What did it for me?

The last couple of weeks have been a watershed for me in terms of my own thinking about AGW.

I entered into the post-climategate world with a willingness to see if the emails turned up evidence of a quality and quantity necessary to undermine the foundations of AGW, which I take to be the dominant scientific paradigm on global warming.

When I left this war a year or so ago, I left it thinking that what passed for discussion on the blogosphere was a choice between “AGW is a BRE-X Style Hoax” vs “Skepticism is Just Another Big Tobacco Disinformation Campaign”.

Neither of those are real choices to people with any sense. So, instead of assuming climate scientists are snake oil salesmen or skeptics Beelzebub incarnate, I decided to give the debates another chance.

What did I find?

More of the same.  Small, inconsequential errors, mistakes, out-of-context comments, and normal human foibles were taken and blown out of proportion as part of the denial campaign to halt climate policy and protect vested interests.

This does not mean that all skeptics are in the pocket of EXXONMobil. Far from it. Some of them are just not moved by the evidence due to existing political, ideological or economic interests in the status quo. There are uncertainties in climate science and nothing is 100% certain. But nothing I have seen in the past while has been of the quality to convince me that it is too uncertain to respond to with public policy instruments.  I don’t know what those instruments are — that is beyond me at this point. But there has been nothing to convince me that there is any smoking gun  or case proven to undermine AGW based on the CRU emails.

What pushed me over the top towards AGW was the way small details were taken out of context and used to push a denialist agenda.

I think it was the way certain denialists distorted Mojib Latif’s comments that drove home the fact that there is a clear attempt to distort the facts on the part of the right-wing and denialist brigade.

What was a fairly simple discussion of normal fluctuations on a year and decadal basis by Mojib Latif was turned into screams from FOX News and the likes of Michael Coren and others in the right-wing press that we were headed into a three decades or longer period of global cooling, that the whole global warming theory was falling apart, and that one of the biggest supporters of global warming was recanting.

Here is the lie outlined by Deep Climate in a post titled “Anatomy of a Lie: How Marc Morano and Lorne Gunter spun Mojib Latif’s remarks out of control”

  • Sept. 1: It may well happen that you enter a decade, or maybe even two, when the temperature cools, relative to the present level. – Mojib Latif at World Climate Conference in Geneva
  • Sept. 4: One of the world’s top climate modellers said Thursday we could be about to enter one or even two decades during which temperatures cool. – Fred Pearce, New Scientist.
  • Sept. 5: UN Fears (More) Global Cooling Commeth! IPCC Scientist Warns UN: We are about to enter ‘one or even 2 decades during which temps cool’ – Marc Morano, Climate Depot (CFACT)
  • Sept. 19: Latif conceded …  that we are likely entering “one or even two decades during which temperatures cool.” – Lorne Gunter, Calgary Herald.
  • Sept. 25: Mojib Latif of Kiel University in Germany told a UN conference earlier this month that he is now predicting global cooling for several decades. – Marc Morano, Climate Depot (CFACT).

There, for all the world to see, is the denial mechanism in process — take a statement out of context, and then expand it in a game of media telephone so that we get denialists claiming that “global warming is over” and that a key climate scientist is admitting that it is — it gets reposted on blog after blog until it becomes virtually unstoppable.

This distortion I have seen in evidence time and again such that my craw is full of it.

That’s what did it for me — that and the usual machinations and aspersions cast over at CA and WUWT.

But what also did it for me was the personalization of the attacks I’ve seen at several blogs — the focus on individuals rather than the science.

I’m still going to monitor the blogs and press, and will entertain skeptic points but I expect them to be backed up with some pretty convincing evidence.

About Policy Lass

Exploring skeptic tales.

13 Responses to “What did it for me?”

  1. Dear Policy Lass:
    The AGW hypothesis has really been losing steam the past few months. Marc Morano’s web site is hilarious and wiping the field with fear-mongers. There has long been so much goofy stuff, but now someone aggregates it, with clever illustrations, in one place. Its not that Morano is such a genius as eco-advocates do poor work and are wonderfully easy targets for a talented satirist.

