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