Hate Talk

By Keith Kloor | November 19, 2010 7:10 am

Jon Stewart is obviously striking a nerve. Last week, he rankled liberals. This week, the top exec at Fox News unloads on Stewart:

He hates conservative views. He hates conservative thoughts. He hates conservative verbiage. He hates conservatives…He’s crazy. If it wasn’t polarized, he couldn’t make a living. He makes a living by attacking conservatives and stirring up a liberal base against it…He loves polarization. He depends on it. If liberals and conservatives are all getting along, how good would that show be? It’d be a bomb.

And that was the tame part of the the Roger Ailes interview with Howard Kurtz.

Ailes, who is the chairman of Fox news, said this about NPR executives:

They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don’t want any other point of view.

The Anti-Defamation League has already accepted Ailes apology. As for the reaction from the talent at Fox News, you have to wonder if Beck and O’Reilly are perturbed that Ailes is stealing their material.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Journalism, politics
  • Roddy Campbell

    Keith, I watched Glenn Beck this morning for the first time ever (I live in UK).
    It opened my eyes to the extent of the madness you have over there.  My favourite sentence this morning (remember I’ve watched 15 minutes of this man ever) was ‘Obama’s father was a Communist, well, an anti-colonialist, ……..’ as if they were the same thing?  And lots of pictures of Soros, who I remember breaking the Bank of England in the early nineties with the power of his capital.
    So I now see why people might complain about the right-wing Republican fossil-fuel big oil media AGW denier conspiracy.
    I have no idea whether it exists, but I see that it is possible in a way I hadn’t before!  Apologies for my doubts.

     

  • http://www.hopkinson.net Simon Hopkinson

    Roddy, I’m quite sure that the insanity of Beck, and the rather bizarre channel Fox News – of course compounded by the partisan posturing of Mann etc – are significantly responsible for Keith’s mistaken impression that myself and many other Brits are assumed to be right-leaning simply for our climate scepticism.

    The political landscape that seems inextricable in the US has no bearing on the scientific climate debate outside of the US, as I pointed out to Keith and LCarey last night but as I also said, I completely understand why this misapprehension arises.

    But it is a misapprehension, and it’s important that those who are trying to properly grasp the meta-debate achieve escape velocity from the microcosmic US-politisphere in order to get a better, more objective view of the actual climate debate.

  • http://www.hopkinson.net Simon Hopkinson

    Oops. assumed to be. Gnrfff! :)

  • http://www.hopkinson.net Simon Hopkinson

    Oh.. argh.. strike-out “assumed to be”. That button doesn’t work, Keith ;)

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    It may show that he’s striking a nerve, but it also shows how ludicrous his “both sides are bad” frame is.

    The truth doesn’t lie equidistant between Rachel Maddow and Roger Ailes. Nor does the reality of climate change fall equidistant between Climate Depot/WUWT and RealClimate.

    Here’s to the end to fallacy of the golden mean.

     

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Simon (2):

    I’m not sure where you get that I have misapprehension. I don’t presume to know the political orientation of commenters, unless they they are specifically stated.

    But I can pretty much tell by the slant of various climate blogs what their political and/or ideological approach is.

     

  • Roddy Campbell

    Keith – does that mean we can tell what your ‘political and/or ideological approach is’?

  • http://www.stairwaypress.com Ken Coffman

    Roddy, the answer to your question is: yes.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Roddy, sure, have at it. What is my political/ideological lens through which I view climate issues?

  • Gavin

    #6 please enlighten us. Who was the last politician I voted for? What ideology do I subscribe to? Perhaps there are clues in all of my writing on climate models, radiative transfer or paleo-climate about my feelings about the role of the state, public education, free markets, gay marriage, the Washington consensus or the Chicago school of economics. Or perhaps not.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    +1 to #5.

    Roddy, as a canadian i think i can relate to your incredulity over the level of discourse among the right wing in the u.s.   truly a (depressing) sight to behold. While this sort of behaviour isn’t unique to the right wing in the u.s. (think anti-vaccine movement), it’s not by any means equally distributed (as TB points out).

    And Simon your point about separating geniune (albeit amateur) skepticism/truth seeking from politically motivated ‘skepticism’ is indeed an important one.  If I may make a suggestion to help along those lines:

    1. Avoid discussions of motives, conspiracies, conduct, etc.
    2. For a given issue, clarify points of common understanding first and then
    3. Explain where you go off the reservation :) just kidding.
    4.  Be clear when talking about policy to separate facts from value judgements.

  • Roddy Campbell

    I should have said ”does that mean we can should be able to tell what your “˜political and/or ideological approach is’?’ :)
    I would say you’re about the most difficult climate blogger to place though.  Good journalistic training and instincts?

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Gavin,

    You infer that I was talking about Real Climate. Actually, I was thinking of WUWT and Climate Progress, to name two of the most obvious.

    I wasn’t thinking of Real Climate.  I don’t see any political or ideological slant to Real Climate. If I was to make one criticism, it would be reflexive defensiveness post-”Climategate,” but as Bart might be the one to point, there are many who feel that is understandable.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    I was also thinking of some independent bloggers in the climate constellation, such as Michael Tobis and Jeff Id.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @Gavin #10
    Too easy.
    British → European → LIEbral Soshalust Commie hellbent on the subjugation of the white American capitalist
    Hence why you joined the Great Climate Conspiracy (what, people think GCC stands for “global climate change”? get real!).
    Keep the government out of NASA and NOAA! USA! USA!

