Panic Attack: Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal Finds 16 Scientists to Push Pollutocrat Agenda With Long-Debunked Climate Lies

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"Panic Attack: Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal Finds 16 Scientists to Push Pollutocrat Agenda With Long-Debunked Climate Lies"

A lot of folks have asked me to debunk the recent anti-truthful Wall Street Journal article with the counterfactual headline, “No Need to Panic About Global Warming.”  I’ll combine my debunking with the rapidly growing list of debunkings from scientists and others.  And I’ll update this as new debunkings come in.

That the WSJ would publish an amateurish collection of falsehoods and half truths is no surprise.   The entire global Murdoch enterprise is designed to advance the pollutocrat do-nothing agenda (see Scientist: “The Murdoch Media Empire Has Cost Humanity Perhaps One or Two Decades in Battle Against Climate Change”).  As National Academy of Sciences member Peter Gleick explains in his evisceration of the piece, “Remarkable Editorial Bias on Climate Science at the Wall Street Journal“:

But the most amazing and telling evidence of the bias of the Wall Street Journal in this field is the fact that 255 members of the United States National Academy of Sciences wrote a comparable (but scientifically accurate) essay on the realities of climate change and on the need for improved and serious public debate around the issue, offered it to the Wall Street Journal, and were turned down. The National Academy of Sciences is the nation’s pre-eminent independent scientific organizations. Its members are among the most respected in the world in their fields. Yet the Journal wouldn’t publish this letter, from more than 15 times as many top scientists. Instead they chose to publish an error-filled and misleading piece on climate because some so-called experts aligned with their bias signed it. This may be good politics for them, but it is bad science and it is bad for the nation.

Science magazine – perhaps the nation’s most important journal on scientific issues – published the letter from the NAS members after the Journal turned it down.

A tad more surprising is that 16 admittedly non-leading scientists would choose to soil their reputations by stringing together a collection of long-debunked falsehoods.  What is surprising is that these falsehoods are more easily debunked than the typical disinformer clap-trap because they are so out-of-date!

Guys, if you’re going to push disinformation, you have to do better than this:

Perhaps the most inconvenient fact is the lack of global warming for well over 10 years now.  This is known to the warming establishment, as one can see from the 2009 “Climategate” email of climate scientist Kevin Trenberth: “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t”….

The lack of warming for more than a decade—indeed, the smaller-than-predicted warming over the 22 years since the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) began issuing projections—suggests that computer models have greatly exaggerated how much warming additional CO2 can cause.

Well, as the chart above shows, the last 10 years were easily the hottest on record.  As the Union of Concerned Scientists debunking notes, “2011 was the 35th year in a row in which global temperatures were above the historical average and 2010 and 2005 were the warmest years on record.”  Doh!

And apparently these guys missed the news that last year’s Koch-Funded and Skeptic-Led Study Finds Recent Warming “On the High End” and Speeding Up.  The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Study (BEST) concluded:

… we find that the global land mean temperature has increased by 0.911 ± 0.042 C since the 1950s….  our analysis suggests a degree of global land-surface warming during the anthropogenic era that is consistent with prior work (e.g. NOAA) but on the high end of the existing range of reconstruction.

Double Doh!

Then again, what do you expect from a list of 16 scientists that include:

This gang that couldn’t shoot straight assert “it is likely that more CO2 and the modest warming that may come with it will be an overall benefit to the planet.” In fact, as Fatih Birol, the chief economist for the International Energy Agency explained last year, the world is on pace for 11°F warming, and Even School Children Know This Will Have Catastrophic Implications for All of Us.

Yes, even school children know more than these guys!

They utterly misrepresent the work of serious climatologists like Kevin Trenberth.  Anybody who is actually paying attention to real science knows Trenberth explained 2 years ago that the way the disinformers were quoting him was nonsense, and they know recent analysis has done a good job of identifying where the “missing” warming went — the deep oceans (see my 9/11 post “Hottest Decade on Record Would Have Been Even Hotter But for Deep Oceans — Accelerated Warming May Be On Its Way“).  Let’s go through this one more time.

As Trenberth explained back in 2009, we have a vast amount of evidence that “global warming is continuing”:

But Trenberth, who acknowledged the e-mail is genuine, says bloggers are missing the point he’s making in the e-mail by not reading the article cited in it. That article – An Imperative for Climate Change Planning (.pdf) — actually says that global warming is continuing, despite random temperature variations that would seem to suggest otherwise.

