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Posts tagged "denial"
How do you manage to stay so calm and civil and not get angry at the politicisation of climate change? It baffles me how newspapers like the Telegraph and political parties like UKIP can have a stance on climate change, and a denialist one at that. It simply isn't a political question, it's a scientific one - the atmosphere doesn't care who you vote for, it's warming up regardless. Do you think we'll ever get past this silly political rubbish and use actual facts to convince the deniers?
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hey procyonvulpecula!

Good question, but deniers don’t phase me (reactionary environmentalists grind my gears though!). I’ve argued on this blog that I’d rather have climate deniers state their case on the record now, for posterity. My previous post shows this as well - that climate deniers do not have any evidence, but they sure are masters of smoke and diversions.

It’s the same as getting politicians on record as racists and bigots - it will be used against them time and again. Eventually they’ll come around, you just have to be persistent, even keeled, and take the long view (often beyond your generation - the essence of sustainability, right?).

I’d also like to mention that I consider myself a steward rather than an activist. See here for what that means.

Light always leads to truth. I’m trained to convincingly argue the other side of nearly any issue - and deniers simply do not have a single, coherent argument against climate change.

But man, deniers do have very, very powerful arguments against taxation! That is, they deny climate change exists and their reasons almost always are: Big bad government shouldn’t punish energy companies by taxing carbon. After all, where would we be with out them? After all, you have to admit that reading this blog post on your computer or phone cannot happen with out the miracle of fossil fuels. After all, plastic and metals and economic development require burning fossil fuels. After all, socialism doesn’t work. After all, alternative energy is a waste of tax payer money. Most powerful is taxing carbon will raise the cost of gas and electricity - this appeals to everyone.

Do you see what just happened there? If you found yourself arguing against these points, then you’ve fallen into their trap. Don’t fall for it. Instead, paraphrase their argument so as to establish understanding of their point of view and then demand evidence for their points.

Climate change, aka the greenhouse effect, has been known since the 1800s. There is no sky with out greenhouse gasses. To deny that emitting greenhouse gasses does not thicken the sky is to say that the air around us - the atmosphere - does not exist. It is an absurdity.

In fact, every major oil company has a climate change division. Most have active climate change plans aimed at reducing emissions, managing environmental risks, and experimenting with alternatives to reduce climate impacts. Importantly, these are voluntary efforts.* The companies chose to manage and discuss climate risk.

Here are links to the biggest oil and gas companies’ climate pages:

See also, Skeptical Science post Big Oil and the Demise of Crude Climate Change Denial.

The question is: What - exactly - do deniers know that these companies do not? And why are these companies not listening to (or hiring) deniers?

There are more “sophisticated” denier arguments. “It’s snowing,” “the climate has changed before,” “that Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick graph is a hoax,” “it’s the sun,” “it’s the moon,” “the earth is cooling,” “computer models are unreliable,” etc. You can read over 150 of these here.

But none of them have data to back these arguments up (again, see here for a list of common denier arguments and why they’re all wrong [e.g., no evidence]). Most interesting is that almost all of these lead to the same conclusion: big bad government should not tax oil and gas companies (bizzare, right?).

So, to me, when I read a climate denial I mainly see that they’re concerned with taxation - a legitimate concern and a more interesting conversation.

The trouble is falling into traps - avoid responding to their points and learn how to tactfully demand evidence.


* If you are discussing this with an informed denier, they may counter that oil companies were forced by the U.S. federal government to create these climate divisions. Thus, 1) Demand for evidence or stfu (remember: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and the burden of proof is always upon the claimant). For example, to say that the U.S. forced, say, Petrochina into managing climate change issues would require the denier to show the agreement and/or documents. 2) Most oil companies are not publicly traded on the U.S. boards. Publicly traded companies are required to disclose any environmental risks to their share holders. They do this on a form called a 10-K. In 2010, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) *asked* corporations to *voluntarily* disclose any climate risks to their share holders. Most companies hired experts to examine their operations. The resulting reports showed that many companies are not at risk, and they say this on their 10-Ks. Oil companies did the same, and found their operations are in fact at risk. So, they voluntarily disclose this information, and they did so publicly. In fact, some companies went further and opened up R&D to help reduce emissions and expand into renewable energies like solar and wind. So, don’t get pulled into the counter-argument that companies were “forced” to acknowledge 10-K disclosure. They weren’t.

