Feb 10 2017

Heartland on Global Warming – Case Study in Propaganda

heartland-institute-unabomberH. Sterling Burnett, writing for the Heartland Institute blog, wrote a revealing post titled: Energy Restrictions, Not Climate Change, Put Civilizations at Risk. In my opinion it is a classic example of misleading propaganda, worthy of deconstruction as a case study.

What Is Propaganda?

I always endeavor to be as clear, thorough, and fair in my writing as possible. I am not saying I always succeed, but that is my goal. I have been influenced by my scientific background where clarity and accuracy rises to the level of obsession in the technical literature. It’s not possible to achieve that level in a non-technical blog, but it is a good ideal.

Propaganda is the opposite of clear, thorough, and fair. The purpose of propaganda is to persuade the reader to an ideological or political opinion, or to impugn or cast doubt on other people or other ideas. Being persuasive in an of itself does not make communication propaganda. In order to rise to that level there has to be a willful distortion of facts, a selective use of arguments and information, and the marshaling of any points that suit your ends, regardless of how fair they are.

Propaganda, like pseudoscience, exists on a spectrum. This further means that there is a demarcation problem – there isn’t going to be a bright line beyond which communication is clearly propaganda.

Burnett’s article shows multiple dramatic examples of what constitutes propaganda, and so should serve as an instructive example. This is not surprising since The Heartland Institute is an ideological think tank. They are not a scientific organization.

Anti-Global Warming Rhetoric

The main point of Burnett’s piece is that using the threat of global warming to push radical anti-fossil fuel policy will cause more harm than good. There is actually a kernel of truth there, which is common in propaganda and makes it more effective. Sure, radical and abrupt restrictions on the use of fossil fuel will have a negative economic impact with lots of downstream harm.

The misdirection comes in the implied claim that accepting such extreme proposals (which he does not name specifically) is the same as accepting the idea of global warming itself. Therefore, if you can argue against the most extreme solutions being proposed, you have somehow argued against doing anything at all, or even that global warming is a problem to be solved.

Burnett was responding to an article by Bill McKibben on Wired. He begins:

In a recent article appearing in Wired.com, radical anti-fossil-fuel activist Bill McKibben claimed human actions are putting civilization at risk.

…McKibben and his ilk propose to end fossil-fuel use as part of their efforts to control the weather 100 years from now.

Right out of the gate he uses loaded language, calling McKibben “radical” and framing his position as being against fossil fuel. The article to which Burnett is responding does not contain anything radical, and does not call for an abrupt end to fossil fuel use. McKibben makes the point that we are where we are now because of scientific and political advancements. He briefly reviewed the work of scientists that allowed us to understand the threat of climate change, and the progress of international diplomacy represented by the Paris Accord (which he acknowledged would not solve the problem). He was stating that these are the better parts of civilization and we need to embrace them, not reject them, if we are going to save ourselves.

The end of the first paragraph attempts to ridicule “McKibben and his ilk” as trying to “control the weather.” This, of course, mistakes climate for weather, a common fallacy among climate change deniers. (Calling them deniers is not, by the way, propaganda as they are literally denying the strong scientific consensus on climate change.)

Burnett follows with a classic maneuver of science deniers – quoting individual scientists who said something that is not part of the current consensus.

“What McKibben fails to mention is Arrhenius, rather than thinking rising greenhouse gas levels posed a threat to mankind, looked forward to the warmer world he thought they would bring.”

McKibben was simply giving a brief overview of scientific advances that built our modern understanding of climate change. He never argued or even implied that each of these scientists was prophetic or completely correct. Arrhenius was the first to calculate the relationship between CO2 in the atmosphere and rising temperatures, in the 1890s. He discovered that the amount of CO2 being released by human industry could be enough to actually alter the climate.

McKibben did not “fail to mention” anything relevant about Arrhenius. That fact that in the 1890s Arrhenius did not have the information to understand the impact of climate change is completely irrelevant to our modern understanding.

The fallacy that Burnett is committing is deliberately misinterpreting McKibben’s reference to Arrhenius as an appeal to authority. Burnett then feels he is free to also refer to Arrhenius as an authority on his musings about the impact of a warmer planet.

Burnett then does it again:

McKibben also lionizes U.S. oceanographer Roger Revelle, the former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, for his early work on global warming.

Alarmed his work on climate was being used in an effort to coerce legislators into taking dramatic actions to fight global warming, in 1991, the last year of his life, Revelle co-authored an article in which he wrote, “The scientific base for a greenhouse warming is too uncertain to justify drastic action at this time. There is little risk in delaying policy responses.”

McKibben did not “lionize” Revelle. This is what he actually wrote:

Think of Hans Suess and Roger Revelle in the 1950s, fumbling toward an understanding that the oceans would not absorb excess CO2—the first modern realization that CO2 must be accumulating in the atmosphere and hence, as Revelle put it, “human beings are now carrying out a large-scale geophysical experiment of a kind that could not have happened in the past nor be reproduced in the future.”

Burnett uses his mischaracterization to then justify quoting a scientist from 26 years ago saying that the science on climate change is uncertain. There is no point in arguing whether or not Revelle was justified in that opinion in 1991, because it is now 2017. The science has advanced considerably since then, and all that matters is the consensus of scientific opinion today.

Burnett next moves on to the Paris Agreement:

The Paris climate agreement is a paper tiger. The emissions cuts it promises are not binding on the countries who signed it, and the agreement carries no penalties for countries failing to meet their voluntary goals.

So first he criticizes climate change “alarmists” for going too far, then for not going far enough. No one thinks the Paris Agreement is sufficient. At best it is a start. McKibben says as much, referencing it to make the point that diplomacy can work. We should do more of it. He also makes the point that if Trump unilaterally abandons the agreement it would be taking a diplomatic step backwards.

