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Roger Pielke Sr speaks on Climate Crock: Laugh or cry?

July 28th, 2009 · 4 Comments

Peter Sinclair’s Climate Crock of the Week are steadily becoming a must watch item among those besieged by climate denier truthiness and deceit. Most recently, Sinclair took on well-known climate skeptic Anthony Watts (based, in no small part, this study).  Watts, evidently, did not enjoy Sinclair’s attention and filed a complaint with YouTube that led to the video’s removal with no serious explanation forthcoming either from YouTube or Watts.  And, as per any good fight, the commentaries are spreading — some more absurd than others.

The setting
Notable (notorious) anti-science syndrome suffering climate skeptic Anthony Watts has made much of looking at scientists work and seemingly showing where there problems with that work. Evidently, however, he has some concerns when he faces such a look; perhaps because that look provided a clear and accessible demonstration of the shallowness of Watts’ claims. A recent video in Peter Sinclair’s excellent “Climate Denial Crock of the Week” series (see, for example, this GESN post) highlighted how Watts’ work is fundamentally flawed.

Watts complained to YouTube, evidently asserting copyright infringement, and, voila, the video “Watts Up With Watts?” is no longer available.

As Kevin Grandia put it,

So what do you do when someone posts a YouTube video saying you’re a crock? One way is to complain and get it wiped clean off the ‘inter-tubes.’ …

The video was removed after Watts complained under YouTube’s Copyright Infringement guidelines. This has become known as a DMCA Takedown - with the DMCA being the US copyright law used to criminalize anyone infringing and/or circumventing copyrighted works.

… I think this is about a video that thoroughly shreds Watts and his argument that the world is wrong about climate change and he is right.

So what is it Watts? Instead of hiding behind an automated service that deletes any video on YouTube that someone claims infringes DMCA, why don’t you … explain why you think Sinclair’s video should not be viewed by the public.

Perhaps, Kevin, it is simply because Watts is uncomfortable when people are too skeptical about skeptics.

It isn’t just Kevin, others are reacting and entering the discussion.

A Watts’ ally speaks up and says something truly inane

Roger Pielke Sr has decided to step into the fray, with a no-holds barred statement in support of Anthony Watts, calls “a well respected colleague who has provided a much needed analysis to the climate science community”. “Well-respected …” Okay, let’s not touch that one with a ten-foot pole. But consider this phrase:

resorting to the absurd connection of climate to how the health issues of tobacco were reported

As per the title of this piece, a simple (painful) question: Should we be laughing or crying at the absurdity of (false) outrage that anyone would suggest that there is a linkage between “Thank you for Smoking” and what has happened with the political and social debate over climate change for the past 20+ years.

Now, the failure of this opening? That MOD Squad (Merchants of Death) are solely the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms industries. It so easily could have had those who fight against any (and all) efforts to reduce America’s CO2 emission addiction.

In any event, back to the absurdity.

In January 2007, the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report on this issue: Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air: How ExxonMobil Uses Big Tobacco’s Tactics to “Manufacture Uncertainty” on Climate Change (pdf).

ExxonMobil has manufactured uncertainty about the human causes of global warming just as tobacco companies denied their product caused lung cancer,” said Alden Meyer, the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Director of Strategy & Policy. “A modest but effective investment has allowed the oil giant to fuel doubt about global warming to delay government action just as Big Tobacco did for over 40 years.”

Not only are the tactics that global warming deniers and those who denied linkages between tobacco and cancer eerily the same, but many of the institutions and individuals involved are the same. The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) big on arguing uncertainty about tobacco’s links to health issues; bit on global warming denier. MIT Professor Richard Lindzen: ridiculed linkages between smoking and health risks; ridicules those concerned about Global Warming.  There is (was) Frederick Seitz. Monbiot even identifies the global warming denial movement having started with Big Tobacco.

