Paul Krugman Says it Best

“[Climate change deniers] don’t like the political and policy implications of climate change, so they’ve decided not to believe in it — and they’ll grab any argument, no matter how disreputable, that feeds their denial.

Indeed, if there was a defining moment in Friday’s debate, it was the declaration by Representative Paul Broun of Georgia that climate change is nothing but a “hoax” that has been “perpetrated out of the scientific community.” I’d call this a crazy conspiracy theory, but doing so would actually be unfair to crazy conspiracy theorists. After all, to believe that global warming is a hoax you have to believe in a vast cabal consisting of thousands of scientists — a cabal so powerful that it has managed to create false records on everything from global temperatures to Arctic sea ice.

Yet Mr. Broun’s declaration was met with applause.”

Paul Krugman, New York Times


34 thoughts on “Paul Krugman Says it Best

  1. I find it so hard to believe that people still deny that global warming exists. I thought that attitude had been called ridiculous years ago.

  2. It’s funny how *some people* choose which areas of science to question. There aren’t a lot of Relativity-deniers, are there? That’s because the Theory of Relativity doesn’t interfere with anyone’s lifestyle. If we acknowledge that climate change is real, then it only makes sense to change our lifestyles — and that is something many people are opposed to.

    • “There aren’t a lot of Relativity-deniers, are there?” Brilliant!

      It often comes down to conformation bias – choosing a belief, then looking for evidence to support it, instead of the more scientific practice of starting with evidence and then forming a belief. The political implications of climate change make a lot of people uncomfortable, so instead of looking for alternate means of action, they choose not to accept the problem in the first place. Less complicated, and with the Internet these days it’s not too hard to find others who agree with them.

      • In the U.S., the main political arguments against climate change legislation are that it would result in bigger government and that it would create an “energy tax.” The energy tax is based on false claims; the Democrats’ current bill would cost Americans a postage stamp per day.

        Does the concern over big government exist in Canada, or is it one of our unique American ideals?

      • Canada, overall, is more liberal than the States. The US Democrats fall pretty much between Canada’s two major parties – Liberals (centre-left) and Conservatives (centre-right). Then we have the NDP which is further to the left, and the Bloc Québeçois who were formed on the basis of wanting Québec to separate from the rest of Canada (ideologies shift depending on leaders, but they’re left or centre-left right now). We don’t have any parties with seats who could compare to the Republicans. I hope that all made sense to you….

        It shifts from province to province, as well. Québec is one of the most liberal – I heard an awesome quote that “in Québec, Stephen Harper [leader of the Conservatives] is about as popular as some forms of hepatitis”. Alberta is by far the most conservative, likely because they have the huge fossil fuel industry. I heard a scary quote that 21% of Albertans believe climate change is founded on “junk science”, compared to, I think, 11% average for all of Canada.

        So if you were to hear concern over big government, it would likely be mostly confined to Alberta. Otherwise, it’s not a common complaint. We have public health care which is fantastic; I strongly believe that health care is a human right and should not discriminate between rich and poor. (Is Obama thinking about that for the States?) We have a lot of environmental regulation, especially in forestry, which is doing fantastic – 98.3% of Canada’s forests are certified by an organization like FSC, which makes sure they’re using sustainable practices. Our water, roads, public transit, community clubs, and so on are run by municipal governments; almost none are privatized.

        I don’t really see how big government limits freedoms any more than big industry.

      • We don’t have any parties with seats who could compare to the Republicans.

        That’s because it’s stealthed. That you’d refer to the Conservatives as center-right shows how cunning the stealth is. (As opposed to referring to the centrist Liberals as center-left, which just shows how well their communication works. Compare their campaigns with any time they’re in power; they campaign center-left but govern center.) I may notice this more readily as I’m an Albertan (for non-Canadians, Alberta is very much the Texas of the north, the home of Canada’s right wing), and the heart of our federal right-wingers stems from Albertan provincial politics.

        For a Republican analogue, very recently, we had the Reform Party, which was a Reagan-styled party for a while (very big in Alberta). [calling it Reagan-like might be doing it a disservice, though; Reform’s leadership was more intellectual than you’d think.] Over time, the right wing of the Progressive Conservatives split from the PCs and merged with the then-struggling Reform party to form a new group called the Canadian Alliance. (Funny story: During this merge, the original working name was Conservative-Reform Alliance Party. I suspect they changed their name when they realized what the acronym would be.)

        The Alliance was very similar to the Michael-Steele-esque Republicans in many ways. Google “Stockwell Day Wetsuit” and you’ll see what I mean – the first hit also describes several of their leader’s example policies. However, it also basically flopped in the long run, in part due to the same thing that’s causing the Republicans to crash now (loss of leadership).

        The Alliance has since been merged with the Progressive Conservatives as the Conservative Party. Much of the Alliance remained in power – for instance, look at Canada’s current minister of international trade.

