A look at the workings of climate propaganda

Summary: Left and Right in America are in thrall to propaganda. Here is the latest in climate doomsterism. This shows how it turns science into propaganda. It does not explain why we love these stories. It does not explain how we can regain our skepticism and desire to see the world clearly. See the end section for those answers.

Clock hourglass

Here is the latest in doomster coverage by Chris Mooney in the WaPo…

One of the most worrisome predictions
about climate change may be coming true

“Two years ago, former NASA climate scientist James Hansen and a number of colleagues laid out a dire scenario in which gigantic pulses of fresh water from melting glaciers could upend the circulation of the oceans, leading to a world of fast-rising seas and even superstorms.

“Hansen’s scenario was based on a computer simulation, not hard data from the real world, and met with skepticism from a number of other climate scientists. But now, a new oceanographic study appears to have confirmed one aspect of this picture — in its early stages, at least.

“The new research, based on ocean measurements off the coast of East Antarctica, shows that melting Antarctic glaciers are indeed freshening the ocean around them. And this, in turn, is blocking a process in which cold and salty ocean water sinks below the sea surface in winter, forming ‘the densest water on the Earth,’ in the words of study lead author Alessandro Silvano, a researcher with the University of Tasmania in Hobart. This Antarctic bottom water has stopped forming in two key regions of Antarctica, the research shows — the West Antarctic coast and the coast around the enormous Totten glacier in East Antarctica.”

Buried into the article is information putting this in a less dramatic context.

“Hansen said that ‘this study provides a nice small-scale example of processes that we talk about in our paper. …On the large-scale issue, it is too early to say how these feedback processes will play out, based on empirical evidence,” Hansen said by email. “If we stay on business-as-usual [greenhouse gas] emissions rates, so that global warming continues to increase, I expect that the freshwater injection rate will increase (mainly via ice faster ice shelf breakup and underwater melt) and sea ice area will increase. This experiment will be playing out over the next years and decades.'”

Deeper still into the article, Mooney reveals a detail that overturns the narrative.

“One limitation with the current study, however, is that although the researchers have found that deep water is not forming in two key Antarctic regions, they cannot say when a change in these regions occurred. Measurements do not go back far enough for that, study author Silvano said. Thus, it’s possible that deep water formation in these regions shut off a long time ago, well before the modern period of intense climate warming. That would make it harder to pin current events on human-caused climate change.”

Translate “make it harder to pin …on human-caused climate change” into “we’ll try, but have no evidence.”

Mooney relies on a staple of alarmists, what Andrew Revkin calls the “single study syndrome” (e.g., see his NYT articles here and here). The mainstream media broadcast scary papers but never mention those that contradict the doomster climate story. For example, a new paper by Nicholas Lewis and Judith Curry in the Journal of Climate: “The impact of recent forcing and ocean heat uptake data on estimates of climate sensitivity.” This is one of several paper suggesting that the climate is much less sensitive to CO2 than the major climate models assume. Letting people learn about this science would ruin the science is science is settled narrative.

About Mooney and the Crisis Crisis.

Mooney has an impeccable career as a Leftist. He has published in a large number of liberal media. He produced climate alarmism for DeSmogBlog (2007-2013). He wrote for Mother Jones (2012-2014). He has a BA in English. See Wikipedia.

Climate alarmists like Mooney serve several purposes for the news media, not just aiding liberal political causes. We live in what Peter Moore calls “the Crisis Crisis.” News is exaggerated into fake news because too many media outlets, with too many journalists, compete for clicks.

“It’s bad news Biblical style: plagues of swarming journalists are swallowing — and selling — every doomsday scenario in sight. …they’re talking crisis: drugs, vanishing rain forests, terrorism, Armageddon. They’re inflating stories to ten times their natural size, decrying the end of the world. Their graphics are flashier than video games, their footage better than MTV, their high-tension talk scarier than s-f.”


