Debunking climate change denialism

Climate change science denialism has pretty much run its course. We've been experiencing a large number of climate change related events (see this list for a brief summary) lately. It may well be that the number per year of such alarming events will go down and up over time. It may be that we will forget that some of them are happening because we grow used to them. But they are happening at a larger rate than just a few years ago, the years are getting warmer and warmer, and the effects predicted by the science have been manifest as predicted, but for on thing: They are happening sooner, faster, and worse than predicted in many cases.

But even tough climate change science denialism is now being moved aside (rightfully so) it is still out there an you may encounter it. Many of the active denialists can't really back down because they are so invested in the denialism that doing so would require that they admit that the effects of denialism on policy have been deadly. Science denialists do, in fact, kill people indirectly whether it be in the form of anti-vax denialism, climate change science denialism or some other form.

There is a web site that specializes in addressing the various questions denialists raise in order to cast doubt on the real science. We are no longer at the point where pro science people need to have the answers ready when the denialsts show up, because that just gives them more credit than they deserve. Rather, the appropriate response is to point them to this site: Skeptical Science

Oh, and guess what. There's an app for that! Here: Skeptical Science on the iPhone or iPad
icon. If you want the app for Android or some other platform, click through to the site and look in the sidebar.


More information on global warming and climate change HERE.

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Start with a simple one.

If we take the consensus from the IPCC forecasts, we find that the variance is narrower than a single study. ie. A meta analysis.

What you find is that the actual temperature is outside the prediction.

Now science is theory, predict, test. If your prediction is true, you have evidence for the theory. If its not, your theory fails.

Now given there haven't been any large unpredictable events such as large eruptions, its actually a biased test towards the prediction. One would expect temperatures higher than predicted.

it's a major fail, pure and simple.

Isn't skepticism and/or denialism about the role of human activity in this? I doubt that anyone is going around debating whether temperatures change from year to year or not.

Laura, no, not really. Climate science denialism is not a search for understanding, but rather, a shot-gun attack on climate science. There is plenty of yammering in the current denialism blogosphere about how there is not really any warming at all. I just saw a blog post today claiming that 2012 was an average year in terms of heat .

In your comment, you may have conflated causes of global temperature increase ("this") with variation. Doubting that anyone is debating variation is not the same thing as doubting that anyone is debating that recent warming is natural variation, or that recent warming is natural warming.

Citations Nick?

Greg, thanks for the kind comments re Skeptical Science. For those who have to respond to misinformation, I also recommend you check out our Debunking Handbook ( which is a practical guide to debunking misinformation and a short, concise explanation of the psychology of reducing the influence of misinformation.

By John Cook (not verified) on 09 Jan 2013 #permalink

Greg please jus get over it. Your lack of certainty leads you to go ver the top when people quite rightly show a real net rest in the s ence and if they do not agree with you then you call then Deniers. That us not science and trus scientists Re pleased that folk take a real rather than a blind interest
Fact is we are in a long term cooling period of many thousands of years and during these changes it has always been the case that there are upticks lasting up to a thousand years
How do you explain the current 16 year temperature stasis ?
All the best

By Graeme edwards (not verified) on 09 Jan 2013 #permalink

Nick, where the IPCC "predictions" failed (they were really stated as a range of "probabilities") was that most have been TOO conservative, that ice loss is higher than predicted, that heat gain in the oceans--where most of the temperature increase has taken place--has been more (to the tune of 2 Hiroshima bombs/second), and that extreme weather events have become more extreme. There's been fail, but NOT in the direction you assert. The theory has held up quite well, in the face of empirical, observed data.

By HasrryWiggs (not verified) on 09 Jan 2013 #permalink

Sorry...misspelled my own nick...;)

By HarryWiggs (not verified) on 09 Jan 2013 #permalink

@Graeme edwards:

Could you retype that in English? Google Translate can't figure out what language that is. There are some English words in that reply, but they don't seem to be put together in a form I can identify.

Certain bloggers on this comment thread would have us believe that the Earth’s climate is not changing and, even if it is, it’s all due to natural causes.

The disappearing Arctic sea ice did not get the memo.

The melting Greenland ice sheet did not get the memo.

Melting alpine glaciers did not get the memo.

The warming and expanding troposphere did not get the memo.

The cooling and shrinking stratosphere did not get the memo.

The melting permafrost in Canada, Alaska, and Siberia did not get the memo.

The northward migrating pine bark beetles in North America did not get the memo.

These are just a few of the numerous other lines of evidence corroborating the reality of manmade climate change that are being documented and experienced on a daily basis by scientists and ordinary people throughout the world.

By John Hartz (not verified) on 09 Jan 2013 #permalink

Greg that is pathetic
I come from science not ideology
It is clearly a waste of time talking to non scientific ideologists
You plainly do not know your science and just repeat the learned platitudes of ill informed warmists

By Graeme edwards (not verified) on 09 Jan 2013 #permalink

I explain the alleged "current 16 year temperature stasis" by pointing out that it's (a) it's not actually stasis - the period shows warming, but not quite to the level of statistical significance, and (b) that result is a statistical artefact of a carefully cherry-picked time period. Why 16 years, rather than a more normal climatological period of 20 or 30 years? Because either would show statistically significant warming. In this particular case, a shorter time period would also show statistically significant warming - you have to use the dramatic outlier of 1998 as your start point in order to avoid acknowledging the obvious fact of continued warming. And that's why this particular talking point has recently changed from 15 years to 16 years...