        All that said, the big-government opposition *has* mostly been confined to two places, both provincial: Alberta and, surprisingly, Quebec. It just depends on whether you’re referring to government influence on culture or on pretty much anything else. (Look up the history of Quebec separatism/sovereignty; it’s as often framed as a ‘butt out, Federation’ movement as it is a ‘preserve our heritage’ movement. Quebec’s rather progressive elsewhere, and as you noticed, the BQ shifts its ideology accordingly.)

        As for Alberta, speaking from experience, YES, you will find a lot of big-government fearmongering from our provincial government. There was recent talk about putting up a literal firewall around the province, for instance! (Similarly, look into the rather colourful history of our previous premier, Ralph Klein. In no particular order, he threw a healthcare policy book at a legislature page shouting “I don’t need this crap”, accused the farmer who reported the case of mad cow disease of not being a true Albertan because he didn’t “shoot, shovel, and shut up”, and showed up drunk at a homeless shelter to throw money on the floor and scream “get a job, you bums”. For the record, this is the guy who held super-mega-ultra-majorities in the provincial legislature for 14 years.)

      • Wow, those were some interesting stories that I hadn’t heard before. The acronym is especially funny. It makes sense that Québec would fear big government on cultural grounds – all that historical tension – but I can’t see how emissions caps or a carbon tax would impose on the Québeçois culture….

        How did Ralph Klein get elected, let alone hold a majority government? That’s pretty ridiculous….

      • In Alberta politics, in any given riding you could run a Jack Russel terrier as a Conservative and he’d probably score more votes than the NDP. Even the Liberals (traditionally Alberta’s official opposition) would have an uphill struggle against the pooch. We really are the Texas of the north.

        In the last several federal elections, Alberta has been solidly blue (Conservative) regardless of who was running, the times when we had any red (Liberal) fading to distant memory. It’s only in the last election that we have a single orange (NDP) riding in the entire province, and it’s in the university / arts district of Edmonton (the province’s progressive stronghold). The incumbent Conservative MP (voted Canada’s laziest MP, by the way) even declared victory before the counting was finished, so certain was he that Alberta ridings would all turn blue. (Positive note: The new representative is an environmental lawyer and the NDP’s chief climate critic. I’ve spoken to her directly on occasion and am good friends with one of her main campaign managers, so I can probably get her ear in the future if need be.)

        As for Ralph, it was the same way, except he also played with the riding boundaries at the provincial level, splitting up progressive areas and consolidating conservative ones. The result was that, if memory serves, 71 out of 83 seats went to his party. We ‘fondly’ remember him as King Ralph accordingly.

        Observation: this ever-narrowing thread format seems to inhibit discussion… Is there another template you can use?

      • Sorry Brian, to change how the comment replies work I’d have to change the entire theme of my blog. Sorry about that….

        That’s pretty ridiculous about Alberta….”you could run a Jack Russel terrier as a Conservative”….Manitoba has had an NDP government for 10 years (and that’s with the same premier, there might have been a different NDP government before that as well). I think they’re doing a great job but then I like the NDP so I’m fairly biased :) I think Manitoba Hydro is one of the big reasons the NDP does well with its platform; emissions-free electricity just works in a province with so many lakes.

  3. Krugman has stated his opinion that anyone exercising his or her free speech rights under the U.S. Constitution should be tried and punished as a trator, if he or she would deny harmful manmade climate change science.

    Since words are easily tossed around, let me make the claim that, by his words, Krugman is an anarchist in every sense of the word.

    • Where did he say that these skeptics should be tried and punished? Did I miss something? Keep in mind that this was a newspaper editorial – he was trying to inform the public of a scenario he found immoral. He wasn’t trying to suppress it, he just wanted people to disregard it.

      And since the US Constitution is all about freedom, what’s wrong with being an anarchist? Or a Communist for that matter?

      • The closest he got was in the same editorial, accusing them of treason, which carries criminal connotations.

        Having read the US constitution, there’s nothing in it that would prevent anyone from being an anarchist or a communist, contingent upon it being a willing choice (i.e. not forced upon them from another) and purely voluntary (i.e. not forcing upon any others).

        For another interesting read, particularly for the libertarians in the audience, consider the text on the Statue of Liberty.

  4. Mr. Krugman nailed it spot on.

    The fact that scientists of the denial camp are behaving in a manner identical to the aforementioned congress-critter is all the more saddening.

    Laugh or Cry. Take your pick.


  5. If climate science is strong enough to justify costly, revolutionary actions to eliminate use of fossil fuels, why must it be defended by name-calling and other forms of ad hominem attacks on the skeptics? Why must it rely on the Krugmans of this world to drum up support through use of vitriolic political statements and innuendo?

    Could it be that the declaration “the [scientific] debate is over” was intended to allow only political debates? If climate change science is so fragile that the political decisions depending on it can’t tolerate any doubt, why should we rely on it for such draconian changes to our society?

    • Nobody likes being called names. Krugman is probably just very frustrated about what he sees as a threat to his (or his children’s) way of life and future security. If the politician in question had some better arguments than “it’s all a big hoax”, it would probably have been easier for Krugman to be polite.

