Sarah Palin's Bogus Climate Arguments Graduate From Facebook to the Washington Post

By Chris Mooney | December 9, 2009 8:29 am

Last week, I pointed to a Facebook post by Sarah Palin that was just bonkers about climate change and “ClimateGate.” And I linked to a thorough refutation of it, by Adam Siegel.

This post is simply to say that despite Siegel’s Herculean efforts, essentially the same item now turns up as an op-ed in The Washington Post. I’m sure Carl Zimmer will have much to say about fact-checking and the Post‘s op-ed page; but hey, it’s just presenting the “other side” on climate change, right?

I mean, so what if Sarah Palin asserts that the current warming is just part of a natural cycle, or confuses climate with weather–showing not only ignorance of basic climate science, but embracing positions quite contrary to accepted scientific knowledge. So what–because Republicans need their science too, and op-ed pages exist to let all sides to articulate their point of view–to say what they want to say and what they deeply feel, and do their best to attract lots of fans.

Just like Facebook does.


Comments (26)

  1. SLC

    Is Ms. Palin any more ridiculous then George Will?

  2. Sorbet

    One word; disgusting

  3. Sorbet

    Chris, it’s clear…you need to respond with your own piece, just like you did with Will

    One has to realize that the simple reason these papers print such pieces is because they know that controversy (real or manufactured) attracts readers…truth be damned

  4. Andrew

    The facts are the facts.

    The science must stand on its own.

    In science the burden of proof is on the theory.

    The theory must provide the proof.

    If the theory makes a prediction, which it must to not simply be a hypothesis, and the prediction is wrong then the theory is discarded.

    That is part of the scientific method.

    The AGW theory predicts that CO2 causes global warming.

    CO2 is higher now then it was in 1998.

    Average global temperature has been declining since 1998

    The prediction made by the theory is wrong therefore the theory must be discarded.

    It is called the scientific method. It only takes one wrong result to discard a theory.

    Since the oceans are cooler AND the air is cooler AND there is more ice at the poles, where did the heat go?

    It escaped through the CO2 and into space, since C02 can not block the movement of energy.

    ‘No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.’ Albert Einstein

    Please see also:

    For a satirical look at the climategate computer programming (hiding the decline):

    Anthropogenic Global Warming Virus Alert.

  5. Harman Smith

    “The prediction made by the theory is wrong therefore the theory must be discarded.
    It is called the scientific method. It only takes one wrong result to discard a theory.”

    Slow down, turbo. If a theory makes a prediction and it did not predict properly, the theory is wrong but it is not necessarily discarded. It can be adapted, tweaked, and more.

    “CO2 is higher now then it was in 1998.
    Average global temperature has been declining since 1998”

    Temperatures are slowly on the rise, and there are fluctuations. It’s just that simple. If you just take one year, which is what you did, and then compare everything else with that one year, it will seem like temperatures are declining. The question is: why did you pick that one year? It seems to me, that, if you want to look if the earth is warming or not, you’d look at the whole picture. If I didn’t know any better I’d say you aren’t really interested in the truth!

  6. Nate

    It is surprising that only the foreign media has been paying attention to the ClimateGate e-mails. At first, before I started to read the e-mails, I thought they were largerly overblown.

    Not any more.

    It is becoming quite clear that the extent mankind’s contribution to global warming is generating new debate. Further that the Luddites desires to roll back CO2 emmissions back to the early 1900s is likely impossible at current population levels. Even then the impact might only be 0.07 of a degree!

    The major question about raised by ClimateGate, is how much of the bogus science practiced by CRU (which has released their original data) has been used to develop planetary climate models? If erroneous data and theory was used to develop these models, then models are wrong.

    Need proof? The proof that the models are wrong is the fact that the models did not predict global cooling trend over the last decade.

  7. Steve S

    The medieval warming period, which was much warmer than today, was conveniently blotted out by the CRU after 1996, when it existed before then. We just don’t have enough reliable data to say global warming is true, or than man is responsible, in particular in light of the falsified data coming from the CRU. There are questions about NASA’s data as well right now, and a New Zealand climate center was found fudging data as well. Sarah Palin is the one who is right, the author is the one who is confused.

  8. IGORE

    How about publishing the EMAIL CLIMATE GATE BOGUS DATA!
    Also Corey S. Powell the EDITOR for this magazine makes MONEY FROM CLIMATE CHANGE. Lectures and articles. You think he wants to see that go bye bye?

  9. Scott S

    I am so disappointed with the media and its supposed un- biased take on anything Sarah Palin or anyone else has to say about Global Warming. Wake up everyone! Most if all the test results are made to go the way that will make America turn into a third world country. These over Biased results need to be thrown out and we need to look at all the data over. There are a few people who would do anything they could to show that everything is heating up. It’s not only profitable for them to get their beliefs across but is it really for the good of man or is it to make the United States out to be the Bad guy. I am not a weather man or a scientist but just like all weather patterns things tend to repeat. Everyone wants to make Sarah Palin look like an idiot. The fact is she might just have a point of view that is correct and just because the media and the crazies on the left are afraid that she knows just what she is talking about. I agree with Steve S. I do not want us to be a third world country and lose more jobs to other countries just so a few will be wealthy. Wake up before they brain wash you. They already changed our history books to show what they want our kids to believe. Lets keep our Country Great and lets look at all the facts. Today we are getting hit with a Snow storm that I havent seen since I was a kid in the first grade. I am 40 years old and now I have to dig out my car again. Where is the global warming?

