Episode 5: Show notes

On this weeks show: EPA says CO2 reduction is cheap, Idiot politician of the week, Expert credibility on climate change, lying deniers, A 5 month old apology from the Sunday Times, lies polls and damned lying polls, the skeptic debunk of the week, whale poop and carbon dioxide.

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EPA analysis of the Kerry-Lieberman climate bill

To Tackle Climate Change, You Have To Actually Tackle Climate Change

Yesterday, the EPA released its modeling of the Kerry-Lieberman climate bill. A lot of the coverage focused on the agency’s conclusion that the cap-and-trade program would be quite affordable—costing families less than a dollar a day. But I’d say the most salient part of the analysis was the section Brad Johnson highlighted: If the United States passes something like the Kerry-Lieberman climate bill and helps negotiate an international agreement on carbon emissions, we’ll have a 75 percent chance of keeping temperature rises below the danger zone of 2°C. But if we do nothing, our chances of meeting that goal are roughly 1 percent.

That’s the difference between barreling headlong toward catastrophe and staying safe.

Idiot politician of the week

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvKZh3EY9S4&hl=en_US&fs=1]

Joe Barton apologizes to BP CEO for getting our Gulf in the way of his oil

Smokey Joe Barton- who you might remember from such classic hits as “F*ckin’ plate tectonics- how do they work?” and arguing against using wind turbines to generate electricity because doing so might interfere with God’s regulation of the climatehas reached a new level of industry sycophancy today, apologizing to BP CEO Tony Hayward for President Obama “forcing” BP to create a $20 billion “slush fund” (the escrow account BP agreed to yesterday):

I apologize. I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure that, again, in my words, amounts to some sort of a shakedown.

Yes. How dare the administration “shake down” BP by getting it to mutually agree to a figure that could easily be a third of what the company would otherwise face. What horrors might the Obama dictatorship unleash upon industry next, actual enforcement of existing regulations governing drilling? *shudder*

But wait! There’s less!

Barton, after getting eviscerated online and in the media, decided to apologize again. And for what did he apologize? Basically, he apologized because we — the public and the media — misunderstood what he said.

“I want to be absolutely clear that I think BP is responsible for this accident, should be held responsible and should in every way do everything possible to make good on the consequences that have resulted from this accident,” he said. “And if anything I said this morning has been misconstrued to the opposite effect I want to apologize for that misconstrued misconstruction.”

[Emphasis mine]

<sarcasm>Certainly, there was no way any rational person could possibly interpret what he said as Barton thinking BP wasn’t responsible for the accident. I’m glad he made that clear. And I’m glad he apologizes for the entire planet having misconstrued what he said.</sarcasm>

Sigh. Nothing makes insincerity more glaringly obvious than when someone says “I’m sorry you misunderstood me.”* Politicians, let me help you out here: that’s not an apology. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of an apology.

Barton on CO2 as a carcinogen

Barton on Adaptation

Expert credibility in climate change

Study Abstract:

Although preliminary estimates from published literature and expert surveys suggest striking agreement among climate scientists on the tenets of anthropogenic climate change (ACC), the American public expresses substantial doubt about both the anthropogenic cause and the level of scientific agreement underpinning ACC. A broad analysis of the climate scientist community itself, the distribution of credibility of dissenting researchers relative to agreeing researchers, and the level of agreement among top climate experts has not been conducted and would inform future ACC discussions. Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.

Study Conclusions:

97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.

Furthermore, researchers with fewer than 20 climate publications comprise ≈80% the UE group, as opposed to less than 10% of the CE group. This indicates that the bulk of UE researchers on the most prominent multisignatory statements about climate change have not published extensively in the peer-reviewed climate literature.

the expertise and prominence, two integral components of overall expert credibility, of climate researchers convinced by the evidence of [anthropogenic climate change] vastly overshadows that of the climate change skeptics and contrarians.

An illustration of the climate change debate

So what does this two hump structure mean? If there were no malice involved, a two-humped opinion spectrum would mean there is an alternative theory, either ascendant or in decline, to the mainstream. There would be, in such a case, no consensus. But in the present case, we discover to our astonishment that the much broader mainstream hump has a much more coherent set of beliefs about how the system works. It is the narrower, smaller hump that contains a vast plethora of competing hypotheses. That is to say, the smaller hump doesn’t represent a position, but simply the union of a very large array of positions agreed on only one thing.

“Not the IPCC. Very not the IPCC.”

By creating this debate they keep the increasingly shallow and lazy press occupied whenever they wander onto this turf, which is rarely enough. Consequently, the real risk spectrum remains invisible to the public.

The trouble is the masquerade. By approaching as reasonable colleagues, the bad guys appeal to our fundamental strength/weakness. Our interest in challenging ourselves in pursuit of truth is wasted on people whose challenge is not dedicated to us but to the peanut gallery; whose acceptance of our challenges is likewise. We find ourselves wasting enormous amounts of time on pretend science.

This leaves us with two very big questions.

How can we protect science from this sort of attack? That is a very big question indeed, but it is trivial compared to the second one.

