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May 08 2013

Ooh, handy shortcuts against climate change denialists

Very useful: it’s a list of 154 denialist claims with short rebuttals to each. Bookmark it, everyone!

54 comments

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  1. 1
    LykeX

    I was just about to complain that it needed better citations, but then I noticed that the short answers were also links to more detailed pages. This is great stuff. I think I might read through it just to get a better handle on this issue.

  2. 2
    pHred

    A while back they also created an app that you can download from the iTunes store too so that you can carry it around with you.

  3. 3
    azportsider

    This is a great resource, sort of like Talk Origins for AGW denialism. Duly bookmarked for future study.

  4. 4
    Brian E

    Great stuff. Stupid question, as it probably confuses weather with climate, but the summer of 12-13 was the hottest down here in the sticks. Maximums were high as usual, plus a little bit, but the minimums when the sun went down were like warm spring days. We’re being told we’re tracking for hotest ever from some sources. Is the link out of date, or is it just an Oz thing?

  5. 5
    mildlymagnificent

    I’ve noticed that some are not updated as recently as others. One answer gives 2005 as the hottest ever year and another gives 2010. It’s probably related to how often/ how rarely those particular items are reviewed.

    The best thing is to follow any links that trouble you. It’s a tremendous resource which has grown far beyond John Cook’s initial quite modest intentions.

  6. 6
    markholcombe

    A friend of mine is a global warming denialist. My one line reply to almost anything he says is, “If you are correct then all of physics and chemistry is false.”

  7. 7
    kylemarquis

    I like how, even more so than with creationism, most of these rebuttals are just simple refutations of naked falsehoods.

    “Glaciers are growing.” “No.” [data]
    “X a long time ago was the hottest year on record.” “Nope.” [data]
    “The oceans are cooling.” “Lolnope.” [data]

    Arguments that are actual arguments that require some understanding of the underlying science are comparatively rare. Climate denialism hasn’t even moved into the “how come there are still monkeys?” phase of “philosophical” arguments.

  8. 8
    chthonicechoes

    I like those, but what about denialists who have the superposed positions that a.) global warming is not happening, but b.) the warming we’re seeing is definitely not anthropogenic, but c.) global warming is a good thing, so we should be burning more fossil fuels to accelerate it? I ran into this gem the other day: “. . . we are perilously close to the lower CO2 limit where photosynthesis shuts down . . .”

    I’m not even sure where to start with that.

  9. 9
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    Aw, the @AI_AGW twitterbot that did this automatically has been suspended. :/

  10. 10
    anteprepro

    Wow. Denialists really like to throw anything against the wall to see if it will stick. Some of those “arguments” absolutely reek of desperation. While all of them are all so orthogonal to reality. Absolutely infuriating, considering the stakes involved on the topic that they so consistently and deliberately misunderstand.

    I ran into this gem the other day: “. . . we are perilously close to the lower CO2 limit where photosynthesis shuts down . . .” I’m not even sure where to start with that.

    With laughter. Follow up with explicit mockery at your leisure.

  11. 11
    Trebuchet

    But…but…but…yesterday was cooler than the day before! And it snowed somewhere! That proves there’s no warming!!!

  12. 12
    David Marjanović

    Is the link out of date, or is it just an Oz thing?

    It’s just an Oz thing. 2012 wasn’t horribly hot elsewhere.

    “. . . we are perilously close to the lower CO2 limit where photosynthesis shuts down . . .”

    LOL! That’s why all life on Earth that requires oxygen dies out for 100,000 years every ice age, and then God steps in and creates it anew before it dies out again 10,000 to 50,000 years later! ROTFL!

  13. 13
    culuriel

    OMG, I had to start breezing through at #120… these denialists are repetitive and ignorant!

  14. 14
    Nerdette

    #8

    the warming we’re seeing is definitely not anthropogenic

    This is why it is abundantly clear that these people have not even cracked a book to try and understand climate science. My new approach to dealing with climate change denialists is to ask where they took their atmospheric science courses and what books they read by climate scientists on the subject. When it’s clear they haven’t done anything but read propaganda websites, I encourage them to actually do research.