Finally Burnett tells us how important energy is:

Fossil fuels are the lifeblood of modern civilization. As Alex Epstein demonstrates in his brilliant book The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, they make possible modern agriculture, necessary to feed the planet’s billions of people, and modern medicine, which has reduced infant mortality and lengthened lifespans.

The logic here is: energy is important, we get energy from fossil fuels, therefore fossil fuels are important. This ignores what McKibben (at least in this article) and others, including myself, are actually saying. The mainstream of those warning about climate change and calling for action are not saying we should immediately get rid of fossil fuels regardless of the consequences to civilization. I’m sure there are some actual radical environmentalists who do say this, but portraying the most extreme position as the mainstream is, again, classic propaganda.

McKibben says in the article nothing, actually against fossil fuels. What he does say is that we need to accelerate adoption of wind and solar. These renewable energy sources are advancing quickly and we will eventually adopt them more broadly. He correctly points out that pace is everything. Our technological advancement is racing against climate change.

I agree with this. What we should be doing is investing in research and development of not only wind and solar, but nuclear as well. We should also be investing in technologies that improve energy efficiency. These advances will all be net gains, even if you don’t accept the consensus on climate change. They will reduce pollution and the negative health effects they bring. They will actually be cost beneficial. Any country that takes the lead in these emerging technologies will have a competitive advantage in the coming century.

Burning fossil fuel is dirty old tech. It is not the future. Further, if 97% of the world’s climate scientists are correct, if we burn much more fossil fuel there will be climate change with massive negative impacts on humanity costing far more money than it will cost to prevent it.

Investing in carbon neutral energy sources is an investment in the future and will save future costs.

In fact I would argue that a free-market pro-industry organization like Heartland should get with the program. They are being regressive by defending the harmful and outdated fossil fuel industry. In fact, all some of us are saying is that the energy production industry should be accountable for their externalized costs created by climate change and the health effects of pollution. If you do that, which is entirely fair, renewable energy sources suddenly become incredibly cost effective.

You have to ignore (deny) the externalized costs to persist in the illusion that fossil fuels are cost effective.

The political right, including the Heartland Institute, would be better served by stopping their denial of reality. Instead they should focus their energy on finding market-friendly and effective solutions to accelerating the technological advancements we need to improve our energy infrastructure, take a leading role in the world, and avoid the worst negative outcomes from burning fossil fuel.

61 responses so far

61 thoughts on “Heartland on Global Warming – Case Study in Propaganda”

  1. SteveA says:

    Good post, but the last para lets it down. Framing the issue as an ideological split between left and right is simplistic and unhelpful.

  2. MWSletten says:

    >The purpose of propaganda is to persuade the reader to an ideological or political opinion, or to impugn or cast doubt on other people or other ideas. Being persuasive in an of itself does not make communication propaganda. In order to rise to that level there has to be a willful distortion of facts, a selective use of arguments and information, and the marshaling of any points that suit your ends, regardless of how fair they are.

    This is the clearest, most accurate description of the level of political discourse in America I’ve ever read.

    >Further, if 97% of the world’s climate scientists are correct, if we burn much more fossil fuel there will be climate change with massive negative impacts on humanity costing far more money than it will cost to prevent it.

    I believe the consensus exists when asking climate scientists whether human-influenced climate change is occurring. But because the answers rely so heavily on modeling, there is far, far less of a consensus when discussing the future impacts, especially economic impacts. Even if there were a 97% consensus among climate scientists regarding the economic impact of climate change, climate scientists’ opinions about economics hold no more weight than economists’ opinions on climate change.

  3. SteveA – I am not framing the issue that way. The Heartland Institute is a libertarian think tank that denies global warming because of its ideology. They are framing the issue that way. The blatant fact is that the political right opposes climate change policy. I am just saying that, in line with their ideology, they would be better served looking for ideologically compatible solutions rather than denying reality.

    Or are you taking the premise that there are no left-right differences in the acceptance of the consensus on climate change, because the facts tell a very different story?

  4. MW – the consensus is not about economic issues, but about the consequences of a warming earth, such as melting ice caps and rising sea levels. It does not take economic theory to know how many people will be displaced resulting from different amounts of sea level rise.

    I agree that there is less consensus regarding outcomes and even less regarding solutions. That is where the political discussion should be, not on the basic scientific facts about which there is strong consensus.

  5. michaelegnor says:

    Steven,

    You don’t mention the most important recent development in the AGW debate–the whistleblower at NOAA who documents outright scientific fraud in advancing the AGW narrative:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/444668/whistle-blower-scientist-exposes-shoddy-climate-science-noaa

    Propaganda isn’t merely what you say; it’s what you don’t say, too.

  6. SteveA says:

    Dr N: “I am not framing the issue that way.”

    You do ‘seem’ to be framing it that way. Since that’s what you wrote.

    “Or are you taking the premise that there are no left-right differences in the acceptance of the consensus on climate change, because the facts tell a very different story?”

    There are plenty of those on the ‘political right’ who value science and its conclusions. Or are you saying that only those on the ‘left’ can do this? I’m sure you’re not, but that’s the root of my objection. You appear to be gathering the right into a single amorphous blob and slapping a ‘Denier’ label on it.

    It would have been more useful to say: “Those who ignore the facts, including the…”

  7. Michael – That is also a nice piece of propaganda. You yourself leave out much detail and distort the record.

    This was an interview with one scientist who complained about archiving methods, something which is a special interest of his. He did not document “outright scientific fraud.” That is a lie.

    In fact in a later interview Bates (the “whistleblower”), said there was no data fraud.

    He said: “The issue here is not an issue of tampering with data, but rather really of timing of a release of a paper that had not properly disclosed everything it was,”

    http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060049630

    His accusation is that they used an experimental model without clearly saying so, they did not properly archive their data, and they rushed to publication. He never said, and there is no evidence, that there was any data manipulation or fraud.