Seems more accurate since they’re experts at mocking and deficient at science.

  • sat·ire noun 1. the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc. 2. a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule. 

  • sci·ence noun 1. a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws: the mathematical sciences. 2. systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.

Life as a Target 

Attacks on my work aimed at undermining climate change science have turned me into a public figure. I have come to embrace that role.  By Michael E. Mann | March 27, 2013

As a climate scientist, I have seen my integrity perniciously attacked. Politicians have demanded I be fired from my job because of my work demonstrating the reality and threat of human-caused climate change. I’ve been subjected to congressional investigations by congressman in the pay of the fossil fuel industry and was the target of what The Washington Post referred to as a “witch hunt” by Virginia’s reactionary Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. I have even received a number of anonymous death threats. My plight is dramatic, but unfortunately, it is not unique; climate scientists are regularly the subject of such attacks. This cynicism is part of a destructive public-relations campaign being waged by fossil fuel companies, front groups, and individuals aligned with them in an effort to discredit the science linking the burning of fossil fuels with potentially dangerous climate change.

My work first appeared on the world stage in the late 1990s with the publication of a series of articles estimating past temperature trends. Using information gathered from records in nature, like tree rings, corals, and ice cores, my two coauthors and I had pieced together variations in the Earth’s temperature over the past 1,000 years. What we found was that the recent warming, which coincides with the burning of fossil fuels during the Industrial Revolution, is an unprecedented aberration in this period of documented temperature changes, and recent work published in the journal Science suggests that the recent warming trend has no counterpart for at least the past 11,000 years, and likely longer. In a graph featured in our manuscript, the last century sticks out like the blade of an upturned hockey stick.

The graph, now known as the hockey-stick graph, has become an icon in the climate-change debate, providing potent, graphic evidence of human-caused climate change. As a result, the fossil fuel industry and those who do their bidding saw the need to discredit it in any way they could, and I have found myself at the receiving end of attacks and threats of investigations, as I describe in my recent book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars. In 2003, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) denounced my work on the Senate floor and called me to testify to his committee under hostile questioning. Two years later, House Representative Joe Barton (R-TX) attempted to subpoena all of my emails and research documents from my entire career, and the correspondence and files of both my senior coauthors, presumably looking for some way to both intimidate and discredit me. Inhofe and Barton are two of the largest recipients of fossil fuel money in the U.S. Congress. More recently, Ken Cuccinelli, the newly minted “Tea Party” Republican Attorney General of Virginia, took a page out of the same playbook, demanding all of my emails with 39 different scientists around the world from my time at the University of Virginia, claiming that he was investigating potential state fraud.

Meanwhile, I’ve also been subject to a constant onslaught of character attacks and smears on websites, in op-eds, and on right-leaning news outlets, usually by front groups or individuals tied to fossil fuel interests like ExxonMobil or the petrochemical tycoons, the Koch Brothers. As the journal Nature put it a March 2010 editorial, climate researchers are in a street fight with those who seek to discredit the accepted scientific evidence simply because it is inconvenient for some who are profiting from fossil fuel use.

But being the focus of such attacks has a silver lining: I’ve become an accidental public figure in the debate over human-caused climate change.

Rest of his post at The Scientist

Now watching: Climate Skepticism & Science’s Role in Political Science. 

A panel of climate and science experts discuss the role science plays in fostering healthy skepticism of political science regarding the climate. The percentage of Americans today who say humans are the primary cause of global warming is much lower than it was in the second term of President George W. Bush.

Skeptics are winning the climate communication battle even as temperatures rise and the number and intensity of floods and droughts increase worldwide. What role does the scientist play in the communication, and what messages will reach the skeptics’ ears?

Michael Mann, professor of Geosciences at Penn State and author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, spoke of the so-called “hockey stick” curve he and his co-authors published more than a decade ago. The curve showed that “recent warming exceeded anything that we’ve seen for at least the past 1,000 years,” Mann explained. The graph became an icon in the climate change debate. “If I’m going to be put in the limelight in the way that our detractors have tried to put me in the limelight,” Mann stated, “I’m going to try to take advantage of that, and the book was part of my effort to do that.”