      Scientific debate is never over. Who said that anyway? However, the scientific debate on climate change has been going on for a long time and is very solidly on the side of AGW. We started studying the topic in the late 1800s. There is overwhelming agreement, if not consensus, about it today (see the posts Scientific Agreement Quantified and Gambling on a Lie, both under Noteworthy Posts in the sidebar). It would take crushing evidence to change the fundamental theory at this point, as the burden of proof would be to show how humans could not be changing the climate. You’d have to disprove a whole lot of physics.

      I’m not sure what “draconian changes to our society” you’re referring to. We have to stop using fossil fuels anyway; bills such as W-M are simply speeding up that process. Once we’re fully into alternative energies, nobody will care that they can’t use petroleum – people want kilowatt hours, not crude oil. W-M is designed to help the process of energy independence along, and it shouldn’t cost much – the most recent estimate was that it would cost the average family $175 USD/year. That’s about $15 a month. That’s about the cost of a quarter tank of gas.

      Draconian solutions will simply not work. We need to move forward to new technologies, not backward to no technologies at all. Banning cars and oil overnight would be draconian, which is why no politician is proposing it. All good climate policy plans should include lots of research and development. Look at how quickly computers and handheld electronics have progressed since they became popular. If alternative energies cost equal to or less than fossil fuels, they will become popular, and they will become better and cheaper.

      • Krugman probably IS frustrated, but this is no excuse for him to call people traitors. This does illustrate the fact that right or wrong, AGW science no longer really matters, does it? It’s become a political struggle between two diametrically opposed viewpoints. Each viewpoint has science on its side, with more on the Warmers’ side. Pro-AGW science received tens of billions of dollars for research from the government. Skeptics only got a few million from Exxon for their research, but after the Warmers’ complained, Exxon reportedly cut off funding.

        It’s been said that “The [scientific] debate is over…the science is settled.” Who said this? I believe Al Gore originally uttered these infamous words, followed most recently (in essence) by Barak Obama. I agree that the scientific AGW debate will never be over, unless and until global cooling establishes itself as an undeniable fact. Even so, scientific debate occurs most often between pro-AGW scientists. Skeptics seem to be fighting uphill battles to be given a seat at the table. All scientific credibility in the world won’t spare a scientist from the Warmers’ wrath. Freeman Dyson and Ian Plimer are recent examples of this. Some debate.

        W-M will only cost $175 per household, or so the CBO tells us. Our friends at CBO footnoted that this doesn’t reflect the costs of the decrease in GDP that will result. Think how a decrease in GDP can affect these same households…jobs going overseas, etc. W-M creates a cottage industry for building inspectors, and mandates energy reductions in residential and commercial buildings through “green” roofs, insulation, appliances, toilets, etc. States will have to create new bureaucracies to administer W-M. Where does the money for all of this come from? Even if the Federal government prints it, each household will pay through loss of purchasing power from inflation. The CBO’s quote of $175 is propaganda aimed to stroke an aroused electorate back to sleep. More realistic estimates say the cost would be 10 to 20 times the CBO’s estimate. $175 is laughable. And alternative forms of energy are not cheaper and likely will not be cheaper any time soon.

        Scientific Agreement Quantified graphed polling responses sent to 3,146 Earth scientists, showing near-unanimous consensus for AGW science. For additional impact, the graph also depicted the percent of support by “General Public” and “Non-publishing/Non-climatologists” from a recent Gallop Poll. Missing, of course, was mention of the 31,000+ scientists who signed the Oregon Petition. They don’t count because they’re not “real” scientists, and because their numbers would dwarf the others on the graph.

        Gambling on a Lie listed 66 scientific organizations that expressed support for AGW science. The memberships of these organizations were not polled. Not a problem. Consensus by proxy (through the Boards of 66 organizations) is good enough for the political debate. Perhaps this explains why it is frequently heard that “nearly every scientistin the world” supports AGW science. Consensus by proxy, indeed.

      • Please read the post “Ignore the Petition Project” before you run around citing the Oregon Petition…..

        And why would you claim that global warming could never be an undeniable fact (which I agree with), but then go on to imply that global cooling could be? Does that not prove that you are only willing to support scientific theories which have acceptable political implications?

        And if you are choosing to accept only the worst-case scenario for the economic consequences of W-M, to be fair, should you not also accept only the worst-case scenario for possible consequences of climate change? This report – – is pretty scary.

        Is the idea of spending money really a viable reason to ignore this threat? Money is completely imaginary. It’s a human-created system, which we have the ability to manipulate at our will. If it were to come down to a choice between the human-created world and the physical world, we could change the whole setup of the human-created world. “It’s not something like gravity that we just have to live with. People created it. And we’re people too.” -Annie Leonard.