    The clearest line of evidence for anthropogenic causes (if you have an understanding about plant biology and basic isotopes) is the changing C13/C12 ratio. It’s simple, but you have to have some education in order to understand it.

    “. . . we are perilously close to the lower CO2 limit where photosynthesis shuts down . . .”

    lolwut? So somehow we are losing CO2? Are there massive plant die-offs all over the globe?

  15. 15
    Matt Smith

    It’s cute how much you fight deniers but don’t do anything meaningful to have an effect on the climate situation. Do most of you even really care, or are just personally offended in an aspergarian way that someone would deny facts?

  16. 16
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    Matt Smith,
    It’s cute how you assume none of us are doing anything. I work building satellites that give us (among other things) data to combat lying assclams like you. I’ve planted over 250 trees on my property and a few hundred more in the community. I drive a small car. Perhaps most important, I try to vote for politicians who acknowledge physical reality.

    Others on here are doing even more.

  17. 17
    LykeX

    It’s cute how much you fight deniers but don’t do anything meaningful to have an effect on the climate situation

    Fighting deniers is a meaningful thing. It doesn’t much matter what I do if nobody else is with me. I can reduce my energy consumption, buy locally produced foods and use public transportation, but it’s a drop in the ocean.
    For serious effects, we need political action and that only comes when lots of people are behind it. Politicians never do anything unpopular and that goes double for things that are unpopular with big business.

    Climate denial has real political consequences and serves to stifle the possibilities for relevant action. As such, fighting climate denial most definitely meaningful. In fact, it’s absolutely essential.

    Is there something else you think would be more effective? If you have a point, please make it. Don’t be shy.

  18. 18
    Chris Clarke

    It’s cute how much you fight deniers but don’t do anything meaningful to have an effect on the climate situation. Do most of you even really care, or are just personally offended in an aspergarian way that someone would deny facts?

    Yeah, if only there was some way for me to, I dunno, educate people about non-carbon energy sources.

  19. 19
    Kathy Orlinsky

    We just had solar panels installed on our house. Is that meaningful enough? Just because I occasionally blog about the problem of global warming doesn’t mean I’m actually doing the opposite in real life. After all, I’m not a Republican.

  20. 20
    ChasCPeterson

    oh, you blog? say, there’s a link right there, am I right?

  21. 21
    chigau (違う)

    Matt Smith #15
    If you really Cared™, you’d use your psychic powers to do good.

  22. 22
    Amphiox

    It’s cute how much you fight deniers but don’t do anything meaningful to have an effect on the climate situation

    Right. So countering the lies that promote the political intransigency that prevents meaningful large scale action from occurring is not “anything meaningful”?

    “. . . we are perilously close to the lower CO2 limit where photosynthesis shuts down . . .”

    That sounds very much like almost a direct quote out of one of Peter Ward’s books (it might have been “The Life and Death of Planet Earth”).

    He was, of course, talking about something completely different, and by “perilously” he was referring to 250-500 million years when compared to the full 9 billion year expected lifespan of the earth.

    (And I think he was just referring to C3 photosynthesis, as C4 will last longer, AND I think his numbers have been revised upwards by subsequent research….)

  23. 23
    myeck waters

    Countdown to Matt Smith coming back to actually back up his pathetic sniping in 1,273,410…1,273,409…1,273,408…1,273,407…

  24. 24
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    Myeck Waters,
    Be fair. Matt must visit his talents on all the reality-based blogs. We cannot monopolize his precious time. His asshattery must be shared!

  25. 25
    anteprepro

    It’s cute how much you fight deniers but don’t do anything meaningful to have an effect on the climate situation. Do most of you even really care, or are just personally offended in an aspergarian way that someone would deny facts?

    It’s cute how you think that this is mutually exclusive. Or that you think that fighting deniers isn’t a necessary step for the most plans effective plans to benefit the environment to even get off the ground.

    And yet with asshats like yourself, if we go off and diligently recycle, reduce our carbon footprint, use electric/hybrid cars, etc., your fellows in arms would guffaw about how individual actions don’t cause any REAL change. Don’t have any REAL impact. That we shouldn’t even bother with these small little tiny ridiculous things until we can solve the problem outright with something big and massive. We try to go for the big things and you folks clutch pearls about overstepping bounds, shaking up the economy. We try to go for small steps and you folks laugh about how pointless it is. So here’s my proposition: Either help or shut the fuck up. Or make it clear that you are just another denialist. Enough of this Holier-Than-Thou Fencesitter bullshit.

