The Top Five Lies About Global Warming

By Chris Mooney | August 12, 2010 7:31 pm

What do you think they are? I’m canvassing opinions for a possible project.

(Note: The question is asked from the premise that global warming is real and human caused, not that it is itself a lie. Contrarian/denialist answers may be fun, but they won’t be of use to me.)

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Global Warming

Comments (57)

  1. Duane

    Not sure if this is more of a “denialist” argument (feel free to delete if it is), but:

    “A local cooling event (i.e. California is experiencing its coolest summer in years) means AGW isn’t really that serious.”

  2. Chris Mooney

    Yes that’s a very good one.

  3. CO2 is not a pollutant, it’s natural and harmless

    CO2 was highly variable during the 20th century (a la Ernst-Georg Beck) and is not increasing

  4. The warming is due to a natural solar cycle.

    Year XXXX was the warmest on record and we have been cooling since. The Climate models can not explain the cooling since year XXXX.

    They can’t predict the weather three days from now, how can they predict it 10 years from now. (This one is fun because it is so laden with ignorance: That meteorologist are usually wrong, that weather and climate are the same thing…)

    The latest conspiracy theory about the IPCC. Which works out nicely: Take all the experts in the field, lump them together into an organization, dismiss that organization. Viola! No more “legitimate” experts to counter your beliefs.

    The ice caps aren’t melting, they’re actually growing in location X.

  5. J. J. Ramsey

    How about this one: The stolen CRU emails purportedly reveal that the claims of rising global temperature are fraudulent.

  6. Nullius in Verba

    1. Argument from Authority is a logical fallacy.
    2. Correlation does not imply causation.
    3. Both warm and cold weather are equally relevant/irrelevant to the case for AGW.
    4. Compared to the Eemian, Holocene optimum, and interstadials, (or the expected stochastic trends from a unit root process) current warming is not unusual in either magnitude or rate.
    5. Just because current climate models (written by AGW-believers) can’t fit past weather without counting CO2 doesn’t mean that it is logically impossible to do so.

    I can do some more if you’re interested, but somehow I suspect you’re probably not… :-)

  7. Nullius in Verba

    “The ice caps aren’t melting”

    Good one. I noticed you used the plural.

    Did you really mean that, or was it a misverbalisation for “The ice cap isn’t melting”?

    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seaice.anomaly.antarctic.png

  8. GM

    In addition to the fairly boring list of denialist lies and distortions, a very significant misunderstanding is that if we “do something” about climate change, we will be fine. That’s absolutely not true as it is a only a subset of the long list of very serious problems we’re facing, and if we don’t act on all of them in a systemic way, we’re toast. So the overt focus on AGW is not at all healthy.

  9. Guy

    Just grab one of Monckton’s presentations. Every false denier claim is presented in detail as though it were fact.

  10. Chris, I think the biggest thing most climate change deniers are missing is a basic understanding of what “knowing something” means within science. There is this feeling that because expert X can be produced who disagrees, that we must not really have any clue what is happening. For most of those I know who do not fully understand the problem, a basic introduction to scientific consensus would be nice. I would also include a section on why engineers/physicist/etc aren’t climate scientists.

  11. Chris Mooney

    So let’s see if I can distill what I think are the biggest ones from above:

    1) Weather phenomena refute climate trends (weather is unpredictable so how can you predict climate, etc)
    2) Global warming is natural not anthropogenic
    3) ClimateGate shows the science is corrupt and not to be trusted (or, the IPCC is corrupt, etc)
    4) No reason to trust scientific ‘consensus’….

  12. The initiation warming lag of glacial period – interglacial period climate state changes, where temperatures began to rise before CO2 concentrations began to rise, shows that CO2 is not the primary factor in the modern-era warming observations.

    Here’s Steve Milloy using this lie:

    U.N. climate distractions

    Jo Nova: The 800-year lag – graphed

    CO2 Science on this topic (from 2003)

    “Gore gored”, a PDF by Lord Pinth-Darnell… sorry, Lead Twit… sorry, Lord Monckton of Brenchley, on page 6: on the Web from Competitive Enterprise Institute

  13. Sean McCorkle

    (I just noticed the summary list above. Maybe this also falls under 2):

    “the geologic record shows much larger temperature variations in the past, so this is nothing to worry about”

  14. Eric the Leaf

    Well, GM, I’ve been saying that for a long, long time. If by magic global warming were “solved” tomorrow the most important elements of the human ecological crisis would still not have been addressed. In fact, the crisis of modern humanity was well understood before climate change was on anybody’s radar. The exclusive obsession with AGW appears to represent a default position for those lacking the motiviation and discpline to study human ecology and anthropology.

  15. tresmal

    Addressing AGW in any meaningful way leads to One World Communist Government and making everybody live like a medieval peasant!

  16. Guy

    5) The data is bad because they took temperature readings near known “hot spots” like cities that produce a strong heat island effect.

  17. Anthony McCarthy

    The biggest one is that there is any significant, non-ideological, rational number of scientists without a profit motive, competent in the relevant disciplines who denies that human generated pollution, deforestation, etc. is leading to a rise in average temperatures.

    A second one is that someone with some kind of credentials in an unrelated science has anything important to add to the topic. I don’t think too many geologists working for the extraction industries fulfill the basic requirement to be taken seriously on the topic, their conflicts of interest are enough to make anything they say eminently unsuited to be taken on faith.

    Another one that’s particularly annoying is that a poll of TV weathermen on the subject has any scientific value. Most of the ones I’ve seen might give some relevant makeup and skin care tips to those so inclined to take them, what they have to say about any climate related topic is likely to be less informed than what your dog will tell you about it.

  18. Paul

    Weather and climate are the same thing.

    That those who believe in MMGW think that the climate was static in the past and that they think climate change is only done by man.

    Single places of cold, or ice in one region disproves MMGW.

    It’s a global, liberal, al gore, scientists,… what ever conspiracy. And that of course the results are going to be what they are because they want funding.

  19. Not global warming. Polar warming. No theory or observations say the tropics are warming. Two green house gases, CO2 and H2O. Make it cold as arctic or mountain tops and the water drops out — it becomes CO2 dominated. Anthropomorphic, yes. Make it hot, and the atmosphere holds lots of water, even in the desert. Nobody understands the water.