        If you believe that the possible economic consequences of climate change action are worse than the possible consequences of inaction, I’d encourage you to watch these videos, which are particularly applicable to economics (you may need to watch the first, 10-minute video first, which can be found at the homepage:

        Finally, if you’re interested in a renewable energy debate, I’d encourage you to visit this blog, where the author knows a heck of a lot more than I do on the topic:

  6. [This is a response to the discussion of big government. That thread was getting a bit hard to read.]

    Thanks for the explanation; I had the idea that Canada is generally more liberal than the U.S., but I didn’t know the details. I think Obama was right when he said that its not about whether government is too big or too small, but whether or not it works. Government regulation doesn’t bother me, and of course I’m all for environmental regulation.

    I guess the people that oppose larger government are concerned about government spending and the tax increases that could follow. But almost every president has technically increased the size of government, and most of the federal deficit is not from Obama’s new policies.

    In the U.S., the far right wing has been unusually active lately. Have you heard of the “Tea Parties?” There are a lot of people who think they’re fighting some kind of oppression. This is their response to the climate bill:

    As for healthcare, that is a major issue in American politics. I don’t watch it as closely as i do environmental issues, but I think the plan is to create an affordable national plan to compete with private plans. Obama has to be careful, though; anything that represents socialism will produce a knee-jerk reaction.

    How does nationalized healthcare in Canada work out for doctors? Many of the healthcare reform solutions that are being considered involve taking money from doctors and hospitals, which doesn’t seem fair to me.

    • Ah yes, of course I’ve seen your website, I’m actually subscribed to it. I just have multiple Davids commenting on this blog and I forgot that the Green Lens website is by a David :)

      I have to say, it drives me crazy when people confuse communism with socialism with authoritarianism….(by that I mean the people who would yell and scream at anything that resembles socialism, not you, you seem much more educated!)

      Communism is a system of economics where the market is controlled to fulfill certain objectives and goals (such as zero poverty).
      Capitalism is a system of economics where the market is left to do whatever it wants.

      Authoritarianism is a system of governmental values – which can take place in either a communist or a capitalist society – where the society’s role in the world and competition with other societies (ie keeping the US the biggest economic powerhouse in the world, defeating Iraq) is more important than the quality of life for individual people. An example of an authoritarian communist leader is Stalin, which is why so many people hate communism today. But they don’t actually hate communism, they just hate authoritarianism….But another authoritarian leader, who was capitalist, was George W Bush. (Actually, almost all North American politicians are capitalist authoritarians, but he’s the most extreme).
      Socialism is the other option, where the rights and quality of life of the citizens is the top priority. Examples of socialist leaders are Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and the Canadian NDP party (but only just).

      So when people yell and scream about socialism (but actually referring to communist economics, which they only hate because of authoritarianism), they’re saying that they’d rather have Stalin as their leader than Gandhi or Mandela….

      Healthcare in Canada. To my knowledge it’s going pretty well, I haven’t had any medical emergencies so I don’t know a great deal. The biggest problem is the shortage of doctors, and therefore long waiting lists, because everyone can afford health care. We have a huge demand for doctors, nurses, and pretty much everyone in the medical field. A lot of doctors are coming from overseas, which is probably pretty good for the Canadian economy. We do have access to private health care, if we don’t want to wait, but it’s very expensive.

  7. To climatesight:

    Most are aware that Warmers disparage the Oregon Petition with its 31,000+ signatories. There probably aren’t 31,000 scientists on the planet who could meet with the Warmers’ approval, unless they happened to accept AGW science. Since Warmers are willing to throw renowned scientists Freeman Dyson and Ian Plimer under the bus for coming out against AGW, what chance do 31,000 scientists with lesser pedigrees have?

    And no, “the idea of spending money” is not a viable reason to ignore the threat of harmful global warming. However, given the large sums involved, the science for evaluating the threat must have fewer doubts than at present. Most people would not be willing to write a blank check to buy an insurance policy unless the covered risk seemed likely enough to warrant the premium. It isn’t unreasonable to ask for more certainty (absolute proof isn’t necessary or even possible) before we take out our checkbooks. As long as the government continues to fund only pro-AGW research, and as long as the mainstream media continues to give lopsided coverage to pro-AGW issues, and as long as skeptical scientists are given short-shrift, the public will never trust the veracity of AGW science or those who support it.

    You provided links to the “Manpollo” YouTube videos, whereby he presents his case for reducing GHG emissions. His logic is slickly plausible, but his underlying assumption invalidates virtually everything that follows. Here’s why: His risk matrix is based entirely on whether or not harmful manmade climate change is real. He thus assumes that only man can cause harmful climate change, and that neither Mother Nature nor the cosmos can match what humans can do. If Manpollo added a third row (for “Non-AGW is True”), and added a third column (for the action of “Adaptation”), he could NOT have reached his original conclusion…. because Adaptation protects us from harmful warming by ANY CAUSE, be it natural or manmade. The action to reduce manmade GHG emissions could be ruinous if natural forces were really the cause. Manpollo could not consider a non-AGW cause of climate change without compromising both the propaganda (disinformation) value of his videos or the integrity of his personal AGW beliefs.

