The War on Climate Science Heats Up

The War on Climate Science Heats UpRe: the meme to the left here, Senior Energy Analyst Glenn Doty notes: It hasn’t been 97% for over a decade… it’s now ~99%.  The only “skeptics” left in the denialist camp all receive heavy funding from fossil fuel companies, or are retired partisan blowhards who have made no effort to inform themselves on the subject for many, many years.

And just when you thought the Trump administration couldn’t get any more malevolent against the environment, William Happer, the frontrunner for the role of science adviser to Donald Trump describes climate scientists to the Guardian thusly: “There’s a whole area of climate so-called science that is really more like a cult. It’s like Hare Krishna or something like that. They’re glassy-eyed and they chant. It will potentially harm the image of all science.”

According to that paper: Trump has previously described global warming as “very expensive … bullshit” and has signaled a continued hardline stance since taking power. He has nominated the former Texas governor Rick Perry, a staunch climate sceptic, as secretary of energy and hopes to put the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the leadership of Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general, who has been one of the agency’s most hostile critics.

It’s hard to know what’s more outrageous: impugning the integrity and intellectual acumen of tens of thousands of our top scientists, or wantonly destroying our planet with the denial of hard science.  I guess it’s a toss-up.

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16 comments on “The War on Climate Science Heats Up
  1. Breath on the Wind says:

    Even if Trump were to somehow leave office and Pence were to assume the role of climate science is not likely to change. I think the 1% that favor the fossil fuel agenda may be quite happy with the current political confusion and discussion. It takes attention away from pipelines now having a green light, stripping the EPA and other regulations that would limit fossil fuels.

  2. marcopolo says:

    Craig,

    Let’s get something accurate from the start, shall we?

    Neither Glenn Doty, nor the Guardian could be termed as analysts!

    Advocates yes, analysts definitely not.

    To be an analyst it’s essential to remain objective, unbiased, consider all available information, discarding mere propaganda, urban myths and hyperbole. Analysts must painstakingly track origins, methodology and test the validity of every quote and assertion, not just rely on popular jargon, slogans and guesswork.

    No analyst would write such an emotive opinion as:

    “It hasn’t been 97% for over a decade… it’s now ~99%. The only “skeptics” left in the denialist camp all receive heavy funding from fossil fuel companies, or are retired partisan blowhards who have made no effort to inform themselves on the subject for many, many years”.

    This is purely emotive rubbish. There’s simply no factual basis for such assertions.

    But I guess if you need to advance an agenda based on largely fantasy, it helps to start with a deliberate falsehood followed by prejudice and ideological dogma.

    For over 30 years I’ve earned some small measure of success as an an analyst, however when I contribute to forums such as this, I’m simply an observer expressing my opinion. As such I can afford to use terms and emotive language which I would regard unprofessional when writing as an analyst.

    What really puzzles me is your rabid attack on the President’s observations.

    You think I’m being unfair ? Let’s see what he said, and what you allege he said.

    Trump : “There’s a whole area of climate so-called science that is really more like a cult. It’s like Hare Krishna or something like that. They’re glassy-eyed and they chant. It will potentially harm the image of all science.”

    Craig : (paraphase)”Trump is outrageously impugning the integrity and intellectual acumen of tens of thousands of our top scientists.

    Er, WTF ? How on earth did you derive your response from the Presidents remark, except by wishful thinking ?

    The President was obviously referring to the vast array of bat-shit crazy “green’ advocates who mostly lack any real qualifications, and have clearly taken upon themselves to turn a concern for the environment into a weird sort of extremist religious/ideological/ political cult..

    the President is supported in this belief by thousands of outstanding scientists, true environmentalists and the overwhelming majority of public opinion.

    That’s the problem with counter-balancing the kind of rhetoric you’ve employed in this post. I wind up being forced to defend people like Trump.

    You know that the 97% is a blatant distortion, and doesn’t withstand the test of scrutiny. Yet you continue to cite a lie as “evidence” ! Don’t you see how you aid opponents like Trump when you’re caught hypocritically using erroneous material? t

    All Trump has to do is create a doubt and he wins. That’s why advocates like yourself must be absolutely scrupulous and accurate when making claims and allegations.