  20. GM

    14. Eric the Leaf Says:
    August 12th, 2010 at 9:47 pm
    Well, GM, I’ve been saying that for a long, long time. If by magic global warming were “solved” tomorrow the most important elements of the human ecological crisis would still not have been addressed. In fact, the crisis of modern humanity was well understood before climate change was on anybody’s radar. The exclusive obsession with AGW appears to represent a default position for those lacking the motiviation and discpline to study human ecology and anthropology.

    Exactly. In fact, the odds are that collapse will occur due to breakdown of the energy supply systems decades before the first really bad effects of global warming become apparent. But very few people are looking at the whole picture.

    Which is very tragic, because as I have often pointed out here, global warming is the sustainability problem of greatest uncertainty so focusing entirely on it is a very bad strategy. You can deny global warming, but you have to be a total lunatic to deny that we have a problem with oil supply, we have a problem with phosphorus reserves, we have a problem with aquifers, we have a problem with topsoil loss, we have a problem with the oceans (and far from just acidifcation), and the list goes on and on, with the most undeniable thing being that you can’t have exponential growth on a finite planet. Of course, there are an awful lot of total lunatics out there who deny all of that and who can not understand that there are no substitutes for things like energy, water, soil and essential for life chemical elements, but still, the message would have been a lot stronger, on a lot more solid ground, and a lot closer to the reality of what needs to be done, had it been a comprehensive overview of the human ecological situation instead of a narrow focus on the issue of relative least certainty.

    The saddest thing is that if we are to cluster the denialists, the vast majority of environmental groups and writers (the ones hosting this blog included), and the people who actually understand how bad it really is with respect to how close to actual understanding of the situation they are, the people who understand the predicament will be the outgroup and the other two groups will be closer together.

  21. ChH

    “… the premise that global warming is real and human caused …”
    Good to know you’ve made up your mind.

  22. 1. Water vapor is a stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, therefore the CO2 in the atmosphere can be ignored.

    2. The scientific consensus back in the 70’s was that the earth was cooling. Now scientists say it’s warming. Clearly they don’t know one way or the other.

  23. Marion Delgado

    My list

    #1 Science is not done by consensus.

    #2 Research money is for the benefit of the researcher.

    #3 Peer review is broken.

    Those 3 attack 3 of the 4 pillars of science: consensus, data gathering, and peer review

    #4 There is more money and power pushing AGW than denialism.

    #5 Markets know better than experts

  24. Jon

    Ordered by sway over public opinion:

    #1 Scientists haven’t come to a conclusion that it’s real.

    #2 Climate change is an environmentalist’s issue. If I don’t spend much time enjoying the outdoors, etc., I needn’t be concerned.

    #3 Fighting climate change is a zero sum proposition. You can’t help the environment without the economy suffering significantly.

    #4 Climate change is a distant problem–even if we do nothing, chances are no generation alive today will need to deal with climate change’s effects significantly during their lifetimes. (And maybe when the effects are felt, we’ll know how to deal with it by then anyway.)

    #5 “Scandals” like the email controversy show that scientists have their thumbs on the scales.

  25. Doug from Dougland

    I’d have to say the second most common one I come across is that the politicians and various other non-scientists who have become the face of global warming exaggerated something or other, lied about something or other, or have the wrong political affiliation; therefore their integrity is in doubt. The whole mistrust of “big whatever” thing, boiling down to saying the scientific consensus is contrived because the same people promoting countermeasures stand to profit from it.

    The most common argument I come across is, of course, I just don’t believe it and there’s nothing you can say that will convince me otherwise. *Insert political commentator* said so.

  26. mdc

    I’m sure you mean well, but picking out “lies” from other peoples’ polemics and then “debunking” them in your own polemic is not how science works. Especially so if you have to consult a peanut gallery for suggestions because you don’t understand the issue well enough to know what is important or true and what isn’t.

    So let’s start from scratch.

    First, do you actually know the theory and evidence behind global warming, or are you just repeating someone else’s opinions, or something you rote-learned? If not, stop right there, and buy a textbook on environmental physics. I learned what I know from university lecture courses so I can’t recommend a particular book, but there are a number of seemingly good choices that come up from typing ‘environmental physics’ into amazon. Read the reviews and check the background of the authors.

    Then, when you understand the evidence, present a positive case with reasoning and data. That way, you may be able to persuade your audience rather than just hectoring them about how dumb they are. At the very least, you’ll be able to write your “FIVE REASONS WHY PEOPLE WHO DISAGREE WITH ME ARE JERKS” op-ed from a position of authority, and without having to copy the substance of the text from blog comments submitted by anonymous randoms on the internet.

  27. Brad H

    7. Nullius in Verba Says:
    August 12th, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    “The ice caps aren’t melting”

    Good one. I noticed you used the plural.

    Did you really mean that, or was it a misverbalisation for “The ice cap isn’t melting”?

    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seaice.anomaly.antarctic.png

    —————
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/global.daily.ice.area.withtrend.jpg

  28. FergalR

    The top lie has to be that Big Oil is funding sceptics. In reality, ExxonMobil is giving $100 million to Standford’s Global Climate and Energy Project, while BP and Shell funded the work of UEA’s Climatic Research unit from the start. Incidentally, Lord Oxburgh, who chaired one of the inquiries into climategate, had been a chairman of Shell while they were funding those he investigated. Oxburgh is currently a shining light in the green energy bubble industry.

    http://gcep.stanford.edu/about/sponsors.html
    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/about/history/

  29. They can’t predict the weather three days from now, how can they predict it 10 years from now.

    I’d rate that #1. It’s the question I hear constantly from friends and family, people who don’t have a dog in the fight and honestly don’t understand how we can trust climate calculations when we can’t predict next week’s weather.

    #2 would be, “how can I believe in global warming when it’s snowing outside”

  30. Roger

    It’s a conspiracy created by liberals to raise my taxes.
    It’s the sun that’s causing the Earth to get warmer.
    The Earth isn’t getting warmer. Climategate proved the numbers are faked.
    Scientists are hiding their data from skeptical observers.
    Global warming will be good for the Earth.
    Even if it were real, we could easily fix the atmosphere.

