Slamming the Climate Skeptic Scam

Mon, 2009-06-15 10:36Jim Hoggan
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Slamming the Climate Skeptic Scam

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Updated: June 15, 2009

There is a line between public relations and propaganda - or there should be. And there is a difference between using your skills, in good faith, to help rescue a battered reputation and using them to twist the truth - to sow confusion and doubt on an issue that is critical to human survival.

And it is infuriating - as a public relations professional - to watch my colleagues use their skills, their training and their considerable intellect to poison the international debate on climate change.

That's what is happening today, and I think it's a disgrace. On one hand, you have the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – as well as the science academies of every developed nation in the world – confirming that:

  • climate change is real;
  • it is caused by human activity; and
  • it is threatening the planet in ways we can only begin to imagine.


On the other hand, you have an ongoing public debate - not about how to respond, but about whether we should bother, about whether climate change is even a scientific certainty. While those who stand in denial of climate change have failed in the last 15 years to produce a single, peer-reviewed scientific journal article that challenges the theory and evidence of human-induced climate change, mainstream media was, until very recently, covering the story (in more than half the cases, according to the academic researchers Boykoff and Boykoff) by quoting one scientist talking about the risks and one purported expert saying that climate change was not happening – or might actually be a good thing.

Few PR offences have been so obvious, so successful and so despicable as this attack on the science of climate change. It has been a triumph of disinformation – one of the boldest and most extensive PR campaigns in history, primarily financed by the energy industry and executed by some of the best PR talent in the world. As a public relations practitioner, it is a marvel – and a deep humiliation – and I want to see it stop.

Here’s how it works: Public relations is not a process of telling people what to think; people are too smart for that, and North Americans are way too stubborn. Tell a bunch of North Americans what they are supposed to think and you’re likely to wind up the only person at the party enjoying your can of New Coke.

No, the trick to executing a good PR campaign is twofold: you figure out what people are thinking already; and then you nudge them gently from that position to one that is closer to where you want them to be. The first step is research: you find out what they know and understand; you identify the specific gaps in their knowledge. Then you fill those gaps with a purpose-built campaign. You educate. If people are afraid to take Tylenol (as they were after someone poisoned some pills), you explain the extensive safety precautions now typical in the pharmaceutical industry. If people think Martha Stewart is arrogant and uncaring, you create opportunities for her to show a more human side.

In the best cases – the cases that are most personally rewarding – your advice actually guides corporate behavior. That is, if a client wants to protect or revive their reputation, if they want to convince the public that they’re running a responsible company and doing the right thing, the most obvious public relations advice is that they should do the right thing.

It's the kind of advice that, historically, has been a hard sell in the tobacco industry, in the asbestos industry - and too often in the automotive industry. Those sectors have provided some of the most famous examples of PR disinformation: “smoking isn't necessarily bad for you;” “it's not certain that asbestos will give you cancer;” “your seatbelt might actually kill you if you're the one person in five trillion whose buckle jams just as your car flips into a watery ditch.”

But few PR offences have been so obvious, so successful and so despicable as the attack on the scientific certainty of climate change. Few have been so coldly calculating and few have been so well documented. For example, Ross Gelbspan, in his books, The Heat is On and Boiling Point sets out the whole case, pointing fingers and naming names. PR Watch founder John Stauber has done similarly exemplary work, tracking the bogus campaigns and linking various pseudo scientists to their energy industry funders.

I have filled a whole book with details of the documented corporate action plans to deny climate change and confuse the public. Climate Cover-up hit the shelves in the fall of 2009.

One of the best proofs of climate disinformation came in a November 2002 memo from political consultant Frank Luntz to the U.S. Republican Party. Luntz followed the rules: he did the research; he identified the soft spots in public opinion; and he made a clever critical judgment about which way the public could be induced to move.

In a section entitled “Winning the Global Warming Debate,” Luntz says this:

“The Scientific Debate Remains Open. Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate, and defer to scientists and other experts in the field.”

If you download the memo and read the whole thing, you will notice that Luntz never expressly denies the validity of the science. In fact, he says, “The scientific debate is closing [against us] but is not yet closed.”

” … not yet closed”? Among those who disagreed with that assessment when Luntz wrote this report were the 2,500 scientists in the IPCC, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Royal Society of London and the Royal Society of Canada.