    • If you have objections to the Manpollo videos, at least make sure he hasn’t already addressed them before you accuse the author of disinformation and propaganda. Your current objections are addressed in this video, and any future objections can easily be navigated here.

      Secondly, if you’re going to make claims such as:

      -“there probably aren’t 31 000 scientists on the planet who could meet with the Warmer’s approval” (the IPCC had 450 lead authors, 800 contributing authors, and 2500 reviewers – you do the math. The Oregon Petition was also not signed by 31 000 “scientists”, it was signed by 31 000 people, including Michael J Fox. The creators of the petition admitted that they had no way of filtering out fakes.)
      -“it isn’t unreasonable to ask for more certainty” (the IPCC stated that there was a >90% chance that most of the observed warming was caused by human activity – how much more certainty do you want? Also watch this video about the nature of science)
      -“the government continues to fund only pro-AGW research” (check out the Bush government’s track record)
      -“the mainstream media continues to give lopsided coverage to pro-AGW issues” (this peer-reviewed study suggests otherwise, also check out the post Artificial Balance)
      -“skeptical scientists are given short shrift” (is there a possibility that their methods and analysis are simply insufficient, and that’s why they can’t pass the peer-review process, not because the panel is biased against them? Remember, it is much better for the scientific journal, and the advancement of knowledge for that hand, to publish a groundbreaking study that proves the prevailing opinion wrong, than it is to simply restate it. Look at a lot of Nobel Prize winners.)

      … least back them up with something peer-reviewed. That’s what I’m trying to do here. Anyone can make claims such as yours. If you back them up with something credible, then you’ll be listened to.

  8. Kate, two points.

    First, the government doesn’t fund “pro-AGW research” or “anti-AGW research”. If you have your conclusions before you do your research, you aren’t doing science.

    Second, the book based on the Manpollo series is out. It contains more generalized information than the videos, and it’s probably a bit more accessible. (See, for instance, Chris Mooney’s review)

    • I have ordered the Manpollo book and am eagerly waiting its arrival….keep your eyes open for a review once I’ve read it.

      That’s a great quote about scientists not being either pro- or anti- either conclusion. In science, the means justify the ends.

  9. “…who are you and I to argue with the top scientists about the science?” Thus, Manpollo begins the sequel video showing his expanded logic. I admit I never watched it. I was put off by the obvious bias and sophomoric treatment with the 2×2 risk matrix on his original video. It also didn’t help seeing YouTube’s index for the sequel video showing what I would characterize as a “Bozo in a joker’s hat.” Who is his targeted audience? Kids? Now that is a terrifying thought. The original video was titled “The Most Terrifying Video You’ll Ever See”. I could tell from the beginning it wasn’t really terrifying, because of the smiley faces he drew in the blocks. In the later video, he expanded to a 5×9 matrix. If 2×2 was terrifying, 5×9 is horrifying. Now we have 45 blocks of assumptions to haggle over. If this is expanded any further, we’ll be arguing AGW merits in the same detail of our blog comments. Appeals to authority quickly vanish when authority wants to take our money.

    Warmers don’t give any credibility to the 31,000+ signatories to the Oregon Petition. I hadn’t heard that Michael J. Fox signed it. If true, he helped sabotage the Petition’s credibility. There are a “lot” of signatures on the Petition from people with scientific credentials. But only a handful have PhDs, so Warmers just ‘dis these guys and toss the list. Warmers are smart…they claim consensus but never say who’s on it, never have to defend it.

    The IPCC is a political organization. This is not a revelation. Their claim of “> 90%” is a gratuitous definition of their subjective term “very likely”. They have never shown how this probability was calculated. How could they? I know you know this. If you don’t, I’m over-estimating your knowledge on this subject.

    There is a media bias for reporting AGW stories. Remember watching John Stossel doing a “20/20” segment on Oct 19, 2007, on ‘media one-sidedness’? Have you read the Business and Media Institutes report ( “How the Major Networks Silence the Debate on Climate Change?” Media bias and censorship is real.

    • The Business and Media Institute is one of many conservative think-tanks which have possibly the worst track record on scientific bias. Read some of Naomi Oreskes’ work, or read about their opposition to tobacco, CFC, seat belt, and catalytic converter regulations if you’re unconvinced. Their emphasis on reaching a politically acceptable conclusion, rather than using approved scientific methods, damages their credibility. The article you linked to wouldn’t open, but I have yet to hear of an article by a conservative think-tank which has been peer-reviewed by anyone other than themselves.

      Therefore, you have provided no peer-reviewed research to back up your claims. Again, instead of simply insulting Warmers, back up your views with some credibility. A conservative think-tank simply cannot compare to a peer-reviewed journal on a topic of science.

      I can’t understand what your objection is to the more complicated Risk Managment grid – do you think it’s too detailed, while the simpler one is too simple? Should we simply ignore the possibility that this problem could be real at all? Is that ethical or responsible?

