Grist tells readers how to talk to a climate skeptic, matching your misinformation with theirs

Summary:  A new work of climate propaganda sweeps through the Internet! It shows activists preventing political dialog by pretending their opponents’ views are entirely wrong. The price paid for this is political polarization, often causing paralysis in public policy. As we see in the lack of action in the US, and the unraveling of policies enacted in Australia (and perhaps in Europe).

Typical over-the-top graphic

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A brief look at

How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic:
Responses to the most common skeptical arguments on global warming”
A series by Cory Beck at Grist, undated

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This series of posts is sad on two levels. First, that so much effort by an obviously smart person should be expended to mislead rather than inform. Second, that so many people take this stuff seriously.

But it is a wonderful example of climate propaganda — and its apparent function not to convince people, but keep believers in the flock by carefully directing their thinking — so that they believe opponents are always wrong, should not be listened to. As such it deserves a little attention except as a source of political polarization. And a reminder that political paralysis is the price we often pay for polarization (as climate activists would see today, if they were willing to learn).

Let’s see a few of the indications that the people who take this material seriously (rather than relying on accurate sources) should not be taken seriously.

(1)  Who is Cory Beck?

Before we read Beck’s analysis, let’s see his qualifications:  “Former musician, turned tree planter, turned software engineer.” That background more than suffices to report climate news and research — as routinely done by journalists, both professional and amateurs (moi).  It seems quite a weak basis for many of his statements, such as this:

I believe it was Richard Lindzen who first made this argument [PDF] about climate sensitivity. The numbers he uses don’t add up. A 35% increase in CO2 should correspond to 43% of the forcing from two times CO2 (ln(1.35)/ln(2)= 43%), which is not three-fourths.

Perhaps Beck does not understand how the numbers add up because Beck is not a climate scientist. Whereas Lindzen was Professor of Meteorology at the MIT and a lead author of Chapter 7 — “Physical Climate Processes and Feedbacks” — of the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report. This is a very common trope of activists on both sides, laypeople dismissing the work of scientists.

Beck cites no evidence in his rebuttal to Lindzen. That’s sad since there is growing literature about climate sensitivity, a subject of great importance, actively debated among client scientists (see section 9.7 of the IPCC’s Working Group I report).

(2)  Beck often provides no evidence of people saying the things he attributes to “deniers”

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“Objection: H2O accounts for 95% of the greenhouse effect; CO2 is insignificant.” (source)

The objection is of course daft, and Beck’s rebuttal correct.  CO2 contributes “9% – 30% of the overall greenhouse effect” (Beck neglects to mention that the wide range of estimates shows the immature state of climate models). But a quick Google search shows only one such claim: at the website Plant Fossils of West Virginia, dated 2007.

Becks lists many such obscure, absurd claims. They provide implicit support for Beck’s message that “deniers” are fools.

(3) Beck does not state the skeptics’ positions, and his rebuttals are often weak

“Objection: Sure, sea ice is shrinking in the Arctic, but it is growing in the Antarctic. Sounds like natural fluctuations that balance out in the end.”  (link here)

He does not accurately state the skeptics’ analysis, and his rebuttal is weak.

“In fact, it is completely in line with model expectations…”

He cites no evidence for this, since in fact the increasing Antarctic Ocean ice was not well-predicted — e.g., “the issue is reconciling the observed expansion of Antarctic sea ice extent during the satellite era with robust modeling evidence that the ice should melt as a result of stratospheric ozone depletion (and increases in GHGs).” from Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, in press.

“The local geography also plays a dominating role. The circumpolar current acts as a buffer preventing warm water from the tropics from transporting heat to the South Pole, a buffer that does not exist in the north.”

While true, the shrinking Arctic Ocean ice also largely influenced by local geography:  the interaction of winds and the enclosing land, plus the soot from China deposited on the ice.  See the many supporting citations from peer-reviewed research listed here. We only have reliable data on changes in area of polar sea ice since the satellite record began in 1979.

(4)  Beck never acknowledge that his opponents’ view is correct, even when he admits it

“Objection: The Kyoto treaty, even if fully implemented, would only save us about a tenth of a degree of future temperature rise many decades from now. What a waste of effort!” (source)

Beck’s defense of the Kyoto accords is to concede the fact, but assert that Kyoto might begin a process that leads to effective limitations on emissions. Beck’s reply also ignores the high cost of implementing Kyoto (already felt by Europe and Australia).

