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You cannot have a rational discussion with a man who prefers shooting you to being convinced by you.

--Karl Popper

People cynically calling themselves "skeptics" have declared war on climate science and climate scientists. Even their choice of the term 'skeptic' is a tipoff to their dishonesty. True skeptics shrug and say they do not know what is true. There is no emotion because there is no belief to defend. You cannot call yourself a skeptic and behave like a rabid dogmatic.

Here are some recent antics of climate change "skeptics." Ask yourself if these are the actions of people that have not made up their mind on climate change and simply want more evidence to be convinced the human contribution to the problem is real.

Exhibit A: Watts up with this?

Anthony Watts (the television weather forecaster that runs WattsUpWithThat) and his fellow Heartland Institute skeptic "global warming expert" Joseph D'Aleo have published a monograph accusing climate scientists of deception and bias in handling surface temperature data. Central to their argument are two sets of biases they claim contribute to the warming trend in the surface temperature record.

One bias is that the stations were intentionally dropped to favor sites that tend to be warmer.

Around 1990, NOAA began weeding out more than three-quarters of the climate measuring stations around the world. They may have been working under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). It can be shown that they systematically and purposefully, country by country, removed higher-latitude, higher-altitude and rural locations, all of which had a tendency to be cooler.

D'Aleo and Watts, page 6

The second bias is that many stations are poorly sited in developed areas which are subject to the "urban heat island" effect. Watts has created a website dedicated to "gathering data" on weather station sites.

These claims are testable hypotheses suitable for empirical analyses. So why didn't these two high profile "skeptics" test their own hypotheses? They report a bunch of worthless anecdotal material as "proof," but do not conduct the statistical analyses of the surface temperature data to systematically evaluate their hypotheses.

A direct empirical test of the selection bias raised by Watts and D'Aleo failed to support their hypothesis (see this post on the Open Mind blog for a detailed discussion). The trend in the data show more warming in dropped stations, but it is not statistically significant. Tamino gives this strongly worded summary of the analytic findings.

The claim that the station dropout is responsible for any, let alone most, of the modern warming trend, is utterly, demonstrably, provably false. The claim that adjustments introduced by analysis centers such as NASA GISS have introduced false warming is utterly, demonstrably, provably false.

A replication and expansion of these analyses can be found here.

As for the second bias, Menne and colleagues from the National Climatic Data Center evaluated the effects of siting exposure using data in the US Historical Climate Network (USHCN). Their findings will be published in an upcoming issue of Journal of Geophysical Research and the final draft of their manuscript can be found here. The bias in maximum temperatures was statistically significant but opposite in direction to the prediction of Watts - that is, it showed a "cool" trend. The bias in minimum temperatures was not significant.

So why didn't Watts and D'Aleo conduct the empirical analyses of their much touted hypotheses? There are only two viable explanations. One is that they lack the competence to conduct the analyses.  If true, then these weather forecasters should stick to the canned programs developed for their use by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). However, it also would mean they lack the competence to comment on the statistical methodology employed in climate science, something these two weather forecasters do with considerable regularity. The second explanation is that Watts and D'Aleo or someone associated with them conducted the analyses but they did not report the results because it did not support their pet hypotheses. Incompetence or selective reporting are not the actions of genuine skeptics, but rather symptoms of dogmatic deniers of climate change.

Exhibit B: A bouquet of irises for Lindzen

Physicist Richard Lindzen has also been frequent critic of climate change as his pet hypothesis is that climate system has the ability to compensate for the effects of our dumping carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Specifically, he believes that earth has an adaptive "infrared iris" that counters surface warming. This negative feedback allows for a contraction of cirrus cloud cover, resulting in heat dissipating in the atmosphere.

“When the hullabaloo began over global warming, it became clear the answer depended a lot on the feedback from water vapor and clouds,” he observes. “We (scientists) didn’t know how to deal with them.”

Water vapor has a potent effect on radiant heating, although it is unclear there is sufficient contraction of cloud cover to compensate for carbon dioxide accumulating in the atmosphere. Lindzen is the reason you will find "skeptics" talking about water vapor on websites dedicated to climate change "skepticism" and in comments to stories appearing in the media. Hyperventilation about water vapor is a favorite gambit of uber-conservative Christopher Monckton, economic adviser to Margaret Thatcher, in his frequent attacks on climate science and Al Gore. Never mind the evidence to support the Iris effect is far too limited to reject the impact of greenhouse gases on climate, most especially as evidence of melting polar and glacial ice indicates that the iris is not contracting enough to protect our sorry butts.