  31. 1. It has recently been proved
    (False – it was “proved” in the 19th century by Svante Arrhenius. Yes there were gaps in the “proof”, and some imaginable mechanisms for the climate system to evade it, but they were always far fetched, and foolish to put a high stakes gamble on)
    2. Evidence matters
    (False – looking for evidentiary proof is like asking for such proof that you will eventually ht the ground after falling off a cliff and arguing about whether the fact that air resistance is reducing your acceleration means that you’ll actually be just fine)
    3. We can all make a difference by changing our own lifestyle
    (False – it will require universal collective action. So far, just 20% of the world have been “defectors” from abstinence and even with an 80% “participation” rate the strategy of living poor isn’t working)
    4. Energy efficiency is the solution
    (False – even with 100% efficiecy of all devices, with currently available of foreseeable energy sources there is no way we can continue to do what we do without causing more global warming)
    5. Reducing our energy consumption is the solution
    (False – Even compulsory mandated limits on travel and other forms of energy consumption would not suffice unless those limits were low enough to reduce us all to a “third world” standard of living. If we lower Western/Northern populations to any acceptable standard of living the effect would be more than offset by what would be necessary to raise all the rest to that same minimum standard.)

    So what WILL bring AGW to an end?

    Plan A is an immediate compulsory global one-child policy which will halve our population in about 50 years and cut it back to about 2.5 billion by the end of the century,
    and if that is considered too draconian there’s always…

  32. Sorbit

    I completely agree that deniers should stop blurring the lines between weather and climate. But the same goes for climate change scientists and news broadcasters who should also stop pointing to every hot summer and cold winter as evidence of climate change. That just gives the deniers more fodder.

  33. Nullius in Verba

    #26,

    It isn’t entirely clear what Chris is up to. He might be trying to gather topics for a grand debunking, or he might be planning something else. I am looking forward to seeing what he has got in mind. (Not with any high expectations, but you never know…)

    This approach is evidently not intended to solicit what sceptics’ arguments actually are, but what the believers think they are. It is with some amusement that I note the radical differences between the two.

    Given Chris’s past criticisms of scientists for not finding out why the public think as they do, and instead trying to lecture at them while totally missing the point, it’s possible that he’s intending to emphasise that observation by means of such a demonstration. Like explaining why New Atheists fail to convince Theists by asking atheists for a list of “the top five religious lies”. (Which would be so blatantly provocative and unhelpful, not to mention unconvincing, that it would be impossible to take seriously, especially from an Accomodationist such as Chris.) On the other hand, there’s no requirement for people to apply their beliefs in one area across all others consistently.

    You may be right about that planned polemic, but the evidence isn’t in yet.

    But you definitely have a valid point in the idea that believers often don’t seem to know themselves what the evidence for or against CAGW actually is. Perhaps Chris could add that one to his list?

    #27,

    Thank you. Yes. That one proves my point even better.

  34. Jon

    FergalR: The top lie has to be that Big Oil is funding sceptics.

    Nice sophistry, FergalR. “Big Oil” may not be funding it *presently* (*may* not–I wouldn’t bet money it isn’t), but you don’t have to do much digging in the recent past:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Competitive_Enterprise_Institute#Funding

    http://snowe.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressRoom.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=9acba744-802a-23ad-47be-2683985c724e

  35. GM

    2.5 billion is in all likelihood too much

  36. Nullius in Verba

    #34,

    If it is, then where’s my check?!
    :-)

    I have to admit, though, I’ve just found an organisation that speaks regularly in public on the topic of climate that lists amongst its corporate sponsors: British Petroleum, Shell, Central Electricity Generating Board, Irish Electricity Supply Board, Eastern Electricity, National Power, Nuclear Installations Inspectorate,UK NIREX Ltd, and the Sultanate of Oman.

    So would you believe a word they say?

    Another one for Chris’s list of “denier lies” – that the “big oil” conspiracy theory is a case of ad hominem argument and logically invalid.

  37. Perplexed in Peoria

    Not all of the lies are coming from the AGW deniers. To create at least the appearance of even-handedness, I would suggest that you skewer at least one lie from the AGW alarmists and one from the proponents of “technological solutions”. For example, the lie that melting glaciers in Greenland and the Antarctic will likely result in catastrophic sea-level rise by mid-century. Or the lie that the idea of CO2 capture and sequestration is a promising possibility, if we are just willing to pay for it.

    For the three remaining lies, I would suggest that you make two of them about AGW-denier misrepresentation/misunderstanding of the well understood science behind the causation chain (anthropogenic CO2 -> hotter climate). The third should be the lie that moving now unilaterally to reduce emissions by way of a carbon tax would cripple the US economy and make American industry uncompetitive in a world economy. Or, if you prefer, crush the lie that the problem can be easily solved by conservation without increasing our use of nuclear energy.

  38. GM

    37. Perplexed in Peoria Says:
    August 13th, 2010 at 3:56 pm
    For example, the lie that melting glaciers in Greenland and the Antarctic will likely result in catastrophic sea-level rise by mid-century.

    Give me one person with any authority on the subject who has claimed that

  39. For example, the lie that melting glaciers in Greenland and the Antarctic will likely result in catastrophic sea-level rise by mid-century.

    Please cite a printed occurrence of this statement, or one closely approximating it, by an “AGW alarmist”.

    I don’t think that can be done. (I like your other suggestions.)

  40. Susan Anderson

    First, for those questioning Chris Mooney’s credentials and the connections through the decades between money, power, and various forms of fake skepticism over science and the promotion of scientific illiteracy, you really should read his book:
    The Republican War on Science
    which is still the best. Since antiheroes last for decades, it is surprisingly current, and the research is deep, broad, and useful. If you take the trouble, it will answer any questions you might have about the legitimacy of some common complaints about the “denialosphere”, its connection to big money, and its tawdry history.

    The trend that is catching my attention is the focus on personalities, and increasingly on courtesy. I think this is a carefully thought out campaign. It works really well for arguments that are being repeated over and over again over time, sometimes many decades. The slightest impatience is “proof” that science is closed minded and arrogant.

