Inhofe recycles long-debunked denier talking points — will the media be fooled (again)?

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"Inhofe recycles long-debunked denier talking points — will the media be fooled (again)?"

Who will the media believe this time: The Senate’s leading climate denier, James Inhofe (R-OK), or their own lying eyes?

Deniers like Inhofe have a serious media problem — an ever growing number of studies, real world observations, and credible scientific bodies all point to human-caused emissions as the increasingly dominant cause of planetary warming and dangerous climate change.

What’s a denier to do? The answer is simple: Repackage previously debunked disinformation, release it as a “new” so-called “Full Senate Report” full of hysterical headlines, push it through right-wing news outlets, and hope the traditional media bites. Why not? It worked before.

Here is the screaming headline this week from Inhofe staffer Marc Morano

UN Blowback: More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims

Study: Half of warming due to Sun! –Sea Levels Fail to Rise?

Yes, it is tiresome debunking such nonsense for the umpteenth time, so let me try to keep this as short as possible.

SEA LEVELS ARE STILL RISING MORE THAN 50% FASTER NOW THAN PRE-1990

On what does Inhofe’s office base the “Sea Levels Fail to Rise” claim? Nothing more than a single blog post by a former TV meteorologist, Anthony Watts, who runs a denial website. That post claims “We’ve been waiting for the UC [Univesity of Colorado] web page to be updated with the most recent sea level data. It finally has been updated for 2008. It looks like the steady upward trend of sea level as measured by satellite has stumbled since 2005. The 60 day line in blue tells the story.”

University of Colorado, Boulder

Does it look to you like the recent data shows that the rate of sea level rise has slowed, as Watts says, let alone stopped, as Inhofe suggests? If so, I suggest you get your eyes checked. In particular, look at the most recent data points at the upper right. They are precisely on the long-term trend.

For an even clearer picture without the fluctuations that are driven by short-term temperature changes (i.e. last winter was cold), go to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s key indicator page for sea level rise (click here). Role your mouse over the final data point in the upper right from August 2008. Again, it is almost precisely on the long-term trend.

Yet Inhofe’s office looks at the data and sees “Sea Levels Fail to Rise?” Who are you going to believe, traditional media — Inhofe, or your own lying eyes? In fact, JPL has two nice side-by-side graphs of sea level rise that show the rate of sea level rise since 1993 has consistently been about 70% higher than pre-1993 — a far bigger jump than the climate models had projected:

Sea Level Graphic

The sea level rise data is in fact a reason to be more worried today about the pace and scale of global warming, not less.

THE SUN PLAYS ONLY A SMALL ROLL IN RECENT WARMING

No matter how many studies debunk the myth that the sun is a dominant cause of recent warming, the deniers just can’t let go. Inhofe’s office shouts “Study: Half of warming due to Sun!” On what basis? Again, a blog post by a denier — this time one who selectively quotes from a new Geophysical Research Letters study (subs. req’d). The blog and Inhofe’s office write:

… they conclude that “Our results are in agreement with studies based on NH temperature reconstructions [Scafetta et al., 2007] revealing that only up to approximately 50% of the observed global warming in the last 100 years can be explained by the Sun.”

First, let’s give the full quote from the GRL study:

However, during the industrial period (1850-2000) solar forcing became less important and only the CO2 concentrations show a significant correlation with the temperature record. Our results are in agreement with studies based on NH temperature reconstructions [Scafetta and West, 2007] revealing that only up to approximately 50% of the observed global warming in the last 100 years can be explained by the Sun.

Oops. The study shows that in the industrial period, it is carbon dioxide, not solar forcing, that is significantly correlated with the temperature record. The authors were not saying that their study found half the warming in the last century can be explained by the sun. It was saying their study found that only CO2 had a significant correlation, that the sun was not significantly correlated to temperature, and that the sun was clearly under half the contribution.

Second, Scarfetta and West’s 2007 paper has been thoroughly debunked by RealClimate here, which notes, “S&W make a number of unjustified assumptions and sweeping statements which turns it into a mere speculation. In a way, the conclusions are already given when S&W assume that the sun is the predominant cause from the outset.”

Third, even the very few analyses that conclude the sun was a significant contributor in the past century find that the sun’s impact relative to carbon dioxide has been shrinking (since, of course, greenhouse gas emissions and concentrations have been soaring). So, a statement that up to about 50% of the warming in the last hundred years can be explained by the sun turns into at most 25% to 35% of the warming since 1980 can be explained by the sun in Scarfetta and West’s 2006 paper, which, in any case, was debunked by RealClimate here.

Fourth, there is a large literature on this subject which makes clear the sun’s contribution to the accelerated warming of the last few decades is minimal. Since the myth won’t die, I will repeat some of them here.

The Naval Research Laboratory and NASA reported in September that, “if anything,” the sun contributed “a very slight overall cooling in the past 25 years.” The study, “How natural and anthropogenic influences alter global and regional surface temperatures: 1889 to 2006,” found:

According to this analysis, solar forcing contributed negligible long-term warming in the past 25 years and 10% of the warming in the past 100 years.

