Oreskes Chronicles Birth of Climate Change Denial

Mon, 2008-09-08 14:56Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Oreskes Chronicles Birth of Climate Change Denial

Naomi Oreskes, the science historian whose landmark article 2004 Science article, finally put the lie as to whether there was a legitimate climate change “debate,” has written a new piece for the TimesOnline, describing on of the best early warnings the U.S. received about global warming, and revealing the efforts of scientist-turned-lobbyist Bill Nierenberg in beginning to sow confusion.

As Oreskes reports, the U.S. government had solid information on the likelihood (and potential severity) of climate change in 1979 - delivered by a panel of some of the most impressive scientists in the land. But In 1980, then-President Ronald Reagan found the truth inconvenient. If the world community started worrying about climate change, Reagan figured everyone would start blaming America (because America was making the biggest contribution). Reagen tapped Nierenberg for an alternative report, and the big lie began.  

Comments

Naomi is both a geoscientist & science historian, as well as, lately, promoted to a Provost job at UCSD. The dumb attacks on her for the 2004 paper caused her to get interested in the whole denialism industry, which I suspect some people already regret causing. She’s writing a very interesting book on the topic, so this article, and the following, are various pieces of early chapters:

http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/index.php/csw/details/oreskes_lecture/,
The American Denial of Global Warming, of which the second half covers this in more detail. This is the early denial-from-ideology side, recorded at Scripps.

And the more recent talk is:

http://smartenergyshow.com/node/67 ,
You CAN Argue with the Facts.

which is a denial-from-economics (Western Fuels coal) example. Their video must be seen, especially when saying plants are starved for CO2, and showing the Sahara going green.

Hi John:

I’m aware that you’re helping Dr. Oreske by reviewing the book. Any idea when it will be published?

2009.

http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/index.php/csw/details/oreskes_lecture/ ???

Small world! I attended that very lecture (given last December at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography).

Dr. Oreskes came across as exceptionally well informed and more than willing to tear a few new ones should that be necessary.

I’d pay money to some of the deniers who have been trash-talking Oreskes try to take her on in person – there wouldn’t be any big pieces left after she got through with them.

I, for one, am very glad that Dr. Oreskes is on *our* side.

She’s brilliant!

Fern Mackenzie

Oreskes research was based on an arbitrary interpretation of abstracts obtained via a google search. Gee, how accurate is that? Any gallup poller would tell you it is garbage. There is only one way to accurately determine the views of the science community and that is to conduct statistically robust surveys of their attitudes. This can only be done by surveying the researchers themselves and not some rubbish google search and fuzzy interpretation of their abstracts.

Correction. Not a google search but a search of the ISI database. But with her own arbitrary determination of the level of consensus.

If Oreskes’ study is so flawed, then why haven’t you clowns been able to refute it in the nearly *four years* since it was published???

The only thing you’ve done since 2004 when Oreskes’ article was published is pollute internet message-boards like this one with your pigeon droppings.

So why don’t you provide us with a list of all the research & papers that contradict her findings?

We’re waiting …

Fern Mackenzie

Crickets still chirping….

Oreskes is a bit nutty and getting more paranoid all the time. There remains a legitimate debate on climate change that warmists have failed to suppress.

“Reagen tapped Nierenberg for an alternative report, and the big lie began.”

What lie? Have you ever gotten a second doctor’s opinion? That is a normal and natural human thing to do. Accusing one of lieing without evidence is not an honorable thing to do.

The left loves these types of conspiracies. First their paranoid musings about ExxonMobil and how pennies spent has supposedly immobilized the public and now Oreske’s spin on this.

“their paranoid musings about ExxonMobil and how pennies spent has supposedly immobilized the public”

In other words, first you deny that Exxon is giving money to denialists to confuse people about climate change. Then when people present hard evidence of that, you backpedal and say that it’s just “pennies” and Al Gore does it anyway.

Do you realize how idiotic that is?

Now, seriously, you should go on screaming “Pennies! Pennies! Pennies!” at the top of your lungs. Science isn’t determined by consensus, but apparently to you it’s determined by how loudly and how frequently you scream.

And while you’re at it, you may also want to scream this: THIRD WORLD KLEPTOCRATS!!!!!!!!

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- frankbi.wordpress.com

Pennies. Exxon spends pennies. GM, however, spends over $2 billion a year advertising cars and trucks. That’s serious money. And still, I’ve never bought a GM vehicle.