In 2004, Donald Kennedy, editor-in-chief of Science magazine, said, “We're in the middle of a large uncontrolled experiment on the only planet we have.” And to back up this sense of certainty, he reported that University of California, San Diego science historian Dr. Naomi Oreskes had published an analysis in Science in which she had combed through 928 peer-reviewed climate studies published between 1993 and 2003 and found not a single one that disagreed with the general scientific consensus.

Yet journalists continued to report updates from the best climate scientists in the world juxtaposed against the unsubstantiated raving of an industry-funded climate change denier - as if both were equally valid.

Notwithstanding, Luntz wrote: “There is still a window of opportunity to challenge the science.” He recommended that his Republican Party clients do just that. He urged them to marshal their own “scientists” to contest the issue on every occasion. He urged them to plead for “sound science” a twist of language of the sort that George Orwell once said was “designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidarity to pure wind.”

Luntz's goal – which was embraced with unnerving enthusiasm by the Bush Administration - was to manufacture uncertainty and to politicize science. Like all tragedy, it would be hilarious if you could play it for laughs.

Luntz himself actually backed off this position a couple of years later, saying that the evidence of climate change was overwhelming. So it’s difficult to tell who is being wilfully blind and who, like Luntz, was falling victim to gross negligence in the way they ignore the science - and in the potentially catastrophic risks that they promote. Whichever way you cut it, their actions reflect badly on the whole public relations industry.

As you might assume from my earlier criticism, I'm not suggesting that Frank Luntz or even a dubious cabal of ethics-free PR people are solely to blame for the public confusion on climate change. They have received extensive, if clumsy assistance from the media, which in a facile attempt to provide “balance” is willing to give any opinion an “impartial” airing as long as it is firmly in contradiction with another.

This is not just a feature of the point/counterpoint talking heads that have emerged as the principal vehicle for television news. Newspaper reporters are just as guilty of canvassing “both sides” of every argument, often without providing any critical judgment as to the validity or relative weight of either side.

On the issue of climate change, journalists have consistently reported the updates from the best climate scientists in the world juxtaposed against the unsubstantiated raving of an industry-funded climate change denier - as if both are equally valid. This is not balanced journalism. It is a critical abdication of journalistic responsibility. Any reporter who cannot assess the relative merits of a global scientific consensus - especially in contradiction to an “expert” that the coal industry is paying to help “clear the air” - deserves to have his pencil taken away in solemn ceremony and broken into bits.

There is yet more blame to go around. You could criticize scientists for the dense, cautious and conditional language that they use in talking about the threats of climate change. But in science, credibility is a currency (this, in apparent contradiction to the state of affairs in journalism or PR). A scientist who strays, even momentarily, off the path of certainty or who wanders from hard science into policy is immediately dismissed as someone with an axe to grind.

You could also criticize environmentalists, whose tendency has been to stray too far in the other direction, extrapolating scientific assumptions to create scare stories so dispiriting that they create apathy rather than activism. These, in turn, have made easy targets for the energy industry's climate change deniers.

The important thing at this point, however, is not to assign blame. It is to educate yourself and to join this increasingly urgent political debate. This is not one of those relatively low-level PR boondoggles. We're not talking about single individuals dying because the auto industry held out against seat belt laws. We're not even talking about many 100s of thousands of people dying of lung cancer because the tobacco industry held out for “sound science” while actively increasing the amount of addictive nicotine in their product. We're talking about the future of the planet.

So please read on.

Read everything.

If you are actually practicing public relations, take a close look at your clients and at your own performance. There has to be a point where principle trumps short-term economic gain, a point where you admit to yourself that it’s not worth the money to put the planet at risk.

Whatever you do, you must keep a wary eye. By all means, read the sites that deny the reality of climate change. But then check on www.sourcewatch.org to see who paid for those opinions. Read the DeSmogBlog. Don't accept the word of people who pass themselves off as “skeptics.” Be skeptical yourself. Ask yourself what motive the scientific community has to gang up and invent a phony climate crisis. Compare that to the motives that ExxonMobil or Peabody Coal might have to deny that burning fossil fuels indiscriminately could change irrevocably our existence on the planet.

And if you still leave the lights on when you're done, make sure they're shining in the shamed faces of the PR pros who are still trying to prevent sound, sensible policy change to affect this, perhaps the biggest threat humankind has ever faced. 

