Significant Figures by Peter Gleick

On December 9th, National Public Radio broadcast an interview between NPR’s Steve Inskeep and Senator Ted Cruz on the subject of climate change. Below is an annotated transcript of that interview with my [bracketed] responses to the consistently false scientific claims made by Senator Cruz. Effectively, every single scientific point he made was wrong – a classic “Gish Gallop” of long-debunked talking points of those who dispute the unambiguous scientific evidence of climate change. In these bracketed annotations I have provided a few hyperlinks to each of the myths he repeats. I have tried not to address the many other political and ideological points he made about climate change and scientists during this interview, though a few seem to have snuck in.

—–

INSKEEP:  What do you think about what is seen as a broad scientific consensus that there is man-caused climate change?

TED CRUZ: Well, I believe that public policy should follow the science and follow the data. I am the son of two mathematicians and computer programmers and scientists. In the debate over global warming, far too often politicians in Washington – and for that matter, a number of scientists receiving large government grants – disregard the science and data and instead push political ideology. [This is a classic ad hominem attack accusing the entire climate science community of pushing ideology for money, while also painting “government grants” for science as political. There is no basis for this.] You and I are both old enough to remember 30, 40 years ago, when, at the time, we were being told by liberal politicians and some scientists that the problem was global cooling… [This is a classic and false claim. There was never any significant scientific agreement that global cooling was a threat: indeed, even in the ‘70s, the scientific consensus was that the risk was warming.]

INSKEEP: There was a moment when some people said that.

CRUZ: That we were facing the threat of an incoming ice age. [False. As noted above, there were a very small number of scientific papers discussing cooling, and even they did not talk about a coming “ice age.” The few media stories about this have been repeatedly seized on by skeptics and deniers as evidence that scientists were wrong decades ago, and thus must still be wrong today. Here is a good summary of the “myth” of global cooling that Senator Cruz is still promulgating, despite it having been debunked long ago.] And their solution to this problem is that we needed massive government control of the economy, the energy sector and every aspect of our lives. [False: Cruz uses a false scientific claim to put forth a false political claim. Very few scientists offer opinions about specific policies to address climate change, but when they do – as is their right as citizens – their policy preferences are diverse.] But then, as you noted, the data didn’t back that up. So then, many of those same liberal politicians and a number of those same scientists switched their theory to global warming. [False. But even if it was true, switching positions and testing new theories based on new scientific data is exactly the way the scientific method works.]

INSKEEP: This is a conspiracy, then, in your view.

CRUZ: No, this is liberal politicians who want government power over the economy, the energy sector and every aspect of our lives.

INSKEEP: And almost all the countries in the world have joined in to this approach?

CRUZ: So let me ask you a question, Steve. Is there global warming, yes or no?

INSKEEP: According to the scientists, absolutely.

CRUZ: I’m asking you.

INSKEEP: Sure.

CRUZ: OK, you are incorrect, actually. The scientific evidence doesn’t support global warming. [False: Inskeep is correct and Cruz is wrong. The scientific evidence unambiguously shows warming. This is the position of every single professional scientific society and every single National Academy of Sciences on the planet. Here is a partial list.] For the last 18 years, the satellite data – we have satellites that monitor the atmosphere. The satellites that actually measure the temperature showed no significant warming whatsoever. [False: every single method used to evaluate global, regional, and local temperatures shows warming, including satellites. See, for example, here http://skepticalscience.com/satellite-measurements-warming-troposphere-advanced.htm. ]

INSKEEP: I’ll just note that NASA analyzes that same data differently. But we can go on.

CRUZ: But no, they don’t.  You can go and look at the data. [FalseSenator Cruz is wrong again (See Figure below): Here are the data and NASA’s analysis clearly showing warming.] And by the way, this hearing – we have a number of scientists who are testifying about the data. But here’s the key point. Climate change is the perfect pseudoscientific theory for a big government politician who wants more power. Why? Because it is a theory that can never be disproven. [False: This also shows a fundamental misunderstanding of science and the scientific method. Atmospheric and climatological science is well understood and produces hypotheses that are constantly tested, confirmed, refuted, and regularly revised. And as it improves, the concerns about global climate change have consistently strengthened, not declined. See, for example, the 40 years of reports on this issue from the US National Academy of Sciences.]

 

[One of many global temperature records maintained by scientific groups around the world, all showing clear evidence of global warming of land and oceans.] Source: http://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/global-temperature/

[One of many global temperature records maintained by scientific groups around the world, all showing clear evidence of global warming of land and oceans.] Source: http://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/global-temperature/ 

INSKEEP: Do you question the science on other widely accepted issues – for example, evolution?

CRUZ: There is a fundamental difference, which is in the name of global warming, you have politicians trying to impose trillions of dollars of cost on the world. In the I-95 Corridor, among the Washington elite, global warming is very popular because it makes you feel good about caring for the world. But I’ll tell you, you know who I’m concerned about? I’m concerned about the single mom waiting tables right now, who for seven years of the Obama economy has been trapped in stagnation. Her wages have been stagnating. It’s harder and harder to make ends meet. And what the Washington elites are trying to do is double her energy bill. [False: there is no evidence that addressing the risks of climate change will cost more than paying the costs of unabated climate change. Indeed, the economic evidence is the opposite –the benefits of strong early action on climate change outweigh the costs.”]

INSKEEP: Do you question other science, like evolution?

CRUZ: Any good scientist questions all science. If you show me a scientist that stops questioning science, I’ll show you someone who isn’t a scientist. And I’ll tell you, Steve. And I’ll tell you why this has shifted. Look in the world of global warming. What is the language they use? They call anyone who questions the science – who even points to the satellite data – they call you a, quote, “denier.” Denier is not the language of science. Denier is the language of religion. It is heretic. You are a blasphemer. It’s treated as a theology. But it’s about power and money. At the end of the day, it’s not complicated. This is liberal politicians who want government power.

INSKEEP: You know that your critics would say that it’s about power and money on your side. Let’s not go there for the moment. But I want to ask about this. I want to ask about facts.