Purportedly spending less then a single penny per person per year is a miserly amount and produces miserly results.

Proganda can’t be done for pennies.

Pennies? More like 23 million or so over the past decade.

And then multiply that by all the free publicity/amplification provided by right-wing talk radio. Exxon doesn’t have to pay a penny to Rush Limbaugh to get him to publicize all those bogus “studies” that it paid for…

The Swiftboaters didn’t have to spend all that much to throw the 2004 election – all they had to do is run a few ads and let the right-wing echo machine pick up that ball and run with it.

It’s pennies if Paul *.* screams so. Don’t ask, don’t question. Because Paul *.* reached this conclusion via a totally rigorous methodology:

Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies!

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- frankbi.wordpress.com

Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies! Pennies!

Go by the stats that warmists provide (which may be dubious by themself) Exxon, over the last 10 years, has spent less then one penny per citizen per year. Yet this tiny amount is supposedly enough to “paralyze” the general public into inaction. What nonsense.

that’s an interesting stat - a penny a year. Well if they’ve managed to sway public opinion on that budget, I have to compliment them.

Further to that, If the climate scientific community as a whole is living in frustration at public ignorance, then I have to call them out for being ineffective communicators and failed public instructors (that’s what we’re paying them for) and therefore I submit that they have a share in the blame for public inaction.


Further to that, If the climate scientific community as a whole is living in frustration at public ignorance, then I have to call them out for being ineffective communicators and failed public instructors (that’s what we’re paying them for) and therefore I submit that they have a share in the blame for public inaction.

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography here in San Diego has been trying to get the information out to the general public for years now.

They have issued press-releases announcing the their scientists’ willingness to be interviewed by the media, they give regular lectures on global-warming that are open to the general public, they hold workshops for school teachers, and on and on…

But it’s hard to compete with the denialists when the most popular radio station in San Diego (KFMB 760) features Rick Roberts, Glen Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and Rick Savage. Yep – that’s KFMB’s entire talk-show lineup. See anyone in there who would give a Scripps scientist the time of day? I didn’t think so.

A few months ago, I personally asked Dr. Naomi Oreskes if she or any of the Scripps scientists had ever been given an opportunity to appear on any of San Diego’s talk radio shows (Rick Roberts, Rodger Hedgecock). She laughed and replied with an emphatic NO.

Scripps scientists were interviewed from time to time on the now defunct KLSD1360, so it’s not like the Scripps folks weren’t willing to go on the radio.

But when wingnuts control the format, Scripps scientists can’t get a word in edgewise.

It’s true that all talk radio seems to be on the right. But I’m not ready to blame the right wingers for that. They just push the agenda they believe in. Surely there must be some entertaining voices out there on the left that could provide some balance. Funny - all the left voices are on TV and all the right voices are on radio - seems that way anyway.

It should be obvious to anyone smart enough to be able to fog a mirror that propaganda is much cheaper than scientific research.

I could, in an hour or so, bang out a cheesy global-warming denial puff-piece by spewing out the usual talking points, and if necessary, making s**t up. Getting it published/promoted by right-wing media outlets would cost almost nothing.

Getting the MSM to do a “he-said she-said” story on it would require no more than a few phone calls made by an Exxon PR flack.

Then it comes to stuff like that, 23 million dollars will go a *long* way.

Then it comes to stuff like that, 23 million dollars…

Correction:

WHEN it comes to stuff like that….

In fact Paul, there was another report during the Carter administration other than the Jason one so in fact it was a third opinion that was sought. Also, the opinions were from not individual people but groups of people. Finally, the third opinion had a number of people involved in the production of it who did not agree with the interpretation that Nierenberg put on it.

So the appropriate analogy was that a third opinion was sought which consisted of slapping some lipstick on a pig (or a pitbull). None the less, that was the opinion accepted - almost as if someone wanted a given answer, not what the science showed!

Regards, John

“Legitimate debate”

LOL!

Public relations campaigns, intarweb pages, newspaper articles.

Not scientific journal articles.

“What lie? Have you ever gotten a second doctor’s opinion? That is a normal and natural human thing to do.”

