Friday, July 29, 2011

Inside the strange world of the climate dismissives

George Mason University's biannual survey "Global Warming's Six Americas" makes for a fascinating study of the demographics, the thinking and the mindset of global warming deniers -- a group George Mason tactfully calls the "dismissives," as in those dismissive of the theory of global warming or any threat therefrom.

The first interesting finding is that deniers are losing support, not gaining support, as they are wont to claim at every opportunity. Dismissives have fallen from 16% of the population at their height to 10% of the population. No other group has shifted nearly that dramatically, although even that could be simple noise (the margin of error since 2010 is +/-3 percent).

Deniers, as the anecdotal evidence would suggest, are overwhelmingly on the right. People worried about climate change, in contrast, are a far more diverse group (click to enlarge):

Only 2 percent of dismissives consider themselves Democrats. Twelve percent of the alarmed, in contrast, are Republicans. Only 3% of dismissives consider themselves somewhat or very liberal; but 16% of the alarmed consider themselves conservative or very conservative.

Climate deniers who are conservative are essentially a rounding error -- maybe just people who didn't listen to the question. For all that people tend to regard their own views as the sane middle ground, only 12% of dismissives regarded themselves as middle of the road! (Thirty-eight percent of the "alarmed" thought so.

So. Climate deniers mostly range from the hard right to the far right, but the the reverse is not true. This tends to undermine the "you're biased too" deflection that deniers use when their own right-wing chorus line becomes embarrassing.

EDIT: Sorry for the blurry graphs; I'm trying to learn that screen capture thing. Click on the graphs for a clear picture. Whole report is here.

Idiot comment of the day

A little bit of rubbish, not up to our usual standards for humorous lunacy, but irresistible as psychopathology:

Does anybody besides me find it slightly ironic that Neven would endorse ridicule of a climate-alarmist newspaper article? I guess global warmingists accept them as a proxy for what the science says, until they are proven wrong, and then only risibly so.

Carrick gives us an interesting example of how believers shield themselves from disconfirming evidence. He has a belief -- "global warmingists accept [newspaper articles] as a proxy for what the science says." This belief is directly in conflict with an observed fact (Neven mocks inaccurate "climate-alarmist" journalism.)

The conflict between Carrick's faith-based position and reality does not make him question his faith: instead, he chalks up the incongruity to "iron[y]," and asserts that Neven must only be an exception in special cases (when "they are proven wrong, and then only risibly so.") Carrick has managed to transform a failure of his thinking (Neven acted with integrity and good judgement, while Carrick's faith tells him Neven would do the opposite) into a further moral failure by Neven (Neven wishes he could support the bad science used in the article, but does not dare, because it would obviously discredit him. He is obviously cowardly as well as dishonest!)

Orwell was right: the key to identifying an obedient servant of an ideology is that they have the ability to say that war is peace, wealth is poverty, black is white. Neven failed the test of ideology -- he's able to call bad journalism bad, regardless of the beliefs supported. Carrick passes with flying colors.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My most productive month ever

For a while I was slowing down here, big time, and I thought I might even give this blog up.

I have a demanding job in a field with very little to do with climate science, and it frequently sucks away my energy for long periods of time. When I return, I am always humbled by my three great deficiencies: I am not a climate scientist and have no specialized knowledge in that area; I have no advanced mathematics beyond a year of college calculus and some statistical tools I use in my work; my computer skills are really awful (I'm not being modest; they really are. I'm at the stage of learning how to make graphs in Excel and do a simple screen capture.)

But after almost two years, I keep coming back, because this blog forces me to keep learning, because there are a lot of ideas out there that need to be boiled down to a non-specialist level and communicated in the language of common sense, and, most of all, because I want to stand up and be counted.

This is the problem of our age. Two generations ago, most of the world lived under colonial tyranny in severe poverty. One and a half generations ago, the great powers stood on the brink of nuclear war. One generation ago, one of those great powers had to be peacefully dissolved, even as the liberated nations of the Third World began to climb out of poverty, and began the long process, which continues, of liberating themselves from their homegrown tyrants.

To get here, humanity has had to surmount a number of impossible challenges. It has usually done so hesitantly, partially, and very late. Tyranny, poverty, and the threat of nuclear weapons are still with us, though less threatening than they were.

Now we face our generation's impossible challenge. The growth of our numbers and our wealth and technology have brought us to a point where we have to take the reaction of the natural world to our presence into account. Like a toddler growing up and learning he can't hit whoever he wants, the human species has got to adapt to the fact that we now have the power to permanently alter our world in a way that will make it less able to support life. Our slowness to accept this and may plan for it may bring us to a power where a halting but glorious centuries-long climb to greater wealth, safety, health and freedom slows or reverses itself. Because we have not come so far that we can conjure out of the air food to eat, protection from disease, or dry homes far from danger. We are a great and powerful species but not, as Mark Lynas would have us, the God species. Nature is still our master.

