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Tilting at Windmills

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November 25, 2008

'THE GORE EFFECT'.... The Politico's Erika Lovley has two published pieces today on politics and global warming, and they're both surprisingly bad.

The first appears under the headline, "Scientists urge caution on global warming." Lovley's article reports, "Climate change skeptics on Capitol Hill are quietly watching a growing accumulation of global cooling science and other findings that could signal that the science behind global warming may still be too shaky to warrant cap-and-trade legislation."

David Roberts explained, "The most notable feature of this 'growing accumulation of global cooling science' is that Lovely doesn't cite a single piece of it. Seriously. Not one."

Indeed, the piece focused heavily on the work of Weather Channel founder Joseph D'Aleo, a conservative meteorologist (not a climate scientist) and infamous global warming denier, and quotes a variety of conservatives who are on the same page, including Marc Morano, a notorious far-right Hill staffer for James Inhofe.

How many scientists are quoted defending the global warming consensus of the scientific community? Zero. Lovley's article reads like something one might find on World Net Daily.

The second piece -- same publication, same writer, same topic -- is even more insulting.

For several years now, skeptics have amusedly eyed a phenomenon known as "The Gore Effect" to half-seriously argue their case against global warming.

The so-called Gore Effect happens when a global warming-related event, or appearance by the former vice president and climate change crusader, Al Gore, is marked by exceedingly cold weather or unseasonably winter weather.

For instance, in March, 2007, a Capitol Hill media briefing on the Senate's new climate bill was cancelled due to a snowstorm.

On Oct. 22, Gore's global warming speech at Harvard University coincided with near 125-year record-breaking low temperatures. And less than a week later, on Oct. 28, the British House of Commons held a marathon debate on global warming during London's first October snowfall since 1922.

While there's no scientific proof that The Gore Effect is anything more than a humorous coincidence, some climate skeptics say it may offer a snapshot of proof that the planet isn't warming as quickly as some climate change advocates say.

For crying out loud. A few global warming deniers think cold weather undermines climate change, and the Politico feels comfortable telling readers that snowstorms "may offer a snapshot of proof"? Seriously?

The Politico did some solid campaign reporting this year. Here's hoping Lovley's articles are an aberration, and not the kind of "journalism" readers can expect as the political world transitions from campaign mode to governing.

Steve Benen 3:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (43)

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Comments

Here's hoping Lovely's articles are an aberration, and not the kind of "journalism" readers can expect as the political world transitions from campaign mode to governing.

If you believe that, then you are more gullible than Politico's regular readers who are some of the stupidest people on the face of the earth.

Posted by: Get a Clue on November 25, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

After "second piece" (selectable link), should read, "same publication, SAME writer, SAME topic".

Minor correction, but articles criticizing journalistic efforts should themselves be free of mistakes, or the critic risks being dismissed as a strident whackjob.

Posted by: Mark on November 25, 2008 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, that's got to be a new low for the Politico. It's almost mind-numbingly stupid.

Hint to journalists: when writing about anything tangentially related to science, you might want to consult an actual scientist or two. If that idea makes you uncomfortable, you might want to stick to writing about fashion or Hollywood or something vapid like that.

Posted by: J on November 25, 2008 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

It's Politico. They have about as much journalistic credibility as Faux News.

My advice Steve is to stop using them as sources or even posting about them.

People just need to stop paying attention to groups like them who are consistently wrong about everything important in life - kind of like people need to stop paying attention to Bill. Kristol.

Because when you do, you give them the wedge into the debate they need to cloud issues, dirty up debate and slow progress to solving these problems.

Posted by: Mathew on November 25, 2008 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Why would you find anything published at Politico to be surprisingly bad?

Posted by: Chris Brown on November 25, 2008 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

It's "Erika Lovley," not "Lovely."

Posted by: John on November 25, 2008 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Almost as good as printing ...

