The Left sees “Climate buffoons” and “deniers”. What do they see in the mirror?

Summary:  Today we look at one of the most interesting aspects of US politics. The rhetoric about climate by both Left and Right runs hot, pretending to scientific authority. But both sides have abandoned science, except as window-dressing. Here we review one example, comparing the rhetoric with the science. Bad news: millions believe the propaganda of Left and Right. Good news: journalists are slowly seeing the problem, and responding. Conclusion: we’ll have to do better if America is to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Science

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Contents

  1. About “Climate buffoons’ real motives”
  2. About those droughts
  3. About the UK floods
  4. Did global warming cause the polar vortex?
  5. For More Information

(1)  About “Climate buffoons’ real motives”

California’s record-breaking drought. Britain’s record-breaking floods. Australia’s unprecedented heat wave. And the polar vortex, times three.The only thing that matched the degree of extreme weather we saw this past winter was the extreme amount of climate denial that arose in response.

— From “Climate buffoons’ real motives: 5 reasons they still spout debunked garbage“, Lindsay Abrams, Salon, 6 March 2014 — “From greed to idiocy, here’s the true agenda of deniers who still claim climate change isn’t happening”

Quite a righteous opening, but factually challenged. Every week brings many similar articles, all examples of the Left’s abandonment of the IPCC, the major climate agencies, and of climate science.

The Left supported science against the Right when politically useful, then jilted science for more useful if poorly supported alarmists. Science, one of our most powerful tools to understand and shape our world, has few friends in either the Republican or Democratic Parties today (see these polls for scary Republican opinions about climate change). It’s a serious problem, perhaps to have unimaginably horrific consequences.

Let’s review the evidence rebuking Ms Abrams’ alarmist rhetoric.

(2)  About those droughts

California and Australia have histories of frequent, severe, and long droughts. Droughts worse and longer than recent ones. More generally, the consensus of climate scientists is clear about the global trend in droughts.

(a)  Aspen Global Change Institute’s “Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate” (CCSP, 2008):

Similarly, long-term trends (1925-2003) of hydrologic droughts based on model derived soil moisture and runoff show that droughts have, for the most part, become shorter, less frequent, and cover a smaller portion of the U. S. over the last century (Andreadis and Lettenmaier, 2006). The main exception is the Southwest and parts of the interior of the West, where increased temperature has led to rising drought trends (Groisman et al. , 2004; Andreadis and Lettenmaier, 2006). The trends averaged over all of North America since 1950 (Figure 2.6) are similar to U.S. trends for the same period, indicating no overall trend.

(b)  From page 8 of the IPCC’s “Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation” (SREX, 2012)

There is medium confidence that since the 1950s some regions of the world have  experienced a trend to more intense and longer droughts, in particular in southern Europe and West Africa, but in some regions droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter, for example, in central North America and northwestern Australia. [3.5.1]

(c)  From the new IPCC AR5, Working Group I, Chapter 2:

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Confidence is low for a global-scale observed trend in drought or dryness (lack of rainfall) since the middle of the 20th century, owing to lack of direct observations, methodological uncertainties and geographical inconsistencies in the trends. Based on updated studies, AR4 conclusions regarding global increasing trends in drought since the 1970s were probably overstated. However, this masks important regional changes: the frequency and intensity of drought have likely increased in the Mediterranean and West Africa and likely decreased in central North America and north-west Australia since 1950. {2.6.2.2}

There is, of course, ample research supporting these conclusions.

(d)  A broad explanation: “Historical drought trends revisited“, Sonia I. Seneviratne, Nature, 15 November 2012 — “A new assessment of drought trends over the past 60 years finds little evidence of an expansion of the area affected by droughts, contradicting several previous estimates.”