CRUZ: But hold on a second. Who’s power – but let’s stop. I mean, if you are going to…

INSKEEP: Energy industry, oil industry, Texas…

CRUZ: If you’re going to toss an ad hominem.

INSKEEP: OK, not meaning to be an ad hominem. But you know. You know there are economic interests on all sides of this.

CRUZ: If you’re going to toss an ad hominem, then let’s actually respond because there’s not a moral equivalency. You say it is about power and money. [This is an ironic comment, given that he has just tarred all climate scientists with the ad hominem claim they are misrepresenting climate science for money and ideology. Inskeep is appropriately trying to make this point.] I’m trying to keep power with the American people. I’m trying to keep power with the single mom waiting tables not to drive up her energy bills. I’m trying to keep power with the teenage immigrant, like my dad was, washing dishes. Now, how is that about power and money other than keeping Washington out of their lives and making it easier for people to achieve the American dream? That’s who I’m fighting for.

INSKEEP: Final thing, Ernest Moniz, the energy secretary, pointed out on All Things Considered the other day that the cost of renewable and alternative energies has been going down drastically, that technology is constantly advancing. And on a basic level, of course, pollution is inefficiency. If you can be more efficient, it actually saves people money. If you found out that climate change was cheaper to address than it seems to now, would you change your view of it?

CRUZ: Of course there will be alternative energies. We will have innovation. And I promise you this. The alternative energy innovations are not going to come from Washington. They’re not going to come from the cronyism of this town. They’re not going to come from Solyndra because when Washington does that, they allocate money based on political concerns, not based on what is necessary. I fully expect in a hundred years, or maybe 50 years, or maybe even 10 or 20 years – I mean, change can be very rapid. And I am excited to see where that goes. But it will come from the private sector, not from government.

INSKEEP: Senator Cruz, thanks very much.

CRUZ: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Republican presidential candidate.

 

Comments

  1. #1 Liz Ditz
    Great State of California
    December 9, 2015

    Thank you thank you. I was listening to this in the car, screaming at the radio and wondering where Inskeep put his spine.

    • #2 Peter Gleick
      December 9, 2015

      Yes, I almost had to pull over. Drive carefully.

  2. #3 a siegel
    United States
    December 9, 2015

    Peter,

    Thank you much for taking on the task of annotating Cruz’s antiscience NPR visit. Now, I saw your response to my share of this (https://twitter.com/A_Siegel/status/674676033275224064) and think that you are being too generous to Inskeep. He gave Cruz much of a pass — no hard follow-up questions whenever Cruz pushed back on him.

    Now, thank you for this post. It probably was a lot of work to do but …there is a real problem with annotation — if you don’t annotate everything, seems to legitimize what you don’t comment on. Essentially every one of Cruz’s sentences & phrases merits ripping apart. Writ large, the above seems you let political commentary pass … for example:

    “CRUZ: Any good scientist questions all science. If you show me a scientist that stops questioning science, I’ll show you someone who isn’t a scientist. And I’ll tell you, Steve. And I’ll tell you why this has shifted. Look in the world of global warming. What is the language they use? They call anyone who questions the science – who even points to the satellite data – they call you a, quote, denier. Denier is not the language of science. Denier is the language of religion. It is heretic. You are a blasphemer. It’s treated as a theology. But it’s about power and money. At the end of the day, it’s not complicated. This is liberal politicians who want government power.”

    I think that there are a multitude of viable annotations here.

    For example:

    1. How Cruz is projecting. If anyone is dogmatic and ‘religious’, not open to data and information that counters his belief system, it is Cruz.

    2. A comment saying that “denier” is accurate would have been reasonable with linkages to discussions distinguishing between skepticism (valued and important) and denial (dangerous, counterproductive, not scientific). Here is a playful version of this:

    3. And, well,as to the diatribe against “liberal politicians want government power” — prove it. Is that the “want”?

    Re costs: serious analysis shows positive value from acting on climate mitigation — it is investment with payoff with insurance against climate catastrophe an added benefit See: http://getenergysmartnow.com/2012/08/19/climate-sanity-and-the-necessity-of-fully-burdened-cost-and-benefit-analysis/ I believe that the following words could have been much stronger — along lines of “False — analysis shows that climate change mitigation efforts will pay for themselves and boost the economy even while reducing future climate risks and costs.”

    Again, thank you for taking on the task of annotating Cruz’s interview. He is a bulldog debater. He has been trained in it since before he was a teenager. He was national champion (right?) when he was at Princeton. Don’t know about others, but some of my volunteer activity is high school judging (science fairs & debate). The debate can be painful to judge when there is a skillful team on one side and not as prepped on the other … and the ‘skillful team’ rolls over the other one using material that I know is not factually correct or, more typically, is highly selective ‘facts’ that absolutely is truthiness and misdirection rather than truthful engagement. Cruz is the epitome of that … They say that a lie travels around the world before the truth gets out of bed. Peter — thank you for getting the truth out of bed.

    PS: Recommend the comments online to the interview. Surprisingly refreshing — vast majority are reality based and there are some really good ones (including some holding Inskeep to account for giving Cruz a pass).

    • #4 Peter Gleick
      December 9, 2015

      Thank you, Adam, for adding to the annotation. I tried to focus on the science, but your points are valid as well.

  3. #5 Marry Me, Mindy
    December 9, 2015

    I’ve said it before, and I say it again: Where is the National Academy in this? Where is their direct repudiation of these clowns?

    I have advocated with friends in the Academy that it is time for them to create a “Scientific Literacy” grade for our elected officials. So when Ted Cruz spews drivel, we can put it in the context of the rantings of someone who fails science.

    Oh, he’ll just invoke a Liberal Scientist Conspiracy, but in the end, these are the best scientists in the country. Their role is to advise us on scientific matters. And telling us which elected officials know anything about science and which don’t would be good advice.

    I know they have general position papers on scientific issues, but they need to go after these clowns, and make it clear that they don’t know what they are talking about. Lamarr Smith is the friggin of the Science and Technology committee, but knows nothing about science. The NAS needs to take a stand.