This could be an opening of dialog, where Beck acknowledges the legitimacy of the opposing view — then explains his faith-based alternative. Instead his reply is belligerent assertions, and nothing but.

National Geographic, September 2013
More likely than Planet of the Apes

(5)  Beck considers activists’ assertions as gospel

Beck often cites authoritative sources, but often cites activists’ — whose words he accepts as definitive answers.

“Objection: The alarmists were predicting the onset of an ice age in the ’70s. Now it’s too much warming! Why should we believe them this time?” (source)

As stated, this is perfectly true. Instead Beck’s rebuttal addresses a different question: the degrees of consensus among scientists in the 1970s and now, not the statements of alarmists — which then and now largely ignore the consensus of scientists.

Beck correctly states that there was no consensus among scientists in the 1970s, but then grossly understates the degree of concern at that time about cooling:

In the 1970s, there was a book in the popular press, a few articles in popular magazines, and a small amount of scientific speculation based on the recently discovered glacial cycles and the recent slight cooling trend from air pollution blocking the sunlight.

As evidence he cites two blog posts by climate activist William Connelly, at RealClimate and his own blog. Neither accurately describes the evidence. Such as his derisive reference to the “not very famous US National Academy of Science 1975 Report” — the well-known “Understanding climatic change: a program for action” (large PDF copy).

Connelly casually dismisses the peer-reviewed research of the 1970s about cooling, examining only a select few papers. He ignores the two CIA reports expressing concern. He forgets to mention the official NOAA history, which describes how fear of cooling resulted in a letter to President Nixon in 1972 (modeled after the Einstein–Szilárd letter to FDR), leading to the creation of NOAA’s Climate Analysis Center (CAC) in Spring 1979 (described here, with supporting links).

For a more accurate timeline of articles, see this post about the history of fears about the climate.

(6)  His most serious failing:  Beck hides scientists’ work when contracts his beliefs

“Objection: Global temperatures have been trending down since 1998. Global warming is over.” (source)

Beck replies “‘Global warming stopped in 1998′–Only if you flagrantly cherry pick.”

There is an apparent consensus of climate scientists that warming of the global surface atmosphere temperature paused sometime in 1998-2000 (depending on the dataset and analytical method used).  For 4 years climate scientists have discussed the pause); in recent years they have moved to analysis of its causes and probable duration (all of these posts have a wealth of links to peer-reviewed research and reports from major climate agencies).

The UK Met Office published a large report about the pause in July 2013:

Beck — like most climate activists — does not want you to know this, and his rebuttal goes to great lengths to conceal it from his readers.

(7)  A few important things to remember about global warming

While cheering for their faction of scientists, laypeople often lose sight of the big picture — the key elements for making public policy about this important issue.

(a)  The work of the IPCC and the major science institutes are the best guides for information about these issues.

(b)  The world has been warming during the past two centuries, in a succession of warming, cooling, and pauses. Since roughly 1950 anthropogenic causes have been the largest driver. Warming paused sometime in 1998-2000.

(c)  There is a debate about the attribution (causes) of past warming — which probably varied over time — between natural drivers (e.g., rebound from the Little Ice Age, solar influences) and anthropogenic drivers (e.g., CO2, aerosols, land use changes). The IPCC’s reports make few claims about attribution of climate activity, as this remains actively debated in the literature.

(d)  There is an even larger debate about climate forecasts, both the extent of future CO2 emissions and the net effects of the various natural and anthropogenic drivers.

(e)  For the past five years my recommendations have been the same:

  1. More funding for climate sciences. Many key aspects (eg, global temperature data collection and analysis) are grossly underfunded.
  2. Wider involvement of relevant experts in this debate. For example, geologists, statisticians and software engineers have been largely excluded — although their fields of knowledge are deeply involved.
  3. Start today a well-funded conversion to non-carbon-based energy sources by the second half of the 21st century; for both environmental and economic reasons (see these posts for details).