A major 2007 study concluded:

Here we show that over the past 20 years, all the trends in the Sun that could have had an influence on the Earth’s climate have been in the opposite direction to that required to explain the observed rise in global mean temperatures.

More studies can be found on the excellent debunking website, Skeptical Science:

  • Ammann 2007: “Although solar and volcanic effects appear to dominate most of the slow climate variations within the past thousand years, the impacts of greenhouse gases have dominated since the second half of the last century.”
  • Foukal 2006 concludes “The variations measured from spacecraft since 1978 are too small to have contributed appreciably to accelerated global warming over the past 30 years.”
  • Usoskin 2005 conclude “during these last 30 years the solar total irradiance, solar UV irradiance and cosmic ray flux has not shown any significant secular trend, so that at least this most recent warming episode must have another source.”
  • Stott 2003 increased climate model sensitivity to solar forcing and still found “most warming over the last 50 yr is likely to have been caused by increases in greenhouse gases.”
  • Solanki 2003 concludes “the Sun has contributed less than 30% of the global warming since 1970.”
  • Lean 1999 concludes “it is unlikely that Sun-climate relationships can account for much of the warming since 1970″³.
  • Waple 1999 finds “little evidence to suggest that changes in irradiance are having a large impact on the current warming trend.”
  • Frolich 1998 concludes “solar radiative output trends contributed little of the 0.2°C increase in the global mean surface temperature in the past decade.”

FORGET PADDED, LAUGHABLE LISTS: SCIENCE, NOT SCIENTISTS, TELLS US HUMANS ARE WARMING THE PLANET DANGEROUSLY

Inhofe’s Office claims “More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims.”

Yet the vast majority of those names are simply repeated from a 2007 list that was widely debunked, see Inhofe recycles unscientific attacks on global warming” and here and here and here. Let me repeat what I wrote at the time.

“Padded” would be an extremely generous description of this list of “prominent scientists.” Some would use the word “laughable.” For instance, since when have economists, who are pervasive on this list, become scientists, and why should we care what they think about climate science?

I’m not certain a dozen on the list would qualify as “prominent scientists,” and many of those, like Freeman Dyson — a theoretical physicist — have no expertise in climate science whatsoever. I have previously debunked his spurious and uninformed claims, although I’m not sure why one has to debunk someone who seriously pushed the idea of creating a rocket ship powered by detonating nuclear bombs! Seriously.

Even Ray Kurzweil, not a scientist but a brilliant inventor, is on the list. Why? Because he apparently told CNN and the Washington Post:

These slides that Gore puts up are ludicrous, they don’t account for anything like the technological progress we’re going to experience…. None of the global warming discussions mention the word ‘nanotechnology. Yet nanotechnology will eliminate the need for fossil fuels within 20 years…. I think global warming is real but it has been modest thus far – 1 degree f. in 100 years. It would be concern if that continued or accelerated for a long period of time, but that’s not going to happen.

And people say I’m a techno-optimist. So Kurzweil actually believes in climate science — rather than the reverse, as Inhofe claims — but thinks catastrophic global warming won’t happen because of a techno-fix that stops emissions. If wishes were horses … everyone would get trampled to death. In the real world, energy breakthroughs are very rare, as we’ve seen, and it’s even rarer when they make a difference in under several decades.

Then we have the likes of this from Inhofe’s list:

CBS Chicago affiliate Chief Meteorologist Steve Baskerville expressed skepticism that there is a “consensus” about mankind’s role in global warming.

Wow, a TV weatherman expressed skepticism. If only the IPCC had been told of this in time, they could have scrapped their entire report. Seriously, Wikipedia says “Baskerville is an alumnus of Temple University and holds a Certificate in Broadcast Meteorology from Mississippi State University.” I guess Inhofe has a pretty low bar for “prominent scientists” — but then again he once had science fiction writer Michael Crichton testify at a hearing on climate science.

I don’t mean to single out Baskerville. Inhofe has a lot of meteorologists on his list, including Weather Channel Founder John Coleman. I have previously explained why Coleman doesn’t know what he is talking about on climate, and why meteorologists in general have no inherent credibility on climatology. In any case, they obviously are NOT prominent scientists.

Then we have people like French geomagnetism (!) scientist Vincent Courtillot, geophysicist Louis Le Mou«l, geophysicist Claude All¨gre, geomagnetism (!!) scientist Frederic Fluteau, geomagnetism (!!!) scientist Yves Gallet, and scientist Agnes Genevey — whose “research” on global warming is brutally picked apart by RealClimate here and especially here (and again here by other scientists), who together “expose a pattern of suspicious errors and omissions that pervades” their work.

So, yes, the Inhofe list is utterly ignorable compared to either the IPCC report or the Bali declaration by actual prominent climate scientists. The notion it is relevant to the climate debate is laughable, as even a cursuory examination makes clear.

Since Inhofe’s office is beating a dead horse, let me also quote from climate scientist Andrew Dessler, who, at Grist, had a running “The ‘Inhofe 400′ Skeptic of the Day” and repeatedly identified some skeptics who were completely unqualified and others who are qualified but not actually skeptical. One posting deserves repeating here.