Amplifying this to cause panic

The WaPo article is too intellectual to cause mass panic. So it is amplified by the Leftist media. Alternet runs several articles like this every week, and none that challenge the narrative.

We May Be on the Verge of a Human-Made Climate Disaster.”

By Thom Hartmann (Independent Media Institute) at Alternet.
“Is Europe about to experience famine?”

Lots and lots of speculation. No mention of contrary research. Mooney’s article is its foundation. Mountains of hysteria built on a molehill, concluding that doom is nigh (as a thousand other articles have said in the past 30 years).

“Given the stakes – the survival of much of the western world, and “civilization” as we know it – we all must step up and become political activists.

“Note to Republicans and GOP donors: It’s no longer just your children and grandchildren whose lives you’re ruining in a distant future when you think you’ll be dead. If this happens as soon as it looks like it may, it will be you and your friends, too.”

The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption
Available at Amazon.

Going mad about climate change

We Are Talking Billions of People Displaced by Sea Level Rise

Janine Jackson interviews Dahr Jamail on “CounterSpin”, 27 April 2018. This got a large audience when listed at Naked Capitalism.

Jackson: “Antarctic glaciers are melting at dramatic rates, scientists are finding. …The most severe projections of potential impact are almost impossible to grasp: billions of people displaced? coastal cities disappeared?”

Jamail: “…The most important study recently regarding the Antarctic and sea level rise was published in Science Advances on the 18th of this month, and the title of the study is “Freshening by Glacial Meltwater Enhances Melting of Ice Shelves and Reduces Formation of Antarctic Bottom Water.” …

“And so this is worrisome for numerous reasons. One, that for a long time, scientists believed that Antarctica, being the ice continent, would either not be dramatically impacted by human-caused climate disruption, or at least minimally. But now what this means is that at least 10 percent of Antarctica’s coastal glaciers are now in full retreat, and because of this feedback loop, that retreat’s only going to speed up, and ultimately this feedback loop will start happening on other glaciers in Antarctica as well.

“And so for sea level rise, we already know that the Arctic sea ice is dramatically melting, which is going to only intensify the melt rate in the Arctic. Of course, Greenland, we know, is melting at record rates as well. And so now with Antarctica – save dramatic, dramatic changes in mitigation, in fossil fuel CO2 emissions across the planet, on a very, very abrupt timescale – right now, at current trajectories, we are on course, at a minimum, to hit the worst-case projections of sea level rise, which, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is 8.5 feet by 2100 {Ed.: in the RCP8.5 scenario}. But these worst-case projections, unfortunately, keep being upgraded every time more and more reports, like the one we’re discussing today, are being released. …

“So the urgency is clear. Sea level-rise projections are being increased dramatically. We are talking, in the longer run, billions of people being displaced by sea level rise. Entire megacities on the coast, like New York and Tokyo, that are going to have to be relocated entirely, or completely abandoned to the sea. …”

As SOP for climate alarmists, Jamail focuses on the implausible RCP8.5 scenario, the worst case given in the IPCC’s AR5. Even the Climate Central analysis of sea level shows only continued slow rising under the RCP2.6 and RCP4.5 scenarios. Note that their graph is in centimeters (one CM equals 0.4 inches). Also ignored is that the seas have been rising since the end of the last ice age – and will continue to do so until the next one.

About Dahr Jamail.

Dahr Jamail is a staff reporter at Truthout , where he has worked since 2008 – except for tour with Al Jazeera from 2010 to 2013. He reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last 10 years. He has won several awards for his work, the most recent being the Izzy Award for excellence in independent journalism. He lives and works in Washington State. His reporting is a hard-core green alarmist. For example, he wrote about the certain massive health and environmental disasters from the BP oil spill in 2013 and that Fukushima “could become worse than Chernobyl” (2011). See his website.

Jamail has written three books: The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (2009), Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (2007), and The Mass Destruction of Iraq – The Disintegration of a Nation: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible (2014). His fourth book will be released in January: The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption.