(f)  Posts about preparing for climate change:

Truth Will Make You Free

(8)  For More Information

(a) Reference Pages about climate on the FM sites:

(b)  Other posts in this series about global warming:

  1. Still good news: global temperatures remain stable, at least for now., 14 October 2012 — Scientists’ analysis of the pause
  2. When did we start global warming? See the surprising answer., 18 October 2012
  3. One of the most important questions we face: when will the pause in global warming end?, 25 August 2013
  4. Possible political effects of the pause in global warming, 26 August 2013
  5. Scientists explore causes of the pause in warming, perhaps the most important research of the decade, 17 January 2014

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23 thoughts on “Grist tells readers how to talk to a climate skeptic, matching your misinformation with theirs

  1. From the Met Office paper itself:

    * Global mean surface temperatures remain high, with the last decade being the warmest on record.

    * A wide range of climate quantities continue to show changes. For instance, we have observed a continued decline in Arctic sea ice and a rise in global sea level. These changes are consistent with our understanding of how the climate system responds to increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases.

    * Although the rate of surface warming appears to have slowed considerably over the most recent decade, such slowing for a decade or so has been seen in the past in observations and is simulated in climate models, where they are temporary events.

    While I applaud your efforts to get “activists” to stop lying or leaving facts out, I see a large oversight in the general trend of your own blog: you leave important data points out.

    If necessary, I can find the references, but in general, the nights are not nearly as cold anymore where I live, and the NOAA records show this. Averages may not be the best indicator of warming. The fact is that nightly lows are higher now, and significantly so. Until this recent polar vortex/jet-stream event which is causing a cold-snap, we hadn’t had real cold snaps for almost 20 years. I remember such cold being quite normal, and again, the record shows this to be so.

    The current extremely bizarre warm spell in the arctic is not just anecdotal evidence: “Arctic Heat Wave Sets off Hottest Ever Winter-Time Temperatures, Major Melt, Disasters for Coastal and Interior Alaska“, Robert Scribbler, 28 January 2014

    You’ll be happy to know that you and your blog are discussed in the comments section in the previous post to this blog.

    Consensus is different than data: consensus tends to collect around a standard interpretation of the data, rather than the data itself. In a history of science course, I learned that early proponents of relativity actually and consciously engaged in unethical behavior: they left out data points that contradicted their theory. In the end, they were right, but that doesn’t justify their actions.

    In the case of global warming and the theory behind it, it has been know for at least 100 years that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. The geological record shows that the level of CO2 in the atmosphere is higher than it has been in millions of years. I think it’s hard to see the forest for the trees for most people. Natural variability is always at play, but the endgame is obvious: all species tend to overpopulate in response to unexpected inputs of the resourced they need (oil in this case). The population naturally explodes to take advantage of this, then undergoes a die-off that is also fairly steep. Humans are naive and hubristic to think that this doesn’t apply to them. Of course, for humans, collapse (not doom – doom is more of a spiritual concept), collapse gets even more overdetermined: resource exhaustion, empire overextension, cultural decadence, the diminishing returns of complexity, and the simple historical fact that all civilizations decay – well, the writing is on the wall.

    Again, I like your blog, but see it as tilting at windmills. People need to start re-localizing, forming local economies, and prepare for the day when the emperor has no clothes. And don’t despair: the peasants in the drone crosshairs, the nations forever being interfered with by cruel American exceptionalism, the exploited workers of global crapitalism: heck, there’s something in collapse for everyone!

    1. Publis,

      I do not understand what are you attempting to say. What specifically is omitted by the climate scientist and agencies I cite?

      You give two examples.

      (1) “Although the rate of surface warming appears to have slowed considerably over the most recent decade, such slowing for a decade or so has been seen in the past in observations and is simulated in climate models, where they are temporary events.”

      I believe climate scientists are aware of that. Which is why they call it a “pause”, not a “stop”.

      In this post you will see a link (several times) to a post about scientists estimating the duration of the pause. None (that I can find in the literature) believe warming has stopped.

      (2) “in general, the nights are not nearly as cold anymore where I live and the NOAA records show this.”

      Yes, the world has been warming for two centuries; since roughly 1950 largely from anthropogenic factors. This post, and every other posts here about climate says so. Your point?

      ALSO: “Averages may not be the best indicator of warming.”

      I just report what scientists say. Do you have a citation from the peer-reviewed literature or report by major climate agency supporting your belief?

    2. Publiusmaximus,

      (1) “You’ll be happy to know that you and your blog are discussed in the comments section in the previous post to this blog.”

      I am uninterested in amateur climate science. What are the author’s qualifications to do climate science?

