elision’ and ‘elide’ aren’t peculiar or pretentious words to literate people”

    Hear, hear!

    There once was a man from Nantucket
    Who kept his elides in a bucket.
    But his old reviewee, X. Chen,
    traded them for a hockey stick with Mann
    And as for the bucket, Paul Pukite!

  38. 38

    Piotr said: “And as for the bucket, Paul Pukite!”

    LOL, it doesn’t even rhyme.

  39. 39
    Ken Fabian says:

    No-one should have to go stone age to have the right to call on their governments to act in a coordinated manner to address a problem they already know is real and very serious. Individual actions cannot fix the problem, only economy and society wide actions; I will use electricity (mostly solar btw) to continue being a functional member of society, including to send emails calling for stronger climate policies to my elected representatives.

    I think what KIA really means is he thinks making CO2 pollution is fully justifiable by the simple expedient of choosing to reject climate science and/or legal principles of responsibility and accountability (that includes those in positions of trust and responsibility giving proper consideration to the best available expert advice warning of likely harms). I happen to disagree.

    Given the problem can be helped but cannot be solved by the personal lifestyle choices of only those who care it is entirely reasonable to call for economy wide change to the way energy is made – so everyone’s lifestyle choices are low emissions. When energy is zero emissions then even extravagantly wasteful lifestyles will be zero emissions.

  40. 40
    Piotr says:

    Paul Pukite (25): “ The word “elide” is a long-known pretension indicator.

    Piotr(37): Hear, hear!
    There once was a man from Nantucket
    Who kept his elides in a bucket.
    But his old reviewee, X. Chen,
    traded them for a hockey stick with Mann
    And as for the bucket, Paul Pukite!”

    Paul Pukite (38) “ LOL, it doesn’t even rhyme

    Thanks for noticing! The poor rhymes (“Nantucket” – “Paul Pukite!”) was kind’a point here – the original limerick was low-brow, precisely because of its inexact puns (its humor rested on: “Nantucket” sounding like “Nan took it”).

    So if a low-brow limerick used “elide” – this would play with your dressing down Gavin for using a word that ONLY by the pretentious (i.e. pretending to be high-brow)use (PP: “ a long-known pretension indicator“).

    Of course, if with your obviously fine ear for other people’s language, you knew all these and replied to me on my terms, i.e. with the pretend low-brow comment: “ LOL, it doesn’t even rhyme“, then hats off to you – I apologize for explaining what I hoped people would pick on themselves. Explaining jokes – not fun for either party …

    Piotr

    P.S. Another reason for using your name, other than linking it to your criticism of Gavin, was that if I said your name really really fast, it sounded almost like “Paul Pocketed it!”.
    And it was the fate of the bucket that preoccupied the original limericks!
    – “And as for the bucket, Nantucket.”
    – “And as for the bucket, Pawtucket.”
    – “And as for the bucket, Paul Pukite!”

  41. 41
    Al Bundy says:

    Piotr: And the answer to this “All or nothing” fallacy is that the perfect is the enemy of the good

    AB: I don’t agree. The issue is about opportunity provided by society. You see, if you were to take most any person into the wilderness it is unlikely that they would end up building any contraption that would allow said person to travel at any productive speed over relatively but not actually level ground. The POINT is that society as a whole chooses what is available to the individual at reasonable cost (yep, you can buy boutique at 10 or 100 times retail but it would take an MrKia to use such a thing as an argument).

    So, you and I CAN’T buy efficient stuff at decent prices because efficient stuff is only offered “boutique”. But if society decided that what is now boutique is “required by either law or market forces (as would be the case with a carbon tax) THEN you’d be able to do the right thing without unilaterally screwing yourself and only yourself

  42. 42
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Although I agree that when in doubt, the more familiar Anglo-Saxon/Germanic work may be preferable to the one with French/Latinate roots, after 4 years of a President with a 3rd grade vocabulary, I am ready to say

    Viva, the multisyllabic!

  43. 43
    Russell Seitz says:

    40
    Piotr, please keep your hockey stick on the ice.

    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2021/01/hockey-stick-armed-skeptics-disrupt.html

  44. 44
    Piotr says:

    Re: Al Bundy (41) “I don’t agree. […] I CAN’T buy efficient stuff at decent prices”

    I am not sure how this falsifies my, or validates KIA’s, arguments?

    ==================
    Piotr(41): “[commenting on Kia(22)] Aaa, the climate change denier cliche No 89 (?): either you on Monday reduce your FF to 0, or you a hypocrite, and I can destroy your grandchildren future as much as my “ Me now! and Screw others and future generations!” mentality desires.
    And the answer to this “All or nothing” fallacy is that the perfect is the enemy of the good- if I carpool, I and the other guy reduced our transportation emissions by 50% EACH. You are still a 0.
    ================================

  45. 45
    Piotr says:

    Russell Seitz (24) “Piotr, please keep your hockey stick on the ice.
    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2021/01/hockey-stick-armed-skeptics-disrupt.html

    I wonder if it would make Judith Curry et al. warm up to hockey sticks …
    The patriots rely on them for scientific support of their views on climate change, the same way they rely on the brave America’s Frontline Doctors in their views on COVID:
    https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/535202-head-of-fringe-medical-group-who-met-with-pence-arrested-in-connection-with

  46. 46
    Shelama says:

    Garbage and rehash, perhaps, but with a Republican House in 2022, and a Republican Senate and White House again in 2024, it will all return. Again.

    Because that’s what ‘Murica has become.

    Eventually pretty much everybody will finally agree that AGW is real, and admit that the science and the models were good all along. But we’re nowhere close to that yet. Some people are still getting over the shock that Jesus didn’t come back yet, but his coming is still imminent, anyway, along with the return of Trump. Climate is nowhere in their imagination except as an ungodly and un-Biblical and liberal socialist or communist hoax.

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