climate science denial

How to Use Critical Thinking to Spot False Climate Claims

Cat graffiti with question marks on a wall

By Peter Ellerton, The University of Queensland

Much of the public discussion about climate science consists of a stream of assertions. The climate is changing or it isn’t; carbon dioxide causes global warming or it doesn’t; humans are partly responsible or they are not; scientists have a rigorous process of peer review or they don’t, and so on.

Despite scientists’ best efforts at communicating with the public, not everyone knows enough about the underlying science to make a call one way or the other. Not only is climate science very complex, but it has also been targeted by deliberate obfuscation campaigns.

EPA Chief Downplays Global Warming as Unexpected Climate Impacts Stack up

Cape Town, South Africa

Scott Pruitt, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is well-known for his comments denying the established science of climate change, and this week he touted yet another talking point of the climate denial community.

“I think there's assumptions made that because the climate is warming, that that necessarily is a bad thing,” Pruitt said in an interview with Nevada's KSNV television and as reported by E&E News. But from Cape Town, South Africa's water woes to mercury in melting permafrost, the decidedly negative impacts of global warming are already manifesting themselves, often in unexpected ways.

Spotlight on Climate Science Denier Kathleen Hartnett White

Kathleen Hartnett White

For more than three months, the Trump administration tried to get climate science denier Kathleen Hartnett White confirmed for a top environmental post in the White House. But last week, the administration officially withdrew its nomination of Hartnett White, a clearly unqualified candidate who could have had dangerous implications for environmental and public health.

Trump was so committed to Hartnett White that he renominated her after the Senate failed to act on her nomination the first time. But in the end he couldn’t get this climate denier confirmed as the new chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, which coordinates environmental policy across federal agencies.

Who is Kathleen Hartnett White and why did she represent such a danger?

200+ Scientists Want Trump-Backer and Climate Denial Funder Rebekah Mercer Kicked Off Natural History Museum Board

Rebekah and Robert Mercer

By Julia Conley. Cross-posted from Common DreamsCC BY-SA 3.0 US

More than 200 scientists have called on the American Museum of Natural History to cut ties with board member Rebekah Mercer, the billionaire backer of President Donald Trump who has also funded “climate denial” groups in order to protect the fossil fuel industry's pollution-causing extraction of oil and gas.

“We ask the American Museum of Natural History, and all public science museums, to end ties to anti-science propagandists and funders of climate science misinformation, and to have Rebekah Mercer leave the American Museum of Natural History Board of Trustees,” wrote the group, which includes James Hansen, who first brought climate change to the U.S. government's attention in 1988, and other prominent researchers.

Will Mainstream Media Be Duped in 2018 by Climate Denial Spin Doctors?

Will 2018 be the year that mainstream media is not duped by professional spin doctors and fake experts paid to downplay and deny the realities of climate change?

Call me cynical, but after more than a decade of research and writing into the role big fossil fuel companies have played in sponsoring coordinated attacks on climate science with public relations spin, I remain unconvinced we won’t see a resurgence in climate denial.

Later this year, a major update on the state of climate change research — the impacts, solutions, scientific underpinnings, etc. — will be released by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

How do you Spot a Climate Science Denial Blog? Check the Polar Bears

Polar bear and climate change

In an era of #fakenews, it can sometimes be tricky to work out what is legitimate scientific reporting, and what is, well, fake. New research suggests there's a handy rule of thumb for spotting the work of climate science deniers, however: look for the polar bears.

One of the most glaring differences between legitimate science-based blogs and those that deny the science on anthropogenic climate change is how they write about polar bears and Arctic sea ice.

Here's the Teacher-Friendly Antidote to Heartland Institute's Anti-Science School 'Propaganda'

The Teacher-Friendly Guide to Climate Change

On a Monday morning at the end of October, Rob Ross asked a group of earth scientists and educators a question: How many of them had received copies of the Heartland Institute book Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming?

You could feel an immediate sense of frustration in the air. Roughly half of them raised their hands. The Heartland Institute is a Chicago-based think tank that rejects the scientific consensus that humans are changing the climate and has received funding from the conservative billionaire Koch brothers and fossil fuel industry.

In March, it mailed, unsolicited, a 135-page book and accompanying DVD to tens of thousands of science teachers at public high schools across the U.S., with plans to keep that up until the report was in the hands of every last one.

How Climate Science Deniers Manufacture Quotes to Convince You the United Nations Is One Big Socialist Plot

United Nations climate negotiators

We’re at that time of year when delegations from countries around the world gather for the latest round of United Nations climate negotiations — this time in Bonn, Germany.

For climate science deniers, this is also the time of year to polish up their dodgy climate science talking points and those mythical conspiracy theories about the UN, new world orders, secretive global government plans, and other such illuminati activities.

One recurring feature of these efforts is what's known as quote mining, where lines are taken out of context to try and discredit people associated with climate science or the UN. If that doesn't work, then just make up words that people never said.

Exxon Changed its Tune on Climate Science, Depending on Audience, Study Shows

By Dave Levitan. Crossposted from Climate Liability News.

A peer-reviewed analysis of 37 years of communications from ExxonMobil concluded that the oil company has misled the public for decades about climate science and climate change. When their communications were aimed at the public and non-scientific audiences, they focused on doubt and uncertainty. At the same time, the company’s internal communications and peer-reviewed science broadly agreed with the scientific consensus that fossil fuel burning is warming the planet.

Available documents show a systematic discrepancy between what ExxonMobil’s scientists and executives discussed about climate change privately and in academic circles and what it presented to the general public,” the study concluded. It was researched and written by Harvard professor Naomi Oreskes and Geoffrey Supran, a postdoctoral fellow in Harvard’s Department of the History of Science.

Red Team-Blue Team? Debating Climate Science Should Not Be a Cage Match

Boxing match

By Richard B. Rood, University of Michigan

Scott Pruitt, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, has called for a “red team-blue team” review to challenge the science behind climate change. “The American people deserve an honest, open, transparent discussion about this supposed threat to this country,” he said on a radio show, adding he hoped to hold the exercise in the fall.

Most commonly, red team-blue team reviews are used as a mechanism to improve security of information systems or military defenses. The blue team is associated with an institution, the owner of an asset or a plan. The red team is charged with attacking the blue team, with the goal of revealing vulnerabilities.

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