WaPo publishes anti-GW nonsense

The pathetic thing is that it's the same old tripe. Emily Yoffe writes "Gloom and Doom in A Sunny Day" and rehashes the same tired old anti-GW tripe.

We start with the use of an idiotic example of misunderstanding climate change to mock global warming:

It was a mild January evening, and people had filled the restaurant's outdoor patio. As our group walked past the tables, one of my friends said, "This terrifies me." I don't know if she was reassured later by the chilly April, but we are all supposed to be terrified of the weather now.

It's just as stupid when people who are concerned about global warming use the example of a single hot day to exaggerate the concern as when the anti-GW denialists use a single cold day to show how global warming isn't happening.

We have the false alarmism:

I, however, refuse to see the apocalypse in every balmy day. And I think it's wrong to let our children believe they'll be swept away before they get a chance to fret about college admissions. An article in The Post this spring described children anxious, sleepless and tearful about the end; one 9-year-old said she worried about global warming "because I don't want to die."

I lack a bit of sympathy on this one, growing up during the cold war outside of DC I remember multiple teachers telling us we'd be the first to be annihilated by nuclear weapons in the event of a shooting war with the Soviet Union. A perfectly true statement, and in the absence of an explanation that such an event was very unlikely, I spent a few sleepless nights thinking about nuclear war myself. Yoffe is correct, it's important to make it clear to kids that unnecessary fear is unwarranted, but this appeal to "won't someone please think of the children" is just silly. Kids are going to worry about things they don't have a good grasp of, growing up involves learning how to deal with risks, threats, and abstract worries like this. That doesn't mean that for the sake of the children global warming should only be discussed in hushed tones when the little ones are out of the room.

Most pathetic of all is the classic inability to distinguish between weather and climate:

Since I hate the heat, even I was alarmed by the recent headline: "NASA Warns of 110-Degrees for Atlanta, Chicago, DC in Summer." But I regained my cool when I realized the forecast was for close to the end of the century. Thanks to all the heat-mongering, it's supposed to be a sign I'm in denial because I refuse to trust a weather prediction for August 2080, when no one can offer me one for August 2008 (or 2007 for that matter).

Now why in the world should we listen to anyone pontificate on climate change who doesn't understand the difference between climate and weather? If there is one thing that can hopefully be communicated to people about how climate works, it is that prediction of climate does not mean prediction of weather. Climate is the average of weather. It can be predicted. I, for instance, live in a temperate zone, with average rainfall within a certain range, and average temperatures which remain consistent year to year. Within any given year we may have a month with extremes of rainfall, or heat, or cold. But that doesn't mean we can't predict our climate. Changes in climate make certain types of weather more or less likely - but extremes and exceptions are going to occur and don't mean anything in isolation - a mistake she makes from the beginning to end of this article.

I agree with Yoffe, scaring kids isn't helpful, nor are some advocates behaving in a reasonable way - just look at the latest tripe from the Independent. Also the links between hurricanes that we've experienced and global warming is still tenuous. But that does not mean that global warming will not cause more intense hurricanes - that is quite likely. More heat, more energy in the system, these things cause more extreme weather. There is a simple reason we have hurricanes in the summer months, and while it's true that we can't be certain Katrina is due to global warming, at the very least it's an example of the importance of respecting weather, and not being so arrogant to assume that humans can't be disastrously affected by poor preparation for extreme weather events. (A good starting point to understand the current knowledge of hurricanes and global warming, as well as some recent developments on the balancing effects of warming on sheer - in the atlantic only - can be found here). Also look forward to a review of Chris Mooney's Storm World once he gets me my copy - we'll talk more about hurricanes then.

Alarmism is bad, yes. Purveying classic misunderstandings about climate and science to promote a do-nothing attitude is even worse.

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There's also the classic psychological reaction of blaming the messenger: "These scientists are scaring me, and it's bad that I'm scared, therefore they must be to blame."

Ironically, I don't imagine she'd blame the mechanic who told her that her transmission was shot.

Yeah, I spent a fair chunk of my childhood being extremely worried by the prospect of nuclear war too. Somehow I can't quite see the comparison between a long-term, (theoretically) manageable threat with incremental impacts, and total annihilation with a maximum of ten minutes warning. I clearly remember sitting in a school classroom looking at simulated blast radii for various tonnages centred on the nearby nuclear submarine base, and trying to decide whether it would be better to nearer ground-zero - since even a tactical nuke would have serious radiation impacts at that range.

Of course, that particular threat hasn't actually gone away since then...

Thanks to all the heat-mongering, it's supposed to be a sign I'm in denial because I refuse to trust a weather prediction for August 2080, when no one can offer me one for August 2008 (or 2007 for that matter).

I can't give you an on-the-nose prediction for the afternoon high on August third, but I'll bet you real money it'll be warmer than December twenty-fifth.

Mark,
I was an Air Force brat whose father was a B-52 pilot. We worried a *lot* about nuclear strikes. BTW, your teachers were wrong - the real number 1 on the list (that is the target that would be picked if only one nuke was launched) was Offut AFB in Omaha. That was followed by NORAD HQ. In a limited war scenario DC was actually pretty far down the list because you wanted the government to still be capable of surrendering.

EdT,

No. Both the US and USSR had so many nukes that if we started throwing them around any one near any sort of military base would have been toast right away. Neither of us would have launched just one, if you did and the other guy launched them all you might never get your other ones off.

Yoffe's writing is just another piece of evidence that confirms my own conclusion (based on personal experiece and observation) that journalists are among the worst educated of all professionals. First, they know nothing. Second, they don't listen. Third, when they do listen, they listen only to one another. Fourth, they attribute their own shortcomings to everyone else.

