Rebutting climate science disinformer talking points in a single line

Progressives should know the most commonly used arguments by the disinformers and doubters — and how to answer them.

You should know as much of the science behind those rebuttals as possible, and a great place to start is

BUT most of the time your best response is to give the pithiest response possible, and then refer people to a  specific website  that has a more detailed scientific explanation with links to the original science.   That’s because usually those you are talking to are rarely in a position to adjudicate scientific arguments.  Indeed, they would probably tune out.  Also,  unless you know the science cold,  you are as likely as not to make a  misstatement.

Physicist John Cook has done us a great service by posting good one-line responses, which I repost with links below.  For instance,  if somebody  raises the standard talking point that the climate has changed before, you can say, “Climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time, which now is dominated by humans.”  That  it is actually quite similar to my standard response, “The climate changes  when it is forced to change,  and now humans are forcing it to change far more rapidly than in the past” (see “Humans boosting CO2 14,000 times faster than nature, overwhelming slow negative feedbacks” and “Yes, the atmospheric CO2 fraction has risen at a dangerously fast rate in the past 160 years, reaching levels not seen in millions of years“).  Working in the “now is dominated by humans” part is a good idea.

Cook explains  the origin of these one-liners in his post, “Rebutting skeptic arguments in a single line” (and posted those answers alongside previous paragraph-long answers here).

Ideas for improvement are very welcome.  I’ll repeat his caveat:

I forgot to mention, I welcome suggested improvements to any of the one line answers. So please post a comment suggesting how they can be better. But I do recommend rather than a “you should include something about…” in your comment, actually give specific wording, keeping it under 100 characters. If its better than the existing wording, I’ll update the database. Thanks for your suggestions.

