Here’s the publisher promo for James Lawrence Powell’s new book, The Inquisition of Climate Science:
Modern science is under the greatest and most successful attack in recent history. An industry of denial, abetted by news media and “info-tainment” broadcasters more interested in selling controversy than presenting facts, has duped half the American public into rejecting the facts of climate science””an overwhelming body of rigorously vetted scientific evidence showing that human-caused, carbon-based emissions are linked to warming the Earth. The industry of climate science denial is succeeding: public acceptance has declined even as the scientific evidence for global warming has increased. It is vital that the public understand how anti-science ideologues, pseudo-scientists, and non-scientists have bamboozled them. We cannot afford to get global warming wrong””yet we are, thanks to deniers and their method.
Powell’s rhetoric, like that of many other scientists pushing the deficit model, preaches to the choir of believers. It has little to offer in terms of the real task, engaging in active dialogue with the deniers.
That’s obviously true. But was that ever an objective? Powell’s book and, to cite another well known example, Joe Romm’s blog, have no interest in engaging with “the deniers.” Their efforts are part of a ground war. Their battle strategy is simple: crush the enemy.
Others, who share the same larger goals of AGW proponents (taking action on global warming), see this tactic as self-defeating and suggest that neutralizing climate skeptics via other means would provide better results.
Alas, as Gary notes in his post, a typical feature of the “anti-denier crusade” is
a general lack of self-reflection, particularly as it relates to the use of rhetoric.
Serious, science-based climate skeptics have a chance to separate themselves from the foaming-at-the-mouth lunacy that defines their public image. I mention this because I know that some of you skeptics chafe at the buffoonish antics of Christopher Monckton and the sweeping declarations of Republican Senator James Inhofe.
As science writer David Brin has written (which I agree with),
Not every person who expresses doubt or criticism toward some part of this complex issue [climate change] is openly wedded to the shrill anti-intellectualism of Fox News “” nor do all of them nod in agreement with absurd exaggerations, e.g., that a winter snowstorm refutes any gradual warming of Earth’s atmosphere. Indeed, you are likely to know some individuals who claim not to be “global warming deniers” but rational, open-minded “AGW-skeptics.”
My blog, with its weirdly diverse audience, attracts some readers who would classify themselves in the latter category. This post is addressed to you.
I know you roll your eyes at Monckton and Morano, and that you wish Anthony Watts could restrain his partisanship. You don’t like all the “baggage” that comes with the climate skeptic label. You try to ignore it.
Guess what? Texas Governor Rick Perry has now made that impossible. For the next 15 months, he will represent the Republican position on climate change. He will be the public face of climate skeptics.
Unfortunately for you, his position on climate science (it’s all a big hoax) will be associated with all his other positions on science.
A single tweet by Jon Huntsman, another Republican Presidential candidate, has articulated the sum meaning of this:
To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.
This is a shot across the bow of the Republican party. Because of Tea Party mania, Huntsman is not expected to gain traction in the 2012 campaign. Perry, though, will likely saddle up the congealed Republican discontent, anger and culture war politics, and ride all the way to the GOP Presidential nomination.
And a little more than half the country will call him crazy and re-elect President Obama. By then, Perry will also have thoroughly established the climate skeptic position as crazy. And as scientifically illegitimate as creationism.
That is the foreshadowed meaning of Jon Huntsman’s tweet. Do you get that? If so, what are you going to do about it?
In order to support their own theories and beliefs about global warming, how likely is it that some climate skeptics would buy into this poll, hook, line and sinker?
If you liked that question, you’ll love this one from Rasmussen Reports:
In order to support their own theories and beliefs about global warming, how likely is it that some scientists have falsified research data?
And so a central meme of the Morano/Inhofe wing (e.g., global warming is one big fraud) gets reinforced by a skewed poll.
Darn, I missed this show by just a few days. (I was in Boulder, Colorado much of last week.) I would have loved to hear from two prominent climate skeptics on how I’m part of the “brainwashed” media.
BTW, I spent much of my time in Boulder visiting with climate scientists at NCAR. I’ll let you know when the magazine story is out. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to continue with my deprogramming…
Anthony Watts, the proprietor of the well known climate skeptic blog, WUWT, seems to have a double standard on what constitutes an insult to ethnic groups.