The result

A steady diet of doomsterism has warped the perspective of bien pensant leftists. As Steve Rose explains in The Guardian’s review of Infinity War.

“Thanos’s methods {galactic genocide} are hardly humane, but there is a logic to his argument: climate change and environmental destruction are inarguable threats. Human existence is unsustainable.”

I doubt Rose would so casually admit there is logic to anything Donald Trump or Paul Ryan said. But a psychopath planning to achieve sustainability by killing half the people in the galaxy – that he grudgingly admires. Even mass murder looks good by comparison to certain doom.

We have become very gullible. I doubt that any reform of America is possible until that changes. For more about that, see these posts.

The paper

Freshening by glacial meltwater enhances melting of ice shelves and reduces formation of Antarctic Bottom Water.”

By Alessandro Silvano et al in Science Advances on 18 April 2018.

An oceanographic survey was conducted on the continental shelf of the Sabrina Coast (115° to 125°E) between February 2014 and March 2015. They ran this data though a model, as described in the abstract.

“Strong heat loss and brine release during sea ice formation in coastal polynyas act to cool and salinify waters on the Antarctic continental shelf. Polynya activity thus both limits the ocean heat flux to the Antarctic Ice Sheet and promotes formation of Dense Shelf Water (DSW), the precursor to Antarctic Bottom Water.

“However, despite the presence of strong polynyas, DSW is not formed on the Sabrina Coast in East Antarctica and in the Amundsen Sea in West Antarctica. Using a simple ocean model driven by observed forcing, we show that freshwater input from basal melt of ice shelves partially offsets the salt flux by sea ice formation in polynyas found in both regions, preventing full-depth convection and formation of DSW. In the absence of deep convection, warm water that reaches the continental shelf in the bottom layer does not lose much heat to the atmosphere and is thus available to drive the rapid basal melt observed at the Totten Ice Shelf on the Sabrina Coast and at the Dotson and Getz ice shelves in the Amundsen Sea.

“Our results suggest that increased glacial meltwater input in a warming climate will both reduce Antarctic Bottom Water formation and trigger increased mass loss from the Antarctic Ice Sheet, with consequences for the global overturning circulation and sea level rise.”

For More Information

For an introduction to the current state of science about sea levels, see the posts by Judith Curry at Climate Etc. Especially these from here series about Sea Level Rise Acceleration (Or Not).

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more information see posts about doomstersabout shockwaves, about the precautionary principle, about the keys to understanding climate change, and especially these …

  1. Requiem for fear. Let’s learn from failed predictions to have confidence in ourselves & our future.
  2. Threats come & go, leaving us in perpetual fear & forgetful of the past.
  3. Dreams of apocalypses show the brotherhood of America’s Left & Right.
  4. Collapsitarians and their doomster porn.
  5. Focusing on worst case climate futures doesn’t work. It shouldn’t work.
  6. We love scary stories. The reason why reveals a secret about America.
  7. Banish the doomsters. Make Earth Day a celebration!

Important: see these posts about making America more skeptical and better able to clearly see the world.

18 thoughts on “A look at the workings of climate propaganda”

  1. Would not want the doomsters to be offended by typos like last time: Second sentence “how this workS” add an “S”. Also, “this science would ruin the science THAT THE science is settled narrative.” Get rid of that extra is, unless you are Bill Clinton, of course.

    The polynyas “are among the most active of Antarctic polynyas in terms of the volume of sea ice formed each year”. Looks like the scientists forgot the negative feedback of what boiling point rise and melting point depression means to evaporation. Must be because it is a negative feedback. Which is strange since they did include salt flux and brine rejection.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      Thanks for catching that! Fixed.

      As for the paper, I leave those critiques to climate scientists. That’s over my pay grade.

  2. Larry,

    Are you a professional climatologist?

    Have you sent your critique to James Hanson or a similar professional?

    What formal qualifications have you earned that might give us confidence that you know what you’re talking about?

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      I suggest that you re-read the post, but without the blinders.