Skeptic Argument vs What the Science Says
1 “It’s the sun” The sun’s output has barely changed since 1970 and is irrelevant to recent global warming.
2 “Climate’s changed before” Climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time, which now is dominated by humans.
3 “There is no consensus” 97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming.
4 “It’s cooling” The last decade 2000-2009 was the hottest on record.
5 “Models are unreliable” Models successfully reproduce temperatures since 1900 globally, by land, in the air and the ocean.
6 “Temp record is unreliable” The warming trend is the same in rural and urban areas, measured by thermometers and satellites.
7 “It hasn’t warmed since 1998” 2005 was the hottest year globally, and 2009 the second hottest.
8 “Ice age predicted in the 70s” The vast majority of climate papers in the 1970s predicted warming.
9 “We’re heading into an ice age” Worry about global warming impacts in the next 100 years, not an ice age in over 10,000 years.
10 “Antarctica is gaining ice” Satellites measure Antarctica losing land ice at an accelerating rate.
11 “CO2 lags temperature” Recent CO2 increase has caused recent warming without any time lag.
12 “It’s not bad” Negative impacts of global warming on agriculture, health & environment far outweigh any positives.
13 “Al Gore got it wrong” Al Gore book is quite accurate, and far more accurate than contrarian books.
14 “It’s cosmic rays” Cosmic rays show no trend over the last 30 years & have had little impact on recent global warming.
15 “It’s freaking cold!” A local cold day has nothing to do with the long-term trend of increasing global temperatures.
16 “Hurricanes aren’t linked to global warming” There is increasing evidence that hurricanes are getting stronger due to global warming.
17 “1934 – hottest year on record” 1934 was one of the hottest years in the US, not globally.
18 “Hockey stick is broken” Recent studies agree that recent global temperatures are unprecedented in the last 1000 years.
19 “Mars is warming” Mars is not warming globally.
20 “It’s Urban Heat Island effect” Urban and rural regions show the same warming trend.
21 “It’s just a natural cycle” Ancient natural cycles are irrelevant for attributing recent global warming to humans.
22 “Arctic icemelt is a natural cycle” Thick arctic sea ice is undergoing a rapid retreat.
23 “Sea level rise is exaggerated” A variety of different measurements find steadily rising sea levels over the past century.
24 “Water vapor is the most powerful greenhouse gas” Rising CO2 increases atmospheric water vapor, which makes global warming much worse.
25 “Other planets are warming” Mars and Jupiter are not warming, and anyway the sun has recently been cooling slightly.
26 “Greenland was green” Other parts of the earth got colder when Greenland got warmer.
27 “Oceans are cooling” The most recent ocean measurements show consistent warming.
28 “Climategate CRU emails suggest conspiracy” Several investigations have cleared scientists of any wrongdoing in the media-hyped email incident.
29 “Human CO2 is a tiny % of CO2 emissions” Human-caused CO2 emissions upset the natural balance and are causing global warming.
30 “Climate sensitivity is low” Net positive feedback is confirmed by many different lines of evidence.
31 “CO2 effect is weak” The strong CO2 effect has been observed by many different measurements.
32 “We’re coming out of the Little Ice Age” The sun was warming up then, but the sun hasn’t been warming since 1970.
33 “It cooled mid-century” Mid-century cooling involved aerosols and is irrelevant for recent global warming.
34 “Glaciers are growing” Most glaciers are retreating, posing a serious problem for millions who rely on glaciers for water.
35 “It warmed before 1940 when CO2 was low” Early 20th century warming is due to several causes, including rising CO2.
36 “There’s no empirical evidence” There are multiple lines of direct observations that humans are causing global warming.
37 “Polar bear numbers are increasing” Polar bears are in danger of extinction as well as many other species.
38 “Satellites show no warming in the troposphere” The most recent satellite data show that the earth as a whole is warming.
39 “Mt. Kilimanjaro’s ice loss is due to land use” Most glaciers are in rapid retreat worldwide, notwithstanding a few complicated cases.
40 “IPCC does not represent a scientific consensus” The IPCC summarizes the recent research by leading scientific experts.
41 “Extreme weather isn’t caused by global warming” Extreme weather events are being made worse by global warming.
42 “CO2 is not a pollutant” Excess CO2 emissions will lead to hotter conditions that will stress and even kill crops.
43 “There’s no correlation between CO2 and temperature” There is long-term correlation between CO2 and global temperature; other effects are short-term.
44 “Greenland is gaining ice” Greenland on the whole is losing ice, as confirmed by satellite measurement.
45 “CO2 was higher in the past” When CO2 was higher in the past, the sun was cooler.
46 “Scientists can’t even predict weather” Weather and climate are different; climate predictions do not need weather detail.
47 “There’s no tropospheric hot spot” We see a clear “short-term hot spot” – there’s various evidence for a “long-term hot spot”.
48 “Neptune is warming” And the sun is cooling.
49 “Jupiter is warming” Jupiter is not warming, and anyway the sun is cooling.
50 “It’s Pacific Decadal Oscillation” The PDO shows no trend, and therefore the PDO is not responsible for the trend of global warming.
51 “CO2 effect is saturated” Direct measurements find that rising CO2 is trapping more heat.
52 “Pluto is warming” And the sun has been recently cooling.
53 “Greenland ice sheet won’t collapse” When Greenland was 3 to 5 degrees C warmer than today, a large portion of the Ice Sheet melted.
54 “Volcanoes emit more CO2 than humans” Humans emit 100 times more CO2 than volcanoes.
55 “Animals and plants can adapt to global warming” Global warming will cause mass extinctions of species that cannot adapt on short time scales.
56 “Medieval Warm Period was warmer” Globally averaged temperature now is higher than global temperature in medieval times.
57 “CO2 measurements are suspect” CO2 levels are measured by hundreds of stations across the globe, all reporting the same trend.
58 “It’s the ocean” The oceans are warming and moreover are becoming more acidic, threatening the food chain.
59 “It’s El Ni±o” El Nino has no trend and so is not responsible for the trend of global warming.
60 “Arctic sea ice is back to normal” Thick arctic sea ice is in rapid retreat.
61 “Less than half of published scientists endorse global warming” Around 95% of climate experts agree that humans are causing global warming.
62 “Dropped stations introduce warming bias” If the dropped stations had been kept, the temperature would actually be slightly higher.
63 “Solar Cycle Length proves its the sun” The sun has not warmed since 1970 and so cannot be driving global warming.
64 “It’s aerosols” Aerosols have been masking global warming, which would be worse otherwise.
65 “It’s microsite influences” Microsite influences on temperature changes are minimal; good and bad sites show the same trend.
66 “CO2 has a short residence time” Excess CO2 from human emissions has a long residence time of over 100 years
67 “It’s a climate regime shift” There is no evidence that climate has chaotic “regimes” on a long-term basis.
68 “2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory” The 2nd law of thermodynamics is consistent with the greenhouse effect which is directly observed.
69 “Humans are too insignificant to affect global climate” Humans are small but powerful, and human CO2 emissions are causing global warming.
70 “It’s not happening” Recent global warming is occurring and is due to humans.
71 “Greenhouse effect has been falsified” The greenhouse effect is standard physics and confirmed by observations.
72 “It’s land use” Land use plays a minor role in climate change, although carbon sequestration may help to mitigate.
73 “The science isn’t settled” That human CO2 is causing global warming is known with high certainty & confirmed by observations.
74 “2009-2010 winter saw record cold spells” A cold day in Chicago in winter has nothing to do with the trend of global warming.
75 “It’s methane” Methane plays a minor role in global warming but could get much worse if permafrost starts to melt.
76 “500 scientists refute the consensus” Around 95% of climate experts agree that humans are causing global warming.
77 “Mike’s Nature trick to ‘hide the decline'” Michael Mann was quoted out of context, and nothing was hidden.
78 “IPCC were wrong about Himalayan glaciers” Glaciers are in rapid retreat worldwide, despite 1 error in 1 paragraph in a 1000 page IPCC report.
79 “Ocean acidification isn’t serious” Past history shows that when CO2 rises quickly, there was mass extinctions of coral reefs.
80 “Sea level rise predictions are exaggerated” Sea level rise is now increasing faster than predicted due to unexpectedly rapid ice melting.
81 “Naomi Oreskes’ study on consensus was flawed” Benny Peiser, the Oreskes critic, retracted his criticism.
82 “Phil Jones says no global warming since 1995” Phil Jones was misquoted.
83 “Ice isn’t melting” Ice is melting at an accelerating rate at both poles and in glaciers all over the world.
84 “CO2 is coming from the ocean” The ocean is absorbing massive amounts of CO2, and is becoming more acidic as a result.
85 “It’s not us” Multiple sets of independent observations find a human fingerprint on climate change.
86 “CO2 is not increasing” CO2 is increasing rapidly, and is reaching levels not seen on the earth for millions of years.
87 “It’s albedo” Albedo change in the Arctic, due to receding ice, is increasing global warming.
88 “Record snowfall disproves global warming” Warming leads to increased evaporation and precipitation, which falls as increased snow in winter.
89 “Hansen’s 1988 prediction was wrong” Jim Hansen had several possible scenarios; his mid-level scenario B was right.
90 “Lindzen and Choi find low climate sensitivity” Lindzen and Choi’s paper is viewed as unacceptably flawed by other climatologists.
91 “The sun is getting hotter” The sun’s output has just oscillated since 1970 with a slight cooling trend.
92 “Solar cycles cause global warming” Over recent decades, the sun has been slightly cooling & is irrelevant to recent global warming.
93 “Springs aren’t advancing” Hundreds of flowers across the UK are flowering earlier now than any time in 250 years.
94 “Over 31,000 scientists signed the OISM Petition Project” The ‘OISM petition’ was signed by only a few climatologists.
95 “It’s waste heat” Greenhouse warming is adding 100 times more heat to the climate than waste heat.
96 “Water levels correlate with sunspots” This detail is irrelevant to the observation of global warming caused by humans.
97 “IPCC were wrong about Amazon rainforests” The IPCC statement on Amazon rainforests was correct, and was incorrectly reported in some media.
98 “Mauna Loa is a volcano” The global trend is calculated from hundreds of CO2 measuring stations and confirmed by satellites.
99 “Climate is chaotic and cannot be predicted” Weather is chaotic but climate is driven by Earth’s energy imbalance, which is more predictable.
100 “Water vapor in the stratosphere stopped global warming” This possibility just means that future global warming could be even worse.
101 “Scientists retracted claim that sea levels are rising” The paper in question was misquoted.
102 “CO2 is not the only driver of climate” CO2 is the main driver of climate change.
103 “Trenberth can’t account for the lack of warming” Trenberth is talking about the details of energy flow, not whether global warming is happening.
104 “CO2 was higher in the late Ordovician” The sun was much cooler during the Ordovician.
105 “Southern sea ice is increasing” Antarctic sea ice has grown in recent decades despite the Southern Ocean warming at the same time.
106 “Melting ice isn’t warming the Arctic” Melting ice leads to more sunlight being absorbed by water, thus heating the Arctic.
107 “Global temperatures dropped sharply in 2007” But global temperatures rose sharply in 2009, to the second hottest level.
108 “Tree-rings diverge from temperature after 1960” This is a detail that is complex, local, and irrelevant to the observed global warming trend.
109 “Hulme says IPCC consensus was phoney” Ironically, it’s those who are mispresenting Hulme’s paper that are the ones being misleading.
110 “It’s CFCs” CFCs contribute at a small level.
111 “A drop in volcanic activity caused warming” Volcanoes have had no warming effect in recent global warming – if anything, a cooling effect.
112 “CO2 emissions do not correlate with CO2 concentration” That humans are causing the rise in atmospheric CO2 is confirmed by multiple isotopic analyses.
113 “It’s global brightening” This is a complex aerosol effect with unclear temperature significance.
114 “Warming causes CO2 rise” Recent warming is due to rising CO2.
115 “It’s ozone” Ozone has only a small effect.
116 “It’s satellite microwave transmissions” Satellite transmissions are extremely small and irrelevant.
117 “We didn’t have global warming during the Industrial Revolution” CO2 emissions were much smaller 100 years ago.
118 “Greenland has only lost a tiny fraction of its ice mass” Greenland’s ice loss is accelerating & will add metres of sea level rise in upcoming centuries.
119 “Antarctica is too cold to lose ice” Glaciers are sliding faster into the ocean because ice shelves are thinning due to warming oceans.