    Now excuse me. I’ve got a “sustainable development” UN world domination plot to foil.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Marlowe (11),

    Good suggestions, esp #1.

  • David44

    Is or is not “climate denier” meant to be analogous to “holocaust denier”?
    If yes, is it not equally offensive?
    Who is credited with first use of the expression?
    Has the ADL made any statement about this usage?

  • TimG

    I would be curious to see the response from the anti-Beck crowd to the statement by an IPCC AR5 WG3 author:

    First of all, developed countries have basically expropriated the atmosphere of the world community. But one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy.

    http://thegwpf.org/ipcc-news/1877-ipcc-official-climate-policy-is-redistributing-the-worlds-wealth.html

    This statement confirms what right wing critics have been saying about the UN climate treaty process. i.e. it is not about climate. it is about finding excuses to take wealth away from people who have it and give it to those that don’t.

    Now I realize that many posters here cannot understand why some people feel that “redistributing wealth via climate policy” is a bad thing. In fact, I bet many think it is impossible to have a “climate policy” without “redistributing wealth”.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @David44 #17

    I can’t speak for everyone, but denialism is a not a priori meant to invoke Holocaust denial, but rather describes an attitude and set of behaviors that are common among many groups that reject mainstream scientific and/or historical concepts. Few if any denialists actually believe themselves to be such. Talk to an anti-vaxxer and they’ll tell you that they aren’t anti-vaccine, but just want to make them safer. Talk to intelligent design believers and they will profess to accepting biology but only rejecting parts of evolution. And so on.

    Denialism is really defined by the way in which people engage in misrepresentation and selective reading of facts to justify a position than it is what they themselves profess to believe. As I’ve mentioned several times, Bjorn Lomborg can claim all he wants to not be a climate denialist, but he behaves exactly like one in terms of deliberately misrepresenting evidence in order to downplay the problem.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @TimG

    The point that he’s making isn’t the point it sounds like you think he’s making. The costs of fossil fuel use and deforestation have essentially been “socialized” over the last 200 years- that is the price is being born at the expense of all. Meanwhile the profits that came with distributing the hard were not themselves distributed equally. Solving the climate problem is going to involve rectifying this, just as solving any environmental problem where profit is made while pollution is foisted onto the commons would.

    Making polluters take pay for their pollution is a kind of redistribution of wealth. Most people would probably agree that it’s redistributing wealth back towards a more just state from an unjust state, although I realize that there are free market ideologues who believe any attempt to “hinder” enterprise through environmental concerns is akin to communism.

  • Keith Kloor

    TB (19),

    You’re good with this and then go off the rails by labeling Lomberg, as in: “he behaves exactly like one…”

    Firstly, Lomborg doesn’t deny the existence of global warming. He may not agree with your read of how severe it is, but that is far from being a so-called “denier.”

    Secondly, see Marlowe’s (11) list:

    1. Avoid discussions of motives, conspiracies, conduct, etc.

  • TimG

    #19 thingsbreak,

    You have a nasty habit of calling people dishonest if they disagree with your *opinion* on what the science says. You really have to get over yourself. Do you honestly believe that your claims on your blog are anything more than exercise in “cherry picking” quotes that support your pre-determined conclusions? If so how can you demonstrate that you did not ignore data and/or studies that undermined your POV?

    If you reflect a bit you will realize that a lot of the so called evidence is ambiguous and subject to interpretation. Calling people dishonest for interpreting the same evidence in a different way makes you no different from folks like Beck. If you want to have a civilized convesation on climate you need to respect the fact that different people can look at the same evidence and come to different conclusions.

  • http://organizingentropy.typepad.com/blog/ Andy

    TB (#5):
    The truth doesn’t lie equidistant between Rachel Maddow and Roger Ailes. Nor does the reality of climate change fall equidistant between Climate Depot/WUWT and RealClimate.
    Who is saying the truth is equidistant?  Certainly Stewart didn’t, nor is it much in doubt that Stewart’s politics are to the left of center.   This “false equivalence” charge is a strawman.

    Stewart should be commended, not condemned, for criticizing the excesses of left even if he agrees with them most of the time.  That demonstrates he’s an independent thinker who isn’t beholden to a tribal ideology.  Frankly, we need a lot more of that, not less.

  • Dean

    Regarding Ailes, he basically proved Stewart’s point.

    Regarding Beck, folks like him always have lucrative opportunities when times are tough. In the US we have a decades-long trend of undermining middle class working opportunities. Tens of millions of people are not going to achieve what we call the American Dream, people who assumed they would at one point. It’s called a social contract, and while nobody wrote it out and signed it, the collapse of it almost always undermines civility in a society.

    That breeds pessimism and creates a ripe environment for demagogues like Glenn Beck. If you look at his personal history, you will see that he has been training for this role for his whole life.

    Democrats and Republicans may be worlds apart on how they respond to climate science, but both have in their own way contributed to economic decline in the US that breads the current political atmosphere.

  • TimG

    #20 thingsbreak

    That is not what said. He said that the “developed world”  expropriated the atmosphere. He did not say “fossil fuel companies”.  When he talks about redistributing income he is clearly talking about taking wealth away from developed countries and giving it to developing countries.