  26. 26
    Peter B

    I get it. Our planet is warming. Surface ice is melting faster than it is forming. Sea levels rise.

    I see bad, or at least suspect arguments in the list.

    (113) Tuvalu sea level is rising 3 times larger than the global average.

    It looks like the most extreme case was used to demonstrate a general trend. Is Tuvalu a special case? Is the Pacific plate moving downward in that area? How does that compare to other South Pacific islands such as Fiji or Vanuatu? How do they compare to Barbados?

    (70) Direct measurements find that rising CO2 is trapping more heat.

    CO2 can only trap energy within its absorption spectra. What I see from the chart is reduced energy in the band within the absorption spectra of CO2. I wonder how much energy in that band is left. It its already down to 1% of what it would be if there was no CO2, doubling airborne CO2 might drive it down to 0.5%.

    Please don’t tell me about ocean acidification. Although my BS chem was conferred in the mid 60’s I still remember enough about CO2 H2O and pH. Yes, ocean acidification can change things.

  27. 27
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    What I see from the chart is reduced energy in the band within the absorption spectra of CO2.

    I don’t understand what you mean, and I’ve taken courses in spectroscopy. A citation to the peer reviewed scientific literature would be nice. Don’t bother with a link to a denialist web site. And don’t forget CO2 is only one of several greenhouse gasses, including methane. Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas, but if it wasn’t continually being produced would fade from the atmosphere.

  28. 28
    Amphiox

    It looks like the most extreme case was used to demonstrate a general trend.

    No, actually it isn’t.

    It is simply a direct, factual response to the mendacious claim that sea levels in Tuvalu are not rising. A simple rebuttal to a simple claim. So it is with every item. Did you even read the far left column there?

  29. 29
    Matt Smith

    Honestly I dont think most of you care deep down. Its just a distaste for a factually “false” opinion. your deluding yourself if you think solar panels and looking for people who will never get into office because they are going against major political backers (corporations etc) will help. If we need massive changes, by billions of people, you know thats not ever going to happen. The chinese or indians, growing so fast will? people are going to change their lives their reality, for that? the goverment will collapse and massively downsize it self? the corporations who run the US will? With all the political science done with MRIs on “cognitive bias” and “logical fallacy” you would think you would realize your talking to a wall with most people, who just want to live life and dont give a fuck about global warming, etc and forget it in 5 minutes and have better things to worry about. as the author of this site said “human sociology and politics shows no sign of being on an exponential trend towards greater wisdom”.

  30. 30
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Honestly I dont think most of you care deep down.

    Quit projecting your nihilistic attitudes on us. That is where you make a huge mistake.

  31. 31
    chigau (違う)

    Matt Smith
    All of us are, as far as you can tell, words on a screen.
    How can you possibly know what “most of us” are doing?

  32. 32
    Chris Clarke

    Well, to be fair, I clicked through to Matt Smith’s Facebook page and made some snap judgments about him based on “words on a screen.” (Trigger warning. Seriously.) So I don’t really have a leg to stand on here.

  33. 33
    chigau (違う)

    Matt Smith’s presentation here (“aspergarian”???) and his presentation on Facebook have caused me to have a snap judgement, too.

  34. 34
    Matt Smith

    Ido expect something to be done later, on a large scale. When it becomes more noticeable. (not in a massive way, like some biblical bullshit) It will fall into the current goverments hands not common people like us. Im not a nihilist. I just feel like there is nothing we can do about it as common people right now that would take a chunk out of it. its funny your all out on deniers, steadily debunking them in this irritated, holier then thou way but dont realize that you are far off from having any sort of a serious effect on it. I could go into politics, lie my way in to get past my financers (thats what politicans do in the real world, all of them,) who need to continue their activites, and initiate global warming policies. then they would be removed after my term. or it could set a trend.

  35. 35
    chigau (違う)

    Not snap any more.
    But confirmed.