86 Responses to Rebutting climate science disinformer talking points in a single line

  1. darth says:

    For #5: “Models are unreliable” I suggest saying “Models run 20 years ago predicted the climate we are seeing today.” More clear and direct language.

    Certainly Hansen et al made predictions back then that seem very accurate – I assume these were based on their models at that time.

  2. Not quite one liners but these statements are made in Dr. Powell’s video:

    If “increases in CO2 are not causing modern day global warming” then two things must be true:

    1) Something unknown is suppressing the well-understood greenhouse effect (and doing so during massive increases in GHGs).
    2) Something unknown is causing the warming that mirrors the GHE.

    So deniers ask us to accept two unknowns instead of a very well known GHE.

  3. Raul M. says:

    That most leaders like to ensure the comfort of
    the followers and have it believed so, could be
    part of the discussion.
    As the discussion, presumably began with mutual
    concern for welfare, we should keep in mind the
    purpose of the discussion.
    If a party of the discussion freaks out, well it
    could be expected, that some only show the delayed
    evidence of freaking out.
    But, showing that concern for others is not in the
    interests of decision makers could preclude further
    discussion… Could be that only some of the discussion
    participants are not able to discuss concern when
    shown the true situation.

  4. PassingBy says:

    1. The answer says “The sun’s output has barely changed since 1970 and is irrelevant to recent global warming. ” but many later answers say that the sun is cooling. Need to be more consistent.

    6. The answer to “Temp record is unreliable” is effectively the answer to 20, but better. The current question/answer pair for 6 are miss-matched.

    22. Answer needs to rebut more precisely.

    28. Suggest changing answer to “All investigations have cleared scientists of any wrongdoing in the media-hyped email incident.”

    51. Suggest changing answer to “Direct measurements find that rising CO2 is trapping more heat, which matches predictions from base physics”

    74. Answer “A cold day in Chicago in winter has nothing to do with the trend of global warming.” mentions Chicago but ‘question’ does not. Need to be a bit more generic. Eg “A cold day over a small fraction of the Earth in winter has nothing to do with the trend of global warming.”

    93. Answer “Hundreds of flowers across the UK are flowering earlier now than any time in 250 years.” is too narrow. Suggest “All long term studies of spring flowering times show spring starting earlier” (Tokyo cherry blossom records go back 1000 years I think)

    98. Answer doesn’t properly match question.

    99. Suggest changing answer to “Weather is chaotic but climate is driven by underlying physics and has not been shown to be chaotic.”

    117. Suggest changing answer to “CO2 emissions were much smaller 100 years ago and had not yet built up CO2 concentrations”

  5. catman306 says:

    #41:Extreme weather events are being made worse by global warming.

    possible revision:

    Extreme weather events are being made more frequent and worse by global warming.

  6. PSU Grad says:

    For #1, you might add something like:

    The sun has remained in the minimum portion of its 11 year activity cycle for an unusually long time. Yet global temperatures continue rising.

  7. Mark says:

    The links (at least the first two) under the column “What the Science Says” seem to be broken.

    I get the following message – Sorry, no posts matched your criteria.

    [JR: Fixed!]

  8. Tim Kelly says:

    I got a letter on GOP denial of AGW published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this week. The blog responses indicate that no matter what we say, the deniers have the upper hand.

  9. Steven Leibo says:

    about climate change in the past, I like to start with a compliment.

    “Yes, you are absolutely right that climate change has often happened in the past, the only thing that is new is that we have become another force.