    Recently I had occasion to visit an offside blog, Collide-a-Scape (I hesitate to provide PR for them here, but the example is interesting, I think) which had a feature on a recent tiff in comments between Judith Curry and Gavin Schmidt (it looked like straightforward elucidation of matters of fact to me but raised a storm of indignation – could it be because it was accurate?). It became a post mortem on RealClimate’s comment policy and claims that it is an insider club (it’s all too easy to claim experts are such). It’s difficult for me because despite extensive connections with science and some science education, I am not qualified once science does what it does, which is to go in depth and really find the substance using measurement and proof, etc. as far as is possible, checking results and developing arguments over time. This kind of substantive work is easy to debunk for those who grew up using school as a social milieu, avoiding work, finding excuses, and treating clever people as smartasses or social outcasts. And of course not all skeptics are fake skeptics, though these are few in number; and many fake skeptics are highly qualified, just for the record. Nonetheless the culture we inhabit is very much against knowledge and learning.

    To return to the point, it seemed to me with my limited ability to judge that every time Dr. Curry was asked a substantive question she fluffed or fudged, while hammering away at her point that we should all visit popular but notorious fake skeptic blogs (e.g., ClimateAudit) and take them seriously, as well as a book by Montford for which from hearing about it I could not summon up any interest. Dr. Schmidt had called her out with specifics in comments she had made in RealClimate, and Keith Kloor, the interviewer, was supposedly providing an outside forum where the whole thing could get some air. Aside from taking up vast amounts of busy people’s time (my sympathies are obviously with Gavin Schmidt), it focused on fan clubs – Dr. Curry was praised to the skies – and multiple complaints about RealClimate’s comment policy. I could go on, but should probably leave the details to your imaginations.

    In the end, the interview with Dr. Schmidt gave me more respect for Dr. Curry than any of her comments. He elucidated the issues she was concerned about as well as her qualifications and abilities in a way that was gentle and respectful. I’m left with the question, why does the person under attack act respectfully to the attacker and end up with the blame? The whole thing was about form rather than content. I am still curious as to why I thought from the minute I saw Dr. Curry’s first comment on RealClimate I thought she was evading the hard science, but the conclusion from the outside was that Dr. Schmidt was rude and Dr. Curry a hero?

    The point of this long screed is that increasingly courtesy is being used to “prove” that scientists are all wet. It’s very successful and I think we need to pay attention.

  41. Nullius in Verba

    #39,

    “For example, the lie that melting glaciers in Greenland and the Antarctic will likely result in catastrophic sea-level rise by mid-century.”

    “Please cite a printed occurrence of this statement, or one closely approximating it, by an “AGW alarmist”.”

    Happy to oblige!

    The most famous example of course is Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth. “So if the ocean gets warmer, it has an impact on it. If this were to go, sea levels worldwide would go up 20 feet. […] If Greenland broke up and melted, or if half of Greenland and half of West Antarctica broke up and melted, this is what would happen to the sea level in Florida.” There follows a series of photoshopped pictures of present day cities and landmarks flooded.

    While he does not specify a timescale, by the examples he gives of impacts and the numbers of people affected, he makes it clear that he is talking about a relatively near future, and rising fast enough to lead to huge numbers of refugees: “Think of the impact of a couple hundred thousand refugees when they are displaced by an environmental event and then imagine the impact of a hundred million or more.”

    “That’s why the citizens of these pacific nations had all had to evacuate to New Zealand.”
    Oh, really? When was that?

    We also have James Hansen writing for Environmental Research Letters: “However, as a physicist, I find it almost inconceivable that BAU climate change would not yield a sea level change of the order of meters on the century timescale.”

    Greenpeace, to their credit, do give the scientific predictions of modest sea level rise, but then ignore all of that to come out with the scary statements again. “Between the Greenland ice sheet and the Western Antarctic ice sheet the world could well be facing a 13 metre (43 foot) rise in sea level if we do not drastically curb our greenhouse gas emissions. Even a small fraction of this much sea level rise would be an economic and humanitarian disaster.” Again, the impacts described make it clear that this is a fast, near-term catastrophic event being envisioned – not an imperceptible creep over thousands of years.

    The Australian TV science/climate pundit Robyn Williams supported a previously discussed 100 m claim.
    “I ask you, Robyn, 100 metres in the next century…do you really think that?”
    “Robyn Williams: It is possible, yes. The increase of melting that they’ve noticed in Greenland and the amount that we’ve seen from the western part of Antarctica, if those increases of three times the expected rate continue, it will be huge.”

    Here’s a randomly selected environmentalist site that says:
    “But that’s not everything. The melting ice should be the next big problem on our hands. If Antarctic were to melt completely, it should give us 61 meters of sea level rise worldwide. Greenland should add another 7,2 meters; the glaciers 50 centimeters. That means: bye-bye Britons, farewell France, see you America – and all the rest.

    Oh, you’ll just move elsewhere, or buy a boat, you say? Well, let’s face it. Right now, some 90 percent of all people live near the sea. Even one meter of sea level rise would destroy the US east coast and inundate places like the Maldives, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, the Nile Delta and Florida. Make that 80 meters, and virtually all of the world’s major cities drown. There won’t be enough land left for agriculture. And, ironically, there won’t be enough drinking water: most of it will have gone salt.”

    I’ll buy a boat?! Me? Personally? As a result of a 61 m sea level rise?
    Or was it 80 m?

    This is what the general public are bombarded with. People who aren’t scientists, who aren’t looking out for subtleties of hypothetical language and interpretation, who skim through such material and get the strong impression of impending catastrophe. There are people who really do believe in an imminent flood this century as a result of this. I’ve come across gullible people who have been scared silly, kids who have been shown global warming adverts featuring puppies drowning, people asking how to comfort children who have nightmares about dying polar bears and the end of the world.

    And yet, you don’t get those climate scientists or science journalists writing in to complain about this misleading tosh. If asked directly, they will of course agree that it isn’t true (or is at least misleadingly phrased). But otherwise they’ll stand silent and let it do its work.

    And if anybody does stand up to complain about it, they’re branded a ‘denier’, accused of contradicting solid science, and required to present their arguments in the peer-reviewed scientific literature before they can be taken seriously.

    It’s a very neat bait-and-switch.

    But anyway, Chris has already said that “denialist” answers would be ‘fun’ but not useful to him, so I guess all of that is going to get ignored, as usual. Hope it was fun, though.

  42. April Brown

    Not sure if this is representative of the climate change denier crowd (mostly noticed in chats in online games), but I’ve seen a fair bit of an appeal to the eternal wisdom/power of God. That is, there is an appearance of an environmental catastrophy in order to test our faith. Same deal as God planting fossils, to test our belief in creation.

