Category Archives: atmosphere

Scientists, political activism and the scientific ethos

The recent decision of the Hamilton City Council to stop fluoridating its water supply caused a bit of discussion among New Zealand scientists. Discussion of the ethical and practical questions related to scientist involvement in political activism.

The Hamilton City council had been exposed to large numbers of submissions from anti-fluoridation activists. Most of them misrepresented the science and gave misleading, often incorrect, information. Scientists could have corrected these mistakes and distortions, but the job was left to a few representatives of the District Health Board and the Ministry of Health.

Many scientist think, as do others in the community, that they must play a greater role countering distorted information and pseudo-science. But the scientific ethos of objectivity, evidence-based debate and peer review conflicts with the political nature of such activism.

It’s a problem that scientists, especially younger scientists, will have to face increasingly in the future. Quite a few of us have solved the dilemma for ourselves by blogging – a sort of half way point between ivory tower science and political activism.

But here is something to think about. Climatologist James Hansen has thought about this issue throughout his life. Sometimes he has opted for pure science, these days he is opting for pure activism. Here’s an excellent video of one of his talks from February 2012 explaining his motivations and history on this issue. It’s also a simple and clear explanation of the climate change problems we are facing now and in the future.

James Hansen: Why I must speak out about climate change 

Hansen has also written about these issues in his book   Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity. Have a look at  Global climate – and your grandchildren for my review of the book.

See also: Fluoridation

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A New Zealand climate change pseudosceptic apologises!

Credit where credit is due, and I admit I never thought I would say this about local climate pseudosceptic Richard Treadgold – but “good on you mate.”

richard1

Richard Treadgold, New Zealand climate pseudosceptic and blogger

I have often got into heated debate with this guy – my main concern being his willingness to effectively accuse honest climate scientists, include New Zealand scientists, of scientific fraud. He also has a bad habit of misrepresenting climate science and climate scientists on his blog Climate Conversation Group. I have often raised with him his moral obligation to apologise for such misrepresentation and accusations (see Apologies would be nice).

Without result. But now he has apologised for recently misrepresenting local climate scientist Dr James Renwick (see Hide sticks it to Renwick Renowden a scaring warmist,  and  Renwick blames drought on man-made global warming, which has been now changed to Renwick doesn’t blame AGW for drought).

In his post today, Climate porkies from TV One, Richard actually says (and we have to get this on record):

“I apologise to Dr Renwick for misquoting him so badly — that is, over a statement so disastrously incorrect.”

So, good on you, Richard.

This whole incident started with Richards thoughtless endorsement (Hide sticks it to Renwick) of a snakey NBR article by failed NZ ultra-conservative politician Rodney Hide (see Faith, not facts, drives global warming) and I won’t rehash the time line here (read my posts “Incontrovertible” is it, Rodney?,  Confusion and distortion – has global warming stopped?   and  Pseudosceptics are at it again – misrepresenting and attacking climate scientists for details).

Richard admits he wrote his misleading posts “after reading the transcript and studying the video,” but the final blow for him seems to be Renwick’s email which “politely confirmed that he never blamed the drought on global warming: “This is just not so.””

I believe the transcript and video were extremely clear and am surprised Richard’s apology only came after personal confirmation from Renwick  (see transcript at Lack of govt leadership on climate change – Renwick, and video of interview at Q+A: Corin Dann interviews Dr James Renwick).

Mind you, some other climate pseudosceptics are more resistant than Richard. On of the commenters on Richards blog responded to Renwick’s confirmation by accusing him of “splitting hairs.” And one faithful climate change denier on twitter I debated  refused to take the video and transcript as evidence – instead claiming that the offending claim had been made while the camera wasn’t running, or had been edited out. Poor soul.

