Think the Climate Denial Industry is Dead? Think again

Fri, 2008-05-09 10:32Kevin Grandia
Kevin Grandia's picture

Think the Climate Denial Industry is Dead? Think again

Joe Romm at Climate Progress has the results of a new Pew Research Center public opinion study showing that there still remains a major discrepancy between public opinion and what the scientific community worldwide is saying about the causes of global warming.

For those who think the denial industry is dead, take a look at these numbers:

  • 71% of Americans say there is solid evidence of higher global temperatures, compared with 77% at the beginning of last year.
  • Roughly half of Americans (47%) say the earth is warming because of human activity, such as the burning of fossil fuels.
  • Nearly as many people (45%) say that rising global temperatures are either mostly caused by natural environmental patterns (18%), say they do not know the cause of warming (6%), or say that no solid evidence of warming exists (21%).
  • More than half of people under age 30 (54%) believe that the earth is warming mostly because of human activity compared with only 37% of those ages 65 and older.
  • About seven-in-ten (69%) of those who believe that human activity is the cause of warming say that this is a very serious problem, compared with 33% of those who say warming is caused by natural patterns, and 7% who do not believe the earth is warming.
  • Although most Americans say that global warming is a very or somewhat serious problem, it ranked at the bottom of the public's list of policy priorities for the president and Congress this year. In January 2008, only 35% of Americans said it should be a top priority for the president and Congress this year, down slightly from a year earlier (38%).
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Previous Comments

in Kevin’s list. It’s a cold year and folks are more focussed on the economy and the US differs from a lot of other western countries, so that explains a lot. But this: “33% of those who say warming is caused by natural patterns” say the warming is “a very serious problem”. I’m amazed that’s not in the single digits. First, there’s the idea that ‘natural’ problems don’t require serious attention; second, and more important, is a human tendency to polarize and justify (as in, “I don’t like gov’t intervention, warming won’t be bad enough to warrant any intervention, and besides most of the people who side with me on those positions say we didn’t cause the problem anyhow”). So, I guess I see some positive aspects of these results.

Climate Denial Industry? When will you liberals take you hands off your eyes and ears and realize that there is a mountain of evidence to refute your shaky conclusions. Science is not about declaring something is true. It’s about making a hypothisis and then working in an honest, unbiased and open-minded manner to prove or disprove the hypothisis. No evidence should be ignored and nothing is ever fully “settled”.

Most of Al Gore’s movie has been discredited(ie The Polar Bear population is thriving!). It is based on fiction and junk science. The fact that AIT is now the holy grail of the left is proof how brain dead you all are.

Where is your objectivity?

to drop a pile of unsubstantiated assertions, sport.
You’d think you could find at least one or two tidbits from that ‘mountain of evidence’ to dazzle us with.
But before you go off to look for some on google, keep in mind that opinion pieces and editorials do not count as evidence.

Oh great science-protector, is this a joke? Call someone a liberal and then claim objectivity. Talk about science and then attack a politician and a movie. Make claims about a mountain of evidence and then don’t cite any. Make claims about open-minded, unsettled science and then write about “proof how brain dead you all are.”
Where is your sense of irony?

I have to declare that I am a skeptic. Could you please direct me to literature that declares carbon dioxide, or even carbon alone drives climate?

Also, could you direct me to literature that shows all warming sources on the earth and their percentage that has contributed to the warming trend seen from the 70’s to 1998 and exactly how those changed in 1998 to stop warming?

Anyone could see from your strawmen that you aren’t here to discuss the science. Write reasonable questions and you’ll get reasonable answers. Write reasonable questions on a site dedicated to explaining the science and you’ll get reasonable answers that are really good. Here, reasonable answers to crappy questions are more likely to look like this: 1. Even Gore’s AIT doesn’t claim that CO2 alone drives climate. The IPCC certainly doesn’t. 2. Look at the attribution components of detection and attribution studies or look at the IPCC’s information on forcings to get an idea of contributions to the warming. 3. Groan, El Nino and La Nina – use google or go to any number of sites that explain that global warming didn’t end in 1998.

(note to desmog management – the captcha validation thing sucks, do back slashes count?, I’ve been rejected more than 7 times [I’m using Firefox])

Maybe you misunderstood as english is not your primary language or some other excuse.

The question was very specifically reaserch that shows that CO2 or carbon alone DRIVES climate, not is solely responsible for all climate change.

My next question was very specific, of the 0.6C that we have seen in the whole century, exactly how much is due to CO2, how much due to methane, how much due to solar activity, how much due to deforestation, etc etc etc … That way we could prioritize the solutions.

I realize this past year was cold due to the El Nina, the PDO only changed this year, how does one explain 1998 - 2007?

P.S. Also in firefox and failing validation … I may be a bad typer, but I’m not that bad.

Read the IPCC Reports

Or other reliable entry-level materials available at:
If you haven’t found solid scientific information to answer your questions, you aren’t really looking. There’s tonnes of information out there.

Fern Mackenzie

Though i have read through a lot of the data at the IPCC I still haven’t seen my specific questions answered. Perhaps you could instead link to a document that answers this instead.