  4. #6 J. Tim Willis
    December 9, 2015

    This was the most terrifying interview I’ve ever heard on NPR. I was blown away by the lack of knowledge, and the mind bending ignorance of Cruz’s statements.

  5. #7 Ajeed Molate
    December 9, 2015

    Try showing a graph of the satellite temperatures which Cruz was referring to, not a GISS graph which uses no satellite data.

    • #8 Peter Gleick
      December 9, 2015

      Feel free. Go here to plot the full satellite (RSS or UAH) temperature trends. Both show perfectly clear warming, completely in agreement with the surface temperature measurements. And no fair cherry-picking 1996 as the starting point. That’s what Cruz and other deniers like to do, and it is a graphical fraud.

    • #9 Peter Gleick
      December 9, 2015

      Feel free. Go here to plot the full satellite (RSS or UAH) temperature trends. Both show perfectly clear warming, completely in agreement with the surface temperature measurements. And no fair cherry-picking 1996 as the starting point. That’s what Cruz and other deniers like to do, and it is a graphical fraud.
      http://www.skepticalscience.com/trend.php

    • #10 Peter Gleick
      December 9, 2015

      Feel free. Go here to plot the full satellite (RSS or UAH) temperature trends. Both show perfectly clear warming, completely in agreement with the surface temperature measurements. And no fair cherry-picking 1998 as the starting point. That’s what Cruz and other deniers like to do, and it is a graphical fraud.
      http://www.skepticalscience.com/trend.php

  6. #11 Mal Adapted
    December 9, 2015

    Ajeed Molate:

    Try showing a graph of the satellite temperatures which Cruz was referring to, not a GISS graph which uses no satellite data.

    Why? Did someone tell you satellite temperatures are somehow more “true” than surface temperatures? Why do you trust your source more than you trust the lopsided consensus of working climate scientists?

  7. #12 Amanda
    San Dimas
    December 9, 2015

    As a mother of three, I find it absolutely incredible that there is a debate about this or that the host was even challenging Ted Cruz. The media has a well-known bias. Where are Steve Inskeeps science credentials? I don’t see any! I just see press credentials i.e. LIE credentials. America is a democracy, and people voted for Ted Cruz, not NPR. The truth wins!

    • #13 Peter Gleick
      December 9, 2015

      I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying here. Cruz is, of course, completely free to continue to spout complete scientific nonsense. NPR is free to interview him, and to challenge him when he makes false statements (though, as my post notes, Cruz mostly got a free pass). And the rest of us are free to point out the nonsense Cruz says — in fact, as a scientist, I feel a responsibility to correct his errors in the hopes he will make more properly informed policy decisions in the future.

  8. #14 Zoyx
    Anchorage
    December 9, 2015

    Does Cruz know that oil companies want action taken on global warming. Exxon for example – http://www.exxonmobilperspectives.com/2015/12/02/exxonmobil-on-the-u-n-climate-talks/

  9. #15 SteveP
    USA
    December 9, 2015

    Cruz’s ability to get elected is not a good sign for Texas or for the US. He skillfully spins webs of ideological deception with his whiny voice as he projects his own lust for power onto his opponents. People unfamiliar with basic science easily fall for his spiel.

    We need someone to ask him on camera how much the $952,382 he is known to have received from the oil and gas industry has influenced his viewpoint on global warming.

  10. #16 scott
    December 9, 2015

    Climate change Is real . But it’s Not a real threat . This earth has been around for BILLIONS of years , and the climate has changed , It does that ,
    You smart people Do realise that All these Climate change caucuses and Carbon Taxes are going to be filtered down to you the consumer right? Yaaaay let’s charge big business for poisoning our air!!!! while secretly they’re charging you for the CO2 you exhale ……. Get a clue.

    • #17 Peter Gleick
      December 10, 2015

      The fact that climate has changed naturally in the past is irrelevant to the fact that humans are changing it now. And we are already paying for the consequences of climate change. Paying to cut climate pollution will be less expensive than paying for worse and worse impacts.

  11. #18 Rick Owen
    Nashville, TN
    December 9, 2015

    “Just how much of the ‘Greenhouse Effect’ is caused by human activity? It is about 0.28%, if water vapor is taken into account– about 5.53%, if not.”
    http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/greenhouse_data.html

    Freeman Dyson on Global Warming, April 2015

    • #19 Peter Gleick
      December 10, 2015

      Actually, you are wrong. Of the change in the greenhouse effect since 1850, 100 percent is caused by humans. You are confusing atmospheric concentrations with marginal effects of changes ibn those concentrations.

  12. […] Climate Change in this NPR Interview was Wrong. So says Peter Gleick; here’s an excerpt of a recent post: “On December 9th, National Public Radio broadcast an interview between NPR’s Steve Inskeep […]

  13. […] My purpose here is not to reproduce those arguments. Detailed responses to Ted Cruz often repeated talking points are available. […]

  14. #22 Justa Retiree
    Nebraska
    December 10, 2015

    Thank you for your post! I listened to this interview with disbelief. Not recognizing Cruz’s voice, I thought, “This guy sounds like a carnival barker.” Imagine my horror when I realized who was talking – someone who wants to be President of the US.

  15. #23 Katy Tiernan
    Seattle, WA
    December 10, 2015

    Thank you for taking time to do this for readers. You’re truly an inspiration and this goes to show you care about people knowing the scientific truth. I’m still shocked people don’t belive in climate change when the proof is right in front of them. I’ve been reading your articles and books in school and find your sustainability principles important to follow. I’m a big fan and look up to you, like many. Thanks again Mr. Gleick!

  16. #24 Mike Haseler (Scottish Sceptic)
    Scotland
    December 10, 2015

    LOL – Ted Cruz is spot – and for a politician he is remarkably clued up on the science.

    • #25 Peter Gleick
      December 10, 2015

      Thanks for the comment. You’re wrong.