“It says we don’t have an observing system adequate to track it, but there are all other kinds of signs aside from global mean temperatures — including melting of Arctic sea ice and rising sea levels and a lot of other indicators — that global warming is continuing,” he says.

In the paper, Trenberth posited the very recent surface temperature data might not be keeping up with the other data showing global warming because of a variety of reasons,  most  significantly “Was it because the heat was buried in the ocean and sequestered, perhaps well below the surface?”  The answer to that appears to be “yes.”

The key point from recent observation is that whatever slight slowing in global warming some groups may have observed in the past decade, it was primarily in the surface temperature data set.  The oceans kept warming (see “Sorry Deniers, the Oceans are Still Warming as Predicted“):

Figure 1:   Revised estimate of global ocean heat content (10-1500 mtrs deep) for 2005-2010 derived from Argo measurements. The 6-yr trend accounts for 0.55±0.10Wm−2. Error bars and trend uncertainties exclude errors induced by remaining systematic errors in the global observing system. See Von Schuckmann & Le Traon (2011).  Via Skeptical Science.

It is worth adding that Trenberth signed the Must Read Bali Climate Declaration by Leading Scientists, which opens:

The 2007 IPCC report, compiled by several hundred climate scientists, has unequivocally concluded that our climate is warming rapidly, and that we are now at least 90% certain that this is mostly due to human activities. The amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere now far exceeds the natural range of the past 650,000 years, and it is rising very quickly due to human activity. If this trend is not halted soon, many millions of people will be at risk from extreme events such as heat waves, drought, floods and storms, our coasts and cities will be threatened by rising sea levels, and many ecosystems, plants and animal species will be in serious danger of extinction.

One can only dream that we lived in a world where that important declaration by more than 200 of the world’s leading climate scientists would get more attention than either stolen emails or the silly sixteen.

The thing about these 16 scientists, the overwhelming majority of whom have no background whatsoever in climate science, is that because they don’t know the scientific literature, they are forced to cling to out-of-date claptrap:

In 2003, Dr. Chris de Freitas, the editor of the journal Climate Research, dared to publish a peer-reviewed article with the politically incorrect (but factually correct) conclusion that the recent warming is not unusual in the context of climate changes over the past thousand years.

A nine-year-old paper?  Really guys?  If you want to know about de Freitas, DeSmogBlog has a great piece, “Skeptics Prefer Pal Review Over Peer Review: Chris de Freitas, Pat Michaels And Their Pals, 1997-2003.”

But the key point is that in the past 9 years,  there has been a National Academy of Sciences review of the literature and over a dozen  independent studies making clear that “Recent global warming is unprecedented in magnitude and speed and cause.”  Here are a few:

  1. GRL:  “We conclude that the 20th century warming of the incoming intermediate North Atlantic water has had no equivalent during the last thousand years.
  2. JGR:  “The last decades of the past millennium are characterized again by warm temperatures that seem to be unprecedented in the context of the last 1600 years.”
  3. Unprecedented warming in Lake Tanganyika and its impact on humanity (2010)
  4. Human-caused Arctic warming overtakes 2,000 years of natural cooling, “seminal” study finds (2009):
  5. Sorry disinformers, hockey stick gets longer, stronger: Earth hotter now than in past 2,000 years (2008)
  6. Arctic Sea Ice Hockey Stick: Melt Unprecedented in Last 1,450 Years (2011)

The entire op-ed is just a laughable collection of out of date and debunked disinformer talking points.

Or, rather, it would be laughable if it worked for the fact that the Murdoch outlet is using these 16 scientists  to help push its do-nothing agenda.  Here is the key argument:

The fact is that CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas, exhaled at high concentrations by each of us, and a key component of the biosphere’s life cycle. Plants do so much better with more CO2 that greenhouse operators often increase the CO2 concentrations by factors of three or four to get better growth. This is no surprise since plants and animals evolved when CO2 concentrations were about 10 times larger than they are today. Better plant varieties, chemical fertilizers and agricultural management contributed to the great increase in agricultural yields of the past century, but part of the increase almost certainly came from additional CO2 in the atmosphere….

A recent study of a wide variety of policy options by Yale economist William Nordhaus showed that nearly the highest benefit-to-cost ratio is achieved for a policy that allows 50 more years of economic growth unimpeded by greenhouse gas controls….  And it is likely that more CO2 and the modest warming that may come with it will be an overall benefit to the planet.

