Year 3, Month 9, Day 9: Silver Bells Mounted On A String…

Hey, gang! Wanna meet an asshole? Here’s the Las Vegas Journal-Review’s Vin Suprynowicz. What a tool:

Too many “are still calling climate change a liberal hoax,” declared U.S. Sen. Harry Reid as he opened his fifth annual National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas on Aug. 7. “They falsely claim scientists are still debating whether carbon pollution is warming the planet.”

“This year alone, the United States has seen unparalleled extreme weather events – events scientists say are exactly what is expected as the Earth’s climate changes. The Midwest is experiencing its most crushing drought in more than half a century – or maybe ever. … Corn crops are withering and livestock are dying. …

“Our nation’s infrastructure is literally falling apart because it wasn’t designed to withstand these conditions,” Sen. Reid continued, just getting warmed up. “Runways are melting, trapping planes. Train tracks are bending, derailing subways. Highways are cracking, buckling and breaking open. … Yet despite having overwhelming evidence and public opinion on our side, deniers still exist, fueled and funded by dirty energy profits. These people aren’t just on the other side of this debate. They’re on the other side of reality.”

Good heavens. And I’ve even left out Harry’s chilling account of the monsoons of Bangladesh. Who ever heard of a monsoon hitting Bangladesh before?

“In the words of one respected climate scientist: ‘This is what global warming looks like,’ ” the senator reported. “Dozens of new reports from scientists around the globe link extreme weather to climate change.”

Responding to this rhetorical version of a Godzilla movie, Norman Rogers, Ph.D. in physics from the University of Hawaii, member of the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society, and senior policy adviser at the Heartland Institute, posted the following Friday:

“The advocates of global warming are beginning to have the classic doomsday cult problem. The Earth hasn’t been warming for 16 years, and that’s starting to get very embarrassing. The first adjustment to the dogma was to stop talking about global warming and start talking about climate change. The latest version of the party line is that we are going to have more extreme weather. The reality is that the weather is not any more variable or extreme than in the past. But with suitable fishing in the data, it is easy to make a case that this or that weather phenomenon has become more extreme.

“The scientist Richard Lindzen has pointed out that the extreme weather theme is inconsistent with the global warmers’ own theories,” Mr. Rogers continues. “The global warmers have long claimed that the poles will warm faster than the tropics. One of their key scary claims is that vast amounts of ice at the poles will melt and raise sea level. So, according to warmer theory, the temperature difference between the poles and the equator will lessen. But it is that very temperature difference that drives weather, particularly extreme weather. … So the warmers’ claims are fundamentally contradictory.”

(facepalm). Sent September 2, very early in the morning:

Skepticism FAIL.

The science, the source, and the threat of global climate change are very real, and Vin Suprynowicz’ op-ed mocking those who are justifiably concerned about climate change is a gold mine of half-, quarter-, and un-truths. One powerful “tell” is his reliance on Richard Lindzen — the only remaining climatologist of any repute who maintains a contrarian position on the issue, and also one of the only scientists still disputing the relationship between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. Similarly, the analyses of Norman Rogers, Suprynowicz’ other cited authority, have been repeatedly and thoroughly debunked, as a few moments’ research will demonstrate.

Ridiculing the change in nomenclature from “global warming” to “climate change” as a sign of liberal desperation is another standard denialist argument, but nothing could be further from the truth. The term “climate change” was first proposed by Republican strategist Frank Luntz during the Bush administration — as a “less frightening” alternative to “global warming”. It’s a peculiar irony that Luntz’ attempt at deceiving the public is a more accurate way of describing the complex phenomena that so profoundly alarm scientists and environmentalists — perhaps one of the only times that Bush-speak told the truth.

Mr. Suprynowicz’ paper gets an F.

Warren Senders


Year 3, Month 8, Day 28: Nice Work If You Can Get It

The Arizona Star discusses the problem and tries to be even-handed, while simultaneously pointing out that the denialists are full of shit:

The following appeared in the Chicago Tribune on Friday:

It’s official: July was the hottest month in the continental U.S. since the government began keeping those records in 1895.