  10. grzejnik says:

    Nice soundbytes, Polly want a cracker? Its good to feed the sweaty masses these soundbytes, as they cannot think for themselves and need some simplicity to parrot.

  11. Sumner says:

    Fantastic post, need more stuff like this for the small, everyday fights!

  12. Jim Eager says:

    Soundbytes have obviously worked for the denialists, grzejnik, and unfortunately longer in-depth explanations complete with footnotes to documentation just make most people glaze over. One can lead them to knowledge but one can’t make them think for themselves.

    It’s called fighting fire with fire.

  13. Dan L. says:

    #2 needs a little work, as the referent for “which” is unclear. How about:

    “Climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time; humans are now the dominant forcing.”

  14. Ricardo Smith says:

    Kinda like used car salesman training. memorize your rebuttals.

  15. Chris Winter says:

    #4: “The last decade 2000-2009 was the hottest on record.”

    “The decade 2000-2009 was the hottest on record, and this year is breaking heat records all over the northern hemisphere.”

    (AFAIK the southern hemisphere was not unusually warm during its summer, except for Australia.)

  16. Chris Winter says:

    #8: “The vast majority of climate papers in the 1970s predicted warming.”

    No modification, just a suggested alternative — something like, “The AMS (American Meteorological Society) looked at this in 2008. They found 7 papers supported cooling, while 44 supported warming.”

    BTW: The link to that AMS report has changed. It’s now at:

  17. Chris Winter says:

    #16: “There is increasing evidence that hurricanes are getting stronger due to global warming.”

    “Hurricanes” says Atlantic & Caribbean storms to me. I think a more general term would be better.

  18. Tom Staley says:

    #5 is the most venerable and still lurks (George Will, etc.). I propose a slightly longer reply, acknowledging the truth of the denier’s “insight”, but properly couching it in the larger science:

    “Yes, water vapor is the most powerful greenhouse gas. The amount of water vapor in the atmosphere depends only on the temperature of the atmosphere and is accounted for in all climage models. It is a major positive feedback approximately doubling the heating effect of the human-caused CO2 increase.”

  19. Tom Staley says:

    Mistake! My post was not for denial #5, but for denial #24! I’ll type it in again, corrected:

    #24 is the most venerable and still lurks (George Will, etc.). I propose a slightly longer reply, acknowledging the truth of the denier’s “insight”, but properly couching it in the larger science:

    “Yes, water vapor is the most powerful greenhouse gas. The amount of water vapor in the atmosphere depends only on the temperature of the atmosphere and is accounted for in all climate models. It is the major positive feedback approximately doubling the heating effect of the human-caused CO2 increase.”

  20. Chris Winter says:

    #37: “Polar bears are in danger of extinction as well as many other species.”

    Another alternative: “Eighty percent of species studied are moving toward the poles or higher up mountains in response to warming.”

    BTW: A lot of this work was coordinated by Dr. Terry Root, wife of (now widow of) Stephen Schneider. He describes her work in Science as a Contact Sport.

    Here’s a 2007 lecture by Dr. Root:

  21. richard pauli says:

    Time for a SNARK counter attack:

    Its the sun” — and it seems to affected your brain. Try sunscreen and a hat.
    Climate’s changed before” — and it is changing now
    There is no consensus” – there is only widespread agreement among sane and sober scientists
    It’s cooling” — Just where do you live?
    Models are unreliable” – Try to move up from the plastic kit models – and quit sniffing the glue.
    Temp record is unreliable” — then measure twice, cut once.
    It hasn’t warmed since 1998″ – you need to talk to your wife more often
    Ice age predicted in the 70s” – sorry, time moves forward, not backwards
    We’re heading into an ice age” — I think I saw that Disney movie
    Antarctica is gaining ice” — Really? Don’t skate on thin ice.
    CO2 lags temperature” – What? I thought you said the temp record was unreliable.
    It’s not bad” – What is not bad about it? Got a list?
    Al Gore got it wrong” – Sorry, Al is not here today, you might try tomorrow.
    It’s cosmic rays” – I missed that Marvel comic.
    It’s freaking cold!” – What did your mother tell you do about it?
    Hurricanes aren’t linked to global warming” Hey, don’t piss into the wind
    1934 hottest year on record” — Was that measured during the Dust Bowl?
    Hockey stick is broken” You’re right. It looks more like a boomerang now.
    Mars is warming” – Wow… the Martians will be thrilled.
    It’s Urban Heat Island effect” — No man is an island -he’s a peninsula.
    It’s just a natural cycle” — We have not even started the spin cycle.
    Arctic icemelt is a natural cycle”- and are you planning to sail the NorthWest Passage?
    Sea level rise is exaggerated” — Compared to what?
    Water vapor is the most powerful greenhouse gas” – What is the second and third most powerful?
    Other planets are warming” — Glad to hear it. What else are the voices telling you?
    Greenland was green” — Iceland was ice, and New York was new.
    Oceans are cooling” — I thought temp records were unreliable. Go tell that to an oyster
    Climategate CRU emails suggest conspiracy” – You really have to attend to those voices in your head.
    Human CO2 is a tiny % of CO2 emissions” — What are the other CO2 sources?
    Climate sensitivity is low” – Yet your factual data insensitivity is so high.


  22. Chris Winter says:

    #52: “Pluto is warming.”

    I love this one. AIUI, methane was vaporized when Pluto was closest to the Sun in 1989, and the methane still blankets it. Yes, Pluto is in the grip of greenhouse gas.

  23. Bill W says:

    John, for #81, Thingadonta’s comments on the article need a rebuttal (would that I were qualified to provide it).

  24. Chris Winter says:

    #101: “Scientists retracted claim that sea levels are rising.”

    IIRC, that paper was retracted because its predicted sea level rise was too low.

