Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 12, 2010

QUOTE OF THE DAY.... The British Daily Mail ran a report yesterday with the headline, "Could we be in for 30 years of global COOLING?" The piece told readers, "According to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado, the warming of the Earth since 1900 is due to natural oceanic cycles, and not man-made greenhouse gases."

It led Fox News to report, "30 Years of Global Cooling Are Coming, Leading Scientist Says."

There are, of course, two small problems. First, the National Snow and Ice Data Center said no such thing. The director of the NSIDC said, "This is completely false. NSIDC has never made such a statement and we were never contacted by anyone from the Daily Mail."

Second, the Fox News report cites the research of IPCC scientist Mojib Latif, one of the world's leading climate modelers. The story completely mischaracterizes his work, and gets the story largely backwards.

Latif told Dr. Joseph Romm:

"I don't know what to do. They just make these things up."

Yes, they do. And as long as there are news consumers who prefer the alternative universe these outlets provide, they'll keep making these things up.

Steve Benen 11:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (33)

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Aren't the libel laws in Britain especially fierce?

I think given the fact that global warming denialism is laughable, especially within the profession of climatology, these scientists would have excellent grounds for a defamation of character case.

They could win, but even if they didn't, it'd be nice to put these liars' feet to the fire with a trial that would be well-publicized and serve as a good way to educate the public on whether or not the science is really "disputed" as the idiots insist.

Posted by: TR on January 12, 2010 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

i dont think the "alternate universe" media will always keep making this shit up...

there will be a short period there at the end when they of the "alternate universe" media will be running for their lives and scrambling around too much to file a story...

Posted by: neill on January 12, 2010 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

IIRC, there's a theory that man-made global climate change could potentially trigger a new ice age (though I can't remember what the mechanism is). That's one of the reasons why calling it "global warming" doesn't tell the whole story.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on January 12, 2010 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

It is becoming clear, if it wasn't already, that a full-court press is underway to discredit climate science and scientists. With the science-censoring Bush administration no longer in office, the tactic is now to confuse the issue as much as possible and practice the politics of personal destruction against the messengers, which the media so loves.

In a country as scientifically illiterate as ours, and as generally dumbed down as we are, the corporate media can make up anything it wants, Fox Faux News will sensationalize it even more, and the average person hasn't a clue about what is real or not. Unfortunately, legitimate scientists shun the limelight, and aren't conversant with the political tricks of the right-wing, and/or the corporate media. They lack the tools to defend themselves and their work.

Once again, truth will become what is shouted the loudest and longest by the most ignorant and idiotic fools.

Posted by: rrRk1 on January 12, 2010 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Sequestering of carbon that occurs when plants thrive will deprive the atmosphere of its carbon . That in turn will allow radiated heat to escape from the atmosphere , no longer held by the plentiful greenhouse gas carbon dioxide . That is how I see it , dull as I am .

Posted by: FRP on January 12, 2010 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

Now we just have to wait for George Will's next column in the Washington Post. Would it do any good to give Fred Hiatt a heads up about the expected lies from George?

Posted by: wordtypist on January 12, 2010 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

The quotes attributed to "U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Centre" have now been replaced by "some scientists"

Posted by: Vondo on January 12, 2010 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

The amusing thing is that only a couple of months ago the fair and balanced journalists said that the position of the pro-global warming side had been irrevocably damaged because someone, somewhere fudged some data.

But not a peep from them when the anti-global warming side repeatedly and mendaciously fudges their own data.

Odd.

Posted by: Splitting Image on January 12, 2010 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Astounding. In addition to completely misquoting/misrepresenting their source, the Daily Mail article doesn't even name a single source until the 12th paragraph. Until then it's all clunky passive-voice construction like this: "... global warming will be 'paused' or even reversed, it was claimed." (emphasis mine)

Posted by: Hoosier Paul on January 12, 2010 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Like it or not, the world is going to hell

Their state of denial is non-sustainable...
Sort of like our economy.
(Oil at 83 dollars a barrel in a major global recession?)

Never mind gold...
Better stock up on sugar everyone...
[insert nervous laugh track twitters here.]

Posted by: koreyel on January 12, 2010 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

As with other scientific concepts such as evolution, scientists may be allowed the freedom to do their research, but the meaning and conclusions of that research must be left to scientifically illiterate journalists, politicians, and theologians.

