Who are the global Warming Denialists?
A tougher question is, in a discipline as complex as climate science, how do you tell who the legitimate skeptics (those that ignore the reporting at the Independent for instance) are versus who are the denialists?
Again, it’s simple, because denialism is about tactics. Which global warming critics are the ones alleging conspiracies, cherry-picking data, and incessantly moving the goalposts? Which organizations hire these hacks to denigrate legitimate science?
The most obvious example of a hack anti-science global warming denialist would have to be Steven Milloy of Junkscience, who was smoked out by TNR last year as having been on the payroll of the cigarette companies (he was long a denier of the smoking/cancer link) for decades as well has having his organizations financed by oil companies. To its credit, Cato fired him, but to Cato’s eternal discredit, they hired the hack in the first place. Sourcewatch has a pretty fair characterization of his misdeeds, and if that isn’t enough, our scibling and anti-denialist extraordinaire Tim Lambert has a whole category devoted to his shilling. He currently specializes in attacking anything seen as environmentalism, from panic mongering over CFLs, to perpetuating the DDT ban myths, to, alas, harping over the terrible science reporting of hacks like the Independent to undermine environmentalism. He is also an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, another fervent anti-environmentalist libertarian organization (their Al Gore-hatred is particularly bizarre) that runs the denialist site globalwarming.org.
The fact that Cato shoved Milloy out the door before he was outed as a shill doesn’t excuse them however. After all, their current senior fellow in environmental studies is none other than the global warming denialist Pat Michaels, who is responsible for the world climate report anti-global warming website. (They also haven’t been above promoting intelligent design from a “market” perspective.) One can also read their environment thread at Cato-at-liberty to get an idea where they stand, it’s not denial of an actual increase in global temperature (a position that all but the most hardcore denialists have had to abandon), but more of a “if it’s happening it will be: good for us, unavoidable, not US problem (we can’t do anything without China!), etc.
Now, Pat Michaels, who I’m sad to say, is at the University of Virginia, is clearly a global warming denialist. Case-in-point, Tim Lambert’s exposure of Michael’s cherry picking of climate models. People familiar with the climate models showing a warming trend will know that multiple scenarios are usually shown. These range from very conservative – greenhouse gases holding steady at 2000 levels for instance, to very liberal – greenhouse gases increasing exponentially with a models of ever-increasing fossil fuel use and industrial expansion. How does a denialist make the models that he hates look bad? Well, just subtract out the conservative models! He recently was in the news around here as the Virginia State government and UVa were fighting over who was responsible for his bogus, “Virginia State Climatologist” title. I think they settled it by dumping him off as “UVA’s state climatologist”. We’ll see how long that lasts.
Cato also likes to cite global warming denialist Richard Lindzen, who despite being supposedly the most “mainstream” global warming denialist being a professor at MIT and all, uses the tactics just like all the other cranks. He is also a favorite of the the WSJ editorial page, a denialist organization on its own merits. For an example of Lindzen using the tactics, see this interview in The National Post. Here he is in his own words showing he knows nothing about global mean temperature measurements and magnifying doubt:
Sure it’s inconclusive. It’s a very hard thing to analyze because you have to average huge fluctuations over the whole Earth, and 70% of the Earth is oceans where you don’t have weather stations. So you get different groups analyzing this. And they’re pretty close. One group gets over the last century a warming of about .55 degrees centigrade. Another group says it’s .75 degrees.
Q You charge that the hysteria that’s been created around global warming is an enormous financial scam. It’s all about money?
A Well, how shall I put it? It’s not all about money, but boy, there’s a lot of money floating in it. I mean, emissions trading is going to be a multi-trillion dollar market. Emissions alone would keep small countries in business.
Q Are you suggesting that scientists manipulate their findings to get in on the gravy train?
A You have to differentiate the interests of different groups. In the scientific community, your interest is for your field to be recognized so that it will have priority in government funding.
Then telling falsehoods (and Al Gore smears):
Q He [Al Gore] would appear to have the support of the majority of your scientific colleagues.
A Not really. This is an issue that has hundreds of aspects. The very thought that a large number of scientists all agree on everything is inconceivable. Among my colleagues, I would say, almost no one thinks that Gore’s movie is reasonable. But there will be differences. Some believe it is possible that warming could be a serious problem. Others think it’s very unlikely. People are all over the place.
Migrating to Al Gore conspiracies:
Q How cynical do you think Gore is?
A It’s hard for me to tell. I think he’s either cynical or crazy. But he has certainly cashed in on something. And ‘cash in’ is the word. The movie has cleared $50-million. He charges $100,000-$150,000 a lecture. He’s co-founder of Global Investment Management, which invests in solar and wind and so on. So he is literally shilling for his own companies. And he’s on the on the board of Lehman Brothers who want to be the primary brokerage for emission permits.
Q That sounds more cynical, less crazy.
A I think his aim is not to be president. It’s to be a billionaire.
Finally landing an argument ad Hitlerum:
Q That’s encouraging. Because I find the indoctrination at schools to be pretty relentless. On a recent Grade 7 test my daughter was asked something to the effect of, “How are you going to educate your parents about global warming?”
A I know. It’s straight out of Hitlerjugend.
On the lighter side of Lindzen see RealClimate’s fun with correlations.
Global warming denialism also tends to draw in the all-around cranks like DaveScot from Uncommon Descent and Michael Fumento super-crank. I’ll be talking about Fumento again when it comes to stem-cell hype, but like Milloy he disparages environmentalism and global warming science at any opportunity. Sourcewatch’s page again isn’t as thorough as Deltoid’s coverage of his endless blathering about things like the DDT ban myth and Rachel Carson being worse than Hitler etc.
Finally, some lesser, but still somewhat prominent denialists include SEPP – Fred Singer’s denialist site, Envirospin – Philip Stott’s denialist site, Friends of Science – Denialist Tim Ball’s “grassroots” anti-kyoto organization, TCS Daily – mostly global warming crankery – but fairly versatile on other fronts, and for a very comprehensive listing it’s worth checking out the list of organizations from Exxon Secrets.
Junk Science – Steven Milloy
The Cato Institute Global warming denialism and general pro-industry propaganda. Denialist Pat Michaels is their Senior fellow in environmental studies
Michael Fumento’s Weblog – Global Warming denialist, general crank.
Competitive Enterprise Institute The bottom of the barrel of pro-industry anti global warming denialism and industry apologists, Stephen Milloy is an “adjunct Scholar”.
The American Enterprise Institute – another denialist “think tank”
WorldClimateReport Patrick Michaels UVA’s global warming denialist and state climatologist (although he’s not really).
GlobalWarming.org – Run by CEI
SEPP – Fred Singer’s denialist site.
Envirospin – Philip Stott’s denialist site.
Richard Lindzen – the MIT prof all the denialists love – especially Cato and WSJ.
Friends of Science – Denialist Tim Ball’s “grassroots” anti-kyoto organization.
Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit who harps endlessly about the hockey stick. See Deltoid’s coverage as well.
TCS Daily – mostly global warming crankery – but fairly versatile.
The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page – you name it, they deny it.
A Full list of organizations from Exxon Secrets