    It would be a great time for you to see the light and come around to a whole new outlook and way of thinking. You are educated and can think for yourself. There is no need to just accept myths and eco-advertising from eco-politicians and pressure groups.
    Instead look critically at their claims and examine the evidence yourself.
    For instand, M&M revealed Michael Mann to be a chump. Their critiques of Mann’s hockey stick, so beloved by Al Gore, was sustained by two National Academy of Sciences reviews. And have you read through the CRU-emails. I read a recent report on them the other day, with commentary. Its good stuff for revealing incompetence and corruption. If you give these emails a sincere read, they should alter your outlooks.

    Idealism is a fine thing. But as we go through life, we can learn we have been misadvised. Its good to be open-minded and keep learning. If you remain a fear-monger, so be it, you will then do so from a stonger basis. But if you are attentive to the topic and study it sincerely, likely in time your views will evolve. Good wishes.

    • I think this tells you all. No acknowledgment that the Morano’s of this world misquoted Latif. Instead a false attack on Mann, and hilariously a reference to reading the CRU e-mails “with commentary”. Of course, that commentary would be by the same type of people who misquoted Latif. What the CRU e-mails clearly show is the *absence* of any conspiracy, *no* evidence of data fudging to increase warming, and *no* corruption. But that does not bother the deniosphere so much. After all, a bit of quoting out of context, making connections where there are none, leaving out that several of the supposedly “hidden” corrections were openly discussed in the peer-reviewed literature, and voilà, “timeforachange” is all convinced.

  2. Marco:
    Are you the Lassie?
    In any event, Mike Mann was an egotistical rascal. He has been revealed to be a scoundrel, for those able to evaluate the evidence.
    If Marco understood a few elements of scientific method, he could read through the Climategate emails, understand the commentary, and be disappointed.
    Call me an optimist, but I am willing to bet our Lassie can grow in future, in her understandings.

    • timeforachange,

      I understand why you wouldn’t put your name to your libel. I have read the stolen emails; I am an active research worker in geophysics, and it is as Marco says. He understates: even the “randomly” selected mails tell proud stories.

      The Lassie has grown nicely recently. As for you, I’m less hopeful.

      • Lassie,

        You are young. It is nice to be idealistic. It would be nice to be able to believe what you have been told by the false prophets.

        But if you stick with studying your topic, honestly, during the years ahead, you will change. On this I am confident. It would be caddish to believe otherwise.

        I am not suggesting you will flip tomorrow and turn on a dime. I am thinking that the longer you study the topic and debate it, the sooner you will realize you are backing the wrong donkey in Mr. Gore.

        • What is it with you lot and Al Gore? Did he steal your toys in kindergarten?

          Scientists don’t back Al Gore on climate change, Al Gore is backing scientists on climate change.

    • Scientists are for the most part egotistical. Scoundrels you’ll find as well (Newton was a true and utter a¤¤hole, but that doesn’t mean he was wrong). Mann is likely to be a bit of both, he’s human after all. Yeah, Marco has enough life experience to have seen just about all.

      Interestingly, unlike you I don’t need a commentary to the climategate mails, as I do not need others to tell me what to read and how to understand it. I read what they say, and then do some digging. Hardly to my surprise I then see the distortions and lies coming from the denio-side (with Morano one of its front figures).

  3. TFAC, youth has nothing to do with anything. I see people on both sides of this debate of all ages. I would much prefer the skeptics and contrarians be right because I have children and want them to have a good life and so on.

    Ultimately, I am just another person. The climate will warm or not regardless of what I think — regardless of what any of us believe. We can all speculate and debate but only time will tell.

    • shewonk:

      Here is where time can turn out to be helpful. When you have heard nonsense, in the name of science, on many different topics, as I have, throught the years, this is useful preparation for being suspicious.

      I know the methodologies of fear purveyors. Though no McIntyre, I can pick apart arguments, see their strengths and weaknesses.
      If something is solid, I have no problem accepting it.