Posted by: qwerty on January 12, 2010 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

Once the severe climate change deniers realize theirs is a losing argument, they will no doubt assuage us all by working to develop a grand pharmacutical pill each of us could take to survive in more harsh conditions while we have sex using our anti-ED pill, after we digest our anti-heartburn pill,right before we take our anti-allergan pill for good measure and all the while sustaining ourselves with the myriad anti-pain releavers all ready available to us.

Yes, deniers think nature and the natural world are overrated! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on January 12, 2010 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Mnemosyne on January 12, 2010 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

As I understand it, the melting of the polar ice caps will result in a huge influx of colder water that will eventually bring the average ocean temperatures down a few degrees which could very well trigger an ice age.

I've always thought global warming was not necessarily accurate; rather; I refer to it as catastrophic climate change. As for the natural cycles that the right wing uses so often to debunk warming all together, I simply ask them if that's the case then don't you think we should take steps to decelerate that process?

Posted by: citizen_pain on January 12, 2010 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone should buy the latest Rolling Stone and read the article on the major players actively working against the generally accepted theory of global warming causes. It may be a tad dramatic, but they would say these are dramatic times. As for FOX and the Daily Mail, I am not suprised.

Posted by: Kurt on January 12, 2010 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

OMG! They found us out!!

Since the jig is up, I will share what this whole thing is about: It's all a plan to make scientists and Al Gore rich beyond their wildest dreams.

It all started a few decades ago, when scientists used their secret Time Machine to travel back in time and made coal and oil to be the two primary sources of energy in America and, eventually, the world. By doing so, they ensured all that burning carbon would build up in the atmosphere.

Then, in the 1960s, their plans were almost shot to hell with the birth of the modern environmental movement, and then the early 1970s oil embargo. In both cases, there was a push for alternative, more sustainable energy sources. Luckily, the scientists came up with a couple of clever rouses:

1. Stating that we were headed for another Ice Age (which, thanks to their time machine, they knew was false).

2. Convincing those once-Earth-loving Baby Boomers to become the most selfish generation ever, making the accumulation of massive wealth and the waste of resources top priorities.

They followed that up by working with car designers to create the SUV -- especially the Hummer.

It was only then that they unleashed their trap!

They claimed that the Earth was warming, had piles of data and records to back it up, and had those poor oil companies (like scapegoat and $40-billion-a-year-in-profits ExxonMobil) right where they wanted them. They had countless examples of ways people unleashed carbon into the atmosphere, and how that carbon would wind up destroying the planet.

They know that once global warming is accepted by most people, governments will be forced to take action. Which is exactly what scientists want, because then they can amass their fortunes and take over the world.

And how will they do this?

Carbon credits and grant money.

You see, unlike oil companies or energy providers who make billions under the current system (and who would never, ever, under any circumstances, have reason to lie to keep that system in place), scientists can make millions by lying about climate change and changing that system.

Each scientist can almost guarantee a few grand in grants to do half of his or her own research, and Al Gore will grow even fatter since every dime paid for a carbon credit goes straight into his bank account (bet you didn't know that, didjya?).

It all makes perfect sense now, doesn't it?

I could tell you what happens next, but I've already shared too much ...

[ /sarcasm ]

Posted by: Mark D on January 12, 2010 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

citizen_pain wrote: "I've always thought global warming was not necessarily accurate; rather; I refer to it as catastrophic climate change."

Catastrophic climate change is a consequence of global warming.

I prefer to use the phrase "anthropogenic global warming and consequent climate change".

Yes, the Earth is warming overall -- and the warming is rapid and extreme. And some consequences of that warming, such as the melting of glaciers and polar ice, and the rising sea levels (both from melting ice and from thermal expansion of the oceans), and more frequent extreme heat waves, and increased duration and intensity of hurricanes (which draw energy from heat), are intuitively easy to understand as the results of that warming.

Other climate effects are not quite so intuitively easy to understand as effects of warming, for example changes in precipitation patterns.

With regard to the "theory that man-made global climate change could potentially trigger a new ice age" that Mnemosyne mentioned, I suspect that what is meant is the theory that changes in the salinity and temperature of the North Atlantic, resulting from direct warming and from an influx of fresh water from melting polar ice, could disrupt oceanic currents (e.g. the Gulf Stream) that bring warm water into the North Atlantic, thus warming Britain, northern Europe and the northeastern coastal regions of North America.

In the absence of the warming waters of the Gulf Stream these regions would become colder, with a climate more like that of Siberia. This would not quite rise to the level of an "ice age" and it would be a regional rather than global effect. It would, however, have disastrous consequences for both agriculture and human habitability in the affected regions.

