Climate Denialism for Beginners

I thought the issue was settled by now, but oh no. People are still denying that Climate Change is a problem.

Whatever Climate Change event you go to these days, the organisers will still feel obliged to run a session on Climate Change Science, explaining why there is actually a very real and already present problem, and why the sceptics are mistaken. And why some of them are paid to lie.

In the end, the arguments boil down to a very few set of contentious and highly debatable, well-disputed positions.

At Climate Camp this year in London, there are plans for a workshop called “Climate Change for Beginners”, or “Climate Science 101” which will contain a section on “Myth Busting”.

Here’s a contribution from me on this topic. I hope to be co-writing some concise ripostes, denying the arguments of the deniers.

Believe it or not, someone used some of these arguments on me in an e-mail this weekend. These sceptics ! You can’t take them anywhere ! They’d deny the pavement/sidewalk exists, or that the waiter(ess) in the cocktail bar is a human being !


Climate Change Deniers (or as they prefer “Sceptics”) are very fond of a certain limited set of arguments which can easily be refuted/debunked/dismissed.

Here’s a brief summary of some of the best clangers around – Klingons that cling on despite the progress in Climate Science.

MYTH #1 : The Climate is always Changing…
VARIANT #1 : …it’s no warmer now than the Medieval Warm Period, or the last Interglacial.
VARIANT #2 : …mankind’s activities are not causing Climate Change.
VARIANT #3 : …there’s nothing we can do to stop it.
VARIANT #4 : …and Life on Earth has always carried on.
VARIANT #5 : …God wouldn’t destroy us with Climate Change.

MYTH #2 : Climate Change is caused by the Sun…
VARIANT #1 : …it’s related to Sunspot activity.
VARIANT #2 : …it’s caused by changes in the Solar Flux.
VARIANT #3 : …it’s caused by Cosmic Rays.
VARIANT #4 : …Global Warming is happening on Mars and Pluto too.

MYTH #3 : Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Emissions aren’t causing Global Warming…
VARIANT #1 : …there’s so little CO2 in the atmosphere.
VARIANT #2 : …the rise in Global Warming has stopped because of saturation of CO2.
VARIANT #3 : …Global Warming stopped in 1998.
VARIANT #4 : …more CO2 comes out of volcanoes than mankind’s activities.
VARIANT #5 : …the trees and plants breathe in Carbon Dioxide again.
VARIANT #6 : …the computer models are wrong.
VARIANT #7 : …the observational data is not good enough.
VARIANT #8 : …CO2 will only cause 1 degree C (more) of Global Warming.

MYTH #4 : Satellites and weather balloons disprove Global Warming theory.

MYTH #5 : The Oceans are cooling.

MYTH #6 : There’s not enough Fossil Fuel to burn to cause dangerous Climate Change.

MYTH #7 : Rising Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere is due to Global Warming.

MYTH #8 : The glaciers/ice sheets are getting thicker.

MYTH #9 : It’s all a conspiracy theory…
VARIANT #1 : …to raise taxes
VARIANT #2 : …to make us all afraid so they can control us.

MYTH #10 : Scientists are always changing their minds…
VARIANT #1 : …In the 1970’s they said we were heading for an Ice Age

MYTH #11 : Arctic Sea Ice is recovering

Helpful links in answering these myths, obfuscations and cherry-picking fallacies :-

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11462-climate-change-a-guide-for-the-perplexed.html
“Climate change: A guide for the perplexed”

http://royalsociety.org/downloaddoc.asp?id=6220
“Climate Change controversies – a simple guide”

http://royalsociety.org/downloaddoc.asp?id=1630
“A guide to facts and fictions about climate change”

http://www.youtube.com/user/greenman3610
“Crock of the Week” – calm and collected videos by Peter Sinclair

http://www.grist.org/article/series/skeptics/
http://www.panda.org/about_our_earth/aboutcc/cause/climate_sceptics/
“How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: Responses to the most common skeptical arguments on global warming A Grist Special Series”