I like people; I want the best for humanity as well as the other species that share this earth. So I raise my voice, weak and reedy as it may be, for reality and against delusion, for reason and against the rationalization of ideological positions and simple greed.

I raise my voice for that. I hope you will too.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Out of the safe zone

The image above is from "Paleoclimate Implications for Human-Made Climate Change" (Hansen and Sato, 2011). It expresses an important reality about climate change: the stated goal of world governments, affirmed at Kyoto and at Copenhagen, of avoiding dangerous anthropomorphic interference in the climate, will not be achieved. In the next fifty years, let alone the next hundred, the world will be warmer than it has been for millions of years. The pace of these changes will outstrip the evolutionary response of animals and plants to warmer temperatures. They will take the world far outside the range of climate which has been experienced by people in the entire history of settled human life.

That is obviously dangerous. And we cannot stop it; not with emissions cuts, not even with geoengineering, which would take many years to get up and running. So what is the decision we are faced with?

It's how fast and how far into a dangerous unknown we want to go. Do you want to walk into the pitch-black rubbish-strewn basement, or do you want to get a running start and take a flying leap? Do you want to see the doctor about what may be a fatal cancer, or wait six months as it grows and spreads?

"Safe" is no longer on the table. But that doesn't mean we should look at the coming crash and hit the gas pedal. Our generation and many generations after us will be dealing with global warming -- best case, the warming will continue for decades, and the consequences like sea level rise and permafrost melting will continue for centuries. But humans are smart, creative, and have a great capacity to adapt. If we start the adaptation now, perhaps this problem will remain within what I hope will remain a growing capacity (economic, scientific, social) to cope with challenges.

Fail to address it, and there is a potential trap for humanity in our future -- a point at which global warming reduces our total adaptive capacity (through economic damage, loss of people and property, and political disruption) causing our adaptive capacity to diminish as the consequences of warming ramp up.

Hurt us a little, and we pay the bill and go on. This is what the economic models of warming assume will happen. Hurt us a lot, though, to the point where economies shrink instead of grow, or waste their resources on wars or coping with population disruption -- and the climate problem becomes relatively larger. People's willingness to forgo the short-term for the long-term -- protecting forests, leaving dirty fuels in the ground, improving energy efficiency -- may vanish as societies panic in the face of environmental disruption.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hell freezes over

An interesting article on carbon sequestration is flagged by Watts. Money quote:

When forest harvest levels fell 82 percent on public forest lands in the years after passage of this act, they became a significant carbon “sink” for the first time in decades, absorbing much more carbon from the atmosphere than they released. At the same time, private forest lands became close to carbon neutral.

Carbon emission or sequestration is a key factor in global warming, and a concept now gaining wider interest is the role of forest lands in helping to address concerns about the greenhouse effect.

When they talk about sequestration "gaining wider interest" it is allusion to some science I have been meaning to blog on for some time, namely, that the importance of plant sequestration is larger than once thought, and has been growing with the help of carbon fertilization, whereas the absorption of carbon dioxide by the oceans, which had received more attention up to this point, is not as dominant a player as once thought, and may be showing signs of fatigue.

Since that post requires an overview of the carbon cycle, carbon fertilization, oceanic circulation and ocean acidification, as well as natural and man-made carbon sequestration, it's going to have to wait a little longer. The bottom line? The original "carbon capture and storage" -- growing plants and leaving them in the ground -- has great potential for reducing net greenhouse gas emissions, but continued warming and the problem of deforestation puts this sink in question.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Idiot comment of the day: homegrown edition

We must be coming up in the world. We have a local winner. I'm so proud:

Anonymous said...

Any real proof that there's any 'real' danger in warming?

Been warming a long time save for a couple of tiny ice cold times that some GW "scientists" tried to DENY, since the last big ice age, still have some ice year round, so to me still have some warming to go. That's how it works, like a pendulum from thousands to millions of years long.

Carbon? Pfft, treat it as a offending or toxic 'pollutant' ? Plants eat this stuff!... whatever but it's not a forcing factor on the climate systems - it's just too puny.

Oh and hate to break the news to you - your golden CO2 egg is easily proven to be ponzi scam as more and more people are able to explain rationally why it's not science, not true and not credible.

Warming is a good thing, I wish we were, instead we are a bit cooler and we're noticing.

Here in Can, already have short summers, we notice, we note the extra harsh winter of late in our extra expensive hydro/heating bills and I personally - hate the cold. Cold kills life more than heat.

