What Do Superfreakonomics And Senator Inhofe Have In Common?

Well, they are shown next to each other in Dave Weigel's story Climate Change Skeptics Embrace 'Freakonomics' Sequel, but that's not the answer I'm thinking of. Weigel writes:

The final chapter deals with global warming, characterizing the beliefs of pessimistic environmentalists as "religious fervor," and arguing that the climate change solutions proposed by Al Gore and many Democrats are ineffective and unworkable. It repeats claims that environmental journalists have debated or debunked for years. As a result, the authors are getting some early support from climate change skeptics who feel that attitudes toward their stances are getting brighter.

Coming out in support of Superfreakonomics we have Myron Ebell, Senator Inhofe, Pat Michaels, Patrick Co-founder-of-GreenPeace Moore and Ross McKitrick. McKitrick even offered some helpful information that Levitt and Dubner could use to refute Joe Romm with -- apparently Romm is in the pay of George Soros.

So if their book isn't supportive of global warming denial, why does Senator "Global Warming is a Hoax" Inhofe cite it? Daniel Davies explains the game L&D are playing.

So what is the answer to question in the title of this post?

Both Superfreakonomics and Senator Inhofe rely on the testimony of William Happer. In the end notes for Superfreakonomics we find:

Carbon dioxide is not poison: for a trenchant overview of the current state of thinking about atmospheric carbon dioxide, see William Happer, "Climate Change," Statement before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, February 25. 2009

Happer was Inhofe's witness at the Climate Change hearing and said thing's like

I believe that the increase of CO2 is not a cause for alarm and will be good for mankind. ... The current warming also seems to be due mostly to natural causes, not to increasing levels of carbon dioxide. Over the past ten years there has been no global warming, and in fact a slight cooling. ... Sometimes the obsession for control of the climate got a bit out of hand, as in the Aztec state, where the local scientific/religious establishment of the year 1500 had long since announced that the debate was over and that at least 20,000 human sacrifices a year were needed to keep the sun moving, the rain falling, and to stop climate change. ... The IPCC has made no serious attempt to model the natural variations of the earth's temperature in the past. ... Research papers with scientific findings contrary to the dogma of climate calamity are rejected by reviewers, many of whom fear that their research funding will be cut if any doubt is cast on the coming climate catastrophe. Speaking of the Romans, then invading Scotland in the year 83, the great Scottish chieftain Calgacus is quoted as saying "They make a desert and call it peace." If you have the power to stifle dissent, you can indeed create the illusion of peace or consensus. The Romans have made impressive inroads into climate science.

Some might think that is supporting AGW denial, but Levitt and Dubner reckon that it's a "trenchant overview of the current state of thinking about atmospheric carbon dioxide"


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I reviewed Freakonomics when it first came out and really liked it. So I was looking forward to the sequel Superfreakonomics. Unfortunately, Levitt and Dubner decided to write about global warming and have made a dreadful hash of it. The result is so wrong that it has even Joe Romm and William…
Steve Levitt has followed in Dubner's footsteps with a response to his critics that fails to respond to their arguments. Levitt first restates his argument and then asserts that their conclusions are different because: We are answering a different question than our critics. Our question, at noted…
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If you haven't got enough Superfreakonomics blogging Brian D has collected links to, well, everything. The response from the authors to the criticism has been underwhelming. Dubner ignores most of the criticism and blames Caldeira for the fact that they misrepresented him. Your must read story on…

Research papers with scientific findings contrary to the dogma of climate calamity are rejected by reviewers, many of whom fear that their research funding will be cut if any doubt is cast on the coming climate catastrophe.

Ah yes, the environmental scientists in a smoky room (but with incense instead of cigars) laughing with one another over how they seek to lie to the public in order to make more money.

I'm sorry, last I looked, the combined budgets of the NSF and EPA were significantly smaller than the US Chamber of Commerce (by several orders of magnitude). Who really has a vested interest in politicizing science?

