I Was Teenage Warming-Denying Werewolf

Update:  My post on breaking news about downward revisions to US temperature numbers is here.

Well, I finally read Newsweek's long ad hominem attack on climate skeptics in the recent issue.  It is basically yet another take on the global-warming-skeptics-are-all-funded-by-Exxon meme.  The authors breathlessly "follow the money to show how certain scientists have taken as much as $10,000 (gasp) from fossil-fuel related companies to publish skeptical work.  Further, despite years of hand-wringing about using emotionally charged words like "terrorist" in their news articles, Newsweek happily latches onto "denier" as a label for skeptics, a word chosen to parallel the term "Holocaust denier" -- nope, no emotional content there.

I'm not even going to get into it again, except to make the same observation I have made in the past:  Arguing that the global warming debate is "tainted" by money from skeptics is like saying the 2008 presidential election is tainted by Mike Gravel's spending.  Money from skeptics is so trivial, by orders of magnitude, compared to spending by catastrophic warming believers that it is absolutely amazing folks like Newsweek could feel so threatened by it.  In my Layman's Guide To Man-Made Global Warming Skepticism, I estimated skeptics were being outspent 1000:1.  I have no way to check his figures, but Senator Inhofe's office estimated skeptics were being outspent $50 billion to 19 million, which is about the same order of magnitude as my estimate.

Given this skew in spending, and the fact that most of the major media accepts catastrophic man-made  global warming as a given, this was incredible:

Look for the next round of debate to center on what Americans are
willing to pay and do to stave off the worst of global warming. So far
the answer seems to be, not much. The NEWSWEEK Poll finds less than half in favor of requiring high-mileage cars or energy-efficient appliances and buildings....

Although the figure is less than in earlier polls, A new NEWSWEEK Poll finds that the influence of the denial machine remains strong.39
percent of those asked say there is "a lot of disagreement among
climate scientists" on the basic question of whether the planet is
warming; 42 percent say there is a lot of disagreement that human
activities are a major cause of global warming. Only 46 percent say the
greenhouse effect is being felt today.

It has to be the "denial machine" at fault, right?  I can't possibly be because Americans think for themselves, or that they tend to reject micro-managing government regulations.  The author sounds so much like an exasperated parent "I kept telling my kids what's good for them and they just don't listen."

Yes, I could easily turn the tables here, and talk about the financial incentives in academia for producing headlines-grabbing results, or discuss the political motivations behind Marxist groups who have latched onto man-made global warming for their own ends.  But this does not really solve the interesting science questions, and ignores the fact that many catastrophic climate change believers are well meaning and thoughtful, just as many skeptics are.  The article did not even take the opportunity to thoughtfully discuss the range of skeptic's positions.  Some reject warming entirely, while others, like myself, recognize the impact man can have on climate, but see man's impact being well below catastrophic levels (explained here in 60 seconds).  Anyway, I don't have the energy to fisk it piece by piece, but Noel Sheppard does.

For those of you who are interested, I have a follow-up post on the science itself, which is so much more interesting that this garbage.  I use as a starting point the Newsweek author's throwaway statement that she felt required no proof, "The frequency of Atlantic hurricanes has already doubled in the last century."  (Hint:  the answer turns out to be closer to +5% than +100%)


  1. Larry Sheldon:

    In the geekosphere (where you might think they would be bright enough to know better) I usually am challenged that I am obviously a "holocaust^Wglobal warming denier".

    If you are not a decrepit old fart (as I am) you might not recognize that as the equivalent if using a strike-through found for the word "holocaust".

    The sad thing to me is that few people (on either side of the debate) seem to be able to see the disconnect between "climate change" and "man-caused".

    It seems to me that the climate changes here in the Midwest over time caused by (or at least perfectly correlated with) the expansion of cultivation are well documented and have been for a hundred years or more.

    The results of the destruction of rain forests at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro seem pretty well correlated with the loss of ice ont the top of the mountain.

    But what the Gores of the current debacle seem most interested in is mostly the prevention of further development of the "underdeveloped" (a term worthy of some serious refutation, but that is for another rant) in a clear "I got mine, but let's close the gates to keep anybody else out" program.

  2. JG:

    So how much do you make from ExxonMobil? ;)

    Al Gore: "There has been an organized campaign, financed to the tune of about $10 million a year from some of the largest carbon polluters, to create the impression that there is disagreement in the scientific community," Gore said at a forum in Singapore. "In actuality, there is very little disagreement."

    "This is one of the strongest of scientific consensus views in the history of science," Gore said. "We live in a world where what used to be called propaganda now has a major role to play in shaping public opinion."

  3. geo rip:

    Where I come from "Safety First" is the motto...I don't get it that deniers seem to want to ignore the scientific consensus and rush the world willy nilly towards an apparent disaster, and let's not pretend the melting of the icecaps would be no disaster. And all that in the name of freedom and greater profits, as if there are no profits to be possible in the great work of inventing our way out of the creation of greater and greater problems. So instead of planning for a future of shortages we need bigger and bigger vehicles consumming more and more as we race towards..what?

  4. bob:

    geo rip : you typify the garbled thinking of your ilk. I don't know where to begin. What has Safety First got to do with this? There is no scientific consensus. Why Willy Nilly? What apparent disaster? The melting of the icecaps? What the heck? The predicted sea level water rise is tiny. Unless you believe the cranks. Didn't you read Coyote's stuff?

    Greater profits : so that's where you are coming from. Pathetic as I bet you are benefiting greatly from the capitalistic machine you so loathe. You are pathetic.

  5. Jim Howe:

    I consider myself a skeptic about AGW, but I'm willing to listen to arguments from either side. However, I often times feel that I'm not getting the straight story from pro AGW individuals and groups. The fact that they personally attack skeptics and label them as 'deniers' rather than simply addressing their arguments in a reasonable way makes me feel they have something to hide. Their tendency to spout worst case scenarios rather than most likely scenarios also makes me feel that their intent is to scare rather than inform. Finally, the fact that they will make claims which are obviously not supported by the data (hurricanes doubling in the latter half of the 20th century, more tornadoes, etc.) make me wonder what other "facts" they are fudging on.

    Skeptics, regardless of who paid them, serve a useful role in ensuring that errors, unintentional or otherwise, get identified and hopefully corrected. Science only advances when people challenge current assumptions. My feeling is that those who fear and demonize skeptics must not feel very comfortable about their science.

  6. Paul L.:

    "There has been an organized campaign, financed to the tune of about $10 million a year"
    So Mr Gore and JG, how much did it cost to produce and market An Inconvenient Truth?
    I am guessing alot more is spent promoting Global Warming.