  25. Christopher S. Johnson says:

    Fantastic list. Please review #66 which says:

    “Excess CO2 from human emissions has a long residence time of over 100 years”

    I believe it should read “1000 years”, per Susan Solomon/NOAA 2009 paper. Please correct me if I’m wrong but that seemed to be the conclusion.

  26. Chris Winter says:

    #105: “Southern sea ice is increasing.”

    This must be due to the recent breakup of massive ice shelves in Antarctica.

  27. At the very highest level, I like to use the following line: “Every last one of the concerns you and others raise about climate science has been addressed and refuted in the scientific literature. For more details, see the web site Skeptical Science.” This is a helpful response because it allows you to remain above the fray, but it’s a comprehensive response because of the great job done by Skeptical Science.

    There’s not yet a similarly easy response on the solutions side, but the material all exists on Climate Progress and elsewhere–it just needs to be compiled, organized, and summarized similarly to how Skeptical Science does it. I think that’s a job for Joe when he gets back from vacation!

  28. with the doves says:

    water vapor:

    “Water vapor is a powerful amplifier but not a root cause of climate change. The most important root cause now is human emissions of CO2.”

  29. Ken Johnson says:

    “But if we were heading toward catastrophic climate change, how would you know? What would be the early signs? (e.g., What impacts would you expect to see on global temperatures, sea levels, ocean acidity, ice caps, glaciers, …?)”

  30. mike roddy says:

    John Cook is great, thanks for this.

    #5 needs to be rethought, since establishing a 1900 time frame lends itself to counterattack. Maybe something along the lines of “Models provide evidence along with temperature readings and paleoclimate reconstructions, and consistently confirm hard data”.

    #72 is actually correct. It is land use to some extent, whether you think it’s 18% of emissions (per IPCC IV), 25% (Stern Report), or some other figure. Land use feedbacks such as forest dieback will increase, and are a great concern. I’ve never heard deniers say “it’s land use” anyway, so the best play may be to delete this item.

  31. john atcheson says:

    To any of those statements about local cooling, I’ve always found the following pretty effective: You’re like a doctor who says a patient with a fever of 106 is fine because his hands are cold.”

  32. 41 “Extreme weather isn’t caused by global warming”

    I read the following somewhere only yesterday so cannot claim originality but thought it apt:

    Climate trains the boxer, weather lands the punches.

  33. Rick Covert says:

    I’ll field 91 since it effects me as a ham radio operator. Solar activity doesn’t account for the magnitude of the heat records being set because we’re just pulling out of the deepest solar minimum in 100 years.

  34. I’d add the need for a clear 1-2 sentence affirmative statement on human-caused climate change (i.e. lead with a strong statement, then use these one-liners to respond to objections). Something like: “Global temperature is setting new record highs, glaciers and ice sheets are melting, and 97% of climate experts agree it is caused by human activity.”

    On that last point, responses #3 says “97%” while #61 and #76 say “95%”.

  35. Sarah says:

    For # 29 “Human CO2 is a tiny % of CO2 emissions” Human-caused CO2 emissions upset the natural balance and are causing global warming.

    The natural cycle both adds and removes CO2 to keep it in balance; humans are adding a lot of extra CO2, without removing any.

  36. Andy says:

    This is OT, but has anyone seen the Max Plank article recently released, showing that even if global emissions peak in *2015* we get ongoing temp rise under 2C by 2100 but higher in the future?

    They claim to have specified “the maximum volumes of carbon dioxide that humans may emit to remain below the critical threshold for climate warming of two degrees Celsius [though it appears that only hold true through year 2100].”

    If those results are reliable, how in the world do we get global CO2 emissions rates to peak by 2015??

    I can only see the press release – subscription required for the full article. Does anyone have link to any intitial reviews (on the web) of this publication?

    Press release in English here:

  37. John Mason says:

    John #29 – I like that one – excellent!

    Cheers – John

  38. Ryan Mullen says:

    To catman306 (poster #3): as far as I know, climate change doesn’t actually increase the frequency of catastrophic weather events, just the severity of them.

    To richard pauli (poster #19): I think there’s more to the “snark attack” thing. Not in the sense of insulting the intelligence of the climate deniers in your debate, but shouldn’t the one-liners we’re using here have a little more punch to them?

    Part of the advantage (actually, I’d say the majority of the advantage) to the way climate deniers frame their messages is that they’re able to make them simple, catchy, and less technical. A simple argument like “It’s the sun” works because, intuitively, it’s simple and not technical. Look at the denier-side arguments – there’s very little jargon and they’re easily remembered. “It’s not us”; “The IPCC was wrong”.

    We can do this same revision for our own arguments.

    Denier: “It’s cooling.”
    Original: “The last decade 2000-2009 was the hottest on record.”
    New: “Not if you’ve been measuring these last ten years.”

    Denier: “It hasn’t warmed since 1998.”
    Original: “2005 was the hottest year globally, and 2009 the second hottest.”
    New: “Until 2005.”

    #48, for instance, is great – already short and punchy.

    Granted, a lot of these arguments are more difficult to sloganize, but a greater emphasis needs to be put on selling our facts, and that means making them catchy.

  39. Edward says:

    1. NASA measures Solar output constantly. It isn’t the sun.

    42. Tell that to the Russians. They just embargoed wheat exports and the price of all grains has gone up.

    51. CO2 can’t saturate. More CO2 adds more layers of insulation.

    61. 97% of climate scientists agree.

    74. Last winter was very warm by comparison with 1930 to 1970, youngster.

    85. Isotope analysis proves it is CO2 from fossil fuel burning.

    88. It snows when winter is relatively warm. Once it gets to 40 below, the snow stops. Youngster.

    116. LOL

    118. So far.

  40. john kearns says:

    Sentence #2 is awkward – there seems to be a noun missing someplace. “Which” refers to “whatever”.

    How about: Climates react. Humans act, and the reactions of climates to what we do are now significant, fast and dangerous.

  41. Colorado Bob says:

    About that event in central Europe –

    As much as 200 millimeters (7.9 inches) of rainfall fell in 24 hours since Aug. 6, causing flash floods in the Czech Republic.

