Monthly Archives: February 2015

Do skeptics “deny the science”?

To promote the campaign “Call out the Climate Change Deniers” of “Organizing For Action”, an email was sent to its supporters. In it there was this statement I recognized as a common repeated message: “In reality, the debate on the basics is over”. Not really surprising, we hear that in the media on an almost daily basis in different variations like “The debate is over”, “The science is settled”,…

As often in climate communication, there is a core of truth in it. As far as I know, there is not much difference between alarmist and skeptics when it comes to the basics of global warming.

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What do those 97% agree on exactly?

The Organizing For Action staff seems to have a new campaign on the Obama website: Call out the Climate Change Deniers. They list a number of politicians that “deny the science of climate change” and the suggestion to call them out on it. How low can one go? They are obviously willing to do a lot of effort just to evade debate.

When visiting their campaign page, something caught my attention. It was the statement at the top of the page:

97% OF THE CLIMATE SCIENTISTS AGREE that climate change is real and man-made, and affecting communities in every part of the country.

OFA campaign call out deniers

There is that 97% consensus myth again. I remembered last time when they used a similar misrepresentation. Did they even look at those publications or even at the abstracts studying that illusive 97% consensus? I think they didn’t do this effort, not before and not now.

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Not happy vilifying skeptics, just wanting to trick them into our solution instead

It is never a good idea to call names to those who disagree, especially when this is the only (or even a large part) of the argument. It could as well backfire. This is well known by skeptics for a long time already, yet apparently some alarmist minds slowly coming to the same conclusion. But alarmist being alarmists, it rapidly starts to deteriorate from there.

This was no different in the article Overcoming Social Barriers To Climate Consensus from The Conversation. The authors are a lecturer of Monash University and a professor of University of Western Sydney, who published the paper Public division about climate change rooted in conflicting socio-political identities, published in Nature.

It started rather encouraging for skeptics:

It can be tempting to think that people who disagree with you are mad, bad or simply stupid. However, not only are such judgments usually wrong, but telling people that they are stupid is unlikely to convince them of the merit of your own view.

Except the last part of the last sentence, which already gives a glimpse of what’s to come. They want to convince those who disagree but, as we will see later in that article, not with arguments.

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Two candles to blow!

Today marks the second anniversary since I started this blog. In those two years, I managed to write 200 blog posts (this one is post 201), which works out to an average of an entry every three/four days. That is about double of what I envisioned when starting this blog.

Time to reflect on the past year.

After those 2 years I still like blogging and, surprisingly, I have never been at a loss for topics. My only problem has been finding the time to finish posts before something else interesting popped up. For that reason, several posts got abandoned before they were finished.

In the last year, views were on the rise, but got a incredible boost during my visit of the Cook and Mann talks in Bristol last year in September. At that time this blog got linked at WUWT and when it all settled, it gave me a five time increase of views. Thanks, Antony.

Twitter shares exploded from the second half of December last year. Before that, posts got around 20 – 30 Twitter shares, sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less. Now posts with 60 – 70 shares are more rule rather than exception, there is even one post with 96 shares and still increasing.

When looking at the posts themselves, this is the top 5 of posts published during the last year:

  1. One analogy too far (it was linked by WUWT)
  2. Attribution certainty differences between AR4 and AR5 (I wrote this post in the first half year of blogging. Probably got attention again in the previous year in the wake of the official release of AR5)
  3. Climate communication: honest reporting or solution-based reporting?
  4. Do as we tell, not as we do
  5. Wind breaking all records … for as long as it takes.

Countries in which this blog is viewed most in the last years are:

  1. United States of America (33.5%)
  2. Germany (20.3%)
  3. United Kingdom (10.7%)
  4. Australia (8.9%)
  5. Canada (8.2%)

I really appreciate you all taking the time to read/follow/share my posts and hope you will like this blog for the next year.

What skeptics say and what alarmists hear

At the end of last month, scientias.nl (a Dutch science news site), published an article called: American Senate: “Climate change is no hoax” (Dutch) about the U.S. Senate voting on whether climate change is a hoax.

I must agree that I am not really impressed by politicians voting whether global warming is true or not, but in this case it is not particularly interesting what is being said, but how it is being reported. The author describes that, in the wake of the Keystone XL pipeline bill, Democrats in the U.S. senate proposed to vote an amendment that “Climate change is real and not a hoax”. Which was adopted 98 against 1 (apparently a Democrat). So all Republicans votes for. He then makes the allusion that senator James Inhofe didn’t believe that climate change is a hoax anymore because he votes “Yes” to that resolution, despite having written the book “The Greatest Hoax”.

I had to chuckle reading this.

“Climate change is real” is such a broad term, it could mean about anything. “Climate change” is not really defined, so it could be everything from “climate changes, that is what it does” (the skeptic position) to “we humans change the climate in a dangerous way” (the alarmist position). The author’s vision is probably going more towards the latter definition. And he didn’t seem to grasp Inhofe’s perception even when quoting him that “the climate is indeed changing, but that the hoax is people actually thinking they can change the climate”.

I got more interested in what was really said. Although Scientias (and other media) only reported on this specific amendment and Inhofe assumingly seeing the light, I found there were actually more amendments voted. A related one was that human activity significantly contributes to climate change. This time 49 of 54 Republicans voted against, therefor disproving the amendment. This put a different light on the issue, but was for some reason not reported by Scientias.

Now I had to chuckle even more.

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Just forgot to mention persistence or unfounded certainty on anthropogenic warming?

Last two weeks were quite hectic. Several projects kept me busy and not much time to read, let alone writing blog posts. Now I got some more time, I try to finish some posts that I started two weeks ago. In this last post I wrote about the online news reporting of the VRT news. One of them was Worldwide heat records can’t be a coincidence anymore (Dutch). In it they regurgitated the warmest-year-according-to-NASA stuff, but went much further and reporting that it is highly unlikely that this is a coincidence (tranlated from Dutch):

2014 was the warmest year since the beginning of the measurements in 1880. The climate on earth is an erratic phenomenon with peaks and valleys, so that could be a coincidence. That the long series of temperature records of the last decade is a coincidence, however, is highly unlikely.

Press Agency AP asked three statisticians (John Grego of the University of South Carolina, Kai Zhu of Stanford University en David Peterson, a retired statistician of Duke University), to calculate what are the odds that these temperatures are the result of pure chance. They came with following numbers:

    The odds that:

  • the 3 warmest years since the beginning of the measurements are 2014, 2010 and 2005: 1 in 3,341
  • 9 out of 10 warmest year fall in this century: 1 in 650 million
  • 13 out of 15 hottest years fall in last 15 years: 1 in 41 trillion (41×1012)
  • 15 years since 2000 all fall within the top 20 of warmest years ever: 1 in 1,5 quadrillion (1.5×1015)
  • the last 358 months were all warmer than average in the 20th century: 1 in 1 googol (1×10100)

Looks impressive, but there is of course something really wrong with it: this is of course not how the climate system works! The temperatures we experience per year might be chaotic, but not random. The assumption of those statisticians is indeed that what we experience is acting randomly, like some kind of cosmic lottery. This is obviously not the case. The temperature of the Earth is influenced by many variables, not taken into account by those statisticians.

In the end, the AP reporter who originally brought the story had to eat crow in Clarification: Hottest Year story:

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