I don't think Levitt and Dubner are playing any sort of game; they just made the mistake of writing a book chapter about something they know nothing about.

The idea that geoengineering would be a cheaper and easier fix to global warming than emissions cuts just fell too easily into their formula. It sounded great, so they forgot to ask critical questions. Maybe they just met Myhrvold at a dinner party somewhere and bought the sales pitch. Then they looked for a climate scientist who studies geoengineering, found Caldeira, and tried to shoehorn his statements into their view.

And then they topped it off with an incoherent introduction to the topic, full of easily debunked talking points.

It's laziness and ignorance, not malice.

By the way, I hate to say I agree with Ross McKitrick about anything, but Joe Romm really is "inflammatory." Romm would do well to soften the tone, and let the science do the talking.

By carrot eater (not verified) on 23 Oct 2009 #permalink

Tim, this is a remarkably informative footnote. Thanks for sharing it.

Aww, that passage doesn't show Happer longing for the good ol' days of the late Cretaceous...

Carrot Eater: there are several people raining on Levitt and Dubner who do so in ways calmer than Romm. Click my name for a sampling. Some attack the science, yes, but there are others who admit it's beyond their ability and instead focus on the economics or the journalistic issues raised by the group.

(That said, Romm writes stream-of-consciousness; I'm not sure if the contributions he makes through his vast output are outweighed by his tone, though.)

Carbon dioxide is not poison: for a trenchant overview of the current state of thinking about atmospheric carbon dioxide, see William Happer, "Climate Change," Statement before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, February 25. 2009

Like any molecule, CO2 is poisonous in concentrations and circumstances where it acts as a poison. Trying breathing in an atmosphere of 20 percent CO2. And obviously, CO2 is such powerful poison in the ocean that if C02 levels are not levelled off, acidification due to CO2 uptake will lower the pH enough to cause CaCO3 will dissolve at the surface and wipe out most of the oceanic planktonic food chain.

Not a poison.

Brian D: Oh, don't worry. I could see for myself just how awful a job Levitt and Dubner did, and I've actually been to your list: a very nice compendium.

Don't get me wrong; Romm has done some useful work on this topic, particularly in showing how Caldeira's words were used to give impressions that Caldeira does not support. But would it hurt him to write with a more professional tone?


Ah, the corrected link shows the "game" Levitt and Dubner are playing. Well, yes, they knew they were being provocative.

The whole thing's a shame, really. They could have maybe written a nice chapter about counterintuitive life cycle analyses, like the one suggesting that it's better for Europeans to import flowers from Africa than grow them in local greenhouses. In fact, they do touch on that.

By carrot eater (not verified) on 23 Oct 2009 #permalink

I've heard this 'not a poison' thing from deniers before. Where the heck is that coming from? CO2 absorbs IR radiation, and it lowers the pH of the oceans. Who was ever talking about 'poison'?

By carrot eater (not verified) on 23 Oct 2009 #permalink

"Like any molecule, CO2 is poisonous in concentrations and circumstances where it acts as a poison."

Exactly. By that measure, any molecule can be poisonous in concentration. NaCl is a great example.

Salt is a poison?

CE #11, I think it's a mutated meme ... from "CO2 is not a polutant", which was a kind of slogan against getting CO2 regulated under the USA's Environmental Protection Act.

actual: I'm not sure if you're trying to be facetious here, but I think everyone agrees that drinking sea-water is deadly because of salt concentrations, and that salt contamination of soil from drought conditions is bad for agriculture, despite being necessary in sufficient quantities for life to function. Only the truly ignorant would believe that a statement like "Iodine is essential in small amounts, but lethal in large quantities" is contradictory.

The "Carbon Dioxide is not a poison" argument is a ridiculous straw-man. It's a misrepresentation of the actual argument (I.e. that the addition of carbon to the cycle from formerly sequestered fossil fuels will cause global climate change with adverse consequences) with just enough truth to engage those with a desire for strict accuracy.