      Also, the comments about this website were largely wrong. I posted a comment about this website — a point of personal privilege under Roberts Rules of Order — specific response to the comments. It was blocked.

      I can guess at the reason why. Anyone writing like he does wants to retain the hermetic seal against actual climate science — such as the major UK Met Office report about the pause.

      (2) “Consensus is different than data: consensus tends to collect around a standard interpretation of the data, rather than the data itself.”

      I have no idea what you are attempting to say. I use consensus in the general sense of Popper and Kuhn in the history of science field.

      (3) “In a history of science course, I learned that early proponents of relativity actually and consciously engaged in unethical behavior: they left out data points that contradicted their theory. In the end, they were right, but that doesn’t justify their actions.”

      Still happens. The major science journals have had many high-profile articles about this problem during the past two years, driven by the large number of withdrawn papers — and concern about widespread it reproducibility of results, plus failure to store and make available data and methods.

      These problems (archiving data, following govt, university, and journal policies about public availability of data and methods) have been widespread in climate science, and are slowly improving due to publicity from skeptics.

    3. pliusmaximus,

      “Natural variability is always at play, but the endgame is obvious: all species tend to overpopulate in response to unexpected inputs of the resourced they need (oil in this case). The population naturally explodes to take advantage of this, then undergoes a die-off that is also fairly steep. Humans are naive and hubristic to think that this doesn’t apply to them. ”

      Perhaps it is you that are naive. The pattern you describe exists because neither animals or people had the ability to easily control fertility.

      Science has given us such tools, and as a result fertility is crashing, as this wave reaches each nation. One by one, nation by nation. In most cases fertility has dropped below replacement level. In many cases (e.g., Japan, Southern Europe, Iran) far far below replacement level.

      Japan is leading the way as its population declines. Other nations are close behind. The global population will grow as the demographic wave peaks, to perhaps 10 billion (which number I doubt). Unless something changes to boost fertility, the drop after that will be steep.

      My guess is that the next innovation will be the male contraceptive pill, which will decrease fertility yet again.

      The Earth will be a far better place when the population stabilizes at a lower number. Perhaps far lower number.

    4. Thanks for your replies.

      I will only address one of the issues, as I need to do a spot of work then hit the hay. Also, I am a bit upset – I myself have been blocked by the “other” web site. Or rather, my comments immediately deleted.

      I find that disturbing, because I am an honest “alarmist,” in that my take on the data is that the position of humanity, and even more so, the biosphere, is perilous. I am more of a trained biologist, so my concern and intuition has always been the loss of species diversity, trophic levels, and ecosystem degradation alone would lead to catastrophe and tragedy.

      But leave that question alone for the moment. On the other blog, I seem to have been accused of being your “sock-puppet.” In reality, I was trying to bring attention to your evidence and methodology. OK, so I have issues with some of your posts on climate science. Again, forget about that for the moment. So what seems to have happened is that someone who actually genuinely holds the more alarmist view (that is, I think we are in trouble) has been banned from a blog that espouses that view, based on the paranoid assumption that I am someone’s sock puppet.

      Being banned and shunned for engaging in honest debate. Very demoralizing and upsetting to me. Anyway, I shall re-engage, on those blogs that don’t ban me, later this week.

    5. publiusmaximus,

      “the loss of species diversity, trophic levels, and ecosystem degradation”

      All high on my list of things to worry about.

      1. Let’s defend the oceans, before it’s too late, 13 December 2013
      2. See all posts about pollution, listed here.

      “In reality, I was trying to bring attention to your evidence and methodology.”

      That must have been interesting. My guess from your comment is that you’ve read nothing on the FM website. Your comment implied that these posts deny there has been global warming, which is quite a spectacular reading FAIL. These posts say otherwise with extreme specificity, repeatedly, in many different ways.

      Try re-reading this post: count how many times do I say that there has been global warming. Then look at your little lecture about

    6. I will read your posts on climate change over time. I am willing to admit that I am: wrong, and/or skimmed instead of reading in detail, and/or was blinded by my own perspective and viewpoint. We all have issues to overcome, and it is difficult to take to the time to read and think clearly when we are often overburned with work, family commitments, and the attempt to become informed on numerous issues. What can I say? Mea culpa.

    7. Wow – in the same day, I’ve been banned and shunned from a site, and then told I had greatness of mind. Thank you. I will try to deserve the compliment.

