Hypocrisy poisons the climate policy debate

Summary: We cannot make sensible climate policy because the public debate has become a food fight, with the stench of hypocrisy hanging over both sides. Here is another post in a long series giving examples. Perhaps public pressure will encourage at least one side to clean up their act.

So you call yourself a skeptic?

“Temperatures in Greenland’s interior have ranged from -25C to -60C in 2018. Meanwhile, our top climate experts believe Greenland is melting, and are proposing geoengineering schemes to destroy the environment and stop the imaginary melting inside their heads.”

— From “Greenland Meltdown Update” by Tony Heller (see bio below).

As evidence, Heller shows the December – January temperature record for Summit Station, a research station on the apex of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Located at the center of Greenland, it is 3,216 metres (10,551 ft) above sea level.” That is 50% above the mean elevation of the Greenland ice sheet (2,135 meters). He could not have chosen a spot in Greenland less representative of its average conditions. It is pretty much the opposite of the conditions where Greenland’s ice is melting. Some parts of Greenland’s ice sheet are melting, some are not. Some parts are gaining ice, some are not.

Temperatures at Nuuk, the capital, are more representative of weather where the ice is melting. Located on the southwest coast, it has a population of 18 thousand. January temperatures typically range from 13 to 21°F (-10 to -6°C). As for melting, July is the warmest month — with a typical range of 40 to 49°F (4 to 9°C). See the data here. See this description of Greenland’s weather.

Heller’s post tells us nothing about the state of Greenland’s ice cap. It senselessly mocks scientist.

Ignorance is a choice

Encouraging ignorance: see his fans respond

This is propaganda of the crudest kind, but eagerly believed by his fans.

“Hmm? I suppose ice is melting at minus 60 C. Too cold for ice. Crazy scientists.”

“It’s hard any more for me to believe that they are that dumb, and easier to accept that they are ‘denying’ scientific evidence in order to pursue certain political power ends.”

Where to go for accurate information

About Greenland melting.

“…the imaginary melting inside their heads.”

Actual experts, like those at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), provide clear data about the nature and location of Greenland’s melting. Here is the action during 2017. First, a map showing where the melting occurred — the number of cumulative melt days. There were no melt days in the interior (Summit Station is near the center).

NSID: map of cumulative melt during 2017
Click to enlarge.

Second, here is a graph showing when the melting occurred — in terms of percent of melt extant (more useful than the usual almost useless melting as expressed in tons). Note that looking at January, as Heller does, tells us nothing. Unlike Heller’s graph, they show the full picture. Like Heller’s graph, they don’t tell us if Greenland as a whole is melting.

NSIDC: Greenland daily melt plot in 2017
Click to enlarge.

The real question is not about melting.

The important question is not is Greenland melting, but is the ice sheet growing or shrinking (see this page explaining the 3 key factors, of which melt is one). The Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) provides some useful information. Turn to its Current Surface Mass Budget of the Greenland Ice Sheet page for the bottom line about the trend (although it varies greatly from year to year) …

“Over the year, it snows more than it melts, but calving of icebergs also adds to the total mass budget of the ice sheet. Satellite observations over the last decade show that the ice sheet is not in balance. The calving loss is greater than the gain from surface mass balance, and Greenland is losing mass at about 200 Gt/yr. {A Gt is one billion tons and corresponds to 1 cubic kilometer of water.}”

For more information see the chapter about Greenland in NOAA’s 2017 Arctic Report Card. Also, factors other than warming are involved. Deposits of soot on the ice increase melting (dark increases absorption of sunlight), mostly from China’s coal plants (see the papers in 3b here).

This is a frontier area in science, as research continues about the history of Greenland’s ice sheet, the many factors driving changes in its mass balance, and its internal dynamics. Lots of questions; many unknowns. For an introduction, I recommend reading “Reconstructions of the 1900–2015 Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance” by Xavier Fettweis et al in The Cryosphere (2017).