    Further, later analysis of the data shows that the NOAA article (and were are talking about one study here) was in fact correct. https://www.carbonbrief.org/factcheck-mail-sundays-astonishing-evidence-global-temperature-rise

    So you are taking one junior scientist who was complaining about some technical details and blowing that up into the conspiracy theory that all of climate science is a fraud. That is propaganda.

    But, I have not written about this yet because I am still gathering facts. This is a complex issue and I do not want to rush to judgment, as you clearly have.

    You have to be very careful about interpreting what someone does not say or mention. there are lots of potential reasons for it.

  8. rasmur says:

    What role do you believe nuclear energy should play in satisfying our future energy needs, vs. wind and solar, given the safety concerns surrounding nuclear power?

  9. SteveA – Nothing I have ever said can be interpreted as only liberals can be or are pro science. Seriously, that is an embarassing straw man to even bring up.

    Here are the facts: http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/10/04/public-views-on-climate-change-and-climate-scientists/

    15% of conservative republicans think that climate change is due to human activity. This compares to 34% of mod/lib republicans, 63% of moderate democrats, and 79% of liberal democrats. This is a massively partisan issue. That is not my framing – that is reality.

    If you look at politicians, the difference is even more stark. Resistance to measures to mitigate global warming tends to split starkly along party lines.

    Since this article is about the Heartland Institute, giving advice to those on the political right who oppose what they think are radical measures coming from the left, is reasonable.

    Of course, I get the same kind of pushback from the left on issues like GMOs and nuclear power.

  10. rasmur – the safety issues are manageable. Mining coal is far more dangerous. Installing solar panels is actually more dangerous.

    On nuclear energy I think the science favors it, and we will absolutely need it: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/nuclear-power-critical-to-u-s-climate-goals/

  11. BenE says:

    You’d think that people like Michael Egnor would at least make sure the propaganda they post isn’t already debunked on the main debunking websites, like Snopes. But nope.

    http://www.snopes.com/2017/02/08/noaa-scientists-climate-change-data/

  12. edamame says:

    Egnor did you know that bat boy was responsible for the Bowling Green Massacre?

    https://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/media/img/mt/2014/10/batboy1_1/lead_large.jpg

  13. SteveA says:

    Dr N.

    “SteveA – Nothing I have ever said can be interpreted as only liberals can be or are pro science. Seriously, that is an embarassing straw man to even bring up.”

    You just straw-manned yourself. When did I ever suggest that? I even said I was ‘sure’ you weren’t making that point.

    15% + 34% = 49% = an awful lot of the political right who accept AGW.

    My point made. Don’t equate ‘right’ with ‘denier’.

    It’s not accurate and not helpful.

  14. Leavitt says:

    @SteveA

    While I agree that you shouldn’t equate right with denier as you risk alienating people, just wanted to point out your maths error.

    Based on the samples in the Pew research Steve is quoting from I think the correct numbers are 22% of conservative and moderate Republicans combined accept AGW. This compares to 71% for the Democrat groups combined.

    So, yes, we shouldn’t tar the 20% of Republicans who accept AGW with the same brush (nor forget the 30% of Democrats who don’t accept AGW) there is still a pretty stark difference along party lines.

  15. SteveA – I did not equate the two. Saying that climate change denial is on the political right is not the same thing as saying that every conservative denies climate change.

  16. michaelegnor says:

    Steven:

    This is what the whistleblower revealed:

    “The whistleblower, Dr. John Bates, led NOAA’s climate-data records program for ten years and reveals stunning allegations in a lengthy Daily Mail exposé posted February 4. His main charge is that the federal government’s top agency in charge of climate science published a flawed but widely accepted study that was meant to disprove the hiatus in global warming. Bates accuses the study’s lead author, NOAA official Tom Karl, of using unverified data sets, ignoring mandatory agency procedures, and failing to archive evidence — all in a “blatant attempt to intensify the impact” of the paper in advance of the conference.”

    Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/444668/whistle-blower-scientist-exposes-shoddy-climate-science-noaa

    I repeat: “…using unverified data sets, ignoring mandatory agency procedures, and failing to archive evidence — all in a “blatant attempt to intensify the impact” of the paper in advance of the conference.””

    If the CEO of a publicly traded company did this with data to shareholders, he’d be off the prison as we speak.

    We citizens are the shareholders, and the NOAA is a public agency. The data was sifted, selected for support of a pre-arranged hypothesis, published without acknowledgement of the deception, and the evidence for the deception was destroyed. This was done to influence public policy and world opinion at a major climate conference.

    Fraud and criminality of an unusually blatant order, even for climate “scientists”.

    The appropriate management of this is congressional investigation, firing of all scientists and administrators involved, referral to the DOJ for criminal prosecution.

    Thank goodness we finally have a DOJ and government that might actually do the right thing here and enforce the law.

  17. tmac57 says:

    More distortions by Egnor.

    Counter evidence here:

    http://www.factcheck.org/2017/02/no-data-manipulation-at-noaa/

  18. michaelegnor says:

    @tmac:

    “FactCheck” is a far left advocacy organization connected to Bill Ayers and Obama.

    http://www.matchdoctor.com/blog_141905/Factcheck_org_–_A_Fraudulent_Fact_Check_Site_Funded_By_Biased_Political_Group.html

    What the NOAA did is obvious fraud.

    Prosecute the scum. Let the jury decide.

  19. Atlantean Idol says:

    The consensus that human activity has contributed to the warming that has occurred over the past 100 years is sound. The oft-quoted 97% statistic is misleading, however. Nearly half the studies in the Cook survey that produced this statistic did not quantify the degree of contribution; a number of scientists cited in the survey took exception to their view being characterized as stating that man is a major contributor.

