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Sep 27 2013

The IPCC is out and so are the climate denialists

The “pause” in perspective. Chart courtesy of NASA GISS using meteorological station data of annual-mean surface air temperature change and base period 1951-1980

The IPCC is out with a new analysis of climate change and the verdict is hardly a surprise: there is a 95% probability that human industrial activity is far and away the dominant factor in forcing higher temperatures. Which means it’s time for the usual suspect to justify their extravagant salaries by taking to the pages of various publications and spread misinformation as far and as wide as fat stacks of cash and their wingnut enablers allow. Over the past few months the Bad Astronomer has become quite the bad-ass at knocking this stuff down as fast as it gets posted and he doesn’t disappoint here. I think he deserves DK level premium pages hits for that effort:

This latest report is hardly a “headache” for the IPCC … While denialists are distracting everyone about the “pause”, about climate sensitivity, and all that, the Arctic sea ice is melting. Antarctic land ice is melting. We just experienced the hottest decade on record. .. I could go on; Delingpole’s article is a rich source of the same tiresome anti-reality claims. I suggest you keep your browsers pointed to locations of good information, and follow real climate scientist Michael Mann on Twitter.

A few days ago I was visiting a friend here in Texas, and he we  happened to briefly argue about climate change. The thing is, he does trust me, he knows what I do for a living, he knows I can call guys like Jim Hansen or Mike Mann on the phone right in front of him and get the answers to just about any layman’s question. But I’m not the only voice he trusts and listens to. Therein lays the problem for science and the path to success for well funded weasals.

We chat about issues like this for a few minutes maybe once a week, and that’s in a good month. But he listens to misinfo everyday, often for hours, either in the background or front and center. Plus, he isn’t scientist and doesn’t work with scientists. Most laypeople simply do not understand how the research world works, they see it more as an opinion thing, where the scientist with the most funding gets the biggest say, not as the rigorous process you and I know and respect, or at best they think of the front page of Omni or Nat’l Geo as the actual science itself.

They don’t fully appreciate the fundamental method, i.e., where you as the science guy or gal publish a paper and your best science buddies then take turns scrutinizing it for the tiniest empirical errors in the hope of publicly humiliating you. Or that what survives that ruthless process over time grows robust, gets filled in and built on, and is the state of science in that field at that time. Instead they get the Rush Limbaugh and Fox News version.

He’s been led to think weather and climate are the same, and since weather forecasts are dicey a few days out, long term climate forecasts are worthless. He’s been lied to about what global temps are doing and have been doing. He’s been lied to that Climategate was an example of leading climate scientists caught red-handed manipulating data to cook the results. He’s been told in sneering, nod-nod wink-wink format that scientists have a powerful financial incentive to engage in a massive conspiracy in the form of shadowy grants and tenure, with no mechanism to correct and filter out the quacks and stooges. He’s been lied to that the jury is still out, or that there is significant uncertainty about what greenhouse gases do, how they act, what properties they have, and where they come from.

In short, he’s been lied to, effectively and systematically, for years on end. To the point that if he confronts how bald-faced and transparent the lies are, he’ll feel like it was his fault, as if it were his responsibility and therefore his failure for not having an independent lab and personal super computer for performing his own experiments. And far from being angry at him, I am pissed for him, I’m pissed that he’s been lied to about something he wouldn’t find the least bit controversial, about basic science that he does indeed have the intellectual heft and enough education to evaluate, if not for paid actors and industry hacks posing as research scientists infesting traditional and new media.

8 comments

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  1. 1
    Deen

    or that there is significant uncertainty about what greenhouse gases do

    And they also tend to leave out that uncertainty works both ways – it could also be worse than we think.

  2. 2
    unbound

    I’ve gotten a few climate change deniers to stop and think a bit when I informed them that News Corp went green in 2007. How can the parent company of the most vicious climate change deniers go green if this was nothing more than a conspiracy of scientists to fill their own pockets?

    Unfortunately, it is always easier for the conman than it is for the rational. The conman has the advantage of being to put out very simple concepts that people can easily understand…the conman is lying, so it’s easy to put things in pretty black and white scenarios. The rational has to try to educate people on the truth which is almost always complex and nuanced, and the masses are almost always disinterested in the subject, so something that takes more than a paragraph to explain is distrusted.

  3. 3
    colnago80

    Ed Brayton has a troll calling himself Lancifer, who I call Sir Lancelot who is a first class climate change denier.

  4. 4
    magistramarla

    I’m not a science person, but I’m married to one and one of the daughters is a neurobiologist.
    Even though my eyes glaze over when they discuss sciency things, I have enough education to understand basic science technique. That is what angers me – I know that science teachers have always been teaching those basic techniques and that even those students who refused to learn had to pick up just a bit of lab techniques in high school. The people who listen to these conmen are just being willfully ignorant.

  5. 5
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    In short, he’s been lied to, effectively and systematically, for years on end. To the point that if he confronts how bald-faced and transparent the lies are, he’ll feel like it was his fault, as if it were his responsibility and therefore his failure for not having an independent lab and personal super computer for performing his own experiments. And far from being angry at him, I am pissed for him, I’m pissed that he’s been lied to about something he wouldn’t find the least bit controversial, about basic science that he does indeed have the intellectual heft and enough education to evaluate, if not for paid actors and industry hacks posing as research scientists infesting traditional and new media.

    Well written and quoted for truth.

    @1. Deen : “.. they also tend to leave out that uncertainty works both ways – it could also be worse than we think.”

    Exactly – and there are, in fact,a number of good reasons for thinking the IPCC have under-estimated the problem for instance the faster than predicted fall in Arctic sea ice and likelihood of dramatic feedback effects kicking in. That we haven’t cooled more during the double dip la Nina cycle and have instead had what’s been described as an an “angry summer” ( full of record breaking extreme weather events) down here in Oz among other things gives serious cause for concern.

  6. 6
  7. 7
    mildlymagnificent

    and there are, in fact,a number of good reasons for thinking the IPCC have under-estimated the problem

    It’s not so much an underestimate as the most conservative version of events. Every single statement has to be agreed on by a large or small committee and it can be reviewed and revised all the way through the process. So it finishes up as a lowest common denominator result of what everyone is willing to be committed to.

    The mid-century loss of end of summer Arctic sea ice is the prime example of how only-what-we-can-prove combined with resistance to overstatement can get you. Anyone who “watches the ice” as many of us do through the melting seasons knows that the chance of a less than a million sq kms, or even a nil, result is only a decade or so away if it hasn’t already happened by 2020.

    And the other question is the attribution one. Humans are responsible 95%? Given that the bulk of natural climate variations of the last decade have been in the cooling direction, a better estimate would be that humans are responsible for 120% of what we’ve seen so far this century – and we’ve only been spared extraordinary surface temperatures by mere chance. A handful of La Nina events in a row. http://theconversation.com/is-global-warming-in-a-hiatus-18367

  8. 8
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @ ^ mildlymagnificent : Good comment and points there. Thanks.

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