    This appeal to religion goes in two directions. The first, God will use the chaos of climate change to punish the wicked (like in the flood), and the faithful will either be spared, or if not they will go to heaven early so it will be ok. The second is that God will fix global warming with an ice age, to sort of even everything out.

  43. GM

    41. Nullius in Verba Says:
    August 14th, 2010 at 2:17 pm
    #39,
    “For example, the lie that melting glaciers in Greenland and the Antarctic will likely result in catastrophic sea-level rise by mid-century.”
    “Please cite a printed occurrence of this statement, or one closely approximating it, by an “AGW alarmist”.”
    Happy to oblige!
    The most famous example of course is Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth. “So if the ocean gets warmer, it has an impact on it. If this were to go, sea levels worldwide would go up 20 feet. […] If Greenland broke up and melted, or if half of Greenland and half of West Antarctica broke up and melted, this is what would happen to the sea level in Florida.” There follows a series of photoshopped pictures of present day cities and landmarks flooded.
    While he does not specify a timescale, by the examples he gives of impacts and the numbers of people affected, he makes it clear that he is talking about a relatively near future, and rising fast enough to lead to huge numbers of refugees: “Think of the impact of a couple hundred thousand refugees when they are displaced by an environmental event and then imagine the impact of a hundred million or more.”

    1. You specifically said “For example, the lie that melting glaciers in Greenland and the Antarctic will likely result in catastrophic sea-level rise by mid-century.”. So yes, you need to provide an example of someone who claimed a catastrophic sea level rise by 2050.

    2. Gore is a politician not a scientist.

    “That’s why the citizens of these pacific nations had all had to evacuate to New Zealand.”
    Oh, really? When was that?

    They haven’t evacuated yet because sea level hasn’t risen yet that much, but my understanding is that Tuvalu, Kiribati and others are negotiating with Australia and New Zealand about relocation. Not an accurate claim if it is worded exactly like that (which I am not certain it has been)

    We also have James Hansen writing for Environmental Research Letters: “However, as a physicist, I find it almost inconceivable that BAU climate change would not yield a sea level change of the order of meters on the century timescale.”

    Yes, and that’s a completely reasonable claim to make because IPCC projections do not include melting of Greenland and the Antarctic.

    Greenpeace, to their credit, do give the scientific predictions of modest sea level rise, but then ignore all of that to come out with the scary statements again. “Between the Greenland ice sheet and the Western Antarctic ice sheet the world could well be facing a 13 metre (43 foot) rise in sea level if we do not drastically curb our greenhouse gas emissions. Even a small fraction of this much sea level rise would be an economic and humanitarian disaster.” Again, the impacts described make it clear that this is a fast, near-term catastrophic event being envisioned – not an imperceptible creep over thousands of years.

    1. Where exactly are the “near-term catastrophic” words in the above quote?.
    2. It has not been a “imperceptible creep over thousands of years” when ice sheets have melted in the past.
    3. If we commit to multimeter sea level rise, even if it is slow and most of it happens after 2100, this is still a huge problem. A sane person would hope that there will still be humans on this planet after 2100, right?
    4. Even a 2 meter rise by 2100 will be a catastrophe

    The Australian TV science/climate pundit Robyn Williams supported a previously discussed 100 m claim.
    “I ask you, Robyn, 100 metres in the next century…do you really think that?”
    “Robyn Williams: It is possible, yes. The increase of melting that they’ve noticed in Greenland and the amount that we’ve seen from the western part of Antarctica, if those increases of three times the expected rate continue, it will be huge.”

    So now we’re going to take an “TV pundit” and use it to characterize the entire scientific community he doesn’t even belong to? Totally fair and honest approach, just as we have learned to expect from the global warming denial camp

    This is what the general public are bombarded with. People who aren’t scientists, who aren’t looking out for subtleties of hypothetical language and interpretation, who skim through such material and get the strong impression of impending catastrophe. There are people who really do believe in an imminent flood this century as a result of this. I’ve come across gullible people who have been scared silly, kids who have been shown global warming adverts featuring puppies drowning, people asking how to comfort children who have nightmares about dying polar bears and the end of the world.

    That the people are scientifically illiterate and have no interest in actually understanding the science is the fault of the people, not of the scientists. On top of that, of the 7 billion people on the planet, probably at least half haven’t even heard of climate change, and of the rest, most aren’t particularly concerned. The denialists have won. We can hardly speak of a “global climate scare” (and we should be scared, yes) so what exactly are you complainig about?

    And yet, you don’t get those climate scientists or science journalists writing in to complain about this misleading tosh. If asked directly, they will of course agree that it isn’t true (or is at least misleadingly phrased). But otherwise they’ll stand silent and let it do its work.

    And if anybody does stand up to complain about it, they’re branded a ‘denier’, accused of contradicting solid science, and required to present their arguments in the peer-reviewed scientific literature before they can be taken seriously.

    RealClimate has published a number of articles where they do exactly that – point out exaggerations on the side of “very soon and very bad”. And they haven’t been asked to do that.

    And that’s hardly why people get branded as denialists, they deserve that label with their politically and ideologically motivated contempt and distrust for science and with their readiness to shamelessly lie and distort the truth to advance their agenda. On top of that, which is the most scandalous thing, recently they have gotten so bold that they are trying to school the scientific community on what proper scientific practices are. Absolutely disgusting

    All things I have seen from you here, and I’ve seen them in more than sufficient quantities, give me the full right to label you a denialist and you have absolutely no reason to complain

  44. Marion Delgado

    I’m not afraid to say that if you melt the polar ice caps and greenland, we will, indeed have CATASTROPHIC or perhaps BEYOND CATASTROPHIC sea level rise. the statement that we won’t is a ridiculous and evil lie, and there’s no reason to back away from the claim whatsoever.

    Anyone who refuses to say that who knows the science involved (and boy, is it simple in that particular case) is both lying and cowardly.

  45. Nullius in Verba

    GM, sometimes you’re priceless!

    “1. You specifically said […]”

    No I didn’t. ‘Perplexed in Peoria’ did.

    And it’s a ridiculous argument to demand an exact quote when the general sense is well within bounds. For it to be something for us to have to worry about personally implies a 50 year time frame. It’s obvious nit-picking.