Nothing grows on ice, life however sparce exists in deserts.

Anyone not questioning this is being lazy intellectually.
You have to question this or somewhere along the way you were taught not to think logically.

Sad that so many won't have the needed discussions about this 'settled' science approach to begin with.

Settled science on tiny bits and pieces that are just being discovered - considering the subject - earth sciences?

Says who?

You're going to let some group of scientists led by experts like Al Gore - no matter who else they are - say they "know all" there is to "know" about our whole climate systems and can predict the weather outcome in the far future?

What happened to real science?

So what are the fallacies here, and what are the rhetorical strategies used to conceal them?

First, you have a denier who is either bluffing or believes they are scientifically literate -- and is thus a victim of the Dunning-Kruger effect:

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled people make poor decisions and reach erroneous conclusions, but their incompetence denies them the metacognitive ability to appreciate their mistakes. The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their ability as above average, much higher than it actually is, while the highly skilled underrate their own abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority. Actual competence may weaken self-confidence, as competent individuals may falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. As Kruger and Dunning conclude, "the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others" (p. 1127).

CO2 of course, is not "puny" in its effects, the poster has no idea "how it works" but invokes vague "cycles" which they do not understand enough to know that "cycles" are not a explanation for anything, let alone the very un-cyclic response of the climate to anthropogenic interventions.

We have the old denier canard that "CO2 is plant food" and therefore, magically, you can never have too much CO2; CO2 can never cause you a problem. Skeptical Science's takedown is here.

Al Gore, that hoary old bogeyman, is in there too: "You're going to let some group of scientists led by experts like Al Gore - no matter who else they are . . ."

Gore, of course, never claimed to be an expert, and is not "leading" scientists. He did manage to do very successfully, to the tune of $50 million in ticket sales, what many non-scientists have tried to do from the "skeptic" side: he explained the issues in lay terms, persuaded others to share his concerns, and presented a political plan of action. For this, the "skeptics" will never forgive him. Anyone associated with Gore in any way, we are asked to conclude, must be bad and untrustworthy. Which argument might have someone like Anders Behring Breivik nodding along, but is hardly convincing otherwise.

"[They] say they "know all" there is to "know" about our whole climate systems [sic] . . ."

Sometimes I really wish "skeptics" would get in the habit of citing their sources. Who said that? Nobody. We know enough to make some hard choices, we know a lot, in fact, but there's a lot more to know. We will never know everything. We don't know everything about heart disease, or strokes, or cancer, but we know enough to say "You probably shouldn't put that tobacco or its smoke in your mouth or your lungs."

The poster goes to say . . . well, maybe someone can explain to to me:

Here in Can, already have short summers, we notice, we note the extra harsh winter of late in our extra expensive hydro/heating bills and I personally - hate the cold. Cold kills life more than heat.

Nothing grows on ice, life however sparce exists in deserts.

Anyone not questioning this is being lazy intellectually.

Apparently the poster has confused science with alchemy (a common problem in people who know nothing about science yet are persuaded they know far more than all those fancy scientists with their la-dee-da "high school diplomas") and seems to be claiming a mystical connection between heat and life, and cold and darkness and death. Hence, we should welcome global warming. It's climate science according to The Silmarillion.

I, for one, would not want to be thought "lazy intellectually," and I hope the poster and like-minded "skeptics" will return often to entertain us with their wit and insight.

Breaking: Yes, Anders Behring Breivik is the first climate denier mass murderer

His manifesto confirms it:

That's exactly what is happening with the Anthropogenic Global Warming scam; too many people are too demoralised to assess true information about Socialism, Communism, and climate change to allow its use for other agendas on the hands of the useful idiots “the leftists” as former KGB agent Yuri Bezmenov calls them.
Enviro-communism is a new twisted idea of redistribution of wealth through “environmental” policies and the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference 2009 is the perfect manifestation of it. Environmental Justice is the new Social Justice; Climate Debt is the new Redistribution of Wealth, Anthropogenic Global Warming scam is the Communism.