      The IPCC is a political organization, but it does not do any of its own research. It simply compiles all the articles and reports regarding climate change since its last assessment report, and restates the findings in a more concise way without repetitions – much easier to navigate. So if you don’t like the IPCC, it doesn’t matter, because everything in it came from somewhere else. Try explaining how the National Academy of Sciences lacks credibility. Or NASA. Or Science magazine.

      The “authority” that Craven refers to is not the government. He is referring to scientific bodies such as the NAS, who do not want to take our money. This may be difficult for you to understand, but credible science doesn’t work from the bottom up – starting with a conclusion they like and then choosing evidence to fit it. They work from the top down. They use methods which have been tried and tested to develop a conclusion. Then they try to prove themselves wrong. In science, the means justify the ends.

      I accept that there are some scientists who dispute AGW, but if you are taking their word for it because they’re smart people with PhDs, it is simple logic to trust the Warmer’s side of the debate, because we have many more smart people with PhDs. I don’t claim absolute consensus, as that is impossible in science, but I do claim overwhelming agreement, as discussed in Artificial Balance and Gambling on a Lie.

      It’s also important to remember that, in science, not all evidence is equal. If it was, we’d still be forced to accept the words of Aristotle who said that air had no mass. In science, only the best evidence floats to the top, that which passes peer-review, eliminates bias, and has not been disproved.

      What do you expect me to do? Accept the words of anyone and everyone, no matter their credibility, falsifiability, or logic? Accept evidence even if it has been proven faulty by a more credible source?

      How do you choose which evidence is most credible?


  10. There’s a motivator that gets the story across as well.

    On a related note, have you heard of the book Shop Class As Soulcraft, by Matthew Crawford? It’s an elaboration of an essay he wrote called “In Defense Of Working With Your Hands”, essentially telling us to stop looking down on manual workers as using less intelligence than your usual non-academic intellectual, written by a Ph.D. in political philosophy who left the intellectual world to run a motorcycle maintenance garage. (Surprisingly good read, too.)

    This may sound unrelated, but there’s a reason for it. In the original essay (I don’t have a copy of the book with me to cite other examples), he describes one of his earlier jobs:
    I landed a job as executive director of a policy organization in Washington. This felt like a coup. But certain perversities became apparent as I settled into the job. It sometimes required me to reason backward, from desired conclusion to suitable premise. The organization had taken certain positions, and there were some facts it was more fond of than others. As its figurehead, I was making arguments I didn’t fully buy myself. Further, my boss seemed intent on retraining me according to a certain cognitive style — that of the corporate world, from which he had recently come. This style demanded that I project an image of rationality but not indulge too much in actual reasoning.
    (Emphasis mine.)

    He also appeared on the Colbert Report, describing another position he had which involved producing a whole lot of crap (his own words) by summarizing about 28 scientific papers per day (!!) with no quality control. Colbert applauded him for “actively damaging knowledge”.

    Why is this important? Well, he doesn’t identify the group he was with, but a quick search on shows us exactly which “Washington policy organization” this was — and it turns out to be the George C. Marshall Institute. (Matthew Crawford was appointed executive director in 2001.) This has been called the hub of antiscientific (and particular anti-climate change) viewpoints for decades. For example, here’s Naomi Oreskes talking on the subject (start the video at ~26 minutes in to see the section on the Marshall Institute), and a quick search on ExxonSecrets for that group and its associated members is a who’s who of climate inactivists.

    • Wow…..what a great picture you linked to. I think I’ll have to make a new post just so that everyone can see it.

      That’s a very interesting story. You have a lot of interesting stories, please keep sharing them. Alternatively you could start your own blog and I’ll subscribe. WordPress isn’t too hard to use.

      I’m not at all surprised he was from George C Marshall! When it comes to extremist right-wing disinformation organizations, nothing much surprised me anymore. With them, the ends justify the means – it’s the other way for science.

      Yes, I have seen the Oreskes video, it’s very good. I’d recommend that all readers go check it out.

  11. I do have my own blog. I just won’t link to it until I feel there’s enough on it to be worth sharing.

    However, when there’s a funny / ironic / hypocritical / outrageous / WTF!!?! moment in the climate struggle, I usually send it out via the International Journal of Inactivism, specifically through their Mindless Link Propogation section. (I think I’m second only to Frank himself for submissions there; I also helped with the infamous Twisty Maze of Think Tanks project at the main journal.)

  12. climatesight:

    Sorry the link failed. Here’s the fix: click on it again. When it bombs-out, go to the address bar of your browser and delete the last character in the URL, which is a ‘close-parenthesis’ mark. I put the link in parentheses and the trailing one was picked up as part of the link. I mentioned the BMI study on media bias to support the 20/20 segment by John Stossel.

    I cringed when you recommended reading some of Oreskes’ work. To me, she seems what I imagine Michael Mann (of Hockey Stick infamy) was like before he made it to the big time. I read the text of her speech last year in Dublin, and I felt that much of what she said was disinformation in unabashed furtherance of alarmism.

