Global Warming’s a Hoax*

Bloody good fun from Newsweek.

This summer, Texas was hit by exactly the kind of downpours and flooding expected in a greenhouse world, and Las Vegas and other cities broiled in record triple-digit temperatures. Just last week the most accurate study to date concluded that the length of heat waves in Europe has doubled, and their frequency nearly tripled, in the past century. The frequency of Atlantic hurricanes has already doubled in the last century. Snowpack whose water is crucial to both cities and farms is diminishing. It’s enough to make you wish that climate change were a hoax, rather than the reality it is.

Yes, the Newsweek article is about the hoax that climate change is, itself, a hoax.

Since the late 1980s, this well-coordinated, well-funded campaign by contrarian scientists, free-market think tanks and industry has created a paralyzing fog of doubt around climate change. Through advertisements, op-eds, lobbying and media attention, greenhouse doubters (they hate being called deniers) argued first that the world is not warming; measurements indicating otherwise are flawed, they said. Then they claimed that any warming is natural, not caused by human activities.

Now they contend that the looming warming will be minuscule and harmless. “They patterned what they did after the tobacco industry,” says former senator Tim Wirth, who spearheaded environmental issues as an under secretary of State in the Clinton administration. “Both figured, sow enough doubt, call the science uncertain and in dispute. That’s had a huge impact on both the public and Congress

The article is more history than science, which is fine. It’s very interesting to read the timeline of how much doubt a couple of dozen scientists (or self-declared facsimiles thereof) have managed to sow in the path of a few thousand scientists spread amongs the IPCC (part of the UN’s World Meteorogological Organisation), Royal Societies, Meteorological societies, the National Academies, etc.

This is part of why the jade’s tricks of questioning the data or the motives of the scientists just don’t make sense, to me. I recognise the data is probably faulty, but there is a consensus to it, nevertheless, and we insist on a high probability of a Type 1 error at our peril. Scientists respond to financial incentives as much as anybody else, but somehow I can’t imagine many are making boatloads out of it. Not compared to industry. Moreover I doubt, somehow, that several thousand scientists have been waiting impatiently for this issue to ‘take’, so that they could begin scrambling for grants over it.

Again, the balance of these things always falls, to my mind, in favour of accepting the science on climate change. I think – particularly here – many people just have too much of a libertarian’s obstinancy to be told what to think, no matter how well-supported the contention.

Stephen Colbert ought to have gotten a Pulitzer for his 3-minute Word of the Day about Truthiness.

2 comments so far

  1. Mike M. on

    Hmm…1998 is no longer the hottest year on record. Wake me up when it gets as hot as it was in the 30’s.

  2. zooeygoethe on

    That graph you showed is interesting – looks to me like a higher average with lower standard deviation, these days. Meaning your argument isn’t as strong as the ground you’re claiming with it.

    I also noticed those numbers are surface temperature for the contiguous US. I’m not saying you’re not important, but (a) you’re not that important, and (b) you need to make sure the temperatures were measured in the same place before you start using these numbers to seek humiliation of older estimates.

    What you’ve got there are some numbers, some data. What it proves isn’t much. You acknowledged that the data is American, which is good (but you also seem to claim victory and insist data be revised in one sentence – I don’t follow that logic), and I take your point – as I’ve taken the point when it’s been made before.

    As I said here, and before, I just don’t see how the balance of evidence favours the null hypothesis of no climate change.

    (I removed a mild loss of composure from here – it was polite, but unhelpful. Just so you know).

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