According to Katharine Hayhoe, professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas Tech University and co-author of A Climate for Change, Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions, climate change is so polarized right now, “that if we, as scientists, are not getting attacked, then we’re not talking to the right people.” Comparing herself to a doctor who finds a red flag for a potential disease, she said, “We’re taking the temperature of the planet, we’re seeing some red flags and we have a responsibility to tell people about that.”

Bill Anderegg, a Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University researching forests and the American West, spoke of a study his team did on climate change, which was widely accepted by scientists. According to Anderegg, the study did two things: “First, we found that there’s an incredibly high agreement behind what the IPCC had articulated as the main components of human-caused climate change. And second, that those who are publicly doubting and expressing their lack of agreement essentially were not very well qualified.” He spoke of his surprise at the immediate backlash: “Suddenly, your e-mail address is across a dozen blogs that are not very friendly.”

I had a client tell me the other day that we're not headed towards a warm climate, but an ice age. The planet has to warm up in order to cool down. (or so he claimed). Is there any truth to this?
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hi nturlbruntt!

Thanks for your note and absolutely not! The earth is at its hottest point in over 11,000 years.


Your client believes a rumor from the 1970s, one that won’t die apparently. It was dismissed, debunked, defrocked, and deblorgged decades ago, but has resurfaced as a rather brilliant right-wing political talking point.

97% of climate scientists agree the earth is warming. This is the highest agreement in any of the sciences in all of history. Second, the vast majority of scientists in the 1970s agreed global warming was occurring, that humans are causing it by emitting greenhouse gases, and that the earth is in big, big trouble.

Back in 2005, climate scientists at Real Climate took the time to discuss the origins of the rumor, show who restarted it, and describe why it’s completely false. You an read their post, here.

In 2008, the American Meteorological Society published a special article on this myth. It’s a great read, very short. It describes the history of the myth (it also gives a glimpse at how scientists suck at PR).

Lastly, Skeptical Science ranks it as the 11th most discussed myth. They published a simplified, easy to read summary of the myth called: “What were climate scientists predicting in the 1970s?, which shows that scientists back then were very worried about warming.

At the end of the day, your client is acting as proxy for the fossil fuel industry. This may sound crazy, but his/her’s real argument is that oil and gas should not be regulated, that they should be able to pollute without regulations. People who argue that that the world is cooling, instead of warming, are really saying that there is no need to regulate pollution or emissions.

What’s even more bizarre is that they may not even realize this.

Naomi Oreskes discusses how this happened in her book, Merchants of Doubt, which shows that oil and gas industries hired the same public relations experts that defended the tobacco industry in the 80s. Recall that the tobacco industry - and the politicians they donated to - denied that cigarettes caused cancer (seriously), and they successfully perpetuated that myth for decades.

And that, my friend, is how an industry and politicians manipulate public opinion.



The Anti-Science Left. A wonderful set of interviews on how the left denies science. (Warning: Chris Moody is as smug as ever, but the rest of the video is great.). They discuss Mark Lynas’s switch from anti-GMO to supporting GMOs by looking at the reams of scientific data. The great science writer Michael Shermer discusses evolution and climate change, and makes the case that despite all the doom in the news, humans and the environment are much better now than ever in history. Great conversation.

The SCDNR’s climate report was supposed to be published in 2012, but new leadership changed focused on expanding a shipping port and building a the East Coast’s largest gold mine.

The report warns of dire economic circumstances if nothing is done. One scientist even quit due to (it seems to me) political in-fighting within the Department.

Secret climate report calls for action in SC

A team of state scientists has outlined serious concerns about the damage South Carolina will suffer from climate change – threats that include invading eels, dying salt marshes, flooded homes and increased diseases in the state’s wildlife.

But few people have seen the team’s study. The findings are outlined in a report on global warming that has been kept secret by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources for more than a year because agency officials say their “priorities have changed.”

Current DNR director Alvin Taylor said the department is busy with other environmental matters, such as port expansions in Charleston and Savannah, and a massive gold mine planned for Lancaster County.

Via The State



PBS Documentary Looks at Right-Wing Promotion of Ignorance Through Textbooks.