Comments

Only by the lowest ranks of so-called climate experts:

http://www.fcpp.org/main/publication_detail.php?PubID=864

The most “science-challenged” slice of this group is still saying it.

how “those who stand in denial of climate change have failed in the last 15 years to produce a single, peer-reviewed scientific journal article that challenges the theory” is a “lie” and “so ridiculously wrong”?

I googled that exact phase and your comment in this thread is all that came up. 

No assertions, just show us the links to the papers in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

RE: ““those who stand in denial of climate change have failed in the last 15 years to produce a single, peer-reviewed scientific journal article that challenges the theory” is a “lie”

What complete balderdash, this no different that holding forth that no single peer revied study has denied that the Pope in Rome is God’s vicar on Earth.     Peer review has nothing to  to with either validating or invalidating a theory.  

Scientific theories are self-affirming or self-denying, opinion isn’t worth a damn in this process.     Netwon’s F=ma is true not because they held a poll in which a self appointed authority, first decided who could vote in the poll,  and counted only the votes of those they selected to vote for their idea.    F=ma is true because it works every time for the intended purpose.  

Anyone who does not understand this is either ignorant or fraud.    Science is non authoritarinan and has nothing to do with human opinion.   Opinions do not count.

 

Chris Maddigan wrote:

The first lie comes shortly after when it is stated that the science academies of every developed nation in the world confirm that AGW is threatening the planet in ways we can only begin to imagine.  The statements of almost all academies are far more limited and guarded as too what they say about AGW.

Falsehood.  It is clear from the abundance of statements issued by leading scientific acadamies of every developed nation in the world–the overwhelming majority of which combine stern warnings with graphic illustrations detailing very explicitly what is highly likely to occur should we fail to heed the scientific warnings (yet variously worded due to a variety of threats to highlight and issued independently of each other so variously stated)–that there is no other way to summarize these scientific opinions other than to say that they confirm that anthropogenic warming is threatening the planet in ways we can only begin to imagine.  

Only a deluded person would come away and conclude therefrom that “almost all acadamies are far more limited and guarded as too [sic] what they say about AGW.”  

The only dissenting organization–The American Association of Petroleum Geologists–withdrew its statement of dissent in 2007.  This leaves us with the handful of noncommital statements with limited and guarded words of which you speak, which are few and far between but are vastly outnumbered and, hence, effectively negated by the overwhelming number of statements in concurrence with the conclusions of the IPCC.  To cite the many examples is beyond the scope of this comment, so here is the link:   

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_global_warming

Given that every leading and respected scientific academy from around the world concurs with the conclusions of the IPCC and has issued strong statements of endorsements expressing their agreement, the remark that the IPCC’s scientific accolade amounts to a “Peace Prize which is basicaly [sic] a prize awarded for outstanding political correctness” is uninformed and thoroughly discredited by his own cited sources (e.g., “the statements of almost all academies”) and therefore utterly irrelevant. 

Then comes another big lie - “those who stand in denial of climate change have failed in the last 15 years to produce a single, peer-reviewed scientific journal article that challenges the theory “. This often repeated  statement is so ridiculously wrong that it immediately discredits anyone who states it (Google it if you doubt this).

Why bother googling your dubious claim if you can’t even offer a single concrete example yourself?  You expect people to take your “word” for it??  Come, now…the burden of proof is on you, the denier–not on me or on any other to furnish evidence.  

Otherwise, your claim is dismissed as an unsubstantiated claim. So show me the evidence. (Remember: substandard scientific journals that are not listed in the ISI whose articles are editor-reviewed are unacceptable as evidence, since they are considered low-grade and non-peer reviewed).

If you really want to convince me then you must first embrace the values of rigorous honesty. This would mean that the leaders of  the AGW cause should routinely denounce the dishonest and the exaggerators on their own side and refuse to publish any scientist unwilling to fully expose their data and their methodology to public scrutiny.  It is not peer review that leads to the truth but open public scrutiny. Peer review just perpetuates group think.

I am highly skeptical of your skepticism and have no need to convince a denier whose mind is made up and who denies that he is even a denier.  I don’t doubt your sincerity, but it is not you who are skeptical of your claims, it is I.  Deniers are not skeptics–their minds are made up.   

I don’t think you are being willfully deceitful but that you are deceived.  You obviously cannot distinguish legitimate scientists from paid contrarian scientists hired by public relations firms. You offer unsubstantiated claims concerning the existence of peer-reviewed studies challenging the consensus but fail to offer examples openly for our scrutiny–which is then refuted by your own argument in the next paragraph (e.g., “It is not peer review that leads to the truth but open public scrutiny.  Peer review just perpetuates group think.”)