    “2. Gore is a politician not a scientist.”

    So? Are you saying that non-scientists should not be allowed to speak on global warming? Or that they should not be believed when they do? Gore is powerful, persuasive, and a strong figurehead, has the support of the international community, politicians, public, and not a few scientists.

    We were asked to “Please cite a printed occurrence of this statement, or one closely approximating it, by an “AGW alarmist”.” Having done so, you now want to disqualify it on the grounds that Gore is a politician? Well, Inhofe is a politician too. So you can’t criticise anything he says, because he’s a politician and not a scientist?

    “They haven’t evacuated yet because sea level hasn’t risen yet that much, but my understanding is that Tuvalu, Kiribati and others are negotiating with Australia and New Zealand about relocation. Not an accurate claim if it is worded exactly like that (which I am not certain it has been)”

    They’re negotiating about compensation. As it happens, people have gone out and looked, and in fact none of the islands are sinking. A number of them are actually growing.

    But I am genuinely impressed to see you acknowledge a point. Thank you.

    “1. Where exactly are the “near-term catastrophic” words in the above quote?.”

    Demanding exact quotes again? When my own use of the phrase wasn’t in quotes, and is adequately supported by “Even a small fraction of this much sea level rise would be an economic and humanitarian disaster”? Tch.

    “2. It has not been a “imperceptible creep over thousands of years” when ice sheets have melted in the past.”

    True! Well done!
    But an imperceptible creep over thousands of years is what the current science is projecting, in the extremely hypothetical case of sustained and massive warming. And the science is what they’re supposed to be relying upon, isn’t it?

    “3. If we commit to multimeter sea level rise, even if it is slow and most of it happens after 2100, this is still a huge problem. A sane person would hope that there will still be humans on this planet after 2100, right?”

    Firstly, no. A slow enough rise would not be a problem. Besides the continuing processes of land formation, populations can easily move without any disruption over periods of many decades. And secondly, I understand there to be people who do support that sort of population reduction, yes.

    “4. Even a 2 meter rise by 2100 will be a catastrophe”

    It would be a serious problem, yes, although probably not catastrophic unless it all happened at once. But it’s very unlikely to happen. More to the point, it is a speculation that goes so far beyond the scientific consensus that not even the IPCC is willing to countenance it. And there’s absolutely no sign of it, or evidence for it. Sea level rise is at most 3 mm a year, and already ten years into the new century is not showing any sign of dramatically speeding up.

    “So now we’re going to take an “TV pundit” and use it to characterize the entire scientific community he doesn’t even belong to?”

    No. Nobody said anything about characterising the scientific community. Nobody said anything about using one view to characterise any entire community. Nobody claimed that he was or represented scientists.

    We were asked “Please cite a printed occurrence of this statement, or one closely approximating it, by an “AGW alarmist”.” I could no more use it as representative of AGW science than you could quote individual non-expert, non-scientific sceptics as being representative of all sceptics. And you wouldn’t do that, would you?

    “That the people are scientifically illiterate and have no interest in actually understanding the science is the fault of the people, not of the scientists.”

    Oh dear. That’s hardly going to endear them to your cause, is it?

    That the people have no interest in understanding is not the fault of the scientists. That some people (not necessarily the scientists) take advantage of that lack of understanding to push unscientific nonsense on them is something that those people bear some moral responsibility for, yes? That scientists are one-sided in their condemnation of it is a fault. That scientists don’t take it upon themselves to serve as the general public’s sceptical eyes is a fault. That scientists fail to explain properly even when people are interested – even to the point of issuing FOIA requests so they can understand how particular results were reached – is beyond a fault.

    “The denialists have won. We can hardly speak of a “global climate scare” (and we should be scared, yes) so what exactly are you complainig about?”

    If only! Unfortunately, having failed to sway public opinion, somewhat less democratic approaches are being called for. All the taxes, permits, regulations, fines are still there. We’ve still got ugly windmills being put up on pristine wilderness, chopping up the wildlife. We’re still paying the subsidies and grants to ‘green’ programmes. I still can’t go into a shop and buy an incandescent light bulb, or put it into a free plastic bag to take home.

    No, we’re not quite ready to celebrate just yet.

    “RealClimate has published a number of articles where they do exactly that”

    Sometimes. If the claim makes AGW look bad by being just too ridiculous. I am sure our complaints that they never do so have stung a little, so they put up a few just to make the point. Well done. But they’re hardly impartial about it, even then.

    “politically and ideologically motivated contempt and distrust for science”

    We don’t distrust science. We distrust scientists. There’s a difference.

    We don’t distrust science. But this isn’t science. This is Argument form Authority wearing science’s clothes; demanding belief and respectful compliance; stealing science’s reputation. Science is sceptical, challenging, open, tolerant of dissent and diversity of opinion. Science never, ever says: “Trust me, I’m an expert.”

    As Richard Feynman once said, “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.”

    “On top of that, which is the most scandalous thing, recently they have gotten so bold that they are trying to school the scientific community on what proper scientific practices are.”

    Because the scientific community has apparently forgotten.

    One of the primary scientific virtues is replicability – you need to make sure that anyone in the scientific community can go back and reproduce a result, see exactly how it was arrived at, check it, correct it if necessary. But the HARRY_READ_ME file illustrated a case where the previously published results could not be replicated, because they relied on undocumented manual inputs, manual adjustments to the input data, complex fixes and adjustments and “labyrinthine” software. It’s not a lone exception, either.

    Any scientist knows that you’re not supposed to work like that. Even the general public know they’re not supposed to work like that. It’s perfectly obvious to anyone who doesn’t have a belief system to protect. Proper scientific practices are an absolute, they are not redefined at the convenience of the scientific community.

    “[…] give me the full right to label you a denialist and you have absolutely no reason to complain”

    I’m not complaining! People see you label me, and then see the relative quality of our arguments, and can come to their own judgement. I find the insults are rather helpful from a rhetorical point of view. Too much like ‘ad hominem abusive’. I’m all in favour of free speech.

  46. Wayne Johnston

    There’s a great list of the top 119 at http://www.skepticalscience.com/ including explanations debunking them.