      It’s interesting how bad it feels to be banished. I can see why the ancients used it instead of imprisonment or executions, for the most part. Humans really want to belong…

      While editing an article for work, it came to me (as some things come to you when you are thinking of something else), that one some of my bias and blindness (if that is what it is) may come from fear. I love nature, the woods, the lakes, etc. so much, that the idea that they might be destroyed and taken from me (and us) just makes me want to weep. Anyway, fear and anger and emotions in general are always there to color our perceptions. In fact, without emotion, perceptions might even be meaningless. At least science tries to remove some of the traditional modes of error and fallacy. Furthermore, many people emulate the form of science, without actually practicing it. As you rightly point out, this occurs everywhere, from both sides of the political spectrum. Big Corporate Science itself is rife with it.

      I am sticking with my dour view, however, for the foreseeable future. I don’t think science or reason or whatever is going to prevent an eco-catastrophe and partial die-off,even with lowered fertility rates. But I am going to force myself to be open to other points of view, which for me means reading, understanding, and imaginatively inhabiting the viewpoints of others. Evidently, not everyone on the blogosphere is so open.

      I see corporatism and growth-based economies as inherently destructive – kind of like automatons or AI life forms that were custom made to destroy life forms, cultures, diversity, autonomy, etc. Like Rousseau, I think that human society that goes beyond a certain level of complexity is doomed to become corrupt. Better to be a poor fisherman and free, than an iPod-clutching debt slave. Eventually in all these questions, we reach questions of fundamental values, which are axioms that can’t really be argued about in terms of which are right or wrong. Valuing biodiversity more than economic growth, for example, is what… an esthetic and a moral choice? Valuing autonomy more than wealth.. equality more than luxury. Anyway, I’m going too far afield, because I’m exhausted.

    8. Publismaximus,

      It is easy to give in to despair. For more about this see Should we despair, giving up on America?, 5 May 2012.

      To give one of the many reasons for confidence, we are at the start of a 3rd industrial revolution that could vastly improve the nature of life on this planet. Much of our pollution is the result of inefficient industrial processes (compare a chemical plant with the biological catalyst-driven processes). All of this could be swept away in a century, during which the population will crash.

      Earth could be a garden, with the damage done erased.

  2. The costs of underfunding climate science

    My recommendation #1 for climate science (from this post):

    More funding for climate sciences. Many key aspects (eg, global temperature data collection and analysis) are grossly underfunded.

    My recommendations for climate science are routinely mocked by alarmists, who prefer their own gradiose plans to the nuts and bolts of research. Here’s what we get when climate science is neglected as a not-useful pawn by Right and Left:

    Vital El Niño monitoring system collapsing after Congress cut its maintenance funds, Jeff Tollefson, Nature, 23 January 2014 — “US budget woes cripple a key mooring array in the tropical Pacific Ocean.” — Excerpt:

    An ocean-monitoring system that extends across the tropical Pacific is collapsing, depriving scientists of data on a region that influences global weather and climate trends.

    Nearly half of the moored buoys in the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) array have failed in the past two years, crippling an early-warning system for the warming and cooling events in the eastern equatorial Pacific, known respectively as El Niño and La Niña. Scientists are now collecting data from just 40% of the array.

    “It’s the most important climate phenomenon on the planet, and we have blinded ourselves to it by not maintaining this array,” says Michael McPhaden, a senior scientist at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Seattle, Washington. McPhaden headed the TAO project before it was transferred out of NOAA’s research arm and into the agency’s National Weather Service in 2005.

    The network was developed over the course of a decade following the massive El Niño of 1982‒83. NOAA maintains some 55 buoys across the eastern and central Pacific that monitor weather conditions as well as water temperatures down to 500 metres. Working in concert, the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) maintains another dozen buoys in the western tropical Pacific. Combined, the monitoring system has become a cornerstone for seasonal weather forecasting given the tropical Pacific’s influence on broader weather patterns.

    The array’s troubles began in 2012, when budget cuts pushed NOAA to retire a ship dedicated to performing the annual servicing that keeps the TAO buoys in working order. According to McPhaden, NOAA’s annual budget for the project stood at about US$10 million to $12 million before 2012 — a figure that included around $6 million to cover the dedicated ship. In fiscal year 2013, the agency spent $2 million to $3 million to charter boats for maintenance runs, but McPhaden says that these operations have not been enough to keep the system going.