I raise this issue because Lindzen published a paper in August 2009 that has been trumpeted across the "skeptic" world as proof that we have nothing to fear from our greenhouse gas pollution. Monckton went so far as to use the Lindzen and Choi paper as proof that man-made climate change is not occurring in an altogether snotty "statement" to rebut testimony given to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee by Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu. The trouble is that Lindzen overstated the generalizability of his findings. Roy Spencer, another frequent critic of the human contribution to climate change, found that the Lindzen results based on atmospheric data were not replicated in similar analyses conducted using coupled ocean-atmosphere data.

It is not clear to me just what the Lindzen and Choi results mean in the context of long-term feedbacks (and thus climate sensitivity). I’ve been sitting on the above analysis for weeks since (1) I am not completely comfortable with their averaging of the satellite data, (2) I get such different results for feedback parameters than they got; and (3) it is not clear whether their analysis of AMIP model output really does relate to feedbacks in those models, especially since my analysis (as yet unpublished) of the more realistic CMIP models gives very different results.

Roy Spencer

Other climate scientists have published evidence that the analyses conducted by Lindzen are not robust and difficult to extrapolate beyond specific conditions found in the tropics (the summary of one set of analyses can be found here). This give-and-take is a healthy part of the scientific process. It is also why most climate scientists remain unconvinced of the potency of the Iris Effect.

Exhibit C: Transparency is only required for the accused

Because of stolen emails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at East Anglia University has come under scrutiny. "Skeptics" were quick to coin the phrase "climategate" and claim the emails invalidated decades of scientific study. For people who like to portray themselves as merely open-minded and undecided, hyperbole betrays dogmatism.

In a strange twist, the Institute of Physics (IOP) wrote a summary statement to the parliamentary inquiry into the actions of CRU calling for greater transparency. So far, so good. All scientific publications require a signed consent statement indicating all data will be preserved and made available to journal editors and reviewers upon request. Refusal to honor such a request will have the Office of Professional Responsibility conducting a very public proctology examination in short order. Physicist Andy Russell takes the criticism of the IOP statement a step further.

In my view, it is unfair to criticise the CRU on the basis that they did not comply with data sharing standards that, at present, don’t exist. There is clearly a need for rules regarding openness in relation to data and methods but it is foolish to retrospectively admonish people for not following them! Do the journals currently published by the IoP employ the data policies suggested in your statement?

Andy Russell

Now for the irony. As you can see from the original statement to the parliamentary inquiry, there is a sharply worded accusation that found its way into every "skeptic" site on these glorious intertubes. Namely, the stolen emails were characterized as having "worrying implications" about "the integrity of scientific research in this field." The use of a single phrase by "skeptics" as proof climate science can be dismissed out of hand prompted IOP to issue another statement:

We regret that our submission has been seized upon by some individuals to imply that IOP does not support the scientific evidence that the rising concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is contributing to global warming.

IOP’s position on global warming is clear: the basic science is well established and there is no doubt that climate change is happening and that we should be taking action to address it now.

More irony. The IOP refused to disclose the names of the 3-member scientific board that prepared the statement to Parliament. The attempts at preserve secrecy were not successful as it was revealed that one member involved in the statement was Peter Gill, energy consultant to oil companies and a long-time critic of a human contribution to global warming. The same Peter Gill that was all over "skeptic" sites in November claiming that the stolen emails showed that CRU hid evidence of "atmospheric cooling."

See also this diary by mataliandy.

: : : : : : :

Exhibit D: Since when do the open-minded bully others

Since the stolen email surfaced in November, climate scientists have been subjected to increasing personal attacks.

The e-mails come thick and fast every time NASA scientist Gavin Schmidt appears in the press.

Rude and crass e-mails. E-mails calling him a fraud, a cheat, a scumbag and much worse.

To Schmidt and other researchers purging their inboxes daily of such correspondence, the barrage is simply part of the job of being a climate scientist. But others see the messages as threats and intimidation—cyber-bullying meant to shut down debate and cow scientists into limiting their participation in the public discourse.

Scientific American

In addition to the U.S., Similar attacks have been taking place against climate scientists in the UK, Canada, and Australia. Cyberattacks have also become commonplace against journalists with the audacity to write unflattering stories about climate "skeptics."

Marc Morano, the public relations specialist, former chief of staff for James Inhofe, and operator of climate change disinformation website ClimateDepot is the epitome of "skeptic" with rhetoric like this:

"I seriously believe we should kick them while they're down," he said. "They deserve to be publicly flogged."