    You can clearly see the “socialist/hate the rich” line of thinking when he talks about distributing emission allowances on a per capita basis two paragraphs eariler (per capita allocation of emissions is a concept that comes straight from Marx – i.e. all people are entitled to an equal share of society’s wealth).

    Again, I am not asking you to agree with that interpretation. I am trying to make it clear that there are rational interpretations of  his words that support the right wing argument that climate policy is nothing but a front for a socialist politiical agenda.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @Keith
    Firstly, Lomborg doesn’t deny the existence of global warming.

    I didn’t claim he did:
    Denialism is really defined by the way in which people engage in misrepresentation and selective reading of facts to justify a position than it is what they themselves profess to believe. As I’ve mentioned several times, Bjorn Lomborg can claim all he wants to not be a climate denialist, but he behaves exactly like one in terms of deliberately misrepresenting evidence in order to downplay the problem.

    Perhaps you’d like to enlighten me where exactly I “went off the rails” in pointing out that Lomborg- as a professor of statistics who engages in blatant, absurd, and self-contradictory cherry-picking in order to consistently try to play down the seriousness of something like sea level rise- is acting any different than the typical commentor at WUWT.

    You say that you’ve covered the anti-vax story. Surely you’re away of the vast swaths of anti-vaxxers who claim not be anti-vaccine.

    Regardless of what Lomborg claims to believe, he engages in precisely the same behaviors as other garden variety climate denialists and which define denialism more generally. People who imagine themselves to be reasonable like Lomborg because he gives a reasonable face to opposition of emissions reductions. They very much hate to have it pointed out that Lomborg engages in the very tactics that they disdain from the more common denialists.  Lomborg’s misrepresentation of things like SLR, or temp trends is no different than Monckton’s.

    He may not agree with your read of how severe it is

    Keith, respectfully- either you can acknowledge that he engages in blatant misrepresentation of key indicators of climate change like SLR and temp trends, or you cannot.

    If you can’t, I’m not particularly interested in whether it’s a refusal to do so due to adherence to some imagined journalistic allegiance to neutrality or out of a lack of ability to understand that he’s doing it.

    If climate journalists either can’t see what he’s doing or refuse to acknowledge it, then we’re in far worse trouble than I ever imagined.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @TimG #22:
    You have a nasty habit of calling people dishonest if they disagree with your *opinion* on what the science says. You really have to get over yourself. Do you honestly believe that your claims on your blog are anything more than exercise in “cherry picking” quotes that support your pre-determined conclusions?

    It isn’t my opinion or my interpretation. Lomborg consistently tries to play down the seriousness of climate change. To do so he takes a metric like temperature or sea level rise and then cherry picks an interval to get the lowest possible trend out of it. If it’s an interval of four years at the time of press, so be it. If he needs to write another article and using the same interval no longer gives the lowest possible trend, he’ll use two.

    Either people can call a spade a spade or they can’t. I have no idea what Lomborg’s “motivation” for doing what he’s doing is. I do know that there’s no way to do what he’s doing in good faith with even a minor background in statistics, let alone as a professor of it.
     

  • http://www.hopkinson.net Simon Hopkinson

    Marlowe, #11: I agree wholeheartedly. The assignation of motive is a dominant feature of the extreme narratives of both sides of the debate, all too often side-tracking much of the discussion and introducing irrelevances that only serve to prevent any progress at all.

  • TimG

    #27 thingsbreak,

    And Lomborg explains in the links your provided why Rahmstorf and others are cherry picking. It a festival of fruit that re-enforces my point: the data is ambiguous. There are different ways to interpret the same data and differences of opinion come down to question of which subset of the data is ignored.

  • David44

    @#19 TB
    The problem with painting your intellectual adversaries as “denalist” is that it is another form of denial.  It denies that, as TimG says above “different people can look at the same evidence and come to different conclusions” and paints all of those different people with the same broad tar brush.

    If I am a scientist who denies that vaccines cause autism, who is not only a fervent Darwinist but also an atheist, but who is skeptical of some of the gloom and doom claims of climate scientists and climate propagandists (unfortunately for science, often the same people), who believes that nuclear power is much more likely a solution to our CO2 problem than windmills and solar panels, does that make me a “denalist”?

    Can climate catastrophists be “denialists” if they deny that human societies are capable of adapting to climate change? if they deny that continued use of fossil fuels has tremendous benefits to the socioeconomic aspirations of the poor around the world? if they deny that increasing CO2 benefits crop production and forest growth? if they deny that the earth is literally greener now than it was in 1970? if they deny that a warmer climate may actually have an upside as well as a down side? etc., etc.

  • Pascvaks

    Isn’t human psychology just the bestest damned science ya’ ever did see?  Shaazamm, Sha Zam,  Sha Zam.

    “Science” can answer many questions and raise many more.  But do remember the Operator of this little field of human activity is a person.  A human being.  S/he knows no bounds.  Their imagination can take them to any when, any where, any what, any way, make them any who,  let them do it any how they want.

    Jon Stewart is obviously striking a nerve?  Oh yes!  And, really, don’t we all?  Don’t we all do the same thing a thousand times a day?  Every day of our little, short, insignificant lives?  Hay!  Life’s a beach! 

    Surf’s Up!