      I am showing how the journalists mis-represent the paper. That requires no climate science expertise, just as none is required by journalists to write the news.

      I am not critiquing the paper.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      I love to see laypeople’s fondness for non-peer reviewed articles. Esp those not even in a professional journal — but a blog (which is what the Forbes website is) provide any rational basis for making public policy on trivial matters — let alone earth-sharing ones.

      This isn’t even written by a climate scientists (unlike films and TV, scientists are not generic experts in all fields).

      Now for the cherry-on-the-top: most people who are impressed with such stuff hotly mock those on the other side who point to non-peer reviewed articles.

      Around and around we go, into the fourth decade of this nonsense. But at least you and your peers are having fun!

      I’ll bet that you have no interest in the peer-reviewed literature. On the unlikely possibility that you do, here is a longish sample of the peer-reviewed literature about model validation (see section F of the For More Information section at the end). It has links. There’s not much, other than backtests (which aren’t to be taken too seriously).

      Bonus point if you can answer this question: why is this “big story” in the Forbes blog. Not as the headline paper in Science or Nature?

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        (1) The URL link didn’t format right. Refresh to see the working link.

        (2) On reflection, I may have misinterpreted your intention in posting this (you gave no context). There are hundreds of confident comments that look like that from alarmists, and they blur together after a while.

  3. I urge everyone to read the 2013 IPCC climate report, at least the summary. My summary view: there was no system of robust, traceable temperature and chemical measurements until just recently, thus all historical temperature and gas “data” are actually outputs of models fed by other things we’re able to measure TODAY. For example, we take gas measurements from ice cores believed to date to the time period we wish to model. Temperature is a different matter, but temperature data is still just inference from models for reasons explained below. Whenever I raise these issues, climatologists give flippant responses.

    Climate science is a lot of money and intellect spent on something that’s going to happen anyway on time-scales that allow humans to adapt. Looking at figure 1 in chapter 11 of the 2013 report, it’s not at all clear that near-term simulations are matching observations well (red line versus black line). Also, why does the forecast line (green) not extend to 2013? To the extent that I’m wrong about this claim, it’s the fault of IPCC scientists for failing to caption their figures clearly.

    Climate temperature “data” before the era in which we directly measured it using traceable thermometers is an INFERENCE from other measured things such as the content of ice cores judged dated through radiocarbon. No one was around to record climate temperatures thousands of years ago because Celsius hadn’t been invented yet. The observations (direct measurements) you do have appear to date to the 1960s which is extremely recent for climate time scales. Running your simulations backwards on historic data doesn’t even give a great correlation to the historic data. This should encourage modesty and humility amongst climate scientists. Maybe it does. Maybe climate scientists are being made into a political football against their will. The Summary for Policy Makers suggests climate scientists are the opposite of modest and are meddling in politics. FIgure SPM 5 is of particular concern. They have high confidence in significant human radiative forcing by comparing 2011 data to data from the 1750s (inclusive?) Anders Celsius didn’t even invent Celsius until somewhere around the 1750s, did he? Was there a robust system of tracing individual thermometer readings back to international standards like we have today? (NO) Weren’t standards bodies themselves just getting off the ground? (MAYBE) Climate scientists make claims about CO2 concentration dating back to the 1750s. Obviously, carbon wasn’t identified as an element until 1789, so when were CO2 concentrations first directly measured (traceably)? Why is the writing in the “Summary for Policy Makers” so jargon-heavy and unclear when it’s supposed to be for laymen?

  4. Also, peer review isn’t preventing much junk scientific output today. Very few experiments are actually duplicated by peer-reviewers. Most are just proof-reading for scientific plausibility (which leads to groupthink) and checking for details of the experiment that would allow someone else to duplicate it. Retraction Watch and numerous other websites document our failing scientific journals. The science that we know works is in stuff you can buy: consumer electronics, agricultural products, vaccines and some other medicines, materials, etc. Most of the rest of it might not be worth anything. It’s something to consider.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      Thank you for this useful info. I didn’t think of checking Mooney’s bio. I’ve added a note to the post about it.