Scientific American

The intimidation of climate scientists in the U.S. was recently ratcheted up even further by James Inhofe, Senator extraordinaire. Inhofe wants to conduct an investigation inquisition into the actions of 17 climate scientists.

A report released by Inhofe’s staff on February 23 outlines this classic Joe McCarthyite witch-hunt: page after page of incorrect and misleading statements, a list of federal laws that allegedly may make scientists subject to prosecution by the U.S. Justice Department, and a list of names and affiliations of 17 “key players” in the “CRU Controversy” over stolen e-mails and their connections with IPCC reports.

Climate Science Watch

My point is simple. True skeptics would never send hate mail or resort to intimidation. That is like suggesting the hate mail sent to Daily Kos merely reflects the opinions of people who are undecided and open-minded about their political beliefs.

: : : : : :

Bottom line

It is a mistake to say the debate about climate change is about science. True skeptics do not exist. The actions of climate change "skeptics" are aimed at creating doubt to stop legislation that would create disincentives for dirty energy use. This is a policy fight and science is losing.

The climate disinformation crowd is shrewd. They know that they do not have to convince the majority of the population; just enough of the political spectrum to stop unwanted policy. They have targeted conservatives for two reasons. Religious conservatives are prone to the Anti-Science Syndrome (ASS) because of opposition to evolution. Fiscal conservatives are prone to greed messaging from the American Enterprise Institute, US Chamber of Commerce, and like organizations that suggest that shifting from dirty energy will cost more (in the short-term). As this Gallup poll released yesterday shows, the disinformation crowd has been extremely successful in sowing doubt among conservatives. Future generations will pay the price for the gullibility of conservatives.

In the March 10 edition of Slate, there is a terrible piece by Daniel Sarewitz entitled "The trouble with climate science." Sarewitz describes political gridlock as the fault of science rather than the climate disinformation campaign. He goes on to question the value of funding science and talks about the need for a new narrative. He concludes with the following gibberish.

Politics isn't about maximizing rationality, it's about finding compromises that enough people can live with to allow society to take steps in the right direction. Contrary to all our modern instincts, then, political progress on climate change requires not more scientific input into politics, but less. Value disputes that are hidden behind the scientific claims and counterclaims need to be flushed out and brought into the sunlight of democratic deliberation. Until that happens, the political system will remain in gridlock, and everyone will be convinced that they are on the side of truth.

Sarewitz is wrong on so many things in the piece, but let me highlight two. One is that the goal of science is not to determine policy but rather to understand the natural world. Climate science focuses on understanding the climate system of our planet and just so happens to have discovered that human activity is adversely impacting the climate by greenhouse gas emissions. That discovery has policy implications. Second is that we need a new narrative not based on science. What Sarewitz appears incapable of understanding is that there is no other narrative. Fossil fuels will essentially run out in 75 years no matter what we do now. Without scientific evidence of climate change, there is no urgency to decarbonize our energy sources. Even the climate change "skeptics" understand that point all too well.

Originally posted to DWG on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 07:30 AM PST.

Poll

Climate change skeptics are as likely to exist as

4%2 votes
14%6 votes
4%2 votes
12%5 votes
4%2 votes
58%24 votes

| 41 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for the research. (7+ / 0-)

    Debunking can be a real pain in the ass, especially when your opponents lie with impunity.

    Much appreciated.

    "I always found it interesting that people would cast aspersions on failure, as if it were a bad thing." -- Michael Steele, RNC Chairman

    by journeyman on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 07:40:24 AM PST

    •  I like it but wish the poll had one more mythical (6+ / 0-)

      creature. "An honest Senate Republican". Pretty sure the Loch Ness monster is more likely to exist.

      Has anyone noticed the "Invisible Hand of the Free Market" is still giving us the bird?

      by ontheleftcoast on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 07:44:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You know you're not dealing with "skeptics" (4+ / 0-)

      from their response to the debunking of one of their claims. True skeptics would acknowledge that they were mistaken & re-evaluate their judgments as a result. Deniers OTOH will never acknowledge that one of their talking points has been discredited; instead they dig up (or manufacture) some other result or observation that "refutes" climate change and throw that in your face. And if you debunk that it's rinse, lather, repeat.

      I have (or had) a friend who buys into the whole Far Wrong shtick--hates Democrats, hates Obama, hates anyone who believes in climate change--who habitually bombards me with (mostly forwarded) e-mail claims re these subjects. On a number of occasions, I've spent a fair amount of time & effort assembling evidence debunking said claims & sending it back. The only reply I've ever gotten is a barrage of yet more Far Wrong screeds. So I've simply stopped wasting my time & efforts.