For years, scientists have warned that climate change is happening. They reached that conclusion not because of a hot summer like this one, but from decades of data that show slowly rising temperatures.

In 2010, the National Academy of Sciences unequivocally warned: “A strong, credible body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems.”

Americans have heard similar alarms before, and no doubt many have become adept at tuning them out, which is why we’d like to draw attention to physicist Richard Muller, a prominent climate-change skeptic who has changed his mind. Here’s what Muller wrote in a July 28 New York Times op-ed:

“Call me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that in my mind threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.”

One reason Muller’s conversion is drawing attention: His Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project was heavily funded by the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation, which has a history of supporting groups that deny climate change.

Muller’s latest scientific paper will be pawed and poked by climate scientists – skeptics and believers alike. We’ll see how well it holds up.

One thing we can predict with certainty: Muller will not convince all climate doubters. But complete agreement usually isn’t necessary or achievable in science. Heck, there are still physicists who don’t think Einstein got it right.

Climate is complex and doesn’t yield easily to computer models and scientific calculations. Scientists won’t ever be able to predict with 100 percent certainty how bad warming will get and when.

And let’s acknowledge this isn’t just about data. Somewhere along the way, what started out as a scientific debate turned into a political, even ideological, spat. Highhanded advocates for slashing our use of fossil fuels backed extreme restrictions that would damage the world’s developed economies – America’s included. Skeptics pushed back, as aggravated by the righteousness of the climate-change Cassandras as by their doubts about the underlying – and incomplete – science.

Sent August 23:

Now that erstwhile skeptic Richard Muller has satisfied himself that the science of global warming is real and indisputable, the doubters are running out of scientists to reassure them that the greenhouse effect isn’t really happening. Leaving aside the voices of a few television weather forecasters and a phalanx of conservative pundits, the only scientists still supporting the denialist side are MIT’s Richard Lindzen and the University of Alabama’s Roy Spencer — names certain to appear frequently in the coming months as the evidence confirming climate change continues to accumulate.

Lindzen is notorious for his continued refusal to accept a causal relationship between cigarettes and lung cancer, and Spencer’s papers have been repeatedly debunked. Sure, these two contrarians could still be right, and thousands of climatologists could be wrong. But American energy and environmental policies should be based on the worldwide scientific consensus, not a handful of extreme minority opinions.

Year 3, Month 8, Day 11: Tremendous Richard(s)

More on Muller, from the San Francisco Chronicle:

The hot issue of global warming got hotter Monday when a UC Berkeley physicist, once a loud skeptic of human-caused climate change, agreed not only that the Earth is heating up, but also that people are the cause of it all.

Richard Muller converted only a year ago to the idea that the world has been warming for decades. Before then he had argued that global warming data – even figures compiled by U.N. experts – were badly flawed.

Now Muller is going further, blaming the warming almost entirely on human emission of greenhouse gases, most notably carbon dioxide – a conclusion that almost all climate scientists reached long ago.

Muller argued that the evidence from more than 36,000 temperature stations worldwide shows that the global thermometer has risen by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years. The warm-up began with the onset of the Industrial Revolution, Muller said, and has accelerated in recent years.

Watchng the comments pile up is a real education in despair. Sent July 31:

Those seeking scientific opposition to the worldwide consensus on global climate change had their available options significantly reduced by Dr. Richard Muller’s “conversion.” For many years, Muller was one of the go-to guys for media outlets needing a contrarian voice to bolster a “the science isn’t settled” argument. Now, with the release of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project’s results, Muller embraces the science he once scorned, leaving conservative pundits and politicians no choice but Dr. Richard Lindzen, the poster boy not only for climate-change denialists, but also for those who still doubt the connection between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.

Like those apocryphal Japanese soldiers still fighting Allied forces on forgotten Pacific islands, Lindzen is a true believer with thoroughly solidified opinions, making him a perfect recipient for the Koch brothers’ next climate-change research grant. The rest of us are pleased to welcome Richard Muller to the reality-based community.

Warren Senders