In short, let’s do nothing and it’ll probably all work out for the best.  [I’ll deal with Nordhaus in a later post, though it is worth noting now that Nordhaus’s most recent paper finds ““Oil and Coal-Fired Power Plants Have Air Pollution Damages Larger Than Their Value Added” and Natural Gas generation damage is larger than its value added for even low CO2 prices.]

In fact, this perspective has  already been quite well debunked in the literature.  First off, we now know that the  totality of impacts of  global warming — warming, acidification, extreme weather, Dust-Bowlification — is already  showing evidence of harm to the biosphere, biodiversity, and  agriculture in particular:

Second, the only way we could  have modest warming is if we acted aggressively to reduce greenhouse gas emissions starting now.  Ironically, or, rather, tragically, the one way to  be absolutely certain of high levels of warming and  catastrophic impacts is to do nothing for the next several decades, which  is clearly what these 16 scientists are promoting.  A  review of 50 recent studies makes that clear — see “An Illustrated Guide to the Science of Global Warming Impacts: How We Know Inaction Is the Gravest Threat Humanity Faces.”

mit-wheels.gif

Humanity’s Choice (via M.I.T.):  Inaction (“No Policy”) eliminates most of the uncertainty about whether or not future warming will be catastrophic.  Aggressive emissions reductions dramatically improves humanity’s chances.

Rather than quoting one economist, Nordhaus, we should listen to the  traditionally staid and conservative International Energy Agency in its recent IEA’s 2011 World Energy Outlook [WEO]:

“On planned policies, rising fossil energy use will lead to irreversible and potentially catastrophic climate change”….

Delaying action is a false economy: for every $1 of investment in cleaner technology that is avoided in the power sector before 2020, an additional $4.30 would need to be spent after 2020 to compensate for the increased emissions.”

I started by saying this piece had a counterfactual headline, “No Need to Panic About Global Warming.”

Panic is a sudden sensation of fear which is so strong as to dominate or prevent reason and logical thinking….

It is the authors of the WSJ piece who are panicked because they have allowed their fear of climate action to “dominate or prevent reason and logical thinking.”  They have abandoned science.  Climate scientists and other climate realists like the IEA are not urging panic — quite the opposite, we are urging a reasoned and logical science-based policy response.

The tragedy is that if we listen to Rupert Murdoch’s media outlets and the handful of scientists willing to push anti-scientific nonsense, if we keep taking no serious action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, then we make it far more likely that future generations will in fact panic, when they wake up sometime in the 2020s and realize how dire the situation is but how the disinformers have all but ended the possibility for averting catastrophe.

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54 Responses to Panic Attack: Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal Finds 16 Scientists to Push Pollutocrat Agenda With Long-Debunked Climate Lies

    • Ira says:

      “In short, let’s do nothing and it’ll probably all work out for the best.”

      Spot on, though it’s fun to occasionally engage in some omphaloskepsis, at least to thin out the lint a bit.

  1. Joe this is a great post and that chart is great for crushing the myth that “global warming stopped in 1998″. I have even uploaded it to my Flickr page:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/60934725@N08/

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    It’s important that scientists such as Trenberth, Hansen, and Santer go farther than publishing debunkings on blogs and letters to the editor. The Wall Street Journal piece is a collection of lies composed to distort public awareness.

    Appropriate responses are
    1. Announcement of boycotts of WSJ advertisers
    2. NAS scientists need to insist that major news organs such as CBS and NYT expose WSJ’s obvious flaunting of scientific truth
    3. Censure of WSJ by all professional journalism associations

    Murdoch has been telling these silly lies for years, and it’s no different than denying any proven menace to public health and safety. It’s time that scientists pushed back.

    • A Jessen says:

      Completely agreed. Still, it would be nice to see a rebuttal published over there from someone like Joe, or at least a comment from someone with a WSJ account, containing a link to this entry (assuming it’s allowed). The back-pressure against this nonsense needs to be applied on all fronts.

  3. prokaryotes says:

    UK police arrest Murdoch tabloid staff, raid offices

    Police officer also arrested

    * Probe into allegations reporters paid police for information

    * Internal investigation into Sun is well advanced, CEO says

    British police arrested four current and former staff of Rupert Murdoch’s best-selling Sun tabloid plus a policeman on Saturday as part of an investigation into suspected payments by journalists to officers, police and the newspaper’s publisher said.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/28/newscorp-arrests-idUSL5E8CS03Y20120128

    So when do they start raiding the WSJ?