I am also aware that local climate change pseudosceptics will have not qualms twisting Renwick’s confirmation into another misrepresentation. Some of the commenters on Richard’s blog already seem to be doing so. Renwick’s confirmation – that he never declared global warming had directly caused our recent extreme drought and that there was no other explanation –  to mean he claims that global warming will play no role in future extreme weather events. Richard himslef comments:

“. . it’s useful to have his firm statement on record that weather events are not caused by global warming. Everyone and his dog has been looking around at this warm record or that storm and saying that’s global warming, we’re all doomed. It will be handy to slap them with Renwick’s authoritative statement.”

Let’s be clear, the current scientific thought is that while one can never prove a direct link to specific events, global warming will probably increase the frequency of such extreme weather events in the future. Renwick made this clear in the interview – read the transcript Richard.

Meanwhile, I hope Treagold’s ethical chickens really have come home to roost for good – there are still a few apologies outstanding. For example his egregious  claim that NIWA scientists had manipulated New Zealand temperature data to create evidence for warming (see  his infamous article “Are we getting warmer yet?” and my posts New Zealand’s denier-gate and Painted into a corner?).

However, let’s celebrate this rather rare event – a scientists getting an apology foir their misrepresentation.

There’s a few other New Zealand bloggers who should take note and start thinking about their own ethical obligations.

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Confusion and distortion – has global warming stopped?

There’s a mantra circulating at the moment claiming that global warming “stopped 17 years ago.” It is of course being pushed by the pseudosceptics in the climate denial echo chamber. However, even people who should know better have been heard to repeat something like that.

Rodney Hide, a former New Zealand ultra conservative politician has assured us “The world stopped getting warmer 17 years ago. That’s incontrovertible” (see my post “Incontrovertible” is it, Rodney? for my take on that). And one of the commenters on my blog at  SciBlog seems willing to treat Rodney’s assurance as a simple fact. Of course the pseudosceptics proudly and loudly reassert similar claims.

But many of those repeating this mantra are attributing the claim to authoritative sources, like the the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) and leading climate scientists and institutions.

So what’s the truth. Has global warming “stopped?” Are climate scientists saying it has stopped?”

Short answer is actually no. Slightly longer answer is along the lines that the current rate of global temperature increase seems to have slowed, global temperatures may even have plateaued, but that doesn’t support a claim that global warming has “stopped!” Or stopped 17 years ago.

IPCC Chairman misrepresented

Firstly – lets deal with the use of Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the IPPC, as a source for this mantra. This appears to go back to a report in the Australian which claimed he  “acknowledged a 17-year pause in global temperature rises.”

Trouble is, there is no record to back up the claim and the IPCC communications office said it does not accurately represent Pachauri’s thoughts on the subject.

The only statement the Australian article actually attributed to Pachauri on this subject is that “global average temperatures had plateaued at record levels and that the halt did not disprove global warming.” And that is paraphrasing Pachauri and not quoting him directly.

As the blog Skeptical Science pointed out (see Did Murdoch’s The Australian Misrepresent IPCC Chair Pachauri on Global Warming?) if he “had he said that global surface air  temperatures have plateaued and that this doesn’t disprove global warming, he would be 100% correct.” And that is what a number of well-known climate scientists also have said. Usually no mention of 17 years and certainly no claim that global warming had “stopped” 17 years ago.

To help clarify I repeat below two figures from my recent post “Incontrovertible” is it, Rodney? These show global air temperatures for the last 17 years and for the long-term – since 1880.

17-years

Global temperature anomalies for 1996-2012 (Average annual temperature data from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Sciences),

Line plot of global mean land-ocean temperature index, 1880 to present, with the base period 1951-1980. The dotted black line is the annual mean and the solid red line is the five-year mean. The green bars show uncertainty estimates. [This is an update of Fig. 1A in Hansen et al. (2006).]

As I said about the first figure in my recent post:

“There’s a lot of noise so all we can say from that data is the warming rate is in the range of  -0.02 and 0.17 °C/decade (95% confidence level). That’s the problem with such short time periods.”