(Sierra Voices) - Texas textbooks determine what children learn nationwide.

“I believe that dinosaurs were on Noah’s Ark … somebody’s got to stand up to these experts.” (Don McElroy, former member of the Texas State Board of Education).


Well, no wonder the GOP wants to defund PBS. Where can I send them a donation??!

What is this?

(via upworthy)

I struggled deciding to post this video on Communicating climate science to the public. But I opted to post it anyway to show that it is totally OK to criticize experts in your own field.

The video is not dated, despite that Columbia University hosted this event back in 2010. The issues discussed really are relevant today.

Three distinguished scientists walk you through the issues and challenges of communicating climate science to the public:

  • Gavin Schmidt, climate modeler at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, co-founder of the blog Real, and co-author of a popular science book Climate Change: Picturing the Science.
  • Ned Gardiner, Climate Visualization Project Manager at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Climate Program Office.
  • Sabine Marx, Managing Director at the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED) at Columbia University.

The first panelist, Gavin Schmidt, who is utterly brilliant on, is flat, rambling, and just plain boring. I learned nothing from him other than his contempt for politicians, which is both repulsive for a scientist and ironic to convey considering he’s advocating communicating with them.

Gardiner brings up the fact that most Americans are terrible at reading and understanding basic charts and graphs, for example, which makes communication really difficult for the scientist. Good point, but he doesn’t provide a solution.

And that’s basically how I felt throughout the entire hour+ while watching this - smart people discussing simplified themes with contempt for the public and the politicians they (we) voted to represent us.

True, the panelists are experts in their fields. They are revered, credentialed scientists with public personas. This brings much needed credibility to the conceptual problem of communicating science to the public. But they don’t do a great job of explaining the difficulties of communication, nor do they provide tested examples with any sort of stickiness. Gardiner dances around this issue of getting scientific concepts to stick, and he points to the media’s lack of scientific understanding. But he just misses his opportunity to nail his points home with any clarity.

My gut thinks this talk was rather generic and vague and overall does a disservice to the important concept of communicating science.

You might be asking: If Michael is so sour on this talk, why did he even post it? I think it’s to show that even experts in communications struggle with the issue of communicating science with the public. For example, their personal biases shade their overall points.On the one hand, they want their fellow scientists to make greater efforts to communicate with politicians. On the other, the panelists spent several minutes completely dismissing and condescending those very same politicians.

And maybe that’s my secondary point of posting this. That critical thinking is required when watching these talks. Just because someone is respected in their field doesn’t mean that they’re any good at advocating for change. In other words, it’s OK to be critical of the critics…

It’s Climate Science Communications Week at Climate Adaptation!  For the entire week of Feb. 18 - 23, I’ll cover how climate change is discussed by the media, scientists, researchers, academics, and politicians. If you have sources or ideas on communicating climate change, send to:

The Center for Climate Change Communication (4C) conducts unbiased research and surveys of the public’s perception of climate change. The surveys follow strict scientific design standards and analysis, and the results are published free to the public. I worked with Edward Maibach, the director of 4C last year, on a few interesting projects last year.

More About 4C:

We use social science research methods – experiments, surveys, in-depth interviews and other methods – to find ways of effectively engaging the public and policy makers in the problem, and in considering and enacting solutions. Social science research has played important roles in many social change campaigns over the past several decades, including reducing smoking and littering, and increasing seat belt use and recycling. 

4C’s Mission

Our mission is to conduct unbiased public engagement research - and to help government agencies, non-profit organizations, and companies apply the results of this research - so that collectively, we can stabilize our planet’s life sustaining climate.

4C is the premier source for these types of surveys. Their reports are easy to read and comprehend, and think-tanks and the public use 4C’s findings on a regular basis.