    > It does not take economic theory to know how many people will be displaced resulting from different amounts of sea level rise.

    Under a high emission scenario the IPCC projects global average sea levels to rise about one centimeter per year this century:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/10/sea-level-in-the-5th-ipcc-report/

    Relative sea level varies geographically and is actually decreasing in certain areas. There is plenty of time to fortify adversely affected areas or relocate if necessary.

    >[Solar and wind energy] are advancing quickly and we will eventually adopt them more broadly.

    These sources require expensive storage media for reliable electricity dispatch. The scaling of these media is nowhere close to being economically viable with current battery tech and hardly better with alternative media such as compressed air caverns, flywheels, and upstream water reservoirs. Solar and wind would not be on the grid without government subsidies and mandates and are unlikely to reach grid parity within our lifetimes, if ever (probably never, given how inherently dilute and unreliable they are).

    Net metering laws hide the true cost of dumping excess energy into the grid, which forces cycling of reliable fossil fuel plants that provide backup power, thereby reducing overall efficiency (Analogous to the effect of stop-start traffic on fuel efficiency).

    I would love for solar and wind to scale but I don’t see a positive return on such an investment. If you think they are undervalued fund them with your own money, not with my tax dollars.

    >These advances will all be net gains, even if you don’t accept the consensus on climate change. They will reduce pollution and the negative health effects they bring.

    Steve as a physician you know better than most that dosage makes the poison. EPA emissions standards are far below thresholds hazardous to human health. The marginal health benefits of eliminating fossil fuel emissions are negligible (The standards are based on outmoded science, but that’s a separate issue).

    >Burning fossil fuel is dirty old tech. It is not the future.

    Mining the rare-earth materials in solar and wind equipment is dangerous and the manufacturing process involves the use of a number of highly toxic chemicals. Even coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, is overwhelmingly beneficial on net, especially for developing countries. The savings from the use of affordable coal energy can be invested in proven filtration equipment such as scrubbers and limestone absorbers. Hydrocarbons may be “dirty” compared to nuclear (of which I am a major proponent) but unreliables are hardly “clean” by comparison. I used to think coal use was a net negative but having heard the full context about it from Alex Epstein’s interviews with coal experts on Power Hour as well as in The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels I have been convinced otherwise. I highly recommend Epstein’s book, by the way. It provides a full-context, humanist approach to thinking about energy issues.

    http://www.moralcaseforfossilfuels.com/

    >You have to ignore (deny) the externalized costs to persist in the illusion that fossil fuels are cost effective.

    All medicines have side effects. All technologies have costs, some of which may be socially born. Where practical, regulation of such costs is reasonable (emphasis on “where practical” because sometimes the costs of reducing social costs via regulation and expanded bureaucracy are greater than those such measures are intended to reduce). The crux of public policy issues lies in estimation of relative magnitudes. Common sense risk-benefit analysis overwhelmingly favors increased use of hydrocarbon energy for centuries to come. The externalities of hydrocarbon use might even be a net positive when the expansion of arable land, lengthened growing seasons and the fertilizer effect of CO2 is taken into account. Even if they are not, increased hydrocarbon use (among other viable, reliable energy sources) empowers humanity to deal with its negative externalities.

  20. chikoppi says:

    Bates (the “whistleblower”) himself has disavowed the sensationalist and erroneous coverage of his comments in the Daily Mail and elsewhere.

    “Misuse” is the understatement of the year. Misuse it people did – and how! Bates’ complaints boiled down to the fact that the paper didn’t have “a disclaimer at the bottom saying that it was citing research, not operational, data for its land-surface temperatures.” The Mail on Sunday (just banned by Wikipedia as an unreliable source) warped that minor procedural criticism into the sensationalist headline “Exposed: How world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data.”

    The story then spread through the international conservative media like a global warming-intensified wildfire – to Breitbart, Fox News, Drudge Report, Rush Limbaugh, The Daily Caller, The Washington Times, and more. Scott Johnson summed up the fake news story perfectly in an article at Ars Technica:

    At its core, though, it’s not much more substantial than claiming the Apollo 11 astronauts failed to file some paperwork and pretending this casts doubt on the veracity of the Moon landing.

    At the same time, real science journalists who investigated the story quickly determined that it was fake news and published stories reflecting that reality. Readers of legitimate news outlets like The Guardian, The Washington Post, Carbon Brief, E&E News, Ars Technica, Science Insider, RealClimate, and numerous other science blogs were accurately informed, while consumers of biased right-wing news outlets that employ faux science journalists were grossly misinformed by alternative facts and fake news.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2017/feb/09/whistleblower-i-knew-people-would-misuse-this-they-did-to-attack-climate-science

    http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060049630

  21. Bob.Newman says:

    Weather.com had a decent article that covered Dr. Bates along with his updated statements:
    https://weather.com/science/environment/news/climate-change-noaa-controversy-study

    They also referenced that a replication was published by the University of California (I did not read the entirety of the replication study):
    http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/1/e1601207.full

  22. jsterritt says:

    @michaelegnor

    “‘FactCheck’ is a far left advocacy organization connected to Bill Ayers and Obama.”

    This is laugh and a half: you summarily dismiss one news source out of hand, while citing The Daily Mail and its tinfoil hat expert David Rose for authority. Name that logical fallacy: fallacy fallacy, well-poisoning, ad hominem…the list goes on. As for base hypocrisy and stupidity, what could be more absurd than impugning the credibility of FactCheck.org by citing, as you do, an online dating website!? I couldn’t make this sh!t up if I tried.

    Anyway, here is what the Guardian says: “conservative media outlets [e.g., Daily Mail & National Review] launched an attack on climate scientists with a manufactured scandal. The fake news originated from an accusation made by former NOAA scientist John Bates about a 2015 paper by some of his NOAA colleagues.”