By Left_Wing_Fox (not verified) on 23 Oct 2009 #permalink

One would hope that any educated person would understand that the statement "CO2 is not a poison" is an attack on a straw man. But one would hope for a lot of things.

Here's House Minority Leader John Boehner on the subject:

[T]he idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical. Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know, when they do what they do, youâve got more carbon dioxide.

For me, the thread following that quote was a black hole, as I learned to my sorrow. Stay well away from the event threshold, O my friends and neighbors. That yellow tape is there for a reason.

John Boehner thinks we think CO2 is a carcinogen?

My brain cannot handle this bit of information.

Seriously? That's what he thinks this is about?

By carrot eater (not verified) on 23 Oct 2009 #permalink

Good grief!....I'm commenting on 3 other comments criticizing Joe Romm's "tone".

My insensitive soul overlooks his need to restate the convolutions of the story in each part. And his unquestioonable right to self defense. And probable need for all of the multiple parts.

This book is about the second stage of doing nothing about Global Warming: GEO-ENGINEERING.
AGW skeptics who now say we don't know the cause of the current warming will soon be saying we know enough about the global climate to try geo-experiments.

From limited accounts, this book will be an assault on CO2 reduction efforts.

Two points:

1. Romm gets read. A lot.

2. It's not him personally, but the principle of the thing. Some of the responses to really outrageous, insulting, vicious and inflammatory people like, by the way, McKitrick, seem to me to be too conciliatory and in self-defeating ways. IF there was a consistently assertive response - neither passive, nor passive-aggressive, nor aggressive, it might make more sense to focus on what denialists want us to focus on - the tone of sites like Climate Progress.

By Marion Delgado (not verified) on 23 Oct 2009 #permalink

Hear, hear Marion! Delusionists' basic line is that the science is dodgy because the scientists have some ulterior motive. Lacking any logical argument, they go ad hominem.

What they want us to do is to commit collective suicide so they can enjoy a few more years of profits. They're performing the role of the villain in the movie Aliens. We should be nice to them? Scientists are far too polite, IMO. These people really are beyond the pale, and should be exposed as such.

as in the Aztec state, where the local scientific/religious establishment of the year 1500 had long since announced that the debate was over and that at least 20,000 human sacrifices a year were needed to keep the sun moving, the rain falling, and to stop climate change.

That's it, by George! I knew the solution to AGW was right under our noses! Another testiment to how soft modern man has become! Real men deal with AGW the ancient, proven way! Bring on the virgins! BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!


I am scientifically trained but not a scientist (I did some science journalism and assisted scientists). Romm is a scientist who moved out of active scientific work into policy and now into a kind of net journalism/op-ed/communications role.

As I explained to Anthony Watts and a couple of his hangers-on, who were saying that only people after grant money were criticizing him, he had no idea what the reality was, which is that scientists seeking grants are usually apolitical, avoid controversy, and have a lot to lose by engaging in it and very little to gain.

I then proceeded to tell them exactly how they looked to someone who was in fact not a direct monetary stakeholder in the controversy.

I really don't expect scientists to come out swinging. In fact, one of the reasons I lean more towards Chris Mooney's view than to that of his current critics is precisely that I don't know how often that's a good idea.

By Marion Delgado (not verified) on 24 Oct 2009 #permalink

> Salt is a poison?

> Posted by: actual

A high enough concentrated salt solution is acid.

Drink enough seawater and you'll notice it's not doing you any good.

Bury you in salt (with air hose) and you'll have some severe problems with your skin.

Toxic, isn't it.

I don't think there's such a thing as too polite. No matter what ridiculous things the denial camp says or does, the reasonable side should refrain from shrill language and ad hominem attacks. Let that be the cheap currency of Anthony Watts and Marohasy and whoever else. Be polite, but persistent, and continue to explain. The lack of evidence and basic knowledge among the denial camp is more than enough to devastate their talking points.

By carrot eater (not verified) on 24 Oct 2009 #permalink

Sorry, Mark, but "a high enough concentrated salt solution is acid" ?? Where did you get that one?