Here is a sampling of their reports

  • The Climate Change in the American Mind Series - Fall 2012In Fall 2012, we conducted our latest national survey on Americans’ climate change and energy beliefs, attitudes, policy support, and behavior. The first report focused on the 7% of voters who were undecided about the upcoming Presidential election.  The majority of these… Read More
  • Climate Change in the Indian MindIn November and December 2011, members of our research team conducted a study investigating the Indian public’s climate change awareness, beliefs, attitudes, policy support, and behaviors. A total of 4031 people, from both rural and urban areas, responded to the survey…. Read More
  • The Political Benefits of Taking a Pro-Climate Stand in 2012This brief report draws upon data from a nationally representative survey conducted in March 2012 (Climate Change in the American Mind) and other research to investigate the question: On balance, will candidates for political office benefit or be harmed by talking about and… Read More
  • The Climate Change in the American Mind Series, Spring 2012In March 2012, we conducted a national survey on Americans’ climate change and energy beliefs, attitudes, policy support, and behavior. The first report shows that a large majority of Americans say they personally experienced an extreme weather event or natural disaster in… Read More

It’s Climate Science Communications Week at Climate Adaptation!   For the entire week of Feb. 18 - 23, I’ll cover how climate change is discussed by the media, scientists, researchers, academics, and politicians. If you have sources or ideas on communicating climate change, send to:

79 plays

Why do most TV Meteorologists deny climate change? Surprisingly, most are not trained in climatology. NPR dives in to explore how some meteorologists are working to change that problem. (Side note, I worked with Ed Maibach on a few projects last year. He runs George Masons’ Center for Climate Change Communication. Interesting guy.).

Forecasting Climate With A Chance Of Backlash

When it comes to climate change, Americans place great trust in their local TV weathercaster, which has led climate experts to see huge potential for public education.

The only problem? Polls show most weather presenters don’t know much about climate science, and many who do are fearful of talking about something so polarizing.

In fact, if you have heard a weathercaster speak on climate change, it’s likely been to deny it. John Coleman in San Diego and Anthony Watts of Watts Up With That? are among a group of vocal die-hards, cranking out blog posts and videos countering climate science. But even many meteorologists who don’t think it’s all a hoax still profoundly distrust climate models.

"They get reminded each and every day anytime their models don’t prove to be correct," says Ed Maibach, who directs the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, and has carried out several surveys of TV weathercasters. “For them, the whole notion of projecting what the climate will be 30, 50, a hundred years from now, they’ve got a fairly high degree of skepticism.”

And yet, Maibach has found that many meteorologists would like to learn more and would like to educate their viewers. A few years back, he hatched a plan and found a willing partner in an unlikely place.

Prepared For Backlash

"I loved it. That’s exactly what I wanted to do," says Jim Gandy, chief meteorologist at WLTX in Columbia, S.C.

Gandy had actually begun reading up on climate change several years earlier, when — to his surprise — a couple of geology professors at a party asked whether he thought global warming was real. Gandy was disturbed by what he learned and was game to go on air with it, even in what he calls a “dark red” state with a lot of “resistance” to the idea of climate change.

"We talked about it at length," he says, "and we were prepared for a backlash." Via

It’s Climate Science Communications Week at Climate Adaptation!   For the entire week of Feb. 18 - 23, I’ll cover how climate change is discussed by the media, scientists, researchers, academics, and politicians. If you have sources or ideas on communicating climate change, send to:

Conservative billionaires used a secretive funding route to channel nearly $120m (£77m) to more than 100 groups casting doubt about the science behind climate change, the Guardian has learned.

The funds, doled out between 2002 and 2010, helped build a vast network of thinktanks and activist groups working to a single purpose: to redefine climate change from neutral scientific fact to a highly polarising “wedge issue” for hardcore conservatives.

The millions were routed through two trusts, Donors Trust and the Donors Capital Fund, operating out of a generic town house in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington DC. Donors Capital caters to those making donations of $1m or more.

Whitney Ball, chief executive of the Donors Trust told the Guardian that her organisation assured wealthy donors that their funds would never be diverted to liberal causes.

The Guardian: “Secret funding helped build vast network of climate denial thinktanks.”

Money can buy time, but it can’t buy the truth.

Despite these achievements, the system by which Fair Trade USA hopes to achieve its ends is seriously flawed, limiting both its market potential and the benefits it provides growers and workers. Among the concerns are that the premiums paid by consumers are not going directly to farmers, the quality of Fair Trade coffee is uneven, and the model is technologically outdated. This article will examine why, over the past 20 years, Fair Trade coffee has evolved from an economic and social justice movement to largely a marketing model for ethical consumerism—and why the model persists regardless of its limitations.