Meteorologist George Waldenberger is on the list. In response, George sent an email to Inhofe’s staffers that began:

Take me off your list of 400 (Prominent) Scientists that dispute Man-Made Global warming claims. I’ve never made any claims that debunk the “Consensus”.

You quoted a newspaper article that’s main focus was scoring the accuracy of local weathermen. Hardly Scientific … yet I’m guessing some of your other sources pale in comparison in terms of credibility.

You also didn’t ask for my permission to use these statements. That’s not a very respectable way of doing “research”.

Yet, as Dessler notes, “he’s still on the list.”

And he is still on the “new” 2008 list from Inhofe’s office!

Dessler’s other conclusions:

Second, the more I look through this list, the more it perfectly demonstrates the weakness of the skeptics. The AGU, for example, has 50,000 members, the majority of whom are Ph.D. Earth scientists. Inhofe would have been tickled pink to take any one of them. But he couldn’t. Despite the huge numbers of qualified scientists out there, Inhofe could barely muster a few dozen for his list.

As a result, Inhofe was forced to include on this list people with zero qualifications as well as people who are not actually skeptics. In the end, I estimate that his list is 80-90 percent bogus — which leaves a few dozen credible climate skeptics on the list. Hmm, just what I’ve been saying all along.

Third, several commenters here as well as other websites have taken it upon themselves to look at the qualifications of the authors of the IPCC. Despite their best efforts, none of them has been able to provide names of any authors of the working group 1 report that are similarly unqualified.

It seems that a careful analysis of the situation shows clearly that the scientific consensus is as robust as ever. Keep tryin’, Jim.

My only disagreement with Dessler: I’d end by saying “Stop tryin’, Jim — please!”

Given how padded and laughable the 2007 list was, I am not going to waste any time on the new names that Inhofe has added for the 2008 list. I leave that pointless task to others.

Let me make a final point for the media, from my Salon piece, “The cold truth about climate change“:

In fact, science doesn’t work by consensus of opinion. Science is in many respects the exact opposite of decision by consensus. General opinion at one point might have been that the sun goes around the Earth, or that time was an absolute quantity, but scientific theory supported by observations overturned that flawed worldview.

One of the most serious results of the overuse of the term “consensus” in the public discussion of global warming is that it creates a simple strategy for doubters to confuse the public, the press and politicians: Simply come up with as long a list as you can of scientists who dispute the theory. After all, such disagreement is prima facie proof that no consensus of opinion exists.

So we end up with the absurd but pointless spectacle of the leading denier in the U.S. Senate, James Inhofe, R-Okla., who recently put out a list of more than 400 names of supposedly “prominent scientists” who supposedly “recently voiced significant objections to major aspects of the so-called ‘consensus’ on man-made global warming.”

As it turned out, the list is both padded and laughable, containing the opinions of TV weathermen, economists, a bunch of non-prominent scientists who aren’t climate experts, and, perhaps surprisingly, even a number of people who actually believe in the consensus.

But in any case, nothing could be more irrelevant to climate science than the opinion of people on the list such as Weather Channel founder John Coleman or famed inventor Ray Kurzweil (who actually does “think global warming is real”). Or, for that matter, my opinion — even though I researched a Ph.D. thesis at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography on physical oceanography in the Greenland Sea.

What matters is scientific findings — data, not opinions. The IPCC relies on the peer-reviewed scientific literature for its conclusions, which must meet the rigorous requirements of the scientific method and which are inevitably scrutinized by others seeking to disprove that work. That is why I cite and link to as much research as is possible, hundreds of studies in the case of this article. Opinions are irrelevant.

As Inhofe’s office likes to brag (see here), his 2007 “report” garnered tremendous coverage from the traditional media.

The truth is there is no news in Inhofe’s new report — just a recycling of long-debunked denier talking points and padded, irrelevant lists of names. The only news is whether the media will get suckered by it — and, sadly, given how many times they have been suckered already by the deniers, even that doesn’t qualify as news.

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41 Responses to Inhofe recycles long-debunked denier talking points — will the media be fooled (again)?

  1. paulm says:

    I thought you were going to keep this one short!

  2. Thank you so much Mr. Romm for this posting. My brother is a legislative assistant for a Republican Congressman and sent me the link to Inhofe’s report yesterday. He was pretty smug!

    I just sent him the link to your posting to see what he thinks about that!!

  3. Dennis says:

    Has there been a complete, written rebuttal to the original document?

    The document on the website today is over 200 pages long and is essentially a series of write-ups like “Dr. X, a scientist at place Y (it might mention his role there) says [insert Anti-Global-Warming comment here].” There will usually be a link (typically to a blog or newspaper), and if any of the scientist’s works are mentioned they typically are opinion pieces.

    I haven’t read the full 200+ pages, nor gone through the links. It’s like finding a needle in a haystack to look for actual peer-reviewed, published science there. And I am not a scientist. The trouble is that if you read the title and see how big it is, the casual read thinks there’s a lot of science there. And I’m hearing a lot of crap from people who call this “science.”

    Has anyone gone through and documented the appalling lack of science?

  4. Future archeologists will surely be impressed with this – the greatest and most persistent delusion in all of human history. Certainly the most harmful.

