Climate Change Denial Isn't About Science, or Even Skepticism

Mon, 2012-03-12 12:59Guest
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Climate Change Denial Isn't About Science, or Even Skepticism

Cross-posted from the David Suzuki Foundation's Science Matters blog. By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Editorial and Communications Specialist Ian Hanington.

Let's suppose the world's legitimate scientific institutions and academies, climate scientists, and most of the world's governments are wrong.

Maybe, as some people have argued, they're involved in a massive conspiracy to impose a socialist world order. Maybe the money's just too damn good. It doesn't matter. Let's just imagine they're wrong, and that the polar ice caps aren't melting and the climate isn't changing. Or, if you prefer, that it's happening, but that it's a natural occurrence — nothing to do with seven billion people spewing carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere.

Would it still make sense to continue rapidly burning the world's diminishing supply of fossil fuels? Does it mean we shouldn't worry about pollution?

We could pretend global warming isn't happening, or that humans aren't a factor if it is. That would be crazy in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, but even if it weren't, there would still be no reason to continue down the road we're on. Energy is at the heart of modern society's needs, but when the source is finite, it seems folly to be hell-bent on using it up in a few generations, leaving the problems of depletion and pollution to our children and grandchildren. The longer we delay implementing solutions to our energy challenges the more costly and difficult it will be when we have to face the inevitable.

So, why do so many people insist that we remain stuck with outdated and destructive systems and technologies? Why do so many try to throw roadblocks in the way of progress and solutions? And what can we do about it?

Many books and studies have addressed the first two questions, including Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, and Climate Cover-Up, by James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore. Those show that huge sums of corporate money have been spent on campaigns to sow doubt and confusion about issues ranging from the dangers of smoking to threats to the ozone layer to climate change. It's all about protecting corporate profits and interests. That doesn't explain why so many ordinary people buy the industry spin, but a number of theories have attempted to shed light on that phenomenon.

What's important, though, is for those of us who rely on facts rather than spin to look at solutions. We can all do much more to reduce our environmental footprints, but the problem has grown so much that large-scale efforts are needed, and many of these must come from decision-makers in industry, government, and academia. However, there appears to be reluctance in some of those circles to act unless the public demands it. And so it's up to all of us to become informed. Then we can hold our leaders to account and challenge those who refuse to see the big picture.

This public responsibility is especially important in light of stepped-up efforts to deny the reality of climate change or the role humans play in it. Cases in point are illustrated by the denialgate scandal revealed by the release of Heartland Institute documents and the revelation that Ottawa's Carleton University hired Tom Harris, a PR man for a number of astroturf groups with a mechanical engineering background, to teach a course on climate change.

There are many credible sources of information, and they aren't blog sites run by weathermen like Anthony Watts or industry-funded fake science organizations. One place to start is at skepticalscience.com. Click on the tab that says “Arguments” for scientific responses to all the main climate change denier talking points.

Another great rebuttal to the deniers came in a recent article in the New York Review of Books by Yale University economics professor William D. Nordhaus. He said his article, “Why the Global Warming Skeptics Are Wrong”, was “primarily designed to correct their misleading description of my own research; but it also is directed more broadly at their attempt to discredit scientists and scientific research on climate change.”

The misrepresentation of Nordhaus's research is typical of the Orwellian doublespeak deniers employ, but scientists and researchers are calling them on it.

Armed with credible information, we can challenge those who misrepresent science and spread confusion. If nothing else, we'll be able to breathe easier!

Previous Comments

We should “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” with clean energy solutions.

Damn the deniers, full speed ahead!

http://www.ted.com/talks/james_hansen_why_i_must_speak_out_about_climate_change.html

Ah, the oft used “Precautionary Principal”. Which basically says, “Even if we’re wrong about CO2 and CAGW, wouldn’t we still be better off to spend trillions of taxpayers’ dollars on renewable energy that isn’t really proven yet?”. No, I don’t think so.

