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Whacking 16 moles …

January 27th, 2012 · 24 Comments

A major challenge exists: it is far easier to dispense truthiness (and outright deceit)than it is to Whack A Mole Fever have to run after and rebut it.  When it comes to anti-science syndrome suffering climate deniers and delayers, the whack-a-mole campaign of dealing with deceit, deception, and diversion is a never-ending and utterly exhausting process. And, that exhaustion is one of the powerful items in the quiver for serial deceivers — eventually the exhausted truthtellers run out of energy (and other resources) to respond. And, the deceit lives on without serious challenge.

Of course, there is the not insignificant issue that serious interests are aligned with downplaying (even dismissive) climate change risks.  Thus, it is easy for anyone with even a shred of credentials to get a powerful megaphone in, for example, the Murdoch disinformation empire.

Today’s Wall Street Journal provides (yet) another example of this sad reality.

With the publication of “No Need to Panic About Global Warming”, the editor made sure to reinforce the argument by pointing to the “authority” of “16 scientists listed at the end of the article” who signed it. (As   Yes, 16 … although not all are scientists, still a heady number of some (reasonably) well known names, such as aviation pioneer Burt Rutan.  These 16, however, are less well known for their passionate rejection of the scientific community’s understanding of climate risks and outright denial of many fundamental concepts.

After the fold is an initial look at (yet) another recklessly misleading Wall Street Journal opinion piece.

No Need to Panic About Global Warming

There’s no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to ‘decarbonize’ the world’s economy.

The basic point:  “no need to panic” translates into delaying action.

And, well, what does “compelling” mean?  Acidification of the oceans, melting Arctic ice, changing planting guidance, disruptive weather patterns, and such are pretty compelling to most of the scientific community. And, of course, when speaking of “most”, we are talking of something like 97% of the relevant experts.

Editor’s Note: The following has been signed by the 16 scientists listed at the end of the article:

Ah, but there are 16 in disagreement … even as, when you look at the specialities and have reasons to respect some of them in their own domain (or even be in awe of them), most are not climate science experts.

A candidate for public office in any contemporary democracy may have to consider what, if anything, to do about “global warming.” Candidates should understand that the oft-repeated claim that nearly all scientists demand that something dramatic be done to stop global warming is not true. In fact, a large and growing number of distinguished scientists and engineers do not agree that drastic actions on global warming are needed.

Use of that “large” and “distinguished” to reinforce the appeals to authority … in the face of global scientific expertise backing climate science conclusions about a warming planet and humanity’s role in that warming.

Perhaps the most inconvenient fact is the lack of global warming for well over 10 years now.

Sigh …

Yes, let’s peg everything on one year, one date: 1998.

However, 9 of the 10 hottest years on record are in the past decade (with 1998 being the one exception).

The 2000s were hotter than the 1990s globally. And, the 1990s were hotter than the 1980s. And, the 1980s …

This group of 16 “scientists” is rejecting basic scientific honesty with this one sentence alone.  When one speaks to climate, one speaks to trends and longer periods.  One does not peg everything on a specific year.  That “inconvenient fact” is nonexistent if one starts at 1997 or 1999 rather than 1998.  And, well, if one uses (more appropriately) 30-year trend lines, that global warming pattern is quite clear.

Their “inconvenient fact” is actually simply sleight of hand misrepresentation.

skeptics v realists v3

This graphic is from Skeptical Science, which explains:

As Figure 1 shows, over the last 37 years one can identify overlapping short windows of time when climate “skeptics” could have argued (and often did, i.e. here and here and here) that global warming had stopped.  And yet over the entire period question containing these six cooling trends, the underlying trend is one of rapid global warming (0.27°C per decade, according to the new Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature [BEST] dataset).  And while the global warming trend spans many decades, the longest cooling trend over this period is 10 years, which proves that each was caused by short-term noise dampening the long-term trend.

This moles’ line about “no warming”, of course, shows the level of disdain that these 16 have for honest engagement.

The fact is that CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas, exhaled at high concentrations by each of us, and a key component of the biosphere’s life cycle. Plants do so much better with more CO2 that greenhouse operators often increase the CO2 concentrations by factors of three or four to get better growth. This is no surprise since plants and animals evolved when CO2 concentrations were about 10 times larger than they are today. Better plant varieties, chemical fertilizers and agricultural management contributed to the great increase in agricultural yields of the past century, but part of the increase almost certainly came from additional CO2 in the atmosphere.