  17. #26 Watson
    Columbus, OH
    December 10, 2015

    Peter, and company of climate change factologists. Climate change is not a fact. So, because Cruz does not fall in step with your beliefs, he is a moron? Just because you want people to follow like sheep, and they do NOT, much like s LOT of scientists do not, you tell them to have an open mind. The climate change “machine” had been feeding us crap for YEARS…YEARS…YEARS, and a lot of people are finally wising up to the truth. I know your game, “talk louder, say it more often, and then hope that it becomes fact.” Cruz is no dummy, and “global warming,” “man made global warming” are not fact…they are an idea, so “have an open mind.”

    • #27 Peter Gleick
      December 10, 2015

      Actually, climate change caused by humans is a fact. Baaa.

  18. #28 Tony Burton
    United Kingdom
    December 10, 2015

    Don’t be silly Peter, Amanda is a mother of three, so she’s far more qualified to comment on climate change than any damn scientist.

  19. #29 G L Bohaty
    December 10, 2015

    …regarding Mr. Cruz’s comment on global cooling … I was in first grade in 1951 …. and yes, at that time global cooling was lectured to us … something on the order that by 2050 the US will be a sheet of ice …. and yes, then in the 70’s when my children were in first grade, they too were given words that the temperature of the world had dropped ~3/4 of a degree. My position is that global warming is a 70-100-1000 year phase …that “man” has little to do with it and yes, I’m still against “man” belching pollutants into our atmosphere. Now, I’m also sure that some clown will take some of my words and bend them into some eco-political nay-saying jargon.

  20. #30 Dave
    Canada
    December 10, 2015

    In response to #8

    “Feel free. Go here to plot the full satellite (RSS or UAH) temperature trends. Both show perfectly clear warming, completely in agreement with the surface temperature measurements. And no fair cherry-picking 1998 as the starting point. That’s what Cruz and other deniers like to do, and it is a graphical fraud.
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/trend.php

    Lol, a link to a blog article written in 2007.

    Santer 2014 shows RSS and UAH together. Figure 1c removes the effects of ENSO and Pinatubo and shows a trend change starting in 1994 (indeed a slight cooling). This is consistent with AR5 that shows a trend change starting in 1993 with the surface measurements.

    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v7/n3/images/ngeo2098-f1.jpg

    Incidently Peter, why is it OK for the IPCC and the entire scientific community to highlight 1998 but not the skeptics?

  21. […] I’ve been asked about NPR’s Morning Edition interview with Senator Ted Cruz Wednesday about climate change. The short answer is Mr. Cruz is in a fact free zone when it comes to climate science. Here’s a great fact check of that NPR interview from Peter Gleick at The Pacific Institute. […]

  22. #32 Billy
    San Francisco
    December 10, 2015

    Ted Cruz climate statements have been challenged by 10 climate scientists. Climate Feedback provides a complete analysis of his statements and rated his understanding of climate science as “Very Low”. You can find all the statements analyzed by scientists here:
    http://climatefeedback.org/evaluation/analysis-of-ted-cruz-climate-statements/

  23. #33 Todd
    December 10, 2015

    And while everyone was worried about Trump, this clown has quietly taken the lead in Iowa. Trump is human grabage, but Cruz is infinitely worse. We can only hope the Canadians gets kneecapped in the primary. Thanks for debunking his claims, but sadly it will fall on deaf ears.

  24. #34 Joe in Seattle
    December 10, 2015

    Superbly done Peter. I’ve been trying to do this same kind of myth-vs-fact on my blog.
    http://joegoodfriend.blogspot.com/2014/09/a-few-links-to-dispel-conservative.html

  25. #35 Kyle
    Syracuse, New York
    December 10, 2015

    Inskeep failed badly when he suggested that there is anything resembling an equivalence between moneyed influence on the “sides” of the climate issue.

  26. […] surface. Indeed, Senator Ted Cruz repeated it yesterday in an NPR interview, along with many other fundamental scientific errors. But as this old article shows, it has long been understood that the real threat was global warming […]

  27. […] surface. Indeed, Senator Ted Cruz repeated it yesterday in an NPR interview, along with many other fundamental scientific errors. But as this old article shows, it has long been understood that the real threat was global warming […]

  28. #38 AJ
    December 10, 2015

    We already know the opinions of the GOP clown car and that will weigh on our decision in the election. Why do we keep wasting valuable air time asking them over and over? They are not scientists so why do we care what data and conclusions they manufacture? Also, I seem to have missed why Cruz was the only one being interviewed on this topic. The others are equally or more delusional.

  29. […] surface. Indeed, Senator Ted Cruz repeated it yesterday in an NPR interview, along with many other fundamental scientific errors. But as this old article shows, it has long been understood that the real threat was global warming […]

  30. #40 DH
    USA
    December 10, 2015

    Mr Gleick needs to get into an open forum and debate Ted Cruz, or Willie Soon, or John Christy, his choice, and we will see who has the more convincing arguments. It will not be Peter Gleick

    • #41 Peter Gleick
      December 10, 2015

      No need to debate fundamental scientific facts. Such a “debate” might prove who is a better debator but not who is right. Real scientific debates happen on the scientific literature and meetings.Not in circus events.

  31. #42 Kalvin Luffet
    New York
    December 10, 2015

    Please point me to the scientific study that proves that man is the cause of global warming and it is not due to other factors such as solar activity or that we live on a plant that is wobbling on its axis as it rotates on its olipical orbit around the sun.

    • #43 Peter Gleick
      December 10, 2015

      Internet search doesn’t work for you? Do your own homework. Start with Google Scholar.

  32. #44 Gordon J. Fulks, PhD
    Corbett, Oregon USA
    December 10, 2015

    Peter Gleick gives himself away by quoting the propaganda website “Skeptical Science.” Science is NOT a series of political talking points from Cook and Nuccitelli.

    Science is likewise not a matter of what the scientific labor unions say. Does the US National Academy of Sciences have a policy that the Earth is round? Do they really get to dictate ANY science? Of course not! Science is the product of individual scientists, utilizing logic and evidence NOT consensus and authority. Glieck should understand that!

    The first of the scientific societies, the Royal Society, has the motto “Take nobody’s word for it.” Today, they and Gleick would rather forget that, because they do not want to be questioned.