  4. fj says:

    If I am not mistaken this comes on the news of arrests of several Murdoch employees for illegal activities.

    Can we hope for this as a sorry last ditch effort before the fiendish empire goes down as clueless lying Republican “Presidential” candidates devolve into food fights amongst themselves?

    And, where’s Sarah Palin when we need her? Oh, wait, never mind . . . there’s comic relief a plenty.

  5. Ben Lieberman says:

    The refusal to publish the piece eventually run in Science Magazine is truly stunning–it’s time that the public understands that the Wall Street Journal is now a threat to public health as well as the environment.

  6. John Tucker says:

    Thats totally bizarre. Outright misinformation in what was at least a semi respected publication.

    Strange its in the Opinion section with no author. Or not perhaps.

    The Murdoch press empire has major problems with reporting accuracy and corrupt influence:

    Murdoch staff arrested for bribery, office searched [ http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/murdoch-staff-arrested-for-bribery-office-searched-171250&cp ]

  7. “Follow the money”

    The rule still applies – Nine out of 10 skeptic scientists linked to ExxonMobil.

    http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2011/04/900-papers-supporting-climate-scepticism-exxon-links

    Analysing the ‘900 papers supporting climate scepticism’: 9 out of top 10 authors linked to ExxonMobil

      • Martin Vermeer says:

        Yes, the scientists themselves deny having received any ExxonMobil money. And they are honourable men

        • Poptech says:

          There is nothing to deny as their research is not funded by oil money.

          • a face in the clouds says:

            You asked them if they had received any “direct” funding.

          • Poptech says:

            Talk about conspiracy theories. They do not receive any funding from ExxonMobil.

            There is no evidence you can find that shows otherwise.

            Why is it so hard to accept that there are credentialed scientists who do not support your position on climate change?

            [JR: “credentialed scientists”? What is that? Not serious climate scientists. Folks can lie and still keep being a “scientist.”]

          • Roy Mustard says:

            Very clever Poptech. You don’t need to be a genius to work out that oil companies fund thinktanks who in turn fund these scientists. Your “direct funding” question is weasely and disingenious.

            Using your logic criminals don’t make any money from drug dealing because money laundering doesn’t exist.

  8. Lara Jorgensen says:

    The problem is, these 16 scientists are getting the headlines while the debunking is happening on a much smaller stage (sorry Joe).
    We need to get this message into the MSM where people will read it.

  9. Pythagoras says:

    I’ve seen the Rutan pitch before…

    Working in the aerospace industry, I can understand that he views the problem as a flight test engineer would in looking at the data and trying to see whether the data supports the theories.

    The first problem with his criticism is that he doesn’t acknowledge the problem of signal-to-noise ratio. As someone with a flight test engineering background, he should realize that the observed worldwide temperature response to rising CO2 must be greater than the natural year-to-year variation in temperatures. Hence it is only once CO2 emissions have reached their current level of 385 ppm from the pre-industrial level of 280 ppm that one can discern the signal from the background noise.

    The second problem is that Rutan fails to acknowledge that the issue of CO2 is an exponential problem in that the increase in CO2 reflects a worldwide economy that has been growing exponentially. Yet in his critique, he used basic linear extrapolation to judge the effects of increased C02 levels.

    The third item with Rutan is in his critique of climate models he doesn’t tell us where the errors originate. He is more than willing to say that “It’s the sun!” but does not provide any argument from first principles of physics to justify the statement.

  10. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Please tell me you are not surprised. Outraged you should be, but not at all surprised. The Murdoch empire is no longer a news empire but a propaganda network. Facts do not matter only the narrative.

    The inevitable loss of credibility destroying future sell ability, is less important than today’s profit.

    Outraged at more denialism, perhaps we will not notice a few arrests.

  11. Gringo says:

    Surprise, surprise, there’s 2 former Exxon Executives among those 16 PhD’s !