Watts is making a big deal out of some recent comments by Timothy Wirth, a former U.S. senator and now the president of the UN Foundation, who reportedly said this during a recent conference call:
“[W]e have to–I think, again as I’ve suggested before–undertake an aggressive program to go after those who are among the deniers, who are putting out these mistruths, and really call them for what they’re doing and make a battle out of it. They’ve had pretty much of a free ride so far, and that time has got to stop.”
Watts and the right wing news outlet that is making hay out of Wirth’s comments, are disingenuously twisting the meaning of his words. Wirth is merely suggesting that climate skeptics should be more aggressively challenged on their claims, that’s all.
But Watts, a combat leader in the climate wars, puts his own spin on this for obvious partisan purposes:
Well yesterday, the former senator insulted the Jewish race with the tired old “denier” label, then set his foot on fire, then stuck it in his mouth trying to tell about half of the US population (according to recent polls) that he’s “coming after them” because they don’t share his opinion.
Please. People should be able to see through this for what it is.
Also, funny how Watts is offended on behalf of the “Jewish race” (interesting phrasing). Several days ago, Watts mentioned that he was “dismayed” by Lord Monckton’s recent use of Nazi imagery, in a post titled
Note to Lord Monckton: this isn’t helping
In that post, Watts wrote that
putting swastikas in planned public powerpoint presentations, and linking that by name to a person, is in my opinion, way over the top and in very bad form and totally hijacks and negates the important messages elsewhere in the presentation.
Evidently, such behavior doesn’t rise to the level of insult to Jewish people. It’s just “way over the top and in very bad form,” because it undermines the climate skeptic argument.
What’s very bad form is when partisan climate bloggers express phony, selective outrage.
Leo Hickman in the Guardian takes stock of some recent encouraging developments and muses:
Could peace talks ever end the ‘climate war’?
In his article, he wonders,
are there any shared goals between the two warring parties in the climate debate worth finding “peace” for?
Towards the end, he sums up:
When so much of this war is fought in anonymous online forums (see below for details!), would it be constructive to bring these two groups together in a room to begin tentative “peace talks” based on first trying to identify any common ground? Or is it hopelessly naÃ¯ve of me to even suggest that this could ever bring positive results?
My immediate reaction to Hickman’s olive branch (before reading any response to it) was captured by the “BBD” commenter at Bishop Hill’s blog:
My own small experience – some of it in comments here – is that closed minds rule.
And indeed, a quick scan of the 100-plus comments on that thread bear this out. Hickman, in his comment at Bishop Hill’s, also noticed:
Thanks for responding to my Guardian article. Unless Andrew [Montford] has his own views, I’ll conclude from the reaction here that the answer to my headline question is a resounding ‘no’. It’s a shame that there doesn’t appear to be any common ground at all, but I’m glad I asked the question.
I have some ideas on why I think the hostilities between the warring camps will continue unabated, but first I’d like to hear from you.
Do you think the ‘climate war’ will grind on, irrespective of olive branches waved from either side? Or do you see some possible middle ground that can be agreed on?
This is an interesting and peculiar “conversion story” of a climate skeptic who is
now persuaded that anthropogenic global warming is real.
The piece offers some excellent advice to the left and right sides of the debate, but it also contains standard conservative hyperbole about Al Gore (“He’s clearly looking to ride global warming to greater wealth and power”), the supposed climate change stalking horse (“The Left has seized on it as an opportunity to dismantle free markets and grow government”), and a certain flawed global institution (“The UN is a systemically-corrupt, left-wing political organization”).
Forget the climate change conversion, what does it take for a “skeptic” to realize he is viewing the world through an exaggerated ideological lens?
All in all, the piece is a mixed bag for those who would co-opt it for their side in the climate wars. Right now, it seems to have mostly rankled climate skeptics, for obvious reasons. Regarding the larger climate change debate at hand, this commenter helpfully reminds us what we should strive to do more often:
To clarify discussions about AGW, separate the topic into (at least) three parts:
1. The scientific evidence “” what has been measured up until today “” and the AGW scientific theory to explain this evidence.
2. Projections, predictions and scenarios of the future. This is based on the evidence and theory, but has not yet happened.