    Yet we have to question Gleick’s use of evidence from propagandists and his inability to get to the real scientific issues. While the planet has warmed a little out of the depths of the Little Ice Age (from about 1830) and did warm a little since the end of WW2, none of this correlates with rising man-made CO2 except for the period from about 1977 to 1997. How can a little warming over two of the last seven decades when CO2 has been rising due to human activity be considered a definitive correlation? The real correlation is with ocean cycles.

    And as Professor John Christy correctly pointed out at the Senate Hearing chaired by Senator Cruz on Tuesday, the Climate Models come nowhere close to matching the robust satellite and radiosonde data. Even Santer et al., PNAS 2012 admitted that there is an enormous difference between the Climate Models and reality. This is especially true in the tropical mid-troposphere where the predicted “Hot Spot” is missing.

    In short, Senator Ted Cruz (a graduate of Princeton University) understands the science FAR BETTER than Peter Gleick.

    Gordon J. Fulks, PhD (Physics)

    • #45 Peter Gleick
      December 10, 2015

      Thanks, Gordon. You always crack me up.

  33. […] surface. Indeed, Senator Ted Cruz repeated it yesterday in an NPR interview, along with many other fundamental scientific errors. But as this old article shows, it has long been understood that the real threat was global warming […]

  34. #47 Julie
    Baltimore, MD, USA
    December 10, 2015

    Thank you for doing this great public service. I think Inskeep got steamrollered and did more damage than good in giving Cruz air time. Unfortunately, facts and data are not going to sway people. They are too by confused the deliberate misinformation campaign conducted by the fossil fuel industry that cares more about money than future generations. (Their tactics are detailed in the book “Merchants of Doubt”). On a lighter note, here is a fun version of what you’ve done above – a science geek rebuts his “alter ego” denier on 13 misconceptions about climate change. https://youtu.be/OWXoRSIxyIU

  35. […] surface. Indeed, Senator Ted Cruz repeated it yesterday in an NPR interview, along with many other fundamental scientific errors. But as this old article shows, it has long been understood that the real threat was global warming […]

  36. #49 DasKleineTeilchen
    terra
    December 11, 2015

    wow. the tactics of the deniers didnt change since 1990, best examples are the ones here in the thread:

    “Please point me to the scientific study…”

    this is mindbobbling in its irony; whos the sheep here?

  37. #50 Paul Grajnert
    United States
    December 11, 2015

    Ted, like the rest of the party of the Confederacy, seeks to undermine the institutions of the Republic. He, and the anti-American voters he seeks to get votes from, don’t share the values that make our society function. Indeed, they share anti-social, anti-democratic values. Cruz, and the political party he belongs to promote racism, misogyny and theocratism. They also, on a regular basis, say that they are arming themselves against the Republic. I think the American people should take them at their word.

  38. #51 Jacob Crim
    December 11, 2015

    I love how climate change deniers have one or two scientists that disagree with the theory for citation. When the general understanding is that it is real and happening. I liken them to the handful who probably still blabbered that the Earth was flat even after the discovery that it isnt.

  39. […] Shortly before the hearings, Cruz did an interview with NPR where essentially everything he said was wrong. It’s rather incredible, actually, almost like performance art. Peter Gleick, a scientist who studies the impact of climate change, has annotated the interview transcript pointing out the falsehoods Cruz uttered. […]

  40. #53 Kenneth Lee Foon
    Montreal
    December 11, 2015

    Cruz got one thing right. We do not need to be spending trillions of dollars on something that is not a crisis. We’ve got much bigger and more immediate fish to fry. Poverty, disease and hunger come to mind.

  41. #54 Steve D
    December 11, 2015

    “There is a fundamental difference, which is in the name of global warming, you have politicians trying to impose trillions of dollars of cost on the world. ”

    Okay, prove it. If climate modeling is inexact, economic forecasting is pure voodoo. Show me an economic model that models the US economy as well as climate models work, then show that it predicts trillions of dollars in costs. I have not seen a single rigorous justification of that claim. It’s all arm-waving.

  42. #55 Steve G.
    Charleston, SC
    December 11, 2015

    The satellite data clearly shows that the amount of energy received from the SUN is more than the energy radiated by the Earth, well outside any margin of error. References already posted above. Global Warming is a FACT. Human contribution is not quite as well understood, perhaps 90+ percentile of certainty? In every other endeavor this is also a fact, and there are plenty of guys sitting in prison cells with less certain evidence.
    BUT THIS IS IRRELEVANT. Everything we should be doing to prevent further warming acceleration and help to mitigate and reverse the effects WE SHOULD BE DOING ANYWAY, and it is to our not so long term benefit and health.
    Things like limiting and then eliminating fossil fuels, desalinating and reusing water and renewable energy sources, fixing toxic waste elimination. Feeding the poor helps with global warming, as cook fires, coal and wood stoves are a significant warming input. Cattle released methane is also a significant input that can be easily curtailed with some management.
    As long as people like Cruz keep cutting basic science research, which by the way IS NOT funded by companies in any meaningful way, and messing with the publishing and verification systems, we are pretty much doomed.
    In point of fact, the changes in weather we are seeing are actually pretty close to spot on for the models in the short term. They get fuzzy in the long term, JUST LIKE ANY OTHER MODELS, but they all agree it’s not good….

  43. #56 Chris M
    United States
    December 11, 2015

    Hi Peter.

    What you need to understand is that your sarcastic and dismissive comments are exactly why a lot of people are climate change skeptics.

    The actual tragedy of climate change as a movement is pretty simple: that a huge swath of the public no longer trusts scientists. That’s why bringing up selected scientific papers without context is not convincing.

    The thing is, though, these people are RIGHT not to trust climate scientists. No other field of science has ever been so inundated by political motivations, fudging of data, concealing of methodology, and outright fraud as climate science.

    And once you stop listening to the scientists, and only have the raw data to rely on, it only takes a moment to see that IPCC models, and indeed every climate model to date, has failed in the basic test of a scientific model – that is, has failed to PREDICT the temperature of the past twenty years. This is the fundamental problem you need to overcome if you want to convince skeptics of your position.