(e)  One study, with a more technical analysis: “Little change in global drought over the past 60 years“, Justin Sheffield et al, Nature, 15 November 2012 — From the abstract:

Drought is expected to increase in frequency and severity in the future as a result of climate change, mainly as a consequence of decreases in regional precipitation but also because of increasing evaporation driven by global warming. … More realistic calculations, based on the underlying physical principles that take into account changes in available energy, humidity and wind speed, suggest that there has been little change in drought over the past 60 years.

(f)  What are the worst drought months in America from 1900 to March 2013?

Top months with the greatest extent of Moderate–Extreme on the Palmer Drought Index. (Source here)

Albert Bierstadt's Storm in the Mountains
Albert Bierstadt’s Storm in the Mountains (1870)
1934 – July 80.3
1934 – Aug 78.0
1934 – June 75.0
1934 – May 73.1
1934 – Sept 70.3
1934 – Oct 68.2
1934 – April 63.9
2012 – July 62.8
1939 – Dec 62.5
2012 – Aug 61.0

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(g)  Good news: the NY Times is on the job

Many journalists are doing excellent work reporting on both the consensus and frontiers of climate science. Such as these:

  1. Science Linking Drought to Global Warming Remains Matter of Dispute“, New York Times, 16 February 2014
  2. A Climate Analyst Clarifies the Science Behind California’s Water Woes“, Andrew C. Revkin, New York Times, 6 March 2014
Waterspout
Waterspout

(2)  About the UK floods

(a)  In February the UK Met Office issued a special report about the UK storms:

As yet, there is no definitive answer on the possible contribution of climate change to the recent storminess, rainfall amounts and the consequent flooding. This is in part due to the highly variable nature of UK weather and climate.

(b)  From the new IPCC AR5, Working Group I, Chapter 2: Floods {2.6.2.2}

AR4 WGI Chapter 3 (Trenberth et al., 2007) did not assess changes in floods but AR4 WGII concluded that there was not a general global trend in the incidence of floods (Kundzewicz et al., 2007). SREX went further to suggest that there was low agreement and thus low confidence at the global scale regarding changes in the magnitude or frequency of floods or even the sign of changes.

… In summary, there continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale.

(3)  Is the polar vortex as a result of global warming?

This has been so extensively debunked it’s astonishing that it remains in circulation. There is some research suggesting this, and much suggesting otherwise. We have institutions like the IPCC to fight this kind of cherry-picking the literature, and selling the result as truth.

What’s going on with the Polar Vortex?“, Jim Overland, NOAA, 6 January 2014 — Excerpt:

In the last five years, we’ve seen the jet stream take on more a wavy shape (left hand map below) instead of the more typical nice oval around the North Pole (right hand map below). This waviness is leading to colder weather down in the eastern U.S. and eastern Asia. Whether this is normal randomness or related to the significant climate changes occurring in the Arctic is not entirely clear, especially when considering individual events, but less sea ice and snow cover in the Arctic and relatively warmer Arctic air temperatures at the end of autumn suggest a more wavy pattern to the jet stream and more variability between the straight and wavy pattern.

(4)  For More Information

(a)  About the consensus of climate scientists:

  1. Puncturing the false picture of a scientific consensus about the causes and effects of global warming, 20 September 2010
  2. Climate scientists speak to us. What is their consensus opinion?, 19 February 2014

(b)  About the Left’s crusade about climate change:

  1. Possible political effects of the pause in global warming, 26 August 2013
  2. Climate change sinks the Left, while scientists unravel mysteries we must solve, 24 January 2014
  3. Watch the Left burn away more of its credibility, then wonder why the Right wins, 29 January 2014
  4. Apocalyptic thinking on the Left about climate change risks burning their credibility, 4 February 2014

(c)  Examples of the Left’s exaggerations and misinformation about climate change:

  1. Mother Jones sounds the alarm about global warming! This time about the north pole., 10 December 2012
  2. Kevin Drum talks about global warming, illustrating the collapse of the Left’s credibility, 17 December 2012
  3. Lessons the Left can learn from the Right when writing about climate change, 12 December 2012 — More from Phil Plait
  4. Fierce words about those “wacky professional climate change deniers”, 20 January 2013
  5. A powerful story about global warming in Alaska that has set Twitter aflame, 23 June 2013
  6. The North Pole is now a lake! Are you afraid yet?, 3 August 2013
  7. Climate science deniers on the Left, captured for viewing, 29 September 2013
  8. Why the Left is losing: another example of incompetent marketing, 26 February 2014

(d)  Speculation about the consequences of blowback from the Left’s crusade:

  1. Possible political effects of the pause in global warming, 26 August 2013
  2. Climate change sinks the Left, while scientists unravel mysteries we must solve, 24 January 2014
  3. Watch the Left burn away more of its credibility, then wonder why the Right wins, 29 January 2014
  4. What does the American public want done to fight climate change?, 2 February 2014
  5. Apocalyptic thinking on the Left about climate change risks burning their credibility, 4 February 2014

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4 thoughts on “The Left sees “Climate buffoons” and “deniers”. What do they see in the mirror?

  • “…but less sea ice and snow cover in the Arctic and relatively warmer Arctic air temperatures at the end of autumn suggest a more wavy pattern to the jet stream and more variability between the straight and wavy pattern.”

    Reading the excerpt that you have provided, I think that the casual reader could conclude that global warming is a factor for the polar vortex, unless the article discusses other causes for reduced sea ice and snow cover and warmer Arctic air.

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    • DMK,

      I don’t understand your point. The opening sentence is quite clear.

      As us typical for these reports, they point to on-going research that might change their conclusion. Interpreting the word “suggest” as contradicting their primary point seems like motivated reading — not attention to the message being given.

      Like

  • One cannot deny some warming IF one knows the actual, real world data. The place to look for it is about 12Km altitude in the tropics. If increasing CO2 is absorbing more infra red radiation, it will warm the surrounding air, and this is the place it will be noticeable. Models predict it should have warmed, based on the increase in CO2, by 2.1 C. Actual measurement of the air there shows an increase of 0.7C, 1/3 the predicted amount.

    Catastrophic Global Warming theory says that CO2 is not enough, it alone will not warm the earth enough to hurt anyone (maybe 1.5C or so). It then says that it will also cause more evaporation, and the water vapor, or humidity, will increase worldwide, and that will increase the warming 4 times. Worldwide measurements of global water vapor content show no substantial change in world wide humidity.

    So, no disagreement that it has warmed, by 1/3 of 1/4 of the predicted catastrophic amount, at least the warming attributable to CO2. Conclusion, Catastrophic Global Warming due to increased CO2 is not happening, only minor and non catastrophic warming

    This is based on this thing we call “science”. In science, first, make a guess, then, make a prediction based on that guess, with actual numbers, then, check that prediction against reality, measured from observations or experiment. If the reality does not match the prediction, you are wrong. It does not matter how great an idea it was, how important a scientist you are, or how many other scientists have “consensus” with you, you are wrong. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYPapE-3FRw

    All other warming not attributable as above must be natural. The IPCC has stated, in their charter, that their purpose is to prove that warming is caused by CO2, therefore, they do not look for other causes (CO2 is taxable, natural causes are not). Since they have not looked, they do not know of other causes, and therefor since they do not know what OTHER causes of warming (such as it is) may exist, they cannot say what is caused by CO2 since they cannot say what else may have caused it (what caused The Medieval Warm Period or the other warm periods, warmer than today, without industrial grade CO2?).

    Natural things that may cause warming:
    The Pacific decadal oscillation, a large ocean current/trend probably connected with ENSO (see below) being in warm phase. The PDO was in warm phase from about 1977 to about 1998. Coincidentally, many “studies” “prove” catastrophic warming based in trends taken starting in 1979,when the change from cold phase to warm phase started to kick in. It has now been 17 years 5 months and no warming (RSS satellite database), probably because the PDO changed to cold phase. This is known as “the pause”, it was not predicted by the IPCC or its computer models.