Conclusion — and a question

“Scepticism is the first step towards truth.”
Denis DiderotPhilosophical Thoughts (1746).

Heller’s article is of a kind familiar to anyone who has followed the climate policy debate during the past decade. It is the kind of propaganda activists on both sides (however you label them) frequently use. It does not provide information (the context is misleading). It relies on mockery rather than logic. It is the opposite of skepticism.

Which side is worse in this respect? Determining that would take substantial resources. Why would it be worth the effort?

That so many activists on both sides adopt similar methods is natural, since both seek the most effective ways to influence the American public. Through trial and error over decades they have discovered our big weakness: gullibility (as has the US government). It is more of a moral failing than an intellectual one, affecting many people, from the best to worst educated.

A sad aspect of the climate policy debate is how both sides tolerate — often even embrace — “their” propagandists. Tactics condemned when used by their foes are ignored when used by their friends. This allows each side to rightly condemn the other’s lack of credibility. Worse, the stench of hypocrisy hangs over both sides. Neither can enforce standards on the other. Such discipline (or honesty) can only come from within each side.

As for America, nothing — not climate policy, economics, or national security — can be rationally discussed so long as we treat everything as a grade school cafeteria food fight. When we decide to value truth above comforting lies, then we will have taken a first step to reforming America.

What might make us change? When might that happen?

About Tony Heller

“Steven Goddard (pseudonym for Tony Heller) is a blogger and the publisher of “Real Science,” a website he established to assert that concerns over anthropogenic global warming are exaggerated. …Goddard wrote pseudonymously until 2014 when he revealed his true real identity on his blog. He has a BS in geology from Arizona State University and a Master’s degree in electrical engineering from Rice University.” {From Wikipedia.}

Truth Will Make You Free

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more information see The keys to understanding climate change, and especially these …

  1. A post mentioning Heller’s work: “Did NASA and NOAA dramatically alter US climate history to exaggerate global warming?” — Probably not.
  2. Propaganda from both sides: The climate wars get exciting. Government conspiracy! Shattered warming records! Global cooling!
  3. Propaganda from Slate’s Phil Plait: Fierce words about those “wacky professional climate change deniers.” — Denial of scientists’ papers about the pause.
  4. Propaganda from Robert Scribbler: Watch the Left burn away more of its credibility, then wonder why the Right wins.
  5. More from Scribbler: About the warnings of a monster super El Nino coming to you this year (2014). — Didn’t happen.
  6. Successful fear mongering: The North Pole is now a lake! Are you afraid yet?
  7. Mother Jones’ propaganda: Mother Jones sounds the alarm about global warming! This time about the North Pole.

See these books to learn more about the state of climate change

The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change by Professor Roger Pielke Jr. See my review of it.

Polar Bears: Outstanding Survivors of Climate Change by Dr. Susan Crockford. See my review of it.

 The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change
Available at Amazon.
Polar Bears: Outstanding Survivors of Climate Change
Available at Amazon.

20 thoughts on “Hypocrisy poisons the climate policy debate

  1. What amuses me in the climate debate is the assumption that climate should not change and also that climate change is bad. Do people really assume that climate has always been stable and that Greenland was always ice covered? The Sahara was a forested area and Gondwaland an ice sheet.
    But, my children tell me… this rapid change will bring disaster… the polar bear will die out and the gas in the permafrost will be released… the trouble is that I look and see that the tree line that is limited by the arctic permafrost line will expand and that in turn will provide an extended range for temperate rain forest which in turn ill tie up Co2 in the air.
    So, some folk will croak in low lying areas; is that such a bad thing? If mankind does expire and disappear from the earth is that a bad thing? After all all of come with an expiery date and there are no guarantees handed out at birth.
    Perhaps some of the polar bears will die and the rest will learn to eat salmon and berries or mate with grisly bears and survive.
    After all we don’t believe in a God created world and given a hundred million years some form of life will emerge, mutate and evolve into some new form of life that can thrive till it all collapses and reforms.
    No matter is created or destroyed and time is endless so the possibilities are endless.
    Don’ t get yourself into a froth, don’t panic, life carries on in one form or another. Have some more weed, it will grow better in the warmth.
    It is only those who don’t have a divine presence in their lives that have joined this slightly hysterical obsession with Climate.
    As an African… we don’t have time to worry about things like this as we scrabble to stay alive in the shit hole.
    Now I am even more amused….

