Saying Sorry is Hard to Do (Maybe We Can Help)

Tue, 2009-03-24 16:31Mitchell Anderson
Mitchell Anderson's picture

Saying Sorry is Hard to Do (Maybe We Can Help)

Lorne Gunter was wrong.

How can it be? For someone that has spread such a load of manure about climate science, it was interesting he owned up to two token errors in an otherwise typical anti-climate rant last week.

It was such a minor mea culpa however, we thought we should help him with bigger stuff. After all, the National Post has become such a sad excuse for a newspaper they don’t belong to any press council in Canada. This means that the reading public doesn’t even have a professional body to complain to.

So here we go Lorne – a quick jaunt through some of the whoppers in a single column earlier this month. If you or your editors want to take a crack at fact checking or properly citing your sources, there is something called the “internet” that might help. Maybe you can try this on your own next time, assuming that’s something you want to bother with.

On March 9, Gunter proclaimed that William Happer was not a climate denier but an expert on “the interactions of visible and infrared radiation with gases”. Sounds like he has some valuable expertise on climate change.

Wrong. Happer is not a climate scientist at all. He even said so himself. His main research focus is using MRIs to image lungs.

Is he a climate denier? You be the judge. In spite of having no apparent peer-reviewed publications on climate science, he felt qualified to give testimony to the US senate on the subject.

Real climate scientists were not amused. Dr. Bill Chameides, the Dean of Earth and Ocean Sciences at Duke University wrote an excellent rebuttal to the load of dung dished out by Happer in his testimony to US lawmakers.

Another significant citiation point conveniently omitted by Gunter is that Happer is also Chair of the George C. Marshall Institute, which has received more than $700,000 from ExxonMobil. Of course, a ten second Google search by Gunter might be too much to ask of a professional journalist like himself.

Which brings us to another whopper by Gunter “The significance of Prof. Happer’s statement is not that it proves global warming is false, but rather that it shows there is no consensus among respected scientists.”

So Gunter’s thesis hinges on the erroneous testimony of a single non-climate scientist, who works for an organization that has received $715,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998?

Let’s move along. There is a lot of ground to cover in this forest of errors and misinformation.

Gunter says: The feedback from atmospheric water vapor is “close to zero and may even be negative”.

Not true. Have a look at this peer-reviewed paper published last year on that very subject.

Gunter says: “additional increments of CO2 will cause relatively less direct warming because we already have so much CO2 … that it has blocked most of the infrared radiation that it can.”

This old red herring is regularly trotted out by deniers and has no scientific basis.

Gunter says: “Over the past decade, while carbon dioxide concentrations have continued to grow, there has been “a slight cooling,” according to Happer. Any warming in recent decades, then, “seems to be due mostly to natural causes, not to increasing levels of carbon dioxide.”NASA Temperature Graph

That is garbage. This peer-reviewed paper from last year is the latest to debunk the old chestnut of “global cooling”.

Also, have a look at this global temperature graph just released by NASA and decide for yourself if the world is getting warmer or not.

Gunter says: “Kanya Kusano, program director at the Earth Simulator at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, called the IPCC’s warming theories “an unprovable hypothesis.”

He seems to be arguing that Japan’s leading scientists question climate science.

That’s strange. The National Academies of Science of eleven countries co-signed this declaration on climate change, including Japan.

Gunter references a “University of Wisconsin study that shows global temperatures have at least flat-lined during the past decade and that that trend could continue for another 30 years.” So climate change is nothing to worry about?

Not quite. Here is text of the actual paper Gunter is talking about.

Far from casting doubt on climate change, the authors conclude by stating:

If the role of internal variability in the climate system is as large as this analysis would seem to suggest, warming over the 21st century may well be larger than that predicted by the current generation of models, given the propensity of those models to underestimate climate internal variability. “

Wow. My fingers are getting tired and that is just one of his articles. If he had to print corrections every week, there would be no room for new (or very old) deceptions, omissions or outright lies about climate science. 


I think this is a brilliant idea, but maybe there should be several categories rather than just a straight tally of errors.  Such as one for the biggest, most blindingly false single statement.  Ideas, folks? I’ll even contribute a trophy.  Instead of one lonely denier paddling to the Arctic ocean, a small fleet of kayaks disappearing into the sunset, never to be heard from again …

I can dream, can’t I?


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