Archive for the ‘Denialism’ Category
The Sunday Age – OurSay readers questions on climate change are down to the last two:
- ”THE claim ‘the science is settled’ is plainly false due to the many problems with the AGW [anthropogenic global warming] hypothesis (e.g. global temperatures have not risen since 1998 despite rising CO2 levels; alarmism is based on flawed models that do not reflect empirical measurements.)”
- ”Why is the Australian public asked to swallow the ‘carbon dioxide is a dangerous climate-changing pollution’ crap when science shows no observed relationship between global climate and atmospheric carbon dioxide? There is no physical evidence showing a relationship between temperature and CO2, only computer models which give different answers according to whatever assumption data you put in. But there is a very close relationship between temperature and solar activity … Why, when thousands of respected scientists signed a petition saying they don’t agree there is a problem, are we being forced to give up billions in tax dollars to waste on trying to stop carbon dioxide emissions?”
Robert Manne, Professor of Politics at La Trobe University, authored the latest Quarterly Essay, Bad News: Murdoch’s Australian and the Shaping of the Nation. He thesis is that The Australian has jettisoned the traditional newspaper role of reporter–analyst to become an active participant in federal and state politics. By becoming one of the most powerful political forces in the country, the paper enjoys “power without responsibility”.
The Australian and the rest of the News media stable leapt to the Oz’s defence against that-bully-Manne with a swathe of articles. They repeatedly defended their right to free speech; exclusive to themselves, of course. Chris Mitchell, editor of The Australian and key Manne target:
To paraphrase another high-profile commentator on media, I say to editors at Fairfax and the ABC, don’t publish crap just because it’s written by Rob Manne. Can’t be that hard (HT Mercurius).
Deltoid was mentioned by Manne for his long running The Australians War on Science series and has already summarised the Australian’s response; here’s a more in depth look at the chapter on climate change. Chris Mitchell, the editor since 2002, defends the paper’s stance of climate change, claiming:
The Australian in the past 10 years has published 29 pieces by climate change “deniers” — that is, three a year. In that period it has published thousands of news stories, opinion pieces and editorials on the issue. This paper has accepted man-made climate change since the 1980s.
Two new articles in Physics Today, one open access and the other behind a paywall (you need to be a member of a partner organisation to get access) cover science controversies and communicating the science of climate change.
The open access article, by Stephen Sherwood of the Climate Change Research Centre at UNSW, is excellent (Steve also did a great presentation at Greenhouse 2011 on climate feedbacks). He covers past controversies surrounding Galileo and Copernicus and compares them with climate change. His argument skewers the contention that the Galileo movement puts up of the climate skeptic being the lone holder of true knowledge persecuted by the all-powerful Church of the Holy Global Warming Consensus.
Greenhouse warming today faces an even greater array of bogus counterarguments based on the uninformed interpretation of data from ice cores, erroneous views about natural carbon sources, alleged but unobserved alternative drivers of climate change, naive expectations of the time scales over which models and observations should match, and various forms of statistical chicanery and logical fallacy. Many of the arguments sound reasonable to an inexpert but intelligent layperson. Critics use the alleged ﬂaws to attempt to discredit the entire field.
Debates between mainstream scientists and silver-tongued opponents cannot be won by the side of truth no matter how obvious the fallacies may be to an expert. Incredibly, as recently as the mid-19th century, a highly charismatic figure calling himself “Parallax” devoted two decades of his life to crisscrossing England arguing that Earth was ﬂat. He debated legitimate astronomers—sometimes teams of them—in town-hall-type settings and wowed audiences. For similar reasons, Einstein himself gave up debating his critics early in the 1920s.
This post was precipitated by several stoushes held at Larvatus Prodeo over climate science but reflects more widely on the state of climate science and its public perception in the English-speaking democracies. It’s an issue I’ve been interested in for a number of years because of the attacks on climate science and the need to build better links between science and the risk management of global change. The post title is also the title of Phillip Kitcher’s new book released earlier this month. Kitcher is an English philosopher based at Colombia University and in 2006 won the Prometheus Prize of the US Philosopher’s Association – this book is the result. He has made his case really well.
