Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Global warming skeptic gets destroyed

I don't have time to write a real post, so I figured I'd let someone else do the talking. Below, I've copied-and-pasted a thoroughly entertaining and enlightening comment from the climate blog A Few Things Ill Considered, in which the commenter utterly devastates a litany of typical skeptic talking points (denier claims courtesy of a frequent poster who goes by the screen name "Crakar"). It's Comment #110 on this thread.

I really suggest you read it in its entirety, because it's about the best job I've seen eviscerating the "science is politicized and therefore untrustworthy" argument. Reminds me of Salviati vs. Simplicio in Galileo's Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. In the block quote below, the skeptic's arguments are italicized.

I would be prepared to bet all the tea in China that every study I produce that supports my views would be rejected by you in an attempt to support your own views of AGW.

If you keep citing weak, partisan crap like Inhoffe and Singer (see below), you will probably get to keep your tea, especially since your demonstrated history is to cite things you clearly have not even read.
And of course you couldn’t cover that bet, Cracker, which is why you make it so glibly. But that’s ok; I’m American and drinking little tea is part of our legacy of rebellion against the Crown. You Commonwealth folks prize it more than we do.

Note: some of the following text has been copied from an article, an article which expresses my views on the IPCC.
From the very beginning, the IPCC was a political rather than scientific entity, with its leading scientists reflecting the positions of their governments or seeking to induce their governments to adopt the IPCC position. In particular, a small group of activists wrote the all-important Summary for Policymakers (SPM) for each of the four IPCC reports [McKitrick et al. 2007].

You of course lifted this from one of Fred Singer’s reports (he copied and pasted from one to the other so I don’t know which.) The absurdity of this source is manifest. He cites the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine survey (let me know if you want to debate the validity of that joke), includes as a contributor Zbigniew Jaworowski (Lawrence Solomon’s “ice core man”, a quack who has been debunked into orbit), and your good mate Christopher Monckton. Not exactly an all star list of first rate intellects or scientific credentials. (I can’t speak to the others, to be fair.) I am also aware that some claim that Singer’s book, *Unstoppable Global Warming . . .*, has been shredded, but since I have not read either his book or these critiques I would have to take a wait-and-see approach to that. It might have been discussed on the “medieval warm period” thread. You tell me, Craker; I honestly don’t know.

While we are often told about the thousands of scientists on whose work the Assessment reports are based, the vast majority of these scientists have no direct influence on the conclusions expressed by the IPCC.

False. Their *research* is the underpinning of the summaries.

Those [reports] are produced by an inner core of scientists, and the SPMs are revised and agreed to, line-by-line, by representatives of member governments. This obviously is not how real scientific research is reviewed and published.

We’ve been through this. The IPCC report is not “research”. It’s a *research summary*, the essential conclusions of which are *agreed* to by an overwhelming majority of scientists who specialize in climate science and many of whom contributed to the report. If you understand the process of collaboration and co-authorship you would understand that a small number of report writers is a *practicality*, not a cover-up.

The IPCC’s FAR 1990 reported without much analysis claimed that temp changes were “broadly consistent” with GH models, it arrived at a climate sensitivity of 1.5 to 4.5C
The IPCC’s SAR 1996, Its SPM contained the memorable conclusion, “the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.” The SAR was heavily criticized,

Of course. Some people don’t want to believe it.

point 2 was supposed to highlight the hypocrisy of Al Gore. We had a prime minister some years back that owned shares in a pig farm, this particular pig farm benefitted from a change in gov policy and the PM was forced to sell his shares or resign. If PM Rudd stood ready to earn squillions from CO2 taxes via personal interests he would be drummed out of office because he would have a conflict of interest. As Al Gore stands to earn squillions from the very threat that he warns us about, people may be excused for thinking he has an ulterior motive. As per point 1 Skip you can disagree if that is your want but it does mean you are right and I am wrong.

Narratives at full throttle: “One of ‘your’ guys is bad. This (somehow) proves I’m right.” I don’t actively agree or disagree. I am indifferent. If Al Gore snorts cocaine while listening to death metal and engaging in sexual congress with barnyard animals it *has no bearing on our disagreement*. This is a total red herring, Craker.