Perhaps the 16 would like to engage with the science that shows lower mental performance with increased CO2 concentrations in classrooms

Or, how high Co2 concentrations can kill

Or the science looking how increased CO2 concentrations have mixed agricultural impacts, dependent on what type of plant and crop, and increased Co2 can actually lead to reduced quality yields in some circumstances …

Or the reality of  Liebig’s law which is that growth is limited to its scarcest resource.  If there are temperature or nutrient or water or other limitations, that increased CO2 will not foster increased productivity. (Those Dutch roses, well, are fed lovingly massive amounts of water and nutrients in a temperature controlled environment.)

Or …whack

This argument path, ever so lovingly followed by so many climate science deceivers, is like arguing against regulations limiting arsenic or mercury pollutants since these are “natural” elements.  Let us take another angle, we all need water to live and without it we will die.  However, drinking too much water is also dangerous and, well, can kill you — try drinking a swimming pool …

And … And … And …


Why is there so much passion about global warming … There are several reasons, but a good place to start is the old question “cui bono?” Or the modern update, “Follow the money.

Alarmism over climate is of great benefit to many, providing government funding for academic research and a reason for government bureaucracies to grow. Alarmism also offers an excuse for governments to raise taxes, taxpayer-funded subsidies for businesses that understand how to work the political system, and a lure for big donations to charitable foundations promising to save the planet.

Another tool of deceivers … create an appearance of ‘pox on both houses’ by accusing the other that which seems plausible as undermining your own argument.

Wow, a “lure for big donations” has led every single significant relevant scientific society in the world (with one interesting exception) to state that climate change is happening, humanity is driving it, and we should take action.  Every … Single … One …  For that “lure of big donations”, these thousands of scientists and these institutions have thrown science to the side.

Well, what is bigger?  “Big donations to charitable foundations” or the fossil fuel industry (the Exxon-Mobils, Peabody, Koch Brothers)?

Lysenko and his team lived very well, and they fiercely defended their dogma and the privileges it brought them.

… we have a message to any candidate for public office: There is no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to “decarbonize” the world’s economy.

Declarative statements don’t necessarily make the statement truthful.

Even if one accepts the inflated climate forecasts of the IPCC, aggressive greenhouse-gas control policies are not justified economically. A recent study of a wide variety of policy options by Yale economist William Nordhaus showed that nearly the highest benefit-to-cost ratio is achieved for a policy that allows 50 more years of economic growth unimpeded by greenhouse gas controls. This would be especially beneficial to the less-developed parts of the world that would like to share some of the same advantages of material well-being, health and life expectancy that the fully developed parts of the world enjoy now.

How did Professor Nordhaus perceive this (mis)use of his material?  “The piece completely misrepresented my work. My work has long taken the view that policies to slow global warming would have net economic benefits, in the trillion of dollars of present value. … I have advocated a carbon tax for many years …. I can only assume they either completely ignorant of the economics on the issue or are willfully misstating my findings.”

Beyond sigh …

Many other policy responses would have a negative return on investment. And it is likely that more CO2 and the modest warming that may come with it will be an overall benefit to the planet.

If elected officials feel compelled to “do something” about climate, we recommend supporting the excellent scientists who are increasing our understanding of climate with well-designed instruments on satellites, in the oceans and on land, and in the analysis of observational data. The better we understand climate, the better we can cope with its ever-changing nature, which has complicated human life throughout history. However, much of the huge private and government investment in climate is badly in need of critical review.

Classic climate delayer … let’s invest to learn more to help guide action tomorrow but put off action today because we need to know “more” before acting.

Sigh, every serious look at this path comes to the same conclusion: delaying action means more expensive paths toward climate mitigation with increased risk that the actions will be inadequate.

Every candidate should support rational measures to protect and improve our environment, but it makes no sense at all to back expensive programs that divert resources from real needs and are based on alarming but untenable claims of “incontrovertible” evidence.

What is sad is that these “16” are arguing against taking “rational measures” with misleading representations of fact.