    F*cking Snopes has even demolished your myth: “[the] findings have been independently verified, contrary to allegations that the authors manipulated data to reach a desired conclusion.”

    Don’t like Snopes? How about those commies at Science?

    “Thus, this agreement [between findings] represents a replication of the ERSSTv4 result from the same data using a substantially different methodology.” [1]

    Egnor: the world gives you a scientific consensus with a mountain of evidence, and you give us dating sites. Maybe this is a teachable moment and you can learn why you are not taken seriously as a scientist.

    I encourage everyone reading this to check out egnor’s go-to resource for reliable news and unassailable authority. I’m providing egnor’s own link, but urge you to click the “home” button:

    http://www.matchdoctor.com/blog_141905/Factcheck_org_–_A_Fraudulent_Fact_Check_Site_Funded_By_Biased_Political_Group.html

    _______
    [1] http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/1/e1601207.full

  23. MWSletten says:

    Steve> It does not take economic theory to know how many people will be displaced resulting from different amounts of sea level rise.

    That’s true, but I’m not arguing there will be no impact, I’m saying there is no consensus on the severity of the impact. You can’t claim that the negative impact of climate change on humanity will be more expensive than the current proposals offered to prevent it unless you can accurately predict future warming. I don’t know what the consensus is, but I know there are several different warming models in use by different organizations in the field of climate science, and there is quite a wide variation among them as to the severity of future warming. Are you saying even the least severe future warming model supports your claim? Does your claim account for the severe impact of limiting fossil fuel use on the world’s poorest?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/04/opinion/the-poor-need-cheap-fossil-fuels.html

  24. Kabbor says:

    Steve A,

    While it is true that some republicans believe in global warming, your 15% + 34% = 49% is not how to combine those numbers. Those are percentages within their own sub-populations.
    I don’t know what the population numbers are between these two groups of the political right, but if each represents half the population, the math is more along the lines of 0.5 x (0.15)+ 0.5(0.34) = 0.245, or 24.5% of those combined populations believe in global warming. I’m sure the population doesn’t divide exactly evenly as in my example, but you can’t add those percentages together.

    Fun!

  25. bachfiend says:

    Michael Egnor’s habit of insulting anyone who agrees that AGW is happening knows no limit. He even accused Pope Francis of knowing nothing about climate science in a previous thread.

  26. TheGorilla says:

    WHY the kaczynski picture? That’s the real question.

    The best propaganda is market solutions though lol. At best that just leads to environmental disaster of a different kind. At BEST.

  27. MSW – even the current health care costs attributed to existing pollution – 100 billion in the US alone, similar in the UK, make it worthwhile. Any additional cost from global warming just adds to it. Even the most conservative estimates leave a lot of room to invest in future energy technology.

    We definitely have to think carefully about poor countries. Currently they contribute little to overall CO2 release. Richer countries who are currently producing most of the CO2 can lead the way, making the technology cheaper for poorer countries, who can then modernize and grow their economies with renewable energy without doing what China did, which was to create ridiculous pollution. Bejing’s pollution was so bad they literally broke the scale.

    Everything is a gamble as no one can predict the future. But – we can make intelligent investments based upon probabilities.

    And again – this is where I think the debate should be had. How much money should we invest and in exactly which way to accelerate adoption of non-greenhouse gas energy production and energy efficiency? If we did that we could
    – take the lead in new energy technology
    – reduce pollution
    – reduce health care costs associated with pollution
    – save consumers money through energy efficiency
    – reduce dependency on oil from enemy or unstable states
    – Oh yeah, and as icing on the cake, avoid whatever badness results from global warming.

  28. Willy says:

    OMG!! Trashing matchdoctor??? Why, that’s my go-to site for all things factual! I know of a neurosurgeon who agrees with me!.

  29. tmac57 says:

    Egnor is just trolling here. There is a whole class of people now who think intentionally posting inflammatory and extreme ideological nonsense is a hoot, and relish the idea that they are ‘triggering’ people that they are targeting.
    There is no intellectual honesty in the content of their comments, and they never intended there to be. It’s simply a sick sociopathic game to them.

  30. The Sparrow says:

    Here’s a link to that Snopes article debunking the ‘whistleblower’: http://www.snopes.com/2017/02/08/noaa-scientists-climate-change-data/

  31. Willy says:

    tmac No doubt Dr. Egnor enjoys this, but I am certain he is sincere in his beliefs. Uninformed and not scientific to be sure, but sincere.

  32. jsterritt says:

    tmac57…

    I kinda get it, but I’m not sure I’ll ever truly understand the impetus behind trolling. I suspect there must be nearly unlimited reasons for doing it, with the results always looking the same. “South Park’s” last season did a fairly good plumbing of the shallows of the motivations for trolling (basically a shortcut to possessing sham superiority, power, and authority in lieu of the real thing). But what eludes me is how impenetrable and real this illusion must appear to trolls (at least the ones who don’t post pseudonymously or, like HN, take up residency and attempt to keep the plates of their BS narrative spinning) to make them sacrifice every shred of credibility and respectability, and to make of themselves a veritable spectacle of intellectual (and emotional) inferiority.

    My guess is HN is feeding a fantasy that he is an intellectually rigorous and important person. Egnor is more of a more garden variety dolt who let his hobby — and no doubt his ideological bosses — get the better of him (those churchy and/or [insert magical nonsense varietal] folk have been making pawns — and fools — of Egnors since long before AOL and Usenet).

    All I know is that they highjack or derail the OP and then, when I take the bait, I’m doing the exact same thing. Sigh.

  33. mumadadd says:

    I repeat: “…using unverified data sets, ignoring mandatory agency procedures, and failing to archive evidence — all in a “blatant attempt to intensify the impact” of the paper in advance of the conference.””