  47. Sean McCorkle

    Nullius,

    Its not unreasonable to argue that the sea level rise issue is over-hyped, but your examples don’t support your case very well. Most of the numbers you quoted for sea level increase are not _that_ far off from estimates of total melting of the respective ice sheets (100m is probably too high). Anyone with a calculator and access to Wikipedia can estimate them by finding areas, thicknesses etc. of ice sheets, converting them to a volume of water (assuming ice density of .8 or .9 or something) and then spreading that volume out over the Earth’s ocean area. But even if you take a figure of 24ft, there are a lot of heavily populated areas below that threshold. If one lives about 8ft AMSL, squabbling about whether its 100ft or 100m doesn’t seem so important.

    The important issue is how long this would take to happen. Using the mass loss numbers for the Greenland Ice Sheet in in this article, and assuming a worst case scenario, that the measured loss rate is steadily increasing, complete melting of the sheet in a couple of hundred years is not outside the realm of possible outcomes at this point. I’m not claiming it will happen, just that it can’t yet be ruled out. As the data continues to accumulate, we can expect to get a better handle on predictions. Its worth keeping an eye on.

    Far more pressing are nearer-term consequences of warming, such as weather pattern changes – stronger storms and droughts in areas unaccustomed to them, northward & southward migrations of pests & diseases etc.

  48. Susan Anderson

    yup, you need to pay attention to Greenland, Arctic, and WAIS (West Antarctic) ice melt. They are indeed potentially catastrophic, as is the release of methane in the north of Siberia. Though methane “only” lasts about 20 years it is more than enough to function as a tipping point.

    You miss the point if you think that acceleration is a straight line. So many people have criticized the “hockey stick” – which is obvious if you look at the graph – using outliers and weird contexts, but in fact this is a simple parabola which signifies acceleration. That’s the thing we face, and right now we are looking at the future because of a coincidence of weather phenomena – which we all know is temporary but indicative – demonstrating how things are likely to be when the “new normal” takes hold.

  49. Brad H

    33. Nullius in Verba Says:
    August 13th, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    #27,

    Thank you. Yes. That one proves my point even better.

    ——
    Erm, no it doesn’t. It shows a global trend towards less ice. Not an extreme one but certainly the opposite of your point.

  50. ChicagoMike

    7. Nullius in Verba Says:
    August 12th, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    “The ice caps aren’t melting”

    Good one. I noticed you used the plural.

    Did you really mean that, or was it a misverbalisation for “The ice cap isn’t melting”?
    ———-
    Antarctica has been losing land ice mass at an accelerating rate. It’s true that antarctic sea ice has been increasing for complicated reasons despite warming of the southern ocean (offsetting losses of arctic sea ice), but it’s unlikely this will continue indefinitely.

    See here for more:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/antarctica-gaining-ice.htm

    In fact Chris, I think you can take your pick of any of the denier arguments catalogued on Skeptical Science:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

  51. Sean McCorkle

    Susan – point taken. In retrospect, steady acceleration is not a worse case scenario, for all the reasons you say (and likely others too).

  52. Nullius in Verba

    #47. Sean,

    The numbers are reasonably accurate for the sea level rise that would result from a total melt of the icecaps. The inaccuracy is in claiming that they can or will melt.

    The temperature in most of the Antarctic continental interior varies from about -30 C in summer to -60 C in winter. If average temperatures rise 3 C, exactly what effect do you think this will have? And apart from the Antarctic peninsular (which for some reason is the only bit that you see many reports on) Antarctica does not appear to be getting any warmer. More snow falls and accumulates in the interior, which flows down at the edges into the sea. Glaciers are mainly driven by ice mass and gravity, not temperature.

    That Antarctica could melt is inconceivable. The thing that had a few scientists worried was the idea that the ice could somehow slide off the land and into the sea. That’s going to be difficult, because the mass of ice has pushed the land below down into a depression, so it’s sort of sitting in a shallow ‘bowl’. (Greenland is the same.) It is conceivable, although still very unlikely, that bits of it at the margins could fall off – something that would take several centuries of sustained ocean warmth. But the whole lot? No I don’t think so.

    Antarctic ice has survived something like 34 million years in places, Greenland’s 2.5 million. They survived the Holocene climate optimum, when temperatures were several degrees warmer than present for about 3 thousand years. They survived the Eeemian 120 thousand years ago, when Hippopotamus swam in the Rhine and the Thames, forests reached to the North Cape of Norway, and Oak forests grew in Finland. (And yes, sea levels were higher.) They are clearly not going to melt away to nothing in the next fifty, hundred, or even thousand years.

    So why bring it up? Why present the biggest numbers, describe which modern day cities and well-loved landmarks it would flood, how many refugees it would create? Why ask sarcastically if we think we’ll be able to escape it by buying a boat? Because it’s a persuasively scary story to give people the impression that this could happen in their lifetime; that might induce people to do what you tell them to do with a greater sense of urgency. It is very effective.

    I don’t usually talk about it because it isn’t a part of the reputable scientific case – it comes from the polemicists and politicians around the fringes of the debate, which both sides have. I have no intention of defending some of the more idiotic things sceptics say, and I don’t seriously try to hold you to all the things idiot warmists say. I may joke about it from time to time, but I assume that they’re not positions you would want or try to defend. But as this post is more or less on the topic of that lower end of the debate, then the issues of warmist rhetoric for politics, activism and communication are clearly relevant. Do you think, in the long run, that they are helpful to your cause?

    #48. Susan,

    Here is the data. After 1920, does that look like a straight line or a parabola to you? If that carries on for another century, how high will it go?

    The criticism of the Hockeystick is a different question. (Or rather, several different questions.) But in this context of ‘acceleration’, I’ll simply ask whether you know what a stochastic trend is?

    49. Brad,

    It doesn’t show any trend. There is a dip below the line from about 2005 to 2007. (Which was due to unusual winds blowing Arctic pack ice south for a couple of years – definitely weather, not climate.) Apart from that, the variability appears to be random noise. Its current value is about the same as it was at the end of 1979.

    The data is autocorrelated (those stochastic trends again) which can be misleading if you don’t know how autocorrelated randomness behaves. It’s a natural consequence/feature of partially cumulative processes like sea ice. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, please ask. I’d be happy to explain.)

    50. Chicago Mike,

    That’s less than 10 years of data. Yes, the line is currently going down – it does wobble a bit – but that’s mainly due to dynamic mass flow effects (if not measurement error), not “melting”. And if you re-plot those graphs in the context of the total amount of ice there – 30,000,000 km^3 – you’ll see that 500 km^3 is not even going to show up.