Putting short-term trends in context of long-term record

The data in the first figure must be put into the context of the longer term changes. And as the 2nd figure shows a number of short periods over the longer term which had a similar pattern to that in the first figure. It would be silly, especially with hindsight, to claim that global warming “stopped” in 1990, or 1985, or 1975, and so on. Yet this is what some people are doing.

It’s easy to find short time periods where the global temperature trend is not significantly different to zero – that’s the nature of a record with this sort of variability or noise. A record which also results from a number of factors and is therefore not a simple correlation with one cause.

So it is silly to cherry pick a short period and then make an absolute claim (global warming has stopped) – and especially to claim that somehow something happened in 1975 so that “global warming stopped 17 years ago. Think about it. Take that first figure a just select the last 10 years. The trend will also not be significantly different to zero – are we then going to claim something happened in 2002 to “stop” global warming?

No, of course not. The only reason 17 years is mentioned is that one can’t go back further than that without the trend being significantly different from zero. It’s a cherry-picked date – cherry picked to produce a non-significant trend.

Have IPCC models been disproved

Another common claim is that the very recent plateau, or decrease in the rate of global warming proves the scientific climate models are wrong.  More specifically I have often heard the claim that since this plateau has occurred while atmospheric CO2 levels continue to increase this proves that CO2 is not driving global warming. Even the claim that the plateau has somehow shown the scientific understanding of the fundamental properties of greenhouse gases is wrong.

The naivety of the last claim is to think that climate scientists  consider CO2 to be the only factor influencing the climate – they just don’t. Consequently one should not expect to see a simple correlation between global temperature and atmospheric CO2. Any attempt to understand or model climate change must include many more inputs than CO2.

As for models in general here is a couple of factors:

  1. All models are inaccurate. That’s just the nature of the attempt to understand complex systems – we can’t expect to get things perfect. And when anomalies occur this may actually help us improve the models by incorporating other factors or more realistic physical parameters. Despite this models have important uses as long as we understand their limitations.
  2. Models require inputs – inputs which may change, often unpredictably, over time. Therefore it is silly to expect model projections to always be correct or accurate further down the track.

For example, there could be weather conditions increasing heat inputs into the deep ocean which could not have been incorporated several years ago. Or there could have been an increase of particulates from increased coal use which had not been predicted. Political changes can produce economic changes which influence inputs. These are some of the ideas that have been suggested to help explain the current plateau or reduced rate of global temperature increase.

So the real test of the model is not to use inputs based on predictions made several years before, but to update inputs so that the model more correctly represents current situations.

But, more basically, it’s important to recognise that the global climate is complex. Simple mechanisms are not going to explain the details in the global temperature record. So be careful of people who advance simple explanations to discredit the science.

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A global warming hoax meme is born – in New Zealand too!

I have said it before – these militant climate change denial/contrarian/pseudosceptics do live in a different world – or at least a different hemisphere (see Australia’s “New Normal?” and Climate contrarians/deniers are cherry picking again). But here I want to illustrate their behaviour in their denial internet echo chamber where they pass on every scrap of information supporting their conspiracy theories of the great “global warming hoax.”

The easy copy and paste key commands on computers has a lot to answer for.

Consider this latest bit of silliness at Richard Treadgold’s local blog – Climate Conversation Group. Richard Cumming, who Treadgold, or at least Richard Cumming himself, considers a very bright scientific investigator, is continually pasting links to scientific papers and other blogs in the echo chamber. Extensive quotes of abstracts and analysis.

His posting frequency is so high I sometimes think Richard Treadgold’s claim the blog receives more than 1,400,000 visits a year may be correct.*

Today he posted a link purportedly to a new paper in Nature Climate Change: Atmospheric verification of anthropogenic CO2 emission trends by Roger J. Francey et al. It’s behind a pay wall so those without institutional access will have to make do with the abstract.

But see how Cumming presents this paper (in a comment on the ironically titled post by Treadgold “ IPCC created and controlled by activists). He implies an abstract completely different to the real abstract (see table below).