They are not laying out a ‘no regrets strategy’, advocating aggressive action in arenas like energy efficiency and electrification of rail where, without question, the economic benefits are seriously net positive even without any consideration of the “decarbonization” implications.   No, instead, they are leveraging their titles and the Murdoch disinformation machine to seek to delay action … delay that will be catastrophic if these 16 just happen to be wrong.


  • For one window the thinking of those signing this letter, perhaps take a few moments with just one of the signatories: “William Happer, professor of physics, Princeton”.
  • Also on this OPED,
    • Union of Concerned Scientists, Dismal Science at the Wall Street Journal.  “While it’s entirely appropriate for scientists, like all citizens, to voice their personal opinions on public policy, the op-ed repeated a number of deeply misleading claims about climate science. To take just one example, the authors claim there has been a “lack of warming” for 10 years. Here’s what we know: 2011 was the 35th year in a row in which global temperatures were above the historical average and 2010 and 2005 were the warmest years on record. Over the past decade, record high temperatures outpaced record lows by more than two to one across the continental United States, a marked increase from previous decades.”
    • Peter Gleick, Forbes: “The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board has long been understood to be not only antagonistic to the facts of climate science, but hostile. But in a remarkable example of their unabashed bias, on Friday they published an opinion piece that not only repeats many of the flawed and misleading arguments about climate science, but purports to be of special significance because it was signed by 16 “scientists.” … the most amazing and telling evidence of the bias of the Wall Street Journal in this field is the fact that 255 members of the United States National Academy of Sciences wrote a comparable (but scientifically accurate) essay on the realities of climate change and on the need for improved and serious public debate around the issue, offered it to the Wall Street Journal, and were turned down. The National Academy of Sciences is the nation’s pre-eminent independent scientific organizations. Its members are among the most respected in the world in their fields. Yet the Journal wouldn’t publish this letter, from more than 15 times as many top scientists. Instead they chose to publish an error-filled and misleading piece on climate because some so-called experts aligned with their bias signed it. This may be good politics for them, but it is bad science and it is bad for the nation. …”
    • Michael Tobis, The Wall Street Journal, Again: “As is common regarding this and other matters, the WSJ op-ed page gives space to arguments that are egregiously irresponsible. What is most striking about this piece is not its irresponsibility. We have come to expect that. The viciousness and the palpable malice are in competition with intellectual incoherence. The deniers are reduced to what amounts to essentially senile and/or paranoid blithering, and the leading paper of the financial sector gives them space to do it.”
    • Greg Laden, Two Incontrovertible things: Antropogenic Global Warming is real and the Wall Street Journal is a Rag:  “The Wall Street Journal has published one of the most offensive, untruthful, twisted reviews of what scientists think of climate change; the WSJ Lies about the facts and twists the story to accommodate the needs of head-in-the-sand industrialists and 1%ers; The most compelling part of their argument, according to them, is that the editorial has been signed by 16 scientists … The Wall Street Journal is trolling, and it is shameful. Almost everything they say in their piece is an out and out lie, easily falsified with even a cursory examination of the evidence. In fact, their piece is so bad that this is what we can say about the “16 scientists” who signed this letter: They are idiots. If any of those individuals actually read this piece as published and put their name on it, their credentials as climate scientists have just evaporated.”
    • Ed Kilgore at Political Animal: “In a world full of doubt and contention, there are a few things, other than the proverbial items of death and taxes, you can count on to be completely reliable. And one of those is the ideological mendacity of the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. “

Update:  Additional reactions and related items to The WSJ 16 …

NASA video on 130 years of temperature records

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Tags: climate delayers · climate zombies

24 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Sam // Feb 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Again, my apologies.

    I assumed I was dealing with an adult capable of discussing AGW rationally, without deleting and ignoring all points that screw up his financial or political agenda.

    Actually, what I have said — repeatedly — is that there is a limit to how much energy is possible to expend.

    You have posted copyrighted material in violation of copyright rules.

    You have made assertions (such as Media Matters … no?) that do not stand up to the simplest scrutiny.

    You have posted substantial amounts of material that has been debunked / dealt with elsewhere demanding that I spend time dealing with it.

    I have responded to substantial amounts of this while — stating having done so — deleted out large amounts of the material that simply creates a large resource burden.

    You have not dealt with my reactions in any substantive manner.

    You make personal attacks — repeatedly.

    You libel the international scientific community.

    And, you whine?