    Here’s a breakdown of all 16 (previously posted by me at Yahoo Answers in a ‘question’ about the issue). Links provided at bottom:

    – 1 french politician so out of touch with reality that he believes asbestos to be harmless (Allegre);
    – 1 former president of research at Exxon Corporation (Edward David);
    – 1 retired Exxon Executive (Roger W Cohen);
    – 1 forecasting and marketing expert. Has no peer-reviewed papers published on climate science nor on polar bear populations, subject on which he testified nevertheless before US Congress (Armstrong);
    – 1 medical doctor specializing in atherosclerotic disease (Breslow);
    – 1 physicist who has specialized in the study of optics and spectroscopy and who is affiliated with multiple industry (= oil, gas, etc.) funded think-tanks and organizations (ie, Director of the Marshall Institute, Director at the Richard Lounsbery Foundation [which funded Fred Singer’s SEPP science denial organization] (Happer);
    – 1 Consultant on Science and Technology Policy. Despite his CV being impressive, he has never published any peer-reviewed studies on climate science. Former staff member at the Richard Lounsbery Foundation (Nichols);
    – 1 professor of Technology who specialized “electronic structure of metals and semiconductors” (Kelly);
    – 1 professor of chemistry who specializes in polymers and carbon fibers (McGrath);
    – 1 former director of the Royal Dutch Meteorological Service and Professor of Aeronautical Engineering specialized in turbulence. Has written many non-peer reviewed articles on Fred Singer’s site. No peer-reviewed articles known (Tennekes);
    – 1 professor of astrophysics who believes the sun is the primary driver of climate change (Shaviv);
    – 1 aeronautical engineer and space cowboy who has never published any peer-reviewed paper on climate science (Rutan);
    – 1 former astronaut who has never published any peer-reviewed paper on climate science and is Emeritus Chair of the ExxonMobil funded Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy and who believes there is a link between “Soviet Communism and the American environmental movement” (Schmitt);
    – 1 retired meteorologist. Despite his lack of knowledge, he published a book on climate science via the Lavoisier Group which has a known anti-climate science stance (Kininmonth);
    – 1 nuclear physicist with no known peer reviewed publications on climate science (Zichichi);
    – 1 climate scientists who in the past has taken money from the oil industry and is listed as ‘Expert’ at the industry funded Heartland Institute (Lindzen);

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_All%C3%A8gre
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_E._David_Jr.
    http://www.aps.org/units/gpc/index.cfm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._Scott_Armstrong
    http://www.rockefeller.edu/research/faculty/labheads/JanBreslow/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Happer
    http://rlounsbery.org/news/docs/AnnualReport_2003-2004.pdf
    http://www.csap.cam.ac.uk/network/michael-kelly/
    http://www.files.chem.vt.edu/chem-dept/mcgrath/research.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Kininmonth_%28meteorologist%29
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henk_Tennekes
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nir_Shaviv
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Zichichi
    http://www.fas.org/about/bio/nichols.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burt_Rutan
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrison_H._Schmitt

  12. Polymerase says:

    How about a campaign to cancel WSJ subscriptions and to redirect them to whichever MSM financial news outlet that we deem most accurate on climate change reporting? Bloomberg? Which one is best? I’l subscribe today…

    • squidboy6 says:

      That’s a good idea. Bloomberg actually reports news regardless of the politics, at least some of the time.

      The WSJ was always a right-wing organ, for awhile many execs said they were “just doing God’s work” when they gamed the housing market with bad loans which they sold in bundles while betting these loans would fail.

      Since God hasn’t struck them down I doubt if he’s interested. I’m sure the readers of the WSJ take it as license to steal more. They regard evolution as a theory less equal to Intelligent Design.

      The next long-hot Summer will have more smoke in the skies, bet on it.

  13. Zan says:

    Joe that was awesome. I will link to it over there. But it is like talking to a wall.

  14. Sasparilla says:

    Thank you for this piece Joe, however annoying and tough it is to go through this time after time.

    That point about the Journal refusing the NAS piece on climate change is breathtaking – it points to just what a propaganda vector the WSJ has become (just like Fox News and other Murdoch outlets). Unfortunately for the folks that read or watch these outlets they still think they “can trust the news” and don’t know they are being deliberately misled.

    I remember after Murdoch purchased the WSJ and the purgings etc. that went on afterwords – in their own words “to remove the liberal bias” as the Murdoch empire said at the time. I remember thinking to myself anyone who thought the Journal had a liberal bias wasn’t reading the Journal for the last I don’t know how many years. Obviously it was to remove the internal barriers to printing outright lies and half-truths when politics demanded such.

    Have to chuckle at Richard Lindzen being in there. If there was ever a guy who can pick the loosing side of a major issue: I believe he was up on capital hill in support of the cigarette companies back in the days, then he was brought back saying the ozone hole wasn’t real and of course now he’s up their on the wrong side of the climate change issue. Course he’s always on the side of the big corporations…

  15. Roger Shamel says:

    Have cancelled my subscription.