The main points of this piece are that:
- Society needs to draw from a body of public knowledge in order to be successful. Psychological and cognitive limitations lead to the sum of individual decisions producing suboptimal outcomes.
- Attacks on public knowledge driven by self-interest and opaque values are being made under the cover of free speech and individual freedoms. The evidence used by these attacks is generally untrue, distorted or selective or fails basic tests for scientific proof.
- Science is a values-driven enterprise. Those values need to be made explicit in what Kitcher refers to as well-ordered science.
- Science is secular. Passing certain probative (proof) tests allows it to be shared as knowledge that has claims to objectivity.
- Belief is personal and can also be shared but does not require the same tests (Belief also expresses a set of human needs not necessarily addressed by science).
- Public knowledge in English-speaking democracies has become degraded. Science is vulnerable to vulgar democracy, where under the guise of free speech, any belief can masquerade as knowledge.
- Science also needs to become better ordered, through measures that cover:
- Education – for most students teaching what science does and what its impacts are, rather than how it works (technical), by separating pedagogy into liberal education and technical specialisation. This works on the presumption that most people need to understand the role science plays in society while fewer will become actual scientists.
- Bringing people into the scientific workplace to familiarise them with knowledge goals and probative values and methods of certifying science.
- Avoidance of universal punditry (experts speaking beyond their expertise) and overconfidence in findings in favour of communicating scientific evidence with the appropriate levels of confidence in theory and uncertainties in outcomes.
- A process that steps through claims of consensus, consequences of those claims, ethical exploration of a potential policy framework and an exploration of how current actions can be balanced against future harm. Read the rest of this entry »
Ex Senator and bloke who pretty much wrecked the bilateral approach to climate change policy in Australia, Nick Minchin, has written to The Age saying that he never referred to climate change as a left-wing conspiracy to de-industrialise the Western world. He has referred to the transcript of the Four Corners program broadcast on November 9 2009, where he said:
For 10 years the left internationally have been very successful in exploiting peoples’ innate fears about global warming and climate change to achieve their political ends.
For the extreme left it provides the opportunity to do what they’ve always wanted to do, to sort of de-industrialise the western world. You know the collapse of communism was a disaster for the left, and the, and really they embraced environmentalism as their new religion.
Well, glad we’ve cleared that up. Of course, these statements were widely reported at the time as a conspiracy. Ever the lawyer, Minchin is accurate in that he has never claimed a political conspiracy, which would be the overthrow of a legitimate government, or a civil conspiracy, which would break the law at some present or future time. It does however, paint legitimate science and all the scientific academies of the globe as agents of the extreme left.
Good-oh. When you’re extremely right, I guess you’re extremely right.
Apologies for not posting for the past month. Computer problems were causing driver failures and the BSoD. Eventually a new motherboard was installed but this had to be replaced twice more before things got sorted.
Joseph Romm of Climate Progress had an article on Grist that was reprinted on Climate Spectator, detailing cuts to climate adaptation funding being either planned or implemented by the Republican controlled lower house in the US. Some of them are committee recommendations, others are contained in appropriation bills. Not being totally au fait with US political governance, I’m assuming they all have to get through the Democrat-controlled Senate. Still, they make chilling reading:
NOAA CLIMATE SERVICE: In the Commerce, Justice, and Science committee report, “it is the Committee’s intention that no funds shall be used [PDF] to create a Climate Service at NOAA.”
ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS CLIMATE READINESS: Language in the Energy and Water appropriation committee report offered by Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) prohibits spending on response to climate change in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects, with $4.9 million cut from their budget and transferred to the Spending Reduction Account. Approved by a House vote of 218-191.
AGRICULTURE CLIMATE READINESS: A rider in the Agriculture appropriation (Sec. 755) blocks the Agriculture Department (USDA) from carrying out its Policy Statement on Climate Adaptation. The rider by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) would prevent the USDA from even assessing what impacts climate change might have on farmers, foresters and other landholders. Approved by a House vote of 238-179.