In regards to unintended consequences, if you believe wholeheartedly in the IPCC and its associated apocalyptic scenarios

I don’t “believe” in them as certainties, Craker, and neither does the IPCC. They are prospective *threats*--possibilities, risks against which we should prudently hedge, especially since the supposed “costs” associated with said hedging are also associated with collateral benefits. I’ve said this again and again; you just ignore me (see below).
\ then maybe you will accept the case for drastic times calls for drastic measures, I on the other hand are not like you.

Set up a straw man and start torching, Craker. Translation of the above: “Now that I’ve established that you believe something ridiculous ‘wholeheartedly’, allow me to contrast my practical minded self with your silliness.” Its extremely important for you to believe that I support cloud seeding (or that my position requires me to, were I only clever enough to see it), isn’t it Craker? Keep that narrative cranking, baby. I’ve told you I really don’t know enough about it (I’ve only read a couple of articles and they focused on the politics and philosophy of it) and that my proposals for acting on climate change are far simpler (tweak the incentives to reward reduced use and investment in alternatives—but this is for another thread.)

I have seen the results of poorly planned and thought out actions of well meaning scientific bodies (cane toads etc) I am sure you can share some examples from your country

[and so on about the folly of environmental tinkering].
Granted. But this is the same lame guilt-by-association. And you’re off on a soliloquy launched by nothing but your repeated refusal to accept what I say at face value: *I’m not supporting proactive environmental manipulation.* In fact, I’m supporting the reverse.

To wit:
. . . [after listing off several examples of human’s dicking up the environment through ill considered efforts at conscious manipulation] So we now have a ticking time bomb in our midst’s, unintended consequences Skip.

I agree that’s both very possible and very bad. And *human carbon emissions* might *also* be one of those, Craker! The only difference between the human activity of raising the CO2 levels in the atmosphere and these failed experiments you mention is that our emissions were never intended for any environmental or other benefit. They were strictly for our convenience. If you can see the folly of unintended consequences for these other programs (which were localized), how is it that AGW—a potential worldwide phenomenon—escapes the same scrutiny for potential damage? Its because of narratives, Craker. You don’t *want* to see it (my attribution).

3, Consensus, what is it? Well it is a group of people that agree with each other. Nothing more nothing less, if there is a consensus does this mean we automatically assume they are right? Of course not, science is not done by a show of hands is it. History is littered with incorrect consensus, so lets not confuse scientific fact with appeal to authority ok.

When you travel on aircraft, drive a car, live in a code-approved home, or accept modern medical care, you are taking your chances with a scientific, peer reviewed consensus. And that’s what I’m doing, Craker, when I say we need to hedge against risk and act to prevent the potential long term damage of AGW. This is a recurring theme in my experience with debating deniers: Any element of uncertainty (which is unavoidable in science) is interpreted as an excuse for inaction. Your above logic amounts to, “We can’t be sure AGW fears are founded [and I agree we can’t, strictly speaking], so we should assume they are *not*. Fire up the Hummer.”

Also you asked for quotes and I gave them, now you say they are no good. Toll says IPCC alarmism is preposterous and a small warming would be OK (less deaths in Germany etc).But this is no good now, now you change the rules,

Wrong. You were claiming that your link proved your outrageous claim that, “"one by one self respecting scientists are turning away from the AGW theory and declaring themselves as sceptics."

I showed simply that it does nothing of the sort. The ham-handed quote of Tol (who does *not* support Inhofe’s position on the AGW position or how policy should handle it) was an example of this. It is you who has changed the goalposts, now changing your claim about the link to it contains experts “who all spoke poorly of the IPCC.” (whatever exactly that means, and in any event its not the same thing, Craker. Beating me to the punch on the *accusation* of goal moving does not change the fact that it was you who sucked it in closer to yourself when I caught you red-handed "dogma propping" (more on this below.

you ridicule meteorologists in post # 77
Not with regards to meteorology, but I question their relative credibility in commenting on climate issues, yes.
but in post #42 you use them to prop up your own views.

Wrong. I only pointed out the survey results for their field because in my experience deniers lean heavily on sources from that specialty. They are not mentioned to support *my* views, but only to show that on average they do *not* support yours. The 97 percent figure for climate scientists was the money finding.

I do find it hard to follow your train of thought sometimes Skip.

You would have a fun conversation with my wife.