    Sat in Minn –
    A storm system dumped 4.5 inches of rain on West Duluth in less than 2½ hours, according to the National Weather Service.

    Last night in Iowa –
    Some rainfall amounts at 7 a.m., included 3.04 inches near Altoona, 4.06 inches at Albia, 4.05 inches at Newton, 3.8 inches near Nevada, 3 inches at Grimes.

    Even heavier downpours were reported in Story County, where 5 inch totals were common. The reading in Ames was 5.01 inches.

  42. Drew Jones says:

    Great list and post. THX

    Skeptic argument: “We should be wary of listening to scientists” My favorite come-back lately: “Do you listen to your doctor? Guess what he/she is….?”

  43. Anonymous says:

    “4 legs good, 2 legs bad” — Mantra of the sheep in George Orwell’s Animal arm.

  44. peter whitehead says:

    Here’s some general ones:

    ‘I heard (person XXX) doesn’t believe in global warming’ – “He’s a (politician/celebrity/sportsperson) – if you care what he thinks about science, perhaps you would trust him to service your car”

    ‘I don’t trust experts’ – “Right – so when some expert says you need to put gas in your car, that’s just his opinion. Water would do just as well”

    “This is all a matter of opinion” – “Yes, the earth might be flat – this ’round earth’ stuff is just a matter of opinion.”

  45. Ricardo Smith says:

    Can we have an honest explanation why the hurricane season didn’t happen?

  46. Colorado Bob says:

    Anon @ 40 –

    New tea party slogan ?

  47. Colorado Bob says:

    ” Can we have an honest explanation why the hurricane season didn’t happen? ”

    Hurricane season ends on Oct. 31st , ask that question then.

  48. Colorado Bob says:

    July SSTs in the tropical Atlantic set a new record

    Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) in the Atlantic’s Main Development Region for hurricanes had their warmest July on record, according to an analysis I did of historical SST data from the UK Hadley Center. SST data goes back to 1850, though there is much missing data before 1910 and during WWI and WWII. SSTs in the Main Development Region (10°N to 20°N and 20°W to 80°W) were 1.33°C above average during July, beating the previous record of 1.19°C set in July 2005. July 2010 was the sixth straight record warm month in the tropical Atlantic, and had the third warmest anomaly of any month in history. The five warmest months in history for the tropical Atlantic have all occurred this year. As I explained in detail in a post on record February SSTs in the Atlantic, the Arctic Oscillation (AO) and its close cousin, the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), are largely to blame for the record SSTs, though global warming and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) also play a role.

    The magnitude of the anomaly has increased slightly since June, because trade winds over the tropical Atlantic were at below-normal speeds during July. These lower trade wind speeds were due to the fact that the Bermuda-Azores High had below-normal surface pressures over the past month. The Bermuda-Azores High and its associated trade winds are forecast to remain at below-average strength during the next two weeks, according to the latest runs of the GFS model. This means that Atlantic SST anomalies will continue to stay at record warm levels during the remainder of August, and probably during September as well. This should significantly increase the odds of getting major hurricanes in the Atlantic during the peak part of hurricane season, mid-August through mid-October.

  49. Brigid says:

    This is FANTASTIC, thank you! I would make #12 slightly more emphatic by saying, “Negative impacts on agriculture, health, and environment are well documented and far outweigh any positives.” This is also unfortunately the kind of exchange in which deniers are likely to ask for examples, so it might be good to have some handy.

  50. Colorado Bob says:

    ” CO2 makes plants grow ”

    Yes, kudzu and poison ivy , have been expanding their range , and virulence .

  51. Harold Pierce Jr says:

    Drew at 39

    Most doctors are not scientists but body mechanics. Only the doctors that do research can be considered scientists and in many cases they have degrees or additional training in related field such as biochemistry, microbiology, physiolgy, medicinal chemistry, etc

    Forty years ago, I taught undergrad organic chemistry at UC Irvine, and I recall that pre med students weren’t particulary keen about science. They just wanted to ace the course which they did memorizing the material.

  52. Chad says:

    My favorite (almost) one liner:

    In response to the “No warming since 1998” blather, I respond with

    “Well, there has been wild, out-of-control warming since both 1997 and 1999. Two out of three, I win!”

    I usually follow it up with

    “Never get into a cherry-picking contest with a guy who owns an orchard”.

  53. Andy B says:

    Around 20% of Americans believe the Sun orbits the Earth. Similar to the percentage of hardcore deniers. You can’t convince them. It may be the population has a natural ratio of complete ignorance. Still, important that a more accurate and objective view of the issue is presented whenever the propaganda and misinformation is thick.
    @Ricardo- the tropical Atlantic SST are near record level and the hurricane season is less than half over. From what I’ve seen, windshear has been the biggest influence in keeping the storms that have formed quite weak. But the Atlantic Basin can cook up alot of storms in rapid succession if the conditions become favourable.

  54. David B. Benson says:

    darth‘s comment #1 isn’t bad, but shorter is better.
    Septic: “Models are unreliable”
    Rebuttal: “Even the simplest models successfully reproduce global temperatures.”

  55. richard pauli says:

    “Greenhouse effect has been falsified” But the tomatoes love it.

    “The science isn’t settled” OK, everybody off the airplane until we fully understand aerodynamics.

    78 “IPCC were wrong about Himalayan glaciers”
    Yeah, and 1 million flood refugees in Pakistan will be happy to hear it.

  56. John Kearns says:

    Responding to Colorado Bob #43 and 44. We had been expecting a raging horde of Atlantic hurricanes; so far we’ve seen mere parties of infiltrators. The seasonal hurricane forecasts have been shaky in recent years IMHO: Far too few had been predicated for Katrina’s 2005 and too many for 2009. If once reliable predictions methods falter, it might be that the environment has changed: If the Kentucky Derby would relocate within a few days to the higher altitude of Denver, bookmakers probably couldn’t adjust to it quickly.