    1. 7zander,

      You don’t you have read much research about possible futures from climate change. Some, such as RCP8.5, are nightmarish. Your lack of concern is bizarre. Your confidence that all will be well is unjustified.

      Your comment reads like a speech by Professor Pangloss in Voltaire’s “Candide.” In the novel, life didn’t end well for the Professor and his disciples.

  2. Thanks. An excellent and informative article and a timely reminder that intellectual integrity is essential for science as it is for many other things. Yesterday, I read an interesting piece on research in another controversial policy field, Education, that I believe applies to climate and climate policy – https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2018/01/17/when-does-scholarship-give-way-to-bombast.html

    Rick Hess lays out six questions for differentiating scholarship from polemics:
    “1) Are scholars deliberate in describing what we actually know, clear about the limits of the data they’re discussing, and transparent when shifting from analysis from advocacy?

    2) Do scholars make an attempt to model respectful, reasoned debate, avoid ad hominem invective, and acknowledge that most big educational questions offer plenty of room for good-faith disagreement?

    3) When championing programs, policies, or practices, are scholars attentive to how they will play out in the real world—and not just in white papers and flashy PowerPoints?

    4) Do scholars complicate partisan narratives by evincing an awareness of past missteps, possible perverse incentives, budget constraints, and other factors that will determine how well-meaning ideas actually play out?

    5) If scholars’ op-eds, radio appearances, or television interviews were used in a classroom, would they come across as educational resources or as exercises in partisanship?

    6) In using social media, are scholars snide, uncivil, and dismissive, or are they modeling the behavior we’d hope to see from professional educators?”

    Even though #3 and #4 are a bit tendentious, I think these are pretty good and applicable to Heller/Goddard’s piece.

    As for your piece,IMO, it passes Hess’s test with flying colors. I would simply suggest adding that a net loss of 200 Gt of ice will raise gmsl by about 0.5mm, a not insubstantial portion of the overall rise in gmsl, which is what is most at stake.

    1. Bernie,

      Thank you for the interesting review, and that pointer to Hess’ article. In this post I’m using a different perspective: how do we, the audience, control the policy debate? The policy food fights in America are quite rational if we — America — prefer entertainment, tribalism, and propaganda to information and logic. If so, it is irrational to condemn activists who rationally respond to our desires.

      “a net loss of 200 Gt of ice will raise gmsl by about 0.5mm”

      That’s a point measure; the issue is about the trend. The question is about the possible acceleration in the rate of melting as the world warms and nations continue to spew soot into the air. See my posts about rising sea levels for details.

  3. Larry You present no information that Heller is a hypocrite. A dissembler maybe, the male demier version of Elizabeth Colbert, but not a hypocrite by any definition I’m aware of. Now guys like Al Gore, David Suzuki and thousands more are hypocrites using fossil fuel and it’s energy while telling others not to. Climate change deniers/skeptics by defination can’t be.

    1. Terry,

      Please read more carefully. Let’s replay the tape for you. Here is the section about hypocrisy. Do you see Heller’s name in it?

      “A sad aspect of the climate policy debate is how both sides tolerate — often even embrace — “their” propagandists. Tactics condemned when used by their foes are ignored when used by their friends. This allows each side to rightly condemn the other’s lack of credibility. Worse, the stench of hypocrisy hangs over both sides.”