How did he decide that global warming is a "scam"? Three guesses:

Climategate incident – exposing the eco-Marxist scam
On Thursday 19th November 2009 news began to circulate that hacked documents and communications from the University of East Anglia’s Hadley Climate Research Unit (aka CRU) had been published to the internet.
The information revealed how top scientists conspired to falsify data in the face of declining global temperatures in order to prop up the premise that man-made factors are driving climate change.
The documents and emails illustrated how prominent climatologists, affiliated with the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change, embarked on a venomous and coordinated campaign to ostracise climate skeptics and use their influence to keep dissenting reports from appearing in peer-reviewed journals, as well as using cronyism to avoid compliance with Freedom of Information Act requests.
Here follows a compendium of articles and videos on what was quickly dubbed as “ClimateGate”.
The full story:
[3] CLIMATE BOMBSHELL: Hacker leaks thousands of emails showing conspiracy to “hide” the real data on manmade climate change
[4] Climategate: the final nail in the coffin of ‘Anthropogenic Global Warming’?
Hiding the Decline:
[5] Hacked E Mails: Climate Scientists Discuss “Hiding Decline” In Temperatures [6] Mike’s Nature Trick [7] McIntyre: The deleted data from the “Hide the Decline” trick [8] Hide The Decline – Climategate
[9] Bishop Hill’s compendium of CRU email issues

Where did Breivik absorb this poisonous nonsense on his road to mass murder?

Please see Lord Christopher Monckton's speech

Oh. It would seem Monckton matters, even if serious people think he is a clown. Breivik took him seriously enough.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Idiot post of the day contest: WUWT commenter or Anders Behring Breivik? Answer tomorrow!

There are effectively no positions in our national legislature which are not occupied by one or another faction of what has become our permanent institutional perpetually incumbent Boot-On-Your-Neck Party. One faction – the direct descendents of the Federalists – is called “the Republican Party.” The other is the National Socialist Democrat American Party (NSDAP), which gave up all pretense of being “Democratic” when its members in the Congress enacted Obamacare over the enraged opposition of most of their core constituencies in 2010.

In the U.S. Senate, two seats are occupied by nominal “independents,” Bernie Sanders of Vermont (who has always been an avowed and openly declared Socialist), and Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut (who had run as an “independent” in 2006 when the NSDAP had refused to nominate him, and again won the seat he had occupied since the elections of 1988). Both of these “independents” happily caucus with the National Socialists, and vote almost unfailing in support of the “Liberal” fascist agenda.

Post your answer in the comments!


Friday, July 22, 2011

Anders Behring Breivik: The first climate denier mass murderer?

This is all highly speculative and totally unconfirmed, but among the many rumors floating around about the right-wing thug and child-killer Anders Behring Breivik, who murdered some 80 (and counting) Norweigens, it is thought he may be the infamous white supremacist and climate denier "Fjordman":

Anders Behring Breivik has previously driven the blog Fjordman and later for many years been a writer for the anti-Muslim and Zionist bloggers Gates of Vienna and Jihad Watch, under the pseudonym Fjordman.

On July 17, released Anders Behring Breivik a message on Twitter where he writes that “One person with a belief is Equal To The force of 100,000 WHO Have only not raised.”

Fjordman's fanatical right-wing extremism includes some heaping scoops of climate denier. He writes:

After it was revealed that much of the data regarding alleged man-made global warming was deliberately fabricated, which constitutes one of the largest and most expensive anti-scientific frauds in history, most of its Leftist backers continued as if nothing had happened. The fact that they had promoted outright lies and slimed their opponents based on these lies mattered little.

He's also a fan of the looney cosmic ray theories deniers cling to:

Henrik Svensmark and his colleagues carried out a landmark study of cosmic rays and clouds. They demonstrated that such rays could produce small aerosols, the basic building blocks for cloud condensation nuclei. The condensation of clouds affects the energy balance and by extension the temperature on Earth. They received support for these studies from the Danish Carlsberg Foundation, founded by the beer producer which was an early pioneer in scientific brewing.

This is early days . . . we don't know if Anders Behring Breivik is Fjordman, or what he believes. I'll happily update this post tomorrow if the speculation proves to be unfounded. But one has to at least ask: does this mark the day when climate deniers, spurred on by their right-wing propaganda and paranoid fear of anyone on the left, moved from waving nooses in people's faces to actual terrorism, from threatening children to killing children?

UPDATE: Via the Huffington Post:

Norwegian TV2 reports that Breivik belongs to "right-wing circles" in Oslo. Swedish news site Expressen adds that he has been known to write to right-wing forums in Norway, is a self-described nationalist and has also written a number of posts critical of Islam.

Certainly sounds consistent with what we know of Fjordman. And a news site (I think) in Norway reports:

Anders Behring Breivik har, enligt egna uppgifter, tidigare drivit bloggen Fjordman och har senare under många år varit skribent för de antimuslimska och sionistiska bloggarna Gates of Vienna och Jihad Watch under pseudonymen Fjordman.

Anders Behring Breivik, according to own data, previously driven the blog Fjordman and later for many years been a writer for the anti-Muslim and Zionist bloggers Gates of Vienna and Jihad Watch, under the pseudonym Fjordman.