And there is a real problem with Hansen’s continuing drastic predictions. His latest; “Ten years from now will be too late”, but what happens when 10 years have gone by and we’re still right here with leveling (or falling) temperatures? He will just look like another Green tool clamoring to keep the gravy train going.

When scientists stand up and speak for themselves instead of letting the activists like Hansen do the talking, then people will start to listen. Until then, speeches like this from David Susuki, et al, will go in one ear and out the other.

If you had your head on straight, chas, we wouldn’t have to remind you that Dr. James Hansen is a world leading climate scientist.

“Research shows that more than 97% of scientists actively publishing in the field agree that climate change is real and human caused. It would be an act of recklessness for any political leader to disregard the weight of evidence and ignore the enormous risks that climate change clearly poses. In addition, there is very clear evidence that investing in the transition to a low-carbon economy will not only allow the world to avoid the worst risks of climate change, but could also drive decades of economic growth. Just what the doctor ordered.”

Kevin Trenberth, Sc.D, Distinguished Senior Scientist, Climate Analysis Section, National Center for Atmospheric Research

Richard Somerville, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego

Katharine Hayhoe, Ph.D., Director, Climate Science Center, Texas Tech University

Rasmus Benestad, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, The Norwegian Meteorological Institute

Gerald Meehl, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research

Michael Oppenheimer, Ph.D., Professor of Geosciences; Director, Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy, Princeton University

Peter Gleick, Ph.D., co-founder and president, Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security

Michael C. MacCracken, Ph.D., Chief Scientist, Climate Institute, Washington

Michael Mann, Ph.D., Director, Earth System Science Center, Pennsylvania State University

Steven Running, Ph.D., Professor, Director, Numerical Terradynamic Simulation Group, University of Montana

Robert Corell, Ph.D., Chair, Arctic Climate Impact Assessment; Principal, Global Environment Technology Foundation

Dennis Ojima, Ph.D., Professor, Senior Research Scientist, and Head of the Dept. of Interior’s Climate Science Center at Colorado State University

Josh Willis, Ph.D., Climate Scientist, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Matthew England, Ph.D., Professor, Joint Director of the Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Australia

Ken Caldeira, Ph.D., Atmospheric Scientist, Dept. of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution

Warren Washington, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research

Terry L. Root, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University

David Karoly, Ph.D., ARC Federation Fellow and Professor, University of Melbourne, Australia

Jeffrey Kiehl, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research

Donald Wuebbles, Ph.D., Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois

Camille Parmesan, Ph.D., Professor of Biology, University of Texas; Professor of Global Change Biology, Marine Institute, University of Plymouth, UK

Simon Donner, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Canada

Barrett N. Rock, Ph.D., Professor, Complex Systems Research Center and Department of Natural Resources, University of New Hampshire

David Griggs, Ph.D., Professor and Director, Monash Sustainability Institute, Monash University, Australia

Roger N. Jones, Ph.D., Professor, Professorial Research Fellow, Centre for Strategic Economic Studies, Victoria University, Australia

William L. Chameides, Ph.D., Dean and Professor, School of the Environment, Duke University

Gary Yohe, Ph.D., Professor, Economics and Environmental Studies, Wesleyan University, CT

Robert Watson, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Chair of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia

Steven Sherwood, Ph.D., Director, Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Chris Rapley, Ph.D., Professor of Climate Science, University College London, UK

Joan Kleypas, Ph.D., Scientist, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research

James J. McCarthy, Ph.D., Professor of Biological Oceanography, Harvard University

Stefan Rahmstorf, Ph.D., Professor of Physics of the Oceans, Potsdam University, Germany

Julia Cole, Ph.D., Professor, Geosciences and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona

William H. Schlesinger, Ph.D., President, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

Jonathan Overpeck, Ph.D., Professor of Geosciences and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona

Eric Rignot, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Professor of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine

Wolfgang Cramer, Professor of Global Ecology, Mediterranean Institute for Biodiversity and Ecology, CNRS, Aix-en-Provence, France

Check With Climate Scientists for Views on Climate

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204740904577193270727472662.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_MIDDLEThirdBucket

Michael Mann - A Look Into Our Climate: Past To Present To Future

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElI-XVGHCHs

“When scientists stand up and speak for themselves instead of letting the activists like Hansen do the talking” …

then people like you chas will accuse them of being activists and pursuing an agenda.

