Climatology Versus Pseudoscience: Exposing the Failed Predictions of Global Warming Skeptics

Dana Nuccitelli is a key communicator in the climate change conversation. He is co-writer with John Abraham at the Climate Consensus - the 97% blog at the Guardian, and has contributed hundreds of entries to John Cook’s famous site He has measurably helped people to understand climate change science and the nuances of the false debate based over climate manufactured by science deniers.

And, he’s written a book!

Graphic from Cook, Nuccitelli, Et Al 2013 paper quantifying the consensus on climate change.  This figure also appears in "Climatology and Pseudoscience" Graphic from Cook, Nuccitelli, Et Al 2013 paper quantifying the consensus on climate change. This figure also appears in "Climatology and Pseudoscience"

Climatology Versus Pseudoscience: Exposing the Failed Predictions of Global Warming Skeptics fills a wide open niche in the climate science discussion. Dana powers through the literature on climate science, identifying and describing instances of the predictions, projections, or assertions made by climate science and compares these with assertions made by climate science contrarians, also known as deniers. (Though the distinction between denier and non-denier emerged later in the full time frame addressed in the book.) Simply put, Dana compares the two at several points to see which is correct: the projection that human generated greenhouse gas pollution warms the Earth and changes the climate, or the projection that it does not.

It turns out it does! But you knew that. But what you might not have realized is the overall time frame of how this situation has developed. Dana skillfully documents the deeply disturbing fact that the issue of global warming (and related things) has been settled for a very long time. Were it not for mainly fossil fuel industry funded anti-science activists, we would not be having this discussion today, and Dana would not have had to write his book. Rather, science would be focused on figuring out the remaining and important details of how the Earth’s climate system responds to human pollution as well as natural changes, and policy makers would be busy working out how to keep the Carbon in the ground. We probably would have had a price on Carbon years ago, and we’d probably be running our civilizations off of a very high and ever increasing percentage of clean (non fossil carbon) energy. But no, those denialists had to ruin it for everyone with their fake skepticism.

I asked Dana Nuccitelli, “What surprised you most while researching and writing this book?” and he told me,

I was surprised at how accurate mainstream climate scientists’ predictions about global warming have been, even using the earliest global climate models as early as 43 years ago. The earliest model predictions were based mainly on the warming expected from the increasing greenhouse effect, so it goes to show what a dominant factor carbon pollution has played on global temperature changes over the past half century.

Climatology Versus Pseudoscience: Exposing the Failed Predictions of Global Warming Skeptics is engagingly written, clear, accurate, non-technical but not watered down. If you know the stuff in this book you can be more confident than ever having those conversations with with your friends Denialist Dan and Warmest Willie. In fact, I would recommend Climatology Versus Pseudoscience along side Michael Mann’s book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines for a comprehensive treatment of the history of both denialism and the science itself.

I asked Dana who he had in mind as the most likely audience for this book. I’m sure it is for general readership, but I also felt it could be used in classes.

I wrote the book with the general public as my intended audience. I wanted to make explanations about some basic climate science concepts accessible to everyone. My publisher told me that they anticipate that universities and libraries will be the main purchasers of the book though, so they may have had class use in mind more than I did!

Dana covers the early days of climate science, discusses the “Astounding Accuracy of Early Climate Models (Chapter 3), discusses the development of the scientific consensus on climate change, and provides an excellent overview of the current situation with greenhouse gas pollution caused climate change.

Over the last year or so, it seems that the climate conversation is starting to shift. Major media outlets are changing their approach, not following the dictum of false balance. Climate change is starting to become a bigger factor in elections, in a good way. The President of the United States has openly called on Americans to reject science denialism. I asked Dana where he thought the climate change conversation might be going over the next couple of years, and if we might see addressing climate change as more routine rather than highly controversial in the future.

I think much of the media is starting to shift towards more accurate, responsible, and truly balanced coverage on climate change. The Washington Post has been doing a great job since they hired Chris Mooney. The Guardian’s climate coverage is excellent. TV media coverage has been improving, and some great shows like Years of Living Dangerously and Cosmos have tackled climate change.