Since we have witnessed warming from 1900-1940 or so and then again from around 1970-2000 or so, and CO2 levels are increasing faster now than they were at the start of the century but warming was about the same for each period, how is the percentage of warming of each category of warming different now than then?

I think you should visit the RealClimate link I provided above. Your question suggests that you don’t have much of a grasp of the basics. Follow that url to explanations written specifically for lay-folk by real climate scientists.

Fern Mackenzie

since CO2 clearly does not “drive” climate.

A better question would be “does CO2 act as a climate forcing?”

The short answer is that CO2 can act as either a forcing or as a feedback, depending on the circumstances.

For example, at the end of an ice age, warming begins with an increase in solar energy falling on earth’s surface, which is caused not by the sun actually getting brighter, but by changes in the shape of earth’s orbit, the angle of tilt of earth’s axis, and the direction of that tilt relative to the sun. (Google “Milankovic Cycles”)
This gradual increase in energy slowly melts the ice sheets, changing earth’s albedo, or the amount of incoming sunlight that is reflected right back into space, adding yet more warming. The warming also slowly warms the land, melting permafrost and releasing CO2 and methane as organic material in the melting soil begins to decompose. The ocean also warms and as it does the seawater can hold less dissolved CO2 and so still more CO2 enters the atmosphere. And finally, as the atmosphere warms it can hold more water vapour. (Google “relative humidity”) This combined increase in water vapour, CO2 and methane adds much more warming because all three are greenhouse gasses that intercept and absorb outgoing infrared heat energy radiated from the surface and then radiate some of it back down and transfer some of it to non-greenhouse gas molecules through collision, thus keeping some of the energy active in the atmosphere, making both the atmosphere and the surface warmer.

So, to recap, the initial slight warming caused by an increase in incoming solar energy is amplified by two feedback mechanisms, 1) less sunlight reflected back out, and 2) an increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, including CO2. In this case CO2 is acting as a feedback, not a forcing, which is why CO2 increase lags behind the temperature rise in the ice core record.

Now let’s look at a very different situation where there is no initial increase in incoming solar energy, and where the amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is increased by added it directly to the atmosphere. We know that the added greenhouse gas will cause some amount of warming, but since there is no initial warming causing the addition of the gas it is not a feedback, but rather a direct forcing. And that is exactly what we are presently doing: adding a known greenhouse gas directly to the atmosphere. Several of them, in fact, including CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide, plus CFCs and a host of other man-made gases. We’ve increased atmospheric CO2 by almost 38%, methane by almost 150%, and the man-made gases didn’t even exist before we created them. And all of them are acting as climate forcings, not feedbacks.

As for the other questions that you raise, the IPCC report specifically lists and quantifies the estimated warming or cooling for the last century from all major forcings and feedbacks. Perhaps you need to look again more carefully. Here is a graph of forcings and feedbacks from NASA GISS:

As for global warming ending in 1998, there is no evidence that it did. Yes, temperatures have not risen as fast as they did up to 1998, and yes, some years since have not have been as warm as 1998, but why would you expect them to be? Given a world of year-to-year and even decade-to-decade weather variability there is no reason to expect global warming to produce a steady sustained trend year after year. It simply does not work that way. CO2 is not the only thing that can influence climate, after all. So does the level of aerosols in the atmosphere. So does cloud cover. So do natural cycles in ocean circulation. El Nino is partly the cause of the record high temperatures of 1998 for example, while La Nina is partly to blame for this past cold winter. An upwelling cold ocean can absorb a staggering amount of heat energy that would otherwise heat the sea surface and atmosphere. And if you calculate the amount of heat it took to cause last year’s record Arctic sea ice melt you’ll find it’s enough to raise the temperature of the entire atmosphere by almost one full degree C. That’s heat that would have warmed something else if it hadn’t melted a record volume of ice.

Well, my first language is baby talk, but “carbon alone DRIVES climate” – I stand by my evaluation that this is a crappy question. Try again? Maybe point to a place where someone asserts that “carbon alone DRIVES climate” and then a reader will be able to judge what that means and not assume you are setting up a stupid strawman. It’s not even clear to me what you intend to demonstrate with this question.

Next, “exactly how much is due to CO2” – I’m afraid you won’t find that precision anywhere. But I still think my answer was good enough. The radiative forcing estimates are what you’re after. If you need help interpreting W/m2 in terms of degrees C, why are you asking here?

Third, gender problem with El Nina – El Nino in 1998, La Nina in 2008. Noisy system with measurement error in which 3 (1998, 2005, 2007 – statistically indistinguishable from each other) of last 10 years are warmer than any in more than 100 years; 2 of them in the last 4 years, and you are claiming that warming has stopped. Maybe I don’t understand because I still think my answer was good enough – pick a non El Nino year to start (1997 or 1999) and you get a different answer. Wanna try to explain what you mean?

And I still think you should go to a science site where there are threads specific to these issues – this thread is supposed to be about poll results.