    This deserves to cap the unwritten update of “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” Charles MacKay published in 1841. Wikipedia says; The book chronicles its targets in three parts: “National Delusions”, “Peculiar Follies”, and “Philosophical Delusions”. The subjects of Mackay’s debunking include alchemy, beards (influence of politics and religion on), witch-hunts, crusades and duels

    * “Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one!”

    * “Of all the offspring of Time, Error is the most ancient, and is so old and familiar an acquaintance, that Truth, when discovered, comes upon most of us like an intruder, and meets the intruder’s welcome.”

    http://robotics.caltech.edu/~mason/Delusions/index.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraordinary_Popular_Delusions_and_the_Madness_of_Crowds

  5. I think we are missing an opportunity here. His name is unique enough to live on in our language somehow. Proposing some definitions:

    The Inhofe Effect
    Where an elected leader – first influenced by constituent business interests – then exceeds the boundaries of common sense by delusional rantings.

    or

    inhofe – – noun – an expulsion of fetid methane gas from recently melted tundra dreck.
    “Did you see the size of that inhofe over there?”

    or

    to inhofe – verb –
    1. to adamantly deny farting in any enclosed space, claiming the smell is natural elevator fragrance.
    “He tried to inhofe it, but we all knew”

    2. to convince any population to deny their common perceptions and believe facts that are dangerously contrary.
    ” When you get to the podium, just inhofe it for 10 minutes.”

  6. Anne says:

    Why didn’t the D’s get someone strong to run against him and beat him once and for all? Where was the climate change political community on this? His ranking position on EPW is a thorny problem, of course, less thorny than before, but he can still cause trouble, slow things down, and be a pain in the arse. Seems a shame to waste time and kilobytes refuting this junk — is simply ignoring him, as one would a misbehaving child, a viable option? Recalling favorite line in 2007: Boxer to Inhoffe: Elections have consequences. Just not strong enough ones this go ’round.

  7. Bob Wright says:

    There is an old story of how a politician (Bebe Rebozo?) halted a bank from building several branches in one county with an expert report. He then purchsaed the land for the proposed branches, waited a short period of time, and then took the very same report to the county and got approval to lease the very same properties to the bank in question.

    It doesn’t matter what is right and wrong to some politicians. Winning is everything, even if they sell Grandma to the slave traders. Imhofe’s guys searched the world for every cranky skeptic with impressive credentials they could find. Dr. Domingos from Madrid who won some awards and invented numerical something or other… These “Republicans” have their “expert opinions” and Fox Neocon Channel will happily broadcast them. Meanwhile the Rev. Wright, ACORN and William Ayers BS goes on and on.

    Unfortunately most of these old guys probably won’t live long enough to see what they are doing to their grandchildren with their distraction and obscurantism.

  8. caerbannog says:


    Why didn’t the D’s get someone strong to run against him and beat him once and for all

    The big problem is that we are talking about Oklahomans here. When it comes to science/science-policy, Inhofe accurately reflects the majority view in his state.

    You may as well try to teach evolution to their kids.

  9. DavidONE says:

    > “…just a recycling of long-debunked denier talking points and padded, irrelevant lists of names.”

    The other whopper is ‘cherry picking’. Take the quote from Joanne Simpson:

    “Since I am no longer affiliated with any organization nor receiving any funding, I can speak quite frankly….As a scientist I remain skeptical.”

    Note the ellipsis and what they leave out:

    > What should we as a nation do? Decisions have to be made on incomplete information. In this case, we must act on the recommendations of Gore and the IPCC because if we do not reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and the climate models are right, the planet as we know it will in this century become unsustainable. But as a scientist I remain skeptical.

    I wonder why he used those ellipsis?!

  10. Umlud says:

    I think that Mr. Inhofe won’t believe in global warming and sea-level rise, even if the sea managed to spread all the way up to his state of OK.

  11. DavidONE says:

    richard pauli:

    > “…the greatest and most persistent delusion in all of human history.”

    Isn’t it? I’m fascinated (when I’m not sickened) by the absolute delusion of those who will not accept the reality in front of them. Any statement from any source that supports what they want to be true supersedes scientific reality.

    I now take the opinion that the time for reasonable debate with these people has passed. They deserve the same consideration as people who believe the Earth is ~6000 years old.

  12. DavidONE says:

    P.S. I should add that people who believe in a 6,000 year old Earth are relatively harmless, unlike the Deniers and Delayers. They are deadly.

  13. Larry Colemamn says:

    Joe, good rebuttal to Inhofe’s nonsense.
    Although it is not central to that rebuttal, I see the role of consensus as critical to science. It one of the three things that, together, distinguish science from non-science, the other being observations and theory/models. It is consensus that gives science its power, that lets it forge ahead while non-sciences continue to rehash the same old questions. Without consensus, science would still be debating relativity and quantum mechanics.
    You are right when you say that deniers take advantage of the consensus idea by trotting out their “experts” who disagree with the alleged consensus. But that in no way dilutes the power of consensus nor its role in science. The proper response is to do exactly what you did, i.e., show that the experts are not. It might also be necessary to remind folks that consensus does not mean unanimity, and that there are always people who disagree with the rock solid consensus. That, also, is part of science.
    As an aside, I never let deniers get away with with claiming that Galileo was not part of the consensus, Wrong – only if you include the Church among the scientists, whereas it actually played the role of those with non-science agendas today, people we call deniers. The astronomers of the time agreed with Galileo…how could they not?
    Nor do I agree when they claim that science once thought that the Sun went around the Earth. Science as we know it pretty much started with Galileo, who was a heliocentrist. The geocentrists were on the road to science but never got to the point where evidence was supreme (and there was no consensus anyway).