Daniel Davies explains the game L&D are playing.

Itâs such a popular game that we ought to have a name for it. I suggest calling it Deniable Denialism. The only rule is that all submissions must be in the following format:

Introduction: I am not a denialist but....

Main text: here are some familiar denialist talking-points.

Conclusion: we really should pay more attention to denialists (of whom I am not one), in the interests of healthy debate.

By Kevin Donoghue (not verified) on 24 Oct 2009 #permalink

Romm would do well to soften the tone, and let the science do the talking.

Does anyone actually have any evidence that people respond better to softer-toned writing, which "lets the science do the talking"?
I spent a great deal of time reading Mooney's articles, and Nisbet's papers, and I never found any of that material convincing.

I need to re-think my previous comment. Part of the problem with the stance of Nisbet was that he didn't think science could do the talking on its own. He felt it needed to be "framed".

I really don't expect scientists to come out swinging. In fact, one of the reasons I lean more towards Chris Mooney's view than to that of his current critics is precisely that I don't know how often that's a good idea.

There is no "one best way". People are not monolithic. Some respond to one way, others to a different way, still others...you get the idea. Do what is comfortable for you. No one person is going to change the minds of everyone. Be yourself - no one can tell you you are doing it wrong.



> Sorry, Mark, but "a high enough concentrated salt solution is acid" ?? Where did you get that one?

> Posted by: Marco

OK, not acid in the chemist sense, but it burns your skin and blisters it and can necrotize flesh.

I second Kevin, with some additional suggestions on name. How about, 'plausibly deniable denialism'? Or 'concerned about the close minded shrillness of the pro-AGW crowd trolling'? The basic template though is nailed.

Btw, there's nothing to be gained in heated emotional responses, not that I'm one to talk. Real climate is a real cautionary tale there. They're still bringing their vast expertise to the debate, still blowing up denialist arguments, but their increasingly combative tone is only lessening their effectiveness, and encouraging their avowed adversaries in that. I'm not saying I don't umderstand given the dishonest and often sinister tactics they're up against, just stating the facts as I see them.

It's a strangely warm fall day in NYC. One wonders given how invested denialists have become in their lies, what happens to the 'debate' if we have a record breakingly hot el niño year...

By Majorajam (not verified) on 24 Oct 2009 #permalink

One wonders given how invested denialists have become in their lies, what happens to the 'debate' if we have a record breakingly hot el niño year...

they will ignore it. and keep pointing out cold events happening at the same time. that is exactly what [Watts](http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/10/23/252_new_usa_lows/) is doing at the moment. (they will ignore scientific eveidence, showing that el Nino causes cooler and wet weather at certain places..)

and in the year after the event, they will be back to plotting downward trends. in exactly the same way that they did with arctic sea ice.

the denialist are extremly resilient to facts. they will simply ignore all evidence against their cause and applaud the weakest support for their ideas they can find.

But apparently they missed an even more trenchant quote by atomic physicist Happer, who has been of interest lately:

He is quoted in Jan 2009: Daily Princetonian:

ââPhysics professor William Happer GS â64 has some tough words for scientists who believe that carbon dioxide is causing global warming. âThis is George Orwell. This is the âGermans are the master race. The Jews are the scum of the earth.â Itâs that kind of propaganda,â Happer, the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics, said in an interview. âCarbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Every time you exhale, you exhale air that has 4 percent carbon dioxide. To say that thatâs a pollutant just boggles my mind. What used to be science has turned into a cult.â

and his colleague Robert Austin (which makes 2 of the 6 orignators of the APS Petition, biophysicist:

He was quoted (by Marc Morano, then of Senator James Inhofeâs staff):
ââUnfortunately, Climate Science has become Political Scienceâ¦It is tragic that some perhaps well-meaning but politically motivated scientists who should know better have whipped up a global frenzy about a phenomena which is statistically questionable at best,â Austin told the minority staff on the Environment and Public Works Committee on March 2, 2009.â

Both are members of the National Academy of Sciences, but not for climate science. As always, one needs to recall that Happer is current Chairman of the George C. Marshall Institute, and learn about that if you do not already know, as per Sourcewatch for example.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 24 Oct 2009 #permalink

As always, one needs to recall that Happer is current Chairman of the George C. Marshall Institute,

this is obvious: all climate scientists are part of the conspiracy. if you are seeking the truth, listen to scientist paied by exxon or the tobacco lobby....