"some climate skeptics say it may offer proof that the planet is in the control of mole men from the center of the earth."

Bah.

Posted by: biggerbox on November 25, 2008 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Quoting Mark Morano as an expert on climate change is like quoting Genghis Khan as a pacifist, Francisco Franco as a paragon of democracy, or John Waters as an exemplar of good taste and refinement.

What on earth was this Erika Lovely person thinking?

Posted by: J on November 25, 2008 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

The question is not how repugnant, or stupidly malicious, readers of this blog find The Politico as a source of political news and commentary, but how much weight they swing in that community. I'm afraid I don't know, I'm not a regular reader. Is Politico broadly influential? How much damage might they do with their antiscience? If the answer is, "not much", then it likely isn't a big problem. The dominant camps have their minds made up on global warming anyway, and nobody who relies on scientific evidence is going to change their mind based on this.

I do agree, however, that the tendency of some pundits to invent a body of evidence/informed opinion that doesn't exist is annoying.

Posted by: Mark on November 25, 2008 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't read her piece, but the part quoted here makes the point that she doesn't actually quote any of the mentioned "accumulation of global cooling science." Notice that she is also concerned only with Capitol Hill skeptics, not with anyone who knows anything about the matter or works in the area.

This is symptomatic of the biggest failure in our educational system in the realm of science. People in general really do not grasp the concept that science deals with reality. They think that science is something you can vote on or mess with the way a lawyer messes with facts and the law in court. It doesn't work that way. Science is the study of reality and reality goes on its own way whether we like it or believe it or wish it were different. You don't deny reality. All you can do is adjust to it. And if you don't know what it is, which is where science comes in, then you can't adjust to it. But grasping the concept of reality is the first part of coming to grips with reality, and people who for whatever ideological reason - religion, politics, occupation, whatever - refuse to acknowledge reality are the ones who lose, and if there are enough of them, they take the rest of us down with them.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on November 25, 2008 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Even on the most insipid local newscasts, they seem to delight in scaring viewers with the "extreme weather" and "climate changes" that they admit have been appearing for several years now. Wouldn't you have to dig pretty deep into your journalism bag to conflate the fact that we still have snow with, "everything is okay"? Are we going backwards again?

Posted by: m.e.b. on November 25, 2008 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

John "Happy Talk/Bad Toupee" Coleman is the Weather Channel founder/global warming denier. According to D'Aleo's website (icecap.us), he doesn't claim to be a founder of TWC, and he claims Coleman was the founder. D'Aleo claims he was the first Chief Meteorologist at TWC.

Politic-ho can't even get that right.

Posted by: Roger Ailes on November 25, 2008 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

While there's no scientific proof that The Gore Effect is anything more than a humorous coincidence, some climate skeptics say it may offer a snapshot of proof that the planet isn't warming as quickly as some climate change advocates say.

"While there's no scientific proof....some say...it may offer a snapshot of proof...."

Well? So which is it? There's no scientific proof or it "may" offer a snapshot of proof? How can it offer a snapshot of proof if she's just said there's no proof? For god's sakes, this is within the same sentence!

And one has to love the Fox-approved "some say."

Posted by: Stefan on November 25, 2008 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

J,

You leave John Waters out of this; that man is a glorious new level of refinement. "The Gore Effect" is just shiny to the simple minded, and there are droves of them..

Posted by: The Galloping Trollop on November 25, 2008 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

It's called "winter," not "global cooling." These people are just blatant idiots.

Posted by: impeachcheneythenbush on November 25, 2008 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

There is a lot of really good science that says if we don't do something serious in the next four years or so we will have passed the point of no return. Of course there is also some good evidence showing that we've already passed that point.

I take comfort in the fact that I will most likely be dead before the really bad climate change stuff hits. And since I don't have any kids I don't have to carry any guilt for world that's being left behind.

