Monday, January 24, 2011

Minor myth: Russian scientists don't believe in global warming

I came across this meme at The Blackboard recently:

By the looks of the 1970-2010 map, it looks like Russia has warmed by over 1.6, yet we never hear them talking about the warming in Russia.

Strange assertion. As I recall, the Russians were fairly screaming about global warming last summer when half the country was on fire. This particular denialist does not have a firm grasp on reality at the best of times, so I didn't think much of it, but then, further down in the thread, it appears again:

Dave Andrews (Comment#67052) January 24th, 2011 at 2:37 pm

One of the areas that GISS always highlights as a ‘hotspot’ is Siberia.

Why then do Russian scientists seem unimpressed with the evidence for AGW?

There seems to be no basis for this nonsense in fact, as the members of the Russian Academy of Sciences is in agreement with thousands of other scientists around the globe:

“In 2005, the Academies issued a statement emphasising that climate change was occurring and could be attributed mostly to human activities, and calling for efforts to tackle both the causes of climate change and the inevitable consequences of past and unavoidable future emissions. Since then the IPCC has published the Working Group 1 part of the Summary for Policymakers of its fourth assessment report, and further reports are expected later this year from IPCC. Recent research strongly reinforces our previous conclusions.”

This myth may have originated with Yury Izrael, a science adviser to Vladimir Putin who, much like the science advisers of right-wing politicians in the West, feels global warming is no big deal. He is a "lukewarmer" in that he agrees with the scientific consensus that the world will warm significantly by 2100 -- 1.4 to 5.8 degrees, in fact. But, he thinks people will do just fine with that level of warming.

The first instance I can find of denialists attributing particular scientists' views with Russians in general -- "Ruskies call Global Warming Rubbish" -- refers to Habibullah Abdusamatov, who supposedly (we have to remember, Abdusamatov's views are being filtered through journalist, translator, and blogger) thinks that we are at the peak of a natural warming cycle and global cooling will begin in 2012.

The third Russian to make headlines in the denialist blogosphere is Oleg Pokrovsky, who last April, nine months before 2010 became the warmest year on record, projected global cooling. This was, of course, celebrated by WUWT and its commentators, always ready to find a reason to celebrate the like-minded:

H.R. says:
April 23, 2010 at 12:43 pm

If anybody knows cold, it’s the Russians.

As best I know, the Russians don’t have a dog in the AGW fight, other than a strategic interest in how the rest of the world can wreck their economies by taxing carbon, so I think their researchers are probably less likely to be looking for a predetermined outcome.
wws says:
April 23, 2010 at 12:51 pm

What irony! The Russians have embraced empirical scientific standards, while our elites have embraced the scientific standards of Lysenko!

Dave Stephens says:
April 23, 2010 at 1:07 pm

God bless the Russkies! They’ve been saying, “Nyet!” for quite a while now… And the warmistas ignore them at their peril just like they ignore India and China. Consensus? Not on this planet and not on Lenin’s Birth/Earth Day either…
Bill Tuttle says:
April 23, 2010 at 1:15 pm

…an Arctic cold snap that began in 1998…

Buh-buh-but what about the melting muskeg releasing all that methane? And the vanishing ice cap, and polar bears bursting into flames?

Darn pragmatic Rooskies, looking at actual temperatures instead of computer models!

So to sum up, we have three Russian scientists out of many thousands who seem to be "skeptics" as their American counterparts style themselves. Like their American counterparts, they all disagree about what is happening. Yury Izrael thinks warming is happening and will continue to happen, but will not be harmful. Habibullah Abdusamatov thinks warming is happening but is not caused by human activities and will shortly reverse itself (in 2012). Oleg Pokrovsky blames the urban heat island effect for measured warming and promised cooling last year (in 2010). Despite the fact that these scientists are repeating discredited denialist claptrap, despite the fact that they all disagree with one another, denialists stand ready to celebrate them not just as individuals, but as "pragmatic Rooskies" who "know[] cold" and have "embraced empirical scientific standards."

A more parsimonous explanation is that Russia, like America, has its deniers and its lukewarmers. As the members of the National Academy of Sciences have demonstrated, deniers there, like deniers here, are a tiny minority of scientists who do not espouse any single coherent critique and offer no evidence to support their "skepticism." Which is why, denialist fantasy to the contrary, most of those "practical Rooskies" are practical in their agreement with their colleagues all around the world in support of the theory of AGW.

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