    He only has to be 5% right to create doubt. You must always be 100% right to remain credible.

    It’s not fair, but you’re the one claiming the moral high ground. It’s just part of human nature to want to see you fall.

    Populists like Trump are not just a danger to extremists, they’re also a danger to moderate environmentalists.

    What’ss becoming evident, is Joe Public has grown bored with climate change, while more and more experts start to discover increasingly complex scenario’s and anomalies. Given the passage of time, greater diversity and dissension is being heard even among formerly united colleagues.

    In response, advocates like Glenn and the Guardian are becoming more shrill and less and less objective. Their belief that if you just rant hard enough it’s possible to win, takes skills they just don’t possess. (Trump’s cornered that market)

    Credibility has never been more important. Losing credibility on Targets like President Trump, is both self-destructive and counter-productive.

    In my opinion, unless you want to end up like so many fringe advocates preaching to an increasingly small group of “true believers”, it’s time to drop the extreme rhetoric, rebuild credibility, regain the respect of the mainstream by talking to them, not at them !

    But, hey what do I know….

    • craigshields says:

      LOL. “Senior Energy Analyst” is Glenn Doty’s profession; it’s what he does for a living. Saying he not in that category is like saying people who fly planes aren’t pilots. It really doesn’t make any more sense than that.

      • marcopolo says:

        Craig,

        Not really, “Senior Energy Analyst” is at best a job description.

        A pilot must have a licence to fly an aircraft. “Senior Energy Analyst”, is only as significant as the value of reputation and the organization he where he’s employed. There’s no restriction on anyone calling themselves a “Senior Energy Analyst”.

        Grand sounding titles, like CEO or Company Director, are pretty meaningless if the company is capitalized at $2 and exist only on paper.

        Again, you would appear to be impressed by style and not substance.

        • craigshields says:

          He’s a key scientist in the company started by his father, Dr. David Doty, an eminent physicist and chemist. It’s called Doty Scientific, leader in NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance), doing a healthy business internationally for more than 30 years.

  3. Breath on the Wind says:

    Marco, despite your claim to a history of being an independently minded “analyst” the ease and gusto with which you seem to slip into the role of advocate is amazing.

    But emotive comments aside, you shared this remark:

    “No analyst would write such an emotive opinion as:

    “It hasn’t been 97% for over a decade… it’s now ~99%. The only “skeptics” left in the denialist camp all receive heavy funding from fossil fuel companies, or are retired partisan blowhards who have made no effort to inform themselves on the subject for many, many years”.

    This is purely emotive rubbish. There’s simply no factual basis for such assertions.”

    If you could struggle into your analysts had for a moment perhaps you could share what is the “factual basis” for saying that there is no factual basis for this assertion. Or was this just an emotive comment from an advocate? If so are you then advocating climate science denial?

    • marcopolo says:

      Breath,

      Sure, although I’ve posted the same information several times before.

      The key to the question is that although this figure is oft quoted, no one seems to bother asking how this figure was originally derived.

      For instance, President Obama tweeted “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.” Not only does Obama sloppily equate “scientists” with “climate scientists, but he adds the word dangerous”.

      The President never troubled to ask the question, “where did the figure of 97% come from?” Like most people he just repeated an accepted assumption.

      What’s even weirder, is the number origin of this 97% !

      One theory is Alex Epstein’s explanation as published in Forbes;

      [http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexepstein/2015/01/06/97-of-climate-scientists-agree-is-100-wrong/2/#3350db0f26d6 ]

      His explanation is more comprehensively covered in an article from the Scientific American.

      [https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-to-determine-the-scientific-consensus-on-global-warming/]

      Basically, the origin of the myth was started by a fairly murky bunch of activists, dishonestly claiming imprimatur from the University of Queensland to publish a very wonky report.

      The report was couched in very authoritative language, (lot’s of important looking graphs). The gist of this report was taken up by the popular press as an authentic academic study. (no one closely examined the methodology).

      The Myth was born !

      When the myth began unraveling, the IPCC decided to bolster the myth by issuing their own “study”. Similar methodology was employed, but using more authentic sounding source material.

      The IPCC figure was 92%.

      But how was hat figure derived ?

      Well, here where it gets kinda crazy. To build authenticity the IPCC turned to a service provided by Reuters that surveys approximately 80% of scientific journals and publications which carry scientific news.