UPDATE: Given the cache of posts by Anders Behring Breivik, now available in English translation here, I doubt he is "Fjordman." He is a self-professed admirer of "Fjordman" and his theories, praising him repeatedly, but unless he is unusually narcissistic, they seem to be different people.

Breivik appears in the documents as a right-winger obsessed with Muslims and "socialists" and "Marxists," much like many climate deniers, but climate change, one way or the other, does not seem to be one of his main preoccupations.

Where Breivik certainly does intersect with the climate denier perspective is in this paranoid hatred of the left, this invocation of the nearly vanished ideology of Marxism as a vital and powerful force guiding anyone not firmly with the consensus of the extreme, racist, xenophobic, anarchist right. These shadows became so real to Breivik that he murdered dozens of the children of members of Norway's mainstream center-left Labor party.

This is something we've seen time and again on denier sites, or anywhere deniers are lightly moderated, including the New York Times Dot Earth blog, the Blackboard, and Climate Etc. Of course it is endemic to sites like WUWT, Climatequotes, Climate Depot and many, many others.

I'll be highlighting some of these comments in the coming days to illustrate the links between this far-right ideology and those who are in denial about global warming. The relationship between this ideology and political violence is now, sadly, only too apparent.

UPDATE: Breivik does claim to be Fjordman, at least by the translation (of his manifesto) I have:

This is actually sound advice and in my view the strategy Western survivalists should follow. When I first started writing as Fjordman I focused on how to “fix the system.” I’ve gradually come to the conclusion that the system cannot be fixed. Not only does it have too many enemies; it also contains too many internal contradictions. If we define the “system” as mass immigration from alien cultures, Globalism, multiculturalism and suppression of free speech in the name of “tolerance,” then this is going to collapse. It’s inevitable.

Current events are confusing! We do know, based on Breivik's manifesto, that he's a climate denier, but whether is is Fjordman is still up in the air. Perhaps Fjordman is a shared handle, and he has sometimes been Fjordman, like a guest blogger, and sometimes not?

If a more definitive answer becomes available I'll post another update. Meanwhile, we have direct evidence from the manifesto as to Breivik's climate denier beliefs.

Idiot comment of the day

Words fail me:

Herman Alexander Pope | July 22, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Reply

NOAA’s Data shows that ice accumulates rapidly during warm times and slowly during cold times. It snows more in Antarctic when the oceans are warm. The NOAA Ice Core data shows that. It snows more in Greenland when the oceans are warm. The NOAA Ice Core data shows that. It snows more in Europe and Asia and North America when the Warm Ocean Currents melt Arctic Sea Ice. For Example, this past Winter and other Winters during the past Decade.

When Oceans are cold, it snows less and ice retreats. When Oceans are warm, it snows more and ice advances. This powerful negative feedback is the Thermostat of Earth. Pay attention to the agreement between Low Arctic Sea Ice Events and severe winters around the Northern Latitudes. Look up these events during the past Decade.

Consensus Climate Scientists leave this powerful negative Albedo feedback effect out of their Theory and Models.

Warm Oceans melt Arctic Sea Ice and cause it to snow more. That is when the oceans drop.

Does anyone look at the Actual Data? Most of the Replies are not about the data. Forecasts are just forecasts, but data is data.

Hot temperatures cause ice to advance -- or should that be hot temperatures Cause the ice to Advance. Yep, it'll be a new ice age soon, the way things are going. Just look at the data:

No, not that data! The data from Greenland!

No, not that data from Greenland! What about Antarctica?

You're better off sticking with the critique the original Alexander Pope gave of people like Herman:

Of all the causes which conspire to blind
Man's erring judgment, and misguide the mind;
What the weak head with strongest bias rules, —
Is pride, the never-failing vice of fools.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Minor myths: most deniers accept that global warming is happening

Here at IT we've given extensive coverage to the "lukewarmers" -- people who believe global warming is occurring, but don't think it poses any near-term threat to people. This view is not supported by the evidence and does not even make much sense logically.

Lately, though, some lukewarmers, especially Judith Curry, have tried to recast the climate denier movement as prominently or exclusively lukewarmist -- to assert that most climate deniers think that the world is warming and humans are contributing to it. Why they want to pretend this is so is not certain, but if, as I've argued, the position of lukewarmism is basically an attempt to maintain the conclusions of climate deniers whilst jettisoning their more loony conspiracy-theorist, anti-science baggage, then the fact that most of the people that have time for them are unreconstructed deniers must be an embarrassment to them. The unfortunately reality for people like Judith Curry, who has legitimate scientific chops but is now far outside her area of knowledge or expertise, saying truly absurd and easily falsified things, is that serious people find her laughable, and laughable people take her seriously.