I think journalists and producers are starting to understand the difference between false balance and actual balance in climate reporting, and that media shift will be critically important in accurately informing the public on this critical issue. Most people vastly underestimate the level of scientific consensus on human-caused global warming, and I think that can mostly be blamed on media false balance. If you regularly see one-on-one debates, it’s natural to assume the experts are divided and debating the issue at hand.

With human-caused global warming, that’s obviously no longer true, but that perceived debate explains why people still don’t view climate change as a top priority. That needs to change, but that won’t happen until we have truly balanced media coverage accurately informing the public. That was one of my key motivations in writing this book - to hold the climate contrarians accountable for their bad science and failed predictions, because so far the media has failed to do that.

Dana’s final chapter talks about the future, about what can and should happen. He notes that we have the technology in hand to solve the climate crisis, and that we are starting to apply it.

I strongly recommend this book for the general reader, but I would also suggest it for use in certain classes, either in high school or college. If you are a teacher and want to thoroughly cover the “Debate” over climate science, get this book.

Published by Praeger; 214 pages; copious notes; index; cool graphic.

And now, for a little video fun related to Dana's book, climate science, and the scientific consensus on greenhouse gas pollution and its effects:

Dana on Typhoon Haiyan and Climate Change:

The Climate Consensus Project (John Cook, Dana "Nutelli" Nuccitelli, and others):

A typical climate science denier, John Spencer, talking about the Consensus Project. on "Andrew Neil vs Dana Nuccitelli"

What climate scientists and communicators do when they are not being challenged by climate contrarians:

Dana's Ice environmentally thoughtful Ice Bucket Challenge:


More like this

John Spencer is a comedian, right? He must be. Stuffing food in his face. Mumbling his words. Making no sense whatsoever. Just the kind of guy we need to portray the denialists.

By Richard Chapman (not verified) on 11 Mar 2015 #permalink

Thanks for including the graphic of Cook and Nuccitelli's pseudoscientific paper on 'consensus'.

I can't wait for someone to put out a book detailing all of the failed predictions of climate scientists. Now that I would buy.

pinroot, that is essentially what this book is! Well, not all of them, there are to many, but many of them.

Great post Greg...

OMG. John Spencer... what a gifted anencephalopath, so obviously the mastermind behind the denial campaign.
How can we compete with that?

Knowing Dana, his book will be a great read - I look forward to tucking in...

By Andy Lee Robinson (not verified) on 12 Mar 2015 #permalink

People are completely sick of talking about this, aren't they?

It's amazing, because this is *at least* as interesting as Ebola.

By Craig Thomas (not verified) on 20 Mar 2015 #permalink

Just to preserve a collection of Brad Keyes misinformation after it predictably vanished from its context-providing position under his dishonest fake-review:…

“John Cook the SkSFürher; Lewandowsky’s halfwit henchboy.”
“Naomi Oreskes is unusually ugly, very dull and a deliberate traducer of the scientific method.”
[Merchants of Doubt] “was a farcical anti-Semitic conspiracy pamphlet ”
“Mann’s private, home-coded, non-standard, unexplained, undocumented statistical methods”
[Mann’s data is freely available] “thanks to years of FOI campaigning.”
“The “Hockey Stick” has always, always referred to the almost-1000-years-long shaft followed by the 100-to-200-years-long blade”
“We know, thanks to the Climategate whistleblower,…”[about the external hacking of the CRU email system].
“No number of climate studies can or will ever shed any light on the validity or invalidity of the procedure Mann followed in deriving the Hockey Stick graph from his own data.”
“the entire mendacious language of “acidification” was nothing but science-as-an-extension-of-politics”
“continental drift is just as likely to ruin your life as global warming ever will!”
“The actual geology ain’t changed. What did? The consensus. And, thereby, the actual geology. Expert agreement influences-nay, governs-plate movements.”
” Wow is suggesting… that if the MWP had been temporally coherent all around the world, then humanity would have died off”
*** Winning Entry ***
“Polar bears have “experienced” the temperature of a zoo in Germany. They have “experienced” the temperature of a zoo in Sydney….I’ve cited zoological proof. Polar bears don’t mind nice weather.”
*** Winning Entry ***
“Science achieves consensus when scientists stop reasoning.”
“It turns out skepticism isn’t always anti-science”
[the idea that human actions are contributing to global warming is…]”the very hypothesis which the IPCC was entrusted with examining the truth (or otherwise) of”
“nobody has ever come up with scientific evidence showing that [global warming] IS a (nett) danger.”
“it’s easy to scoff at unvalidated computer models with no track record of working”
“My point is that-to repeat-nobody denies climate change.”
“The desire to find (even more) dirt on Mann comes from a forlorn hope that, if we find enough, people like you will eventually stop defending him”
“…we already know more than enough to convict him as a pseudoscientific charlatan,”
“The Scientists circle their wagons around an obviously-corrupt member of their profession”
“the only impeccably honorable climate scientists I can think of, off the top of my head, happen to be deniers like Lindzen”
“Mann’s crimes against science.”
“there are no climate-change deniers”
“A consensus will never-can never-mean anything in science”
” Something else I care about is the integrity of science”
“there is no evidence that AGW is going to be dangerous unless emissions are reduced”
“I’d rather see the tens of billions of research dollars spent on something-anything-more beneficial to mankind, like curing baldness.”
“a warming ocean is an ocean that cannot hold as much CO2 in solution….One “problem” mitigates the other”
“Normally the more you know, the closer your opinions are to the truth, but climate change is unique: the more you know, the more you delude yourself.”