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @TimG
    And Lomborg explains in the links your provided why Rahmstorf and others are cherry picking.

    He’s actually complaining that Rahmstorf’s analysis contained the year 1998 which is hardly Rahmstorf’s fault given the constraints of the analysis (due to the timing of the IPCC reports) let alone “cherry-picking”.  Rahmstorf *himself* points out that you can arrive at wildly different values of SLR depending on how you choose the start and end points. Lomborg chooses them arbitrarily to give the lowest values.

    The data aren’t ambiguous in this- SLR is occurring, and has been at ~3mm/year for quite some time. Lomborg chooses two years, four years, whatever necessary to get the lowest trend at the time of writing. When you apply the choices he made previously to claims made at other times, the “trend” jumps from low or negative to more positive than what it is overall. There is zero physical justification for doing so.

    This is the definition of cherry-picking.

    What Lomborg claims about Rahmstorf does not change that, even if it were valid (which it isn’t).

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @David44
    does that make me a “denalist”?

    As I said upthread, “denialism is really defined by the way in which people engage in misrepresentation and selective reading of facts to justify a position than it is what they themselves profess to believe.”

    Can climate catastrophists be “denialists” if they deny that human societies are capable of adapting to climate change?


    That’s again sort of missing the point of what constitutes denialism. If they misrepresent evidence and ignore or downplay inconvenient evidence of such, then yes.

    If I were to use an arbitrary slice of SLR to give the highest trend and constantly shifted the window to do so, then I would be exhibiting denialism. If I were to ignore evidence that shows that although multimeter SLR in a century is possible it’s not necessary likely and only claimed that the paleo data supported my contention, likewise.

    gloom and doom claims of climate scientists and climate propagandists (unfortunately for science, often the same people)

    Oh, I see. Good to know.

  • TimG

    #32 thingsbreak

    There is no ‘correct’ way to choose a starting point for a trend. The only effect that the starting point has is on the error bars (i.e. short trends often lack statistical significance).

    In Rahmstorf’s case, he tried to cherry pick the 1993-2003 decade and then claim it does not make a diference if he did not cherry pick the decade. This makes no sense. If it is was true why didn’t he use the 49 year trend to start with. More importantly, if the 49 year trend is, in fact, the same then it would have been the same when the IPCC models were created (cause 49 year trends don’t change that fast). This, in turn, implies that the IPCC models were always wrong and it is “dishonest” to claim that “it is worse than we thought”.

    Anyways. These arguments are endless and don’t change my point: you convince no one by insisting that your opinions are “facts” and that people with different opinions are “dishonest”.

  • Dan Wallace

    Keith
    Maybe you could give Gavin a little reach around as you genuflect and kiss his behind

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @TimG
    There is no “˜correct’ way to choose a starting point for a trend

    The correct way to choose start and end points of evaluating trends is to try to minimize the effect those choice make on the outcome and ensure that the choices one must inevitably make have a logical and/or physical justificaiton.

    Lomborg simply picks whichever interval gets him the smallest trend and does so by changing the interval. There is no logical, statistical, or physical justification for using four years in one instance and two in the next, and if doing so not only significantly changes the size but the sign of the trend, you know without question that the “results” are the result of the choices you’ve made and are of little value.

    Lomborg is a statistics professor. He knows this.

    If it is was true why didn’t he use the 49 year trend to start with.

    Rahmstorf was comparing the model projections to the obs. The projections started in 1990. The sat obs in 1993. Neither of those two dates are Rahmstorf’s choosing. Lomborg’s complaint is with reality, not Rahmstof.

    But you’re missing the point entirely. Even if in some alternate universe Rahmstorf was guilty of unequivocal out and scientific fraud- just making numbers up wholesale and passing them off as actual data- that doesn’t excuse Lomborg’s deliberate cherry-picking to get the lowest possible trend.

    Anyways. These arguments are endless and don’t change my point: you convince no one by insisting that your opinions are “facts” and that people with different opinions are “dishonest”.

    It is not my opinion that Lomborg changes the intervals to get the lowest possible trends, and that when using his own intervals from previous claims they completely contradict his current ones, and that there is no physical, statistical, or logical justification for doing so. He is cherry picking. Full stop.

    You can try to excuse it away as much as you like- I couldn’t care less. I do care whether or not someone like Keith, who is trusted to report on climate issues at a fairly high level, will do so.

  • Keith Kloor

    Dan,

    Cute. But how do you interpret it as such? Should I breathe fire back in my response (How dare thee jump to such conclusions!). In case you didn’t catch what I actually said, Gavin’s comment here kinda reinforced it.

    But you know what: I appreciate that he and Jonathan Gilligan and Judith Curry, among other scholars and scientists take the time to comment at my modest site. The least I could do is treat them respectfully.

  • harrywr2

    TimG Says:
    November 19th, 2010 at 11:32 am
    “That is not what said. He said that the “developed world”  expropriated the atmosphere. He did not say “fossil fuel companies”.”
    Sorry, in my book just another guilt peddler.
    The 3rd great immigration to the US was the Europeans. We brought illness and destroyed their idyllic lifestyle and must be made to pay.