    1. “Vital El Niño monitoring system collapsing after Congress cut its maintenance funds”

      This is crazy. The El Niño/La Niña phenomena are recurring in time spans measured in years. This is not about compiling data to make climate forecasts for the next century, but figuring out massive climate and weather influences in the next decade. Procuring those useless, buggy F-35 airplanes, on the other hand, that is really important.

      “Earth could be a garden, with the damage done erased.”

      The thought that damage being done now can be somehow compensated or reversed in the future (thanks to technology, demographic reduction, improved production processes, etc) is an illusion. Many processes are irreversible.

      Once species have been hunted/fished to extinction, topsoil washed away, water reserves overpolluted with chemical or radioactive waste, or fragile landscapes turned into deserts because of deforestation and overgrazing, they are permanently gone and cannot be replaced — at least not in anything less than geological time-scales. Nothing we can do will “erase the damage”.

    2. guest,

      “Many processes are irreversible. ”

      True, but less than people often think. Much of the worst damage done to the planet results from war. Yet the scenes of mechanized horror from WW2 — the bombings, the massive oil spills in biologically sensitive areas (e.g., oil tankers blown up amidst the Pacific islands), etc — have healed.

      Even our atomic “experiments”: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Chernobyl, the Bikini atoll — show that life recovers.

      And by the mid- to late- 21st century we probably will have technologies now undreamt to repair the biosphere.

    3. Regarding the legacy of past wars, have a look at something we are commemorating this year (if you do not read French, feed it to babelfish or google translate): “Le poison de la guerre coule toujours à Verdun

      Areas so saturated with toxic elements from old ammunitions that only three specific plants can survive there, vast contamination of potable water occurring one century after the facts; not a reassuring outlook for “recovery”.

      Regarding atomic experiments, look at Hanford and Majak, where ineffectual remediation without end seems to be the fate of those forbidden, deadly zones.

      Hence, I do not think your optimism is warranted.

      As far as “much of the worst damage done to the planet result[ing] from war”, this is debatable. fishing to extinction, or changing the balance of physical processes of the planet (CO2, ozone hole, etc), for instance, have been the result of peaceful activities, and their effects both in space and in time have a planetary extent.

      Finally, I am not sanguine about technologies undreamt of, since they will have to overcome the nasty barrier of the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

    4. guest,

      Only time will tell.

      I have never convinced a doomster of anything, and I doubt I will today. For example, the articles about peak oil — and comments to them — have hundreds of confident predictions of doom by — now. Civilization was about to crash. Nope.

      I will however take comfort from the fact that so far the doomster community has an impressive record of being always wrong. I doubt that will change any time soon.

  3. Guest mentions:

    Once species have been hunted/fished to extinction, topsoil washed away, water reserves overpolluted with chemical or radioactive waste, or fragile landscapes turned into deserts because of deforestation and overgrazing, they are permanently gone and cannot be replaced — at least not in anything less than geological time-scales.

    Quite true. One vivid example? The Ogallala aquifer. This aquifer took 100,000 years to form and it’s being drained rapidly by the irrigation in the midwest needed to produce corn. Unlike many other crops, corn requires enormous amounts of water. And once the Ogallala aquifer is drained, the entire midwest of the united states is in bad trouble. This is just one example among many.

    Source: “The Ogallala Aquifer, an important water resource, is in trouble,” The Kansas City Star, 1 September 2013.

    The notion that the Left has destroyed its credibility just because total disaster hasn’t occurred yet is delusional. Oil supplies are slowly but surely depleting, fresh water is getting scarce, species are being driven to extinction at a rate never seen before in recorded history, the oceans are being fished out at such a rate that scientists predict there will be no fish left by 2050, and so on.

    For FM to claim that the Left has ‘destroyed its credibility’ because it will take a few years for the scientific predictions to become everyone is as absurd as claiming that someone who looks at their gas gauge in their car and warns “We’re getting low on gas!” is destroying his credibility because there’s still a 1/10 of a gallon left and the car hasn’t stalled out on the highway yet.

    Contrary to FM’s claims, the Limits to Growth report of the 1970s projected results which are in fact coming true right now. Scientists have found that the world is currently on track exactly as the Limits to Growth report predicted. See “Synopsis: Limits to Growth – the 30 Year Update.”