      Heller’s behavior is an example of behavior “skeptics” condemn in “warmists” (apply your own labels to each side). That is hypocrisy. In the For More Information section you will find links showing vice versa.

  4. Agree that the climate debate has been thoroughly poisoned by rampant dishonesty.

    In some eyes, the dishonesty begins with the famous Senate hearings in 1998, on a date selected because it was identified as the hottest day expected and the A/C was turned off for the hearings. That hearing set the standard of tilting the playing field for analysis of this topic.

    The more recent comment by the the then Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell that she hoped there were no climate change deniers in her department, which includes NOAA, home of most atmospheric scientists in the government was another illustration of the tilt. But when the funding entity tells you what the answer is rather than waiting for the results of unbiased inquiry, it forfeits credibility of its work.

    The hugely expensive and absurdly dysfunctional shift to ‘renewable energy’ such as biofuels and wood pellet power plants instituted as a result illustrate the hypocritical policies that the dishonest climate research has brought about. The much more immediately threatening problems of ecocide in much of the tropics and the worlds oceans are meanwhile glossed over while the chimera of surging sea levels from climate change commands the political stage.

    1. etudiant,

      (1) “Agree that the climate debate has been thoroughly poisoned by rampant dishonesty.”

      I agree, but that’s not my point in this post. Rather, the hypocrisy has poisoned the debate. Each side practices what it condemns in others.

      (2) “on a date selected because it was identified as the hottest day expected and the A/C was turned off for the hearings.”

      That is a great story. Kerry has said it for years. But does not appear to be true. See this WaPo debunking.

      (3) Everybody is good at identifying falsehoods and exaggerations in the other side. My point is that neither side shows any interest in doing so to the folks on their own side. Can you give some examples?

  5. Hypocrisy yes, but hubris, and fraud too are epidemic. There’s too much information about this matter and others for people to do anything like due diligence. The gatekeepers are gone, the “experts” are indistinguishable from charlatans, and all have seemed to let their pre-existing ideological/religious biases inform their data and conclusions. People are excellent at finding just what they expected all along. Those who are careful with their words and opinions are swept aside.

    What do we know beyond “I am here and it is now,” to quote an author. And knowing for example doesn’t come from belief, however fervent. It doesn’t come from running a computer model that has been written by someone invested in the outcome and likely a poor programmer, or Iron Age book translated and re-translated and then read with or even without cultural historical context. Because fear of an impending Apocalypse, is so real seeming to so many people for such a long period of recorded history, its a bias and a field of study all its own: known as eschatology.

    As a non-scientist, but as an historian and philosopher, I rely on Carl Sagan’s bullishit detector as found in his book Demon Haunted World for matters such as Anthropogenic Global Warming. I also found the point similarly iterated by Asimov and Feynman.

    Back to first principles: experiment and show your work. Eschew hysteria and the cranks will have nothing to latch onto.

    1. Tom,

      I see few grounds for your despair. Perhaps your standards are too high. Social systems work perfectly in Heaven, but you must die to get there.

      (1) “Hypocrisy yes, but hubris, and fraud too are epidemic.”

      Hypocrisy, yes — unfortunately.. Hubris also — it is a common characteristic of highly successful people (talk to top doctors, esp surgeons). But fraud? That’s a heavy charge, for which I see little evidence in climate science.

      (2) There’s too much information about this matter and others for people to do anything like due diligence.”

      I have written hundreds of due diligence posts, about both sides in the policy debate. It takes work, but is easily done. As for climate science, the normal process of science will work out its glitches — in the usual slow sloppy way (“mills grind slowly but exceedingly fine” nicely describes science).

      (3) “The gatekeepers are gone”

      They are there. But they’re human, and fallible. All human systems work at best in a sloppy fashion.

      (4) “the ‘experts’ are indistinguishable from charlatans” and “What do we know beyond “I am here and it is now,”

      Ridiculous.

      (5) “Anthropogenic Global Warming.”