Posted by: thorin-1 on November 25, 2008 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

"Global cooling science" sounds rather similar to "creation science". If you just put the word "science" after the name of your myth, instant credibility. At least with people who are ignorant and either extremely lazy or extremely gullible—which seems to include nearly all journalists, the exceptions are few enough as to be negligible for all practical purposes.

Posted by: cmdicely on November 25, 2008 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

"The Politico did some solid campaign reporting this year. "

They did?

Posted by: Sebastian on November 25, 2008 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

"While there's no scientific proof....some say...it may offer a snapshot of proof...."

Well? So which is it? There's no scientific proof or it "may" offer a snapshot of proof? How can it offer a snapshot of proof if she's just said there's no proof? For god's sakes, this is within the same sentence!

It's not proof, it's proofiness!

Congratulations, Politico -- you're the laughingstock of the blogosphere today.

Posted by: J on November 25, 2008 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Lovley's articles are pathetic, but you're ceding way too much to them when you write phrases like:

"...focused heavily on the work of Weather Channel founder Joseph D'Aleo..."

The key to distinguishing science from pseudoscience, whether the issue is evolution, global warming, vaccines, or animal rights, is that the pseudoscientists don't do any real scientific work (producing new data from attempting to falsify their own hypotheses).

They frame science as a debate held before an ignorant public, who act as judges, and frame work as writing essays. They quote people instead of citing data.

Posted by: John on November 25, 2008 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

I think the actual "Gore Effect" is that braindead gossip-mongers still imagine that Gore is a joke and that anything associated with him is as phony as it is hilarious. And so they'll go out of their way to find connections which show that Gore is a bozo; even if it requires them to completely embarrass themselves in areas they know nothing about.

Destroying Gore's reputation with these fools is the one thing the Bushies ever really got right. Everything else eventually blew up in their faces, including winning the presidency. But the Gore Effect lives on.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on November 25, 2008 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Many (including the staff of Politico, apparently) labour under the misapprehension that global warming necessarily means every place is experiencing elevated temperatures, and that any other result is contradictory evidence. The broad category of Climate Change is quite clear that elevated temperature in some areas is manifested as an abrupt and significant change in weather patterns elsewhere. Politico goes so far as aknowledging that some dramatic effects are record-breakers, but then airily dismisses them because they weren't accompanied by warmer temperatures. Climate change may well someday see the island on which I live mostly under water. In that case, it would hardly be warmer than it is now, so that must mean it would be an improvement. Thanks, Politico!

Posted by: Mark on November 25, 2008 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Joseph Romm's rebuttal to the article - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joseph-romm/the-politico-pimps-global_b_146362.html


And here's why Politico should treated just like Faux News:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/05/04/politico_funding/

Posted by: Mathew on November 25, 2008 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Who needs science and research when you have publicists and media outlets?

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on November 25, 2008 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

I would love to wake up one morning and discover that we had been through a bad collective dream and there was global cooling. Time to cut more firewood and stock up on spiced cider!

Unfortunately we seem to have 98% agreement in the scientific community. My father's scientific publications rarely reached 70% agreement on any theory. Science is the art of skepticism in search of the truth. Ms. Lovley has conflated skepticism and doubt with the search for truth.

I'd rather have the best data and theories as a guide than have whacked out skepticism.

Proofiness - yes, absolutely. It's the motto on Politico's Coat of Arms. (lot of good that will do them when the going gets tough)

Posted by: D Pecan on November 25, 2008 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Mark >"...The broad category of Climate Change is quite clear that elevated temperature in some areas is manifested as an abrupt and significant change in weather patterns elsewhere...."

Earth (the island/spaceship we live on) is, one might suggest, a dynamic system that behaves according to cybernetic laws. We don`t know what all those laws are but we are learning and shall learn more as our island/spaceship demonstrates the consequences of our previous irresponsible behavior in abuse of some of those laws. Our climate system seems to be headed into a less stable mode than most of our industrial/political systems have evolved under. Less "reliability" so to say. Dicey for we high primates (not to mention many of our co-passengers) !