    • #57 Peter Gleick
      December 11, 2015

      It is indeed a tragedy that many people say they don’t trust scientists, but of course this has been precisely the strategy of the climate denial community: make people think the problem is the science and scientists, since that’s the only way to fight the need to implement policy. And you’re right about political motivation, fudging of data, and outright fraud: but it is on the part of climate deniers and their funders, not climate scientists.

  44. #58 azazyel
    seattle
    December 11, 2015

    Just FYI, you guys really need to work on shortening your URLs.

  45. #59 Addy
    Massapequa
    December 11, 2015

    I have no evidence that this political candidate running to be the President has a brain…I cannot see it, I cannot feel it. His rhetoric does not show it, so why should I believe that he is even a person. This is how ignorant he sounds when he contends that the data is false.

    • #60 Peter Gleick
      December 12, 2015

      Well, he certainly has a brain. He’s supposed to be quite smart. His position on climate change thus must be willful ignorance, or rejection of science for ideological reasons. Not sure I can think of a third alternative.

  46. #61 Fuzzy Logic
    Within the blast radius
    December 11, 2015

    It concerns me greatly when I see the people who scream “Climate change” the loudest while standing to make a great deal of money off the climate change scare. It concerns me greatly when I read about climate change researchers purposefully skewing their research to favor climate change. It concerns me even more, however, when people go instantly shrill on someone else attempting to engage them with a dissenting view of climate change in the interest of discourse.

    In reading your blog this afternoon I see you are not one of those people. By your respect to others you have earned mine. I will therefore continue to read this blog with interest.

    Thanx!

    • #62 Peter Gleick
      December 11, 2015

      Thank you. I’m happy to engage in real discourse and to respond to good faith inquiry. I’m not sure who makes “a great deal of money off the climate scare”… Never met anyone. And if scientists do bad science, other scientists are pretty quick to call them on it. That’s how science works. If we ever get shrill (ok, sometimes) it’s frustration with having to debunk stuff that’s been endlessly debunked already.

  47. […] Ted Cruz Talks about Climate Change as if he Knows Something About Climate Change […]

  48. #64 Hank Roberts
    out past Cassandra somewhere
    December 11, 2015

    The rebunking is very strong these days.

  49. #65 Jackson Ayres
    December 11, 2015

    The issue with only debunking the science that Cruz screws up is that only about 5% of his argument relies on science (misrepresentations or debunked, invariably). The other 95% relies on emotional appeals, accusations of conspiracy, dogma, etc.

  50. #66 Brad Keyes
    www.climatenuremberg.com
    December 12, 2015

    Dr Gleick, you let Cruz off too lightly!

    It would be one thing if he’d actually accused “the entire climate scientific profession” or “all scientists” of corruption, or claimed there was a *unanimous* expectation of global cooling back in the 70s—these would be libelous lies, but at least they’d be falsifiable.

    What Cruz does is far worse. He has the rat cunning to expressly limit his allegations to “some scientists” and “a number of scientists,” thus carefully immunizing his claims against accusations of incorrectness.

    Diabolical stuff. I suppose such craftiness may even be admirable (in the way a biologist might say she admires the ebola virion).

  51. […] Trump may be getting all the press, but Ted Cruz and others are hot on his heels bringing on the crazy and the science denial. This week, Cruz held a mock Senate hearing stacked with climate change skeptics. Not to be […]

  52. […] Donald Trump may be getting all the press, but Ted Cruz and others are hot on his heels bringing on the crazy and the science denial. This week, Cruz held a […]

  53. #69 Dave
    Canada
    December 12, 2015

    re: #55

    “The satellite data clearly shows that the amount of energy received from the SUN is more than the energy radiated by the Earth, well outside any margin of error”

    Not even wrong! Hansen would refer to this statement as
    “prima facie preposterous”.

    KevinTrenberth said

    “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 CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. *** Our observing system is inadequate.” *** (emphasis mine)

    And indeed the observation systems are inadequate. IPCC AR 5 admits that they can not even narrow the range of solar energy absorbed by the surface to within 15 or 20 watts m/2 and even these are just estimates (“There is limited observational information on changes in surface net
    radiation, in large part because measurements of upward fluxes at the surface are made at only a few sites and are not spatially representative”) .

    The IPCC actually reports a lower energy budget number than they did 20 years ago despite accelerating CO2 in that time and concludes

    “Satellite records of top of the atmosphere radiation fluxes have been substantially extended since AR4, and it is unlikely that significant trends exist in global and tropical radiation budgets since 2000”

    The lack of trend in energy budgets despite record GHG’s is one of the lines of evidence why the IPCC states there is a “hiatus” and has lowered their estimates of future warming.

  54. #70 GregH
    Calgary
    December 12, 2015

    @50 “Ted, like the rest of the party of the Confederacy…”

    Which is quite an accomplishment, when you add the fact that he was born in Calgary, Alberta. He’s like a Subarctic Confederate or something.

  55. […] Peter Gleick in Significant Figures: […]

  56. #72 Robert Nagle
    Houston
    December 12, 2015

    I have racked my brain trying to figure out how to ask a journalistic question which he can’t duck. Here are the two I have come across:

    1)The IPCC 5 report wrote, ” “It is extremely likely (i.e.,more than 95% probability) that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. ” Please tell me what part of that statement you disagree with, and what evidence you have to support that belief.

    2. You have mentioned several times that satellite temperature data does not show global warming. Does that mean you are stating that satellite data is the only valid way to measure temperature rise over time? Please explain why you think satellite data is more important than other lines of evidence?

    3.

  57. #73 Narad
    December 12, 2015

    Please point me to the scientific study that proves that man is the cause of global warming and it is not due to other factors such as solar activity or that we live on a plant that is wobbling on its axis as it rotates on its olipical [sic] orbit around the sun.

    I think this is the first time that I’ve heard nutation invoked.

  58. #74 Narad
    December 12, 2015

    The thing is, though, these people are RIGHT not to trust climate scientists. No other field of science has ever been so inundated by political motivations, fudging of data, concealing of methodology, and outright fraud as climate science.