      I’m always amazed to meet a “denier”. But I’ve learned through long experience such beliefs are like astrology — immune to facts or logic.

      AGW exists beyond any reasonable doubt, and is a significant factor affecting Earth’s climate. The debate among scientists concern its dynamics, history, current rate, and future.

      (6) “Back to first principles: experiment and show your work.”

      I suggest that you read the any chapter of the Working Group I report in the IPPC’s Fifth Assessment Report. The full report is 1,500 pages long, overflowing with facts — and gives thousands of links “showing their work.”

      (7) “Eschew hysteria and the cranks will have nothing to latch onto.”

      True. But embracing ignorance does not help.

  6. This is what may be more disturbing about the debate: The policy recommendations. We know that air pollution is bad for human health. Air pollution production is seemingly highly correlated with greenhouse gases. Why isn’t there a drive to eliminate the thing that we know definitively. Pollution sourced from manufacturing in Asia is related to ice sheet melt in Greenland? Why doesn’t the West impose environmental tariffs on dirty production of goods?

    Carbon taxes in developed countries look more like tax increases designed to control people’s lives. Fine, if you want to tax Carbon eliminate all income taxes but revenue neutral taxes don’t seem trustworthy either.

    1. RC,

      That’s an interesting point. For example, aerosols (particulates) are bad news — and one of the large drivers of arctic melting. There are many sources, mostly coal — mostly from China and the less developed nations. Yet the myopic obsession with CO2 (and greenhouse gases) means these get little attention.

      “Carbon taxes in developed countries look more like tax increases designed to control people’s lives.”

      I don’t see that. Taxing things to discourage use is an ancient and proven effective tool. Much depends on how the revenue is used. Since taxing carbon is regressive, it would (imo) be a more sensible offset to sales taxes than income taxes.

  7. Without ad hominem attacks, special pleading, appeal to authority, the availability cascade, the Semmelweis reflex, and a an amazing disregard of maxims and testing coupled with a hostility to basic logic, we are merely left with belief and fraud.

    The political aspects of the proposed remedies demonstrate the engine of the bias: just another group of social misfits who want to tell people how to live. Just as you know nothing about the chaotic system that you expound upon, you know nothing about me except a brief comment that gives little to no insight. And yet, in similar vane pass an ultimate and certain judgement. I do not assert a model or authority, but basic logic: Solar and geological processes have determined climate and continue to do so; until something different can demonstrated mechanically, I will consider it humbug and hysteria: safe to ignore. Meanwhile there are actual concrete problems to address. Cheers!

    1. Tom,

      “we are merely left with belief and fraud.”

      Wow. Quite the conspiracy buff! Not much can be said to such a viewpoint, except offer a roll of tinfoil.

  8. that’s the lamest straw man attack i’ve seen in some time. I suspect, you understand my points very well, which is why you’ve chosen deflection: you have doubts you’re afraid to express perhaps? Discussing with you is no different than with an Evangelical Christian, each of you is certain beyond reason, neither of you has a shred of evidence anyone can test. AGW will wind up in the dumpster with Astrology, Phrenology, flat Earthers, Young Earth Creationists and the rest of the nonsensical maunderings of disordered minds. I hope to live long enough to see science righted, eschewing mathematical dreaming and computer phantasms, resuming actual research and testing. Science beigna verb and not a noun.

    1. Tom,

      Don’t cosplay Professor Xavier. You don’t have psychic powers, and your guesses are wrong.

      There’s not point discussing things with conspiracy nuts. Thanks for commenting. Good-bye.

  9. I was nonplussed to see a slew of AGW articles on what is an otherwise conservative website-I like my Guy Mcpherson and Voxday bifurcated, thank you. More importantly, what made this website more than a novelty and into a ‘good source’, was of course, the comment section, with the meticulous response.