3. Debate, proposals and decisions about what we will do about AGW. This is the legitimately political part. It is, and will be, based on parts 1 and 2, but is distinct from them.
The AGW discussions I’ve seen that get most confused are those where the moderator/initiator has not taken care to clearly make such a division and/or doesn’t try to persuade commenters to do the same.
I’d say that much of the acrimony in the climate debate owes to these distinctions willfully not being made.
That’s the theme of this bizarre confab soon to roll into Los Angeles. Featured speakers include numerous climate skeptics, such as Lord Monckton, Benny Peiser, and Richard Lindzen. The organization sponsoring the conference, the American Freedom Alliance, has a few other other notable obsessions. Leo Hickman at the Guardian reports that the group
has promoted intelligent design and seems to tread a very fine line indeed between fighting “Islamic fascism” and outright Islamophobia.
I guess they want to start guarding against the green jihad while keeping Darwinism at bay. Here’s more from Hickman:
The American Freedom Alliance is, perhaps, best known for its on-going legal action with the California Science Center over the cancellation of an AFA event to be held at the centre in 2009 at which it intended to screen a “teach the controversy” film called Darwin’s Dilemma, which explores the “Mystery of the Cambrian Explosion in Fossil Records”. At the time, Avi Davis, executive director and senior fellow of the American Freedom Alliance, said: “New scientific evidence makes it vital that we take a close look at the numerous inherent scientific problems of the Darwinian theory of evolution.” The AFA has subsequently fought the case on the grounds of freedom of expression.
Climate skeptics lending their names to an anti-evolution organization. The headlines write themselves.
Anthony Watts bites down hard on sour grapes after reading the big news yesterday in USA Today. More on that in a minute.
So Dan Vergano breaks the story and offers this helpful background:
The study, which appeared in 2008 in the journal Computational Statistics and Data Analysis, was headed by statistician Edward Wegman of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Its analysis was an outgrowth of a controversial congressional report that Wegman headed in 2006. The “Wegman Report” suggested climate scientists colluded in their studies and questioned whether global warming was real. The report has since become a touchstone among climate change naysayers.
Vergano cites what and who is responsible for the paper’s undoing:
Computer scientist Ted Kirkpatrick of Canada’s Simon Fraser University, filed a complaint with the journal after reading the climate science website Deep Climate, which first noted plagiarism in the Wegman Report in 2009. “There is something beyond ironic about a study of the conduct of science having ethics problems,” Kirkpatrick says.
Well, congratulations to Deep Climate for being able to attack a man in another country without having having to put your name behind it. Such courage. You must be proud.
Fortunately, some WUWT readers exhibit more class and less partisanship than Watts:
I’m sorry, if the paper was sloppy enough to contain plagiarised text, then it is sloppy enough to contain other mistakes. Whether warmist or sceptic, we should be aiming for the highest standards and just because some annoying individual came out the blue and asked annoying questions which the journal properly investigated, we shouldn’t be supporting bad papers.
If Watts is truly offended by someone “being able to attack a man in another country without having having to put your name behind it,” then he might consider putting a stop to anonymous commenters at his site.
UPDATE: Bishop Hill is also not fazed by the journal retraction:
As far as I can tell, nobody is disputing the paper’s findings though.
How do you guys manage to twist yourselves into such contortions and stay upright?
UPDATE: On Monday, In a follow-up piece online, Dan Vergano probes beyond the issue of plagiarism:
But how good was the study? We asked network analysis expert Kathleen Carley of Carnegie Mellon to take a look at whether the CSDA study, a “bibliometric” critique of publishing links between climate scientists, was any good in the first place. “I see this paper as more of an opinion piece,” Carley says, by email.
Carley is a well-established expert in network analysis. She even taught the one-week course that one of Wegman’s students took before 2006, making the student the “most knowledgeable” person about such analyses on Wegman’s team, according to a note that Wegman sent to CSDA in March.
Be sure to read the whole article, which contains a Q & A with Carley.
Once upon a time, lots of people got all riled up over this guy and his swiveling hips. Imagine.
These were bad boys, too (and one of my favorite all time bands).
Anyway, for Anthony or anyone at WUWT who wants to push back on your inner curmudgeon, I give you this George Carlin classic.