    The fundamental problem with conflicts based on historical guilt is that there is no way to end them.
    I.E. If my father killed your father then I must kill you, which means your son has to kill my son. The conflict can never end.
    I wish anyone who believes the world can be made a better place using the logic of the ‘sins of the father must be paid by the son’ the best of luck. From my observation it leads to an endless cycle of death and destruction.


     

  • http://organizingentropy.typepad.com/blog/ Andy

    Thingsbreak,

    “denialism is really defined by the way in which people engage in misrepresentation and selective reading of facts to justify a position than it is what they themselves profess to believe.”

    I think you may be confusing “facts” with the “meaning of facts” and/or “judgments based on facts.”  They are not the same thing.  Furthermore, when discussing the future, estimates of what will happen cannot, by definition, be “facts.”  Additionally, due to the ambiguous nature of most evidence, a “selective” reading of that evidence is inevitable.
    Just saying.

  • Brendan H

    TimG: “This statement confirms what right wing critics have been saying about the UN climate treaty process. i.e. it is not about climate. it is about finding excuses to take wealth away from people who have it and give it to those that don’t.”

    Some critics believe that UN climate policy is about the third world shafting the first world. Others believe that it’s about the first world shafting the third world.

    “They will once again pretend that inflicting severe austerity on the third world in the name of greening the earth is anything other than eugenics by another name.”

    http://climategate.tv/2010/11/19/climategate-is-still-the-issue/

    This contradiction clearly points to some confusion in sceptic thinking on the subject.

    As for the IPCC official’s omments, any emissions charges levied on a global basis will by their nature favour the lower emitters, which also tend to be the poorer countries. Hence Edenhoffer’s comment about a “de facto” distribution of wealth, ie an effect of action, not a cause.

    This misreading of cause and affect is of a piece with the contradiction over the direction of wealth redistribution, ie both are arguments that suit the purposes of the moment.

  • Steven Sullivan

    KK, what is this ” reflexive defensiveness post-”Climategate,”  you’ve repeatedly alluded to re: RealClimate?  I’ve been reading RC before and after ‘Climategate’ and if anything I recall it as a voice of sanity and valuable contextual information (e.g., explaining what ‘HARRY_README’ really was, versus the wild ‘conclusions’ trumpeted on the  sorts of blogs Ailes approves of.)
     

  • Dan Wallace

    Keith
    I can pretty much tell by the slant of various climate blogs what their political or ideological approach is, and Gavin’s Blog is exempt. On the other hand, Mr. Watts must be a conservative nut job because he doesn’t always agree with what is on the exempt Blogs.  Why in your opinion is a scientist blogger owed any more respect than any other blogger. Isn’t respect earned any more. It is just owed now.  Most of your commenters are college grads and and probably a few with more degrees than Gavin.  I really don’t believe that you can pigeon hole  someone because they disagree with the exempt blogs.
     

  • http://www.hopkinson.net Simon Hopkinson

    Aside, I’m wondering if Gavin (#10) was setting a trap for Keith, with “please enlighten us. Who was the last politician I voted for?” Is Gavin naturalised, or a permanent resident? ;)

  • Steven Sullivan

    And btw, that Ailes would call Stewart ‘crazy’, is bizarre enough to suggest he’s no longer just a loathsome toady of powerful right-wing interests, but possibly going a bit senile.

    Not that Fox news fans would notice.  If anything it’ll probably make him more effective in his job.



     

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Steven (41):

    I’ve often said on this blog that I highly value Real Climate as a  source of scientific information.

    But from time to time I’ve also been moderately critical of what I have perceived to be a defensiveness on their part. See this previous post of mine, for one example.

    Dan (42):

    You’re putting words in my mouth. I never said Watts is a conservative nut job. But it’s pretty obvious that his blog has a slant. Just as its pretty obvious that Romm’s blog has a slant.

    As for the rest of my commenters that wouldn’t find themselves categorized as scholars and scientists, I would hope they know that I respect them just as much as anyone. I try to be polite and respectful with everyone, though I have been known to lose my patience on occasion.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @Andy #39:
    I think you may be confusing “facts” with the “meaning of facts” and/or “judgments based on facts.”  They are not the same thing.  Furthermore, when discussing the future, estimates of what will happen cannot, by definition, be “facts.”  Additionally, due to the ambiguous nature of most evidence, a “selective” reading of that evidence is inevitable.
    Just saying.


    I’m not sure where this confusion is stemming from. It’s not climate denialism to say, “I don’t think the effects of unchecked emissions growth will be large” or even, “I don’t believe that sea levels are rising.”

    It becomes denialism when claims that have been made are refuted by evidence, which is either ignored, selectively interpreted, attacked, etc. in order to maintain the original position. As an example, someone might claim “sea level rise is on the low end of IPCC projections”. You can demonstrate that either by tidal gauges or satellites that this is simply not true. That person might then say, “Well, if you look at just the last two years, the trend is negative.” You can point out that two years is a ridiculously insufficient period from which to draw such conclusions based on statistics and the physical behavior of the oceans. That person might later say, “Well, if you look at the last four years the trend is half of what it once was.” You can point out that by their previous metric- two years- the rate is actually higher than the long term average, and that in any case, it’s again an insufficient interval over which to make such claims. This is an example of cherry picking and “impossible expectations”. Obviously, the person you’re speaking with has an interest not in what is actually occurring in terms of sea level rise, but in making it seem that it’s an overstated concern. There is no amount of evidence you can present to convince someone that their claims are not justifiable or that sea level rise is occurring at the high end of IPCC projections. They simply change their criteria to suit their claim.