      May I bow to Necessity not/ To her hirelings (W. S. Merwin)

      by Uncle Cosmo on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 10:43:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  And awaiting our very own bevy of "skeptics" (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, snafubar, DWG, bluegrass50

    to make their case here. Like the swallow returning or the irises blooming we've got our own little chorus of deniers dressed up as skeptics. Sigh...

    Has anyone noticed the "Invisible Hand of the Free Market" is still giving us the bird?

    by ontheleftcoast on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 07:42:08 AM PST

  •  Did I read that right? (7+ / 0-)

    They want to prosecute scientists who make mistakes?  Don't they even remotely understand the scientific process?

    These are shameful people.  Great diary.  

    Incidentally, the biggest difference between the two sides is that those who think climate change is happening would LOVE to be proven wrong by science (meaning, the planet is stable and we have no catastrophic warming) while the deniers will never admit to being wrong.

  •  Time to flip the script. (9+ / 0-)

    The science is mostly settled. Since this is no longer a scientific battle, but a political one, it is time to use political tactics.

    Scientists need to take off those white lab coats and get ready for a dirty, dirty fight.

    1. We need to reverse the burden of proof. Stop trying to prove CO2 causes warming. Make Exxon prove it doesn't cause warming. They are proposing a change in the composition of the atmosphere! Make them prove it's safe!
    1. We need to go after the economists. Anyone who says that mitigating GW will be "costly" needs to be called out. Make them show their economic models. (Models? You mean models are reliable?) Question their cost analysis. Economics is a lot shakier than Physics!
    1. Make Deniers state specific conditions under which they would accept or falsify the AGW hypothesis. This is technical science-speak for, "make them admit that they won't do anything until the world is flooded." A typical question along this line is, "OK, how hot must it get before you admit there's a problem? 100 degrees? 101 degrees?"

    Lastly, I am sorry for all the scientists who chose their profession because they wanted to avoid Bullshit and live a life devoted to truth and facts. I feel your pain. But it looks like we are in big trouble, and it has fallen to you to fight this ugly, dirty battle against liars, shills, and idiots.  This is not what you signed up for, but it is what the World needs you to do.

    •  All of that is true (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mataliandy, bluegrass50

      But it presumes that this is an honest debate on substance. It isn't. The deniers and the dirty energy corporate interests have no substance to debate on. They know that. That is why they are conducting a disinformation public relations campaign to make sure conservatives are part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

      We are in big trouble because the liars are winning over just enough people to make policy change virtually impossible until the environmental conditions are so clear even Rush Limbaugh gets it.

      Please help the people of Haiti

      by DWG on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 08:22:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  IMO it doesn't presume that at all (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mataliandy, FishOutofWater

        The RWNM is trying to convince the non-scientist electorate that honesty and substance is the exclusive property of the denialist faction. The actions MM advocates are designed to show the public that the deniers' positions are neither honest nor substantive.

        May I bow to Necessity not/ To her hirelings (W. S. Merwin)

        by Uncle Cosmo on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 10:52:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  DISTRACTION: We need to start hammering home (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, B Amer

    a different point:

    (sorry, your diary is an excellent one),

    but it hit me a long time ago - maybe five years or so - that whether or not there is global warming, the goals should still (and must be) the same:

    We have an economy that depends on growth

    We fuel it with finite resources, that are depleted with inverse proportion to the growth.

    Let that sink in.

    We have X amount of fuels on Earth.

    There will never be any more than X. Not now, not tomorrow, not ever.

    Capitalism says that if we use up some portion of X to fuel our economy this year - say 0.5%x - then in order to sustain the growth that capitalism needs to funcion properly, we will use

    0.5% plus MORE X next year.

    We've got less and less stuff

    we're using it faster and faster every year.

    This is not rocket science.

    it's not brain surgery.

    We're headed towards disaster even if an Ice Age started tomorrow.

    Global Warming/Climate Change/Environmentalists have asked only for the same things for 30 years:

    Find some form of energy to rely on that won't run out.

    Make the machines and devices we do use that consume that fuel more efficient.

    These two goals ARE NOT at odds with capitalism - but the choice of fuels are.  

    Got it yet?

    Please - help me spread this.

    It's not just that the climate is changing

    but a move towards efficiency and renewable resources is inevitable -

    ...unless you really believe that it is inevitable that there will be a war that kills most of us and makes the planet uninhabitable.

    Sorry if I hijacked anything.

    George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

    by snafubar on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 08:03:50 AM PST

  •  yes. The "skeptics" are the worst kind (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DWG

    of demagogues, willfully distorting, lying, and misleading.  Unfortunately many of them post here regularly.

