The ops pages and climate science

What a great week in the local dailies for man-made climate change deniers! You’ve achieved parity with scientific consensus!

This morning in Daily Glean, Brian Lambert noted the Pioneer Press’ call for a Scopes Monkey Trial on global warming right here in Minnesota, noting: “Or … you could take a huge editorial risk and explain to your unconvinced (and not all that literate) readers what exactly ‘peer review’ means and how it works.”

Meanwhile, the Strib reprinted Sarah Palin’s Washington Post op-ed urging President Obama to boycott Copenhagen because some British scientists’ email misdeeds make us free to burn all the fossil fuel we want. Or something like that.

If you need a little eyewash after all this, the soon-to-be-defunct Editor & Publisher provides the backstory on how the Post eagerly lapped up Palin’s almost-certainly ghostwritten piece. (My take: page views.) And if you’d like to feel just a bit less played, I’d suggest this point-by-point rebuttal at the Atlantic that contextualizes the East Anglia mess. While the Strib did pair Palin’s emissions with good ol’ Tom Friedman (substituting a joint newspaper editorial online), the Atlantic piece is the sort of op-ed a daily should link to, at least on the web.

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Comments (18)

  1. Submitted by Annalise Cudahy on 12/10/2009 - 01:41 pm.

    Sigh. One more interesting debate that is impossible to have in our screwed up “culture”. Oh well.

  2. Submitted by dan buechler on 12/10/2009 - 02:30 pm.

    I noticed this too but never commented on it to anybody. Thanks for bringing it up! The ‘eds are about the only thing I scan in both papers, besides local business and front page news.

  3. Submitted by Stan Daniels on 12/10/2009 - 04:36 pm.

    Great links. Palin who knows nothing about science weighs in with rhetoric. Not to be outdone, Marc Ambinder who is a history major, weighs in at The Atlantic with opposite rhetoric.

    Both did nothing for the debate (and yes it is still a debate). Either way, we need to be very careful. The minority should always have a voice, answers like “everyone agrees the debate is over” is very dangerous. We have been wrong too many time on what we thought was absolute fact.

    The emails were damaging but that doesn’t mean that global warming is a farce. It does mean the subject deserves a open and honest debate. Seems some people don’t want that to happen.

  4. Submitted by Lance Groth on 12/10/2009 - 07:13 pm.

    Regarding Mr. Daniels comment on the need for debate, one must be careful to define the appropriate bounds for debate.

    The only meaningful debate on the validity of the science takes place within the scientific community, and there, largely within the specialty in question (climatology in this case). This occurs in the peer review process. Laymen have nothing useful to add here; the opinion of a burger-flipper on the validity of the science is irrelevant, since he is not equipped with the tools or expertise to critique the science.

    Public debate usefully concerns itself with the policy implications, if any, of the reported findings of science. Ideally, once scientific consensus has been reached (which is the case regarding anthropogenic global warming), the public debate concerns itself with what to do about it, factoring in costs and benefits of various proposals and weighing these against the consequences of doing nothing. It does not concern itself with questioning the validity of the science, which has already been determined.

    The problem with the AGW “debate” is that the denialist camp, often sponsored by the fossil fuels industries and egged-on by conservative talk show hosts, refuse to accept the science. They are not debating what to do about the finding that human produced greenhouse gases are impacting global climate, they are denying that such a thing is happening at all. They do this not on the basis of climatological research, but by misrepresentation, obfuscation, and general muddying of the waters – much the same as the tobacco companies did in denying the link between tobacco smoking and cancer, and for the same reason.

    So yes, let’s have the policy debate, recognizing that the science is settled. As for the denialist “debate”, it is a waste of time, the only purpose of which is to prop up the oil industry and maintain the high consumption lifestyle of people who don’t want to change, regardless of the cost to the global ecosystem and their fellow man.

  5. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 12/10/2009 - 09:12 pm.

    I wish the deniers were right. I wouldn’t have to change a thing about my life except to be less concerned about conservation. The biggest environmental threat would be gone.

    I’m glad Lance mentioned tobacco. It makes me more hopeful in a way. Cigarettes were proven to kill in the 1960’s and strongly suspected for decades before that, yet thanks to the ample funding of the Tobacco institute for it’s lobbyists and scientists willing to lie for the special interest dollar, and the refusal of many to believe the eggheads might actually know something, it took until recently to actually do anything about it.

    There are probably still smokers who insist the harm from tobacco is just a liberal hoax to control them, but basically science won. The same will probably happen with global warming, but I’m not so sure we have decades to overcome the lying special interests.

  6. Submitted by Jeff Michaels on 12/11/2009 - 10:16 am.

    My guess is that Lance Groth is not old enough to have been around in 1978 when those all-knowing scientists were warning us about the coming Ice Age. I was. In fact, I wrote an article about that upcoming “disaster” for an engineering magazine. Oops.

    If Lance is around long enough to be able to comb gray hair, he may find out there is a significant amount of uncertainty and error within the scientific community.