    If the CEO of a publicly traded company did this with data to shareholders, he’d be off the prison as we speak.

    This logic is brilliant. If I find one priest who eats babies, I exaggerate massively and claim that this is systemic child sex abuse, and I’ve just disproved Catholicism. Good to know.

  34. tmac57 says:

    Trolling is simply a crude attempt at overpowering others by making them dance to a tune that they set. It is pretty much like school yard bullying in the psychological manner (taunting humiliating name calling etc.), but it’s really for cowards, since it is done at a safe distance.
    The thing is, that while other people may be having an honest argument or disagreement, and trying to hash out the facts, the troll comes wading into the fray hurling insults, over the top, unfounded accusations, and generally trying to be as conspicuously nasty and unpleasant and discourteous as possible, with no sincere goal of adding anything of substance to the argument.
    They are there to get a rise (trigger is the term they like) out of people by pushing their buttons, and it works so predictably well, that they feel a sense of power over the people who get drawn in to their web.
    It actually doesn’t matter if the troll believes any part of what they spew, because that is not what they are after, unlike those of us who would just like to understand the issues when we debate and argue. For them, it is about gleefully pissing people off, and they have no intention of listening to anything anyone else has to say, or considering anyone else’s opinion. There is no intellectually honest person behind that mask. Engaging with them directly for any amount of time is an exercise in futility. Countering their misinformation should be directed at outside observers only in my opinion.

  35. MikeB says:

    Michael Ignor, et al. have done us the inadvertent service of posting clearly, for all to see, the abject and desperate nature of denialism

  36. Ivan Grozny says:

    Steve Novella” “MW – the consensus is not about economic issues, but about the consequences of a warming earth, such as melting ice caps and rising sea levels. It does not take economic theory to know how many people will be displaced resulting from different amounts of sea level rise.”

    Do you know what is the “consensus” about sea level rise and melting ice caps?

    Of course, you don’t have a clue. According to IPCC, the expected sea level rise in the 21st century will be between 40 cm and 60cm with “medium confidence” (depending on the rate of warming). So yes, you don’t need economic theory to determine how many people will be displaced by sea level rise – its ZERO.

    https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/unfccc/cop19/3_gregory13sbsta.pdf

    But what it takes the economic theory to understand is: is it cheaper to relocate the people living on the vulnerable coast (over the period of 200-300 years) than to permanently damage the world GDP by draconian carbon taxes that will have detrimental economic effects int he long run, especially on the poorest people?

  37. Ivan Grozny says:

    Michael Egnor and others debating NOAA,

    NOAA data set is notoriously unreliable, time and again adjusted upwards, quite irrespective of the recent “pause buster” paper and the controversy surrounding it. One example. For the US 48 NOAA changed the data in 2014, increasing the warming trend since 1895 from 0.085 F per decade as reported in 2012 to 0.135 F per decade, almost doubling. Nobody has any clue how and why they did it, but here they are: in one year, by sme miraculous “adjustment” NOAA manufactured HALF of the warming in the USA and then reported it as “observed warming”.

    I am not saying that the new “data” is wrong and old right, or vice versa. I am just saying that you should not believe EITHER.

  38. Ivan – I am not proposing draconian carbon taxes, and that is not the only proposed solution. Again, nice example of propaganda – taking an extreme solution and then predicting the worst outcome from that (which is also uncertain).

    What will the impact be of relocating people from many coasts, including islands? how will that affect the poor?

    Or – we could just make our energy infrastructure less polluting, more sustainable, and cheaper, but let’s not get crazy.

  39. Lightnotheat says:

    Once again Grozny and Eignor deminstrate how motivated reasoning works. Start with a position you like for ideological reasons, then look for ways you can massage the data to make it seem to support your position. Cherry pick the evidence you like, do all you can to discredit the evidence you dont like, etc. The thing is, you can do this with just about anything, climate change, GMOs, acupuncture, whatever. A good check for whether this post hoc rationalization is happening is to see if the alleged rationalizer applies the same reasoning in other cases. For example, Eignor is far less critical of evidence for demonic possession than he is of evidence for climate change..

  40. michaelegnor says:

    @Ivan:

    [I am not saying that the new “data” is wrong and old right, or vice versa. I am just saying that you should not believe EITHER.]

    i agree. It reminds me of that wonderful passage in 1984 when Winston Smith feels a pang of guilt about tossing something down the Memory Hole, and then remembers that it was probably a lie too, because it’s all lies.

    @Lite:

    [For example, Eignor is far less critical of evidence for demonic possession than he is of evidence for climate change..]

    Yep.

  41. Lightnotheat says:

    michaeleignor,
    um, your respose to me was, shall we say, not as enlightening as it coul have been!

  42. Lightnotheat says:

    sorry for not getting the name right, egnor not eignor

  43. Newcoaster says:

    @ Michael Egnor

    ““FactCheck” is a far left advocacy organization connected to Bill Ayers and Obama.”

    Hmmm…strawman, poisoning the well, guilt by association. What other logical fallacies are packed into that short statement? Some of us actually think that Obama is a good person who has progressive, science informed views on the topic of AGW. Unlike the current group of idiots in the oval office.

    I really don’t understand the right wings ongoing obsession with Bill Ayers. It is pathetic and desperate.

    I guess you prefer you advocacy from far right organizations like The National Review?

  44. Ivan Grozny says:

    “What will the impact be of relocating people from many coasts, including islands? how will that affect the poor?

    Or – we could just make our energy infrastructure less polluting, more sustainable, and cheaper, but let’s not get crazy.”

    The crucial point here is: NONE of these issues are “scientific”. And all the talk about what 97% or 117% of scientists believe or do not believe about “climate change” has zero relevance for all this.

    Q.E.D.

    “I am not proposing draconian carbon taxes, and that is not the only proposed solution.”