In reaction, we find her greatly overstating how many of those that praise her actually agree with her:

7. I think everyone in the room agrees that the climate has warmed over the last 50 years, for whatever reason: we saw plots of land atmospheric temperature, marine atmospheric temperature, sea surface temperature, and (from Prof Svensmark) ocean heat content, all with a rising trend.

JC comment: there should be 100% agreement on the sign of the temperature change, although there is some room to debate the actual magnitude of the increase.

Dr Curry has made similar assertions in other posts and comments.

It's not just Curry, of course, but many people, for example commenters at "the Blackboard," who spread this myth:

That being said, the satellite data, which is purported to be the most reliable, does show some warming. Most likely, SOME of that warming can be attributed to CO2, and SOME of the warming that can be attributed to CO2 can be attributed to the fraction of CO2 in the atmosphere which is emitted by humans.

Most skeptics do not actually doubt this. The thing that many skeptics doubt is the idea that the portion of the warming which can be attributed to not merely CO2, but the fraction of CO2 in the atmosphere which humans are directly responsible may not be all that significant.

And another example from the Blackboard:

Please note that most skeptics agree that there is probably a little AGW, but probably not much, so you are not arguing about their being some AGW.

Jay Ambrose's famous effort to invoke Godwin's Law to protect climate deniers took it as a central premise:

The implication of using the word to describe doomsday skeptics is that they have some deep, dark evil motive — probably money — to overlook scientific data piled so high that no one of ordinary intelligence possibly could. It doesn’t seem to bother them that most skeptics agree that the Earth has been getting a little warmer even if they harbor doubts about an apocalypse arriving tomorrow afternoon.

That's the party line; "Those people behind us with the torches and pitchforks? They're as reasonable as we are -- maybe more so." Let's look at some data.

According to George Mason University's brilliant "Six Americas" bi-yearly poll, 10% of Americans are "dismissive" of global warming -- these are your hard-core skeptics. They are the only group polled where more people thought "The US should not reduce it emissions" (46%) than that we should (26%). Among the next most-skeptical group, the "doubtful" (15% of those polled) twelve times as many people thought we should reduce emissions (59%) versus not (5%!) "Dismissives" are the only group to oppose developing sources of clean energy (45% versus 44%), something that the "doubtful" strongly favor (88% for versus 12% against) and the public as a whole favors 91% to 9%.

"Dismissives," then, represent their own group with distinctive opinions; they are the one the rest of us refer to as climate deniers. Is it true they mostly concede the world is warming?


Positive responsive for the statement "Global warming isn't happening":

All responders: 11%
Doubtful: 21%
Dismissive: 60%

Sixty percent of the hardcore deniers think global warming is not happening at all (the rest think humans aren't the primary cause), temperatures are not changing, full stop. The people with the pitchforks are not more reasonable than they seem: I'll be posting more of the amazing findings of the "Six Americas" research anon. But the minor myth that the bulk of deniers have shifted to the lukewarmist position and accept the world is warming, human actions are causing warming, and that "uncertainty" or the cost of mitigation are their primary concerns -- not true, according to the people holding the torches.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Watts hugs Monckton -- by lying through his teeth.

Having been forced, in a humiliating climb-down, to admit that his hesitant foray into peer-reviewed research confirmed, rather than casting doubt on, global warming, Anthony Watts is back to his wheelhouse: dubious assertions and outright lies, spread widely by credulous followers.

It's times like this we miss Ben, whose heroic effort to catalog the logorrheic distortions of WUWT have led, understandably, to many long hiatuses from blogging:

"Lord Monckton wins National Press Club debate on climate"

Posted on July 20, 2011 by Anthony Watts

Love him or hate him, the man can win a debate. Andrew Bolt shares the results of the National Press Club Debate in Australia writing:

No wonder the warmists hate debate

The National Press Club debate’s results:

Lord Monckton – 10

Former Greens adviser Richard Denniss – 1

Journalists – 0.

Wow, sounds impressive. But I have a few questions. Who is voting? Who counted the votes? Why do all the references to Monckton "winning" this debate lead back to Bolt or Watts himself? Truth or fiction?

If you follow the link Watts provides, it leads to a post by the infamously inaccurate Andrew Bolt. Watts has thoughtfully reposted Bolt's entire post, except for the part that identifies the source of Bolt's information:

(Thanks to reader Adam.)