  36. 36
    Kathy Orlinsky

    So personal actions like changing light bulbs or getting solar panels can never make a difference, speaking out against denialism is pointless, and voting for scientifically literate candidates is useless? I guess that covers all the bases. Good thing I don’t really care deep down, otherwise, I’d be really discouraged.

  37. 37
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    Matt, you’re a clown. My advice to you is to grow up, accept reality and realize that you have no control over outcomes–only your efforts. However, you will never achieve any good outcome unless push things in the right way.

    Yes the problems are tough. Yes, it will take global efforts to resolve them. However, everything we do to save energy buys time–and after 3 decades of outright denial, time is the most precious thing we can save.

    Get off your lazy, self-pitying ass and do something.

  38. 38
    myeck waters

    Well, since conservatives actually avoid doing things to help the environment, I guess we shouldn’t even be buying those CFL and LED light bulbs, eh Matt Smith?

  39. 39
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    Peter B.,
    You are missing several things wrt the greenhouse effect and CO2. First, while CO2 can only absorb in its energy band, that band has very wide tails, and more CO2 continues to expand the spectral region where absorption is significant. Second, above cloudtops, CO2 is the predominant greenhouse gas, so it is pushing the top-of atmosphere to higher (and colder levels).

    I assure you…smart people have looked at this. Others have pointed out the fallacy in your judgement of the Tuvalu.

  40. 40
    unclefrogy

    Thanks Matt Smith for bringing me back to reality!
    If things are as you say, which I take as a given, I will never be able to do anything about climate change anyway what would you recommend I do with the rest of my life?
    Really what should I do?
    What should any of us do?
    What are you doing with your life?

    uncle frogy

  41. 41
    Rey Fox

    Honestly I dont think most of you care deep down.

    Honestly I think you’re a waste of space.

    Pretty funny though, how antepro had you pegged perfectly in #25.

  42. 42
    consciousness razor

    It will fall into the current goverments hands not common people like us. Im not a nihilist. I just feel like there is nothing we can do about it as common people right now that would take a chunk out of it.

    What’s with this “common people” shit? Did I miss something? Do we have a feudalistic society now? It was my impression that we have democratically-elected governments which are created by us to represent us, in an open society where “common people” have the right to fucking speak to each other and influence their decisions? The problem has a lot to do with thick-headed assholes like you who won’t listen to anything other than your own nonsense.

  43. 43
    consciousness razor

    … influence their decisions?

    Not a question. Editing does that sometimes. The question is “how can fucking climate-denialists stand to be so fucking annoying?”

  44. 44
    skylanetc

    @Peter B
    CO2 can only trap energy within its absorption spectra. What I see from the chart is reduced energy in the band within the absorption spectra of CO2. I wonder how much energy in that band is left. It its already down to 1% of what it would be if there was no CO2, doubling airborne CO2 might drive it down to 0.5%.

    Sounds like a variant of the Saturated Gassy Argument:
    a href=http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/06/a-saturated-gassy-argument

  45. 45
    LykeX

    your deluding yourself if you think solar panels and looking for people who will never get into office because they are going against major political backers (corporations etc) will help. If we need massive changes, by billions of people, you know thats not ever going to happen

    So, by “doing something meaningful”, you really mean, “give up and do nothing, because it’s all hopeless anyway”?

  46. 46
    anteprepro

    Pretty funny though, how antepro had you pegged perfectly in #25.

    What’s extra hilarious is that he proved me righter than I believed I could be. I was under the impression that the double standard would be created by different people, not by the same person being obviously hypocritical. He went above and beyond the call of duty, there. I almost swear he did it on purpose, but I think we should be cautious about attributing that level of humor and self-awareness to someone so clearly devoid of it.

  47. 47
    kermit.