"The Institute is partially supported by the Exxon Education Foundation and American Standard Companies."

By Marion Delgado (not verified) on 24 Oct 2009 #permalink

I think the best dismissal for SF would be this:

"Oh, I thought it was just a 2nd edition of 'The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change.'"

By Marion Delgado (not verified) on 24 Oct 2009 #permalink

In the final analysis, AGW science doesn't have to be right or wrong or anywhere in between. It's a political debate.

Unless you believe that climate models correctly project future climate, the snippets of scientific knowledge gained over the years tells of no catastrophic AGW future. This, of course, is a political belief. Even scientists go back and forth over the so-called facts. When it comes to general science, facts are anything that is believed without question by enough scientists. When it comes to AGW science, facts are anything obtained from a government research grant, and not the least bit sullied by qualifications of "might", "could", "maybe", etc. This is also a political statement. Scientists claim we are reaching a tipping point. This is also a political statement.

Anthropogenic Global warming is the perfect storm for environmental activism. Proof of its existance is neither possible to obtain nor needed for acceptance. It exists by proclamation, with all the planet victimized by it. Humans are more than willing to find any justification for accepting or rejecting AGW as it meshes with their individual value systems.

But it matters not. At this point, the beliefs of those who possess both vivid imaginations and excellent communication skills will most likely prevail. This is the way humans are.

Shorter JeffM:

I'm very very balanced when it comes to the debate over global warming, so much so that I throw out the usual inactivist talking points, however I quickly point out that both sides do it, so I'm open-minded, and it's OK.

Oh yes, I just spewed some verbiage that has nothing to do the topic of this thread. However, both sides do it, therefore I'm open-minded, and it's OK.

As the resident chemist (a very scary thought), two things

1. As any chemist repeats endlessly, the dose makes the poison. You can ingest very small amounts of really nasty things without a problem. Just look at all those publications from 1900 which tell you what methylethyldeath tastes like. Of course there are things that will kill you in just about ANY dose such as dimethyl mercury.

2. If you take a salt of a weak base and a strong acid, such as iron (III) chloride, when it hits water it will transform into ferric hydroxide and hydrogen ions as in

FeCl3(s) + H2O(l) --> 3Cl-(aq) + Fe(OH)3(aq) + 3H+(aq)

so the solution is acidic.

Similarly the salt of a weak acid and a strong base in solution will be basic as sodium acetate

NaAc(s) + H2O --> Na+(aq) + OH-(aq) + HAc(aq)

If you get pickled in the salt, some of it will absorb water on your skin and away you go. In most cases, the acidity is not significantly harmful, but it will be acidic

Some worked out examples

Back to our previously scheduled snarking.

re carrot eater's "It's laziness and ignorance..."

...with a hefty chaser of cover-ups - several people have reported that critical comments, or comments pointing to critical reviews, didn't survive moderation at the Freakonomics blog; and even after they(Dubner?) started letting these comments through, comments pointing out that this had been occurring still got deep-sixed.

By Anna Haynes (not verified) on 24 Oct 2009 #permalink

I like Kevin's alliterative and catchy phrase deniable denialism and I am going to adopt it.

By Marion Delgado (not verified) on 24 Oct 2009 #permalink

Not sure it will be that easy sod. They've redefined what warming means, and used that to question attribution. Even the 'respectible' denialists like McIntyre have pinned a fair amount of their 'it's all hooey' narrative on that line of crankdom. And the message has gotten across in spades.