My grandfather was a line supervisor at the Pantex nuclear-weapon assembly plant (Carson County, Texas). According to my mother, theirs was the only family on the block who didn't build a fallout shelter, because Granddad knew there just wasn't a point.

Polar cities in the far distant future to house remnants of humankind
who survive the apocalypse of devastating global warming? The casual
reader might think I am an alarmist or a mere scare-monger, but I am
neither. I am a visionary.

Polar cities are proposed sustainable polar retreats designed to house
human beings in the future, in the event that global warming causes
the central and middle regions of the Earth to become uninhabitable
for a long period of time. Although they have not been built yet, some
futurists have been giving considerable thought to the concepts
involved.

I know, I know, the very thought of "polar cities" sounds like some
science-fiction movie you don't want to see. But it might be
instructive to think about such sustainable Artic and Antartic
communities for the future of humankind. If worse come to worse, and
things fall apart, perhaps by the year 2500 or the year 3000, we must
might need polar cities. And perhaps the time to start thinking about
them, and designing and planning them (and maybe even building, or
pre-building them), is now.

Here is more food for thought, from an entry in Wikipedia:
"High-population-density cities, to be built in the polar regions,
with sustainable energy and transportation infrastructures, will
require substantial nearby agriculture. Boreal soils are largely poor
in key nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, but nitrogen-fixing
plants (such as the various alders in the Artic region) with the
proper symbiotic microbes and mycorrhizal fungi can likely remedy such
poverty without the need for petroleum-derived fertilizers. Regional
probiotic soil improvement should perhaps rank high on any polar
cities priority list. James Lovelock's notion of a widely distributed
almanac of science knowledge and post-industrial survival skills also
appears to have value."

Oh, I know it's fashionable to mock global warming alarmists and doom
and gloom futurists with no credentials except a keyboard and a blog,
but there's a method to the madness of thinking about polar cities.
Maybe, just maybe, if enough people hear about the concept of polar
cities and realize how serious such a possibility is, maybe, just
maybe, they will get off their tuches and start thinking hard and fast
about how we humans are causing climate change by our lifestyles and
inventions and gadgets and need for cars and airplanes and trains and
ships and factories and coal-burning plants across the globe -- and
then maybe it won't be fashionable to mock global warming alarmists
anymore.

The future does not look good. But we can do something now. No, not
building polar cities now. That's for the future to decide. What we
can do now is stop what we are doing now and start planning in a more
sane way for the future of the species. If we even care. I do. We must
stop all human acitivity that is responsible for emitting carbon
dioxide into the Earth's atmosphere. Now. It's getting later earlier
and earlier, I tell you.

G'day Mark
I read some of your blog about Denialism and CrankHowTo. I guess I've been demoted from a skeptic to a Denialist because I remain unconvinced about man-made global warming. I accept evidence of climate change, (it is pretty clear that the earth has been both warmer and colder in the past) but there are as yet no coherent observations that "global mean temperature [shows] ... an alarmingly steep increase post-industrialization", nor that the small observed increase since 1850 has been caused by human activity.
I challenge you to apply Carl Sagan's 'Baloney Detection Kit': http://users.tpg.com.au/users/tps-seti/baloney.html to some of your claims, and those of proponents of man-made global warming. In particular, I suggest that you are perpetuating some of the very logical fallacies you rail against, e.g:
Common fallacies of logic and rhetoric
Ad hominem - attacking the arguer and not the argument. (e.g: 'denialists aren't honest brokers in a debate, they stand outside of it and just shovel horse manure into it to try to sow confusion and doubt about real science')
Argument from "authority".
Argument from adverse consequences (putting pressure on the decision maker by pointing out dire consequences of an "unfavourable" decision).
Appeal to ignorance (absence of evidence is not evidence of absence).
Begging the question (assuming an answer in the way the question is phrased).
Observational selection (counting the hits and forgetting the misses).
Statistics of small numbers (such as drawing conclusions from inadequate sample sizes).
Misunderstanding the nature of statistics
Inconsistency ("Now why in the world should we listen to anyone pontificate on climate change who doesn't understand the difference between climate and weather? ... There is a simple reason we have hurricanes in the summer months, and while it's true that we can't be certain Katrina is due to global warming, at the very least it's an example of the importance of respecting weather, and not being so arrogant to assume that humans can't be disastrously affected by poor preparation for extreme weather events") How about that for conflating a weather event and climate change.
Non sequitur - "it does not follow" - the logic falls down.
Post hoc, ergo propter hoc - "it happened after so it was caused by" - confusion of cause and effect.
Meaningless question ("what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?).
Excluded middle - considering only the two extremes in a range of possibilities ("Alarmism is bad, yes. Purveying classic misunderstandings about climate and science to promote a do-nothing attitude is even worse").
Confusion of correlation and causation.
Straw man - caricaturing (or stereotyping) a position to make it easier to attack..

Re: MarkE.

I've been reading this blog for awhile, and it still amazes me that people come to a blog that specialises in denialism, but don't consider the possibility the Mark (and Chris) actually know what they're talking about.
They leave comments that just point out how badly they have missed the point.
For instance, saying using this quote:
'denialists aren't honest brokers in a debate, they stand outside of it and just shovel horse manure into it to try to sow confusion and doubt about real science'.
This is the 'definition' of a 'denialist'. this is not an ad honinem attack.
'Dont listen to this person's argument because he is a denialist' - that is an ad hominem attack, get it?

You thought you were so clever pointing out holes in his logic, you didn't even consider own.

Phil.