  14. darth says:

    The point about science not being about consensus is a good one. Actually it doesn’t matter if no one believed in climate change – that wouldn’t change the fact that it is happening.

    It’s really not a matter of opinion is it?

  15. jorleh says:

    1+1=2.

    CO2 in the atmosphere keeps the lower atmosphere and the upper sea (and land) tens of degrees of Celsius warmer on the average.

    To deny this fact is to deny one´s intelligence. To deny the AGW is to declare oneself to be an idiot.

  16. John Nicol says:

    I would be interested to know what your qualifications might be for making such a determined bid to support the hypothesis of Anthropogenic Global Warming i.e. man’s contribution to carbon dioxide.

    Sure the sea may be rising, the earth may be warming, the ice may be melting but no one has proven that all this results from man made CO2.

    If you take the time to read Chapter 8 of the IPCC Report AR4 2007 you will find all of the myriad uncertainties which are attached to the use of the models – can’t model clouds properly, can’t include effects of El Nino and La Nina, don’t actually know what it would mean by way of the model’s accuracy if they were to be able to model correctly the global temperatures from 1990 to 2008.

    In order to claim any credibility for the models, they must be able to produce correct results for these years using input data and parameters from the previous 50 years or so. In order to calculate what will happen in 2020 for instance, there must be parametric input for 2019, 2018, 2017 …… If you ca’nt get these right then you have no correct data to start the programme searching for the nest period. It is no use saying, as some do, that:

    “because of the El Nino in 1998, and the continuing El Nino like conditions thereafter until 2004 and then La Nina conditions still in evidence but which we can’t model either, you can’t expect us to be able to project the correct temperature for these years. When La Nina goes away yoiu will see a return to warming.”

    It might be news to some, but there is always going to be cyclical changes betweeen these two conditions. there is perhaps six months when the conditions of the Pcific ocean point to something intermediate, and which presumably the models can handle. The period of the cyles change contiuously so the conditions are not yet predictable in any way whatsoever. The experimental models are therefore simply incapable of projecting what the conditions will be in 2020, 2030, 2040, 2050. A lot of fundamental evidence from physicists, spectroscopists and other scientists who have actually worked with the emissions and absorptions of gases in the laboratory also indicates that CO2 cannot have the effects proposed by Arrhenius in 1896, an outdated theory STILL USED BY THE MODELS TO CALCULTE a so-called forcing for the models which must invariably show warming. There are two clear reasons for this:

    1. If you inject an assumed sample of energy into the atmosphere and do not take account of the fact that it warms the air in the same way as air-surface contact and evaporation over the 70% of the earth which is ocean, you will get the wrong answer. You MUST get warming because you have assumed an increase in the energy going into the atmosphere. Thermodynamics abd conservation require that you get warming. What actually happens when more Green House Gases are added, as on a humid cloudy night, the energy is redistributed, not increased. The same amount of energy comes from the sun and is radiated by the earth. If you further assume that the absorbed radiation is immediately reradiated up and down and somehow miraculaously escapes immediate reabsorption and travels up and down as a radiation field, not as energy in the air which moves up because of convection, you will get the wrong answer. The IPCC models are guilty of all of these infringements of real physical behaviour. Their excuse is again: “but we can’t model it as it is, we have to use approximations”. Too bad. They should model it as it is or not at all, or if they do, please don’t ask anyone to believe you.

    2. On the admission by the IPCC, the 23 models used are CHOSEN beause their results are plausible since they all show some warming. Models by other, equally capable scientists who include more detail on the behaviour of Green House gases, show a cooling, which the IPCC regards as “Implausible.”

    No it is not all cut and dried. The science is NOT in!

    I would welcome any scientific analyses or comments which might substantially conflict with what I have said above. Please add to this blogg or email me at . Please let me know who you are so we might continue this scientific discussion in a dignified way. Thank you.

    John L Nicol, Physicist.

  17. Barry Brook says:

    I wouldn’t bother answering John Nicol, commenter above. It appears he loves trawling climate blogs and posting this nonsense. He wrote a similar thing on mine recently — and rather than responding to the critiques that followed, he simply recycles his arguments elsewhere:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2008/10/22/nine-policies-to-drag-ourselves-out-of-the-climate-change-mire/#comment-1988

  18. Boris says:

    “Models by other, equally capable scientists who include more detail on the behaviour of Green House gases, show a cooling,”

    I’d love to see a citation, John.

  19. Larry Colemamn says:

    John Nicol imagines that science “proves” things. John, this is science, not mathematics. Surely you do not imagine that science has “proven” relativity or quantum mechanics or evolution or the existence of atoms, etc. If you are a physicist with more than a BS, you should know this.
    It does not advance the discussion to set up straw men in order to knock them down. This is what people with an ideological basis do.
    When I read stuff that begins with this “not proven” nonsense, I quit reading…which is what I did with yours.