Second? Hell, they’ve gotten tens of thousands.
Only a handfull (the same handfull telling us smoking doesn’t cause cancer) giving us your same opinion.
None in a peer-reviewed paper to my knowledge.
Another one blows up in your egg-covered faces.

You’re argument is bankrupt when you resort exclusively to ad-hominem attacks instead of countering those claims with your own peer reviewed evidence to the contrary.

“What lie? Have you ever gotten a second doctor’s opinion? That is a normal and natural human thing to do.”

And when the 2nd doctor’s opinion aligns with the 1st, do people ever seek out a 3rd doctors opinion hoping for a different conclusion? Do they ever go on to a 4th, a 5th, etc, indefinitely denying the consensus until they happen to find one with the answer they want to hear? At which point they say “the debate is not over!”

Why was Nierenberg, and not somebody else, chosen by the Reagan administration?

He was already involved, he was on Reagan’s transition team, and he certainly didn’t like the answers the cliamte scientists kept giving.

This whole discussion is based on facts that Oreskes simply got wrong. The publication “Changing Climate” was a publication of the National Science Foundation Climate Research Board. It was specifically requested by the US Congress during Jimmy Carter’s term. Dr. Nierenberg was appointed chair of the CRB prior to Reagan being elected.

In the document’s introduction it clearly states that the executive summary and synthesis were the consensus view of all the members of the CRB. Those members were;

William A. Nierenberg (Chairman) SIO, Peter G. Brewer Woods Hole/NSF, Lester Machta NOAA, William D. Nordhaus Yale, Roger R. Revelle UCSD, Thomas C. Schelling Harvard, Joseph Smagorinsky Princeton, Paul E. Waggoner, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, George M. Woodwell Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole

Any plain reading of the executive summary and synthesis would show that it was very much in line with views on CO2 at the time, and actually to a great extent in the present. Oreskes is counting on the fact that almost no one has access to this document.

It is a disgrace that Dr. Oreskes put out these articles and papers which are full of factual errors, deliberate alterations of the underlying materials, and idle speculation.

So Nicolas, so according to you, W. Nierenberg was saying that global warming is real, and that it is a serious problem that requires urgent attention?

If that is so, why do you think Oreskes did what she did? What is her “agenda” exactly, if it has nothing to do with any disagreement over the global warming theory (since you assert that there’s no disagreement anyway)?

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- frankbi.wordpress.com

What I am asserting is what I said in my post. The 1983 report speaks for itself and was the joint conclusion of some of the most distinguished scientists of the time. It was a publication of the National Academy of Sciences and was not commissioned by the Reagan administration.

Its conclusions were not controversial at the time.

I don’t fully understand Dr. Oreskes motives other than to make a name for herself at the expense of someone who is not in a position to defend himself.

Have you a copy of the publication that you can make available?

r

I’m sorry but the report is more than six hundred pages, and is not available in a scanned form. I plan to post the executive summary, which is really what Oreskes is referring to anyway. As I stated before the executive summary was the consensus view of the entire committee while individual chapters were separately peer reviewed and written by the scientists specializing in each area of the problem.

The document is available from many university libraries.

You can find a link at atmoz.org that points to the executive summary over at http://www.nicolasnierenberg.com/uploads/1/1/6/6/1166378/executive_summary.pdf

According to Atmoz, it reads pretty much like an IPCC report.

It looks like Oreskes fumbled it here – could be a real ding on her credibility unless she provides an appropriate clarification and/or retraction…

Fumble it, that is. See longer post further down.

Thanx for the info.

This was yet another reminder for me not to take *anything* the denier-side has to say at face value.

Every time I’ve gone out of the way to give AGW deniers the benefit of the doubt, I’ve come to regret it. And it looks like this time is no exception.

Sorry it was the National Academy of Sciences Climate Research Board.

Frankbi, et al.:

From the Nierenberg NAS report (1983) executive summary:

“Results of most numerical model experiments suggest that a doubling of CO2, if maintained indefinitely, would cause a global surface air warming of between 1.5C and 4.5C. The climate record of the past hundred years and our estimates of CO2 changes over that period suggest that values in the lower half of this range are more probable.”

I think it is interesting and telling that after 30 years of trying and 50 Billion dollars invested the AGW industry still only has a few contrived computer models and some theories to show for the investment.

Meanwhile the climate continues to cool in spite of the commandments from the all powerful IPCC to warm up.