So the inevitable and highly inconvenient data point will create something of a theodicy for those hoodwinked like Matt Drudge, if not for hoodwinkers like Watts. That will leave the work cut out for the latter.

In any case, we'll find out soon enough.

By Majorajam (not verified) on 24 Oct 2009 #permalink

Also, and i wouldn't say this on other forums for fear of starting up the Troubles again:

I always split off Nisbet from Mooney. Nisbet has very little to show for his dogmatic assertions, he's a dreadful communicator, his behavior with respect to PZ Myers and others was misleading and defamatory. I really have never seen him show any indication people should listen to him. Chris Mooney shouldn't have associated with him, if for no other reason than that it gives critics of work like Unscientific America lots of reasonable ammo.

I actually think Nisbet's attacks on some people who don't follow his quirky take on framing are as bad as, say, Kwok's on his targets like, again, PZ. Too persistent and almost never backed up by evidence. I was entirely turned off by his attacks, and I'd read everything people were saying about Nisbet to begin with, just to make sure I wasn't seeing only one side.

Moreover, since the religious science denialists hate him just as much as they hate the non-framers, and since most scientists who encounter him think his frames are ludicrous, he should state, squarely, at some point exactly who his how-to-frame-science prescriptions are aimed at, who's followed them, and what the results have been.

By Marion Delgado (not verified) on 24 Oct 2009 #permalink

I'd call it dogwhistle denialism - since it operates much like the "dogwhistles" Bush's speech writers would seed his speeches with, which pressed the religious right's buttons.

Myself, I think if everybody wrote like Romm, it would be terrible. But everybody doesn't. We need a spectrum of tones, not one tone - which would be monotonous and would rightly be accused of elitism. Romm got the ball rolling, and that is to his credit.

Folowing on from sod's comment [at #32](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/10/what_do_superfreakonomics_and.p…), and from the subsequent classic example of denialism, here is an exerpt from the anarchically scripted but nevertheless under-rated comment on human nature, [Erik the Viking](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erik_the_Viking). I've mentioned it once before, but it really does bear another reference:


KING ARNULF: "Everyone stay calm! This is not happening! "

(The doors of the Great Hall burst open and a wall of water crashes through, knocking the Vikings off their feet. There is little doubt that the whole of Hy-Brasil is sinking - see a street go down, a statue sink and then we cut to a close-up of King Arnulf. He is standing at the top of the Forum steps addressing a crowd of anxious citizens. They are keeping surprisingly good order considering they are already standing ankle-deep in water, and the whole town is rapidly sinking around them.)

KING ARNULF: "Now, I know what some of you must be thinking... the day has come.... we're all going down, etc. etc. But let's get away from the fantasy and look at the facts. Fact One - The threat of total destruction has kept the peace for one thousand years. Fact Two - The chances of it failing now are therefore one in three hundred and sixty-five thousand. Fact Three..."

(By this time the water is up to people's knees, and several have crowded onto the lower steps to avoid getting wet.)

KING ARNULF: "Fact Three - Our safety regulations are the most rigorous in the world. We are all nice to each other, we never rub each other up the wrong way or contradict each other, do we?"

CROWD: "No."

(Rumble. The buildings sink and masonry falls.)

CITIZEN: "We... er... do seem to be going down quite fast, Your Majesty - not trying to contradict you, course."

KING ARNULF: "No, of course you're not, citizen. But let's stick to the facts. There has never been a safer, more certain way of keeping the peace. So whatever's happening, you can rest assured, Hy-Brasil is not sinking. Repeat, not sinking."

(We cut to an unfortunate Hy-Brasilian who looks out of a window to see if it's raining, but is immersed before he can find out. The citizens in the Forum, however, are reassured by the King's words - even though they are now up to their waists in water. One of them steps forward.)

ANOTHER CITIZEN: "May I just make a point in support of what King Arnulf's just

KING ARNULF: "We'd be delighted - wouldn't we?"

CITIZENS: "Yes, we'd certainly like to hear what one of us has got to say..."