    ‘El Niño–Southern Oscillation’ (ENSO), which periodically has an El Nino which causes warming in certain oceans and areas (semi permanent warming, that is, as compared to the air warming for a year or so). This seemingly causes a step jump in world wide sea surface temperature, however, looking at it, one sees only some areas of this, not worldwide increases of heat as we should see if the worldwide CO2 was behind it. These limited areas get warmer, and then slowly cool. The IPCC has admitted that their models do not simulate ENSO, thus, they admit that their models, basically, do not simulate earths climate.

    Clouds, more or less of them, also, ocean currents. I mention these together since a while back a bunch of climate scientists got together and asked what they did not know, and these were the two biggest problems that were hard to predict, yet had huge impacts on climate. The IPCC has stated that they do not simulate clouds well, they have thus, once again, stated that their models do not simulate earths climate. This may explain why CO2 has not heated the air at 12Km altitude in the tropics, when any heating occurs, any new evaporation caused by it (infrared cannot penetrate water, 71% of the earth is ocean) brings cloud, and cloud causes shade, which reduces the heat at the surface, which reduces the amount of infrared it gives off, for less interaction with that CO2 at 12Km altitude, so it heats the surrounding air less, as observed. This is one of the earth natural thermostats, that has kept the temperatures remarkably stable for a long time. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/06/14/the-thermostat-hypothesis/ , pretty well proven, see also other posts where it is by various observations. Also, ocean currents and such, such as the whole ENSO related thing, which shunts excess tropical ocean heat north and south to the poles, thus regulating temperature.

    Some notes:
    You seem to believe in the IPCC. Are you aware that about 1/3 of the IPCC’s so called “peer reviewed studies” are not (see Glaciergate)? Are you aware that many of those that are are reviewed by people who appear to have been selected only among those who agree with the idea, or from friends, pal review (see “Climategate”)? Are you aware that any scientist who does not agree with catastrophic global warming gets fired, blackballed, not published (editors who do publish competing ideas get run out, see Climategate)? Are you aware that CO2 is taxable, but natural processes are not, and that government may therefor be willing to fund studies that “prove” CO2 done it and not fund other studies? Are you aware that government has funded such, to the tune of about a billions dollars, oh wait, that a billion dollars A DAY (it’s at least 200 billion total now)? Might that tend to influence “the consensus”?

    About that 97% of scientists believe in Global Warming study (by Cook):
    It was almost 12,000, how many said they believed in it?
    Wrong!
    Not even close!
    Hint, they first threw out 2/3 of the studies, thus, at most, 34% could be said to agree, max. So, your guess?
    Still not even close!
    In fact, when the details of the study were actually released, the number was…
    (drumroll)
    64
    Is 64 97% of almost 12,000?

    About that polar vortex:
    The idea was, it was caused by “climate change” (global warming, in disguise apparently), due to the decreased arctic ice. They then mention the decreases in arctic ice in 2007 and 2012. Problem (hint, the word “calender”), yes, that’s right, it is not 2012, much less 2007. So, what is the ice like RIGHT NOW? In fact, based on actual, you know, observation (reality, what a concept!), the ice area is strictly average again. Not only has the area of the ice returned to average, but there is a substantial amount of thick, multi year ice. They have also admitted (never in the press of course) that the low ice periods were caused by polar storms pushing the ice out of the poles and into warmer southern waters. Yet they claim that the polar vortex was caused by climate change/low ice. Conclusion, a new idea, THE POLAR TIME VORTEX, where ice amounts from years ago somehow change the weather today! (insert eerie music here)

    This is done by the simple, often used method of simply not mentioning inconvenient facts, like the fact that all that missing ice came back and is here today. The important thing about propaganda is not what you say, it’s what you DON’T say.

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