    Is that more clear?

  • Steven Sullivan

    Keith,  ‘reflexive defensivness’  on RC’s part can hardly  be demonstrated by your April 2010 post, since you admit there that RC’s (rather polite, as you note) foray into journalism critique was a new development.  April 2010 was ~5 months after Climategate broke, which makes it a rather slow reflex, not to mention that a torrent of sloppy science journalism had come down the pipe in the interim.    RC should have just stayed mum?

    I submit that RC was more notable for injecting sanity  and fact into the ‘Climategate’ mix early on, and since, than for any ‘reflexive defensiveness’.

     

  • TimG

    #40 – Brendan H

    There are many different sceptical opinions and it is rather absurd to suggest there is something wrong if they don’t all agree.  We are, after all, talking about opinions. The same differences exist among climate activists.

    What matters is there are a significant number of people who do believe climate policy is nothing but a vehicle to advance a left wing political agenda and that opinion is supported by statements like the one I quoted. 

  • Dan Wallace

    Keith
    My apologies, I shouldn’t have mentioned Mr. Watts by name. And yes, it has a slant. But the statement that you made is that you could tell the political/ideological bent by what that slant was/is.  Every climate blog has a slant. RC, WUWT, Romm, they all do. Everybody, you included, wants this to be a Rep/Dem or capitalist/socialist or Big oil/Enviro thing. All of the above.  People on both sides disagree and agree.  That is the thing that everybody has to get past.  Until the rancor stops, nothing will or can be done.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Dan (49), you write: “Everybody, you included, wants this to be a Rep/Dem or capitalist/socialist or Big oil/Enviro thing.”

    I won’t speak for any other blogger, but this is absolutely not the case with me. If you’ve been reading my blog for more than a  week, you’d know this.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @TimG
    What matters is there are a significant number of people who do believe climate policy is nothing but a vehicle to advance a left wing political agenda

    The climate system doesn’t respond to the opinions of conspiracy theorists, no matter how small or great their numbers. What matters- what really, really, matters- are the boundary values of the system and how we’re slamming them in a geologically-unprecedented-for-millions-of-years manner towards a new equilibrium.

    Pricing the full cost of greenhouse emissions into fossil fuels and deforestation in order to engage market forces to spur to a clean energy economy is a decidedly capitalistic and economically-speaking conservative position. People on the “right” who subscribe to the delusions you mention are so far off the political map that they’re decrying Nixon, Reagan, HW Bush, spectrum policies as commie plots.

  • Dan Wallace

    Keith
    “But I can pretty much tell by the slant of various climate blogs what their political and/or ideological approach is.”
    I have been reading you for more than a week.  As the quote above makes perfectly clear, I can read.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @Dan Wallace #49
    Everybody, you included, wants this to be a Rep/Dem or capitalist/socialist or Big oil/Enviro thing. All of the above.  People on both sides disagree and agree.

    I’m afraid this simply isn’t borne out by the relevant polling data. When you dig into the cross tabs, climate denialism/”skepticism” in the US is highly skewed towards Republicans/conservatives (incl. right-leaning self-identified independents), older people, and certain religious groups. The views of those under 30 and Democrats/liberals (incl. leaning independents), and the non-religious are significantly more in line with the views reflected in polling of the scientific community.

    I certainly don’t wish that to be the case. As satisfying as it might be for an extreme political partisan on the left to be smugly righteous about the issue when attacking his perceived enemies on the political right, this polarization is incredibly scary from a perspective of actually solving the problem. Because that means it’s decidedly not about the facts at all but has become about identity politics.

    And I also doubt that journalists wish this was the case, as they have to tip-toe around a lot of gob-smacking nonsense in the name of objectivity, lest they get slammed for that pesky liberal bias we’ve been told about for decades.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Dan (52), it’s one thing to say I have a slant; it’s another to say that this is the slant:

    “Everybody, you included, wants this to be a Rep/Dem or capitalist/socialist or Big oil/Enviro thing.”

    I challenge you to find any of those  simplistic/ridiculous storylines being advanced in any of my posts.

  • Brendan H

    TinG: “There are many different sceptical opinions and it is rather absurd to suggest there is something wrong if they don’t all agree. We are, after all, talking about opinions.”

    Your claim was: “This statement confirms what right wing critics have been saying…”

    One “confirms” facts. As you say, opinions are supported. To confirn an opinion is merely to agree that an opinion has been expressed, or that one agrees with the opinion.

    However, I accept that you have downgraded your claim to an opnion, one that is, as we have seen, in conflict with the opinion of another sceptic.

    “What matters is there are a significant number of people who do believe climate policy is nothing but a vehicle to advance a left wing political agenda.and that opinion is supported by statements like the one I quoted.”

    A significant number of believe that 9/11 was an inside job. And presumably, your additional claim that your opinion is supported by the quote is itself an opinion.

    In that case, it’s not clear that either of these claims matters all that much.

  • TimG

    #51 thingsbreak

    You are right: the climate does not care if a CO2 molecule was emitted by a SUV driving american or a subsistance farmer in Africa. CO2 is CO2. The trouble is any rational policy to limit CO2 *requires* that the poor be made to suffer and that economic development be halted. 