      The authors of the study then took this information and compared it with a prepared list of whom they considered “climate scientists”. (eliminating many skeptic academics, but admitting many advocates with no scientific credentials)).

      Further filtering took place by broadening the definition of “peer” in “peer review”.

      Just to help things along, the study simply added up those articles which favoured some aspect of climate change or global warming and included all under one broad and conveniently vague definition.

      After this process was complete, they simply added up the total number of articles as if the articles were “scientists” and worked out a percentage.

      Bizarre, eh!

      It’s very difficult to determine how much was wilful dishonesty, how much was just incompetence, and how much came from a desire to believe.

      Craig, like President Obama falls into the category of those wanting to believe. ( Craig gets deeply offended if his hero’s are accused of possessing of clay ).

      Naturally, there’s a degree of dishonesty and manipulation. For instance, the much touted advocate and activist, “Professor” Tim Flannery ” encourages members and employees from his organizations,(salaried with taxpayer funds) to support each other by submitting large numbers of pre-prepared articles as “peer reveiw support” . This form of manipulation is not uncommon among advocates and organizations.

      Interesting to note that Professor Tim Flannery’s academic qualification is in paleontology, and he’s only an assistant professor or lecturer at a very second tier institution.

      The authors of the “study’ declined to include articles by the renowned skeptic and highly qualified (PHD’s in Geology, Geophysics, Msc Mining and Engineering, MSc/MPhil in Environmental Change and Management Oxford etc,) tenured Professor Ian Plimer of the University of Adelaide, on the basis he wasn’t a “Climate Scientist . Even more astounding is the author’s inclusion of articles written attacking Dr Plimer, but omitting the original article!

      Following exposure in the Wall Street Journal a number of other authors and institutions rushed to publish their own studies in defense of this myth.

      Each has received favorable press coverage in the popular press, but few bear the test of in-depth scrutiny.

      The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency’s Bart Verheggen claimed to have surveyed 1,868 climate scientists, and concluded a 90% “consensus”. Again the terms of reference and method of gathering information, looked impressive until the detail was examined.

      I watched with amazement as James Powell, executive director of the National Physical Science Consortium, smugly claimed his report also confirmed a 90% consensus . (although his definition was pretty wide).

      What surprised me was no one challenged his assertion of having read and assessed 13,950 in 2013 along with 2,258 peer-reviewed articles in 2012. He claimed only one article one of the 9,136 authors rejected AGW.

      His claim a consensus existed blaming man-made emissions from fossil fuels to be the sole cause of global warming.

      Now, do you see what he did there ?

      He distorted a general agreement that fossil fuel emissions could be a contributing factor in climate change, into a very different conclusion.

      The second point that amazed me, was no one challenged his assertion of how he accumulated his data. Like Craig, most of his audience were impressed by his graphs and confidence.

      No one stopped to ask, hang on a minute, that’s nearly 17,000 articles in two years ?

      If you read and assessed each article, spending 20 minutes per article or 3 per hour, that’s maybe 20 per day, even by just skimming a few, it would take at least 8000 days or 30 years to compile !

      Of course, he didn’t actually read them personally and was simply carried away with his own rhetoric, but examining his “study” reveals errors and assumptions rendering the entire work valueless.

      The organization ” Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting” published a report concluding 67% of scientists agreed human-induced global warming was occurring, with 11% disagreeing and the rest undecided.

      This report has been widely quoted as more accurate, but again it’s finding are very subjective.

      IMHO, it’s fair to conclude that most scientists agree CO2 and other pollutants may have some role in climate change, the extent and what to do about it, are where opinions diverge widely.

      I don’t mind when advocates like Craig enthusiastically preach for a cleaner environment. It doesn’t really matter if what they believe as supporting facts are simply popular myths. Their overall intentions are sincere and beneficial.

      But it annoys me when people with grand sounding titles set themselves up as experts, and misuse the credibility of people like Craig to spout errant nonsense !

  4. Breath on the Wind says:

    That should read “struggle into your analysts hat”

    • marcopolo says:

      Breath,

      I thought my objection was quite clear. My objection is to the use of myths, bad facts and erroneous assertions to support a good cause.