 

but Hansen is hardly “an activist”.  He is one of the most highly regarded climate scientists on the planet.

“”Even if we’re wrong about CO2 and CAGW, wouldn’t we still be better off to spend trillions of taxpayers’ dollars on renewable energy that isn’t really proven yet?”“

No one speaks like that except for exagerating deniers.

“And there is a real problem with Hansen’s continuing drastic predictions. His latest; “Ten years from now will be too late”, but what happens when 10 years have gone by and we’re still right here with leveling (or falling) temperatures?”

Why choose the the time period 10 years from now. While predictions say temps & CO2 will rise, we havn’t got a time machine. Why not look at what he has already predicted & said? Like in 1988 to a senate hearing when he said:

“The earth is warmer in 1988 than at any time in the history of instrumental measurements,” Hansen told senators. “The global warming now is large enough that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause-and-effect relationship to the greenhouse effect … Our computer climate simulations indicate that the greenhouse effect is already large enough to begin to effect the probability of extreme events such as summer heat waves.”

Sweating in the hearing room on a day of 98-degree record heat, Hansen told senators that there was “only a 1% chance of an accidental warming of this magnitude. … The greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now.”

Leveling or falling temps? What did he predict back then? Has it warmed since 1988? Was he wrong?

He will just look like another Green tool clamoring to keep the gravy train going.”

Hansen was correct & was & is paid for expertise which has been proven correct more times than not.

Were you there disagreeing in 1988? Or just after Incoonvenient truth?

“When scientists stand up and speak for themselves instead of letting the activists like Hansen do the talking, then people will start to listen.”

Your argument is fallacious. Deniers would never listen to any pro AGW scientist, under any circumstance. What you mean to say is, when denier scientists start agreeing, then you will also.

 

“”Even if we’re wrong about CO2”

Chas, a simple question for you. Do you believe CO2 is a greenhouse gas?

Sorry, but Hansen, in his old age, has evolved into a hard core activist. There’s absolutely no denying it. Hansen is more interested in getting arrested at the Keystone protests these days than doing any actual ‘science’.

He does NOT speak for the average Climate scientist anymore and that has hurt the credibility of the whole ‘movement’ in the opinion of many rational thinkers on both sides. Spend some time reading Dr. Judith Curry’s Climate blog and you’ll understand what is really going on with the current science and opinion.

 

As you do.

for your repeated failure to acknowledge that Dr. James E. Hansen is a world leading climate scientist, who like Michael Mann, Gavin Schmidt, Kevin Trenberth, and many more leading climate scientists, is speaking out against anti-science denial.

And the irony that’s lost on anti-science dittoheads like yourself is that your children & grandchildren will likely grow up thanking Dr. Hansen as we do Dr. Sherwood Rowland.

“The UC Irvine chemist, who died Saturday at 85, was one of three scientists who won the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry, The Times reported, for their work “explaining how chlorofluorocarbons, ubiquitous substances once used in an array of products from spray deodorant to industrial solvents, could destroy the ozone layer, the protective atmospheric blanket that screens out many of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.”

Sherwood Rowland, the scientist who saved the world

http://opinion.latimes.com/opinionla/2012/03/sherwood-rowland-ozone-layer-climate-change-debate.html

If you want to know what climate scientists have concluded, read their papers and non-technical abstracts, which can be found for most  papers these days. If you want to know, do not rely on the blog of any single scientist especially one that hasn’t published a paper in quite awhile and has spotty record over the years, anyway. And whose last paper from 2006 paper in no way refutes much less advances a hypothesis overturning what the vast majority of her peers have confirmed in their investigations GHG drven global warming. And which paper is actually about warming climate trends.

http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=Judith+Curry&hl=en&btnG=Search&as_sdt=1%2C1&as_sdtp=on

You can also read threads at realclimate.org if you want to learn from exchanges between many active researchers and understand climatology research directions. 