  10. Cameron

    Scott, you are confusing weather with climate.

  11. Harman Smith

    “Today we are getting hit with a Snow storm that I havent seen since I was a kid in the first grade. I am 40 years old and now I have to dig out my car again. Where is the global warming?”

    Earlier this year I experienced the hottest, most humid summer ever in my home country. Where is the global cooling?

    You see how easy it is to say the things you say, and simply flip it around, like I just did? We need a wake-up call all right: the deniers need to stop screwing around with their idiot reasoning, cherry-picking of data and logical fallacies. Forget about the CRU e-mail hack. AGW deniers have been mangling the data of scientists for years, and no one really bothered to set them straight. Global warming is real, and humans are causing it. The earth’s climate has always been changing, it’s true; just not so darn quick that it threatens life on earth (that includes us). It is utterly obvious why right-wingers think it’s a left-wing conspiracy: AGW requires government action, and what happens on the other side of the planet (China polluting the environment) actually matters a great deal, requiring a kind of cooperation and dependency that just doesn’t fit in with right-wing ideology. I couldn’t care less what fits in with people’s ideologies. Global warming is the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced, and we need to stop messing around and step to the plate.

  12. bilbo

    How about publishing the EMAIL CLIMATE GATE BOGUS DATA!
    Also Corey S. Powell the EDITOR for this magazine makes MONEY FROM CLIMATE CHANGE. Lectures and articles. You think he wants to see that go bye bye?

    Holy crap, IGORE. Literally everyone on the planet is in on the conspiracy except for you, isn’t it?

    RUN!!!!!!!!! CONSPIRACY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. bilbo

    Harman Smith, you’re about the single most levelheaded person on this blog when it comes to what is and what is not climate science. Just wanted to give a big “kudos” that will probably be interpreted by the denialists as evidence of our colluding in a worldwide conspiracy….

  14. graham kelly

    how can you ignore comment number 4?

    IPCC Predictions for the past decade have shown to be incorrect, they do not match observed data, there terrible predictions for the planet are not happening, the models are simply not sophisticated enough to deal with real climate change. While CO2 may have an influence on climate it is not as the scaremongers have predicted. Did you even see the recent report where the IPCC ‘misread’ a report on melting glaciers, the original report stated 2350, this was turned into 2035 by the ‘peer reviewd’ IPCC.
    The science is in its infancy, the enviromental movement has been taken over for political agenda. Wake up for gods sake.
    30,000 scientists signed a petition stating there oposition to the IPCC’s finding and recomendations.
    More recently since climategate the SPPI has gathered names of 150 climate scientists who oppose the supposed consensus on AGW, this consensus is a complete overstated fabrication deriving from false numbers provided from the IPCC, the supposed 2500 scintists in agreement is nothing of the sort, it consists of only 250 climate scientist not all of who are in agreement and a lot who are students of the professors who push AGW religion and merely produce figures of agreement to plaese their teachers for gods sake. How can so many people be so naive, research it for yourself please, stop just trying to search for new spin pushed out from sites like rela climate, go to places like Watts up with that and climate audit, read through the material and wake up.

    What has the political elitte come up with to curb this obvious real AGW which will obviously kill them and they believe in 100% as they have been pushing it so hard through funding funding and more funding and using influence to silence disent. They have Cap and Trade for you and the largest global tax the world has ever seen whilst trying to lay the foundations for the first world government that will control all development and finance. Well GREAT! that will sort it!!!!

    No one disputes the world has been warming, it has been for 300 years since the little ice age, before that we had the medieval period which was as warmer than todays global average, before that, if we go way back around the time of the dino’s…….it was far hotter and there was far more CO2, if CO2 was to create a perpetual warming cycle as is predicted for us then the world would never have recovered would it.

    Face it, the models are useless and YOU have been scammed, you think they are just going to come out and say…oh sorry we were wrong! trillions of dollars are tied up in this. This is not going to end up well. It reminds me of 1984 “how many fingers am i holding up winston? 4? no its 5, its 5 if we say its 5 and you must believe it” (paraphrase)

  15. badnicolez

    @Harman Smith: Are temperatures “slowly on the rise” as you stated in your first post, or are they rising “so darn quick that it threatens life on earth (that includes us)” as you stated in your second post? You really should make up your mind.

    This also highlights why Bilbo’s opinions should be given no credence.

    I’m not a denialist, I’m a realist. If these so-called scientists would stop massaging the data, maybe I’ll start believing their “proof.” The data should stand on its own and be released to the public and other scientists. After all, aren’t we the ones paying for these studies?

    Let’s have a real debate about real problems, instead of focusing on CO2 emissions until and unless causality is proven. The question of whether warming causes CO2 to rise or CO2 causes warming has not yet been answered. Let’s figure that out before regulating the world back to the Stone Age.

