Creepy Cruz on climate change


There is something vaguely creepy about Ted Cruz.

It is more than the smug expression that is his standard face. He also has the sly expression of someone who thinks he is way smarter than you and can argue better and thus can make you believe what he says. This confidence is shown in the way he flatly distorts things and uses his skills in sophistry to try and make his lies sound truthful.

For example, he denies the reality of climate change by stating that the satellite data show no warming for the last 18 years. This is a popular trope among climate change denialists. But that choice of years should immediately raise warning flags. Why pick 18 years for a subject in which the usual time scale is decades, centuries, and millennia? Why not pick 10, 50, 100 or another round number of years, the usual way we pick time intervals? As Trevor Noah said, the only time 18-year periods come up is when you are talking about child support.

The answer is that 1998 was an unusually warm year and this enables denialists to suggest that the Earth has not warmed since then, though even that argument is now failing because 2014 was a record-breaking year and this year promises to exceed even that. Here is a chart from the World Meteorological Organization. Notice that El Nino years are warmer than usual, while La Nina ones are colder than normal.

global warming data

Secondly, Cruz and others like him focus on just satellite data which are less accurate than ground-based thermometer readings.

Watch this interaction between Cruz at last Tuesday’s senate committee hearing that he chaired and retired Rear Admiral David Titley who is now a meteorology professor at Penn State University, where Titley politely but categorically exposes Cruz’s distortions.

Notice how Cruz says that even if we omit the first year or the first two or three, the line would still be horizontal, implying no warming. Sure, once you have drawn the regression line, then you can march up and down that same line. But the point is that if you omit the first point in 1998, the new regression line will no longer be horizontal but will slope upwards, showing warming.

Cruz was able to get away with these distortions when talking to NPR’s Steve Inskeep who is not a scientist but Titley is a meteorologist and had clearly prepared for this. Cruz is either ignorant of basic data interpretation or is a blackguard. In his case, I will give him the benefit of the doubt and say he is both.

Larry Wilmore seems to share my sense that Cruz is creepy.

(This clip aired on December 14, 2015. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Nightly Show outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)

Comments

  1. Rob Grigjanis says

    There’s nothing vague about the creepiness of Cruz or Carson. Viagra for back-of-the-neck hairs, the both of ’em.

  2. NL says

    Is there some kind of protocol in these hearings that stops scientists from flatly stating that he has no idea what he’s on about? This shit would get infuriating after a while.

  3. StevoR says

    Notice that El Nino years are warmer than usual, while La Nina ones are colder than normal.

    Also note that even the “colder” La Nina years are showing a warming trend in that recent La Nina’s have been a lot hotter than they used to be.

    See : http://planetsave.com/2012/01/20/2011-hottest-la-nina-year-on-record-eleventh-hottest-overall-noaa/

    Excerpt :

    So, yesterday, NOAA scientists from the NCDC reported that while La Niña events kept the world cooler than in some very recent years, “2011 tied with 1997 for the 11th warmest year on record.” Interestingly, in the 21st century, it was the 2nd-coolest year on record, while it tied the 2nd-warmest year of the 20th century. La Niña, which has a strong cooling effect, kept it ‘mild’ in these days of extreme warming.

    See also an excellent Skeptical Science post titled ‘Was 2012 the Hottest La Nina Year?’ which includes an excellent and very illustrative graph of El Nino & La Nina years compared as separate sets.

    ( Source : skeptical science (dot) com / was-2012-hottest-la-nina-on-record (dot) html link broken for moderation, sure ‘y’all know how to fix.)

    Ted Cruz may think he’s smart but he seems to be forgetting the key point that he lives on this planet too and will face long term consequences for his Denialism. I think Cruz thinks he’s a lot smarter (& more appealing and less transparent) than he really is. Like Donald the Dump I think he massively overestimates himself – not that that’s unusual in this elections crop of really horrid Repub candidates. Whilst he’s having his fifteen minutes as the (ohyegods!) not-Trump currently I don’t think it will last or that he’ll be the Repub nominee. I also think his failure to condemn Trump’s comments and the level of dislike for him in his own party will strongly work against him.

    That noted, if Trump misses out on the Repub nomination and goes independent then I think its quite possible that Trump would pick Cruz as his running mate – although either way I think they’ll both lose very heavily to the Democratic party. As, in fairness, will any of the current Repubs. cannot see any of them beating Hillary Clinton. Could be mistaken though and the further these odious slimeballs are kept from any possibility of political power the better.

  4. jockmcdock says

    The reason he chooses 18 year (currently 18 years and 9 months, formerly 16 years) is that he can include that enormously influential point on the left of his graph. This will dominate just about any trend on the right hand side.

    if he did the regression without that point, I strongly suspect we’d get a different conclusion.

  5. John Morales says

    Cruz is relying on the short-term (where the scientfially-obvious isn’t part of the public paradigm) for political purposes — in the longer term, it will become obvious that such denialism is purely faith-based and so become a net negative.

    (That’s a problem with the electoral cycle — that it rewards short-term thinking)

  6. Nick Gotts says

    Even before 2014, and cherry-picking the starting point, the temperature record did not “show no warming”; it was just not suffiicent to show at the 95% confidence level that the upward trend in temperatures was a secular change, rather than random fluctuations.

  7. lorn says

    Cruz makes white belted used-car salesmen and up-skirt photographers seem wholesome. He gives pimps and crack dealers the shivers. There is something very twisted about the man.

    Cruz is oilier, and his damage is much deeper, but in some ways he reminds me of Jeffrey Combs’ character as Special Agent Milton Dammers in the movie The Frighteners:

    http://www.oocities.com/p_auli/milton4.jpg

    Mark my words, if Cruz makes it into the presidency America will live in constant fear of a ‘dead girl or live boy’ revelation. Or some other atrocity. He has it in his heart and it is just dying to get out.

  8. raven says

    There is something vaguely creepy about Ted Cruz.

    There is nothing vaguely creepy about Ted Cruz. He is about as creepy as they get outside of a prison. Clearly an accomplished sociopath.

    America will live in constant fear of a ‘dead girl or live boy’ revelation.

    That is actually a best case scenario and unlikely.
    George Bush caused so much damage we are still paying for it. Including 5,000 dead American adults and over 100,000 dead Iraqis, many of them boys and girls. Including 2 of my friends, dead in Iraq.
    Cruz could easily end up killing thousands or millions.

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