(Erik, Sven, Sven's dad and Harald struggle out of the Great Hall, carrying their belongings and the Horn Resounding, while the citizen is still speaking most articulately in support of the King. They are ALMOST in a panic.)

ERIK: "What are you all doing?"

CITIZEN AT THE BACK: "(cheerfully): "It's all right. It's not happening."

ERIK (urgently): "The place is sinking!"

CITIZEN AT THE BACK: "Yes... I thought it was too, but the King's just pointed out that it can't be."

CITIZEN (still speaking in support of the King): "..and, of course, we mustn't forget King Arnulf's EXCELLENT eye for flower-arranging."

(There is a smattering of applause. A few people pull their robes up out of the wet. Erik leaps onto a wall and shouts to the crowd.)

ERIK: "Save yourselves! Hy-Brasil... is sinking."

(There are a lot of knowing smiles amongst the citizens.)

CITIZEN FROM MIDDLE: "Look, you don't know our safety regulations."

KING ARNULF: "It can't happen."

ERIK: "But it IS! Look!"

KING ARNULF (ignoring Erik): "The important thing is not to panic."

CITIZENS: "Quite... yes... we understand..."

KING ARNULF: "I've already appointed the Chancellor as Chairman of a committee to find out exactly what IS going on, and meantime I suggest we have a sing-song!"

CITIZENS: "Good idea!"

ANOTHER: "Can we do the one that goes 'TUM-TI-TUM-TI-TUM-TI-TUM'?"

(Erik looks around in despair. Meanwhile in another street someone is struggling in the floodwater.)


SVEN'S DAD: "Look!"

(They look up as GOLDEN DRAGON sails around a corner of the street, piloted by Aud. As the Vikings scramble aboard, the sound of the "sing-song" reaches a particularly noisy and discordant climax attract their attention. Back in what was the Forum, a crowd of unconcerned-looking citizens is sitting on the last roof and just coming to the end of another appalling song.)

CITIZENS: "...Te...Tum!"

KING": "You know, I think we're getting better."

CITIZEN 1 (with genuine interest): "How can you tell?"

KING (a bit stumped): "Er..."

AUD: "Father!"

(The King looks up.)

KING ARNULF: "It's all right! It isn't happening!"

AUD: "But, Father, it IS!"

ERIK: "Get on board!"


CITIZEN 3: "Who do you think YOU are?"

CITIZEN 1: "Panic-monger!"

(The roof is now sinking rapidly, though the citizens appear as unperturbed as ever.)

CITIZEN: "Leave us alone!"

SVEN: "Yeah. Leave 'em alone."

AUD: "It's sinking! Hy-Brasil is sinking!"

KING ARNULF: "Well, my dear, I think you'll find it's all a question of what you want to believe in.... I have slightly more experience of these matters than you..."

(Unfortunately, at this point, the entire gathering of citizens, the King and the Forum Temple disappear below the waves.)


The only difference with the real world is that the Hy-Brasilians are taking the rest of the planet down with them...

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 25 Oct 2009 #permalink


My last sentence should have read:

...the Hy-Brasilians were not taking the rest of the planet down with them...

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 25 Oct 2009 #permalink

"Even scientists go back and forth over the so-called facts."

Pffft. Facts. You can use "facts" to prove anything that's even remotely true. Facts Schmacts.

/Homer Simpson.


If you look further back in popular science journals, you find that people would use lead acetate as a sugar adulterant. I offered to make up a batch for a friend who claimed the Nietzschean philosophy "that which does not kill you makes you stronger". He unaccountably passed on it. He's an altie who doesn't believe in global warming, either. I'm finding such folk ineducable.

Wow. Did Happer really testify before the U.S. Senate comparing climate mitigation policy to Aztec human sacrifice? And this is what passes for reasoned debate?

By Ambitwistor (not verified) on 26 Oct 2009 #permalink

@ llewelly, 27: It's my experience that calling somebody names is not a good way to get them to understand whatever it is you are saying.