      I don’t see anything in my comment that could be construed as rejecting genuine scientific information of damage to the environment by human generated pollution.

      In fact that’s my whole point ! I’m concerned that fanatics claiming all kinds of extremist nonsense will inevitably damage the credibility of serious scientific information in the public arena.

      Science is either accurate or inaccurate, no matter how passionate the advocate, or how hard people believe, the science won’t change. Unfortunately, peoples faith can be swayed by, well.., preachers who skill of persuasion is emotion, not logic or reason.

      That’s why we must be very critical of ourselves first.

      Am I a skeptic ? Yes, of course ! I’m skeptical of everything, especially skeptics :)

  5. Breath on the Wind says:

    Marco you seemed to go through an aweful lot there, sorry to put you through all of that, perhaps it is part of your advocacy hat.

    What disturbs me most about the figure 92%, 97% or 99% is that it is attempting to support the “argument of authority” a classic fallacy. Now just because the argument is a falacy does not mean it is false, it just means it is not conclusive. And if we are trying to be reasonable people we will not stop at that point to try and resolve our own opinion on the matter.

    So it seems as a lot of people are arguing about something that should not be dispositive. It is the kind of nit picking that I more often expect from someone who is trying to cloud the issue rather than clarify the issue.

    In many ways this reminds me of the argument against calling an electric car a “zero emission vehicle,” a highly accurate term with the exception of possible outgasing from plastics or fabrics used to manufacture the vehicle.

    The problem with these terms is that the minority view feels that their perspective is being crowded out of existence. They just don’t like it.

    But “not liking it” is not the same as it being wrong. You can argue with the 97% but I don’t think you are going to turn it around and make it anywhere close to 50-50 so then what is the point. “I won, the score is 97 to 3” and “I won, the score is 51 to 49” both accurately use the term “I won”

    If a reasonable person says that there is a margin of error and while 97% may not be accurate I don’t think that includes a 50% margin of error.

    As an aside, I would generally consider it a weaker argument to attack the messenger rather than the message. It is also somewhat suspect. There may be a time and place but probably not every post.

  6. marcopolo says:

    Breath,

    I’ve provided a great deal of fairly conclusive evidence to establish that the figure of 97% is not only inaccurate but at best misleading. Misleading because it relies on nebulous suppositions, distortions, and a degree of fraud.

    When a survey doesn’t reflect the views of those surveyed, it should not be cited as being accurate.

    When a self-styled “analyst” knowingly cites inaccurate information to bolster a position of advocacy, he should be called and exposed if he continues.

    Advocates are not messengers, simply relying information, they must accept responsibility for the information they disseminate.

    Like you, it’s the claim of “evidence” or authority to which I object. If Craig or Glenn simply used the term, “most” or even “many”, I have no objection since that’s a matter of opinion not fact.

    Glenn’s statement was intended to convey the impression of a more recently compiled authoritative study evidencing a shift to 99% !

    The implication was that this was the careful product of a “Senior Analyst’ who good be considered as a expert witness, when in reality it’s at best a fantasy, at worst a deliberate falsehood.

    Claiming wishful thinking as fact, is human, but intellectually dishonest.

  7. Breath on the Wind says:

    I have not always agreed with Glenn, and I have not always accepted the opinion of an authority, but the “authority” I referred to above was the subject of a logical argument.

    That is a fundamental principal not a person. I can appreciate your having a problem with someone who stands up and says I am an expert, many do. But a clash of egos is distinct from a logical argument. For the sake of discussion separating the two helps to untie the knot that confounds us with your perspective.

    I tend to think most people are messengers including advocates, but then despite my sometimes too verbose presentation I tend to think of myself more as a listener than a talker, more of a reader than a writer.

  8. marcopolo says:

    Breath,

    I think you do yourself an injustice. I’ve never found your comments overly verbose. On the contrary, you’re usually most succinct.

    Commenting on complex subjects often requires fairly detailed and complex commentary to provide a comprehensive explanation. (and establish you know what you’re talking about).

    If I make a claim, I expect to be able to back it with research. It would most discourteous to any reader to make claims I hadn’t thoroughly researched. It’s not a matter of ego, it a matter of sincerity, which I prize as one of the highest virtues .

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