This to me reflects an individual who is brainwashed by think-tanks and PR campaigns.  Your comment on peer review indicates that you are unacquainted with the scientific method.  Peer review is an indispensible part of the scientific process, without which we cannot have the necessary safeguards to filter out scientific fraudulence and shoddy works of questionable value.   So it’s not that you are lying–you frankly just don’t know what you are talking about.  Please do your homework and come back when you are better informed. 

Hear, Hear.

Again,real approaches to real probems. Well said.

There was no scientific consensus of imminent global cooling in the 1970s. That’s a line thrown out to muddle the picture, dragged back in and then thrown out again and again..

The adoption of an insincere moral tone and appeals for ‘fair play’ is an old trick used by people who want to create a false picture of equivalency, especially when there are no grounds for complaint. You make claims and allegations, but provide no credible evidence of wrongdoing. It’s a variation on the old ‘balance’ trick.

In fact, please state what evidence for AGW actually would convince you. A finger from the clouds with a booming voice, perhaps? If are a skeptic, what evidence will be enough? Or are you just a denier, for whom there will always be something wrong, even if you have to dig, dig, dig for it until you find it, and if that doesn’t work, make it yourself?

I’ve found quite the correlation between untenable biblical literalism and climate change denial, though one must wonder how much of the religious belief is sincere and how much is conformity internalized.

One constant smear from deniers is ‘socialist’ or leftie. I’ve had fun on some forums linking those remarks to pro-climate science statements from Schwarzenegger (Republican), the US Navy (so many commies there!) and a statement from the Vatican (that hotbed of rabid Bolshevism ;). I don’t get any response, other than anonymous downward thumbs. I wonder why…?

I’m agnostic to all belief cults be they original sin cults or AGW cults but you are entitled to your own faith - just not your own definitions.

We’ve been hearing this tripe for years. How the best science is found in oil company think tanks, truck stop research projects, misquoted scientists whose retractions are ignored, the unrecognized genius of people who’ve never done any actually relevant science in the discipline. And somehow thousands of qualified scientist from diverse countries and backgrounds are all part of a ‘religion’.
.
It all seems absurd, like a Monty Python sketch…

[Cardinal Inhofe] “Nooobody expects the Denier Inquisition. Our weapon is fear. Fear and ignorance. …Our two weapons are fear and ignorance – and a fanatical devotion to the Pump. Let me start again… Nooobody expects the Denier Inquisition. Amongst our weapons are fear, ignorance, and a fanatical devotion to the Pump. Cardinal Singer, will you read the charges.” [Opens scroll]

[Cardinal Singer] “In the name of our Holy Mother Corp, you are charged with the crime of Accuracy, with Corruption of Profits, and with Treason against their Most Exalted Interests. How do you plead?”

[Scientist] “What? Are you mad?”
[Inhofe] “I see. So be it. Cardinal Fang, get…the cherry-picker.”
[Scientist] “The cherry-picker! No! Not that!”

Back in reality, I still see nothing but the same old debunked talking points.

Thank you for blowing smoke.

Thank you, ascienceteacher, for a simple, clear and true statement. CO2 is a by-product of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are dirty and make us sick, probably a good reason to get rid of them anyway. Then of course we have to deal with overpopulation, plastics pollution, acidification of the oceans… Let’s stop the bickering and get to work.

You have the American people arrayed against billions of dollars of corporate interests who have bet the farm in bringing this cash cow in.

This site is probably funded by Goldman Sachs, GE, Google and an array of corporate interests who spend billions cultivating ignoramuses whom Stalin refferred to as the useful idiots

The hype is promoted everywhere by these corporate interests and the schools double down on the hype with a propaganda campaign that would do Herr Goebbals proud.

Still its all failing and the global warming corporate hucksters will not meet anyone in open debate so they put up slick websites like this one instead.

The rhetoric becomes more panic stricken each day which is only helping to unravel the con game. Nobody but the penniless idiots and believe this garbage the corporations paying the bills don’t believe it

Actually that’s not what happened. What happened is that the political hucksters in all countries needed more control over the population so they convened this “scientific body.