    So it’s hard to reconcile the shoddy treatment of ‘Tom’ with the endearing rigor displayed hitherto. First of all: Conspiracy Nut? Really? You, joey bagadonuts, you with the ‘big list of govt lies'(REFERENCED IN THIS VERY ARTICLE)?? Miss me with that bullshit. No, seriously, fucking spare me. I allow everyone their eccentricities, if an otherwise solid conservative wants to set his hair alight about global warming that’s fine, but I shouldn’t have to endure vacuous snarkolepsy and outright libtard degeneracy.

    I mean, are you aware how conservative you come off?Like, unless I’m very much confusing you with ‘Flavius Maximus’ or something, I’ve been read your stuff sporadically since circa 2006 (a more tan/gold/navy theme IIRC), and you’re conservative in my book. I have to ask, because you’re acting ‘brand new’, as the kids like to say, on my homes Tom over here, yet if you ever spoke about AGW to a conservative before, something akin to “eschewing mathematical dreaming and computer phantasms”, not in so many words, would have been voiced.

    His opinion is not unprecedented. There is plenty of ignorance and massive margins of erroron both sides; but….do the words “Null Hypothesis’ ring a bell? Burden of proof? Ockhams Razor (e.g ‘hmmm imminent crisis or crude software?)? It does matter, which side is making the policy recommendations and lifestyle critiques. Tom and I are well within our rights to dismiss this as a generic ‘Expulsion from Heaven’ story. It’s a lot like the noble savage/rootless cosmopolitan divide, or the ‘forbidden fruit” of knowledge story, about how our intellect and artifacts/technology are a breach of nature’s Unity and alienate us from our own nature. Read the ‘pfc tyranny’ blog/book by jeremy lent . As seen with ‘White Privilege Studies’, guilt mixed with jargon/a patina of mein-stream credentials is a potent tool of the leftist nanny state, so please excuse our raised hackles and reflexive suspicion, we don’t take a benign view of ‘experts’. You see,in order to be benevolent despots, these motherfolkers have to be your intellectual AND moral superiors-thhink back to ‘axis of evil’ and look at the pedigree of those neocon thinktanks! As Gerald (ex)Celente is fond of saying, https://ivn.us/2010/06/25/harvard-princeton-yale-bullets-bombs-and-banks/, six words destroyed America: Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Bullets, Bombs, and Bailouts. So I see yall busy on the re-runs, but I’ll jst have to put yall on hold, cuz I’m boozin for a .snoozin.

    1. Sibernetic,

      (1) “an otherwise conservative website”

      The FM website is not a conservative website. The purpose is to help revitalism America. Ideological blinders are anathema, as is the tribal mentality now dividing us.

      (2) “I was nonplussed to see a slew of AGW articles”

      I don’t know of any climate scientists — and I know quite a few — who do not believe in AGW. The debate is about magnitudes and dynamics, as usual in science. More broadly –There are over 300 posts about climate on the FM website. They represent, as best I can, what scientists know. I speak out about propagandists, like Heller, who exaggerate or misrepresent matters.

      (3) “You …with the ‘big list of govt lies’?”

      You conflate two different phenomena. People lie, even high government officials. Belief that thousands of climate scientists around the world are concealing and misrepresenting data presumes a conspiracy on a scale never before seen in history. It’s “tin foil hat” thinking.

      (4) “are you aware how conservative you come off?”

      You are mistaken. I despise identity politics and the resulting tribal food fight. I began writing in 2003, showing evidence that our mad foreign wars were not going well and unlikely to succeed. For the next 12 years “conservatives” attacked me with their bogus data and logic. Ditto with my early posts about income inequality (before it became front-page news), and those about conservatives’ zombie economics and faux history.

      In general, imo the far Left and far Right are both moving against the rest of us. It is one of the worst aspects of our increasingly dysfunctional politics.

      (5) “Tom and I are well within our rights to dismiss this as a generic ‘Expulsion from Heaven’ story.”

      Your defense of Tom does not address anything I said, and seems like a rant to the sky. Please give a specific or two.

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