Emotional responses like that of Romm are what feed the notion that global warming is a 'religion'. Well, that, and well-meaning activists who are convinced of the cause, but have little understanding of the science.

@ majorajam and sod, 31/32: I agree with sod. If hypothetically, El Nino pushes 2010 to a record high, the sceptics will ignore it (and also ignore the solar minimum), or tell us that warming is natural and good, or tell us that the instrument reading is contaminated by urban heat islands. When 2011 is then cooler than 2010, they'll immediately accept the instrument record, and tell us the earth is cooling.

In a reaction to all this 'the earth has been cooling since 1998' silliness, I hope the people here don't overreact and make too much hay of the next record high year. Long term trend with high-amplitude short-term noise. Keep repeating that at the record highs, as well.

By carrot eater (not verified) on 26 Oct 2009 #permalink

> Emotional responses like that of Romm are what feed the notion that global warming is a 'religion'.

Funny how "we'll be force back into the stone age" doesn't have the same effect, despite being a purely emotional response.

@Mark, 52: That is indeed a good point. These guys promise us all sorts of catastrophe if a carbon price is implemented, without having done any sort of economic analysis. Who's the alarmist now? Yes, you should call them on that, and ask for a source. Even Cato or the AEI wouldn't support such hyperbole.

By carrot eater (not verified) on 26 Oct 2009 #permalink


As usual, pretending the question wasn't even asked is the response.

Don't get me wrong carrot eater- I'm not suggesting that denialists fold up the tent and move on. It's just that such a data point presents significant problems for the going narrative of choice:

1) global climate has always been fluctuating
2) the hockey stick is broken, so, notwithstanding any corroborating evidence to speak of, we have to assume there is nothing that is anomalous about the latter half of the 20th century's warming in the fullness of time. Remember- Greenland wasn't called Greenland for nothing.
2) CO2 keeps going up but global cooling has set in, therefore CO2 could not be the cause of whatever warming has happened. It was probably solar irradiance at frequencies we haven't been monitoring, possibly also some GCR and other celestial non-human causes chucked in for good measure.

That closed loop does in any place for human emitted carbon all whilst precluding the need for a cogent counter point to the mainstream scientific understanding of climate. The former's the key. Denialists have had far less success in creating theories of feedbacks and forcings than they have exploiting the technicalities of science to foist criticism and vague innuendo- Plimer's plagiarized complaints about the CO2 record are a perfect example of said.

Of course, that continues, but it no longer goes toward a logical narrative, even such as that is. Because what happens if we get a new high- not least during a solar minimum- is that point 2 is busted, much of the fun they've been having with correlations in the last decade gets busted as well, and they're back to the far more fraught process of creating 'something, anything non-human or at least non-commerce related' as the culprit for warming.

Of course since this is decidedly where they don't want to go, we'll probably see the war against the data itself pick up something awful, as you've both alluded to. We'll probably also see even more intensely vituperative attacks, in print and otherwise, against those scientists and science organizations with name recognition, Mann, Schmidt, the IPCC, Hansen, etc., than we have already.

Irrespective, it will still be a bad day in the deniasphere if such a data point comes to light, much as the September 2008 data point was for the Chicago School/AEI twaddle.

By Majorajam (not verified) on 26 Oct 2009 #permalink

Majorajam: You are giving the sceptic camp far too much credit. How many of them actually attempt to maintain a consistent hypothesis of their own? I don't think they particularly strive for consistency.

By carrot eater (not verified) on 26 Oct 2009 #permalink

Majorajam: A double disolution election will see 'vituperative attacks' from both camps as the political fight heats up. Expect politicians to take sides on this single issue and the media to report it.

The outcome is uncertain, but if Kevin is cornered and says 'baseload' power will come from nuclear power. Then he will lose the election.

A recent poll conducted by ANSTO (Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation) indicates the majority are against it.


ANSTO also made an apology for a staff member who, 'without authority, modified the poll'.