    Changes in climate may be screwing up not only weather, but weather forecasting.

  57. Gord says:

    I’m not sure which these comments refer to what item above.

    Regarding the state of science predictions in 1975.

    Based upon a doubling of human knowledge every 3-4 years we now know about 1000 times more than 1975.

    Based upon Moore’s Law with a doubling computer power every 18 months, we now have about 10.5 million times more computer power than 1975.

    Knowledge and computation ability may be worked into some answers.

  58. JR, my comment is stuck in moderation.

  59. David B. Benson says:

    Scott A Mandia — So is mine.

  60. John Cook says:

    John here from Skeptical Science,

    Many thanks for everyone’s suggestions. Have gone through the comments and have already updated some of the one-liners. Just one thing to be aware of in your suggestions – I keep all my one-liners under 100 characters so they’re tweetable (when you include the RT, hashtags, link, etc). The idea is to give a quick brief answer then point them to more detailed info. A few responses to specific comments:

    3 catman: good point re extreme weather events being more frequent

    11 Dan L, I like your wording better, have used it, thanks!

    19 LOL to Richard Pauli’s snark one-liners. Not quite appropriate for Skeptical Science where I’m very strict about everyone playing nice but still had a good laugh.

    24 Chris Winter, re the southern sea ice increasing, the reasons are due to various factors – cyclonic winds creating polynas which increases sea ice production being one factor (I go in more detail at )

    31 Rick Covert: I’ve tweaked the “sun is getting hotter” argument. Still not quite happy with it but it’s better than the previous one-liner which was a real mouthful.

    32 Darrell Clark: the 97% – 95% discrepancy is an artifact of a slight disagreement I had with Jan Dash over which figure to use. Have updated it to 97% to be consistent with both Doran 2009 and Anderegg 2010

    33 Sarah – thanks for the wording re carbon cycle which I quite like, I just had to trim it to get it down to 100 characters

    49 Chad, love the quote “Never get into a cherry-picking contest with a guy who owns an orchard”

    Will check back later…

  61. Michael says:

    For the points on satellites and warming ( such as “Satellites show no warming”, etc), they should add something about the UAH data. Not only is the recent manipulation present on the daily AMSU temperatures, but it is also present in the monthly graphs that Spencer publishes, as this comparison shows for January and July – notice that the years after 2002 become cooler. Also, if you overlay the current daily satellite data over the old graph (I used one you posted in March), 2010 is relatively much warmer than the current graph shows, and well above the record high on the old graph (now it is below the record high, as of the latest date).

  62. David B. Benson says:

    My comment #54 is unstuck.

  63. Mimi K says:

    I have had a lot of success with the medium-snarky line “Dinosaurs did not drive cars.” I then say “The Earth/climate has never had to deal with a petroleum-based species before. i.e., us. So this change is different from all other climate changes before.”

    Also, want to say that Drew#42 is REALLY onto something with the doctor analogy. Not sure how to get the doctor analogy into 100 ch for a tweet, but it’s the best I’ve heard so far.

  64. ChrisD says:

    Actually, I have a problem with Drew #42’s “Your doctor is a scientist”

    I don’t think of doctors as scientists at all, but the really big problem with this is that a WHOLE lot of the signers of the Oregon Petition are doctors. One of the standard–and, in my view, entirely valid–rebuttals to the petition is “They’re not scientists, they’re doctors and engineers and … “.

  65. Andy says:

    I gotta say I love SkepticalScience and link it on internet thread quite a bit. Thanks for what you’re doing.

  66. ChrisD says:

    #53 “Pluto is warming”

    The entire evidence for this is exactly two indirect measurements taken fourteen years apart. Since Pluto’s orbit takes 248 Earth years, this is like taking two Earth temp readings three weeks apart and announcing from that “Earth is warming!” If millions of Earth temp readings spanning 150 years can’t convince you that Earth is warming, why do TWO readings from Pluto spanning three weeks?

    I just don’t know how to fit that into 100 chars.

  67. Roger Ramjet says:

    My god I hope Texas Secedes from the US and puts you all in your place. You really are the most cluesless bunch of neanderthals on the planet. Novus Ordo Seclorum by ETS

  68. Drew @42: Doctors are not (in general) scientists; they are technicians.

    — A scientist is someone who engages in inquiry to discover new, fundamental facts.

    — An engineer is someone who engages in inquiry to create new applications from previously disovered facts.

    — A technician is someone who engages in inquiry to maintain previously existing applications.

    The human body is such a pre-existing application. There are some doctors who are also scientists because they also engage in fundamental research. There are some doctors who are also engineers because they are working on developing new tools and techniques. But most doctors are “just” very highly trained technicians working to maintain a pre-existing system. The techniques of effective inquiry and logic are not fundamentally different amongst these disciplines, but the call for imaginative envisioning of possibilities is. Much more imagination (and not merely logical rigor) is required by the scientist than the technician.

    The fact that they are not scientists and answer to a different criterion of effective inquiry may partially explain why so many physicians are AGW deniers, but that is purely a guess on my part

  69. Peter says:

    Thanks for the list John. I’m sure people will still be using these one liners for centuries to come.


  70. Whatshisname says:

    Or just refer Deniers (and trolls) to one of the original Global Warming jokes by comedian Rick Overton: You will be the ones fighting with a rat in an alley over a piece of Snickers Bar.

    Bill Hicks had a dandy anti-Denier line too, but it would need, uh, too much paraphrasing…….

  71. Rocket Science says:

    Oh deary me, they forgot to look at the solar wind, so that is what the `Modern Winter` was about, and explains why the warming is not global, and largely seasonal.

  72. jorleh says:

    The story of “Oregon petition” should be shown to every highly educated “contrarian”; this ridiculous scheme would open eyes.

    Nothing like “Oregon petition” would be possible in Europe. Still laughing after the first contact with the rubbish.