And of course other parts of the Earth will experience their own particular disastrous regional effects, such as continent-wide decade-long mega-droughts.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 12, 2010 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

I am still waiting for the denialists to list the scientific papers they want withdrawn or amended because of the use of fraudulent data. I suspect I will be waiting a long time.

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on January 12, 2010 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK


I read the Fox article, and it is actually pretty responsible.

It is true that the headline doesn't quite capture the story, and one sentence about the warming being 50% cycles (and not saying that the other 50% is manmade) but overall it ain't that bad.

Let's save the ire for when it is needed--like when leading politicians deny climate change.

Posted by: Bryan Jones on January 12, 2010 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

For US residents who aren't familiar with the Daily Mail: the character of Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter books is a Daily Mail reader.

Posted by: Brock on January 12, 2010 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Bryan -- Sorry, no, it is that bad. Go to this page http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jan/11/climate-change-global-warming-mojib-latif to see what Mojib Latif himself has to say about it.

Posted by: Bob L. on January 12, 2010 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

QWERTY: As with other scientific concepts such as evolution, scientists may be allowed the freedom to do their research, but the meaning and conclusions of that research must be left to scientifically illiterate journalists, politicians, and theologians.

Damn skippy!

Posted by: chrenson on January 12, 2010 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

I thought FOX NEWS had a zero tolerance policy for on-screen errors? I assume somebody will be fired for this (sorry, did I just make an ass of you and me?).

Posted by: kp on January 12, 2010 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Please don't tie the Progressive agenda to climate change. Most of us on this board are not scientists. We are taking someone's word for these predictions. Few, if any, of us are able to evaluate this stuff.
It is wise to conserve and we ought to do it but do not give the yahoos an opening by making this a settled issue. There is room for doubt and we should not fear it.

Posted by: hornblower on January 12, 2010 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

hornblower wrote: "Please don't tie the Progressive agenda to climate change ... There is room for doubt and we should not fear it."

Anthropogenic global warming and consequent climate change are empirically observed scientific realities which have nothing whatsoever to do with any political ideology or agenda, whether "progressive" or "conservative" or otherwise.

There is NO doubt that human activities, principally the burning of fossil fuels, as well as deforestation and livestock production, are releasing vast amounts of carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse gases" into the atmosphere. This is an empirically observed FACT.

There is NO doubt that the anthropogenic increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 and other GHGs is causing the Earth system to retain more of the Sun's energy, and thus to heat up. This is an empirically observed FACT.

There is NO doubt that the anthropogenic warming of the Earth system is ALREADY causing rapid, extreme and very dangerous changes to the Earth's climate, hydrosphere, cryosphere and biosphere. This is an empirically observed FACT.

These FACTS are indeed fearsome. But it won't help to fearfully refuse to face them, or to go along with the BIG LIE -- promoted by the fossil fuel corporations who are driven by reckless, rapacious GREED -- that global warming is some sort of "liberal" or "progressive" ideology or agenda.

So-called "conservatives" have destroyed their credibility for proposing solutions to the problem of global warming, by refusing to acknowledge that the problem even exists.

You appear to be urging "progressives" to do the same. That's stupid.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 12, 2010 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK
Anthropogenic global warming and consequent climate change are empirically observed scientific realities which have nothing whatsoever to do with any political ideology or agenda, whether "progressive" or "conservative" or otherwise.

THANK YOU!

People need to remember that progressives/liberals didn't tie themselves to this issue.

Rather, the GOP decided it was bad for corporate profits, and thus decided to ignore the undeniable scientific consensus because it was a political winner for them and their base.

Thus, the left was stuck trying to defend science against people who ignore that science when it conflicts with their decided-upon ideology. Hell, many deniers think humans and dinosaurs walked the Earth together, so we have to remember they're not always the sharpest tools in the shed.

While I see where hornblower is going, and love SA's defense of the facts, it's important to remember that we liberals didn't pick this fight -- we're just standing up for reality.

Posted by: Mark D on January 12, 2010 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Mark D wrote: "... the GOP decided it was bad for corporate profits, and thus decided to ignore the undeniable scientific consensus because it was a political winner for them and their base."

Actually, I see it a bit differently. The so-called "conservative" denial of global warming has little to do with ideology, and everything to do with GREED.