How can we protect society from this sort of scientific charade? That’s the gigantic, crucial one. Without reliable communication channels between science and society, any modern society has a very poor prognosis.


Peilke Jr. calls this a black list. Watts says it doesn’t get any uglier than this (and makes references to Nazi Germany, which I missed the first time around but discussed in episode 6). And James Delingpole looses all semblance of sanity.

Jim Prall on the denier’s hypocracy:

for Marc Morano’s [who has played a key role in spreading dis-information about this study] attempt to Swiftboat this as “Stasi-esque”: what amazing gall! He’s famous for having built a long list of climate skeptics during his term with Sen. Inhofe. Hypocrite! Why wasn’t that list “Stasi-esque?” Just because he agreed with their “side”?…

Morano publicized his list relentlessly, and listed many more names as skeptics than I have. Morano also tended to quotemine, leading to false positives where the person in question would protest their inclusion as unrepresentative of their actual views, yet Morano would refuse to take them off. He’d just point to the mined quote he had, ignoring anything the source might say about being taken out of context or trying to tell him what their actual views are.

If the fear is that someone biased against supporters of one “side” could focus their bias on people on a list, why was it okay for Morano to subject people to that risk with his list? Was Morano’s list “Stasi-esque” as well? If not, why not?

Deniers making stuff up

Mike Hulme sets Lawrence Solomon and Marc Morano straight

The latest false scandal in climate science hit the blogosphere over the weekend. National Post columnist Lawrence Solomon [not to be confused with atmospheric chemist and IPCC WG1 chair Susan Solomon] wrote a column with the outlandish claim:

The UN’s IPCC misled the press and public into believing that thousands of scientists backed its claims on manmade global warming, according to Mike Hulme, a prominent climate scientist and IPCC insider.

Charges of  a “phony UN IPCC consensus” are already reverberating on contrarian blogs around the world, thanks to the quick efforts of climate science disinformation specialist Marc Morano.

But now Mike Hulme, a professor of climate change at the University of East Anglia, has set the record straight. His “correcting and clarifying” statement is unambiguous in its disavowal of Solomon’s and Morano’s misinterpretation:

I did not say the ‘IPCC misleads’ anyone – it is claims that are made by other commentators, such as the caricatured claim I offer in the paper, that have the potential to mislead.

Fabricated quote used to discredit climate scientist

“Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen,” Sir John was supposed to have said in 1994…

The trouble is, Sir John Houghton has never said what he is quoted as saying. The words do not appear in his own book on global warming, first published in 1994, despite statements to the contrary. In fact, he denies emphatically that he ever said it at any time, either verbally or in writing.

Amazon(non)gate A retraction 5 months too late

The article “UN climate panel shamed by bogus rainforest claim” (News, Jan 31) stated that the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report had included an “unsubstantiated claim” that up to 40% of the Amazon rainforest could be sensitive to future changes in rainfall. The IPCC had referenced the claim to a report prepared for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) by Andrew Rowell and Peter Moore, whom the article described as “green campaigners” with “little scientific expertise.” The article also stated that the authors’ research had been based on a scientific paper that dealt with the impact of human activity rather than climate change.

In fact, the IPCC’s Amazon statement is supported by peer-reviewed scientific evidence. In the case of the WWF report, the figure had, in error, not been referenced, but was based on research by the respected Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM) which did relate to the impact of climate change. We also understand and accept that Mr Rowell is an experienced environmental journalist and that Dr Moore is an expert in forest management, and apologise for any suggestion to the contrary.

The article also quoted criticism of the IPCC’s use of the WWF report by Dr Simon Lewis, a Royal Society research fellow at the University of Leeds and leading specialist in tropical forest ecology. We accept that, in his quoted remarks, Dr Lewis was making the general point that both the IPCC and WWF should have cited the appropriate peer-reviewed scientific research literature. As he made clear to us at the time, including by sending us some of the research literature, Dr Lewis does not dispute the scientific basis for both the IPCC and the WWF reports’ statements on the potential vulnerability of the Amazon rainforest to droughts caused by climate change.

In addition, the article stated that Dr Lewis’ concern at the IPCC’s use of reports by environmental campaign groups related to the prospect of those reports being biased in their conclusions. We accept that Dr Lewis holds no such view – rather, he was concerned that the use of non-peer-reviewed sources risks creating the perception of bias and unnecessary controversy, which is unhelpful in advancing the public’s understanding of the science of climate change. A version of our article that had been checked with Dr Lewis underwent significant late editing and so did not give a fair or accurate account of his views on these points. We apologise for this.

Amazon(non)gate background

Consistently bad science reporting by Jonathan Leake: Leakegate

The Skeptic debunk of the week

Consensus by John Cook

Around 95% of active climate researchers agree that global warming exists and that human activity is a significant contributing factor.

Whale poop and CO2

Sperm whale faeces may help oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the air, scientists say.

Australian researchers calculate that Southern Ocean sperm whales release about 50 tonnes of iron every year.

This stimulates the growth of tiny marine plants – phytoplankton – which absorb CO2 during photosynthesis.

The process results in the absorption of about 400,000 tonnes of carbon – more than twice as much as the whales release by breathing, the study says.

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