    Calling us denialists just proves you are demagoguing the issue and not willing to engage in the necessary debate. Oh, and it is disgustingly anti-Semitic to equate AGW with the Holocaust.

  16. Since when does anyone care what Sarah Palin has to say about anything scientific? That’s like asking Al Gore to explain science. Neither knows an acorn from a walnut. Sarah Palin is just the GOP’s current darling and is being set up to be the next Cult of Personality ala Obama. Empty words, meaningless rhetoric, and great magazine photogenics to appeal to the slobbering masses.

    As for science, the only science I’ve seen from you who deny Climategate is name-calling and vitriol. Appeals to the mythical “consensus” is not scientific proof of anything but your willingness to believe anything an interGOVERNMENTAL panel tells you to believe.

    The science is NOT settled and there is no consensus. There are more than enough reasons to question whether CO2 is anything of importance in climate change.

  17. Paul W.


    Since when does anyone care what Sarah Palin has to say about anything scientific?

    Maybe I’m not getting your real meaning, but WTF?

    She’s the darling of the Republican base. Her opinions matter because she’s an opinion leader for tens of millions of ignorant boobs who vote.

    It’s apalling that the Washington Post would publish this kind of arrant nonsense.

    Somebody in the earlier thread about her facebook post asked why bother talking about it.

    This is why. Before it gets to the op-ed page of the Washington Post, her dumbass ideas from her facebook page should be critiqued, to give the WaPo’s editors and apparently mythical fact-checkers a chance to vet what she writes for obvious misstatements of fact.

    Chris was doing absolutely the right thing to point out the nonsense. The WaPo staff is doing the wrong thing not to be listening to the informed opinion about the subject (e.g., following science blogs like this one), and irresponsibly publishing stuff that’s not just wrong at the bottom line of policy recommendations, but wrong through and through in terms of easily checkable facts.

    Palin has the right to her own opinion, and maybe that belongs on the editorial page, sometimes. She does not have the right to her own facts.

  18. Harman Smith

    “@Harman Smith: Are temperatures “slowly on the rise” as you stated in your first post, or are they rising “so darn quick that it threatens life on earth (that includes us)” as you stated in your second post? You really should make up your mind.”

    First of all, thanks for responding, and for asking a legit question. The answer is simple, however. The earth has been around for about 4.5 billion years. We’ve been around for at least a hundred thousand years (or longer than that, I’m not sure… ask Carl Zimmer). From our perspective, it’s happening awfully slow. But from the earth’s perspective, it’s happening lightning quick. When I say slowly on the rise, it is on the rise, in the same way a child slowly grows into an adult (I suppose a proper analogy would be slower than that). From the planet’s perspective, climate change has never gone so fast. Well, it may have happened in the past, and it very likely had devastating consequences. I’m not just talking about melting ice and rising sea levels: life won’t be able to deal with such rapid changes. See: this Op-ed by Olivia Judson

    For us, that’s a big deal. We depend on the natural world.

  19. graham kelly

    Yes Harman, the las time it happened there were vikings everywhere, I hope that does not happen again, how will the world cope >.>

  20. Anthony McCarthy

    The WaPo is a shameless organ of right wing propaganda. It published George Will, then claiming that his false columnage had been fact checked when it didn’t even square with what his cited sources and even the WaPo itself had said.

  21. Discover is supposed to be a magazine of Science isn’t it?

    The argument here seems to be the first step for Discover to become the Arming America of the Climate Argument.

    You must be so proud!

  22. DEO

    Yet in her desperate attempt to make some news, she contradicted both her action as governor and her statements during the 2008 campaign. For instance:

    Sarah Palin yesterday:

    I just don’t think we can primarily blame man’s activities for the earth’s cyclical weather changes.

    Sarah Palin in 2008:

    There are man’s activities that can be contributed to the issues that we’re dealing with now, these impacts.

    One of theses days, the news media will catch on to Palin’s tricks and stop covering her factless outbursts as “news.”

  23. Brian Too

    I have had trouble figuring Palin out. I’m not sure I dislike her but neither am I terribly interested in her. It’s like she’s irrelevant to me.

    Finally I read an editorial about her and the book she recently published. I think it captured my problem with her: She’s not a politician. At all. She’s a tourist, someone searching for a career. She does not have an agenda of political service. She does not wish to represent the public or her constituency. Or maybe she half-heartedly does, because that’s required for the office she occasionally holds, but she’s not passionate about public office.

    Ironically she needs to be a professional politician and she isn’t one. This is presented a good thing by her supporters, when in fact it ought to disqualify her as a serious candidate.

    Finally all the Maverick! comments make sense.

  24. I am so proud of Sarah Palin for what she is speaking out about. It disgusts me that the mainstream media would make an award for Top Lie of 2009 and then “award” it to her. Why are they so worked up about her? Do you think she will run for President? I hope so, I would volunteer for her campaign. Visit my site if you’d like to read more. Keep up the fine work!


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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs.For a longer bio and contact information, see here.


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