  16. nyc-tornado-10 says:

    Forbes magazine condemned the wall $treet journal for denying global warming. Forbes is very capitalist, and they feel a need to distance themselves from the WSJ.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/petergleick/2012/01/27/remarkable-editorial-bias-on-climate-science-at-the-wall-street-journal/

  17. Jay Fitz says:

    You buy a newspaper for news, not falsehoods. To sell lies as valid intellectual property is fraud, and easily makes all 9 benchmarks. Here’s where you file fraud complaints with the FTC.

    https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/FTC_Wizard.aspx?Lang=en

  18. Steve says:

    I have seen enough of humanity and modern American culture and politics to reluctantly conclude that neither the government nor the citizenry — in large numbers — are going to do much to mitigate CO2 emissions until repeated severe weather and food price disasters escalate, place-after-place, year-after-year.

    In other words, serious mitigation efforts will not kick in on a large scale until half the people are struggling with the suffering, loss, and expense of adaptation efforts.

    I also think this grand human drama is going to start to play out sooner than most people think. The moderating effects of 2011 are behind us. 2012 could bring things to a whole new eye-opening level for many people.

    And when that happens, everyone should then be pointedly reminded what these WSJ scientific geniuses, with their careful reflection on the matter, are now advising us not to worry about….

  19. Andrew Glikson (Earth and paleoclimate science) says:

    The 16-scientists statement claims: “Perhaps the most inconvenient fact is the lack of global warming for well over 10 years now“.

    This is not the case: According to NASA/GISS the 1st decade of the 21st century has been the warmest on the instrumental record. Global surface temperatures in 2010 were tied 2005 as the warmest on record. In Jan-Oct 2010 global land and ocean surface temperature were 0.63C above the upper 20th century average of 14.1C.

    It is a “strawman argument” to assume global warming is a uniform process, since natural variability induced by the ENSO cycle and the 11 years sun spot cycle, superposed on the greenhouse warming trend, results in transient reversal of warming. Paleo-climate studies indicate that past warming trends were associated with transient cold phases due to the regional effect of ice melt water, for example the ‘Youngest dryas’ (12.9-11.7 kyr) and the 8.2 kyr event.

    According to NASA/GISS, NCDC and CRU, the rate of warming during 1975-2010 (+0.5 to +0.6C, 0.014 to 0.017C/year) is one to two orders of magnitude faster than that of glacial terminations with mean rates of 0.002-0.004C/year or lower.

    An independent study of global temperature data from 1880AD onward by Muller and other of the Berkeley Group concluded “Our biggest surprise was that the new results agreed so closely with the warming values published previously”

    Following the emission of more than 350 billion tons carbon (GtC) since 1750AD (more than half the original atmospheric carbon inventory of 590 GtC), the growth rate of atmospheric CO2 has reached about and over 2 ppm/year, a rate unprecedented in geological history, bar during times of mass extinction of species related to global volcanism and asteroid impacts.

    Comprehensive paleo-climate studies establish atmospheric CO2 levels of 500+/-50 ppm as the approximate upper stability limit of the Antarctic ice sheet. The current level of 392 ppm is similar to late Pliocene (~3 Ma) of ~400 ppm, when temperatures were ~2C – 3C higher than present, and is considered by Hansen et al. 2008 to be dangerously high.

  20. Andrew Glikson (Earth and paleoclimate science) says:

    Perhaps the most amazing statement made by the 16-scientists statement concerns the evolution of plants under high CO2 levels in the geological past, where they state:

    “Plants do so much better with more CO2 that greenhouse operators often increase the CO2 concentrations by factors of three or four to get better growth. This is no surprise since plants and animals evolved when CO2 concentrations were about 10 times larger than they are today.”

    The evolution of plant and animals occurred over millions of years, when species had time to evolve and adapt to changing atmosphere and hydrosphere conditions. When changes occur at rates to which plants and animals cannot adapt, such as the current rate of 2 ppm CO2/year, unprecedented in geological history, mass extinction of species becomes a reality.

  21. BillD says:

    As a scientist, I still find it surprising that people with advanced degrees would publically sign on to the notion that “the warmed has stoppped” or greatly slowed when when the last 11 years represent 10 of the warmest years in the modern record. Too bad that many business types who read WSJ may believe them.