HOMELAND SECURITY CLIMATE READINESS: A provision in the Homeland Security appropriation (H.R. 2017, Sec. 707) offered by Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) prevents the Department of Homeland Security from running its Climate Change Adaptation Task Force. Approved by a House vote of 242-180. Read the rest of this entry »
John Spooner of the Melbourne Age used to be a great cartoonist. He’s done whatever cartoonists do whenever they go emeritus or jump the shark – let his emotional beliefs rule the analytical edge that makes satirical comment. As a result he is drawing rubbish cartoons lampooning facts that he finds offensive. When it comes to climate change, Spooner has lost his mojo.
The last Sunday Age (09/07) contained a Spooner anti-climate science cartoon marking the release of the Clean Energy Package. The content came from a paper recently published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science:
Kaufmann RK, Kauppi H, Mann ML, Stock JH Reconciling anthropogenic climate change with observed temperature 1998-2008. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi:10.1073/pnas.1102467108
Unfortunately his understanding of the paper came from the science denial blogs (wattsupwiththat was straight onto it) so completely misrepresents its findings. Read the rest of this entry »
Via Deltoid, Rosslyn Beeby has followed up in the Canberra Times on threats to climate scientists. As I reported here, a counterpoint article was quickly published in the Daily Telegraph maintaining that all the threats were old and that the claims were made to support the case for a climate price. This misinformation was spread on a number of blogs and resulted in an insulting (to scientists) press release from shadow science minister Sen Sophie Mirabella.
Beeby is quite clear the threats were recent, university security was beefed up in response to those threats and they follow a pattern of meda appearances by individuals or major climate science-related events. She details two particularly disgusting examples to quite innocuous pieces of science communication.
I’ve been following the media treatment of abusive threats made to Australian climate scientists as reported in the Canberra Times on June 4. This story has been picked up by a range of blogs and media that follows environmental issues. Graham Readfearn has reproduced extracts from some of the emails received. The Conversation, an independent source of information, analysis and commentary from the university and research sector (although federally funded) published an op-ed from Clive Hamilton and a news article on June 6. The latter included comment from Professor Margaret Sheil of the Australian Research Council referring to potential long-term effects on research in that new researchers may be put off. It also included details of threats received by Kevin Trenberth, Kiwi researcher who has been along-term resident of the USA. Based at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) he received 19 pages of abusive emails at around the time of the CRU email leaks and continues to receive abusive emails.
On the weekend I wrote about death threats to Australian climate scientists as reported in the Canberra Times, saying:
On blogs maintained under the aegis of media organisations – News Limited, I’m looking at you – this violence is allowed to flourish, albeit in written form. And not as direct threats, which aren’t permitted, but obliquely threatening and thoroughly nasty. This, I believe, gives licence to certain individuals in that “closed room” to take the further step of making direct threats.
Tim Lambert at Deltoid reports it has only taken two days for this to be confirmed by Tim Blair in the Daily Tele (I won’t link). Apparently, satire in the form of climate raps and Tony Martin’s alter ego Michael Munna’s boganising of climate denial is a call to arms:
Well, that’s not the message we got from their climate rap. “Perhaps,” replied reader George Rock, “they shouldn’t call people motherf … ers if they don’t want to fight.”
Yeah, right. That’s ok. The death threats have been coming for several years because those making the threats knew that some time in the future, a few scientists were going to make a gangsta rap video, and Tony Martin was going to take the piss.
And the scaredy-cat scientists are frightened “out of their laboratories” by a few emails, according to Blair. As David Karoly said to the ABC on the weekend, research would continue despite the threats. Clive Hamilton spoke about the cyber bullying campaign over 15 months ago. It’s not the generally abusive ones that matter so much. It’s these:
“Did you want to offer your children to be brutally gang-raped and then horribly tortured before being reminded of their parents’ socialist beliefs and actions?” the email reportedly says.
“Burn in hell. Or in the main street, when the Australian public finally lynches you.”
Yeah, right Tim Blair. Tit for tat. A few (thousand) scientists come up with a theory you and your mates don’t like and well, you can’t be responsible for the consequences, can you?
Update: Clive Hamilton on The Conversation