Who exactly is the one pounding the table?

A last post on the Mair/Cruz questioning on climate change. Two days after the hearing, Mr. Mair made a video: Climate Denial is Not an Option: A Message to Ted Cruz. I had the hope that he and his advisors would have looked into the data and brought some arguments to the table. That would have been interesting. But in that reagard, this message was disappointing. It became clear rather quickly that he wasn’t prepared to argue the arguments and instead threw in some other fallacies.

But, as a friend to big polluters, you derailed the whole hearing with misinformation, claiming there was a “pause” in rising global temperatures – misinformation already debunked by scientists and the non-partisan Politifact.com.

It is of course perfectly possible that Cruz is a friend of big polluters, but this has no relevance to their discussion. Both men agreed that climate change is about rising temperatures, so shouldn’t the arguments be related to whether temperatures are increasing or not? Or which dataset is the most reliable to prove this? Or what is the relevance of the pause? The arguments shouldn’t certainly not related to whether Cruz is a friend to big polluters or whether someone believes the pause is misinformation. The particular claim that Senator Cruz made (that according to the satellite record there is a pause in global temperatures in the last 18 years) was factual and could be checked. Mair also agreed that the satellite data are “objective numbers”. So it is hard to understand why Mr. Mair called this “misinformation already debunked”. It showed that he still didn’t look at the satellite datasets. He was even more vague than he was at the hearing by pointing to the “scientists” (in the hearing he pointed specifically to the Union of Concerned Scientists and NOAA). He now also points to Politifact. I don’t really know whether they are the ones that would settle the scientific debate. As far as I know they are fact checking politics, not science.

His defense at the hearing was the argument of authority and this message was actually more of the same. It was build on numbers he cited to make his point. A pity there were only three out of seven numbers that had anything to do with the discussion with Senator Cruz.

0: The number of accurate data points you shared when attempting to claim that the climate wasn’t changing. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, average global temperatures have been steadily rising for the last three decades.

That was a bit strange. As far as I know, the only one who relied on data was Cruz. He shared that he was relying on the satellite records. On the other hand, Mr. Mair only argument was something like “I concur with 97% of the scientists”. So, in fact, zero is the number of accurate data point that Mr. Mair himself shared when attempting to back up his claim in the hearing and in this message. So the number zero apparently didn’t advance his case

97%: The percentage of scientists who agree that the climate is changing and that human activity is the cause.

That was basically the argument he used during the questioning and it didn’t advance his case either. If he had a look at the papers were that number originated from (the surveys of Doran & Zimmerman, Anderegg and Cook), then he would have noticed that these surveys just asked whether those scientists believed that temperatures increased in the last decades/century (which is the case) and whether this was partly to blame on humans (which is also the case).

What they didn’t ask for was whether that increase in temperatures is dangerous and action is needed. But this is exactly how he used it (his argumentation is that climate change, meaning the dangerous stuff caused by humans, has such a huge impact on the poor). The discrepancy is there because he equals Global Warming (an increase of temperatures) with Catasthropic Anthropogenic Global Warming (an increase of temperatures with catasthropic effects caused by humans). When he heard that there is an increase of temperatures, he immediately jumped to the conclusion that this is a dangerous thing and action is needed. So it is something of his own making and doesn’t come from the surveys he so frequently cited without actually realizing what they mean.

2015: expected to be the hottest ever recorded.

The reason why 2015 could become the hottest year on record is the use of one specific dataset (of several that estimates global temperatures) that suddenly changed because of a discrepancy between measurements that were not reliably measured to begin with and by this action they became an outlier. Relying on that one, not reliable, dataset would be sherry picking.

When I read the written testimony I had the impression that Mr. Mair and his advisers where confusing CO2 with real pollution. This message confirmed that impression. The rest of the numbers were about pollution that affect human health. What he claimed by those numbers could well be right, but it has nothing to do with the discussion he had with Senator Cruz.

In this message once again showed that he and his advisors were ignorant on this matter. An interesting thing was how he started:

There’s an old lawyerly adage that “if you don’t have the law on your side, argue the facts. If you don’t have the facts on your side, pound the table.” You did a very good job pounding the table this week.

Ted Cruz was clearly arguing and referred to facts, while Mr. Mair basically argued from authority. Not even his own authority, but that from somebody else and it was clear he could’t assess himself whether the statement he used so often is actually true or not. So in my humble opinion, it was him who was pounding the table. I wasn’t really impressed by this message and looking at the comments he got on that page, a lot of people were neither.

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