None of that However will deter aactivists like Oreskes from producing propaganda that supports what ever they are pushing.

If you want dispassionate science, then how about starting with yourself, instead of repeating your same old mantra again and again?

Are you seriously claiming that you’re not “pushing” a particular point of view?

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- frankbi.wordpress.com

“I think it is interesting and telling that after 30 years of trying and 50 Billion dollars invested the AGW industry still only has a few contrived computer models and some theories to show for the investment.”

I started to call you rainman but I couldn’t detect the savant to balance the idiot.

I guess I should throw in the towel.
KMR called me an idiot.
Guess that final.
Damn.
I was so hoping to be …….

Wait a minute.
Who in hell is KMR?

Oh, there will be plenty of more interesting material that will come out - I have quite good reasons to think that Naomi has it right, sin seeking the truth of the matter.

As one tidbit, when it comes to reports, sometimes “No major dissent” means “we agree” and sometimes it means “our chairman made up his mind before this started, won’t listen to us no matter what, and we’re tired fighting.” People may assess which one this was, after the various details come to light :-)

But meanwhile, for practice, one might read Allan Brandt’s “The Cigarette Century”.

I have posted a scanned version of the executive summary of the 1983 report at www.nicolasnierenberg.com. Please forgive the amateur site, and the size of the scan.

As to whether this really represented the consensus of the committee, I suppose you could believe that the very distinguished group of scientists that I listed earlier just sat on their hands. Or you could believe that it means what it says. There is absolutely no evidence that there was any controversy surrounding the report or the summary at the time. Oreskes et al do not present a bit of evidence on that topic.

As it happens, I reviewed the draft chapter that describes this in Naomi’s book, about a year ago. It’s meticulously documented, with 99 footnote references for 26 pages of text. Of course, all that stuff isn’t in a short article.

It’s clear that Dr. Nierenberg had a definite outcome in mind that disagreed with the Charney Report, and the actual climate scientists, brought in economists who agreed with him, and the synopsis/summary were from them, not the scientists. Naomi lays it out in fine detail.

She doesn’t just look at official reports, she gets copies of letters, handwritten notes, and talks to lots of people.

I sent this to Dr. George M. Woodwell, who is one of the few *scientists* on that committee still alive.
You can read a little about him at:
http://www.whrc.org/about_us/whos_who/staff.htm

He replied almost immediately, and kindly gave his permission to quote what he said, so I will, in its entirety:

“Dear Dr. Mashey:
Yes, I remember well that committee and how it was controlled and deflected by new economic influences as the environmental issues appeared to become acute. The study was under the auspices of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, not the National Science Foundation. We resorted to individual papers because we could not agree, or see any way to agree, on a single report. Even within my own paper there was systematic pressure to dilute the statements and the conclusions. I had previously written and signed along with Roger Revelle, Davide Keeling, and Gordon MacDonald a stronger statement for the CEQ at the end of the Carter administration. That statement was widely publicized by Gus Speth, then Chairman of CEQ, and ultimately used in testimony in the Congress and as bakground for the Global 2000 Report publishe by CEQ in 1980.

As far as the summary statement of the Report was concerned, as the Preface states: there were “no major dissents”. That means no one chose to fight with the chairman. It was poor, sickly job, deliberately made so for political reasons characteristic of the corruption of governmental purpose
in the Reagan regime. Naomi Oreskes has it right. GMW

IS THAT CLEAR ENOUGH, OR NOT?

What is not clear is how this means that the report was commissioned by Reagan. Nothing in the above quote says that Dr. Nierenberg hijacked the result, just that Woodwell may not have agreed with all the conclusions. But in any event there is no record of his objection at the time that Oreskes et al produces. (Or even a current objection I might add.)

I seriously don’t believe that you even read the executive summary that I just posted.

Nicolas Nierenberg
You will never sway any AGW believers from their faith.
Just keep posting reality and the intellegent people out in the real world will eventually see the light.

“no one chose to fight with the Chairman” - but rather allowed their work to be misrepresented in the summary. I don’t understand that. It would be helpful if there was documents from that time specifically showing that the scientists rejected the summary. It’s not like Reagan was going to send them to Gitmo.

I will post a rebuttal at the appropriate time to the entire Oreskes paper as we are only scratching the surface. As to the AGW issue this has nothing to do with that. Just read the executive summary that is all I ask all of you.

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