  22. BG says:

    Joe,

    Many thanks for taking the time to rebut WSJ’s biased, childish heap of lies and misinformation. It’s sad that it should need refutation, but apparently this is the world we live in. Thank you again.

  23. Anderlan says:

    You missed one of the greatest reasons for reduced warming this decade, one that fits into a typical conservative’s narrative of Chinese recklessness. Rupert media already knows all about it.

    Remember the foxnation spin?
    http://nation.foxnews.com/greenhouse-gases/2011/07/05/reuters-bombshell-greenhouse-gas-emissions-reduce-global-warming

    Here it is more honestly explained:
    http://www.wjla.com/blogs/weather/2011/07/is-china-s-coal-pollution-helping-slow-down-global-warming–11743.html

  24. Anderlan says:

    (I mention the a typical conservative’s narrative above because I really do try to work on this problem and the policy solution always within conservatives’ own worldview(s). Understand your opponent, and make him not your opponent, without even changing him.)

  25. dana1981 says:

    Nice rebuttal Joe. Here’s the Skeptical Science version:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/examining-the-latest-climate-denialist-plea-for-inaction.html

    As you note, the arguments made in this op-ed weren’t even hard to rebut. It’s just the same old garbage we see on denialist blogs like WUWT every day. Pretty sad that these “prominent scientists” (as the deniers have described them) can’t make more intelligent arguments than Anthony Watts.

  26. fencepostman says:

    Several points. 1. Naomi Oreskes points out that the tobacco industry was found guilty of criminal conspiracy to defraud the American people under the RICO statute. She says her studies indicate that not only is the same tobacco industry strategy (“doubt is our product”) being used on the climate change issue, but some of the same people are involved.

    2. The ocean heat content data from von Schuckmann and Le Traon is the most precise and most recent confirmation of what Hansen has been calling the “smoking gun for global warming” since at least 2005. He said then that the measurement of ocean heat content available at that time was good enough that “there can no longer be substantial doubt that human-made gases are the cause of most observed warming”. He has been calling attention to the fundamental importance of measurement of ocean heat storage data for decades. Hansen has said this is an unprecedented rate of change in the oceans: if a rate of ocean warming of this order of magnitude had persisted for even a few tens of millenia at any time in Earth’s history the ocean above the thermocline would have heated to beyond 100 degrees C. http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/news/20050428/

    3. I would be careful before pronouncing I agreed with the Trenberth idea, i.e. that “the very recent surface temperature data might not be keeping up with the other data showing global warming because… the heat was buried in the ocean and sequestered perhaps well below the surface”. We’re in the realm of “un” settled science here.

    For one thing, keep in mind that Trenberth led the IPCC AR4 group which concluded the shortest time period over which it is meaningful to say surface temperature data indicates global warming is 25 years. Now that observation networks of all aspects of the planetary system have improved, Trenberth and many others want to be able to explain every little short time period squiggle in the global surface temperature chart. But distortion of his statements of frustration as he tries to do this were at the root of Climategate.

    And for another thing, Trenberth’s idea is being directly contradicted by Hansen. Hansen republished Trenberth’s “missing energy” chart in his “Earth’s Energy Imbalance and Implications” paper, and just below it he put his own chart showing that his estimate is that there is no missing energy.

    Trenberth says the Top Of Atmosphere satellite measurements of energy are accurate enough to lead him to question analyses of ocean heat storage, eg. ARGO float data, which don’t show his “missing energy”. Trenberth’s modelling indicates the heat is being stashed in the ocean somewhere and he’s looking for it. Hansen, on the other hand, says he now thinks “most models” are wrong because they send too much heat into the deep ocean. He says the idea that satellites could measure Earth’s energy imbalance at the top of atmosphere to the degree of precision required is “prima facie preposterous”. Hansen is trying to come up with a better way to model what happens to heat in the oceans.

    We should try to be clear about what scientists are in agreement about, i.e. that humans are causing an accumulation of greenhouse gases which is rapidly warming the planet, and what they are not in agreement about, i.e. what can explain the most recent squiggles in the global average surface temperature chart.

  27. I have heard from several friends in finance who rely on WSJ for their news and views – reality. Can’t overstate how much damage this does. Their reaction to Joe’s excellent rebuttal is “don’t know who to believe”… What I find the most shocking is not Murdoch, but the association of preeminent universities such as Princeton and MIT with these “16 scientists”. A formal “rebuttal” and disassociation from them is in order. I wrote a dean on a similar issue once and was amazed at how he “closed ranks” with his (misguided and in that case unethical) professor…
    thanks for this excellent summary joe-
    john

  28. fj says:

    A very sloppy act of desperation.