Graeme .... yet, you seem to not be able to resist wasting your time.

I'm impressed with Greg's ability to deal with Graeme's repeated lies across multiple threads.

I'm disheartened so many folks think, and act, the way Graeme does.


It is clearly a waste of time talking to non scientific ideologists

I agree, which is why IMO you should slink off to whatever denialist dirtpile you get your misinformation from and leave the discussion to people committed to trying to get a grip on climate change.

Because "non scientific ideologist" (and a dishonest one, to boot) is precisely what you are.

By Composer99 (not verified) on 10 Jan 2013 #permalink

Ah well hominem attacks are the last refuge of the uninformed
Don't worry about the science-just attack the messenger

By Graeme edwards (not verified) on 10 Jan 2013 #permalink

Graeme, we've addressed the science. You and your science denialist friends are the ones who are (willfully, I think) uninformed and anti science. That is why you are known as science denialists.

Graeme, those weren't ad-hominems. You fail on that bit of knowledge as well. Saying that you are a serial liar on this issue is simply a statement of fact.


Greg that is pathetic
I come from science not ideology
It is clearly a waste of time talking to non scientific ideologists
You plainly do not know your science and just repeat the learned platitudes of ill informed warmists

Graeme edward is either a poe, or the paradigmatic victim of the Dunning-Kruger effect. Messrs. D & K proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:

1) tend to overestimate their own level of skill ("I come from science not ideology");

2) fail to recognize genuine skill in others ("You plainly do not know your science...");

3) fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy ("...the learned platitudes of ill informed warmists");

D & K held out hope for Graeme, by further proposing that victims can:

4) recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they are exposed to training for that skill.

If he'd only avail himself of the abundant genuine scientific skill outside the denier blogs 8^(. With a couple of clicks, he could absorb Spencer Weart's The Discovery of Global Warming, or exert himself a little further by taking a free online Introduction to the Science of Climate and Climate Change from the University of Oxford. If he truly "comes from science," he'll undoubtedly have no trouble with the material.

Those are pretty big ifs, though. After all, those who fulfill the first three criteria are unlikely to expose themselves to the appropriate training! I don't have high hopes for Graeme, but perhaps he'll prove me wrong ;^).

By Mal Adapted (not verified) on 12 Jan 2013 #permalink

Graeme, take heart. My own experience of these people is that ANYONE who does not fully comply with their personal beliefs is a “denier”, even though they may be in agreement with most of what they say. Take a look at John Hartz: a list of events that are a good demonstration that there is global warming (and which no-one disagrees with) – but this CANNOT be a natural event, it HAS TO BE human-induced! Not too sure how he would explain away those times in history when similar, or the reverse, effects occurred when there were considerably fewer, if any, humans around.

How about this quote: “… this past century was the hottest ever on record…” Pretty scary, huh? However, it conveniently overlooks that, as it is the only century with sufficiently extensive direct recording ever, that is not a hard target to hit; it could also be, “…the coldest century ever on record…”, “…the wettest…”, “… the driest…” All other recordings are by proxy, and so open to debate. What we DO know is that it was the century that saw the greatest human expansion ever, and that expansion will surely have some effect on the climate, and the whole biosphere, though, as yet, we still lack a huge amount of data to create a sound theory. But to accept and admit that means that you are a “DENIER”, and should be stripped of all your accolades, honours, awards, certificates, qualification, entitlements, jobs…even your life, according to one “philosopher” (to great applause from her audience, and, as I read it, Mr. Greg Laden). Something similar happened around the middle of the last century in the USA, which most Americans now treat with a certain amount of embarrassment, under Senator Joseph McCarthy.

This stridency is over the temperature flat line that the UK Met Office admits over the past 16 years (though in my maths, 2012 – 1998 = 14, but anyhoo…), while the CO2 concentration has risen inexorably. It will be interesting to see what the alarmists will say when/if the global temperature starts to fall.

Finally, these attacks on you are ad hominem, as defined in the Oxford English Dictionary: “2(of an argument or reaction) directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining, and dean and Mal Adapted handily confirm that.

By Radical Rodent (not verified) on 14 Jan 2013 #permalink

Radical, please explain how an ad hominem attack is a problem? The argument about climate change is not ad hominem. The argument about climate change is based on the science (and Graeme has got it completely wrong, as do you apparently). The ad hominem attack is on deniers who have slowed down the process of addressing climate change for selfish reasons, and who are, therefore, bad people.

You have confused ad hominem argument with ad hominem attack. The attack has become appropriate, you deniers are bad people, please don't think you can tell us we an't say that because you have a Latin word for it. But telling the deniers that they are bad people is not part of the climate change science argument. That's just the science.

radical, as Greg pointed out, you are confusing a statement about the person with a statement about the person's "argument.". Whether this is in error or intentional is difficult to say, although suspicions about which is the correct conclusion strongly favor intentional, since you repeat the incredibly dishonest

This stridency is over the temperature flat line that the UK Met Office admits over the past 16 years ...

bit to argue that the effects of climate change have stopped.

Give us something other than the category of "Statistical Ignorance and Stupidity" for a change. Maybe a little reading of the science and some honesty?