  53. Dan Pangburn

    From 2001 through June 2010 the atmospheric CO2 increased by 20% of the total increase from 1800 to 2001 while the average global temperature has not increased significantly and the trend of yearly averages from 2001 through 2009 is down. The El Nino that made early 2010 look a bit warmer than the down trend, peaked in March, 2010 and average global temperature is now declining.

    Research, with latest findings regarding projected temperature trends is reported at http://climaterealists.com/index.php?tid=145&linkbox=true. It presents a rational equation that accurately calculates the average global temperatures since 1895 with a coefficient of determination of 0.88. That means that it explains 88% of the measured temperatures for 114 years and counting. The best that GCMs have done is significantly less than this. The equation predicts that the trend of average global temperatures will be down. The above link and sub links, including links to the temperature data reported by the five reporting agencies, track the data back to the published credible sources.

    As the atmospheric CO2 continues to increase and the average global temperature does not, perhaps the comments of ill-informed people will subside.

  54. Sean McCorkle

    Nullius,

    Arguing that the longevity of the ice sheets through past warming cycles means they will they survive future ones is problematic. For starters, the weather patterns or oceanic conditions that spared Greenland while miles-thick continental ice sheets completely melted (and perhaps persisted long afterwards) may have ended. From mass conservation, accumulation rate minus loss rate (melting & calving) equals total change rate. There was certainly accumulation 8000-6000 years ago because we have those layers; perhaps the snowfall rates were higher back then compared to now.

    Regarding bringing up sea level rise at all: For me its similar to asteroid strikes on Earth. The probabilities are not well known at all, and may indeed be extremely low, but the stakes are high. Therefore it behooves us to better understand the problem. Gravimetric measurements directly address the mass change, bypassing the need to add up all the net losses and gains. I think thats what we should be monitoring from now on.

    Also, exactly how sure are we about the historical holocene temperatures? Is this coming from ice cores? Something I don’t understand about ice core data are the temperature inferences from things like O18/O16 isotope ratios (water containing O18 being easier to condense than O16). It seems like those ratios could reflect evaporation conditions far from the source as well as local conditions of accumulation. Has the ice temperature data been put under as much scrutiny as say, Mann et. al.? Seems like there’s plenty of possible systematic effects to be worried about.

  55. Nullius in Verba

    Sean,

    Good answer! (Seriously.)

    Yes, the melting of the ice age ice sheets over an interval of about 6-10 thousand years as a result of a 10 C increase in average temperature should give one pause for thought as to whether it is consistent with my claims. I’m not sure. Greenland is still frozen, I believe, because of its latitude. But the possibility that there are other reasons, and that they may have changed recently, is one that deserves an answer. I am not sure this is the right place for it, but if you have any ideas, I’d be interested.

    You can get accumulation and loss going on at the same time. Ice accumulates in the middle, spreads out, and is lost at the edges. If the loss at the edges increases, you can get a net loss of total ice, while it is still locally accumulating in the middle (where they drill the longest cores).

    Understanding and monitoring the potential problem is something that I’m fully in agreement with.

    Quite frankly, I don’t think we’re all that sure of any global temperatures prior to 1979, let alone 8,000 years ago. We have spot temperatures from a limited number of locations which are extrapolated to the rest of the world, and the proxies we must use are poorly calibrated as thermometers. If we struggle to do it today, with satellites and a global network, it passes all credibility that we could determine it to a fraction of a degree in the distant past. The evidence is that it was warmer (and not just at the poles), but I wouldn’t like to try to say by how much.

    Yes, d18O ratios are thought to be based on both evaporation and precipitation, and so measure temperature over a wide and perhaps variable area. You could get a change in d18O if the prevailing wind started blowing in from a different direction for example, over water of a different temperature, with no actual temperature changes anywhere at all.

    Ice core reconstructions have been subjected to a fair amount of sceptical scrutiny, too, although not as much as Mann et al. However, the most prominent sceptics working in the area are ones that I personally don’t trust – they’ve made claims that I’ve enquired into and I’m pretty sure are not true. (I do try to give their arguments a fair hearing, though, as and when I come across them.) But apart from a tendency to underplay the unresolvable uncertainty about the output, and some questions about dating, sceptics don’t seem to have as much of an issue with the ice core work as they do with dendroclimatology. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.

  56. Perplexed in Peoria

    GM@38 and Oakden Wolf@39:

    Give me one person with any authority on the subject who has claimed that [sea levels might rise catastrophically by mid-century].

    Well, if someone with authority had claimed it, I wouldn’t be advising Chris to expose it as a lie! :)

    More seriously, that was probably a bad suggestion, and I withdraw it. Still, as Nullius seeks to point out, and as you pretty much admitted, various people, including that guy who received a Nobel, have distorted the truth. Perhaps they did so with good intention. Good intention isn’t enough. Skewer the liars.

  57. zamia

    The worst lie is that scientists don’t think about the sun warming earth. This has many variations, scientists ignore sunspots, Maunder minimum is coming again now, etc., scientists don’t know about solar variation. The more distinguished of the deniers, those with scientific credentials, don’t say baldly that climate people don’t think about the sun as warming the earth. They find some mumbo jumbo to prattle. The most ignorant commenters push the bald assertion that scientist are to stupid to know the sun warms the earth.

    The next worse is that the present heat is due to “natural cycles”. This has many variations, often stuff I have to look up. PDO, MWP, 1500 year, Roman warm spell, blah, blah. A variation that I think the deniers are giving up is that we are now going into a cold cycle. But the natural cycles argument has a lot of traction with the general public, people who have noticed changes in the weather patterns.

    The deniers seem to be shifting gears into denying CAGW =
    Catastrophic AGW. or even Apocalyptic. Okay it isn’t going to be that bad, let’s get used to it. Greenland will melt and a lot of new land will be available for farming (really optimistic nuttiness).

    Then there are the economic arguments. Doing something will break the America economy. Or the global economy. I think the cost of Russia heat/cold going on now should be totaled, and the Pakistan flooding etc. The body count too is at least 10,000 excess deaths due to climate change in the last 3 or 4 weeks.

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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 Salon.com 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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