    Unfortunately, such consequences make climate policies a political non-starter in most of the world so climate activists quickly abandon the science they claim to care so dearly about.  Instead they promote policies which grant exemptions to any group they deeem to be be sympathetic and seek punantive measures againsts groups that they see as oppressors. The fact that these exemptions undermine the climate goals that they claim to care about is irrelevant.

    The net result is you have the class war rhetoric of communism/socialism rebranded as a “climate policy”. The only thing different about the IPCC guy I quoted is he does not pretend to claim it is about the environment anymore. He admits it is about “wealth redistribution”.

  • TimG

    #55 Brendan H

    This thread started with a complaint about Beck’s conspirasy theories. The implication being that Beck’s claims have no basis in reality. The quote shows that this is not true and that people in the IPCC do believe that climate policy is a tool to impose a social agenda on the US which Beck happens to oppose. 

  • TimG

    #51 thingsbreak

    You are right: the climate does not care if a CO2 molecule was emitted by a SUV driving american or a subsistance farmer in Africa. CO2 is CO2. The trouble is any rational policy to limit CO2 *requires* that the poor be made to suffer and that economic development be halted.
    Unfortunately, such consequences make climate policies a political non-starter in most of the world so climate activists quickly abandon the science they claim to care so dearly about.  Instead they promote policies which grant exemptions to any group they deeem to be be sympathetic and seek punantive measures againsts groups that they see as oppressors. The fact that these exemptions undermine the climate goals that they claim to care about is irrelevant.
    The net result is you have the class war rhetoric of communism/socialism rebranded as a “climate policy”. The only thing different about the IPCC guy I quoted is he does not pretend to claim it is about the environment anymore. He admits it is about “wealth redistribution”.

  • Dean

    There are many different sceptical opinions and it is rather absurd to suggest there is something wrong if they don’t all agree. ”

    Skepticism in the scientific sense is not just disagreement. You need to have a scientifically plausible explanation for why you disagree. Of course there are many such skeptics who, for example, disagree with some specific aspect of the IPCC AR4. And they can clearly identify what it is and why.

    But saying that the AGW is wrong because they “all said we were going into an Ice Age in the 70′s” or that it violates the second law of thermodynamics is not a scientifically-plausible reason to disagree. That’s one way I separate skepticism from denialism. Another is to say something like “climate is too complex, we just don’t know enough” is a more literal form of denialism because it denies what we actually do know. We don’t know everything, but in nearly 200 years, we’ve learned a lot.

  • TimG

    #59 Dean

    The real debates in climate are the debates about *policy* not the science. Unfortunately, way too many people think they can suppress dissenting opinions on policy by claiming that the science dicates that their pet policies be implemented. Such a position is nonsense because policies are determined by economics, technologies and values. Science has little to contribute other than identifying points for discussion.

    IOW, sceptics are people who disagree about climate policy and often have different reasons for opposing different policies. It is unreasonable to expect any sort of an agreement when an entire debate is basically a question of opinion.
      

  • Dean

    Tim – Why is debate about policy the “real” debate? Do you then think that there is nothing real to debate about the science?

    While I agree that the results of the science don’t determine policy, I think that saying it only identifies points of discussion underestimates the impact. Science sets the baseline for policy discussions. But I wouldn’t call somebody a denier just because they are against cap and trade or carbon taxes. I might use other strong works, but not that one.

  • Dean

    I meant “strong words”, not “strong works”

  • TimG

    #61 Dean,

    I am not sure of the distinction you make. The science tells us that human emissions of CO2 are something that is worth talking about reducing. It can’t really tell us more because there are too many unknowns.

    The question immediately becomes: what can we do about CO2 emissions which is a policy discussion. As soon as you start talking about policy you now have to deal with all kinds of intangibles that have nothing to do with science (such as how much value do we place on hypothetical harms in the future vs. real harms today).

    When it comes to the policy discusion there are no “deniers” because we are talking about opinions – not facts.   

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com Steven Sullivan

    A knee jerk response to the phrase ‘redistri bution of wealth’ as used by the German economist in that interview on climate policy, indicates that some aren’t really interested in reading things in context.   The interviewee quite properly discusses POVs and interests of developing and developed countries; both are having their ‘wealth’ ‘redistributed’.  You’d never get that context from the hysterical rhetoric of Glen Beck, where it’s basically all about how the rest of the world (fronted by the IPCC) is out to screw the righteous and god-loved U S of A.


     

  • Brendan H

    JimG: “This thread started with a complaint about Beck’s conspirasy theories. The implication being that Beck’s claims have no basis in reality.”

    The Beck references in the item that heads this thread show Beck and the chairman of Fox likening global warming supporters to Nazis. Granted, the IPCC official in the interview you link to has a German-sounding name, and is, I assume, German, but not all Germans are Nazis.

    What is interesting and, I think, revealing about this claim is the way climate sceptics get their panties in a bunch over the term “denier”, because of its supposed association with Holocaust deniers, but are happy to smear their opponents as Nazis, the people who actually perpetrated the Holocaust.

    The double standard is glaring, although I’m not sure that climate sceptics see it, which is itself revealing.