I counted 28 IPCC employed scientists that spoke poorly of the IPCC, 10 from Never A Straight Answer and 4 from NOAA plus a host of other scientists etc who all spoke poorly of the IPCC. No, someone did not use the exact phrase “AGW is a crock of shit”

Nor had anyone who has studied climate science from that list " turn[ed] away from the AGW theory and declar[ed] themselves as [a] sceptic . . ."

you were looking for, granted but I believe my point is made.

The new or the old one?

By the way there is no such thing as a Climate scientist,

I think we’re getting closer to the key issue here. Convince yourself of this and you can believe (or disbelieve) just about anything, I can imagine. Its like saying there are no “medical researchers”, “aerospace engineers”, “design engineers”, or anything else where we have a vested interest in learning about the biological and physical worlds because, after all, all of them, like climate studies, “cover many fields and there is not one person in the world that could profess to be a master of them all.”

Also you may have got a little confused (my fault) “Also i would like to add, this link as a demonstration to both you and Eric that the masses are made to accept the AGW propoganda, a statement which you have both have lambasted me for making.—Craker”
This was referenced to the link showing Antarctic sea ice. I wanted your thoughts as to why the masses are only told about melting ice and not freezing ice.

I confess not to understand the science of this at a technical level. However, a sophisticated understanding of AGW recognizes that its effects are non-linear. If increased precipitation from AGW causes increases in Antarctic ice, then that’s the way it is. This is no more impressive than pointing out that some glaciers are increasing their ice mass, because you would not expect such glacial declines to be linear. But save this for another thread; I’m not your man on this issue, I admit. But your use of this as a silver bullet looks like blatant cherry picking of anything that comforts your narrative.

To finish off (did I cover everything Skip?)

See below.

So in summary, You believe in the IPCC conclusions.

Well, I think we should act on them, yes.

whereas I reject some aspects of it.

Which aspects do you not reject?

You believe in the computer model predictions out to 2100 whereas I reject it due to our lack of understanding of the climatic processes.

I am willing to act on those models to hedge against risk.

You believe and take refuge in the comfort of the consensus

We’re homing in on the core of this narrative interpretation on which you appear to lean so heavily. I have repeatedly explained in a manner that continues to apparently confound you that I do *not* take comfort in the consensus. It seems very, very difficult, Craker, for you to conceive of someone being convinced of something for reasons other than they *want* it to be true. I have a fairly strong hunch as to why.

I will repeat my real “narrative” for you benefit:

“*Based on the results of a scientific process and its *overwhelming* consensus, we believe that AGW is real, and very possibly dangerous enough to merit actions that are socially and economically tolerable--and undeniably beneficial in other ways.*”

Only one of three things could be going on here, Craker:

(1) I’m lying about my narrative. I’m just *pretending* to be worried about long term AGW, and really the thought of AGW destruction and/or socialistic oppression to address it gives me a big, fat Woodrow, and this conditions me to ignore excellent evidence that it is wrong, or

(2) I’m telling the truth about myself but I’m *deceived*. I’m an automaton who just dumbly “accept[s] the AGW propaganda” and who “believe[s] [my] politicians past and present will to the best of their ability make decisions with [my] best interests at heart regardless of their conflict of interests . . .” Along with the other drones, I do this to the detriment of prosperity, freedom, etc., or

(3) I’m telling the truth about myself—AGW and deniers’ apparent obstinacy about it is distressing to me, and thus I have *no reason* to block out information that would relieve me of this fear. As a result, when I reject the likes of Singer, Monckton, etc., it is because I think *they’re full of shit*, Craker. I would *rather* believe them, but I can’t. I have investigated the issue and I know the overwhelming reasons to fear AGW.

I understand that from halfway around the world you can’t know for sure, of course, which of these is true. But what makes more sense? Have you done *anything* even approaching what I have done to give the denier side a fair chance? Have you done anything like read three books picked by the other side and explained in detail why they are wrong? (My 46 page essay is at your disposal.) My guess, Craker, is that you have not. My perception is that you troll the net looking for things that you think confirm what you hope is true, regardless of their credibility, as this recent Inhofe debacle shows. You’re fishing for “proofs”—for confirmations of your narrative. I call the process “dogma propping”: “Here’s someone who says I’m right. Maybe I don’t really know what it says, but it proves me right.” And the by the way, this is in purist conformity to experiences I’ve had with other debates with deniers. The last guy once tried to send me a link with the *caveat* that he wasn’t even endorsing it. It’s a concession: “My proof is somewhere—maybe here; maybe not—I’m not saying either way. But read it just in case it proves me right.”