Yes, thank you "Adam." Now the picture is clearer. Somebody sent Andrew Bolt a claim that Monckton won the debate. The national press club hosts debates, but just like an American presidential debate, the host does not declare a winner. So "Adam" either polled random pseudoskeptics, or he just made numbers up. He passes it on to Andrew Bolt, who reports it as truth. Anthony Watts spreads the fiction, now concealing the dodgy unverifiable source. And the ultimate result is this: "monckton wins" and "national press club" gets you 3,550 hits on Google, including:

These links are almost entirely* reposts of the same misleading assertions by Bolt as repeated and amplified by Watts. Yet one can see how these assertions, presented to "skeptics" on denier websites, play into an established narrative and are not likely to be questioned on examined critically, especially when they have passed through several sets of hands already. What we are seeing today is that with the help of gullible partisans, a lie can pass from rumor to a partisan conventional wisdom in a matter of hours, The internet has given new bite to the old saying that "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its boots."

* I did find one actual poll of 218 Australians who watched the debate. They found 49% thought Monckton won, 37% thought Denniss won, and the reminder were unsure. This is a far cry from the 91% - 9% claimed by Watts and Bolt.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Scott Armstrong; liar, fraud, "scientific forecaster"

We haven't checked in in some time on Scott Armstrong's "scientific forecast" that global temperatures will remain unchanged for ten years, or his fake "bet" with Al Gore that no warming will occur. After losing eleven of the twelve months of 2010, something Armstrong avoided talking about by simply declining to update his own site, Armstrong, a professor of marketing who styles himself a "scientific forecaster," started to seem just too pathetic to pick on.

The recent La Nina, however, seems to have roused Armstrong from his self-imposed blog stupor long enough to fake the background of his "challenge":

Armstrong has been counting monthly anomalies as "wins" if they are no warmer than 2008, and "losses" (he rarely talks about these) if they are closer to an inflated trend of 0.3C/decade, which he falsely attributes to Gore.

The "bet" has not gone well for Armstrong. But Armstrong has been busy re-writing history. You will notice to the right on the chart above that Armstrong has deleted the first five months of 2008, presumably to disappear the La Nina-influenced depression in temperatures and hide the fact that counting from January 2008 (when the anomaly was -0.3C in UAH 5.3, compared to +0.32C last month -- hey +0.6C warming in just three and a half years!*), Armstrong has lost every single month of his bogus "bet."

La Nina is over, so it's no surprise that the June UAH anomaly of +0.32C is absent from Armstrong's site. I suppose when you've "disappeared" half a year of temperatures from a three-and-a-half year record, ignoring the present is no big deal.

* This is why serious people use moving averages, or at worst, yearly anomalies, not month-to-month fluctuations, to track global warming. To quote myself: "You could set up this bet in a more honest, evenhanded way which might be semi-valid in terms of shedding light on what is happening with our climate. Needless to say, that's not the process Armstrong came up with, which makes it all the more amusing that he has managed to deal himself a losing hand from a stacked deck."

Monday, July 11, 2011

La Nina officially over

The recent La Nina is officially toast, but we may not see a strong rebound to its opposite, as was the case when the El Nino of 2009 took a whiplash turn for the feminine.

Indeed, some forecasters think we may double dip, falling back into La Nina:

We'll see. I for one would be happy to stay near neutral for a while, given that the solar cycle is also nearing mid-cycle. It could be a rare chance to see some anomalies that may reflect primarily the underlying warming.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sea ice extent -- headed for a record low?

Neven's sharp eyes direct us to a high-pressure system over the Arctic that has shifted the Arctic melt into overdrive:

And as the graph above shows, the result is a race for the record:

2011 decided to forge ahead, leaving 2010 in the dust and even increasing the lead over 2007. This is quite amazing as 2007 had a stunning run of century breaks in this first part of July. I guess I don't have to explain that this means 2011 is currently leading in the race. 2010 is finished for the rest of the month and will fall back quickly. The same goes for 2006, albeit to a lesser extent. 2009 will start to put up a fight towards the end of the month. But right now it's between 2011 and mighty 2007.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

New addition to blog list: Monckon Watch

"The Conversation," a new collaborative effort by several top universities, prominent scientists, and science journalists, has established Monckton watch, a one-stop-shop for the entertaining ravings of our favorite potty peer as his shining star flames out, still pathetically claiming to be a member of the House of Lords and comparing scientists to Nazis.

The swivel-eyed fanatic is one of our favorite idiots to track, so you will find Monckton watch permalinked on the right, where I have established a new list for specific-idiot-tracking blogs.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Dry areas have increased, ctd

Yesterday I pointed to this study, which found:

widespread drying over Africa, East and South Asia, and other areas from 1950 to 2008, and most of this drying is due to recent warming.