ExxonMobil and the other fossil fuel mega-corporations realized decades ago that the rapid phase-out of their products required to respond to the problem of global warming would inevitably lead to a massive transfer of wealth from themselves to other sectors of the economy.

Driven by their greed for the trillions of dollars in profit that they expected to reap from business-as-usual, ever-increasing consumption of fossil fuels over the next several decades, they mounted a generation-long campaign of deceit, denial and obstruction. Remember, every single DAY that they can perpetuate business-as-usual consumption of fossil fuels means tens of millions of dollars in profit.

The bought-and-paid-for corporate stooges of the GOP, as well as so-called "moderate" Democrats, are just one of the tools in the fossil fuel corporations' massive campaign of deception and obstruction -- along with the ExxonMobil-funded propaganda mills masquerading as "conservative" think tanks, and the bought-and-paid-for talk radio bloviators masquerading as "conservative" ideologues, and the cranks and frauds masquerading as "skeptics".

The GOP, and the phony "conservative" media, and the weak-minded, ignorant, gullible Ditto-Heads alike are all just tools of the fossil fuel corporations. Their so-called "conservative" pseudo-ideology is just as phony as their pseudo-science.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 12, 2010 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

SA--
Excellent comment. Though I should note that I didn't make myself very clear: for the GOP, greed is central to their ideology. It's one of it's pillars and pretty much hovers over everything they do.

So we're on the same page. We're just reading different sentences.

:-)

Posted by: Mark D on January 12, 2010 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, SecularAnimist, for being here. I'm pretty sure you wish you didn't have to keep playing the same centuries old song, while the tone deaf try, without success, to pick out the notes. They're not very talented and sound terribly bad, but they sure do have a loud megaphone. Please don't stop trying though.

Posted by: catman306 on January 12, 2010 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

I expect this will not be well received here, but I think there is still much to be debated about whether man-made (anthropogenic if you will) global warming is real or not.

Consider: The global temperature measurements could not be considered global until at least the nineteen sixties, before that they were measurements of temperature in Europe and North America.

Consider: The rise in temperatures almost matched the rise in the atmospheric carbon content perfectly until the late 1990s/early 2000s but then a funny thing happened; carbon content kept going up, but temperatures over the last few years have leveled off. These are the hottest years on record, but the record is only reliable for 50 years.

Consider the estimated total volume of global ice has dropped only by about 00.03% since 1960. The Arctic Ocean Pack Ice, West Antartic Ice Sheet and Western Ice Shelves have lost significant ice, but The East Antarctic Ice Sheet has grown by almost the same amount.

Now I'm not saying I disagree with the Theory of Man-made Global Warming, but there are just as many special interests with a vested interest in selling it as there are that are interested in denying it. Those billions that wouldn't go to Exxon will have to go somewhere.

Personally I think we need to get away from coal and oil because I like to breath, preferably clean air. I would also prefer to not depend on foreign sources for energy, but that's just me.

I'm just saying there IS still room for debate because in science there is ALWAYS room for debate. That doesn't necessarily mean we can't prepare for the worst, but anyone that is definite one way or the other is selling something.

Posted by: C-Red on January 12, 2010 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

C-Red wrote: "I think there is still much to be debated about whether man-made (anthropogenic if you will) global warming is real or not."

You are wrong. It's really as simple as that. You are just plain wrong.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 12, 2010 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

Latif was misquoted, apparently on several occasions over the last year and a half. He actually has said that noticeable global warming will resume about 2015, not 2020 or 2030. He does appear to have said that about 50% of the warming of late 70s to late 90s was due to natural oscillations other than CO2 accumulation. If he is correct, that still portends considerable warming as CO2 increases, though later and slower than you might expect after exposure to "An Inconvenient Truth".

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 12, 2010 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

Mega corporations would benefit more by denying anthropogenic global warming was happening when it was more than scientists would benefit by pretending that anthropogenic global warming was taking place when it wasn't.

Posted by: Marcia Earth on January 13, 2010 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

Hi. Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear. Help me! I can not find sites on the: College scholarship for people with disabilites. I found only this - christian college scholarship. College scholarships, they are lastly african in the science of the scholarship supports within the university. Helping in 1879, he instructed that fewer works from the contract were looking prospective students in scholarships, and that more full-scale payments were emerging to provide at difficult oxford parents in win to jesus, college scholarships. With love :-(, Oran from Grenada.

Posted by: Oran on March 6, 2010 at 1:32 AM | PERMALINK
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