    When FM denies this, bear in mind that he’s denying documented facts published in peer reviewed scientific journals:

    Turner compared real-world data from 1970 to 2000 with the business-as-usual scenario. He found the predictions nearly matched the facts. “There is a very clear warning bell being rung here,” he says. “We are not on a sustainable trajectory.”

    Source: “Looking back on the Limits to Growth,” Smithsonian Magazine, April 2012.

    The Republicans have proven popular because they told the American comforting lies that everyone wanted to hear. That works for a while. Eventually, however, reality breaks through.

    1. Thomas,

      That comment is quite a reading fail!

      (1). Your comment is irrelevant to this post. Did you mean to post it in reply to “Watch the Left burn away more of its credibility, then wonder why the Right wins”, 29 JANUARY 2014?
      http://fabiusmaximus.com/2014/01/29/climate-denial-62915/

      (2). “The notion that the Left has destroyed its credibility just because total disaster hasn’t occurred yet is delusional. Oil supplies are slowly but surely depleting, fresh water is getting scarce, species are being driven to extinction at a rate never seen before in recorded history, the oceans are being fished out at such a rate that scientists predict there will be no fish left by 2050, and so on.”

      The Left made highly specific predictions with dates. As I cited. They have consistently proven wrong. You defense is that we still face challenges, which we might fail to meet. Duh. When we get to a Heaven that will no longer be true. But never until then. It’s a silly defense.

      (3). “Contrary to FM’s claims, the Limits to Growth report of the 1970s projected results which are in fact coming true right now.”

      I have never said anything remotely like that. The post you refer to includes a link to a post about The Club of Rome and “Limits to a Growth” which says the EXACT OPPOSITE of what you attribute to me.

      http://fabiusmaximus.com/2014/01/08/resources-scarcity-61423/

      I will accept an apology.

  4. FM note: red emphasis added to an unusually crazy sentence in this comment.
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    Publius Maximus – If I may – I share your views as to the precarious position in which we find ourselves, and I share your frustration/curiosity at the difference in perspective between myself and the authors of this site. I do regard FM as a source of good analyses and high quality information, with the exception of climate coverage. I was certainly disappointed with what went down at RobertScribbler’s blog, and I did post a comment noting that FM was not, in fact, a right wing propaganda site, but that comment remains in moderation. Even in the context of climate change, I agree largely with FM as to the conclusions of the science and the solutions. But I honestly cannot tell if FM regards anthropogenic fuel emissions as a serious threat or an overblown threat. In my opinion it is an extremely serious threat, and I do spend much of my time (this is for your benefit, FM) reading discussions between actual real live professional climate scientists, as well as listening to their freshman lectures through various free university programs. Of course there are activists who go beyond the science in their spin. But it is simply unfathomable to me to equate the denial of the implications of this problem on the right with the (potential) exaggerations of the problem on the left. Does climate change pose a real threat to global civilization? Of course it does. Does it have the potential to be as serious or more serious than global nuclear war? Yes, obviously. So what are we talking about here? Low risk (but not that low) high impact (potentially extremely high) scenarios deserve our attention. If the “pause” continues to the point where scientists start saying “hey the climate is not that sensitive after all, why don’t we all relax?” then good, let’s all relax. But no one is actually saying that. Really, FM, they’re not. I read climate scientists. I have conversations with climate scientists, biologists, ecologists. Many of them (most?) are extremely worried. And many of them do not understand or like Judith Curry’s positions or blog. Go read them for yourself, see if I am wrong. So while I applaud the fact that you no longer list WUWT on your blog roll, I am a little curious as to why RealClimate is absent and Climate Etc. is the only climate blog you link to. OK, rant off. I don’t think I will comment on the climate posts for a while. Maybe I will have something useful to contribute on one of FM’s other posts about what do do about all this mess..

    1. nnoxks,

      As usual, a reply by the numbers.

      (1) “But it is simply unfathomable to me to equate the denial of the implications of this problem on the right with the (potential) exaggerations of the problem on the left.”

      As I have requested many times, please provide quotes to your assertions. The word “Right” does not appear in this post.

      (2) “Does climate change pose a real threat to global civilization? Of course it does.”

      So does an asteroid impact. The question concerns the odds of occurrence. That’s why the IPCC puts probabilities on its statements (something your comments show an odd inability to understand).