They invited a lot of people to join and enjoy the swell benefits of belonging to the faithful group. The real scientists wrote esoteric reports that no one understood and the politicians “summarized” it to say whatever they wanted it to say. The people who cried foul and challenged these summarizers that inverted everything they said they were kicked off the panel

RE: “I trust the ethics of scientists (the group of people least likely to have them in my opinion) ”

Why do you hold this opinion; is there any scientific basis for it or is it simply your belief?

To me your statement leads more credence to evidence that AGW as an expression of cultism similar to that expressed by the devotees of Jim Jones or even Charlie Manson; as the other great installers of confidence and faith they knew how to pull the strings of the gullible.

Conservation is the practice of using the earth’s resources for maximum utility. In the end everything changes - nature abhors not only vacuums but also “sustainability”

RE:Some bodies of water are actually cooler in places because particulate matter in the air from pollution and jet plumes dim the sun.

This seems fanciful; it would take months for oceans to respond to small changes in local environments and by that time sea currents would take the water halfway around the world in largely unpredictable.

Otherwise its a great excuse for the failure or your sandwich board doomsday religion

Great insight; how would government school unions be useful in inculcating habits in the children that their parents don’t share?

I admit that I had a cakewalk compared with my parents but I still put in 60 hour weeks as a norm and had at best a couple of weeks off each year to get things done on the homestead.

Would the teachers unions set a far better example than I did as a parent on the virtues of self-sufficiency, solid work effort, self-sacrifice, and being accountable to those with whom you interact.

Go to church, live the life of the ascetic, and above all get off the internet. You can learn how to live on herbs, roots, and an occasional squirrel. You can heat your hut with dried human dung and embrace nature fully by getting off the grid. You will need to get out of your cities and apartments and embrace the vigorous life. Try western North Dakota in January. Bring mittens

But certified skeptics don’t believe these certified cult priests.

Is this how science is now don’t; not by proof but being “certifiable”?

But shouldn’t we be paying a lot more obsequious service to God and what God experts say we should give him? After all Earth isn’t much when we compare it to our immortal souls.

Is earth more important to you than the almighty?

RE: “The waste of natural resources is awful.”

Who are you saving them for? Surely not the human blight on the planet. Which “natural resources do you want to save? I’m not aware that polar bears and whales are big consumers of oil, iron, coal, etc.

RE: “The biggest problem is the size of the human population. This needs immediate action.”

Would you offer to kill yourself in order “save the planet”, if so Ill be more than happy provide the means to do it rather painlessly.

Just think of the powerful message you could offer in service to “the planet” if you came out with the statement that the world just has too many people like you and you are going to do your best to correct this imbalance and then simply shoot yourself in the head.

I could video the whole thing and put it on you-tube and perhaps inspire all of the planet’s greenies to follow your powerful leadership in correcting this problem. Think of the mass suicides you could inspire among all of the dedicated greenies - it would be a wonderful inspirational message to us all

Of course as your body molders in the ground, the decay will emit carbon dioxide as it rots; you would need to pay your carbon taxes up front. The polar bears have set up a fund for this because humans would just use the taxes to consume more of earths precious resources. Such taxes are safer in the hands, the paws, the flippers, etc of the animals who are the only creatures who would use it to live “sustainably”

RE: “The charm of the CO2 man made global warming is that it might lead to burning less oil. This is absolutely necessary.”

Why is it necessary to burn less oil? I can understand why YOU might want to burn less, its expensive; but both Barack Obama and I can afford to use as much of it as we want. OK we all have to pay for Obama’s oil but nonetheless there is a market price for oil that reflects its scarcity.

If it gets real scarce only a few of us will be able to afford it and those who can’t afford it will simply die early off as prices for everything you need into order to live will explode.

This will cull the lower classes and interrupt their ability to breed and thus not be able to generate more evil human spawn - that should make you all delighted right?

In the Earth history was 3 or more ice ages when climate was changed totally. Researching polar directions of ancient pyramids all around a world show, that a North Pole all the time moving from Canada and Greenland to modern position of North Pole. Also, in those periods the Earth was underwent much more temperature changes than from human energy sources and without human at all. So, have sence to take into consideration those facts.

Good points, Kids need to be toughened up. They need to learn how to be productive. They need to learn that nothing is “sustainable”;

Nature despises “sustainability” The spoiled children of a people that built a great nation with unparalleled liberty must learn that it is all “unsustainable” Nature destroys every creature that surrenders to her. Nature is always destructive of individuals, of species, of eco-systems, of continents; of planets, of stars; of galaxies; of the universe itself!