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Global_warming_skeptic
“Skeptics’ disputes with the IPCC”

http://www.operationnoah.org/resources/factsheets/countering-climate-change-sceptics-and-handling-tricky-questions
“Operation Noah : Countering Climate Change Sceptics”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2009/mar/10/climate-change-denier
“Climate change deniers: failsafe tips on how to spot them”

http://scienceblogs.com/denialism
Science Blogs : Denialism

http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2005/04/gwsbingo.php
“Global Warming Sceptic Bingo”

http://www.nerc.ac.uk/about/consult/debate/debate.aspx?did=1&pg=1
NERC Climate Change Challenge

http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2008/07/how_to_talk_to_a_sceptic.php
“How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic”

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/index/#Responses
“Responses to common contrarian arguments”


This is a snippet from the e-mail I received today from a Climate Change Denier. See if you can pick out the myths from the facts (and there are couple) :-


“Yes climate change is very real, has been on going for 4.5 billion years. Has been cyclic for the last 12000 years – since the end of the Younger Dryas. We have probably just topped out warming in 1998 following the peak of the solar cycle (1988) associated with the modern warm period (which followed the Medieval warm period and the Roman warm period). The fact that we are not yet growing grapes in N England suggests to me that the modern warm period did not attain the height of the Roman warm period. With about 5 weeks of Summer melt still to go, its beginning to look like the Arctic Sea ice will show further “healing” compared to the last 2 summers – the summer of 2007 being the one that really set the scare mongering into overdrive. http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/ Doubling CO2 will lead to about 1˚C warming – and there’s not enough high ERoEI FF on the planet for us to reach a doubling.”


3 thoughts on “Climate Denialism for Beginners”

  1. “The fact that we are not yet growing grapes in N England suggests to me that the modern warm period did not attain the height of the Roman warm period”.

    What world does this person live in?

    The ‘Romans’ never did grow grapes for wine, I presume this is what Climate Change Denier means. The idea of the Yorkshire Dales being like the Chablis region is yet another myth!

    Members of the Roman Catholic Church did grow grapes for wine in the (now) UK, when Christianity first came to these shores, but only for communion reasons when simply touching the wine with ones lips means communion has taken place.

    When they grew these grapes they were the hardiest variety they could find and grew the vines on a South facing slope in a small area that was usually walled and tree screened to the rear and side areas to provide a micro-climate.

    This brewing talent is why there are still many monestries and monks involved in brewing wine, beers and liquers today. Trappist beers, Chartreuse and Benedictine Buckfast Wine come to mind.

  2. I think you forgot the one about the deniers saying that CO2 has never been shown to be the driver of the earth’s climate. They say that past glacial periods were caused by the Sun or something like that. Ha HA. They don’t understand that it’s been CO2 all along. Could you provide a link which shows conclusively that CO2 is the driver, and that the Sun has nothing to do with the earth’s climate. The Sun, part of our climate, what rubbish.

    [ Jo Abbess writes :

    Although I think you are a Climate Change Denier, I am going to allow this comment, but not without commenting on it myself.

    The energy from the Sun is of course the ultimate source of most of the Earth’s heat, and therefore the reason that the surface of the planet is a cosy approx 15 (or so) degrees Centigrade or Celsius above freezing, and not approx 20 (or so) degrees below.

    Changes in the orbit of the Earth around the Sun, precessing on its poles, a la Milankovitch, coupled with responses on Earth, has caused repeated glaciation and warming in the past millenia.

    However, it’s not the flux of the Sun (marked by changes in sunspots) that is causing recent changes in the global temperature, nor is it cosmic rays, and it’s highly dubious as to whether cosmic rays have ever really had an effect in that department.

    All you need to do is refer to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report from 2007, for example the Summary for Policymakers to find graphic evidence of how Global Warming is strongly influenced by mankind’s activities :-

    There’s no way you can hindcast the current Global Warming unless you factor in anthropogenic forcing.

    I suppose now you’re going to say you don’t trust the work of the IPCC or something, but they’re all far finer Climate Change Scientists that either you or I, or Ian Plimer for that matter.

    ]

  3. Jo,

    Nice post. Feel free to direct folks to my website above if they need the real science in a relatively easy to read site.

    Here is a quote that you might like:

    Historian of science, Naomi Oreskes of UC San Diego, states “Scientific knowledge is the intellectual and social concsensus of affiliated experts based on the weight of available empirical evidence, and evaluated according to accepted methodologies. If we feel that a policy question deserves to be informed by scientific knowledge, then we have no choice but to ask, what is the consensus of experts on this matter.”

    The 2007 IPCC reports are that consensus.

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