  20. Not_Joe says:

    [ironic mode]
    Sure. It is obvious by simple inspection of the blue line in the graph that we have suffered a huge sea level increase since 2005. Any claims that the sea level has stopped increasing are absolutely baseless.
    [ironic mode off]

  21. Aaron d says:

    Great post. This Inhofe’s list is awefully similar to OISM’s 30,000 list (http://www.oism.org/pproject/) in the how deceitful they are in just trying to get a signature from a “scientist” regardless of what science they’re in. It is rather depressing to me that anyone could read that a number of any scientists dispute any scientific finding, without first looking at who the list is put out by, what names are on the list and their qualifications for being included, and what agenda this list would serve. Its funny to me that people with their head screwed on straight, find Inhofe’s list (and OISM’s list) laughable but those who don’t want to take the 5 min to fact check, believe it to be evidence that the “science is still up for debate.”

  22. When a bunch of economists agree on something, perhaps you should listen to them? Economics is the study of choice, and we have a choice of whether we spend hundreds of billions on CO2 emissions, or a billion on clean water. Oh, we should do both? How about we start by doing one? But which one? Time to listen to the economists.

  23. darth: I would point out that equally, if global warming isn’t a fact, then it doesn’t matter how many people believe in it. “Consensus” is an a-scientific idea. The use of it points to global warming being a creation of politics, not science.

  24. Aaron d says:

    Russell,
    The issue is not just the ‘now’. Clean drinking water is a world wide problem. Though, drinking water problems that will be seen in a 100 yrs if nothing is done about CO2 emissions will pale in comparison. I agree both need to be addressed but to postpone action on climate change is not the answer.

  25. theo says:

    Anyone arguing that the blue line (a particular smoothed fit of the data) is deviating from the overall linear trend would need to:

    1) Provide evidence that the deviation is statistically significant (which it’s not)
    2) Offer a plausible cause for the 2007 change in the trend

    Not_Joe, it’s hard to tell under the “sarcasm,” but I don’t think you really get science. You should probably get back to drawing graphs that look like Mickey Mouse (hint: use polar coordinates).

  26. theo says:

    Time to listen to the economists.

    Yes, they did such a great job predicting the next few years of economic growth, that we should reward them by letting them continue their forecasts to 2050.

    Economists can’t forecast anything. The economic system is infinitely more complex than the climate.

    Given the current shakeup, all the economist-written reports on global warming (Stern report, etc.) aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

    Applying economic analysis to problems with a 50-year horizon is simply nuts.

  27. jre says:

    Two points:

    1) There seems to be an unfortunately widespread belief that “consensus” means “unanimous agreement.” It doesn’t. If it did, a scientific consensus would never exist on any subject. In fact, there is a robust consensus among climate scientists that human activities are causing significant, accelerating changes in the earth’s climate that are likely to be adverse in their impact. The fact that Inhofe’s report needs to cite Louis Hissink and Zbigniew Jaworowski in opposition to that consensus tells you something about just how robust it is.

    2) Barry Brook is, of course, right that John Nicol neither needs nor deserves a reply. However, it is useful for the interested bystander to understand exactly why Nicol is wrong. For a beautifully organized presentation of the science behind climate change, aimed at the intelligent nonexpert, let me recommend David Archer’s Global Warming : Understanding the Forecast. After you have read it, you will be able to sling terms like “skin temperature” and “moist adiabat” with the best of them, and slice pseudo-skeptics like Nicol into chutney faster than a trayful of Ginsu knives.

    I get no kickback from Archer; just liked the book, is all.

  28. Anna Haynes says:

    There’s a problem here. These lists keep emerging from holes in the ground, and you do battle with them as they emerge; the thing to do is to follow the hole back underground, and see if there’s a better spot for cutting off the flow.

    Otherwise, it’s what Hank said – “one partisan can tie up a whole company of the enemy’s troops by sniping from good cover and forcing them to pay attention to him, while maneuvers are going on elsewhere.”

    I did learn something, in explaining to my local denier (and promoter of the “650” list) how he and his readers could use Google Scholar to see who’s an expert and who isn’t (suggested by Hank, btw, and crudely formalized here) – the results were interesting. Turns out our denier is a caveat emptor kind of guy; he sees error-checking as the reader’s job, not the writer’s.

  29. Anna Haynes says:

    (Joe, a website request: if you have control of your stylesheet, could you tweak it so that links in a comment are underlined or somehow else look different from the adjacent text? It’s helpful to the reader, to know where there’s a link vs where there isn’t.)

  30. jre says:

    Good job, Anna! Armed with your hint, I moused over your comment until “crudely formalized here” lit up. Thanks for the homework, and for the Greasemonkey script!

    Joe — I second the motion. Links are useless if you can’t find them.

  31. Joe says:

    Interesting. I see different colors. But that is why I usually limit such links to “here.”

  32. jre says:

    Hmmm … switching to a different machine, also running Firefox, but under Linux, I now see the links in green.

  33. John Nicol says:

    Thank you all for your responses to my comments. Unfortunately the editing process removed my email address which I had hoped might have allowed people discussing the points I have raised to contact me directly.