Our children will learn that they are not really entitled to a “minimum wage.” They will learn that getting a useless college degree entitling them to a government job at wages that are based upon fantasy is also unsustainable. They will learn that governments that borrow money from their competitors can do so for one or two generations at best before the chips are called in. Governments are only viable to the extent they can live off the productivity of their citizens nations of unproductive citizens die. Nations that pay 4 to 10 natural costs of energy will die because they cannot compete. “Policies” can not change this fact.

Governments can not and never have produced wealth, they can only consume wealth; Governments who try to do this are no better off than a snake that tries to sustain itself by swallowing itself, tail first

Are you nuts?

“I have heard (from global warming deniers, i.e. The Heartland Institute) that NASA satellite mean global temperature levels for the last ten years have not measured any increse; in fact a non-statistically significant increase has been measured. Is this correct? And if it is how do you explain this?”

The Heartland “Institute” is wrong. Why? See here…

http://www.skepticalscience.com/satellite-measurements-warming-troposphere.htm

Also,
“A global map of 31-year MSU/AMSU channel TMT trends shows large regions of significant warming over eastern and central Asia, and northern Canada, cooling over the southern oceans, with moderate warming over most other regions. A map of channel TLT trends shows a very similar pattern, but with more pronounced mid-latitude warming.” http://www.remss.com/msu/msu_data_description.html#rss_msu_data_analysis

Pray its all true. If it isn’t socialism is in for a very bad end.

But channel TLS shows sharp cooling over the same period - maybe we should ignore that. Additionally Channel TTS is flat which is the most significant issue. Oceans are the integrators of atmospheric temperatures and are therefore the only reliable indicator of climatic trends. They appear to be flat. The other trends are either increasing or decreasing by small deviations from a norm. ie noise.

For you greenies who took art classes and the like when the rest of us were studying real science, integration has nothing to do with buses in Selma Alabama.

Politicians worry about money, environmentalists worry about money, taxpayers worry about money.

Polar bears do not worry about money; they worry about their next meal. You could go up to Churchill in Canada, bath yourself in honey and walk out into the tundra and at least solve the Polar Bear’s worries.

Here is some wonderful news for you if you follow my advice; you will no longer need to “worry about the climate”

I think the human kind is more of a blessing when in the right mind. The ironic the amount of ignorance that people exhibit, when they know very little about how the world works, you should give us a little more credit, I mean, we created the computer. :)

The whole point being made here is that many “sides” to the global warming debate don't represent legitimate scientific positions as so much as acting more like fun house mirrors, deliberately distracting and misdirecting the public. 

There's surely room for legitimate debate on the issue, but when “professional deniers” object for the sole sake of clouding public opinion, that's deeply wrong. 

A scientist who strays, even momentarily, off the path of absolute certainty or who wanders from hard science into policy is immediately dismissed as someone with an axe to grind.

No scientist would ever claim absolute certainty. The very nature of the scientific method precludes such an attempt. A theory or model can only be subjected to continuous attmepts at falsification, never proven (see Popper or Kuhn). This does not mean to say that scientists are not in pusuit of truth, only that in our pursuit we can never be absolutely certain of our conclusions. This is why we have a scientiffic consensus, the idea being that if many scientists have attampted to falsify a theory or conclusion many times than it must hold some (perhaps high) degree of explanatory relevance.

Perhaps you mean to say A scientist who strays, even momentarily, off the path of credible peer-reviewed science or who wanders from hard science into policy is immediately dismissed as someone with an axe to grind.

Your statement is correct, but it does not go far enough. Real science in fact produces no truth. Nothing of science deals with truth. Instead it deals with hypothesis and theory and as science progresses it does not refine truth but rather destroys all that some might currently pretend is the truth. Quantum theory is not true; it is false. It simply works well for the purposes we use it. It fails at everything. We cannot advance in physics/chemistry until quantum theory and all known theories are discarded.

We are incapable of ultimate understanding, or would those who argue that we are hold also that nature has created only one god-like creature (humans) capable of it? Presumable of this small subset hold only that a select few who earned PhDs on college campuses and work for some government are only those among the chosen few.

Oddly, this sounds very theocratic. Kings and priests as the holders of ultimate truth and by so knowing are the only people fit to rule us.

And particularly well put. Thank you.