Abstract as implied by Richard Cumming at Climate Conversation Group blog Actual abstract at Nature Climate Change, 3, 520–524, (2013)
New paper demonstrates temperature drives CO2 levels, not man-made CO2. A recent paper published in Nature Climate Change finds a disconnect between man-made CO2 and atmospheric levels of CO2, demonstrating that despite a sharp 25% increase in man-made CO2 emissions since 2003, the growth rate in atmospheric CO2 has slowed sharply since 2002/2003. The data shows that while the growth rate of man-made emissions was relatively stable from 1990-2003, the growth rate of atmospheric CO2 surged up to the record El Nino of 1997-1998. Conversely, growth in man-made emissions surged ~25% from 2003-2011, but growth in atmospheric CO2 has flatlined since 1999 along with global temperatures. The data demonstrates temperature drives CO2 levels due to ocean outgassing, man-made CO2 does not drive temperature, and that man is not the primary cause of the rise in CO2 levels. International efforts to limit global warming and ocean acidification aim to slow the growth of atmospheric CO2, guided primarily by national and industry estimates of production and consumption of fossil fuels. Atmospheric verification of emissions is vital but present global inversion methods are inadequate for this purpose. We demonstrate a clear response in atmospheric CO2 coinciding with a sharp 2010 increase in Asian emissions but show persisting slowing mean CO2 growth from 2002/03. Growth and inter-hemispheric concentration difference during the onset and recovery of the Global Financial Crisis support a previous speculation that the reported 2000–2008 emissions surge is an artefact, most simply explained by a cumulative underestimation (~ 9 Pg C) of 1994–2007 emissions; in this case, post-2000 emissions would track mid-range of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emission scenarios. An alternative explanation requires changes in the northern terrestrial land sink that offset anthropogenic emission changes. We suggest atmospheric methods to help resolve this ambiguity.

Complete misrepresentation, or what!

Actually his implied abstract is just a blog post he has copied and pasted straight from The Hocky Shtick - a companion blog in the denial echo chamber.

A humourous aside though Richard Treadgold lapped up this brilliant bit of research copy and past by Cumming. He commented:

“A gamebreaker! The paper shows quite a different curve from the Mauna Loa graph so they must have used different data ;. . . . .this looks like dynamite.”

Poor soul. Treadgold doesn’t understand that this new paper plots atmospheric CO2 flux – the rate of change of C – not the actual levels themselves as in the Mauna Loa graph (see below). Of course the curves will be different you fool!

So another climate change denial meme has been born – actually a double barreled one thanks to Treadgold’s little burst of joy:

  1.  Francey’s paper “demonstrates temperature drives CO2 levels, not man-made CO2.”
  2. It also proves that the classic plot for atmospheric CO2 levels at the Mauna Loa Observatory may be a hoax!

co2_data_mlo

Trouble is – both memes are completely wrong.

Let’s see if they have legs though. Which  will be the next blog in the echo chamber to pass the meme along?

As Richard Cumming commented somewhere else “The internet will do the rest.”


* We only have his word for that – he has never allowed public access to the statcounter he used to have installed and has recently removed it. He claimed there was something faulty with it because it gave him the wrong results!

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New “Hockey Stick” but same tired old denial

Ian Wishart is on his climate change conspiracy high horse again (see New global warming scandal hits climate science). His fevered imagination has managed to produce a “scandal” out of the publication of a scientific paper. Of course the scandal is based entirely on his climate change denial echo chamber. His denier mates have ripped into this paper. They are obviously very upset by it – more so than normal. It’s worth asking why?

I think the simplest answer lies with the word “Hockey Stick!” This phrase, together with reference to Dr Michael Mann, usually gets them foaming at the mouth. And it’s amazing what rubbish they can spout once so provoked.