      In any event, yes you, and I too, “are just another person.” As such, there is no reason other than to be pleasant.

      So in this sense, I salute your faiths, hopes, and idealism, and would not wish you otherwise. And I can salute and trust in your intelligence, too.

      • See, for me, it’s a no brainer that this issue has been politicized. Global warming became an issue in a unique period of time in history when many scientists became quite popular — remember Carl Sagan and Cosmos series on television? Or Dr. David Suzuki in Canada and The Nature of Things. We had “A Brief History of TIme” on the bestsellers list, and Feynman’s lectures being read by laypeople like me. There are so many examples of scientists bringing science to the public through various media. I think until this most recent period, since the climate wars became more public, scientists were seen as quite objective and trustworthy. If they said something was a potential problem, you believed them. They were the keeper of the facts.

        When they said that we were at risk by pumping GHGs into the atmosphere, and that it might lead to serious global warming, why would we not accept their claims? Keep in mind the Montreal Protocol and the ozone layer — I think that went a long way towards people accepting the claims of scientists about the risks of global warming.

        This was my position when I first encountered the climate wars. Although I am aware of how science is not removed from the rest of the world, despite claims to the contrary, and that scientists are prone to bias and personal/professional interests that might sway their research choices and influence their opinions, I saw no compelling reason to doubt the findings and evidence presented to the public about global warming.

        I still don’t see compelling evidence that scientists have either unconsciously or consciously manipulated the data to show warming that does not exist, or have tried to deceive the public and are trying to pull off the greatest hoax of all time, as some deniers and contrarians claim.

        I can accept that there may be some over — and under — statement about the risks of global warming. I can accept that there are many uncertainties remaining in the science and the models and that the future is not known with certainty.

        But the claim that the theory of AGW is wrong and the temp record is wrong and the paleo evidence is wrong and the models are wrong and there is no risk of global warming is such a huge leap that I find it hard to swallow. I need really compelling evidence and so far i have not seen it.

  4. Susann,
    You may be interested to learn “what did it” for Anthony Watts. Yes, he also was once a warmer.

    One of the items that had a profound impact on Watts was a graph showing a distinct UHI effect in CA. See Case 6 on http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/01/31/uhi-is-alive-and-well/

    The death of UHI has been been exaggerated.

    • I’m very interested in the UHI effect and Watts’ reasons for switching sides. I have read a bit about it before and accept that there is an UHI effect on temperatures, but perhaps you can point me to peer-reviewed literature providing evidence that supports the contention that UHI is responsible for most of the warming in the 20th C. I was under the impression that GISS and others adjusted raw station data to take UHI into consideration. If there is a literature that shows this is not the case, I’m sure the world would like to know about it. I watched the video on Watts’ website but I need to see evidence that the little experiment is actually sound and backed up by serious research. I find it hard to believe that the father-son team discovered the truth about UHI and global warming. I hope you can appreciate my skepticism on this.

      • Susann, it is difficult to know how much the surface temp record would change if it properly adjusted for UHI. GISS claims to adjust for it, but their adjustments often go in the wrong direction.

        Some good papers on UHI:

        Click to access Unresloved%20issues%20with%20the%20assessment%20of%20multidecedal%20global%20land%20surface%20temperature%20trends.pdf

        Click to access r-302.pdf

        Click to access r-318.pdf

        A warming bias can enter the surface temp record several ways. UHI is just one of them and the effect of UHI may be smaller than some might think. Other factors include microsite issues such as are being studied on surfacestations.org. Yes, I know about the Henne paper but it is based on incomplete data. Microsite issues are different from UHI but the biases are non-random and go in the same direction as UHI.

        Perhaps the bigger issue was found by EM Smith and the drop out of cool weather stations. This has not yet gotten the attention it deserves. It will.

        Skeptics are confident that the surface temp record is not accurate because the atmosphere should be warming faster than the surface. The atmospheric record, measured by satellites and radiosondes, is open and therefore less susceptible to mischief. If the surface is warming less than the atmosphere, then GISS and CRU are exaggerating surface warming.

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