    Matty Smith. I agree that global warming must be addressed at least at the government level to be effectively dealt with. But that doesn’t mean individual actions don’t count. A few points:
    .
    1. In the US, we demanded that the US government end the war in VietNam. It did, but it took years for protestors to reach fellow citizens and educate them enough about the war for the others to join in. Educating the public by publicly refuting the denialists helps educate our fellow humans faster. It is very likely that only public pressure will change the focus of our national debates. If there is anything a corrupt politician fears more than loss of money, it’s loss of votes.
    .
    2. How much does my gardening or replacing my bulbs with LEDs matter? In a simplistic sense not a measurable amount. After all, how much to I contribute with my poor, solitary tax contributions? But it is through all of a country’s citizens paying taxes that a national income is derived, making possible great projects (and disastrous ones of course). My learning and practicing certain skills and using certain tools enlarges and supports social networks and industries that may be essential when civilization is under greater stress in the years to come. My being able to garden in the suburbs, having plants on hand (especially food sources adapted to our climate) can jump start a neighborhood who very quickly decides that gardening is an excellent idea. Skills, networks, resources, and established industries for the hard times coming need our collective individual support now.
    .
    3. It’s the right thing to do. A samurai doesn’t go into battle because he thinks he’ll win, he goes because it’s what he is supposed to do. He doesn’t tell the other samurai to give up because, what’s the use?

  48. 48
    raven

    Troll:

    Honestly I dont think most of you care deep down.

    Matt is pretending to be a mind reader. I don’t believe he can read our minds.

    And who cares what Matt thinks. He is just a troll, an idiot, and a liar who made an incredible cliam.

    But Matt can prove us wrong. Quick Matt, what is the name of my youngest cat?

  49. 49
    raven

    Matt the troll:

    Honestly I dont think most of you care deep down.

    1. The truth matters. This is an obviously true statement.

    2. This is where Matt shows his low IQ. We will have to deal with global warming. There is no choice.

    Reality doesn’t care what people think it is. It just is. In this case, the earth is heating up. It is just a fact.

    As to what we will do, that is up to the 7 billion people living on this planet. The current consensus is that we will just adapt. Dikes and sea walls will be built, low lying areas will be abandoned, crops will move north, and so on.

    Some of this is already happening. The hurricane Sandy cost us 60 billion dollars. It’s estimated that the USA will spend 1/2 to 1 trillion dollars in the 21st century on AGW adaptation.

  50. 50
    raven

    It will fall into the current goverments hands not common people like us. Im not a nihilist. I just feel like there is nothing we can do about it as common people right now that would take a chunk out of it.

    Last I heard, we lived in a democracy. We can advocate, vote, and elect good well, less bad political leaders.

    You could say the same thing about winter. Winter comes every year. There is nothing anyone can do about it. So I suppose Matt does nothing.

    Most people prepare for it though, especially in northern climates. Wrap the pipes, put the hoses away, make sure the car is ready for subfreezing temperatures, bring the sensitive plants in, buy appropiate winter clothing if needed, clean the gutters, and so on. Some people even imitate the birds and migrate to southern climates and just wait it out in Florida or Arizona.

  51. 51
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    a list of 154 denialist claims with short rebuttals to each. Bookmark it, everyone!

    Cheers, PZ Myers – have done.

    (I had Skeptical Science bookmarked already but have added this too.)

  52. 52
    raven

    How much does my gardening or replacing my bulbs with LEDs matter? In a simplistic sense not a measurable amount. After all, how much to I contribute with my poor, solitary tax contributions?

    QFT.

    Matt is claiming that because one person can’t do everything, that collectively we can’t do anything.

    It’s not even a logical fallacy, it is just demonstrably wrong.

    I can’t build a giant rocket and fly to the moon. So what? We in the USA did exactly that in 1969.

  53. 53
    Jadehawk

    Im not a nihilist. I just feel like there is nothing we can do about it

    lol.

    in any case, given that social movements and civil society have changed things in the past and are changing things right now, your idiocy is also ahistorical. common people change things all the time. and if we weren’t here to change things, there won’t government in place for those “later” events you think will happen. Because if the Overton Window were permanently where it was in the 80′s, then even “biblical” disasters caused by AGW wouldn’t move governments to do shit.

  54. 54
    SallyStrange

    Golly gee, I actually have a job that consists of convincing individuals to take relatively small actions which, together, will add up to a large amount of CO2 never emitted.

    But, you know, I’m just one person, and so are my colleagues, and so are the partners we work with, and so are the people we help, so I guess we might as well give up… or something.

    Probably something.

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