In 1993, Philip Morris, getting hammered in public opinion over second-hand smoke after the release of an EPA report, hired the PR firm APCO. APCO designed a campaign to fight a ban on passive smoking by creating the impression of a grassroots movement to fight over-regulation and to portray tobacco fears as just one of many unfounded fears. What are some of the other unfounded fears you may ask? According to big tobacco, one is global warming. Interesting.

Now, I’m not sure that Monbiot is fully right on this (after all, there was denial going on well before this, fighting against George HW Bush, for example, taking action at Rio) but this is just a taste of the very clear relationship between those who distorted the science about tobacco’s health risks and those distorting the science on climate change despite Roger Pielke, Sr’s, outrage over the assertion of ” the absurd connection of climate to how the health issues of tobacco were reported”.

Despite Pielke’s protestations, the linkages between how industry and ideologues fought to confuse the public discussion of the science about tobacco/health and polluting fossil fuel use/global warming are quite clear and strong. They are clear enough that a scientific institution could write a solid report solely based on one fossil-fuel company’s activities.  They are clear enough that denying them is along the same lines as denial of global warming (and human contributions to it) and ‘birther’ assertions that President Obama isn’t a native born American.

A simple question when facing absurd statements from global warming deniers (no matter their scientific qualifications):  Should we laugh or cry?

Update:  Surprisingly, as noted by Greenfyre, there is a notable silence in the deniersphere about the Sinclair-Watts face-off and not just from Watts. Roger Pielke, Sr,’s comment seems to be an isolated one.

Interesting.

The Deniers are never one to miss a pretext to cry about being wronged, censored and oppressed. Here was a chance to rally the peasants with torchs and pitch forks to protest the vile treatment of Watts, and yet …nothing.

Is it that they are so locked into playing the victim that they don’t want the Faithful to know about censoring others?

Or are they afraid to mention the series at all lest some of the mob see it and actually learn something?

Suggested reading:

On Roger Pielke, Sr.

On the Sinclair-Watts showdown:

Tags: Energy

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 But, but (from the Watts) « Greenfyre’s // Jul 28, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    [...] Roger Pielke Sr speaks on Climate Crock: Laugh or cry? [...]

  • 2 ken levenson // Jul 29, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Adam,
    Great stuff…but the connections to tobacco are deeper still - as it was Philip Morris who essentially birthed the climate denier movement.

    George Monbiot explains here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2006/sep/19/ethicalliving.g2

    Or as I summarized on the occasion of Frederick Seitz’s death: The germination went something like this: In 1993, Philip Morris, getting hammered in public opinion over second-hand smoke after the release of an EPA report, hired the PR firm APCO. APCO designed a campaign to fight a ban on passive smoking by creating the impression of a grassroots movement to fight over-regulation and to portray tobacco fears as just one of many unfounded fears. What are some of the other unfounded fears you may ask? According to big tobacco, one is global warming.
    see: http://checklisttowardzerocarbon.wordpress.com/2008/03/07/denier-frederick-seitz-dead-at-96/

    Of course Frederick Seitz was just one of many direct links between tobacco and agw denial.

    Thank you. Post updated with some of this material. This, actually, was just a quick shot post as I was simply stunned that Pielke expressed such [false] outrage over connecting tobacco debates and global warming discussions. The linkages are clear. They are well documented. But, it seems, inconvenient facts and inconvenient documentation are irrelevant to the denier discussion space.

  • 3 The video that Anthony Watts does not want you to see: The Climate Denial “Crock of the Week” | Climate Vine // Jul 29, 2009 at 10:43 am

    [...] has commented on the video, complaining that it links deniers like Watts to the tobacco issue.  GetEnergySmartNow explains why the link is a fair [...]

  • 4 Watts that? it’s quiet … too quiet… « Greenfyre’s // Jul 29, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    [...] for the single posting from père Pielke which Adam discusses in Roger Pielke Sr speaks on Climate Crock: Laugh or cry? I was not able to find any mention of the video at all, much less the youtube [...]

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