    And, however, most of the highly educated in Europe don´t know anything of the AGW, and that means nine out of ten.

  73. John Hooper says:

    The weird thing is there are so many people for whom the most pessimistic forecast is good news.

  74. Anarchist606 says:

    This is great stuff!!! Here’s my suggestions…

    “Other planets are warming”
    The other planets in our solar system do not support life. Lets focus on planets that do.

    “Climategate CRU emails suggest conspiracy”
    Then the Pacific oyster must be part of the conspiracy as it’s breeding in now warmer waters that only a few years ago it could not survive in.

    ““Polar bear numbers are increasing”
    Polar bear encounters are increasing around human settlements as widen the search for food due to ice loss, but sadly overall numbers are on the decline.

  75. Anarchist606 says:

    Hey ChrisD good response, how about…

    “Pluto is warming”

    That idea is based on 2 measurements 14 years apart whereas Pluto’s orbit is takes 248 Earth years; it proves nothing about nothing.

  76. Anarchist606 says:

    “It’s not us”

    The burning of fossil fuels leaves a clear fingerprint of isotopes in the atmosphere – and CSI’s result are in – humans caught red-handed.

  77. jlredford says:

    These responses aren’t punchy enough. Note how the denialist statements are 1/3 the length of the responses. Here’s how the 1st 5 points might be tightened up:

    1 “It’s the sun”

    Before: The sun’s output has barely changed since 1970 and is irrelevant to recent global warming.

    After: The sun is actually cooling.

    2 “Climate’s changed before”

    Before: Climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time, which now is dominated by humans.

    After: Yes, but humans weren’t dominating it then.

    3 “There is no consensus”

    Before: 97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming.

    After: No, there’s 97% consensus among actual experts

    4 “It’s cooling”

    Before: The last decade 2000-2009 was the hottest on record.

    After: No, the last ten years were the hottest ever

    5 “Models are unreliable”

    Before: Models successfully reproduce temperatures since 1900 globally, by land, in the air and the ocean.

    After: No, the models have been checked against known temperatures.

    The first word in the response is usually Yes or No, which is the one-word summary of what you’re saying. Vary it a little bit so that it’s not always No. Then keep the words shorter, remove adverbs, and don’t use extra clauses.

  78. Prokaryotes says:

    “It’s just a natural cycle”

    So what caused – created this supposed natural cycle?

  79. Chris Winter says:

    If, per John Cook’s #60, they’re for twitter and hence limited to 100 characters, then I concur with Ryan Mullen and jlredford — they should be made as punchy as possible.

  80. Chris Winter says:

    Some more suggestions:

    1. “It’s the sun.”
    Not this solar cycle.

    2. “Climate’s changed before.”
    Right — before humans filled the Earth.

    4. “It’s cooling.”
    Tell that to the folks in Moscow.
    (Substitute any place where heat records are being broken.)
    Yes, I know this wrongly equates weather and climate.
    But they do it (see #15), and this gives us a chance to point that out.

    5. “Models are unreliable.”
    So stop flying in airliners built according to models.

    8. “Ice age was predicted in ’70s.”
    Only by Newsweek.
    (Or was it Time?)

    9. “We’re heading into an ice age.”
    Yes — in 10,000 years. Before that we will warm.

    11. “CO2 lags temperature.”
    Not this time.

    13. “Al Gore got it wrong.”
    In some places, but he fixes his mistakes.

    20. “It’s Urban Heat Island Effect.”
    Which is swamped by Rural Heat Ocean Effect.

    29. “Human CO2 is a tiny part of CO2 emissions.”
    True, but it’s tipping the balance — like the BB that tips a scale.

    30. “Climate sensitivity is low.”
    If you can show this, you’ll win a Nobel Prize.

  81. Chris Winter says:

    A few more suggestions:

    42. “CO2 is not a pollutant.”
    CO2 increases heat. Too much CO2 means too much heat. Too much heat kills.

    51. “CO2 effect is saturated.”
    Greenhouse gases are like blankets on a bed, and we keep adding more blankets.

    55. “Animals and plants can adapt to global warming.”
    Not all of them, on this time scale. Are you willing to play God?

    76. “Five hundred scientists refute the consensus.”
    It’s not the number of scientists, but the work they do. Where’s the contrarian work?

    78. “IPCC was wrong about Himalayan glaciers.”
    So when the mistake was discovered, those glaciers started growing again?

    87. “It’s albedo.”
    I thought you said it was Al Gore.

    89. “Hansen’s 1988 prediction was wrong.”
    According to Marc Morano, who purposely picked the wrong prediction.

    91. “The Sun is getting hotter.”
    Show us your measurements of this.

    94. “Over 30,000 scientists signed the OISM Petition.”
    Few of them are climate scientists, and many break the OISM’s own screening rules.
    Scientists like Hub Hougland, a Muncie, Indiana dentist.

    110. “It’s CFCs.”
    I thought you said water vapor was the major cause.

  82. Anonymous says:

    @Chris Winter #80

    Cooling predicted “Only by Newsweek. (Or was it Time?)”

    Actually it was both–sorta. If you read the articles, you’ll find that neither one actually makes any predictions. They’re really talking about observed cooling, not predicted cooling. For sure neither one quotes any scientist making predictions of cooling.



  83. ChrisD says:

    Chris Winter #80:

    Actually it was both–sorta. If you read the articles, you’ll see that neither one actually makes any predictions. And no scientists are quoted as predicting cooling, either. They’re really about observed, not predicted, cooling.



  84. ChrisD says:

    @Prokaryotes 78

    “It’s just a natural cycle”

    So what caused – created this supposed natural cycle?

    Yes, that’s very similar to my baseline response on this one: “Natural change isn’t voodoo. It still has a cause. What’s the cause of the current warming?”

  85. Chris Winter says:

    RE: The link posted by “Rocket Science” in #82 — the original source of the article is the Canada Free Press, and its author is Dr. Tim Ball.