I also wonder about the last part of that statement regarding the intersection of science and policy. Specifically, should there be a separation and how should it occur? 
It seems clear that if one conducts research with the intent of pursuing a particular conclusion <i>a priori</i>, with an axe to grind as you put it, then one will often find loads of circumstantial evidence to support any conclusion. These reseaerches should be considered mouthpieces and nothing more… But does this mean that real scientists can/should have no input for policy? That any scientist who proposes relevant policy solutions has an axe to grind? I wonder what Dr. Suzuki would say about that… or Dr. Oppenheimer… or a research economist for that matter… It seems these should be precisely the people that we should be listening to for policy guidance.

A few years back the Marshall Institute or Fund ( I am a little weak on correct names here) proposed to organize a fund to develop research and”scientific facts” that would tend to disestablish
climate science. The idea they had, and their articles are quite open and found today still
on the net, was to foster uncertainty. And this is exactly what they called it: uncertainty.
They did not propose to fund original or new research, and theirs was a political and not
a scientific pursuit. They represent interests who did not want to see the claims of climate
science   accepted as certain, so they were  going to foster uncertainty, plain and simple.
They are one of the small group of very well funded  groups  that are listed commonly
wherever the dissemination of science fraud is  advocated.  The weird thing is, if they are
so obvious, and they are, wny does  anyone pay attention?

Global Warming Denial is now the moral equivalent of Holocaust Denial. It deserves the same amount of respect (zero).

Bruce M

Vancouver/BC/Canada

Who exactly is in denial that the world has not warmed in the past 150 years?

Could you please provide some links to statements made by people who claim that the world has not warmed at all in the past 150 years?

Kudos! The PR industry badly needs some self-policing if it is to retain any credibility at all. This blog does not appear to have a trackback but I referenced it in this post: at The Post-Normal Times.

Anon

When someone says (my emphasis):

Tim Ball: Yes, it warmed from 1680 up to 1940, but since 1940 it’s been cooling down. The evidence for warming is because of distorted records. The satellite data, for example, shows cooling.

how is he denying that it has warmed over the past 150 years?

You realize that quoting Tim Ball as a climate authority automatically casts doubt on your own credibility in this argument. 

Don't be disingenuous. What we're discussing here is man made climate change. 

Wow Bruce, what an impressive contribution. Now let’s take this a bit further: what would you recommend we do with these people: take away their jobs? punish them? Put them in jail? Kill them? Treat them as terrorists?

I think the holocaust was real, but if you would ask me to prove that… I really couldnt. I  simply believe it. (And I have seen the sorry fate of some people who dared to ask questions about it).

I also think the earth has been warming lately. But I do not think that this will go on indefinitely, and nor do I think that it will be a big problem and nor that humans have much to do with it. Does that make me a denier? Do I deserve the same treatment as a holocaust denier?

I think you are missing the point: you still refer to RealClimate when two prestigious scientific committees have made clear that there are reasons to consider anything that comes from this site with suspicion. These people are in deep trouble, because although they use the word 'science' very very often…. if they do not give access to their raw material they violate that science themselves. You wouldnt buy a car from a salesman who doesnt allow you to look under the hood. In science such behaviour is much much worse and that is precisely what Mann et al have been doing fact that most of the proxy evidence shows local temperatures rather than global temperatures made them less certain about the pre-1600 data. It did not, by any stretch of the imagination, say that Mann's conclusions were wrong.

theo,

the hockey stick is one small part of the climate argument, and certainly not the only. you can lose the hockey stick (tho i don’t think it’s necessary) and still have heaps of evidence for human induced climate change. in fact, this is why there is a “scientific consensus:” because thousands of scientists, working with different areas of research, are consistently finding confirmation of the base principles of climate science: a) climate change is happening, b) human’s are having a big impact on climate and c) a and b are bad news. 

this, actually, is how science works. many different and independent bits of evidence, cross-referenced and corroborating, give a full picture. all of this feeds back into climate models, and the kicker for a scientific theory is when it becomes verifiably predictive: that is, the theory predicts X, Y, Z and then X, Y, Z actually happen. As with climate change (reduction in glacier size, changes in animal migration patterns, increased frequency of storms etc etc etc).

if you like graphs, here is my favourite:

This shows you what the climate looked like over the last 400k years, and it’s relation to CO2 (scroll up). Note that the past 10k years have been relatively warm & stable. also, human civilization coincidently developed during this 10k years.

if you like human civilization, then you’ll want to avoid those big spikes (hot) and big dips (cold) … both of which mean instability, meaning bye bye agriculture systems, meaning bad news all around. 

denial of climate science is similar to denial of evolution: picking little bits of conflicting information doesn’t invalidate the rest of the evidence, which is overwhelming. 