    If you believe the IPCC climate models and believe that levels of CO2 have to be significantly lowered, then emission cuts HAVE to be draconian, whether by direct carbon tax or indirect carbon tax in the form of cap-and-trade.

    And still (you skipped over this), your main bogeyman “ice caps melting and sea level rise” according to IPCC itself will not be a problem at all, at least in the next 100 years. So we are talking how to ‘address’ the non-existing, or very far removed, problem (according to IPCC, not me).

  45. Lightnotheat says:

    Ivan Grozny-
    Obviously the scientific view on global warming is relevent to a discussion of possible remedies, because what remedies we decide to use depend partly on how much of a problem exists. If warming doesnt exist at all, as some would have it, no remedy at all is needed, even if you are an extreme leftist who favors massive government intervention to solve problems. There is no problem to solve. While if warming is ad serious of a problem as the biggest doomsayers claim, almost any halfway reasonable person would agree that SOME kind of governmental action is needed.

  46. bachfiend says:

    Ivan,

    I don’t necessarily believe everything the IPCC publishes. Could the situation be actually worse than its reports state?

    The Arctic Ocean becoming ice free in September won’t add anything to sea level rises. It could happen by 2030 or 2050, both of which are considerably earlier than 100 years.

    Once the Arctic becomes ice free then we’re out of the current Ice Age (with ice at both geographical poles). Once the Arctic Ocean becomes ice free anytime in the Arctic summer, then instead of the Arctic Ocean reflecting 90% of the sun’s energy, it will be absorbing 90% of it, causing increasing and runaway global warming, with Arctic Ocean becoming ice free for increasingly long periods each year.

    At this point in the Milankovitch cycle, with the Earth located furthest from the sun during the Arctic summer, Arctic ice should be increasing. But it’s decreasing, in volume and mass.

    Once the Arctic Ocean becomes summer ice free, then there’s no easy way of causing it to return. Unless we go into albedo modifying experiments, such as the injection of SO2 into the upper atmosphere, which has unpredictable effects too.

    You appear to be happy to leave problems, perhaps insurmountable ones, to our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

  47. Steve Cross says:

    Ivan Grozny,

    According to IPCC, the expected sea level rise in the 21st century will be between 40 cm and 60cm with “medium confidence” (depending on the rate of warming). So yes, you don’t need economic theory to determine how many people will be displaced by sea level rise – its ZERO.

    Really ??? The average height above sea level for all of Florida is 6 feet. That’s less than 200 cm. With many areas (e.g. Miami) as little as 3 feet — less than 100 cm.

    Many areas in southern Florida are ALREADY seeing the effects of rising sea levels. They aren’t waiting to see how much worse another 1 or 2 foot rise will be.

    Storm surges are already more damaging and travel further inland than they used to. But the biggest problem is happening right now with the impact to the infrastructure for water and sewage. Rising groundwater levels are causing huge problems. Seven-eights of their wells have had saltwater intrusion. Sewage lines designed to drain “down hill” no longer do that as seawater leaks into the pipes.

    So, your attitude that “we can afford to wait and see, and it isn’t really that bad anyway” is not only wrong — it is stupid. If you weren’t so busy cherry-picking data to support your own prejudices, you might try to look at ALL of the available information. This stuff is all over the place and readily available.

  48. mumadadd says:

    Ivan Grozny:

    And still (you skipped over this), your main bogeyman “ice caps melting and sea level rise” according to IPCC itself will not be a problem at all, at least in the next 100 years. So we are talking how to ‘address’ the non-existing, or very far removed, problem (according to IPCC, not me).

    [My bold, naturally] We’ll all be dead by the time it gets disastrous, so chill the f*ck out — we don’t need to do anything. Good luck, great-grandchildren, you can fend for yourselves.

  49. Ivan Grozny says:

    “Many areas in southern Florida are ALREADY seeing the effects of rising sea levels. They aren’t waiting to see how much worse another 1 or 2 foot rise will be.”

    Bulshit, sea level increased by 7.5 cm in the last 40 years.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_level_rise#/media/File:Trends_in_global_average_absolute_sea_level,_1880-2013.png

    “I don’t necessarily believe everything the IPCC publishes. Could the situation be actually worse than its reports state?”

    Buddy, you cannot have it both ways: to lambast the sceptics as “science deniers” when you think science supports your case, and to deny science yourself when it does not support you. Yes, it could be worse, but it could be also much better.

    “While if warming is ad serious of a problem as the biggest doomsayers claim, almost any halfway reasonable person would agree that SOME kind of governmental action is needed.”

    the thing is – how “serious a problem” global warming” is, is not a scientific issue. Seriousness of the problem of global warming or even if it is a problem at all, is determined by economics cost/benefit analysis as well by the economic/environmental tradeoffs. None of these questions scientists can solve.

  50. mumadadd says:

    “the thing is – how “serious a problem” global warming” is, is not a scientific issue. Seriousness of the problem of global warming or even if it is a problem at all, is determined by economics cost/benefit analysis as well by the economic/environmental tradeoffs. None of these questions scientists can solve.”

    This is true. Unless they are given “parameters”.

  51. mumadadd says:

    Ahem, sorry:

    “This is true. Unless they are given using “parameters”.”

    ‘given’ implies fed, which implies that scientists are out chasing a political agenda; I trust that the process itself irons that out.

  52. bachfiend says:

    Ivan,

    I don’t accept everything the IPCC reports state because it’s just as much a political document as it is a scientific document. When its various reports have to get through committees in which everyone has to agree including countries such as Saudi Arabia.

    I don’t regard the IPCC reports as being definitive. For my climate science information I go elsewhere.

    Just because the IPCC discounts dismal sea level rises within a century due to not being able to accurately model Arctic ice and snow melting, it doesn’t mean that Arctic melting won’t have adverse effects in other ways.