However, anti-science deniers like chas & PJ, suckered & brainwashed by denier blogs like WUWT backed by tobacco & fossil fuel funded fronts like the Heartland Institute, are not interested in what leading scientists report or say about their research & the actual climate science.

Unleashed by denier bloggers like Tony Watts & spoon-fed by denier outlets like FAUX NEWS & Joe Bastardi, they infest science blogs in various incarnations – some more obvious than others – to willfully bash climate scientists & trash the climate science to create the illusion of a science debate in hopes of spreading doubt & disinformation amongst unwary readers.

All to serve the incessant greed-lust of Big Oil & Dirty Coal & their allies who expect limitless mega-billion profits by delaying prudent, timely actions to reduce CO2 emissions and deploy renewable, clean energy technologies.

Spend some time reading Dr. Judith Curry’s Climate blog and you’ll understand what is really going on with the current science and opinion.

Spend time reading Dr. Judith Curry’s Climate blog and you’ll understand what one notable contrarian wants you to think is really going on with the current science and opinion. Confirm that thinking by following Lindzen, Spencer, Monckton, Watts et al and you will become a fully-fledged member of the hopelessly confused.

To overcome this condition (which is terminal in only a few cases), stick to reading actual research peer-reviewed and published in reputable journals by those actively researching.

Dr. Judith Curry appears to have gone emerita, as the saying is these days.

Perhaps, she should be encouraged to go omertà.

According to Bjorn Lomborg its not science if its not published in a scientific journal.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bj%C3%B8rn_Lomborg

That was his arguement to back up sticking what ever real scientists consider tripe in his books.  His stuff belongs with Harry Potter, Fox Mulder, and Star Wars and other works of fiction.

“Sorry, but Hansen, in his old age, has evolved into a hard core activist.”

When you have conducted numerous research, published dozens of papers on climate change, gone to senate hearings, given dozens of speeches, written books. What is left to get your word out to people that this is serious shit.

“Hansen is more interested in getting arrested at the Keystone protests these days than doing any actual ‘science’.”

Can you show me a denier scientist that has had an equal amount of research published in top journals like Science, or Nature ?

Here’s Hansens, show me your hand. Maybe you could start at 1981.

http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/authors/jhansen.html

“He does NOT speak for the average Climate scientist anymore”

No just the majority.

 

Chas, you have ignored my question. Is CO2 a greenhouse gas?

 

“We can all do much more to reduce our environmental footprints …”

Coming from Suzuki, who owns large properties in Vancouver, Saltspring Island, Toronto, and Australia; promotes his books by being chauffeured across the country in a diesel-powered rockstar tour bus; and has five children – I’d say he must know what he’s talking about!

“Coming from Suzuki, who blah blah blah”

Ahh yes, one of the deniers favourite fallacies. The Tu quoque fallacy.

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

 

So Suzuki’s utter hypocrisy doesn’t bother you one little bit?

 

“So Suzuki’s utter hypocrisy doesn’t bother you one little bit?”

Well, perception in regards to that is all subjective isn’t it? His 5 kids are from 2 marriages. The first 3 are in their late 40’s & early 50’s. The last 2 in their late 30’s & 40. Should he have said to his 2nd wife 40 years ago, I’m sorry, we can marry, but I can never give you the opportunity of being a mother, because I have already had 3 kids.

It was 40-50 years ago also. He was certainly into science & informing people of the environment, but the climate change debate was hardly the same 45 years ago. Everyone has 20/20 hindsight & wish they had a time machine to do it all again the right way.

Regarding his jetsetting. He has stated he regrets that & wishes he could do everything via video conference. But even with technology as it is, we can’t conduct a video conference with several hundred people. What he is doing is the only way he can address a large audience at once. The alternative is not inform people at all, or have many smaller presentations, which would have an even greater footprint.