Follow what some climate scientists think about all this.

"...it's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine..." - REM

Posted by: daCascadian on November 25, 2008 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

A few global warming deniers think cold weather undermines climate change, and the Politico feels comfortable telling readers that snowstorms "may offer a snapshot of proof"?

And more importantly displays just how little they know about Global Climate change. Due to overall warming, we will see more extreme weather events both hot and cold.

Perfect example of why Joyner has a hard time finding serious writers on the right. They cherry pick and use individual data points to make an argument in order to dumb down the complexity that is AGW.

Posted by: Simp on November 25, 2008 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

They think that science is something you can vote on or mess with the way a lawyer messes with facts and the law in court. It doesn't work that way.

While I agree with Texas Aggie that scientific questions should not be determined by who shouts the loudest and spends the most money, unfortunately that line between science and advocacy was crossed long ago when the Supreme Court allowed industry associations to turn challenges to the scientific basis for EPA and OSHA regulations into marathons in which the industry lawyers spend millions of dollars to delay new regulations for years. They fought ergonomics, limits on chemical exposure and arsenic standards that way; why would they approach global warming any differently?

We haven't seen that yet, but then Bush's EPA is refusing to exercise the authority to regulate in this area, even after the Supreme Court said it could.

Posted by: Henry on November 25, 2008 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

"The Politico did some solid campaign reporting this year."

That's like saying that George Bush did some good things as President becuase he kept collecting taxes on time. Honestly, how could the Politico NOT have done some solid campaign reporting this year, given both the historic nature of Obama's victory, the stakes, and the number of reporters they had on the beat?

The truth is, the Politico is a tabloid web site, devoted to center-right hype and spin. Its two leading voices -- Jim VandeHei and John Harris -- were also leading voices spreading Rovian talking points for the past eight years. Harris is actually a blithering idiot, but VandeHei is more in the vein of a lying sack of shit.

It was Jim VandeHei who, for years, insisted that the GOP had a "vaunted 72-hour ground game" that the Democrats simply couldn't compete with. That his belief in this mirage came right from Rove's mouth, and overlaps a period of Republican dominance predicated on terrorizing American voters about another 9/11, was never really addressed. Now that the Republicans have gotten their asses handed to them in two successive national elections, where are Jim's articles about the 72-hour ground game? I mean, did that entire apparatus just disappear, or was it never really real to begin with.

Politico is not to be trusted. They are a money-making organization selling rumor and gossip, backed by Republicans who have an agenda. If they screwed up and actually did some decent reporting this last cycle, you can bet they're working hard to make sure that doesn't happen again.

Posted by: The Phantom on November 25, 2008 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

There is just something about human nature. We will deny that which has been proven virtually beyond any doubt (evolution, O.J. did it, tobacco kills), and believe that which is not only spectacularly implausible, but for which there is not a single shred of evidence (that Jesus was the son of some personal god, that the universe was created exactly as stipulated in Genesis I, even though though Genesis I and II contradict each other as to the origin of humankind).

And in huge numbers, if not the vast majorities.

It's a wonder we have any science at all.

Posted by: hark on November 25, 2008 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

That's why it's best to frame the discussion as Global Climate Change rather than Global Warming. All it takes is one wingnut in North Dakota with a thermometer telling him it's cold to seed doubt in the rest of the wingnut and lo info world.

Posted by: JWK on November 25, 2008 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

This is a strawman: "A few global warming deniers think cold weather undermines climate change..."

In reality, AGW skeptics, many of them scientists, think continual cold weather in a decade with no global temperature increase, along with no proven link of human impact, nor any physical effects to point to, undermine the scare claims of *natural* climate change deniers.

Posted by: Ross on November 25, 2008 at 9:54 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, skeptics point to 9 consecutive years of decreasing global temperatures amidst increase atmospheric levels of CO2 to point out that the models simply don't work. Only Hansen shows any warming in th past 9 years, and has been proven a fraud -- he simply makes up the numbers he wants, including numbers from 70 years ago.