This time they are reacting to a new “Hockey Stick” presented in a recent Science paper by Shaun A. Marcott, Jeremy D. Shakun, Peter U. Clark and Alan C. Mix. (see “A Reconstruction of Regional and Global Temperature for the Past 11,300 Years.”) The earlier research had extended back roughly 1,500 years, and suggested that the rapid temperature spike of the past century, believed to be a consequence of human activity, exceeded any warming episode during those years. This new work confirms that result while suggesting the modern warming is unique over a longer period.

The new work compiled the most meticulous reconstruction yet of global temperatures over the past 11,300 years, almost the entire Holocene. They used indicators like the distribution of microscopic, temperature-sensitive ocean creatures to determine past climate. The plots below compare these new results with those found by previous workers

Hockeystick-Marcott_Mann2008

The temperature reconstruction of Marcott 2013 (past 11,000 years) and a collection of reconstructions (past 1800 years) as presented by Mann 2008. (Credit: The two epochs of Marcott and the Wheelchair).

Wishart says the new paper “claimed to have validated the discredited “hockey stick” graph and proven that modern temperatures were the highest in four millennia.” He then goes on to use the authors’ simple acknowledgement that “The 20th century portion of our paleotemperature stack is not statistically robust” to claim their “story is rapidly unravelling” and that this is a “new global warming scandal.”

Bloody hell – is that all it takes to produce a scandal? For a scientist to point out limitations in part of their data (an area already extensively covered by other work)? What does Ian think – that every piece of scientific work must repeat in depth all the previous work? That no existing information can be used?

No of course not. He is just being dishonest. Using anything he can get hold of to weave a story discrediting honest science – and honest scientists. We have seen it all before in the lies he and his climate change denial mates promoted about Dr Michael Mann’s work – the work producing the original “Hockey Stick.”

For example, Wishart’s reference to “the discredited “hockey stick” graph” is a lie he promotes in his book “Con Air” (see  Alarmist con for my review) and is repeated ad nauseum in the climate denial echo chamber. But it is just not true. Far from being discredited this work has been validated again and again. It’s the critics of this work who have been discredited. Been caught lying.

I summarised this several years ago in my article Climate change deniers’ tawdry manipulation of “hockey sticks”. Have a look at that if you want details.

The climate change denial movement worked extremely hard to discredit the work of Michael Mann which produced the original “Hockey Stick.” Mann has described this campaign in his book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines (see The truth about the hockey stick for my review of the book). Their campaign failed. This work has been discredited in one place only – the  biased mind of the committed climate change denier like Ian Wishart.

Meanwhile, if you wish to learn more about the Marcott (2013) paper and their work here are some links:

A Reconstruction of Regional and Global Temperature for the Past 11,300 Years.
Global Temperatures Highest in 4,000 Years
Response by Marcott et al.
Recent Warming Is Still Unprecedented In Speed, Scale And Cause: A Marcott Et Al. FAQ
Fresh Thoughts from Authors of a Paper on 11,300 Years of Global Temperature Changes

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Climate contrarians/deniers are cherry picking again

Cameron Slater at Whale Oil Beef Hooked  is displaying his confusion again. He’s casting doubt on the findings of climate science by reproducing extracts of a MailOnline article about the bad snow storms in the UK (see Global Warming bites Britain in the arse, freezing weather kills thousands of pensioners). He adds his own “profound” comment with:

“The warmists still insist the planet is warming, and they want us to attempt to cool it down. Meanwhile the freezing temperatures have killed an extra 2000 pensioners.

When will the f*ckwits who think climate change making the earth cooler is a good thing start to apologise. History has shown us that civilisation flourishes in warm and ebbs away in the cold. Yet they insist on pushing us down the path of cooling the planet.”

Of course this is just cherry picking on a grand scale. Climate change deniers like Slater (and his mates at the local contrarian/denier blog Climate Conversation Group) seem to spend the New Zealand summer and autumn in the northern hemisphere, intellectually anyway. They continually comment on, and lament, snow storms and freezing pensioners in the UK, Canada or the US, while the rest of us are moaning about the local record droughts and high temperatures.