    2. Russell Cook (@QuestionAGW)

      Thanks much for the added note there, glad to contribute. There’s waaaaaay more to Chris Mooney. Sometime in the near future, I plan on writing a post at my GelbspanFiles blog on how Mooney and Naomi Oreskes seem to be part of an effort to kill Fred Singer’s complaints about the lack of an AGW scientific consensus. Bugs the daylights out of me that right around the time when Oreskes invented her 928-0 consensus paper at Science magazine, Chris Mooney was quoting Science magazine’s editor ( ) about “There’s a very small set of people” who question the consensus…

      Oreskes’ recent narrative about Mooney’s 2005 work (3rd paragraph here), with regard to her ‘discovery’ of who Fred Singer was, is one of the things which undermines her credibility on how she got into the ‘crooked skeptics’ analysis business.

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        Your comment touches upon the most amazing aspect of the climate wars, imo: for almost 30 years the Left (broadly speaking) has expended massive sums and mobilized all their resources to get policy action. And almost totally failed in the US.

        Now for the even more amazing aspect: their response to this has been to double down on their failed tactics.

    3. Russell Cook (@QuestionAGW)

      One more thing: the …
      “‘There’s a very small set of people’ who question the consensus, says Science’s executive editor-in-chief, Donald Kennedy. ‘And there are a great many thoughtful reporters in the media who believe that in order to produce a balanced story, you’ve got to pick one commentator from side A and one commentator from side B. I call it the two-card Rolodex problem.'”

      …. paragraph in the middle of Mooney’s 2004 CJR article is also a talking point about “media balance” that was perfected by Ross Gelbspan, but originated from Stephen Schneider, and was subsequently promulgated by ‘Climate Propaganda Inc’: http://gelbspanfiles.com/?p=1886

    4. Russell Cook (@QuestionAGW)


      Yes, on the inexplicable doubling down on the situation by AGWers. It is perhaps one of the most baffling things I’ve ever seen. It depends entirely on the public and the mainstream media never questioning anything about either the notion of ‘settled science’ or about the accusation concerning ‘industry-paid skeptics.’ This dependency borders on the irrational.

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        Their operation also require amnesia by the public about the Left’s many previous failed predictions of doom. Plus amnesia about their failed predictions about climate: the end of snow, the many many “tipping points” (each of which replaced by a new one), etc.

        We should thank the Left for conducting this vast and expensive experiment to determine if there is a limit to the gullibility of the American public. I am happy to learn that the answer is “yes.”

        BUT – as I have written many times, it’s not over. One big spell of extreme weather might panic the public and put the alarmists in the driver’s seat.

  5. “Gee Mr Mooney, We All Need a Lobotomy” at ClimateRealist website, reposted ClimateDepot, InfoWars and more.

    “Non Science Nonsense” at CanadaFreePress, April 2010 on the fake debate with Judy Curry and Hockey Stick Mann. Curry Sat in on “first day of Thermodynamics, didn’t understand what they were saying, never went back”

    “Spencer Sorcery on Magic Gas” at FauxScienceSlayer website, my reply to the decade of self imposed ignorance by claimed skeptics on actual science of heat energy transfer in Thermodynamics and Radiation Physics. I’ve been lectured to in person by Lindzen, Singer, Curry, Spencer, Watts, Monckton, Morano, Delingpole and more, they are all wrong on climate.

    “Divide & Conquer, the Left/Right Fraud” a ten minute documentary at CorbettReport website on framing both margins of a fake debate….just like the Alarmist/Lukewarmist charade.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      “they are all wrong on climate.”

      Wow. Curry has a long and distinguished career in climate science, but she’s “wrong on climate.” Congrats on your exceptional self-esteem, to be competent to make such a broad statement. Odd that her peers didn’t know that. Odd that major peer-review journals don’t know that, and publish her work.

      Can we compare her CV to yours?

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