  • http://rankexploits.com/musings lucia

    Gavin–
    6 please enlighten us. Who was the last politician I voted for? What ideology do I subscribe to?
    I don’t know about Keith but I can’t tell your political leanings. I bet Keith can tell mine and those of many bloggers.  Certainly, anyone can determine Jeff Ids.
    You are an exception.

  • laursaurus

    Brendan #65 “What is interesting and, I think, revealing about this claim is the way climate sceptics get their panties in a bunch over the term “denier”, because of its supposed association with Holocaust deniers, but are happy to smear their opponents as Nazis, the people who actually perpetrated the Holocaust.”
    It is important to actually read the article before you offer your “brilliant” insight.
    From the O.P. Ailes, who is the chairman of Fox news, said this about NPR executives:

    They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don’t want any other point of view.

    The Anti-Defamation League has already accepted Ailes apology.
    Ailes was specifically describing the attitude and actions of NPR’s executives as “the left-wing of Nazism.” What does this have to do with climate change activists? And to top it off, he regrets using the offensive terms, and issued a formal apology.
    OTOH, climate change zealots embrace the use of Holocaust references. Rather than apologize or even acknowledge how deeply offensive this cavalier analogy obviously is, they rigorously defend this obnoxious behavior. See #16 and #19. Thingsbreak is very typical. Notice how he uses it to discredit Lomborg, who is completely convinced by the scientific evidence of global warming. Cool It explores various courses of action to effectively address the risks we are facing. But TB read on some other blog that Lomborg is a denier. It’s too much intellectual effort to clarify his actual positions, much less the nuances. But TB generates paragraphs justifying his ridiculously inaccurate claim.
    Several comments in this thread are also examples that pertain to the title.

  • Brendan H

    laursaurus: “Ailes was specifically describing the attitude and actions of NPR’s executives as “the left-wing of Nazism.” What does this have to do with climate change activists?”

    Fair comment. Ailes did not specifically liken global warming supporters to Nazis, although Beck did.

    The wider issue in relation to climate is the double standard of equating warmers with Nazis, and use of epithets such as “ecofascist” and “greenshirt”.

    For example:

    “Green fascism came from Nazism. Throw in a sprinkling of Marx and Engels, and add nationalism and romanticism, and you have a potent brew of ecofascism.”

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/11/11/germany-gets-ugly-with-skeptics/#comment-527745

    “The greens are the new Nazis.”

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/11/11/germany-gets-ugly-with-skeptics/#comment-527986

    Why are these comments relevant? Climate sceptics often praise themselves for their “civility” and “balance”, on the assumption, I guess, that civility implies a greater adherence to the truth.

    But in my experience, climate sceptics perform about average in the civility stakes. And some get really low-down and personal:

    “But deep down he is still the “Judas goat” who herded his fellow jews into railroad cars for the Nazis…”

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/11/19/lord-stern-deny-the-whole-usa-trade-if-you-dont-play-the-agw-game/#comment-533220

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    TimG, as you may or may not have noticed, there are lots of deniers out there claiming that emitting unlimited amounts of CO2 is no problem, because then you don’t need to have that policy debate.  What’s up with that you ask?

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    A classic deconstruction of Beck with the Nazi business thrown in for free
    http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2010/11/one-day-i-hope-to-stop-being-surprised

  • Roddy Campbell

    TimG # 63:

    ‘The question immediately becomes: what can we do about CO2 emissions which is a policy discussion. As soon as you start talking about policy you now have to deal with all kinds of intangibles that have nothing to do with science (such as how much value do we place on hypothetical harms in the future vs. real harms today).’

    I’m working on something at the moment exploring a form of denial I find everywhere, which Tim’s para links to.  When you start looking at policy you might find, depending on your value sets etc as well as your views on uncertainties of impacts (timing and quantum) and uncertainty re adaptation, that the ‘best’, or at least a ‘plausible’ policy is to do almost nothing about mitigation.  This can also recognise realpolitik (Indians want electricity and water) and humanitarianism (Indians want electricity and water).

    But that is absolutely not acceptable, it is denied that this policy could possibly be plausible.  It cannot be.  And I wonder why?  Is it that we have been told now for at least a couple of decades ‘we can do something about it that will work’ so often and so hard that we (most of us) cannot accept that it might not be true?

    We are told ‘if we all do a little’ ‘if we inflated our tires correctly’ ‘we have the technology in wind and solar and nuclear’, and when we go through David MacKay – style energy emissions math with the  Chinese and Indians thrown in we are shouted at and told we are middle-aged middle-class white men trying to protect our standard of living (having just been told that we can mitigate without any loss of GDP, indeed with gains from new green industries).

    The Lomborg assaults show this – Lomborg is probably the highest-profile credible person who has argued that the Kyoto/Copenhagen route is, to put it bluntly, expensive and pointless (in shorthand), and there are better things we could be doing for humanity.  So he is assailed, in an attempt to destroy his credibility, we see it in the comments here.  And we see it with Pielke Jr.  Neither are deniers of WG1, and arguing, rightly or wrongly, that sea levels or hurricanes, are or aren’t, rising or occurring, faster or more frequently than someone else has projected is pretty irrelevant to the thrust of their arguments and reasoning on energy.

    What are the roots of the very strong denial that doing almost nothing re mitigation might be a plausible or necessary policy response?

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Collide-a-Scape

Collide-a-Scape is a wide-ranging blog forum that explores issues at the nexus of science, culture and society.

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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