And they blatantly imagine their comments on regional weather are somehow directly relevant to global trends. Well, they aren’t – and there is plenty of data showing that. Here are recent examples from Arctic News (see Huge patches of warm air over the Arctic).

3
28
33

Have a look at the colour codes. Sure the UK is suffering from lower than normal temperatures (blue/purple) – but other regions suffer from higher than normal temperature (yellow/red).

Naturally Arctic News is concerned about the Arctic. The blog comments:

“Over the past month or so, huge patches with temperature anomalies of over 20 degrees Celsius have been forming over the Arctic.

The three images [above] show such patches stretch out from Svalbard to Novaya Zemlya (top), north of Eastern Siberia (middle) and over West Greenland and Baffin Bay (bottom).”

The comment further:

“Indeed, as the jet stream slows down and becomes more wavier, such patches of warm air can be expected to extend more regularly into the Arctic. The result can be a huge melt of Arctic sea ice, as well as a huge melt of snow cover in Greenland, which also dramatically lowers albedo, as occurred in 2012 and as discussed in the earlier post Greenland is melting at incredible rate.

This spells bad news for the Arctic sea ice, which may well disappear altogether this summer.”

Cameron Slater and his mates are very parochial – but during our summer/autumn months they seem to be living in a completely different hemisphere. (Some commentators suspect they actually live in a different world).

Even so, they still keep their blinkers firmly aligned.

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The silliness of a self-proclaimed “investigative journalist”

Just imagine it. You call on your car mechanic when you have a serious health problem. Or ask your oncologist to service your car.

Who would be so stupid?

Ian Wishart's "investigative journalism"

Well its amazing the lengths some people go to when they are in denial. New Zealand’s self-described leading “investigative journalist,” Ian Wishart, seems to be advocating doing just that with his article NASA rocked by climate change revolt.

NASA rocked by a revolt – my arse!

Ian is referring to the latest little “scandal” occupying the climate denial echo chamber. The letter from 49 retired or former NASA engineers and astronauts asking NASA to refrain from making statements on the findings of their climate scientists.  Skeptical Science points out that the 49 signatories  “include 23 administrators, 8 astronauts, 7 engineers, 5 technicians, and 4 scientists/mathematicians of one sort or another (none of those sorts having the slightest relation to climate science).”

So these guys want the public statements of NASA on climate science to be determined by anyone but the climate scientists! And local climate change deniers are delusional, (or dishonest) enough to describe these signatories as “specialists with intimate knowledge of the nature of atmosphere and space. “

This letters supported by lists of inappropriate non-experts on the subject are a common tactic of climate (evolutionary science, tobacco harm, etc.) deniers. They are not news. And Wishart’s promotion of this one just shows the pathetic levels of his “investigation” skills.

I like this comment made at Think Progress post about this “news:” – NASA Climate ‘Skeptics’ Respond With Science! Just Kidding:

Let’s put the astronauts in this group in a press conference and ask for volunteers from among them to serve as crew members on the maiden flight to Mars onboard a spacecraft designed, engineered, and built by 49 climate scientists.”

Make that retired climate scientists! And perhaps throw in a few self-described “investigative journalists.”

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Climate change controversy in context

I came across this interesting article in Physics Today – Science controversies past and present. Interesting because it puts in context the current public controversy over the science of climate change.

The author, Steve Sherwood, compares this current controversy with  earlier controversies about scientific ideas. Specifically the Copernican theory of heliocentricism and Einstein’s relativity theories. He presents an interesting graphic comparing the controversies for the time taken to get scientific consensus with that for public consensus (click to enlarge).