By Craig Thomas (not verified) on 25 Mar 2015 #permalink

Dr. Nuccitelli errs when she implies that global warming skeptics make "predictions." Like global warming alarmists, skeptics make only "projections." Predictions differ from projections in the repect that events underlie the former but not the latter. Predictions are made by scientific models. Projections are made by pseudoscientific models.

By Terry Oldberg (not verified) on 31 Mar 2015 #permalink

Terry Oldberg: The effort to redefine commonly used words to suit your ideological world view is a frequent and transparent tactic used by people who believe that their readers are less intelligent than they are. In a nutshell, you're projecting.

Before was GLOBAL WARMING. Then the models' predictions did not pan out , so now is CLIMAT CHNGE. Of course everyone agrees there is climate change. The climate of the world is and will always be changing disregarding what we humans do. The question is, are we so lucky to be able to identify a single element in the climate change equation, that we may be able to control, and therefore change the direction nature is taking us? Wouldn't that be nice! But there is where disagreement exists! The believers of "the release of CO2 caused by humans" being the culprit can not accept any other opinion and do not want to hear anything more about it. The science to them is set!! Any one that still has questions or doubts is battered down, called all sorts of names and not allowed to participate in any of the panels or discussions on the subject.
Dena claims his book has the purpose to "hold climate contrarians accountable for their failed predictions". This group has not made any predictions. They know predictions have to be made by the used of valid models and no model has yet been proved valid. Dana hopes his book will be used by colleges and schools to explain the problem at hand. When you present only one side of an issue, you are indoctrinating rather than teaching. He also sites the importance to have a "true balanced media coverage". Here, the definition of "balance" is not the same of yours or mine. He means to have only a one sided presentation.
Now, the technique has changed, to alarming the public with the eminent incoming of all kinds of natural catastrophic events. So every flood is called "the biggest ever", every hurricane "the most destructive ever", etc., etc. When you go and compare with recorded data of floods, hurricanes, typhoons, forest fires, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, etc. the conclusion is that their frequency and magnitude are about the same or in some cases less.
It would be sad to put all of our efforts and money in curtailing the CO2 to prevent warming and at the end find out it was not the main cause and change happed any way.
Why is the establishment afraid of having a discussion between two groups of uncompromised distinguished scientists from both sides of the issue and determine whether changes of climate can be modified by humans or do we have to prepare for the inevitable that is coming anyway. What we have at risk is survival not politics!!

By Hernandez (not verified) on 06 Apr 2016 #permalink

"Before was GLOBAL WARMING. Then the models’ predictions did not pan out , so now is CLIMAT CHNGE."

Maybe Hernandez can look up what the two letters "CC" in IPCC stand for.

If the opening sentence of what you write is already so deluded, there's no need to read the rest anymore.