Whereas I realize a consensus means nothing when searching for scientific truth.

Then, to put WAG’s point another way: Give me an example of what means “something”. A key problem you must confront at some point, Craker, is that AGW is either true and dangerous or its not. When deciding whether to act on it, what do we have to go on *other* than the scientific consensus? You’ve got to take your chances with something, and I’ll throw my chips in with the IPCC. You prefer Monckton and Singer, and it looks like you prefer them simply because they say what you want to hear.

You believe your politicians past and present will to the best of their ability make decisions with your best interests at heart regardless of their conflict of interests whereas I reject this notion completely.

Straw man. You have every opportunity to ask me my opinion of the role of government and the potential pitfalls of engaging it (or not) to solve social/political/environmental problems, but you’re not interested in that. You want to *tell* me what I think. Why? It looks like you need to believe what you wrote above because, again *it fits your narrative*.

You believe in the AGW theory and are not prepared to consider any other option regardless of the implications

I just considered another option: The possibility that your link to Ihofe’s list was proof that, “"one by one self respecting scientists are turning away from the AGW theory and declaring themselves as sceptics." You were just blatantly fishing and hopoing at that point. Since you didn’t deliver, yes, I am still stuck for now with my trust in the scientific consensus.

whereas I reject the theory of AGW based on a lack of evidence, if such evidence does comes to light then I will reconsider my position.

What evidence would that be for a bloke who says “a consensus means nothing when searching for scientific truth”? What would it take, Craker—a lunar billboard with a sign from God? An epiphany a la Homer Simpson? (“Spider pig . . . Spider pig . . . does whatever a spider pig does . . p. )Forty days of fasting and prayer? You tell us you’re unimpressed with a consensus even as you tell us all you need is evidence. If it is true that climate studies “cover many fields and there is not one person in the world that could profess to be a master of them all,” then as laymen we have to rely on secondhand sources in formulating our view. If not a consensus of them, then what? What would it take, Craker?

Skip you can break all this down into a simple Freudian exercise if you want but the above facts will not change for you. I on the other hand not constrained by preconceived beliefs have the ability to change my point of view.

Borderline hilarious. I repeat my questions from above.

The best example that immediately springs to mind is the missing hot spot, the mere fact that the hot spot does not exist clearly falsifies the theory of AGW, if the hot spot suddenly appeared for all to see then I would seriously consider the theory of AGW to be very robust and highly plausible.

I don’t know what this issue is but if there’s a thread on AFTIC point it out to me.

You and all of the dart throwers here do not care that the hotspot is missing, you yawn and wave your hand nonchalantly and then point to Arctic sea ice, sea level rise or show photos of polar bears.
You reject studies that do not conform to your beliefs not by any scientific measure but by simply labeling the author as a nutjob and a liar, thus shielding your belief system from the real world because that’s where you feel most comfortable.

Or in your case, if the document does not support your claim.

And yes by all means if you ever come to Australia we will have a beer, by the way there is an ITC conference in Las Vegas soon and yes I am trying my hardest to be there, unfortunately it’s the really big bosses turn to go so maybe next time I can make it.

You’re nowhere near me and I hate Vegas, but have a safe trip and violate a copyright for me.


Its revealing that you see the debate simply in terms of who can sway the mob to their side. AGW is either true or it is not. Whether the BBC is doing an about-face has nothing to do with it.

As if that were not enough, over the weekend, the Sunday Times, hitherto a climate change cheerleader second only to the Guardian in its enthusiasm for carbon propaganda, devoted a whole section of the newspaper to a major analysis advising people that everything they have been told about global warming is wrong.



Posted by: skip | October 19, 2009 2:50 PM


  1. Thanks for highlighting that one WAG, I have not had time to keep up and skipped most of it when I first saw it.

    I agree, very well argued and written!

  2. I imagine there's no time for you to read all 120 or so comments. Crakar and Snowman are prolific - they must have big copy-and-paste keys :)