Posted by: Bill Hennessy on November 25, 2008 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

The trouble with the arguments here is they are ABOUT science, not science. Without denying globle warming, which seems to be happening, it's more complicated than more co2. Item, more energy comes from the sun during sunspots. Item 2, sunspots have been increasing in number and intensity for 100 years. Mars has been warming on a scale of decades. Caused by the same effect? Item 3, jet contrails cause low level clouds that seem to block surface radiation at night. During the halt of jet flight caused by 9/11 the average tempreture of the 48 states dropped a degree C.
The vast smudge clouds that are sent in the atmosphere over Asia and India lower the strength of sunlight striking the earth. This has changed monsoon patterns leading to drought in Afganistan, amoung other places.

Posted by: rollingmyeyes on November 25, 2008 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

Once again, a reminder that the Politico was founded by a Bushie and long-time right wing financier, and that Van Der Hei was a long-time kool-aid drinker who never questioned the Republicans and got along famously with the now righter-than-the-Washington-Times management of the paper formerly known as the Washington Post, now the Washington Pest.

For every one good thing the Politico does, there are five bad things. They need to be seen for the right wing propaganda machine they are and treated as such - as in stop taking their bullshit seriously.

Posted by: TCinLA on November 26, 2008 at 2:05 AM | PERMALINK

Someone is going to take a person who admits to being a "Texas Aggie" seriously about anything?

There's a reason all those "Texas Aggie jokes" exist - it's because they aren't jokes. Those people really are admitted to that place for demonstrated moron stupidity.

Posted by: TCinLA on November 26, 2008 at 2:11 AM | PERMALINK

A snapshot of proof is a piece of evidence which by itself does not put anyone to jail. After a zillion of snapshots, you get a climate. The IPCC AR4 SPM predicts on page 12:

For the next two decades, a warming of about
0.2�C per decade is projected for a range of SRES
emission scenarios. Even if the concentrations of
all greenhouse gases and aerosols had been kept
constant at year 2000 levels, a further warming of
about 0.1�C per decade would be expected. {10.3,
10.7}
after stating
Since IPCC�s first report in 1990, assessed projections have suggested global average temperature increases between about 0.15�C and 0.3�C per decade for 1990 to 2005. This can now be compared with observed values of about 0.2�C per decade, strengthening confidence in near-term projections. {1.2, 3.2}

FACTS: This is NOT happening. The warming 2001-2008 is ZERO as of now, without there being a major volcano. (This goes for both HadCrut3 land-ocean and RSS MSU lower troposphere). The warming 1991-2000 was about 0.16°C.

Posted by: climatepatrol on November 26, 2008 at 7:13 AM | PERMALINK

http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Nov08/SoilBlackCarbon.kr.html

Not sure how this fits in but it is a source she could have found without much effort.

Posted by: JM on November 26, 2008 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

"It's called "winter," not "global cooling." These people are just blatant idiots."

says the idiot who can't read a calendar...

Posted by: rhodeymark on November 26, 2008 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Re-comment above: It's not winter in the Southern Hemisphere, yet it's cooler down here, too.

Posted by: Ross on November 26, 2008 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

From the beginning I've always felt Politico's bipartisan pretensions to be a smokescreen for a decidedly right-wing agenda.

I was greatly pleased when C-SPAN dropped their Capitol News wire. I wrote them complaining how Politico's top politics guy was a partisan Republican.

Posted by: Joshua Simeon Narins on November 26, 2008 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Well, if cold weather couldn't undermine warming, what could?


Posted by: Harry Eagar on November 26, 2008 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

"The second piece -- same publication, same writer, same topic -- is even more insulting."

Pretty much what we had in mind, thanks!

Posted by: richard mcenroe on November 26, 2008 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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