    Chris M is apparently unfamiliar with the antivaccine crowd.

  59. #75 Edward Morbius
    December 12, 2015

    As with others, thanks very much for this. I’d caught Cruz’s agnetology spiel in mid-stream, and was profoundly confused for several minutes wondering what alternate reality my radio had entered into.

    Inskeep didn’t perform _quite_ so poorly as I’d initially thought, but he and NPR fell down on the job. In particular, they owe a fact-check response on this piece. You seem well-prepared to provide that.

    Excellent point that Cruz opened with ad homimen attacks.

    Adding the note that greenhouse gasses, human CO2 emissions, and the links between these and human-initiated climate change date to the 1800s would also be useful. Oh, and the first widespread acknowledgement of this in the US … came from the head of the US Naval Research Lab in 1932.
    https://www.reddit.com/r/dredmorbius/comments/1woc0v/carbon_dioxide_heats_the_earth_1932/
    http://blog.modernmechanix.com/carbon-dioxide-causes-global-warming-1932/

    The American Institute of Physics has a particularly powerful timeline:
    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/timeline.htm

    Inskeep pressing these facts should have tied up Cruz for most of the six minute interview and prevented the Gish Gallop.

    Cruz _utterly_ ignores Inskeep’s question “And almost all the countries of the world have joined in this approach?” (of ascribing global warming, that is happening, to humans).

    Tackling the “psuedoscientific” claim might be of interest.

    In responding to Cruz’s red herrings about single mothers and dishwashers, the effective response isn’t on science but politics: the GOP have been denying such people effective relief through living wages (a concept dating to Adam Smith), universal healthcare, subsidised education, bankruptcy and debt relief, freedom from non-compete agreements (which are applied to _sandwich-shop employees_), denial of basic health and family planning services, and more.

    On “whose political power”, you could and should bring in the research into the “Kochtopus” — the enormous machine of influence identified by Yale researcher Justin Farrell’s identification of over 5,000 individuals (and the funding network) responsible for spreading climate disinformation, Greenpeace’s earlier work at same, and your own experience liberating documents showing the Heartland Institute’s own complicity in this network.

  60. #76 Jeffrey Eric Grant
    Connecticut
    December 13, 2015

    The latest morph of the science is: CO2 Sensitivity. It is 1.5-4.5 decgrees C/doubling of atmospheric CO2. 1.5 is benign and not worth the time to discuss, while 4.5 is catastrophic. The climate models are projecting a high (4.5) sensitivity, while actual measurements are projecting 1.5 or below. Unadjusted temps are below that.

    I say: keep measuring and wake me when it starts to get “bad”.
    One more thing: We don’t know what we don’t know. Keep progressing at the science.

    • #77 Peter Gleick
      December 13, 2015

      In nobody’s estimate is 1.5 degrees of warming “benign.” Time to wake up.

  61. […] Cruz is a climate change denier. This careful parsing of his National Public Radio interview makes the extent of the Senator’s wrongheadedness […]

  62. […] l’OMS le vittime dell’inquinamento da fuliggine sono circa 700 mila all’anno, e sono stimate in 7 milioni le morti premature dovute all’inquinamento atmosferico da combustibili fossili e […]

  63. #80 Matt
    PA
    December 14, 2015

    Why don’t you challenge Sen. Cruz (or Inhofe) to a national debate?

    • #81 Peter Gleick
      December 14, 2015

      Because they are not scientists and we don’t decide good science on the basis of who is a better debator.

  64. […] a flat tax and a massive sales tax increase to 19%.   He believes climate change is primarily a myth and compared Obamacare to Nazi Germany.  Although he did not receive the same amount of coverage, […]

  65. #83 Kory Klosterman
    Fort Wayne, IN
    December 14, 2015

    I’m not a scientist. I am a financial advisor whose job involves analyzing data, trends, and understanding cause-and-effect relationships. Enough of all that nonsense though.

    I grew up in a small Ohio town, where we had 3 snowmobiles parked in the lawn all winter and took them out regularly on the local fields and large frozen lake. Everyone in the neighborhood had snowmobiles, and large races were held on the lake every year.
    That was 25 years ago.
    Today, very few people still own snowmobiles, and those that do have to take them up to Michigan to use them. It no longer makes sense to own something that never gets used.
    I don’t need science, analytics, or data to know that something dramatic has changed over these past 25 years. All I need is a December drive through my childhood neighborhood.

  66. #84 Dee Dubya
    Georgia
    December 14, 2015

    Considering that we are not in an Ice Age or even a Little Ice Age there seems to be no question but that the Earth is undergoing a warming trend.
    The correlation between Man made global warming is specious. Charts showing multi-century temperature movement clarify quite nicely. Check it out.

  67. #85 Jake
    December 15, 2015

    1- Do you consider “conflict of interest” a conspiracy or an ad hominem fallacy?

    2- Does “climate science” use the empirical science (what one usually means by ‘science’) regarding the claim of future catastrophes (Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past, the entire North polarized cap will disappear in 5 years) and human involvement or does it rely on inference?

    3- If the medieval warm period was a local phenomena, does it make sense to freak out over a local change in the weather? Is there such a thing as a climate non-change?

    4- In general, are the models accurate? In predicting the past, let alone the future? Is it ethical to make a plethora of false claims of catastrophe?

    Also quoting skeptical science doesn’t add credibility.

  68. #86 Ryan
    December 15, 2015

    In regards to comment #26, hard science, the category into which most deep climate science falls (I’ve had some intimidatingly complex discussions with climate scientists), is the realm of scientists. Many details are extremely hard to grasp by non-scientists , and many of those scientists are too caught up in trying to further understand their research to translate their findings into layperson-digestible information. So we laypeople (I’ve dabbled, but I would by no means call myself a climate scientist) need different indicators to determine what’s true, and in what direction global culture (which hopefully can eventually leverage the wisdom of the masses) is tending.

    I consider the most powerful social indicator that human-made climate change is real and pressing to be this: The fact that we’re now having a global conversation about it, and that hundreds of nations are taking the situation seriously. This despite the INCREDIBLE amount of resources (on both sides of the discussion) interested in maintaining the status quo.