    I will not say that the National Academy of Sciences, NASA, or Science magazine lacks credibility, but they are certainly not without warts. For example:

    National Academy of Sciences:

    Anyone wondering why Al Gore and many others (including the IPCC) avoid scientific debates and avoid any discourse that would cast doubts on the efficacy of AGW science? Read this excerpt from the NAS book ‘Decision Making for the Environment: Social and Behavior Science Research Priorities’ at . On page 86, NAS says: “By focusing scientific efforts increasingly on decision relevance, such a program of measurement, evaluation and analysis would increase the influence of empirical evidence and empirically supported theory in environmental decisions relative to the influents of politics and ideology”. This seems a bit abstract, but I interpret NAS’s words to mean that focusing scientific research to support public policy objectives will help achieve the desired outcome, i.e. provide support for a political agenda. Scientific debates would de-focus support for AGW policy objectives, thus no scientific debates are to be allowed. NAS exists, in part, to give scientific advice to the Federal government, and receive funding in exchange.

    We know that Al Gore won’t stay in the same room as anyone who would challenge him on the science. And we have all heard of IPCC scientists who left the IPCC because their comments containing statements of doubt were excluded from IPCC assessment reports by the politicians.


    James Hansen is the NASA official who maintains the land-based temperature record for U.S. measuring stations. He has adjusted the temperature records to compensate for instrument and siting errors, yet will not disclose how these adjustments were calculated. The adjustments always widen the gap between temperatures from the start date and the present, and which helps support claims for his AGW advocacy. And we see an ever-widening gap between Hansen’s temperature record and temperatures measured by orbiting satellites. To me, this is a credibility gap ignored and protected by NASA.

    Science magazine:

    I was advised to read some of what Naomi Oreskes has written. I read accounts of her memorable paper published in “Science” (in 2004) which claimed that nearly 100% of the scientific papers and articles about ‘climate change’ (Google search hits, I believe it was) supported the AGW consensus view. It seemed compelling. Others could not replicate her work. She later admitted her study was actually based on the search term ‘global climate change’, not ‘climate change’ as was cited in her paper. Her study still could not be replicated. No such support for her ‘100%’ claim existed, even using ‘global climate change’. Far from it. See . Oreskes’ study went the way of Mann’s Hockey Stick. I imagine she never expected her work to get such a tough peer review. Science magazine did not gain any credibility by publishing her paper.

    In summary, let me say that AGW science has not reached the point where it can support actionable public policy measures of the breadth and scope of what our government proposes. Right now, the best we should do is develop plans for adaptation to the effects of localized warming and deal with it if/when warranted over time. But the governments of the world have spent tens of $billions over the years to prove that AGW is so. They must want it to be so, and will not accept any second opinions.

    • The governments of the world have not spent tens of billions of dollars to prove anything. They have spent that money on scientific research. And that’s what the scientific research found. See my latest post.

      It appears you subscribe to a different credibility spectrum than I do. I can’t say that I don’t find it biased toward a pleasing conclusion, but I don’t think I’ll be able to convince you otherwise. Even though the hockey stick was approved by the NAS, and later expanded on (see the 1000-year temp record in the latest IPCC report – a whole hockey team), it’s easy enough to find blogs and editorials that say it was “discredited”. With the internet, it’s easy to convince yourself of whatever you want in a topic like climate change.

      But I’m still waiting for those peer-reviewed papers to back up your claims. So far all you’ve linked me to are blog posts and articles from conservative think-tanks.

      Doesn’t make your insults of Hansen, Mann, Oreskes, and the IPCC appear so warranted. If you don’t like some conclusions that these scientists are finding, dig up a formal retraction that the journals made and send it to me, rather than the words of a layperson that’s mad at the scientists. Journals make retractions all the time. I’m making it easy for you here….

      Do you really think we could sufficiently adapt to the warming that’s expected? Perhaps the developed world could, at the beginning at least, but what about the developing world? Do you think India and Africa have the resources for any kind of adaptation?

      Won’t it be more expensive to move 40% of the world’s population away from coastal areas, find new staple crops (as rice, wheat, corn, etc can’t survive heat waves), develop vaccines for all the vector-borne diseases that would spread with warming, ship fresh water to newly arid communities, develop conservation strategies for up to half of the world’s species, and build floodways around vulnerable communities – than it would to simply develop new technologies and limit our use of old technologies today? Wouldn’t it require more money and more government intervention?

      Also keep in mind that if we wait until things get really bad and then stop our carbon emissions all at once, the problem won’t stop all at once either. There’s a lag time from CO2 emissions to CO2 concentrations. There’s also a lag time for changes in CO2 to changes in temperature. We’re always acting about 50-60 years ahead of ourselves. “A wait and see policy may mean waiting until it’s too late.” I can’t remember who said that – I think it was the NAS, I’d have to go back and check – but they said it in the 1950s. About climate change. And we’re still sitting here trying to work out whether or not there even is a problem.