    I’m sorry that Barry has taken the approach that my discussions are all the same and not to be responded too. I am sorry Barry if I have caused offence in any way. If so it was certainly not intended. I am just trying to stimulate debate on the science, the physics, of Green House gases, and not speak in generalities. Climate is changing – warming and just now cooling. What we need to know is why!

    If the models on which we rely have the correct inputs, they surely must be able to chart the global temperatures from 1990 to 2008 using the known parameters from the previous century. I have not been able to obtain from anyone a demonstration that they are able to do that. They will need the parameters from 2008 to predict 2009, from 2009 to predict 2010 ….. or probably shorter steps of a month or so to take them in a sequence to 2020, 2050, 2100. If they are as yet unable to determine the parameters for 2009, how will they make it even to 2012. Could anyone answer that question for me. Perhaps I am misunderstanding something vital to the problem.

    What I was also hoping for was to receive some definitive comments on the green house effect as a physical phenomenon, not just the assumption which is fed into the models coming directly from the theory of Fourier (1850) and Arrhenius (1895). This hypothesis was formulated 25 years before the advent of quantum theory and the sophsticated experiments on the optics and dynamics of gases which show quite different behaviour from that assumed by Arrhenius. Sure the details should be debated, but one needs to use the physics and results from more useful experiments. All Arrhenius knew was that CO2 absorbed radiation in bands centred at about 4.7, 10.6 and 14.8 microns – nothing more. Try for an indication of what is required from a crude draft document.

    Assuming a net input of heat into the atmosphere as is done in the modelling, is invariably going to lead to “warming”, inspite of feedbacks or anything else. Taking the process a step further and including the radiative cooling effects of green house gases in the stratosphere, may or may not lead to an overall warming or cooling. Green house gases are the ones mainly reponsible for cooling the upper atmosphere, and hence indirectly the earth, where there is no water vapour. Heating of the atmosphere is mainly through the evaporation of water vapour over the oceans which cover 70% of the globe followed by about 20% through contact between air and the earth’s surface.

    About 10-15 % is radiated and all of this is already absorbed by various green house gases before it reaches the tropopause. It is then redistributed via collisions to kinetic energy of the air molecules i.e. it heats the air the same as contact and evaporation. Then what? Convection takes the warmed air up to the stratosphere and elsewhere of course, but the bit that reaches the stratosphere is cooled by radiation from the green house gases in a reversal of the GHG warming.

    (The collisions excite the GHG which then radiates in all directions. What goes down is soon reabsorbed to start again, what goes up escapes to space and cools the earth. Most of the cooling is because of carbon dioxide since the oter dominant GHG, water vapour is absent from the stratisphere because of cooling. Increased CO2 gives increased cooling. )

    So whether GHGs warm or cool depends on some difficult calculations. It has not been properly treated and having written to Barry Brooks, various modelers including our CSIRO Climate Science Group, I have not been able to obtain any information on a modern treatment of the Green house effect upon which our future economy will stand or fall. Barry, to his credit, replied to me saying he was a biologist and therefore unable to help, but to try a physicist. Others are vague and unforthcoming. I had hoped to be rewarded with some useful SCIENTIFIC comments from this group. It is not helpful to the debate for either of us to argue in terms of generalities such as “the world is now cooling in 2008 therefore CO2 is not to blame” or equally “the polar ice is melting, therefore it must be carbon dioxide.” Basic science, physics of gases is what is required here and elsewhere. I would hope sometime to be able to stimulate such a debate and get right away from all the name calling and dismissive rhetoric on both sides. The IPCC report, 2007 AR4 Chapter 8 lists a number of important parameters which the models cannot handle – clouds, El Nino and La Nina which are accepted as the three most important internal and natural phenomena in determining both weather and climate. The El Nino and La Nina are just the extremes of a cyclical change of unknown periodicity. In a 100 year time frame, there will be only very short periods when there is not some semblance of either a La Nina or an El Nino. At present this means that the models do not handle well the climate over an extended period when these dramatic natural changes are taking place. Or again, am I msissing something?
    John L Nicol

  34. Not_Joe says:

    Theo said:
    “Anyone arguing that the blue line (a particular smoothed fit of the data) is deviating from the overall linear trend would need to:

    1) Provide evidence that the deviation is statistically significant (which it’s not)
    2) Offer a plausible cause for the 2007 change in the trend”

    Who argues anything about significance? What has been said is that we have had no sea level increase for 3 years. To prove that true, you only need to look at the blue, 60-days-averaged line, and see that it has no point above that of the begining of 2006.

    [JR: Rest of comment deleted for obvious reasons. The 60-day-averaged line is utterly irrelevant. Do you even understand what you are saying? The actual data clearly shows that sea levels have continued to rise! Who are you going to believe, readers, another denier, or your own lying eyes. Deniers categorically refuse to accept data averaging over time — since that clearly shows the planet keeps warming. Now one of you has the gall to come here and pick out a selectively irrelevant short-term averaging and say it replaces actually data. This is so absurd I would have expected it from a writer for The Onion. You have joined the very small, select group on permanent moderation. Congrats — only people who have written something egregiously dis-informing win that prize!]