  •  Many skeptics are bullies (not all) (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, DWG

    Agree 100% there.

    Check out this article from  The SF Chronicle and then the comments below. We actually have a relatively friendly crowd around here, relative to lots of other sites I've seen.

    350.org! The climate can't wait.

    by B Amer on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 08:10:47 AM PST

    •  True (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mataliandy

      Not all are bullies. However, Anthony Watts, Joseph D'Aleo, Christopher Monckton, Marc Morano, Peter Gill, and James Inhofe are clearly attempting to intimidate scientists.

      There are really two types of "skeptics" out there. There are the high profile disinformation specialists working with corporate interests to wage war on climate science. And then there are those people out there who have been persuaded by them. The later group can be just as nasty as the disinformation specialists, but you can also find some that are less overtly hostile.

      Please help the people of Haiti

      by DWG on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 08:31:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Skeptics (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, bluegrass50

    Skeptics are the ones who have  us that global warning is both happening, and that it is man-made.

    Skeptical Empiricists.  Y'know, scientists.

    So yeah, People cynically calling themselves "skeptics"  is right.  They are no such thing.  They are either ignorant, deceitful, or both.

    In short, they are Naysayers.

  •  wouldn't say I was a skeptic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    datasky

     But from evidence I've seen, I can't buy into the 'man-made' global warming thing. So, I'm not a "skeptic", I honestly believe it's 100% bunk. And I'm not alone - other than being one of the rare members of Daily Kos to admit it in public.

  •  But It Snowed In Alabama, Texas, Florida, etc.! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, slippytoad, DWG

    That's because there's more energy in the atmosphere so turbulent fluid flow is happening more frequently.

    You can't reason with people who are less intelligent than a mud puddle.

  •  This is a wonderful diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, DWG

    Filled with many words.

    But I submit to you that it is like trying to wrestle with someone covered in taffy.  All you do is get yourself all sticky and irritated.

    The #1 reason I have to doubt climate change skeptics:

    THEY ARE WRONG.

    The facts are already in on climate change and have been for decades.  The reality that our climate IS changing is inescapable.  Here's another reality I'd like to offer to you:

    Find two photographs of the Rocky Mountains.  One taken in winter of the 1970's.  Another taken over the last two or three years.  That will be your proof right there.

    I submit this proof because I grew up there.  I remember the mountains used to be a LOT snowier in the summer than they are now.  

    Take America back -- Tax the rich, shove healthcare reform down Republican throats, and grab a mop. DO NOT apologize.

    by slippytoad on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 10:33:43 AM PST

  •  I just sent a nice email to Gavin Schmidt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DWG

    Letting him know that many of us appreciate the work he's doing on our behalf. I hope others will do the same. The email addy is at the bottom of this page.

    •  Bless you (0+ / 0-)

      Thank you for doing that. It is a great idea to let these folks we appreciate their hard work and courage in having to contend with the smear campaign orchestrated by energy companies.

      Please help the people of Haiti

      by DWG on Sat Mar 13, 2010 at 05:12:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  mid-day doesn't work for substantive diaries (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DWG

    Unless it's breaking news, environmental diaries get overlooked mid-day. Mid-day is when only breaking news, celebrity pop and meta wars get noticed. Many people don't have the time to read substantive diaries mid-day.

    I'm very glad this outstanding diary got rescued. I would have missed it.

    The Heartland institute is like the creation science museum for climate change. The right wing has its own set of "facts".

    look for my DK Greenroots diary series Wednesday evening. "It's the planet, stupid."

    by FishOutofWater on Sat Mar 13, 2010 at 05:05:25 AM PST

    •  Good suggestion (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FishOutofWater

      I might get more "eyes" in the evening. Thanks for the heads up.

      The difference between the Discovery Institute and Heartland Institute is money. The stakes in the disinformation campaign about evolution and climate change are light years apart. Discovery Institute wants future generations to be stupid. Heartland Institute wants future generations to suffer for our greed.

      Please help the people of Haiti

      by DWG on Sat Mar 13, 2010 at 05:21:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have had no luck between 9a & 4p EST (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DWG

        I have seen other people have success with news reports on a legal decision or legislation on environmental matters.

        Many millions have been spent on lobbying congress to protect dirty coal and fossil fuel businesses. Many millions more have been spent on disinformation. There's an enormous amount of money involved in protecting the status quo.

        look for my DK Greenroots diary series Wednesday evening. "It's the planet, stupid."

        by FishOutofWater on Sat Mar 13, 2010 at 05:55:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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