    May you have the courage to be honest in your next life, sir and/or madam.

    May you gain the ability to dealt with truth in the future rather than promote truthiness and deception.

  • 2 Sam // Feb 9, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    “NOTE: The commentator posted copyrighted material without appropriate citation or linkage.”

    Interesting that you should try, feebly, to discredit me, given that the name of the author of the piece in question, was right there in the middle of the passage I used.

    Sigh … “to discredit …” No, it was / is an effort to abide by legal guidance about copyright restrictions. Naming the author, if you have an extensive amount of quotation without any substantive commentary, does not give you a pass on the copyright issue.

    It was, in effect, its own paragraph, so to say that I didn’t have an appropriate citation is a lie.

    “A lie …” You love to accuse and throw around terms. You did not cite the publication site, even though you did have author, which is a gap without a link to that publication.

    Of course, I cannot prove it’s a lie since you, as usual, deleted the passage in question. How typical for a far-lefty: delete information, then lie about what was deleted, knowing that no one can see who lied and told the truth, since the relevant information was deleted.

    Wow, you assert that I ‘lied’ about the deletion.

    You inserted five full paragraphs without any editorial comment.

    You did not provide a link or attribution as to where it was published..

    I had to do a web search to find the material.

    This is a copyright violation (check the law … for example:

    To have left the material that you inserted would have been inappropriate.

    I deleted about half the inserted material to bring this in appropriate line with copyright restrictions while providing the link to where it came from so that anyone can see whether the quotation that I provided is out of context or misrepresenting the source.

    (You lied about it twice, the first time, and then again in your reply to me, failing to note that the author’s name was provided by me – and then deleted by you.)

    This is not the first time you have lied to me, which is only one reason why I can’t take you seriously at this point. Make a few more sarcastic remarks about “truthiness” if makes you and the few people who read your blog feel better.

    I haven’t lied to you. You have, on several occasions, lied to me, as I have just demonstrated (by referencing material that you deleted).

    “lie” … your assertions and attacks are tiresome.

    What’s your pathetic excuse for deleting parts of my email this time? It’s not material covered in your video. It is however evidence that you lied.

    You “email” was, other than “[lol]”, simply cut and paste from an article. I provided a link to that article.

    You, yet again, simply do not deal with any substance but use attack words and seek to insult.

    You should work at the Univ. of East Anglia. They excel at deleting information that proves how dishonest they are.


    Having looked at all the comments in your 15 latest posts, it seems that almost no one wants to converse with you. There aren’t even a dozen comments to be found, and most of those were posted by YOU, lol.

    Amused … you think this is the only place my work appears … how about ‘lol’?

    Apparently I’m almost the only person on earth bored enough to waste time on a scientific nobody like you.

    Not for long.

  • 3 Sam // Feb 9, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    The Alexa rankings say you’re ranked at # 4,978,161 !


    Would you like me to email your friends and family, since apparently not even they know you’re online?

    Ooh, no … you upset my feelings …

    Yet, again, you chose to engage ever so substantively and deal with how you serially misrepresent..

    And, well, Alexa has its values and powers … and not …

    The site has had, for example, roughly 500 visitors / day over the past two weeks.

    Take care…it’s been a blast.

  • 4 Thorgamma // May 3, 2012 at 9:51 am

    I came to this post by my web search with the terms, “How to respond to non factual posts.” My immediate problem is a facebook friend who posts a half dozen “moles” that are inane, factless and off-topic in response, say, to my posting a link to an interview. I wondered if I could respond generically and post something like, “Sorry, can’t respond in any length to your post here based on criterion [link to 3.c.]” Didn’t find such a set of criteria, and I may have to post such a blog myself. Climate science suffers from this kind of problem far worse than my little example illustrates, but you see the same kind of problem with anything political, economic or environmental.

    Now, this is off topic for your blog so no hard feelings if you delete it, but just to share in case you find it of value: I’ll try something like this, with inspiration from your comment resolution, “Thanks for dashing off that exhaustive set of ideas. I’m sorry I can’t respond to your post here without 1) getting way off topic, 2) spending a lot of time clarifying what you are saying, and then, 3) devoting the time required to try to find a way to kill the several zombie ideas you’re feeding. Maybe we can get together to discuss some of these ideas one at a time when you have time to bring factual and thoughtful information to the table.”