  35. Craig says:

    I remain decidedly unconvinced about man-made climate change crisis. Not because I’m an ignorant hack lacking in advanced education, or, a rabid industrialist bent on raping the natural environment or simply too dense to tie my own shoes, but because when I attempt to debate based on the facts man-made climate change proponents resort to name-calling rather than debate. That, quite simply rubs me the wrong way.

    I am especially sceptical when any politician proclaims a new crisis. I immediately reach for my wallet and guard my freedom. Follow the money, carbon footprint trading (an oxymoron if ever I’ve heard one), the supposed solution will only serve to enrich the privileged few at enormous expense and loss of freedom for the rest of us.

    I can already envision the Carbon Footprint Police raiding homes to discover contraband “energy consuming devices” that have not been registered for their carbon footprint and display the appropriate carbon footprint Stamp Tax.

    Does anybody remember the Boston Tea Party?

  36. Travis Idol says:

    An interesting non sequitur in one of the quotes from the Inhofe report is that because of the mounting evidence against a recent trend in global warming, scientists have shifted the phrasing to “global climate change”. The real reason for the shift in phrasing is to acknowledge first that temperature increases will vary regionally and second that regional differences in temperature of course drive wind circulation and the hydrologic cycle, affecting all aspects of weather and climate. A professor of logic and rhetoric could teach an entire semester course dissecting the faulty arguments in this report.

    The direct impacts of climate change on water-precipitation, storm events, stream flow, aquifer recharge, etc.-are already being felt and have major implications for the environment, human health, economics, politics, and overall development. We are being forced to address these issues now and will need to plan for current and future changes.

    The insidious consequences of reports like this is that they attempt to deny not just human-induced climate change but also any responsibility to take action to deal with the consequences. This issue is bigger than global warming: it involves all aspects of climate, energy use, economic development, lifestyle choices, trade, politics, technology, the environment, and so on. The real agenda of deniers like Inhofe is to promote “business-as-usual”, which we clearly cannot do, regardless of GHG impacts on global temperature. This is why, as Al Gore has famously stated, global warming is the biggest moral issue facing the world in the 21st century. It goes beyond climate science and fossil fuel energy use.

  37. John says:

    Travis Idol might be interested to know that the term “Climate Change” was recommended by an Committee in the UK charged with the responsibility of promoting the idea of Global Warming to the press and public at large. It was conceived on the basis that promotion would be easier if the concept could be presented such that any extreme event, be it cooling or warming, could be sheeted home to “Climate Change” and hence to the effect of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. On the other hand, significant cooling events such as recent extreme winters in Europe and North America would appear to contradict the claim that “Global Warming” was a problem. It was a very clever decision and has helped promote the cause quite significantly better than would have been the case if the issue had remained as one of Warming only.

  38. Noah Flower says:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to thoroughly debunk the Inhofe list. You saved me a tremendous amount of headache! I was in the middle of catching up on the sustainability debate and just spent a good couple hours reading his report and discussing it with friends, after coming across it on the CFR website as “essential reading.” I did think it was odd that he’d cited weathermen and economists, but many of the other people he cited sounded reasonably respectable to my untrained eye, so it was quite hard for me to tell whether to seriously believe that there was reason for doubt.

  39. FEJU spain says:

    I Don´t care who MADE IT. I am interested on what can we do to stop it as a market value. If it is a point of crisis, it must be to change in to a better direction.
    All we see are more taxes, more expensive machines and more cheap workers.
    Global warming is an smoke curtain, but that smoke can also reduce our lives or health. Whats the matter with Fluor, Soja, wood, clinker, biodiesel… If the future doesn.t have an answer or the people who can, don´t look at it, we still having the past. Horse power was invented for water machines, trains, bombs, egiptians and romans made all the basic we need, with a limeted industry. Or China,.. well, it mean trhow everything away, by the window, and start to think like it´d had really happend and we must survive an improve our enviroment. The future is in the past, we must choose, YES WE CAN.
    I am an Art Director, and I love to choose, Iam ready to help. My hands can´t kill. My head can´t stop telling my the way, my eyes can´t stop looking what I see, my heart is always showing me what I can´t see… Something tell me that the future must be toghether, No bordes and no invasions. Two hemispheres, two alliances, but in armony, pushing and pulling, not fighting, we must fight together and then we will pass from 2 elements(A&B) to 3, (+the one created>C). this also give us C+a=D; & C+b= E, and all toguether again, F.
    Whit two in armony the infinite is reachable. I Don´t want this era ends, I want it to change, I want to see with my eyes what my son will have, just some at least. I want to have a dream and think i can because you also have adream & you want it to come true.

    Best regards,
    feju

  40. After reading the article, I feel that I really need more information on the topic. Can you share some resources ?

  41. About 10-15 % is radiated and all of this is already absorbed by various green house gases before it reaches the tropopause. It is then redistributed via collisions to kinetic energy of the air molecules i.e. it heats the air the same as contact and evaporation. Then what? Convection takes the warmed air up to the stratosphere and elsewhere of course, but the bit that reaches the stratosphere is cooled by radiation from the green house gases in a reversal of the