    The powers exist to call these people in front of the public to explain themselves.

    They will be embarrassed as the fool messengers they are.

    As the local politician said after the arrest of one of the Murdochs for bribery in Australia:

    “Murdoch is an enemy of Democracy.

  29. bratisla says:

    Missed first time the fact that Claude Allegre has signed that. As a frenchman and geophysicist, just a few words about him :

    1) he paints himself as a “free thinker” , his curriculum says otherwise. He took the head of the research institute IPGP, where he manoeuvered to get his position by ejecting several geophysicists (fortunately, they bolstered other research institutes), and later he placed his pawn Courtillot ; the current state of IPGP is a direct consequence of his manoeuvers.
    He took then the head of the French Geological Survey, where he did nothing much … except torpedoing it in favour of IPGP and selling at a vastly underrated price the most profitable mine of South America (Yonacocha). I know several people working at BRGM who knew him, and they have very strong aversion against him.
    Then, thanks to his “friend” Jospin who became Prime Minister, he went to the head of Education and Research State Department, where he became a hero for the stupidest conservatives and hated by scientists and teachers.
    Then liberals lost elections, and he did not get any position, so he went for climatoscepticism. But since Conservatives (especially Nicolas Sarkozy) thought about hiring him, he stopped that – and resumed after he was not taken during the last government change.
    The fact he signed this open letter shows that he won’t have any government position soon …

    2) about the scientist, two points :
    – for climate, for which he is not a specialist, he knowingly misquoted Grudd by “tweaking” his figure in order to obtain a cooling.
    – of course, he never published anything serious about climate, and his pawn Courtillot only managed to do some mathturbation about correlations …
    – finally, he was caught in a scandal : as an Elsevier editor, and against ethic rules of Elsevier, he edited without warning other editors some articles from pals. One other of his pawns, Claude Taponnier, was also caught.

    You see, his history is as interesting as the suspects you are more familiar, the Lindzen , Harrison and others …

  30. rusty2000 says:

    Why is it that the NY Times was more interested in Sarah Palin’s emails than they were in the Climategate emails? Head-in-sand?

  31. Joan Savage says:

    In Frank Luther Mott’s definition of yellow journalism, he lists use of pseudoscience and sensational headlines, among several characteristics. The WSJ sank low on this one.
    Murdoch’s media outlets obviously profit from selling papers and advertising. The WSJ opinion piece generated over 2400 comments, far past the comment cut-off for many papers. The WSJ has whipped up some readership reaction, rather like in the old days of yellow journalism battles for readers.

  32. Nick Palmer says:

    Surely this denialist WSJ article shoots their case badly in it’s own foot.

    It is so simplistic, and the quality of argument used (most of us here could have done a lot better!) is so amateurish, and so obviously strung together purely to sway the insufficiently knowledgeable general public that it truly reeks that they have lost the plot.

    A well crafted snappy response to these ridiculous long debunked points, in full public view, could be very valuable at setting public perceptions straight again.

  33. The best thing we can say about the silly sixteen authors of the WSJ piece is that they are ardent recyclers (of old, debunked statements).

  34. Tom says:

    I could care less at this point. Once the Republicans and other CONservatives run out of food and want to get it from my drought-tolerant veggie garden, I will simply say, “Not only NO, but….”

  35. Texas Aggie says:

    Whenever I read articles like this that present reality in incontrovertible forms, I think that it’s impossible for the deniers to read this and continue in their denial. And everytime, I’m wrong. There are always a bunch of them that appear out from somewhere doing their best to distort and deny what is plain in front of their noses, and this article is no exception.

    You wonder how these people manage to survive without adult supervision. The only think I can conclude is that they are deliberately being deceitful because their life style depends on it.

    It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. -Upton Sinclair,

  36. Lisa says:

    I’ve said it quite a few times and I’ll say it again – I’m going to trust NASA rocket scientists over some conservative pundit or lobbyists from corporations that have a stake in the climate change debate, to the effect that their pollution or products effect said climate change.

    Anyone can get a handful of scientists to defend their claim. Particularly if they have the money to find them.

  37. Dave Price says:

    *throws her way