    And I’m worried by the Arctic Ocean becoming September ice free by 2030 or 2050 leading to the Arctic Ocean becoming ice free throughout summer and the end of the current Ice Age. I think we’ll be in line for a rerun of the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum 55 mya in which global temperatures were 7 Kelvin higher than today due to a natural release of greenhouse gases of similar magnitude to that we’d achieve if we burn all the known reserves of fossil fuels. But in centuries instead of the 25,000 years then.

  53. Steve Cross says:

    Ivan Grozny,

    You might try to work on improving your reading comprehension. I said NOTHING about how far the water has risen so far. I was simply converting the numbers YOU supplied for future predictions. 40cm to 60cm is roughly 1 or 2 feet.

    I merely pointed out that all of Florida (the southern part in particular) is not very far above the CURRENT sea level. Therefore, even seemingly minor (to you anyway) changes could have a dramatic effect.

    And even 7.5cm (3 inches) is already creating huge, EXPENSIVE problems.

    http://www.climatecentral.org/news/the-future-is-now-for-sea-level-rise-in-south-florida

  54. bachfiend says:

    Steve,

    Don’t confuse Ivan. He’s got his narrative that taking AGW seriously will have serious economic effects.

    Well, he’s right. Taking AGW seriously means that most of the fossil fuel reserves will need to be left in the ground, resulting in their economic value dropping to near zero, and wiping off most of the market value of the fossil fuel extraction industries, which would be, what $5 trillion? Compared to global GDP of around $60 trillion per year.

    He’s almost as bad as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who is hyping the potential of new ‘clean coal’ power plants for Australia, and if the banks are unwilling to finance their construction (and they probably won’t be willing) using taxpayer money to subsidise their construction. At a time when NSW is enjoying record temperatures in the mid forties and extreme fire conditions.

    At least Turnbull agrees AGW is happening. He’s forced to appease the AGW denier conservatives in his coalition to remain PM.

  55. BillyJoe7 says:

    Malcolm Turnbull has a lot of debts to pay for being supported for the Prime Ministerial job. It amazes me how convincing he sounds promoting stuff he doesn’t beleive in.

    As for Ivan “climate denier” Grozny, give him a rest. He’s only ever here to parrot the climate denying BS of his favourite climate denying bloggers who wouldn’t know weather from climate. Sea rise of 20cm? How can that matter? The tide rises by more than that. Tide in, tide out, how does that work?

  56. BillyJoe7 says:

    …and what’s the bet that he didn’t even think of those storm surges. 😉

  57. Ivan Grozny says:

    “And even 7.5cm (3 inches) is already creating huge, EXPENSIVE problems.”

    yes, such as heightened levels of anxiety, hypochondria and hysteria among the later-day green millenaialists.

    “You might try to work on improving your reading comprehension. I said NOTHING about how far the water has risen so far. I was simply converting the numbers YOU supplied for future predictions. 40cm to 60cm is roughly 1 or 2 feet.”

    In many parts of the word the coasts move by that much already because of tectonics and erosion, the phenomena having nothing to do with global warming. South Florida will have to adapt, just as many other parts of the world are adapting to erosion and tectonic changes right now. This is a very slow process, a plenty of time to adapt.

    “I don’t accept everything the IPCC reports state because it’s just as much a political document as it is a scientific document. When its various reports have to get through committees in which everyone has to agree including countries such as Saudi Arabia.”

    This takes the cake, absolutely. An organisation whose founding document says that it will provide a “scientific basis for the policy of CO2 mitigation”, and whose scientific reports are published AFTER the publication of the summaries for policy makers, (alarmist, “sky-is-falling” political documents agreed upon by governments and green lobbies and NGOs together), is now a part of the fossil fuel conspiracy to minimize the “problem” of climate change. It doesn’t get any more idiotic than that.

    “I don’t regard the IPCC reports as being definitive. For my climate science information I go elsewhere.”

    No doubt. That’s why your knowledge about it so tremendous.

  58. Steve Cross says:

    “yes, such as heightened levels of anxiety, hypochondria and hysteria among the later-day green millenaialists.”

    Good to know that seawater intrusion into freshwater wells, and sewer systems that no longer work properly are just caused by anxiety. We can hand out homeopathic pills and solve the whole problem.

  59. bachfiend says:

    Ivan,

    You’ve claimed that there’s no need to worry about sea level rises. The climate models don’t have a good handle on the rate of Greenland and Antarctic ice and snow melting, so the IPCC just ignores it, using instead the projected sea level rise from thermal expansion of the oceans.

    There’s no contradiction in worrying about Arctic warming (and the Arctic is warming much faster than anywhere else) having effects other than sea level rises. In particular, causing the Arctic to become September and then summer ice free within 10 to 30 years (much shorter than your no need to worry for the next 100 years).

    Governments regard a summer ice free Arctic as an opportunity since it may allow offshore drilling for oil and natural gas. It’s actually a major threat because it results in a decreased albedo and a positive feedback to global warming.

    You’re not worried about sea level rises. What does your profound knowledge of Arctic warming and climate science tell you?

  60. locutusbrg says:

    I am always entertained by ideological bent of data cherry picking and non sequitur. NOAA is fabricating data when its bad for my ideology. Good data when it supports my ideology. Science is bad because it is dogmatically clinging to the claim of global warming when the predictions don’t come true. Science is wrong when it changes it predictions in response to new data. Showing that it is wrong.

    So… what is NOAA a good data source or a bad data source? Does it revise its predictions when it gets new data like a good scientist or does it dogmatically maintain a fabricated illusion to maintain its standing?

    Hmmm… seems like some people are trying to maintain low cognitive dissonance because reality is not conforming to their preconceived ideas about the answers. But I disagree that NOAA is the entity.

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