Hugh,

You say “you can lose the hockey stick (tho I don’t think it’s necessary) and still have heaps of evidence for human induced climate change”. Can you tell me why the IPCC have ‘lost’ the Hockey Stick graph then if it isn’t because it’s totally discredited?

You claim there’s “heaps of evidence for human induced climate change”. Please show me, not another computer model, but an actual/real high CO2 related to temperature chart in either the last 420,000yrs or recent please?

You claim also;

a) climate change is happening - where?
c) a and b are bad news - like what type of bad?

Can you show the chart you omitted regarding “climate looked like over the last 400k years, and it’s relation to CO2 (scroll up).”

You say “human civilization coincidently developed during this 10k years… if you like human civilization, then you’ll want to avoid those big spikes (hot) and big dips (cold) … both of which mean instability, meaning bye bye agriculture systems, meaning bad news all around..”

I agree Hugh the cold is bad news (less plants and therefore less animals and men) but we’ve survived through 400,000 yrs (not 10,000yrs) of cold spells. However I disagree the hot spells are ‘bad’. They are ‘very good’ in fact for all - they lead to the greatest growth of plants, insects, animals, fish and man. The last warm Medival period was 2 Degrees warmer than today, how was it ‘bad’?

Theo,

The previous post was NOT suggesting any kind of punishment for global warming OR holocaust deniars.  He was merely equating the level of their credibility.

I’m glad to see that you acknowledge that the earth is warming (pretty hard for anyone to deny that anymore, though the deniars certainly tried for a long time), but your faith that humans have little (if anything) to do with it isn’t based on evidence.  Therefore, I’ll give your GW denial the same level of credibility I give the holocaust deniars.  You are free to believe that, but I won’t take you seriously until you present an extraordinary amount of evidence that contradicts the extraordinary amount of evidence supporting the human factor of GW.

Hey Computer Scientist, if you’ve got ‘extraordinary amount of evidence supporting human warming’ can you give it to the IPCC because they haven’t got any!! All the IPCC have got are computer-game simulations of CO2 driving temperature. That’s it!

Nobody has got any link science between CO2 and temperature going up in 420,000yrs, in fact all the geological evidence points in the oppostite direction!

As for the temperature records the last 7yrs have hardly changed despite a 20% increase in CO2. Same now as from 1940 onwards.

Likening me to a Holocaust denier suggests to me you need to grow up before someone gets hurt. If you can’t debate without dragging it down the gutter go see a stress manager ok and while you’re at it brush up on your climate science.

How do you know how warm the earth is?

I know how warm my backyard is but I haven’t instrumented the earth for temperature and neither has anyone else.

Of course the earth is warmer than it was “before” but its also colder than is was “before” It always depends on just which “before” suits your purpose doesn’t it. I don’t have faith in anything - show me. Why do you have “faith” that humans need to be taxed and controlled to hold back the tide, tame the tempest, or modulated the temperature to your desired setting.

I see only extraordinary PR and outright fraud but Zero evidence of anything.

The issue of whether people who “dare to ask questions” about “the Holocaust” should be put in prison, as can happen and has happened in some Western European countries deserves consideration in its own right more than instrumentalization for extraneous purposes.

The idea that it might be appropriate for people who share the political analysis of this blog to start thinking about demanding legal prohibition of the view that there can be, or is, no proof of a causal connection between human activity and climate change is something I examine in an article on Paul Crutzen’s recently publicized proposals to fill the stratosphere with sulphur to mitigate climate change.

The article is on line at http://www.climateimc.org/?q=node/611

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At 9:35 p.m. on Saturday, May 30, Greeley, Colorado was struck by a 3.4 magnitude earthquake. Earthquakes are highly unusual in eastern Colorado, raising speculation that it was a “frackquake” — a man-made earthquake stimulated by the disposal of contaminated drilling water in deep injection wells. This disposal technique forces wastewater generated from hydraulic fracturing (fracking) deep into underground rock formations, lubricating layers of rock that would not ordinarily be subject to movement.

Earthquakes are so rare in eastern Colorado that the U.S....

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