    Consider some general facts (I don’t have figures, but I think the following points are mostly indisputable): our global economy runs almost entirely on fossil fuels. Given that, the fossil-fuel industry is easily a multi-trillion-dollar ecosystem, with interests and leverage pretty much everywhere. Hundreds, probably thousands, of industries, existing city infrastructure, etc. rely upon the continued dominance of fossil fuels. Changing from a fossil-fueled economy to a non-fossil-fueled economy requires astronomically costly renovations and revamps. For EVERYONE, not just fossil-fuel interests.

    So that means every green-minded person, every day-to-day individual, whether interested in a “green” powered economy or not, will have to make radical and potentially expensive changes to their lifestyles. And paying for stuff you don’t wanna pay for sucks. So why, then, would hundreds of nations do this?

    Consider what it means for hundreds of nations to do ANY ONE THING. Across those hundreds, there are probably at least a thousand varying political interests/tendencies, religions, and other deep life-guiding assumptions fundamentally different from anything most of us can imagine. It might be kind of hard for Americans to do this in a two-party political ecosystem, but imagine that a thousand other political parties suddenly emerged, with similarly well-developed theories about how to run a country and manage resources, and suddenly ALL, or a vast enough majority to bring all of those countries to the table, came together over a single topic.

    Unless humans, both as individuals and as a collective, are colossally inept (and I know many feel they are, but I think it’s fair for this argument to assume they are not; after all, people on the side of the argument claiming that human-made climate change is a hoax do not think of themselves as inept), this strongly suggests a real global truth. This suggests that scientists from hundreds of nations independently and collaboratively came to the same conclusions: Humans are causing climate change; if we don’t stop soon, we will destabilize Earth’s ability to reliably sustain the form of human life we have culturally and socially evolved to expect, and may cause irreparable long-term harm to the biosphere on which humanity relies.

    I do not think any credible scientists believe humans will destroy the planet. I believe it is more accurate to say humans will degrade Earth’s capacity for supporting human life to a point that life becomes impossible in some locations, and considerably more difficult in most others. And the number of resource struggles, displaced peoples, and suffering that would emerge from this is not worth keeping the status quo.

    Somehow, the decision makers in all those nations came to the same conclusion, and decided to convene at least one (and I believe there were more before) global conference to figure out what to do. How likely is it that “ridiculous, liberal” interests, especially considering hundreds of variable political climates which have built enduring societies, somehow hoodwinked hundreds of nations into believing human-made climate change is true? What real ammo do they have? It’s their scientific and impassioned “word” against a multi-trillion-dollar, global industry, the dismantling of which will disrupt pretty much every industry and first-world life on the globe.

    How likely is it that ANYONE who has given this even a little deep, scientific thought (especially hard scientists) would WANT to make these changes? Just one off the top of my head, cars: there are over 1 billion cars in the world, and probably less than 1% of them do not rely in any way on gasoline / oil derivatives. So, if we decide to keep the car-oriented infrastructure in the places where it current exists, that’s still over 1 billion cars that have to be retooled, remanufactured, etc. Then there is the refueling infrastructure overhaul, the complete expertise overhaul needed to maintain the new infrastructure, a radical change to cultural/societal expectations and tendencies (many people love the feel of internal combustion engines; we can’t minimize these feelings, as they are a real mover of choice and resources in the world), and surely hundreds of smaller details on down the industrial line.

    No credible, thoughtful environmental scientist, or SANE person for or against climate change, looks at this massive challenge and celebrates. The amount of resources, energy, and capital required for these endeavors is almost beyond my imagination (many which would harm the environment, so it’s a hard choice even for those who believe climate change is happening). And there are hundreds of similar challenges, all of them deeply embedded in the fossil-fuel culture.

    No one looks at this challenge and makes these decisions because they want to. If hundreds of independent cultures and collectives have come to the same conclusion, that we MUST change, then we do it because we have to.

    • #87 Peter Gleick
      December 15, 2015

      Ryan, thank you for taking the time to post this very thoughtful comment.
      Peter Gleick

  69. #88 Guy
    December 15, 2015

    Hey Jake,

    Would you consider “Also quoting skeptical science doesn’t add credibility.” an ad hominem fallacy?

    I mean, you didn’t bother trying to actually prove that anything on SkS was factually wrong.

    You do recognize that you’re being a wee bit hypocritical there, yes?

  70. #89 Russell
    December 15, 2015

    ” I am the son of two mathematicians and computer programmers and scientists”

    Just what we need- a haploid tort lawyer

  71. #90 Brad Keyes
    www.climatenuremberg.com
    December 15, 2015

    Matt:

    “Why don’t you challenge Sen. Cruz (or Inhofe) to a national debate?”

    What Peter said.

    If you want elaboration, I explain here that debates as a form are intrinsically dishonest, because they put the correct and the false view on a symmetrical playing field.

    A scientifically-unqualified listener is literally at the mercy of whatever oratorical tricks a skilful rhetor sees fit to use on them. There’s nothing easier than deceiving a captive audience. That’s why I don’t accept speaking invitations unless I have the audience’s undivided attention. For their sake, I’m not willing to share the credibility of the stage with forces who don’t accept what the science is telling us.

  72. #91 Wolf Kirchmeir
    Mid-Northern Ontario
    December 16, 2015

    Here we are in mid-December with above freezing temperatures. No frost in the ground. Rain, so that the sump-pump is working. We will get some snow by Christmas or early January, and will have a couple of months of “real” winter weather, maybe even a few nights of -20C. With a few exceptions, this pattern of delayed freeze-up and shorter, warmer winters has been accelerating. It’s even worse up in the Arctic.

    Climate is a chaotic system, which means it can flip from one stable pattern to another in relatively few cycles. Sofar, the climate models have been under-predicting the rate of change. Back in the 70s, Science published an article on climate modelling whose authors were gob-smacked that it showed climate could flip in 100 years or less. They inferred that their model was wrong, that climate couldn’t change that fast. The model was correct, their inference was wrong.

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