Him being wealthy? Are you against capitalism or is it only ok for a denier to be successful & earn a living?

The point is, even though we have a capitalist economic model, we can still do things differently in terms of energy usage & waste. There is no point using an outdated energy source like fossil fuels in the 21st Century, when we have so much else at our disposal. No one is advocating going back to the cave. People like Suzuki are just advocating we can do the same but with less waste, be more efficient and make it so that future generations can enjoy the same level of comfort. I would have thought conservatives would be all over that.

 

that society isn’t pushing for more technology that is more environmentally sensitive like teleconferencing equipment.

Yup… chalk another one up for big oil.  Fly there!

Wow, the convolutions you go through to justify your hero’s hypocrisy is hilarious, I must say.

Clearly, Suzuki doesn’t believe his own urgent propaganda, since he does less than nothing to reduce his “carbon footprint” – which is at least 100 times as large as the average person, if anyone cares about that anymore.  Yet you continue to cling to it.

I’m sure you can cook up all sorts of contorted rationalizations for Suzuki’s multiple luxury properties on different continents.  Between him and Gore, they seem to be trying to outdo Saddam Hussein with his various palaces, private jets and yachts.  Even Saddam had his bitter-ender sychophants who stuck by him to the very last.  Welcome to the club, Phil.

“Him being wealthy? Are you against capitalism or is it only ok for a denier to be successful & earn a living?”

LOL!  I doubt anyone would ever mistake Suzuki for a capitalist.  He’s never had a job in the private sector in his adult life.  He is paid by his taxpayer-funded tenured position at UBC, the government-funded CBC (which inexplicably continues to provide him with his soapbox at taxpayer’s expense), and his books which he promotes under the auspices of his tax-exempt “charity”.

Quite a sweet racket.

Thanks for the reminder on this type of ad hominem.

The instantiation of this fallacy usually reduces to:

Al Gore says there’s Global Warming

I don’t like Al Gore

Therefore there is no Global Warming

Though to wit its often gussied up in pseudo science and jargon but after awhile alot of it really does seem to simply boil down to this.

Al Gore says there’s Global Warming

Al Gore owns four sprawling mansions, including a new one right next to the ocean which he repeatedly claims will rise 100’, flies around in private jets, travels in motorcades, and owns a one-hundred foot yacht with matching jet-skis – while demanding the little people reduce their “carbon footprint” through ruinous taxation policies which he alleges will alter the Earth’s climate to be more pleasant.

Al Gore obviously doesn’t believe his own twaddle enough to act on it,

Therefore, why would anyone else?

See?  No pseudo-science or jargon required.  Just the plain facts.

Alleging that one indvidual is inconsistent w/r/t their lifestyle transmits no useful information about the research science they discuss.

This is like saying: folks on Wall Street say that work ethic and inegrity are the most important things for success, and then when noticing that member of the profession has neither, concluding that hard work and integrity must not matter for success.

So again, your anecdote is meant to impart what exactly about the phenomena under discussion? And/or the body of research science that supports its conclusions?

Alleging that one indvidual is inconsistent w/r/t their lifestyle transmits no useful information about the research science they discuss.

This is like saying: folks on Wall Street say that work ethic and inegrity are the most important things for success, and then when noticing that member of the profession has neither, concluding that hard work and integrity must not matter for success.

So again, your anecdote is meant to impart what exactly about the phenomena under discussion? And/or the body of research science that supports its conclusions?

I refuse to have a battle of the wits with an unarmed man.

Clearly, Suzuki doesn’t believe his own urgent propaganda

+

“while demanding the little people reduce their “carbon footprint”

Yes, Gore and Suzuki are no true Scotsman are they? Otherwise they would live in caves & survive on licking moss from rocks. The converse is ok for Watts with electric car & solar powered house isn’t it?

The curse of knowledge is a frustrating thing. With deniers, the only result is the backfire effect.

 

[x]
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