It was remiss of me not to translate the scientists' calm invocation of "widespread drying" into human terms. The Economist, always prompt, supplied my lack the day before, reporting on some of that "widespread drying over Africa":

Yet, after the worst drought in 60 years, more than 10m people in the Horn of Africa need emergency food aid. Livestock have been annihilated. Hundreds of thousands of people are streaming into refugee camps in search of help. Malnutrition rates in some areas are five times more severe than the threshold aid agencies use to define a crisis. Many children are already dying of starvation.

The areas most affected by the drought are northern Kenya, south-eastern Ethiopia, southern Somalia and Djibouti. The region’s last two rainy seasons were meagre. Rivers and boreholes are running dry, crops failing, traditional grazing land turning to dust. Up to 60% of cattle and goat herds, the main assets for many of the worst-affected people, have perished, their corpses and skeletons littering the plains.

Keep watching the food:

Soaring world food prices have made matters worse. In Somalia the cost of sorghum, the local staple, has risen 240% since last October. In Kenya the price of maize has tripled. Food hoarding is reportedly aggravating shortages—even where rain has been plentiful.

Bear in mind that humans don't usually respond optimally to crisis:

Soaring world food prices have made matters worse. In Somalia the cost of sorghum, the local staple, has risen 240% since last October. In Kenya the price of maize has tripled. Food hoarding is reportedly aggravating shortages—even where rain has been plentiful.

AGW Observer: World’s dry areas have increased and it’s going to get worse

A piece of research from AGWO's awesome weekly drive-by of new climate papers caught my eye:

Characteristics and trends in various forms of the Palmer Drought Severity Index during 1900–2008 – Dai (2011) “The Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) has been widely used to study aridity changes in modern and past climates. Efforts to address its major problems have led to new variants of the PDSI, such as the self-calibrating PDSI (sc_PDSI) and PDSI using improved formulations for potential evapotranspiration (PE), such as the Penman-Monteith equation (PE_pm) instead of the Thornthwaite equation (PE_th). Here I compare and evaluate four forms of the PDSI, namely, the PDSI with PE_th (PDSI_th) and PE_pm (PDSI_pm) and the sc_PDSI with PE_th (sc_PDSI_th) and PE_pm (sc_PDSI_pm) calculated using available climate data from 1850 to 2008. Our results confirm previous findings that the choice of the PE only has small effects on both the PDSI and sc_PDSI for the 20th century climate, and the self-calibration reduces the value range slightly and makes the sc_PDSI more comparable spatially than the original PDSI. However, the histograms of the sc_PDSI are still non-Gaussian at many locations, and all four forms of the PDSI show similar correlations with observed monthly soil moisture (r = 0.4–0.8) in North America and Eurasia, with historical yearly streamflow data (r = 0.4–0.9) over most of the world’s largest river basins, and with GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellite-observed water storage changes (r = 0.4–0.8) over most land areas. All the four forms of the PDSI show widespread drying over Africa, East and South Asia, and other areas from 1950 to 2008, and most of this drying is due to recent warming. The global percentage of dry areas has increased by about 1.74% (of global land area) per decade from 1950 to 2008. The use of the Penman-Monteith PE and self-calibrating PDSI only slightly reduces the drying trend seen in the original PDSI. The percentages of dry and wet areas over the global land area and six select regions are anticorrelated (r = −0.5 to −0.7), but their long-term trends during the 20th century do not cancel each other, with the trend for the dry area often predominating over that for the wet area, resulting in upward trends during the 20th century for the areas under extreme (i.e., dry or wet) conditions for the global land as a whole (∼1.27% per decade) and the United States, western Europe, Australia, Sahel, East Asia, and southern Africa. The recent drying trends are qualitatively consistent with other analyses and model predictions, which suggest more severe drying in the coming decades.” Dai, A. (2011), J. Geophys. Res., 116, D12115, doi:10.1029/2010JD015541.

This is really happening, folks. We're change the world, forever. We are expanding the borders of the desert. We are growing the tropical zone. We are melting the ice. These changes are coming harder and faster and eventually will reach and pitch when people will look around and say "Can't we unring this bell? Can't we take it back?"

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

PIOMAS plunges to a new record low

The linear decline in Arctic ice volume is looking less and less plausible. It seems likely that what we are facing is an exponential decline in ice volume and, ultimately, in sea ice extent.

Warming in the Arctic will continue to accelerate, as the open water absorbs far more of the incident sunlight than the highly reflective surface of the ice. While this ice is not going to raise the sea level, since it is already floating over the ocean, the loss of this ice and the attendant local warming are accelerating losses from the northern portion of the Greenland ice sheet, which represents 7 meters of sea level rise in total, enough to put the homes of 700 million people under water.

Greenland's melting season last year shattered records. What will 2011 bring?