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Denier’s quote: True, but not truthful

December 20th, 2008 · No Comments

Links can come in from all over the blogosphere and any/all material one writes on the web are open for quick and easy citation/linkage/quotation. The other day, a prominent Australian climate denier columnist (a good example of a mass media distorter of science who is in the Hall of Shame) chose to quote from a discussion here: Sourcing Skepticism … what factors drive questioning of Global Warming? That columnist, Andrew Bolt, is quoting from here as part of an argument seeking to link those concerned about Global Warming with religious fanaticism, engaged in religious “mumbo-jumbo”.

In fact, there is such a clear parallel between green faith in apocalyptic global warming and Christian faith in the Apocalypse that some have simply married the two:

Global Warming is, obviously, a good thing because it is one of the signs of the End of Times.

That sentence is absolutely, without question, accurate in terms of the exact words being a direct quote in terms of what I wrote.   It is, however, a very clear and utter misrepresentation both of my beliefs and the material from the post.

That discussion examined various motivations and conceptions that drive people to skeptism of global warming theory from lack of knowledge to ideology to profit motivation to religious beliefs.  While I recommend the entire post for reading (and comment), here are several relevant sections.

First from the introduct0ry section:

Questioner … Skeptic … Denier …

Clearly, not every question, not every challenge to data, not every voicing of concern is the same.  Nor is every motivation the same.  This is not simply about “fossil-fuel-funding” — although it can be at times. This is not simply about seeking Rapture and the end of times — even though it can be.  This is not simply about political beliefs creating thought structures for dealing with science — but it can be.

To often, it seems, skeptics/deniers are simply stated as derived from X motivation, Y reasoning when, in reality, the situation is more complex.  While it quite possibly exists, I have yet to see a treatise examining and deconstructing different types and motivations for deniers and skeptics when it comes to Global Warming.

Yes, what are the motivating factors? Are there different reasons that drive people to questioning or denying the science?  That post was an effort to provide a first-order look at what motivates different ways of looking at the issue. Here is the “religious” section that Bolt quotes from.


There are a multitude of ways that religion can influence views re Global Warming. Note, there are many religious belief can drive a serious concern about the environment and therefore action to work re Global Warming. The below is not representative of “religious beliefs and Global Warming” but a sketch of skepticism and religion.

The arrogance of man to believe that we can have an impact on God’s creation.


Rapture is coming … Global Warming is, obviously, a good thing because it is one of the signs of the End of Times. Accelerating Global Warming would help bring Rapture closer to our time and thus should be welcomed.

Bolt is clearly using the quotation, with a link to my work, to somehow assert that that these are somehow my beliefs rather than part of a discussion seeking to embrace global warming with open arms as a path to hasten the Messiah’s return.

In any event, like many deniers, Bolt often seems to feel free to misrepresent.  For example, Jeff Severinghaus, Professor of Geosciences at the University of California, San Diego, had this to say about Bolt’s (mis)use of his work for a column:

“Many, many other studies have found that carbon dioxide causes the earth to warm. This is not controversial, and to continue to deny it is akin to denying that cigarette smoking causes cancer,” Severinghaus told Crikey. “The evidence for a human-caused warming of the globe is overwhelming. The scientific debate is over, and what we are seeing now is an attempt to mislead the public.”

Severinghaus explained how Bolt had been slippery with the facts, “…Bolt omitted the key piece of information that the warmings took 5,000 years, thus misleading the reader into thinking that carbon dioxide was not warming at the same time as temperature and thus cannot have caused the warming…”

Severinghaus wrote a letter to the editor of the Sunday Mail, but it was never published. He posted a comment on Bolt’s blog but told Crikey “…effectively I have not been able to make much if any response”.

“At the very least I would like it to go on record that Bolt’s abuse of my science is not done with my approval,” says Severinghaus.

So is the professor sick of having his research misrepresented in the press? “My research actually mostly isn’t misrepresented,” he told Crikey. “But it is sometimes misrepresented on climate-denialist websites. I suspect, though do not know, that Bolt got the info from a climate-denialists website.”

Tags: Global Warming · climate change · climate delayers · global warming deniers · journalism · skeptic