      (3) “Does it have the potential to be as serious or more serious than global nuclear war? Yes, obviously.”

      Supporting evidence for that preposterous statement? That’s quite a weird statement (but typical of you, and reveals you lack of knowledge about these issues).

      (3) “So what are we talking about here?”

      First, attempting to educate people like you as to views of the IPCC, major climate agencies, and most climeate scientists. Second, about the political impact of tactics used by the Left. Third, how these tactics have some commonality with those on the Right (not surprisingly, as both are Americans).

      (4) “Low risk (but not that low) high impact (potentially extremely high) scenarios deserve our attention.”

      Your previous comments show that you do not understand the situation beyond that statement. The risks from climate change are high (e.g., the seas rising, as they have for thousands of years): high odds, high impact. The odds from anthropogenic climate change are lower and the effects of less certain magnitude.

      (5) “reading discussions between actual real live professional climate scientists”

      Your statements give no evidence of this. None at all.

      (6) “But it is simply unfathomable to me to equate the denial of the implications of this problem on the right with the (potential) exaggerations of the problem on the left.”

      The Left’s tactics to promote climate change are failing, as they deserve to. Polls show public support for public policy measures to be low and falling. It was the lowest among 15 issues in a new poll by commissioned by NBC and the Wall Street Journal. Countries that have taken such steps are rolling them back (e.g., Australia).

      How can you not see this?

      (7) “If the “pause” continues to the point where scientists start saying “hey the climate is not that sensitive after all, why don’t we all relax?” then good, let’s all relax. But no one is actually saying that.”

      False. Estimates of climate sensitivity are falling as the validity of the higher estimates, which generate the scary scenarios, are lowered. See AR5. This has been discussed at length in the news media, by climate scientists, and interested laypeople. You claim to read about these matters; how can you not know this?

      (8) “I am a little curious as to why RealClimate is absent and Climate Etc. is the only climate blog you link to.”

      Most climate change are too activist for public use, imo. Like RealClimate. It adopts only one view on the science, mocks rather than discusses other views, and censors the comments to maintain that narrative. That’s commonplace behavior by scientists and academics (overlapping groups), who by the nature of their work almost need to have strong opinions. But reading too often produces people like you, laypeople who have little understanding of the issues.

      Whatever Curry’s opinions are (and you have zero knowledge of her standing among her peers), she presents these issues in a low key and balanced fashion — and the comments at Climate Etc show the clash of both sides (for folks who like to read such things).

      (9) “I don’t think I will comment on the climate posts for a while.”

      I recommend you read these posts. They are largely quotes from authoritative sources, from which you could (but don’t) learn much.

      Your history of comments shows that you gain little or nothing from participating in the comments.

      • Your comments make outlandish statements. When called on them you are unable to post supporting evidence.
      • I post corrections to your whoppers (before I realized the futility, I included ample links to supporting information); but you remain immune to authoritative facts or analysis (e.g., the IPCC, the UK Met Office, NOAA).

      You are the mirror image of people posting here who get their information from Fox and the Washington Times — and so are baffled by events in the real world.

    2. nnoxks,

      “I do regard FM as a source of good analyses and high quality information, with the exception of climate coverage.”

      Since the content of posts about climate consist almost entirely of excerpt from reports by the major climate agencies and peer-reviewed literature, your sentence explains why you know so little about climate and climate science.

      You are part of the long American tradition of anti-intellectualism. Science must fit your biases, or science must change. Please take your seat next to the creationists, and let the rest of us move on.

    3. Nnoxks’ comments are a fine example of what journalist Charles Pierce (Esquire) calls “the five minute rule”. Extremists who sound reasonable for 5 minutes, until they say something bizarre.

      Think about this assertion:

      ” Does it have the potential to be as serious or more serious than global nuclear war? Yes, obviously.”

      Aside from the blast and radiation that kill millions or billions, the effects on the weather of such a war are said by scientists to be severe, far more severe than any scenario considered likely in the IPCC’s AR5. Depending on the analysis, it would cause “nuclear winter” or “nuclear fall” — with a year or two of massive crop failures and other effects. The casualties are difficult to model, or even imagine.

      Sidenote: Nnoxks’ comments are to a post critiquing an article with analysis done by a “Former musician, turned tree planter, turned software engineer.” Not citing experts, but largely his own. Weird, very weird.

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