A little testy aren’t you Steve? Slow motion collapse of the warmist house of cards starting to get you down?

p.s.(I agree that the captcha validation, besides being pointless, is a pain in the butt.)

This colder weather is really making me optimistic about the near term future. I feel awesome. Relative to a lot of other discussion I think my comment was very civil. Why are you always accusing me of being testy? You made two wrong assumptions in your first two questions. Why is that?

Hey Zog;
I think more than just Steve is getting testy. Or perhaps nervous.
All of Troll’s posts are now being censored.
Does that tell you somthing about how scared they are now about protecting the elusion. Interesting.

Troll spells badly too, and Gary apparently knows something that others couldn’t. Hmmm.

Hi Gary, haven’t heard from you for a long time. Have you had time to consider our bet yet? You said you wanted to think it over. Now with all the global cooling stuff you should feel extra confident. I’m still pretty confident that increasing greenhouse gas concentrations will intensify the greenhouse effect. Let me know about the bet.

But with respect to “testy” … look at my first comment – it was actually respectful of the post’s topic, and it was about my optimism.

Troll, Gary and Zog are sockpuppets.
The name Troll is self expanatory.
Gary and Zog are peas in a pod. Note the similarity in style, which includes spelling, insults and phrasing.

Yes Troll=Gary
I got miffed at first being called names, like troll, Filthy liar, Fool etc. But then I kind of liked the idea so I just went with it.
Saved time for people who can’t comment without slinging insults too.

Anyway, I am a bit surprised that you would want to bring up the bet.
Good on you for sticking to your convictions.
I’m impressed.

I think the writing is clearly on the wall now though. As I recall, my assertion was that 2008 would be colder than 2007. Seems that many scientists are now predicting that and that the next 7 or 8 years will be cool as well.
Bet? I still think it could be fun but still think the money should go to a charity.
I could not see myself ever volunteering to give money to any political party.
It may be difficult to communicate it though, as my posts seem to be censored out a lot these days.
BTW. Just so you know, I never did call any of those interviewees liars. My comment was misunderstood. (intentionally?)

Have a look over at RealClimate’s post on the subject of global cooling ([space inserted] global-cooling-wanna-bet/langswitch_lang/im)

Even the guys they are challenging are only proposing that there will be a temporary plateau in global warming for a few years before it resumes. We are not talking about a reversal into an incipient ice age here. These things are tracked over decades – centuries.

It amuses me that AGW deniers routinely trot out the line that climate has changed in the past and will continue to change. They rattle on about things that happened over the course of eons, timespans that none of us can even begin to comprehend, and then do the AHA!” thing when temperatures wobble downward for a couple of years as if it is proof of anything.

Gary (and it is nice to be able to address you by name), please explain to me in a few sentences if possible why it is that you believe the collective scientific findings about the impact of human CO2 emissions is not credible? I genuinely want to know why you dismiss the work of thousands of climate scientists, worldwide, who are warning of dire consequences if we do not curb our CO2 output. I am not ready to dismiss you as a “fool” or a “filthy liar” without knowing why you distrust the body of scientific evidence that human beings are having an impact on the environment. I’m baffled. Help me here.

“…the work of thousands of climate scientists, worldwide, who are warning of dire consequences if we do not curb our CO2 output.”

Fern are you out of your tree? Thousands of scientists? Several dozen more like. And puleez don’t blather on about the 2,500 IPCC members[tm] very few of whom have done even the climate modelling that warmists generously define as “research”. Appointments to the IPCC are mostly political, which isn’t necessarily bad, but certainly isn’t a good sign. Even the chairman, a professional bureaucrat, has no background in climatology or, for that matter, in any earth science.

As you know, exactly 51 IPCC members signed of on the last report, and one hopes that they actively contributed to it, or at least read it.

ZOG, the majority of climate scientists who have contributed to the knowledge base in climatology are not authors of the IPCC Reports. If you want to know how many scientists are doing research in and support the science then the proper place to look is in the reference lists at the end of each chapter in WG1, WG2 and WG3. I am not going to do it for you but you seem to have lots of time on your hands, why not do something useful for once and take a count of the number of scientists whose work was referenced in the latest IPCC report? I’m sure the total will be well in excess of 2000.

Ian Forrester

Sheesh, one more issue wrt “testy” – It’s the warmists who contend AGW will have serious negative consequences; it’s guys like Troll and Zog and Tim Ball who say global warming brings net benefits. Who should be happier during relatively cold years?

I’m off to the field for a few days. I hope everyone can enjoy the outdoors as much as I will.

Come on, Steve. When did I ever say that global warming brings net benefits? I may have said something like, “I don’t give a s**t one way or the other.” As any earth scientist will happily tell you (possibly at great length) climate changes - although never as radically as daily weather. Most people never notice climate change because it’s virtually imperceptible. Right now, we seem to be entering a cooling cycle but, that’s no more a big deal than the slight warming in the last few years of the 20th century.

Life goes on, and instead of trying to control the climate by adjusting in-house thermostats, move a couple of degrees north, or south depending on your tastes.

Have a good trip. Hope you get a couple of good keepers for the frying pan.


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