    Having worked in that field for over 30 years, I can tell you there is not complete agreement among scientists and engineers on the topic of global warming — despite the certainty of belief held by Lance and his fellow travelers.

  7. Submitted by david granneman on 12/11/2009 - 10:21 am.


  8. Submitted by david granneman on 12/11/2009 - 10:26 am.

    U.S. Senate Minority Report Update: More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims
    December 11, 2008

  9. Submitted by david granneman on 12/11/2009 - 10:27 am.

    the earth is cooling

  10. Submitted by David Hanners on 12/11/2009 - 11:05 am.

    Mr. Granneman’s spam posts aside, I wonder — Why don’t lay people ever sit around arguing over Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity or the Copenhagen Interpretation or Bernoulli’s Equation or Faraday’s Law of Induction? Yet when it comes to climate change, lay people feel perfectly confident arguing over something that is equally complex as all of the above.

    And I DO recall the talk years ago about the coming ice age. So what? The talk led to an increased push to better understand climate change, and that push led to more study and better modeling. That’s the nature of scientific progress.

  11. Submitted by david granneman on 12/11/2009 - 11:12 am.

    hello mr hanners
    i would be glad to discuss with you Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity. it is one of my favorite theorys.

  12. Submitted by Lance Groth on 12/11/2009 - 12:52 pm.

    @Jeff – In fact I’m 51, and well remember warnings of a cooling earth in the 70’s – but thanks for the condescension. Your view that it was an “oops” perfectly illustrates the obfuscation that denialists like to employ.

    The fact is that the natural cycles deniers like to cite would in fact be cooling the earth, were it not for human influence. The globe is warming because the greenhouse gases we’re dumping into the atmosphere are overwhelming the natural cooling trend. IOW the reversal of the cooling trend is further evidence supporting AGW.

    *sigh* These strawman arguments are so wearying.

    In general I detest engaging in these kinds of debates with deniers, because as I said it’s a complete waste of time, but I’ll bite just enough this time to pose a question:

    If you believe that adding more greenhouse gas to an atmosphere does not result in a temperature increase, you must come up with a model – which will withstand peer review – that explains why this is so. We know that the heat retention property of greenhouse gases operates with existing levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, or the earth would be an iceball. The surface is only livable because of the heat being retained by existing levels of these gases. So – what process is at work that changes the basic physical property of CO2 when you add even more of it to an atmosphere, such that it ceases to retain more heat?

    I love asking this question, because the deniers always just ignore it and starting spamming denialist links or rambling about natural cycles.

  13. Submitted by david granneman on 12/11/2009 - 02:54 pm.

    hello lance
    the model i will submit to you is the fact that earth’s temperature is mostly govened by solar activity. ice records show that the c02 increases lag behind rising earth temperatures by several hundred years. the reason for this is warmer temperatures caused by increased solar activity cause the oceans to release stored c02. there is no correlation to rising c02 level to earths temperatures. in the past decade earth’s temperature has dropped while c02 has continues to rise – NO CORRELATION THERE

  14. Submitted by Lance Groth on 12/11/2009 - 04:36 pm.

    David – that’s not a model, that’s an assertion, and it’s not even true.

    Heat retention in an atmosphere is a physical property of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Again, were this not true, the Earth would be an iceball. If you wish to assert that increased CO2 does not result in increased temperature, you must explain how and why the physical property of the gas is being changed (alchemy?), or what other process is removing the excess heat from the atmosphere. Oh wait, the ice is actually melting, so we know the latter isn’t happening. Oh darn, doesn’t that mean the former isn’t happening either?

    If you wish to assert that greenhouse gases do not retain heat (are not in fact greenhouse gases), then you’re living in a different universe with different laws of physics than the one I live in, and so there is no further reason to discuss it since we lack a common frame of reference.

    With that, I’ve tired of this game and will discuss the validity of the science no more. One might as well argue about the color of the sky.

  15. Submitted by david granneman on 12/11/2009 - 05:23 pm.

    this is what happens when you question the global warming frauds about their data.

  16. Submitted by david granneman on 12/11/2009 - 05:29 pm.

    hello lance
    you must not want to see real scientific information regarding global warming. the two videos clearly show the upper atmosqhere is not warming up as would be expected if c02 was causing increase heating. the major greenhouse gas responsible for regulating earth’s temperature is water vapor. water vapor comprises 95% percent of the greenhouse gases. c02 is a very minor component of the atmosphere.

  17. Submitted by David Hanners on 12/12/2009 - 11:15 am.

    Maybe it’s just me, but Mr. Granneman’s fanciful “science” would be easier to deal with if A) he’d discover the “shift” key and capitalize a letter every now and then, B) he’d take some interest in spelling (“theorys”??) and C) he’d make a cogent argument based on real science instead of punting to some denier video. Dueling URLs isn’t science. That’s what happens when we have folks who spend their days believing “It’s on YouTube, so it *has* to be real.”

    Then again, if his approach to using the language tells us anything about his approach to science….

  18. Submitted by david granneman on 12/12/2009 - 11:31 pm.

    hello all
    al gore admits c02 increases lag behind temperature change – see the proof from his own video.

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