Timelines for heliocentricism, relativity, and greenhouse warming, aligned by their dates of introduction. Coloured bars indicate the estimated times to consensus among experts and the public. Lightning symbols denote organized opposition from contrarian, religious, or political groups. The sequence of events is similar in all three cases except that relativity attained consensus more rapidly, especially among the public; it had emerged essentially fully formed, whereas the other two underwent refinements for many decades (Source Physics Today - http://www.physicstoday.org/resource/1/phtoad/v64/i10/p39_s1?bypassSSO=1#f3).

So I guess we shouldn’t be surprised at the current kerfuffle. Sherwood points out that “the progression of the global warming idea so far has been quite similar to that of Copernicanism.” But:

“As the evidence sinks in, we can expect a continued, if slow, drift to full acceptance. It took both Copernicanism and greenhouse warming roughly a century to go from initial proposal to broad acceptance by the relevant scientific communities. It remains to be seen how long it will take greenhouse warming to achieve a clear public consensus; one hopes it will not take another century.”

Psychological resistance to new ideas

And this sort of scenario is probably inevitable with ideas that break down existing ways of thinking. “That kind of change can turn people away from reason and toward emotion, especially when the ideas are pressed on them with great force.”

“It is jarring to ponder the scene of a colleague from the 17th century refusing to look into a telescope—a level of aversion to inconvenient facts, admittedly not common, that seems incredible. Yet modern counterparts can perhaps be found in those who vilify the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change without apparently ever having examined its reports, or who repeat claims—such as global warming having stopped in 1998—that can be trivially falsified by looking at the data. “

Sherwood thinks that perhaps we should take this lesson from history and not be so surprised when there is an anti-science backlash.

“A first step toward better public communication of science, and the reason we need it, may lie in recognizing why the backlash happens: the frailty of human reason and supremacy of emotional concerns that we humans all share but do not always acknowledge. “

Do we have time to procrastinate?

Maybe so. But I think the concern this time also derives from the possible consequences of global warming. Consequences that threaten the lives and property of many people throughout the world.  Consequences which can be largely averted if humanity has the political will to act now.

As Sherwood puts it:

“history tells us that in the end, science will probably come out fine. Whether the planet will is another matter.”

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Heartland Insitute gets mail

The US “Think Tank,” The Heartland Institute has been getting some mail since some of its documents revealing plans to undermine climate change science and its teaching were leaked to the media. These documents also details some of the payments being made to climate change denial authors and blogs.

Of course they have cried foul – even claimed one of the leaked documents is not authentic. Then again, denial is hardly new for them – they have been doing it since their days denying the scientific facts showing dangers of tobacco smoking.

Now they have received a letter from some of the climate scientists they have in the past denigrated. these scientists express their condolences, having experienced something similar a few years back, but suggest that perhaps the Institute should learn from its mistakes, change tack, and start to play a more honest and constructive role on the issue of climate change.

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“What, me worry?” – distorting climate change data

Mad

Peter Gleick has a simple useful article in Forbes illustrating various ways that climate change deniers/contrariness cherry pick data to support claims that global warming is not occurring (see “Global Warming Has Stopped”? How to Fool People Using “Cherry-Picked” Climate Data). He is referring to an increasingly common argument that deniers/contrarians are promoting in OpEd columns and opinion pieces in newspapers. We have seen it here too, and the comments at New Zealand’s premium climate change denier blog Climate Conversation Group are full of such claims.

Recently I dealt with that argument as expressed by an old colleague of mine in a letter to the NZ Listener (see Open letter across the barricade). In the “open letter’ I reconstructed my own example of how global temperature data can be cherry picked to promote the “global warming has stopped” myth. But I had in the back of my mid  an animated graph which showed this more clearly.  Now I have found it – and reproduce it below. It’s from Skeptical Science (a mine of information) and is usually referred to as The Escalator.

I think this demonstrates the dishonesty of cherry-picking beautifully.
Mind you, it doesn’t stop motivated deniers and bloggers picking up these dishonest articles and promoting them to similarly motivated reader. Have a look at Local Whale Oil’s No Need to Panic About Global Warming.”
A classic example of the activity that goes on in the climate change denier echo chamber.