  13. JeffM, I’m concluding that you do not understand how to think scientifically.

    For example, I could cite your repeated attacks on Al Gore despite no climate scientist ever citing him, but that’s a general hallmark of many people who do not think scientifically. So instead, I’ll look at a very specific claim of yours.

    He [Hansen] has adjusted the temperature records to compensate for instrument and siting errors, yet will not disclose how these adjustments were calculated

    In truth, Hansen HAS published this algorithm, and the raw data is available. However, a person unable to think like a scientist wouldn’t know where to look. Since this information really only matters if you have the scientific understanding to use it properly, there’s no reason for the method to be written in plain English on some website somewhere as opposed to in the scientific literature. (Which is where Hansen published it.)

    Here’s the technique one would use, assuming you weren’t a scientist. (If you were a scientist, a simple literature search would have answered your question, but you probably don’t have access to the ISI Web of Knowledge or similar databases.) See if you would have thought of it. If you weren’t able to, you should question any evaluation you have on matters of science. If you WERE able to think of this system, ask yourself why you didn’t apply it.

    A quick search for “GISS data” (GISS = Goddard Institute of Space Studies; anyone yelling at Hansen should know this is where he works) reveals many links, but the first one takes you to, which is the official GISS website. The SECOND link is, which is referring to the GISS temperature data. That’s your target.

    On that page, you see the following paragraph:
    The current analysis uses surface air temperatures measurements from the following data sets: the unadjusted data of the Global Historical Climatology Network (Peterson and Vose, 1997 and 1998), United States Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) data, and SCAR (Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research) data from Antarctic stations. The basic analysis method is described by Hansen et al. (1999), with several modifications described by Hansen et al. (2001) also included.

    Hmm. Two references to where the basic method is published. But I’ll go on.

    Later on the page, under the same section, you’ll see:
    A global temperature index, as described by Hansen et al. (1996), is obtained by combining the meteorological station measurements with sea surface temperatures based in early years on ship measurements and in recent decades on satellite measurements. Uses of this data should credit the original sources, specifically the British HadISST group (Rayner and others) and the NOAA satellite analysis group (Reynolds, Smith and others). (See references.)

    Now this provides other references, except this time Hansen et al 1996 is linked. Reading that provides a discussion of the GISS temperature index system, including a basic discussion (with references) on how they adjust for the Urban Heat Isand Effect. (It’s not described in this paper directly, but it references other papers where it *is* described, albeit in rather technical terms. A plain-English summary, however, *is* provided in Hansen et al 1996, so you can grasp the method there.)

    Continuing on, we find a discussion on why the temperature record starts in 1880 (uninteresting to this talking point) and, critically:
    Modifications to the analysis since 2001 are described on the separate Updates to Analysis.
    That’s referring to Steven MacIntyre’s only contribution to climate science, when he caught a mistake in post-2001 continental US data. The scientists, far from suppressing this argument, accepted it, corrected for it, and cited MacIntyre in their discussion on the adjustment.

    Now, any of the papers that were NOT linked directly above on the GISS data page are referenced in their Reference Section at the bottom of the page. Many of them are available for download through the mirror provided. (Some are not, probably due to subscription costs – science journals have to pay bills too – but these are available through any university library or research institute. If you live near a university, swing by their library and ask for help finding them if you want.)

    Oh, and as a special bonus, if digging through scientific papers isn’t your thing, Hansen provides code for implementing all of his algorithms, right there on the page. There’s also links to the FTP server (standard method for transferring files among researchers) where all of the raw data are available! (You have to compile and run the code yourself, and obtain the data in the right structure — this is academic research, not end-user interface-ready code. Again, why would it need an easy interface if everyone who would really care enough to look understands how to use a Unix command line?)

    With all of that information readily available, with less than ten seconds of Googling (even without a scholarly literature search), it is trivially easy to see that Hansen not describes his adjustments in great detail at multiple levels of depth, but he also freely provides all of his code and raw data. And yet, with all of this, you still say he “will not disclose how these adjustments were calculated”.

    I ask you this: If you are incapable of verifying what you say, why say it? If you are capable of verifying it, why haven’t you? And finally, now that you have been shown to be incorrect, will you adjust your viewpoint accordingly?

    If you’re wrong on this recited talking point, could you be wrong on other interpretations as well?

    I conclude by referencing something that you should probably be aware of, in a form everyone can understand.

  14. “That’s a fascinating video. Is that the kind of stuff you study?”

    Only sort of. Cognitive science is an interdisciplinary field, but my university shoehorned it into psychology. Any psych degree requires a broad sampling of the field, and this particular effect would fall between cognitive and social psychology. (That said, my bachelor’s isn’t even in psych – it’s in physics!)

    Dunning-Kruger is one of the many things everyone involved in this discussion should know about. It puts SO much in perspective. It’s sort of like the Manpollo vids in that aspect: risk management and self-criticism are key to cutting through ideology.

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